bostonimproper's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Scott 2
Posts: 1792
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Scott 2 »

As I am heading towards a break from work, I have been surprised how quickly my interest in "cool" technology has plummeted. I was listening to 2-3 podcasts a week, reaching a book per month and doing 5-15 hours in process improvement each week. That has all dropped to zero. While I have interest, I think there was also an aspect of insecurity motivating my focus.

We were just looking at a $2000 per year, per head, database product a couple weeks ago. All I could think was "I don't want to be responsible for this too." I think there is a point, where after having had access long enough, the patterns all repeat. Yes, it may technically be a better way, but that doesn't lead to a new experience of life.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

When I've taken time off, I've often felt without purpose. Sometimes I find that to be okay, other times the feeling grips me that I could fall off the face of the earth and very little would change in the world. "We're all like ants in the eyes of the universe" sort of thing.

What I find useful about work is that it narrows my focus to some achievable goals that tickle the intellect and distract me from the "why am I here" and "how can I help in this shifting world" questions. Having seen rudderless family members and friends drift into alcoholism and other addictions to salve a lack of purpose, I can't tell if this distraction is a good or bad thing.

Though I agree, I'm not going to care all that much about the latest pre-trained transformer NLP models or whatever whenever I leave this job.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

Many solve this problem by having children. Automatic meaning: no need to sort out any deep questions. Why are you doing it? For the kids. One external constraint (employment) is substituted or complemented by another - kids. One is automatically absolved of the onus of thinking deep existential thoughts making any difficult choices.

Of course the disclaimer applies: this isn’t universally true for all parents or for all employees. But it is true of a non-negligible number.

Solution two: read philosophy (says Alain de Botton). Or just practice nihilism. No essential meaning to life, therefore no need to feel distressed that one does not experience something that doesn’t exist (a sense of deeper meaning).

Solution three: volunteer or contribute to projects “for the greater good.”

Solution 4: man’s search for meaning. Brutal read, but a good one.

Solution 5: art (Rudolf Steiner) - creating art is meaningful because one contributes to the stock of human spiritual something or other. I guess doing science or writing deep thoughts would come under this heading, too.

Would any of these be more likely than the others to work as a source of meaning for you? Or do you think the sense of meaning is more biochemical, a product of how deeply your particular hodgepodge of neurotransmitters allow you to focus and engage with tasks?

I personally do not seem to experience existential distress. The realization came early: in high school we had a school trip to an island with a deer farm on it. I remember sitting on a stone by myself, watching the deer, and having the realization that none of them individually have any meaning beyond being an impersonal link in a chain that propagates life. Follow-up realization: I wasn’t any different. This did not feel like a depressive or an edgy realization and I didn’t share it with anyone. It felt neutral and impersonal, the way the deer were neutral and impersonal in the chain of reproduction. It felt like something which, calmly, just was. Didn’t bring me any distress—and didn’t change the intensity with which I experienced teenage drama :lol:.

Right now, I don’t feel like my life has any overarching meaning and I don’t miss a sense of such meaning. I do experience helping others as worthwhile in and of itself. I experience listening to friends share their problems as worthwhile. I also grieve things that I didn’t get to have in life - for instance, a supportive family with which I could feel a sense of belonging. So I am not exempt from drama still :lol: But these are not linked to an overarching grand idea of meaning.

Speaking of overarching grand ideas: religion as foundation of meaning, I suppose. The meaning of life is what your pastor says it is.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

So, you're saying existential anxiety and ennui goes away with children? Man did my parents miss that memo.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

What do you think would have given them a sense of meaning and feeling fulfilled?

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

@ertyu Nothing.

Two weeks since my last post and I still feel like I'm playing a shitty game of Monopoly while the world around me is burning to the ground.

JollyScot
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:44 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by JollyScot »

Yeah there's a lot of that going around. I'm trying to avoid the constant daily panic stream that's going on.

I'm bumbling along working and wondering what the point is when adding a few more beans to my stack of beans doesn't make much of a difference.

Then again I don't want to be made to go and collect more beans post burning either.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7077
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

There were originally two versions of Monopoly designed by its creator. The alternate version Included distributive system and the game ended when the player who had started with smallest pile of money had doubled his wealth.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

I have been thinking lately: what is my identity outside of work?

