Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

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IlliniDave
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Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

I was intending to wait a while before starting up a new log. In another thread I mentioned that my plan for ER was conceived during the swoon after the financial crisis, a couple years after the stock market bottomed out, but still a time when a lot of midlife professionals were still unemployed or underemployed. I had reason to believe that my chances of being laid off in the near future was distinctly nonzero. Fear dwelt near the surface. In reaction I ramped up my survival instincts. Gaining financial independence was a goal which grew out of that.

In that same thread I also said that so far the pandemic has not fundamentally changed things for me, something I still believe is true. It also hasn't gone unnoticed. Fear is not far off. There's a parallel between now and 2011 which I decided made today a good day to start the story of, or at least the prologue to, the next long stretch.

Regardless of the parallels, this time it's different. I'm starting from a different place. I can claim moderately robust FI, so I'm not worried about job loss and the cascade of bad things that sometimes rides its wake. Job loss could even be a boon. Realizing I spent yesterday talking/thinking about things like a real possibility of contracting an exotic virus and dying, possibly having only limited access to medical care, additional restrictions on interstate travel, increasingly curbed access to goods and services, as though it was just the normal *yawn* news of the day, produced an epiphany.

Certainly the preppers have a right to say, "I told you so," today. And most people still seem to believe that in some amount of time--weeks or months or years--some semblance of normal will reassert itself. I belong in that group. But that we're here now provides a new perspective. I'm thinking a lot about how I could tweak my segue over the next few months based on this glimpse of reality.

My old log became too bogged down in numbers, and I'm going to try to be a little more hand-wavey about that side of things. I probably won't avoid the topic completely because for good or ill, finances will be part of it. For this first entry I'll just say I've recently lost an amount of paper wealth (electronic really) that is somewhat larger than my entire net worth immediately after my divorce (12 years, 2 months, and 24 days ago--but who's counting). I haven't lost so much yet that it changes my fundamental state of readiness. Could it get there before this all over? Sure, but I think it's unlikely and I've got some built-in wiggle room. At the moment I'm not obsessing about the losses and am thinking more about positioning for the future.

A financial portfolio is a redundancy in the supply chain of money. I'm looking at establishing a system to moderate risk inherent to having many links in the supply chain of goods and services. Welcome to ere, right? I don't want to go full-on self-reliant homesteading/prepping. But I lucked out in that I did my normal periodic re-upping of toilet paper during the wee hours of a Friday morning just hours before the big runs started around here. I was also lucky to have a good amount of hand soap in the house.

I spent a lot of time a few years back examining contentment versus spending which on some level is contentment versus stuff. I didn't push it as far as I could in the austere direction because I was looking more for a good place to let it settle out than I was curious about the extremes. So a new exercise I'm just starting is to take a look at the must-haves and how to mitigate disruptions in supply for some months. To have a starting point I arbitrarily picked 6 months. Just to give it a name I'm calling this still-nebulous system my Doom Portfolio. I'm using "portfolio" because the goal is to make it an asset.

I'll note with irony that so far the nonessential items I carry in my budget tend to be the ones not subject to disruption.

This isn't my plan but the sorts of things I'm thinking about include:

-Identifying a list of must-have household commodities

-From that list identify those where I could change my buying habits to do something like: during a given six month window purchase what I anticipate needing 7-12 months later. To start that off I could go out and pick up six-month supplies and revert to my normal just-in-time buying habits thereafter, keeping six months on hand at all times. This afternoon wouldn't be a good time to start that, obviously, but there are many ways to get myself in that position some number of months down the road.

-Next to consider would be items unsuitable for long-term storage. A portable water purification/filtration system is something that's been "on my list" for a while. The perceived need was recreational, but maybe I get that taken care of sooner rather than later. Some things I may have to largely do without (various fresh food items, e.g.). The list goes on. Much of this stuff I've thought about passingly, figuring that plugging a lot of those holes would lead to fun retirement projects. Having had robust income and being the classic "oversaver" has arguably left me at a disadvantage because I never felt compelling reason to pursue life hacks for their cost saving potential.

