Tiny House Realities: Part 1

Today, I’m featuring a guest post. The author is my wife. I’ll soon be posting a companion piece of my own, which will be part 2.

Original Post Here

I have too many dreams.

So many dreams.

I live in a cabin in the woods in Idaho. I live in France in a big house in the countryside. I live in London, or Stockholm, or Copenhagen. I don’t own a car. I bike everywhere, I shop at marketplaces, I challenge my brain by speaking another language.

I collect most of these dreams from the Internet. You know why? You do know why. It’s the inherent understanding everyone has when they sign on. It goes like this:

Everyone’s life is better than yours.

Online is a dangerous place.

I had the nicest email from a reader the other day, truly, and I don’t want to make light of how good the note made me feel, and how happy I am to have inspired him. The note said that Casey and I were living his dream in regards to the tiny house and the cabin. In that particular moment, I wanted to write back and say “We’ll sell it all to you right now. How much?”

You see, living differently has a price. It’s painful. It is sacrifice and sweat and blood and tears and I mean all four of those literally. It’s emotional pain. It’s physical pain. And because it’s different, you have no one to guide you or support you but yourself because everyone around you is in a normal house, with a mortgage, at a normal job where you get paid every two weeks as long as you show up and contribute a bit here and there.

The Bucolic Plague is a book I turn to in my moments of utmost desperation. I realize now that I turn to it because its author is telling the truth, and in my moments of desperation, I need to hear someone telling the truth. Telling the truth is something I’ve been scared to do here. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want advice. I don’t want assistance. I don’t want to feel I have to qualify my words or decisions to anyone. I’m scared to write this, but I can’t contribute an incomplete picture anymore. I see it too often on the digital pages I visit. I go online seeking connection. To people. To their stories. When I read only stories about perfection, I feel inadequate. I can’t play with that game any longer. You’ve heard about the good stuff. This post is showing another side.

My life is not perfect. Money is up and down and up again. Being self-employed and owning two small businesses is work times work times work. Being self-employed doesn’t mean that you don’t have a boss, and that things are free-wheeling and flexible and four-hours-of-work-a-week (I despise Tim Ferriss and every ounce of the bullshit that he is selling people. I don’t say that lightly). Self-employment means that every day is like scratching up a wall, and that wall is yourself. You have to decide what comes next. What the best course of action is. You can work 18 hour days for weeks making products for a three day craft fair. You can sit at that craft fair for three days with cigarette smoke swirling around you and loud bands blaring across the street and another vendor coming over to scream at you intermittently and then you walk away from those three days with $310 in your pocket. Minus the Square fee. Minus the tire replacement from the drive up and back and up and back and up and back. Minus gas for those 200 miles. Minus food because you were too busy to pack two meals times three days. Minus sales tax. Minus income tax. Minus self-employment tax.

Who wants to go halvsies on a package of Orbit? I’ll bring the coupon.

Then there’s the tiny house.

Building a tiny house is not picturesque. It sucks. Anyone who tells you differently is either balls-out lying, wants to sell you an e-course, or has had their memory genuinely clouded by a combination of time, nostalgia, and hindsight. Every fucking bit of building a tiny house sucks, and if you’re not careful, it becomes a sacred cow on wheels, a cow you genuflect to daily with blood sacrifice from your bank account and saline tears from your eyeballs and sweat glands.

Then there’s the part of my life that I don’t talk about because I think it’s boring. It’s the part that looks just like yours.

Our car needed over 1k of repairs this week. We got screwed royally by a shop that received great reviews and recommendations. We took our perfectly functioning car in for needed maintenance, and drove away with brakes that don’t work properly. Casey drove it back and was told it must be a coincidence and that the car rolling four feet after braking to a complete stop didn’t seem “that bad.” As of this moment, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it. It’s not just the money. It’s literally “We’ve seen every independent mechanic in town and been screwed at all of them. What in the hell do we do now?” My dad says our car issues are a first world problem. I don’t entirely agree with him. Being in a city where having a car is mandatory, when it’s how you get to the store and to clients and jobs and money, when you’re in a system that pretty much presents no other way…I don’t see that as a first world problem. I think FWPs are things that any person, anywhere could absolutely be living without at any time, but they’re complaining about having to deal with it. “Oh, I snapped another pair of my Gucci heels today!” “The barista never gets the temperature right on my drink order” or my favorite FWP meme: “I broke my iPad…by dropping my iPhone on it.”

