BennyEast.Com/Blog The official blog of Kenny West


Fire and Wine

Last night I had a couple glasses of this Spanish Tempranillo wine.  I started the bottle two nights ago, and still have a good amount left (I'll probably drink a little more tonight).  It takes me forever to drink a bottle of wine.  Anyways, I also made empanadas and had some other snacks by the fire.  I just kind of watched the moon and sat by the fire.  Enjoying the calm...

See, here's the thing... I was thinking about how a lot of people, like everyone in Florida, and the Caribbean Islands, would really do anything to have that calm.  To have power and running water on in the house, AC, washer and dryer working, fridge running, oven working...  A lot of people don't have that at the moment, and maybe it's a temporary thing, and maybe it's going to be a much longer ordeal.

So, I mean, those calm nights can be nice when all things are considered out in the world.

Hmmm okay soo I had this wine... My plan was to have enough to have the "liquid courage" to do some poking around on social media.  I fell asleep instead and woke up with 3 cats cuddled up around me, one was basically on my head and another to the left and the third to the right.

BUT, I did take a look at my analytics today... Soo I KNOW that Miss Plantation didn't get scooped up Dorothy from Wizard of Oz style at least.  I read a bunch of news articles about how 10 million people lost power.  So, I mean, odds are, there's no power.  Which would mean no AC, which would mean if you did lose power it's hot as balloons wherever you are hiding out from this storm...  See, these are the things I think about.  Hopefully you have bucket loads of ice.

At least you're surviving enough to tap buttons on your phone!  Which means you have all your arms and fingers and what not.  It's comforting to know that you weren't scooped up in a hurinado/tornadicane.

Anyways, I don't know... I had some very strange dreams last night which involved being in the hurricane thing.  I had a dream that I was sleeping over in the Hemingway house with their 54 cats... Probably because of the wine and my own 3 cats sleeping all around me.

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So, I'd be lying if I said I weren't worried... I saw that there have been tornados near Plantation and Fort Lauderdale... So, I hope that you're doing okay down there Plantation.  There's power outages, and flooding... And lots of other crazy stuff happening from this hurricane.

So, I'm just worried about the safety of people in Plantation and Forth Lauderdale and Miami, and people there in general.

I wish people who are still there had evacuated instead of staying.  I mean, maybe just if they had gone anywhere else, flown to stay with friends or family perhaps in another area that would have been far from the hurricane...

Just be safe and smart.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to browse over to a certain someone's online social media presence and just see what they are posting to know they are okay.  I haven't looked in a while... But after seeing the tornado stuff and hurricane news... I just want to know because I'm legitimately super worried.

Just know that I'm thinking about you down there in Florida...  My heart is with you.


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Wine and Chinese Food

Today after work I decided to have a night in.  I went and picked up some wine at the wine store... A red, and a white.  Although, I actually plan to open up a red that I bought a few weeks ago... But now I have options!

It's always good to have options when it comes to wine.  Right?

Anyways, the one from a few weeks ago was a random grab... It was some red wine that is from Spain, apparently the name means "early grape". Tempranillo or something.  I'm excited to try it!  I've never had this kind of wine before.

The other two bottles of vino that I bought are a Chardonnay, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery one and this wine that is just called the red wine from a winery in Australia called 19 Crimes.  It came highly recommended.  I figured I should try it!

I was considering opening up the Chardonnay because the last wine I had was a red, although it was a port wine, and it was aged in whiskey barrels.  It's good stuff.  It's also like 40 bucks a bottle and it's also 20 percent alcohol.

It'll get you drunk.

I decided though to go with the other bottle and keep these two for another night.  Although, I also have some pumpkin beer in my beer fridge... Yes, I have a beer fridge... Yes, it's in my living room.  But to be honest, I don't use it ALL that often, and I mostly use it because I like to put stuff on top of it, so it's more of a small table than a fridge.

Also I just kind of had this fridge and didn't know what to do with it.

So, anyways, after the wine place, I hit up the Chinese food place.  I got about 8 pounds of food.

I got rice, and chicken, General Tso's... And a soup, and an egg roll, and some other small items.

