It's been about three months since I set sail from all currently existing institutions. After finalizing our business in the UK, saying goodbyes, and flying back to the United States, it's now been a little more than two months in the United States. It's been a mix of better than I expected, and harder than I expected.
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly some paid work fell into my lap. I was confident I'd find some work sooner or later, to hold me over while I build my grand, unified vision of a financially stable intellectual life on the internet, but I prepared mentally for it to take a long time. I was almost immediately offered handsomly-paid remote work conducting web survey experiments for a business client. This greatly eased my anxieties about the financial implications of leaving academia, but it also threw a temporary wrench into my intellectual workflows. I have zero experience communicating with business clients, and zero experience working on a remote team business-style. I allowed the Slack work style to colonize my consciousness way too much on too many days, even though the total count of hours itself has not been bad at all.
The current paid project is almost done, so it was only a short shock to Other Life Systems. I haven't done a livestream in the past few weeks, for instance. This is also because I am becoming conscious that I need to focus more on high-value work; the weekly solo live streams were really just a way to keep thinking and sharing and staying touch with my readers and watchers while I was going through the unpredictable chaos of the departure from England. Now that I'm on the other side, I will divert effort away from random one-off things to higher value longer-term projects. As of now, I'm going to formally end the tradition of the past few months, where I was doing a solo livestream every Thursday night. That's off until further notice. I might very well bring those sessions back, but if I do then they'll be something more focused and serious. Maybe prepared lectures or something, I just want to avoid too much bullshitting. Mere chatting and joking is fun here and there, but it's too cheap and easy. Seems to be a decent business model, if you look at some popular podcasts, but I'm chasing something different. I will probably still carry on the livestream conversations, I think, when I get settled somewhere; they still feel valuable. When we land in New Mexico, I'm going to commit to some rigorous 6-month or 1-year plan and will let you know what kinds of outputs you can expect through that period.
I still have podcasts posting regularly, and that will continue without interruption, as I continue to archive all the old livestreams as podcasts.
My recent distractions with paid work might have been a blessing for my systems at this early stage, because they're forcing me to rationalize my processes all the more forcefully.
The other good news is that if you need someone to conduct experimental research designs to answer various attitudinal or behavioral questions — I now know my way around like 8 different crowdsourcing platforms, and I can design + field + analyze survey experiments for business purposes quite quickly and affordably. If you have some causal effects in need of testing, let me know.
Although this work has consumed me much more than I would've liked for the past few weeks, remote research work — fit well to the higher end of my abilities — feels more synergistic with my larger intellectual life. It's making me more knowledgeable and nimble with designing, implementing, and analyzing concrete and tractable studies. Moving in and out of a work Slack and RStudio is much more complimentary to my personal intellectual work than moving in and out of... buildings where I'm supposed to be showered and do a zillion bureaucratic things. I'm honing skills that will come in handy for my own autonomous research work, and I am learning business perspectives that might come in handy later, too.
I got my driver's license, after about ten years of it being expired. Took me about a month — I failed the written test the first time around. My dad is something of a hoarder, and he offered us a 2000 Audi A4 which my mother and sister told us to not accept. My dad assured us that it would get us to New Mexico (our ultimate destination for now), and I personally put that probability somewhere around 50%. It was almost free for us, other than a few little things, and the registration, insurance, and a AAA package. So even if it were to die in the middle of our trip, it seemed worth trying. If we needed to buy a new car or fly from wherever it died, it would only put us back where we started. But if it held up, we'd save a lot of money.
Then, the night before we needed to hit the road, the back windshield shattered. My dad placed his eyeglasses on the sill of the trunk, where the trunk space meets the back windshield, while we were doing some last things with flashlights in the dark of night. He forgot he put them there, and we went to close the trunk... It's quite bizarre, the eyeglasses were fine but the pressure went through the back windshield. We had lodgings booked for the whole week, so we had to rent a car — surely the worst possible way to get where we were going, financially.
We drove down the East Coast, taking our time for about a week. We stopped in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley for a night in Waynesboro, VA. We walked the Appalachian trail — for like a mile. We had beers in a huge bar with families and babies everywhere. We drove to the area around Asheville, NC and checked out a few spots. We saw some remarkable wildlife we had never seen before, namely a good-looking couple in their 20s with three kids. I met up with Trad Queen. She was cool, very nice, intense, we didn't have too long, we discussed relationships and she told me to read Flannery O'connor. We drove to Raleigh and enjoyed a meet up with @nicholatian, @resonanceknight, and @cryptochamomile before driving to a beautiful salt-marsh town in southern Georgia. We finally arrived in Florida to spend some time with family there. We've been in Florida for almost two weeks now. There is currently a possibility of some kind of meetup in the next week or two, somewhere within the triangle of Daytona-Gainesville-Jacksonville. If you're anywhere around this area, let me know.
Then we head to New Mexico, where we'll live with Geoffrey Miller and Diana Fleischman in Albuquerque for a few months — maybe more if it works well for everyone. I'm looking forward to the relative stability.
What else? I just met with an accountant for the first time in my life. Gotta know what to do with all these Patreobux...
After a lot of reflection about my different projects and experiments — what's working well and what's not, balancing the work I enjoy with the work that I believe is most important, balancing what gets public traction and what will matter in the long-run, balancing what might lead to money and what probably won't, balancing all these and other things — I think I'm pretty close to having decided a 6-month or 1-year plan for the Other Life project. I microdosed LSD the other day and a few things clicked into place regarding how I should prioritize and sequence the various projects I want to work on. I'll let you know the plan as soon as I firm it up.