The Not So Successful Side Hustle

Most years, I do a purge of all of my things, but this year I decided to ramp it up and try to get down to the bare bones. I am doing a pretty good job for the most part. I have whittled my work clothes down to about three pairs of slacks and seven sweaters (one for each day of the week plus a couple of backups since a couple of them are well loved). I only have two pairs of running shoes (if you are a runner, you know how these can collect, and it is very common to buy several pairs of the same style if it fits you well). I am getting there slowly. 

The thing that I decided to do this time which I have not done before is to sell some of the things online. Much of my work clothes and shoes were purchased when I worked at Nordstrom (in the late 90s / early 2000s and yes some of them even still fit!) and I spent a lot of money building up my work wardrobe. After that, I bought some extras from thrift stores, but I always pick through and find the good brands (BCBG, Ann Taylor, Tahari, Diane Von Furstenburg etc.) So I thought that maybe I could get some of my money back by selling these items. 

It took me a long time to get started. You know how you have good intentions but that box of "sell online" items sits in your closet for months because you are not sure how the shipping works and you are too lazy/scared/unmotivated to find out what to do? That is what I did. I purged, I segregated, the box sat in the closet. Finally, I looked up shipping procedures, got flat rate boxes from the PO and started taking photos of things. But then, I was not sure how much to charge and I waited again, pondering. Finally I put my first item on eBay. 

And then...nothing happened. Nothing happened for a long, long time. This was my first time and I had no idea what to expect or what to do if nothing happened, so I let it refresh (it does this every 30 days) for a long time before I finally took the listing down. Then, about six months later, I decided to try again. This time I put several listings up and I decreased the price if they did not sell after a certain time period. For a long time, nothing happened. 

And then...someone bought something! Hurray! Then I muddled through printing a label and putting it in the right box and getting it to the post office, but I did it. In the end, it was not that hard. I don't know why I waited so long to start. After that, I enthusiastically posted a half dozen other items, and...nothing happened. 

You can see where this is going! However, after about a year and a half of listing items, I have sold probably five items. So clearly I am not going to quit my day job! However, it is very satisfying to get even $20.00 for an item that I paid a lot for, as the alternative is to get nothing! HOWEVER, I do not think that the buck is worth the bang unless you are at home full time and you have free time. Let's say I probably spent five hours collecting, photographing and posting listings (and revising) and I have made....drumroll please...about $70.00. This puts me at $14.00 per hour, which is less than the $18.07 minimum wage in San Francisco. Bottom line: I should probably go get a job at a coffeeshop and give all the items to Goodwill! 

When the items do not sell on eBay, I send them to thredUp, which is an online consignment store. I have sent about 12 items to them and made $64.00, so my per hour on this is probably about $18.00-$20.00 per hour, but my per item is only $5.00 vs about $14.00 per item on eBay. I did look into taking my things to a local consignment shop but they are VERY picky, i.e. it has to be current season, certain brands etc. and most of my things are not current season (they are classics!) 

Next up is a big Goodwill/Salvation Army run, or maybe I can try one more platform, but first... 

I need advice! Have you ever sold things online? If so, what platform do you use and how successful have you been? If you have been successful, what tips can you give me? Has anyone tried or had luck with Facebook Marketplace? If so, do you let people come to your house or do you meet them somewhere? How exactly does that work!? 


Urgently Hiring: Personal Assistant

You know how we all have jobs that are not that hard but that we just hate doing? I have a few for sure! For some of the ones I have, it would be easy to hire someone but they are things that I CAN do myself but just procrastinate starting. My brother and I were discussing this and we decided to swap tasks; I would help him do the things he hates doing and he would help me do the things that keep getting put on next week's to do list. Here are a few that made the cut. 

Broski was/is seeking someone to to the following: 

Rollover his 401k to an IRA. DONE. This is one of those things a lot of people put off but in reality, it is not as hard as it seems. It does involve a bit of paperwork and can be anxiety inducing due to the fact that they have to liquidate one account and then you have to use those funds to buy something in the new account, but for most of us, we have enough time until retirement that we don't need to worry about timing the market. Just do it. 

Clean out and organize his garage. DONE. Luckily, I love doing this kind of thing. However, I know it can be daunting, especially if you have any big items that you are not sure what to do with, or memories/mementos that you are on the fence about keeping (or that you need to look at as you sort). However, having a third party come in and be less emotional about your stuff can be freeing. The other hard thing is getting started! For Broski, he had one big item that he needed to get out of the way before the rest could be accessed, but that one thing was causing weeks of delay. I went up there and pulled that thing out, helped him reorganize, sort and label things and put the big item back. However, he just finally got rid of it so now we can commence with the second phase!! 

