It was a long week for me. I was in Albuquerque last week as my company was hosting a meeting with industry colleagues. The meeting went pretty good. It’s that when you’re the one hosting, you have responsibilities over and above the norm. And those things eat at you and take away from your rest.
Another thing that takes away from your rest is too much drinking and partying. It’s part of the gig, so I won’t complain. But damn, I’m getting too old for this. One of the colleagues bought Louis XIII cognac shots that were $325 each. Ouch! I would like to say it was delicious...it wasn’t. I think the world of the guy that bought them, but he’s in a different world than I am.
We stayed an extra day so that we could have a Product Development meeting with our CEO. He didn’t show up. He didn’t even bother to be in Albuquerque where the rest of the people were that were supposed to attend the meeting. It was very disrespectful. This morning I read this Dilbert cartoon and thought “how appropriate”.
Reverting back to the purpose of this blog, early retirement. I’m inching closer to that point. I almost said I was getting closer to that destination. But I know that it’s not really a destination. A destination denotes a place to stop. I can’t let it be a resting place. I think that is the way my wife sees early retirement. I don’t want to quit working, I want to explore the different meanings of work. And yes, there is a freedom aspect, but I know that I won’t be happy not working at all.
I read an opinion article about Post-Truth today on my phone. It’s titled “Truth isn’t the problem, we are”. It’s theme was that truth is in the eye of the political beholder and we, as a society, will not accept any truth that doesn’t fit into our political cubbyhole. It’s as if, on one of those baby toys with the pegs and holes, you had a square “Truth” peg in your hand and tried to fit it into your round “political narrative” hole. If it doesn’t fit, it must not be true.
But one thing that was mentioned was political “Allegiance”. Allegiance isn’t a word that we use on a day to day basis. But it’s something that we practice more and more. Unfortunately, it’s just a word without much meaning when we say the “Pledge of Allegiance”. But more and more we’re giving our allegiance to politicians. We’re either in total allegiance of Trump or we’re in total sedition. This is not just with Trump. The same thing existed with Obama, there’s little left/right difference in this phenomena.
I fall quite a bit into the right as it comes to politics. I believe in small government. But I will be damned if I will be “Allegiant” to any politician. There are things that I like that Trump has done and there’s a few things that I like that Obama did. But they are all fallible and they are all human (despite some evidence to the contrary).
We need to get back to the place where we negotiated things that fell more toward the center. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill were bitter political enemies, but my understanding is that they realized that to do the public's work, they had to negotiate and compromise. We are no longer doing this and we’re worse off because of it.
Why can’t we compromise anymore? I’m thinking that what passes as “News” will not dare to let it happen. If any Republican wandered into the Gun Control issue, they would be lambasted by Fox News. If any Democrat wandered into the immigration issue, CNN and MSNBC would lambast them (as would the major networks, but I’m not taking sides in this post). So they stay, not only on their side of the fence, but they stay just as far away from the fence as possible.
I leave you with the first portion of the poem “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats. Check out the whole thing here. The rest of it is rather dark, but I think this portion is apt.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Folks, keep your “News” consumption to a minimum. The center is not holding.
So, I spoke to a customer / colleague this past week and asked how he’d like to have a representative in the Chicago area. This particular customer has his office in the Houston area, but they are definitely have a national presence. He sounded pretty interested.
I have once again become pretty psyched about striking out on my own. And as if there were signs from the internet gods, I ran into a couple of different blog posts that were inspirational. The first was from MMM called “Money and Confidence are Interchangeable”. As an MMM fan for a long time, I know that per his parameters, I could probably early retire now. This post clearly insinuates that I lack confidence. There’s probably a lot of truth in that. But I also think that there’s some safety in being conservative. But then again, safety is often an illusion (must have read that somewhere).
The second post that I saw as a sign was by “Waffles on Wednesday”. This is a blog that I run into occasionally that I really like too. They recently put together a series called “Small Businesses on the Path to FI”. Though this was more tactical than inspirational, but that fits a real need too. Not knowing how to set up a business is as daunting as walking away from a paycheck.
So, do I have the confidence? I’m thinking that I’m gettin closer...
I just returned from a few days of vacation in Florida. I went fishing with a few family members down in Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Lake Okeechobee is a huge lake and is famous for great largemouth bass fishing. And it was really great. We had several 5-6 lb fish.
But here’s the thing, we had a guide. The guide baits the hooks (yes, we used live bait...apparently that’s the way it’s done there), casts the rod and hands it to you. Then, when you get a bite, you fight the fish. The guide nets the fish and hands it to you and then he’ll take a photo if you like and then you release the fish.
Let me first say, the guides were great guys and were really good at what they do. I in no way wish to disparage them. But the process left me feeling a bit...like a cheater. This is more than luxury, it’s an extravagance. It’s an indulgence.
In general, I like to think I’m a minimalist. I don’t like to indulge. I track my gas usage. I track my electricity. I cut coupons. I enjoyed the result, but I just didn’t enjoy the process. I couldn’t help but feel like a rich bastard.
And past that, I had all my decisions made for me. I didn’t even get to decide where the line was cast. So where am I going with this? I guess that in one way, I’m saying the obvious, we’re getting very lazy in this country.
But on the flip side of that, I think there is a glimmer of hope. If a person wanted to make a living providing a service, what service is there out there that we wouldn’t pay for? Is this a sign that we are are flush with money in this country? I certainly realize that I am very fortunate that I can afford such luxury. I just feel a little hinky consuming it.