My tagline, let me show you it.

The State Of Collecting

When I started collecting seriously in 2015, I had about 620 CDs.  Some people would say that’s a lot.  I remember in the 90’s, I started really building my collection by visiting pawn shops.  CDs were usually $5 each.  Now, they are $1-2 each at thrift shops.  The low cost allows me to indulge in albums I wouldn’t have taken a chance on at $5.

I say that I started collecting “seriously” in 2015 because that is when I started tracking my collection online with Discogs.  From that point onward, I am able to see when I added more to my collection.  The online site doesn’t give any statistics over time, but they do allow you to download your collection for you to analyze yourself.  I’m no Excel guru, so although I tried to create some pretty pictures and graphs, I was unable to get anything that was suitable.

In 2016, I added 207 CDs.  Looking through the filtered list, some additions catch my eye.  This is the year I got a couple of holiday CDs from a secret santa.  It’s the year I first heard Kraftwerk, one of those legendarily influential groups you should hear.  In fact, that was probably when I started really trying to experience “the legends” when up to that point, they were out of my normal musical orbit.  Some other artists that I’d never owned before, notable and not, include: Vince Guaraldi, Steely Dan, Eurythmics, Laurie Anderson, Cyndi Lauper, and The Pretenders.

In 2017, I added 254 CDs.  I was more actively seeking out sources for cheap CDs.  I would hit thrift shops and flea markets on a regular basis.  I learned that some thrift shops didn’t really have the turnover that others did, so some places had to be hit weekly and others could be visited less frequently.  I was also visiting my local record store for the more elusive titles, which came at a premium price.  Some new artists from this year: Madonna, Autograph, Roxette, Loverboy, Billy Ocean, Pointer Sisters, Billy Squier.

In 2018, I added 327 CDs.  My local record store had moved father away, so I was spending more time at thrift shops and travelling longer distances for flea markets.  I was also discovering other sources for CDs.  ReStore by Habitat For Humanity was a newer discovery.  Antique malls and indoor flea markets were another.  The latter were good sources as they were usually personal collections being sold.  Some of the new artists this year: Testament, Exodus, Dio, Krokus, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate (good time for metal), Adam Ant, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Level 42, Aretha Franklin, Annie Lennox, Bruce Springsteen.

All of the purchase counts are exclusive of the duplicate CDs that I bought.  Usually they were upgrades to existing CDs I already had – maybe a foreign pressing, maybe an earlier pressing, maybe a target CD.  In 2018, I sold off 80 of those CDs to a local store.  I have about 30 queued up again.

Is it weird that I am adding to my collection every year a quantity that exceeds most peoples entire collection?  Maybe.  But as in just about any sort of addictive hobby, there will always be examples of those much worse than yourself.  I mean, I have 1500 CDs, but there are people out there with 10x as many.  I’m not even sure I have enough musical interest to span 10,000 CDs.  Since my music tastes only span a couple of decades, that should keep me from going full hoarder.  One collector posted his collection of 40k CDs and it consumed the entire wallspace of two adjoining rooms, plus multiple island cabinets in the middle of one room.  He also said he just returned from a trip to a couple of stores and bought over 160 more CDs.  So, it’s not as bad as it could be.


Pack It Up

As far as house projects go this year, 2018 has been a significant year.  Probably my most productive yet.  In relative significance to the prior projects, the next project is the most disruptive.  While changing the HVAC unit and resurfacing the pool are huge, expensive projects, reflooring half the house is just massive.

Six spaces in four rooms are going to be converted from carpet to laminate.  The carpet has been in place probably as long as the house has been around, so… 25 years or so?  It’s time to update that.  The contractor came out and gave me a quote, which I just accepted and we set an estimated install date two weeks out.

From the sounds of the work plan, it sounds like they are going to do one room per day.  That includes moving the furniture in and out of the room.  The only thing I have to handle is getting things up off the floor and removing breakables and personal items.  The master closet is going to be all on me because the wardrobe cabinets were actually assembled in the room, you can’t move them in or out of the room assembled.  One other thing I committed to was packing up my CDs from the tower racks.  I don’t see any way of moving those towers with the CDs in place.  To accommodate that move, I bought some magazine boxes on the recommendation of a poster on a forum I frequent.  They were a great fit.


