Midlife Simplicity

A journey from more to less.

Category: stuff

The day a dead bird photo became my most liked on Instagram

Home Page People are such odd creatures-myself included. But as a group they can be even more odd than individuals. I think maybe this is because you notice the real odd-ball individuals, but the oddness of a group makes its appearance in more subtile ways.Today the oddness of people as a group made itself apparent on my Instagram page.

hombre coqueteando a mujer I don’t have a huge amount of followers, around 600 at last count. I’m not some sort of Instagram “celebrity” or do I post specific pictures about a specific topic. To be honest, since I have no cute baby pictures to post, I lean toward taking and posting a lot of pics of my 14-year-old dog along with an occasional scenic picture or even selfie once in a great while.

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useful reference Sometimes I’ll post a pic of a friend or even a pic of me and Charlie, the aforementioned dog.

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http://feedtruckbelgium.be/865-dte48774-best-online-dating-sites-atlanta.html Most the time I’m just posting whatever presented itself on a given day without much thought behind it other than, “It’s pretty. It’s cute. It’s someone I know.”

most realistic dating same adult nudity Pretty much how most people use Instagram.

“Hey, look at this, because I did and now I want to tell you about it.”


Obligatory cute dog photo.

On average I’d say I get 10-50 likes on a particular photo as I figure that’s about how many close friends and family I have at any given time who are willing to stroke my ego and double-tap a pic for a little heart symbol to pop up. They give and get a little in return. Every once in a while, my dog seems to do something that strikes a cord and I’ll suddenly see 100 to 200+ likes.

I quickly think, “Awe, dogs and babies! The key to instant ego strokes on Instagram. Please understand that I’m man and I don’t have the option of throwing a half-naked pic of myself up for a quick ego boost! Surprisingly, when I have thrown up the occasional pic of a hot woman, not in any state of undress, I get the same number of likes on the pics as I would most my pics. I’d like to think that says something about my friends but I’ll save that for another blog entry.

Okay, I think I have sufficiently buried the lede here.

Over the weekend I was in Malibu, CA and decided to take a little stroll on the beach. I took my Canon 5D Mark III for “real” pictures and my iPhone as I normally would. As I walked down the beach and took typical pics of birds, sun rising, fisherman or whatever caught my eye as visually interesting I cam across a dead bird on the beach and walked past it.

After a few steps, I thought, “That was kind of interesting.” I returned to the bird laying in the sand. It had obviously been dead for a while. the manner in which it rested became very interesting to me and I reached for my phone and snapped a pic. I didn’t even use my “real” camera. It was just something I wanted to remember for some reason.


I continued my walk and thought little more about the decomposing bird. When I returned to my campsite I was looking through the pics I’d taken and this image struck me is really unique. I liked the position, the tones, the striking beauty in the face of the obvious death.

So what to do? Instagram it of course.

Over the last 4 days, I noticed a consistent stream of likes for this photo. It made me start pondering what is up with that? Did people simply see the same thing I did? Is there a subculture of people who dig dead birds out there? I don’t think a live bird would get anywhere the same amount of likes. At the same time, I posted the same pic on Facebook and no one has liked it. Is it that none of my friends like dead birds while a lot of, evidently Spanish speakers, do? Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 5.02.08 PM

As of this afternoon, this pic became my most liked photo of my 650 Instagram posts and I find it as strange, beautiful and odd as the picture itself.

Feel free to follow my Instagram page:






28 days later


It’s official. I have simplified. I have moved.

As the first evening sun began to set, I opened the french doors of the new place and the sounds of Robbie Kapp playing harmonica at the Lighthouse Lounge drifted across 25th street filling my living room with Sunday afternoon blues. It was surprisingly loud, yet welcomed.

I started this blog with a full house and a full garage. (see original post) Now the said house is empty and left behind for a new family to fill up. And the garage, well, 99.9 % of the belongs I had are gone.

Through the process of selling, giving away stuff and throwing things in garbage I’ve squeezed five bedrooms and a two-car garage into a two-bedroom, no-car garage condo.

Four trips to St. Anne’s homeless shelter. Two trips to Deseret Industries charities. Three trips to the waste transfer station. Multiple trips to friend’s houses with items. So on and so forth.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t minimized. I have simplified. I still have a lot of stuff, it seems.

