Hi RIP voyeurs,
Main focus of this third part is personal updates, which I know they are the most awaited 🙂
October updates occupied
most 100% of my writing time for November, which is not cool. There are many other things I want to write about, and new ideas keep popping up on a daily basis. Unless something crazy happens I don’t think I’m going to split future monthly updates like I did for October.
A frustrating month, where time was scarce and things to do exploded. I don’t think November will be any better (note from the future: no, it won’t).
Back to work full time in October, after 2 weeks of 50% ramp back time, after 10 weeks of paternity leave. Working full time has been… intense. My body had to adapt back to the rhythms of the workplace. Problem is that it didn’t fully accept it (yet?).
BabyRIP became more demanding. The more she grows, the more I want to spend time with her. I actually crave for it while at work.
Grandmas (both) visited us for more than half of the month combined. They occupied our living room, where my writing space is. As a result: less time to blog.
I woke up at 6am most of the month, but even morning time has been fragmented by BabyRIP babbling (I can’t help but need to go playing with her when she is awake), grandmas snoring, and in general writing on the floor of a corridor is not excellent. Then at ~9am I need to leave my apartment to go to work and come back at ~6pm, when the day is almost over. I then help Mrs RIP by giving her a well deserved hour to focus on her stuff. Then it’s routine time: dinner routine for us and for Baby, after dinner routine reading Baby’s fables from a couple of children books, singing her a couple of songs, changing her nappy, putting the pajama on, maybe letting her take a small bath. Then help her sleeping, which is starting to take 10-15 minutes instead of zero. Still a bless, I know.
When everything is settled down it’s already 9pm. Time to wash the dishes, spend some time with Mrs to discuss how our days went, cuddling a bit, maybe outlining next individual tasks / house chores / social events / trips / purchases / personal activities / incoming visits… and it’s 10 – 10.30pm. Mrs RIP falls asleep on the couch, snoring with the TV on, while I face the daily dilemma: should I go to sleep early to wake up early tomorrow or should I make use of these couple of free hours to get something done?
The dilemma ends up resolved by both staying up to midnight and waking up at 6am the day after. Which, as you may imagine, carries few problems: after 10pm I’m tired. If I watch interesting video, I won’t have enough energy to fully appreciate them. So I can only watch a fraction of the YouTube videos that I added to “watch later” while at work, which means my watch later is growing. I can’t even read deep articles from the blogs I follow, else I’d do that with low quality attention. Which means my “read later” is growing as well. And the day after, with no more than 6 hours of sleep, it takes more than half an hour to get into the right mindset and feel productive.
I’m squeezing my time to extract some productivity, some value. But I’m only focusing on intellectual activities, all day long. When am I going to do sports? When am I going to wander – and wonder -outdoor, offline? I used to love that.
And even though I focus on mental activities in my free time, I can’t see anything of high value coming out. What do I have to show for the time I’m cutting to my health, in both sleep time and sport time? I’m not able to blog at my desired pace, I’m not structuring my study, I’m not self investigating my existence with the depth I’d like to.
“Welcome to midlife, RIP”
Yeah, thanks… I recently stumbled upon this age/happiness article, where the following curve is presented:
Apparently the 40s are the toughest age range. Young kids, old parents, maximum job-related stress level, and most importantly: not yet accepted that you’re not going to do what you thought you were going to do in life. Maybe happiness later in life comes from humility, modesty, acceptance, legacy, surrendering to life. Memento Mori. Hakuna Matata.
Anyway, I’m in my 40s now and life is heavy. I’m doing my best to keep all pieces together but really, guys, where the hell is time? Is it normal that an adult human being cannot do anything of value except shits at work? I can’t accept it, I can’t tolerate it. I’m here to fight to demonstrate that the opposite is true, but according to my metrics I’m not having success so far.
So I stubbornly stick with my plan of waking up at 6am and write, read, blog, think.
