Scatterfocus: Volume 1
WTH is this? Also shopping local, pottery, and a book.
In what is probably the most illustrative example of how my brain works, today I decided to start a newsletter. I've thought about it a few times over the last year, and when I found myself with a whole afternoon of freedom and Ali Abdaal’s latest video about newsletters popped into my recommendations, it seemed as good a time as any to try! So here we are. Not without a detour: in the most first world of problems, my cleaning person seems to have misplaced the mouse for my PC so I spent an hour trying to track that down first. It’s still missing.
Thanks to having a decent understanding of accessible keyboard navigation and enough hobbies that I keep multiple computer mice in the same room, I managed to get my other mouse installed on this PC and loaded up substack.com.
Choose a title for your publication…
I knew I wanted a “general curation of the random things that piqued my curiosity this week” theme to this newsletter, and in Googling “Scattered Hyperfocus” to make sure there wasn’t anything already named that, I learned that “scatterfocus” is actually a Thing that means something like “deliberately letting your mind wander.” Thirty seconds later, this newsletter was named and I fired up this first post.
Goals and intentions…
A lot of this is for my own benefit. I have a habit of going into some random rabbithole of learning something and two days later I could have no recollection of what I was even consuming. Not in the “I blacked out” kind of way. Just in the “it’s in there somewhere, but mixed up into all the other random things I consumed and now they’re all just blur of consumption” kind of way. I want to use this as a way to digest and synthesize the random things I consume so a) I can remember, b) I can look back and reference, and c) I know I retain things better when I distill them.
A week feels like the right increment of time, so we’ll start with that and iterate from there. Friday afternoons also feel like the right time to sit down and dump all of the things that have accumulated to make room for some weekend relaxation.
Without further ado…
📺 Hyperfocus on Hyperlocal
If you haven’t stumbled across the Absolute History YouTube channel yet, you’re missing out. They have a bunch of great series and this weekend I discovered the “Turn Back Time” series where they put a bunch of modern people through a week in the life of a shopkeeper throughout different periods of history.
Apart from being generally interesting to watch, it also got me thinking about mixed-use buildings, walkable towns, and having everything you might need within the bounds of your town. I love these sorts of urban planning ideas and stash them away for when the time comes that I get to build my own town. Some day.
I’d known that delivery was a big part of the way local business was transacted even up to the 60s and 70s, but I’d never really internalized how much hyper-specialization was the norm (the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker made a lot more sense to me after this) and that there was a distinct shift from full service to self-service, which opened the door for the big box stores to eat the world.
I was thinking about my own town and whether I could do everything I needed without resorting to a big box store. Clothing would be limited to t-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweat pants. Groceries would be limited to ice cream (a lot of it), alcohol, and for the most part, what I could grow. I’m not much of a carnivore, but as far as I know, there’s no butcher in town. I know there’s someone who keeps bees and sells the honey, which is cool. There’s a bagel shop, so I guess I could eat bagels instead of bread? Options would expand if I included the town bodega. But if I wanted to, say, eat only foods grown and sold locally, or that were made directly by the people selling them, I’d be eating a lot of ice-cream-on-a-bagel sandwiches.
I considered setting a challenge for myself to see how long I could go only shopping locally (maybe with a slightly expanded radius). I still like the idea, but I don’t have the energy to attempt that at the moment. Shelved for a future experiment, maybe? In the meantime, I’m trying to build a habit of defaulting to local businesses and trying to become more integrated into my community.
(I definitely recommend the Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm series - they’re actually better than the Turn Back Time series.)
This guy is building a tiny house to airbnb in 30 days. I love this kind of thing and if I had enough space, I’d definitely do something like this myself. His video style isn’t my favorite, but watching him do all of the work himself is really impressive and I’m intrigued to see how it’s going to turn out.
I took a one-night pottery workshop last week, so obviously I’m now obsessed with the craft of it because WOW it was so much more difficult than I expected. I’ve been watching The Great Pottery Throwdown and about 100 other YouTube videos in hopes of figuring out what I was doing wrong.
Slowly making my way through Good Strategy / Bad Strategy. So much of it is really hitting home. I’m looking forward to getting to the “how to do better” part.
Researching interesting things to do on a roadtrip from NJ southward toward Florida/Georgia and back. Open to recommendations!
If you happen to stumble across this, I’d love your feedback! What’s piqued your interest this week?
Until next Friday,
(PS Just as I was wrapping this up, I adjusted myself in my chair and GUESS WHAT FELL ONTO THE FLOOR?! My mouse! it was cradled in the backrest support 🤦🏻♀️)