Cost Per Mile

I have some time to kill before podcast recording tonight.  I was balancing my checkbook and took a quick look at the report it generated for last year.  I noticed that all my auto expenses for last year were $2532.10.  It breaks down like this:

Fuel $839.25
Insurance $806.00
Service $545.16
Registration $222.69
Parking $99.00
Tax (tolls) $20

And since I drove for 10,400 miles last year.  I'm basically paying (253210/10400) 24.3 cents per mile.  This isn't taking into account depreciation or cost of the car because I don't know how to figure that.  Based on just this, each time I bike to work I'm saving 12 * 25 cents or roughly $3.  I didn't bike that much last year, just 1082 miles.  But that's a savings of $3246, which is kind of impressive, I think.  Makes me want to keep biking.  And I'm happy that I biked to tutoring and the library last night, even though it was 5 degrees.  It was a painful (approximate) mile to ride, but I saved myself a quarter.  🙂

Starting Off Right

When it was below 0F last week, I saw some people out biking and admired them. I thought if it got above 15-20F, that I would ride too. So this morning, I had a nice, slow ride to work to start the year off right. It's around 27F, so a little chilly, but pretty nice compared to last week. I felt good, though, a second thin pair of socks would have been helpful. But that's ok. I want to start riding to work more and this is part of the process.

My ride in .

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year! It's 2018! This is the year that I turn 50. I feel like I should mark the occasion somehow. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do the week of my birthday, but I'm not sure about the rest of the year.

Unlike in years past, I can't think of one big, new habit that I'm trying to establish. That one thing that I can use my calendar for to track how well I'm doing. Since I started doing this a few years ago, I've had successes (more biking) and failures (no sugar). I've found that I'll tend to be more successful if I make it about doing something instead of avoiding doing something. That makes sense. Focus on the positive and not the negative. What I want to do here is set up some process that I can follow and be done.

I recently read this book called Ikigai. I liked it a lot. Ikigai is basically about finding your purpose in life and how that leads to a long and healthy life. There were many things in the book that I agree with and some that I already do. The one thing that jumped out at me was that 100% of the people they talked to that lived to 100 had vegetable gardens. I love this because gardening is one of my latest obsessions. Additionally, my diet has never been the greatest because I'm not much of a cook, but I'm trying to improve. So I think my goal this year is to eat at least one vegetable a day. This might not sound like much, but I think it's a good habit for me. I can try to grow some stuff to get a variety and also try to learn different ways to cook vegetables. It's a positive goal. For people who grew up eating a lot of different vegetables, this might sound simple, but I never really cared much for vegetables, so I tended to avoid them and still do.

Now that I have my daily chart out of the way, what else. My new focus on the house is to get the lead water line changed. So I'm saving for that and if I'm lucky can get that replaced this summer.

I still ride my bike a lot, but not as much as a few years ago. I need to get back into the habit of biking to work. And I'd like to take my bike on the train to ride around other cities again. I like exploring cities that way, so I should do it more often.

More DIY projects. The more projects I do, the more skills I'll learn, thus enabling me to do even more projects. Plus, I really like making stuff. It's so satisfying. I have to get a better handle on using my welder this year. And I'd like to learn how to make different types of woodworking joints and get comfortable enough with them that I don't have to review how to make them each time before I try.

Now that I've been gardening for a few years, I want to get better at it. I want to rebuild my raised beds in a more organized manner. And set them up so that I can make a sort of greenhouse around them for next winter. I have some ideas about how to do this and it will require me to spend a little money. I think this will be a good investment, so I'm ok with that.

