Oh those weekend thoughts

Time quickly passed this weekend. I spent a fair amount of the weekend just resting my back. Somehow and it was one of those ineffable things I managed to tweak my lower back last week. It lingered into the weekend and I’m hopeful that today is the turning point where things will get better. Oddly enough a bit of back pain is enough to slow down and destroy my writing sessions. Apparently, I need both my mind and my body to be in agreement to sit down and create some prose. Right now I need to write two more posts for The Lindahl Letter to have my writing on schedule for a bit of a break here in October. The two posts are generally in the draft to build stage of the process.

My process really does involve having about 5 weeks of posts in planning or revision at any given time. Some of that is researching what needs to go into the posts in terms of articles and links the other part is the slow writing process of adding in the content as necessary. I could go with an approach where the content is just written the weekend before and sent out that Friday. Adding the audio recording changed that for me and made it to where I needed to work a bit ahead to be able to complete an audio recording. Almost all my audio recording happens first thing in the morning during the absolute quietest time in the house. Only a small two hour window exists on the weekends where the household including the dogs are going to be relatively silent.

My office picks up banging or other loud noises. A few of them have made a podcast along the way, but you would have to listen very closely to notice. During the course of recording live streams on YouTube I ran into the same type of ambient noise problems. The podcast audio is cleaned up compared to the live stream content. To be fair on that one the live stream content is not cleaned up at all. That is not something that you really go back and clean up for audio quality.

I may have to go to my alternate writing schedule where 7 day a week future posts receive tinkering. This is all about working out the first two October posts. I’m sure it will end up getting completed, but at the moment on this particular Monday things are not moving along very well. I spent some time watching YouTube videos about various guitar parts. That happened. It happens from time to time. My interests typically shift between looking for computer parts and looking at guitar parts. One of the things that has saved me a bit of activity in the last few years is that computer parts were really hard to come by and the rate of change on motherboards and chipsets was low. I did take the time to price out a brand new computer build this weekend and it can get really expensive pretty quickly.

A slow start to the week

Today it took about an hour to settle into a headspace where writing was going to happen. I’m not sure why it took so long to begin to accept the blank page. Sometimes that happens. My thoughts were all over the place and getting to a point where focusing was possible actually took that hour of wondering around the internet. Now I’m wondering a bit more about what things should be set as a priority this week. It feels like it might be a week where a lot of things can get done. That is probably good. Some time ago I set a 5 year writing plan for creating content and working down some different academic trajectories. That effort is still underway and my writing streak for publishing The Lindahl Letter part of that remains unbroken. As of right now that effort will span at least 87 weeks based on the content in queue for distribution. One more post is written but has not been recorded. Unfortunately, for the last 7 days my voice has been wrecked from some kind of cold or allergies.

It has been a long time since something stopped me from being able to talk. On the brighter side of things it did open the door to more listening. Talking a ton was not really going to happen. I was able to keep moving along without any real disruption. During that time I even did some game planning and put together some changes in the overall plan from week 87 to 104. Sometimes it is really helpful to sit down and consider where things are going. Knowing your writing trajectory and the associated research trajectory are important parts of planning. You cannot work on everything at one time and figuring out where you want to put your attention is an important part of the equation. When you are going to plan out a few years of effort at a time then you want to make sure to get it right and cover the right content in the right order. My interests at the start focused in on learning about machine learning and conducting weekly research into topics to diver deeper. That has been ongoing for 87 weeks. I’m in a position now where based on that depth and breadth of knowledge I’m able to really start producing various types of research within those subjects.

I have learned how to do typesetting in Overleaf with LaTeX which at first was very frustrating, but after several hours of learning is now possible. Maybe working toward the production of a bunch of different journal type articles or research notes is the right way to go and we will see if that is what happens when my research pivots from machine learning to generally a study of artificial intelligence.

