Coping: With the COL vs. COF Ratio

Finance:  I laughed when I went back and read Thursday’s UrbanSurvival column.  Reason?  I’d forgot to mention that FOMO is ‘netese for Fear Of Missing Out.  Not that anyone flagged me on it; most of our readers have well-above room temperature I.Q.s.

Following up on the Coping article from Thursday – about G2’s pal who lives in her delivery van and uses her upscale gym membership as her auxiliary living space, we’re still impressed.  Because she’s nailed something incredible:  A perfect 1-to-1 ratio of the Cost Of Living (COL) to the Cost Of Fun (COL).  How many people can claim that?

Cost Of Living to Cost Of Fun doesn’t get as much play as it should, since life is about 20,000 days after you get out of school.  And that’s if you don’t step in front of a bus, smoke ciggies, get depressed, or get nailed by enemy gunfire (foreign or domestic).

(Continues below)


After the first of the year, Elaine and I will be changing out some of the way we do things around here.  Reason?  We want to “optimize” more and have more adventure in our lives again.

After living aboard a sailboat up and down the West Coast and flying out own plane on trans-cons, sitting at el rancho is, oh, slightly tame.

Not that our COL is high:  We essentially have no bills, and when we do put something on a  credit cards it is more convenience (and better points) than anything else.  We’ve never trusted debit cards, but with a credit card seems to us the risk more on (moron?) the bank’s side.

What needs optimizing is our COF – cost of fun.

I look at my son’s Cost Of Fun per minute. (COF/m).

It costs him about $25-30 bucks for a ride to 15,000 feet for skydiving.  Time from hop to pop? 60 seconds free-fall and then up to 5-minutes under the canopy for landing.

When I called him to talk about this, I got the expected:  “Yes dad, already run the number $5/bucks a minute…but they’re GREAT minutes. Gotta go, client’s waiting…

Hmmm.  There’s Elaine and me…so figure 16-hours a day of fun…$300 per hour…or $4,800 per day for the two of us.  Nope, that’s 1.7-million per year, so that ain’t happening.

More realistically?  Two jumps an hour, That’s still $1,000 a day…so…um… $360,000 a year…nope, that’s not working, either.

Ideally, we’d find something that would pay us something and give us adventure back.  Money’d be secondary…(or not, lol).

Here lately, we have been seriously underspending.  Not that stacking a bit of cash in the bank is a bad thing. It’s just not – you know – exciting.  When you’re on the final leg of the journey through Life, the issue is “What’s left on the experience/bucket list?

So we dance around what to take on as a new shared hobby.

G2’s GF is seriously into the same sports, hobbies, and pursuits as G2.

Trust me when I tell you that in the high 60’s to 70’s things change, we’ve discovered:  Jumping off the tractor wrong, for example, results in odd pains that didn’t used to be there.

Trying to speed fly during a base-jump off a seriously high cell tower near the edge of a cliff doesn’t seem like a thrill as much as it’s spitting in the Face of Death, unnecessarily soonly (if that’s proper Engrish).

No question, I’ve enjoyed the ham radio hobby immensely.  Still, in 2018 I will begin to downsize the collection of my HF stations.  How many ham stations can you operate at once?  Two or three?  (Data, slow-scan TV, and voice or Morse is about my limit…).  Do I need eight?  Maybe not, but that’s what OCD is all about.

Started looking specifically for hobbies that seem like they would at least have the potential of a 1-to-1 Cost to Revenue ratio.

Ham radio can have a reasonable COF over time:

If you buy something like a classic ham linear amplifier (my HT-45 Loudenboomer is highly collectible) you can keep up with inflation and better.

Some tweaks with the test gear, a dash of solder and some new capacitors and the odd resistor replaced… Why, you can buy a faltering unit, turn it into a gem, and resell for a few bucks more. Sometimes more than a few.

When I get done out in Old Man Labs, going through some gear one last time and selling it looms as the winter project.

What will the next hobby be?  One thing that caught my eye:  Metal Detecting.

Went so far as to read a book on topic…Metal Detecting: A Beginner’s Guide: to Mastering the Greatest Hobby In the World.  There were a lot of useful ideas in the book…so then I found an outfit in England that makes a kit for us electronic hobbyists:  It’s a pulse-type metal detector called a SURF PI.

