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Life update from the Sunshine State

It's been about three months since I set sail from all currently existing institutions. After finalizing our business in the UK, saying goodbyes, and flying back to the United States, it's now been a little more than two months in the United States. It's been a mix of better than I expected, and harder than I expected.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly some paid work fell into my lap. I was confident I'd find some work sooner or later, to hold me over while I build my grand, unified vision of a financially stable intellectual life on the internet, but I prepared mentally for it to take a long time. I was almost immediately offered handsomly-paid remote work conducting web survey experiments for a business client. This greatly eased my anxieties about the financial implications of leaving academia, but it also threw a temporary wrench into my intellectual workflows. I have zero experience communicating with business clients, and zero experience working on a remote team business-style. I allowed the Slack work style to colonize my consciousness way too much on too many days, even though the total count of hours itself has not been bad at all.

The current paid project is almost done, so it was only a short shock to Other Life Systems. I haven't done a livestream in the past few weeks, for instance. This is also because I am becoming conscious that I need to focus more on high-value work; the weekly solo live streams were really just a way to keep thinking and sharing and staying touch with my readers and watchers while I was going through the unpredictable chaos of the departure from England. Now that I'm on the other side, I will divert effort away from random one-off things to higher value longer-term projects. As of now, I'm going to formally end the tradition of the past few months, where I was doing a solo livestream every Thursday night. That's off until further notice. I might very well bring those sessions back, but if I do then they'll be something more focused and serious. Maybe prepared lectures or something, I just want to avoid too much bullshitting. Mere chatting and joking is fun here and there, but it's too cheap and easy. Seems to be a decent business model, if you look at some popular podcasts, but I'm chasing something different. I will probably still carry on the livestream conversations, I think, when I get settled somewhere; they still feel valuable. When we land in New Mexico, I'm going to commit to some rigorous 6-month or 1-year plan and will let you know what kinds of outputs you can expect through that period.

I still have podcasts posting regularly, and that will continue without interruption, as I continue to archive all the old livestreams as podcasts.

My recent distractions with paid work might have been a blessing for my systems at this early stage, because they're forcing me to rationalize my processes all the more forcefully.

The other good news is that if you need someone to conduct experimental research designs to answer various attitudinal or behavioral questions — I now know my way around like 8 different crowdsourcing platforms, and I can design + field + analyze survey experiments for business purposes quite quickly and affordably. If you have some causal effects in need of testing, .

Although this work has consumed me much more than I would've liked for the past few weeks, remote research work — fit well to the higher end of my abilities — feels more synergistic with my larger intellectual life. It's making me more knowledgeable and nimble with designing, implementing, and analyzing concrete and tractable studies. Moving in and out of a work Slack and RStudio is much more complimentary to my personal intellectual work than moving in and out of... buildings where I'm supposed to be showered and do a zillion bureaucratic things. I'm honing skills that will come in handy for my own autonomous research work, and I am learning business perspectives that might come in handy later, too.

I got my driver's license, after about ten years of it being expired. Took me about a month — I failed the written test the first time around. My dad is something of a hoarder, and he offered us a 2000 Audi A4 which my mother and sister told us to not accept. My dad assured us that it would get us to New Mexico (our ultimate destination for now), and I personally put that probability somewhere around 50%. It was almost free for us, other than a few little things, and the registration, insurance, and a AAA package. So even if it were to die in the middle of our trip, it seemed worth trying. If we needed to buy a new car or fly from wherever it died, it would only put us back where we started. But if it held up, we'd save a lot of money.

Then, the night before we needed to hit the road, the back windshield shattered. My dad placed his eyeglasses on the sill of the trunk, where the trunk space meets the back windshield, while we were doing some last things with flashlights in the dark of night. He forgot he put them there, and we went to close the trunk... It's quite bizarre, the eyeglasses were fine but the pressure went through the back windshield. We had lodgings booked for the whole week, so we had to rent a car — surely the worst possible way to get where we were going, financially.

We drove down the East Coast, taking our time for about a week. We stopped in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley for a night in Waynesboro, VA. We walked the Appalachian trail — for like a mile. We had beers in a huge bar with families and babies everywhere. We drove to the area around Asheville, NC and checked out a few spots. We saw some remarkable wildlife we had never seen before, namely a good-looking couple in their 20s with three kids. I met up with Trad Queen. She was cool, very nice, intense, we didn't have too long, we discussed relationships and she told me to read Flannery O'connor. We drove to Raleigh and enjoyed a meet up with @nicholatian, @resonanceknight, and @cryptochamomile before driving to a beautiful salt-marsh town in southern Georgia. We finally arrived in Florida to spend some time with family there. We've been in Florida for almost two weeks now. There is currently a possibility of some kind of meetup in the next week or two, somewhere within the triangle of Daytona-Gainesville-Jacksonville. If you're anywhere around this area, .

