Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
suomalainen
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Actually, this is pretty good

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:31 pm

I saw this the other day: http://www.outsidetv.com/show/detail/Be ... KAzcJ3yR/1 , and from the intro:
The 9 to 5 grind only gives us the weekend to really live…between full time jobs and families, our weekdays are slammed, but our weekends are for pushing adventure.
It only lasted three episodes, so I guess it didn't catch on. In any event, that's the attitude I used to have -- that work and family wasn't "really living", that I needed to be having constant adventures to feel alive.

Reminder:
suomalainen wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:41 pm
I realized, more poignantly than before, that scarcity of experience of Thing A is the very thing that makes Thing A special.
Yes, those scarce things are the embellishments that “add spice to life”, but work (salaryman, self-employment, volunteering, whatever, but doing something productive) and family/friends are the rice and beans of life. Spice, without accompanying nourishing foods, cannot sustain life. How is it that we denigrate the basic building blocks of life as "not really living"? I suspect the attitude has something to do with #firstworldproblems. Humans are problem-solving algorithms and to solve a problem, you first gotta find one. And when you've lived at the pinnacle of human existence...well, it takes real effort to shut down the problem-finding algorithm and to allow gratitude that you don't have any "real" problems (war, famine, disease, etc) to take center stage. Enter mindfulness.

I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.
I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.
I'm one of the luckiest sonsabitches to ever live on this earth.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:36 pm

@ek thanks! Sounds like you're on an upswing too!

@clarice I actually own the book, but I have yet to read it. Should put it next in the queue.

@fingeek Yes, I've been following along in your journal too and am curious to watch the discovery unfold. The stress/burnout is a sneaky sonovubitch - so hard to see it when you're in the middle of it.

suomalainen
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To everything there is a season

Post by suomalainen » Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:10 pm

An interesting short piece along the well-trod genre of "I'm old and here's some wisdom": https://www.glamour.com/story/how-to-be ... ith-viorst? But, actually, I thought this was pretty good:
When I was younger, I spent too much time obsessing over what would make me feel better or how I imagined a certain set of circumstances would magically transform my life and career. But I learned, though it took me a while, to look around and pay attention to what—if I’d let it—could make my life feel better right here and right now. My book Nearing Ninety opens with a wonderful quote from philosopher George Santayana, whose proposition all of us should heed: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” I believe he’s telling us that instead of wistfully looking back at what we once had, or anxiously imagining what might come, we ought to be seeking what satisfactions, what pleasures, what meaning, the season we’re in has to offer us.
It's trite and it's cliche, but, man, is it true. There is no constant but change. We change; our circumstances and surroundings change. What we want (or think we want) now and for the future is not some static thing, so we shouldn't cling to it as if it were.

To that end, I say this is my current season: I am a full-time worker and father who immensely enjoys his daily run. I do love the spring and summer and early fall, for the feel of the outdoors on my skin and for the way the blue of the sky and the green of the leaves assault my eyes and penetrate to my very soul. I love bathing in the forest and leaving the pollution of civilization behind, more metaphorically than literally, but that too. As the sights and sounds and smells of humanity are left behind, I love the feeling of pushing my body past the point of comfort, so that my focus sharpens to the movements of my body past tree after tree after tree. It is much easier to feel connected to myself when I can think of no thing other than putting my foot there, to the side of that rock and then there, over that branch and then there, avoiding the dead thing.

I have also found a way to carve out some good times in the late fall, winter and early spring (basically, skiing). Such cold times are not my favorite, but I am able to squeeze some satisfaction, pleasure and meaning from them. Like running, snowboarding and skiing become about the body's movement, about gliding down a mountain by simply shifting weight from side to side or front to back. Sharing this with my kids - the one thing I share with my kids that my wife does not, provides a sense of continuity that mere genetics does not. Having them adopt a thing that I love as a thing that they love is much more intimate than simply sharing DNA.

