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Open Comment Thread

I just wanted to say I haven’t updated in a while because I’ve been sick, but I’ve had a lot going on with school, work, and family too.

Does anyone want to add a comment on this post? Just go to the comment form and leave your name, email, URL if you have one, and a comment of any length.

Please use your real name and email. I delete all advertisements, non-English comments, and spam on sight, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you.

You can talk about whatever you want — my website, my photography, your website, your photography, your life, school, work, family, whatever. Just keep it interesting and don’t post one big block of text — use paragraph breaks by inserting a blank line between paragraphs.

Thanks,
Richard

Low-Profile Living

Note: On January 19, 2017, my Google Voice number 510-936-2417 became a victim of Caller ID spoofing. A robo-caller or other scammer is placing calls from a different phone number but portraying their caller ID (callback) number as my number. Evidently, this is very easy for scammers to do and there is nothing I can do about it.

Basically, if you have a website with your name in the URL, you are not living a low-profile life. I should probably change my website from richardxthripp.thripp.com to something that isn’t my real legal name, but I have no intention of doing so. In this article I would just like to talk about the mindset and benefits of low-profile living.

When I talk about keeping a low profile, I’m not talking about having a fake I.D., not using Google, or shielding yourself from corporations or governments. I mean shielding yourself from ordinary people. I consider it perfectly normal to give out my Google Voice phone number to people I meet at work, college, events, or shopping, but many people restrict their phone number to close friends. While I use a fake last name on Facebook, I only started this recently and still list my real last name as an alternative so people can find me. Most chilling of all, my home address is still listed on all my domain registration records. I really need to get a P.O. box, but I don’t want to pay every year for it, and I don’t want to risk putting a fake address on my domains because that is technically grounds for domain seizure by the ICANN, Verisign, or GoDaddy.

However, many people don’t even share their home address or personal details with close friends or romantic partners. Some people don’t even have phone or email―you have to go to their house or write a letter to get in touch with them. Other people live in the wilderness, such as rural North Carolina, where they are mostly cut off from modern life. I’ve lived a stone’s throw from Daytona Beach all my life, so it’s difficult to imagine being thirty minutes from the nearest Walmart.

Though I didn’t list it in my resolutions, one of my resolutions for 2011 is to maintain a higher level of secrecy. This is mostly in regard to my website, Facebook, Twitter, acquaintances, and satellite friends, which I define as friends who are primarily my friends because they know at least one of my close friends well. For family and close friends, I am actually being more open. It’s just important to keep mutually unwanted friends out.

I thought of the phrase “mutually unwanted” because last month I tried to open a checking account at Bank of America and found I am on the ChexSystems blacklist for fraudulent activity. I looked it up, and several websites described it as being a list of “mutually unwanted customers” which is basically a cartel of banks that have banded together through this third-party, non-governmental company. This really sucks, because it means I can’t open a checking account at any bank that uses ChexSystems for the next five years. I don’t even know why I’m on the list―I haven’t had any overdrawn accounts or illegal activity, and I doubt anyone stole my identity since my credit score is fine and I haven’t lost any money from my accounts with other banks. I submitted an appeal both by phone and their website, and they said I would get a letter within 5 business days, but that was before Christmas and nothing has come yet.

You could say Bank of America, BB&T, and other banks are being low-profile by using ChexSystems. Instead of welcoming new customers with open arms, they use a shady background service that doesn’t even work right most of the time, and they put absolute faith in it. From one perspective, this is an abundance mindset―they are implying I don’t matter because there are plenty of other people who want to be their customers. It’s depressing, but they’re probably right. Unless you are very wealthy, famous, or both, you’re just a number to anyone but your family and closest friends. Even your medium-close friends will often turn out to be “fair weather” friends when you have trouble in life. They won’t be there to loan you money or bail you out of jail. They’ll just disappear.

Similarly, peripheral friends you share sensitive information with might screw you over. If you tell everyone you are burning garbage in your yard, an environmentalist ninny might squeal to the police. If zinc prices go up and you start melting down pennies, be careful because you could get five years prison if you keep a high profile. If you buy a car for $3000 but report to the DMV you paid $1000 to save on sales tax, don’t tell anyone you don’t know for real because they might work for the State. Being discreet is just common sense.

