Slomo

Slomo -- click through to watch the documentary.

Slomo — click through to watch the documentary.

Josh Izenberg has made a great documentary about a fascinating man. Watch it … then come back here and share your thoughts if you want.

My own thoughts on Slomo …

Do What You Want To

It’s hard to watch Slomo and not immediately consider what you want to do yourself. Not in a grand, life goal sense, but rather in a day-to-day mundane sense. How do you want to spend days? Slomo wants to skate, so he skates.

I want to read and write, listen to and make music, and play complex immersive games (like Dungeons & Dragons). I want to spend time with my friends and family, and enjoy the good things in life.

What do you want to do?

The Middle Third Of Life

Sometimes I feel that middle third grind. Money comes in, money goes out. People want you to do things (things you’ve agreed to do), but you’re not always in the mood.

There’s a middle way though, between dropping out and grinding away. To walk that path you have to be willing to sometimes put your own priorities ahead of what other people want from you, even if you love those people and want to make them happy. You can’t be a pleaser all the time and still do what you want.

“Not Becoming An Asshole”

It’s a good goal. It’s a good way to evaluate yourself, spiritually. Are you an asshole? Are you kind to other other human beings and animals, most of the time? Or are you so far up your own ass in the pursuit of money, power, and status, that you are in fact an asshole? Or maybe you’re an asshole because you’re tired of shoveling shit, and you need a break.

The easiest way to not be an asshole is do to what you want, more of the time. This will give you a sense of control, and you’ll be happier, and it will be easier to be kind to other human beings because you’ll be in a better mood.

Do You Have to “Escape”?

Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. I don’t know how restrictive your life is. But what would happen if you just started doing what you wanted to, one hour a day? What if you did exactly what you wanted to for two hours a day? Would your friends and family or boss freak out? Would they find that threatening? Maybe they’d be cool with it. Maybe they want you to be happier. Maybe being happier would actually make you more productive and effective and better able to fulfill your responsibilities to your employer/clients/family/friends/country/planet.

Is It Selfish?

Society wouldn’t work if everyone skated the boardwalk all day (you at least need some workers designing and manufacturing rollerblades, right?). But Slomo worked hard for a few decades before dropping out. He chose not to maximize (his earnings, his status, his security). Choosing not to maximize is not selfish. It leaves some work undone for other people to do, and some rewards unclaimed for other people to claim.

Other people might be threatened if you do what you want most of the time. But if they’re smart, they’ll only feel threatened for about ten minutes (when they realize they can do the same).

If everyone in the world spent more time doing what they want and less time grinding, global GDP might drop. On the other hand, with more people dedicating time to rest, relaxation, entertainment, love, creative pursuits, research, exercise, sports, games, tinkering, hobbies, and doing nothing in particular, we’d all be happier, healthier, and the geniuses out there would get more opportunities to create great works of art, invent clever objects and systems, and make brilliant discoveries.

Less maximizing = more optimizing (of human consciousness and potential).

The Inner Ear

Interesting theory about lateral motion. When I produce dance music I move. I know quite a few people whose lives have been transformed by movement (dance, surfing, skating, whatever). Depression gone. Hundreds of pounds lost. That kind of thing. Maybe there’s something to Slomo’s lateral motion theory.

Your thoughts? Please comment below!

 

Riders on the Storm

Singer/spoken-word artist Angela Angel's.

Singer/spoken-word artist Angela Angel’s.

A quick post today to let you know that Momu has a new release out today, a cover of The Doors – Riders on the Storm. The vocals are performed by Seattle-based singer/spoken-word artist Angela Angel’s. Ben Mautner, also known as Royal Sapien, turned in a remix that I love (I don’t know how he managed to turn a chill-out interpretation into a full-on banging spine-tingler, but he did), and the Den Jones remix which reaches for the lasers (trance-style) is also excellent.

The release is available on iTunes, Beatport, junodownload, and many other outlets.

I remember sitting on the living room floor, as a kid, listening to The Doors (wearing bulky 70′s-style headphones, carefully handling my parents’ vinyl records by the edges so I wouldn’t get the grooves dirty). Today it’s fun to put our own interpretations out there (something that I never imagined would be possible as a kid) — and it makes me appreciate the wild, woolly free-for-all that the music industry has become. Want to produce a cover of one of your favorite childhood tracks? Who’s going to stop you?

