December 16th – December 31st, 2018


Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was a celebrated United States Supreme Court Justice in the early part of the 20th century. As a young man, while fighting in the American Civil War, he was shot in the neck and chest. He also sported an incredible mustache. But I really only knew about the man through these wise words:

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”


Keyword research today. Never took it all that seriously before, but now skipping it seems insane to me. Say you have two blog articles in mind to write. Wouldn’t you want to know if one was likely to attract ten times as much traffic as the other? Of course you would. You want your stuff to reach and help as many people as possible. Keyword research is essential to achieve that.


Might have pushed my luck a bit too much, on the verge of getting sick now, can feel it in my throat. I remember a decade ago having this same feeling after a week of drunken Mardi Gras revelry. Back then it was the partying and alcohol that did the damage. Now it’s the work that does it. Which may sound sad, but I’d much rather be here than there.


Forced day off to get healthy. Binge watching The Wire, on season three. Some say it’s the best TV show ever made. They might be right. Humans are messy and complex. So is the world we live in. The Wire does a good job of depicting that. Lots of nuance, shades of grey. Shows how people can do bad shit for good reasons. And how rare it is to have complete closure.


Feeling good about my plan for 2019, reckon it’s going to be a big year. But then, I remember thinking the same thing a year ago. And the year before that. I wonder if it’s foolishness, getting my hopes up every twelve months, getting myself all excited. Or maybe it’s a good thing, that thing Churchill described: “the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”


When do you lose all sense of time? Is there any activity you engage in where you experience that? Writing is definitely one of those things for me. So is web design. Got lost redesigning my site today, the minutes and hours melting away. Seem to remember doing the same thing in this same town several years ago.


Gotta admit, I’ve been very one dimensional lately, obsessed as I am with this thing. Haven’t done any intentional exercise or stretching in weeks. No meditation. Reading fewer books. Haven’t checked Facebook notifications since November. In many ways, my life has been falling apart. And yet I haven’t felt this focused or engaged with my work in years.


He makes a distinction between people who are like-minded, and people who are on your level. Back in the US, where everyone was working 9-to-5, he wasn’t meeting like-minded people. Here in Chiang Mai he meets plenty, but most of them are only getting started building a business. He’s been doing it for years. He’s on another level.


Lots of tedious work to be done for my site redesign, so I jumped on Upwork to hire some help. Received almost 50 proposals in a few hours, most of them crap, as usual. I sort by lowest rate and scan through until I find someone good, can usually tell by the first two lines of their cover letter. Guy I ended up hiring charges $5/hour.


I’d probably hate working Christmas Day at a regular job, even if it was double pay. But here I am working for myself all day on the 25th. No double pay. Just doing exactly what I want to be doing at a nice quiet coworking space. Helps of course that I’m in Thailand, where it’s business as usual today. If I was back in Ireland things would be different.


Spent less than $3 on lunch and dinner combined. Lunch was a nice fried rice dish at a local restaurant near the coworking. Dinner was fresh-made sushi from a food stall at the mall. Eating out here gives you a taste of what it’s like to be a millionaire. No need to look at the prices on any menu. Just order whatever you want.


Heard this on a podcast yesterday: the role you play growing up in your family – eldest, youngest, whatever – is the role you tend to default to when you’re out in the wider world. I’m the youngest of three boys. When I walk into a room, I tend to scope out the situation, see how everyone else is behaving, look for a lead to follow.


Wasn’t going to review work online opportunities that pay less than $10/hour. Changed my mind for two reasons. First, $10/hour is damn good money in many parts of the world. Here in Thailand, for example, the average salary is less than $500/month. Second, there are easy affiliate opportunities in such reviews. And for me to make this thing sustainable, I gotta grab those.


At a cafe built for Instagram. Having coffee and cheesecake while multiple photoshoots happen around us. It’s all a bit surreal. Nobody’s here for the food and beverage. They’re here to capture themselves looking happier, healthier, wealthier than they actually are. I get it. I do the same sometimes. But it’s getting a little out of hand, no?


I used to rail against television, but now I watch YouTube pretty much the same way. Been reading less, replacing books with mindless screen time. Need to make an adjustment there. My attention span is shrinking, finding it harder to concentrate on one thing for a stretch.


Our apartment building has security everywhere. This building doesn’t. We walk through the lobby, take the elevator to the 15th floor, climb a flight of stairs, and find ourselves alone by a rooftop swimming pool. We’ll spend an hour here, watching lanterns floating in the breeze and fireworks lighting up the sky, thinking about the year gone by and the one to come.

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