Don’t Donate, Incinerate: Getting Rid of Unwanted Stuff.

You might be tempted to donate that old sweater to charity.  Don’t waste your time – nobody wants it.  Instead, you should burn it.  That warm glow you feel?  Freedom, from the bitter chains of materialism.

As minimalists we are always finding stuff to get rid of, and once the decision has been made our first reaction is to donate. Old shirt with only one or two holes? Donate.  Watch with missing band?  Donate.  Wife’s weird cat sculpture, that might be a paperweight, but seems to stare right at you, no matter where you stand?  Donate (surreptitiously).

We think we are making a big difference.  We envision a poor skinny boy sitting in a broken down tenement, warming his shaking hands by the light of a propane stove.  His only joy comes from a small gum encrusted GI Joe action figure with a missing leg that some brave soul had the courage to give away.  Yeah right.

We need to face up to the fact that most of our extra stuff is junk, pure and simple.  If you don’t want it, nobody else does.  Maybe you get a rush from giving away a stack of your wife’s raggedy old towels, but trust me, the only thing those are being used for is bedding, by rats, at the dump.  Even “new” items, still in the box are worthless.  Do you think somebody wants a pack of glow in the dark sharpies?  Or a 2015 “Pug’s Mugs” wall calendar?  

If you don’t want it, its junk.  And you should burn it all.

Inspired by Nature

For a real world example look no further than nature.  A wildfire burns through the clutter of an overgrown forest and makes room for new trees to grow.  It’s such an important process that foresters start fires intentionally to keep a forest healthy.  These “controlled burns” are necessary to clean out dead brush and old trees, to keep the risk of a catastrophic fire low.  So too must you carry out controlled burns in your own life, cleansing the old and unwanted, before it overwhelms you.

What if instead of controlled burns, rangers “donated” dead logs and old leaves to other parts of the forest?  Not only would it be more work, but it would increase the risk of a major fire in the process.  Giving to charity causes the same problems.  By giving away junk to the homeless and needy, even usable junk like your wife’s new shoes, you are increasing the risk of catastrophic materialism.  Burn it instead.    

Joining the Brotherhood

Fire is a cathartic, cleansing force.  Burning needless crap is a ritual that has been passed down through the generations for tens of thousands of years.  By striking the match and alighting it upon that ugly pink purse your wife bought, you are joining an order more ancient than civilization itself: the brotherhood of man.

Compare this to the process of donating, a long complicated dance that gives no satisfaction to anyone involved.  First you lug out an empty box from the attic, then, over several days, you fill it halfway with an assortment of random stuff, then you pull a few things that you “really need” out, then it sits in a corner for a few weeks, then a car, etc.  Forget that.  When I decided my wife didn’t need that stuffed penguin she keeps by the bed I went straight out back with the lighter.  There was no takeback, no dialogue.  It was final, and freeing.

How to Burn

When I find something that needs to go I try not to even think about it: I drop what I’m doing head to the fire pit, a small hole behind the house.  I keep a lighter, a can of gasoline, and old polyester clothing there to facilitate burns.  Having your fire pit ready all the times is important for when you make that spur of the moment decision to burn something.

For example, yesterday I was watching TV when I noticed my wife clutching a horrible neon green throw pillow with the word “LAUGH” embossed in silver sequins.  Obviously it had to go.  As soon as she got up to use the bathroom I grabbed it and headed out back.  The pillow’s strange amalgamation of manufactured materials burned fast and pure, with no need for gasoline or kindling.  Who’s laughing now, I wondered, as the cheap little sequins melted in the cleansing flame.  I went back inside feeling free, and even a little lighter.  The beer I enjoyed afterwards was more refreshing than any I had ever tasted.

A Minimalist Ritual

While quick decisions are important for any minimalist, a more ritualized approach can also be satisfying.  Once a month my friends and I gather at a vacant lot for a bonfire.  We toss all of our unwanted stuff into the pit, douse it with gasoline, chuck a few M80’s in there for good measure, and light it up.  Then it burns, and we dance.  