A few Thursday ramblings

My efforts this week to learn a bit of LaTeX in Overleaf have been slow going. That effort could happen on either my Chromebook or my desktop. Neither of those things seems to be happening in the evenings. During the evenings, I have been listening to a bit of science fiction from Isaac Asimov. I’m three books into that effort now and enjoying the initial foundation trilogy: Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953). Apparently, two prequels and two sequels were written to expand the foundation universe. This week I’ll finish up the “Second Foundation” audiobook. We might listen to the “I, Robot” (1950) book during our next big roadtrip. That is what we ended up doing with the first foundation book. During the 8 hour road trip between Denve and Kansas City it is a great opportunity to really focus on an audiobook. We have listened to non-fiction books about various topics and a handful of the best science fiction works. It is hard to believe the foundation series is roughly 70 years old at this point. The language used in the novels could pretty well be spoken today outside of the odd psychologist/history projections. Most of the futurists today do not accompany their predictions with mathematical models. 

 I go back and forth about the naming convention that should be used within the daily weblog posts. Years ago I simply titled them by date (YYYYMMDD) and that worked well enough for me personally. It did not however work very well for indexing and other communication methods outside of my personal amusement. To that end I started working on titles and most of them are longer than a word or two as that is what is required when you start to write hundreds of missives. At this point, it is rather difficult to come up with unique titles for these weblog posts. Normally, by about the second paragraph of the project I’ll find a title in a sentence somewhere that can be used. This one is intentionally not titled about the writings of Isacc Asmov. 

On a totally unrelated topic, I’m still struggling with the odd set of categories I have built for the weblog over the years. I know they were a byproduct of writing posts year after year. They are clustered related to the topics that I tend to cover, but for the most part the categorization is really not very good. I built a bad thing and cannot really go back and move them all around. In terms of storage and indexing the weblog has a core post, daily recap, monthly recap, and groups by category. All of that is designed to help make it easier for the reader to find content. I’m not entirely sure that works anymore. At this point in my online journey, the primary way people get to the weblog is from searching for a term or something that gets them to a page. They quickly realize that they are in the midst of a functional journal that might very well contain the technical answer they were seeking. I tend to write about the challenges that I overcome while using technology just as much as I muse about the process of writing. 

I should probably focus more on technical writing and really dig into the challenges we see in the disjointed presentation of technology that we run into on a daily basis. The only thing connecting the myriad of technology we use and interact with is us functioning as the hub. At this point, the fast majority of technology we use is not interconnected or controlled by voice or a common interface. My office alone is full of 10 or more sets of technology that require me to interact with them to make things happen. At some point the technological mesh will become more connected and it will be a fundamentally different experience for the end user.

Oh these words written right now

People are most certainly traveling by highway for the 4th of July weekend at a higher rate than the last few years. We stopped in Hays, Kansas, yesterday at lunchtime and things were hopping. It was seriously busy. The Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers restaurant parking lot was completely full just after noon. People were really excited to eat at Freddy’s. I’ll admit the shoe string style french fries are delicious. Visibility is pretty good from the highway exit, you could see that the entire town of Hays was very busy around the intersection of the I-70 highway. Throughout the trip all of the gas stations we could see were super busy. Instead of just pulling off the highway and being able to buy gasoline every time we stopped we were waiting for somebody to finish pumping gas. We never got into a situation with a line depth greater than a single car, but we were close to that situation occurring. Normally pump space is available without any delay.

I have been very deeply considering working on some political coverage type of writing recently. Generally, I have refrained from sharing my political views online. That was probably an error on my part over the last 20 years. One of the paths forward on that front would be to just capture all those thoughts in a separate manuscript for now. At this point, I’m not going to start a politics blog. It would be a more likely outcome for me to start up a podcast that provides that type of coverage. My current podcast effort “The Lindahl Letter” only covers technology and the intersection of technology and modernity. Inherently within that intersection a certain degree of politics exists, but that is really the extent of my political coverage in that publication. Maybe it would be good at this point to explain that I really just want to write about the nature of civil society and the breakdown in the social fabric that is occurring. At some point, essays are going to be written about that topic. 

