Working to end some subscriptions

Today should be a good day to really focus on things. I have been on a kick to remove subscription services recently. Certainly some household services have to remain and they bill monthly. Somehow for an ineffable reason Netflix survived the recent culling. We have been paying for Netflix since they used to send me Farscape DVDs back when we resided in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It has been a long time. We have had Disney Plus since the start of that streaming service and it has all the Marvel movies I like to watch at the end of the day. Initially I thought a limit existed to how many times I would watch the Iron Man franchise, but that apparently does not appear to be the case at all. Recently I even found the listing in Disney Plus with the entire Marvel film universe in order based on the movie chronology. Armed with that information I started watching again from the start and moving my way from left to right on that list slowly one film at a time. That started after I finished watching the entire Frasier (1993 to 2004) series again on a different streaming service. Outside of that content sometimes I get on a Top Chef watching kick and that lasts until the content runs out. It’s really the window right after dinner where I want to watch something for a bit before moving on to other things.

All of that was prompted by my recent relentless focus on removing subscription services. Speaking of being prompted for output, my writing enterprise of starting to type in the morning is about what happens when the prompt is empty. At the moment of zerospace, where will an empty prompt go from the spark of imagination. That is really what I’m after trying to understand and trying to figure out each and every day. I sit down with no agenda or defined path forward. Within the parlance of large language models I don’t have a prompt. Instead I sit for a moment in the resplendent pleasure of reaching that zerospace before beginning to move toward a newly created spark of something. A lot of times that something is not anything spectacular or even the right path to be taken at that point in the journey. Frequently, I end up writing about the process of writing. That trajectory is not intentional. However, I do allow it to happen. Even the very process of stringing a few words together begets more writing. That is where I’m trying to get to during each writing session. I’m trying to get to the point where I have walked down the path from zerospace to productivity. Opening the door to creativity and productivity is essential for the writing project to begin in earnest. 

Today might just be one of those super productive days where I wake up and produce two pages of weblog quality prose before jumping right into the next thing on the list to accomplish. That is one of those things you just have to appreciate. I have been considering spending some of my evening time writing a fiction series, but I’m not sure if that will end up happening. Generally speaking my academic writing backlog is so full and overwhelming that I need to just focus on that effort. Knowing that I often end up running down other tracks of effort as sometimes that just seems more fun than working within the proper work breakdown structure. 

A very productive Sunday of writing

I’m up and ready to spend some quality time writing today. Strangely enough I found a wonderfully comfortable position in my chair today as I started the writing process. Strangely enough it just happened when I sat down to write. Nevermind, I moved around a bit and ruined it. Let’s just go ahead and jump to the next paragraph. This paragraph appears to be ruined. 

This may be one of those Sunday’s where I end up shifting over to my major writing project and abandoning the weblog post at the start. Yeah – that is what happened here. 

It’s now 0806 hours and I had a really productive run of working on a literature review post. A lot of really good focus occurred and that is truly a great way to start the day. I did swing back over here to keep working on this weblog post for the day. It may very well enough up a bit of a piece that was compiled across a lot of different little bits of writing throughout the day. 

I’m just going to hit publish at this point and I might circle back to writing more content here in a few minutes.

Free up that writing spirit

Recording just completed for week 63 of The Lindahl Letter. I’m still about a month ahead of actual publications at 4 issues loaded and scheduled. I’m still trying to figure out why Substack as a platform did not send out my publication on team time this week. It does not appear to have impacted readership, but I don’t like the unexpected failure. Being on time and having things ready ahead of time is a key part of delivering quality content. 

Yesterday ended up being a little bit of an old school blogging day. Topics were covered as they happened and it was just a list of things and observations. Maybe this current streak of publishing every day is starting to free up a little bit of the old writing spirit from wherever it was being constrained.

Productivity is strange

Productivity is strange. You can sit down with the best of intentions. Your writing plan can be top notch and the things you need to move forward are all lined up. Productivity might just end up being at a deficit and things can quickly fall apart within that writing plan. I ended up working on all sorts of things beyond my writing efforts for the last week. That happens from time to time that my attention will get pulled from one effort to another one. Managing to pull that attention back to the task at hand and saving productivity from failure is a useful skill. That really is an understatement. It is a very useful skill that this last week has eluded me on a daily basis. Part of it is just making the effort to sit down in front of the keyboard with a word processing document up and ready for input. After that it’s a strange mix of process, creativity, and certainly that illusive productivity that generate the words on the screen. 

Right now is a good example of that my words and thoughts have really focused on the moment and the process of writing. I’m not locked into the right headspace where I’m focused on what’s next and generating future focused prose. At the moment, I’m really locked in on looking at the process of writing at this moment and I’m certainly present in that effort. Getting my focus to switch to something more deeply philosophical will probably be a bit of a challenge. Certainly the two shots of espresso from my Nespresso Expert machine are kicking in and I should be ready to go for an hour or so of magical highly focused efforts. We are nearing the golden hours of my daily productivity. That is a good thing, but it’s very rarely spent on the grand effort of writing and producing high quality prose. My writing window is generally the first hour or so of the day when things come into focus and my thoughts are sharpening around the start of the day. Knowing that is how my process works is a good start to being able to master the time and be highly productive. 

