workspace-2004-and-2016
Decluttering, Minimalism, Musings, Technology

My Tech Workspace from 2004 to 2016

Every week, The Sweet Setup interviews an Apple aficionado about his or her computing environment. I enjoy looking at the the products, software, and workspaces these people use on a daily basis; it gives me ideas on what hardware or apps I might want to try out in the future. Plus, I like looking at photos of minimalist desks!

In the process of uploading all of my photos from Aperture over to Google Photos, I came across the photo below. It shows how my computing environment looked like twelve years ago on January 10, 2004. Nearly all of the technology items in the photo are now obsolete, have been recycled, or are gathering dust in my house. The items cost many thousands of dollars in total; I got great use out of some of them, not so much for others.

My workspace circa 2004

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The Minimalist Closet One Year Later
Decluttering, Minimalism

Minimalist Uniform Project – One Year Update

It has been one year since I began my minimalist uniform project. Previous updates featured my nearly empty closet and a check-in at month five. What’s new after a year?

A few weeks ago, I discovered a small hole in the back of my Wool & Prince button-down shirt. I sent photos to W&P customer service, and they sent me another one (which I will be altering to adjust the sleeves). Ultimately, they thought that the hole might be the result of a moth, as opposed to some defect in the shirt. In the meantime, I’m looking at ways to protect my wool shirts from being eaten by moths without using moth balls.

A moth is the likely culprit for this hole in my shirt.

A moth is the likely culprit.

When I take my other gray button-down to be altered, I’ll see if the tailor can repair the moth hole in my original.

Wool & Prince recently released a dressier version of the shirt with a spread collar. I am a bigger fan of this type of shirt over the button-down, and I see one in my future collection.

Over the past year, I bought some additional Icebreaker t-shirts that I was able to find on discount at either 6pm.com or REI Outlet. In addition to the gray short-sleeve shirt that I originally purchased, I added a red, heather gray, long-sleeved gray, and v-neck black Anatomicas to my closet. My original Anatomica shirt is showing signs of wear in the back. That’s to be expected, since I have worn it pretty much every time I went out. When it gets too shabby, I will turn it into an around-the-house or exercise shirt.

Icebreaker Black V-Neck Anatomica Shirt and Bluffworks Pants. Photo taken with prototype Light camera at Code Conference 2015.

Icebreaker Black V-Neck Anatomica Shirt and Bluffworks Pants. Photo taken with prototype Light camera at Code Conference 2015.

As for my two pairs of pants, I am surprised at how well the Levi’s Relaxed Fit 559 jeans have kept, as I haven’t washed them once since I bought it. I used to wash my jeans regularly and was frequently disappointed at (1) how quickly holes developed in the knee area and (2) how the fit got worse over time. I did lose an extra half-inch off my waistline, however, so the pants are a little looser today than when I purchased them. My Bluffworks pants have been reliable and remain relatively wrinkle-free. I still wish there was a 29/29 size option. If I were to buy them again, I’d get the 29/30 length and have the length altered to 29.

Having less clothes that also have reduced maintenance requirements has been great. Folding clothes after doing the laundry is a snap when there’s almost nothing of mine to fold! Finally, I’ve created another pile of clothes that I’ll be donating to Goodwill or Hope.

One year in, and I remain extremely pleased with the minimalist uniform project. I see no reason why I’ll stop in 2016.

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An update on my minimalist uniform project. Photo from Superior Court in San Jose, CA.
Decluttering, Minimalism

Minimalist Uniform Update – July 2015

It’s been five months since I started my minimalist uniform project, and I’m still wearing the same set of clothes when I go outside of the house.

After the first week, I got the sleeves shortened on the Wool & Prince button-down gray oxford shirt. It was also the first and last time it was dry-cleaned. Since then, I’ve worn the shirt out of the house whenever the weather is cooler or for business meetings. It has stayed relatively wrinkle free, stink free and clean. There’s some slight ring around the collar, but it’s barely noticeable; I’d imagine it’d be worse if I purchased one of Wool & Prince’s lighter colored shirts. I’m very happy with this shirt and would consider buying additional ones in the future; I just can’t decide which color I’d get!

