Traveling to San Jose

Loading up John Wick: Chapter 3 took some time on my flight today. For some reason, the loading of the webpage took a lot longer than expected. Oh no, I got the error, “This video file cannot be played. (Error Code: 246000).” That was disappointing to start off my trip to San Jose, California. I did give it one more shot to see if it would work, but that ended up with the same error code on the screen. Even the live television option would not work. After a couple of minutes of messing around and refreshing the browser I just went back to listening to music. The flight has an hour and a half remaining. Given that much time I should be able to do something special with just my thoughts and this keyboard.

Writing for the sake of writing is one of the great joys of having enough time to sit back and just think about things. I had considered writing my speech out again during the flight. Sometimes that is exactly what you want to do to get ready to give a talk. Practice does help ensure that the content gets packaged up correctly. Writing about how to operationalize machine learning is something I enjoy doing, but I am not entirely ready to produce a new block of prose. Right now, I am really just refining the content that I have and trying to make the talk better. One of the things I have really thought about is trying to make a better batch of slides. For some reason, my current slides do not feel impactful enough to bring the content to life.

My goal is to setup and build an entirely new presentation after this week. That is going to involve sitting down and sketching out the story that needs to be told and building the parts of that story out one slide at a time. Working on something like that is going to take some time and a lot of thought and energy. Right now I could be working on that instead of just writing away and enjoying some music during this flight to California. Typing on a flight is really one of those things that works for me and I enjoy it. Some offices are building these little isolation chambers to let people lock in and really focus. Being able to really focus on things has always come easily to me. That is something I should probably not take for granted.

This privacy screen on my Google Pixelbook Go is still working pretty well. Nothing has really gotten between the shield and the screen. I’m sure at some point that will happen and it will be very problematic. This privacy shield is held on the screen with some adhesive stickers along the edges. Trying to remove it and clean the underlying screen would be very problematic. It would have been much better to get a replaceable screen like the ones some of the Apple products have available. Those privacy screens seem to be much better. I’m not sure having people read over my shoulder is really that big of a deal to me, but at these conferences and traveling all over it seemed to be something I wanted to avoid.

Adventures in traveling

This is a recording of my blog from December 10, 2019

Today was a day of false starts and a lot less adventure than planned. I got pulled into something that totally slowed down my plan to spend the entire morning digging into those Coursera classes on architecting in Kubernetes on GCP. My flight from Denver to New York City did not have a very stable internet connection.

Recently, my experiences with internet while flying have been getting worse than before. I remember this technology working a lot better. All I really do is read papers and push things forward in terms of surfing till the end of the internet. Today would have been a great opportunity to really dig in and catch up on some news and read some papers during the flight. Turbulence was bad enough that reading anything with a tiny font was going to be a problem during the flight.

It seems like the amount of turbulence has been increasing over the last few yes. I do not have any direct evidence to prove that assentation, but I’m pretty sure that it is true. Somebody somewhere probably collects that type of data. If I had a good internet collection, then I would be able to read about it and confirm or deny that hypothesis. Right now, instead, I’m writing on my Pixelbook Go in a Google Doc and watching, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shah.”

A Monday flight to Dallas

My goal for the week is get back to writing weblog posts with the same spirit they started with a decade ago. It used to be so much easier to just write and post. That is something that I have been thinking about recently. Maybe it was the amount of time I spent sitting in front of a computer either reading or writing papers. Sitting in my office chair and completing my college education outside a classroom was a major staple of my academic efforts. That is really the reason I made it through about 13 years of college. Reading and writing papers was a major part of my life. Back then none of my efforts were streaming video related. That did not really happen. Sometimes, I watched television, but that had nothing to do with the two monitors hooked up to my computer. The television was a very heavy stand alone box with a glass screen. Streaming is now everywhere and I think it has impacted the way I end up writing. Maybe the best form factor for me to write is a smaller screen laptop. Right now that is my ASUS Chromebook flip. This screen form factor pretty much means the only thing I do with it is work on a single application or browser at a time. That helps my writing efforts. It focuses me down to just a single purpose that might be mixed with things going on around me, but it really is the most focused that I am going to get.

Somewhere in that last nugget of truth is the real reason I like writing hand written notes to people. Maybe it is a different method of writing, but the same general lockdown into the process of writing is the same. Right now I’m sitting in a window seat on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Sure the seats might not be the most comfortable, but without any internet to distract me all I can do is sit here and listen to music in the library on my Pixel 3 XL and engage in the process of writing. Sure I might have taken a small nap at the start of the flight, but that happens. Something about climbing up to the cruising altitude just puts me right to sleep or it least it has the last couple of flights. I’m going to have to remember to proofread this post before hitting submit this time around. Not having an internet connection is a great way to just write without the terrible red squiggles reminding me of a typo. Maybe that is something I need to start doing from this point forward. Maybe just maybe worrying about the proofreading at the end is the right way to go about things. That will certainly stop me from writing and and directly posting. A new step full of proofreading fun will be inserted into the mix and that might just clean some things up, but it might very well slow things down.

A lot of the content I end up producing never really gets posted anywhere. Some of it is just part of my efforts to bring my thoughts together into something that is easier to understand. Surely it is easier to explain to somebody that mastery allows simplicity. At this point taking the time to master my thoughts is probably the right thing to do. It helps bring things together. Unifying the path forward is a great way to begin walking in the right direction.

