m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Barlotti
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Barlotti » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:29 am

Ooh, those apps sound interesting...
Like so many others, I read your journal straight through. Wonderful read, and I look forward to reading more.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:39 am

@spoonman - In another Sandy, I'd stick around. But it could always get worse and having an option to get out would be good. Even for sticking around, I was missing a lot of supplies for the last one. Notably, no first aid kit and only one candle.

If something more serious than Sandy happened, or looked like it would happen, I'd probably try to head upstate.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:58 pm

August, 2014 - Finances & Job

I'll go through finances first. I don't think this was a great month for spending - however, I didn't record expenses. I think at this point, when a 1-day swing in the stock market can be 50% or 100% of a month's expenses, it's sorta superfluous. I'll probably start tracking again when I approach quitting time to make sure everything is on track to support my lifestyle, and then continue after I've quit.

I saw my net worth jump by $18k this month, basically two month's combined growth since last month was a sort of 'compression'. It's crazy to me, though. That's at least 6 months of living expenses, and more if I'm even the slightest bit careful.

My expected monthly income from dividends is now $1,054, $50 more than last month. Most of that comes from index funds, but I also purchased a large chunk of JNJ (I'd held off for years expecting it to drop, and the pullback last month was sufficient that I just said "enough already"). I believe I mentioned last month, I've increased my scheduled investments. Right now, I'm investing from a large pool of cash at a slightly unsustainable rate. But, I'll start vesting options in December, and then my present rate will be fully sustainable. Not to mention a large slug of options vesting immediately (1 year's worth). So, I might invest even more aggressively.

I saw a total of $764 in dividend income for the month; it's the 'mediocre' month of the 3-month dividend cycle, so that's pretty good. Next month will probably be about double that.

I also donated $1000 in Kiva. I might do a bit more. All this cash is basically sitting around in my bank account... if I'm gonna donate eventually, I might as well pull the trigger now and get some immediate use out of it.

Job

I had the usual wild swings of emotion this past month. I'm still far from engaged, and I've basically been doing tiny feature and bugfixes for 4-5 months now. That's starting to wear a bit. It also makes me feel less competent, because I've had difficulty building expertise in any one area of our product.

That said, the past week or so I've been a bit happier, doing multi-day chunks of work in an important area. I'm trying to use flash cards to remember more of what I learn; I feel like 'fluency' in Java is where I've been stagnating; I jumped in and learned on the job, so there's large chunks of missing knowledge that I need to fill in.

Other

My wanderlust has really kicked up a notch. I've done 2 small trips this year, to Boston and DC, which were fun, but besides that I haven't been out of NY since last October. The girlfriend and I are talking about Italy, and I'm in full-on planning mode. There's a lot to see (recommendations would be appreciated, of course). She might have limited time off from work, but I'll have two weeks. Right now, I'm looking at Venice, Siena, Rome, Florence, Naples, and Amalfi Coast/Cinque Terre. Plus maybe some time outside the cities. I'm also thinking about challenging myself to achieve basic fluency in Italian before leaving.

I'm also getting really good at ping-pong, playing basically every workday. I'd estimate that I'm about 50% better than I was the last time I played (in college). I enjoy playing regularly, as I can easily gauge when I'm stretching myself. I can play try different hits or play more aggressively, and try to just barely win (or play really crazy and accept losing).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by mxlr650 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:47 pm

m741 wrote:The girlfriend and I are talking about Italy, and I'm in full-on planning mode. There's a lot to see (recommendations would be appreciated, of course). She might have limited time off from work, but I'll have two weeks. Right now, I'm looking at Venice, Siena, Rome, Florence, Naples, and Amalfi Coast/Cinque Terre. Plus maybe some time outside the cities.
What are your interests? Historic sites, museums, and hiking? Stating the obvious, but paintings/statues get really boring, so I urge you to make a list of must-see in the museums so you can focus energy there.