I digress.

Ah, the joys of alternative living. Breaking the mold! Stepping outside the box! Living your best life! Simplify, simplify, simplify! I even found myself earlier thinking “If only we had decided to build a teardrop trailer that could be pulled by bicycles. Then our lives would actually be simple and better.” Again with those dreams. This is what I’ve realized: I don’t know if “the simple life” is even real. I don’t think it is. Even if you own one shirt, a bike, a backpack, and a pair of shoes, life is never simple. Anyone who tries to sell the simple life to you for either money or page views is, well, selling it to you. Never, ever forget that.

I have so many dreams. London, Stockholm, Copenhagen. Then the fantasy stops. Money must still be made in Copenhagen. No car, but rent and everything else is much more expensive. You’ve left all of your friends and must make new ones. You still have a chronic illness, it’s the end of your cycle and your fatigue is rapidly returning like a dust storm waiting to settle into every muscle and bone in your body. Also, fall is coming. The sun just left. This is Copenhagen, so you’ll see it again sometime next July.

I said above that living differently has a price. But that’s not fair. All living has a price. I want to stop selling the notion that there is a way to live that doesn’t.

https://iamchesapeake.com/2013/07/tell-the-truth-tell-the-truth-tell-the-truth-what-its-really-like-to-be-self-employed-and-building-a-tiny-house/

06 Beetle TDI Maintenance

Home Made Cribbing Blocks 2 - The Rich Life

It all started with a flat tire. We were in Austin for a craft show during SXSW, and when I went up to get the car from the parking garage, one of the tires was completely flat. It sucked.

We put on the spare tire, which turned out to also be completely flat. Lame again. After further inspection of the tires, it became quite apparent that they were in pretty terrible shape. Cracks all over them, and although they had enough tread left, the cracked rubber look was enough to worry us that another tire might lose all of its air soon too.

Beetle Cracked Tires

So we promptly went to Discount Tire to get some new tires. I settled on the Yokohama YK580 model. It was one of 2 fitting tires rated LRR (low rolling resistance). This is allegedly good for better MPG, and if I’m going to be driving a TDI, it’s going to get good gas mileage, dammit!

Back to my Shade Tree Mechanic Roots

I have always enjoyed working on cars. I worked on my Volvo S70 for a good 500 hours minimum, I would guess. I put a lot of time into many different jobs – shocks, tie rods, CV boots, fuel injector seals, pumps, brakes, etc. It sucked that the car broke down so much, but I really enjoyed fixing things on my own.

After replacing the tires, I thought about the upcoming 80k service for our Beetle. It involves a DSG transmission flush, oil change, new filters, etc. We also have a malfunctioning thermostat. AND we need a new timing belt. This whole service will be north of $2,000. Yikes!

I found a fantastic TDI reference site, and I looked up what it takes to replace the thermostat in my car.

Oh my god, it’s such a simple job. And the dealer quoted me $602 to perform the repair! I went out to ID Parts and got the required materials for $111.59, shipped. That’s $490.41 saved instantly. Amazing.

Building the Cribbing Blocks for Car Maintenance

Home made Cribbing Blocks - The Rich Life

The one thing that sucks about having a car so low to the ground is that you can’t get under it easily. Enjoying what I’d learned so far from MyTurboDiesel.com, I came across a great how-to article on building “cribbing blocks” for your car.

It turns out that relying on just a floor jack – or even cinder blocks – is an unsafe plan. These cribbing blocks (wooden jack stands) can handle the load much more efficiently. You jack your car up and put them under the tires, so you effectively get even more clearance than you would from a floor jack and jack stands alone, since the cribbing blocks go underneath the tires.

Since I have been feeling very DIY lately, I decided that it would be a great idea to have these cribbing blocks on hand for any time I want to do routine maintenance on our car (whatever car that might be, at the time). They even all fit in the back of our Beetle!

