bostonimproper's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Biscuits and Gravy
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Biscuits and Gravy »

My sister, also an engineer in a managerial role, has had the exact same thing said to her. She and the one other woman in their small group are “too emotional.” It is interesting. She stressed about having kids in large part due to potentially missing out on advancement at work. I don’t know. Just a sign of our times. Do you think what they want is for you to protect other people’s feelings, like you said, or just generally exhibit less emotions? Not sure how you’d go about protecting other people’s feelings; they’re going to have them regardless and, arguably, are fully entitled to feel and express said feelings, although preferably in a dampened capacity in professional settings.

Congratulations on the compensation bump!

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

@Biscuits and Gravy - 70% of the time at work I am deadpan neutral, 29.x% corporate smiles, and <1% of the time visibly “seriously, wtf?” I think what they really want is that <1% “seriously, wtf” to go to being deadpan and the half of deadpan which is constructive nudging and criticism to be corporate smiles and sandwich method protect their feelings.

I guess, after years in tech, I now interpret “you are too emotional” as “you have expressed annoyance at me with your face and you are a woman.” I’m not going to ever be able to stop being annoyed at people 100%, especially in frustrating situations. But I can hide it and up-level my “resting bitch face”, for which I have also gotten criticism in the past, to just under “too bubbly to be taken seriously.”

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Two of my friends (both women in tech, engineering & product) also pointed out this feedback ironically came on International Women’s Day. lol

Scott 2
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Scott 2 »

That is an excellent pay bump, congrats.

The double standard in tech is undeniable. It's a crummy part of the game, and women are unfairly penalized if they refuse to play.

Have you heard of or been to the Grace Hopper conference? I thought that was an interesting approach to the problem. The one coworker I shared it with, didn't want to spend her time on a gender based conference. But, she was also already killing it at the office.

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Scott 2: I’m vaguely aware of the Grace Hopper conference as something I got a lot of marketing for in college. I can see it being worthwhile for networking for entry-level folks. I also probably wouldn’t go to a gender-based conference at this point in my career. To put it crudely, I’ve found male mentors to have a higher ROI— there are more of them in higher places. On the side of being a mentor myself, I pretty much talk to any college student or women early in their career that reach out to me on LinkedIn, which are at this point a decent number.

Scott 2
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Scott 2 »

That makes sense. To a large extent - success demonstrates what is possible and provides needed representation.

With my last place anchored on work from home, we'd achieved staffing ratios close to 50/50. There was still a pipeline problem though - seniority tended to skew by gender. We did not get many female applicants for high level positions. Given the experience offered to women in tech 15-20 years ago, it's not all that surprising. My computer science classes probably had a 10:1 gender ratio. Addressing the early imbalance seems critical to a long term solution.

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Crypto & climate ethics

Having seen a bunch of “NFTs are melting the polar ice caps” tweets, my husband has been feeling uneasy about the carbon cost of blockchain protocols. He asked that I take our money out of crypto. We had a conversation about it and I’ve now liquidated our BTC holdings, keeping ETH (yes, I know all the NFT stuff is happening on protocols with smart contract). I still feel fine about these things though— pretty bullish on the rollout of new L2 solutions and proof of stake happening in the next year. I think the market will regulate itself, if only because of high gas fees promoting L2 adoption.

It does hurt to have him think me a bad or greedy or selfish person, though. I don’t know. He also feels uneasy about the idea of buying rental property (“landlords are evil”) and is only barely okay with investing in general (“capitalism is evil”). He’s never really had to deal with the consequences of money— his parents put him through college, subsidized his living for a while, and I’ve always made enough that it hasn’t been a big deal that he doesn’t make a lot in social work or spends months between jobs. So on the one hand, I get kind of defensive about these things because the weight of dealing with our finances is always on *my* shoulders. On the other hand, I recognize that motivated reasoning can lead me to believe things that are objectively bad for personal gain— I do think PoW is a stupid way to burn through energy.

Emotionally exhausted at work

Meanwhile, I get to present to the CTO in a couple weeks about why my team is incompetent. Yay. This can only end well. :|

7Wannabe5
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I’m not a person who thinks in terms like “evil”, but one thing I have been puzzling about lately is how it could be possible that funds held invested don’t burn energy? Even a subsistence farmer who maintains or “owns” a timber lot which is larger than his sustainable consumption of timber has to burn some energy in repairing fencing or trespass signs or tithe towards constabulary. This might be relatively small cost which is often hidden in the accounting of risk perceived, but if an individual’s somehow “secured” investments are 100x consumer spending then they might be close to the same. Also, since funds held beyond spending requirements do increase security and optionality, it seems to me that assigning them zero energy burn violates no free lunch.

