m741's ERE Journal

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

Post by DutchGirl » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:43 pm

I've seen my boyfriend, a programmer, go through cycles of boredom and enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm is really there. So, I'm wondering whether software engineering is a good fit for you? The fact that you're smart and educated enough to do it, doesn't mean that you have to do it. Or maybe you're in the wrong part of software engineering for you (I have understood that there are many different subfields). Or maybe software engineering is wonderful, but the goal you're trying to reach at your current job is not worthwhile to you? (Kind of like how I used to like studying DNA and genetics, but only if it was to work on real diseases, not to study the heritability of hammertoes - sorry, hammertoe-sufferers).

Good luck :)

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:00 am

Time for a mid-month update!

About a month back I bought a tea strainer, and a small container of looseleaf tea. I drink tea now ~3-4 times per week, and that's trending up. I discovered that I liked tea more than I thought when I tried a delicious fancy Rishi green tea (bagged), so the cheap strainer seemed worth it to try nicer tea. This tea is good enough that I don't need to sweeten it... I've tried loose ginger/turmeric herbal tea and Pu-Erh tea, both of which I really enjoyed, and have a big bag of gunpowder green tea sitting on my counter waiting for me. I'm now fully stocked up for a while.

Since April I've been growing houseplants... I didn't have houseplants since moving out to college. I always enjoyed gardening as a kid (except for digging around tree roots outside), and the plants, which are pretty forgiving, have done well. Currently I have:
* A parlor palm, doing well
* A peace lily, doing not-so-well (unclear if underwatered or if it has root rot)
* A large container of rosemary
* Two snake plants that don't appear to have grown at all, one may be struggling
* One lush oxalis and one very sparse oxalis
* One beautiful pothos that keeps sending out vines which I trim and propagate (now have 3 additional pothos)
* An oregano plant, which I'm nursing back to health
* A mint plant, sitting outside, which got attacked by aphids
* One immense, stringy purple basil
* Two stringy sweet basil, which I just chopped down to try to propagate and make bushier this time
* A spider plant that I bought two weeks ago at Home Depot, suffering and heavily root bound, that I just split into three pots.

I lost:
* One oregano, and one mint plant, unwatered for a week on vacation
* Two chili plants, completely infested with aphids
Winter is coming and most of these plants sit near poorly-insulated single pane glass windows, in some cases right next to them in homemade shoebox planters strung up from curtain rods. When I have some access to power tools soon, I'm planning on building a standalone planter wall with LEDs that I can sit further from windows. I did a bunch of research and grow lights are pretty amazing (thanks to the pot industry). I'm excited to build it and will report back in December.

I have also been going to the gym. Very quick visits, I run for 15 minutes and do a few weight machines. Nothing fancy, just trying to stay active and build a little muscle. I'm trying out a ketogenic diet as well, flirting with it last week and trying it more fully this week.

I've officially signed up for high-deductible health insurance with an HSA, reputed to be the best retirement vehicle out there. My insurance changes in 2016, so I'm loading up on Doctor's visits to round out the year. I went to a physical therapist about my back, which has been bothering me off and on for six years. They took x-rays and I finally got a chance to look at things: one disc is compressed a bit funny (L5, extreme lower back), and my spine tilts to the side, apparently due to favoring the one side for all these years. So far the sessions haven't helped that much, they've mostly been loosening things up. We're starting to get to exercises, so I'm excited to see how those turn out. Since my back only feels a little sore after a long day sitting, my intent was mostly to start preventative care. I may try to have bloodwork done... any suggestions on how to simply go to a doctor and get a big screening with no specific problem in mind?

I started playing ping-pong again at work. A tournament just started and I was practicing... I just won my first match in the tourney and feel pretty confident in my chances (intermediate bracket).

For a week and a half in December/January the girlfriend and I are going to England and Scotland. We've booked up all our AirBnBs, bought all our flights and the big train tickets. I'm excited to see another country at Christmas, we're going to a big New Year's party, and I'm starting to ramp up my research. The itinerary is 2 days in London, 2 days in York, 2 days in Newcastle/Durham, 3 days in Edinburgh (possible day trip to Glasgow or elsewhere), train ride back to London, and then one more day in London. Suggestions welcome.

