the animal's journal

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Fri Oct 02, 2015 7:11 pm

@Dave- Thanks! I'm really excited about the library development.

@Cmonkey- I've found it quite easy to save on expenses with housing and food provided! If I was living in this area without those it'd shoot up but still be on the lower end of the scale. Similar to @riparian's, likely somewhere between $2,500-$4,000. My income is on the lower side of things. Roughly in the $20-25k range at the moment. That is the biggest thing that is holding me back. I have been working to try to find ways to increase my income over the past few weeks. Currently, the major task is negotiating a raise due to training for (and eventually obtaining) my CDL.

@Ego- Yes, I was hesitant at first but then I thought that I couldn't not take this opportunity. It saves me $5-10k or whatever driving school is going for these days. Off the top of my head, the other certifications I am interested in all pertain to nature/wilderness and wilderness travel. I would be interested in getting certified as a Wilderness EMT, Swiftwater rescue technician and in avalanche training. I'm sure there are others out there that I'm not remembering at the moment.

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jennypenny
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby jennypenny » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:02 am

I'm glad you're blogging again. :)

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:26 pm

Thanks, Jenny. More posts coming in the near future.
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Recently, I have been working to winterize my setup. This is a picture of where I am living this winter:

Image

It is basically a raised wall tent, covered with plywood on the outside structure and wood paneling on the inside. The roof consists of canvas, and two tarps. Needless to say there is little to no insulation. I have electricity but no other utitlities. I have been heating the cabin with a big electric space heater which has worked great so far.

As you can see, I've done a few things already to winterize the place. I have a good amount of snow banked up on the walls. In an ideal world, I would basically create an igloo, but I don't know if I have enough motivation. I'll probably settle for 2/3 up the walls. I'm getting pretty close to that now. The windows have been covered with plastic film. I hung a blanket over the door. Finally, I also added cardboard in between the studs in the roof as insulation, covering that with a polyurethane sheet.

Image

What have been the results of my implementations? I'm glad you asked! I'm comfortable at 48* F so that's what I have the room set at. But in order to test possible results, I cranked the heat up to see what the max would be. Before winterizing: 59* F. With winterizing: 75* F. Big difference!! It hasn't been too cold yet. We had a cold spurt a week ago where it hit -5 F but that didn't affect me at 48*. I imagine the max temperature dropped a bit though. That was pre-winterizing. It's supposed to get colder and colder again starting in the next few days so it will be interesting to see.

Any suggestions on how to improve my setup? It's worked well so far, but it remains to be seen how it will do at 40 below. I'm thinking about making a woodstove out of a 55 gallon drum. I'd line the interior with firebrick and maybe surround it a bit with that too to capture more heat. I haven't decided on that yet though. Adding real insulation to the roof instead of cardboard would be better, but I don't plan on going to town anytime soon so I don't know how feasible that could be.

I've also thought about sectioning off a portion of the room with blankets or something else to create a smaller space for heating. Instituting some of the ideas in the sleeping in a cold room thread could be wise too. I'm having fun!

In other news light is changing quite quickly here, as it always does. We have been losing light at 8-10 minutes/day. Sunrise is now around 9:30 AM and the sun sets at 4 PM. With that said, the sun doesn't rise above the mountains until after 11 AM. The sun is no higher than 20* in the sky at any point of the day. In a couple weeks the sun will dive behind the mountains and we will lose sight of it for all but a few minutes each day. In a month, the sun will dip below the horizon, where it will remain for 33 days before finally rising above the horizon on Jan. 7. Let the interesting times begin.

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cmonkey
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby cmonkey » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:01 am

Looking great. There was a convo on here about enjoying cooler temps, you'd fit right in!

That would certainly be an experience, no sun for 33 days. I enjoy the days where the sun is beginning its decent, sort of how I enjoy the wind down period of my evenings, but once we are at the bottom I am longing for it to start rising again. I also enjoy this time of year because my cube sits on a south window and so I bask in the sun all day. :)

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El Duderino
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby El Duderino » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:58 am

Maybe try a layer of cardboard on either side of the stud and stuff some crumpled newspapers or magazines in between. Carpets from floor to ceiling would be an additional barrier. A nice rug would tie the room together and give it a homey feel.

You're pretty tough to be able to withstand the cold and reduced daylight!