I ate like a 10th of it.  Now I'm full.  Hello leftovers though!

So, I plan to just have a couple of glasses of wine and relax.  I'm just staying in and keeping an eye on this storm situation.  Anyways, that's my Saturday night.

Nothing major.  I'm about to practice some music... I'm just staying in.  Remotely connected to my work PC and doing a few small things.  Mostly just tired from the work week, but also a bit uneasy about the storm situation... Just hoping things turn out alright for those people down there in Florida.

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Not Riding It Out

So, my boss informed me today that his parents made a last minute decision to hang up their hurricane spurs and put the lasso on the shelf for this storm.  They're currently on their way northward to his sister's place.

I think it was a good decision.

I just read that Jet Blue is apparently offering 99 dollar flights.  I mean... Even if it has to go on the credit card.... It might be a good idea to just do that.  I don't know... I feel like this is just going to be a major event.

Hmmm... So, yeah, I'll just keep watching the news and see how it goes.

In other news, speaking of news, I decided to buy a hedge trimmer last night to match my current recent lawn equipment purchases.

I guess I'm becoming more of a legit home owner.  I now have the Greenworks Pro 60v cordless mower, string trimmer, and hedger.  I think I might also buy the blower and snow blower.  I'm not going to go into detail here, I'll probably write a more detailed post once I acquire the other tools in the set and really have time to use them.

Anyways, I'm going to go out and hedge some.  But seriously... Even experienced hurricane hold outs have headed for higher ground...  I think at the very least if people plan to stay in Florida... They should seriously consider going to a shelter for the duration of the storm.  It sucks, and shelters are annoying, especially for people such as myself who are all about their personal space... But, staying in a shelter just seems like a smarter idea than staying at home.  Whatever the decision... It should definitely be made before the storm hits.

Well, hopefully things turn out for the best.  I just get the feeling that this whole hurricane thing is definitely pretty scary stuff and shouldn't be something taken lightly.

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Riding It Out

So, my bosses parental units live in Miami, he said, they plan to ride out the storm.  They rode out hurricane Andrew in 92... I guess they have experience with hurricane riding.

Break out the lasso?

In all serious, I think they are crazy, and my boss agrees.

I know a lot of people probably just intend to ride it out.  Hopefully they are high enough above sea level to not have storm surge.  Apparently that's the number one big thing, followed by the wind.

My thing is... Whatever it is anyone does... Whatever they decide... I hope that they spent time Googling the heck out of hurricane preparedness... OR, they have been through other major hurricanes and have experience.

Honestly... I'd be on the first flight far away.

I just feel like the risk is too great to mess around.

On the other hand, one of the camp people back in 2013 who has lived her whole life in Florida in the Miami area... Had this to say "Hurricanes?  Oh, they're nothing.  We go out on the lawn and run around in them."

I'm pretty sure that's not the case with most hurricanes.  Maybe a category 1 where the eye is 100 miles off shore... But a cat 4/5 where the eye goes right over top?  I doubt that...

Anyways... I mean, I would be super scared.  But, it seems to be that there are some native Floridians who have lived in the Miami area their whole lives, who don't seem to be scared to death over the prospect of a hurricane coming their way.

So, maybe things won't be so bad?  Let's hope so!

My heart is with those who are involved with this hurricane or any hurricane...  Having to go through an experience such as this has to be tough no matter how it turns out.

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to go through that.  Yes, we've had some hurricanes up here in PA... But by the time they get to us, they are significantly diminished and are nothing like the ones they get down in the tropical climate areas of the globe.

Number one thing... I just hope everyone, my boss's parents, and anyone else in South Florida... All stay safe.  I plan to keep a close eye on the news to see how things develop.


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Friday night I had some houseguests.  A couple of camp friends stayed the night at my house on their way back home from camp.  It was fun.  We went out downtown and had a good time.

We went to Independence Beer Garden, and then walked from there over to Spruce Street Harbor Park.

It was pretty awesome.  The beer was great, the food was even better... But the best part was this ice cream over top of a waffle monstrosity.  I had honeycomb flavor ice cream over a freshly made waffle.

it was REALLY good.