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cmonkey
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by cmonkey » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:15 am

Sounds like you need a greenhouse ;) That's a nice list of plants.

I know we do, half of our kitchen is covered in potted up plants. Only place where the cats can't get them!

Have fun in the UK, that is the DWs dream vacation right there.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by JasonR » Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:25 am

If you can make room for the Lake District, I recommend it.
You can do a handful of fells in a day.
Some of the best hikes I've ever done.

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Ego
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Ego » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:39 am

FWIW, I had success with Sarno's book Healing Back Pain.

http://www.worldcat.org/title/healing-b ... c/60190198

Here he is on 20/20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsR4wydiIBI

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:58 am

m741 wrote:I may try to have bloodwork done... any suggestions on how to simply go to a doctor and get a big screening with no specific problem in mind?
I get these done during an annual preventative care checkup. Your 2016 HSA should cover the visit for free, along with the basic bloodwork (cholesterol, etc). Of course your current-year plan may cover more tests.

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:15 am

I'm looking forward to hearing about your experience in the UK. We hope to spend some time there in the near future, so I'll be taking notes.

Btw, I think it's a great idea that you started an HSA. You should max that puppy out as much as you can before retiring.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:59 am

As for the blood works ... you're pretty young still, so probably everything's okay anyway. I would perhaps get a complete blood count, cholesterol/fats, glucose, thyroid, kidney and liver function, vitamin D, and perhaps PSA (for a baseline measurement); and that's about it. Blood pressure of course, too, but that's not a blood measurement. If you're healthy, and nothing has been bothering you lately (except for your back), then checking blood values is a bit like checking for errors in a computer program that does everything that you want it to do and is humming along nicely. Most often, you'll find nothing. Sometimes you'll find things that are out of the ordinary, but still mean nothing; but then, because they're out of the ordinary, you have to investigate like mad (at least in medicine), and the end result is probably nothing, still.

So I guess if you have these checked and everything's okay, I would stop worrying about it for a few years (or until you start developing symptoms). Maybe your doc has more recommendations, some can also be added if certain problems run in the family or if you have other specific needs, like if you eat a vegetarian diet, you might also want to check iron and vitamin B12 levels. So go check with the doc :-)

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:00 pm

November, 2015
So, a delayed November-early December update.

What happened?
Huh. Not much that I can remember. A little bit of local travel and a bunch of parties/events.

Job
I'm really unmotivated at work. Lots of mental struggles. I know I'm not doing a great job, and the team I'm on isn't that talkative or supportive. I'm naturally pessimistic so it's tough for me to handle that without reasonable feedback. Formal team feedback was actually positive, so I don't know what to think.

There's some great opportunities, so after the holiday break I think I need to step back, take a deep breath, and really think about things in a new mindset. I was super-distracted by hopping between two projects, and one I think I can put aside (fingers crossed), leaving all my energy dedicated to a single things that's pretty cool. Actually putting it like that and thinking about things makes me want to work on it right now. Leaving aside the fact that the team has no long-term direction, I'd be psyched to devote all my time to a single cool project.

We got compensation and bonus numbers this past week (which I was kinda dreading), and they were positive. I still can't believe how much I'm paid as a software engineer.

Finances

November was a great month for me financially (I expect January to be really great as well). I'll do a big review in my next update, but suffice it to say that I increased my net worth by 10% this year.

What am I doing and thinking?

More plant stuff, really hoping to start doing work with electronics. I have a trip to England coming up in a week (!)

I've been considering the importance of mindset, enthusiasm, nootropics, and thought pattern hygiene recently. Consider this: school teaches you math, sports make you stronger, faster, more flexible. Extracurriculars and sports teach you leadership and cooperation. But you're never taught better ways to think, how to reason from point A to B, common pitfalls, etc. So I've started collecting and reading resources teaching exactly this. More on this later if I don't get distracted :).

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Thu Dec 17, 2015 6:16 am

Have fun in England! Let me know how you find prices there (a beer, a coffee, that sort of thing).

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:53 am

Big 2015 Year In Review

This post recaps 2015 from a financial perspective, since my recent posts mostly skim that stuff.

