Ha! Yes, it just adds salt to my father's wound that my professional career success was built upon my gamer skillz. The xp system is going well. I've built the infrastructure and played around tracking my life in January, and I think it'll basically work with a little tweaking to make data entry as efficient as possible. It *will* fail if it requires 27 entries every day, and if it isn't easy to scribble a couple notes on days when I'm away from my computer. The point of the system is a) to be inherently fun and b) to lubricate the process of improving my self. Which is fun.
A rather epic windstorm ripped up my local area Monday night. Power only came back on yesterday evening, Saturday. We ran everything off Serenity's batteries, even ran an extension cord back to the main house to get the router/internet working. We're about to get hit with a couple "big for 'round these parts" storms, which according to neighbors is 2-3ft of snow per dump. We call it "sierra cement", the really heavy wet stuff.
Speaking of my father, he got interested in my explanations of my life planning (which he calls "complex", to which I reply "Exactly!"), and read my copy of ERE (which he charmingly pronounces "EEry"). Our conversations led in to the deeper philosophical/worldview foundations for exactly why ERE resonated with me so strongly, and he asked me for a reading list. I reproduce it here:
Some of the titles that are on both lists are because they discuss both The Problem and A Solution in some depth. I don't necessarily agree with all of the books, in fact some are on the list because I disagree with (a part of) them in a way that is informative to the rest.
What's the Problem?
What To Do About It / Some thoughts on how then to live.
- Overshoot. William Catton.
- The Long Descent. JMG.
- Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush. John Michael Greer (JMG)
- Muddling toward frugality. Warren Johnson.
- Civilized to death. Chris Ryan.
- The Wizard and the Prophet. Charles C. Mann.
- Limits to Growth. Donnela Meadows et al.
- The Collapse of Complex Societies. Tainter.
- Ishmael. Daniel Quinn.
- What we think about when we try not to think about climate change. Per Espen stoknes.
- Green Illusions. Ozzie Zehner.
- Dark Age America. JMG.
- Feral. George Monbiot.
- Capitalism: A Ghost story. Arundhati Roy.
- The End of the Long Summer. Dianne Dumanoski.
- Being the Change. Peter Kalmus.
- Early Retirement Extreme. Jacob Lund Fisker.
- Muddling toward frugality. Warren Johnson.
- Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush, JMG.
- Green Wizardry. JMG.
- The Ecotechnic Future. JMG.
- Voluntary Simplicity. Duane Elgin.
- Radical Homemakers. Shannon Hayes.
- Ecovillages. Karen T. Liftin.
- Entropia. Samuel Alexander.
- The Retro Future. JMG.
- Tending the Wild. M. Kat Anderson
- The Five Stages of Collapse, by Orlov.
- We're Doomed. Now What? Roy Scranton.
It's time for me to fill in that huge gap in my knowledge. An education in finance, economics, and investing. I'm so illiterate in these areas its embarrassing. I was planning on doing my next ultralearning project on [a form of digital art I'm interested in], but I'm already decent in that discipline. The renaissance ideal demands that I fill in the gaps that are likely costing me real life value.
If anyone is interested, I'll post my more detailed plan, but it essentially looks like this:
Preamble, by end of January:
Read Financial Intelligence by Karen Berman and Joe Knight to get myself oriented. I highly recommend this book to anyone starting at ground zero.
Information Intake, by End of June:
Read Economics (McConnel), Investing (Bodie), and Financial Reporting and Statement Analysis (Stickney, Brown), as well as a smattering of online resources I'm picking up.
Mock investing and analysis of financial statements. I'll begin as soon as I know enough to find my own arsehole with both hands and a flashlight, which at the moment would be a big lift.
I'm assuming I don't know enough to know how to design "the best" curriculum for myself, so I anticipate tweaking the plan throughout as I learn more.
A reasonable amount of time to take all this in is probably around 300hrs, so I'm aiming to utilize Scott Young magic and get 150hrs (1.5hrs/day, 5days/week, Feb-June). If that's not enough, I'll keep going.
