AE's Journal Round 4

Where are you and where are you going?
classical_Liberal
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by classical_Liberal »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:59 am
but it actually just makes me nervous.
In my experience several factors influence this. Disposition being one you can't really control, so embrace it and invest appropriately.

The more you have, the more reliant you are on it, and the more you actively spend time thinking about money (I don't mean managing it appropriately), are all somewhat controllable factors. Minimize all of these and decrease your nervousness.

5ts
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by 5ts »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 9:37 am
On Hobbies
The problem with a lot of modern "hobbies," such as video games, Netflix, social media, what have you, is that they are essentially dissociative. That is, they are designed to alienate you from yourself by encouraging states where you are essentially stuck inside your own head and forget the physical world/your body exists.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have played games since childhood, but currently I do not own a system. I love movies and reading. Zero social media. What hobbies do you suggest that aren't dissociative? It seems like the only hobbies that are not dissociative involve sports. Learn an instrument, build something, learn something? Everything I do is in my head. Video games, in moderation, seem no different to me than reading a (fiction) book or watching a movie. All in moderation do not seem particularly harmful, but I am willing to consider it could be if you feel like exploring this. What are you doing with your time?

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by ertyu »

Consider transformative fandom: fanart, fanfiction, cosplay

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 3:04 am
Consider transformative fandom: fanart, fanfiction, cosplay
Interesting you should mention this because transformative fandom is actually what derailed my life for several years. I am ashamed to admit it, but I was spending hours a day on fanart/fanfiction/etc. And while it did improve my creative skills to some extent, I now regret all the time and years of my life I spent on it. It's the whole notion of opportunity cost. And at its root, all fandom, even transformative fandom, is still a form of consumerism. Consider that you could be working on the same projects that are completely independent of fandom. (Sewing instead of cosplay, writing a novel instead of fanfiction) Also consider that anything you make in fandom is essentially free advertising labor to media companies. I do agree that transformative fandom is better than pure consumptive fandom because you are building skills, but man do I regret all the time wasted and opportunities I missed from getting sucked down that rabbit hole.

(I can write more about how fandom is not dissimilar to religion in the role it plays for some people if anyone cares)
5ts wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:30 am
What hobbies do you suggest that aren't dissociative? It seems like the only hobbies that are not dissociative involve sports. Learn an instrument, build something, learn something? Everything I do is in my head. Video games, in moderation, seem no different to me than reading a (fiction) book or watching a movie. All in moderation do not seem particularly harmful, but I am willing to consider it could be if you feel like exploring this. What are you doing with your time?
I think we have to be careful with the "in moderation" argument. It's not that these things are necessarily strictly harmful, but in today's attention economy, there's a lot of effort on the part of media companies to make us believe we're all acting in moderation when we're not. And while I do engage in reading and watching movies still, I try to be extremely mindful of what I'm consuming and who benefits from the act of my consumption.

For example, older video games are less addictive than modern video games. Let's compare the original Mario game to Fortnite. In the original Mario, you simply beat the game and that was that. There was no social community around the game back when it first came out. And because Nintendo made money on just the sale of the game, their effort went into just making it fun.

You take something like Fortnite, and the entire game is based on making you play it as long as possible. They do this by taking advantage of human psychology. Loot boxes are simulated slot machines, the way matches etc are done is a skinner box.

The problem is that even things like movies have to compete with social media for your attention. An hour on Facebook is an hour you could have spent on Fortnite. Thus we have a race to the bottom of making things as addictive as possible in order to compete with each other.

I'm still trying to decide the best way to approach this problem, but so far I have found this stuff helps:
1. Slow down generally and enjoy sensory experiences more. For example, if you take 20 minutes to really savor a cup of coffee, that's 20 less minutes spent on a dissociative hobby.
2. Prefer older media. I've taken to getting movies on VHS at the thrift store or sticking with just DVDs from the library. The self-contained nature of this medium makes it less likely to "binge" on it. The movie ending is a natural cue to go do something else. This is in stark contrast to Netflix autoplay, which encourages you to watch more. Likewise, I try to listen to music on the radio instead of Spotify for the same reason. (Bonus that no one can track you!) [1]
3. Physical craft hobbies are great. Things like knitting, cooking, wood working, gardening, etc tend to be pretty time consuming. You naturally have less time for dissociative hobbies when you are busy.
4. Whenever you consume a piece of media, ask yourself who benefits from you consuming it and be mindful of what they might be doing to steal your attention from their competitors.
5. I try to save movies/novels for when I am so dead tired I can't really do anything else.

I'm currently reading "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy" by by Jenny Odell. This is a pretty good box on the topic. I'm not quite done with it yet, but I've found it enlightening so far.

I'll write more about this topic as I figure out how to structure my life without dissociative hobbies.

[1] I'm finding VHS to be a particular fun medium due to just how physical it is. For example, I got one tape that I need to fix before I can watch it. And another warped such that it won't fit in the VCR any more. Getting these old tapes to work is surprisingly fun because I feel like I'm learning very minor mechanical skills as I go.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

I'm reading Dark Age American, and one of the points JMG makes is about economic in intermediation. That is, when you earn a wage, you have government and private parties inserting themselves between you and the other party, and those institutions all take a cut of the transaction. Thinking about this more, your employer has to pay taxes on you as an employee, you have to pay income tax, and then when you buy stuff, you have to pay sales tax. This amounts to a large amount of your productive resources taken away by intermediaries.

Note that I'm not opposed to taxation generally, as we do need to live in a functioning society, but it also shows that doing stuff yourself saves an awful lot of money because you've cut out all the middlemen. Paying $20 for dinner is about $10 wasted in income/sales tax, property tax for the building, etc. Plus there's the fees tacked on by credit card companies, lenders, etc.

This is, of course, a point I've been aware of for years, but I tend to forget it. It's yet another reason the $7k JAFI seems so low to people unaware of the systems foundation. Spending $7k as a normal consumer involves a lot of waste in transaction costs. If you spend $7k without transaction costs, it's probably closer to $14k in consumer-value-fee-land.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by jacob »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:07 am
This is, of course, a point I've been aware of for years, but I tend to forget it. It's yet another reason the $7k JAFI seems so low to people unaware of the systems foundation. Spending $7k as a normal consumer involves a lot of waste in transaction costs. If you spend $7k without transaction costs, it's probably closer to $14k in consumer-value-fee-land.
Systems design opens up channels beyond just cutting out the middlemen on the dollar-channel. It also reduces or eliminates losses on the time-, stuff-, and overhead-channels. I'd estimate that my $7k lifestyle would cost around 4x as much if you had to go out and pay retail. Each kind of capital (ERE book chapter 4) has a channel associated with it.

As a recovering physicist I see these channels as a vector field with "the market economy" being able to convert some of them (a matrix operator) into dollars via a job or vice versa via spending. Other behaviors, e.g. bartering, can also convert them into each other outside of the dollar-channel.

5ts
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by 5ts »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:56 am
For example, older video games are less addictive than modern video games. Let's compare the original Mario game to Fortnite. In the original Mario, you simply beat the game and that was that. There was no social community around the game back when it first came out. And because Nintendo made money on just the sale of the game, their effort went into just making it fun.
I don't know my friend, I was much more hooked on Mario era NES than I am with any modern game. The video game obsession back then might have been a result of no agency associated with that age. I also spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid. At that point I was either obsessively playing video games or playing outside. The world is much bigger now as an adult.

I think I see clearly where you are coming from now, not that you haven't made this clear already. It's about mindfulness and the effects of social media. I don't really have a problem with either, so I guess I'm good to play the occasional video game or watch movies. I hate social media. The idea of linking people is great, but then the whole system devolves into some sort of chaotic shitshow.

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:56 am
2. Prefer older media. I've taken to getting movies on VHS at the thrift store or sticking with just DVDs from the library. The self-contained nature of this medium makes it less likely to "binge" on it. The movie ending is a natural cue to go do something else. This is in stark contrast to Netflix autoplay, which encourages you to watch more. Likewise, I try to listen to music on the radio instead of Spotify for the same reason. (Bonus that no one can track you!) [1]
...
[1] I'm finding VHS to be a particular fun medium due to just how physical it is. For example, I got one tape that I need to fix before I can watch it. And another warped such that it won't fit in the VCR any more. Getting these old tapes to work is surprisingly fun because I feel like I'm learning very minor mechanical skills as I go.
Interesting, because a broken VCR is what get me into electronics, in general. The tape wouldn't eject so I had to disassemble the VCR to fix it. When I opened that box something switched on. Old media are cool, but the vinyl record resurgence is something I will never understand. Sound quality is worse and records are cumbersome and bulky. It is cool to watch the record spin though.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@5ts - I definitely planned more video games as a kid too. I think it's a combination of inherently having more freetime, less agency to do things, and the fact you don't really have any intrinsic goals as a kid aside from "have fun." I have also noticed that time seemed slower as a kid. Playing 3 hours of video games as an adult feels like nothing, but 3 hours as a kid felt like an eternity.

Mindfulness and avoiding social media is definitely the biggest part of it. I would go as far as to say no social media usage is healthy, but I know many will think I am extreme in that regard. But as someone who has done web development as a hobby since circa 2001, I just cannot understate how much social media ruined the internet lol.

