Mags and I want to go camping, and I had a fresh desire to do so just this morning. I really want to see the stars clearly, snuggle up in my sleeping bag, sit by the fire, go hiking, you know, all that good stuff. Anyone want to join?

We’re going to Copenhagen in September or October, for about ten days!

Yeah, it’s a long way away, but we’ve got to save up our paid time off 🙂 Immediately after the wedding, we’ll go to a bed and breakfast for two or three nights.

I’m getting pretty excited. Things are moving along pretty smoothly. Invites will start to go out tomorrow night.

I decided recently to start blogging more in lieu of certain posts on Twitter. I find that, whodathunkit, it is hard to fully contain a thought in 140 characters sometimes.

Mags and I talked tonight and it seems like it will probably make the most sense to have a short two- or three-day honeymoon immediately after the wedding, with the full honeymoon coming some months later. The short honeymoon will probably be at a nice bed and breakfast. Here are some ideas for the longer honeymoon – maybe about ten days in length…

Copenhagen. Cute, European city from what I hear. The most appealing thing, though, for both of us I think, is the huge bicycle culture here.

Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to go to Tokyo. Seems like there would be endless partying and world-class food here.

Mixed trip: Napa Valley and a cabin in the woods somewhere. This would probably be the most relaxed, peaceful option. The days would be filled with wine tastings, hikes in the woods, and lazy days in small towns.

Obligatory island somewhere. This option obviously has to be explored.

That’s all I can think of for now. I am sure we will come up with more ideas. I’d love to hear your ideas, too!

After more than a year of using a bicycle as my primary means of transportation, today I experienced the worst yet dangerous confrontation on the road.

As I was going down the hill on the 200 block of Chenery St, one block from my home, I heard a car behind me trying to pass in the oncoming lane. There was a car in front of me already, a stop sign coming up, and I was already going fast, as I was going down a hill. So I put my left hand out, palm facing the passing motorist, to tell her to “stop.”

Indeed, she did stop trying to pass me, and also yelled out a few things like “Move! Move!” and “Hurry up!”

Keep in mind that this is a residential street. Also keep in mind that on this downhill, bikes go faster than cars.

Of course, I point out all of this to you, my logical reader. Unfortunately logic literally does not enter into the decision-making process of many people. Moving on with my story…

So I am still in front of her, and I come to a complete stop at the stop sign. I turn around and ask “Just how fast do you think you’re going to go on this street?” She only responded, “Move! Shut the fuck up!” She then went around me at the stop sign, almost hitting me.

I am glad I am not a naturally violent person, because I did have a strong urge to kick out her tail light, but obviously I didn’t do that. You can probably guess that I easily caught up with her again, showing that in this case cars slow bikes down, bikes don’t slow cars down. I pulled up alongside her car at the next stop sign and said, “Did you happen to notice that I am going as fast as you are?” to which she responded (using her immense powers of logical argument) “Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up!” She then sped off.

This is the worst confrontation I have had yet with a motorist. Mags and I did have another person yell at us on Chenery a few weeks ago, though. This time, we were going up the hill. I was hauling 60 pounds of bagged compost on my trailer, and Mags was riding alongside me. A car behind us gave two light beeps. Mags motioned for her to go around us. For some reason this really pissed the motorist off, and she passed us, cursing up a storm as she did so. She was an elderly woman, acting this way. A nice pedestrian on the sidewalk remarked, “You just can’t win, can you?”

Oh, but we can win, and we will. It is incidents like this that show the continued need for Critical Mass, which just so happens to be tonight! And, as long as it is taking, we are getting better bicycle infrastructure in the city, starting soon.

Bikers are pissed, organized, and we’re going to stand up for ourselves. Motorists don’t have that going for them, that’s for sure.

