No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

February, 2016

Since I have so much leisure time, I have been reading up on Greek and Roman philosophy. I struck gold with the discovery of Epicurus (a stoic philosopher). With some adjustments for modern times, I find his advice very compelling. Pleasure, virtue, prudence, sober reasoning and tranquility are Epicurus' goals for living a good life.

"When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not
mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality,
as we are understood to do by some through ignorance,
prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the
absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an
unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual
lust, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a
luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober
reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and
avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the
greatest tumults take possession of the soul. Of all this the
beginning and the greatest good is wisdom. Therefore wisdom is
a more precious thing even than philosophy; from it springs all the
other virtues, for it teaches that we cannot live pleasantly without
living wisely, honorably, and justly; nor live wisely, honorably, and
justly without living pleasantly. For the virtues have grown into
one with a pleasant life, and a pleasant life is inseparable from
them."
Epicurus, in his letter to Monoeceus

How a should a human live to have a good life? This is an extremely important question that everyone should examine for themselves. The world would be a much better place if people would ask themselves why they are doing what they are doing.

This month, I am spending much of my time in a free campground near a free hot spring in Southern California, near the Mexican border. It is a real pleasure to be here due to the warm weather and the daily dip in the hot spring, which is a social event with the other campers here.

I visited a natural spring that I had heard about and discovered using aerial photos. After a long walk through the dusty desert I came upon muddy pools of water that had been used as a dumping ground in the 50's or 60's. Beautiful birds attracted to the rare standing water flitted their way through mounds of broken glass, debris and tires. So many beautiful places have been spoiled.

I have been asked to get a phone by several people.

It is silly not to be able to get a weather report
not to be able to get texts from others
not to be able to call others
not to be part of conversation among groups
not to be able to research things on the internet

But, at the same time, it is therapeutic not to have a phone or be connected to the internet.
Despite my constant agonizing over whether to get a phone plan, I still do not have one.
Sometimes I wonder if my escapism from media and communication is a weakness or mental issue. It probably is but at least I recognize the issue and have responded in a way that seems to benefit me. Besides, as soon as I get a decent WiFi connection I start wasting time watching funny gifs on Reddit as my top priority for use of bandwidth.

This month I faced a couple of tests.

I had to replace the fresh water pump in the van, which had failed. A Class B camper van is a pain when it comes to repairing things. I had to remove a partition in order to access a pipe, which took a few hours. There are some areas where the pipes are completely inaccesible, such as behind tanks. I recommend building a more simple camper van to anyone considering van camping. I passed this test but did not do so well on the peace of mind aspect, I panicked to a certain degree and was in some mental distress for the three days of repair.

The second test was getting a cold, which was a test of liveability of the camper van. Dealing with a cold in a camper van is not much different than at home.

We drove to San Diego and stayed a few days. A beautiful city, perhaps the nicest I have seen. Despite lots of traffic and constant jet and helicopter noise, it was a very attractive city. I considered getting a job and settling down.

The people that I met were friendly but there seemed to be a war on homelessness, and people living in vans were the target of the moment. There were overnight parking restrictions everywhere, and other vandwellers complained of tickets and harrassment.

Everyone I met was friendly, but still there was a weird vibe of paranoia, with everyone warning me about getting ticketed. During the time that we camped in a beautiful waterfront location, there were RVers in decrepit RVs parked overnight in city parks with no tickets issued while we camped there. But after a few days, I felt that the mental healing that I had gained in the desert was getting worn away.

On top of this, it was difficult to find a way to fill my fresh water tank, apparently regulations in response to the drought required most water spigots to be locked up. I probably could have found a source eventually, but I got tired of asking and looking for a water spigot. After three days, I decided to return to the desert so that I could get water and to get away from the traffic.

I did eventually find a water source thanks to a kind gas station manager, but by that time I was near the top of the mountain, trying to escape from the city and its sociopsychological disorders. A sign that I have recently seen posted in many California businesses is "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". A great customer service statement to set right out there where everyone can see it. This pretty much sums up my experience in California. In many ways, California reminds me of Chicago, bad drivers, heavy traffic and strange customs. Time to head east. But not too fast, it is still blizzarding at home.

I like California very much (despite the silliness) and am very tempted to start applying for jobs. I would like some toys and to add to my savings. There is also a desire to use the skills that I have. However, we are rolling back east at the moment, and just crossed the Arizona state line.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

I recently reviewed this essay with the help of other students of Epicurus and revised sections 16 and 18. Here is the revised version:



The Pursuit of Happiness: 21 Steps to Continuous Life Improvement


Learning how to examine one's life and change it to maximize happiness is a very powerful skill. Increasing one's tranquility and happiness can lift the human spirit to a high level of grace and dignity.


In this text, we propose a process of examining one's life and carefully reconstructing it to maximize tranquility and happiness. We encourage each reader to examine his own life and make improvements based on his own judgment and free will.


This strategy is not for everyone: it requires a certain level of discipline to be able to choose behavior and action that benefits one's life over the long term, rather than selecting instant gratification. If one is able to make decisions with maturity, the process of Continuous Life Improvement can lift one to a high level of happiness and contentment.


1. Be Sensitive and Learn From Your Senses!


Listen to what your body is telling you about the world. Your senses are your most direct and real connection with the physical world, and should be trusted more than dreams, imagination, things that you have heard from others or what you have been taught by others. Be sensitive to how your mind/body processes and reacts to physical sensations, and learn to recognize and distinguish negative sensations (pain) from positive sensations (pleasure).


Our written language is somewhat limited in the meanings it can convey through a single word. The words "pain" and "pleasure" are not adequate to describe the positive and negative sensations which we receive from our environment. Some synonyms for pain that one may sense include distress, dismay, discomfort, worry, anxiety, disturbance, fear, bother, discontent, displeasure, stress, distastefulness and unpleasantness. Synonyms for pleasure that one may sense include joy, peace, relief, comfort, contentment, enjoyment and satisfaction.


Learn to recognize which of your own feelings are positive, and which are negative by "listening" to or being aware of your own senses. Try to connect events, behaviors and actions which trigger these positive and negative feelings to identify cause and effect for positive and negative feelings.


Many sensations are not strongly painful or pleasurable, but one can often recognize that the body prefers one behavior over another, for example, depending on the outdoor temperature, the body may prefer sunshine to shade, or vice versa. Be open to these types of subtle sensations, both positive and negative.


2. Respond to Negative Feedback!


Be conscious of negative sensations and identify the actions, behaviors and situations that cause them. Find ways to change those behaviors to reduce or eliminate the negative sensations. Negative sensations include pain, discomfort, distress, anxiety, stress and fear.


When you recognize a negative sensation, try to determine which behavior or action caused the negative sensation and change it. Continually be aware of your sensations and strategically make changes in your life that relieve negative sensations. Eliminating behavior and actions that are the cause of negative sensations is a very powerful way to improve one's life. Repeating this process over time will create enormous improvement in one's life.


3. Be Rational!


The senses occur in the present moment, so one must use the rational mind to evaluate the cause of that sensation, which may have happened in the past. For example, "after drinking that tea, I became somewhat nervous and agitated...", which might lead you to suspect that drinking that type of tea causes a certain level of distress. One can then eliminate this behavior to reduce one's level of distress.


It is not always clear which behavior caused which sensation. The rational process of identifying cause and effect is an important skill and requires one to recall one's actions over time and discover clues that indicate which behavior affected one's sense of well being. Use cause and effect analysis to choose how to modify your behavior to reduce negative sensations.


4. Develop a Strategy!


A behavior or action which causes a negative sensation should be modified or eliminated to reduce the negative sensation. There may be a number of behaviors and actions that work together to cause negative sensations. Because the world is complex, this may require a multilevel strategy in response as one improves one's life.


