Basuragomi's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Great to see some new readers!
classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 6:40 pm
Very nice response, thankyou! Here are my initial thoughts.



This describes me very well. If you're going to do something, do it well. Like, I'm not really sure how to get out of that mindset. Others have mentioned this to me before (IRL and in this forum), but I kind-of dismissed it, making excuses that my current job is really important and whatnot. Maybe it's true, my job is really important, maybe it's not. People survive with sub-par nurses all the time.

The fact most jobs are set up assuming the employees are basically incompetent is really frustrating! All the "red tape" required to prove you're doing the bare minimum takes time away from being able to excel in your job. This indeed is the source of a large chunk of my burnout in any job I've ever had. It feels like being set up to fail, or at least underperform. I think the second largest is boredom, having to repeat similar BS day-in, day-out.

I think working for a smaller company has a lot of advantages. I've worked for smaller companies in the past, and in a way it's better to have the owners respect and "ear" as an outperformer, because then you can slack in the areas you want without fear, but take on extra in the areas that alleviate boredom.

While I truly believe being an outperformer has some advantages, for instance I don't think I'd have my half-time opportunity if I had been "average", it also sucks so much life energy that jobs have a 2-3 year life span life span and careers only about 5-7 for me. By the time I'm mastering something, I'm moving on because I see all the constraints, preventing me from going to the next level and get burnt out. Maybe this is part of my problem?

Anyway, this exercise has been super helpful, I need to let it "marinate", as @horsewoman would say. Since I'm new to this idea of doing bare minimum, do you have any "tips & tricks" type of helpful hints to get started?
@classical_Liberal, I think the most effective way to go about it would be some applying some simple Stoic principles.

1) What did you enjoy at work? What did you dislike?
2) How did you actually feel in the moments you liked or disliked?
3) How do you feel when the same thing occurs in different contexts? Do you feel differently?
4) Why do you respond differently?
5) Is it ultimately appropriate to respond differently?
6) What should you do about it?

e.g.:
1) I dislike meeting with my supervisor because they only ever reprimand me and tell me to improve my work quality.
2) I actually feel offended and stressed that my supervisor criticizes me, since I do not think they are qualified to judge the quality of my work.
3) If a couch potato criticizes my exercise routine, I do not feel offended. I actually feel happy because it demonstrates how much better my exercise knowledge is than theirs.
4) I feel stressed instead of happy because the supervisor wields power over a process that they do not understand but that can negatively affect me. I cannot predict the outcome.
5) I know from observing my coworkers that lower quality work survives the process just as well as mine. So the quality of work is not actually a significant factor in the process outcome. Therefore working harder to improve quality of work will not fix my dislike of meetings.
6) I should be happy that my work quality is high based on actual outcomes rather than a layperson's opinion. I should figure out what actually causes my supervisor to criticize me.

The suggested solution will not be effective, even if my supervisor believes otherwise. Maybe I should instead write reports in a format that they prefer. Maybe I need public and external praise for my work. Maybe I need to insist on meeting only after they are fed.

If I can short-circuit the criticism, then I might start enjoying meetings instead.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Jan 10, 2020 7:03 pm
@horsewoman
We have more in common than anyone would have guessed :shock:

@basuragomi
Thanks for the advice!
Last edited by basuragomi on Fri Feb 19, 2021 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 2147
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@horsewoman
We have more in common than anyone would have guessed :shock:

@basuragomi
Thanks for the advice!

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Living while elderly
How much spending should we anticipate for healthcare in old age? How many seniors are actually in care homes?

I did some statistics on figures from Alberta (much easier to find than Ontario/overall Canada figures).

Below 65: 0.04% of the population below 65 is in a long-term care home.
Above 65: 0.14% of the population 65-74 and 1.2% of the population 65+ is in a long-term care home.
Above 75: 1.3% of the population 75-84 and 3.8% of the population 75+ is in a long-term care home.
Above 85: 14.2% of the population 85+ is in a long-term care home.

It appears that the odds of living in a care home increases exponentially with each decade, but are still rather small. Certainly much smaller than I anticipated. The average Canadian is much more likely to die outside of a care home than in one. Most elderly seem to rely on in-home caregivers instead. Many fatal diseases seem to take someone from "managing symptoms" to dead pretty quickly, maybe care homes are biased towards those with long-term degenerative diseases?

Although care homes can be incredibly expensive, it seems that they aren't really a factor for the vast majority (95%+) of seniors.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Canadian average lifetime earnings and spending

I can find a hundred articles claiming that $X is required for retirement, over 7 or 8 orders of magnitude. But what does the average/median Canadian actually earn and save over their lifetime?

