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DaedTech Digest: Where To Go This Winter? Seriously, What Do You Think?

Let’s do something a little different today.

With the digest posts, I’ve been answering questions about slow travel and chronicling our adventures.  But today, I’d like to get a little more interactive.

Where Should We Go for the Winter?

It’s that time of year again, and I don’t mean the Christmas holiday.  I mean, it is that time of year as well, but I don’t really care all that much.  I don’t count myself among the people who mark the passage of time by drifting from one themed holiday to the next.  Holidays, for me, are just a chance to see friends and family and have a good meal.

The time of year I’m referring to is when, for people with a highly mobile lifestyle, the US Midwest becomes unacceptably cold and oppressive.  It’s time to go south.

This year, Amanda and I don’t really have any specific destination in mind, though we’re most likely going to remain in the United States.  But still, even with that restriction, the southern/warm part of the United States is pretty large.

Here are some parts that we’re thinking.

  • Coastal Texas.  We could head to South Padre Island or something there along the gulf coast.
  • Inland Texas.  We could base around the Austin or Houston areas, somewhere like Lake Conroe.
  • South Florida.  Places in the keys can get pricey for the whole winter, but whether inland or on the coasts of the mainland, this is a nice, warm place to be.
  • Gulf Coast.  We’ve spent time in and around New Orleans and in Bay Saint Louis in the past, and we find that coast to be really appealing.
  • Southwest Desert.  Maybe we stay totally away from water and do winter in the desert, somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona.

What do you think?  What would you do or recommend in our position?  The only real criteria for us is warmth this year.  Weigh in below in the comments.  What would you do if you had this kind of open road in front of you?

 

Picks

  • This last weekend was Amanda’s birthday, and I got her a weekend getaway that featured a wine tour.  The hotel we stayed at was great, if you’re looking for an atmospheric getaway within a 2 hour radius of Chicago.  It’s on the lakefront town of New Buffalo, in Michigan.
  • I’ll also pick the wine tour company, which showed us a great day on the southwest Michigan wine trail.
  • Finally, something related to tech.  I’m incorporating more and more stuff into our home automation situation at the home base.  And I’m doing it by and large through this, the Wink hub.

The Digest

  • Here was a fun-to-write post that I wrote for Raygun, featured on the New Stack.  The prompt was about how to use APM to guide architectural changes, an interesting premise.
  • Here’s a Facebook live that we did when we first arrived in Vermont.  Don’t worry about the orientation — we fixed that pretty quickly.
  • And, finally, here’s another Facebook live where I interview Amanda (same thing — we fix the orientation).

And, as always, have yourselves a nice weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: How to Make Money While Vagabonding?

This is an interesting premise for the week’s digest post.  I say this because I think it arose from somebody misunderstanding why and how I have money.

There is a small population segment that slow travels and makes a living blogging about the same.  But we are not part of that segment, weekly digests about our adventures notwithstanding.  We make money in a different way.  Still, let’s answer the question.

How do you make money while vagabonding?

First up, there are some people that don’t.  These include retirees and the independently wealthy.  This ins’t terribly interesting, though, so let’s quickly move one.

Next, you have people that work in some kind of gig capacity.  Do a gig for 3 months, take a new one elsewhere.  This isn’t what most think of as slow travel, per se.  But, depending on the demand for services, people working this way can control their destination and live places a few months at a time.

Alright, now here’s our bucket: the remote worker.  My wife and I own a location-independent, pure-remote business.  We can work from anywhere, so we do.  As we travel, we tend to work schedules that would look familiar to the workaday nine-to-fiver, albeit with more flexibility.  But remote work could also apply to wage employees that are remote, as well as to folks that simply contract or freelance.  As long as you can work from anywhere, you make money doing that work.

And, finally, you have the people that I mentioned earlier, who are travel bloggers.  Sure, they’re a subset of business owners with location independence.  But, for them, the vagabonding itself is kind of a job.  Not so for the rest of us.

So the money itself can really vary.  But what stays consistent is the interesting assortment of destinations.

Picks

  • I’ve been listening to an audio book called the Pumpkin Plan, and it’s about how small business owners can avoid a situation of barely keeping their heads above water indefinitely.  Of particular interest to my audience might be how he talks about ranking clients and cutting bait on bad ones.
  • Here’s a podcast I listen to called The Business of Authority.  It covers a range of topics, but it’s good stuff if you’re an established freelancer or consultant looking for advice on how to grow from there.