The PI is not Pi and is raspberry.  It stands for pulse induction and reports are that it can get down 10″ or so which is what I was after.  The kit source, as well as other components is but be advised that the shop is closed now for the holidays.  (Who gives these Brits so much time off?)

There is an option (depending on how much coinage there is in Ure pocket:  A White’s Surf PI Dual Field Pulse Induction Metal Detector w/12″ Search Coil waterproof to 100 feet, but that will kick you back $825 bucks.

After reading a fellow in the Bay Area – who has a great article on building the SURF PI kit over here – I decided sure, why not?

Then I made the mistake of asking Elaine something like “Hey, dear…found a GREAT new hobby for us…outdoors, exercise…everything we could want…”

When I told her it was “coin-shooting” (one of the slang terms for metal detecting) the room temperature dropped to below freezing and she locked-on with her “deadly stare.

You’re not going to become one of those old geezers who runs around playgrounds hunting for coins, are you?  Good grief!”

“Well, darling, there’s a good chance of making-back the price of the hobby…”  I ventured once the room  came back up to 50-degrees or so.

In the end?  No sale.  That room is still below 50.

Fortunately, since the unit has already been ordered, I can still build it, sweep the property here, and call it good. (I operate on the premise that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission with this kind of idea.)

After I do our property (and you never know where else) I’ll sell it on eBay or use it as a shameless promotional giveaway…something on that order.

The other hobby I’ve been collecting tools for is gem cutting.

As a child, I remember being intrigued with what’s inside rocks, especially when the family stopped east of Ellensburg, near the top of Vantage Hill and visited Ginkgo – the petrified forest state park there.

Gingko’s part of the Wanapum Recreational area…with a dam nearby with the same name (oddly, Wanapum Dam).

Since I was thinking Cost versus Returns, I noted that Wanapum damn cost just over $93-million to build and it produces a peak 1,040 megawatts of power.

Don’t mean to ramble here (Ure used to it), but check this out: That construction cost pushes out to 11 watts per dollar!  Imagine if you could buy a 10 KW home generator at the same rate!

That generator would cost $910…and then it would  run on rain. Amazing.

At the same cost/watt, a 300 watt solar panel would be…uh…$27.27 each…where was I? Oh yeah…distracted

Becoming a dam builder certainly doesn’t solve my “ideal hobby that makes money in retirement” problem.  Besides, since prime locations to build dams are not plentiful…all that’s left is maybe some low-head hydro on our creek.  Which would MAYBE light up an LED in the winter….

I know better than even ask E about this one.  Though curiously, with my eyes now well back to safe flying range (with contacts in)…the idea of an airplane resurfaces from time to time.

We can attest that owning an airplane is throwing money at the sky, the same as owning a boat is throwing money in the water.

That’s the problem of retirement when you come down to it, though, and that’s the point.

When you retire, there are some pretty firm bounds in terms of what you can expect income-wise.  And this, in turn, limits the kind and number of adventures somewhat.

Unless, of course, we sell everything, buy an RV and live outside a gym somewhere…

At some point, say 3- to 6-months out, I can see all my hobbies blowing up:  How many radios do you want to restore?  Gotta be a fixed number.  Ditto:  how much furniture-making can be done before there’s no room left in the house, guest quarters, shop, or office?

Too hot to open a bakery in Texas…too many DUI’s out there already to open a bar or tavern…Don’t want to clean restrooms, anyway.  Elaine and I have kicked around opening a pizza and beer joint…might be fun…but then you have to deal with the darn public.

We have also thought about applying for jobs in a casino.  Elaine’s got a touch of Cherokee in her background, but never ‘got on the rolls.’  Still, I think it would be a hoot to tend bar four to six hours a day.  Elaine worked serving in a bar way back in the day and enjoyed it, too.  Maybe if we found the right casino….It’d make a hell of a book, too.

Shooting a deer isn’t a thrill (and truth is neither of us is particularly keen on venison).  Gardening verges on real work…. hmmmm.

When comes down to it, G2’s girl with that 1-to-1 Cost Of Living to Cost Of Fun ratio has really done something remarkable.

The more I think about it, the more remarkable it is.

Maybe we should just put Uretopia up on AirBNB as a project studio for Dallas and Houston area musicians who want to retreat to the woods.  No telling who we’d meet…

More thinking to follow.  The problem is when you like everything and you can do anything, there’s a kind of “Senior Decision-Making Paralysis” (SDMP) that can set in.  Like being at the Big Smorgasbord of Life.  Do I start with a salad, or just start with a bowl of soup and the prime rib and see how it goes?

