Veronica's Journal of Madness

Where are you and where are you going?
Veronica
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2023 12:04 pm

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 5: Growing Pains
Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (7.3/100) -0.7
Bodyweight Target: 118 (163) -2
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently zero income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (68bpm) +2

I know I just posted updates only a couple days ago, so progress numbers are basically static.
Got into a rather unique gig; AI labeling and training. Unsure what this looks like in practice, but billing rate is 50/hr.

I've been fiddling with my own LLMs for a few years, and been an avid daily user of them for about a year now. Turns out, this coupled with my rather unique background got me invited to help work on creating new ones. Specifically, ones tailored to life sciences inquiries and workflows.
The work would be extremely flexible, billed to the client hourly, and paid out weekly.
Training AI models is an UNGODLY TEDIOUS TASK, but the end results are often worth it as long as you are diligent in your approach, and patient enough to stick it out until the end when it begins to outperform you. And hey, you just never know what could come next and it's always exciting to stretch and try to delve into something new.

Veronica
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2023 12:04 pm

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 6: New Trails?
Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (6.7/100) -0.6
Bodyweight Target: 118 (166) +3
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently zero income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (66bpm) -2

---Emacs---
With so much free time on my hands, I've finally started dabbling into emacs... the other side of the proverbial editor wars of vim vs emacs.
And I've got to say... I'm sort of amazed that I never really looked into it until now. It's so extensible. I can build it to work exactly how I want it. I can even run evil mode, so I don't have to throw away all of my hard-won habits ^_^

A strange side benefit (to me at least), is that it can be installed and run with decent performance as a portable application even on windows. So I could continue using my environment even on locked down hardware that I might be provided by an employer. And it's so lightweight, that I can see myself finally becoming free of the frustrations of being provided a system that isn't powerful enough.

I still don't really understand tramp mode, but I have found I can just connect to external servers by writing commands that just launch an ssh session from windows default shell, cmd.exe It's delightful for a nerd like me. I'm already salivating at the possibilities.
Not evangelizing, but I really think that for me this might become a cornerstone of my future workflow system.

---Job Search---
No offers in hand. One paying side gig to keep lights on. It's interesting to me, but metrics driven. Very mentally taxing and hard to keep at for extended periods and maintain quality.
Many initial screening calls and expressions of interest. Some scientist positions, a few software implementation gigs at pharmceutical companies/manufacturers. One is a software related position at an extremely prestigious medical school. Could be fantastic on its own, or even a good launching off point for something greater.

--- Minimalism ---
Starting to have more thoughts about just selling everything and starting over from scratch in life. Realize this is dumb, but has a certain attractive quality. Sort of realized that I really only have 2-3 more things that I want to own physically, and the rest I can just sort of rent or use as required by visiting someone who has them.

I like having dual monitors for example.
But I can just have a laptop and a little secondary monitor I can plug into it. I don't need a whole desktop system with dual monitors just sitting there. Besides, if I work outside the home, that means it sits idle and unused the majority of it's working life (8 hours asleep, 8 hours at work, additional hours running chores, etc. That means my desktop is idle 70% of its entire working lifetime?)

When I started to think about utilization rates, my perspective really changed. A vast majority of the things I own suffer from this.
I don't think the answer is as simple as "only buy things you will use constantly" (because buying and selling a winter coat every year because you don't need it constantly anymore seems foolish), but it's an interesting metric.

delay
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Location: Netherlands, EU

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by delay »

Thanks for sharing! I've been thinking about ditching my two monitor desktop. I have not used it for several months.

How are you learning emacs?

Veronica
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2023 12:04 pm

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

delay wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2023 4:49 am
Thanks for sharing! I've been thinking about ditching my two monitor desktop. I have not used it for several months.

How are you learning emacs?
I've found the following resources helpful.

Official Manuals: https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/
System Crafters Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@SystemCrafters (Has extensive multi hour presentations on topics of interest in emacs)

Additionally, it turns out you can acceptable elisp out of chatgpt. Doesn't always work out of the box and takes a little trial and error adjusting, but you can easily spit out a reasonable starting template for most tasks in a few minutes of adjustments.

DutchGirl
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Location: The Netherlands

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by DutchGirl »

As for the job search, tough to make a good choice perhaps with so many options, but hopefully something good comes your way. Probably already several of the currently offered options are good and can lead to more good things.

