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Hi friend, 

It's mid-January already. In 2020, we waited for 2021. While the days are passing quickly, we are waiting for it to feel different. The U.S. is still processing what happened last week, what the consequences will be, and what the implications are for the future. At least to date, this has involved more questions and fact-finding than answers.

Even so, life goes on. 
Today's Contents:

  • Weekly Song: Brand New
  • Lessons from Factorio 
  • Stay Maladjusted: MLK Jr.
  • Good Reads

Weekly Song: Brand New

Guess what? I'm a new Aunt! Everyone got a promotion: my parents are now grandparents, my grandparents are now great grandparents, and my younger brother is a brand new dad to Ruthie Jean born about an hour ago. I know that my brother will be a fantastic dad :)

So, in honor of Ruthie being brand new to the world, the song of the week is Brand New, which is a lovely little tune about feeling young and playful. The music video left a lot to be desired, but the song is still a gem. 

Find those things that make you feel brand new. 

"Brand New" by Ben Rector

I feel like a young John Cusack, like making big mistakes
I feel like for the first time in a long time I am not afraid
I feel like a kid, never thought it'd feel like this

Like when I close my eyes and don't even care if anyone sees me dancing
Like I can fly, and don't even think of touching the ground
Like a heartbeat skip, like an open page
Like a one way trip on an aeroplane
It's the way that I feel when I'm with you, brand new

Time will always try to make us old
You remind me what I used to know

What I Learned from Over 100 hours of Playing Factorio 

Reminder: The premise of the Factorio is that you land on an alien planet with minimal tools and access to only four minerals initially (iron, coal, copper, and stone) and you have to build a series of manufacturing production lines while investing towards innovating and keeping the alien lifeforms from attacking your facilities so that you can ultimately build a space ship and take off. 

Sigh. I'm just going to have to own this one.

Over the holidays, I played >100 hours of game time and was having Queens Gambit-level of visualizations before falling asleep. Unfortunately, I am sad to report, I have still not beat the game. I'm one step away, but taking that step requires rebuilding and optimizing my whole manufacturing supply chain. But I will do it.  

What have I gained from my investment of time? A brand new appreciation for a few things:

  1. Modularization - When you are building supply chains for resources, it’s best to dedicate a supply line to the production of just one resource and make sure the inputs being sent to that factory are only the ones you need. It sounds obvious when you write it out, but it’s hard to do when you have many competing priorities 
  2. Not all automation is not equal - The core of the game is predicated on your ability to build automated production systems, but some are better than others. The more you can optimize for efficiency, the more leverage you will get on your time. Again, it's obvious when you write it out, but it becomes more real when you are punished immediately (and harshly) for your mistakes.
  3. Trade-off between building systems and crisis management - Most of the core of the game is spent trying to build supply chains and manufacturing systems, but what do you do when an alien invader is destroying one of the previous systems you’ve built? Do you rush over to save it? Do you let it go and know you can rebuild but you can’t leave the rest of your system hanging? It’s a tough one. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to restart - Sometimes you have to tear down what you built to rebuilt better, stronger, and more efficiently. This is an important part of success in the game. 
  5. Using equations to define relationships of proportion, sequence, and priority - Everything is governed by equations and ratios that you can easily find and calculate if you so desire. There are many and the key ones are electricity consumption, pollution creation, output rates, and inputs needed. An under-rated one I ignored at my peril is the evolution of attack from invaders and what scale of defenses was needed to keep them at bay. 
  6. Balancing learning strategy vs tactics. At many times in the game I thought to myself ‘there must be a better way’. People before me have cracked the code on solving this problem or optimizing the design. When searching for those answers or examples, it takes digging to get at the most helpful level of simplicity. I used Twitch in earnest for the first time. 
On becoming a gamer:
  1. Learn the time-saving tactics: Hot Keys. I could have used them more effectively, earlier to go faster. Part of the problem is that I’m on a Mac and I have struggled with the lack of right-click (at least not an obvious way of right-click). For perhaps the first time, this made me wish I had a PC.
  2. The tech specs of your computer become a need not a want. Immediately, I became in tune with the technical operations of my computer, which were now being tested to the limit and impacting my gameplay.
  3. The desire for optimal comfort. After a few days, I was lusting after the need for a second bedroom and a Scorpion chair to maximize my setup. 

Do I recommend it to you? Yes. I found a state of flow. You will be intellectually challenged. You will learn to think like an engineer. And we could all use a little more of that. 

Stay Maladjusted: MLK Day on Monday

It's Martin Luther King Jr. day on Monday. One of my favorite passages is his speech to the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, which noted how psychologists had given the world the notion of maladjusted.

“You have given us a great word,” he said. “There are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted.”

But I say to you, my friends…there are certain things in our nation and in the world (about) which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of God’s children smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.'

Inflation? Value investing? Who knows.
Good Reads

Will inflation come back? I used to ask this question often. More smart macro folks weigh in. This economist says yes. With a vengeance. H/T Tony Pilnik

What was the best performing asset class in the US in 2020? TIPS! - Good FT column this week:  'US inflation-linked bonds beat other assets by delivering a 35 per cent return, on a risk-adjusted basis, as investors hedged against inflation risks"

Why is value investing on a losing streak and will it turn around?  Three-part series says interest rates, and value, will make a come back. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3

New Howard Marks memo on the difference between Value and Growth investing. 

The Irony of Growth by Verdad Capital. So many finance articles say the same thing on repeat. 

I'm an aunt! :) 

Thank you for reading. Please always be in touch. 


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Katelyn Donnelly
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