Siena is slightly out of the way, and while it is beautiful, it would feel rushed if you are short on time. One option is to skip south (Naples, Amalfi) and add more northern parts such as Verona, Padua, and exit out of Milan. In Venice it helps if you can stay in some satellite islands (Zitelle) which are cheaper and quieter.
m741 wrote: I'm also thinking about challenging myself to achieve basic fluency in Italian before leaving.
If that gives you joy do it, but you can survive with English very well in Italy. As long as they see your wallet, they are very friendly unlike French :-)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:56 pm

m741 wrote: Right now, I'm looking at Venice, Siena, Rome, Florence, Naples, and Amalfi Coast/Cinque Terre. Plus maybe some time outside the cities. I'm also thinking about challenging myself to achieve basic fluency in Italian before leaving.
We went to Italy several years ago and loved it. Venice and Florence are both amazing -- be sure to visit the art museums in Florence. Rome has some impressive historical sites that are absolutely worth seeing, but still feels like a big city and isn't all that relaxing. I'd recommend ditching Naples and spending twice the amount of time you currently have planned in Cinque Terre. It was my favorite stop of all of them. Just hike the cities, grab some limoncello, and enjoy the views.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:03 pm

@mxlr650 - Of course, there are a few museums we'd like to see (mostly Florence/Rome, there's one archaeological museum in Naples). But I agree, museum (and cathedral) fatigue is a real issue I've experienced. So, biking the Appian way or hiking Cinque Terre sound attractive, not to mention spending a day in a smaller city sipping coffee. Other alternatives would really be appreciated; I've considered a day tour around Tuscany.

I'd like to experience the culture and see some walkable small towns. My interests skew towards history and getting a feel for everyday life; hiking or getting outdoors would also be excellent. Clubs, shopping (obviously) & food are of little to no interest to me (of course, I'd like to try the great Italian food, but it's not the main reason I'm making the trip). The only limitation is that I will not be renting a car (or moped).

We'd probably fly into and out of Milan, in November - so colder and quieter than the tourist season. Given that the entire trip would be in Italy, I'd like to get a feel for North & South Italy. But another option is to do Herculaneum/Pompei'i as a day trip from Rome. I've also considered Bolzano and South Tyrol.

Will look into Zitelle for Venice. I think we'll do just an overnight in Venice as I've heard it's very touristy, but I don't really know a good place to stay - just that I want to spend the night in the city, and not on the mainland.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by mxlr650 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:04 pm

If you want to see small town feel with little or no traffic, you should stay for an additional day in Venice and go island hopping to Murano, Burano, Torcello, Lido etc which surround Venice. There is hostel in Zitelle and it is 5 minutes ferry ride to Piazza San Marco which is kinda center of Venice. There are swarms of Sri Lankan trinket peddlers that dominate PSM, so kiss good bye to any notion of solitude, however still it is worth visiting Venice. You can also spend time in Siena and Cinque Terre. If you are ok not eating in restaurants, I recommend grocery stores – the food is very affordable/tasty – look for Despar or Carrefour.

Italian train departure platforms are not usually announced earlier than 30mins prior to departure, while Swiss trains have platforms assigned 2 years in advance. Validate the ticket before you get into the train.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by GandK » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:57 am

I love Venice! Especially how there are no cars there. It feels like stepping back in time. It can be kind of touristy, but if you shop for fresh food in the markets like the locals do and stay away from restaurants, you can largely escape that sort of thing.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by George the original one » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:19 am

Venice: when you get off the train, get into town a little ways and find a place to order a bottle of wine. Finish the wine rather quickly and then get lost on a walk (literally! do not open a map!), and finally find a quiet bench to take a nap. Wake up refreshed and NOW reach for the map to find your way back.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:40 pm

We did the Amalfi coast a couple of years ago (Positano, to be exact), it was fantastic. I too recommend skipping Naples itself, though the sites around Mt. Vesuvius are probably worth seeing.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:50 pm

Just a short mid-month update. I decided to go full steam ahead with Italian. I know that most everywhere I go, people will speak English to some degree. But that seems out of the spirit of travel.

I've been studying a bit over a week so far, averaging a bit over an hour a day. I'm happy with my progress thus far. I have two months to pick up some conversational fluency, which seems totally reasonable. I'll post with some more details soon.

