the animal's journal

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

Post by classical_Liberal »

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Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

white belt
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by white belt »

Ok I've got some slightly radical ideas to increase soil temperature indoors. This is going to depend on how comfortable you/gf are with doing some uncoventional stuff, but here you go:

-If you have exposed indoor heating pipes (like from a wood stove or something), build a box around those and fill it with dirt or anything that is good for thermal mass. Plant the microgreens at the top of such a box. The idea is the heat passing through the pipes will help to warm the soil/thermal mass, which will help to retain heat. You might want utilize the exit/exhaust pipes instead of the heating pipes or else it will make your heater less efficient; I'm not sure since I'm not a pro on thermal mass heating.

-I'm not sure what your toilet situation is, but start with a pee funnel/jug set up similar to the one I put in the compost toilet thread. You're going to make the tubing way longer and weave it through the soil in the previously designed thermal box. The idea is it will work like a tankless water heater in reverse, with the warmth from your urine traveling through the tubes and heating up the soil. The urine would still go into a 5 gallon jug at the end, so it's not actually ever coming into contact with the microgreens. You can then dilute it and apply that fertilizer to outdoor crops/trees.

-You can irrigate your microgreens with spent cooking water (depending on what's in it), so that warm/hot water should be able to heat your soil box.

-Microgreens are just sprouts of regular plants, so from what I've read if you select cold-weather crops like cabbage, you should be able to germinate down to 40-45 degrees.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@WB- Thanks for the suggestions! The indoor cold temperatures are no longer an issue, that was at my last place. The main constraint going forward will be electrical use. I've been following along your experiments in the Apt Homesteading thread and have been getting a lot out of it. My issue previously when it was colder may have been that I was trying to get sunflower microgreens which maybe need a higher temperature to germinate? I might have to still give this a go. I'll post any updates.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

I find myself in a bit of a short term dilemma.

I am still working the insurance gig remotely. It is fine. I am paid very well, feel neutrally about the work and can set my own schedule. I have also done the forestry work over the past 3 summers. I recently applied to that again and was offered a permanent crew lead position. This is a permanent ~6 month position where 4 of those months will be based in the field. The actual work time results in something like 4-4.5 months total with the 9 days on 7 days off schedule. My predicament is in deciding what to do. The positions historically has been long term seasonal meaning it was necessary to reapply each year but just transitioned to permanent.

The main reason I am hesitant in accepting the forestry job right this moment is due to the time constraints involved. The job is remote in that we go out for 9 days at a time to villages far off the road system. It is a fixed schedule and while 7 days is a good amount of time off at any one stretch it prevents me from doing longer multi week trips that I would like to do. Also, if there is a situation like a limited fish season, then I'm limiting my opportunities further by having my schedule constricted by this job. That and the bureaucracy and lack of meritocracy involved in working for the government are the major negatives. The positives are that I'd have a chance to lead others in an official capacity, I enjoy the people I work with (I met my gf and half of my current friends through this project) and I get a sense of accomplishment most days in having completed the field work and doing the manual labor outside. The pay is slightly less than the insurance job but is comparable. Pay isn't too much of a factor.

I can do both jobs. The insurance is ok with me working forestry and doing reduced hours. If I didn't do the forestry I would continue with the insurance but also plan time to do some backpacking/packrafting trips both short (< 1 week) and long (>1 week), set net fish and dipnet, hunt, and maintain the garden. If I were to do the forestry, I could still do many of those things but of course my time would still be constrained. The main feeling of lack or sacrifice is that this all takes place during the limited Alaskan summer. I of course would have the other 6 months of the year to do trips but many of the trips that I'd like to do (backpacking/packrafting) wouldn't be possible during that time because winter.

My ultimate goal/path doesn't seemed to have really changed over the years. I still like the idea of the Dick Proenneke/homestead approach like my former life in the Arctic cabin. However, now I have the skills, knowledge and community to make such a lifestyle possible. Part of my worry also extends that by spending my time in these jobs, I end up with more of a passive existence (not sure that's the right way to phrase it) and pursue someone else's idea of a good life. I'm still trying to figure this out.

