Setting Yourself Up Nicely

>> May 19, 2020

>> Blog Post #71

My contributions to this blog have been few and far between recently. I have both wasted a lot of time and yet, have also coincidentally been busy.

The waste of time I can attribute to probably switching tasks too often. You’ll get more done in three straight hours of one project than on one hour of three different projects. Spreading myself thin hasn’t helped and I have to accept that I can’t do all the nice to have things. Focus.

However, I am also cognizant of the fact that these periods generally come hand in hand, at least for me, with periods where I am actually doing a lot of background thinking – you could call it hesitating – on what the best course of action is.

I’ve always believed in luck. Not something that comes out of nowhere and hits you blindly, although that can happen, but something that happens for reasons that weren’t necessarily planned for, just because you had the right surface of “luck potential”. That is how I explained it to myself for years. You can probably do a few things in life that will just help you get lucky more frequently. That was my basic intuition and the little effort I made to explain the concept to myself.

Well yesterday I just started reading Taleb’s Black Swan. I am barely through the first chapter, but it just might be exactly what I needed. A more detailed and thoughtful search into how you can possibly set yourself up nicely for getting lucky.

I am in the free market for maximizing my odds of encountering luck.

How do I do that best, I will have to see. Until now my intuition was that the biggest factor was talking to people. It probably holds some solid statistical properties, but I’ll have to see if Nassim Taleb discusses that or not. I hope he does, as that is something that I would be extremely interested in reading about. If not, I’ll call that an oversight.

I think I’ve moved far enough with my project in a limited space, that is without making it to public and too visible, some sort of nurturing phase. Now it’s time to bring this puppy to town and see what good comes of it. It has a lot of potential. Let’s hope I don’t focus too narrowly and keep a wide “luck potential” surface.

I can’t recommend enough the two previous books from Nassim Taleb that I read : Antifragile & Skin in the Game. Both were superb reads, even though I must admit a strong preference to the first one. What really made an impression on me was how dull the books i read in between these two were in contrast.

Is This The Time I Finally Do It?

>> May 7, 2020

>> Blog Post #69

I signed up for a coding bootcamp this week. It’s not the first time I take some coding classes online, but up till now I had only taken a few free modules.

This time it’s an entire program and I actually paid for it. It was cheap, so whatever happens it wouldn’t feel like a waste of money, but it is a different feeling to actually pay for something.

I’ve been pretty active on the program for the past three days and it has actually eaten into my nighttime posting routine, but I’m sure I’ll figure out some sort of new organization to make it all work.

I also feel like I’ll be more committed to my learning plan this time around. There is more genuine interest, I actually have plans to use my soon-to-be new skills, my goals are achievable and so far, the program I’m following is really well done. You feel the person who’s put it together is genuinely trying her best to teach you and make sure you are satisfied.

I actually enjoy it so much I need to get back to it, NOW !

Sliding Into A New Rhythm

>> April 27, 2020

>> blog post #65

I’ve noticed my organisation has started to slide somewhat. I wasn’t necessarily getting as much work done recently because a lot of my time was spent on the family, specifically the kids’ education. But I must say my newfound love for gardening has also been pretty time consuming. All of this has resulted in my days getting longer and longer and any free time has extended in to the early hours more and more, so have my getting up hours. I think I’ve gotten used to this confined state and the novelty has gone a little. That’s probably why the slide is taking over. Need to get back to a better rythm and focus on the tasks at hand.

Where Do I Start?

>> April 15, 2020

>> Blog Post #58

So let’s say I really do build a citadel like I said I’m dreaming of recently, where do I start?

I guess there are two main elements.

1/ convincing my better half – tough one right there

2/ figuring out a game plan for something as big as a life choice…. – yikes

Ok, so tall order….

I’ll probably have to start with the game plan first. To try and figure out whether this is attainable, achievable, by me. I’ve heard and read several times already that you should start small and grow from there, at least as far is permaculture is concerned, as that has been one of the first topics I have dived into. The comment probably carries a lot of wisdom as it has been expressed by people who have tried and seem very humble in their approach to things. It might therefore be wise to heed that advice and remember it. Especially because I have a natural tendency to go too far too quickly.

So how do you make a plan?