You might think that even though “who cares about health” the schedule could be somehow sustainable, but then Wednesday happens. Wednesday is theater acting day, my main personal social activity, and I love it. But I’m back at home at 10-10.30pm, when Baby is already sleeping (I didn’t see her the entire day), Mrs is snoring on the couch, I’m more tired than usual (theater acting is intense), and the day is almost gone. Then Thursday to Sunday evenings are fully booked: it’s family social time! Mrs works very hard to schedule every minute of our weekends with friends and mini trips (grocery store included). I do my best to wake up early even after a late evening, but you can guess the quality. Yes, there is some free time I’m able to carve out of our fully booked weekends, and that’s the time I want to spend with my daughter. Or it might even be that I decide to do some sport, to move my body.
Priorities are fighting hard in my head.
I am half-assing everything, but full-assing nothing. I’m the jack of all fucking trades. The obvious problem here is the huge daily slot of “going to work, doing my job”. It’s like a giant meteorite in your living room. Yes, you can still adapt and live an inferior life, but… why don’t try very hard and get rid of it? Or transform it into something you love? That’s why we pursue Financial Independence and blah blah blah. As you can see, in my life there is not much time to spend money. Maybe if we reach FI our expenses will go up, who knows.
Anyway, I can only keep grinding because Hooli is the best place where to work, and because I know “the end is near”. If I had no escape hatch nearby and would need to keep going until age 65 I would immediately quit. If you don’t have options you only have one option. Or “if you can’t then you must“. I’m not free yet because I know I’ll be free soon. Because the carrot is close. What an absurdity!
Here’s a small playlist of “slap in your face” videos, dear midlifers on the internet:
BabyRIP is six months old, we’re halfway thru our monthly baby picture project. What is it? Did I tell you Mrs RIP is a Pinterest addicted? Anyway, if you Google “monthly baby photos” you get an idea 😀
What happens at 6 months? BabyRIP can sit almost without support for as long as she likes, but
if when she falls she can’t go back into sitting position. She puts everything she can find into her mouth (be very careful!). She decided rolling is not fun, so she doesn’t move far from where you put her (yet). She started babbling “babbbabababababapapapapapapatatatata” and it’s heartbreakingly fun! Her first sound that resembles a real word is patata, which means potato in Italian 😀
Still sleeping all night long, though less hours than before (more or less 9pm to 7am).
Even though we’re doing our best to immortalize in our brains what’s happening right now, baby time is a high-speed train that passes thru stages at a paradoxically both high and low speed. You don’t remember what your life was before the baby came (thanks journaling and blogging for keeping record of some of my vanishing memories), and at the same time time flies so fast that you can’t savor individual steps long enough. Today she sheepishly does a thing, tomorrow she does the same thing like she has always done it. No time for a picture. Paganini non ripete.
Speaking about pictures, they are the bless and curse of our time. This dualistic nature of almost everything regarding babies is both fascinating and disturbing. Yes, yet another dualism. Taking pictures is necessary. It’s the only way we keep track of Baby’s evolution. When we take a look at older BabyRIP’s pictures we get overwhelmed with melancholy and cuteness. But still we don’t want to miss real-time naked-eye moments, so we try to minimize picture-taking time. Which has a nice side effect of not exposing her to phones and other digital attention drainers too much. It’s an unsolvable problem. We’re looking for our “right” balance.
About our own families: in October both my mother and Mrs’ mother came visiting us. Luckily not at the same time, and – even more luckily – leaving their husbands in Italy. Having grandparents around is not easy. We’re doing our best to define and enforce a consistent and carefully executed strategy on how to raise our daughter, while grandmas don’t care: they just do what they want to do without a second thought on the impact on the baby.
