My New Saltwater Aquarium

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to get an aquarium.  I have kept a few in the past with moderate success, and it is one of the more attainable items on my small list of things I’d like to have.  I already have the best grill money can buy and a nice pool table.  The only remaining material items I want for a complete life are an indoor basketball court and a restaurant quality pizza oven.

I did a ton of research, mostly online, and by visiting a few local fish shops with Tommy.  Tommy loves watching the fish, which is another way I was easily able to justify the large purchase to myself.  These days there are tons of resources on youtube for beginners up to advanced aquarists.  One of the most informative is the 52 weeks of reefing series.  The host of the show has one of the more annoying voices I’ve ever heard, but the material is pretty comprehensive.  I’d say that I probably already knew about 50% of what he talked about before watching, but it was a good refresher.

The aquarium I decided on is the LED Coralife Biocube 32.  It is cube shaped glass and holds 32 gallons of water.  The appeal for me is that it is a bit of an all in one, in terms of most vital components.  The canopy itself made me choose it over most other models due to the fact that we have a very curious cat.  I was a bit worried that the cat might try to jump into the more modern topless options.  The aquarium provides areas for the mechanical and chemical filtration, as well as providing a pump to return water back to the main tank area after it has passed through the filter.

The aquarium comes with a canopy that provides LED lighting.  The LED lighting is a newer technology that was not available the last time I had an aquarium.  The LEDs are quite strong and good for keeping most corals. The canopy also has a built in timer that allows for controlling the time different light patterns are on or off.  In addition it has a setting simulating sunrise/sunset as well moonrise/moonset for the first/last thirty minutes of a cycle.  The moonlight setting at night is probably the coolest thing about the light setup.  It really makes the coral look great.

Other than the aquarium, I purchased a few additional items such as a heater, extra water pump, and cheap protein skimmer.  These components were pretty inexpensive and cost under one hundred dollars in total.

As shown, the initial setup consisted of 20 lbs of live sand and roughly 30 lbs of live rock.  A significant portion of the live rock was also aqua cultured which is a great sustainable way to get things started.  After the initial nitrogen cycle completes, it will be time to add some livestock.

 

 

Week 7 – Sincerity

Sincerity: use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Sincerity.

Last week, as part of the Industry virtue, I deleted all social applications and reddit from my phone.  I haven’t deleted all my accounts, just the applications.  It has been a positive change.  I found myself spending significantly less time on my phone.  I didn’t receive a notification all week other than text messages and phone calls.  It is something I am going to continue.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Week 6 – Industry

Industry: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Industry.

Living frugally last week turned out to be a good thing.  I saved a lot of money on groceries, pet care, and saved a ton by not going out to restaurants.  I chose the cheaper option on just about everything.  It’s amazing how many decisions there are throughout the week on where and how to spend money.

This week, I’m going to delete all social applications from my phone.  I am constantly checking my phone which is unnecessary.  I haven’t gone to the extreme of deleting all my accounts, but I plan to cut off everything unnecessary.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

The Incompetence of the Denver Post

It’s no secret that newsprint is dying.  Mostly all news is delivered digitally.  Why would I wait for a morning newspaper to read the news I can get on my phone?

For a while, I enjoyed receiving the Sunday paper.  It became part of a morning routine.  Wake up, walk the dog, make breakfast, and eat breakfast while reading the paper.  I mostly get news from specific sources and have things filtered down only to what interests me.  It was nice reading the different perspectives on Sundays.  The Sunday paper also contains a lot of grocery coupons that could easily offset the price of the subscription.

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Sunday Paper from the Denver Post

My issue with this news outlet is their terrible delivery and customer service.  After subscribing, I would receive the paper late.  When the paper would arrive, it would come anywhere between 8AM and 12:30PM.  Most, if not all customers, have an expectation of receiving this ancient news delivery medium at a reasonable time.  When I delivered the newspaper as a kid the minimum acceptable time of delivery was before 6:30 on weekdays, and 7:30 on weekends.  To get a decent tip from customers, the paper would need to be delivered at around 5:30.

In addition to getting the paper late, I would often not receive the paper at all.  I would only get maybe 1 out of every 2 deliveries.  This would result in having to call the customer service line, which takes at least 30 minutes to get through.  They would often redeliver a paper later in the afternoon.  Receiving a credit on the bill was hard to get without spending a lot of additional time on the phone.

It is frustrating to support a dying service, and not at least receive the product.  After 4 missed deliveries in two months, I decided it was time to cancel the service.  The phone call for cancellation went quickly.  After explaining why I was cancelling, the customer service representative didn’t try to make it right.  I was expecting at least a conversation to try to get me to stay.  Since I was calling a few days into a billing cycle, I would still be charged for the whole month of missed papers because it is their policy to not issue refunds.

I cancelled the newspaper service at the end of last year.  Life without the paper has been simpler.  It is one less thing that demands my time, and has the obvious cost savings from killing a subscription.  I can use this saved money for something with more purpose.

For the last six weeks, I have received five Sunday newspapers.  I haven’t been billed for it, it seems to be a result of the incompetent delivery service.  I’m likely getting someone else’s paper.  I think it’s kind of funny that they are even screwing up my free deliveries one sixth of the time.  After getting a few of these, I thought it would be best to contact the paper about the error.  The only reason for doing so, is to help the person like me that is getting missed. 

