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Non-materialistic gifts for kids

A Redditor asks..

“Hey guys,
I was just wondering what your top gift ideas are for kids that won’t just become clutter in a couple of weeks. I know how special it is for children to open gifts on Xmas but I also don’t want to just buy toys or gifts that will ultimately end up in the back of a toy box in a few weeks. What do you guys get for your nieces, nephews, and children? Board games, books…etc? I really want to stay away from regular toys.”

Another Redditor answers..

Spend time with them.

  • We made a coupon book that has things like “Go to Zoo”, “go to library”, “Go to Christmas play”, etc. We would have done most of that anyways, but we thought it was fun to have coupon book. Plus gives us a nice list to work off when we run out of ideas 🙂
  • Sometimes on their birthdays, we’ll take off work and do something fun with them. It’s one vacation day, but feel it means a lot to them (most of the time, lol)
  • Gifts that include interaction. I got a “clock kit” off aliexpress. It’s just a bunch of electronics that you solder into a clock. The kit it’s self was only $4 shipped, but took us a good part of a Saturday to put together. It was a great opportunity to spend time and transfer some skill knowledge and teach them with it being fun.

It doesn’t have to be electronics, it could be wood working, painting, hiking, computer programming, etc. If you are an expert or have a hobby, then I’m sure you could find a cheap way to introduce them to it.

I fondly remember my Dad showing me how to shoot a BB gun. He made it into a big deal, going over how BB and real guns work. Showing me the mechanics using charts and videos and diagrams. He even stripped a BB gun and a shotgun to show me how they worked. Then we had a gun safety “course” and even had some super duper cheesy VHS gun safety video, but he did install a sense of respect for firearms… My Grandpa even came out, a real WWII vet to help with the training.

After lunch at the “mess hall” [my mom making us sandwiches], then he finally took me “out in the field” with “live ammo” and safety glasses and spent an afternoon pliknking paper plates with bullseyes on them. The thing is, my Dad isn’t even a “gun nut”, just knew a little about them. He really made it fun and magically but using a lot of grown up terms and having my Grandpa there. I was only 7, but felt like quality man time.

  • scavenger hunt. either make one your self or if you are lazy, just go geocaching 🙂 (I almost always do the latter). Protip: your phone has a GPS unit most likely so cost is near zero. Make or print out some “lore” and a “treasure map”. Soak it in tea overnight and let it dry. It’ll look old and mystic.

What to look for when looking at art

Up until a year ago, I had never visited an art expo. Things changed when I met the incredibly talented Charlotte De Baere (CDB.), who I easily became friends with. (I’m also the proud owner of one of her works, Ziener.)

But what do you see when you look  at art? Obviously, the artist put quite a lot of work in it. But if you’re unfamiliar with expos as an activity, it’s quite hard to figure out what to pay attention to.

So here’s Jerry Saltz’ take, from his wonderful How to be an Artist essay.

Try to find the content in a painting by Robert Ryman, who has been making almost-all-white work since the 1950s. Ask what Ryman’s (or any artist’s) ideas are and what his relationship to paint is, to surface, to internal scale (meaning what size brushstrokes were used in the work), to color. What is white to Ryman? Note the date: 1960. Why would he make this painting then? Would this have looked like other art at the time? How would it have been different? Ask yourself what else was being made then. How is the work hung on the wall? Is it in a frame? Is the stretcher or surface thick, thin, close to the wall? How is this like or unlike other almost-monochrome works by Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Agnes Martin, or Ad Reinhardt? Is the surface sensual or intellectual? Does the painter want you to see the work all at once or in parts? Are some parts more important than others? Is every part of the surface supposed to be equally important? What are the artist’s ideas about craft and skill? Do you think this artist likes painting or is trying to paint against it? Is this anti-art? What is Ryman’s relationship to materials, tools, mark-making? How do you think he made the work? How might it be original or innovative? Why should this be in a museum? Why should it not be in a museum? Would you want to live with it? Why or why not? Why do you imagine the painting is this size? Now try a Frida Kahlo.

Three must-follow newsletters (December 2018 update)

I love newsletters. Since I’m not on social media but I still like to keep in touch with people I admire, I tend to seek out their newsletters. Here are my three favorite ones.

Shoutout to @naval (Naval Ravikant), probably the best Twitter feed around.

DevCon4 Day 3

Last day! The conference flew by, which is a good sign. Yesterday’s Blockchains LLC announcement was quite the thing, and people are still talking about it. We’ll see how things evolve in the next years. It’s 9.41 am and Lubin is going to talk in two weeks twenty minutes. I’ll be updating throughout the day. (Also check day0, day1, day2 blogposts.)  Read more →

DevCon4 Day 2

Today I’ll spend most of my day in Radiant Orchid and Prism/Spectrum (the two main rooms). Tonight we’ll have the Blockchains LLC announcement. These are the talks I’ll attend. I’ll provide updates throughout the day. I share a quick impression and encourage you to watch the sessions yourself.   Read more →

DevCon4 Day 1

It’s 10.21am and I’m waiting for the Kick-off keynote, which will start in a few moments. Today is day 1, and it promises to be an exciting one.  Read more →

DevCon4 day 0

Today was the official start of Devcon4 in Prague, the yearly Ethereum conference family reunion hosted by the Ethereum Foundation. It’s my first time, too. Although I actively create (blog posts, podcasts, books, ..), I’m no developer.  Read more →

Highlights from “How to make Wealth”

One of my favorite online resources is Paul Graham’s blog, with his incredible list of thought-provoking essays. I like his idea of “condensing forty years into four,” as it also (kind of) applies to high risk investing – it helps me keep my sanity in the current cryptocurrency markets.  Read more →

Highlights from “Letters to a Young Poet”

I just finished Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I’d like to share some of the things I highlighted (bold highlights are mine). Also, I learned that Stefan Zweig (whose book on Magellan I enjoyed a lot) had a letter exchange with Rilke, something I’ll get into after I come back from my pilgrimage. You can buy the book on Amazon for €2.80, by the way. It’s a steal.  Read more →

An overview of my Influences, Must Reads, Heuristics, Rules for Daily Life and more

In the last few months, my curiosity has led me to new and exciting places. Not only did I discover new things about myself (I’m more conservative than I thought), it also opened new avenues of conversation. New perspectives on how to talk and think about the meaning of life, what it is that we do here, and the traps to avoid. I’m 26 now, and it feels like a good moment to reflect on some things.  Read more →