Minimal

Why I don’t have a cell phone.

My mother recently got a cell phone and sent some of me her first texts just a few months ago, I find it somewhat synchronize that I’ve decided at the same time to give up my cell phone and move back to a basic landline (well voip). I’ve been toying and experimenting with the idea for sometime and have decided to take the plunge.

I mentioned I was getting rid of my cell phone at work the other day and have rarely seen such looks of total disbelief and , dare I say, horror? So I thought I’d put together this post detailing why I have decided to eliminate a cell phone from my daily usage.

Dependence/addiction

I’ve always been a big advocate of trying a fast of certain things, it might be TV, booze, sex, facebook, fastfood, but I think it’s important to test ourselves occasionally in order to find out if things are really improving our lives. I don’t think people realize just how addicted they are to their cell phone….people DIE or KILL others because they can’t wait a few minutes to get to their destination and would rather focus on typing out a text while driving a several thousand pounds of steel down the freeway….think about that…serious? Even when I had my cell I would at least toss it into the backseat while driving.

The other day I saw someone at work (who commutes 40 minutes one way) hop into her car in a panic to drive home and pick up her forgotten cell phone once she got to work…now keep in mind…this person did not have any pressing scenario where this was required…and she sat at a desk with a phone only a few inches from her hand….

On the weekend I attended a fantastic little backyard bbq put on by some great friends here but the entire time a couple sat by the firepit and stared down at their phones…the husband and wife never talking to anyone else except in a few grunts, maybe an occasionally chuckle as they’d show each other a pinterest or funny cat in a hat…totally ignoring all others around them..even their kid screaming and running around in circles…not forming new memories but merely trying to sort through an immense and endless library of strangers experiences.

I think people have an intense fear of being left out..even when they are out with people they will still think that there is something else..someone else….that would complete this experience so are never in the NOW but always in the “what if…”. I experienced this myself the other day when I was sitting by myself at a favourite haunt…I kept thinking “if I only had my cell…if I was only connected….then I could reach out or tell the world where I was……” and then all of my friends and strangers would join me….and interrupt the book I was enjoying reading….. I had one friend that would always invite me out for a beer…but then I’d get there and she’d be on her phone trying to get someone else down…then they would get here…then back on the phone…get another one…one more…another one…..one more…then do a quick selfie and photoshoot to put on your social media highlight reel then walk out…..all the time only being partial involved again in the NOW of the moment.

People got along without cell phones and an instant connection for generations and arguably where able to form better, longer lasting, more substantial relationships without them than we do today.

Finances:

I realize that worldwide cell service is fairly competitive but here in Canada..it just blows….Janelle and I both had cell phones since 2004 through Rogers…let’s say our average bill was $170 a month (very low estimate) for both of them…that means I’ve spent over $20,000 on cell phones in the last decade….do I feel that was a worthwhile investment? Maybe…but when I really started paying attention to my bill this last year I realized I only sent maybe 15 texts a month…and my talk time sometimes was only 30 minutes or less….data was used up…but frankly mostly on stupid stuff that I don’t really feel make me a better person (hello chive).

Switching to a landline will cost me about $4 a month…in total..and because I am using a VOIP service it’s actually still quite a bit more robust (despit some quirks) than a normal phone #

$4 vs $175 a month….savings of approx $2050 a year…I’m checking flight centre right now and that means if Janelle and I could do this…we could fly to Hawaii for a week ($1050 roundtrip for both of us) and still have a grand left to spend the a week exploring the island….HELL YAH…or just retire a year early…

Money is energy in a manner of speaking, choose carefully where you want to spend it.

Health: 

First of, I should say I am a rationale, analytical skeptic and am very doubtful of claims that cell phones cause health issues…but on the other hand…..the medical community as a whole doesn’t have a great track record of getting things correct (4 out of 5 doctors recommend camels) so one less thing to be close to my nads or brain can’t be anything but good.

Privacy:

Tinfoil hat much? I dunno….I don’t have much to hide but I’ll admit I use cash for pretty much everything and all my data is pretty encrypted. While I am a Canadian so don’t live in quite the Orwellian society that the US is becoming I still place a high value on my privacy and don’t think any government should be able to track it’s citizen’s usage to the extent they are likely doing.  Less cell phone use = more privacy.

