Categories
Preparedness

Day 497 and Collapse

You ever find yourself so stressed by a big decision or important event that you become sick as soon as it’s end is in sight? Adrenaline and cortisol take a strained body pretty far, but eventually your central nervous system is like no. I’m not at all surprised by how poorly I feel now that we’ve resolved our dilemmas on housing. In fact, the offer on the house was accepted today. If all goes well, we will move to Bozeman Montana in August. Prayers and chaos magic sigils.

I went to the urgent care center to get tested for Influenza A this morning as my husband had it last week. My Covid test was negative as was my influenza test. But I am coughing so hard it’s a challenge to get a breath in if I so much as talk. I got handed codeine cough syrup and Tamiflu and told to get back in bed. My body knows it can let go. We’ve got the house.

I want to be excited. I want to feel the joy and relief that I know is underneath the exhaustion and sickness. I want to feel the security from knowing my my job is done. We’ve been working towards buying a homestead for years. My husband and I have been doing our homework and working through preferences on the ideal land for what seems like our entire marriage.

But with the pandemic, we finally set about finding a home that could house us for decades. We’d been freed from dreaming about rural living while being stuck in cities and could now go about doing something with our desire to live in the mountains. Work from home changed the game for us completely. We could finally live where we wanted.

I want a homestead because I think we are in for hard times. Abundant opportunity exists to be sure but only for those that are prepared. My husband is skeptical on how extreme any event will be but trusts me to care for our family. Look at me doing the ultimate feminine act and standing for the home and hearth.

And I simply want harder times to be easier for my family. I don’t want my people to suffer because the world is changing too fast for them to adapt. I want to set up my tribe to succeed and thrive in a new chaotic world. Preparation takes work and making strange even crazy sounding bets before anyone else thinks it’s sane. I don’t mind being seen as crazy so long as me and mine are safe. I am a woman. You should fear this primal energy. It’s strong.

Close over the horizon we’ve got a new world of uncertainty coalescing into possibility that is emergent. Chaos will reign. How? Who can guess. Our simian minds can barely grasp the first order effects of our current landscape. Of course, we haven’t figured out second or third order issues from war and pestilence just yet. We just aren’t that smart. How could we ever predict the future? We are struggling to make sense of the present.

We are just now seeing the supply chain issues and commodity shortages from the pandemic collide with our globalized economies. This is just the start of the complexity era. Just wait till fertilizer shortages in global farmlands intersects with the war in Ukraine and the super hot and super dry summers brought by climate change. That doesn’t scar you enough? It should.

Wealth has bifurcated and American cultures are at war. It is literally a culture war playing out as fifty years of consensus in reproductive rights collapses. I don’t kid myself on it stopping there. Our sex lives are about to be the governments business and some folks feel good about it. Some fuckers are celebrating it. We are about to face some weird times and I want to face them on my own land with my own guns.

I am preparing myself for much harder times ahead. Because hard times create wealth. I am putting myself somewhere remote with a cold climate to mitigate climate disruption. But until it’s an emergency I’ve got a top notch airport with daily flights to any city where finance or technology does business.

I’m still on good supply lines but I’m also in a community that can do a lot of trade on the basics of food, water and services. I picked a state that has abstained from the culture wars. I pray it remains a libertarian “live and let place” as I fear for the theocracy that is coming for southern states.

Equally I’m disinterested in liberal states that want to decide how to best allocate my resources. I’ll build my own communities and see to them if I can. Bozeman was a very deliberate choice that came from literally thousands of variables. It’s my last stand where I think I can battle the future and win.

People talk a good game about their vision for the future. They talk up their investments and their bags and their confidence in a whole new world and yet they live in precarious cities and lifestyles a single crisis could derail. I’m telling you that I see chaos and it will not ruffle my feathers. It won’t disrupt my breakfast. And I intend to set myself up to be able to ride it out in as much comfort as possible with as little disruption as possible.

Because I want to win this churn. I want to make money. If chaos is a ladder I will climb. And I’d suggest you consider what you are willing to do to win the next decade. It might not be the collapse. But even the crumbles will require you to change. And if your answer is nothing. I cannot guarantee your comfort in the future.

