Hiatus back off, again

Well, a solid five and a half month hiatus from corporate life is back off once again. I’d like to think I made the most of what felt like another mini-retirement. If I had my way, I’d have packed my bags and went overseas where living is cheaper but I made the best of life in the US.


When I became one of the covid layoffs this summer, it proved to be an opportunity to put more effort into eating healthier. The extra time allows you to shop more frequently for fresh fruits and vegetables and cook at home.

It also allowed more time to exercise. Gym’s were out of the question but hiking became a new hobby and a chance to get some good shots. I managed to drop about 15 pounds of which I put about half back due to cold midwest weather.

A nice climb in Colorado Springs. It’s good to get some freedom but at some point, it feels nice to return to productivity. The job interview processes can feel like this but if you put in enough effort you can make some luck.

Travel is fun

Time out of the office was a nice opportunity to see a bit more of the US. It’s not without risk to take a flight in these times, but airlines have taken steps to make flights as safe as possible. Driving a car is not without risk as well but don’t we accept some risk in life if we want to ..you know…live?

No wifi in this cabin deep in the woods of Montana.

Back to the GRIND…But Maybe I missed it

One of the things I’ve realized is that when you conceptualize of work as more of a choice than something you have to do, you can actually enjoy it. I’ve realized I missed the people. While I’ll probably always have some resentment to being chained down to a desk, I do appreciate the fine bright people I’ve crunched data and solved problems with.

The Remote Work Revolution Continues

Like so many of us these days I’m now working remotely. Much like I hoped early on, the working remote revolution has begun.

Ever since I returned to the US, no particular place feels like home. Wherever I hang my hat’s my home as they say. I’m half tempted to just airbnb around the country to somewhere warmer.

It’s a toss-up between vagabonding with the laptop and perhaps setting up shop in the city in an apartment like this:

No lie, just know I chose my own fate, I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

Sean Carter

Seclusion Island: A thought experiment in socio-economic development

Lastly, A friend of mine living in Taiwan just started a new animation project on Youtube which is like an interesting thought experiment about the socio-economic development of a society. It’s called “Seclusion Island” Check it out if you’re interested..I think it looks promising. Here’s the link to the channel.

And here’s the first episode:

If you enjoy and want want to see more subscribe and comment and all that stuff.

Your Car is Robbing You Blind!

As I wrap up things here in the USA to plan for my trip to Asia I faced a difficult decision. Do I park my car somewhere and pay a monthly parking fee for a few months while I decide how long I’m staying? Or do I sell it and be done with it.

Keeping the car would mean continuing to make car payments, car insurance payments, vehicle registration, as well as a monthly parking fee somewhere. Ugh.  The expenses were going to add up to around $400 a month. I decided to sell it.

I got a better deal than expected. After I sold the car I was able to determine the total cost of ownership. Despite getting a good deal buying AND selling it, I was floored by the total cost.  Mr. Money Mustache was RIGHT. Cars are EXPENSIVE!!!

My Car Cost HOW MUCH?!?

Let’s calculate the total cost of ownership.

I bought a 2016 Honda Fit around Dec of 2016 for $17,940. Throw in sales tax, county fees, title, doc service fees and we wend up around $19,800. But of course, this was the end of the year. Almost exactly two years later, I sold it for $12,000.

This means I lost $5,000 on car depreciation.  That’s not that bad for driving a mostly new car for two years. But wait there’s more.

We also need to figure, gas, oil changes, new tires, insurance, registration, IPASS, and car washes.  Rough estimates are as follows.

Category Monthly Annual Notes
Gas $115.00 $1,380.00 Around 12,000 miles a year
Maintainance $50.00 $600.00 Oil Change, Car wash, New tires
Insurance $80.00 $960.00 Minimum required
Tolls $26.00 $312.00 Occasional trips to the city
Parking $25.00 $300.00 City parking
Registration $8.33 $100.00 Registration
Depreciation $326.00 $3,912.00 Depreciation loss upon selling
Total $630.33 $7,564.00

Over $600 a month to buy a tiny fuel-efficient economy car.  One of the cheapest on the market. Yikes.

Now, of course, keeping a car for only two years is far from ideal. Most of the depreciation happens in the first three years or so. But that still only accounts for about half the expense.

