Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Expensive to be Poor

I recently paid off my car J The loan was originally for $10,000 with payments of $181 per month. The interest rate was only 3.49% but would have cost $912.36 if I would have taken the full five years of the loan. When I was attending classes it was impossible to pay for school and make extra payments, but since I graduated in May I have been able to pay four and five times the minimum with three years left on the loan. The interest I actually paid was only $446.53 which saved me $465.83. I do not like to pay fees and interest because I feel like the money goes into a black hole of nothingness. I like to play with an interest calculator and found that if I would have had $10,000 with 3.49% interest for five years, then I would earn $1,903.49.

When I was a student I barely had any money in the bank and my bank charges a $5 per month fee for not having over $500 in a checking account. I paid that fee for several years probably losing at least $150 just for being poor. I see borrowing money and having to pay interest as some other form of punishing the poor. 

The more money someone has, the less fees and interest one has to pay. I work with several people who do not have bank accounts and have to pay an exorbitant fee of $8 every two weeks to cash their paycheck at the nearest bank. Over the course of a year, the person will lose over $200 to the black hole of nothingness.

Another problem with not having money is knowing a lot of people who have even less money. Rich people rarely meet poor people unless it is a customer-server relationship. To a rich person, the poor are an abstract concept who are only useful for charitable tax deductions. Nearly everyone in the middle and upper strata of society can pay their utility bills, have cars and the basic luxuries of a western lifestyle. What’s more important is everyone they know has a similar lifestyle and are somewhat unaware people live differently than they do. The disconnect from people who do not have modern conveniences can save someone a lot of money. I know several people without cars and are in need of a rides on a regular basis which over time can cost a significant amount of money for someone with a car.  

I read a paper which linked poverty with an increased rate of smoking. I know a number of people who would rather not have heat in the winter than give up cigarettes. The cost of a name-brand pack of cigarettes is around $5 and assuming the person smokes a pack a day would equal $1,825 per year that’s enough money to buy heat for a house or a really cheap car.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Price of a Paycheck

What's the price of a paycheck?
There is a lot of debate whether or not to raise the minimum wage. I’m not going to argue either way about the issue but I have noticed a lot of people take home less than half of their projected wage. Having a job can cost a lot of money and time. For example, I know a woman who commutes to a job 25miles from her house for $10/hr. Well… it is a little more complicated than that because she and her roommate only have one car. Her roommate drives her to and from work which means her car is being used for at a minimum of 100miles each workday. On the surface, her income is better than the average minimum wage earner and she does work 40hrs a week.

Case Study

Job Description: Cleaning specialist

Wage: $10/hr without benefits

Commute: 100miles/day at five days per week over a two lane windy mountain road for a total of 80min round-trip (I’m only including the time she is in the car but her roommate’s commute would be close to 160min)

Work Food: $3/day

Work Clothes: Uniform and shoes had to be purchased by her

Let’s now figure out how much she actually takes home.

Her wage is $10/hr which would be great if she didn’t have to pay taxes. I pay approximately 23% of my income into Medicare, Social Security, federal and NC income taxes. After all of those government inflicted deductions, her pay drops to only $7.70/hr.

Taxes: 23%

Pay: $10 = $7.70/hr

Well, she is still above minimum wage at this point. Her second greatest expense involves her commute. Now let’s assume her car can drive for 25miles per gallon of gas. It is probably a little less than that because the road is steep and windy but we will give her car the benefit of the doubt. A gallon of gas currently costs about $3.36/gallon with her car using 4 gallons a day which comes to $13.44. I pay about $20 for an oil change every 4,000miles. If she pays the same amount, then her oil cost per day is about $0.50/day. The road she drives is particularly harmful to brakes. If she buys brakes every 10,000miles for $50, then the wear-and-tear on the car’s brakes is also $0.50/day. I’m not including other expenses car insurance or car payments because she and her roommate would have a car regardless if she had that particular job.  

Commute Cost Per Day: $14.44

Pay: $1.805/hr deduction on $7.70/hr = $5.90/hr

By my calculations, her pay is now below minimum wage. What is her other major work related expense? She does not bring her lunch but the employee food is reasonably priced at only $3/day.

Food Cost Per Day: $3

Pay: $0.375/hr deduction on $5.90/hr = $5.52/hr

I do not know many people who wear the same clothes at home that they wear at work. The job she has requires a uniform. I’m assuming the least amount of wear on the clothes as possible to be $0.50/day. There are other expenses like make-up and hairspray which I included in this amount.

Uniform Use: $0.50

Pay: $0.0625/hr deduction on $5.52/hr = $5.45/hr

I will not go so far as including the amount of water and electricity used exclusively for the cost of her job but I will include the time she uses. For me to prepare for work is about 40min. which includes the 2.9mile one-way commute. If it takes her 20min to prepare for work and then drive 40min to work and another 40min to her house, she adds an additional 100min each workday. She is really not working only 8hr/day but really 9.667/day

Time: 8hr/day = $43.60/day   

Pay: $43.60/day for 9.667/day = $4.51/hr

Actual Pay Per Day = $36.08

What is the price of her paycheck? It is the illusion her life is only worth $4.51/hr.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Garden of Eden Contrast

Canning Apples

I have been listening to “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville for the past few days. It is such a humorous book with a lot of deep meaning. It is also surprisingly filled with several homoerotic scenes like the following relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg.

“We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bedclothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more”.

I was in the process of canning apples while listening to this scene and what caught me was the part about contrast and how nothing exists in itself. I was reminded of duality and how the symbolism in the Garden of Eden and how it is about taking us out of our animal nature and into the world of duality. Everything exists in a contrast it is true that nothing exists in itself. There is something and nothing, in and out, black and white, good and evil. By duality and contrast is how we think as humans.

I like the Garden of Eden myth. It is a story which takes place in the heavens as a celestial myth involving the serpent, Hydra, and Virgo… “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” From a symbolic perspective, the casting out of the garden was the best thing to have ever happened to humanity because it meant we were no longer animals without a sense of good and evil. When Eve ate the fruit it opened the eyes of humanity to right and wrong. I never understand why people think the Garden of Eden was a happy place. People who believe that should read the text a little more carefully because there isn’t any mention of emotion or wisdom until after the “forbidden fruit” is eaten. There was no joy because there was no sadness. There wasn’t awareness of the preciousness of life because death didn’t exist. It is an allegory about what brought us into the world of consciousness and into the experience of life, joy and truth.