When you see stories about people going to jail for making Twitter updates about blowing up planes from their cell phones at the airport, realize that they are not Constitutional issues nor civil rights issues. They are stupidity issues. The Constitution is just four sheets of paper. It doesn’t mean a damn thing in 2011, just as it didn’t in 1865. No law or contract is worth anything more than the paper it’s printed on. All that matters is human behavior and human relationships, and this is why bookworms get in so much trouble. They have book smarts, not real smarts. They share too much information and they don’t know psychology. If you think paper can stop a bullet, you’re living in fantasy-land… unless it’s 100 cases of paper, which might be able to stop a bullet. :smile:

Last month, I started a campaign to remove my Google Voice number from every public website. My new Google Voice number is 510-936-2417, and I feel perfectly safe giving it out, because it always goes to voicemail. I still use the old 386 number, and it still goes directly to my parents’ landline, but I don’t want to share it even though I can block numbers, because I don’t want nutcases waking my step-mom up at 3am. While I know the old number is still in the Google cache, Web archive, and other places because it used to be on this website, I’m confident these will disappear eventually, except the web archive which will require special attention. I’ve already changed my 100+ domains to the new 510 number.

Note: On January 19, 2017, my Google Voice number 510-936-2417 became a victim of Caller ID spoofing. A robo-caller or other scammer is placing calls from a different phone number but portraying their caller ID (callback) number as my number. Evidently, this is very easy for scammers to do and there is nothing I can do about it.

In some ways, being low-profile lends an air of exclusivity to friendship with you. Only your close friends know sensitive information about you such as your address, home phone number, family, and workplace. These friends feel more valued and special because they know you have given them more trust than the general public. Furthermore, every deterrent increases your chances of attracting good friends who appreciate you for who you are rather than the public image you project. Then, you can be even more trusting with your inner circle, because they will value your privacy just as you do.

On Facebook, I am now using a baby picture as my photo. This means people who are not my friends only get to see a photo of me that is from 1992, so they don’t even know what I currently look like unless they visit this website or know me in person. Surprisingly, most of my close friends don’t even care about richardxthripp.com, nor have they visited it. It’s quite surprising how average college students don’t care about personal websites. All they do is text and Facebook. Even email is a burden.

When you raise your standards and stop sharing dangerous information with the world, stalking becomes a much smaller problem. Every day, women who display themselves in low-cut blouses, string bikinis, or sexual poses on MySpace or Facebook complain about “creepy people” stalking them, and handsome men complain about friend requests from strangers when they display themselves shirtless. A simple lesson in modesty solves these issues. You don’t have to exhibit yourself to the delight of perverts and stalkers, and if you do, it looks stupid and real people don’t want to be friends with you. It’s entirely possible to have a MySpace or Facebook displaying no photos of yourself, if all your friends know what you look like offline and you tell them not to post pictures of you.

Talking about your income sources, family, heritage, religion, political views, assets, tattoos, or relationships is also completely unnecessary. You can have intriguing and detailed conversations without revealing anything important about yourself. Instead of talking about sensitive topics, talk about your hobbies, your favorite movies, sports, current events, or what your friends are doing. When someone else shares something private about their life, you have no obligation to reciprocate. They probably don’t want to hear about your life anyway. Most people prefer talking about themselves. If you indulge them, not only will you be living more privately, but you will be establishing better friendships by listening without interrupting.

Finally, it is very important to respect the privacy of others and never gossip, even if other people encourage it. I’ve recently lost a close friend over this, and it has been a wake-up call for me to re-evaluate what kind of person I want to be. At the same time, I believe in second chances and always grant them if the other person is sincere, not just because I expect to be treated fairly in return, but because being forgiving is the right thing to do.

Thripp 2010 Postmortem

When I launched my 20-week Thripp 2010 project on 2010-08-15, I set goals that were way too lofty and I didn’t reach many of them. I did post 80 new photos on this site, 40 on Thripp.com, a few new piano compositions, and 55 comics, but my original goals were much higher. Also, my Alexa rank plummeted from 60K to 90K when I wanted to increase it to 40K. I don’t know why my traffic is declining so much, but I must assume it is because I haven’t been writing any hard-hitting articles. Also, I haven’t released a new version of Tweet This in over 2 months, though I am keeping up with all support requests. Next time, I will set my sights lower.

My three goals were:

1. Get 50,000 absolute unique visitors in total for the three sites (track with Google Analytics).
2. Earn $2000 in Google AdSense revenues (including other sites such as Th8.us).
3. Increase the Alexa ranking of Thripp.com to 40,000.

I met only the first two, and #2 won’t even be confirmed until Google pays me my final payment after having my original account banned for undisclosed policy violations. Fortunately, it wasn’t click fraud, so they let me make a new account, but the $570 Google owes me won’t be paid out until Feb. 10, if at all. Google is very good at holding grudges and cutting off communications. No one will answer my phone calls or emails.