Standing hand in hand while watching the flickering flames evokes an ancient feeling of kinship.  Like our fathers before us, and their fathers before them, we are partaking in an ancient ritual.  Our hands become roots that bind us to a common fate and take hold in the soil of time.

The fiery communion gives a greater purpose to our modern junk than any it had before.  Kindling is a noble and undeserved fate for rubbish like my wife’s selfie stick, or her electric toothbrush.  As the melting plastics send noxious fumes into the sky, the modern contrivances that history will forget arrive at their final resting place: Hell.

One Radical Meditation Hack

Can you improve your meditation practice and overall life with one simple habit?  Yes, but you won’t believe me when I tell you what it is.  I’m serious – you’ll think I’m crazy.  It goes against years of accepted wisdom and even the scientific community.  The even crazier thing?  It works.

So what is it?  Cigarettes.  That’s right, smoking and meditation are the perfect bedfellows.  They compliment each other like mustard and ketchup, salt and pepper, or monks and self immolation.  I always burn through a few menthols while meditating, and I recommend you do it too.    

What exactly makes these two well suited for each other?  Let’s count the ways.

The Perfect Feeling

As a drug, nicotine has the unique property of being both a depressant and stimulant, so it simultaneously energizes and relaxes you at the same time.  This is the perfect state of mind to be in while you’re meditating.  You want to be relaxed, but not too relaxed that you get sleepy.  I’ve experimented with lots of other drugs, as well as many off the shelf cleaning products, and I can say for certain that nicotine is the way to go.

Self Reinforcing

The research is pretty clear that smoking is addictive.  By associating that sweet sweet high with meditating we have now addicted ourselves to meditating – which is the perfect outcome!  Pretty soon you will be meditating several times a day, even taking breaks at work to do so.  I’ve adapted my practice so that I can now meditate standing upright while talking to coworkers, or walking down the street while talking on a cell phone.

Incense – Just Like Real Monks!

Monks love to burn incense, and cigarette smoke is basically the same thing.  In fact, I recommend not opening any windows or doors so that your practice room can absorb the odor of your incense.  Much like a Tibetan temple nestled in high mountain peaks, this will give your small suburban hovel the character of a spiritual retreat.

Coolness

Let’s be honest, smoking is cool, bad ass even.  And let’s be honest about something else: meditation is lame.  For the most part, only weirdos and loners spend hours on end in a tiny room thinking about nothing.  Luckily, the coolness of lighting up a Marlboro far outweighs the social stigma of sitting by yourself in lotus position.  By smoking, you no longer need to hide your spiritual side, and can even become cooler for it.

Closer to God

The whole point of meditating is to bring you closer to God, Buddha, Luke Skywalker, or whomever you worship.  Cigarettes do the exact same thing by slowly killing you.  No, I’m not going to tiptoe around the health risks.  They exist, but that’s why cigarettes are such a good spiritual tool: they help bring you closer to your god and the afterlife, maybe even more effectively than the meditation itself.

So what are you waiting for?  Jump start your meditation practice, and get a dose of cool while you’re at it!

Health Hacks: Protein on the Go

I’ve discovered a cheap, convenient, and downright tasty way to get protein on the go.  The best part?  No need for hours of preparation or chalky bars, this is the real deal.  Read on.

If you’re a Crossfit fanatic like me you need a lot of protein.  Fast food is a great option for protein while out and about, but it can still be hard to get that meat when you need it.  You can try carrying bacon or chicken breast along with you at all times, but who has access to a fridge all day long?  The answer is much simpler.

Friskies.  Science Diet.  Purina One.  Cat food is loaded with protein, and keeps for months at room temperature.  Once you get past the unfair stigma propagated by the media you will realize it tastes great.  You can put it on sandwiches, add it to smoothies, or even eat it raw.  

The idea that pet food is lower quality is a myth.  Would we feed dangerous food to the animals we love so much?  Do our pets ever get sick from their food?  The whole notion of unsafe pet food is a long con by the meat industry to keep us buying “premium” cuts.  People still worried can buy cat food that uses “human grade” meat, but it will cost you more.

