Monday, March 31, 2014

$6 worth of books in a Ford Festiva: How I almost got away with it.

7am! Gotta get up!

There's a book sale in Harrisburg today. You can fill a grocery bag with books for $1. My cash flow issues haven't evaporated, so the price is right. My car - the almighty Ford Festiva - just got a ton of work done. I want to see what it thinks about the highways again.

It liked the highways pretty good, I'd say. I haven't personally put many miles on this car, and today I noticed that it has cruise control. No tape deck, but it came with cruise control. Wild times. No cup holders... but cruise? Check. It's a nice touch.

8:30am. I look at my watch, and I'm starting to feel pretty good about myself. It was a rushed morning. No time for food. No time for coffee. No time to interrupt my fiancé in the shower. (btw, I'm getting married.)

Just as my brain was patting my body on it's back, I realized there was a problem. The address I put in the GPS was in "Lancaster," which is not the same as "Harrisburg." It didn't even bother me. I fixed the address and set out again. Maybe I should have taken the extra two minutes to get a coffee.

I was a little bit late, but I got there just the same. I entered the basement of a church and started looking for books that a sane human might want to read. I skipped over the fad diet books and the hopelessly obsolete computer books. I inspected one computer book: there was a 3.5" floppy disk still affixed in it's plastic sleeve inside the back cover. Nope. Gonna go ahead and leave that one right there.

All said, I spent $6 on books. Some of them are actually pretty good. My wireless barcode scanner found quite a few with a healthy estimated value. These prices are great. The snack bar was selling Cokes for a quarter. These folks had put commerce on hold.

I got back in the car, and set my sights on home. I'd stop somewhere and get a coffee. Finally. Maybe I'd get some food.

Instead, my brakes started feeling mushy. Then, when I was looking for a place to pull over, they felt downright fucked up. By the time I pulled over at the Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, there was no hopeful wish that it was a dream. My rim was hot to the touch, and there was clearly some caliper malfunction afoot.

No matter. This is why I subscribe to AAA services. I got a ride the rest of the way, and I'll save the strife for another time.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cash Flow

I've been floating by for nearly one year with no job. This has been made possible by several factors.

1) I haven't been paying rent. I started out staying at my parents' house, and now I'm migrating to the tiny house that I made.

2) I had a pile of bicycle parts to sell on eBay. Two swap meets worth; thousands of dollars in severely under-priced parts and ephemera.

3) I don't spend much. I have an inexpensive lifestyle.

I had two goals when leaving my job as a bicycle mechanic. The first and most important goal was to build a tiny house. The house needs finishing work, but the construction is done. I did it. Boom.

The second goal was to find a way to maintain a job-free existence. I want to set my own hours and make a comfortable income with room for savings and time for new projects and adventures.

I feel like I've made progress on the second goal, but I don't know if it's enough. I have the beginning framework for a sustainable situation selling on Amazon with their FBA program. I have the framework, and the methods and hardware are becoming familiar. The fundamental theory is simple - buy low; sell high. The challenge is in establishing an algorithm for exactly when to buy an item. If you spend too much on inventory, then it might not come back fast enough to cover your needs. Everything might sell, and the profits might be very good, but the speed at which the investments show a return needs to be fast enough to cover monthly expenses. That's cash flow.

If I had a reasonable amount of money in the first place, I wouldn't be as panicked about cash flow at such an early stage. As it is - I am. I look forward to honing my skills and algorithms. I look forward to understanding the math and economics which apply to this emerging market of niche interests, abundance, and the dirt cheap distribution which makes profit possible. But I've burned up some money trying to find my footing and get the equipment, software and hardware that I need in order to operate.

I've pulled a rabbit out of a hat many times over the last year. I've run low on cash and put building on hold while I photograph and list a new round of bicycle components. I've pulled myself out of a hole, and emerged victorious to begin building again. I've pinched pennies and stretched dollars far beyond where most people would assume a breaking point must exist.

Once again, the worry is setting in. Worry comes easy when I feel the threat of a traditional job breathing down my neck. I have some bicycle parts and other items to sell, but I've been getting closer and closer to the bottom of the barrel. The $100+ bicycle parts are long gone. The $40 bicycle parts are possibly all gone as well. I need to nickel and dime my way back to solvency.