I pose this situation to the ERE think tank, welcoming any and all thoughts and advice.

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

Ask yourself what advice 53 year old you would give to however old you are you.

Image or Image
Last edited by Ego on Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

AxelHeyst
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

I somewhat agree with Ego's two thousand and one word essay above, but it leaves out the point that the dude on the right is actually looking out the window at his garden that he still has dirt from under his nails, he has his awesome dog curled around his feet, and right after that zoom call he's going in to the backcountry for two weeks with his awesome gf and their good friends to do whatever it is you do out there.

When you think about taking the forestry job, for how long are you thinking of doing it? The next 3 years, 5, 10? I'm not super clear on what your long term plan is exactly. Maybe a few years of the forestry gig, doing leadership and having cool life experiences, sounds palatable for a few years and then you dip and go full Proenneke. Or, if you are in a position to do something grander than the forestry gig right now.... why not do that right now? What does "theanimal goes full Proenneke by this time next year" look like?

Are you trying to get through an accumulation phase of sorts and then drop your traditional-income-stream activities in a few years? Or are you trying to do a long-term semiERE deal? What is the point of you working right now, or next year, or the year after?

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

Very true. That's how I imagined the two choices. Fact is, theanimal didn't mention the most important variable. What is the girlfriend doing? Also, since the position changed to permanent, does it include year-round benefits?

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks for the thoughts, guys. That image is a stark contrast Ego and I guess initially it had me thinking the clear choice would be forestry. I was thinking on it some more and realized it's not as black and white for me but almost exactly like how AxelHeyst described. That's what complicates things for me. The girlfriend will be staying around town for most of the summer, so anytime in the field will be away from her. It is my understanding that the position does include year round benefits. I think outside of not having to apply each year, that is the major change.

Those are great questions, AxelHeyst and I'm not sure I have the answer to all of them, which is likely helping to muddle things. The grandest thing I want to do in the short term future (<3 years) is spend a summer walking across the Brooks Range. I tried to do that on my own in 2014 as detailed however many pages ago and failed and have been thinking about it ever since. That is not likely possible this year in a reasonable manner due to the pandemic. But it is something I would like to do next year and having this type of job doesn't allow for that. Of course just because it's permanent doesn't mean I have to continue every year. This year doing forestry would mean at this moment at least not doing a 2.5 week trip in late spring and a 2.5 week trip in early fall that are/were planned. There are also family and friends who have seriously talked about coming to visit and I'd likely not be able to do that either.

I go back and forth between the full accumulation and semi-ERE mindset. I think I identify more with the semi-ERE style. I like having a somewhat hungry belly so to speak and at the moment still enjoy doing things for money. An ideal day is something akin to Helen and Scott Nearing's schedule inovlving a few hours of bread labor but otherwise time to do as I please. Time to read, write, exercise, bike/ski/walk/float etc and time to spend with friends. That's definitely much more to the semi-ERE camp and I think lends itself to this insurance position.

I'd like at this point next year to be enjoying time at my cabin I built, having things designed to my liking. Having a garden that, along with ample hunting and fishing, provides for most of my food. I don't think that I'll be heading back to the bush to live full time within the next year. That may be more of a long term deal. So perhaps more of a modified Proenneke.

I'm not sure, thanks for the thoughts again. I have more to think on.

jacob
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob »

You might want to incorporate this concept into your concerns: https://samoburja.com/live-versus-dead-players/
This also pertains to the FI vs semiFI debate. It's not clear-cut to me that having to return to work from time to time makes for "live play". I can see live and dead situations obtaining from both the full and the semi version of some setup.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

I really like that framework. You are a good example of a live player, FI but not dead due to ERE and the web of goals. The traditional retiree is the opposite of course. Identifying which one would give me more life is a good exercise. With the forestry, the tasks are the same each day more or less, just in different places. As I mentioned earlier, it feels like a passive experience some of the time. It allows for the ability to travel in very remote communities and see traditional lifestyles or homesteaders in each location but it doesn't allow ME to live that life through that job. It's almost a form of eco-tourism in that sense. I could help others in their gardens or go out and assist them with other homestead activities in these communities after work, but once again it's activities for them, not me. I guess that's another reason why the insurance appeals to me. In that, I can pursue hobbies and expand my skillset. One worry that is if I were to do the forestry, I would not have much time on the weeks I'd have off to do all the things I'd like. If I go on a short backpacking trip, I can't garden. If I go fishing, I can't...etc. Hmm...