Right now behind me on my credenza is an Lpbin Bin-e LP storage container that is supposed to hold about 75 vinyl records. It took me a made in America vinyl record container that could fit on top of the credenza. I wanted to move my record collection from the book shelf to a rack right next to the record player. This effort corresponded with a choice to move from episodic ordering to alphabetical and a culling of anything that did not make the space. From here on out it’s going to be a one in one out method of record collecting. In practice the storage container is currently holding 52 vinyl records. Based on the number of double records the space did not allow the storage of 75 vinyl records. That means I’m functionally limiting myself to about 50 records which should be plenty of space for a best of the best collection. I don’t need a complete anthology of every album that crosses my path. The collection really needs to be focused on albums that I play on a regular rotation and enjoy.

Right now the weblog posting process involves a few different elements:

  1. The content has to be cut and pasted from the word processing document to the weblog post page.
  2. A customized message has to be curated for a post on Twitter.
  3. Within the post settings a category for the post to be archived into has to be set. The list at this point of categories is pretty long. 
  4. Under the tags section 3 different tags have to be entered to help feed my tag cloud widget. I’m not sure this effort is mission critical, but I do enjoy it.

More productivity housekeeping

Yesterday was a good day in terms of productivity across a variety of projects. A new song got recorded out of nowhere. It was just a moment of inspiration that happened to get caught during a session where Pro Tools was recording in the background. During the album generation process I have taken to just recording some of my playing sessions and editing it all after the fact to find the gold from playing in the moment. One of the tactics I have found works best for that is that between pieces I turn the volume down on the guitar to make it visually easy to see in Pro Tools where the different segments of effort stop and start. I’m also trying to work on compositions that are shorter than 10 minutes. Most of the time it seems to be the case that a song falls in that window. It’s possible maybe later on that my jam sessions could end up being 30 minutes of glory, but at the moment that is simply not the case. 

My whiteboard has a few ideas for academic papers on it and at least two of them are promising enough to warrant some future work. My current process for getting writing and academic work done is that my Fitbit Sense smartwatch has a daily alarm setup to vibrate and wake me up around 0520 hours every day. Most of the time I wake up a few minutes before it would vibrate and start my day before anybody else in the house is up and around. This brief window of an hour to an hour and half gives me the time to really focus and get going on some work. 

Obviously, every Saturday morning is dedicated to writing the next addition of The Lindahl Letter newsletter for Substack publication each Friday. It has been a long time since I have been able to work more than a week ahead on that effort. Each week I’m also looking out for topics to add to the running list of planned work on that front. I have actually wondered if next year I should just take the list of 52 topics and start over and rewrite, rework, and refine the previous content to really work toward something special. That might very well be a viable strategy to recursively work on the content making it more ready for publication into a manuscript instead of a weekly missive. 

Using the “Print My Blog” plugin I did a couple of quick prints today to archive off some content in a different way and realized that it was only printing 46 posts now instead of the full content. It was during this process that I noticed that the plugin now has an upgrade option for a set of “Pro Print” features. Online a lot of things have an opportunity to find an audience, but I did not expect that this particular plugin would have a very wide adoption of users that might need professional printing features, but apparently my assumptions on this front were not accurate. 

It’s about time to go through the entire catalog of websites I support online and take captures of them as a tertiary backup plan. Sometimes it makes me feel better to know that multiple types of backup plans are in place in the event of catastrophic failure. That could very well be something that happens later today. I like to take backups that are stored outside of the cloud for some reason and have them in case of a real emergency.

Some productivity housekeeping

Two days ago, I took action on my plan to do more peer reviews of academic journal submissions and reached out to editors from 3 journals: 1) Government Information Quarterly, 2) Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and the 3) Public Administration Review. Now that I have built a pretty solid history of working with technology in practice it felt like a good idea to give back to the research community. It will also encourage me to reach more articles in the public administration space. I read a ton of articles in the machine learning and artificial intelligence space every week and they are honestly easier to find and locate as they are shared all over by the others and other interested parties via Twitter thanks to arXiv and other pre-print services. I’m going to give it some thought and try to find a few other journals to support as well. I’m not entirely confident that a lot of peer review work will arrive from the journals mentioned above.

The forefront of my considerations

During the course of Saturday mornings I’m investing in the production of, “The Lindahl Letter,” series of weekly newsletters over on the Substack platform. Generally, that has been going well enough. The first 20 weeks of posts have been written and content has been planned out for 37 issues. My big plan is to work on that endeavor for 52 weeks. I’m not even halfway to the end of that goal at this point and I’m already thinking about the conclusion. Part of the goal of this effort was to help sharpen my thoughts on the topics of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Maybe the more important part was to allow me to consider directionally where I wanted to take my efforts and focus. Writing a few paragraphs for a newsletter each week is not a huge commitment of my time and it should serve as an anchor to help me focus on what really comes to the forefront of my considerations. 