During this epic summer vacation I’m planning to keep waking up with my silent Fitbit watch alarm at 0530 hours and completing a writing session before everybody wakes up. It’s totally possible that during the trip other opportunities will exist to engage in some writing. Right now I’m writing using my Pixelbook Go chromebook at a kitchen table. Nobody is awake. I’m listening to Pandora streaming audio and just working out some thoughts. This is for better or worse a stream of consciousness type of writing day. Right now Substack is loaded up with posts out until July 22, 2022. I was able to work far enough ahead on the writing and recording front that 3 posts are pending in the queue for distribution. It is possible that after I’m all warmed up here by writing this post my writing energy will shift over to working on more Substack posts. 

Yesterday, I was watching my incoming emails and more people unsubscribed after my last post than at any time in the 75 weeks of my Substack publishing career. As an inflection point more people were exiting the subscriber count than were joining it at that point. To the best of my knowledge, Substack as a platform does not really have a bot problem. Most subscribers are really people who get emails as a part of the way the platform works. It is designed to disseminate newsletters from a writer to an audience using email. You could certainly run into a publication within the feed on the Substack website or some variation of that delivery model. Outside of people sharing a Substack newsletter on social media the overwhelming method of delivery is email delivery. 

One of the major changes in delivery I made was adding an audio component to my weekly Substack writing campaign. That extended the modes of publication to include both podcast and email newsletter. Based on the statistics it appears that across all the various podcast platforms that get the RSS feed as many people listen to the podcast as read the email. I have tried my best to keep the podcast audio as pristine and professional as possible. People do seem to listen to those sub 10 minute podcast episodes. I think with those sometimes a person might listen to more than one of the episodes. With the newsletter it is a rather single serving type of thing as it would require a lot of work for somebody to get to previous editions. They would have to follow the links back to my main Substack landing page and navigate to a previous installment. Most of the podcast platforms pretty easily let people get to previous episodes. I think the friction to access older episodes is lower within the podcast ecosystems. 

I’m still processing what part of my last Substack post caused people to want to leave the newsletter. As a platform, Substack systems handle all of that type of processing. That is one of the reasons I’m using Substack instead of the weblog where these words written right now are posted. The last post did have more of an investigative journalism type writing style than a pure scientific readout type perspective. It’s possible that maybe after 75 editions those readers were just exhausted from reading about machine learning and artificial intelligence each week. I have tried to keep my writing action packed, content filled, and on the shorter side of what an essay could be vs. going long form like an academic paper. You could probably say my efforts are more aligned with the research note framework compared to anything else. We will see what happens to subscriber counts as we move from week 75 to the two year anniversary of my Substack efforts at week 104. That milestone will be here soon enough. Time does seem to move along at an accelerating rate.

Focused purposeful writing

My writing is starting to happen in blocks that could be Tweets, “Ok links to week 68 of The Lindahl Letter have been posted to both Twitter and LinkedIn. Last week I wrote, but did not record audio for week 71. This morning I wrote the first half of a double issue for week 72.”

My goal for this week is to be really focused on purposeful writing. All my communications are going to be edited and rock solid this week. It feels like my ability to write lately has required more sustained focus. Something is different for sure, but it is not apparent.

Today is probably going to be a day of working on tasking and knocking things out. Normally my productive window is early in the morning hours, but today I’m going to have to be ruthlessly focused on getting this done during a 5 hour block of time.

A useful repository of stored wisdom

Rain is falling outside this morning. It is a welcome bit of weather to a very dry year. Opining about the weather is probably not the best start to this writing sesion. It is a start however and I’ll take it for what it is worth. A few words as a starter to get the process of typing going. Sometimes a little nudge in the right direction is all the writing process needs. I’m still logging notes and other observations in Google Keep. That has worked out well enough. The key piece in taking notes is grabbing something useful and packaging it for later use. 

Without the possibility of using it again the notes themselves are probably not going to be Without the possibility of using it again the notes themselves are probably not going to be revisited. Certainly I have a few notebooks that are full of long forgotten notes that will never be revisited. Some of my college notebooks are now a couple of decades old and have not been revisited at all or even really glanced at casually. They have simply been moved from bookshelf to bookshelf over the years. At this point, they are more of a visual reminder of something from the past and not a useful repository of stored wisdom. Over the course of so many years and so many notes a lot of nuggets of truth and a ton of false starts reside in those notebooks.

