Saturday, June 30, 2012

John Bogle

There are three pillars of financial independence: saving a large percentage of your income, self-reliance, investment.

John Bogle is an American hero in my opinion.  Watch this interview:

To find out more about index investing go to

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Do you want to be average?

No of course not!  Everyone wants to be special.  Everyone thinks they are better than average.  But if everyone cannot be better than average how do you achieve something extraordinary if in all likelihood most of us will remain within a sigma or so of the mean?  I am a computer programmer by trade and while I am smart (here comes the "I am better than average" bias) I am not going to be in the top tier without ruining my life and even then after deluding myself I will likely burn out.  I can already hear the brain-washed by educational institutions go-getters disagree.  You are choosing failure they say.  You are laughable.  Now hold on a second.  There are clever ways to outsmart the herd playing musical chairs if you run off on a lonesome tangent.  Lonesome tangent doesn't sound like a place anyone would want to go, but try telling that to Columbus if you could.  The tangent for me is to seek out solutions to investment problems using my brain detached from the herd.  An investment problem for me is how do I move used furniture to put into rental condos at the lowest possible cost.  The in-the-box thinking is to follow the advice of your friendly know-it-all co-worker at the water cooler.  He will tell you to move furniture you need a nice truck like the F-150 with a big bed.  His motivation beside pure ignorance lays partly in not wanting to stand out as being poor or plain stupid.  While my net worth would in the short term allow me to purchase more than one of these F-150 trucks if I followed that path my financial independence goals would evaporate.  Furniture for rentals weighs anywhere from 50 to a few hundred pounds and I use my 2001 VW Golf to tow a 5x8 wire mesh trailer which I purchased on a super sale at Lowe's for $450.  The occasional looks I get? Priceless.  Perhaps more than intelligence (although you may or may not be surprised by how many people do not understand basic physics) it is your ability to withstand social pressure and the often innate desire to fit in which of course leads to not standing out and being just within a sigma of the mean!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is near and...

my favorite blogger Lund Fisker decided to quit and took up a job.  He passed on the torch to Mr. Money Mustache and while at first I was skeptical and quite frankly disappointed I am now becoming really impressed with MMM!  I seem to be following a similar path to his except that my IT income has been MUCH lower than his and only for a short four years it approached something reasonable but still not anywhere close to what some software engineers make.  I love MMM's article on are you a complainypants :-).
So this post is very informal and kind of easy going as I will be on vacation in a couple of days.  The 2001 Golf has now 202,000 miles!  Until now I have never been to a mechanic with the Golf (except for tire installations and alignment) but despite my mechanical skills we are a one car household:  I am a bit "scared" of the clutch starting to slip within the next couple of years.  A local mechanic said he can change the clutch for $500 - but it's more than just about the money for me.  I have some ego invested in this car and I am afraid to be seen as  a "failure" if I let someone else do it :-).  I am half joking and I may need to swallow my pride at some point.  Other than that things seem reasonably smooth.  Rentals are at a 100% occupancy rate until February.  There are always projects to do on the rentals but most of the time it's fun.  The least fun aspect of repairs is locating the right replacement parts such as a bathtub spout I'm trying to locate now.
Other than that, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Check Engine Code P0170 & Vacuum Leaks

Code P0170 indicates a lean mixture condition.  Before replacing expensive components such as the Mass Airflow Sensor it is wise to check for vacuum leaks as this is the most likely culprit.  Shown here is a vacuum line that goes to the Fuel Pressure Regulator of my 1.8 turbo Golf:
As you can see the vacuum line is extreme frayed and air that is not accounted for by the computer is leaking into the intake manifold causing the lean mixture condition.  The line above is short and connects to the underside of the intake.  It's fairly easy to remove with some needle nosed pliers.  The new installed vacuum line is shown below:

Here is a picture of the old line, the pliers :-), and the new hose:

Both ends of the hose were completely frayed.  A useful tip is to install a longer hose on the underside of the intake to make sure you have enough length as you route it through the maze of other hoses.  You then cut the hose to the appropriate length.  If you cut it first you may run into difficulties.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's been a while...

since I posted.  Given that this blog is, among other things, about frugality I made the mistake of not sharing my favorite site.  Lund Fisker at is really the only blogger I mentally connect with.  What is interesting is that his background is in many ways similar to mine.  He is an immigrant albeit from a western country, he is a former physicist, and of course he enjoys the essence of life contrasted by quantity/bling.  Perhaps most importantly Lund is a very nice guy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

HaywardEcon at CHS: Food Prices at Historical LOWS...Stop complaining and eat your Veggies!

I came across this blog entry rather randomly and decided to comment on Hayward's blog.  According to his graphs food prices in 2009 were 9.5% of disposable income while around 25% from 1930s to 1950s.  Just take a look at that graph - predictably it's an exponential fall-off.  It's worse than we had it 30 years ago?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Volkswagen's Autonomous Vehicle System

I predict that within 10 years or less autonomous vehicles will be here.  Nevada, lobbied by Google, has already passed laws directing their DMV to regulate autonomous vehicles.  The next great age will be the age of robotics.  Agriculture is currently about 2% of the US GDP - with AI robots it will go down to 0.2%.  Manufacturing is about 20-30% of the economy - robots will bring this down to 2%.  The service economy is currently close to 80% and it will be reduced to 8%.  The big question is what will fill the gap?  Perhaps human theater troops in every neighborhood.  Or simply bored, roman-like humans eating grapes while robots do all the work.