Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

13May/130

Spring Cleaning

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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I haven't posted a "One-a-Day" in a while, but decluttering is still near and dear to me. This is a huge pile of toys (and a box of computer parts and cables) from our Spring Fling this weekend. This is the result of having kids who never want to get rid of anything! No idea where they get that from...

7Mar/130

Simplicity Undefined

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I thought I'd do something different today, and post up a link to an excellent article written by a friend, Stephanie Stevens. In my quest to simplify my life, I've come across a lot of challenges, and she addresses some of them in her blog post, What Simplicity Isn't: 4 Things. I highly recommend reading it, as I hope it will make you stop and think about what we've come to think of as "simplifying" in today's world.

I personally have had difficulty separating "simplicity" from "frugality" and "minimalism."  They aren't the same. I've caught myself using these words interchangeably, but the truth is simplicity doesn't always mean the least amount of stuff.

In the past, I was forced to be frugal out of necessity. I fixed my own car, built my own computers, put together my own bikes out of spare parts, used every trick I could to save money. This isn't simplicity! I was always stressed about these jobs, because I couldn't afford to just get it fixed.

Years later I still do most of these things, but I've come to realize it's out of habit, not because I need to any more. God has blessed me to where I can call up a mechanic and have them fix my car without worrying about how we're going to get groceries. I can just pop on Amazon and get a tool I need to make a job easier and faster. I don't have to buy the cheapest washing machine, and deal with the fact that it'll break down constantly. I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that cheaper isn't always simpler or easier.

Now before you can spit your gourmet coffee, yell "DUH!" and slap yourself in the forehead, let me explain. My wife and I both came from relatively poor families. I was taught (and rightly so) that you shouldn't waste money. But as I've grown, I've come to realize the benefits of using money as a tool to get things done to simplify life and save time. I'm past the point where I feel the need to build and fix everything. It just takes too long, causes too much stress, and isn't worth the time if I can spend a bit more to get it done quickly.

I still enjoy building bikes and computers, though I haven't built a computer in a few years. I'm only going to do those things if I enjoy them, though. Why would I stress over it? Either I can do it myself, or I can't... and if I can't, and I can have somebody else do it much more efficiently, then why not?

Simplicity. What does it cost you? Is it worth it? Do you enjoy it?

Is Minimalism really the answer to simplifying your life? They are not always one and the same.

Is it your surroundings or your mental effort that needs to be simplified?

Where do you draw the line between a "life of ease" and "simplicity?" Where do you need to be?

18Jan/130

One-A-Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Today's minimizing victim: old t-shirts that are taking up space in my dresser. Gone!

8May/120

One-A-Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Today's purge item: Clothes that don't fit. Mostly jackets, because I live in Louisiana.

2May/120

One-A-Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Today's de-clutter: Plastic tubs. This one has miles of cables and wires in it. All good stuff, but not things I'd use on a regular basis. If it stays in the tub for a year, then it's safe to say you don't need it.

1May/120

One-A-Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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Today's one-a-day purge item: magazines! I have tons and tons of old car mags. The only subscription I currently have is to Bicycle Times (which is an awesome publication) and they offer it in digital form. How to minimise? Convert your magazines to digital form!

30Apr/124

One-A-Day

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Some of you may have heard of the popular multivitamin One-A-Day. The premise is that you need to take one every day for complete health.I'd like to take credit for it, but my wife gave me the idea of getting rid of "one thing a day" to make simplifying easier. It's genius.

I've been working on simplifying my life, living frugally, and generally just enjoying life more. The concept of simplifying everything at once is daunting, and most people never make it past the first day or two. But one thing a day? Just get rid of one thing a day? Anybody can do that. Right?

So here we go. I'm going to try to post up something I'm getting rid of or simplifying every single day. More or less.

Today's purge item: an old analog 4-port KVM Switch from my computer business days.

