Bike Commuting

When I brought up the idea of getting an ebike to ride to work, my wife thought it was a great idea.  Why not?  You get to be outside more, get some exercise during what would normally be a commute by car, nice scenery, and save on the little gas I use now.  She was one of only a few of those who thought it was a great idea. 

An ebike is a bike with a small electric motor that offers a variable amounting of pedal assistance. This is where people said that that is cheating and it’s lazy. This is also where they were and are wrong. Even in maximum assistance mode, you are still pedaling, and can put as much energy into it as you want. You will just be rewarded with more speed. The whole idea is that with the same energy output, you can travel farther, faster. 

My house is 25 miles from my worksite, each way. I do have some experience riding bikes, mostly as a kid, but I also have ridden in about five MS bike tour with my wife which were 150 miles over two days on hilly terrain. 

Some people said it was the stupidest idea they had ever heard and that it was going to be so dangerous that it didn’t make sense. “What are you going to do in the Winter?”

It is insulting to think that these people feel like that in the seconds after I delivered the idea, they had thought of all if these obsticals that I had been mulling over for months, as though they had never occurred to me. Gee, I don’t hadn’t thought of any of those things!  Come on!  It’s not like they were coming from a truly inquizative place either. It was just your standard negativity coming from those who just do what they think they are supposed to in life. 

It seems much more logical to me than sitting in a car like a slug everyday.  Dangerous?  Nearly the entire way is on bike paths and even if it wasn’t, I have personally been involved in a fatal car crash, so…not sure what makes it more dangerous than driving. The winter?  Oh no. Cold temperatures.  I used to ride my motorcycle the second the roads were clear of snow in February, in the 20*s. People who think things through realize that there are winter sports and dressing appropriately for the conditions is all that’s needed. 

I literally can’t think of any downsides to it. 

I did ride in two weeks ago and totally survived it. Easily in fact. It took me exactly one hour from the trail I stared at. It was awesome!  Nobody was around. I went through the woods for most of the trip, right by the lower falls of the Genesee river. I saw cool parts of the city I’ve never seen before. Rochester NY is actually pretty bike friendly and has recently added something like 25 miles of bike lanes. When I wasn’t on a path, I was usually in a lane. 

Today I brought my bike on the back of my car and will ride home, then back in tomorrow, while leaving my car in the lot overnight.  

This is the first time riding to work in a couple of weeks because we have had a stupid amount of rain and my in laws watch our kids three days a week and I want to get right home to relieve them. 

I am going to take some pictures on my way to show some of the scenes that I see on the bike rather than through my car windows on the expressway. 

I was literally smiling was I rode through a park and rang my bell at a bunch of deer that were hanging out by the river. 

I won’t ride in the rain, but that’s it. This is the way to go. 

Why not go to the gym for a workout?  Because the gym sucks. Why not do something fun and get the workout?  The gym would also require extra time out of my already busy schedule when this is worked right into time I already have planned for anyway. It is only 15-30 minutes more than my regular commute and in some cases it will be shorter, depending on traffic. 

If you live 10 miles or less from your destination, then this should be a no brainer.  

Do it. 

Groceries

This is the one that gets us and most people. Where do you currently shop for food?  At restaurants?  Don’t do that. When we do that we spend a ton of money.  You probably do too. 

Look at a few months worth of food spending and see where you’re at.  I don’t know where that number should be, but I’ve seen some say that their meals work out to be about $2 each, so that sounds like a nice goal. 

I know that we aren’t there right now but we are trying something new soon. Maybe next week, and I’ll post back on what that new approach is if it works well. 

For now, try going to farmers markets and discount stores. My local favorite is Aldi.  You can fill a cart with food for the same price as a hand basket at the other places. Yes, the food is edible and in many cases is better than the alternatives. They also have come a long way when it comes to dietary needs by stocking a lot of gluten free and “healthy” alternative items. 

If you are on a fad diet or something that claims that it’s not a diet but tells you what to eat, along with the purchase of a $200/month equivalent of a carnation instant breakfast, then you can just stop that right now. 

I’m not nutrition expert but I do know that common sense goes a long way here and sticking to the services sizes does too. You know when you’re eating like an idiot and don’t need to pay someone to tell you to eat better, less, and to get exercise. 

No, eating like a caveman will not cure autoimmune disease. Jesus, they had a life expectancy of like 20 years, so what sense does that make?

Stop looking for an easy answer. You already know what the answers are. 

Victim of a Sale, Almost

A few days ago, somebody told my wife that Gander Mountain was going out of business and everything was on sale.  My wife went and scored a few great deals on raincoats for the kids that have been hard to come across, and she picked up a coat for herself. One of those two-in-one coats so she can get rid of a few other jackets. 

I decided I would go check out what they had to see if I could find a deal for myself. I have been wanting to find a coat to replace several for a while now anyway. 

I got there and pretty much everything was at least 20% off. There did appear to be some good deals after all. I went straight to the clearance section and didn’t like the selection they had in my size. I looked at every jacket they had in the place and ended up walking around with two, trying to decide which one to get. I was caught up in the sale-price-moment and was blinded to the point where I forgot that I didn’t have to buy anything at all that day. 

That’s what sales do. They make you feel a sense of urgency. Buy it now or you’ll regret it. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of either of the jackets I was walking around with and realized that I can probably find exactly what I want if I do some more shopping. 

I beat the hell out of the 20% off deal that day by saving 100%. 

Selling vs Spending

There are a lot of people who spend money to get that instant hit of gratification. Everyone has done it. We all know what it feels like to get something new. If you’ve ever gambled, you know how exciting it is to win too. So what is it that you are chasing?  