I feel like I'm going to make it past this point. I don't know how it's going to happen, but I need it and I want it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I am faring poorly indeed.

Dear Diary, 
I am faring poorly indeed. I fear the season has wrought the worst upon me. I am a withered vestige; a dusty vessel. My arms hang loosely like severed anchor chain. Unable to lift myself from despair, I vacillate freely between tears and frustration. How many more months can I go on like this? I am watching myself from above, and I cannot save the man I see. He is hopeless for the time being. His empty carcass drifts pointlessly in a labyrinth; slowly, for the exit is measured in time not distance.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catching Up With Clive Cussler.

I joined a society which one year ago I did not know existed. The Clive Cussler society is a dues-paying group with an email chat list. When I got tired of pressing a glass to the wall, I paid my dues and was invited into the inner circle. This afforded me the opportunity to purchase a fantastic hat:

I'm an anthropologist at heart, but a curious goofball by nature. In either case, I had to know what was happening in the minds of Clive Cussler's biggest fans.

I read "Shock Wave" in 1996. I was impressed by the intricacies of the plot and the fortitude of Dirk Pitt - Clive Cussler's greatest serial hero. After Shock Wave, I bought the next 50-cent Clive Cussler book that I came across. It was while reading Sahara that it began to dawn on me that all of Clive Cussler's books might be the same. There is a formula.

I stopped reading Cussler books, but I continued to take notice of them. New ones sprouting up all the time; old ones from the 1970's being sold for a dime. Clive Cussler doesn't have the most titles - what interests me is the machine that he has built. He now co-authors with several other men, including his now-grown son, Dirk Cussler. The machine is now a family business, and it churns out several new titles every year.

I wonder about the details of the writing process. I am curious about the nature of the communication between co-authors, and I would be interested to learn how much weight rests on the shoulders of Cussler himself, now in his 80's. I want more information about the demographic of those who join the Society. (I think it's mostly just rich men with Doxa diving watches.)

With nowhere else to turn, I have decided to begin reading all the books. The first Dirk Pitt adventure was written in 1973, and I am moving in chronological order by series.

Based on reviews, and the fact that I've read "Shock Wave," I am getting the picture that Clive Cussler's writing got better with practice. The early books - I've read three so far - are quaint with a tendency to include wince-inducing passages. In the first three books, we establish that Dirk Pitt is a misogynist who is immune to bullets. While reading these books, I've found that I am not rooting for the main character so much as standing on the sidelines with my jaw slightly agape.

Forging ahead: I am now preparing to begin "Raise The Titanic!" In his previous adventure (captured in "Iceberg"), Dirk Pitt faked extreme stereotypical homosexuality in order to lower the defenses of the evil people who were planning to take over the world. He braved some bullets and unfortunate slurs, but his pulp-beaten bones healed enough for him to fuck a woman at the end. I hope the next adventure is equally incredible.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Problems or Blahblems? Anxiety via Task List.

I'm having a real issue with feeling unproductive and inundated by an infinite task list. This is white knuckle fuck-the-world anxiety; probably induced by drugs or a lack thereof.

Regardless, I managed to pack and ship a good pile of eBay items, and then turn around to photograph and list ten more items. For a day with a slow start, this is a good result. But - I haven't found time to work on a single detail of my new house in a week.

The to-do list is long, pals and scouts. The list is long and growing...

I should be happy. I have health and freedom and I've learned how to generate a reasonable income without the suffocation of a blue collar job.

I'm usually happy. As much as I deplore consumer culture, it makes a reliably buoyant elixir to float upon. At 31, I'm still finding my place.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shipping Internationally with eBay. Seller Protection is a joke.

Shipping outside of the United States is something that makes US eBay sellers cringe. To qualify for "seller protection," you have to ship with a service that provides a tracking number and delivery confirmation. That leaves one option at the post office: Priority Express International. The cost is much higher, and it is typical for prospective buyers to assume you are trying to fleece them. The fact is though, when you ship with a lesser option, the buyer has only to say that they did not receive the item, and their money will be refunded every time - at the seller's expense. Regardless of any mitigating evidence, eBay will automatically rule in favor of the buyer. I understand why eBay does this - they must protect eBay's reputation as a safe place to buy. Unfortunately, the way they achieve this is by systematically throwing sellers under the bus.