For the dual monitors... I'm sure a monitor that is on "only" 20 hours per week lives longer than a monitor that is on 50 or more hours per week? True, maybe after 10 or 15 years even an unused monitor stops working due to deterioration of its plastic components and collected dust etc, but as I said, I think a monitor that is off ages less fast. So maybe that helps.

My guy has solved the dual monitor conundrum by just buying one extra-wide monitor, ha ha.

Veronica
Posts: 63
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 7: Paring things down
Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (8.3/100) +1.6
Bodyweight Target: 118 (162) -4
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently negligible income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (66bpm) +0

--Job Search--
My retirement accounts have been distributed to my regular bank account, so that helps ease my mind a lot. Now I'm super liquid, and can go many months without having to think about liquidity. Also, got my first check from unemployment. Only one week though, so I'm working through how to get paid for past weeks; appeal in process.

Job search has been ... uneventful? Most positions have gone through a screening call which was never advanced and I was ghosted completely from there. Today, a recruiter failed to show up for our scheduled screening call; this one particularly infuriated me, since it was 15 minutes in duration and was scheduled over a week ago. Most others I talk to don't seem to find this strange, but I can't help but think that anyone that doesn't have 15 minutes available for over a week is simply grossly incompetent (especially when recruiting is their JOB; sorry, this one really set me off).

The most promising job opening I have invited me to a series of 6 technical interviews. I completed them all about a week ago but haven't heard anything back. This one I'm a bit more understanding of; any job that would ask me to sit through (and their staff to conduct) that many hours of interviews is not likely to ghost a candidate completely. There's just too much investment there. But I do think that anything over a month of no contact and I will safely assume the job is dead.

--Minimalism--
I've gotten rid of a lot of my books. While I initially thought about selling them via something like amazon fba, the fees made doing so an almost moot exercise. Instead I've been taking a milkcrate at a time to the local library and just donating outright. Ive gotten receipts, but I don't think the value is enough to make itemizing deductions worth it. I'm also working digitizing a lot of my old notebooks and paper notes.

I have kept a few books that I'm either not quite done with, or think have some enduring value.
Bookshelf currently contains

Physical Chemistry by Simon and Mcquarrie
Finding Number 1 Stocks by Kevin Matras (Zacks Research)
Principles: Your Guided Journal by Ray Dalio (HIGHLY RECOMMEND TO OTHERS)
Organic Chemistry: Arrow Pushing Method
Roberts Rules of Order
Computational Chemistry - Theories and Practice
Hacking: The Art of Exploitation
Principles of Instrumental Analysis
The Joy of Cooking

--Dumb Ideas Section --

Occasionally I get silly ideas that interest me, but are impractical to start for various reasons. Money, space, time etc.
Had the idea of a self sustaining cardio gym/desk where your efforts charge a battery pack that can charge the rest of your electronics.
Did some quick math and think it COULD be workable, as long as you are deliberate about shutting things down when not in use and have a baseline level of fitness.
For example, I can put out 50-60 watts on an exercise bike at a pace that is comfortable for 8+ hours. I could easily sustain this throughout an entire workday. That would generate 3-400 watt hours? And my laptop has a 85Wh battery capacity. If my math is right, I could easily power my laptop, screens and a smartphone off just my gym efforts at a light, sustainable pace.
Obviously, fun is out the window with such a setup. But conceivably, you could just put this bike (and charging stack; generator connected to flywheel, battery bank, wiring and USB-connectors, etc) inside of something like a storage unit, and simply pedal at a light pace while you work remotely. And everything charges while you're there. I'm not going to get rid of everything and pedal for 8 hours a day in a storage unit... but it's a surprisingly workable idea on paper. The only real issues are having to schedule time to go to laundromats, unfriendliness to having people come visit/pets and of course... the rules against people living in storage units.

Smashter
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Location: Midwest USA

Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Smashter »

Veronica wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2023 12:55 pm
The only real issues are having to schedule time to go to laundromats, unfriendliness to having people come visit/pets and of course... the rules against people living in storage units.
We've had people here living in tents, vans, and the literal office of their employer. You got this :D

Getting ghosted during interviews stinks, sorry you're going through that. Once, as part of a multi round interview, I was asked to complete a full on sales presentation which I had to record and send to them. I tried really hard, must have re-recorded 20 times. They never got back to me, not even to say "thanks but you're not a fit." And this was a company that was an industry leader and a media darling. Lame.

