Categories
Preparedness

Day 407 and Snow Blind

We’d scheduled booster shots for this afternoon. Even though we’ve both recently had Covid, I’ve got travel coming up so I needed to get a booster to get into Europe. I probably have never had better immunity to the disease than I do right now so I’m feeling optimistic about being around people again.

But I didn’t realize it was going to snow today. The forecast said it would lightly snow for an hour or two. So I thought it’s fine to schedule vaccines now. I wanted them right before the weekend so I had maximum time to rest and recover.

But clearly the forecasts were we wrong as we headed into a significant storm to get our shots. An hour later as we wrapped it up we were in driving snow with very little visibility. The roads were accumulating snowfall fast. The normally fifteen minute drive hour stretched into triple time.

Thankfully we made it home safely. And we’ve been shot up for the sake of paperwork. I only feel marginally worse for wear.

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Preparedness

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.

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Preparedness

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.

Categories
Startups

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.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 370 and Grindstone

Today felt like the first day everyone was really back at work after the winter holiday. As much as Americans like to bitch about how Europe takes off August or China takes off January or February or whenever the Lunar New Year lands, we take off much of December. Around mid-month folks drop off the radar and nothing gets done till about Epiphany or so. And they say we aren’t a Christian nation.

So while technically we all came back to work on Monday, today is the first day I really felt like I was back. Maybe it’s because December was such a clusterfuck of a month for me. I had Covid, I tore a ligament, Boulder County burned down. I know this is a petty complaint but I didn’t get a Christmas tree because I couldn’t walk and then I was quarantined. So it was going to take a few days to really shake that off and come into the energy of January.

But I felt back today. Like maybe I could fucking do this. Like all the catastrophic nonsense was shit I could mitigate. And all the optimistic stuff was achievable. And I am going all in on optimism. I’m going to Montana soon to check out towns as I’m just ready to own something more rural. I’m wrapping my head around owning something that is a winter seasonal home. I booked a trip to Europe in a really extreme leap of faith that Omicon will run its course by spring. And I am ready to close some deals I’ve been working on for the last month or so. So fuck yeah grindstone. Im ready.

Categories
Politics Preparedness

Day 367 and Flat Out Grossings

December was a pretty gnarly month for me. I tore a ligament. I got Covid. A fire burned down two entire towns. I’m emotionally burnt out right now and letting myself feel it because tomorrow I go back to work. So apologies if this is even more stream of consciousness than usual.

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a reporter. So I talked my way into an internship at our local television station Channel 8. I loved it. I got to be the assistant for such glamorous events as city council land use meetings. Which is how I happen to have the misfortune of knowing how Boulder became surrounded by suburban sprawl. I don’t have a grand unified theory. I just witness a lot of little decisions that compounded into unspeakable disaster no one could have predicted. Except we did.

There used to be a crappy mall in Boulder. It had a Macy’s and a Foley’s but it couldn’t sustain its anchor tenant department stores even in the late 90s and early aughts. Now big developers and chain stores knew that Boulder was fast becoming a wealthy town and wanted in. Maybe we could upgrade from middle market to premium retail. But Boulder is run by a bunch of hippies and wanted no part of upgrading big box stores. City council meeting turned into an endless parade of “no” to various folks coming in attempting to take over the mall on 28th street. It languished for years.

Eventually the developers gave up. Decided to construct a mall outside of the open space belt outside of the city. You see Boulder is the prototype for NIMBYS. We literally bought up a bunch of land that the town owns and can never ever be developed so no one could sprawl the town. It’s gorgeous and amazing and expensive to maintain and makes Boulder a haven for its natives and an impossibly expensive place if you didn’t buy real estate in the 60s. But I digress. This is about the mall.

The developers called the new mall out on the prairie beyond the town’s open space Flatiron Crossing. It’s an homage to Boulder’s signature feature the flatiron mountains. And the views from up town highway 36 into town driving back from the mall are amazing.

And Boulder honestly felt like it won. The ugly box stores went up around it. Our town was saved from Costco and Chuckee Cheese and Ann Taylor. We all snobbishly called it Flat Out Grossings. We thought it was a nasty money grab. It was wise we let them develop outside the open space band and protected the town.

Except that mall and all the box stores turned into the anchor for all the surrounding towns. We called them the L towns. Well that and Superior. And that’s where the growth happened. That’s what enabled Colorado to thrive. And that’s exactly how an urban fire that was started on Boulder open space ended up destroying so many homes. We pushed out the development thinking we’d done a good thing.

