Western Red Cedar's Journal

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

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Looking forward to hearing how the sourdough starter goes! My attempt at a "real" starter (no added commercial yeast) was mostly a bust, but I suspect had I stuck with it longer it'd have eventually worked. I ended up hitting the easy button and adding a bit of yeast to the starter, but I only had to do that once and now I've got a wonderful starter that puts out about 2 loaves of fresh bread a week. +1 for COVID hobbies!

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@HB - thanks for the encouragement. I'll go back through your journal to see if I can lift any tips. I ended up adding a couple plums from my parent's garden to the mixture yesterday afternoon. I was worried that because they were frozen, the yeast would have been killed. After doing a bit more research, it seems that natural yeast is quite hearty.

It already started bubbling last night, and this morning there was definitely some more activity (about 40 hours in). I've noticed more activity near the fruit. I'm not sure how it will turn out but it's fun - kind of like a science experiment.

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

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

FWIW, this was my inspiration for getting started on the sourdough (https://www.robgreenfield.org/wildfermentation/ - the sourdough part is about halfway down). I've had a lot of success with this very basic bread recipe, also; I honestly had no idea that bread was so simple and cheap--just time and labor intensive. I have to remind myself that when I was living in the Balkans in a village where folks made pretty much everything themselves, almost everyone still bought loaves of bread from the local baker, because the bread was just so cheap that it wasn't worth making it yourself. But, there's a big difference between paying a nickel or whatever for fresh-baked bread from your local baker to buying shelf-stable, heavily-processed bread from the supermarket; and, I certainly don't have access to a nickel-a-loaf local baker here in the US.

anesde
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:32 am

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by anesde »

Chiming in as we’ve jumped on the sourdough bandwagon during the lockdown. My SO and I took a class back in November 2019 at a local bakery but never really got around to making it until Covid.

It’s definitely a fun science experiment and there’s a wealth of info on the web and YouTube on how to make all things with natural yeast. Besides the typical sourdough we make pizza dough (comes out even better if you let it sit in the fridge for 6-7 days), bagels, hamburger buns, pretzels, and Portuguese broa de milho (a cornbread). Leftover sourdough starter is also delicious made just as a savoury pancake.

Once you get into it it’s fun to start playing around with different hydration levels, types of flour, and recipes.

We actually brought some to Portugal over the summer but similar to HB’s experience fresh delicious bread is so cheap and prevalent there that my family just thought we were strange for making it!

Western Red Cedar
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

My brother and sister-in law gave me a vegan cookbook this Christmas from one of the popular vegan restaurants in Seattle - Plum. They're both long-term vegetarians. I decided to keep it out on the kitchen table and brought out a couple others to look at and get inspired. One of those was Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. It turns out DW actually did a seminar with him back in college. She's full of surprises.

@HB - Thanks for the link. I devoured most of Rob Greenfield's videos after I discovered him through the forums early last year. I used the recipe from Katz's Wild Fermentation, which I think is the basis for most of Rob's recipes. He links to Katz's website. He recommends using fruit in the cookbook to introduce more yeast to the sourdough starter, and it seems to be working thus far. I'll have to see how much the bread rises though.

@anesde - Thanks for chiming in! I'll definitely plan on branching out beyond just the bread based on your suggestions. I am sensitive to gluten, but noticed the effect is much worse when I'm eating heavily processed wheat products. The RG website mentions letting the starter sit for 72 hours to make it gluten-free. In the video they talk about the active cultures that help our gut process the bread. When I was in Europe I didn't really have many issues, and I'm assuming because most of the bread and wheat I was consuming wasn't heavily processed. We spent 10 days in Lagos and Lisbon in late 2019 and loved Portugal. We stayed in the Alfama district and had amazing sunsets every morning.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I decided to take the day off work and was really glad I did. The sun was shining and there were better things to do with my time than write emails and sit through Zoom meetings. I was pretty productive this week so wasn't worried about falling behind. I can make up some time this weekend if I feel like it, but probably won't.

I spent the morning drinking coffee, poking around on the forums, and watching some Anthony Bourdain to get some inspiration for my trip planning. I watched his No Reservations episode on the Greek Islands. DW has always wanted to go to Greece and I don't know too much about the geography there. I did some research earlier this week and was surprised by the number of islands. I'm not sure if Europe will be part of the sabbatical trip, but if it is Greece will be near the top of the list. it's not exactly a budget destination, but DW loves the food and the culture/history are fascinating.