Amazon.com owes me about $720 in affiliate commissions for Nov. and Dec. 2010, but they use a net-60 payment schedule so I won’t be paid for those months until Jan. 30 and Feb. 28, 2011, approximately. Provided the $1290 comes in, I beat $2000 easily, thanks to other advertising and some generous donations.

For #1, Google Analytics reports 77,613 “Absolute Unique Visitors” for the period from Aug. 16 – Dec. 31, 2010 on the richardxthripp.thripp.com domain ONLY. Counting my other domains and web properties, I got 100K visitors easily. This goal was a breeze.

For #3, my Alexa rank and traffic is way down now. Normally, I get 20K visitors a month, but in the past month I have only gotten 15K. I am going to work on Tweet This and get a new version out this month, which should prevent Thripp.com’s Alexa rank from falling above 100K. As I wrote in Consolidation, ComposersJourney.com and Iseeafish.com are going to be consolidated under the Thripp.com domain, though I have now decided they will be separate sites. My current plan is to move them to music.thripp.com and comic.thripp.com sometime in February. My URL shortener Th8.us actually has a higher Alexa rank at 82K now, but I will not be moving it under the Thripp.com umbrella because the whole point of a URL shortener is to have a very short domain. Thripp.com is 10 characters — Th8.us is only 6. I do feel quite lucky to have a one-syllable pronounceable root domain that is as short as google.com and shorter than facebook.com by 2 characters, and it has the added benefit of being my legal last name and the last name of at least 200 people in the U.K. and Australia.

On a personal note, my life has been very busy lately. I’ve had my driver’s license for 6 weeks now and have been going out at least 4 days a week, either to college, grocery shopping, the bank, running errands, and even a night club. I have been hired by Daytona State College to be a math, science, and English tutor at the Academic Support Center at building 500 for 11 hours a week starting Thursday, Jan. 20, so I am getting ready for that. I won a generous scholarship from the Dana Rodman Tiffany Scholarship Fund, and I am graduating with my A.A. in Elementary Education this semester and am laying the groundwork to go into Daytona State’s B.S. program in the same major, having fully committed to not pursuing a degree in Computer Science. I still love PHP, MySQL, HTML, and CSS, but I don’t have the patience for C++, Java, algorithms, theories, and all that jazz.

I have founded my own micronation called the Thripp Republic, and though it has no officers or citizens yet, I have my own currency of which I have given away 1385 one dollar bills so far, and I am fully capable of running this entire operation myself. The Thripp Dollar is worth only 1/5000 troy oz. silver, so $1385 THR is only $7.95 USD, seeing that the spot price of silver closed at $28.69 an ounce on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011. I think it will go up next week. I’m proud of my work on the Thripp Constitution and Thripp Bank.

While I spent the first half of 2010 depressed and not accomplishing anything, 2011 is going to be completely different. I’m not going to be working at a blazing pace, but I will be persistent and will likely achieve world fame by the end of the year. I am going to be leaving for China and California all summer (May – Aug.) and may go to Puerto Rico for spring break, so I’m not going to launch more projects until the fall. However, I will be working on photography and writing, and I will probably produce more output in the first four months of 2011 than I did in all of 2010.

I want to work on myself a lot this year, including my mind, body, and spirit. I have lost several key friends recently by violating their trust, and I must be careful and show more respect in the future. While I still consider myself a very public person, other people cherish a high degree of privacy and I must respect that. Similarly, large corporations such as Google, Facebook, and the U.S. government should do the same with their denizens, though they usually don’t care at all, unfortunately.

This week, my Dad turns 50. It’s quite a milestone, and I hope he doesn’t feel old. I have a nice card for him that my Grandma gave me to give him for his 49th birthday, but I forgot last year. The march of time never stops… sometimes I even feel old at 19.

I’m learning the viola. It’s not much different from the violin, but the finger spacing and strings are different, and the instrument is larger and deeper. I got a saxophone, but need to get someone to look at it because it sounds awful. I’ve had a cold for the past 10 days which is lingering in my chest, so wind instruments have been off-limits for over a week.

I am looking forward to what the universe brings me in 2011, though I know it won’t all be positive.

Welcome to the Thripp Republic

The Thripp Republic is a new micronation founded by Richard X. Thripp on Jan. 3, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida with its own constitution and currency (the Thripp Dollar). In the future, there will be a Senate, Supreme Court, citizenship applications and benefits, free markets, and other fun yet serious things.

The Thripp Dollar is backprinted on 4×6 prints of artistic photographs by Richard X. Thripp. Currently, over 8000 one dollar notes have been printed and are generally distributed by Richard X. Thripp himself to students and faculty at Daytona State College.

The Thripp Dollar is worth 1/5000 troy oz. silver. This means that as of Jan. 3, 2011, one U.S. Dollar is equal to about 160 Thripp Dollars.