Tickets to Italy dropped $200 this week, and I was able to pick up round-trip tickets for $500 each (for November)!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by thedayisbrave » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:04 am

m741,

I'd gone to a coffee shop last night intending to study for my Series 7 exam coming up later this year. Instead, I found myself reading through your whole journal from page 1 to page 17 on my study break (that lasted 2 hours). I blame you! But I wanted to comment (my first on the ERE forum) because I feel like some of your posts could have been written by me.

Though we are in different fields of work (I'm not an engineer by any means), I feel like we've gone through similar battles. I'm so sorry about your Mom. I know what it's like to feel that - almost guilt - over being so gung-ho about early retirement, yet knowing that you did not work for most of the money that will fuel that 'retirement'. That has been a huge struggle for me; it makes me feel like an impostor talking about ERE to others because of what I've already been given. My Dad was killed in a car accident when I was 6. My mom didn't tell me until I was 17 that I had money - she didn't want me or my brother growing up thinking we were rich (that was honestly probably one of the best things she could have done for me). After I found out, I didn't do anything with it for a long time - then I transferred it to an advisor while I was in school - then in grad school I decided I'd learned enough to jump in & that I couldn't learn any more until I handled my finances myself. It's been through this journey that I've learned how to be an 'asset manager' and ultimately how I ended up finding these forums.

Over the last few years, I've traveled a LOT, gotten my Master's degree, started a small business to invest in real estate, hosted private concerts, etc. Some days I feel extremely accomplished, yet other days I feel this overwhelming guilt because my friends struggling with student loans look at me like I have 3 heads when they ask me about the loan website and I have no idea what they're talking about.

I don't live like I have money. I drive a $15K car. I don't chase brands and I hate shopping. Based on my spending levels right now I could never have a real job in my life and be OK financially. But I didn't choose that path - not yet - I have to at least prove myself, you know? Plus, I enjoy working. I got a job in corporate America because I want to see what it's like.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how inspiring reading your story was to me. I'm glad you've found companionship and have someone to travel the world with :) I'm younger than you so I'm not quite there yet but hope to be soon. Italy is amazing - and so is Italian. There's a language learning app called Duolingo that might help - its very fun/addicting and makes it feel like a game. There's also a language learning site called LiveMocha (www.livemocha.com) through which you can chat to native speakers!

I wish you all the best, and I'll be reading :)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by jacob » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:48 am

@m741 - In the name of efficiency, have you checked what Italians think of tourists' attempt at speaking Italian? For example, the French and Germans will much appreciate any attempt. The Swiss and the Danes, not so much.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by llorona » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:47 pm

Italians tend to be very tolerant and patient of people mangling their language. If their English is better than your Italian, they will address you in English to make you more comfortable. If they don't speak English, they will listen carefully to your Italian and try to help, while somehow managing to keep a straight face.

Attempting to speak Italian is a good lesson in humility. Stupid things we have said include:

"Ho le labbre"...("I have lips," when attempting to buy Chapstick for dry lips.)

"Non parli Italian"...("You don't speak Italian," said to a group of angry protesters who were blocking a church entrance.)

"Le zanzare mangiamo"...("We eat mosquitoes," I told a pharmacist when seeking the equivalent of Benadryl for mosquito bites.)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:00 pm

m741 wrote: Tickets to Italy dropped $200 this week, and I was able to pick up round-trip tickets for $500 each (for November)!
You lucky dog! A couple of years ago we had to pay something like $1200/person for an October trip. But, the weather was perfect.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:17 pm

First, thanks for the responses. My last update was kinda brief, so I'll flesh things out a bit. I'm journalling my language learning (go figure) on this site.

I guess I was a little conservative with my estimate yesterday, I think I've probably spent about 15-20 hours on Italian so far. The bulk with DuoLingo (level 8 right now) and Pimsleur (8 lessons in). I'm switching away from Pimsleur to Assimil (5 lessons in), which seems more practical and expansive for understanding spoken speech, which is my biggest weakness. I also signed up for a local NYC Italian course (expensive...), but I'm happy to get some teaching time. I found one 'pen-pal' in Milan to write to (and may try skyping), and will soon be looking for local meetups or for online conversation partners (italki has been recommended).

@spoonman - I think November weather in Italy is probably pretty bad. But personally I prefer less crowds.

@llorona - I can totally see myself making those mistakes - particularly while flustered.

