Want a good gun lock? Try this (some assembly required).
I’m not natively a “New Year’s resolution” person—but as a freelancer, I live and die by forming and keeping good habits. Over the years of not starving to death or losing our home, I’ve learned a few shortcuts to faking a disciplined life. Principal among these:
Do LESS to Earn MORE, Eat MORE to Weigh LESS—a quick-n-easy “happiness hack”
This principal principle is super-duper useful for addressing the two most popular New Year’s resolutions:
- do/earn more (e.g., start this side hustle, take up that hobby, hit the gym, etc.)
- lose weight
New Year’s Resolution #1: Do LESS to do MORE
Stop making “to do” lists; instead make a “Stop Doing” list.
For New Year’s Resolution Type #1 (which require doing more with the same number of free hours that already feel over-packed), the usual approach is to try to cram in one more thing.
That is obviously destined for failure. You aren’t going to suddenly have more free hours or more energy just because you added one more item to your calendar.
Instead sit down for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, in complete silence. This is vital, and insanely hard. For real, lock yourself in the bathroom or sit in your car in the grocery store parking lot or go to the laundry room—whatever it takes to get a solid 10 minutes without distraction.
Take a hard look at what you do on the daily—especially what you do with your phone in your hand—and ask yourself if you really love doing that stuff, or if it is vital to you earning a living.
Now write a quick “Stop Doing” List. This is a bulleted list of things that just really aren’t worth your time or attention. Just an example, if I glance at YouTube, I end up loosing an easy 20 minutes watching video compilations of old Vines or “Wins/Fails.” I don’t even really like those videos; I’m just stressed out, so I glance at YouTube, and YouTube knows what I watch, and there’s a whole endless scrolling list of distractions and . . . and I don’t enjoy it, it’s no good for my family or my business or my bank account. There’s no point to it. It is time squandered.
So, Funny Fails are on my “Stop Doing” List. So are:
- Reading news items about celebrities who cannot call in air strikes
- Looking at Google News and just reading headline after headline after headline without clicking
- Facebook in general
- Looking at my Roth IRA more than quarterly
- Finishing a book/movie that I’m not eager to finish
- Looking at email on Saturday (I’m a freelance writer, not a doctor or cancer researcher—no one lives or dies because I made them wait until business hours)
- Fundraising at my kids’ schools (I know that’s controversial, but I’ve get mental health issues that make those sorts of social things literally insanely stressful for me; I earn enough to happily donate double what the PTO suggests if it means skipping shilling gift wrap or popcorn or whatever)
If your resolution is to work in a 20 minute walk every day, trust me, you can find those 20 minutes easily just by cutting out two or three phone-based distractions alone.
New Year’s Resolution #2: Eat MORE to weigh LESS
Don’t cut back on Bad Stuff™; load up on Good Stuff™.
When it comes to things we like but are bad for us (cheap pizza, salty snacks, pricey coffees, etc.), the usual advice is to cut back. We resent this for a variety of deeply ingrained psychological reasons (from loss aversion to just plain perversity).
So don’t cut back; load up on Good Stuff instead:
Need to lose weight? Don’t say “I have to cut out cookies” or “I have to cut calories.”
Instead, say “I have to eat a ton of fruit.”
Any damned fruit you like—sweet n’ juicy berries, melons, bananas, grapes, carrots (veg is fine, too).
But, two important things:
- Not fruit juice! Those juices are as sugary as soda pop. You need the fiber of the fruit for this to work (plus, whole fresh fruit is cheaper).
- No human EVER got fat gobbling apples, and no pre-diabetic EVER insulin crashed on baby carrots. Every time I mention this strategy, someone warns me about how much sugar is in fruit—which is true—but it doesn’t hit your bloodstream (and pancreas and belly) like refined sugar, because of all of the fiber in the raw whole plant matter. Your body has to work to process it. If you eat real whole fruit and veg you can gorge yourself and be fine.
Buy your chosen fruit or veg by the sackful. Take some with you every time you leave the house. Pack it with every lunch. Every time you’re hungry, start with whatever your chosen fruit/veg is. Have it first thing in the morning, have it last thing for desert.
Sick of your chosen fruit/veg? That’s fine; just means it wasn’t the right one. Pick a different one. Keep trying. There is a fruit or veg out there that you will never, ever get sick of having fresh and whole. That is your special fruit; cherish it.
I am a middle-aged White(ish) American man with a sedentary job. I don’t go to the gym (I do walk a lot, because I like walking and I have a dog). I drink alcohol daily. I drink a ton of coffee. I used to smoke.