-Then there's what I call auxiliary needs - things that aren't pressing day-to-day needs now, or needs at all, that might become needs in a major off-nominal situation. Personal protection comes to mind. Becoming responsible for another person or persons. Many things to consider.

And it's a good time to revisit who and what's important in life and ensure plans include those things. I'll be doing that along the way here as well. I'm sensing some of my past bravado does not have as much substance behind it as I thought. It may take a lot of inner struggle to step away. Not sure how much of that will make it here. I've already begun "journaling" about a lot of this on the side. That'll give me a chance to distill what goes here and leave the hand-wringy flip-flopping unedited stuff in the dustbin.

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jennypenny
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by jennypenny »

IlliniDave wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:29 am
Certainly the preppers have a right to say, "I told you so," today. And most people still seem to believe that in some amount of time--weeks or months or years--some semblance of normal will reassert itself. I belong in that group.
I never say 'I told you so' because I didn't come to prepping because I had better foresight. We've had our own mini-apocalypses and I learned from them.

That said, even if things return to normal ... they won't. People will change after this. They'll learn what they miss and what they don't. Some will crack a little under the stress. Some will overreact and YOLO themselves into oblivion. Think of the people you've known that went through a terrible illness or sudden shock -- most change, and not always in predictable ways. Now extend that out to everyone you know going through something like that at the same time. Point being, even if you can hold it together and things look normal, they might still change going forward.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

Hey, jp. I agree re normal, which is why I threw in the "some semblance of". All I meant was that businesses reopen and people start going back to work and for those that survive, life goes on. It has to.

So far the biggest potential change I see in myself is I feel myself retreating to the same sort of mindset I had when I was on much shakier financial footing. The last couple years I had a good bump up in income do to working a lot of overtime, and I got a little sloppy with money. It wasn't awful because most of the extra spending went for the things that I'm enjoying during my isolated time.

I did my weekend "contacts" this morning--grocery store and gas run. It was killing me that I there wasn't much in the way of choices, and the choice was to pay the going rate for pricier brand items of do without. Gas is cheap though. In the regular supermarket near me toilet paper is back on the shelves, and for the first time since all this started I saw people besides me who weren't buying it.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by classical_Liberal »

When I semi-RE'ed last summer, I very much spent the first few months trying to figure out the next levels of ERE. It was hard, I didn't have a great grasp of some of the large concepts that were required. My motivation was that I've always been a bit of a prepper at heart, high anxiety, and thought that a more robust personal set-up would take care of those two things.

I made some progress, but then fell into the camp of "it's just not worth it". There were plenty of less "hard" ways to scratch my prepper itch, and I knew a little part time work could more than fund all my living expenses as they are currently, that satisfied my anxiety. So why work so hard to reach the next level? Well, COVID helped answer that question for me. Sounds like you may be in a similar boat?

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:55 pm
...
I made some progress, but then fell into the camp of "it's just not worth it". There were plenty of less "hard" ways to scratch my prepper itch, and I knew a little part time work could more than fund all my living expenses as they are currently, that satisfied my anxiety. So why work so hard to reach the next level? Well, COVID helped answer that question for me. Sounds like you may be in a similar boat?
cL, that's very possibly what's roiling around. I've tried my best to exclude part-time work as a fallback via a fatter stash, but that second tier is till covered. Beyond a certain point, squeezing a few more nickels out of some facet of life simply for the sake of squeezing the nickels out doesn't excite me on a visceral level. Staying alive is very visceral. I don't think it is likely that money will vanish completely, but I think I need to think through medium-term disruptions some more, where access and availability are strained temporarily.

One way to manage that is to whittle away outside dependencies, which in turn can mean streamlining stuff, which means lowered spending usually. So this whole scenario of: "I need to stay away from people to stay alive" adds enough visceral rocket sauce to get me going.