Here's the highlight:

Image
* Theoretical Net Income is the amount my total net worth would earn monthly, including tax-advantaged retirement accounts, calculated at 3% returns
* Theoretical ERE Income is the amount non-tax-advantaged retirement accounts would be earning (basically, the amount I can easily access before ~60 y/o), calculated at 3% returns
* Expenses are just that - recently the value of tracking expenses hasn't been worthwhile to me, so I've just re-used the same value. It's still roughly accurate.
* Average Estimated Dividend Income takes each of my holdings, multiplies by dividend yield, and then divides by 12 for monthly expectations. It doesn't include bonds or lending club just yet.
* Actual Dividend Income is raw income from dividends/bonds/lending club

The big jump in the middle of the graph is the inheritance I received when my mother passed away.

Things to note in the chart: my increase in investments is obvious as the grey line curves in the middle of the chart. It's also obvious that my focus shifts from savings (while tracking expenses) to dividends (while trying to move this line up). I still have a pretty large cash cushion and continue with regular investments, so the grey line should continue to trend upward towards the orange line. That said, I've recently started to move away from dividend/bond income to growth stocks, which offer tax advantages for now.

What is my asset distribution?
* 28% invested in individual stocks, about 5% of which is in a money market fund as petty cash and 8% of which is in gold. Maybe 15% is in ETFs
* 26% invested in mutual funds, 35% in dividend appreciation funds, 35% in total world funds, and the remainder in growth funds
* 20% in an inherited IRA (market fund - considering moving this around)
* 13.2% in my 401k, with 75% of that in a 2055 target fund, 15% in a market fund, and 10% in REITs
* 5.8% in a checking account (being drained through regular investment)
* 3% in an estate (inherited) checking account
* 1% in SolarCity bonds
* .8% in an IRA
* .65% invested in Lending Club
* .4% in a 529 college savings plan
* Assorted travel funds and vested stock left out for clarity

Compare this with 2 years ago, when I started my current job, when 40% was in individual stocks, 18% was in checking, 2% was in mutual funds and 22% was in inherited accounts. Since starting my current job, net worth has increased by almost exactly one third.

Financial highlights this year included setting up a 529 plan (I already have one use in mind), setting up an IRA, starting investing in companies that are better for the world (solar city), dumping a bunch of funds into Kiva (not shown here, intended as a sort of extended investment trust), and expanding nonprofit donations.

Goals for 2016 are to continue investments (to reduce cash usage), and investigate asset allocation across all accounts, tax-advantaged and not, on a more systematic basis, and to continue to invest in more worthwhile causes.

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:53 pm

That's a beautiful graph!

Btw, I love the phrase "petty cash" =).

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:24 am

December, 2015

What Happened?

The usual holiday festivities (office parties, etc). I like the holiday season because a lot of people are out of work. It feels calmer and quieter (though I'm not necessarily more productive...).

For Christmas and NYE I went to Britain with the girlfriend. We visited London, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Durham and Edinburgh. I enjoyed my stay, but found this was my least favorite trip to Europe overall. This was due to a combination of factors:

- Everything was closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and most things were closed New Year's Day. So it was tough to find pubs, restaurants, or even grocery stores. I actually think this is a great policy for those who live in a country, it's nice for the workers. But it sucks if you're traveling and don't have a kitchen.
- It rained every day, and there was heavy flooding that led to train delays and cancellations.
- Basically no trains were running at all on 12/26! We had to shuffle our trip around because of this and added in Manchester as an unexpected stop.
- Britain felt less exotic than other countries, like a halfway house between Europe and the US.

On the other hand, I was impressed with a lot as well. People were very friendly and courteous, much more so than the US in my opinion. For example, I found bartenders a lot friendlier. I love the pub atmosphere (hate bars in NYC) - pubs are great to talk to people in a relaxing setting. Museums were good, especially in London. And the cities themselves were pretty walkable and didn't feel over-touristy (York a little, but in no way like Bruges and Venice, which are the best comparisons I have).

With respect to prices: hotels and lodging seemed comparable to the US. Bars were cheaper (3 pounds was normal for a beer, with any leftover change as a tip, so typically about $5 for a good beer, with tip... $8 with tip is typical in NYC. Coffee was about the same as the US, usually 1 pound. It felt like groceries, particularly prepared groceries, were cheaper than the US. For example, a pretty large yogurt was 1 pound, an egg salad sandwich was 60 pence, a bag of snack cheese wheels was 2 pounds. Restaurants were the same as the US, but with a smaller tip. Museums that weren't free (most museums in London are free) felt pricey. Most cathedrals charged an entrance fee, sometimes quite steep (Westminster Abbey = 16 pounds!)