Some people say there is horse meat cat food, to which I say great.  Have you ever seen a horse?  Those things are super strong and fast.  A horse can run a mile in under 3 minutes, and probably bench press way more than 1000 pounds.  In contrast, a chicken is a euphemism for a weak, small animal.  Which would you rather eat?

Getting Started

First find a brand.  If you have a cat, sample what you have lying around, and see if it’s tasty.  If it doesn’t taste good straight out of the can play around with it a little.  Try warming it up first, then put it on bread and add ketchup and mustard.  Instead of chili on your hot dog, try Beef Feast in Gravy.  Instead of almonds on your salad, try a few Turkey & Cheese Nuggets.  

Deciding on dry vs wet food is a matter of preference.  Wet food is easier to spread on bread, and tastes a little more fresh in my opinion.  Dry food is less messy, and easier to eat on the go (I like to add it to my trail mix).  It all depends on your favorite flavors.

If you don’t like the brand your cat does (this is surprisingly common), head over to the nearest pet store, and bring your appetite.  Buy one can at a time, then take it out to the parking lot for an informal tasting.  

As you hold the open can to your nose, slowly blow air over the lukewarm meat patty to savor the aroma.  Tickle the gravy with your tongue to uncover subtle flavors.  When you dig in, take small teasing nibbles at first and chew slowly.  Move the meat product back and forth in your mouth, really suck on the particles to get all the flavor out.  Finally, when the nuances have been picked apart, tilt your head and dump the rest into your gaping mouth.

It is important to finish each can so that you can see how your stomach handles the new menu.  You might find, like I did, that the tastiest flavor causes a steady trickle of flatulence, reminiscent of a gangrenous horse rotting in a pile of compost.  I still bought several cans worth, but only eat it when the smell  wont be noticed, like when we are picnicking near a feedlot effluence pond, or having lunch on the factory floor of a rendering plant.

Sampling ten or so cans should be enough to help you find a flavor you like.  Wait until the meaty burps subside, then head in and buy as much as you can carry.  On your way out of the store, don’t forget dessert!  Cat treats are cheap, healthy, and most importantly, delicious!  Try putting them on ice cream, or baking them into cookies.

Grandma Wickers Old Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies

This one was passed down to me from my great grandmother.

1 package of chocolate chip cookie dough
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of chicken and liver cat treats

Directions: Mix cat treats and sugar into the cookie dough, bake for 30 minutes, enjoy!

Savory Seafood Sub

1x can of tuna
1x can of Friskies seafood medley
1x tomato
Lettuce
½ cup mayo
Cocktail sauce

Directions: After toasting the bun spread tuna on one half and the Friskies on the other.  Add lettuce, tomato, mayo, and cocktail sauce evenly to both half, then combine.  Enjoy!

Julian’s “Purrfect” Trail Mix

1 cup lightly salted peanuts
1 cup California golden raisins
½ cup M&M’s
1 cup Friskies Chicken n’ Liver Nuggets

Directions: Mix all together and store in a cool dry place – eat when hungry!  For extra flavor, add ¼ cup Whiskas Chicken & Cheddar treats.

Save Money with These 10 Hotel Hacks

Vacations are expensive.  No matter how you slice it, you’re going to be paying out the nose for gas, tickets, dinners, and most of all, hotels.  Sure, you could “camp out” instead, but studies show that 28% of families who go camping are attacked by an axe wielding maniac.  Unsurprisingly this was the preferable option to spending the whole night on the ground.  To be safe, stay in a hotel, and use these ancient Amish secrets get the most value for your dollar.

Back in the good old days you could check into a hotel with an empty casket sized suitcase and leave with a treasure trove of goodies.  Pillows, televisions, even shower heads were on the menu. Not anymore.  Nowadays most hotels will keep your credit card on file, so if you want any extra perks, you need to be subtle.    