I like having people over and houseguests and entertaining.  It's fun!  Hah, I mean... I don't know, it's just always a good feeling to have people leave with a smile I guess.

It kind of makes me want to start doing AirBNB or something.  The thing is though, AirBNB isn't friends, it's strangers (who could become friends?).  So, that wouldn't be the same.  Maybe just do FriendBNB and put the word out to friends that anyone can stay if they are traveling about the country and need a spot to spend the night in Philly.  Within reason though, after 1 night, I'd be all like, okay, I need my space, time for you to leave.

Anyway, it was good fun.  I definitely couldn't do it every night, or even every weekend, but maybe once a month I could certainly host a friend at my casa.

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Mile By Mile

So, my Surf income is currently at $254 a month.  Not too shabby.  The last time I calculated it, it was at $244, which is up from what it was before.

What does that mean?

Nothing really.  It means I have some extra beer money to buy beers at open mics that I'm going to start playing.  Or, coffee... Should the open mic be at a coffeeshop.

That money is used for one thing and one thing only... Creative ventures related expenses.

What about the investments?

What about them?  Basically I haven't sold a single one in the last year really.  I've only been buying.  But even the buying part, I've slowed with that.  My last purchase was a few weeks ago.  I just setup the trade, usually the night before, and let it auto execute the next day on market open.

That way, I don't have to worry about it while I'm at my job and I can focus on my actual day job.

For now, I'm letting the current investments all ride.  I'm not going to make any new investments for a little while and just let the cash income come in off the investments.

One of the trickiest things to do in the investing world... Is nothing.  Most people who dabble in stocks get burned because they can't just sit there and be patient.  They get addicted to the constant trigger of the trade button.

My current trade button is on snooze for now.  I may pick up another stock, or more shares in a stock I currently own here or there if I see a REALLY good opportunity... but for the most part, I'm just snoozing it out and using that $254 a month as creative projects cashflow.

For me a good investment opportunity is a drop in share price in a dividend aristocrat stock.  That means, the dividend yield goes up.  Although, it depends on why the share price is dropping.  For the most part, I'm only looking for stocks to buy and hold forever and collect income off the dividend yield.

I don't have time to babysit stocks during the day anyway.  It's a busy time of the year at work so I have work to do.  I just check them each night before I go to sleep and spent 10 or 15 minutes then tending to them.  For the most part they are grown up stocks, they can take care of themselves.

My goal isn't to take up my days trigger trading stocks.  It's to build up an income portfolio, hit the snooze button on trading, then use the income to pay for creative related expenses.  New guitar strings, a drum set, new mics, travel to open mics, beer at open mics, cover charges at open mics, another acting class, fees to upload music online to CDBaby, headshots... Etc. etc.

I did recently receive a small deposit from digital music sales... About 13 bucks.  So, that money goes back in to join the creative salary.  The more coming in, means, the more music related things I can do.  The more money coming in means I can buy more music equipment, or travel further to play open mics.  Basically cashflow is important to any business... So, if I run my creative hobbies like a business... And focus on generating more cashflow, that means I can do bigger and better things.  Maybe I can then write music and record it on better equipment, or even send songs off to be mastered professionally.  I could maybe hire studio musicians to record the parts so they sound a little better than if I play everything myself or a professional producer to really get that mix just right...  I mean, basically, the more money coming in, means, the more I can do to get the ideas that I come up with turned into actual art.

So, that's the focus right now.  Using my investment strategy to fund my creative strategy.  Then using any income earned from creative endeavors to reinvest back into boosting the investment income.  Additional investment income goes to more creative projects.  It's my creative feedback loop.

And hopefully eventually the inch by inch... Becomes a mile by mile.

Hey, if nothing else, I have a little bit of extra money coming in to go splurge at the music store once a month.

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Inch By Inch

My salary from investment dividends is now at $216 a month.  It's actually slightly higher than that because I've been investing in new stocks by buying more shares in dividend paying companies.  Those dividends aren't in my trailing reports.  So, the $216 I'm making a month from dividends isn't including that.

