More Thoughts On A Journey Of Less

Making the most of minimalism doesn’t strictly mean owning the least you can. Even if it did, I find that it’s taking me years to declutter and minimize. Attaining a simple life — the real goal — isn’t easy. I must be deliberate and mindful.

Maybe above all, I must be persistent because the call of consumerism is constant. And loud. I often want to upgrade my perfectly working devices for the shiny and new. So I buy more things, making my life a little less simple. And my minimalism starts to look like maximalism.1

I should practice gratitude and contentment for what I already own. But that doesn’t seem as easy as simply decluttering. A cultivated virtue seems less concrete than the tangible and visible progress of removing excess stuff.

So sometimes I practice minimalism mainly by purging2 things. It makes my living and working spaces less cluttered. I’m not consistent in this, though, so the way I persist is by returning to the task regularly.

When I last cleared off my shelves and other horizontal planes, months later I felt the familiar temptation to put of few things back on display — not a lot, just two or three choice decorations.3

But I resisted re-cluttering and persisted in decluttering.

A few things I’ve kept are stored away in a drawer, easily accessible but invisible. My personal space is sparse and simple. It seems calm. And it feels like I have more room to relax and breathe. There’s less that grabs my attention. A shelf full of stuff was a constant reminder to look at it, dust it, and keep it neat and tidy.

With the cruft cleared out, I have more headspace to focus on better things.

There’s more to this though. Minimalism is often seen as synonymous with decluttering. So if you just get rid of all your excess, you’ll suddenly have achieved minimalism, like reaching nirvana. But it doesn’t really work that way.

I’m finding that minimalism is a journey, not a destination. It’s a persistent practice4 of a life of simplicity. And it’s more of a set of principles and less of a state of being. Minimalism is a means, not an end.

It’s possible to have zero possessions yet still not have a simple life. Besides possessions, there are experiences. In Minimalism, experiences are often promoted over possessions as having more virtue or value. This is good yet has its caveats.

Don’t replace many possessions with many experiences. You’ll have an overbooked schedule, a complex calendar, and the burden of managing all your time with little left for breathing room.

Instead, minimize the quantity of both experiences and possessions in your life. It helps to maximize the quality of the what remains.5

Experiences are beneficial, but what happens when you have so many things to do? You go from busy to crazy busy. All the events, responsibilities, obligations, and commitments add up. Rather than filling, they drain you. Declutter your calendar, giving it more white space like a wall free of excess decorations.

I’m no expert at any of this, for sure. But I’ll keep trying to practice what I preach. I think that’s all we can ever do is become skilled practitioners. The more you practice minimalism, the less unskilled at it you’ll be.

What do you think?

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  1. In this sense, maximalism is synonymous with materialism. ↩︎

  2. Purge more; purchase less. ↩︎

  3. That’s how it starts. Just a few things gradually turns into many more. Clutter attracts clutter! ↩︎

  4. I’ll probably never get it right. It’s fine to get as close as possible. ↩︎

  5. Less, but better. ↩︎

Unclouding The Benefits Of Local Data Storage

It’s great when you find something that resonates, like this article I just read. It brings to boil core points about digital well-being that have been simmering in me lately. The Verge author, David Pierce, talks about journaling in Day One and note taking in Obsidian - just like I do. But more important are points about trust, convenience, and the trade-offs of cloud computing.

Pierce writes,

As more of life moves online, we’re being asked to give more and more of our time, attention, and information to digital services. In return, we get a wealth of convenience…

I wrote recently that the biggest benefit of cloud computing is really nothing more than convenience.

In this digital world, are there any spaces left that are just mine?


Local storage

I’ve thought more and more about storing things only locally (like we all did before cloud computing). It’s still a feasible option today. Just because a device is connected to the internet doesn’t mean you must store all your personal or private data in “the cloud” on someone else’s hard drive.

Can I have all of those modern conveniences without constantly being asked to share, to socialize, to upgrade to the enterprise plan?

One thing I’ve had to accept when moving data out of iCloud, going local, is that my digital life may be a little less convenient. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s worth the trade off. I gain more direct control over my own data and reduce dependence on a for-profit business. Bonus: it can also mean one less subscription fee.

This minimizes the excessive trust I’ve placed in a single corporation, which can change for the worse or cease to exist altogether. This is partly why I’ve been decoupling from Apple lately. And speaking of a company suddenly ending, look at DPReview, which after a quarter century is being deleted from the internet by its owner, Amazon.

Personal apps

We too often underestimate the true cost of convenience.

We take risks with our data, entrusting it to others who only have our best interest in mind in so far as it profits the company’s bottom line. So while your personal and private data is precious to you - like irreplaceable photos - that data will never be as precious to a capitalistic corporation that has zero personal connection to said photos. Your images and memories only matter to a company if they somehow align to its revenue stream.

The internet is useful for sharing public information, but it doesn’t need to store all your private data. It’s safest to assume that any data you upload is public - even when it’s meant to be private. The most sensitive data - passwords - can be hacked, like with LastPass.

Day One

Journaling with Day One, which has been known for being serious about security and privacy by way of data encryption, has finally broached using a web app in a browser to record your most private thoughts. That’s certainly convenient, especially if you use a PC. But Day One lists several caveats to consider, which clearly shows one must trade off or risk security and privacy for the sake of gaining some convenience.

Keep in mind that some browsers and browser extensions can compromise security in a number of ways.

- Day One

Day One then lists several things to consider - risk assessment. Are you willing to potentially compromise security and privacy for a little convenience?

I used to keep my journal entries in my notes app. Then I moved them to Day One. But now that I’ve switched to Obsidian for my notes, I’ve been considering also moving my journal entries into their own vault there. I would need to give up some nice features from Day One. But I would gain the benefit of all my journals being simple text files in a simple folder system - no export ever needed.

Like the author of the Verge article said, I need “to decide which compromises you can live with.


The note-taking app Obsidian, another Personal App I’ve come to like, tackles the problem a bit differently…when you first install it, it’s really just a simple text editor on top of a folder of files on your device.

-David Pierce

This is exactly why I switched from Apple Notes to Obsidian. I’ll never need to export my notes from Obsidian. By default, they’re just text files on my local hard drive; they’re not kept in a proprietary data silo or app container. Obsidian references the files and doesn’t copy them into its own library.

Optionally, I can sync notes to my phone via Obsidian’s own solution, or I can use one from “Big Tech” like OneDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive. There’s also DropBox, Syncthing, or whatever cloud service I choose. Or I can trade off that bit of convenience and only keep my notes on my local device. Plain and simple.

No app is forever, and my journal entries and notes need to outlast Day One and Obsidian.


Being wary of “the cloud” overshadowing your digital life can help you avoid unecessary risks. Trading away the convenience of cloud computing and relying on local storage brings a highly valuable virtue besides safety or privacy: simplicity. It’s simple to keep local files in a local folder system. They’re easily accesible, directly tangible, and always available - even offline!

While default cloud sync solutions have become easier to use these days, the general framework is still complex as it uses multiple energy-hungry servers in data centers with your files and info zooming across the web, always in need of a wi-fi signal.

In contrast, old-school local storage is simple: no internet required. The most cumbersome example I have is still easy enough: moving all my Nintendo Switch media to my Mac. The Finder on Mac won’t/can’t recognize the Switch. So first, I connect my Switch to my PC via cable and transfer the media files to a folder. Next, I move that media onto a flash drive that works on both PC and Mac. Then I move the files from the flash drive onto my Mac.

Getting my photos from either my iPhone or my Canon camera onto either my Mac or PC is likewise simple, using a cable or USB card adapter.

These old-school workflows are easy. I have the benefit of all my data staying local for full and private access. I don’t need to pay for cloud storage. And cloning or backing up is as simple as a copy/paste onto another local drive.

If I really want all my files on all my devices, I can do that. The only real trade-off is that doing so isn’t automatic, and the files are not always in sync. But that’s easy enough to manage.

We relied on local storage; it was fine. Then cloud computing took over. The convenience of it made the cloud seem indispensable. But its benefits clouded the fact that we must trade off a level of security and privacy. Yet we don’t have to.

A mixed approach, relying more on local storage and less on the cloud, is the best practice moving forward.

What do you think?

And for more on this topic, check out this related article.

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USB-C All The Things

You may have heard news that the EU is mandating that digital devices use USB-C ports for charging. Basically, all tablets, phones, laptops, cameras, etc must have a USB-C port to charge, as opposed to something like Apple’s Lightning port found on iPhones. And you know what? I’m ready for it!

Yes, seriously. I have so many devices now that use USB-C to charge; it’s great! So common, so ubiquitous, so simple. Everywhere I go in my house or at work. Every room. Every charge plug. It’s all USB-C all the time. 

Well, almost. There’s still Lightning for iPhone. And AirPods. Also my 8th-gen iPad.

But I don’t use my iPad much anymore. And I always charge my iPhone via Qi “wireless” inductive pads. So I’m almost 100% USB-C. In fact, for Christmas I received a gift of new over-the-ear headphones. And guess what? They charge via USB-C. Because of course.

