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Preparedness

Day 506 and Walking The Talk

I had a spectacular two weeks of writing from the deepest places in my soul. We made significant and long lasting decisions for the family and the direction we want to take our lives and our investments. And yes I do mean that my husband and I are moving to Montana. One day I’ll be so proud to have captured that moment in our lives on paper.

So of course this past week I’ve done nothing but worry and fret and write about that worry as my physical body decided it was safe to be a bit sick now that we’ve done that hard work on making a big life decision. Even that mess of feverish writing ended up delivering some amusing written insights.

I’ve had to remind myself basically hourly that I’m alright. That all the uncertainty of the world is something I can live with. Indeed, it’s something I’ve planned for over the course of years. When I jokingly insisted we should name our family office chaotic.capital it seemed like an amusing and edgy piece of branding. Now I’m caught up in the reality of just how fast the thesis is playing out.

Frankly I am scared. I am scared because I can see just how hard things will be. Some days I feel like I’m beyond excited to actually be right. But then I remember the chaotic thesis sucks to live through even with the best resources and preparation. And all I can really do is walk the talk. Nothing is as terrifying as being prepared for hard times and then simply having to live all the shit you said would happen.

Because of course all of the macro big picture things that I’m planning to invest against are things that make my life harder too. I’m disabled with a chronic health condition that is annoying to manage in good times. My personal wealth is subject to the same market forces as yours. I have had to deal with the overheated housing market as a non-homeowner. I still have to act in the same face of the fears as everyone else. Am I modestly protected and buffered by privilege? Yes I’ve been sprinting to acquire it for year to get it. But here we all are and now is the time when a steady hand with a prepared mind can thrive.

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Emotional Work

Day 500 and Halfway There

Five hundreds posts is a nice even number. In my heart I find myself fantasizing that I am halfway there. Halfway where? The emotion of a midway point is somehow powerful to me. That I could have known when I started that I’d make it even 100 days let alone 500 seems preposterous. And yet now that I am here I have the quiet confidence to say that yes I will make it to one thousand. That is what I’ve learned from writing every single day. I’ve learned I can do what I set out to achieve.

Writing every single day has transformed my life. I say this without guile or metaphor. I just drove back from Montana to Colorado today. I left Bozeman with the expectation that I’d be returning to spend my next decade in Montana. When I set off on this experiment to write something every single day I didn’t expect tangible impacts. I did it because I thought the exercise would be good for my thinking and my writing. And instead I found that the daily discipline pushed me to life my life more honestly.

It’s been good for my emotions. To have to bring some part of myself to every day and genuinely be present has quietly and slowly grown capacity to be present in the world. I’ve learned more about who I am as a person. I’ve learned more about my needs and wants and boundaries. I learned about how I love and who I love. By ruthlessly prioritizing one activity, I came to see what my actual priorities could be with some investment. Writing is the discipline that gave me the framework to become myself.

And so here I am picking a place to spend the next decade. It will be a huge transition. We are going to be rural people after decades of city living. Because finally we can.

I can’t tell you that all of this emotion about moving is about the pandemic and how much I’ve experienced it as profound sense of displacement. It’s all true. But also I’d been unsettled by illness and medical leave long before lockdown. I have felt like my life was unanchored for sometime. Previously I’d been a Manhattan woman through and through. And then an escape presented itself and I found myself longing to go through to see what else I could find.

We didn’t commit to rural living at first. We went to the Hudson Valley. The first foray out of the city after a decade didn’t stray too far afield. We’d seen friends of ours find farm houses nearby. But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t have the mountains we longed to see.

As our first summer wore down, we after an intense two weeks, decided on a townhouse sight unseen in Boulder. We’d discussed a move to Colorado for almost two years prior to that. We’d run scenarios on how we could pull it off. But it seemed like a fantasy. But then the pandemic made work remote possible. Plus telemedicine meant I could leave my doctors beyond a days drive. I was finally free to do what I wanted without it being a huge risk to my health.

And this is why I say the writing was so crucial. Doing it every day slowly focused my mind.

I’ve had five hundred careful days of assessing the life I was living. I had five hundred days where I thought about what I valued and what I wanted to invest in. And it paid off. Suddenly the things that I’d never quite seen clearly were manifesting themselves in our lives perfectly formed. And it was clear that we needed to make the leap to take these dreams and make them real.

After five hundred days of writing, I have a new sense of clarity on my desires. I am shedding the weak and thin desires. And I am honing in on where I want to build and with whom. And yes much of it centers on being in Montana and living a life of resilience.

I’m totally serious about the chaotic.capital thesis. I am preparing for a more volatile world and I plan to be as present and grounded as possible in it. I’m an American and I’m proud of what that used to mean. I’ll be building out there with everyone else who makes the choice to live a real life and make real things. It’s not going to be easy but I’m not going to live life on anyone’s terms but mine.

