You need a thneed

This year, I will pay more than $400 for web hosting, domain registration, photo hosting at Flickr, and video hosting at Vimeo, to say nothing of the occasional gadget and software purchases… all for Via Negativa and its sister sites (The Morning Porch, Moving Poems, Woodrat photohaiku, Shadow Cabinet, Spoil, etc.). And I live on an extremely limited income. How limited? Let’s just say that I haven’t made enough to pay income tax in years.

Direct begging is one approach, and I haven’t ruled that out yet. But I like giving people something for their money. So may I introduce to you (drumroll please) the Via Negativa swag store at

All wu, no woo doggy t-shirt

The Chinese character wu (Japanese mu) has been the sort-of logo for Via Negativa and the Via Negativa blog cluster for some time now. (I grabbed a public-domain image from the Wikimedia Commons; that’s not my calligraphy.) This is the wu of the Daoist ideal, wu wei, and in Chan/Zen Buddhist circles, it was Zhaozhou’s famously ambiguous answer to a koan: Does a dog have buddha-nature or not?

Long before The Morning Porch, in the early years of this blog I had an almost daily cartoon — possibly the world’s least action-packed comic — called Words on the Street. Today I dug out the original drawing, rescanned it, and re-created a number of the cartoons at high enough resolution to reproduce on shirts and mugs.

Some of my best friends are invisible

I’ve made nine of my personal favorite WotS cartoons available on items at the new storefront. I was fairly conservative about what I put them on, but if you want them on other CafePress offerings, just let me know. The fuller range of items for the wu/woo design will give you an idea of what’s possible. (I’m hoping to pull together a print-on-demand book from the new/old Words on the Street cartoons, too, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it in time for holiday shopping.)

I’ve added a mark-up of just 10% to everything at the store, so I’m probably not going to get rich, unless this blog has a lot more fans than I think. But it was blast working on these designs, and if all that happens is a few Via Negativa readers get a good chuckle, that’s still a good outcome as far as I’m concerned.

Insulated beer can holder

In slightly less-commercial Via Negativa-related news, I guess I should mention, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t see my link on Facebook, that my collection Breakdown: Banjo Poems will be coming out from my favorite chapbook publisher, Seven Kitchens Press, in May. First drafts of all those poems originally appeared right here, so thanks to everyone who left comments and offered encouragement.

12 Replies to “You need a thneed”

  1. I’m very much looking forward to humiliating Maizy with one of those dog t-shirts. I might embroider a black “f” after woo, though.

    I calculate you’d need to sell 237 such canine accessories to cover a year’s hosting. I shall inform dog-owning friends of this unmissable opportunity!

  2. Bravo Dave, for everything!

    Are Flickr and Vimeo charging you for uploading pics and videos? They shouldn’t! In my experience, they’re free. But maybe I haven’t looked into any upgraded options.

    I do empathise with you on the costs of keeping up a web presence, even if I’m not multi-directional, public-spirited and community-building as Via Negativa is. You deserve every bit of public funding available out there and there might even be such sources, so that you don’t have to rely mainly on shop-sales (always unpredictable).

    1. Thanks, Natalie. Part of me feels a bit abashed about asking for help at all, in part because I feel like I’m never doing enough. (For example, I’ve neglected the podcast terribly! That interview with you is one of three great episodes I still need to edit and post.)

      The Vimeo and Flickr upgrades are life-savers. With Vimeo, a Pro account lets you upload higher-resolution videos, gets them processed right away (faster than YouTube now), lets me keep the original file available for download indefinitely (and so serves as a back-up storage system), and lets me control almost all aspects of the look and behavior of videos when they’re embedded — for example, which other three videos are linked to at the end. A paying Flickr account is even more essential, allowing me unlimited sets and full-size uploads. I use Flickr as both back-up and sorting tool for almost all my photos worth keeping. At $35/year, it’s a real bargain. The Vimeo is pricier — around $60/year, as I recall.

  3. First, congratulations on your chapbook!

    And second–you’ve done amazing work with all these sites, serving as both inspiration and model. Congratulations, good luck with the CafePress sales–and I hope the support keeps coming.

    1. Thanks, Soen Joon. It really means a lot to me that readers like you, Natalie, and the other commenters on this thread keep visiting. At risk of sounding corny, that in itself is reward enough.

  4. Dave, I don’t remember if I said anything worth recording when we talked in London – I have a sneaking feeling that I didn’t. Anyway, don’t worry about delaying its appearance on the esteemed VN podcasting station… problema!

    Speaking of web-hosting: the one I use is called HostPapa, based in the US – they are reasonably priced and reliable. If you need an alternative, you could look them up.

    1. HostPapa, eh? I’ll keep that in mind. I currently have my sites split between three hosts: Westhost (based in the UK), Dreamhost, and My biggest mistake before was putting too many eggs in one basket.

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