The ResilientDad blog has moved!

It’s taken me some time to figure out the move but I think things are fully operational now at MakeResilient.com. This is important to me as this means a commitment to continuing the blog on a higher level for me. I am focusing on creating new content for living a resilient lifestyle amidst the changes we are facing in this new industrial revolution or the automation revolution as some have dubbed it. I’ve set up a sort of editorial calendar to keep me ahead of blog topics and what needs to be drafted or researched. Lots to learn, but if there is anything I like about this path, it is the continuous learning process.

New posts have already been added to the new site over at MakeResilient.com. If you liked the material here in ResilientDad, I’m working hard to making them better over at MakeResilient. Thank you!watson

Finding a house fit for resilience

My family and I have been planning on buying a house and hope to do so in the next few months. There are a lot of things to consider in buying a house,these are some of the more unconventional considerations I have. These may rage against what your broker will say, but then again, these are unconventional ideas for unconventional times.

strawberry-manion-high-school

I do not get too hung up on the school district.

My wife hates this, but I do not believe the public school system will be as prominent in the future. The flaws in the school system has been made more obvious with the surge of entrepreneurship-and people are realizing that school only teaches kids to be wage slaves. There is a massive growth in alternative schooling and public schools are being shut down all over the country.
If your home value is tied to the local school district, then your value goes down when they do. BUT your taxes will probably remain the same.

farmers-market-17

The city should have a good local, robust economy

We are not looking at distant cities, but just those around us. We scouted some ideal locations a few weeks back-however after checking out the city info, it turns out they have a couple of large universities in the area. This is not an issue by itself, but this may mean the local economy is tied to the college (probably is). My issue there is the future of the university as a thriving institution. Fore more info, Google “student loan bubble”.
A few other considerations are:
  • is the area dependent on manufacturing jobs which might be automated? 
  • Are there large retail areas which are showing signs of decay? 
  • Are there signs of rezoning for apartment construction?
  • How much land is still undeveloped?
unique-backyard-garden-clawfoot-bathtub-planter-box-eclectic-landscape-by-melissa-mascara-design

The city should not have regulations about homesteading

A few cities in my area-including my current one-have restrictions to owning livestock in the backyard. If we are not purchasing a large lot, if we are staying in the suburbs, I at least need to be free to have some type of livestock. As an example, it turns out that most cities we looked at only allow 2 chickens.
This ties to my plans for gardening also. I plan to have a good sized, producing garden in my yard. I do not want any restrictions on rain catchment or water storage or where I can install a trellis. These things don’t sound important-until you realize that you cannot build them.

No HOAs

I do not want to be burdened by my neighbor’s preferences. I do not want to fund their authority to dictate to others or to myself. Do not talk to me about property values-I plan to address those from a higher vantage point that does not need the HOA as an excuse to exist.
rinspeed_16x9

Distance is not as big an issue

Travel distance is still an issue but it may notbe as big. With the predicted arrival of autonomous cars, it will be easier to commute a 20 mile distance to the office. Plus the fact that telecommuting will be a more common part of most jobs in the future. The 20 mile commute may even be a very pleasing experience, where one gets to escape from the humdrum tasks and focus on personal leisure-like writing or reading. You will of course still need to consider the time to commute, as that would be time away from the family. But, with robocars and telecommuting you have a lot of options compared to how things used  to be.
So there you go, a short list of things I consider when we look for a house. These may sound contrary to most advice from real estate professionals-this is just my list. You will need to do some research on the concerns above. You can read more of it here but I really suggest doing your own research as new information comes up on these issues on almost a daily basis.
Do the research, form your opinions and discuss it with your family. What are your goals for the home in the next 5 years? In the next 10? To me, a few of the items above are critical so I need to be prepared to talk about it with my family.
Do you have other suggestions? Please help a guy out in finding that home he can really set roots in.