 

My Experience with WordAds

I try not to blog about blogging too much, but there are a few topics I want to quickly cover. When WordPress featured a recent post in their Freshly Pressed feature section, they also emailed me to suggest that I reactivate WordAds. WordAds is the advertising program available to sites hosted by WordPress. Initially, I had been invited to join the pilot program, and accepted. I turned it off after awhile because of very low revenue, and some weird formatting issues (the ads didn’t seem to be totally compatible with the template I was using). But then, as the Freshly Pressed post was getting tens of thousands of hits per day, I received this email:

Hi there,

I noticed you’re part of our WordAds family, but at some point had disabled WordAds on your blog.

With the recent spike in traffic driving to http://jdmoyer.com/2013/08/14/40-days-without-booze/ you might want to consider re-enabling it, as you could make quite a bit of revenue.

Also, if you deactivated WordAds before because you were having problems, I’d love to hear about them so we can get things fixed.

I wrote back with some questions. How much revenue is “quite a bit”? I received some polite but nonspecific answers. Not being one to like leaving money on the table, I decided to give the WordAds program another try.

Honey Nut Cheerios

After I turned on WordAds, short commercials started appearing at the bottom of my posts. The ads generally seemed like reasonably high quality mainstream TV commercials, interspersed with a few PSA type ads. Nothing offensive and nothing sleazy. Some were even funny.

None of my readers complained (though admittedly my contact form is somewhat buried), and site traffic stayed about the same. I didn’t yet know how much revenue I was earning, but WordAds didn’t seem like a disaster. I’m not philosophically opposed to advertising as long as it’s not intrusive or pernicious (see the previous post for a subtle example of the latter), and I like the idea of making back some of the money I pay WordPress to host this blog (and possibly more; the ad rep had mentioned “quite a bit” of revenue).

Then Kia told me I should turn off the ads. Like, now. She had just finished reading this post about the psychological effects of some artificial food dyes on children, and found an ad for Honey Nut Cheerios at the end of the post. There are worse foods than Honey Nut Cheerios, but at the end of the day my paleo/health/nutrition blog was showing an ad for junk-food sugar cereal.

I left WordAds up for another few days, so I could complete the month and see how much money I had earned. Then I turned them off.

Earnings

I made $162.19 over a roughly 10 week period, based on about 70,000 ad impressions. Site traffic during that time was probably about 120,000 views.

Not a lot of money, but nothing to sneeze at either. Having spoken with people who know much more about internet advertising than I do, that amount of revenue for that much traffic is on the low side. I could probably make more with Google’s AdSense program. However, WordPress hosted blogs don’t allow the option of AdSense; it’s WordAds or nothing. I could of course use the WordPress software on a 3rd-party hosted site, but I really like the WordPress hosting option. The software is great, the prices are reasonable, and traffic spikes are never an issue.

So earnings could be higher, but that’s not my main complaint. If WordPress would add one additional feature, I would turn WordAds back on.

Feature Request

When I’m logged in, I would like to see a small control next to each ad that says “Don’t show this ad on my site.”

That’s it. If WordPress added that feature, I’d be back in.

Obviously advertisers get to choose what kind of blogs they want to display their ads. So why not give bloggers a little control as well?

I think I would use the feature rarely. I didn’t even mind the rum ad. “0K” runs. Sleep yoga. That’s funny!

I have one other gripe. I think the $100 minimum payout is way too high, considering the low amounts of revenue being generated. That’s just a way for WordPress to keep money. As a music label owner I also have small royalties that I haven’t paid out at any given time, but I don’t have a minimum payout. If I owe an artist thirty cents and they ask for it, I’ll pay them. It actually pisses me off, the more I think about. WordPress should just pay their bloggers what is owed. There is no legitimate business reason to make $100 the minimum cutoff.

 Why Do I Blog?

Bringing money into the equation forces me to reevaluate why I blog. Is it to make money? No, the main reason is to help people live well, both as individuals and also collectively, as a species and planet-wide civilization. I also use jdmoyer.com to mouth-off about whatever I’m thinking, and to promote my music releases. Eventually I’ll promote my novels here as well.

But do I like passive income streams? Of course I do! Don’t you? Doing something you enjoy and getting paid for it called getting away with it. It’s one of my main life philosophies.

My alternative to WordAds will be a recommendations page of some sort, where I will link to products and services that I already use and enjoy. Then, if any of the companies behind those products and services want to get in touch with me to run a more official advertisement, they can do so.

PSA

If you use the internet, you should be aware of the plug-in AdBlock Plus. If you don’t like seeing ads, AdBlock Plus will do the trick. I use it in general, but turn it off for sites I like to support (like reddit).

“Follow Your Dream” Is Making Bankers Rich

Andy Allo stars in the new Wells Fargo commercial.

