Avalok's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
candide
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by candide »

Great point. I've been turning this over in my mind some lately as well.

I think the test of true ERE intents, as opposed to just fixating on a FI number, has to do with the desire to internalize work that the household consumes.

I have seen multiple times in high earner/low Wheaton Level threads a line of thought that runs something like: x accounts for such a small percentage of what I make, so I just can't be motivated to do it. Corollary: or invest the time it takes to learn that skill (which I'll admit can be more of a booger).

The very marginal utility of it all makes sense from their perspective. Heck, if the hourly rate is high enough, then even the Your Money or Your Life argument gets harder to make. In these circumstances, the motivations might need to come from other places at first.

Semi-, dirtbag-, whatever-you-want-to-call-it-, ERE forces someone into a direct relationship with how much time doing something they don’t want to do (employment) it takes to pay for the item in question – a meal, the produce for a meal, a repair. Also, it frees up the time to allow for the skill acquisition such things take. Since they are running closer to pay-as-you-go the extra costs become clearer, as well as trade-offs with where money and labor can be directed. This creates closer contact with the web of goals than just watching net worth.

(I wrote this shortly after I posted my entry, but a storm came through, caused a power surge and blinkered the wifi. Arguments for resilience come up frequently, once someone is willing to look . . )

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

candide wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 7:48 am
I think the test of true ERE intents, as opposed to just fixating on a FI number, has to do with the desire to internalize work that the household consumes.
Spot on. It is interesting that you had been considering something so similar in your Origins journal. The FI number is a highly effective carrot, but I suppose, as you point out, it can reinforce the comparative advantage mindset.
candide wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 7:48 am
ERE forces someone into a direct relationship with how much time doing something they don’t want to do (employment) it takes to pay for the item in question – a meal, the produce for a meal, a repair.
There's certainly something to be said for this. I think many issues in the modern world come partly from a lack of clear cause(s)-and-effect(s). As one in-sources skills, they're simultaneously narrowing the visible cause-effect gap. Growing food is a great example. Since starting I have developed a deeper understanding of the dynamics required to grow even a small amount of edible produce. I better understand the combination of human effort, soil qualities, weather/climate and beneficial ecosystems (e.g. fewer pests and disease) that are prerequisite. Whereas before when picking up lettuce in the shop, I saw only the end product, now I see those inputs (or their fossil substitutes) and the precariousness of such a dynamic.

In fact, I would go as far to say that this eye-opening has been one of the greatest benefits of ERE for me thus far. Everything I have turned my hand to, from gardening to investing, bike repair to log-splitting, has endowed me with a greater appreciation of the world. I feel I understand more, and I enjoy that feeling, but I also feel I care more.

candide
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by candide »

avalok wrote:
Wed Jun 08, 2022 3:21 am
In fact, I would go as far to say that this eye-opening has been one of the greatest benefits of ERE for me thus far. Everything I have turned my hand to, from gardening to investing, bike repair to log-splitting, has endowed me with a greater appreciation of the world. I feel I understand more, and I enjoy that feeling, but I also feel I care more.
This profoundly moves me.

And I think it is a thread that ties so much together. . . And by that, I mean I had a moment of epiphany that formed a crystallization up there above my ability to articulate. I've been walking around the house, trying to find a way to put it into words.

I think this greatest benefit, this understanding-appreciation-caring that only comes when you are applying yourself to the task, not dealing with abstractions, is its own reward to some people -- as it is so rich, so compelling of a life experience. There is an analogy to how high-level drawing is described as learning how to see, and that in itself is so profound that it is worth doing in itself [1].

This ties together such a wide group of practitioners here, many of whom have expressed doubts as to whether they are practicing real ERE. I think it is an open question whether everyone in the population at large really has this in them. But that is not the point -- and that's what I see now -- if someone isn't on about this type of richness of experience, then maybe they will catch the bug some day, maybe they won't. But these forums are a coming together of many who have. This is our pura vida.

[1] There is a great scene in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that also comes to mind. He breaks through a girl's writer's block by forcing her to narrow and narrow until he is eventually asking her to look at the side of a building, the first brick, go from there. What this does is force to actually look, actually see. Here's a write-up I found of meh quality after a quick search:

https://www.thestrategyexchange.co.uk/2 ... igs-brick/

Even better is someone having copied the passage:

https://www.readthesequences.com/Original-Seeing

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

The past few months, perhaps coinciding with my return to journaling, have involved a shift in my view of principles and morals I hold. Since my late teens I have tried to live a life defined by principles, a practice I have found to be highly beneficial, if painfully inflexible(*). I haven't found this shift to be a regression to a state of being without principles, but towards a place where I can better investigate them, question them, and moderate them.