As I said before, I turn 50 this year. I've read a lot of books that are (like Ikigai) about living a good life, happiness, etc. And just about all of them say that the things in life you do in service for others are what are the most satisfying. Giving away time and/or money for a cause you believe in makes you feel more connected to those around you. In the past few years, I've found this to be absolutely true. And I've tried to make my actions follow my beliefs. I know that most of my actions are completely inconsequential in the larger universe, but I often tell myself to behave as though they are of the utmost consequence. If this year marks the beginning of the second half of my life (because I tell myself that I want to live to 100), I want to kick it off in a special way. I want to feel even more connected to people. So each month I want to do something beneficial to others. I haven't quite figured out what this will be, but it's an on-going project. This was the idea behind signing up for tutoring at my local literacy center. So that's how I'm starting. We'll see how the year goes.

Happy New Year!

Year is Half Over

That was quick. 2017 is already halfway over. Thought I'd take a minute to see how the year is progressing so far.

I started the year off great with my no sugar habit. But then I went on vacation at the end of April and sort of fell off the wagon for May and June. My intention was to start July better, but that hasn't happened. The good thing though is that I am getting better about not totally overindulging when I have a little bit of sugar. I just put the black face on the calendar and try to get back to eating right. And my new mantra is "I'll try again tomorrow". No use beating myself up over it.

My DIY projects have been going pretty well. I've made a number of things. Beer flight paddles for my brother's brew pub. They're working really well and he just asked me for 7-10 more. So I'll have to get on that. I made some small planters for my mom out of old boards in the basement. And I made a huge planter for my mom out of some old doors I found. I've gotten the welder all set up, though I haven't actually used it yet. Though that's more of a problem of finding space in my garage. For safety, I only want to weld outside or in the garage...not in the house.

I had emptied the back of my upstairs to start gutting it. That hasn't happened. In fact, I moved a twin bed up there because my brother and his husband moved all their stuff to my house because they're going to Shanghai for the year. And since I hurt my back about 10 days ago, I've been sleeping on this twin bed because it's harder than my own bed. So while I have great intentions for working on the house, nothing has been done.

The garden is looking pretty good. And I bought a ton of herbs. A new goal that I have is to try to learn how to cook well. I think I might need to use the herbs. Someday, I'd like to invite people over to my house for a dinner party and be able to cook for them. Shoot, I'd even like to be able to cook myself some decent meals. I have absolutely no confidence in my cooking skills at this time.

So far this year I have already bought myself a new bike. That was an excellent purchase and I like it a lot. Granted, I also got hit by a car for the first time ever. Fortunately, both me and my bike were fine, so I can keep riding. So I now fully understand the whole "you have to get back on the horse that threw you" mentality. I won't say that it didn't affect me, as I do tend to tense up when there are more cars around. But I do still ride. I also got a drill press. And it didn't cost me anything. Mickey gave it to me. I haven't yet used it because it didn't come with a key and I couldn't find mine. But I'm sure I'll use it soon.

So far the year is going well. My sister is getting married in two weeks, so I'm very happy for her. My brother and his husband are embarking on an adventure in Shanghai, so I'm happy for them. I still like my job and can take care of myself, so I'm happy for me.

January 2017 Checkin

Based on last year, I know I won't keep up with checking in each month. However, January is usually pretty easy. Let's go straight to the chart.

My no eating sugar looks pretty successful so far. The first week's failures were all because I didn't realize that bacon contained sugar. So I didn't eat much sugar on those days, but it was some. So they got changed to frowns after I read the package ingredients on Friday. Aside from that, there were only three days where I had sugar. The 20th was worst and I was a bit upset with myself on the 21st for not staying in better control. The 28th was a party for Ted's birthday and I had a piece of cake. Happily, it was a small piece and I didn't eat any of the other sugar that was around.

