A day at rest

I was at a loss for words earlier this week. It happened for a few moments. My mind was literally at…

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Steal that moment

Steal that moment. You know the one. That moment when doing nothing happened. Take it back. Be present in that moment.…

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Starting the literature review process

Snow is falling outside my window. It is May 1st in Colorado. Snowfall is happening. The snow that is falling includes heavy flakes that are actually sticking to the ground. The roads are clear, but the group is slightly covered with snow. That type of weather is great to inspire a desire for hot chocolate and the start of a literature review. In my case, a cup of coffee was confused and I have started to work on a literature review article related to growing and developing talent in the workplace. That topic is something that I want to better understand. It is a topic worthy of structured academic inquiry.

Understanding the structured nature of academic inquiry could underscore why we conduct research. It could also illustrate the process of how that research occurs. In this example it could describe what a literature review involves. Most of the literature reviews I have written were not intended for publication or were eventually condensed into a single section of an article.

In this case, I just wanted to better understand the topic in question. I am not sure if that is the right or wrong way to approach this type of work. The final product might be a standalone literature review or it could end up being a section of an article to be named later.

Writing a literature review is about figuring out what exists within academic literature and how it relates to the question at hand. Undergraduates typically have access to academic databases that they have not learned to appreciate just yet in the process. Outside of school the search becomes harder without easy access to academic databases. The vast majority of journal articles are not something that just shows up in a quick Google Search. A quick Google search for, “scholarly articles on developing talent in the workplace”, may not yield everything. You cannot expect that it will yield all possible scholarly results. That is unrealistic — some academic journals are not easily searchable without subscriptions.

My process for reviewing academic literature is pretty straightforward. I have used it over the course of a number of years. I hit up Google Scholar or a scholarly database and use the references from articles to map key contributions. The academy has existed for a very long time. Contributions have been made to academic literature over a very long period of time. Figuring out how far back to review and how many of the new articles are relevant is the core of the question at hand. You really do want to understand about newer and older academic theories and how older works are being referenced.

Here are the steps I am undertaking:

  1. Define the topic in question
  2. Define the keywords related to the topic in question
  3. Search for the keywords and locate relevant literature
  4. Use the relevant literature to locate key referenced works
  5. Identify what key referenced works to read
  6. Build an outline of the literature review
  7. Read the relevant literature and fill in the outline of the literature review
  8. Complete a first draft that addresses the topic in question

A day at rest

I was at a loss for words earlier this week. It happened for a few moments. My mind was literally at rest. It was an odd sensation to experience. My mind is normally racing. It is easy to react to the world around us. It is something we do every day without thinking or hesitating. We take in a lot of information and it is relatively easy to react to that information. Some people make a living reacting to news, sports, or entertainment. None of that helped me in that moment.

After a few moments things just snapped back into place. I turned on my Warren Zevon Pandora station and started thinking about moving forward. Maybe it was a moment of pure silence that I should have just appreciated. It was a moment that I just wanted to pass.

Avoiding inaction has been a part of my daily plan. All the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are contained in my toolkit are stymied by inaction. Each day provides the opportunity to move forward. My world view involves a few core values related to collaboration, transparency, and preventing failure. Making things work is about moving forward.

I have a take on things that could be shared and my world view is rather unique. Over the course of the last decade my voice tends to show up or be overshadowed by technical nature of the content being produced. My goal for the rest of the month is to focus on ensuring that my take on things is front and center in my writing.

Steal that moment

Steal that moment. You know the one. That moment when doing nothing happened. Take it back. Be present in that moment. My research interests have shifted. I’m working on real-time economic modeling. This new research thread combines my interests in game theory, data mining, and economics. I have set a 30 day clock on sketching out a theory. Goals help drive things forward, but deadlines draw a line in the sand.

That line in the sand can make all the difference. Being on the right side of the line can define the path forward. Being on the wrong side of the path provides an opportunity. It provides an opportunity to change directions. Sometimes an idea strikes in an instant. That idea can make it easier to change directions. Unfolding the idea into something that can be explained in a written form can be difficult. The simple expression of a complex idea tends to define mastery of that idea. Knowing a path forward and walking that path are two separate things.

