DaedTech

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DaedTech Digest: So Are You, Like, Vagabonding Right Now

Hello all, and happy Friday.  As always on a Friday, it’s time for a DaedTech digest.

Last week, I answered a question lots of people ask me: how do you go for months with almost none of your stuff?   This week, though, I’ll answer a simpler question.

So, You’re in Michigan…. Do You Like, Live There, or, Is that Another Place You Travel, or, What?

In the open kimono spirit of these posts, let me talk a little bit about our living arrangements, pre-vagabonding.  In 2007, I bought a townhouse in the Chicago suburbs, which immediately proceeded to become almost worthless.  At the time of purchase, I intended to live there for maybe 3-4 years, but due to the vagaries of the real estate market, we still own that place.

While waiting for it to come back, we bought a lake house in Michigan in 2013.  We reasoned that 2013 was a great time to be a buyer and a bad time to be a seller so we, well, bought.  It was actually around this same time that I left the wage world and become a management consulting doing 100% travel.  So I stopped living in Illinois or, really, much of anywhere permanent.

My wife and I love the lake house and bought it with the intent to own it forever.  The Illinois townhouse is a thing we would prefer to sell (and have on the market, currently).  In that spirit, about a year ago, we actually changed residence and mostly vacated our possessions from Illinois.  So, in the end, we view ourselves as having a lake house and no primary residence.

And we like to spend summers at the lake house.

So, to answer the question, “are we vagabonding or do we live here or what,” it’s kind of complicated.  We’re choosing to reside somewhere because it’s fun, and it just so happens that we own the place.  But we don’t really look at it as a primary residence.

Clear as mud?  If you know us well, you now understand why it’s hard to explain our summer arrangement.  But you’d also know that this is why we love the place:

Picks

  • I’ve got to do it again this week.  Come write for us at Hit Subscribe.  We’ve just signed a bunch of new clients, including some that I’ll make public soon that are .NET TDD fan favorites.  So, if you want to write for some awesome dev tools companies, fill out the form.  No blogging experience necessary — we’ll teach you.
  • Speaking of Hit Subscribe, we’ve got a Facebook page, on which we’re kind of video-recording our vagabonding and Hit Subscribe-ing adventures.
  • I’ve got a new tax prep/consulting firm, and they’re great.  They’re based in Michigan, but can help you anywhere in the US, as evidenced by them helping me with tax obligations in Illinois and Michigan in 2017.  Franskoviak Tax Solutions, they’re called, and they can help with tax prep for individuals and businesses as well as offering tax planning and consulting services.
  • I’ve honestly been buried in work this week, doing 16 hour days.  So anything that I’ve enjoyed is a bit of a blur up until right this moment, when I’m relaxing with this tasty Lagunitas beer.

The Digest

And, as always, have a good weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: How Do You Manage without a House Full of Stuff?

On last week’s digest post, I walked it back to first principles.  What even is slow travel?  This week, I’ll continue with this theme, answering a basic and sort of existential question that people often ask us.

How do you live without your stuff?

The normal human condition involves a somewhat linear procession.  At some point you leave the nest, getting your own place.  You then fill that place with stuff, but you also prosper, eventually earning enough money to rent or buy a bigger place.  At this point, you take all of your stuff, put it into your bigger and now-seemingly-empty place, and kind of repeat the process.  Buy a bigger place, fill it with stuff.  Once you have too much stuff, buy a bigger place.  Rinse, repeat.

The human condition.

I understand this condition because I have lived it.  I started adult life living in a tiny studio apartment in Chicago with my girlfriend at the time.  Outgrowing it as I prospered, I found myself in a 2 bedroom apartment.  Then a 3 bedroom townhouse.  I won’t bore you any further — you get the idea.

But now, I live without all of that accumulated stuff.  That is, I don’t just live without it when we slow travel — I just live without it, period.

Spartan Zen

I didn’t just happen by this outlook like some kind of monk.  Circa 2013, I was doing what most people do — buying bigger properties to house my burgeoning stuff so that I could acquire more stuff and need more property.  But then, work sent me on the road. A lot.

