Off The Grid

We are staying at a lovely house in Tuscany for the next few days with old friends. The house has beautiful views, a lovely pool, a huge kitchen, and no Internet.

Seems like a perfect excuse to take it easy and decompress with friends and family

If I get the urge to write something, I'll do it from my blackberry, which is how I am posting this.

But I could easily get lost in a book or a conversation and miss a day or two of blog posts.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. Keenan

    Enjoy it. As you know, I took the 4th of July weekend off. I felt guilty, but it was nice!

  2. calabs

    Old friends in Tuscany. You make a great effort to reach out to the masses, but with posts like this you reveal that you truly live in a different sphere.

    1. fredwilson

      Not sure what you mean. My friend from grad school turns 50 this summer and to celebrate he invited a bunch of friends to spend a week in Tuscany together.

      1. ShanaC

        Congratulations to your friend most of all.

      2. calabs

        To put it bluntly, you’re rich and I’m not. You and your friends make a lot more money than your readers do (or at least, more than I do). Life is qualitatively different when you make seven plus figures per year. You are safer, less at risk from the minor vicissitudes of life, and able to enjoy all the varied and wonderful experiences life has to offer. You are better connected with the powerful figures that can affect your life both in the large and in the small. Your life can get turned upside down like anyone else’s (for example by health issues), but the money smooths out the countless smaller headaches that ordinary wage earners have to deal with. For example, you probably didn’t have to wonder if you could *afford* to go to Tuscany (although I’m sure you still shopped a bit for tickets because no-one likes to overpay, even, perhaps especially, the rich).You are a successful, well-respected business man with a great family. People not only listen to you, but seek out your advice. Good heavens, you have old friends who invite you to Europe for their birthday. That doesn’t happen to just anyone, you know.I envy you without resentment. Envy because you simply have more. Without resentment because you seem to be a calm, generous person, and I’m glad to see these traits rewarded.

        1. calabs

          I’m a nobody. I don’t like feeling that way, filled with self-pity, but it’s the truth. I have no status. I’m not friends with powerful people who can get me out of a bind. If someone sued me I couldn’t afford to defend myself. I can’t afford a house where I live. When I speak, people don’t listen. If I wrote a book, people probably wouldn’t buy it.When I think of these things I feel a real, gut wrenching yearning and lack. This is attachment, the cause of all suffering (according to the Buddhists), and it sure causes me suffering.I want these things so badly I can taste it. I could chew through bricks right now to get it. And I know this is the wrong motivation. The desire to help others is the only motivation, because this is the only motivation which is consistently replenished. I know this intellectually, but the knowledge hasn’t yet reached my heart.Working on it.

          1. ShanaC

            It will get better-A) you admitted there is a problemB) status is how you make yourself and what you think your world should be (to a point)You’ll learn a way. I think, unlike a lot of people here, age may not be against you- if you are willing to let go.First embrace the pain and ask why it is there. Then reach out when you feel confidence in what you think (irrellevant of others)People will slowly listen. We’re listening now…

          2. calabs

            You make me feel better Shana. You remind me that I’m not the only person in this world with problems.Anyway, it’s good to ignore pointlessly negative people – they can only bring you down. Sometimes people just need to vent, and they’ll right themselves after a while. I had a pang of acute envy & self-pity, it has passed.I’m glad I posted about it though.Last night I was listening to the Mel Brooks commentary on the 30th edition of “Blazing Saddles” DVD. A few things struck me: Mel sounds like a smart, likable guy. The writing of that movie was entirely collaborative, and Mel was generous with his praise of others, especially Andy Bergman. But it was written by a roomful of people (at 666 5th St., BTW). So many of the best parts of that movie were *almost* cut or changed, but saved at the last minute by luck or the input of a friend. For example, Mel wanted Rich Pryor as Bart and didn’t want Gene Wilder as the Waco Kid (interestingly Mel approached John Wayne at the Warner Brother’s lunch counter for the role!). But fate saved him. Last but not least the studio wanted to cut parts of Madeleine Kahn’s scenes – for which she was later nominated for an Academy Award.My take away was, wow. How close to failure Mel Brooks danced with that movie. How human was his struggle. At almost every point things could have gone south, but somehow it held all together. And he wrote, directed, and acted the movie for a paycheck totalling $50,000, and it was a big hit. (And he used his per diem to make house payments on a little place in west hollywood!)This is so inspirational because I always thought that Blazing Saddles came from Mel Brook’s brain fully-formed, like a Yiddish Aphrodite. I love the real story so much more.