An example may help clarify. I used to think of myself as a vegetarian; it was part of my identity. Consider vegetarianism as a principle for me then; a reference point for action. Eating meat was off the cards and, at least in internal dialogue, animal husbandry was considered "bad". This of course brought animal products into question, so I have been vegan too. But this principle always acted on me, not the other way around. I could not pick it up to analyse, but could only analyse the world through it. In time, this attachment fell away, but the principle remained, only now I could put it to use. I'm still a vegetarian technically, but I no longer feel like one.

The above example happened at least over twelve months ago, and I wonder now whether it was the initial event in a series of similar occurrences. Once one assumption dissolves, it is much easier for others to follow. The whole process has been extremely liberating; I did not realise how tightly I viewed the world, I always considered myself a broadminded person, and I suppose this is only the start.

(*) This comes with the territory, though I have always doubted being resolutely principled because I also value flexibility.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

June flies by just like May, perhaps even faster.

I've been having another clear out this month; mainly going through stuff I knew we wanted to get rid of, but were yet to get round to. I've also taken the time to list several books I don't think I'll re-read, to help fund the purchase of others. I never enjoy the process of ebaying, or listing stuff online generally, but the feeling once the house feels that much clearer makes it worthwhile every time. We have slimmed down our possessions considerably since moving in two years ago, and I feel we'll be ready to tackle the dreaded loft soon. There isn't a lot up there, a lot of it is cardboard for no-dig beds, but it's mainly low-value stuff that I don't believe other people would want. Not exactly motivating, especially when the process ends with a trip to the tip.

I joined the committee for the allotment site last week. This will allow me better connection to those I share the site with, and to get involved in local "politics" somewhat, while avoiding party-centric political system. By politics I mean local policy influence. Doing this on the small scale of an allotment seemed like a good place to start. At least then I will see the effects of my actions sooner. The plot itself is doing really well. We have started to eat broad beans and broccoli, our lettuces continue to produce, and last night we had our first of the early potatoes. The rhubarb is finished for the year, and I want to mulch it heavily this winter in the hopes it will produce even more for us. I mistimed the runner bean sowings, so my attempt at three sisters failed before I could even plant the second crop. Next year I need to sow the runner beans much later, or keep the out of the polytunnel, lest they overtake the corn again. In the end, we have grown them up a bamboo structure, as standard.

Work has been intense over the last month. I have started re-implementation of a key component of the system I lead development on, where the complex nature of the requirements have meant the previous two attempts have fallen short. This third attempt has been my first taking the task up from the start, and so far my design seems to be paying off, but it is taking far longer than we estimated, mainly because of increased scope. I am enjoying the challenge; the days fly by, and it is pushing me to better consider effects of my work on a system-wide basis. That said, I think by the end of July I will be hankering for something easier to do.

This month I re-read Catton's Overshoot, and made my way through most of In Over Our Heads. I gained a far better understanding from reading Catton than the audio recording. Being able to see the figures presented helped immensely. I want to follow it up with Randers' 2052, but have started An Introduction to General Systems Thinking instead. Partially inspired by my work (see above), but also coming from reading Catton, I think it is wise that I get a better understanding of systems principles so I can better "read the news" as he says.

A cheap month means average savings continue to increase, though the increment is reduced now that the car sale is complete:
  • Total capital: £87,720.18
  • Average savings rate: 55.8%
  • Average savings rate TTM: 58.2%
  • SWR: 24.91%

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

July has been an extremely busy month. Work has taken a real toll on me, and I have been working too hard, unsustainably so. As such I haven't had chance to do anything near what I normally get done in a normal month, outside of work.

It's worth me pointing out that, for the most part, the tasks I am working on currently are extremely interesting. The requirements are complex and nuanced, meaning the solution needs to be highly adaptable, and therefore abstract. It has involved a lot of thinking by analogy. I have even been able to draw on tranches from structured finance :D. I wrote at the end of June that by end of July I'd be hankering for something easier to do; this is somewhat the case, but I also want to see this feature to completion at a high quality. I am feeling increasingly worn out, and despite having plenty left of the feature to achieve this month, I want to try and get some of the rest of my life back. I don't mind my work becoming like this, so long as it is temporary.