My body should be a damned wreck. But I pack away five apples per day, minimum, and am subsequently in good health. ’cause you know what? If you have three apples before lunch, you don’t feel like stuffing your face. And if you’re full of apples and then a bowl of chili (or whatever), you don’t feel bloated and logy. You feel like going for a damn walk.
And you lose weight.
This is one of those bone-simple virtuous circles. Just ride it ’round and ’round and ’round: Do LESS, earn MORE; Eat MORE, weigh LESS.
Had a blast at the Toledo Mini Maker Faire this past weekend; met tons of great folks—many of whom will be swinging by this space looking for the following links:
- Wanna download free sample music projects from my books? Go here: davideriknelson.com/makenoise
- Wanna buy an autographed copy of one of my DIY books? Go here: autographed books
- Wanna buy through Amazon? Go here: David Erik Nelson on Amazon
- Wanna see more of my fiction? Go here: davideriknelson.com/FreeFiction
Thanks! Don’t stop the rocking, Toledo!
The Imagination Station in Toledo (where I was helping folks find the Good Noise™ all last December) is hosting their very own Mini Maker Faire this September. Great folks down there, and a great location along the river. I’ll be there all day with the Loud Lab (amplified Slinkies, simple DIY synths, electric diddley bows. and more)—so mark your calendar. And, if you’re a maker sorta a person, consider applying and showing off what you do (the application deadline is fast approaching).
See you in September!
I love hearing from folks who read my DIY books, because they are always up to something that I never imagined, and yet love on first sight. Case in point:
Last December I got an email from Hamish Trolove, a Junkyard Jam Band reader who mentioned he was building his own riff on a Shane Speal 2×4 lap steel with a build-in Mud-n-Sizzle pre-amp (project 12 in Junkyard Jam Band) and dual LFO box (translation: It’s a junkyard lap steel electric guitar with a built in pre-amp—so things might get loud—and an automated modulator, allowing him to dial in anything from a little honky-tonk tremelo shimmer to a big pulsing metal wobble).
As Hamish explained:
The instrument uses waste cargo palette wood, and TIG welding wire to mark the “fret” spacings. I find that old palettes often have extraordinarily hard wood with some amazing colours when planed down, sanded and varnished. Hopefully by the end of the project I’ll have something that looks fairly tidy-ish in a hobo/steampunky kind of way.
“Fairly tidy-ish” is such an understantement. Check this thing out:
Oh daaaaaaamn! I love everything about this! He also included a schematic of his expansion of my old Universal LFO (Junkyard Jam Band project 13), for folks interested in doing something similar:
Hamish also put me on to Frescobaldi, a powerful, pretty, and free sheet music text editor that looks amazing. (For every 100 of you who are wondering why you’d ever need such a thing, there is one musical geek who is gonna click that link and weep with joy. Trust me, for I have been that very geek.)
Incidentally, while you’re clicking links, don’t miss Hamish’s Baddest Mountain Dulcimer Ever.
In just a few hours the Makerspace Humble Book Bundle closes.
- SHORT VERSION: pay what you want, support excellent charities, get up to 21 awesome DIY/maker books from No Starch Press (including both my musical instruments book and hella-rad geeky craft projects book).
- LONG VERSION: Here’s my spiel from before.
Get good books, support good work; it’s an easy win-win.
… while supporting Art, Free Speech, and other Good Things™
(Need details? Here’s my spiel from a week ago.)
The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal! Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band). Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture. All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities.
There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).
Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets. When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.
Almost every Saturday in December I’ll be down at the Toledo, Ohio Imagination Station Hands-On Museum as their “guest tinkering artist,” showing folks how to find the Good Noise.
We LOVE making noise and science! So why not join us and make your own noisemaker? Every Saturday in December with our guest artist David Erik Nelson! https://t.co/ZKofZ6S2pkpic.twitter.com/qOlkUdxezn
— Imagination Station (@ISTscience) December 4, 2017
Lots of other cool stuff going on there (Dinosaurs! Star Wars! You can ride a crazy tight-rope bike!!!)—plus, I’ve built a little “Slinky Sound Forest” for you to explore, any day of the week, all December long
My schedule in Toledo is something like this:
- Saturday, December 9: Diddley bows, acoustic and electric
- Saturday, December 16: Simple synthesizers
- Saturday, December 30: New Year’s noisemakers (free make-n-take!)
I’ll also happily show folks how to make quick-n-easy didgeridoos, elephant trumpets, and “two-handed” double-reed quacker bagpipes, and give them a tour of the Slinky Sound Forest, on any of those days.
I found this image in a note on my computer labelled “The Devil’s Craft Project: Go Superdog, GO!“
I don’t know where I found it. I don’t know why I saved it. I don’t know what I intended to do with it.
But … just … man, right? The past is hella fucked up at every turn.