bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

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bryan
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bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:42 pm

I figured now may be a good time to take a stab at journaling.

Why now? When I've specifically said in the past blogging feels like a chore and I probably don't have that much to share? Well, I just recently got laid off and I am sitting in the spectrum of "being FI." I'm also open to any advice, feedback!

So I wonder how I should start? I'm don't write good, and I'm worried that I come across as a bit of an asshole/bore/ugh online. It'd be pretty neat if there were a self-editing mechanism built-in (somewhere) where you could read your own writing as if it were someone elses.

Feel free to comment and take the journal off the rails. :twisted:

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:45 pm

Maybe it's best to just begin touching on the current events. From there I could go backwards, forwards, or just share some interesting bits. Blogging is pretty low on my priorities so I imagine if I get busy with anything I will neglect posting here (though I would still have the reddit/ERE forum addiction).

So, currently:
At the beginning of July, girlfriend and I are happy enough with a 1BR we found in Berkeley and signed the lease.

Part of the reason for moving was that we had sort of committed to moving out by telling our roommate that we were thinking about it and agreeing that ta should look for a replacement roommate. Replacement roommate was found quickly and actually everyone was cool if ta moved in immediately and we all split the ~$1500 rent (with one person occupying the den). So for ~$400 I had a full kitchen, ~8m walk to BART (theoretical ~40m transit commute to SF), a backyard, parking space for the van, bedroom shared w/ girlfriend (who also paid ~$400), and generally some nice square footage. Well, anyway eventually the other roommates began asking how our search was going.. what search? So we started our search.

By all accounts, the place we were living in was pretty good (other than a dearth of social life, and slightly long commute for the GF) and I liked the month-to-month lease given that the GF and I were both approaching our own sort of life inflection points (her graduating and first career job and my approaching FIRE). If not for the other roommates (making less income and "needing" the place more than us), we would have stayed. We clearly didn't think it through before making our proclamation of intention to move out. In the end we felt okay about finding a new place since our inflection points were looking like they would be about a year out and we both wanted to be closer to some social life. The previous year I had become quite unsociable, by default.

The GF required we live by ourselves while I required adequate parking for the van. We both preferred being close to some social life and preferably to BART. Most of the search was focused on the Oakland BART stations. If not for the van, we would be living in downtown Oakland, near Lake Merrit, or back in SF.. I considered selling the van.

The spot we settled on in Berkeley has private parking, is very close to Ashby BART (from theoretical ~40m -> ~25m transit commute to SF), Berkeley Bowl groceries, and a library (with tool borrowing!!), and other stuff. The bicycling options look good. Price? $1650 + bills (from ~$450 -> ~$850 for the number junkies following along). So we signed the lease.

About five days later, I got a call and was informed my employer is downsizing and I would be part of that downsizing! Talk about bad timing..

Felipe
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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by Felipe » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:04 pm

I'm happy you started this journal. You talk about some of the same topics as my friend Bryan from down 85.

It sounds like your transportation costs will go down in your new location but not by $400 each.

You mention having to find a van friendly space. Living in a van is likely cheaper but it seems you prefer living in a rental. So what inspires you to keep the vandwelling van when you're not vandwelling?

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by Kriegsspiel » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:16 pm

bryan wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:42 pm
I figured now may be a good time to take a stab at journaling.

Why now? When I've specifically said in the past blogging feels like a chore and I probably don't have that much to share? Well, I just recently got laid off and I am sitting in the spectrum of "being FI." I'm also open to any advice, feedback!

So I wonder how I should start? I'm don't write good, and I'm worried that I come across as a bit of an asshole/bore/ugh online. It'd be pretty neat if there were a self-editing mechanism built-in (somewhere) where you could read your own writing as if it were someone elses.

Feel free to comment and take the journal off the rails. :twisted:
Image

:D

Image

:|

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bryan
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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:33 pm

Subsidizing my GF, basically. We've been dating some years. While vandwelling her place was a nice pit stop on my usual migratory loop for a shower, toilet, bed, and home cooked meal. I'm reminded of this verse. Granted, when I listen to music I don't really listen to lyrics. So I'm just learning this song may be about a mistress, muse :lol:

So for the last/next year I'm with her helping with rent and bills. She's still working on her degree while working part time. I've been trying to convince her to get her own van and we can live like a couple of vagrants (it's the hip thing these days, to live in a van). She seems more inclined to move into the van with me (she hasn't driven a car in like 10 years..), but essentially on the condition that it's Instagram-worthy (and if you've seen me post elsewhere, it is much more of a barebones affair).

