“All I’m saying is if you want to be on a diet, you might want to stop hanging out by the dessert cart.” – 13, House, M.D.

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Recently, I’ve had some pretty good success with losing weight.  Sadly it has involved amputation.

Just kidding.  I’ve been losing weight due to what I eat.  Or, more accurately, what I don’t eat.

I’ll start my (average) weekly diet that I’ve been following for a while with my favorite day:

Friday

Friday Breakfast Menu:  All the coffee I want! (no cream, no sugar)

Friday Brunch Menu:  More coffee!  (no cream, no sugar)

Friday After Lunch Workout Meal:  Coffee. (no cream, no sugar . . . seeing a pattern here?)

Friday Late Tea:  Coffee.  (again)

Friday Dinner:  Friday night we normally go out.  That’s when the fun begins.  Habitually, I make the glamorous switch to iced tea (unsweetened).  While this may sound daring, it’s nowhere near as daring as . . . the appetizers.  Generally we have something fairly low carb, like calamari.  Mmmmm.  I’ll have a salad, a low carb vegetable like broccoli, and then a huge ribeye.  The Mrs. and I will share some wine with dinner, and generally a little more when we get home.

Saturday

Saturday Breakfast:  Mmmm, coffee!  But this time fresh ground good stuff.

Saturday Lunch:  Varies from nothing (50% of the time) to a low carb whatever.

Saturday Dinner:  This varies as well.

We have what is known as Gourmet Night.

The Mrs. and I were fans of the television series Hannibal.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show (which is most of you since ABC summarily cancelled their best show ever), it follows the career of Hannibal Lecter, a serial killer and cannibal.  It’s a great family show.

The show is particularly good at showing Dr. Lecter making dinner.  And in the scenes in the show where he’s in the kitchen with the food processor and a cut of meat, well, it is a show about cannibals.  You can’t help but wonder exactly what (or who) Dr. Lecter is having for dinner.

The scenes on the show, however, are shot in such a vivid, crisp and cinematic way and the food looks so wonderful on screen that it inspired The Mrs.

Since we have been having Gourmet Night, she’s made intricate dishes like Beef Wellington, Beef Bourguignon, and, last Saturday, it was ribeye covered in a cream mushroom sauce.  Oh, and a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

The Mrs. isn’t alone in her culinary inspiration from that show:  Hannibal inspired a cookbook.

I must state that no neighbors have been harmed in the making of any dish at Wilder Gourmet Night.

If Friends and Hannibal had an ugly baby, it would look like this.

Sunday

Breakfast: Coffee.

Lunch: Coffee.  Sometimes eggs and a breakfast meat, like smoked alpaca.

Dinner:  Something from the grill – steaks, burgers, brats, chicken, ribs, brisket.  The big Atkins cheat of the week is generally here – grilling and BBQ go with ice cold beer.  Hey, I don’t make the rules.  Mojo does:

Monday

You know the drill before dinner.  Coffee.

Dinner:  Either leftover BBQ meat, or, more generally, a salad.  Like a lettuce salad.  Some ranch or, more recently, lots of hot sauce and a little ranch.  Perhaps some torn up sandwich sliced chicken.  All the carbonated water I can drink.

During the weeknights there isn’t any alcohol.  As Mark Twain said,

Willpower lasts about two weeks, and is soluble in alcohol.

But he didn’t live to be even 150 years old, so what does he know?

Tuesday

Coffee.  Again.  I bathe in it.  I put it in my armpits for deodorant.  I rub it in my hair for conditioning.  I place it on my face for moisturizer.  I use coffee grounds to brush my teeth.

Dinner:  Salad (as above) and/or an Oscar Mayer® Portable Protein Pack.  I know, I know, they are horribly expensive for the amount of calories you get in the Portable Protein Pack – but part of what I’m paying for is willpower.  I had one.  I can say “Stop” that’s enough.

Sure, I could make my own, dice some ham and cheese, but the pre-packaging is just enough to say, “You’re done here, John Wilder.”

Am I hungry, especially during the week?  Sure.  But I’m surprised sometimes at just how full the two ounces (that’s sixty-five kilograms) of the Portable Protein Pack will fill you up.

Also, all the carbonated water that I want.

Wednesday

See Tuesday.

Thursday

See Wednesday.

You might think that on a diet like this, I’d be hungry occasionally.  No, not at all.

I’m hungry ALL THE TIME.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  I’m rarely hungry after a nice ribeye.  And coffee is much more filling than you might expect and also has the good side effect of doubling as my personality.  Also, your stomach shrinks, and it takes much less food to satiate (JohnWilder® Certified ACT Word) your hunger with a smaller stomach.

As far as skipping meals?

Starting in sixth grade, when they stopped making me eat lunch at school, I stopped eating it.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?  Never been all that interested in eating breakfast on a regular basis.

And, when I do eat breakfast or lunch, I don’t get less hungry during the course of the day, I get even more hungry and my hunger at dinner is even larger.  And, when I’ve had to work long (12-14 hour days) for a long duration (weeks), and they bring in lunch every day?  I’ve eaten lunch for the energy burst.  And, also the pants waist size increase, because who doesn’t want to gain weight.  I mean, they make bigger pants, right?

My mathematical formula relating lunch to weight loss looks like this:

  • Lunch once a week?  I can lose weight.
  • Lunch twice a week?  I can maintain weight.
  • Lunch three or more times a week?  I can expand like the Russian Empire.  I start covering my French Freedom Fries with mayonnaise and capitulate to the forces of metabolism and gravity.