Road trip: Convoy tips for families

We have been traveling quite a lot, and on more than a few occasions we find ourselves with another family in a separate car. Sometimes it is on our turf, other times it is on theirs. Either way, we have learned some practical convoy techniques. This blog will be short and sweet, so here we go:

Each car must have the same address of the destination
Sounds very basic, but keep in mind if you get separated the following vehicle’s first reaction goes kinda like “Oh crap now I have to catch up or I might miss the turn/exit” or panic and just try to catch up. Having the knowledge that you can all get there with a gps reduces this stress

Communicate stops/breaks
This way if you decide you want to get some burgers for the kiddos, the other car is not scratching their head why you are taking the wrong exit

The more conservative/careful driver may be better at taking the lead
For me, driving with my kids in the car make me more careful and I take less risks in driving. In a sense I am driving slower for the following car, but we all need to work as a team. You can only be as fast as your slowest team member-in this case that driver sets the pace. If communicated before the trip, the following cars will take note and can anticipate a reasonable speed.

The last vehicle can open up lane changes

changing-lanes
The last car is in the best position to open up lane changes. He can change lanes (one at a time preferably) and each car ahead of him can change lanes in sequence. This is very effective but needs the first car to signal the lane change early on. The signal lights get relayed to the last car and he looks for an opportunity to change lanes. If you are on a freeway waiting for your exit, depending on your speed, you will want the first car to signal the change maybe 2 miles early.

At stop lights, stop signs, give lots of room
These create big gaps in your convoy if not timed right. The car ahead must adjust timing considering if the cars behind can keep up. Do not run thru yellow traffic lights or you risk the car behind you getting cut off.

Cellphones are good, radios are better

gettyimages-476985830-0
Each time we drive with family in a convoy, we keep wishing we brought a 2 way radio. The main convenience is you hit one button to communicate, and you can do so to the entire convoy. You don’t have to dial someone on the phone and redial for another car. An FRS/GMRS radio would work well for this, and those are fairly inexpensive.

Communicate the route

google-transit
Even when we have given addresses so we all have it on our GPS, we still communicate what route we plan on taking. No specifics, but just so they understand the general pace/route. On our last road trip, I took an exit and stopped for coffee at a small town. While there, I explained to my dad how we will change the route and stay out of the freeway and use the backroads. This implied we would drive slower, but may have a more scenic trip in this place we were exploring.

Lead car checks traffic

driving-in-heavy-traffic
My wife has gotten really good at being my navigator on these trips. Part of the task is checking for traffic ahead before we hit it. This way, we can veer off the freeway and take backroads. Instead of spending 3 hrs at the freeway, we can spend 2 hrs exploring the small towns along the way-less stress and a more pleasant experience.

 

Giveaway: homeschool activity sheets on entrepreneurship & critical thinking

WHAT?

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I am giving away free activity sheets for homeschoolers who are interested in teaching their kids about:
-entrepreneurship
-problem solving
-critical thinking
-resilience

These are aimed at kids from 4 to 7 yo. These will be in pdf format for you to print and do the exercise with.

WHY?

I want to know if there is a desire in the homeschool community to teach on these subjects. If the demand is there, I will gladly provide free materials for 8 weeks (1 per week) to folks who help me validate this business. I do ask for help by giving me some feedback. These are things I really hope to teach to my kids, and perhaps other parents could use some teaching materials on the subject! If there is not a lot of demand/response I will still email you the first set of worksheets for your use. This survey does not capture emails, so I will reach out separately later on for the download link to the worksheets.

Please email me suggestions and questions at resilientdadblog @ gmail dot com.

Thank you!

 

 

Being intentional about finding family time

Brain dump:
Note to self that with all the things I am working to get done, I must not neglect to find time for family. Looking at my day to day, I have about 2 hours during dinner available for quality family time. The plan is to make the most of these 2 hours to have good quality conversation and family bonding. Plan on expanding that time and find more opportunity to make optimal use of what we have.

Hey, if things are going to work, you have to make sure the family is taken cared of.

3D printing for kids-getting my son started

This last weekend was my son’s first foray into 3D. One of my concerns about the changes in the future is how everything will be available in a 3D digital environment. With the growth of 3D printers and virtual reality, I feel it is not too early for my son to try out some 3D software and kind of get his mind to understand how the process works. As with most things software related, one of the key things is to understand how the software communicates and if I can get him to understand some of that, it should make things tons easier.

