Friday, July 18, 2014

100 Happy Days part 9

For my own inscrutable reasons - which you can scrutinise here- I'm taking photos of things that make me happy. One a day for 100 days, in the style of the 100HappyDays project.

Day 57

Exciting times! First lesson with my new private student, and a tiny but important step towards financial freedom. I got up early, filled a thermos with hot, sweet tea and hopped on a train.

The thermos is my favourite recent acquisition, for three reasons. First, it was free (swag for helping a friend move). Second, it keeps drinks hot for an infinite amount of time (because of science). Most importantly, it's from Starbucks.

Starbucks may be tax scallywags but they do have convenient locations and comfy chairs. With the thermos I can sit there, pretending to be consuming their beveripoffs, for hours.

This guy's taken it to the next level

Anyway, I got to Starbucks a couple of minutes before the lesson was due to start, couldn't see my student, and made myself comfortable. Knowing that I'd soon be earning money while stealing warmth and shelter made me feel great. Ten minutes later he still wasn't there.

I checked my diary and realised I was a week early.

That put a dent in my mood, but at least one person I know is happy to hear tales of my stupidity. "Jen," I texted, "I did a spaz." "Yay! Details details details!" Typical me: always spreading happiness.

Day 58

My friend Kevlar Vezt (not a pseudonym) is always trying to drag me to dangerous places to do dangerous things. "Andrew," he'll say, "let's go and strap sticks to our feet and slide off a mountain!" Or "I'm going to run about four times farther than humans are designed to run. By the end, my body will have started digesting my gums in a desperate bid to stay alive. Would you like to join me? They give you a hotdog at the end."

Or most recently: "Have you ever swum in Lake Zurich? It's safe - no-one has seen a giant squid there for ages!"

Weirdly, I didn't say no. (Possibly because the happiness experiment has altered my brain chemistry in a detrimental way?) And after checking the weather forecast, I thought, 'why the devil not?!'

So there I was, my foot hovering about a foot above the lake. "It's cold!" I whinged. "The water's 21 degrees," said Kevlar, "way higher than what I normally swim in." 21 did sound like a lot. That's like Tenerife in September, right? I touched my toe against the surface and it froze into an ice block and fell off. "My toe! I need that for counting."

"Look," said Kevlar. "See that platform? That's about 30 metres away. Swim to there, and if you're still cold, I'll buy you a nice hot tea."

So I nearly got hypothermia, but scored a free drink. On balance, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Day 59

My school is one of the few institutions in the world which understands and respects the concept of the Birthday Month.

All the June-born teachers are invited to lunch at the end of the month. (It's the same in other months, but for people who are not me, so I don't consider it noteworthy.)

It was my first restaurant meal since I started saving for retirement. My boss chose to bring us to Bar Basso, which is really nice and does superb pizzas. All washed down with lashings of prosecco.

"Ahhh," I said after a post-meal burp. "That was very heaven. And to think there are people in third world countries who don't even have a birthday."

Day 60

Today I started an online course from a top Russian university. The course is called Neuroeconomics, which is a word you've never even heard before. That's just the kind of thing I do. No big deal. Whatever.

What? You're in awe of me and my insatiable desire to learn new things? Oh, you're too kind. But why don't you go and learn something new, too? Don't let me hoard all the insufferable smugness. I'll put a link at the bottom.

Meanwhile, here's a neuroeconomics joke, which I understand because I study things like neuroeconomics.

Day 61

Recently it feels like I got a lot of stuff for free, and when I counted up the results of my 'Best at Savings' game I had saved about 200 francs compared to what I normally spend. In about ten days. With zero drop in quality of life. Quite eye-opening!

July is one of my worst months in terms of income. At best I break even. But what if I didn't spend anything at all? I decided to make it into a project and put it on the blog. Projects are fun!

I'm calling it 'My Miserly Month' unless I think of a better name by then.

Day 62

Jen was extremely supportive when I told her I planned to slash my spending in July. She showed her supportiveness by becoming furious and walking around in a stress bubble for an hour. (No, I don't understand it, either. I guess she thought I wanted to spend a month in the woods foraging for mushrooms while growing flax in a bum bag.)

The effort of raging at me seemed to tire her, and she collapsed, spent, on the sofa. To show there were no hard feelings, I began piling things on her. I got this far before I lost my nerve:

Day 63

Remember I joined the library? Today I went to get some books. They have so, so many books! And you're free to choose whichever ones you want. (Although as you know from neuroeconomics, you have to choose the one your brain chose for you 8 seconds ago. LOL.)

"Sir would like to borrow Harry Potter... again?"

As I was looking around - get this - I found a whole aisle full of audiobooks. New ones, too!

I borrowed one book that seems fun, and one audiobook, which I instantly ripped into mp3 format for me to listen to anytime I want! Ever!

By the end of the year I'll have mp3s of about 150 audiobooks. AhahahahahHAHAhahaha!

Progress after 63 days:

Mood: Good.
Compliments: "I dreamt you died so I went to the South Pole to live with the penguins." "I don't hate you." "That was a very nice thing to do, Andrew. Jen is lucky to have you."
Optimism: High.

Learn something for free.

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