Other than my Apple gear with Lightning, I have one micro-USB device hanging around…for now. It’s a JBL Go 2 bluetooth speaker. And it’s on the chopping block, soon to be replaced by a newer version that uses USB-C.

There’s an argument that mandating USB-C may stifle innovation. I think there might be some merit to that point, but overall I think the convenience and simplicity of having a single universal port overrides potential limits to innovation.

There’s also some push back against the precedent of a public government entity dictating what a private company can or can’t do. But I’ll leave such politics to better minds. As an end-user, I’m ready for USB-C in all the things.

Are you ready for USB-C in all devices? Why or why not?

Wired Audio Sounds Winning

In my recent post where I asked are AirPods worth their cost, I was only comparing them to cheaper “true wireless” alternatives. But there still exists an even more affordable option: wired earphones. Yes, physically connecting your ears to a device with dangling cords. And apparently, it’s a trend amidst Gen Z.

Are wires really that bad? Fair question.

Is being tethered to your phone or laptop a problem that needs to be solved? Okay, sure, unraveling a tangled mess of cords or accidentally yanking earbuds out by their tails is inconvenient and can be frustrating. But is that bad enough to warrant the high cost of wireless headphones?

Wired ear pieces are practical and affordable and simple. In fact, though AirPods can seamlessly switch between Apple devices, wired headphones can basically do the same thing. Just unplug from one gadget and plug into the other device — it’s not hard.

Well, except iPhones lack a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Of course, Apple makes a dongle for that. Also, you can’t connect wired buds to the Apple Watch, so Bluetooth buds are required. You could just use the Lightning EarPods for iPhone then switch them to the Mac…wait, Macs don’t have Lightning ports, just old-school round headphone jacks. Oops. Maybe there’s another dongle for that too. So much for the simple Apple ecosystem, eh?

Overall though, wired earbuds are simple:

  • Just plug’em in
  • No pairing required
  • No charging needed
  • No special case needed
  • You can’t lose one bud
  • They just work

Like this quote says, wired headphones reflect simplicity:

“Wired earphones make a different kind of statement. A person wearing wired headphones is disassociating themselves from modern trends altogether. They want to be plugged into simpler times.” — Elena Cavender

Besides simplicity, reliability, and affordability, wired headphones also have another distinct advantage over their rich wireless relatives: quality, as in Lossless Audio. Well, this was the case until recently, but it’s still mostly true today. Bluetooth couldn’t stream uncompressed audio; now it can but with caveats. And Apple’s own just-released expensive AirPods Pro 2 still can’t stream Lossless Audio.

Apple does include a good 3.5mm headphone jack. Though the iPhone ditched it and the new 10th-gen iPad dropped it, my M1 MacBook Air has one. I had to use it recently with my JBL speaker for audio playback; I couldn’t get the speaker to connect via Bluetooth after fussing with settings — grrrr, ugh. So I plugged in my speaker with a standard 3.5mm cord and it just worked. Wired audio for the win!

Have you gone wireless, or do you still enjoy classic wired earphones?

Sticking With iPhone 8 In 2022

Recently, the dynamic iPhone 14 Pro debuted. With it, iOS 16 released, rendering my teens’ iPhone SE and iPhone 7 officially unsupported. My iPhone 8 Plus — now five generations old — still works well. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” I’m not immune to upgrade-itis and am trying to stick with what I have. After all, it’s an iPhone. What more is needed, right? That said, my wants are tough to moderate.

Wanting to keep things simple, I minimized my iPhone, so it’s mostly a phone and an iPod — calls, texts, music, podcasts. I use it for a few other utilitarian things too, like the Camera and Notes apps. And I started methodically adding back a few features I had taken away, for example Apple News and Pages.

Minimal usage mitigates power drain. Critically, battery health is at 81%, just above the recommended 80% minimum. Battery life is decent except on workdays when I stream audio via AirPods for several hours; I’m usually near a power source anyways.

My iPhone 8 Plus performs with aplomb. Its A11 chip doesn’t seem sluggish even on the latest iOS 16. Basically, any currently supported and working iPhone should work for me. If I upgraded, I’d want a lot more, but The Verge thinks the low cost iPhone SE is all one needs.

“Apple’s iPhone SE is the small, low-cost phone that’s so good it makes us question the entire concept of $1,000 phones…" — Allison Johnson

Though having a dated design, the iPhone SE is an iPhone with reliability and quality. Apple’s other handsets offer more useful and nicer features, like MagSafe or Night Mode, and are certainly desirable. But I also don’t want to spend a small fortune for them when all my basic needs are met in the 8 Plus or could be met in the SE. Thrift for the win!

“The iPhone SE shines a bright, clarifying light on the entire smartphone industry, putting even Apple’s own top-end phones in sharp relief. What are you paying for when you spend $800 or $1,000 or even more for a phone? The list turns out to be more about niceties than necessities.” — Dieter Bohn

It’s like saying, “This iPhone SE lets you do all the Apple things for $400; this iPhone 14 Pro lets you do all the Apple things for $1,000.” Are the extra niceties really worth the extra $600?

Frugal, sure, but I wrestle with needs versus wants. On principle and in practicing contentment, I focus on my smartphone needs. But I’m human and sometimes cave to my wants — niceties are nice after all. Thrift cedes ground to Apple Marketing.

My iPhone 8 Plus has at least one more year of official support. As long as it holds up, I could hold off buying a newer model. But the longer I wait, the more I feel a need to upgrade; the battery will wear down eventually. 

I won’t rush to either the fancy iPhone 14 Pro or the no-frills iPhone SE. If anything, I’ll likely pick a refurbished yet new-to-me model. Again, it’d be an iPhone; nothing more is needed…but maybe I’ll cave to some of Apple’s more flashy features. Either way, I’m sticking with my trusty 8 Plus for now — it just works.

Are you tempted by iPhone 14 Pro? Do you cling to Android? Or could you get by with a “dumb” phone?

Not So Simple Apple Product Strategy

I generally agree with the sentiment that Apple’s line up of tablets and phones has become more complex over time and could benefit from the minimalism Apple was better known for years ago. From The Verge:

“There were four iPhone 14 models. I hemmed and hawed. When I eventually bought one, I felt nostalgia for the days when there was one iPhone.” — Victoria Song

Long gone are the days when Steve Jobs axed Apple’s devices — to just four (4)! Not four phones. Four devices total, all computers: pro desktop, pro laptop, consumer desktop, consumer laptop. A simple product matrix was all Apple needed to get on a profitable track. Yet per the latest quarterly financials, Apple’s business is plenty lucrative with its myriad gadgets. So who’s to say the company is wrong?

But from a consumer view, it’d be nice if buying decisions were simpler with products having clearly defined boundaries. I’m no business guru, but when it comes to choices, I like the straightforward approach of “small, medium, or large.” So three options seems enough. But is it really?

If we look only at the newest iPhone 14 line up, there are four options. That may seem like a lot, but really there are two new iPhones, the 14 and 14 Pro. That’s it. The other two are versions of those that differ only in size (I’m pretty sure). There’s a bigger version of the 14 — the “Plus.” And there’s a bigger version of the 14 Pro — the “Max.”

That said, I’m kind of a tech nerd, so to me this seems clear enough. But to the uninitiated, I can imagine head scratching between the four names: 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, 14 Pro Max. Things might be more clear if the size moniker was superscript, like two to the third power: 14 Pro…to the Max.

Then again, Apple currently sells more than the four iPhone 14s. It also sells two iPhone 13s, a 12, and an SE for a total of eight, which is…thinking…seven more than the single original iPhone. Okay, that’s a lot of modern iPhones to choose from. Surely Apple could simplify the present line up down from eight to just five. Yet it’s great to have plenty of options, right?

Well, not so fast. Let’s say you have $600 to buy an iPhone. Do you get the 12 or the 13 mini since both cost the same? One is newer and has twice the storage but the other one is bigger. Why are two iPhones offered at the same price? Would Steve Jobs say they’re both needed? I don’t know. But Tim Cook has brought Apple to be valued in the trillions, so there’s that.

Do you think Apple’s product line up is a bit over complicated?

Countering Consumerism

Though almost 10 years old, here’s a great article, Consumerism and its Discontents, with a good finger on the pulse of the shifting culture among Millennials in regards to American Capitalism and Consumerism.

A short excerpt:

“What is the solution for Americans unhappy with consumerism? Many are beginning to make changes in their personal lives…Many are “downshifting” to a simpler life.”

A simpler life, as in minimalism.

  • Discontent with excess
  • Unhappy with over-consumption
  • Overwhelmed by surplus
  • Burdened with clutter

There’s more awareness today of the downsides of consumerism, and the article goes on to address the larger, more systemic problem with western capitalism at a national level.

While that’s important, I think the reaction of Millennials, and other like-minded people, is a great start because the immediate adverse effects of over-consumption are directly countered at the individual level by practicing minimalism, along with a healthy dose of contentment. 

Sometimes systemic change is best sown at a grass-roots level, being firmly planted and allowed to grow naturally in the environment. It’s like a bottom-up rather than top-down approach. Yet it’s likely best to address excess consumerism from both ends for the most holistic and sure solution.

What do you think?