Categories
Travel

Day 459 and Humiliated

I am inviting a friend with a “bad visa” to spend a vacation with my family over the summer. We’ve got a road trip to national parks as well as a family reunion with full on Boston lobster boating as options for a great trip. It’s a big to do and a pretty quintessential American summer vacation. After the pandemic those kind of tourist dollars are clearly much needed.

However the American government doesn’t seem as keen as I am to show off the majesty of our nation. It’s really hard to get a tourist visa granted if you are not from a desirable nation like Sweden or the United Kingdom. Basically as the American if you invite someone who requires a tourist visa it involves something called a Form I-134. And it is extremely noisy. The goal of the form is to show the Feds your guest won’t become a ward of the state.

They want to know the balance of all my savings and checking accounts, the value of my personal property, my annual income, a list of stocks and bonds, my life insurance policy and it’s cash surrender policy, and any mortgage or real estate. The immigration lawyer said they look for about 10K in assets as a safety net in case something happens so maybe this is easier for people with normal jobs and salaries. I haven’t taken a salary in quite sometime.

But no joke they make you swear on perjury you have these assets and put in a number of scary paragraphs about how the Feds will garnish your wages if your guest applies for any kind of benefit program like food stamps or Medicare. I find it a little comical as it’s practically impossible to qualify for anything but sure guys let’s scare people into reconsidering inviting tourists to spend money here.

It all has the effect of being a bit humiliating. I’m ashamed I can’t figure out the paperwork without hep. The federal bureaucracy has easily felled better minds than mine but also shit I’m pretty smart. How does an average person manage? I feel ashamed that American is so unwelcoming. I’m ashamed my friend is being treated like some kind of potential mooching criminal.

If America is to even pretend it’s making an effort at being a shining city on a hill, we should start by being more welcoming. Treating guests as welcome seems like a good first step.

Categories
Travel

Day 445 and Traditional American Meal

When I was fifteen I lived in France as part of an exchange program. The family I stayed with asked me to prepare a traditional American meal. Because I’m from Colorado I made fajitas. This did not amused my host family very much as it was a real pain in the ass to locate things like jalapeños & avocados in the middle of Normandy. But also because I think they expected me to make hamburger helper or tuna casserole.

As I head into my forth week in Europe I’m starting to miss “American” food. So I ordered Mexican for dinner. In a testament to the strange truth that big cities have more in common with each other than actual countries do, I got some of the best pork tacos I’ve ever had. Just absolutely perfect Cochinita Pibil in Frankfurt.

Maybe it’s my imagination but between delivery apps and Netflix and the expectations of urban living cities have become a kind of default global standard of cosmopolitanism. I suspect this is why the digital nomad has become a thing. It’s not that young urban professionals are actually willing to become immersed in other cultures. It’s that we’ve formed our own culture that is portable to any city of a certain density. Frankfurt and Denver are basically interchangeable when it comes to amenities.

So we bounce from one Airbnb to another with our iPhones and Apple Air computers and we expect a certain standard of cuisine and service and global sameness. It used to be that if you were an American you’d end up at a McDonalds because you were homesick and wanted something that tastes like home. Now I expect to be able to get absolutely authentic Mexican food no matter where I am.

So I guess in that sense I did serve my French host family a traditional American meal. Americans pushed the neoliberal cosmopolitan smoothed edge sameness on the world. And I’m glad I could get good tacos to be honest. But also damn it’s going to be weird when we export cosmopolitan yuppie culture as a traditional Earth meal to the aliens when we finally have first contact. Hopefully they will be less disappointed than my French family was.

Categories
Travel

Day 436 and Got A Guy

“I have a guy” was the most reassuring phrase my godfather could say to me as a child. I’d be trying to get something done or get access to something and he’d tell me a story about “his guy” and how we’d fix the problem. I decided when I grew up I wanted to be someone that “had a guy” for everything just like my godfather.

Before I give the impression that my godfather is a mafioso I should probably clarify he’s a nice Irish boy from Long Island and is a music agent. But agents do have to solve all kinds of weird problems. Heck, I went to him when I was thinking of getting married but wasn’t sure if I was emotionally prepared and he said “I’ve got a therapist” and well I’ve been seeing Dagmar for seven years now.

