Help a Writer Out!

I first heard of NaNoWriMo when reading Leo’s Zen Habits 2009 write up. Thought it was interesting and then went on. Of course I thought ‘Gee, that’s exactly what I need to get that novel (finished / continue / uh.. started!) Then Lori reminded me of the challenge when she advised her audience at large about her lessons. We had a bunch of conversations, comments, tweets, and mutual admiration sessions and I got really excited about it. Later on my inner drill sergeant screamed at me Full Metal Jacket style to “Come on you pansy, quit talking about what you’re going to do and do it already! It’s time to buckle up, butter cup!” My inner voices can be quite demanding at times. So I decided I would. Then I told you.
thailand bangkok backpacker road beer

Support Systems

As I can let no new endeavor commence without the obligatory procrastination… uh, I mean research, I searched the interwebs for examples of people doing the NaNoWriMo challenge. One of the recurring themes I read here is the concept of a support system. Well, we all know that most great accomplishments come from personal inspiration backed up by a support team to get you through those lonely doubting hours.

In fact, I cannot think of a single thing I’ve accomplished without the help of a support team.

Boy am I going to need help on this one! And I don’t think I’m the only one in need.

It takes a Village – How You Can Help

Option 1: Join me in writing NaNoWriMo

Come on, you know you want to write that novel you’ve been holding inside!

4 Reasons for You to Join me in NaNoWriMo

1. Learn how to schedule your creativity.

Leo did. Worked out pretty well for him, didn’t it?

2. Learn how to write.

Ali says it better than I can as she recaps her experience here:

I believe that there’s real value in just seeing something through, even if the results are pretty dismal. The experience of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo probably isn’t going to get you a brilliant publishable piece of fiction at the end of the month … but it is going to help you learn about the writing process (plotting, developing characters, writing dialogue) and it may well help you to establish the writing discipline that you need to carry on developing.

3. Make Progress Towards that Bucket List

It’s amazing how many people out there have a book hidden in them. It’s amazing how few get it out of their subconscious and out on to paper. If you want to be one of the few, the proud, the published, this is your first step!

4. You’re Good Enough!

Writing can take a deal of courage. Everyone has read an author and has been absolutely blown away. While you love and appreciate the talent an author expresses and marvel at how those words have enriched your life, perhaps a small part of despairs thinking that since you’ll never match that artistry, why even make your own effort. This happens to me every day… usually in the comments section of my own blog!

Intimidation isn’t a good enough reason to stop. If you’re not scared, you’re probably not growing.

5. Because You Can.

This may be the best and only reason. You should write because you can. Because it would be a sin to waste that ability. Because if you can accomplish something, and you choose not to for any reason other than striving towards some other great purpose, what does that make you?

Option 2: Have a Blog?

Check out the NaNoBlogMo challenge! Know a blogger who’s doing NaNoWriMo? Send them that link!

Option 3: General Support

When the going gets tough, the tough rely on their friends to pull them through! Everything that I’ve read on this challenge indicates that it takes an inordinate amount of reassurance and cheering from your support structure to pull it through.

So, What’s It Gonna Be?

Writing? Tell the world below!
Blogging? Tell us below AND sign up for NaNoBlogMo!
Cheering? Let’s hear it in the comments section!

Empty Your Cup

Empty your cup. I am not sure on the origin of this philosophy or even from where I first heard it. But I like it. You may have heard it before. If not, here’s a primer in the form I remember it in – that of a martial arts student and the master he came to study from:

Student: “Master! At long last I have found you! I have studied martial arts for years and everyone says that you are the best in the world. I have come here to complete my training.”

Master: “Excellent. Let’s begin your training with the horse stance.”

Student: “The horse stance? I learned that years ago. I have studied Martial Arts for years. I only need to complete my education, not start off as some rank beginner.

Master: “Well then you must leave. There is nothing I can teach you.”

Student: “But you are the renown grandmaster. Surely there must be something you know that I do not.”