I used the 2016 Canadian Census results to get a snapshot of earnings, simple savings, registered retirement savings and spending by age group.

I assumed that income by age group did not vary over time and also that earnings matched inflation - both provably optimistic, but whatever.

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In an entire average lifetime, the median Canadian (earning about $38k/year) will take home about $1.8 million dollars. To achieve the mythical $1M retirement at 65 purely through savings, a median earner would need a savings rate of about 71%. That rarely happens. Even the average user on these forums might find it hard to save that much.

In fact, the average Canadian has a negative savings rate. I've plotted out income and spending below - there is a massive gap. Most Canadians spend more money than they make, and it appears that rapidly rising real estate valuations are making up the difference as people borrow more against their homes.

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Are all Canadians just complete spendthrifts? Maybe not entirely, as the average Canadian household saves about $2,300/year and contributes another $3,700/year to pensions. About $6,000/year in total, though the federal pension has a very low ~0.6% return. Compounding just the $2,300/year savings over 40 years at 4% (the median Canadian does not invest in equities) gives about $208,000.

So the average Canadian could retire at 65 with about $200k in the bank, and will need it to fund 17 years of retirement at $36,000/year spending. With about $15k of spending covered by pensions they will need a 7% return to remain solvent.

The mythical $1M will not be attained by the vast majority of the population. The real estate bubble seems to be powering a significant fraction of both consumer spending and retirement plans. What will happen when all the prospective retirees try to cash out their $1.6M bungalows and there aren't enough wealthy Millennials/Gen Z kids to buy them?

My best-case guess would be a return to multigenerational housing as families get tied more and more to immutable property. Too expensive to buy, too precious to sell, handed down by inheritance like a tiny fiefdom. By some accounts this is already happening. This would be matched with a massive transfer of wealth to Canadian lenders via high-interest reverse mortgages to desperate people. Worst-case guess is a collapse of the housing market, followed by the Canadian dollar, and whatever happens when Canada's largest demographic starts to freeze.

I'm as far from a doomer as you can find, but a very broad skillset is looking to be far more useful than a high net worth in the future.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Experiment - DIY calcium supplements

In which I make some calcium acetate and attempt to use it as a calcium supplement.

I noticed that tofu has a really high bioavailable calcium content, almost entirely due to the calcium sulphate used as a coagulant. I was further inspired by reading on these forums about someone (sorry, forgot who!) making their own calcium supplements with eggshells and lemon juice. After some more research, I learned that calcium acetate is safe to eat and commonly used as a substitute for calcium sulphate in tofu.

I don't have cheap access to citric acid, so I decided to try making calcium acetate instead. White vinegar is a great source of acetic acid and is abundant.

The reaction is pretty simple: CaCO3 + 2CH3COOH -> Ca(C2H3O2)2 + CO2 + H2O

I started with a dozen eggshells, with membranes, and boiled them for half an hour. The membranes largely separated from the shells and I was able to skim them off.

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I dried the shells in an oven and crushed them down to 100% passing a 2mm mesh. This yielded 69.8g of shells.

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I then poured in about 300 mL of vinegar. The eggshells provided calcium carbonate far in excess. The whole mixture fizzed up as the reaction proceeded - the proteins from the membranes and vinegar formed a small foam volcano which I skimmed off. I let it sit for an hour then filtered the mixture, washing down the eggshells with tap water.

I dried the filter rejects and weighed them. 18.5g of eggshells were consumed, so about 7.4g of calcium should be in solution as 29.2g of calcium acetate, dissolved in about 400 mL of water.

I then evaporated the filtrate using a nonstick pan set on low heat. High heat (>160 C) will decompose the calcium acetate back into calcium carbonate and acetone. Neither is what I want.

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As it boiled down a sticky white paste started to crash out of solution.

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I stopped before the final drying step to avoid decomposing product. I was left with a sticky, bright white paste.

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This is where I screwed up. I put in hot water intending to recrystallize and purify the acetate. What I quickly learned is that calcium acetate is one of the few compounds with a negative solubility-temperature coefficient - that is, solubility increases as it gets colder. Very few compounds do this, and most of the ones that do are calcium salts. This means that conventional recrystallization is impossible. Crystal growth would take months.

Calcium acetate is insoluble in ethanol, but hydrates so quickly that it forms a gel that binds all water mixed in with the ethanol. So mixing in vodka to preferentially crash out the acetate would not help either (this is actually another fun experiment as the resulting gel is highly flammable, the "California Snowball"). I cannot get very-high-proof alcohol in Ontario to defeat the gel formation. So I decided to just abandon the idea of getting a high-purity crystalline product and dried a bulk product instead over a radiator.

