Will's journal

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

Post by Will » Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:32 am

Gravy Train wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:03 pm
FWIW, I suffered from panic attacks for years, especially during turbulent times (which it sounds like you're going through, with a new baby and changes at work and a sickness). For me there were tells when a panic attack was coming - a pressure in my chest, a numbing/tingling of my face, labored breathing. I only got a handle on them after going to therapy and eliminating known stressors from my life. I second Jennypenny's advice about meditation. At least for me, I was particularly susceptible to attacks when I felt completely out of control of my life, and meditation could probably help with that. If you have the time and money, I found therapy really helpful, too.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.
Thanks Gravy Train! After my initial panic attack and the initial blowback, I have had no single other occasion where I felt remotely like it. I will look for the telling signs when I'm feeling stressed, but at the moment I think I just let it be for now, with sports as my emergency remedy if it happens again.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:07 am

January 2019

January was a very eventful month for me - not all of the events were positive though. if every month would be like this one I would get crazy after half a year, so without further ado let's get started.

Our cat died. He was sleeping over at the parents of my girlfriend for some weeks when he suddenly became very ill. The vet discovered a huge tumor in his belly, inoperable and he was likely in a lot of pain. So we had to put him down. We were very sad for some time, but he was already of advanced age (14) and had a good life. The mother of my girlfriend let us spend 220 euro to cremate him, which I found ridiculous since burying him in a garden would be just as nice in my opinion. But she took care of him for a few weeks and was really sad about it as well, so I haven't complained, though we would have done it differently when he would have died at our place. I always wanted to (illegally) bury him in front of a lion statue in a public park, but i guess I can also save some of his ashes for that. Anyway, we miss him a lot.

Wrist surgery
I received a titanium screw through a bone in my wrist last Friday. The surgery was very impressive, I was awake during the process and even got the chance to take a glance at my own bone and the hole in it, which the surgeon drilled for the screw. The recovery process is brutal though. I will not be able to use my left hand at all for 3 - 8 weeks, depending on my recovery. My whole life is in disarray because of it: feeding the baby, changing diapers, driving a car or biking are not possible anymore at all, typing is a whole lot more difficult with one hand. So my life will be a lot more difficult during the coming weeks.

During the Christmas holidays, I applied for another job. Basically it's the same type of IT job which I'm currently doing, but for a different company. Yesterday they called me to announce that they will make an offer for me. I'm not unhappy at my current job, but I could use some challenge. An increased salary would be a nice benefit. But in any case, it will not be an easy choice for me. I will prepare a list of pros and cons and base my decision on that, provided the salary increase is sufficient (of which I'm not sure, but I'm prepared to negotiate well). I might even tell my current employer that I received an offer, they might offer me a higher salary. I just don't want to damage our relationship unnecessarily. I'm not quite sure how to navigate this situation, but I'll do some research about it. This will likely be the most significant target for me during the coming week(s): deciding which job I'm going to take.

Side jobs
My bicycle riding for Deliveroo was going very well, and I like it a lot! This is certainly a side job I see myself doing during retirement. But, due to the wrist surgery, I temporarily quit. Can't wait to start again though. I even had an interview at another bike delivery company, but I told them I would get back to them as soon as I know when my wrist will be recovered.
Still sometimes writing an article for Seekingalpha though I do not feel like it at the moment, when typing is 2-3 times slower than when using both hands.

My net worth increased to almost 160K thanks to the (sucker?) rally in the stock markets. I poured quite some money into the markets at the beginning of this year since I had (and still have) too much cash lying around, not yielding anything.
My savings rate was 69% for January, which was mostly thanks to our rent now being processed at the 1st of the month (but the rent for January we already paid in December). Including February rent the savings rate would be 57%, still ok since my target is 50% this year, though I hope for better.
I introduced a new metric into my financial sheet: % of expenses covered by non-paycheck income. This metric measures the percentage of my expenses which I would be able to cover without my main job. I'm counting cash flow of side jobs, dividends (but no share price increases) and other non-main job income here. If this metric is sustainably above the 100%, I would be able to retire from my main job regardless of net worth. Of course, I would need to keep all my side jobs for that, but if I can do those with a job which takes up 4 full days a week I will certainly be able to do that with almost unlimited free time. I could even choose to speculate that I would make MORE money with my side jobs after retiring from my main job. I will see how this metric develops in the future, for this year I'm aiming at covering at least 40% of my expenses with side income. My side jobs will be basically dead until my wrist has fully recovered.

