Hristo's FI Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

DW got me a paper subscription to our local newspaper for Father's Day; I've been wanting one for a while, but it's expensive, especially compared to the digital subscription, which offers a pretty decent e-paper version that's pretty much just a pdf of the actual print newspaper. I really, really want to quit using my computer and my phone so much for things other than work tasks and communication. And I really need to get off twitter and relying on the personalized Google news feed, both of which I check way too frequently during the day. My hope is that, by going old school, I will be satisfied by spending about half an hour or so in the morning reading the newspaper, followed by another 30 minutes in the evening watching actual local or national news on TV (via antenna), and finishing the day's newspaper. This constant fire hose feed of news and opinion just isn't healthy.

Lately I'm more and more envious of my friends who work with their hands and not in an office--a furniture maker, a fireman, and a landscape business owner; and even a commercial toilet salesman who spends his days driving all over the state seeing customers, etc. I spend my days at this stupid computer constantly getting distracted by whats happening on the interwebs (including this forum, which I love); and then I go home and often find more and more I'm looking at my twitter feed or even participating in various text chains with different groups of friends, as opposed to going outside and kicking the soccer ball around with my kids, or taking the dog for a walk, or reading a book, or any number of other things that make a helluva lot more sense then consuming the dumpster fire that is twitter, etc.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Paper delivery should start tomorrow, so the plan is wake up at 5:30, go for a run, pick up the paper on my way in and make coffee, read the paper and drink coffee, and then shower and head to work (whether at the office or at home). Then, the challenge will be to stay off the Internet while at work except for work stuff.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Absolutely fantastic morning this morning, with a newspaper delivered to my doorstep for the first time in my adult life (my first job as a kid was running a paper route on my bike). Woke up and went for a run at 5:45, and then after the coffee was made and the dog walked, DW and I spent a solid hour on the back porch reading the paper and drinking coffee, before showering and walking downtown to the office; and without Twitter et al. my mind already feels cleaner, more focused, and less outraged. I now plan on completely checking out of the news cycle until tomorrow morning, when Saturday's paper is delivered.

I'll also be picking my turntable up from the repair shop this afternoon (finally), as I work to see just how much I can purge the digital from my non-work life.

#OldShit

One exception, I will ABSOLUTELY be tuning in to NBCSN on my streaming YouTubeTV / AppleTV app to watch as many Premier League games this weekend as possible; my Google and Apple overlords be damned.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Envious of the dumb phone, for sure. Not sure I could swing it while in my current profession. I never understood the whole close-system vs. open-system phone thing, I just remember the transition from Blackberrys to iPhones and the like when I was at the big firm, and that it was a pain in the ass for the IT people to get the open-system phones secure enough with client confidentiality issues to worry about. Seems like a return to the blackberry model would be great (provided I could still use something equivalent to a Libby app; I love the free audiobooks from the library).

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Just finished:

23. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
24. 1984 - Orwell

For Mockingbird, this is a re-read for my upcoming book club. I've read this book many times before, and even read several essays, etc. on the book. As someone raised in the South, I grew up with this story just as part of the background: you read it in 8th grade (and then likely read it several more times after); see it performed as a community theater production; see the movie, naturally; visit the courthouse in Monroeville, AL; and know lots of pets and children with the names "Scout," "Finch," "Gem," and even "Atticus." The story in part inspired me to become a lawyer; a lot of the reason I think that southerners typically view the law as a noble profession is because of the myth of Atticus. This time around, however, I read the book after having finally read it's "sequel," Go Set a Watchman, only days earlier, and also in the midst of all the current racial unrest in the country. And I have to admit, I tend to think Go Set a Watchmen did a better job wrestling with race than does Mockingbird. Mockingbird is without question a better written book, but it lacks sufficient nuance in its lionization of Atticus. I think, ultimately, what sort of disappointed me in this most recent re-read of Mockingbird was that it really hasn't held up over the decades as well as I'd thought it would; I honestly don't know if it really has anything to teach us anymore in terms of race in the South. Atticus will forever be a good example of a virtuous lawyer and father, for certain; but there's something wrong about holding up Atticus as an example of how a white man in the South should navigate race. I'm one who thinks that the cardinal and theological virtues are eternal; but while Atticus clearly is a model of a virtuous man in many respects, his virtue is lacking in the paternalistic manner in which he thinks and treats his black neighbors and clients. In the Jim Crow South that white paternalism may have been a better alternative to the more aggressive white supremacist types, but there is also something stealthily evil in that paternalism, and perhaps even more dangerous an idea in the long run.

