Part 153

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  Well, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for some investors, and the mortgage industry is going crazy.  I discuss this, and how it impacts on my BTL plans.  Also, another look at spoon theory in the context of the knife hypothesis (I’m not making this up, honest).  Finally, a frustrating week of medical appointments and visits to hospital.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

I’ve talked about Spoon Theory before, but I’ve only recently heard of The Knife Hypothesis (TKH).  Before I discuss the latter, I’ll just quickly recap the former.

Spoon theory comes from the idea that we all have a reserve of spoons each day.  The amount can vary depending on a range of factors, but for this example I’ll assume I’ve got 10 spoons.  Whenever we do something, we use up spoons.  Cooking a meal from scratch might use three spoons.  Making a call to your mortgage provider might use five spoons.  Eventually, you run out of spoons.  I’ve heard people talk about spoon deficit before, and TKH takes this idea and develops it further.  Once you’ve run out of spoons, you reach into the drawer and find only knives. 

Now, knives have their purpose and can sometimes be used for other things.  For example, you might use a knife to scoop out peanut butter but if you lick the knife you risk cutting yourself, whereas if you had licked the spoon the risk is lower.  So, TKH suggests that you can use knives to some degree but as they are not the optimal tool for daily activity you risk hurting yourself and others.  If you need a spoon but you only have a knife, then you really need to get more spoons.  Frustratingly the only tried and tested way to replenish spoons is to rest, and for autistics it involves finding a place that allows for relaxation and recuperation.  

Things that help me recover faster:

  • External quiet; little to no noise distractions.
  • Escaping to another world through a good audiobook or physical book.
  • Going down a Youtube/Wikipedia rabbit hole on a subject that’s interesting to me.  (Lately this has been analysing the logistical problems facing the Russian military in Ukraine).  

Things that stop me recovering:

  • Being distracted by competing demands for my attention.
  • Other senses being activated because of a funky smell or an uncomfortable texture of clothing, or an uncomfortable temperature. 
  • Knowing there are things that need doing, but not being able to face them because I’m out of spoons.

It can be a catch-22 situation; not having the spoons to do something, but not being able to recover them because you feel under pressure due to the things that need doing.

It has felt, in recent weeks, like I’ve been running on empty, or living in a spoon deficit.  If you stay too long in a deficit, it only leads to one thing – burnout.  I’m not talking about being shattered and having a good meal and sleep sorting you out.  I’m talking about a state of burnout that leaves you damaged in a way that you can never fully recover from.  

I’ve likened this situation, complete burnout I mean, to a flood.  Imagine you have a large river, and the river is dammed.  On either side of the river is farmland.  The farmland represents your physical and mental health.  The river represents the demands of daily life.  The dam is your ability to deal with with the demands of life.  In an ideal world, the flow of water is fairly stable and constant, with only minor surges here and there.  A fully functional dam is able to open and close valves to make sure the flow of water is constant, which in turn helps the farmland remain fertile.

If there is a period of heavy rain, then the river starts to surge.  The dam would then be utilised to make sure that the surge does not destroy the farmland down river.  However, if the rain comes down at a rate that exceeds the dam’s ability to control the flow of water, then the water backs up.  If this continues for long enough, the dam will start to crack.  Eventually, the dam bursts and a wall of water will race down river destroying everything in its path. 

Every person is unique; their river, farmland, dam, and so on are all different.  Some people are able to be very flexible in what they can deal with.  Other people are not.  Taking this idea on a step further, if your dam breaks and the farmland is destroyed, for many people they never fully recover the land that was lost.  Is this a perfect metaphor?  No.  I think it’s a pretty simple way to visualise how people can be overwhelmed, and how people may not always fully recover from trauma.  

Weekly Update

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve been to the hospital every day.  I had an appointment for some x-rays on my hands to investigate why my joints all hurt.  I also sliced into my thumb with a new knife whilst chopping tomatoes.  As it wouldn’t stop bleeding I rocked up at the minor injuries unit for them to stitch me back together.  I also made a few attempts to get some blood tests done via the walk-in service at the hospital.  However, the queue was very long each time I went, so I had to try again.  The idea of waiting in a cramped room for almost two hours where it’s noisy and warm… No.  Just no.  

I’m a bit pissed off as I’ve been unable to do any significant exercise with all of this going on.  The stress has led to more stress, as when I’m stressed, I get stressed about being stressed and it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.  I recently had a few other medical appointments, including my flu vaccine and covid booster.  Now that these vaccines are done, I’m hoping to not have to attend any other medical appointments in person for a while.

On Friday afternoon I had a further medical appointment.  It was the one that should have happened the week before where they had my name and date of birth wrong.  The call was, if I’m being polite, frustrating.  This call relates to a referral made on my behalf.  The person who made the referral wrote a detailed overview of the reasons for the referral.  You would expect that the person receiving the referral would have familiarised themselves with the report prior to the call.  However, the first 15-20 minutes of the call was the person reading the report whilst mumbling to themselves.  Following this, they put me on hold whilst they read the notes of a previous discussion I had with their service last year.  It was half an hour in before we actually started talking about the issues at hand, and at this point, I was not fully engaged with the process as I was just thinking, “surely there’s a more efficient way of doing this.”  The person I was speaking to further alienated me from the process by arguing, in a pretty hostile way, that self-diagnosis of autism is not valid.

