bigato's journal

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

Post by classical_Liberal » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:43 pm

bigato wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:54 pm
Another thing that could potentially happen...
The deeper I get into ERE, the more options that present themselves. You obviously have a ton! I'm learning this can be a double edged sword, though. At least for me. Too many options seems to have lead me to an analysis paralysis situation, so inertia always seems to win the day.

Given you've been doing this for a good deal longer, I'm curious how you decide what commitments to take on, how you limit/screen your options. Specifically, the nonfinancial factors you consider.
bigato wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:54 pm
My life has been so much happier in the past two years
This makes me believe you are doing something right.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:16 am

Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:33 pm
What would you do if a professional did place you well into the autism spectrum? I think I'd land there as well, but haven't seen any benefit to getting a diagnosis. I have found benefit from reading books about people dealing with aspergers and the coping strategies they use in life. I suppose a professional could offer more direct instruction in those mechanisms.
I'm not sure, I want to know for sure if I fit the category, and analyzing oneself without external aid is too prone to biases to be reliable enough. I don't know if having the official diagnosis will ever be useful, but it may eventually have its social uses. For example, I could make use of Microsoft's autism inclusion program if I ever wanted to work there. Also, it could help me negotiating a remote position at current job, because I seem to need a silent or isolated environment to function at my best. Not that only autistic people need that, but the diagnosis would be recognized proof of said need. Maybe there is also some instance where I don't want to delve into details of how I'm different and the official label would suffice.

There's also something to be said about how learning by yourself can lead to blind spots, specially when learning about yourself. I experienced this very intensely in 2018 when I read the book "Woman who love too much". It was such an eye-opener on relationships to me, something that I should really have studied in depth when I was 20 and it would have made my life so much better. I think that if I ever had a professional psychologist analyse me, it would have been pretty obvious to them that I fit those patterns. Because I didn't, I only learned about that by accident into my late twenties. It improved my social relations so much, and it could have saved me from a lot of suffering in the past. Why didn't I stumble on this before? Well this is a case of a blind spot: you don't know what you don't know. I think that while reading about autism may be useful, and maybe even enough, there's also the possibility that I can get great benefit from some professional guidance. It's a cheap bet with huge potential benefits, so why not.
Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:33 pm
I've probably found more benefit from my wife reading those books and understanding that I'm really wired differently, not just trying to make her crazy.
Yeah, I hear you on this. When I was married, even before having any idea about what autism was, I took my time to explain to her that I worked differently in several regards. For example, in situations with lots of people. She would then be aware of that and sense when it was time for us to go home or somewhere else. That was an important one, since her social need was higher than mine and this would be a frequently point of friction.
Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:33 pm
Work is the best option I have found for reliable in access to do interesting things with really smart people. It's one of the top factors that keep me working. I do find working remote provides enough interaction to satisfy that need.
Thanks, that is an important insight. I may be underestimating how much my colleagues are important in my well being now.

Also, thanks guys for both book recommendations. I have not read them.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:57 am

classical_Liberal wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:43 pm
The deeper I get into ERE, the more options that present themselves.
That's why we are into this, isn't it? That's a good thing in itself and if it is happening, you are doing it right.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:43 pm
Too many options seems to have lead me to an analysis paralysis situation, so inertia always seems to win the day.
This is not a problem inherent from "having options", but rather the way your decision making process works. You may want to study this a little deeper. There are some aspects of ourselves that we can't easily change even if we want to, but being aware of them usually helps. This may be a case of me seeing everything as a nail because what I have in my hand is a hammer, but the book "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman which I'm currently reading may have some usefulness in this regard.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:43 pm
Given you've been doing this for a good deal longer, I'm curious how you decide what commitments to take on, how you limit/screen your options. Specifically, the nonfinancial factors you consider.
Every decision someone makes and every actions someone takes is driven by a combination of two forces: escaping from pain and seeking pleasure. Maybe making such a broad categorization is oversimplifying, but I find it useful in understanding the factors that drive me, because it seems that most people are more easily moved by one of these two drivers than the other. In my case, usually it means that I try to avoid pain first. I'm not an optimist nor a great risk taker, although I can make very bold moves when I feel prepared enough. Probably because of that, I seem to follow the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs most of the time. This probably does not apply to everybody, at least not equally. I am sure you are able to remember someone who is always gambling despite not being able to even meet its most basic needs in full. In my case, the pyramid seems to apply well and that makes taking such life decisions easier. I just take whatever path seems to maximize my climbing in the pyramid. If you feel like you have too many good options and feel stuck by analysis paralysis, it may be often the case that the difference between them is just not big enough to be relevant anyway. That's an indicator that you have climbed the hierarchy of needs high enough that avoiding pain may not be so relevant of a driver anymore. At the lower levels, it's usually more evident what hurts more and what you should fix first. If anything, you should be thankful to yourself that you are located higher already. It's all now a matter of maximizing present and future well being and happiness. It should be, or at least it is to me.

classical_Liberal
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:01 pm

@bigato
Thanks for the thoughtful response.

