Kevin Wammer

Kevin Wammer

Tells stories about life, geek culture, philosophy, lifestyle, and much more. WTF is a niche?

The Letters of Clio #6 — Merry Holidays and see you next year

Hello everyone, and merry whatever holiday you celebrate this weekend.

I am currently in an undisclosed location, hopefully completely offline over the holidays. But thanks to the power of the internet and scheduling features, you still get a Letter today. The 21st century is so amazing, much wow!!

As we haven't had a proper holiday this year, my fiancée and I decided to leave during the Christmas madness and retreat somewhere calm and silent. I mostly spend my time reading and maybe sneaking in a session or two of Nintendo Switch.

This is the first time I will completely turn off my phone for an extended period. Heck, I've even been thinking about not bringing it in the first place. This would make it my first time without a smartphone since... well, since I had owned my first one back in 2008.

I am not doing this to digitally detox. Or do a digital sabbatical or whatever else you want to call this. I am mostly trying to prove myself I can do it. That I can resist the temptation.

Because, in truth, I doubt it. I am addicted to my phone. I use it to procrastinate whenever I don't know what to do; mindlessly scrolling through feeds, inboxes, or chatlogs is how I get my dopamine hit. And it annoys me.

But in the past, the best way for me to get rid of a (bad) habit or hobby was to stop doing it for a while and see if I missed it. That's how my streaming career on Twitch died, for example. And I hope that's how that mindless phone usage will die.

Starting next year, I want to change a few things. Both personally as well as professionally. The downtime is also meant to help me figure out some things. Proof some theories I have.

For one, there is the timeline thing I mentioned above. While I use them to procrastinate, they don't ever really give me satisfaction. Not even if I curate them only to include people I care about. I don't know if this is a misanthropic trait of mine, or if it's just the filter of social media that makes everything look, well, bleurgh, but it always feels empty. Unlike a status update via text message or a call, it doesn't make me care about what other people do.

The same goes for news. While, in general, I do not read "hard news" (politics, local, or business — more on that on another note), I tend to subscribe to a ton of tech-related news. But all this does is make me want to spend money on things I don't need. So, I might cull my feeds, too. And use the money I save for more meaningful things like investing in ETFs or similar.

All in all, my goal is to spend more time next year doing what might not give me instant gratification but what brings me closer to my actual goals in life. These goals are:

  • Never stop learning
  • Teach what I learn
  • Live a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally

Getting there takes time and energy. Time and energy I can recover by doing less of the aforementioned things.

So, enjoy your holidays. Have a great start to 2022. Stay safe! And don't fight your relatives, not even that no-vax uncle. It's never worth the mental energy.

See you in 2022!

The Letters of Clio #5 — Oh, so tired and oh, such good writing

We have moved. It was a success. We're not entirely done yet, but this place already feels like home. It also feels like my arms will fall off any minute now, and my back will break the moment I have to pick up one more thing from the floor.

I am a very sleepy clio, and these are the Letters of Clio. Welcome!

This move was exhausting. Even if you hire, a moving company — which we did —, moving stays exhausting.

I started exercising earlier in the year, but no matter how many kilograms I could lift on those machines, nothing could prepare for the number of boxes I had to carry.

Alas, I am tired. So tired as fuck. They even made a song describing my tiredness.

Despite living here for exactly a week, I am not used to some things yet. We have a much bigger kitchen with double the storage options. And I can't find half of my stuff. I still don't remember where my espresso mugs are.

Also, I have realised we own a lot of unneeded things. We used to have an attic in the old apartment, which was a black hole.

You put something up there, woosh, gone. Never to be remembered. Never to be seen again.

That is until you move. Then everything reappears, gets catapulted out of the black hole onto the floor of your new apartment. Where it then starts to live. Until you clean it. Or try to. And then find the sixth HDMI-cable and the ninth empty box for… wait, when did I get this? Do I even still own this?!

I think I found my theme for 2022: Deceleration and decluttering. Getting closer to „enough“. Trying to spend even less time on any of the extremes of civilisation and capitalism.

Just use what I have, get rid of what I don‘t need, and have fun while doing so.

And yes, I'll probably blog about it.

But now to the links.

My Nintendo Switch Year in Review

I love my Nintendo Switch. It is my favourite gaming platform.

But despite my love, I didn't touch it this year. Or other video games, for that matter. Not because I didn't want to or because I didn't have time. I guess the main reason is that I've been too lethargic to do anything. The pandemic blues hit me this year.

This is why my Nintendo Switch Year in Review looks... like this:

Here you see when I was in a better mood, as better mood = willingness to play games, read books, write blog posts:

And for what I played this year? Mostly, a DLC for a game in which I have already invested a couple of hundred hours over several platforms over several years.

Lastly, Nintendo tells me to get these games next. Fun fact: I own them but have yet to take them out of their respective boxes. Ups!

Next year, we'll get the number higher. That is until the Steamdeck gets released. I currently believe that the Steamdeck will make my Switch collect even more dust.

Tsundoku | My reading list for November 2021

How is it December already? Wasn't it November a few minutes ago?

Well, a new month means a new reading list, so here are all the books I read in November.  For the stats:

  • Books read: 6
  • Approx. pages read: 1412
  • Split ebook/paper books: 1/5
  • Split fiction/non fiction: 1/5

How to Change by Katy Milkman

A great book on how to use science — not willpower — to form habits. Do you want to start exercising, eat healthily and save money? Read this book first. It's the perfect type of non-fiction. Short enough to be read in one sitting but packed full of knowledge.

