the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:38 pm

Well I figure I'm probably due for an update.

I had a wonderful summer for the most part. I really enjoyed my job and the people I worked with. The work took me to many places throughout the Interior and Alaska Range that I hadn't spent much time in before. The combination of being outside everyday, somewhat stimulating work, and good people for the most part made for good times. The pay wasn't bad either. I don't know the exact number off the top of my head but I think I pulled in something like $20k for 4 months of work. The schedule was 9 days on 5 off leaving me plenty of time to get around and do stuff in my off time. I moved out of the place I was staying for the summer and ended up doing outdoor trips or staying with friends in my off time. I did two hiking/packrafting trips and one hiking trip all of which were very enjoyable. I also flew back to the Chicago area in July during one of my breaks for my mom's wedding. which was also nice.

On the food acquisition front- for a while it didn't seem like I'd get any fish this year as the runs were really low to start and any openings happened during my work shifts. In August there was a brief window where I went down on a whim and was able to catch 17 salmon. In the beginning of Sept. I went moose/sheep hunting with a friend but turned up empty. Last week I went down to Montana and joined a group of friends for a bison hunt in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area. That was EPIC. One of the coolest things I've done. We hiked 6 miles in, my friend shot a lone old bull and we processed it/packed it out over the next couple days. I brought down two coolers and was able to bring them back with about 115 lbs of meat. Both of the above should get me through a decent portion of the winter. There are winter moose/caribou hunts which have picqued my interest though so I may be adding more to the freezer within the next couple months.

The winter ahead seems to hold a mix of seasonal employment and trips. I'm currently working as a technician for a forestry project for the University. This job will end within a couple weeks. It gets me outside but is extremely monotonous. I have a friend who offered me a position doing data analysis later on this winter that I'll probably take. Otherwise I'll try to get more writing published. Another of my essays got published in a decently distributed magazine and another will be published in February. At home, I'm in the process of building a hydroponic tower. The design is set to have roughly 20 plants. I'm thinking I'll plant mostly greens to start. I was accepted into Lambda School and initially decided to do it but ultimately I decided it was something I don't want to do. Sitting behind a screen and indoors for much of the year does not jive well with my personality. I tend to lean more towards the thinking of former Navy SEAL David Goggins in that "becoming civilized is the worst thing you can do."

As of now, I think I'll do the same job I did this past summer. I also have some other things in mind on the self employment/small business front. I think I'll do a business up here that I've run in the past elsewhere, a friend and I are discussing a foraging style business based mainly off morels and berries, small scale commercial fishing on the Yukon has seemed appealing lately as well as harvesting birch syrup. How many of these I'll end up doing remains to be seen. It would be quite the busy summer if I was to do all of that and still get out for my personal trips/regular summer stuff.

Things I'd like to work on this winter
-Becoming better at being content by focusing on internal rather than external. My history has led me to seek external events/people for satisfaction. I'd like to change/minimize this. Any advice is appreciated.
-Find a girlfriend
-Get back to ridiculously fit level

Hope everyone's well!

Image

We flew 95% of days for work. The views from the helicopter were outstanding

Image

Caribou sheds in the Denali area

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Hiking back to the LZ from a day at work

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Can't beat the light in AK. A late summer sunset

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An alpine valley from one of my personal trips

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View of Denali and Foraker. We spent a month working/living in Denali and had great views. Our base camp was about 30 miles from the mountain, which allowed for great views daily

Image

My friend with the bison
Last edited by theanimal on Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:05 pm

Thanks for the updates! I'm so jealous of all your salmon and bison meat. I imagine it's pretty tough finding a girlfriend up there(?)

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:13 pm

Hunting and fishing is the way to eat like a king while still following ERE principles.

Yeah, the market is limited and very tight. There are more males than females and very few of those females are single. Anyone who is single and at least reasonably attractive gets snatched up quickly. A couple of my friends and I joke that the only way to have success is wait at the airport and find a woman after she gets off the plane... I haven't made as much effort as I should have over the past few months but nonetheless the number of women I've met over the past 8 months or so who I find attractive and are single could likely be counted on one hand... It doesn't help that the area is pretty transitory for many in their 20s and 30s.

Viktor K
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Viktor K » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:48 pm

Sounds like an awesome summer! I'll have to do something like this in the next few years

Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia » Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:46 am

Still the #1 most kickass journal on the internet.
Thanks for the update

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Tue Oct 02, 2018 7:31 am

Your journal is like Jack London updated for the 21st century.