Changes in one area may have unintended consequences in other areas. A unified strategy that makes changes in many areas may be more effective than making a single change at a time. Learning from others and comparing strategies may be effective if others are following a similar philosophy.


5. Be Good to Yourself!


Choose behavior that maximizes positive sensations. Fill your day with pleasant places, people, activities and events. Listen to what your senses are telling you, and take action to move toward that which is pleasant. Seek out beauty, comfort, joy and contentment. Continually reassess a behavior or action to determine whether it continues to be pleasurable, or if it is becoming less positive over time. Improve your life every minute by constantly thinking about how you could increase your happiness and tranquility.


6. Use Long Term Cost/Benefit Analysis!


It is important to rationally choose behavior and actions which maximize positive sensations. Use a long term cost/benefit analysis to assess whether a short term pleasure is worthwhile over the long term. For example, a sexual relationship may cause emotional distress in the future if one is not selective about the type of person one has a relationship with. Avoid behavior that causes long term negative impacts on one's life.


Assess a short term negative sensation which may resolve a problem based on the long term positive effects which it might bring. A visit to the dentist is unpleasant, but it can relieve a toothache and promote long term dental health. When considered on a rational basis, one can endure the short term pain for the long term benefit.


There are many such compromises which one must make in life. By focusing on the long term benefit, one can remain aware of the reason one is accepting the short term negative sensation. When the long term benefit no longer exists, one should then end the short term negative sensation.


In some cases, the best strategy may be to select a behavior which minimizes the negative effects of an activity which has some benefits. Working to earn money is a neccessity in today's world. One can select a career with a minimum of negative impacts on one's life, and one can live frugally to minimize the amount of money needed. The negative aspects of one's time being controlled by others can be rationalized by the money which one can save for a future life unencumbered by work.


7. Control Desires!


Recognize that there are some desires which are needs that every human must satisfy, for example, the need for food, water, shelter and friendship. Respect these desires and focus on satisfying them with appropriate responses.


Desires which are not necessary for one's basic needs are often desires which can damage one's happiness if one pursues them. Pursuing desires for political power, sexuality, wealth, conspicuous consumption and fame might bring fleeting satisfaction, but over the long term cause distress and pain.


Learn to recognize the difference between desires which are necessary for one's happiness, and those desires which are unnecessary and often destructive to one's long term happiness. Use discipline to say no to unnecessary desires. Consciously reduce one's thoughts about unnecessary desires.


8. Be Loyal to Yourself!


It is important to be relentlessly and completely true to your own self-interest. Every other person who you are in contact with will try to influence your behavior toward their interests. Organizations and governments will try to impress your mind with the "duty" to put their interests first. Businesses will try to influence your behavior in a way that is likely to increase purchases from them and will increase their profits.


In order to find true happiness, it is important to put your interests in the primary position. Delegating decisions which serve the best interest of others can lead to bitterness, dismay, and the feeling of being cheated. By following your own best interest, you will be honest, true, predictable and reliable to yourself and to others.


9. Choose Wisely!


There will be many decisions made throughout your life. They are all important. It is crucial to rationally choose the path your life follows, and to have the discipline to follow through with those choices. Many choices are difficult, and only by carefully considering the potential outcomes can one choose the optimum path. The best method is to rationally consider long term outcomes of action in the present. Consider, decide and act to live your life.


10. Cultivate Friendship!


Friendship is a necessary human need. Your state of mental well-being is affected by the mental state of those around you, in particular family and friends with whom you have frequent contact over a long period of time. It is human nature to need association with friends.


Seek out people with positive thoughts and lifestyles and get to know them. Reach out to communicate with friends regularly. Invite others and meet with others as often as you can to build a group of friends. Eat with friends, share your food with friends. Help friends, and ask friends for help when you need it. Learn how to develop friendship and how to respond to the social dynamics within a group of friends.


Support your friends to help keep them in a positive state of mind. Work to maintain lifelong friendships. As friendship develops over time, one gains trust and the friendship strengthens to the point of one's friends being almost as important as one's self.



11. Add Behaviors Which Bring Happiness!


As you make decisions on behavior throughout your life, be sensitive to feelings of joy, kindness, love, beauty, grace and other positive emotions. Select behavior and seek out situations that promote and maximize these feelings.


12. Shut Down Negative Thoughts!


You are enjoying something, and suddenly a thought comes flying out from your deep subconcious that causes you doubt, guilt, fear or anxiety. For example, you are taking a nice hot shower and enjoying it. Suddenly a thought comes through telling you that you should not waste hot water. Consider that thought, assess whether it is valid, and if not, let that thought pass, and continue to enjoy the shower. Don't jump every time your subconcious mind comes up with an objection to something that you enjoy.


13. Recognize and Avoid Ascetisism!


Ancient ascetics believed that the spirit was good and the body evil, and by punishing the body one enhanced the spirit. Some ascetics pursue this philosophy to the point of causing pain through self-flagellation, self-starvation and purposefully living in pain or discomfort. Some ascetics use a display of their self-torture as a way to draw attention to themselves. Avoid this behavior and always seek to increase happiness and tranquility in your life.


Ascetisism includes simplifying or minimizing one's life to an extreme level. When simplifying one's life, do it to the extent that it increases happiness and tranquility. Don't punish one's self with pain or suffering for any reason other than cases where one gains a long term benefit through short term pain.


14. Ignore Negative Inputs!


Listening to negative news is debilitating. The information that enters your mind is what shapes your mind. Choose your incoming communication deliberately. Avoid media which push programming and choose media which allow you to select the information you wish to receive. Avoid people who are caught in negative thought patterns and who constantly speak about threats, dangers, crime and injustice.


Develop the state of your mind by choosing what enters your brain. Seek out a group of like-minded people to fill your day with thoughts of friendship and caring. Be kind and greet others with a smile to help others rise above the negativity. Doing so will benefit you as much as others.


15. Know that Happiness is Easy to Achieve!


It is easy to get the things necessary for basic human needs: food, water and shelter. A person who can obtain these basic things can be happy.


If your thoughts start to worry about how you are going to earn money to pay for something, ask yourself if you really need that item. Be calmed by the knowledge that basic human needs are easy to acquire, and anyone who has the basic human needs can be happy.


In addition to these items, by nature a human needs friendship, fascination (intellectual focus) and physical fitness. Friendship means social interaction and being part of a group of friends and family. Fascination and intellectual focus are the things one is passionate about. Often fascination is related to learning, building or creating. Physical fitness allows a person to be active and able to do a wide range of activities and it promotes health.


Note that the last three types of human needs can be satisfied without the need for money, if one chooses the right methods of obtaining these needs.


Comfort yourself with the knowledge that happiness is easy to achieve.


16. Preserve the Health of Your Body


Your level of happiness over the long term depends on how you treat your body. Neglect and abuse can bring pain. Eat healthy foods, exercise and use your body to maintain your fitness level. Use appropriate hygiene and preventative medical care. Exercise is an example of a short term discomfort that has long term benefits. Strive to achieve a healthy mind in a healthy body.


Our senses are the most direct and true connection with the natural world, far more direct than our understanding and learning about the natural world that we receive through communication with others. One should carefully guard against anything that would disturb, modify or distort one's senses and sensory observation of the natural world. One should moderate the use of intoxicants which distort one's perception of the world. Avoid alcohol and drugs in excess.


17. Stay Frugal, But Enjoy!


Would you like to be able to decide how to spend your time each day? Frugality can give you this choice by reducing your expenses to an amount that you can fund with part time work or a small investment income. Reducing your desires to those things which you actually need will help you reduce your spending.


