No reason to fear debt, unless you listen to Dave Ramsey

On a forum I frequent was posted a list of books that couples should read before they are married. One of them was Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. In response to the posting, and another member praising the book, I called Dave Ramsey a salesman, saying he is not a financial guru.

And a recent article on his blog shows this, called “6 Common Money Myths to Avoid“. And what’s top of the list? (Emphasis theirs).

1. Debt is a tool.

The Truth: Some tools help you fix things. Other tools help you break things. So, in that sense, debt is a tool . . . consider it a sledgehammer to your financial future. Another way of putting it: Debt is the enemy of your income. The monthly payments you send to MasterCard are monthly savings you could be putting toward your retirement, your kids’ college, and your down payment on a new house!

Dave Ramsey’s philosophy is to avoid debt at all costs. I really, really wonder how much of what he preaches that he actually practices. Does he also pay cash for everything, and actually keep physical cash in physical envelopes and use that for budgeting? Yeah, I doubt it.

And the reality with regard to debt isn’t so straightforward.

Debt is a tool. But it isn’t the “enemy of your income”, unless you let it become that. Which for most of Ramsey’s audience, that likely is the case. What Ramsey and his contributors continually overlook is “leveraging“. Click on that link and you’ll see where I’ve responded to him before and is continual treatment of the concept as if it’s nonexistent.

As I make clear in that article, how you use debt determines whether it’s an “enemy of your income”. Unfortunately his next point shows as well how much he’s willing to treat “leveraging” as if it’s a concept that does not apply to personal finances.

2. Car payments are a way of life.

The Truth: If you believe debt is a tool, you’re just as likely to believe car payments are a way of life. The average car payment these days is nearly $500 per month, according to Experian Automotive. That’s $6,000 per year you’re putting into something that decreases in value. Instead, save that $500 every month for a year and buy a nice, used, $6,000 car. The best cars are the ones without a payment.

Let’s go back to my article on leveraging and personal finance.

There are two types of assets related to personal finances, since most of us don’t track assets to the same degree of granularity as a lot of companies. So to us, most assets are either appreciable assets — things that will go up in value — or expense assets. The latter goes by another name if you’re referring to a business: inventory.

Most people buy things with the intent of getting utility from them. Food. Utensils. Appliances. Power tools. And even vehicles.

Vehicles are a utility asset, not an appreciable asset. As such, the question that you need to ask before taking on a payment plan is whether you will get more out of the asset than you’re paying each month against it. It’s certainly great to have a vehicle without a car payment. I’m glad to be in that boat myself.

And most who pay off their loans will keep their cars until they’re no longer serviceable. Since there’s hardly any point in paying for a $2,000 repair on a 10 year-old car, for example.

Which actually brings up another part of the equation: opportunity cost. In short, what opportunity are you giving up with a particular decision versus the opportunity you’re accepting? In choosing to make the $2,000 repair, that is $2,000 out of your pocket up front to get your car a little more down the line.

Now if you can afford to pay that $2,000 out of pocket, congratulations. Now you could instead make that $2,000 a down payment on a newer vehicle, perhaps one still under warranty. Sure you’re taking on a monthly payment, but the newer vehicle will have several advantages over the clunker you’re trading in or leaving behind. You have a vehicle you won’t have to worry might break down on you at any point — including the day after you make the $2,000 repair. And peace of mind is difficult to label with a price tag.

But even if you can’t afford the $2,000 repair, again taking on the monthly payment for a newer vehicle buys you some peace of mind. And the cost could be offset in other ways, such as lower insurance rates and better fuel economy (depending on how often you drive). Having a more reliable vehicle could also lead to better opportunities since you’re not so paranoid about your car.

See what potential opens up when you’re not being so short-sighted about having a car payment?

4. You can’t go to college without student loans.

The Truth: You can. You absolutely can. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Totally. Whether it’s college-specific aids and grants, or federal and state aid (that’s grants and scholarships, not loans), going to college without debt is absolutely possible. And what about paying for college out of your own pocket—or making your upcoming college student do just that? Rachel Cruze talks about college planning all the time. There are plenty of alternatives to loans when it comes to funding college tuition.

Yes there are plenty of alternatives. Few will be able to fund them to the degree that you need to get a college degree in a reasonable amount of time.

I know a few people who came out of college without any debt. And I would’ve loved to be them. But I didn’t have much in loans myself, not compared to what was considered average back then.

But I also studied a major that is worthwhile. If you study a major that is worthwhile, then you should have little difficulty paying off your loans out of college. At the same time, though, be smart about where you go. Get an Associate’s degree first to keep initial costs low. I had only a small loan coming out of community college that was easy to pay off.

Do well in community college to set yourself up for scholarships when you transfer to a 4-year school. Study a decent major and do well and you’ll come out of school employable. Which will make paying off your debt easier.

At the same time, depending on what you study, you may be able to find sponsors who would be willing to pay your way through college in exchange for a few years of work. And there’s always the military and the benefits you get from serving for a few years.

And before even considering college, ask yourself whether you actually need to go, or whether your time would be better spent in a trade school.

 

Well that’s it for this iteration. Don’t have much to add to his other points, so I’ll just call it here.

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You want a result, not research

With the recent (forced) resignation of the Surgeon General of the United States, many have alluded to his gun control stance as one of the reasons the President pushed for his resignation ahead of the end of his term. So with Vice Admiral Murthy out, Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams is the acting Surgeon General.

The Office of the Surgeon General has not been without controversy. When I was growing up, one such controversy arose during the short term of Jocelyn Elders, who publicly called for drug legalization and distributing contraceptives in schools. She also talked quite frankly about subjects such as masturbation, abortion, sexuality, and comprehensive sex education.

And even C. Everett Koop wasn’t able to escape controversy. Koop was personally anti-abortion. As such he was pressured by Reagan and other conservative politicians to position the Office of the Surgeon General as decisively anti-abortion. He openly resisted, even refusing to prepare a report declaring abortion to be psychologically harmful to women, citing a lack of evidence supporting the assertion.