Someone told that you’ve got to import a woman from the Lower 48 if you’re up there.

Colibri
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Colibri » Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:37 pm

@the animal
I am in your geographic region, more precisely in the Yukon Territory. If you want to write, there is an arts and entertainment newspaper here that is constantly looking for new writers, they only have freelancers. I wrote a few articles for them, they are easy to deal with and very open minded on subject. We get articles about Alaska pretty often, mainly about Skagway and Haines or Fairbanks. Anyway, check this out if it sounds interesting to you

https://whatsupyukon.com

Jason
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jason » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:15 am

With that pic of you standing on top of the world looking all Jeremiah Johnson and shit, I would think you would have a march of the penguins line of indigenous girls following you back to camp.

In any event, I can only suggest the typical outlets: mail order brides and penitentiary girls.

7Wannabe5
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 11:59 am

I can check and see if my sister would be willing to pay to ship my beautiful-but-living-in-the-basement niece up to you. She's definitely a city girl, but very fit due to years of dance training, so could make for an interesting youtube series.

RealPerson
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by RealPerson » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:03 pm

Those are really badass pictures, especially the buffalo. I spent 10 days backpacking in the Montana wilderness this summer. Beautiful country. I always thought of hunting as a hobby more than part of FIRE, but I know Alaska is very different. Is it cost effective between equipment and licenses to hunt in the lower 48?

prognastat
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by prognastat » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:11 pm

@RealPerson

Definitely a topic I'd be interested to hear about too. From what little I've heard it can get very expensive very quickly if you need to go on private land to do so.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:55 pm

I can't say I've looked into it that heavily. It'll be much easier west of the Mississippi due to the prevalence of public land. I think that the determining factor in terms of the cost effectiveness of hunting in the L48 is transportation costs. However, I think you can still travel reasonably far and still beat the store by a healthy margin. Licenses and tags vary by state but a quick perusal shows low prices almost everywhere. California is $48 for a license and big game tag. Montana is $70 (including bird and elk in addition to deer). New York is $22. Wisconsin is $60 . Those are just a few examples. In most of these cases, outside of the highly desired animals like elk, sheep or bison, you can still get a nonresident license for relatively cheap. For example, New York offers a non-resident license for $100 which appears to cover deer hunting. It makes most sense economically to kill the biggest animal you can find. A whitetail deer yields maybe 50-60 lbs(?) of meat whereas an elk yields 100-120 and a bison 600+. The closer the hunt and the bigger the animal the better.

Rifle is BIFL and amortizes just to a few dollars per hunt if used long term. You can get a rifle that'll kill everything up to a moose for a few hundred dollars. Bullets only end up as a ridiculous expense if you want to shoot a ton with high caliber rounds. You can buy a .22 LR for $200 new and 1000+ bullets for something like $40. There's your target practice.

I think you may have to be creative depending on where you live but it's certainly something worth looking into. I think former forum member @zev was looking into it in NY biking or using some means of public transportation. Impressive, but I think an easier solution would be to go with friends and reduce transportation costs.

Related is this thread:viewtopic.php?t=9531#p157787

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:02 pm

Thanks all for reading and the kind comments.

@colibri- Thanks! I'll look into that.

@Jason- I don't know. Things didn't work out to well for Jeremiah Johnson in the women department. Mail order brides might be the best bet. I can almost see Russia from my house as it is.

@7- Haha, I imagine that would be a fun dynamic. You have me thinking up potential episode ideas.

Kriegsspiel
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Wed Oct 03, 2018 5:47 pm

IIRC, an ERE forumer is a call-girl up in Alaska. Anyone remember her?

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Oct 03, 2018 10:10 pm

@Kspiel- That was @riparian


I accepted a job as a geology technician at a large mine. I had a friend who's done the same job and liked it. I don't have to go underground or do any heavy machinery but it still pays well. 2 weeks on 1 off, likely thru mid December. Housing and meals provided. I should make out with a little over $11k over the duration with potential for more work later on. Not bad.

arebelspy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by arebelspy » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:23 pm

I haven't visited the ERE forums in a few years, so I just got to catch up from fall 2016 to today.

Really enjoyed it.

Sounds like you decided against pursuing grad school. What about the pilot thing?

My favorite part of all your posts was the introspection ones, where you talk about what you've learned about yourself, and try to move yourself forward to a better place, for you.

