Western Red Cedar's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Western Red Cedar
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@ RF

You're right. The monastery I was at practiced Theravada Buddhism. I think the approach was similar to what you described, with opportunities to ask questions at least a few times over the 10 day retreat. I liked how you described the experience in your journal. It was very impactful, but also really challenging at times.

I've been lazy about meditation practices for years now. DW is an inspiration and does at least a couple twenty minute sessions per day.

One of my goals this year is to develop a better morning routine. I just need to start meditating until it becomes a habit. If I can't find 10 minutes in the morning to meditate then my priorities need adjusting.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Fitness:

I made the most of the weather yesterday before the wildfire smoke got too bad. I finished a 19.5 mile bike ride and felt great. I was going to extend my loop, but checked the air quality index first and thought it was best to call it a day. I went out on Thursday on my lunch break and finished a 9 mile ride. I really like bike rides on my lunch break because it feels like I'm burning a lot more calories than I would on my typical walks. I have a mountain bike with chunky tires so I don't seem to average more than 10 miles per hour. I've never really tracked it closely. The good news is that I used to do 7 miles, and decided I could push it a little further. I think I may be able to push it up to ten or eleven miles and still make it back in an hour.

Today I tried the fitness blender website to switch it up with an in-home workout. I chose a core workout that wasn't too difficult, but worked up a bit of a sweat. I need to continue proactively focusing on health and fitness, and develop some routines at home that work well for me.

Financial:

I've found journaling here really helpful to motivate me to take more action toward my goals. I finally sat down and worked out what my pension will pay out if I take it without penalty at 65. I only had online records for the last two years, but it was enough to make some general assumptions about a projected payment. Currently it would be about $962 per month. It is based on the five highest consecutive years, which has some financial implications on the calculation if I take a sabbatical or a couple years off work and decide to go back. If I stay put for another two years, I think my monthly payout at 65 would be a little over $1200 per month. My net worth would also see a nice bump. Staying the course means that every month I'm earning a service credit at my highest salary, and replacing one of my lowest value service credits. This (along with social security) provide me with a lot of confidence trying semi retirement and considering a withdrawal rate a bit higher than 4%. I wouldn't want to run my principal down too much, but I also wouldn't be too concerned drawing it down a little if I have a pension and social security waiting for me in 25 years.

A good portion of the mainstream FIRE community seems really focused on a conservative SWR. I think earning a higher income really impacts the way they are looking at early retirement. Once you earn above a certain level (50, 75, 100k?) it becomes more difficult to fathom taking some part time work down the road to help pad the stash. As my salary has increased, I've found myself thinking along these lines as well and I don't necessarily like it. Apparently the golden handcuffs are a real thing, even if you're planning to escape the rat race 25+ years early.

Cooking:

As I mentioned, having some accountability through journaling is quite positive. Last night I tried pickling new vegetables. I bought two bunches of radishes that were on sale earlier this week (69 cents/bunch) for pickling. I cut off the radish tops in the morning to add to my veggie scramble. For years I had been throwing these away, then last winter I found out that they were edible and have been using them in my breakfast. A win-win-win in terms of health, environment, and personal finance.

I used a "quick pickling" process and made the brine with white vinegar, water, honey, and salt. I ended up making a bit too much brine so I added a third jar for pickled carrots. I made pickled radishes with garlic and peppercorns in one jar, pickled radishes with cabbage, carrots, and peppercorns in another, and a third jar with pickled carrots and scapes which I scored for free from a local farm. I tried the radishes after about an hour and they tasted awesome. I'm looking forward to letting them sit for a few more days to try again. This process should work with most vegetables.

Reading:

I just finished The Happy City by Charles Montgomery. It had been on my reading list for a couple years now. The central theme is about how urban design impacts happiness and behavior. MMM did a review of the book here:

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/02 ... appy-city/

The author does a great job taking some of the major themes and considerations in the urban planning and design field and weaving it together in a coherent storyline. In keeping with my attempt to read multiple books within the same genres, I picked up the Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner yesterday. He's a journalist who's looking to find the happiest countries in the world. I've only made it through chapters on the Netherlands and Switzerland, but it is quite funny.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

As I was reading last night, the author mentioned a sign he saw in Bhutan that gave him pause:

When the last tree is cut,
When the last river is emptied,
When the last fish is caught
Only then will man realize that he can not eat money.