Due to the warm weather we’ve been experiencing in the Bay Area, the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt continues to get more use than the button-down. I ran a half-marathon in Laguna Niguel in the middle of February wherein the shirt got drenched with sweat. Yet, after washing it in the sink and air drying, I was happy to smell no stink from the shirt! I have since added a a black v-neck Anatomica and a gray long sleeved Anatomica1 to my collection after finding a 40% off deal online. One negative with the Anatomica shirt is that they are prone to tearing due to their thinness. I poked out a small hole underneath the left arm area in the gray shirt. It’s not noticeable when I wear it, and I’ve been more careful when I put it on and take it off so as not to make the hole bigger.

I've been wearing the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt more because of the hot weather in the Bay Area.

I’ve been wearing the Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt more because of the hot weather in the Bay Area.

As for the pants, I continue to rotate between the Bluff Works pants and the Levi’s 559 jeans. I have washed the Bluff Works a couple of times but the Levi’s have remained unwashed. Bluff Works recently released relaxed fit and Chino styles to their lineup. The regular fit pants fit me well standing up, but they can get a little tight when I sit down or kneel. I’m curious to see if the relaxed fit pants are better without looking too baggy.

The Scottevest Hidden Cargo Pants, unfortunately, are too large around the waist and legs, even after getting them altered. I haven’t worn them at all and have relegated them to my emergency clothes kit. Scottevest pants start at 30/30, and I’d prefer a 29/28 or 29/28, so it’s unlikely I’ll be ordering any more pants from them until they offer smaller sizes.

The biggest news is that I’ve donated one of my two boxes of clothes to Goodwill this afternoon. That’s right, I’ve cut the cord with half of the clothes that I’ve worn for the past decade and a half.

Two boxes enter, one box leaves!

Two boxes enter, one box leaves!

Left in the remaining box are some t-shirts for doing yard work and for lounging around the house, a couple pairs of pants for house work, a couple of shirts that I could use for exercising in cooler weather, two scarves and some knit caps. I certainly don’t need those clothes seeing that it’s been five months since I last looked at the clothes, but I decided to give them a reprieve for now. Gone are several pairs of pants that no longer fit me, six button-down shirts, a hoodie, and numerous free t-shirts that I’ve accumulated over the years.

The box of clothes that I donated to Goodwill this afternoon.

The box of clothes that I donated to Goodwill this afternoon.

It’s been great to not have to think about what outfit I’m going to wear each day. How long will this Minimalist Uniform Project go? I see no reason to stop, so I’ll keep this going for the rest of the year. Onward!


1 I’m still wearing the gray Anatomica more than the other two Anatomica shirts. When the weather is too warm for the W&P but still cool, I’ll wear the long sleeved Anatomica. The black is there to alternate with the gray.

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My minimalist closet. On the right are all the clothes that I will wear. On the left are dress clothes and my former clothes.
Decluttering, Exercise, Minimalism

The Minimalist Closet

It’s been a week since I started my minimalist uniform project; it’s going well, but I’ve made a few tweaks into the plan. First, I decided that having fifty cotton t-shirts to wear around the house defeated the purpose of the project. So, I found a deal on an Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Short Sleeve Crew T-Shirt on Amazon1. The Anatomica is also made from merino wool, with a little lycra to give it a nice form-fitting stretch. The t-shirt in Monsoon gray color (last year’s edition) was on sale for $38.99, which is $30 cheaper than the Wool & Prince t-shirt. Sold. The Icebreaker now goes with the button-down oxford in my rotation of shirts that I’ll wear on a daily basis.

I’m a size small, but I’ll take the medium, please

This Miyajima deer doesn't care for the fact that I have worn baggy and ill-fitted clothes for many years, but I do!

This Miyajima deer doesn’t care for the fact that I have worn baggy clothes the past several years, but I do!

As I looked back on old photos of me from high school, college, and my adult years, I realized I wore a lot of clothes that were often one size too big. As I thought about why I would do this for twenty or more years, I concluded that it was to avoid accepting the fact that I had a small frame. I bought shirts in medium or larger to look bigger, but that decision just made it appear that I either (1) liked baggy clothes or (2) had little fashion sense (probably both!). Sadly, as the years went by and pounds added up, those medium shirts and jackets began to fit better.