Vivek Murthy’s controversy, however, was gun control. And his confirmation was opposed by gun rights groups due to his stance that the CDC needs to research gun violence. This stance is well-reflected in anti-gun circles with the continued calls for more research.

It’s also a flat-out lie. Gun control groups don’t want research. They want a pre-conceived result.

They want the research to reflect their views. Yet research has been ongoing by independent groups. So I guess they want the CDC doing the research because of the perceptive authority of the CDC. I guess that if their views are reflected in CDC research, it sounds more official.

Two problems with this, though: the facts don’t support gun control, and the entire United States Public Health Service, which includes the CDC, has a clear anti-gun bias.

And again the facts are not on the side of gun control. Never have been.

Even post-Heller DC has not seen an increase in homicides, contrary to all the predictions. This is reflected in articles published over the last several years. Sources include an article from the Washington Times in 2009, from Reason in 2012, the NRA-ILA in 2014, and most recently on from the Daily Caller on April 17, 2017.

For those not immediately recalling, Heller refers to the District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US 570 (2008), decision that upheld the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right in striking down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. Heller didn’t change the homicide rate trend since it was already going down before Heller. But the fact the homicide rate continued to go down after Heller shows that DC’s handgun ban wasn’t helping things either when they did have it.

Something else was leading DC’s homicide rate decline despite the strict gun laws and the forced change by the Supreme Court.

The trend also contradicts the repeated assertions of anti-gun advocates who claimed with Heller the same thing they claimed with expanded concealed carry: “OK Corral”, “blood in the streets”, “road rage settled with guns”. That whole spiel.

And the single largest fallacy of gun control proponents is improper representation of the data.

Let’s start with this: the United States is federated republic of 50 sovereign, independent States, plus several Territories and the disparate Native American tribes and reservations. The fallacy with data representation comes in aggregating the data together.

I’ve said before, and the data demonstrate, that gun control laws largely don’t do much for homicide and crime rates. Neither do gun friendly laws. Because I’m largely convinced that regardless of the state of gun laws, those who seek to victimize others will take their chances. They will adapt. If gun laws loosen and more people are armed, then they’ll become more careful, but they won’t stop.

What concealed carry laws do, however, is change the odds. They make it so that fewer people need not take chances as well. It doesn’t mean they can be cavalier about their safety, and situational awareness will always be your friend. But it doesn’t mean they’re sitting ducks either. Instead those seeking to target the innocent have to be more calculating.

We have gun friendly States with high homicide and crime rates. Missouri comes to mind, but that is largely skewed by St Louis and Kansas City. And there are gun friendly States with low homicide rates. Vermont comes to mind.

And there are gun control States with high homicide rates, such as Illinois and California. But again the same must be pointed out: the rates are skewed by the bigger cities where crime is more rampant. And gun control States with lower homicide rates. Hawai’i comes to mind. But even if Hawai’i were to go constitutional carry tomorrow, I doubt it’d have much effect on their homicide rates due to their isolation from the mainland. It’s difficult to get guns to Hawai’i, especially with Federal laws regarding interstate transport of firearms for commerce, let alone get a gun in Hawai’i.

So stronger gun laws don’t really do jack for crime, and looser gun laws don’t do much either. Because crime exists independently of gun laws, and won’t change because of stronger or looser gun laws. That is the overarching reality many don’t want to accept.

Same with this reality: most crime and violence occurs where Democrats reign. The majority of homicide offenders, where race is known, are black. And the majority of homicide victims knew their killer. And there is little that legislation can do to address that since it can’t really address the desire to commit crime.

But again, gun control advocates don’t want research. They want a particular result. Make no mistake about it.

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An idea for Illinois (and other States)

While Illinois issues non-resident concealed carry permits, it will only entertain applications from residents of four other States. Interestingly one of them (as of the time I write this) is Texas. So for everyone else, we’re basically out of luck as far as being able to carry concealed in Illinois since they will only honor their concealed carry permits.

Absent national reciprocity, is there a viable alternative? Absolutely.

I’d like to make a simple proposition to Illinois: allow non-residents to go to Illinois to obtain an Illinois permit as if they are an Illinois resident. I’ll use myself as an example as I live in Kansas. If Illinois allowed this, I would make the necessary reservations for the concealed carry class at a licensed venue in Illinois. This would mean also making reservations at a hotel and seeking out nearby restaurants and businesses while staying there. So the immediate economic benefits to Illinois businesses are obvious.

And then there’s the benefit to the Illinois government. Along with sales and service taxes, non-residents would be paying the fees to file application for a concealed carry permit. So that’d be additional money for Illinois all around.

Beyond that, it has the potential to create new businesses, which leads to more jobs. Since the only way to meet the potential demand is with additional supply. And Illinois would likely also need to hire more law enforcement to handle a surge in permit applications.

It would also alleviate Illinois’ concern about non-residents and concealed carry.

And non-residents would have an avenue for being able to legally carry concealed in Illinois. Rather than just avoiding the State entirely.

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Safety regulations and firearms

The site TeddyGun.com has recently cropped up, sponsored by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. And it aims to mislead you into thinking that there is virtually no regulation around the manufacture of firearms.

And they say their comparison is “based on Federal safety regulations for the manufacture of domestic toys and firearms”. As they are comparing it to the manufacture of a child’s toy.

Interesting how in discovering the various regulations (and I doubt they listed all applicable ones) regarding child toys that they aren’t advocating for lesser government regulation regarding said toys. Question: how much of that regulation is needless?

And if you believe what they say, apparently all you need to make a firearm is a Type 7 Federal Firearms License. Setting aside for the moment how difficult obtaining such a license can be, what else is involved?

For starters, regulations regarding the forging of steel and molding of plastics. These are regulations not specific to firearms, though, because they apply across the board to all businesses working with molten metals and plastics. The same regulations apply to the manufacture of a 2L soda bottle as the polymer frame for a firearm. And the same regulations governing the forging of metals for the steel frames for a vehicle apply to the steel work for making a firearm.