Maximizing Contentment

Up front, a disclaimer: I’m not a contentment expert. Being contented in life isn’t something I’ve mastered. It’s often elusive to me and I’m still learning to practice it better. With that, I liked this bit from the minimalists:

Contentment is internal, and it is possible to be content with nothing or with a room full of stuff.”

The context for this is about consumption. Consumerism is sometimes driven by discontentment. We seek happiness, and marketers convince us we’ll find it in buying the next product on sale. Or we think we’ll be missing out if we lack the newest thing.

Possessions: external; contentment: internal. 

Contentment is more an attitude than an emotion, though I think it can cause positive feelings. Joy, gratitude, or tranquility are linked with being contented.

As for quantity, I think you need more than nothing but not much. The least you should be content with is: food and clothing. Without those, it likely means you’re either a devout ascetic or tragically poor.

Such a standard of contentment is very high and not one I think I’ll attain. But knowing the minimum and realizing I have so much more than food and clothing helps me be contented, or at least grateful, with all that I do have.

I get this idea of contentment from Paul in the Bible:

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” - 1 Timothy 6:8

Another point about contentment is it means knowing how to be okay with either more or less, as Paul also wrote:

“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” - Philippians 4:11b–12

The tricky thing about minimalism — inherently focused on less in terms of quantity — is that it seems fundamentally discontent with owning many things. Is being minimalist akin to being discontent with much?

Pursuing minimalism, I’ve kind of struggled with an imbalanced focus on merely the amount of clutter around me. I think a drawback with minimalism is becoming too obsessed with having the fewest items possible. It’s like being consumed with little instead of much — you’re still consumed by concerns over quantity.

On the consumption continuum, if you swing the pendulum from having more happiness with more things to having more happiness with fewer/less things, you’re still stuck with basing your happiness on a number of things. So your internal feelings rely on external circumstances, which are subject to change.

That said, clutter causes stress, and less is more. So minimalism is valuable and vital. Yet while I’ve found some success in purging my possessions, I’ve also had to practice contentment because I can’t purge enough.

Minimalism helps when the focus is less on a low number of things and more on being intentional about how much you own, what you own, and why you own it. I think contentment, simplicity, and gratitude shine as they seem to be underlying principles of purposefully living with less.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

What’s your take on contentment?

The Simplicity Of Craigslist

I stumbled upon a recent article and enjoyed the intrinsic simplicity behind it as well as some nostalgia. I’ve been around on the web long enough to remember using Craigslist long before Facebook Marketplace was a thing. It’s kind of remarkable that the online classifieds site still exists, works, and looks like it did since the beginning.

From an interview in PCMag:

“For me as an engineer, simple is beautiful. Functional is beautiful.”

-Craig Newmark

Don’t you just love that? “Simple is beautiful.”

Sometimes, a minimal aesthetic is too spartan, boring, or lacking an oft needed distinguishing touch. Other times, such a style looks and works great. By the way, how something both looks and works is the definition of design as Steve Jobs was known to have understood.

If you check out Craigslist today, you’ll find it’s a beautifully simple list or table of links. Sure, it makes sense from an engineering standpoint to be so minimal. But aesthetically, what more is needed? Links look like underlined text; no need to get fancy.

I’m no web designer, but I enjoy tailoring my blog theme over time and giving it a fresh coat of paint. I try to keep it simple, functional, and prefer minimal flourishes — special touches, widgets — that distinguish my site. Having a distinct look to my own website is one of the great advantages over using a social media profile page that looks the same as everybody else’s.

In any case, read the PCMag interview and let me know what you think.

Do you like the simple design of Craigslist? Do you still use the site after all these years?

Choosing Blogger In 2022

After several years of blogging on WordPress, I’m leaving to blog on one of the first and oldest platforms: Blogger. But with its ancient internet age and Google’s propensity to cancel products/services, why would anyone in their right mind choose Blogger in 2022? Because in my case, it’s not the mind.

My mind chose WordPress; my heart chooses Blogger.

Back in 2017, WordPress wasn’t my first platform of choice. I actually chose Blogger first and, at the last minute, changed my mind. I picked the most logical choice (thanks, brain), the CMS that was more viable, popular, and had greater potential.

Today, I think WordPress remains the more rational choice over Blogger. In fact, during the plan/pricing upheaval this past April/May, although I was preparing to leave WordPress for Blogger, I again choseWordPress. And as it turns out, WordPress reverted from its radical new plans to the previous tiered offerings.

So why leave now for Blogger?

The Catalysts

In late May, when I re-chose WordPress and cut off Blogger, I was resolute and settled in. Forget Blogger, it’s in the past; unpack my bags and keep moving forward with WordPress.

But something happened.

While reading the book, Biblical Minimalism, I checked to see if there was a website for it. I typed the search terms into DuckDuckGo and — has a site on Blogger with posts as recent as August 2022!

I found a current blog hosted by Blogger on a topic I like.

That hit me.

I realized Blogger, to this day, is alive, active, and I could be there too. In fact, had I ultimately chosen Blogger in 2017, I could have been blogging there for the past 5 years.

Next thing I know, my fingers were on auto-pilot, migrating all my Jason Journals posts over to Blogger at a rapid pace. I resumed the process I had started back in April amidst the WordPress uncertainty. I was primed. So when I realized my heart was still with Blogger, I just went with it! Risk accepted.

“…’cause I can’t fight this feeling anymore…”

Some Reasons


Sure, Blogger is ancient. But the platform’s “oldness” is part of the attraction for me. I blogged there first; I’ve got nostalgia fuel.


Yes, Google could kill Blogger at any moment. But I figure that even if Google decides to sunset it, the company would most likely give advance notice, probably a year before final shut-down. I could enjoy Blogger while it lasts, having time to migrate back to WordPress or switch to something else like Ghost.

I also figure that since Google has had plenty of opportunity to end Blogger — like during the deconstruction of Google+ — yet after all these years still hasn’t, then maybe Blogger is here to stay.

Simplicity, Flexibility, Affordability

The biggest reason why I choose Blogger is the same as before: it’s simple.

Four Reasons Why I Chose Blogger - February 7, 2017

Blogger as a platform is all I need, nothing more. It’s minimal and enough. It’s also flexible and “free.” I can edit the HTML if I wish, and it costs no money.

The fact that Google owns Blogger doesn’t bother me. Google has stewarded it well enough all these years. And since I frequent YouTube that’s owned by Google, why not also enjoy Blogger?


Since 2018, WordPress has been increasingly block-based. But at Blogger, I can work with text in a WYSIWYG editor for posts and pages. Love it. No more blocks, thank you.

Is this a crazy move? Did you use Blogger back in the day?

Progress To Less

Inspired by minimalism and simplicity these past few weeks, I’ve started purging some possessions. It’s definitely a challenging process; decluttering in small steps helps. And after taking two loads to Goodwill so far, I’m already more energized toward owning less.

Tackling the task of expunging excess is daunting at first — you realize there’s a lot — but once stuff is pried off shelves and from drawers and is placed in bags and boxes, it gets easier. Though the outset might be overwhelming, once you see and feel the first bit of cleared space, you exhale a sigh of relief.

Drawers, Shelves, Hangers

My dresser is much less stuffed since I started un-stuffing it. I can see some of the bottom inside of the drawers and easily get to the clothes that remain. Now more accessible, using my dresser is less of a chore.

My wall once held three long shelves of collectibles that collected dust. Some got donated, some were given away, and others were simply moved to a different space for now. I meant to address one shelf at a time, but the small progress spurred momentum. Next thing I knew, my wall was a blank slate! It makes my eyes widen like when you try to see in the dark — nothing’s there! The emptiness is mildly off-putting until you feel your lungs fill with the open (less dusty) air.

My closet is more roomy now too. When I actually counted the number of hanging shirts I had — short sleeves, long sleeves, button downs, polos, flannels — I was surprised at the quantity. Finding several to part with was easy. I can donate more but am chipping away in small batches; it’s easier. The little progress builds up like a rolling snowball. I welcome an avalanche of free space.

Now that I’ve started decluttering, I’d like to accelerate towards the compelling goal of feeling lighter and unencumbered, for while things we own have value, they also have a cost of ownership.

The burden of storing, cleaning, organizing, and maintaining all your stuff is heavy. You don’t really notice at first because it builds slowly over time. It’s that slight nagging feeling of dread or responsibility that tugs at you every time you open your closet door to get something or pull out a drawer to find clothes. It’s the box of junk in the back of your closet that also occupies a nook in the back of your mind, subtly crowding into other thoughts.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how little I really need and thus how much surplus I have. A lot of my things are cool, but I don’t really want them. Nice to have, yes, but need to have, no. Having some clear space is nice to have and I need it — more room to breathe.

Are you inspired to minimalism? What do you actually need or use daily?

iPhone Less

It’s been a few weeks since I passed my iPhone through a vacuum of minimalism, removing all nonessential apps. I intentionally purposed it to be mainly just a phone and an iPod. Surprisingly, I’ve not really needed the Mail app or the Safari app since I’m usually near a “real” computer.

The other bold new move I made was to relocate the nightly resting place of my iPhone. For years it sat on my bedside table charging overnight. This enabled my habit of unwinding with my smartphone at bedtime. Typically I’d check stuff or catch a few YouTube videos.