Since a lot of foods have added sugar, what am I actually eating? Each day, for breakfast, I scramble one egg in butter, put it in a tortilla with some mozzarella cheese and eat that with a handful of blueberries. I have maybe 4 oz of orange juice mixed with water to drink. On the weekends, I may make some coffee which I drink with just milk. I'm not crazy about the coffee, but I'm usually cold, so I like the warm drink. For lunch, I've mixed things up more. A lot of days, I'd take noodles with mozzarella cheese on them for lunch. Lately, I've been just taking a tortilla and putting cheese in that. If I make some chicken, I've taken that too. I like the tortilla the best because there's no plasticware that I need to bring home to wash. I usually just take it in a freezer bag. And then I also take a bag of raisins and blueberries as well. I also have a container of macadamia nuts in my office. I've learned that around 9 - 9:30, I'm usually eating some nuts and blueberries. For dinner, I've been trying to get more protein, so I've been making meat. I bought chicken breasts, pork chops and some steaks. I clearly don't know how to cook a steak because they always seem really tough to me. Breading and frying the chicken and pork work out the best. The key? Paprika. Found that I like that a lot. I've also had some salad with a vinegrette, but I have to say I don't really enjoy that at all. I've been enjoying the pork chop the best and I'll probably be buying some more of those. My favorite thing to eat lately are triscuits with mozzarella cheese and raisins.

The good news is that I'm sure I've saved more than I paid for the Costco membership with what I've bought there. I eat about 5 lbs of mozzarella cheese every few weeks. I can finish a big container of blueberries in just over a week. Raisins last longer, but I buy lots of those as well. A container of macadamia nuts lasts about as long as the blueberries. All of that, I get at Costco. Other stuff, I get from Mariano's. And an added benefit for so carefully preparing my lunches and dinner is that I hardly use any cash. Not buying any meals, so I'm not spending $5-$10 per day.

I'm very happy with how things are working out. And I don't know why, but avoiding sugar has been easier than I thought. I've been reading some blogs about what sugar withdrawal feels like. The only really bad day that I had was one where I was just really depressed. It was weird in that I could tell something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it. A day or two later, I realized that in the past on a day like that, I probably would have eaten a candy bar or something and have felt better. But without that rush of sugar, the depression lasted for basically 24 hours. I can laugh about it now, but I was just really numb on that day and didn't care about anything. Now I'm sort of curious if something like that will happen again. Interestingly, the day after that my weight went down 2 lbs after holding steady for about two weeks. Don't know if those things are related or not. Anyway, I'm happy with the month overall. I lost 3.5 lbs which I think is a good start to the year.

Not a great start

So I thought I was doing a great job avoiding sugar last week and it turns out I was mistaken. I think it started with my Costco run where I thought I was buying food without sugar. I swear that I read all the labels and didn't see sugar on what I bought. But I should take my reading glasses with me when I shop because two of my purchases have sugar. I ended up eating a chicken pot pie because I already had it in the oven when I reread the label. I wasn't going to throw perfectly good food away. The second one was a pot roast and thanks to the chicken pot pie incident, I reread the label before I even turned the oven on. That one sort of pissed me off because I don't think there's any need for sugar in it. And because I love pot roast, grrr.

The second issue was with bacon. I am, apparently, the only person in the world who didn't know that bacon had sugar in it. I'll be honest, I didn't read the label because I thought it was just meat. What bummed me out more was that I only added bacon to my breakfasts because I thought it would be good to eat a little more food in the morning so I wasn't so hungry at lunchtime. Anyway, this mistake caused me to turn all the smiley faces on my calendar to frowns. Taking my mistakes into account, this year, I've only had one day so far where I haven't eaten sugar.

I'm not going to beat myself up about this. Even if I didn't avoid all sugar, I have avoided a lot of sugar. (Except for yesterday...definitely fell of the wagon then) New day, new start. I'll see if I can finish out the month better.

Hello 2017!

Happy New Year!

I made it to 2017, so things so far are great! As always, I want to make some plans to get the most out of my year. Though, I really need to start thinking more long term. Bill Gates has the great quote "Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years." I think that's very true. And I think I sort of due that here. At least I have my bucket list for things I want to do over my life. My idea of tracking something on the calendar is mainly a way for me to build a new habit that I'll hopefully have for the rest of my life. And so far, it seems to be working. I'll keep doing my yearly resolutions and hope that they end up being lifelong habits. Let's get started.