When I’m working human length hours at work, however, I’ve learned that hunger actually isn’t strong enough (in the small amounts of it that I feel) to drive me to cheat on my diet.  That’s what wine is for.

“One piece of pizza surely won’t hurt,” says the wine.

Every person (by now, at my age) knows someone, or more likely multiple people, who have had gastric bypass surgery.  I’m not going into detail on the surgery, but after reading up on it, all I can say is I’d prefer the diet that I’m listing up above.  The people who I know who’ve had surgery have said nothing but good things about it, and I’ve seen a man lose so much weight so fast he looked like a candle on the black dash of a 1998 Toyota Corolla® in the Sun.  Literally, a candle melting inside the corona of our Sun, or so Jim Morrison told me.

But surgery sounds like much more work, pain, and much more cost than simply eating a lot less.

Besides, who needs surgery when I have all the coffee I can drink?

Before you go and jump into even considering this, GO SEE A DOCTOR!  I’m just telling you what’s worked for me and my results.  If you think this is good advice, write down JOHN WILDER KNOWS NOTHING 453 times in cursive.  Please, take responsibility for your own decisions, heaven knows someone has to.

“Wreck. Big wreck.” – Long, Sixteen Candles

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Maybe my new car?  I’d be stylin’ and profilin’ in this one!

Dear Internet, I was going to write to you about things other than cars, but, alas, it’s back to cars we go.  Please forgive me.

I’ve had the same daily driver car for nearly eleven years.  That’s over 38 metric years (which are 100 days each, and which I just made up).  You should see the names of the metric 10-day week!

Given that (ISSUE REDACTED-they told me I could talk about it after Donald Trump’s audit is done) occurred, the insurance company told me that the Wildercar is probably totaled.

I don’t appear totaled, but I thought that I’d use the experience to share a few (more) points about finances and cars.

My car was made before the final episodes of Malcom in the Middle and Arrested Development were made, so for me it’s quite a passing.  I’ve been in this car on tons of adventures with The Mrs., The Boy, and Pugsley all across at least sixteen mountain passes, two alternate realities populated only by members of the band “Journey,” and seven states.  And these aren’t small states like Connecticut or Delaware (which, let’s face it, are smaller than most master bedrooms in Texas), but proper states that you can’t throw an underinflated football across (talkin’ about you, Tom Brady).

I’ll miss the memories of that old car, since, according to math, if my average speed in it was 35 miles per hour, I spent 166 days behind the wheel.

But until the car I bought in 2012, this was almost the most expensive car I’d bought.

Here are my further thoughts on cars and wealth.

DEPRECIATION:

I bought it used, so the majority of the early depreciation was done.  Depreciation, for those of you not fluent in accountant, is the amount of money that evaporates from a car when you don’t keep it tightly sealed in a Glad™ bag.

The minute that you drive a new car off the dealer lot, it plummets in value.

Why?  Because we all agree it does.  Don’t argue!

The slightly longer answer is that most people would rather buy a <b>new car from a dealer with a nice pretty lot rather than someone selling it out in the alley behind the Costco™.  The really longer answer involves cats, string, and the feeble tug of Pluto on the brains of the members of the Federal Reserve, but we won’t go there.

My original purchase prices (cash only, right?cash only, right?) was about $11,000.  I anticipate that my insurance will end up paying me $4,000 due to a variety of factors.

Yeah, I lost $7,000 in value over ten years, but that was based on my price.

Remember I bought this used, about a year old?  Sticker price was about $22,000 for this car.  When it was sold to me, I bought it for half that – initial depreciation on this car was around $11,000!

So, yes, when I turn over the keys and title to the car undertaker, I anticipate that I will have (net) lost $7,000 over ten and a half years.  My net cost of ownership will have been $56 per month.  Per mile? About $0.05.  A nickel a mile!

OPERATING COSTS:

I’ve probably spent about $3,000 on repairs over the years, mostly standard stuff like exorcisms and at least two alternators.  Add in oil changes and tires and that’s probably another $2,000.  A warranty would have paid virtually none of these costs, so you can’t say that it makes sense to have purchased the car new.   Cost per mile?

About $0.04.

FUEL:

My guess on gasoline (at $3.50 a gallon over the life of the car) is about $0.14 per mile.  My car got okay mileage, not great mileage.

Now, you might say, “But John Wilder, life would have been so very much better for you if you didn’t buy so much gasoline!”

To which I retort, “HA!”

I looked at hybrids.

Toyota™ makes the Yaris® and the Prius©.  The Yaris© gets about 15 miles per gallon less than the Prius®.

As far as I can tell they are about the same size of car, so, assuming that you’re mainly buying that 15 miles per gallon, you could buy a Yaris™ and about 3,300 gallons of gasoline at three dollars per gallon for the same price as a Prius™.

If you look closely based on fuel economy, the Prius© is a better deal than the Yaris© after about 390,000 miles of driving.  Or 26 years at 15,000 miles per year average driving.

So, that’s the price of being a Prius™ owner.

I’d look at electric cars, but I don’t want to make the Tesla© and Chevy® Volt™ owners cry.

Insurance: 

I’m betting that insurance cost about the same $0.07 per mile – I did some back of the envelope numbers, and that’s what it came out to.

Unusually, I have full, full, full insurance.  I realize this goes against conventional wisdom and advice of many financial planners, but I have my reasons, and those reasons are:  ALL OF THE REST OF MY MONEY.

