Thanks for checking in. No, I didn’t fall into a coma or go to jail. I especially didn’t spend the last 18 months jerking off and watching reruns of The Sopranos. I don’t even have HBO!
So why no posts?
The simple answer is that I lost all enthusiasm to write or share stuff in public. I’m not entirely sure why, but a few best guesses:
- The book was finished, and out in the world. It was a lot of work, and I’d said what I wanted to say.
- I got sick of the sound of my own voice. There’s way too much content in the world already. Most people should shut the fuck up; probably that includes me.
- I felt pressure to write things that blog subscribers and book readers would enjoy, rather than follow my own interests.
My initial impulse was to delete the blog, de-list the book, and generally disappear quietly into the ether. Then, after sleeping on it a while, I figured I could just mothball Deep Dish, and start a new, pseudonymous blog elsewhere with no audience, zero expectations, and a clean slate.
…finally, I decided to stop being a drama queen and start posting again right here, unabashedly rejoining my fellow mentally disturbed people who insist upon Having Opinions in public.
who the fuck is scraeming “LOG OFF” at my house. show yourself, coward. i will never log off
— wint (@dril) September 16, 2012
So that’s what I’m gonna do (with a few small changes).
No More Mister Relatable Content
My highly-advanced productivity strategy involves jumping on whatever happens to catch my interest at any given point in time, rather than forcing myself to do things which are not intrinsically motivating. This has worked out surprisingly great, but is not without its downsides, e.g., you occasionally fall off the grid at the exact moment you ought to be marketing the book you just spent several years of your life working on.
I re-read Optionality this week (I’m making a few final tweaks to go with a new cover design) and damn, it’s actually pretty good. I’m proud of it. You should totally buy a copy!
The book is designed to have broad appeal: getting more money, opening up better choices in life, ‘life hacks’, and so on. Same with most of the stuff I’ve written about here on the blog. I’m still sitting on a bunch more material and drafts in that vein, but the truth is I’m finding it hard to get excited about. It seems like it’s best to write about things while you’re in the process of figuring them out, because they start to feel stale by the time you’re looking back in hindsight.
In short, my interests have diverged somewhat from previous blog material.
On the assumption that something is better than nothing, I’m hereby giving myself permission to write about whatever random crapola I want, even if only three of you read it. I also want to knock out posts with less effort than before, which means they won’t be as polished, fewer pretty pictures, maybe some spicier takes.
Most of you did not sign up for this. Liberate yourself from yet another newsletter cluttering up your inbox! There should be a link to unsubscribe in any email I send you.
More happily: what to write about now?
Current Areas of Interest
The main life update is that I permanently moved back to New Zealand, bought a house, and said goodbye to the nomad life. On the work front, I’ve been building up a better understanding of crypto, selling options contracts, learning the associated tools of risk management, a bit of statistics, and very basic programming. I’m also playing a lot of tennis, reading a lot of fiction, especially short stories (hit me with recs), and organising the Auckland chapter of the Effective Altruism community.
So some of that will probably come through in future posts, along with the following:
- Crypto/web3. Now that it’s totally shat the bed, I feel like we have a nice quiet year or two to look at the industry dispassionately. I’ve gone pretty deep down the rabbithole, and want to write a series of posts looking at it through the lens of optionality, the Matthew effect, social contagion, finance hackery, public goods, etc.
- Random lifestyle research, e.g. ‘here’s an infodump on this little-known amino acid I spent 10 hours looking into’
- Higher-level investing concepts, e.g. finding genuine sources of edge, risk management, volatility drag, position sizing
- Book reviews and recommendations
- Possibly some short fiction
What I Want From You
It’s still fine—encouraged, even—to suggest topics you’re interested in. I just make no promises to act on them.
Similarly, I hereby renounce my longstanding promise to reply to every email, since I was terrible at keeping it (I think my ‘record’ was an 18-month delay, which, for context, is longer than it took to send a letter around the world in the 1800s). I still read and appreciate every message. If yours went unanswered during the long hiatus, I apologise. Feel free to hassle me again, especially if you had a specific request.