For 1984, one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. It will no doubt be a book I will read again in the future, probably many times. It scares me.

Currently Reading:

1. The other short stories contained in Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge
2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Carroll
3. The Power and the Glory - Graham Greene
4. Shakespeare's Sonnets (I've found this to be a good thing to keep on my Libby app on my phone, as an alternative to social media; each sonnet is very short, and so scratches that Twitter itch.)

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

For Shakespeare's Sonnets, I'll note only that I'm only about 6 or so sonnets in, all of which are focused on the importance of procreation. It's kind of difficult to read that as a 42-year-old man who is already struggling with the fact that I didn't have more children when I had the chance. My advice for my children, when they are old enough, will no doubt be to start having children early, and keep having them. No doubt this is a position that won't be particularly popular with many of the members of this forum, but stopping at 2 children and not starting earlier--under the assumption that we needed to get our careers established first, and that we could only really "afford" 2 kids--will likely end up being one of the greatest regrets for both DW and me.

mooretrees
Posts: 278
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

That's so interesting to hear your take on children. My son is three now and I have a glimmer of understanding why people have a second child. But, the exhaustion! The schedules! The lack of personal time! I started much older and knew we would only have one child. I look at people with multiple children and really can not fathom how they have managed. Perhaps it is my age, I had my son at 40. My energy is not the same as a twenty-something. My oldest sister had three boys before she was thirty and now they are all out of the house and she just turned fifty. We did things the opposite way. I can see the benefit of having kids young, if you have your act together and have a good partner. I wasn't that person.

Also, I really enjoy reading your journal, especially all of the book reviews. I just might pick up some Flannery O'Conner because of you. Though I still remember how evocative and scary one of her short stories was, I think "Good Country People" was the one.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

mooretrees wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:14 pm
Thanks mooretrees! I just assume no one is reading this other than me; I view it as my personal journal, but it's funny that I've had many, many failed attempts at journaling in my life (both paper journals and Doogie Howser-style computer-based journals), and this is the only one I've ever stuck with. I suspect the reasons I've been able to stick with this one are (a) the chance someone other than me might actually read it, and (b) the anonymity (I hope) of it.

Very interesting to hear of your experience with child-rearing and parenting. We had our first kid when I was 31 and DW 30, and then our second two years later. In many ways that was a tough period, for both of us but especially (obviously) for DW, who had to carry the second kid while our first was still a toddler. That also happened to be when I was at the absolute busiest time of my working career, trying to establish myself as a go-getter at a big law law firm. And I conflated all of that exhaustion in a way that left me thinking the career was required, and bringing more kids into the world was significantly less important, and perhaps even some sort of selfish act of self-perpetuation. And it was with that mindset that DW and I made the decision that I'd get a vasectomy. In hindsight, we had it backwards. It was the career that should have taken a backseat to family, and expanding that family. We've since adjusted our lives to reflect that new prioritization: I took a big pay cut to hop to a smaller firm with lower hours requirements and more freedom to pick and choose clients and cases; and we downsized our housing, transportation, general spending, etc. DW and I are happier than we've ever been (knock on wood), and it's with that happiness, and an understanding that its our faith and family that is the source of that happiness, that we can't help but wonder how much that happiness would have expanded had we expanded our family. We might still do that, via adoption; but that's been a very, very difficult decision for us to make.