Typing with one hand is tiring, so I'll end it here. If somebody has advice about the job situation, please feel free to provide your take on it.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:22 am

Received the job offer. It's better than what I'm currently earning, but mainly because I could get a full time pay (36 hours) when working 4 days, while I get 80% (32 hours) currently. However, the hourly rate is not much better than with my current employer. Thinking about it, I would probably be able to convince my current boss to let me work for 9 hours per day relatively easily.

On the other hand, I realized that I'm really a bit tired of my current job. It is amazingly low stress and not too difficult, but after 3 years I would prefer to do something else, even if it might be more difficult and stressful. If it proves to be too bad I can always quit. The new job is likely to be much more meaningful as well.

So basically, I concluded that I will take the new job if they offer me more salary. Staying where I am currently is fine as well, so I have a magnificent position to negotiate from. I listened to the audio version of this book recently, which I would recommend to anyone, so I feel I'm prepared for it:https://www.amazon.com/Never-Split-Diff ... 0062407805


Some unstructured thoughts: when talking with my girlfriend yesterday evening I realized that, paradoxically, not wanting to care about money at all in the future (hence ERE) makes me care much more about it in the present. In my mind, I'm cautiously moving forward my RE date all the time. I will likely never retire, but I want to have the time to pursue project which are not easy to pay for a living. I want to build a house once in my life from the ground up, and also sustainability projects or permaculture/hydroponics are dreams I want to achieve, and maybe even politics to get the ERE principles more mainstream. Oh and I more or less told my girlfriend that if we get another child, I want to be able to quit my day job from that moment on. My GF mentioned that she likes her job much less than before her pregnancy leave, and I predict that in a year's time, she will also want to join me with ERE.
My dream-RE date would be the 1st of April 2022, though this will require me to continue to do multiple side jobs since according to my projections my SWR will not be lower than 5% by then. In my opinion a 5% SWR is safer in the Netherlands than in countries like the US, since the risk of a sudden large expense is lower (regulated healthcare, social security system, etc).

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Bankai » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:09 am

Changing jobs also means loosing all your political capital you've accumulated over those 3 years. Not sure how relevant it is, i.e. how much you can leverage it to get pay rise or promotion with your current employer?

I agree with 5% wr being safer in Europe due to (mostly) nationalised health care as well as decent state pension schemes. Although on the other hand us stock market historically performed better than european ones, so its probably a wash.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:23 am

Bankai wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:09 am
Good point about the political capital at my job: it's a bit of a special situation. Since my department (8 people) was sold to a different (overseas) company, I have a very close working relationship with my colleagues in my department, but know basically nothing about anyone else inside the new company.
The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to choose for the new job offer, it's simply time for something new. Also, the new job is in a sector (public transport) with which I have much more affinity. Yesterday they raised their offer, to just below the target I defined for myself. But I would reach my target salary in January 2020.

With regard to SWRs: I think 5% should never be considered a 'safe' SWR for any retirement, since its failure rate is above 25%. But I am certainly not planning to quit money-generating activities altogether. The bigger 'problem' in the Netherlands is that the money which we invest in our pension system is basically untouchable until you're of age, in my case this will likely be around 70 (or earlier depending on the pension fund). This means that having enough money after the age of 70 will likely not be any problem, I only have to reach that age without going broke. This is another reason why I feel it's justified to have a more aggressive SWR.
The most likely outcome of this whole situation is that my portfolio will have grown when I'm 70 and that I have no additional use at all for the pension income. This is why I do not care about my pension much.