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby ffj » Sat Nov 07, 2015 9:32 pm

Holy crap, I couldn't do the perpetual darkness for that long. I'm irritated that it gets dark here around 6 p.m. Way too early for me. :)

I hope your power doesn't go out because that space heater will be null and void should that happen. Do you even have any wood cut for a wood stove?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:18 am

@cmonkey- It definitely provides an interesting perspective. I am going to visit my family for Christmas back in Illinois. I'm looking forward to the abundant daylight!! You get used to the lower amounts of daylight and are rewarded with beautiful displays of stars and aurora when the sky is clear. Although I have noticed some physiological effects so far due to the lack of vitamin D. In hopes of mitigating negative side effects, I've been taking a vitamin every other day and ordered a "happy light," which is on its way.

@El Duderino- Thanks for the idea. I've thought something along the lines of that too. May try it out. Although newspapers aren't too common around these parts!

In regards of toughness, I'm nothing compared to the old timers that came up here in the gold rush or even those up until the 1970s. Those guys traveled months on end to get to this area. Had no running water, electricity or utilities of any kind. If they wanted any goods from civilization they would place an order on April 1 and receive them at the earliest from Seattle on July 1. There was one old timer who bragged about getting through the winter and only having used two candles. I have running water, electricity, phone, internet and amazon that delivers to me within 2-4 weeks. I'm living the high life!

@ffj- This is experimental more than anything. I have an alternate location nowhere near as extreme (where heating is provided) if this doesn't prove feasible. Don't worry, I'm not that stupid. ;)



Since my last post I have banked all the sides completely up to the roof. Initiate igloo mode. I have deemed living in this structure igloo style is probably the only possible option if I wish to continue this experiment throughout the winter. There is simply not enough insulation to provide for a heat source without expending a large deal of power or using a large amount of wood. If I were to use no heat in the present mode, with snow banked up completely on sides and roof, the cabin would maintain a temperature between 20 F and 60 F depending on movement/body heat. Not too bad..I think I could adapt to those lower temperatures. Will update results soon.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:19 pm

As of today, I have accepted a new position as a wilderness therapy field guide. I may have mentioned it elsewhere, but wilderness therapy is basically outdoor education with behaviorally challenged youth. The organization I'll be working for does 64 day courses on ocean, river and mountains (located in Alaska). Instructors switch out every 21 days, with prep work on either end. I can do anywhere from 2-6, 28 day contracts. It involves much higher pay than what I make now. Training is in March. I'm looking forward to it!

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby Dave » Mon Nov 23, 2015 3:32 pm

Very exciting! Will you still continue to do your current guiding, in between wilderness therapy guide excursions? Or is it an either-or situation?

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:04 pm

Dave- It is not an either-or situation. However, I will likely not continue my current guiding job. I am absolutely in love with the area that I am currently in, but with regards to the job itself I am pretty apathetic. Too much time sitting on my butt, driving people around. No challenge, minimal skill involved.

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby Dave » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:24 pm

Makes sense.

theanimal wrote:Too much time sitting on my butt, driving people around. No challenge, minimal skill involved.


Haha, this sounds likes a lot of desk jobs, less the driving people around part 8-).

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:07 am

It has been now 3 weeks since the sun's rays last reached the ground here. Yes, that means exactly what it says. No sun so far for 21 days. It's not hidden behind the clouds or anything like that, it just simply doesn't exist within sight. I should say that I mixed up the amount of time we have no sun on my earlier post. It is not 33 days, but 63 days! About 20 out of those 63 the sun is below the horizon, the rest of the time it is behind the mountains. No sun from November 18 to January 23.

There have been 3 separate instances over the past 3 weeks where I have caught a glimpse at areas other than where I live. Each of those instances were for only about 2-3 minutes, but they were great days!! No matter where you are though, the sun is fleeting and by now the sun is just a couple days from going beneath the horizon. No glimpse of the sun again, unless I decide to climb up one of these mountains in this area. We are in a constant state of twlight. Right now that's right around 4 hours each day, and steadily dropping. The mountains are lit up with alpenglow all day long and the sky is vibrant with all kinds of colors including yellow, pink, orange, red, blue and purple. The light is quite magical, despite the lack of it. However the nights are LONG. It's dark from right around 3:30 pm to 10:30 am in the morning. Besides clocks, stars are the only indicators of the passage of time as the earth makes its daily rotation and their location changes in the sky.

