The philosophy of being off the grid, or the grid itself is a fascinating one. First, the grid is just a metaphor. The grid, essentially imagine like a geometric box, cubes, shapes etc. For example grid gridlock traffic, traffic is a grid, one of the great upsides of walking is that it is multi directional; you could decide to walk on the sidewalk, Walk close to the curb, walk in the bike lane, enter stores etc. Funny; nobody really talks about how awesome it is to walk, the upsides of walking, the idea that when you’re walking you could be on the directional; once can you weave around the sidewalk, go up and down the curb, different elevations and directions, and also turn around whenever you want. The problem with the car is that you are stuck in a singular plane; you can only drive forward, stay in the lane, turn when you’re told to turn etc.

Therefore, the first ideas this: to walk, walking is at least 1 billion times superior to driving, doesn’t matter if you have a Ferrari or a Lamborghini or whatever, etc.

The second thought, it looks like having a membership, a gym membership, any sort of membership is bad. Why? I believe perhaps the issue at hand is that you are still confined to a box, a cube, another form of metaphorical grid. For example, the day I toured an equinox, and I was curious, and honestly, it is very overrated. Only thing they really have going for them is that they have hammer strength squat racks and power wigs, but you could find that at any golds gym or even crunch fitness. For the plates, iron grip is the best, but beyond that… The barbell sucked. It is cool to see that they have some trap bars, but don’t people know, you could buy your own barbell which quality is at at least 1 trillion times better?

For example, equinox uses iron grip barbell; it feels like cotton candy, so cheap. My Texas power squat bar feels at least 1 billion times superior in terms of overall quality. 

Off the grid thinking

I don’t know if I am different or exceptional or perhaps I am more similar than dissimilar to other people, but at least for myself I’ve discovered, I am insanely extremely easily distracted.

 For example, the only time where and when I could really think is when I am in airplane mode. That is, when I’m just walking out and about on my iPad, iPad Pro without an Internet Wi-Fi connection. This is also why really really long international flights are good for thinking, because when you are devoid of an Internet connection and distractions, it is finally a good opportunity to start to think.

In fact, one of the ex founders of the company I used to work for, demand media, which later was rebranded into the “leaf” group, Byron Reese, he actually told me when I was 21 years old that one of his passions was riding, and he would actually intentionally go on really really really long international flights without Wi-Fi connection in order to get good writing done. I think it is true; it is funny because in today’s world, a lot of these flights now have Wi-Fi, but still the good thing is that in mostly sucks. Therefore my suggestion is simple; even if you have option, don’t use Wi-Fi on a plane, doesn’t matter whether domestic or international. In fact, the privilege of being able to go on a long international flight or domestic flight is via negative Idea that you cannot be connected to the Internet.

Once again, the new privilege is being disconnected, to be without an Internet connection etc. 

My formative years of thinking

Around 2017 I consider the peak of my philosophical goal thinking and inquiry. Why?  First, from the period of around 2016 to 2017 to a little bit of 2018, Cindy and I were pretty much off the grid. I got rid of my phone, turned off my phone number and phone plan, and when we are living in Vietnam, we were just either Renting a tiny studio apartment, in Hanoi for only $320 USD a month, all gas electricity plumbing water and gigabit Internet included, totally brand new apartment built from the bottom up, brand new furnishings, uploading, even this infrared heater thing in the bathroom, all furniture included. And we will just eat out every single day, even all you can eat Korean BBQ for one person was maybe around seven dollars USD, And an espresso at my favorite local coffee shops in Hanoi or maybe around 10,000 Vietnamese dong, around 22,000 Vietnamese dong is worth one dollar, so essentially a cup of coffee or espresso is less than $.50. 

Also, when we were just living in Saigon in one of the hotels there, maybe paying $20 USD a night, for a really nice hotel, across the park, Le Van Tam park, and our life was insanely simple; we would wake up, Cindy would have some breakfast upstairs, I would get some eggs, to store for later, we will just grab a Uber or grab taxi to the archives for Cindy, she would do her research, I would just plug myself inside a coffee shop and do some reading writing research and thinking, we would reconnaissance later , have an early dinner at the mall at around four to five p.m. , chill and hang out , talk , go back to our hotel , maybe around eight p.m. , and just go to sleep.