Master: “There certainly is. But from your vantage point your cup of knowledge is already full. If you are not ready to learn, I cannot possibly teach you.”

Empty Your Cup

This is the approach I am trying to take while studying Kung Fu. I have studied martial arts before and if I’m honest starting out as a beginner is a bit of a blow to my ego. But ego isn’t why I am studying there. Foot rehab, balance, flexibility, exercise (just to start the list off ) is. This weekend I had my first class. It was with the beginner or ‘A Block.’ The 30 minutes of standardized workouts was challenging – especially on all of those items I just listed. Think P90x in intensity. The next few drills were, well, I’ll say boring. Simple kicks and stance training. Some kicking of a bag – which I was pleased to see I could still do well.

But boring or not, it was exactly what I needed. I left the class pleasantly exhausted having worked out well for the day. My technique on even the basics was off. Despite the power I was able to generate, I could feel that my form could be better.

The instructor came to me and asked if I had studied martial arts before. I could have replied ‘yes’ but keeping the empty cup philosophy in mind, I didn’t. Not wanting to lie I said that I had studied so long ago that it didn’t really matter now. I think that is the honest truth! She complemented me and I deferred to muscle memory and asked for help making my technique better. At the end of the 90 minute lesson I felt like I learned something new instead of covering something old.

Other Applications

I’m sure I could apply this philosophy to other aspects in my life. Work, family, gym, etc. I tend to be impatient, especially when people are telling me things I learned before or believe I could easily figure out on my own. Sure, I swam 5.25 miles but all that did was tell me how much I really had to learn about swimming, about how much more practice I needed to get better.

How could you apply this?

Being a Beginner is More fun

A good follow up read about the Beginner’s mind. It covers, among other things, letting go of your expert-ness and having more fun as a beginner.

Peaceful Dragon

Everyone has their coping strategies for cubicle life. I like to travel and chase goals. I also enjoy pursuing various physical challenges to keep me sane. The last 2 years it was the 5.25 mile Cross Bay Swim. Previously it was bodybuilding, flag football, kickball, soccer, kayaking, hiking, or any number of other things. This year I decided to return to studying Martial Arts.
China wuhan mountains tai chi

Previous Study

One of my first memories is of a karate class. When I was very young my parents brought me to a karate class I believe taught by my godfather. Mostly, I remember playing with other kids on a mat in a gymnasium and having a great time.

Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

I’m not certain if my parents ever took another class but later on they enrolled my brother and I in karate in a hole-in-the-wall North Babylon studio that had mirrors on the wall and pictures of students in full 80s greasy curled hair. Despite a love of 80’s-riffic fighting movies with training montages (Karate Kid, Rocky, etc) and the dot matrix print outs of workouts and belt-testing requirements they sent us home with, we never practiced. Our instructors covered and re-covered the same material so often I’m sure they thought we were “special.” No matter how much we learned, we earned a few belts for attendance. I think the most use our uniforms received were as stand-in Halloween costumes. After maybe a year either my parents got tired of paying for this glorified day care or the instructors got tired of taking their money and our lessons ended. I think that was when I started my education.

Self Study

There’s something about having knowledge (or more accurately, access to knowledge) taken away from you to make you want to learn something. At least that was how it was for me. The end of those (lack of) lessons led to me getting every book in the library on karate, kung fu, and related disciplines. I even think I bought a few from the elementary school book sale. I’d arrange my GI Joes in the stances, forms, and strikes I saw in those pages and practice them as best I could. Those 80’s movies came in handy as I did my best to imitate Daniel LaRusso, the Best of the Best fighters, and the likes of American Ninja. This probably went on for longer that I would care to admit. At least until I was able to take formal lessons.