This afternoon, I took off for a 5-6 mile hike. It's been unusually warm over the last couple of weeks so most of the snow has melted off the trails. It was gorgeous and a good reminder why I'm pursuing FI. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area because it includes a large canyon that was carved out by ancient glacial floods.* Like old growth trees,geology and rock formations keep me grounded. It's amazing what a basic understanding of geology reveals when you're out in nature. It's a bit sad that most geologists outside of academia end up working for oil or development companies. Students of geology think on a different level.

Anyway, here are some photos from the hike for you fine folks. This is the hike I mentioned a couple months ago that I took some of my family on. I consciously took a few different trails and switched up my favorite route, which was great:


The sun was shining and the moon was out. It was around 35 degrees F:
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A view of my city in the background. I haven't quite rode my bike out here yet, but made it a few miles from where I took this picture. I'll get there this spring or summer. Distance is no longer the mental barrier it once was:
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One of the cool things about this hike are the various microclimates. Definitely a different vibe down in the canyon. I had a couple slips but no wipeouts:
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Looking down on the canyon:
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In the spring, the canyon is usually raging with water from snowmelt and rain. You can hike through it about 9-10 months of the year. There are usually small wetlands year round which support lots of cool vegetation and wildlife. The flora was trapped under some ice today:
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These are some of my favorite pictures of the same hike from other times:

I love this photo. Probably my favorite from this area:
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I stumbled across this one day. Maybe 4 ft. by 10 ft. - I like to think it was part of a surprise proposal:
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*For those interested in the geologic history. I always loved how the scientist who came up with the theory was derided by his peers and considered crazy for years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula_floods

2Birds1Stone
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am
Location: Earth

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I've never experienced a morning sunset, must have been the bread =p

PS, the food in Greece is not all that great if you eat out. If you cook, good access to regional ingredients by season. I've been to Kos twice and mainland Greece once in my teens. Recommend Kos!

anesde
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:32 am

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by anesde »

If you want to do Greece on a relatively low budget I’d recommend skipping the heavily frequented spots prevalent on Instagram (Mykonos, Santorini).

Some of the smaller islands are much cheaper (Spetses is nice), and you can do AirBnBs and get around on a moped for a reasonable amount. We did 4 days there for a friends wedding a couple of years ago and was about $300 all in for 2 people (excluding flights). The western mainland (Igoumenitsa) is also really nice, not too many tourists and things are much cheaper as well.

I’d recommend checking out Turkey if you go to that part of the world. Better food (IMHO), super friendly people, and can be significantly cheaper.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Anesde and @2B1S - thanks for the suggestions. Turkey is also high on the list of countries to visit. I'd be interested in any other recommendations for eastern Europe that are good value. The cat is obviously out of the bag on Croatia and I've heard costs have jumped as a result. Georgia seems popular with digital nomads due to the visa policy and COL. I've read a couple positive reviews on Albania. I'm pretty well-traveled but know very little about eastern Europe and the practicalities of slow travel there (visas, local transportation, overall "value", etc.).

I'm currently in the beginning of the planning phase, which I actually really enjoy. I find it heightens the anticipation. We may end up focusing most of our trip on Central/S. America and SE Asia. That would certainly be a bit cheaper than spending a few months in Europe.

This is one of the sites I've used in the past to get some insights into good value backpacking destinations. Feel free to provide links to others that you've found helpful.

http://www.travelindependent.info/countries.htm

ETA - Montenegro looks interesting: https://www.nomadnumbers.com/cost-of-no ... -in-kotor/

ETA - I listened to this podcast recently. It's focused on cheap international destinations, but they discuss eastern Europe near the end. I think they mentioned Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania. It sounds like Americans are granted a 1-year visa upon arrival in Albania, which is similar to Georgia. I like the author's focus of clustering countries to see more and stretch your budget. This corresponds with my general approach, and it has the added benefit of smaller environmental impacts.

https://rolfpotts.com/podcast/cheapest-destinations/
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Western Red Cedar
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

After doing a bunch more trip planning yesterday, I decided to listen to this podcast this afternoon while I was cranking through some emails. It's a overview of the approach and philosophy Rolf Potts describes in his book Vagabonding. It explores the concept of time wealth, which I think is fundamental to ERE. It reminded me that I'll be much wiser a few days into a trip, than I will with weeks or months of planning from home.

