john mcginnis

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since Jul 07, 2013
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Recent posts by john mcginnis

Well first of all, a city, any city is not a basis for 'frugal living'. Urban centers by their very nature live in an 'excited state' to borrow a physics term. That requires those residing therein also have to operate at that higher cost plane. People in NYC are leaving because they cannot afford to live there and they are making six figure incomes!

When I started out I had a job but was barely above minimum wage at the time. Apartments were full up and those that were available were out of my price range. A friend of a friend was moving out of town and had a boat he had to unload. Nobody was interested as there were dock leins on the boat. I went to talk to the dockmaster, approaching the building I noticed a 'apply within' sign. Inquiring they were looking for a night manager which kicked my original intent in high gear. Short of it was I swung a deal to trade my time 'on site' to pay off the dock fees, paid pennies for the boat (friend was desperate to unload it.) and essentially moved in. It was cheaper than any rent in town even though there were some inconveniences of living on a boat.  

Today I would not be able to pull that off, regulations, etc. That is another reason that cities frugal unfriendly. You have to live to a certain standard or enforcement comes looking for you. Bottom line is frugal living requires unconventional thinking to make it work.
1 week ago
Any system that is dependent on 'growth' is suspect and that includes supposed green tech sustainable systems.

Teslas, Prius's, etc are not sustainable. They depend on a power plant to be charged.

Even composting has a limit, as the prime mover is only laid down 1.4kw/hr/m^2 (the sun).

This very website makes the case that the ole filament bulb is more 'green' than CFL's.

As always choose wisely.
2 weeks ago

"Hi John,

You are mostly correct about the fence posts and rot but not for the reason you think. The posts are fine underground since they are not exposed to a large amount of oxygen. They will eventually rot as there are anaerobic decomposers but they are not nearly as efficient as aerobic ones. The post from 6" underground to the bottom of the post can have a lot of moisture and that's not really a problem. What you can't have is moisture and oxygen together. ..."

I think you made my point without realizing it. If you had two variables to control, oxygen or water, which is easier to accomplish? Water denial would be the obvious choice.

Do posts fail as I have described? Sure do, after about 20yrs or so which is acceptable pattern for me. For a housing structure probably not however which is generally why other techniques are used for ground contact -- the most common being 'Don't even try'. In my area there are several historical settlers homes that still exist. All of them are using either a stone foundation or brick as pads for joist and frame construction.

2 weeks ago
Well first off selection of wood is of critical importance and pine would be the last thing I would select if I had a choice of woods. i do have osage orange and use it for picket. Lasts forever.

Second item, moisture. Without standing moisture there is no rot. Ever dug up a concrete/wood post? The post rotted at the soil line 90% of the time, the in-crete portion is usually still intact as is the portion further away from the soil line. That suggests two solutions I have learned from old timers who don't use any preservatives. If you must use crete then drop in a rock, then the post, then the crete. That seals the foot of the post. But and critically important, you must raise the crete line above the soil line by about 6" minimum, higher if you live in a snow zone. The top of the crete should have a down taper to shed water. The other approach is with using stones/gravel. Dig the hole twice the diameter of the post, post then gravel to the soil line. Only works best in soils that drain and never in hard packed clay (you just created a bucket...). One gent I knew on sloping land would drive a iron pipe sideways into the hole then withdraw it. Then pack the exit with sand permitting the water to escape.

My approach and it s a cheat, I don't use wood. I create a hole with whatever. I then drive a length of rebar into the hole. Then a piece of 2" PVC pipe. Bore and place any fastening points then pour crete down the pipe. It may not be 'green' but in places when fence line has to cross a creek or drain its better than replacing wood every 3-5 years and the loss of livestock.
2 weeks ago

Victor Skaggs wrote:
Remember that no generation is a unit... among us from the 60's there are radicals and hippies and back-to-the-land people, and there are also alt-right, ultra-conservatives and money-grubbing yuppies. The same is true of every generation, and I'm convinced most of our fate is not in our hands. We're all being severely manipulated. Hang in there... it is possible to do the right thing despite the forces arrayed against us all.

I bought into the  'were manipulated....' line for quite some time till I realized the only person who manipulates me is ME. Every other form of manipulation is in reality a trade. You take the 'free college money' as the asset. The liability is there is strings attached and interest to pay. Someone has already mentioned they spent $16k for a car and has payments. That too is a trade.

