Sunday, June 16, 2013

Indebted to Debt

I'm getting close to getting rid of the debt that has plagued me for almost a decade. I have only about $2000 left in Credit Card debt, down from a max of $5000 and it hasn't been this low for almost 5 years. Combining other debts, once they are all paid off, I'll have about $1000 of income that won't be going to pay it off.
And what's weird is that I'm not sure what's going to happen once it is paid off. I have some other debts like a Car loan that will continue, but my payments to that are a minor mark in my balance sheets. So once my mountain of debt is paid off, what will I do?
This whole mess started about 10 years ago when I started to enter the workforce as a part time working student. To this day, I'm not sure why I permitted it to go on, but as my income made minor increases, the amount of items I was expected to pay for made major increases. Fearing a boring and irritating lecture from my parents, I kept this a secret and just let my debt grow. Luckily, even though I was never able to pay it off completely, I never missed a partial payment, and as a result my credit score hasn't suffered for it. And with my current employment, I now make enough money to begin fending it off.
I'm also aware that some people could only wish to be in my position. But after living with this looming monster over my shoulder for a third of my life, I'm not sure what to do without it. I guess I could sink it into savings and investments and it'd be the same thing. But I fear with the lack of this debt, I will begin to act with more abandon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Apartment - Post #1

On a more personal note for this blog, I've recently leased and moved into a new apartment. Some ups and downs aside, among the bigger problems I face is how to fill the space and where to put all my items. This apartment is huge for the price, so says my friend who helped me move my furniture. Indeed, I find myself all too thrilled by the wide open expanse, but still feel the need to limit it.

 For the first week, most of my books, electronics, and anything else were just sprawled across the floor. And there's still so much to move from the house of my parents. However, a solution has presented itself in an idea I had some time ago: That of using modular mesh cubes to quickly build shelves and pockets for my things. This idea originally was for a convenient and innovative way to house all my trophies, personal mementos from people I care about (none of which can be seen in these photos). This is what I referred to as my "Museum Idea". I'm still interested in using these cubes for that purpose, but for the time being, they serve as emergency shelves that may prove permanent in the near future.
The biggest question that plagues my mind is whether these wire frames can withstand the weight of heavier items. Namely, an HD Television Set that could weight up to 20 lbs. If the mesh can take this pressure, it would open up a very new path for my plans.
Something I've had in mind is to create a more solid platform for my electronics. To the right in the photo, you can see how I've organized my game consoles. My plan then for the left is to create a space for my Laptop, my external hard drives, and link them to a TV with an HDMI Cable. This would create a way for me to have a full range of use for my computer.
I do think I should get a more professional bookcase for my library, especially considering that this is only about an 1/8 of what it looks like at my house. And of course, I'll need more room for my museum when I get a chance to gather my trophies. But the biggest advantage for this is that I can make this as big or as small as I need, and the range of shapes and forms are also vast. If you'll draw your attention to the top left, you'll see I've already begun experimenting with the variance and have made a top opening basket there.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Drinking Lemon Juice

I've always hated the phrase "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Subsequently, I've always hated the many variants that spring from the idea of "throw the lemons back". Neither argument makes sense to me. Yes, I understand them. The former is a statement that if something bad happens to you, make it into something good. The latter is a statement of defiance saying to reject the possibility of negative consequences. I understand them, but they don't seem to have a connection to the real world.
"Making lemonade" is a good sentiment, but examining the metaphor in a literal sense brings up a flaw. Namely, you can't make lemonade with just lemons. You need sugar to sweeten it, water to dilute it, ice to cool it, and a pitcher to hold it. Putting this back to realistic terms, if something bad happens to you and you want to "Make Lemonade", you need to expend your on hand resources to make it better. It's called throwing good money after bad, and nine times out of ten, you'll be in a worse place than where you started. And more than likely, the one out of ten times will be you just breaking even.
And "Throwing the Lemons Back" doesn't really work either. Once again, in taking the metaphor literally, we find why it doesn't work. While lemons are renowned for their bitter and sours qualities, they are even more renowned for their health benefits. One critical supply on sailing ships of the 16th century was citrus fruit, with it's massive stash of Vitamin C kept the deadly disease of scurvy away. Hence, throwing the sour fruit back means you're getting rid of perfectly fine and vital food source.
So what am I getting at with this? Well, I'd like to add my own twist to this phrase (and I do apologize if someone else has already aticulated this thought):
When Life Gives You Lemons, Smile and Drink Lemon Juice
In a contextual sense, this means that when bad things happen to you, smile and accept them. It is physically impossible that bad things will happen to you repeatedly, or at least with nothing good coming between them. So when they occur, eat the sour fruits; pucker your lips, curl up your fists, and twist your body in it's reflexive response to such an assault on your tongue. After a few brief moments, the discomfort will subside and you will be all the better for such an experience. Do this enough, and you will eventually build up an immunity to such discomfort, getting all the benefits and none of the pains.
I should know. I actually like the taste of lemons, and I'm thankful for when life decides to give them to me. I'm aware this is a difficult concept to accept. People have a natural aversion to pain and discomfort. But you can't stop pain from coming, nor can you reject life's efforts to inflict it upon you. And since it's not worth it to smother the pain in pleasant comforts, the only thing you can do is learn to accept them.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bullets and Black Belts

With gun control and human safety being such a concern now, I feel like I should add my opinion to the story. While I see the appeal guns have in the movies and pulp fiction, I personally don't like them myself. Not because I value human life so much. In fact, the primary reason I dislike guns is because they don't seem that effective to me. For the purposes of self defense, guns don't work the way some may think. Guns jam, miss, and often run out of bullets. And the supposed ease of guns gives the impression that training is secondary to using the most firepower available.
It's something I actually find humorous when gun nuts talk about the right to own bigger and more powerful guns. In a showdown between a .50 caliber desert eagle and a .22 smith and Wesson, victory doesn't go to the man with the bigger gun. It goes to the man with better aim. The fact that some would assume otherwise is oy proof that many misunderstand what a gun even is.
If a person wants to feel safe in a dangerous world, I wouldn't recommend a gun. I'd recommend going to a dojo. A person with actual training, be it in hand to hand combat or in shooting straight holds a major advantage over one who only thinks he has.
The benefit of martial arts training is almost immeasurable. Not only is it good exercise, but hand to hand holds many other advantages. Your hands don't run out of ammo, they can be controlled after firing, hit a much larger target, and have much more capabilities.
Besides, martial arts are cooler than guns anyway.