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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:29 pm
by bigato
If you guys don't like vegetables' taste to the point of having to dice them invisible, you probably could use learning some culinary techniques.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:57 pm
by theanimal
How do you determine what movies are culturally important?

Any more push ups lately?

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:15 am
by m741
@bigato - I don't think it's my culinary technique that needs improving, although I'm not a skilled cook. It's something I feel at pretty much any restaurant I go to: if there's mushroom, it's like someone just cut a mushroom in half and it still has that rubbery texture, or for example the free salad dish on an airplane - it'll have a full 1/4 of a tomato. I just hate these large chunks. Any Chinese food I've had has full 3-4 cm broccoli pieces that are half stalk, etc.

@theanimal - I had some concepts in mind and I wasn't looking for something objective or comprehensive. In part it was an excuse to see older movies. I looked at "Top 100 Movies" lists and added movies that I'd heard of. I've not seen enough famous movies that I had to at least have heard of it. I skipped many movies that I'd seen here, because this is a more forward-looking list. But for example, AFI has The Deer Hunter at number 79. I've heard of this with some regularity, I've heard brief plot references. I think I could name an actor or two in it, despite not having seen it. AFI also has Wuthering Heights at 73. I read the book in high school, but I've never heard of the movie. I never heard anyone talk about it.

From these lists I eliminated movies I had zero interest in, usually because of their genre. For example, I have no interest in horror movies (outside of Hitchcock or zombies). I also pulled in some lists of canonical foreign movies. Some of these were on "Top 100" lists (eg Truffaut, Fellini), but many were not (Akira). I also added movies from famous directors that I have not seen, even if they are not highly regarded, and summer blockbusters/popular movies that I might have missed. Finally I added some pulpy movies that I'd heard of as frequent inspirations for filmmakers, such as Jason & The Argonauts. I have almost no movies from the past 15-20 years. These are "easy" to watch, the pacing, acting, etc are all very comfortable. It's also unclear which of these will have any legacy. So they're not on my list.

As an example, the top movies on my list that I have not seen yet are: Godfather Part II, Gone With the Wind, Some Like It Hot, Ran, Beauty and the Beast, Taxi Driver, Bonnie & Clyde, La Dolce Vita, The 400 Blows, The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

I haven't started with the pushups, though I have done some dumbbell bench press. I'm adding pushups to my list for next week. :)

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 1:07 pm
by George the original one
m741 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:15 am
As an example, the top movies on my list that I have not seen yet are: Godfather Part II, Gone With the Wind, Some Like It Hot, Ran, Beauty and the Beast, Taxi Driver, Bonnie & Clyde, La Dolce Vita, The 400 Blows, The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
Put Some Like It Hot at the top of your list for a light-hearted evening.
The Creature From the Black Lagoon is best seen in 3D. It's really quite a dull movie without the 3D.
Ran is definitely not the best Kurosawa flick and likely had the least cultural impact; if you've not seen any others by him, you should exchange it.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:19 pm
by m741
August, 2019


A very busy month - three weddings, several trips, and lots going on. It's been chaotic, and it will remain so through mid-September, when the gf's father comes to visit us.

It's not been as bad I expected but I'm still exhausted. The good news is that I will soon have caught up with pretty much everyone (friends, family) who are located outside Seattle.

Work is a little less interesting than before, but still good overall. I may have an update in the next month depending upon how some conversations go. I don't have too much to expand on in that area. I'm actually looking forward to the regular work/life routine to be honest.


Basically flat for the month in a mixed market. I didn't take too much action this month, but the biggest thing I did was make some serious donations. I've been wanting to donate more and my plan is basically to donate 2x (20% of post-tax income) every other year, and nothing on the in-between years. This allows me to improve my deductions (itemizing my deductions one year and not the next). And I smooth out the difference because donations are through a donor-advised fund, so the actual amount dispersed to nonprofits every year is about the same. I'm also donating stocks that have appreciated, so it's a nice way to balance the portfolio and not take a hit (or just get rid of holdings I'd otherwise feel "stuck" with). Let me know if it sounds like I don't understand the tax system, because otherwise I'll be donating pretty heavily for the next few months.

I also helped the gf out with her 401k - she's a novice financially - and it felt good. I think without my pushing she probably wouldn't have realized how much of a match she was giving up. This brought something else to mind: I'd like to work on some sort of personal finance summary video (animated) for YouTube. I always hear people on these boards say that personal finance should be taught in high school, and while I agree I think you can get like 90% of the information in one 40-minute video: basically one class period in school. I might have a separate post about that in a month or so.


