Monday, November 30, 2020

Finally getting there...

Happy times!! The flooring is in and others sanded/varnished and we're finally starting to slack off a lot more now, turning up at the house as and when we choose, loping around the place with less of that pressure-pressure-pressure mentality for the move-in date. It's a heck of a relief.

Even found the time on top of the French to take on another two Duolingo languages, Spanish and German. Not jumped back on the Gouache painting yet but it really shouldn't be much longer. 

Anyways back to house. 

This one has definitely been more stressful than all the others so far because of the unknowns, and the fact that we'd never pulled up boards and replaced floor joists before. Those things were just way too rotten after a century of neglect so we managed to replace all the ugliness or sister the semi-ok ones. 

 

Pics: Sistering/replacing of the joists in the front and dining rooms, below is the central heating installation.


In the sanded and varnished state we also love the upstairs floors, that's it shown in the pic at the start of the post. Bear in mind these are 130 year old floors and have seen a lot of history so it's cool they get to see the light of day again.

So now it's just a bunch of putting up chests of drawers and wardrobes for clothing and adding linolieum floors to kitchen and bathroom and we're ready to move in on the 15th of December. We even gave notice on the apartment in East Cowes so we'll be then down to only one set of utilities and taxes!! Yay!! Much more FIRE budget friendly.

While working on the place both of our minds have definitely been wandering back to travel and the hankering therein. It's strange to be FIRE free and yet still be stuck in a cold weather climate, we've usually high-tailed it to a warmer snowbird climate by now to extend summer but due to Covid obviously regular life is on hold. Oh well.

At least the Isle of Wight is currently Tier 1 on the government system so life is as normal as it can be after lockdown finishes on the 2nd of December.

In the spirit of the last few blog posts here is a Dividend Nomad post about Measurement:-

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For as long as we can remember the societies in which we have lived have been run by measurement in some way shape or form. We can never seem to help ourselves, from birth through education and in our chosen workplaces we are constantly reminded that we need to be the best at whatever task, exam, project we undertake, we are even measured in the success of our personal relationships. We are measured against our classmates, peers, siblings and eventually work colleagues and our relative success or failure is judged accordingly.

This measurement process has been the case for generations even though it is universally well known that not all people are born with the same level of intelligence, natural skills, personalities or abilities. But in all fairness who decided all this measurement was necessary? If we know full well that all human beings are not created equally then why is it still necessary to pitch everyone against each other so that society is divided into so-called winners and losers, successes and failures even though the odds are obviously already decided by nature.

Towards the end of my Engineering career I witnessed this measurement taken to it's extreme, I was always led to believe that a little measurement did no harm if it created a little healthy, harmless competition between people but in reality it has now gotten completely out of hand. In fact it has gone to such an extreme that we are now starting to see catastrophic consequences of this lunacy, for that is what it truly is. Needless lunacy.

While busy working 60+ hour weeks in the USA I lost two cousins based on what I see as the needless repercussions of measurement and it's unnecessary pressures that it places on society. The first cousin was unemployed for well over a decade before landing his first job after many years of trying with no qualifications in a high unemployment market, after a time he was unfortunately redeployed in his role to one of the most dangerous locations in the UK and started to receive death threats daily in his public-facing role. As a result he turned to alcoholism and proceeded to lose his job and eventually drank himself to death. I am convinced that the pressure of keeping the job he had struggled so hard to get and living by the success and failure rules imposed by our society led him on this depressed path. 

The second cousin suffered a brain injury at the age of 10 and as a result was never to successfully hold down a sustained career or relationship, he took his life in a local hotel on valentines day in 2017. Again society dictates that everyone should marry, have kids and hold down a career and he acknowledged that he could never achieve any of these so saw no reason to continue.

The needless end to both of these young men's lives highlights very well the point of how the societies of the world have become almost obsessed with applying pressure for people to conform to it's measurement. Our schools, colleges and careers are now more measurement-obsessed than ever and we are rapidly catching up to Japan where the Karoshi culture of burnout and death by overworking has been prevalent and costing lives unnecessarily for many years now. The only positive silver lining of this situation has been the FIRE movement that it has created, placing control firmly back in the hands of the measured. It's easy to see how it's growth is now critical moving forward if society is ever to return to some sort of sanity.

