Tips for retiring early with a little less...

Retiring early is hard. Retiring early with little money is really hard. Here are things I've found can help.

1. Live where you want to be.
If you live in Jersey but want to be in Florida you are screwed. Travel is expensive and a second home is out of the question if you aren't rich so live where you want to be OR enjoy living where you are.

2. Find a source of revenue that you love

Doesn't matter if it is a paper route, making some money in retirement is vital. Even a few hundred dollars a month really adds up and it can cover a few essential luxuries like a good beer.

3. Find and enjoy cheap or free luxuries
Open air concerts, shore fishing, long walks. Retirement means time and if you can find cheap ways to enjoy your time then you are half way there.

4. Physical health is essential
If you are smoking then stop. If you are overweight then start losing weight. Health issues will crush any chance of a retirement on a budget.

5. Help your kids lives be better.
Family is where it is at. Have a sister you don't know or grand kids you rarely see? Go see them now. Spending time with family is cheap luxury and one that pays long term benefits for all.


Solo dad adventures with his son

Solo dad story of the day: 

woke up 6:00am by our very friendly guest dog whining to be let out. Car.needs.to be at garage early so no worries. Ben works on getting dressed and I head outside to find summer tires. Moments later one errant tire decided to roll down the d driveway and disappeared into the pond well offshore. Ben is now crying inside because he has forgotten to put on underwear before pants (which happens to me all the time). Now I'm wading into the muck of our pond while ben is crying on the deck and the guest dog is wandering off to parts unknown. While I'm cursing and splashing around in my clothes in the middle of my pond with dogs running wild, Ben crying on the porch, neighbor comes by and gives me the kind of look usually reserved for crazy people you see living on a piece of cardboard in the street.

Solo dad day 2: 
Day started out well. The lady from the state was much nicer that I expected, although the state trooper she brought with her was pretty serious. I understand that it looks like a meth lab in my garage but honestly, I'm just a really crappy home brewer. Today I thought I'd set up a play date - figuring this would make for an easy day and it did. No serious injuries. I did have a few learning opportunities that allowed me to convey some life lessons that I thought I'd share.
1. Yes, we live in the country and you can pee pretty much anywhere you want. This however NEVER involves the inside of the house, especially under mom's bed (seriously - how in the hell is this possible?)
2. The only thing we ever put in the fish tank is fish and fish food. Peanut butter sandwiches are NOT fish food. Neither are raisins.
3. Mooning is kind of funny - but not policeman. Seriously.
4. Snapping turtles can be dangerous. And stinky. Bike helmets are not adequate protection when dealing with snappers.
5. While I'm happy that you both know the proper use of the word "buttocks" this does not mean it has to be used in every sentence.
Tomorrow we'll try the open swim hour at the local gym. What could go wrong?

Benjamin AKA "ladies man"
Overheard today at preschool - Benjamin to the little girl he was playing with:
"Rowan, come see the trucks I'm playing with".
Little girl: "My name isn't Rowan".

Benjamin: "Come look at my butt"


Family history Conrad Walser married Alice Kaltenbach

This post will contain the known history of my great great grandparents beginning with Conrad Walser and Alice Kaltenbach who married in Paris May 1886.

Conrad's parents (shown below) were from Germany (?) and owned a successful brewery -

View all photos and letters


Google Fi review for Northern Vermont, England and Germany

I live in northern Vermont and have been using the 5x with Fi for about a month.

Initial impressions: love it.

The coverage has actually been better than my previous ATT iPhone with a caveat.

I use xFinity for my home internet - which means I have use of the xFinity wifi hot spots. By using the feature on my phone it means I have coverage  anytime I have xFinity. This has meant that I have "cell coverage" in places where I used to have only minimum ATT cell signals (coffee shops, downtown Jericho and Underhill, etc.)

The only anomoly has been while driving. The phone tries to switch to Wifi anytime there is a signal - which means that the phone sometime switches to Wifi from cell tower. In a few cases this has resulted in a sort of "pixelated" call quality in the middle of a call while driving. I haven't had any dropped calls but have in a couple of cases noticed a real degradation in overall call quality.

In terms of moving from iPhone to Android Nexus5x - the hardest thing for me has been relearning where the phone power and volume buttons are located. I was already using the google ecosystem for nearly all my communications so in terms of setup and use it was an almost trivial. Contacts I simply imported into gmail, photos were already uploaded to google photos and music was on google play.

The form factor was perfect for me and I've had no issues at all with performance.

Overall highly recommended.

I'm just back from a week long trip to Germany and England and Canada with my fresh Google fi account and the 5x.

Overall - fantastic. Being able to spark up my phone and use Google maps to navigate trains subways and city streets anytime I wanted while travelling was revolutionary for me. Coverage was seamless the entire time.

How much does Google fi cost to use in Europe?

My total "extras" bill for a week of heavy use in Europe was 10. What I discovered was that

*cellular network calls are .20/minute which adds up.
*because everywhere you go in Europe you have wifi I used almost no data and the data I did use was cheap.
*wifi calls are cheap to place and free to answer.
*texting is always free.

