Hello, dear thinker and doer, and welcome to this portion of my mind in written form, my journal on how to create and live independently. I’m Alexis, it’s very nice to meet you.
If you are a writer or a programmer or just got a passion and a pulse—no niche here, I know—you may find some of my stories and ideas interesting.
I called this space Zinibu because a 7-second search in 2010 revealed that as the Latvian word for knowledge but as I rewrite this introduction in 2019 Google Translate tells me that Zinibu is Swahili for parties.
The hell I’m going to do now? Have had the domain for almost a decade and printed a million business cards that nobody will take for fear of looking like a troglodyte. Besides, after the Web 2.0 folks ate all the vowels I’m lucky to have three.
So, a party of knowledge then? Pronounce it as “zee-nee-boo” with a stressed first syllable.
Who are you?
I'm a self-taught programmer and writer who works in the Internet software industry and lives in the New York City metro area.
I started playing Atari 2600 games in the ‘80s and moved on to tinkering with software and computers in my teens. It took me a long time to figure out how to do something useful but eventually The Man started paying me to answer some questions and build stuff.
I'm an insatiable reader who craves good stories and well-thought nonfiction. I also watch plenty of flicks and documentaries; throw some words at me and I’ll tell you the name of that guy in that movie.
I don't believe in deities or luck but in critical thinking and education. I despise tribalism, I’m interested in certain forms of anarchism and have a bizarre relationship with capitalism.
I have hemophilia, a genetic disorder that’s very useful to break the ice in crowded rooms. Don’t worry, I won’t bleed to death while shaving.
I play guitar but I suck at it so I keep on practicing and learning. Every chord I strum fills me with joy.
I enjoy photography with real cameras and I’m not okay with the popularity of phones and selfies.
Coffee some mornings. Red wine once in a while. Beer? Give it to me now.
I work remote from home. I. Fucking. Love. It.
Zinibu is a collection of stories and ideas that I’ve crafted to catch your attention and, I hope, to inspire you to take risks and strive for a better life.
Some topics you’ll find:
- How we learn and other interesting bits from the field of cognitive science.
- Software development and systems design, with an emphasis on open source.
- Finances for regular people (less than a million bucks? Yep, you’re regular).
- The art and the craft of telling stories and publishing them.
- Remote work and productivity.
- Anarchism, self-reliance and escaping from The Man.
- The future, aliens, robots and our imperfect human nature.
- A tint of bullshit-free philosophy.
- Whatever may end up on my reading list, from killer ants to advice from trappers in the taiga.
One more thing, you’ll encounter mentions of The Man (one right up) and they (“they’ll tell you it’s a tradition everybody follows, suck it”) in my writing. These terms all refer to a variation of the same: the rules, hierarchies and figures of authority that relentlessly try to govern your life.
Why are you doing this?
I’ve lived long enough to make plenty of mistakes, get one or two things right, and pick up a few lessons.
Paradoxically, after writing for computers for so long, I’ve become familiar with how my Homo sapiens brothers and sisters behave so it’s time to start writing for them and applying some software engineering to the task.
Fortunately for you, dubious reader, this is the second time in my life that I assume the role of publisher and author. I had a foray into nonfiction in 2006, back when all websites were called blogs—even the ones that weren’t blogs. It wasn’t that bad, well, at least not baby-xenomorph-coming-out-of-your-chest bad.
You’ll be fine.
Give me your time and attention and I’ll give you stuff to think about.
That’s the contract; I’ll do my best to fulfill it with carefully crafted, clear writing.
I’ll spice it up with silly jokes to establish my role as just another good guy Greg; I’ll keep it snappy, and even if you may find a little lingo and stupid references, worry not, you’ll still grok me.
If any of these tiny bits of thinking encourages you to set sail on your own journey, that’s more than enough for me.