March Vinyl Acquisitions

I actually made it a month without buying any records!  Of course, I was recovering from illness and working through the 2,000 records I bought in January, plus it was the shortest month of the year, and I had a couple business trips (photos from one coming soon!), but the fact remains I didn’t buy any vinyl in February.  I had worked down the January acquisitions to less than 100 records to process, which included clearing one of my two shelves of about 150 records that were “in queue” to be listened to as well.  So overall, a good month for working through my acquisitions, and I felt like I had reclaimed much of my available space in the man cave.

I made up for it in the last 8 days, buying about 825 records, of which about 75 are “junk”. Of the 750 I like, about 475 are mostly Motown and soul, and the other 275 are classic rock.  They’re currently sitting in 9 crates and boxes, so all of that available space I created in February is about gone.

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9 boxes of vinyl remaining after sorting out the “junk”…

The group of classic rock is fairly spectacular in my opinion.    It came after the Motown collection, and Mrs. Outspoken’s response after I received the call about the collection was “Really?   You have all these albums yet to clean and listen to, and you’re buying more?!?!”

Yep.  I gotta buy when the opportunity arises.  I went 7 weeks or so with nothing, so buying 2 collections in a little over a week might seem a little over the top, but both were great deals at under $1 per album.

So what makes the collection of rock so great?  How about 4 Zeppelin, 4 Pink Floyd, 4 David Bowie, 4 Allman Brothers, 3 Beatles, and 20 Bob Dylan for starters?    Other artists with multiple albums include Van Morrison, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Steeley Dan, Springsteen, Foreigner, Rush, Yes, Kansas, CCR, ELP, Grand Funk, Heart, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jackson Browne, the Cars, and Aerosmith.  It’s basically a compendium of 70’s and 80’s radio rock music, including some of the softer folk-ish tunes, with none of the pop-disco stuff.

Then there’s some oddball stuff too – stuff I just don’t see. The Butterfield Blues Band, Steve Hackett, Kate Bush, Patti Smith,  Nektar, and some Christian praise stuff by 2nd Book of Acts and Phil Keaggy.  Honestly, I could probably enjoy listening to about 80% of this collection, and if it comprised my entire collection, it would represent probably 60% of what I’d want to have.  Basically, the guy who assembled this collection and I had similar tastes.  🙂

One of my favorite finds so far has been an album from The Monroes.  It’s an EP, only 5 songs, and it was their only album.  I really enjoy it.  Definitely and 80’s sound, but 80’s guitar, not the electronic stuff.

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It was missing a lot of Beatles (but hey, it has Abbey Road), Hendrix, and some of the psychedelic stuff I like, but overall, it’s a great collection in my opinion.   I’m sure I’ll find enough titles to cover my costs, but I think I’ll be keeping a much higher percentage of this collection than normal.

Both of these collections came through my previous contacts; the albums are finding me at times!  It’s also part of why i got the deal I did on them.  I’ve treated the sellers fairly, and they’re active collectors, so I was in a way helping each of them move a large quantity of records quickly.    I also agree to buy them all, and don’t get into cherry picking the collection  or nit-picking on the condition of certain albums.

The way you treat people is important in life and business.  Over the course of my career, I’ve always been focused on process improvement; how to find ways to do “it” better.  It hasn’t really mattered what “it” is, as the basic problem solving methodology of Lean works anywhere (at least I’ve yet to find an application where it doesn’t).  While some people call me an efficiency expert, I look at it more as improving the overall performance of the teams and systems of an organization.    We change the system to change the result, and coach the people through the systemic changes.  But it’s about more than results; for the changes to stick, it’s also about behaviors.

As we change the behaviors and systems to produce different results, we start changing beliefs within the organization.  What happens when the shared beliefs of an organization change?  One, we change the future of that organization.  Two, we have created a culture change.

How’s all this tie into me buying arguably too much vinyl?  Honestly, I wasn’t sure at first.  But for one, I buy with no fear of spending too much, because I have a several year track record of all my hobbies actually producing money.  I have the tax returns to prove it.  🙂 Plus, I’m spending cash that has come from the hobbies.