The Digest

  • For those of you who are fans of my research posts over at NDepend, here’s another one.  I examined the relationship between code comments and the descriptiveness (length) of method/type names.
  • Hot off the presses!  I recorded a solo episode for the Freelancers show about how to target the C-suite was a freelancer.
  • And, finally, here’s a Facebook Live where Amanda interviewed me while I was standing in a lake.  This was done in the same vein was one of our author spotlight interviews.  Except the lake part.  We don’t normally do that with the authors.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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DaedTech Digest: Deciding How Long We Should Stay

It’s been a few weeks now since the last DaedTech digest.  In that one, I chronicled the last little bit of our trip to Vermont.

We haven’t gone anywhere since then.  Not really, I mean.  We’ve been back and forth to Illinois a few times, visiting family and taking care of logistics.  But that hardly merits a slow travel chronicle.

So let’s go back to answering questions about slow travel until we embark on our next adventure.

How do you decide how long to stay in the places you go?

I’ve seen a lot of family and old friends of late, so I’m plucking a question that one of them recently asked.  They wanted to know how we decide what amount of time to spend somewhere.

Well, on the short side, that’s simple.  We only go somewhere for at least a month.  If you’re under a month, sites like AirBNB and VRBO charge the sorts of rates per night that you see on the site.  But at a month or more, a monthly rate kicks in, which often cuts the nightly rate in half or so.  This means that such a place, while not as economical as a year lease on an apartment, is somewhere in between that and a hotel.

As for the duration of stay, that’s historically depended for us one one of two things:

  1. When does the weather change (i.e. when does winter end)?
  2. Do we have somewhere to be or something to do?

If we’re somewhere to escape the cold, we leave in something like May, to make sure that we really do miss the cold.  But other stays, like our recent one in Vermont, end when we have something to do.  This might range from some kind of plans with a family member or friend to, well, Christmas.

And that’s really all there is to it.  We stay as long as we feel like or until we have reason to go elsewhere.  And we don’t always know how long we’re going to stay when we leave.  Sometimes we book a month or two and then extend.

That was the case when Amanda took this picture of me in Ocean Beach, San Diego.  It was bonus San Diego time.

Picks

  • I just recently started using a new ad blocking plugin for Chrome called uBlock origin.  I’d been dealing with some flakiness from the Ad Block plugin, and this one has been great.  Lower memory footprint and it blocks more things.
  • We’d been trying forever to sell our townhouse in Illinois, and we finally managed to with the help of a great realtor named Christine.  We’d had the place on the market for almost 2 years without luck.  When we listed with her, she got us an offer that we accepted within 2 weeks.  If you’re in the Chicago suburbs and want to sell, give her a call.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: The Long Road Home

In late September, I started a little digest series with this post about packing for a slow travel stint.  From there, we got settled, hiked, battled US border patrol, rolled with the punches, and packed to go.  So I should probably book-end things with our glorious return home.

What’s a Return from Slow Travel Like?

So you’ve been on the road for a month or three.  What’s it like to go home?  (Or, in the case of Amanda and me, back to a lake house that functions as our primary legal residence)?

In this case, it was… tiring.

We left Vermont on a Wednesday at about noon, drove through two days of driving rain, and arrived in Michigan Thursday night after spending Wednesday night in Buffalo, New York.  I did all of that driving, so I was pretty wiped out.

But, when we come home from extended car travel, I don’t like to leave a car full of stuff for the next day.  Hauling cats around for a couple of days is dirty business, and I like to clean everything out of the Jeep and try to make it a normal car again.  So a 9 PM arrival time is usually followed, first and foremost, by unpacking the top loader, carrying everything in, and cleaning out the back.

For me, I also then tend to unpack almost immediately.  Everything out of its suitcase and back to where it belongs.  My desktop rig set up, the Amazon echoes plugged back in, and everything somewhere familiar, so that I can wake up the next day to normalcy.  I believe this is a habit I acquired in all of my years of management consulting, always wanting to create some semblance of normal in a hotel before I woke up the next day.

Settling Back in… Or Not

So that was Thursday night.  8 hours of driving, followed by several hours of unpacking.  You also do other things, like turn the water heater back on, wonder why the hot water smells strange, sweep to see if strange bugs or other things have infested your house in the last month, make sure everything works, etc.  And, strangely, if you’re anything like me, you completely forget where all the silverware goes.

And then you settle back in.  Or, at least you would, if you didn’t have to leave again 36 hours later.

As it turned out, our Michigan-time was short lived.  There was fun to have in Chicago, where we had some overdue family plans to attend to.  So not 36 hours removed from a month on the road, Amanda and I packed weekend bags and got back in the Jeep to head to Chicago.