On to the next one, you'll find something great!

NewBlood
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by NewBlood »

Veronica wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2023 12:55 pm
Had the idea of a self sustaining cardio gym/desk where your efforts charge a battery pack that can charge the rest of your electronics.
You might want to check out low-tech magazine:
https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2022/ ... generator/

He also expands on his set up in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MYqRvm7vX4

Veronica
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Smashter wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2023 2:56 pm
Once, as part of a multi round interview, I was asked to complete a full on sales presentation which I had to record and send to them. I tried really hard, must have re-recorded 20 times. They never got back to me, not even to say "thanks but you're not a fit." And this was a company that was an industry leader and a media darling. Lame.
Wow, this is indeed lame. Part of me wishes we could outlaw this kind of unpaid work practice (or get paid some token compensation for interview "projects"). Especially because, in my experience, these are often poached and reworked internally to pitch to clients or even develop totally new product lines, often without the candidates knowledge. Big techs (especially facebook) was particularly bad about this practice.

Of course, on the other side of the coin, I can't really blame them for adding in project work as part of an interview practice. We live in age where degree and certification inflation has run so rampant that it's hard to actually assess a candidates skill level from formal education alone.
I've had no shortage of conversations with friends responsible for hiring or interviewing software engineers, and the disturbing lack of programming chops among CS graduates is an ever increasing trend. They actually now prefer to interview people with other STEM backgrounds who claim programming knowledge rather than CS grads, because they don't view that degree has having much inherent value anymore.

Veronica
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 8: The call to adventure
Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (-2.6/100) -10.9
Bodyweight Target: 118 (168) +6 (Not sure how accurate, because different scale. Will update when back at regular measuring spot)
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently negligible income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (68bpm) +2


-Net Worth and Money-
Unfortunately, when it rains it pours. Car issues. Feels kind of bad to see net worth be a negative number, but I know this is a temporary condition.
And hopefully this means I won't have to worry about transport for a while. I'm extremely disheartened, because this is never where I thought I would be at this age (31).

Later on, I may talk more about how investments factor in. I use a ton of leverage and high risk appetite, so dramatic swings like this have happened a few times. My backtesting still convinces me this is a good strategy, but it doesn't make the physical experience of drawdowns any easier. I'm hopeful I can adjust my parameters to achieve a smoother return profile with time, but everything I've found requires a level of capital I do not have.

--Job Search--
I have been tentatively offered a job, pending references. Remote, though it has a stipulation it must be "remote from certain states".
Started to make a shortlist for apartment showings, but hesitant because... the job hasn't actually given me a salary range yet.
This makes me really nervous, especially with the sunk cost of how many interviews I've gone through (6 total).
I still have some hope that it's because "salary won't be an issue", because it's an instantly recognizable employer. Only time will tell.
It will also require me to fly cross country 2-3 times per year. I'm actually not super bothered by this prospect, and kind of enjoy the idea.

Money concerns aside, this job would offer me an unparalleled chance to network and gain skills. If it all works out, it could be just the stepping stone I've been angling for.

--Minimalism--
I put in a pre-order for a framework 16 laptop.
I LOVE the idea of a fully upgradable, reconfigurable, and owner-fixable laptop. I'm willing to put what little money I have where my mouth is to support such a product.
Talking to a close friend about it, we concluded that calling this a "frugal" purchase is probably the wrong word. But buying quality that isn't designed to be thrown away via planned obsolesence is probably worth it.

--Boredom--
I like to make the joke that "only boring people get bored", but it's hitting me a bit at the moment.
I no longer have a TV or entertainment subscriptions, or social media of any significant value (just a linkedIn, which was instrumental in landing this current role).

I KNOW that everything I am doing is contributing to my goals. But most of them are "algorithmically prescribed".
In many ways, I'm following a "recipe for success" rather than my own agency. My MBTI is INFJ, and for those that value this profiling tool, it means I'm operating in a way which is somewhat contrary to my innate nature.

I suppose what I'm saying is, growth feels boring and slow. Perhaps that's a good thing. Does anybody else struggle with this feeling of ennui?