Needless to say I’ve prioritized networking as a life skill. Not the grimy kind you associate with parties or LinkedIn, but the sort where I take time to meet new people and shoot the shit. If you spend any time on Twitter you’ve probably noticed my greatest joy is just talking with folks. I follow all kinds. And I’m pretty hooked up because of it. I’m usually only one or two people removed from the person I’m trying to reach. Maybe that’s why venture capital has worked out so well as a career for me. I’m a master of the warm introduction.

But after the last 48 hours or so I’ve finally found an institution that I cannot seem to crack. I’m running headfirst into the limits of what my “I’ve got a guy” skills can do. And that system is the United States Immigration System. Apparently I am just not good enough to get an appointments for a tourist visa. I cannot even imagine how hard an actually immigration or work visa would be.

And I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried my Congressman. I tried my Governor. I tried people that have worked for the state department. I’ve tried folks that work in foreign affairs. I’ve tried rich folks that are immigrants. And holy shit I’m getting absolutely no where. I feel pretty fucking defeated. I’m not giving up but I’m starting to realize that Americans have no idea just how broken our immigration system actually is in the wake of 9/11 and the Trump years. We can’t even get tourist visas done. And frankly I’m angry about it. But mark my words I’m going to find a guy.

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 435 and Coming to America

I’ve had occasion to try to get an appointment at the consulate in Frankfurt. I’m helping someone with a visa situation. And holy fucking shit I had no idea how how hard it was to get a hold of someone, literally anyone, at the state department. Now I grant maybe they are a little busy at the moment but I’ve spent over 10 hours over the past 24 trying to get ahold of a person.

First I tried calling the consulate. I got lost in the phone tree several times. After finally learning the proper branches (it’s four steps in) I was able to get to an operator line. It rang. And rang. And rang. And rang. I let it ring for ten minutes. Nothing.

I decided to try another tactic. I went back into the phone tree to see if there was another number. I kept trying permutations. I hit dead end after dead end. Finally I got lucky. They provided a phone number. I took it down. I asked someone else to listen to it to be sure I hadn’t misheard. Our numbers matched. I called. “Your call cannot be completed as dialed.” Ok weird. Maybe let’s try with another country code. Nothing. If anyone can figure out what 032221093243 is supposed to be I’d very very grateful.

So the phone was a dead end. I began emailing. I was able to find a basic visa email for the consulate. The auto response said it was deleted.

In the meantime I had emailed constituent services at my Congressman’s office. I live in Colorado’s Second Congressional District so I am represented by Joe Neguse. They asked for proof of my address and my social security number. I had no idea if the website was secure but fuck it I hit submit. I got a response from a constituent services person. She said she would reach out to the consulate. Amazing! I felt like I was on a path to victory.

Ok….so now what? I emailed the consul again with a different format on a tip from an internet friend. This auto response had a link to a google sheet explaining how to write an email with the proper code to get a response! I sent in an email with the correct formatting to prevent automatic deletion. This generated an automated response. But that email had a a link to a live chat! Fuck yes! I opened the live chat. A bot responded. I answered a series of questions. The bot decided it was time to send me to a live operator. Please hold for a live operator.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited. After 48 minutes in the live chat box a human arrived. Fuck yes! I explained the situation. He said he would check on appointments. Please hold. I waited for another ten minutes. There were no appointments at all. He explained that this meant there were no available appointments. That sadly 999 days till the next appointment meant that there were no appointments. There was nothing he could do.

The next day my congressional support person emailed back saying she had heard from the consulate. So clearly constituent services works great! Alas the news from the consulate was bad. They confirmed what the live chat had said. There was no appointments to be had. They included the same live chat link. The best advice they had was to keep checking back for appointments but it was unlikely to open up. We could check other cities but most of them also listed no available appointments. And they issued a warning. You cannot reschedule too often as after more than two changes to the system you are forced into a six month waiting period before you are allow to try again.

So that’s the end of my Kafkaesque twenty four hours. With no resolution in sight. If any of my friends have friend at the state department that can figure out how to schedule an appointment for visa services at the consulate in Frankfurt (though we will happily travel to any other German city too) hit me up. Until then I think I’ll be lobbying Congress for a bigger budget for our consular services. Maybe even try my hand at immigration reform.

