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DaedTech Digest: Do You Have Friends Anymore?

Alright, I’m picking back up with the theme I announced last week.  That is, I’m going to go back to answering questions about slow travel that people ask me since we are firmly ensconced in our lake house for the next several months.

I’ve got an interesting and kinda blunt topic this week.

Do Amanda and I really have friends anymore?

The short answer is, yes, of course we do.  We just don’t see them very much anymore.

But the more nuanced answer is that our friends tend to come in two (non-mutually exclusive) varieties:

  • Old friends
  • Internet friends

We’ve made a lot of friends throughout life: high school friends, college friends, work friends.  And the rise of the internet and social media in particular has made it amazingly easy to stay in touch with those friends.

So we do just that.

We keep in touch with close friends via text, email, social media, etc.  Although, truth be told, we don’t always do the best job of keeping in touch.  But, we do tend to make up for that as we travel, figuring out who we know that’s in a city and making it appoint to grab dinner or drinks.

And then we do a good bit of socializing online.  Our business, Hit Subscribe, has a lot of folks, a vibrant Slack community, and weekly, digital hangouts.  This provides a nice supplement to the aforementioned media interaction.

But, in spite of keeping in touch with old friends and virtually hanging out with new friends, I’d be lying if I said we had the social lives that many of you probably do.  There’s no neighborhood crew, mutual children in school, drinks at the bar after work, etc.  Our lives are solitary, relative to most people’s, as we wander around.

So, we have to opportunistically make new friends wherever we can, with whomever we can, regardless of concerns like mutual interests, similar backgrounds, or even species.

Picks

  • Last year, we sold our primary residence, put all that stuff in storage, and promptly hit the road.  Now that we’re back at our house by the lake, we find ourselves with two houses’ worth of stuff for a single house, which includes a bunch of extra beds.  I recently learned that Goodwill and a number of other places won’t, for sanitary reasons, accept mattresses.  But, the Salvation Army will.  So if you want to donate something like a mattress (in good shape), give them a call or a visit.
  • I recommended this recently on the Freelancers Show, so I’ll give it a nod here.  If you’re an aspiring or new free agent, I’d give Million Dollar Consulting a read.
  • And, finally, this is kinda weird, but I can’t recommend my new dentist enough.  If you’re in the South Bend/Mishawaka area, give them a call.  The dental aspect of the practice is great, but so too are the bedside manner and patient experience, which includes a TV on the ceiling to watch during cleanings and massing chairs for patients.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: What Destinations Are on Your Wishlist?

After my retrospective on vagabonding for the cold season, we’re in Michigan for the summer.  And, because we’re done traveling, I guess I have two options:

  1. Write about our house in Michigan as if it were a slow travel destination (which I might actually do at some point, because this is totally a place I’d slow travel)
  2. Go back to answering questions people ask me about slow travel.

I’m going with (2) for now.  Let’s start with a fun one.

What Destinations Are on Your Wishlist?

There’s nothing quite like pining for the future, eh?

Historically, Amanda and I have limited our expeditions to roaming all over the US (with the exception of occasional forays into Mexico and Canada).  Mostly, this is because we’re traveling with two cats.  Throwing them in the Jeep is a lot easier than maneuvering them through customs and quarantines.

That said, we might bite the bullet next winter or in subsequent winters.  We might, in fact, do all of the micro-chipping, certification and whatever else required to fly them to international destinations for six months or whatever.

So, with nothing off of the table due to logistics, here are some of the options that have interested me the most.  (And I’m speaking only for myself here — not Amanda).  Also please note that the pros and cons are based on my limited understanding and preconceived notions, and not all that much actual research.

Thailand

First up, I’d love to go spend some time in Thailand.  I’ve done quite a bit of international traveling over the years, but Southeast Asia is an area of the world I have yet to explore.

As I understand it, not only is this a warm, scenic, culturally vibrant place, but there’s also a large expat/digital nomad community there, making it a relatively gentle landing spot for a first overseas slow travel situation.

Pros: The slow travel community, easy visa situation, the digital nomad community, low cost of living, a chance to really range out in a new part of the world for me, the food (I can only assume).

