Categories
Internet Culture Politics Preparedness

289 and Apocalyptic Aging

Millennials are aging, but that doesn’t seem to have kicked off the midlife crisis handwringing of popular culture yesteryears. The first millennial are edging towards 40 but it feels like no one is a day over thirty on social media. Maybe because it’s hard to feel like you’ve hit midlife when the traditional markers of stability like children and mortgages feel more like luxury status symbols.

Maybe no one is craving red sports cars and the open road because no one has the security of a home life from which to break free. A midlife crisis seems like an almost comically indulgent thing that our boomer parents did. Imagine having kids and a home and thinking that you wanted to go back to the insecurity of your twenties? And boomers have the balls to call millennials spoiled. You had to have have stability to throw it away first.

I’m an elder millennial and a reasonably comfortable even wealthy one at that. But I don’t have kids or own a house. I frozen my eggs when it seemed like having kids wasn’t financially feasible. My husband and I lived in Manhattan at the time and we both had early stage startups. It seemed like a wise idea to put off the decision at the time. And we never even considered buying an apartment. Tying up all that wealth into a one bedroom apartment was for trust funders not the professional class.

Now it’s clear we can afford children and a mortgage on a house, but it seems crazy to commit to either. No one has a clue what life is going to be like in ten years so why would you anchor yourself and innocent progeny? It almost feels immoral to consider.

I don’t really understand how one can age gracefully when so much of life feels casually apocalyptic. Maybe millennials aren’t acknowledging aging because we live in the stasis of the long now. If there is no future then we aren’t moving into it. Each passing year is just a lucky bonus when nothing builds towards stability.

Not being able to afford children and houses is a blessing if you don’t believe in the future will be better. We’ve rationalized that the basics of the American are luxuries only for the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to live with rising tides and six figure college tuitions. Everyone else is thrilled to have enough cash to buy prepper supplies and pay their health insurance deductible.

And in some horrifying sense it is rational. I don’t trust the political system in America. Which means I don’t trust we can solve pressing issues like climate change or rising debt. So when new and exciting issues like the pandemic destabilize life even further it makes committing to a future even less appealing. There is absolutely a part of me that stopped believing in the future sometime in 2016. Everything went Hobbesian. Millennials are aging but we aren’t growing into a future.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 277 and Supplies

I’ve been watching the supply chain cascade issues for several weeks. Ports are backed up across America, the cost of a shipping container from China has gone on average from $4000 to $19,000, and there is a national shortage of truckers to get goods moved even if they reach American shores. If you are interested in the topic and the possible impacts, my favorite site for preparedness The Prepared has a synopsis without the panic or bullshit.

I reached out to my mom suggesting to her if she had any major purchases or repairs to do so now. She’s been intending to get the shocks replaced on her husband’s truck and moved up the appointment to get it scheduled today. I went through my various preparations for emergencies and realized I was in very good shape. Maybe I could upgrade a pair of boots or consider a new winter parka to upgrade from Uniqlo to LL Bean.

But there just wasn’t much I needed to do. If we had food, fuel, or medication shortages or delays like Britain is experiencing, I am prepared for that. I’m not in a place where I can sustain a full civilization collapse (I haven’t convinced my husband to move to a homestead yet), but I’d definitely be fine if we had a month or two of cascade issues. I am thinking of scenarios like a big winter storm knocking out the power grid and impacting downstream systems like water treatment. Or I-70 gets blocked for a week or two and we have shortages at stores because truckers cannot get over the pass. I mention those two because both happened this year calendar year. These issues are it as rare as you think.

And it struck me how incredibly lucky I am that I can consider something like a supply chain crunch and rather than struggle to afford things like a car repair or a winter coat I can simply buy them. The privilege I have to be a prepper (or a doomer) is significant. And I really genuinely don’t think that should be the case.

America makes big claims to exceptionalism but we regularly have disasters that make us look like we’ve barely achieved a stable economy with functional infrastructure. So if you can prepare for a disaster please do so. The life you save may be your own. But in reality it’s probably more likely to be your neighbors. And we owe it to each other to take the strain off the system so when a disaster hits so we can do better together.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 264 and Shiner

I’ve been eyeing the full recline zero gravity chairs and desk combinations for a while. Because of a spinal condition sitting upright at a regular desk is tiring for me. It seemed like an extravagant purchase as they are well over $4000 at a base model but being able to spend a full work day in comfort reclining seemed worth the investment.

The Altwork chair and reclining desk

Last week I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy the chair on the advice of executive performance coach Dr. Julie Gurner who helped me see that investing in an environment that accommodates my physical needs is worthwhile.