Honestly, a big part of all of this is that over the past couple years DW and I have spent more time with friends from church, whose kids also go to the parochial school, and significantly less time with our non-church friends, who we became friends with when we all lived in the same neighborhood together with kids roughly the same age as our own. With one exception, the latter group of friends all stopped at 2 kids. And with no exceptions, the latter group has rejected religion. Instead, they all seem incredibly focused on politics, on their careers and bragging about their career accomplishments, on keeping-up-with-the-Jones consumerism, on their twitter feeds. And most notably, this group is CONSTANTLY obsessed with whatever the most recent outrage is (in a way that, as a religious person, I can't help but think looks oddly, religious). And as a Catholic, who believes in Original Sin, I'm always just amazed at the outrage--what did you expect? People are NOT perfectable; the constant presence of evil is a corollary to existence of freedom--to choose good means to reject evil, and we all fail to make the right choice multiple times a day. So why are we so shocked when we see evil in the world? We can and should work to make the world as good as we can, but utopia is a myth, as is the idea of a person who is free of sin--who hasn't done something (many things) in his life that wouldn't make him vulnerable to cancellation in today's climate (that's a lot of double negatives).

That's a tangent; my point is that, as we've spent more and more time with church friends, whose (non-political) worldview is closer to our own, we realize that the constant obsession over all this noise just isn't there nearly as much as with our non-church group of friends. The church folks are for the most part more blue collar focused, and also tend to be business owners with their own employees as opposed to our non-church friends who are all white collar professionals who work as cogs (though Director and VP-level cogs) in large corporations and professional service firms. I guess the most striking difference is that with the church group there is an absolute, fundamental, baseline understanding that your life is not about you. That's not to say there isn't selfishness et al. with the church folks, but serving others just comes as absolute second nature to them; they ask "how can I help," and they mean it (and usually they don't ask, they just do)--they aren't posting it on Facebook so others can see the offer but knowing that they won't be called on to actually help. And, not surprisingly perhaps, unlike the non-church folks who max out at 2 kids, the church folks all have 3-4 kids.

I don't really have a coherent line of thought here, it's just a tangent personal journal entry as I try and come to grips with some of the family decisions I made earlier in my life that I can't take back now. There's a mural I see every morning on my runs that's a replication of the airplane oxygen mask advice, which reads: "Take care of yourself, then help others." It's silly, I know, but this mural really pisses me off; I see it as a good advice parading as life philosophy. I get it, and I know there are lots of ways you can look at the mural and think, "yeah, that makes sense"--e.g., if you don't eat healthy and exercise then you won't be around or physically able to take care of others. BUT, I have to think that's not what the artist was going for here. This isn't some sort of government-sponsored PSA/propaganda piece about being healthy or whatever other good life advice you can think of. This is an artist with a message, and that message to me screams: selfishness; some sort of version of moralistic therapeutic deism. It's similar to painting a mural that says something like: "Be Kind" or "Love is Love," without making any attempt to define what kindness and love mean, or to provide any sort of foundation from which that kindness or love might arise. (FWIW, "love" is not a feeling; it means to will the good of the other; which, obviously, CAN involve some judgement and justice as it relates to the other's conduct.)

ANYWAY, I guess my point here (and, obviously, this whole post is for my own edification) is that there is no better reminder in the world--a constant, everyday reminder--that your life is in fact NOT about you, than your own children. You can't help but live your life in service to others when you've got a houseful of kids that cannot yet take care of themselves. And I find my self in a place where my kids are getting pretty self sufficient and I've got all this leftover time and energy and love (relative to when they were younger) with no place to direct that time, energy, and love, having decided some time ago that I wasn't going to empty myself for my career.

mooretrees
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

Interesting to read your experience and why another child seems so desirable. I have never been about a career, I've done all things late in life that most people started in their twenties; careers, families, home ownership, etc. I've wondered if people who have kids later in life have a harder time adjusting to the monumental shift in priorities that a child/children bring. While I miss my time to read without guilt, I can barely remember what I did before I had my son. So maybe the shift from only focusing on myself to having a child wasn't as big as I think.

It sounds like you have found a much better group to be around. I think the folks we surround ourselves are so important. I'm still searching for more 'Race of Joseph' people as Anne of Green Gables would have said. It's interesting to hear about the different groups. I've read Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists and it was really interesting how he wrote about religions. I miss the structure of religion and some of the Catholic rituals. It's very difficult to replicate some of the lovely parts of religions outside of the mainstream religions. Like you wrote, the focus on community and giving is something I see more clearly in devout religious folks who actually put it into practice. Maybe it's time to reread that book and see what I can create.