The author reflected on what it means for a country to measure success in terms of gross national happiness rather than gross domestic product. It struck me particularly hard as my community, state, and region have been recently consumed in toxic air quality and wildfires. The traditional measures of success mean little when you can't breathe clean air. They probably mean little even when you can.

As someone approaching life from a Salaryman perspective, I tend to see a healthy bank account as a secure foundation. The capital provides not only security, but flexibility. While I still believe that is true to an extent, COVID 19 and its impact on society has demonstrated the strength of ERE and a renaissance approach to life. Creative problem solving and a dynamic skill set are crucial to living a successful life. This is true whether living conventionally, or when living outside of the orthodox framework.

basuragomi
Posts: 135
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by basuragomi »

Admittedly, I only read of the metric from a half-remembered National Geographic article, but I thought Bhutan mostly used Gross National Happiness as a method to retroactively justify expulsion of ethnic minorities (1/5th the population!), via incorporating religious/cultural practices from the politically dominant faction as a metric for happiness. Maybe they weren't happy enough though.

The UK has a Minister of Loneliness so that might be a similar approach to the same problem. Though they appear to have accomplished very little due to competing commercial interests.

Re: golden handcuffs, I'm feeling that way too. I think there's a distinction to be made between work that fits within the web of goals and work that does not. I'd take far below minimum wage if it was something I'd want to do anyways - since if it fits very well with my goals, I probably wouldn't even count it as work. But a job that actively endangers me/my goals becomes unacceptable. There's also self-selection in effect where a high-pay shitty job encourages people to burn out very hard, whereas a low-pay shitty job would more likely prompt rapid quitting and re-evaluation.

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

@Basuragomi

Really interesting comment on Bhutan and GNH. The recent literature I've been reading on happiness seems to skim the surface on Bhutan, primarily using GNH as a comparison to the common measure of productivity and well-being in the west - GDP. I occasionally hear references to GNH, but admittedly don't know much about Bhutan (I did spend a couple weeks in Darjeeling, and a month in Nepal, along with a few months in different parts of India so I have a general feel for the region and culture). The current book I'm reading does provide some support that the GNH index is a legitimate government effort that supports public investment decisions and Bhutanese culture/beliefs. I read an article this evening based on your comment, and while it didn't reference GNH as a means to justify excluding Nepalese, the expulsion of Lhotshampa seems to be well documented. It reminds me of what my ninth grade history teacher told the class on the first day - everything you learn this year about history can be boiled down to power and control.

In regards to the golden handcuffs, my situation is even a bit more complicated. Most aspects of my job are great and I'm relatively well compensated. When I read about some of the other workplace experiences with toxic bosses and shitty environments it makes me feel particularly ungrateful. I have competent and supportive management, my coworkers are generally very cool, my work provides financial support for professional development, I typically learn as part of my job, and I make a positive impact on the built and natural environment. Following COVID, it seems like I'll probably have the flexibility to work from home full time for at least another year, if not longer.

My main gripe, and the reason that I'm actively pursing early retirement, is that I spend the majority of my waking hours sitting in front of a screen. I live and sleep in a box, and spend most of my time staring at boxes. I worry that I'm spending the best years of my life working in an office - even if it's a home office. When I'm doing my job well, it involves a level of conflict that can be a bit exhausting. I also have to deal with a lot of the regular salaryman crap that can get old, like unproductive meetings, passive aggressive colleagues/clients, or high expectations with limited resources.

Ultimately, I have a pretty good situation that I spent years building, so I'm very hesitant to walk away. I think I may just need some time off. I haven't taken a full week off work in a year. I'm planning on spending a full week alone in a cabin up north next month without internet access. It's one of my favorite times of the year, with the Tamarack's changing colors and crisp evenings/mornings to spend by a fireplace. I'll bring my guitar and plan on writing some songs - one of my favorite places to write new music. Lots of time for reading, mixed in with physical activities like splitting wood, felling trees, and cutting brush.

JackMoore1965
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:13 am

Re: Western Red Cedar's Journal

Post by JackMoore1965 »

Western Red Cedar wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:17 am
"Our strength grows out of our weakness" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

to this topic 8-)

Post Reply