I don't necessarily subscribe to a hedonist philosophy regarding decisions (pleasure/pain only), but I like the Maslow idea. I think you are correct in that the the bottom portions have been filled, hence the increasing difficulty committing/deciding on new path(s).

I have seen Kahnman referenced on these boards before, so maybe I should bite the bullet and read it, thanks for the recommendation.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:06 pm

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:01 pm
I don't necessarily subscribe to a hedonist philosophy regarding decisions (pleasure/pain only)
It's one of these models of how the world work that I have kept in my head for many years, but while it sounds very simplistic, I haven't found how to challenge it. So I'd be very interested in your perspective on this!

Scott 2
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:13 pm

I've been hesitant to anchor on a neuroatypical identity in the work place. I suspect people carry biases that would hurt me more than any benefits from special programs. I have pushed to accommodate my unique wiring when negotiating working conditions, and that has gone ok. In hindsight - before I understood my higher sensitivity to stimulus and poor ability to navigate social cues, I pursued a lot of unnecessarily stressful work situations. I was able to fall back on my analytical strengths to get through them, but I suffered for it.

You have great points on the difficulty of self-diagnosing and being blind to the unknown unknowns. One consistent message I found, is that if you've met one person with autism, you know one person with autism. The traits that express, and coping strategies that will be most effective, are unique to the individual. I can see a good professional being very helpful there. My own imperfect model of the world includes a dislike for bringing new people into my life, so I haven't pursued it.


My wife and I have worked out a stable set of accommodations over the 20 years we've known each other. She definitely has to make trade offs on the social side. I encourage her to do things with friends that don't involve me. Sometimes I also go do things with her, where we are both perfectly clear - I am not going to enjoy it. The only intent of me going is to make her happy and I focus on it. Ironically, being tasked like that can make overwhelming environments more palatable.

I also need her to be much more blunt in communication than most people will tolerate. Just tell me how it is, if my feelings appear I'll ignore them, and we can act on full information. Otherwise there's a good chance I'll ignore the message. It's become comfortable for us, but does sometimes bleed into her other relationships with negative consequences. Immediate and direct feedback is not welcomed by everyone.

For me personally, empathy doesn't work very well. With time, I intellectually understand where it should be triggered and can exhibit roughly correct responses, but it's really tough to truthfully feel it. That's especially true during face to face interaction. We've been together long enough that she knows this feature is broken and accepts it. She doesn't always enjoy it, but I don't have to pretend.

We also have worked out scripts for the interactions that are emotionally important to her, that I might not automatically demonstrate. The fact that I take the time to learn and provide them shows I care, even if the wiring isn't there.

Anyway, if you might be wired different, I do think there's a lot of benefit to exploring it. This is a video about it in the software development that I enjoyed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrQeAwe4_xw

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:14 am

I share the fear of sharing it on the workplace and that not being a good thing. I think my biggest motivation is probably that if I have the official diagnosis, I'll be able to tell some specific friends with certainty. I also share the aversion of bringing people into my life, like I wouldn't like to have someone clean my place even if it was included in the rent. I will probably just take the diagnosis and research the rest myself, just like I did with the "Woman who love too much" book about relationships. When I mentioned the blind spots, I was just answering the generic question of why would one want to have professional help in this regard, but I actually share your same attitude on this. Not so sure it is a good thing for me, tough.

Interesting to read about your arrangements regarding the wife. Resembles my past marriage. And yeah, I also find it easier when I have a task to focus on. Like cooking for people in a meeting or something like that.

It's the same for me on the empathy. Just last week I was explaining to a friend how I don't have the real thing, that means "feeling other person's pain". I don't really care emotionally, but I learned how to deal with it intellectually. I studied some psychology, body language signs, and I can sense and predict people quite well. It also helps that I like to be useful to people that matter to me, specially when they most need it. It's hard for most people to believe that I don't really empathize.

Another funny fact in my case is that I don't recognize faces so well. I recognize people who are close and whom I see often just fine, but when I am seeing a movie for example, sometimes I think a new character is the same person as another one. When I was married, I would often ask her if they were the same, and she would thought it was absurd because they were so different to her. It's easy when there is same very distinctive characteristic though, like very long beard or shaved head. The same happens with recognizing people in pictures and sometimes even in real life.

Thanks for the video, I liked it very much.

Scott 2
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by Scott 2 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:26 am

I have a hard time with similar faces as well.

Related is eye contact. I've put a lot of energy into memorizing normal patterns, but I have to remember to use them. I have little natural impulse to look someone in the eye, and it makes people think I don't value them.

One of the things I really like about working remote, is it puts me on more even footing with nuerotypical brains. When communication is over instant message, the signals I cannot process well are not available to anyone.

When my wife and I explored the idea that I am probably autistic, we uncovered a lot of compensatory behaviors I had developed over the years. She was unaware of many, and others, I hadn't even recognized weren't normal.

