Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

Jim wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 6:22 pm
Cam, it's a joy for me to read through your journal, especially with your welding gig work. When I was in my 20s I did a fair amount of welding work. My close friend ended up making a very successful business out of what we started together in our mid 20s. though I chose another path. We started out with an old ford ranger and an industrial Airco 3 phase behemoth that took up most of the bed. I recall rebuilding the truck suspension so it wasn't such a hazard to drive around on. Nowadays, you can do so much more with a much smaller machine!

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't run a mobile welding outfit out of a car. Being able to get work by undercutting the going rate is a good way to cut your teeth, but not a great long term plan. The only other advice I have is to not be afraid to make very high quotes on jobs you think might get complicated. If people don't want to pay you for a tough job, and it might become stressfull, there's a good chance it won't be worth doing.
Who knew there was a mobile welder right on this forum! Yes I think it will be more a side thing to supplement my full time income from my new job. I can understand why full-time mobile welders want the proper setup. It's so much faster and easier to work with lots of space, a strong work clamp, not needing extension cords etc.

The last job was time and materials as the guy said he'd pay whatever to fix the splitter. I went into the repair knowing it was a cheap splitter, so I kept that in mind. I haven't actually needed to do a quote yet but I know it will come!
grundomatic wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 4:05 pm
The plumber I hired to fix what I couldn't said that he ran his plumbing business out of his Cadillac for 3-4 months until he saved enough for a work van, so such things aren't unheard of. Congratulations on the job!
Thank you for the encouragement! And also thank you for the book recommendation. I finished up Refuse to Choose not long ago and wow was it ever a great read. It was so comforting to know that how I am is more than okay, it's actually pretty cool. And also to see different potential paths forward for me. It changed my perspective on the rising amount of contract work out there.

As for other reading, I just finished up listening to the Dhando Investor on Audible for free. My oh my was that ever a good listen. It runs completely counter to most investing wisdom I have absorbed so far - mainly with the tag line "few bets, big bets, infrequent bets". It mentioned the Little Book that Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt, which I read while I lived on the homestead in 2021. I might reread it. I have joined Value Investors Club and I'm having fun right now looking at companies on the 52 week low list. I think now that I have a good chunk of cash I could allocate a small percentage of it to a 'actively managed' portion of my portfolio. A percentage small enough that if I do mess up it won't hurt me much, but will also allow me to finally stray from indexed investing a bit.

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

September was a good month money-wise. I earned nearly $4000 and spent only $800 of that. A good portion of the spending is chiropractor appointments ($215) and tickets for a Noah Kahan concert for me and my girlfriend to go to next april ($120!).

Why have I spent over $200 at the chiropractor? Sciatica :D I am proud to say I can actually empathize with people who have back pain now. For about a week and a half now I have been dealing with a shooting pain/stiffness concentrated in my left glute. Minor tingling runs down into my leg and all the way to my foot too. I haven't been to the chiropractor in over four years (ever since I strengthened my back up in university) so he was surprised to see me. I had minor soreness at the beginning, and thought I had just lifted something wrong. However when I went to my friends cottage for the weekend it got a lot worse. I could barely sit by the fire and on the boat when we went out for a ride. I woke up frequently to take pain killers. My range of motion was severely limited. Not fun!

At my first appointment, we did a full intake because it had been so long since I'd been in. He tested my reflexes as part of the examination, and found that my Achilles reflex, or ankle jerk reflex on my left foot was completely absent. My right foot was totally fine. He gave me a number of stretches to do, and I have been steadily improving. However, I'm still stiff enough that people comment when I walk by them :lol:

Big picture, I think what caused this was weak lower back muscles and a weak core. This, combined with my new desk job, and sitting with my legs crossed knee over knee, most likely is what what led to the sciatica. Long term I need to focus on strengthening my core and lower back, but also on making sure to take breaks from sitting during the day.

Other aspects of my life are going quite well. The new job, aside from the sitting, is very enjoyable. It is a fantastic work environment, much better than any other one I have been part of before. We recently ran a fundraiser, expecting to only make a bit of money as we had a lot of roadblocks come up. But we ended up setting a record for amount raised!!