Today I’m hopeful it will be one of those days where things happen and things get done with a single minded purpose focused on pushing things forward. Moving in the direction of a perfect possible future. This month in general is starting off with a lot of possibilities. That is what happens when you look at the open space in front of you and think about what can be done with the time you have. Certainly the work will need to be put in to help drive things forward.

That last day of April

We made it to the last day of April. I have spent the last two hours researching and writing this morning. My writing output in terms of weblog posts was not very good this month. I have a calendar view that shows me the gaps in my daily publishing and it clearly shows that this month was not full of productivity. Overall my productivity was ok and no goals or deadlines were missed, but it was not the peak of my writing productivity.

Earlier today I started to sketch out an algorithm to define offensive vs. generally normatively accepted utterances. That is something that I think could be defined as an algorithm to reflect a point of time, but I don’t think it would stay consistent over the course of time. It would probably take me about 4-6 hours to fully sketch and get the basic algorithmic definitions lined up. Today will not be the day where that time is committed to making that happen. Deciding how to spend time each day is an important part of the decision making process.

Oh that Wednesday arrived

Posts can now resume with the great server migration completed. My thoughts over the last two weeks have been confused on things, but not on writing or chronicling my efforts along the search for the perfect possible path forward. During the course of the brief online freeze I did use Twitter a bit and that was an interesting journey. It appears that Twitter has been purchased and will become a privately held company. It made me wonder about the total value of stock for a company. Generally speaking at the given market price of a stock everybody could not sell their stock. At the point where everybody that held a stock was trying to sell it the value of that stock would plummet exponentially. Most companies in the marketplace could not support at their current value a total replacement of investors. I actually find it interesting to look at the amount of a stock volume that trades hands every day for a given company. For the most part, you will see a small volume of stock up for trade each day will be far less than 20% of total outstanding shares. 

You can go look at the biggest average daily trading volumes (ADTV) for companies. Yesterday on April 26, 2022 for example the largest daily trading volume was for Twitter at around 115 million shares. The total number of outstanding shares for the company is around 763 million. That amounts to around 15% of the outstanding shares for the company being exchanged yesterday. In general, that is a large amount of activity between buyers and sellers for a single company. My thoughts then drifted into thinking about those metrics for a bit before circling back to the activity that is supposed to be at hand which is writing this morning. I had wanted to write 1,000 words in this very word processing document before sending this post off for publication. That is where my head was at this morning. I figured producing a good block of prose would help start my day off on the right path. 

I had brewed a cup of the Ethiopia Nespresso pod coffee instead of two shots of espresso today. Sometimes you have to mix it up a little bit. I’ll probably order those pods again at some point. I have been enjoying them as an alternative to two shots of espresso. My afternoons of course should be green tea and that is how the plan is supposed to work. Coffee or espresso in the morning and green tea in the afternoon. Sometimes the green team simply gets replaced with more espresso. That happens from time to time depending on what is going on during the day. For the most part being focused on the work at hand becomes the priority and settling into a state of deep focus on the hard challenges is where things should drift to after the start of the day. The first few minutes of the day are generally cloudy and it takes just a little bit to go from that fog of daybreak to a truly productive state. 

Even with that little bit of prose about coffee this post is only about half way to the targeted work count for this stream of consciousness based effort. Part of the desired process is to just let my mind wonder in whatever direction happens to be pulling my attention. At the moment, my attention is nearly wholesale focused on a task list and working toward the resolution of the things on that list. Everything else might as well be far off into the distance like shadows of things you could approach, but it would require a lot of effort to get to that point. Something will have to give on that front and hopefully it will be a burst of productivity aimed at reducing the task list to a manageable amount of things. That should open the door to some pursuits outside the process of revisiting a list for the next item. Sometimes you have to move beyond the get next command and ask yourself about the things occurring in the wild space outside that list. 