A Good School

Serious study came when I entered to win free lessons at a nearby school – Fred Vilari’s karate. Surprise! I won. (It’s a marketing technique, everybody won!) I was in about 8th grade and I really took to it. I loved going. Many birthdays, Christmas’s and other gift-giving occasions led to me taking private lessons, learning weapons, getting more books, etc. Some friends joined and soon I was going with them, competing with (and against) them, and having a good time. We all marched lock-step in belt advancement. That irritated me. I really thought I was putting in a lot more effort (and was a lot more effective) than several of my peers.Eventually my peers petered off one by one. We had other concerns. Soccer, cross country, track, girls, boy scouts, church, etc all got in the way. I am not sure when I stopped my longest run of instruction but it was after a few years. I would re-join time and time again through out and even into college. I would do tournaments, try out other schools, practice with other friends but never for more than a couple of months.

Recently I looked up the school – a lot of those friends that I made inside the studio are now masters in their own right. They stayed with it. They became instructors and now they own their own shops. That made me kind of wonder ‘what might have been.’ I guess if you get old enough a lot of things make you do that.

Why Return Now?

The last few years have seen me in a cast of some kind or other. Mostly on my feet. Broken foot bones, collapsed arch, torn rotator cuff, dislocated toe, torn cartilage, surgery… the list goes on. Someone recently asked me why I thought that was. The easy answer would be Flag Football – after all that’s what I was doing when I had all of those injuries. The real reason I believe is that I let myself go.

As freshman ectomorph I stopped doing any kind of cardio in college all in an attempt to put as much muscle as possible on a very thin frame. After competing in a natural bodybuilding show to close out my college career I played after work sports for about a year before falling off that wagon. Lifting (and dieting) would go in spurts from that time but I have fallen short of my goal of discovering a way to keep in good shape for an extended period of time. After (relatively) mastering a subject (competing in a bodybuilding show, swimming 5.25 miles, etc) I think I get bored in further pursuing it. Martial Arts is something that I don’t think can be mastered. Plus, the stretching, movement, balance, coordination and mind-body balance all appeal to me as skills I sorely need work on. Doing martial arts will be fun for me in a way that lifting and swimming have ceased to be!

More than Physical

There are a number of other things that I like about this particular studio. For one, it is an unbroken line from THE Shaolin monastery to this school so it certainly has the romance and prestige of history going for it. Secondly it is as much a cultural institution as anything else. They have travelled to China before to that Shaolin monastery. (can you imagine this group as a tour guide???) They do travel to other places, celebrate holidays I don’t know of. They teach languages I don’t know and they hold study sessions on philosophies I grew up studying.

When I was looking for a martial arts schools I had thought I had wanted to find a new way to exercise. What I have realized is that I was looking for many things. A way to work out was just one of them. A way to heal up and continue physical therapy is another. Cultural pursuits a third. The list goes on.

Of course, after you make a decision to follow one course of action one tends to find corroborating data to back it up. The Peaceful Dragon may not end up being what I’m making it out to be. But like that old Chinese proverb, ‘a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step.’ My journey starts tonight.

How to Lose 50lbs Hiking

The following is an interview done with one of my friends over email. It was a reluctant interview so the play may be a little choppy here. But it’s a good story. The guy finally had enough of being out of shape and decided to do something about it. He’s a private sort of guy so he chose solitary hiking as his outlet.

I like this story because it is a unity of goal setting, travel, and getting in shape. Good stuff.

My questions are in the headers or denoted by a CW:

What made you want to start hiking last year?

– I had enough. (of everything). Fat to me is potential energy that needs to be turned into kinetic energy for sanity and health.

So why hike?

CW: In opposed to other things – scuba diving & tae kwon do, my gym & swimming, etc?

– I wanted to be outside and not in a group activity. I needed some alone time to gather my thoughts as well as burn calories.

Had you ever hiked before?

CW: I know that you have not camped. How did you get started? Just leave work one day and head to Crowders (local Charlotte mountain)?
– A friend and I went to Crowder’s before my two week vacation. I felt better and slept through the night after that hike. I decided to see what I could change in two weeks.

