Quite a month

March was, without a doubt, the strangest month that I’ve ever been privy to. It had ups, and it had downs. Mostly downs.

We’re still waiting for answers to questions over the health and wellness of the US, and the world at large. The financial sector continues to be in an uproar, and unemployment claims are skyrocketing. And all anyone can really ask is, “When will it end?”

The best news in times like these is to remember that it will end. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to move near-fast enough towards its resolution. But we don’t always get to control the speed. All we get to control is how we respond to it.

Some are better prepared. Some are less affected. Some are struggling to get by. Yet, we’re all a part of the new landscape, and its unclear still what the new normal will be.

Why facts and figures are just facts and figures

There’s a lot to be said for statistical analysis. Aside from the obvious, “There are three kinds of lies,” statistics help interpret the real world into manageable bits that our brains can digest. Because, if all we took in was raw data all the time, it would be difficult to make sense of anything.

Once information [from sensory organs] is processed to a degree, an attention filter decides how important the signal is and which cognitive processes it should be made available to. For example, although your brain processes every blade of grass when you look down at your shoes, a healthy attention filter prevents you from noticing them individually. In contrast, you might pick out your name, even when spoken in a noisy room. There are many stages of processing, and the results of processing are modulated by attention repeatedly.

Teach-nology

Statistics works much the same way that our brains filter out “noise”. By collecting data points from related information, we can visualize or understand more complicated systems of data that may otherwise be beyond our grasp.

When we look at a positive trend in the stock market followed by a precipitous decline of share values it can look like the world is coming to an end. But if we retrace the historical data points of the market we recognize its cyclical nature and understand that, at some point, the decline will cease and the market will rise again.

Mark Twain was attributed with the quote as saying, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”

So I guess what I’m saying is while we may not have the specific facts of a situation to rely on, we can believe that there is a historical context with which we can view it. Knowing that the Spanish Influenza killed approximately 50 million people between 1918-1919 isn’t as important as recognizing that these kinds of pandemics happen, such as in 1957, 1968, and 2009. Investigating what worked and what didn’t can help us today.

And these cycles occur across all industries, geopolitical affairs, and economies. It’s just a matter of finding an applicable context to compare then to now.

 

 

Weekly Rundown

I’ve not been wholly satisfied with the Weekly Rundowns, so I may be changing them a bit here in the near future. Still playing with form, so we’ll see how it lands. But for now, here’s some stuff for you:

Reading: Locke & Key Vol. 1 from IDW Comics, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. And there he was again, this Joe Hill. Son of Stephen King, and prominent storyteller himself, has created a lot of buzz with Netflix’s adaptation of Locke  & Key. I think I became familiar with the series while reading the recent Hill House collaboration with DC Comics: Basketful of HeadsDaphne Byrne, et al. NOS4A2 was on AMC last year, and now Netflix has Locke. I watched it, I enjoyed it, and I wanted to see how close it got to the source material. I read Volume 1, and it’s close enough to be familiar, but different enough that I enjoy reading the comics even after watching the series.

Listening: Honestly, nothing with any repetition. No new music this week, though Flora Cash’s Somebody Else and Fun.’s 2012 album Some Nights have been in my head this past week.

Doing: Packing. With my months away quickly approaching, it’s been important to put as much as I can in storage, free up space around the house. I wanted to have a yard sale before leaving, but it’ll have to wait until I get back.

Sharing:

One of the lists

There are many things I’m interested in. A bunch of them come across here on the blog. The vast majority of them in fact.

In trying to sort through the stuff I’ve accumulated, and my finances vs. my debts, and my time management obligations, and my work and gig schedule, and everything else that I do or plan to do – mostly it ends up in my pocket Moleskine at some point.

So what am I interested in? My list is partially in response to this article on building your own personal library.

I recall having a conversation with someone who at the time was helping me through a very rough patch of life. I was looking at a book, Akashic Records for Dummies, and of course, I didn’t need it. But I told her I’d planned on leaving a library of books after me. When I died. She said that any meaningful library left behind probably wouldn’t have a collection of For Dummies books. She tended to say smart things like that.

So here are my interests, more or less, of topics which may or may not appear on the blog, and which are listed here in no particular order:

  • Travel
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy
  • Esoteric Studies
  • Work (How to work better, smarter, and for more money)
  • Finance & Investing
  • History
  • Japan, and to a lesser degree other Asian countries (focus on history, philosophy, language, and culture)
  • Art (Theatre, Visual Arts, Other Performing Arts)
  • Arts Management
  • Self-Help
  • Fiction (Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Action, Literary)
  • Writing Studies
  • Videography and Photography
  • Memoirs, Biographies, and Autobiographies
  • Mythology

In looking at this, I realized how broad it all seemed. There are so many facets that can fit into each topic; some that overlap topics. I write this out now as I work on honing in onto what this blog will look like – especially over the next six months while I’m in Alaska.

Anyway, I’ll keep posting. And maybe someone will read it. And that’s about all anyone can do.

Friday assembly

…Sounds like I’m in school. Okay, maybe not this one either. But here we go!

What I’m reading: Joyland by Stephen King. Another (quasi-)carnival tale, of murder, ghosts, and the shine. Just happened to dig into it, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t the longest Stephen King novel by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t the shortest either. All in all, however, it flowed quickly and kept me engaged to see what would happen next.

What I’m listening to: Longform’s interview with Rolf Potts. When I went looking for the first interview I heard, I found a collection of interviews over at Rolf Potts’s website.

