Being a reflective builder

Today started off in a rather normal sort of way. Two shots of espresso were made and were delightful. Sunrise happened outside the view of my window. My Saturday morning routine of watching a bit of the WAN show happened without interruption. I took a few moments to review my top 5 things from yesterday and it is somewhat satisfying to review and consider the flow of things from day to day. Being a reflective builder is an important part of the process. My argument represented as a hypothesis would be that on any given day we can accomplish 5 blocks of time building good things. To me that is a reasonable way to look at building and creating. Some people for sure are able to work in a different way creating more or less blocks of production. Generally I’m looking at reasonably hard things that are broken into achievable blocks of things that can be done. I cannot code a whole application in a single block of time. That task could be broken into a reasonable set of blocks and I could certainly work on completing that effort. 

Right now I’m working to finish up block 142 of the Lindahl Letter Substack publication. I’m seriously considering closing the newsletter at 150 weeks of writing effort. I might let it go till 156 weeks which would be a complete 3 years of content generation. I had considered switching to a pay model and delivering more in depth independent research each week. Each week right now I provide a brief research note on the topic I’m interested in researching. It’s really a sharing of what I’m interested in and that is the sole and direct focus of the writing enterprise on that one. I have already moved to sharing the same content on my weblog each week at the same time. That got me thinking about where people consume content these days.

Within academic spaces content  has always been harder to access than it should have been with paywalls, high prices, and subscriptions. Journals are great for keeping and storing ideas shared between academics who subscribe and read the journal. It’s a community of interest and it works generally for that academic community. People outside that circle wanting access might need to go to a library or decide if they want to pay for the journal. It’s a limiting circle of content management. Publishing a series of research notes is probably essentially ephemeral in nature. While in the abstract the internet never forgets we have reached the point where it’s really large and probably not backed up. That ephemeral nature will mean that the weekly posts will probably at some point vanish. I had considered that reality from the start of the endeavor and at the end of each year I pooled that year’s Substack content into a book. Right now two of those ponderous tomes of thought sit next to me on the shelf. 

Those efforts will probably stay in publication longer than anything stored on the internet at large. I keep my web hosting paid for 5 years out so in theory that is the longest horizon of serving up that content on the open internet. I’m digging into some deeper topics today and that is interesting for a Saturday morning.

Maintaining 5 slots of building each day

Focusing inward on delivering requires a certain balance. My balance has been off recently. I got knocked off my feet and it impacted my ability to produce blocks of content for about a week. That type of thing does not normally happen to me. It was a new set of emotions and things to consider. Getting knocked down hard enough to pause for a moment and need to look around before moving again was a very new sensation. I’m not sure it was something that I was looking for or even prepared to experience. Really the only thing that put me back on the right track to success and deeper inward consideration (restored balance) was the passage of some time. It just took a little bit of time for me to internalize and move on to a new set of expectations. 

Each new day brings forward a set of time for creating blocks of content. My thoughts right now are around the consideration of making and maintaining 5 slots of building each day. To that end I have been sitting down on the whiteboard and writing down 5 good things to work on each day and trying to make sure they are attainable blocks to complete. At this time, I don’t want to put multi-slot blocks or all day blocks on the board for action and review. This is not the time for that type of stretching and personal growth by taking on highly complex activities. Right now is the time to make things clear, work on the clear things, and be stronger with that resolution every single day go forward. 

Maybe getting back to the absolute standard of sitting down at the very start of the day after drinking two shots of espresso and writing for a few minutes is the key to reframe my day. It is something that has been missing. It was missed. Perhaps it was missed more than I even realized at the time. I’ll admit to sitting down and watching about 4-5 seasons of the Showtime series Billions instead of actively writing and building. Alternatively, I could have been listing some graded sports cards on eBay and working to sell a few of them each day. Let’s zoom out for a second from those thoughts and consider what the next 30 days will uphold as a standard. 

One block of the daily 5 is going to be related to committing code on GitHub. I’m going to really focus my time and energy on making solid contributions to published code. Taking on that effort will help me be focused and committed to something that will become more and more necessary. Building code has changed a bit with the advent of LLMs, but the general thought exercise and logic remain pretty much the same. You might be able to take a wild run at something that was not attainable before and prompt your way to something magical. Generally you are going to go where logic can take you within the confines of the coding world as the framework is a lot more logical than it is purely chaotic in nature. 

5 good things for 9/15

  1. Rework block 142
  2. Commit something LangChain related in Colab
  3. Work on
  4. Review blocks 143-145
  5. Start building voter data baseline package

Outside of those efforts generally as a part of my daily routine I’m producing a daily vlog via YouTube Shorts and striving to output a daily reflection functional journal blog post. I’m going to try to take some inline functional journal notes throughout the day as well. That is going to structurally end up with a sort of blog post being written at the start of the day and then a bunch of more inline bullets being created. Posting is still going to happen at the end of the day or potentially a day delayed. 

Delivering independent research is more important now than ever. I have spent some time thinking about the models of how that research is delivered and what value it has generally. 

Block 142 is pretty much ready to go. I’ll be able to record it tomorrow morning and stay on track to have a 4 block recorded backlog of content ready to go for my Substack. 

During the course of reviewing blocks 143 to 145 I considered if those are even the right topics to spend time working. They are probably fine elements of things to research. It’s not about producing timely content, but instead it is about making meaningful blocks of content that are not time sensitive. That of course is always a harder thing to accomplish while producing independent research.