Categories
Emotional Work

Day 703 and Day of Rest

I love a good Sunday. I love a good Sabbath. I love a stolen afternoon away from the demands and observations of the wider world. Getting away from it all, even if it’s a just a few moments stolen away from the world for a private reflection, is in fact a great gift.

I’ve got a tendency to engage in unproductive self talk when it comes to relaxation in particular, but more generally with feeling like I can take time for myself. I’m sure this is a relatable trouble in the hustle bound addiction driven workaholism of startup land.

The guilt I feel about being unproductive overshadows the enjoyment of necessary restorative activities. I’ll “should” on myself. My ego protection insists on it. But I am trying to stay in the adult portion of my mind which can remind my inner child that it’s alright to have a little fun.

And I did have a little fun today. Not because I engages in any hobbies or particularly exciting fun activities. I just took care of myself. I lifted weights. It was leg day so maybe that counts as fun. I took my once a week extended shower where I scrub, exfoliate, shave and condition every applicable inch of my body. Obviously I’m not shaving my head use common sense. Then I spent 90 minutes immobilized a foot masks. No winter feet for me! I meditated. I did some heat therapy. I used the Theragun. I got a little bit high and ate lunch. I took a nap.

I am feeling rested and happy about the entire day. How nice that I was able to enjoy being in my own body. How nice I could take enjoyment from something restorative. Yes I want to justify it with promises of added productivity to come. But it’s ok to just enjoy the pleasure for the thing that it is. Enjoy your life.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 702 and Fight or Flight

Being extremely online is physically quite taxing these days. We’ve got these amazing dopamine casinos that are constantly rolling out the exact animal attention our novelty wired brains crave.

And absolutely the entire world of causes is out there competing for your attention. Everything from sugar water to white nationalism is being sold on social media. And we are just click clicking away not even being concerned about how we are getting radicalized into redder or blacker pills. We are riding all kinds of unhygienic dick and I fear we’ve got some kind of STD that affects common sense.

And while I just made up an entire disease for comedic effect, I do think being steeped in a reactionary culture is bad for our bodies. We can’t always be in fight or flight. We cannot constantly pump the stress hormones. Too much cortisol is at the root of a thousand different inflammatory diseases. And trust me you don’t want one of those. It’s quite literally a pain.

Information warfare is being waged and your eyeballs are boots on the ground. And just like every other grunt in any other Great War, the powers that be think you are expendable.

And you’ve got to ask yourself if you think it’s worth dying for some other man’s culture war. Has he done something heroic for your life? Given you anything? Or is it just all a story being sold to you and from which, sadly, you profit little.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 701 and Frozen Goods

My Black Friday purchases are slowly making their way from warehouses in Denver or St Louis or other parts unknown to me in Montana. When I placed the orders I was so excited for the good deals.

But instead I’m just finding new disappointments. Four out of six items I ordered from Splendid will have to be returned. A pair of pants from Lunya is simply made for someone taller than me. And the remaining pieces of the order from Nadaam still hasn’t shipped yet. I hope my new negligees from Skims don’t disappoint as my track record on soft goods isn’t looking so great. Failures all around.

I’ve also had a few issues with trying to order cosmetics. I do a big order with Briogeo once a year. It’s in transit during a very chilly day. It was 10 degrees when I woke up. And I’ll admit I’m concerned about receiving a complete frozen bottle of shampoo. And it is expensive shampoo too.

We’ve had this issue before. Ipsy and Allure monthly boxes show up half frozen in the mailbox for a day. A Sephora order went straight to our mailbox where it sat for two hours before I got the alert it has arrived. It was cold but not fully frozen. I am afraid to look up how much efficacy is lost if retinol is frozen. What about vitamin C? How bad is it to freeze your cosmetics?

Because we live out on country roads and outside the town limits, we find our packages are often delivered by men in pickup trucks doing piece work contracts. They are nice folks but there isn’t much they can do about an expensive skin cream freezing solid in their open pickup truck bed. I would try to buy things in person but we don’t have a Sephora here so that catalog order life remains how people get stuff in rural America.

