Boltzies' journal

Where are you and where are you going?
boltzmannsbrain
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:57 pm

Re: Boltzies' journal

Post by boltzmannsbrain »

G and I broke up.
The long distance relationship thing didn't work out for us and it was an amicable break. In the beginning of our relationship, while we were still living in the same country, he said that relationship compatibility is not just about personalities, values, goals etc, but also includes practical factors like geographical location. So in that regard, we were incompatible due to different geographical locations, which seems like a fixable problem, but really, it's just a manifestation of incompatible values (he prioritised his work; I prioritised living in my home country). Due to the numerous conversations I've had with my polyamorous friend M, it's the easiest breakup I've had - no jealousy, second thoughts, self-destructive behaviour or regrets, just joy for G when he and I talked a month after our breakup and he mentioned he had been on two dates.
So while I'm not too excited about the break-up, I'm quite happy with how I handled it.

I'm learning how to sail!
In May, two of my friends bought an 23" sail boat for 1900 euros. Needless to say, the boat wasn't in the best condition, so we spent June fixing it. The weather was fantastic and I really enjoyed doing physical labour outdoors, which is magnitudes of order better than doing physical labour indoors.
One night, M and I anchored in the bay next to the harbour and I realised how much I missed the quietness. I've been living in the city for 10 years and it's impossible to find a quiet space without other people. Turns out, I really only needed to sail about 15 minutes out of the harbour to get some peace. The sun took forever to set in a fiery mess of colours while M and I had some excellent conversations about life, the universe and everything. In that moment, I was filled with utter happiness.
I've been looking for a new hobby and sailing seems to tick all the boxes: It's outdoors, physical, technical, cheap and a perfect way to experience the world. I'd love to see the world, but my current travel method is flying in, taking the travelled tourist path, and flying out again, with time being the limiting factor. Experiencing the world by sail boat is more environmentally sustainable and it forces me to make the journey the focus, rather than the destination.
I'll attend a sailing school to learn how to sail, get a piece of paper (international certificate of competence) and then the plan is to take a leave of absence from work for at least a couple of months to go on a longer sailing trip - hopefully next year. I'm quite excited about this!

Meeting O.
In July, we went for a week's sailing trip. During our trip, we meet O, who was single-handed sailing his boat. He had quit his job and had been sailing around for 2 months, so I talked about financial independence with him. He is probably the most interesting person I've ever met! We exchanged contact info and talked about meeting up if he passed our home harbour.
After I got home, I was itching to go sailing again, so I had the idea of asking O if I could sail with him. While I was trying to write up a polite message asking if I could join him - he had previously mentioned that he was sailing alone to have some time and space to think - he messaged me: He was on his way to our harbour and he asked me out. I said yes and asked if I could join him on his next sailing trip, to which he said yes.
On our first date, Friday, we talked for 10 hours.
On our second date, Saturday, we picked wild blackberries we'd spotted on a walk during our first date, and he brought a camping stove, jam jars and sugar, so we made blackberry jam, then pancakes on the boat.
On our third date, Sunday, we went on a 8 days sailing trip. He taught me how to handle the sail boat singlehandedly, in baby steps, and I was on cloud nine.
He's quite the character and I'm learning so much from him. He'd rather fix things himself that buy an easy way out.
In our latest endeavour, we 3D-printed a spare part for the throttle control on the carburettor of his outboard motor, as a wave had crashed into the motor, removed the lid and taken a plastic part with it. The motor manufacturer didn't sell that spare part alone - instead you had to buy a new carburettor. So we walked around the marina to see if anyone had the same motor, a guy suggested we could go to the boat shop, and fortunately, the boat shop had a newer model of the motor, but with the same carburettor. They let us measure up the spare part and O made a model in Autodesk Fusion 360. The next step was to find a 3D printer. We'd visited an amateur, crowd-funded manned space programme (Copenhagen Suborbitals) some days prior, so we visited them again to see if we could borrow their 3D printer. Unfortunately, it wasn't functioning. We contacted some local makerspaces and public libraries, but they were closed for the weekend. In the end, one of my friends let us borrow his 3D printer and after a couple of iterations, we would get the outboard motor to work with a 3D printed spare part and a safety needle bent into a spring.
Everything is an adventure with him. I'm disgustingly in love with him, in that teenagey "can't stop thinking about him"-kind of way. And of fucking course, he works abroad in war zones on a contract base, so here I go again with another long distance relationship, with the added bonus of him working places I can't visit. Ugh. I'll just have to deal with it.

YTD savings rate: 73%.

FBeyer
Posts: 1078
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 3:25 am

Re: Boltzies' journal

Post by FBeyer »

Jeez. Could you STOP meeting interesting people for once!