  • You need land
  • You need to gather resources
  • You need to use these resources as efficiently as possible
  • You need to progressively tend towards more autonomy while understanding that it takes several years to build
  • You need learn new skills
  • You need help along the way
  • You need to survive the hardships as there will be hard times – that again seems to be a common comment of people who are willing to share some feedback on their personal experience.

I will probably split my studies along the lines of:

  • Land – choosing the best possible land to establish a citadel
  • Design – learning how to build a system, that is an ecosystem where things and animals (including us) live off of each other
  • Food – how to grow food, how to keep food, how to transform food
  • Shelter – learn how to build a house. Isn’t it kind of crazy that 99.9% of people do not know how to do this anymore?
  • Energy / Resources – Water, heat, electricity obviously, but also all the resources you can accumulate freely and transform into something useful for crops or animals. There is a ton of stuff to do there and this recycling, DIYing aspect is one of the most interesting to me.
  • Security – physical security, financial security, health considerations, risks, redundancies, etc. This is probably an understated theme but another one that I am very curious about
  • Network, social – finally this theme. You cannot do everything yourself, obviously. I will need help and support, and this is only possible with the help of others, to build, criticize, support, buy, sell, dream, joke, … Whatever it is people do. You need people.

This all sounds so crazy.

I must say though, that someone offered his help to me yesterday. I am 100% sure he doesn’t know just how crazy I am, but I do also believe, he was serious in at least considering there was some hard work to be done and I know he’s got the mind of a builder, just like me. Never know… 🙂

I Want To Build A Citadel

>> April 13, 2020

>> Blog Post #57

This is the crazy obsessive idea that I can’t get off my mind these days. I think it’s the project that I’m looking for. Something all encompassing, durable, a mix of a lifelong goal and a trajectory at the same time.

What is the citadel? The citadel is a physical space where you can exercise your liberty to its fullest. To do so, you need to be independent enough from the rest of the world around you. Independent from spying eyes as well as from material ties such as energy bills.

The citadel is a system, where all elements and components of the citadel have to work together efficiently as a whole. The system is designed to last and must evolve constantly in support of that objective. The goal is to constantly improve the citadel so that it can be transmitted to others down the road and that its value will have appreciated with time.

But a certain level of independence and autonomy do not mean that this is a solitary project or that there is no communication with others. Quite the contrary. I am convinced that a growing number of people are feeling the same urge to build for themselves in a way that is respectful to others but uncompromising with regards to their own personal freedom and well-being. These people can be friends, partners, customers, suppliers and the citadel has to be designed to be able to benefit from all these networks and relationships.

Finally, the citadel is both old and modern. It is respectful of history and wisdom while also having a strong appetite for science and the benefits of modernity. It is built to enjoy life at its fullest with all the best ideas of the past, today and the future.

Now I know very well that a citadel cannot be built in a day. I will have to conduct a ton of research, plan, choose a strategy, find partners, people who might want to contribute and enjoy the journey.

Rediscovering Low Tech

>> April 10, 2020

>> Blog Post #56

Being confined for a few weeks – and a little cash strapped lately – has been a boon.

I’ve recently cut down a lot on spending. Partly because a lot of stores are closed, partly because deliveries are taking for ages and partly because, I should just spend less.

But I’ve also been incredibly active and have jumped headfirst into my new gardening project.

This has led me to be very creative in recycling things and finding raw material that would have just been garbage before.

The kids were playing with water balloons since it was so hot yesterday afternoon. Guess what the straws used to fill the balloons are good for?

It works even better than I would have imagined!

The manual labor aspect has also given me a ton of free time to think and listen to even more music than I usually do, putting my brain to rest. I think that relaxed state of mind has helped me be “in the moment” more, be more present in what I was doing.

As a result of all of this, I’ve rediscovered through experience some very basic rules of physics but was surprised at just how much fun it was too find logic in things I was doing.

Let me give you an example.

I found these mushroom trays by a garbage behind an organic food store close by.

I grabbed all three of them as cheap ways of ordering stuff in the greenhouse I built in the yard last week. I had half a dozen shelves, but nothing to store all of my stuff so I just took them, thinking once I get better organized, I’ll just dump those trays. But I actually found another use for them after digging out a couple trees in the yard. I needed to try and take the weeds and moss out of the dirt I had moved around while uprooting those trees. The tray could be used as a cheap sieve.

Just load up the tray with the dirt and shake it above some other recipient to collect the earth you want to keep. Nice and easy.