I used to have concerns about melting cosmetics when I was in Colorado. So perhaps freezing is an improvement. But I’m definitely wondering if we will need climate controlled options for certain kinds of deliveries in future for items that need a moderate temperature band. It could be a brand issue to have your product not work because the chemical bonds got wrecked by extreme weather. And we are all about to get more extreme weather as a normal feature of daily life.

Categories
Culture

Day 700 and Focus

I’m noticing a latent fear in the startup management classes. How do we know if people are focused? Maybe it started with work from home skepticism. But now it’s become an all encompassing yet amorphous fear that nobody is focused anymore. And I have a theory.

It’s all projection. The fear is coming from inside the house. The world is so chaotic everyone is struggling to stay focused. This includes your manager. This includes your manager’s manager. Even your CEO is struggling to shake off the clinging entropy that emerges from constant crisis. And because shit rolls downhill everyone is now flailing around attempting to show they are doing their jobs even as they know they are failing. Even though it remains unsaid because it’s impolite to tell your boss he can’t focus.

The constant chaos that is tugging on our collective capacity to focus is quickly eroding our entire social contract. Not because no one does their jobs anymore. But because we want to be set up to succeed. Because “doing your job” is a point of pride for most people. We like to reliable even if we know there are limits to what we can deliver. So collectively we are hyper vigilant for fraud even as we lack all accountability to each other because we’ve got to protect ourselves first. Self care right?

I don’t see how we get out of this state of fight or flight without a significant changes to culture. Surveillance capitalism isn’t very effective at driving value. It is very good at exacting any drops of it from people attempting to maintain their own dignity. See for instance the railroad workers who have no flexibility in their scheduling. Now with added Congressional oversight!

Categories
Preparedness

Day 699 and Storms A’Coming

I love preparing for a big storm. It’s all of the fun parts of preparedness with none of the dystopian fantasies that sidle up to larger types of resilience & doomer chores. A big snowstorm is prepper-light, all the taste and none of the calories.

We’ve got a big snowstorm coming into Southwest Montana that is likely to close a few passes and drop significant snowfall. We’ve yet to map how predicted snowfall in town matches our actual snowfall. Sometimes it’s two or three times as much. If town is getting 4-6 inches, I’ve learned to expect at least a foot. I’d be thrilled if we got the 2-3 feet that is predicated for our neighbors in Big Sky & Yellowstone but it probably won’t drop that much on us.

The last time I wrote about preparing for a big storm was the day of the Marshal Fire in Boulder. I wrote about how I do all the washing and cleaning before a storm hits just in case we lose things like heat and water. Little did I know I wasn’t preparing for just snow that day but for one of the most devastating fires in Colorado history. Freakish outcomes have become commonplace and we humans adjust our hedonic treadmill to accommodate the bad and the good.

So I’m excited for the little preparations we get to make before this storm comes into the valley. I did an inventory of our fresh foods. Recipes and meal planning were done to reflect existing purchases (we’ve got a New York strip that is calling to me) as well as what could be easily incorporated into new meals if we stay snowed in.

Alex put a plowing plan in place for our driveway and parking area. We brought in wood from the cord that is stored in our hay shed. A run to to the grocery store and the dispensary is being down as we speak by my husband. The dispensary is next door to one of the cheaper gas stations so that’s a double win. Always remember to gas up before a big store. This includes diesel too if you have a tractor or snowblower that needs it.

My last chores will be doing laundry and washing my hair. As we recently had some well pump repairs I’m feeling relatively confident about water staying flowing but you never regret a fresh head of hair and plenty of clean dry socks.

Categories
Culture

Day 698 and Looking Ahead

I’ve got the sense that people are writing off big chunks of time. The long now has so thoroughly burned out everyone that who cares about achieving anything in the medium term right? December is a wash. Heck I’m talking to folks who have wrote off all of 2023 and even into 2024. The now and the long term are all that matters.

And I’m actually quite amenable to this viewpoint. I’ve still got to get things done before the end of the year. I’ve got fundraising to do and deals to close. I’m excited for how 2023 will go as a down market is a builder’s market. But I understand the frustration with trying to plan ahead when everything feels like it is crumbling. The medium term feels like a sand trap sucking in your attention and emotional energy.