I was/am seeking someone to do the following: 

Fix the water pressure in my shower. NOT DONE. Broski took a look at this and it looks to be a bigger job than I want to do myself and I don't really care enough to hire someone to do it. It seems like the hot pressure is just lower in general than the cold, so there is probably some corrosion in the line or something and I don't really want to pay someone to do a huge job. I will just deal with the trickle. 

Weed the yard. DONE. Broski came over this weekend and we got so much weeding done! He is a beast with a weedwacker and a fork looking tool that he uses to dig up the weeds by the roots. I worked alongside him, but it sure was nice to have someone enthusiastic by my side. Be gone ye weeds! 

Install the bike rack on my car roof. NOT DONE. Broski got on this task and it was determined that before putting the rack on my car, I would have to buy other racks to put on my car. Hm. So I am mulling this over, but may just buy a different rack since some of the trunk mounted racks are the same price as the racks I need to buy for the top. Plus then I started thinking about it and will I really be able to lift my entire mountain bike above my head and put it on the roof? Anybody have any tips here? For context, my bike weighs about 32 pounds without anything on it and the rack does not require you to remove the front wheel. 

Power wash my deck. DONE! Broski brought over the washer and not only did the back deck, but the side porch and front porch and all of my flagstone and paving stone. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! I forgot that the wood is red/tan instead of grey/black/dusty. It looks so good. 

So, I guess the moral of the story is, having a friend really helps when the jobs are crappy and/or one man's trashy job is another man's pleasure!? 

What job do you hate doing? What job do you love doing and would happily swap with someone to do? Have you ever pressure washed anything? 


The Last Frontier

Alaska has been on my list for years; it is wild and untamed. It is dark and cold. It is  full of large creatures. It has very few roads. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. Well, I guess supposedly you can see Russia from some parts of the state, but I did not experience that myself. 

What I did experience were adventures, beautiful scenery and some challenging backcountry hikes. Here are some of the highlights from the trip. For context, I flew into Anchorage and planned most of the outings within a few hours drive of the city. I have noted the driving times below.

Denali NP – it is worth taking a bus on the Denali road (you can do an audio tour or just take the normal park bus depending on what you like. We just took the simple one, and you can see lots of animals and possibly Mt. Denali if the weather cooperates, which it did not do ☹). This is 3 hours north of Anchorage by car or you can take the train.  

There are a couple of short hiking options near the visitor’s center or you can get a permit and a (free) bear canister from the building by the bus depot and tromp around the back country (no trails), fording rivers, whacking bushes and fleeing bears, which is what we did (minus the bears). The park road is about 100 miles long and currently it is closed due to a landslide at mile 42 (supposedly to be fixed in 2025), but there are still plenty of hiking zones to choose from. 

Teklanika River

Hatcher Pass – great views and lots of hiking opportunities with different lengths depending on fitness level. This is about 1 hour north of Anchorage by car.  Note: it is a dirt road part of the way, but it is very smooth and we had no issues whatsoever. We also did the Bomber Traverse, a hike starting from the Gold Mint Trailhead and continuing past the Mint hut, the backdoor gap, the Bomber hut and the Snowbird hut (and many glaciers!). This hike is about 25 miles in total, with about 7 or 8 of them off trail, so we ended up doing it in two days. If you want to sleep in the huts, you can join the Mountaineering Club of Alaska (MCA), or you can just camp near the huts (or anywhere) for free. 

Pennyroyal Glacier -- Backdoor Gap -- Bomber Traverse

Seward – port city, gateway to Kenai Fjords and the start of the Iditarod trail; Great place for hiking, eating, and lots of walking along the water. Lowell point walk (about 2 miles each way), Sweet Darlings for ice cream and Firebrand BBQ for their pork belly are a must. We also hiked up the famous Mt. Marathon, which is a 3,000 foot climb in 1.5 miles if you use the official race trail or about 2.5 miles if you go via the hiker route. The views from the top are fabulous! 3 hours south of Anchorage by car.