The reason why this was such an interesting life workflow was that when you’re living in a hotel, you literally cannot buy anything or accumulate anything. First of all, there is literally nowhere to put it, our hotel room was tiny. It just fit a bed,  a single bed that both Cindy and I slept on, maybe it was a full-size mattress or a small queen, a tiny dresser where Cindy could do make up or I could have my evening “eggs snack”, eating around 6 to 8 hard boiled eggs as a post dinner supplement, and literally no storage, we would just wash our clothes in the shower every single day and hang dry it, life was very very straightforward.

Now back in the states, life becomes a little bit weird. One of the big problems about life in America is that there is too much stuff, too many possessions, too many opportunities to purchase things. As a consequence our storage units, our lockers, our Garages, closets, end up filling with so much stuff.

For example, I am probably the most minimalistic person that I know, and still… I have an own so much shit! I have random clothes from maybe 5 to 7 years ago that I still got in Costco Kirkland trash bags, randomly toss haphazardly in the closet, summit our new apartment at some in storage at Cindy‘s mom‘s house, and also all this old camera equipment and other stuff in random bags.

What is the big issue here? 

The biggest issue of living in America is there are too many distractions. I include distractions like TV, movies, shows, things to buy, it looks like in LA, the reason why everyone is so broke is that they either squander their money on cars, Eating out, alcohol, clothing and fashion, find overpriced to make up at Sephora, silly gym memberships at equinox, I think an equinox gym membership is maybe close to $400 USD a month? As a consequence, people are living paycheck to paycheck, or even worse; racking up their credit card bills.

How do you become less broke?

Simple ideas include paying everything in all cash, because you better have a sense of your spending habits, when you got physical paper cash money, it seems more real, and also you feel more pain when actually buying stuff. For example can you imagine going to the local ATM where the bank, withdrawing $1000 USD of hundred dollar bills or $20 bills or $50 bills, I’m going to the Apple Store and paying for an iPhone in all cash? Probably not. But if you put on your credit card, you don’t really think about it twice.

Debit cards?

There are certain things that I think in two days world, you cannot even purchase it with cash even if you wanted to. I think this includes airline fares, flights. And I’m also sure with Airbnb, Uber, other transit related things, you gotta use some sort of visa credit card or debit card.

At least the good thing about using a debit card is that with debit cards, you’re technically using money that you already got. I feel that credit cards are such fucking scam – they tempt you with all these “rewards, “cashback“, but the reason why it is a scam is that ultimately, the “cashback” you get from these purchases are nominal, and I wonder if in the long-term it actually nudges you into spending more money, more money on things, which equals a net negative for you. 

So why does this all matter? 

Well, I think the reason why it matters is because ultimately, everyone strives for happiness, and I think people believe that the secret to happiness is rooted in money. But, this is not true. Money is simply a tool, tool to get people to do stuff for you.

For example, where is Tru wealth created? Through constructing, building stuff. For example, ultimately you need labor, skilled labor, or unskilled labor in order to build stuff. This includes buildings, architecture, museums, roads and infrastructure, etc.

For example, look at all these insanely epic new buildings being built, for example the new Lacma, bankrolled by David Geffen, or even the new George Lucas museum, museum of the narrative arts.

Would actually find very interesting is that these two Titans, David Geffen as well as George Lucas, both of them actually made their fortune in media, cinema, movies, and “entertainment”.

For example David Gethin, he is the one who essentially “platformed“ all of these notorious and successful singers, artist, blink-182, black-eyed peas etc.… People don’t understand that David Geffin, through Geffen records, produced a lot of the superstars.

Fill up my cup… mazeltov!

Mazeltov, it’s a celebration bitches! – JAY Z

What people don’t seem to understand is that media, music has such a strong allure and influence on us.

“I’ll be looking flashy in my Mercedes-Benz”- (I’m coming up so you better get this party started!”

Things I know, or things I don’t know; how much of modern day music culture and movies has an influence on our purchasing behaviors, or desires?

For example, one of the most formative songs in my childhood growing up was the VANS song by “the pack”. I am 35 years old, born in 1988, and I was raised and grew up in a very formative time in the bay area, Alameda, Oakland, East Oakland, the Bay Area movement, stupid dumb and hyphy, yellow bus retarded, E-40, Mac Dre, Keak da Sneak etc.

Essentially, a lot of these artists, both modern day, and old school, the general idea was a very democratic one; anyone and everyone could become cool simply if they had “I bang in my white TEE”– the basic idea that being cool and dressing well was open to all; all you needed was a simple white T-shirt, something you could easily pick up at any footlocker, I think I remember buying 10 white T-shirts for only $10 or something, and blue jeans, preferably dark denim.