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fiby41
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by fiby41 »

Just looked up the frame.work website and their products look amazing although unavailable in my country.

Had signed up for getting refurbished laptops at work but few people else were interested so the plan was scrapped.

Veronica
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 9: Journey Prep

Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (-1.6/100) +1
Bodyweight Target: 118 (164)
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently negligible income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (70bpm) +2

--Money--

Investments are starting to turn around in a modest way; still carrying significant unrealized losses, but at least progress is being made.
In preparation for an offer letter, began searching apartments. Found out that I am not allowed to break my current apartment lease, and have to pay for the full term of the lease regardless. I can surrender the keys and move out, but the landlord is under no obligation to release me.
This should be illegal.
I'm feeling a little bit of stress, because this means I may have to pay thousands of dollars in rent for an empty room for months on end.

--Job Search--
Verbal offer, but nothing in writing. I'm a bit stressed because it's been over 2 weeks since they said an offer letter was coming, but they reassured me this is not an atypical experience since they have to go back and forth with HR to do so.
Anyone else have an experience like this? I've almost never had to wait more than a week once I reach the offer letter stage, but curious about others experiences.

--Education--

Was talking a bit to my parents lately about the job search experience; told them I'm generally not super worried because I'm open to doing many types of roles and I have what I think are rather specialized and valuable skills. Was rather disheartened to hear my dad say "I think your degree is part of the reason you aren't having any luck on the job market". I have a masters degree in chemistry, which I've used in a variety of roles within the pharmaceutical industry. He says I should go back to school and learn to be a high school teacher. I just said "I'll look into it" before I completely dismissed him as being out of touch.
I would be open to learning a different trade, and am constantly on the prowl to acquire new skills. But if it's some kind of rote silliness (like a 1 year program for an ABD chemistry PhD to be qualified to teach middle school physical sciences...), I detest it with a passion.

Moreover, this experience of having my family tell me that my degree was worthless is an especially hard blow. I basically did nothing but work throughout my entire 20s, and gave up on a lot of the typical experiences of that age group to get to where I am today. I'm quite pleased and proud of who I've become. And to have him suggest that being a middle school science teacher would have been a better path feels kind of insulting. But perhaps he is right and there is some truth in it that I'm just failing to see.

-- Typical Routine --

Lately I'm just waking up, doing some zone 2 cardio until I feel alert, and then alternating household chores with reading and listening to podcasts.
I've got a few programming ideas written down that I have always wanted to tackle, but got too distracted with life to tackle. Going to be going after these more aggressively over the next few weeks, mostly out of SHEER BOREDOM and needing to feel useful in some capacity.

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Chris
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Chris »

Veronica wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2023 7:35 pm
Was rather disheartened to hear my dad say "I think your degree is part of the reason you aren't having any luck on the job market". I have a masters degree in chemistry, which I've used in a variety of roles within the pharmaceutical industry. He says I should go back to school and learn to be a high school teacher. I just said "I'll look into it" before I completely dismissed him as being out of touch.
Your dad's trying to be helpful, but your "out of touch" assessment is probably correct.

If you're working in private industry, the purpose of a degree is to get you your first job. That's it. After that, your work history is how you get successive gigs. Especially in tech, where the work is pretty practical: prove you can do the work, and the job's yours. There are plenty of non-CS degreed people working in tech, including people without any degree at all.

Rags2Freedom
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Rags2Freedom »

Veronica , understandable to be a little stressed at this moment (although I don’t wish it on anyone) given the uncertainty of work.

I recently took a 19 month “semi retirement” and found returning to work a struggle. Recruiters are difficult at times and the process for hiring in certain companies is complex and frustrating but I do find it some what of a numbers game / right time right place. The more you approach (though recruiters and directly) the more chance you’ll find that suitable position or company that works both ways.

I suspect you’ve already contacted all your previous network of people ? Following that I’ve found reaching out to Senior staff directly on LinkedIn beneficial, either by offering advice , potential openings or great recruiters streamlined to their business.

Hopeful you’ll get good news soon, keep strong and never give up.

Smashter
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Smashter »

I hope I'm wrong, but two weeks from verbal offer to official offer is quite long in my experience. I don't think it would hurt you any to follow up and politely ask what's going on.

