How to be Creative in One Simple Step

I tweeted a link to this piece right before I left for Canada, but it bears repeating once more in a more formal fashion here: on August 1st, Linus Edwards made a brief reappearance on VintageZen with another installment in his ongoing article series, this time titled The Daily Zen #17 “how to be Creative in One Simple Step”. If you, like me, have become disillusioned with the creativity racket, and especially if you have not yet realized this, I highly recommend this short piece: Linus makes a great case, and has a fantastic conclusion.

Plus, as a expletive-filled bonus at the bottom of his post, commenter Dain Miller leveled a criticism not overdue for Linus in particular, but more so the entire faction of writers who love to wax on explaining how difficult writing has become. I will not be so foolish as to deny the difficulty of writing, but I will say that I agree wholly with Dain’s statement: “I’m so sick of people not doing their blogs anymore ‘because they don’t feel like it'. ‘It got hard’ wah wah wah. Fucking christ dude, man the fuck up and do your work. If your goals are really the goals you said they are, or you want to accomplish was what you claimed you did - you wouldn’t let ‘something being inconvenient or a chore’ fucking stop you.” I 100%, completely, totally, and unequivocally agree.  

KiraVan

Speaking of the Mercedes-Benz Unimog, a modified version of the versatile chassis has been making the rounds lately in the form of a vehicle its creator, Bran Ferren, dubbed the “KiraVan” after his four-year-old daughter, Kira. For those of you more inclined towards this vehicular monster’s technical specifications, Gear Junkie has a nice rundown; for everyone else — for everyone, actually, because it explains the projects origins and the reasons behind Bran’s unwavering dedication to this costly endeavor, Wired has a fantastic article aptly titled “The Most Insane Truck Ever Built and the 4-Year-Old Who Commands It” that I recommend everyone read. This is an incredible story, and a very admirable one as well.  

Mercedes-Benz Unimog Doppelkabine

No really, that’s what it’s called: shortly after World War II, Erhard and Sons began manufacturing Albert Friedrich’s vehicle for primarily agricultural use in post-war Germany until Mercedes-Benz took over the production process in the early 1950s. Since then, the Unimog has fostered quite the fanatical fan base, not unlike that of its counterparts across the world, the American Jeep, British Land Rover, or Japanese Land Cruiser. And looking at it, and seeing just what this family can really do, it’s no surprise: this is one remarkably capable vehicle any outdoor enthusiast would be truly fortunate to have in their arsenal.  

This Week in Podcasts

I have decided to publish this a day early this week, as I leave for Canada in just a few hours and waiting any longer would make this impossible. Until I return on the sixteenth, then, enjoy this final installment of my ongoing series, This Week in Podcasts. I look forward to coming home and finding a host of shows awaiting my arrival almost as much as I anticipate writing this piece’s successor.  

Cabin Porn Roundup

Once again, I’m back with some stellar cabins from around the world. This time, however, unlike past articles in this series and upon request by Gianfranco Lanzio, I have bundled images alongside the appropriate paragraphs in an effort at more easily conveying the beauty of these structures and their accompanying sceneries. I hope you all like the result just as much as I do, and maybe — just maybe — even more.  

Adulting

Excellent article from Carl Holscher on what it actually means to be an adult. At nineteen and preparing to head off to college, as well as greater things hopefully down the road, I found this piece particularly interesting and profound.  

A Dying Breed

As I sit down to begin writing this, I lay in a hammock strung between two trees. It is old, this hammock: the previous owners replaced an even older one with it as a small gift when my family purchased this house some three years ago now, and despite the occasional frayed rope, we have felt no need to replace it yet. Outside of the occasional creak and a fair bit of moss that has worked its way into the fibrous sinews that crisscross seemingly haphazardly below my feet, down under my back, and up behind my head, this woven sling works just as well as it did the day I first sat upon it. More importantly though, it has become a fixture as a part of this small slice of nature as the trees that form the canopy above me.  

Leave of Absence

The best way to attain success is to show up every single day and work hard, or so the saying goes; in terms of this site and my goal of growing and fostering a strong readership, this meant putting some nontrivial amount of time into reading and writing every single day in the hopes that I could one day make this more than a hobby. For quite some time now, I have done well to follow this advice, and doing so has led to rather spectacular results: although this is not the time nor place to delve into specifics, suffice it to say that this has been a fantastic year so far. Yet, despite this track record, I am about to break this cardinal rule because for the next two weeks starting Saturday, April 2nd, I will neither read nor write a single thing.  

Why We're Obsessed with the 10,000-Hour Rule

Another great piece from the surprisingly diverse site Outside Online, this time on the hallowed 10,000 hour rule. Especially within the circles I travel of writers, programmers, and general creative types, this is a very popular way for many to prescribe greater dedication and hard work to those looking to attain some modicum of success. However, even in the face of these new findings, I believe the underlying sentiment behind these suggestions prompted by this veneered rule remain valid: there is still something to be said for showing up every day, and in the creative professions, raw talent is but a small and potentially insignificant ingredient leading to eventual success.  

No Time to Think

Discovered thanks to Dave Pell’s excellent newsletter The Next Draft under the title “Just Look at Yourself”, this is a very fascinating realization that immediately resonated with me: perhaps one of the reasons so many people spend such vast amounts of time engrossed in one device or another is not necessarily because Candy Crush is so addicting and Facebook makes them feel happy — or sad, as the case may be — , but rather because we have developed an intense dislike of introspection and the discomforts it almost invariably brings along with it. Reading that, it felt as if a puzzle piece had clicked into place: “Yes, it all makes sense.”