I lived for weeks in a hotel, and it was a novelty.  I lived for months in a hotel, and it became a weird new lifestyle.  And then I lived for years in a hotel, and came to learn that I didn’t need too much more than some computers and a couple of weeks of clothes.

As my stuff languished for years, unused and not-missed, I came to realize I didn’t really need it.  And I eventually came not to miss it, even abstractly.  I donated literal Jeep-load after Jeep-load to charity, and that was that.

So when you ask me how I deal without my stuff while vagabonding, I don’t have the most satisfying of answers.  I don’t, exactly.  I got used to a certain way of living through years of travel, and didn’t think much more of it.

When we hit the road now, I take my work computers/equipment, a couple of weeks worth of clothing, and a few odds and ends.  And that applies whether we’re traveling for 6 days or 6 months.

So, how do I mange without a house full of stuff?  The same way any of us did at age 19 — by understanding that I don’t need it.

Picks

  • I’ve been reading another fantasy series, entitled Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow) series.  I’m a book and a half in and can’t recommend it enough.
  • Finally tiring of the calendar dance, I’ve enlisted a service.  If you work a corporate job, you can’t relate, but if you’re a free agent and nobody can see your calendar, just as you can’t see theirs, you understand the calendar dance.  “I’m open Wednesday from 2 – 5 Central time and Thursday from 9 to 11:30 and then from 3:30 to 4:30…” only to hear back a similar, confusing list.  Calendly lets you just send out a link that wraps your schedule and say, “here, pick a time.”  And it’s glorious.
  • Going to give Siteground, who now hosts 4 websites of mine, another nod.  I purchased the site makemeaprogrammer (stay tuned for more info), and the time between picking the domain name, purchasing, and having a fully resolving, nice-looking default WordPress installation was seriously about 15 minutes.  Wow.  And that includes making it an SSL site and forcing non-SSL requests to redirect.  Seriously.  All that in 15 minutes.

The Digest

Hats off to the Hit Subscribe authors crew.  They’ve taken on so many posts that I’m no longer writing several per week.  (If you’d like to join them, apply to be an author.)

However, if you’d like to hear from me beyond this blog, there’s still recourse.  I’ve been doing a lot of podcasts over the last 6 months.

As always, have a good weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: What is Slow Travel?

Last time on the digest, I answered a question about whether or not I viewed myself as a tourist.  While answering that question, I used the shorthand term, “slow travel.”  This week, I figure I owe a definition to anyone that hasn’t heard that turn of phrase.

What is Slow Travel?

If you Google this term, you’ll get… interesting… results.  You’ll probably see a lot of quasi-spiritual takes and wishy-washy definitions.  Let’s put those aside, and define it sort of simply.

When I talk about slow travel, what do I mean?  I frequently describe our travels using this term.  To define it, let’s first think about it in the negative.  What would “fast travel” mean?

Fast travel is what you do on your vacations.  You fly to Paris and then you… (deep breath) go to the Louvre, see the Eiffel Tower, check out the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.  And that’s just day one.  You say, “I’m going to hit everything or die trying!”

That’s fast travel.

It’s what you’re used to as a tourist.  It’s the default.

What is Meaningful (Slow) Travel?

Slow travel is something else, entirely.  To me, it’s the idea of visiting a place not as a vacationer, but as a temporary resident.  You move there for a short period of time.

I reject a lot of the other definitions I see because they dump on tourism.  It’s as though being a tourist were some kind of culturally inferior experience and that you should aspire to be far to cool to do it.

As I said, I view myself as a perpetual tourist.  But I also view myself as a slow traveler.

How do I reconcile this?

Well, by moving to places and spending months there, while also taking in touristic sites.  I reconcile the apparent contradiction by existing somewhere as a quasi-local while also enjoying the sites.  If I were in Paris, sure, I’d see all the places I mentioned.

But I’d also gain an appreciation for the subtleties of being a resident.  What’s it like to go work in a coffee shop for an afternoon?  When is the best time of day to head to the gym?  What’s an extremely uncrowded place with great breakfast?  You get the idea.  Slow travel means getting to know a spot the way you get to know your own neighborhood.

