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Journal Simplify

End of the World or End of the Year

Although it currently unclear whether this is the end of the world or the end of the year, I’m being optimistic. I’ve started thinking about how I want to set up my 2021 bullet journal. If nothing else, it keeps me occupied, and hopeful, and thinking about something other than the existential horror of 2020.

The first thing I did was review my current bullet journal to see how I’ve used it. There are pages in the front devoted to the four major goals I wanted to accomplish this year, all of which when straight out the window by March. Not because they were squishy resolutions; they were solid SMART goals. It was all COVID-19 and related ennui. I’ve settled on one objective for 2021, and it’s far less ambitious: just survive. I’ll write more on this in the near future.

Looking over the current journal, I realized that I have a finite number of pages left. This year was the first time I started a new journal on 1 January. I’d like to do the same for the coming year, because the tidiness of it sooths me. So I counter the number of pages left, and divided it by the number of weeks left this year, and that left me with a reasonable “page budget” that I need to stick to.

Going Mostly Analog

One thing I want to do next year is get rid of as many electronic tools as possible. When I look through the windows of our flat, I see forest and sky and a lake. Looking through the window of the internet on my laptop and phone, I see nothing but a burning hellscape. Again, unclear if this is the end of the world or the end of the year. I’d like to avoid that window as much as possible.

I’d also like to spend less time staring at screens in general. It’s far more pleasant to be able to look things up in my journal, write down notes, and review things while sipping coffee. To that end, I’m replacing Google Keep with tiny pocket notebooks that measure about 5cm x 7.5cm (2″ by 3″). When I’m not in a position to access my journal, I can jot down notes. I will hand-write grocery lists, and copy down any information I need before going it.

It also means that some things that I currently track on spreadsheets or in Scrivener will move into the bullet journal. I spent a day going over what I currently track, deciding what matters and what doesn’t. Then I figured out the most efficient way to turn those things into spreads, collections, or simple trackers in my bullet journal.

Two or Four Journals Per Year

I’ll be writing more about my new setup in the coming weeks. There’s still a lot of filtering to be done. I want to make sure that I’m not tracking things for the sake of tracking them, or making things needlessly complicated and confusing. Even though I fit all of 2020 into one journal, I figure that 2010 will take at least two. I’ll break it evenly, six months per book. There may be some empty space at the end, but not a lot.

If I add in some of the things I’m considering, though, I may even go to one journal per quarter. The appeal of that is more journals. There are very few things that I buy for myself, or enjoy shopping for. Journals are a treat. I find setting them up relaxing, and then using them extremely satisfying. The thought of a new journal every 3 months makes me giddy. It also means that I can switch things up as my life, and this f’n world, inevitably continues to change.

End of the World or End of the Year

If you enjoy my posts, in the name of everything holy please buy me a coffee and help me to stay in Finland. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Simplify Thrive

My Personal Social Dilemma

About a month ago people started contacting me out of the blue. They all told me they missed me on social media. It was weird, that about 5 people that I haven’t interacted with in months or years suddenly reached out to me over the course of a week or so. I didn’t ask why; I was kind of afraid to know the answer. The social pressure to be normative and get back on social media is already there any time I get online, anywhere, for any reason. That’s my personal social dilemma.

There Are Other Ways

I get most of the online content I consume through an RSS feed aggregator. It doesn’t show me things I didn’t ask for. People I choose to follow don’t suddenly go missing unless they’re legitimately not posting. Things are presented chronologically. There’s no interference from algorithms. The only ads I see are to get a better plan with the RSS aggregator that offers more features, which seems like a fair thing to hit me up for. None of this creates the illusion of a connection between content creator and content consumer, though.

Some of the marketing, publishing, and writing feeds I keep pitching the necessity of having a social media presence. Years and years of data tell me that, for my business, this is not true. Few people will step off of Facebook or Twitter to visit my blog and read a post. A barely non-zero number of sales have ever been generated by my social media presence, even when I had accounts with thousands of followers.

Still, in spite of several attempts and massive amounts of evidence, elements of doubt continue to be introduced. What if it’s not social media? What if I’m just doing it wrong?