CW: So, he had been to Crowders before then, huh. I bet you slept well. You were in awful shape before.

How did that first hike go. Any injuries?

– No injuries. Just lots of breaks and sweat.

CW: And then you just hiked Crowders every day for 2 weeks of vacation? Your body could handle that? Mine couldn’t. I miss having feet.

– Just about every day. It was my boot camp. either complete it or die trying (literally).

How did you feel at the end of those 2 weeks?

CW: Did you end up changing your diet, too?

– I felt great. changed diet

So how much weight did you lose those first 2 weeks?

-10 lbs or so. I didn’t really keep track. It wasn’t so much about weight loss versus starting the machine. Getting blood sugar levels leveled during strenuous exercise.

Ever pass out? How did you mitigate crazy blood sugar levels? Snacks?

-I came close. I carried performance sugar drinks as well as peanut butter and jelly. over time I adjusted to where I would take water and food breaks and gave up the sugar drinks.

How did your life change (if at all) when you came back to the rigor and schedule of work?

-I was determined to keep up with what I had accomplished. I was not going to go back to the habits that had made me miserable. I found a way to balance the stress of work with the stress of the new routine, until the routine became part of the normal day.

What do you mean by ‘stress of the new routine?’

-As with all changes it can be stressful. Not getting enough calories at the right time makes some people cranky and emotionally taxed.

What was your biggest challenge after the 2 week vacation?

-Maintaining the intensity of the workout. I had to work, then travel to the mountain for a workout. The schedule put me in late and eating late. The idea that you can’t eat after 7:00pm is bunk. I was eating at 10:00 pm most nights. Calories in and calories out.

CW: Yeah, I can imagine that distance would be an issue.

How did you mitigate it?

CW: I’ve seen your trunk. It looks like you manage very efficiently now. How did that come about?
-I use to carry everything after I left work – a cooler with sugar drinks, sandwiches, power bars and change of clothes. It is mostly trial and error. It started with a big day pack full of stuff. After awhile you finally carry only what you need.

So what essentials are you down to now?

-Water is essential as well as a power bar – just in case the blood sugar levels drop. not as likely now if I have been eating properly. Flashlight if close to dark and bug spray.


I never got to finish the interview as my friend stopped hiking. He’s on to a new quest now; studying German. Still, he’s displaying the same kind of focus pursuing that goal as he did while hiking. And I’d imagine he’s receiving the same benefit as he’s only serving one master.

What do you think? Could you drop 50lbs hiking? Have you ever done something like that? How did you apply those lessons to your next goal?

How an Inheritance Can Get You Fired: Mathematical Proof

I used to work with this guy who had received a great deal of money in an inheritance. Seriously, the dude came to work and he literally didn’t need to come to work any more. That kind of money. I watched as his behavior changed over time. Subtly at first he went full on ‘I don’t give a rat’s hairy ass’ after a while.

He started coming to work with Winnie the Pooh ties. He was late 40s or so. Soon, the ties stopped, the shorts stopped, and the whole 100 acre team was on t shirts while the rest of us were in suits. That guy went ‘Full-on Winnie the Pooh.’

Awesome, right?

That’s to be expected I guess with such a windfall.

But What If Your Assets Aren’t Covered?

But that kind of psychology is dangerous. That guy had his assets covered. He didn’t have to work.

But what if you got a lot of money, enough money to be life-changing but not enough to retire. Could you swing it or would Eeyore be your next clothing assistant?

The Acceptable Arrogance Level

After a certain time at work you come to find exactly how far you can push the arrogance line. This line changes with each promotion, each status title, and upon the need and uniqueness of your skill set. For example the full-partner in a law firm who is the only Farsi speaker is allowed a ton more latitude when they are working the final deals on oil rights in the Caspian.

If you are easily replaced, the tolerance for your arrogance level is pretty low.

The level of arrogance your company and coworkers will tolerate is that middle line. Go above ti and you’re axed. Stay below and you’re cool.