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 432 and Send Me Dealflow

The markets are struggling with the chaos of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nickel prices doubled. Gas is skyrocketing. Central banks are due for rate decisions but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether hikes will manifest. But in my neck of the woods uncertainty is our business. Chaotic.capital was founded on the belief that an increasingly complex world would present opportunities. And I’ve never felt more confident in our thesis.

With chaotic.capital we’re identifying, investing in, and supporting companies that adapt our lives and systems to the opportunities that chaos brings. We like companies that are adaptable. We like companies that help others become more adaptable. If you are still building in the chaos and want an early stage pre-seed or seed stage investor I’d like you to drop me a line this week.

I believe it’s possible to find leverage in chaos. As scary as this moment feels, it’s possible to profit off of the many ways the world may change. Geopolitical instability isn’t going away. That’s got downstream effects. Think supply chains remaining strained and snarled. Commodity prices continuing to be wonky. People on the move from immigrants to refuges. All of these problems will be opportunities for businesses to improve lives and make money. Everything from logistics software to temporary housing falls under the chaotic remind.

We are not scared of weird bets. We like unsolved problems. If it’s easy to model your growth and the exact trajectory to success, we may not be your partner (though we’ve got friends who will love you). But if you have a point of view on how chaos will enable your success, we don’t need a perfect plan, just a possible future.

Just to give you you an idea of how serious I am about finding weird shit let me tell you the deals I’m excited about this week. I’ve seen an occult marketplace, a real time DeFi data platform, a marketplace for vegetable gardens, logistics and 3PL software for influencer boutiques, and AI assisted direct to consumer abortions. No problem is too weird for us. So come on and slide into my DMs.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 431 and 9 Lonely Hours

I was excited for the time difference working in Frankfurt. It’s GMT + 1 which makes it six hours ahead of New York and a whooping nine hours ahead of San Francisco. I had this idea that I would enjoy getting in a full day before any of my American collaborators. Imagine the productivity gains!

But I’ve actually found it lonely. The silence of my social media has felt anything but, well, social. I adjusted immediately to the time difference without any jet lag. I woke up at 7am with the sun on my first day. And then I realized my California compatriots wouldn’t be awake till 4pm my time. Shit.

It’s not as if I have no one to talk to during these hours. I have founders in Europe and collaborators that are in these central time zones. But Twitter and my media news diet is strangely quiet in the early hours. It’s almost eerie. There is something disquieting about waking up before the news roundups hit my inbox. Like the world isn’t awake yet. Except obviously in Europe everything has stashed already.

I had no idea just how much my information environment depended on American filtering. It’s not that I was unaware that I was consuming a heavy diet of American media, but most of my news diet enters my feed through the East Coast media centers and is propagated through the lens of Silicon Valley. The Twitter friends I spent the most time with were clearly mostly American.

This is clearly an opportunity for me to branch out my information diet and my social circle. I’m grateful for the reminder. But I can’t help being a little sad that for a month I’ll be so offset from what I know and love. But it’s also exciting.

Categories
Finance Politics

Day 430 and History Rhymes

If you aren’t following along I am in spending the month working from an Airbnb in Frankfurt. I picked Frankfurt on a whim when I decided to go to Europe. I wanted to work from “somewhere” else after two years of being home. It seemed like a nice central city and I’m a finance nerd (it drives my investments in crypto) so the home of the European Central Bank felt like a great pick.

When I booked the trip the war in Ukraine wasn’t even on the horizon. I was simply trying to get a change of scenery after two years of Covid lockdowns. But now I feel as if it might have been accidentally prescient to be here. Like I’m in some world historical nexus as Europe reorients itself to the next era of geopolitical reality. I couldn’t have picked a better place to absorb the zeitgeist that is going to drive the financial future.

I am going to spend my time here absorbing everything I can about about the currents of past intellectual movements like the Frankfurt School. I am going back to Weimar history and the interwar years. I will go further back to Goethe.

