Monthly Archive: December 2017

What the #%&@* is Net Neutrality?

If you find yourself asking the above question, this post is for you.

As someone who used to own an Internet Service Provider and worked with the Internet for years before that, let me drop some knowledge on you about Net Neutrality. Contrary to what some would have you believe, Net Neutrality is not some new government intrusion on the previously free Internet, it is in fact the system under which the government created and nurtured the Internet in the first place. Back when the National Science Foundation funded the Internet backbone, Net Neutrality was a mandated rule… you couldn’t participate on the Internet unless you agreed to treat all traffic the same… no filtering or throttling based on who was sending the data packets or what they contain. Everyone got access to the ENTIRE Internet… not just the parts your provider chose to let you see. And those rules are what made the Internet massively successful. There were plenty of other competing network technologies, but none of them came with the Net Neutrality mandate, so they never really took off.

And even after the NSF funding was removed and we began to transition to a fully commercial Internet in the mid nineties, we mostly stuck with Net Neutrality largely because the FCC understood Internet Service Providers to be ‘common carriers’ and regulated to keep those rules in place. It wasn’t until the Bush administration and a reclassification away from common carrier status that the FCC began to treat ISPs as ‘content creators’ instead, allowing an erosion of Net Neutrality rules, with lots of nasty consequences like blocking of Netflix and other services, the creation of bandwidth caps, and other general badness for Internet customers. That trend was thankfully stopped by the Obama FCC when they reclassified the ISPs back to common carrier status to enforce Net Neutrality rules again.

But now under the new Trump FCC we have of course lurched back the other way. With the death of Net Neutrality, the way is cleared for ISPs to begin blocking and degrading traffic from competing service providers… so you will no longer have access to the entire Internet… only the parts that Comcast or AT&T or Verizon are willing to let you see. An Internet that was once an incubator for technology entrepreneurs will instead erect barriers to protect the markets of the entrenched monopolies. Free speech on the Internet will become a thing of the past.

That is what is at stake here. That is what Net Neutrality means.

Want to help preserve Net Neutrality? Visit this website: https://www.battleforthenet.com/

Our Frugal Path to Wealth

Yesterday I was chatting with a friend about financial issues and explained how Kirsten and I live very frugally even when I’m making bank on a really good contract. That philosophy pays dividends in times like this when I’m between contracts, and the long term benefit becomes more obvious as retirement grows closer. It was a useful conversation, so I thought I’d share some of the ways Kirsten and I save money on a regular bases. Feel free to mention your own ideas in the comments.

The first home I bought was a duplex. The rent from the other unit paid most of my mortgage. I bought the duplex I was previously renting, and my monthly out of pocket cost actually went down. This was a great way to build equity, and it has now turned into a nice little income generating property.

We don’t tend to buy pre-made microwave meals. Instead I make massive batches of stuff and freeze individual meal sizes in reusable freezer/microwave containers. Examples: rice and beans, Indian rice+vegetable dishes, chicken+vegetable+lentil stews, oriental stir fry, and chili. Added Bonus: I know exactly what is in my food, so I know it’s healthy.

We don’t buy bottled water. A high quality water filter will give you the exact same product and will pay for itself in a few months in most cases. Just invest in a few stainless steel water cans or thermoses and keep them in the fridge.

You can buy those water cans and other perfectly fine dishes at most thrift stores. There is also plenty of other things you get cheap used instead of new. I draw the line at buying used underwear, but I don’t mind a nice pair of jeans that someone else has broken in. Just launder the hell out them before wearing… many stores don’t bother.

I’ve completely eliminated soda and the like from my diet. I instead make my own beverages by adding fruit juice to sun tea and putting it in reusable bottles in the fridge. I also make lemonade+juice mixers. Again, way cheaper and usually healthier.

Buy in bulk when getting stuff that does not go off, like paper products, cleaning supplies, and even many foods. We buy stuff like rice, beans, lentils, pasta, and oatmeal from our local food-coop, getting the hippie organic versions, and still pay far less than the boxed stuff from the typical grocery store.

Shop counter-seasonally. Buy lawn furniture at the end of the season, not the beginning. The same with clothing. Shop for Christmas gifts after the season, not right before. Buy last year’s model of car when the new one comes out… you’re sure to find a few on the lot they are desperate to get rid of.

Get produce from your local farmers market, but wait until the end. Vendors don’t want to take stuff back with them, so you can aggressively haggle and get plenty of stuff for pennies on the dollar.