It is very important to spend less than you make. Spending more than you earn, buying on time, taking on credit, all of these bind you to servitude. When you spend money, think about the time that you will need to work to pay for that item.


It is good to save and invest. The purpose of savings are to allow you to live without work taking up your available time.


If you are fortunate to have a level of savings and are financially well off, feel free to do things with your money that bring you happiness. Be generous to others.


18. Rational Behavior Decisionmaking


In order to use reason to live a life of happiness and tranquility, one applies rational decisionmaking to ones life based on the philosophy of Epicurus.


Rational Behavior Decisionmaking involves selecting one's behavior and activities, including:


Which activities we choose to do each day

Which people we associate with

How we speak to and treat other people

Recognizing nature through our senses

What we consume

Distinguishing between pleasure and pain, and determining which actions or events led to the experience of pleasure or pain


Levels of Rational Behavior Decisionmaking


Present Moment Comfort Enhancement


Be attentive to one's body and how one could improve comfort and contentment.


At frequent intervals, one should be aware of one's current physical state and imagine what one could do to increase comfort, such as drinking to relieve thirst, finding a good sitting position, wearing clothes that do not bind or chafe, or getting up and stretching after being inactive for some time. When physically active, enjoy the exercise but know the limits and take a break when appropriate.


Present Moment Positive Emotion Enhancement


Over one's life, one should learn specific behaviors that enhance feelings of joy, kindness, love, grace and other positive emotions (pleasurable emotions). Behaviors which bring pleasure might include calling a friend for a conversation, preparing a meal, writing a poem, taking a nap, designing a project, organizing one's desk, reading a book or going for a walk. The behaviors which an individual finds pleasurable are individual to that person. Each person must make themselves aware of the types of behaviors which enhance one's positive emotions, and in the present moment, should select that behavior which the individual feels would be most pleasurable. It may be helpful to make a list of behaviors that have been enjoyable in the past to help one remember the options that one has in the present moment.


Future Distress Reduction


There are a number of problems which one can avoid in the future by taking action today. Examples are preparing a financial budget to avoid a lack of funds, excersising to improve future health, medical care to heal a wound, working today to avoid future poverty, brushing one's teeth to avoid tooth decay. Select this type of preventative behavior when a relatively minor negative experience today will prevent a major discomfort tomorrow.


Future Positive Emotion Enhancement


Some actions one can do today can reap benefits in the future. Examples are planting a seed to enjoy the future crop, getting an education which will improve one's career, investing savings so that one may enjoy free time from employment. Select this type of action strategically, with a consideration as to risk and reward, in particular regarding what one is giving up today.


Self Preservation and Maximization of Pleasure


Life is what allows us to enjoy pleasure, so preservation and extension of one's life is the prime directive to maximize one's ability to experience pleasure.


In one's rational behavior decisionmaking process, one should always consider the risk of death or injury associated with the behavior, and the impact of the behavior on one's health and longevity.


Suggestions for starting out with a system of rational behavior choices:


Make a list of foods which cause indigestion or other problems and avoid them.

Consciously select the food and drink which you consume using science-based knowledge of a healthy diet as well as your preferences in flavor and taste.

Make a list of things which you enjoy doing and which bring pleasure, so you can refer back to them when you have time and don't know what to do.

Make a list of preventative actions you wish to take and know how they need to be applied in order to be effective.

Imagine the type of life one would like to have in the future and ask oneself what can one do today to bring that life into effect.

If there is an activity which you particularly enjoy, for example, a morning walk or afternoon tea, deliberately schedule these activities on your calendar so they don't get neglected and double booked by more mundane tasks and responsibilities.


19. Avoid Politics


Politics and discussion of politics involves dispute, disagreement, suspicion, rumor, lies, deception and retribution. To avoid the negative emotions that these actions bring, avoid participation in politics.


You may wish to participate in democratic voting. It may be best to inform yourself by researching the candidates or proposals in a very focused way rather than relying on media to inform you. Elections cause the media to behave in damaging ways. Often the candidates and media will try to convince the audience that things are desparately bad and changes must be made or disaster will strike. This leads to distress among those who are convinced by the narrative. To avoid this negative impact on your well-being, avoid watching media, in particular television. Select your news source based on its rational qualities and balanced reporting. Text-based news sources are best.


In some cases, you may wish to engage in political activity to defend a cause which is important to you. Be selective about how you choose to be an activist on an issue. Working in a support role will be less damaging to your mental health than being a candidate for office. However, if there are no other potential candidates and you see a need to protect something important to you, you may wish to be a candidate for an elected position. Do your best and try not to get caught up in the negative side of politics.


20. Overcome Your Fears!


What if I become destitute?


Remember that even in the simplest shelter, with simple food and water, one can achieve happiness. The things that one really needs are easy to get. By accepting a simple life, spending less than one earns and saving money for emergencies, one can maintain a secure, if simple, standard of living and achieve happiness.


How will I find a suitable partner if I am not rich?


The way to find a partner is to be socially engaged, to have a circle of friends that includes a number of potential partners, and to have inner peace and tranquility that allows for good communication with potential partners. A flashy car, new clothes, jewelry and trendy haircut are not required.


I will miss something in life if I do not become rich!


You need some wealth to live. However, extreme wealth does not necessarily bring happiness. In fact, it is more difficult for an extremely wealthy person to achieve tranquility. Work toward a level of wealth that allows you a simple life.


21. Simplify Your Life!


Most people will benefit from reducing the complexity of their lives. Simplification frees up the most valuable commodity which a person can have: time. However, simplification and elimination of things is not a goal in itself. Simplification and minimalism have value to the extent that they improve one's life through reducing stress related to maintenance of things and by freeing up the time it takes to maintain them. It is also a frugal way to avoid unnecesary expenses. The goal of simplification and minimalism is to achieve a level of tranquility that is not disturbed by responsibilities and the maintenance of the things one owns.


Once a person reaches a minimalist state of tranquility and is enjoying the free time that simplification provides, one should seek to add behaviors and actions which increase happiness to one's life. One may choose actions and behaviors that maximize positive effects while minimizing responsibilities and negative effects.


As one learns which things truly add value and happiness to one's life, one can choose those beneficial behaviors which have a minimal impact on one's financial resources. One can focus one's time on a select group of friends that one knows are rational, kind, caring and without the overhead of drama, anger or deceit. One can spend time researching a subject which one is passionate about. One can create art, build furniture or perform music. One can express themselves through writing. Simplification of one's life can lead to a flowering of expression that is made possible by reducing one's responsibilities and maximizing free time.


Conclusion


In order to continuously improve one's life, one needs to eliminate negative behavior and select behavior and actions that promote positive emotions.


These are the things that one needs to be happy:


FOOD

WATER

SHELTER

FRIENDSHIP

FASCINATION

PHYSICAL FITNESS


All of these things are easy to get. Some require a small amount of money. All of them require one to make good decisions about how to live one's life.


August, 2016
Revised October, 2019
Last edited by sky on Thu Nov 05, 2020 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

leeholsen
Posts: 325
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:38 pm

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by leeholsen »

sky wrote:
The nomad mind is sane
The civilized mind is insane

Because it's your normal, natural mind, eventually you will regain your sanity and the insanity of civilization will slowly drop away.

For awhile it can be very difficult to make the transition and you have to be willing to go through the chaos that will reign in your heart and mind while the poison of civilization is leaving you. It's very toxic and by disobeying it and not producing but being happy instead, it will punish you and you will be miserable for awhile.

There is nothing to do but go through it and let the toxic poison of the civilized mind out of your heart and mind.