We started with a fairly easy program called Sketchup. It allows you to draw basic shapes then “pull” them into a 3D figure by giving the 2D shape a height. The software was created by Google maybe 6 years ago and has since been bought by Trimble. It is available for free (there is also an upgraded version for a small price). You can find it here.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what to do to get started:

  1. Download it and install it
  2. Start the software by clicking on Sketchup 2016 (it has this icon) kohtob83zevb2ulvyd10_400x400
  3. Select a template-maybe pick english units so your stuff is in feet & inches
  4. When you get to the workspace/screen to draw on, press “R” for rectangle.
  5. Draw rectangle
  6. Press “P” for pull. Hover on the rectangle (it should be gray/dark blue) Then click on the rectangle and drag your mouse to a height you want.
  7. Play with this command for a bit. draw rectangles on that block you just did, and repeat the pull command (“P”)
A little background about my son. He likes Legos, building blocks, puzzles. He likes putting things together. He’s kind of grown tired of his Legos too so we need to switch him onto some new constructive and educational toy. He has an app called Toca Builders on the Ipad. This app is pretty fun, you control a bunch of goofy robots, each having their own capabilities, and you can build your mini city. My point is that my son is interested in assembling things, either in his imagination or tactile.

So back to Sketchup. Before I showed it to him, I spent a few minutes to draw something that resembled a building. Something easy and blocky and put in some things to manipulate easily so he can play with it.

I then asked him to check out what I did. I did not show him any commands other than the “pull” command which lets you stretch things out from a surface. I had a box drawn on a wall, and using the pull command we pushed it back so it became a recess on the wall and became a window. We messed around a bit. We pulled a similar box from the wall and created a volume that seemed like a bridge. It did not have to be a bridge, he was using his imagination. All I did was give him a scale of what structure I drew.

With the orbit command-or by holding down the mouse wheel, I spun the model about so he can see the other sides of the building. It helped him understand that this was an environment he can manipulate.

Seeing that you can do something cool gets kids really interested. The imagination jumps immediately to what the possibilities are. Obviously I need to keep them balanced and make sure they are not frustrated when he learns he cannot make that super cool metropolis model this morning.

So I put a mouse on (gave him some basic instructions on left click, scrolling and pushing down the wheel) and showed him some hot keys. Also showed him the tools so he can relate the icons to the functions. I then guided him to do some basic things:

  1. Press “R”
  2. Draw a rectangle
  3. Keep drawing on the surface plane (the ground, it is colored gray on the screen)
  4. I pointed out how the cursor shows you 3 lines that correspond to the 3D environment on the software. These are red, green and blue. Blue means you are giving an object dimension/height
  5. Press “P” and hover on the rectangle-it will highlight, meaning it is ready to be manipulated
  6. Drag the highlighted rectangle upwards to give it height
  7. Ta-da!

From there we just kept repeating the process. We did a bunch more boxes and buildings. We can tweak them later, right now it is more of a muscle memory on the mouse and making the tools/hot keys familiar. There was no pressure to get it right, the goal was just to experiment. Obviously do this when you have time to slow down and not be hurried to get results. This is a creative process and will need experimentation.

Here is a quick video about some basic tools

 

The next step from here for us, is to put together a small thingie-anything will work, limited only by his imagination. One for him and one for myself.   We will then take the sketchup model and print it using a 3D printer.   I am thinking that would be awesome-seeing something you made digitally, and then convert that to a gizmo you can touch and use. That would be super cool, a great project for me and my kiddo and it wont really cost us much. If anything the printing might cost me $20 🙂

Learning to validate a business for newbie entrepreneur

Brain dump of things learned today

Listened to Noah Kagan (Appsumo) as he coaches his students on the Monthly1k course how to validate their business. I have spent a lot of time making a product and not knowing earlier if the business was valid or not. With his videos I am understanding how to validate first, before spending much time on a product.

Here is a link to one of their sessions:

Also, kind of explain why I keep blabbering about how I am starting a business, when the blog is supposed to be all about having a resilient family. Basically, because the future needs us to be all entrepreneurs. I need to get out of a 9 to 5 job so I can work on the things that really matter.