Looking forward to your next update.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:41 pm

@arebelspy- Thank you. More details below.

-----------------------

November through January in the Arctic and across the north is a time of cold and deep darkness. At solstice, the sun is only inching above the horizon at my latitude and up for 3.5 hours a day. The past 2 winters, it was a time where I really struggled. I was flailing around unsure if what I was doing was what I should be doing and not having a community around me that I desired or could use for support. It was a time full of dread and depressive moods. This year has served as a radical antithesis to the winters of old. Some of the change is external in that I have made more friends and have somewhat of an outside structure, but there is likely some internal growth that has occurred as well. There has been no substantial depressive moods the past few months and a friend recently described my mood as very giddy. For so long I was pursuing a vision of life that I thought was in the future, but now I think I've realized that I'm living the life I want. There's a question someone mentioned here once that I like to ask others. "If money wasn't an object, what would you do with your life?" I struggle to answer this question because the reality is that I wouldn't change much from what I'm doing now. I feel great and am going to ride this wave as long as I can.

I took a job working at one of the large gold mines in the state a few hours outside of town starting at the beginning of October. I worked in the core processing facility as a geology technician. It's a work away deal meaning when I was working I was living out there for 2 weeks straight (1 week off), working 12 hours every day. The work was manual labor without much thought. Measuring core, photographing core, sampling core, moving core..and so on, but we were allowed to listen to whatever so I was able to make the most of it plowing through a hefty dose of audiobooks and podcasts. The job was well paying but was ultimately a means to an end for me and not ideal for many reasons. My last day was a week ago.

One of the reasons I took the job is to pursue the pilot license. I started lessons this past week and barring environmental factors, I will likely have my private license by mid March at the latest. There is tons of opportunity in the aviation industry, especially in Alaska going forward so if I progress through my hours and other certifications, it is not out of the question to obtain a job for some air taxi or regional airline up here by the end of the year.

I turned 26 a couple weeks ago and I wanted to do something hard. So I decided to run 26 miles on the morning of my birthday on some local trails. Mission Success. My first marathon in the books and without all the commercial bullshit and vanity associated with many of the organized races. I am doing an organized one with a friend in March, but plan to do another one on my own sometime over the next month. I like the fitness aspect of it but it is more about making my mind harder. There is too much encouragement of fluff and ease in our current culture IMO, when things like tolerance for adversity can deliver incredible returns. It takes a lot too faze me right now. For example, it's been -40 F for the past two days. Two days ago, my heat went out at home, my windshield cracked and I had a flat tire. Both days were really good. I'm going to continue to pursue stress and create friction in my life. It seems stupid not to.

In miscellaneous news, there is a girl I am seeking to court. Its kind of pathetic that it's news that there is one single female that I am attracted to and am interested in pursuing but such is the state of affairs up here. It seems promising but its extremely early. We'll see. I'm looking forward to an EMT class that I'm starting in a couple weeks. And I'm planning on starting BJJ. I started last winter but stopped due to poor transportation situation. The schedule conflicts with the EMT class but I think I've found a way to work it out. I'm currently doing remote work as an insurance underwriter. The pay isn't lucrative but I can work as little or as much as I want from my couch. It combines well with the rest of my schedule.

Finally, here's an analysis of 2018 income vs expenses via the ratio created by Fish (I think he's the one who did it..)

Writing- .125
Tour Guide- .25
PFD - .1
Forestry- 1.0
Mining 1.0

Total- 2.475

I'm OK with that. 2019 should be similar but I think I'll be able to get it over 3.0 which is much more ideal.


Not many good pictures from the last few months but here's one from the mine and one from a recent trip to the AK Range with some friends.

Image

Image20190105_095852

Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia » Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:36 pm

Sorry if my replies to your journal all sound the same, but your journal is the awesomest of all the (very awesome) journals on this board.

Kriegsspiel
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Kriegsspiel » Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:16 pm

Can you elaborate on the remote insurance underwriting work?

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:21 pm

Thanks, Seppia. Always appreciate the compliments.


Re the insurance work: The company I work for contracts agencies to source customers (all auto). The agents sign customers up for policies and enter all the information in an online database. My job is to review the policy to ensure that any additional documents required are uploaded and to verify policy holder information to make sure it falls within the company's parameters. The work is extremely simple and I'm on the lowest rung. But it pays $15/hr, there is tons of flexibility, no stress/pressure and I have a great relationship with the boss.

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