Month: March 2016

Boldly Work

Sometimes I look back and figured that most of the things I did or accomplished have a common denominator:  Boldness. Of course, it was by the grace of God but if I decided to just sit around and do nothing, I would have been stagnant for years.

When I was younger I liked taking risks – like going to a quite unfamiliar metropolitan city without a job and only a small space in a shared room for shelter. I arrived awestruck by the life in the city but has no job. Then I was offered one which is somewhere below entry level – I was a combination janitor, messenger and coffee mess assistant. I took it because it was a start.

Joining the Navy was another bold decision but it was also a dream for me. I know some people look down at military people but for me it was something prestigious and challenging. People around me said that all the navy Sailor does is take out the rust from the ship. I worked over 20 years and I never really had to do that job but even if I had to do it for ten years as a junior petty officer, I would have still taken that job.

To be honest, I am not really a risk taker. I mean you won’t see me diving in underground caves or hiking through the Amazon River edge, although I have admiration for the unique people that do that. I take risks for something that would feed me, give me shelter, give me extra cash to afford a bicycle or a new hatchback, etc.

I was a pizza delivery man for about a year just because I heard they were hiring. It’s not a job that people dream about but it gave me job satisfaction working my shift because a) they allowed me to pick the hours and day that I will work  b) I got quite a few tips  3) I delivered to some interesting people (like a pro football player that didn’t even tip) and 4) I liked the challenge of mapping my route and running from one door to another to deliver the piping hot pizza.

I also did a janitorial job for a little bit but it took a few hours of working after my regular job that my wife asked me to stop because I was working too many hours even on the weekend. I was young then so I didn’t even feel the tiredness, but I quit so i could spend the weekend with my family.

I’m not the hardest working person in any of my jobs but I always put in the effort to be excellent partly because people needed my services and partly because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Only later in life I realized that I’m really working for God regardless of what task I was assigned to do. I guess it made me work a little bit harder, smarter without necessarily stressing myself too much.

I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I’ll keep on working. Boldly as I do!

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Hoarding Light

Remember incandescent light bulbs? They were replaced by CFL light bulbs which are basically fluorescent ones, and now they are both made almost obsolete by LED light bulbs. When the price of LED goes down some more, those other lights should cease to exist.

Why the sudden discussion on light bulbs. Is it because the universal sign of a good idea is a light bulb? Did you see those cartoon characters that thought of a bright idea and a light bulb shows up just above their head?  No, it’s not that. It’s because i bought more than two dozen of incandescent light bulbs because I thought that one day I would never be able to find them.  Maybe I could find a few rare pieces at 1,000 times markup.

What’s the big deal about light bulbs? Well, I personally like the warm glow of an incandescent bulb over the “daylight” UV emitting fluorescent light. Even some CFLs are designed to emit a warm amber glow to pretend it’s an incandescent light bulb. I’m also the type of person that hate white walls. I like the walls to have an brownish eggshell type look because it feels warm and cozy but this topic should go to an architectural forum instead of this post.

What’s the disadvantages of incandescent light bulbs? It can get hot, (which is perfect in the winter) but it uses much electricity if you want a well lit room. The good part is that it is very inexpensive and emits the best light ever. Supposedly its life span is shorter than a fluorescent light.

Back to my story. I had a few stashed away in different wattages: 25, 40, 50, 100 and the 50-100-150 watts combo for the lamps with three way adjustment. That was approximately six years ago and I still about a dozen left.

But here’s the rub. The other day I was looking at amazon.com and I found a pack with four for $7.75 ($1.93 each) but then I found LED bulbs that are $20 for six bulbs ($3.38 each). A bit more expensive but they only use 8.5 watts while giving out a 60 watt incandescent bulb brightness and the same warm glow .

So what’s my point?

I would have been better off not buying too much of those incandescent bulbs. The LED bulbs are much better and could save me more in the long run. Supposedly they last 18 years. That’s a very long time but I seriously doubt that they would last that long. Now I’m stuck with bulbs that I may not be able to use anymore and if I need any, there’s still many at amazon.com or some other retailer.

I guess I’ll wait a few more decades when they become rare and auction them off at eBay.

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I Am The Worst

We have a friend that like to use the phrase “I am the worst”. I guess it was her genuine and humble effort to laugh at her own shortcomings. Why does she need to do that? I think we all need to laugh at ourselves sometimes and not take ourselves too seriously.

I’ll join in the effort because as the years rolled by I find some really funny stuff about myself – not rolling on the floor (ROLF) funny, but lighthearted enough for this post.  Here’s some of them:

I tend to be clumsy. I could not become a mechanic because i would drop screws and little parts and it will roll automatically underneath to the exact center of the car I’m fixing. I once tried to replace ball bearings on the bottom bracket of my bicycle. It may take a bike mechanic 30 minutes. I did it in half a day. I decided I would outsource all future mechanic work.

I drive using patterns or habits. I like to preplan my route and study it intensively that if I make a wrong turn I immediately overload my brain navigation capability. Help! I don’t know where I am heading!!! Sometimes I miss my turn because my mind was programmed that day that I should take the westerly route. I work on fixing this by taking alternate routes.

I’m all for justice:  I avoid Prius drivers who wants everyone to get behind them while doing 60 mph in the uber fast left lane. I usually would like to give the driver an unsolicited Drivers Education class right at that very moment. But mercy sometimes is necessary more than justice. I think I’ll go out and buy myself a Prius.