Today was set to be the big set up and reveal day but in the excitement Alex was trying to take a picture of me laying flat while working and he dropped my phone form about three feet over my head onto my right ocular bone. It hit so hard it formed a blood bruise immediately. It was such a shock I didn’t even yell. So rather than playing with my new desk I’m icing my face.

Blood bruise from a phone hitting my face while photographing my new chair.

It hurts like hell. My face is swelling and I’ve got that jumpy nerves thing that comes from a physical trauma you didn’t see coming. So tomorrow I’ll finish setting up my new workstation. Right now I’ve got to stave off a shiner.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 241 and Other People’s Disasters

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana today on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Watching disasters in other cities has the sad side effect of making me go through my emergency gear. After living through Hurricane Sandy in New York I felt it a civic obligation to be prepared for emergencies. Ready yourself so you can help others is my philosophy of prepping.

I spent the morning doing a complete overhaul of my go-bags pharmaceutical set up. It has been a while since I had rotated out some medications and I wanted to add in more drugs for situations where it might be some times before we could reach a hospital or medic. Worst case scenarios crossed my mind.

Disasters often get portrayed as these dramatic events but more often it’s just neighbors helping each other through a bad time. That means I stock a trauma kit along with shit like anti-diarrhea drugs and cortisone. More likely to be itchy and have an upset stomach than a trauma bleed so prepare for the basics first.

But I’ve had the basics down for a while. I’ve been prepping now for several years with increasing seriousness. So sometime this year I decided to prepare for worse. I thought it wise to have a stash of prescriptions for situations where doctors aren’t coming, maybe at all, including antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines, NSAIDs, caffeine, and an array of drugs that are, well, controlled substances and I swear I have legitimate prescriptions for all of them and am monitored by several physicians who work in coordination. But you know, the good stuff.

I say that as if it is remotely recreational to break a leg and require an opioids or be suffering from shock. If someone is having a panic attack because their world is coming down around them I think fuck it this is why it’s good to have an Ativan. No judgements.

Plastic baggies filled with medications.

Disaster hits a little different when you have a chronic disease. You have to think about scenarios where you are actually in the most vulnerable groups. That those worst case scenarios you see on TV could actually happen to you. Shit hitting the fan would actually mean your life if you didn’t prepare. And so I’ve scrapped together a small pharmacy over the past few years. I’ve rationed doses and asked for extra refills. I’ve squirreled away a dose here and there between insurance coverage and extra days. It’s actually quite hard to be able to have as many additional drugs as the CDC recommendation for an emergency. No seriously they suggest 7-10 days of extra medication. Can you imagine most Americans affording that? It’s a fucking slow moving American tragedy we are told how to survive but hobbled in being able to enact any of what the Fed suggest. It’s no wonder Americans don’t trust the government for anything.

The pandemic has solidified this sad truth for me. So I’ve learned new skills. I worry that it’s hard to rely on community when most communities are struggling already. It’s an impossible ask. And so we are forced into another circle of individualism and personal responsibility because really what other option can you imagine having. Because next time it won’t be some other persons disaster on the TV. Next time it might be yours.

Categories
Emotional Work Preparedness

Day 192 and Cherries in Air Conditioning

I found myself eating an entire pound of chilled organic bing cherries in bed while binging episodes of Downton Abbey this week. Watching the British aristocracy cope with modernity poorly seemed like an excellent balm for the climate anxiety that has been gripping me during the consecutive heatwaves inflaming the American West.

I’m a doomer and a prepper but recently I’ve felt completely defeated by the looming impacts of climate change. And I’ve been manifesting it is a kind of orgiastic panic of consumption. We had a windfall this year and it has soothes some of the panic I’ve had about having the resources to survive. Maybe it will be miserable but we might have enough wealth to avoid dying.

But I’ve been spending more on petty purchases of comfort. I’ve bought 2lbs of organic cherries, the large carton of organic blueberries, the $15 bags of dark roast coffee for espresso, and the $10 bar of 95% dark chocolate without a second thought. We’ve had sashimi for lunch and on Friday I ordered a lobster roll. We live thousands of miles away from the ocean in Colorado. We don’t grow or fish any of those crops here.

The excuse I’ve been using is that I’m concerned (nay convinced) none of these things will survive the next 25 years except as extreme luxury goods. If I can see the changes coming should I not enjoy the access I have to food that will no longer be available in my fifties? If I can see the end coming why conserve? I’m not Exxon or BP or some giant mining extraction concern in China. My forgoing small luxuries as an individual will do nothing to stop the catastrophe and I would like fond memories of the taste of a cool tart cherry in my twilight years. Burn me at the stake for it I guess.

