Walking and Travel

As a nineteen year old, Bruce Chatwin introduced me to the latin phrase, 'solvitur ambulando' (The Songlines). Translated as 'it is solved by walking' I liked the phrase immediately. It has become a talisman to be kept in my thoughts. I have not only sought solutions by walking but also by running and cycling. Physical exertion is part of the process. This phrase to me is about abnegation of immediate responsibilities freeing myself to remember or dicover my own core responsibilities. We bog ourselves in uneccesary essentials (lawns need mowing, dogs walking, gutters fixing... ) it is good to remind ourselves of what is actually important to just live and be happy. Solvitur ambulando is my reset button to living.

Tourists start out with lots of gold (suitable for shopping with), a credit card, lots of food, some maps, and an expensive camera. Most monsters don't like being photographed.

(Nethack)

I have not had the chance to go for a walk/run/ride this past week. My work and home chores have taken precedent. Next week I am visiting Tokyo. I am starting to look forward to walking its streets. There is something rather lovely about landing in a completely new environment and wandering around like an interplanetary alien exploring 'this city thing'. The aimless explorer who has been defined by Baudelaire as the 'botanist of the sidewalk' or the by the situationists as a drifting psycho-geographer. These romantic notions are appealing but in all honesty I will be a tourist. I will walk the city with my phone in hand and no doubt share a few snaps on social media. I will eat food that is new or unusual to me. I will buy souvenirs.

Readings

Blinkers

I recently bought some TaoTronics noise cancelling headphones. I thought they'd make the long-haul flight home to the UK less painful.

As an itirant miserable bastard I have found they also work to make long-haul life less painful. Sometimes I just want to switch the world off and step out for a bit. These headphones give me a bit a peace to recompose myself. Not as much peace as the electronic blinkers Panasonic is currently flogging though.

I chose life

I think if I was that desparate I could probably achieve peace with a sack over my head prior to a short walk on a busy motorway.

Next Year

At times I have a plan. I have been known to make a five year plan and more or less stick to it. More happenstance, less plan to be honest. I had planned to quit my previous relationship and go live in the Falklands or the Australian outback. My kids would get monosyllabic postcards occaisonally with no return address. Eventually I'd drown in the frozen wastes of the South Atlantic or get bitten by a death adder far from the nearest billabong and they'd never hear from me again. I was going to grow a beard, stop talking to people and just knuckle down to hard-bitten bachelorhood. I tweaked that plan a bit. Instead I hooked up with a kind and caring woman and her little boy. We remade the plan and it is a much better plan. I stayed nearby and weathered the break up. I have not stopped talking but I do talk less. I have grown a beard.

Now it is time for another plan. Happenstance will no doubt take precedent. Nonetheless I'll give it a try and get down to some boring specifics.

PLAN 1:

I have been considering studying for my Honours in Oncology beginning in February next year. I have to decide this week as the applications for scholarships close at the end of October.

PLAN 2

Alternatively, I could just spend a year goofing off. I could work less; spend time with my family; ride my bicycle; travel; fix my house. Maybe I will go to Uni the year after that.

It's a no brainer really. You know it.

Erratic Reading

Last night I started reading Night Walking by Prof. Beaumont. It felt immediately familiar to me. I mention it now only to make note of the phrase Post Circadian Capitalism and the word Noctivagator. Fab.

I did not sleep much after 3am this morning. I'm not getting enough exercise, too sleepy it's a circular defeat. The rain was thundering down. I imagined the pool of water in the cellar growing to gargantuan proportions and engulfing my life. Then I had to pee.

After the grey light of dawn I put up a ladder and cleaned the leaves out of the gutter. Then ran a few errands with Harly and the Dog. We had walk at Gallows, our local beach. I found a green sea snake with barnacles growing on it's skin. It was dead, blood running from it's mouth. I put it on the bonnet of the car for a photo. Here it is in circular defeat:

I found a green sea snake with barnacles growing on it's skin

I wonder where it came from? I thought the waters here were too cool for sea snakes. I wondered if it had been swimming during the night whilst I lay awake in bed. An oceanic traveller, a noctivagator.

Bicycle Lights

Every 6 months or so I find myself at the bicycle shop buying another set of blinking LED bicycle lights. The last pair having inevitably fallen apart; fallen off or ceased to work. It always costs 10 bucks more than I expect. They always have new and irritatingly imperfect ways to fasten to my bike. I hate to think how much money I have spent on the infernal things. For a few short years I was happy with a Shimano hub dynamo and light I pinched off a mate (Thx Brisbane Matt). I have been drooling over the SON hub dynamos for too long now. My tight-fisted nature has prevented me from shelling out the astronomical price required.

I rode my lovely Oppy down to Macauleys Headland for a swim last week At least I have decent bicycle riding footwear :)

This post is just a note to myself in case I find myself in an unlikely scenario in which I decide to blow a bucket of cash on ridiculously expensive bicycle paraphernalia.



Hmmm... I can see this post growing over time.

Off the Rails

Sleep has been avoiding me lately. It waits until I have given up on it and then gets me. It normally does so just before I have to get up. I lay awake last night watching my brain churning through increasingly bizarre thoughts. At some stage I was thinking about quantum multiverses and boltzmann brains. The apparent lack of activity in our universe could apparently be caused by the all aliens getting busy in the multiverse. It is depressing in the same way as children who lock their attention to flickering glass screens instead of climbing a tree or running across a field.

Fatigue does strange things to the mind.credit

I was trying to imagine how we would interact with the multiverse. Phillip Pullman came up with the idea of a very sharp knife which a skilled user could use to cut between the worlds. He talked about using the I Ching to divine openings that had been already made. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter wrote about 'Stepping' between the worlds. I thought of a few others and realised it was almost a sci-fi sub-genre. Then I thought about what little I knew of the work done on quantum entanglement and wave or field theory. Very little, as it turned out. I imagined the dull reality of entering the multiverse would be as mundane as logging into a quantum computer with your VR headset or somesuch bollocks. My brain continued mashing through its synapses like a blind stoat until I fell asleep at dawn.

Drifter

Running my hand along the kitchen bench my fingers gripped momentarily on congealed sticky oil. I wiped my fingers on a towel and poured a glass of Roku Gin. Earlier today I booked a cheap hotel room in Colaba, Mumbai. Gregory Robert's book came to mind and I thought of visiting Leopolds Bar. Which I associate with James Joyce's Leopold Bloom eating burnt toast.

Leopold Bloom taken from a page of Joyce's notes

From Leopold and Shantaram my neurons lit up on memories of attempting to read Nietzsche and the communities of Zorastrians in Mumbai. Which of course led to memories of playing an 8-bit Zardoz game in 1985-ish in Plymouth. I remember it was a geometric wire frame type thing and you got to fly around in a giant head. Like the film it was based on. it was 60s triptastic. A brief search only turns up what appears to be defunct attempt to build an 8-bit Zardoz game from scratch. It looks nothing like the one I remember. Years later I watched Sean Connery with Charlotte Rampling in the so-terrible-it's-good movie Zardoz. Sort of like Barbarella but Sean Connery in red underpants and very hairy.

Zardoz!

Before I stop writing to wipe down the kitchen bench I would note that at this time Mr Robert has posted that he has stepped out of public life to concentrate on his creative life. Good on you Gregory. I hope you are not reading this and you are hard at it on the rockface of life.

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