@jacob - I've heard a few dismissive attempts, but most reports online say that Italians like when you try to speak their language. And, I've heard that it's the major country with a notably small amount of English speakers (though still probably a majority).

@thedayisbrave - Wow! Thanks! And sorry to take up your study time... also, welcome to the forum and I hope you keep contributing (and journalling, I think this strange 'post-FI/still working' zone is really interesting).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:40 pm

September, 2014

I'll start with finances, which were pretty dormant. The market slumped, and I made some large purchases this month (more on this later). Together, I basically maintained net worth. Disappointing, as I'm used to the little dopamine rush as I tally results at the end of the month, but oh well.

I sold off TIP, which was not a good purchase (I came out slightly ahead over the 2-3 years I'd held it; it was yielding just 1-1.5%). I replaced it with AFL. I also bought small bits of Vanguard ETFs (VGLT, VPU, BLV) and a slug of GLD, which recently hit lows.

My monthly income is up to 1081/month, about $30 over August. I need to invest more and will be making some more purchases this month (might as well, given the slump). Dividend income was $1567 - this is the high month of the 3-month cycle, and it's exciting to see such a large number. If this trend continues (and I have a bias towards this month, since all the vanguard mutual funds pay March / June / September / December), then I may see a $2k month by the end of the year.

Other

This month (as you may see in entries above), I was really focused on studying Italian. It consumed all my free time, perhaps dangerously so. But, I like being obsessed with something. It's fun to be passionate about something (even if there are days when that passion dips). I'll write extensively about my study methods in a month.

I spend $500 on an Italian course. It's been good; but in retrospect it's not worth it compared to other paid online options. On the other hand, it does keep me motivated to learn. And I kinda like being back in a classroom. I also dished out for plane tickets for our trip to Italy (which were cheap for plane tickets). I'll get "paid back" as we book AirBnB or hotel rooms.

This past weekend, the girlfriend and I went skydiving. It was really a thrill, lots of fun. In a way, much less nerve-wracking than I anticipated, since it felt like it happened really fast. I'm so glad I did it, it was definitely on my "bucket list". Would I do it again? Maybe, but I didn't think it was worth the $200 I paid for a tandem jump. I think it would be a lot more fun alone, but don't want to shell out the cash to get certified or anything.

I also signed up for Zipcar. I don't like driving in the city, so it's not something I look forward to using. But it was the cheapest way to get to the skydiving place (compared to train+taxi), and I do feel like I've got more freedom than I used to have. So that's nice.

Work

I've been feeling pretty exhausted at work the past few weeks. I think it's because I'm pushing myself so hard on Italian. Still, nobody is complaining, and I'm still doing reasonable work. I don't feel passionate about it, and I don't know what the future holds for me, but I'm also not miserable. I'm looking forward to extended time off in a few years (only two years more work is the plan right now).

I might write more about this in a week or two. Suffice it to say - it's not clear to me that continuing at this large company is the most efficient way to learn something new, compared to study on my own. Not that I necessarily even want to continue to program in the future, but a large reason that I wanted to keep working in tech was to develop expertise.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:12 pm

m741 wrote:September, 2014
But, I like being obsessed with something. It's fun to be passionate about something (even if there are days when that passion dips).
That's how I roll too.

Congrats on the awesome income/dividend numbers you are getting!

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:07 am

Time for a small mid-month update. I've been making some moderate financial moves that I thought might be worth tracking.

* Bought $3k SDRL. Small position because it may be a falling knife, but it doesn't seem like there's fundamental problems with the company, and the yield is so juicy (with a surprisingly low payout ratio).
* I put some money into the newly announced SolarCity bond program. Reasonable returns (4% for 5-year bonds), and I want to (A) get into solar and (B) do some more ethical investing. I like Elon Musk's companies, and this seems to be the least flashy.
* I signed up for and received a Chase MileagePlus Explorer card. I'd been avoiding credit cards on principle, but that's silly. The rewards are so good (I can travel roundtrip to Seattle for free with this if I spend $1k in 3 months, hardly a challenge), and I can just cancel after a year when there's an annual fee. Paying charges is no problem for me.
* I'd had $1500 sitting around in Lending Club doing absolutely nothing (alongside ~$1500 invested), so I've invested all of it. Living in NJ, I can't fund loans straight out, and have to trade them using Lending Clubs' "FolioFn" marketplace. I do ~$100 per loan to reduce risk.
* I'm finally seeing the stack of cash I had in Vanguard's money market funds drop with my regular investments, so I've transferred a slug out of the bank account into Vanguard.
* A huge slice of stock will vest in November after 1 year at the current company, which I'll try to invest very aggressively. After that, my monthly income will be up too, so I can bump my regular investment schedule.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:32 am

