What Val is doing now

Life updates too intangible for About, but not timely enough for the Blog.

September 2023

Greetings, Now.

I’m writing this post in a dimly-lit workspace, as part of my friend Jackson’s workshop No Typewriters, No Talking. There is certainly neither of either. What there is, though, are some striking video projections. The phrase “Sea of names” also appears regularly. Is this a reference to the debut album from A Perfect Circle? Who’s to say. I mean, Jackson might. But as stated above, no talking.

We are in crunch time at work. I refer to it to some colleagues as ‘goblin mode’. It’s simultaneously stressful — some of the most stressed I’ve ever been (my dissertation-era hypochondria from 2010-11 has returned, hello old friend) — combined with some of the most thrilling, interesting, downright fun stuff I never thought in a million years I’d get to work on.

On balance, of course, I’m still grateful for the opportunities and experiences. I’m going to be a coach of others very soon! How cool is that!! But, man. I could use a break.

Anywho, I’m hoping to get some other self-site stuff done in this short hour I have, so I’m signing off, for now. See you on the other side, September.

End of now stats

Listening to: The hum of a fan, the soft typing of other people on their laptops.
Reading: I finished The Rainforest! It was a slog. Should’ve just read The Geography of Genius again. I’m wondering if I should check out that Walter Isaacson biography of Elon Musk. The Ashlee Vance book from 2016 was pretty good, but John Siracusa’s critique of Isaacson’s Steve Jobs is pretty hard to come back from. I probably will.
Feeling: Upper hemispheric acceptance, lower hemispheric uncertainty.

June 2023

Here’s my first Now post! I’ve been meaning to write one of these for, literally, years. Ever since I saw Owen Williams make one. I love the concept of it, and learning Derek Sivers is behind it is a cool easter egg.

With a wonderful trip to France and Switzerland now firmly behind us, life has returned to a wintery routine back in Melbourne. Unfortunately, the natural alarm clock of jet lag — that sweet spot a week in where you’re not crashing out anymore but still waking up bolt upright before dawn — has faded away too. But no matter, the external shock of travel has broken my previous bad habits of late nights and late mornings. At least until there’s another Canva Create to work on.

Speaking of work, things are going quite well. I received feedback on my last half year of output, and the biggest callout was that I should invest more time in doing documentation. This is an area I’ve always struggled in, going right back to middle school when my Coca Cola-addicted technology teacher Mr Boot (yes really) said I found journaling “tedious”. Why a technology class required all its attendees to do journaling, I don’t know, though I do recall him monologuing about how a pencil is itself a piece of technology. I think he wanted all us 12 year olds to find that a profound insight. Frankly all we wanted to do was play the first Half Life.

Anyway. This overhaul of my personal website is an extension of this newfound push into documenting things more consistently, so here I go.

But while I’m pushing into documenting things more on my own web domain, I’m biting the bullet and shuttering my current crop of nascent side hustles. The rest of this paragraph pays tribute to them. Goodbye, Writehacks. You were a good idea that was completely supplanted by ChatGPT, which eliminated the need to learn few-shot prompts in the OpenAI playground. To have succeeded you’d have needed to be a daily AI newsletter like Ben’s Bites, or I would have had to become a Twitter threadboi where I had ‘The AI Guy’ in my bio (a fate worse than death). See you later, Valcontent. Your words live on in my Blog. I’m also keeping your web domain in case I ever start a freelance content design business. You both join the graveyard of failure, in the same plot row as my humanities-in-tech blog (The Humanitist) and many, many, many others.

Congratulations ButteryChardonnays, you are the last one standing (for now), but let’s reassess when the annual SquareSpace bill rolls around. My recent visits to Bordeaux and Champagne have widened my wine appetite dramatically, so it’s not looking good.

Honestly, taking all these half-executed ideas out into a field and putting them out of their misery has been wonderfully freeing. I’m no longer racked with guilt at not spending my off-hours working on them. No longer haunted by ideas of what they could be, but unwilling to put in the effort to have these visions realised. And that’s OK! On a recent episode of one of my favourite podcasts, Sharp Tech, co-host Ben nailed it when he talked about how the key attribute to a successful creator career on the Internet was consistency. I do not have the required consistency. It feels like middle school journalling, which is to say, terribly tedious.

Still, one thing that gives me hope is that each time one of these side hustles comes around, they get closer and closer to actually becoming a worthwhile thing. Writehacks was getting real traffic and had real people on the mailing list! At this rate, I’ll strike digital gold in 2033. Can’t wait 🙄

End of now stats

Listening to: The sound of one of my cats, Daughter, snoring on her new Kmart blanket (it’s a cold Melbourne winter day)
Reading: Slowly making my way through The Rainforest . Innovation policy as written by a couple of business school stalwarts is not a page turner. The Geography of Genius is a much better approach to the same idea.
Feeling: A certain kind of peace.