Internet Culture

Day 386 and Pressure

I have been feeling a little disconnected the past couple days. The rising feeling that the zeitgeist isn’t coalescing around a shared narrative has been unsettling.

I usually feel a strong sense of narrative. Maybe because I’m a veteran of the internet’s propaganda class. I was a mercenary in the marketing and media space for the formative years of the social web. If anyone has natural immunity to disinformation it’s the people who manufacture it for a living.

But I can’t tease out who is placing what stories right now. I can’t even get a read on what stories are common knowledge right now. It’s like nothing is winning. There is no story capturing all our imagination at the moment. At least nothing beyond West Elm Caleb. We can agree that Tik Tok is toxic but we aren’t sure where the pandemic is headed, what politics will prevails, or where the markets are headed.

You’ve got to be careful in a toxic information climate like this. You can easily get suckered into attention holes. The more we fixate on the story of the moment the more anxiety you will feel. The zeitgeist isn’t legible. The only way you can protect yourself is to anchor what you know in core beliefs. Don’t let any one stop dictate your mood or shift your focus. Center yourself and you will be less affected.


Day 385 and Jinx

I’ve been on the hunt for a homestead. My husband and I are keen to own a resilient home. That’s meant a lot of house hunting and general effort being put into finding land. We also would like to maintain a home in Colorado even though we don’t believe long term the climate and water issues will extend our time here beyond a decade.

We thought we’d found a mountain house that furthered our home ownership goals. We’ve been dancing around an offer and had put in all the effort to move money, set up inspections and otherwise prepare to close at the end of the month. I thought for sure we can discuss this at least a little. Maybe share it with family and get excited about it on Twitter to friends.

Well that was a mistake. A structural engineer we brought to check the building found deal killer issues. It’s quite literally sliding off a mountain. There is no cheap way to fix it. It’s a quarter million dollar problem.

So we jinxed it. The house is untenable. No deal. And I suspect I’ve learned a lesson on counting my chickens before they have hatched. Housing in America is expensive and messy even when you’ve got money and free cash. No wonder we’ve got a housing crisis.

Chronic Disease

Day 384 and Power Save Mode

I was convinced today was Thursday. I sent an email to my doctor confirming the appointment I was sure I had. She sent back a confused but it’s Wednesday response. That’s how I knew I went into power save mode.

I do my best to carefully cultivate reserves of energy. I used to have an attitude of “don’t save any for the swim back” as now I know I need to balance expenditure and recovery. I’ve been stopping when my battery is partially drained. So I wasn’t entirely sure I had over done as it’s been a while since I overshot my energy. That’s progress for me.

Yesterday I missed the signs for a migraine coming on. I was focused on something else and found myself surprised when I was vomiting and needed the lights off. Today I was so drained I went to lay down for a minute and found myself taking a three hour nap. Even though I had a good night of sleep. I wasn’t in a sleep deficient.

I was just in power save mode. I’d gone below the reserves I’ve have so carefully cultivated for the last year. Knowing that I’ll keep working on my reserves. I’ve got big plans coming up and I need to be operating on full capacity. So that means respecting I need to recharge now.

Emotional Work Startups

Day 383 and Good at What I Am

Startups are a privilege. You meet people who are exceptional at what they do. Brilliant qualified people who are so capable you could spend your whole life working and only achieve 10% of their innate capacity by natural talent. But the real differentiator is never the talent. It’s the acceptance of who you are. You can’t just be good at what you do. You have to be good at being yourself.

Be good at what you do. Then be good at what you are. Startups require both.

I struggle with this and watch many others who struggle as well. I am brilliant at connecting and amplification but terrible at details and logistics. I used to hate this about myself. I’d beat myself up when I’d get performance reviews that said I wasn’t detail oriented. I thought it was a moral failing. But guess what? It’s just a regular failing. I doubt I’d be great at my actual natural talents if I also had to be good at my failures. Accepting your light means accepting what cast shadows equally.

It’s hard to do. Our coping mechanisms praise us for our good traits and claim full responsibility for achieving them on our own merits. Equally we disown and assume divine intervention or forces outside our control drive our vices. We cannot be responsible for our failures. We only like to take responsibility for our wins.

And I get it. Accepting your shadows is hard. Our parents and our social circles show us who we are supposed to be. Show us what to strive for in the good life. If we are loud we are told to shush. If we are shy we are urged to socialize. Acceptance oh who we are isn’t encouraged. And for good reason. We must push to grow. To become an adult requires effort and work. But we must always remember the ultimate goal in becoming an adult is to become who you are. If you never accept yourself you will never be truly great. And the road is long so start getting good at being who you are.

Internet Culture

Day 382 and Your Truth

I’ve always hated when people say shit like “well that’s my truth” as it gives credence to all kinds of elaborate personal fantasies that make living in civilization almost impossible. But also perception is reality. So while it gets frustrating when people insist on their own set of facts, I can’t really blame anyone for relying on their personal feelings.