For example: we left BabyRIP with Mrs’ mother for a couple of hours while we went for groceries. Back at home we found baby focused on a smartphone playing shitty toons loudly on Youtube. And if you’re wondering “who cares, what’s wrong with that?”, please take a look at this. We found a nice way to tell grandma for the 100th time that we don’t want our daughter to become yet another dopamine addict on TV and stupid videos. Months trying to reduce her exposure to a phone destroyed by two hours with grandma. They helped with the chores, and I’m thankful for that, but I’m glad we will be grandma-free until Christmas!
I promised I’d talk about Mrs RIP August salary issue. At the time of writing (holy crap, it’s November 20th! I’m late!) the issue has finally been resolved – on paper, Mrs RIP didn’t receive a Rappen yet – but that’s for next month’s update 😉
The thing is this: she ended maternity leave on ~10th august (last 2 weeks unpaid). With unused vacations and overtime hours she should have been covered for the entire month. She told that to them when announcing she would not come back to work and they said “it’s ok”. But then they didn’t pay her August salary. We were expecting roughly 2/3 of her regular salary, we got nothing. plus they made a mistake on 2017 tax at source for Mrs. Plus they claimed to be contributing a higher amount to Pillar 2 that was not true. All of this without ever releasing a monthly payslip. I jumped in the mail thread and asked a lot of questions that lead to a face to face meeting. The meeting was postponed several times and finally happened on mid November so… hold your breaths for another month, no spoiler 🙂
Btw, at the time of editing (it’s almost December, I’m ridiculously late), they paid the “agreed” amount. So we can bury this thing deep and finally move on.
Back to full time parent-with-a-job life, had to beg for time to blog in October.
The month started with my European Early Retirement Guide post, and the following couple of weeks have been devoted to further explore the idea, brainstorm, met people and collect help offers into a doc. I keep postponing the long overdue follow-up post, current plan is “it’s going to be next post”.
[Edit note: no, it’s not. it’s almost December, so… November update and then of course EERG update.]
For those who asked: no, I haven’t dropped the project. I know it’s hard and it requires a lot of work, but I’m still on it with my heart. I just don’t have enough time at the moment to fully focus on it. I’m begging for a weekend alone (that Mrs & Baby could grant me somewhere in December) fully devoted to project kick-off. A note to youngsters with a lot of time: don’t fucking waste it! At 40 you’ll regret having fucked around for weeks. I’d pay for 4 consecutive hours of silence around me! Anyway don’t worry, I’m on it.
I registered a podcast episode #0 with a friend of mine. Something like 2 hours of us talking about FI. The content is in his magic hands and maybe it will see the light this month. Maybe. Anyway I had a lot of fun podcasting. That may be something I want to do more of in the future. One of my goals in life is to become better at asking questions and listening (and to improve my speaking skills) so… podcasting? Why not? Well, main reason so far is that I’m not a podcast consumer, i.e. I don’t commute by car.
I met my friend MustachianPost for lunch in late October, at the end of a month long mail exchange. It’s always a pleasure to discuss anything about life, purpose and projects with him. Problem is: whenever we meet we generate a new bag full of ideas we both don’t have time to commit on. Anyway, I can’t be thankful enough to my blog for all the amazing people it helped connecting with.
I didn’t do the math, but I guess ~60% of my October lunch breaks have been for a reason or another connected to my blog. As David Perell (one of my new discoveries of the month) says in his amazing essay named riding the writing wave (emphasis mine):
Writing has infinite leverage. It creates luck and serendipity, which makes it the most efficient way to network. Conferences and networking events are good for the short term, but writing is the best long-term strategy. Write at a regular cadence and don’t give up. When you have free time, have a bias towards writing.
Still on blogging and networking: thanks to a comment on my blog I’ve discovered what I would define the best new blog of 2018: indeedably.com. Aesthetically beautiful (not common among FIRE blogs), linguistically fascinating, captivating storytelling and… what about scientific solidity? That in the end it’s what we like, isn’t it? Take a look at his home market bias article, just to name one.