I've also been getting back into woodworking and biking, my sometime (sorta) passions. Biking is very similar to running and skiing in obvious ways, but woodworking is surprisingly similar to them as well, although the connection is more subtle. The commonality is the focus that these activities bring. It is very easy to get lost in the activity and to forget that anything else in the world exists. Like skiing or snowboarding, woodworking joins focus and skill to produce something beautiful. In skiing, the beauty is in the flow of the body, in the gliding down a mountainside. In woodworking, the beauty is in transforming raw materials into something beautiful and useful, in a manner similar to how it has been done for thousands of years, albeit with much more powerful and efficient tools.

The satisfaction, too, of all these activities is similar. Finishing a long run, a long day of skiing, a long day of woodworking leaves a feeling like...life was lived. There's just no other way to describe it. Like for those few minutes or hours, the very purpose of life was accomplished without a single wasted minute - or if you prefer Thoreau, that for a few brief moments, I am able to suck out all the marrow of life. I don't know whether such a state is sustainable for longer than a few brief moments - the body needs rest, the mind needs diversion and rest, etc., but these are things that THIS season of my life has to offer me. I have hated prior seasons, looking hungrily to the past or to the future for better times. But if I fixate on now, I see that nothing else need change. 'Twas simply the gaze that was wrong.

slowtraveler
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by slowtraveler » Mon Jun 10, 2019 12:42 pm

"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”

Something I've needed to learn as well. Instead of always chasing something else, I can choose to seek nothing other than what's right here in front of me. A radically different approach to life. Simple but so powerful.

Your journal paints a story of a beautiful transformation. I love to read your happiness radiating through your words as opposed to your initial contempt for your life. It seems you're really milking every drop of that sweet marrow.

I'm happy for you. Keep kicking ass.

suomalainen
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Summer

Post by suomalainen » Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:13 am

The kids are off school for summer vacation, which actually is a bit of a break for me and the wife too since we don't have to be on top of them with their schoolwork. We're still trying to find the best way to encourage hard work at school since the oldest decided that a C is "good enough". What an idiot. So, we experimented with various carrots and sticks and demands and whatnot, but when it comes down to it, you can't do it for them. We have a few additional ideas for next year, when he's a sophomore, but again, ultimately it's his life and he has to decide what he wants to make of it.

I've been trying to run every workday at lunch and have gotten to the point where I can run/walk 2.7, 3.5 or 4.2 miles 5 days a week. In the past I could never run 5 days in a row, but this new approach of just getting outside without worrying about pace or distance is freeing. I get outside and I'm happy. And, as it turns out, it gives you optionality. We went to Acadia National Park for a few days last week and I decided I wanted to run/hike Cadillac Mountain from our campsite, so I did. It turned out to be 9.7 miles! and I felt really proud of myself to have been in decent enough physical shape to do that on the spur of the moment.

Lastly, an analogy that I came up with from the private equity model: consider yourself installed as the CEO of a struggling company that manufactures and sells widgets which was bought by a PE firm with a value-add approach. When you take over the company, you institute a corrective-action plan that includes a six-sigma / kaizen type approach to streamlining the manufacturing process. After 6 months or a year, you're able to boost production while cutting costs, increasing your profit margins. But that's not everything. You've also had to think about marketing and sales, R&D, and strategic acquisitions. So you've had your hands full. But after two years, you've rationalized the business; you've made some strategic bolt-on acquisitions to increase market, geographic and product penetration; you've got new promising products in the pipeline. EBITDA is up, your entry PE multiple has been bought down via the acquisitions and maybe your exit PE multiple has even expanded due to being a larger player. Success! Time to move on to the next portfolio investment.