* I signed up for and received a Chase MileagePlus Explorer card.
This one worked well for me. I flew to Denver for free and got upgraded to first class on a different flight. It was easy to cancel it later. I didn't spend enough for the card to be worth the $75 per year fee beyond using the free miles you get when you sign up.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Legthorn Brownboat » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:38 pm

Hello m741, I shotgunned your entire journal these last couple days after seeing your posts on spoonman's. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your journey. Something I'm unclear on is why are you so committed to 3 years at your current company? Is this just so that it will look good on a resume if you later decide to work for a small company? I think that 2 would be sufficient if that's your only goal, as you seem like the kind of guy who would savor an extra year of your life.

A few companies (especially one who I will refer to as "G", which is my current guess for you) have a reputation for hiring relatively junior developers and giving them **** jobs (with little legitimate room for advancement). Even for many senior newhire guys, they give them boring work. Their attitude is, "Hey, we're the big G, you have arrived. Working here is the greatest privilege/flattery, no matter how menial the actual work itself is". This also fits their hiring/interview model, as you were likely not hired by a specific team, just the company as a whole. That means you entered some global candidate pool and a team that needed more entry-level grunts picked you up.

I hope this isn't what happened to you. If it is, my only advice is to get out of your role at 2 years. In the meantime seek ways to develop yourself independently, even during work hours. It's actually a bit of a pain for a team to get rid of someone at these big companies, and you seem to be doing adequately with your 60% engagement. Rather than spend your work hours 60% engaged, could you interleave being engaged at required work, and independently developing yourself in other areas?

Maybe write a Python program to automate or assist something you currently do (annoying code reviews perhaps), then let that balloon into a side project for you. You can learn a new language, tools, etc while having tangential justification to do it during work. Who knows, it might be a useful tool for others too! What, your tool is now handling lots of tasks? Sounds like it needs its own tiny little domain-specific language! You now need to write a little parser for your language. Oh, now it'd be nice if it ran really fast, so maybe you should write a little toy compiler for it to low-level code (or assembly). It outputs charts, but what it really should be doing is rendering those charts with webgl to better visualize the data in 3D. You could even be sneaky and list it on your resume after you leave; it's something you did at G, for G, even if it wasn't an official requirement or ask. Places don't tend to contact your old managers during hiring anyways. Not saying you should ever lie, of course, lying is a *really* bad idea, but this can be legitimate work. Sounds better than "I fixed bugs and changed variable names a lot".

G has a large amount of transparency internally, and you can probably seek a transfer after a year or two, if you even want to stick with that company. While the global-candidate pool applies (and sucks for) new hires, internal transfers can be targeted by you for specific teams you like. Form personal connections with anyone you can on interesting teams to facilitate that.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:09 pm

@Legthorn: thanks for the reply, I really appreciate the comment. You are right about my general situation, and how I was hired. I'll cover that, before answering your question.

I think your advice is quite reasonable. It's something I've considered myself, though I approached it as "teach myself something interesting while waiting for builds to finish," something that left me feeling guilty since I was devoting myself to personal things on company time. Your approach makes more sense, and I'll have to explore it.

---

I guess the 3-year thing is a little bit strange, so it's a good question and I'll answer at length. It came up a bit at the NYC meetup recently, and I felt then that my explanation probably wasn't clear, and that maybe I wasn't being clear with myself.

The 3-year commitment was originally something I decided before I started at the company; my plan was simply to spend 3 years developing my skills (through work), so that I'd feel comfortable working on involved projects (possibly at scale), on my own (ie, as a one-man niche startup), for a small company, or for a charity. My feeling was that, having languished with a proprietary language for 5 years, a 3-year effort would be enough to get me comfortable and skilled with another language.