I actually have to stop writing this as I can’t make the point I want to which is that Boulder brought much of this misery on itself. We wouldn’t let the land be developed in town. So someone else did outside of town. And now that land got wiped out from a fire in our open space. And everyone is going to be snide and awful but our policies have consequences and by pushing out our development to Flat Out Grossing the law of unintended consequences has taken over. And I’m sick to my stomach knowing the well intentioned hippies ended up doing so much more damage.

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Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 365 and Normalcy Bias

Today officially marks a full year of writing every single day. What should be a sense of accomplishment is mostly a sense of comfort at my own discipline. It’s an edge. I like to be improving and that takes good habits. Writing daily been an enormously positive influence in my daily life. I don’t have any plans to stop but as with hang habit you take it one day at a time.

I’m writing from Boulder Colorado after one of the worst natural disasters our state has ever seen. Though the experience was entirely unnatural. Gusting winds over 100mph combined with bone dry grasslands to start a raging wildfire in the middle of the suburbs. The front range hasn’t seen snow yet this season so Chinook winds must have rolled over a downed power line. The wildfire destroyed two towns in my county in the space of a few hours. Last I heard over 500 homes were lost.

I’m devastated. I feel genuinely traumatized even as I’m safe. But of course I feel the trauma of the hour. This is my home. My neighbors lost their homes. All the roads that are closed are my daily routes. My fucking grocery store was burning. Another climate driven disaster makes the national news. But it’s not somewhere else. It’s my home. Better active shooter I guess. A comparison we can make in Boulder. Gallows humor.

I was working through most of the fire. Just letting the apocalypse unfold around me as I went about my business. 8 miles away the world was on fire but I had no evacuation order. No reason to stop working. I closed the blinds as I found the hurricane force gusts unsettling. They shook the house. I would check social media on my phone in between pitches and worked on financial modeling. I took an Ativan to calm myself down so I could focus.

I had explicitly known something like this was coming. Maybe not this crisis. But more weird shit was inbound bWe named our fund chaotic.capital. Precisely because we believe stochastic shit will dominate the next decade. We are betting the future will be chaotic so we must bake flexibility into everything. There is good money to be made betting on chaos. Normally bias will lose you money. Chaos is good for business.

So what does that have to do with writing every day? I want to say something wise about bearing witness. But I don’t think I’m capable of living so large with this much fear around me. I didn’t expect the exercise of daily writing would mean writing through crisis. But I should have. Normalcy bias effects me too.

This year showed me stochastic chaos regularly. After only six days of writing the insurrection in Washing’s D.C. happened. And so I wrote because I made the commitment. And then a few months later a man shot dead 10 people in a grocery store down the road. And so I wrote. Because it’s my habit. I didn’t expect to be covering so much chaotic shit in a public journal.

And yet I must have in some sense predicted that life would take this path even if I wasn’t directly in it. Or I wouldn’t have named the fund chaotic. I wouldn’t proudly discuss prepping. This is the world I live in. Chaos is a given and I’m going to work towards a better future. I’m documenting it as it comes with these essays. And I guess we will see how far it goes. Thanks for joining me for the first year.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 309 and Buying Land

Now that the pandemic has fully driven startup land to a remote first culture, I have no excuse to put off buying property. But it’s hard to figure out where to settle and when. Alex and I signed another year lease on the townhouse we have in Boulder last month which means the countdown clock is on.

I’ve been in Colorado a full year and I’ve got another one ahead of me as we ride out whatever the pandemic has left. So while I don’t think I’m headed back to New York City for full time living ever again, I don’t feel ready to buy a home yet either. It’s a big decision with consequences! And I’ve got no idea what to do. We want to invest in a home we can invest in for preparedness.

May the crypto and startup gods bless me with pied-a-terre money on the next exit so I can have access to New York City and live off the grid at the same time! But no seriously I don’t think I can settle in Colorado either. The last summer was unlivable between the extreme heat waves and the ozone pollution that comes from high heat combining with high altitude sun. It’s better in the high country but then you are in fire country. And we’ve had terrible fires in the last year. Apocalyptic shit frankly.

The Colorado of my childhood isn’t surviving climate change. And the prepper in me just isn’t willing to invest in putting down roots in a place with water shortages, drought, fires and the potential for civil unrest. Which frankly pisses me off. I’m sad I can’t just buy a homestead in the Colorado Rockies. I have a whole rant about Boomers and ruining my home but I’ll try not to piss off my elders. I just really wanted to be able to live here.

