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Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:08 am
by Seppia
bigato wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:47 pm
Some minors updates. I'm living at the new place and it already feels like home.
What a fascinating post.
I started reading a few recent entries of your journal, will start from the beginning soon.

I'm always blown away by how diverse and interesting the population of this forum is. I should read more journals.

Please keep hanging around!

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:19 am
by bigato
well why, thank you Seppia! I even went back to read my post again to try and understand why it made such an impression on you. Maybe it is just because around here we have some people who are very different from the norm and sometimes we see ourselves reflected in others in ways that we didn't think possible. Or maybe some people act some way that we never thought possible. Well those same reasons tend to keep me hanging around :)

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:05 pm
by bigato
These last days were crazy. Investments increased in value something like 6 months of expenses in the last three days!

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:09 pm
by Seppia
bigato wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 11:19 am
why it made such an impression on you.
In short, it’s the calm attitude you keep in describing as natural and positive what 99.99% of the western (and much of the eastern) world would consider an incredibly stoic life.
There is literally zero feeling of deprivation and struggle coming out of your post.

The only thing transpiring is a person who is comfortable with himself and his life in a way that must be very fulfilling.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:31 am
by horsewoman
Hi bigato, I really like your Journal! Any news on the diagnosis front? I ask because the same questions have been turning around in my head a few years ago. My daughter was very different to other kids from day one and around 6 years we hit on Aspergers. Since my mother’s friend is a child psychologist, we were able to get an “unofficial diagnosis” but have not pursued an official one, since we manage tolerably well. While getting immersed in Asperger’s research it became really clear that my brother, my father and I are on the spectrum as well – it sure explains a lot of things…
Like scott2 I feel like getting really into the coping mechanisms and things like that is probably more helpful than a diagnosis, but YMMV. There is a certain stigma, but I feel like this is worst in the US were “Autism” is somehow connected to “school shootings”. Here in Germany, where logic and rationality are lauded above everything else, most Aspergers can at least shine in a work environment to some extent, though socially it is as difficult as everywhere else I suppose.
I can also relate to your thoughts on intelligence/IQ. My siblings and I are either above average or very much above average in case of my sister (the only one tested of us), and my daughter is gifted as well. I found it very hard to talk with other mothers about my child because it will always be received as bragging – meanwhile having a gifted autistic child is no walk in the park… I think it is doubly hard for Aspergers because we like to say things as they are, it is stating facts, not bragging. But most people cannot deal with this bluntness and think we are arrogant. It is a lifelong process, this “fitting in” business, that’s for sure. At least I’m glad that a few other Aspies are on this forum. In real life very few people are interested in the same things, it feels really lonely very often.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 1:50 pm
by frihet
Do you have any links to/ pictures on the tatami mat you're sleeping on? I'm inspired to get something thin myself as a warm up to India.

I do believe that soft beds makes you soft ;) It's even one of the rules of the Buddha, it's forbidden for a buddhist to sleep on high and luxurious beds. Not that i consider myself a buddhist. But why argue with sages?

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:24 am
by bigato
horsewoman: i can imagine it must be so much harder for women to cope, since culture in most places usually expects them to act in ways that are so far away detached from what an autistic person's typical personality. Also it is much harder to just get to the diagnosis since it is seen as a boy's problem. I can say that my teen years and my youth would have been so much easier had I at least *known* that there were other people similar to me; not only that but there were a whole category to classify us. It would have been so much better than feeling inadequate and wrong, and not quite being able to put my finger on what exactly was "wrong" about me.

I talked to a friend who works with autistic children and teenagers, and she recommended me to another psychologist who is used to diagnosing autism in adults - which is usually classified as Asperger's by the time you are grown up. I'm just postponing it a bit since I don't like too many things in my life at once, and I'm still solving some things about moving to a new house, like getting the previous rental company to give me back my deposit. Also, organizing and minimizing my new life. I think I'll probably consult with him in July. But I've been reading more about autism and specially I'm reading what other autistic people wrote, as per Scott2's recommendation. There's a website with a forum for autists, I didn't register there as this forum is already too much for me to keep track off, but I learned some enlightning stuff reading them.