I have sore legs from climbing stairs while moving it all in to prove it. Lesson learned: Don’t pack the ibuprofen too early in the move. I would estimate I have gotten rid of about 65% of my possessions. Including about 75% of my clothes. I have also learned that 35% of a lot of stuff is still quite a bit of boxes and furniture.

I’m still settling, but I have to admit, the transition feels weird. Not bad, just weird. I feel like I’m on vacation.

Houses on the walk to the office.

Houses on the walk to the office.

I am able to walk to the restaurants I used to have to find a parking space to go to. My office is a quick 15 minute walk away. People yell at me from the sidewalk and I’m able to go down a flight of stairs, cross the street and have a beer with them. It’s almost like being in a hotel that has a bar in a lobby. I promise I have had to walk further in Las Vegas to get a beer. Fresh coffee in six doors down. People stream through on their way to bikram yoga above the coffee shop. In the evening people lazily wander down the street, sometime there’s a hoot or holler of someone letting loose.

Evening is the best. The sun transitions to neon lights, couples wander the street and, this week, the cool, evening air flows through the doors and windows. Sometimes people crazily pound on the piano that resides on the sidewalk across the street, other times you hear someone thoughtful playing a tune.

Most of the noise are fine. I can close the windows and all but the loudest of them go away at anytime.

It’s an interesting change and I’m curious to find out how long it takes for it to feel normal. Perhaps once I get rid of all the boxes and all remaining boxed things are in their places … r gone.

Speaking of things. I am going to do my best to keep simplifying. I’m not sure I’m going to reach the point of being a minimalist, but over the next couple of months I want to try to get rid of at least one thing each day. That should be easy over the next few days as I unpack things. I have yet to decide what today’s discarded thing will be, but I have a feeling it will be something, or a lot of things, from the box labeled “bathroom.”

This task will probably a little harder once I feel settled. but right now I’m still pissed from carrying it all up the stairs!


Yard/Garage/Estate Sale


God bless my friends. First of all Brooke Wadman who was kind enough to come help me out with my sale! She ran the inside while I worked the garage.

This set up was great because items of most sentimental value probably resided in the house. Her being detached a bit more from the items than I would have been probably served me well. She did get upset with me for selling a chair too cheaply though! I’ve known and worked with Brooke for many, many years and over those years she’s become like family. Having her there to help out was perfect and so much appreciated.

It was amusing through the day as people who would come out the garage to “check” on me to make sure I was “ok” as stuff was leaving my house. I was. I kept reminding them that I was doing this by choice and that every item that left the property was actually making me increasingly happy. It was uplifting to know they cared, but also reassuring that I’m going the right direction.

It was also work. A long, tiring day. I will try to remember this day each and every time I consider buying something. I don’t look forward to repeating the process. I’m thinking once I am in the new pad, I’m going to implement a “new item in, old item out policy.” It will be interesting to see if I can do it. It will make me think about the items I own and the value they bring to my life. The goal will to be to only have items of high value. Judging from what I have left from my yard sale, I’ll have some low value things left that can be traded up.

Oh yeah, and thanks to Melody Pulisipher who actually brought something to the garage sale! The mid-day margaritas were perfect fuel for the last couple of hours. Enjoy your PIMP glass Melody!

If you are one of the folks who came by and bought something, thanks for being part of my journey.

Now begins a week of donating, dumping and moving!



B double-E double-R-you in?


Growing up in a very small town in Northern Minnesota from the age of eight until halfway through my 15th year, has proven to be a time I developed a lot of habits.

One of the things that living in a small town on the shore of Lake Superior afforded me was the freedom to roam around at what I think would be considered a very young age now.

For one thing, we walked to school. From 3rd grade through high school. It snowed like a christmas snow globe but was only uphill one way. Walking to school gave us the freedom to wander through the woods, play in the creek,  sneak down alleyways, etc. as long as we made it home in a reasonable amount of time.

Then I was in the door, yelling, “Mom I’m going down to the Johnson’s!” or “Mom, I’m going across the street to play football!”  With a crack of the screen door slamming behind me, I was off – only required to be home for dinner or darkness depending on the time of year.

Many of my friends families had snowmobiles and I have fond memories of hoping on the back and being gone for hours on the snowmobile trails that ran through the forests. It was an ideal place as kid who had a license to roam. With the exception of sub-zero temperatures from Christmas through St. Patrick’s day, it really couldn’t have been a better place to grow up.