The only reason to have onerous safety regulation would be defective firearms. Except firearms are almost never defective in manufacture. And when they are, it’s almost never in a manner that would endanger the person handling it. Unless the defect causes the firearm to fail to fire when you’re trying to use it in self defense… Typically if a firearm becomes defective, it’s due to improper maintenance or negligence by the owner.

Ammunition is a slightly different story simply because the risk of misfires and squibs is there, with the latter being far more dangerous. But both are extremely rare in the totality of cartridges manufactured. And anyone who owns a firearm should know how to deal with that.

The fact that firearms don’t have specific safety regulations doesn’t mean it’s a complete free-for-all. The legal concept of strict liability comes into play. This concept applies to the makers of power tools. What are the Federal safety standards regarding power tools? There likely aren’t any specific to power tools. Indeed in searching for the phrase (without quotes) “federal safety standards for power tools”, what are the first search results? OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And they’re unnecessary because it’s quite obvious that companies like Black and Decker and DeWalt make and will continue to make safe products. Because not doing so would be very, very bad for the future of both companies.

Same with firearms. Beretta hasn’t been around for over 500 years by making defective firearms and crappy products overall. Same with Springfield Armory, the first firearms manufacturer in the United States, and one routinely cited as being top notch with their pistols and rifles. Their reputation is well earned.

But even among the lesser-reputable brands, such as Hi-Point and Kel-Tec, you’re still extremely unlikely to find a defective firearm.

If TeddyGun.com was actually advocating for safety standards and regulations over the manufacture of firearms, they would know that such standards are largely not necessary. Indeed many advances in firearms safeties have come without any government regulation or oversight! The biggest example is making sure that firearms are “drop safe”, meaning it will not discharge if dropped while a round is chambered. Other safety features include firing pin blocks and other safeties that prevent the firearm from discharging without the trigger being pulled.

The firearms and ammunition manufacture markets are virtually entirely self-regulating. If anything, the firearms manufacture industry is actually a major testimony against the need for strict government oversight and regulation. People aren’t dying from poorly-manufactured firearms. They’re dying because people are intentionally pulling the trigger, with the muzzle pointed at themselves or someone else. Adding onerous regulations to the manufacture of firearms won’t change that.

And that isn’t TeddyGun’s motives either. Instead it’s purely about gun control:

Support efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people with Federal common sense gun laws like Universal Background Checks on all gun sales, Legalizing CDC Research on Gun Violence and Illinois common sense gun laws like State License for Gun Dealers, and the Lethal Gun Violence Order of Protection Act.

So then why are there so many safety standards around the manufacture of toys? Toys don’t fall under the legal standards of strict or vicarious liability. And the standards are intended to give the Federal government authority to punish noncompliance, along with establishing other penalties should death or injury result from noncompliance.

Firearm defects (i.e. a true accidental discharge) that result in the death or injury of another person are virtually non-existent. I’ve personally never heard of one, and I welcome any reports of such incidents.

Like virtually every other anti-gun group out there, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is merely misrepresenting the state of the law to pursue an agenda.

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Chicago Sun-Times gets it horribly wrong

Article: Stop Congress from trashing Illinois’ concealed gun protections

Hard-left liberals are vehemently anti-Second Amendment. And since Illinois is largely controlled by them, no surprise the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board would produce an op-ed piece that gets everything wrong regarding the current state of gun laws.

And they start off by strawmanning gun rights advocates:

The people who think the Second Amendment phrase “well-regulated” means “not regulated at all” are back.

And then continue by butchering the definition of concealed carry reciprocity:

This time, they’re pushing a dangerous idea called “concealed carry reciprocity” that would allow people who get concealed gun carry permits in states that have absolutely no restrictions to carry those hidden, loaded guns anywhere in the country.

They are referring primarily to “constitutional carry” states like my resident State of Kansas. While I can carry a firearm without a permit, I can’t carry it wherever I want, so it is not without restrictions. Same with the other constitutional carry States.

And continuing from here, it’s clearly obvious that the editorial board is completely oblivious to the current state of gun laws across the country. Since they list people who would be unlikely to receive a concealed carry permit in any State, including the more gun-friendly States like Missouri and Kansas:

That means a state such as Illinois could no longer draw a line and refuse to give concealed carry permits to people convicted of violent misdemeanors, substance abusers, repeat drunken drivers or who have severe mental health issues.

Substance abusers are considered “prohibited persons” under Federal law. If you don’t believe me, look at question 11 on the ATF 4473 form. Same with those with “severe mental health issues”, provided they’ve been properly adjudicated by the Court.

And while the violent misdemeanor of domestic assault is the only misdemeanor that automatically disqualifies you from owning a firearm, meaning it also disqualifies you from carrying it, States can decide that other violent misdemeanors also disqualify you from a concealed carry permit. And have.

Illinois will disqualify you if you’re arrested too many times, regardless of the reasons behind the arrest or whether you were actually formally charged with anything. And apparently that’s been used to disqualify a lot of blacks from being able carry concealed in Illinois. So the hard left complains about racist policies, and then hard-leftists in Illinois use their own policies in a racist fashion…. Oh the irony!

So their worries are definitely far overblown.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Under the U.S. House version of a proposed law being considered in Congress, all those folks could simply get a permit from another state — one with much looser restrictions — sometimes just by mailing away for one. Twelve states require no permit at all.

Twelve States don’t require a permit to carry within their own jurisdiction.

And you can’t just “mail away for one” either. Several States do grant permits to non-residents who are not in the military and residing in the State under orders. But you can’t just “mail away for one”. Well, technically you can, as the application paperwork is mailed to that State. But the application process isn’t easy, and the qualifications for a non-resident permit aren’t different from the qualifications for a resident permit. Meaning you likely need to submit a certified marksmanship evaluation as well.

And you also have to submit to a background check.

And the lowest fee I’ve seen so far for a concealed carry permit is $100. So how can you just “mail away for one” exactly?

If your permit is ever revoked or an application denied in one State, that doesn’t mean you can just send away and get one in another State. Background checks for concealed carry permits are very involved. And if you’re denied in one State, chances are you’ll be denied in one of the States that issues to non-residents.