4-Port KVM Switch

24Jan/120

Frugal Living Challenge Day 1

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Something that’s become sort of a dirty world lately is “Frugal.” What exactly does it mean to live frugally? Wiktionary defines it as “Avoiding unnecessary expenditure either of money or of anything else which is to be used or consumed; avoiding waste.” So much of what we do today is wasteful. When I say “frugal” I’m not talking about throwing away everything you own, that would be even more wasteful! In a nutshell, being frugal is making the most of what you already have, so that you don’t need to buy more.

One of the blogs I’ve stumbled on recently is Frugally Sustainable. I can identify with much of what Andrea writes, as it echoes my sentiments almost exactly. She’s started something called the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge, and it’s quite a challenge indeed! Start with Day 1, and go from there.

11Dec/110

The Cake Is A Lie

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

The unspoken rules of conspicuous consumption (ripped off from bikesnobnyc):

1) You are what you “own” (or, as is more often the case, lease from a bank)
2) The more money you spend on a vehicle the more human rights you have
3) Anybody smaller and smarter than you deserves to be punished

And there you have it. Anyone still wondering why Occupy Wall Street is happening? This is why. The affluent are taught that anybody who isn’t buying the most expensive stuff they can afford isn’t “successful.” Never mind the fact that there are people who don’t want the most expensive cars and houses they can afford, or the headaches and horrendous work hours and/or ethics required to make that much money. Yes, those people exist.

What if your goal in life wasn’t to make as much money as possible? What if you simply wanted to be the best writer, or musician, or artist, or teacher you could be? What if living within your means makes you happy? What if being a “good businessman” means your family goes neglected, you compromise your beliefs daily for the sake of profit, and you think anybody else who doesn’t is stupid? If that’s success, then count me out.  What is wrong with not wanting to be rich and powerful?

Sadly, with today’s America being what it is, people aren’t being taught to be the best at what they love. They are being taught to obey, submit, conform, and surrender, and maybe someday if they’re good at bootlicking, they can achieve “success.” Sorry, but I’m not interested in that definition of success.

I read a story (in "The 4-Hour Work Week" by Timothy Ferriss) about a businessman who went to Mexico on vacation. He met a local who sat on the beach most of the day playing music with his friends, and occasionally would go fishing to earn just enough money to feed his family for a while.
The businessman told him “You should fish all day, every day, to make more money.”
“Why?” replied the local.
“So you can buy more boats, and hire people to work for you,” the businessman answered.
“Why?” replied the local.
“So you can grow a huge business, take over the market, and earn enough money to retire,” the businessman answered.
“Why?” he asked yet again.
“So you can sit on the beach all day and play music with your friends, and go fishing every now and then...”

Sadly, this is the world we live in now. It’s funny, but only because we know it’s true. What is the purpose of killing yourself trying to achieve the unachievable? What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? (I should do a review of The 4-Hour Work Week, there are some good tips there, but I think Ferriss misses the point)

By the same token, we aren't called to hate the wealthy. Unlike most Americans, I am not envious of them, nor do I want to be like them. I feel sorry for them, because the real enemy is affluency itself. Jesus Christ himself put it this way: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

We are taught self-indulgence, when we should be practicing self-denial.

Oh yeah; Merry Christmas.

26Oct/100

Times They Are A’ Changin

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Okay, first off, I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan. I just like the name of the song.

Secondly, I’m in a quandry. Most of you know I’ve been commuting to work on my bike (pedal powered, not a motorcycle, it always irritates me when people call their motorcycles “bikes”).  In a word, it’s fantastic. I’ve lost weight, gotten healthier, and I actually enjoy the trip to work and back (being at work is a different story entirely). Most of you also know I’m a huge car nut… I love fast cars. I own a sports compact car, which I love to bring to the track and abuse. It’s somewhat of a drama queen, as nothing on it is cheap to fix, and it is rather fickle. And did I mention it’s ridiculously fun to drive? However, it’s paid for, and I’m not really tempted to sell it.

Except that I am really tempted to sell it. Less than a year ago, I was at the point of almost having to sell it, because we just couldn't afford the cost of owning it for very long… however, we managed to pay it off, and our monthly bills dropped more than $300. I was ecstatic. I didn’t have to sell my fast car. My dream didn’t die.