I’m very keen to meet more people, but this time round, the focus is on real-life relationships and community. If you’re in Auckland and want to get a coffee, are looking for a hitting partner (NTRP 3.5 on a good day), or want to learn more about the EA community, please slide into my inbox.
Got a random question? I’ll hang around in the comments for a while and answer in real time, or at the very least, on a timescale shorter than 18 months. Otherwise: first non-meta blog post coming in a week or so.
Good to see you’re back!
What resources have you found most useful for getting into deliberate tennis practice?
Thanks! At first, my strategy was to watch YouTube videos breaking down the relevant stroke (Intuitive Tennis is great), film myself, compare the footage to the exemplar, pick one element to work on, rinse and repeat. I put in a lot of hours on the wall + serving a hopper of balls.
That worked pretty good, but I’ve taken a couple of lessons lately and the coach’s suggestions and feedback in real time were waaaaay more insightful than anything I could figure out—they could have saved me a ton of time and effort. So now I think the ideal approach is to get a lesson, do several bouts of deliberate practice, then go back to the coach for more feedback.
Other things that have been great: reading up on tennis ‘IQ’ and strategy, watching lots of professional games, playing matches at every opportunity.
It’s been so long that I’ve forgotten what username I used to comment under.
But it’s good to read your shiznat once again.
I will email eventually.
A Jack Innit by any other name would smell as sweet. Good to hear from you man!
Nice to have you back on your blog Richard. I’d love to hear some spicy takes that are NZ specific. Like the housing market psychology, vested interests and inertia. Or state of democracy and how it works out in practice (is it all it’s cracked up to be). Or what surprises you about NZers after being an international nomad. Or what is productive investment and how do we get some.
Thanks Jimmy. The readership here is something like 80% international, so I haven’t gone that route. But I do have some spicy opinions! Will keep that in mind.
Richard, I’m so glad that you are back, looking forward reading more of your upcuming stuff. Fan from Europe
Thanks Moo 🙂
Happy to see you’re back! I work in crypto & speak at conferences like EthCC and Devcon, would love to chat crypto (especially the deep end of stuff) if you want to!
Thanks Norswap. Yeah, that’d be great! Working on a post right now that lays out my central arguments, I’ll be curious to see what you think.
That sounds great, feel free to reach to @norswap on Twitter or Telegram!
Rich, happy to read you again, and thanks for getting back by email. Burnout is real, direct marketing leads to passion burnout I was definitely a victim of this with my 2D shaders books.
I’m excited about the stuff you have to say about crypto, I actually started working on a project to build a 2D client for Decentraland, an open source metaverse. I believe that now more than ever our efforts have to go into open source technology, or Meta will eat us all, this is a whole new scale than Microsoft in the 90s.
Glad to hear you are back in NZ. I can’t wait to go back there, will make sure to ping you when I do so.
An ideal job perfectly matches up with our strengths and idiosyncrasies. I don’t have a good sense of that for myself, but I know for sure what my nightmare job would be: direct sales and marketing!
Very cool re: Decentraland. I have some thoughts here, and specifically on the role that Meta plays, so it will be great to get your opinion when I get around to writing about it.
Please do! Will reply your email separately.
Loving the honesty here Rich, seems like you have been, and are continuing to be true to yourself. We have to do that I think otherwise what would be the point of any of it?
Thanks Paul. Absolutely. I’m stoked that everyone replying seems to be on board with it.
I didn’t notice your absence but then I’m overdosing on daily information, how sad is that?
Not noticing my absence is fine and normal. I know what you mean on info overdosing though…feeling much better after doing some spring-cleaning on newsletters and email promos.
Good to hear your “voice.” Looking forward to the new phase of the blog. Also, lets us know when the new cover and revisions are done on the book.
Hey Anthony, will do. Shouldn’t be far off now.
figured it was something like this
Power to you!
Hi man – good to see something from you. Whatever you’re writing about, I love your stuff, the book for my definitely made it onto my own list of “quake books”! Look forward to whatever you’re putting out!