What’s crazy to think about is this is a Honda Fit which is one of the more fuel-efficient cars. How much more are people spending to drive bigger, less fuel-efficient cars. In the future, I’ll do whatever I can do stick to Ubers, biking, or some type of public transportation.

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Getting Rid of All My Stuff

I’m getting rid of all my worldly possessions. Sounds a bit dramatic eh? That’s really not my intention. It’s just more of a minimalist thing and perhaps a bit of psychological purging.

As mentioned in my previous post, my job is wrapping up soon and I’m planning to depart soon for international travel in Asia.   I don’t wanna deal with storage so am instead purging all my stuff.

When I say “all my stuff”, I do mean damn near all of it, at least to the point where what I own should fit in a couple suitcases.

A Few Things Stay

There’s obviously a few things that I won’t get rid of out of necessity and we can think of them as sort of the bare essentials of life.  What are my essentials?

  • The Macbook stays.  I can’t imagine being without a laptop. Along with a few peripherals like external hard drives for backups. Dongles and what not.  I just wanted to say dongle.
  • Double Edged Razor and the basic toiletries If you’re a guy and you’re frugal minded or just want a nice clean shave that doesn’t irritate your skin.  You really owe it to yourself to try a double-edged safety razor.  After trying a few, I landed on a double-edged slant razor that cuts closer and easier.  Best razor I’ve ever used in my life. You can literally shave for under $5 a year in blades if you order these Astras. I always buy the 100 pack for $10 and it lasts me like two years.  I only shave a couple times a week though.
  • Smart Phone   I currently rock a relatively unheard of OnePlus 5. These Android phones are pretty good smartphones that are on par with whatever the current flagship is for significantly less. The company is out of Hong Kong. It’s like a more affordable version of Google’s Pixel.
  • I’m keeping the basics for clothes of course. Boxers, t-shirts, socks, shorts, jeans, some dress shirts and I’ll probably store a suit I had tailored for me.  I can probably wear it again if I lose 15 pounds. This might happen in Asia.
  • I’ve whittled down important documents to the point that they should fit into a safety deposit box. The rest I scanned to file. No idea why I didn’t do this years ago.
  • I’m undecided about the car. I might put it in storage for a return to the US this spring or I might sell it.
  • If you’re doing a lot of travel you need a good bag. I did a lot of research before picking up an Osprey. I highly recommend them.

That’s really it. It’s surprising to me that I’m not really missing anything. I think the reason people have such big inventories of stuff is a result succumbing to the ploy of marketing.

Everything else is either gone, about to be sold, given to Goodwill or the dumpster. Let me tell you something.  This feels good.  But why?


There’s an old saying that “Whatever you own, owns you.” I think there’s truth in this saying.   If you have a bunch of things you need, then you’re dependent on them and carry some level of stress to make sure they are properly stored and safe.

Have you ever seen the show “Hoarders?” It’s reality tv with people that have everything they’ve ever owned stacked up around them in filth. I feel anxiety just watching it. What’s interesting, is in most cases, there’s some personal trauma that the person has dealt with and it’s clear that the hoarding is a way of not being able to let go of past pain. It’s some attempt to prevent loss.

But I think it’s also fair to say that for the extreme minimalist, there may be some trauma behind this behavior as well. It’s just a different way of dealing with things. It’s a form of loss avoidance.  You can’t lose anything if you don’t have anything right?

There’s the old biblical idea of “not storing up worldly treasures” because you can’t take them with you to heaven. This is interesting to think about if we consider heaven to be a metaphor for living a pleasant life that is not wrought with suffering. Now if I can just get someone to pay a decent price for my used custom built desktop PC with a Ryzen 5 1600 processor. (Update..someone bought it.  I hope they take good care of my baby)

Custom built desktop
Take good care of me.

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Job Loss AGAIN. Next stop ASIA.

Well wouldn’t you know it, the “Getting Canned” blogger is about to deal with job loss again. But this time around, I won’t classify it as truly getting fired because this is more like a contract wrapping up. Nevertheless, this is the end of a job and time to move on to the next thing.

At the time of the time of this writing, it looks like my current contract gig will end around November 26th. The death of this income stream is in line with my timeline and plan to get out of the Midwest by mid-winter to avoid the impending deep freeze.  Chicago winters get COLD.

