Shaine Mata

Seeking Freedom

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This is an old gasoline pump that was out in the middle of a field. Everything surrounding it was torn down.
The City of McAllen, Texas had the Mayor's State of the City event. It was a very dramatic experience.
My son and I drove up to Superior, Wisconsin. Once there, we visited the lighthouse at Wisconsin Point.
An old tree near my home that died after the building next to it burned down.
Bishop Daniel Flores blessing the land where a new church will be built.
My children riding their bikes at Oblate Park.
I took this photo of a downpour one afternoon.
I spotted this mushroom in the light at Oblate Park.
Trenton View Plaza. I took this with a medium format toy camera.
Symmetry on Expressway 83
Pedestrian bridge in San Antonio, Texas
Sunday morning street in downtown Mission, Texas

The struggle with the digital lifestyle continues. I have long been an advocate of using technology to improve one’s lifestyle, improve collaboration, and to keep things more or less organized. In most cases, I am a walking solution looking for problems that lack technology.

Yet, I find myself at odds with technology when it comes to making significant strides in my personal and professional goals. I have always required some degree of deep concentration and time to process all that must be juggled. Lately, however, the need is becoming more pronounced.

Podfade Interview Question Responses by shainemata

My friend Jennifer Navarrete sent me an interview questionnaire about podfading. Some very good questions. These are my responses.
Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California, described how allowing digital distraction is like playing tennis with our cognitive energies and attentional resources. However, our brains take a lot longer to switch direction than a tennis ball.

With my brother to visit family.

Yesterday, my attention at work was overseeing the installation of two phone booths without phones.

It seems anachronistic that in the day of mobile phones that anybody would use a phone booth. The reality is that sometimes you need some privacy or a little bit of quiet.

I just received the ULINE catalog. I find myself more excited than I should be. I think facility management is starting to grow on me.

Photo by Fabian Bank at

Savings is something sacred that you need to build up and guard against loss. Warren Buffet has some famous rules about not losing money. We should not rely on savings for spending money. Rather savings should working in your favor while you use other financing to get by. All too often, savings is treated as a sort of sinking fund, money set aside to pay off debt or to repurchase a depreciating asset. But, you don’t save money for the purpose of spending it.

You can earn a higher hourly rate in your free time than you can earn in your day job. This is assuming that you have some sort of skilled gig you can do quickly. For example, I do IT side jobs after work and on weekends. The hourly rate I can charge for these services is way more than I would earn as a technician for somebody else.

I have just launched FIRE Blog Gallery, a website about personal finance and things related to Financial Independence and Retire Early. The site is a way for me to share some of my favorite posts about personal finance and business.

Tonight, I had my first run in Vibram Five Finger shoes. It was more of a series of short jogs. The park I frequent is one square block. I ran one side, walked the next, ran, and walked. This went on for thirty minutes.

I'm a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I've never had a social media account. At the moment, this makes me an outlier, but I think many more people should follow my lead and quit these services.
Cal Newport / Nytimes

Recently, I asked my assistant to spend some time thinking about blog topics for me. Lately, I have been in a doing mode, not too much about the thinking, at least in my personal life. Consequently, things at work are going great when I am fresh and ready to think. But, I am fried at the end of the day with little thinking capacity left for home. So, I need some pre-thinking done.

I outsource some things at home, like yard work. I figured that I could outsource topic thinking too. If given a topic, I could get straight to writing about it. Choosing a topic is sometimes the toughest part of writing blog posts. Here are some thoughts of my own about outsourced thinking, ironically.

On the surface, minimalism seems like an ascetic lifestyle. One mistakenly imagines that minimalists are the type to live out in the desert with a jug of water and a packet of crackers with nature to entertain them. This version of minimalism is a rather extreme version. However, that is not to say that the ascetic is not experiencing his version of freedom.

Rather, minimalism is best described as letting go of the unessential. For the sake of argument, if you are a painter and spend all your time on your art, the items that are essential to you are your brushes, paints, canvases, and other items that aid you in your pursuits. Unessential to you are newspaper and magazine subscriptions, season tickets, and a McMansion.

Today, I received the shipment of my new Vibram Five Finger shoes. This model is the Spyridon MR Trail Running Shoe, which I purchased from Amazon. Although I am not yet a runner, let alone a trail runner, I expect to eventually be one.

I wrote about my motives for barefoot running, or the closest thing to it a few days ago when I placed my order. I must confess that what I imagined the experience of Vibram Five Fingers and what has actually happened have parted ways.