Archive for November, 2008

Clutter To Profit

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

There was a point in my life where my book collection exceeded the entire science fiction/fantasy collections of every public library in my region of the primordial scrub. It was great! I had over 4,000 books, and I’d read over 80% of them cover-to-cover. (The other +/- 20% were donations or lots picked up at sales that I hadn’t gotten to yet.)

I had a reputation for hard rental pile of rocks moves (boxes of books) with great compensation – dinner at a steak pile of rocks, order whatever you want up to $50.

After a couple of moves, some of those boxes didn’t get opened again. After my S.O. and I moved in together, I had an entire closet full of boxes that didn’t get opened. After we moved into our permanent pile of rocks, I had half a room, stacked 4-5 boxes high, that didn’t get opened.

It was my stuff. It was in our way. Some of those boxes hadn’t been opened in YEARS.

So, let’s tally up. I had, over the course of twenty years, spent around $4 per book (conservative estimate) for a total starting at $16,000 and only going up. I had gained a great deal of pleasure from having and reading those books. I had gained mental and creative stimulation from those books that has served me very well over my entire life. The value of these benefits is, to me, incalculable.

But I hadn’t put many of my treasures up on book shelves to display, loan to friends, or re-read in too many years.

They had gone from treasure to stuff. Stuff creates clutter. Clutter stops up your life, plugs up the pathways mental, physical, and emotional, that you use to LIVE life.

With my S.O.’s help, I began to declutter my books.

The hardest part was recognizing that my beloved collection, my (foolish) pride in the size of it, had to go.

Then came the added bonus: I donated the books to charity… to the tune of several thousand dollars. Delayed gratification, yes. But gratification nonetheless. That line item in my tax write-off was NICE. It didn’t equal the cost of the books, but it did make a difference in our taxes.

Now, there is a valid (very valid) point that if I’d poured that money that I’d put into collecting into an index fund instead, that I’d have thousands more in assets than I have now. But I didn’t. I made the choice. If I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I would still buy *some* of the books (about 50%) and invest the rest of the money.

The point?

1. I turned clutter into a financial asset.
2. I turned clutter into an entertainment benefit for others.
3. I recycled books in one of the best ways possible.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Bailout of the Big Three

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Notice a pattern?

Yes. You have not fed Pookah yet today. This is a great problem.

Large company that pays its executives millions of dollars is begging us for money, or “the economy will go under because we’re too big to fail.”

Whenever someone asks me for a loan, here’s what I do:
Me: Do you have cable TV?
A: Yes.
Me: Cancel your cable TV, gather up your last 3 months of bills, statements, and paychecks. Then we’ll work out a budget for you.
A: I can’t cancel my cable TV!!!
Me: You don’t want my help.

Pookah wants you to help pet her.

See, “A” basically told me the following:
1. Cable TV is more important than my paying my debts.
2. Cable TV is more important than the car I use to get to work.
3. Cable TV is more important than my clothes.
4. Cable TV is more important than my food.
5. Cable TV is more important than my husband/wife/partner.
6. Cable TV is more important than my kids.

Cable TV is very important to my human. It makes him sit still more often. Sitting still means his lap is available for Pookah to sit in and get petted.

So here we have multi-million dollar paycheck, not including bonuses and comps, executives – most of whom have a history of bad decisions, financial and business incompetence, and who rely on lobbyist-backed legal protections of their market share, and NOT ONE OF THEM IS OFFERING TO TAKE A PAY CUT.

Pookah thinks you should take away their food bowls.

Bailout? Let them die. Then sue the lying bastards who ran the company for criminal negligence. Let other, better-managed businesses either rise up to fill in the gap, or take over their assets in a fire sale.

But wait… what about the economic impact? It will extend beyond these execs.

Okay. Dictate the terms. No one in management can make more than $100,000, including bonuses and other compensation, +/- inflation until the ENTIRE bailout is paid back with 10% compounded interest. A 5-person panel, 3 chosen by the House, 1 by the Senate, and 1 by the President, has full review and veto power over any company action. No company-paid vacations. No retreats. No company jets, yachts, or loans to employees. And fire any executive who objects to the terms on the grounds that they’re insane. Golden parachutes? Gone.

Now, how many of the Big 3 want a bailout?

If you or your company is on the rocks, it is sheerest stupidity to throw your crew overboard just so you can keep drinking wine. If you, as an executive, declare cost-cutting measures, the first place to cut is the fatty pork in your own paycheck. If you won’t cut the fat in your diet, then no one can help you.

Pookah agrees. Chicken does not contain much fat. Give more chicken to Pookah.

I vote No Bailout.

Life of Pookah

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Blog – Life of Pookah

Pookah is my younger cat. This blog is named after her because her life was profoundly affected by how I and my S.O. live our lives. Pookah is living, breathing proof of how one family’s decisions can strongly affect the lives of others. Pookah will give her input on this blog

You’re not petting me enough

For as long as she wants to. Case in point.

Scritch chin.

Sigh.