For the most part, I don't think I have had any major issues with regards to the lack of light. I have a happy light that puts out quite a bright output of light (simulating sunlight), take a vitamin D supplement almost every day, eat fairly well, exercise every day and try to get outside as much as I can. That being said, there are still some things that I have noticed. With the lack of light, it's been really hard for me to motivate myself to do any big snowshoeing trips in the area or anything like that. The other major one is that I have noticed myself getting irritated rather easily lately. That usually is not the case for the most part, and I don't believe that my character/stoicism/ what have you is reverting, so I am blaming that on the light as well.

The interesting thing is that a lot of it is external irritations, which are obviously out of my control. One of the major things that I am ever so increasingly becoming dissatisfied with is the culture here. As someone who enjoys hiking, rafting, and/or doing whatever outside I am the outlier here. Not only in winter but summer as well! This has been the most surprising thing I have discovered during my time here. Most of the people here are indoor cats, who like to watch lots and lots of tv, drink copious amounts of alcohol and the like. Talking about tv shows and how your fantasy football team is doing is not my idea of a fun time. That's all fine if you're into that, but not something that I'm looking for. I want something more real and a lot less shallow. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a coworker that I would look up to as a mentor. If you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around, these are not the people that I would pick! They are nice and I get along with everyone just fine but I think you get what I mean.. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised with it being a seasonal job, it tends to attract that type of crowd. However you would think in the far north of Alaska, there would still be many people who have outdoor interests etc. Oh well..for the longtime locals in this area that is not the case. And they are surprised by the culture quite a bit as well. Fortunately, those are some of the people that I can look up to as mentors in this area, living lives that are essentially ERE.

On the job front, I have well surpassed the challenge stage for this venture. If I was to place myself somewhere on Jacob's beloved flow chart, I'd find myself in the apathy or boredom sector. This job is no longer a challenge to me or requires much further skill. I probably hit this point somewhere between 2-3 months ago. Early on, yes it was a challenge as I was learning both information that was pertinent to the area, figuring out how to present it in a tour format, interacting with guests, personalizing the tour based on their experience etc. I'm now at the point where I can provide an outstanding experience for guests and visitors without trying. I'm not trying to brag, just trying to demonstrate how little challenge this requires. My knowledge has definitely reached and by now slightly surpassed the 80% point on the S-curve. Many guests are surprised to find out I didn't study biology in school or something similar. I have been acquiring knowledge at a much slower rate. As someone who tends more to the introverted side, this position has been good for me as I have had to deal with over 750 strangers on my own in a variety of different situations. It is my belief that it has been a boon to both my interpersonal skills as well as my ability to speak in front of groups confidently.

The good news is that things are looking up on all fronts. In about a week, I am heading back to the Chicagoland area for 2 weeks to visit family for the holidays. I'll have more than 7 hours of sun!!!!!!!!! My new job should allow me to engage with the type of people that I am more interested in and that are of a different type of culture. And finally, it'll provide a much greater challenge and take more skill to work with behaviorally challenged youth. But yes, I am aware of the eventual possible recurring issues in the new job as well. I'll evaluate again as time goes on.

Well, that's plenty of rambling for one night..Thanks for bearing with the rant if you read this far. I mainly just wanted to get this out of my head and onto paper for my own purposes.
Last edited by theanimal on Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:17 am

Also, I figure I should provide an update on my housing situation. I have since moved out of the cabin and have been in another room for the past few weeks. The lack of insulation caused the usage of a large amount of electricity which I deemed unnecessary and wasteful. In my new room, I am still working on cold adaptation and minimal energy usage, but the hallway and surrounding rooms are heated. For the most part my room is around 40 F. I can be comfortable in this with adequate layers and a blanket for quite a long period of time. Sometimes I require a hat too. We've had colder temperatures (-20 F or colder) the past few days and my room has dipped down to 36 F. I have persisted for now but that thermostat is looking awfully tempting... :?

Note: I have no pipes or anything plumbing related connected to my room that I have to worry about keeping warm.

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby cmonkey » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:44 am

Oh my 63 days without sun. I thought my days were rough with the sun still rising as I sit down to my desk and the sun just setting when I step off the bus in the evening. At least I can see it through the window! I was just commenting about how far down on the horizon the sun is this time of year. When I was younger I never paid much attention but now I really notice it.

So your community is made up of seasonal workers? Why go to Alaska if not to experience the outdoors! I would try to get out every day if I could. I have come to enjoy colder weather more as I get older and this year walking to the bus each morning in the crisp air is really nice, especially with frost covering everything. Very magical. I've even started walking on weekends in the morning.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:11 pm

@cmonkey- Yes, it certainly is easy to take it for granted. Back when I lived in IL I used to be upset about the measly 7 hours or so in the middle of the winter. But no sun at all drastically changed my perspective.