Hristo Botev
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Somewhat relatedly, my church men's group has had an investment account for several years from proceeds from the sale of a property, which has been invested in mutual funds for the time being, until we find the right capital/real estate opportunity consistent with the group's charter and mission. Lately, we've had folks (really, just one guy) who has got a bee in his bonnet about whether those funds are invested in companies that have taken positions that are in someway antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I get it, but at the same time, it seems folks just generally like to draw the line as to what is/is not antithetical to Catholic teachings in a way that most conforms with the way they want to live their lives. I mean, I get that the church has a pretty consistent position about abortion and certain other positions that the Catholic "trad" types (towards whom I certainly have some leanings) always laud. But what about Laudato Si? Or, taken to the extreme (though really not that extreme), you could see how Catholic and Biblical teachings would counsel against investing in companies involved in finance and debt, which at this point is pretty much any publicly traded company. Drawing the line between a company that is focused on making a profit in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching, vs. a company that goes too far into greediness, has got to be a pretty subjective calculation.

Anyway, I don't know the answer, but as it concerns our various fiduciary obligations (to our families, our immediate community, our country, all of mankind and future generations), it's certainly not a black and white issue.

Chris
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Chris »

bostonimproper wrote:
Fri Mar 12, 2021 8:03 am
It does hurt to have him think me a bad or greedy or selfish person, though. I don’t know. He also feels uneasy about the idea of buying rental property (“landlords are evil”) and is only barely okay with investing in general (“capitalism is evil”). ... on the one hand, I get kind of defensive about these things because the weight of dealing with our finances is always on *my* shoulders.
The response is always, "what's the alternative?" Which is better, you buying a place to rent out, or a renter having one fewer options? Which is better, China and India turning to capitalism, or a billion people remaining in grinding poverty?

You should feel defensive! Because... what's the alternative? Through your money management, you've gotten to a point where you're < 4 years away from FI. You've previously said that work brings out the worst in you, and that it's not good for your soul. Through being active in your money management, you're setting yourself up to escape the daily drudgery and soul sucking that come with the work environment. The alternative would be years (decades) of dissatisfaction, or worse.

Hristo Botev
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Chris wrote:
Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:25 am
The response is always, "what's the alternative?"
This is a good point; be a "good" landlord, and be a "good" capitalist. Maybe the response is that property ownership and capitalism are inherently evil; I don't know. But short of that, seems to make more sense to just engage with the world as it is, in a way that will have some marginal positive impact toward making it less "evil."

ertyu
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

your husband's attitude reminds me of the saying, "there's no ethical consumption under capitalism." he dislikes landlords and investing, but what else is there to do? relying on his parents and on your superior earnings potential then turning around and talking about being ethical is on the same level as putting on your Nike sweatshop finest, hitting up mcdonalds for a double whatever burger and then talking about labor and animal rights.

I very much like Chris' suggestion to ask him how *he* thinks financial independence for you and your children will be possible if he would rather not invest.

Another thing he reminds me of is the starving children in africa fallacy -- the thing where your grandma tells you to mop up your plate because there are starving children in africa when you finishing or not finishing this meal makes zero actual difference to the conditions of any actual poor people.

Maybe he will be happier with a % of profits given to charity??

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Sorry, I shouldn’t be so defensive. I probably gave you all a warped view of my husband. He’s actually very understanding of the “no ethical consumption under capitalism” thing and understands that sometimes we make compromises to get to FIRE. He doesn’t actually think I’m “evil” (and didn’t use those words), but he is uncomfortable opting into the role of capitalist more than is strictly necessary. We’ve chatted and come to an agreement that we’re fine with keeping the ETH in our portfolio for now.

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

The walking dead

Sometimes I cannot tell if I am “doing a good job” or not at work. On the one hand, everyone I work with has given me good feedback, I’m on track for a promo soon, and I feel like I am managing a tough project pretty well. On the other hand, I have also been told they are hiring someone to either replace me or to be my manager because even with my promotion I’m a level below what is needed for this space. Meanwhile, I am also getting excessively micromanaged by that engineering director that said all the women are too emotional.