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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
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
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 393 and Red Pilled

Maybe three years ago William Gibson was promoting his new book. It was the last event I attended in a pre-pandemic world so it stands out to me. He gave an interview where he mentioned reading a novel by Hari Kunzru called “Red Pilled” and that he found the plot as a plausible near future.

I immediately bought a copy as I’m heavily influenced by the prescient near future work of @GreatDismal. The book was about a member of the blue check media class slowly going stark raving mad because of an elaborate right wing alt-reich troll farming operation. It was uncomfortably clear on the kind of elaborate cultural war tactics that goes into pilling normies. Dank memes and slowly you are accepting the aesthetics and touchstones of former Reich minutiae or Nordic runes or pick your mythical volk white mythology. Memes are dangerous gateway ideology kids.

I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. Then I lived through the pandemic becoming an elaborate death cult ritual with totemic significance for both warring sides. I realized we are in the middle of a massive meme war for the soul of internet culture and most of us don’t know we are victims yet.

Walk down one wrong hobby hole on Reddit and suddenly you have become friends with folks with more than passing fascinations with authoritarian culture. Honestly it’s freaky as shit and I’m absolutely socially friendly with people who don’t think I’m a fully autonomous sovereign individual. And yes I mean both socialist Soviet apologist Tankies and TradCath beach fascists.

The latest example of mass hyper object cultural murmurations might be the Bored Ape Yacht Club. And not in the way you think! It was brought to my attention by Venkatesh Rao and he clicked together some signs I’d registered but not processed. It’s entirely possible someone pulled a QAnon semiotic culture jacking with everyone’s favorite NFT project and made it so we all consumed a bunch of Nazis culture.

Which sounds like a deranged conspiracy theory by woke activists but might actually be true. Someone did quite a bit of homework on the BAYC aesthetic history and it’s connection to racist reactionary political traditions, but it’s inherently unreliable as the story is being told by another elaborate culture artist. Who the fuck knows? Are there even sides to this kind of culture war? Can I be a conscientious objector?

If even a fraction of the wild associative leaps are premeditated it would be a kind of aesthetic scandal on par with the country electing a reality show host. A couple nRX message-board fascists cosplaying as Zombie Nazis grift 4 billion dollars in market place from venture capitalists and gullible celebrities. What a collective failure to repudiate literal Nazis! Lol. Maybe this means our unconscious might think some of this is right? Oh god maybe we did read a human biodiversity essay that made a convincing point. We seem to be a lot closer to black pilled. Fuck. Is this psychological warfare?

Honestly I hate this fantasy so much I hope it ends up being the largest milkshake ducking in history. Except at the end a whole bunch of us end up simping for the technical value of a bunch of Hitler memes. Fuck I’d die if this is how we all got pilled on antique fascist aesthetics. I’d love it even more if Peter Thiel were involved so the left wing conspiracy types could build their own QAnon metaverse. Already we’ve been warned about meme magic and the spiritual traditionalism that is animating a global new right. And I’ve got to be honest some of the threads going around have some elaborate research and narrative work. It’s propaganda level and designed to be compelling and confusing.

BAYC is of the most intricate hidden trolling campaigns in history created by very intelligent 4chan-related trolls who have hidden lots of nazi and alt-right innuendoes across the collection I’ve gathered enough proof to confirm it.

I honestly have no idea who is playing who in this saga. I’m think @vgr is probably right that even the terminally online struggle to make sensible or legible this level of signaling. So we brush it off. But it’s going to be an inception vector. So be careful when you react to an event. You might be primed to respond to their propaganda and not even know it.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 391 and Breath

Daily overstimulation is starting to rub the pressure sores of America’s downer induced depression into a full blown mental health crisis. Like, even more than usual. War with Russia in the imagination, inflation and market volatility coaxing a recession, culture war skirmishes over every basic fact in the pandemic, along with generalized anxiety are fucking us up focus wise. And every propaganda outlet and publicist on the planet is having a field day.

I’m listing to The Prodigy’s Breath and mumbling lyrics like pyschosomatic insane. So I guess, come play my game?

I try not to listen too much music as it overstimulates my nervous system to be honest so its kind of rare for me to have Spotify playing. I’ve got a finely tuned propaganda radar that benefits from sensing subtle shifts in tone and extremely online discourse. I can’t do that if I’m too worked up from the rough stimulus that comes from pop music. I mostly use it to run my portfolio and investing but sometimes I think I should really be used in the service of some autocrat or multi-national. I’m the doubt factory

I guess it is nice I can make a buck during the end of the empire. I’m one of those post structuralism, post-capitalism babies. A regular Bane “born to the darkness” of hyper objects like markets and climate change. So I guess I’d better be molded to being the kind of villain that survives a world of agitprop and meme warfare. Thanks Adbusters!