She hasn't quite gotten to the point of being good with financial planning (e.g. opportunity costs of such a long time to get a degree), even if she is pretty frugal (and puts up with my extremities*).

[*] :lol: :lol:

She is happy to go with me van camping, but having the rental be van-friendly means (hypothetically) I will get it into a less embarrassing (to her, maybe some freaks here would be impressed w/ the Spartan-like conditions?) state within the next year..

Before deciding on this rental, we were also considering renting some commercial real estate (garage, warehouse, or lot) and living in the van there while also starting some van-centric business. I figured it was closer to another year off.. bad timing, I say again!

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by Felipe » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:51 pm

You say Spartan, I say minimalist and functional.

I was mistakenly under the impression you both lived there full time and would share a single van full time. A van has to be less than renting in the bay.

Are you locked into the more expensive home? It's less than my friends in Oakland paying $1000 each to get a room in a 3br house.

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:39 pm

bryan wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:45 pm
About five days later, I got a call and was informed my employer is downsizing and I would be part of that downsizing! Talk about bad timing..
The Layoff

So, I am newly unemployed. I got the call after an all company call announced the layoff.

In some ways this news was expected. For at least the last year I have been under-utilized and my cost to the company is high given I am in CA (I was employee #1 in the USA for them four years ago; most of the company is in Europe). More than a year ago plenty of folks in the company have been skeptical about the probability of the company making any profit. There had been turnover of sales people and executives. From the very beginning the potential profit was at the end of the river, where anywhere up-river someone could put up a dam or divert the river. There were times during my employment where I was basically "engineering my layoff" instead of quitting.

Though, in other ways this was unexpected. I had been tactically involved directly in the majority of the company's important projects (subjective and depends on how you want to measure that.. but I can make an easy case with my performance reviews or colleagues'/CEO's opinion). Even during the periods of slacking; my raises were high enough that I didn't look too hard for other jobs. Even if the company planned on winding down, I figured I would be retained since I was a key person in the USA or perhaps our parent companies would absorb some employees.

While employed, this was really a great job in many ways. It was remote work most of the time with occasional tele-conferences with Europe. Occasional meetings with customers/partners in the Bay Area. Almost European levels of PTO. Pretty good insurance and employee contributions/matches. Some week long, month long business travel (a lot of time to Europe!) but never too much; I always took some PTO at the end of the business to enjoy the new places or visit my sister in Spain. Pretty nice paired with van-dwelling: not much pressure for commuting/anchoring or being overly presentable, didn't have to pay rent or bills while out of town. The actual work was hit or miss. Good industry (low level software for security i.e. trusted computing, like Apple's secure enclave or Intel SGX).

The major drawback was definitely a lack of local coworkers. I've been on an island for the most part. If it had been an American company I imagine I would have been put into a leadership position. After the layoff it has been radio silence other than a few close co-workers (no going out for beers with anyone..); you can't say everything you want to say over email/text.

Lots of memories made thanks to this job: moving me out to San Francisco, an amazing bicycle ride on the coast/mountains of France/Italy, exploring some underground nightlife in cities like Paris, Toronto, Antibes, Lisbon, Helsinki, or my sister showing me the very best of País Vasco/Euskadi (note to self, next post share some images!).

Anyway.. my PTO got cashed out and I got a bit of severance (less than expected; still waiting on it to hit my bank account..). I filed for unemployment but the last mail I got it looks like CA is willing to give me $0 (?? will have to look into that). I haven't yet rolled over the 401k to an IRA. I should probably start looking at COBRA.

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by halfmoon » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:09 pm

bryan wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:42 pm
I'm don't write good, and I'm worried that I come across as a bit of an asshole/bore/ugh online.
:lol: Plenty interesting so far. Keep it up!

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:21 pm

Two Months Unemployed

The time since being laid off has gone by very quickly! I haven't noticed any significant change in my everyday routine since when I was employed. Interesting.. But I am definitely wanting to shift towards a more active and social life than the last two months, year. I'm open to suggestions.

As far as expenses post layoff, they have largely held constant (rent dominating). I've paid for my GF's tuition the last two semesters and we've put it on the expenses spreadsheet as an interest-free loan to be repaid completely. We split rent and bills evenly, but I tend to pay for things when we go out, unless she wants to pay for a round or insists on paying for some reason. She has a full-time (junior) job in her industry but has slowly been working towards getting the degree. She has a lot of debt. So far what we've agreed in regards to her repaying me/others is for her to firstly pay for any bills and then transfer some balance to me such that she always maintains a comfortable minimum amount of money in her savings.