Where's the analogy? This forum and the ERE book and early retirement blogs/advice generally is kinda like that six-sigma / kaizen process: you are trying to find ways to live more efficiently - to increase your profit margins, if you will. And the forum or blogs could also kinda-sorta help you with thinking about other aspects of your life: dating/relationships (marketing and sales), hobbies/interests outside of financial engineering (R&D), and life planning (strategic acquisitions). But the difference between the former and the latter is important. The former (six sigma) is a thing that you can sort of approach mechanically. You'll need to make minor adjustments here and there, but in essence, those principles can be applied broadly by many people, so the advice becomes quite repetitive after you've surveyed the landscape - there's only so many variations of "buy less, save more." The latter (relationships, hobbies, life plans), on the other hand, are extremely diverse and personal. While you might broadly agree with some of the sentiments you read about, you really have to keep reading until you find a story that resonates with you. And even then, you can't simply copy and paste into your own life. You'll have to explore the nuances until you find just the right fit for yourself.

A long way of saying that since I've reduced my focus on maximizing efficiency (in other words, I've satisficed efficiency) and increased my focus on strategic thinking (in particular, tempering my expectations of how much happiness drastic life changes would bring me as I've thought about hedonic adaptation more and more in that context), I've been happier, less stressed and less anxious. Opportunities for enjoying "magical moments" that last a few seconds to a few minutes seem to have multiplied, and the fleetingness of those moments has become more appreciated (in other words, transience of magic is a feature, not a bug).

This focus was sharpened by chest pains I had a couple of weeks ago where I seriously wondered whether I was having a heart attack. I've almost died before, but it was sudden and without my control. Staring down the barrel of being undermined from within is a whole different experience. I've always thought my body would repair itself from injury, but the heart is not that kind of organ. And the similar stories related recently in @EK's journal drove the point home. Finding efficiency is a good thing, but once you've found it, time to move on and think about other things.

edit: cadillack vs cadillac, heh
Last edited by suomalainen on Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:47 pm

Good update as always! I hope the chest pain turned out to be a false alarm?

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Lemur
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Re: Summer

Post by Lemur » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:31 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:13 am
We're still trying to find the best way to encourage hard work at school since the oldest decided that a C is "good enough". What an idiot.
He/She is technically right. A "C" is average ;) But as far as installing work ethic into the brain...I guess this trait, like most traits, is a mix of genetic/environmental factors. Even if you've done your best to instill these traits, maybe nothing can be done due to the genetic factors? IDK. It could also be a problem of motivation (Peter Gibbons).

Well I know that grades don't always equal future success [success as defined by productivity / income in older age?] but in a small case study of myself and my 4 siblings...

Me: 3.5 GPA in high school, 4.0 in college, 3.9 in graduate school....90k a year.
Sister: 3.2 GPA in high school, 3.0 in college....60k a year
Older Brother: C average student from what I'm told, makes $15 an hour at Home Depot which is about double minimum wage.
Younger Brother: 1.8 GPA in high school, no college, bounces around from minimum wage to minimum wage job...15k a year?
Younger Brother[2]: 2.0 in high school, on/off college, minimum wage mostly but also some 'side hustles' ...unknown earnings.

The difference between myself/sister and my brothers, is for whatever reason, for reasons that I still don't know the answer to, my parents were much harder on my Sister than I when it came to grades, personal responsibility, and the like. I think my youngest brothers got the 'baby brother' treatments. Can't say for sure.

Now my son is 3 years old so hes not even in Kindergarten but I do wonder what things I could be doing now to install work ethic...I did have him pull weeds with me out of our front yard mulch for an hour. Quite a bit of work for a toddler but he held up pretty good. For the most part, I didn't feel my education growing up [looking in hindsight] had anything to do with IQ but had much to do with following directions and doing the grunt work like studying. So these traits I try to focus on in my son now...IQ that is TBD I think.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 2:42 pm

For better or worse, I think there is a very simple method towards improved study habits and resultant grades. You have to actually sit down with your kids while they do their homework until they get it done, reviewing everything they should be working on in every class, and possibly double-checking with teachers. Second best would be paying a decent tutor to perform this patience-stretching task for you. Rewarding or punishing independent functioning is not nearly as effective.

bigato
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by bigato » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:36 pm

