Part 130

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I discuss author Jeremy Robinson, and his Infinite Timeline. Also, a look at why companies such as Amazon have become so powerful. There are the usual financial updates, and some developments regarding my autism assessment.

https://bewareofmonsters.com

“One universe.  One end.”

I first stumbled across Jeremy Robinson’s work in 2021.  Since then, I’ve finished 49 of his books.  It’s fair to say I’m a big fan.  What I, and it seems many others, like about his work is the meta aspect to it.  Some of his stories are referenced as works of fiction by characters in his other novels, and the pop culture references come thick and fast.  The dialogue is always snappy and engaging and his characters talk like people you’d want to hang out with.  Compared to the Axis of Time series I’ve just completed by John Birmingham, where the dialogue was utterly cringeworthy, the difference is like night and day. 

The Infinite Timeline is the current shared world under construction by Jeremy.  It’s a collection of twelve novels, most of which can be enjoyed as standalone stories.  However, as you read more of these books, you realise there are crossovers and easter eggs all over the place.  The novels weave together a shared universe that spans all of space and time.  The scale of the project is immense, and the fact that Jeremy Robinson, and his editor Kane Gilmour, are making it work is a testament to their craft.  

The latest part of the Infinite Timeline, The Order, saw characters from several previous books come together.  I don’t want to say too much for those who haven’t yet read the story, but the teaming up of these characters made me mark out as much as when I watched The Avengers for the first time.

Many fans of this series have said it would be amazing on the big screen.  I see where these people are coming from, but I think it would work better as a big-budget series, as it would allow the characters to breathe more.  I think a series that focuses on the different threads coming together over time, like The Witcher, would work well.

I can’t wait for the final two books, Khaos and Singularity.  If you’re looking for something to binge on over the summer, check out the Infinite Timeline.  

Weekly Update

It’s been a busy week, which started with my girlfriend and I attending a veggie food market.  At first, we didn’t like the look of the food on offer but we tried a few things and were pleasantly surprised.  We had halloumi fries, karage cauliflower, and chips with a chaat sauce.  It wasn’t a mind-blowing experience but we gave it a try and it was nice to get out together.

Our little lady Poppy had a busy weekend with a friend coming over, and then my parents coming over to pay homage to our new feline master.  It was a busy Easter weekend, but enjoyable.

I started the working week on Tuesday with my autism assessment.  As expected, it was confirmed that I am autistic.  It hasn’t, and doesn’t, change anything about who I am.  Autism isn’t something you catch, and I’m the same person I always was.  What the assessment gave me was answers, which help explain parts of my past, and why I’m the way I am.

The assessment was mentally draining.  A lot of memories were brought up from long ago, and a lot of things were given a context that I’d not considered before.  I’m glad I pursued this, and the outpouring of support from the autistic community on Twitter was humbling.  I’ve told other people about being autistic and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.  There are a few people who misunderstand autism, and who no doubt would have negative opinions, but I’ve just stopped giving a shit about their views.

Another highlight of the week was me passing 1,000 days without gambling. I’ve posted several times about my gambling addiction and when I was at my worst, I never could have imagined going 1,000 days without betting. It’s such a great feeling, and if you are struggling with your own gambling please feel free to reach out. There is an extremely supportive community of former problem gamblers on Twitter.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog, and I’ve met some great people because of it.  Maintaining a website costs money though, and if you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider a donation to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 120.5kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC) (in progress)
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before (1/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. 

What I’m listening to: The Iliad by Homer

What I’m watching: MasterChef on BBC iPlayer.  Anatomy of a Scandal on Netflix.

I haven’t made much progress on my book this week as I’ve been wiped out after work.  I’ve spent most evenings drifting to sleep on the sofa.  I’ve started The Iliad for a second time, but with a different narrator.  I tried it a couple of years ago but the narration was awful.  This version is much better.  I’m still early in the story but so far I’m enjoying it.

We’ve started a show on Netflix, Anatomy of a Scandal, which is decent so far.  It starts Rupert Friend as a Tory MP who is accused of rape, with Sienna Miller playing his wife.  In many ways, it’s a bog-standard legal thriller, but there are a few mysteries being uncovered with hints at unreliable narration when different characters are remembering past events.  We’re halfway through and I’ve already called one of the major plot twists.  It’s not a show that’s breaking new ground but it’s something to pass the time.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £18,550.00 (up £10,550.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,331.42 (up £937.93 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (down £4,200.00 from last update). 

