SOTC

•6 August 2017 • Leave a Comment

 

A Dream Of Springsteen

•2 July 2017 • Leave a Comment

I hiked the Appalachian Trail for 33 days. I covered 500 miles and touched seven states. I rollercoastered 80,000′ of elevation gain. I lost twenty pounds and 5″ of waistline. I slept in or at 29 shelters. I saw one bear and a pile of rattlesnakes. I made a number of very good friends. I am not done yet.

At the north end of Connecticut I decided to take a caesura. It was in the 90s with 100% humidity. My clothing would not dry. Not even overnight on a line. After days of this I developed terrible heat rashes. It was either spend 3 days in a hotel (at $120/night, because, Connecticut), or spend $40 to go home and heal and meal. I chose Kennebunk. And it’s been bloody lovely.

While being home I have climbed two mountains (Old Speck in Grafton Notch; Blueberry in Weld, ME), murdered myself at the gym, and biked a tone. It’s been lovely. I’ve also been preparing for my next great adventure, which is a move to New York City.

I decided on New York for a few reasons.

The prime mover is professional: I am a lawyer and business consultant with particular interests in finance and corporate governance. If I can’t find work in Money Mecca it’s probably time I move to a country with UBI.

The second is logistical: New York is more accessible for a fresh-faced country lad than is, say, San Francisco. I mean this just geographically and transportationally (where would I move? Oakland? Silicon Valley?) as well as fiscally (you can get a $1500/mo. studio within a 20 minute commute of the FiDi. Enjoy finding a 1500/mo. parking space in Mountain View). But I also mean it interpersonally. New York is an abattoir for human livestock, sure. But this slaughterhouse meritocracy is preferable to a city wherein I have no roots, no network, no contacts, and thus, very little opportunity.

The third is social: I have family and friends in the City. Almost as many as I have in Maine. I am old enough to realize the value of this.

And the fourth is temperamental. I want to work 80-hour weeks and be paid in Blancpains. As a result, I should fuck well be in New York.

The main difficulty in effecting this move is the dreaded Apartment Lead Time. If I lock in an apartment now, it’ll be an average of 6 to 8 weeks before I can move into it. That means that I could hike for two months more, only to return home and find that I have two more months of Kennebunkial thumb-twiddling ahead of me. That would not do at all.

As such, I am taking a few more days off of hiking to try to arrange habitation for myself. After which point I will return to the merry trail.

Hopefully I shall have time left in July to go from Great Barrington, MA (about where I left off) to Mount Washington. It’s only 350 miles, so it should be possible – but a good hundred of those miles are White Mountain Miles, which are somewhat more intense than those I’ve encountered thusfar. At the end of July I’ll get off the trail to officiate Rosalba’s wedding. Then, if I have August free, I will make for Katahdin. And if I don’t, well, there’s always when-I-retire :)

I’ve been living in an apartment for years, and so I’ve rather well situated myself possession-wise. There isn’t much I’ll need to make myself at home. Also, I rather hope to be working so hard for the next 3-5 years that I shall never see my apartment by daylight, if at all.

In a perfect world, I would move into this apartment mid-August, fresh off of Mt. K. I’ll drive down with a Civic full of Stuff and set myself up with the necessities. Then I’ll do the same again but with my mother in tow. She will take my car back to Maine, then, and dispose of it for lucre. Leaving me in the stream and gaily swimming.

My notion of my own possessions, right now, is divided into three categories:

1: Small necessities, that can easily fit in the boot of my little Honda.

2: Necessities that can not so fit.

3: Unnecessaries.

Category One includes my coffee grinder and pourover cone; computer; wristwatches; and clothing; in that order. I’ll develop the theme a bit more in a moment.

Category Two is, mostly, my mattress. In order to get it down to Manhattan I’ll have to rent a U-Haul. I’d consider it, but I think I’d rather just buy a $150 futon & sleep on that for a while. Later, when I get a job and so have a bit of situational security, I can hire a moving van and bring down my mattress, as well as my jolly collection of #3 items while I’m about it. At which point the futon will become a couch, and so continue in utility.

Category Three is books and bookshelves. Which, oy vey.

With any luck I can find good work for myself ASAP. This will allow me the lucre, and the time, to find myself a better apartment than the sort which I expect I will at first have. Apologies for that sentence. But then, one year in, I will move into Better Apartment – and Bed, and Books, can then follow me.

