Tag Archives: the wise sloth

What Happened To The Wise Sloth?

Thewisesloth.com has been down since July 2018, and I’d like to explain why that happened, what I’ve been up to, and what my plans are for the future.

In the spring of 2018 my blog was getting 3,000 views per day, and I started getting offers from ad agencies asking if they could put advertisements on my site. I ignored them for a while because I didn’t want to sell my soul, but I was living in Houston working part time as a massage therapist, which gave me enough free time to write, but I was breaking my body and only making enough money to cover living expenses.

So I decided to sell my soul and put ads on my site. However, WordPress only allows you to use their ad service, which you have to apply for. I applied and never heard back from them. After the next ad agency contacted me, I accepted their offer and moved my site to BlueHost.com, which would allow me to put the necessary coding into my blog. This required me to spend a month frantically copying, pasting, editing my blogs, and optimizing my SEO on the new platform. Then, after all that work, the agency told me their advertisers didn’t want to be associated with a site that gives sex advice and talks about controversial topics. So they withdrew their offer.

A month later the SSL security certificates on my site expired, and I found out that (unless I paid more money) I would have to manually renew them every month otherwise my viewers would get a security warning that my site wasn’t safe. That turned out to be all too true, because two months later my site got infected with malware. To make matters worse, Bluehost only allows you to use their malware removal service, which costs $50 per month on top of what I was already paying them for a site that doesn’t make any money.

At the same time all this was going on, I was preparing to quit my job and move to Oregon to escape the big city life and get back to nature. I was planning on vlogging the adventure and waxing philosophically about following your dreams and yadayada, but I couldn’t afford to keep my site active, and I was overwhelmed with anxiety from the trip anyway. So I left the site down and focused on my real life.

I wish I could/would have shared my adventure, because it was pretty wacky. I drove aimlessly around Oregon for 2 months living out of my SUV and staying at free camp sites in the mountains that were choked with smoke from forest fires.

After traveling all over Oregon, I finally decided I liked Southwest Oregon best. I found a cafe with free wifi and used https://wwoof.net/ to find an internship at a farm that “paid” room and board in exchange for part time work. I stayed in a 100 year old farm house that used to be a gift shop and spent the next month and a half picking vegetables, taking care of animals, chopping down blackberry bushes, making animal skin parchment paper, and watching Youtube videos about homesteading.

After feeling out Southwest Oregon, I decided I really wasn’t impressed with it. Don’t get me wrong. The mountains were beautiful, but the civilization was frankly trashy. I decided if I was going to have to live in a ghetto behind a strip mall, I could do that for a fraction of the price back in Houston. So I drove back to Texas and resumed my suburban life exactly where I left off. My old job even gave me a $1 raise to come back.

I could have reactivated The Wise Sloth at that time, but I still needed money in general. So I used my time to focus on building a tool that helps writers plot stories. Over the next six months I put hundreds of hours into the project, and it’s still hundreds of hours away from being finished.

In the summer of 2019, I was already fed up with Houston traffic again. So I decided to give the Pacific Northwest another shot and see what Washington had to offer. I left my job again, packed up my SUV, and headed North. This time I immediately found a farming internship North of Seattle at Baker’s Acres Family Farm. I lived out of their old RV and spent the next month and a half weeding, composting, pruning tomato plants, planting/picking vegetables, and dead-heading Fuchsias.

On the weekends I drove aimlessly around Washington searching for Utopia… or at least the closest thing in my price range. I finally found a place that came near enough to what I was looking for, but the cost of rent outpaced the wages I could make as a massage therapist.

During my trip I randomly reconnected with an old friend who inspects offshore oil pipelines using remote controlled submarines. He works part time and makes three times more money than a massage therapist without breaking his body. After talking to him about his career field, it didn’t take long to change my plans.

I packed up my SUV, bid farewell to Baker’s Acres Farm and drove literally all the way across America to the International Diving Institute in South Carolina. There, I got an apartment so deep in the ghetto that Pizza Hut wouldn’t deliver, and I spent the next month learning about remote controlled submarines.

Now I’m back in Houston looking for offshore work. As long as I only have to spend 6 months out of each year in Houston, I can cope with that. In the meantime, I’ll be saving every penny I can for my retirement homestead in the mountains where I can one day open a writer’s retreat for aspiring authors.

Now that I’m at a place in my life where I can take a breath and deal with my website, I decided to move it back to WordPress and just accept that I won’t be able to monetize it or give it a really flashy theme layout. So be it. I’m just going to let the website be basic and share wisdom for the sake of it like I originally intended 10 years ago.

I’m still planning on spending most of my upcoming free time focusing on building my plot structure tool, but I’ll still write blogs when I need to get something off my chest. I won’t be stressing over getting a post out every week though. I wish I could just devote my life to cataloging wisdom, but without a trust fund, that’s just not financially possible.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m still open to taking request for blog topics, but I’ll be spending half a year out on the ocean for the foreseeable future. So it may take a month for me to respond to E-mails.