frihet: it is a type of E.V.A mat commonly used in bjj and judo gyms, you can try to google something local that sells those near you. Because i live in the B of bjj, it was very easy for me to acquire. If you can't find them, any japanese tatami would do. I slept on those for a while in the past, both the traditional type made of rice straws, and the more modern, syntetic material ones. I don't highly recommend the traditional one as it tends to get humid and deteriorate faster. But really, all you need is something to isolate you from the cold. It could even be a wooden surface and you put some thicker blankets under you so that it is not so umconfortable in the beginning. If you are overweight, it will be harder for you. But it also helps you become more conscious of your habits. For example, when you eat stuff with too much salt, you body becomes stiffer, specially the area around the kidneys, and since you sleep on a harder surface, you can tell.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:29 pm
by frihet
Thank you, actually, I do have a foam plastic rolled up thing for camping so I can just use that one. That be easiest. As I have traveled India/Nepal for one year before I've slept on hard beds, but now I've gotten spoiled again. But I'll get used to it quickly. As I've gotten older, I've gotten stiffer. So to get away from chairs and luxurious beds sounds like a plan to counter that. Thanks for the inspiration.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:30 pm
by bigato
You're welcome! :)
I've used those camping mats before, but usually they are too narrow to save space and that's really anoying as a everyday sleeping arrangement. There was a time I used two of them side by side and that was better. Also it will depend on how cold your sleeping ground is, since the temperature is the most important factor. Some years ago when I used to sleep like this all the time, when there was a day that was too hot, I'd sleep directly on the ground over only a sheet, because then it wouldn't be so hot. Nice when temperatures are over 35 degrees celsius *at night* as maybe you can find in India sometimes. But the colder the ground is, the more isolation you need. The simpler foam mats for camping are not very adequate for lower temperatures.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:56 pm
by bigato
Seppia: very nice that you explained it out, since I haven't noticed the reasons. This is interesting to talk about. Indeed, a lot of people would say I'm depriving myself or something to that effect. Yet when we think about the conditions that a huge part of the population of the world lives in, suddenly it doesn't look so absurd. Like compare how people in asia sleep, or how in middle east they receive guests on rugs. That's not out of deprivation as you could argue it may be in some places in Africa, for example. It is just their culture and how they have grown used to since childhood.

And indeed I must admit I have some advantage on this front since I had a simple childhood in a farm. I remember when we didn't have water inside the house nor electricity. There was a wooden shed built with bamboo for the walls and wood for the plataform that was sitting over a water stream. There was square hole on the wood floor and that where we did our business that would be taken away by the water running below.

We didn't have a shower, so we cleaned ourselves with a basin with water heated on a wood stove. We washed clothes on a bucket by the water. There was this wood board fixed in 45 degrees by the water side. We would hit it with the clothes previously soaked in soap water, to clean the clothes. And scrub them between our hands for the dirtier spots.

We would sleep earlier because there was no electric lighting. We had a kerosene lamp but nobody wanted to use that much because it stank and the kerosene would cost money. There was a gas lamp for emergencies, and a small gas bottle. At 5h30 in the morning or so, I'd wake up to the sounds of my grandmother firing the wood stove to make coffee. There was always wood sticks drying around in a covered area, I'd help my grandmother to gather them in the woods nearby. I remember her showing me how to use vines to tie the wood sticks together to carry them home. I also remember her telling me to make a bigger bundle and joking that hers was so much bigger despite she being an old lady. I was something like 7 years old at the time.

I would also help them sowing rice and beans, for example. To be more efficient, you need more than one person per row: one digs the ground, the other comes behind and throw the seeds and moves dirt over it with their foot. There's all the logistics of harvest of rice, beans and corn that I can tell you about. It was a nice and simple life. One emotion that I never felt was deprivation. So, I kind of get an unfair advantage on simple living over most people who were born and raised in cities :)

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 6:31 pm
by Seppia
Great story, thanks for sharing

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:50 pm
by bigato
What is the name you give to that phenomenon where the closer you are to some much anticipated event, the slower you experience time? Like in physics we know that time actually run faster the closer you get to a gravitational mass when compared to the point of view from someone who is farther away. Except that it is the opposite, the closer you get to what you anticipate, time seems to slow to a halt.

That and the fact that I don't even need much the money anymore and would be fine by quitting now are really decreasing my motivation. But also, a series of questions related to the situation at the job, on which I'll elaborate a bit.