This corresponds with the general strategy I developed over multiple years - pick a general area or region, have a rough itinerary in mind, but be flexible to changes based on local recommendations. This approach has an added benefit of keeping costs down.

https://rolfpotts.com/podcast/vagabondi ... mpanion-1/

I wrote this down, which I found inspiring:

"If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, he will pass an invisible boundary, new universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish around and within him."

-H.D. Thoreau

I also listened to Potts' most recent podcast this morning, which was about a family journey in the Himalayas, and their experience at a Buddhist monastery. They were discussing the concept of attention wealth, that goes along with the notion of time wealth. The irony wasn't lost on me that I was listening to it while focusing on other work projects.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

Western Red Cedar
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@CL - Well played. I actually have a favorite pondering time too.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

List of Things to Do When I Retire:

I've been making a list of things I want to look into when I'm no longer working. Every few months when I have some time to myself I'll add a few ideas to the list. It isn't done yet, but I figure it's getting pretty long so I'll post it here. I'll try to organize it a bit better as a transcribe it digitally, but it might appear a bit disjointed. Some of it I've mentioned or alluded to earlier in my journal.

*International travel (slow travel) - as you may have surmised, travel is pretty high on my list. I'd like to stay in the same place for at least a month or two on upcoming trips. I've also thought about living in 3-5 different international cities for a year each, to get a more immersive experience in the culture. Examples include: Taipei, Berlin, Medellin, Merida, Tokyo, Chang Mai, Prague, Vienna, Edinburgh, London, Oxford, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, San Sebastian (happy with any Spanish coastal city).

*Language Acquisition - I'd like to be fluent (or highly proficient) in at least three languages. One of those includes Spanish. Another romance language would be logical, but I could also try to pick up and improve on my Korean again. This goal complements the international travel and living goal.

*Reading - I want to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 years of solitude in Spanish. I picked up a leather bound copy of the complete works of Shakespeare a couple years ago for $2. I'd like to read it. I also want to read A Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. There are plenty of other classics and great books to read, but these felt like larger goals.

*Spend one full year living at my parent's cabin/homestead - I would combine this with a major writing, or film, or photography project to document the experience. I'd love to experience four seasons up there as an adult.

*Make a documentary about my parent's cabin - I think this would be a great opportunity to experiment more formally with filmmaking. They have a really interesting story. I would love to capture it on film. I recently encouraged my mom to get all of her old slides digitized, so I have access to amazing photos from the late 60's to the late 80's. I'm somewhat connected to the local international film festival, so I think I could probably get it screened there. Possibly elsewhere.

*Volunteering - I'm open to a lot of different opportunities and probably have a lot to offer certain organizations based on my professional background. WWOOFing fits in really well with my other goals. Habitat for Humanity is near the top of my list as I'd like to improve my construction skills. Possibly something related to habitat restoration, trail building, bicycle advocacy or environmental planning - land trusts, Audubon Society, Sierra Club, etc. DW and I would possibly be open to a 2-year stint with the Peace Corps. I'm open to other international opportunities - animal sanctuaries, teaching English, etc.

*Music - I'd like to record an album. I'd be happy doing a low-key independent production, but it would be fun working on something comprehensive and holistic.

*Music - I'd like to learn/master slide guitar. I'd also like to pick up piano - nothing to fancy, but just enough to throw some chords together and experiment with songwriting.

*Surfing - I kind of gave this up after a few failures. The last was in Puerto Escondido about 9 years ago. Nonetheless, it could be a cool hobby that humbles me, keeps me in nature, and opens doors to new and interesting folks. If Nords could pick it up at 50 I should be able to pick it up at 40.

*Scuba Diving - I have my Open Water certification and probably have about 25 dives under my belt. Most of those were in Koh Tao and in Utila, Honduras. Both amazing spots. I'm not super into diving, but it's pretty amazing to experience another world under the water. I'd be happy getting my Advanced certification at some point, and this wouldn't be too difficult with our slow travel plans.