Furthermore there were some non-job related factors that went into this decision: establishing a more comfortable SWR (somewhere around 3% or 2.5%), in case I wanted to switch industries; some time to establish a groove and settle down after a stressful time - and to see more of NYC; and because after 3 more years, and 8 years total, it seemed like a reasonable time for me to pick and take time off (ie, I'd be at the right point in my life for me to want to explore the world and then find somewhere to settle down more permanently). Finally, of course, was the resume issue - if I wanted to switch somewhere else, I thought that the two places I worked would establish a great resume.

At least - that's the way I recollect feeling a year ago.

---

Revisiting these concerns now, the SWR one is something that still seems semi-valid. If I invested 100% of my money (something which I don't want to do), and live my current lifestyle, I'd have a SWR of %2.85. Probably sustainable... but looking 15 years into the future, who knows what kind of money I'll make, or what kind of job I'll have, if I need to return to work? As such, quitting when I have such high income seems imprudent. With just two more years, I could be able to drive SWR below 2%, which seems sustainable forever.

Likewise, the question of "where in my life am I," is something where two more years still seems reasonable. I'll be 28 then, midway to 29. I ought to be able to travel without having a family, and at the same time, I'll have put in 8 years working as a programmer, enough to maybe feel like I've accomplished something if I change careers. I'll have spent significant time at two very different large companies, enough to know whether I want to work at another large company (signs point to "no"). A year in, although I've got definite opinions about things, I feel like maybe I don't have a clear picture of things.

On the other hand: my hope of learning something efficiently is rapidly dwindling. What's become clear to me is that the only way I'll really learn something is if I try it myself. I mean, for me to learn in any systematic way where I have some hope of retaining what I've learned. Of course, working in an industry-standard language on a day-to-day basis is fine, but I'm not confronting problems which will expand my knowledge substantially. Mostly, I'm becoming familiar with ugly bugs displayed by various older versions of Android. On the design front, I *may* have an opportunity to learn things and put ideas into practice soon (a few months will prove yes or no). So far, on a day-to-day coding basis, the reliance on code reviews has undercut the way I think about code, and I don't consider myself a better developer these days than when I started a year ago.

I get the impression that I'd learn a lot more rapidly on my own, but it's difficult for me to say because I can't isolate one of the major variables here, which is that I haven't done significant work on my own (in college, some, and high school). I attribute this to exhaustion from my day job, but what if it's simply lack of personal desire? I'd need to take enough time to completely refresh, and then some time to do work. The time to refresh would probably be 1.5-2 months (based on my trip last year). The time to establish whether I'd learn something would be at least 1 month. These are not things I can really discover with a job. Of course, I can attempt to learn on my own, after work, and I've met with limited success here, but I've never had the energy to sustain things.

I have an intuition about this, which is that I'd be a ton more productive on my own. But then, I had an intuition that I'd learn more when leaving my previous employer, which proved wrong at my current employer. So, I'm cautious about this.

Likewise, the resume issue is something that I'm increasingly recognizing is foolish (even more than the hope of learning new things). As someone who's done a little bit of interviewing, and who's talked with several colleagues about it in the past, I recognize that resumes are of the slightest value in interviewing candidates, and that I shouldn't overvalue the difference between 1 and 3 years at a given company.

---

Where does all that leave me? 3 years now feels arbitrary, and I'm not particularly happy with work on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, there are still some good, objective reasons to work for an additional 2 years. I'll need to think further, but right now the best course of action seems to be: wait 3-4 months for current promised things to resolve, and see how I feel. Then, to explore switching teams (something that's a possibility), or make plans to cut short my employment and start to travel earlier. In the meantime, teach myself in my spare time.

---

I think it's a bit late, and I've done a bit too much navel-gazing tonight. I'd like explore something at similar length when I have time, in a separate post: what I find engaging at work. Like the 3-year thing, it's something that's come up a bit, both when talking with others, and in internal dialogs :), so it's probably worth writing something out.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:29 pm

October, 2014

Finance
Doing this a day early, as I'll be busy this weekend. I'll start with finances. As I alluded to earlier this month, it's been pretty productive. Of course, the good returns in the market have helped boost things, too. To summarize, I bought some SDRL, KMB, and GIS (in addition to the normal fund buys). I also bought $2k of SolarCity bonds, got a rewards credit card, finally got around to investing the cash I had sitting in lending club, and moved some more cash out of my checking account.