In that vein, here we are conducting a meeting over beers at a place called Sip, in Phoenix.

Picks

  • Last week was a vacation-y kind of week, so picks aren’t as easy.  But here’s a vacation-y kind of pick: Steamworks Brewing in Durango.
  • I just finished the The Fifth Season this week.  Wow, what a great fantasy series.
  • I’m going to throw a nod to Hertz as well.  They aren’t the cheapest, but they are the best, in my opinion.  Always upgrading me, treating me well, and making life on the road easier.

Digest

And, as always, have a good weekend!

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DaedTech Digest: I’m a Perpetual and Proud Gawking Tourist

In last week’s digest post, I addressed a question about whether or life of slow travel is one of constant vacation.  (BTW, the digest posts in general chronicle our life of slow travel).  I said that in some ways it is and in other ways, not so much.

This, then, begs the question of whether I not I view myself as a tourist.  Or, a slow tourist, I guess.  People ask questions in this vein at times.

So do you, like, become a local, or are you always kind of a tourist?

I think the reason people ask me questions like this is, perhaps, because of the general uncoolness associated with tourists.  If you go to Paris, there are the locals who flutter between hip, bohemian spots, and then there are the people who don fanny packs and head for the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

So which am I?

I am a fanny-pack, Louvre/Eiffel Tower type.  Full stop.

First of all, I’ve never much in my life pretended at any sort of coolness (though I’ve also never actually worn a fanny pack, so there’s that).  It wouldn’t occur to me to head somewhere and then skip the main attractions because I’d look like a yokel.  I am a yokel, and I want to see those main attractions.

But doesn’t the novelty wear off, and you turn into a pseudo-local?

I imagine that you’re thinking this must ease up after a week or two.  But keep something in mind.  You’re imagining the sorts of vacations that you probably take.  You plunk down a bunch of money, wrangle some time off of work, and then manically cram as much sightseeing and experiencing as you can possibly fit into two weeks.

But remember, I don’t travel that way.

I get in on a weekend, see some sights, and then work for a few days.  Then maybe another sight or two, and a few more days.  Rinse, repeat.

So when I’d been in, say, Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks, I’d spent probably three quarters of my time working and a quarter of the time touristing.  Even after a month or two in a place, I have the same capacity for seeing more tourist stuff that you might after 5 days somewhere.

The end result is that we tend to pack our weekends with stuff, even after months.  We spent something like 4 months in San Diego in the past year, and we were still doing excursions to the zoo, various beaches, tours museums, etc.

For us, the tourism never stops.  We live the lives of locals during the weeks, so to speak.  And then we hit all of the surrounding sites in full tourist mode the rest of the time.  I mean, look at this.

It doesn’t get much more touristy than drinking some kind of hurricane out of a grenade-themed yard glass on Bourbon Street.  And we do this kind of stuff readily and without regrets.

Picks

  • For those of you free agents out there, check out the Freelancers Show podcast.  I’m a regular panelist now, so you can hear my unscripted thoughts on all things hustling.
  • I’ve come to love Prime Photos (and video) over the last year or so.  It solves a lot of problems I’ve historically had with photo organization.
  • I haven’t actually tried this one myself, but apparently you can turn Slack into an RSS reader.

The Digest

  • For the NDepend blog, I wrote a post about NLog vs Log4Net.  But instead of comparing their features, I compared how they affect (or seem to affect) codebases that use them.  This was part of my series on code research.
  • For the Rollout blog, I wrote a post on how their recent integration with JIRA takes a step toward bringing a product-focused (startup) mentality to enterprises.
  • And, finally, here’s another in the CodeIt.Right rules explained series.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Is My Life a Never-Ending Vacation?

Another Friday, and the digest rolls on.  Last week, I talked about getting a home ready to leave saying that it’s not so hard, and it’s actually like leaving for a long vacation.  And that reminded me of something that people ask me a lot in conversation:

Your Life Seems like a Never-Ending Vacation.  Is That True?

I’m going to answer that in a way that seems to have become a pattern here.  Yes… and no.

Let’s start with the no.

