Tuesday, August 21, 2007

66 Goals in 1001 Days - 3 Month Update

Here is an update to my list of goals that I originally posted here. Numbers that are missing are goals that were complete before the last update

1. Read the complete archive of The Simple Dollar Website DONE August 14, 2007

I work in a low/medium volume call centre, so downtime between calls gave a perfect opportunity to go through the archives. As I went, I jotted down articles that I found interesting and would read again at a future date. Some may form the basis for my own posts.

2. Obtain my Bachelor of Education Degree

3. Sort through my comic books and see which ones can get the boot Started June 17, 2007

Currently I have 8 short boxes and 2 long boxes of single comics. On this date I went through all of them and immediately cut 4 short boxes worth of issues to get rid of.

4. Read the complete works of William Shakespeare

6. Make my own windex

7. Have $18,000 in savings IN PROGRESS

Viewing this goal may be unrealistic with school costs...I will think about it and re-evaluate.

8. Measure my body fat percentage in some scientific fashion

I plan to purchase one of the scales that measures body fat as well as weight after researching whether or not they actually work.

9. Become lighter by on average 0.5 pounds a week

10. Get Married

11. Open an RRSP

Deciding whether to get one now for compound reasons or hold off until I need the tax break and contribute several "back-years" worth all at once. Apparently if I start one now and expect my income to increase significantly in the future (I do), then I will be taxed a higher rate than I was paying when I put it in, negating the benefit. However, this will have to be evaluated against both the growth of the RRSP and inflation.

12. Invest in a mutual fund IN PROGRESS

The first step here is to become educated on the subject and I've chosen The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing and you can read a review here.

13. Buy stock in a single company

14. Liquidate unwatched DVDs IN PROGRESS

This process has been made much easier due to the move to our new apartment in June. A move is a very nice excuse to go through old junk and get rid of it.

15. Purchase a Paderno pot set IN PROGRESS

We had set up a "Big Item Account" in May for this very purpose. Essentially we put $25 per week into the account until we have enough for the set free and clear (ie. no consumer debt). However, some car maintenance and an impromptu trip to Halifax has made it so we can not achieve this until next summer when the next Blowout sale is.

16. Beat Halo 2

17. Beat Jet Set Radio Future

18. Get rid of my old computer

19. Liquidate old books SEE #14

20. Make 5 homemade gifts for people for various events (birthdays, Christmas, etc...) (1/5)

1. Book of Coupons for Mother's Day

21. Go on 10 relaxing drives around the island with Pam (0/10)

22. Get in touch with Jon Ben DONE August 2, 2007

- he was online in MSN and we got caught up. This may or may not have been provoked by my entry into the Facebook world. He also promted me to think about veganism which is a very interesting topic.

23. Walk the equivalent of Summerside to Toronto not including every day walking (104.3/1700 km)

I've decided to include biking in here as well because I enjoy that MUCH more. I purchased an odometer for my bike and it seems to be pretty accurate, so I will be using that to chart my progress. FYI my average bike ride is about 12-15 km.

24. Watch Season 1 of The Shield

25. Read the Complete Cerebus series (4/16 TPBs)

26. Talk to Sam about his history with money

27. Plant and grow my own tomatoes

28. Visit Neil in Halifax DONE August 4, 2007

We went over on a somewhat impromptu trip. My fiance was wrapping up her vacation and we hadn't really done much together as I was working most of it. She mentioned going and we made a weekend of it, visiting Neil on the Saturday and driving around, seeing the sights on Sunday. It was good we got to do this as Neil is heading to Manitoba soon and there may not have been many other opportunities. Plus we did several things that saved us money on the trip which may be the subject of a future post.

29. Vacation in Vancouver

30. Play 5 games of Ultimate Frisbee (0/5)

31. Cook 12 romantic dinners for my fiance and I (0/12)

32. Become an Ebay seller

33. Open an online trader account

34. Get flowers for my fiance "just because" 5 times (2/5)

35. Paint another 2 paintings in the Bob Ross style (0/2)

36. Do 100 push-ups without taking a break (personal best: 21/100)

37. Spend 10 complete days with my fiance (2/10)

38. Help my fiance's parents clean out a room in their house

39. Write an e-mail to the Guardian about why I won't be voting in the upcoming provincial election DONE May 24, 2007

Here is a transcript of the Letter to the Editor that I sent in:

Yesterday I decided that I would spoil my ballot in the upcoming election. Not because I didn’t want to vote for a candidate, but because I found out that district 23 only offered two options. Guess which ones? I was very frustrated that I could not support the Green Party with my vote. I feel that this is the fault of our current electoral system.

