Monday, December 31, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I'm not sure what the point of this post is, but I just find these images to be worth pointing out. I just think it is a sad state of affairs when The Daily Show is more informative than CNN, Fox News and MSNBC combined.

Monday, December 17, 2012


"He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature." --Socrates

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market place of any single thing.” ― Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere's Fan

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Story of (Our) Stuff

It's June 2012, my wife and I are living in San Francisco looking for work and a more permanent place to live.  We look at housing options and areas and are getting our bearings.  The big factor is square footage and how much do we really need. After years of accumulating, collecting, moving and storing "stuff" Colleen and I decided that enough was enough.  As we started to add up the cost of storage over many years and really took a look at what we had in storage, we were a little shocked.

But lets back up a bit.  Lets start in 2005 when we were living in Pasadena in a house with our own semi-attached 1000sq ft warehouse.  Like a goldfish, we were indeterminate growers filling up the space with stuff.  So when the property was sold we decided to move to downtown L.A.  At the time my office was in mid-Wilshire and our L.A. datacenter was downtown, and since we don't have kids or dogs, a loft was really attractive to us.  Our intention was to live in a regular apartment/loft until we found something cool and more industrial.  So we found our new place in the spring of 2005 with a move in date sometime in the summer.

We set about selling, donating and throwing away a lot of stuff.  But not enough.  We were moving from a space of approximately 2300 sq. feet to a 'loft' of around 1000sq feet.  So into storage stuff went.  I miscalculated the amount of stuff that would fit in our new place so we ended up having to get two storage units, which we later consolidated to one large unit.  And it was packed.  At that time my plan was to find a huge industrial unfinished space, and we would just move the stuff over to that space.  But as it happens, I was moving up the corporate ladder and I also changed employers so I had to backburner the search for an artist-type loft/warehouse. 

Fast forward to 2009 and we are headed to El Paso, TX to help out with my mother-in-law for a short amount of time(or so we thought.)  We decided to take all our stuff with us and I had every intention of going through all the stuff and paring it down.  At this point, we had paid $200+/month for storage($10,000+), the moves($1000+ in LA and $5000+ to get it to TX so we are looking realistically at over $16,000 at this point.)

Well, sometimes life throws you a curveball and you have to deal with it.  Without going into any detail, I will say that mental health issues can impact a lot of people's lives.

In late 2009, I decide that due to the ongoing family issues in El Paso,  I will start my own business.  So instead of paring down, in anticipation of eventually moving my small business into it's own space, I accumulated more stuff.  And then in 2011, we move to a 6,000sq foot warehouse that used to be a brewery.  Talk about room to grow!

After some soul searching and number crunching, I force myself to face the fact that El Paso is not our home.  It is also not a good place to start an Internet consultancy business, and in hindsight I really didn't have the passion required for success.  Not the Internet, but the consultancy component.   So in August 2011, the decision is made to try and salvage my career and move back to CA.

So we go about selling, donating and throwing stuff away.  But not enough.  So we move most of our stuff to storage in El Paso and take about 1/2 as much more with us to CA, with the intention of having our stuff shipped to CA once we land in our final destination.

 This is just a part of what we decided to keep!

After 10 months of living in Bakersfield, CA(Colleen found a job there while we were staying with a friend) we decided to move to San Francisco.  This was May 2012.

So there we were, sitting in our 450sq foot apartment in SF, with only as much stuff as we could carry, and most of our stuff sitting in storage in El Paso and Bakersfield.  And it felt good.  We had an epiphany, and decided that we didn't need all that stuff!  Not to mention the only way we were going to find enough square footage to bring all our stuff up to the Bay Area would mean sharing a warehouse in Oakland or compete with dotcoms with deep pockets for space in the city.  That didn't appeal to us.  And we were enjoying the very modest apartment and the absolute freedom not having stuff lent us.  We even sold our gas guzzler, so we walk everywhere or use our Clipper cards to get around town.

And looking at the monetary cost of maintaining this stuff, at this point we have spent an additional $5000 on storage and moving stuff around in the last twelve months.  So in addition to the pennies on the dollar pricing(El Paso cost of living is very low, so people expect to pay less here) add on the $21,000+ to the cost of the stuff.  By my estimation(and this is probably low) we had over $50,000 worth of stuff here.  If we clear $4,000 I will be amazed.   But lets just assume that we could get 3 times as much for it if we brought it back to CA.  So of the potential $12,000 in sales, subtract at a bare minimum $2,000 for shipping, the lowest if I rent a U-haul and drive it back myself.  The difference is $6,000, assuming we could fetch higher prices.  And, we are also going to need a place to stage and sell from, because you can't sell that kind of inventory out of a tiny apartment.

And that is when I stopped considering bringing the stuff back to CA.

So, in July 2012 we headed back to El Paso to comb through the stuff in storage to pull out any sentimental stuff and sell, donate and recycle the rest.  We are wrapping up that process now.  

I did not realize how hard it would be to go through 20 years of stuff and let go of it.  Once it is gone, I don't miss any of it.  But when you are going through stuff that you have vivid memories of accumulating, it takes you back to that time in your life, and that is emotional.

But really, I just want it all gone.  It would have been easier to just have a charity come and pick it all up, but because we didn't pack it so we could just easily separate out the sentimental stuff, we had to go through every single bin and box.  Along with the family issues that are ever present here in TX, this whole process has taken much longer than anticipated.

And that is the story of our stuff.

Some further reading on the philosophy: This is a bit dated, but the foundation is solid. UPDATE: I found the hour long presentation, created by bullfrogfilms in 1997 on YouTube:

How to turn the philosophy into action:

Thursday, December 6, 2012


"Weniger aber besser" --Dieter Rams 

English translation, "Less, but better"