I've made progress overall, sporadic or not (mostly sporadic). In mid-September I hope to have another update. I have a pretty nice set of goals/projects that I hope to work on and which I'm really excited about. This is something I was hoping to figure out during the year and I'd really really love to be working on them right now - but life is in the way. Within a week I hope to be back to a semi-normal schedule and ready to get started.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:53 pm
by m741
September, 2019


September saw the (near) end of our busy summer. We had no weddings (after three in August), but were traveling for about two weeks. Also the gf's father visited for a week. We have one more wedding in October and then almost nothing at all planned, which I'm really looking forward to.

Work was pretty mixed. Some interesting work, lots of drudgery. It's the last (kinda) phase of a project and to me the most interesting part is when there's still some problems to solve beyond scaling things up. I think October may prove to be either rewarding or interesting, and maybe both.

I have a renewed interest in both guitar and Spanish - it's amazing what a few small habits or tweaks will do to help you keep on track (in this case, finding a good slowly-spoken Spanish podcast that I can listen to on my commutes and having a fun amp to use for guitar).

Although I'm excited to attend the wedding of one of my college friends, I'm also really looking forward to a (mostly) uninterrupted 3 months without any long-term plans.


Mostly stable, slightly down overall. But that's not to say unchanged. I have two projects I'm working on financially which I haven't seen much discussion of.

1. Charitable donations. In 2017 I opened up a donor-advised fund (DAF). It's basically a pool of money that gets invested at a time of your choosing. You take tax deductions when contributing. I used that in 2017 to make a bunch of donations, since I knew I'd be traveling in 2018 and not getting a huge income. I've decided to donate 10% of my income per year. Now I'm trying to make two years of donations in one year, also for tax purposes. I'm well on my way to achieving this. With a DAF you can donate investments, getting a deduction for the full amount appreciated, so it's a good way to both make a donation and adjust your portfolio.
2. Trying to figure out what my portfolio should be. I had a lot of individual stocks from ~2013 or so when I was focusing on dividend investing. Now I'd prefer to hold indices. I've sold off a lot of stocks, but my feeling is that it would be better to have a basket of 10-20 assets than a single one (since you have more flexibility in terms of what to do - there will be a wider spread of outcomes). I'm thinking about tweaking stock investments to be in sector ETFs, but I have more research to do.


I'm doing pretty well. Still behind on almost all the goals, but catching up. I'm expecting to finally be on track with guitar practice this month, after a bit of lagging. Spanish - I have a busy month planned but I may not hit my yearly goal. Finally, I think I'm ready to start running again. And I've been pretty consistent with my diet.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2019 11:15 pm
by wolf
Thanks for the update m741.

Currently I also do some researche on my prefered investment strategy. It's the other way around. I thought I wanted to hold up to 15 index ETFs in my portfolio. But then I reconsidered due to some documentary about BlackRock and the talk here in the forums. My current idea is that I only hold 55% of my portfolio in ETFs and the other 45% in about 40 individual stocks.

So I'm interested to here more about your thought process, why you change from individual stocks to ETFs? Was dividend investing not as expected? (too much effort, too less outperformance, too small total return, ...?)

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:12 am
by m741
I had mixed feelings about dividend investing.
The pros:

- Dividend stocks naturally tend to be pretty stable unless you're really chasing yield (which I did a little of...).
- It was super-rewarding to calculate monthly/quarterly income and to see that go up. I would calculate dividends ("I received $200 in dividends this month!" And that was reinvested so next month it will be 10 CENTS MORE!) It felt much more concrete than working off of SWR percentages and this was appealing to me. Literally every month I'd list out the dividends and I tracked a rolling average. This was the line I really trusted for calculating how close I was to being retirement-ready.
- For this reason I thought it was a good start for someone who wanted to do a little bit of legwork (ie, not "settle" for index funds), but not really dive all-in to investing. It kept me motivated and I don't regret it.

