Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kick The Clutter

So I realized this morning that I'm sitting on the couch using my laptop. Doesn't sound that unusual except it's only because I have no choice. I've carved out a spot in the living room for a small desk where I can have my laptop, a few external drives, and just a place to put a bit of my stuff I don't consider junk, but can easily clutter up an area.

Let me take a step back and let you in on a little information about me. Have you ever seen the show Hoarders? I grew up in that type of mentality. My parents house now has more "stuff" in and around it than you could ever imagine. I naturally grew up thinking this was normal and you never get rid of anything from the category "You might use that some day". Over the past few years I've made strides to just get rid of the clutter and junk that I have around the house. I do have to say that there has been a time or two that I've gone to look for something I need then remember I hadn't used it in years so I got rid of it, but all in all it's been a positive experience.

Back to the reason for this post, The image you see here is what my desk looked like. A few weeks of not wanting to put stuff away, or bringing something in that wasn't here before and having no place for it and this is the result. The desk isn't that big to begin with and I honestly don't remember putting all that on there (I think we have a cleaning fairy that just gets my stuff out of the way) but it's there.

I found all my boot cleaning and polishing supplies, not one, but two mag-lights, a tin full of change (score, wait that was my change anyway), magazines, junk mail, important mail, a couple of hard drives, hand woven bands (yes I do tablet weaving), ham radios, a harmonica, a camera, a morse code keyer, old batteries, and more. All of this on a desktop that measures just under 3ft by 1-1/2 feet. Cluttered is an under statement.

30~45 minutes of cleaning and putting stuff away and this is the result. I'm actually able to sit at the desk and use my computer. You know what? It's actually more comfortable.

Everything is put away and I actually know where it's all at. When I was young, I didn't care how things looked, or if I had to dig through stuff to find what I needed, or even worse didn't bother looking, I just went and bought a new one to lose later. Oh if I only had all that wasted money back.

At any rate, now I think I'll look around and see what else needs to be cleaned. I may even be able to setup a keyboard tonight and put those monitors to use with a little music recording. Something that I don't do nearly enough of anymore.

For those paying attention, yes that's an official government brain reader blocker up there on top. At least I made mine fashionable. Go over and read my rant blog if you're wondering what it's all about.

I'm a winner!!

Had a very nice surprise yesterday. I recently found a new blog to read and posted a comment to their story about hitting 500 followers. Little did I know that I would win a $60.00 prize for that comment.

It'll take a while to read through it all (I'm not even close) but there is a ton of great info on there for the person wanting to be more self sufficient. Go take a look and be sure to follow them so you don't miss anything.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Which Format Is Best?

I've said before I get a lot of my knowledge from reading. I also get a lot of entertainment from reading as well. My main dilemma right now is figuring out which format is best. Should I get an e-book, audio book, or a printed and bound version? This is not an easy question to answer but I feel the copyright laws have a lot to do with the problem in making that decision.

Warning, the following paragraph is a personal rant, feel free to jump to the next one.

An author writes a book and expects that he/she should be paid for their efforts and  agree. But the question is how many times should they get paid for it? If 100 people enjoy their book then they should get paid 100 times for it. Now when I go and buy a book I can read that book as many times as I want for my entire life and never have to pay for it again. I have paid my fees and own the right to enjoy that book. My question is why should I have to pay again if I want to listen to that book? Oh you could say in that case you're not paying for the book again as much as paying the person that read it to you and those that recorded, engineered, produced, it etc. and to some extent you're right. What about an e-book version of the book? Why pay extra and sometimes even more for a version that is already created when the book is prepared for printing?

Now, back to the original question. Which version is best? Printed and bound copies can and eventually will wear out and they take a lot of space especially for someone that that is trying to eliminate clutter, but there's just something about having a book in your hand and turning the pages. E-book versions won't wear out and you still hold the reader in your hand like a book, but it's not a question of if technology will fail, but when. It always fails eventually and I have the stack of hard drives to prove it. Audio books are in a class of themselves. I can't see listening to how to maintain a diesel generator for entertainment and when I need to do the job, I need to be able to jump around and reference it. But when you want to listen to some entertainment and music isn't getting it there's nothing like a good story to get you where you want to go. I especially like the versions from Graphic Audio because they're not just read but are full productions like the old time radio programs with multiple voices and sound effects. Their tagline is A Movie In Your Mind and it's true. I must have listened to Jerry Ahern's Survivalist series a hundred times and they just release the final book which I need to get.

Personally I would like to have an e-book and printed version of every book I have just for the options, but since I currently have about seven thousand e-books not including the technical and magazines, That's just not an option. Magazines themselves are another issue. I love reading a magazine and I think the reason is with my ADD they are always something different.

My advice is get an e-reader and start building a collection. Don't forget all the free books available on the internet. I'm not advocating breaking copyright laws, but I believe if someone buys an e-book and doesn't like or want it they have every right to give it away just like a printed copy. You definitely will want to get a copy of calibre to manage the collection or it can get out of hand really quick.

If you like printed books, keep an eye on sites like craigslist and watch for free or bargain buys.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Place To Rant

Lest this blog become too political and lost it's focus, I have created another blog where I can vent my political rants as I see fit. This will also be where I post most of my preparedness thoughts as well but there may be some cross-over on those posts as they are a part of us getting ready not only to move, but be a part of out lifestyle once we get where we're going.

The blog is called The Tinfoil Fedora and can be found here. 

Lesson Of The Day:

I figure I learn something new every day so that should give me something to post about each day. Technically it should be called lesson of yesterday but that just sounds weird.