  1. Never tip.  Carry your own bag, or better yet, have your kids do it for you.  Instead of leaving money for the housekeepers, leave something even more valuable: wisdom.  I recommend printing out one of my articles and leaving it on the desk.  Failing any foresight I recommend just writing down my website on the stationary.
  2. Pack Your Pockets.  Free breakfast also means free lunch and dinner if you do it right.  My wife and I always bring Tupperware to breakfast and pack it full of food.  Pastries and bread keep the best, avoid fruits and yogurts.  The best way to store food is in your body, so I recommend eating until you are sick before filling your stores.
  3. Stock up on Shampoo.  You think we actually buy soap and shampoo for our kids?  Heck no, we load up at hotels.  Even travel newbies have the mindset to grab the free stuff they leave for you, but that’s where we get started.  Each morning find the laundry cart and take one or two shampoos and soaps without getting caught.  On the day you checkout have your wife distract the maid while you shovel the liquid gold into your suitcase.
  4. Matching Towels.  Oh yes, get some towels, just be careful.  Take one towel a day so they won’t notice any missing.  If they have a pool or gym with free towels – jackpot.  Fill your suitcase.  They make great gifts!
  5. Free Newspapers.  Most hotels give you a free newspaper in the morning, which is nice.  The real value is in the stack of papers they have in the lobby.  You could grab a couple and use them as bedding for your kids at home, but you can do better.  Pick up the entire stack and sell them on the nearest street corner.  This will allow you to recover several of your hard earned dollars.  Even better: have your kids do the selling while you actually read the paper, its win win.
  6. Left Behinds.  Many hotels will offer complimentary toiletries if you forget them at home, all you need to do is ask.  My wife and I conveniently forget all of our toiletries and get a full set every time.  When they change desk agents, go back for another set!
  7. Battery Police.  On your way out the door, replace working batteries from the tv remote, alarm clock, and hair dryer with dead ones from your home.  Keep the working batteries for whenever you need them.  This may seem like a small tactic, but we probably save dozens of dollars on batteries each year by swapping out batteries at hotels and friends homes.
  8. Light Bulbs.  This is the real cash cow.  Bring a variety of burnt out bulbs from your house, and replace them with all of the working light bulbs in your room (you might need a screwdriver).  To mask their astonishment at all the lights being burned out, you will need to concoct a good story.  Give a vague explanation involving sparks and a sudden darkness. 
  9. Pens and Stationery.  It is said that Tolstoy wrote the first draft of “War & Peace” on a pad of hotel stationery.  The odds that you will ever write anything greater than a poorly spelled grocery list are pretty slim, but go ahead and grab all of the pens and notepads anyway.  Hotel stationary is the only supplies we give to our kids for school.  The teachers complain, but we save close to twenty dollars a year on paper and office supplies.
  10. Toilet Paper.  Amateur: taking the half finished roll from the room.  Experienced: Taking the half finished rolls from all the public bathrooms in the hotel.  Professional: when you check in, anxiously ask the front desk ask for diarrhea medication.  Go back an hour later and ask for new rolls of toilet paper.  Repeat several times.     

The Amish Secret to Inbox Freedom

I spend exactly 1 minute a day on email.  That’s right, only one minute.  I used to be like most office drones, spending endless hours each day churning through boring and repetitive emails.  It ate up my time like a frat boy at a Chipotle free burrito giveaway.  

Until I discovered one simple secret.

The key is to dig deeper and truly understand the problem.  Use the Amish drill down technique to move past the emails themselves and into the essence of their place in your inbox.  When you do this, you realize that the problem is not you, or the emails, or even having enough time.  The problem is other people.

Other people leeches, and they want to suck you dry.  Each email they send is a tiny proboscis, searching for a way to latch onto your brain.  Answering an email is just a way of letting them get a grip and start sucking cerebral fluid.  Once they latch on, they don’t let go.  

The Amish Book of Lore says that leeches must be treated with “coals of oake heated from noone until duske”.  Following this advice the village blacksmith would dump a bucket of hot coals on the afflicted, killing the leach instantly and cauterizing the wound.  We can’t use fire in this case, but we do have something better.  The delete key.

Yes, the delete key is the answer to all of your email problems.  Find the little checkbox to select all your emails, click it, and then click the delete button.  Goodbye other people and goodbye problems.  Inbox clear, problem solved.  Now you can go about your business with peace of mind.  