The calcium acetate is hydrated in solution, and as a result forms a crust on the drying surface that prevents the rest from drying. Frequent stirring to remove the crust of dried product is necessary. But over the course of a few days I got there.

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The result: 21.0g of a white powder that smelled faintly of vinegar and tasted very sour. It also tasted slightly chalky compared to when it was fresh - I think this is due to degraded product. Assuming everything in the powder is calcium acetate, this is a 72%(±0.5%) yield. Double-handling definitely led to losses.

I figured that adding lemon flavour would make it slightly more palatable as both are sour and acid. I then ground and mixed up 7.0g of powder (1750 mg of Calcium) with some water, lemon juice, lemon extract, sugar and gelatin and microwaved it. This formed about 100g of jelly. I cooled it outside, cut it into 250mg Ca-equivalent pieces (roughly equivalent to 1 tbsp of vinegar) and rolled them in starch and powdered sugar to prevent sticking.

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The verdict: tastes like very vinegary lemons. Honestly pretty gross, but edible if eaten with other food, preferably savoury things. I will not be making this again.

I reserved the rest in a jar for other uses - making tofu, activating low-sugar pectins, and the California Snowball experiment, or perhaps a really punishing variant of jello shots. It also may be useful to have a powdered acid ready to hand.

If I was going to continue doing this I would leave excess vinegar in solution to counteract decomposition. I would also skip the drying step and form the filtrate directly into gummies to boost yield and save time.

tl;dr: Use lemon juice instead!

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Experiment - DIY Bean Sprouts

I got a bit leery of the constant e. coli contamination associated with bean sprouts here, as well as wanting to use up my dried beans faster - without a pressure cooker I find it hard to soak the beans in advance and consequently don't eat them. I realized that sprouting the beans is a good alternative as I put them in pretty much everything. Pho, pad thai, instant noodles, stir fries, salade d'amour, banh xeo... Bean sprouts are about $1.40-$3/kg here, which represents about $0.25 of beans per kg yield so there is a strong financial incentive as well. If I have to cook the sprouts anyways to avoid bacterial toxins then I might as well go for the much cheaper option.

My grandmother taught me this technique, but I finally made the equipment and tried it out.

1) Select a bean. Kidney bean sprouts are moderately toxic and soy bean sprouts might have deleterious effects (research seems mixed on this - they seem fine to me and are widely consumed). I chose dried lentils as that's what I had in abundance. Now that I'm experienced with the technique I bought some mung beans to try out as they should make the classic large straight sprouts.

2) Wash the beans, enough to fill 1/6th of the chosen container. Reject any that float.

3) Soak the beans for 8 hours.

4) Drain the beans and place in an aerated container in a dark place. I used a yogurt container and poked airholes into the lid. I also turned the container upside down to decrease the number of spores drifting into the container.
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5) Rinse and drain the beans twice daily until they are long enough to eat, 2-7 days.
Lentil beans at +8 hours:
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+24 hours:
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+48 hours:
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+72 hours:
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+96 hours:
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6) Store in fridge for up to a week. Cook and eat when desired (I mistakenly overcrowded the test container).
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Verdict: Pretty great! Sprouting greatly reduced the starchy taste of the lentils without being as watery as mung bean sprouts. Still nice and crisp despite being relatively small. I definitely prefer it to standard lentils and like the idea of always having a box of them in the fridge. I started a second batch of lentils and prepared another sprouting container. Considering how easy it is to do, sprouting seems like a no-brainer now over buying. Wish I had done it earlier!

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Vacations

This is one of the areas of my life I haven't really figured out yet. It is also the next-largest spending category after housing, which means a lot of uncertainty about its impact on the early retiree life.

Things I'm pretty confident about:
- I currently and typically travel for vacation.
- I travel a few times a year to strange places for work as well.
- I do not travel for relaxation, nor do I particularly enjoy "forced relaxation" like at a resort.
- I like to read anthropology and history and see how people adapt to their surroundings and organize themselves. This often prompts travel plans.
- I like to experience novel culture, scenery, and food.
- Travel stimulates the hell out of the part of my lizard brain that seeks novelty.
- Pleasure travel, being unnecessary by definition, is an amazingly fast shorthand for expressing status to others.