Yesterday I learned not only how to hang up clothes to dry, but the timing involved in when you hang up those wet clothes. I now understand why getting the clothes on to wash early in the morning is so important during the winter. There just isn't enough time for them to dry when you hang them up at two thirty in the afternoon and the sun is starting to go past the house putting the clothes line in the shade. 

Bonus lesson; Leaving them up overnight doesn't mean they'll be dry in the morning. :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Solar Clothes Dryer

We have another first. I just hung up my first load of laundry on a solar clothes dryer. We have a pretty good arangement worked out on the laundry. I wash and dry and she folds and puts away. It's worked pretty well for us and I don't see a reason to change it. But this post is about a change in the way we dry our clothes.

To dry your clothes you have three real choices. Electric Dryer, Gas Dryer, or Solar/Wind Dryer. Pop quiz: Which of these doesn't cost you every load? This is strictly a financial decision we've made about doing our laundry. Why spend the money to dry them when they will dry just as well hanging on a rope? Yes it takes longer but it's free. No it doesn't remove the dog hair like the dryer, but it also doesn't remove a part of the clothes with every load. (That lint has to come from somewhere).

We've already been mixing our own laundry soap and have found it goes further because you don't need to use near as much. The clothes don't seem to get dirty as fast (I think it's because there is no soap residue for the dirt to stick to). And the clothes get just as clean if not more so. No odors, no scents, no dirt, just clean clothes.

As for how these do without the dryer (will they need to be ironed?) we'll have to wait and see.

As for me, I just feel good that I saved a few more dollars towards our goals of getting the heck out of dodge.

Knowledge is Power! (Are you sure about that?)

They say that knowledge is power but at what point have you had enough? The average person today is presented with more information in one day than a person in the middle-ages got in their entire life. Stop reading for a minute and think about the impact of that last statement. No, really think about it for a minute......

Throughout my life I've always had people ask me, "How do you know that?" usually after I've passed on some obscure information to a random question they asked not expecting a response. I credit it to an insatiable appetite to learn. Now that will seem funny coming from a guy that got kicked out of high school and ended up with a GED 4 years after he should have graduated but my problem was never learning it was the style of teaching that caused me problems. Take a group of people and teach them all at the lowest common denominator (no student left behind) and you're bound to have problems with the smarter kids getting bored and eventually getting into trouble. This was one of the major reasons we chose to home-school our daughter, but that's a subject for another post. 

I learn by reading, reading, reading, reading, along with a ton of hands on experience. I don't do anything half-way, I go into it full bore. Now finishing it is another story. Once I've learned how to do it, I have a bad habit of not finishing the project but that's something that I'm working on overcoming. 

I read about chickens for over a year online. How to hatch them, how to raise them, what then need for food, what they need for nesting and shelter, etc. Then I went and bought a few chicks, build them a coop and within a month from this post we should be getting eggs. How did I know what to do? I read it online in blogs, forums, personal pages, etc. Learn from others mistakes. 

But the subject for this post came as I was setting up the daily reading list for the sidebar on this blog. There are blogs I read daily and some I read offline using my nook and calibre to download and format the feeds into an ebook. (Another post I need to write) The problem is that very list of blogs. You come here to read my posts because you hope to glean some info from it that you can apply to your daily lives. (or you just find my style of writing entertaining) then you figure "I like the things he does so I should check out the blogs he reads" and it begins. I went to each blog I read and realized they had another 10~20 blogs listed that they read. I open them and they have their lists, and so on, and so on. Yes you'll find some crossover the further you get into niche' areas but at what point is it enough? 

Based on what I found over the last hour, I could easily have a list of hundreds if not thousands of blogs to read but there is only so much time in the day and most people need to get at least a few hours sleep at night. My quest for information to have myself prepared when we get ourselves out in the country could be what keeps us from getting there. What I need to do is go over all the blogs I read and find a way of tracking just hoe much info I really get from them and start to trim the fat. If I start reading another blog, I need to find one that is giving less info and drop it. 

Now there are exceptions. If I find a new blog that only posts once a week but has great info then I don't need to get rid of a daily reader but find a day when I have less to do in the real world to be able to read it. But again in moderation. Having 100 blogs that post once a week still adds to each day. 

Why did I write all this? if for no other reason than to get myself back to the real world and offline a bit more. Yes having internet access is one of our main priorities when we make it into the country. The information resource is too big of an asset to lose but like everything else it needs to be taken in moderation. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh to get away..

It's interesting sometimes how your life evolves. I was born in Alabama, but spent the first 8 years of my life travelling around the world as an army brat. I went to Germany, Georgia, Vermont, and eventually moved out to Southern California. Through a series of events I eventually ended up playing keyboards then bass for a band about 50 miles from my house. About 5 years later I met my future wife and the rest as they say is history.

Anyone who knows us would at first wonder where this idea of living out in the country came from but then after thinking about it would realize we're just on the fringe enough that it makes sense. And yes, our 18 year old daughter has every intention of going with us.

So what are our goals?

Our immediate goal is to have enough cash by January 2012 to purchase land, buy a new truck to pull our trailer to that land, and enough cash to get started on building a small dwelling to live in.

Now I say dwelling because we still haven't decided on exactly what we want to live in. The options range from a micro-house, to a log cabin, to a yurt. I'm sure that will be decided over the next year.

Now what is the point of this blog? I hope to chronicle our progress towards our goals as well as talk about the things we learn from others that have done the same before us so I'll have my own reference to use when we get out there.
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