How Much Do You Need to Retire

By retire I mean ‘not work here, there, nor anywhere’ kinds of riches. The varies obviously on age, accustomed lifestyle, obligations, and other factors. This amount, whatever it is, is represented by that vertical line in the sand.

The Intersection Grid

The accepted arrogance line and the amount to retire lines, being constants, are straight lines on this grid.

Quadrant I – Par for the Course

Starting close to the root of the axis (0,0) is where most of us spend our lives. This quadrant extends to but never crosses neither the two constants. We never get raise, a gift, a windfall that bumps us to the retirement line so we stay pretty respectful at work.

Quadrant II – Cool as Ice

The next quadrant is a little to the right of Quadrant 1. We’re still hugging the x -axis on the ground, because we’re cool like that. No matter how much extra $ we find, we still come into work the next day like nothing ever happened. We either love our jobs, have a sense of responsibility, or are boring as piss and have nothing else to do with our lives.

Pimps like Warren Buffet the Oracle of Omaha generally fit into this bracket. Well, the first two items I mentioned anyway. I’m sure he’s actually pretty interesting. To us arrogant poor people, especially!

Quadrant III – Full on Pooh Bear

This quadrant is the furthest away from center that you can go. You’ve made so much extra money that you don’t have to work and it’s gone to your head. You won’t be coming ’round these parts no mo’. But it’s cool. You have the cash to back it up.

The Asymptotic Line of Accidental Firing

You see, my hypothesis is that asymptotic line.For each amount of windfall $ there exists an amount that is not enough to sustain you for the rest of your life but will make you impossible to work with.

Quadrant IV – The Danger Zone.

Methinks a bunch of wall street hedge fund types are in this boat nowadays getting serially fired from the fry machine duties at the local McD’s. Their arrogance is writing checks there, well, bank account just cant cash.

It’s important to note that I’ve never actually seen this type in person. While I do regularly encounter people living in quadrants I-III, this 4th estate is entirely hypothetical to me. But it seems entirely plausible, doesn’t it?

What do you think?

Performance Based Benefits

This Business Week article talks about shifting from pension to DB to 401k to (possibly) performance based benefits at the total compensation level (401k + health + salary + vacation time + etc).

Interesting stuff.

The idea of Total Compensation is a popular one these days as employers try to quantify everything they do for employees. The increased focus seems to come from rampant health insurance costs and possible tax ramifications. Remember, the idea of employee-based health care originally came from a way to skirt income tax.

The effect on us, the cubicle workers, is that if employers use this total number, your take home salary will go down as the increased cost of taxes and health care take up a greater percentage of your total compensation.

In the past year many companies have reduced or removed their retirement contributions to employees while simultaneously scaling back the amount they cover on health care. Start tracking what you pay and what your company pays. You may find yourself eventually working, not for a take home salary, but for health care for your family.

6 Money Myths

Money can’t buy you happiness.

It can buy you freedom to pursue your own happiness.

Money can’t buy you health.

It can pay for clean water, healthy food, time to exercise, freedom from
stress, and health care.

Money can’t buy you love.

It can significantly help those you love.

More money, more problems?

You get nicer problems, though. Inheritence tax is a nicer problem to have
than, say, choosing between buying food and paying a mortgage.

Money is the root of all evil.

Have you ever considered what the root of money is? It’s effort. Not all
effort is evil, efficient, or enobling. Effort is what you make it.

Time equals money.

Time is greater than money. You can’t make more time. You don’t even know
how much you have right now. It’s the scarcest resource, ever.

7 Secrets to Help You Learn Spanish Like Crazy

With Germany approaching, several people reading this site have been brushing up on or learning to speak German. The Mexico trip is also coming up this February so I am concentrating on rehabbing my Spanish. (I hope that I can muddle along with broken Portuguese in Brazil!) I found this 7 Secrets to Help You Learn Spanish Like Crazy listwhile looking around Amazon the other day. It works for Spanish, it should work for everything else. Hope you enjoy it.