New Puppy

Puppy Cocoa
Here is a picture of my puppy, Cocoa. She is almost 12 weeks old (this picture was taken when she was 8 weeks old) and can already play fetch and sit. Cocoa looks like a spaniel but she isn't. My brother's yellow lab had a litter of 10 puppies but all of them looked completely different.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Starting an Old Project Anew

Have you ever laid a project down for only a short time and then the short time became three years? Several years ago, I started a very intense religious project which entailed watching at least five Christian sermons a week, attending humanist meetings, interviewing a witch, learning some Greek and reading the Bible on a daily basis. Did I gain anything from my obsession with religion? Not on a spiritual level... but I can beat out most Christians in Bible trivia games :)

A friend of mine has encouraged me to continue my Bible reading project and publish my work into an e-book or make it available for the general public in some other way. I did put a tremendous amount of work into writing a summaries of my daily Bible readings and it was somewhat enjoyable, but I lost interest after about 400 articles and other more pressing issues got in the way.    

The following is an excerpt taken from my previous blog: 

Day 36

2 Kings 14 – I Chronicles
I know it has been a while since my last reading of the Bible in chronological order with a summary. The last reading ended with the death of Elisha. I do read the Bible almost daily. When I can’t read it, I have portions of it memorized to meditate over. One of the most profound books that I have read recently is “The Way to God” by Gandhi. It is a book about the beliefs he held. I borrowed it from the University library, and a girl had underlined a few portions in purple ink with “Jesus” written in bubble letters in the margins. At one point she wrote “Jesus or Paul?” Gandhi was greatly influenced by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and that is evident in his beliefs and actions. If the girl who had marked in the book had been paying attention, she would have noticed that on nearly every page Jesus was quoted. I know from reading about Leo Tolstoy that Gandhi and he had written several letters to one another. Tolstoy was also profoundly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount and the synoptic gospels. Neither one of the men are considered Christians or even considered themselves Christians. In the forward of “The Way to God” Gandhi’s grandson had the following statement:

When Grandfather confessed to his Christian friends how much he was impressed by the Sermon on the Mount he was asked, “Why don’t you become a Christian?” “When you convince me that all Christians live according to the Sermon on the Mount, I will be the first to change my religion,” he responded.

Later in the Introduction of the book quotes Gandhi as saying:

“One day a British cleric, well known for his imperialistic persuasion, found himself face to face with Mahatma Gandhi. Wishing to paper over their differences, he is said to have remarked, “Well, we’re both men of God, Mr. Gandhi aren’t we?” “You are a politician disguised as a man of God,” the Mahatma replied. “I am a man of God disguised as a politician.”

I have included a picture of the Bible that I read from. When my mother cleaned out my grandparent’s house she found this Bible. My grandparents had a lot of things, so she would run across a Bible occasionally. She put most of them in her antique booth writing the word “free” on it. Every time she has done that the Bible has been picked up within a week. She found this one in a box of stuff and asked if I wanted it. It was just the Bible that I wanted for this project. I have several New Testaments from the Gideon’s and some other versions, but I wanted the red letter edition KJV. I was looking at the first page and this Bible used to belong to someone else, a woman named Tammy, who was presented the Bible on June 5, 2002. I don’t know of anyone by that name and have no idea how it came into my grandparents' possession. Tammy didn’t mark in any section of the Bible or dog-ear the pages. When I first obtained the Bible in Christmas of 2009, the only thing to indicate that it wasn’t a brand new Bible was the white-out name and a small tear on the front cover. Since I have had it, the margins have little sun symbols indicating portions of solar myths, spaghetti stains are in it, some corners have been folded, the ribbon is a little frayed at the bottom, the gold lettering on the front is chipping and one of the blank pages now lists the Jewish calendar. The only thing missing is my name in the front.

The reading tonight is interesting in that it presents a kind of battle between the earth religions that were worshipped at the time and the God that is presented in the Old Testament. They believed in many gods but could only worship one. It is interesting to read how these “competitions” between gods were viewed. There is also a cryptic passage involving 10 degrees, and I think that has to do with the sun. Something called “The Book of the Law” is found which means it was lost. King Josiah seems to have been a fervent follower of the book and destroyed all idols.

Tammy's name was whited-out by someone else. I should write my own name there, just in case I leave it somewhere. I don't want all of my notes in the margins to be lost.