The cons:

- If you want to diversify at all, you'll end up holding 10+ stocks. More likely 20. It's a lot to keep track of. Many will be purchased for some reason or another (good yield or something), when you know nothing about the underlying business (gas pipelines, etc). Then you may get stuck with them (don't want to realize gains yet...) I understood after about a year that researching purchases and keeping up to date meant wading through a lot of BS and salesmanship, and that this wasn't really a hobby I enjoyed. Ideally you'd buy+forget but that's a dicey for individual stocks compared to index funds.
- Individual stocks are simply riskier than index funds.
- You can't buy individual stocks in most retirement accounts.
- I didn't need income (I'm still working right now - took a year off but had a lot of cash).
- Getting dividends is a taxable event. So I was getting all these dividends and paying taxes on them when I could have been holding an ETF with much lower yield and not getting taxable gains.
- Getting dividends is a taxable event. Which meant taxes were obnoxious. Some of the most appealing assets were MLPs (which I owned a few of) and these had special tax rules that were even more onerous.
- Some dividends are taxed at the income tax rate rather than capital gains tax rate. I'm working, so that's higher.

I still like dividends, and that they are more stable companies, so I own a dividend mutual fund - but most of that is held in a tax-advantaged account.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:52 am
by m741
October, 2019


This was the end of a very busy year of weddings, so the gf and I were traveling one weekend. I'd really hoped to stop but I have two work trips coming up (both tied to work/family events with the gf - it's handy working for a large company with offices everywhere). I'd rather stay home for these.

In spite of my best efforts, my career seems to be advancing. I think I landed in a very good area for me. I'd previously been on two teams at my current company. One was extremely well-organized, with very very smart engineers, but the work was methodical and slow. The second was poorly-run but with good engineers, the work was interesting, but the team didn't fit into any group in the company and was also remote from management.

My current team has smart people who are somewhat sloppy engineers. The product area is very interesting and while the team is remote, the whole larger group is scattered across the company and we're a large office in Seattle so it doesn't feel remote. I'm a pragmatic programmer - I like clean code but I really want to deliver, and neither previous team was a good fit for that. I think my manager (who joined the team two years before I did) was looking for someone like me. So I think I have a chance to really contribute and help improve the culture here and also do interesting work and learn a lot.

I'm still really unclear about my future, maybe more than in the past. I have a great day-to-day life situation here. I had not planned to work longer-term and was seriously considering cutting hours, but I may delay that now. I work 8:30-5, with little pressure to work longer or later, and have a short commute, and this is enough to put the work below my "pain threshold." And as I'm donating more there is another motivation to work a bit more that goes beyond myself.

I'm also enjoying Seattle, but it's unclear whether I'd want to live here "long term" (5-10 years). Maybe that's a bad way to look at things... looking so far ahead, and being so picky. It's what kept me from ever wanting to fully put down roots in NYC, it's a very limiting mindset. Maybe nowhere would satisfy my biggest concerns (have a little space, decent public transit, good outdoors opportunities, clean welcoming environment) and my gf's biggest concerns (city with interesting cultural events, large enough to support her industry, decent public transit, liberal political environment). I'd be 100% happy with Seattle (or the Seattle area) except for one thing: chronic homelessness and the drug situation (opioids) is extremely bad here, though it's thankfully focused around the downtown. It's far more visible than NYC. And I also realized that Seattle is the first place I've lived that's more liberal than I am; some of the policies around homelessness make no sense to me. The homelessness just weighs on me - and I don't commute through the downtown. Outside of that it's a good place to have a family. But we'll see what happens over the next few years; everyone in the city is aware of the problem, although there is a wide spread of opinions about how to deal with it. And in other respects Seattle is doing much better than the rest of the country. Particularly around transit - yes, there's traffic problems, but it's no LA or Silicon Valley, and there's actual progress on improving public transit and roads. IMO the transit is better on a daily basis than NYC, though it's obviously a smaller city. There's a lot of NIMBYs but there's also a lot of zoning changes that are adding housing and densifying the city. And I like the $15 minimum wage.


A good month with gains across the board due to the strong stock market.

I've continued to push charitable donations into my DAF, as well. It's accumulated a sizable amount and it's growing, even as I make grants to nonprofits.


I'm doing well on my goals. I spent 20 hours this month speaking Spanish online and feel like I've reached "fluency," at least with reading and speaking. My grammar is mediocre and my ability to listen depends on the person/accent.