Meanwhile, back to the lab this weekend and maybe some antenna work…

Write when you get rich, call when Bitcoin Fever breaks, too…

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George Ure
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35 thoughts on “Coping: With the COL vs. COF Ratio”

  1. George, how about running a bed and breakfast. You would meet some interesting people and cook your wonderful recipes and get paid for it!

    • Great idea RC. Spend a weekend at the ranch practicing urban survival. For a fee of course. I like eggs Benedict for breakfast.

  2. A fine complement to your woo-woo studies, metal detector, and electromagnetic spectrum research would be dowsing.

    Lots of people pick up a pendulum and play around with it and think they get ‘answers’. Well, not really, because they have not tuned and stabilized the “meter”, which is themselves. Or, they don’t know how to frame the question.

    Used to be a member of a very active Dowsers club. Only one I know of now that is similar to what I was in years ago is the Toronto Dowsers club.

    Check out American Society of Dowsers for courses, events, clubs.

    Check out Raymon Grace (not Raymond). There are some videos on YouTube, and he has on-line and live courses. One of the greats. He turns dowsing around and uses the ‘system’ to send info and energy as well as receive.

    Walt Woods, past president of the American Society of Dowsers, (now deceased) has free materials on the web and some videos.

    It is very inexpensive to get into. Don’t get hung up on equipment. Remember – you are the instrument – the pendulum is just the meter needle. Tuning the meter is a real education.

    • I actually did a fair bit of dowsing as a kid. Then picked it up a few years ago and found that I can only do it with leather sole shoes on. Might have to buy some of them “grounding tennis shoes” you can find…

  3. A friend of mine up in West Virginia retired and started playing (digging, filling, expanding) with his water stream and creek. After about 6 months he had a pond big enough to stock catfish and others that can handle the climate. Charges people $6 bucks for 2 hours of fishing. Says he makes enough to pay some bills, restock the fish when needed, and always has a supply of fresh food whenever he wants to BBQ. I thought it was pretty cool.

  4. George, Go out and buy yourself a nice side x side atv and go exploring! You live out in the country and I can tell you if you just turn the opposite direction at the end of your driveway and take some time to look you will be amazed at what you just might find! And take your new metal detector, some cold beers and food and go have fun!

  5. George,
    How about taking up paranormal investigation as a hobby? Look at all the things you like that it touches on: woo-woo, travel, playing/experimenting with various electronics, meeting interesting people, field research, and then going and visiting with George Noory on Coast-to-Coast.

  6. Like you, I have so very many “projects” on my “do” list that I’d have to live for 200 more years to get just the best ones done — and assuming no new worthy and urgent ones get tossed into the hopper.

    So, I decided to triage — to prune the list a little bit.

    Like you, I’ve collected a LOT of old radios. Drake B Twins, Halli SX-110 in mint, several Icom R-71s, two Icom R-72s, a Dentron Clipperton (loud enough for me), an Atlas 215x, –and a boatload of other boatanchors. Most are working fine, but a few Need Some Work.

    Then I asked myself, “Why?” What IS it that makes ham radio fun?

    …and the scales fell from my eyes, and the answer was — communicating: talking with folks. And rarely talking ABOUT radios, but About Other Stuff.

    So, I determined I’d dump 99% of it, and go SDR. I’d become Dick Modern: The 21st Century Radio Man! (…and perhaps a new comic book superhero! …get a movie deal–it could be a Big Deal!)

    I’ll keep the R72, and the SX-110; but the steampunk radios are outta here ASAP.

    “Go with the future: you’re headed there anyway…”

    And a really nice SDR setup is small. Very small. And extremely re-locatable or transportable, and runs on 12 volts of Free Solar Electricity!

    Gotta triage that list when you get old like me. No time, no time. (Hardly)

    Dick Modern
    Radio Ranch, NC

  7. I’d stay away from any restaurant, bar, B&B, etc. They are 24/7 enterprises that will own you. You are a gifted writer. Take a stab at writing a screenplay based on one of your books/stories/ideas then go out and pitch it. A great challenge and lots of fun (if you don’t have a thin skin). Read, “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. One of the best ways to understand what a screenplay is and isn’t. Elaine sounds like the perfect pitch partner. Ouch! That was a bad pun that escaped the subconscious. Screenplays require you to image your way through the bulk of the story and keep dialogue to a minimum. Give it a try.