Andy Allo stars in the new Wells Fargo commercial.

The “follow your dream” mantra has a lot of power. Cal Newport over at Study Hacks spends a lot of time deconstructing the “follow your dream/follow your passion” narrative vs. a more realistic narrative of intensive practice and disciplined study leading to rewards. The two paths aren’t necessarily incompatible, but too much “follow your passion” and not enough “work hard and work smart for a very long time until you get really good” can lead to unrealistic expectations for young people.

In the ad below (which I saw recently while watching the new Cosmos on Hulu) the “follow your dream” narrative is used to persuade young people to take out personal loans in lieu of employment or otherwise creating reliable income streams. The euphemism “manage her debts” is used, but the implication is that the young artist is going to borrow money (and pay interest to Wells Fargo). “Sydney” isn’t going to sell her gear or her car, and she’s touring instead of taking a 9-5. So where’s the money coming from? I wonder what kind of interest rate Wells Fargo typically offers young music artists?

I’m making a broad and loose connection here, but when a cultural mantra goes 100% mainstream (“follow your dream” is definitely in this category), you have to start asking who is really served by the philosophy? Maybe the mantra for young artists should instead be “demand government funding for the arts” or “50% minimum royalty rate by law”. Neither of those serves Wells Fargo.

Incidentally, the star of the commercial is the talented and charming Prince protege Andy Allo. She’s got a good financial plan: advertising residuals!

Intermittent Fasting Update

Breakfast and lunch, some days.

Breakfast and lunch, once a week.

One of the more popular articles on this blog is about intermittent fasting. I still practice intermittent fasting (I.F.) about once a week, so here’s a quick update.

How

About once a week I don’t consume any calories (or artificial sweeteners) until 2pm or later. I drink water, black coffee, and sometimes tea (black or herbal). Sometimes I fast until dinner (I did so last Thursday, as Kia was observing the Fast of Esther and I tagged along).

Why

I do it mainly for health reasons. There is some evidence that intermittent fasting can help protect against diabetes, dementia, cancer, and other diseases of aging. Since I only practice I.F. once a week, the measurable effects probably aren’t large. But the subjective effects keep me coming back to this simple practice. On fasting days and for a few days after, I consistently notice the following positive effects:

  • seasonal allergies (if I have any) go away
  • mood improves
  • waistline tightens (some fat loss, some retained water loss)
  • general motivation and creativity increase
  • steady energy

My once-a-week partial fast feels like I’m giving my body a chance to “clean house” through autophagy. For more on the health effects of autophagy, here’s my original post on the topic.

Fasting and Comfort

The first few times I practiced I.F. were a little rough. I was probably experiencing some minor detox. I felt slightly irritable, a little achy, and my eyes got a little bloodshot.

Now I don’t experience any negative effects. I’m not hungry after 11am or so, my energy is steady, and my concentration is very good.

I do notice that my body temperature drops a few degrees in the afternoon on I.F. days. On really cold days I usually choose not to fast.

I prefer “quiet days” when I’m fasting. I don’t feel as social, and my senses and emotions are heightened (so I need less stimulation). I like to take long walks on I.F. days but I usually don’t lift weights or do anything physically intense.

Psychological Effects

Food can take up a lot of mental space. Not just in terms of thinking about “what’s for lunch,” but as a reward system. Do you “deserve” a treat today? Or a shot of Jameson? (It is St. Patrick’s Day, after all.) Taking a short break from food helps me recalibrate my rewards system. What other things do I look forward to in the place of food? Sometimes I read fiction when I would otherwise be eating lunch (for me, good fiction is comforting and reassuring and enjoyable, like good food).

Precautions

I don’t think skipping a meal or two once a week is risky. A simple precaution if you are just starting out would be to try I.F. on a “light” day where you don’t have much on your schedule. If you feel really terrible, you can always have something to eat. If you have health issues, check in with your doctor first. Some sensible precautions:

  • If you are addicted to caffeine (like I am), remember to drink black coffee or tea. Don’t try I.F. and caffeine withdrawal at the same time.
  • Drink enough water (so that you piss clear or light yellow).
  • Dress more warmly than you would otherwise.

The Next Level

For me, there is no next level. This is as far as I’m going with intermittent fasting. I enjoy eating with my family and friends too much to want to miss out on more than a few meals a week.

Reading articles like this one have persuaded me to stick with three meals a day in general. Restricting the “eating window” on a daily basis may have some benefits, but there are risks of cortisol dysregulation and other hormonal balance issues. My own “once a week” system is the opposite of hardcore, but I still notice clear benefits (without any side effects).