This month's dividends were anemic (this is my down month in the cycle), measuring $600; I also got $30 from Lending Club. Still, that's up 12% from 3 months ago. I saw some really great increases in averages due to my aggressive purchases. First, purely from dividend increases, I saw my expected monthly dividend rise $16, or 1.4%. Second, from purchases and re-investment, I saw my expected monthly dividend rise by a whopping $97. $43 of that comes from SDRL, which currently sports a ridiculous 17% dividend. I don't intend to invest any more in SDRL, but it's some nice juice to the portfolio. Overall, I saw my expected monthly dividends rise by 10.4%, or $113, compared to September, which is just huge.

Job
As you can tell from recent posts, I've got mixed feelings about the job. I'll see how things change over the next few months, as I get a chance to demonstrate more responsibility. I'm really excited for that, but the timing isn't great with my vacation. Oh well. It'll still be better than haphazardly getting assigned to random projects and bugfixes, which I've suffered through for a while now. Will report back.

Other
The big focus for me this month (maybe the sole focus...) has been my Italian studies. I suffered from a lag and lack of focus in the middle of the month, but finished strong this past week. I've found that two methods of study really stand out: DuoLingo, which gives me some vocabulary and is a great grammar trainer; and iTalki, which allows me to schedule language lessons via Skype with Italians. The cost for this is pretty low: I have 3 teachers, all pretty good (though only one I think really thinks about the teaching in a formal way). The most expensive is $8 an hour, the least expensive (and most professional) is $4 an hour. Those prices are ridiculous. I guess the poor economy in Southern Europe is helping me :). I study with this method for 3 hours per week, mostly talking in Italian or reading and interpreting easy text pieces. It's easily 5x more time-efficient than taking formal classes, and 10x more economical.

Besides that, mostly I've been planning for my trip, going to various movie showings with the gf, lounging around. I don't have much spare time, and there's a lot of projects I want to try! I'll free up in December, as my Italian course will be over and I won't be doing any travel planning.

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:31 am

KMB is a solid company, I'm glad that you're putting money there. I remember the days when it was yielding around 4% and there were serious doubts about the company's ability to compete with the other big dividend dogs. But now Wall Street is going gaga over it...I love it when that happens, it shows that companies such as KMB can recover and keep on trucking.

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Legthorn Brownboat
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Legthorn Brownboat » Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:42 pm

I have thought way less about this than you have. Please pardon my comments if they seem a bit rude or over-the-top, they're supposed to be friendly and comical. Here's my 2 cents.
m741 wrote: Revisiting these concerns now, the SWR one is something that still seems semi-valid. If I invested 100% of my money (something which I don't want to do), and live my current lifestyle, I'd have a SWR of %2.85. Probably sustainable... but looking 15 years into the future, who knows what kind of money I'll make, or what kind of job I'll have, if I need to return to work? As such, quitting when I have such high income seems imprudent. With just two more years, I could be able to drive SWR below 2%, which seems sustainable forever.
Wait, you're sub-3% SWR and still worried? You're not talking about taking a 60 year vacation, but you seem interested in starting work back up again after a break. Sub-3% seems like it is probably (though not definitely) enough to fund you indefinitely. If you're even entertaining the thought of working again in the future then I would think you're golden.

You mentioned not investing all of your money. Cash is a form of investment, and a hedge against short-term radical changes and deflation. Include it as an aspect of your portfolio, and rebalance to what you truly believe in. That may have substantial cash, sure, but be aware.
m741 wrote: What's become clear to me is that the only way I'll really learn something is if I try it myself.
Definitely, though also understand that you're currently in a semi-toxic environment that's not conducive to an individual learning and excelling on their own. At a good small company, or the right team at a big company, you're expected and propelled into growing.