AxelHeyst
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

It's difficult to decide what the best course of action is when the goal, or design parameters, are unclear. This got pounded in to my head as an engineer. "Should we do X or Y?" is a meaningless question if the goal, or the design parameters, haven't been clearly defined.

An owner can come to us and say, "What is the best HVAC system for my building?" Until the owner tells us their budget, values, if they care about energy efficient or indoor air quality, capital expenditures or simple payback, we don't have enough information to make any kind of question. One set of answers/goals/design parameters will lead to overhead VAV with rooftop packaged units; the other set will lead to underfloor air supply with DOAS ERVs. Each of those solutions is completely inappropriate to the other set of goals/design requirements, as in, just sue us now, we're bloody incompetent.

The clearer the goal/design parameters are, the more obvious the "right" answer is. The hard part isn't deciding what to do, the hard part is deciding what you want. If you know exactly what you want, what to do is trivially obvious or easy to discover.

A technique I have used with some success over the past few years is to choose a goal/set of design parameters and "sit with it". I'll say to myself "Yes, X is what I want, I choose X over Y." Then I don't actually do anything about it, I just go about my life and allow myself to daydream/think/cogitate about my decision to commit to X. I try to observe how I feel, having made up my mind - am I yearning for Y more than I thought I'd be? After a certain amount of time, I've either learned enough from self-observation to actually commit and start doing X, or I'll back up and "sit with" committing to Y.

Jiimmy
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jiimmy »

@theanimal

Great journal you have here! I read it cover to cover today. I can relate to a lot of the feelings you shared over the years.

Western Red Cedar
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Western Red Cedar »

I think you've already received some great advice. Both are good options, but would require you to sacrifice other opportunities. It seems you are getting relatively serious with your girlfriend and I'm assuming you want to keep that relationship going. I'd make sure that your decision is collective if you pursue the forestry opportunity. Some couples are fine with time apart, but it has the potential to take a toll on a relationship if the timing or personalities aren't right for that dynamic. Talk to your girlfriend multiple times about this before you decide. She may not be entirely upfront about you leaving periodically over the summer because she wants to be supportive and kind. On the other hand, she may be perfectly fine with it.

One thing I always loved about my forestry, wildland firefighting, and restoration work was the ability to get paid and travel to remote locations. It provides the opportunity to see places you may never otherwise experience. Of course, if some of your goals are based around a home base, nomadic work doesn't hold the same appeal.

Public sector employment doesn't provide many opportunities for negotiation, but the one area for wiggle room in my experience is requesting unpaid leave upfront. If you opt for the forestry position, you could tell them that you have a trip planned later in the summer and that you'll need a couple weeks of unpaid leave (or possibly paid leave if you have vacation accrued). I think that request is a little less reasonable for the spring, because you're establishing relationships and expectations with your crew.

Based on your description of your ideal day it seems like the insurance, gardening, and local adventures may be a better fit. Just keep in mind that, whatever you decide, things will likely work out for the best. You are still young and have a lot of living to do.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@Jimmy- Thank you very much!

@WRC- Yes, negotiation is very limited. Retention rates are pretty high for this job (75% or so) so the relationships are already established with a lot of people to a good extent. It does definitely help to get in a groove with others, especially if I am leading them and there are those that are new but I will see what they say. I could see in past years jumping at the opportunity more for seeing new places but this year will be based out of the same location as the last for the most part. It could still be good though. The GF says she has no issues with me going and says we will be fine. I think it will take more work than it does now to make it seem normal like it is now. We'll see, I'll have to think about how to go about best doing that.