Therefore, I believe, as does Mrs. Outspoken – even if not as completely as me – that I’m not being irresponsible or delaying our objectives, because in the end I actually contribute towards those shared  objectives from my hobbies.   And I believe I’ve done so buy dealing appropriately with others, and the evidence of that is the number of opportunities that tend to find me.

Second, since there was so much David Bowie in the one collection, would be this album:

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A line from the song Changes is perhaps the foundation of the best inspiration I can think to provide today:

“These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

No matter what it is you’re trying to do or achieve, there are often people who will try to hold you back, make you feel like it’s too hard, not worth it, or even impossible.  Don’t listen to them.  Act responsibly and with intention, treat people with dignity and respect,  but be courageous at the same time.   You can’t do what everyone else thinks you should do and still achieve the greatness that is within you.

Great things aren’t done by being average.

 

 

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Another load of vinyl

After making it through December buying “only” about 140 albums, I’ve once again picked up a large collection to enjoy searching through to find some hidden gems.

Here’s what the car looked like when I pulled into the driveway:

All together it was 31 postal crates of 12″ singles and LP’s from primarily the 1980’s and 1990’s, all loaded into one large American sedan.  In this situation, and old “boat” of a car still has some practical value.

What’s really cool to me is that this collection is from when the popularity of  vinyl started to fade, so there could be some real gems in here.  Once I got it into the house, it looked a little more manageable:

Once i get it sorted, I fully intend to return the US Postal crates.  I expect I will find several additions to my personal collection, a lot of good value for resale, and still  be able to sell the remains for more than what I paid for the original 31 crates.

It was billed as 2000 records, but my initial samples average about 80 per crate, so it might be closer to 2500 records.  My random samples at the sellers location indicated the records are in very good condition, most showing no visible wear on the vinyl, while the covers have some wear and some labels, as it was part of a club DJ’s collection who worked int he 80’s and 90’s.

So while a lot of it isn’t going to be what I typically buy, for the price I couldn’t pass it up.  I got everything for $150.   I was very quickly able to find that much of value in things I could resell in just a few crates, so it was worth it.  Essentially I expect to get everything I want to sell and keep for free, and flip the rest for a couple hundred dollars.

I started looking through the first crate, plus a few that were stacked on top of it.  Totally random, it was just the one sitting next to me at my laptop.  In the first 50 albums, I found 10 that combined are worth $150.   Here’s the first 10 that should pay for the entire lot:

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Not exactly my cup of tea, but they should sell relatively quickly.  At that pace of finding ‘winners’, assuming 2,000 albums, I have potentially $6,000 worth of vinyl (before taxes, shipping, fees, etc), and that’s just the first pass at the things I can define value.  I think a lot of this dance music and singles have a market, I just need to find it.

So there’s perhaps $3600 profit to be had from 20% of the collection.  Not a bad return on $150.  And that doesn’t count selling the other 80% for what I paid for it originally, or probably a little more.  As i finished the first crate, I’m at about $220 of value, time 31 is  close to $7k, so I’m excited about this buy.  Even if I’m half wrong, it’s a great return on $150, and it’s great entertainment.  I’m excited to play some of the singles of songs from my youth.

The seller had many people contact him, but I was the only one to commit to purchasing under the condition that the collection was what he described it as being.  I was confident that a large lot of 1980’s and 90’s pop and rock vinyl would have some real gems, and i probably couldn’t go wrong.  When you know what your objective, be confident and take a few risks.

This sort of makes up for the lot in December which was largely in poor condition, but also had a ton of 45’s as part of the deal.  I’ll still make some money on that deal, but not every buy is going to be as good as this one.  And it may not pan out as great as the initial sample, but that’s OK.

Keep your eyes open, work hard, and you can create some luck.

 

End of year update on the Sailing Dream

Step by step, we’re getting closer to realizing our dream.  We just made our last mortgage payment of 2016.  Since refinancing late this spring, we’ve made enough progress to be at the three year mark of our amortization schedule.  So that’s 3 years of a 15 year mortgage paid in 6 months.  In respect to our 5 year plan to get it paid off, we’re already 6 months ahead of schedule.  If we maintain this pace, the house is paid off in December 2018 – two years from today!