This time last year, I was living in the Tenderloin. Peter-man was “the guy on the couch” (or the floor, or the air mattress). It was good times. I had only recently met Mags, I think about a week previously, and I had a major crush on her but I waited about another week to take action. My birthday was celebrated with Fun-yuns and Slim Jims at the Brown Jug Saloon in the Tenderloin, along with a sandwich party in Dolores Park. Last year’s celebration was a lot of fun, but I dropped the Brown Jug, kept the sandwich party, and added a small meal with a couple of guests at home for this year.

I was working at IS Logistics, and generally enjoying that. I was probably about 8 pounds lighter. Oh, and another major difference is that a year ago I had basically no savings, but that has changed drastically. I am much better with my money now.

Also one year ago I was going to school and working at the same time, both full time, which gave me three near-breakdowns. Not doing that again 🙂 I value my mental health too much.

Overall, I had a good life one year ago, and I have a better one now. I am working at EFF, living happily with Mags and two great roommates in Glen Park. I am about to move my Mom out here, and I am excited about what is going to happen on that front. Also, I am becoming more politically active, and I have made a lot of new friends.

If it is this good at 26, could it possibly get better at 27? Well, I’m not going to worry about that too much. I am just going to do what feels right.

Bike Trailer Shopping!

Bike Trailer Shopping!

Yes, that is a whole box of firewood strapped to the bike trailer.

Wait, you are coming to our housewarming party tonight, right?

In trying to automatically upgrade WordPress to 2.8.3, I got the following error: “Missing zlib extensions”

I am using apache 2.2.11 and FreeBSD 7.1-RELEASE-p3.

To fix…
cd /usr/ports/archivers/php5-zlib
make install
apachectl restart

Voila…

Posted to fix the nonexistent Google results, hopefully.

I realized yesterday, not for the first time, but maybe most poignantly so far, that I spend almost all of my waking hours consuming someone else’s ideas. Even in my downtime, I am often reading. In the many times per day when I have the opportunity to be occupied solely by my own thoughts, I often break out the iPhone to read emails, RSS items, or Twitter updates.

Even at work, I am implementing someone else’s software.

Sure, I do create my own things from time to time, but this creativity is not frequent enough and it is often small in scale. Posting a tweet, designing a system or network, discussing my ideas with someone… these are the kinds of things that are usually my only creative outlet.

Things I would like to do, just off the top of my mind, are blogging, journal writing, meditation, building a bike trailer, contributing to open-source software projects, and DJing.

Hopefully these thoughts of mine will mean more posts here 🙂

What is it about our culture that makes us care so much about one dead pop star, and so little about so many others? Why do you have to go back two hours on Twitter to get twenty mentions of the Uyghurs, but you only have to go back one minute (!) to get twenty mentions of Michael Jackson?

Twice today I counted the occurrences of the word “Jackson” on cnn.com. The first reading caught twenty-seven instances. The second reading caught twenty instances. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China/Uyghurs got one mention each at most, and all mentions were pushed down to a much less prominent part of the page.

Our mass media is broken in that it promotes insignificant stories and neglects extremely important stories. It is also broken in that the stories themselves are filled with propaganda. But the mass media isn’t the only thing that is broken. Our culture is broken in that, when people go to cnn.com and see it plastered with “MICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSONMICHAELJACKSON” they don’t have a mental gag reflex that says, “What the hell is this? I came to this website to see the news, not this crap. Surely there is a better source of news. I am going to go look for that source right NOW.”

What is it that causes this blatant disregard for the rest of the world, the significant things that are occurring in this world, the horrible injustices that are being carried out, many of them in our names?

For the first time in my life, really, I am being smart with my money. There are many factors contributing to this, but I think the key recently has been frequent and small transfers to pay off debt and into savings.

What I have been doing is every few days I’ll log into my credit union’s website and look at my checking account balance. If I notice that I have breathing room, which I almost always have, then I’ll make a transfer into my savings or pay off some debt. Previously I would get paid and be overly ambitious on putting money into savings or paying off debt, and only do it once per month. So what would happen is I would run out of money in my checking and either have to put money on a credit card or empty out my savings again. Now what I have been doing is when I get paid, I still put in a larger amount of money. But this time it might be $125 to pay off debt and $125 in savings. Three days later I might log back in and put another $50 in savings. Getting close to the next paycheck I’ll see that I have plenty of money left in savings and maybe transfer out another $100 or $200.