Thanks Zach. high praise indeed. Appreciate the kind words.
Oh, I love it too. So a few months ago I have built a website 5 min story (https://5minstory.art/) where you can read random 99 short stories. Or you can sign up for an automatic weekly newsletter with a new short story.
Great idea! Bookmarked. (It’s loading pretty slowly for me just FYI, I almost clicked out.)
Yeah, sorry for that. Right now it is located on the free hosting with all free tools. I hope, I will find some time and refactor the code to make it faster
Good to see you’re alive and well so I’m ordering the book now!
P.S.: Are you still off the pizzas?
I’m doing an experiment with keto at the moment so pizza has been off the menu (except the cauliflower-crusted variant, which hardly qualifies)
Funny timing, I just checked the site the other day to see if I’d somehow missed a bunch of post notifications! Looking forward to see what comes next!
Nice one. Thanks Marian 🙂
I admit to wondering if you were dead. Congratulations on being alive. Crypto and risk management – an amusing combination. Stay living!
Hard to have one without the other…or at least, not for long!
Thanks Dan, appreciate it.
Very glad to hear this and looking forward to whatever is coming next.
Welcome back, I also had been wondering what became of you. I would love to see more case studies, practices, and tactics for increasing optionality. Consider diving down the rabbit hole of applied systems thinking as well. Your book was great, thanks for getting it out there.
Thanks Gabe. I’m sure the optionality theme will continue to run through everything. I’m actually reading some interesting stuff about complex systems at the moment—will try to keep blog treatment in mind, although a lot of it is either abstract or not super applicable to daily life.
You might be interested in my hobby of collecting heuristics related to system building if you are leaning into the abstractions. . .
Check out heuristics about learning
Or heuristics about “messes”
What in particular draws your interest in Web3/crypto? DEFI, NFTs, DAOS?
I find it a battle to shift out the reality from the hype and narrative. Sometimes I think’s it’s only the hardcore coders who know what’s going on, but then again even they can’t be expected to divine all the political/economic/cultural implications that the technology may provoke. Personally, I find that just using blockchain-native applications gives me the strongest sense that there is some genuine value in the space. It’ll be interesting to hear your takes.
Mostly from a sort of detached anthropological perspective—there are all sorts of fascinating social dynamics at play, and everything that happens in crypto-land is absurd in a way that I find highly entertaining.
(For example, as a finance geek it was amazing being able to watch a parallel financial world be built out in real-time, including repeating the same mistakes as tradfi, but also creating all sorts of genuinely interesting innovations).
In terms of where I actually see value, I’ll leave that for a separate post—I think I’ll do an overview post to call my shots, and then try to drill down on each in turn when I get a chance.
Welcome back ! For short stories the Shell Collectors from Anthony Doerr also gets a thumbs up from me. Also try Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett and anything by George Saunders and Alice Munroe. From NZ publishers try Huia Short Stories 14, Purakau & A Clear Dawn New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealanders. Happy reading cheers Anna
Nice one thanks Anna. Have just pre-ordered the new edition of Ship Fever, it sounds great. Got Alice Munro on the bookshelf, and love George Saunders.
Really glad to hear you’re still alive!
Was reading your book last year and wondered what happened to you. I recently went through a similar pivot with my newsletter.
Looking forward to whatever you’ll write about next.
Welcome back! As a fellow Kiwi overseas would love to hear more about your decision to settle down/move home, and how you’ve found it so far, if you ever feel like writing on the topic.
Cheers CW. The cliff notes are in a comment below but I’ll definitely think about fleshing it out into a post.
Just found this blog a month ago and was wondering why posts didn’t come anymore…seems like I nailed the perfect time to find it though!
Actually you have the causality backwards: when I saw you sign up, that was the catalyst that spurred me back into action.
I truly thought you were dead. Praise the lord and pass the wine you are not. I will once again look forward to learning stuff I would not normally ever know! Loved the book btw.
Cheers Adele. Pass some of that wine over this way!
