In 2005, author David Foster Wallace gave a commencement address to Kenyon College, titled “This is Water,” in which he thoughtfully and powerfully wove together the annoyance of grocery shopping with mindfulness, compassion and the deeper meaning of life. I was moved to tears listening to it for the first time (and, who am I kidding, for the fifth time). This launched my obsession with David Foster Wallace (or DFW, as I call him in my head), including many imagined conversations with him. 
I owe Tim Ferriss an apology.
When “The 4 Hour Work Week” came out in 2007, I hated it without reading it. A high school friend (we’ll call him Don) read it and was inspired to follow Ferriss’ advice to the letter. Don slowly built up a business selling weight loss pills online– he was simply the middleman, automating the manufacturing and delivery. It took him a couple years to get the business to a profitable point, at which point he quit his job to run this business with minimal effort from a laptop while traveling the world. (Exactly what the book suggests.)
I was horrified. I watched Don set up a scam-y business (who thinks these diet pills work?) and assumed that “The 4-hour Work Week” had nothing good to recommend it. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how it would be nice to have more free time, and the idea of a 4-hour work week (or even just a shorter work week) sounded more and more appealing. So I pulled the book out of the library to if there were any nuggets of wisdom there.
We struggled to pick a name for this site. We wanted to give a sense of the topics areas we’ll be addressing without being too literal, too self-helpy, or too limiting since this site focuses on career and work, but also greater life choices. We brainstormed, researched, and tested out ideas (the runner up was “The Sounding Line,” after a nautical tool for measuring depths). We thought about literary references (James and the Giant Peach), biological themes (equilibrium, symbiosis), and object analogies (Newton’s Cradle). (read more…)