A lot of people despise packing.  I am one of those people who actually doesn’t mind it.  Well, unless the deadline is too close and I’m scrambling, but otherwise, I like packing up.  The process is a physical affirmation that change is coming, and that change should bring excitement and hope for the future.  In the near term, this means I’m getting a new floor; in the mid term, it means I’m going to be in a totally new environment.

Packing up is like making a deposit on your future.  If you don’t follow through with your plan, you lose all the effort you put out packing up.  Right now, all my music gear is packed and stored.  Now my CDs are packed and stored.  The more I pack, the less I have keeping me in my place.  And of course, packing provides some time of reflection, to make sure you really need to hold on to that thing anymore.

All The Bits Of Moving

With the plan of moving, comes a lot of little individual preparations for moving.  The one I am currently working on is finance.  Not the financing of moving, but my collection of financial accounts.

I’ve always had a presence at a local brick and mortar financial institution, but I’ve also had long-running accounts at online-only banks as well.  This recent move has me convinced to go 100% online.  The reason for this is two-fold.  First, there are no national-level physical banks that I trust.  My current bank is a local credit union, and while I do love them, they aren’t going to be in my new location.  Second, there is little compelling need to tie yourself to a physical bank anymore.

To expand on those points, I wanted a physical bank in case I needed to go and talk to someone about my account.  In my years with the bank, that has never happened.  I also wanted to have the bank’s ATM network available to me.  In my specific case, I agreed to a $1500 min balance to access a much wider network of ATMs without fees.  But my newly chosen online bank will reimburse me up to $10 in ATM fees.  I don’t hit the ATM often, so that’s plenty.  And of course, they also have a wide network of no-fee ATM’s, too.

But here’s the real motivator.  Like I just said, I have at least $1500 tied up in my checking account, earning very little interest.  I have the bulk of my money in online savings accounts earning 2% interest.  But I was recently introduced to T-Mobile Money, which will pay 4% interest on a checking account up to $3000.  That’s double the rate of my savings account and who knows how much more than my current checking account.  So my plan is to keep around $3k in my new T-Mobile account and the rest in my online savings.  No more $1500 (actually more with the ebb and flow of the balance) missing out on interest.

I’ve been through the migration process before, but it’s been a number of years.  After setting up the new checking account, you need to link other accounts to it so you can do transfers.  That takes a couple of days.  You have to set up bill pay accounts on the new account and disable automatic payments on the old account.  There’s a rule I keep to on my bill pay setup.  I never authorize anyone to pull from my checking account.  I will always push payment from the checking account.  I will allow charging of my credit cards, since I have a means to dispute the charge, but no one is allowed to touch my cash.  Then finally, I have to modify my direct deposit to go to the new account.

After all these changes, then it becomes a watch and wait game.  I have to figure out which account needs money transferred to handle the upcoming bills until everything is transitioned.  It’s a little tense.  But by next month, I’ll be on my own, online, and free to go anywhere.

Fuck You, Reflection Of Myself!

There’s been a recent raft of shit going on at work lately.  When I say shit, I mean literal shit, but I don’t mean there’s a literal raft involved.  This shit affects me, and a couple of my co-workers, but it isn’t a co-worker’s shit.  It’s simply a matter of mistaken identity and unwarranted aggression from an idiot doing idiotic things.  Fucking bird.

It’s a stupid female cardinal that must have a nest of stupid cardinal babies in a nest in a tree above our cars.  And at various times times during the day, this helicopter mom, this smotherfucker, swoops down to our cars because it sees itself in our rear view mirrors.  It then proceeds to flap around and attack its reflection in the mirror.  I’m not sure if the shitting part is because the bird thinks it won or because it thinks it’s losing the fight, but our cars all have bird shit on the doors from the fight.  I can see marks on my window from the feathers flapping furiously in a highly-alliterative sentence.


I’ve even been in the car during the attacks.  I’m just chilling out, using my new Android phone, which has been a big pile of meh, and I’ll see bitch bird flapping and pecking around at the car beside me, or sometimes it comes to my car.  Bitch bird stands on the door’s window sill and makes a big fuss over the other bird in the door mirror.  It makes me wonder about about the canary I had as a little kid.  Was it cruel to put a mirror in the cage and laugh when the bird pecked at it?  I was told that birds liked to look at themselves.  This stupid bird sure doesn’t.