*Yoga - I really enjoy yoga but I'm basically at a beginner level. Lots of opportunities to expand this skill set while traveling with minimal costs.

*Mediation - Continue nurturing a meditation routine. I can do this anywhere and it is free!

*Workout Routines - I really enjoy going to a gym and lifting. I never thought I would be that guy, but it's nice to get out of the house and experience a different environment. I need to develop a minimalist routine that I can do on the road.

*Long-distance bike trips - I'm not quite sure if this will shift more towards bikepacking or supported touring. Possibly a balance of the two. I mentioned the Selkirk loop. I've looked into that more and was thinking it would be possible as a "vacation" before pulling the trigger on a sabbatical or ER. I'm also interested in moving through the San Juan Islands/Olympic Peninsula/Vancouver Island/Vancouver BC area on a bike. Lots of cool opportunities overseas as well - Ireland, Scotland/England/Wales, and other spots in Europe seem feasible for a novice/intermediate cyclist. Probably the most climate-conscious means of hitting my travel goals.

*Backpacking - This is one of my favorite hobbies. The three long-distance trips on the top of my list are the Pacific Crest Trail, the Wonderland Trail, and the John Muir Trail. The Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail are also up there. There are other international trails that I'd love to do as well - El Camino, Annapurna Circuit, Langtang Valley, Inca Trail. Lots of amazing 3-7 day options in the states too.

*Gardening and Permaculture - I'd like to build skills through different volunteer or WWOOFing experiences in the next 3-5 or 5-10 years, and set up my own amazing system after a nomadic period. I'm currently attracted to intensive gardening on urban lots, but can certainly see the appeal of having a homestead.

*Van Build or Rehabbing a 5th Wheel - DW isn't into this type of travel, so I'm not sure how likely this will be. My parents have two 5th wheel trailers that are relatively functional but need some internal work. It would be a lot of fun to try to rehab those with mostly recycled materials or on a uber frugal budget. I'm not a huge fan of pulling trailers or driving trucks, so I'd rather attempt a van build. But, sometimes you've got to work with what you got.

*Woodworking and Portable Sawmills - A couple years ago I tried to expand my hobbies and pursue woodworking. I wanted to build a simple, farm style table from cheap lumber. What I thought was a weekend project ended up getting extended to almost a year. I ended up buying some thick blue pine with a living edge for the top and benches. The main problem was that I didn't have any of the right tools, and neither did my dad. I also didn't have a lot of space to store materials. The table ended up looking great (you can see it in some previous pictures) but I realized I need quality tools and space to pursue woodworking. Luckily my brother-in-law was happy to help and it was a great experience working with him over the course of 4-5 weekends. A good ERE lesson about tapping into social capital and the importance of relationships.

I've done some research on portable sawmills and think this could be a good option to make some side income in ER and selectively harvest trees on my parents property. I wrote their forest management plan for their new property, and I'm very keyed into the taxation laws associated with timber and agriculture. Harvesting your own timber is a clever way to comply with open space taxation laws, while avoiding the taxes associated with large-scale harvests due to certain personal exemptions. It also allows for harvesting timber in an environmentally responsible manner.

*Forestry/land management - this represents more of an opportunity to develop income. I occasionally ask people close to me what they think I would be good at if I wanted to start my own business. Their answers always surprise me. My dad told me I would be great at developing forest management plans or working with rural land owners. I have previous professional experience in this field and understand the angle from multiple perspectives (climate, fire, taxes, habitat, market, etc.).

*Cooking with Fire - I admittedly lifted this from AxelHeyst's journal. I love cooking with fire and my annual car camping trip with a large group of friends offers some of the best food I eat all year. I'd love to explore this more.

*Making wine, beer, and cider - I currently have four different active fermentation projects, but I've never tried making my own alcohol. It looks like lots of fun and could cut down on my expenses. I think there are opportunities to build social capital and develop new networks with this hobby as well.

*Welding - Never done it, but it seems like a skill I should acquire if I'm going to be a self-sufficient renaissance man. I helped my dad do a basic weld for a copper pipe in his cabin over the summer.

*Stone work/masonry - Once again, never done it. I'm particularly attracted to traditional stone walls in the UK/Ireland, along with the stone cladding on some of their houses. My parents have a lot of nice stone on their property. Also a lot of slate around. Could make for some interesting projects, particularly in a fire-prone area.