Some of what you wrote about the selflessness of having a child reminds me of my best friend. She is an anxious person and very OCD about germs and health. One thing she said when they had their first child was that it was such a relief to not be so focused on herself. I also remember the sheer terror I felt when I was pregnant at the idea of being responsible for another person's life. I was so afraid. It was easier once I could hold him and actually take care of him. But the constant undercurrent of fear for his safety is there. I am a pretty relaxed parent, but I still feel afraid for him.

As far as your kids getting self-sufficient, well, they'll always need you. I am sure you know that and having a young child around is a magical, insanely frustrating and lovely experience. It's fun to see older kids with their parents and imagine how my son will change. But, I try and remember each sloppy kiss and snuggle as they won't last forever. I think if DH and I had meet at a younger age, we might have had more than one. If I had encountered ERE earlier in life and been able to work part time during my son's first years, I think that would have been so much better. Water under the bridge and all.

If you had a recommendation of a good Flannery O'Connor book/short stories to start with I'd appreciate it.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

mooretrees wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:58 pm
I just did that thing where I wrote a way too long journal entry prompted by yours, and then forgot to save it before clicking submit, only to lose it because I'd been logged out. Anyway, the writing of it was a cathartic experience for me, and you're saved the drudgery of trying to read through it. So, I'll just say, for Flannery, check out her collection of short stories titled Everything That Rises Must Converge; I especially love Revelation.

Hristo Botev
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Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Just finished:

25. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Carroll

I picked this book up because it (a) was short, (b) was available on my Libby app, and (c) fits in with my desire to read the books whose vocabulary and/or imagery has become part of our collective culture, even though we don't all necessarily know the source of that vocabulary/imagery. For (c), much like Hamlet and 1984, Alice gives us quite a lot of terminology and imagery that remain part of our cultural vocabulary today, including "going down the rabbit hole," "off with their heads," and "curiouser and curiouser," among other things; as well as the imagery/character of the mad hatter, the queen of hearts, and of course Alice herself. I didn't really read anything terribly deep or meaningful in this book, and I haven't looked around for commentary on what it all means. Rather, I just read it as a fun and fanciful (and absurd) timeless children's story. Perhaps Carroll was trying to convey more through this book, but I didn't get it.

Currently reading Heinlein's Starship Troopers, because I understand it says something about citizenship.

Hristo Botev
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Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

mooretrees wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:58 pm
Some of what you wrote about the selflessness of having a child reminds me of my best friend. She is an anxious person and very OCD about germs and health. One thing she said when they had their first child was that it was such a relief to not be so focused on herself. I also remember the sheer terror I felt when I was pregnant at the idea of being responsible for another person's life. I was so afraid. It was easier once I could hold him and actually take care of him. But the constant undercurrent of fear for his safety is there. I am a pretty relaxed parent, but I still feel afraid for him.
On selflessness as a side effect of child rearing, speaking strictly anecdotally, my experience is that number of children is a multiplier of selflessness (clearly I speak as a humanities major and not as an engineer type); as in the more kids you have, the more selfless you're likely to be. Certainly in my church, it's the families with 5, 6, 7 kids that somehow also manage to volunteer and take leadership roles for almost everything, from parish social and athletic events to leading charitable and service-related initiatives. And it's the people like me with 1-2 kids who tend to be more focused on our own small families and, frankly, more selfish with our time and energy. Even with the couple of non-church friends we've got who have more than the standard 2 kids (like 3-5), they tend to be more givers than takers; they are the ones who are regularly hosting people at their homes (in a very unpretentious way, not to show off their recent home renovation or whatever), who are happy to have your kids playing over at their house with their kids for hours on end, and so forth.

So I guess that's one push back I have when I hear people talking about procreation as being some sort of selfish activity, harmful to the environment, etc.; the families I know who have the most kids are the least selfish people I know.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

