ANYONE who lives within his means …

Gran Torre

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

I’m not much into self-help books.

But many people I admire follow Tim Ferriss. I finally got around to starting his classic book …

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9–5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich 

The evangelizing rah-rah turns me off … as does the focus on money while claiming not to care about money.

On the other hand, Ferriss does have some very good ideas. For example:

  • take more and longer vacations while young enough to enjoy them
  • work from inexpensive foreign nations, if you can, while earning hard currency
  • focus on strengths, instead of trying to fix weaknesses
  • Rid Yourself of Material Possessions
  • Sometimes Less Is More

Here’s my buddy Josh. He’s a digital nomad working online from a series of inexpensive nations — most recently Guatemala, Nepal and Vietnam.

related – my own philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity

why I can’t live in Europe

This is a repost from 2009. Having travelled Europe extensively in 2018 and 2019, my opinion is unchanged. 

Too much second hand smoke, too few toilets. 

I should live in Europe.

The trains are fantastic. There are dedicated bike trails everywhere. It’s easy to live without a car.

But I can’t live in Europe. 

  • It’s OLD
  • It’s EXPENSIVE
  • Banker’s Hours
  • People aren’t friendly
  • Smokers

=== It’s OLD

No need to visit the potentially gorgeous Sagrada Família in Barcelona. There are no plans to remove the scaffolding until at least 2026.

308565295_452c4ee086_b

I’m not sure how they ever made postcards of the great monuments of Europe. Photoshop?

Most are under construction. Constantly.

=== It’s EXPENSIVE

broke-guyA sample of prices from December 2007:

Gallon of unleaded gas: $8.08
Gallon of bio diesel: $6.06
Wireless Internet: $6 for 30 minutes, $32 for 24 hours
Vienna public transport, 24-hours: $8.40
Berlin public transport, 24-hours: $8.97
Seat reservation, Brussels-Frankfurt train: $4.41
Overnight parking, Hotel Helvetia, Lindau, Germany: $14.40
Leopold Museum, Vienna: $10.30

see more

I recently heard that a basic hotel room in urban Finland costs US$400 / night.

There are very few pressures to bring prices down in Western and Northern European countries. You need a HUGE salary to afford to live there.

=== Banker’s Hours

Recall when the only reason we hated bankers was that they worked only 10:15AM-11:45AM. And 2:15AM- 3:45PM ??

Most businesses in Southern Europe still close in the middle of the day. Many are required to close by government legislation.

Shop keeps sometimes seem disappointed if you find their store open.

sorry-we-are-open

I’m surpised any commerce happens at all.

The tradition of siesta may have worked well in the small village decades past (when wives were stay at home chattel) but it’s bloody inconvenient in 2009. Especially for a tourist.

In the Dolomites of Northern Italy they have incredibly helpful tourist information kiosks. But they close from Noon Saturday until Monday morning. … The majority of tourists arrive by train from big cities further south, about Noon on Saturday.

In Andorra la Vella, the only city in the country of Andorra, none of the internet cafes were open on a Saturday morning. Not even 24 Hour Internet. (I did them the service of removing their “OPEN” sign. But my Swiss Army knife did not have the power tools required to remove the 24 Hour Internet sign.)

=== People aren’t friendly

Picture an arrogant, rude European.

disdainful

That’s my preconception.

But when I finally found, in the summer of 2009, an arrogant French bus driver, I couldn’t stop laughing.

As he chastised me, the ignorant, smelly American tourist, I couldn’t help chuckling at his stereotype manner and accent. He seemed to me a Hollywood comic actor spoofing the role with a phoney accent.

Ever since I saw the wonderful 1967 Sidney Portier film, To Sir, with Love, I’ve had another bias … A disgust with the British class system.

Even today I picture a subculture of profane skin head soccer louts. And uncouth, unwed teen mothers. Spending their meager dole at the pub rather than at the dentist.

I did see them in Scottish pubs. But sucking fags outside the door of the pub. Smoking in restaurants and bars was banned in the United Kingdom July 2007. Thank God.

Infants and children are allowed in pubs, however. Drunks care for them while Mom and/or Dad step out for another smoke.

… To be fair, I was very surprised how friendly the Scots were to me, another dumb tourist. Far more friendly than any of the other 5 Western European countries I visited.

=== Smokers

The single biggest reason I could not live in Europe.

They are shameless. Unrepentant. Totally oblivious to others.

The phrase “second hand smoke” has never yet been translated into Italian.

They smoke indoors and out. I could not enter any cafe or restaurant. In fact, a guy lit up in the airport restaurant in Bilbao, Spain. There were no signs saying he couldn’t.

Worst of all, it was clear to me that smoking is still cool, in Europe.

smoker-cafe

I can’t live in Europe.

It’s uncivilized.

Apple should reinvent Higher Education

Apple has tons of cash on hand. Is looking to revolutionize future products and services.

Professor Scott Galloway:

I teach 120 kids on Tuesday nights in my Brand Strategy course. That’s $720K, or $60K per class, in tuition payments, a lot of it financed with debt. I’m good at what I do, but walking in each night I remind myself we (NYU) are charging kids $500/minute for me and a projector. This. Is. Fucking. Ridiculous. …

Apple could change this. With a brand rooted in education, and a cash hoard to purchase Khan Academy’s and physical campuses (the future of education will be a mix of off- and on-line), Apple could break the cartel that masquerades as a social good but is really a caste system.

The focus should be creativity — design, humanities, art, journalism, etc. As the world rushes to STEM, the future belongs to the creative class, who can envision form, function, and people as something more — beautiful and inspiring. …

No Mercy. No Malice. (2017)

The Four by Scott Galloway

Four American companies have totally changed our lives.

Apple
Amazon
Google
Facebook

I use all four non-stop. Fantastic innovation.

Needless to say, there are downsides. Google no longer uses the mantra “don’t be evil”. They dropped it in 2018.

Scott Galloway has replaced Leo Laporte as my main tech guru. I just finished his book …

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (2017)

It’s great, but you can get a good summary by reading Galloway’s article in Esquire:

Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine (2018)

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Needless to say, I was attracted to this book because of my own philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity.

Less is more.

Cait was quite a normal person. In debt, like normal people. Her life cluttered with possessions she never used, like normal people.

How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

When Cait Flanders was in her early 20s, she found herself $23,000 in consumer debt. In order to turn her life around — and get out of debt — she set out on a mission to address some of the root causes of her over-consumption.

Flanders’ memoir, The Year of Less, documents how through a self-imposed shopping ban, cutting back on eating out and drinking and de-cluttering her life, she rediscovered happiness, health and financial security.

In her own words, Flanders explains how she changed her life and wrote The Year of Less. …

CBC

Amazon