But not anymore.

My iPhone now lives atop my dresser well out of reach from my bed; there it charges. At first, this was slightly weird. Knowing I’d feel a bit lost without some digital screen in my hand at bedtime, my Kindle Paperwhite took up residence instead of my phone.

Now I’m feeding a good reading habit, enjoying more calm in restful books.

In the past few weeks, I think I’ve already disconnected my brain’s wiring for compulsively checking my phone throughout the day. Changing where it rests most of the day and at night, and removing apps I don’t need, has made a real difference. But this switch needs to settle in long-term so I can mark any true transformation.

When I’m tempted to just install a few apps, I take note and put on the brakes. I ask myself if I really need them, and I remind myself what can happen if I make my smartphone too capable. It always ends up becoming too distracting and, to a degree, addicting.

I minimized my phone. I smartphone in moderation.

Would you consider switching to a dumbphone, an old-school flip-phone?

Is Finding Favorites Futile?

While concentrating on purging physical and digital clutter from the nooks and crannies of my life, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the glut of stuff I own or have access to. The picture of a closet or dresser overstuffed with…stuff…is classic, easy to understand. But in the digital realm, where things may be more abstract, less tangible, I’ve realized that in order to clear such clutter, I’ve got to think hard about what stuff is best. There’s simply too much because, being digital, it’s too easy to end up with piles of files. So I must pick my favorites; what’s most valuable?


Okay, concrete example: web browser bookmarks. In Safari, I’ve bookmarked hundreds of sites and articles over the years. My folders are in a perpetual state of half disorganized and half being organized. While I’ve deleted many so far, they were just the easy ones, and now I must decide what’s worth keeping. The less I keep, the easier it will be to sort them into proper folders.


Another area: music. With Spotify and Apple Music granting access to millions of songs, I’ve easily added an untold number to my library. I try to organize favorites into mixed playlists, but with so many songs, it seems infeasible. I wonder if I should first remove a bunch of music — the ones easily identified as throw-away. Then on a second sweep, I might scrutinize the best of the best. I imagine having a final “Ultimate” playlist (well, one per mood or genre) with only the songs I really love. Still, that’s much work. I could rely on the Apple/DJ curated lists/stations or could just ask Siri to play something good…nah.

Books, Games, Files, Photos

The challenge of choosing what to keep applies to various digital media: Kindle eBooks library, Steam game library, or one’s personal Documents folder on the computer for example. It’s easy to accumulate sample books, free games, or random files and later realize you can’t see the forest for the trees. The more stuff there is, the more effort you need to organize it or see clearly what’s there.

Sure, I can snap 100 photos of a birthday party without worrying about storage space, but then I must cull the blurry shots and create albums for the rest, which is time-consuming. Add this to the plethora of other digital files to manage and it can be all-consuming.

So is it worth the time and energy needed to analyze everything, find the best of the best, and keep only clearly sorted favorites? I’m not sure what a better solution is, and I don’t think there’s much choice. Either I leave everything in a sort of half-organized messy pile, or I purge what I can before sifting for faves.

If you accumulate much stuff, sooner or later you must deal with it all; indeed, it’s a process.

What declutter ideas do you have?

More Minimalism Please

Lately, I’ve been less lasered-into computing and gaming — though I’m enjoying much Minecraft recently — and more focused on minimizing extra things in my life. This mostly means purging possessions but also paring pursuits. Excess things and activities take up extra space, time, and money. Clearing the clutter saves on these while revealing what’s left and what’s most important. So I’m trying to clean the slate and prioritize needs over wants, necessities over luxuries. I feel compelled to simplify.

Digital Minimalism

Last week, I finished re-reading through Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism. My understanding of it increased as I devoured the whole thing again after first enjoying it in 2019. It’s on my Kindle, but I’m considering getting the hardback version as one of the few physical books in my personal collection; it’s that good.

General Minimalism

Digital minimalism has principles and practices that, I think, apply to practical or general minimalismas well. In any case, I’ve been focused on this too. Why?

  • To counteract the tendency towards hyper-consumerism and materialism, avoiding unnecessary purchases and discontentment.
  • To avoid distraction from many things, focusing on what really matters or things I personally value most.
  • To save time, money, and space, eliminating unnecessary stress and waste.

Minimalism is a practical tool and philosophy. Basically, you do less so you can do better, like quality over quantity. You minimize the extras so you can maximize the basics. It’s trading complexity for simplicity. You kill distraction to resurrect focus and clarity.

Minimalism isn’t having less for the sake of having less. It’s a means to an end, which is not strictly the fewest items possible. And it isn’t merely a form of religious asceticism. It’s pragmatic and can apply to people or situations differently.

Less is more. Enough is enough.

Biblical Minimalism

Besides playing more Minecraft with my extra time, I’ve also been reading more. The book I’m currently in is called, Biblical Minimalism. I like its subtitle: Following Jesus from a life of abundance to a more abundant life.

The book is very straightforward. It views Bible teachings literally about owning few things and addresses what kind of attitude to have towards excess. Helpfully, it doesn’t just preach doctrine but conveys the story of a family’s journey in following said teachings.

I find it challenging, inspiring, and informative. Do I really believe less is more? How can I practice it better?

A Bit More

I value reading, but I’m not yet sure where it falls on the priority list. What I’m finding in general, though, is that when you minimize activities, vacancy appears. And if you don’t intentionally fill the void with the best activity — blogging? exercising? — then some other trivial time-waster will quickly move in, consuming your attention and energy. So you can’t just erase; you must erase and replace.

I’m also wondering: is boredom valuable? I’m not talking about being idle or lazy. I think that maybe boredom is to the mind what hunger is to the stomach. It signals that your mind is empty and needs to be filled. But does it really need to be filled? And if so, what’s best to fill or feed the mind? A quiet mind, with time and space for deeper contemplation or introspection, is valuable. What do you think?

Do you feel like clearing clutter? Do you want more time or other resources for what matters most? What areas of your life feel like too much?

Smartphone Moderation For The Win

How often do you check your phone? I compulsively check for new stuff. It’s like a mobile slot machine: pull the lever…what did I get?! You probably know the feeling, that subconscious tug from your brain-to-fingertips to find something new or novel with the glowing screen in your hands. It’s distracting. I want a calm un-fragmented psyche. No more Smartphone Psychosis, please. Zombie-scrolling, mindless checking, and constant connecting must stop.

Checking out

My smartphone usage was like an addiction. I thought my problem was social media. Earlier this year, feeling frazzled from checking Twitter too much, I deleted my account. Then I signed out of Facebook. I also turned off nearly all phone notifications (interruptions). No more red circles for email. No more random “Dinggg!” repeatedly pinging my brain throughout the day.

Scaling those back really helped my splintered mind feel calmer. I also went on walks outside and intentionally silenced podcasts and music — solitude. This let me be fully present in the physical world around me. All I had were my own thoughts. Clarity replaced mild background anxiety. I agree with Cal Newport in his excellent book, Digital Minimalism:

“Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired.”

It’s been over 4 months since then, and while an improvement, I don’t think I’ve unplugged enough from my smartphone. My habit is to check it often, looking for something new or novel to feed my brain, like Johnny 5 from the movie, Short Circuit:

Input, neeeeed input…more, more input.

My mind has been hooked on always consuming new emails, new podcasts, new articles, new pictures, new sales, new apps, new sites… I had become what I beheld; my smartphone consumed me. And lest you think this is all overstated, watch this eye-opening video.

Like Neo jacked into The Matrix, how can someone unplug from what feels like an online lifeline? It has much to do with the constant connection ever-present in the pocket.

A phone, an iPod, and an Internet Communicator

I’m “picking on” the iPhone because it’s most responsible for starting the smartphone revolution and is what I’ve used most since 2008. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he presented it as three devices in one. Obviously, an iPhone is a cell phone, yet it has crept far beyond such a limited scope. While still an iPod and a web communicator, it’s also a camera, a mobile game console, and more.

It’s interesting to read in Digital Minimalism that Steve Jobs actually viewed the iPhone as simply an iPod plus a phone, primarily two devices in one. As Cal Newport points out in his book, the iPhone keynote focused on its iPod and phone capabilities, leaving internet communication as a distant third usage. Newport went on to confirm that the original scope of the iPhone excluded apps, the app store, and general purpose computing. It was simple.

The iPhone was never meant to do or be so much, but now we carry a pocket computer everywhere. Whatever you need, “There’s an app for that.” With so many apps doing so many things, we’re often easily distracted. Things have become too complex.

With increased capability and complexity, the iPhone is trying to fix the problem of distraction that it created by introducing more features for increased control, such as Focus Modes and Screen Time. But instead of adding features to minimize distraction, shouldn’t we be subtracting from the phone or minimizing smartphone usage overall?

More phone, less focus; less phone, more focus.

The simplicity and limited capability of the first iPhone is a key to guarding against the smartphone’s insidious scope creep. What is a smartphone for? It’s a tool; it’s several devices in one. I don’t think ditching the smartphone and switching to a dumbphone is the best answer for me. But I’m putting my phone in its place, focusing on its core uses for my needs, and minimizing extra apps and features.

