Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:23 am

I have a property linked as owner through Zillow. I am also looking at it through a guest account. Same property, and a $200k difference in zestimate.
So it is totally worth 400k, or 600k, or maybe in the middle, or less, or more.

Zillow estimates are worth the price paid. I prefer to look in redfin, filter for sales.

Also, most assessors have records of nonMLS sales that don't make it to the meta sites. Search your county website, under assessor, auditor, and planning.

Assessors set property values for tax, so they track sales.

Auditors generally run the recording Dept. Public records.

Planning often has GIS maps, along with overlays. For instance, in snohomish county, I can look up property on the assessor map. Open a planning map, overlay elevation contours, streams, flood zone, zoning, and all permits under 3 years old. Handy to know the rural property on the outskirts of town is across the street from a permitted 500 home development, that hasn't been started yet.

Also, there is nothing like taking the parcel number of the property of interest, and walking into the planning office. Then you can look at all the permit applications that tried and died, and get a feel for why. Best to know before you buy.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:34 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:23 am
I have a property linked as owner through Zillow. I am also looking at it through a guest account. Same property, and a $200k difference in zestimate.
So it is totally worth 400k, or 600k, or maybe in the middle, or less, or more.
Totally. :lol:

That's bizarre. Which account shows the higher value? My only problem with Redfin is frequently encountering a message that they don't have enough information to create an estimated value. In a perfect world, I'd like to know the valuation factors and their ranking. I'm willing to ignore ads in trade for improvement.

I also use the Snohomish County GIS system, though I like King County's imap better. Good point about checking with the planning department for permit applications. Likewise for septic permits and reports. Also the city water/sewer department (if applicable), because unpaid water/sewer bills and assessments become a lien on the property.

Most here would probably disagree, but we found using a knowledgeable realtor very valuable in searching for rental property. Accent on knowledgeable. She had a lot of great insight due to being a landlord herself, and she was also able to access old listings for properties. This is useful if you're considering places whose listings don't provide interior photos, which can happen when the place is rented or being foreclosed.

I didn't think about the non-MLS listings. Great advice.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:42 am

In snohomish county, septic records are kept by the health Dept. You can pull up asbuilts online, using the parcel number, from the GIS maps. You can also do a public records search online by parcel number and owners names for liens and pending suites.

I like IMAP, but King county likes to keep most of their information offline.

Zillow rates my property 200k higher through my owner's account than if I log in as guest, and just find my way to my property. I find that searching sales records myself is a reasonable way to assess. Having 3 mortgages means I have read my share of assessments. It's not that precise.

In fact, this came up on an appraiser's forum. A realtor wanted to know why so many of his client's appraisals matched the selling price. The jist of the response was that an appraiser can find similar houses, and similar sakes, and if they are doing their job right, they can establish a range of what a house is likely to sell for. If the sale falls in that range, that is the number, as it is the value a buyer and seller agreed to. If the sale falls outside of the range, they use the price at the end of the range closest to the sales price. You can do the same for an approximation. Until you have a deal, an approximation is as close as you could get.

Good luck selling the place in eastern WA. Have you tried pushing it on permies, and survivalist forums? For that matter, you have plenty of info here, maybe you should add an asking price.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:53 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:42 am
Good luck selling the place in eastern WA. Have you tried pushing it on permies, and survivalist forums? For that matter, you have plenty of info here, maybe you should add an asking price.
I appreciate the thought. We've moved from denial to acceptance, but we don't really have a game plan yet. Acquiring things goes pretty quickly for us; letting go of them is another matter.

I had to think a minute to figure out "permies", but probably permaculture enthusiasts? Survivalists would love this place, so that's a great suggestion. I don't think it would appeal to permaculturists because it's not easy to grow things at 3500' on the north side of a mountain. It's more of a hunter-gatherer environment. Pretty specific market, and I doubt that any good folks on this forum would actually want to live there. Okay; maybe brute. :mrgreen:

Plenty of info here? Ha! You ain't seen nothin' yet. Reminds me that I need to get off my duff and continue my story.

