Thursday, July 24, 2008

Minimalism really makes sense...

EDIT: I feel like this was a crash course for me in thinking about minimalism. It's gets my interpretation of the idea down, but it's not very clean. Too much attention to detail and not enough about the philosophy of minimalism. I feel like there's probably a set of rules or something by which any part of life can be evaluated to gauge it's necessity. Also, in establishing this, I may be able to understand my attraction to minimalism.

I'll have to put some thought into this, and hopefully simplify my life a bit in the process.

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Minimalism
really makes sense. To the extreme, it's not necessarily acceptable within our society, but with some consideration a balance can be found between the excessiveness of our culture and simple necessity.

What is necessary for daily life? I have a few needs that need to be considered for day to day operations: clothing, hygiene, eating, home comforts, computing, transportation, and tools for upkeep of transportation and everything else. This article takes into consideration my specific needs, but another person may be able to simplify some areas and add more detail to others. There may be quite a few people who fit into my mold pretty well though. Each of the above categories are explained in detail below:

Clothing is really only important because I have to be presentable at work and because societies rules will make it difficult to spend time around my friends if I look like shit. There are three categories of clothing that I need for survival. There is clothing for looking for work or for going to special events, clothing for working and daily life, and clothing for riding motorcycle. Pretty simple.

The clothing for daily life is easy. I need some nice shirts and pants and clean underwear and socks. When it gets really cold in the winter, I need to have a sweater or jacket to wear.

When I'm looking for work, I need to have not quite casual pressed dress shirts and pants with a tie. This works for weddings too. So, maybe two dress shirts, two ties, two pair of dress pants, and a pair of dress shoes. These are all in similar color and stored in a dark corner of my closet.

I haven't put a lot of thought into eating, but most of my meals can be made with the following: A large and small pot, pan, sharp knife, cutting board, plate, glass, coffee cup, fork, spoon, and plastic containers for storing extra prepared food. The minimalist would probably purchase mostly fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and buy other foods that can be stored dry in bulk, like dried fruit, nuts, rice, pasta.

From my perspective, the minimalist only needs a couple things at home outside of the kitchen. A couple of pads are nice for sitting on, a desk, maybe a book shelf, and sleeping materials.

It's pretty much the norm now to sleep on a bed. Whether the minimalist has a bed or not, the following are still needed: pillow and cover, sheets, and both a light and a heavy blanket.

Hygiene is simple. The minimalist needs the following: Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss; razors and shaving cream; soap and shampoo; and deodorant.

If hygiene in the home are considered, not much more than a broom, rags, and vinegar are needed.

Computing is an important part of life now. Even the minimalist can benefit from a computer. For the average person who doesn't do a lot of heavy design or programming on their system, a simple laptop is all that is needed. It is low power, has enough screen real estate for looking at pictures and watching videos, and is functional on the web.

All I need (that should probably read "want") for transportation is a motorcycle. I've learned through experience that the right gear will get me anywhere, any time of the year and in any weather. I have a truck now too, and I am reluctant to let go of it. I'll just leave it parked for a while and see what happens.

Assuming the minimalist is motorcycling for transportation, some consideration must be made for motorcycle gear. Motorcycle gear is as follows: Helmet, gloves, jacket, pants and boots. The helmet gloves and boots are pretty simple. I'll explain them first and then get into the jacket/pants stuff.

The full face helmet is universal, good in any weather, and is only replaced every few years or if it (your head) hits something in a crash. Two pairs of gloves are required: There is a set of leather gloves for dry moderate to hot weather and there is a waterproof synthetic pair for cold and/or wet weather. And, a pair of waterproof boots w/ good ankle protection can be worn year-round.

There are a crap load of different types of synthetic and leather motorcycle jacket/pants/suit options for riding in all different types of weather and climates. From a minimalist's perspective, all that is necessary is a mesh jacket with a removable liner for moderate weather and a good one piece synthetic riding suit for extremely cold and wet weather. I don't mention a good set of leathers because a dedicated minimalist is not going to be out corner carving on the weekends; that isn't a minimalist activity ;-), it's an activity requiring extreme specialization of skills and gear. It is arguable (and justly so) that leathers, as opposed to synthetic textile gear, should be worn for commuting on the freeway, but that's a topic for another article.

It is important to consider, at least from the minimalist's perspective, that motorcycling is only cost-justified if a low power, low maintenance, bike is ridden. Motorcycles and scooters can achieve much better gas mileage than most cars, but many larger (600cc +) sport bikes can drop below 30mpg when ridden with gusto. Smaller bikes only sip the gas and also do not eat up costly tires and chains as quickly.

Upkeep of transportation is pretty much just a good set of tools. There are very few things, at least considering regular maintenance, that the minimalist can't do to his/her vehicles without simple tools and maybe a set of jack stands. Beyond the jack stands for a car, a set of rafters in a garage or a more complicated lift might be needed to do some stuff to a bike like working on suspension or pulling a motor, but the minimalist probably knows enough people w/ a garage to not have to worry about that. Everything else, tune ups, valve adjustments, carb work, can be done with a good set of tools, cans of carb and brake cleaner, and a clean work environment.

Other things in the minimalist's home can be mended with a needle and thread, JB weld, bailing wire, and duct tape.

So on that note, we are left with my ideas on what is needed, but not necessarily what is not. I'm going to go find a bunch of stuff from my room that I can throw away.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Left Behind


Two weeks back, I panicked for a few minutes thinking I had left my laptop 150 miles up the freeway North of me at my parent's house. I pulled off at a truck stop to go through the crap in my truck to find it. Not until I had already called my friends to search their living room for it did I find it buried on the passenger floorboard, and breathed a sigh of relief. At one in the morning on a Sunday night on the freeway, a forgotten laptop means a bunch more gas burned and probably a missed day of work going to retrieve it.