I got into a car accident in Houston way back when I was first starting to be worth slightly more than a used paper cup.  I rear ended they guy.  It was rainy, but it was my fault.  He said his neck hurt.

My blood ran cold.  I realized that every bit of my insurance was “Statutory Minimum.”

Crap.

He was (actually) joking about the neck hurting, but it was the best unfunny joke of my life.  Now I have insurance, umbrella insurance, and a little insurance person that follows me around looking for insurable events.  I gladly hand that person a relatively small amount of money to prevent to insure me against (unlikely) but devastating events.

My strategy as a 22 year old had been sound, “What are they gonna take if they sue me?”  Now that I’ve got WilderNetWorth, that equation has greatly changed.

Adding It All Up:

So, my costs to run my late, great, sedan are:

Item Cost
Ownership $0.05/mile
Fixing Stuff $0.04/mile
Gasoline $0.14/mile
Insurance $0.07/mile
Taxes $0.02/mile
Total $0.32/mile

 

Sure, you might do better, but most times you’d have to pedal to beat these numbers . . . .

 

Bonus Content, Not Available In Theatrical Release:

N+1:

Cars either run when you want them to run, or they don’t.  In our family we have a rule: Number of licensed drivers + 1 is the number of cars we have.  Not sure that it matters if they are older or newer cars, since you’ll have to have them in the shop sometime.  Have a spare, especially if it’s a cheap spare, kind of like United Airlines treats customers.

Air Conditioning:

For two years my air conditioning didn’t work in the Wildersedan.

I go to work in the morning and come home in the afternoon.  Most mornings in the summer are nice and pleasant.  If it’s a little warm?  Crack the window, what do you live in a mall?

Most evenings are as hot as the surface of Venus during a forest fire.  I rolled down the window and did what they did in 1950.  Dealt with it.  Still don’t know why no one wanted hugs when I got home in the afternoon in the summer on a hot summer day.

Yes, I’m that cheap.

Cost of Repair vs. Replacing The Car:

They say there is no price on love.

They lied.

There is some cost at which I’d just dump the car rather than repairing it – and for the late great Wildermobile that number was probably about $2500.  I had owned the car for years, and knew what generally went wrong, what was wrong, and what I could live with (see Air Conditioning).  Somebody else’s really old car?  That’s a learning curve.

Alternate Views:

Mr. Money Mustache (who I greatly admire) believes strongly in the philosophy of no cars and does a lot of pedaling.  He also (really) believes strongly in not having a job.  As soon as I decide to fully swallow the Mustache Pill, perhaps I will change my mind, but as of now I have a job, commute, and The Mrs. and I are sometimes a huge distance away from each other in a day.

Plus, he has no job.

 

Well, I’ll miss my old friend, from Detroit.  If there’s an afterlife for it, perhaps it’ll come back as Wal-Mart© shelf?

Anything but a Prius™ – I wouldn’t wish that on Kim Jong Whatever’s car.

“Buzz Aldrin was afraid of spiders and he went into space.” – Gus, Fargo (2014)

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I’m too young to remember when Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon, but somehow I still ended up with Apollo themed jammies and our family patriotically drank Tang©.  Mom bought scads of those Space Food Sticks© in the foil wrappers, which tasted like tubular chocolate flavored beef jerky. 

space food sticks

My Mom even found recipes for “hot Tang®” (Big Reveal: it’s hot water and Tang© powder) and made that drink for our frequent snowmachine expeditions. Hot Tang™ tastes like you might expect.

IT'S...1959! Tang Breakfast Drink

 

The entire hopes and dreams of our nation, and, indeed, the world followed three brave men as their capsule door was closed.  Thunderous engines fired, and the massive space ship shook off condensed ice on its hull as it shuddered, at first slowly, and then quickly into the Florida sky. Every television in the world was tuned to the voyage when the spaceship left Earth orbit and hurled into a lunar intercept.  The astronauts ran through the checklists, and in a journey worthy itself of a Hollywood film, managed to land on the Moon mere seconds before the lander would run out of fuel.  While preparing to launch back to rendezvous with the orbiting Apollo capsule, Buzz Aldrin looked down and saw the circuit breaker had broken off.  He then did the coolest thing ever done on the Moon:

“Since it was electrical, I decided not to put my finger in, or use anything that had metal on the end. I had a felt-tipped pen in the shoulder pocket of my suit that might do the job. After moving the countdown procedure up by a couple of hours in case it didn’t work, I inserted the pen into the small opening where the circuit breaker switch should have been, and pushed it in; sure enough, the circuit breaker held. We were going to get off the moon, after all.”

This was a total Boy Scout/Be Prepared moment.  Faced with the prospect of a lonely death in sight of his home planet, Buzz decided that no way was some stupid circuit breaker is gonna hold him back.  Buzz has steel in his soul and has the brains (BS in Mechanical Engineering, PhD in Astronautics) to take action.

apollo11-crew

You’d smile, too, if you were going to get to eat space food.  Buzz is on the right.  

Additionally, Buzz was the first person to pee on the Moon, but that wasn’t due to Armstrong’s lousy piloting, it was due to Buzz being a total dude.

So, you’re 39, you’ve just walked on the Moon. I mean YOU JUST WALKED ON THE MOON! (and peed on it, too) and . . . Now What?