So now, and lastly, I’m gonna take a moment to daydream about all the joyous things that I’ll be bringing with me to the City:

 

 

  • Bicycle, and all accessories.
  • Hiking gear. Also, snow shoes.
  • Computer. Headphones. Taplop.
  • Coffeeklatschen: goose-neck kettle, hand-grinder, pourover cone, aeropress. Also a pair of teapots and some mugs. Also a pound of Tandem to last me the first week.
  • Kitchen items: chef’s knife and mandoline, pasta maker and NeuroFuzzy, weck jars and spice jars, KitchenAid and sous vide.
  • Dining items: not all that much, at first – a few favorite glasses and mugs, a Dansk service-for-four.
  • Clothing: we’ll see what I have that will fit by then. If I had to buy a new wardrobe on-site, I’d not complain.
  • Shoes: and shoe-trees.
  • Camera: and lenses.
  • Furniture: my four nesting tables; my desk-chair; The Coffee Table if it fits in the car.
  • The Neckties.
  • The Watches.
  • A few paintings and knick-knacks of my pleasure.

Thereafter, there’s a few things to buy

  • The futon, as aforesaid
  • A suit that fits. When I get work, several more suits that fit.
  • A frame for said bed.

And, once I find work, I have a little chopin liszt:

  • New computer monitor (4k)
  • New laptop (more stable than the dear ol’ Chromebook)
  • A juicer
  • New wristwatch (et porquoi pas?)

 

Life is looking up for an ‘umble Yours Truly. Because I am at the threshold of having a life.

 

 

 

 

 

I intend to hike another month at least. But

Heading Out

•15 May 2017 • Leave a Comment

Heading for the AT tomorrow. Starting in Harpers Ferry, heading north.

I will be traveling under the trail name of Axel. Because, c’est moi.

Pack weighs in at almost exactly 3kg, less food and water (and assuming that warm gear and rain gear are both fully worn – otherwise, closer to 4kg). Not a minimalist packout, just a light one. Only real indulgence is a Kindle.

I have 75 days until I must be back at home to perform Rosie’s wedding. Fortunately I will be walking right towards it.

Then I have 30 days until I officiate for Zach and Mary.

If I average 11 miles per day, I will reach Mount Washington at the very end of July. I would consider that to be a mighty good showing. I should be so lucky.

If I returned to the trail in August, 11 miles per day would take me from Mount Washington right to Katahdin. So that would work quite well.

In order to reach Katahdin in 75 days, I would have to average 15 1/2 miles per day. Lord knows there are plenty of people for whom this would be easy. Whereas if I make it 100 miles in 10 days without ending up a small broken pile of fellow, I shall consider myself to have given an honorable showing.

If I do this, I would have all of August at my disposal. I could hike the Long Trail (273 miles – a perfect length for a month of hiking at 11mi/day). Or I could head back to Harpers and begin a Sobo. But this would be logistically difficult and also very expensive – quite not worth it.

Either way, I very much daydream that on September 5th I will be able to begin the flop of my flipflop, flying back to Harpers Ferry and pointing my boots south. I will then have 1000 miles to cover. To complete them by Halloween, I would have to average about 17 miles per day; at 11 per day, the end of November. With any luck the former will be, at that point, within my competence. The latter would not be impossible, but it would require carrying a bit more gear – two pounds more of sleeping bag and thermals, at the least.

In any event – this is all daydreams. To go a week without suffering grave and irreperable bodily injury will be counted a success, I’d say. Still, I would very much like to take the entire Trail this season. Then see what my situation is, and how I feel.

 

 

 

Full Aspirational

•14 May 2017 • Leave a Comment

And if we were to dream of millions?

Two homes: an apartment in Manhattan; a mountain-house above Oaxaca.

The apartment: small, with a view of the city. Skybox windows, quartersawn floors. Gym in the building, doorman to take deliveries. A little bit of grass on the roof.

The house: small, with a view of mountains. Same wood, same design. Throw in a window-seat or two. A little tiled patio out back. A pergola draped in grape-vines. A backyard wrapped in a high fence. Farmbots culling vegetables, cut trees for mushrooms, trees giving fruit.

Both: Decorated inside with campaign furniture, white oak and chestnut leather. Chairs and tables and desk, all collapsible. Chests with stout handles. Butcherblock table. A heavy couch.

Kitchen: Block of Miyabi Birchwood knives, pantry of Le Creuset and hammered copper. VitaMix, NeuroFuzzy, La Pavoni manual espresso pull, ROK table grinder, pourover cone. Several tea sets: iron, porcelain, raku.

Living-room: Preposterous television. Speakers and soundbar. Excellent computer. Little bar with mezcal and armagnac, grappa and Calvados, Luxardo and Curacao, Oban and Laphroaig.

