Tiger money. Umm, what?

tiger money

Fun exercise:

  1. Find your pulse. (Travel a line down from the corner of your mouth to your neck. There it is.)
  2. Count your heart rate for 30 seconds.
  3. Now say the following sentences aloud:
    I don’t know how I’m going to pay the rent/mortgage.
    There is $20 to buy food for the next week.
    I can’t afford any lunch.
  4. Now, count your heart rate again.

If there was no difference, congratulations! You are ready for an exciting career as a venture capitalist or sociopath.

If you’re like everyone else, your heart was faster second time around. Depending on how good at playing pretend you are, maybe much faster.


On which I mush together two psychological theories, much to the annoyance of actual experts

Hey, you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It’s this nifty pyramid that lists all the things we need, with the most basic physiological stuff at the bottom and the most abstract at the top.

Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs
Click me for the Wiki link!

Now, in the other corner, weighing in at 163 pounds, is the theory of the triune brain. It theorises that we have three layers of our brain that reflect its evolution: the reflexive reptilian layer (aka the lizard brain), the limbic layer (communal mammal-type behaviours), and the neo-mammalian, aka neocortex (humans only, no flash photography).

triune brain
Click me for more edumacation.

Again, the most basic physiological bits (RUN EAT MATE RARGH) are the closest to the brain stem and hence the action, and the bits that can wonder about the source of the word “hence” are at the outermost layers of our brains. At the top, so to speak.

I bet you can see where I’m going with this.

Our basic physiological needs are food, water, air, shelter, safety, reproduction. These are the needs we share with reptiles, and our basal brains are pretty similar. Why wouldn’t they be? Same needs, same responses to deal with them. Mother Nature doesn’t change a system that works.

Next rung up Maslow’s pyramid is love, belonging, and respect. Mammal needs, mammal brains.

And at the top of the pyramid are the strange hominid needs like self-respect, mastery, transcendence. Concepts like that (and the brainy resources to achieve them) only exist, as far we can tell, in the fancy-schmancy outer reaches of the human neocortex.

The more abstract the need, the further out in our brains it lives. Nifty!

All very interesting. But here is where that gets really fucking useful.

Imagine you have three people in your brain.

The first is a crocodile. It doesn’t have a name, because it is a crocodile. It gets involved whenever food, safety, sex and air supply are in focus. The rest of the time it just lays there, completely uninterested. Because it is a crocodile.

The second is a dog named Sparky. She recognises her name when it is said. She cares about the pack, about knowing her place in it. She cares about every member of the pack, and will fight to protect them. She gets involved when relationships are in focus.

The third is a robot butler that sounds like Jarvis, Iron Man’s AI. Jarvis knows practically everything, and makes the plans, the predictions, and the analysis. Jarvis is involved when learning something new, when engaging with art, when predicting, when deep in spiritual experiences.

When we lived on the savannah, this system rocked.

Each part of our brain played to its strengths. Jarvis would plan the hunt based on his understanding of the prey’s patterns, Sparky would work in silent co-ordination with the other hunters, and the crocodile would kill the shit out of the prey so it could eat.

But we don’t live on the savannah now.

We live in condos.

We get food from supermarkets, not strategic bludgeoning.

But… the crocodile is still the crocodile.

Whenever food, sex or oxygen are in discussion, the crocodile will be interested.

And when food, sex, or oxygen are threatened, the crocodile will be doing its damndest to run the show.

When dealing with savannah threats, this makes perfect sense. RARGH SMASH RUN KILL is a perfect response to a tiger.

But when dealing with an overdue electricity bill? The crocodile senses a security threat (DARKNESS! COLD!) and demands to be involved. But the crocodile only has seven words in its vocabulary, all of them verbs. What you need is Jarvis, who can balance a budget. And maybe Sparky, who can make friends with the collections guy.

The crocodile is of practically no use in most of our current survival threats, but as soon as it senses a threat it will be contributing. A lot.

Which is why money isn’t just money.

As a shared hallucination, all money looks the same: bits of paper and plastic and shiny coiny things.

But the things the money represents are very, very, very different.