Sugar - My focus for the year is going to be reducing the amount of sugar that I eat. I did this for about a month last year and I noticed enough changes in me that I think it's a worthwhile goal. This is what's going on my calendar this year. It's a simple yes/no question. If I ate something with sugar, black frown goes up. If I avoided it, red (if I can find the red marker) smiley goes up. And much like when I was trying not to use my car two years ago, I'm not going to be a jerk about this. If someone invites me to a birthday party, yes I will eat cake. I'm not asking anyone to make food special for me. Just when I'm home or on my own (which is most meals), I will try to avoid sugar. This means that I need to have food in my house to eat instead. I went to Costco the other day and bought a bunch of fruit, cheese, nuts and some frozen meals that all don't have sugar. There may be some foods that I stop eating altogether. For example, I'm having a cup of coffee and oatmeal right now. I much prefer both of these with some sugar and a few chocolate chips, respectively. If that was the only sugar that I ate all day, it would probably be fine. But it still gets a frown because I'm avoiding all sugar. Those are the rules.

DIY Projects - I love to make stuff. I love to watch other people make stuff. This probably isn't really a resolution, since I already do this. But I'd like to do things more regularly and post information. As an example, I went to the store the other day to buy myself a calendar. I couldn't find a calendar I liked, so I decided to make one for myself. I have a printer and paper and very little design talent. I made simple calendar with quotes about life that I like. Here are what some of the pages look like.

Pretty simple, but it was fun to make. I have some ideas for binding books and making traveler's journals. I also have some woodworking projects to finish and some new ideas. And I'd like to get another sewing machine (more on that later) for a couple of sewing projects that I have in mind.

House - It's time to get back to work on the house. If nothing else, I'd like to have at least the back half of the upstairs gutted by the end of the year. Taking down drywall should be far less messy than the plaster and lathe removal of the downstairs. It'll still be messy, but I'm hoping I can control it a bit more by hanging some plastic to contain dust. I'd also like to finally bury the electric line that goes to my garage. If I install a new one, I can then put in another line and add more lights to my garage. That would be great. I'd also like to add some outdoor plugs which would be great for when I cut the grass and helpful for my garden.

Skills - As always, I would like to learn how to weld. And I'd like to learn how to design/build some simple electronics. Not to be able to do anything at work, but just to be able to create some ideas that have been floating around in my head. I did some soldering last year and while I was eventually successful, I wasn't comfortable doing it. That's just because I need to practice more. That's the case for a lot of the things I want to do: sewing, woodworking, bookbinding, etc. I need to do some simple projects just to get good with my hands. Once I'm comfortable with the basics, I can move on to trying to make my more difficult ideas. I guess the resolution here is that I'm going to work on any skill at least two or three times per month.

Read Books - I read a lot online, but I'd like to get back to reading more books. Online reading is really just skimming things for ideas and I want to get back into deep reading which to me means books. My goal is to read one or two books per month.

Write a Book - I still want to work on my book. It will be technical and I doubt that I'd sell many copies, but I'd like to do it just to see if I can.

Tune My Tools - I have a table saw that I use quite a bit. However, I don't think that it's set up properly. I haven't done any tests, but I don't think the fence is completely parallel to the blade. If I want to get serious about woodworking, I need to make sure that all of my tools are working correctly. So I need to research what to do to check and what periodic maintenance I need to do to make sure things are working properly.

Language - I've been swearing a lot more of late. I need to watch my language and cut it out. This is going to be hard, but it's something I need to do.

Things I want to keep doing
More bike, less car - Since this has been my focus for the past two years, I think it's already something I do a lot. But I just want to note it so that I remember it. I plan on going for a bike ride today because I can think of no better way to start off the year and it's a nice sunny day with temps in the 30s.

