Ambient Allure and Spectacular Sights

The Piszek family has just returned from a 1.5 month RV trip through Europe. The Grand Tour of Europe was a customary coming-of-age ritual for 17th and 18th-century noblemen, and naturally, we concluded that our 6-month baby has to start early.

Consumption shrinks or expands in proportion to available square footage

After getting home, we were ecstatic to finally get our hands on our favorite takeout after a month of, well, Italian Pizza. The Baby got new toys from grandma, we opened some Amazon packages, and one thing led to another and within 2 days we were under a pile of stuff.

Somehow in the RV we managed with the basics and we lacked nothing, but as Made In Cosmos theorem stipulates:

“Consumption shrinks or expands in proportion to available square footage”

Life on the road was simpler and tidier. Life in our apartment is more comfortable and convenient. It is really nice to be able to oscillate between the two. This dynamic equilibrium helps to appreciate the benefits of another lifestyle.

Ambient Allure and Spectacular Sights

We did more in Italy than eat pizza. We also ate pasta and pesto. And we did even more than that! We were able to travel at our own pace, visiting small towns without a hurry. I tried to capture the surrounding elegance of this old Italian architecture, but none of the shots really captured the essence.

It’s like everything was built to create a vibe of ambient beauty, not to feed my Instagram.

My wife told me, that the Zen Gardens have the same quality – they are designed as an environment for you to be in, not sit outside with your camera.

Other lessons from life on the road

There are other lessons from our trip:

  • 3G/LTE performance is just amazing and dealing with free WiFi is tedious and unreliable. Just buy a local SIM Card instead of waiting for Starlink to save you,
  • Our Dog will always steal food and the best chair,
  • When you see a lake, you have to swim in it. This is my new personal rule and it has never failed to bring me joy.

I published a few things

Alexander von Humboldt: the first Solarpunk

In Alexander von Humboldt: the first Solarpunk, I curated some of Humboldt’s ideas about Nature, and Humanity’s place in it.

Alexander von Humboldt served as a role model for Goethe’s Faust and helped Thomas Jefferson build the agricultural power of the United States. He inspired Charles Darwin to hop on the beagle to follow in his steps, Thoreau to seek close connection to nature at the Walden Pond, and Muir to create the national park system.

The essay got a discussion going on Hacker News.

Computer Science and Psychology? How does that work?

In Computer Science and Psychology? How does that work? I recount the story of my dual degree, and how these disciplines are more aligned than it may seem. But I also call for a more transdisciplinary approach to solving problems:

Our most pressing problems started small but have been allowed to grow unhindered due to their transdisciplinary nature. They didn’t land in the purview of any single discipline, so we all ignored them as long as possible. The challenges of the future are in the seams of things.

Crypto is not an alternative to Capitalism

Crypto and DAOs are sometimes hailed as the alternative to the current market systems. I don’t think that is the case.


Weird thing this week: What’s with all the skulls?

The photo in this email is taken in Hallstatt, Austria. The town is apparently famous in Asia for being “the most Instagrammable place in the world” (apparently not one of the “Ambient Allure” ones), and China has a replica of the whole city. The mayor of the Town has asked tourists to just stay away, but the weirdest thing about this place is the crypt with painted human skulls.

Swimming with Seals in Cape Town

YES. You can swim with Seals (not the Navy kind) in Cape Town, South Africa. These gracious creatures are very playful, and they don’t hesitate to swim up close, say Hi or maybe do a high five (fin).

A Bit of Backstory:

In April 2019, my Fiancee (who also works remotely) had to go for a business trip to Cape Town. Since we all work in different places, our company flies the whole team to one place for a week, so we can get together and dose up on some in-person interaction. Since 3 of Maria’s teammates live in Cape Town, I was hoping that someday she would have to go there and finally they decided to do so.
Being shameless opportunists that we are, we jumped at the chance to spend some time in South Africa. Nature is fantastic here, people friendly and ocean cold. Real cold.
Maria was spending days with her coworkers, and I was working from the city’s amazing coffee shops and researching what could we do after her business was over.
During that research, I stumbled upon a Casey Neistat’s video where he went swimming with sharks seals.

This is the best stuff ever!

I know, right? Who does not want to swim with sea dogs?!

Since famous bloggers think alike, I went with the same company Casey did – the Animal Ocean.
They run an environmentally conscious operation, and they make sure the seals are fairly treated and allowed to unionize.

So here is roughly what happpens:

  1. You book your trip like 5 days in advance. They sell out fast
  2. You arrive on time to Houts Bay. We were scheduled at 11:30
  3. Park your car there, they are looking after it
  4. Sign paperwork, check out amazing shark socks
  5. You squeeze into wetsuit, you get a vest and one-piece suit with vest
  6. You put on wetsuit again since you confused the sides. ZIPPER AT THE FRONT!!
  7. You can rent a gopro if that’s your jam
  8. Leave all other stuff at their shop
  9. You go to the bay in a SealMobile!
  10. Ride in a speedboat to Duniker island
  11. Now you get gloves and masks
  12. You play with seals which is the best experience of your entire life
  13. After about 1 hour, you are so cold that you really want to go back on the boat (and life)
  14. They pour hot water inside your suit to make you less cold
  15. They give you hot chocolate – guess why .
  16. Speedboat and sealmobile back to the shop!
  17. You wear a cute seal hoodie while you get warm. Also probably a shower.

Want to know more about the seals?

These particular seals are known as “Cape Fur” seals. They hang out in Duniker island in Houts bay because:

  • Island is not connected to the land, so humans are not bothering them too much
  • There is plenty of food. They like Mantis Shrimp
  • They ocean has good temperature
  • Sharks (pretty common predator in South Africa) stay away from Houts Bay.

Check out this article by Animal Ocean if you want more reliable information about the seals.