Environmental/Cultural Awareness:

Cell Phones are not good for the environment, they are a perfect example of planned obsolesce with model and after model being introduced with minor incremental changes but due to their marketing and social pressure one must never be caught with last seasons model. These things are full of lead, copper, cobalt and other nasty heavy metals. Metals that are often mined in significantly poorer countries with lax workplace regulation…then when these phones are “recycled” they are again sent back to these same countries.

Conclusion:

Don’t text me, I won’t get it. You can use one of a half dozen other ways to get ahold of me and can still dial my number, leave a message and I’ll return it (if I want) pretty quick. Even come knock on my door once in awhile and come in and we can have a conversation over a cup of tea. I might end up going back to my cell phone someday…they can be pretty fun and a useful tool…but at this time in my life it just doesn’t make sense to me right now. Can I suggest you try going without your cell # for a couple of days? You might realize you have an issue or at that very least that owning a cell phone is an assumption that should be challenged.

and yes…I think I will survive when my car breaks down on the side of the road…I doubt I will starve to death…

 

Bizarro-in-heaven-without-cell-phones

 

 

Commute

I commute an average of 25.4 minutes to work according to google tracks, one way, each and every day that I work. My job could easily be done remotely without me having to get in the car…but I do because that is the way it is supposed to be done…

With only a bit or irony the average amount that an average Canadian commutes…according to statscan is..

 In 2011, commuters spent an average of 25.4 minutes travelling to work. This was almost the same as the average in the United States for the same year (25.5 minutes).Note3

source

Scott Adams once said (and I paraphrase) that you can live in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood…or you can have a good job…but the two could never be close together…..and for that reason we move from our cubed houses to our cubed cars…driving them down straight roads to other cubed building to sit in a small grey cube and type on a cube into a viewing cube…cubes..

Anyways…for reasons I can’t quite pin point I’ve decided to walk from my home in Allendale Edmonton to my job…which is in the far North East…pretty much in St. Albert….I estimate it will take me about 4 hours to get there….nonstop….each way….

Getting in a car and transporting yourself great distances with relative ease is easy…so easy we don’t even think about it…at my work it’s totally normal for 15 cars…weighing an combined total of close to 100,000 pounds….drive an average of 2.2km at lunch…..to buy about 10 pounds of shitty food…and then drive back…..and we think nothing of it.

That’s the equivalent of 100 blue whale testicles rolling down the highway!!!

source

So I’m decided that I am going to walk across the city to my work….the average distance an average Canadian commutes on September 18th…it’s a long walk…I figure it will take me about 4 hours each way…but I really think it’s going to give me a perspective just on how much we rely on the old fossil fuels…so yes…doing it.

Along the way I plan to post a few pictures to my twitter account (@justindechaine) unless it’s suspended…which it often is….because I seem to post some pretty pro ISIS type content on there….even though I don’t recall doing it…

I’m hoping to stop at a few places so if you are anywhere on the route (or close to it) feel free to offer me a muffin or a cup of coffee along my travels.

approx route

 

Optimism + disposition + outlook

I’ve managed to chisel out just about all the people who I have identified as just down right negative…I realize that sometimes we all go through negative streaks and that our friends or family have to put up with that and help bring us out of  our funks…but I’ve also come to realize that some people are just negative and what I am going to call energy vampires (not the new age style)…people who consistently surround themselves and perpetuate negativity…..

You might be one of those people if “everyone is always out to get you” if every single boss you’ve ever had “was always an idiot” or if you are constantly having “its just bad luck” type circumstances….

The world is a pretty amazing place and I got to say that most of us here in Canada are playing life at the “easy setting”. I know two people who are reasonably close to me who have spent time in two different refugee camps and who also happen to be two of the most optimist go lucky people ever. It’s actually kind of shocking sometimes as you forget just how much adversity they have had to go through but sometimes I think it actually has helped them truly decide to live a more intentional and deliberate life full of good and meaning.

I know sometimes I get down and depressed if I don’t feel like I’m paying off debt fast enough or if I can’t afford to go on a vacation or do something I know I would really enjoy.

Today I was taking a first aid class and the teacher was talking about how we never quite now how we would all react in the circumstance of a real emergency were there might be blood or burns or people stressing out and she kind of poked my buddy a bit and he calmly stated “no, there is nothing that I could see today that would throw me for much of a loop” and she kind kept pressing him before he simply stated that he had grown up on “BiDong” island as a Vietnam war refugee and had seen most of his family raped, tortured and literally set on fire by the time he was 10.