As always, if you have any ideas or suggestions on how to improve on my inbox freedom technique, be sure to let me know.  I love to hear from my readers, just send me an email.

Election 2016: Who Should You Vote For?

Right now if you’re a US citizen you would rather stick your head in a dryer full of rusty nails than hear anything else about the election.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about anything that requires brain power.  I’m just going to discuss the issues and tell you who to vote for.  

By now it should be pretty obvious who the most qualified (and handsome) candidate is. He’s strong as an ox, smarter than the average bear, and recommends the death penalty for hoarding.  That’s right, it’s me.

Today I urge all of my fellow Americans, as well as tourists, foreign workers, children, and pets, to write in “Julian Wickers” for president, multiple times if you can.

You only need to turn on the news for one minute to know that this year’s field of candidates is abysmally bad.  Voting in this election is like walking into an ice cream shop and finding that the only flavors are kale, grass, extra frozen vanilla, and sunburned orange.  All of the media is telling you to go out and eat some ice cream, that it’s your civic duty, but you would rather eat the plastic spoon and wash it down with mop water.  Well, get ready for something tasty.  

It could be dangerous to cast myself as a good choice only in comparison to the sea of mediocrity.  Even as a giant among dwarves, I am still a giant, a paragon of virtue and reason with marble columns for legs.  Will I balance the budget?  You bet.  Will I end all conflict in the middle east?  On my first day.  Will I sell all the white house furniture on craigslist and use the proceeds to pay down the national debt?  Well, maybe 5% of the proceeds, being president is hard work after all.

Presidential Tip: Whether it be a bribe from the Ukrainian secretary of state, or just the Lincoln bedspread you sold on craigslist, always choose cash.  

A vote for Julian Wickers is a vote for the four L’s:  Life, Liberty, Learning, and Liberty.  Thats right, liberty is on there twice, because true freedom means being able to repeat words.  If you are a true believer in Liberty Liberty I want you to repeat these other words: “I, insert name, solemnly swear to vote for Julian Wickers on election day and to name my firstborn son after him when the time comes.  Death to those who hoard.  Amen.  Namaste.”

The Issues

As a candidate I feel it is my duty to inform the voters of where I stand on the important issues facing our country today.  Could my positions change after the election? Absolutely.  Do they change based on who I am talking too?  All the time.  Would I be in favor of rounding up all the puppies in the country and deporting them on a flaming boat made of straw?  If it got me elected I would light the match.

Immigration

I’m in favor of mass deportations, but not of people.  All big screen TV’s would be confiscated by the government and “deported” to other countries for a good price.  The proceeds would then be used to pay down the national debt.  Also on my list are those ugly throw pillows bought by the wives and girlfriends of the world.  The only thing they do is take up space, something they can do just as well on the bottom of the ocean, or in a volcano (and I’m not sure what to do with the pillows).

The War in Syria

The problem in Syria is that people have too much stuff, and aren’t fully actualized.  What the citizens and foreign fighters alike need to do is meditate more, start eating healthy, and learn to follow their passion.  As president I will dispatch a team of productivity bloggers to Syria, where they will assist in the war effort through articles about decluttering and tips for eating healthy.

How many rebel fighters would quit on the spot if they knew they could follow their dream of making motivational signs out of bullet casings?  Rogue warlords and despot leaders alike would be able to find common ground if they could just meditate for fifteen minutes each day.  Once you have a citizenry that is truly fulfilled, problems like the civil war will just fade away.  

Healthcare

The price of healthcare is spiraling out of control.  I would change that by repealing “Obama Care” and replacing it with something ten thousand times better: “Julian Care”.  Julian Care is a simpler and more cost effective system.  It works like this: Whenever anyone needs to see a doctor or go to the hospital, I ask the question “does Julian Care?”, to which the answer is usually “no”.  This will save us hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Hurricanes

I don’t want to get labeled here, but I’m going to take a bold stance: that’s right, I’m anti-hurricane.    However, I can’t deny that hurricane coverage is exciting TV.  Like, cancel the state of the union, we are tailgating this in the nixon basement exciting.  As president I would commission the NOAA to work with Hollywood studios to produce disaster coverage for at least three fake hurricanes a year.  I would also make sure the timing is convenient enough to overshadow any bad press about me.