Read the rest of this post and see the minimalist closet in action

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Wearing my new personal uniform while doing pull-ups at the local park.
Decluttering, Journal, Minimalism, Travel

My Minimalist Uniform Project for 2015

Since my exercise and weight loss journey began in the middle of 2014, I have lost about five inches off my waist (34 inches to 29 inches). That custom tailored double-breasted suit from Hong Kong that I got in the summer of 1995? I’m glad that style is coming back into fashion because the muffin top is gone, and the suit fits me again! Those durable North Face shorts I wore on my Desolation Wilderness backpacking trips in the late 90s and early 2000s but hid in my closet the last decade because they had gotten too tight? Time to start planning another backpacking trip because they’re loose and comfy now!

Getting my suit fitted and adjusted in Hong Kong circa 1994. After my weight loss, it fits again!

Getting my suit fitted and adjusted in Hong Kong circa 1994. After my weight loss, it fits again!

Seeing that the clothes I’ve been wearing the past several years are now too big, I’m jumping head-first into this sartorial opportunity to do something I’ve long wanted to do but was afraid to commit to: creating a minimalist uniform for myself. I’ve been inspired by people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama and others who have adopted a minimalist clothing approach or a personal uniform. They’ve chosen to wear the same or identical clothes every day in order to concentrate on the things that are most important to them instead of wasting time on deciding what to wear. While my daily decisions don’t yet affect the financial future of multi-billion, multi-national companies nor the fate of the free world, I can still benefit from simplifying my life and freeing myself of the clothing decision every day.

Read more on my Minimalist Uniform Project

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Decluttering, Travel

Saying No To Freebies (And When To Say Yes)

Along with lightweight travel, I have been reading sites on no impact and clutter free living. One of the things at I have been trying to improve at is determining when to say yes or no to freebies. Like many people, I have a soft spot for those free items handed out at conferences and on flights. When you stop to think about it, however, most of these items ultimately end up in the same place, the trash. Take this flight that I was just on. The stewardesses had been going up and down the aisles, handing out free drinks in plastic cups along with straws and napkins. Bea over on Zero Waste Home talks how on many airlines, even the recyclable items often end up in the trash bin. In the end, I declined the free drink and the snack. I do have some work to do, as I am drinking water from a disposable water bottle. At least we will continue to refill it throughout this trip. For our trip to Australia, we will bring our own water bottle from home.

Of course, there are times when you have to seize the opportunity to get something good for free. For example, this morning, we were in the Milwaukee Airport, awaiting our flight to Boston. We heard on the PA system that they were looking for volunteers to give up their seats. In return, travelers were offered free roundtrip tickets. With our open travel plan today, there was no reason to say no to this offer! These tickets will come in handy in the next year as we plan additional screening dates for Autumn Gem.

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Decluttering, Journal, Tech, Travel

Lightweight Travel to Maine

Rae and I are at SFO right now, awaiting our red-eye flight to Boston. We are headed to Maine for a Labor Day weekend wedding at which we will be the photographers. For the past several years, I have endeavored to lighten our luggage on all our our travels. While I didn’t think it was a problem at the time, I seriously overpacked when I was studying in France during college. I brought way too many clothes packed into two suitcases and a garment bag. In addition, I had a backpack and a laptop with me in the City of Lights.

Since then, I have flipped to the other side of the equation. I am constantly looking for better ways to pare down my luggage load. This trip is a little different in that we are bringing a lot of photophores gear to Maine. Still,we are not checking in any luggage on our flights. Some of my photo gear and laptop are stored in a LowePro CompuTrekker AW backpack. The tripod, camera bodies, some lenses, and accessories are in a Pelican 1510 hard case. Rae is carrying all of the clothing in a soft bag that’s backpack sized.

Why travel so light is a question I have been asked before. While I get to save a few dollars avoiding the airline check-in baggage fees, the main reason is that I enjoy having everything with me at all times. There’s a certain sense of freedom and liberty when you don’t have to lug and drag tons of stuff with you everywhere. Rae and I still remember all the steps we ascended and descended in the Paris metro stations; it’s not a good memory to have! From that point forward, both of us have followed a minimalist approach to travel. Furthermore, I enjoy the challenge of reducing what I bring to the bare essentials.

We are about to board the airplane, so I’ll be signing off now. We have some new gear to test on this trip, which I will describe in a future post on this site or on the Autumn Gem site. Stay tuned!

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