I think when you disclose to friends or family unfamiliar with the topic, it challenges their preconceived notions and limited understanding of autism as a spectrum. Much easier to dismiss you as imagining something that doesn't exist

Interestingly - I know a couple people that are relatively well versed in the topic. My behavioral traits seem obvious to them. I guess the are some speech patterns that present as well, which I don't fully understand. One day I should learn what they are and how to talk without them, but it hasn't been a big problem for me.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:54 am

Regarding family, when I recently talked to a cousin of mine whom I trust about this, I asked her not to disclose to anyone else. She told me that she and the other cousins already knew or suspected, apparently before i did, ahahaha. And that this was never a problem.

classical_Liberal
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by classical_Liberal » Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:34 pm

bigato wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:06 pm
It's one of these models of how the world work that I have kept in my head for many years, but while it sounds very simplistic, I haven't found how to challenge it. So I'd be very interested in your perspective on this!
It's taken awhile for me to respond to this, because I don't have a good answer. Just a "gut feeling" (for lack of a better phrase) that there is more to a happy life. I think you are correct in that their isn't a good intellectual counterpoint to the Hedonistic model once a person realizes/concedes their likely is not a special purpose for individuals in the universe. This, by the way, it where religiousity come into play for many, or parenthood for many more. Creating that special individual purpose, where before there was a vacuum.

However, as I mature in my adult human years, it becomes obvious that almost meaningless human activities, small drops in an infinite bucket, do matter. I do not believe I have yet reached a point where I can aptly articulate this in a logical sense. However, I think this recent comment from JLF is a good starting point.
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=863&start=627

They day may come where I can better articulated this sense of feeling or morality, but I have not reached it yet. However, I no longer believe acceptance of an extremely minute role in universal history should directly lead to the hedonism/nihilism. There is something better. Something I haven't yet fully grasped, yet I know it's there. This breeds, the ever dangerous, idea of hope related to purpose.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:14 pm

Thanks for the explanation. Maybe we could sum it up by saying that sometimes, the greater picture is so much more important that the minute details of why we took a decision in one direction or another are mostly irrelevant?
Also, I just though that I wouldn't know how to falsify this theory of everything we do being driven by either escaping pain or seeking pleasure. And that's usually a bad sign that often means that something is just a false oversimplification.

George the original one
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by George the original one » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:22 pm

bigato wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:14 pm
Also, I just though that I wouldn't know how to falsify this theory of everything we do being driven by either escaping pain or seeking pleasure. And that's usually a bad sign that often means that something is just a false oversimplification.
We take on challenges that often invoke pain or anguish because we get joy from conquering.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:11 pm

I'm trying not to post here every day, but I kind of want to. The intentional increased exposure to the forums that I had lately did its magic and it seems I'm sucked into the ERE rabbit hole again. Since I left the bikepacking single speed obsession behind, my hyperfocus is pointing here and related topics. I'm tracking my spending again, and taking steps towards improving my numbers. Also, running several simulations. The last few days I've been obsessing over the local real estate market in hopes of tackling my biggest fixed expense. Well you see, some posts above I was saying that I did not intend to buy real estate ever again. At least I also mentioned at some point how bad I am at predicting how I'll behave and feel in the future. So here I am biting my tongue. Did a lot of internet research on real estate, walked a lot (15 km yesterday and 10km today) and I'm starting to get a good understanding of the local market. So much so that I did my first offer today, and have around a handful more properties where I may also make some kind of low-ball offers, of the kind that will make them curse my mother or something.

I'm a bit torn between buying something cheap and buying something easier to sell. Those two qualities are more often not found on the same property, both because of the market but also due to details in local laws that I don't want to delve into now. What I'm doing so far is focus on the difference on my cashflow, even if it will be harder to sell afterwards. The difference is brutal, like around 300% difference, due to technical details. There's no middle ground really, and this gap is due to how the properties are classified, boring stuff that won't apply to the readers of this post so I won't detail.

Also it turns out that I haven't looking into this for so long that after looking in detail, if I buy one of these three properties or similar that will be so great to my cashflow, I could probably retire in a year. Also, the value I'll pay on one of them is around one year of my wage. In one simulation, it would take me 6 years of living there so that the savings on rent will pay for it in full, so if I would just give the property away at that point, I'd be in the same position I'll be if I just keep on renting where I am now.

Also since I'm obsessing over this market now, I'm trying to make as many low-ball offers as I can, so low that I feel that I could just put it back on the market just after buying, and sell it for something like a 10% quickly liquid profit. I'm talking to realtors about this and how they will make money twice if they help me on this. So far they doesn't seem familiar with flipping properties like this, it probably is not something people are doing around here. What they always want to know is whether I'm buying to live in it or to invest; but in the latter case they usually assume that investment would mean renting it afterwards. And no, the renting market is bullshit here.

Best case in this strategy of mine is that I make a quick 10% profit over a month or so; worst case is I may end up stuck for a while with a property I would like to buy and live in anyway - thus saving the rent money. Today I went too emotional after seeing a property with a realtor - side effect of not having seen it via internet before, as it is not even published. I really liked it and ended up making an offer about 16% lower than the asking price, which was a fair offer and not a low-ball offer. The realtor will talk to the owner and return to me. It was just too good in every aspect considering what I'm seeing in the market, what I'm looking for and specially my cashflow analysis. At this point I should not be making serious offers yet, but whatever - I'll just try to make other low-ball offers faster and see how it goes.

