Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”

– Mary Anne Radmacher


Featured artist: Gabriel Maragaño

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 106!

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Luckily, I have never been in the situation where I needed to religiously track budgets or analyse my personal expenses. I always assumed that I had a pretty good grasp on how much I spend and on what. In typical, privileged German fashion, I’ve been taught to run my personal finances very conservatively: always be saving, never be borrowing.

In March this year I installed a little tool* that hooks into my bank and credit card accounts to track my outgoings. Seeing my expenses broken up into different categories and having a few months of data to go through is really powerful. I know I’m really late to the game of personal budget trackers, but I can now see how life-changing these tools can be, especially for those struggling to make ends meet.

Since we’ve been in some form of lockdown here in Melbourne for almost half a year, there currently aren’t too many ways to spend money – unless you’re the trigger-happy online shopper, which I’m not. The picture I get from looking at these charts is that of a life with non-essential consumption put on hold. So what I learned isn’t necessarily where I spend too much, but with how little I can actually get by.

Obviously, I don’t want to continue living in pandemic isolation forever. But knowing how much/little is required to put my life into a restrained, but comfortable hibernation mode is kind of reassuring. And it makes me wonder again how much money I really need and what I could do with my time if it’s not so occupied with trying to make more money. – Kai

* I use a free, somewhat messy tool called Money Brilliant, which is optimised for Australian banks. There are tons of options out there, though. Just search for ‘personal budget tracker’.

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Apps & Sites

Imprint →

Blogging platform

Another independent blogging platform, promising content ownership, no paywalls, and no ads. It’s great to see so many efforts to ‘bring blogging back’. The more the merrier, I’d say, though blogging (as a publishing tool) never went away. Wordpress (both the .com and the .org versions) are as available and powerful as ever.

Meta Tags →

Social share preview

I’ve been using this handy little tool to preview what Dense Discovery links look like when shared on different platforms.

BitBar →

Custom macOS menu bar items

“BitBar lets you put the output from any script/program in your Mac OS X Menu Bar.” Install the app first, then add your own script or pick from a directory of existing plugins.

Reji →

Vocabulary builder

Building up a base vocabulary when you’re learning a new language takes time and repetition. Reji makes creating your own database of words easy, fast and fun.


Worthy Five: Paul Jarvis


Five recommendations by author and co-founder of Fathom Analytics, Paul Jarvis

A book worth reading:

Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers explores a simple question: ‘What’s worth doing?’

A video worth watching:

Marshall Shorts’ talk on Blackness, branding and design. As a designer, this spoke to issues around race in a language I completely understood.

A recipe worth trying:

Hand-Pulled Lamian Noodles from Serious Eats: a great way to combine science and fun in the kitchen.

A podcast worth listening to:

The Scaredy Cats Horror Show from Gimlet is a five-part series attempting to determine if a person too scared to watch horror movies can actually find enjoyment in them.

A question worth asking:

I enjoyed the responses to this tweet of mine asking whether people critically think about the company behind a digital product before making a decision to pay for that product.




How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division →

Hope amid a feeling of endless crises

Another recommendation by a DD reader and a title that’s on my ‘up next’ reading list. “In this powerful, uplifting plea for conscious optimism, Booker Prize-nominated novelist and activist Elif Shafak draws on her own memories and delves into the power of stories to bring us together. In the process, she reveals how listening to each other can nurture democracy, empathy and our faith in a kinder and wiser future.”


Write Sketch & →

Colourful stationery

Italian stationery maker Write Sketch & runs a lovely online shop that offers tons of unique notebooks, writing tools, desk accessories, and planners in all sorts of colours and patterns.


Overheard on Twitter

therapist: how have you been coping with everything
me: with sarcasm mostly
therapist: has that been working
me: yeah it’s been super great



Food For Thought

The Way of the Gardener →


What a beautiful ode to gardening. I’m really enjoying pieces like this that make me re-assess my relationship to nature and what I can do to strengthen that relationship as a city dweller. “As a gardener (and I am fully aware of what a privilege it is to be one) I am directly engaged with the health of the ground beneath my feet. I know from observing trees, vegetables and cicadas that linear growth doesn’t exist. I know from experience that decay enables life, and that a healthy garden requires attention, faith, action and care. ”

Writing is Networking for Introverts →


Oh, I love this idea of writing as a tool to attain ‘microfame’: “Fame is hard, and it has other costs. But there’s a second alternative: be microfamous. Microfame is the best kind of fame, because it combines an easier task (be famous to fewer people) with a better outcome (be famous to the right people). ... Microfame just means your friends-of-friends have a nonzero chance of knowing who you are, and striking up a conversation with you about something mutually interesting.”

The Big Here and Long Now →


I’m working my way through more essays by The Long Now foundation and this one – along with what I shared in my intro of issue 103 – is a great entry point to their philosophy: “This is our peculiar form of selfishness, a studied disregard of the future. Our astonishing success as a technical civilisation has led us to complacency, to expect that things will probably just keep getting better. ... If we want to contribute to some sort of tenable future, we have to reach a frame of mind where it comes to seem unacceptable – gauche, uncivilised – to act in disregard of our descendants.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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A pleasantly restrained brand identity for Korean modular interior design company Apartmentary, applied to a huge variety of media.

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This beautiful home in Byron Bay, Australia was built almost entirely with local materials, giving it a very small environmental footprint. I particularly love the Rammed Earth walls which are made up of a blend of raw materials, mixed with a small percentage of cement, water and waterproofing. The material offers low embodied energy, high thermal mass, strength and durability, and of course, inherent beauty.

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Embroidery is the new lettering! I see so many young artists take up this quaint craft and put their own, amazing spin on it, like Катерина Коротаева.

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New Forest is a modern, elegant serif font with art nouveau leanings.



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