Bob Wells
cheaprvliving.com

Second.

if you worked in a corporate environment for any time and cannot conclude that it's a functional prison, you're just not very aware imo. would you really choose that type of environment just for a nice car ? I would not. although that life does provide a feeling of comfort, it is a very sad existence.

although I know many of the ere community goes carless, that's really limiting imo. I've been on top of mountain ranges on the west and east in the usa and once I have the ability to do that on any day, I'm never going back.

George the original one
Posts: 5370
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by George the original one »

> After three days, I decided to return to the desert so that I could get water

Ironic, that you have to leave a city for the desert in order to get water!

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

We returned home mid month after a long drive across the plains. Things were great until San Diego and then we kind of lost the spirit of the trip when we headed back east. We should have stayed down south for another month to avoid cold grey weather. We had the post-trip blues for a while.

I had hoped to go backpacking but some things came up. I am pretty disappointed and not too happy about it. When the trees green up out here, I may do some local hiking.

Worked on maintenance items on the van, cars and house. Applied for a few jobs. Volunteered to work on a tall ship. Started fooling around with an internet business. Started some seeds for the garden. Tried to sell my car then decided a reliable, economical vehicle was worth more to me than what I could sell it for. I am designing a small shanty boat to take down the Mississippi (yeah, right).

I completely fell back into the reclining chair/screentime/beer swilling lifestyle. I am starting to walk a bit more now that the weather is getting better. Living in a house is quite comfortable but more boring than living in a van.

My original plan for April was to backpack the New Mexico section of the CDT, but that fell through due to some family issues. Now I am going to volunteer on a tall ship to get it ready for the season, and maybe crew on it. It is close by, I can walk to it so I like that.

However, once the van maintenance is complete, we may take off again, either locally or longer distance. The van needs a new roof vent, and I have it but am waiting for decent weather so the caulking cures properly. A nice sunny day and a little bit of ambition and it will be done.

So at the moment, a number of maintenance jobs are being completed, I have a few projects that I am working on, a potential fun volunteer job, but no real plans. I do expect to stay around home most of the summer, since we live in a great area as long as the weather is good. June to September, I'd rather be here than anywhere else. Although I do like to explore up north.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

This month was a continuation of maintenance items and waiting for snow to melt. I completed a number of camper van maintenance items and have one open item that is somewhat difficult to figure out. I did some maintenance on my car which is now in good shape.

We traveled up north, van camping for part of a week but then ran back south due to cold weather. It was nice to be vanning again.

I volunteered at the maritime museum and learned a bit about how tall ships are rigged.

I started my indoor hydroponic garden (lettuce) and started seeds for an outdoor hydro setup (cherry tomatoes). I am trying to figure out how to build a hydro setup without buying much, just using stuff I have and things I can get free. Its easier just to buy stuff. Garden projects will result in keeping me at home and limiting my ability to travel long periods of time during the summer. I guess that is OK but what am I giving up? My garlic garden in the dirt is growing happily, and my grapes are starting to bud. I soaked some gooseberry twigs in water over the winter, will they survive? who knows.

I bought a boat trailer for $100 that I thought I could sell for $250, but I may keep it for my own use. I designed a concept for a small shantyboat that could be built fairly easily and big enough to live on and go down the Mississippi, maybe. I found another cheap and quick sailboat dinghy design that I liked a lot. I am designing a cargo bed that will fit on the boat trailer and a roof that will turn the cargo bed into a camper with a raiseable roof, Alaskan camper style. I am trying not to allow myself to build another project but I probably will.

My garage is somewhat organized but still needs work. My list of things to do includes get a fishing license, brew beer, replace bottom bracket cartridge, learn to vegetarian, set up vpn and learn Spanish.

I am looking for jobs but not enthusiastically. I started a small internet business and made 0.1J the first month, not too bad. It is kind of fun, selling cheap trinkets to children. Not fulfilling but interesting.

My backpack is calling me and I will try to get some time in June on the North Country Trail. We have visitors coming in May that kind of blocks out that month.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

This month I have made some important progress.

I feel like I have crossed a minimum point and now am ready to start adding interesting, fascinating activities. I know that I can live with a bare minimum of things even though I don't need to. It has become obvious that if one wants low stress, then simplicity can give you that. Now I can pick and choose new activities that don't have negative consequences of high maintenance, cost, having to deal with difficult people, etc.

Learned to cook good tasting vegetarian food and eating self cooked vegetarian meals several days a week.
Bicycle riding 10 miles daily.
Stretches every morning.
Started bodyweight fitness strength training.
Exercise has become my main activity and focus, how wonderful it is to be able to preserve one's health.
I am pretty much living in soccer shorts, wicking tee and flip flops, when they get stinky I put them in a pail of hot water and mix them around for a while, then hang them up outside to dry.
Garden experiments that are working out well so far, the big harvest starts in a few weeks.
Joined an online computer science course.
Did some van camping in northern MI and the south side of Chicago.
Really happy about how beautiful the weather is and what a great town I live in (beach town on Lake Michigan), no need to travel for a few months because I like it here.
Not real thrilled with backpacking this time of year, I don't like ticks and mosquitos.
Decided I don't want a job.
Did some research on starting a business and am not real excited about it.
My online business is doing OK but I may let it die for now, it is boring.
Enjoying a very simple life with few responsibilities.
I have a list of things to do but most of the crucial things are done.

Goals:
It would be nice to socialize with like-minded people, I am pretty much a loner at the moment.
I will reprioritize my list of things to do.
Find a few nonstressful activities that fascinate me.
Cook and preserve garden produce.
Stay cool.

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jennypenny
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Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by jennypenny »

sky wrote:It would be nice to socialize with like-minded people, I am pretty much a loner at the moment.
Are you traveling with your partner? (I'm sorry if I missed an update about that.)

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

Yes, except we are not traveling now.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

August, 2016

Living with few responsibilities and being able to choose what one does each day has been very satisfying. This has been the best summer of my life. Still, there are things that could be optimized.

For most of the summer, I did a daily cardio exercise of bicycling 10 to 20 miles. In addition, I did a bodyweight fitness routine about 3 days a week. I also did stretches every morning. This focus on health related fitness is the most enjoyable part of having freedom to choose what to do with my time.

I experimented with a vertical garden, constructed with a tarp folded in half and sewn in a checkerboard pattern, and then each square was cut open to form a pouch. The tarp was hung on two fenceposts with a wood beam supporting it. A mixture of peat moss and vermiculite was used to fill the pouches, and a drip irrigation system was installed to water each pouch. I transplanted tomato plants into the pouches. I used hydroponic nutrients to water the tomatos. This test was very successful, although next time I would use perforated tubing run inside the tarp rather than the drip emitter system. The drip emitters clogged frequently, requiring a lot of maintenance and attention to keep the plants alive. I would also use soil in the pouches rather than the peat moss/vermiculite mixture. Herbs and greens would be better plants for a vertical garden than tomatos. I plan to install perforated tubing irrigation in my garden next year, being able to water plants easily will make a huge improvement with my sandy soil.

http://imgur.com/a/kgav5 , http://imgur.com/a/5Thsw

I did a "Something from Nothing" type trade. In April, I bought a $100 boat trailer off of craigslist and pulled it home in a snowstorm. In August, I sold it for $250. I found a folding kayak in a web forum for $200 and drove a few hours to get it. It required a small amount of repair work, with a bit of epoxy and glass cloth it is now in good condition. Using mostly materials I have hoarded in my workshop, I built a leeboard, rudder, kayak trailer and mast step. I have a few old sails which I will use or cut up into smaller sails. I scrounged two aluminum Sunfish masts from trash day alongside the road. The kayak trailer will be pulled behind a bicycle, so no automobile required. The sailing kayak is still under construction and has not yet been tested but I am pretty sure it will be successful. I had a similar kayak and did a trip to North Manitou island in Lake Michigan 30 years ago. So I now have another nomadic vehicle, highly capable of long distance adventure travel, with a bonus that it can fold up into the trunk of my car.