This distills the smartphone to its essence like the original iPhone — simpler and less capable — and helps me to think of it as a-few-devices-in-one with associated apps:

  • Phone - Messages
  • iPod - Music, Podcasts
  • Camera - Photos
  • GPS - Maps, Find My
  • PDA - Notes, Reminders, Calendar, Calculator

As for “Internet Communicator,” I did two drastic things: deleted the Mail app and turned off Safari. Why check Mail so much? My emails are rarely urgent, and most aren’t important. Mail can wait until I’m at my laptop.

Lacking a web browser, I’m taking this radical new change one day a time. I had already deleted related apps like WordPress and Feedly. While it sounds crazy, I’ve asked myself if I really need all those on my phone when they’re always on my laptop, which is often available.

Outsmart the smartphone

The point is to think about needs versus wants and be intentional about smartphone usage. Minimize poor habits and smartly choose essential ones. Moderating usage is smart, like having a budget for finances. Rather than restrictive, it’s often liberating. Why be tethered to an extra appendage, the smartphone? I’ll let the iPhone be part of my life and no longer let it be my life.

In a psychosis, a person has lost touch with external reality. I can’t live that way, having my head always in my phone, my glazed eyes entranced with screen-stare, flitting between apps. So I’m trying to love my iPhone less, look up from its screen more, and stay in touch with what’s around me, cultivating mental calm and clarity.

Less phone. Less distraction.
More focus. More freedom.

If you’re seriously interested in all this, you should read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism.

Where are you at in your smartphone journey? Do you control it, or does it control you?

Avoiding The Apple Advernouncement

In less than a week, the iPhone will be 15 years old. Apple is set to announce the iPhones 14 on the 7th. In anticipation, I pre-drafted an intro for an editorial that I was planning to publish after the event. But something changed. Instead of looking forward to the latest and greatest from Apple, I now plan to avoid the annual iPhone announcement entirely.

The obvious questions are, “So what changed?” and, “Why?”


First, this is not a publicity stunt. I’m not revealing a switch from “pro-Apple” to “anti-Apple.” This is also not a “humble brag.” I’m working through a process of change, rethinking things. Writing/blogging about it is part of that process.

I’m kind of an Apple fanboy I guess, having closely followed the company’s innovations over many years. I’ve always had a thing for technology, computers, and gadgets. And while my focus fluctuated between Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others over time, Apple has often been my greatest interest.

I still like Apple a lot, but I’m trying to not love it anymore.

I think mine was a bit of an unhealthy obsession. As a fan and follower, I subscribed to all the tech and Apple podcasts, blogs, and websites my brain could consume. I’ve had a constant feed of this stuff for a long time. And while I’ve occasionally been overwhelmed by the input overload, this time I’m more aware of how distracted I am by it all. Also, it’s not like I’m a professional in this; I don’t get paid to blog about Apple or any other stuff.

Consuming Apple and tech-related info consumed me.

As a hyper-consumer of sorts, I was being consumed. It’s like being possessed by your possessions. To be fair, it wasn’t just Apple. I was checking my phone for new things throughout the day: new emails, new sales, new articles, new posts, new podcasts, new info related to any of my leisurely pursuits. So I’ve also momentarily stepped back from my various competing hobbies as I lack enough time to pursue them all.

This all led me to refocus on my general focus in life. What am I doing with my time? What am I ultimately pursuing? Apple, smartphones, cameras, photography, Pokémon, video games, books, movies, all the fun and cool things; I still like them all. And I still value recreation and entertainment. But my time — not to mention money — and my space are limited. Besides all this, I have a big family, a full-time career, and a need to exercise: responsibilities.

From a practical standpoint, something’s got to give.

Simple Change

Pausing my pursuits and taking time to reprioritize things, one tool I’ve turned to is Minimalism. Related to this, I’ve been exploring the topics of: anti-consumerism, contentment, and simplicity. Unpacking all that is for a potential future series of blog posts. I’m not saying Jason Journals will change from being about “Computing, gaming, and more” to “Simple living and less,” but something similar is possible I guess.

All this might seem like a big change; maybe it is. At the least, I’m stepping back from being saturated in Apple news. You know how some people will avoid the internet when a new movie debuts for fear of spoilers? I’m like that, avoiding tech news for the next few weeks so I can unplug my psyche from the Apple advertising machine. This might also be akin to those that need a break from social media.

At the risk of a bit of cynicism — but also sober realization — the hour-or-so announcement scheduled for next week is like a long Apple infomercial or advernouncement (advertisement+announcement), partly designed to cause people to want the newest iPhone even if they don’t need it. It used to be equated with Steve Jobs’ “Reality Distortion Field.”

If I watch the iPhone 14 show, I’ll probably become discontent with my current iPhone that works perfectly fine. I want to not want a new gadget. Wanting stuff isn’t so bad; it’s covetousness or greed that I wish to avoid.

Let me spoil things by pre-announcing the next iPhone: just like the iPhone 13 and others before it, the iPhone 14 will be great. But you probably don’t need it. While great, we’re talking about the iPhone that’s been around for 15 years now; it’s not really new. Also, Apple still sells “old” iPhones as brand new on its website because — guess what — they’re still great. They’re iPhones after all. But again, your current smartphone is probably good enough if not great.

This is an interesting turn of events for me, avoiding one of the biggest Apple events of the year. I feel like I need to do this. I must step back and rethink things. At the very least, doing so gives me plenty to blog about. Among all my interests and pursuits, blogging is still a big one I’ll make time for.

Are you looking forward to the iPhone 14 event next week? Could you care less? What do you think of Minimalism?

Stuck With One Computer

On a recent Clockwise podcast, a thought experiment got my attention. The question: If you had to pick just one computer to use — laptop, desktop, tablet, whatever you want — what is your top choice? It seems simple, but the single device you select is the one you’re stuck with. Such a restriction helps the mind prioritize things. Note: the one computer you choose is in addition to a smartphone (thankfully).

I’m fortunate to enjoy multiple tech gadgets and often grab the “right tool for the job.” For example, when I want to relax and watch YouTube, I often grab my iPad. Tablets — ideally sized, lightweight, simple, and touch-first — are great for easily consuming content. The iPad in particular has also grown more capable over the years for productivity. Sometimes considered a “laptop replacement,” it has become a better tool.

That said, while I’ve used my iPad as my computer, it has never lived up to a “real” laptop or desktop — even though I wanted it to. “True” computers can of course playback your favorite YouTube videos like tablets will, though they might be less than ideal for binge watching Disney+ or Netflix. But they remain better for more productive uses than a tablet like working in spreadsheets or CAD software.

So back to the big question. As of right now, if money/cost wasn’t an issue, what one tablet, laptop, or desktop would I run out, buy, and live with until it became obsolete?

My pick was easy because, as it happens, I already have it and use it daily: the 2020 M1 MacBook Air. Paired with my iPhone, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

I won’t dive into all the things I like about the MacBook Air now since I reviewed it recently. But here are the key reasons why I still choose it today, despite being released in late 2020 and with the M2 version now available.

  • It’s portable
  • It has a “full” OS
  • It’s the best hardware
  • It’s the Apple ecosystem

Let me unpack those a bit.


A big ol’ desktop computer is stationary. While there are advantages to such a setup, they often don’t outweigh the overall benefit of being able to compute pretty much anywhere with a laptop. I prefer such location flexibility. But since a tablet is more mobile than a laptop, why not choose that?

Full OS

Tablets run on simplified (watered-down) operating systems. So, for example, despite the iPad now having “Desktop-class” browsing among other more advanced capabilities, it is still fundamentally restricted, lacking a traditional “desktop” operating system. I want the whole enchilada, without restrictions or compromises.

Modern laptops not only comfortably run file mangers alongside Adobe Premiere for video editing, they also have improved battery life and weight — think “ultrabook.” So they’re sometimes nearly as portable as a tablet plus keyboard case.

Essentially, laptops are an ideal mix of desktop and tablet computer.

Best hardware

Speaking of a keyboard, another reason I choose a laptop over a tablet is for its archaic yet necessary input method. A keyboard, for better or worse, is vital for typing stuff — it’s indispensable for a blogger. Laptops come with keyboards built-in while tablets don’t. So…dealbreaker. And while Steve Jobs espoused the iPad’s on-screen keyboard for pecking out short emails, he also introduced the first-ever hardware keyboard for the iPad at the same time — to write a novel like War and Peace.

I choose the M1 MacBook Air in particular because, as detailed in my review, its display, trackpad, battery, speakers, and overall CPU performance are excellent. The only thing close or better would be Apple’s more expensive “Pro” MacBooks, which are overkill for my uses. And yes, the newer M2 version is technically a little better.

Apple Ecosystem

Maybe I’m an Apple fanboy. I simply prefer and enjoy how well Apple hardware and software work together, both in a single device like the MacBook and also across multiple devices. My AirPods, iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and MacBook all integrate nicely with synergistic features.