Some time in Texas

Hesitation or maybe the need to nap has been slowing down my day. It was one of those days where the snooze button was very appealing. My new Fitbit watch has a snooze button that is very easy to use. It might be a little easier than it should be. I had used that match based alarm a few years back. It really did do the trick, but sometimes it took me a bit to get the alarm turned off. It was not something that worked well with other people around.

This flight is still going. I’m pretty much ready to go to bed. I still have the drive from the airport to the house. I may have to get some coffee or an energy drink at the airport before venturing home. For the most part, I was able to give up energy drinks last year. That was part of my consume less sugar plan.

On airline flights I order cranberry juice to drink. People drink a wide variety of beverages. The airlines probably have a pretty good dataset on what beverage choices are popular by destination and region. It does not seem like the beverage options change very often. Over the last decade we have seen a variety of vitamin and other flavored waters pop up. For the most part, we have not seen any major changes in the brands distributing beverages.

I had a bottle of IBC root beer with lunch. That is something that does not happen very often. My plan has been to stick with water, coffee, tea, and juice. For some reason, that bottle of root beer just looked good. It pretty much tasted the way I remembered. It was not something that I needed to have with lunch.


Thinking about headphones

People are hustling this morning. The airport was buzzing this morning. It seemed like people were in a hurry. That happens sometimes.  The Einstein bros bagels store did not have a very long line. I was able to purchase a power protein bagel and some espresso without any real challenges.

Over the last year, I have been pretty satisfied with my Klipsch R6i earbuds. They replaced my classic Bose noise cancelling headphones. I have been eyeing the Bose wireless Bluetooth headphones. However, I have not wanted to carry them around. Traveling all over the country involves careful packing. My switch to earbuds was purely about ease of use. Having a microphone for phone calls was also a huge driving factor for the switch. The switch has worked out well enough. On longer flights it would be nice to have the headphones again. They really do limit the amount of background noise.

I snag earbud wires on things from time to time. The last pair I destroyed got caught on a door handle. I could feel the wire stretch. That is pretty much the hallmark of doom for earbuds. My current pair of Klipsch earbuds have survived my travels.

I’m about ready to renew my research interests. Now seems as good a time as any to pick up where I left off. My interests had focused on a microtargeting via automated survey research. It started off as a pretty simple research project. I built a basic web crawler that pulled in content to either a single file or a series of structured daily files. Those files could be crawled for certain cuts of data. It is pretty easy to build a summary of the content. You can even bump the files up against positive and negative scores for each word. I never could get a daily top 10 list script to work. I had wanted it to deliver me a list of the top 10 topics and a degree of positive or negative context.

That is pretty much where I left off. I’m considering a rebuild that script. It could be an interesting thing to figure out. It would be a challenge. It is something that I believe could be finished before my birthday this year.

An airport view

An airport view

Buying trees

Problems show up from all sorts of sources. We address them in a variety of ways. I spent part of the day yesterday addressing a problem at a tree farm. It is a problem that has to be solved sooner than later.

Tree farms are interesting places. The folks at the tree farm had setup a very complex irrigation system. I’m sure managing that large of an inventory is an interesting part of the job. We looked at a number of trees yesterday. They were organized by lot. All of them had some type of barcoded tag on them. Some of them were very expensive. Some of them appeared to be on sale. It was a huge tree farm. I racked up over 3,000 steps according to my Fitbit just walking around looking at trees. My new Fitbit Blaze watch has been working well enough. That however is a topic for another time. I will write a full review after owning the device for 30 days.

A tree in the backyard broke in three places during the last major snow storm. It was a very heavy dense snow that accumulated up to 18 inches in one day. The tree simply could not hold the extra weight. It was the type of snowstorm that makes you want to buy a snow blower. That could be something that ends up being acquired this summer.

Figuring out what tree to buy and getting the old tree removed will involve making a few decisions. One decision has already been made. It does not revolve around purchasing a snow blower. At some point this year, I am going to build a new wine rack. The old wine rack is full. That is probably a good indicator that it is time to either build a new larger rack, reduce my collection, or stop acquiring new wine. This will be my first major build something project of 2016.

A broken tree

A broken tree