And I thing you're right that historically the US stock market performed better than the European, this is another reason why I try to spread my own investments: I have about 50% in US companies. Then again, most companies I invest in operate internationally so there is some spread here anyway.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:20 am

I took the job! Will still have some time at my current one, the switch is going to happen in June. I'm not 100% sure it will be an improvement with regard to happiness and stress levels, but sometimes you need to take a bit of risk. The worst that can happen is that I don't like the new job at all, in which case I can always switch again. At least the job pays a bit better than my current one.
My boss and colleagues at my current job all reacted quite normal, which makes me a bit sad to leave since most of them are truly nice people.

My wrist is recovering nicely, I can already do almost all movements relatively well with the protection of a brace. Even changing the diapers of our baby is already going ok. As a result of my recovery process I had zero side job income during February. This will be better in March, I can already ride my bike and will start doing some delivery work next week. I also have some ideas for writing articles, hope I can muster some inspiration (and time!) to do the writing.

Financially, February was an ok month. We booked a rental car for our holiday in the US next May, so that ate into our budget. Savings rate of 45%, I hope this will be at the low end of monthly savings rates this year, but with zero side job income and a large expense it should be. As for my new financial metric, the percentage of expenses covered by non-paycheck income, this was an abysmal 15% in February. The reason that it's not zero is that I'm also counting dividends from investments as non-paycheck income. March will be much better since I will be able to do some side jobs again and March is traditionally the month when I will receive a whole lot of dividends. If this metric reaches 100%, I can retire from my main job without any doubt as long as I keep the side hustles. Thing is, I can likely retire earlier than this, since when this metric only counts dividends, which are only part of the investment returns. Let's call it the ECNPI - expenses covered by non-paycheck income.
Here a quick depiction of what will be the two most important metrics for me this year:


2019 target for the savings rate is 50%, the ECNPI should be 40% over the whole year. I assume the target I set for the savings rate is too low, I might adjust it to 55% or even 60% depending on the next couple of months.
The 40% target for ECNPI is challenging, but it gives me a sense of empowerment, since it is much easier to influence than our savings rate. In our lives, we already cut most of the unnecessary spending, and for the ECNPI to grow higher I just need to write more and better articles or do some delivery work.

On the other fronts, things are going steady: baby is growing, spring is coming again. We will be able to grow some vegetables in our garden again and we will be much more outside. which I love! Also going to start cycling a lot more, need to do some sports after my brief setback with my wrist.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by ItsALongStory » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:54 am

Always interesting to follow a Western European journal, I am residing in the US currently but plan to retire to Western Europe. I feel super fortunate that I can take advantage of higher salaries/lower taxes/more flexible retirement savings options but ultimately live through retirement in Western Europe (thinking Portugal) where I grew up (Vlaanderen).

My timeline is still a long ways out though, only have about 4x annual expenses saved.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:54 am

ItsALongStory wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:54 am
Thanks for your response! Taking advantage of higher salaries in the US when working and low living costs while retired in a cheaper European country is a very good strategy. I thought about it myself as well, but with a baby it's a good idea to have a network of people around us. About six years ago, my GF almost took a job in Switzerland, which would have put us on that path as well. On the other hand, I might have never discovered ERE in that case, since I discovered it as a result of unhappiness at my job a couple of months later.
Portugal seems great, I think there are few places on earth with such a high quality of life as Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It's affordable as well. Though for me, the language would be a challenge.
4x annual expenses saved is still more than enough to have some freedom, it will grow eventually.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by ItsALongStory » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:04 am

Yeah i am putting about 1.5x annual expenses in there per year so within 7-8 years I may be close (assuming little or no lifestyle inflation).

I don't speak Portuguese either but surely could pick it up, the Belgians have to learn to adapt everywhere since nobody outside of the low lands speaks our native language.

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March 2019 update

Post by Will » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:09 am

April was a month of mostly hard work and quick development of our daughter. She's able to crawl around the house now and leaves every room she was in in an utter mess. Sounds bad, but it's actually quite fun.