Work on financial independence - Last year put me in a much better position financially that I had been in for a while. So I'd like to keep working to financial independence, which is still a number of years away. But I think I'm doing the right things and I just need to stay the course.

Travel - I still like to take my bike to new cities and explore. I had been doing big rides around cities, but I think I may stop doing them. I signed up for a number of them last year and then didn't go because of bad weather. So now, I may just throw my bike in the car and drive to a city and ride around myself. Or look up interesting trails and go and ride them. I'm already going to go to Sedona this year. And I'm thinking that it might be cool to go to the finger lakes region of upstate New York.

Rewards - There are a few bigger ticket items that I'd like to buy for myself, but didn't because I was being financially responsible. Now I'm thinking that it would be a good idea to use these as rewards. Say if I don't eat sugar for 75% of the days in a month, I get a reward. Or if I do take all the drywall down from the back of my house, I get a reward. So here are the things that I'd like to get:

New bike - Totally don't need this, but very much want it. Test rode this bike last year and it was so nice to ride. Planned on buying it last year, but didn't because I was being responsible.

Sewing machine - After going through a few used sewing machines that were given to me, I decided that I wanted to get one that I actually want. And what I want is an industrial sewing machine. First because they really only do straight stitches and that's the only stitch I've ever done. Second because they'll be better at sewing through heavy material, like canvas or leather. I have zero interest in ever sewing clothes, but I would do curtains, bags and maybe even get into upholstery. I've been watching Craigslist to see if any used ones come up. Otherwise, this one with the 3/4 hp servo motor is the one I want.

Camera - If I want to start posting videos of me making my projects, I think I'd like to get a good camera. I have a little point and shoot camera that I've used in the past, but the battery doesn't last very long and it doesn't hold much video. I haven't researched these too much because this would definitely be bought after the above items. But I was thinking that something like this camera would be pretty nice. If I do decide to get a new camera, I'll have to do more research.

Tools - There are a few more tools that I'd like to get for my workshop. I'd like to add a drill press and a bandsaw. Here I should just keep an eye on craigslist or start going to the flea market by my house to see what they have.

That's it, my plans for 2017. I think for now, I'll start the year by trying to install a new light over my stairs before I head out on my bike.

Been A While

My summer has been pretty crazy with a big work conference that is finally over. My life is now my own again. Yay! I've been very behind in doing my monthly checking, but that's ok. The good news is that I don't have to go back to work for over a week. So I'm trying to do a bunch of projects around the house.

First up, I've never posted my video I made of the bookshelf that I made for a friend of mine's birthday. It's below.

That was a lot of fun to do and I want to do more woodworking. One thing though is that I broke my planer. It no longer will plane the really skinny pieces of lathe that I want to glue together. The thinnest I can plane a board is around 1". I think this is because the belt broke and when I fixed it, I must have broken something else. I ended up buying a new planer. It's a less expensive one, which is fine. I'm really just using it to clean up old, dirty wood. I have yet to set it up, so that will probably be one of my projects this week.

It's harvest time in my garden. I've already gotten boatloads of tomatoes. I've given a bunch to my brother and just took a bag full to my Mom today. So I need to research how to make tomato sauce that I can freeze because there's no way I could eat all of these before they go bad. Since the garden worked so well this year, I'll probably make another little area next year. Think I'd like to try to grow lettuce and spinach.

If I'm going to make xmas gifts for people this year, I need to start. And while I like the idea of making bookshelves for people, I don't want to give people a big piece of furniture. That seems a bit much. Anyway, I'm back to working with paper again. I've found some great youtube videos of how to make different types of books and bindings. That looks like fun, so I'll see if I can come up with something cool.