I wake up every morning, and within fifteen minutes of getting out of bed I walk into the gym where I spend the next hour working out. After that, I have between thirty minutes and an hour before I have to leave for work, during which I prepare for my day and, if I have time, read and do a little bit of writing. As I find it difficult to read or write while listening to music, I generally keep iTunes closed when engaged in one of those two activities; otherwise though, I keep something playing almost constantly.

Every day at work, I keep one earbud in at all times through which I listen to podcasts for nearly eight hours every day. Painting can be a quiet, lonely, and somewhat tedious task at times; this helps me stay focused and engaged. Both to and from work at the beginning and end of the day, I continue listening to those podcasts in the car until I get home, where the same rule set that determines what I listen to in the morning once again informs whether I listen to a song, podcast, or merely the sound of my finders tapping away at the keyboard. Regardless though, here once again, just as I do throughout the rest of my day, I permit myself no silence whatsoever. Even when lying in bed at the end of the day, I turn to a past episode of one of my favorite podcasts to help put me to sleep.

I routinely go an entire day without any time for quiet introspection. While I once considered this simply an efficient use of my time — why drive in silence when I can listen to a podcast or two? — , I now recognize this common happenstance as the habit it has become: filling every available second with an activity has ceased to serve as a means to the end of greater productivity in a given twenty-four hour timespan, and now functions merely as an excuse for me to avoid any time alone with my thoughts.

As for the future, I cannot say for sure where I will go from here. This is a very interesting realization, and also a potentially very important one as well. For now though, I plan to start by sitting alone with my thoughts before bed; in a week or two, who knows?  

A Miserable, Beautiful Siberian Adventure

Fascinating story by Hampton Sides for Outside Online. As I have said before, Russia has always held a great deal of interest for me; with this article, Hampton lifts that near-impermeable veil — even if only a little bit.  

50 Cent Is My Life Coach

When Adam and Nathan talked about this article during episode seventeen of their podcast Five More Things, 50 Cent is Actually Brilliant, I recognized its potential value but dismissed it as largely uninteresting, and sent it away to Instapaper. Now, however, a few weeks later, I wish I had sat down and read it as soon as it came to my attention. My only complaint is that I wish it were longer: 50 Cent had some fantastic advice and shared a number of very interesting insights that I wish GQ had given Zach more time to expand upon, and perhaps even search for more of; fascinating and highly-recommended.  

Infrared Iceland

Beautiful pictures from a remarkable place; I would love to take a long trip out here someday.  

Economic Power in the Age of Abundance

A more apropos title, I feel, might read something along the lines of “Entitlement in the Age of Abundance”. Between that, and Ben’s actual title, I’m sure you can get a fair idea as to the subject matter of his article. And his closing point: the clich├ęd “you never know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”. I find it remarkable how many love to hate companies like Google, yet have no problem crawling back to them when they finally realize how instrumental the “evil overlord” was to their daily operations. Whether an individual whining about the company’s privacy practices or, as is the case here, a publisher acting on a misplaced sense of entitlement, the outcome is the same.

Stick to your high-brow morals if you must, but if you must, actually stick to them.  

The Precipice

It’s no secret that I harbor a strong dislike of The Verge: perpetually vying with public radio for the title of my most hated news institution, I make no bones about sharing this disgust with others. And so, because of that, when the news first broke that Josh Topolsky — a writer I have no great love for — was leaving Vox for Bloomberg, I barely took notice; however, a lot of other people have, and this has since become quite the news story for many. To each their own, I suppose.

Until this morning, I had not planned to write anything about this event: I just don’t care. But then Daniel Ignacio sent me a link to a conversation between him and Mathew Conto, and I just couldn’t resist sharing the link here: this is everything you need to know about The Verge and Josh Topolsky’s move both. Welcome to The Precipice.  

This Week in Podcasts

This week, thanks to Carl Holscher and Daniel Ignacio, I have discovered two great new podcasts. Alongside these two shows, I once again present my list of the best podcasts I have had the privilege to hear over the past seven days. These are the best of the best, folks, and as such I hope you will spend some time checkout out each and every one of them. I promise: it will be worth your time.  

How I See Money Differently

Sam Dogen had another thought-provoking post over at Financial Samurai recently, this time looking at the very interesting difference between the way that Americans and Europeans in particular view money. I encourage you to read the entire thing: How Europeans See Money Differently From Americans. Most interesting out of this entire piece, though, and definitely the most impactful statement for me, was that of his conclusion: “Remember that money is only a means to an end. What is your end?"  

One-Way Ticket to Ride

Worth linking to again, courtesy of Dave Pell’s The Next Draft this time around on the forty-fifth anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic mission: the speech President Nixon plan to give in the event of a moon disaster. Incredible, and remarkable chilling:

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace."  

The 30 CSS Selectors You Must Memorize

I don’t do this often, but for all the help Tuts+ gave me as I worked to expand the functionality of this design over the past few weeks, I can’t let it slip by without note. When I build a site, I prefer to do everything humanely possible with CSS rather than outsourcing it to JavaScript. Due to this perhaps irrational desire, everything — including device detection — but the ability to enter dark mode and save that preference across multiple sessions is managed strictly using CSS. As I’m sure you web developers out there can understand, this led to some sticky situations in which I almost resorted to a quick and dirty script. Thanks to resources like this one though, I managed to keep my use of JavaScript down to a minimum, and continue to ship a speedy site for you all to read. Next time you import jQuery out of habit, think back to this and ask yourself, “Can I do this with CSS?" Because after seeing tutorials like this, I bet you can.  

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