Thank goodness for that. I was getting worried but didn’t want to intrude or seem demanding, selfishly wanting you to reapply yourself, just for my benefit. Having said that, there is nothing like writing to sort through the weaknesses in our thinking. Writing for us is also writing to improve the quality of your thinking.
I’m looking forward to testing my hypothesis that anything you write about will be interesting.
Kim has also fallen in love with tennis. Tennis lessons are a great investment.
Hey Paul I was just thinking about you—will send you an email separately.
I appreciate your faith in me, but I guess I’m aiming to violate your hypothesis, i.e. to write some niche posts that are objectively boring, and then notice that the world keeps turning just the same. Let’s see!
First of all, glad you’re not dead! Secondly, you “bought a house, and said goodbye to the nomad life”. Congratulations, but what inspired the big lifestyle change? Did something happen in Mexico City?
Yes … welcome back! Glad to see the alert in my inbox … but want to know more about the lifestyle change and why you made the choice as well.
Hi Nathan (and Matt). It was a confluence of factors: the overhead of a long-distance relationship, being closer to family (I had a nephew to meet), lockdown fatigue, but most of all, wanting a permanent location/physical stuff/deep-rooted community. Nomading was great and opened up lots of opportunities for me, but it was definitely time to switch from ‘explore’ into ‘exploit’, at least on that particular front.
edit: I’ll maybe say more in a post at some point, but that’s the cliff notes version.
Welcome back! all those post ideas sound great – exactly what drew me to your stuff in the first place. I hope this doesn’t come off wrong but I’m kinda getting Tim Ferris-y vibes from your trajectory you’ve outlined here (where you started, where you’re going… who could have predicted that the drop ship guru would be the psychedelics guy a decade later?). Fully support the concept of pursuing whatever calls to you in the moment, and also fully believe it’s A-OK to quit things without notice. I’ve never been able to get excited about crypto or any other finance topic so if you manage to light it up, I’m here for it. Also very enthused about random health-oriented deep dives, risk management practice, and book reviews. Now for you: short story collections worth reading (all fiction) include Exhalation by Ted Chiang (sci-fi but in a human way), The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr (beautiful and evocative stories of humans – please review if you read it!!!), The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories by Mark Twain (for wit, humor, cynicism).
Thanks Jackie. I appreciate the support, and more importantly, the book recs! Love Ted Chiang, so that bodes well for your other picks—I’ve just ordered both, very much looking forward to checking them out.
Impeccable timing. Last week while out of commission recovering from covid I went down a rabbit trail of spinning up a blog of my own. I thought back on blogs I’ve actually enjoyed, it pointed me back to yours, and I realized it had been a bit.
Happy to hear you’re back, and especially love the freedom and permission you’ve outlined for writing whatever strikes your fancy.
I wrote out a charter for myself as guardrails to get my blog scoped and launched – one of my points is if 1 person is positively impacted by at least 1 post (that 1 person can be me), the blog is thriving.
I’m sure I’ll be revisiting some old posts and look forward to some of the new content too.
Cheers to authentic interest and instead of imposed interest! 🙂
Love this. All the best with the blog, it sounds like you’re starting out with the best possible framework for actually making it sustainable.
Welcome back! I enjoyed reading your previous posts (and sent students of a money management course I taught your way too) but life has been so busy in the last year or two that I hope I can say “I haven’t really noticed your lack of recent emails” without causing offense 🙂 However, I am looking forward to seeing what you send our way now. Like others have said, I may opt not to read the odd topic, but in general I like reading posts by someone who writes well and introduces me to topics/viewpoints that I may not have read/cared about otherwise.
Thanks Mel. It’s extremely liberating to remember that the vast majority of people who read this website are not paying especially close attention, or hanging on every last word. Tuning in and out as interest dictates is ideal.
Buying a house has low optionality, at least comparing to renting etc. 🙂 How did you come to that decison and how are you finding it?