Cold call results = 2+1 restaurants to test

So this week I have been trying to get back on the urban farm, trying to get it back up and going. (A couple of months ago I lost my last restaurant account and so it has been totally nonprofitable). I think I listed about 15 or so restaurants and just kept calling in the last few weeks. Luckily I got 2 of them to pick up and express interest. I am scheduled to bring them samples next week. I am going to work on those this weekend-actually Friday night. I need to get seeds into the soil. Also, I got a separate email from a previous chef who also used my microgreens. She told me she wanted to get some samples for this new restaurant where she is working at-awesome! That is a potential 3 restaurants in the next 2 weeks. Hopefully one or two of them push thru and sign up for weekly orders.
Cold calling:
A quick thing on how this process works for me. Basically I run a search online for restaurants and check their price range and sometimes their menus. I have been using Yelp, because the reviews there are helpful and the pricing is already shown in one app. It also shows a map of the restaurants so I can sort the calls via area and hit that area in one shot.
So I get a list of restos and then plug them in to Evernote. This lets me run out during office breaks to make my quick calls and not need any notebook/paper or pen to make notes. I do not have a lot of time to fuss, so I have to be efficient. I have all my real time updates on my phone right after I am done with the call. Here is a sample of the list with my notes on it:
resto-calls
So from the screenshot above, I had my original contact info. Sometimes menu notes. Then I do my calls during office breaks. Right afterwards, the notes I add are highlighted. I can schedule follow up calls on my calendar and keep track of progress. It is very light on my workload done this way, but I do need to transfer notes to a more permanent location when I have enough. Usually this is a spreadsheet on my Google drive.
Anyway, so tonight I will be planting my crops and soaking my seeds.
Also, this weekend I will be changing the oil in our jeep. I know it’s a tiny thing, but I am building knowledge on how to fix/maintain my own vehicle. One of the first things I learned was oil change.
Will also be redoing our living room coffee table. We have been scheming on what to do with this old piece of furniture that my wife got at the local thrift store. We thought we would change the glass top of it to planks of wood and try something different with it. It’s pretty cool, these types of projects have gotten my wife working with tools. She has learned a bunch of new things on her own. I try to just be there to consult and let her find her own initiative.
Update: Saturday 7am
I got up early and planted the microgreen samples. I wasted some time cleaning up the work table I have to do this in. The last few weeks of inactivity for the farm resulted in us dumping crap from other projects onto my farm work table. A ton of stuff there was from the scavenge trip we did at that end of the garage sale. I did a tray of each crop I have. I am done planting now & will be working on the blog for a bit.
micros-in-tray

A branding question

Today, a branding question, a business question. If you are also interested in building your own business, this may be a useful question to ask yourself.

As part of my path to building a resilient future for me and my family, I have been scheming to build a business. This blog is my latest project in fact. Having my own businesses will let me spend more time with my family, and will let me be more adaptable to the changes I am anticipating in the years ahead-with society and with the economy.

Tonight I was doing research on what to name the site, how to brand what I am building. I know it has a name for wordpress and youtube. If I had to change it, I could. It is really early and if it helps me in any way I can afford the change now. I had planned on running an ad and see which received more hits. I read about this from Tim Ferris’ 4 hour Work Week. He used Google ads to test hits on 3 or so other names for the book. (I read the other options, he picked the right one). Tonight I was reviewing what useful keywords should I have for the book. It was a very short list.

Apparently not a lot of people search for resilient + dad. Pretty much there was not a lot of hits for resilient at all-at least not in the context I was expecting. Most of it was related to recovery and therapy. Further down the 1.9Million hits, there were also results for how to raise resilient kids. It also linked to Peak Prosperity’s page but the forum was not very active. Another indication perhaps that the keywords were not great for the context we both thought of. At least at some point there was a connection. It just seemed there was not a strong enough word association to it.

After some time I realized I was going around in circles. What I found was pretty much definitive. Resilient, as of today, is not very highly associated to self reliant, being adaptable and…resilient living. I just could not think of any better word-sorry for the circular reasoning bit.

The question I had then was this:

Being that I know that my goals and context are best defined as resilience and considering that the rest of the internet world does not think of it that way, do I stick to it? Or do I change my words so that they better associate to what the current society is looking at right now?

Do you change the core value that is part of the name, so that you can reach the market-and then maybe return them back to the core value you started with? Or do you assume that at some point, people will realize that your definition of the word, and the context you offer, actually is what they were looking for. And then find that market thru other actions and words instead of just the original keywords:resilient?