And as if that’s not motivation enough, I stumbled across a Craigslist posting for a CAL35 sailboat.

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Picture from the Craigslist post for a 1983 CAL35 sailboat

The CAL35 was on the shortlist of potential affordable sailboats for us to live on as part of the dream when it was first defined.  We’re in good enough financial shape that we could buy this one right now if we wanted.  I mentioned I saw it to Mrs. Outspoken, and she seemed a little excited too, then responded that she’d rather get the house paid off first. I agree.  Plus, we can’t use a boat this size around Pittsburgh due to the mast height not clearing many of the bridges in the city.  It’s more of a coastal/Great Lakes/Carribbean cruiser.

We have decided to take the vinyl/book selling and try to ramp it up next year, focusing more on the vinyl.  I’m making about 3x the profit on records, although it requires a little more work to clean and grade them.  As long as it stays relatively fun, the work won’t be so bad.  Hopefully we can make a little extra as insurance to getting the house paid off by the end of 2018.

Then what?  We’ll we’ve started down a path of gradually transforming our lifestyle.  We decided that buying a canoe is a good first step to start creating more of a focus on spending time on or around water when we can in 2017.  We’ve saved up some money from our Christmas budget and gifts to fund the purchase.

The next step would probably be those sailing lessons in 2018.  After the house is paid off, we probably would need to take some extended charters in a couple locations we’re dreaming of visiting via sailboat.

We’re not entirely ready from a financial perspective to retire.  Getting the house paid off would relieve much (almost all?) of our financial pressure, and then we’d have to decide where to invest over the coming years to reach financial independence to support a potential sailing lifestyle.   My retirement calculator at work says I’m good to go at age 50, but it will come down to what else is happening in our lives at that time.

I’m also going to really take a look at my spending on alcohol.  I enjoy decent wine and whisky, as well as craft beer, but some months I spend way too much.  Also, the only two times I’ve been sick in the last year (both this month) were after a night of drinking a bit too much.   So for my personal health as well as our financial health, I need to cut back, and cutting the spending by 50-75% should make that happen.

As i discussed in an earlier post, we could cut back a little more.  But I think we’ve done a pretty good job of changing our future outlook.  Sure we could get there (wherever there is) a little faster by doing some extreme things, but I can’t say it would be worth it.  But I do wish I’d started this sooner, which is why I gave a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover to my niece last year at Christmas, and to her brother this year.  I’m also probably going to send them a few tweets in the coming weeks about Mr. Money Mustache.  If I can get one or both of them to see a different possibility for their future, that would be more satisfying than me getting to my destination of Financial Independence a few months earlier.

Whatever it is you want to do, it’s very likely you can do it if you put a clear plan in place.  Start with the “Why”, as in “why do we want to do this, to make these sacrifices or changes?” Then create a vivid visualization of what it would look and feel like to achieve that “Why”.   Next identify what needs to happen to get there, then lay out the simple, often very small steps to make it happen.  For example, why would we buy a canoe if our dream is to sail the Caribbean, Great Lakes, and maybe even the European coastlines?  Because it’s the next small step.

As 2016 comes to a close, take the next step.  Whatever it is, just commit to the next step on your path to achieving your dream.  Every great journey starts with taking the first step.  Where will that first step take you?

 

 

Aorta and Argent

For years I feel like I didn’t expand my musical tastes much other than a bit of Contemporary Christian Worship music.  I’m just shocked at how many great artists I’ve found that I like since listening to vinyl, or how many unique records I’ve come across.  Aorta is the latter, and the Argent album In Deep is in the former category.

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Aorta album cover

As soon as I picked up this album to clean, it struck me as a likely psychedelic album I’d never seen or heard of before.  The album starts off with a beating heart sound, singing about your “Main Vein”, then goes into “Heart Attack”.  Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the earlier tracks.