First, let's take a look at the two most important statistics for this financial year:


The expenses covered by non-paycheck income nicely recovered, which was because of the increased dividend income in March (more than 650 euro), and because I worked a bit as a rider (a bit more than 200). However, our expenses went through the roof last month, which explains the low savings rate. I really thought I had this aspect of my life under control, so let's analyze where my money went:

Total: 1763
Rent: 347
Energy: 43
Taxes: 346
Banking: 2
Groceries: 144
Car: 34
Public transport: 94
Health insurance: 106
Doctor/dentist: 527
Travel: 17
Child: 88
Gifts: 3

The good news here is the two big out-of-the-ordinary expenses are only once a year. The doctor/dentist was part of the deductible of my insurance, and the taxes are a once-per-year thing. Groceries were a bit higher than average, but all the other categories are actually quite low. So though my spending was high this month, nothing to worry about.

Some random thoughts:

- I'm spending too little time on sports. Apart from the rider job which I do once or twice per week, I only did one long run this month. To be in good shape, this is much too little. The good news is that my wrist has recovered for more than 80%, so I might be able to pick up riding my road bike again soon. Weight training will have to wait longer.
- I broke the screen of my phone a couple of days ago. I've had it for almost 5 years and it worked wonderfully right until the end. Right now I'm doubting whether I'm going to replace the screen (would cost about 15-20 euro and probably a full day's worth of my time since you practically have to rebuild the entire phone, I estimated the chances of success around 70%), or buy a new one (would cost 200-250 euro but no time. I'm luckily able to borrow the old phone of my girlfriend for the moment and think I will try to fix it. I can always buy a new one if it doesn't work out.
- While I was riding to deliver pizza's the other day, I got into a conversation with a girl. After some minutes of talking, she basically asked me out on the spot. Though I was both surprised and flattered, I politely declined. Even when you're 100% unavailable like in my case, it does feel good to know that I'm still at least a bit attractive to other people. This whole experience did make me realize that I long for a bit more social interaction next to my colleagues (who aren't that social) and my family.
- My job is a true grind at the moment. All of my colleagues know that I'm leaving so nobody is investing much time in me anymore, which I understand. I'm just doing my job and that's it. At least it's still less than 4 weeks until our California holiday, and after that I will start my new employment.
- My girlfriend is finally convinced that she wants to retire early as well. She didn't take any action yet, like new ideas or figuring out what she wants to do after retirement, but at least she made the first step!

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:54 am

Something crazy happened at work yesterday: My boss hired his wife. She's obviously under-qualified for the job she's supposed to do and there wasn't even a vacancy! My boss didn't tell anyone until she just showed up for work, most of the people first thought it was a joke. It's completely and utterly ridiculous, if I would not have left the company I would have now be looking for a different job.

Needless to say, I'm even more happy to be leaving the company after next week. I'm doubting what I should do though, since most of my colleagues are cowards who will not do anything meaningful about the situation. I could call out my boss for it and create a big hassle, I have nothing to lose anyway. The thing which makes me doubt is that he will likely hate me for the rest of his life, and his family is living near me, so I do not want to create unnecessary enemies. I also know that I do not really owe my colleagues anything, but if there's somebody who can do something about the situation at the moment, it's me. Any advice?

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April 2019 update

Post by Will » Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:22 am

Usually I would write this update after the start of May, but since we're going on our long holiday to California next Saturday, and tomorrow is my last day at my job, I'll do it now! Yes, I’m writing this during time of the boss, but I honestly don’t care anymore. With regard to the developments at my work (my boss hiring his wife in the most insolent way possible), I decided to do nothing. I’m leaving tomorrow anyway, and my colleagues should fend for themselves. To be honest, I don’t think they are capable to do this the way I would, but that’s their problem. Nevertheless, I wish them the best, knowing that I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. I would never agree to the authoritarian nepotism that has risen to the top at my job lately, and would be looking for a new job now (maybe some of them are doing exactly that, but I don’t think so).

Anyway, enough of this. I’m happy to leave and start a new adventure at a different employer from June, but first time for holiday! We are flying to California to spend some time with my sister and travel around. The plan is to see lots of nature and do a lot of hiking. Traveling with a baby will be a completely new thing for us, but being quite seasoned travelers, this should work well. We rented a huge car, will dump a big inflatable mattress and some sleeping bags in it, and arrange some cooking gear. I’d prefer to boondock as much as we can, though my girlfriend is a bit hesitant about it. Anyway, It’s going to be an adventure and I’m looking forward to it.

For our holidays in 2020 we are thinking about spending a month’s time working at an organic farm somewhere in Europe. Our post-retirement dreams include stuff like food self-sufficiency, building things (me) and animals (mostly my girlfriend). By spending a month at an organic farm we can discover if this is truly what we want, and see what about it works for us and what doesn’t. Longer-term van travel also appeals to me, but we’re going to try a version of that during this year’s holiday already.

My girlfriend is talking about retiring more and more often, which is mostly because she started to like her job less and less. In order to achieve this in a couple of years we would need to downscale our finances dramatically since her net worth is about 70k, and her yearly expenses are about the same as mine around 15k. I’m willing to contribute, but only if we can find a common goal to commit to.

So, let’s talk some numbers, here are the graphs from this month:


Net worth has stayed the same, despite me not having received my salary of this month yet! Also, I didn’t update most of my investment account, so my net worth of this month is not to be trusted, the real number is likely slightly higher. SWR for bare bones FI with side business is 5.8%, for bare bones FI is 6.5% and for ‘fat’ FI is 8.1%. Still some work to do here, but I guess I’m more than halfway already.


My expenses have been relatively low this month, though there will be some costs during the last days of the month which I did not count yet. Also, our holiday will likely cost a bit more money than we usually spend. We are quite good at having low budget holidays, but since the US is not as cheap as our usual destinations (East Asia), it will be a bit more expensive this time.


This graph will still change a lot for April, since I haven’t received my salary yet (expenses have been higher than income until now), and I didn’t include my dividend income yet. Still, the expenses covered by non-paycheck income are on track for this year (target is 40%). The savings rate still needs some work (target: 50%).

So, that’s all for this month. My next update will probably be in the beginning of June, when I started my new job. May will be great, being on holiday AND getting paid for it (hurray for 38 holiday days, I’m not getting as much with my next employer anymore).

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Will » Mon May 27, 2019 4:40 am

We recently came back from our trip to California, and I must say it was a very nice trip. I feel very relaxed now, still having a full week of holiday before I start my new job. This gives me time to reflect upon the holiday and the American culture. I have been in the US before, but that was a work-related trip to a small hippy university town, so it did not give me a good view on the US at all. In no particular order:

- Man, are Americans addicted to their car! I knew it was bad, but seeing it with my own eyes still startled me. We rented a Chrysler Pacifica minivan which we slept in, and honestly I would be ashamed of driving such a large car in Europe. In the US is was probably only a bit larger than average. On campsites we saw (and were shown) RV’s which are the size of a decent bus. Not possible in Europe, most roads are just too narrow for them to drive. We went to a drive-through bank, which it utterly ridiculous in my opinion. But the most interesting (and sad) thing is that everything seems to be made for cars. Whole neighborhoods and cities are planned to only use your car for transportation. As a result, it’s relatively empty almost everywhere, even in the downtown of some large cities we were.
- We met many nice people. People are generally much kinder and willing to help and talk than in Europe, at least in the Netherlands. (in southern Europe, people are more outgoing, but there usually is a language problem). We slept at two families who were acquainted to the family of my girlfriend, and they were so very nice and kind!
- Food is a real problem. We cooked our own meals most of the days, and finding a supermarket which sells decent vegetables and fruit for a decent price was sometimes a hassle. Also, finding baby food without sugar and not too much salt is not easy! Related to this food problem is probably one of the worst inventions I ever saw: the food insinkerator. Just toss your leftovers in the sink and press a button, and the whole system will automatically blend everything and flush it out. Not only does it make it way too easy to throw away food, I cannot imagine it is good for the waste water treatment, not to mention that you should probably use your food waste as compost in the first place.
- We met many retired people, which automatically occurs when you’re staying at campsites during week days. Some seemed to be relatively young (in their 50s I would guess). The work ethic seems to be a bit different in the US though, we met a couple of people with which I would never want to trade places, such as a retail representative who had to get up at 3:00 in the morning (and he wasn’t home earlier than usual people) and a woman who drank a couple of glasses of wine every day after coming home from her job “to de-stress”.
- There is so much space everywhere! The country is so vast and open it blew my mind. But to be honest, most people in the US are still living like there is an unlimited amount of land. But it did give me hope that there is still so much space. We visited some extraordinarily beautiful national and state parks, and did some nice hiking there. Carrying a 9kg baby and a 10+ kg backpack up a hill for 5 miles is heavy, but at least this way my girlfriend could keep up with me
- Why the focus on the military and veterans? Aren’t people paid for their jobs? I would guess that veterans probably made a shitload of money during their employment, why are there so many donation programs for them? Is it because they just blew their money in the first years after their service, or do they truly need it? Maybe someone on this forum can answer this question. If I would walk around here in the Netherlands with a hat which said that I was a veteran of the war in Yugoslavia, I would at best get ignored, but probably get insulted a couple of times. In the US you can proudly wear a badge which says you fought in one of the dirtiest wars in history and be praised for it, and maybe even receive a donation! Note: this was only California, one of the most liberal states in the US.

