022 :: Minister of My Own Labor

It’s been a strange week thats for sure but I’m not going to talk about that here.

Narrative

I’m now twelve days into my new social media diet. The essay “Avoid News, Towards a Healthy News Diet” by Rolf Dobelli has been a big influence on me since I read it back in 2012/13 ish.

We are so well informed and yet we know so little. Why?

We are in this sad condition because 200 years ago we invented a toxic form of knowledge called news. The time has come to recognize the detrimental effects that news has on individuals and societies, and to take the necessary steps to shield us from its dangers.

“Avoid News, Towards a Healthy News Diet” – Dobelli

I return to it every now and again when everything is getting a bit much on the socials. So much so, that when I was sorting out the huge pile of papers on / under / around my desk before Christmas I found THREE copies of it printed out in various stacks & states of decay. I suppose that says it all.

In experiments in disconnecting last year, I spent two separate months ‘Off’ social media, cold turkey. The main problem i experienced was I missed too many DM’s and notifications about people being in town etc. Not being on Facebook or Whatsapp (and I jealously guard my phone number / personal email) these people and some friends were just ignored – So that didn’t work out. This month i’ve been checking my DM’s and notifications 2-3 times a day and just do an in-depth read in the mornings before I get up (but i may replace this with reading). It’s been working well so far for me and I feel a lot better for it.

Some bullet points on observations from me feed this week

  • Remainers have literally invented team follow back 10 years after it turned out to be a disastrous echo chamber the first time around – it’s an echo chamber they are after I suppose.
  • The royals slow manoeuvrings continue  – its so interesting to watch
  • The US is going quiet on Russia hacking and swivel eyed collusion finger pointing over the election – I suspect because it’s run out of steam
  • The US still has bad book cover design
  • “Doing a journalist” is something that happens to people I suppose.

The Ministry

I’ve been working on a lot of work related things this week tying to get myself in a position to earn some income this year – mostly websites.

I haven’t touched any kind of self hosted WordPress system in at least 7 years and this week I have been working on three simultaneously. I’m about 1/3 thought the total amount of work i need to get done so far and next week should be a big sprint. But webdesign even within WordPress has moved on a lot since I last dusted off nascent web design skills and the learning curve has been quite steep. It also occurs to me that I should finish reading the book recommended to me by Sjef – The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane before I write any copy for the bigger websites. I’ll post a review when I’m done reading it, but I’m thinking i might need to engage/pay a copy editor to help me out once the first draft is written.

I did finish one website this week though.

After Flavours.me died during the summer last year, my personal website had been a 404 (which Is the perfect metaphor for last year in general). So in an effort to decentralise, I now have a quick single page with minimal information about me up and running. I cant imagine it’ll change anytime soon unless I get some new headshots in the spring and then I’ll change the GIF – I might randomise it.

Another web related task this week was updating the solarpunks tumblr to become solarpunks.net ‘all very simple’ I hear you say, *unless* you also want to host wordpress on a subdomain. It took me nearly two days of on and off DNS fuckery to sort it out, with a lot of help from my hosting provider. I’m modifying a custom theme next week probably . It’ll be the first theme update since the tumblr started in 2012.

Reading

In addition to the content book, I started reading The Hidden Half of Nature which continues my Soil science binge from last year which I’m about 1/3 of the way though already and, I’m about 1/2 though A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind  – a book about buddhist house keeping.

Music

I’m trying to listen to more music this year too.

So I’m going to write about that it here to. Last year was full of some fantastic stuff, mostly listened to in between financial forecasting, salesforce administration, employee utilisation reporting and data pack wrangling at my former place of employment.

This week I’ve been listening to the new Charlie XCX album – Pop 2 which is really good. I mentioned to an acquaintance the other day that it’s the first PC Music produced album that seems to go beyond their typical ‘Production Shtick’. I presume this is Charlie XCX’s influence..

Have a good week and remember:

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021 :: I used to bother to post things here

I’m aware that I lament almost every time I bother to login to wordpress to post something… I used to write a round up of all the things that happened during the previous year but stopped in jan 2016.

That was back even when a blog with a total of 21 posts (including this one) would get thousands of views because of strong social ties and network effects. Not so much anymore – But as I will explain, I’m going to be writing a little something here more often. Writing more in general really. If you find this blog. Let me know on twitter here.

2017: unrelated + unordered observations

2017 was a fucking horrible year for me. A year totally consumed by stress, health problems and work. The former two things all fell out from the later.

Quitting my job at the startup I’d been working at for the previous two years was possibly one of the best decisions i have ever made in my life. When i finally quit I was suffering from Hypertensive stress: causing anxiety in social situations, muscle locking in my legs that left me in agony at night and unable to walk properly, I was grinding my teeth – it also began affecting my Crohn’s Disease. I blew up relationships with friends and generally was an unbearable human being to be around – even myself. I should have quit sooner, and I should admit and publicly state again to my friends, family and my partner that all told me to do so well in advance of actually pulling the trigger I’m so sorry i didn’t do it sooner.