Home Made Cribbing Blocks 2 - The Rich Life

Dual Purpose: We can also use these cribbing blocks to jack up the corners of the tiny house on the concrete slab it sits on!

DSG 40k Service

As it turns out, performing a DSG transmission flush ($800 quoted by the dealer) is as simple as unscrewing the drain plug underneath the car and measuring how much fluid is drained, then pouring that much new fluid in the top of the car and replacing the filter.

ID Parts sells a DSG Service Kit, which includes all the fluid necessary and a filter – for $120. That’s $680 saved if I do it myself.

DSG Service Kit - ID Parts

What’s Next?

We found a potential spot to park our tiny house and live, and it happens to be in an area that doesn’t have a paved road all the way to the lot. Since there are plenty of rocks along the way, our defenseless oil pan will need some more protecting. There’s a great company called DieselGeek that makes Panzer skid plates for Beetle TDIs. The coolest part? They’re in San Antonio!

I’ll be getting one of those to make sure we don’t incur any unnecessary damage to the underside of the beetle. Also, doesn’t it just really look like the front of The Rock’s truck in Fast Five (and 6)? Badass.

Dieselgeek Panzer Plate New Beetle

Once that’s on, the only thing left to do will be to convert our Beetle into an off-road monster. I leave you with this final picture of inspiration.

NB TDI PD Lift Big Tires

Retina MacBook Pro vs 17″ MacBook Pro Antiglare

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17

Special note:  All images in this post are retina ready!

I’m always buying and reselling things, my favorite of which are Mac computers.  I love trying out new iMacs and MacBook Pros to see which fit my work flow the best.  Just last week, I came across a ridiculous deal on an open-box retina MacBook Pro, so I decided to order it and see how it runs.

I’ve been using a 2.3GHz quad-i7 MacBook Pro 17, with an antiglare screen, so I’ve been quite spoiled as far as performance and quality go.  The question is, can this new Retina MacBook Pro with less ports and a smaller screen meet my need for full-on computer awesomeness.

I’ve spent a few days with the machine, and these are my impressions.

Video Review

Physical Properties

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17 Antiglare

Weight

Let’s face it. The new retina MacBook Pro is light.  It’s over two pounds lighter than the 17″ MacBook Pro.  I know I’m not comparing it to the 15″ model, but if you’re serious about your work, you probably work on a 17″ machine.

2 lbs is a huge weight drop.  It’s incredibly noticeable when you pick the laptop up that it’s saving as much weight as possible.  This has as much to do with the loss of a spinning HDD and optical drive as it does with the new design, and of course a little bit of Apple magic.

The 17″ MacBook Pro is quite heavy, at 6.6 lbs.  When I carry it around, I definitely feel its girth, and I know that if I drop it, there will be significantly more damage to it than to a lighter device.  It also feels very solid, so there’s a tradeoff, if you’re going for solid.

Thickness

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17

How thin is thin?  The retina MacBook Pro is ridiculously thin, for a Pro machine.  It’s 0.71″ thick at it’s thickest point.  The 17″ is 0.98″ thick, which we can just round off to 1″.  Thirty percent decrease in thickness.  It really feels like a MacBook Air when I’m holding it.

I always wonder if Apple will continue to make their devices thinner and thinner until the iPods are just printed on a sheet of paper that you can lose like a business card.  It sure seems to be going that way, and this new MacBook Pro is no exception.  It looks stupidly thin.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing!  It’s just getting to a point where I actually wonder if this thin-madness will ever end.

Retina MacBook Pro next to 80GB iPod 5.5G

Mr. MBP 17″ is not so thick, himself.  At an inch thick (for the specs you can get), it’s a nicely packaged device; however, seeing that the 17″ is packing a 2.3GHz quad-i7, while the 15″ is packing a 2.6 quad-i7… it just doesn’t seem possible.

I/O (or, the ports)

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17 Antiglare

I love ports.  I love plugging in my iPod, my Logitech mouse receiver, and a flash drive at the same time.  The retina MBP only has 2 USB ports, which kind of sucks.  It also has 2 Thunderbolt ports, and raise your hand if you know of one peripheral that uses Thunderbolt today.  Didn’t think so.