Amaziah, king of Judah – Amaziah was the son of Joash. He was 25 and reigned for 29 years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan. He did right in the sign of the Lord but left the “high places” for the people to worship at. As soon as he was king, he killed the servants who had killed his father. This is an odd passage, “And Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.” Jehoash took Amaziah at Beth-shemesh and broke down 400 cubits of the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate. Jehoash stole the gold and silver that were in the temple and took hostages and returned to Samaria. Here again, we are missing much of the story because the rest of it are found in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. The Bible itself writes that it is incomplete.
Jeroboam II, King of Israel – Jeroboam was the son of Joash and reigned 41 years over Israel. He did that which was evil in sight of the Lord. I’m not exactly sure what he did that was evil…
Azariah, King of Judah – Azariah became a king at 16 years old and reigned for 52 years. He did what was right in sight of the Lord. He did as his father, Amaziah, had done and also did not remove the high places of worship. God gave him leprosy.
Zechariah, King of Israel – He was the son of Jeroboam and did evil. Shallum, the son of Jabesh killed him before the people and reigned in his place. “This was the word of the Lord which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.”
Shallum, King of Israel – He reigned for a month until, Menahem, the son of Gadi came from Tirzah and killed him. Menahem then killed people from Tirzah because “they had not opened up to him.” He also killed   “all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.”
Menahem, King of Israel – He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord following in the sins of Jeroboam.
Pekahiah, King of Israel – He was the son of Menahem. Pekahiah was killed by Pekah.
Pekah, King of Israel – Pekah was the son of Remaliah. Hoshea killed him and reigned in his place.
Jotham, King of Judah – He reigned 16 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha who was the daughter of Zadok (I like that name). He did that which was right but he did not remove the high places.
Ahaz, King of Judah – He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. This is an odd passage, “But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.” He also sacrificed and burnt offering in high places and on the hills and under every green tree. King Ahaz traveled to Damascus to meet with the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser. Ahaz saw an altar there that he liked and had one built by, Urijah, a priest.
Samaria Captured by Assyria – Hoshea reigned in Samaria over Israel for 9 years. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria fought against Israel. Hoshea became his friend and gave him presents. The king of Assyria found a conspiracy in Hoshea and that he sent messengers to So, king of Egypt. Shalmanser did not receive a present from Hoshea when So did as Hoshea had normally given him a present. Shalmanser put Hoshea in prison and besieged Samaria for 3 years taking Israel away into Assyria.
The Sins of Israel and Judah – It is said that they walked in the statues of the heathen and they feared other gods. They set up images in groves and on every high hill and under every green tree. They burnt incense in high places, made molten images and 2 calves. It is said that they worshipped all the host of heaven and served Baal. They made their sons and daughters pass through the fire and used divination and enchantments and also sold themselves to do evil.
Israel Resettled with Assyrians – Lions were sent by God to kill some in Assyria. It lists the gods of the various nations and how some were worshipped.
Hezekiah, King of Judah – Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and did right in the sight of the Lord. He removed the high places and broke the images and cut down the grove and broke the brazen serpent that Moses had made. It was called Nehushtan. Hezekiah did give the king of Assyria all the silver from the temple and the treasures of the king’s house. He also cut the gold from the doors of the temple and from the pillars and gave that to the king of Assyria.
The Assyrian Threats – The king of Assyria threatened war with Hezekiah. There is a weird threat in this passage… “But Rab-shaketh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to they master, and to thee, to speak these words? Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”
Hezekiah Sends to Isaiah – Hezekiah goes to pray in the temple. The servants go and ask Isaiah about the situation with the Assyrian king and he tells them to not be afraid.
Hezekiah’s Prayer – Hezekiah received a letter from the messengers and took it to the altar. He prayed to the God “which dwellest between the cherubims.” He asks for God to save his land and that he is afraid of Assyria because they have conquered so many other gods. He says, “Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God even thou only.”
The Divine Deliverance – Isaiah said that God had heard the prayer. There are many signs that will be given and the whole passage is written in symbolism. An angel of the Lord killed 125,000 of the Assyrians. King Sennacherib of Assyria was killed by his sons while worshipping the deity Nisroch.
The Sickness of Hezekiah – Hezekiah was told that by God that he was going to die and for him to set his house in order. Hezekiah was very depressed and cried. Isaiah then heard from God to tell Hezekiah that he would be healed and live for another 15 years. Isaiah boiled a bunch of figs and gave it to Hezekiah and he recovered. Very interesting passage that probably has to do with the sun “And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.”
Hezekiah’s Foolishness – Berodach-baladan, king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah because he had heard that he was sick. Hezekiah showed them all the wealth that he had. Isaiah asked him what he had shown them and he said that he had showed them everything. Isaiah then said that everything would be carried away to Babylon and that there would be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon.
Manasseh, King of Judah – He was the son of Hezekiah and reigned at the age of 12 for 55 years. He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. He built altars in high places and for Baal. For Manasseh’s evil ways God says “I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.”
Amon, King of Judah – Amon was the son of Manasseh and also did evil in the sight of the Lord.
The Book of the Law Found – Josiah was 8 years old when he began to reign. He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. He sent, Shaphan, a scribe to go to the house of the Lord and bring the high priest, Hilkiah, silver to pay the repairers of the temple. Hilkiah said that he had found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. He gave the book to Shaphan and he read it. Shaphan then brought the book (scroll) to the king and he read it to the king. When the king heard the words he rent his clothes and commanded many men to “Go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.” They then speak to a prophetess who tells them that God will bring evil upon that place because they have forsaken God. She also says that since Josiah was faithful he would not see the evil that was to come.
The Renewal of the Covenant – The king gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem and brought them to the house of the Lord so they could hear the words of the book of the covenant. Josiah burned all the things in the temple that were made for Baal. He put down the priests that had“burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the hosts of heaven.” It also says “And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove.” He broke the Topheth which held the place where parents would make their children pass through the fire of Molech.  Josiah died in battle at Megiddo.
Jehoahaz, King of Judah – He was the son of Josiah and did evil in the sight of the Lord. He reighend 3 months. He was kidnapped by Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt. Eliakim, the other son of Josia was made king in his place. Eliakim’s name was changed to Johoiakim.
Jehoiakim, King of Judah – He did that which was evil in the sight of the lord. Nebuchadnezzar was king in Babylon at the time.
Jehoiachin, King of Judah – He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar kidnapped the royalty in Jerusalem. He brought thousands of craftsmen to Babylon and all the skilled workers and soldiers.
Jerusalem Destroyed – The city was besieged while King Zedekiah reigned. The house of the Lord was burned. The poor of the land were left to be vinedressers and husbandmen. Anything of value was stolen by the Babylonians.

Jehoiachin in Captivity – When Jehoiachin had been captive for 37 years the new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, took him out of prison. He gave him a throne with him in Babylon and gave him new clothes, a salary and fed him well for the rest of his life.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Underemployed Overtime

A raised bed, fireplace, rocking chair and desk were all considered luxuries at one time.

Sometimes I feel overworked from my job as a server at a popular non-chain restaurant, but then I immediately feel a little guilty because I meet so many people who are unemployed or underemployed and would love to have a well-paying job which would allow them to work overtime. My beekeeping mentor (who is in his mid-fifties) works in a factory and has the same problem with the least amount of time he has worked in the past three months has been a 60hr week. Why are some people working overtime when there are so many people out of work and those wanting to work more hours? I would be financially ok with working only 30hrs a week at my current rate of pay. My job could easily support two of me, and yet my employer chooses to employee one me and is legally obligated to pay overtime. It would make more financial sense for my employer to hire a second person and not pay overtime.

What are the problems with hiring a new server?

I have come up with a few answers:

1.       Despite popular belief, not everyone can wait tables and be successful at it. I make excellent money at it because I’m fairly personable and have a good memory.
2.       Not everyone can be on call to go to work whenever someone quits or doesn’t show up. Usually people working in restaurants do not give a two-week notice or in many cases someone will get angry and quit mid-shift.
3.       Failing the background check or having a bad reputation will result in someone not being hired. I live in an area where everyone knows everyone else. Once someone is labeled as a thief in one restaurant it is nearly impossible to get a job at any of the nearby restaurants.

According to Wikipedia, I fall into the category of underemployed. One of the stipulations for being an underemployed individual is to be overqualified or overeducated for a particular job. I have a degree in biology and could work as a high school teacher but currently I make more money as a server than I would as an entry-level teacher. Does taking a job in which I’m educationally overqualified for but making a higher income still qualify me as underemployed? I don’t feel underemployed…

A person’s attitude toward work is relative to their particular situation. A 30hr workweek would work well for me because I spend so little money and I also place a high value on my personal time. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who works for a large retail corporation and is only allowed to work 28hrs per week. She is paid minimum wage and often has to fight for what she considers meager hours. She doesn’t even like her job and complains about it quite often. I pay attention to what people say to me and came to discover she and her husband frequent a high-class restaurant on a weekly basis. I know the restaurant fairly well and have eaten there a few times so I’m aware of the prices. She was telling me how great the meals are and I agreed because the food is excellent. Judging by the food she was bragging about, I figured she spent about $70 per week just eating and drinking at that one restaurant. The restaurant is an hour away which would cost an additional $10 just in gas. Minimum wage is only $7.25/hr and a large chunk of that is taken away for taxes which may mean she is only making approximately $6.00/hr in take-home pay. At that low rate of pay, a nice weekly dinner of approximately $80 will really cost her 13.333hrs of her working time. In her situation she is not making nearly enough money because she spends too much time working for the luxury of hiring someone to prepare her food. I can fully understand why she complains about not working enough hours because she isn’t making enough money to meet her standard of living.