One negative thing about adding a boat to my belongings is that I am reminded of how much responsibility for maintenance of the boat is added to my life. It is really nice not owning much and not having to worry about much in the way of maintenance.

Now that the heat of the summer is passed, I need to plan a backpacking trip, probably on the North Country Trail near Manistee. We may take the camper van up to the Upper Peninsula as well. I am not sure if we are going to escape winter this year, my wife does not seem to be excited about leaving the conveniences of home. After returning from van camping for almost 4 months this spring, our house seemed like a palace and being able to have space, a comfortable chair and a shower were a luxury. Maybe we will do a short run to the south, rather than the long trip out west.

We cut the cord in August, cancelling Comcast and their $85 monthly fee for unreliable internet service. We are using a wifi device at the moment, and waiting for a faster wifi device to arrive. Current internet is $5 per month of 3G. The new device will be $35 per month of unlimited 4G. However, my vendor is flaky and I am not real happy about the customer service. I bought and installed a rooftop antenna, which gets a number of local tv stations.

I am learning to program in C at a basic level. It is interesting and I am proud that I am able to run programs. I am using a raspberry pi and have it set up so that it can run programs 24/7. I wrote a simple timer and am comparing different methods of calculating primes, to see which is faster. At the moment the pi is not doing anything spectacular but I hope to do some basic web scraping and database connection soon.

I did some car maintenance myself that I normally would have had a mechanic do. Brakes, tuneup, alternator replacement. I will do these jobs again, I am glad I learned how to do it on my cars. I used to do work on my older cars, but they were 1960s technology and easier to work on. It is kind of a pain, and I always fear that I will have to have the vehicle towed to a mechanic if I fail, but I have been successful so far. It has saved a lot of money, and I know what condition the car is in. Sometimes I consider reducing the number of vehicles that we have but since they are old and paid off (except for the camper van) we are using them.

I applied for a job helping with the apple harvest at a cider mill, but I hope that I don't get it.

Financially, we are doing fine with our income. We don't seem to be able to save much but that was intended. Our income amount was selected based on past expense budgets. The market has been kind, I don't think my net worth has dropped much, if any. I don't look much at my investments and I don't have much to do with spending money. I let my wife handle the spending. Our budget provides her a certain amount to spend each month and she does what she wants with it. I get $100 to play with and can count on excellent cooking and a comfortable home managed by my wife. I would prefer to live on less money but we are living the lifestyle that she is used to. It is working so far, so no complaints. It is very low stress for me. In 5 years my pension comes in and we will have a big boost to our income.

After 10 months of retirement, I can say the life satisfaction level is extremely high.

Goals:

Continue fitness exercise.

Plan ahead and mark the calendar to make sure I do interesting things.

Reduce alcohol, I am not binge drinking but drinking more beer than I would like.

Be more social.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

October 2016

This post marks almost a year of ER.

I am trying to optimize my morning stretch routine. I call it "Stretching for Old People".

Stretching for Old People

Do each of these for 30 breaths except for the optional one. I try to meditate and focus on my breathing while stretching and counting breaths.

1. Reach for the Sky, while standing, raise arms, arch back with belly forward
2. Touch the Earth, while standing put hands on ground in front of feet
3. Squat, move to squat position with hands between legs
4. All Fours, support yourself with hands and feet, as if in upper pushup position
5. Back Arch, lay on stomach, raise torso with arms, look up
6. Cross Leg Sit, sit on floor with crossed legs, lean forward
7. Sitting Leg Stretches, from Cross Leg Sit, extend one leg forward and lean in that direction, do both legs
8. Side Leg Stretches, lay on back, arms to each side, lift leg up and over to other side turning hips, turn head to opposite side, do both legs
9. Optional - Back bridge, lay on back with feet near butt, fists next to head, lift body supporting with feet, fists and head for a few seconds.

Meal Prepping

My breakfasts are water, coffee, fruit and a homemade breakfast burrito. I make 16 of them at a time and freeze them, which takes about 2 hours. In the interest of not gaining weight, I eat a breakfast burrito and try not to eat anything else until dinner time (evening meal).

Breakfast Burritos (usually made in a batch of 8 or 16)

large tortilla
1 Tbs refried beans
2 Tbs mashed potatos
2 Tbs scrambled eggs
1 tsp salsa
1 tsp bacon bits
1 Tbs grated cheese

Roll into a burrito. Wrap in tin foil. Put in ziploc bag and store in freezer. Thaw in refrigerator for a day, remove foil, heat in microwave and serve.

The cost is about $1 per burrito.

You can add small amounts of other things to the burrito, such as: sweet potato, corn, chickpeas, carmelized onions, cream cheese, sauteed mushrooms, sauerkraut.

I intend to try to improve this recipe by adding vegetables (cole slaw mix, sauerkraut) to improve nutrients, and by calculating calories/fat and adjust the portioning to what I think I need to eat.

The benefits of meal prepping are: you can make what tastes good, you can control what and how much you eat, it is inexpensive, it reduces the time spent on cooking each day.

Minimalism

I am in saving mode at the moment, waiting to find out the impact of health insurance and income tax on my budget. For the next few months, I am trying not to spend anything other than for food/housing and important maintenance items. I am getting good practice at saying no to many impulsive desires that pop up in my head. I find myself "bottoming out" with minimalism, in other words, it can become boring and I need to think of things to do. The first impulse is to buy something, but if you can get past that, you can get to the point of reading, writing, exercising, building or some other activity which is more creative and uses what you already have.

There are very few things that I am required to do each day. Daily household work and maintenance can be done in just a few hours. The rest of the time, I can choose what I want to do. It is not always easy making the right choices, I still spend too much screentime sitting around. I have to be creative to avoid boredom without starting some expensive project.

Alcohol

I was looking back at my logs and found it somewhat pathetic that each month I would resolve to drink less alcohol and yet I did not do anything about it. So I stopped drinking alcohol. There are occasional desires to drink but not too bad.

Travel

Last month we drove to northern Ontario and van camped along Lake Superior near Wawa, and near the west side of Algonquin Park. The natural beauty was spectacular. Canada is too expensive to spend a lot of time in, however. I went backpacking in northern Michigan and was exhausted and had foot pain. I feel like I am getting too old for some of the adventures I dream up. It is good to do more than you can handle sometimes, but not when it makes you feel like you have failed when you are done. Next time I will try to condition myself better, hike shorter distances each day and get better shoes. I do not plan to drive out west this winter due to some health issues and the cost of travel. Although we may drive south for a shorter trip in February, to escape the winter for a short time.

Fitness

After some interruption due to travel, backpacking overexertion and recovery, I need to restart my bodyweight and cardio routines. I am clearing an area in my garage to allow for a pullup bar, parallel bars, jumprope area and staff spinning. This should keep me going during snowy weather when I can't bike or walk outside easily.

Projects

During the summer I found a cheap folding kayak in relatively good condition. I have been slowly building a sailing rig for it (leeboard, rudder, mast partner and step, mast, sprit rig). When I am done it will be a good long distance touring machine with the possibility to sleep aboard. In my garage workshop, I have many bits and pieces of sailing gear so have been able to put most of it together without buying expensive equipment.

I need to install an antenna for my ham rig. We have new neighbors who trimmed trees and are keeping up the property nicely, so my old method of hanging wire in trees may not work anymore. Between not wanting to spend any money and not knowing which antenna to put up, I am currently in analysis paralysis. Time is running out, when the snow flies it will be too late for this season (we get a lot of snow). I mainly listen and don't talk much, so all I really need is a wire outside somewhere, but as a matter of pride I like to have a fully functional transceiver.

