Rightsizing 2016

In the previous post, I mentioned about my attempt to multi-task. I didn’t mention that it didn’t apply only to my plan to get extra income but also in my hobbies and favorite forms of exercise.

I decided to simplify without being too minimalistic.

Want a quick story? I remember buying my first truck. I told the salesman I want it with manual shifting, no radio, and no power windows, no power steering and just the most basic model. The salesman retorted: “Would you like me to include four wheels?”

That truck was able to serve 90% of my needs (mostly commuting). However, it’s kinda scary on the freeway because it refuses to go past 60 miles per hour. In emergency braking, the rear  wheels swerved from side to side making it almost uncontrollable. That purchase was a good example of being too minimalistic.

My plan for the rest of 2016:

First, let me enumerate two accomplishments:

We eliminated distractions:  the daily TV news and watching TV sports. Early this year I was still in the “watching news at 10PM mode”. But the news tend to give me negative vibes just before bedtime. Same with sports – the last sporting event that I didn’t stop watching was the Tour de France (since 1989). This year I didn’t watch it. Hold the applause, please! How did we do it? We cut cable. You should too!

Games on smartphones:  Yes, I wasted many hours on games on smartphones which I could have used to rest or sleep. Finally, I was able to get rid of playing them in the last few months. I still play but only for no longer than five minutes and only a few times a week. Major savings in time!

Now it’s time to tackle a few more concerns:

Hobby:  I’m taking on too many interest (bicycling, woodworking, manual photography, electric bicycles, electric skateboards, acrylic and water color painting) and it’s dividing my leisure time. I’m sticking to bicycling – but getting rid of two bicycles. (Don’t worry – I may get an electric bike next year). I’m still waiting for the e-bike technology to mature.

See, there’s the problem. I’m eliminating bicycles but wanted to add an e-bike. I’m also super interested in an electric skateboard. Would I use it? Probably! Would I have time to use it? Prolly not! So there you are folks, final decision is only one bicycle.  Problem is which one stays?

Equipment: I’m sticking to kettle bells for weight training. I was going to buy a barbell set and build myself a pull up bar but for now, I’ll stick to one set of equipment.  Or we can join a gym and not worry about storing any equipment.

Vehicles:  We have two SUVs (one with good gas mileage and one with great gas mileage). However, one of them is almost 8 years old and another is having issues with California emission standards. One has to go – to be replaced by a small hatchback that even sips less fuel.

Extra Income Projects:  I started with four (ebay, amazon, affiliate marketing, and this blog). I’m sticking to one: affiliate marketing. I now know that I need to focus on it until it starts rolling in the income. The rest will be shelved indefinitely. If it clashes with my day job – then it will be shelved too! The right priorities make the world go round!

There it is, dear readers! I have opened my heart for all the world to see! Is it doable? Of course!   There’s only about 14 weeks left in the year so this plan to rightsize is easy to accomplish.

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Single Tasking

About three years ago, I decided to get extra income from the internet. I did eBay and was mildly successful at it although I mainly sold all the “junk” that others considered as “good find”. I was going to start selling at Amazon too, but then I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I did a grand plan to start on four projects: I wanted to sell at amazon.com, at the same time creating a new website that will earn money from ads and affiliate marketing, as well as continuing this blog. In order to do that I concluded that I had to properly manage my time. I got a yellow pad and wrote down my schedule.

I was still recovering from my heart bypass surgery back then. So I have plenty of available time.  My daily routine is to walk 15-20 minutes twice a day for exercise, eat healthy food and I’m good to go for the day. I decided I needed about 8-9 working hours for my grand plan. First two hours dedicated to researching about amazon.com sales. Two hours for affiliate marketing. Two hours for research on improving websites, and the final two hours for this blog.

Little progress happened a few months later, I was still researching what type of website I would need for affiliate marketing. I could not decide on a topic that’s interesting for others, which at the same time is  also interesting for me. As far as Amazon, I felt I need more research because amazon.com is strict on good customer service. I was good at that in eBay (ahem) but I think amazon.com is a step higher.  This blog continued but I was unable to increase my blog output.

While working those projects, I was also honing my skill in photography using a DSLR camera.  I also decided that woodworking is for me so I started researching basic tools I would need to work on wood. I decided to get quality tools so I don’t have to buy several of the same tool. I also needed to learn which type of wood I would like to use for my projects.

A few more months and I noticed almost nothing is getting accomplished. Even this blog is not updated as much as I would like to. I wanted at least 5-10 posts per month but sometimes I just end up with four.

What’s a guy to do?

I engaged in what is widely-known and highly popular word known as “multi-tasking”. It’s very popular in the white collar workplace. With the arrival of smartphones, tablets and high powered laptops – our employers are able to squeeze every single minute of productivity. Employees loved it too because they can work any time, such as while driving a car, mowing the lawn and watching TV, and (you’ll love this one): while eating dinner with friends or family.