Sorry but way too many people buy into the new and shiny and the urge of convenience. They are trading their future for now!
1 month ago
I am an old Boomer so pass on me if you wish.

Chris Kott laid out a pretty convincing 'why he can't' and considering the bad advise many of the younger generation have received I do have sympathy. So let me instead offer what is probably some reasonable advice for any 18yo.

* Go to the BLS website. They have a section that details payroll data by occupation. (eg system engineer, etc) Review what you reasonably have an aptitude for, eg. if you hate math don't consider actuarial science as a career.
* Note where these occupations are located. Yes actuarial science is probably going to be located in a major city. Not the direction you want to go if you want to get back to the land.
* Figure the number of years that it takes a person in that occupation by gross income to pay off the college debt. If it takes more than 5 years its probably not a good choice.
* If you are looking at college do ask for numbers as to how many semesters it takes for 75% of the entrants to finish a degree taking a normal course load. You might be shocked.

These days the trades are probably a better choice. There are welders making $100k on oil rigs. High voltage electrical techs making the same or more. An HVAC tech can make $60k if they have the hustle. More if they get qualifed for servicing commercial systems. The plus is they are highly portable skills.

Next, there ARE towns that are willing to pay you to move there. (eg:

Hope it helps someone.
1 month ago
For the OP, beware. There are many trade schools that are nothing but diploma mills. ALWAYS find out the % success rate of THAT particular school at THAT particular campus in placing graduates. Otherwise you are going into debt for nothing.

As far as trades:

* diesel
* residential electrician
* welding

These are always in demand trades and fully applicable to use on the homestead.
2 months ago

raven ranson wrote:I am thinking I may need a smartphone next year so I'm trying to discover what kind of plan I need.

First off listen to John Daly. Smart phones are like a gateway drug, you have to have willpower to use them wisely. (I have 20% flunk out rates in my classroom due to Twitterittis.)

Based on your intended uses, acquire a pad that has OTG and front and back cameras. I have had success with alldocube -- (I have no financial interest.). All this stuff comes from China these days so cut out the middleman. I have their M3 and M4S (now M5S). Get the M5S, it has dual band wifi and 4g LTE support. All in I paid $215 for the M4 and it was at my doorstep two weeks later.

The downside -- the cameras. 2MP front, 5MP rear. They could use an update. If you really demand some really HD all the time? Well you might be disappointed.

If you do go this route, request that Google Play be preinstalled. I am not familiar with Canadian cell carriers so no help there. The one thing you might want to include in your decision matrix is do they have extended wifi network as part of their plans. That can provide access to hotels, airports, etc that may not be free access.

Good hunting!
2 months ago

Angelica Harris wrote:I'm a little stumped. The situation is a market garden. The question simply how much and how little? Numbers were never my forte so I thought I would ask.


Benji provided the rough paper napkin calculations. Here is what is equally important -- Can you sell what you produce?:

* Go to the market in the morning right as they open. Notice what the vendors are selling and the associated prices. Leave.
* Return to the same market just before closing and see what those same vendors are selling now and their prices. What did they sell out of? What were dogs?

The difference in the two prices will give you a fair shot of the price range of produce. It should also provide an idea of what are the best sellers and which are not. But it is only a snap shot for that part of the season. You would really have to repeat this for 15-20 weeks to understand the dynamics of the market as it relates to seasonal pricing.

* Get a copy of the market rules. Some markets require you to commit to a whole season which might be a show stopper.
* If the market permits wholesalers pass on that market. You are competing against conventional AG and won't be able to beat their pricing.
* Based on the rules, define your minimum volume to break even.

It is useful to know what your bottom dollar pricing might be. A good place to start is the USDA retail market reports -- . These reports are published weekly and broken down by regions.

If you get good at a particular crop you might consider contract growing. I buy all my tomatoes that I can from a lady who just has the 'knack'. (She puts me to shame, snif). I put down a deposit based on how many #s I want. When they are ready I go to pick them up and pay my balance. Any excess she sells as a U-pick deal first come basis. Its not a CSA, more like a kickstarter kind of arrangement.

Good luck and hoping for your success.

2 months ago