In my last update in April, I talked about the complete unknowability of the world’s financial situation. The stocks have been swinging up and down seemingly on a whim, and nothing seems safe anymore.  I’m a year and half into my experiment of living off dividend income while on my sabbatical, so in this completely terrible time to try such a thing, how am I doing? While some of my funds have indeed suspended payouts, including Carnival Cruise Lines (go figure), I’m actually doing fine with others.  I predicted back in January that I should be able to make $1,191 a month on average thisRead More →

It’s been about a year since I built a two (ish) car carport with my Dad. I documented that process here and wanted to give a followup on what worked, what I tweaked, and what I’d change if we did it again. The good First off, the carport performed great in the winter. I was worried that the 4/12 pitch wouldn’t be steep enough, but the snow slides right off in big sheets as soon as the sun warms it up. Even when ice forms, there’s enough of a roof overhang that the plastic on the sides hasn’t been damaged.  The 11.5′ width of theRead More →

When’s the last time you’ve watched old family home videos? Do you still have a stack of old Hi8 or VHS tapes, orphaned without a device to play them on? Our family was in this boat, with tapes we hadn’t watched in years (or, in a couple of cases, ever), so I undertook an effort to digitize everything and upload it to a family YouTube channel. Converting everything can seem like a daunting task, but I’m going to walk you through the ins and outs and provide tips to make it as easy as possible. Most of this guide is tailored to converting old analogRead More →

I still have the first MacBook Pro I ever bought, a mid-2010 model with a Core 2 Duo processor. It has features that even the modern MacBooks don’t, like a fantastic keyboard, a very cool sub-surface sleep indication light, MagSafe power, and an array of ports that just work without a $50 USB-C dongle. Of the two upgrades I made to it years ago, moving from 4 to 8GB of RAM definitely helped, but the SSD is what’s kept it usable, even ten years later. What’s an SSD, and why would I want one? Simply put, they’re really fast. They’re also much more resistant toRead More →

Hi all! Haven’t done an update in a while, so I recorded a short vlog update of what I’ve been up to. As I mention in the video, two things I did in the past couple of weeks were replace the hard drive in a 2015 iMac, and encode and upload all of our family videos to a private YouTube channel. If you’re interested for more details about either, or a different topic, please let me know. Read More →

I thought the first two months of the global virus outbreak was tough, then last month rolled in. The video of Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting in Georgia went viral in early May, and the footage of George Floyd being choked to death was viewed nationwide on May 25th. Both events saddened me, and have sparked demonstrations nationwide about the racial divide and police use of force.  Without video, it’s unlikely that either case would have resulted in charges. This is particularly evident with the Arbery shooting, where the event itself happened on February 23rd, but no charges were filed until the video was leaked three months later.Read More →

Last week, I got a 65″ Hisense H8F television for $255 – 64% off retail price. I’ve often waited a few days on Amazon and gotten the item I was shopping for at half the price. In 2014, I flew cross country from Seattle to New York for £52.69 (about $88 USD at the time) – and the return flight was in business class. I made more back in frequent flyer miles than the cost of the flight. How do I find these sorts of deals? Deal alerts. You can too!  Creating Deal Alerts There are a few sites out there that make looking forRead More →

Escalating unemployment is one of the top news stories right now amid the coronavirus shutdown. Many industries are completely shuttered, others are operating but dramatically scaled back, and this has resulted in a vast number of people becoming unemployed.  I was curious to know, at what point will the United States hit levels higher than those we’ve ever seen in recent history? Well, based on the numbers, that figure is about 10%, or 33 million based on the current U.S. population. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. To get that number, we have to look back pretty far in history. The Balance hasRead More →

I like using the Disqus comment system here (and as a commenter myself elsewhere). It’s used across many blogs, so you don’t have to individually register with all of them, and comes with some built-in spam filtering as well. Once it’s installed in WordPress, it overwrites the built-in commenting system, but not perfectly – the comment count still shows the old, now defunct, system.  I finally corrected this using a plugin that allows Javascript code snippets to be pasted in directly through the WordPress dashboard in seconds. Super easy, and now, comment counts will display accurately here!  If everything I just said made your eyesRead More →

Last year, I decided to quit my job and take a sabbatical. I’ve talked about it before in a previous post, but a couple of my goals were to spend more time with my family and do some travel. I maintained my dental and vision coverage through COBRA since it was reasonably priced ($66/month), but healthcare would have added another $600 a month to that figure, and I couldn’t justify that. I maxed out my HSA contribution first, to provide me with a small safety net, and decided to go without coverage for a while.  As I write this in April 2020, COVID-19 has beenRead More →