*Ride or Walk Across America - No explanation needed. The PCT has been a life goal since I was about 20. Following in the footsteps of John Muir.

*Mosaics/Working with Tile - I've always loved the NYC subway mosaics. There is a local artist a few hours away that has done some amazing public art projects with tile inspired by those in NY. This could be really fun, and build a foundation for some less artistic/inspiring opportunities in local construction projects.

*Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation - This is probably more along the lines of a side gig than a hobby. I love historic buildings and the flavor they add to local communities. I'm pretty well informed about the tax incentives associated with different commercial and residential rehabs. I know there is a huge demand for local craftsman who specialize in certain facets of a historic rehabilitation project.

*Kayaking (sea or lake) - I've never kayaked on a sea or river - only on lakes. I would like to kayak between the San Juan Islands (Washington State) and camp.

*River Rafting - I've dabbled in it and it is lots of fun. This could be a cool way to make a bit of income as a guide in ER while getting out in nature, as long as Kevin Bacon doesn't show up.

*Boat building - there is a wooden boat building school in Port Townsend, WA that I've checked out on a few different occasions. Ironically, I think a lot of their graduates end up going into some kind of construction trade because they are highly competent with either carpentry or mechanical systems. This isn't a strong calling for me, but could be a fun idea.

*Hunting - I've never been, but have a few friends who are open to taking me. I need to take my hunter safety test, and probably acquire my own firearm. I'm primarily interested in moose, elk, or deer. I've got some good leads based on discussions with locals on my various backpacking excursions.

*Fishing - Lots of local lakes, but I'd also be interested in Salmon in the Puget Sound. Seems like a great way to spend time in nature while getting some good quality protein. Could pair well with my wine/beer/cider goal.

*Writing - I'd love to write a novel or publish a book at some point. I'd also be open to free-lance writing while traveling. This represents a great, minimalist outlet that I can tap into while traveling.

I think this could keep me busy for a while...

ETA - I forgot some of the most obvious ones:

*Cooking - I love to cook and still have much to learn. I'd love to move up the WL cooking scale. Developing a strong foundation in the fundamentals of french cooking would be great.

*Fermentation - The options with fermentation are vast. After reading through the Noma fermentation cookbook, and Katz's Wild Fermentation, I realize I could spend decades working on this. This leverages ecological and health goals as well.

*Foraging - I'd like to join a local mycology society and confidently identify other species of mushrooms beyond morels. It would be great to expand beyond berries and mushrooms - harvesting local greens and plants to add variety in my cooking.

*Photography - I have a lot of room to improve on my photography. This is an ideal hobby for travel and something I love. Four years ago I started developing an interest in photographing street art. DW had a dream of finding a vintage Parisian dress in a Montemarte thrift store. Bored, I started to notice all of the interesting street art, and photographing it with my new camera. I now seek it out whenever I travel, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into local communities. It's led us into some really interesting neighborhoods, and we've had some great conversations with locals. Some of our favorite recent travel experiences resulted from focusing on this hobby.

ETA - I'm going to keep adding to the list as ideas come to me:

Walking El Camino de Santiago - I'm not sure if this has become a bit of a cliche at this point, but I think it would be a great way to see and experience Spain. I typically backpack with a full load. My experiences in Nepal and India trekking between teahouses with a light load was great.

Mountaineering and Climbing - I'm really more interested in mountaineering as opposed to traditional climbing. I basically want to get up in high-alpine environments with great views. Mt. Adams (WA state) is supposedly fairly easy but looks fun. Mt. Hood (Oregon) and Mt. Rainier would also be high on the list. My local Mountaineers club offers classes in both climbing and mountaineering. This would be a great way to expand my social network with like-minded people.
Last edited by Western Red Cedar on Mon Feb 01, 2021 11:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 344
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Awesome list of dreams and goals; I wish you the best on them. Do you have a productivity/accountability system set up to make sure you make those dreams a reality? I've had conversations about Getting Things Done with @AxelHeyst that have really helped me in that regard.

mooretrees
Posts: 458
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 1:21 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

There's no time for a silly job with that list! Really cool and varied. I especially love the idea of living on your families land and making a documentary about it. That would an amazing accomplishment for your whole family. Especially with the old photos! Can you imagine making it and being able to watch it for years after your folks were gone? Priceless. Plus, you can write the musical score with your new slide guitar/piano skills!

anesde
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:32 am

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by anesde »

I’ve been thinking about posting my thoughts on the same; it’s interesting how much of our thoughts overlap.