You seem to be stuck with on the $#!7 team. Every company and division have them: they're the glorified QA engineers who work-around the inevitable mess of legacy issues. Thank God for them, by the way, because without them it would suck. However as important the role may be, I would never want to be in it. Growth is gradual and most work lacks real learning and development.
m741 wrote: I mean, for me to learn in any systematic way where I have some hope of retaining what I've learned. Of course, working in an industry-standard language on a day-to-day basis is fine, but I'm not confronting problems which will expand my knowledge substantially. Mostly, I'm becoming familiar with ugly bugs displayed by various older versions of Android. On the design front, I *may* have an opportunity to learn things and put ideas into practice soon (a few months will prove yes or no). So far, on a day-to-day coding basis, the reliance on code reviews has undercut the way I think about code, and I don't consider myself a better developer these days than when I started a year ago.
I don't mean to take a dump on the role. I've known many to conquer it and rise beyond. It's just a long hard road and I've seen many a disillusioned corpse along it.

When in a toxic environment, I see 4 paths:
1) Give up. Take up drinking and/or drugs to make it through.
2) Rise past it. Focus primarily on staying productive, staying learning, and mostly be selfish about your growth. Screw what peers and management thinks.
3) Change the environment. It happens, but most end up falling into #1
4) Leave

Personally, I'd only do #2 or #4. When I was more junior, I would shy towards #2. In my current role I'm more senior and have a lot of autonomy, so I tend towards #4.
m741 wrote: I get the impression that I'd learn a lot more rapidly on my own, but it's difficult for me to say because I can't isolate one of the major variables here, which is that I haven't done significant work on my own (in college, some, and high school). I attribute this to exhaustion from my day job, but what if it's simply lack of personal desire? I'd need to take enough time to completely refresh, and then some time to do work. The time to refresh would probably be 1.5-2 months (based on my trip last year). The time to establish whether I'd learn something would be at least 1 month. These are not things I can really discover with a job. Of course, I can attempt to learn on my own, after work, and I've met with limited success here, but I've never had the energy to sustain things.
I have no personal experience in this area and I grapple with the same concerns. However, my reading seems to indicate that people who take the red pill end up with way more energy and motivation than they previously imagined.
m741 wrote: Where does all that leave me? 3 years now feels arbitrary, and I'm not particularly happy with work on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, there are still some good, objective reasons to work for an additional 2 years. I'll need to think further, but right now the best course of action seems to be: wait 3-4 months for current promised things to resolve, and see how I feel. Then, to explore switching teams (something that's a possibility), or make plans to cut short my employment and start to travel earlier. In the meantime, teach myself in my spare time.
I’m going to throw out some advice that I am incapable of following myself. Can you just not give a #@!7? Research the termination policy for your job and state law, but many companies and states require a formal process, including a lengthy process by which you can redeem yourself and try to transfer within the company. If that’s the case, then you have a time horizon you can leave without being terminated, and you’ll /know/. I don’t mean being a total jerk, but you can scale back pretty hard at times. It could be a year or longer before you’d be let-go, which happens to align with your schedule anyways. Also, it's all a pain for management anyways, so many procrastinate the process.

In the mean time, dive into a personal project at work. I had mentioned something vaguely work-related so you’re not being a total jerk, and I still think that’s the way to go. You had mentioned Haskell previously. Why not write a test harness driver in Haskell, you know, for your testing? Sure, it’s impractical, but wave your hands and spout off functional programming propaganda about type safety, verification, etc. It’s all BS, but whatever.

So anyways, you’re writing this driver, and you need to interface with the system. Write a Shell monad for the interaction. A monad is the perfect design pattern here and it’s not hard. Start off by using a monad transformer with the IO and/or State monads (or, IOState monad). Then, realize that you could just drink the koolaide and write IO and State monads yourself. Before long you’re off the deep-end and debating whether applicative functors or arrows represent what you’re trying to do. None of this is actually practical but good mental “stimulation", oh baby! Anyways, at any point in time you can choose to actually accomplish stuff and end up with a decent test harness.

You could be half living the dream all while getting the same pay, which is way more than you’re spending. Now, you won’t please and exceed your management’s desires and visions. You’ll lose external validation as people will think you just kinda suck at things, but you’re building your own internal validation.

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