Collecting all of your thoughts

This week has featured a return to the daily stream of consciousness content creation at the very start of the day. Tomorrow I’ll pivot over to working on more academic content per my normal weekend writing strategy. I’m still working in a precarious position where I need to keep up with the publishing schedule in real time. I have drafted up week 110 and with a little bit of editing it will be reading for recording tomorrow morning. That will involve setting up the audio shield and microphone. Recording is not a big part of the process; it does not add that much time to the cycle. For the most part the research and review process takes care of itself. Searching, reading, and thinking about a topic drives the content creation part of the process. 

Sometimes the act of collecting all of your thoughts is enough to jump on the springboard of creativity. Other times it is just a good way to start the day. Focused and ready for the next adventure is a great place to be at as things start to move around. This missive will finish up a week where things have been published on the blog each day. That is exciting. It has been some time since that has happened. My ability to really utilize the first hour of my day on this type of writing has diminished in the last year. My finest and most productive hour is generally spent on whatever is the highest value. That unfortunately has not been this exercise, but I think that might have been a mistake on my part. 

It is very rare that people take time to really try to collect all their thoughts at one time. Trying to bring focus during mediation is usually about clearing all your thoughts aside. This would be the opposite of that intent. I’m trying to crash everything together to see what happens as I refine the multitude into a stream of consciousness. It’s a good thing to attempt. For me it helps focus my thoughts into a block of prose like the one you just read. Within that focus it is the things that jump out or grab my attention that are generally the most important. Things that are so important that they can leap to the forefront of the mind are generally the ones that need attention. That rule is not always true. I frequently will jump to considering my next meal or if I should make more shots of espresso. Those jumps are not the intellectually significant ones that help push things forward.

Starting down that writing path

A lot of my thoughts have been drifting toward what content should be put into the backlog for this year. Sitting down to rework my writing plan is something that happens at the end of the year and after building out what needs to be done I start down that path. This year got a little bit more complicated based on recovering from being unwell. Sometimes people describe a bit of fogginess or a lack of focus that occurs post this novel sludge that has been going around for the last couple years. It certainly did take some time to get back up to a solid game shape afterward. One of the things that I have been doing is going back and reviewing some of the work that I completed in that window to see if what happened was solid or needs some rework. 

To that end, my writing backlog for this year’s Substack posts is an area that I’m going to keep looking at each week until I’m super happy with it as a go forward plan. Right now the backlog file has a list of posts from week 105 to week 148. That leaves 8 fresh uncopied slots for the year to fill up and of course whatever content ends up getting replaced along the way. Sitting down and writing a chapter every week is an interesting way to go about creating a book. You really have to make sure the flow and content is set up in the right order or the content being created will be a collection of essays and less of a collective work. 

While this post certainly falls into a common weblog post tag theme of writing, Substack, and thinking about my writing plans it has become more a process blog than a collection of events. Blogging a series of process stories in a row that are essentially only relevant to my interest and amusements at the time might not seem like the best idea, but oddly enough this practice has been going on for years. You can easily check the archive and you will find while tactically unfortunate that this trend is certainly dependable. Striving toward the ultimate goal of a perfect possible future always provides opportunity. 

One of the base levels of effort that helps set up a solid writing habit is the creation is on a daily basis filling up the blank page. You can see it in a word processing program as you get to the bottom of what is considered the page. It slowly comes into focus as the paragraphs pile up and you get that sense that in just a few more sentences a victory will be achieved. One of the things that has troubled me about that writing process is just how fast and easily some of the new chat style models are producing content. All of these words were produced after downing two shots of espresso, sitting in my office chair, and spending time striking keys on the keyboard at the start of the day. Perhaps it is debatable if I’m just a slower prompt than what ChatGPT delivers in a few moments. I like to think my writing has a deeper relevance to what I care about which in the end is the core of how experience is expressed in prose. It’s that voice, experience, and more importantly directionality toward an ongoing narrative and focus on my writing plan that I like to think makes my content distinct.

That one with a bit of last day of the year musing

This will be based on the order of things; the last weblog post of the year. We have made it to the last day of the year and I’m sitting down to write with a couple hours available to me before the slate of college football starts today. It should be a really great day of watching college football. I’m ready to move over and start writing from the sofa at some point in the next two hours. Right now I’m working out of my office and pushing things forward.

I did spend some time this morning looking at maybe buying this laptop which happens to be on sale today. Generally, I just develop using my Pixelbook Go chromebook and that has been fine for me recently. It would probably be more fun to move over and use that laptop for a bit in 2023. We will see if I end up going that way later today and completing an order.

A few things that could be completed

Yesterday, I got back into the practice of daily writing. My overall December writing output for this weblog was a little slow with only 6 missives so far making it all the way to publication. At the start of the day I had a 30 minute window of extreme clarity which was a pleasant way to start the day. With a bit of hindsight on that one I should have sat down and started working on something, but instead of taking that path I just let my thoughts wander around to see where things would end up going. My desk is set up with a computer, keyboard, and monitor for the express purpose of generating prose. Each day I start my efforts by sitting down and working toward the creation of prose. During weekends on Saturday and Sunday all of that effort is generally focused on producing the weekly content for The Lindahl Letter. Weekdays on the other hand are more about stream of consciousness based writing. Certainly that will veer into the creation of a variety of things. Sometimes I end up producing academic content or other times it might be the seeds of a short story. 

Right now at this very moment I’m looking at the week ahead to try to figure out exactly how much time I have to spend on a few things that could be completed. It’s that time of year where all the loose ends that could be closed out before the end of the year get a bit of consideration. Certainly far more things require a bit of doing than could possibly be completed. The other core problem around that path forward is that sustaining effort to close out things that could be completed is actually harder than it sounds. Generally, if those things were going to be self powered to resolution they would have been compelling enough to be closed out in the first place. Giving a second round of effort to something might be enough to close things out or it could just be effort to force a false start death rattle. Either way things end up a few of them are going to get a bit of time devoted to them here in the next few days. It is that time of year where chasing down windmills with a titled lance and absolutely no horse happens. 


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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.