That being said, it would be very difficult for me to only earn minimum wage. I would have to work more hours to make up the gap in what I consider to financially meet my “needs.” I put needs in quotations because all we really need as humans is food, shelter and clothing (sometimes optional). I can almost guarantee that if I started wandering around in public naked, someone would quickly find some clothes for me to wear and then I would be taken to a shelter where I would be given food. My basic needs would quickly be met by others within a few minutes. Mainly what we say are needs should really be classified as modern luxuries and wants.    

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Muir's Spectacles

I love John Muir’s book, “Nature Writings” because it is nice to see the world through his eyes. I sometimes forget how beautiful the world is and how it is such a miracle to simply exist. Muir always tells the seemingly mundane natural occurrences with such wonder and curiosity. It is impossible to not follow him in his fascination with nature. I’m so grateful that he wrote down his views of the world. His adult faith was a type of Pantheism in which he saw the mind of God in the natural order of the world. I find it amazing that he developed such a rich view of the natural world, even when his father seemed to be blinded by Christian fanaticism.

Dick’s “Christian Philosopher,” which I borrowed from a neighbor, I thought I might venture to read in the open, trusting that the word “Christian” would be proof against its cautious condemnation. But father balked at the word “Philosopher,” and quoted from the Bible verse which spoke of “philosophy falsely so-called.” I then ventured to speak in defense of the book, arguing that we could not do without at least a little of the most useful kinds of philosophy.

“Yes, we can,” he said with enthusiasm, “the Bible is the only book human beings can possibly require throughout all the journey from earth to heaven.”

“But how,” I contended, “can we find the way to heaven without the Bible, and how after we grow old can we read the Bible without a little helpful science? Just think, father, you cannot read your Bible without spectacles, and millions of others are in the same fix; and spectacles cannot be made without some knowledge of the science of optics.”

“Oh!” he replied, perceiving the drift of the argument, “there will always be plenty of worldly people to make spectacles.”

To this I stubbornly replied with a quotation from the Bible with reference to the time coming when “all shall know the Lord from the least even to the greatest,” and then who will make the spectacles? But he still objected to my reading that book, called me a contumacious quibbler too fond of disputation, and ordered me to return it to the accommodating owner.

August Food List

August Food Cost

January Total: $39.48
February Total: $43.39
March Total: $35.51
April: $33.91
May: $39.11
June: $28.59
July: $22.39
August $12.56
Year Total: $360.27
Total Remaining: $4.73

I have become more lax on which foods I count in my total cost. My neighbor recently opened an organic coffee shop so I did not count the two days I ate at his shop. I also didn't count family meals because it is something fairly rare. I worked nearly every day this month and working at a restaurant cuts food costs dramatically with many days of only eating food at work. I feel fortunate to work at a place with such high quality food that has fresh vegetables.

So far, I'm not having any negative health changes due to eating meat almost every day. I still feel fairly healthy, but next month I need to add more vegetables.

food grown by me
locally sourced
my bees or from bees I know

August Food List

1st - 1-1/2c potatoes, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/8c bell peppers, scallion, 3 eggscr, butter, pancakes (bisquik, egg, milk), syrup, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: canolli, spaghetti bolagnese, lemonade) (DG: $1.35 milk)
2nd - strawberry freezer jam, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family: turkey, pound cake, potatoes) (work: meatloaf, bread, butter, zucchini)
3rd - strawberry freezer jam, 1c potatoes, butter (family: pound cake) (work: stromboli w/ sausage&pepperoni, bread, butter, chicken, cucumber, tomato, lemonade)
4th - 1/4c tomatoes, bell pepper, 3 eggomlt, cheddar, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (craft show: 2 turkey sandwiches $2.00)(outback w/ aunt&uncle: bloomin' onion, steak, fries, broccoli, carrots; starbucks: mocha frappiccino)
5th - 1c potatoes, scallion, 1-1/2c fried squash (oil, house autry, egg), butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee, 1/3 box choc cake mix, lemonade
6th - mac&chs, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (GO: $0.59 mac&chs, choc cake mix $1.00) (work: lemonade, pasta, marinara)
7th - waffles (bisquik, milk, egg) syrup, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, potatoes, coffee, bday cake, pizza, lemonade)
8th - 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter (work: hamburger patty, onions, coffee, honey, lemonade, sprite, bread, butter, soup)
9th - 1/3 choc cake box, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: spaghetti, lemonade, bread, butter)
10th - 1/4c tomato, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter (work: pizza, coffee, honey, chicken herbs, salad, brea, butter, root beer)
12th - (work: chicken, potatoes, pizza, coffee, honey, root beer, canolli)
13th - (work sort of competition: chicken parm sandwich, canolli, chips) (work: baked penne, lemonade)
14th - (family: beef roast, potatoes, corn) (work: chicken, peppers, lemonade, bread, butter)
15th - 2 ears corn, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee  (snickers, baby ruth $2.00) (work: penne, bolanase, bread, butter, lemonade)
16th - 2 ears corn, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee, 1/3 choc cake mix (oil, egg) (work: chicken, potatoes, lemonade, bday cake)
17th - 2 ears corn, 2 cucumbers, 1c raspberries, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: hamburger patty, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, lemnade, red velvet cake)
18th - 1/8c bell pepper, scallion, 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee, mac&chs, reeces (GO: mac&chs $0.59, reeces $1.00)
19th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (walmart: turkey sandwich: $3.24) (work: penne, cheese sauce, lemonade, canolli)
20th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pizza, root beer, coffee, sugar, canolli, chicken-ham wrap, potatoes)
21st - (work: pizza, chicken wing, spaghetti, bread, butter, salad)
22nd - (work: soup, bread, butter, talapia, eggplant parmigana, penne, marinara, lemonade, coffee, sugar, cappucinno)
23rd - 1/4c tomatoes, bell pepper, 2 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1/3 choc cake mix (oil, egg) (Justin's: cappuccino, coffee, agave, cherry danish) (work: chicken herbs, zucchini, tomto, pizza, lemonade)
24th - (work: soup, pizza, bread, butter, lemonade, baked penne)
25th - chinese w/ family
26th - 1/4c tomatoes, 2 eggscr, 1c potatoes, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken picatta, salad)
27th - cherokee restaurant: turkey wrap and got very sick
28th - (work: spaghetti, chicken , broccoli, peppers, lemonade)
29th - (work: chicken, salad, lemonade)
30th - (gas staton: juice $0.79) (justin's: mocha, cherry pastry) (work: potatoes, chicken, lemonade)
31st- (family: tea, sugar, rice krispies, bisquick waffles, syrup) (work: potatoes, chicken, pizza, coke)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Money Grows on Trees

Money Apple Tree

Have you ever bought an apple?