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Sclass
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Sclass » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:55 pm

Riggerjack wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:42 am

Zillow rates my property 200k higher through my owner's account than if I log in as guest, and just find my way to my property.
Any idea of why this is the case? Is it intentional?

DutchGirl
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by DutchGirl » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:18 am

halfmoon wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:53 pm
I had to think a minute to figure out "permies", but probably permaculture enthusiasts? Survivalists would love this place, so that's a great suggestion.
Yup, permaculture enthusiastics.

I think it may help to let the house go if you see that the new people are very happy about it and will probably live there with the same kind of respect and love as you had for the place. It sucks how you sometimes have to let go of things when you get older. Whoever came up with the silly idea of aging?
halfmoon wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:53 pm
Plenty of info here? Ha! You ain't seen nothin' yet. Reminds me that I need to get off my duff and continue my story.
Yes, please :-) .

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:24 am

Zillow rates my property 200k higher through my owner's account than if I log in as guest, and just find my way to my property.

Any idea of why this is the case? Is it intentional?
Zillow is driven by eyeballs. People are fascinated by home values, and change in home values. It seems like poor marketing to not take advantage of this.

In my case, both numbers could be justified. It's not like my house is a mcmansion with easy comparable sales all through the neighborhood. Perhaps mine is an extreme example of an algorithm designed to appeal to homeowners.

Whidbey literally has old 50's cabins with outhouses right next to multimillion dollar estates. Zillow really isn't likely to get that right.

I only brought up my example to show that there is some motivation in their numbers. Just factor it in, and take what they say with a grain of salt.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:46 pm

DutchGirl wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:18 am
I think it may help to let the house go if you see that the new people are very happy about it and will probably live there with the same kind of respect and love as you had for the place. It sucks how you sometimes have to let go of things when you get older. Whoever came up with the silly idea of aging?
That's a great thought, DutchGirl. Agreed about aging. A relative of mine likes to say: 'Old age isn't for sissies.'
Riggerjack wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:24 am
I only brought up my example to show that there is some motivation in their numbers. Just factor it in, and take what they say with a grain of salt.
Or in your example, a mountain of salt. To be more specific: $200k worth of salt. :shock:
Last edited by halfmoon on Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:01 pm

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

MORE WORK ON THE HOUSE:

When we moved into the house that fall, it was tight and warm but pretty stark. The interior walls, ceiling and floor were enamel-painted OSB. The floor was a high-gloss dark green that held up nicely to dogs and tracked-in snow. The walls and ceiling were shiny gray, which was practical but felt sort of industrial. One of our winter projects was paneling the walls with cedar.

We had the cedar boards already; they were the siding on our W WA house before we re-sided with T1-11. We’d learned our lesson regarding rough-sawn boards, though. We ran the boards through a planer multiple times, sanded them, applied a coat of polyurethane, sanded again, more polyurethane followed by inspection. If they weren’t smooth and glossy enough, the inspector required more sanding and another urethane coat.* The finishing was done upstairs in our house due to the cold and snow, and I’m sure that our lungs were damaged by polyurethane fumes. :cry:

*I was the inspector, of course. Also the sander and applier of urethane.

While I was obsessing over the paneling, DH was building the kitchen. He constructed the cabinets from 2x4’s and pine T&G boards we had left over from our W WA house ceiling and kitchen walls. He also built a kitchen table from tamarack boards we cut with our Alaskan chainsaw mill. I love that table, though you can’t really see it in the dark photo. My photo-editing skills are…not.

I requested no upper kitchen cabinets, because I don't like them looming over the counter. This picture doesn’t show the china hutch that DH built from pine boards; it’s over my left shoulder as I take the photo.