Next week I will do a regular monthly update as soon as the numbers of May are in! I calculated that we spent about 1500 euro per person on this holiday (so total 3000), which includes everything (flight tickets, car rental, etc). This was probably the most expensive holiday we ever had, but it was still much cheaper than I expected.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Cheepnis » Mon May 27, 2019 7:58 am

Your trip sounds like it was awesome and I loved reading your thoughts on America.

We sure are addicted to cars! I bike everywhere and people are flabbergasted even though I rarely have to bike longer than 20 minutes to get anywhere. Yet choosing to live in a crappy little town 45 minutes outside outside the city and then driving an f350 as a commuter car into the city for work is acceptable. It's a crazy world.

My gf has an ongoing joke for me to "shield my eyes" if she sees an RV before me. I think those things are the most excessive and idiotic creation I've ever seen. Did you get the pleasure to see some of those giant camper trailers? They aren't much better, haha!

There's also drive through pharmacies if you didn't see one.

I wish I had a clear answer for you on the constant deification of veterans. The perks built into the system for them are already pretty astounding. I think I'd get it more if it was reserved for only combat veterans, but as you allude to, many combat veterans did terrible things. Why are we celebrating the heinous orders our country gave them?

Being of a younger generation all the veterans I personally know were desk jockeys and they enjoy all the same benefits. To top it off, from my observations, they aren't more competent on average either. In fact, those first few years after discharge I'd hazard they're less competent on average because they have no clue how the civilian world works!

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Re: Will's journal

Post by anesde » Mon May 27, 2019 10:14 am

I think the “diefication” (great word!) is partially a manifestation of the military industrial complex and partially an over-correction of the terrible way veterans were treated in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

In general people now tend to “support the troops” regardless of their political affiliations - that is, don’t blame the soldier for the governments policies and furthermore acknowledge the sacrifice made by the individual. Will isn’t wrong though - soldiers aren’t conscripted and generally choose to sign up.

I agree it’s a bit overblown today, especially when it’s mainly lip service and not really meaningful help (i.e letting veterans board airplanes first but not funding veteran healthcare). Not sure about the specific donation programs you’re referring to but I suspect the intent is to provide support for things that the government neglects to fund.

What bothers me more is the simultaneous “deification” of police officers, firefighters, etc. Did you experience any of that whilst in California? I think it really came about post 9/11. It’s admirable to be thankful and appreciative for first responders, but the adulation just seems excessive.

I also laughed at your comment re: garbage disposals. I also find them a bit ridiculous but I do note that they are typically better (if used properly) for disposing of food waste than throwing out in the normal garbage. Obviously composting is the best option, but if you’re going to compare sending food scraps to landfills vs. wastewater treatment plants I would pick the WW treatment plan every day of the week.

Key thing is “if used properly” of course.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by prognastat » Mon May 27, 2019 10:55 am

The car thing depends a little on where you are in the US, but from my experience it is the case for the vast majority of the US where everything is built with the expectation that everyone has a car. Part of this is due to the idea that there is near unlimited space available in many locations allowing them to build outwards rather than being more efficient with the space that is being used. As for camping coming from European vacations where camping in a tent wasn't unusual here it seems people going camping would like to go camping without actually losing any of the comforts of being home thus leading to the insanely large RVs that are the size of a small house/apartment.