Also: Good for you...

boltzmannsbrain
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:57 pm

Re: Boltzies' journal

Post by boltzmannsbrain »

Relationship
It didn't take long before O became my boyfriend and I've thoroughly enjoyed the summer and autumn with him. But, he works in humanitarian aid, so in November he left for a 6 months deployment in the Middle East. Yes, another long distance relationship - sigh! The redeeming factor is that we'll go on a long sailing trip when he gets back (see section below) and in the autumn, he'll start attending a paid education which will keep him in our home country for 2½ years, albeit not at the same location in the beginning - about 4 hours by train from my home. Still, it's definitely an improvement. We've talked about keeping the boat somewhere in the middle, location-wise, and then meet and live on the boat in the weekends. We'll see.
We fit well together. We share the same core values and we have great communication. Some of our first conversations were about (financial) independence, ethics and climate change. He's ENFJ and I'm INTJ, and he's definitely more extrovert and empathic than I am, so that balances me out. In most of my relationships, I've always felt like I was the one giving more, and for the first time, I feel like we're both giving in excess - it's a great feeling.
I met up with G (former boyfriend from previous long distance relationship, we split in the summer just before I met O) and we went for a walk and talk. It was nice catching up with him, he's doing well and he has found time for hobbies, learning a new language and dating. Most of all, I'm happy about the fact that we're still friends and we can talk about personal stuff without bitterness or jealousy.

Sailing
This year, I accumulated 35 sailing days and 15 days doing boat repair and maintenance. I'm quite happy about that, considering that sailing wasn't even on my radar as a potential hobby/skill/lifestyle before June. Most of the sailing was done with O on his boat; two longer trips of 8 and 12 days, in addition to a 5 days trip on my friends' boat and numerous day sails.
In November, I started attending sailing school - a two years course with the theoretical part in the autumn/winter months and the practical part in the spring/summer months. I'm attending the navigation course at the moment. In March and April, we'll prepare and maintain the boats, then put them back in the water, and from May 1 - October 1 we'll have a weekly sailing day. I've estimated the cost to be around 1000 EUR in total; it would definitely be possible to find a cheaper/free solution, but I'd like to learn the up-to-date best practices and do lots of sailing under supervised conditions. I'll also get an International Certificate of Competence, a sailing license which is required to sail in some waters, like the canals of Europe or at the coasts of Mediterranean sea.
O and I have planned an extended sailing trip lasting about 2 months in the summer 2020. My boss has green-lighted my leave of absence. I'll use the majority of my vacation days (I get 6 weeks of paid vacation) and then take a non-paid leave from work for the rest of the duration. In the summer 2020, I've worked full-time for 5 years, so I think it's excellent timing to take an extended vacation - to have some time to think about what I want to do with my life, to spend time with O, and to be at the mercy of the elements in a small rocking sailboat on an infinite blue sea. I can't wait!

Minimising my carbon footprint
I've had many conversations with multiple people about climate change this year. One friend turned vegetarian and he pays greenhouse gas emission allowances when he travels by plane (he's in a long distance relationship with a girl who lives across the Atlantic ocean - otherwise he wouldn't travel by flight). Another one has gone the activist route and has joined Extinction Rebellion. O changed the diesel engine on his boat for an electrical motor.
I've wanted a list which clearly states which actions I, as an individual, can take to minimise my carbon footprint while getting the "most bang for my buck" - that is, the easiest actions for me to implement with the largest effects. After reading this article "Are people clueless when it comes to their carbon footprints?", I had a starting point. I'm a city-dweller living in an apartment which is part of a housing association, so I have limited possibilities in some areas:
  1. Modern heating and insulation: I have modern heating and insulation in my apartment. We just replaced the windows facing the street to triple pane windows, for heat insulation and noise cancellation. I generally don't turn on the radiator unless someone else is staying in the apartment with me (a boyfriend) or if it gets below freezing for extended time during the day. I do activities that generate body heat in the afternoon (sports and winter bathing/sauna use), I sleep with two duvets and I get some residual heat from the neighbouring apartments. At the moment, it's below freezing at night and 2-8 degrees Celsius during the day, so the radiators are still off.
  2. Becoming vegetarian: I try to be flexitarian; two of three meals a day are 90% vegetarian (calorie-wise). I bulk cook my dinners and I try to only buy meat when it's discounted due to last sale date. I buy the cheapest vegetables which are the ones in season. Lunch is my main meal of the day, at the canteen at work - I almost always eat meat here.
  3. Switch to green energy: Electricity consumption is covered by windmill parks. Heating is provided by district heating. I have a gas stove and 30-40% of the gas is biofuel. In 2018, 43.6% of the electricity consumption in my country came from wind (40.8%) and solar power (2.8%), while 35.5% in the gross final energy consumption came from renewable energy. The city I live in has an ambition to become CO2 neutral by 2025. As I live in a housing association, I can't change much for this point, other than limit my energy usage in general.
  4. One flight less: I've travelled a lot by flight for vacations. In the last 3 years, I flew to Paris, Southern Spain twice, Northern Spain twice, Bulgaria/Macedonia/Greece, Sri Lanka, Puerto Rico and New Zealand, in average 3 return flights per year (to be fair, I should probably calculate the CO2 usage). I love travelling, but I've also realised that flying in and out is not the most sustainable way to do it. Going forward, the goal is to cut down and average 0.5-1 flight trip a year (again, a CO2 goal would be more precise). I don't travel for work and I really like sailing, so I think I'll manage. I normally travel during the winter, so the largest challenge will be to deal with my seasonal affective disorder (see next section).
  5. 5 km commute by bike instead of car/fuel-efficient driving: I don't have a driver's license or a car. As I live in the city, I use my bike as my main transportation mode; I bike to work, when visiting friends and attending my hobbies. Over 10 km distances, typically to visit family or get to the boat, I travel by train, about 1-2 times a month.
In conclusion, meat consumption and flight travel are my main areas of improvement.
Regarding meat consumption, I pay a set amount for lunch at work and I can then eat all I want, so lunch account for the majority of my daily calories and meat intake (meat is about 1/4 of the plate, volume-wise). I don't plan on changing this and I've optimized the other meals to my level of comfort/convenience/price/health/climate considerations. But I can definitely do better in this area.
Regarding flight travel, I'm going to cut down from 3 trips to 0.5-1 trip a year. This is feasible and it does not feel like too much of a sacrifice - we'll see how I manage to survive the winter though! Long term, I would like to set up more ambitious goals like staying in a place for more than 1 month if I fly, only flying for required important events and not vacation, set a goal of 0.2 trips a year etc. Not only will it cut down on my carbon footprint, it'll also save me money: I've spent 6000 euros on flight travelling (including everything; accommodation, food, transportation etc.) in the last 3 years, corresponding to 12-14% of my yearly spending. I will still travel, but I won't be using as much money on flight tickets.