I’m not sure if it was the cold temperatures or what that seemed to keep beer cans preserved in nice little piles throughout the Superior National Forest, but they were easy to fin Beer can collecting became a favorite pastimes of me and my friends.

As a kid I wondered, “How the heck did all of these piles get made of tens if not hundreds of beer cans  the forest?”

In my head, I’d imagine a group of people sitting out in the woods drinking beer and building a nice little pile of empties. I mean, that’s what happened at our house when beer drinking was taking place. I’ve since gotten a little smarter and realized these were just little garbage dumps. They where all over the place. We’d be on a little adventure and find a place to cut off the trail that looked promising and search around and inevitably we’d find a pile of cans. The same thing with old abandon structures.

.After going through the rusted cans on top we’d sometimes find something we’d never seen before or a better conditioned can that a previous find. Or perhaps a different design of a Pabst Blue Ribbon,  or a Schimdt with a fish flying across it. There were 100’s of different brands, Hamm’s, Schlitz, Grain Belt, Stroh, Pfeiffer, Fitgers, Andy’s Beer, North Star, Goetz, Old Milwaukee, Schells, Olde English, etc. Just to name a few.  Not only where there many brands to be discovered, but many of them had many redesigns on their packaging. PBR cans have changed a lot over the years. Google it.

Now that I live in Ogden, I often wonder if we found the long-gone Becker’s Best that was made here. I can’t say for sure.

My parents wouldn’t let me keep the old cans in our house, but my friend Steve Johnson lived 3 doors down and his parents were fine with it and in his room will filled one of the wall solid with the finds we’d made. It was quite the collection that I wish I had a picture of, but it looked a lot like this:

Example, not my image.

The whole exercise was as much about the adventure and discovery as it was collecting beer cans and every abandoned shack or old campsite became exciting. My guess is we were probably in 5th or 6th grade.

Somewhere along the line, as an adult, I started bringing full beer cans back from overseas trips and buying shot glasses to commemorate my visits to touristy destinations.  I have about 25 shot glasses that I rarely use, they aren’t on display or anything. They just sit in a cabinet much like the beer cans at the beginning of the post. Still unopened and unused.


I’ve come to learn that collections of stuff mean very little to me. I appreciate the memories, but as time goes by, the actual item has very little specific value to me.

Sure, it’s great to have a shot glass around when you need it (which is quite rare in my house). Unopened cans of beer that are 20+ years old, that’s certainly questionable – as is my desire to open it and try one now. It’s easy to see how clutter builds up when you act as if your memories are tied to objects. As I’ve mentioned before, they serve as great memory joggers for me, but even that become less effective.  Besides, who need to live in the past.

Maybe I can coax one of my younger friends into trying one of these beers and then after that send them on a beer run for something a bit fresher.

Heavy Lifting



I’ve been away from posting for a bit as I’ve been busy getting rid of things! It turns out that lightening up requires a bit of heavy lifting.

Over the past five days I’ve taken boxes of the few things I plan to hang on to into the new pad. Climbing to the third floor with boxes of CDs and photos to be scanned at a later date proved to be a lot of work.

The boxes of clothes and other things hauled to Deseret Industries, a local charity, seemed light as a feather. Not only did the boxes seem light in comparison to the densely packed boxes carried up the stairs, but the feeling after dropping them off lightened my spirits. The feeling of progress, of less stuff, of not missing anything was, to a degree, freeing.  The stuff I’ve thrown in the garbage over the last few weeks has felt the same. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter to me where it goes, it’s just good to be gone.

Right now with all that I have left I am trying to access each item’s potential value to someone else. Would someone pay for it? Quickly? Or is it better to just donate it and let someone else make some money from it? Or is it best just best to be thrown out and not dealt with.

For one group of boxes there was no debating. My past client files all needed to be destroyed in a secure manner. To make this fun, I thought, why not have a bonfire and burn file after file after file. Well take it from me, two-inch thick files of bound paper does not burn as easily as one might imagine. The work to continually stir a blazing hot fire to get all of the pages of paper to separate so they would burn proved to be too much. After burning about eight 35-pound boxes in four hours, I was forced to give up.