Then we head to New Mexico, where we'll live with Geoffrey Miller and Diana Fleischman in Albuquerque for a few months — maybe more if it works well for everyone. I'm looking forward to the relative stability.

What else? I just met with an accountant for the first time in my life. Gotta know what to do with all these Patreobux...

After a lot of reflection about my different projects and experiments — what's working well and what's not, balancing the work I enjoy with the work that I believe is most important, balancing what gets public traction and what will matter in the long-run, balancing what might lead to money and what probably won't, balancing all these and other things — I think I'm pretty close to having decided a 6-month or 1-year plan for the Other Life project. I microdosed LSD the other day and a few things clicked into place regarding how I should prioritize and sequence the various projects I want to work on. I'll let you know the plan as soon as I firm it up.

Tour stop in Raleigh, North Carolina this Thursday May 16

Currently in the mountains of western North Carolina, I’m looking to buy an old broken down house somewhere for like $50k but I need to test Wifi quality first...

On Thursday we’ll be passing through Raleigh on a gracious invitation from @nicholatian and @resonanceknight.

This will now be my second “tour stop,” after the first one I did in London. At the London event, about 20 people came out. I can’t imagine many of you reading this happen to be in Raleigh, so I suspect this will be a very small meet up; but if you happen to be in the area, I would love to meet you. I know that Jacob @cryptochamomile — will be joining us, as he’s on his own road trip and just happens to be in the area that day.

Any and all are welcome, please just message me or reply or DM or whatever — so I can make sure we find you.

We’ll be meeting at Morgan Street Food Hall on Thursday May 16 at 3pm.

By the way, if you’ve invited me somewhere between NJ and NC, and you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me… It’s nothing personal, I promise. In my post-academia transition, I just need to balance a lot of things: staying intellectually focused and not losing my mind and powers in an over-socialized haze; I have some handsomely paid freelance work already and I’m learning how to handle that; keeping my wife happy and making sure that our post-academia life is genuinely more relaxed and healthy than it was in academia (as I promised it would be), etc. All this means is that the “tour” idea was never going to be some super aggressive non-stop thing. The idea is just to stop periodically, on our travels, if the time and place is right. And over a long enough time span, I can still make a visit to every single place I’ve been invited! I am probably going to travel a lot over the next couple of years, so if it seems like I’m passing over your invitation, I could very well loop back there. I had a few invites in the Baltimore / DC area, for instance, and we decided not to stop there even though we passed right through, and that was just because we were really cooped up after a long stay with my family, we did a lot of socializing on our way out of London, and we were itching to get into the mountains. But I’ll almost certainly pass through there again, and maybe that will be a better time to stop there. I’m sure you understand. Just wanted to clarify my thought process so nobody thinks I’m ignoring or declining their gracious invitations…

And by the way I’m still open to invitations. I keep a list and will try to make all of them sooner or later.

After Raleigh we head to Florida, with enough time to probably just make one stop somewhere in SC or GA.

Planning a tour, would you like me to visit you?

I have received just enough speaking invitations to announce that I'm pretty much embarking on a DIY book tour. Basically how punk bands do it: no agents, no rules, no frills. Would you like my wife and I to visit your town, for me to give a talk? For normal organizations, I would have normal expectations regarding financial stuff; but if you're just a random person, please do reach out and let's see what we can do. Email me at jstnmrphy [at] gmail [dot] com.

Here is a list, roughly in chronological order of my expected visitation, of places where I currently have at least one formal invitation of some kind or another. If you're anywhere in between these places (basically anywhere in Europe or the USA), and would like me to pass through, please let me know!

I'm not sure I'm going to make all of these, though I'd like to. This is why I'm asking if there's anyone else out there who'd like me to pass through their town: the more spots, the more likely I can connect these dots...

If you're on another side of the world I could still come, but then I'd definitely need travel costs covered.

London - March 1 - Location TBA
Southampton - March 4 - University of Southampton (I know, right?)
London - March 10 - Location TBA
Utrecht, Netherlands - March - Location TBA
NYC - March/April/May - Location TBA
Chicago - March/April/May - BridgeUSA @ University of Chicago
Salt Lake City - March/April/May - Location TBA
Portland - March/April/May - Location TBA
Gainesville - May/June - Location TBA

Let me know if you live anywhere near these places and would like for us to pass through. Or maybe you're on tour and you'd like for us to join you, that would be cool. I'm pretty much as free as I could possibly be at the moment, and we do want to have kids and settle sooner than later, so for the next few months there's no proposal too crazy I won't consider it!

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