City rankings, from best to worst: London (huge, walkable, historic), Newcastle (nice, artsy, relatively unknown), Edinburgh (great buildings, Scottish scenery), York (medieval town that hasn't devolved into a theme park), Manchester (nice urban renewal in the center, but kinda trashy), Durham (cute, but too small and touristy. Amazing cathedral, though).

Job

Nothing new to report. I don't particularly like my team, but there's the opportunity for interesting work. I find it tough to focus or get much done.

I felt like I was doing poor work, but I got good reviews, a raise, and a bigger bonus than last year. Plus unvested stock continues to accumulate, so that's all good.

Finances
With the market slipping I saw a reduction in net worth. It's still frustrating to see, but not much I can do about it. I've not been doing a ton of investing, just my regular purchases (about $3k per week). That's a lot, but I've still got some buffer with the bonus and other money coming in.

I don't have any big changes planned here, just more of the same. When I have time I should balance my portfolio.

What next?
I found a cheap flight to Istanbul in February for the President's day week, so cheap flight + less time off = vacation. I'm both really excited (most foreign culture I'll have seen), and really nervous (about the situation in Turkey politically - Erdogan as president, the Kurdish situation in the east, and of course refugees/Iraq/Syria). Probably nothing to worry about if I'm not stupid. But I'm also stressed because the girlfriend is coming with and I want to make sure she's safe.

I made the obligatory New Year's Resolutions, but kept them pretty reasonable (just 6).

- Get rid of half my stuff (eg, 2 bookcases of books, all scrapbooks, all old papers, some stuff that's going on Craigslist like a guitar and sink-dishwasher, and so on).
- Meditate for a total of 50 hours over the year (~10 minutes per day).
- Take 300 good photos during the year.
- Weight 165 pounds at some point during the year (may go up after if I try to lift regularly).
- Read 20 books (ie, spend less time on the internet and more time reading).
- Complete 10 electronic/programming projects.

My girlfriend and I discussed our resolutions and I bought posterboard for tracking. I'm optimistic.

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bigato
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by bigato » Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:53 am

Hey man. 300 good pictures and 10 electronic/programming projects in a year sound like a lot. Do you enjoy pushing yourself this much, or is it part of some bigger plan?

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Jan 09, 2016 12:02 pm

Read 20 books (ie, spend less time on the internet and more time reading).
I'm with you on this one. I'll be setting a goal like this for myself. I've been wasting way too much time on Reddit and Youtube.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:52 pm

m741 wrote: I found a cheap flight to Istanbul in February for the President's day week, so cheap flight + less time off = vacation. I'm both really excited (most foreign culture I'll have seen), and really nervous
Turkey might be my favorite country that I've visited. Istanbul is pretty cosmopolitan, the people were welcoming, and the scenery feels exotic. Hearing the call to prayer multiple times per day, drinking tea all the time... things I'm not used to. While I liked was touring the interior of the country, but there's plenty to do in the Istanbul area. The famous mosques of course, Roman stuff (last vestige of the Empire, natch), and you can take public transit (ferry) all the way to Adalar for just a couple of bucks. The dollar has strengthened a lot vs. the lira, so enjoy that as well.

It's probably true that it's easier to be there without a female companion. The men were certainly more forward with women -- inappropriate by US standards -- but we didn't encounter any dangerous situations while we were there.

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:54 am

Thank you for sharing details about your trip to the UK. I especially appreciate price information, it appears to be quite doable, even in a tight ERE budget.

I've long suspected that British pubs offer a better experience than your average US bar. I envy your experience!