Categories
Preparedness Startups

Day 189 and Cascades

One of the reasons we named the fund we invest out of Chaotic Capital is because I’m obsessed with cascade failures. In complex systems one small change can ripple out in unexpected ways. As players scramble to accommodate these shifts, opportunities for power realignments emerge. This is particularly exciting in systems that are man made as we can only create so much complexity in mechanical systems (unlike biological ones). Most startups are built on technology or engineering that are simple complex systems.

The absolute best description of the risks of a cascade comes from the science fiction television program The Expanse and a botanist named Prax. He is describing a failure in the hydroponics system (which both feeds the people and produces oxygen) on a space station on the moon Ganymede.

Because it’s simple it’s prone to cascades. And because it’s complex you can’t predict what is going to breakdown next or how.

While I’m a doomer and a prepper so it was bound to happen, it was this insight from Prax got me into hydroponics. Cascades and chaos and lettuce fuck yes!

But jokes aside, we’ve got a number of complex systems under strain right now. Supply chains, the financial system, our power grids coping with climate change, and even unemployment benefits are all examples of simple complex systems that are experiencing cascade failures.

I’m not in the mindset to lay a Grand Unified Theory of Simple Complex Systems tonight, because I did experienced one today. Colorado just set another heat record today and my air conditioner crapped out. As I set about closing blinds and checking electrical breakers I worried about how my own survival and comfort depends on cascades not occurring.

What if it had been electrical and my refrigerator went out and not just the air conditioner. Then my $5000 a dose immunosuppressant would go bad. If I can’t have that my spine will swell. Then I’ll be in too much pain to walk. Sure this isn’t a simple complex system exactly but I think it beneficial to go up and down the systems that keep our lives intact. If one system goes down do you survive?

This used to be a topic which we all shied away from. Then the pandemic happened and preppers like myself didn’t look quite so whacky. We told stories about the systems thinking that went into basic preparedness. We got a Nellie Bowles Styles piece. It was a lot of fun. But it belies the seriousness with which the topic of preparedness should be approached.

You probably aren’t prepared for some of the cascades that come as the works gets more chaotic. And no we cannot predict it. Shit is way too complex. It’s fucking chaotic as hell. So get some bottled water. I’ve made it easier. Here is what I keep in my go bags. Do it before the next cascade hits. You won’t regret it. I think Prax would agree.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 169 and Heatwave

I’m pacing back and forth inside my apartment. I need to get in my steps for the day and it’s simply too hot to go outside. A record (isn’t it always) heatwave has been scorching the American West for the past week. It’s hot. It’s dry. It is miserable.

Earlier in the week I tried getting up at 5am to beat the heat. But even first thing in the morning it was still over 80 degrees making it downright unpleasant to go for my usuals hour long wander. So I haven’t been outside for several days except to sprint into my Subaru and then into an air conditioned doctor’s office. Frankly it’s driving me insane. My body hates it. My mind hates it.

I’m a cold weather person by temperament and culture. I blame it on my Swedish ancestors and growing up in a mountain town in Colorado where I don’t think we even had air conditioning when I was a kid. Now twenty five years later I haven’t turned off the air conditioner in weeks.

The National Weather Service says temperatures are 10-20 degrees above average because of a heat dome. And also because climate change. I honestly think this jet stream fuckery sucks. I don’t understand how we are supposed to live like this.

A backpack containing a first aid kit and other disaster preparedness supplies.

I am grateful we haven’t yet started fire season. Though I know it is coming. All this time indoors should have me going through disaster supplies. And indeed we did redo our medic kit and trauma supplies this week. We even made our list public if you have been considering doing some preparedness of your own. But disasters have a way of blunting your capacity to do anything. So I’ve been pacing inside, my mind racing but accomplishing very little. Fuck this heatwave.

Categories
Chronic Disease Politics

Day 142 and Optimism

The pandemic has done more to improve my life than to it has hurt it. I have a little survivors guilt as I am not far from family and friends that have suffered but I was lucky. Part of my luck has been tied to my privileged place in society. I was able to enjoy housing flexibility and leave behind an expensive city apartment for a townhouse in my hometown. I was always able to work from home with little fear my income would be impacted by disease or even negative secondary effects. Nevertheless I haven’t felt much optimism until recently.

Part of my lack of optimism has been tied to my health challenges. It’s been two years of working to get a diagnosis, stabilize my spine, and get the secondary symptoms controlled. There were low points when drug regimens didn’t work. Or when it seemed like the fatigue or pain would keep my life away even when primary concerns were improving. I was genuinely terrified going into the pandemic as it did cut off my access to typical doctors visits and more hospital setting delivered care.

But I’ve found significant improvement over the past six months thanks to excellent remote care I was able to receive from functional medicine doctors. It’s almost as if with the operational and physical logistics of care removed the actual outcome of my care improved. I was able to get to the heart of a diagnosis and hone in on effective treatment protocols more quickly. Thanks to this improvement I’ve come to find my optimism again.