As I may have mentioned before, I nowadays work in a team that is responsible for a system written in assembly running in very expensive supercomputers in a big financial institution. It is so critical to the institution that a serious incident like three people there dying in a car accident could risk the company going broke if some serious problem in the system also happened after one such accident. I'm there for about one year and a half and most of this time has been spent on my learning than effectively delivering. I'm working on a rewrite of a part of the system for months and nothing of my rewrite went to production yet.

The fact that it is written in assembly specific to this supercomputing plataform makes it very hard to find people to work on it in the market, but this is not the worse part. The implicit knowledge about the system itself is huge. There is a lot of written documentation, but as any programmer should be able to tell, that is far from enough when it comes to guaranteeing the the sucession of the knowledge of a code base bigger than a million lines and written in a highly unstructured language so close to machine code. And yes, there are very good monetary reasons why it is in assembly, that I won't go in detail here.

Other than those three people, there are about other three somewhere in the market, already retired, that could potentially be contacted in a disaster situation. But you see, the situation does not look so good. To make it worse, it doesn't seem like upper management really understand the depth of this. This week I started working on a change that will go in production and then had the chance to have a better grasp of size of the monster. It got me very worried and feeling guilty that so much time is being dedicated on my learning of the code base, and I have plans to go away so soon.

Finally, today morning I started a conversation with my manager about this. I did not disclose my intentions to retire early, but discussed the situation and how it is not so realistic to expect nowadays that people will have a whole career in one place like it was the case a decade ago or so, and even went as far as use a colleague as an example: "Take john, he studies all the time and travels so much, have a lot of contacts, it is not crazy that at some point someone will invite him to a job at silicon valley earning 100k a year. Actually if he went looking, I'm pretty sure he could find one just now". He wasn't there at the moment. I also happen to know the the other colleague, the most senior other than the manager (who is also a programmer), is close to leaving to another country in the next few months. The manager knows this to some extent but I'm not sure how much, so I didn't comment on him specifically. But I also went as far as possible into communicating that it is not safe to assume that anyone will stay there for so many years, me included. I know it is not really my problem that the company is doing this, but I feel guilty.

In a way, I really wanted that the rumours about a voluntary severance package were true, so that all of this situation would end at once. But I'd better not cling to this idea, because even if those rumours were true, the chances that the rules would allow me to adhere are minimum, I must be realistic about this. At least I got it out of my system to my manager and let him know how I feel about the situation. It is a bit crazy that it is such a strategically important system that if I had interest in working more years, I could at some point in the not so distant future demand crazy amounts of money to support it or to make a phasing out process happen. And I'm just not interested. I'd rather do something else more meaningful instead, even without being paid.

The technical challenge is also wearing off a bit, because I don't see a clear path out of this conundrum for the company. Worse than that, I don't see how I could contribute to improving the situation being at where I am. It is a complex situation really, I'm not sure I'm even very interested because anything that I start tend to generate more dependency on me, which would help with job stability I guess, but is not something I want really. Even if I were to convince higher level bosses that we should start some kind of program to teach young people and prepare them for this, that program itself would be something that would take time and tie me down further.

Meanwhile, the market keeps being great to me and last month my investment returns where like 10% higher than my before tax wages. This month seems like it could be even better. Maybe it gets so good until the end of the year that I decide to take the leap sooner. I know that it is not so great to quit at the height of a bull market, but well, life has risks. The numbers are not that bad.

Anyway, I really need some months of testing the new level of expenses now that the housing line was slashed in half. Food costs still varies a bit from month to month as I have not been so strict about it. I really need to get to a level that feels confortable and stable for some months. I can't make a number in my mind out of picking the months that I did better on each category of expense. It must be based on actual average of a few months. I hope to feel confortable about this until the end of 2019. My main expenses are mostly housing and food, so it is important that I'm confortable with the numbers.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:10 pm
by George the original one
You've done your due diligence, raised the awareness, and should be guilt free now.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:21 pm
by slowtraveler
You've got your freedom now. I'm a little surprised because I recall reading you weren't pursuing early retirement anymore but maybe I'm wrong and I misunderstood somewhere.

