Much of my time is broken up into two thoughts, lately:
- I have to get out of North Texas. I like Texas and love my friends here, but this is allergy central, and we’re fighting an epic rearguard battle to keep my wife’s lungs from melting. Outside of the emergency steroid shots, it’s actually a federal crime to sell the medicine she needs to function except from a compounding pharmacy — that’s how bad the situation is. She and I both love this state, but if I try to retire here it will eventually, and quite literally, kill my wife. That sucks: I’ve got a lot of very good friends here I’d rather not say good-bye to.
- My entire financial strategy has been built around having no debt whatsoever of any kind, using the current period of fiscal repression (when the fedgov uses artificially low interest rates and crushes savers in order to help its crony banker friends) to pay off debt and be able to start racking four digits into savings every month thereafter, when interest rates inevitably make their rebound and the “usual strategies” actually provide some benefit. This has been a tremendous success — dodging the CW and getting a variable mortgage when everybody was panicked to get out of them has let us chop the mortgage to the point where we’re only a year or so away from it being permanently gone, even counting emergency dentistry, foundation repairs, and all the other things life throws at you that you’d rather not have to spend money on.
Needless to say, these are mutually exclusive goals. Any relocation is inevitably going to involve eating up seed-corn to pay for the move and one way or other, “starting over” on the move. Gah. This is why I overwatered my office plant this morning. I’m a bit of an aesthete, and like having plants in my workspace. It helps to humanize the weird minty glow of the office’s flourescent ceiling lights.
Neat trick about paper towels — you can use them over and over again. You don’t have to put it in the water and just throw it away. A lot of folks don’t realize that. You can clean up almost any casual spill with exactly two paper towels — one to get up the majority of the water, squeezing the water out into a sink/trashcan like a sponge, over and over again, and one dry “reserve” cloth for “final cleanup” to make the surface truly dry rather than damp.
But how many of us spill a big container of liquid, or accidentally pour half a pint of water through a houseplant, and just throw down WAYYYY more than they need? I know I have. So I wonder sometimes if most of our problems, speaking collectively, come from not expending too much effort in one direction, and not getting enough mileage from the effort we put in another.
Example: I’m a very good copy-editor, and have done it for academic clients for years when the needs arises, both paid and volunteer. It’s not shabby work in the slightest, and I have the discipline to do it without a deadline constantly hanging over my head (a lot of folks don’t). That’s “easy” work (for me), and if set up right, has a lot of flexiblity in terms of location for a good freelancer. But for years I’ve had blinders on and never thought to exploit that for a job in the private sector, having assumed it was just an “academic thing,” when actually it’s a very real saleable skill. I’ve held myself back by not exploiting it.
I think I need to return to one of the old themes of this blog, and that’s The Study of Dangerous Assumptions. Have you made a dangerous and/or counterproductive assumption lately? If so, what did you learn when you woke up?