I think that if you focus you'll be able to exceed your goal of 300 good photos for the year.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:21 am

Thanks everyone for the responses! After thinking about and discussing with the girlfriend, I'm adjusting the photo goal slightly, to include cleanup, selection, and processing of photos within my goal. I've got a backlog of photos from 4 years of travel that I've only done light editing/culling, and now I'll work through those photos in addition to taking new photos. My goal here is to get an eye for composition, cropping, color balance, and black and white. I'm very proficient in Photoshop, but have gradually focused on a group of ~20-30 tools/techniques within it that I use consistently, and there's a huge surface area that I'm less familiar with, so I want to get familiar with new tools and techniques. Processing takes me 20-60 minutes per photo.

@bigato - The pictures should be doable (see above). I've just completed 25 photos, most of which I'm very happy with. I'm including electronics or programming projects, some of which may be medium or small. I had basically zero personal projects last year, so this is just to make me be proactive and learn new things. I can think of two large projects that I want to work on, the rest will be smaller. This is my most challenging goal, but I'm optimistic.

@chris - Thanks for the confirm that Istanbul is cool. We were taken aback about the terrorist attack in Sultanahmet last week, now we're a bit unsure if we should go. It's pretty shocking and bound to affect how happy we are - particularly targeting tourists. On the other hand, odds are everything will be perfectly fine, it's a city of 12 million people, security will be more vigilant, etc etc. We're holding off on new reservations and to see how things play out, before we make a final decision... that said, any recommendations? We're staying a little outside Sultanahmet, and probably also in Galata. I love Roman/Byzantine history, and seeing how locals live, and dislike nightclubs & partying. I'm ambivalent about museums generally (feels like a terrible format for learning/browsing, but you see some cool stuff).

@spoonman - My opinion of Britain after visiting was that it wasn't a great 'tourist' country (besides convenience), but would be a great place to live. It felt cozy and familiar, with nice people, but the sights are more low-key than Italy or the Netherlands (or even Germany/Belgium). Even London felt more pedestrian than Rome. Basically it feels like there's a ton to see, but the most exciting isn't as great as other countries.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:23 pm

Inbound, we stayed this guesthouse. It was more private and nicer than a hostel, even though we opted for the shared bathroom. The location is good, on the Galata side, but you'll need to do some walking to get to most of the touristy things, since those are on the opposite side of the bridge (I see this as a plus).

Outbound, we stayed at a smugglers' hotel. It was near the university; not a bad location. Almost empty except for us, very cheap, and they only allowed air conditioning during certain hours. Interesting place (-: But I won't recommend it to you.

Yeah, in such a historic city, museums aren't the best format for learning about the place. Our only museum-ish outing was visiting Miniaturk. It's a good/amusing way to see architecture of the country all in one place, in miniature format. And it's outdoor.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:13 pm

January, 2016
What Happened?
It was another quiet month. After getting back to England, I've been on a sorta death march at work. That'll probably continue through March. So I'm pretty busy or exhausted after work. If I can manage it, I've been productive with my New Year's Resolutions (more on that later). I've gone to a few concerts and have a bunch more lined up (and Istanbul in a week, for a week).

That's right, I'm still going. It seems like it's been pretty quiet there. Nobody wants to give me direct advice (and I don't blame them), but nobody seemed surprised that we were still going. We'll just be cautious in crowded areas and touristy zones. It's really snuck up on me - I've done almost no planning. We booked a few accomodations and I bought a tour guide, and we watched some YouTube videos. But I kinda want this trip to be more of a surprise.

Job
Like I said... death march. I'm on a one-man project, nobody on our team has expertise in the area. The team dynamics are terrible, we don't know what our team goal is and go in circles on refactoring our code (we're changing our focus). Because I have dependencies on the refactor, I started work on it, and then we zigged where my code had zagged... so lots of wasted effort.

I think things _may_ have rounded a corner here, though. At least, I'm at a phase where I can enjoy the coding, even if there's a lot of pressure and a lot of work to do.

Finances

I actually came in a bit ahead, even in the midst of the stock market meltdown, thanks to bonuses and stock vesting. But I lost quite a bit in the market, so that doesn't feel so good. I've invested enough that swings are starting to reach my pain threshold... not that this is a huge swing, or that I intend to sell much of anything.

2016 Goal Evaluation

Let's run through my goals and how I'm doing on them.

