Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Paul Graham on Stuff

Friday, March 6th, 2009

A while back Paul Graham realized that stuff is no longer valuable. Just as food used to be very expensive, and thus malnutrition and starvation were real issues, now overeating is by far the bigger danger for most people in America. The same thing has happened with stuff – it is now so easy to produce (or import) and acquire, the greater danger is having too much rather than going without.

Of course, you can’t talk about “Stuff” without a nod to George Carlin’s famous skit (NSFW: some swearing).

What is minimalist living?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

A few weeks ago, Dawn at Frugal For Life talked about what minimalist living really is. Sure, it might include white, bare walls and a single tulip in the middle of the table, or owning only a few clothing outfits. But it is less than that. Just as Martha Stewart is an aspiration (for some people) instead of a realistic lifestyle, the white couches in architecture magazines are from a nonexistant utopian world without dirt. Minimalism seeks happiness and satisfaction with less. Yet we buy into unrealistic visions of being minimalist enough, as if there is a rule that we aren’t a real minimalist unless we live like the magazine pictures. Heaven forbid we set anything down on our pristine granite countertops!

Here are some random pokings at the question. Knowing that we’ll never meet the theoretical ideal, minimalist living strives toward:

  1. Skill rather than thing.
  2. Why must I buy this? instead of why not buy this?
  3. Realizing it probably won’t come in handy.
  4. Spare is beautiful.
  5. More kitchen gear rarely improves the meal.
  6. If you don’t have it, you don’t have to dust it. If you have to keep it, hide it, and you still don’t have to dust it.
  7. When making a drink coaster from a CD, just place CD on table and set a drink on it. This does does not require a knitted cover, no matter how frugal. 🙂

As Dawn mentions, there’s a difference between being a minimalist at heart and struggling to figure out ways to make it work, versus thinking that you ought to be a minimalist, and struggling to try and become one. The latter is destined for failure – fighting desire through denial is incredibly difficult. Remove or subdue the desire first, and the struggle largely dissipates. I am happier when I move toward minimalism, but still struggle with doing it in a way that makes sense. I fail all the time, but that’s OK.


Do Zen Monk Robes Have Pockets?

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Similar topic to our Jedi robes post a while back. Celsius1414 talks about getting rid of all the junk in your pockets. Save your back from evil thick wallets! That said, I don’t think I can give up my cargo pants yet. Via 43 Folders.

Portable urban meditation chamber

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Or something like that. Cool Hunting posted this “City Hideout” by OOOMS the other day. I don’t think I’d try using this in downtown DC, but what a hoot – if you managed to set it up without anyone noticing, you really would be completely ignored even on a super-busy street. Of course, watch out for people shoving litter in the vents. Ick.

Privacy battles, slurping electricity, digital photography, more

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

More battles over Secure Flight and the Patriot Act, specifically provisions about library and bookstore records. Sounds like congress is getting testy. Amtrak is still in trouble though. TVs are consuming more power than ever before as they grow larger. Windows XP plug-in lets you view Canon and Nikon RAW digital camera formats. That’s good since Nikon SLRs are getting smaller, lighter, and less expensive with the release of the Nikon D50. Full text of Steve Jobs’ Stanford graduation speech. Walking is healthy and efficient, but don’t trust awards for places that claim to be pedestrian friendly.

Morning roundup

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

Slashdot has a pointer to a “cheap, environmentally friendly” DIY air conditioner that isn’t friendly at all since you have to fill it with ice water, which is probably coming from your electricity slurping freezer. Wired points us to Newsweek’s article on the best tech tools for business travelers. Are you a prosumer? Always check your bank statements within a month or so, or you could be out big bucks. The Washington Post tells us “Fat Found to Accelerate Aging Process,” so switch to bite-size muffins. Maybe MSN will create a music subscription service that fixes the problems with Yahoo!’s current system. If you need to monitor your blood glucose, this wristwatch monitor seems like a huge win from carrying a kit around and remembering to stick your finger. Steve Jobs exhorts Stanford grads to live each day to the fullest according to Wired Magazine, but Lifehacker points us to this SF Chronicle article which tell us:

By routinely switching on our iPods and dialing up our favorite tunes, we’re cocooning ourselves in the old and familiar. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re erecting a defensive barrier against the new and alien, and retreating into our own personal worlds.

Maybe we should retreat from digital photography to tintypes, like photographer John Coffer…and give up electricity, plumbing, phone and the internet along the way.