Cell Phone Bill Vanquished

Phone companies are ridiculous, simply ridiculous. They rope you in, up-sell you and we buy into all the hype. Why wouldn’t we believe that we need to have gaming power to listen to music. Phones change every 6 months, and our eyes are pulled toward shinier and shinier things. Phone plans are far too costly overall. Verizon is the most expensive but the best in reception. I have been paying $160 a month for two Android phones for the past two years. That’s just under $2000 a year to make a phone call and send text message oh and for my data (which I almost never use). When T-Mobile came hard hitting with their $80 & $100 plans, I was tempted. Then I had to factor in the cost of new equipment. T-Mobile offers free streaming music on their plans which could be useful in the car or I could just download a playlist and listen to that. Streaming music wasn’t enough to pull me from Verizon. But $160 a month was killing me. So I took a trip to my local Verizon store to see what they could do to ease the pain.

Before I arrived my wife and I had decided that we could live with 3G data and a pre-paid plan for each line. The plans were $45/ea with 1GB of data. We are both heavily saturated in wifi connectivity all day and never use our data. Our highest data consumption between both phones was 1.89GB once. And that was out of a 3GB plan. Once in store the rep was very responsive. They worked with me to give me some discounts and at the end of my visit my bill was reduced to $81 a month before taxes. I think Verizon is getting hip to the game that other carriers are offering more data for less. Today voice quality is still important, but not as much as data and text messaging. Now with over $60 saved a month, date night has become that much sweeter.

Living by Candle Light

imageRecently our family began to experiment with living by candle light. I had read an article about a couple who had also done the same for about a month and had some interesting discoveries. For our family the draw was calmer evenings and more intentional living. God created the sun, sunset and sunrise. We effectively extend the sun’s daytime hours by using electric light. By using fire light we are able to bring the sunset inside and gradually transition to sleep. Our bodies produce melatonin which helps us sleep. The bright lights we use inside our homes retard that natural process. The result is anxious sleep patterns and lack of sleep in general. Which potentially leads to the use of sleep aids and other drugs. Candle light has proven to be beneficial to our family’s nightly routine, with some adjustments. Continue reading

Distracted

When I was a younger man in the mid 1990’s, I enjoyed writing. I wrote essays and poems and even letters. I would write for hours and later share my work with my friends. We would hang out in small groups and share poetry and essays we had written. I wrote on paper and sometimes I used a dedicated word processor. Today my attempts at writing is generally stale, lacking passion and conviction. I generally have too many thoughts to share that never make it out of my mind. My thoughts are like bumper cars. I recently began to wonder what happened to me, why can I no longer write the way I used to write. The reason is simple. Today I am distracted. Continue reading

Super Simple Kicks

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I recently bought a pair of Converse sneakers. My first pair ever. Which is apparently some rite of passage, unbeknownst to me. I bought them because I needed a sneaker to exercise in, and I wanted a simple shoe at that. I had bought into the need for the super supported space-age Nike shoes in the past. Then as I got older I questioned the need for “good sneakers”. What made a good sneaker any
way?
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Still No Heat

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It’s November 1st and I’ve yet to turn on the heat in our home. Each year we try to combat the price of home heating in the Northeast with common sense. Hot drinks, blankets, and warm clothing are some of the ways we keep warm in the house while it is cold outside. There are other ways.
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Just Breathe

It had been hours since I last looked at my phone for much of anything. I had refrained all day from playing games and Youtube videos and other non-sense. When I arrived hone from work, the kids were playing and my wife was preparing dinner. The house was exceptionally clean too. The TV was off! There was not any stress or drama in the air. What was different?

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Not Today NSA

Free communication is something that we would not expect to be “good” or up to today’s standards. But is our standard too high? Do we expect to pay to communicate with each other? Well I did too, until now.

Anonymous, claims to have a way to do just that. According to a May article on the Register the group has started a project to marry ham radio with computers in effort to allow people to communicate wirelessly, using radio waves over long distances. OK, we’ve done that before. But not in an encrypted fashion and at a low cost.

The method of encryption is called the Lulzpacket. This could be a game changer and begs the question; why do we just accept the communication methods we are sold?

So let this be the first of many attempts for us to freely speak and not conform to the methods prescribed by our governments.

Stuff, Food, Space

Episode 1 shows us how we use our spaces. Toys have taken over many homes. We just keep buying stuff. Things that we intend to use, hope to use, but never use. Further more the stuff, the clutter causes us to feel stressed.
Episode 2 speaks to our compulsion to buy tons of prepackaged “food”. Over-purchasing items just to have them.
Episode 3 illustrates largely the use of the American kitchen, the bathroom and the “master” bedroom. Why do we have a master bedroom or suite as some may call it?

 

De-clutter your life and your mind

I have noticed that when I start thinking of something that gets me excited, I really think about it a lot. A lot of time can go into a topic. I start to think about how I can buy it, modify it and do a lot with it. This used to happen with electronics. I would read and research and then I would get the item and then I would read about how I could expand it or hack it. The same has happened with guitars, mobile phones, anything. I have allowed myself to become consumed. So I have decided that when I start giving a lot of mind-time to anyone thing, topic, or concept, it may be time to get rid of it. I own two electric guitars that I’ve had for about 20 years. I’ve not played them in about 7 years. But I still think about them and how awesome it will be when I get them fixed and start playing them again. The truth is that even if I was to spend the money to get them fixed, I’ll not have any more time to play them than I do the acoustic guitar I have and currently play. One guitar is enough. That’s all there is to it. One is enough. So later this week, those guitars are going to the consignment shop. I have not used them for a long time and instead of being held captive to the “what if” or “someday” thoughts, I am choosing to let them go. Not only will I have less stuff and less clutter, but I will no longer have two clutter magnets. The longer I keep them the more likely they are to attract stuff to go long with them. This is a freeing moment, a deliberate action. This is a part of learning to live with enough.

Taking Back My Simple Life

For years I’ve been chasing a tiny house dream. My wife has endured my many phases and stages of pseudo experiments and excitement as I learn more and more about living in a smaller space. I read a lot of blogs and watch a lot of videos about living smaller, living with less stuff and less money. Today as I sit cuddled up on the couch in the living room, in the New England summer heat with only a fan, some open windows and God’s wind to keep me cool. I feel peaceful. This is simple. This allows me to think about what I really want in this life. On this journey of five years so far we have made a lot of changes. We’ve had two children, put them in daycare as we both worked full time. We have taken them out of daycare and my wife now stays at home and educates our children. I still continue to work full time. And in the last year God has blessed us with a promotion at work that has brought in almost as much money as we lost when my wife quit her job in September of 2013. It has not been easy. But we are still in our home, and I am still looking for a more enjoyable living. I keep feeling as if the answer is within my grasp, but I just cannot see it. Continue reading