Thursday, January 27, 2005

A few books

The month of January saw me taking trips to the Santa Clara Library and boy do I love me some new library. The self checkout, the coffee shop, the free internet, all simply splendid.

But it was a non-fiction month, folks. The top 5:

5. The Tightwad Gazette
As many of you know, I've been on a kick lately about saving money. This is a compilation of what was once a newsletter sent about by an extremely frugal family. Interesting ideas abound, but if you're not crafty or handy, well you're like me and can't yet imagine how to apply the super-frugality of these nice people. Tight ideas though for when I do learn how to do things with my hands.

4. Financial Peace University
This is a personal finance book with a "Christian" spin. It is Christian in that it puts tithing at the top of the list of things you pay in your monthly budget. This book put a smack down on my fever to buy a duplex in Roanoke, VA. If you don't know, it's a long story. The basic point that made sense was that why would you work so hard to get out of debt, just to re-enter debt on a larger scale (ie. with a mortgage). Save money first, then think about fancier ideas. That's the main thing.

3. Salt: A World History
Ok, so I really only read the intro and the first two chapters. But this book is fact-filled, especially when you are writing a sermon relating to salt. Quite readable, "Salt" makes salt ridiculously fascinating.

2. Affluenza
Would you like to be depressed at the state of world consumerism? Are you already, but would like a good deal more of statistics and comparisons to back up your unfocused anger? This is your book. PBS did some special 8 years ago and it was called Affluenza. Then somebody wrote a book. One factoid that stuck out was that since 1950, we (as in, all humankind) have used more resources than all of humankind through all of history up to 1950. Whether that says, "Boy, we sure didn't use much back then," or "We've got to stop our consumption," I'll leave for you to decide. The beauty of that factoid is that it assumes you'll make the unstated connection that using that many resouces in fifty years is bad. Isn't that tricky, even if you agree? Anyway, I really liked this book, but the solutions section was only so-so. It's easy to diagnose a problem, but when its this tricky, its not so easy to solve it. However, one of the solutions chapters does reference Book #1 on our list this month.

1. Your Money or Your Life
By far the best book about money and finances I've read. Now, I've read less than 20 of such books so there might be something else out there, but this is the book that's making me track my expenses (to the befuddlement and amusement of you young people) and dream about managing Jane and my life so that some time in the future we might be able to work a whole lot less. I think this would be advantageous once we had some kids. This is the book you should read from this list. Do it now. Do it before you spend another $100. Do it before you run up 12 thousand dollars in credit card debt when you're living in a free house because you just don't know anything about money and don't know how you spend it. Especially for you Cam, Laura, McFarland, and Erin-types (of the NFP personality type), you cannot become what is most important to you, if your spending habits totally disagree with what your mind values (sorry Deedub, I know you hate the MBTI stuff). But be sure to check it out from the library, first. If you really like it, buy it. Also, if you need a spending tracking sheet, I've got 'em.

I realized something over the last two months that is obvious, so I'm stupid, immature, and silly. Personal change requires an annoying number of tiny steps to accomplish anything. Duh! But I am conditioned by my culture to want achievement now, and for me achievement means "better prayer" or "deeper knowledge of God's word." But these are vague goals, and even though I have a vision of what it might be like, I'm not sure how to reach them. Therefore, I'm concentrating on the money thing as a discipline that is tangible enough for me to see the change over time. I wouldn't have thought of "being responsible with money" as a spiritual discipline before now, but it is. BIG TIME!

I would like to point out that in January, while I was reading about money, 4 young women in our youth group (and a fifth and maybe a sixth following L.O.G. 6) have been working on something called Girls' Economic Power Day. Sehr Interessant.

Sleepy, sleepy, weepy, Sleepy

My crazy wife has been gone far too much lately. As you may recall, she was gone for a week at the beginning of January. Then she was gone this past weekend in Lake Tahoe. Now, she's gone for a night in San Francisco, working for Epson and having meetings. She's staying at the W hotel again. When I leave her for a week, I sleep on a cot in a dustbowl in Mexico. She leaves me and sleeps in $300/night hotel rooms. And nobody could die when she's on business.

This leaves me alone, bored, eyes blood shot because of reading too much, and basically tired, but not tired. You know that weird equilibrium of equal parts sleepy and fully alert. That's where I'm at.

She's staying at the W hotel again. When I leave her for a week, I sleep on a cot in a dustbowl in Mexico. She leaves me and sleeps in $300/night hotel rooms. And nobody could die when she's on business.

I've been thinking I might make a list of the best books I've read this month. Using the library has been the single greatest breakthrough for me recently. No book purchases equals money at the end of the month. Brilliant! I even have savings in my Paypal account. Ridiculous.

This post is quite possibly the most boring post I have ever written. I think it's the writing of Erik's recommendation to a government internship that sucked all my decent writing out. Oh well.

I was thinking about my honeymoon. This little restaurant has greeted me the two times I stepped off the train in Dolsach, Austria. It is one of those totally odd things that you would never forget. Like the right turn out of the Otay Mesa border crossing into Tijuana.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


This is Jane the day after the wedding, I was playing around with the picture and thought I should post it.