Anyway, I have decided to stop caring so much. They probably won’t fire me for at least two quarters and by then hopefully I will either have gotten a job somewhere else or I will be pregnant and it will be very awkward for them to fire me. (Is this just crass or realistic? Probably both?) So I am more or less doing my job well enough between the hours of 9 and 5 and not killing myself over every little thing because, fuck it, nobody is letting me make decisions anyway and and the nonsense that is stressing me out will be someone else’s problem soon enough.

One of my friends at work told me, “As soon as I stopped trying to fix [Company] and just focused on what’s good for me, my job became a lot easier.” I think about that often.

What will retirement look like?

This is probably me counting chickens before they hatch, but I really believe I can hit my FIRE number in the next two years. This is close enough that I need to start thinking about my post-retirement plans.

One thing is clear: I want to be a parent. But the reality is with two stay-at-home parents around, we’ll probably need other vocations, for everyone’s sanity.

Looking through my journal, I had a post about a year ago imagining different post-retirement realities. Not really sure why I thought I wanted to be food anthropologist? Though, the other stuff still applies. I will never be a great writer, but I can certainly whittle my days away with it. Or just deep dive and teach myself graduate-level economics. I think that would be really fun.

So, okay, now I have: family and intellectual pursuit engaging enough to burn through daylight hours. Is that enough? Will that keep me occupied and my soul fed? Looking at it now it certainly sounds splendid. Throw in a couple friends also early retired— helping them with random home DIY projects, bringing our kids together for playdates, going climbing or walking or just chilling in the city— and at least on paper that sounds like a really nice life. What am I missing?

The desire to “do something with my life”

I guess I worry about two things:
1. Will I feel regretful I didn’t do “more” with my life? Not making an impact that spans wider than my own tight-knit circle?
2. Will I miss the “struggle”? Will I find this life of leisure too boring and manufacture personal problems in my own life to fill the void?

I suppose there remains a nagging little bit in my brain that is telling me I should want to do something meaningful on this earth, though of course it doesn’t feel the need to disclose exactly what that something might be. And another nagging part of my brain telling me that the desire to “make impact” is just my ego trying to assert itself on the world— who am I really and what do I have to offer? And yet another brain gremlin saying that some of the worst things humanity has done has been done by ignorant people trying to “do good.”

Maybe the best thing I can do is to do nothing. Though that doesn’t feel like a satisfying answer either.

AxelHeyst
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

If you don't mind me chipping in a couple thoughts, your last section resonates with me. Just some observations about my own wrestling with similar feelings.
  • We live in a culture that hits us over the head, every single day, with a thousand messages that boil down to "If you aren't at least trying to keep up with Elon Musk, you're a loser." It doesn't really matter if you know concsiously that that's rediculous and unhealthy - our unconscious minds absorb it, and then mixes that uberambition 'pulse' with our own values and path.
  • Maybe doing nothing for now is the answer. Life *will* feel different on the other side of FTE (that's the whole point, right?), but it's pretty unlikely you'll be able to guess exactly how. The mental space and time you'll have to yourself, for introspection, as away from exterior messaging and corporate ambition culture as you can get, will allow your own authentic answers to start to be heard.
  • Those authentic answers are probably whispering constantly right now, but everything else in life is shouting. The move might be just to focus on shutting as many of those shouters up as possible, until it's quiet enough to hear the real voice that never stops.

Scott 2
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Scott 2 »

You just got a 16% raise and are on track for a promotion. How could you be anything but great at your job?

My raise last year was 6%. It was outside the published 3-5% band for our department, because they were trying to keep me from quitting. 16%??? I don't think I've ever seen that, even with a promotion. Maybe you are surrounded by tremendously exceptional people, where that's just the norm, but it seems outstanding.

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

@AxelHeyst Great point. When I think about the times in my life I have had a break— particularly when coupled with trying new things and travel— that is when I have felt most “myself.” Maybe I need to wait for anxiety brain to calm down for everything else to have space to breathe.