Let’s focus on gambling for a minute. You go in knowing that you might walk away with nothing, or even less than you went in with. But there is that chance that you leave with more than you had that morning.  If you do win, what will you do with that money?  Buy more things for a little more of that rush?  Does the cycle ever end before you realize that you are a rabbit chasing an imaginary carrot?  The funny thing is that for the rabbit, the carrot would at least be something good. 

The house always wins, right?  Everyone knows that too. They are making big bucks on suckers. Unless you rarely ever gamble and happen to get lucky that one time, you are losing. It’s spending money that you really love and winning more just lets you spend more. 

What if there was something that also gave you a little rush, but you always won when you did it?  This exists and it’s called getting rid of your shit. Sort of. It’s selling things you don’t need on eBay or some other market place. 

Imagine this. You EASILY list an item by downloading the app on your phone, taking a few​ pictures, and finishing up by following some simple instructions. Then, someone places a bid on the item. Depending on how you set up the auction, you may have just made money!  Then another bid comes in and you’ve made more!  Who knows howany more bids you’re going to get before the auction time runs out!  You get a few email notifications trickle through in those last few seconds, and you did it. You got rid of your shit and made a few bucks. 

Now package it up and ship it. Win win. 

Our Kids and Stuff

We took a look around and saw that our house is crawling with toys. The funny thing is that Darth only consistently plays with a few toys. He loves his Bruder construction vehicles, Hess Trucks, Hot Wheels, remote controlled monster truck, and Legos. Other new toys get about 15 minutes of play before they end up in a junk bin stashed in the basement. We had about five if these junk bin filled with pieces of toys, little shit toys like you’d get in a happy meal. 

We made a deal with our son that if he donate or sold what was in those junk bins that he barely blayed with, he could buy one nice toy that he would really like. 

He went for it and we got rid of several of those toy bins. He got the remote controlled monster truck that we like playing with together. We bring it on walks in the neighborhood and in the woods at the park. He has something he really gets use out of instead of the trinket toys. The hard part is getting other people to stop bringing this stuff into our house. 

It was a good way to consolidate​. Less clutter feels better. 

Two of My Recent Mistakes

Isn’t it nice to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes?

1. I upgraded a part on a friend’s car, which left us with a perfectly fine and functioning original part. He said he didn’t want it and told me I could sell it if I wanted to.

I listed the part on eBay to cast a wide net to prospective buyers and used eBay’s recommended shipping cost to let sellers know how much it would cost to ship it to them. That was the mistake. 

I had received a few bids on the part and it ended up selling for a little over $20, so the buyer sent me $30-something total to cover the shipping. Here is where the first mistake really presents itself…
When I got to the post office, I learned that the box was a little oversized for their standard shipping rates and that when that is the case, they double the shipping weight too. Shipping to FL from NY was $40 using priority shipping, which is what the listing said I would be using. I could have saved a little money using ground but that would have been 6-10 days, with the risk of receiving negative feedback on my eBay account, which has a lot of sales with 100% positive feedback.  I decided to eat this one and learn the lesson.  I will now weigh and measure every box to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

2. This touching story should have never happened. Remember the post where I found all of that scrap metal on a walk and was going to get paid after bringing it to the scrap yard?  Well, it wasn’t aluminum. It was steel, which is nearly worthless. Thankfully, I caught this before making the trip to the junker. I’m not great at identifying metals, but I should have known this wasn’t aluminum tubing while I was loading it into my car. It was too heavy.

The way to avoid this one is to keep a magnet in your car. If the magnet sticks to the metal, don’t pick it up.

Lessons learned. Do you have any that you’d like to share that might help someone out?

Get Rid of It!

Here is a screenshot of what cleaning out some junk got me on eBay in the last two months. 


This is some stuff that was doing nothing for me. It added nothing to my life. 

Here is a shot of some recent Craigslist action. 

You are sitting on a gold mine, I’m tellin’ ya!  There is currently $250 worth of stuff sitting on there right now waiting for someone to snatch up. What would have done with these things?  What do you do with things you don’t use anymore?

I love these win-wins, when you get rid of junk and make money doing it. 

The apps make it so easy to list items too. You just take a picture of what you are selling and it walks you through the posting process. Setting up an account is easy too. 

Craigslist buyers can be easy to deal with or awful. There are a lot of scams out there and they list some of the signs in their site. 

Start to price your items by searching to see what other people are trying to get for theirs. I have a rule where I won’t meet up with anyone for under $20. It’s just not worth the hassle. I usually bring the sub-$20 items to work and give them away. 

Just meet up with the buyers or sellers somewhere public and only deal with cash. Don’t feel pressured to sell something just because they are offering you “$100 cash.” I hate when people say that as a part of their low ball offers. What the hell did they think you would accept other than cash?  It doesn’t sweeten the deal in any way. Also be prepared to be peppered with these lowball offers by throngs of idiots. 

eBay on the other hand is much easier to deal with when it comes to the buyers and sellers.  The only downside is that you have to package and ship the items when they sell and you have a feedback rating. If you sell busted stuff, you’ll get negative feedback and you’ll have a hard time selling anything else. Timeliness and service are important as well. It’s sort of like your own little business, and it actually is for many people. I’m proud to have 102 eBay sales with 100% positive reviews. Oh, you’ll also want to set up a PayPal account if you’re going to be using eBay. That’s easy to do too when you get to their site. 

Homework: Get eBay, PayPal, and Craigslist accounts then find one $20 item you can sell. It’ll be like the first time you smoked crack all over again. Cripes, I hope you weren’t able to make a strong connection there. 

Go!