To be clear, many autistic people can’t access the resources needed to get a formal diagnosis from a medical professional.  This can be due to the financial, emotional, and cognitive cost (it’s a stressful process, exacerbated if you need to fund it yourself).  Self-diagnosing is not something that autistic people tend to just do on a whim.  Almost every account I’ve read involves a person undertaking a lengthy personal journey of introspection.  The realisation of one’s own neurodivergence is not always a sudden, lightbulb, moment.  To claim that self-diagnosis, or self-identification, as autistic is not valid is insulting and ignorant. It was even more absurd to argue this point because I have a diagnosis from a medical professional, not that it should matter.

At this point, I was ready to just end the call but I stuck it out.  Unfortunately, the process left me completely drained and feeling worse than before I had the call.  It might result in some benefit later down the line, but I’m just not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze.  Thinking back, it’s a really strange hill for this person to die on, but it wasn’t the only one they chose to make a stand on.  We spoke about the next appointment I have with my GP, which is in a couple of weeks for a review of my medications.  This requires a specific type of appointment.  I told them when my appointment was, and the person stated I needed an earlier appointment.  I explained this was the first appointment they had.  I found it strange that this person felt it necessary to argue that it wasn’t the first appointment they had, considering they have nothing to do with my GP practice.  

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 124.3kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)

  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) ✅
  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 (20/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅
  4. Luke Smitherd ✅
  5. Max Skittle ✅
  6. Harlan Coben ✅
  7. Jo Spain ✅
  8. Kate Elizabeth Russell ✅
  9. Kiersten White ✅
  10. Rob Hart ✅
  11. Edward Aubry ✅
  12. Marina J. Lostetter ✅
  13. S. J. Morden ✅
  14. C. J. Tudor ✅
  15. Greer Hendricks ✅
  16. Clare Mackintosh ✅
  17. Stephen Baxter ✅
  18. Pete Wharmby ✅
  19. Devon Price ✅
  20. Nick Jones ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: The Good Samaritan by John Marrs.

What I’m listening to: The Shadows of London: Joseph Bridgeman Book 2 by Nick Jones.

What I’m watching: MCU in timeline order.

I really enjoyed the first Joseph Bridgeman book, And Then She Vanished, but the second book feels a bit forced so far.  I’ll give it a chance though, as I’m only very early into it.  The premise of the first book is that Joe, the protagonist, is looking after his younger sister one day.  She goes missing and is not found.  Fast forward twenty years into the future, and Joe is a mess.  During therapy, he discovers he can time travel.  From that point, he sets out to try and save his sister.  

The MCU marathon is in the home straight.  We’ve finished the Infinity Saga, and in the last few days have watched Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, and Eternals.  Both were dull, and in some parts just cringeworthy.  As I see it there are three main problems facing the MCU at the moment; 

  1. Too much humour.
  2. Poor villains.
  3. Awful special effects.

Having watched the MCU in order in a relatively short period, you can spot where the humour starts to go wrong.  Thor: Ragnarok is a great film.  It refreshed the character of Thor, had a great aesthetic, and some great character moments.  Granted, the villain was still poor, but it’s easy to see why it has over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Around this time, the MCU peaked with Black Panther and Infinity War.  Endgame was still great, but the cracks were starting to show.  Fat Thor was divisive, and in my opinion a poor, childish, attempt at humour.  Following Endgame we’ve had the following films:

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • Black Widow
  • Shang-Chi
  • Eternals
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Thor: Love and Thunder

The two Spider-Man films were decent-to-good.  Black Widow was, if I’m being generous, pointless.  If I’m being harsh, it was a mess.  The visual effects were so poor as to be distracting, and this issue was repeated in Shang-Chi where it was obvious that the characters in many scenes were simply standing in front of a screen displaying a background.  I’m sure there are many talented people working in the VFX department for Marvel, but a quick Google-fu suggests that these people are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.  It shows.

Here we have Florence Pugh in front of a screen showing the sky. I swear this is worse than the Power Rangers effects back in the early 90s.

I really wanted to like Thor: Love and Thunder, but I think it’s actually the worst entry to the MCU so far; yes, worse than The Dark World.  It was insultingly bad and created several plot holes that retroactively cheapen Infinity War and Endgame.  When I look back at the recent MCU releases, you have to back over ten films for the last “great” movie; Infinity War.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,700.00 (+ £4,200.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £58,779.95 (-£4,844.24). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,050.00 (no change).

Pensions: £53,334.62 (+£383.56). 

Residential Property Value: £229,159.00 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £147,876.00 (no change). 

Total Assets: £499,899.57 (-£260.68).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £181,721.51 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,301.46 (no change). 

Total Debts: £287,022.97 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £212,876.60 (-£260.68)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,280.87 (target £6,000).

Since the mini-budget a couple of weeks ago my ISA has lost more than 10% of its value.  It will bounce back in time but it’s still annoying.  Our BTL plans are on hold until the housing market and mortgage industry settles down.  It’s insane how a few utterly incompetent people can fuck the economy so much.  If you missed it, you can click here for my midweek blog on interest rates and the Tory shitshow.

Until the dust settles the plan is simple; pay down debts and save any spare cash in Premium Bonds until the ISA window opens in April.

If you are looking at buying a property and/or increasing your mortgage debt, I would think long and hard about whether it’s a good time to do it.  Take some time out to carefully review your finances, and speak with a financial professional who understands your needs and circumstances.  In this type of economic climate the worst thing you can do is engage in kneejerk reactions.

Also, if you are hearing advice from talking heads on TV, radio, or the internet, ask yourself what their agenda could be.  During periods of instability, such as this, there are opportunities for people to become very wealthy.  A cynical person vulnerable to conspiracy thinking might feel like this clusterfuck was manufactured deliberately to facilitate a transfer of wealth from the general public to those in power.  It’s happened before, is all I’m saying.  

That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

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:

www.darrenscothern.com

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