Agree there’s no time for a job with all of that! :)

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@MT - Thanks for the feedback. After writing up the list I actually came up with a strategy for making the documentary happen. I've had two different ideas about this. Filming my experience living there for a year, or just doing a general documentary about the build, structure, lifestyle, etc. Right now I'm leaning toward the latter. I can do a lot of the filming and interviews with my parents (and potentially my siblings) over the summer and fall. I think the editing will take the most time. I can bring this on the road when we do our sabbatical, and it will give me a significant project to work on that I can take with me.

I've actually written a couple songs about the cabin already. One of them is very popular with my folks/siblings/and especially my young nieces.

I saw this guy opening for St. Paul and the Broken Bones a couple years ago and it hit me hard when he played this song in the middle of his set. I bought his record, had the band autograph it, and talked about the cabin with him for a while. He was pretty stoked. I would love to include it if I could get the release:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWeW_DFRQxE

@anesde - Agree as well; too much to do while maintaining a job. I'll try to check out your journal this weekend.

@RF -Thanks for the encouragement. I've followed the GTD and ultra-learning discussions. The list is my attempt to cast a wide net in terms of potential ideas, opportunities, or dreams to pursue when I don't have a full time job. I'd be pretty happy if I achieved 25-50% of what I've described here. Thrilled with anything beyond that.

I don't have any formal accountability or productivity systems in place. Part of that is because most of my life energy is absorbed with full time work. I'm usually plugging away between 8 am to 6 pm, with a long walk or bike ride to break up my day on my lunch break. I'm typically pretty drained after ten hours of meetings, policy analysis, and complex problem-solving. This isn't necessarily all bad, as I often learn a lot, take on tasks/projects that I would never do voluntarily, and help other people out. The structure of the workday also keeps me productive. I've been thinking a lot lately about pushing myself to pursue hobbies in my downtime. Work has been intense, and lately I've been happy to read a book, go for a walk, cook a good meal, or watch a movie.

------

In general, the approach I'm leaning towards is having an array of different options to keep things interesting if I'm not working full time. It is easy to really like an idea, but then realize the work necessary to actualize that isn't really worth it. Some projects or options are also just better for certain phases of life or locations.

I recognize that some of these ideas may quickly lose their appeal after trying them out. This was my experience with surfing in the past, and to a certain extent, woodworking. Of course, now everyday I sit at my table and feel a connection to it - remembering the many hours sanding it by hand, making the cuts, staining it, and getting to know the knots and grains on a deeper level. There is certainly value in doing challenging tasks. Systems and personal accountability often provide the structure to get past the initial learning phase/challenge.

Dick Proenneke said something that struck me in one of his videos. He often heard from young people in their 20's or 30's who wanted to build a cabin or homestead. He said he thought they should be out exploring the world and having adventures in their younger years - they could settle down and live off the land in their 50's or 60's. This is part of the reason why I'm prioritizing a nomadic phase in the near term.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I like the Dick Proenneke reference. I am also fully in favor of the "use ERE to strategically dirtbag throughout my twenties" philosophy, while making sure to learn useful skills along the way. Life is too short to spend years 20 through 25 in the accumulation phase. I am going to document plants and indigenous languages in South America, dammit!

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Financial Update:

457 B - 142,637
Roth IRA - 60,542
Savings - 27,590
Pension - 37,273
DW Roth - 50,784
DW Savings - 2,258
Brokerage (shared) - 21,011

NW - 342,095 (Increase of $5,083)

A year or two ago, I would have been very happy with a NW increase of $5,000+ in a month. It was a little disappointing this month - probably because I looked at my accounts a week ago and we had crossed 350k. I need to keep focused on being productive at work, living a good life, and pursing new interests; and just let the finances take care of themselves.