My partner and I went to Portugal for a spa holiday the week after I left work and a lot of the stress immediately melted away in the Sun. Pithy idioms like ‘a weight of your shoulders’ really contain truth once you experience them in effect.

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I’m still suffering from anxiety and really don’t like the idea of busy social situations. In fact last week, I was dreading going for drinks with some of my oldest and closest friends on Christmas Eve whilst back at my hometown. As usual though, when I actually got there it was 100% fine and i was honest and talked to them about how my prior concerns before i walked down the seafront had now melted away, it turns out several friends also had had anxiety about going out too – It seems that it’s a low level collective emotion, almost all of it driven by over work and guilt at not having time for socialising. The whole work thing was all back in September with at least a six month build up and I haven’t really done anything in the four months since except sit at home and slowly try to pull different bits of myself back together…

2017 was the year that twitter went to 240 characters – I like it. It’s made for a much clearer space. Slightly more room for nuance – but only just. There is however still no time and space allowed to be convinced under the logic of the modern social network. You have to have a position immediately to keep the whole machine running. Long threads of 240 characters however are annoying and are better served by other mediums/platforms. 1 tweet is a microblog. A chain of ten 240 character tweets is just a short blog write it somewhere else. I commented a while back on twitter that we should all go back to writing blogs and I think this is an extremely good idea Warren Ellis made a comment in his newsletter about that and added “It would be fucking funny to see everyone go back to Tumblr and dance in the ruins as the sun went down.”. This is a good place to start as i mean to go on in 2018.

I made a resolution in Jan of 2017 to write more. At least 500 words a day / At least 5 days a week for the entire year. With a few exceptions i managed it. In addition I also won nanowrimo again. It was quite a lot of words put down into a word document. None of it is likely to ever see the light of day, but it did provide me some discipline during the worst parts of the year, a space to vent, and has been been good practice which was it’s intention. I really like the 500-1500 word writing length and for perhaps the first time in my life i enjoy writing. As a result i got to join the rejection club, an upshot of all this writing was i submitted a short story to a solarpunk anthology. The editor gave me some fantastic feedback and i hope to write more this year maybe one of ‘em might even be accepted ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2017 was also the year we moved again. After three years in a cramped and damp basement flat we now have a wonderful ground floor flat with a garden. I’m hoping to make the most of it in 2018. With work stress last year the idea of doing anything beyond a little weeding and buying some garden furniture was a write off. This year i think we’ll be planting a edible container garden plated in polycultures. We also have a south facing balcony so i’m excited for plenty of tomatoes in the summer.

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Our garden is the back one with two apple trees in need of some TLC

I read A LOT. The full list of completed books is on my Goodreads. I also consumed more academic papers in the last 18 months than at any other point in my life perhaps since university. I’ve changed my mind about how many things truly work in the world, and that has had an impact on how i see it. I’ve been blown away by amazing thinkers in fields like ethnobotany, anthropology and straight up biology (soil science is amazing) even economic thinkers. I might write about a few of these someday. I am also extremely grateful to Gordon White for inventing the term ‘The Anthropogreen’ and for being introduced to the work of Ethan Roland Soloviev and his 8 Forms of Capital.

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On the Solarpunk front, the Tumblr I have run with Adam Flynn for the last few years has doubled its followers in 2017 and interest in the genre is accelerating all over the web. The decentralised P2P social network scuttlebutt community has embraced the term and some fantastic writing has been coming from them. I wanted to start a solarpunk podcast in 2017 but 2018 will be the year that this actually happens. Mainly it’s going to be an excuse for me to talk to amazing people about the amazing work they are doing. Do watch this space because it IS coming. I also pulled together the solarpunk reference guide this year which was more work than i was expecting but im glad i’ve done it and it’s uptodate. there are some page improvements that i’ll be making to it by hacking mediums HTML.

2018 is the year i need to find an income. After the last 4 months of sitting at home reading, writing and watching a lot of star trek I’m not sure exactly how it’s all going to work out but i need to do so as my position as someone who is privileged to be able to take a few months of work can’t last forever…

But as a first step – I’m starting a company called The Ruderal

“A Ruderal species is a plant species that is first to colonise disturbed lands”

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I’m not sure exactly what form the company will take, but I’m envisioning something like the a DIY record label/zine publisher I ran as a teenager. Housing and storing the things I’m putting energy and effort into. Things like the solarpunk podcast i’m starting, #stacktivism, potentially a rebooted thought menu of some kind, and any consulting / strategy work and speaking (which I have a number of engagements coming up).

Here’s a preview of that:

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I am hugely grateful to all the friends, family and people who supported me in 2017.

I hope 2018 treats you well.