Money does grow on trees… it also grows on vines, underground, in a nesting box and is commonly disguised as weeds along the side of the road. Growing your own food is a little like printing your own money. Keeping a garden and fruit trees is a better investment than having a lot of money because food does not lose value due to inflation. An apple tree planted today will produce enough apples for you to eat for the rest of your life. The tree only grows in value over time because food prices will always rise. The same concept for planting and harvesting can also be applied for accumulating monetary wealth.

Ecclesiastes 3
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Save for the future
Wealth and vegetables can only be harvested during specific times. Spring is the time for sowing and late-summer to early fall is a time of reaping. During the winter very few plants grow, so it is important to have saved enough for times when there are limited opportunities to harvest. Any crop harvested from the garden can be frozen, dried or canned for times when it is otherwise unavailable. It saves money to not have to purchase food outside of season.

Diversify your investment
If you plant a field of only tomatoes, you should expect to reap only tomatoes. Not every year will be optimal conditions for every plant. A wet summer mixed with blight will kill all of the tomatoes. I meet a lot of young people who invest all of their future earnings in student loans and if their life doesn’t go as planned, they are left without much fruit from their labors. With growing your own food, it is better to grow a large variety of vegetables, fruit trees and to have a few hens that will produce eggs even when the weather is bad. 

Plant trees whose shade you’ll never sit under
Soil and water are limited resources. Without quality topsoil and clean water, a plant will not grow. Soil has to be taken care of and nutrients must be replenished periodically. Spreading healthy compost and manure over a garden plot every year will give plants the best chance of growing. Invest in the future generation by keeping chemicals out of the water.  

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.  ~Cree Indian Proverb

Death of a Hen

Feathers from dead hen.

(Some phrases are adapted from the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller)

I don't say she was a great hen. The black Australorp never made a lot of eggs. Her name was never in the paper. She was not the finest hen that ever lived. But she was a chicken, and a terrible thing happened to her. So attention must be paid. She should not have been allowed to be dragged away like a rag doll. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a chicken.

I only wanted a little place in the country to raise some vegetables and a couple of chickens. Now only six hens remain out of the eight I originally had. Nobody’s worth nothin’ dead and that includes hens. The death occurred between the hours of 2:30-5:30pm so it was still light outside. I think it may have been a coyote because a trail of feathers led to the woods. I do know some poor animal died a violent death in the front yard at around 3am this morning because I heard the screams. I should not have let the chickens outside today, but they are always so happy to be let out of their coop. I will have to be more careful with them from now on.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Retire Early

The Field of Dreams
I meet so many people who absolutely hate their job. I really don't understand why anyone would stay at a job they hate because there are so many better things to do. I'm also  a little tired of the view that the only way to make money is to be employed by a business. If you don't like your job, get a new job or better yet start your own business. There is another aspect to this, though, many people feel like they have to keep their current spending rate in order to be "happy" so they will continue to spend years of their life working at a job they hate in order to get more money just to spend it in an attempt to find happiness. Does that make sense? No, I can tell you already that having such a mindset will never make anyone happy.

Let's assume you have a job that you hate. You feel physically ill when you think about it and dread Monday mornings because you "have to" go to work. What would you do if you could retire today? I do not mean retirement in a general sense of sitting around doing nothing, but a retirement where you will still be productive. Also imagine that you live in an amazing country where you can start a small business in almost any field you desire. In this country you can also grow large portion of your food with very little risk of starving people stealing your crops, and if you choose to purchase your food, the country has some of the lowest foods costs in the world. In this hypothetical country, there is a reliable highway system and better yet some of the lowest fuel prices anywhere. Many of the citizens have a "can-do" attitude. The free public library systems contain vast collections of books about do-it-yourself projects and not to mention free internet access. The only limit is time because time is one thing that once spent cannot be regained. Would you rather spend your limited time working at a job you hate in order to buy more things, or would you rather save your time and retire early to be able to do more? It is an important decision.

I found this interesting comment on a site called :

The Investment Banker and the Mexican Fisherman.

An investment banker stood at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The fisherman said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The banker then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The investor scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.

“The investor continued, “And instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would then sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution! You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The fisherman asked, “But how long will this all take?”

To which the banker replied, “Perhaps 15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions. Okay, then what?” wondered the fisherman.

To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”  

July Food List

July Food Totals

January Total: $39.48
February Total: $43.39
March Total: $35.51
April: $33.91
May: $39.11
June: $28.59
July: $22.39
Year Total: $347.71
Total Remaining: $17.29

This month my total expenditure for food was less than any other month. There are several reasons for the low amount. I worked more than usual this month which saves a lot of money on food because I can eat at work. Most of my calories consumed this month actually came from the restaurant. I also ate a lot of meals with family and several members of my extended family visited this summer, so I didn’t count that in my amount because normally I would not eat those foods. On the 8th I ate several restaurants in Asheville that specialize in serving local organic food. I went out to eat with a friend on the 30th which I count as an entertainment expense because I haven’t seen her in a long time.

I have made it through 212 days of the year averaging $1.64/day for food. I am right on track for my secondary goal of spending less than $600 this year for food. I hope next year I will be able to achieve my goal of less than $1/day for food. I still have much of my food remaining from past months. For example, I have over half of my rice remaining and gravy mixes.

Working in a restaurant is a great way to save money on food. I like where I work because the food is such high quality. I no longer make as much bread because I eat so much of it at work. I have even calculated the commute and it costs $0.78 in gas each day with gas prices at $3.56/gallon.