Image

The corner cupboard on the stair landing is one I mentioned already somewhere. It was built in the late 1800’s by my great-great grandfather as a wedding gift for his daughter. Note that the ceilings still sported the painted OSB and do to this day, so it's a good thing DH fixed that crooked sheet. :P

Image

That first year (maybe the first two years; it’s hard to remember), we had no running water source. We had a couple of 50-gallon barrels we’d bought for $5 each from an apple juice plant. We loaded the barrels onto the back of our truck and drove them up the mountain about 10 miles to a spring gushing out of the mountainside. We put a 1” black plastic pipe into the outflow and filled the barrels, then drove back home to wrestle them onto raised platforms beside the house. The water tasted great…with possibly a faint apple juice overtone. Next time, I want whiskey barrels.

We also had a large plastic tank outside that held water runoff for showers and irrigation. The benefit of a north-facing slope: we had lots of ground water. We bought a little wood-fired* AguaHeater that DH hooked up to a vertical steel tank, attached a 12-volt pump and shower head…hot showers, outdoors where the squirrels could laugh at us. I'm pretty sure that these days, they'd post videos of us on the YouTube Squirrel Channel. :lol:

*The AguaHeater didn’t strictly require wood. It could run on coal, pine cones, cow chips or old tax returns. Possibly the bones of trespassers. :D

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:59 pm

My first place after moving out, as a teen, was a one room cabin, with an outhouse, and an outdoor shower. The run thru December rain getting back inside is another of those *fond* memories I described earlier.

My girlfriend at the time was less enthusiastic about outdoor showering opportunities, as I remember...

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:07 am

@Riggerjack, I feel there's a story here (not about your girlfriend and showering :lol:). How did you end up moving out of home into a cabin without plumbing? As I recall, you weren't thrilled about the back-to-the-land lifestyle imposed on you as a kid. I'd have guessed you'd move to the city in response.

Story respectfully demanded, or there will be more foot-stomping.

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Fish
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Fish » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:52 am

@Riggerjack @Sclass RE: 200k difference in Zestimate for owner vs. guest, maybe they are modeling the bid-ask spread for an inefficient market?

@halfmoon How did you know you had enough to retire? Back then you didn't have the Trinity study or any of the nice portfolio modeling tools available today. Wondering if it was a rational decision based on calculation and planning, or one driven by emotions, particularly your loathing of the restaurant where you worked.

Although given the path you chose for yourselves, money might have been the least of your concerns...

Jason
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:57 pm

That is one fucking kick ass kitchen. I can smell the pancakes.

And you know what I like about it most? Two chairs. Like, fuck it, we are not even thinking of eating with anyone else. This is our fuckin time and our fuckin kitchen.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:33 pm

Fish wrote:
Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:52 am
How did you know you had enough to retire? Back then you didn't have the Trinity study or any of the nice portfolio modeling tools available today. Wondering if it was a rational decision based on calculation and planning, or one driven by emotions, particularly your loathing of the restaurant where you worked.
@Fish, short answer is we didn't know. I had pages of calculations and projections hand-written on yellow legal pads, none of which employed the sophisticated metrics available today. We had no idea of future inflation or interest rates, both of which were smokin' when we retired in 1992 (we were getting 10% interest on CDs at that point). We had our W WA property, our E WA property, no debt, a little money in the bank, some loaned to a relative and some in aggressive growth mutual funds. We also had a lifetime supply of clothes, tools and books and the expectation of taking Social Security payments 7 years after retirement. We didn't have a crystal ball, a single book on early retirement or any concept of the internet.

If we'd had a crystal ball, we might have anticipated that interest rates would tank, inflation would taper off (and yet the size of everything we bought would mysteriously shrink), our relative would default on his loan, the market would explode/implode/explode, and our real estate values would balloon, deflate and balloon again. We certainly never expected DH to have cancer 3 times or for us to move back to W WA and revive my accounting business.

Depending on how far that crystal ball projected, we may never have retired the first time around. That could have resulted in a lifetime of regret.

I guess my point is that no study or model will truly predict the course of your investments, health or future needs. Our tactic throughout was to avoid spending the income/appreciation from our liquid investments, let alone the principal. This was our inflation hedge. We were also insanely frugal, which isn't that hard when you're living in the woods with alternative energy and Amazon is just an unhatched dream.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:43 pm

Jason wrote:
Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:57 pm
That is one fucking kick ass kitchen. I can smell the pancakes.