But what was actually surprising yet obviously logical was the following.

By shaking the tray, the fine earth would fall in the below basin. However, larger lumps of dry earth would stay at the surface as they were too big to fall through the mesh-like plastic pattern. However, that part still did separate easily from the moss and weeds I was trying to get rid of as it fell to the bottom of the tray after the shake, while the weeds found their way to the top during the process. That’s gravity for you.

Green on top, brown at the bottom. Easy, and cheap.

It feels great to take a lot of satisfaction out of these very meaningless things. It means you are enjoying yourself greatly! I hope you are too.

Last thing, I said just how much time I have on my hands to listen to music these days. I am having a big older stuff revival and the name of the album I listen to the most these days is extremely appropriate: Dirt by Alice in Chains. That Album is as good as it got during the 90s. An absolute classic and SOOO heavy. Love it.

How Long Will This Last?

>> April 8, 2020

>> Blog Post #55

We’ve now been confined for three weeks. I don’t feel as confined as others as I still go out once in a while to shop for food and take a walk in the forest frequently – a little less than my usual 6 days a week, but still almost every other day. I also have a yard that I can sit in and garden and enjoy the warm sunny days we’ve had.

And obviously, we’re healthy, so no complaining on my part whatsoever.

I’ve talked to some of my friends over the phone recently and everyone’s story is basically the same: it’s not that bad, we’re adapting, sometimes we lose it with our kids because they drive us nuts, but all in all it’s fine.

But what I find interesting is the few comments that seem to be fairly common amongst most people. They are:

  • taking the time to reflect on their lives
  • taking the time they have now, to do things they had always wanted to do but never started – I have one friend who’s currently tearing down his car to learn mechanics!!! Insane
  • finding new efficiencies in how they work, day to day – less meetings, less calls, asynchronous teamwork, etc.

So, the question goes further than what possibly crossed your mind when reading the title of this post.

When is the confinement going to end is one thing? But something potentially much deeper is at play. A lot of people seem to be questioning their way of living and seem to be happy to try things differently, probably forming habits along the way. How long are these going to last? Will they be durable? Will they be more beneficial than the old ones? Should we actually hope that we have more time confined to push this exercise, this test to its limits? Are there any limits to how we can adapt?

I for one am just getting started, and I have ways to go.

Stay safe!

Being Grateful For Tomorrow

>> April 7, 2020

>> Blog Post #54

I did a ton today. And yet what I wanted to do and was planned for this day, just never happened. I didn’t have time, no matter how hard I tried, other stuff just came getting in the way.

It was the type of day where you know there are only a couple of hours left until tomorrow and you wonder if you should just get to it, now that everyone else has disappeared or just take it easy, recognize that sometimes it’s better just to pace yourself and accept that there is a tomorrow.

As I was sitting down somewhere private, the thought just occurred to me. All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Be thankful there is nothing serious going on and you will just get it done tomorrow. You want to do it. If you did not do it today, it wasn’t for lack of envy. Not everything can be achieved through pure will. Sometimes other things interfere.

Knock it out of the parc tomorrow.

Be thankful for what you have. Not everyone is as fortunate. Anything that is within man’s reach, you can set your eyes on and do it.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 2

>> March 24, 2020

>> Blog Post #45

Guess who is going to have 5 more weeks to work on his homeschooling project?

One of the difficult aspects of having everyone at home 24/7 is that you pretty much have to take charge of the weekly calendar for everyone. How autonomous were we when we were kids? I don’t remember. Looks like the attention span of my kids isn’t very long and they look at others for ideas of what to do quite a bit. Actually, today wasn’t too bad.

I think everyone needs to get a little more bored, to hit some kind of bottom, so that progressively the will to get genuinely excited and motivated by something comes up.

I’ve started to introduce a mandatory moment for the kids to get online and do some internet searches. I want them to be stimulated enough that then they would then start going for the DIY stuff which they really like. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyways, this is just a drill. We are practicing for later. We are learning more skills patiently while the confinement lasts. But we will probably take this mindset with us after. I hope we’ll be able to learn for years to come and maybe one day we can build a family citadel with the children.

The skills we are learning might come in handy if we want to put a roof over our heads, farm the food we need to survive or just want to change our lifestyle. They might come in handy as a way of living or as a way to earn money or trade. It will, whatever happens open up our horizons.