My girlfriend and I are still getting along really well. We're actually going to do a 'trial run' of me moving in with her at the start of next week. Her roommate is gone for placement all month, so we figured we'd give it a shot. If all goes well, I can consider moving in with her in March 2024 when her roommate permanently leaves. When I was doing the math, all costs added up to just over $1100 per month. That includes rent, hydro, internet, my car costs, food, and my cell phone. It's a third of my income which is $3600 a month after taxes. I know I can put away that additional $1100 staying at home, but I am itching to get out on my own and this seems like a good opportunity.

Before the whole kerfuffle with electrical, I was on my way to school this fall to become a communicative disorders assistant. I am very happy to have ended up where I did, but I was genuinely very excited to go out on my own and actually have to do everything myself.

I'm not 100% sure I'll move out just yet, but there is still time to think about it.

Today, I am very tired. I slept just okay last night, and my back has been draining my energy all day. I'm really grateful for my job, as they are extremely understanding. It's also great that working from home is an option for me too.

Time to do some stretches!

delay
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2022 9:21 am
Location: Netherlands, EU

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by delay »

Cam wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 6:34 pm
Big picture, I think what caused this was weak lower back muscles and a weak core. This, combined with my new desk job, and sitting with my legs crossed knee over knee, most likely is what what led to the sciatica. Long term I need to focus on strengthening my core and lower back, but also on making sure to take breaks from sitting during the day.
That sounds right. I've been having back pain every few years. It seems like there is a certain amount of pain I have to move through. Then the pain goes away.

One thing I learned is not to ignore the early warning signs. The pain seems to be a symptom of an unhealthy life, not a flaw in my back. I try to welcome the pain and start exercises right away.

Sitting on a chair without a back seems to help. This felt impossible until I tried it. After a week I could sit through the entire working day.

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

That's an excellent perspective to take delay I like that. I have been sitting on the edge of the office chair at work while working and my back feels a lot better afterwards. The original issue was solved at my last couple chiropractor appointments, but now I think I overstretched a muscle in my leg and it spasms ever so often. We're almost back to normal though!

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

October seemed to fly by for me. Also, because the pay schedule changed for my job, I ended up getting 2x what I normally earn. I earned over $7000, spent $1500 and put away around $5500.

I can't actually think of too much enthralling that happened. Well, I guess one mystery is a bike showing up in our garage out of nowhere. I'm living with my girlfriend (giving it a trial run this month) so I'm not up at my parents place much. However I was up there one night, to use my angle grinders to sand some wood rounds we were going to need for centrepieces for a dance fundraiser my work was putting on. It was fun, and I got very dusty, but there was no bike to be seen. Then just two days later I went up to change my tires, and the bike was just laying there when I went into the garage.

Both of the wheels didn't spin, but it wasn't a hard fix for either. The front wheel had the cable and housing routed the wrong way for the brakes, so they were always engaged. The rear wheel was being stopped by a cargo rack that was badly bent out of shape and rubbing the wheel. The rim tape for the front wheel was wrapped up in the spokes as the tire was completely deflated. I redid the rim tape with a mix of electrical tape and whatever else I had laying around, then pumped both tires up. They both hold air, but the tread is quite worn.

All in all it isn't a bad bike - a Giant Sedona DX I believe. But where did it come from? I asked everyone in my immediate family; they had no clue. I texted my uncle, because he sometimes drops stuff off to us. He usually communicates quite well about it, but I asked just to see if he forgot to this time. Nope, not him either!

When I first spotted the bike, I immediately checked to see the rest of our bikes were still there. Indeed they were, which is good. Last time we had a bike mysteriously show up, it was because we "traded" it without our consent for one of our much nicer bikes :lol: I gave a quick look around to see if anything else was missing. Everything seemed to be there as far as I could tell, but the garage is a little chaotic so I might have missed something.

We'll definitely be making sure the garage is closed and locked up, because I think this bike came from someone with no connections to our family. I'm not sure if they're expecting to come back for it or not. I wish it was a bit of a smaller frame, as my mom loves the look of it but I think the frame is too big for her.

The only other option I can think of is my bike repair people from this summer dropping it off - but again I would expect some sort of communication about it. Either way, we have another bike now!

That was a longer story than I thought it'd be.

Here is a bit more structure.