Last but not least: I received a gift from Patrick Hundt, a German blogger (healthyhabits.de). Patrick interviewed me for his book about Financial Independence (Ich gönn’ mir Freiheit), but in the end he decided to not include my story in the book. As a kind gesture he wanted to send me a paper copy of if, which I really appreciate! Thanks a lot Patrick, I wish you good luck 🙂
My shelf of “books about FI for which I’ve been interviewed for, in language that I don’t understand” is definitely growing!
Ok, what about this blog?
After a semi-vacation-mode September I’ve able to publish 6 posts this month. More than enough given my limited free time.
I’m experimenting new things like “voice blogging”. No it’s not podcasting… well, I’ve experimented that too, as I’ve already said… or other stranger things. It’s just writing my drafts with voice to text technology. It works pretty well and it saves me some time 🙂
I can “blog” while bike commuting to work (though I would need better microphone), sometimes while taking a small break at work, and even while taking a bath! It feels bossy blogging while taking a bath 😀
Yes, voice to text has evolved enough that strong Italian accent is not an issue. Almost. Ok, sometimes I need to repeat sentences 10 times until screaming at the screen “why don’t you understand meeeeeee!!!”
It’s been a record month from engagement perspective.
It’s not just about page views, I perceive the engagement via mails, comments, requests for help, lunches together and so on.
I couldn’t have predicted that when I started.
And to be clear: I’m observing metrics but I’m doing nothing to improve them except organically. I commit myself to transparency, authenticity, a healthy dose selfishness and a repulsion for everything close to SEO, clickbait-ish, “top 7 money saving tips”, “how to double your salary in 5 steps” and so on. Be yourself.
I’m happy to see that – though slowly – my effort is getting some traction.
And trust me, I have so many ideas, so many “not written yet” posts. I just lack time.
“Yeah RIP, you say ‘transparency’ then you don’t tell us your numbers… cmon, how many pageviews?”
How dare you?? Telling ME that I’m not transparent? You know how many coins I have in my pocket!
“We want moar, much moar. Show uz your numberz!”
Ok, just because I hit a round number with laser cut precision 😀
Creativity, Curiosity, Lifelong Learning
Even though I know it’s tight, I’m willing to steal time from life to feed my brain. And I do. At work, during the bike commute, at home, late in the evening, early in the morning, sitting on the toilet and so on. I read, study, elaborate on, produce. That’s what I want to devote my life to if I had “infinite” money.
And I’m here to share some of the resources I’ve discovered this month, and some of the old one I didn’t talk about yet.
Books: maybe I should switch to digital books. Or audiobooks. I’m having a hard time reading physical books for the simple fact that my available time these days is fragmented and unpredictable. It’s not easy to take a book with you on the potty at work, while a kindle might be. It’s not easy to read a book while biking to work, while listening to the audio version might be. And at home, with Baby around? Is “listening” the new reading? I’m not convinced, there’s something about reading that’s not negotiable for me: the option to proceed at your pace. Are ebooks the solution? I don’t know, I have an internal fight going on. I love reading on paper, I love writing on it (marginalia), I love smelling printed paper. Digital is awesome for blog posts, where I can jump (does anyone still use the word “surf”?) to references and exploit the nonsequentiality of the medium.
I told you all these things just to justify that I only read 2 chapters of “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Harari so far. It’s a great book, I’m loving it, but I can’t find the right position for book reading in my regular day. Reading on the bed, before going to sleep, is no more an option since BabyRIP sleeps in our room. Is it time to upgrade the house? Well, that should not be driven by laziness, I could read in the living room. Anyway, I’m not reading books and that’s not good. I’m threatening the “600 books left” hypothesis.