I’m planning on getting away from the Midwest as far as possible and leaving the country to head to Asia for the winter or longer. On the itinerary is

  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Guangzhou, China
  • Laos
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Singapore
  • Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

I’m going to travel the world a bit and hit a few spots in Asia. I’ll make sure and do some recon on potential retirement destinations and report back here. Subscribe below if you want a reminder.

Past Travel

But before I go, let’s take a look at a few memorable pics from the times I lived in Taiwan in the past.

There’s the famous “Toilet Restaurant” where you sit on toilets and eat out of little toilet shaped plates and bowls.  Good times.

Ximending "Modern Toilet" restaurant
Modern Toilet Restaurant – 便所歡樂主題餐廳 in Taipei Ximending area.  Sitting on Toilets!

You eat from little toilet-shaped bowls. Yum.

Yum Toilet shaped bowl
Modern Toilet Restaurant – 便所歡樂主題餐廳 hot pot bowl shaped like a toilet.

Oh, how I miss Asia! What other distant memories were captured? Let’s take a look. It was often the little things that were amusing.

My first trip to a night market back in around 2010
Quaker Oats Drink
These were a favorite of mine. Some type of quaker oats drink. Why not drink your oatmeal?

In Taiwan, the majority of people get around by scooter. It’s an economical way to get around. The streets are flooded with mostly scooters although some people do drive cars. The first time I saw a parking lot packed with scooters it was pretty wild. It reminded me of that scene in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” where he knocked over the motorcycles and they went down like dominos.  I had a fear of scooters tumbling down in this way.

Scooters Parked
Don’t tip these scooters over, lest they fall like dominos

So Just What is My Plan Anyways?

Travel.  Exploring. Earning side gig income through a variety of income streams. I’m doing some consulting for CRM databases. I imagine I’ll do a bit of remote English teaching here and there. I have a few clients that need WordPress sites managed. And then there’s this blog which has a little income potential.

The Risks

There is, of course, the risk that my income will fall short of what I’m hoping. This is a bit of a trial break at life abroad and I imagine, I’ll likely return in the spring. Although nothing is written in stone. There is a chance that I’ll face a different job market from what exists at this point. Right now it’s a glorious market with plenty of opportunities. In six months that could change.

Another concern of mine is that our Western culture seems to really frown on time spent not working. “You haven’t been working for six months? Well, the only possible explanation is you’re incompetent and your skillset it now outdated…”No job for you!”

Recently Fired? Why not Escape to Vietnam?

Vietnam is a great place to visit in Southeast Asia. If you’ve recently lost your job and are watching your budget, you’ll find Vietnam a very affordable place to stay for a good while and soak up asian culture.

Delicious and healthy pho is plentiful from a variety of street vendors at prices that are a steal. Vietnam is also known for a special type of “egg coffee”. I ate most meals in Hanoi for a price of around $1 to $2. Good luck finding meals for that price in the US! Vietnam is a destination that promises fun, affordability, and culture.

Pho for lunch in Hanoi, Vietnam
Coffee in Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnamese Egg Coffee at a charming little cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you’re an American that has traveled abroad to several countries you’ll know that there’s a good list of countries Americans can visit with no visa. They will typically allow you to arrive and simply fill out visa on arrival paperwork and you’ll be on your way through the immigration gates to explore a new world. 

Getting a Vietnam VISA

The Vietnam visa process is a bit more complicated. If you’ve done a bit of research online, you may be asking yourself “How do I get a Vietnam Visa on arrival?”

My initial research seemed to provide some conflicting answers so I’ll break out your options clearly. Here’s an overview based on my experience and a fair amount of research to combat the confusion.

Hanoi Streets
The Streets of Hanoi are lively and busy

From my research, I discovered you have two main recommended choices on how to go about getting your Vietnam Visa.

One Country. Two recommended Visa Options

Visa Options for Vietnam

  1. Get an E-Visa

    For many, the best option is to first get an E-Visa. You need to go to the official Vietnam embassy website to get an e-visa. This can take a few days. 

    It’s relatively simple and will cost you just $25 for the e-visa. (It’s worth noting that there are several companies (some reputable some not) that have websites that seem to misrepresent themselves as representing Vietnam.)

    The above site is the true Vietnam embassy site and the only one qualified to issue an e-visa directly. It seems like a great option as long as you have time. If you’re in a hurry, then you may want to consider the “visa on arrival” option below.