I’ve often been afraid to share my personal truths. I’m afraid I’ll be judged for my feelings. I’ve got a number of feelings that are easy to dismiss if you happen to be a fan of many traditional systems of morality.

For instance, I don’t think marriage needs to be about nuclear families. I’m perfectly fine with it being for political or financial power. I think people should start dynasties by combining resources. Which if you go back to really traditional systems of human civilization this take wouldn’t be super shocking. But it certainly sounds shocking to my family and friends that I’m all for multiple spouses. Do I think this works for most people? No, I think paired coupled monogamy is probably right for most normies. But I’m all for people trying shit that isn’t normal if it meets their life goals. Go start your empire king!

Now I’m not saying I’m living this way. Obviously I am a married white woman from the upper class. But I’d be lying if I said my marriage was all about the romance. I do want to build something with my husband!But I think it’s perfectly fine to say different people can live in truthful ways that are different from me. I’m not remotely trad. I’ve got different values than people who marry their high school sweetheart and raise kids. But explaining that makes it sounds like I’m so terminally online normies can’t ever relate. I’m conservative but not trad. Which if that is legible to you I’m glad we are friends. If it’s not then whatever. I hope it’s ok that my truths might be different than yours. Don’t worry I’m a libertarian so I won’t impose it on anyone but myself.


Day 381 and Homestead Shopping

I just got back from a whirlwind week driving across Montana. I’ve been researching homestead properties for the last year or two but I hadn’t done much scouting outside of Colorado. The Marshall Fire that burned down two entire towns in Boulder County about 5 miles from my house had shook me. My husband and I decided it was time to begin more seriously looking for a safer place to live as climate change continues. So we got in the car and headed north.

Ironically this week we are also closing on a mountain house in Colorado. And yes I realize it’s a bit contradictory to panic about an urban wildfire and then buy a home in the mountains. It was a bit unexpected but we made an offer on a home in a town I happen to love about twenty minutes and an additional 3,000 feet up from Boulder. So basically prime fire country. And strangely I’m ok with the risk as it won’t be our only residence (at least not long term). I decided the desire to live in the mountains was worth pursuing now while we still had the chance. Who knows if in ten years Colorado Rockies will be considered insurable. It’s now or never.

Our current thinking is to use the mountain as our winter home and rent it out during the spring and summer high season. While it’s rented out we will decamp to work on a homestead property in Montana. We know it will take time to fully develop the kind of resilient off grid home we want. It’s a long term project that we suspect will take a decade or more. Frankly we need to make a commitment to buying something while rates are low, we have the free cash, and before inflation gets worse. So we’ve gone from never owning a home to deciding we will own two! It’s great feeling decisive.

Our focus in Montana was finding what areas we liked and where we could see ourselves investing in significant acreage. We want a homestead that has the capacity to get through disasters both natural and man made. That means buying land we can cultivate for both farming and ranching. Well the gentleman farmer style.

Quite frankly I can’t manage the heat in Colorado in the summers anymore so going north was a priority for climate change. Montana is increasingly being viewed as the new Colorado for folks who grew up in a rural Colorado and miss it. But we still want the amenities of a well developed town within half an hour or so. We want Boulder but the kind from 20 years ago that had less climate risk and fewer people. Naturally we checked out both Bozeman and Missoula. I don’t know where we will land but we had a good time exploring. We figured if we could tolerate Montana in January then the nicer months will be a breeze. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the homestead and preparedness journey. And in the meantime if you want to rent a really nice mountain house in the summer drop me an email.

Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 380 and Decisive

I’ve felt decisive recently. I’ve been confronting significant and life changing decisions the last few weeks and sailing through them. I’ve never felt more at ease making commitments in my life.

It’s not that I’m particularly prone to paralysis by analysis. Generally I’ve been able to move quickly and without undue agony over my choices. But I think within the last two months I’ve simply got my limit with taking the safe course. Maybe it’s a Covid thing and now that I’ve both been vaccinated and had an infection I no longer feel like I can continue with the same safety practices that the early pandemic did. With the election over and the existential threats of insurrections and instability now existing as a permanent worry, I just put off major decisions. I can’t wait for better times or more information. I need to live adaptability now.

So I bought a house. I committed to the process of buying land in another state for a long term resilience based homestead. I’ve planned trips travel. And not nearby regions like travel. I’m going international. I’m meeting people I haven’t seen for years. In some cases I’m meeting people I’ve only ever known online because socializing has been entirely remote for going on three years. That’s an inhumane way to live for extended periods. Even the most introverted person still needs connections. I’ve started making decisions to live my life. I need to live like a future exists or I will never ever escape. As soon as I made the decision to believe in a future again decisions flowed easily.