And you know what I like about it most? Two chairs. Like, fuck it, we are not even thinking of eating with anyone else. This is our fuckin time and our fuckin kitchen.
@Jason, I just keep reading this and smiling. It's as though you knew us then.* I actually never thought about the two chairs, though they were standard for 10 years.

This is what's cool about sharing a story: an outside perspective. Sometimes it's a revelation.

*We haven't really changed much. ;)

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Fish
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Fish » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:32 am

Thanks so much for the perspective. I think the point is that conditions will never be ideal nor will there be any guarantees of success, so there will always be some element of risk associated with extreme early retirement. Although as Jacob has noted elsewhere, failing means going back to work, which isn't such an awful consequence. You'll likely cover this in time but I'm very curious how you made the decision to go back to work and how well that transition was managed.

It might be selection bias but I find it interesting that extreme early retirement in the pre-FIREcalc era tended toward voluntary simplicity and self-sufficiency.(*) Thoreau, Borsodi, Dominguez/Robin, ... , halfmoon. :D I will venture a guess that before Jacob enlightened us, economic independence was a prerequisite for EER because that was the only path that was intuitive. If you don't like working for money... then you must find a way to not need it. These days we have SWR/FIRE math as an enabler for the STEM generation.

(*) Counter-example might be perma-travelers like Paul Terhorst who retired at 35 in 1984.

You might have mentioned this before but how did you manage food after you retired to Eastern WA? Staples purchased in bulk and supplemented with your own vegetables and meat? How far was the nearest store? Once you were settled, what supplies did you rely on civilization to provide?

Jason
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:29 pm

I like Thoreau, but let's face it, the guy probably couldn't have held a job if his life depended on it. And back then, his way of life was not in extreme distinction from the rest of society as it would be now.

Transcendentalism in practice has its appeal but as a religious substitute it gives me a migraine.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:12 am

Hi! I finally got around to reading your journal. It's been on my list for a while, but I have been stuck in other loops. I am only on page 2, but finding it very entertaining. Since you wrote that you are motivated by comments (my own writing/observed-word-typing is more like a mid-life-acquired symptom of mild bi-polar disease, a variation on racing brain/forced speech, I can't not do it), I am breaking away from reading your journal at this juncture to ask some questions, in typical bookstore author-reading-event audience fashion, although it is possible that you already answered them further along.

1) Have you read "Possum Living?"

2) Do you ever consider this adventure from the perspective of the fact that you are now older than your older husband was at the time you were married?

3) What realm(s) of independent function were you able to stake or boundary as your own within or outside of the greater realm of this partnered project? (I am likely projecting a bit of my own experience in this question since I have been relationship-project-partnered with a variety of men, so I have some comprehension of the strong, almost-gravitational, attractive qualities of a mature man with a definite plan, and the down-side of such an alliance, but also the vice-versas of being partnered with a young man with yet-no-plan, and an older man who is done-with-plan and resting upon his laurels/legacy.)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:57 am

Fish wrote:
Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:32 am
Thanks so much for the perspective. I think the point is that conditions will never be ideal nor will there be any guarantees of success, so there will always be some element of risk associated with extreme early retirement.
True of all elements of existence, and it's a tough lesson for me because I'm a control freak. I'm immeasurably glad that we took the plunge while we were both relatively young, energetic and healthy. The decision to return to work was financial and expected to be short-term. Now I don't need to work, but I somewhat enjoy doing so for limited hours from home. Much more on that later.
Fish wrote:
Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:32 am
It might be selection bias but I find it interesting that extreme early retirement in the pre-FIREcalc era tended toward voluntary simplicity and self-sufficiency. If you don't like working for money... then you must find a way to not need it.
For us (and probably a lot of back-to-the-land folks at that time), it was only partly about not wanting to work at a job. A lot of it was a general desire to be capable, to build things, to provide for ourselves...and in our case, to avoid people. We had no thought of retiring in order to just relax, travel the world or hang out with friends. We wanted to be pioneers. There was a lot of that going on in the seventies; we were just a little late to the party. Some of the prepper movement seems influenced by this, though generally with a lot more money and (as far as I can discern) less concern for the environment.

