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There times in our history when things keep largely the same for a good stretch.

Maybe it’s only for a generation or less, or it could be for a human lifetime or more. Be it the climate, the economy, the governing structures, or anything else, these things might move around a little, but within a fairly predictable range. And while it might feel scary to those living through it, it’s not inherently unpredictable as an overall system.

Now is not a time like that.

Just look around you. Likely you can see that, to the contrary, we know without a reasonable doubt that at least the following things are changing massively right now:
  • our global climate and weather cycles
  • our economic framework and monetary instruments
  • the role and nature of government for many of the most powerful ones in the world

We can argue about why these things are changing or who is responsible. At a certain level, like the everyday decision-making one, it kinda doesn’t matter so much though.

In such times, certainty is especially popular. Anyone offering it has an audience, because it is exactly what many people want to hear. They’re scared. They don’t know what’s going to happen next. No matter how ridiculous the voice or idea may be that’s offering the “Of course this is what happens now. It must be what happens now!” message, it will be believed. People gravitate to flavor of message that asks them to give up the least, and tells them that they are among the best.

Sound familiar?

That’s because this is when we are. We’ve been here before, we’ll be here again. I suspect it’ll get a whole lot worse before it gets better too. Because our ability to achieve predictability will not be restored for a long time to come.

In such times, I believe it is quantifying our uncertainty that is the key. Yeah, we don’t know a lot. But even if we knew everything, we’d be wrong some of the time. We’re just going to be wrong a lot more about a lot more things for a lot longer than usual.

But we’re not going to be wrong about everything any more than we were right about everything before. The power skill is making sound decisions with not enough information. Rolling the dice fast, and moving even faster. Being completely committed to any given move, while keeping as many options open as possible and pivoting or fully reversing course as circumstances dictate.

Because circumstances are changing. And they’re going to keep changing. If you want them not to change, it is pretty easy to find people who will give you the illusion of being certain or being right or being chosen. They are lying. Maybe on purpose, maybe not. It doesn’t matter, don’t take it personally. It’s just what happens now, that’s all.

You can know about how certain or uncertain you are. There are many different toolkits you can use. I typically recommend anything to do with Bayesian thinking or Stoic philosophy, and am increasingly becoming comfortable with the more statistical tools.

What do you use to keep things in perspective and determine how uncertain you are? Comment as you see fit :)

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If life went according to plan, I’d be a dual citizen of New Zealand and the USA by now. It was a good plan, but one that I doubt will fit into this life of mine.

Ever since I first heard of this new mystical land of Zea, I wanted to go there. No reason. Just…drawn.

When I finally did get there in 2008, I was by myself with not a single known contact in country. That didn’t last long. I quickly made some lifelong friends as I got to know the place.

When I left, I knew I would be coming back. No particular reason. Just…drawn.

For the next 5 years, I spent more and more time each year in New Zealand. Deepening friendships, making music, and forming this plan. At the time, you could be admitted on a year-long Student Visa until age 35 — without even needed to be enrolled as a student. I jumped through the bureaucratic hurdles just in time. Two days before my 35th birthday (a decade ago now), I got my precious visa.

I started looking for work there. But it wasn’t so easy. The kinds of jobs I was applying for were corporate ones, not manual labor. I did eventually try to apply for a few jobs as a waiter again too, but coming in at the end of their fall season there weren’t really new openings to get.

Also while there, I did some math I should have done before I arrived. I was in debt. More debt than I’d ever been in before. Though I’d worked myself out of debt several times already and was confident in my ability to do so again, I’d always done it in American Dollars. And my debt was in American Dollars. But if I were to earn only New Zealand dollars, I’d have to work twice as hard for twice as long just to get to break even.

Reluctantly, I realized I needed to get back to the San Francisco Bay Area where my skills would command the highest rate, and where I could live cheap on my sailboat in the Emeryville Marina. I would work like hell, skimp and save, pay off the debt (or at least work it down to a couple grand), then get myself back to New Zealand and hope to work out a continued stay under the sponsorship of an employer. I had stirred up a few promising leads, and was considering a business venture with a Kiwi friend that wanted reciprocal visa privileges in the US.

None of this came to pass. I didn’t make it back there before my visa ran out. In fact, I didn’t make it back at all until 2017, when I was able to bring my partner with me. Falling in love with her was the best possible reason for my detour from the Kiwi path. Living in the middle of Utah to care for her mother is the right thing to do, and it’s working out.

But especially during this time of COVID, I look to my outdated plan and think “Yeah, that was a really good idea.” New Zealand was one of the few pandemic success stories in the western world. It is someplace that is friendly to business and innovation at a time when the US is systematically cracking down. It is a place that simply can’t get away with the kinds of massive miscalculations that my country can, and that has to take action when things go awry. (See their response to their Christchurch shooting as opposed to, well, any of ours!) They are very much smaller, but also very much easier to run well. I don’t think we will be able to return to anything like that again here in the US in my lifetime. I would rather be in a place like that than a place like this.

Emigrating to New Zealand was a good plan. But ultimately, it wasn’t in the cards, something (or rather someone!) even better was…

Funny how life works, isn’t it?

