Trail Run

Day off work today. I took H to school and Winnie for a trail run. That's what we call it now, apparently. My Garmin watch defined it for me.

I could not decide on a definition

It wasn't a run because the hills were too steep. It wasn't a walk because I ran/stumbled down the hills. It was a trail with lots of huge puddles. Winnie loved it. Although for some reason I think trail-run sounds like a name foisted on me by fit young Californian called Chuck who works for Garmin's Customer Engagement team. I might be overthinking it.

On the way home we bought a ute load of gravel and some bits and bobs from the hardware shop. We also picked up some groceries. When I say "We" I am being a tad optimistic, Winnie did not contribute much. In fact she whined and moaned when I left her in the back of the ute on a pile of gravel whilst I was in the shop. At home our builders and a plumber were busy. I fixed a broken pipe, shoveled the gravel into a ditch and fed the dog. Made a sheep curry. I called our Window people to make sure they're making our windows for downstairs. Our neighbour had a screaming bout. Dogs barked. A fairly normal suburban day.

Winnie, trail running

Here is Winnie trail running with me this morning. We did not go far because we had lots of other jobs to do today. Now it's time to go meet H off the bus. The day went quick.

Mending a Puncture

Emrys and I are mending a puncture...
Well we did that, and moved some flooring downstairs. He has his uses. I was just showing him how this blog worked.

a puncture

It's now evening and I'm waiting for the roast to finish cooking. Jax cut my hair and I look spiffing. I didn't clean the windows, walk the dog, clean the house or dig the trenches. I did have a beer with MJD though. Looks like tomorrows work is all lined up.

Mihamon Management

Hello there H, You asked for some money advice. Let's be clear I am no financial advisor. I am barely financially literate. It's true however that I put my beloved R to sleep at night regaling her with my financial equivalent of a shortsighted Don Quixote attacking windmills. I do include management of my wages in my life plans and that is probably a step ahead some people. Everyone has different ideas of what to do with their money, their life and their time. All of which are deeply entwined. I would not recommend my crazy brains illogical and downright stupid ideas to anybody else. I guess what I am saying is don't trust my nutty plans, work out your own crazy plans.

Don Quixote by Daumier

Making Plans

What you have been doing is great, assembling all your ingoing money and outgoing money; your assets and liabilities. Just make it a habit, keep doing it. Personally I do something similar. I have a folder on my computer called 'Tax' inside that folder I have folders for each tax year e.g. '2016-7', '2017-8', 2018-9'.

A damn interesting picture of my tax folder

In each of these folders I have a few spreadsheets in which I work out my ins and outs and my assets and liabilities. I update them (irregularly) every 3-6 months. I also save any documents/reciepts that I might need come tax time. This all sounds slightly organised but it's not really. I also have lots of tax related stuff sitting in my email and on websites (my broker, superannuation, nsw health, banks etc). Most of us are doing similar versions of this to lesser or greater degrees, just don't stop doing it. You will work out your own system for organising all that information, probably better than my rag tag system. You will also begin to see where your own financial strengths and weaknesses are. Then you will be in a position to improve things.

What you Want is not always what you Need!

If you duckduckgo 'personal balance sheet' there is a ton of useful information like the ?Saudi Budget 101: How to Create a Personal Balance Sheet or this great thread on reddit and a bazillion others. I think just understanding what in your life are ins and outs and what are your assets and liabilities is a major step. Then when you look at your bank/credit card/mortgage/super statements you can decide what is a 'need' and what is a 'want'.

Nerd wallet
The Difference Between Wants and Needs
Personal Finance: back to basics

Never Stop Learning

Reading stuff like the Barefoot Investor; following discussions on Reddit's financial forums; and blogs like Mr Money Mustache have made me rethink my decisions. Just look out for the snake oil salespeople and the rich bastards showing off. I'm sure you have a bunch of resources too. Just make time to poke around some of the ideas and strategies people use. Ask questions, email, IM, talk to R or me about your ideas we can nut out stuff together.

Keep Saving

I don't know about you but I'm crap at saving money. I remedy my crapness with a bunch of automatic transfers I set up on my bank account. Everytime I get paid most of it automatically dissappears the next day into the mortgage and house bills. Sometimes I reduce my savings to pay off debts but on the whole, like our worn out lawn mower, I try and keep it running.

Saving is not just about putting away your wages and not buying that overpriced daily chai latte. It's about paying off debts. Look at your mortgage(s) can you roll it into a cheaper deal? Have you called your bank barefoot style?. Find a better mortgage with the help of ASICs MoneySmart. Get a variable rate. Credit cards are the gateway drug to modern day slavery, pay them off and fuck them off. Look up the Snowball method.

Own It

H, you'll notice I did not use any of yours or my actual financial details to answer your questions. This is because nobody is more engaged in your financial status than you. If they are then I suspect their motives. This is one of the reasons I tend to not trust personal financial advisors. I have in the past and regretted it. That's not to say they are all crooks but they do need to make a living and your money is it. Therefore I think it is important that you and I should engage in our financial situation, we should own it. Having said all that I will tell you what I would do in your situation - feel free to ignore me.