Resources/People I’ve found/consumed:
- David Perell: he’s a young (very young, holy crap how old I am) writer, podcaster, self declared “lifelong learner” strongly influenced by Jordan Peterson, in my opinion. The article that made me discover David is riding the writing wave where he describes “how to write more and better”. This is not the first time I recommend resources about how to improve writing quality, like Nat, Ryan and few more. if you didn’t notice, it’s a topic that captures my attention. I’m also going to buy books about writing in November. Back to riding the writing wave. The essay doesn’t differ much from Peterson’s one, but you can find there some extra valid points and – more important – a long list of external resources. I’ve previously quoted his paragraph on writing and networking. Here it is, once again: “Writing has infinite leverage. It creates luck and serendipity, which makes it the most efficient way to network. Conferences and networking events are good for the short term, but writing is the best long-term strategy. Write at a regular cadence and don’t give up. When you have free time, have a bias towards writing.” Awesome. And can’t be more true! Other interesting articles by Perell: the future of work, forget more to learn more, hyper publishing. The kid is smart 🙂
- Ribbon Farm: rf is a “brain blog” founded in 2007, a blog about improving your thinking and reasoning skills. I discovered rf via Kevin Simler (Melting Asphalt). [Quick note: I’m devouring such resources. Chain of discoveries: Morgan Housel –> Farnam Street –> Melting Asphalt –> Ribbon Farm –> so many more that I’m going to bother you with links for years to come 😀]. The owner of rf is Venkatesh Rao, but there’s a multitude of writers contributing to rf, including Kevin Simler. One of the first article I stumbled upon was Against Waldenponding. Ah forgot to say Rao also published a collection of essays named breaking smart, and an associated newsletter (season 1, season 2). I still need to get a more opinionated idea about Rao. Someone on reddit said: “Rao has a manner of writing that’s annoyingly similar to that of The Last Psychiatrist – you are never quite sure if what you’re reading is gibberish or insightful“. What’s out of discussion is that thanks to him I discovered many other interesting resources around the concept of rationality. Take a look at the “now reading” page and get inspired. Fun fact: I discovered Kevin Simler’s book The Elephant in the Brain on ribbon farm, not on his own site 🙂
- Book Notes / Book Summaries / Animated Book Reviews: how do I discover what’s worth reading? How do I scale the number of books I’m exposed to? How do I get to the core messages behind a non fiction book in 10 minutes? I know, “thou shalt read the fucking book“, there’s no way around it. I’m not advocating for an inferior in pills knowledge, but having access to book summaries, personal notes, ratings, key concepts may help you decide which books you actually want to read, and – superficially, yes – let you scale your knowledge acquisition faster, though shallow a bit. My “books to read” list is usually driven by book reviews from people I follow. One day I might start my own book review category. Take a look at Derek Sivers book notes, and his FAQ on book notes. He advocates everyone should keep a personal database for books, which is a very nice idea. No other tool scales better. Better than a commonplace book, if your goal is ease information retrieval. Btw, Derek publicly shares his personal database. Another amazing book reviews repository is the one from Nat Eliason. Nat also sells a structured form of his notes in Evernote, easily accessible and searchable, for 50$. I didn’t buy it, but you might find it useful. P.S. Nat rates The Elephant in the Brain (by Kevin Simler) 10/10. I guess I found my next book 🙂 Last one I recommend is from Sam T. Davis. Well structured and insightful, sadly missing his personal rating of each book. On the animated book reviews side, the first and the best YouTube Channel (sadly dead now) is Fight Mediocrity. 5-10 minutes self improvement book reviews with a nice background music and a captivating voice. I loved that channel, please come back! After the rise and fall of FM, tons of other channels popped up: Practical Psychology, Productivity Game, RSA Animates (ok, not books but ideas, still awesome!) and my friend Sophia Colombo 🙂 Go Sophia!