By the time we built our place in E WA and moved there, we had given up on raising edible animals, so we were actually more reliant on purchased food. Our diet in E WA was mostly vegetarian because it was cheaper, and because we had no refrigeration until later years. We bought grains and beans in bulk, baked our own bread and consumed more canned goods than was probably healthy. There was a huge supply of fruit available, either wild or from abandoned homesteads that sat on public land. We collected elderberries (the non-poisonous kind), apricots (small but intensely flavored), rhubarb, apples, raspberries and rose hips, then dried them, canned them, made jam and wine. We were always amazed that in such an economically depressed area, we seemed to be the only humans harvesting the fruit. We always left plenty for the wildlife. :)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:01 am

@Jason, as mentioned above, we weren't really in the contemplative Thoreau-like state...but religion doesn't do it for me either. To each his own.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:30 am

@7wb5, hi to you also! Does the fact that I've been stalking your posts for a couple of years seem at all creepy? 8-) Yes, feedback and questions are my motivation, along with the hope that people will expand on my stories and tell some of their own in my journal. Re your questions:

1. I haven't read Possum Living. I saw it mentioned in another thread, and I want to read it. I used to read much more than I do now, but the avid readers here are making me feel that I need to get back to that. It's all the internet's fault.

2. I think about this a lot. I'm a compulsive counter/scorekeeper, so I've noted a number of milestones: when I had spent more than half my life with DH, when I reached the age he was when we met (those two being in the same year), when I reached his retirement age of 55. At 59, I sometimes feel pretty old; then I remind myself of the things DH was doing at 59 and kick myself in the self-pitying butt.

3. This is a great question. You may be surprised to hear that our friends and my family all think I dominate DH, who is in their eyes the perfect husband. :lol: I can be quite bossy in a "this is for your own good" kind of way. I do most of the talking because he doesn't like to (and of course I know best anyway). DH calls me his mouthpiece; he refuses to even answer the phone and has been known to hand it to me when I'm in the shower. I put a stop to that, so now he just ignores it.

I handle all of our finances, investments, correspondence and legal matters. I designed most of our construction projects (basic stuff, mind you), drew them to scale on graph paper and compiled materials lists.

DH has always been the practical how-to-do-it part of the equation, but I give lots of input (wanted or not), and sometimes he even listens. :D Though we work side by side, DH was the stronger one until recently. Now I generally do the heavy lifting because he has nerve damage in one arm and multiple compression fractures in his back. I enjoy working hard at things that produce tangible results. Many of our projects have been at my instigation, though that does NOT include the tower. I frankly thought that was insane.

The younger man with no plan has never interested me. I would run right over him.

George the original one
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by George the original one » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:23 am

To accelerate your reading Possum Living: https://www.pdf-archive.com/2012/06/29/ ... living.pdf

tommytebco
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by tommytebco » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:36 am

Speaking of that 40 foot tower???
I keep coming back to learn the details, only to be left hanging.
You're becoming an accomplished author!!!

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:42 am

@Georgetoo, thank you for the link! I downloaded it, so now I have no excuses.

@tommytebco, I'm actually dying to tell the tower story, but I'm trying to go somewhat in order. Just to keep you hanging, however: the tower is 60', not 40'. 8-)

Jason
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:47 am

I went to Walden's Pond. It's a pond. A nice one mind you, but still just a another fuckin pond when you get down to it. He had a little cabin. Symmetrical little thing.

I Appreciated the beauty and simplicity but there wasn't Boz Scaggs back then.

I started reading Emerson recently as he and Thoreau were basically ass fucking the same philosophical dog. It's the secularization of Scottish common sense realism which led to America's great philosophical invention - pragmatism.

So there you have it - I swore and said nothing of any real substance.

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