Yes, there are two communities in this area. The one I'm at is very close to 100% seasonal. The other is comprised of locals who live here year round, multiple years. Still not a lot of people total though. Less than 35 people are divided between the 2 communities. It boggles my mind why they decided to come up here. You can't beat a nice walk! Plenty of beauty in the landscape.

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Wed Dec 16, 2015 1:05 am

Update from Another World

Apparently, I am now in the Chicago, IL area but somehow I seem to have found myself on another planet. After spending 7 months straight in the Arctic, I surely have noticed quite a few differences. There are cars, travelling everywhere. Flying over Seattle was weird..all the cars travelling down the highway in the morning rush. The line simply never ends. Like a barrage of ants travelling in formation. Walking around the airport, I am surprised (although I shouldn't be) at how many fat people there are and how many of them are staring at a screen! Did I get dropped on the set of Wall-E? While waiting in Salt Lake City's airport, I walked from one end to another. In 5 minutes (one way distance), I encountered 18 people walking and on their phones. However, almost everyone stopped or sitting was on a phone, laptop or some other telescreen. There are lights everywhere. I can barely see a single star in the night sky, instead I see the light pollution reflecting off the clouds. Planes, helicopters and other flying objects seem to be flying over constantly. Everyone is a stranger. Nobody wants to talk to you, let alone wave when you are passing. This is considered OK. I truly feel like I'm travelling between 2 worlds, the movie Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance reflects this well. I'm in an ecological wasteland.

PS: On the plus side there is quite a bit of light here! Apparently, it's not night basically all day on other planets. Who knew? :P

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby cmonkey » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:16 am

Welcome back to this part of the world! Even though I have never spent time away like that I understand the feeling. Whenever I take vacation I almost always spend it on my homestead just enjoying myself which means not leaving the house/property for up to a week, possibly longer. Then if we go to get groceries or something its so.....strange. People just sort of wandering around with phones in hand looking like they haven't the foggiest what's going on. Same feelings with the traffic, our preferred method of transit is very very strange. Though, I do consider from time to time just how nice it would be to get around by horse and buggy now that we have all this asphalt everywhere. Maybe once the cars don't have gas anymore..

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby George the original one » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:28 am

> all the cars travelling down the highway in the morning rush. The line simply never ends. Like a barrage of ants travelling in formation.

I felt that way while living/working in that world. Now it's a mild form of entertainment provided I don't have to be in those lines.

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby AtticusFinch » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:32 am

Did you make it back up in one piece, friend? How's the temp? Are you happy to be back or just waiting for the next gig to start. All is well here, thinking seriously about taking up the bow project you left with Jacob, I was looking at recurve bows online when I remembered my new years resolution, "no new shit or anything I could make myself." Seeing as how you've already broken ground on it, it's up to me to finish if I want a bow anytime soon. Keep us posted on your travels man, it was a real pleasure reading your journal!

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby Ego » Tue Dec 29, 2015 8:50 am

Welcome back to the land of opportunity! Adding a new planet where you can function and survive (the arctic) represents massive growth. The societal-sickness that screams at you but that everyone else thinks is normal, and its correlate, return-overwhelm, may encourage you to shun this planet. That would be the opposite of growth. Being able to function in both provides advantages over those who can only function in one.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:33 pm

cmonkey- That's basically the same strategy I followed during my time away. I only left the house if visiting others or otherwise needed. I'm not a fan of these artificially contrived environments. I feel as if I'm living in a designed world, like The Truman Show. I think like Ego says though, it's important to have the ability to still do it.

George- I'm sure it feels good to be on the other side!

Atticus- My initial flight was cancelled by sleet in Chicago, so I was delayed a day but gained a more direct flight and a $125 discount in the process. Not the worst that could happen. There is a warm spell going on up here. It is 20 above zero (F) today after hitting -45 below on two separate days last week. T-shirt weather! It's great to be back. I love it here. Though the new job should be fun too. I like the bow project idea. Let me know how it progresses.

Ego- Thanks. Great points to consider. Being able to live in both environments requires adaptability, which I know you value. I do too. I do recognize shunning the rest of civilization to live in the Arctic or some other remote location would be a regression. As of now, I can live in both worlds. The hardest part is the transition. Hopefully, I can improve on that over time.

I will say I'm very happy to be back to this...