Just for content if you were trying to produce a solid million words per day instead of working on a 1,000 word start of the day posting production target. You would have to work a little harder and probably invest a bit more time into the production target of 2,740 words per day. Given the reality of sustaining that level of productivity you probably will want to work toward a production level of posting target of 3,000 words per day. Sitting down and writing 3,000 words in a single sitting or flourish of creativity is possible. Doing it for an entire year is a different matter altogether. That type of sustained writing productivity is geared more toward something that a professional writing would achieve. Producing a million words in one big giant pile of prose for any reason is an awfully large amount of content. Very few people sit down and try to engage in that level of production. You could very well say that it would be a big year. A categorically larger than what you would expect to the point of being you considering it a “big” writing productivity year. That point is probably not worth any more inquiry. It has been examined and can probably stand on its own merits at this point. 

My closing thoughts on this writing session are all over the place at the moment. I’m thinking about trying to take on a big year again. At the same time, I’m remembering that that is a very big investment of writing time and energy. Sitting down and writing 3,000 words without an outline or any guide posts of what should be covered is a really intense commitment into the world of stream of consciousness prose. At that point the final outcome of what is created will be a consequence of the process, not the achievement of something on a task list.

A few Sunday writing adventures

At this point in the Substack journey, I’m still working 4 weeks ahead in terms of finished posts. Audio editing and recording is working out well enough. The podcast is up on a variety of platforms thanks to the RSS feed. My writing output is still focused on the one post produced throughout the week with audio being recorded during the early hours of the weekend. For this week I’m a little bit ahead of schedule and will be able to focus on some other things in terms of academic writing. To that end, I’ll need to make sure and really take advantage of the opportunity to do something interesting. 

Earlier this week I changed my desk charging configuration to include two Pixel stands. Getting to the point where I’m not picking up or looking at my phones is always a key driver for my desk management plans. I have a Pelican G40 Personal Utility Go Case, but sometimes I need to have the batteries at full for future adventures. I’m wondering if a general movement away from carrying smartphones around will occur. I’m going longer and longer stretches without dealing with the phone. When I’m at home the phone actually rings to a Bluetooth paired traditional handset system with a couple bases throughout the house. That makes it function in the ebay a landline would have performed.

Things on the weblog publishing front have not gone well this month. Last month included several solid streaks and daily writing. For some reason this month has had solid focus on producing quality outputs, but writing for the weblog has just not occurred properly. I actually have a few Google Docs with content in them that were never transferred over to actual publication. Sure that happens from time to time as sometimes the path to art becomes about the process and not the final product. I know that not everything that gets started is going to get finished. False starts are a part of the writing process and they are going to happen from time to time. 

Apparently this weekend the Coachella festival happened and I’m not sure I really understand it. You can watch it on YouTube if you have a need to consume streaming concert footage. This morning I listened to an hour or two from the Saturday lineup. The production value is pretty high for a live concert. That is what I took away from it outside of the striking need to make more shots of espresso. After going to the Colorado Avalanche game last night things seem to be off to a slower start.   

This particular Monday

It took about 30 minutes for me to really wake up today. This particular Monday is off to a somewhat delayed start. My writing efforts yesterday were solid enough and progress was made, but none of that progress was on the weblog front. On the brighter side of things I started to really consider some different research interests. Sometimes I will entirely form up a presentation deck or idea and then build it in PowerPoint or write it up in a word processing document after the fact. Building things mentally before trying to work them out in between a presentation construct, the keyboard, and my thoughts can involve more layers than are necessary during the creative part of the question. Generally the more thought that goes into what is going to be produced the better the quality the final product will be at the end of process. Other times I’m just ready to make it happen from the point of sitting down in front of the keyboard.

This week should be an interesting test on the writing front. Tonight is the national championship game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Pretty much all writing will stop for the game and it should be entertaining. I vividly remember the 2008 game and how wild it was to watch that one. That seems like it happened so long ago, but some of those things we pick up in memory are just more vivid than others. While the outcome of that game should not really impact my writing productivity level for the entire week it probably will have an impact. It is natural for emotion to drive or curtail the writing process. Being really productive is such a mercurial thing that it could go either way really. We will see what happens at the end of the day. 

I’m going to need to stay about three issues of “The Lindahl Letter” ahead of publication based on my commitments this summer. That should not really be a problem based on where I am at currently. Some essays are going to require a little bit more investment than others based on how deeply the research needs to go on them from start to finish.