I have this gut sense that there is something I am supposed to learn about history so I can navigate the next decade. While I founded chaotic.capital on the thesis that the world was going to become more complex and thus inherently more unstable I didn’t expect those trends to unfold quite as fast as they did. I thought I had a decade. It turns out the future was already here. History doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme. And if I’m going to predict the next stanza I better start with the past.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture Travel

Day 424 and Meltdown

The zeitgeist is getting stupid and panicky. Which means I’m feeling stupid and panicked. We’ve got folks speculating on nuclear war. It’s all very productive (that’s sarcasm) so don’t be surprised if regular people are on edge for no rational reason. I was surprised to find myself on edge as I know I’m being impacted by propaganda. But knowing isn’t enough to stop the emotional response.

I’m traveling to Europe for the next month and while I’ve got some concern about escalations in the Russian war in Ukraine, there is nothing I can do about it. If things get hot and a real nuclear meltdown happens, I doubt I’ll be any safer in Denver than Berlin. But rationally knowing something and emotionally being integrated on it are two different things. I’m on edge even though there is no point to it. And I am determined to continue living my life no matter the external chaos. I’ve had enough of putting life on old. But that choice has emotional consequences.

I realized how on edge I was when a daily drug I take for longevity and metabolic health, Metformin, was out of refills. I leave tomorrow for a month so I needed to check in with a doctor today to get it fixed. I found myself on the call explaining a bunch of unnecessary extraneous detail to the poor assistant about how I needed a refill immediately but I couldn’t get blood work tomorrow to prepare for a telehealth visit next week as I’m traveling so could I schedule bloods and the visit for April and still get a month refill?

Somehow this simple errand just completely set me off and I felt myself welling up with tears and anxiety. How had I missed this small detail and why couldn’t I communicate it normally? Why did I sound like some flighty woman who can’t communicate effectively? I felt shame and embarrassment overtake me.

I ended up asking my husband for help as I just sounded so loopy and stupid. The assistant didn’t need my entire travel itinerary and the logic for when and why I couldn’t get bloods done. I just needed the refill and to schedule my next visit.

I think we underestimate just how much chaos impacts our daily lives and routines. You can be a zen Big Lebowski type but you are still surrounded by friends who are ready to lose their shit over nihilism or Nazis or bowling Jesus. The world is increasingly complex and our little reactionary parasympathetic system is leaning on evolutionary hacks that are outdated for our current moment. Tigers in the grass are not the same as willingly doomscrolling social media to absorb someone else’s propaganda. Sure they both use pattern matching but it’s kind of an order of magnitude issue.

So be kind to each other as we’ve all been living through two years of chaotic pandemic angst. And now we are asking folks to dig back up Cold War fears. If someone has a little meltdown over a basic choice cut then some slack. And give them a hug. And yes I’m talking about treating yourself better. This shit is wild and scary and stupid for all of us.

Categories
Internet Culture Preparedness

Day 423 and Hot Takes

I am a prolific shit poster. I am a haver of takes. I am a full fledged member of the discourse. But Jesus Christ I never thought I’d see the day where the galaxy brains are feeling good about having nuclear war takes. Literally the hottest of takes.

I am in a preparedness Discord with a number of very level headed people. There are people that I would trust to help me think through surviving a disaster. But none of us are foreign policy experts or plugged into the state department. Nevertheless we are speculating on the possibility that Ukraine’s invasion by Russia could take us there. But we are just speculating!

Now I’m not a Bluecheck media personality on Twitter but I do know what it’s like to have an influential opinion. I’ve got a small platform and I try to use my voice responsibly. Or at least make clear when I’m shitposting. Because people will take you seriously. So you have to occasionally do a double take on your takes.

It doesn’t feel like most people are being particularly careful today. There are a few voices that have got things right in the past that are working though thought experiments. That’s valuable. But the bulk of folks are engaging in some terrible information hygiene. Opinions are being had. But also propaganda is being circulated and disinformation warfare is being waged. So far the West is being clearly won by the scrappy Ukrainian narrative. But who knows what will stick. So he careful out there. We are literally at war. Don’t rush to conclusions or to share shit that looks too good to be true. You don’t want to end up pushing an agenda that isn’t your own.