Well i guess it depends on the type of personality. When I was about 9 years old, I moved from the countryside to a major metropolis and then started not caring much about studying because I don't know, maybe because of the new influence of the less disciplined guys which were probably more fun. Also I remember this one teacher who was terrible. When I got my first red score, a D if I remember correctly, my mother sitted with me and asked what was going on. After all, I had been this exemplar kid in school since always. Was able to read text better than some adults when the other kids were starting to learn the letters. So what was going on, she asked me, without being mad or anything. I explained the mess in school, etc. I don't remember exactly what she said, maybe something about needing to study more, or maybe she even offered to help. I don't know. I just remember that I felt that it was important that I should care more, and next test i got a B, averaging up to a C. That was the single time i had a problem with scores in school, and a simple talk solved it.

That's not to boast, but just to show that different kids will react differently. I was always left alone regarding my school stuff, all I had from family was incentives and cumpliments. During the first fours years in school I also happened to live with my grandparents whom didn't know how to read, so they couldn't help me. I was surrounded by lots of books though. I was also left alone roaming around for most of my childhood about most things. I tend to believe that I have grown to be an independent thinker and not fear making mistakes or going out in the world.

That also brought its share of problems, as I always had problems dealing with unwarranted authority or fitting in the established boxes in society. Like, I learned to read at seven, started programming BASIC at eight, but was never able to finish a degree because it would bore the hell out of me. And let me tell you that I suffered for it, and lost good oportunities. I was lucky in that I learned from childhood a skill that is very valuable nowadays, so that I ended up being able to climb the ladder and go places in my career. Now that I'm about to FI in less than two years, I don't have the intention of ever trying to finish a degree again, but it is always a source of some shame when I have to explain why is it that I don't have a degree. Well there was this electronics stuff that I studied for 4 years and it would be compared to college in US, but here college level is not really considered "having a degree". In some senses, my culture values formal education more than other places.

All this autobiographical bullshit was to tell that there are pros and cons about micromanaging children. That said, in doubt you'd better be following 7w5's advice because she actually knows what she's talking about on this.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:59 pm

@bigato:

I had a very independent childhood also, and I definitely erred on that side with my own children who exhibited mixed bag of scholastic performance vs inherent ability, but I have since learned better techniques. I might have made it sound like I was advising micro-management, but the core of what I was advising was in the simple statement "sit with them." It's more of an exercise for the parent than the child. If you just sit there with the kid while the kid works his way through his work, you will come to take a more nuanced interest in what the child is attempting. You shouldn't even be very authoritative in your manner, besides insisting on the sitting there together until done. Your manner could just be as if you were doing something like watching a glass-blowing exhibition. Either you will be watching, and maybe only occasionally respectfully commenting or questioning, as your child learns how to learn, OR you will, perhaps, come to the conclusion that there is something inappropriate about his current course of study or how it has been structured by his school or instructors.

fingeek
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by fingeek » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:20 pm

Thanks for the thoughts. Most importantly, I hope the chest pangs turn out to be a non-issue and that you do get yourself checked out. Balls and heart to the docs, that's the rule

suomalainen
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Ugh

Post by suomalainen » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:03 pm

I don't really feel like writing, but maybe it's the best (most honest) time to write. I've been feeling down. Not sure if it's related to these fucking heat waves we've been having. (Okay, I can tell this is just gonna be rambling bitching). I used to love summers and despise winters because I could be outside in the summers and felt trapped by winters, but now it seems to have flipped. These summers remind me of Houston summers. Fucking horrid.

Anyway, I've been trying to maintain my focus on the present, but it's been much harder than that golden month or so I had in the spring. Some of it must be summer heat related - I just don't enjoy my daily runs in the gawdawful heat, so that little slice of heaven has been taken away from me. I really noticed it today when it finally was back in the high 60s/low 70s from the recent 80s and 90s. I really enjoyed today's run. I've also been a bit bummed about the emotional toll the kids have on me; I'm tired of work - my main clients are a workaholic and a pretentious asshole. The former drains me from the mental demands of nonstop challenging projects and the latter drains me from having to manage his ego.