Things I'm slowly changing my opinion to:
- It is a much grander mark of status to live in a place nice enough to not inspire escape.
- Transactional and material culture can be grasped pretty easily, but deeper interpersonal and social aspects of culture are basically impossible to experience as a tourist/foreigner.
- I would rather have more time to relax at home than travel.
- Most food is simply better in Toronto. Seafood is a notable exception.
- Most classically attractive scenery looks pretty much the same. Mountains, taiga, tundra, jungle, grassland - seeing one example is an equivalent experience to seeing another. The more ephemeral aspects of these places might be better experienced vicariously than via time/money investment.
- I have no desire to visit many parts of the world, nor to revisit many places I've been to before.

Things I'm unsure about:
- Will I eventually visit everywhere I want then just stop traveling?
- Will another style of travel (backpacking, portage, slow travel, resorts) appeal to me more in the future?
- Will my preferences/risk tolerance change in the future?

Right now, I plan for travel expenses to decline going into the future. I spent a tremendous amount of travel the last two years, between a honeymoon and destination weddings. Going forwards I will likely average less than $3,000/year. Being an extravagance, if I need to take up slack somewhere it would be simple to cut out travel completely. I dream of hobby/excess income directly funding travel expenses after stopping work.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

January 2020 update

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(sorry for how messy the x-axis is... didn't notice when I exported the graph!)

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My uncle suddenly passed away half a year ago and I received an inheritance. This guy was a certified, undisputed genius and ERE to an extent that would even make the people on this forum blink. He never graduated high school (he refused to engage in subjects he had no interest in) but got a Master's degree in engineering. He would only work jobs he found interesting - some of the work he did is still classified decades later - to fund his own work on interesting problems and adventures. He traveled all around North America on a motorcycle and a shoestring and even went to Woodstock. He was a pioneer in CFD and built his own computers, in the days when they were room-sized and C was new and exciting. He was basically our family's equivalent of Paul Erdős. What a legend!

ERE-type things I have been doing
- Darned even more socks. It's actually quite a relaxing endeavour, but the end is in sight.
- Started shaving with a double-edged safety razor, for the first time in over a decade. Traded a bottle of wine received as a host gift for a very nice Merkur razor, so it effectively only cost me a meal!
- Started growing my own bean sprouts. Since my post I've grown mung bean sprouts as well and found them to be roughly equivalent to commercial offerings.
- Cut my own hair! I traded a giftcard for the kit and it paid for itself after a single use. I managed to hit the sweet spot on my first attempt where it was good enough to receive a passing WAF, but just bad enough for my wife to offer help in the future. She previously refused to have anything to do with it. I liked how much control I had over my look, though it is tricky in spots. I should be able to improve both the quality and speed in the future as I get more practice.
- Socialized a lot for Chinese New Year which effectively gave us two weeks of meals. Financially it was a wash. Got tons of great food as everyone competes to bring the best stuff, doesn't want to bring leftovers home, and tries to dump it on the kids.

ERE failures
- Spending is above my $20k/yr target so far - should drop this month as we rented a car in January and I bought some consumables in bulk for the year. But it is already putting me behind.
- Rolling storage table project has been vetoed in favour of an IKEA trip. Alas.
- Did not register a corporation like I intended. I got deep into the weeds on the articles of incorporation and ended up setting it aside. I think I'm trying to make it too complex considering that I'll probably make another corporation for more complex projects.

Things considered
- Stopped the condo gym access efforts after seeing that they don't have a squat rack.
- Started following some dance tutorials with the wife. It's pretty fun! I have basically no sense of shame so I wouldn't mind moving to group lessons, but she is more reticent.
- Games night - I'll try hosting some small midweek dinners and see if I want to make it a regular thing.

Things to consider
- Switching phone plans. I have unlimited data, which made sense when I tethered my computer. Now I have home internet access, which is ~97% reliable. I want some level of data usage but can potentially save some money here. Need to do some research. The comedy option of using a cell phone as a dial-up modem connecting to a home router is unfortunately not cost effective due to needing a home phone connection.
- I'm fed up with how poorly-constructed most rolling luggage is. Is DIY luggage viable? Rollerblade wheels, aluminium extrusion frame, soft polyester/nylon sides. Maybe get an old hockey/gym bag and retrofit a frame into it? I currently just pack light with a ~14L backpack but it's too round and dangly to reliably pass through baggage checking systems.
- Job hunting. I love my job but it likely will not last past this year. I've talked to recruiters and have a few interesting prospects but determined that I would like to do a fly-in/fly-out job. Yet another iteration of the optimal stopping problem.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

FI forums impressions
Highly irreverent...