But even if my iPhone and MacBook were the only two Apple devices I could own as in this thought experiment, I’d still be a fan. And I’d still choose the M1 MacBook Air. By itself, it’s a fantastic laptop. And with my iPhone and iCloud, all my files sync between the phone and laptop. My Apple Music playlists and history also sync across the two devices. The little ease of use and quality of life features make the Apple ecosystem a pleasure to have.

What is the one desktop, laptop, or tablet computer you would choose? Maybe a water-cooled top-line gaming rig with RGB lighting? Perhaps a 2-in–1 Windows Surface PC?

Journaling Setup Switch Up

There’s been a change — switcheroo — in my journaling setup…again! So I jump between journal tools; it’s one of my quirks. I once relied on general note-taking apps and then moved to dedicated journaling apps. But now I’ve returned to a notes app. Of course, it’s the Apple Notes app.

I was using Day One, a great journaling app owned by Automattic, on my Mac. Its free tier has nice features like a built-in calendar view of your entries. And the streak feature with accompanying widget really helped me make a habit of journaling daily. I’ve journaled over 200 days straight! The Day One app also let me easily add a photo to each entry, which is something I never did before but have grown to like it.

But I’m not sticking with Day One because, after more than seven months of using it daily, I could never bring myself to pay for the full version just to gain one key feature: multi-device sync. By sticking to the free tier, I journaled on my MacBook but not on my iPhone. I thought I’d be okay with the limitation or that I’d finally pull the trigger to buy into the full deal.

Turns out I thought wrong.

I generally dislike software subscriptions, so I was reluctant to pay for Day One annually. And when I really needed or wanted to journal on my phone, I would add an entry to Apple Notes. Then later at my Mac, I’d move the entry to Day One. After doing this several times over the course of months, I finally realized I could simply journal in Apple Notes, like I’ve done before, and enjoy the cross-device sync feature I’d been trying to live without.

Apple Notes and iCloud are as reliable for me as they’ve ever been. The software is native to Apple Devices, like my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. And I’ve essentially already paid for the apps in the hardware purchase price, buying the “whole widget.” Apple Notes has password locking on each note for extra security, and it lets me add multiple photos to journal entries, whereas the free tier of Day One limits to one photo per entry.

So that’s why I returned to a notes app for journaling. It’s simple, easy, and includes the main features I need without costing extra money. Day One is very nice, but I didn’t use most of its features. Switching back to Apple Notes means I can minimize the number of apps in my life by one less, which kind of makes my day.


What do you use to journal? Have you tried Day One or Evernote? What would get you to make daily entries?

Reset Your Digital Self

You know the flustered feeling that all your tech devices and social media services can bring? Turns out, the overwhelming mental clutter can be relieved. I’m not talking about a radical shift like Digital Minimalism, although that would help. It can be simple. In this case, I’m referring to an informative post with a few ideas for a Digital Reset.

Click over to the blog of Anil Dash and check out the list of steps he takes to regain control over his tech life. It’s straightforward and down-to-earth. I like the practical tidbits he shares.

Two of his key principles I especially want to echo here.

Fear Of Missing Out

First, if you decide to step away from social media, FOMO is not as bad as you think. The acute feeling of denial – that fear of not knowing what the latest cool meme is – subsides quickly, being replaced by tranquil relief from the onslaught of info overload.

Deliberate Data

The second principle is about all that info. It’s good to have only intentional info.

For me, the best way to have this is to not have any news feeds! So avoiding social media, I like to intentionally go to websites that I know and trust for certain info. I even use a DuckDuckGo search field to find new info – on purpose!

All it takes is a little clicking and typing and swiping – slightly more effort than mindlessly doom-scrolling Twitter or Facebook.

Addressing Algorithms

If or when I do interact with social media accounts, I like Anil’s idea of resetting the algorithms that fill the feed with stuff. Maybe if I un-pause my Twitter usage, I will likewise unfollow everyone, or at least do a massive purge and slowly rebuild the feed content.

This past week, I unfriended 76 people’s accounts on Facebook. I’m sure my newsfeed will look different now, but I rarely visit Facebook anymore. Shrug.

There are other ways to do a digital reset beyond social media. If it sounds like a good idea to you, go read Anil’s post. I think you’ll find it helpful.

My Delusional RV Dream

What’s the difference between a dream and a delusion? It may be a matter of perspective. I’ve had a dream of living full-time in an RV, a two-axle travel-trailer hitched to a truck. My wife has said that my dream is a delusion. But she says it with a grin, so… She may be right.


I’m not sure what attracts me to an RV for a home. It’s partly the alternative lifestyle that intrigues me. But it’s also the simplicity.

Home ownership is a big responsibility. Owning land brings benefits but also burdens. If all my stuff fit into a small box on wheels, I wonder how much easier my life could get.

Living in an RV means living on less – only the essentials. Kill the clutter! The small space limits you to just what you need. That minimalism is attractive. You must remove the less important distractions to enjoy focusing on the best and most important parts of living this one life.

That doesn’t sound too delusional.


Besides simplicity, there’s the obvious mobility. Your house can go everywhere, so you can live anywhere. When you move, you don’t have to sell your house. Just take it with you! That’s convenient.

Need a new job in another town? No big deal. Want to travel and see new places? No need to pack up and go. Just go!

A mobile home fits a mobile lifestyle. We have mobile pones and mobile computers that we can’t seem to live without. We’re ambulatory (fancy word for mobile) humans!

Living in a house on wheels reminds me that life is transient and temporary. You never settle into one place, one routine. But maybe that means you never really get comfortable or relax either. So much for settling down, puttin’ down some roots.

Maybe this is a bit delusional.


I know there are many pros and cons about the practicality of adopting an RV-lifestyle. It’s not the best investment financially since RVs are valued more like cars than houses. But I know a lot of people have chosen an RV life and get along just fine.

Tight quarters do not sound cozy, especially living in a family with kids, but maybe you get used to it. Or maybe you would fight a lot, literally stepping on someone’s toes in close proximity.

And no matter what size your home is, you always tend to fill it to the brim with stuff. Clutter finds a way of piling up on flat surfaces like mold growing on a slice of bread. But at the same time, a small living space means having much less to clean! That kind of maintenance is light.

But I don’t know about the mechanical side of things: fix it yourself or haul your house to the RV dealer? Yet that’s an interesting reversal. Instead of calling a plumber out to your house, you take your house to the “plumber.”

What if someone steals your RV like a car? Then they’ve also stolen your entire home! I guess insurance would replace the few possessions you had.

Dream Or Delusion?

After my thoughts above, I’m afraid to weigh in here. Living in an RV full-time kinda seems more like a deluded notion, a fanciful fantasy that would struggle to hold up in reality.

There are people who live this way and love it. So it’s possible to make it work. But it’s probably not for everybody.

I’m willing to try it out someday and see if RV life is for me. Worst case: nightmare. Best case: dream come true. Likely case: somewhere in between.

Smart Tech A Dumb Idea?

For someone who is into tech stuff, you’d think I’d be all over the trend of making a “smart-home.” But I don’t even own a smartwatch (anymore)! My tech stance is strangely anti-smart stuff. It might be a dumb position, but there’s wisdom behind it. I might be open to some “smart” house stuff in the future. But proceed with caution!

The Costs Of Smarts

Before I tech-splain, I should state for the record that my phone is a smartphone – I love it! It’s the only “smart” thing I have.

But a smart-home?

All your household appliances down to your light-switch get smart with built-in wi-fi and mircochips. They’re interconnected to your smartphone. This makes your smart-home more efficient and convenient. And it puts you in more control. Great, right?

But there’s a big downside: it adds new complexity to your home and life. With every extra processor, modem, and other silicon wizardry, your once simple devices have new points of failure. Your thickened wi-fi mesh network – the internet of things – becomes a stickier web of technology, weighing on your house like a wet blanket.

Recall all the frustrations you’ve ever had while using your desktop computer. Now extend those to your entire home! You don’t wanna need to reboot your house! That’s the complexity I’m getting at.

So I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a smart-home. Besides adding technical difficulties, it also adds cost.

Buying more tech – smarter gizmos – increases your expenses. The home budget must balloon. I like tech, but I don’t like being broke.

Dumb Works

Aren’t some devices better off “dumb?”

The smart-TV isn’t so smart. Consolidating an internet connected device (like Roku) into your TV box – 2 become 1 – is a nice way to simplify.

But since the “smart” part of the TV is a computery-thing, it needs to be updated. And it soon becomes obsolete. Then you must throw out your otherwise perfectly good working TV because, in effect, it has become “dumb” again!

This extends beyond the TV. Any gadget you integrate with a web connection or an app system risks becoming obsolete sooner than later.

The “dumb” light-switch in my wall today is the same one from decades ago. Not only does it work in the same way, it still just works! That is smart.

Internet Of Things

There is a growing industry and market towards the Internet of Things – IOT. So all your common housewares become wi-fi enabled or have voice activated A.I. digital assistants to make them “smart.”

But this market is slow to take off. And that’s because of standards.

Different companies – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft – want to capitalize on IOT. For all your housewares to work together “smartly,” there must be standards.

Which company will win your home and rule it with smart tech, or can you mix it up? Can you ask Amazon Alexa to speak your schedule from your Apple calendar? Will Google Assistant dictate email using your Microsoft account? Things get confusing.

