Archives For June 2007

Just finished “My War Gone By, I Miss It So” by Anthony Loyd. It was absolutely breathtaking. At times it’s over written but this guy has a mastery of language that we could all aspire to. He’ll turn a phrase that stops you cold and leaves you with a sort of admiration and clarity. It’s very Fight Club-esque in its grasp of the existential vacuum; an Into the Wild for war. Staggered beneath the tales of a war correspondent are the diaries of a heroin addict attempting to make sense of his habit. And beneath the darkness and despair is a keen understanding of the human condition and the desire for “feeling” wherever it may come.

If you’re impressed with the way Philalawyer juxtaposes self-awareness and a sort of helpless self-loathing, you’ll be blown away here. The sometimes verbose passages are justified in light of the fact that nearly every other war book is underwritten and under analyzed. Numbness or self-glorification, the two poles that capture most battles memoirs are non-existent in Loyd’s work. I would put it up there with any of the Greek epics on war. In fact, I think we’ll see Loyd continue to find resonance as the next generation tries to make sense of the wars of their parents.

If you’ve struggled with depression at all, you can see how perceptive Loyd is to his own condition. It is very, very difficult to put those thoughts to words, to analyze why and how you feel in a way that is possible for others to relate to. Go buy it. Seriously.

Buying Peace of Mind.

June 29, 2007 — 11 Comments

I used to be really into financial stuff. I read all those books “The Millionaire Next Door” “Rich Dad Poor Dad” etc. Of course, I’ve been a subscriber to “Get Rich Slowly” for a while too. (Got linked there a few months ago) And then I threw all that shit out the window and have never been happier. I used to check my bank balance constantly, I monitored my credit card bill all the time and generally stressed about money at every chance I could. Don’t get me wrong, it allowed me to save a lot of money but it made me miserable.

Today was the final straw. Look at this list of ways to save money at GRS:

* Get rid of cable television.

* Unplug all appliances.

* Drive less.

* Buy generic.

* Cook from scratch.

* Drink only water.

* Don’t eat out.

* Never buy garbage bags.

* Minimize the use of heat and air conditioning.

* Buy used.

At what point does frugality trump enjoying life? You work everyday but you don’t deserve soda? There is a fine line between self-discipline and self-flagellation. That stuff infuriates me, it’s about control not efficiency. We work so we may fully experience life, afford ourselves opportunity for meaning and satisfaction. Why on earth would you nickel and dime yourself in that way? I would assert that the humiliation of scrounging for trash bags isn’t worth the 2 dollars you’d spend on a box of them. The air conditioner was invented to make life in a house more pleasant, cheaply. So use it. I could keep going, and explain the reasons that a used clothing, awful home cooked dinners, bicycling, appliance-less lifestyle is cheap for a reason, but it’s not worth the time. All I have to add is this:

For the first time in my life I’ve stopped caring about money. I ceded control and just let it ride. I’m working more than I ever have for relatively little but it doesn’t bother me. It will all work itself out in the end. I’m investing in my happiness instead of some arbitrary number. What’s that line Ray Liotta said in “Blow,”…”money isn’t real, people just think that it is.” The benchmark I use now is “Would I pay someone to take this off my mind?” and if the answer is yes, I consider the consequences the cost and proceed without worry. Sometimes–as Tucker pointed out to me–they’ll be high but all the lows will even it out. Isn’t ridding yourself of the burden worth it? How enjoyable can life be when you refuse even the most basic sustenance technology?

So seriously, throw away the all that shit–your recycling box, your parking tickets, you neurotic habits–and see if your quality of life improves. I’ll bet you’ll be more productive and happier. The money you don’t save in the process is just payment for services rendered and I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

Marc Andreessen’s blog has been making waves all over the internet. Which marks the second time in 6 months that tech bloggers have been played and manipulated into a frenzy (Tim Ferriss being the first) Don’t get me wrong, the blog is astoundingly good and Andreessen is an all-start–he literally invented the world-wide-web. It is the way he went about launching his blog that is so indicative of his creative and innovative way of addressing situations.

Today, Valleywag wrote that Marc was “late to the blogging game and caught in the throes of newbie enthusiasm..” That is a profound misread of the situation. Clearly, Marc decided to start a blog 6-12 months ago and then spent that intermediate time coming up with a plethora of stellar posts. He stocked up on digg worth and potentially viral posts, so when he launched he’d have a quiver of good content. While the rest of us try to come up with a few solid posts a week, Marc is sitting back and uploading what he already wrote. But to the unthinking reader: “This guy is a fucking genius.” Day after day, he is knocking them out of the park. And now he’s one of the most respected bloggers on the net…after a month of being online.

The point is that, yes it really is that easy. Yes, the rest of the world really is stuck in a box. I remember a year or so ago I had an idea for a business venture and I pitched it to a friend. His response was “If your idea is as good as it sounds, someone would have done it already.” Which of course is absurd, and I did it without him, made a good deal of money and solidified a relationship with someone that continues to benefit me enormously. This is what I mean when I say just email the authors or writers you’d like to meet–everyone thinks it but no one does it. We’re inclined to discount the obvious, which means that the obvious is going unexploited.

Back in the early 90’s, the internet was absurdly elitist and tech nerds were trying to keep it that way. Andreessen came in and tore that all down by making Mosiac and Netscape, the first two GUI web-browsers. Hundreds of people had that idea first–BUT NO ONE DID ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Here with his blog, all he did was a slight perception play that scored enormously. In some ways, thinking intuitively requires an almost counter-intuitive way of looking at the world. Being unabsurd is absurd in its own right. I’ll give you an example, every screenplay you’ll read in Hollywood is in the same font and the same format. Why? Because that’s how it used to be on typewriters and almost a century later no one has bothered to update. Thinking ten steps ahead instead of five puts you on a different plane than almost everyone else. Having some foresight makes success a guarantee instead of a pipedream. What he did, what Tim Ferriss did is ridiculously transparent but no one is bothering to look.

What can you learn from Andreeseen? Thinking outside the box is not only easier than following the status-quo, it’s where the money is. The world seems like it is ruled by the uncreative because they cling to the system, but in reality their power is an illusion. With the slightest exposure to the light of innovation it all comes crumbling down. Trust those instinct, use that uncommon, common sense. Most gatekeepers are full of shit. Trust me.