Numero Uno: Immerse Yourself in Spanish

If you really want to learn Spanish, you need to immerse yourself in the
language and the culture. Do you know why you learned English (or your native language) so easily? It’s not just because you were a child when you embarked on your study of the English language. It’s mainly because you were submerged in it. As a child you heard English 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

If you could hear and speak Spanish 24 hours a day and 7 days a week you would also learn Spanish incredibly fast. Although it may be difficult for you to hear and speak Spanish 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, there are things you can do to help immerse yourself in the language.

Instead of listening to your favorite music station when you’re driving in
your car, play a Spanish instructional CD. Of course, if your favorite
music station happens to be a Salsa or Meringue radio station, you can
listen to the Spanish lessons CD some other time.

Numero Dos: Develop the Right Habits

This is probably the most important advice that I can give you about
learning Spanish or any other foreign language. More than anything else, your habits will determine how quickly you learn Spanish. In fact, your habits will determine if you actually learn the language or not.

Of course it helps if you have a language learning aptitude. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a language learning aptitude. But out of habit, every time I turned on my television it was tuned to Univision, Telefutura or HBO Latino. Out of habit, every time I got in my car the radio dial was set to the Latino radio station. If not, then a CD or an MP3 from a Spanish course was playing.

Out of habit, if I went out to a club it was a Salsa or Meringue club. If I went out to a restaurant, it was probably a Latin American restaurant. And if I was dating someone chances are she was a Latin American. If you develop and cultivate these habits, you will learn Spanish extremely fast.

Numero Tres: Learn Spanish the Same Way that You Learned English

This may come as a shock to you, but in the high schools and colleges in the U.S., the method that they are using to teach Spanish is all wrong.

If you want to learn Spanish, you must learn it the same way that you
learned English (or your native language). Let me you ask you a question. Which did you learn first: How to speak your native language or how to read and write it first? Of course you learned how to speak it first.

That’s the same way that you should learn Spanish.

Numero Cuatro: Relate to What You Already Know

Many words in Spanish are related to English. When you learn words in
Spanish and you relate them to words in English, it is much easier to
remember the Spanish words. For example, the word “beber” means to drink.

If you make a mental note or written note that the word “beber” is related to the English word “beverage” it is easier to remember. Here’s another example. The word “vegetales” is related to the English word “vegetables.”

If you make a note of this, the Spanish word “vegetales” will be much
easier to remember.

Numero Cinco: Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect is more than just a saying. It’s a language-learning reality. When we were children we were completely unaware of the emotion called “embarrassment.”

You have to take the same child-like attitude toward learning Spanish. You will make many mistakes. You will mispronounce words. You will use the wrong vocabulary. And you will make grammatical errors. But never let this hold you back from practicing your Spanish with a native speaker – even ifthe native is a total stranger.

Keep in mind that Rome was not built in a day. And neither was Madrid, San Juan, Santo Domingo, Cali, Mexico City, Colón, Havana or Buenos Aires.

Numero Seis: “But First You Must Believe . . .”

I don’t know if it was Peter Pan who first said this one, but I am going to borrow it. It is imperative that you believe in yourself and your ability to learn this beautiful language. I cannot overemphasize this point.

Numero Siete: And now for my favorite Learning-Spanish technique: Get a Latin Amor.

This technique may get you in a lot of trouble if you are already married
or otherwise in a committed relationship. In other words, this suggestion is only for the single people.

If you really want to learn Spanish quickly, find a “significant other”
that’s a native of a Spanish speaking country. Preferably, someone that
speaks very little or no English. This way you will be forced to listen to
and speak Spanish.

Numero Ocho: I know that I promised you seven but here’s eight:

If you stay focused and practice daily you will surely accomplish your goal of speaking Spanish proficiently or fluently. And you have total controlover whether you reach that goal in a year or two or a decade or two. I hope that these eight secrets will enable you to accomplish your goal as quickly as you desire.