North Korea

With its rejection of foreign luxuries and commitment to a fasting diet for every citizen, North Korea is one of the most minimalistic countries in the world, which also makes it one of the greatest.  I would immediately lift all sanctions and invite their leader, Kim Jong-Un, to keynote my annual summit on minimalism and productivity (formerly the state of the union).  We might even run some joint panels, like “Lose weight fast with the all shoe diet”, “Which type of labor camp is right for your kids?”, and “Cooking your cat.”

ISIS and Terrorism

As a parent I think that terror is an effective tool for teaching kids valuable lessons.  That is why, as president, I would hire the best ISIS fighters and clerics to staff my new national learning initiative, “Read or Die”.  Teachers would be forbidden from actually beheading students of course, but we would still encourage the whole blindfolding and shaky cam videos in front of a black banner type thing.  These fake abductions might actually replace report cards for poorly performing students.

The beauty of my program is that it kills two metaphorical birds with one car bomb.  After we hire away the best and brightest from ISIS, the rest of the organization will fall apart.  At the same time, we expose our children to a radical new teaching style that is sure to have them exploding with enthusiasm.  

Vaccines

As president I would round up all of the people who refuse to get their children vaccinated and force them to move to the state that gave me the least votes (percentage wise).  This would also be, coincidentally, the first state to start with the new “Read or Die” education program, staffed by former ISIS clerics.  By pure chance, it would also be the state that starts on my “Julian Cares” lack-of-health program.  

What could be worse than terrorists running freely, whooping cough in all the schools, and the complete lack of a health care system?  Throw pillows.  Awkward, stiff, rough to the touch, and really, really stupid.  Every man, woman, and child in that state would be required by law to keep a dozen of the nation’s ugliest throw pillows on their bed at all times, even at night.

The Minimalist Mantra

Do you remember saying the pledge of allegiance in school?  Younger readers might not.  I remember it fondly.  To me it was a great feeling to stand in front of my peers and proclaim my love of flag and country.  It was a routine I looked forward too, and I’m sad my kids won’t get to experience it.  

Why was the pledge of allegiance so great?  Because it worked.  Saying the pledge every morning helped kids understand that their country, and its Christian God, are the most important things in their life.  One study found that kids who said the pledge each morning for at least a year were 76% less likely to steal money from their parents to buy a plane ticket to Yemen and join ISIS.  Most of the control group is in Guantanamo, awaiting a trial that will never come.

The success of the pledge of allegiance inspired me to come up with a new pledge promoting the benefits of Minimalism.  My goal was to create a short, succinct, statement that both echoes the core principles of Minimalism and helps kindle a passion for a fiery rejection of materialism.  I call it The Minimalist Mantra.  

I repeat the pledge before every meditation session, before bed at night, and before walking into a store.  I have a separate Crossfit Pledge (to be revealed later) that I say before pumping iron, but this is applicable in most other areas of life.

The Minimalist Mantra:

I pledge allegiance to having nothing.  No principles, no morals, and no materials.  There is no god or country before emptiness.  To rid myself and others of possessions is the greatest joy in this life and the next.  Accumulation is a sin.  Death to those who hoard.  Amen.  Namaste.

So far I have noticed profound increase in both my mindfulness and my animosity towards other people in the supermarket.  The other day at Costco I saw a whale of a man put a  family sized crate of BBQ pretzel snacks in his cart, and I flipped out.  I screamed incoherently for well over a minute while haphazardly flinging items out of his cart, only stopping to eat some of the pretzels that had fallen out when the bag broke.  So yeah, I think it’s working.

 I recommend making your kids memorize the mantra at a young age.  I make my children recite it, as well as several other creeds before breakfast and before bed.  Even if they don’t fully understand the philosophical nuances of the Minimalist movement, they will still know that people who buy extra things should be put to death.  This will teach them to fear clutter and disorganization, which leads to less mess and a happier household.  

As a parent I can confidently say that fear is the most effective teaching tool, only one of the reasons why the Minimalist Mantra so great.