View from Mt. Marathon

Kenai Fjords NP – The Exit glacier and Harding icefield are beautiful. The Harding Icefield trail is a 4.1 mile each way out and back which is about 3,000 feet of climbing, but the views of the glacier along the way as well as the icefield at the top are stunning. It is well worth the climb, but I suggest you start early as we were the first ones to the top and had the view to ourselves (around 8:30 am) but there were a lot of people heading up when we were headed down. 20 minutes from Seward by car. 

Harding Icefield

Anchorage – you can rent bikes and ride (or walk) along the coastal trail which goes from downtown to Kincade point, about 10 miles each way. It is a very pleasant and flat bike trail along the mud flats. I would recommend Snow City CafĂ© for breakfast/lunch, but be prepared to wait a little while (you can put your name in and walk around while you are waiting or you can grab a mug of coffee and sit outside and enjoy the weather). 

Chugach National Forest – there are so many hikes and so little time, but two that we did that I would recommend are the Lost Lake trail and Crows Pass. The Lost Lake trail is about 20 minutes from Seward and is about 7 miles each way, but it is only about 2,200 feet of gain, so it is uphill but not too strenuous. Again, I suggest starting early, as there were a lot of people on the trail on our way down. The Crows Pass trail is a 21 mile trail each way, but if you start on the south end near Girdwood (about one hour south of Anchorage), you only need to go about 4 or 5 miles before you see all of the good stuff (the Crows Pass cabin, the Raven glacier, great views) and can turn around and go back. After that it is very brushy, so save your energy for something else. Part of this trail follows the famous Ididerod trail too! 

Lost Lake

And just like that, the one week trip was sadly over. 

Have you ever been to Alaska? What was your favorite thing that you did? Have you been to any of the places on my list? 


Then Versus Now

Now that summer is officially underway, I thought this would be a great time to talk about what summer means to us all. I have written before about what summer was like when I was a kid, so I thought that today I would talk about the then vs. now. 

Then: We used to have a campfire every weekend. We would roast marshmallows and hot dogs and just stand there, flipping from front to back to keep both sides of us warm after a cold river swim. Now: I might whip out the backpacking stove on a trip to make coffee or rehydrate my dinner, but I am not really a big campfire person. I guess part of it is that it smells and I am going to be wearing the same clothes for several days and they are already going to be smelly enough, so I don't really want to walk around smelling like a forest fire on top of it all. The other part is that sometimes there are a ton of mosquitoes and I would rather just chill in the tent and read. In other words, I am a party pooper. 

Then: We used to sleep outside in the backyard in the summertime. All of my cousins would be there and we would be lined up, sleeping bag to sleeping bag, under the stars. Now: While I have never slept in my current backyard, I definitely still sleep outside on a regular basis! A modern summer usually involves at least two weekends and and at least two weeks of camping and backpacking each year! I don't cowboy camp (sleep with no tent) as much as I did then, but I do like to sleep in the tent without the rainfly on it and gaze at the stars through the mesh! Another big change is that I use a sleeping pad now, whereas we used to sleep right on the ground. 

Then: I would spend a couple of weeks each summer with my aunt and uncle, who live in the Bay Area. I could eat what I liked, watch MTV all day, hang out with my baby cousins, and go watch the Giants with my uncle. Now: I live in the Bay Area; I usually go to at least one Giants game per year, and I eat what I like, although I guess now I should be providing my aunt and uncle with their favorite foods instead! Also, my baby cousins all now have babies themselves! 

Then: We used to spend endless hours at the river, swimming, chasing white rocks, having contests of who can stay under the water the longest, or swim across the river the fastest, or throw a rock the furthest. We could entertain ourselves for hours. We used to do endless loops of floating down the rapids in a tube and then walking a half mile back up the river and floating down again. Now: I still jump in a body of water any time I get the chance, but I don't spend the same amount of time in the water. Last year we did have a cousins weekend and we all went to the old swimming hole and swam and jumped off the rocks and it was almost like old times, except we are all more careful not to hurt ourselves these days (sigh, getting older is hard sometimes). On the flip side, we had better snacks! 

Hanging at the beach with Broski

Then: I had to work every summer because my parents owned their own business and summer was the busy time. Many weekends had events and this is where I could really make and save some money, which I would then use to buy my own school clothes later in the summer. Now: I still have to work every summer but now I try to take a week off for each of the summer months and go somewhere and get outside! Unfortunately, I also still have to buy my own school clothes. 

What were summers like when you were younger? What things do you still do now that you did back then (or how have things changed if they have)?