I've heard from Catholic parent friends with large families that 4 is the tipping point; kids get exponentially more exhausting and labor intensive as you move from 1 kid, to 2 kids, to 3. And then, at 4, its gets easier, as the older kids start helping out with the younger kids, and also with other household chores and other activities. And because there is so much to do, but also so many hands able to help, it's more of a family as team mindset--or as Edmund Burke called them, "little platoons." In my readings on what modern conservatism actually is (in the age of the non-conservative Trump), the push back on the Burk-ian or Russell Kirk-ian idea of conservatism--which generally speaking is conservatism more as a lifestyle and less a political ideology, except to the extent that political conservatism is simply anti-radical (tradition is important, and change is also important, but change that occurs too quickly, and that wholesale forsakes tradition, is unhealthy)--is that the Burkian/Kirkian thing is rooted in an agrarian economy that simply doesn't really exist anymore. But living in an urban setting, I see no reason why the "little platoon" conservative lifestyle can't thrive in an non-agrarian setting. But I also think that lifestyle is much easier to achieve with bigger families; with just 2 kids it's more difficult to push back on the impulse to overschedule the kids with extracurriculars--academy soccer, private coaching and tutoring, etc.; with an eye towards wanting your kid to be ready for the modern meritocracy. When you've got a family of 7 kids, with very limited time, energy, and money, seems like you don't really care about the meritocracy; because you can't afford to. And because you know instinctively that there's really no better way to prepare a child for the world, even this modern world, than to raise them with 3, 4, 5, or even 6 of their siblings, and with two loving and engaged parents. It's got to be damn near impossible for a child to mature into a selfish adult when that child is sharing a room, and his clothes and toys, and his food, with several siblings. And as for the meritocracy, you realize that you don't really need a lot of things and a lot of prestige to be happy, because you were happy as a child with very little that you could really call your own.

This is all just rambling, though perhaps I'm just slowly convincing myself that we need to adopt.

mooretrees
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by mooretrees »

I think some of what you're writing about: over scheduling, getting your kid ready for the meritocracy, is more indicative of a middle class parenting style than truly related to number of children. I witnessed my upper middle class sister's utter devotion to her children's activities (primarily wrestling) and saw her struggle to 'get them ready' for whatever they wanted to do. But mostly, it was to get them ready to take advantage of opportunities, make good career decisions and make a lot of money. But, I agree that having more children limits their parent's abilities to do the modern stressful parenting style.

I'm not sure I totally agree that raising kids with more siblings guarantees a child won't be a selfish adult. I think the loving and engaged parents are the key and the more children you have the harder that is? I'm one of four and I don't think two of my siblings are trustworthy or whole adults. I don't think I know exactly where they went wrong, nor am I saying I'm all right (I sure have issues). I know my mom wasn't as available as one sister wanted, she had a career and four kids, that's a lot going on.

I don't aspire to a middle class life for my son, so I don't feel the urge to over schedule. Plus, we don't have the same opportunities that a big city child might. Which I feel is a fine trade for a slower pace and mountains.

If you want to adopt, then adopt and give that child a lucky life. Sounds like you have a lot of love to give and that kid would be so lucky to have it.

ertyu
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by ertyu »

About selfishness, (1) I think the relationship between the parents that is modelled is much more important than whether one has siblings and (2) how you parent is more important than having siblings.

Let me provide an example to prove the point: imagine a household where one parent is abusive. As it most often happens, let's assume traditional gender norms and a small man who never much amounted to anything in life and never got peer respect or recognition. He overcompensates for this for being authoritarian in the family: abusing his wife into performing all domestic tasks as those are "women's work," and into maintaining a particular body size and shape. This would make him manly, he thinks. He would tell all his mates in the bar that he has everyone at home under control and in line, and his mates would admire him.

To achieve this, in addition to being authoritarian, he runs a household permeated with the ideology that women are less-than and should do for men. His children see their mother doing everything. When the mother asks any sons for help, the father beats her down -- she should not be emasculating them by making them do "women's work" -- and besides, there's only a couple short steps between the sons doing chores and everyone sitting him down one night at dinner and saying, "hey dad, how come you never do anything"?