I'm leaning towards doing the forestry and just maximizing the free time that I do have by getting rid of the more shallow things that I do now, for example something like curbing twitter usage. I should enjoy the summer following this option and if it doesn't work out completely how I like then I'll reevaluate come the end of season and decide whether or not it's something I want to continue doing.

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate them.

mooretrees
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mooretrees »

I'm late to the game for advice as it seems like you've made your decision. But I thought I'd offer support for the forestry job as a great option. You get something unique (possibly) with that lifestyle in that you're sharing some above average intense physical 'adventures' with folks. That is an unusual experience and likely contributes to the high retention rate-it offers some tribe feeling that we moderns don't often get. One of my nephews went through the Naval Academy and on to Seals and besides his patriotism, he really was after the high level of camaraderie that those shared experiences offer. Plus he could shoot guns and blow stuff up :roll: .

As someone who played soccer in college and climbed trees for work, I can attest to some level of deeper connections to people you do stuff like that with. The lowest level connections are just some really cool stories, but sometimes it means you're friends for life no matter how different your lives might be. So, in that sense, forestry work seems more fulfilling, if you're interested in that. Now, I could be way off base about the reality of forestry work? But also, I think the mucking about in the forests gives you a deeper appreciation of your body and a bigger motivation to be healthy. Built in exercise and all that.

If my family ever makes our motorcycle to Alaska trip dream come true, I'd love to try and connect. DS has another year or so before he can get on a motorcycle legally so the clock is ticking.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@mooretrees-Please let me know if you do! I'll be here. It's always great to meet more forum members.

I appreciate your input and it did come in before I had to make my final decision known. I've mentioned in this journal and elsewhere on this forum how important community is to me. Experiences like my NOLS course as well as remote work experiences like forestry and extensive outdoor trips have cemented that for me. I really enjoyed the book Tribe and have been trying to find or establish my own community since leaving school, or perhaps even before then. Forestry definitely was a step in the right direction. It has offered the chance to do cool things in remote places with a small subset of people in environments where you are forced to interact and work with others for all your waking hours. I liked that. The limitation has always been that it is a temporary environment. Unlike those in special forces like your nephew, this job is just seasonal and even during the season, the community aspect is somewhat limited with all the time off.

This is a long way of saying that I reversed my earlier thinking and turned down the position. The people in charge of the program are my friends and were very understanding, even offering me the job I had last year (non leadership role) with the same parameters as last year (no need to go to training and only doing field work). I told them I'd consider it but at the moment I don't think I'll pursue it. Instead I look forward to spending time with my girlfriend, starting a large garden and finishing up my house, continuing to study spanish, going fishing, gathering morels, going on numerous backpacking/packrafting trips and doing some hunting come fall. I'll likely be spending a bit more time than I otherwise would (compared to previous summers) in front of a screen but I plan to take full advantage of the other time. We'll see how things turn out without the structured community aspect. At the moment I have no regrets, I think this path will work out well.

Vamos a ver. We will see.

mooretrees
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mooretrees »

Sounds like a great plan, in the end it's always your call and your plans sound fun, interesting and like a good year is ahead of you. Maybe with the gf, you're building a new kind of community? I've not felt the urge to travel in some years, instead I've been more interested in settling in to my home/community. I'll have to look into that book you mentioned, sounds like it was influential.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks @mooretrees
mooretrees wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:15 pm
I'll have to look into that book you mentioned, sounds like it was influential.
I highly recommend it. It can be easily read in one sitting. We talked about it on the forum as well https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.c ... php?t=7948

guitarplayer
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by guitarplayer »

@theanimal I'd love to have an idea of a place in Europe that I could compare to Alaska climate-wise to imagine your adventures better. Would you know?

EDIT: Okay, I would think somewhere on the Scandinavian far North!

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@guitarplayer:Yes, just imagine a colder Scandinavia. If you are familiar with Siberia, that is an even better comparison. Thankfully we don't have tigers here, unlike our boreal friends to the west. You can see them from Sarah Palin's house though.

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