This gives me a better idea at all times of how much I have. I also am good at thinking of the next several days of expenses but not good at thinking of a whole month’s expenses at once.

Also to prevent taking money out of savings I try to keep at least $200 in my checking account at all times. The only time when it should get this low, anyway, is right before my next paycheck. And anything that needs more money than this can easily wait an extra couple of days.

I’ve also made it much harder for myself to borrow money. Probably about a year ago I canceled my two credit cards, having paid them and another loan off with a debt consolidation loan. So I haven’t borrowed any new money in this time. I only have this and one other loan to pay off currently, the smaller of which should be paid off in the next two or three months.

By the time I get this smaller loan paid off, I should also be pretty close to having three months of living expenses in savings, which is my short-term goal. In this case, any extra money I have will be able to go into my debt consolidation loan, which will make it easy to pay this off very quickly.

I should make a small point. As personal preference, and after seeing it suggested in at least two places, I’ve decided that a good strategy is to pay off smaller loans first even when they have slightly smaller interest rates. Certainly if it was 12% vs 19%, I’d pay off the 19% first. But in my case, twice now I’ve chosen to pay off a loan that was .5% to 1% lower interest rate first. The reason for this is this makes it less to worry about, less to manage, and less chance for late fees and such. Better for my peace of mind 🙂

I’m very excited to be debt-free. But I also get excited each time I pay off more of a loan or put more money into my savings. It feels really good. Once I am debt-free (hopefully in about a year), all of my extra money will go into savings. I don’t intend on working eight hours a day, five days per week my whole life (at least, not for someone else), and being able to consistently save money while I am working will allow me to live off of these savings for months or years at a time while doing something that isn’t making me a ton of money. Like school full-time. Or going on a cross-country bicycle trip. Or traveling the world (frugally, of course). Or spending my days reading and writing (self education). Or finally starting to write that video game that I’ve wanted to write. The possibilities are endless, and the decisions that I made today, and day-to-day will help me realize any number of these things more fully and for longer periods of time.

You might be asking yourself why I would choose to not have any credit cards. Having a small number of credit cards in good standing and with a balance of about 40% (I think) of its limit can help your credit score. Well, I try to think of things in terms of risk/reward. In my case, the risk of having a credit card was higher than the reward of a higher credit score. After I am completely debt-free, I will worry more about improving my credit score. As it stands, my credit score is good and landlords in Mags and my recent apartment search have been eager to have us as tenants due to our credit scores. So it isn’t a huge concern right now.

Of course, you can’t save or pay off debt unless your expenditures are much less than your earnings. I am comfortable with my earnings. Comfortable enough that I have recently turned down an opportunity to greatly increase my earnings (because I love my current job). As far as expenditures, I have cut down on them significantly since I moved to the city. When I first moved here, I had a one-bedroom apartment in Russian Hill. I had a car, too. I didn’t really think about how much I was spending and why. Now, I am splitting my studio apartment with Mags (in the Tenderloin), I don’t have a car, and in many other ways I am spending less just by constantly being aware of how much I am spending, if I could get the same thing for less somehow, and if I really even want or need what I am buying. It certainly helps that I enjoy my more frugal lifestyle more than my more extravagant one, even if you were to ignore the money aspect. I avoid driving as much as I can as it tends to stress me out and make me depressed. The driving, suburban lifestyle was, after all, the primary reason why I escaped the Maryland suburbs. I also enjoy communal living, and too much space equals too much stuff and too much clutter, which also depresses me. So it all works out well in this case.

Of course, it has taken me too long to get smart with money, but it could have taken a lot longer or never happened, as happens with a lot of people, so I feel fortunate of where I now stand.