It’s curious that Apple decided to include HDMI, while Mountain Lion will premiere AirPlay support.  It’s odd that they’re looking out for their users who don’t have an AppleTV.  The new hotness also comes with an SD card reader, which I find incredibly handy, as I upload photos very often.  I didn’t like the Expresscard34 SD Reader I’ve been using, since I have to pop the damn thing out each time I want the card out.  New SD card reader = WIN.

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17 Antiglare

I really wish Apple would have included three USB ports and only one Thunderbolt.  I like that the USB is 2.0/3.0, because my main external hard drive is a GoFlex USB3.0 drive.  The speed increase from Firewire 800 to USB 3.0 is nice, but it’s not mind-altering.

The 17″ wins hands down in this department, with its three USB ports, one Firewire 800, one Thunderbolt, one Ethernet, and a mic input (in addition to the headphone out).  I often do file transfers over ethernet; that won’t be an option any more, unless I shell out money to Apple for an adapter cable.  I won’t.

MagSafe vs. MagSafe 2

This was inevitable.  As the laptops get smaller, the ports will have to follow suit.  This explains the loss of Firewire, Ethernet, and original MagSafe.  They’re just too big.  Mic input?  Well, that’s not too big, but I’ll get over it.

I don’t really mind that there’s a new MagSafe adapter.  A lot of users are complaining that now they won’t be able to plug their new laptop into ANY power cable in the house.  I say Get off your lazy ass and go get your cable.  The new MagSafe is thinner, therefore sleeker, therefore more attractive.  It’s great.

Raw Horsepower

You can’t buy a machine with ‘Pro’ in the title without getting some power.  The question is, what qualifies as power?  My 15″ rMBP test machine has a 2.6GHz Ivy Bridge quad-core i7, whereas my 17″ MBP has a 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge (previous generation) quad-core i7 processor.  The newer processor has a faster clock cycle, but it also has to work extra hard to push almost four times the number of pixels to the display.

The next section talks about upgradeability, which also affects performance.  My rMBP has 8GB of soldered-in RAM, whereas the 17″ can easily take a $70 16GB RAM upgrade. Most people won’t need 16GB, but there was a time when I didn’t need 4GB.  Then I did.  These things happen.

Moving on.  Horsepower.  The retina MBP really does hold its own, when it comes to processing power.  The only action it can’t best my 17″ MacBook Pro at is scrolling in Safari.  Safari is rendering web pages at four times the pixels, so it slows down a bit.  I’ve read that Mountain Lion will speed this up, but since it won’t be out for a few more days, I haven’t had a chance to test it.

Sidenote: when I scroll in Firefox (not retina-ready), the speed is exactly the same on both machines.

When scrolling through Desktops on MacBook Airs at the Apple Store, there is a considerable amount of screen tearing.  Enough to say, “Who okayed this for all these months?”  The good news is that the screen tearing isn’t present on the retina MBP.  If it were, I would have shipped it back already.  Performance is very smooth with multiple apps open.

Upgradeability

This is where I get a little iffy about my future as a MacHead.  The setup in my 17″ MBP involves removing the optical drive, installing a 120GB SSD in the optical bay, and keeping the stock 750GB HDD in the stock location.  I also upgraded the RAM to 16GB for less than $100.  The same can’t be done in the new rMBP, in any regard.

When you buy your rMBP, you’re stuck with the options you choose.  Well, that’s not completely true, as OWC does offer SSD upgrades, but I’m a cheapass, and I will only buy SSDs for <$0.70 per GB.  That won’t happen with the ‘SSD stick’ Apple has produced here.  They’ll always be more expensive than their 2.5″ counterparts.

I don’t like that the upgradeability is so limited on this machine, but I’m also always constantly buying and selling my computers, all while making a profit.  So all in all, I’m not worried about it; however, regular power users should be.  If you’re not planning to dust off your ebay skills to upgrade your machine, you’ll have to pony up a lot more cash up front for the beefier machine.

