The Crowd: Once Upon A Time In Venice [254]

Hi Crowd!

I'm just back from a trip to LA, which started in Venice Beach.

It was as moody and atmospheric as you might imagine, at least through my lens.

If you know me you know I have a long and contentious history with email. I mean, email sucks for everyone but some people know how to work with the suckage, and I've never really been able to do that. Once upon a time a friend actually had a kind of intervention for me which was kind of like "you spend day answering email and it's killing you and you need to stop or do something else because otherwise you will have a heart attack or something" and he was right, and shortly there after I met Tim Ferriss (just before his first book came out) and he gave me some tips that had worked for him and some of them worked really well for me. The two most impactful for me at the time were:

  1. Tell people you only check email once a day, between the hours of X and Y. And then actually only check email once a day at that time.

  2. Spend time putting out fires rather than trying to prevent them.

The thinking here was that by checking email 24/7 people know you are available 24/7 so they reach out to you 24/7, and by making yourself unavailable then things which don't actually need you or can be resolved other ways will often fix themselves without involving you. And secondly, there's a bazillion ways things can go wrong, and trying to anticipate all of them is a losing battle, so rather than trying that, sit down and relax and then when something goes wrong you can address it clear minded rather than stressed about everything else that might also go wrong.

Not all of the good habits stuck, but they were helpful for a time.

Recently my email struggles have revolved around technology more than practice which sounds like a very old man thing to say but as I sit here on the cusp of 50 I guess I'm OK with that. Over the last 6 months or so Apple Mail has become unusably slow. Like, type one word then wait for spinning beachball for 10 seconds, then type one more word, wait, etc. Hours of trouble shooting and removing accounts and adding accounts has made no difference, so I eventually gave up and went back to web mail. MediaTemple peaced out and dumped 20+ years of email history into GoDaddy's lap who decided that was going to be worth $60+ a month. I disagreed. In the process of relocating I clearly did something wrong resulting is about 4 years worth of email archived being completely deleted. Was there anything important in there? Who knows!

I realized that I have just too much going on with this and decided to simplify and move all my "personal correspondence" to my vanity domain and move that to proton mail (because privacy is normal) and then move all all mailing lists and subscriptions and accounts notifications and whatever to gmail. Part of this process is that I used to use my vanity domain for everything, so this process makes me (or lets me) unsubscribe/update everything each time I get an email and as part of that I've been doing a lot more unsubscribing than subscribing. Turns out I get a lot of email I never read, which I think has been making it more difficult to read the email I want to.

I was never a full devotee to Inbox Zero but I usually tried to keep things under 100 messages or so, using the old "if it's unread that means it's an action item" which kind of worked for a while, but again in the last 6 months that went from 50 unread emails to 2000+ unread emails. What are they? Who knows, I mass marked as read and archived them all. I should have probably just deleted them. A bazillon gigs of archives is probably part of the slow email app problem, though we couldn't identify that explicitly. Email is a terrible way to communicate anyway, and was never intended to be used the way we do so I'm kind of taking this as an opportunity to admit defeat / claim victory and walk away. I rely much more on direct messages and private chat groups these days and that semi-realtime conversation is much more natural and functional, and I think as things go on I'm going to keep moving away from email.

One of the things I made sure to stay subscribbed to was Warren's Orbital Operations, which tipped me off to Ganzeer and his vomit notebook thing which is great and I'm going to try the vomit notebook thing. I keep trying more hyper organized things and failing, so maybe this will achieve what I need it to. I also remain enamored with Coco's Dispatch and you should be too.

Speaking of moving away, once upon a time Twitter was my daily dashboard for everything and I recommended people use that to contact me before anything else. No longer. It's a trash heap of shit now and even though there are a few sparkly corners left, they are no longer worth putting up with everything else. I cancelled my Xwitter + Pro whatever subscription the other day, it runs out next month and I doubt I'll miss it. The extra characters were nice, but I have a newsletter and a blog for that. These days I'm finding it far more rewarding to spend "social media" time on Warpcast, and want to invest my time and attention on what I think is a better option for everyone, rather than keep straddling with a broken piece of crap that is just getting worse on the daily. Again with the advanced age thing, feeling like it's better to spend more time in a place you like than lots of time spread across places you don't "just to be there." Kind of over that thinking, I think.

The Cryptopunk book I've been working on for the last year-ish is finally open for preorders. We also finally announced the name - FREE TO CLAIM. This of course is a direct reference to the fact that Cryptopunks themselves were free to claim back in 2017, and there's a lot of spilled ink in it's 800 pages about the intentions and implications of that decision. When I heard the name I also immediately thought it was a reference to Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book. There are obvious parallels to be drawn between 60's anti-government activism and crypto's anti-government ideals, as well as the power of the individual (and of the individuals working together) and of course inspiration for/from punk itself which would require a whole other essay. Speaking of, FREE TO CLAIM has some incredible essays in it, and I really can't wait for it to make it's way to people's hands.

As I mentioned earlier I just got back from Venice. We took a short family trip to revisit where part of this wild adventure started and consider where we've traveled since then. It's easy to romanticize history sometimes, and good to remind yourself why the past is the past from time to time. Sometimes you leave a place for a reason. Not hating, LA was lovely and it was wonderful to spend a little time with the very few friends that we were able to. 48 hours is not long enough. Just to be poetic, I'm heading to the other Venice later this week, apparently they have canals there too. Expect photos.

I just discovered this King Geedorah record which came out 20 years ago and am embarrassed for obvious reasons. Sharing incase anyone else is in the same boat. Anti-Matter is the standout track. Related, I started out with Ol' Dirty Bastard and ended up with Cutty Ranks, so it's been one of those days.

The other day I woke up feeling like I got kicked in the balls. Literally. And it got worse throughout the day, and since we still can't get a doctor here in British Columbia after a lot of back and forth I ended up in the ER. A week, an ultrasound, pumped full of antibiotics, pain killers, blood work and half a dozen fondlings later the official medical verdict is "That's a weird one eh? Let's just call it a one off" which translates to no one really knows what happened, but I'm not dying or anything. At least not today. So you are all stuck with me for a while longer.

Peace out,


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