Let’s take New Hampshire as an example. On their form for a Non-Resident Pistol/Revolver License, you have to provide information not required by residents. And several of the questions repeat those found on the ATF 4473. Two questions in particular:

  • Have you ever had a permit or license to carry denied in this or any other state?
  • Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance?

And given the form is signed under penalty of perjury, someone could lie about the second question (unless they’ve been involuntarily hospitalized for substance abuse), but the first one is likely to show up in a background check.

Moreover, Illinois requires 16 hours of training and a valid Firearms Owner Identification Card before someone can get a concealed carry permit. The training ensures that those who carry hidden guns understand the laws. But why would anyone go through all of that if they could mail away for a permit instead?

Again, YOU CANNOT DO THAT! Seriously, does no one fact check what you publish?

Under concealed carry reciprocity, someone like Stephens — still on the run as of Monday afternoon — could legally carry and conceal his guns anywhere in the country, including Illinois, no matter what his background is like.

That’s provided a State will actually issue him one! If he has questionable events in his background, he’ll likely be denied a permit, in which case he can appeal the denial depending on what’s on his background report.

Given all the calls leftists make about background checks, I’ve got to wonder if you think no one is doing them. That not even Illinois does them.

Seriously….

The Violence Policy Center has documented 928 deaths since 2007 in incidents involving concealed carry permit holders in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Concealed carry laws ought to be tightened, not tossed out with the trash.

That’s 928 incidents in 10 years. Not even 100 per year.

In 2015 alone, more 1 year-old children died from drowning according to the Centers for Disease Control than the per-year estimate of deaths related to concealed carry. Total drowning deaths just for 2015 is 3,602.

And in 2015, more people died EVERY DAY on average in motor vehicle-related accidents.

The rest of the article deviates from reciprocity and talks about State licensing of gun sellers, so I’m not going to focus on that.

* * * * *

So let’s talk about the reality of National Reciprocity.

National reciprocity would basically declare a concealed carry permit lawfully issued in one State to have Article IV protection in other States. By “Article IV” I mean Article IV of the United States Constitution, specifically the Full Faith and Credit clause:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

This clause is why marriage licenses and divorce decrees have the full weight in all States as in the State in which the license was issued or divorce finalized. Driver licenses have similar reciprocity as well, courtesy of this Article IV protection since a driver license is considered a “public Act”.

But yet concealed carry is not, despite the fact that driving is not an enumerated Right in the Constitution, and I’d argue it’s not protected by the Ninth Amendment either, but owning a firearm is enumerated with the Second Amendment, with concealed carry being an extension of that.

When the Supreme Court of the United States declared in DC v. Heller, further strengthened by McDonald v. Chicago, that owning firearms is an individual right, the question of whether Article IV of the United States Constitution applies to concealed carry permits should have been settled in the affirmative. But it is not.

The bill to which the Chicago Sun Times was referring is HB 38, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017“. And that bill was woefully misrepresented by the Chicago Sun Times since it’s not a free-for-all with regard to concealed carry.

Contrary to assertions, it does not override any State restrictions on concealed carry. It cannot. That would be a violation of the separate sovereigns doctrine. It doesn’t even force States to honor permits from other States.

Instead it opens up States like Illinois to liability with in a Federal Court for the deprivation of “of any right, privilege, or immunity secured by this section, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any State or any political subdivision thereof”.

This brings into this the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities clause as well. This would basically be declaring the concealed carry of a firearm to be a privilege under the Fourteenth Amendment. While not the same as a right, it’s still means that States cannot touch it.

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Blackhawk SERPA holster

The SERPA holster to me seems to be analogous to Windows Vista with regard to my line of work. I had Vista for… 2 years I think it was on a work laptop before I was issued an upgrade that had 7 on it. Never had any problems with Vista. A lot of people however would say it was junk. Should never have been released. My coworkers at the time would routinely tell me they hated it, had nothing but problems with it, all because they knew I never had an issue. Would even tell me all the ways Vista has blue-screened or crashed on them. And I’d just shrug my shoulders.

Same with this holster. Every time I see another article or video about all the ways this holster can fail, I just shrug my shoulders. Most of the time I just don’t even bother reading the article or video. “Oh my God! Look at this FAILURE with the SERPA!” Okay…. *shrug* For every person who has had a problem, there are likely plenty who haven’t. Like nutnfancy, who routinely uses a SERPA holster and, as far as I’m aware, hasn’t reported having any problems.

Just *looking* at the thing tells you that dirt or mud can absolutely be a problem. It uses a mechanical retention that is exposed on the outside. How can anyone NOT just assume that dirt will likely be a problem?

I didn’t need anyone telling me that the SERPA could jam. Again, it’s a mechanical retention. It can jam. Any holster with a mechanical retention mechanism can jam. Any mechanical *anything* can jam.

But as I’ve never had a problem with it — and I have three — I’ll continue using it. It’s not my primary holster and never will be. Instead my primary is an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0. Love that holster. No issues with it whatsoever. Much better than the Crossbreed I used to have, and a little better than the MTAC I used before the scabbard split.

So….. *shrug*

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Silent DIY rack cabinet – Introduction

In the fall of 2015, I tried to build a rack cabinet. Only I didn’t build a cabinet. Only a frame. And when I moved last year, I completely tore it apart rather than taking it with me. While it worked for what I intended, I just wasn’t all that pleased with it.

So time for a revisit.

As you can tell by the title, the aim here is to build a cabinet, full cabinet this time, that will absorb noise while not compromising cooling too much. Initially it’ll house my NAS (“Nasira“), built into a 22″ 3U enclosure, and the Quanta LB6M, a 1U 10GbE SFP+ switch. Later I’ll be building a second virtualization server — likely to replace my HP Z600 — in a 15″ 4U enclosure.