I completed the 401k rollover and just initiated an HSA consolidation. I've noticed that the last six months I've been more lax with keeping my non-automated mint accounts in sync in mint. One reason is being conservative so that my networth does not take a dive in the graphs (e.g. if I update the value of my Bitcoin, I would have to update it again to be lower in the event of a crash..). I estimate my networth to be >$600k.

My cash allocation is very high now given that I had a lot of cash already in my brokerage accounts and had relied on my 401k to be always fully invested (and now that portion is sitting all in cash). My current portfolio allocation is probably closer to a sort of "Larry Portfolio" style which means I have a lot of conservative investments (mostly cash in Vanguard) and a bit of very risky assets like Bitcoin. I'm probably going to leave everything as-is until either next year or renewing some large income stream.

So what now?

I don't know. I've not even told many people I am out of work.

I told one of my friends (a bit of an older mentor to me) that is in the same profession and we met up a few days later. Ta more or less offered me a job (ta is fairly senior, with a team and reporting, on occasion, directly to execs) at a major tech company. Ta mentioned it would be above market compensation for my years of experience (in silicon valley, e.g. high) and the signing bonus would be between 50k-100k, half of which requires staying at least a year.

That would be my easiest path to continue working, but I also have some ins at other companies/people that I've worked with in the past (that I haven't mentioned the lay off to). One solid connection is similar to the first (just less of a personal friend) working at a different major tech company.

The main problem with the above options is that all these large corps are rather notorious for bad work-life balance (not to mention needing to live in SV unless I want to bus from SF).

I could also pursue consulting/contract type work using my connections and niche experience. I could even get some business from my former employer given they don't have any engineering in the US any longer and they were very happy with the way I worked with customers/partners (day after the layoff I received a soft offer to move and work for them in one of the European offices.. I thanked them and declined).

Or I could start off into a new direction, focusing on more interesting/enjoyable projects/fields: learning a musical instrument and singing (and join/start a band?), put my dancing skills to more use than just for fun (e.g. go to classes and get background dancing gigs?), get back into embedded systems or computer architecture, Bitcoin-based or influenced ventures, digital governance, male fashion, van influenced ventures, projects for learning e.g. probability, augmented reality, or machine learning, micro-projects that would make interesting blog posts, or find my life's purpose/passion or the answer to "to what can I devote my life? who will I become?"

Or I could get a semi-retirement job that has some usefulness to some web of goals or is otherwise good in a way other than just providing a bit of income.

After two months nothing has really pulled me actively in any specific direction. I think my default course of action will be to renew designing the van to accommodate two persons for full-time dwelling and complete building it before my GF and I reach a moment of increased location independence (next summer).

If I were single I would probably pull a C40 and move back into the van and tour around for a while, immediately. It's possible that the GF could get remote work next summer.

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by BRUTE » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:49 pm

maybe commuting to SV and sleep in the van during the week, then drive back up to the GF over the weekend?

does bryan estimate $600k to be enough to live off in SF? brute would estimate that SF/SV in general would require a much higher FIRE number than most other places, just due to rent.

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bryan
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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:09 pm

Commuting for the week (or some flexibility therein, e.g. additionally working from home a day or two per week) is an option but it's just a drag to think of paying the costs while not getting much of the benefits. A big tech company in SV would probably pay for some relocation (>40 miles?) or pay any fees for breaking lease.. It's not an unsolvable problem, just not ideal. Smaller companies (and not so well aligned to my career history) are in the East Bay or SF.

$600k would be plenty if you were single and living in a van for some years or otherwise hacking rent on occasion. ~24k/yr might even mean not having to hack rent _that_ much (probably plenty if you supplement it with a part time job).. Obviously not enough if you want a family or have expensive hobbies/tastes (like living alone).

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Re: bryan's journal (bay area, van dwelling, bitcoin, trusted computing, strategist, tightwad, and more)

Post by bryan » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:30 pm

Social Security tidbit

It might also be interesting to point out that I've hit this point without obtaining the minimum number of credits/quarters worked to receive any social security when I'm older. I can't be exactly sure because the SS site where you can check has identifying info questions to create your account that are too ambiguous (maybe regarding my address? I forget..) for me to answer correctly, apparently. Anyway, I'm not too worried as I have many years to have some earned income to hit the minimum.

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