What I’m spending my time with: The AFI 100. They’ve been on my list for a while, and I’m checking them off. So far I’m fifteen films in. I’m planning on getting them all watched by the end of the year.

Other things of interest:

  • It’s fall! (Here in Florida that means it’s in the 80s… most of the time.) Here’s a recipe for slow cooker mulled cider. It’s delicious, and you can spike it per the recipe. I find brandy works well also. The last recipe I used also suggested 1 qtr. cup of maple syrup.
  • Minimalism is overrated. This article from the Wall Street Journal mentions moving past the fear of overindulging in buying.
  • AltNYC Opera’s in-development production of The Halloween Tree. Synopsis and excerpts from workshop included in the link. After reading Something Wicked &  Halloween Tree, I did a good amount of Bradbury investigating and discovered this.
  • I was introduced to this financial blog – Our Next Life. Not just about budgeting, but long-term travel and early retirement.

April Reading

Books Bought:

  • My 1980s and Other Essays – Wayne Koestenbaum
  • Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
  • Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad – Austin Kleon
  • Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant
  • Plato: Collected Dialogues – edited by Edith Hamilton
  • The Secrets of Closing the Sale – Zig Ziglar

Books Read:

  • Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  • The Essential Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks) – unfinished
  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham (Revised Edition) unfinished

After listening to the Tim Ferriss Show, mostly catching up on episodes I’ve missed, I heard him compliment Tony Robbins’s Money. I had audio book credits through Audible, and decided to give that one a try. So far I’m enjoying it. Some similar threads to Intelligent Investor – a book I’ve had for years but didn’t read much.

I’ve been an investor, and at times a speculator, over the past fifteen years. Mostly I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had success in school with Finance: Micro- and Macroeconomics; & Managerial and Financial Accounting. But mostly I just played around.

I had my first 401(k) in 2004, when I went full-time with NASCAR (prior to pursuing a career in the arts). In five years I think it went up to just over $10,000. I rolled that over into an IRA actually rather recently, in 2014 or 2015. Then, in 2016, I cashed out that IRA entirely. It was at the height of my dark period, and I was getting out of the country for a while.

I think even though I’m back in the country, I’m still somewhere else. My friend Anthony tells me that it’s been a three-year wake-up call, and now I get to be who I was supposed to be in the first place. Honestly, he may be right.

So I’ve been re-looking into the financial markets – which I did used to enjoy learning about.

I’m also newly into Audible, which I had cancelled maybe a decade ago… I like the physical book, more than I did audio or digital. However, I’m finding much more time spent driving or traveling in general, and the convenience of that audio book is nearly impossible to beat. After going from South of St. Petersburg to Daytona and back a few times last year – enough to listen to Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek twice, I decided it was time to re-up Audible.

As for Rumi, just another staple in my go-to perusal section. I’ve been thinking about the tavern-goer:

This drunkenness began in some other tavern. When I get back around to that place, I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile, I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison for drunks. I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This is one of those constant quandaries that invades my thoughts, and reading Rumi not only gives it the poetic air, but also expands my thoughts on the problem itself. Knowing others who share your thoughts, your concerns, makes the load of those concerns a little lighter – even if this person has been deceased for quite some time.

My book purchases were impulses mostly. I knew the name Koestenbaum, but hadn’t read anything before by him. Browsings seems similar to Ten Years in the Tub, which I’ve yet to finish, but it’s right up my alley. I read Steal like an artist before, so I wanted to read Keep Going for a while. Kleon always has something fun and inspiring to say.

Two books of philosophy, for my downtime reading… (here’s hoping I get a lot of downtime). And Zig Ziglar came at the recommendation of Godin, and as I’m working in sales right (along with my other gigs) I thought improving those skills couldn’t hurt.

Hide your stash

Focusing on personal money is a stressful prospect. Seeing the rises and falls, the balance changing, seemingly out of your control, can imbue a feeling of powerlessness. That’s why the best investors and gamblers view their pools of available money as resource, not expendable cash.

The adage among drug dealers is to never use your own stash. The same can be said for the money that you pay yourself first – savings, retirement, major expense fund… Be careful that you’re not using the resource that you set aside for your self – for your future.

That’s your stash. Don’t use it.

Relationships with money

When considering your life style, your finances and living situation, do you feel as if you’re thriving? Or surviving?

If it’s the latter, it may be harder to ever reach a place of thriving.

I’ve been an advocate for the law of attraction for nearly three years now, since I began making life changes that were so drastic that I wouldn’t have believed them possible. Prior to that, I was using reactionary methods of attraction – still creating life, but with little sense of what I was doing.

Even now I sometimes experience the reactionary method (usually around money – major purchases, debt or job issues), and I have to remind myself that what I focus on is what I attract.

So I remind you (and myself) that we live in abundance. This is not a zero-sum game, and we are all capable of winning and achieving our best lives. The trick is to believe that we already are, even if we’ve temporarily stepped out of the abundant circumstances.

Economic Theory

Been looking at the economics of the nation this week. Will give it more thought as the year progresses, especially with the new Fed Chair. A low rise in interest could turn out to be a good thing.

But I’m considering debt, and the need of money being bondage. Once you take on debt, you start working for someone else.

The Communist system has been used in similarly broken states as Capitalism. Bartering, maybe, was a more honest system. But the accumulation of goods led to some or one wealthy barons working less and exerting control over others.

An imperfect system is the only way to maintain order. Too little pay and you have revolt. Too much, and the need to work is greatly reduced. The majority barely making survival pay (needing debt) induces conformity.