The next morning I load the 17 remaining boxes and headed to the shredder. A fine surprise for the pregnant woman at the little shredding office first thing Monday morning. After unloading 658 pounds of paper and writing a nice little check, I headed back to my house a little bit lighter than I’d been a few hours before.

A couple of hours later, someone came for some of my furniture. Ah momentum!

Hopefully the garage sale this weekend will make the rest of the sorting easy. People will buy what is of value to them, the rest will be taken to Deseret Industries or go into the garbage.

I’m glad I’m being forced by the calendar to take action quickly. I think the desire to accumulate is so strong that without a firm date to have to have all of this wrapped up by, I’d lose the momentum that I’ve had over the last couple weeks. It would be easy to straighten up and continue the same path I’ve been on for so many years.  It all started when I bought a house, but I’ll get into that later. Back to sorting.

Anyone need a Wii? Xbox 360? DVD players? Stereo receiver? Softball bat? Bike seats? Book Shelves? Chair? Table? Picture frames ….





My life seems full of boxes right now.  The living room is full of them. The garage is full of them. I even had a box salesperson visit me at the office today to sell me more boxes.

It’s a common mantra to “think outside the box.”

Boxes, boxes, boxes.

With all of the boxes around, including the one that we kind of define our existence with, i.e., this is my family, this is my town, this my religion, etc., there’s one box that I find myself thinking about more and more.  It’s not the one full of beer.

It’s the one that will be in the closet of some relative long after you’re gone. The one that they pull out every ten years or so to remember who you were. The one that has perhaps a trinket that meant something to you so therefore they hang on to it as some sort of talisman that somehow continues to keep you connected to them. Like physical objects have some sort of magical power. They sure have a hold on us, but I’m unsure of any magic.

About a year ago I was sitting in a farm-house in the Midwest and a friend pulled out the “box” of her recently deceased grandmother. A woman who was, by all accounts, a hard-working staunch catholic woman you’d expect to find in the rural farm land of Missouri. As my friend pulled out items one-by-one from the box – there were letters, paperwork, cash among other things – I was astonished to think about who little meaning there was in these items.

Now to be honest, I don’t know what went to other relatives and I don’t know if there were more items in a different closet or anything of that nature.

What I do know is that I left that event with two thoughts:

What the hell is going to be in my box. What will people want to hold on to remember me when I’m gone. Should they hold on to anything. Will it just another box filling up there lives?

Secondly, the legacy of this woman was so much more. It was the family that was kind enough to let me stay with them for a night when I was sort of stranded. It was amazing talents of my friend that was going through the box. It was the grandchildren that sat there interested but not really understanding what that box represented and not knowing they were there because of the woman, not the things.

I left that farm-house with the thought that, I don’t wan to be remembered by stuff in a box pulled out every so often to remind people I was here.

I want to be remembered because I was here, not because of items I left behind. Some people do that through family; others through deeds.  I’m still working to find my way, as I believe we all are.

What will be in your box?


I got piles and piles of Tom Petty

Today I boxed up my CDs which I intend to eventually get rid of. Over the years I have burned many of them to my computer. I hope to transfer to digital form the hundreds that I haven’t by the end of the year.

For most of my adult years I’ve dedicated a piece of furniture to proudly hold and display all of the CD’s that I’d spent years accumulating. Some sort of trophy rack. I find it interesting that today’s young music lovers don’t go through the exercise of showing off, for all to thumb through, their music collection. Now they just hand someone their phone. Many, many years ago when I worked at the IRS music was all that got me and my co-workers through a ten-hour shift.

Often we’d listen to the local radio stations like KGSR and legendary DJ Jody Densberg. Rolling Stone Magazine once called KGSR one of the “Ten Radio Station in America that Don’t Suck.”  We worked the night shift from 6 pm to 4:30 am so we’d listen to baseball playoff games, we’d listen to Larry King doing his AM radio talk show – this was before he’d moved to TV.  We’d trade mix tapes (Cassette tapes recorded from album tracks for you younger people. It was  a lot of labor and time.) The years I sat reviewing stranger’s tax returns filled my head with interesting topics and new music night after night. Somewhere in the first couple of years the Compact Disc player was introduced to the market and within a short while everyone was bringing their freshly pressed CD’s to work.