The challenge is trying not to go overboard preparing to fight the last war (which in context is the current situation).

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

Q1 2020 is in the books.

I remember a fairly lengthy thread about asset allocation some time back. It was generally a back-and-forth about whether rebalancing provided alpha. I'm agnostic about that, and opined that the real point to an AA strategy was being missed. This quarter my AA strategy did it's job. The stash is down 8.7% for the quarter which isn't great, but a conservative AA (and a "custom" rebalancing strategy) did blunt the pain. Still looking at a withdrawal rate that ranges from 1.4% down to <0.01% across a non-comprehensive range of relevant assumptions.

My employer is putting in place some pandemic-driven policies that might impact me. Specifically, employees who cross state lines for personal travel are required to self-quarantine for two weeks upon returning to their home states before they are allowed back on company premises. That basically doubles the leave time required for my standard 2-week trip up to visit family. Still no confirmed or presumptive cases at my job site.

I'm one of those debt-o-phobes that beyond a certain point sees indebtedness as a form of bondage. Hearing about the trillions the US gov't is talking about borrowing without really getting the consent of the people who will have to pay it back rankles me, doubly so in these precarious times. If we go that route I think it's incumbent on us to prioritize maximizing the economy and finding the optimal point on the ascending side of the Laffer curve (I'm aware that certain interpretations of the idea are flawed) to set revenues and have some hope of paying it back. This will hurt people and causes. Whether we are willing to hurt people and causes is something we should decide among the decisions regarding how much of our children's' and grandchildren's' money we should spend. We should spend not a penny more than what it takes to leave them a reasonable economic environment. So $2T for infrastructure (iff well-utilized) is something I could be talked into getting behind. There's a lot of other big $ desires that I can't.

ertyu
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by ertyu »

IlliniDave wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 6:28 am
Hearing about the trillions the US gov't is talking about borrowing without really getting the consent of the people who will have to pay it back rankles me, doubly so in these precarious times. If we go that route I think it's incumbent on us to prioritize maximizing the economy and finding the optimal point on the ascending side of the Laffer curve (I'm aware that certain interpretations of the idea are flawed) to set revenues and have some hope of paying it back.
It will not be paid back, it will be inflated away. This will not hurt those americans that live paycheck to paycheck - their debt will devalue while their salaries will hopefully index with inflation somewhat. It will not hurt those with mortgages either, as interest rates will stay under the inflation rate. Those with savings, one hopes, are smart enough to position their portfolios accordingly and protect themselves that way. As for the richest, they're probably busy taking out the largest loans they can and buying up whatever aquifers are left in South America.

The premise that increased gvt debt is always and necessarily followed by an increase in taxes is fallacious. This debt cannot be paid - not the debt taken out by now, and not the debt that will be taken out before this crisis is over. But that's not so bad - just load up on real assets, ditch the bonds, and you'll be fine :)

And yes, the Laffer curve is utter BS.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

ertyu wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:01 am
It will not be paid back, it will be inflated away.

...

And yes, the Laffer curve is utter BS.
Inflation is a tax. In the extreme it's a confiscation of virtually everything in a free market financial system that operates on currency. We'd be back to localized barter systems. I'm not sure that there is a historical precedent for wages tracking inflation when inflation is deployed as a slow motion debt default/transferral.

If one accepts that if tax rates are zero, tax revenue will be zero, and if tax rates are 100%, tax revenue will be zero (barring de facto slavery), and that in between those extremes tax revenue will be positive and nonzero, all the "Laffer Curve" really says is that there will at least two tax rate points that will produce any given revenue level with one exception. The exception is if there is is a single tax rate that is optimum in terms of producing a unique maximum revenue.

There are some nonsense assertions regarding application of that idea (e.g., that lower tax rates always produce more revenue). Some others exist that probably have some merit although they lead straight to ideological clashes when discussed.