Limitations on understanding

[side note: this is kind of off the topic but I decided to write it regardless. I feel it is important to me, and maybe one day it will make better sense and will be easier to explain. These are random thoughts of an overworked dad]

I was putting my children to sleep a few moments ago and I was wondering in amazement how our kids are showing us amazing things that prove how we are connected. When I was growing up, we always called it “he/she is just like you”, or “he/she takes after you” referring to how our characteristics, attitudes and talents are the same. My folks always called these things as just stuff you inherited from your family.

It puzzles me how today we always say it was passed to you through your DNA. All those abstract things and attributes -some of which we do not even have words for – lumped into things encoded in this DNA that you got from your ancestors.It so conveniently simplifies how they were passed on to you. These are things difficult to capture in words: habits and preferences in food, clothes, activities; love for nature, outdoors, arts, sciences; hard skills, soft skills; disdain for things; fears; passions. These occur even when a child is not raised by their biological parent. Some of them are learned, some were just always there.

I call this incomplete. I believe we refer to these things as being in our DNA only because it is something we can quantify by our modern sciences. We can see it using empirical data- data we can measure by the machines, technology, charts and photos that we have under our toolbox. It results in circular reasoning, believing in data that is only achievable by methods designed to find a specific form of data.

There are things we do not understand yet-we know of their occurrences by personal experiences or documented experiences by many others. They are all fairly common. However, we do not have scientific methods and equipment suited to converting them to said empirical data which we are trained to rely on.

I believe in the supernatural. By that I mean things that are beyond what we can sense and perceive in the “natural”world. I believe there is more to the physical things around us-and in this regard I believe the nebulous things we get from our ancestors/grandparents/nationalities are inherited thru means beyond what our modern sciences can interpret. It is pretty difficult to measure something if we do not know what we are looking for.

My profession is dying

For quite some time I have been tracking all the automation trends: Uber with their automated Volvos, Farmbot with their CNC gardening bot, automated tractors, farming equipment , tools and devices to improve previously heavy labor.

I was wondering how this would affect my profession (architecture). I kept thinking that even the current software we use still requires the designer to provide input. To coordinate issues, to solve problems-on paper and on the field, to communicate with the bureaucrats and to explain the massive building code requirements.

I mean yes the use of BIM software would eliminate a lot of the conflicts and simplify a lot of the construction process. Still, with all the variables and conflicts that come up-owner requests, field conditions, errors in fabrication, compensations for schedule-I could not come up with how mere software can replace my job.

Until I chanced upon this article today. It was all by chance. I learned of a new job description yesterday so I thought I would try it. Basically, the name of the job is (blank) automation (blank), or automation (blank). Whatever the job was, add automation to it, and something would come up.

I ran a search for automation design by mistake. I ended up with  a great article from TechCrunch from June 2016 by Karl Brunner. Here is a link. His article summed it up for me in one word: AI. It is not some kind of mechanical automation, advances in fabrication. It was not the design software we used to make the building plans. It was the actual design software that the end users will use. With AI, the computer can interact with the end user in their preferred method and let them conceive of the environment they want to build. Myself and most designers would cease being the gatekeepers. It hit me in the gut pretty hard (it was a Tuesday morning right after my annual employee review, so this article had to be pretty strong to hit me after the fact).

Think about it, how many products can you currently acquire using AI? I was recently trying to find branding info for this urban farm I am running, and I used AI to come up with some logo and website concepts. Websites are designed with AI. The designers have been sucked of their creativity and their skills now reproduced and scaled by technology.

On the other hand, realizing that I was working as a gatekeeper also sucked. I do not want to be someone who profits by restricting access to something of benefit. I always wanted architecture to improve lives, and always thought there were a lot of flaws in our current system. A few days ago I was pondering on some kind of Uber approach to the industry, that it may be the only way to force change on it. Maybe this is that.

Rather than being a quick relay of info on that TechCrunch article this post actually going somewhere. There is no conclusion here. Only that I need to go and review this direction further. How can I be a part of this evolution, where it holds the potential of truly opening up architecture for the benefit of the end user?