Reddit Financial Independence: "I'm new here, what's a budget?"
Reddit LeanFIRE: "I hate my job. Can I retire on $420 if I live in a van?"
Early-Retirement: "I'm retiring early at 62. Good thing I saved $3 million for it."
Mr Money Mustache: "How can I tactfully let my coworkers know that I'm better than them?"
Early Retirement Extreme: "I'm an INTJ and that is why I am DIY-ing surgery on my cat."

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1315
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

basuragomi wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:33 pm
Mr Money Mustache: "How can I tactfully let my coworkers know that I'm better than them?"
Ha! Though sadly, I fear this is where I'm at on the spectrum. My coworkers have learned not to mention traffic, or their commutes, or their lunch plans, or their Amazon purchases, or gas prices, etc. around me, because they know I just can't help myself but turn the conversation into some sort of anti-consumerist (anti-automobile) rant.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

February 2020 update

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Drop in net worth with the rest of the markets. I was slacking on investing cash until the recent drop motivated me to plow everything I could scrape up into the market. I managed to catch the falling knife on a few picks and am still up on them. I'm always amazed at how moving and losing tens of thousands of dollars feels like nothing, yet I'll sweat the math on unit prices for a $15 purchase. Receiving a cash gift from my parents was nice too - they are drawing down their retirement accounts and distributing it to the kids before they're forced to withdraw large chunks.

ERE-type things I have been doing
- Darned a few more socks and bought a load of thread as I ran out. Started some reading on tailoring and garment construction. Maybe in the future I will try my hand at it.
- Exhibited at a major conference. They gave every booth a 500mL bottle of hand sanitizer. Went around and snagged about 15 full ones left behind after the conference ended. Have a few left after giving away most of them.
- Bike has survived another winter, though the weather was so erratic the chain needed near-weekly oiling. Waiting for warmer weather so I can give it a proper wash and start greasing everything up again.
- Found some broken portable speakers and fixed them up with a soldering iron and 3d printing. They will be used on my next big bike trip.
- Practiced instruments weekly after slacking off for a few months. It's unlikely to bring me income, but it's an easy way to make my wife smile!
- Restocked the freezer as there were a number of great sales on meat. The latest addition was $1/lb pork shoulder - I kept the dark meat whole, ground up the rest, rendered the skin into delicious crackling and turned the bones into soup. Most of the ground meat will soon turn into dumplings and siu mai. I can't stock up for Covid-19 as we're always full on food and supplies!

ERE failures
- Spent a load of money and drove hours to a cottage with friends, where we literally stayed inside all weekend. Definitely a better bed than camping, at least. I'm trying to figure out how much of the socializing from these overnight trips can be replaced by more convenient parties, but the time/money commitment seems to be what draws out people.
- Tried and failed to host some mid-week socializing. It's hard to arrange things when most people we know are exhausted workaholic yuppies. Early retirement might be pretty socially quiet with respect to my peer group.
- Dug up a plane model to sell on Ebay, but never got around to listing it. Now it's not making any money and wasting space.

Things considered
- Will stay with my current phone provider. I could save around $10/month for vastly degraded service. A new job may make my data requirements increase as well.
- Job hunting. Talked to a bunch of recruiters but nothing's come of it. Now to start applying directly.

Things to consider
- Making a bug-out bag. The biggest risk to us is flooding/sewer back-up. We also recently had the bomb squad sniffing about the neighbourhood which threw this need into focus. I think I'll aim for "enough gear to trek to my parents'/in-laws' places and spend a night."
- Seizing the backyard and planting stuff. I'm liking the idea of strawberries and mint (for salads and ice cream).
- I pitched the idea of buying subscriptions to local venues (museums, opera, ballet, etc.) to my wife instead of spending on vacation. It's substantially cheaper than tourist-style travel and would leave us with a ton of things to do in years where we don't travel.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

COVID-19
We are working from home for the duration. Besides that, I am amazed at how inadvertently prepared we were for the pandemic:
- I enjoy cooking for cheap, so we had lots of food, about six weeks worth of fresh and preserved vegetables, and continue to grow fresh sprouts to supplement the vegetables. The only thing bought from the store was dairy to feed my wife's tea addiction. We always have a half-year supply of toilet paper at hand too since we only buy during sales.
- I live within walking and biking distance of almost everything and have the equipment to maintain my bike. No need to rely on public transit.
- I have a separate entrance from the other units and enough space to exercise indoors. My wife and cases of water serve as weights for resistance training - definitely not how I thought I'd use them.
- Recently-acquired skills that replace going out - DIY haircuts and new sewing techniques especially.
- We have around a year's worth of essential expenses in cash between various accounts, and dividend income more than covers expenses. This is important, because I am putting my FU money on the table.