It takes a guts to walk through a dark valley of despair. And we’ve got a lot to feel despairing about at the moment. But just because it is all doom and gloom doesn’t mean we’ve got no reason for optimism. People are resourceful and humans as a species are shockingly good at problem solving.

So I guess what I’m saying is I’m feeling good about looking ahead. Maybe it all takes longer than I’d like. But maybe it stops me from engaging in brute force efforts that are going to burn me out. We all just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Categories
Culture

Day 697 and Chivalry for Women

I was having a conversation with one of my girlfriends today about power. We are both exploring the new ways in which we’ve become more aware of our inherent power. Not that we were not powerful when we were younger but rather we have a new consciousness about it’s responsibilities. And it’s relationship to our gender is complicated.

One of the most dehumanizing aspects of Girlboss culture was how it forced female founders into rigid standards of acceptable behavior and emotions. We were surprisingly heavily policed even though we were allowed to use femininity to allure and entice. Girlbosses were empowered. Except occasionally we were only empowered with sex appeal.

Girlbosses looked good on magazine covers and in lifestyle content. It was honestly suffocating even as it was a massive tactical advantage. Imagine being given a cheat code or a level up. Of course you are going to play it but sometimes it takes the joy out of the game.

I am less adverse to the wiles of the feminine as I get older. Now I am able to wield the benefits of mutual viewpoints and seeking common ground. Women are trained to persuade from a young age. We are trained to be accommodating and without hostility or anger. It makes it easier for us to seek out where we might come together.

But those powers of persuasion can also feel manipulative and narcissistic. Men who have felt failed by their mothers can feel particularly hostile towards feminine power. Negative family orientations towards women from siblings to parents can sit in completely irrational and reactionary places for men. I say this because men occupy a similar place for me. Mommy and Daddy Issues can often materialize in stabilizing coping mechanisms. But ultimately it’s not a healthy exchange of power if it’s not consensual.

I dislike having power that I only wield because of my gender. I would prefer to have a less charged environment to pursue my fortunes. But I am also not adverse to playing my hand. You’ve got to play it as it lays. Different women have resolved these power discrepancies in wildly disparate ways. But we are not absolved of the ways in which we hurt men just because we have been hurt by them.

One of the great oversights of the feminist movements may be our lack of a developed gentlemanly style code for women. A theory of chivalry for not playing fair in the gender wars. We certainly expected it of men. If you wield power you must do it responsibly. Peter Parker principle applies to anyone with gifts that can be used for good or evil.

Categories
Medical Startups

Day 696 and Edge

I’m enjoying a migraine this weekend that was both strong and as of yet unbeaten. Perhaps I overdid things on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But I’ve been stuck in bed in a dark room for the last 48 hours or so.

While this sounds a bit miserable, I can assure you it is also part of my edge. When my physical works shrinks my cognitive capacity unfurls. I very much liken it to the traditional super hero dilemma of being gifted with something that makes living a normal life a challenge.

I may be stuck inside struggling with light, noise and smell but I can still do most of my core deep work. I can’t take calls or go to meetings but I can be on my phone and my Kindle. I can intake information and I can synthesize that information when I’m in darkness.

And that is 90% of my job. Be informed and make the best decision you can. Those decisions are generally done when you are calm and fast. And I get the benefit of being in rest and digest as often as possible as it’s what keeps me alive.

I’ve got a generalized theory related to finding one’s edge. It’s pretty simple. If other people perceive it as a weakness but you understand how to wield it as a strength then your got an edge. People dismiss you sure. But being underestimated is one hell of a way to get on the better end of a trade.

And so while I’m here looking like I might not be worthy because of some set of heuristics that’s have typically worked well for you I’m actually the one that has a leg up on you. You would do well to think about all the ways in which you can leverage talent and insights that trade below their value. You can make a lot of money betting off of truly underestimated viewpoints.

Categories
Culture

Day 695 and Pareto Focus

Perhaps one of the odder aspects of millennial culture is our enthusiasm for embracing middle age. The excitement of passing into one’s middle and late thirties is palpable on Twitter in particular.