Pensions: £52,566.47 (up £639.53 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £218,291.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £140,863.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £473,601.89 (up £7,927.46 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £1,163.44 (down £305.11 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £164,465.27 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,385.26 (up £12,500 from last update). 

Total Debts: £271,013.97 (up £12,194.89 from last update).

Total Wealth: £202,587.92 (down £4,267.43 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £877.70 (target £6,000).

A good week for income with an end-of-year dividend from one of my funds being paid.  We released £12,500 from our BTL, which was going to be used for a BTL purchase immediately, but we’ve had to put the brakes on that plan for now.  Each property we think we’ve found has then had a surprise waiting for us, such as the property already being under offer but this not being disclosed when viewing, or the property not being available on vacant possession.  So, our search continues.  To avoid the funds sitting in the bank account and not working for us, we’ve split the funds down the middle and have invested them until we are ready to move on a second BTL.

I decided to deplete my Fuck It Fund as I thought I’d need all the funds now for the reasons stated above.  I’m not concerned about having nothing saved for an emergency, as the funds are still mine but just in my Premium Bonds instead of a dedicated bank account.  If an emergency comes up, I can pull the money back out.

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, etc…

Off the back of last week’s Amazon debacle, I was chatting with a few people about the necessary evils of mega-corporations like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.  These businesses are huge and have made some people extremely wealthy.  I understand, to a degree, why people feel it’s obscene for such a small number of people to hoard such vast amounts of riches.  In a world where children starve to death, and where the elderly have to choose between heat or food, it is sickening.  The situation is not as simple as some make it out to be though.

I am going to make an assumption here, but I think it’s a fair assumption; of the people reading this blog, nearly every single reader will have a Facebook account, an Apple product, or have ordered from Amazon in the last six months.  I would say it’s probably as many as 99% of my readers.  Of those, many probably feel uncomfortable about the wealth held by Bezos or Zuckerberg.  The thing is, one cannot say that their wealth is abhorrent whilst also freely giving more money to them.  Yes, by all means, criticise their business practices and hold them to account for treating employees like crap, but these people are rich for a reason; they have created a service or product that people love, or have, to use.  

I’m going to take a little detour, but it’s relevant.  Where can you buy the best burgers? In my city of Sheffield, it’s probably Fat Hippo.  They make an incredible cheeseburger.  However, McDonald’s has way more customers and sells orders of magnitude more food.  There’s a simple explanation.  McDonald’s has a solid business model and burgers are made almost industrially.  There is consistency in their service and product.  You can walk into a McDonald’s in London, Bucharest, New York, or Amsterdam, and it’s the same experience.  It’s exactly the same idea as Starbucks.  They don’t make the best coffee, but the experience is the same the world over. 

The advantage these businesses have is that they sell in such volume that their markup on products can afford to be smaller.  Funnily enough, McDonald’s makes a huge amount of money from property, not food.  In fact, the former CEO of the company, ​​Harry J. Sonneborn, argued that McDonald’s is not a food company but a property business.  They make money from the rent paid by their tenants who operate franchises.  

How is this relevant to obscene wealth?  People want convenience, entertainment, and familiarity.  You can go to McDonald’s and get a cheap burger which they might only make a few pence profit on.  You can go to Amazon and order a notebook for which the margin may only be a few pence.  These businesses have created an unmatched experience that makes our lives easier in some way.  The main reason these businesses are successful is that they’ve produced something that people find appealing.  This innovation was possible because of the promise of vast wealth if the project was a success.  In short, it’s a necessary evil if you want to be able to order a book for next day delivery, or a 99p cheeseburger.

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern.

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

http://www.darrenscothern.com

One thought on “Part 130

  1. What you describe Jeremy Robinson doing with his world sounds like what Brandon Sanderson has done with his Cosmere world – currently around 20 books, likely to end up double that I believe. I’m only a few books in!

    A shame I can’t find any of Robinson’s books in the library, else I’d give them a try.

    Regarding the evils of mega-corporations, I see there are cries that Elon Musk could have used his billions to solve world poverty but instead, he bought Twitter and made their owners billionaires. As you say, he’s rich because people around the world use/buy/believe in his product – if not him, it would have been someone else. As billionaires go, he doesn’t appear to be as charitable as say Bill Gates, not yet anyway, as far as public reports go.

    And yes, I too am guilty of paying for convenience, just to save a bit of time.

    Like

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