The sad part is that it's only towards the end of my Engineering career in the height of burnout that I began really to take an introspective look at how my own life has been directed by measurement towards one pressurized and unnecessary goal after another. Be it the pursuit of ever-increasing education, wealth, or forging up the career ladder to be judged by my peers and relations as a success and create some subsequent perceived internal happiness. It's only now that I see measurement for the negative force that it truly can become when left unchecked in this society, I have since spent a lot of time uncoiling it's grip on my life and the life of everyone who is willing to listen. Any acceptance of measurement or goals and ambitions in anyone's life should be from within and personal, not because society dictates it so. It's time to break this cycle that we have seemingly freely and willingly trapped ourselves in for centuries and live our own lives on our own terms doing what truly makes us happy, whatever that is. If we choose to do nothing, never get married, never go to college then that is our choice and freewill and no member of society or family has the right to judge us accordingly.

Even though I know that I can't bring back my two cousins, if I can highlight the detrimental results of societies' obsession with measurement and help people to see it for the nonsense that it truly is, then maybe more people can start to also uncoil themselves from it's grip before it has a chance to also damage their lives and mental well being irreparably. 

Thanks for reading,

DN

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As of the time period ending June this year (when I re-FIRE'd) I can honestly say this is all still very much relevant, the employer where I worked for those 8 months had for years been a hold-out for the burnout measurement mentality but even it had transformed too. The pressure was pretty much there immediately, tracking progress twice a day. Almost like my two years of FIRE never happened and I can now say I realized I'd made a mistake by the first week. Now after 6 months back in FIRE it's easy to see this is where I belong, no doubt about it all. My curiosity and burning question whether I retired too soon/should be retired has been categorically answered with no room left for any doubt.

No more measurement, period.

And time to enjoy a paid off house of our own that isn't a rental for someone else's benefit.

Love to all,

DD4L

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Happiness is....eliminating redundant habits

Flooring... this week has been completely dominated by the addition of laminate to Chateau Mildew so apologies again for my lack of dedication to the blogging cause.

But why laminate? 

Well we were proceeding with floor sanding but then had a change of heart. 

Why? 

Well we tested out the varnish and the floor took on a kind of multicolored look about it due to the previous use of different wood types which made it a bit too surreal for our tastes so rather than replace all the planks laminate it was. Much cheaper and not actually bad quality.

Laminate has come on in leaps and bounds since the first IKEA maple glue version:-


So this week was chopping away at the bottom of door casing with the japanese pull saw and fitting the new laminate across the living room to dining room. As I write this the task is nearing completion which is awesome and means I can get on with installing the lino in the bathroom and kitchen (after painting)

In the flow of last weeks lazy journalism though here is a blog post from Dividend Nomad back in August 2018:-

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One of the many changes we've noticed in FIRE is that when you cease to trade your time for money it suddenly hits you how important it is to continue this trend. The path to FIRE after all involves an awakening and realization that our time on this planet is so short and being in control of your own time once more brings to light other areas where it is being wasted.

What this means is at the point where you no longer need to erode your already short time on earth working at a job for 8-12+ hours per day to perpetuate a debt payment cycle, then you can truly begin to focus on what makes you feel happy and positive in life.

Take for example something as simple as sitting down to watch the evening news. From our own experience this used to invariably entail watching some item about an unfortunate local person being shot or involved in some sort of road traffic accident, quite upsetting to be honest. But back then we never seemed to stop and think whether this was information we really needed to know or if it was burning through life hours and making us miserable in the process.

Without sounding too selfish it's hard to understand exactly how our lives actually improved with the knowledge of bad things happening to other people. Maybe the plan of the TV programmers could have been that if we knew the victim personally then we could maybe go visit them to pass on our best wishes, but in all honesty how many times would that likely be the case? On the face of it it actually became difficult to understand why we would habitually use our remaining time on the planet to watch unfortunate events. This was one of the first items we decided was redundant time with zero gain so we stopped it. 

In the UK there is also a habit of watching soap operas from 6pm until 10pm in the evening, in fact we attempted to watch one of these from a hotel we stayed at initially and at some point it just seemed that the storyline erupted into an argument between a few of the main actors, it honestly became unbearable. We could have presented a case for watching was that the acting was of an excellent standard but at some point it ceased to make sense, all it seemed like we would effectively be doing was committing to a time block of watching people lose their temper with each other. Again we decided this was an example of redundant time. 

The same was the case for newspapers, at some point in our existence it was put to us that it's everyone's responsibility to know what is going on in the world so reading newspapers or online news is critical. However there is a counterpoint to this argument that involves the fact that there is very little if anything at all that you can do about most of the worlds problems, a general overview understanding is sufficient. Stressing about these problems on a day to day basis or trying to decipher biased from real reporting seemed like another pointless exercise. We're now able to walk past all those big headlines in the racks at the grocery store without ever feeling the need to know more, reading online news has also been eliminated.

