Category: minimalism

Bow Ties are Cool

This coming Sunday I will be participating in my first-ever charity motorcycle ride.  Every September, hundreds thousands of riders around the world don their finery, dust off their vintage motorcycles, and take a spin in the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride to raise money for prostate cancer research and suicide prevention.

Classically inspired motorcycles are welcome, so my TUx fits right in.  I’ve picked up an old tweed jacket and a new bow tie for the event.

You can see video from past events on their YouTube channel.  Tell me this doesn’t look like fun!

Please pop over to my DGR page and kick in a buck or two.  It’s a good cause.

(If you get this via email, please click the title to visit the blog.  Videos don’t come through in the email.)


I have a first-world problem.

I’ve decided to sell the TDI back to Volkswagen.  We’ve had 5 good years and almost 80,000 miles together.  It’s half as long as I had planned to own it, but the buy-back offer is too good.  I will never see as much money for it from any other source.

Many people would use the money as a down payment on a replacement and take out another loan, but not me.  I own the VW outright.  I intend to pay cash for its replacement, no matter how long it takes.  The cash will go in the bank for now.

Without the VW, we will be left with only one winter car.  Snow tires for Mrs. Mack505’s Cadillac cost more than a good used car. Even with good tires, I fear the CTS-V would be as nimble as Wile E. Coyote on rocket skates in the winter.

I need a tank.  I shopped, and thought, and shopped some more.  I started haunting Craigslist, and I found this:

IMG_0025Introducing Sherman.

Sherman is a 1996 Volvo 850 with a 5-speed manual transmission.  If you account for inflation I paid less for it than for my first car, and I love it!  I grinned like an idiot the whole way home.

Sherman reminds me of what we have lost with modern cars.  There is no Bluetooth, no traction control, no trip computer.  The single LCD display tells the time and temperature.  All of the controls are manual.  You can turn the DRLs on and off.  You have to unlock the doors with a key. (gasp!)

It still features power windows, ABS, airbags, and an air conditioner that works better than our new ones.  The previous owner did all of the important maintenance and added an iPod input.  I haven’t driven anything else since it came home.

All for less than the cost of a set of snow tires, and it came with an extra set of snow tires!

My problem seems to be solved.

(for those who missed the title: Wikipedia)


Minimizing in a different way today. #minsgame #minimalism #shredderI spent the day minimizing the file cabinet.  One drawer scanned and shredded.  It was a good job for a stupidly hot, humid day.

Here there be chickens

Saturday, July 16 dawned. . .well, it dawned.  The weather was nice in the Mount Washington Valley at 05:00.  The forecast was for sun and temperatures in the high 80’s.  (In the valley.)

The higher summit forecast was also decent.  It called for temperatures in the 50’s with winds below 20 MPH and “peaks in the clouds.”  That’s weather-speak for fog.  All in all, a standard July day on Mount Washington.

I departed before sunrise in an effort to hit the trail as early as possible and maximize my available time.  The Seek the Peak folks were planning a party at the trail head at 06:00, but I planned to be long gone by then.


This is Berk. She is Mrs. Mack505’s mascot and was dispatched to assist me on my hike.

Berk and I were the only ones at the Ammonoosuc Ravine parking lot.  We started out at 05:40, and we met three other hikers who had started from the Cog Railway parking cutoff. We leapfrogged on the trail for a while, but we never saw them again after Gem Pool.

The trail to Lakes of the Clouds seemed shorter than last time, perhaps because the mountain was no longer trying to kill me.  I went through all the usual emotions: this isn’t bad, OK maybe it’s tough, what was I thinking?, I’m going to die, and finally I CAN DO THIS. A shade less than 2 1/2 hours brought us to the door of Lakes just as breakfast was ending.  Channel 8 was setting up a shot, and a crowd flowed out of the hut.


The fog had begun in earnest.

Above the hut, the going is rocky but not too steep.  I didn’t mind the crowd as visibility was limited.  We hiked single file across Crawford Path, trekking from cairn to cairn.


The USFS is serious.

Another hour brought the summit.  One moment we were plodding along in the fog; the next a large building appeared.  5.04 miles, 3 1/2 hours, and there we were.


We arrived early and didn’t have to stand in a long line to take a picture.

It’s done.  I made it to the top, and all before lunch.  Before second breakfast, actually.  I left enough time for a leisurely descent, but I decided to cheat and take the Cog back down to my car.

Next year will be ascent AND descent.

#MinsGame2 Days 6 & 7

If I were playing the Minimalism Game competitively I would have lost by now.  I’m in it to downsize though, so we continue.

Day 6 – a broken couch, 4 unused and unloved chairs, and a beat up tool bag.IMG_0784

Day 7 is in two photos.  From the farm we have two puzzles, two manuals from Earl, an expired CO alarm (did you know they wear out?), and a bottle of all-natural DEET-free (aka useless) insect repellent.
IMG_0791 And finally from home, a backpacking water filter.  It’s a cool piece of technology which I never use and never will.IMG_0787This brings the total to 531 if I’ve counted correctly.

#minsgame2 Day 5


Day 5 – random bottles of booze. We will never drink these.  Left for our hosts from the weekend.

Running total: 523.

#minsgame2 Day 4

img_0749.jpgDay 4 – random stuff found under the sink. I don’t even own that humidifier any more.

Running total: 518

#MinsGame2 Day 3

For years I have searched for the “perfect” shaving kit. I haven’t found it yet, but it is not one of these three. 


Running total: 514

#MinsGame2 Day 2

My favorite razor is a Merkur 34C. My favorite shaving mug is a gold-leaf monogrammed one which belonged to my great grandfather. These are neither. 


Running total: 511