It cost me about $300 to learn this lesson. Now, when somebody asks for international shipping, I just quote the high price and give a short robotic explanation.

Sometimes people don't mind:
Hi sandwichbear,

I'm very glad to invite me to your auction and to get chance to take your fine parts. The Topline crank-set is my favorite one and I've been using four sets for my bicycles. I hardly ever see a new one in recent years. I don't mind the shipping cost what you anxious about. Thank you very much.

Kindly Regards,

Takashi from Japan

Takashi seems like an alright guy. Like many Japanese, he is also willing to pay a fair price for good components. If I could lower my shipping costs, I would happily do much more business with Japan.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Installing an inlet, wiring an outlet.

What a difference a pill makes. In spite of a cold wet day, I managed to get some work done.

First up on the chopping block: an alternative to running an extension cord through an open window.
I bought a weatherproof “inlet” for the side of the house. An inlet is like an outlet, but it has three prongs instead of three holes. Since I don’t know the professional way to complete most tasks, I had to piece together a plan from Youtube videos and bits of forum threads. Mix that information with some common sense, and you’re ready for tools.

15mg of borrowed Adderall worked like a charm. Without it, I’d be muttering and cussing. A project like this might bring me close to tears. With it, I’m focused. I know my methods are cobbled together and inefficient, but isn’t that the nature of all self-directed learning?

I slipped a Sharpie out of my pocket, and traced a circle around the guts of the inlet. The circle was two inches in diameter, and I only had a 5/8″ bit. Not to be slowed down, I drilled several little holes instead. I retrieved my new Rotozip to clean it up. The Rotozip didn’t like my siding too much, so I walked back through the snow once more to retrieve a jigsaw. Better. I only had to hack away for another five minutes to get a good fit for the inlet’s guts.

Any person with skill or experience would be done by now. I was still getting started.

From the outside, I ran my 5/8″ bit up at a slight angle, and towards the general area where I wanted to install an outlet inside. The bit broke through the drywall pretty close to where I was aiming. Close enough, anyway – and I allowed myself a wide margin of error.

The next task was to install a plastic outlet receptacle on the inside wall. The Rotozip was right at home for this part. I Sharpie’d around the box, plunged the Rotozip’s bit through the drywall, and found almost immediately that I had traced the box over a stud. That’ll need to be touched up. I traced again, and cut out a rectangle the size of the box. The size was about right, but the depth was about a quarter inch shallow.

Here’s where I started getting fancy.

I used a big flathead screwdriver to slash a bunch of shallow grooves into the foam board insulation. I clawed the insulation out with my fingernails and the flathead blade until the box fit. I know there was a better way, but sometimes the best way ends up being any way that doesn’t stop the project. The box fit.

But I wasn’t done yet.

This type of receptacle – the blue plastic type – attaches to a stud with two pre-installed 3″ nails that are at an angle nearly perpendicular to the face of the box. Maybe a 15 degree angle. The box itself fit the hole, but the nails did not. Even if the nails did fit into the recess I’d carved out – how could I pound them in without cutting out way more drywall?

I cannot recommend this solution, but it worked:

I used the Rotozip to carve out two extended recessed lines where the nails could be nested. The receptacle and the nails were now recessed in the wall where I wanted them – but how could I pound in the nails? I walked through the snow again to retrieve a nail set. A nail set is used to push the head of a nail neatly flush with a surface without damaging the surrounding material. In my case, I eyeballed the angle of the nail and estimated where the nail set could go to line up with the head. Then I jammed the tip of the nail set through the drywall at an angle, and forced it to line up with the head of the nail. This took minor violence. I pounded the nails in using the nail set jammed through the surrounding drywall at a shallow angle. It worked.

I can probably fill the hack-job drywall damage with some spackle – much easier than patching. My drywall job is far from pro, but it looks alright with paint on it. You can see all the joints and a good percentage of the screw heads, but I’ve moved beyond caring about that. I can hang drywall, but it’s going to have some character.