When you achieve your goals, “Now What?” is the hardest question.  It was even harder for Buzz Aldrin.  He was internationally known, and had done a life’s achievement, but life was yet to be completed for him.  He already had his epitaph (“THIS IS THE SECOND DUDE TO STEP ON THE MOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”), and he was only 39. How do you go up from there?

He didn’t know, and that was the worst thing that can happen to a man.  (I think the answer may be different for women – men leave a legacy to history by what they do, women leave a legacy through their children, but I have no experience being a woman, other than the time the football team I was on dressed up like cheerleaders for a Pep Rally.  The clothes were not comfortable, except for the skirt.  The skirt was okay.)

In the 1970’s Buzz, his legacy seemingly set, spiraled downhill until he was ready to spiral back up.

What changed?  He changed, he moved his goals from being on the first team to the Moon to figuring how to best get man to Mars, and even now has figured out a fairly quick, low energy (not in a Jeb Bush way, but rather using less rocket fuel) way to get there that he’s trying to sell to NASA.  Is that a worthy goal?  Yes.  Is it one he can throw his whole being at and change the destiny of mankind (again)?  Yes.  But from me to you, Buzz, NASA can’t even get a paperclip into space right now, so keep spending time with that guy whose name rhymes with Belon Rusk.  Just sayin’.

(An aside, isn’t NASA not being able to send people into space a lot like, say, the Arby’s running out of roast beef????)

Buzz is a personal hero, for his intellect, but also for the way that he transformed himself to something better than before, by creating goals for himself that are lofty, meaningful, and difficult as can be, and being bull-headed enough to achieve them.

Why is he my hero?  Because I had (unwittingly) created a goal trap for myself.  I wanted to have sufficient funds to take care of my family for the foreseeable future.  This isn’t “buy myself an island and declare myself a sovereign nation type of money, but WilderNetWorth® (which is 10 years of life expenses in the bank, free and clear).  I hit that goal several years ago.  It’s not a bad goal, but for me it was probably too significant to the way that I thought about the world.  And I hadn’t been working on the next goal, or really, I hadn’t even defined it.  Frankly, I didn’t realize the problem was as big as it was for me personally.  Then I remembered Buzz.  Heck, if he can do it . . .

Now What?

That’s an interesting question, because if we don’t have a direction in life, regardless of the motion, we’re just treading water.  I know that Scott Adams has had wild success with his focus on Systems over Goals (and there is a great deal of evidence to support him) but there are times and places for goals, and perhaps even certain personalities that are goal driven.  Being good enough to be selected as one of the first people to go to the Moon just *might* imply a bit of goal driven behavior.  We will talk more about Mr. Adams philosophy the future posts (and I agree with him in many respects), but he is certainly one of the most original thinkers on the planet today.

But a system is a thing you do to maintain, and even improve.  At least for me, when I hit my weight goal, I’ll have in place a system to maintain.

All that being said – I still have goals.

Finding your goal for some of you is probably the easiest thing in the world, but for me it was hard, and I’m not sure I’m fully there even now.  I read dozens of books and websites, and two of particular help were The Nine Laws and Halftime.

 

Particularly useful for me was the exercise (in both books) that deals with owning up to your own mortality and deciding what you want to be known for.  Spending a few hours in that thought bubble will help you understand what really is important, and will get you focused on what is really missing in your goals.  And, in future posts, we’ll come back to that, too.

Now What?” for me (at least in part) are these words I’m writing to you right now – it’s my goal to be an uncomfortable influence on you every day (okay, at least three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) to ensure you wake up .  My goal is to be like Tony Robbins©, but with less hair, stalking you via this blog to encourage you on rough days, and to inspire you on good days to make them great.

Now, get up, get going and make the world awesome.  Otherwise I’ll make you drink hot Tang©.

Weight Loss and Penn Jillette

“You can’t say your favorite kind of cake is birthday cake, that’s like saying your favorite kind of cereal is breakfast cereal.” – Tom, Parks and Rec

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The way I look when I’m in a cake coma.  Mmmmm, cake.

I was hanging out with The Main Squeeze, talking.

Me:  “What are you doing next weekend?”

The Main Squeeze:  “Nothing.  You?”

Me:  “I’m free.  Let’s fly to Vegas and get married.”

Pause.

The Main Squeeze:  “Okay.”

I called up the frequent flyer number and got two tickets to Vegas.  This was before e-everything, so they actually overnighted the tickets to me.  Actual paper tickets.

We got there late on a Friday night and the next morning took a cab downtown to get a marriage license.  We debated the Star Trek chapel, the Elvis chapel, and decided to get married in the mall area at Bally’s Casino.

If you’ve not been to a casino, the first principle is to get you gambling, and then give you enough booze that you make poor decisions with your gambling.  The second principle is to overwhelm the senses.  The final principle is to have really extravagant stores so that winners can be parted with their money prior to getting back on the jet to Peoria.  We didn’t have to worry so much about the extravagant stores, since principle one and principle two had separated us from enough money that buying the signed NFL™ football© helmet® wasn’t going to be happening.

Sunday morning, we got married.  Truthfully we were a little hung over.  At the wedding chapel in the mall, the hostess went through the checklist.

“Married, right – have your certificate.”

“Right here.”

“Okay, religious or secular ceremony?”

“Religious.”

“Candles or no candles?”

I looked at the soon-to-be The Mrs.  She shrugged.

The hostess leaned conspiratorially closer to us and said in a low voice, “Candles cost extra.”

The soon-to-be The Mrs. shook her head.

“No candles.”  The hostess smiled.