What I've been reading: The Myth of Normal by Gabor Mate. I have heard of him before, but I was very drawn when I saw his book in the library. It discusses how a lot of mental illness is actually a response to trauma. He talks about depression, addictions, schizoprhrenia and more. It is a bit of a depressing read, but a really good one. He wants to change the conversation about mental illness to turn away from the disease model,and to see it instead as a dynamic process that is intimately tied with how are lives play out.

Health and fitness: I am slowly regaining the muscle I lost during my bad back times. I know I lost weight from losing muscle, but I also lost weight because I ended up eating better here than I do at home! My vegetable intake has gone up plenty, and I have eaten much less meat. I love eating the vegetable based meals, because they are insanely cheap, very healthy, and I can eat until I'm stuffed and feel no guilt about it whatsoever. However the biggest change is me eating far less sweet stuff. My girlfriend doesn't have a sweet tooth, so there is little in the way of sweet snacks to binge on. As I write this my only option is some mcintosh apples and a tiny jar of honey I got as a gift after a community fun run yesterday.

Work: My job is going great. I think they have realized that I can figure all this stuff out, so the projects just keep coming now. Invoicing, payroll, fundraisers, grants...I'm learning about all of it by doing. And I still receive at least 2 hugs per day! However the hugs may be put on pause as we are weathering a covid outbreak at the program. So far so lucky for me, and I hope it stays that way. They have a bunch of KN95 masks, but it's only me and the executive director who wear them. Everyone else just wears the blue surgical ones that stop large droplets but nothing else. Oh well.

Social life: going well, at least for introverted me. I see one friend about once or twice a week to play basketball at our local community centre, and my other friend group around once a week to play cards and drink tea. All is well in this department, though I think I should organize a bigger get together to see some of the friends I haven't seen in a while.

Investing: so far so good. I am not at all adhereing to the permanent portfolio percentages - I still have 60% of my net worth in cash, and about 17% in stocks and 17% in bonds. Precious metals only take up about 5%. The reason for the huge cash portion is my plan to purchase land, most likely within the next few years.

Overall, life is good. :D

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

I'm a little late making this entry - oops. Life is going well though.

One of my big landmarks that I've hit is actually being semi-ready to purchase land. For 4 years now it has been a dream/long-term plan, but now with my cash steadily increasing I am beginning to see properties that I could purchase out right. For example, this parcel of land just outside Cochrane for $60,000. https://www.recreationland.net/property ... -canadian/

37.6 acres, walking distance from town, all rights (surface, mineral and tree) come with purchase, on a municipally maintained road, not on a floodplain of a river, in a very small town with a population that could be fed by local agriculture...it goes on! I don't think I will purchase it as I would like something closer to home. However the crazy thing for me is that I can purchase it now - mind you I would need to sell some other assets. The key is that this is no longer a "maybe some day" thing but something I need to get ready for. Preferably, I'd like to be able to purchase any land cash so I don't have a mortgage. Having a mortgage isn't horrible, but if I'm going to be starting basically from scratch, I'd like it to be debt free.

Some next steps to take for me are to get pre-approved for a loan, if I do decide to go that route. Also to decide on my asset allocation from here on in - I am worth around 64K right now, but only 60% of that is cash - the rest is spread out in other asset classes.

That's what is on my mind for big picture stuff at the moment.

Otherwise, life is going pretty smoothly. My job is still going swimmingly. The big fundraisers are finished now, so I can relax and do some big picture thinking. I got an audible account for my work email, and used the free credit to 'purchase' The Little Book of Gold by Erik Hanberg. I used my free credit on my personal account to download Philanthropy Revolution by Lisa Greer. The organization I work for is able to fund its current activities, and has done so for 17 years now. The challenge is expanding to meet their growing demand. They currently serve 34 people, but 25 more are on a waitlist. I'm excited to help them achieve this goal of expanding to meet the growing need while still being sustainable long-term.

That is all for now, I might make another entry later on. I just needed to get this update out before I forgot. :D

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

I have gained the power to reanimate laptops - through Linux!! Mwahahaha.