Jarvis thinks of money in abstract terms; in fact, he’s the only one capable of it. Jarvis is the rational actor that economists blither about, able to think of returns on investment, of opportunity costs, of investments.

But Jarvis, physiologically, is the furthest away from the action. Closest is the crocodile.

It understands money the same way it understands tigers.

Tiger money is the money of survival.

It’s the money that buys food, water, shelter, protection from the elements. Possibly medications, electricity, and a few other things that represent security.

When that money is present, the crocodile is calm. As soon as next week’s rent is at risk, the crocodile is going to be very, very active.

Terrible Problem #1: The crocodile will take all focus and energy away from Jarvis, who is the one most likely to be able to figure out how to get more money before the rent is due.

Terrible Problem #2: The crocodile will never understand sentences like, “We need to follow up on that unpaid invoice, and this would be easier if you would shut the fuck up, crocodile.”

Terrible Problem #3: The crocodile will also not understand concepts like ethics, legalities, or brand consistency. The crocodile will just jump on anything that looks food-like and try to eat it. It’s Jarvis and Sparky who’ll have the indigestion later.

When tiger money is at risk, the crocodile WILL get involved.

And it will make things worse. Guaranteed.

You can manage this, with mindfulness and preparation and friends who will stop you from doing anything too stupid.

But it’s infinitely easier if the tiger money is never at risk. Keep that fucker sleeping.

We’ll talk about how to do that next time.

For now, does this make sense? Have I enraged the spirits of two noted scientists? Come tell me in the comments.

I’m back, and I’m full of feelings.

Yesterday's walk

A photo posted by @catherinecaine on

Hello darlings,

I’ve made a lot of space. I ended a relationship, gave away my Elladog, moved 500 miles. (Normally I’d say “800 km”, but that wouldn’t make some of you start singing with a heavy Scottish accent.)

Single, overweight, mid-30s, vehicle-less, one bedroom of possessions. Living on government payments in a share house five minutes away from my parents. It would be possible to see this as pathetic.

But it’s also possible to see this as extremely fucking liberating.

As a Professional Invalid – chronic fatigue still firmly in effect – I have very, very limited resources.

It’s like… being permanently stuck on the day before you realise you have a cold, the one where you tell everyone, “I don’t know why I feel so tired, I slept fine.” (Those are the good days. The bad ones are like the second day of the flu, where you are dying of thirst but can’t make it to the kitchen for juice.)

The mathematics of illness is implacable, unalterable, and mean.

Doing this means I can’t do that. A year ago my list of commitments was massively longer than now: finding exercise for the Elladog that didn’t break me, mowing the massive fast-growing Queensland lawn, doing the majority of relationship work, plus a billion etceteras. I wonder how I did it and remember: by putting a lot of other things on hold. Sewing. Walking. Leaving the house. This website.

It’s been funny and sad.

For so long this business was my life, in a Heathcliffe and Cathy way; almost all my thoughts took a small detour through it.

Suddenly: tornadoed away.

Forced to answer questions like: who am I now? What do I do?

All answered by the void.

Stupid unhelpful-ass void.

But here I am…

In my small crowded room. Doing the shopping with my dad. Laying down as my body dictates. Finally settling in, getting the rhythms, feeling safe, knowing where the strainer is.

Hearing my niece say, “Hello Auntie Cafrun!”

Sometimes – not as often as I wish – going to the beach that I missed so much.

Feeling just the teensiest edge of space open up at times and contemplating what to do with it.

I didn’t automatically think that Cash and Joy would be it.

In fact, I was extra suspicious of choosing to offer up my energy to its altar.

I knew it could be unbearably rapacious.

And it might take less time to build a new thing than to get this one re-operational in any capacity.

But most of all, there was no compelling reason to do it. No why.

Then shittiness happened.

People being terrible and hurtful and destructive. My Facebook feed is full of my darlings bleeding over the page, and I ache in sympathy.

I wanted, oh so much, to do something that would help. Can’t give blood until one of my meds is titrated off. Can’t donate much money due to careful budget. What could I give?

Oh. Oh. I could give them Cash and Joy.