We waited about 15 minutes for the pastor to show up.

He looked about as hungover as we felt, but his face brightened as he went down the checklist.

“Religious.  Good!”

He performed the ceremony and The Main Squeeze was now officially The Mrs.

So, you’re in Vegas, you just got married, what do you do?

If you’re the Wilders, you go and get tickets to Penn and Teller.  Penn and Teller, if you’re not familiar with them, they are comedy/magic, and, if you’re not careful, a bit of philosophy.

They performed this trick at the show, but unfortunately shot three audience members.  Remember, magic is not pretty!

At one point during the show, which I will remind you was being held at a casino, Penn Jillette said (and I’m paraphrasing):

“Folks, if you’re looking at an investment, look at those slot machines out there.  It says, in flashing neon, 98% return.  From the beginning, you know that you’re going to lose.  The best odds out there are the black jack tables, and if you use probability, and can count cards, over the course of gambling for a weekend with a $10,000 stake, odds say you might clear $500.  See all the bright and flashing lights out there?  The only thing keeping them on is the Hoover Dam, and bad math.”

Wow.

There are moments when you’re cured of something, but at that moment, I knew that I’d never be a serious gambler or have a gambling problem.

Cured,

of gambling,

in a casino,

by a magician.

Now, that’s magic.

After the show was complete, Penn and Teller ran off stage towards the doors that let us in.  Literally, they ran.  I thought they might have been late for something, like free yogurt, but when The Mrs. and I got to the exit, they were standing there, shaking hands with and talking to every fan.

Teller is the “silent” part of the act, and we talked with him first:

John Wilder: “You put on a wonderful show.”

Teller:  “You are a wonderful audience,” and he exuded humility and sincerity with every word, like he was grateful we came to his show.

We then moved on to Penn.

John Wilder:  “You were great out there.”

Penn put his hand to his head as if concentrating, eyes closed.  “John, that is your name, right?”

I was stunned.  He continued, “Thought so.  John, in 2017 you will write about my miraculous weight loss, and both the Red Sox and the Cubs will win a World Series® between now and then.”

He then disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

 

 Potatoes, stupid hobbit!

Fast forward to 2017 and my meeting with Bruce Wayne.  I’d promised myself that I would lose weight, so I began researching.

In the back of my head I remember hearing on the Internet about Penn’s weight loss.  I looked up what he did.  He lost NEARLY A POUND A DAY!  That’s 450 or so grams per day (as if that means anything to anyone).  He ate nothing but potatoes for two weeks.  It turns out that he was hospitalized due to his high blood pressure, which was caused by his weight and that got him motivated to change.

My conclusion was:

That’s simply not reasonable.

But weight loss isn’t reasonable.

Wilder Age Effort Required to Lose Two Pounds a Week
Before 20 Run.  A little.
Mid 20’s Run, 2-5 miles a day for several weeks
Late 20’s An hour a day on the exercise machine
Mid 30’s Run, 4-6 miles a day five times a week, skip lunch
Late 30’s Radical Atkins diet
Early-Mid 40’s Radical Atkins diet plus six hours a week exercise machine
Late 40’s Radical Atkins/Food Restriction plus three hours a week
Late 50’s (Projected) I will have to work hard enough to power Nebraska on a Skittle® a week
By the time I’m 70 I am declared a national treasure because my energy output is greater than all the oil and I pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and eat nothing, but my jeans are tight

And weight gain isn’t reasonable, either.  Let’s say you see someone who, like Penn, was 100 pounds (that’s sixteen megaparsecs in metric!) overweight.  You say, indignantly, “Boy, they sure let themselves go.”

Unfortunately, the math doesn’t quite agree with you.

A pound is roughly 3600 calories, so 100 pounds is 360,000 calories, or enough Diet Coke™ for all of the sororities at USC for a weekend.  But, 360,000 calories is around 300 calories a day for three years.  That’s two 12 ounce Cokes© a day.  (One ounce in metric = one Italian squirrel bladder.)

Let’s say 50 pounds.  That’s one soda pop.  A day.

As I said, weight loss isn’t reasonable.

So, in addition to being accountable, I now must cease to be reasonable.

So, what goal to go with?

The average goal for people in the literature is two pounds a week.  Seems legit.  But then I see 1% a week.  So, if you’re 200 pounds, that’s 2 pounds a week.  One hundred?  One.  That seems even more legitimate.

But then I see Penn losing nearly a pound a day.  Is that really real?

Yes.  A 27 year old from Scotland fasted for 382 days.  No food.  Over a year.  Of course, he had a head start at 456 pounds.  He made it down to 180 pounds, and five years later was 196 pounds.  There are multiple, similar cases on record.

When you think about it – that’s exactly what fat is for – it’s the emergency storage of calories so you don’t die during periods of prolonged famine.

I’m awesome at weight loss, I’ve done it a lot, but unlike my previous results, the man from Scotland’s main success wasn’t the 382 days, it was the fact that he reset and didn’t gain the weight back.  It seems to be working so far for Penn as well.

There’s a goal, the loss.  But that goal must be followed up with a change in lifestyle.

So, what am I doing next weekend?  Not eating potatoes, but I’m also not being reasonable.

Reasonable didn’t get me married in Vegas, and reasonable won’t get me where I want to go on weight.

John Wilder is not a doctor.  You would be stupid to take medical advice based on the ramblings of an internet madman.  As always, own your own decisions, and talk to a doctor if you have questions. 