If you liked this post, you may like these too:

My Goals
My Life Stories (in chronological order)


How Can I Improve The Wise Sloth?

In 2017, The Wise Sloth blog turned 10 years old. I celebrated its birthday by moving it to a new domain provider and totally renovating the layout and structure. Unfortunately, this required me to ask my E-mail subscribers to resubscribe because I couldn’t export/import their E-mail addresses. Only about half renewed, which gave me a sad face at first, but I realized I probably just culled out people who stopped reading anyway. Now they won’t be bothered with notifications anymore, and I know how many dedicated fans I have. So thank you for sticking with me. I appreciate every one of you.

I haven’t been posting much lately because I’ve been working tirelessly on creating the ultimate story plot formula engine by breaking down popular movies and analyzing and comparing their component parts. I’m creating a tool that will allow anyone to easily write a story as well-structured as Avatar. More importantly, it will allow you to easily explain how to accomplish a goal, which will allow you to teach people how to accomplish goals. If everyone could write professional quality screenplays that teach useful information, it could end the intellectual drought in Hollywood.

 

Sheets of paper taped together and laid out across the floor containing my movie plot break downs

Movie Plot Break Downs I wrote and am analyzing

 

I’m still dedicated to writing blogs, and I want to give my 1,900 super fans exactly what you all want. It would hurt my soul if any of you left because you’re not finding what you’re looking for. So let’s help each other. Tell me what you like most/least about my posts. Do you like my essays, comics, or lists best? What are your most/least favorite topics I talk about? Are there any general or specific topics or issues I haven’t covered that you want to hear my perspective on? What would you like me to write more/less about? Is there anything else I can do to improve your Wise Sloth experience?

If you’ve never commented, now is the perfect time to join the tribe and leave your mark. Post a comment below letting me and your fellow sloths know what you think about this experience we’re all sharing.

To help jog your memory, here’s a list of the topics I’ve written about with links to lists of those blogs:

  1. Autobiographical posts
  2. Saving the World
  3. Sex, Dating, and Relationships
  4. Self-Help
  5. Philosophy
  6. Religion
  7. The U.S. Military and Police
  8. American Politics
  9. Education
  10. Economics
  11. Writing and Creativity
  12. Comics
  13. American Pop Culture
  14. Tweets

Again, thank you, everyone, for reading. I love you.

 

 

 

Travis Haan

The Wise Sloth


Why Do I Write The Wise Sloth Blog?

Note: This explanation goes into the major life events that led to the creation of The Wise Sloth. If you want the short answer, scroll down and read the last four paragraphs.

The motivation for me to write The Wise Sloth probably started in the first year of my life. I was born prematurely because I have an identical twin brother. He was healthy, but my heart wasn’t done developing. So I had to spend the first few months of my life in an incubator until I was strong enough to survive heart surgery. Over the course of the ordeal, I flat-lined seven times. After the surgery, I was still in and out of the hospital for the next year with pneumonia.

San Marcos, Texas 1984

By the age of six, I had been told a million times how lucky I was to be alive, and since I was raised in the deeply religious state of Texas, I was also told God must have a very special plan for me. Being 6 years old, I believed what I adults told me and often wondered what important mission God must have gone through so much trouble to keep me alive to accomplish. Eventually, I stopped believing God had a plan for me, but I still always carried a sense of responsibility to do something valuable with my life.

My parents divorced when I was six-years-old, and my two brothers and I spent the rest of our childhoods bouncing back and forth between houses, which were on opposite sides of Texas. Our parents were always working and always stressed. So I had very little supervision, and what discipline I got consisted mostly of screaming and spankings. By the age of eight, I started becoming aware nobody was going to teach me how to become a mature, responsible, self-actualized adult. The only way it was ever going to happen was if I taught myself.

I did well in school, but I wasn’t top of my class. I made my first “C” on my report card in middle school when I stopped hanging out with nerds and started hanging out with the bad kids who smoked cigarettes and shoplifted. I made my first “F” my freshman year in high school when I started hanging out with kids who smoked marijuana and stole whatever wasn’t bolted down. I took a lot of drugs in those days and lost my mind a little bit. I couldn’t remember what normal was supposed to feel like, and I would constantly ask myself what reality is.

I started carrying a notebook with me to draw and collect quotes in. Pretty quickly, I started writing my own quips and then essays. The more notebooks I filled up, the less they included pictures and quotes, and the more they included questions and essays. I still carry a notebook with me everywhere I go and write down ideas and sketch out blogs in them. I call them my “ideation notebooks.”

Trippy drawing of myself that I did on the margin of my class notes in high school.

