Getting ready for the long 2018 journey to one million words

2018: Day 2 of 365
Word count 5,527 of 1,000,000

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the second post in my new 3,000 word per day writing series. It will be a series that will pretty much last all year. You may have guessed from the last post that pretty much every day of 2018 will be full of rather lengthy, rambling, and otherwise thoughtful weblog posts. Writing one million words in the same year will make for a very big year. Truly I am expecting 2018 to be a big year. To that end my brand new Chromebook is up and running. I’m quickly and without much fanfare getting used to typing on my new ASUS Flip C101P Chromebook. Overall the system build and feel between the ASUS Flip C100PA-DB01 and the C101P are pretty much the same. The keyboard is different between the two devices. I am not able to exactly describe the difference between the two keyboards. Maybe later this week. Chromebooks really are reasonably priced for the hardware that you get. I totally get how and why they are becoming more pervasive within schools.

Chromebooks are really easy to setup these days. That is not a sponsored statement. I just appears to be true. Switching between two Chromebooks literally involved about 5 minutes of downtime. This Chromebook had to be plugged in to charge out of the box. That was easy enough with the USB Type-C cable ASUS provided. Having the ability to charge my Chromebook from one of my portable battery packs really does provide peace of mind. After pushing the power button the screen started up. A wifi connection had to be made and then my profile was ready within a couple minutes of logging in to my Google account. Somewhere in the background applications might have been downloading or something, but I have been writing from Google docs and all it requires is a web based connection to get going.

Sometime during Q3 of 2017 I switched from using MIcrosoft Word as my primary work processing document software to Google Docs. Both pieces of software work well enough and have been a part of my writing routine for years. Google Docs has just been my go to writing application for some reason. The Microsoft Office 365 version of Word for Android and Google Docs are not all that different. It could just be the layout of the ribbon or something in the aesthetics, but I do strongly prefer Google Docs at the moment. That could be something that will change again this year. Google Docs have much stricter size limits vs. Microsoft Word. Writing at a pace of 3,000 words per day I will hit the character limit for a Google Doc in short order. That limit for a Google Doc appears to be 1,024,000 characters. My goal this year involves writing one million words. If that character limit is correct, then Google Docs are at least an order of magnitude smaller than necessary.

I thought you might enjoy some thoughts about new years eve specific to his year. Please consider that compared to most new years eve stories this one will be somewhat boring. It was however interesting to me. It probably would not rank very highly in your new years eve story lists. This year for me new years eve was interesting to say the least. This year things just happened. I learned that they have a party near the San Antonio riverwalk for new years eve. Seriously, I’m pretty sure that REO Speedwagon and Pat Benatar played in the park outside my hotel room. People in and around the area were a little bit out of control. Vendors were selling things that flash and light up. Snacks seemed to be everywhere.

It was much louder and much much colder than I expected. People were everywhere. The music started after dinner time and the crowd just kept growing. Getting to my hotel took a lot longer than expected and was very frustrating. Some of the roads were closed. Figuring out how to navigate closed one way roads in a town you do not know is a recipe for complications and confusion. Google maps was not prepared to handle the sudden changes in road direction. That is probably a design flaw in the software. At what point would the algorithm notice that trafic has changed directions on a road. I’m assuming that road closures and redirections are not registered anywhere that Google could ingest. They have the data, but the algorithm was not learning from it.

I’m already starting to realize that to hit my writing goal of 3,000 words per day it might take 3 or more writing sessions per day. It would be possible to ensure that an early morning and a late night writing session occur. All of the folks that were in the room next door probably would have been more productive writing. They played some sort of card game that involved yelling numbers. Whatever game they were playing the rules escaped me. I could not figure it out. My ability to understand party games has always been rather limited. That probably has to do with the fact that I never really played any party games.

I’m going to go ahead and warn you now that in my long history of writing weblog entries some if not all of the paragraphs might seem somewhat unrelated. These last few paragraphs are emblematic of the problem we talked about related to writing about the same thing in a long form way vs. producing several thoughtful, but otherwise unrelated paragraphs and hitting publish. Sometimes writing for the sake of writing without any real form or purpose can be satisfying, but it will generally be uninspired and hard to read.

Let’s get back to the start of my day. Today started off in a highly problematic manner. Seriously, it was highly problematic. Ok — I was hungry and did not want to wait for breakfast. Breakfast did start at the time on the hotel room card. It started 30 minutes later. That gave me time to shower before breakfast, but I managed to spill coffee on my sleeve getting back into the room. Opening the door was easy enough, but the process of turning the handle just did not occur properly. I could see the coffee come out of the cup and watched it hit my sleeve. Thankfully it was a dark blue shirt and I was able to sort of wash the coffee out and move on with my day. This incident was not the worst coffee related travel moment of my career.

It happened right before an early flight at the Denver airport. I was making my way to board the airplane. Either somebody bumped into me or things just did not go well. An entire cup with 2 shots of very thick espresso went flying into the air. It tumbled down across my tan top coat, shirt, and pants. Some cleanup happened in a rather rushed way. Whoever was sitting next to me was probably wondering why I smelled so strongly of coffee. The espresso all over me probably helped fill in any gaps in the story. That was one of those moments that I remember happening, but I try to forget about it. Ever since that moment I tend to stand still long enough to finish my espresso shots before walking anywhere.

