Yesterday I did a lot more document formatting than I did any real coding or development. Some time was spent reading about how to make graphs using commands in Jupyter Notebooks. Most of the document formatting efforts had to do with getting the Graduation with Civic Honors book from back in 2006 formatted into a single post. That entire book is about 25,000 words contained in 14 chapters. I probably do need to get an SSL certificate setup for that website. Right now it is showing up as not secure. That is the one thing I really do not like about my current hosting provider. The amount of work it takes to get the SSL certificate setup and going is really surprising. My expectation is that they would have figured out how to just deploy those things by now given how standard they are becoming in the industry. If you wanted to go see the book in a single frame, then follow this link below or at the top of the blog navigation menu.
Graduation with Civic Honors: Unlock the power of community opportunity
Today is going to be a super active and productive Monday. That is my effort to will action into existence at the start of the day. That might be more inspirational than it is practical. Each day we effectively decide what course of action we are going to take one step forward at a time. Seeing the world in the framework of the moment let’s people decide over and over again what they are going to do next. Willing a small amount of action into existence is about knowing what is possible or what needs to be done and moving along a trajectory toward that perfect possible future. Sure that might seem idealistic, but the only way to get things done is to work toward completion. Striving toward that goal is inherently the nature of what it means to take action. Every bit of that is inherently part of the daily moments of deciding that we mostly elect to ignore. Muddling through the things that need to get done based on routine is an easier path than accepting a trajectory toward the things that are hard. The things worth doing at a much grander scale.
At the moment, I’m moving along slowly this morning. My focus is all over the place at the moment. Today is just one of those days where the things that have to get done are pending something external. Waiting for things to fall into place is always something that tests my ability to wait with patience. I’m generally first in the pool. Walking right up to the bleeding edge of technology is something that I am comfortable with and have been for years. It is the process of waiting for things that I struggle with almost every time. Maybe a few times along the way I have just moved on and tried something different. That course of action helps avoid having to use patience. Sometimes the original thing will work out, but starting to dig into an alternative always helps refocus the mind on a positive path forward.
Day after day my note taking intraday has been questionable. I used to be able to remember the list of things that happened every day and quickly turn those into readable prose. Adventure was enough to detail, but the day to day muddling through became harder and hard to describe. Year after year that has become more and more completely and totally true. It went from a shadow on my memory to a near wall around happenings. Taking notes is easy enough and I have both Google Recorder and Google Keep ready to keep track of anything that stands out enough to be noted down. Maybe that is the crux of the problem and that some things are not standing out and becoming memorable. Time is passing and things are being done, but those things do not meet a certain threshold to be memorable. Even being present in the moment is not enough to turn the corner on that one and set the foundation for something solid enough to report on or even something that deserves deeper consideration.
Primarily, the word processing program I’m using for writing is Google Docs. I have a subscription to the latest Microsoft Word, but I keep going back to Google Docs and that has been the case for some time. Given that I create a new word processing document every day to begin my writing journey it is easy to look at the file extensions and figure out what has been used. At this exact moment in time, I do not remember exactly why the switch happened. At the moment, it is more of a sustained habit than a data driven poignant choice of one over the other. Maybe that argument is equal to the one above about my intraday note taking. I don’t really know why my note taking or creation of things slowed and maybe it is just more of a habit and no other real value should be ascribed to it.
This cup of coffee is growing on me in terms of my appreciation of it as each sip gets consumed. Right now my Warren Zevon radio station on Pandora is pretty much doing everything, but playing any Zevon. It might be better to grab a record from the shelf and let something spin this morning in a more analog fashion. My record collection has now grown larger than 50 vinyl discs being stored on the shelf. That is an easy metric to know since the dust bags covering most of them came in a package of 50 sleeves. That means the last few on the shelf are abriding that first batch of dust protectors. It was probably time to plan ahead and buy some more awhile ago and maybe that is something that will happen today. It will take a little bit of hunting around to get the same brand of dust protection sleeves.
These are indeed strange times. People are trying to figure out how to get back to the routines of the past. I’m trying to figure out how to have better and more productive routines. Most of my time over the last few years has been spent in this office where I am writing right now and working on managing my desire to know more vs. my need to create more prose. Part of that is just focusing my efforts on making contributions to society in general. My method of giving back has been contributions to the academy and conducting research. Over the years my efforts to give back and share my research methods have been sporadic and should have been better. That is easier to right down than to really accept or understand. Saying that my academic contributions should have been greater in frequency is probably the quintessential scholarly lemment. In these strange times my efforts to take one step forward at a time and work toward a trajectory of making contributions is at least easier to understand and manage.