          3. ShanaC

            You’re welcome!

        2. fredwilson

          I grew up an army brat, went to college on a scholarship, sold donuts to make ends meet, showed up in NYC with a girlfriend and not much else and together we have made this life we are living. You can do it too. Its mostly about hard work, taking caculated risks, and believing in yourself

          1. calabs

            Some people are simply born more enlightened than others. They are naturally calmer, more patient, more consistent, and happier. Add intelligence and such a one can go very, very far in life.Then there are those who are born nervous, stressed, worried. Some are born naturally egotistical and self-centered. Some are born angry. This is like being born blind, or without limbs – these are disabilities. While they can be partly overcome, they still make everything harder to achieve. Add intelligence and you create a terrible cycle: with achievement comes increased ego, or increased fear of loss, which in turn alienates others and prevents further progress or even retards past progress. For such people any kind of consistency in their life becomes a struggle. Add on to this life’s usual misunderstandings and mistakes, and it’s a real mess.For such people, it is not “mostly about hard work, taking caculated(sic) risks, and believing in yourself”. It’s about getting up in the morning, it’s about remembering what you’re supposed to be doing that day and why, it’s about following your schedule, it’s about soldiering on even though you are very lonely and not dwelling on past mistakes or perceived slights. It’s about not fooling yourself that everything will be fine from now on just because you had one good day. It’s about finishing what you started and keeping your word, even though you had ten new ideas in the last ten minutes. If you can do that, and you’re very smart, you can make 100k + a year as a developer, and maybe a few casual friends and brief affairs. Very difficult to go beyond that.

          2. David Semeria

            Cheer up!

          3. fredwilson

            Get a life coach, a shrink, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve done that three times in my life and it was life changing each time. I was born angry and nervous. I’ve largely rid the anger from my life. But anxiety is still a daily part of me. Its a lifelong struggle

          4. calabs

            I’m open to it, but it’s very difficult to find someone. I’m open to suggestions.

        3. TanyaMonteiro

          You have access to the internet, take a look people who’ve experienced adversity, this link might be a good start,… and if you really want to change your story take a look at this…there is plenty of information out there to help us change and create the lives we wish for, you have to make those decisions. All the best, Tanya

          1. calabs

            Thanks Tanya. I’ll watch that. I really like TED, and gorgeous black women make wisdom go down easy.

  3. Mike Glanz


      1. awaldstein

        Pls thank Gotham Gal for the pics and descriptions of the Maxxi museum.It’s on my list of places to see. The story behind the Romans accepting a new museum design is like New Yorkers doing exactly the same thing.Enjoy

        1. ShanaC

          I so want to get out to see these things one day.

          1. awaldstein

            Italy is incredible.Work a bit. Save some dollars and do it.Opens your eyes and your mind and your imagination.

        2. fredwilson

          It was great arnold. Particularly the permanent collection

  4. RichardF

    Do it Fred. Everyone deserves a break.

  5. daryn

    Sounds fantastic; hope we don’t hear from you for a couple days 🙂

  6. Tereza

    My uncle, a very talented and mildly insane guy, frequently paints in Tuscany, at a buddy’s house in Siena.Here are some Tuscany works to get you in the mood. Not GG’s style (too kitschy) but might make you laugh.…The one on the upper left actually hangs in my foyer. It took me about 6 years to realize what it actually was. Not a perspective I generally get to see. Naturally, my husband knew the first second he saw it.Have fun!