Together with the real estate obsession, the tiny houses interest also came back. The other property which would be most beneficial to cashflow, is one of those where I'd need to be smart about space, since it is only around 15 square meters - 160 square feet. I currently live lavishly in a place twice that, with the luxury of having owning 5 bicycles - I definitely don't use them that much to justify owning so many. The great thing here is that I have a close local friend who also loves tiny houses and happens to be an architect. All of that and now I'm also thinking about doing the renovation myself, carpentry, etc.

The one I made the offer on, is bigger enough that space won't be much of a problem to my standards. Maybe it's even a bit bigger than my current apartment, or around the same size. It should not need any structural changes. If I close on that, plan would be to learn and build wood stuff for the house myself, potentially with a project from my friend to guide me. I want to do it both because I may end up selling for a profit this way, but also because I really want a house to be the way I want. When I lived in my own houses in the past, I was married and so there was someone else that I would listen to regarding such decisions. Now it's only me.

Well maybe renovating a house the way I want will conflict with increasing its market value, I don't know. But that's something to worry about later.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Wed Feb 20, 2019 3:03 pm

I'm still visiting every property that is within my price range that I can find, but already putting a lot of low-ball offers. I even have a counter-offer on the table that I could accept and the apartment would be good for me, but maybe not so much for reselling. So I'm exploring some more to make sure I get something in which I could even potentially make some money fixing it and putting it back on the market. Today I learned that while the realtors don't want to lower the price so that they can get a better commission, you can make them work for you by offering twice the loss in commission directly to them, being generous and rounding up the numbers. While this is probably not legal, I've learned that this is just full of sharks and if you want to swim, it has to be this way. One of the realtors told me how the owner of the real estate agency himself buy those properties that are easy to flip, and they also have a handful of investors associated to them which do the same. I'm learning how to get to that club and pay wholesale price. I can just say that I'm so sorry for all my friends whom I know paid normal prices and signed 30 years mortgages to have their own place. This market is not for the faint of heart. You look at a number like 170,000 and it's hard to believe that you should offer like 90,000 instead. Nowadays I bring a notebook to take notes and a measuring tapes. When I finish looking at every detail and taking notes without saying a word, the realtor is already much likelier to negotiate the price. I can imagine what that would do to the owner himself, but it's much harder to find them directly.

I'm thinking that it would be really nice if I could have a place that had space for a shop of sorts, where I could play around wood and other stuff that I can think of building/fixing/creating, be it for myself or for income. I don't need a bedroom *and* a living room in the house, I can have them be the same hiding my bed somehow (or sleep on a tatami mat or something) and the other room can be my shop/office work area. Basically I'd have a working room and a lounge room. A dedicated living room would be stupid because I rarely ever have people over. But I'm still in love with that smallest property of 15m2, waiting for the chance to meet the owner now. The real state agency will schedule a meeting with her, and then I'll show her the math of how she can make more money just by buying government bonds instead of renting.

bigato
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:02 pm

I'm starting to realize that maybe buying a property here that makes sense from an ere viewpoint will not be so easy. It may take longer than I thought it would. Also, maybe it is not even a good idea. Choosing your living quarters, the place where you go to rest and shelter every day, is such an emotional charged decision, that it is easy to get carried away. Sure I can make the numbers work on my favor, but the biggest factor is that there is always the risk that if and when I decide to sell it, it will take too long and I may end up having to sell it cheap to not have my money be locked down for longer than I would like/could wait. One way to avoid that would be to buy something so cheap that even if I sell for a loss, I wouldn't be losing that much in absolute amounts anyway. But there's a problem there in that a cheap property is not expensive because people don't want it, and most of the reasons they have for not wanting it would also be reasons that would affect my quality of live there. There are some exceptions, like being cheap because it's small (I like small), or being cheap because there is prostitution around (I don't care) or homeless people (it's safe enough for me anyway). But some defects impact me too much and there's no cost effective way to fix them that I know of - one such example is excessive noise, which I could soundproof the place against, but then I'd need air conditioning because it would get too hot inside, and ac costs. Plus I don't like ac air.

Other way around the risk of having the money tied down for too long would be buying way under market value, maybe even under liquidation value, so that I could sell for close the liquidation price and yet not loose money. Those opportunities are well explored by real estate investor with much deeper pockets than mine, and free money is not easy to come by. I've been obsessing over this over the last few days and am learning a lot about how this market works, to the point that I'm not too far from having the necessary to be a good realtor or even a real estate investor. Also I'm having some ideas that could lead to some kind of startup or money-making activities on the field. That's so me: something makes me think about buying real estate and a couple of weeks later I'm trying to fix/improve the buying process/market instead of solving my specific problem.

