Supermarkt Connections

Just to let you know, Milo and I had the opportunity to meet up once again with freelancing web designer and illustrator, Markus Freise, to interview him on our Mountain Shores podcast. While Milo was walking the mean streets of Edinburgh, we revisited the idea of a “League of Creative Minds”.

We discussed virtual agencies, acquiring clients by hanging out in supermarkets, and the beauty of international (one man) companies. In the second half, we also had a juicy chat about crowdfunding in the wake of Markus’ successful Indiegogo campaigns.

Go listen in here.

As I’m often a bit late with this here on The Friendly Anarchist, you may want to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to the podcast feed to get new MoSho episodes without delay.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is sleeping in.
Health insurance is saying yes to boredom, and taking it from there.
Health insurance is asking our bodies how we feel, not just our doctors.
Health insurance is meeting friends for a long walk or an extended dinner at least once per week.
Health insurance is stopping, looking at what we’re doing, and making sure it’s still the right thing.

Stray Thoughts: Workday Walks

Here’s a photo from early Friday afternoon, my last workday this week:

Workday Walk

I took a wonderful 2-hour walk in the rare Winter sun, enjoying the forest and the sea shore.1 An easy thing to do, even when you’re working and it’s 2pm.

Or so it should be.

In reality, too many people still are confined to their office cubicle during “business hours”.2 I’m grateful that my situation is different: Thanks in part to the wonderful people I work with, who are happy with me making my own hours as long as the work gets done. As anything, it comes with a price: Less income than I could make if I worked full-time. But what a low price that is, compared to not being able to enjoy the Winter sun whenever I feel like it?

Here are a few quotes and links related to this topic.

[¶]

One final paragraph of advice: […] It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

Edward Abbey

[¶]

Here’s Quinn Norton, reporting about her experiences in Puerto Rico and how they changed her view of productivity. Similar story to my own adventures in Latin America.

“We multitask, we update, and we conflate status with long hours worked in no paid overtime systems for the nebulous and fantastic status of being Too Important to have Time to Ourselves, time to waste.”

[…]

“There was a time when you could write a few poems, die of TB, and call it a life well lived.”

[…]

“Productivity is the opposite of wisdom.”

Against Productivity

[¶]

There only really exist 24-hour days, and no uniformity and schematism whatsoever will change that.

[…]

The call for uniformly executed and constant daily working hours has its roots in arithmetic pedantery; because there exist no rational grounds why the multitude of what we call leisure, sleep and work should be distributed evenly.

Gustav Landauer: The Workday (written for the 1st of May 1912 (!), my translation)

[¶]

“I was always a bit concerned about purity of essence. I never wanted a job that might affect the way I wrote or thought.”

[…]

“I knew there was no market for it and never would be, because there’s never a market for true art, so my main concern was always to have a job that didn’t require me to write or think.”

A Microinterview with Nell Zink

[¶]

This article from The Onion seemed to be a good fit for our topic, too (via New Escapologist):

In an effort to help working individuals improve their fitness and well-being, experts at the Mayo Clinic issued a new set of health guidelines Thursday recommending that Americans stand up at their desk, leave their office, and never return.

Have a pleasant day, everybody!

  1. Hard to call it a beach these days, even though, technically, it’s still a beach. I just miss the ice cream and the surfers and the bikinis and the kids playing and the cocktails and the sunscreen. []
  2. As if there wasn’t any business happening after 6pm. []

Escapology with Wolves

Shocked about my own negligence, I just noticed that I not only owe you one, but two fresh Mountain Shores episodes. If you’re not subscribed to the podcast feed (yet), that would be an inexcusable omission.

About time to fill you in…

Lockpicking Imaginary Handcuffs (with Robert Wringham)

In the most political conversation in Mountain Shores history, we met up in a tapped cable somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in order to talk with comedian and writer Robert Wringham.

We chat about Harry Houdini, humor writing, self help, life traps, and winters in Montréal. A juicy discussion of escaping bullshit jobs and consumer culture leads us to the question of all questions: Is “the destruction of all life on earth” too big a sacrifice just to get new iPhones every year?

Listen in here.