I really enjoy some music that’s classified as Psychedelic, but some of the other groups I don’t care for.  I guess it was such a short lived genre in it’s peak and it attracted a lot of varied groups, so there’s not a really focused sound; it was a style of music that encouraged experimentation, and eventually led to both the progressive and hard rock genres.  Sometimes I feel like if a band sings about using drugs they get thrown in the Psych group by some sources, regardless of musical style.  But it’s always cool to find a new album and group.

As the album continued on, I started to like the later tracks on Side 1.  Then on Side 2, things really started getting better.  By track 3, Ode to Missy Mxyzosptlk, A little more fuzz was on the guitar, the beat was more driving, and it really became more of a true rock album.  Maybe not one of my all-time favorites, but I plan on holding onto it for a while.

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Argent In Deep with one of those vintage sleeves

Then there’s the Argent album In Deep, which was in the first collection I purchased in November.  From the very first song, I was hooked. “God gave Rock and Roll to you….”  It was just an amazing sound.  To my ears, their sound is so ahead of their time – even their album artwork looks more like 1990’s than 1970’s.  I had to verify when this album was released, and was shocked to discover it was almost as old as I am, being released in 1973.

The next songs are It’s Only Money Part 1 and It’s Only Money Part 2.  Part 1 has a driving beat which just rhythmically keeps says “It’s money, It’s money, It’s money” in my head.  The combination of  the guitar, drums, bass and amazing keyboards just makes me feel like it’s recreating the stress of most jobs, with the limited singing being the weekends in our lives.  Part 2 sings “It’s only money, ain’t it funny when you want it you ain’t got it.”  It carries an entirely different rhythm, but keeps the driving weekday, lighter weekend interlude feel.   There’s even a nod to the Beatles “Money” at the start of the Bridge.

Side 2 starts of with “Be Glad”, which goes a few different directions.  At times you wonder if it’s the same song as it morphs from one groove to the next, but it works very well as just a cool 8-minute jam that seems to explore various keyboard sounds, and starts hinting at Christmas-like melodies at times, including a brief run of chimes, that sort of sets the stage for the second song: Christmas for the Free.

This is the day of Jesus; This is the day of Peace.

Joy to the World at Christmas; Jesus this is Christmas for the Free

Blunt is the pain of Hunger; cold is the wind of Grief

Motherless child has a hard time; Jesus this is Christmas for the Free

It’s a strong song, having great guitar and keyboards as well as great vocals.  To me the song is a conviction of the commercialism of Christmas – from 1972.  My summary is this: Why are people fighting when this is the day of Peace?  They have everything they need, and others have nothing.  Why don’t we give more and help others?

The next track is Candles on the River which is about overpopulation according to the jacket.  I’m not sure I really understand all the words, let alone get that it’s about too many people in the world.  It is a dark sounding song, but I just think it’s awesome.  Maybe it’s the guitars and drums and an amazing organ solo that distract me.  It could just as easily be about too many people trying to tell me what to do with my life.

The final song is Rosie.  It’s a good song, but it was when i first heard it that I decided I had to figure out who was in this band, because it sounds a little like Rod Stewart.  I think it’s the weakest song on the album, but it’s still good, with decent guitar and a nice upbeat tempo.

I actually found a copy in my listening backlog as well, so now I have a copy at the office and a copy at home. I’ve listened to the album several times in a few weeks; it just really suits my music tastes.  Then I found a copy of a later album, Circus, also in my backlog since who-knows-when.  I don’t recall getting it, so I’m guessing it was the summer of 2015 when i was buying way too many albums and didn’t have a good system for quickly processing them.

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Argent Circus album cover

The Circus album has mostly circus-themed songs, but it’s more synth-driven than guitar focused.  It’s more Billy Joel and space-synth stuff than Traffic or Soup like the In Deep album.  It still has a similar feel, and if I listen to both of them for a while, I think there’s enough to say “that sounds like Argent…” on this album – especially the second track on Side 2 – Shine on Sunshine.  It does have some cool artwork on the inner sleeve too.

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Circus inner sleeve

 

It’s probably telling that the Argent Greatest Hits album has no tracks from Circus.  I didn’t love it instantly like I did the first one, but I’ll work on seeking out some of the other Argent albums for the collection, because In Deep keeps getting regular spins on the turntables both at home and office.