I've also been getting more and more into guitar and music generally and I'm looking forward to all the things I have to learn.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:34 am
by George the original one
m741 wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:52 am
I'd be 100% happy with Seattle (or the Seattle area) except for one thing: chronic homelessness and the drug situation (opioids) is extremely bad here, though it's thankfully focused around the downtown. It's far more visible than NYC. And I also realized that Seattle is the first place I've lived that's more liberal than I am; some of the policies around homelessness make no sense to me. The homelessness just weighs on me - and I don't commute through the downtown.
You'll find this is true of Portland, too. Evidence of homeless population, the encampments and sidewalk occupations, has more than tripled in the past decade. I'm not sure if the actual population of homeless has grown that much, but their visibility definitely has... the last count of Portland homeless was only 2,000-3,000 people.

Smaller towns (e.g. Medford) have populations of homeless, but it is easy to avoid seeing their camps. Small towns on the coast, like Seaside & Astoria, have homeless, too, but they pass through rather than continue staying in the area. Here they are usually living out of a car.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 5:15 pm
by m741
@GTOO - Yes, I noticed the same thing when I visited Portland and the trend has been the same. In the 2018 Annual Homelessness Assessment report on homelessness, Seattle was ranked as number three in absolute terms among cities in the US; the homeless population is 50% less than NYC but the city itself is significantly smaller, I believe the chronic homeless rate is about 10x that of NYC. General homelessness is down substantially in the US but it's up on the west coast. In relative terms WA, OR, CA, HI are all substantially above the national average, presumably due to the temperate climates and maybe the liberal policies. The impression I get from the report is that homeless individuals have overall moved westward over the past few years.

Despite the trend I think there's reason for optimism, so I'm going to give it a few years.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 6:14 pm
by m741
November, 2019


Huge update this month. Earlier this year I'd chatted with my boss and she'd brought up the possibility of my moving into a manager role. I thought about it for a while and the team priorities were all over the place, so I wasn't that enthusiastic. In the past month she clarified things more and resolved most of my concerns. So I accepted the role.

It's a half-and-half role, I'd be a part-time manager and a part-time coder. That's OK with me; I'm not sure I'd enjoy moving out of the coding role so suddenly. It's something I've been interested in, but on all previous teams I wasn't thrilled with it: one team was in an incredibly political organization and I was junior; the second was staffed with extremely talented engineers and was well-run - so I wouldn't add much; the third lacked all direction and was floating along. This team has a strong mission, but poor plans. It's a super-interesting area and the engineers are strong but I think i can bring some clarity/focus (famous last words). It also feels like there's a vacuum in mid-level leadership, so I have some room to grow.

I accepted the role in the middle of the month and it's superseded my other priorities, especially Spanish. There's a ton to learn and a lot of challenges I'm sure I'll have to overcome. I've thought about it nonstop for much of this month, in addition to putting pretty much every book about technical leadership, team-building, etc, I can find on hold at the library (suggestions recommended - I may list out the books I found most useful in a follow-up post). I expect to push myself for at least 3-6 months in this role as I try to find the appropriate balance, shuffle things around and demonstrate my abilities. I'm OK with that since there's a lot to learn.

Part of my rationale in accepting the role is that this is a challenge I was always somewhat interested in, and it's something that's extremely difficult to find post-retirement (there's nonprofits but I feel like that's a very different, much softer thing). In committing, I've also made a mental commitment to try to stick out 2 years in the role. That coincides with the 2 years I'm setting aside to continue in Seattle... and then it would be time to step back and re-evaluate. It's also a point when I think the gf would have paid off her student loans and have gotten a 401k up to speed. I feel travel calling again, in part because Seattle is not as perfect as I'd built it up to be, but mostly because I do miss the long-term travel from last year, especially now. I don't want to overplan and live perpetually in the future... and who can say how I'll feel about the role after 3, 6, 9 months, let alone 2 years?

Beyond that, I'm traveling to Texas for a week, mostly for work, and then will hopefully have two months to zone out in the house and focus on hobbies and work - including a 10-day stretch around Christmas.


The market continues to go up, and so do my savings. I'm donating a bit more than I expected earlier this year. I enjoy it and have sufficient income to do so. My plan remains to donate twice as much this year and then nothing next year, pooling donations in my Donor-Advised Fund and disbursing them evenly over that time. My individual stock holdings are quite slim.


I stopped the individual tracking of my goals for a few weeks. I've really been playing a lot of guitar. I'm at a point where I have the basic technique down, know a few scales, and finally learned a few licks. I can go up and down the fretboard and improvise and it sounds tolerable to me. It's easy for me to put on a 10-15 minute backing track on YouTube and just zone out playing the whole time. I'll keep enjoying this for a few months, trying to work on different things. I'm thinking of guitar more as a language than anything, and part of that is getting in enough repetition to build fluency.