    1. ShanaC

      I see hills with bushes and grapevines, a road going into a tunnel, clouds shaped like dogs, and a chuch. Am I missing something?

      1. Tereza

        yes, my darling.while we gals focus on the scenery, the boys are focusing on the tunnel.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          T! You’re back — badder than ever! (-;

          1. Tereza

            awww…dja miss me? :-)was just trying to get work done. Did a Disqus dial-down.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I’ve been pretty scarce myself lately. Slammed…and much of next week too. I wondered if you’d really been MIA or if it was just that I wasn’t around much.Hope your work was productive. Someday want to hear about it — I am absolutely certain that it is amazingly interesting!Wonder if these comments will end up on Business Insider? Hmmm…

          3. fredwilson

            Not likely

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Were you at least smiling when you wrote that?

        2. ShanaC

          Oh God. I like to think innocently and well of people…

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I hope my 13 year old daughter grows up to be like you!

          2. ShanaC

            Trust me on this: I have my own set of insecurities and problems. I suspect everyone does.And at 13 I was having a very difficult time of life. Certain ideas that I know now, I wish I understood then, and even if I understood them, I wish I was smart enough, amazing enough to articulate them well.From that experience: The best thing to hope for is that your daughter grows into herself- and that she handles her problems for the better. The goal is to get her to be the best person she can be- not someone else. Just listen without judgement so that she can find her own voice- and don’t hope for someone that she isn’t.

    2. fredwilson

      Hard to appreciate on the 2×2 blackberry screen but I got the gist. Funny guy your uncle

      1. RichardF

        off the grid…go on switch it off now…there’s nothing to see here

  7. Elie Seidman

    I find that a few days fully or nearly fully away revives the spirit in a way that nothing else can. If it’s in the slower pace of Tuscany, all the more so; life has a different flavor to it. Enjoy.

  8. ShanaC

    Just enjoy the time away.

  9. Avg

    turn the blackberry off…

  10. Sheldon Thomas

    Unplugging is a great thing to do from time to time… Enjoy it Fred!

    1. Donna Brewington White

      …or maybe unblogging?

      1. Sheldon Thomas

        No, completely unplugging from it all… no blackberry/iphone/android, no internet, no emails… just you, people you care about and some fun and relaxation. It’s great! I’ve got some of that planned later on this year.

        1. Cyril Nicodème

          I agree with you.Being completely unplugging could be a bit stressful at first (“how will I handle all my emails ?”) but you’re on vacation ! Taking time to be with your family, your friends, having great times, reading books, taking a walk, etc.The rest of the world can wait a few days (if not, you will always have a close friend/collegue for contacting you).So yes, you should turn off completely your connected devices also if it’s sound impossible :)Enjoy your free time Fred !

  11. Donna Brewington White

    Do it, Fred, do it! We’ll miss you but just think how much more you’ll have to offer us after some down time.Love the description of your surroundings, yet…rarely have I been so envious…

    1. Tereza

      I don’t think he can do it.

      1. Tereza


        1. Donna Brewington White

          Is that a dare or an attempt at reverse psychology?

          1. Tereza


      2. Donna Brewington White

        Okay, you win.

  12. Aaron Klein

    Do yourself a favor…turn the BlackBerry on silent and enjoy Italy. You won’t be able to resist checking it once in a while, but the absence of beeping and ringing is truly remarkable and should be enjoyed from time to time.

  13. Dean Kaplan

    Enjoy. I’m sure we can get by for a few days.

  14. Sathia

    Only if Sedaris is your neighbor.

  15. andyswan

    I volunteer to cross-post onto AVC one day. It’s sure to be a hit. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Give me a topic and I may greenlight it

  16. markslater

    enjoy fred – there is ying and yang

  17. Mike O'Horo

    “Off the grid” means go dark. Enjoy your vacation, don’t post anything. No one will die.