Day 379 and Red vs Blue Poverty

I’ve been scouting for homesteads so I have been making forays further from the city enclaves and blue liberal towns that are my normal haunts and out into rural America. Poverty in the context of blue cities has generally meant homelessness and panhandling. But poverty in rural america looks different.

NIMBY (not in our neighborhood) cities won’t let you just pull up a double wide on the outskirts of town. That brings down property values. I mean theoretically so does tent cities, but that’s an argument for another day. But I haven’t really seen a lot of RVs or mobile homes simply because I’ve lived in yuppie Boomer cities. NIMBY land has “standards” and if you can’t meet them we’d rather you be unhoused than accommodate uglier but more humane options.

As I’ve driven through industrial western cities I’ve seen a fuck ton more rural poverty than I expected. Which is naive and stupid of me. I’m aware of median American incomes. Not everyone can afford suburban townhouses and most developers aren’t interested in building that kind of housing outside of well gentrified places.

As I’ve gone further afield to towns that rely on commodity products like oil or minerals or cattle, I’ve noticed a reliance on temporary or low cost housing. You see a lot of decent well maintained working trucks. But a lot of the housing is as bare bones as you can imagine. And it’s ugly as sin to the NIMBY eye but at least it’s fucking housing. I’ve seen a lot of trailers in various states of decay but I’ve got to imagine it’s better than a tent.

I don’t have a real point here other than to say that America is hurting. No one can afford inflation and if we’ve got stagnating opportunities it’s going to blow up in our faces. Blue cities should be embarrassed as fuck by allowing massive unhoused populations when we’ve got prefabricated options. But the American crumbling is bad in any form.


Day 378 and Greenhorn

I’ve been running around the mountain west as I’m looking to buy a homestead. I’ve got kind of an elaborate master plan involving mountain houses & ranches and finding a set of living circumstances that works with climate change and social uncertainty. It’s a lot.

This means I’m doing a lot of social signaling to show people that I’ll be a good neighbor. Every place has its own social mores and expectations. I’m trying to show folks that I’m a good daughter of the inter-mountain west. But I’m also someone with the means to acquire property and invest in their community. But I’m also someone who appreciates the ins and outs of rural living. And well the list goes on depending on who I need to impress and about what. Every niche has its hierarchy.

It reminds me a lot about the process a first time founder goes through when fundraising. You are frantically signaling to different constituencies that you will fit into their expectations and worldview. But you do this dance while being completely new and naive to what matters. Being a greenhorn is bad for business. Doesn’t matter of that business is ranching or raising a seed round of venture capital. Alas everyone starts somewhere. So first time founders are often distinguished by how fast they can figure out all the shit they don’t know and fix it.

I’ve got a first time founder I’m excited to be investing in that I’m coaching through a fundraise. He knows his field and business, but he is a total greenhorn when it comes to raising a round. Just charmingly naive to the ways a round comes together. Alex and I are both frantically trying to school him on manners and customs before you can accidentally fuck up something that can’t be unfucked. It’s hard work getting someone schooled up on all the little signals that can doom a deal. But it’s also our specialty.

The particularly challenging aspect of a first round founder is just how much social signaling can be life or death for your company. Maybe if I’m up in Montana scouting property I need to show a certain set of mannerisms but the worst that can happen is someone won’t do business with me. If you fuck up a crucial deal point for ignorance or send a social signal you don’t mean, in venture it can sink your deal and your reputation without you even knowing it.

In venture, someone not doing business with you probably means your company dies. Early stage angel and pre-seed venture investors teach their asses off with new founders to avoid this fate. We can’t afford you being a greenhorn because we know it means death for the business. So if it’s your first time as a founder and fundraising, do yourself a favor. Recognize you are a greenhorn. Find an angel investor or advisor who you can trust that will teach you the manners and social signals you need. Good ones love this work. And you can reward them with advisor shares and pro-rata on your cap table down the line. If you are looking for someone like that drop me a DM.


Day 377 and Fucked

I was having a conversation with a colleague today. I didn’t know them well so I was amused and surprised when our conversation took a left turn into “everything is fucked!”

It’s not that I disagree. If anything I strongly agree shit is fucked. But I’m not used to a normie getting apocalyptic on me. I didn’t know them well enough that they would have had much insight into my politics or views on systemic collapse. Rather it was two work related people discussing just how uncomfortable daily living is right now. We laughed about how the massive wildfires that burned two Colorado suburbs was already last week’s crisis. And it’s not funny since it was my town’s crisis.

There is an unsettling realization among regular people that life isn’t getting back to normal ever again. That some rubicon has been crossed and even the most normal among us senses that something is wrong.

Have we all become doomers this last year? Has every little crisis finally piled up high enough that it breaches the preoccupation with daily needs and obligations. I don’t like that it’s now common knowledge that shit is fucked. I’m unsettled we agree that life is on a hard left turn. I miss optimism being common knowledge.