I’ve got the tendency to switch from being ‘frugal’ to ‘cheap’:  No one knows this yet but when I was in a foreign port during my navy days, I literally walk miles to find the cheapest place to eat. Ah, here we are: Steamed rice, duck and veggies with a glass of coconut juice for $2.50? PERFECT! Sometimes I forgo a meal because I’m surrounded by expensive places. You’re laughing but hey I spent only $1,200 for that six months deployment.

I discovered that I’m not that smart later in my life. In my younger days, academic tests are always a breeze and I usually get excellent scores (except Math, Geometry and basically anything with numbers). Fast forward a few decades: sometimes in a workplace conversation, things just goes over my head faster than a cheap drone from Amazon. Oh wait, it involved numbers! OK I have a valid excuse!

I’m very particular with my time – productive and leisure time. I avoid social interaction to save time, which nets me with how many new friends?  Zero!  In foreign ports (in my navy days), I usually avoid hanging out with a large group because decisions on everything take forever to be made.

It’s nice to be able to laugh at one’s eccentricity. May I suggest for you to stop laughing at this and start writing your own? You might just improve your mood no matter how glum you feel.

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Today’s News

I watched today’s news – merely to get updated on what’s going on locally and to see if it’s really going to rain soon. It’s easier to track the weather with phone apps but at the same time, the forecast changes by the hour that I need to triple check it from three sources just to make sure.

A few years ago, I made the drastic change of not watching or listening to the news. First, it takes time from my daily task (I had to leave early and I prefer to sleep later than wake up earlier so I can catch up on the news). Also, the negative input was starting to get on my nerves.

But I slowly went back to watching at night just because there’s really nothing to watch on cable TV even with over a hundred channels.  It’s only 30 minutes or so of TV watching anyway.

Let me give a brief summary of the past few weeks worth of news (randomly arranged), and how it impacted me personally:

The Republican and Democratic party debates: I watched a few of them in the news and during the actual debates to see if there’s someone I could trust enough to vote. Most sound genuine but I had to always remind myself that they are politicians. There’s a few candidates on each party that’s interesting but I think I would need more research on them before I commit.

Protests with varied reasons: they were at least a thousands miles away so it wasn’t an immediate concern. Besides, you can always argue for the rationale of both parties. In the end, I just feel that I’m blessed to live in an area where those things don’t happen (at least not yet). I think the local population is too busy working to engage in such activities.

A scientist has a new theory or discovered a new dinosaur. A “new” dinosaur? Is it me or the names of dinosaurs have increased 10 times in the past 20 years? Sometimes I wonder if someone is naming dinosaurs just to be in the history books. Same with theories – especially about time travel. We can’t even get out of Daylight Saving Time. No impact whatsoever.

Crimes everywhere in any big city. That’s negative input but there may be some lessons here: avoid dangerous areas, be always on the alert, don’t walk alone in a dark alley, avoid being out late at night, etc. It pays to avoid exposure to dangerous situations.

A celebrity just bought a new pair of shoes, or a new car, or has a new partner. This has absolutely zero impact on my life. First, most celebrities (maybe 95%) has really nothing good to share with the public. They’re normally in the news because people worship them even though 95% of what they exhibit does not improve our lives, our finances and negatively impacts our choices.

A new smartphone coming out in a few months:  now this is Good news (with a capital G)! I like having a GPS, calculator, compass, cell phone, map, navigation, ruler, HD camera, video cam, crossword puzzles, a 2-D pool game all in one package. More? How about having the internet, books, a few social media apps and numerous references in one little gadget? Yes, it’s almost time to upgrade!

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Production Cost

I would like to clear a few things first before I continue just in case we have ‘cost accounting’ fans reading this: This is not about how to buy low priced widgets and turn it into high profit items at eBay.com or amazon.com.  But someone just reminded me that ‘cost accounting’ does not have any fans. At all.

A few weeks ago, I found a gas station that sells diesel at a cheap $2.15 while the station near my neighborhood was selling at $2.87.  If I buy 20 gallons worth, that’s $14.00 savings.  The only bad thing is the cheap diesel is about 10 miles away or 15 minutes if there’s no traffic and green light on all the stop lights.

So I looked around for a station that sells cheap near my work. I found the other day for $2.25/gallon. It was two blocks away. I decided to drive there during my lunchbreak. The only problem is to reach the cheap gas pump I would have to make many right turns and U turns because the road does not allow a left turn. There was considerable traffic too.  What’s a frugal man to do?

I made some quick calculations and I arrived at the magic number of $10 savings. However, I could spend the next 20, maybe 30 minutes getting cheap gas but losing productive time and my reports were due soon. I decided that productivity is more important than savings at that instance. I’ll wait until I pass a cheap gas station and refill even I still have a half tank or so.

I could go on and on about things like this but I think this example clearly shows the compromise between cutting costs and increasing productivity. One time years ago I was passing by a gas station and the lines were long. I estimate the wait to be about 20 minutes at least. I was wondering how much the customers will save (time and fuel wise) because their engines were idling.

There is a movie theatre that is within walking distance from our home. It’s a little luxurious place to watch a movie. Five miles away is another one with the same reclining seats, great sound and screen but $6 cheaper. I still prefer to go to the nearer theatre because it saves me time, gas and wear and tear of the vehicle. I won’t add the added factor of traffic and narrow parking spaces of the far theatre. Good thing I only watch movie once every quarter.

Why do I spend so much time analyzing distances, costs, etc? My main point is saving time. I try to squeeze as much time as I can for productive endeavors – which includes relaxing or just watching the view. Every event is different, but I know that if I save time, I create a financial plus in my existence.

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