Though, I would still like to make some stuff out of wood because I finally got my brand. I did have a little bit of time to do something fun last month and I designed a brand for myself. I then sent it to Shapeways to get made in stainless steel. It just arrived the other day. I'm quite happy with it.

brand

Now I need to put a handle on it so I can heat it up and put my brand on things. I bought a threaded rod and a tap and die set today. Hopefully, I can drill a hole and put threads in it. Another project for this week. But once that's done, I should be able to brand just about anything.

May Check-In

May was a good month. I biked on 25 days and drove on 16. Four of the driving days included a trip to Nashville, which was fun. I did the Tour de Nash, which was my introduction to NashVegas Nashville. Also had my longest ride, when I did 40 miles on Bike the Drive, including the ride to the drive. I biked 312 miles for the month, which made it a very good month. As for driving, my odometer reads 37599, which means I drove my car for 621 miles in the month. But I took my Mom's car to Nashville, so I have to add the 1068 miles for that trip. So my total in the car was 1689. That's quite a lot, but it was worth it for the trip.

Finances were ok. I did spend a bit more on some things. I bought a little handheld router that I like a lot, but didn't really need. I also happened to crack three teeth, which led to a dentist bill of over $1000. Hopefully, I'll get some of that back from insurance, but I know it won't be much. And I replaced a laptop in a program at work that was stolen on my watch. I'll be trying to keep the spending down in June because my big vacation is in July and I'll definitely be spending some money there.

Made my first attempt at some curtains for my bedroom. I'd call them a failure because they really don't fit the window and they don't look like what I was trying to make. However, this was my first real project with my new (to me) sewing machine. And it worked really well for me. So I'm happy about that. I also have a better idea of how to make them, so I'll try again with a different material.

For the first time ever, I've planted a garden in my backyard. I should say I dug up some sod in my backyard and Ted planted a garden. But I built the box for the raised bed. And I built the chicken wire fence around it. So it was a team effort. Hopefully, I'll get some tomatoes and peppers later this year.

April in Review

Since the weather today is very rainy, I know I'm not going anywhere. Figured I'd take a look at April.

Odometer reading: 36978, which means I drove 256 miles for the month. According to my calendar, the car came out of the garage 14 days. I'm quite pleased with that. April is also 30 Days of Biking and I successfully rode every day in April. I remember doing one long ride of around 23 miles, but for the most part my rides were just going to work, which is six miles each way. My total for the month was 281 miles, bringing my total for the year to 607 miles. That's all really good.

Financially speaking, I did really well. I had the weird opportunity to have my house used for a tv show. It ended up not happening, but since I signed a contract I was paid. So that was a nice extra chunk of money. I've already saved it to help cover the cost of any hotels I get this summer and to build back up my emergency fund.

Health-wise, things are ok. The knee feels pretty good and I'm pretty sure that all the biking is helping. I've slacked off a bit on the stretching since I'm no longer going to therapy and I need to get back into that. But I've been doing tons of woodworking and other projects where I'm standing and moving around a lot, so I know it's much, much better. I should have gone to therapy months ago, but better late than never. I think next month will be when I start jogging again. The weather should (hopefully) be a little warmer and I can ease my way into it. Though, I want to continue to bike a lot because it just makes me happy.

I've started reading a book (Cinder) with Abby on FaceTime and it's pretty good. I've been reading more overall, which is making me happy. My basement is a mess of wood, but I'm pleased because I'm making progress on some different projects. I've been watching tons of youtube videos of woodworking channels and have lots of ideas. Now I just need to start trying things to improve my skills. I'm also getting very good at completely disconnecting from work. When I close up my laptop to leave, I've been turning off my mail program and not turning it back on until I return the next day. This causes me to have a little anxiety on Sunday nights when I don't know what kind of mess I'll be walking into on Monday. But aside from that, it's good. I want to start thinking of my life outside of work and all the other things that I want to do.

I recently read a great blog post from Derek Sivers about possible futures. I love the idea of doing research on ideas that come into your head and keeping them on my computer. I may never do anything with them, but since they're something I think about it's good to write them down. Think I'm going to start doing that.