Like previous projects, I’m adapting from another Internet posting, just with a slightly different bill of materials. Specifically…

Forum thread: 14U IKEA closed server rack

That project used 24″ base cabinets, making a 48″ deep cabinet in all. But it was designed to blend in as a TV stand. And it used an open-air rack. Instead I’m going with 15″ wall cabinets. And I’m using separate rails instead of a pre-fab rack. And I’m not interested in the degree of fan control he provides.

IKEA’s SEKTION kitchen wall cabinets offer plenty of room for building a rack cabinet. They come only in 15″ depth, but widths from 12″ out to 36″. If you need a longer cabinet — such as for this project — you can take two cabinets and join them together at the back.

For a rack cabinet, I recommend either the 21″ or 24″ width, depending on your overall goals and what will be in the rack. The frame is made from ¾” particleboard. So a 21″ frame will have an internal width of 19.5″. Almost perfect for the rails I intend to use. Making it perfect requires ⅛” thick aluminum (or something similar) to give the proper spacing to meet EIA-310 standard. It’d also mean bolting the rails to the particleboard.

And if I wasn’t concerned about noise, and didn’t have the NAS or anything all that weight, that’d be the way to go. Buy the 21″ wide cabinet, even go with a base cabinet to get the 24″ depth, aluminum or washers for proper spacing, drill holes for mounting the rails. Instant rack cabinet for under 100 USD. But… not much room for sound damping. And strength might not be the greatest since the frames, again, are particle board.

For the 24″ wide cabinet, I would need to account for the additional 1.5″ on each side. That extra 3″ of room will allow for a lot more room for sound damping material. Exactly what I want for this project. It also requires some framing to accommodate that extra width. Which will also provide some extra strength.

Slots will be cut into the bottom of the cabinet at the front and back for 80mm fans. Or possibly have the rear fans at the top. I’ll decide that later. I settled on using the Noctua NF-R8 redux-1200 fans, which can move about 21 CFM at under 10 dB/A (again, this is in part about controlling noise). I’ll likely use 4 or 5 of them on each end of the cabinet.

The 30″ cabinet can support up to 16U internally, but I’ll be using 12U rails from Reliable Hardware Company since I already have them from a previous attempt at a smaller cabinet. That’ll leave about 7.5″ of additional room, but given I’ll have fans at the front and back, I’ll need room for fan cables and a power brick. So it should all work out in the end on that.

So after all that discussion, what am I building?

I’m going to use two of the 24″ wide, 30″ tall wall cabinets, four 12U rails (two pairs), and some kind of sound damping or absorbing material to create a quiet rack cabinet.

* * * * *

Initial bill of materials:

  • 2 of IKEA SEKTION wall cabinets, item no. 702.654.50
  • 2 of Reliable Hardware Company 12U rails (sold as pairs) – item no. RH-12-SRR-A

The cabinets are advertised at 14.75″ deep, but they’re actually 14.25″ deep. I didn’t worry about cabinet doors at the moment.

The 30″ cabinet (referenced item above) will support up to 16U, but not with much room at the top and bottom for sound damping, so 14U would be better. The 40″ cabinet can support up to 20U. The 20″ cabinet can support only 10U with about a quarter inch to spare. Item numbers and links for rail sets:

So that’ll be it for now. Next iteration should be building the cabinet, starting with the frame.

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Fix this, FedEx

FedEx for some reason has not been honoring my delivery instructions. I sent this to them today:

Good day,

I customized the delivery for the above-referenced tracking number to have the package held with my apartment manager. I was gone all day on the date of delivery, knew I was going to be gone all day, so customized the delivery so that the package — which contained [REDACTED] — could be held safely.

Instead the package was once again left at my front door. Despite “Apartment Office” being set on my profile for the delivery instructions. I even went through additional steps for customizing the reference tracking number and receiving an e-mail confirming the change.

Why are my delivery instructions not being honored? What do I need to do to have it consistently honored?

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Marriage can still work

Article: “5 Reasons We Can’t Handle Marriage Anymore

Back in 2015, writer Anthony D’Ambrosio penned an article regarding marriage. He gave it a provocative title, which very much over sold the premise therein. The problem today isn’t that marriage doesn’t work, but the landscape has changed so much. Even just through the last 10 years. The trials and tribulations faced by couples today are quite different from in generations past. As an example, previous generations have had access to pornography, just not the instantaneous access that has been available for the last 15 or so years.

But let’s get through his list and find out whether he’s spot on or not.

1. Sex becomes almost non-existent.

Instead, we have sex once every couple weeks, or when it’s time to get pregnant. It becomes this chore. You no longer look at your partner wanting to rip their clothes off, but rather instead, dread the thought. That’s not crazy to you?

From what I could find, the average appears to be several times per month. No two people have sexual desires that line up 100%, and the sexual frequency of one couple may or may not be desirable for another. But what if you feel you’re not getting enough sex? I’ll get to that in a moment.

I also highly doubt that couples today actually “dread the thought” of having sex with their significant other or spouse. Especially taking into account that most couples don’t wait till they are married to have sex. So if they do “dread the thought”, they did so before getting married. Which means they shouldn’t have gotten married.

And any couples that indeed “dread the thought” had better have an open line of communication so they can work out the concern, especially if that concern is because one “let oneself go“.

It’s not just boredom that stops sex from happening. Everywhere you look, there’s pictures of men and women we know half naked — some look better than your husband or wife. So it becomes desirable. It’s in your face every single day and changes your mindset.

There are a number of things that get in the way of intimacy. My wife recently was sick for the better part of a week courtesy of contracting (what we think was) influenza from our niece. There definitely wasn’t any intimacy going with that. Especially since she was staying with said niece and her family at the time, and the influenza extended her stay.

And we’ve had dry spells that seemed to last weeks, and other times we’ve had sex multiple times in a week, sometimes multiple times in a day. In our 30s. It all depends on how things happen.

Obviously there is a problem when sex begins to feel like a chore, where you’re only participating because your partner wants it when you aren’t really into it, regardless of the reason. But it’s a bit of a stretch to call a dry spell “neglecting having sex”. Neglect is not performing when you have a duty and capability. No person has a duty to have sex with their significant other, and no one is entitled to sex merely for being married.

No, seriously, you’re not entitled to it.