 1. If your bank won't flex consider a cheaper mortgage provider 
   * Rent a room to help pay the mortgage.
   * Consider moving to a cheaper house.
 2. Use the mortgage with the lowest interest rate to pay off all the other debts.
  * Be wary of fees 
  * That means paying off your credit cards and then cancelling the account. 
  * Cut up the credit cards and burn the pieces. 
  * Replace your credit card habit with a bank account which you must always keep topped up. When you spend it save until it's back to where you started.
  * Only have one mortgage. Aim to get rid of it. 
 3. Thinking really hard about your regular expenses are they needs or wants?

I am happy to chat to you about stuff and I expect you can offer just as much advice I can. Just like everyone else I have no idea what the future holds. Just remember to wear sunscreen.

Cheers, Ruben

p.s I like obscure words which is where the title of this post came from: Mihamon => Mammon => Money

Not Running

It has been almost a week since I had a run. I have had a busy week of work and home renovations, and I know that is an excuse. I will go for a run in about an hour. I'm dropping the boy off at a birthday party this afternoon which will give me an uncomplicated hour to go for a run. Like Paul Flannery not running becomes a problem for me. I can feel my fragile motivation to run is tugged at by a dark whirlpool in my mind. A familiar depressive pattern which luckily for me and those around me I mostly outrun. I can get by without running. Raising kids, earning money and whatever else has mostly kept me on the straight and narrow.

My Garmin Connect page is testament to how uninspired my fitness regime is

Running or just walking for me is taking myself away and into my own space. Automatically integrating my body, thoughts and feelings with each step, scramble and stumble. When I start, like Forest Gump I have no desire to ever stop. Until I do.


Blood is amazing stuff, there is no end to it's uses. The blood of pigs is the source for black pudding which is delightful. Milk is mostly blood, it's just more convenient to suck it from a teat than stabbing your cow in the neck Maasai warrior style. The primary function of blood is apparently to keep your organs perfused, nutrified and energised, snacking only came later...

2010 to 2015 blood results

I had a blood test this morning. I am curious to see if my cholesterol has improved since four years ago when I last had it tested. I'm also interested to see how my liver is dealing with my alchohol intake. My last test transparently saw that I had drunk too much wine the previous night. My GGT was 52 units/L which in my case was (admittedly only slight) evidence of a bottle of wine. My ALP was 127 units/L which could be a number of things like bones remodelling or biliary obstruction, basically my liver was a little bit hungover. I don't think it too concerning even if back in 2010 a blood test found slightly elevated ALT and AST, more damning evidence that I may be damaging my liver. Anyway that was all ancient history. This time it has been ooh... well, um ... at least a couple of nights since I had too much beer with MJD. I walked/ran the twelve kilometres home in a vain attempt to counteract my unhealthy behaviour. I would of course be healthier if I did not drink alchohol but I would probably get run over by a bus with the small god of irony behind the wheel. So, for now I will continue to drink in moderation. I shall continue to be stupidly surprised when my actions produce demonstrable results.

I'm attempting to educate myself to better understand blood results. My job requires that I can see when blood results are out of whack but busy shifts don't leave much time to see past the numbers. Joanne Reading taught me the handy mnemonic Never Let Monkeys Eat Bananas. It refers to the ratio of different types of white blood cells. They are made up of roughly 60% Neutrophils; 30% Lymphocytes; 6% Monocytes; 3% Eosinophils and 1% Basophils and when those percentages veer off course by too much I know something is amiss. Quite what is amiss is where it starts to get diabolical.

I've had my porridge and coffee so it is time I took my bicycle to task. I will write more on this blood business as the data comes in.

Sunny Afternoon

I was running around Coffs Harbour listening to Annie Lennox speak on an old Desert Island Disc programme yesterday. She talked about how music becomes an intrinsic part of the listener, or words to that effect. In fact she pointed out that words could not suffice to explain the depth of feelings and influence that the music had on her. I find it sad to consider the melancholy person who would disagree with her. I know that like Annie I also felt (and continue to feel) the previous generation of new ideas resonating through the music. Those influences and ideals from the original songs bump up against the memories of my actions and feelings when I listened to them. I imagine my musical tastes could act like a fingerprint identifying my place in the spectrums of time, geography, society and politics to name a few.

One of the lovliest things about music is our shared intersections. The reasons we feel a song so deeply are our own. When we share our favourite musical tracks with others we get the chance to see where our souls are linked, or not. Annie had Vivaldi's Winter as one of her Desert Island Discs. She thought it was beautiful. I thought it was the unwelcome sound of hold music. It made a change to hear it without the frequent crackling pauses in which the listener thinks someone from the call centre will finally answer. Which goes to show that not all musical intersections are about shared love of a track. On the other hand she and I shared love for many songs. The reasons for our intersections in those chosen songs would no doubt differ but we share those songs and the powerful resonating history of the them.