But based on my personal experience above – it really doesn’t work. Well, maybe for HAL (the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) it might work – but look at what happened to HAL. Ha Ha!

Of course, there are a few people I know that’s able to do it but I won’t even mention their names as they might buy me presents.

It took another year before I realize that I’m taking on too many projects at the same time. This year known as 2016 is especially hectic for me. A family emergency overseas, moving to a new residence and getting rid of the an old one, then another family medical emergency which lasted weeks. Life was getting too complicated. That’s when I decided I better do some down sizing or drawing down.

That would be discussed in my next post.

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Ghost Reality

In the past, I was fearful about things supernatural – thanks to people emphasizing it in everyday conversation. One of the most popular are vampires, and I’m sure you’ve heard of them. I was afraid of them growing up, along with a plethora of mythical creatures which I won’t repeat here to avoid infusing your mind with negative thoughts.

Watching movies and television shows also exposed me to more imaginary creatures and events. In the back of my mind, these are mythical creatures but when darkness comes, it doesn’t help but make me afraid anyway. In my younger days when I get too fearful I carry a thick stick or a knife to defend from attacks of the members of the spiritual realm. I know that a material weapon is useless against the dark spiritual forces but it gave me a little confidence.

Have you been in places where you could feel the presence of unseen creatures but they’re not visible at all? No outward physical manifestations but you know something unknown is inside the room? I experienced them a few times.  One time it was in a large church in Europe and I could feel the negative spiritual vibes inside the church. Did I spook you yet?

Have you met someone who would swear that they actually saw someone or heard someone that died? I have met a few people who thought that their dead loved ones are trying to communicate with them. From their stories, it appeared as if the spiritual beings know about some details of their lives which convinced them that it was really their dead relatives. Do you think it really happened?

It’s not until decades later that i found out that those creatures are not really what we think them to be. In fact they can be categorized only to one type of created beings. Not convinced? I urge you to research online. For starters, you can visit www.ghosttruth.com.

These days, dark rooms or areas are no longer fearful to me. There’s always the danger of bumping into an obstacle in the dark, of course but that’s really a minor thing. Nothing to be afraid of because I know I am protected by our Maker.  It’s really hard to explain in just 400 words because it took much hours of study. In my case,I just stumbled into it one day while researching some items. I researched further and found out the truth.

Check it out and you’ll be amazed!

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Tribulations

This year was especially trying for me and my wife. First, my wife and I got sick at the same time. We were both out with the flu. It never happened before that we got sick at the same time. Usually one is available to take care of the other. One midmorning, I managed to get up from my weak, nauseous condition and looked at my sleeping wife in a separate room and thought “what’s gonna happen now, how are we to take care of each other?”

We survived that one. Then the following months our workload doubled because of 2015 reports. Then we had to sell our home overseas which presented some really unique challenges. There was no blueprint and no clear path to follow. We did the negotiation mostly by email and phone calls.

At the same time, we mapped out the process for moving to a new residence while we prepared another comprehensive report for the first Quarter of 2016. We moved into the new residence without a major hitch. But then we had to go overseas to complete the home sale process. It was a complicated process because the banking procedures were archaic.

We got back home, and a family member needed to go to the hospital.

In any medical emergency (as I experienced in my 2012 surgery, all the issues of life (tasks to be done, bills to pay, buying or selling a major thing, possible investments, etc. etc.) fade to the background like they never exist.  The focus switches to the medical issue. Everyone’s focus suddenly becomes: “How do we fix this?”

In all of the above, the common denominator is prayer. My wife and I don’t have the answers so we always prayed. I prayed harder and longer on my knees. Sometimes we went on mini-fasts. I even asked several groups and individuals to pray for this recent medical problem. The Faithful people asked a group or other individuals to pray. The more serious the problem, the more people were asked to pray.

Does thing turn out for the better? It always does. Sometimes I can’t believe how the things get resolved, but it does. Life has many trials, but they’re only temporary.

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Almost Paradise

We just went on a trip to one of the islands of Hawaii a few weeks ago. If you noticed in my previous 201 posts, I very rarely mention names of any country, mainly because people can misinterpret things sometimes. From reading the comments on any news item – I notice that people’s opinion vary.  No matter how beautiful or optimistic the message, someone somewhere always come out in the negative sense. I am trying to avoid negative input.

Hawaii is a different place though. I think 99.5% of the world’s population think of Hawaii as a paradise – and I believe that it’s the closest place to paradise. Except of course, it has bugs, strong waves and ocean currents in some areas, and stormy weather sometimes and other things not present in paradise.

I really didn’t take that much photos, even with my smartphone. I’d rather soak in the experience. I wish I spent a few more minutes soaking it all in but I was still in a “rush” mode so I didn’t.  However, I felt that I slowed down a bit after the experience.