- The Italians: new chapter in the monthly curiosity section, only for Italians 🙂 Yes, Italy is a decaying place, where culture is perceived to be evil and arrogant, and places of command are being occupied by a new generation of idiots. Italy is essentially a beta test for an Idiocracy-like dystopian world. The shortsightedness and close mindedness are infecting everyone, but still some stubborn resistance can be found here and there. I’m here to share what I find worth following from my sinking-ship nation. Sadly in Italian language. First resource I’d like to share is Breaking Italy: a daily deep dive into 2-3 news, ideology-free. Shy (Alessandro Masala) is the owner of the channel, a young Sardinian guy incredibly smart and entertaining. When you hear “you should stop following the news” suggestions around you can now take it literally. Just follow Shy and you’re up to date, with 10x more depth.
Health and Sport
Didn’t do much, it’s almost winter.
Went running few times.
Played volleyball with Hooli colleagues, I still rock!
The scale is stable, but I need to eat better. I eat a lot of junk food.
Few things I didn’t find a specific section to put them into.
Mr WTF didn’t find about himself on my blog, neither did Mr Curious. My Wednesdays in theater are now polluted with me trying to steal quotes from him for an update here. No, let’s not do that. I still want to genuinely help him. Every time the stock market is down he texts me with some variation along the line of “WTF IS HAPPENING????”, while on good market days you’ll find him happy and singing. That’s not healthy, getting so emotional over peanuts. But things are getting better. I’m doing my best to cool down his feelings about short term market reactions, showing myself that “oh, really? the stock market plummeted today? Didn’t even know (I’m fucking lying, of course I know it!)! I’m here for the long game, decades! I don’t care about today 🙂”
I’ve been exposed to startups, dozens of them. once you have money new investment options show up. I’m not saying they’re all good options, but more options is always good.
I was invited to an event at Investiere, a Swiss Venture Capital firm that’s open to private investors. they organize events with selected startups ready for round A or B funds (no seeds) where you can listen to their pitches and decide whether you want to invest in them. Investments start from 10k up. Investiere acts as an intermediary, doing due diligence, screening and contracts negotiation for you. I’m not investing in startups yet, and I don’t know if I ever will. Even though I like the romantic idea of becoming an angel investor (like Tim Ferriss), I’m leaning toward saying no to it. But VC is not angel investing: it’s more structured, companies are deeply scrutinized and closer to their exits. Investiere seems to offer you the lightheartedness of angel investing with the robustness of a VC firm doing all the boring work for you. It’s pricey though, nothing comes from free. They let you register for free and attend their events and startup presentations (a lot of free food there :D), but if you decide to invest with them you incur in a 3-6% immediate “trade fee” (6% for investments smaller than 25k CHF), plus 15% “success fee” if the company exits with at least 5% annualized total return. It seems too much for me. They’re also a young company and don’t have a long track record of successfully funded startups, just a good looking current portfolio of startups that went for successive financing rounds for higher Post Money Evaluations. Not bad, but I still don’t buy it.
More about startups: as a Hooli Engineer I was invited to a startup mentoring event by an accelerator named Kickstart. It’s been an intense day, where I met so many CEO and CTO from early stage startups, and had the opportunity to mentor 2 of them. Early stage startups are much more fun! They are fully immersed in their technical problems, no time for sale pitches. They’re small and friendly, eager for technical help on scalability, company structure, technical solutions and so on. I’ve spent a couple of hours with they guys from teachy.ch, a tutoring startup self bootstrapped that is already profitable. Shut up and take my money! Their passion and focus are contagious, I want to do more of this kind of mentoring. It helped me training my problem solving skill, and I could see from the light in their eyes that it helped them too. And my impact as a software engineer scales more efficiently this way compared to writing code.
That’s all for October 🙂
Starting from November the updates will be back in a single-post format. Time is scarce and I’d like to blog about more things. Well, it’s already end of November, so I guess next post will be the November update. I wanted to find time to focus on EERG update (and many other post ideas), but life looks like this these days. I can’t EERG in my spare time, I need a full day on it to kick-off the project. I don’t think it’s going to happen before mid December. I’m sorry for the ~50 potential collaborators who offered help, we need to wait. But this is going to happen, please bear with me.
See you soon 🙂