The reason why the VANS song was so influential to me was multi fold: first and foremost, at the time, only weird skateboard kids or vans snickers, not black kids or any kids from the African-American population, and hip-hop. It wasn’t interesting time because to be a “skater”, was only for white kids, punk rock kids, which was not yet mainstream nor cool. But came out this very innovative song and concept that in fact, you could be black, African-American, into hip-hop music and rap, and still somehow wear vans sneakers, and skateboard?

“Real niggas wear these VANS…” – The Pack

“Stop buying those Nikes”

Nike sneakers were very interesting to me as a kid growing up because first and foremost they were so expensive. As a kid, the cheapest pair of Nike sneakers I think was maybe $80? For a kid that was a lot of money. Instead, I preferred to buy Adidas sneakers, there was a deal I remember at footlocker, a typical Adidas sneaker was maybe $60, but if you bought two Adidas sneakers, or any of the sneakers listed, you could buy two for $100, which equal only $49 a sneaker. This is how I started collecting sneakers as a kid, specifically Adidas sneakers, the château, as well as the case Swiss classic tennis shoe; when I was in high school, and also middle school, just having a simple pair of all white case Swiss tennis shoes were in. And once again this was great because they were quite affordable, you could buy two pairs of them for only 100 bucks, which was $49 a sneaker.

Weird things nowadays, why is it that in two days world, 2024, almost 20 years later, sneakers are more expensive than they were in the past? Wouldn’t you think that with industrialization, advancements and technology and whatever, that shoes should be cheaper, not more expensive?

For example, is still befuddles me how and why people would spend $200 on a loser Adidas ultra boost shoe, the only reason Adidas became cool was because of Kanye West, yet everyone still likes to hit on him. And also, spending $700 on a Balenciaga Knitted shoe, which also only became popular because of rap music, Cardi B, etc.? And also let us not forget that Demna, Kanye West, their collaboration is actually what made Balenciaga cool as well.

Also, Kanye West is the one who made Kim Kardashian so famous, and also, I think he actually did help Taylor Swift become somewhat famous as well.

“I made that bitch famous, not really but somewhat famous!” – Kanye Famous outtake song

In 2017, I downloaded a unreleased version of the life of Pablo, I think I found it somewhere on Google, Reddit, which was just hosted on Google Drive, which included a bunch of outtake songs, not the final versions of a lot of his iconic songs on the album “the life of Pablo“. One of them which I found fascinating was the one quoted.


Why think off the grid?

The reason why I like this idea and notion of “off the grid” thinking is that it is more fun, interesting, creative, and advancing.

Even Nietzsche in one of his books wrote that in order 41 to advance their thinking, one needed some sort of pseudo metaphorical monastic life, in which one had to do a “strict refusal of letters”. Back in the day, we can consider  “letters” the same thing as email. 

In fact if you really think about it, email, which stands for electronic male, and what is sent in the mail? Letters.

I think the reason why there is so much weird modern day angst about email and letters is that we treated with the same gravity and gravitas as handwritten letters. I think this is bad. Let us bifurcate the two; make real letters long form, written by hand and personal, And let email be more like text messaging. Ideally voice dictated, or even AI generated?

I even like this idea that when you open up your inbox, you could create this funny Gmail email app, or plug-in that every time you actually load up and open up an email in your inbox, the client will automatically populate “confirming receipt of your email, I will get back to you later… And funny, even if you never get back to them… At least you acknowledged receipt of it?

Getting rid of the tedium of every day life. 

The purpose of life and living is to live more, not to be behelden to all of these hateful tasks.

For example, not negotiable things like paying your bills and utilities, paying your taxes, etc. But beyond this, a lot of our “obligations”, are not real obligations.  Rather, it seems like “busy working “, like all of this BS work you had to do in K-12 education, which both you and the teacher knew was busy work.

Otium vs Negotium

OTM is the Latin Roman notion of leisure. Even the ancient Greeks knew well; the true apex was this virtuous, creative leisure, a life of learning thinking philosophy and advancement. 

Even for the ancient Romans, like the stoic sage Seneca, everyone knew that business was a hateful thing, everyone wanted to get rid of their duties, even Seneca and one of his letters is talking to his friend Lucilius, saying that he should stop playing for political office, stop having to manage the price of bushels of wheat etc.

Seneca says, “retire now!”

It doesn’t matter how much you plow the Earth, still, you will be a slave to something!