Simple Is Smart

My dumb-watch is smart because: it never needs to be charged. Simple.

My dumb-light-switch is smart because: it works with the flip of a switch. Simple.

My dumb-TV is smart because: it’s agnostic thus able to display anything. Simple.

I don’t mean to oversimplify the above devices – they are a form of technology after all. My point is that there’s intelligence in simplicity.

I don’t want to over-tech (over-engineer) things. Some stuff will be too smart for its own good.

I might buy into a smart-speaker one of these days.

But before I aim for a smart-home, I aim for a simple-home.

Slow Movement Growing Fast

In many stock photos, you see a mug of coffee with a laptop or a book. Computing, reading, and writing…these require focus of mind. Caffeine is stimulating. Yet the thing that I’m buzzing about now is…calming down.

Calm Weekend

Over the past weekend, I got to stay home alone while my wife and kids visited family. Being married with five kids means I’m not used to being alone. It’s a strange sense at first, feeling the house so quiet and vacant.

But by the third day, my nerves calmed. My thoughts stilled. I went about daily tasks with no sense of rush. Many times, I just paused between to-dos. Everything was simple, slow, and quiet.

Later, I realized I was pacing myself. Sometimes my pausing in the middle of the day was just because I could. Other times it was intentional. Although I knew the next task I wanted to do, jumping to it right away was unnecessary. I recognized the need to rest in the midst of doing things.

The luxury of time and space was a gift during my mini-staycation. A taste of tranquility. A sense of serenity.

Am I terribly busy right now? No. Nor would I ever want to be. Because that’d be terrible.

This isn’t the first time I felt some slowing down. And it’s not just me who felt this recently. When we all hit the brakes in March to stay home due to Covid–19, extra-curricular and regular activities disappeared. Did you find more free-time than usual?

My weeknights we’re totally free and open. I didn’t have anywhere to go or anything extra to do. And you know what? I really liked it. In fact, I still do. This new slower norm is an extended pause that does us all some good.

Busy Body

In our industrialized society, you and I are busy going to and fro. We’re like machines on an assembly line, constantly doing things. There’s an expectation of maximum performance without hesitation or rest. Everything must be done by yesterday!

Words to describe our busy state are: hectic, frantic, frenetic, frenzied, stressful. Do any of these ring a bell for you? Fueled by espressos in the express lane, our bodies are running in overdrive on overtime.

It gets worse.

Manic Mind

In our computerized culture, you and I are always on, multi-processing endless feeds of info. Most of it is noise; we try to find the good singal. If our bodies weren’t busy enough, our minds sure are. When we try to sleep for the night, it’s like we reboot immediately instead of shutting down. Insomnia isn’t uncommon.

Fitting terms are: robotic, hyper, auto-pilot, buzzing, anxious. Sound about right? Our minds are racing. Moving too fast, we start the next thing before we finish the previous thing. Multitasking like a computer is the status quo.

Hasten The Slow Down

So what should we do about this? First, we must realize the crazy-busy lifestyle is ingrained in our culture. Cityscapes and schedules are always moving, going, and doing. Seldom is there time for just being.

With that, we should note our own tendency. Some people thrive on busy-living. For others, the constant straining is draining. So if you’re in the latter camp, it’s vital to note that you and the culture are running on different tracks. This causes a push-pull tension.

But trying to affect societal change sounds like too much work; you would be very busy! There must be a way to do your life at a healthy pace, slower than the culture. I think there is, and you must find it for yourself.

About a week ago, I intentionally changed my daily routine to focus on some things I’d been neglecting. They are a high priority, but I had let distractions take over. And it occurred to me that I really don’t have enough time to do all-the-things.

I can’t do all the things.

This notion was a reality check for me. It’s not a lazy cop-out. It’s accepting a real limitation. Time and energy are scarce resources, but there’s no shortage of things you or I can be doing. It’s easy to overflow your life with too many to-dos.

We’re human beings, not human doings.

This reminder helps me be still at times. Our non-stop pace kicks up much dust, to-dos flying around in a whirlwind of debris. When still, the dust settles. Then you can breath clean air and see clearly. You can focus on your priorities.

Balance that with understanding: sometimes you need to hurry, but that shouldn’t be the norm. I’m not sayin’ we should be lazy instead of busy. But there are moments when you crack the whip because you need to get movin’.

Since our society errs on the side of constant motion and commotion, there is a counter-cultural slow movement growing; I wish it’d get here quicker (irony noted). It kind of overlaps in some places with Minimalism and Homesteading. It also shares some traits of Mindfulness.

If you need help finding ways to catch your breath amidst the rush, check out the Slow Movement. There are many sources of slow-life inspiration online. When you’re not too busy, just do a Google search.

Slow Reader

Another good way to slow down is to read a book. Much of my calm weekend, I was absorbed in a good book on my kindle paperwhite. In the past few months of lock-down, I’d spent so much time playing video games; I forgot the simple pleasure of a good read!

Reading something longer than a Tweet or blog post is engaging and engrossing, yet it is such a simple thing to do. It is so quiet and calm! I love the minimalism of my kindle and the act of reading on it. Profound and provocative ideas and worlds come from reading both nonfiction and fiction.

If you’re a slow reader like me, all the better for slowing down.Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Dare To Decaf

I dare say, maybe slow down on the coffee. Don’t get me wrong, caffeine addiction is a nice hobby of mine. But I’ve come to rely on it a lot just to keep up with things. Otherwise, the only thing slowing down as I age is my metabolism.

A few weeks ago, I reduced my coffee intake. It was an experiment to see how calm my nerves would get. It worked! Once I survived the sleepy morning stage, I felt more chill than usual. But a few days later, I had a mean headache. I figured since I’m not a crazy person, at least one cup a day isn’t bad.

And one cup a morning. And one cup in the late afternoon.

So I’ve got work to do. Guess I won’t be in too much of a hurry to do it.

My iPhone Became My Wallet

Years ago, I carried an iPod touch and a feature phone until I finally replaced them with just an iPhone. Weeks ago, it hit me: why am I carrying my iPhone and my wallet separately yet often together inside my jacket pocket? That’s when I decided to try a wallet case.

Two To One

Besides keys, just about everyone always loads their pockets with a wallet and a phone . A force of good habit, I always do a mental check before I head out somewhere; I’ll even pat my pockets while I do it, you know, to avoid a panic later if either is missing.

For years, I carried my wallet in my back pocket, phone in the front. My wallet always held several types of cards, and these days very little cash if any. But I realized that most of the stuff in my billfold was neither needed nor used like 99% of the time. All I really need is my driver’s license, debit card, and maybe a little cash. That’s it. Carrying both a wallet and a phone struck me as totally redundant or unnecessary.

I checked online for iPhone wallet cases to find the one that would work for me. But I didn’t want to open my current wallet too much – ha! – to buy one . So it had to be functional and affordable. And how about cool looking?

A Snakehive

It doesn’t sound inviting, but the wallet case I chose is very attractive. The premium aesthetic of the case is what caught my eye. It has a two-tone look and feel; I opted for black suede with brown leather. The inside is also exquisite; all the stitching is top-notch. The case appears to be put together very well. And it is.

I’ve been using my Snakehive wallet case for two weeks now, and it is already “breaking in.” The material where it folds is looser, the card slots are less tight, and the leather on the outside looks good with some minor scuffs.

I dropped my new phone wallet a few times and am glad the outer flap covers the screen. The part that holds the phone in place is a flexible rubbery plastic that is the right balance of stiffness and softness. It feels nice to have the entire phone wrapped in protection.

So as I expected, the case looks good, feels good, and is quality craftsmanship. And it only set me back $30 – that’s a good deal! But there are some things I did not expect in switching to a wallet case.

It Feels Different

One of the first things I noticed right away were quick moments of minor panic and relief. In these first two weeks, every time I’d head out and do my mental check, I’d notice my wallet missing from my back pocket! Oh no! A second later, my brain would recall my wallet is my phone, or my phone is my wallet now, and I do have it. It’s in my front pocket. Ok, safe!

The other unexpected thing I noticed is how nice it really feels to have one less little bulky thing to carry around on me and keep up with. Simplicity is an underrated virtue that I find a lot of value in. Cliche it may be, but so what, it’s so true: less is more. I’m a little bit freer now than I was before since going from two loaded full pockets to one.

And the thing I was most unsure about has, so far, turned out to be not a problem. I was concerned about actually being able to use my phone while it is stuck in a flappy covered case. Worst case scenario: I would get frustrated from fiddling with the phone and chuck the case across the room. But that hasn’t happened!

I figured that if the case was a slight encumbrance or hindrance, then that would cause me to use my iPhone less. And that would be a good thing, like using Screen Time to help you break your phone addiction. So I was mentally prepared for some case woes, but like I said, I’ve found no problem with it.

In fact, I’ve adjusted already to how to use the phone while it’s snug in its leather confine. And I’ve found that the middling awkwardness is outweighed by the simplicity and utility of this type of wallet case.

Snake Versus Bison

There’s another animal emobossed wallet case on the market that, honestly, I think I’d like even better than the Snakehive. It’s the Carson Wallet Case by Burkley – and it’s got a Buffalo!