I worry that, having been sucked into the very SV mindset of working toward some *purpose* or leveraging work to accomplish some personal mission or whatever that ultimately I am tucking away who I am as a person vs who I am as a cog in the machine.

It's hard to think about what my positive identity even is though. I've often seen myself like a tiny sprout in the forest, trying very much not to get in anyone's way and thirsty for little rays of sunlight that may dapple my face. It goes back to childhood (doesn't it always), feeling that I needed to minimize my personal needs for hope that I can live a happy and peaceful existence without too much trouble to my parents or the world.

I felt really comfortable for a long time as a detached observer. I don't see myself that way anymore. Over time I've developed a natural community and feel in the thick of it. So I have a sense of belonging, but not a sense of self. In a Maslow hierarchy of needs sense, I seem to struggle greatly with with esteem and self-actualization.

In some ways, I resist the idea of both. Esteem feels fake, the product of marketing and good personal branding in a world where every introduction feels like a 30-second elevator pitch. Ditto self-actualization, rather it feels a legacy some marketer has glibly summarized in a tweet for likes and followers. It feels unnatural to force desires of my own where none exist (except children, I definitely want those).

Then there's a feeling of transcendence, of giving orientation and open-heartedness towards others. I think at various points I have been better at this than I am now and felt a better person for it. Perhaps that's where my energies are best funneled.

Cheepnis
Posts: 309
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:52 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Cheepnis »

In some ways, I resist the idea of both. Esteem feels fake, the product of marketing and good personal branding in a world where every introduction feels like a 30-second elevator pitch. Ditto self-actualization, rather it feels a legacy some marketer has glibly summarized in a tweet for likes and followers.
Thank you for writing this. I feel similarly which, if I'm being honest (and speaking only for myself since I don't know your life), just means I haven't achieved the prerequisites of the social tier. In fact I think there might be something to unpack here in that it seems adult life in our society makes it as hard as possible to achieve lasting connection, which could maybe help explain, to bring it back to ERE a little, why the it's so common to base esteem off stupid things like trucks and such. Outsourcing esteem onto external things/circumstances is a bit of a cheat to get past the social tier and into the esteem tier. Just some late-night spit-ballin'.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

imo the understanding of esteem and self-actualization we have has been skewed because of how these concepts have been co-opted by corporate culture. in its essence, esteem is nothing but being thought of as worthwhile and valuable by people in your life -- sort of, fitting and belonging in one's place in one's web of social relationships and being accepted and seen there. Having your strengths recognized, but not so much in the performance award/get a trophy/have the manager say how awesome you are but in the wordless acceptance of your value as expressed in their daily interactions with you. There's the corporate being recognized for your strengths, and there is the recognition and esteem by your family and friend group of the many ways in which you are you and make people's lives better.

self-actualization, on the other hand, has a link to lsd and shrooms which isn't often discussed. it's the orientation towards spiritual pursuits and a discovery of the facets of human nature which one arrives at once one has transcended one's preoccupation with one's more basic needs.

as for what the corporate motivational speaker/coach/consultant industry has made of them, anyone would do full well to resist them.

AnalyticalEngine
Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:57 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

bostonimproper wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 6:53 am
It's hard to think about what my positive identity even is though. I've often seen myself like a tiny sprout in the forest, trying very much not to get in anyone's way and thirsty for little rays of sunlight that may dapple my face. It goes back to childhood (doesn't it always), feeling that I needed to minimize my personal needs for hope that I can live a happy and peaceful existence without too much trouble to my parents or the world.
I've definitely struggled with this too. It was sort of the feeling of making myself smaller so I'd be less trouble for other people. It came kind of as a shock to me one day when I realized that not everyone does this. There were friends/family who were completely putting themselves out there, utterly oblivious to or unwilling to making themselves smaller for the sake of others. It was definitely a bit of a shock to realize, "wait, I can ask things of other people? I can do things for myself without trying to minimize it for the sake of peacekeeping?"

I think when you've been putting your own needs/identity second to the needs/identities of others for a long time, it's easy to lose touch of what you even want. It can take awhile to untangle what that is again. I do wish you the best of luck in discovering what it is. It can definitely be a struggle.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

Money

Some minor news: got into the double comma club this month. At the current rate, my husband and I should be roughly 4% WR in about 4 years.