Image

Opportunity Costs

These have played a big role in my thoughts lately. I'm reading Economics in One Lesson now, which doesn't help ;) . I'm realizing more and more how opportunity costs dominate almost every factor of life. Its quite present in my current situation. I constantly have questions in my head whether or not I am making the right choice to go to the new job. I love the area I'm in now and am part of a great community. Though the other job is something I want to do and also allows me to have greater freedom (allowing me to do other things I want to do). I think the lack of security, in the form of a contract job, leads to the thoughts that maybe I should be doing something else, perhaps something safer. It could be fear of the unknown too, but it doesn't really matter. I think that fear or the particular worries can be dangerous and prevent any growth from occurring. After all, I don't want to live like the cubicle drones who believe they are secure. The perceived risk may be high but actual risk is very low. There is also the possibility for great benefits. Most of the time, I am content with my decision and thought process. Questioning myself and my decisions is probably healthy as long as I don't over-do it. So we'll see how things go.

There are so many things to do in life, yet so little time! I do like the way my lifestyle is set up for this year. Yesterday, I was offered a pretty good outdoor related job, for which I didn't even apply! How cool is that? If I was in the same spot two years ago, I would've taken it. But I'd like to do other things this year. Anyways, I think it's time for me to read The Renaissance Soul.

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Re: the animal's journal

Postby skintstudent » Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:03 pm

Truly inspiring journal. You are showing that life doesn't need to be lived on corporate cubicle terms. Well done. Some of the things you've done are well outside my comfort zone. I'm envious you've done them!

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theanimal
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Re: Year End Reflections

Postby theanimal » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:49 pm

2014

I was daydreaming the other day and came to realize how I had a great year!

I moved to Alaska. Made some great new friends and acquaintances and am part of a strong community. I love where I live.

I didn't work for about 4 months of the year. This time was spent with friends and family, reading books, hiking, a couple backpacking trips and a climbing trip.

My new job as a tour guide is good for the most part. It has allowed me the opportunity to strengthen my knowledge on related subjects and develop interpersonal skills. My application for and acceptance of a position as a wilderness therapy field guide was also a great development,

I spent lots of time outside. But not enough! A lot more packrafting this year and plenty of great hiking being on the doorstep of one of the largest remaining wildernesses. I also went on a climbing trip with my cousin earlier in the year and had a great time.

Skill acquisition was limited this year. I had a goal of learning bike maintenance that was sidelined. Another goal was to learn more about hunting, which I certainly did but did not have any practical skill building in this regard. This past summerI helped maintain a coworker garden, which helped to further the knowledge and practice I had in that subject. If I was to stay where I am now, I would maintain my own garden and hunt small game. Alas, that will not be the case. Knife and axe sharpening were also learned.

I read the most books I've ever read in one year. But not enough! There are a number of books that stand out in my mind as having the greatest impact (listed in no order).
Brave New World
This Ugly Civilization
Meditations
Survival +
Status Anxiety
Nunamuit:Among Alaska's Inland Eskimos
Sacred Economics
Overshoot
1984
It's Not All About Me

Health wise- I've done pretty good. I was fairly active this year and didn't let myself become sedentary after periods of low activity. I did a couple rounds of Insanity but other than that not much in terms of scheduled workouts. Eating habits are largely the same. My eating is good for where I am now but not great. Not many fruits and veggies make it up this way in the winter time.

Financially, I did pretty well. I spent right around $3,000 total. Most of that came from early in the year before I moved to Alaska (ironically). Too much excess spending though! Seriously! It could have easily been cut in half, but due to a lack of effort on some days it was inflated. This being my first full year out of school marked my greatest earning year to date. Although, it was much less than most on the forum, coupled with low expenses made for a good savings rate. Since moving to Alaska my savings rate is about 91%. For the year, it's right around 80% +/- 4%. Most of the savings went to paying off student loans. I've made great progress in this regard. I am very close to completely paying off my largest and highest interest bearing loan. The rest of my loans will probably be paid off at a slower rate since their interest rate is pretty low (3%). I'll likely appropriate half my savings this year to loans and half to build up assets.

Looking forward to the new year. There will be a post on that to follow sometime in the next few days.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby theanimal » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:50 pm

Skintstudent- Thanks, that means a lot. I appreciate you following along.

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AtticusFinch
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Re: the animal's journal

Postby AtticusFinch » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:51 pm

Great book list man, I've been thinking of rereading status anxiety one of these days. Brave New World, man what a piece of art.


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