But that begs the question of where is a decent place to buy a home. Leaving behind civilization for Montana doesn’t feel feasible now either. Alex is too social for that kind of nonsense full time. Being in a small town in the middle of nowhere seems romantic until you want takeout. And frankly I like takeout.

But I also want to invest in more serious preparedness efforts. I want to be fully off grid. I want to invest in our water. I want to do the kind of regenerative agriculture and restorative land work that could lead to a self sufficient life if it came to that. I want a homestead. Heck right now I don’t even have a generator or a fire pit. Because I’m in a townhouse. Which is a lot better than being an urban prepper but I’ve got a taste for more.

But I’m also not ready to leave behind civilization. So I’ve got no idea what to do. Because I’m at the end of what kind preparedness even makes sense in a more urban location. And we don’t own it. So I’m feeling itchy. Should we buy something in Boulder that we can do some prepping on and also a piece of land in Montana? I’m not sure that’s feasible financially. I feel stuck on this one if anyone has got opinions.

Categories
Emotional Work Politics Reading

Day 306 and Shortcuts

I never really thought of myself as a perfectionist. But I have impossibly high standards for myself that may be unproductive.

While I’m sure some of it innate, some of it is nurture. I went to a school system called Waldorf Schools that didn’t have grades. Every child was evaluated against their individual performance and each class was deliberately taught to the best student in the class not to some perceived middle. That’s left me with a habit of always believing I can improve and also the expectation that our average performance must be comparable to the best.

Of course this is unrealistic if one continues to climb up social, economic, intellectual and cultural ladders. I kept looking for my limit and then finding a new mountain to climb. Know I know there will always be mountains. And that perhaps it’s ok to take some shortcuts on your journey.

I really struggle with shortcuts. So am forcing myself into taking some so I can let go of some of my impossible standards.

I don’t scan books. I read them. So I bought a really bad prepper novel and am forcing myself to take shortcuts in pacing and focus. It’s so bad I don’t have a choice. I have to skip a lot or else I just wouldn’t finish.

I had to go to an appointment today. Normally I’d be sure to shower and wash my hair if I need to be in polite company. I showered yesterday but I just didn’t feel like going to the trouble two days in a row. So I put dry shampoo in my hair and opened up weight wipes for my nether regions. I doubt anyone would have noticed but a shortcut in my grooming routine was pretty liberating.

Today is also Election Day. My hometown has a bunch of local ordnance changes and some important bond related measures. It’s also city council elections. I’ve been following all the ballot issues but I just couldn’t find any city council people I liked. I read all the local papers and they all suck. None of them remotely come into my preference wet. So I took a shortcut. I voted on all the ballot issues and left the city council blank. I just wasn’t going to spend any more time picking lesser evil candidates.

These may seem like pretty different issues and maybe I’m also not fully committed to my civic duty (I’d argue as a democracy it’s a right to abstain from a vote if your conscience cannot condone it). But the point is that instead of getting bogged down in every unrealistic expectation I had of myself I could just take a shortcut.

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Preparedness

Day 279 and Takeout

I’m not entirely sure when or even how it happened, but I’ve been eating nothing but takeout. I think it’s some “emotional exhalation” around food. When the pandemic first hit I was in Manhattan. As wasn’t yet clear how Covid spread, we locked down in our apartment and cooked every single meal for three straight months. Probably a record in my life for going without ready made meals. But boy did I miss takeout by the end of it.

I’m sure both facts say something about the privilege I have. I can afford to have someone prepare all of my food in restaurants. And when disaster struck I had the time and ability to stay home and cook. Most folks chose their food based on budgets, literal and time.

As I’ve been concerned about the looming supply chain crunch I now think it might be time to flex the cooking at home muscles again. Letting fresh food linger in the fridge without a plan is wasteful. Whether or not I can afford the waste isn’t the point. It’s offensive to the energy and work of the many people who put their livelihood into feeding others.

I feel this especially acutely as my milk and produce come directly from local farmers. I feel like I’m letting down Daphne if our milk isn’t turned into yogurt or ricotta (or at very least put into my morning coffee). Although I will say I have no good plans for the sheer volume of peppers and chilis my farm share produced. In Colorado it is the chili that’s the crop that goes overboard in your CSA box not zucchini or some other squash. I genuinely have no clue what to do with some of more exotic peppers so send me recipes!