Writing for Wolves (with Kaite Welsh)

In our most recent episode, we meet Kaite Welsh, freelance journalist and author (and self-described MoSho fangirl!) who recently moved back to Edinburgh to pursue her writing work full-time.

We discuss Kaite’s preparations that allowed her to leave her job, the advantages of strategic planning, weird press trips, and our rum (and music) preferences.

After a brief look into pitching, sex toy attacks, and dealing with “impostor syndrome”, we become Kaite fanboys when learning about her super productivity – that not only allowed her to read 80 books in 3 months, but also to make sense of them as the chair of the judges for the Green Carnation literary prize.

In the end, we all agree that doing something that doesn’t make us want to stab our eyes out is always a plus – and we reveal Kaite’s secret habit-forming weapon: “I want more gold so I can buy a wolf.”

Listen in here.

Shit I Learnt From Not Blogging

lessons_from_not_blogging

So I didn’t publish more than – what? – THREE blog posts in the second half of 2014. One of those was a guest post, so it doesn’t count. And another one was a podcast announcement, so it doesn’t really count, either. Which leaves me with a grand total of one (in numbers: 1) posts written and published in the second half of 2014.

Good that nobody’s paying me to write here.

Looking into the reasons for my silence, here’s some stuff I learnt.1

1. Talker’s Block, Revisited

Seth writes:

No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.

Unfortunately, he’s right.

I have thought about this some more while not blogging.

I don’t know about you, but I actually do get talker’s block occasionally. Normally, I tend to be actively engaged in any discussion whatsoever. I chime in, I argue, I defend my point of view.

But when I don’t have a clue, I prefer to remain silent.

When I meet someone really wise, and she’s willing to talk, I’m a happy listener. And if I’m not, I’d better be.

Even when I’m just joking around with friends, there are times when I simply shut up and take a deep breath. To enjoy. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy being alive, and being in good company. Enjoy experiencing what’s around me.

Not a bad thing to do. Occasionally.

(See also: The right to remain silent)

2. Doing Stuff

This is directly related to number 1.

As mentioned in one of our podcasts last year, I had quite a nice time doing things in 2014. Instead of writing about them.

A few highlights:

  • I traveled to Lisbon, the Atacama desert, the Amazon, and through much of Colombia and Germany.
  • I helped a friend to open a kitesurfing and SUP school on the island.
  • In consequence, I learnt to stand-up-paddle. (Is that a word?)
  • I also like to lie to myself and make me believe I improved my ridiculously bad kite surfing skills. I still suck, to be sure. (It’s just too motorically challenging! But I won’t give up – yet…)
  • I worked more for money on the computer and for free elsewhere. I also earned more.
  • I created a tasty variant of the good old Cuba Libre. (I think I’ll call it Kruso Libre and I’ll definitely fix you one when you come to visit.)
  • I designed my first photo book (and got it printed).
  • I gutted a house, enjoying some of the most physically challenging work I ever did.
  • I spent a decent amount of time with friends and books and family. And taking walks. Long walks. Good things to do.

I know that quite a few bloggers use their blogs to hold themselves accountable when it comes to doing interesting things. Chris would call these things „quests“ and has created a bit of an outline of how to follow through. Which is a smart and fun thing to do.

But it’s not necessary.

We can simply do stuff, too. Without much planning. Without anybody knowing. Without a big picture. Without an official announcement. You lose some helpful public pressure on the way, sure. It’ll be a bit more chaotic.

But you save a whole lot of time to engage in interesting things. Or to sleep in. Whatever you prefer.

3. Planning <-> Experiencing <-> Reviewing <-> Reporting

And that leads me to my next lesson. Which shouldn’t be in this post because I’ve not yet reached a conclusion. Oh well.

I spent some time pondering the relationship between planning, experiencing, reviewing, and reporting: You think about stuff, you do it, you digest it, and then (maybe) you write about it.

In 2014 I wrote the least in… probably 15 years or so? I also took relatively few photos, at least in “daily life”. I didn’t follow any grand strategy, even though I played with the idea. And it turned out nicely, because – as I said above – I managed to do so many things. And to sleep in. Sweet!

But I also noticed how the year slipped a bit through my fingers. The digesting part – thinking and feeling – still happens, but it happens less than when I write about things. Same thing for planning. Which probably means getting back into writing mode, in one way or the other.