While it's much likelier that I'll forget about all of these things as soon as I solve my own problem or find another shiny thing to obsess over, it's also true that I know enough about the market that I can just watch new internet ads pop-up and be confident about how much I can offer on the spot just from the photos and information provided on the ads and my knowledge from research and walking around the city. Those offers don't take much time and off course, the less information the ad has, the lower the offer will be. What I'm doing is offering below what I think would be liquidation price (the price that would sell in say, a week). If that will ever help me find something, I don't know, but it is the approach I'm trying right now. I'm quite tired of seeing places and talking to realtors to be honest, so I'll just visit another place if some of them contact me on those offers and positively say that the owner is interested. Maybe I'll have to devise ways to find owners who could potentially sell before the realtors find them, and that's something I'm thinking about. Like people who where fired, divorced or owners who died. I'm also having some ideas about semi-automating the search and evaluation process based on some data.

Out of frustration with all of this, last night I just went online and made a big purchase of wood equipment based on information from jacob and campitor on the thread about bootstrapping a tiny house from the inside. Also, some food seed which I could grow in my balcony. Because damn it, I have a balcony now which receives some sun by the end of the day and I could as well use it! Also, building my skills in woodworking would be a good step towards building my own furniture. Because to be honest, this urge to buy a house is also related to wanting to have a place where I could put my own furniture (most of the furniture here is not mine), which I would build to my own liking, optimized to my life. And I don't really need my own place for that, right? Also, owning the place wouldn't guarantee that I would not need/decide to move later anyways. My reasoning for not buying much furniture so far was that it would be easier to move if I had less stuff. But then I still buy small stuff over time, like board games, some books, bike stuff, and some of these I want to keep. So I have a mess because I don't have enough storage space to properly organize those. So, spent around 13% of a monthly wage on woodworking tools and some seeds. I bought the western style saws because, while I think japanese style of sawing attracts me more, the prices differences were so absurd that I could just buy western style first and see how it goes from there. Also, did not find plane #7 so bought only #5 first and I'll see how it goes. I'm looking for discarded lumber on the streets and will gather them as learning material at least.

Since I may be building stuff I'll need to move around if I'm still renting, I started thinking that maybe I could plan for moving from the start. Setting my life so that at any given day, I could decide to move all my stuff to another rental without the mental hassle of having to go through everything and sort it in boxes, and then sorting it out at destination, etc. If I could design a modular furniture system that could be easily assembled/disassembled and would also double as boxes for moving, it could be almost perfect. I would have all my house ready to move at any time, and would only need to unplug the system from the utilities and haul the boxes. If boats can have stuff firmly tied in place inside cabinets so as to withstand storms, I figure I can do the same, enough to withstand the storms of moving out of a house and into a new one. This way, I could easily calculate which place would be best for my cashflow/confort and optimize for money while also not being trapped anywhere for too long. I could rent if it makes sense for the cashflow, or buy if it made sense from an investment point of view, move in (tools and shop included), fix it and put it back on the market. Sell it anytime and move out as soon as I sign another rental contract. Most importantly, I'd not need to have any urge to buy quickly. I could even have a tiny kitchen inside my furniture, so that I could rent cheaper places with a crappy kitchen and not care about it. I'd have a flexible, mobile life without the disadvantages of van or trailer living. So that's my answer to having the advantages of minimalist (freedom and peace of mind) *and* having tools too.

It turns out that as it is the often the case with most ideas, a lot of people thought before about a modular furniture system and some even about one that could be easily moved. One interesting example is the Muvobox system, which uses cardboards boxes and is even patented. And then my interest was drawn to cardboard furniture because, yes, it is a thing! Like real furniture, structurally sound and good looking. I had no idea. I mean, I had this notion in my head that you could improvise something with cardboards, but the level of ingenuity of people is amazing. So now while I type this, my tv is showing youtubes of people building stuff with cardboard. I feel bad for the amount of cardboard I discarded last year, due to so much bike equipment I bought via mail. Also, almost repented of spending on wood tools yesterday. At least it was all manual tools and they don't end up being that much expensive, and they may be useful to build stuff for income anyways.
Last edited by bigato on Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: bigato's journal

Post by jacob » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:54 pm

I've built stuff out of cardboard boxes before. One issue is that humidity eventually wears it down. That will probably take longer with a honeycomb structure.

For wooden solutions, see
https://www.amazon.com/How-Build-Grid-B ... 865716137/
https://www.amazon.com/Nomadic-Furnitur ... 764330241/
https://www.amazon.com/Guerilla-Furnitu ... 612123031/

For really old school furniture design, the keyword is campaign furniture. I have no book sources for that, but civil war reenactment/reconstruction comes close https://www.amazon.com/Civil-War-Woodwo ... 1933502282 ...

bigato
Posts: 2113
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:05 pm

Thanks, jacob!

bigato
Posts: 2113
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:17 pm

I'm still doing the self brainwashing on ERE and FI daily, reading the forum everyday (as you guys may have noticed since I post almost everyday now) and catching up on the MMM articles I didn't read these last years. I'm still registering every cent spent, and looking at the totals from time to time. The combinations of these actions is working, since I've been obsessing most of the time over about ways to reduce the biggest expenses and related subjects.