This cup of coffee is now half gone and my thoughts are beginning to get a little more focused. Strangely enough it took more than a page of meandrous writing to get to this point in the daily writing journey. Sometimes getting to this point in the journey never arrives. The question really is what to do with this moment of self aware pontification. Perhaps the endless string of Bruce Springsteen songs playing will provide some council on what happens next. Some musicians have a proven history of recording album after album. That is similar to writing every day, but somewhat different. My writing efforts are typically created and exist until the next iteration. For better or worse most songs are written in a different way. They are not created from start to finish and then performed again in a slightly different way to see what happens. The iterative format is mostly replaced with editing, collaboration, and rework. Very rarely do I ever spend the time to work and rework a paragraph or section of something to that type of quality and or desired outcome. Something that is going to get published might receive that type of attention.
Now that I’m sitting and thinking about that last paragraph, maybe the goal for this year is to get to that point of editing on a few things. Getting to the point of publication where that type of effort will be required is probably the desired outcome. It will be a crowded field of ideas this year. My interest in elections is shared by a wide array of thinkers, researchers, and actively publishing academics. That means the models and corresponding academic publications will need to be excellent to crowd out all the other things people are trying to publish. I’m not really worried about that. My efforts are always developed from scratch and coded up to do what I want them to do making it easier to share something unique with the world. That last sentence is not a piece of prose I’m very happy with at the moment. I’m going to leave it, but this paragraph is a clear example of something that could be rewritten to be better. Perhaps a little bit of editing and rework would have made this missive way better.
Some of my routines are completely planned out. Every work day I put on a dress shirt. My current collection includes 10 of these shirts from the same brand in different colors. They get worn in the order they come out of the dryer and returned to a hanger. Once a week they get gently washed five at a time and returned to hangers. That creates some change in the order, but requires no real effort to think about which one is going to be worn on any given day. It took a little bit to find dress shirts that could be washed instead of having to be dry cleaned, but that is a barrier that can be overcome with a little searching tag instructions. Consider the heart of why that routine is planned out. Zero thought goes into what I’m going to wear for the day. All the thought that was going to go into that planning endeavor is long since invested. Those few minutes regained every should be a gift to help get things done. I’m not entirely sure that every minute is managed properly toward walking down the path to a perfect possible future.
Working out the best way to manage my daily routines and planning for the future is a large part of what drives my days forward. Figuring out how to execute the plan and removing the little things that crop up along the way is really how it goes on a daily basis. From a purely academic perspective, I know that every year has 4 quarters built into it and that every quarter of the year should be devoted to writing a paper. A published paper is a unit of contribution to the academy. Some contributions are a lot more meaningful than other ones, but trying to put 4 contributions into the academy jar a year greatly improves the odds that one of them will be lasting and meaningful. Being a pure judge of history in the moment to know which paper at the time will have the academic strength of a giant’s shoulders to facilitate other work being done to advance it would require a working crystal ball of prediction. Most academic authors with a working crystal ball might use it for other less noble endeavors than predicting the long term work of a contribution to the academy at large.
You might be wondering how exactly my dress shirt routine is helping contribute to grand academic endeavors. As a stand alone project it did nothing more than free up some time that could be banked toward something useful. Banking a little bit of time every day toward the march to a perfect possible future is where the contribution ends up being meaningful. We bring things together and get ready to move forward. Our perception of the moment gears us toward planting a seed of action instead of generally running forward and hoping the direction is true and correctly chosen. That is why during the focus we have on the moment when an action is being selected it is so important to be present in that moment and drive toward a meaningful path. Procrastination and the fear of self censorship stand as pressures against taking that next step forward, but those are known enemies of the pursuit of meaningful contributions. Sometimes they win from time to time, but they have to be understood and mitigated via the introduction of the best possible working routines and the introduction of solid planning efforts that help keep a trajectory toward the future.
Coffee happened. This weekend seems to be devoid of any blocks of extreme writing time. Part of that a consequence of the drive between Colorado and Kansas. Last night I did intend to sit down and write for a little bit, but things ended up taking up my time. That is the one thing that is really hard to control. Really digging in and working on complex things takes time. I’m not in full control of my time anymore. That seems to happen as you get older and have more commitments. Life happens. Just like coffee happens. None of that stops me from engaging in better planning to find blocks of time to invest in the things that require my time to push them forward. One of those things has been really digging into advancing my current talk on machine learning and trying to take some of the later sections to the next level.
Early next year, I will circle back and record audio for each of these weblog posts. I have not figured out a really solid method to record audio on my Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone and post that audio to this weblog. The new Google Recorder app produces audio files in a m4a format that this weblog platform does not ingest and display. I had messed around with trying to figure out how to convert m4a to mp3 via some type of application on my smartphone. It is relatively easy to make the conversion from the Audacity audio software, but that requires using a Chromebook/desktop computer.
The next version of my presentation is going to go deeper into examples and be more practical. A few new slides are under development:
- Example ML strategy
- Vector aligned ML ROI examples
- Example compendium of ML KPIs