July Food List

As usual:
Food I grew
Locally sourced
Honey from my bees or bees I know

1st - strawberry freezer jam, 1/4c broccoli, 1c bush beans, 2 eggfrtst, ramen, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: shell pasta, cheese sauce, bread, butter, lemonade, sprite) (walmart: bisquik w/ coupon $2.64)
2nd - 1/4c strawberry freezer jam, 1-1/2c blackberries, 1/2c raspberries, blueberry muffins (blueberries, bisquik, egg, milk sugar), 1tsp honey, butter, 1 pot coffee (taco bell:$4.48 )(newport TN snacks: ~$3.25) (DG: pint milk $1.35)
3rd - strawberry freezer jam, 1c bush beans, 2 eggfrtst, 1/4 bread, 1/3c rice, blueberry muffins, brown gravy, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, potatoes, bread, butter, lemonade)
4th - (family: brownie, doritoes, cookies, blueberry pie, mtn dew) (work: pizza, chicken wings, spaghetti, lemonade)
5th - 1c bush beans, 1/3 box stuffing, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family leftovers: blueberry pie, doritoes) (work: penne, marinara, bread, butter, b-day cake, lemonade)
6th - strawberry freezer jam (last of last year's), 2 eggfrtst, 1/4 bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken thigh, herbs, potatoes, lemonade)
7th - 1/2c blueberries, 1/4c black raspberries, 1-1/2c squash & zucchini, 1/4c broccoli, 1c bush beans, 2 eggscr, 1/2 eggwash, 1/3c rice, butter, house autry, oil, soy sauce, blueberry pancakes (bisquik, mlk, egg), lemonade, syrup, 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee
8th - ramen, biscuits (bisquik, milk), butter, lemonade, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (Asheville: Roman's Deli - chicken salad sandwich local&organic and local ice cream) (subway: cookies $1.20)
9th - 1/2c raspberries, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/4c swiss chard, scallion, 1c bush beans, 3 eggomlt, 1/3 box stuffing, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken, herbs, red bell pepper, onions, zucchini, root beer)
10th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (DG: nutty buddy $0.75) (work: pork parmigiana, spaghetti, key lime pie, root beer lemonade)
 11th - waffles (bisquik, milk, egg), syrup, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 3 eggomlt, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken herbs, potatoes, spaghetti, bread, butter, lemonade, root beer)
12th - (made bread) 1-1/2c squash, 1-1/2c potatoes, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 1/3c swiss chard, 2 eggomlt, 1/4 bread, ramen, butter, oil, house autry, lemonade, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken herb, lettuce, tomato, cannoli, fanta)
13th - (work: pizza, spaghetti, bread, butter, potatoes, chicken wings, lemonade, coffee, sugar) (family: lemon cake)
14th - 3/4c raspberries, 1c bush beans (this year's), 1c squash sauté, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/4c swiss chard, scallion, 3 eggscr, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee
15th - blueberry syrup, waffle (bisquik, milk, egg), syrup,  eggfrtst, 1/4 bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pizza, lemonade)
16th - 1/2c raspberries, 1c bush beans, 1c potatoes, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/4c swiss chard, scallion, 2 eggomlt, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family: chips, cookies)
17th - ramen, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken picatta, spaghetti, lemonade)
18th - 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 1-1/2c fried zucchini (oil, egg, house autry), 1/4c swiss chard, 2 eggomlt, butter, sugar, 1 pot coffee (work: cappuccino, pizza, lemonade, coffee, sugar, bread, butter, shell pasta, Bolognese sauce)
19th - 1c applesauce (family: cupcakes)(work: cannoli, grilled chicken, lettuce, lemonade, root beer bread, butter)
20th - lemonade, sugar, coffee (family: cupcakes)(work: pizza, veal parmigana, pasta, peas, lemonade, root beer)
21st - 1c applesauce, 1-1/2c potatoes, 1-1/2c fried squash (house autry, oil, egg), 1/2c raw bush beans, 1/4c tomatoes, scallion, 2 eggscr, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee
22nd - (work: coffee, sugar, cannoli, pizza, chicken wings, potatoes, bread, butter, fanta, lemonade)
23rd - 1-1/2c fried squash (oil, house autry, 1/2 egg), 1/2c raw bush beans,  1c bush beans, 1c potatoes, scallion, 1-1/2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, brown gravy, mac&chs, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (starbucks: $2 Frappuccino w/ coupon) (GO: mac&chs $0.59)
24th - 1c applesauce, mac&chs, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken, lettuce, italian dressing, cucumbers, lemonade)
25th - 1c bush beans, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, butter, soy sauce (work: pizza, root beer)
26th - pancakes (bisquik, egg, milk), syrup, 1-1/2c fried squah (oil, house autry, egg) butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pizza, root beer, lemonade, hamburger patty, mushrooms, onions, potatoes)
27th - 1c bush beans, ramen (work: bread pizza, lemonade, chicken picatta, coffee, sugar)
28th - 1-1/2c potatoes, 1/4c swiss chard, 1/4c tomatoes, 1/8c bell pepper, scallion, 3 eggomlt, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee, payday, 2 strawberry pops, frosting (family: salmon patties, ketchup, corn, butter) (GO: choc cake mix $1.00, frosting $1.25, king payday $0.89, (6) strawberry pops $1.00, cheddar cheese $1.99)
29th - 1/4c tomatoes, 1/4c swiss chard, 1/8c bell peppers, scallion, 3 eggomlt, cheddar, butter, 1/3 choc cake box (oil, egg), frosting, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee  (work: baked penne, marinara, lemonade)
30th - day out with B
31st - 1/4c tomatoes, 1/8c bell pepper, scallion, 3 eggomlt, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee, strawberry pop (work: chicken wings, potatoes, spaghetti, lemonade)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Old versus New Beehives

Beehives from the early 1800s
The picture above is an example of how people kept bees before the discovery of "bee space" and removable frames by Lorenzo Langstroth in 1852. The hives were simply hollowed out logs with small openings in the bottom. It is illegal now in the US to keep bees in logs or skeps. The hives must have removable frames, which not only is a less invasive method but also a way for state inspectors to quickly check hives for possible disease. The picture below is of one of my hives. I keep this hive in the driveway :)
Modern beehive

Sunday, July 21, 2013

To Coupon or not to Coupon

I recently read an article about a man who identified himself as an “extreme couponer.” He spends several hours per week clipping coupons and finding sales. Oftentimes, he buys items that he will not use himself but gives away instead. According to the article, he makes enough money to buy the items directly, but couponing is a fun hobby for him. The comment section of that article was particularly interesting and many of the comments berated his frugal behavior. Many of the comments suggested that he would save more money by getting a part-time minimum wage job for the hours he spends saving money. I think many of the remarks were rooted in jealousy because someone on the planet is not working at a job they hate in order to buy more stuff they do not need. As long as someone is enjoying their short time here on Earth, instead of slaving away and being miserable, there will always be people who will try to tear them down. Now I’m going off on a tangent…

So, do I clip coupons? Yes. I started last year after noticing how many coupons were being thrown away at the breakfast restaurant I worked at. I noticed most of the coupons were for items I use and pay full price for, so I started collecting the coupons and used them to create a stockpile of things like razors, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and other cleaning products. My goal was to save up enough items to not have to buy any of those products for at least three months in 2013. My goal was not only successful, but I didn’t have to purchase any of those daily items for nearly six months. I ran out of paper towels at the end of June. I still have enough soap and razors to last for an additional three months. My goal for 2014 is to purchase enough everyday items for the entire year. I found out the less time I spend shopping at big box stores the fewer things I want. It’s an amazing feeling to not have to shop for everyday items on a regular basis.