Dealing with seasonal affective disorder (and long distance relationship)
I get seasonal affective disorders when the days get shorter - which manifests itself in less energy, more sleep, more sugar cravings etc. For the last years, I've travelled south to avoid the dreadful darkness of the northern winters. I will not travel this year, for reasons stated above. I've found that keeping my afternoons and weekends busy keeps me from failing into a bottomless pit of lethargy, daydreaming and missing O.
The shortest days are just before Christmas and we'll only see around 7 hours of daylight, 17 hours of darkness. We can go for weeks without seeing the sun, as it's often totally overcast here. I'm also at work during the day, it's dark outside when I bike to work and dark outside when I bike home again. Therefore, I have a list of things I try to do:
  1. If the sun is out, I go for a walk during the workday. I try to leave work while it's still light to go winter bathing in the harbour baths (vitamin D!), and the sauna has a window facing the water.
  2. Planning activities to be on my route. I train year round, but it requires more mental strength to leave the apartment in the winter. If I go to sports directly after work, I don't need to drag myself out off the couch. If I pick the gym where I pass the winter bathing club on my way home, it's easier for me to go there. I plan a training schedule each week so I don't have to use decision energy during the week.
  3. Planning at least one activity during the weekend days. If I don't have any plans, I can easily spend an entire day doing nothing other than reading, looking out the window and napping. If I schedule at least one activity that day, it's often enough to activate me and one activity will eventually follow the other. That's why I've chosen to instruct two classes on Saturday morning: I have an excuse to not attend social events on late Friday evenings (it's the end of the work week, I can't deal with extended social interactions), I can't laze about in the bed and I'm more likely to do other stuff when I've left the apartment already.
  4. Social activities. I have a weekly board game session with friends (Clank! Legacy), a weekly navigation class, a monthly meet-up with a biohacker community and a meet-up with the local ERE group every 3-6 month (it's more FI than ERE due to the ERE Wheaton levels of the participants). I'm more introvert in the winter, so pre-arranged appointments forces me to get out and socialise.
  5. I got a desk space by the window, so I get natural daylight during the day.
The last sailing day was in the beginning of October, and a week later, the winter bathing club had season start. It almost made it feel like autumn didn't exist. I can't believe it's December already!

Financial independence progress
I revisited ERE in the beginning of 2018 as I was getting increasingly frustrated with my job. Half a year later, I found a new job, and I began to work on personal development, communication skills, relationships, new hobbies and now I'm at a point where I feel quite content with my life. I don't feel like I'm missing anything, and my YTD savings rate is 72% despite living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a below average salary (according to that article). If there's one thing I would change, it's decreasing my working hours; 25-30 hours a week would be ideal, as opposed to the current 42 hours. I think many FIRE-aspirants seek out FIRE because they're unhappy with their lives, but the unhappiness do not stem from the job alone, it's just easy to blame the job because it represents a massive, freedom-depriving block of the day - at least I did. Financial independence is no longer something I'm actively pursuing, it's just there in the background quietly making progress.

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