My boss's boss refused to authorize work-from-home, brought himself into close quarters with us, then started exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. He is not getting tested and still wants us to work from the office. I instead immediately went home and have been working from home since. Thankfully no symptoms, but it's clear that my health is a priority only to me. My guess is that they need me working more than they need my presence, but otherwise I'm ready to walk away from the job if need be. I'm glad I have the privilege of refusing. Many of my relatives are now unemployed with far higher bills to pay than I.

Bear Market
I wasn't old enough to have brokerage accounts or significant equities during the 2007 crisis, so this recent market drop was completely unprecedented for me. At the worst of it I was down something like $140k, ~7 years of barebone expenses. What is strange to me is how muted my reaction was. I thought I'd panic or at least feel more concerned. All I've done since is buy more. I guess I view market movements with the same detachment as moving retirement funds around. This seems like a good thing, or maybe I'm just the frog in the pot.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

March 2020 update

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"Essential" spending was a bit above normal due to annual professional fees. If those were amortized monthly I would still be below a 4% withdrawal rate, though dividends are still holding up to bolster cashflow requirements. The only non-essential spending this month was a restaurant visit before all the lockdowns and some cut flowers (I usually get carnations, they will last 3+ weeks in the vase). Otherwise nothing but food, rent, insurance and utilities. Not my ideal life, but ignoring the disappearance of in-person socializing my life has improved. It's easier to turn off and go home when I work from home, and I am enjoying the extra time spent with my wife. If my post-ER life was just this, but with self-actualization/hobbies replacing work, I'd be very satisfied.

ERE-type things I have been doing
- Doubled beansprout production to supplement fresh fruit and vegetables. We are only buying groceries every 3-4 weeks to limit exposure to the pandemic.
- Continuing to cut my hair at home.
- Slowly repairing bike paintwork, as weather allows.
- Home workouts as the gym is shut down. I stuck a case of bottled water in a backpack as a weight and use a water jug as a kettlebell along with little leverage tricks. I miss how easy steel weights and barbells make things.
- I don't pick stocks often as it is tedious work, but I allocated ~4% to CCO a month ago and still have paper gains. A small victory. I guess they dropped in the first place due to being a relatively illiquid index component, despite having revenues hedged out for decades.
- Work hacking. Working from home instead to avoid needless exposure. I am willing to quit over this, and thankfully have enough investment cashflow to back me up.

ERE failures
- Not much. It's been mentioned elsewhere in this forum that the lockdown is basically an ERE trial run. I'd like to spend more on entertainment/entertaining but the other parts of my life are pretty much as I want them. I'm interested in finding out which small problems I still need to buy my way out of.

Things considered
- Currently assembling some bug-out bags. Wondering if it's worth scrounging a P38-type can opener versus just using more convenient protein sources.
- Will turn our surplus yogurt container collection into a small garden. We can usually get free compost from the city, hopefully that will return in time to grow something useful.

Things to consider
- The rental market is very volatile at the moment with AirBnBers getting wrecked. Time to revisit our rent-vs-buy criteria or criteria to change rentals?

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Internal vs External Motivation

I have lists of projects I want to do but never seem to find the time to develop. Big projects, ones that are 1000+ hours of effort. I realized that the biggest projects I've completed had external motivation, usually by a social group and a deadline. So why can't I finish a big project? After a while I started wondering if I was able to internally motivate myself anymore. After some thought and reflection, I came to three conclusions:

1) My internal motivation is directly related to my available energy/time.
2) The biggest obstacles to pursuing big projects are therefore other big projects.
3) Work and school count as projects and should be treated as such.

It felt like such a giant revelation, then I realized that I had arrived at the web of goals concept described in the ERE book. The concept really didn't sink in until that point. This was a few months ago and the revelation felt like something that would be so obvious to the average ERE-er that I struggled to write it up until now.

The next step for me has to be actually making a web of goals. I always pictured one as a n-dimensional "World of Goo" style truss, bouncing and flopping around as nodes move and resources flow through. That's definitely hard to draw on a piece of paper though.

tl;dr I went in a giant circle and ended back up at the web of goals concept.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

April 2020 update

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The first full month in lockdown. Turned out that my boss caught COVID-19 after all, so I am glad I walked out on their demand to stay at the office. The only time I spent with someone besides my wife was helping my grandmother set up her garden. Non-essential spending was basically zero, just Patreon subscriptions. Got a tax refund as well. I miss fried chicken. Working from home is still far better than at the office, though I find myself losing accommodative power in my eyes without a nice long-distance view to stare at through the window.