  2. Visa on Arrival

    The alternative option is the Visa on Arrival option. If you aren’t a planner and your trip is in a day or two, you’ll probably need to do this option.
    To get a visa on arrival, you’ll need a letter of approval from a travel company and pick up your visa at the airport. You’ll want to work with a company that can get you a letter of approval very quickly, often within one day depending on the company. There are several sites and companies that provide this service. See below for my experience using one.

    Disclaimer: It’s also possible to go to the Vietnam embassy in your home country but I’ve been advised that this method can actually be quite costly. E-Visa is my method of choice.

Getting a Letter of Approval Notes

For option two,”visa on arrival”, there are a variety of sites that can assist with option three. With this option, you’ll pay a fee that varies for your approval letter. And then you’ll also need to pay for your visa on arrival.

This is the best option if you don’t have much time. This means after disembarking from the plane you’ll go to the visa area and you’ll probably need to wait a bit for them to review your letter of approval then process and issue the visa. 

You’ll need to pay $25US or $520,000 Dong to get your actual visa. In my experience, we needed to wait about 30 minutes to get the visa processed and then we were free to head out and explore the exciting things to do in Hanoi

My experience with getting a letter of approval

We chose Vietnam Visa Pro to get our letter of approval. The approval letter really just acts as a sort of required first step to getting your visa on arrival. I’m not being compensated for this review so it’s unbiased. 

The price was good. I got expedited service to get the letter of approval in a day for around $11. It came the next day in an email by PDF.

It should be noted there are several companies that run websites that do this. These sites aren’t government organizations but rather they are companies that are qualified to create your approval letter to make you eligible to get your Visa on arrival. You can’t get a visa on arrival without an approval letter so it’s a necessary step for the third option

Getting Around in Vietnam

It’s worth noting that as of December 2018, Uber is no longer available in South East Asia, including Vietnam. A nice alternative we discovered is Grab which is an Uber-like service. Sign up for Grab here, and get discounted rides. Or you can simply type in referral code: grabqnjfwbw4

Experiencing Vietnam Culture at Home

If you’re currently not up for the challenge of the long flight to get to Vietnam but still would like to try their amazing coffee, you can purchase it on Amazon here:

Once you have this you can easily make some Vietnamese style egg coffee by following instructions on youtube. Here’s a good tutorial. 

If you speak Chinese, here’s a great page to get info on the Vietnam Visa process.

Southern Taiwan

Taking a Vacation After Getting Fired

Modern life often has us on a treadmill that can make enjoying life a challenge. Our time typically falls into two categories throughout our careers. Gross oversimplification, but I’m talking about time employed and time unemployed. But there is a third category that arises once every few years for many people.


“Time employed” is the default state of most adult lives with respect to where their time goes.  You may have the money to live and enjoy life, but you don’t have the time. Even if you secure the time with an approved vacation, the time is often limited. Many office workers these days are uncomfortable taking more than 5 consecutive days off at a time. 

Digital Colouring Exercise (Woman Computer with Microscope and Calculator)
Time to update our work culture.

This is at least partially for fear of losing their job. “If the company can get by without me for two weeks, maybe they’ll realize they don’t really need me” the thinking goes. The other rationale seems to be with keeping up the image and playing the game so to speak.

Even if you are brave and make your happiness and health a priority securing an extended two-week vacation,  there is unintended baggage coming with you on your travels.   Whether you check your luggage or do carry-on you’ll likely be bringing an unintended co-passenger; Workplace stress.

Even on a vacation, it takes some time to let go, unwind and truly relax. Even if you can relax and let it go, in the back of your mind is the knowledge that when you return, you’ll have 500 emails to catch up with and the dreaded return to the daily grind awaits.

Time off is great but it often creates a backlog of work that needs to be done when you return. A vacation is great but is there a better way? I think so. But first, let’s discuss the other time period.


You’re unemployed. At last, you finally have some free time to come and go as you please. You can truly let go of all your work stresses and enjoy life. Travel and exploration is a possibility. Right?

Well, that would be the case except for one thing. You’ve likely occupied with finding your next job. You spend your days sending resumes, scheduling interviews, re-writing the resume. Good times for sure.

And while the free time being unemployed provides is great, it’s just not the time most of us feel comfortable spending any money since our next pay date is likey unknown.