I can, slowly as hell, help my wounded sweethearts to build. Create. Make money. Flourish. Support all my delightful weirdos and my unjustly maligned darlings and my fierce strivers. Write about the practicalities of a business that wants to be ethical, principled, and still pay the bills on time. Talk about sparkling clean marketing practices.

I want you, my beautiful heart, to create an alternative to Business As Usual, which is toxic and shitty and vicious.

And, from a personal perspective, I’ll prob’ly talk about how how to manage it within non-negotiable limitations.

So here I am. *fistfuls of confetti*

I will write when I can, which will vary. A lot.

I have zero plans to make money just yet, ‘cos I can’t afford the extra energy that would require.

I can’t focus for as long as I used to, so articles may be broken up, written over time, or may veer wildly at the end. I’m struggling to finish this now.

I will end with love.

Be brave, dear heart,


The Side Hustle Project: (wo)Man Plans and God Laughs

Sleeping fennec fox

What is this Side Hustle Project?
Go back to the article what explains things
And then the Week Two Update, which is a bit self-pitying
Followed by the much niftier Week Three Update
Then good old Week Four
…and now we’re here.

Hey, remember in the last update I said this line:

Oh, anaemia. I can’t wait until you are gone and the pattern of “work one hour, nap two hours” is dead.

Yeah, about that…

Good news!

I don’t have anaemia!

Bad news!

I actually have chronic fatigue!

Aww, fuck.

Yes indeedy.

I’ve spent most of my upright hours for the last three months first having various blood tests to confirm mostly that I don’t have a long list of illnesses, and then jumping through the first bureaucratic hoops to become a Professional Invalid, which is clearly going to be my focus for the next while.

What about the Side Hustle?

I will not let it die! It’s actually still perfect for me, since it can be done in teensy weensy steps with plenty o’naps in between. But right now, I have to focus on other things, like appointments and still a few more blood tests for kicks


and learning how to juice green things because it is both good for you and saves me from some cooking.

I don’t know how long it will take for The Side Hustle Project to come back online. I just took mah chances when I had enough spoons to update, because I love you and wanted you to know what was going on.

More later, darlinghearts.

photo by:

The Side Hustle Project: Week Four Report

Image from page 54 of "Blueprint reading; a practical manual of instruction in blueprint reading through the analysis of typical plates with reference to mechanical drawing conventions and methods, the laws of projection, etc" (1919)

What is this Side Hustle Project?
Go back to the article what explains things
And then the Week Two Update, which is a bit self-pitying
And then the much niftier Week Three Update
…and now we’re here.

Oh, anaemia. I can’t wait until you are gone and the pattern of “work one hour, nap two hours” is dead.

(On the upside the weather has cooled just enough to ensure I am not attempting to nap in the mouth of the inferno, so there’s that.)

What Got Did This Week

Slightly more shopping!

I went and purchased side-clip buckles, no-roll elastic, an adorable chunky zip, and two different types of potential strapping. Total spend: $14.40

Very boring admin!

My credit card application needed an interim statement ($3 to get it printed, ugh) and I also picked up the bank cards for the accounts I opened.


  1. I drew out potential bag sizes on brown paper, mostly playing around with size and curviness.
  2. The two most likely options got drawn onto old bedsheet and pinned on my hip to see if they were okay. They were.
  3. I used a couple of scraps to make the pockets.
  4. Sewed it very quickly, pinned on the straps, and tah-dah! Prototypes!
  5. Took sweaty photos.
  6. Used GIMP to put the photos together and add some explicatory text.
  7. Posted in a few places asking for feedback.
  8. Including here. ‘Cos why not?

which baghip or sling

Tell me, darlings!

– Which size would you prefer?
– What situation would you use it for?
– Hip or sling?
– How much would you be happy to pay?
– Any other feedback?

And now I am pooped and full of triumph because it is all done and it’s not even midday yet.

The Tally

Bags sold: 0
Time spent: 8 hours (Still on track!)
Profit/loss: -$89.68
Fear that no-one will ever buy one of these bags and what the fuck am I doing: 62.9%

Come and leave your aesthetic thoughts in the comments!

photo by: