Pushed it

Me, Myself, and this blog — Sean Bonner @ 9:43 am

I have a secret blog that I write in every day but I don’t ever tell anyone about. Today’s entry was a memory lane trip that I thought some others might enjoy so I’m reposting it here, not linking to it there. Which is a secret.

—-

Salt n Pepa’s classic “Push It” came on the radio yesterday and as I instinctively turned it up I was immediately reminded of a music teacher I had in 8th grade while attending a Catholic school in Florida. A classmate inquired once what his current favorite song was – not an odd question to pose to a music teacher but his reply stuck with me all these years. Let me just contextualize this, this teacher was probably late 30′s at the time, kind of overweight and balding. He wore a lot of polo shirts and sandals. He responded that musically his favorite song was Rob Base’s then super hit “It Takes Two” because he really enjoyed the beat, but lyrically he didn’t like it at all though this was largely due to the fact that as a Catholic he didn’t believe in premarital sex and as he wasn’t married and still a virgin, he didn’t have a personal connection to what was being discussed in the song and didn’t think it was really the right message to be sending out to people, especially younger people who listen to the radio. I’ve often thought of him and wondered how that turned out for him.

Conversely the math teacher I had at that time in the same school would often blow off the entire days lesson to tell us stories about getting drunk, high and partying with her husband and “their friends” which on more than one occasion led to a morning with several naked people waking up in bed together.

And the same year I had a nun who taught history throw a book across the room and hit me square in the face. This was after I’d caused a bit of a fuss in the school by refusing to sign a document saying I wouldn’t talk to anyone who I knew was using drugs or alcohol, which caused the school to fall just short of their 100% Drug Free Zone classification or something like that. The rest of my class was a bunch of liars.

I learned a lot about the world in 8th grade, though probably not what was on the curriculum.

Travel Kit

Professor Ellis requested an update to my current travel kit and I happen to have it all laying around since I just got back to town so that seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. It should be unsurprising to anyone reading this who didn’t get here by accident that I try really hard to maximize usage and minimalize parts so that I have a simple set up that works no matter what or where I’m going – though admittedly I’m always fine tuning it. Let’s start with bags.

I have 3 bags – I never take more than 2 of them.

  1. A no-brand thick canvas shoulder bag that is purposely too small to fit my laptop.
  2. A Mission Workshop Sanction backpack
  3. A Rimowa Cabin Tolley rollerboard suitcase.

If I’m going somewhere for under 48 hours then I take the backpack only, more than that I go with the shoulder bag and suitcase. In some situations I’ll shake that up – for instance if I know it’s raining where I’m heading or if I expect that I’ll be walking a lot and needing to bring stuff with me on those walk then the backpack comes and the shoulder bag might even be shoved inside it. The driving bit behind this is that I want the very least amount of stuff with me as possible in the seat on the plane, so the small shoulder bag is typically what I shove under the seat in front of me and everything else goes in the over head. Which might as well lead us to what I keep in that shoulder bag:

And that’s pretty much it. Again, in a specific situation I might add or swap something in there but that’s typically what I default to.

I have a few other things I keep in the suitcase and then pull out once I arrive places for on the go working and using. Almost all of these things are contained in one of these small zipper pouches and held together with these gear ties.

Various short cords – Nothing longer than 6 inches, preferably under 2 inches. There are several brands that make cords like this in all the usuals: USB, Lightning, Mini and Nano USB etc. I have several brands all mixed together and I’m fairly impartial to which. In some cases I couldn’t find a short cord so I busted out scissors and a soldering iron and cut a cord down to size and then put it back together. At home, at a desk, a cord with some length can be helpful – on the road it just gets in the way. I’m never connecting something that isn’t right next to it, so no need for any extra cabling.

My main computer is the newest 11″ MacBook Air. I have one of the cheaper chromebooks at home but everytime I attempt to use it I get frustrated and then it sits unused for a few months. In rare occasions I’ll take the laptop into a plane seat with me, but generally I leave it in my suitcase and rely on the iPad for in flight. Especially after leaving my laptop in the seatback pocket on a flight to Hawaii last year.

For travel coffee I still rely on my trusty Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder. If you subscribe to my Quarterly box I just sent you one of these. Pair that with a plastic Hario 02 Coffee Dripper (I keep the ceramic version at home) and you have an awesome set up for in hotel room coffee.

The Thrill Of The Hunt

I gave a new Ignite talk the other day at an icebreaker opening to a several day conference. The organizers asked for talks about the most exciting thing people had learned this year. Since I’ve been getting into vinyl jazz records recently I wrote back and asked if that might be a worthwhile talk – turned out it was and so I got to work. In thinking about these records and what drew me to them I started seeing a pattern emerge and I’m once again forced to admit that I’m a collector. I collect stuff. But this is conflicting because as the same time I really hate stuff. It piles up around and makes me feel cluttered and I want to just get rid of it all and then I do and everything is clean and nice and then I think “oh, it might be nice to put something in that space” and then it all starts all over again. But why?

It’s the thrill of the hunt. I’m not excited primarily about the stuff, I’m exciting about learning about it and tracking it down. Once it’s tracked down the thrill is gone and my attention finds itself pointing in other directions. So what is the special sauce that – for me at least – makes something thrilling and sucks me into collecting it? Once I identify a “thing” there are 4 qualities that make it irresistible.

1. LEARNABLE – The info about the thing has to be finite. That is, it can’t be continually expanding which usually means the thing has to be old and out of production. I need to be able to wrap my head around what the thing is, when it was made, for how long, what were the variations and issues involved with it’s production, how to know the early or rare stuff, etc. There has to be a complete cannon of information that I can digest. If it’s something too vast – like wine or something – then I’m instantly turned off because I know I can’t ever hope to know it all.

2. ATTAINABLE – Is it actually feasible that I could attain this thing that I’m considering collecting? This is mostly financial. I’m not going to collect Ferraris, I’m not going to collect Patek Philippe. I’m never going to even own one of those things so there’s no risk of collecting it, and thus no chance of getting infatuated with it. If the top tier collectable of this thing is in the lower 4 digits that seems much more likely to spark my interest, though upper 2 digits/lower 3 digits is much more comfortable.

3. COMPLETABLE – This is more about the thing, did they make enough of them that I can actually hope to find them? If something was produced in such limited numbers that there’s slim chance of me finding one, not to mention a bunch of them, then no chance I’ll fall into collecting it. More likely if they turn up on ebay from time to time, so not thinking about the money part, it has to actually be possible for me to find this thing. If it is, and it’s a bit of a challenge, that’s thrilling.

4. NICHE AS FUCK – This sounds hipster, like I’m saying it’s not cool if anyone else likes it, but that’s not the case. It’s more that if something is common enough that I see it when I go to everyone’s house, or if it’s produced in a “collectors edition” specifically aimed at collectors, then it’s just not exciting. If I’m really honest with myself, the fewer people who know about it the better, it’s possible to become a recognized authority on something that very few people know anything about. And before you know it, that’s infatuation.

Before I realized it the talk wasn’t so much about Jazz records as it was self psychoanalysis, but I ran with it anyway and of course I didn’t skip the jazz stuff, but out of 20 slides 13 of them were about what’s going on inside my head. After the talk lots of people came up to me saying I perfectly identified the crazy in their head too and they appreciated how much they could relate. Which was nice to hear, and so I thought I’d post those points online as well for others to find and mull over too.

Attention Stats and Questions

Followers is a term I’ve never been too comfortable with. It implies acceptance of leadership when in fact it’s more like just half assed interestingness. Am I a follower of someone I “follow” on twitter or am I just curios what they might be thinking about. That’s a pretty big difference. And worse is when followers are called “fans” – just because I “follow” someone doesn’t mean I like them, or am their fan, again I might just be curious about their thought process. I don’t have a better term, but this one is no good either. Anyway, this is all something I think about when people talk about influence and attention online. How much influence does having some number of people’s attention translate to? It’s very hard to say.

For example:

I have 38,781 followers on Google+
I have 11,442 followers on Twitter
I have 2,237 followers on Tumblr
I have 510 subscribers to my mailing list
I have 112 subscribers to my podcast

I have other profiles online but you get the point I’m making I hope.

WTF does that mean? Certainly you can’t add those together as inevitably there is some overlap, and while there are certainly some people following on Google+ who aren’t subscribed to my podcast, it’s probably less likely that many of the podcast subscribers aren’t also following on twitter. Is the difference in numbers due to platform adoption or personal messaging? How many people are actually paying attention to any given thing I post? Accepted wisdom is that all those things should reference each other so people can easily find one or the other, but does that build in some redundancy?

I don’t have answers here, just something I was thinking about and wondering what others thoughts are.

Signals and Signposts

Me, Myself, and this blog — Sean Bonner @ 9:46 am

My friend Warren occasionally makes informative posts that are actually super helpful for reference, so I thought I’d follow his lead.

Effectively the only place I hang out online these days is Twitter. I also maintain a Google+ page though I’m constantly forgetting to use it. I also have a tumblr but it’s rarely anything originally, primarily a collection of interesting links I’ve found and reblogs of other people’s posts. I do not use Facebook (or Instagram since it’s owned by Facebook). I’m “seanbonnersnap” on Snapchat.

Speaking of links, I have a mailing list called Just Another Crowd which is almost entirely links to other things peppered with some commentary here and there and every once and a while a much larger rant. I send these out a few times a week on no set schedule. I’m also producing a regular podcast called Viva Riot with my friend Jessica Gao. We typically talk about a few of the links I might have sent out, as well as other interesting news and pop culture topics. We’re aiming to do this weekly but if you expect semi weekly you’ll be less disappointed. We try to keep in under an hour.

I curate a box of stuff for Quarterly and for $100 they will send you a box of stuff I’ve picked out 4 times a year. I work really hard to pick excellent, reliable and long lasting stuff for this. On a more regular basis I send a bag of coffee out monthly to anyone subscribed to my Coffee Posse which costs more than if you went to your local coffee shop and just bought a bag of beans, but I try to pick out different things each month and write a little bit about each one so hopefully that effort justifies the added cost. I mail these out by hand.

My music/art collective, Cross My Heart Hope To Die, has announced our first gallery exhibition which will open in Los Angeles at the end of July. If you want an invite, make sure you are on our mailing list. We have a new EP coming out around the same time as well, the last one is still available everywhere.

I spend the vast majority of my time running Safecast which keeps me bouncing between Tokyo and Cambridge, my home base is in Los Angeles.

 

 

Habit Metrics

I was sitting in the audience at TechCrunch50 in 2008 when FitBit was announced and ordered one immediately. If I had money to invest in things I would have been banging on their door – I got the concept right away and knew it would change everything. I’ve had every single model they’ve released and swear by it – just knowing how active (or not) you are, give you context that might otherwise be lost. And I saw that, one days when I’d start feeling sluggish and worn out I noticed I wasn’t moving around much. If I felt awesome and ready to take on the world, surprise surprise – I’d been moving around a lot. After doing this for a little while I could tell if I walked a certain amount each day my overall attitude and general feeling was way better. I wasn’t using it for fitness as many people do (quite successfully) but just as an extra data point of something that I knew improved things for me. My only complaint with FitBit is their charger dongles which I always lose or forget when traveling which wrecks my stats anytime it happens – otherwise I love it.

And of course, other companies and other devices followed tracking all kinds of different things to give people that kind of feedback. Above X you feel good, below X you feel bad – so here’s an easy way to know where you are so you can step things up if you need to. Hell, we even have one for our dog to know if we’ve walked her enough.

Recently, spawned by a conversation on my mailing list, several people told me they track other things in their lives as well. Not just the  physical stuff, but mental and emotional too. How much time each day or week were they spending with their family, were they spending alone, were they reading, having sex, meditating, traveling, etc.. whatever was important to them, and keeping track of it. To great success I might add. This seemed incredibly obvious to me and I didn’t know why I didn’t consider it earlier. If I know I feel better if I walk 10,000 steps in a day, and I have a device/system to remind me to do that, why couldn’t I think of other things that make me feel better and use a system to remind me of those? I’m not talking about “remember to floss!” kind of things -because while those are great for you (and me) they don’t really impact day to day mental well being. (more…)

Status 40

I was sitting on the grey metal flat files in the back room of my art gallery talking to my friend Wil, my feet half slipping off the drawer handles. He’d just gotten printed copies of his book Dancing Barefoot  -I’d helped him with a little bit of the layout and so he’d swung by to give me a copy. It looked great. I held a copy in my hands and smiled. I remembered a year or so earlier a conversation we’d had where he said more than anything he wanted to be a writer, that he was going to be a writer. And now here we were, with an actually real book that he’d written in our hands. It was pretty awesome.

Wil was telling me about an idea he was working on for his next book, what would become Just a Geek though I don’t remember if it had a name at that point, but the way he described the collection of stories reminded me of an idea I’d been chewing on for a while. See, I’d also fancied myself a writer. I’d been writing zines and columns in magazines and things like that for years, so even though I’d never written a real book I felt like I knew what I was doing to some extent. At that time I was approaching my 30th birthday, and my idea tied into that a bit. Growing up, I never thought I’d see 30 years old. Hell, I never thought I’d see 25. I wasn’t very optimistic about my future as a kid. But here I was at the end of my 20′s and looking back on what, at that point, had been a pretty interesting ride so far. And when looking at it, I thought I could identify a handful of moments where something happened – something that in a flash could have gone any number of ways – and because they went the direction they did my entire life was impacted. And if in that one quick moment things had gone a different way, everything in my life could have played out differently. I thought, if I could write about 5 of those stories and put them together info a collection, it might make an interesting book. I wanted to call it “Status: 30″

I told Wil about this idea and he said he liked it and I should do it. Why not right? What did I have to lose?

I felt pretty good about that, I respected Wil and was pretty sure if it was a crap idea he would have been honest about it and told me, and so I decided to do it. I made some rough outlines and told myself when inspiration hits I’ll plow through this and write it all in one sitting. I was pretty sure that would happen relatively soon, I mean it was a good idea and all. Definitely would be done before my 30th birthday a year later.

I turned 39 a few days ago, and recalled that conversation and realized it happened 10 years ago. And I never wrote that book. I never wrote those stories. I’m not even sure I remember which stories they were anymore, or what the thread was that I’d worked out that tied them all together. I think one of them was about a time I was in a car accident. Maybe another was about a falling out I’d had with a business partner in college. It doesn’t matter, the point is I never did it.

And I have no reason for that, other than that I just didn’t do it. Inspiration never hit. Not for that anyway. I’ve of course written other things since then, and just shy of that 10 year mark I published my first real book last year – assuming you don’t count the collections of blogposts that I’d batched and published in a single volume many years previously. I don’t anyway. But that’s beside the point, the point is – if I’d done it, it would have been done. But I didn’t, so it wasn’t.

Like anyone else I can come up with a million excuses not to do things, but I think as I’m about to cross that line into 40 I want to finish more things. I want to ship shit. Honestly, I have no reason not to.

Uphill and overwhelmed

Me, Myself, and this blog,Philosophy — Sean Bonner @ 12:30 pm

There was a day about a week ago that seriously kicked my ass. I made a todo list in the morning and it was epic. So much, I didn’t even know where to begin. And on top of that every item on it was epic and required something like 20 other steps to even attempt to think about crossing it off. I stared at this list. I thought about it. I paced around the house. I went back to bed and hid under the covers. Hours later I emerged and went a looked at the list again. It was scarier than it had been before, and now I had less time to do all these things. So I made the responsible decision and walked out of the house, down the street, around the corner and kept walking until I got to the coffee shop. I sat there and drank coffee. Thinking about the list. Thinking about how I didn’t know how to do anything on it. Thinking that if I could just check off one thing that would be progress and then I’d be in motion and could keep going but nothing on the list was easy or small or accomplishable. I ate junk food. I made irresponsible and ill advised purchases. These things, the tried and true self medication of overwhelming and crushing defeat did nothing to help me. I didn’t feel better. I felt just as depressed but now with a dash of guilt on top.

I wondered how I ever got in this situation. Which choices had I made in my life that instead of having a normal job with a boss that would just tell me what to do and then I could do it I was here, lost and frustrated. Instead of working on something that was annoyingly below my skill level, but easy and mindless, I was facing all of these things that were obviously way above my ability. Far beyond what I could actually pull off – that I’d somehow fooled everyone into thinking I was much more capable than I actually am. That any moment everyone would realize what a fraud I was.

I went back home, back to bed and climbed back under the covers. The world was too scary to face.

I didn’t finish shit that day. Hell, I didn’t even start anything. Then the family came home – I think they noticed something was off but I didn’t talk about it. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, and I wasn’t even doing a good job at that, because my “you suck” voice kept getting interrupted by my “fuck that ‘you suck’ voice” voice, which usually would be reassuring, but in that case was just confusing. I couldn’t even successfully beat myself up.

I gave up and went to bed early. The next day I woke up and remembered something that had happened, or actually not happened many ears ago. And something not happening might be cause for more grey clouds, this was actually a little bit of a kick in the butt, the kick I needed. I got up and did one thing. And it felt good. I don’t know if I did anything else that day, but I did finish something and that’s what I needed to remind myself that I could finish stuff. It felt good, and that list didn’t seem so scary anymore. There was a time when that entire cycle would have taken me months to get through and sitting here a week later realizing how quickly that whole process happened and resolved itself is in itself helpful. I have a LOT on my plate for the next few months, things I’m exciting about but also nervous about, things I want to do right, but things more importantly I want to do. And even if they are all happening at once and it feels like too much, I feel like I can pull it off. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

I can’t wait to see what happens.

Next Page »
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2014 sbdc | powered by WordPress with Barecity