One of the places we went to was a private area which Hollywood uses for movie locations. It was lush but it doesn’t feel that you are in the wild. I felt that even if left alone in this place, I could easily survive on the fruits and the sugar cane and rainwater.  I could easily find help in a matter of days because if I keep walking on a straight path I will definitely reach a beach front. And people frequent beaches.

One of it’s mountain peaks boasts of being one of the rainiest place on earth – how’s 450 inches in one year? That would take San Diego about 30-45 years to reach that much rainfall. The same peak would be very hard to explore because all the rain makes it so slippery to walk or climb. Most of it remain untouched by humans.

In any place I visit, I attribute the coolness factor of a place based on the food. And Hawaii doesn’t disappoint most of the time. There’s fresh tropical fruits and veggies. And for pescetarians – fresh fish abounds.  You like meat? I think all their beef are grass fed.

It seems that things slow a little bit when we are in the Islands. You can’t drive really fast because the roads are not designed for fast driving. There are stop signs in the middle of a long highway and when it rains, it forces drivers to slow down. The views are spectacular so driving fast will make us miss the unique scenery.

Would I like to move there? For extended vacations, I won’t have a problem. But for residence – I think it would be hard for me to live in an island. Maybe I would feel too restricted on what I can do. But since I stay home most of the time, hate crowds, hate traffic, love pretty views, prefer a less hurried life – I think I’m compatible with island living. So if I get asked the same question five years from now – I might have a different answer.

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Longer Drives

A few weeks ago it was really hot – as in a heatwave. Temperatures were 120 degrees Fahrenheit in some places. I experienced 108 degrees for the first time. My previous record was 105. To those who live in the desert this is nothing new. I’m a newcomer to desert living – and to me this is something unpleasant.

After sunset, I noticed the temperature went down to 99. It actually felt pleasant even though on any regular summer day, I would consider 99 to be oppressive. So it’s all relative I guess. The harder the experience, the easier life feels later even if there’s still hardships. Does that mean we should train or work harder so things get easier?  I can’t really answer that for you but here’s another life experience:

After our move to a new residence, my work commute was somewhere between 42 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes. My previous commute took only 27 minutes. My best commute time in the last few years was 12 minutes from 2009 through end of 2014. My shortest ever was about five minutes but that was in the early 90’s.

But then, the worst was yet to come.

My wife and I picked up my grandson James from a location close to the coast. The drive to it took about an hour but the return trip took us around two and a half hours (including a quick stop for early dinner) due to traffic accidents. I was dizzy after driving that long even though it was only about 100 miles total.

The next day, we had a big fire next to the freeway we were about to drive through. Traffic slowed to a crawl. I mumbled that a crawling baby would probably get to the freeway exit before we can get there. It took us 1.5 hours to travel a little over 3 miles. But armed with the 3.5 horrendous drive the day before, I thought this time it will be a cakewalk. However, we had to turn around because the police temporarily closed the freeway.

So now I have two horrible drives under my belt. After that, everything seems easier. I drive more relaxed now and don’t even try to hurry up. I accelerate gently and not push the pace. I notice that maybe 90% of the people around me were doing the same thing. Every time traffic slows down to a crawl, I just have a quick flashback to the previous 3.5 hour of driving and it calms me down. I figured that long horrendous drive will be tough to beat.

I conclude that all my future drives to work will seem easier. It has been that way for several weeks now.

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Cutting The Cord

I think I may have mentioned before that one of my objectives for a few years now is to completely cut off cable dependency?  No?  Well, maybe I did some hints in the past. But just recently my wife and I just decided to cut off cable television completely. Eight million U.S. household have done so – and now we are a member of this group.

I started watching cable many many moons ago. I really like the clearness of the connection. Before that I watched TV using an antenna. For those of you that has experienced watching an antenna fed TV, it was quite a chore to point the antenna to the right position and maybe add aluminum foil or two just to get some kind of decent reception.

Decades later, digital broadcasting was born, and then there is High Definition TV, now it’s 4K. The screen is getting very clear and sharper. The TV channels started increasing through the years. If you’re like me, you probably noticed that the high number of channels are inversely proportional to the number of channels you actually watch.

So what helped our decision to cut it completely? Ready for a long story? We moved to a semi-remote place in the Inland Empire. It’s not as glam as San Diego county but people here are nicer. The cable company lied to us a few times thinking that we didn’t have a choice but to hire them if we need cable.

What they didn’t expect is us saying no. In fact, I got at least three calls from different reps confirming our cancellation. I think it’s highly unbelievable to them that a customer would cut cable but they actually helped us in a big way. We refused to be held hostage to this kind of lousy service. I was with this company for at least 15 years, but they seem to have changed.

I won’t tell you which company but their first initial starts with 20th letter.

We actually feel liberated. We have internet connection and we use the web to watch shows or movies we want to watch when we want to watch, without commercial advertising. There’s quite a few apps or services providing those.

We have more time now and we spend only about 35% of what we used to pay the cable company for internet, cable and phone.

We have cut the cord and it feels good!

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