The biggest fixed expense is, at the moment, the housing, and that has been the focus of my obsessing. Well, in February, this mechanics of obsessing itself was the source of my biggest expense, a bit more than housing, since I bought several woodwork tools as I told above. It was a impulse buy and I didn't even use any of them yet. Shame on me. The reason for buying them was, as explained above, that I would supposedly build my own furniture in a smart way that would make me easily mobile from rental to rental, thus reducing the friction of moving and optimizing my chances of taking advantage of the better deals on the market. I could even buy a fixer-upper if I were to find one, move in with my mobile furniture, fix it and sell for some profit. Well, those are the reasons I gave above and they are mostly a load of bullshit really. No, I'm not buying real estate here. I know it now, I know the market enough to understand that in present conditions, only I were to be the luckiest guy, I would find an opportunity like that around here. The numbers just don't add up well. And I was action emotionally and lying to myself as it may be often the case when people are dealing with buying real estate. It was definitely the case for me.

To sum up my research on the local real estate market, I stopped looking once I got two offers almost accepted. I had them I know, I just didn't want to follow ahead. Reason being that by that time, I had the feeling that reselling would not be easy at all, even at the lowest price that I'd be able to get. Also, the numbers regarding renting versus buying, when comparing how much one can easily guarantee on the market buying mostly government bonds, were not really favorable. At best I'd be giving up my mobility for no real improvement on the cashflow, or for too little of an improvement. I'm not counting on the value appreciating, because it may fall as well, and the stock market can also appreciate the same or more.

Now onto that impulsive buy thing. If I am to look on my biggest splurges in the recent past, I may as well attribute them to this pattern of me obsessing over something like my previous hobby of fixed and single speed bicycle travelling, and then throwing money mindlessly at ways of optimizing the hobby. I really have to work on this, at least pay close attention to it. This is responsible for relatively large sums of money spent over time, and most of it is not recoverable. It was not irresponsible given my financial and professional condition, but it was definitely not wise nor optimal in maximizing satisfaction over time. One way that I know that can work to keep this pattern in check is to keep registering every cent spent and staring at them and at the spreadsheet containing my financial projections. I hope this is enough. Becoming aware of the pattern probably helps.

Recently, I did another crazy impulse buy, also slightly over the value of value of my biggest expense that is housing, and that was of a pair of the famous sony noise cancelling headphones. I had just received the cheaper, wired edifier ones that suppress a parcel of the noise because they are padded and go over the ears. They have good sound quality as far as my non-educated senses can tell, and the passive noise cancelling that they do were so impressive to me in how they changed my experience of working, that I impulse bought the sony's at amazon thinking that they would be important to me. Well, then latter I registered the transaction in the mobile expense tracker app, and went to bed regretting it because it was going to mess completely my numbers for the month of March. Luckily for me, they took too long to send me and I ended up cancelling the order after regretting it for a day or two.

After giving up on buying real estate, I started researching cheaper rentals. I found what seemed a very good option, that would reduce the housing expenses to almost as low as a third of the amount I pay now. But I took too long to go see it and then it was rented already. It's most likely now that I'll be able to chop this expense in half or so. While reasearching, I found out that I had a pending internet bill in my name from about three years ago. It had messed my credit score completely, and it could pose a problem when renting a new place. Thing is, I had cancelled this internet service in december/2015, and the bill was from march/2016! It was clearly a mistake on their part. Actually I could easily get some money like five months of minimum wage or so by suing then, no lawyer required. And maybe I should. But I just wanted to fix this and be able to move to a new place fast. So I talked to them, sent them the papers proving I had cancelled the service in december/2015, and now I am waiting for the time it takes for this to get fixed, which should be around the end of March or so.

All this time I was stuck at the present apartment had me obsessing yet more over alternative housing arrangements. I started looking seriously at van living, and this has been the new focus of obsession for a while now. I am learning how you can live in one stealthly in the city, and researching ways you can still be comfortable. As per C40's website instructions (address on his profile), I'm now able to do a full body wash spending only a single cup of water. Also, I can pay for a gym where I could wash. I probably have a place to shower where I work now, have to check this. On the other building I used to work, they had showers because of people riding bikes to work. From the old days before ere, when I was doing experiments on how to live travelling in a bicycle full time, I know that I can cook and wash utensils with something like 1,5 L a day. Maybe less if I change what I eat, but that I don't intend to do. Electricity is quite easy because I mostly need to charge a laptop, cellphone (both of them I could even charge at the job), and I could even do without lighting in the van because the city has so much lighting at all times. Some small rechargeable led light could be used for reading. With such low requirements, I could easily have enough in a van to go for a month before I had to recharge van batteries or fill water reserves. That much I could do at a close friend's house. Also from the times I did bike travel, I know that the body adapts and you only feel the need to poo at the right moments. I could do this at work and/or gym. Plastic bags would suffice for an emergency inside the van. Peeing during the night is easily solved with a bottle.