I didn't assert any premises regarding tax increases. It was actually the opposite (i.e., a conclusion) I made about tax policy, and I didn't even specify an increase. My point was that we'll have to do a very good job with tax policy if were going to toss $1T-dollar bills around like empty peanut shells. Or, the intelligent investor might consider a large allocation of land and guns in their portfolio.

ertyu
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by ertyu »

IlliniDave wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:48 am
I'm not sure that there is a historical precedent for wages tracking inflation when inflation is deployed as a slow motion debt default/transferral.
Thus the "somewhat." I have lived through a period of hyperinflation. While the crisis episode happened, wages grew slower than prices (real wages fell) and pensioneers + anyone on relatively fixed nominal incomes was outright screwed. Yes, this did increase reliance on subsistence farming and repairing over replacing, but at least in my case did not lead to outright barter. It did, however, cause a run on comparative consumption non-perishables, e.g. cooking oil and other things that keep. People who kept savings in cash did have their savings wiped out. But people also had debts wiped out. As the situation normalized, wages began to index up, but debt which was already inflated away did not. On the whole, people I know who were laborers and lived paycheck to paycheck had a very difficult time while the hyperinflation was happening but are grateful looking back because they realize it eliminated their debt burden - brought them back to zero.

When I read estimates of the % of the american population who can't come up with X amount of money in an emergency or have savings below Y amount, I can't help but think that the poorest americans would on the whole benefit from inflation. When the dust settles, the increase to NW due to elimination of debt will be greater than the decrease of NW due to saving whose purchasing power was eroded. In the US, indebtedness goes beyond the poor - student loans are a major drag on the economy, for example.

I am not arguing inflation is harmless or it doesn't reduce standards of living, just that it's not such an extreme boogaboo as many americans seem to believe it is - which surprises me because america had its own experience with rising prices in the 70s.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

Still, it's not a matter of the spending not being paid for, it's just a transferal of who pays for it and/or how it's paid for. I think Americans have enough of a sense of fairness that they don't like mechanisms that reward the profligate at the expense of the responsible. Let's wipe out the little old widow's bank account to pay for the banker's 7-figure mortgage is the sort of trade space you wind up in. The US working class still has not recovered from the "stagflation" of the 1970s and early 1980s. Of course I am biased because I have paid all my debts and lived below my means voluntarily, and it will grind my gears to have to forfeit big chunks of that (or take on financial risks I don't want to bear) to pay off debts that aren't mine along with my "share" of government debt.

A little inflation is reasonably good. The kind of inflation required to clear up the US gov'ts exponentially growing debt, and much larger future obligations will cost the real value of those liabilities. It's just a matter of where you want to place the burden. No such thing as free stuff.

ertyu
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by ertyu »

well, between inflating the us debt away (corporate + sovereign) and default, what would you choose? The thinking, "reward the profligate at the expense of the responsible" strikes me as very detached from macroeconomic realities. Economies grow on credit, and over the past 12 years, every single developed (and not so developed) economy has bent over backwards to structure incentives in a way that encourages leverage. The US working class isn't suffering because of the 70s and 80s. It's suffering because QE has not tricked down to it (so consumer prices wouldn't rise), because globalization exerts downward pressure on incomes, and because automation is gradually eliminating what used to be "good" blue collar jobs.

What I am not saying here: "yea bro screw little old ladies" - I have lived through hyperinflation, I know how old people lived during those times. Yes, inflation erodes the savings of those who do not protect their NW through asset allocation (or who are just screwed due to being on fixed incomes for one reason or another). Yes, I also realize that it is unreasonable to expect of everyone to be the sort of shrewd investor who would see inflation coming and know what to do about it. I am not saying that inflation doesn't hurt some -- I guess in your thinking, this is how the sovereign debt is "paid" for? If I understand you right? Some people would suffer and bear a cost, therefore those people can be seen as disproportionally "paying" that debt. That said, what was the alternative to not taking on that debt (the most recent one, in response to corona)? A shut-down without the stimulus would have been catastrophic on all levels. Corona without shut-down would've meant people dying in the streets, like in that Wuhan video someone took on their phone where the hospital was full, some people who couldn't make it in were sitting on a bench, two of them slumped and dead, the third one clutching his chest, unable to breathe. Would that have not led to unrest and economic havoc? Above, you say that people who had to pay the debt were not consulted - well, what would you have done?? Is there any other way to have dealt with this?