My practices will emphasize active recall
and direct practice
, such as creating a question book (sort of like flashcards, but more suited to understanding concepts rather than facts) and doing mock investing.
I'm reading Steinbeck's East of Eden for the first time, and this paragraph leapt off the page:
John Steinbeck wrote:"In human affairs of danger and delicacy successful conclusion is sharply limited by hurry. So often men trip by being in a rush. If one were properly to perform a difficult and subtle act, he should first inspect the end to be achieved and then, once he had accepted the end as desirable, he should forget it completely and concentrate solely on the means. By this method he would not be moved to false action by anxiety or hurry or fear."
This captures completely the theme of my personal growth over the past several months, and more broadly the essence of the lesson I'm beginning to suspect I was born to learn (by being constituted exactly the opposite). I think I mentioned The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner earlier, which is a whole book on this topic that I return to every couple of years.
From a young age, when there was some goal I wanted to accomplish, I would tense every single muscle in my body and strain to my maximum capacity to make it happen, giving no thought to technique or forethought. I am the caricature of the gardener getting down on hands and knees and getting face to face with the brave little delicate shoots and screaming "GROW, DAMMIT!!" My yoga instructors had much fun with me.
Recently, I've invited what are for me normal levels of stress in to my life by putting too much focus on getting the container build to a certain point by a certain date. I convinced myself it was important to invoke a sense of urgency due to the immanence of winter. Of course, the result is that I'm a grouchy stress-ball and tend to screw up whatever it is I'm working on and have to go back and redo it because I was rushing, taking longer to accomplish my goals than if I just relaxed and focused only on doing a good job, winter be damned.
For example, the container isn't level, not even close. I figured it was more important to get it insulated and framed before leveling it, even though I knew that ideally you start your build with a level base. Well, I came to some work on the door, and the non-levelness of the container was going to make success unlikely. So for the past three days I've been lifting one end of this 11,000lb+ box a fraction of an inch at a time, and it needs to come up about a foot.
I'm only about halfway there, and already the door won't close because the frame is getting tweaked. I'm going to have to take the door and the frame off and re-hang the frame, re-hang the door, and *then* get back to whatever it was I was doing.
DW and I are living here in far from optimal conditions, which is part of my sense of urgency. But also I want it to be *nice*, because I want my lady to have a nice space to live in. So I've added this extra source of stress, which is that I'm a bad DH because my lady and I are living in a tiny metal shoebox in the cold mud and the only way out of it is to get this build done as quickly and nicely as possible. So I try to go fast. But every time I go fast, I screw something up, at which point I have to decide am I going to rip it apart and re-do it so it's nice, which will take longer, or just sort of duct-tape it and keep going and hope it doesn't fall apart and force me to redo it, which will make it not nice? Either way I lose. And I really, really dislike losing.
[It occurs to me that this way of acting about things has been imprinted on my brain from my career, where due to razor-thin margins it's always "go as fast as possible, get it done and out the door and then it's someone else's problem. It just needs to be good enough that they're not going to sue us in to redoing it on our own dime." This is one reason why I'm so attracted to the idea of RE -- I'll be able to begin the long process of deprogramming this dysfunctional approach to work.]
The secret, of course, is to do whatever I have to do to make myself forget the deadline, the schedule, the rush and the hurry, and to bring my focus only on to how to do the best, most appropriate job on whatever it is I'm doing today. And in so far as I can pull that off, the result will be the nicest, fastest container build you ever saw, even though that's not what I had in my head at any given time. AND - my stress levels will be much lower, I'll enjoy the process more, and I'll be prouder of the end result.
But I have to trick myself to pull this off. My temperament and my career conditioning won't let me turn on a dime and just "focus on the process" all of a sudden. What I *can* do is a short experiment. I can make myself do anything if it's an experiment.
Beginning a couple days ago, my experiment is this: "Forget how long things take. In everything, focus only on doing it as thoughtfully and deliberately as possible, with as little attention given to speed as possible. At the end of the experiment, think back and reflect on how well things got built, how much progress was made, and your psychological well-being."