A weird side-note: I kept believing I had read this book before during the whole reading. But Milkman kept mentioning the pandemic, which doesn't add up. Maybe the Matrix glitched.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

The only novel this month. How to Stop Time is the story of Tom, a so-called alba (from albatross, apparently people in the past believed they lived forever), a group of people that ages much slower than us normals, lovingly called mayflies. Tom was born in 1581 and ages at a rate of 1:15. This book is all about what it's like to survive your loved ones, see the world change over the centuries and how to cope with all of it.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Another one by Matt Haig. In Reasons to Stay Alive, Haig writes about his experience with suicidal depression in beautiful prose. This book is part memoir, part guide on how to keep going. I have never experienced depression. So many things here were difficult for me to grasp, but regardless I can only recommend this to everyone, especially if you know someone suffering from depression.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

And yet one more Haig. The Comfort Book follows in the footsteps of Reasons to Stay Alive and is, to quote Haig, "a collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad days better". There's a lot of Stoic influence in this book. It even reads like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: a book/journal written for the author himself to read on bad days.

There is a lot of wisdom in these pages collected from different sources. One example: one chapter is a list of songs Haig listens to when in a bad mood.

Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday

Talking of Stoicism: Ryan Holiday, THE Stoic guy, has released a new book, Courage is Calling. This book is, well, obviously, about Courage. The kind of capital C courage that changes worlds — no matter if it's only the tiny, personal world the protagonist inhabits.

I've always liked the way Holiday tells a story. He follows a specific principle: first, some historical storytelling (to me as a history fan, the fun part), then what lessons can be gained. Funnily enough, my favourite chapter this time around was the afterword. It was a personal anecdote, and I believe, his strongest chapter in the book.

The stories in Courage is Calling are rather "grandiose". It's mostly about people that either changed their world fundamentally or so strongly believed in their cause that they died protecting it.

I have, as of yet, a few days after reading the book (and writing this review) to see how I can apply what I read to my life. I hope that I am odd enough to dare to do the courageous thing regarding my life decisions. But for the big stuff? Capital C Courage? Maybe I'll be ready when courage is calling. But for now, I am entertained.

The Minimalist Entrepreneur by Sahil Lavingia

Sahil Lavingia is best known as the founder of Gumroad; a platform helping creators make money with their (digital) creations. Unlike most companies, Sahil bootstrapped Gumroad. Though they raised funding in the past but failed, Sahil restarted the company to be much smaller and saner. In the Minimalist Entrepreneur, he shares what he has learned and what he now believes is the best way to create a successful, healthy company.

I don't see myself as an entrepreneur (yet?), but I believe a lot in this book can be used as guidance for a successful side-gig, slash hobby, like this very blog.

I have realized that I don't even remotely read enough books written by women. I need to remedy that.

Please send me your favourite books of the year written by a woman.

The Letters of Clio #4 — Complicated is The New Black and a Deep Dive into Web3

Good morning, welcome from... my old apartment. We haven't moved, and we haven't even gotten the keys yet. The delivery has been postponed to Monday.

This isn't a big issue as we didn't start packing this weekend after all, unlike what I said in the last newsletter. Oops! If you know me personally, this won't surprise you. (Hi, mom!) I could very well just be named Lord Clio, Protector of Procrastination, First of His Name.

Oh, and one more thing before we start: I published the essay of this week's Letters on the blog, but to see the whole content, you have to sign up. If you read this through email, no worries, you are all set.

And thanks to Greg for helping me fix a stupid issue in my theme files. You're a genius.

Now to this week's essay!

I have been dabbling my toes into investing recently. I've mostly been writing my own set of investing rules and game-plan for next year. How much money do I want to invest, the split between long-term and short-term, do I want to touch crypto, etc.

What I've realised while doing this is that most of these things aren't that complicated. All you need is a set of rational rules, maybe some automation and then stop thinking about it.

Unfortunately, humans are neither rational nor very good at simplifying their lives. We seem to like complicated. The more extraordinary the method, the more we believe it's the correct option. While in reality, it's probably the opposite. Occam's Razor exists for a reason.

I see this in more than just investing. Life, in general, doesn't need complicated hacks to be decent.

Take health, for example. We follow all these crazy diets, take all these supplements (yours truly included), invent all these exercise regimens, and generally follow every new trend created by a celebrity.

And yet, as soon as you dig deeper, read up on some science, you realise the basics are all always the same:

  1. Sleep enough
  2. Hydrate (with water)
  3. Eat not too much, but primarily vegetables
  4. Exercise regularly, preferably in the sun
  5. Do things you love for the sake of doing them
  6. See friends and family

Unfortunately, to quote Oliver, these things are simple but not easy. And they are boring. We dislike boring. We are not wired that way.

So, we overcomplicate stuff. We try to find exciting methods because they seem to motivate us in the short term. But because this shit's complicated, we mess up, then stop doing it to the surprise of no one but ourselves.

I suffer from this myself: what is the best supplement for longevity, what new tool makes me work smarter, what's the latest news in meditation, is there an app that makes me a better writer?

There is always an answer. There is always one more thing. And so, I catch myself spending more time trying to optimise something than following the basics – more time researching doing the thing.

And yet, that's all it needs. Good, balanced basics, followed regularly.