- Get rid of half my stuff - Really good! I eliminated 3 shelves of books, scanned a box of documents, etc.
- Meditate for a total of 50 hours over the year - I fell off the wagon this past week, but have meditated just under 5 hours so far this year, so on track.
- Take 300 good photos during the year - I've been focusing on this, mostly photoshopping/color correcting/cleaning up old travel photos. I've made good progress and have 55 photos so far.
- Weigh 165 pounds at some point - No progress.
- Read 20 books - Really good. I cut down on podcasts a bit to read on the subway, and read some each night. I've finished 5 books.
- Complete 10 electronic/programming projects - Doing alright. I started learning how to solder and accumulated some tools. I made a little siren/LED circuit. Now I need to read some electronics books (I have two on my bedstand).

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spoonman
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by spoonman » Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:36 am

I was gonna ask you about Istanbul, I'm glad that you are still going. Just keep your eyes open and have fun!

Kudos on making progress getting rid of stuff and scanning documents.

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Ego
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Ego » Mon Feb 08, 2016 9:48 am

I wouldn't be any more concerned about visiting Istanbul than I would New York or London. We stayed on the Asian side in Kadıköy and loved the neighborhood feel with the open markets.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by laheart » Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:20 pm

Hi m741 - Been reading through a lot of your posts! The charts you use are great.... I was wondering what program or website are you to make the graphs? I would like to start doing something similar

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:15 pm

@lachart - they're just charts from Google Sheets, exported to an image. Pretty straightforward and easy to adjust the data.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:52 pm

February, 2016
What happened?
Took a weeklong trip to Istanbul. This was because of cheap airline tickets, and the plane went through Kiev... so it was a bit of a dramatic trip. These was a bombing in Ankara while we were in Istanbul, but I never felt in danger. Though I think that type of terrorist danger is really tough to predict compared to just "bad neighborhood" sketchiness, so mostly I think we were just playing the odds.

I really enjoyed Istanbul. The first night there we got in late, and we were staying in a run-down area outside Sultenahmet that felt sketchy... that night. Once I got used to 'normal' for Istanbul I realized it was the usual, and safe. Istanbul felt half-European and half middle Eastern. Lots of crazy stuff: dogs/cats everywhere; lots of trash; undrinkable tap water; completely abandoned buildings on main streets. It took me ~2 days to recalibrate and not feel sketched out. After that, I really had a good time and this trip was perfectly timed to rekindle my love of travel with an opportunity to experience something different.

The best thing was cost of living - this was the first time I'd been somewhere with a truly advantageous cost-of-living compared to the US. Here's some example prices:

- Cup of tea: 70 cents
- Dinner for two at average restaurant: $7
- Day and a half of snacks/fruit/water: $6
- Plate of vegan street food (Cig Kofta): $1-$1.5
- Hoodie in shopping district: $3 (NOT the grand bazaar)
- Fancy (knockoff probably) athletic jacket: $10
- Bar of fancy olive oil soap (also in shopping district): $70 cents.
- A few hours of tea and hookah: $10
- Night at an AirBnB in trendy area with outstanding views of Asia and the Bosphorus: $35

This was the first city I immediately wanted to return to: I don't think I experienced much of it at all and the diversity of neighborhoods was amazing (we saw Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Beyoglu, Kadakoy, Karakoy, Moda, Taksim, Cihangir and just dipped into Fatih).

Job
I've been working flat-out, 12 hours a day on a very aggressive timeline, but the project is something that I feel pretty passionate about, and there's been a lot of interest outside our team, so I'm not conflicted about the work.

Finances
Not a lot to report here - more of the same. I'm planning on doing my semi-annual expense re-evaluation for March (a month with no travel planned and anticipated average expenses).

2016 Goal Evaluation
- Get rid of half my stuff - Not a lot of progress beyond January. Got rid of another shelf of books.
- Meditate for a total of 50 hours over the year - Little progress.
- Take 300 good photos during the year - Working actively on this and ahead of the curve.
- Weigh 165 pounds at some point - No progress, but March is the month.
- Read 20 books - I've read 8 books so far this year, so far ahead of pace.
- Complete 10 electronic/programming projects - Little progress, due to work pressure. I have a bunch of ideas.
- I also (maybe foolishly) added another goal: learn Spanish. While in Istanbul I realized how much I enjoy learning a new language (as I experimented with some Turkish phrases and pronunciation). Spanish is far and away the most practical for me. There's so many resources.

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