So you see what we were doing here? With no real effort we have analyzed aspects of time usage and decided which were accreditive to happiness and positivity versus ones which we felt were redundant. All the while remembering that our time on earth is finite, anything could happen to us tomorrow so happiness in the present is crucial.

From here all that was necessary was to begin figuring out experiences that we preferred to do instead. Turns out we really enjoy walking near the lake feeding the swans and geese, watching the sunset, heading out for a long run or bike ride, hitting the gym, consuming informative books, blogs and podcasts from some truly intelligent, insightful people that we feel help us become better people. Simply put, these activities that brought joy and happiness to our lives needed to be more prominent.

When we occasionally watch TV now the preference has become towards a Netflix film or situation comedy and if we find nothing suitable then we switch off and figure out an alternative use of life hours. This can mean sitting and talking or researching our next remodeling project or perhaps researching the advantages of any new countries we want to visit or live in.

The sitting and talking has become our best time to be honest, and we definitely get a lot out of it. When friends and relatives come to visit us here or we go visit them there is nothing better than to catch up with people without the nagging thought in your mind that you need to be somewhere else, you can truly devote all your time to listening and enjoying people's company. We've successfully eliminated a lot of redundant time and replaced it with positive, happy, memorable moments. It doesn't take much to optimize your life in this respect, just a recognition of old habits that are counterproductive to your life as a whole.

We've found that one of the best exercises to determine what is accreditive versus redundant is to simply think about reaching the end of our lives and asking ourselves what we think we would wish we'd spent more time doing. This is a good way of thinking from moment to moment about the path your life is taking you on and whether an action is a habit that might need to be broken.

In conclusion, this is definitely a classic 'each to their own' post. If you love nothing more than watching soap opera characters argue or seeing tragic events on TV on a regular basis then that is entirely an individual decision and if it makes you happy we are not here to tell you otherwise. However if there are aspects to your life that you aren't happy with then it might be a good idea to identify and strip away redundant time and re-allocate that time to researching a go-forward plan that is more amenable to future, longer term enjoyment. 

Thanks for reading,

DN

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This post is still very much applicable to our lives in FIRE, though I can admit I did cheat a little and follow some of the election coverage and have been keeping a close eye on the ACA supreme court outcome. It's easy to see the negativity creeping back in though so it becomes necessary to shut it back down.

Before working on Chateau Mildew I actually took up Gouache painting after not lifting a paintbrush since mid high school, not to mention learning piano and the French lessons on duolingo. These activities wouldn't be possible if too much time was spent watching TV or on the internet as mentioned in the above post.

Once the Chateau work tails off I'll be back to painting, reading and music, maybe a bit of mountainbike. I'll detail all that in a later post though.

Love to all,

DD4L.




Friday, November 13, 2020

Why everyone will need Financial Independence...eventually (A lazy revisit)

So since I'm waaaaayyy tooooo daaaammn fricking exhausted because this house renovation is kicking my sorry old ass I thought I'd approach the next few blog posts a different (erm, lazy) way. 

I recently trawled my gmail reading some of the old Dividend Nomad posts I wrote over the past couple of years which are now deleted on the world wide web, with the idea of trying to figure out either exactly what type of black tar heroin I was on or if after the passage of time do I still agree with what I was originally spouting at this now later, more experienced juncture? 

I know, lazy bone idle, poor excuse for journalism. I just don't have the energy right now to produce. It's replacing rotten joists here, filling in walls there, bit of brick re-pointing. I'll get into that more at a later date.

Since these posts no longer exist technically I thought it also nice to reintroduce them under the new Google Blogger format since it no longer costs me a dime to host...(aaahh the sweet life post-Bluehost)

Yep, still a cheapo..

So here is one from back in September 2018. 2018, what an awesome year! We never had it so damn good. No Covid, no masks (unless you were in Chiang Mai and it was burning season)

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Since I don't read online news anymore my better half Mrs DN pointed me to an article in the Daily Mail about Financial Independence, hinting that I may not like what I read in the comments section and how the responses were very negative with about 95% highlighting that this is not the lifestyle for them.

The only response I can really give to anyone who sincerely doesn't believe they ever see themselves needing to sock away money to secure the future for themselves and that of their family is, well one of extreme happiness. Happiness tinged with maybe a little skepticism, but happiness nonetheless. The reason for my happiness is obvious, to spend your days at a job you love isn't working. It's just like having a hobby someone pays you for, it's a wonderful existence experienced very rarely.

The reason for my hint of skepticism though, without the slightest hint of condescension is that of the past 24 years of my working life I have spent 13 of them cycling in and out of what was a heavily burnt-out state. This burnt-out state was as a direct result of continuous 60-70 hour weeks that were seemingly never going to end anytime soon, at least until I was the person to make the choice to end the madness.