(See also: Focus, entertain, or both?)

4. Living Rooms

Blogs are living rooms.

A living room shouldn’t be owned by a government or corporation. It should look like you like it, even though others might despise your wallpaper. And while you may have an open-door policy, ultimately it’s for you to decide who gets to sit on your couch and who has to leave.

This also matters when we look at reporting. In my living room, I might enjoy to undertake profound philosophical discussions. Or I might laugh about a fart joke. It’s my personal decision, just as it is your personal decision whether you want to read it.

Which leads me to my next point:

5. A Personal Blog (To Rule Them All)

Personal blogs rule.

Not blogging did a lot of bad stuff to my writing.2 It also changed my reading behavior.

Full disclosure: I never read many „pro bloggers“. But by now, I’m almost exclusively reading personal (in the sense of: 1-person) blogs, and the larger part of those are published by folks who don’t earn a living with them. A few of them do, at least in part, but they do it in a low-profile, non-pushy, tasteful manner.

No sales pitches that make me want to grind my teeth out.

One thing I’m glad to miss out on. JOMO!

6. JOMO

JOMO was just named the word of the year, and this seems to be a perfect coincidence, considering my experiences with unblogging:

JOMO, n. The pleasure derived from no longer worrying about missing out on what other people are doing or saying.

It’s derived from the phrase „joy of missing out“. People tend to use it in the context of having a „social detox“, but I’d like to extend the usage to books, articles, and online chatter.

When I was still blogging regularly, my RSS reader was sacred. Spending hours to review the writings of my peers seemed of crucial importance. Productivity nerdism became another (related) timesuck.

These days, it’s different. While I still enjoy my online reading, I also enjoy missing out on the latest hypes, deals, trends and „limited time offers“ that became part of many mainstream blogs.

I also continue to be happy missing out on the latest fads in social networks. Still no Facebook for me, and still no Ello either. (Despite a much appreciated invite by Milo.)

The only allowed network is Twitter every now and then. And, of course, my email.3

Speaking of which…

7. The people behind blogs rule

This isn’t limited to the writers. It definitely extends to the readers. Even after I hadn’t written anything for months, I still got regular emails from new readers who had stumbled on The Friendly Anarchist while browsing the web, and enjoyed a post from the archives.

I also stayed in touch with a few fellow bloggers and long-time readers I really like. This has been delightful, to say the least.

Now to a couple of less delightful lessons.

8. Snowden

Ever since Edward ███████, I don’t feel free ███████ ██ ███ ██████ █████ and also in ████ ████. The ███ ██ ███-███████ ██, █████ ██ happily keep watching Netflix. For me, this █████ ████████ █████ ██ █ self-censorship that makes me want to ████. ██ ███ and █ really ████ ███████ in our █████, we should keep asking ourselves whether we really want to live under these conditions.

9. Muscle Memory

The writing muscle is indeed that, and it will degenerate.

It feels hard to get into writing again. It won’t get easier, but it will get better once I get started. Here’s to experiment as method, once more, because…

10. …I Like Blogging

Why deny it? I like blogging. I missed it. When it doesn’t feel like a chore, it’s marvelous.

Austin Kleon would say: Keep your day job. I’d say: Escape your day job. But I still agree that blogging, as a job, seems like a pretty meh choice by now.

I’d like to see blogging more as a work in progress once again. Long posts like this one can easily take 6-8 hours to write and edit. While I believe it is worth it, I also began to enjoy a more fluid and minimal writing style among many bloggers recently. Expect some more of that.

Which leads me to my last point:

11. Feck perfuctionism

And thank you for sticking around.

[¶]

People asked me to tell more about my post images. So here we go: The photo shows a dog contemplating the sunrise on an island in the Salar de Uyuni. He went up to the hill with us, seemingly not caring about the people, but about the moment. The zenest dog I’ve ever seen. And definitely one of the most impressive places on Earth I ever had the priviledge to visit.
  1. I wrote “shit” in the headline not to be more offensive, but because I’m a bad headline author. If you’re offended, I won’t take it personal. []
  2. We’ll look at that below. []
  3. No push notifications, thank you. []