I walked through the snow again, and took a fifteen minute break to review outlet wiring. Brass = hot; silver = neutral; green = ground. I got a clean scrap of Romex, stripped the three wires on one side, and with inefficient meticulousness, I attached the wires in a correct and respectable manner. I slipped the wires into the wall-hole from the outside, and attached the cover plate of the inlet making sure the waterproof gasket was evenly compressed against the siding. I moved inside, stripped the other end of the Romex, and attached the wires to their corresponding outlet screws.

A careful idiot could do this. A careless idiot might get injured, but a careful idiot will do just fine. Double check your work, and plug in something you don’t care about. I had no issues. Now I can plug an extension cord into the outside of my house, and the outlet on the inside will have power. The battery charger is always plugged in – so when you plug in the extension cord, you are “plugging in the house.” I love it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

ADD, SAD, and feelin' bad.

I'm all out of meds. It's a long convoluted process to import brain medicine into this country. You have to convert your money to Bitcoin, send the Bitcoin, verify that it was sent... and then... after awhile... you'll get tracking info. After that, you're home free - you'll have your pills in 7-28 days. Needless to say, I ran out. I'm living the catch-22 reality of being an ADD case that needs to plan in advance for certain things.

An additional encumbrance is how immediately defeated I feel when there is no sunlight. The chemical imbalance is enough to toss me off my rocker. I landed on my ass, and that's the position I've been moping from all day.

I wish I could hide myself in a burlap sack until spring, but sadly, my exposed vitriol sometimes comes in contact with innocent bystanders.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

These Arms Are Shotguns TBA, AT&T!

Pipe dope. PTFE tape. That's what I'm messing with.

I'm applying these materials to a propane trunk line, and I am trying to avoid any leaks. I am using great care and focus; heeding advice gleaned from several hours of study.

I'm in the basement. The lights are switched on by a motion detector. Motion detecting lights are great when you are passing through with an armload of groceries. But - what if you're trying to examine your work closely when the lights turn off? It makes you wish your arms were shotguns. You want to lay a thick blanket of blast down on everything in the room.

I'm wrapping tape delicately, and diligently counting my turns and layers. I'm smearing pipe dope carefully for a good even coat on the pipe's threads. My phone rings. Mother... fuckers. AT&T isn't trying to sell me something - they're just bragging about a service that I wouldn't pay for anyway.

"Reply 'stop' to end mktg messages," they offered as an aside.

I text "stop," reflecting that the word choice does little to capture my current sentiment. I'm slightly more cheesed, because I feel like they tricked me into doing something, instead of just waiting for them to all find hell on their own.

More than four minutes later, I get a message confirming that I will not get any more messages. I look to my arms and lament. My needs are delayed again by slow medical science.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Woes and dough; threats and bets.

I don't have as much money as I think I should. In my skool days, I learned about double-entry accounting. I passed that class, and I passed Accounting II, too. But now that I'm a real man living an adult reality, I use the "feel" method of accounting. I don't know where all my money went, but I feel like there should be more.

I've sold thousands of dollars of stuff. After fees, shipping, subscription accounts... battery banks, building materials, life... the margin is thinner than I feel like it should be. So I blew the dust off my book scanning equipment and cast my line into the water. There was a book sale close to home, and I scanned ISBNs for several hours. I didn't win any big scores, but I got scores of little wins.

I will say one more thing - an unbelievable reality: the IRS hunted me down for $18.92 from 2011. Government-owned robotic tracking machines - it is to you this warning is being issued. Read my keystrokes: brimstone will rain precipitously upon those who seek my soft-earned money. My participation in this charade is a mirage. Under this skin and smile, my bones are being whittled to knife points. Test the water. Test the water with the very tip of whichever pinky toe you like the least.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lagoon of bullshit.

In mid-day, I took my last sip of coffee and stood up to get something done. I lost my keys. It wasn't a pretty sight. There were no pretty words. I knew I was at the bottom rung when I punched the mattress.

I heard an anecdote which I believe took place in Texas. It seems that for some reason when iron was hard to come by, people would burn down an abandoned house to harvest the nails. I was considering this approach when I found my keys in a balled up tee shirt. I wish I didn't find them. I might have done better to touch flame to this lagoon of bullshit.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shaving off a sliver of the pile.