I need to start with that, because I'm having so much fun with it. I recently finished the holiday circuit with my girlfriend - seeing all the family and getting and giving gifts. We kept our nose sprays close at hand, because neither of us wants covid again (we both still have effects from a previous infection). I ended up still getting sick - yay me! But I have tested three times and it ain't covid, which is nice. Just a minor sore throat and stuffy nose.

So while I've been resting, I got the idea to reanimate some laptops. I have been exploring linux on and off for at least several months now. I tried unsuccessfully to put it on my old macbook (2008 dinosaur), then on my Chromebook which worked a bit better. After that I kind of forgot about it, at least until both my older brother and my dad upgraded their laptops. Both of their old ones were getting really slow and clunky. They were both just sitting there, looking sad :( So I watched some videos and learned the very basics of linux. I downloaded the Cinnamon edition of Mint onto a USB key and got to work.

It's awfully fun going into the BIOS settings on my computer. I'm sure the more computer literate around here don't think much of it, but it makes me feel like a hacker. I chose to boot from the USB, and tested it out. Wow! The laptop performed like new. Everything was zippy, and it came loaded with all the software I'd need - firefox, libre office for word processing and spreadsheets...and that's about all I need honestly :lol:

With my brother's permission, I backed up all the files on the laptop to google drive and to a separate USB stick. Then I installed linux so it's the only OS on the laptop now. Maybe I should have partitioned it so I still had windows as an option, but this is more of an experiment for me than anything.

I also kept messing around with our ancient Toshiba Portege R400. This beast was released in 2007. It has 80GB of storage, a 1.2Ghz processor, and 2GB of RAM. It’s actually what I am typing this entry on. I’m using Puppy Linux running off a USB.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with these laptops, now that they’re all up and running again. I don’t really want to risk selling one to someone only to have it go kerplunk and die on them. I am open to ideas here.

For now, I’m going to use my brother’s old laptop as my daily driver to see if it can do everything I need it do. Then I may install linux on my windows laptop, but keep it partitioned so I still have windows if I want it or need it for a certain project.

In terms of the rest of my life - it is going very well!

My job at the local non-profit is still going smoothly - I have a lot of research to read in the new year about donor acquisition and retention. I think working from the inside out, I can substantially increase the donations we receive each year. As of now, there are no targeted asks, giving campaigns, or anything of the sort. There are a lot of fundraising events. When it comes to raising money though, events are the most labour intensive option. Direct donations are much simpler to obtain, and they save time and resources for the cause.

I am still deciding what my big project for 2024 will be. I keep bouncing between starting a local repair cafe, or putting more effort into growing my welding business. The repair cafe could be done with lots of time and effort, and not much cash investment. The same could be said for my welding side-gig. I'm sure if I put more effort into advertising, I'd have more work coming my way. As of now, all I have is a Kijiji ad up. I've only gotten one job completed through that avenue. The rest of the folks just stopped responding after a little bit of back and forth.

Hmmm...am I overthinking this? Is this something that could be done simultaneously? I also don't want to overload myself. I do still have a full-time job, lots of other hobbies, and a girlfriend who annoyingly enjoys spending time with me :D Either way, I know either option would force me out of my current comfort zone, and that’s what I need.

Financially, things are looking hot. In March of 2023 (when I started recording my net worth) I had $47,000 in assets. I now have $68,000 in assets. Not bad! I’m going to print off my bank statements and see just how much I earned this year, to get my savings rate. Well, at least my savings rate for the past nine months.

My mom managed to get some coupons to a local martial arts studio for a free week of classes. To me either jiu jitsu or muay thai kickboxing both sound like a lot of fun to me. Not that I have ever needed to physically defend myself. I am extremely agreeable, and have been in zero physical altercations. I think it’d help me to get more coordinated though. I don’t know how much classes cost there, but a free week is a free week!

The Search for Land: I need to see what the bank will be willing to pre-approve me for. I have $68,000 in assets, 60% of which is cash. I earn $55K a year, but it isn’t a permanent job which will change things. I’m not in any rush to buy, but I’m curious to see what I can actually purchase if I do see a good plot posted this year.

