The eBook is ready.

Check out the page here.

I did do all of the editing by hand, and in the case of the epub format, it was entirely my construction, top to bottom. If it doesn't work or you see a formatting or spelling error, please tell me. In relation to this, the book files may get updated now and again, but if any major changes occur outside of spelling and formatting and HTML, I will post a blog here with an extra note.

To save you a trip to Archive, EPUB, MOBI, HTML, and TXT. Oh, and PDF is there too.

EPUB is a ZIP file so if you want to see those contents it's easy, but I also put a "kindle html" zip file for that source directory as well.

Thanks, to everyone who has read this blog.

Moochimalism; Spending for Less

A Double Feature today.


You own only 15 things. That's cool. How much of that is dependent on relying on others around you?

The classic joke: 57 minimalists walk into a bar. Bartender asks them what they'll have. "Nothing for me," they all say to one another, "I'll just have a sip of yours."

Therefore, I want to add to my "bundle of verbs and adjectives" that minimalism encompasses to include "self sufficient," because there's no nobility in the constant couch surf.

Spending for Less

I want to come up with a new name for The Spending Minimalist. You know, the folk this Bike Snob blog so hilariously skewers.

The person who spends, all for the virtue of minimalism. The person who throws away a dozen shirts just to buy six more. The person who, for their technological minimalism, throws away their existing computers, goes to the Apple store, buys several thousand dollars worth of products, and sighs, satisfied in a new minimalist lifestyle. The person who not only uses a garbage can as their minimalism, but also their wallet.

I'm not going to say that's wrong, or that it's not worth spending a little for a larger benefit. But I do think that it's a drastically different approach than what I've been trying to discuss here. Minimalism in the Linux realm tends to take what we have and tweak it - without having to go to the store and pursue minimalism on the terms of a corporation. We're busy making our existing machines more useful to us through focus and elimination.

But letting our dollars do the minimalism for us? What is really gained from having an apartment that folds apart like origami? It lets you smirk and lower that little number in your head of the items you have or the floor space you take up, but it doesn't seem any more useful.

So one more amendment to the bundle of verbs and adjectives: "utilitarian."

Going to an Apple store might satiate your need for less ugly computers, but it won't always improve usefulness. Unless you are heavily conditioned to the user interface of OSX, I'm hard pressed to think of a reason why that would improve your lifestyle. The actions that you perform on the machine that's what matters. This blog attempts to discussing Minimalism through the GNU/Linux lens, to find compatibility between the two, not to necessarily promote the OS.

Less is more only when it actually helps you live your life more capably.

I understand that I've made this mistake before. I bought a Kindle, thinking I would replace physical books with digital ones. Thankfully I've found uses for the Kindle beyond that (largely email and scholarly in nature) but my folly was thinking that I could buy my way into minimalism by throwing away one thing and replacing it with another. It never works out quite that easily.

Off topic note

In the next few weeks, I will be releasing an eBook version of this website for free. It will essentially be a distillation of the blogs I've written in the past two years, gone over with a fine-toothed comb and polished as well as I can possibly manage. It won't be long, so consider it a "too long; didn't read" edition.

I will be editing the eBooks' markup by hand (because why the heck not) and will put them on for free downloads. If there are any esoteric formats that should be included, send me an email or comment. I may blog about the experience, but so far it's been pretty much HTML, which isn't very exciting.

Social Aspects

I've been resilient to peer pressure. I contrast this when I see bloggers talking about how hard it was to become minimalist, and the many social aspects that come with it. For example, take a look at this mnmlist article. How many of those are external? Social? People created?

I'm not going to pretend that this blog isn't on the social fringe. It's common to make fun of GNU/Linux users as bearded, socially-inept, khaki wearing weirdos (and their OS as a tin can and string, decorated with wooden sticks), as easy as it is to want to criticize a minimalist for their life choices. I've heard both. But I don't seem to be affected by either.

I've lived with minimalism and Linux for so long that it's not even broadcast and yet it still gets communicated. I whip out my LG Flare, the dumbest dumbphone you can possibly imagine, and I wield it with nary a pause. I have gotten questions about it, but I explain that it costs me a grand total of $20 every three months and people understand. My use of the Mac has stifled my love for Linux to be openly communicated, but rest assured it's still there. (Finder does not have a merge function? What?!)

I've come to realize things about myself, the most important of which is that I'm naturally a person. My passions simply seep through the cracks and are communicated naturally. Either I'm respected for it or judged for it, and the latter just doesn't seem to matter. Yes, I have a terrible phone. Your pitying look does not phase me. I have no interest in upgrading to a phone that can do everything and more just because of the social ramifications. I'll upgrade when it's cheap enough and not as convoluted in endless contracts and options.

This is all internal, below conscious level stuff, which is why it's fascinating. I so quickly realize that my external self-expression is largely out of my hands. I dated a new friend and on the first date I popped in an orchestration arrangement of video game music without blinking an eye. In retrospect this may have been a little embarrassing, but at least it set her up to know what she was getting into.

Nothing about my personality is planned. I am not a meticulous craftsman. I'm just aiming for what makes me happy. I think this makes the difference. If you focus on making an outwardly focused persona, and it becomes judged, it's slightly your failure to not create your mask in the correct way. But being yourself is much more healthy, and it's not for the benefit of others. It's just what makes you and me happy to be.

Minimalist Books and Blogs

This is not a "I do it right" blog.

Why are most books on the topic of minimalism so content light?

For example, I picked up an interesting paperback titled "Affluenza" by Oliver James. The book has an interesting thesis, I'll give it that. But much of the book's main topics could have been expressed in a book about a sixteenth of the length.

What the book decides to fill itself with instead is endless examples that fulfill the author's specific point that he has made at the beginning of the chapter. They do not better communicate the initial concept. They repeat it. Additionally, the breadth and depth (not to mention the ever so gripping drama of many of them) makes you wonder how many of them actually exist, and why this book decided to defend its points through endless interviews as if it were personally trying to challenge the notion "the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'" through sheer determination.

This falls back to Dale Carnegie's old reliable, "How To Make Friends and Influence People," which follows the same formula. And it is continuously replicated. Barry Schwartz wrote "The Paradox of Choice," which manages to spin the two-word phrase "try moderation" into a much larger yet narrower treatise that, in my opinion, would have benefited from more broadness.

Maybe this is why I appreciate Zen Habits whenever I get around to reading Leo Babauta's works. I bought his book and I liked it. It was a book of ideas, not people. Many ideas.

I'm wary of minimalism blogs and books now because it's become commercial (which can be ironic to you, or not). Sometimes you can get helpful things from commercial blogs. But too often the content gets blotted out by the secrets tucked away behind a payment of $19.99, and that gets trotted out just a few too many times before the content starts losing its usefulness.

I do want ideas. I do want to be furthered in my minimalism explorations. But it's getting harder every day.

It's been two years since I started this blog.

Quick EDIT: I remembered another point. Want to figure out which blogs are going to try and sell you things? Install Ghostery. See how many advertisements are watching you. If it's over seven, I close the tab. If it's over ten, I run for my dear life. (Blogspot has one, and it runs the comments.)