Day 167 the one where things got back on track

2018: Day 167 the one where things got back on track

Dear Reader,

Yep. The writing hiatus is over. 30 days in the valley of the real are complete. Part of it was devoted to working on a set of classes from Coursera. Sometimes learning something new or reinforcing something you already know can be a rewarding distraction. It seemed like a good idea to start and complete a series of 5 courses that made up the, “Machine Learning with TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform Specialization.” Strangely enough it had been some time since I was doing daily homework, assignments, or taking quizzes. It took me a brief moment to get ready to take quizzes again. Instead of reading them for true right and wrong I had to read them based on the outcomes the instructor expected to see. That might seem like a slight semantic difference, but it really is a meaningful difference. My reading of the quiz and understanding of the questions might lead me to accept or reject things in a different way than it would be automatically scored. During the course of grading a quiz these sorts of things end up being binary. They are scored as right or wrong. Nothing exists in the middle. No grey area or opportunity for a philosophical debate exists. Strangely enough as a lifelong learner my tolerance for figuring out the edge cases has increased substantially.

As part of the whole big year of writing extravaganza a new blog post was being pushed every day at 22:00 hours. That worked out for a bit. Mostly that cadence did not work very well. That type of scheduled writing is pretty much over from here on out. I’m going to just hit publish in real time without using any schedule options. That is probably really for the best. Right now it is very early in the morning and I’m listening to my Warren Zevon Pandora radio station and writing. Last night instead of writing for an hour before going to bed I watched most of Part 5 of The Ranch on Netflix. That was not an example of high quality decision making that drives things forward. It was a moment of weakness that probably helped drive my interest in buying something like the Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector. Obviously, I don’t really need a portable projector. The new ones do seem nice, but the great 2018 projector vs. television debate is not something that I’m going to join at this time. My current theory is that portable technology will win out. That means smartphones, portable VR rigs, or maybe something else will end up winning out. Devices that are meant to sit stationary in a room are going to probably fade away.

These posts really need to diverge into two equally important paths. First, a path toward a more personal type of writing that really just explains the way of things in the moment. Second, a more technical essay driven approach designed to convey information in a meaningful and impactful way. Going down a third path toward writing fiction based prose has not worked out very well. I’m going to ignore that option at the moment. This blog post is about getting back on track and part of that is renewing my commitment to engaging in meaningful academic writing. Fulfilling that obligation probably will involve producing 15 to 30 minute blog posts and devoting more extensive blocks of time to engaging in the practice of producing academic prose. That caddence will create a scenario where my writing efforts are not going to yield a daily series of 3,000 word posts. Strangely enough that is probably for the best. Maybe a simple nudge toward a more achievable 1,000 words written during a single 20 minute writing sessions might be a more reasonable and utility effective daily writing goal. That is just 2 or 3 pages of single spaced prose produced on a daily basis and published online.

Today this blog post started out with a few thoughts on my writing hiatus. Stepping away from my creative obligations was easier than it should have been. That is the truly scare part of this whole effort to get back on track. Sometimes it is much easier to walk a path without contribution when a few minutes a day would open the door to being impactful. Maybe it really is like ripples in a pond and every little contribution has the potential to cascade out into the world well beyond the time it took to create. You might be wondering if the magnitude of that point is intentional. The answer to that question would have to be yes. Right now as we approach the intersection of technology and modernity the number of possibilities are nearly endless. Seizing those possibilities takes a bit of effort. The possibilities are not going to seize you. My new framework of hitting publish every 1,000 words is probably the right set of steps down the path toward being on track. Looking down the long and winding path toward a perfect possibility future might seem indulgent. Maybe it is or maybe it is just good to begin with the end in mind.

Breaking things down into a series of about 1,000 word essays, think pieces, or ultimately long winded chautauquas feels right. I’m about to hit publish and start the day. Today just might be the start of a wild and exciting journey toward making a last contribution. It could also be a day that involves a donuts some shots of espresso and string of literary false starts. Either way it is my day and will proceed on my own terms. Somewhere in the middle of that thought is a nugget of truth. I’ll work on figuring that one out later in the day. Right now in this moment my thoughts have shifted to breakfast. A simple 5 paragraph essay might not provide enough depth to cover that thought completely. Fortunately Netflix does not release new episodes of The Ranch very often. That should limit the number of nights completely lost to binge watching streaming content.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

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