I’m not sure what other skills I want to level up this year...definitely welding is one. I think TIG practice on relatively funky metals (cast aluminum, cast iron, high carbon steel etc.) would help me stand out from the crowd of welders around town. Something exciting fabrication-wise is my old trade school now having a plasma table for rent. I don’t know the size of it yet, or the cutting ability, but I’m assuming it’s going to be a good size as the program caters to engineering and larger projects. I only found out by running into my one of my old instructors while I was out grocery shopping. Having access to a plasma table is super awesome, and will open a lot of paths forward for me with regard to fabricating.

Anyhoo, that is all I can think of at the moment. I’m looking to catching up with other journals, as I haven’t been on here in a bit. Happy new year everyone! :D

Cam
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 8:21 am

Re: Building a better world - Cam's Journal

Post by Cam »

I read the thread about the Skillathon, and I love the idea of it. I didn't want to commit to anything though, as my life is quite busy as it is.

However, it looks as if January was my unofficial month of electronics repair! All the laptops I "re-animated" are still working fine. In addition I fixed the following:

1) Two Playstation 3 controllers. The batteries were done in both of them. They would power on when plugged in, but would die immediately after removing the cable. I hopped on eBay, ordered replacement batteries ($14 each). When they arrived, it was a simple procedure. The batteries simply plug in to the board with a little clip. Now my friends and I can game together again. I did mess up when I put my friend's controller back together, and the L2 trigger is constantly pressed down ever so slightly. When we played Dead Island, his character wouldn't stop kicking :lol: Don't worry, I did fix it, but it made for a fun session laughing at his constant kicks.

2) My old motorola phone. This wasn't as much of a screaming success. The speaker stopped working on it when I bought it used a few years ago. Back then, I just switched to another phone as I had no clue how to fix it. But now, with my ifixit kit (Christmas gift to myself) and my new-found overconfidence in my mobile repair abilities, I got to work. I did all the software tests to try to fix it that way first. Fun fact: Motorola has a free repair tool you can use to troubleshoot issues on your own https://www.motorola.ca/rescue-and-smart-assistant/p.
When none of that worked, I went to Youtube university. After a quick search, I found a video tutorial to follow. I followed it through - perfect execution, except for accidentally slicing the fingerprint reader cable. The speaker worked after. Yahoo! However, it stopped working again a few days after. You win some, you lose some.

3) I installed LineageOS on my google pixel. This isn't so much repair as experimentation. I have been learning about protecting my privacy better, and as a result I have been slowly migrating away from Google services. Installing Lineage was a big step towards that. It isn't that I'm planning anything super subversive - it just feels nice knowing I can go about my life without being constantly tracked now. I still do have my old motorola if I really do need google services, but for the most part I have loved the new OS. It basically turned my pixel into a "dumb phone".

Financially, things are still on the up and up. I hit $70K net worth this month.

I have been connecting better with my close friends recently. Having the fixed controllers lets us hangout virtually now. We still get together for cards too, but it's fun hopping on a group call while we're shooting each other and/or zombies.

Things are going well with my girlfriend too. We hit 6 months in January, and things still seem to be only getting better. I'm working on a valentines gift for her right now. She knows I have this journal, but I doubt she'll read it before Wednesday. My plan is to cut out two small heart shapes out of 1/8" aluminum I have laying around. Drill holes in them for string, get them all polished up. Then we're going to paint them together on valentines day and we'll both have cute, home-made, and long lasting necklaces to wear! I'll also be buying her some luxury gifts, including at least one bag of no name salt and vinegar chips.

A screen just arrived in the mail on Friday. It's for my Umidigi A7 Pro, a cheap chinese phone I bought in 2022. When I worked at the welding shop, the display cracked in my pocket. Don't ask me how. It was completely non-functional after that. Now that I have my repair kit and a youtube tutorial to follow, I'm going to try putting the new screen on it. If I'm successful, I'll have four mostly functional phones :lol: I have to keep promising to my girlfriend that I am not a drug dealer and that I am not cheating or running a money laundering operation.

As for welding, I went out in the garage last week and just burned rod for over an hour. I practiced the horizontal position with 6010, a fast freezing electrode. I am getting quite consistent with the horizontal position now too. I'm procrastinating with TIG, because I know my gas bottle is almost empty. I don't want to get it all set up to only weld for a few minutes. But I also don't want to swap it for a new one until it's empty. It's a hard life being cheap sometimes. I just need to bite the bullet and do some more practice until I run out of gas entirely.

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