So here’s to things turning out differently than we’ve planned, in spite of our intuitions and desires and efforts. Better to let go of these sunk costs in favor of what we truly value when it appears before us, I think.

It’s good to remember this as we plan for tomorrow. Remaining flexible and responsive will only become more important as the pace of change and the rate of chaos both increase. Let us plan like we mean it, and be ready to ditch that former projection of the future whenever the present turns out even better.

If you have such a story to share, please do so in the comments.

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This is my Now page and here’s what’s up for me these days (as posted on 04/03/21)

What’s up for me, now?

Spring is springing, the birds are singing, and it’s time for cleaning :)

I’m physically getting all the spring cleaning done, yes. And in the larger sense, I’m cleaning out what no longer serves and clearing the way for whatever is next.

As I posted recently, I sold the truck. I’m finally selling off old gear on eBay. And as soon as I can figure out how (central Utah is lacking many services), I’ll be donating and disposing of old computers and a ton of garage sale quality items that have accumulated over time. I’m even closing out whole businesses that seemed like good ideas at the time — Pre-Covid Times, that is.

Speaking of which, I’ve been jabbed once with a vaccine now. One more to go this month, and then I might maybe hopefully finally get to go somewhere again in May. Dare I say it? Utah is nice and all, but I never intended to stay here for more than a month or two at a time before getting out to stretch and breathe a bit. But, y’know, breathing has been kinda dangerous for a while.

Like most of us in the last year, I’ve missed out on seeing friends and family for so many birthdays, holidays, and life events. In addition, I pulled back on all the socials, and became really bad at even returning phonecalls or emails. But now that Spring is springing, I’m slowly changing this and coming back out from this long winter. One social connection per day to slowly turn the tide, casting a daily vote for who I choose to be even though it feels foreign and I don’t quite believe it yet. Cast enough such votes and I’ll have to say I’m good at getting back to people now.

Though I did recently catch up with my friend Christopher on my birthday — someone whom I’ve known for 25-years and is now a priest! — I’m not planning to see anyone face to face until the approved inoculation period. But I’m thinking about it, getting comfortable with it again, and thinking about what’s worth doing these days.

So that’s me! How about YOU? Hit me up or leave me a comment below. Hope all is well with you :)


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I’m trying not to just reshare every Rob Braxman video, but…they’re almost all really good!

If you just watch one, this is the one to watch. Please do. Sorry it’s such a click-baity title, it IS worth your time.

Video Description:
“Society is changing. With the advent of centralized data on each person and permanent records, certain expectations of human behavior will no longer apply. We will be judged according to a new set of rules that is based on a lifetime record. What started out to be a Credit Score will now be expanded to a social score and used in ways we cannot even imagine.

Let’s analyze this. Let’s see where we were, see where we are and see where we are headed.”

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The “$1200 OBO” on my high-mileage, low-frills 1996 GMC Suburban turned into $1000 cash yesterday. I probably could’ve gotten more, but I was glad to let it go.

Six years ago this behemoth was a hand-me-down from my Dad, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted it. I was mostly living on a sailboat in Emeryville at the time, and I’d been borrowing this already beatup vehicle to take to Burning Man every year for a few years already. My Dad used it for making occasional runs to the dump, and not much else by then. At about 12 miles to the gallon, it wasn’t inexpensive to use.

My hypermiling Honda Insight got about 65 miles to the gallon, by contrast. But that lovely little space shuttle looking car did not work so well for trips back and forth to Utah, which I was making more often by that time. And it was useless in any amount of snow, which is where this heavy 4×4 SUV was at it’s best. So I soon had one nimble little commuter for SF Bay Area traffic, and a decrepit but dependable big-asSUV for mountains and snow. I knew the truck well, as I’d driven it a lot over the years already. Pretty much ever since I could drive.

For many years previously, this was my Dad’s primary tour vehicle for his band. I’d guess at least 250,000 of the miles on this thing were put on between shows with 3-5 guys and a ton of equipment in the back. When I was roady-ing (which I’d started doing in high school, and did a lot more of in college), I got to drive back late at night after local shows. It had a memorable scratch or two from me learning to navigate narrow dark alleyways in reverse for load-in backstage.

I never expected to be driving it 25 years later. While parts of this truck kept breaking (the stereo, the A/C, the power locks, the driver side door, etc.), the dang thing just wouldn’t die.

The guy I sold it to yesterday bought it for exactly that reason. “I’m just gonna take it up the mountain and beat it up” he told me, while spitting his chewing tobacco. Perfect!

I had a minor panic wake me up last night when my subconscious realized that I could no longer fit everything I own in one vehicle and drive away. Waking up enough to think about it, this hasn’t been important to me for a long time anyhow.

This Suburban has been a great utility vehicle when I needed one. I’ve slept in it many times, taken on Rockies full of ice and snow with no need for chains, loaded it with impossible amounts of stuff in moves, strapped a huge fuzzy pink adult tricycle on top and taken it out to the Nevada desert, towed trailers and motorcycles, and parked it within inches of very tightly packed fancy cars in the city.

Now I bid it farewell, and set it free to roam the mountaintops in Utah as only a truck like this can.

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