Paris, Texas 2015

At the age of seventeen, I took a larger dose of hallucinogens than I was used to and spent the night talking to God. The next day I threw away my cigarettes and started reading the Bible. Later that year I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church, and my notebooks began to fill up with religious questions and observations. I was particularly obsessed with the question of the meaning of life. I felt paranoid that I would die without being able to say for sure that I made the most out of life, and I wanted to know for sure that I gave my future children the best life advice possible.

So I made a conscious decision to actively and systematically try to figure out life, meaning, maturity, responsibility, and self-actualization to the best of my ability. To streamline the process I created a systematic method of problem-solving based on basic math principles and the scientific method.

After graduating high school I attended a Baptist university where I studied the Bible and social sciences. I hoped to apply my systematic method of problem-solving to the Bible and create the perfect argument for Christianity. However, I barely had to scratch the surface of Genesis before it became undeniably obvious that the Bible is a simple and blatant work of primitive mythology.

By the end of my first year in university, I lost my faith, left school and started drinking and using drugs again. After taking a year out of life to do backbreaking manual labor with felons and immigrants, I joined the Air Force as a computer technician. Working with computers helped me hone my problem-solving skills, and being in the military allowed me to see the world and find new questions and answers that I would never have been exposed to living in small-town Texas. It also gave me time to consolidate my philosophies into a treatise on the meaning of life.

I had only been at my first duty station for a few months before September 11th happened. I watched the planes hit the Twin Towers on the television in my First Sergeant’s office while he handed me disciplinary paperwork for failing my room inspection. I wrote a rebuttal, but it fell on deaf ears. Over the next six years, I watched the American military tear the Middle East apart. I asked everyone in any position of authority I could why we invaded Iraq, and I never got a straight answer. So I started looking for one on my own. The more I analyzed the situation the more I lost faith in our mission. The only explanation that made any sense was that destabilizing the Middle East wasn’t an accident. It was the point.

Photo of me in my Air Force uniform taken at Ali Al Salem Air Base in 2004. I'm pale as a ghost.

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait 2004

The last few years I was in the military I took night classes studying psychology, which led me to the conclusion that the military is a cult. I left the military full of guilt and shame at a time when it was viciously taboo in American culture to criticize the military or the preeminence of America.

Around the time I left the military one of my brothers was building a huge following blogging on MySpace under the screen name, “The Mad Goat.” He looked like he was having fun, and people were listening to the things he had to say, even it was just belligerent, drunken stories with dubious moral lessons at the end. So I started vomiting my drunken, belligerent viewpoints on MySpace as well. I copied the formula for my brother’s screen name, “The” + “adjective” + “animal”  and chose “The Wise Sloth” because I aspire to be wise, and I make an art form out of laziness.

The quality of my writing was awful. I had no business writing or expecting anyone to pay attention to my drivel, but a few people did, and that fueled my desire to keep going. Around 2008, MySpace basically died as everyone migrated to Facebook. At that point, my brother stopped blogging and got on with his real life. I started a WordPress blog and copied over the few decent posts I’d written. Unfortunately, I lost 99% of my readership and had to build a new audience without the advantage of having a social networking platform built right into my blogging platform.

I decided to keep blogging for several reasons. First, my blog is an extension of my journals, where I catalog my own observations about life as I struggle to get it all figured out for myself. The fact that The Wise Sloth is public is an added bonus. I know there are a lot of people asking the same questions as me. If I can help them find answers quicker, I may be able to help make the world a better place for both of us.

Sometimes I choose my blog topics based on what I think my readers would benefit from or what would increase traffic to my site. My essays on sexual positions and techniques accomplish both of those goals.  Blogging also gives me a pulpit to speak about subjects that don’t get enough attention, like the fact that the U.S. Military is a cult, Christianity is mythology, capitalism is the root of most of the world’s problems, and locally sustainable communities are the solution to most of those problems.

As I write enough posts on a subject, I’m compiling them into books. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off The Wise Sloth from book sales and donations, which is a horrible return on investment considering that I’ve put thousands of hours of work into it, but that doesn’t bother me. I would still do it if I won the lottery and never had to worry about money again, and I’d still be writing if I knew for a fact that I’d never make any money off of it.

Having said that, I do want to make money from blogging, but I’m consciously playing the long game here. As long as I never stop blogging, it’s only a matter of time before I write enough books or create enough viral content to raise serious money. When that happens I’ll be able to fulfill my ultimate goal of building a secular, intellectual monastery. In the meantime, I’ll be playing my little humble part in raising awareness of important issues. Whenever I die, I’ll leave something behind that will hopefully in some way justify my existence. Then all the work my doctors (and possibly God) put into keeping me alive when I was a baby won’t have been in vain. Or maybe all of my irreverent, vulgar words will be nothing but a huge disappointment, but at least I’ll have had fun writing them.

Photo of me taken in Colorado in 2015 holding a 40 ounce coffee mug

Denver, Colorado 2014

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

Blogging
My Goals
My Life Stories (in chronological order)
My Art

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