I do think there's something nice about the more tactile nature of old media. Pulling the tape out of its case, watching it, then having to rewind it just added more "ritual" that makes the experience less dissociative. Plus the general shoddier nature of old tech, paradoxically, has advantages. Case and point, I don't know if I'd ever become a programmer if I never learned to fix all the arcane problems in Windows ME out of necessity.

Anyway, I'm currently deciding how much old tech to use or if I should just give up and """upgrade""". Take streaming for example. Streaming can have an appeal because you don't have all these bulky tapes, everything new is released via streaming, etc. And yet, Netflix alone consumes 20% of the US's total Internet bandwidth. It's pretty easy to think these electronic services are """free""" from a resource standpoint because we as the consumer only see the magical stream of Netflix. But the electricity cost of the servers, upgrading the server equipment, hiring the programmers, the need to upgrade a smart TV when planned obsolescence and software upgrades make it useless, etc are all very real costs of streaming that can be easy to overlook.

I'm currently having this dilemma with music. I prefer to have things on CD, and yet there's basically an endless buffet of whatever music you want available for streaming on YouTube. Is it better for me to buy/burn CDs and listen to those? Should I just give up and lock myself in to the evil of Google/need for home Internet? All this physical media takes up space, and yet digital media takes up space too, just space somewhere else.

I think what I'll do is try October with basically a 90s level of technology and see what I learn.

@Jacob - Thanks for the clarification. I've been thinking about what you said, and theses other dimensions are definite just as/if not more important as the dollar-channel. It really does require planning things out more holistically, but the benefits are dramatic. I'll have to start thinking about how to apply these other channels to my system.

5ts
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by 5ts »

I don't keep stuff in general, and video game systems specifically, but I have kept my original NES and games from childhood. It's in a small box, and I have to lug it around everywhere when I move constantly, but I keep it nevertheless. I play it occasionally. I guess I'm stuck at a 90s level of tech. Maybe late 90s. I only buy CDs. I remove the disc and liner notes from the case and put them in a CD case. Not very bulky. All of the bulk and weight is in the plastic case. I don't stream or buy compressed music from those sites. I like full CD quality. I stream youtube at 480p because I am aware of all of the costs associated with streaming, as you mentioned. I'm not saving the world doing this, obviously, but every little thing could count. I think the video streaming subscription sites have terrible selection, and you're better off renting a dvd from the library.

About the water situation in Colorado, where do you look for information and what are your thoughts currently? I'm thinking CO will be a waypoint for me in the future, if not a permanent settlement, water situation allowing, so I'm very interested in this.

jacob wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:47 am
Perhaps Jacob could please chime in with his thoughts on the long term water situation in the West, and specifically Colorado?

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@5ts - Sadly I haven't had the opportunity to do a ton of research yet. I do know at least Colorado won't be as poorly off as some other states due to the relatively cool climate here. The biggest dangers are wildfires and drought. Colorado is also pretty unique because different parts of the state have distinctly different biomes. However, the harsh sunlight, early frost, and dry conditions make growing crops here pretty difficult. Most agriculture in the state is ranching for this reason. Still, the Fort Collins area/near the Poudre is pretty wet for the state (if not subject to flooding a la the Fort Collins flood in the 90s). There's also near Grand Junction that's not bad. The western slopes used to be under a lot of glaciers/ancient lakes, so the soil over there is a lot better than the eastern side of the state, which is pure grassland/hail.

Anyway I am still researching this, so I will be posting more as I compile everything.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

October Goals

I'm going to try and get back on track here by breaking out my goals every month. For October, I will be tracking my spending again, as well as trying to keep better track of the non-financial costs of things I do. The goal here is to eventually come up with a much better engineered life system than just accepting what haphazard habits/etc happen into my life.

These are my current areas of focus. It's probably too much to do all these in just Oct, but I'm keeping them in mind for the future:

1. Time management/strategic planning
I'll be reading the GTD book and implementing what I learn from it. I'll also make use of my daily checklist and the pomodoro technique to stay focused on tasks.

2. 90's tech challenge
For the month of Oct, I'll be trying to live with a level of technology present in the 90s (well maybe early 2000s.) In practice, this means no social media, no streaming/YouTube, phone only for text/call, no GPS. I'll be limiting my visits to this forum to just once a day. Email will be checked on the computer. I will still be using CDs/DVDs/VHS for entertainment. I will be using the library for any information I need to research in Oct. The goal here is to really be mindful of how/why I'm using technology.

3. SNAP Challenge
I'll be trying to keep my food spending under the SNAP benefit amount. In Colorado, that's $194/month for one person. That actually seems really high by ERE standards, but I'm starting here as a baseline. I'll be calculating how much each meal costs to make too.