As a bonus – if you have 45 minutes to spare, Penn and Teller’s 1986 film, “Invisible Thread.”

 

I’m gonna tell you about an accident, and I don’t wanna hear “act of God.” – Jack Burton, Big Trouble in Little China

DSC03797This car needs termite insurance?

Once upon a time, I threw money into the streets, until I learned a tough lesson on the tough streets.  It ended in blood, like it always does.

That’s probably enough hardboiled detective lingo for this post, but’s it’s all true.

When I graduated from high school, my dad bought me a new car.  No, not a Porsche®, rather a Buick©, that looked quite like:

skyhawk

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/32721534764741186/

What a Buick™ looked like in the 1980’s.  Sweet!

After that, I ended purchasing a used car in the second worst car deal I’ve ever done, and, after it exploded, bought another new car, this time a really cheap car, but still a new one.  The car was worth about 30% of my gross annual income.  And then interest rate?  Only 9%!

After paying sixty months on the car, it was still running like a champ!  Sure, it was a manual transmission, but it was awesome.  I had just installed a new CD player with a buddy.

I was on a date with The Mrs. (when she was still just The Main Squeeze), and we were driving down a divided, interstate highway-type road.  We had been fighting, and we drove silently down the dark multilane.

“Dear,” The Not Yet Mrs. said, breaking the silence of our fight.

“Honey,” I replied, looking her direction, happy that she had gotten over the fight.

“DEAR!” The Not Yet Mrs. yelled.

“HONEY,” I yelled back, looking at her.

She pointed in the direction we were heading at 72.3 miles per hour (that’s 5,000 liters per second, if you’re metric), and I looked forward just in time to see a deer suspended in midair, lit by the bright flash of burning out cracked headlights, both legs pointing toward the sky as it vaulted off the front hood and over the top of the car.

“Oh, deer.”

This was in the great and rumored time before everyone plugged into the matrix carried a cell phone.  Soon enough (half an hour?) a highway patrolman pulled up behind us, and examined the scene.

“Didn’t even hit the brakes, eh?  Must have jumped out at the last second.”

Me:  “Yes!  That’s much better than what really happened.”

The patrolman radioed for a tow truck, and The Main Squeeze and I leaned on the car, listening to the chorus of the dripping car fluids hitting the concrete.

“Well, it’s been paid off, at least.”

I had just finished payments on the car.  I noticed the check I got for the totaled car was less than half of what I’d paid for it, even though it was only five years old.

So, what did we do?  We bought a new car, got married, and bought yet another new car.  In that order.  On loans.

We could afford it?  Right?

Well, the combined cost of the cars was about 50% of what we paid for our mortgage.  Proportioning it out over our combined income, the value of the cars represented between 40% and 50% of what we made in a year.

Those cars killed us financially.

Fortunately those cars didn’t try to physically kill us – Video has one slightly NSFW word at the beginning

Eventually, The Mrs., on a bright and snowy day, wrecked one of our new cars. (Disclaimer – even though she was going to get me fried chicken, that does not make me culpable, and I never did get fried chicken that day).

The car was totaled, and her knee needed several stitches (say that six times fast).  I told you there was blood in the streets!

I took that insurance payoff check and paid off the other car.

We had no car payments as of that point.

And never have had one again.

Since that time, I’ve bought nine cars, and sold five of them, and the average price of those cars is less than $10,000.

The purchase price of all of the cars I own now is about 12% of my annual income, but I bought one of the cars ten years ago and another one of them eight years ago.  The average age of my cars is about ten.

Cars don’t kill me financially any more.

John Wilder’s Hard Earned Car Iron Lesson One:

If you can’t afford to buy a car with cash, don’t.  Don’t.  Don’t. Don’t.  Payments like these are an obligation.  Is there a time when you might need to break Lesson One?  Yeah, when you are just starting out.  Find someone nice to borrow money from, and pay them back as soon as possible.  Don’t ask me.  I said a nice person.

Interest payments kill happiness (more on this in future posts).

The Buy-Here/Pay-Here people are also not nice.  I talked to one gentleman who had bought a fifteen-year-old car for $5,000.  When that broke down, he financed the difference with them and they took the car back.  Last time I talked to him he had a car that was worth about $3,000 that he owed $10,000 on.

Don’t be him.

John Wilder’s Hard Earned Car Iron Lesson Two:

You can’t possibly afford a new car.  Cars aren’t investments, with the exception of the 1967 Camaro® RS© with Highway Headlights.  And I don’t advise those, either.  A new car is the worst purchase that you can make, outside of a tattoo of your soon to be ex-girlfriend’s name or Kardashian© Footed Pajamas.

New cars are expensive, and even if you pay cash for them (thus avoiding interest payments), you will still have to pay much higher insurance rates as well as higher sales and property tax (depending upon where you live).

Additionally, everything about the new-car buying experience is built around lulling you when you agree with them (Full Sticker Price Means NO HAGGLING!  Just sign here.) or doubting yourself into anxiety and fear when you haggle by forcing long delays while they “clear the deal with the boss.”

This is how car salesmen want you to feel, except with less Jell-O™

Exceptions to Iron Lesson Two:

  1. If you like buying something that’s worth 50% to 60% of its value after five years (that’s $15,000 off of the current average new car price of $33,000), please, do so. Also, if you think you’ll save that $15,000 off of warranty service, when was the last time you spent $15,000 on fixing a car?  $15,000 is enough to repair an older car for, what, a decade or more?
  2. If you are one of the few who can really afford it, and want it to drive to your private MiG fighter jet to fly to your hidden lair? Go for it.  I suggest a Tercel®.  Seriously, rich peoples can do what they want.