So, to keep my car door from getting shat all over, I started covering up my mirror with a cleaning rag.  That seemed to work except the bitch went over to the passenger side to fight. So I need two cleaning rags.

Where Are The Dine-ins?

It was a couple months ago that a Sonny’s BBQ restaurant near my workplace abruptly closed with no warning.


I later found out they closed another location in a neighboring town.  While this affected me for my lunchtime meals, I still had my local Sonny’s I could visit.  My local restaurant was recently remodeled, whereas this one that closed did not remodel.

Maybe a month ago, I was driving and I saw that a Pizza Hut restaurant that I would visit had closed.  Later investigation showed that it had moved to a new location.  I called their number and found out they were delivery/carryout only now.  No more dine-in.

This week, since that hut had closed, I went to my other Pizza Hut location.  I was shocked to find that it was closed as well.  As I kept driving, wondering what to do, I caught a brand new Pizza Hut sign in the plaza just down the road.  I pulled in to check it out.  No surprises, no dine-in.

The other night, I’m driving home and I see a brand new sign in a plaza near my house – Pizza Hut.  This signals to me that the dine-in Pizza Hut just down the road is also closing in short order.  Now, I don’t eat at that one because unlike the other two I visited, this one doesn’t have a salad bar.

So that’s three Pizza Huts in my immediate area (immediate meaning within 30 mins; my travel range is greater than most people’s) have closed their dine-in facilities in favor of delivery/carryout only locations.  It makes me wonder what the future holds.  Restaurants are generally very sensitive to the economy and supposedly the economy is doing awesome right now.  But is it?  Why are places closing or downsizing?


Last week, I started the process of relocating my stuff from the bedroom that had served as my office into the lanai which would serve as my new office.  It was a surprisingly difficult effort.  What should have taken a couple of hours or so took many days.  But, although surprising to me, it’s also consistent with some recent difficulties I’ve had in regards to motivation and exhaustion.

On one particular day, after moving a couple of pieces and giving up, I reflected on the moving process.  Why was it so difficult?  There was a time in my youth that I would rearrange my living area nearly monthly.  I loved the different possibilities and the change it brought.  Now it just seemed I wanted things to stay the same.  That’s kind of depressing to think about, which is ironic because it’s depression that’s been holding me back from everything lately.

Without dwelling on that point, this is more about changes.  On a smaller scale, I have to deal with the moving of my stuff between rooms, which will require putting some things into temporary storage.  On a bigger scale, the GF is going through the same thing by moving her stuff to my house, which has to be even more overwhelming and disheartening considering how many things of hers will need to be stored.  And overarching all of this now is our near-term plans to move to another state.

So, for whatever stress I might be feeling about moving my shit in my house, it’s nothing compared to what needs done to move to another place.  First and most importantly, it reprioritizes the improvements that need done to the house in order to maximize resale value.  Some things just can’t be done in time and some may be too expensive to get return on the cost.  But, it’s a real kick in the ass to start doing something.  I always work best on a deadline.

The big move eclipses the small move and the sacrifices become acceptable and even encouraging.  I’m packing up all my music gear, not because I don’t have space for it in my new office but instead because we’re moving out.  It’s not losing out on anything, it’s preparation.  I shouldn’t feel constrained by my new office because I’m not going to be there for very long.  And there’s going to be a period of time where things are going to be even more cramped until we find the ideal house in our new city.

And while moving rooms was stressful to me and I was wondering why that was the case when I used to love change. moving cities is quickly becoming an exciting prospect, despite the looming effort that remains in this house.  I think it might because I’ve found a “why.”  Why am I doing all this stuff to the house, what does it matter?  Well, right now it matters greatly to the future owner of the house.  And at the same time, I’m going to shed anything I might regret doing in this house and the GF and I will start with a clean slate, on equal footing in a new place.

Gone Girl

I was waiting in line to check out and the people behind the counter were talking obliviously.  You know, some people just don’t realize they’re talking in public.  I wasn’t really paying any attention to them until I heard, “Yeah, they found her body out back.”  And I, and probably anyone else that would have heard that, understood that we are talking about someone who died.

