I visited a dam with Tim. For my birthday I decided to kick off my stormwater management sightseeing with a trip to the dam that led to this new hobby. The dam keeps the area’s major river from flooding downtown. It was a fairly warm day, but the snow hadn’t all melted, so we had a nice picnic at a table in the middle of a big patch of snow, watched Practical Engineering’s stormwater intro video, and then crunched down a snowy path through the woods to the dam. It’s not huge, but it has floodgates that rise on tall columns, so it looks impressive.
I’m researching health and disability insurance to help me plan my emergency fund. So far I’ve reviewed what my personal finance books have to say and made a list of questions to answer.
Sometime soon I’ll map out the rest of this project. I could easily drag it out the whole year, so I need to prioritize my tasks and give myself some deadlines.
I’ll do my taxes this week. Although these books talk about taxes constantly, I’ve been forgetting about actually doing them, so that’s my assignment for myself this week. I use H&R Block’s web app, and this time as I go, I’ll poke around in the sections I always ignore to see what might apply to my future financial activities.
Concentrated Investing argues that with enough skill and effort, you can not only beat the market but forego diversification. It bases this contention on ten or so case studies, one of which was of information theorist Claude Shannon. I’d like to hear a reply from passive investing advocates. But the book concedes that if you, like most people, aren’t prepared for a Buffett level of dedication, an index fund is the way to go. Still, some of the profiles are interesting, and the discussion of the Kelly Criterion seems worth studying.
Pitch the Perfect Investment gives me a mathematical framework for evaluating a company’s fundamentals. It doesn’t say much about actually researching them, so I’d have to supplement it with the other books on stock picking. But overall I found the book satisfyingly methodical yet approachable. And it drew on a lot of the books I’ve been listening to over the past few years, so it felt in tune with the zeitgeist. The later chapters on communication were also helpful, though, of course, I wouldn’t be using them to pitch an investment to a portfolio manager.
I’m organizing my coffee taste testing. I listed all the coffee varieties from Aldi I wanted to try, and now I’m working my way through the list. Here are my latest ratings:
- Café Bustelo: 2/5. I liked the aroma, but the taste took some getting used to. Sucralose and the creamer I use mostly worked.
- Dunkin’ Original Blend Medium Roast: 1/5. On its own the coffee reminded me of vegemite. With any sucralose it immediately became too sweet. I tried two or three cups, couldn’t finish them, and gave up.
I’m avoiding coffee after lunch. My body is usually pretty resistant to caffeine, or maybe my constant fatigue always gave it too much work. Last week I watched Better Ideas tell us not to drink caffeine after noon because it’ll stay in our system past bedtime. I didn’t take this advice too seriously until I rushed to finish my box of Café Bustelo, got jittery and irritable for the rest of the day, and took two hours to fall asleep. So it seems drinking too much coffee does affect me after all. Maybe with some coffee discipline my sleep will be more consistently restful.
I processed my friend’s death. Monday evening I posted about it on the forum where I met him. The few days before had some sharp and rather deep dips into sadness, which surprised me. We hadn’t spoken in several years, but it seems I was more attached to him than I realized. It was a suicide, and my thoughts kept returning to how terrible he must have felt to go to such lengths.
But I had good friends who listened sympathetically and a pastor who prayed for me, and I got used to the news, and its intensity subsided. It did spark several trains of thought that I hope will be beneficial. But for my friend and his family, my main hope is that he won’t be forgotten and that they will be able to make their way through grief.
Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton (conference talk) gets closer to the way I think than other books on the disciplines I’ve read. I recognize myself in many of her reactions to the disciplines, and we share some key values in shaping a set of disciplines. They should be informed by our needs, and they should create a framework that allows our spiritual life to pervade our everyday life.
To help with my prayer project, I’m listening to Every Moment Holy, Volume 1, by Douglas McKelvey. My brother got this for Christmas, and it’s perfect for what I’m trying to do, so I bought the audiobook, and I’ve been listening to a section each day. After that I’ll choose some prayers, condense them, and probably try to memorize them so they’re easy to summon at the right moments.