Except for when we do know. This is what we might refer to as a golden time in life.  The time when you’ve secured a new job but have not yet started.  You’re not tied down to employment but you almost certainly have a paycheck in your near future.   This time period can vary significantly but it’s usually between one week and a month by my estimates.

If there was ever a time to celebrate it’s in these two to four week period of employment limbo.

Here’s what I’m saying: Savor this time. It’s doesn’t typically happen so frequently in life for most of us. The time where you’re unencumbered by the constraints of current employment, yet secure in your career and financial future with a signed offer letter. Do all you can to stretch this time out as much as possible.  If there was ever a time to celebrate it’s in this two to four weeks employment limbo.

Good fortune has shined on me as I have a free weeks before my next work project so travel will follow. I’ll post my findings with pics.


A night in Vancouver.

Some time in Taiwan

Some time in Hanoi, Vietnam

photo credit: pni Digital Colouring Exercise (Woman Computer with Microscope and Calculator) via photopin(license)

Breaking Job Interview Rules and Still Getting Hired.

Well, one of the ideas of this blog has been validated.    Getting canned can often result in putting you in a better situation in the long run.   It took less than three weeks from my termination date, but I’ve now got a contract with a new employer that on first appearances seems to be better.  But what’s interesting is that I’ve broken a few of the supposed rules of interviewing and still go the job.

Rule #1 You Need A High- Quality Well fitting tailored suit.

Our consumer culture would have us believe that we ought to spend probably somewhere between $500 to $1,500 for a quality suit and have it tailored to present an excellent fit in order to showcase our best selves.   My theory was that the value of expensive suiting up is WAY overstated.   In reality, I believe you need only to present as well groomed, clean, and basically not stick out with any egregious fashion mistakes.   Don’t show up to an interview with khakis and short sleeve dress shirt for example.

So what did I wear?   Well…unfortunately, my previous years of sitting in the office caused some weight gain and I no longer fit in the fancy tailored suit I bought just about 5 years ago.    I didn’t really have the time nor the inclination to drop $700 on a new suit and wait for the fitting.   So I went to my local JC Penny’s.   I found a plain black suit jacket and pants for around $160.   The fit was…ummm…not horrible.  But definitely not ideal.   The material was ok.    It was just good enough to not stick out and be embarrassing but I’m sure a super in the know fashionista could rip me to shreds.  But that’s the point.  I’m not trying to impress someone from GQ.  I’m trying to have a conversation about my skillset.

waking up
Getting up early for an interview after not working was difficult.  Disclaimer:  I’m not this pretty.

The Shoes

If you’re going to invest somewhere, shoes might be the place.   A good quality pair of dress shoes are worth spending on and maintaining.  It occurred to me when putting on my shoes, that I’ve used these shoes for previous interviews and just a few formal events going back all the way to 2004.   Yeah.   I guess that makes these shoes 14 years old.  And they’ve held up well (not wearing too often will help with that).   If you’re curious these shoes are a pair of Cole Haan’s.

The Tie

The Tie is your chance to shine and another place where you might want to invest a little.   I think it makes more sense to have a nice pair of shoes that last and a quality tie for maybe $65 than to spend a grand on a suit.   Make sure it matches your shirt well.

Rule #2 Have a Well Prepared Story about How it Ended with Past Job.

Truthfully it didn’t really even come up.  I glossed over it at one point.   After four years at my previous employer, it was time to move on.    The reality is, an intelligent manager knows that sometimes employees get fired for reasons that aren’t entirely their own fault.    They were a whistleblower and called out bad behavior at a previous employer, they stood up to inept management, they rocked the boat politically and their behavior highlighted revealed another employee’s inefficient process.   It needn’t be a death sentence for the career.  It could just be the universes pushing you along to where you should be next.

Rule #3 Bring in a Fancy Notepad Portfolio

I actually forgot a notepad and borrowed a simple notepad from the contracting consultant that presented me to the client.   Wasn’t an issue.

 Knowing your field well is going to help you out a lot more than your choice of pinstripe or solid suit color.

The bottom line here is that for most positions that aren’t image sensitive (sales, modeling, politics) content trumps treating the interview like a fashion show.   Knowing your field well is going to help you out a lot more than your choice of pinstripe or solid suit color.  Whether to tie a traditional or Windsor knot.   But yeah these things don’t hurt.