But wait, the Green Party could have run a candidate in district 23 so it must be their fault right? To that, one has to remember that the Green Party has somewhat non-traditional views on major topics. Thus I imagine that they have met with much resistance when trying to change the minds of stubborn islanders when finding possible candidates. In fact, I applaud the party for managing to have candidates in 2/3 of the districts.

So why am I so upset? I think that every islander should have the opportunity to choose between each and every party that will have a say in the governing of our province. I realize that Islanders had the opportunity to change the electoral system to mixed-member proportional representation and that it was strongly voted down. From what I can tell (I was in BC at the time), this was from the lack of quality information about what Islanders were actually voting on. A change so drastic should have warranted a media bombardment of information so that Islanders could go to the polls knowing full well that such a system was in the best interest of the Island. But we do not have such a system. We have to work with the district method. I do not particularly care if a Green Party candidate lives in my district, so long as I could help get someone elected from the one party that most reflects my opinions and values.

And that’s what voting should be: an extension of ones own values and goals. Often I’ve heard people say that they would not vote NDP or Green because those parties would not win anyways, so why bother. These people want to be on the “winning team” and fail to realize how valuable their votes actually are.

With that in mind, if you belong to districts 3, 14, 23, 25, or 27, where you will only have the choice between Liberal or PC, really consider whether those parties have platforms that are reflections of your own beliefs. If they are, then by all means mark a neat little “X” on your ballot. But if you find these parties to be lacking in an area that you feel is important, please do not let them steal your vote. That is exactly what they are doing if you do not agree with their politics but vote for them anyways.

40. Offer to babysit 3 times for my friends so they can go out (0/3)

41. Call Mastercard to see if I can get lower or no annual fees without changing cards DONE August 8, 2007 (sort of)

I didn't bother with this and instead told them to downgrade my service to the 1 air mile per $40 option that has no annual fees. I also removed the preferred interest rate option of 12.5% as it cost $25. There is no point when paying off the card each month. Unfortunately this means that I've lost the ability to fly anywhere Westjet flies for 1600 air miles. Since we wouldn't be going on the trip we have in mind for 2 years, that's fine as I can upgrade the card again later, skipping out on 2 years of fees.

42. Write a letter/e-mail to the guardian explaining my thoughts on the Nitrate groundwater issue and why debating about it in the upcoming election instead of just fixing it is stupid DONE May 25, 2007

Here is a transcript of the Letter to the Editor that I sent in:

The Nitrate problem in our province's water supply is nothing new. Not only have we known about the dangers of chemical contamination for years on the island, but this problem extends to anywhere in North America where there is a highly developed agricultural sector.

So why are the Liberals and Conservatives acting like this is a new problem? Why are do these parties insist on studies and committees? Just. Fix. It. You do not even need to come up with a new idea to do so. A simple Google search of "nitrate removal groundwater and side effects" yields a result about a company in the US (Basin Water Inc) that specializes in the removal of water contaminants. Nitrates have been removed from several communities in the states so why can't this ion-exchange system work here? It's relatively cheap, efficient, and low maintenance. I believe that this filtration system would bring down nitrate levels. Coupling this with legislation to curb the addition of new nitrates into our water supply would revert our island back to the pristine condition it was always meant to be. So I have a message to all parties that fail to follow through with concrete solutions: stop trying to re-invent the wheel.

As a bonus, the above letter, slightly edited, appeared in the May 29, 2007 edition of The Guardian.

43. Write an e-mail explaining to Diamond Publishing why Comic Foundry should be included in their catalog

Rendered MOOT because of online community's much faster response which actually convinced Diamond to offer it in the catalog.

44. Plant a tree

45. Attend a farmer's market and if I like what I see 30 more times (2/30) IN PROGRESS

First visit on June 9, 2007. Was not impressed but it was early in the growing season.

I returned several weeks later and it was a much more positive experience. I purchased the best green onions that I have ever had, tomatoes, snow peas, and fresh homemade pasta. I'll definitely be there again.

46. Determine my personal CO2 emissions (estimate)

47. Reduce those emissions by 20%

48. Convince 5 people to switch to PC Financial for their banking (1/5)

1. Matt Angus, a student that works at Resolve

49. Go through unwanted clothing and donate it to the salvation army DONE August 17, 2007

On my birthday, I did a whirlwind clean of the apartment and realized that the box of clothes I had set aside when we first moved in exactly for this purpose, was still, well, set aside and unchanged. Thus I took to box of clothing and donated it to Value Village as the Salvation Army in Charlottetown does not take clothing to my knowledge.