The cooking I could do with any of the conventional camping methods, including alcohol stoves. I happen to be a bit of a nerd on this because of previous bike travels and my obsessive behaviour. Just give me any soda tin can and I build you an alcohol stove with no tools. I can build it to burn hot, slow, or the way you want it. But really, I'd like to not need any kind fire inside the van, not so much because of safety as much as because of the air flow. It's way simpler if you make sure you will never have combustion inside. So I need to do some math to learn if it is feasible to do with induction stoves or with pressure electric cookers, and how much batteries I'd need, solar system, etc. I need a pressure cooker, electric or not, because I want to cook stuff like brown rice regularly. For a conventional pressure cooker over an induction stove, I know that I could use some kind of smart insulation around the pot to reduce energy usage even further. Anyway, I feel the cooking is comfortably doable without major problems, even if I end up needing to resort to combustion.

The problem still standing is clothes washing. I did some research on this, and came up with some ways, but I'm not completely convinced by any. The biggest problem is that I intend to get back to training bjj again, the the kimonos are pretty heavy stuff. I'd need to wash and dry one complete kimono at least once every week, ideally two. I remember from when I used to train, that people sometimes would leave their kimonos to dry inside a closed car in the sun, because it would get so hot in there that it would accelerate the process. I could use some variation of this and some black curtains, but it seems to me that the place would get stinky. Maybe it would get better if I let some dehumidifier running? I don't know. One advantage that I have is that this is a dry climate most of the year (not in the summer though) and you can even dry your clothes overnight by just hanging them inside your closed home.

The washing itself is not complicated, I could have a small bathtub or even just a bowl and wash it by hand. Maybe even wash it in the kitchen sink if I make it deep. But you see, washing kimonos requires some more sizable amount of water, specially to remove all the sweating from it. So then I'm needing bigger water reserves or more frequent refils, which are both inconvenient. I need to do some research on commercial laundries around here, but at first glance they don't seem so inexpensive as it often the case in US or other countries. I could be mistaken. I could also use some combination of techniques, and send only the kimonos for a paid laundry. I could definitely pay and this would be an acceptable solution, but then the numbers start to be less interesting when we compare to living in a cheap small apartment.

The laundry would be pretty easy on the road or some camping, but those are not available inside my city nor nearby. The requirement of being stealth makes it way harder. Other options could include building a house inside bigger vehicle, like a small truck, and then I'd be able to have bigger water reserves, more batteries, and a small washer/dryer. But then parking is not so easy. You don't find many trucks parked around the city, it'd draw a lot more attention, and there are probably even some rules about where you can park them and at what time of the day you can drive them around the city, etc. So yeah, no clear solution for the laundry yet.

I don't even know if I'll ever do the van thing, it's just that I find it fun to explore this. Anyway, I know that in order to not spend money dumbly, I need to research this a lot and to everything else required before I commit to buying one. That would include minimizing my belongings and learning how to live in a van while still living in an apartment. Testing it out first and seeing if it's doable. Maybe even building the inside furniture before buying the van. Damn, I'd even need to learn to drive a car because I never wanted to, and would need to get licensed to drive. It may not even make financial sense after all. It would make for a nice trip around the continent after I quit the job though. On the bright side, I have a very nerd close friend who happens to specialize in mechanics. He is very willing to help me on this, both on choosing a vehicle if I decide on it, and also helping on the conversion. I also thought about buying one already converted, but this is such a minimalistic lifestyle, so optimized to to one's way of living, that it would be very hard to find one that would fit me. More likely, I'd end up having lots of stuff and functionality which I don't need/want and missing other which I require (like a place for my fixie).

If you have read some of my previous posts, you probably have a feel for where I am financially and professionaly and may be asking yourself if I really need to do this. I sure don't, definitely not. Also, if I do it even optimizing it, I may not save so much money in the two years or so that I intend to stay here. But you see, it is like a game to me. I like to optimize stuff and test the limits of efficient yet comfortable lifestyle. Keep in mind that when I say comfortable, I'm counting on my stoicism and hedonic adaptation. Maybe part of this is motivated by hanging around here and wanting to compete? Like unconscious peer pressure? Maybe this is a factor. But it is not the only one. When I look around, since the first time I start living by myself, I never had my house the way I want. My mom furnished it to me. Hell, she did it on both of my first houses, without asking me. The second one, the first where I was completely on my own financially (at 19), she went to visit me one day and when I got back to work, the place was just full of stuff. I didn't complain, but if I am honest, I didn't like it. And then I carried those stuff over to the new places, and at some point I married, and then I had to take my wife opinion into account. After being single again, I moved to a furnished place in a new city because it was convenient. I kind of want to start from scratch, you see? Like Tyler Durden exploding the place so that the main character could just to move into squatting and test the limits of how little one can live with. I was even making soap another day, ahahahaha. No human fat though. But I had this neat idea that I could make them look creeply like skin color, make a "Vegan Club" brand, call my "company" Paper Street and sell them to a local vegan store. :-p