Cleaning and Organizing

Cleaning and organizing is a thankless job that is surprisingly difficult to do. When you are cleaning up, it seems like you are not getting anything done and it feels like you could be building something instead of cleaning. In fact, cleaning is an essential part of building, or at least preparation for building. Organizing is a complex mental exercise of figuring out how to store things so you can find them again, and performing triage as to what to keep, what to pack away, and what to throw out. I am trying to spend a lot of my time doing cleaning and organizing. There is a big benefit to mental clarity and satisfaction once you have cleaned and organized an area.

Maintenance

I am currently caught up with vehicle maintenance (knock on wood). I often think about going car-free and how this would simplify my life. I have learned quite a bit about doing repairs on my own, which is satisfying. It is easy to spend more than necessary when you DIY car repairs, through mis-diagnosis and changing parts out to see if it fixes the problem. But that is part of learning.

The house is ready for winter. I do have to plan for painting in the spring, and reroofing the garage at some time.

Work

Sometimes I think about getting a job, for something interesting to do as much as for some extra money. But jobs require you to show up at certain times, so I don't think I want to do that. It would be nice to learn a new skill, or practice excellence in an old skill. It would be nice to be around people all day, although people who are forced to be around each other out of economic necessity are not always nice to each other. I think what I am looking for is not a traditional work situation and I haven't found it yet.

Social

We have had friends over a few times this month and will be visiting others soon. It is nice but it does not really satisfy the need to be part of a tribe. I am part of a few internet forums, but this type of engagement is somewhat artificial. Ideally I would like to be part of a group of people working on fitness, gardening or building things (motors, electronics, computers, makers). At the same time I am somewhat reserved and want to protect my privacy from crazy people or people who criticize. I don't want to get into a group which requires purchasing expensive equipment, and I don't want to pretend I can keep up with fit younger people in a fitness activity. I live in a town that is very seasonal, and winter time can be lonely. I have made some progress by getting together with people but it is not even close to what I need as a social being. However, I don't believe that my ideal social group exists, so optimization of what does exist is the better path to follow.

Calendar

Spending more attention to scheduling things has really paid off in improving life. Putting an event on the calendar is half the battle towards making it happen. Originally, I thought that waking up every day and deciding what to do that day was like paradise; the problem is that nothing extraordinary ever happens by itself. Adventure needs to be conceptualized, planned and brought into being. Of course, not every step needs to be planned, but the event needs to grow out of one's imagination to come into being. The skill of imagining and creating activities and events is critical to fully living one's life.

Goals

Conceptualize and implement interesting things to do
Meet people and create a social network
Eat food by rational choice
Be active with physical fitness activities

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

November 2016

Health Insurance

We selected a higher deductible health insurance for 2017 and reduced the cost for two people from $770 to $462 per month. The old deductible was about $7,000 and the new is $14,000.

Spending Fast and Reducing Consumption

I am in a spending fast in November, restricting my spending to food and fuel. I am making a list of things I want/need but have also been able to find free stuff to avoid buying stuff on my list. It is fairly easy for me to not purchase things because I have collected a lot of stuff over the years (wood, fasteners, bike parts, camping gear). I am not in complete control of my spending, my wife also purchases things, so the spending fast may not be such a monumental accomplishment. I went out to a restaurant only one time in November.

In late November, I broke my spending fast by purchasing some electronic components and an online course, so I did not make it the entire month without spending money. However, looking at the list of things I wanted to purchase, many of those things are unnecessary and I may not buy them at all.

I considered stopping driving for a time, with the idea to use a bicycle for food shopping. I hesitated because we love to take long rides through the countryside and because my favorite food store is across a highway with a somewhat risky section of road for a bicyclist. I could get off the bike and walk on the grass at the highway exit ramp, which would reduce the danger. The city in which I live is a good candidate for no car living, however I love being mobile and seeing the land. I often drive with no destination in mind, just to look at the country.

I have reduced the number of internet sites that I participate in. I try to start my browsing sessions by searching on keywords of interest rather than clicking on bookmarks or reading through reddit. I still spend a lot of time on the internet. I started an online course.

Social Engagement

In the past month, I went from being lonely to having so many social engagements as to wish for private time. So I stopped creating events for a period of time, then started to get bored and now wish for company again. It seems that the many lonely people out there desperately need someone to create events and invite them to the event. I wondered whether people would even want to come visit but each time it was greatly appreciated and I was thanked many times for hosting.

Event Planning and Hosting

Create a contact list of persons who you would like to socially engage with.
Select a date about two weeks into the future.
Select the people who you would like to invite to an event.
Make up a name and short description of the event.
Two weeks prior to the event, send an email with the name, description, time, date and location of the event to all of the people you would like to invite.
One week prior to the event, call the people you would like to invite and chat with them, ask them if they will be coming.
Four days prior to the event, call anyone who is bringing something (food, drinks, alcohol) to find out if you have everything you need.
One day prior to the event, buy any food or beverages needed, and clean up the area where the event will happen.
On the day, prep any food and beverages.
Be a gracious host, welcome everyone, serve everyone, talk to everyone, thank them for coming.
Clean up.

Fitness

I drank alcohol one time this month, and did not care for the effect. Perhaps I will not drink alcohol at all any more. This is a major shift from someone who at one time was known as a homebrewer and a connoissuer of the malt beverage.

I am bicycling or walking between one and two hours a day. I have neglected my stretching and bodyweight fitness this month and hereby resolve to spend more time on them.

Skills

I learned a new skill, to darn socks. This month I am keeping a threaded needle on my dresser and every time I discover a sock with a hole in it, I immediately stitch it up.

Food and Lifestyle

Meal prepping continues to provide dividends of free time, good food, easy meal preparation and calorie control at low cost. I continue to make a batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them, taking out one per day to defrost (I eat a "normal" dinner). Most recently, I made 24 burritos in three hours, which cost well under $1 each. The size and calorie content of each burrito can be portioned based on one's needs. It is easy to size the portions to avoid eating too much. Burritos are a packet of food, and packetizing food consumption makes it easier for me to limit my caloric intake to a certain schedule. I take one burrito out of the freezer each day so my consumption is defined and there is not more food available for snacking (in theory). For weight loss, I can decide to skip breakfast and eat a burrito at noon.

I fantasize about a vandwelling, meal prepping lifestyle, where I drive to a store, purchase ingredients, cook and prepare a half month of meals with fresh ingredients, store them in a solar powered freezer and drive off to camp in a remote location with food prepared for two weeks. One could live at extremely low cost, with the only daily responsibilities being personal hygiene, fitness, gear maintenance and organization. Suddenly, one's day becomes entirely available for reading, personal interests, socializing, crafting, meditation, pleasure and observing nature.

I miss the desert. This time of year before the winter holidays is usually a time of long nights, cold temperatures and binging on chocolate and high calorie snacks, which are a weakness of mine. If the choice were mine, I would travel during this time to escape the traditions of the holiday season.

Politics

Despite the advice from my respected teacher, Epicurus, I became a political candidate for public office. The mental disturbances manifested themselves almost immediately as I played an internal 3D chess game against multiple players day and night. I justify this disturbance to my tranquility as being necessary to defend the quality of life in the place I live. I am currently fascinated by direct democracy and collaborative democracy.

Ongoing Goals

My goals are essentially the same as last month, and I did a fairly good job of accomplishing them this month. Next month I will try to optimize and make incremental improvements.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

December, 2016

I packed most of my clothes into a bin, and am trying to live on a reduced number of clothes. My goal is to reduce my clothes inventory. I currently use one set of clothes for exercise, one set for working (garden or mechanic stuff), one set of morning clothes (soft clothes) and one good set of clothes. I'm not trying to live out of one bag, but in that direction. I cleared out one drawer in my chest of drawers and am using just that drawer at the moment, although it does not hold all my clothes, it holds most. Through the month I have been more or less following this strategy. I am not throwing the unused clothes away yet, I am keeping them for the future.