  18. Cyril Nicodème

    Take a break is the best way to keep your health up so don’t hesitate ! It’s for the best of you (and us ;))

  19. Latte Life

    It works. That’s all we need to know.Forced abstinence creates breathing space, and a clear mind (I wish I had one right now LOL)It’s good to unplug from the grid. Surprisingly (or not so?), one’s life quickly resumes wherever it was before the disconnection. Nothing very important gets away.Creative ideas are coming your way as you sit on the verandah Fred.Enjoy!

  20. Paul Sinclair

    I was just talking about “being off the grid” with a co-worker last night. Remember a time, not long ago, when you didn’t need to announce to the world via OOO, email, blog, tweets. etc. that you were taking a much deserved vacation? Connectivity has made our lives more fluid, but it surely has made this part of our lives so much more challenging as well.Enjoy the time off, Fred.

  21. awaldstein

    Fred…good luck with this.I go through this just about every year when I go to Italy. I always find the stress of preparing to be off the grid unbearable and find a solution.I know you don’t want one but David Semeria has found a 3G solution that works pretty well everywhere in Italy I believe. (He’s in Milan and his summer place in broad bandless).Enjoy

  22. willcole

    No posts for a couple of days? Prince was right…

  23. Mark Essel

    Pick a topic, any topic. Consider a single day of cross posting goodness.I’m sure Andy and I are among many who would chomp at the bit to publish on AVC.I’d like to write a followon to “the democracy of attention, an economy of minds”, one of my favorite posts. Today I was a zealot for net nations 🙂

  24. skysurfer172

    Enjoy the break Fred! I do think there is a mental health benefit to unplugging and really going off the grid a couple times a year. It does make you realize how addicted to instant information and communication we all are, but the restorative powers of a good book, some quite and downtime with loved ones goes a long way for the rest of the year. I plan to do just that come August in Turin and Paris. Ciao!

  25. Andrew

    If I look up “envy” in a dictionary, I wonder if it will link to this post?

  26. Jim Jones

    bla hblah

  27. Mediaguy23

    Talk about where Lebron James will go!?!?!?!?

    1. fredwilson

      Miami, with wade and bosh. Hindsight is 20/20! 😉

  28. shawnkolodny

    Try turning off the blackberry for two days! and the iphone, and the evo, trust me the best thing you will do, well thats after the anxiety and panic fade, might take 3 days, but it is worth it, I promise. Go see the country side, I hear Tuscany is beautiful this time of year.Enjoy

  29. JoeColleen

    Hmm, you are not rubbing it in, eh? [grins]

  30. Adrian Palacios

    if you have time to read a book, i highly recommend checking out this presentation:…it’s 216 slides, but it’s by a researcher from google. he has some incredibly constructive criticisms about current social networking technologies, and recommendations about how to better design for social networking/interactions.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out

  31. aminTorres

    Fred, I am curious! How did you guys found the places you are staying at?I am shaping up a startup called listedplaces allow vacationers to contact vacation rental owners directly… I put the app live about 8 weeks ago and have gotten almost 400 vacation rentals listings from around the world.not too many from Italy just yet though. :(Great deal of positive feedback from the Vacation Rental owners since just as a basic app we do allow them to do things simpler and more than other services so I thought I shared this… hopefully next time you go on vacation I have a wider array of places listed.have fun!Amin.

    1. fredwilson

      Our friends rented the place in tuscany. They used the internet, found an agency in tuscany, and used themMy wife and I are big fans of VRBO and use it often

      1. Rebecca

        Fred – VRBO is a great service, since it’s got so many listings. Don’t you find it frustrating to sort through so many stinkers to find the gems, though? Using that site is a major time investment, in my experience…

        1. fredwilson

          If you know exactly what you want, it isn’t too bad

  32. vruz

    if you happen to visit anywhere near Carrara, let me know