To move between the two:

Computers: Excellent laptop (X270 with lulus). Headphones, Sennheiser HD800S.

Bikes: Road bike (S-Works Venge). Mountain bike (S-Works Epic FSR). Touring bike (7Cycles triple-butted ti).

Camera: D810, 20mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, 105mm f/1.4, 200mm f/2, 400mm f/2.8, 800mm f/5.6 with 1.25x and 2x teleconverters. Studio tripod, travel tripod.

Luggage: Ghurkah, sets in both chestnut and walnut. 83, 95, 97, 98, 187, as needed. Also custom fountain pen case, custom watch strap, custom laptop bag. Also an LVMH porte-documents, blue grey.

Watches: Two Patek Philippe 5270s, in platinum and rose gold, no tachymeter. A 5711/1A-010 jumbo naut, and a 5990 travel naut.

Jewelry: Cufflinks, belt buckles, tie bars and clips: rose gold and platinum. Also the Patek set built around the blue naut – and tie clip and belt buckle, bespoke.

Pens: ST Dupont “Defi” in brown leather; Omas “ART” in blue guilloche; a black Montblanc; a silver something.

Desk sets: black leather and white gold; chestnut leather and rose gold. Another in stainless and smoky blue.

Shoes: Custom cut. Chukka, wholecut, plaintoe with medallion, wingtip with heavy brogue – black, chestnut, midnight navy.

Suits: Fresh cuts each year. Two each in black, charcoal, mid grey, light grey. Other garments to match. Accessories in black, chestnut, and blue to match the jumbo naut. Long coats, light and heavy, same scale of grey –  plus three in leather to match the three-color spread. Umbrellas to spread as well.

Anything else? I’ll surely think of something. But for the moment, this is all that’s yielded.

 

EDC

•25 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

On my first day of a white-collar job, I will need to go in armed and armored. I would like to be prepared with multiple armor-sets. Loosely speaking: several suits, all (most likely) in enticing shades of mid-light grey. Accessories will be grouped into Black, Chestnut, and Blue. Some things will not need to be matched to dress. Some will.

Things I’ll need to buy are in bold.

MATCHED TO DRESS:

Briefcase: ChestnutGurkah counselorBlack: The same in walnut. BlueLV.

Pen: Black: My Cross, or a Montblanc Meisterstück 149. BlueOmas ART. ChestnutDupont Defi. Inks to match.

Notepad: Moleskine “Volant”, light grey or dark; maybe something lighter to match with chestnut.

Casual watch: I can put my Desk Diver on steel, my Timex flieger on chestnut, and my Radiomir clone has leather bands in black, blue, and brown – God bless China.

Formal watch: Dress on leather (black, brown, blue, or chestnut – I’ve got ’em all).

Wallet: Chestnut: Gurkah passport. Blue: Bellroy slim-sleeve or Gurkah classic. I have one in black, or I will replace with another Gurkah.

Shoes: Black: Allen Edmonds “Cornwallis”. Chestnut: Stacy Adams “Corrado”. I also have a pair of blue strandmoks, grey Bass brogues, and oxblood Cole Haan monkstraps – but all are rather casual.

Belts: The three colors of this LV would work – but God that’s expensive.

UNIVERSAL:

Phone: Samsung S7 Active with 256GB MicroSD

Laptop: Lenoxo X270, maxed out

Multitool: Leatherman Style CS OR Skeletool CX

Springbar tool: W&W mini

Flashlight: Olight 90, battery, OR Thrunite 1100, rechargeable

Compass: Suunto clipper

Magnifier: Pocket fresnel lens

Battery pack: Lumsing 10400mAh, with quickcharge plug and cable

Towel: PackTowel “Nano”, grey

Toiletries: Deodorant – hand cream – sunscreen – lip balm

Collar stays: Exuvius titanium multitool

Ties: Yeah, I’m good.

 

To do this from tip to tail will cost me about eight thousand dollars. The best that can be said is that these costs should all be amortized over a minimum of a decade, quite possibly 3 or 4. And I will have the true pleasure, in every occurrence, of buying the best – which ain’t nothing.

There would be other expenses. Five suits, ten shirts, ten pairs of underwear, ten pairs of socks – at a minimum. Call it another three grand right there. But such is life.

Of course I could get away with doing things more cheaply. Deciding to only wear one color of accessory, instead of all three, would cut three or four grand from the above. And I could wear cheaper suits. But I would not want to. It would reflect poorly, on me and on my company. Can’t have that.