I tallied how much money I saved from newspaper inserts in 2012 and it totaled $152.41. I did purchase a few newspapers, but even that amount was less than $20 which leaves $132.41 in savings. Naysayers would say that if I wouldn't have purchased those products in the first place, then I would have already saved that money. I guess I could completely stop shaving my legs and not use soap or shampoo, but then I would probably lose my job. I suppose I could also start using the bathroom outside and use grape leaves instead of toilet paper. There are always ways to stop spending so much money, but I do enjoy many modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing J      

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Follow Your Passion...

Just don’t quit your day job!

This concept of following your dreams is a relatively new idea when compared to the history of humankind. The vast majority of the people in the past did not have time to think about what they would rather be doing, but instead life was a daily struggle for survival. What did people do in the past? They plowed fields, tended animals, built their own house, kept the hearth fire going, baked bread and had a lot of children. An individual had to be averagely good at a lot of different jobs in order to survive. Nowadays, most people have the view that they have to be great at one particular job and just do that job for the rest of their life. Not only does society tell us we are only supposed to do one job, but also we should love our one and only job or what is commonly called a “passion.”

It has recently become a bit of an obsession of mine to read sad stories about people who decided to follow their passion only to wind up as indentured servants to student loan debt. I’m not sure why I like to read their stories. I do feel sorry for those people and would help if they were a family member. I graduated without student loan debt. It took me a long time to finish and I did have to cash out a $2,500 retirement account, but I have no debts. Student loan debt is one of the very few debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy and Social Security can even be garnished to repay it. My dad used to have a phrase about not paying for a dead horse. I have found his view to be very useful because if I buy something on credit that I’m not living in, driving around or using on a daily basis, then it is essentially a dead horse.

Who is the best salesman? A man who believes in the product he is selling. Universities are essentially businesses where all of the salespeople really believe in the product they are selling. All of the professors bought into the idea that they only way to succeed is to obtain a degree. In fact, all of the educators you have ever met have the same mindset because all of them went down the same path and it worked for them… sort of. Most of the professors I met and got to know a little are drowning in student loan debt. Some of them get to do interesting research and maybe that is worth the trade-off of being in debt and having limited time to spend with family.  

I worked with a former professor at the casino who had a PhD in ancient languages and was still paying off his student loans at the age of sixty. He had given a few lectures at Stanford and also co-authored a textbook, but he had not been tenured and had no retirement, so he was essentially destitute. Today, while working in the restaurant, I met a man who I also used to work with at the casino, and he told me about a mutual acquaintance who has finished a PhD in Biology but cannot find a job in his field. I know the man fairly well because I would see him around campus and knew he was working at the university teaching a few lab classes. It was very disheartening to hear how even with advanced degrees in a hard-science he still is not able to find a job in what he likes to do.

Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? Here is my advice… don’t quit your day job. Most of the people I know and admire have very average jobs with strong hobbies. My beekeeping mentor works in a factory but is one of the most passionate beekeepers I know. Another man I know drives a semi-truck and he fixes Harleys in his spare time. The woman who works in the local toffee shop creates beautiful paintings that she sells at art galleries and shows all over the southeast, and she is also one of the top pool players in the country. I work as a waitress but I’m also a beekeeper, a gardener, a clay animal maker, a lifelong learner and sometimes I even find time to write for all of my dear readers on this silly blog J     

Monday, July 8, 2013

Max Patch Paradise

Max Patch

I went hiking in an area called Max Patch last week. It is located in the Pisgah National Forest on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Max Patch is a high mountain bald with a unique ecosystem. The park service does maintain the area with regular mowing, though. The only way to drive to the bald is on a windy one-lane gravel road for about 10 miles. By taking a left out of the parking lot, the gravel road leads to Asheville and right leads to Newport. If you have a fear of gravel roads, the only other way to get to the area is by hiking. The Appalachian Trail goes over the bald. A few months ago, the area was vandalized by idiots driving ATV’s and four-wheelers all over the area. Whoever did it created deep muddy ruts in the grass.

Max Patch Bald

I hiked for a couple of hours and had such a powerful feeling of freedom and gratitude. Max Patch is my personal image of paradise. I was silently singing to myself “What a Wonderful World” the entire time I was there.  It is so amazing to be a part of the world and experience life. I meet miserable people every day and I often wonder if they would just pay attention and look around, they would see life as amazing too.    

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Food List

June Food Cost

January Total: $39.48
February Total: $43.39
March Total: $35.51
April: $33.91
May: $39.11
June: $28.59 
Year Total: $325.32
Total Remaining: $39.68

The major change in this month's food list is an increase in the consumption of meat but less eggs. I have a new job with the benefit of food every day I work. The cook makes a large meal for all of the employees each day, so I have limited choice for the type of meat I'm offered. Typically, I would not choose to eat pork or so much meat, but the food is offered so I eat it. The restaurant is busy and the work is strenuous, so without a meal offered in the middle of my shift, I would not be able to eat enough calories throughout the day to stay healthy.

Blueberries were finally ready to pick this month. Pies are a great way to use a lot of seasonal fruit at one time and they can be healthy. The blueberry pie includes 4 cups of blueberries and only 1/3 cup of sugar.