After all of this, I still continue to receive the paper, which goes straight to the recycling bin.

Week 5 – Frugality

Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Frugality.

Last week’s virtue was Resolution.  As part of this exercise, I resolved to finally get to some of the items that have been on my todo list for a long time.  One of the older, but important tasks was doing something with my old 401K accounts.  There are lots of ways to “do something” with those accounts.  Perhaps my todo list item should have been a little more clear.  It’s difficult to figure out the correct next action for “do something”.  Depending on who you ask, there are several correct ways to accomplish this.  I’m choosing the easiest and minimalist approach of transferring my old accounts to my current employer’s plan.  Feel free to tell me why I’m an idiot for doing this in the comments.

To do this, there is a lot of process.  First, you need to make sure your address is up to date with all the old accounts.  This takes up to 10 business days in some cases.  Second, you need to request a transfer check to be mailed to your address.  In my case, the check must be made out to a very specific bank and include my social security number on it, which is against policy of my previous employer’s accounts.  At that point, there is some paper work to do, and the check can then be mailed back out with my elections on where to invest the money.  During resolution week, I got the process started, and have some checks in the mail.  We’ll see how it all turns out.

I’ll start this week’s virtue in a couple of minutes by shopping at the less expensive grocery store, only buying what we absolutely need and purchasing the cheapest items.  Lately, I’ve been shopping at the more expensive place, buying organic when available, and usually going to the store when hungry which leads to a lot of impulse buying.  This has also been a negative impact on the family’s grocery budget.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Application Minimalism

I have been interested in, and practicing minimalism for the last five or so years.  One area I haven’t fully implemented this is with phone applications. Over the years, I have downloaded and kept around too many Android applications.  As you can tell by the lack of focus or theme to this blog, I’m interested in a lot of things.

Unfortunately in the world we live in today, individual specialized applications are the fastest way to access information.  If I need to access stock prices, I have an app for it.  The same is true with news, and sports scores.  It is possible to access some of these with a single browser, but it is not as fast.  Highly accessed information, such as weather, has a “widget” on android that makes accessing the information as fast as unlocking your screen.  In some apps, this information is even presented to the user on the lock screen.  I check weather often, at least daily in the morning.  The extra five user actions to retrieve the information(unlock screen, open searchable app, type weather, click search button, find relevant results) are a hassle.

Some applications provide a utility that uses phone hardware to help with every day life tasks.  The flashlight app utilizes my phone’s camera flash to provide a large amount of light.  There is a bubble level app that utilizes the gyros built into the phone to tell wether or not something is level on multiple axes.  Apps like Uber use location services/GPS to assist with finding your location.  I also have a compass and barcode reader installed.  I use these applications somewhat uncommonly, but they do have their uses.  Recently, I used the level to level the stand for a new aquarium.

Some applications are companion applications to an external piece of hardware that I have.  For example, the Fitbit application pairs with my device and is used to transmit data back to their service.  I have the DJI GO app which is required to operate my DJI Phantom drone.  I have a bluetooth enabled meat thermometer which can talk to my phone providing instant temperature readings.  The opposite is the Nest app that allows me to control the temperature in my home from anywhere.  There is also the Toyota Entune app which pairs with my truck giving it access to the web.  Several remote controls for TVs that I had at one time, and a remote control for my Fuji XT10 camera which is capable of wireless connections.  I can control the camera, see a live display, and even transfer files with the app.

I have a lot of apps that deal with audio/video.  The nice thing about these apps is that they are capable of sending data to external devices such as TV or stereo system.  I typically use the Chromecast and Chromecast audio for this purpose.

Games.  I have a lot of games on this phone.  They are great for passing time on a long flight or otherwise wasting a large chunk of time.

In the less useful category, I have a suite of apps that basically wrap their associated web content into an experience that is user friendly on the mobile device.  This content can be accessed in the web browser on the phone, but the experience may not be the same.  For example, this blog post that you’re currently reading has a different user experience on a traditional computer, tablet, or mobile device.  The mobile experience can also differ if you are accessing this on the WordPress application.  This is probably the most common category of application on my device.  In mostly all cases, the mobile experience is great on these apps when compared with accessing the information on a web browser.

The last category of apps are applications that provide a very specific purpose.  I have a meditation app, and app that tells me how many times I check my phone, as well as apps for keeping score in golf.  Other apps are meant to improve productivity, such as calendars, todo lists, and learning apps.

In all, this amounts to 142 individual applications.  This accounts for a lot of clutter on the device, and several of these can be safely removed.

In the first pass, I deleted applications that I downloaded as a trial, but never liked, or downloaded for a specific purpose that is no longer applicable.  These apps included things like remote apps for old TVs, the Nissan connect app for the car I rented in North Carolina two years ago, and Pokemon Go which was a game that had a lot of buzz online, but got pretty boring after fifteen minutes.  I was able to delete 20 apps this way.

In the second pass, I deleted apps that are rarely used and can be easily downloaded again.  These apps do not have any valuable saved data.  I deleted around 30 of these apps from Airbnb to Zillow.

In the third, and final pass, I took a look at the apps I had remaining, and deleted ones that I don’t use often.  Things that are just there.  In this category I was able to kill old games, and pretty much everything that I don’t use at least twice per month.

As a result, I ended up with a manageable list of 65 apps that I actually use.

 

Week 4 – Resolution

Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Resolution.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.