It puts things into a real perspective when you bump into a story like this and you realize that true human misery isn’t always just a movie on TV or some abstract concept. People you likely interact with everyday have went through some horrendous things and come out on the other side being beautiful intentional people.

Don’t spend too long feeling sad for yourself, get up and do some good if you have the ability. Suffering has the ability to make you bitter or enlightened in so many ways, you ultimately are responsible for choosing.

 

 

 

You don’t need money to be happy

moneybunny

 

Finances and money have always been an interesting topic to me but one that I only really recently seemed to have taken seriously.

You’re the boss!

While I don’t blame my parents or the school system I grew up in I have to preface this post by saying I am stunning at the lack of free knowledgeable information about finances. For many people it’s a taboo topic, rude to be discussed that puts people on the defensive. I also feel that sometimes people just don’t get a grasp on their finances until much later in life though by learning some basic concepts earlier it can make everything easier.

It’s also important to note that your own financial freedom is most important to….YOU! and only you. While financial advisors are great resources given the right circumstances your own financial goals are not always aligned. Don’t forget how they get paid, by commissions on products to be sold to you! Under no circumstance (maybe forced savings…) is it a good idea to take out a loan at 18% to buy an investment at 5% interest…

Everyone might have a different method that works for them but Janelle and I have a monthly tracking sheet now that we put together and talk about for a few minutes every month. It really allows both of us to understand where our money goes each month and gives us the ability to adjust things as we go on.

 

Money Leaks

One of the best financial metaphors along the lines that you were nuts if you thought the best way to fill a bathtub with holes was just to keep dumping water into it which is how so many of us approach finances. We keep working longer and harder to make more money and throw in more buckets of water but never stop to take a good look at this tub that has the holes in it were all our hardwork is just running out.

I remember having so many different debts I just didn’t know the entire amount I owed up and it actually took a considerable amount of work to gather all that information. How do you even begin to have a plan if you don’t know where you are starting from?

I’ve also realized that since I am not good at being too organize or paying bills on time (oh yeah, I’ll pay this tomorrow then I lose it then BAM $25 late charge next month) that one of the best things we did is have every single one of our bills hit our credit card…then once a month I just make a single payment to that…no more missed payments, overdraft or other charges.

 

Resources I would suggest:

There is a huge amount of resources out there including family members, friends, books and website were you can learn all about different financial methods that would have a direct impact on you. Most of it is just being willing to ask for help and guidance and taking off the blinders.

I really enjoy books by Chuck Yeager, the wealthy Barber, Smoke & Mirrors and anything by Bill Waterson as good resources.

Crystal Ball:

You never really know where you are going to end up…so save and make smart decisions but be aware you never know what’s going to happen. A friend of mine just passed on at the age of 34…went to bed in his brand new 2300 sqft house with his stay at home wife and two kids…never woke up….totally shocking and going to be a huge difficulty for those he left behind.

Or maybe you after 40 years of marriage you’ll grow apart or start a successful business…or your successful business will fail…all kinds of things can and will happen. If anything is predictable it’s that life is unpredictable…

 

 

 

Buy quality

People often like to point out when I buy things or when they see something that could be perceived as redundant in my house and go “ah ha, I thought you were a minimalist!” as if they caught me and I’ll get down off of my soap box.

The thing is that there is a big difference between consumerism and consumption..consumption is required…I need materials and items…consumerism (which I’ll define as “the preoccupation of society with the acquisition of consumer goods”) is not required.

Over the last two years I have made big steps in acquiring only high quality long lasting items when I need to replace them or buy something new.

I have a single pen, made by a craftsman that I use now instead of throwing out dozens of pens throughout a year.

I spent more on a couple of kitchen knifes than I did on my first bicycle, but I’m going to keep (and care) for these things forever.

Instead of using our old kitchenaid blender we got a Blendtec (better than Vitamix) (and spent more than my first car)

I also just spent way too much time researching a rechargeable battery charger…but in the end…I end up with “the best” one on the planet and only for a bit more than I would have regularly spent…I also found a place that sells it locally so that’s an extra good time.

MX37533-0

Minimalism (in my opinion) isn’t about not buying things…but it’s about being aware of every purchase you make and trying to weigh the gain/loss of that purchase (for yourself and society at large)

While there is such a thing as analysis paralysis I think it’s on each of us to spend even just a few minutes doing some research before whipping out the wallet.

(As a reference the ecoholic series of books are a great reference guide for many purchases)