I'm at home and with a shelter-in-place (2bdrm apt, with parents) so I have time on my hands - so feel free to drop this convo if you find it unproductive, but imo notions of "being responsible" and fairness as you conceive of it have been irrelevant to US macroeconomic decision making for a long, long time. You know who I think was irresponsible? Trump and his tax cut...

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

ertyu,

yeah, this is my new journal and I really don't want it to be a debate over macroeconomics. I am pretty detached from macroeconomics by the way, I'm just a guy who is trying to navigate through the last 2-3 decades of my life. I'm not opposed to the stimulus or to investing in infrastructure. I am against going to the ATM for the most economic solution to the problem of no toilet paper on the store shelves. I'm happy for you that you like hyperinflation and have the expertise to profit from it. Maybe you'll get to have more hyperinflation where you live. My take on debt is rather than planning to default on it (which the gov't could do through currency manipulation such as triggering hyperinflation, or just outright default) you have to work hard and smart with the borrowed capital and use part of the proceeds to repay the debt. So then the lender and the borrower both win (I'm both wrt to US federal debt). When one group wins at the expense of another group losing it's not so good (e.g., as a beneficiary of gov't spending my taxes don't go up but as a bond holder/stakeholder my pension and a chunk of my 401k lose all their value in the blink of an eye).

I said above that I think some amount of inflation is a good thing, and I understand there is a role for borrowed capital in the grand scheme. An eccess of either can cause widespread harm and that's what I would like to avoid.

Anyway, that's all I'll say about that and return to my navel gazing. I should probably just not talk at all about the wider world in here.

ertyu
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by ertyu »

IlliniDave wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:00 pm
I should probably just not talk at all about the wider world in here.
Nah, you should talk about whatever you want to talk about, it was me who was out of line and got intense over this. Peace

Jason
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by Jason »

ertyu wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:47 am

What I am not saying here: "yea bro screw little old ladies" -
I think Dave's smart enough to hold off until there's a vaccine.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

ertyu wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:14 pm
Nah, you should talk about whatever you want to talk about, it was me who was out of line and got intense over this. Peace
No worries ertyu, it was my fault. I should learn to avoid controversial topics, even when they are part of the stew of things I think about regarding my future.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

With all the isolation and whatnot I'm sort of in a sharing mood. There's another thread about what people are doing during their isolation. Here's a peek into mine.

Yesterday I was looking for an excuse not to finish off my taxes so I took a couple hours to lay down some guitar tracks for the project I've mentioned I'm working with my son-in-law.

This (link below) is still what he refers to as a "rough" that's focused on the rhythm parts and overall structure. It's a snapshot while we are working out the arrangement, which so far we've been doing by swapping files via dropbox. The drum track is just something he's worked out on VST, and both it and the guitar are evolving as we we react to the other's "latest". So there are a few spots I'll want him to adjust the drums to fit where I'm going with guitar, and when he does I'll probably tweak my parts. So far the only live instrument is the guitar parts. I did the bass on VST, might try to play a bass part myself before all is said and done if I can find one to borrow. We'll record drums at his dad's place once the arrangement settles out and the whole c-19 situation relents. I'm still working on a melodic overlay and some lyrics. Not sure if it will become a vocal song or not.

There hasn't been any mixing yet aside from me dialing in a suitable guitar tone before tracking, which I did with headphones. For the brave, headphones may be the least painful way to listen to it. Within a week or two this snapshot will be OBE, and after this I'll probably keep the song under wraps until it's finished.