On other news, I sold two of my bicycles and intend to keep just one. I still have two "half-bikes" to sell. Cancelled one of my cellphones services. I had this second one because of the recent bike trip in january, because it would allow me to have data abroad. I'll sell this second cellphone, I probably already have a buyer. Today I got home and found the bill for the cable internet, which is over twice what you would pay for a local fibre company for a comparable service. This is one of the big cable companies in the country, and they have this aggressive instance where they just keep on raising the bill slowly over time if you don't complain. When you call them to cancel, they just offer you to cut it in half or something. I'm just fed up with this bullshit, so I just call them and cancelled it outright. When they asked to reason I wanted to cancel, I told them I don't want to say. As always, they wanted to offer me special packages, I and told I don't want to know about it. So for now, I just have internet in the prepaid phone, for which I pay a small price for one day of usage, limited to 100mb a day. That means no video unless I'm using some wifi. I just pay for the days I use data, so I let the cellphone data disable when I don't need it. I also installed an app where you can find the places around the city where you can get free wifi, like restaurants and such. I like that I won't be able to see video for a while, since I was spending too much time on youtube already. It kind of replaced the previous netflix habit. It much more useful stuff, like about van living at the moment, but still. I want to take some time away from video to see how it goes. If I move to a cheaper apartment, I may get fibre from some local company without the bullshit from the big companies. Or I may buy some kind of strong wifi antenna that I was mentioned on a van video. For now though, I am as cheap as one can get on the internet department without cutting it out completely. I'll try this for a while and I may as well like it this way. Because the real utility I derive from the internet, I can get from low bandwidth and low data usage as well. Important knowledge is out there in text and image format, or books. Also, communication is text.

In preparation to moving to a new place, I started putting stuff in boxes. There is a lot that I could get rid of. But I put most of it in boxes without sorting much anyway, because I was thinking that the cheapest option would be to move fast to a new cheaper place and then get rid of stuff after I get there. But now that I think about it, one or two more months here won't make such a big difference after all. And I may take my time and think it through, as I may end up deciding that I want a van or something else instead of commiting to a new rent contract.

I have been cooking more often and ordering less take-out. But this is an area that requires more improvement. Last week was great, but in the beginning of the month, I still spent a lot ordering food. Because after I sort the housing situation, food is the next big target, I decided to split the categories in order to have finer-grained control. Now instead of a "food" category, I have three: "Ready-to-eat" food, processed food (not in natural form but not ready to eat, like pasta), and unprocessed food in natural form just like it came from nature. The reason is that the more you have people process it (or even prepare it for you to eat), the more it will cost.

prognastat
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Re: bigato's journal

Post by prognastat » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:09 am

I don't think spending even if it's a decent amount on hobbies has to be bad, but definitely want to keep it down by only spending on a few I feel are important to me and after I've done plenty of research. I research lots of things and often end up after spending a decent amount of time looking into it never moving forward with it. In those cases I still get some enjoyment out of exploring the concept though.

I have two categories for food myself. One for food I make myself by getting ingredients from the grocery store and combining them to make a meal and the other for everything not from the grocery store. This includes anything from restaurants, bars, fast food, vending machines etc. I'm mostly lenient in counting almost everything from the grocery store as grocery store food just for simplicity's sake in tracking. I don't tend to get a lot of ready made food from the grocery store though as most of it is done through meal prep making meals for the week on the weekend.

bigato
Posts: 2113
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: bigato's journal

Post by bigato » Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:41 pm

A close friend asked me for information regarding retiring early because she's not happy with her job, and while thinking about her numbers, I found out something obvious about my own that I hadn't noticed. I was counting on staying at the job until 2021 because by then I'd complete 20 years of formal work and thus get entitled to a minimum wage pension after I turn 65. So even though I don't really need much more money, I'd just coast to 2021 because why not? Unlocking a pension after 65 was just too good of an option that I had to take it. The fact that I enjoy the work and get paid a lot just makes it very convenient anyway.

But the obvious bit that I was missing is, I could just quit and contribute to the social security on my own to bridge the gap to 20 years. It's very cheap if I contribute the minimum. And since by working 20 years only, I'll probably just get the minimum wage as a pension, it just wouldn't make sense to contribute any further. That means, I don't get to ride on autopilot staring at my spreadsheet as meaningless numbers anymore. Now it is real as the choice is in my hands immediately. Yesterday, upon realizing this, I *felt* FI for the first time. All the financial decisions, down to every little expense, feel a lot more important now and I feel the responsibility for them.

This changes some things. For example, it doesn't really make sense to think about the stealth van as a temporary housing solution for two years, as I'm not really tied down for two years necessarily. I could even stay here and save myself the trouble of going through renting a new cheaper place. But it is a easy move to save half in housing costs, so I think tomorrow I'll see again a place I was intending to rent. A friend with access to a small truck will probably help me move, probably in exchange for these last bike parts I have to get rid of. Win-win-win.

Anyway, even after moving, I have some logistics to take care of before I can seriously think about actually quitting. I'm taking it slow. What may probably happen is that at some point I may have that talk with the boss about telecommuting, C40's style: "look boss, I need no more money, but I like the work, do you think there's any chance I could keep working to the company in some capacity after I move to another city where I have a rural property?"
So after some moves that will include reallocating investments, I will start a "dry-run" year. Except that it may end up being less than one year or at most two.

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