Are you going to try to negotiate the contract terms at all? That could be another couple weeks to factor into your timeline if so (it could be faster, just saying that based on how slow they've been so far.)

As for the parents giving annoying and unwittingly offensive career advice, I feel you on that! Like @Chris said, I just try to see it as there way of trying to help. There out of touchness and lack of sharing my values is so clear that it's easy for me to not dwell on it.

shaz
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by shaz »

More than once I've had the offer letter take a month after I was told it was coming.

Veronica
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Veronica »

Entry 10: A Flower Blooms in the Dead of Winter

Current Goals (progress):
100k in Net Worth (-3.6/100) -2
Bodyweight Target: 118 (168)
Target Savings Rate: 78% (0%) Not saving; currently negligible income.
Target Resting Heart Rate: 40bpm (64bpm) -6

--Job Search--
Offer letter received! And it is MUCH more generous than expected. Honestly, I'm nervous that I don't actually deserve it.
But I do think that with some hard work and focus, I can live up to expectations. And the monetary amount should be able to rapidly
catapult me towards some progress on my financial goals which has been sorely lacking.

The job is best summarized as "scientific IT". Employer is based on east coast, but actually wants me to operate out of the midwest remotely.
I will also have to travel semi regularly (3-4 times per year) to HQ on the coast, and occasional regional travel, all of which will be reimbursed.

The offer letter took a month, but after understanding the salary and expectations surrounding the role I am somewhat more understanding. Total start to finish process of interview to offer letter was 2 months. Start date is early next year.

--Housing--
I am now on the search for new housing arrangements. For legal reasons, even though job is remote, I can only work remotely from certain states where the employer is registered to do business. My current state is not one of them unfortunately.

I found a town that has a charm to it that I like, and I have been to many times before. They are offering a cash incentive program for people that move there to work remotely, bringing their jobs with them. I'm starting my search there because of this nice little bonus!
Quality rentals online seem to be in short supply and expensive, but it's possible I'm missing ones that aren't advertised online. Perhaps a visit is in order.

I'm torn between rent vs buy because this city is heavily purchase-favored. I can buy a 4 bedroom home in a nice neighborhood for roughly what I currently pay in rent. But my finances are not at all where I want them to be, so I'm hesitant. My income is going to be great, and I'm not encumbered by tons of debt like many others my age, but it still seems wrong to commit to a large purchase when net worth is negative. Isn't that how 2007 happened? I do think that rental is probably the better option from a strictly financial standpoint, but if I do indeed qualify for a home, spend less than I'm qualified for, and it offers unique opportunities that rental doesn't (I really want to start a garden, or have extra space for friends and family to visit, or one of my favorites: having trick or treaters come visit!), maybe it's worth the cost.


-- Health --

I'm amazed how my heart rate has dropped once I had an offer letter in hand despite beneficial exercise habits and improved diet.
Stress truly is the silent killer. I also got this little $10 grip trainer that I've been using lately, and I really like it. Basically a souped-up version of a stress ball. Been keeping it beside me on the desk and squeezing it for a couple minutes every few hours. There are worse addictions. And I never have to ask for help opening the pickle jar anymore, so... It's a big win.

frugaldoc
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by frugaldoc »

Congratulations on the job offer! That seems exciting. I would get over not feeling worthy of the amount you are being paid. You have read Cal Newport's works so know that expanding career capital can lead to large rewards. Perhaps your career capital has reached that point.

As for the rent vs buy decision, from a financial standpoint I would compare the non-recoverable costs of renting vs buying rather than comparing what your rent would be vs what your mortgage might be. However there are non-financial considerations (e.g. a garden) that could sway the decision.

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Chris
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Chris »

'grats on the offer coming in. Now it's time to decide what your counteroffer is going to be :)

Re: housing, it's nice that you have a viable location that you're familiar with. Have you compared the rental market in Incentiveville to other similar towns in nearby states? I wonder if the higher rents cancel out the cash incentive they offer. Not saying you shouldn't move there, just curious about the local economics of it.

In general, rental availability tends to increase in the spring. People hate moving in the winter, so more leases tend to expire in the warmer months.

Smashter
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Re: Veronica's Journal of Madness

Post by Smashter »

So glad I was wrong and that you got the offer! Congrats. Moves and new jobs can both be exciting and energizing, you’ve got a fun one-two punch ahead of you

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