-----
On the allotment we have lifted all the potatoes now. I left the latest second earlies in until the heatwave we had in the middle of the month. I reasoned the potatoes would enjoy 38C even if I wouldn't. Unable to weigh them, as no suitable scales, but 4 5kg flour bags full. A healthy crop. Our broad beans were visited by the badger, so we harvested all the remaining pods in one go, blanched and froze them over two evenings: 6.6kgs in total; chuffed. We left the broken stalks to wilt on the ground for a few days, and had loads of concern from other plotholders that we'd lost the whole lot!

The sweetcorn and squash have finally started growing; we now have fruits appearing on the squashes, and the corn have their ears out. I planted them before a cold spell in June, and that knocked them back a bit. All our other curcubits (cucumbers, courgette) are suffering. The cucumbers got the mosaic virus again, though one seems to have gained a second wind, but the courgette fruits just rot before they get larger than a sausage. There is consolation in that we are now starting to get ripe tomatoes on a daily basis, with plenty more to come.

-----
I finally finished Kegan's In Over Our Heads this month: fantastic book, fascinating, took me ages to read: I kept finding myself staring into space as a paragraph had induced a realisation in me of some former time. I could do with re-reading it to digest it better, but have moved onto Randers' 2052 (had to park Weinberg, work being so intesnse) and Dune, the latter proving to be an effective way to shut my brain off from work. :) Reading is perhaps the area I have noticed has degraded the most this month. I miss having time (and mental capacity) to read each day and (crucially) feel like it is going in.

I will leave my update there for now, I intend to make time to come back on the forum again more often this month and write more about what I'm up to and thinking.

Total capital: £90,953.02
Average savings rate: 56.1%
Average savings rate TTM: 58.2%
SWR: 23.68%

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

Well, I had wanted to journal more this month, but that didn't end up happening: work got in the way again. The upside is that my efforts are beginning to pay dividends: yesterday a curveball requirement came up which we will easily be able to adapt to, something which was not the case with the previous implementation (in fact, it would have been near impossible without a rewrite). I'm also moving off this project at the end of the coming week to give me a rest, and see how the other members of the team cope (at present, I am pretty much keeping the project going smoothly alone). All this means that I expect I will have the energy to journal more again in September

I've been getting more involved as a committee member for the allotment. I have served on the panel to deal with a case of theft, and I am being asked to take on increasingly more Treasurer roles (I will take over from the existing Treasurer next year). Being on the team has proven a very quick way to get to know people on the site; we've been there for 1 1/2 years now, but had not met many other tenants. My original intention to join came from a desire to get involved politically on some level. I'm disillusioned by party politics, and would describe myself currently as politically homeless, as I do not fall into any one camp. I figured contributing to a local cause in some way would perhaps meet that, and so far it has. I just need to be careful of scope-creep, whereby the committee roles invade too much on the rest of my life (see my previous posts about work as an example of that).

I continued reading 2052 this month, at a very slow pace. As with journaling, I am expecting to have the energy outside of work to read more again in September.

Total capital: 93,642.72
Average savings rate: 56.5%
Average savings rate TTM: 58.8%
SWR: 22.79%

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

I've attempted making my own washing up liquid (dish soap) again. Previous attempts worked fine, but there would be a smeary residue left on anything cleaned. It was particularly clear on glasses. I followed this recipe initially, but have tried one using liquid castile soap this weekend. Someone mentioned that vinegar stops the smearing, so if the castile doesn't work (or I'm not happy with the added expense I'll try that next). DW is not a fan of the lack of bubbles 🙄, so I may need to look at adding something to get her on side.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

The above recipe revised recipe works well, though I didn't have any glycerine so it is very watery. The main thing is it leaves no residue. Next I just need to establish if I can achieve this with soap flakes instead of castile soap.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

I've been thinking of ways to save more energy this winter, given Europeans are heavily exposed to the gas markets, so we have bought a used Instant Pot. We have had a hob-based pressure cooker since last winter, which was a revelation; previously I have used a towel cooker to save fuel, but the time savings with the pressure cooker meant I stopped using the towels. I wanted to get a larger cooker for this winter in order to make stews that would serve 2+ meals for us, and to be able to pressure cook perhaps all parts of a meal.

Then I was told about air fryers. I generally have a deep seated suspicion of kitchen gadgets (as well as gadgets in general). I am very protective of my worktop space, and anything electrical is a irreparable black box of magic to me, so air fryers sounded like the latest money sink to put in your kitchen. It didn't help that I first heard of them on the recommendation of a family member who has a new gizmo to recommend every time we see him. Any claims of efficiency savings also make me suspicious because of Jevons. I thought (in fact, I still do think) the name was stupid too.

