20200518 Thoughts

Yesterday included a little more writing than usual. Maybe my 40th year on this planet will be a hyper productive one. Today to mix it up a little bit instead of butting up my YouTube subscriptions and sipping on espresso I’m going to spend this 30 minute window writing. Maybe every day the very first thing that should happen after brewing coffee or making espresso is writing. At the moment, my Warren Zevon Pandora internet radio station is actually playing “Reconsider Me” by Warren Zeon (2006). Kicking off every day with a writing session is probably a more productive use of my time than spending it watching YouTube videos. Most of the content that I have been watching online recently has been music related. More specifically the videos have been guitar oriented. I have created subscriptions to a number of guitar equipment geared music channels on YouTube. I’m not entirely sure how to export my subscriptions list to share on the weblog. It might take me a bit to figure out exactly how to do that. The default view when you click subscriptions is of what recent content has been published. That view does not provide a list, but perhaps later today I’ll sort that one out to get a real list created. 

After consuming my first espresso shot of the day it seemed like a good idea to keep writing. Perhaps the second shot that was brewed at the same time will help inspire a few extra thoughtful paragraphs of extreme writing efficiency. It is also entirely possible that this writing exercise will just produce a few pages of meandering prose that drifts from subject to subject. Based on what I can remember of why I stopped engaging in early morning writing sessions was that the quality of these efforts took a turn toward the worse at some point. It is hard to say exactly why that would be or what could be done to help improve the quality of my early morning writing. Sometimes it felt like the prose just took up space on the page ringing hollow and feeling stunted and separated from having a point. That might sound bleak, but it really was based on what I can remember at the moment. 

Every day an hour or so exists at the start of the day that could be spent doing something productive. Finding that spark of creativity at the start of the day during that hour of possible remains the hard part. Sometimes just getting in the habit of writing is enough to get things moving along in the right direction. The last two days all of the writing that has been done was based on using my main computer instead of my Google Pixelbook Go chromebook. The keyboard attached to this computer is the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for Business. They retail for $44.95 and are one of the more comfortable keyboards that I have used over the years. My current setup includes having two of these in my office setup on different machines. 

Interrupted. Breakfast. Shoes. 

The other problem with my worming writing time is that it will be interrupted at some point. That is pretty much inevitable. Today it was a combination of making breakfast and finding shoes. Typically those types of things stay separated from my writing endeavors described on the pages of this functional journal. My writing tends to only focus on the things that are geared toward pushing forward toward that perfect possible future. Almost all of my energy and thoughts end up being put toward figuring out what is next. That energy goes toward looking forward instead of looking back. Being reflective and understanding the nature of things and the trajectory is important to understanding the ongoing paths toward a perfect possible future. It is the end state that catches my imagination instead of the process of staying on the path. Maybe that is functionally a problematic state or condition to maintain, but that is where things are probably going to stay for the foreseeable future.

I probably need to get back to putting proper titles on my weblog posts. During this quarantine and maybe before it I started using a formatted date followed by the word “Thoughts” to title each new post. That is not a very good way to sign post the nature of the content being shared online. It really is just a method to signpost the date it was created, but it adds no descriptive value to the contained content. Right now I’m struggling with what direction to take. Today I used the default title again. That is probably going to stay how it is given the nature of weblog posts, but tomorrow might be better. 

Interrupted. People departing. 

My Warren Zevon Radio station on Pandora has been streaming some great content this morning. Sometimes it does great and other times it gets overly algorithmically focused on the edges instead of the core playlist. From the Pandora website it is possible to “Tune Your Station” and maybe that is what I need to adjust. Maybe I should change it to discovery or deep cuts. I’ll think maybe discovery is the right thing to pick right now.

Interrupted. Waffles. Dog’s breakfast.

My thoughts have focused on setting up some sample coding projects on GitHub. That is going to be my next adventure. I’m going to continue to set up Jupyter notebooks devoted to working with campaign and election data. That is probably the very best thing I can do right now. I’m going to share out my basic election prediction model and maybe work into some more advanced analytic work using Jupyter notebooks. Well that is a direction that can be taken. Maybe some of that work will naturally transition into a couple of publishable papers or at least an academic trajectory that will yield something fruitful and rewarding. 

Interrupted. Work.

20200517 Thoughts

Well —- I made it to 40 years on this planet today. That sparked my renewed interest in considering going on a tear of creating a ton of writing every day. For better or worse that really just involves two things coming together to facilitate that activity. First, I have to set aside or make the time to engage in writing. That is totally possible and reasonable given the amount of time we are spending in the house. The amount of time that includes me typing at a keyboard has to go rapidly in an upward trend. Second, my level of motivation to write has to go beyond where it is right now. Like a lot of people during this quarantine all I wanted to do was get things done enough to go to sleep and hope tomorrow was more open to the possible than the closed nature of uncertainty harshly reaching into my daily routine. 

