Blog Ending, Blog Beginning

Well, time has come for me to move away from this blog. It started as a collaborative effort, but in the end that didn’t really pan out, and I (m741) ended up writing the bulk of the posts. It’s felt a bit awkward writing under a collaborative headline when it’s mostly been one person involved.

Furthermore, I’ve felt a bit constrained writing purely about skills (well, mostly about skills). When I was writing about work, or numerous other things, I felt like I was betraying the premise of the blog. Other times, I didn’t write about a topic at all, because it didn’t fit in to the ‘skills’ shoebox. And also, I have to admit that SkillsFIRE is a bit of a goofy name for a blog.

So, I’m stopping this blog, and moving to a new one. The new blog is Rob Evolves (yes, my name is Rob, and yes, I hope to evolve!).

The topic there will be growth generally. That will include financial growth, developing skills, growing spiritually, having adventures, more esoteric philosophical musings. In other words, the same sort of stuff I was writing about here, but with a broader, and more personal, focus. I’d like to do some shorter posts with just a link or a brief thought – most of the posts here were 500 to 1000 words. The overarching subject will still be growth, but of course that can mean an awful lot :). If you enjoyed this blog I think you’ll enjoy that blog as well. If you didn’t enjoy this blog… why are you still reading?

I’ve transferred over the bulk of the posts I wrote here on SkillsFIRE and eliminated a few that didn’t fit in.

(Again, the new blog is Rob Evolves).


So this past weekend there was a hurricane in my area. It wasn’t much of an event, for me. I lost power for 3 days, but it could have been much worse. Nonetheless, there were two take-aways: I’m not prepared for serious disasters, and … what am I doing with my life?

Emergency Preparedness

I’ve always considered coolness under pressure, and being prepared for unusual situations, to be among my skills. (I suppose many people feel the same way, the same as everybody considers themselves an above-average driver). My presumption made my unpreparedness for this hurricane all the more jarring.

When I say that carrying myself well in serious situations is my strong point, I mean that I’m pretty proud of the way I’ve handled the few difficult or emergency situations I’ve been in. I’m also an Eagle Scout, I’ve backpacked for over a week at a time, I know basic first aid and so on. I try to think about different eventualities, and I’m very careful when hiking.

Nonetheless, after the hurricane, with stores closed and no power, I was left with some pasta and beans. Most of the other dry food I had was expired. So I subsisted on chili, macaroni & cheese, a can of pineapple chunks. I didn’t have candles or even a true flashlight, but I did have two little single-LED lights that I was able to use. Without those I would have been in bad shape once it got dark out.

I need to keep more supplies at hand. Although for the NYC metro area, this was a major disaster, I feel like many places, even in the US, can have much more serious disasters (earthquakes in California, hurricanes in Florida/Gulf Coast, Tornadoes in Kansas). Personally I think that disasters are going to become more frequent, and I’d like to be able to weather any disaster without having to worry about rushing to buy supplies. Such desperate actions indicate a softness that I don’t find appealing. I’d also like to be able to draw on fresh knowledge if I’m confronted with a serious medical problem, or whatnot. In my daydreams I’m all set for a survival/post-apocalyptic situations, but reality doesn’t bear those dreams out.

I Stepped Into a Hurricane

I had no electricity for three days, and absent that, much of my identity disappeared. There were only three things I did without power: sleep, read, and feed myself. That’s pretty much it, and I find that disturbing. I have essentially no non-electronic hobbies. When I think about life in the 19th century, this is what I find most confusing. There’s some evidence that people were a bit bored back then: for instance Edward Everett’s speech preceding Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was about two hours long, and people considered it short. Can you imagine people wanting to listen to a single speech for two hours today? Still, it seems like people kept busy.

Overall it seems people worked about the same hours as people today, or had seasonal hours – such as when farming. I’m sure people read, maybe played a musical instrument or knitted. Letter-writing, conversation and drinking were popular past-times, much more than today. But what else were people doing? I find it baffling, they must have done other things. What could I do, that would keep me occupied and engaged if I had no power?

At this point, I’m looking to institute a “no electricity hour,” where I’d shut down everything electric except a light, and then figure out how to keep myself occupied.

I’m also distressed at my lack of worthwhile skills. I’m re-reading Shop Class as Soulcraft, and it resonates as much as the first time. I’m totally disengaged from the real world. I can barely feed myself, fer chrissakes. I’m not mechanically inclined, can barely repair anything, or build things on my own.

To remediate this, I’m planning on starting a series on this blog called Skill a Week, where I’ll describe some skill I’ve taught myself, why it’s useful/interesting from a self-sufficiency and frugality perspective, and provide tips/instructions for people also interested in learning that skill. Don’t expect any skill to be particularly complicated; the idea is it’s something to pick up in a short amount of time and use with regularity. It could be a recipe/cooking skill, a way to repair something, a new way of learning, and so on. I want to be forced to push my boundaries and maybe help other people learn as well.

What to expect

What can you, our prospective reader, expect from this blog?

First, we’ll be exploring what it takes to become a ‘Renaissance Man’ – or ‘Renaissance Woman’, for that matter. That means that we’ll be explaining how we’re currently approaching various concrete projects. For instance, I, m741, am looking to expand my programming knowledge, learn German, get in shape, learn how to fix mechanical systems, learn how to paint/draw, and so forth.

We’ll also explore some of the ‘meta’ aspects of becoming a Renaissance Man: why is it a worthy goal (philosophically and practically)? How can we go about learning various new skills? How can we improve our uptake of new skills?

Finally, the ultimate application of our knowledge is to retire early (Financial Independence to Retire Early). Many of the new skills we’ll be acquiring will be in service of reducing expenses or finding new income streams. For instance, you might learn programming so you can develop iPhone apps, or you  might become physically fit to avoid large medical expenses and the need to own a car.

Getting started

We’re just getting started with this blog, so bear with us! We’ll be posting soon about our adventures developing skills to aid in Financial Independence to Retire Early.

This will include tips for developing skills, our own progress in skill development, and more conceptual discussions about the philosophy of being a ‘Renaissance Man’, ‘DIYer’, and self-education. But badass, not boring.