For those who are wondering, DIY has not proved itself a cost saver. Definitely more ERE-friendly to go download professional music off of iTunes or whatever. Cheaper and better quality.

https://soundcloud.com/grampalerxst/5april

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

With all the isolation and whatnot I'm sort of in a sharing mood. There's another thread about what people are doing during their isolation. Here's a peek into mine.

Yesterday I was looking for an excuse not to finish off my taxes so I took a couple hours to lay down some guitar tracks for the project I've mentioned I'm working with my son-in-law.

This (link below) is still what he refers to as a "rough" that's focused on the rhythm parts and overall structure. It's a snapshot while we are working out the arrangement, which so far we've been doing by swapping files via dropbox. The drum track is just something he's worked out on VST, and both it and the guitar are evolving as we we react to the other's "latest". So there are a few spots I'll want him to adjust the drums to fit where I'm going with guitar, and when he does I'll probably tweak my parts. So far the only live instrument is the guitar parts. I did the bass on VST, might try to play a bass part myself before all is said and done if I can find one to borrow. We'll record drums at his dad's place once the arrangement settles out and the whole c-19 situation relents. I'm still working on a melodic overlay and some lyrics. Not sure if it will become a vocal song or not.

There hasn't been any mixing yet aside from me dialing in a suitable guitar tone before tracking, which I did with headphones. For the brave, headphones may be the least painful way to listen to it. Within a week or two this snapshot will be OBE, and after this I'll probably keep the song under wraps until it's finished.

For those who are wondering, DIY has not proved itself a cost saver. Definitely more ERE-friendly to go download professional music off of iTunes or whatever. Cheaper and better quality. :)

https://soundcloud.com/grampalerxst/5april

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

I came pretty close to putting in my papers at work yesterday afternoon--far closer than I've ever come before. I was thinking about the why of it and really couldn't come up with a specific reason. Something in my reptile brain could have been behind it. Reptile iDave seems to have a bunker mentality (maybe RiD is a turtle?) and under the pall of the pandemic he equates the job with an external threat.

Or it could be that under the old you're-only-as-old-as-you-feel principle, I've hit an aging transient and suddenly find myself feeling FRA + 10. Little things that I normally pay no mind to are starting to annoy me, like a coworker who shows up at 0530 and invariably starts grinding through a bag of the loudest chips a food factory has ever produced as though trying to dunk on them with a lifetime's ferocity.

I was imagining a post-pandemic world. Seems like there will be changes which probably aren't necessary. It's interesting to see what legislators try to sneak through when given the irresistible opportunity that accompanies widespread fear. Extrapolating from history would suggest those of us in the US will see "We the people" take another stride towards being empty words.

The one thing I feel good about is that my own internal reaction to the present state of things has driven me back to being a lot more aware of my consumption habits. My income hasn't changed yet, but there's a real possibility that it might. I have a hard time valuing money in an absolute sense, I'm much more relativistic about it. A dip into a robust stream might seem like nothing. The same dip in a smaller stream, or limited reservoir, is substantial and merits mindfulness. Granted it can be a trap, I'm trying to cultivate a view of the world through scarcity googles. In some regards that's literally true at the moment. I don't think it will be forever, but there are a lot of reasons the underpinnings of a scarcity mentality are advantageous. So far, for the first quarter this year my spending has averaged below a simple-minded SWR I maintain on my YMOYL-inspired "FI Graph", and running around half my more sophisticated SWR that takes external income into account. That's right where I want it to be as a retiree.

If I look below the restlessness regarding work, and obvious worries related to the pandemic, the pulse of contentment is growing stronger. I feel guilty about that, although not culpable. Seems sort of pathologic that such an inner response would rise from a vast backdrop fear and suffering. Neither of those things give me any satisfaction whatsoever. I guess it's just at a time when it's easy to get carried away in it all, I still feel connected to an inner anchor.