I sold some bicycles. Shelly was over to work on the farmhouse table again, and I finally let go of some bicycles. I owed Shelly some money, and now she owes some to me.

I still have too many bicycles and too many parts. I have a pile Care Bears, a collection of mini guitars, stacked boxes of Mad Magazines... I have stacks and piles of building materials... I am filling an entire room and closet with eBay items to be sold. I need to start making space and making storage. I need to begin the process of letting things go.

Shaving off a sliver of the pile

I went to two parties. I sat around three fires. I wore zero costumes and drank zero beers.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Soon is the season; soon is the move.

I put a ceiling over the bathroom walls. I marked the floor where the pipe from the shower basin should go. I made a thing that resembles a kitchen counter - the next time might be the charm.

None of that is helping us move into a small house any faster. I need heat and electricity. I need to hook up some propane tanks and battery banks. I haven't done either of those things before, but now would be a great time to try it out. The story is the same as it was last week: first I need to sell bicycle parts, then I need to transfer the money to my bank account, then I buy my way toward progress.

I am ready to move in. Emotionally. There is a lot more work, but the loft is a wonderful place already and the downstairs will fall into place as soon as I install the systems.

My birthday is coming up. Kristin got me a gift, but the manufacturer ruined the surprise. There was a huge photo of the contents pasted on the side of the box. I was glad. I want it now!

Ubiquitous Tiny House Heater

Staying warm is the best when you can look at a tiny fire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Staring at the thought of building cabinets.

I don't know how to build cabinets, but I have some ideas. I need to get a counter in the kitchen of this tiny house I've been building. I need to decide on a place for the sink, and a place for the tiny oven. Then I need to build a structure to keep those things in their place.

I'm not a carpenter, and I'm not in any danger of becoming some great woodworker. I basically waited until the last minute to start poking my tape measure in all directions. All that did is confirm that I have no fucking clue what I'm doing.

Instructions for cabinets include lots of expensive plywood. The benefit is that there are instructions. I'll try again next time. Today I built something that functions more as figure 8 than anything belonging inside a house. Strike one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trash picking the future: Free tiny cabinets.

"Wait... slow down. I want to look at this."

The car slows and the headlights slide past trash.

"Woah woah! Back up slightly. I need the headlights to see what's going on."

The car inches backwards, and our headlights settle on a small pile of wood and steel. I exit the vehicle to get a closer look. There's a grill. There are some futon pieces and some veneered particle board that used to hold shelves. I have no business hoarding more materials, but my brain automatically tries to fit these pieces into a puzzle. Then I see one piece that seems an easy fit.

A small cabinet sits to the side of the pile. Functional knobs and hinges - hell, the whole thing is fine. It just looks inexpensive and dated. Too 90's for a modern renovation, and too cheap to consider refinishing.

I gave it another quick inspection to ensure it was tossed for style and there was no disgusting substance. Clean. I took it home.

For now, it looks like it belongs over a toilet in 1994. I plan to remove the superfluous material over the cabinet portion. With a little effort, it will be a cute set of tiny cabinets. 

Good place for a fuse box? We shall see.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shipping derailleurs; buying a watch.

It's 7:21pm. In my left hand, I am holding a Campagnolo Record front derailleur. I have it wrapped in a square of bubble wrap, and with my right hand I am trying to tear off a piece of packaging tape. I could use an extra hand for this, but my honed shipping skills still keep this procedure possible.

As I move to tear the tape one-handed, my watch beeps. I drop the whole mess with a huff, push the watch's "light" button which stops the beeping, and resume the surgically precise operation.

I got a new watch. It's the first brand and style change I've made in over ten years. My go-to wristwatch maker changed the design to include a feature allowing for two different time and alarm settings. This changed the familiar user interface, and after a year of suffering, the battery finally died. Now I am the proud owner of a bright red Casio.

Quaint and informative.

I couldn't be happier. This is the simple digital watch that I was looking for.

Painfully insulting!!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY Farmhouse Table - Day 2

I worked all day on the farmhouse table with Shelly. This is day two. Shelly stayed over last night so we could get an earlier start than yesterday.