Conversely, I have not been focusing on Spanish nearly as much - just a few conversations each week. A lot of the spare time I'd devoted to that (podcasts on the bus, youtube videos after work) has been cannibalized by manager stuff.

Other goals are mostly static, eating about the same, hoping to get back into running, etc.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:14 pm
by bostonimproper
Congrats on the new role!

Word of warning, though: I've found that half-IC and half-management becomes untenable pretty quickly for most people. The cadence of the former requires long uninterrupted chunks of flow time and the latter requires responsiveness. It's not impossible, but it can be very hard. Just my two cents.

In terms of books (technical and non-), I've liked reviewing the Google SRE book, Difficult Conversations, and The First 90 Days when joining a new team.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:23 am
by m741
@bostonimproper - Everyone says congrats, but it doesn't feel like a promotion exactly :). I'm kinda happy that I'm still coding, not because I love coding so much (although I do), but because at least I have some concrete control over a few things. It's frightening being a backseat driver for some of the team's other projects. I did realize within a week that yes, it's difficult stopping coding and going to a meeting - that's something I was aware of for pretty much my whole career. But the switch from a one-off meeting or two to coding is much easier than the switch from a series of bird's-eye view meetings to coding!

Thanks for the book recommendations. I read Difficult Conversations maybe two years ago. But at the time I wasn't having any difficult conversations, so it wasn't that relevant. I should probably revisit it!

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:52 am
by bigato
I like “The Mythical Man-Month”

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:03 pm
by m741
December, 2019

I started slowly settling into the new role. I've been working a lot harder than earlier in the year, though not a whole lot compared to other points in my life. I've been doing some reading about this ("Mythical Man-Month," "Managing Humans," "Phoenix Project," "The Goal," "The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team", and some HBR essays), overall pretty enjoyable though nothing ground-breaking so far. I still have a lot to learn, but I think I'm doing the right things overall right now. I expect January to be really important, for a number of reasons (transitioning out of "2020 planning" into more IC work, building relationships with team members, establishing track record, etc). Probably the most difficult thing for me is that most of the people on the team are either my age or older, and all have more tenure in the area, sometimes by 8 years. So it feels a bit weird to step in as a newcomer.

I was able to step away from work for about 10 days during the Christmas period. Also, only one trip during the month, to Texas (work/visiting family). It was pretty quiet - it can be difficult to connect with friends during the holidays, and mostly I lounged around the house with the gf, played board games, watched some TV, noodled on guitar, etc. It was more productive than some similar periods in the past, but also I was definitely not productivity-minded. The new year is pushing that into gear for me.

Well, I didn't do much in December. Honestly, I forgot to do some end-of-year tax optimization stuff and just realized last night after the NYE fireworks went off... too late! But, I don't think I would have made many changes overall.

How can I summarize the year? Net worth went up 20.6%, no small feat, though a lot of it is the bull market. I shifted to a slightly more conservative strategy, and will make more adjustments this year. I donated a LOT of money, two years worth of donations in a single year as part of a tax optimization strategy around donations.

I hadn't run "ERE numbers" recently, and also don't have a good picture of my expenses recently, which are certainly higher than in the past, but if I guesstimate high expenses I still see that my lifestyle is sustainable right now. I really need to run through expenses to see if I understand what's going on - a goal for January/February of 2020.

I got strong raises at work as well. I was definitely underpaid, maybe by 10-15%. I think I was slightly underpaid relative to experience/performance when in NYC, and then took a cost-of-living adjustment moving to Seattle (basically nullifying the lack of state income tax), and also some equity compensation wasn't great due to my year off. I have a good relationship with my boss, who I think appreciates what I can do, which is one reason for the raise; on other teams I either did not stick out or the team itself was somewhat marginalized. Also as the promotion/side-motion takes effect, I'll have exposure to my reports' salaries, which I expect is another incentive to get mine up to par. The net effect is that I'm expecting to see a lot more payroll contributions to net worth in 2020 relative to 2019.