  8. George, you might want to consider coin collecting. Your interest in investing and coin “hunting” along with your eye for detail might make it an interesting and rewarding hobby as you age. It doesn’t require a lot of capital to get started (after all you already have one coin), it’s a lot safer than jumping out of airplanes, and even [copper] pennies can be interesting and valuable.

  9. George, check out this couple’s blog and follow some of the leads and tips for full time travel and adventure. There’s boon-docking, free overnight and a large amount of stay free insights. Connectivity is a large part of “what works” for them on a full time basis.

    Hours and hours of study material on how to get it right at the “get go”.

  10. My husband and I have a diverse income stream ,but a large part of our income comes from wild mushroom hunting spending large amounts of time in the woods hiking or driving slow down backroads apparently money does grow on trees!!!

    • Co-worker would ‘hunt’ morels every year, except that one year she came back with a horrible case of poison ivy. Very bad and looked worse!

  11. You forgot to pencil in the plane flight time to get to jump height in your son’s costs per minute. Open door flight with a bunch of beer drinking buddies, about another 5 minutes. Drops the cost per minute in half. Not that bad, still wouldn’t pay for it LOL.

  12. Sir, i am 64 and have been metal detecting here in new england for 30 years. as a retired history/civics teacher, i love the thrill of literally digging up history. From coins to cowbells, you never know what you will find. If you get ambitious, you can travel to a tropical beach area and find rich people’s jewelry.. one trip paid for five. merry christmas.

  13. My goal. to retire at 55 (3 years away)I live in a 18′ RV, live on the side of my Ex’s house ( we get along fine, 12 yr old daughter)and I have no bills. Future possibilities consist of a.) Workkampers- go from campsite to campsite, working for your spot, while you travel the country. b.)make a craft, follow the craft show circuit up and down the east coast. c.) Fishing guide. buy a boat, fish the same area everyday for a couple years, become a guide. d.) buy some property and turn it into a camp ground. The world is yours George!

  14. Elaine might like this – diamond hunting at Crater of Diamonds at Murfreesboro, AR. Just $10 a day to dig.

    Teen found a 7.44 carat diamond in March 2017.

  15. Might be viewed as radical, but what about volunteering with your local Habitat for Humanity? You have all the skills necessary for housing construction, as well as the agility to scramble up and down ladders. You’re also in an excellent position to be able to provide mentoring to people
    who never had your opportunities to become facile with tools. You and the E can get out and meet new people, have some adventures, and do some good for the world. If my back were in better shape, it’s what I’d be doing.

  16. The difference between domestic animals and wild animals is that once mature, wild animals no longer play.

    Americans are the only culture I know of where having fun is more important than sovereignty, and personal freedom. That’s the first thing they remove from the mentality of people that join the military, and failure to do so makes a person a liability in the military. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, fun for Americans involves incredible consumption of resources. It’s called toys.

    There is a big difference between having fun and the pursuit of happiness, but that escapes most Americans.

    George, you wouldn’t have this issue to deal with had you visited a second world country outside a tourist area and seen how the rest of the world deals with creating a quality life for seniors. Something that is disappearing fast in the USA. Just ask the 160,000 homeless vets, or the 22 vets who commit suicide every day.

    But whatever you choose, my bet is on something that will consume a disproportionate amount of resources, because that’s the American way. If you want to know what your share is, just divide world economic and resource numbers by world population. At least 300 people will be forced to live a subsistence existence to support your level of American consumption during your life.

    • Not true; wild animals PLAY all the time, with their offspring, with the catch/kill of the day, and with each other. Come on, ole Exey, life is funner than what you say! AND the next time you criticize Americans, just remember that you fled south, so you aren’t here to protect any sovereignity and freedom, but you are sure having some fun now, aren’t you? You have what I like to call, a row boat mentality. Since you are in the row boat, you want everyone else to row.

  17. The AirB&B with a recording studio is perfect! You already have the investment. Let the adventurous folks come to you. Never know who you will meet and what ideas will be shared with these folks. In all my years in broadcasting I’ve met many an aspiring musician looking for a way/place to do some personal recording. You would have a stream of like-minded people coming to you with little or no work on your part.