For more information, please visit the website I have set up at gov.thripp.com. :smile:

2011 Resolutions

Most people abandon their new year’s resolutions before February, not because the resolutions are impossible, but because it’s easier to maintain the status quo. Resolutions are appealing in theory and execution, but usually require sacrifice in practice.

The key is to either be committed, or set extremely vague resolutions like “be more forgiving” or “exercise more.” Resolutions like “lose 30 pounds” or “stop smoking” are much harder to fulfill.

In 2011, I am going to finish my A.A. degree, travel to China and California for three months with my Mom, and start on my B.S. in the fall. I’m going to start a micronation called the Thripp Republic and print Thripp Dollars on the back of 4×6 photos (I have nearly 10,000 already). I am going to be a math tutor at Daytona State College and I am investing most of my money in precious metals, common metals, and material goods, because the U.S. dollar is going to suffer massive inflation (possibly 30%) next year. I plan to learn the guitar, viola, and saxophone, code and release Tweet This 1.9 and 2.0, and work on creating photos that are as well-received as my 2006-2008 portfolio by breaking the rules and using more Photoshop.

I also want to release a sequel to Inferno and sell off all my web domains except about 40 personal domains.

I plan to do a great deal of writing in 2011, but I don’t plan to find a girlfriend or start a photography business, since I will be doing a lot of traveling and don’t want to be tied down. However, I will be doing a lot of networking and meeting many new friends in Florida, California, and China. I plan to create a social network around the Thripp Dollar, so I need to learn the Facebook Application Platform and write my own application. I already have the MySQL and PHP backend done, but nothing on the frontend.

Before I leave in May, I want to start learning Mandarin Chinese. My Mom is Chinese so she can help me.

I am going to continue living with my parents (Dad and step-mom) and driving my Dad’s vehicle throughout 2011, because my income is still very low (under $1000 per month). I would like to make more, but it isn’t a priority.

Even though I am overweight (170 lb. at 5’9″), I’ve decided not to go on a special diet, but I will avoid gaining more weight. As with the past 17 months, I’m going to continue being a vegetarian except fish, and I’m considering a 30-day trial in veganism. Here’s a picture of me playing the violin from this week, but I got a haircut since then:

Dec. 2010 self-portrait

This is the flag I’ve designed for the Thripp Republic:

Flag of the Thripp Republic

This flag is really wonderful, because it can be printed on a monochrome laser printer or drawn with a Sharpie. It is also unique, because I could not find any other country using a black-white-black tricolor flag.

In 2011, my Dad will be turning 50 in January and I will be turning 20 in August. While I was very unproductive in the first half of 2010, I plan to work at a steady pace throughout 2011, without overburdening myself. I will work on selling the unsold copies of Along the Far Climb Down, my father’s book from 2006 (all new copies say 2011). If you live in the USA and want a copy, send me your mailing address and $5.00 by PayPal. For foreigners, email me and I’ll look up the shipping rate (the book is 6×9, 96 pg., 6 oz.).

Happy new year everyone!

Photo: Toad

Photo: Toad

A photogenic toad near our house… he did not hop away even after I took this picture. As you can see from the drops on the toad and blades of grass, it had just been raining.

Happy New Year everyone! 2011 is going to be a revolutionary year.

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/30, F2.8, 5.8mm, ISO100, 2006-02-03T15:12:58-05, 2006-02-03_15h12m58

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Contrail Reflected

Photo: Contrail Reflected

An airplane producing a contrail reflected on the shiny side of a compact disc… I’m so creative. :grin:

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/323, F3.1, 7mm, ISO64, 2006-02-01T16:39:38-05, 2006-02-01_16h39m38

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Sexy Flowers

Photo: Sexy Flowers

Pink flowers covered in drops of water… from rain or a medicine dropper?

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/30, F2.8, 5.8mm, ISO100, 2006-02-03T10:59:13-05, 2006-02-03_10h59m13

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Golden Sunset

Photo: Golden Sunset

A typical sunset in Ormond Beach! I made the colors bolder and added contrast.

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/556, F6.7, 12.1mm, ISO64, 2006-01-27T17:44:59-05, 2006-01-27_17h44m59

Location: 1832 Nelson Ave., Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7228

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Photo: Claws of Death

Photo: Claws of Death

Sharpened pencils taped to my fingers to form deadly claws which would probably just fall off if I actually used them…

Fujifilm FinePix A360, 1/526, F4.7, 5.8mm, ISO64, 2006-01-26T17:25:59-05, 2006-01-26_17h25m59

Location: Thripp Residence, Ormond Beach, FL  32174-7227

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

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