50. Reinforce my computer desk with a 2x4 to get the bow out of it DONE May 22, 2007

I went to my friend Mark's place because I knew he had some wood leftover from when we built a gaming table. He let me have about a 3 foot length and we attached it to the desk and it did the trick. As a bonus we put together a bench and did a rough layout for his basement renovation.

51. Reinforce my makeshift TV stand so it doesn't get a bow in it DONE May 30, 2007

Same as #50: used spare lumber from Mark and attached it with carpenter's glue and screws.

52. Read 52 in one sitting to see if it makes much sense

53. Make 10 jars of homemade pasta sauce and give it as gifts (0/10)

I may modify this and include homemade salsa in the 10 jars.

54. Finish the few pieces of the puzzle for the paper based on my masters project

55. Do 150 sit-ups without taking a break (personal best 20/150)

56. Wash and wax our car 4 times (1/4)

57. Clean and vacuum the car interior 4 times (0/4)

58. Check the car's air filter and replace/clean if needed 4 times (every 6 months) (1/4)

59. Calculate our net worth

60. Attempt to make my own laundry detergent as per the Simple Dollar DONE June 13, 2007

Made 1/4 batch to see how it worked and it was very successful albeit very gross as the detergent is a very slimy goop. I did this twice and realized that it wasn't very time efficient to make 1/4 batches, so I purchased a 10.5 L bucket and made a 3/4 batch which should last a good while.

61. Have the only animal I eat be fish/seafood for 4 consecutive months

62. Have my only beverage as water for 8 consecutive months

63. Try being a vegetarian for 5 consecutive months (no animal flesh - eggs/milk/cheese OK)

64. Organize our filing container IN PROGRESS

65. Pay off completely the debt I expect to incur over the next 2 years from my Bachelor of Education degree

66. Sit down and work the numbers to see if my Mosaik Mastercard is worth paying $100/year for it

This goes hand in hand with #41 except by downgrading the card and not paying this year's fees, it gives me some time to actually do this.

New Goals

67. Help Mark finish his basement

68. Obtain my class 4 license so that when I get a teaching job, I am qualified to drive a bunch of kids on field trips etc...

69. Catalog our possessions for insurance purposes

70. Search for the best rate on tenants insurance and purchase a policy DONE August 14, 2007

I didn't do much research into different companies but rather signed up for tenants insurance with our auto insurance provider. Doing so saw a 3% reduction in our auto insurance costs which means the net monthly cost for the new insurance is about $2.50. Not too shabby.

71. Learn how to swim

Total goals complete (12/71)


schaef said...

What? No "Visit Schaefer in Calgary" goal? Dream the impossible dream!

Congrats on writing some letters to the editor on some somewhat touchy issues. It's one thing to rant and complain about something to your friends and family, but to put your words out there for the general public to see is quite another. It's good to see that not everybody wusses out when they state their opinion for the record.

With regards to the nitrate issue, I'm sure it's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ecological woes resulting from the commercial agriculture practiced on PEI. Don't forget about run-off into creeks and rivers, overuse of pesticides/herbacides/fungacides, use of said chemicals on windy days, habitat destruction in general and etc. I'm also sure one of my sisters could elaborate on these subjects in a more detailed manner.

/to the sickos at modern bride magazine

Sam Arsenault said...

I spoke with a personal trainer in Ontario who pointed out that the body fat scales measure the electrical resistance of your body by sending a small current through your feet. If you think about this it's pretty likely the current is traveling up one leg, across the groin and down the other. Thus be aware that this method is likely giving a body fat percentage reading more influenced by stored fat on your lower body than upper body. On some individuals their body fat may be somewhat evenly distributed between the upper and lower bodies while on others it will be scewed one way or the other.

However, that said I believe the Gold Standard in body fat measurement is the water tank float method in which Homer was eating the fried chicken. Obviously not a convinient option for home. I know some people who judge their body fat loss by the mirror and by using a tape measure around a few select areas such as say waist and hips. Apparently learning how to do a skin fold test with calipers is also pretty reliable.

Sam Arsenault said...

I'm really curious about number 63, the vegetarian one. I would be curious to know if it makes us feel better. I read something that made a ton of sense the other day on the blog of a girl I find very annoying - "The right foods to eat are the ones that make you feel good, not the ones that should make you feel good."