Recently, I've been making a lot of exciting changes in my life. While none of them is directly related to learning a language, clearing out the stresses and distractions in your life is a great way to free up your time and your attention for the things that are important, such as working on your language skills.
I've always had the belief that less is more, and that the things you own end up owning you. Well, after spending most of the last 10 years involved in photography, I've amassed a huge collection of camera gear, film, negatives, slides, prints, darkroom equipment, and more.
But in the last year, I've really only used the digital gear, and I've finally come to accept that I don't need all that other stuff. Thanks to Craigslist, I've managed to sell off most of that old stuff to local photography students. A huge amount of stuff is gone, and I'm left with a digital kit that fits in a single backpack.
I also recently came to the realization that I have not used my DVD player in more than a year. That's a sure sign that I don't need the DVDs, or the player, any more. Many of the DVDs have already sold on Craigslist, and what doesn't sell will be given away. I get all my movies from the internet anyway.
Replacing my iPhone with... nothing
A couple of weeks ago I decided to make an experiment of going without my phone. I immediately know I liked it. The last two weeks have brought almost no difficulties with regard to making or receiving calls, and have brought an added peace of mind with the removal of a phone from my life.
With internet access available to me both at work and at home, I can make and receive calls by Skype or Google Voice from my iMac or MacBook Pro. And the access is wireless in both places, I can also Skype on my iPad or iPhone, if I need to go somewhere for privacy when I talk.
A $2.99 app called GV Connect+ makes it easy to dial Google Voice calls from your iPhone/iPod/iPad, although connecting to Skype isn't possible on iPad until multitasking arrives, in coming weeks. But even better, GV Connect+ gives easy access to the SMS portion of Google Voice, making it easy to maintain SMS communication on the go from WiFi hotspots.
Since I signed my agreement with AT&T in 2009, I'm still on the old cancellation policy, which is $120, less $5 for every month of the agreement that I've met. Which means my cost for cancelling will be less than $60. Compared to the $100/mo I would continue to pay for an iPhone Data Plan that I'm not using, it's a no-brainer. I'm going phoneless, and saving $1200 per year.
The clearest tv signal is also the cheapest
I've had endless complaints about Comcast ever since I first signed up with them for cable television service a few years ago. Their service packages are very inviting and reasonably priced, but their customer service is so bad that even when I first signed up, at the end of the call I wasn't sure if I had successfully signed up for service or not.
Well, I was, but they gave me the wrong package, adding two premium channels and leaving me with a bill higher than I expected. I called on more than one occasion and tried to have it fixed, but they told me that service change would cost more, and they bullied me into keeping them.
After the one-year contract ended, I asked to cut everything back. I dropped their phone service, dropped the two premium channels, and asked for only basic channels and internet service. The result was almost the same price I was already paying.
So I told them to cancel my service. "Did you say ‘cancel'?" asked the representative. "Yes. Cancel it." Hold on, I can transfer you to someone else. The magic word gets you transferred to someone who can give huge discounts. So I was able to get a new, more reasonable package of internet and basic channels for $70/mo.
Last month, that "special rate" ended, and I received a new bill for $120. Can you believe, they charge $70 for BASIC cable channels? So I went to Radio Shack and got their best indoor antenna, for $38 after taxes, and learned something I didn't previously know: the HD signal in the air is actually better than any other signal you can get.
Cable and satellite services have to recompress the signal. So in spite of all their posturing, they're actually giving you degraded service at a premium price. My picture is even better now, and I won't pay a single recurring fee to get it, saving another $800 per year. And once I find an acceptable alternative for internet service (there are plenty to choose from), I will be done with Comcast forever.
My time with my job has come to an end
I recently learned that the company I've been working at for the last year has had to make some cutbacks, and that I would be directly affected. Yesterday was my last day at work. And I'm actually kind of excited about that.
I've managed to put myself into a very fortunate position. At present, I have no debt, a low cost of living, and a comfortable buffer in savings. And with the new changes I've recently made, my monthly costs are getting even lower. So I don't have to rush into the next job and become miserable, just to "stay afloat". I can take my time.
That realization has gotten me to thinking about things. I'm not quite ready for the life of a technomad just yet... but it seems like I'm creeping closer to that every day, and it may just be in the cards one day. Maybe even soon.
Finally, time for my projects!
So while I'm waiting for the right opportunity to come along, I'm going to finally have the time I've needed to work on some exciting personal projects that I haven't been able to work on as much as I wanted.
I can't tell you just yet about all of my new projects and what I've got going on, but I'm really excited about them. One, in particular, is really big and I've been working on it for several months and I can't wait to reveal it once it's ready. But that's going to have to wait just a little longer.
One thing I can tell you about, though, is that I've started working on an eBook, encompassing all of the things I've learned during my year of Italian. It will contain all of the information I've shared here on my blog, plus much, much more!
My top goal is to provide an easy, clear roadmap that anyone could follow to become fluent in Italian in one year or less. And it will come with the extra advantage that you know it works because it worked for me. You can come to my blog and see the results.
And yes, that's also hint that I'm feeling really good about my progress this year. I'll give an update on that soon!
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.