That time when flying from Denver to Dallas

We got an announcement at the gate related to the mechanics who were working to fix the emergency lighting before the airplane could board this morning. I’m glad it was a quick fix. The rest of the folks at the gate also seemed relieved. Getting a new airplane brought over always creates tremendous delays. A large number of folks were playing Pokémon Go at the airport today. The game seems to still be very popular. It is amazing how fast mobile games rise and fall. My flight today will last less than two hours. The weather in Denver, Colorado was very good this morning. My last late afternoon summer flight back to Denver was delayed and experienced some pretty intense thunderstorms. Watching lightning at 40,000 feet is always interesting. Lighting looks so much different from above. It lights up the clouds in ways that are both beautiful and frightening.

Southwest Airlines provided a Boeing 737-300 for the flight today. That particular model of airplane lacks wireless internet access. I am always surprised the airplanes are not all retrofitted. During any 6:00 AM flight most of the passengers are probably going to sleep. That is also true for late night flights. It may be true for some during most business day flights. Two hours without access to email is not ideal for a business traveler. It is amazing just how much of a driver email is in the workplace. People provide status, request updates, and escalate all sorts of things via email. The speed of information sharing had to be slower before email and chat communication. People either had to pick up the phone or talk in person. Not only would that slow the rate of interaction outside the physical office, but also it would put a premium on being up to speed. Maybe the fear of missing out would drive different types of meetings. Maybe somebody has studied what multitasking has done to meetings. Most of the time a set of really good meeting notes could reduce a one hour meeting to sixty seconds of reading.

I picked a window seat today. Most of the time I put a premium on getting in isle seat. My Timbuk2 command messenger bag is the maximum size that will fit under the isle seat. Timbuk2 is a very popular brand of luggage for frequent travelers. You will see that logo all over airports. Today seemed like a good day to grab a window seat and snap a few photos of the clouds. The pilot noted during the flight that we would end up being about 5-10 minutes behind schedule. It was also noted that the flight to Dallas would be pretty smooth. That was good news. Earlier today I was pretty sure that my double espresso was really a quad espresso. It seemed like a larger volume of liquid, but it is always hard to tell. That amount of espresso does pretty much guarantee being alert. It also guarantees that any and all turbulence grabs my attention.

We are now less than 100 days away from the big presidential election this year. Years of my college experience focused on political science and public policy. It is amazing how far apart the experience of working every day is from politics. Maybe I should attend more public hearings at the local level. A case could be made for raising my level of civic engagement. Between fighting the tension between work life balance for most people civic engagement could easily become an after thought. My journey has included helping engage in community organizing. It has included striving to increase civic engagement at a national level. About a decade ago, I even wrote very optimistic book about civic engagement. Maybe it is about defining and pursing the right opportunities.

We have to move from being entertained to understanding the business of government. Things have gotten more complex. That is without question. We have also seen the rise of entertainment options. At the same time, the number of online learning opportunities has increased dramatically. I can pretty much sit down and invest time to learn about a different discipline each day. That might be a better use of my time than binge watching a program on Netflix. Giving my propensity for multitasking, I might try to binge watch something on Netflix and chase learning opportunities at the same time.

The commitments associated with work and family life take up a large amount of time. Both of those sets of commitments can be worthwhile, challenging, and life enriching. A certain amount of tension exists for anyone that regularly overcommits as a salaried worker. Striving toward personal improvement and life long learning requires a certain amount of time. I have found that academic inquiry at a graduate school level is not something that you can pick up and put down in short segments. To really understand some of the tougher subjects takes dedication and blocks of uninterrupted hours.

It is truly a gift to watch a toddler learn about the world. It all starts with open inquiry and earnest attempts to interact with things. That can often be a dangerous approach to things. You pretty much have to ensure the environment is controlled and safe. You can try to read a toddler an academic journal at bedtime. I have found that it is not a very effective strategy. You can try to watch academic lectures on YouTube with a toddler. I have also found that is not a very effective strategy. Maybe it is about finding the fight content at the right time.

My goal is to pick a topic every day that catches my attention and to write about it. That involves capturing 15 to 30 minutes for the express purpose of writing. For the most part that writing session will involve striving to understand how the intersection of technology and modernity changes the way we interact with the world. Most of the time that does not involve establishing a hypothesis and testing it. Maybe it should involve a more rigorous scientific method, but that is probably not going to happen any time soon. Most of the writing that I complete involves documenting my stream of consciousness in weblog style format. That frequently involves sudden changes in topic. That is fundamentally apart from the effort required to produce an academic article. Throughout the last decade, I have always tried to work on three academic articles at any one time. I tend to work on them a little bit at a time until something inspires me to drive one of them forward to conclusion. Sometimes that involves starting a new article and completing it very rapidly. Sometimes it involves being willing to retire a false start to the stack of incomplete work.

That vacation in Shell Knob Missouri

A certain amount of passion for a subject can fuel the need to write. Sometimes a certain type of spark happens that drives you to write. That type of spark involves more than having a take on something. It has to be driven by the need for progress. It has to be fueled by the need to move forward. Motivational factors are rarely all equal for anybody at any time.

Writing has been challenging recently. I’m going to focus on producing 1,000 words a day. I’m happy enough with the keyboard on my ASUS Flip Chromebook. The keyboard on my Nexus 9 tablet is still completely disappointing. The words that will be produced will be focused and targeted on the things that draw my attention. That will be the key deciding factor that will rive my creation of prose.

Part of this week has been spent at a lake. Oddly enough a lake called table rock. My week of paid time off has been entertaining. I checked my email every hour on the hour, but for the most part work calls have been avoided. Over the years I have written about management and taught introduction to management classes. However, none of those efforts translated to learning how to take vacation successfully.