I am moving toward a plant based diet, with a focus on simplifying preparation. My current favorite plant based meal is bean tacos, which is cooked beans with shredded cabbage, nutritional yeast flakes and hot sauce on toasted corn tortillas. Thats it, and it is my usual lunch. I continue to meal prep breakfast burritos with these same ingredients in flour tortillas. So my chosen diet is pretty monotonous, but it is food that I eat with pleasure and look forward to. During this month I learned about health benefits of sprouts and have started a routine of sprouting, with the intention of replacing chopped cabbage with sprouts on my burritos and tacos.

My changes in diet caused some disruption in our household. We had an unspoken custom that we eat together and share meals. My switch to breakfast burritos eliminated eating breakfast together. Then I started skipping lunch in order to lose weight, so my wife had to cook for herself. This worked fine, except that there was a transition period where she felt uncomfortable cooking for herself and not cooking anything for me. I had to reassure her that I did not want any food and she should cook something that she liked for herself. Once she was comfortable with that, we could both eat what we liked. We still eat dinner together, but I try to opt out when possible and eat my preferred food, bean tacos. December is a month of chocolate binging, cake consumption and rich holiday dinners. I am not trying to stop the binges but I weigh myself each morning and if I am above a certain weight, I don't eat breakfast. If I am above a certain weight plus 2 pounds, I don't eat breakfast or lunch. That is my attempt to rationally control my diet. I am finishing the month at my target weight, which means the rational approach worked. Next month I will go back to dropping weight.

In early December, we experienced heavy snow over a long period of time. I stopped walking and stayed inside for the most part. I went into hibernation mode and did not exercise much. I have taken advantage of good weather later in the month to do my daily hour of walking.

I spent time organizing my electronic hobby stuff and generally going through my gear. A lot of internet time viewing videos and reading trivia. Too much internet time leads me to dreaming of travel and adventure. It is early in the winter season, too early to be getting restless already. I am getting things accomplished, but am running out of things to do. I believe that every person is responsible for their own boredom, and one must discover interesting things to do. Hopefully I can find things to do for the remaining months of winter.

I accomplished a number of geeky things this month, such as learning to use sailing routing software to find the optimum route based on wind forecasts. I used the software (qtVlm) to race in a simulation race on sailonline.org and did pretty well racing against the experts. It was 6 days of focusing on the race, waking up to process wind forecast changes every six hours and strategizing for most of my waking hours. Normally I would not spend so much time on a simulation like this but it was blizzarding outside, so I'm glad I had something of interest to do while trapped inside. I installed a few computer games which was OK but I got bored after playing the first or second game. I built some ham radio stuff which worked. I am quite happy about what I accomplished, however, the lack of exercise and too many hours at the screen made me feel depressed and desperate for a change. I need to switch out of the digital screen watching mode and focus more on exercise and living in the natural reality rather than the virtual.

My net worth is looking good. At the end of the year, I can say that this was the best year of my life. Life never stops providing challenges, and financial independence does not mean that one lives in an ideal paradise of 100% happiness, but it is pretty close and you can get closer and closer. Over the past year I have learned, and I now know how to live to be happy. For me, happiness means having modest, very selective desires and interests, that are achievable with the limited resources of time, energy and money that I have available. This breaks the behavioral pattern of trying to buy happiness by purchasing things. When you start looking at what really brings happiness, health comes to the forefront. Eating a simple, healthy diet and exercising for an hour a day have become the key activities in my life. After one's own health, social aspects are important and relationships deserve care and attention. Surprisingly, the most important things in life come with very little cost. It takes discipline to make the right choices, and to follow up the rational decisions that one makes with appropriate behavior. If a person can control their desires and follow the rational path, life and happiness await them.

This blog may go silent for some time. I am planning to change usernames next year on a number of sites that I visit in a (probably futile) effort to be anonymous.

To those who read this, I wish you tranquility and happiness in 2017.

sky
Posts: 1251
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

Greetings to the forum and to all those interested in or living in early retirement. I hope this message finds everyone well and moving their lives in the right direction. I have not posted in some time in part because I was involved in an election and partly because I want to reduce my exposure on the net.

The Epicurean based philosophy which I wrote of earlier continues to be my guide to happiness, tranquility and the good life. The deep philosophical questions that I am confronted with on a daily basis are: should I do my stretches today? should I do my fitness routine today? should I walk or bike for an hour today? should I eat healthy food or this unhealthy food which tastes great, and should I drink alcohol this evening? Life decisions are pretty easy when you don't have to work for a living and you get to decide what you do every day.

I am very happy that I have been able to live for over 2 years without the demands of wage slavery. I feel like I have turned the tables on the capitalist system and am riding a wave of investment growth instead of working my life away. My net worth is close to what it was when I quit my job, even though I pull out a monthly allowance. There seems to be some risk in the market at the moment, not that I follow it closely, but I am not too worried, I have a buffer and can take some loss. Life is great when you get to decide what to do with your time. The key part of my strategy is not spending much and reducing desires. This occasionally leads to boredom, and the need to find new low cost fascinations to follow.

My current fascinations include growing microgreens, a basement hydroponic garden, low cost backpacking gear, walking, especially walking along Lake Michigan and travel by van camping. I hope that microgreens will become a steady self-production food item. I have a great hydro garden with lettuce, parsely, cilantro, kale and tomatoes. Hydroponics works but it is very slow and energy intensive. I don't like dealing with the nutrient solution, which is salty and very corrosive. Microgreens are faster and more nutritious so I may turn off my high power lights and focus more on microgreens. I don't do a lot of backpacking but I like to experiment with tarp shelters and I try to maintain a complete set of gear that I could use to through-hike a long trail. In the summer, I built a sailing rig for my folding kayak which is almost done but yet untested. I am learning about mindfulness meditation. I hope to take the camper van south to escape winter for a month or so. With these fascinations and various maintenance jobs around the house, I get a few things done every day and am satisfied and feel like I am improving my life every day.

I ran for public office and lost the election. I was very detailed and public about issues that needed to be addressed and what I felt needed to be done. I had a great campaign committee and strong support. It was extremely stressful because suddenly it was not just me in a personal campaign, I was a leader with responsibilities to my group. It is also unpleasant to have to pretend to be a normal person. My opponent copied my platform so now my goals may be accomplished and I have no responsibility to attend or participate in government. Being politically active is against my personal philosophy, so I am not unhappy that I did not win the election. I became politically active to defend my neighborhood and I hope that I have accomplished that even without a victory. My mental health will be far better than if I had won.

I continue to seclude myself from media, and do not watch tv or listen to radio, with the exception of occasional foreign tv over the internet. I do not participate in social media. I am trying to reduce my screen time and exposure on the net. I find that when I search on a specific subject of interest, I can find very valuable information. However, much of my screen time tends to be mindless redditing. Sometimes I find good information on a new subject which I did not know about. While I was a candidate, I joined a number of political groups, but now I am unsubscribing. Most news is BS and everyone is trying to spin things in a certain way. The less politics I see, the happier I seem to be. When I am bored, I tend to waste time watching videos, but I am working on spending time on meditation or writing/creating rather than watching youtube or redditing. Media addiction has been a long term issue with me, and I am pretty happy where I am right now, but I need to stay vigilant.

I am somewhat concerned about the winter season. It is less comfortable to do anything outside, so I may not get the exercise I need. I will need to keep looking for new fascinations to follow to avoid boredom. I have even thought about getting a job, but they require you to show up at certain times and I am not interested in that. I would like to be involved in some group doing something interesting, but don't know of any such groups in my area. I will have to look around a bit.

