HACK / MAKE

The Benefits of Carrying Cash

Most places accept credit and debit cards now, so a lot of people just carry a card to keep their wallet slim. Here are some benefits of having a stash of cash on you too:

  • It’ll be easier to barter on a purchase when you’re paying with cash.
  • Most ice cream trucks only take cash. Who doesn’t love ice cream?
  • Out on a date? You won’t be stuck when the restaurant’s credit card machine is down.
  • Tipping is a good way to show people you respect the work they do. Carrying cash will mean you won’t find yourself in the position where someone went out of their way to give you great service and you don’t have cash to tip them. Here’s a good guide to tipping.

I use a Saddleback leather wallet and highly recommend it for your cash-carrying needs.


“The Benefits Of” is a fun series pointing out some small and large ways that little things can benefit your life. You can read all of the Benefits Of posts here.

The Fourth Wall

When I started this site I made a few assumptions about who you, kind Reader, would be. If you believe in the same kind of design process that I do, these assumptions need to happen to know what to design against. I needed to make an imaginary reader—before I had any real ones—so I could write to them. I imagined this reader to be educated, whether institutionally or personal driven to learn, creative, and explorative in ways of improving themselves. I imagined someone who was technical and grasped the benefits of what technology brings, but viewed it from a humanistic manner. I pictured my reader to have taste and yearn for things to be beautiful and useful, constantly in search for things that functioned in a way that they could believe in and trust.

From what I can tell, whether what I’ve written has attracted that imaginary person or if you were here all along, I think that assumption has been right. Most of the people I’ve met online who read this are those things and you probably are too.

With an assumption of who you were I began writing. Over 12 months and 62,430 words1 so far, I’ve been figuring out my obsession and voice. Most of those posts came in in the form of essays: longer pieces with a more formal tone and structure. That type of writing has been helpful for me to form my ideas but are really hard to do. That type of post takes a lot of time and energy to write and edit. It can be exhausting and often leaves me feeling broken after.

That feeling is a good thing, I think. I guess it’s what you feel like when you break your own conceptions and let art happen. That’s a thing I want to keep seeking but I want to be able to write and share with you without feeling like I need to have a cigarette—and I don’t even smoke—or go on vacation after I write a long piece.

So I need to break the fourth wall.

Maybe I’ve been scared to be completely honest and that I’ve felt I can hide behind nice words and cerebral essays. I’ve found excuses to avoid talking metaphysically about the things I write here mainly because I’ve felt that the output of those wouldn’t be any help to anyone but me. I’ve painted poetic about a journey of becoming better without talking a whole lot about the times where I’ve felt stuck, lonely, and lost along the way—which happen frequently.

I don’t yet know what form you’ll see this next step in. I don’t think it will change the thread these articles have been following but maybe just come from a different perspective sometimes; discussing a place of struggle just as much as progress.


I also want to thank you.

Thanks for coming along on this journey so far and for sharing in my excitement for life and insanely great things. This past year, largely in part of what writing has lead me towards, has been incredible and the people I’ve connected with have made me really excited about exploring together for a long time to come. If you’ve been reading for a while or are just recent, we should chat on Twitter—I’m @nickwynja—or on the inadequately-named alpha.app.net. I always learn so much from conversations with smart people like yourself.


Derek Sivers, had this to say in a recent post comparing spending personal time locally or globally:

If you’re global, then you want to focus on creating things that can reach out through distribution to the whole world. But this means you’ll have less time to be part of your local community.

I want to be part of that and build something great. I believe me being more honest and open with you about my process of becoming and us sharing in a conversation about that will help us make something really cool together.


  1. Another benefit of publishing with a Dropbox-based platform is you can run shell commands, like wc on all your posts. 

Mindfulness of Concentration

Of all things we practice, our minds should be what we sharpen the most. Where many achievements require money or strength of body, strength of mind grants you more opportunity. Focus, simplicity, conciseness, attitude, respect—all are outcomes of a mind like water where your attention is adequate in the moment and your response is equal to the force.

Our minds often wander. This can lead to great discoveries about ourselves and is a time to process what’s in our heads. We need to put ourselves into moments where we can be bored so that our minds can explore and think. But we also need to be mindful of when concentration is the tool we need.

Maria Konnikova, in a piece for the New York Times,

When we are mindful, some of that attentional flightiness disappears as if of its own accord.

Attention is finite but we control our attention, with practice. It takes a lot of work, self control, and willingness to become better at it but wrangling yourself so your mind can be sharp and in the moment is a skill that is better employed than a deep working knowledge of software or systems.

That’s the thing about mindfulness. It seems to slow you down, but it actually gives you the resources you need to speed up your thinking.

Quicker thinking means getting things done faster. I don’t encourage rushing through it—mindfulness is the exact opposite. Using tools that let you work quicker, doesn’t necessarily mean the work is sloppier or done with less attention or finesse. It’s the same with the mind; you’ll move through thoughts quicker. It takes practice to get better and sitting meditation helps. I’ve learned a lot from Patrick Rhone and Leo Babauta who both think and write about these ideas.

If you’re looking at ways to be better as we flip the calendar, along side your tools and methods, focus your mind on concentration and you will gain a great power of potential over the things you do.

To Bow is to Thank and Respect

I’ve begun exploring the basic concepts of Zen through the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Zen has come up often in my readings this last year and I felt it was worth properly looking into. I don’t expect learning about Zen will change who I am but I think it will open up ideas and provide insight.

The book has introduced me to the concept of dualistic ideas. It’s complex but the basics as I understood is that things which we have semantic differences for—like mind and body, me and you, breath and vision—are actually one. We should be practicing without dualistic ideas.

At this point, the sceptic in me starts to push back on some of these “we’re all one energy” ideals until they begin to connect to something that’s relatable. This book teaches that meditation should be done in the lotus position so that “when we cross our legs like this, even though we have a right leg and a left leg, they have become one.” This symbolizes the oneness of the body and mind and puts our body in a “right”—meaning correct, not the opposite of left—position so that our mind can also be right. I give you this example of dualism as background.


In exploring Zen, I wanted to approach it in a way that connects the oft ancient parables and exemplar teachings to our modern world. This gem, a lesson on humility, can be lost unless modernized:

By bowing we are giving up ourselves. To give up ourselves means to give up our dualistic ideas.

Usually to bow means to pay our respects to something which is more worthy of respect than ourselves.

My understanding of these passages is this: when we bow, we get over our egotistical view of ourself and see that you and the person you are bowing to are equal; that you have things to learn from them and things to teach them. By bowing, we respect the person and the things they do. They are worthy just as we are.

Bowing isn’t culturally relevant to most of us but we can still acknowledge our respect to people through simply saying “thank you.”

Ever been thanked when you should be the one giving the gratitude? When it happens to me it brings a feeling of mutual regard. It shows that they think I bring some value which is worthy of some esteem. They don’t see dualism between themselves and me.

Giving up yourself—being humble—is a tool in getting things done. The reality for many is that doing good work requires permission. Being liked and respected by your peers grants you opportunities to do more and making strong mutual relationships gives you access to the people and resources you need to ship work you can’t do on your own.

Bow to the people around you and through thankfulness you will lead a simpler path of practice.