ERE-type things I have been doing
- Spring is here! Pollinating the chili plants which have started flowering. I've gotten my technique/routine to the point where I get a ~80% fertilization rate from flowers to fruit.
- Don't have heavy weights for home workouts, but I do have a wife whom I've been lifting. Trying to replace weight with speed to keep exertion the same... kinetic energy=0.5*mv², after all.
- Learned an addictive marinated beansprout recipe: blanched beansprouts, sesame oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic paste. Definitely bringing it to potlucks.
- Sold CCO at a pretty good profit. Sometimes I wish I had the temerity to plow 6-figure amounts into these kinds of stock picks.
- I cut down meat consumption a lot over the past two years, but now my wife has as well. Less meat eaten is less freezer space, cheaper and more resilient to supply chain disruption. The pandemic seems to be hitting the meat industry hard. It's probably spread to Chinese pigs again too, for all we know.
- Assembled bug-out bags and stashed them in a readily-accessible place. Hoping we never need them!

ERE failures
- Our flour, stored in an impermeable container in a cool dry place, was infested with bugs and we threw the whole 10 kg out. I'm wary of freezing then thawing flour to control pests as I don't want moisture to accumulate/migrate and cause mould. How can I store flour without infestation?

Things considered
- Rental market is dropping but it looks like printing money is the order of the day. Getting a mortgage might be the most efficient way to get housing, if inflation kicks in while rates stay near zero. Damned if I can predict that though, and condos are still crazy expensive.

Things to consider
- I want to learn more economic theory, specifically focused on how macroeconomics emerges from microeconomic behaviour. CFA material really didn't cover anything substantial about economics, though I was amused by the mathematical proof of why communism doesn't work. Maybe I'll check out that McConnell thread/book.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

A week without sugar

I have a huge sweet tooth. I even make my own candy, learning about the properties of various stages of decomposed sugar as a bonus. I noticed that I had many, many triggers to consume sweets, e.g. finishing a workout and after meals. Further, the compulsion to eat once triggered was very strong. I definitely have some level of addiction, and I wanted to find out how strong. So I spent a week abstaining from all added sugar.

The biggest change was not having sugary foods for breakfast. My wife has been baking up a storm and it's all sweetened quickbreads which typically makes an easy breakfast. I also typically eat sweetened oatmeal. I replaced that to oatmeal with peanut butter (the natural stuff) and sourdough toast with butter or peanut butter. @Bigato mentioned a savoury spread in his journal that sounds excellent so that's on the list for our next monthly grocery trip!

Other than that, I replaced snacking on bits of candy with plain water or savoury snacks - crackers or punjabi deep-fried lentils. Desserts were replaced with eating and drinking more.

I was mostly surprised at how easy it was to get through the week. I never really felt a craving for sugar specifically, like I do after a 100km bike ride. Instead I felt either generalized hunger, or a very strong compulsion to eat sugar that felt entirely distinct from actual hunger. The compulsion was linked to some specific triggers, usually completing some activity. I think this confirms that I am perceiving sugar as reward first and food second.

I felt like I did not slump as badly in the afternoon as I normally do. Not having sweets after lunch, or having a lighter lunch in general, seemed to help. Added sugar was about ~8% of my daily calories, but sweet quickbreads also have a lot of fat. I had not mentally adjusted to eating food with lower calorie density, and I lost a bit of weight, resulting in some ab definition.

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When I ended the fast and had a sugary treat for breakfast, it felt like my response was split into two phases. The taste of the sugar wasn't actually that exciting, but instead I was hit with a wave of happiness a few minutes later, maybe as my blood sugar spiked? I was definitely not expecting that. I think I was previously linking the taste of the food with the sugar rush, when it's not actually the same thing.

I definitely have some level of sugar addiction, but it's good to know that I can easily control it. I'd like to have some amount of sugar in my diet since it has such a strong positive effect on my mood. My plan is to keep training myself out of my triggers to keep tolerance down and push myself to use sugar as a reward rather than a response.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 7235
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I have the same problem with sugar addiction. Clear and instant mood improvement when I eat it, so hard to resist. One thing I found helpful when I was trying to lose weight was to eat it only in pure form. No giant muffins full of flour and butter calories when what I really wanted was just the crispy sugar top. I found that sour apple caramel suckers and sour patch kids candies were good choices, because self-limiting , and I tried to reserve them for my mid-afternoon low.

mathiverse
Posts: 166
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:40 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by mathiverse »

basuragomi wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 11:22 am
Other than that, I replaced snacking on bits of candy with plain water or savoury snacks - crackers or punjabi deep-fried lentils. Desserts were replaced with eating and drinking more.
What is this deep-fried lentil snack? Something like this https://www.veganricha.com/punjabi-dal-fry-recipe/?