On my way out of the store, I started thinking about how curious our language is and how we say things that have a very specific meaning.  Also, that those things we say have a deeper philosophical meaning.  She said, “they found her body”, not “they found her”.  It’s a statement that says your body is a part of you or belongs to you, but it is not you.  It’s like “they found her shoes out back”, but no one would ever say, “I got halfway to work and realized I forgot my body.  Mondays, right?”

When we talk about people, we are usually unintentionally talking about their soul or spirit.  Statements like “Is he still with us?” or “No, he’s gone” are usually not talking about the physical aspect of a person.  And I sort of find that weird that this concept is accepted among the faithful and the not.  Even among the most atheist, there’s still a believe that when you’re dead, you are apart from your body.  I would guess that even if they don’t believe in an afterlife or a spirit, they can’t just erase that person from their memory, so in a sense, that person does live on, at least in their mind.

And although it’s a little contrived, this language lends support to the concept that you are not your body.  Your physical appearance isn’t what defines you.  People that believe in auras and astral bodies would wholeheartedly agree with that.

What Happened?

Um, hi again.

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted anything here.  Things kind of went weird for me a while ago.  I’m not really into exposing a lot of myself online, but I’ll summarize my radio silence as collateral damage from the combination of worry of my health, sadness of current events, and fear about work performance.  It’s been an eye-opening experience in the sense that I understand some things now that I could not understand before.

I have a small backlog of drafts that I wrote during the time I did not feel like “talking” to anyone, so I can have a little content to wrap up 2018.  I can say that 2019 is going to be a very interesting year.  Maybe it’s premature for me to make any claims of success on a few good days in a row, but optimism has to be better than where I’m coming from.

Wish Fulfillment

Within about the last year or so, Carrabbas has become something of an obsession of mine.  Well, both me and the GF, but I have the opportunity to obsess more.  And somewhere around a year ago, Carrabbas started being open for lunch.  And that’s when the obsession intensified.

I have a great liking for soup.  It’s probably from growing up in the north, where hot liquid is a treat in its own right, but flavorful hot liquid is even more so.  Carrabbas chicken soup is pretty much at the top of my list, and two of their three available salads are favorites of mine, too.  While I can and do eat their spaghetti on occasion, I can get by with just soup and salad.

Over the last year or so, I have been getting by on just soup and salad.  But here’s the problem.  If you order the “soup and salad” entrée, you get a cup of soup and a half salad.  No way is that enough for me.  So, over time, I’ve settled into getting a bowl of soup and a side salad.  This is filling (usually), but the price is rather heavy as well.

Because of my continued financial discipline to log all my receipts, I am able to accurately identify how frequently I visit Carrabbas and how much I spend there.  If I have lunch there, I spend $19.02.  That’s a pretty expensive lunch.  I have wanted to try and cut back on that cost, but that soup!  In the past, I’d considered trying Olive Garden for their endless soup, salad and breadsticks lunch, but I don’t like any of their soups.  And now, after eating Carrabbas so much, I can barely stomach OG’s food anymore.  It’s like someone put their food into Photoshop and went overboard.  It’s an oversaturated representation of what food should taste like.

So, Olive Garden was not an option.  And I continued spending $20 a lunch usually once a week for myself at work, then the GF and I would eat there for lunch together again on Sundays.  Here’s a kicker: Carrabbas has a rewards program where you get up to $20 back on your 4th visit.  But a visit only counts if you spend $20 or more.  So, my single lunches at $19.02 (after tip) aren’t counting to that reward.

I distinctly remember commenting to the GF, “Can you imagine if Carrabbas had an endless soup and salad option?”  I dismissed the possibility, because their chicken soup was so rich, they couldn’t afford to make it endless.  But, here in September 2018, it has happened.  An endless soup and salad lunch special for $8.  I may never eat lunch anywhere else again.

How incredible is this for me?  First, I can have as much chicken soup as I want.  They bring it out in cups, but there’s always more for the asking.  In fact, this is much better because the soup is always hot, instead of having a bowl go cold as you work on your salad.  And also, I like two of their salads.  Before, I was tied to only having one.  Now I can get one of each and enjoy them for their differences.  Finally, that price!  That’s almost half of what I was paying before, and I get more food than before.  And, if the GF and I want to eat there for lunch and just do soup and salad, we’ll break the minimum for the rewards.