What have you been doing to learn a language? What techniques have been helpful to you?

The Checked Luggage Hack

Checking luggage sucks. Not only for the fees you have to pay – each way! – but for the fact that once you give your luggage to the gate personnel, you stand a fair chance of never seeing those belongings again.

So, what if there was a way to check your luggage in a manner that let you not pay a fee AND greatly increased the chance of you and your clothes arriving at the same destination?

My Checked Luggage Hack

Sadly, I pack for weekend trips like I am scaling Everest. I am often checking luggage. My preference would be to use a piece of luggage that both A) backpack straps and B) fits into the overhead.

When I need extra carrying capacity on a pleasure trip, I will pack my LL Bean internal frame backpacker’s backpack. This gives me the portability I need so long as I am not too picky about wrinkled clothes.

Checking in and printing my boarding pass ahead of time on the carrier’s website is mandatory. I hate waiting in line and for this travel hack, you want to go straight to the line.

Bypassing check in in favor of the on-line variety allows you to walk straight up to the TSA and security agents and attempt the Jedi mind trick of getting all of your luggage past the screeners and walking straight through to the gate. My backpack is obviously bigger than the overhead compartments but I keep going through quietly, politely, and undaunted and see if I can get my backpack on the plane.

Next, you walk to your gate and offer to check your baggage rather than to try and cram it into the overhead. The flight attendants are usually overjoyed that a passenger is trying to be helpful with their turnaround for a change and will go out of their way to assist you.

This luggage hack does several things:

  1. It’s quick. Save time!
  2. No $15-$50 fee at the front – rarely do the gate agent ask for $15 if it doesn’t fit and I need to check it with the strollers. This saves serious $ if you can do it for both the departure and return flights.
  3. I know the @#$ing thing (my luggage) is on the same plane I am. I just saw them check it!
  4. Sometimes they ask for people to volunteer to put their carry ons in the hold (with the strollers, etc). As an incentive they sometimes offer bumps to 1st or 1st boarding. You get a bonus for achieving what you wanted all along!

Note that this does not work everywhere. The TSAs @ CLT let me get away with this but the ones in Philly don’t. If CLT has changed lately I’ll be forced to go check it at the front.

So what travel hacks do you have that save time or $?

Gas Mileage and Free Cars.

Here’s another item to consider with my pursuit of a free car: Gas.

My current car gets 20 miles / gallon. The to-be-free Kia should get over 30 miles / gallon. This will lead to additional projected savings making it even easier to get a ‘free car!’

For the record, this is how I check my actual miles per gallon:

  1. Fill up the tank
  2. Reset the odometer to zero miles.
  3. Drive until 1/4 tank left.
  4. Fill up again, noting the # of gallons.
  5. Divide the # of gallons by miles on the odometer.

So, how to see how much money 10 extra miles / gallon will save me?

I drive 20,000 miles per year. At 20 miles / gallon, this comes to be 1,000 gallons of gas. With the projected 30 miles / gallon, this now become (20,000 / 30) = 666 gallons used. If we average gas to $3 / gallon, this becomes a savings of $1000 per year.

Another few grand to my new, free car.

Maintenance on a 2001 Ford Explorer is currently around $2-3k a year. Theoretically, a new car will not need any such maintenance (aside from regular and customary) for several years. For example, the locks would work!

It’s not all roses, though. A new car has additional expenses that the current one will not.

1. Insurance.

I’m not sure, but a “new” free Kia may require more insurance than a 2001 SUV. Then again, why have collision on a free car?

Registration fees.

New license plate tags, new passes (not sure if I can get the HOA tag transferred or not.)

2. Damage.

I am very impatient. The roads around my house are awful. Currently I can drive over multiple potholes with abandon. I don’t think that will be an option with a Kia. Ice storms might get more interesting as well.