Besides the cool animal, the big advantage of the Burkley case is that the phone part is magnetic. This lets you remove the phone from your wallet, as easily as slipping out a $20 bill, so you can handle your phone normally without the flappy case attached.

Otherwise, the Burkley is the same as the Snakehive except for the extra cost of that one ideal feature. But it costs over twice as much. That’s more than I wanted to pay this time.
Bonus Feature

Here’s a handy tip for the Snakehive wallet case. If you sometimes need to tote around a headphone adapter, the super strong magnetic clasp easily secures the tiny cable to your phone.

If you’re looking for a new phone case and have wondered about one that doubles as a wallet, I don’t hesitate to recommend the Snakehive to you.

What kind of phone case do you like?

Nothing But A Smartphone

Not long ago I wrote about pros and cons of devices designed to do only one thing well versus others that can do many things. Of course, the smartphone is the multi-use magic gadget with the chops to function as the be-all end-all device.

That in mind, here’s a thought experiment: can the iPhone replace all other devices?


First, the iPad (or other tablet). Can it be ditched in favor of minimizing device overload, to simplify your daily life? It is basically the same as the iPhone, only bigger. So you would lose the large screen. To mitigate that, you could just buy one of the big screen iPhones. You know, a phablet.

Also, many people who have an iPad do not have the LTE version, whereas the iPhone always has a cellular connection. So although the iPhone is smaller, it does have built-in cellular internet, which is a plus.

If you’re willing or able to live without the larger screen of the iPad, you really don’t need it. Your iPhone, though maybe less than ideal in some scenarios, is enough.


Next, your point-n-shoot camera; can it go away? Chances are, if you still have one, you have not used it in forever. Your smartphone camera is with you 100% of the time; it’s all you use anymore. OK, that one was easy. Moving on. Seriously, unless you’re an enthusiast photographer, or if you only used a DSLR on auto, then your iPhone camera is enough.


Now for the giant HDTV in the living room. Let’s see if we can toss that out the window. And let’s also chuck your subwoofer and little speakers or soundbar that go along with it. While we’re at it, say good-bye to the Bluray player, the game console, the Apple TV, your Roku, and any other streaming box you have. That’s a lot of electronic entertainment gear!

But so what? Your smartphone has an excellent screen, with super high-resolution, wide viewing angles, dynamic range, etc. It’s just smaller than your jumbo-tron! But then again, you sit only inches from it instead of feet, so what’s the big difference really? Want to zoom in on what you watch on your iPhone? Hold it closer to your face.

Yeah but what about the big bass sound lost? No big deal. There are many affordable headphones you can wear that deliver exceptional bass and stereo sound, even ones that mimic surround sound. Best of all, you can watch and listen to your shows anywhere; you’re not stuck to the living room.

Wait, what of the games? The streaming stuff? I will grant you that nothing beats a good controller with tactile buttons for gaming. That said, in the virtue of simplicity, one can enjoy a great gaming experience on a smartphone these days. There would be some sacrifice, sure, like not having the latest Zelda game (ouch).

Instead of dwelling on what’s lost, you can focus on what’s gained: the many other great games to play, the overall lower cost of playing, and being able to play those games everywhere, not just the living room.

As for media content, you know these days just about anything you want to watch or listen to is available online or in your smartphone’s app store, music store, games store, whatever. The supply of entertainment is virtually endless and still growing constantly. In fact, there’s too much!

Okay, your living room entertainment center has now been replaced by your smartphone. When you think about it, your phone is probably the center of your entertainment universe already! What else do you need?


Last and not least, your computer. That big box and monitor with a slow hard drive. Or your trusty clamshell laptop whose battery only lasts a few hours these days. No thanks. How much do you really use those things? What apps or programs on them must you use that cannot be found on your phone?

Most folks just use the web browser. And most major websites and services have apps on the iPhone. When it comes to the PC, the smartphone is the most personal computer on the planet! It’s always in your pocket! Plus, the processor inside your modern phone is likely as powerful as your traditional computer for 99% of the tasks you do.

So we can safely kick your computer to the curb. The phone in your pocket is more portable than your laptop and as powerful as your desktop. It can even do things your desktop can’t do, like double as a camera, scan barcodes, and be the GPS on your car’s dash.

If you prioritize and utilize your smartphone above all else, you can sell off the many other electronics in your house and use the funds to invest in a top of the line smartphone with a protection plan for it, a case, and peripherals or accessories for it like wireless headphones, a bluetooth keyboard, extra charging cables around the house, or an extra battery case.

Of course there are caveats to this kind of over-simplistic all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach. For example, if your phone is lost or stolen, or even if just the battery dies, you have nothing else to use for backup. You’d feel like you’re in a black-out where you get that eerie quiet feeling that life is on pause until the electricity comes back on.

One way to help your mind think about this is to imagine you’re going to sell your home and live in an RV to travel the country. The RV can only contain so much. Could you relax comfortably in it with just a big smartphone and a few choice accessories?

Run this thought experiment through your own household and see what things your smartphone could replace. You might be surprised to find what you can live without. And you may discover a new level of simplicity and minimalism, reducing clutter in your home and in your mind. There could be so much less stuff to manage.

Just a phone, that could be all you need.

One little glass rectangle.

Nothing more.

What do you think about this idea?

Take Time To Make Time

I was going about my normal day recently when a familiar phrase came into my mind, “So little time…” I took a break from my work at home and had been thinking about how much there was left to do. Then I quickly starting noting other projects that I needed to start—there’s so much! I was lamenting how little time there is to do ‘all the things.’

We’ve all been there. That’s why there is the saying, “So little time, so much to do.”

Back In Time

I began to wish for more time and wondered how I might be able to get it. As I thought, one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix Reloaded came to mind. It was during the Merovingian’s diatribe when he said, “…but then if we never take time how can we ever have time?” Such a simple concept!

Time was spoken of as a material resource you could put in your pocket or store up in the bank. How nice it would be if time were so tangible because maybe then we would use it more sparingly. But when you really think about it, we can budget our time more wisely just like we budget our money. We can be frugal with our time.

Just because time is not a tangible thing, it doesn’t mean we will have trouble budgeting it. We already know how to budget the immaterial. Case in point: money today has become digital currency and many of our transactions happen online in our ever-increasing cashless society. Money is increasingly intangible like time; they’re just numbers.

After my memory of The Matrix quote, my mind went further back in timeto none other than a little monologue by hero Marty McFly! In Back To The Future he said, “If only I had more time…wait a minute, I have all the time I want, I’ve got a time machine…”

If only we had more time. If only we had a time machine! Well we can’t travel through time–other than straight forward from present to future at the speed of about one second per second. And we can’t create a machine that somehow creates more time for us like it’s a tangible object. So what can we do? Go back to The Matrix.

Take Time To Make Time

We have so many things that take up our time. We must take our time back from those things by taking those things out of our lives. Go minimalist!

If you want to have time to do ‘all the things’, you must redefine what ‘all the things’ refers to. Do we really need to do everything that we think we do? This is nothing other than classic time management. We’ve got to practice prioritizing our time for only the most important things; do only the best things.

The best to-do is to do the best.

To have more time, minimize or remove from your life all the things that are just a time-suck. But you must recognize what’s wasting your time. I categorize daily life into three broad areas that we need time for: sleep, work, and play.

It would be nice and simple if we could just give 8 hours evenly to each time category; life is not that easy. Often, we find ourselves wasting a lot of time playing instead of working. It’s easy to get distracted when looking up one thing on the web and then a half-hour later…look at the time! Entertainment and social media: big time-sucks.

De-Clutter Your Calendar

In your own life, take some time to budget your time! Come to think of it, a line-item at the top of your Time Budget Worksheet should be, “Budget Time.” It would be helpful to write it out in front of you to see your time more concretely.

You could do this simply by calendaring. Just don’t book your schedule too tightly. Make “appointments” in each day for “white space” or time cushions. We need both downtime as well as uptime. Again: sleep, work, and play. It’s okay to schedule a blank space or a block of time for nothing on your calendar!

We need to reverse the saying. If there’s so little time because there’s so much to do, then there will be so much time if there’s so little to do.

This touches on the idea of multi-tasking. Usually that means you’re doing many things at the same time, which is inaccurate. What I mean by multi-tasking is simply having too many to-do’s on a regular basis–literally multiple tasks.

We work in a linear fashion, going from one thing to the next in a chain, just like the cause and effect chain of time. The more tasks you have, the less time you have for each task; it’s simple math.

We are talking about quality over quantity. When you have less time to dedicate to a given task, either it cannot be completed or it will be a mediocre thing, one that is not really worth your time! If that’s true, then why bother with it in the first place? Drop it from your schedule. Clear time for more important things. The fewer to-do’s you have, the more time, and thus quality, you will get for each one.

Time To Unwind

These thoughts on time are just some simple ideas. It helps me to take a minute to step back and survey the big picture. Like you, it’s easy for me to get so caught up, buried in my tasks, that I lose track of time and feel I have so little of it. But we all have the same amount of time: 24 hours a day. We all just need to use it more wisely.

What are some ways you have found to manage your time better?