Cons: I don’t deal well with sweltering weather, apparently reserving the right to euthanize pets in customs if we don’t get everything right with their paperwork.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a destination I’ve long pined for.  I think from the first time I became interested in slow travel, that was a place that I wanted to head.

It seems to be just the right mix of interesting culture, cosmopolitan living, mountains, sea, scenery, and temperate places to make me extremely happy.  Unlike Thailand, I do have some sense of the area, having once spent a week or ten days or something in Panama, which I loved.

Pros: Climate, variety in a relatively small space, idyllic beaches, mountains, cool wildlife.

Cons: I’m not sure what we’d do about a car (and we’d want one, because we’d want to spend part of our time on the beach).

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is another place I’ve never been and would love to check out.  I’ve been to a fair number of countries in the Caribbean, but always for a vacation week or on a cruise stop.  I’d love to spend a season or two, because slow travel is a lot different than normal travel.

Just as I learned what it was like to live in the Keys, I’d like to learn that about a Caribbean island.  Plus, Puerto Rico has some amazing tax incentives to entice business owners to establish residency (as in, you pay like 3% income tax total or something), so that’s probably worth scoping out.

Pros: Idyllic beaches, ease of access as a US citizen, I can only assume food is great.

Cons: Rumors of spotty internet, not sure what things are like since the hurricane.

Hawaii

Last up, Hawaii.  This has a few things going for it in my book.  First of all, it’s far, far away, but still the US, so this makes basic logistics like the mail easier.  Secondly, I’ve been to 49 of 50 US states, and Hawaii would appease the set collector in me.

But, beyond those purely superficial concerns, it would be a slice of Pacific Island living, which I’d enjoy.  The scenery/landscape is also fascinating, with volcanoes and impressive land and sea scapes and whatnot.

Pros: Climate, outdoor activities, access to US logistics stuff, living for a while in a place everyone goes for their honeymoon.

Cons: High cost of living, surprising difficulty bringing the cats, a timezone that would put us out of sync with everyone we work with.

Wherever life takes me, “resort casual” is as nice as I ever want to dress.

Picks

  • I talked about this on the latest recording of the Freelancers Show, but if you ever have to send money overseas or receive it from overseas, check out Xoom or Transferwise to avoid high fees.
  • I just installed Visual Studio 2019.  (I’d been dragging my feet because of them relegating all of the plugins to a single menu.)  I must say, I find its splash screen beautiful.

The Digest

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Hustle or Work-Life Balance: What’s the Right Answer?

I have a rich annual tradition that I only just became aware of this year.

Every year, around this time, Apple has some kind of conference or announcement or something.  It’s the time of year when, for a day or two, an iThing getting smaller or losing a USB port makes everyone absolutely lose it and flood my news feed with opinions for a few days.

And I’ve only this year realized that this seems to happen annually and that it’s probably a pattern.  But every year, including this one, I’ve mustered a strong, festive sense of complete apathy.  I think.

The Nights and Weekends Platitude Heard ’round the World

This year, the event rocketed into my awareness not because of some new product or service, but because half of my Twitter feed started retweeting things like this:

Whoah, okay.  Curious, I spent some time looking for the transcript of wherever he said this, but to no avail.  I couldn’t even find a video of it.  (Though I did learn that this annual apple thing is called “WWDC.”)

The closest I could find was this Tweet with a quote, from someone who, presumably, had listened.

So, from what I gather, Tim Cook, during the course of the obligatory shout-out to the little people, gave them thanks for working their little tails off during their little nights and their little weekends.  And the world subsequently had opinions.

I Have Deep Ambivalence about Hustle Culture

Long time readers of the blog might remember this viral post about “sucker culture.”  I let a CEO, “Victoria,” have it for bemoaning her employees’ lack of desire to work extra hours for no pay.

In fact, I’ve written at length about the standard corporate hierarchy and how it involves a cultural tricking of many people into over-performance in exchange for no value.  Obviously, in the posts and in my book on the subject, I don’t treat this as a positive.

