Penpal Café

Codename PPC

Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly — Observations From The Internet Wilderness.

Dear Penpal,

As a kid, I often took a message in a bottle with me on ferry journeys. When we were the furthest from land, I’d release the bottle, hoping it would travel as far as possible. Dreaming it would reach foreign coasts. It was before our telephones became mobile and smart. Back when we found the address of friends in physical books.

I was a young boy in a small town with 10,000 people. The town had one football club, three schools, and a castle where the queen lived half of the year. The computer was a database at the school library. Everything foreign was fascinating.

Many years later I still send messages into the ether. Now I deliver my words to your inbox every Sunday morning. I treasure sharing my observations from the internet wilderness with you. Because of you, I travel far deeper into the strange places of the internet. Even on rainy days.

However, I do miss the mystery of releasing a message into the unknown. To write words for only one pair of eyes. To not be told when you read my words. To not know when you are typing a response. To not have my creativity constrained to the choice of emoji and gif.

Therefore, I am today opening an internet café. It is a place to use the magic of the internet to find a penpal. For the first season, the café is open until April 14. This is your invitation to join: www.penpal.cafe (hint: click the image).

With care,
Kristoffer

Visit Penpal Café


EYE CANDY

Ana’s drawings for Penpal Café.


READER INTERVIEW

Reina Hanada is a traveller and a guide of calm sites of bustling places. Reina is a writer. Every month she sends Uno a card for his birthday. And for almost 8 years she has been Ana’s penpal champion. Reina collects parts of her life, coveys them into sentences, adds beautiful Japanese souvenirs, and sends them in decorated envelopes.

K: How do you archive your thoughts?

Reina: Letters to Ana. These days, it is a mix - a letter to Ana + Kristoffer, and a letter to Uno. I once tried to keep a personal journal, starting with “Dear Ana”, and finished an entire notebook — but it was not the same. The fact that there is Ana on the other side lets me access the deepest thoughts and vulnerabilities. Also, it gives me warm cozy feelings deep inside as a worker at the post office puts a stamp on it, and tells me “Thank you, we will keep it - for the time being”.

K: How would you like to be remembered online?

Reina: I don’t need to be. I don’t want to invade people’s heads during the day. All I want is for my loved ones to remember me when they need to share their thoughts, to halve the sorrow, and to double the joy. As Haruki Murakami said, “If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”

K: How would you describe your work to my grandparents?

Reina: I work as a freelance writer now. I interview children and write articles about their experiences. I also write research articles about things related to the Japanese education system and exams. But I used to be an international tax consultant (sounds fancy), then a babysitter for Greek construction workers working for the Olympic Games, so I don’t know what I will be doing next. Perhaps I will be a watermelon farmer.

K: What stones do you carry in your bag?

Reina: Countless. I plan to dump them into the Pacific Ocean very soon. Maybe I should head to Tokyo Bay now.

K: What is progress to you?

Reina: Choosing to wake up every day, not knowing where the day is going to take you. Having the courage to make a choice to live. You become braver and more courageous every day because you choose to stay in this absurd world that makes no sense whatsoever. That is progress.

K: What is the most touching you’ve experienced online?

Reina: All the generosity I’ve experienced on CouchSurfing. That is how I met Ana in the town of Graz, Austria, back in August 2013. We were babies, barely knowing what the world is all about. She then took me to Grandma Santl’s birthday party in Maribor, Slovenia. I still remember the vineyard and the beautiful oven in the Slovenian countryside. Then we became penpals, soulmates, (god)mothers. That is when I promised to be generous and be kind to whoever I meet online — because it could be life-changing.

K: Where do you escape to when your internet is crashing?

Reina: Right now, I take a walk to a park in the neighborhood to see cherry blossoms. Then walk around the lake in the middle of the park, swan boats floating, with countless cherry blossom trees surrounding the lake. Despite the crazy pollen, the pink ceilings of flowers never fail to please me.

K: What is the deepest ocean you went diving in?

Reina: My head. It is crazy deep, very easy to drown. You need strengths to dive in, more strength to float back up. Sometimes, it needs friends to help you pull you back up. But it is worthwhile.

K: How would you start a letter to a frog?

Reina: Dear (a Tree) Frog,

My grandmother once asked me, “Tree frogs change color depending on where they are staying - they turn brown on a tree log, green on a leaf. What color do you think it turns into when you put in water?” I said blue. My grandmother answered, “white”. Apparently, she had once put you in a bathtub when she was 8. I think she boiled you. Please accept my apologies for what she had done to you 73 years ago.

Sincerely,
Reina


ROADSIDE FLOWERS

Practice identifying local birds by their calls and songs.

Explore UFO witness testimonies.

Imaginary friends reunited.

Jackson Pollock DIY.


FIELD NOTES

  1. Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer

    Thanks for this read Søren. In 1987, writer and farmer Wendell Berry explained why he is not going to buy a computer. From what I can read online, he still hasn’t bought one. The essay is part of a short book I recommend for anyone interested in the topic of technological progress.

  2. The Earthly Shadow of the Cloud

    No one does web nostalgia better than Anne Boyer. In this post she reflects on how our early promise of the internet was to turn property into non-property, of liberating the commons, only to realize that it showed the opposite, that “whatever can be abstracted can be owned”.

  3. Starter Table Saw

    While I am not making my own furniture, Matt Hartman’s personal tale of his journey into woodworking feels very relatable. Because it is the same story for any hobby: there is always another tool/equipment/service I need to become good.


INTERNETMEZZO

Algorithms are not neutral.


GUEST GARDEN

Plant a seed in the Naive Weekly guest garden. I’ll share a few each week in the newsletter.

“A seed is the beginning of something new. Much like naive weekly, which tends to plant or activate several seeds in my mind!” — Dries on March 28, 2021.

“I love Kristoffer” — Ana on March 12, 2021.

“Sunlight can pass through windows. But also through speakers, smiles, wine and laughter.” — Kristian on March 22, 2021.


Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly — Observations from the Internet Wilderness.

Last week this letter was sent to 754 people. Thirtyfour are crazy enough to chip in every month/year to support me making time to write. Logo by Studio Hollywood. Print by Luka. Photograph by Ana Santl.