@Scott 2 Honestly, I think that’s just working in big tech nowadays. 6% was stock refreshers, 5% market rate increases, and the last 5% merit (average merit increase was 3%). Objectively, I am *thrilled* to get so much money (I am making more than I had ever imagined I could), but at the same time I credit macro trends for pushing me up versus my own abilities here.

ertyu
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

bostonimproper wrote:
Thu Mar 25, 2021 7:34 pm
Or just deep dive and teach myself graduate-level economics. I think that would be really fun.
As someone who did graduate level economics, my first thought was, "oh god please don't" :lol:

On the whole, I didn't think that studying graduate level economics meaningfully contributed to my intellectual development. There's two things you can do in graduate-level economics. One, make convoluted but useless mathematical models based on other people's convoluted but useless mathematical models (uselessness comes from all the "all else equal" etc assumptions one must make to be able to do partial derivatives). Two, you do fancy stats on real world data to establish whether there is any relationship between various variable of interest. But this isn't really economics, it's just applied stats/data analysis. Every now and then people do simulations, and every now and then they combine their data analysis with fancy programming to play the markets. Overall, it didn't feel particularly engaging or meaningful or like it grew me as a person -- but I suppose that's why I washed out of graduate school with a MA instead of completing my PhD.

That said, imo grad school in an area one is intellectually fascinated by is a good retirement project. Being FI lessens the stress: no one is playing for survival stakes and it doesn't really matter if you publish enough fast enough to get one of the few academia jobs available. You just read niche things about niche things that you find engaging, and you write essays telling people why they're wrong. Could be worse.

This relates to 2. from "the desire to do something with my life" - you're still accomplishing goals and overcoming hurdles and thinking about problems, so hopefully it will be meaty enough for your mind to latch onto. As for 1, a contribution to humanity's body of thought can be seen as meaningful for its own sake, even if the contribution isn't "practical" in the way engineering types like.

bostonimproper
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Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Refresh, refresh, refresh

I am doing the thing again where I update Mint every five minutes because I am feeling anxious about work (“can I retire yet? can I retire yet? can I retire yet?”). It is definitely unhealthy, but it’ll probably pass once my deadlines-on-top-of-deadlines April from hell is over.

Decentralized finance

I found this summary from the St. Louis Fed on the opportunities and risks of DeFi apps to be informative and easy to read. Would definitely recommend for the DeFi-curious.

I have been thinking a bit about how governments like the United States would operate in a blockchain-settlement world. It seems like having a public ledger is great for things like: distributing monetary incentives, auditing, tax collection, policymaking, etc. And there is existing infrastructure and thought around regulating on and off-ramps to fiat (e.g. by blacklisting addresses to holding USDC). But that still leaves a lot of gap in terms of using other tokens as intermediaries to transfer funds.

If I was the government, I would prevent custodians from interacting with other non-compliant custodians (e.g. those who don’t implement KYC), causing custodians to have a high barrier to entry to “season” funds entering the government-blessed set of nodes. So, tokens stored in DeFi apps end up being essentially useless to bring back in unless, say, a wallet gets coupled with some sort of identity verification service— at which point, sure, you can be the custodian of your own funds, but everyone knows it’s you and the government knows who to track down if inflows/outflows seem shady.

So the system looks much the same as it does today: there are some ways for people to, e.g. circumvent sanctions or engage in off-the-books transaction-making. But then there’s the need to creatively launder tokens somehow to bring large amounts back into the legitimate economy. Most financial transactions end up happening between centralized custodians on approved exchanges and accepted protocols — some of which originate out of the creativity from the DeFi movement now.

From a developer perspective, “the blockchain” is something you are aware of in proposing new protocols or applications, but from the everyday user’s perspective it’s not like you’re figuring out the best strategies for token yield farming. In terms of all the intermediary stuff— it’s like it’s not even there. Which is probably how it should be, but is a lot less sexy than the lofty ideas of “I am my own sovereign”, etc.

All the things I want to do when I get vaccinated

I find it funny and strange the things I have been craving to do post-pandemic. Some of them are obvious and feel “normal” (e.g. visit family and friends in person, get back to usual routines, etc.). But then there are the oddities which, strangely, call to me even more, like:
  • Have a stylist wash and cut my hair
  • People watch on the subway
  • Sit in a movie theater with other people breathing the same air as me
Part of me is like: I want the presence and casual touch and stink of other people, but in a way where we remain complete strangers if we even directly interact at all. I am wondering if this is how other introverts are processing social deprivation?

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