 

All Earthly Happiness

•22 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Here’s my ideal life, then:

I live in a little apartment. It’s got a 15×15 living room, a 15×10 loft with a little staircase. Big windows, hardwood floors. Nothing more.

A kitchen at the back of the living-room, gas stove and big fridge and dish-washer. A pair of closets at the back of the loft. Central air.

In a perfect world it would be high enough that the windows would let you see some building-tops, a little sky. Or failing that a roof that does the same. But it’s not necessary.

The building has a safe space to park my bicycle. It has a gym for residents. It’s just a few blocks to work.

I have my kitchen gear: gyuto, stand-mixer, rice-cooker, sous vide. I have my coffee and tea kits. I have my apothecarist’s wall of spices. I have my Weck jars, my china, my silly little glasses.

I have my computer. I have my headphones and that’s really all I need. I position my biking gear, my hiking gear, my making gear.

I’d need a few things. I’d spend a hundred dollars at the grocery store, I’d spend two hundred at the liquor store (mezcal and calvados, Luxardo and Laphroaig). I could use a couch or the Ikea equivalent – but I could live without.

I’ll need a few new pieces of clothing. By the end of the summer I hope to need a new most everything. Five new suits, ten new dress shirts and boxers, a few polos and and clothes to exercise. But that’s about all I’ll need. Shoes and watches, hats and ties; these are things that don’t change size.

It looks like such an apartment, in Manhattan, would cost about three grand a month. I could live on ten a year in food and wine. If my job gives me health insurance, I’d need to clear fifty grand after taxes just to break even. Call it 60 a year, just to live.

But that’s all I’d need. I don’t have student loans to pay. I don’t need to save for retirement just yet. I don’t need fancy dinners and fancy wine. Just a clear route to the Hudson bike trail on weekends, or maybe a membership at the Frick for a rainy day.

Could I spend a thousand bucks on a new pair of Sennheisers, two thousand on a Lenovo two-battery? Could I buy a leather campaign-chair, a cedar blanket-chest, a Frankl skyscraper in black walnut and white maple? Could I buy three new pairs of Allen Edmonds, a camel-hair overcoat, a Gurkah Counselor Could I buy a Nautilus, a 5270G? Sure. But I don’t need to.

This, right here, is what I need to make a life.

So let’s talk about the life. That’s easy. I want to WORK. I want to make money. I want to work towards the possibility of earning a very large amount of money.

In my ideal life, I would wake up at 6:30 every morning. I’d drink a long tall tumbler of iced green tea. I’d go downstairs and spend an hour in the gym, half on weights, half on the bike. I’d come up and shower and suit up. I’d be at the office by 8.

I’d then work for twelve hours. I would work hard and I would GET PAID. Most likely in finance. Maybe at a law office. Maybe in business or VC. But I would WORK. I would GET PAID. I’d make more than the sixty that I’d need.

I’d work from eight to eight, twelve hours a day. Then I’d come home and call the day all done. I’d go for a walk. I’d go for a bike ride. I’d go down to the bar and have a beer. I’d sit in bed watching television through the V of my feet and that would be fucking fine. Because I want to work, and everything else is so much saffron. And that is what I would do, seven days a week.

If I made more money, would I spend it? Probably not. There are a few things I wouldn’t mind owning but they’re not necessary. If I had a million dollars, would I buy the X6 and the Super Record and the 5270G? Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter that much to me.

Would I get a larger apartment? Maybe. I don’t think so. I wouldn’t plan to be there very much. I want to work. I want to know I’m EARNING. That is the reward in this life. That’s for me.

 

Cheap Living

•21 April 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sally Greubel decided she really liked hiking. She didn’t really like anything else. So she set herself to figuring out what she would need for fifty years of such a life.

She’d need a base of operations, really. A place to store her stuff, a place to come home to. She could pick up a little house in a dying little town for ten grand, tax value of thirty. Five hundred bucks a year in state and municipal taxes. Five hundred bucks a year in utilities – she wouldn’t be there all that much. Five hundred a year in upkeep is more than she’d need. Call it eighty grand for a lifetime, tip to tail.

And to live, herself? A thousand a year would keep her in minutes, data, and a new cell phone whenever she needed. The state would cover her health care. Fifty grand to live the life connected.

Hiking, then. She’d have expenses. Clothing and camp-gear. Call it two thousand a year to have a margin of safety. Food and expenses. A thousand a month would do her well. And another thousand a year in bus fare and plane fees, getting to Point A so she could hike to B.

Eight hundred and fifty grand. By the time she saved that, she’d be too old to hike.

 
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