Who would the sons in this family grow up to be? It is possible that if our small man is overly violent and abusive, the sons would rebel against his cruelty and swear they'll never be like that. But in many more families, the boys are very content to play video games all day and have their mother and sisters do for them. It's possible the mother, too, has dealt with the cognitive dissonance between having to accept abuse and being too scared to leave without much income and education and with three children by taking pride in how well she performs the role of the homemaker. It is quite possible the mother would perpetuate this by making chores the primary responsibility of her daughters so as "to prepare them." Regardless: the sons of this family would grow up to be entitled and selfish adults who would have no compunction in resorting to authoritarianism themselves. After all, babies are a lot of work, they're at work all day working hard to provide, and what does their wife do? Sit at home all day. Plus, diapers and all that shit is women's work. The sons, too, would probably want to perpetuate a family structure which assigns to them all the authority and little of the chore load without care that the cost of this is the human flourishing of their own wives and daughters. They would also go on to have many children to keep the wife at home, having to care for them, dependent, and in line. "Let her leave if she wants to -- what will she do with four children and a high school degree? lol"

This story isn't at all uncommon. I come from a family somewhat like this and turned out to be the navel-gazing, sensitive type, so instead of manly and entitled, I am just sad. There's no true joy or happiness in a household like this, even when people might get used to numbly going through the motions. But the reason why I wrote it out is to illustrate that it's not the number of children that determines selfishness. It's the selfishness of the parents. A single child from an egalitarian household who is aware that power is shared, chores are negotiated, and everyone has a right to be respected and heard will be much less selfish than any of the sons in your typical sexist authoritarian home.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

ertyu wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 3:37 am
Thanks ertyu, I guess I should state as a prerequisite with respect to my ramblings about the fact that DW and I are currently regretting not having had more children, and the anecdotal benefits we see among our friends of such larger families, that the baseline is 2 engaged and loving parents who (a) put their love for their spouse even above their love of their children, and who put their love of God even before their love of spouse (see yesterday's Gospel reading, on the Catholic calendar), (b) view marriage and child-rearing as a vocation, and (c) have a pretty egalitarian split of domestic responsibilities.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

This weekend was pretty excellent. We'd considered signing our daughter up for some extra soccer training, and the only time that would have worked was on Saturdays. I pushed back, though, as we continue to be in this really weird vortex where our weekends are almost entirely unscheduled, and I'd like to keep it that way while we can. So, Friday evening we had our regularly-scheduled neighborhood get together, which had us and our kids going to bed later than we planned, which seems to happen every Friday. It's just a big bunch of neighbors in our townhouse complex who spread out chairs in one of the neighborhood roundabouts and talk and drink, while the kids play. It's a good group of folks we are self-quarantining with. We had a nice, relaxing Saturday morning, reading the paper and drinking coffee before the family tackled the house-cleaning chores and laundry. I then tackled some DIY jobs around the house and then, amazingly, took a nap. We'd planned to head to the town square for a picnic on the lawn with another family we haven't seen in a while, but that ended up getting rained out, which I'll admit I was kind of happy about, as I wasn't really in the mood for socializing at that level. Instead, we grilled out burgers and watched the rest of season 6 of the "Alone" survival show on Netflix, before our subscription ran out on Sunday. The kids have been obsessed with the show, and it's been a fun family-viewing experience. Sunday we set out very early in the truck (more on that later) to the mountains and tackled a 7-mile out-and-back waterfall hike. It was incredible; and the kids (and our 11-year-old dog) were absolute champs! Once we got back home I tackled some more tasks around the house before Sunday evening Mass, after which we had pizza. I've had a Big Green Egg grill/smoker for about 10 years now, and I go through periods where I don't use it at all, followed by periods where I use multiple times a week. I'm currently in multiple times a week period, and my current interest is in mastering the brick oven pizza. My first attempt about a week and a half ago didn't go very well, because I didn't have a pizza "peel"; so the kids got me a peel for Father's Day. And I'm happy to report that my second attempt last night went very, very well. I think I've got the actual cooking process down--roll the dough out and prep the pizza on top of parchment paper on top of the peel, then transfer the pizza with the parchment paper to the Big Green Egg (with a pizza stone on top of the convEGGtor), cook for about 5 minutes at ~600 degrees, remove the parchment paper, and then cook for about 2-3 more minutes. The pizza was absolutely delicious, even though we were using a dough and pizza sauce "kit" from Chef Boyardee. So the next attempt will focus on coming up with good, fresh recipes for the dough and pizza sauce.