Weird Wilder Fact:  I actually rode in a car owned by a billionaire (his wife’s daily driver).  It was nice – a Mercedes®.  A five-year-old Mercedes© with worn interior and a cracked plate surrounding the CD player.  It was rumored that the car could take a strike from a rocket-propelled grenade, but I didn’t have one, so we couldn’t test that theory.

John Wilder’s Hard Earned Car Iron Lesson Three:

If the car is worth more than 15% of your gross income, don’t buy it. This Iron Car Lesson is one I’m debating on, but the principle (if it’s 10% or even as loose as 20%) is the same:  have hard limits on what you spend on a car.  This rule gets very much relaxed for people who have WilderNetWorth© (I just made that term up, I like it!).

If have WilderNetWorth©, which I am right now defining as enough money that you don’t have to work a day of job for the next ten years and you and the family are fine, the rules are relaxed.  You can afford to splurge.  But there’s no way you get to WilderNetWorth© and ever consider burning that kind of cash on a car (hint, see how billionaires buy cars above).

John Wilder’s Hard Earned Car Iron Lesson Four:

It is no longer 1940.

Cars are more reliable now than ever before (I know that may be changing for the negative soon due to government CAFÉ regulations fiddling with the transmission, but my statement remains).  You can keep a 2003 Ford or Chevy sedan going FOREVER on a $1000 a year, if you know a good and honest mechanic (and, unlike unicorns and a balanced federal budget, honest mechanics do exist).

Since my cars are older, I don’t like to take them on long family vacations, especially when the weather is inclement.  So, I rent a car with unlimited mileage for about $30 a day and enjoy pretending I bought a new car that my kids spill trip food and trip trash in and then someone else cleans up.  I will admit that, alongside the interest payments, I also miss paying so much in taxes and insurance, which are nearly zero for a ten year old car where I live.

So, avoid the Iron Laws at your peril.  I’m certain I’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars following them in avoided insurance, depreciation and taxes, as well as spending that money reducing other debt, so I can now say I’ve got WilderNetWorth©.

Although the dame didn’t know it yet, when she stumbled into that accident, it was the luckiest move of her life . . .

I guess I couldn’t resist another hardboiled detective line.

Attention and Note:  I’m not a licensed financial adviser.  I don’t intend to be one.  You need to put on your big boy or big girl pants and own your own decisions.

How to be Happy

Yes, that’s a picture of a rainbow over an outhouse.  And why not?

“How would you like to spend the next several nights wondering if your crazy, out-of-work, bum uncle will shave your head while you sleep? See you in the car.” – Uncle Buck, Uncle Buck

 

When I was a kid, I was a sneaky kid.  A really awful four-year-old.  There wasn’t a drawer in our house that I hadn’t explored – and I knew where my Mom kept odd bits of things, like quarters, or ballpoint pins.

I also went through the medicine cabinet, and, on one occasion found a clear plastic on one side/foil on the other side square set of pills.  There were 28 of them.  At least there were 28 of them prior to me eating a dozen or so and determining that they were really, really crappy candy.  It turns out those were birth control pills, and although I got a fairly strong lecture from Mom about eating medicine on a lark, it turns out those pills were incredibly effective, as I have not gotten pregnant even once after ingesting them.

I imagine the doctor laughing after they called him and explained the situation . . . “Your four year old ate what?”

In one of my foraging trips I went through the sideboard . . .

True Fact:  Okay, I had to look up the name for this piece of furniture.  The Mrs. suggested “china cabinet” but there’s no glass door, and but the piece of furniture really is this:

Think of the sideboard as the precursor to modern-day kitchen cabinets, and you will have a good picture of what this piece looks like. It’s long and waist high or a bit lower, with a surface for placing food on top, cabinets below and very short legs — or no legs at all.

That’s according to the website “houzz”, which I can only assume is housing advice from the members of ZZTop.

Anyhow, I was looking through the sideboard and pulled open the top drawer, and found, amongst the things that Dad emptied from his pockets on a daily basis, two little pamphlets.  Although the topic of the second pamphlet escapes me, the topic of one of them was “Attitude.”

I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget the picture on the front.  It was of a man who obviously had no money, given the threadbare condition of his suit and the shabby hat and the unshaven face.  Imagine the word “bum” or “hipster” and you’ll get the idea.

 

I really tried to find a copy of the pamphlet picture, but gave up when these were the types of results I was getting

But on his face, as he’s smelling the aroma from a cup of coffee, is the face of the happiest person on earth.  Beatific is the word that always comes to mind.  The synonyms for beatific are: rapturous, joyful, ecstatic, seraphic, blissful, serene, happy, beaming.  This is not an ordinary happy, this is happy squared.  This is a state of being where one is entirely present, and every fiber of your being is experiencing joy.  It’s probably how you feel when you think about a new post being up on this website.

Remember, it’s M-W-F now, people!

So, here is someone who even my four year old brain could calculate the net worth of from the drawing (some string?), and yet I could plainly see the bliss on his face.  All due to that cup of coffee.

Now, coffee is awesome, but is it that awesome?

Even at four, I was no stranger to coffee.  After the adults left, I’d finish what was in their coffee cups, even though Grandma McWilder told me that it would turn my knees brown.  But to get that much enjoyment from coffee?

Yes.  It’s possible.