This time last year, I was making about $105 a month from dividends.  My goal is to just keep growing that monthly number.  That's it.  I'm not really interested in trying to grow the total amount in the portfolio... In fact, I could care less about the total value.  I'm interested in the salary.  The dollar volume per month.  It's a bit like when it rains, you don't really care about how BIG the clouds were producing the rain.  It's more about how hard it's raining.

If every dividend deposit is a raindrop... I'm interested in creating a downpour.

Basically, every time I buy a stock now, I plan to hold it for the rest of my life.  I'm buying for the long term.  I'm buying shares in companies that pay regular dividends (rain drops) and keep those dividends growing.

But why?

It's pretty simple.  I want to act.  I want to audition for movies.  I want to write music.  I want to write books.

It's hard to make it in any of those industries.  I would argue it's near impossible.  That actually making a living in any of those industries is pretty much impossible for 99 percent of people who try.

Why risk it?  Why move to LA and then end up waiting tables?  Why move to NYC and then end up living with 20 roommates and having to move back?

So, instead... What I'm doing is creating a stable dividend salary that gives annual raises in the form of dividend hikes.  Then, once that salary is enough to cover all my expenses... I can go act, write music, write books... And I don't have to ever worry about making it.  For the rest of my life, dividend checks will pay all my bills.

I'm at $216 bucks.  Obviously, that's not going to pay my bills.  But hey, my only goal previously was to break $100 a month, and then after that, my goal was to break $200.  Now my new goal?  Break $300.

And I'll just keep on letting my investments ride and pay dividends and tally the dividends until that number breaks the point where it covers all my costs in life.

I've mentioned it to a few people, and pretty much everyone laughs at the amount.  But, keep in mind, that $216 dollars is earned without any work.  I could sleep all day, and all night.  I don't have to show up anywhere, do any kind of work at all other than just let the stocks ride passively and the dividends show up in the account.

That's actually pretty powerful.  Consider just a normal 9-5 job... Let's say you get up every morning and you commute the average commute.

The average commute time is 25.4 minutes.

So, that's both ways.  50.8 minutes.  If that commuting is done via a car, you pay for gas.  You pay for maintenance on the car.

To work, from work, to work, from work.  Now, the more time on the road, means the more likely you are to have some kind of car repair needed.

With my dividend checks.... I don't even need to get out of bed to make money.

The only thing I have to do once a year is file the taxes made on the money.  And even that, I could have someone do for me.

So, that $216 I'm making a month, lets say I had to get up and commute somewhere to make that money.  The real rate of return on the income I'm making goes up.

So, even though I'm making more at my 9-5 job, I have commuting costs.

I also have stress costs.  Work is stressful and draining.  Dividends just come in.  I could be poolside, sipping on a margarita.  The dividends keep coming.

You get the idea.

So, let's say to deal with a stressful job someone has to have a couple drinks every night after work... Those drinks add up!

But anyways, it's not that I don't want to work... I just want to work a job that has unpredictable and unstable income.  SO, I'm creating income to replace that part of the industry.

My next goal is just to hit $300.  Once I hit that number in monthly income... I'll plan my next goal.  In the mean time while I wait for that salary to increase... I've been starting to create budgets and spending patterns.  I've been tracking future costs and how much things will cost me going forward to better get an idea as to how I can transition from my current 9-5 to a dividend salary working on creative endeavors.

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes to really replace my current 9-5 salary with a dividend salary.  I do believe it's possible to do... It's just going to take time to get it ramped up.  What's interesting about an investment salary versus a 9-5 salary is... On a regular work salary, you show up, and you get paid.  If you stop showing up to work... Or if for some reason you are let go... That salary stops.

It's impossible to get fired from investments.  Yes, some investments can turn south.  Dividends can be slashed or cut.  This is where proper portfolio management comes in.  There are a lot of companies that have been paying dividends for 100+ years, and many that have been increasing the amount of dividend they pay for 25+ years.  Diversification is key, and holding solid dividend paying companies is also key.

Right now I'm holding 80+ different investments in my portfolio.  My ideal goal is to basically get that number over 1000 different holdings.  So, if any one company goes completely bankrupt... The jolt to my monthly income is less.  As well I hold different kinds of investments... Bonds, common stock, REITs.  The idea is to try and build a salary that will pay me for the rest of my life.