And we had some fun, including going with my mom to see Hamilton and then to have dinner looking out at the Chicago river.  Pictured here is Amanda, enjoying a swanky adaptation on the corn dog — a lobster dog.  The lobster dog is something you’d have assumed we’d encounter out East, but, no, we had to come to Chicago to find it.

Just goes to show you, if you never stop moving, you never stop experiencing fascinating things.

Picks

  • I sometimes make pretty corporate picks, and this will be one of those times.  I’m picking Chase Bank, particularly for business.  As Hit Subscribe grows, we’re moving our banking over to Chase, and getting set up with them was insanely easy.
  • As I was re-promoting old blog posts this week, I discovered one I’d written in favor of SemanticMerge, which has only gotten cooler since I wrote about it.  If you want a tool that understands your code well enough not to destroy your diff when you move a method around in a class, this is the tool for you.
  • And finally, I really enjoyed Hamilton.  It’s a play that swaps the traditional show tunes for hip hop numbers while chronicling the life of founding father and federalist, Alexander Hamilton.  And if that seems an odd juxtaposition, it is — in all of the best imaginable ways.

The Digest

This is a pretty thin digest.  Between traveling from Vermont to Michigan to Chicago to Michigan, I’ve kind of not produced much content.  Don’t worry, though.  I’ve got several more things coming out in the next few weeks.  In the interim, though, here are some videos:

  • In this Facebook live, Amanda and I talk about a day in the life of a location-independent, remote business owner.
  • And in another Facebook live, one of Hit Subscribe’s authors, Casey, and I, were on a business trip in San Francisco.  I interviewed Casey.

And, as always, have a good weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Up and Leaving

For the last few weeks, I’ve paused with my normal Q&A about slow travel, in favor of writing about actual adventures.  I’ll do that one last time here today.  I’m sitting in Michigan right now, fresh off of a month in Vermont.  But we only just got in this evening, having left Wednesday morning.

And that made me think about the subject of leaving.  Nobody has asked, so it’s not Q&A.  But I figure, while it’s fresh in my mind, it’s worth talking about the end of a slow travel stint.

What happens when it’s time to go?  How do we prepare to leave?

Leaving from a slow travel stint tends to be easier than getting ready for one.  Amanda typically sets about packing a few days ahead, but I mostly stick to “night before and morning of” in some combination.  Packing is pretty easy, since it just involves rounding up everything that’s yours and leaving everything that isn’t.  For us, that’s mostly clothes and electronics.

But packing is only one part of the equation.

There’s also concluding any local business.  For us, this usually means going and closing out with a place like FedEx Office, where we’ve opened a local mailbox for forwarding.  But it might also mean wrapping up other things, like a local gym that Amanda has temporarily joined.

We stay in AirBNBs or VRBOs, which means we’re staying in individual people’s properties.  Sure, they’re optimized for vacations or stays, but they’re still other people’s places.  And unlike staying there for a few days, stuff goes wrong or weird when you stay places for months.

For instance, we accidentally cracked a bowl the other day.  So we bought the owner a new set of bowls at a local store, hoping that this would make up for the trouble.  We also re-stocked his carousel with K-cups, since he was nice enough to leave it stocked for us.  Getting ready to depart generally involves this sort of courtesy accounting.

Here’s another consideration.  As I’ve mentioned before, we take our pets with us.  And, as any pet owner knows, they’re messy.  So there’s always a pass to see if the cats have been doing anything horrible while we’ve been there, and remediating any issues we find in this sense.  They’re generally fine, but if they’ve puked on the hardwood somewhere or whatever, best not to leave that for anyone else.

What about having fun?

And then, finally, on the fun side, there’s last hurrahs.  You go to your favorite food spot one last time, take one last stroll through town, do one last jog… you get the idea.  For our last weekend in Vermont, we wanted to do some serious outdoors-y stuff, but the weather didn’t really cooperate.  So, instead, we did a lot of driving, ranging out into New Hampshire and Maine.  It wasn’t plan A, but it did yield some lovely views from the car, like this one.

Picks

  • Amanda and I listened to most of the book “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work” on the drive from Buffalo to Michigan today.  It’s sliced into a lot of bite sized chunks and has some good wisdom in there.  If you like a lot of what I have to say about the corporate condition, you’ll like this book.
  • We don’t watch much TV these days, but we had an awful lot of rain in 35 degree weather over the last week.  So we binge watched Ozark on Netflix.  It’s about a money launderer who — look, it’s hard to describe.  But it’s pretty interesting and engaging, so give it a watch if you’re looking for something.
  • Here’s where we stayed in Vermont.  It was a great place, for anyone finding themselves with reason to be in far northern Vermont.  You could go for the lake in the summer, the leaves in the fall, or ice fishing/skiing in the winter.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.