Think of your first kiss, a cold beer on a hot day after hard work, and your first cup of hot coffee in two weeks on a cold day.

There are things that we experience in each and every day that are miracles that we wall ourselves off from.  In most instances, our lives are nearly entirely empty of actual adversity, so we create it ourselves.

One thing I have found is almost all of my unhappiness derives from something that either:

  1. Hasn’t happened yet, but might, or
  2. Happened in the past, but that I can’t change

Some people may be unhappy about what other people have (fortunately for me, I seem to have avoided that curse, as I like it when good things happen to other people) or maybe the living room temperature is off just a bit and doesn’t meet their expectations.

Now, if you’ve just been attacked by a Tyrannosaurus Rex and are bleeding on a sidewalk in Jurassic Park®, sure, you’ve got some legitimate gripes.

There are no events that are happening in the here and now that drive me to be upset.  Let’s take this very moment – having a beer while the ribs are cooking in the smoker, going to be done in an hour.  I’m typing and listening to “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac, and I’m telling you that, while it’s okay to think about tomorrow, it’s certainly not okay to dwell on all the bad things that can happen tomorrow.

And we do that, and we’re taught to do that.  The old phrase from the news?  “If it bleeds, it leads.”  News is meant to grab you right by the adrenal glands (is it just one gland or is it two?) and to make you upset.  We are taught to get wound up about things that don’t impact us at all, and certain groups are great at getting people all riled up over nothing (I’m looking at you, Canada, trying to look all innocent and everything).

“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.” – Marcus Aurelis’ Facebook Feed

I went camping with a Boy Scout Troop (The Boy was a new Scout at that time, and parents are always invited).  It rained all weekend long.  It started Friday night, and rained pretty much every hour.  Plus it was in the 40’s and 50’s (F, not C – no socialist units here!).  It was cold and rainy.

As we stood under an awning, making breakfast on Sunday morning, one of the Scouts (11 or so) said, “What an awesome weekend this was,” while eating soupy oatmeal out of a mess kit in the drizzle.

And it was an awesome weekend.  When you are 11, you don’t create the conception that each weekend should be sunny and 72F.  Essentially, each of these boys allowed themselves to be cold, wet, hungry . . . and happy.

Coffee is important – I know I derive 90% of my personality from it.  And, if I let myself, the aroma from a cup of coffee on a Monday morning when I’m at work but would rather be in bed can still make me the happiest person on Earth.

If I let it.

But I’ll skip the birth control.  Those pills taste like chalk.

 

“I’m Batman,” – Batman, in Batman

Bruce Wayne and I were sitting having iced tea.  Okay, it wasn’t the real Bruce Wayne, but it was close enough.  I was in the process of asking Bruce for advice, because, if you knew Bruce Wayne, you would ask him for advice too.  For the record, the iced tea was real iced tea.  Brewed, even.  Not a mix.

Bruce and I had shared a few stories.  I told him how I’d saved 20 odd men by stopping an explosion in the nick of time using my calm, cool and collected command while others were paralyzed by the shock of the unfolding events.  He countered by telling me how he had (using only his briefcase, his martial arts training, and his quick wits) subdued two armed bandits that were up to no good in a dark alley at night.  I countered with the time that I saved the Earth from falling into the Sun using my super-strength to stop the UFO people from  . . . oh, wait, only the first two things are true . . . .

See, I told you I knew Bruce Wayne.

With. A. Briefcase.

(I’m betting it was a Batcase he devised in his secret Batcave.)

Our topics which led (more or less directly) into restarting this site, ranged fairly far and wide.  And then I made my mistake.

“Well, Bruce, I’m certainly going to lose some weight.”

A smile.  “Really.  As you know, John, I just lost a few pounds.”

This part is true.  How Batman Bruce could be in even more optimum weight was beyond me, but, yes, he had lost some weight.  I saw him before and after.

“And, John, I had a friend that I reported to weekly.  In fact, I sent him a report card weekly.  You can send me a weekly report card, if you want.”

Not a command.  An offer.  That was somehow worse.  It was up to me.  Not some outside entity.  Me.  If I never sent him a report card, Bruce might have forgotten (but Batman never forgets), and I would have carried on, same as before.

That meeting happened on a Monday.  On Tuesday, I hit the gym with renewed vigor.  The sweat poured down my body, and in the course of a two minute montage of me training, I mastered karate, boxing, and lost 35 pounds.

No.

I did work harder.  And began to get serious, perhaps even a bit fanatical about my diet and exercise program (there will be much more on this in future posts).  At the end of the week I’d have to tell Bruce how I’d done.

I realized that Bruce had made this offer to help me.  And, even though I’d hit the gym for 756 hours the previous year, I’d gained five pounds.  I realized that this was indeed the spark.  The Mrs. could not hold me accountable.  Nor The Boy or Pugsley.

Nor could my Grandma have been the person.

Oh, Johnny, but you tried so hard. Want some more cake?

So, I’ve now been reporting to Bruce for several weeks, and have exceeded goals most of them.  Why would this work when all of the previous years of sweat not work?

Accountability.

There is an accountability that comes from having someone review your report card.  The Roman philosopher, Seneca said (about 2000 years ago):

“We can remove most sins if we have a witness standing by as we are about to go wrong. The soul should have someone it can respect, by whose example it can make its inner sanctum more inviolable.  Happy is the person who can improve others, not only when present, but even when in their thoughts.”

And would you want to disappoint Batman?