4. Fitness
This is a tricky one because I've been basically a couch potato my entire life. But I need to do way better here while I'm still fairly young. I'll be getting some exercise science books at the library and put some thought into a proper exercise routine.

5. Decluttering
Still working on this one for months. I'm slowly getting there. I can honestly get rid of about 50% of my stuff, and it would be a net benefit of avoiding "infrastructure debt."

And eventually, I need to find a way to put myself out there more and meet people/develop social capital, but this has been on hold essentially due to the pandemic.

Hristo Botev
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by Hristo Botev »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:12 am
3. SNAP Challenge
I'll be trying to keep my food spending under the SNAP benefit amount. In Colorado, that's $194/month for one person. That actually seems really high by ERE standards, but I'm starting here as a baseline. I'll be calculating how much each meal costs to make too.
This is interesting; can I ask what prompted this; and what you're hoping to learn/achieve? I'm definitely going to be following to see how it goes. DW used to work at a WIC clinic and so I really should know how these government food programs work, but I wasn't a very good listener back then, and so sadly I really have no idea. That said, I think my family is one of the (or, perhaps, the) spendiest on this forum, in terms of food; but my quick Google search says that our spending from last month was right at what a household of 4 could expect to receive in SNAP benefits in my state. That's really hard for me to believe, given our tendencies to buy expensive yuppy-approved locally-sourced meat and farm share veggies and cheese.

Hristo Botev
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by Hristo Botev »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 9:12 am
2. 90's tech challenge
Apologies for the repeated interruptions to your journal, but in The Revenge of Analog, David Sax talks about the "finishability" concept of analog technologies--i.e., reading a book/article in a print vs. reading the same article online, with its limitless links to other stuff you want to read also; and this same concept can apply to how we listen to music, watch tv/movies, and so on. If you're looking for some retrogrouch inspiration, I'd recommend Sax's book, if you haven't already read it.

I agree with you that music is a challenge, though; We tend to listen to records or CDs (or the radio) when we're at home, but I don't know that I'm quite ready to dig up the old Sony Discman for my walks to/from work. Honestly, I'd probably be better served by just NOT listening to music (or podcasts) on my walks in to work, but rather just be present as to what's going on around me. That might make listening to music a bit more of an intentional experience, when I get home in the evenings and on the weekends, rather than just something that's always on in the background to keep me from being left with my own thoughts.

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by ertyu »

About the snap challenge: what % of a min wage person's monthly income (assume 40 hrs/wk and 4 wks/mo) would this be? Food is an area I need to work on, too, so I'd like to make the challenge somewhat comparable to account for differences between countries. I will try to stay within the same % of a local full time monthly min wage.

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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by jacob »

It's pretty easy to beat SNAP iff you stay away from preprocessed and ready-made dinners and cook everything from staples. If you don't, it's a challenge. There's a bit of Captain Vimes Boot's theory going on with SNAP in terms of food deserts and surplus energy to cook after working two+ part time jobs. Figure SNAP to be around 20% of a min wage income, so basically conforming with the percentage normal people otherwise spend on food.

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by ertyu »

that would be 122 local currency units per month for me. looking tough from where I currently stand, but then that's why they call it a challenge :muscle:

Hristo Botev
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by Hristo Botev »

ertyu wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:00 pm
Hmm, I'm really bad at math; so perhaps someone else can figure this out. Without digging too far into this rabbit hole, if the minimum wage in Colorado is $12/hour (it's one of those progressive states; ha!), working 40 hours/week I think would make you ineligible for SNAP. Here's a calculator https://gapmap.org/calculator/ If you go with the federal min. wage, of $7.25/hour, looks like the most you could get--assuming you're not paying for dependents, etc.--is $129/mo. (which would require that you're paying at least $900/mo. rent, so that (I guess) your leftover disposable income is no more than something like $260).

Anyway, if you go with the federal minimum wage, and without factoring in the income caps on the benefit, $194/mo. is 17% of $1,160/mo. ($7.25 x 40 hours x 4 weeks).

ertyu
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by ertyu »

103.7.

eek

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:39 pm
working 40 hours/week I think would make you ineligible for SNAP. Here's a calculator https://gapmap.org/calculator/ If you go with the federal min. wage, of $7.25/hour, looks like the most you could get--assuming you're not paying for dependents, etc.--is $129/mo.
Huh interesting. You have to plug in less than $300/month income into that calculator to get $194. Maybe I should go with $129 in food expenses then. That seems like it's a lot more challenging than $194.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: AE's Journal Round 4

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

[Disregard post]

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