Tips for using google fi in Europe

So when in Europe use Google maps anytime and anywhere, text.your friends and have them call you when you have wifi.

Update - turns out international calls are a scam in the part if Google
. the phone does not use wifi as a call vehicle EVEN IF WIFI IS ACTICE AND CONNECTED..



Volkl Vacuum skin review and long term testing results

I've been using the Volkl Vacuum skin on my Black Diamond Convert ski for the past few weeks and have some immediate thoughts. See long term update at the end

1. Putting typical skins on my skis is sort of like wrestling with a honey covered anaconda. The vacuum skins are domesticated and incredibly well behaved. Putting them on and taking them off is ridiculously easy.

2. Grip and glide are awesome. Used to use straight nylon skins - these things glide a little bit better and grip just as well.

3. Once on - they have never once some loose on the skin up - even in very cold snowy conditions. My last skins would often pick up snow pack under the center section.

4. The problem lies in going for multiple laps. Once the skins come off  - they have absolutely no "stickiness" that allows them to go back on a cold and snowy ski. Unless you had the forethought to keep the skins on an inside pocket on your jacket on the way down - and keep the base of your skis clean, you don't stand a chance in hell of getting them to stick on again.

5. For a dog hair, wood chip and dusty encrusted home like mine - normal skins get crazy dirty over the course of my 70+ ski days per season and eventually lose their stick. The vacuum skins are super easy to clean and will (i think) be every bit as useful at the end of the season as they are now.

Overall big fan - just need to figure out a better way to keep them dry and warm during the descents.

After a full 100+ day season on these things I've figured out a few things.

1. They are harder than standard skins to do multi laps with but with a little practice (and outside very cold or very wet conditions) multi laps work well. I did a 5 lap day in LCC Westbowl this winter with no worries each time. In certain cases you have to take off your gloves and with a glove liner on - rub hard on the skins to get them to adhere. Storing the skins in an inside jacket pocket helps.

2. Cleaning the skins at the end of a season was a dream. I filled a bathtub with a few inches of soapy water and washed both the fur side and the smooth side - and ended up with a pair of skins that looked liked new.

Overall for me the benefits outweigh the shortcomings but I'm still probably going to reglue an old pair of skins for next season's high angle multi lap uses...

Update update: It is now 2019 and I've been using these skins for 100+ days/year since buying them January 2016. Three years in and they still look like brand new and work like they did on day 1. Understand the limitations of these and you'll never be disappointed.


Colonoscopy tips for men who are scared of them

I'm a coward when it comes to hospitals and medicine. I hate needles. Lying flat in hospital beds. IV's I really hate! Not a fan of hospital smells, lights and tile floors. I hate hospitals. I'm scared of blood and pretty much everything to do with hospitals. And I'm not a big fan of the idea of having a rubber tube stuck up my ass with a camera on the end.

So it was safe to say that  was scared to have a colonoscopy. First step was to try and figure out how or why not to have one. Read a lot. Talked to doctors and searched online. Bottom line (no pun intended) was that for someone like me who hates needles and tubes up my ass, getting colon cancer would suck a lot. Best way to avoid having to have more needles and god only knows what stuck into me if I get colon cancer is to keep from getting colon cancer - which is why everyone is told to get a colonoscopy in the first place. So away I went. After all was said and done it wasn't as bad as I expected - but for those other chickens out there - here are some tips for you.

1. It really isn't as bad as you think. Drinking the prep solution and not eating was probably the worst part - but there are ways around that as well.

2. My prep was a mix of a laxative and gatorade. I now permanently hate gatorade and so will you.

3. Best way to manage the prep drinking process was to have a bottle of fizzy seltzer water. In between chugging the bottles of prep solution I would swish and gargle with the seltzer water. This cleared out the taste of the prep and made it easier to finish each round of the prep drinking.

4. I had really dreaded not eating anything but broth  - what I did was use packets of chicken broth with hot water - then I added pepper and powdered hot spicy - making a really spicy broth. The "heat" killed my appetite and made the broth taste a little more meal like. Jello is nasty and I couldn't eat any of it.

5. You will shit like crazy once you start drinking the prep - it took about 1/2 an hour after my first prep chug for it to kick in. My doctor recommended using vaseline around my anus and this was a great tip. Do it before you start chugging and then keep applying. This keeps you from getting torn up from all the shit.

6. I really hate IV's a lot. Getting them in the back of the hand is the worst - so I opted for getting one in the crook of my elbow - much less painful.

7. Getting knocked out with the combination of versed and fentanyl wasn't bad - I never felt like I was out of control or crazy - just sort of dozed off and then woke up easy (but tired) in the recovery room. I was worried I would start ranting like a maniac before, during or after but it never happened.

8. Keeping the prep solution cold was a good idea - but it you make it too cold the laxative stuff congeals into a nasty glop and is even harder to drink. Put it in the fridge but not freezer.

9. Just do it. If you don't and end up getting colon cancer all the shit you are scared of will come back 100 times over - and this time it won't be optional or brief and you might die even if you do everything you are told.

Good luck.