A lot of the jump is from hitting my one year vesting cliff at work. I'm unsure whether to just sell the stock now (fairly volatile) and sit on cash or to trade into AMZN while I find some rental properties in Detroit area.

On rentals, I keep going back and forth on whether to buy in the city proper (EEV or Bagley) or one of the suburbs (mostly looking at Grosse Pointe). Timing is also a question, given how we're about to enter probably the worst peak we've had in the US for covid, as we're experiencing a full winter bout for the first time. Meanwhile no subsequent stimulus agreed upon while facing down split-party Congress (nothing will get passed) portends a rough economic outlook for working families in 2021.

Broken computer

On the less dire side, my computer's screen is cracked (I honestly don't know how I did it), so it's got these vertical and horizontal bars obscuring like 10% of it right in the middle. That plus the fact the keyboard is flaking out (space bar, some number keys aren't working properly) means I'm looking to buy new versus try and fix.

[Trigger warning: spendy consumerism to follow] I've been thinking of buying an iPad Pro 13" (with the Magic keyboard and Apple Pencil 2) as my primary computing device vs getting a new laptop. It's around $1700 all in, more than getting a comparable Mac Air. But it's be really nice to be able to take handwritten notes and draw (in addition to having a keyboard that just works). I'm a very visual person, and I often find myself sketching out system architectures and workflows on paper, which then gets annoying to transfer over to electronic device. I'll probably keep putting it off until 2021, maybe loosen the purse strings a little at my next vesting date or annual bonus time 3 months from now.

Work Identity & Life

I continue to believe that work brings out the worst in me as a human being. I become less generous, more demanding, venal and sometimes quite petty. I'm still well within the range of tolerable human being, but it's clear to me prolonged exposure to this sort of environment is not good for my soul.

I've been canceling a bunch of meetings to get more work done in the 9-6 hours and hiding my computer after the day is over to actually give myself space to rest. That's helped a little.

I keep hoping every month to get pregnant. In part because I feel very ready to have kids and also because I want to keep my sanity at work long enough to get that five month paid parental leave. (For those readers outside the US, fyi, we don't have any requirements for laid parental leave-- most companies give zero.) I probably shouldn't think of pregnancy as an "out", but it helps paper over the other, more plaintive disappointment in waiting.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Clearly I need to read through your journal, start to finish. But before I do, on the identity outside of work stuff, this has been a big struggle for me for the past 10 years (from about 32 to 42). Having landed the job I'd dreamed of and worked hard for, it was a difficult transition to look around at those senior to me at work and realize, "man, I really don't want those folks' lives, with the failed marriages and distant relationships with kids and 80-hr workweeks and 'work hard, play hard'" mindset; not to mention the push to bridge the "work-life balance" by creating a situation where your clients also, conveniently, are your friends with whom you socialize. I know for sure I was a whole other level of insufferable with non-lawyer friends/family for a number of years, because I almost couldn't be interested in anything or anyone that wasn't big firm/IP law related.

Anyway, for me I had to leave that job, and it's been a couple years of trying to spend more time doing stuff other than work-related stuff, from coaching kids' soccer and getting involved with my church, neighborhood, city. And I don't really socialize, at all, with people in my profession any more. But, I know I've got several more years to go before I really successfully create an identity for myself that isn't "IP lawyer."

Regarding the kids, I'll say a prayer to St. Gianna Beretta Molla for you.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

I had done pretty well the last few weeks not giving a f*** about work, but in the past couple days my rage has turned up to 11. I think I hit my breaking point, where the burnout and anger sets in and I start getting uppity at senior people who are doing their job, well, not great.

It's nearing the end of the year, so I'll be taking some time off soon. I'll probably start looking around for other jobs in January. I'm hoping to at least switch teams; I like my direct team, but all the nearby org drama is just too much for me to deal with any more. I realized a little while back that my non-compete for consulting has lapsed. Maybe it's time to start billing $350/hour for myself instead of faceless corporation.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

This past week I've started getting into digital drawing. I haven't had this much pure enjoyment-- learning something new, no expectations, see direct work product quickly-- in so, so long. It feels tremendous.