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

@7Wannabe5: Looks like we converged on the same solution! I started making my own candy because I had the same realization as you, though it was mostly evaluated from a cost/learning perspective. I love sour candy though, so I just made really labour-intensive candy (dragon's beard) instead to force conservation.

@bigato: Sugar is an incredibly addictive substance. Our city's former mayor could afford to smoke a tremendous amount of crack, but no amount of crack smoking (nor sugar) was enough to sate him. Eating sugar similarly triggers a desire for more sugar. Even if I were stuffed to the gills on wheat berries I'd still be compelled to eat sugar. That's what makes it an addiction. You can see the roots of it in studies showing how many children will always prefer the sweetest substance possible - no amount of sugar is enough. It's a very fundamental brain issue that the world hasn't really figured out how to handle yet (besides evolution culling those prone to adult diabetes). I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me.

@mathiverse: This style of snack. There's a thousand varieties, but I like the grab-bag ones. A big mix of deep-fried legumes, seeds, puffed grains, nuts, and cracker-type things all covered in curry spices and salt. It's easy to gradually eat just a small amount in a sitting since it's so flavourful.

basuragomi
Posts: 213
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Basuragomi's journal

Post by basuragomi »

Small hacks

I really like the journals where people show off their projects, so I'll start showcasing some of the little repairs and hacks I use to improve my life. Better living through a varied skillset!

Broken rake
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My grandmother's rake was broken right before planting season, and has been broken in various stages for a very long time. You can see evidence of all the various hackjobs people tried to get it working. Drilling through the collar, pipe clamps and even string. I took it all apart and cut the handle down to a fresh spot in preparation for my own hackjob. Luckily my grandmother is short enough to not miss the length.

The collar was rusted and mangled to the point of being unusable. I didn't have the tools or materials to make a new one, so I improvised. I figured that the collar experiences two main stresses: holding the rake in place and transferring torque to the handle. The handle was originally monolithic and only really experiences bending forces.

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I fixed the rake laterally in place with screws, and axially with a screw and the handle socket. I couldn't place the rake on one side of the handle since the screwheads weren't big enough to capture the rake wire, and I liked the balance of the central placement. The handle was now vulnerable to being pried apart, so I re-used the pipe clamps to provide confining pressure. I am a bit worried that the handle is now weaker in bending than before, but whacking the rake around hard to test reassured me. Done, and this decades-old rake lives on with the original character-filled wood handle. It's been two months and it's still going strong. A new rake is $60 with a shitty fibreglass handle, and hardware stores were still under lockdown at the time, so everyone was quite happy here.

Salvaging a poor purchase
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We own a generic mop handle. Turns out that when we replaced the head the store no longer sold a generic mop head, only this proprietary one that pairs with their now-proprietary mop handle. We didn't realize this until a year later when we replaced the head. All other dimensions are exactly the same, so a quick dremel opened up the hole enough to fit the mop head anyways. I built a little block to shove into the actuator assembly to compensate for the different length. Another trip to the store avoided, and something saved from the trash - all my neighbours hire cleaners, so I couldn't even give it away!

Wasting speakers
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I had a pair of broken 20-year-old speakers that I barely use anymore thanks to my new computer set-up. I only use them to extend my guitar processor output to my headphones. Finally opened them up to see what was wrong. A big electrolytic capacitor had failed and leaked all over. I contemplated repairing it, but I didn't think it was worth. Given the limited role it had in my life, the other repairs required and the low probability of reselling it, $1.25 to replace the capacitor isn't worthwhile. Instead I stripped a handful of components to make a 3.5mm stereo extension cable. The board was a vintage beauty too, all through-pin components. The circuit boards were reserved for e-waste recycling, for whatever that's worth.

I just needed a female jack and the input cable. I used a toothbrush travel protector for the enclosure as it was a perfect size, with holes in the appropriate places, and my dentist keeps giving me them over my protests. A simple wire-wrap and soldering job.

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I cut up some plastic strips from the recycling pile, rolled them up and stuffed them in to hold everything in place but still have some spring. Fibreglass tape held everything together, and it was done.

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Now instead of mostly useless speakers, I have a very useful extension cable and less clutter in my life. It works perfectly and I can stand and play which was pretty difficult before. The same thing is $13 on Amazon and not nearly as repairable/robust.

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