OS options

I’m a Snow Leopard guy.  I don’t like the iOS style of Lion, and I don’t want an OS that’s been developed for the least common denominator.  Sadly, it’s impossible to install Snow Leopard on the rMBP.  It runs GREAT on my 17″ (early 2011) MBP.  I love that I can click the upload button in WordPress, flick four fingers up to show the desktop, click and hold an image, flick four fingers down (while holding the file) and insert the image.  If you kept up with that, you probably use that shortcut all the time.  It’s doesn’t work in Lion.

I tried using BetterTouchTool, but I couldn’t get it to work the way I wanted.  I also liked Spaces.  I don’t really like Mission Control.  I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I feel that spaces were superior to Mission Control.

Speakers

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17

I’m a small bit of an audiophile, even if I can’t tell the difference between 320kbps and ALAC.  I like to enjoy music on my laptop speakers while I’m working.  The speakers on the 17″ MBP absolutely shine, in this regard.  As ridiculous as it seems, there’s a subwoofer in the 17″.  The sound that emanates from that machine is beastly, to say the least.

The speakers on the retina MBP are not very good; I qualify them as “tinner” than the 17″ MBP.  They don’t have as much bass, but there appears to be more stereo separation, likely through more pronounced highs – sometimes too much high.

There is a bit of distortion present at certain frequencies.  At the beginning of Ellie Goulding’s Lights, I hear very noticeable distortion on the high pitches, at high volumes.  The 17″ MacBook Pro handles these frequencies with aplomb, and everything sounds crystal clear compared to the rMBP.

I listen to music during the day and watch movies/TV Shows with my wife at night, so good speakers are a must (as we don’t have/won’t be buying a TV). The tinny sound on the retina is too much to bear, so the 17″ MacBook Pro absolutely takes the cake on the speaker front.

Of course, the display

Retina MacBook Pro vs MacBook Pro 17

This one’s easy.  The retina MacBook Pro’s display is stupid good.  When it was announced, I thought Nah, 1900 x 1200 on 17 inches is as good as it can get.  I was wrong.  I can run 1920 x 1200 on this 15″ rMBP, and it’s clearer than the 17″.  Some applications aren’t retina-ready yet, so they look pretty blurry at the moment, but I’m sure that will be remedied in the next month or two.

To be honest, the display on the rMBP is so good, it’s the reason I’m selling my 17″ and keeping the 15″.  1920 x 1200 feels “small” on the 17″ – meaning it’s hard for me to read words on it.  On the 15″ though, the text is so crisp that it doesn’t look as small.  It’s easy to read at any resolution.

I like that I can switch between 1440 x 900 and 1920 x 1200 on the rMBP.  When working on the 17″, I want the resolution to be 1920 x 1200, but if I’m just going to be doing some writing or web browsing, I’d like a more readable resolution.  Anything besides the native 1920 x 1200 on the 17″ looks blurry, whereas all resolutions on the rMBP look great.

Glossy vs. Matte

I love matte displays.  I used a Black MacBook for five years, and the number one feature I wanted in an upgrade was a matte display.  When I got my first 17″ antiglare MacBook Pro, I instantly fell in love with the matte display.  The colors are super rich, and no amount of light can hinder my workflow, as there are no visible reflections.

I’ve always disliked the glass displays on MacBook Pros and hoped Apple would go back to the days of matte.  This retina display is different.  It only has one pane of glass, whereas the older models have three panes of glass.  The retina display is ‘less reflective’ than the non-retina displays.  It sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Would I prefer matte?  Absolutely.  Would I swap this out for a matte option?  In a heartbeat.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the reflections aren’t terrible on this machine, and the glass does really help the colors to pop.  I’m a matte fanboy at heart, but I’ll make a temporary exception for this gorgeous display.

What about photos?

I though photos would look exactly the same.  How much better can a photo really look on a higher res display?  A TON better, as it turns out.  I shoot photos with a Panasonic Lumix LX5, and the level of vivid clarity on this display is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  I can pick out details in the photos that I can’t see on the 17″ MBP.

Again, I know it sounds ridiculous, but there is a visual difference in photos on this display, as compared with the antiglare display on the 17″ MBP.