This was until I saw recommendations for the Instant Pot in a place where I respect the opinions. It was reading that thread, and doing further research around how they work that turned me around. I am still highly suspicious of this kind of product: the all-in-one (generally means, does lots but not very well), but figured the holding cost to try one out and see if it works for us would be minimal. Buying used, someone else has taken most of the depreciation. I plan to start making yoghurt in it this week, and using it to dehydrate our tomatoes, and roast the beetroot we are pulling up now. I plan to report back on what I think.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

I tried making yoghurt in the Instant Pot overnight, but found it was still quite runny in the morning, so left it incubating for another four hours. Alas, this had no effect. I've made yoghurt, but it runs, and I want yoghurt to be quite thick. I need to look at why this has happened and try another batch.

jacob
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by jacob »

avalok wrote:
Sat Sep 03, 2022 4:03 am
I've been thinking of ways to save more energy this winter, given Europeans are heavily exposed to the gas markets, so we have bought a used Instant Pot.
[...]
Similar to how a "buy nothing year" creates a reset in personal behavior, try a "no heating year" while the going is still good.

chenda
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by chenda »

jacob wrote:
Mon Sep 05, 2022 3:32 pm
Similar to how a "buy nothing year" creates a reset in personal behavior, try a "no heating year" while the going is still good.
That's what I'm planning to do. No heating till next April.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

We have damp in the front room of our house, so I have to be careful how low the temperature falls. I worked carefully last year to get through the winter with the wall continuing to dry. I believe below 12°C the moisture in the air begins to condense on existing damp patches, exacerbating the issue.

That said, I plan to have the boiler (furnace) running as little as possible, enough to keep that room dry. We spent the late winter this year processing firewood, collected locally, for use in our stove, that will help. I am thinking of going back into the office to avoid the need to run anything off our bills during the day. I love the time savings of WFH, but the quoted prices for the winter are a game changer. I think we'll do all the above even if the Govt bail us out; we'll be paying 54% more than last year, but we've had since April to forget what it used to be like.
Last edited by avalok on Mon Sep 05, 2022 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

chenda
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by chenda »

avalok wrote:
Mon Sep 05, 2022 4:14 pm
Yes you want to be careful if you have damp. Remember you can claim tax relief for WFH. (Edit: Actually I don't think you now can if you are voluntarily WFH, it was a covid thing which has been removed.)

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

Yeah, we claimed the relief for as long as you could, though it amounted to less than £200/yr, which wouldn't cover a month of energy use after the forecasted January price cap rise. Even if it was still offered, I'd be better off going to the office. But then again, who knows? Perhaps the offices won't be open, rates aren't capped for businesses.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

Well the second batch of yoghurt turned out with no change. I read that using older milk can prevent healthy colonisation, but this was as runny as the last. I think next I'll be trying a different yoghurt as a starter culture, though I am genuinely surprised as the starter I have used is from a good quality organic brand with live cultures.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

Despite being (temporarily) moved off the main project I lead at work, I'm still finding work too absorbing. I have never had this issue before; always been able to shut the lid at 5pm and do other things with my life. I'm struggling to tell if I care too much, or I am just going through a learning phase where new responsibilities are overloading my brain. If the latter, that should subside at some point. Regardless, I think I need to develop better ways to detach myself from work outside of those hours.

avalok
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by avalok »

My Grandad passed away today, after a brave fight with cancer. He deteriorated quickly towards the end, which I am relieved by, as he didn't have to suffer for long. He had been in serious pain the past week.

I have always said he was a complex character: he made decisions in his life that some have questioned. I think he was just a self-directed individual; he knew what he wanted from life. Much of his outlook I look up to, and melds with the philosophy here. Until his illness prevented it, he was an active mind and body: as an engineer, he was solving problems around his house even this year. When I saw him last month, his mind was as sharp as ever, even though his body could no longer serve him. He was able to offer thoughts on the Taiwan crisis and the post-COVID economy that were well argued. A rational man until the end.

I am proud that he was my Grandad. I'm not sure he would have thought it, I hadn't until I began writing this, but he was, a real renaissance man.
Last edited by avalok on Tue Sep 27, 2022 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

blink2ce
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Re: Avalok's Journal

Post by blink2ce »

Thanks for sharing Avalok. It sounds like he was a great man.

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