Great question. It was partly the crappy investment landscape: no asset class looked attractive, inflation was looming, and I didn’t have any real estate, so it was a defensive play. I don’t expect the house to make money, but I’ll be happy if it at least acts as a store of value over 10 years or so.
On a strict optionality basis, renting is waaaay better than home ownership. The forces of entropy are even stronger than I anticipated, which means a lot of time and money is wasted just to keep things standing still. The upside is of course the ability to have everything set up just the way I want it, which is definitely a great feeling, especially when considering pets, having a family, and so on. I think this tips the balance for me, although there are lots of scenarios in which I would rent instead.
I’m very curious to hear more about how renting has good optionality.
Wow, a ranking system for tennis skills… something I never knew I needed. I reckon I could stretch to 3.5 on a good day too, and with a bit of practice. Welcome back to the public sphere.
Instead of enjoying a hobby for the sheer fun of it, why not turn it into a competitive meatgrinder of formal hierarchies?
(I actually don’t know my ranking and am happy to play up or down, but ‘beginner/intermediate’ isn’t quite granular enough).
We lost another one to crypto…
I love your succinct nature combined with a flexible and humble approach to expressing your views despite a probable dense stack of achievements. I’m focusing on stfu this year and to simply connect. Sharing while riding the dopamine waves I think offers huge potentiality to collaborate and expand on fresh ideas as we go! Big fan. I will make time for your book later this year and am looking forward to learning a bunch including basic punctuation, lmao.
Much love – Mitch, Auckland
Thanks Mitch. I’m still working on the punctuation too. Hope you enjoy the book!
Ah Rich, welcome to the other side of the blogger vortex which most people don’t survive and stop blogging. Since I’ve been pissing away words at mine for over 15 years I here by offer the follow suggestions. 1) Write what ever the fuck you want…it’s your blog feel free to change direction or shift gears (more than once if required). 2) A blog is a dictatorship not a democracy. Your readers can suggestion things but they don’t vote (unless you ask them to). 3) Feel free to change your mind and even contradict yourself or even repeat yourself if you want in your posts (see point #2). 4)Timelines only work if you want them to…I’m still sitting on the data for a net worth post from the end of June but I’ll get it done at some point over the summer.
So in short…do what you want. We will either like the new content or not therefore either keep reading or not (for example, I’ll likely skip the crypto posts but check out the other ones). The choice is ours but please just write whatever makes you happy. Good luck.
As to shit I would love to see you write on…how is the in-person relationship building going? Do you find it easier to relate to people now that you are less nomadic? What brought you back to the blog after all this time?
Wow, 15 years is great longevity for a blog. Great suggestions, thanks Tim.
Slowly. The selection filter in a generic big city is much less fine-grained compared to what I’m used to. To be fair, I haven’t put all that much effort in yet…will report back if I learn anything interesting in the process.
Basically all the reasons I mentioned in this post. Blogging has historically been a good forcing function for being alert to new ideas, crystallising my thinking, practicing writing, and meeting new people. All of which I want to get back on top of!
LOL ! I decided to re read Optionality this morning and hours later I receive your newsletter in my inbox.
Glad to read you again !
One of your reader from Niger, West Africa
Hi Issaka, nice to hear from you, and with such auspicious timing too. Hope you enjoy the re-read!
Hi Richard, i’m glad you are not dead haha. I really enjoyed the book, pretty much agree with all of it. Looking forward to read new articles, specially curious about the short fiction. Greetings from Argentina!!
Hi Marcus, I’m glad too. gracias por las palabras amables!
Short story recs – if you like magic realism check out Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
Love Borges. Definitely due for a reread, thanks Tara.
Be good to have you back again. Look forward to seeing what you have to say next 🙂
Thanks Paula. It’s good to be back 😎
I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve been checking you’re blog periodically and hoping you were ok. Looking forward to reading whatever you serve up!
Thanks Matthew, much appreciated!
Happy to have you back. Your book is great and has been really helpful in my life. Looking forward to your random thoughts.
Thanks Mike, glad to hear the book’s been useful.
Your perspective is your secret sauce. Write whatever you like. Loved the book.