Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pickles! Natural Cleaner project done!

I've been trying to make a present for our friends who brought us so much good food in our meal train the month after Ivy was born.

I wanted to design a label for an empty gallon jug that had recipes on it for how to make natural home cleaners.

I'm not much of a graphic designer, and a bit color blind...what could go wrong?

I only got this far using MS Word.  I know, designing in MS Word? Have I gone mad? But I did't have a lot of time to make a layout in Adobe InDesign that matches the Avery label template. I don't use InDesign regularly enough to be fast. Word had an easy Avery Label template. Of course I spent more time friggin' with Word then I would have in InDesign, but that's probably predictable for you graphic designers reading this - not that achydad is big in the graphic design community.

Then I remember that my neighbor, Kirsten Ullrich, is an actual real live graphic designer! I showed her my Word mock up and she was so dismayed that I tried to make the label in Word, she banged out a label for me in under a hour, free! I offered her our third born, and our first born, since he was being a total pill that night. She declined.

Here's what she did! Another reminder about the value of graphic designers!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Is there a day off from being a father? Probably not. Should there be? Probably not.

My first present by the family was to be able to sleep with ear plugs in the guest room as late as I wanted.

I awoke at my pre-parent, no alarm natural time of a little after 8am. I took out my ear plugs and heard a small boy screaming "I want momma!"

He was in the rain in front of the tiny house. He seemed to only be wearing fire boots and a rain coat while he screamed. Bubbe (my mom) is living there for the summer and she was on duty watching him from inside the front door and letting him get out his anger and saddness. Laura had to go to the graduate class she's taking to maintain her teaching license. Ivy's been good so far in class. And there's a backup plan to have her video in if she's too noisy.

He went inside with Bubbe after a bit and quieted down. 

It's a nice present for me to be able to have a morning off. I'm taking some time to blog and soak up the quiet. I'll spell Bubbe soon.

But...I don't really think I'm "off" from being a father - ever. And I'm glad.

The family is healthy and strapped in and holding on for dear life amid all the summer fun, which can be intense! Sometimes I want to be back at work fulltime, hemmed in by winter, and on a predictable schedule. But mostly summer's been exciting and a welcome break from the grind. 

We're trying to have some home time too, like the above moment. Shaw and I built a fantasy "island" on the carpet, with a Lincoln Log house, box barn. The boats and sea animals were in the "ocean" (wood floor). Shaw got all his cars and trucks parked around the house because they were having a "wedding party." We just came back from Laura's brother's amazing wedding.

Ivy and I pacing while Laura plays softball
 Ivy and I are bonding for longer and longer periods of time,  but she's mostly still with momma.
She's grasping and almost crawling. Here's video of her going through all the stages.

And while she has several bouts of shrill hysterics every day, she smiling a lot too.

I'm bonding a lot with Shaw. I mostly put him to bed.

This is my favorite time of the day as a dad. It can be tiring to read him down with books I've almost memorized, and then almost fall asleep myself. But it's (mostly) a calm time and we talk about the day and tell stories.

When I try and sneak away sometimes before he's really asleep he says "no poppa, keep me company," and that's a great father's day present.

Friday, June 19, 2015

If I had a 100 million, or a billion a day, how it might it change my life?

Fabrice Grinda photo from the NYT story
I read a short article today entitled, A Curious Midlife Crisis For A Tech Entrepreneur. 

In short, a 100+ millionare finds his single playboy life in the mansion near the city is empty when he hits 40. He wants more family, friends and experiences with them, then parties, fast cars and possessions. Bravo!

I suspect he'll land somewhere in the middle when he does land. Nice cars and house, but more friends and family.

He travels and visits friends and family, getting on their nerves sometimes with his late night activities and tendency to empty the fridge and leave dirty laundry around.  

Reflecting on myself was easy in this article. I was a bit of a laptop nomad until age 42, moving from job to job and relationship to relationship, with and two graduate schools, starting at age 25. But I wasn't rich. It's quiet easy to live cheap if you're alone and don't have expensive habits.

I did learn that you can get at least two weeks at a friends house though, but you've got to add value - do the dishes, do their laundry, watch the kids, mow the lawn.

Anyway, so this guy, Fabrice Grinda, then tries to stay in hotels, which doesn't really work, since he can't get them for long enough, and women he dates think it's strange to move around from hotel to hotel. Then he tries gathering folks at big parties, but they have to work and take kids to school, etc. so they come for the weekend only.  He settles a bit on two big destination parties a year during Xmas and summer break. Now he's looking into a buying  flat in the lower east side as he grapples with women he dates liking guys who live somewhere stable.