Sex is just one part of a relationship, something we are biologically inclined to do, combined with whatever skills we have to make it exciting and pleasurable to each person’s unique… programming.

And ladies, I’ll say this up front as well: never use sex as a reward. No, seriously, don’t do it. Don’t intentionally withhold sex to goad him to do something. Don’t use it as an article of persuasion. And don’t jump to the conclusion that wanting to try something new means he’s unhappy or unsatisfied.

It’s no wonder why insecurities loom so largely these days. You have to be perfect to keep someone attracted to you. Meanwhile, what your lover should really be attracted to is your heart. Maybe if you felt that connection beyond a physical level, would you realize a sexual attraction you’ve never felt before.

And do you know how long it takes to develop that kind of connection? For some, it can happen relatively quick, such as with my wife. For most it can take a while. In some cases it never happens, and those are relationships that should not progress to marriage but too often do.

Insecurities do loom large, but only because people let it happen. And it comes from the false perception of prevalent competition. Modern feminism, hate to say it, plays into this quite a bit. Along with a lot of rhetoric coming out of the social justice crowd — e.g. the “fat acceptance” and “healthy at every size” bullshit. While they won’t flat-out call it competition, the rhetoric plays to that being the thought.

Many times we’ve heard that the prevalence and ready access to online porn is going to destroy sex. Google “porn and sex lives” to find ready hypotheses about how porn will destroy relationships and marriages. While it’s undeniable that it indeed has, to say it’s the cause is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

Especially since the critique is always levied against men. Never does it seem levied against women who watch porn. And let’s not forget the ready availability of erotica and romance novels that feature guys described like they were chiseled by Aphrodite performing sex acts on women that are physically impossible while reaching her to heights of sexual pleasure beyond the stratosphere. After all, men weren’t the target audience for the Fifty Shades series, and that applies to the movies just as much as the book.

The problem is when a man or woman watches porn as a substitute for being intimate with their partner. Reads romance novels as a substitute for being intimate. Masturbates as a substitute for being intimate. As opposed to also being intimate. Big difference, but one that is often lost or overlooked. Along with, again, the fact that different people have different sexual levels.

Too many people, women primarily, act as if their partner masturbating or watching porn at all means a problem exists, rather than seeing it as the sexual equivalent of snacking between meals. Sure it can become a problem, but it is not one by default. And if one person in the couple is fine with a lesser meal frequency than the other, the other will resort to snacking, especially if the meals aren’t good enough to stave off their… hunger till the next course.

The problem comes when either partner goes elsewhere for the meals because the kitchen at home seems to never be open.

The ready images everywhere reflect we’re no longer a puritanical society that feels the need to hide women (and men, as well) behind garments that leave everything to the imagination. It’s instead all in how we interpret them. And, ironically, they’re being interpreted by a lot of women as “objectification”.

You need not be perfect for your significant other to remain attracted to you. So stop thinking you must. And stop interpreting the ready images around you in that fashion as well. If your husband or boyfriend has a copy of the SI swimsuit edition and you automatically think you must look like the cover girl or he won’t find you attractive anymore, you’re the one with the problem.

And overcoming that requires a healthy dose of regular communication. As well as you getting over yourself.

You need regular communication as well if you feel intimacy is lacking in your relationship. I wrote this in an earlier article in response to a woman who seemed taken aback at her significant other’s idea of role playing with sex:

If you are genuinely unhappy with your sex life, unsatisfied in what you are getting, then dialogue must be opened. After all, your significant other won’t know that you’re unhappy unless you say you are unhappy. And if you are unhappy, there are plenty of suggestions of what can help once the root of the problem is found – which can really only occur with an open dialogue.

2. Finances cripple us

Years ago, it didn’t cost upward of $200,000 for an education. It also didn’t cost $300,000-plus for a home.

It doesn’t cost upwards of $200K for an education even now. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average per-year tuition at a public institution in the United States for the 2014-2015 academic year is about $16 thousand. Not an insignificant sum, and it’s up significantly compared to years past, but certainly not on par with $200 thousand to get a degree. Part of the issue here is the prevalent false belief that you need a college degree to make a decent living in the US.

Homes don’t average $300 thousand either. Here in Kansas City, for under $150 thousand, I can get a decent family size home in a pretty decent part of the city. It all depends on what you’re looking for, and how much you’re willing to spend post-purchase for a fixer. But in most suburban areas, $100 to $125 thousand is about what you should expect for a decent family-size home, with variances based on cost of living and the area where you’re shopping. But $300 thousand isn’t typical in most areas. And if it’s typical in your area, consider moving.

The cost of living was very different than what it is now. You’d be naive to believe this stress doesn’t cause strain on marriages today.

Finances is one of the top-cited reasons for divorce. At the same time, though, it’s typically financial incompatibility that leads to that. But finances getting out of control, typically at the hands of one over the other, can lead to that as well. At the same time the stress that financial difficulties create can develop into the conditions that lead to divorce.

Which is primarily a breakdown of communication. Why do I think that’s going to be a running theme? Perhaps because I’ve brought it up in many of the articles I’ve written on marriage. And once that breakdown occurs, it can be difficult to reverse course, especially if it has already caused damage to the relationship, especially the trust between the couple.

You need to find a job to pay for student loans, a mortgage, utilities, living expenses and a baby. Problem is, it’s extremely difficult to find a job that can provide an income that will help you live comfortably while paying all of these bills — especially not in your mid 20s.

This is so dependent on so many variables as to make it not worth any further consideration.

This strain causes separation between us. It halts us from being able to live life. We’re too busy paying bills to enjoy our youth. Forget going to dinner, you have to pay the mortgage. You’ll have to skip out on an anniversary gift this year because those student loans are due at the end of the month. Vacations? Not happening.

We’re trying to live the way our grandparents and parents did in a world that has put more debt on our plate than ever before. It’s possible, but it puts us in an awful position.

Part of life is being able to live. Not having the finances to do so takes away yet another important aspect of our relationships. It keeps us inside, forced to see the life everyone else is living.