I opted to max out my Roth IRA this year during a couple of dips in the market this month. I kind of wished I would have waited until the drops last week, but you know what they say about hindsight. We also moved a few thousand into the market for DW's 2020 Roth IRA during a dip in mid-January. I typically just dollar cost average, but I'm sitting on about 2.5 years of living expenses in cash right now. P/E ratios seem high, but my strategy is to max out the 457, and each of our Roth IRAs, and keep any remaining funds in cash for the time being. I suspect additional stimulus funding, along with pent up demand in the economy due to COVID will keep the bubble inflating. If it happens to pop, I've still got a steady income and can take advantage of lower prices while I'm still in the accumulation phase. I wouldn't be surprised if the new administration moves an additional package focused on infrastructure and climate change later this year through the reconciliation process.


More Fun with Fermentation:

I keep pushing myself on the fermentation front - with somewhat mixed results. DW and I made our first loaf of sourdough bread this weekend. I think I made some mistakes with the starter by keeping it too liquid, but the dough rose quite a bit with only wild yeast and we called our first loaf a success. The small loaf was extremely dense, felt like a five pound brick, and reminded us of Irish soda bread. Still tasted great though, and now I've thickened the starter and it seems more active.

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I also tried a new recipe from the Wild Fermentation called Fruit Kimchi. Katz based the recipe off a description of fruit kimchi from a nun who lived in S. Korea for 13 years. Although I lived there for two years, I had never heard of it. We actually had a pineapple on hand, and some frozen plums from my dad's garden, so I decided to give it a go.

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The end result was definitely unusual. DW wasn't too interested. The fruit has a sparkly flavor, but I think I added to much ginger and garlic. I really liked the addition of the nuts though. I basically followed the ingredients in the cookbook with a couple substitutions. If we try something like this again, it will be more of a fermented salsa or pico de gallo with simpler ingredients.


Minimalism, Working From Home, and Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

I've been slowly trying to get rid of unnecessary household items over the last six months. We've made a few trips to drop off things at thrift stores, and I've been slowly giving away books I don't want or will never likely read at Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood. I've picked up a lot of books there too, and have started moving my library at work back into the apartment. Two steps forward, one step back.

I tend to be a bit of a collector (hoarder?) and have stacks of books and records in our apartment. DW is much more of a minimalist, and her wardrobe is probably half the size of mine. I'm slowly getting better.

After working from home for 9 months, I've been thinking a lot more about how unnecessary my current wardrobe appears. I have loads of dress shirts, and probably at least 10 pairs of dress pants that I've acquired over the years. Four pairs of dress shoes - 2 brown and 2 black. My office always had a business casual vibe, but I liked to look sharp and it made me feel more professional in my late twenties and early thirties when I was working with colleagues that were 20 or 30 years older. We have an expectation that you needed to look "professional" when meeting with external clients as well.

Nowadays, I tend to wear the same two pairs of jeans, along with a regular rotation of 5-7 comfortable cotton t-shirts. I'll occasionally throw on a hooded sweatshirt or my favorite flannel if it is cold. If I have a zoom meeting, I just throw on a button-down shirt or maybe a sweater. The lack of focus on a wardrobe feels great and is a good reminder of how little I need to feel comfortable and be productive. I should really move towards a more minimalist wardrobe and start getting rid of some of my professional clothes, but the hoarder instinct in me thinks these are all nice, perfectly good clothes that I should hang onto.

At this point, I'm hoping I won't ever need to work more than halftime in an office again. Hopefully much less than that. I can really see the benefit of having a small wardrobe with clothes that fit well and make me feel great.

After working from home for a while I've noticed that my sleep patterns are better, I'm more productive, and less stressed-out and anxious. A small, silver-lining in the shitstorm that was 2020.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I stumbled on this quote from a Dan Gilbert Ted Talk linked in the recommended watching thread:

“The great source of both the misery and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Avarice over-rates the difference between poverty and riches: ambition, that between a private and a public station: vain-glory, that between obscurity and extensive reputation. The person under the influence of any of those extravagant passions, is not only miserable in his actual situation, but is often disposed to disturb the peace of society, in order to arrive at that which he so foolishly admires. The slightest observation, however, might satisfy him, that, in all the ordinary situations of human life, a well-disposed mind may be equally calm, equally cheerful, and equally contented. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence or of justice; or to corrupt the future tranquillity of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horror of our own injustice.”

-Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Dan Gilbert - the surprising science of happiness:

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_t ... anguage=en

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