Grown by me
Locally Sourced
From my bees or bees I know

June Food List

1st - 1/2c blueberries, 3/4c blackberries, 1/2c applesauce, 1/4c sugar snap peas,  1/4c spinach, 1/2 scallion, 3 eggomlt, 1/2oz pepperjack chs, butter, lime pop, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family meal w/ d&s: chicken, corn applesauce, banana pudding) (GO: (6) lime freezer pops $1.00)
2nd - ramen, 1 mocha, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (chinese dinner with family s,d,b,a) (walmart: Chicken ramen (12)$2.24)
3rd - 1/4c lettuce, 3 eggomlt, 1/2oz pepperjack chs, butter, lime pop, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: meatloaf, carrots, fried mashed potato, lemonade)
4th - 1/4c sugar snap peas, 1/4c lettuce, 1/2scallion, 3 eggomlt, 1/2oz pepperjack chs, butter, lime pop, 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee (work: shell pasta, chs sauce, broccoli, sausage, lemonade)
5th - 1/4c spinach, tomato, 1/2 scallion, 3 eggomlt, 1/2 oz cheese, lime pop, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, herbs, potatoes, lemonade)
6th - (made bread) garlic, 1c bush beans, 1/4c spinach, 1/2 scallion, tomato, 3 eggomlt, 1/2oz cheese, 1/4 bread, butter, mocha (work: chicken, herb sauce, zucchini, lemonade)
7th - blueberry syrup, garlic, 1c bush beans, 2 eggfrtst, 1/4 bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (D's kindergarten Graduation: Tupelo Cafe)
8th - ramen, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, herbs, potatoes, fried corn bread, lemonade)
9th - 1/4c blueberry syrup, 1/2c strawberry freezer jam, 1c blackberries, 1c applesauce, garlic, 2 eggcr, 1/3c rice, 1/8 bread, butter, teriyaki sauce, lemonade, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (?: doritoes $2.00, flour $2.44)
10th - 1c applesauce, 1c sugar snap peas, 1/8c carrots, 1c bush beans, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, ramen, butter, mocha, doritoes, 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee (work: cannoli)
11th - (made rolls) garlic, 1/4c swiss chard, 1/4c sugar snap peas, 2 eggscr, 3/6 rolls, butter, doritoes, lemonade, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee (work: chicken, red peppers, onions, potatoes, lemonade)
12th - 1c blueberries, 1c blackberries, garlic, 1c bush beans, ramen, 2/6 rolls, butter, 1tbs honey, 2 pots coffee (work: chicken herbs, salad, tomatoes, bread, butter, lemonade)
13th - 1-1/2c blueberries (last of last year's), 1c blackberries, 1c sugar snap peas, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, teriyaki sauce, butter, 2tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: bread)
14th - (made bread) strawberry freezer jam, garlic, 2 eggfrtst, 1/2 bread, ramen, butter, 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee, twix (walmart: soy sauce w/ coupon $1.19, twix $0.68) (work: hamburger, onions, mushrooms, home fries, lemonad, root beer)
15th - garlic, 1/4 bread, butter, king baby ruth, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: lemonade, root beer) (movie w/ J: root beer, popcorn) (GO: (2) boxes turkey stuffing $2.00, king baby ruth $0.89)
16th - 2c applesauce, lemonade, 2tsp honey, 2 pots coffee (family leftovers: 3 pizza slices) (farmers market: local butter $7.45, fudge $2.50)(LJS: fish, fries, hushpuppies $4.99)
17th - strawberry freezer jam, 3 raspberries, 1/8c carrots, 1c sugar snap peas, 1c bush beans, 2 eggomlt, 1/4 bread, ramen, butter, mocha, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pasta, cheese, lemonade)
18th - (made bread) 1/2c blueberries, 2 raspberries, garlic, 1c bush beans, 1/2c spinach, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, teriyaki sauce-last, 1/4 bread, 1/3 box stuffing, butter, lemonade, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pork, cheese, marinara, bread, choc cake, root beer)
19th - strawberry freezer jam, 1/2c blueberries, garlic, 1/2c sugar snap peas, 2 eggfrtst, 1/2 bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken wings, bread, lemonade)
20th - 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (family: pancakes, choc chip cookies, movies-popcorn, icie, DQ-ice cream)(work: cicken wings, potatoes, peppers, lemonade)
21st - strawberry freezer jam, 1c sugar snap peas, 2 eggfrtst, 1/4 bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pork, potatoes, gravy, bread, lemonade)
22nd - 3/4c blueberries, 1c sugar snap peas, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, soy sauce, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken breast w/ herbs, lemonade, root beer)
23rd - 1/4c strawberry freezer jam, 1c blackberries, 1c blueberries, 1/3c raspberries, 1c sugar snap peas, 2/3 box stuffing, butter, banana bread (flour, egg, sugar, baking powder, salt) 2tsp honey, 2 pot coffee (free bananas from church group at flea market)
24th - 1/4c carrots, 1/4c broccoli, 2 eggscr, 1/3c rice, soy sauce, banana bread, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: pork stuffed w/ cheese, herbs, spaghetti, lemonade, sweet tea)
25th - 1c blueberries, 1c blackberries, 1/4c raspberries, 1/2c sugar snap peas, lemonade, 1tbs honey, 2 pots coffee (family outback w/ $25 gift card and $8 coupon: bloomin’ onion, bread,   steak, mashed potatoes, salad, sprite)
26th - (cherokee: turkey wrap, chips $6.99) (work: chicken herb sauce, carrots, lemonade)
27th - blueberry pie, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: chicken herbs, potatoes, onions, peppers, root beer, lemonade)
28th - blueberry pie, 1-1/2c potatoes, 1c bush beans, butter, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (work: bread, butter, pizza, hamburger, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, lemonade, sweet tea)
29th - blueberry pie, lemonade, 1tsp honey, 1 pot coffee (sonic w/ m: chicken sand, mozzerella sticks $5.00) (family meal w/d&s: pancakes, syrup, cantaloupe; nature center: icie) (work: chicken, herbs sauce, pizza, celery, onions, zucchini, lemonade, root beer) (Walmart: 2/3 pie crust: $1.67/$2.50)
30th - (made bread) 1/4c strawberry freezer jam , 1c blackberries, garlic, 1c bush beans, 2 eggscr, 1/4 bread, 1/3 box stuffing, butter, 1tbs honey, 2 pots coffee

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saddest Poem Ever Written

I found this poem I wrote to my grandmother when I was about 8 years old. It is possibly the saddest poem ever written by a child.

The Cricket

The cricket always has 6 legs
And each Autem they may lay eggs
And crickets like to hop and jump
Love to spend time in a rotton stump
They also like to hop and sing
Mostly they like to sing in spring
The cricket always eats green grass
And never takes up to much mass

Why do I think this poem was so sad? It was written by a small child with a purely analytical and scientific point of view. This was a poem I wrote in my free time for my grandma and not something written for school.

When I was around 12 years old one of my brother's friends lived with us. He was about 18 and stayed with my family for a year. I remember  one day I was writing a "just for fun essay" about the snails that lived in my fish tank, and he came in my room to talk to me so I quickly covered my essay. He then said, "Awww, how cute! You're writing a love letter to a boy." I faltered a little and said, "Yup, that's what I'm doing." It would have been more normal for me to have been writing a love letter instead of writing about the behavior of aquatic snails.

Oh well... I guess a person's personality doesn't change much with time.

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Blueberry

First Blueberry June 12th
The first blueberries have finally ripened on June 12th and I noticed the first red raspberry today. I just ate the last cup of frozen blueberries from last season. My goal with gardening is to always squirrel enough away for the next year. I'm also not particularly picky if some fruits taste a little freezer-burned because they just go into smoothies with other berries and honey. Blueberries are difficult to dehydrate because of the wax coating they naturally have. The coating is called bloom and prevents the berries from rotting because the coating acts as a water repellent.