Frankly I’m having a fucking blast. Sure I’m scared I don’t have my homestead property all shored up for civilization hiccups, but I’m of the mind that the crumbles is going to take a while so might as well enjoy the gains that come from a massive upheaval. I guess its true venture capitalists are ghouls. I mean at least we aren’t private equity carrion birds but it is wild that the system rewards a class of people that invest in creative destruction.

But even as I want to paint myself as bad, I do stereotypically think what venture capital does is often good. We can’t predict second order effects. Chaos theory doesn’t let us see all the future paths. But stochastic as shit power laws are just math so we’ve got a shot at accidentally making things better. So while the agitprop tries to sway your opinions might I recommend you just Breath? That is my professional advice.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 376 and Unnormal

I’ve been going about my life as if everything were normal this past week. I had meetings. I did long term strategic planning for various business interests. I went to a doctor’s appointment. I went grocery shopping. I went house hunting for a mountain house. I was living life.

But absolutely nothing is normal. The doctors appointments needed extra planning as old of the offices burned. Going to the grocery store was particularly emotional as I was so sure we’d lost it in the Marshal Fire that completely devastated two entire towns in Boulder County. Much of my planning meetings incorporated issues related to uncertainty on government interventions and the concern of regulatory overreach.

It feels totally normal to be concerned about political uncertainty and incorporating the aftermath of a climate disaster into errands. It is absolutely “unnormal” to use a term I heard on the “It Could Happen Here” podcast. Shit is just getting weirder and weirder. And there is absolutely no evidence to suggest we should expect life to ever return to some kind of normal. There is no “before times” normal I’ll ever see again in my life.

I say this as someone who is investing time and money into finding a homestead that I wish to be resilient against the background of an uncertain world. I believe things will get worse. And I’m actively taking steps to make my life more livable and productive even in worse conditions.

Because I don’t want another wildfire close call. I don’t want to be totally dependent on supply chains that have natural vulnerability to disease or weather. On Reddit this week our local sub had 200 comments on an empty milk refrigerator at Whole Foods. The discussion couldn’t decide if the issue was the wildfires that destroyed other area groceries leaning to increased demand, that the rival chain was having a strike labor action so more people were shopping Whole Foods to avoid crossing a picket line, or that too many Covid cases hit the trucking company that does Amazon’s logistic legs meaning goods never made it to the store. And what’s wild is no one seemed that worried that even on of those issues would have been viewed as a national crisis a few years ago. This was just all part of living our new unnormal.

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Preparedness

Day 351 and Preppers

The smartest people I know are preppers. Not the end times doomers and apocalyptic types; preppers I know are regular people who happen to have the means to get ahead of disasters. And they are quietly preparing for a much harder century ahead.

There is a significant amount of optimism in my world right now. Crypto and web3 has done well for startup people who saw the promise of blockchain early. But also more traditional startups like SaaS companies are having boom times as well. Every aspect of the pandemic has made life appreciably better for technology workers of all kinds.

Permanent work from home freed us from expensive cities like San Francisco. A stock market buoyed by stimulus made our equity heavy portfolios soar. We have been able to isolate if we want. We’ve had only the upside of the pandemic and born few of its burdens. We are the undisputed winners of the pandemic. And we see how that victory is fragile. An accident even. We did little to earn our comfort.

And so we are preparing for bad times. I’ve got multiple friends who have moved to rural communities from metropolitan cities where they have lived for decades. They are investing in farmland in some cases. In others, just little upgrades like gardens and chicken coops in small towns provide a bit of resilience. Gentleman farmers are making a comeback. Homesteading is to millennials what “back to the land” was for my boomer parents. Some of it is cozycore but a lot of it is genuine desire to get back to making things that keep us alive.

I’m seeing it increasingly from people who work in finance as well. There is a kind of quiet consensus that it’s wise to prepare for winter. Even in the midst of growth so impressive even the Fed is finally acting on inflation, the savvy finance folks know our world has risks. We talk about downside protection and portfolio diversification. But we also quietly talk about tail risks, complexity science and anti-fragility.

It’s not the we are Cassandras assuming that we live in a permanent bearish state. We aren’t convinced that if Rome falls so do we. If anything most of us are optimistic bulls who believe the best case scenario could show us into a new exponential age. But also many of us live in America. And who knows if America’s political situation will remain stable. Our liberal party can’t govern without panic and incompetence and our conservatives are openly adopting populism that flirts with fascism.

Add in that the regular climate driven catastrophes are now weekly. We are all aware it could be our homes in the eye of the next storm. And well it’s rational to be concerned that the world will be more chaotic. Some of us, including me, are convinced it will be an age for making fortunes.