My background growing up, as well as that of most of my old friends and colleagues had always been that when there's money on the table then you grab it with both hands, the same if someone offers you a job, you take it because you don't know what tomorrow will bring. Indeed grab I did for those decades and for some parts of that time period I did actually enjoy designing aircraft and motor vehicles for a living. In some of those time periods my viewpoint might have even echoed the exact same mantra as those responding in the comments field of the aforementioned article. I'm designing aircraft, having the time of my life, why on earth would I dream of wanting to stop and retire when I'm doing such important work that means so much to me and my employer? It makes zero sense. 

This is where I was actually partly correct, I was enjoying the work and it did mean a lot to me. My error was assuming that the work I was doing meant anything to my employer. This is not a victim mentality statement just a fact, in the eyes of the vast majority of corporations you don't actually exist in the human sense of the word, you are a commodity. I actually have no problem with this understanding, I can't say I felt the same the day decades ago when it actually started to hit home but over the years I came to terms extremely well with it I think.

The point is, Financial Independence is not for everyone at a certain given time of their lives. It needs to be arrived at by a series of obvious events and if those events never materialize then there might be a good chance you will never even give it a second thought. Like I say if this is you then I'm very happy for you, long may your joy continue.

All I can say though is rest assured the corporate burnout culture is alive and well and is going nowhere anytime soon. The reason? Well from a corporate perspective it makes the uttermost sense to get as much performance from your employees as is humanly possible in order to assure yourself maximum profits when it comes to quarterly reporting. The best way it has been found to achieve this is through introducing a competitive, fear-based culture. Fear of losing your job and subsequently all your material possessions creates competition between yourself and your peers who also live in fear of losing their job too. 

Therefore when it comes to deciding who stays and who goes then it is on you to show your company loyalty and that is done by working longer and harder than your peers. This means working weekends, holidays, whatever it takes to hit the deadlines that the corporation decides are their critical milestones that pay bonuses at Director up to Vice-President level, usually coinciding with quarterly earnings reporting and subsequent share price. Your Directors and VP's have a financial dog in the hunt when it comes to your performance, your success is their success and if your immediate Manager is failing achieve the results expected by their superiors then they need to explain your performance. Did you work the overtime that was expected of you? Did you turn up over thanksgiving? Christmas? The stress of knowing this is the expectation is what leads to the overwork and subsequent burnout. 

Burnout comes and goes quite a few cycles in your working career before it begins to truly stick with you on a longer term basis. You can feel stressed at peak times and then it subsides for a while and you can go back to enjoying your job and life again but it inevitably returns because corporate culture dictates it so. It is when it returns as a more longer, sustained version with no letup that you begin to truly begin to see the real problem. This longer, sustained version does take a while to materialize though which gives you some grace period before you feel it's worst effects.

So in conclusion, I agree that at any given time you can find a large percentage of the population disagreeing, even quite aggressively in some cases with the notion of Financial Independence or FIRE. But rest assured that at some point the mood wherever they are will change, it may not be tomorrow, maybe not next month nor year but at some point corporate culture wherever you are will shift. You can probably predict it the moment your more higher level employees switch to the aforementioned milestone performance-pay related business model. This process usually occurs when the small, happy successful organization that you love to work for get's swallowed up by a corporate giant.

Once this occurs the need to constantly innovate, to increase revenue, to increase earnings by reducing overheads will never go away now, especially when you've gone too far and proved you can do more with less headcount. Going back to any lesser performance will never be a U-turn that any corporation can sell to Wall Street investors.

Here's to hoping the naysayers receive enough wake up calls to figure all this out before it's too late for them. The only remedy to modern corporate culture is Financial Independence, or FU money.

Thanks for reading,

DN

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Holy moly! That's not stale. Still agree with every word.

Even more so in the Covid world but never to get complacent again post-Covid vaccine. Even though the FIRE community to me seems to have run out of steam/ideas nowadays, I still am a big believer in the underlying premise. 

To anyone listening (or even not listening) I'd still spout the same. i.e. don't get slapped down/burnt out long term by the corporate world even if you do now appreciate simply being employed in a pandemic world, the gratitude will most likely fade post-vaccine and it's likely you'll ultimately gravitate back to not being too plussed with overworked, slave labor which is sadly ingrained in corporate culture longer term. 

Trust....and save the pennies to get back on track to the longer term FIRE goal. If I was still on the hamster wheel that is exactly where my thoughts would still be..

Love to all,

DD4L