In November/December as I shifted to the management focus, my goal-logging tailed off. Nonetheless, let's look at what I did during the year:
* My goal was to study Spanish for 300 hours. I logged 204, and probably totalled around 210 for the year, or 70% of my goal.
* I was aiming for 200 hours studying guitar. I logged 166, and practiced a lot in November/December, so I'd estimate I hit 190-200 hours. I'll say I completed this goal.
* I aimed to run 400 miles, but only ran 144, or 36%. I could have easily hit this goal just running part of my commute, but was very cautious with back problems (and then in the fall I was lazy).
* I aimed to do several tens of thousands of pushups, and ended up doing almost zero.
* I aimed to lose a significant amount of weight and ended up gaining about a pound. Essentially no progress.
* I aimed to read 25 graphic novels or series, and read 26, so completed this goal. My favorites were: Saga of the Swamp Thing, Akira, Transmetropolitan, Acme Novelty #20, Essex County, and American Splendor.
* I aimed to watch 53 important movies, and watched 16, or 30% of the way to this goal. I deprioritized this goal midway through the year because I simply don't have the patience to watch a lot of movies.
* I aimed to complete 15 video games (or campaigns within them) that were interesting to me and maybe significant, and completed 7, or 47%. I enjoyed Sniper Elite 4, Doom (original), Raptor: Call of the Shadows and some of the AoE2 campaigns the most (I started playing old 90s games in December and wanted to complete some classics I loved as a kid but was never good at).
* I aimed to make a number of Kiva loans and hit my goal there.

So overall, I hit a number of goals, made very good progress on others, and basically discarded a few. I had attempted to define concrete things I wanted to do (eg "record an album") but never really made progress on this. My approach was reasonably focused, but in 2020 I'm going to be even more focused, and my goals will be in four areas, listed here in descending importance:

* Fitness - I really deserve to be healthier; this is a drain on energy, motivation, and I can see that my mediocre health and poor fitness habits will catch up to my this decade if I'm not careful. There's a lot of easy stuff I can change about my lifestyle to hit this goal if I am disciplined.
* Guitar/Music - I enjoy this, there's a lot to learn, I generally have enough energy to work on this after work. It's a fun way to meditate or express myself, however clumsily. Primarily I want to keep working on guitar, but maybe throw in a few other instruments/programs to record an album.
* Spanish - I enjoy this and have made progress over the years, but it can be tiring after work - hence the lower ranking.
* Consuming "creative works" - I'm just bucketing movies, games, books, graphic novels as interchangeable. This is nice to explore, but it's definitely less impactful to me than really working on other goals. I don't want to hit these goals and miss goals that require more effort.

I'll go more into 2020 goals in my January update.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2020 12:21 am
by m741
February, 2019

Work continues to go well. I'm (mostly) enjoying the new role. It's more stressful, but it's exciting, there's a lot to learn, and I think I'm pretty good at it. At least, my boss (and boss's boss) seem to be very satisfied with what I'm doing in the position.

The downside is that it's a lot to juggle - I have programming responsibilities but also management responsibilities. And it's definitely taken up more time than expected. I'm really trying to impose some sanity on my schedule, which has been busier the past few weeks than for a long time before. That's mostly an internal sense of responsibility. I still talk to the coach about once a month, and I've found that to be really useful - one of the things we've discussed is how to think about the time commitment and how to try to constrain it - also how to justify it (or not).

Due to coronavirus fears, pretty much everyone in Seattle is working from home. I really don't enjoy working from home, but this is a great opportunity to see if I can get better at it. If I can work from home then it opens up a lot of doors.

Life has been good, I took a trip to Hawai'i for a week and I'm relatively content for things to proceed unchanged for the next year or so. Longer term, I'm thinking of another trip or maybe to try moving to Europe. But that's at least one year out, maybe more, and might never happen.


The market's gone down, but that hasn't had a major impact on me yet. I lost a few months of savings/market gains; I'll admit that I procrastinated looking at my investment account, but the results so far haven't been as bad as I expected. They've also presented few opportunities, there were no tax losses to harvest and for most of the funds I've found, the current market amounts to a "sale" of just a few months. I don't really want to deal with finding individual stocks that might be cheap, so it's mostly a waiting game; I continue to average in through regular purchases.


I haven't done any updates about my 2020 goals yet this year, and maybe that's for the best. My number one goal, first implicitly and then explicitly, was to perform well in my new role. I view this as a maybe-limited attempt to prove that I can do well at this (if I end up retiring in a few years), and consequently, I don't want to botch the opportunity.

My second goal is around diet. As always, I was doing well through mid-January, then got caught up in work and rebounded. Then I felt really gross and out-of-shape when I went to Hawai'i a few weeks back. I'm all-in on diet now and as soon as I return to the office, I'll be running more to commute. Daylight Savings Time will also be huge; we're finally out of the dark season in Seattle.