A Toe in the (Toxic) Water

After reading several newer pieces on using social media for business, I started syndicating my company blog posts to Twitter. I began to interact with people there, for just a few minutes a day. Then I started syndicating these blog posts to my personal account, although I haven’t really spoken up or commented on anything there.

A couple of weeks later, and I have some preliminary results from this experiment. As expected, there has been no boost in sales or traffic. I am, however, more anxious, angry, and unhappy than I was prior to resuming contact with these toxic environments.

The Social Dilemma

Yesterday I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It’s a bit superficial and cheesy, but think it could be eye-opening to a lot of people. If you’re like me, i.e. you’ve been paying attention, there’s nothing new here. Social media is manipulative, it’s bad for you, and it’s destroying civilization as we know it. That’s not hyperbole. There are facts upon facts upon facts to support it.

Of course, it won’t make any difference. Everyone has their own facts now, and we don’t live in anything like a shared, common reality. People who are already inclined and understand and agree with this film, will. Those who don’t find it to be in their best interests will deny that there’s anything to it, and dismiss it as stupid or propaganda.

I need to go blow up my social media accounts again.

My Personal Social Dilemma

If you enjoy my posts, in the name of everything holy please buy me a coffee and help me to stay in Finland. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Thrive

2020 Booker Prize Shortlist

The 2020 Booker Prize shortlist was released earlier this week. Six novels contending for the best English-language fiction of the year. In the past, some of my favorite reads were either on the shortlist or actual winners; I’ve discovered some of my favorite authors because of the list.

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed by choice. There are so many books that I want to read that I have a hard time picking one. Given that this has been a hell of a year, I need to escape into a good book on a regular basis. That’s why I’m going to attempt to read all of the novels on this shortlist.

The caveat is that I need to be able to acquire them here in central Finland. The library has a decent selection of English-language books, but they tend to be classics or older works by popular authors. Bookstores likewise have an English section, but they lean heavily toward popular novels. Booker Prize nominees aren’t known for burning up the bestseller lists.

In the past I have used similar award lists to make my reading choices for me. If this works out, I might begin working backward, year-by-year, or simply read any winners that I haven’t already. Anything that can potentially deliver me a delightful surprise, while cutting down on decisions that I need to make, is welcome.

The 2020 Booker Prize shortlist is:

  • Diane Cook, The New Wilderness (US)
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga, This Mournable Body (Zimbabwe)
  • Avni Doshi, Burnt Sugar (US)
  • Maaza Mengiste, The Shadow King (Ethiopia-US)
  • Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain (Scotland-US)
  • Brandon Taylor, Real Life (US)

I’ve already started Real Life, which I broke down and got in Kindle edition.

2020 Booker Prize Shortlist

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Thrive

I See Four Lights

Today’s post is not a rerun, or an update of an older post. It’s an interlude, so I can explain why I’m taking a more time away from the internet at the moment. I see four lights.

Deadlines, respiratory infection, fascism, ecological disaster, pandemic, sure. All of that. More disturbing to me, though, is the gaslighting, the elevation of conspiracy theories over facts, and the fall of humanity into madness. The things that I have been reading about from trusted, credible sources, some of which never make the mainstream for more than a moment, as disturbing. I see four lights.

This isn’t Orwellian, even allowing for variable definitions of the term. There is no simple juxtaposition claiming one this is in fact it’s opposite; “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, and so on. If you want to paint with a broad brush and say that it’s a situation that poses and immediate threat to a free society, sure. I see four lights.

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?’

“Four.”

“And if the Party says that it is not four but five – then how many?”

“Four.”

The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five. The sweat had sprung out all over Winston’s body. The air tore into his lungs and issued again in deep groans which even by clenching his teeth he could not stop. O’Brien watched him, the four fingers still extended. He drew back the lever.

It’s not even Kafkaesque. People think of The Metamorphosis, or horror stemming from a lack of control over surreal and absurd situations. My mind leaps toward The Trial, where the situation seems fabricated specifically to create chaos and confusion. It certainly applies to a certain amount of dehumanization, and a lack of civil rights. Even so, it seems like an organized effort more akin to Orwell’s 1984; there is, somewhere, a point to this abuse. I see four lights.