Wrap-up

The retina MacBook Pro is extraordinarily good.  I don’t like that there aren’t as many ports as on the 17″ MBP, but the times they are a changin’.  Hey, maybe I don’t really need to be doing three things at once anyway, right?  Regardless, the weight, the display, and the processing power are enough to convince me that this is my current choice of computer.  For the next month, at least.

EDIT!!!

I actually decided to sell the Retina MBP and keep my 17″.  After another day with the rMBP, I just don’t like that I can’t take it apart and tinker with it like I can my 17″.  The retina display is amazing, but it also makes non-retina apps look relatively terrible.

The speakers in the 17″ are better, as I mentioned before, and since my wife and I use the MBP to watch movies, the 17″ display provides better viewing at a distance.

The Real Reason

Really?  I don’t like Lion.  OSX 10.7 (Lion) just doesn’t feel like a real computer operating system.  I like Snow Leopard, and I’ll likely stick with Snow Leopard as long as this machine will keep up with my needs.  The 2.3GHz MBP is the last 17″ Apple model that will run Snow Leopard, so I’ll be keeping this machine for a while!

Lion sucks, and Mountain Lion will likely suck too.  I don’t care who doesn’t like that opinion, because it’s the truth from a power user – me.

EDIT AGAIN!

I’ve upgraded my 17″ machine to Mountain Lion, and it’s much, much better than Lion.  I’m used to the reverse scrolling AND the multitasking with Mission Control.  Congrats, 10.8 – you’ve won me over!

Living the Dream – One Year On

Living the Dream, One Year On - Casey Friday

My lovely wife brought something to my attention yesterday that we both haven’t really noticed. I quit my desk job on 31 May 2012.  We’ve been ‘living the dream’ for well over a year now, and we haven’t ‘failed.’  I’ve failed to look at our current situation and compare it with where we were a year ago, rather than where I want to be in six months, etc.

Career

How many people do you know who get up one day and say, “I’m bored of my life.  I’m quitting my steady job and moving to a new state to do something new.”?  I’m guessing you haven’t heard that too often, unless you’re one of my friends.  🙂

When Jessica and I moved to Utah, I made up a new career path for myself.  When I say ‘made up,’ I really do mean ‘made up,’ as inimagination stuff.  I stopped saying I was an electrical engineer and started saying I am a web developer.  Well, I didn’t go right for the ‘web developer’ phrase, but I worked quite a few angles to get it there.

Slick Dealing, re-selling master

Hard Drive Mountain - Living the Dream - Casey Friday

I love finding slick deals.  I also love buying said slick deals.  How could I get the best of both worlds?  I found slick deals, bought them, then re-sold them on ebay and craigslist.

Exhibit A, to the left, is hard drive mountain.  It is one of my finest achievements.  I purchased 20 hard drives at a ridiculous discount from Staples – using a coupon on every purchase.  They gave me a nice call informing me to stop ‘abusing the coupon system,’ so I didn’t purchase in that big quantity again.

From June-December 2011, though, I netted about $2,600 from reselling.  It wasn’t a full-time income, but it wasn’t half bad.

[hr]

Want a mobile website?

Mobile Websites - Living the Dream - Casey Friday

My first attempts at making money without a desk job were deep in the realm of internet marketing.  I’ve since grown to abhor internet marketers, but you live, you learn.  The one task I did succeed for a little while at was building mobile websites for businesses.  I called everywhere.  I made mobile websites for people in Portland, San Diego, Utah, etc.

I would send a physical letter with a screenshot of their current website on my smartphone and a screenshot of the mockup of a mobile-optimized site I built for them.  I didn’t make much money from this, but I was learning about the hustle.  Hustling is tough work.

I sold these websites for $295.  In hindsight, I probably would have sold more if I’d raised the prices to about $500 each.  Druthers.  I was ecstatic to sell any, though, and in total, I sold three.

Look ma, I’m on YouTube!

I’ve always wanted to be able to make money through monetizing Google’s Adsense program, but I didn’t want to create one of those ad-filled spam websites.  Happy medium?  YouTube!  I started recording my P90X journey – every single day of it – in video.  I uploaded the first 90 days of video to YouTube and made a few other videos: head shaving, Wonder Wash, Mini Spinner.  Search for them – you’ll find me.