AS for the military thing I think it's a combination of things. One they don't make that much money largely dependent on their rank. It's decent when you consider that your housing/food etc is taken care of, but definitely not what I would say is enough when you consider you generally have no control over where you live, are very constricted in what you can do outside of work, might have to risk your life and injury more. On top of this healthcare for veterans isn't very good despite the fact that many struggle with physical and mental health issues as a result of their time in the military. As anesde said it's a lot of superficial stuff in that you'll get praise from people, get discounts at restaurants etc, but although politicians tend to praise veterans there isn't a lot of actual. I think it would be better if there was more actual support and less lip service.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by ffj » Mon May 27, 2019 6:01 pm


- "Why the focus on the military and veterans? Aren’t people paid for their jobs? I would guess that veterans probably made a shitload of money during their employment, why are there so many donation programs for them? Is it because they just blew their money in the first years after their service, or do they truly need it?"

Because they perform a job that could either get them killed, maimed, or psychologically scarred for life. Not to mention being away from their families for extended periods of time. And nobody makes a shitload of money for that privilege. And I would never denigrate a veteran that has not seen combat, because they would have served their country in that capacity if called but they were lucky enough not to have done so. It's a roll of the dice.


"What bothers me more is the simultaneous “deification” of police officers, firefighters, etc. Did you experience any of that whilst in California? I think it really came about post 9/11. It’s admirable to be thankful and appreciative for first responders, but the adulation just seems excessive."

A lot of it did come after 911 when 343 FDNY members died doing their jobs. I was on duty that day at my fire department and it's a day I will never forget. The other duty day I will never forget is when one of my fellow firefighters was shot to death responding to a domestic disturbance call. But yes, you and Will have a point with the excessive adulation ( it's not necessary or sometimes warranted, and it's embarrassing for the person receiving it) for both military and police/fire, but I want to make a distinction:

Over the years I have been asked multiple times whether I have been traumatized over what I have seen and dealt with as far as some of the horrible situations we have responded to, and I can say very little. The reason is because we (the fire dept.) did not cause the situation to occur, and we actively try to fix the problem(s) upon arrival, whereas military personnel are sometimes forced into impossible moral dilemmas that are actionable. I believe that is why the suicide rate is so high for armed service personnel and it's a huge difference between our jobs. So I have no problem paying respect to our military because some of them will carry burdens I will never have to face.

Apologies for the preachiness, but it is Memorial Day.

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Chris » Mon May 27, 2019 10:09 pm

Will wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 4:40 am
finding a supermarket which sells decent vegetables and fruit for a decent price was sometimes a hassle
This is a problem particularly in national/state park areas that do not have permanent population center near by: the market basically needs to make all their profit in 4 months, and fresh produce often generates a spoilage loss.

Last year while camping in the western US, I was in a situation where a can of pineapple was cheaper than one fresh apple. Craziness. Yet in the Central Valley of CA, you can get some great prices, like 5 avocados for $1 (at the roadside, not in a supermarket).

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Re: Will's journal

Post by Jason » Tue May 28, 2019 5:56 am

I think because 9/11 was tantamount to war conditions, the firefighters were viewed as soldiers on the ground fighting for our country. So we look at those who died, having done so not just on the job in service to their local department, but in terms of the national interest. And rightfully so.

The study of organizations and groups in the US is well documented in its significance to democracy. Veteran associations are an important part of that tradition. They serve as a historical reminder as well as a political interest group. The post-WW II baby boom expansion was in large part built on the benefits provided to veterans in home ownership and education. And you can't universalize the adulation given to veterans. Unionist soldiers returning from doing battle in the Civil War were treated a whole lot differently that Vietnam Veterans returning from Southeast Asia. And we all know how divisive views towards the police have become.

And the national park system is pretty much a mid-west to California phenomenon. Conservationism as we know it started in the 19th century, long after most of the Northeast was completely built out for private and commercial interests and local and state governments were more entrenched.

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