“They’re talking about things of which they don’t have the slightest understanding, anyway. It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”

What I see is downright Lovecraftian. While not on a cosmic scale, it juxtaposes what I know to be true against an unfathomable ignorance. An ignorance that insists that the world operates in a way that goes against all science and reason. That there are people in power to enforce this perspective, and declare that these demonstrably false things are reality, is even more maddening. It makes me question my place in such a world, where I cannot fit in because it does not conform to objective reality. I see four lights.

What this does is create a perpetual state of the unknown. It becomes harder to find factual truth among the propeganda, conspiracy theories, and mass hysteria. Speaking the truth seems to draw the zombie down upon you, like inquisitors falling upon a heretic. You know that this is not how the world works. Yet you are expected to go along with this insanity. I see four lights.

Slowly but inexorably crawling upon my consciousness and rising above every other impression, came a dizzying fear of the unknown; a fear all the greater because I could not analyse it, and seeming to concern a stealthily approaching menace; not death, but some nameless, unheard-of thing inexpressibly more ghastly and abhorrent.

I See Four Lights

If you enjoy my posts, in the name of everything holy please buy me a coffee and help me to stay in Finland. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Simplify

The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome

A version of this post, The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome, was previously published here on 8 January 2017. 

Minimalism is nothing more than getting rid of what you don’t need, in order to make more space for the things that you truly need and want. Period. You can spend a lot of time trying to define “need” and “want” and how blurry the line between them might be. There are conversations that could be had as to the means of getting rid of excess things. We could go over every possible type of resource to be saved from our tendencies to squander — money, time, food, energy, even affections and emotions. It all comes back to the same core statement: Minimalism is nothing more than getting rid of what you don’t need, in order to make more space for the things that you truly need and want.

It’s not a lifestyle. Minimalism is a tool. It’s an effective set of filters that help you to sort don’t-need from need/want. What it’s mean to do is help you focus, so that you’re not wasteful with your finite resources. It can make you more productive, help you to cultivate gratitude, and even lead you toward happiness by bringing you closer to your goals. It’s certainly not a contest, to see who can survive with the least amount of stuff or accomplish the most tasks in the briefest interval of time. That’s missing the point. But you know what they say, when you’ve converted to the cult of being a hammer, your newfound zealotry makes everything look like a nail.

Creating Word Clutter

I used to write a lot about minimalism. It quickly became repetitive. There’s only so much to say. At a certain point, you begin to break the basic tenets. You’re adding things you don’t need, creating unnecessary clutter. Excess verbiage detracts from getting what you need, and what you want. The fact that a lot of self-styled minimalists began to rub me the wrong way, because they’re incredibly pretentious, made me not want to be in that company. Their philosophical ramblings and holier-than-thou attitudes were taking up space I needed for more important things.

I don’t like clutter. It’s visual noise, and I have an anxiety disorder. Clutter is a distraction. It also takes time to dust it, to move it to dust underneath it, to move in order to get to the things I need, you know the drill. I learned a long time ago that quality is better than quantity. A few good things that I use often, that are pleasing to the eye and built to last, are much more satisfying to possess than a bunch of things I might need someday and have on hand just in case.

It feels good to use finite resources effectively, no matter what those resources are. There’s satisfaction in making things last longer. In getting more out of them. In knowing that the value comes not from the thing but in how you’ve learned to utilize it more effectively. By being targeted and selective, you can get what really matters to you.

Simple Living is the Key

This is one of the reasons that I’m focusing more on simple living minimalism. There’s a lot of ground to cover with simple living. It’s why I’m folding in the context of being a self-employed creative, and a spoonie. I think that this niche I’m in is a lot broader and deeper than the plain vanilla minimalism. So many other blogs already have covered.

The Minimalist Thing is Invaluable, Irksome

This is the latest in a series of posts on Simple Living Minimalism. If you enjoy my posts you can buy me a coffee. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.