I sense he'll move in the direction of my life. Living in one place, with friends and family nearby that you prioritize sharing healthy experiences with. Summer and holiday travel. Work he loves, but not too much of it. I expect he'll find a good stable partner if this happens as well, as they are attracted to sanity - or mostly sanity...

So I am rich now I think!

But what would it be like for me to have 100 million dollars and lots of investments in startups? Would I move towards his lifestyle? Would I leave my friends and family for a mansion and parties?

Money I believe is an amplifier and a source of power to do things, and like being very attractive, or very convincing, it presents opportunities for both good, and bad, things to happen.


What If I Had 100 Million In The Bank?

 Here's my guess on what would happen if I had 100 Million. And following, if I had a billion a day.
  1. Initially, I'd split the money up in 4ths. 1/4 for me to invest and play with, 1/4 with a low risk trust-fund money manger, 1/4 with a high risk money manager, and 1/4 in an ETF like VOO.  Each manager wouldn't know about the other. 
  2. I'd give to charities that provide support (books and home doctor visits, etc) to kids 0 to 5 in the US.
  3. Later, I'd learn more about how to manage this kind of money and probably make some changes.
  4. I'd keep my job. But not my side contracts after they were complete. 
  5. I'd pay off the mortgage, and give my parents 13,000 a year (the untaxable limit), until the needed more.
  6. I'd buy a new VW TDI wagon, Tesla  Model X, Mac tower computer with three huge screens, drone, battery operated weed whacker, mudroom for the tiny house, fence for the property, kitchen remodel, green house, helicopter lessons and Quicksilver 10 tent trailer.
  7. I'd think about starting a non-profit lab that I funded that was affiliated with a college and explored what works in educational technology around the world.
  8. I'd take up amateur, modest and relatively safe, Rally Racing.
  9. The family and I would discuss long range plans. We might get a bigger house, or move, but not for a bit and not if it wasn't a family decision.
  10. We'd travel on vacations and rent a lake house in the summer for longer.
  11. I'd have a personal trainer and a gym membership, or a home gym.


What If I Had A Billion A Day?

  1. The above with 100 million from the first day.
  2. With the rest of the money I'd start a non-profit that focuses on healthy children, education, sustainable business, and astrobiology, specifically a manned mission to Mars, a mining mission to an asteroid, and a probe to Europa.
Europa. Moon of Jupiter. Smaller then our moon, but with more water then than all the water on earth.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Pop up tent trailers for family camping. New England Camp Gounds. Advice? Models? Used or new?

 UPDATE: I've lengthened this post here

We're ready to try pop-up tent camping.

I'd love your advice in the comments! They are open now for all. 

I heard enough folks in my financial demographic say it was really good to give it a try. Laura also agrees. I've talked to several folks who now have older kids now and they say that they pop-up camped when their kids were about age 3 to age 12, and it was a really good family activity. They found safe camp grounds near lakes and mountains and the trailers were relatively inexpensive. But they have beds, vs regular tent camping, which as an older dad I now HATE, due to my sore back in the morning from so call sleeping pads. More like not-sleeping pads. But I don't want, can't afford, and don't have room for an RV.

We're going to rent first.
I've started cautiously researching, don't want to loose entire hours on the project just yet.

Here's what I have so far. 

Pop Up Tent Trailer Models:

Seems $1,500 to 4,000 can get you a good used one. Most seem to have actual stoves, refrigerators, water, and a lot have heaters! I don't need a heater. What if I want a VERY BASIC trailer, with just beds, a counter, place for a cooler, maybe a portable stove, and storage that sleeps two adults in one bed, and two kids, maybe with one small bed each?


Pop Up Tent Trailer Community

Renting Pop Up Trailers in Vermont

Big dealer near us:
Rents for $320 per weekend/ 3 nights.

Trusted Recommendations for Campgrounds for families.

  1. DAR State Forest. 78 Cape Street. Rte. 112. Goshen, MA 01032. Friends recommend, have not been myself.
  2. Malletts Bay Campground. 88 Malletts Bay Campground Rd. Colchester, VT 0544. Friends live there every summer, have not been myself.  
  3. Lake Masssasecum Campground. Friends recommend, have not been myself.