Shelly was focused on precision quite a bit, and I keep telling her that when it's done she will see that these little inconsistencies do add up... to a freaking awesome looking table! I've learned the value of a sixteenth and a quarter when cutting wood, and I'm learning what to worry about and when to shrug. The instructions get a little confusing, but we didn't have much difficulty forging ahead with sensible decisions.

We're making two. One for Shelly's house, and one to sell. We have both table tops finished, but not finished - we still have lots of sanding and staining for next time. We have one base completed, but likewise, it needs sanding and stain.

Now I have a full farmhouse table in my van, along with the parts and materials for another farmhouse table, and all of the other stuff that was already in there to begin with. My van is basically acting as a storage shed on wheels.

Lotta brand new wood. Glad I wasn't the one paying for once.

Tabletop #1. Hard to see, but it's held together with 10,000 pocket screws. And glue.

You do a lot of this before cleaning out a channel with a chisel.

We switched off on that.

Working toward a smooth(er) channel with a chisel.

Something like this?

Completed base #1. In this photo, I just pinched my finger with a hammer.

After working all day, we were proud of what we had to show for it - but when you look at what you've just made, it seems like it should not have taken so long. The lesson? Shit takes longer than you think. Embrace that, take your time, and you'll have more fun.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

DIY Farmhouse Table - Day 1

I need money for a battery bank and money for house-finishing supplies. I overdrew my bank account. I took out almost all my money to buy bicycle parts at the last swap meet, and I didn't accurately gauge how much money I would need in my account to tie me over until fresh eBay money starts coming in.


They money has started to come in, but now I'm playing ketchup. In the meantime, I can't make meaningful improvement to the house. I just spent two whole days listing eBay stuff, so now I'm taking a break to do a different project.

Shelly emailed me a link to some DIY Farmhouse Table plans that she wants to try. I'm the one with the most access to basic tools. We scheduled a day to work on the plans, and that day is today.

We started out by gathering supplies and materials. We decided to make two tables - one for Shelly to keep, and one to sell. Ideally, the second table will sell for enough to significantly offset the cost of the first. That's Shelly's department. I'm in charge of tape measures and saw guidance.

We mostly finished two table tops. It seems like a person should have more to show for those hours of work, but a large percentage of the time is taken by the learning curve. Both of us are now much more familiar with the concept of pocket holes - and I get to keep the Kreg jig in exchange for helping out with tools and assistance. Deal!

I consider this an excellent skill-building exercise. This is a fun way to make myself learn how to build something that I want to know how to build anyway.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

As the cashflow begins to trickle...

I listed a ton more on eBay. I've lost track of all the bicycle parts I have to sell. When I need money, I just go to the boxes and start picking out components that I know will sell. Last night, I sold a derailleur for $130, which I paid $20 something for.

The floodgates are creaking open again - for the inane queries of could-be buyers, and the deluge of items in my shipping queue. My level of busy just ratcheted up a notch, but there is great satisfaction to be gleaned from a good sale.

This is what a $130 derailleur looks like. No motors or sandwich maker.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Drywall: it begins.

I put up the first piece of drywall on my furring strips, and it looks like it's going to work out alright. It occurred to me how much more comfortable I would be using free 1" reclaimed boards. First of all, you can take boards on and off without ruining them - which might prove useful for future re-wiring and other "behind the scenes" work. Second, it wouldn't be so critical to know exactly where the studs are. The board itself could be used as a strong enough anchor for almost anything I can think of.

BUT. I already bought six sheets of 5/8" drywall, so that's what I'm using. It does make me wish that I went and got loads of those old free 1"x6"x10" fence boards that were on Craigslist a couple months ago. As an added bonus, I wouldn't need the furring strips with those either. And I'd save some money, possibly making a feed-through jobsite planer a reasonable purchase.

Running the free boards through the planer a couple times would make them look even and awesome. It's a missed opportunity. The major drawback was thinking of a place to keep the boards in the interim - I'm already storing stuff all over, and it's hard to think about where to make yet another mess in my parents' house or property. So the boards would be great, but I need to wrap the project up and start the process of de-cluttering my folks' place from top to bottom.

First piece of drywall. First I've ever hung. I had to cut it 'cause it's too heavy to lift up there alone.

I had to add these furring strips, because I forgot to include "nailers" in the framing. I needed to add something to anchor the drywall to. Not too excited about adding the extra step...