From there it became a nightly event to trade for the evening your discs with someone else as they were expensive and everyone’s collections were relatively small. Whether it was listening to Lloyd Cole from Clay Carver or America’s Greatest Hits from someone else there was always something new to listen to – especially after payday. When James McMurtry or other local Austin musicians would release a new album you could always count on someone bringing it to work that night and it being passed around to those interested. It was a lot of fun and a great way to find new music.  Running to Waterloo Records with your buddies and dropping $100 on new music was just what we did on regular occasions. I have a lot of great memories related to the music we bought and listened to.



It’s crazy to think that now days you can jump on You Tube and find almost any song and the artist performing it live. Music is pretty much on-demand these days. It’s fantastic from my point of view. Yet I know that I probably miss out of some “deep-tracks” that I’m never made aware of. The hidden gems that you’d never hear if you didn’t buy the whole album.  It’s not necessarily better or worse, just different.

At this moment, my CDs are all in a box by year’s end they will all be on a hard-drive and the CDs will be dispersed to friends or off to other parts unknown. I hope they the entertainment they have brought to me will continue along with them. I will be happy to not be carrying them around with me! Let me know if you need a floor-to-ceiling case for all your CDs , I’ve got one to get rid of. Now what to do with these books?

I make lots of mistakes

Red Knobs

Red Knobs

I don’t want to say I bought a stove because it had red knobs, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

And like the knob above says, I sometimes wonder if I was “high” when I decided to put a gourmet stove in my kitchen. I mean, come on, think about it, shiny stainless steel, two ovens, red knobs with high-contrast white lettering, those cast iron grates that could break your toe if you dropped one on your foot. Did you hear me? Two ovens! I mean, how many frozen pizzas could I cook at one time in that thing! I never found out.  I think they were both used at the same time for pies one time, but that had nothing to do with me.

I’d like to say that over the years I’ve gotten an extraordinary amount of enjoyment our of an appliance that cost probably 10 times what I could have gotten away with and I could’ve taken two or three incredible vacations with the funds. The truth is, every can of soup I cooked on the damn thing probably cost me $2 just in “gourmet stove tax” over six years.

I can probably justify that I get some of the cost of the stove back when I sell the house, but it certainly isn’t dollar-for-dollar. Was a $9,500 stove a mistake. Probably.

I’ve made plenty of those types of mistakes over the years. TV and advertising does a fantastic job of showing us the potential of an item and we then assume, with little hesitation, that we will use that item to its “incredible” potential.

Need to relieve back pain? Try this “anti-gravity” contraption. Not only will it fix your back but you can do upside down sit ups and have god-like abs in no time – if it doesn’t kill your back.

Almost everything I’ve bought over the years was predicated by me thinking I would be using it to its highest potential. The bright red Kitchen Aide mixer? Never made a damn thing with it. Soon to be sold at a garage sale having never been plugged in.

That floor steam-cleaning thing used once and worked like crap? Its yours for $5. Maybe you can figure it out.

How about that router that was going to jazz up some of my woodwork? Clean as the day it was bought. Someone needs it, I’m certain.

It’s not to say that I don’t use things I buy because I do. I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that I rarely use things to the potential or to the extent I convinced myself I would at the time of making the purchase.

There are exemptions of course and I think this is critical for me to think about as I am jettisoning possessions.

Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post I have to keep my cameras, but not all the associated gadgets. I absolutely love electric toothbrushes as does my dentist (or perhaps not, since he doesn’t get to fill my teeth.)

I’ve always hated mopping the floor and never felt like it got truly clean until – yes laugh if you want to – I bought the Shark Sonic Duo off an infomercial. The damn thing works and works well and as long as I’m residing in a place that requires floor cleaning I will have one!

It’s not that there aren’t possessions that do add value to ones life at a reasonable cost. It’s that they are shockingly low in number of when I look at all of the items I have lying around my home. And certainly there are things that are really valuable when you need them like say a hammer.

To be honest, right now, I don’t care if I ever need a hammer again. If I do, I’m not afraid to ask to borrow one.  At the same time, I’m a guy and I feel conditioned to have some tools around for some reason, so I probably will for a while.

This weekend I will begin really making piles of stuff. One pile “for sale,” another “donations,” yet another for “trash.” I hope my reasoning for items going into each pile is sounder than the reasoning that brought them into my home in the first place.

Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but this was not one of them:

Slap your troubles away.



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