I wish everyone well, and please remember that despite bad news, you can build a pleasant life by controlling what visuals enter your mind and focusing on the people and things around you.

halfmoon
Posts: 698
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:19 pm

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by halfmoon »

sky wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:29 pm
I am somewhat concerned about the winter season. It is less comfortable to do anything outside, so I may not get the exercise I need. I will need to keep looking for new fascinations to follow to avoid boredom. I have even thought about getting a job, but they require you to show up at certain times and I am not interested in that. I would like to be involved in some group doing something interesting, but don't know of any such groups in my area. I will have to look around a bit.
I don't know if you like animals, but you could volunteer at a shelter and/or foster a rescue dog. This would get you outside exercising and meeting others. There are LOTS of groups on Meetup or Facebook that get together with their dogs, either for hikes or just socializing while the dogs play.

Papers of Indenture
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Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by Papers of Indenture »

Just checking in. Epicurus is a special interest of mine. I like the way you articulate the principles.

My wife and I are 32 and hoping to be in your position one day.

sky
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Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

Pain Free, Pete Egoscue

Daily Exercises

Standing Overhead Extension, p. 219

Stand with your feet straight, hip width apart. Interlace your fingers, rolling the palms toward the ceiling, extending the arms overhead with elbows straight. Look up at the back of your hands. Work on keeping the arms in vertical alignment with the shoulders and the rest of the body. Hold for one minute.

Arm Circles, p. 216

Stand with your head up, feet squared, and arms at your sides; put your hands in the golfer's grip, with fingers curled, knuckles flexed, and thumbs extended. Raise your arms out to your sides keeping your elbows straight, palms down, and thumbs pointing forward. Lift your arms until they are level with the shoulders. Squeeze the shoulder blades together slightly, and rotate the arms forward in a six inch diameter circle, 25 times. Reverse the circles by turning the palms up and thumbs back. Repeat for a total of fifty times in each direction.

Elbow Curls, p. 218

Using both hands and the golfer's grip, raise them palm out so that the flat area between the first and second knuckle joints of the index and middle fingers rests on the temples in front of the ears; the thumbs are extended downward, parallel with the cheeks. Droaw the elbows back evenly and in line with the shoulders. From this starting position, slowly swing the elbows forard until the touch in front. Keep the knuckles in contact with the temples, the thumbs fully extended and the head erect. Do twenty five Elbow Curls.

Spread Foot Forward Bend, p. 235

Stand with your legs spread wide. Keep your feet pointed straight ahead. Bend over at the hips and touch the floor directly in front of you. If that's too difficult, you may use a block or other prop for support. Tighten your thighs and relax your torso toward the floor. Hold this position for one minute. Next, without straightening up again, slide your hands to your right foot, keeping both thighs tight and the torso relaxed. Hold that position for one minute. Then slide left to the center briefly before moving your hands to the left foot. Agina, keep your thighs tight and your torso loose. Hold for one minute. Finally, move to the center, bend your knees, and roll your torso upright.

Air Bench, p. 57

Stand with your back to the wall. Press your hips and the small of your back into it while walking the feet forward and simultaneously sliding down into a sitting position. Stop when you've reached roughly a ninety degree angle. The knees should be over the ankles. If you feel pain in the kneecaps, raise your body up the wall to relevive the pressure. Hold for one to three minutes.

Cats and Dogs, p. 221

Get down on the floor on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are aligned with your hips and your wrists with your shoulders. Your lower legs should be parallel with each other and with the hips. Make sure your weight is distributed evenly. Smoothly round your back upward and your head curls under to create a curve that runs from the buttocks to the neck, like a cat with an arched back. Smoothly sway the back down while bringing the head up, like a perky dog. Make these two moves flow continuously back and forth rather than keeping them distinct and choppy. Do one set of ten.

Downward Dog, p. 224

Assume the Cat and Dog position. Curl your toes under, and push with your legs to raise the torso until you are off your knees, and your weight is being supported by your hands and feet. Keep pushing until your hips are higher than your shoulders and have formed a tight, stable triangle. Your knees should be straight, your calves and thighs tight. Keep the feet pointing straight ahead in line with the hands, which need to stay in place, no creeping. The back should be flat, not bowed as the hips push up and back in too the heels. Breathe. Hold for one minute. It may take several days or weeks to get teh heels flat.

Kneeling Counter Stretch, p. 227

Kneel with your hips over your knees while extending your arms palm-down on a chair or low table. Relax the trunk so the back seems as if it's trying to fall through between the arms. Breathe deeply. Hold for one minute.

Runner's Stretch, p. 235

Kneel on one knee. With the other leg, place the heel of the foot in front of the knee that is on the floor. The heel and knee should make contact slightly. For balance, rest your hands on the floor or on a chair placed just in front of the forwardmost foot. Curl the toes of the back foot under and stand up on both feet. Your hips should be square, heels down, and both legs straight. Contract the thigh of the front leg as you position the upper body so that it moves over the front foot and leg. You should feel a stretch along the back of the forward leg. Keep the upper body relaxed as you hold the stretch for one minute. Release the stretch by kneeling back down into the starting position. Reverse the legs and repeat.

Kneeling Groin Stretch, p. 258

From a kneeling position, place one foot out in front of the other with the knee bent. With the head up and the back straight, place your interlaced hands palm-down on the front knee, and lunge forward. Keep your hips square, and avoid twisting the trunk. Do not let the front knee move beyond the ankle. Hold for one minute then repeat on the other side.

Static Extension, p. 56

Kneel on a block or chair with hands on the floor under the shoulders. Let your back and head relax toward the floor and shoulder blades come together. Relax. There should be a prnounced arch in your back. Keep your elbows straight, and shift your hips forward six to eight inches so that they are not aligned with the knees. Hold for one to two minutes.

Sitting Floor Twist, p. 252

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front. Bend your left leg, and cross it over the right. Keep the left foot flat on the floor and running parallel to the right leg. Place the right elbow outside behind yoou. Tighten the muscles of the straight leg, and flex the ankle back toward the knee. Hold for one minute, then repeat on the other side.

Upper Spinal Floor Twist, p. 223

Lie on your side with your knees bent, to form a right angle to the trunk. Extend both arms along the floor level with the shoulders, keeping the elbows straight with the palms together and parallel with the bent legs. Slowly lift the upper arm up and over to rest behind you on the floor palm up, while you turn your head to face the ceiling. Adjust this arm position, if necessary, by finding a shoulder slot that's comfortable, while relaxing and breathing deeply. Allow gravity to settle the arm to the floor along its entire length from fingers to shoulder. Meanwhile, make sure the knees don't slide apart. You can hold them in place with the other hand. When the shoulders have leveled out right to left (which may take several minutes) lift the extended arm and return it to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat on the other side.

Foot Circles and Point Flexes, p. 53

Lie on your back with one leg extended flat on the floor and the other bent toward the chest. Clasp your hands behind the bent knee while you circle the foot clockwise thirty times. Meanwhile, keep the other foot on the floor with the toes pointed straight toward the ceiling. Reverse the direction of the circling foot and repeat. For Point Flexes, stay in the same position on your back with one leg extended and the other bent. Bring the toes back toward the shin to flex, then reverse the direction to point the foot. Repeat twenty times, and switch legs.

classical_Liberal
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Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

sky
Posts: 1251
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Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by sky »

I have been here the whole time, but my life doesn't change much so I did not have much to write about in this journal. I am coming up on my 5 year anniversary of quitting my job, so I will put some thoughts together here soon.

classical_Liberal
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: No Time Like Right Now - sky's journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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