Spending some time wrestling with the trajectory of my future writings is probably worthwhile. It would be easy enough to get out a blank sheet of paper and start in the middle with a bubble of what I most want to write about and then just sort of fill up the paper with ideas until something is compelling enough to spark the commitment of words to the page. For the most part the main method of my prose creation is sitting in front of a word processing document prompt at the specified hour in the early hours of the morning and beginning to type. That is the opposite of planful and for the most part the writing it produces could go anywhere. My writing trajectory from stream of consciousness style writing does not necessarily move forward toward something. It really just builds from the moment into the next like waves hitting the shore. It’s reliable and it happens every day, but it is the same sort of routine unless a storm approaches. In my case I’m typically waiting for that writing storm to show up based on a spark of creativity.

This post will go out via my Twitter link automation that is deployed in WordPress. It did sort of entertain me when I used that automation to send out entire posts as Tweet storms. I’m not entirely sure why that was such an amusing event to create, but for some reason it really did bring some joy to the process. After this post is submitted and published out to the internet I’m going to capture an extra backup of the whole thing just for fun. A daily backup occurs, but for some reason I like to capture my own off cycle backups from time to time. It is probably akin to the same reason that I still buy Blu-ray movies in their physical form. Streaming from the cloud is probably more popular, but the act of collecting the Blu-ray movie discs and storing them in the living room still has some value to me and probably a few other people. The number of people who get volume from it is shrinking. That is obvious from the diminishing sales numbers.

All that extended learning

Things are looking up today during this Saturday morning writing extravaganza. Rocky the dog needed out before the sun was up today and that helped kick off a bit of a writing flurry. Thankfully I was able to complete an initial draft of my Substack Week 16 post. That is good news given that it needs to go out for publication on Friday, May 14, 2021. That will give me a few days to tinker with the post before it goes live. Writing posts about machine learning is generally not a draft and go process. Those types of effort need some rework, extended drafting, and research. A lot of time, I end up with questions that need to be researched. That is the heart of why the process is important to me. I want the process of writing and thinking about machine learning to force me to go out and research questions. Learning springs forward from that process and doing that over the course of an entire year is the way to really dig in and be a lifelong learner in a space that is experiencing rapid change. 

I’m on a two week plus daily writing streak, but some of the posts were a little bit shorter. Each morning my goal is to sit down and write a full page of prose from the start of the page to the bottom of the page. Sometimes I sit down to write and that first paragraph happens and then a wall emerges. It is a wall formed from the lack of time or a loss of momentum. On the brighter side of that at least I have been compelled to cut and paste it from this Google Doc over to WordPress and publish. That means it is not a case of self-censorship it is just a case of not having enough time to devote to the exercise or the energy to complete the daily writing exercise. Getting past the first paragraph is the important part of the process. You want to start digging deeper in the things that might come to the forefront of your mind. However, getting to that point requires the time to just sit down and write for a bit. Over the years, I have gotten better about not producing throw away content. Most of the time that I sit down in front of a keyboard these days the content is either weblog focused or Substack focused. I’m not spending very much of my time investing in the act of writing academic articles. That is where my focus probably has to change. 

For years I used to keep three manila folders with the seeds of academic papers in them as I progressed toward publishing. That helped me move along better a couple different ideas until one was ready to send and out and share with the world. Getting going will probably require picking a topic that needs a survey to test the question at hand and drive the search forward. Given my academic training that is the way to really start to move forward. Conducting and working with survey research is something that I enjoy, but don’t do all the time.

Ugh… productivity crash

Being nervous about the big game this weekend really impacted my writing productivity. Even my mood right now is a little morose and an entire night has passed. Pretty much the whole weekend was a wash when it comes to producing prose and writing. I’m working on post 6 of 15 planned Substack installments. Each one has been carefully planned since the start of the project and my goal is to keep pretty far ahead of the publication date to allow for better overall quality.

Moving along Monday

Overall my focus and productivity remain at a high level. I’m working through the 12 weeks of machine learning Substack content and really digging into that effort. It will be well beyond just writing a post 15 minutes before and clicking the publish button type of effort. Sometimes that can be fun and entertaining, but to really dig in and work at a deeper level that is not the way to go about it. At this point, I might even end up working out of one Google Doc for the entire Substack process. That is a departure from my put everything written in a day inside a single word processing document labeled by the day it was written. You can imagine that creates problems when working on academic papers and other efforts that require sustained efforts to achieve a higher quality end product.

All right that felt really good. What you might ask? The second Substack post has been set to publish on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5:00 PM (Denver). The very first post hit 23 total views. I’m hopeful that the second post will garner a little more viewership. One of the things that I have noticed is that Substack requires you to hustle and tell people about your work. The audience won’t just show up to read the words.