I used to be happy when I made three pennies on Adsense for the day.  Yes, you heard that right.  Three cents.  $0.03.  It was three times more than I usually made.  I added Adsense to a couple of my videos, and the pennies started to add up a bit quicker…  Here’s a screenshot from today:

Adsense Earnings - Living the Dream - Casey Friday

I used to make three pennies a day, and last month I made $43.26.  It’s the 25th of June, and I’m already up to $47.64 for this month.  Unbelievable progress.

I also included links to Amazon products in my YouTube videos.  That campaign has been incredibly successful for me as well.  Here’s a look at Q1 2012 for my Amazon Affiliate program:

Amazon Affiliate Earnings - Living the Dream - Casey Friday

WordPress developer, anyone?

Friday Next Web Development - Living the Dream - Casey Friday

I then decided that I wanted to be a ‘coder.’  I wanted to write PHP functions and the like for websites, so I headed over to craigslist.  I responded to about 40 different ads, each looking for WordPress developers.  I got one response, and thus started my ‘web development’ career.

I knew close to nothing about writing WordPress-specific PHP, but that’s what Google’s for, innit?  It took me hours to do what most developers could probably have done in minutes.  Now?  Now I can blast through an object array in no time.  There are few things I can’t do, and if need be, I’ll figure them out.

From Humble Beginnings, To Infinity and Beyond

This is only the start of my wild and crazy career choice.  Thing is, it’s not even really a ‘career’.  I’m just doing what I love doing to help other people.

Health

Big Boy Casey - Living the Dream

When Jessica and I got married, I had ballooned up to 264lbs.  I’m 6’3″, and I have a pretty big frame as it is, so I hide the weight relatively well; however, the simple truth is that I was a big boy.  Too big.  Looking at my goal board at the top of this post, I was aiming for 232 lbs by October 2011.  It’s June in 2012, and I’m currently down to 218, on my third round of P90X.

P90X Comparison

I am absolutely dominating my health, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

Marriage

Jessica Casey Disney World - Living the Dream

Jessica and I have traveled to more places than I can count on two hands, and we’ve only been married for one year and four months.  Off the top of my head, we’ve been to Anaheim, CA; Orlando, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Pewaukee, WI; Denver, CO; Boulder, CO; Red Rocks, CO; Albuquerque, NM; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT.  And that’s just off the top of my head.

We communicate with each other better than we ever have before, and it’s all due to the strength we’ve built through leaving the conventional life and going out to live our dreams.  I couldn’t be more in love with anyone or anything than I m with my lovely wife, my best friend, my Jessica.

What did I learn, one year on?

A year ago, I would have been thrilled to make fifty cents over the course of one day.  I would have loved to just lose 10 more pounds.  To travel to one more place.  This thinking has to stop.  If you think this way when times are down, you’ll think this way again when things are going well, and nothing will ever be enough.

I’ve done some quite amazing things since quitting my (amazing) desk job on 31 May 2011.  If I could do it all over again, I doubt I’d do anything differently.  The only thing I haven’t done is give up.

I wanted fifty cents then.  I want ten thousand dollars today.  It’ll be one hundred thousand dollars tomorrow.  It will never stop.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this life-changing experience, it’s that I need to live in the now.  Today.  I won’t wait for a tomorrow that will never come any more.  I’m living for this moment.  Wanna come?

I built an O2 Headphone Amp

I’ve always enjoyed good quality sound, and I’ve also always heard that amping good headphones is a good practice.  My Sennheiser HD595 cans don’t need much amping at 50 ohms, but it’s been said on the interwebz that an amp can only help them sing to their full potential.  I figured, what the hell?

So I decided it was time to put my soldering iron (thanks for the wedding gift, mom!) to good use and get my EE skills back in action.  I was about to construct a headphone amp in an Altoids tin until my good friend Allen told me I just had to build an O2 amp.  I took his advice, and here it is!  (I’ll review it in a later post.)

O2 Headphone Amp - Casey FridayO2 Headphone Amp - Casey Friday

O2 Headphone Amp - Casey FridayO2 Headphone Amp - Casey Friday

O2 Headphone Amp - Casey Friday

O2 Headphone Amp - Casey Friday