And, perhaps most compelling of all, I own a business with employees.  And, along with my wife and partner, hold work-life balance as a non-negotiable governing principle.  We view this as humanistic and simple, good business.

If we’re building a company that requires heroic efforts to exist or scale, we’re building something unsustainable and with artificially inflated value.  It’s the corporate equivalent of wrestlers cutting weight just before a weigh-in.

And yet, I work a lot.  Last week was a 4 day week, following Memorial Day weekend, and I managed to work a 49 hour week from Tuesday to Friday.  In my management consulting life, I used to put in 40 hour weeks, run the business that would become Hit Subscribe in the evenings from my hotel, and still do things like write a book.  And sandwiched between Sunday night and Friday night flights home.

So what’s my deal?  Am I a hypocrite?  Some kind of would-be martyr?  I’m honestly asking myself these questions non-rhetorically, and this blog post is my attempt to figure out the answer.

Because I think it’s none of the above.  I think, instead, that I’m fortunate enough to have continually hacked my career into situations where I both enjoy and benefit from work, thus rendering it all a sort of work/hobby mish-mash.

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DaedTech Digest: A Vagabonder’s Winter Season Retrospective

Last week, I teased the idea of a winter retrospective on our vagabonding adventures.  This week, I suppose I’ll deliver.

Now, when I say “winter,” I loosely mean “everything from when it starts to get cold until it stops being cold.”  So, we headed out from our Michigan place at the end of September, and traveled pretty constantly until last week.

I will note that we did return “home” (ish) in November and stayed in the Midwest until New Years.  The purpose of this unplanned return was to sell our old townhouse in the Chicago suburbs, so we actually spent a good bit of time staying at that townhouse, and then hotels in the area.  So, with the logistics, transit and moving, and the fact that our original plan involved Key Largo in November and December instead of a Michigan-Illinois mish-mash, I’m just rolling the whole thing into one giant ball of transit.

Whew.  With caveats out of the way… Everyone likes to take a data-driven approach these days, so let’s do that.

Our Vagabonding Season, by the Numbers

Alright, here are the raw stats of our travels.

  • 2 countries
  • 22 states
  • 233 days of moving around
  • 4 homes occupied (5, if you count the place we own in Michigan, and 7 if you count places we stayed for ~10 days instead of a month)
  • 1 property sold
  • 0 bomb cyclones or polar vortexes experienced
  • 8,211 miles driven
  • 1 scorpion slain
  • 1 anteater walked
  • 2 outstanding, distinct styles of US barbecue sampled in-depth
  • All 127 mile markers of the Florida Keys driven past.
  • 0 cats eaten by alligators

Let’s break that down now, with a qualitative analysis.  And, if you’re so inclined, you can read back through the digest history and see me blog about all of these places.

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The Renaissance of the Problem Domain as a First-Class Concern

Hey, look at that — I’m writing a blog post again!  Seriously, apologies for the lull, but, hey, life happens.

Enough of that, though.  Let’s dive into some realio-trulio, software related content.

I Read an Interesting (Horrifying) Tale This Morning

Lately, instead of starting my day blearily looking at my phone and the emails that have trickled in while I slept, I’ve been starting each day with unstructured reading and chatting.  I randomly read my feed, talk to people on Slack, watch a Youtube video, or take some research flight of fancy.

Anything goes as long as it’s:

  1. Not completely mindless
  2. Not directly related to work I’ll do

I can’t recommend this practice enough, especially for the self-employed set.  It stimulates creativity and sort of gets all of the things that normally distract me out of the way.

But I digress.  The real point of this mini-anecdote is to say that I read a blog post from Uncle Bob Martin this morning.  It’s a compelling read, as his posts generally are, and it talks about the recent Boeing crashes.

Here’s something that jumped out at me, though, somewhat oblique to the narrative, and relatively mundane in an otherwise pretty grim tale.

Rather, programmers must [have] intimate knowledge of the domain they are programming in. If you are writing code for aviation, you’d better know a lot about the culture, disciplines, and practices of aviation.

And then, this, at the end:

We have to know the business domains we are coding for.

Huh.

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