Yes part of life is being able to live. But you need to live within your means and not over-extend yourself. Not doing what I did in my mid to late-20s, fresh out of college, and having more liabilities than annual earnings. Okay, a lot of people live in that situation only because they have a house. I was renting.

And all of that came crashing down when I lost my job.

Be realistic about your situation. Live within your means. It might mean taking a vacation to a small town instead of a big metro. Driving instead of flying. Driving your own vehicle instead of renting. And I’d say to just forget about birthday and anniversary gifts anyway. I’ll just say this: if you think your significant other must buy you something on your birthday, anniversary, or one of the other typical gifting holidays, you need to re-examine your relationship.

3. We’re more connected than ever before, but completely disconnected at the same time.

I have to agree with the premise in part. Let’s see how he plays it out.

We’ve developed relationships with things, not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you have on a daily basis occur through some type of technology. We’ve removed human emotion from our relationships, and we’ve replaced it colorful bubbles.

The digital age is great in so many ways. It’s given us a lot of time back in our day. When I was growing up, talking to someone meant having their phone number, hoping they were home, and taking time out of your day to talk to them while, for the most part, not doing anything else. In part because long distance calls weren’t yet free.

Today you can have a conversation with someone that doesn’t even take place in one consistent block of time. Whether that person is family or friend, or even a complete stranger on a different continent. You can start a conversation today and continue it tomorrow without losing context (mostly), though you do lose the critical non-verbal cues.

It means, largely, that we don’t have to take significant time out of our lives to connect with family and friends. Instead that can happen within the fragmented blocks of time that occur during our day.

Somehow, we’ve learned to get offended by text on a screen, accusing others of being “angry” or “sad” when, in fact, we have no idea what they are feeling. We argue about this — at length.

Again, you lose out on the non-verbal cues when talking online or in any forum that is not face-to-face. This is why “emoticons” were invented very, very early on. The first use of an “emoticon” was actually with Morse Code. And the common smiley and frown emoticons date to 1982 with noted computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

We’ve forgotten how to communicate yet expect healthy marriages. How is it possible to grow and mature together if we barely speak?

Actually we have’t forgotten how to communicate. Instead the mode of common communication has changed, and some are just slow to adapt. It’s possible to have healthy conversations without ever speaking a word through mouth. Indeed our predecessors have done so via letter, and would likely be quite surprised at the speed at which even that kind of communication can occur today.

Instead we reserve our closest relationships to those we have more in-person. Meaning that the person you marry is hopefully someone who will speak to you predominantly face to face instead of predominantly via keypresses.

Years ago, my grandmother wouldn’t hear from my grandfather all day; he was working down at the piers in Brooklyn. But today, if someone doesn’t text you back within 30 minutes, they’re suddenly cheating on you.

Few will automatically conclude infidelity if their significant other doesn’t text back within minutes. And if you are someone who genuinely jumps to infidelity when they don’t respond to your text in what you felt was an “appropriate” amount of time, seek help. Please.

You want to know why your grandmother and grandfather just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary? Because they weren’t scrolling through Instagram worrying about what John ate for dinner. They weren’t on Facebook criticizing others. They weren’t on vacation sending Snapchats to their friends.

No.

They were too preoccupied loving and respecting one another. They were talking to each other at dinner, walking with each other holding hands instead of their phones. They weren’t distracted by everything around them. They had dreams and chased them together.

Actually they were preoccupied with living their lives, since that actually took a significant amount of time during the day. Because they didn’t have the modern conveniences that free up so much time to do other things. While we have automatic dishwashers and clothing washers and driers, they were washing dishes and clothing by hand. Advances in food storage and preservation allow us to buy food in bulk and have it last instead of buying one or two days worth because you have to use it quickly. Advances in food preparation and sanitation allow for significant time savings in preparing better meals with a much better degree of safety.

That’s a significant amount of time saved by modern technology and convenience.

Granted with the advances in technology have come a lot of negatives. But the return of significant amounts of time to your day is certainly NOT one of those negatives. It is one of the ways that the first world is very wealthy, and the major indicator that trickle-down economics does work, and capitalism makes everyone better off.

Add into this the fact that our predecessors were also having many more children with the hope that some would make it to adulthood while praying an outbreak didn’t wipe out your entire family. And even with older children helping out, that still takes a significant amount of time out of your day, especially when combined with the household realities of the era and how much time it took to cook meals, clean, and just acquire what you need.

We’re largely not used to that kind of time being available to us. Biologically we aren’t used to being able to sit around and watch television or movies or play games for hours on end. Just as our bodies haven’t adapted to the fact that food is readily available (at least in the first world) with a good nutritional and caloric density, our minds haven’t adapted to this huge availability of time courtesy of modern efficiency and convenience.

Combine modern convenience giving us so much time in our day with ready foods giving a high caloric density, and that pretty much explains the obesity epidemic.

4. Our desire for attention outweighs our desire to be loved.

The premise here is a little faulty. It isn’t that a desire for attention outweighs a desire to be loved. Many, instead, mistake that attention for love.

But [Marilyn Monroe] was a celebrity. And in order to be a successful one, she had to keep all eyes on her. Same holds true for celebrities today. They have to stay in the spotlight or their fame runs out, and they get replaced by the next best thing.

Not always.

The successful celebrities are those who are able to remain famous even after they’ve left the spotlight — e.g. Sean Connery. Or even long after they’ve died — e.g. the aforementioned Marilyn Monroe. The formula varies from one to another, and what works for some won’t work for others. While there are some overlapping elements, each does what they can to maintain their fame. Provided they want it.

Indeed some of the more infamous in recent history arguably didn’t want the fame that came to them. George Zimmerman and Casey Anthony are ready examples, from what I’ve seen. And some of those who’ve been the subjects of various memes also didn’t want that fame.

Social media, however, has given everyone an opportunity to be famous. Attention you couldn’t dream of getting unless you were celebrity is now a selfie away. Post a picture, and thousands of strangers will like it. Wear less clothing, and guess what? More likes.