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon AKA The Harvesters by Bruegel

An Intersection

Some time ago my brother gave me some pulverised Greek coffee. The first time I remember having real coffee was squatting around a blue propane camping stove in the Negev with three Palestinians. We were working as underpaid agricultural labourers. I was broke and on the run from that rainy shithole I used to call home. This morning I finished off the last of my Greek coffee. I brewed it the way those old workmates of mine taught me, plenty of coffee, cardamons, sugar and boiled to buggery. Hipster coffee snobs would have conniptions. Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks was playing in the kitchen. Ray Davies who wrote the song had very specific memories about what he was wearing at the time, where he was and probably the smell of the sunlight on the linoleum. The lyrics come from the perspective of a wealthy cad who has been caught by the taxman and is bemoaning his plight.

He's taken everything I got

All I've got's this sunny afternoon

The original meaning of song lyrics is often unimportant to me, this is why pop music is so great. I did not earn enough to be noticed by the taxman. I think I subconsciously replaced the taxman with whatever else in my life that had 'taken everything I got' (...cough..Thatcher...). I was deprived of a job with wages I could live on. The beauty of Rays' song was the Sunny Afternoon, it inspired me to leave the cold wet rainy days of my old home and find a wealth of lazy sunny afternoons in which I could sip ice cold beer. Or, more truthfully sip sweet, strong coffee in the morning sunshine.

My Nikola cheat card

I am exceedingly lazy and my desire to retain knowledge of how my own blog works is dismal. For my own benefit I made a cheat sheet to remind me what I do when I feel like harking on about some crap on this site. I am edging towards doing away with the whole deployment bit and just making the output into the live site. Like most people I just want an easy life... and I can't stop fiddling with it.

cd ~/nikola
## start virtualenv
source bin/activate

cd tregeagle  
nikola new_post -e --format=markdown --title="A-new-post"

## open site on local dev server
nikola serve --browser  
nikola auto -b  

## rebuild site with new post
nikola build

## apply custom deployment commands from
nikola deploy

## stop virtualenv

Some references:

Nikola Handbook
RSS enclosure
Markdown syntax ...and this ...and even this pdf

Motorbike Ride

I took the motorbike (which I tend to think of as on loan from Alfred) up the road today. It flew like a Mongolian pony on the steppes. It was great. Winter days here are just perfect. The air is chilled and the sun flashing between the trees is dazzling. I rode up Red Hill, through Coramba and on past the Yellow Dog. That dog is the ugliest dog statue I've seen. It is so ugly it's almost beautiful. Actually it's not ugly or beautiful, it is just bland. I was going to stop and photograph it to send to my brother, I thought he'd appreciate how bland it was but I was having too much fun arcing round those roads. Passing Lanitza surfaced bitter sweet memories of good times with old mates.

My motorbike

Later I came home in the dark. Coming down from Nymboida was icy cold I swooped over the hill into Grafton. Stopping for a coffee I wrapped my fingers around the cup until the blood started to flow again. The air lost its bite and I rode home with old friends in mind.

Toasted Sandwich

Feeling hungry at the end of a long day my colleague and I found ourselves remembering Breville sandwich toasters with mouthwateringly fond memories.

The Fantastical Breville Sandwich Toaster

Toast is banned at work due to the smoke alarms that call the fire brigade everytime toast is burnt which was apparently fairly often. A chilly morning a couple of days later and young Davis asked for a cheese and ham toastie whilst out picking up some milk from the grocery shop. We picked up a sandwich toaster for the price of a loaf and a half of bread. Since then it's been toastie heaven.

I Say, I Say

"Toby, Toby! Here boy!" called my dog, Alfie. It was time for our walk. I ran in from the backyard where I had been digging up weeds. Alfie and I walked to the park. Peeing amongst some weeds along the way Alfie commented on the weather. I was distracted as I had been all week. Alfie seemed concerned and tried to draw me into conversation.

"Look at this fresh shit." he gave it an exploratory lick, "It's Trevors, he eats way to much of that tinned food" Alfie brushed his nose against my leg. I felt his wet tongue lollop against me as he did so.

Alfie had refused to eat tinned food from early on. He had reasoned that if I would not eat 'that tinned stuff' why should he. The next day I made roast chicken, potatoes and pumpkin with gravy and brocolli. After I'd put some aside for next days lunch I gave Alfie the left-overs. He was furious.

"So, you won't eat the chickens bum or the brown goobey bits and you think it's OK for me?"

He ate it anyway but spent all night at my feet restlessly farting. "But Alfie you are a dog" I said. "And you are a just human, we're both sentient. Just because you have a couple of stubby opposable thumbs doesn't make you better than me" "Well it does actually, I can cook" "I can bite. Do you think cooking makes you morally superior? Just because you mastered the gas chamber I get to live on lips, tits and bums?" "It's a gas cooker, Alfie" "Don't patronise me. If you keep feeding me that crap, Toby, we'll both get to enjoy the gas chamber. Out of my ass."

The next day I grilled a couple of pork chops with apple sauce, green beans and spuds. I gave Alfie his own plate and that was the start of it.