Self Medicating, yard work and test prep

I definitely notice a difference in my ability to be absorbed in the activities at hand when I drink coffee. I think it's one reasons I have been so energized on Sundays when I go to church since we always have a few cups together. I actually made some progress on a few fronts over the last few days, so I am willing to give coffee some of the credit.

I have signed up for both the CFA and the CAIA exam. I have the test materials for the CAIA on the way. I ordered what I could find on for cheap and asked the local library to purchase the others. I'll know in a few weeks whether they will or not. I also found out the pass rate was over 75% for the most recent CAIA exam. That's pretty high. Considering I can complete the program in one year, it might be the easiest way to give my career a shot in the arm. It would definitely be much easier to justify my time off if I blame the noncompete,  my desire to travel, and I wrap this up by next summer.

I also got an email back from the person at Earthaven. I am thinking of staying there at some point for a month  or two to learn about earth architecture and natural building methods. It will also be interesting to see what a community off of the grid is like. I  have a lot of interesting offers for free housing this summer and I am not sure which is going to happen. Rob wants me to go to NYC for a month or two. Poppy said I could use her place in Charleston since she's not going to be there. I still have things I want to do in Columbia. I still am considering a balls to the wall European trip too. Decisions, decisions. Thankfully money isn't going to be that big of a deal since I have tons of frequent flyer miles and because most of these are free.

The guys have been working on the house for the last few days and it actually looks a lot better. They did quite a bit of repair to the mortar work and replaced some of the rotten trim. They primed most of the front porch this week. They should start scraping paint and caulking the trim tomorrow. I am curious to see what it looks like when they  start applying color. 

I have been calling around to several local nurseries to find good prices on trees. I have decided what I want to purchase. I am going to get a Chinese Zelcova for the front right side (north facing) of my house since it's only going to provide minimal shade, there is no reason for a big tree. I am going to get a Princeton Elm (they are around the front of the white house) to give some shade to the back (southwest side) of the house. In the long run it should provide quite a bit of shade for both the deck and the roof of the house. They get over 75 ft tall. It should go a long way towards reducing the burden of the AC in the summer and actually making it a comfortable place to live. On the eastern side of the house I am going with an Allee' Elm. It will eventually probably get swallowed up by the two live oaks on either side, but I am going to plant it any way. It will give shade to the other side of the house which is rather bare. It will also divide my yard from that of my neighbor. All three have the same general vase shape which means I can plant them pretty close to my house and they will branch out over the roof without causing problems by brushing up against the house. I hope to have them in the ground in the next week at about the same time the guys will be wrapping up on the house.

Those two improvements, along with the fenced in back yard should make it much easier to rent out. Either way, the house is something I am proud of again. I was really disappointed to see it when I came back last summer. 2 years of neglect took it's toll.

I also planted three loquats across the street, along the city right of way to block out some ugly rental properties and a view of a mostly neglected street. Things will look a lot different around here in a few years.

We had a big meeting yesterday again about public safety in our two neighborhoods. Everyone who has the ability to make a difference was there: Our city council rep led the meeting, we had the narcotics officer, the gang task force leader, the lady who runs the section 8 development, the fire department (they handle commercial inspections), the police chief, the regional lieutenant, and the director of public safety and homeland security. Even parks and recreation brought three staff members to talk about programs they had in place to work with teenagers and kids who are going to have nothing to do this summer. Both neighborhoods were well represented. It's amazing how many people you can meet just by getting involved.

I some ways I feel like I have wasted a lot of time around here, but when I consider I have only been back in my house 7 months, I feel like I have done a great deal in a comparatively short period of tiem. If we could continue the same pace of progress for 5 or 10 years we could make a tremendous difference in the area.

I guess I should spend some time reviewing the goals I set for myself after leaving BW.

1) My largest abstract goal was to "be a part of a community." I've actually done a pretty good job of that with the neighborhood association, but before I leave, I should probably make a concerted effort to do some more door knocking like a did back in September. The people I met turned out to be a lot different than what I expected, and the person I learned the most from turned out to be the complete opposite of what I would have expected.

2) Create a real back yard - pretty much done. I could certainly add a lot more greenery but all of the big pieces are in place.

3) Gain 30 lbs of muscle. I am only halfway (I was 150, and am 165 now) towards the weight goal I set for myself, but I am about 75% of the way to looking how I want to look. I have a feeling I could easily had plenty of weight to my legs without much effort so I am not too concerned about the numbers anymore.

4) Figure out what I want to do with respect to work. It looks like I am going to stick with finance. I am just going to have to put in the work to get the certifications I need in order to get the type of job I want. A job where I am paid to think and not to do. I'm definitely glad I had the chance to get away from it for a while though.

5) Travel and see America: I definitely kicked this one's ass. 12,000 miles. East coast to West. Deserts, Oceans, Mountains, Caverns, Rivers, Craters, Volcanoes and everything in between.