Whoa —- my instinct just now was to grab that paragraph of slightly incendiary prose and post it online before walking away for the day. That course of action seems to be missing the point of the previously written prose. Right now I’m listening to a 2012 live performance of Metallica on YouTube they released and contemplating exactly how much writing is about to happen in the here and now. We are all tabula rasa into the moment where we perceive things. In that moment of decision we move forward to the next. Our entire experience culminates in the moment we accept awareness of it. From that one moment the next is about to happen and things could change. Any outside stimulus or force could radically change it from one moment to the next. We are entirely creatures focused on moving forward toward what is next. Perhaps the possibility of moving forward to a perfect possible future is our most redeeming epic next thing. Sure after writing that thought down where can this chautauqua possibly move to next. Obviously, the answer is very slowly to the epic next thing…

Those two thoughts did not even culminate  in the creation of 500 words of prose. Maybe over the years my near perpetual march toward greater word economy has gone beyond efficiency and started to tear away and the mechanics of communication necessary to share thoughts with others. Maybe the parts of the argument surrounding the key statement build to something instead of wasting time. Sadly enough you know that I don’t really believe that concept to be true. Brevity inherently describes mastery. Understanding on the other hand is a lot more complex and perhaps mastery of the subject does not guarantee the ability to communicate about it in a clear and understandable way. Even this brief aside in the nature of how argument moves from thought to an understandable expression did not put this writing session over the 500 word mark. I’m very sure that somewhere around this point in the writing process that is going to happen and it won’t yield anything surprisingly useful. That is the nature of extending the argument beyond the point where it stands alone and it becomes shielded in that little bit more or that something extra that does the heavy work of beginning to unfold a series of written efforts to communicate more broadly.

Keep in mind that WordPress considers the entire post up until this point a two minute consumption exercise for somebody scrolling through muddling prose of things that happen to express linear expression typically including some type of narrative frame that ties them together. My functional journaling has never really been all that linear or for that part a very well formed narrative frame of expression. It typically is very stream of consciousness based and is constructed from start to finish with little editing or ongoing narrative. Writing this way pretty much involves getting into the pocket of creativity and hoping for the best. Putting together a series of grand ideas or even probabilistic schemes would require more effort, planning, and rework than what is going into the creation of this prose. Doing this every day does create an iterative nature to things where a concept can be worked and reworked toward an ultimately perfect possible future, but that is more about the journey into building the ongoing evolution of thought than any one session of writing. It is an expression of the combined experiences that build from one moment to the next. That statement alone helps break down the previous argument that we are all tabula rasa into the moment. I’m still troubled if the moment where we perceive things is beyond our experience and is an input process. Maybe if that holds true we are tabula rasa into the moment of experiencing the world around us from one input to the next.

Yeah —- to keep it real… my writing session got interrupted to break up a nonsense fight between the kids.  That is really disappointing. The previous writing session was starting to take shape and circle back to the point. Not only has the point been lost in the shuffle, but also the next layer of argument is probably lost to the creative wind. Maybe the next iteration will bring something better. Maybe that is the point. 

Back during the year (2018) where I thought publishing a million words to this weblog was a good idea my daily delivery of prose was a lot higher. All that started with, “An open letter on writing one million words a year,” which was a little more idealistic than it was practical.  This post did not start out with the obligatory opening of “Dead Reader.” Perhaps that is for the best at this point, but maybe it will start up again at some point. My weblog posts are not indented or formatted like traditional typeset for publications. They are just a string of thoughts that are cut and pasted from a word processing document template to a weblog post. Sitting down with the goal of abridging 2,740 words of prose created per day is not super outrageous. The actual mechanics of it revolve around setting aside 3 hours to write and never missing any sparks of innovation. Sometimes when the writing wave comes you have to catch it regardless of what else is happening. That is the purest form of expression that has ever existed. It is akin to sparking the creation of gold from the air. Something from nothing comes into being at a rate that is dumbfounding and awinspiring. That type of spark of creativity does not happen all the time. Most writing is like thinking out loud and comes from a different place with an entirely different purpose. 

