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minimalism in a nerdy world

Category: Geek Minimalism (Page 2 of 8)

Thoughts on the Panel One Comic Creator Festival 2017

First Principles: support the artists, not the IP.

-KL Callbeck

This week was one of my new favourite Calgary events – The Panel One Comic Creator Festival.

Begun in 2016, this is a comics-only festival begun to highlight the work of local creators in a venue free of celebrity photo ops and t-shirt walls.

As I minimize and focus on the Things that bring me joy and value, I have thought a lot about the comics I buy at conventions and the festival.

A few of the creators sell their work online and I often support that way. Many others, of course, will print copies of their work in the hundreds and hand sell them at shows. The physical Thing is the only way the work will ever be available.

Which leads me to this First Principle:

Above my desire to reduce Things is my commitment to supporting local comic makers. 

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Fail Faster: intentional TV in an age of limitless content

wind across the dunes

Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.
-Tom Peters (business management consultant)

The current tide of content is only increasing. Along with our 200-channel cable packages and streaming services, we have online access to a functionally limitless array of foreign content, sports, and independent work. We can only take in a sliver of what is available to us.

Even among my close friends, we have almost no content in common. We can each keep up with 5-10 TV shows, but the specialising of streams means we are choosing them from all over the world. In our finite hours, we curate our content and almost fear finding something new to try to jam in.

Recommending something to a friend now feels like an imposition instead of sharing joy.

This then leads me to be very confused when someone tells me they spent hours watching a show that they later review as “it was ok.” In this tsunami of input, “ok” is a failing grade.

When it comes to content, I follow the old Silicon Valley cliche and “fail fast.”

Here’s a secret of mass media – books, TV, movies, comics, etc. They are all crafted with a “hook.” The opening gambit that catches your attention and has you wondering what comes next. In a novel this is the opening pages and first chapter. It’s the pilot of a TV show, the opening scenes of a film, and so on.

This is simply the way the works are created today, for good or ill. The upside is that you can use this to your advantage. If you are 2 episodes into a show and it isn’t connecting, you can bail. Perhaps check in at the top of the next season as they’ll apply this “hook” again then.

On sick days, I park myself at the TV and start going through the streaming queue. It is very common for me to watch 10 minutes of a half dozen films before settling on investing 90-150 minutes on one.

Think of it like the Costco sample stop of content.

Keeping up with the @joneses

Maybe I will never be all the things that I want to be
But now is not the time to cry, now’s the time to find out why
-Oasis “Live Forever”

Taking a 14-day social media break while I was on vacation was something I had trepidation about.

It was pushing my FOMO, cutting off cold turkey a decade (!) of connection, interaction, addiction, and habit.

I expected some anxiety. The twitch, of course. What I did not forsee was … nothing. I did not miss it at all. I stepped away from the stream and the noise stopped.

I had a few times of desire to post and share. But to my chagrin, those were all about putting things out into the world, not about taking anything in.

Not “connecting” or “checking in” or any of the other justifications and rationalisations we give. No, I thought about reporting in. Of posting pictures or thoughts or “I told you so”s.  But at no point did I crave input.

I craved that fix that tells my monkey brain that someone cares.

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900 Things: End of the Line

From November 2012 to November 2013, I embarked on my first attempt at minimalism (not even knowing there was a word for it).

I created some good habits, but didn’t ask enough questions about what would fill the space I was creating.

The project was called “900 Things.” 

-Keith Callbeck (@geekminimalist)

On the last day of the project I wrote a final wrap up, warts and all.


I stumbled a couple of times during the project, it made it a bit of a tough road near the end. Having given into temptation once, I found it difficult to avoid abandoning the whole thing in the last weeks.

In September I gave in and picked up a couple of things at a horror convention. A similar thing happened in October at a big comic sale. I picked up a few heavily discounted trades (all on my want list) and a pile of 25 cent New Universe comics. This was definitely the worst I fell off the wagon in the year.

Why? I knew going to the sale at all was basically accepting that I was going to break my rules. I went alone so there was no social aspect. I made a choice and went.

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the lego meditations

He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect

-Sting “Shape of My Heart”

I bought a Lego advent calendar each of the past half dozen years. It is a bit of joy every day that I get to open up that little door and put together a Lego Star Wars toy. A few friends questioned that extravagance for a few seconds of lightness. It is, however, less per day than a cup of coffee.

The flip side, though, is that I don’t know what to do with all of this Lego later. Last year’s 25 pieces and a few micro-packs filled a small shelf. Another new 25 small toys will bring that to overflowing.

But why do I have to keep them at all? If I am unlikely to build anything from the fragments of a clone trooper transport, why doesn’t it just go into the recycling bin? Because we as accumulators have trained ourselves to put value on one $2 thing, a bit of Lego, and not on another, a cup of coffee.

If I keep the little Lego toy I’m geeky, or a collector, or just eccentric. If I keep the coffee cups, I am barking mad.


Lego was another of the Things that led me to question all the Things in my life. I had purchased a used Lego kit from eBay and had great fun putting it together. Unlike the new kits, this was all the pieces in a giant pile (new kits come packed in stages so you spend less time hunting for a specific piece).

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