Adopt This Mental Model: Is Business Travel Vacation?

To understand why I would say my life isn’t constant vacation, let’s start with something to which most of you can probably relate.  You’ve done some business travel, haven’t you?  So start there when you wonder what it’s like to be an entrepreneurial slow traveler.

Personally, I put business travel into two conceptual buckets: ad hoc business travel and commuter business travel.  Ad hoc business travel is what most of you can relate to, I’d imagine.  Every now and then, Mr Spacely comes in and says, “Jetson!!!  I need you to fly to Atlanta next month for mandatory compliance training!”  The company travel agent then sets you up, and off you go in a middle seat with one stopover on your way to Hartsfield–Jackson and then a Hilton, or whatever.

Is that a vacation?

Kinda, sorta-ish, if you don’t travel a lot, I imagine.  You work all day, and then you frantically try to go out at night and experience a little local or tourist life.  Maybe you even extend the trip for the weekend and bring the family.  But to call it vacation would be a stretch.

Then, there’s commuter travel.  That was my life for years, wherein you get on the plane every Sunday night and fly home every Friday night.  This often means going to the same place or a rotating sequence of same places.  You burn out seeing the local stuff, and eventually your spare time becomes reading your kindle at the nearby Outback Steakhouse or doing extra work in the hotel bar.

Is that a vacation?

Nope.

My Life Isn’t a Constant Vacation — It’s a Vacation Right Outside Whenever I Have Time

Why do I bring this up, when my brand of slow traveling isn’t business traveling?  Well, because my life combines elements of both of these things when I’m on the road, all orienting around the fact that I do actually work quite a bit.

  1. When you go to a place, the immediate novelty wears off and you become more like an expatriate ‘resident.’
  2. You have a mental push to carpe as much diem as possible, since you’re choosing your locales.  I was a lot more motivated to get out in, say, San Diego than I was in, say, Detroit.

Vacation is sort of an iconic 9-5er concept of blowing off work for a week and worrying about nothing more than packing the car and driving to Sanibel Island where, damnit, you’re going to have fun.  You turn off the work, and make it your job to relax for a week.

That’s not a thing in my life.  I have a few businesses now, one of which is running an agency.  The work never truly lets you unplug for more than maybe 3 days.

I wind up working and spending lots of time in places (similar to commuter business travel).  And I also really like those places, since they have lots of novelty (similar to ad hoc business travel).  But it’s still quite similar to business travel.  So think of my life as a never-ending business trip to fun places.  Fun, but still business.

There is one great additional perk, however.  I can make my schedule — work on a Saturday and blow off a Tuesday morning to go fishing.  And when you layer this on top of everything else, you get something just a bit different from business travel.

My life is an awful lot of work, but done in cool places, affording me the ability to take micro-vacations whenever I feel like it and can shuffle things around.  But you don’t need to be a slow traveler for that to be true — you just need to appreciate your surroundings where you live and make time for enjoyment.

Picks

  • I was looking to explain the sales copy concept of “pain, dream, fix” to someone when I stumbled across this post.  The image in there explaining it is awesome. And it’s also going to be the centerpiece of an upcoming blog post here.
  • I’m going to pick Microsoft Azure as a platform.  It took me about 3 hours to take a little ASP MVC CRUD thing I’d developed and get it up and running in Azure.  This included web server, configuration, and database.  And it also included me knowing next to nothing about Azure when I started.  Oh, and it’s free (at least for a year or so, unless I add things to it).
  • Hit Subscribe authorship!  We’re growing  — a lot.  So if a side hustle writing technical blog posts interest you, get started here to be an author.

The Digest

  • For SubMain, I wrote another in my series explaining the CodeIt.Right rules.  A mix of throwbacks and current web development ideas.
  • What makes a codebase “acquirable”?  I answered that question on the NDepend blog, looking at how you could use some of NDepend’s metrics to tell you whether you’d want to inherit a codebase or not.
  • Here’s a pretty recent one on the Hit Subscribe blog that takes a data-backed look at how you can get an exponential organic traffic curve on a blog.  This includes actionable tips for what we did to make it happen.

As always, have yourself a great weekend.