Maybe it would be a good idea to talk about espresso shots for a bit. My trusty Starbucks Verismo machine failed the other day. It started brewing espresso shots that had a strongly burnt taste. That might sound a little bit strange. It was not a normal part of my Verismo espresso pod machine. It got bad enough that the machine had to be considered broken beyond repair. It was not they kind of machine that could be responsibly repaired. A whole lot of my writing has been powered by shots of espresso. That will probably continue to be the case.

It was not until graduate school that I even started to drink coffee. Coffee was not something that even remotely held my attention. Something magical happened in graduate school. Classes in the master of public administration program at the University of Kansas involved a lot of reading. As the amount of material that I needed to read increased the amount of coffee in my life increased dramatically. Going from zero cups of coffee to some was a major change. It did reduce the amount of soda that I was consuming which in hindsight was probably a good thing.

Buying a coffee pot happened without much fanfare. It happened after realizing that microwaving instant coffee was not going to cut it. My initial experiences with drinking microwaved instant coffee now seems somewhat ridiculous. At the time they were just a part of my daily routine. I remember the red can of instant coffee and where it at on the shelf. My routine involved putting instant coffee in a cup, adding water, and using the microwave. At some point, it seemed like a good idea to buy a coffee pot, some filters, and a can of real coffee. To the best of my recollocation at this time related to the items I am able to recollect that last container of instant coffee may have gone unused. It might still be sitting in a box someplace.

Starting tomorrow I’m probably going to have to get better about signposting and writing distinct sections of prose. Two consecutive days of 3,000 word posts without any section headers or subheadings might be a little bit beyond reasonable. Maybe the best method would be to focus on writing three solid 1,000 word sections or three distinct weblog posts. Writing 3,000 words in a day does not mean that it has to be published within one weblog post. It is probably a better and more realistic writing strategy to produce multiple posts per day. Readability will probably improve using that strategy. I really wanted to just sit down and write out of the gate this year. That probably explains why these two posts happened. You can blame a combination of hubris and vanity for these two rambling posts.

Part of writing every day is about improving. Along the way you will probably get to see to what degree I am aware of my bad writing habits. You will also be able to tell if my writing habits improve. Throughout the journey to write 1,000,000 words in a year my writing style should change and improve in a variety of ways. Only time will truly tell, but at this point I’m hoping to be able to look back at this moment and see a solid trend toward improving prose.

We are pretty much at the halfway point for my daily writing goal. This weblog post has already devolved into writing about writing. You cannot stop writing. That would not be good. Instead of stopping you just have to acknowledge that things are slowing down and change topics. All of that could have been avoided if my efforts had been focused on writing about college football. This time of year is full of promise and hope for some schools. College football bowl season does allow a lot of schools to finish the year with a win and celebrate the season. Having attended the University of Kansas for about 5 years you may or may not be surprised to know that our household pretty much stops all activities other than watching sports during Kansas basketball games. That same truth is not self-evident about University of Kansas football games. Don’t take this the wrong way. I want to better fan of the University of Kansas football team. We drove to the Tangerine bowl back in 2003 and the Fort Worth Bowl in 2005. We cheered and celebrated those seasons.

Maybe watching KU basketball is our most defining and consistent family activity. I might have watched more Kansas City Royals baseball as a kid, but they play a lot more games. Seriously, they play a lot more games each year and they were easier to find on television. Watching sports has changed so much over the last few years. Moving to high definition really changed the sports watching experience. The proliferation of sports channels on television and the rise of the digital video recorder have also changed the experience. We spend a lot of time reviewing the basketball schedule and determining if we will be able to watch the game. That same amount of attention to detail does not occur during football season.

Sometimes getting into the habit of writing takes time. Establishing a routine takes a different amount of time for different people. For me it takes about two weeks to change my routine. Getting back into the habit of writing long form prose on a daily basis will probably take about two weeks. Writing and writing for long periods of time is very different from talking to people. Producing academic prose is a different story. That element of my writing never really developed into a routine. I tend to write academic prose in spurts based on deadlines. Sometimes inspiration will strike and I will produce a bunch of academic style prose in one session.

Watching the Georgia and Oklahoma game go to overtime was somewhat thrilling. A four team playoff at the end of the year to crown a national champion is interesting. Each year the games always seem interesting when they are announced. Sometimes they turn out to be good games and like anything else sometimes they turn out to be highly questionable. Sports really is on the few things we watch in real time unfold to see what happens. Some folks might claim to watch based on some type of love for the game. That is possible. Maybe Golf fans could make that argument in a slightly more compelling way.

Writing and watching college football may not have been the best idea this evening. New years eve really did take a lot out of me this year. It was very loud and unpredictable. It is amazing just how much waking up several times in the middle of the night can impact the next day. Coffee of course always seems to help. Espresso maybe helps just a little bit more.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
San Antonio, Texas
Written on a ASUS Flip Chromebook C101P using Google Docs

P.S. I did manage to edit this weblog post, but that does not appear to have helped very much. Some of the content ended up being a little disjointed. That happens. I knew that was going to happen. It is something that should have been avoidable.

2018 Writing Topics:

— Recap of all the video camera equipment I have owned
— All the promise and failures of my first Sony camcorder
— That one with a roadtrip to Florida
— Applied AI: A use case based exploration
— My ode to minor league hockey
— Progress within general AI vs. specialized use cases
— My review of the ASUS C101P Chromebook
— On leadership and the modern workplace
— Short story “The Knock”

Feel free to leave topic suggestions in the comment section.

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