Either eay, congratulations on the freedom and skills you've built for yourself. You're in a position of power and responsibility now.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:59 am
by Seppia
Sometimes the qualities that help us on the ERE path are the same ones that make us hesitant to pull the plug.
The most obvious is being financially prudent: great for accumulation, will bring the famous "one more year" syndrome.
Here bigato is experiencing the same with "sense of duty": the fact that he cares about the team and the future of something he's part of (even if he has no affiliation to it other than the exchange "money for time") is what probably helped him have an above average career.
Now it's making him question doing what's best for him.

It's been a few months that I've been thinking about this.
Normally we think of people as dividend into two groups in terms of potential to ERE (those who have what it takes and those who don't), but I would argue there's actually three.

Those who don't have it (these are usually more of the YOLO type*). This may be 85% of the population
Those who have the necessary skills to get there but not actually do it (those who understand the math and have the discipline to stay consistent) This may be 1% of the population
Those who have the rare combination of skills to get there and pull the plug (ironically I believe it's a mix of prudence and YOLO, or just a very very VERY rational mind) This may be 0.01% of the population**

I am kind of afraid I fall in the second category for now, and that I will need a monster size nest egg (think 1% SWR) to really go full ERE

*allow me these simplifications, as being able to understand delayed gratification is usually skill #1
** the numbers don't add up because I really believe there is a number of peope who have what it takes to do it but tend not to question the status quo and somehow need to be spoon-fed the idea to realize it. I certainly fall into this category, I would never have thought of ERE if I hadn't discovered the movement

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:23 am
by slowtraveler
I agree with you Seppia. Mine would be more forced due to the eventual selling of the business, I suppose I could tag on to the new owners but we'll see whether it makes sense or not first. I hadnt actually considered that idea till now...

But 1%? You're saving over half your dividends at that point. I think having dividends > expenses may comfort you enough to feel comfortable with stopping work for economic reasons. As shown above and is probably also relevant in your case with your kick ass international work, there's reasons beyond monetary to work.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:37 am
by Ego
bigato wrote:
Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:50 pm
Other than those three people, there are about other three somewhere in the market, already retired, that could potentially be contacted in a disaster situation. But you see, the situation does not look so good. To make it worse, it doesn't seem like upper management really understand the depth of this. This week I started working on a change that will go in production and then had the chance to have a better grasp of size of the monster.
If you were upper management what would you (manager) want you (Bigato) to do?

Presenting problems then suggesting possible solutions in writing as a follow-up to the discussion could be your key to an extremely lucrative consulting contract in the future, if you want it.

There must be alternatives to the monster. What are other companies doing? How would you transition from the monster to these alternative?

Could be a fun, guilt-assuaging project to write a concise email. On the other hand, you don't want to piss off the person who got the company into the mess.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 3:39 am
by rube
@Seppia thank you, that is very interesting lay-out. I am currently in my "target" last year and it sounds very familiar. I am really pushing myself to not let myself fall in that 2nd category (1 year now from now we could be around 3.5% SWR - but in practice even a bit more). Perhaps that is why I announce here, but also to others that this is the last year, so I can held a bit more accountable.

@Bigato I second George the Original one. No need to fuil guilt, this is a capatalistic world. If "they" wouldn't need you, "they" wouldn't feel guilt "to let you go". I have seen this already too often in my career. I am glad you started to be more active again on your journal. It was yours, together with a few others (like C40, FFJ) that inspired me so much that it helped me to get to the point I am now. It is still very interesting to see how your life is developing.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2019 6:05 am
by horsewoman
Egos suggestion is brilliant! You can really not do more than to warn them of the dangers - and when the shit should hit the fan after you left, they know that they can approach you to help them. For a fee :) No guilt necessary.

Re: bigato's journal

Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 7:23 pm
by bigato
Thanks for the messages! :)
A message I found by chance on another board (related to programming) by a former googler fits perfectly in here:
At Google there is an internal document called "No Heroes". It basically says that if your load is too high - let the damn thing fail. Perhaps it's not important, and only you think it is. Perhaps the higher ups don't realize it's important and they need to be reminded of it. Reliable infrastructure cannot depend on heroic actions of a small group of people, and especially on actions of a single person. Let it fail - the world will take notice. Or not, in which case you should move to something more useful.
The problem is too complex and have many layers to it, and it may be that the fastest and more effective way to bring about change would be to contribute to the fintech scene in my country :) I may do that in the future or not, depending on how much I care.