But we aren’t idiots. We believe in scale, specializing and capitalism. We’d also like to know how to manage our own vegetables out back. It’s wise to know your local farmer and dairy. It just tasted better. We know it’s more resilient. Being decentralized may add in some additional friction. We think that’s a good thing in some cases. Why do you think we invested in Bitcoin?

Now I’m not saying we are right. I have no idea when or how some kind of disaster will befall us. But I am saying it couldn’t hurt to have some bottles of water and a couple weeks of food on hand. I’m saying you should prep. DM me if you need help.

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Preparedness

Day 325 and Preparedness Reading List

Since I’ve been yakking on about being a prepper recently I thought I’d take a moment to share my recommendations for thinking about a more resilient life. They range from the extremely practical to the oh shit I hope I never need this information.

Homestead & Practical Skills

Escape the City by Travis J Corcoran is literally pound for pound the best value in preparedness. It focused largely on folks who want to build up a piece of land or otherwise want to homestead. But it’s extremely practical advice on everything from planning a home to what tools and skills you will need.

Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery: an absolute classic with everything from recipes to practical how to guides. If you want to see what practical skills might be for you this is a great start.

Back to Basics edited by Abigail Gehring: it’s not as comprehensive as Carla’s encyclopedia but it’s a bit more accessible if you want to think about gardening, food preservation and the like.

Land book by Neil Shelton: a very specific little book on how to evaluate and buy rural properties for families.

Emergency & Disaster Preparedness

Beginners Guide to Emergency Survival Preparedness by Jeff Kirkham and Jason Ross: these dudes write the Black Autumn series which is a weirdly racist but packed with surprisingly good detail fiction series. Their beginner guide is actually short and reasonable information on preparing for the 3-10 day emergencies.

Urban Preppers with Pets and Kids by James Mushen: exactly what it claims. I used to be an urban prepper and it’s one of the first books I read after Hurricane Sandy got me prepping. Likely the first place to start for most of you.

Philosophy

Lean Logic by David Fleming: it’s subtitle is a dictionary for the future and how to survive it. This isn’t practical so much as a deeply comprehensive look at a world that isn’t flooded with cheap oil and requires a more decentralized approach.

First Aid and Medical

The American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook: pretty self explanatory. This is the text everyone uses when they get certified.

The Survival Medicine Handbook by Amy and Joseph Alton: preppers love this doctor and nurse husband and wife duo. The book is super practical and frankly you should pray you never need it. But if you are outdoorsy you appreciate that medicine looks different if a doctor isn’t on the way to help.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 323 and Fantasyland

I’m very open about being a prepper. I think it is a moral imperative to be resilient if you have the means to do so. When disaster strikes, which it inevitably does, being able to support yourself and your neighbors frees up first responders to care for the genuinely needy.

Because of this belief I’ve been investigating homesteading seriously for the past two years now. I’ve got concerns about the typical issues someone with exposure to finance has; worries about inflation, the social impact of labor being a poor store of value with currency debasement, & widening inequality. I am also deeply concerned about the rise in populism and the predatory graft of the far right. Add in supply chain worries and the effect of the pandemic on living standards and you can see how I’d prefer to have more control over my own basic needs.

But my plans to go off grid has always had a bit of a fantasyland element to them. While I would love to move to northern Montana and invest in a large property I didn’t expect I’d be able to do that immediately. I needed to get to know the towns, watch an illiquid market over months if not years, and also remain proximate to civilization as I still plan to maintain a career in startups and finance.

But yesterday my husband and I came across a property outside of Boulder Colorado that met many of our criteria for more prepared living. An unobtrusive property on an acre just outside of town that I jokingly called greyman as you’d never guess it was built out for resilience. It has 100% solar with insulation & a wood burning stove for backup, there is a working well that irrigates the garden & orchard, its got a hothouse & a chicken coop, it’s on a reservoir, it has a workshop & an artist studio, and well I could go on. Now I’ve got no idea if it will pass muster on an inspection but as you can see I’m already dreaming of the possibility. It’s not something I’ve absolutely got to do so we can very much walk away from a deal but I’m interested. Enough that I’m looking at mortgages and bringing in a contractor to take a look.

Now I don’t need all of those things right now. The reality of maintaining a vegetable garden and making it through a canning and preservation season isn’t lost on me. Actually building the muscles for true resilience is something that happens over years. But that’s also why I want to start now before it becomes a must have. Learning how to feed yourself when you’ve got no choice isn’t a situation I’d recommend.

We underestimate the work that goes into maintain a healthy, comfortable, warm and well fed life. Mostly because capitalism breeds specialized labor. Which is good in my book. We’ve achieved so much with it. But any complex system is less resilient. So you’ve got to acknowledge that the tail risks are there and real. So if I’ve got a chance to begin on 70% of my ideal preparation while still keeping within my budget and also staying within civilization for the time being then I’m going to consider it. It’s time to move out of fantasyland.