I also have started telling my close counterparts at work (the ones I like at least) that I am looking to switch teams and so I'm being more proactive setting boundaries. I'm making the choice to be less emotionally involved with the outcomes at work. For a long time I've been "thinking like an owner" and trying to fill gaps where I can to make things run smoothly. I'm shifting to "think like a competent human being who refuses to work more than 40 hours a week, and be willing to let colleagues who repeatedly ignore you fall flat on their face because it is very much not your problem." I have a solid enough reputation at this point that I can get away with just showing up and skate by for a good long while.

On the financial front, finally finished my refi, which will lower our payment 20%. I'm also going to spend some time during the break figuring out our 2021 investment plan. The markets feel so frothy, and I think they have a good couple years before collapse, I wonder whether leaning into some short term high risk trades may be worth it to accelerate FI. I worry some that this sort of approach may be a slippery slope to gambling addiction (my father lost all our money growing up on dumb, risky trades in the dot-com era), but I feel like I'm being pretty measured and being mindful about how much I'm willing to risk and how much I can lose.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

I can't tell if I'm falling into the dotcom 2.0 rabbit hole or what but in the past week I ended up adding a 2% allocation to crypto (75/25 btc/eth) and a 10% allocation to ark ETFs (50/50 arkf/arkg). In addition I ended up buying myself some RGB smart bulbs and now my house is neon and kind of lit? I can’t tell how much of this is young money FOMO vs. not being able to live my regular life for literally months vs. actual change in preferences. I can feel a paradigm shift, but am unsure if it is myself or in the world, and which one I would rather it be.

ertyu
Posts: 1680
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by ertyu »

even if you lose it, 12% won't destroy your plans. it's a modest risk, one you can easily recover from if it goes sour.

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper’s journal

Post by bostonimproper »

[removed]

bostonimproper
Posts: 299
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:45 am

Re: bostonimproper's journal

Post by bostonimproper »

My brain and feelings. I feel like I’ve lost all capacity for patience, presentness and deep thinking. It’s not that I can’t read books or listen to lectures or even watch a good film (all of which I’ve done in the past few weeks), it’s that I want them to get to the point already. Just because content is long doesn’t mean it is high-quality or informative. Has everything always been an overly verbose “think piece” (read: hot take that could have been a tweet and is taking way too long to get through) or am I just late to the party? Clearly I need to spend less time on social media— it’s destroying my brain. Where’s my dopamine hit.

It’s cold outside. I don’t like it. Also I am still not pregnant yet and I don’t like that either. So I stay inside and spend my money on obscenely expensive candles that smell like flowers and help me forget how much of a barren wasteland the outside and my insides are.

Crypto and money, generally. I ended up throwing a lot more money into crypto. As an asset class, it is around 5% of our net worth. It’s now mostly in ethereum, some bitcoin, and a little bit in a few altcoins (mostly polkadot, cardano, and tezos). I needed to take it off the net worth tracker. I can very easily see it becoming an addiction. I need to be very careful here.

Also, the online crypto community is so scammy and there are is so much young and dumb commentary in the space. On the other hand, listening to the Ethereum Foundation Core Developer updates is slightly triggering for me. Like, talking for 15 minutes about whether to merge two different commits into the next version release of the upcoming hard fork... I get more than enough of this at my job. I’ve pretty much exhausted the content that I think bridges between the two extremes. Would recommend new SEC head Gary Gensler’s MIT course on the subject. Crypto community must be thrilled he’s coming on board. The biggest threat I can see to crypto is regulatory in nature and especially non-BTC proof-of-stake coins getting hit as being classified as securities (similar to the Ripple debacle).

In other news, our net worth increased by as much as one year’s salary in six months, so that’s kind of wild. I’m on track to FIRE in anywhere between two years (if things go well) to four at the top end, barring a prolonged correction. Meanwhile, I should try to figure out what I want to do with my life instead of being this YouTube-addicted shell of a human.

Work work work. I now have a new boss. I’ve told her that I wanted to get promoted this year— I’ve gotten lots of plaudits and have done the elbow-rubbing I needed to do with the folks on the promo committee. Meanwhile, I’m also applying for other jobs. Pretty sure my company is going to see a big decline in users this year and, uh, not sure if anybody in leadership is thinking about it. Our senior folks are great at setting a forward-looking vision and terrible at the nuts and bolts of actually running a company. Unfortunately, other companies in my area don’t pay as well. Also, I probably won’t want to switch if I do get pregnant in the next few months. So, we’ll see how it all pans out.

Post Reply