My turtle brain takes stock and notes that I could stretch my cash for 3-5 years of living expenses, and other stable value assets exceed projected future spending with good margin. So for now I'm in the SWAN zone, although my temperament is increasingly sensitive to having those resources taken from me, either from shifty government financial engineering, or the implosion of an over-engineered financial system. The cranky paranoid "Hey you kids get offa my lawn!" area of my brain is developing on schedule, ha. I don't have a ready solution for that risk. I don't see it as a driver, though. Hope I'm not being naive.

A cold front is beginning to make its way through my area. Each year there is a window, centered in April, when such a change in weather feels a lot like the ebb and flow of summertime up in the Northwoods. Checking on a neighbor's webcam, the lake is still frozen over, and the ice is somewhat peculiar-looking this year. When viewed through the cam late in the afternoon it appears a good foot deeper than it appears in the morning. I suspect it is an artifact of the light, like the low west sun makes it glow. In the time I've paid attention the ice-out dates have been clustered around tax day to tax day + 3. Not sure it's going to make it this year, but the open water should come before May. I think seeing it under blue skies will be cathartic. Going outside and taking a deep breath this morning despite the drizzly gloom is like getting a prescient echo of the Northwoods' scent from more than 1,100 miles away. And yes, my sense of small still works fine.

IlliniDave
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Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by IlliniDave »

When I sat down to do my last entry here I got sidetracked and never got around to the thoughts that got it all started.

The practice of social isolation (SI for short, below) is teaching me some things about myself that probably have application in the post-employment world.

Even as a fairly incorrigible introvert, SI is starting to wear me down. I still go into the office for three partial days each week, but for various reasons attendance is about 1/4 of normal, and most communication is via email or skype. On top of that I'm a live-alone bachelor so aside from the occasional phone call with family or waving at neighbors, it's just me and the dog. She's basically deaf and so when I talk to her, she doesn't even acknowledge it. Neither situation is too bad on its own, but add them together and it's starting to get to me.

My conclusion is that there must be some threshold level of relatively normal interaction that my sanity requires. Not too far above that threshold it comes the point of diminishing returns.

I've been trying to project the lesson forward. My time away at the cabin isn't too bad because I usually have enough contact with neighbors and such (and being we're kindred spirits, it's of better than average quality). I'll have to ease in to solo voyaging into the wilderness though, something I was planning to do anyway for different reasons. At my new official residence I'll have to be a little bit more mindful. There will be occasions to interact with family, especially my dad, but I'll need to find some other means to avoid over-isolation. Lots of options, just need to figure out the best ones. Best idea seems like trying to hook up with an angling club or maybe music hobbyists or something.

1taskaday
Posts: 438
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:45 am
Location: England

Re: Phase III - Deja Vu All Over Again

Post by 1taskaday »

I am finding this lock down really mentally tough as well.
I can't bear that all of the busy places that I chose to go to before for a bit of life and energy are now deserted.
My DH finds this hilarious as I'm such an introvert.
An example of how extreme I am about idle chattering is the fact that I wore earphones walking on the Camino for a week to deter people from talking to me!

But on the other hand I have this craving for when I fully retire to sell our house and move to a more central buzzy area...

I intuitively know what will be best for me as I age.

Another huge eye opener for me was the benefits to the self from chatting to strangers as discussed on a recent "Making Sense" podcast by Sam Harris on happiness or well being.

https://samharris.org/podcasts/196-science-happiness/

After listening to this it is obvious that humans need human contact to feel good about themselves.

I always felt so proud of myself that as an INTJ female I was not "needy" of gossip and company like other females ...how wrong I was.

If I want to age well I need to change my behaviour and get more socially active and chatty.

My first challenge is making small talk in queues...a thing I detest.(Naturally post Rona)
In the podcast it was discussed that even though this is abhorrent to introverts it makes them feel great afterwards for having made a connection with another human being.

I have so much to work on to achieve a happy retirement/aging which is my greatest priority.

I have the diet/excercise/muscle retention down pat...but seemingly social contacts are more important than all of these...

Who would have thought??

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