Not that I think the world is getting better. If anything I’m far more worried about the many axis of American failure. Our politics has become authoritarian. Our economy increasingly serves only the entrenched and already wealthy. Our interest in mitigating climate change remains low. It’s so bad the best we can do is chuckle at why millennials don’t have kids. It’s because they are selfish right? Nothing to do with how hard it is to trust that the system will ever work for you so why bother investing in the future?

But I am intrigued by the opportunities afforded by the chaos. There is money to be made adjusting us to new realities. Maybe by dint of accidental or unexpected changes we find innovations that change our world. Maybe those will be for the better. And maybe I can help nudge along the better outcomes. And for the first time in a while o believe my body will be up for the challenge. It’s nice to be optimistic.

Categories
Finance Politics

Day 141 and Double Indignity

I’ve always been interested macroeconomics. Even as a child I got very excited about trading and markets eating up movies & books with political themes. Precocious snot that I was I quoted the Economist in my high school year book. So was primed to be interested in Bitcoin from the start. I even had a physical copy of the ur-conspiracy theory of monetary policy “Creature from Jekyll Island” in college. Yes it’s embarrassing. Point being if you are a fiat freak you probably have some opinions about the Fed, a few of which sound utterly wild.

I’d been exposed to questions about money and what drives people to build and create. I was skeptical that we could continue printing currency because I was introduced to economics through the basics. I also had an intuition that this system was making bigger winners of the already advantaged and short term interests, while taking away from long term interests who need their time & money maintain its value on the horizon. Basically I think inflammation sucks for the young. And if you are young and poor it’s a double indignity.

This is why I find Bitcoin so appealing philosophically. The idea that those already in power can inflate their interests over those who come after them offends me. Dynastic societies become ossified. I found Steven Ross’s Stone Ridge investor letter to be a particularly compelling argument for why Bitcoin is a moral good for equity.

Money is, and has always been, technology. Specifically, money is technology for making our wealth today available for consumption tomorrow. Modern Americans with a ‘What’s water?’ mindset about money – virtually all of us – assume there is a sharp line of distinction between what is money and what is not. That’s false. Instead, throughout history, various monies (note: plural) have always existed1 – simultaneously – along a continuum of soundness, subject to competitive monetary network effects. Sound money – along with language – were the first, and have forever been the most important, human networks responsible for human flourishing. Imagine life without them.

I think Americans especially the monied elite interests are simply becoming too entrenched to the detriment of freedom here but most critically around the works. We have no incentive to let the rest of the world compete so we are rigging the game in our favor. I don’t like it morally even if it benefits me personally (though arguably not as much as it does Boomers and the old). I’d rather Earth compete as one as this drives our progress. Anything less is serving a double indignity to the least privileged among us.

Categories
Chronicle Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 73 and Trutherism

A significant snowstorm has hit the front range of Colorado. In downtown Boulder it looks like we have about two feet of very dense wet snow accumulated at 4pm Mountain Time.

It however came about 36 hours later than predicted. And this has caused significant consternation. A good chunk of social media in Colorado yesterday turned into “snow truthers” dunking on meteorological work being a scam. Some folks made weed jokes. The National Weather Service even took time to scold the skeptics.

Even a slight miscalculation in timing seemed to break trust as it looked like the hype wouldn’t match the reality for a day. This despite the storm arriving with exactly the quantity predicted and blizzard conditions that closed the major freeways including I-25 and I-70.

I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the skepticism of meteorology and the current distaste for the epidemiology profession. The tone was distinctly similar to culture warrior angst about how scientists continue to get forecasting wrong. And yes getting it wrong is to the detriment of freedom and business. Except that in both this storms case and with Covid19 it’s been directionally correct. The impacts of policy has been the issue but not the direction of the data.

I’m not the first to worry about people bloc distrust of institutions and their information. I engage in plenty of skepticism on a range of issues from medicine to monetary policy. But no longer trusting basic information on timing, duration and impact no matter what the field because “the powers that be” are always inherently untrustworthy is getting to be exhausting. This is going to cost us lives as we begin to distrust even the banal and easily verifiable.

Public policy isn’t the same thing as public forecasting and we’ve lost sight of that. We should always be updating models and assessing impact. It just seems like a shame that we’ve decided any error in predictive work now negates the entire body of work.

The storm came in Colorado. It was a little late. Covid was a global epidemic. I guess the only upside is that it’s a little harder to dismiss two feet of snow. Truthers eventually got snowed in just like the rest of us. We’ve already seen the consequences of not having the evidence right in your face with covid. Whole portions of the population have split out their realities. The chaos of complete institutional distrust will come to be a defining feature of the next decade. I don’t have a clue how we get it back.