  18. Uretopia Studio ain’t a bad idea. Invest in a pallet of Celotex fiberboard and one of paper egg cartons, first. Top shelf musicians don’t necessarily seek the most modern or bell-and-whistle filled recording venues. Mostly, they seek acoustics which suit their specific needs.

    Dad built himself a Heathkit GD-48 back in the ’60s. He never did the “old man walking the playgrounds” thing as a practice, but would hit beaches and parks occasionally. He built a 28×48 inch sieve out of 1x4s and ½” hardware cloth, so he could sift sand when he got a hit. As often as not, he used the GD-48 as a really accurate studfinder, and to locate small, essential parts that’d been dropped or otherwise wandered away from his bench. There’s not much difference between those old detectors and today’s (perhaps 20%), WRT raw ability. The newer ones however, differentiate very well between metals, so you find many fewer pull-tabs and nails. The cost differential for new ones, between the one that’s a clone of that ’60s White detector and one of more modern design, increases geometrically with the degree of differentiation kit they cram in the box…

    • Oh, the studio iws done 0 Auralex foam instead of egg cartons and moving mats

      The mics are my own reworks of good large diaphragm mx-90’s and sound as clean as a $5,000 big brand…

      • I’ve got Shures, EVs, Nakamichis, AKGs, and a random Altec and University Sound, or two, laying around, as well as my own reworked MX-90. Each has its place, does something really well, and something fairly poorly. ‘Would love to get me grubbies on a postwar RCA ribbon electrostat, but ain’ta gonna happen unless the kid hits the bigs and I can justify the cost.

        The reason I suggested paper egg cartons and Celotex is they proffer late ’60s to early ’80s “dead, but not-dead” acoustics. This seems to be trending with the ~20-40 singers now, especially the country crossover kids… and y’all iz out in da country.

      • You need to expound on that in a whole group or whole weekend I think it’ll take you out more than 2 months to expound on that that’s how far into this you could be

      • If you go to Memphis and tour Sun Studios, you will see and stand in the same spot as Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and many other greats, when they first got started. That sound studio is the hokiest multi-chart topper cash cow that you ever did see! It’s got the ole 50/60’s pinhole ceiling tiles on the ceiling and walls, that’s it!!! Linoleum floors! Yep, not that big either, but it holds a drum set, piano, seating all round, and plenty of room to shake, rattle, and roll. It is still attracting musicians from all over. In otherwords, those of us that have NO musical ability recognized a gold mine when we was in it!

  19. You can ReDiscover your Chi.
    She can ReDiscover her Chi.
    What else will be ReDiscovered and taken to the next level !!

  20. “Trust me when I tell you that in the high 60’s to 70’s things change, we’ve discovered: Jumping off the tractor wrong, for example, results in odd pains that didn’t used to be there.”

    Lol lol or getting on a two step stool 12inches off the ground lol lol..
    Boy lately I’ve really had my physical limitations tossed in my face of realization. As far as G2 spending 5:00 a minute. That’s pretty average for any fun activity I always calculated 4:00 per minute per person for my budget on entertainment activities. There to a person has to realistically face their limitations.

  21. Coin shooting.. phew.. I did that.. went and bought the best metal detector of the day.. my goal to find a treasure.. long ago an old old man would tell us the story of his youth in the Calvary. There was a gold payroll shipment of 20,000 in octagonal 20:00 gold pieces heading to a fort out west when they were held up. The call for help went out and a chase they chased the bandits to a small wash where the bandits in haste hid the money by burying it. The old man was one of those chasing the bandits.
    He spent his whole life hunting it. My thought was he didn’t have modern tools. So the family and I would make a short trip to the wash ( which is now a lake and state park) the kids would swim and I’d go looking. Never did find anything but a few coins. Now abandoned farms.. during the last depression people didn’t trust banks and hid money in jars and books. Outside apartments is a good place to find that pocket change in the folds of a chair.. oh I did find the quarter I lost when I was five.. have fun and good luck

  22. Gardening verges on real work

    You could always build a robot to do some of the gardening. “AI” via graphic card(s), use $2 wifi chips for getting straight lines with 1cm resolution, hydraulic controls via radio – all kinds of options. Heck even building a prone body wheeled device would make the manual tasks simpler.
    And because Links die – That one with the tractor treads? You stand up and that lowers you to prone.
    (Dead links ALL over the topic. I’d link to the “wunder weeder” but guess what? No one wants to BUY a device to help weed!)

    As for metal detection and No wife detection I present:

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