Our Boomer parents still think of themselves as “young at heart”, while millennials are grasping at any semblance of stability that comes our way. Buying a house, watching your children grow up, and acquiring items like minivans are luxury life events.

As culture and civilizational mores careen towards ever more swift changes, millennials are caught between a desire for the stability of previous types of adulthood while also being forced to constantly adapt to new expectations. You are being buffeted by changes that are swift and unrelenting. It is chaotic. You wish fervently to get out of constant fight or flight to the safety of being middle aged, even as the firmaments of past social stability are going down around you.

I believe this is contributing to a serious tension in our work lives. I’m tentatively calling it Pareto Focus to synthesize two concepts. The first being that 80% of the output is from 20% of the work (more commonly known as the 80/20 rule). “Focus” because we have little incentive to grind out focus on the remaining twenty percent of refinement if the rules of the world are changing too fast for expertise to ever be rewarded.

I see this in myself to some extent. I’ve done the work to become a competent working expert in several overlapping fields. I’ve worked in the desire trades including luxury, fashion, and cosmetics.

But I’ve not seen any point in pursuing them to the logical extension of specialization because the chances that the world shifts has always felt too great. Better to understand his desire and attention drive the larger market and refine those skills so even if the winds shifts I will still find work.

This has had a lot of positive effects. I focus on inverting as it allows me to apply the vast array of Pareto knowledge I’ve acquired. And it lets me continue working to intake the 20% of the new so I can I’d enjoy the fruits of the 80% of results.

Obviously I’m simplifying this a great deal. I am genuinely expert in many areas and hold myself to high standards because I’ve met the specialists who have done the long hard road to refinement. And I know where their paths have diverged from mine. Some of it is simply personality driven. Generalists and specialists are needed in any system.

But I do think Pareto Focus might be a phenomenon that’s driving labor allocation and focus in a wider generational way. If change continues to accelerate, you cannot blame people for doing the math on what it takes to survive.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 694 and Buy Everything Day

When I was a hippie kid growing up in Colorado I was a fervent believer in a “holiday” called Buy Nothing Day. It was a campaign heavily promoted by a magazine called Adbusters which saw itself a culture jamming organization.

It felt cool and hip and maybe even a bit new to protest excess consumption in the era when globalization hadn’t yet experienced the bitch slap that are the last twenty years of history not actually ending. Teenagers are obviously a bit prone to over simplifying the world and I was no exception.

Now as a jaded veteran of the retail and luxury wars, I think it was the height of white girl naïveté that not shopping one day of the year meant shit. Now I pile all of my shopping into Black Friday. Instead of it being “Buy Nothing Day” it has become “Buy Everything Day” for me. I know how much brands are riding on my choosing to spend and I hold out the bulk of my shopping to extract maximum value.

I bought 2 tee shirts, one cardigan, 3 cashmere sweaters, one pair of silk pants, one cotton robe, 2 slips, 2 bras, and 3 pairs of tights. I bought a jumbo size shampoo and conditioner as well as travel sets. I also bought a luxury face cream, highlighter and other sundry cosmetics even though most of the cosmetics I prefer aren’t even on sale today. We also bought 4 scented candles for the house. Alex bought a pair of Chelsea boots, a new gun safe and a hunting jacket. In other words, we shopped till we dropped. We went full American on the day.

We’d hoped to buy new dishes and a few pieces of furniture as this has also been the year of outfitting the house but alas we just couldn’t figure out enough deals ahead of time. Black Friday is often a mess of confusing offers and marketing bullshit. It’s been made dramatically worse by the wave of direct to consumer brands who claim to give you better deals but often do little more than obfuscate where you are getting ripped off. It’s lowering trust by insisting that you are getting something better when you know you are not.

It’s with that knowledge in mind that I’ve come to terms with the reality of American consumption. I’ve come full circle on Buy Nothing Day. I recognize that shopping is the full contact sport that drives everything else around us. And so long as I’m embedded in that system it serves little purpose to be obstinate or contrary. But equally it serves no purpose to be taken advantage of by these brands either. Getting a deal is a very American kind of battle I’d rather win. As of yet there is no option to remain off the battlefield. But one day it may be gone for good. Until then I’ll buy my cashmere in discount.