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A Work-a-holic in the Land of the Retired

Twenty years ago, up in NE Vermont, I and my five-man crew, were clearing my pasture of the trees that had grown up in it. Evenings we would cook dinner in the big house on the former commune down the mountain. People would come by to socialize. One of them, not a member of the crew, joked about how skinny my arms were. The captain of the crew jumped to my defense, "Yes, but each of those tendons is like a steel cable."

I'm not hucking brush anymore, but I am working just as hard. Now I'm building a new type of internet, digital town squares, first here in San Miguel and then around the world.

You know me from San Miguel Events and now San Miguel Sunday. But we are ready to launch (starting here in SMA):
a community directory / a local search engine -
make a page, choose your hashtags and people find your page when they search those tags, like the Yellow Pages for the new millenium;
an interactive city map -
search seafood, live music, places of interest, chocolate... and see results appear as icons on the map, hover over those icons and see more, click the link there and jump to the page of that establishment;
a forum and more.

For the extranjeros (gringos) SMA is a retirement community. Upwards of 90% of us are retired. I am fond of saying that if you've got nothing to do, this is a good place to do it. A couple (no longer resident) came down from Colorado. He was a hired gun, brought in by hospitals to talk truth to power, an efficiency expert whose job it was to confront the bosses. She was a singer, a Cantor at her synagogue. She was to perform at our synagogue here. He complained to me of the inefficiency of those who were in charge of producing the show. I told him with a patronizing smile, "You don't understand. If everything goes smoothly in the morning, then they have nothing to do in the afternoon."

Maybe some of us, after a lifetime of doing something that we didn't like doing, are happy to do nothing. Maybe some of us have become infected with a that Mexican lackadaisical / mañana attitude." Me, I'm inspired. If you had a project that would, by strengthening community, go far to making this world a better place (and make you a fortune at the same time) how hard would you work? I go to bed feeling like I am going to change the world. (Think internet as a public utility, like electricity or water or public television.) What do you dream of? With all the do-gooders in our community, I'm surprised that more of you aren't asking to get involved.

The dozen or so years during which I had my property in Vermont, people would occasionally ask me, "How long have you lived in Vermont?" I would reply, "That depends on how you count," meaning that I was mostly resident only during the milder seasons. One fellow, before I could go on, responded to my "That depends on how you count," by sating, "I count: one, two, three, four..."

So, depending on how you count, I have 4-5 employees (none of whom are working full-time) and a few more who are not being compensated in cash. Jessica Antonelli of Draw San Miguel and Greg Reitman of Yo San Miguel Gallery, for example are curating San Miguel Sundays magazine's art section, because it is a great platform to publicize their projects and they understand the power of community.

schedule schedule

The team is pumped. The 4-5 who are more involved with the project believe whole-heartedly in the local and global potential of Lokkal. We are loco for Lokkal. When I was more or less alone (my first associate, my first programmer is on the Canary Islands), every now and then I would question my mania. But now, with four other associates here in San Miguel, all sharing my passion, I am comforted. Madness likes company.

Friends tell me that I work too much, and they're right. But, really, it depends on what you mean by "too hard." Does an artist at work in her studio into the wee hours work too hard? How about an author who rises before dawn to write? Frankly, when I can't get back to sleep at 3am, I like to have some work to do. And, like a visual artist or a writer, I get a lot of satisfaction from what I do.

Steve Jobs worked too much. I read that before his death he advised that if you have enough money for you and your children, then, unlike him, you should stop trying to make more and go do something else.

Peter Thiel, who cofounded PayPal, by all apearances works too much. He certainly has enough money. Besides Paypal, as Facebook's first outside investor he acquired 10% of the company for $500,000 and sold his shares eight years later for over $1 billion. Yet, he keeps investing. I'm listening to him on Youtube (not all my work requires all my concentration) for the last few weeks. He is very disappointed in the advance of technology, and only a little less disappointed in computer technology: most people just use computers to "throw angry birds at pigs" or be "mayor of some non-existent town." He believes society is stuck or going backwards.

Rarely, stuck to the keyboard, I envy those people who spend their time entertaining themselves. But then I consider that my cooking is better than whatever restaurant they are going to today, and that really, there's nothing worth watching on television.

More frequently I ask myself, what would I be doing if I weren't devoting 60 hours a week to Lokkal? write another book? read more? learn something about music? The truth is, that with all my associates on board, I am working less, maybe only 50 hours each week. And, with their youthful enthusiasm burning brighter and brighter, I am giving up the reins more and more. Young folks are better at this internet thing.

Very recently I've been dog-sitting for a friend. I've always felt that a dog is too much responsibility. But I find that I really enjoy dropping everything to take her for a walk. Maybe there is something to this retirement thing after all?

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photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr. David welcomes you to San Miguel Sunday. Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact him at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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