If you had a salary to cover all your life expenses... What job would you work?  What passion would you chase?  For me... It's always been making music, acting, and writing.  I've always wanted to be a hollywood movie producer and actor.  I've always wanted to be a music producer and singer/songwriter.  This basically is my life plan on how I'm going to transition to that.  It won't be overnight, and it might take a while... And it might seem like it's only moving inch my inch... But I'll get there.  Slow and steady.

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Just Send Her A Message

Okay, so I really want to write a song with Kesha.  That's pretty much my dream/goal in life right now.

A bunch of my friends and even my brother were all like... "Just send her a message!"

I'm like, okay, you can't just send Kesha a message.  It doesn't work like that.  She's famous.  She has millions of fans all trying to holler at her all at once...

So, even if I TRIED to send her a message... She probably wouldn't even see it.  Also I wouldn't even know where to start!  It's not like she just has her number on her website and it says... "Here's my number!  Give me a call!"

So, where to even start would be difficult.  You can't just yell into the wind and Kesha hears it.  I mean, who knows, maybe you can, but as far as I know, you can't.

Let's say she DOES happen to get some message from me.  Let's say I even were able to talk to her in person and be like... "OH MY GOD KESHA!!!!!  CAN WE WRITE A SONG TOGETHER!!!"

What?  Is she just going to drop everything and be like... "Write a song?  Right now????  SURE!  Let's DO THIS!"

No.  It doesn't work that way.  Kesha is a busy lady.  She's got things to do...  SO, even if I were able to some how even find a way to get a message to her... Then even if she were to read the message... and even if she were to learn that I even exist... and then actually know who I am... As the saying goes, "Ain't nobody got time for that".

Because here's the thing, if Kesha writes a song with me... That means, she's has to write a song with every other non-famous songwriter who wants to write a song with her.  That list could get very long.

If you do for one, that means you have to start doing that for everyone.

So, while "Just send her a message" is a good idea in theory... As I keep telling people, it doesn't work like that.  You can't just message a famous person.

I mean, that goes for more than songwriting... Actors... Authors.  You can't just tell some famous actor that you also want to be in a movie with them.  You can't just email some famous author and say you want to write a book with them.

It just doesn't work like that.  Yes, it would be awesome if it did.  But this is just how things work in the real world.  You have to work hard to get famous as well and then you have to have long talks between agents and other legal-esk people to finally organize some kind of collaboration.

Kesha doesn't just, invite you over to her house, the two of you open a bottle of wine, break out the guitars, and start writing music.

Just like J.K. Rowling wouldn't just invite you over for a short story writing session over sushi.

So, as much as I want to write a song with Kesha... It's just not going to happen.  I mean, who knows, maybe if I could somehow figure out how to get my own music career launched, and manage to become as famous as she is, and then convince both our labels to let us have some kind of play date... Then maybe I could write a song with her...

But for everyone to just say... "Oh, just send her a message!"

Yeah.  Because it's that easy.  It just doesn't work like that.  She's Kesha!  You can't just send Kesha a "Yo what's up?  Let's write music together!" message.  As awesome as that would be... It's just not meant to be at the moment.

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Okay, so my new song is done.  And, it's on its way to the various digital streaming sites.  I have another song in the pipeline and I've just started another another song.

Lately, though, I've been obsessed with the new Kesha song.  It's super good.  I really love it.  But let's be honest, who doesn't love it?

It's just really good.  Anyways, so, I was saying "I wish I could collaborate with Kesha, that would be amazing!"  I think she's just a very unique and cool and talented artist.  She really is just interesting, and I'd love to collaborate with her.

My brother was like... "You should try to get her attention, do something that stands out."

So, then I had this idea for a song.  And now I'm working on that.  I mean, hey, it might not ever end in Kesha and I recording a song together... But it's just fun to be working on something new.

Anyways, I'm working on all the small little admin stuff related to finishing posting my newest song.  I've also been working on my next projects.

And of course, I've been listening to Kesha's music non-stop lately.  Anyway, if you haven't heard the new song by her, it's called "Praying".  Definitely check it out.  It can be found on YouTube.  It's SOOO good.

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