I’m singing the praises of this new promotion and secretly already dreading the day it is retired.  I’m not sure if it’s my age or the current consumer environment that makes me think of contingency plans as soon as something new enters my orbit.  Aside from the fear of not having this deal available anymore, the only other negative to the lunch is that it takes a long time for me to get filled up.  I have always eaten slowly, and as I get older, it’s getting worse.  My lunch today was longer than normal.  I sloshed myself out the restaurant door and made it back to my desk in 90 minutes.  I have so much liquid in me, I’ve probably altered my natural buoyancy.

One final observation.  I don’t know what communication network old people use, but the lunch special announcement made it to them early.  I used to eat lunch at my Carrabbas nearly alone every time.  Now, the place is flooded with old people.  They say that old people are good for two things: finding good food and finding good deals. 

I’m an old person.

Hooking Up With A Previous Love

A recurring story on my blog is my relationship troubles with iced tea.  Maybe it deserves its own tag at this point.  To quickly recap, I had a very long relationship with Nestea mix, but it changed, so we had to break up.  I rebounded with Publix mix before settling down with Lipton, who was very good to me for a long time.  Then one day, Nestea completely disappeared and while that was a little upsetting, I found Te Bustelo, which made me dump Lipton immediately. Man, that makes me sound like a horrible person.

As in other relationships, the fickle one gets their due, and Te Bustelo ended production, leaving me a widower.  I had purchased a case of the mix – the last available – to get me through the next couple of years.  Well, it’s been almost three years now and I’m down to probably a few last servings in my last container.  I was probably avoiding the looming reality by not attempting to find a replacement.  Still mourning, maybe?  Today, I finally sucked it up and decided to find out what my options are.  Off to Amazon, source of everything.

Searching for iced tea mix, I got results dominated by Lipton, with a few other brands scattered here and there.  One of those brands was Nestea (trying to avoid eye contact).  You know, maybe I wasn’t completely with my head in the sand about my future tea product because at one point I did consider buying unsweetened tea mix and adding my own sugar.  And you know, Nestea does make an unsweetened mix…

This is what Nestea looks like today, the same it’s looked for many, many years.

Nestea Sweet Mix Iced Tea, 45.1 oz

As I’m working through the results, I see this.

Nestea Sweet Iced Tea Lemon Mix 90.3 Oz

Whoa, what is that?  That is a different package with a different logo.  And another thing – I am extremely sensitive to names, because of my trauma from “sugar sweetened tea mix” morphing to “sweet tea mix”.  This canister says “sweet iced tea mix”.  That is different.  That must mean it is different.  I click the link and look at the ingredient list on the package.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Maltodextrin, Tricalcium Phosphate (prevents caking), Natural Lemon Flavor

Oh my god.  This mix changes out Sucralose with Tricalcium Phosphate, in the same way Sweet Tea Mix changed Fructose with Sucralose.  If I haven’t used the word enough yet, let me try some more.  Sucralose is why I had to stop drinking Nestea in the first place. It’s an artificial sweetener that hurts my stomach. Suckralose.

I actually couldn’t handle this revelation at the time, bordering between excitement and disbelief, so I return to my search results.  I scroll a little further down and I see this.

Nestea Original Canadian Lemon Iced Tea Mix Jumbo Can 2.2kg 122 Servings Imported from Canada

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, HERE?  I click this item and look at its ingredient list.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Natural Flavour, Silicon Dioxide

This mix, I read, is the Canadian version of Nestea, named “Original Lemon Iced Tea”.  A second Nestea mix with no sucralose.  Where the hell has this stuff been for all these years? (Canada, apparently.)  And while I have no regrets over my special time with Te Bustelo, maybe it’s a sign that I should get back, even if it’s with the exotic, foreign cousin of my original love.

Still reeling a little from this sudden discovery, I make a fairly dumb decision to buy both of these items right away.  They’re not exactly cheap, since one is a giant container and the other is a giant container imported from a foreign country.  So, $60 in tea will be at my house on Tuesday so I can then see if there is still a spark between us.

Hope springs eternal.