I think @2B1S and @cL have both sort of semi-EREd or similar recently and reading their preparations for their next phases has been refreshing. And depressing. I've accepted the fact that I can't quit my job for 10 more years, or I thought I had, but reading those journals has kept reminding me of that sort of taste of illicit freedom that frankly poisoned the well for a few years for me. (Is that even a sentence?) Trying to maintain perspective, I realize that freedom is a very important thing for me...but freedom from what, exactly? (or freedom to?...) That, I don't really know. And then it spins me off into the thought stream that I shouldn't have had children because I'm such a selfish prick and I'm probably doing a really shitty job as a dad, etc.

So yeah. Life can be rough sometimes compared to other times even when nothing has changed. It's just one of those things. I guess you just gotta put your head down and survive it, and when you find yourself thriving...enjoy it while it lasts knowing that...nothing lasts, but nothing is lost. RIP BRUTE.

PS Doc sez it was probably just reflux. I'm not even free to die. Sigh.

edit: This was my 668th post. The 666th post was in the hedge fund thread a few minutes earlier. something something the devil something something? :evil: :evil: :evil:

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Ego
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Re: Ugh

Post by Ego » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:00 am

suomalainen wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:03 pm
I'm not even free to die.
What do you think about the idea that as narrative creatures we become the story we tell ourselves?

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:29 am


Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:16 am

It's true. You could be closing in on 400lbs and homeless, albeit voluntarily.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:39 am

I don't know. Let's do the math. In order to lose 220 lbs. and secure shelter at SWR, you would have to walk approximately 35 X 220 miles at maybe mean velocity of 3 mph and earn maybe $400/.03 X 12 and maybe mean wage of $20/hr = something like 2566 +8000 =10,566 hours of life energy. OTOH, at a minimum raising 3 kids to age of functional independence in our society would be something like 12 hours/day X 365 days/year X 26 years =113,880. So, even if Suo is halfway done with that task, he is still objectively 5X less free.

suomalainen
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Re: Ugh

Post by suomalainen » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:27 pm

Ego wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:00 am
What do you think about the idea that as narrative creatures we become the story we tell ourselves?
Yeah I think that’s right. I mean this whole journal has been a testament to the power of narrative and the power of staying present in the moment and not letting that narrative spiral away from you (i.e., via rumination). But there’s only so much that consciously telling yourself that things could be worse is helpful. Consider all of the unconscious cognitive biases that usually occur without any effort. Stressors come in and you react. You physically react to those stressors. Ok, so it’s not a gun in my face and I’m not otherwise continually worried about my physical safety. Ok, so I’m not wondering where my next meal is coming from. But they are real stressors with real, tangible, measurable, physical, biochemical effects. Counteracting those cognitive biases that are wrapped together with the biochemistry with deliberate conscious effort is draining. And when you’re constantly having to put effort into managing your reactions to the stressors in addition to the effort you have to put into managing the stressors themselves....sometimes you just run out of gas and you have to piss and moan about how awful your first-world life is to a bunch of pseudonymous privileged early retirees (or wannabes) on the interwebs. This too shall pass.

bigato
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by bigato » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:10 pm

i'm not first world though ;p

Jason
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:29 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:39 am
he is still objectively 5X less free.
I guess the question then is how much more free is he than a 18th century elderly Russian peasant with a decrepit horse and a mangy dog? Suo has undergone this incredible transformation over the last year or so and I think its best to put a positive spin on his situation. Obviously, being better off than a Doystovoesky character is no great shakes, but perhaps it could provide small solace in light of the fact that he is being lapped five times over by a 400lbs man driving around America in a Winnebago pretending to be homeless.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:23 am

Well, unfortunately, due to the huge expense inherent in modern legislated luxuries such as zoning codes and child labor laws, I am hard pressed to declare Suo to be more than maybe 2.5 times more free than downtrodden Chekhov character.

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