People tend to jump in and out of long form ongoing narratives like this weblog. Maybe this post is a good place to start reading or to catch the general theme of what happens around this little corner of the internet. All of this writing for better or worse is generally presumed to be for the writer and not for the reader. It is how I bring my thoughts together and iterate through things from day to day and from challenge to challenge. People do read the things that get written on here from time to time, but that readership over the last decade has been small enough that curating that community with reactions and interaction has never been a necessary or functional part of this writing enterprise. These words are here ultimately due to the complex nature of how writers tend to write. Instead of storing them on a shelf I elect to post them online.

None of this content was broken up by topic or any real dividing line of any kind for any reason. Hiding within this ongoing narrative was perhaps a return to form or at least a glimpse at a writing style that remained dormant for far to long. It lingered behind inaction fostered by a quarantine induced procrastination. Around here people have felt that inaction or at least the lack of clear path forward since the general stay at home order started around March 26, 2020. Today is May 17, 2020 so that feeling had time to mature and manifest in a variety of ways. People are currently trying to figure it out and understand what is next. They are probably not striving toward a perfect possible future at this time. Describing that future state might be beyond our capacity at the moment. Inside that last sentence is the very nature of why inaction feels so unsatisfying.

Topic 1: A perpetual writing ethos

Throughout the day we experience things. Taking the time to write about that experience is one thing. Reflecting on it, internalizing it, and writing about the outcome of that is entirely a different type of thing. For the most part spending time talking about the weather is one dimensional and lacks any information about what happened before and what will happen next. It describes the moment, but it lacks any of the information about the trajectory that makes the story interesting. To make it work you have to get into the groove of having a perpetual writing ethos. That perhaps is inherent to being a writer. It is certainly intrinsic to daily writing. Maybe I should have taken a little bit longer to spell out that last argument. Something more complex might have been captured within a prolonged and interesting chautauqua. A piece of that is about trying to figure out the recurring story that needs to be told. Iterative daily writing allows an ongoing journey to occur via the power of words.

Part of the journey involves being able to take notes using two different methods on my Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone. First, I have used the Google Keep application to retain things like links, general thoughts, or other media. Second, the Google Recorder application is an easier way to record longer stretches of audio. Within the Keep application the audio recording is harder to use. The Recorder will just keep recording until the stop button is pressed. That makes it easier to start and stop like a more natural writing process. Sitting down to write about 5 pages of single spaced prose is the framework of how to get beyond the 3,000 word per day writing threshold. Take a deep breath, brew a cup of tea, and sit down to write 5 pages of something. Even if you sit down to write a short story or maybe just some observations on life or the universe. My honest bet is that you can probably sit down and write 5 solid single spaced pages. The challenge is doing it again the next day and every day after that. This weblog allows a pretty deep look into the waves of my writing productivity as things ramp up and ramp down.

This line right here is actually the start of the 4th page of my writing output from today. That might not seem very interesting to write about in terms of it being an arbitrary line in the sand, but it is what happens to be at the forefront of my mind right now. I’m thinking about skipping lunch today or maybe just eating a really small lunch. That is where my thoughts are right now in this moment. I’m going to stop writing for a little bit and read that 3,10 word post from January 1, 2018

20200515 Thoughts

These are my notes throughout the day. You should be able to get a sense of time based on the content, but specific times of day are not called out. My notes are generally marked by a day and followed by a series of things, but those things are not marked by a time hearder.

After the first alarm clock went off it was only a matter of time before the backup alarm sounded the real start to the day. 

Two shots of espresso were made in the Nespresso Expert machine. The first shot always smells amazing and the second one just takes up time in the routine. 

I sat down to start writing some notes by hand for the day, but decided to just type some notes throughout the day.  Today is a wild day due in part to a rare liquor auction that is ongoing. It ends tomorrow. Today is also a Friday which used to mean something, but at the moment just means less work is going to happen in my office during the weekend.

20200503 Thoughts

Today I started thinking about actively working on two different papers/presentations. One of them I started some time ago revolves around calculating machine learning ROI with examples. The new paper that is going to exist in my stack of stuff will be a paper on very publicly failed machine learning launches in production. Both of those papers will probably try to focus on 10 examples with extensive annotations, but that number could vary widely.

I ended up watching a couple videos on YouTube:
“Daniel Shank – Neural Turing Machines: Perils and Promise – MLconf SF 2016”
“RNN Symposium 2016: Alex Graves – Differentiable Neural Computer”

20200502 Thoughts

Saturday arrived and in this time of quarantine that should mean a lot more than it does. Every weekend we clean the house. A lot of vacuuming and picking up random trash ensures. Nothing is really going to happen in terms of coming and going from the house. The weekend is going to be spent in the house and in the yard. That is pretty much how things have happened and what will probably continue to happen for some time. Before all of this happened every night was something different. We went from activity to activity and from event to event. All of that came to a very rapid stop.