My third goal is around music. I found a good teacher, though I only attend lessons about once a month since he's so busy. But conversations with him unblocked me, I got over some hurdles and changed my perceptions, and now I spend a substantial amount of time recording music. It's super-basic, but I'd characterize the results as "listenable." Mostly I just use an electric guitar, a u-bass I bought, and Reaper. I have a number of harmonicas and picked up an 8-string ukulele, and I think this will keep me occupied for a while. I can find a drum loop, pick a key, set things up, and record to get about a minute of a "song" (bassline, chord sequence, melody, some accents and some effects). An hour can pass by very quickly, it reminds me of when I used to do serious photoshopping. I'm enjoying this; it's a lot easier than the explicit practice I was doing, and I'm learning a ton. At some point I'll need to balance recording and practice. My goal was to record an album this year (just at home, with no requirements around quality - just that I'm kinda satisfied with the results), and I'm completely confident that I can do that.

Every other goal is secondary given my time/energy constraints. Spanish is basically on maintenance mode. I feel like I hit a lot of my targets for that towards the end of last year; I'd like to learn more, but I'm also not embarrassed by my level and can communicate pretty well. I have a soft goal to do a "10x10" of boardgames: play 10 board games 10x each during the year; the gf and I have currently played 27 out of 100 times total. Creative works goals are unlikely to be hit at the current rate, but these were least important to me anyway.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:48 pm
by m741
March, 2019
All of March I worked from home. That will continue for April, as the quarantine here in Seattle was extended to May 4. It's been pretty weird, and not as bad as I expected once I got a monitor, mouse and keyboard.

I continue to like the new position, and my boss is very happy so far. She's hinted that there's another team which she might ask me to manage in ~September. It's very early, certainly not a sure thing, but it is a possibility and I think it would be an additional, interesting challenge.

I still don't want to get tied too tied up in things, so we'll see how this develops. At least I'm learning a lot.

Beyond that, it's awfully slow. Each day is pretty much the same (roll out of bed, work, shower and have lunch, work, be lazy, cook and watch 40 minutes of TV, play some guitar or video games, read a little and back to sleep) and the weekends are pretty slow. I'd like to get out and go hiking, but I think some trails are closed, and some are packed. That said, at least we have a backyard and front porch here, and the situation is under control, so at least we're in better shape overall than NYC. The gf and I do a walk around the neighborhood every other day. The weather here has been getting nicer and nicer.

I've been doing a little gardening recently, and growing some herbs, stuff like that around the house.

As with many people on the forums, this is my first real downturn in the stock market; I think I started investing in 2010 or 2011. At the start of April I was down 12.8% from my peak net worth at the start of February. Not bad, and that's in part because I had accumulated quite a bit of cash (as well as some hedges in gold).

I intend to hold and the dip & recent bounce have provided my with a good way of gauging my emotions. I made a few adjustments - selling individual stocks that had finally accumulated long-term losses - and buying index funds. And I did a tiny reallocation from a small-cap fund into a world fund. Otherwise, I intend to invest ~$10k slugs into the market every few weeks, in addition to my regular purchases.

Beyond that, over the past ~2 years I've been working with the gf, giving her financial advice and helping her calculate how to best pay down her insane student loans (_really_ insane). She also got a promotion at work (fortuitously, just before the downturn), and I helped her negotiate for a higher salary. To be honest I never really negotiated a raise myself, (getting regular raises that probably were consistently 2-3% lower than they should have been, and this compounded a bit), but given changes at work I think I'm going to really push for a more serious adjustment with my manager that this fall, given my new responsibilities.


Not that great. I think taking the bus helped me get up motivation to practice guitar, etc. Also I think I reached something of a plateau in guitar and Spanish, at a roughly intermediate level, and so I see slower progress and it's easier to kinda noodle aimlessly, justify it as "practice" and not stretch my boundaries. I'll need to see if I can bust out this month. I have enough time! It's the energy that's missing.

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 4:25 pm
by DutchGirl
Life might have been a bit draining, recently. It might be a bit psychological, the emotions and the adaptation to this new situation. Perhaps it's also a bit of end-of-winter blues.
Hopefully you'll feel better in April.

Great that you're doing well at work and developing yourself there!

Re: m741's ERE Journal

Posted: Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:40 am
by DutchGirl
How have you been, this month?