And now, it's Monday morning and I'm tackling another week of working from home. I'd been going into the office pretty regularly, once the powers-that-be opened it back up, but one of my colleagues got the Coronavirus (asymptomatic, almost certainly unrelated to anything having to do with the office), and so the powers-that-be closed the office again; which sucks, because I really, really hate working from home.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Also, over the weekend I finished:

26. Starship Troopers, Heinlein

And, I'll admit, I absolutely LOVED this book. It's got some really dangerous (perhaps) ideas about citizenship, and honestly, seems like we are living during a period where it's good to read some dangerous ideas. If nothing else, you can expect that I will take voting this November much, much more seriously than I normally do; to the point that I'll even be informed as to all of the down-ballot races and referendums.

jacob
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Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by jacob »

In terms of dangerous ideas, I'll second the recommendation for https://www.amazon.com/Against-Democrac ... 691178496/ which @chenda suggested in another thread. TL;DR - In terms of voter information, the mean is low and the variance is high. This means that some voters know a lot, most know next to nothing, and some know less than nothing being actively misinformed(*). The book argues that only the first group should vote, because inflicting one's ignorance on others is, so to speak, not cool.

(*) Come to think of it, one would probably find the same result when it comes to investing.

PS: For more political Heinlein writings, also read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. IIRC, that's the origin of TANSTAAFL(?)

Hristo Botev
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Hristo's FI Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

As for the truck, as part of our very long term plan to get an Airstream, so that we are fully mobile once the apocalypse hits (or, if it has already hit, when it intensifies), we knew that as a first step we needed to have a vehicle that could actually tow an Airstream. DW and I spent several weeks trying to figure out what that vehicle would be, and after DW test drove a few options (she'll be the primary driver), we ultimately decided on a Ram 1500. If you're keeping score at home, in just less than a year we've gone from owning the electric Nissan Leaf to a 5.7L V8 Ram 1500. Neither DW nor I commute to work by car (even in normal times), and we've grown to like being a one-vehicle family, with that vehicle being used for running errands, road trips, and the kids' soccer practices and tournaments. So the difference between a CRV that gets about 26/27 mpg and a truck that gets more like 18 mpg isn't that big of a deal, because the vehicle sits idle more days than not.

Anyway, this is no doubt a MMM punch-in-the-face purchase, because it's the first vehicle I've owned probably since I was 16 that was really a lifestyle type purchase. It's brand new, shiny, and I have it strategically parked outside the window I'm working at so I can gaze at it from time to time; this has all the hallmarks of a bad idea, but so be it. We traded in the CRV and paid the balance for the vehicle in cash. I enjoyed the price negotiation (I always do); we realized that this particular truck was the ONLY truck within the entire metropolitan area that checked all of our boxes: crew cab with a bench seat in the front as opposed to center console, so we can transport more soccer kids; V8 with the higher axle ratio for towing capacity; electric brake controls and tow package; the bigger-ish screen with Apple CarPlay (we got rather addicted to Apple CarPlay with the CRV). And so we visited the dealer where the particular truck was located, and got them down to a good price on the balance, and then they tried to renege when they realized we wouldn't be financing (I'd been coy about this), because some of the "rebates" were only good if they'd be getting their money from you anyway via financing. So we walked, and they let us walk. A couple weeks later we tried to get the truck through an affiliated dealer, which almost worked. And then a couple weeks after that we tried once more with a different affiliated dealer, which ultimately worked, because the 2021s are coming out and I think there are some July 4th rebates. Ultimately we got the truck for a better deal than the first dealer had tried to renege on, and even after we'd had some damage done to the CRV on a road trip when I'd run into a vulture that put a decent dent in the hood.

All in all, I suspect that this will be a truck we'll have for 10 years, and our kids might even be driving it eventually, assuming driving is still a thing then. Right now we are enjoying taking the truck on hiking/camping trips; the biggest advantage apart from the fact that you can drive the thing in all sorts of places you couldn't take a CRV is the space. You've of course got the truck bed, which is like when our kids were younger and we had a minivan, and you didn't even have to think about being strategic in your packing; you just throw everything in the back and there's always room for more. But the crew cab itself is HUGE. Both kids have tons of space in the back, so they aren't shoulder to shoulder bickering with one another. AND, because there is nothing underneath the back seats, our dog has tons of space to sprawl out in the back, and the kids don't even realize she's there.

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