Apparently lost on the author is the concept of the “fifteen minutes of fame”. While it is far easier today to gain instant fame, whether you want it or not, it is also far more difficult to keep it. Because there is far, far more competition for any spotlight you gain than ever before. This means that you need to go a bit more out of your way to keep any fame you gain, provided you feel it’s worth the effort.

At the same time, that ready competition means the ready desire to judge yourself against others, and others against you, in various means that extend well beyond looks. And that’s largely not healthy.

If you want to love someone, stop seeking attention from everyone because you’ll never be satisfied with the attention from one person.

Same holds true for love.

Love is supposed to be sacred. You can’t love someone when you’re preoccupied with worrying about what others think of you. Whether it be posting pictures on social media, buying homes to compete with others or going on lavish vacations — none of it matters.

And apparently also lost on the author is “keeping up with the Jones’s“. Arguably the only thing that’s different today than 100 years ago when the phrase was coined is who your neighbors are. It’s more than just your literal neighbors, as now your competition has increased to pretty much the entire first world. Only because you’ve let it.

And again, this is certainly not healthy.

5. Social media has invited a few thousand people into bed with you.

What the author has to say with this item is mostly spot on.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing moments of your life. I do it myself. But where do we draw the line? When does it become too much?

Since the introduction of Myspace and later Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, many have used these platforms to share things about their lives. Certainly sharing moments of your life isn’t a problem unto itself. It’s when you go overboard. Security risks aside, much of this sharing is certainly out of a desire for attention, to see how popular one can get online.

Indeed I know people who have enormous connections lists on Facebook. And I doubt highly that those connections are people they have actually met in real life. In my case, I have only two connections on my Facebook profile that I have not actually met in real life. But it is not correct to say I don’t know those two connections. But how many of the connections on your Facebook profile can you say you actually know.

And this is part of the problem: the fact that people are sharing more and more about their lives with people they barely or don’t know. Again, security risks aside, this is really no better than shouting in the public square everything about yourself, basically putting your life out in plain sight. All out of an implicit need to compete.

Would you show complete strangers on the sidewalk pictures of your children? No? Then why are you doing essentially the same thing online? The only thing that’s different is the sidewalk. At least on the public sidewalk you have some control over who immediately sees the pictures. Unless you’re taking advantage of the privacy settings in your social platform of choice, you don’t have nearly as much control. Especially since whatever you post online can be readily downloaded and shared elsewhere without your knowledge or approval — e.g. the individuals who’ve become the subjects behind Internet memes.

We’ve invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates with us. We’ve shown them our wardrobe, drove with them in our cars, and we even showed them our bathing suits. Might as well pack them a suitcase, too.

The worst part about all this? It’s only going to get worse.

A cursory glance at the publicly-posted media and information on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and the like shows this to be true.

The ever-present feeling of competition with others being only a click away is a challenge not previously faced by previous generations. Only because couples today are making it a challenge.

Perhaps envy is in our genes.

Marriage is sacred. It is the most beautiful sacrament and has tremendous promise for those fortunate enough to experience it.

No, marriage isn’t sacred. And people really need to stop believing it is. Because by believing marriage is sacred, whether a sacrament of God or what have you, you are establishing expectations and restrictions over your relationship and marriage. Marriage isn’t anything magical or sacred. It isn’t a fairy tale.

It’s a piece of paper and vows. Two people who, hopefully, already are committed to each other tying themselves together with legal rope. Nothing more. And we really need to stop acting as if it is anything more.

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Desert Sapphire – one year later

My wife and I drove out to the Las Vegas metro to revisit Desert Sapphire, the custom external water cooled build that I built for a friend of my wife’s. The system was due for maintenance, and as the owner doesn’t know how to maintain the loop, I declared a vacation at work to drive out.

I expected to be driving out to flush the loop, change out the soft tubing, and fill it with fresh coolant. That’s not exactly what ended up happening.

Green tubing?

I expected to be replacing the soft tubing. I didn’t expect to find this.

How exactly does Tygon tubing turn green when you’re using a coolant with an anti-corrosive and anti-microbial? And it’s hard to tell if this is green from chlorophyll or copper. Looking at pictures of copper patinas, I’m leaning toward the latter. Either way, it means the coolant should’ve been changed a lot sooner than this. The tubing was also strangely softer than before.

I stopped using Tygon not long after Desert Sapphire was done simply because it seemed to lose its “softness” too quickly. I’ve instead swapped to exclusively using PrimoChill’s soft tubing.

So that was used this round. PrimoChill Primoflex Advanced LRT. UV Blue. I intended to use clear tubing, but couldn’t get ahold of it in time. I naively thought Micro Center would have it in stock, and an earlier order to Performance PCs didn’t include it either since I, again, naively thought I’d be able to get it at Micro Center. And I didn’t think the Performance PCs order would ship and arrive before departing for Las Vegas.

But the coolant is staying the same. Everything else is staying the same on the system. This revisit was about maintenance, not upgrades.

Tearing down and rebuilding

So tearing the system down was relatively straightforward. As was draining it. I’ve had a lot of practice courtesy of having my own external water cooling setup.

I decided to not do the external setup this time, instead moving everything internal. Given the temperatures, I didn’t think it to be much of a risk. The power supply, however, meant there wouldn’t be room for a lower radiator like in Absinthe. Instead there was room only for a front and top.

And rather than use a double-120mm radiator on the top, I paid a visit to OutletPC to acquire a triple-120mm radiator. Specifically the XS-PC EX360. The same radiator I used in my radiator box. Along with a few more fittings.

This setup takes him from 6x120mm to 5x120mm, which is still overkill for an i7-5820k and a GTX 980. Heck just the triple-120mm would likely be overkill.

I used 30lb Gorilla tape to stick the pump to the bottom of the chassis. The rest was just a straightforward water cooling loop. Which given what I’ve done with Absinthe and Mira, and what I originally built as Desert Sapphire, that’s certainly unusual.

Now the chassis also doesn’t look so barren. At least there’s something filling in the space between the mainboard and front panel, even if it’s just the reservoir and pump.

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