These words get going again

Rambling. Even before the start these words were going to be rambling. These words being written today got going just in time to write. Today started off slowly. It was one of those days that just does not click. Maybe it was recovering from a slight back strain or just a poor night of sleep. Whatever the cause might have been things did not get going the way they should have to start the week off. That happens from time to time, but it cannot become the routine or things just end up being unpleasant.

Still rambling on. I’m listening to Monday night football on my Chromebook. The Denver Broncos are playing the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. Opening the game in one Chrome tab and writing in another seemed to make sense. It seems like I can do more and more with my Chromebook. That has been working out in my favor. The whole writing thing for better or worse is about spending time engaging in the practice of writing.

My goal for tonight was to sit down and just write for 30 minutes straight without stopping, pausing, or reconsidering the nature of my efforts. I picked up a Boss Metal Zone M-2 guitar effects pedal from an eBay auction. At some point, I may have owned one of these pedals before. For some reason that is something that I cannot exactly remember. A long time ago, my original guitar setup was flooded out in a Kansas basement. All of the gear got wet and simply did not make it based on a combination of mold and water damage.

It seemed like a good idea after moving a couple of years back to get a small Marshall amplification stack for my office. A small head unit connects to two smaller speaker cabinets. In terms of a guitar amplification setup it delivers a nice warm clean tone that is ready for guitar pedals. Next week at some point it will be delivering the sounds of a guitar and a Boss Metal Zone M-2 guitar pedal.

Thinking about my next Chromebook

My current ASUS chromebook flip works just fine. It was ordered back on January 16, 2016. That seems like a long time ago. It might not really be that long depending on your perspective. Technology always seems to change so rapidly. For what it is worth the new ASUS Chromebook Flip C101PA looks like a strong contender to be my next Chromebook. Within the new design the Chromebook received USB Type C. That is good news for mobile charging enthusiasts. That one selling point is probably good enough to make me want to upgrade.

Buying this Chromebook was about renewing my commitment to writing. Traveling was at the time a huge part of my life. On airplanes this Chromebook worked out well enough. It had enough battery life and pretty much supported my writing needs. I’m still not totally happy with either Google docs or the version of Microsoft Word Online that Chromebook users get. In terms of a pure writing experience, I just need something with a reasonably good spell checker and the ability to save to the cloud. For some reason, those two fundamental criteria should be enough to move forward and engage in the act of writing. They are not in the end the things that seem to help drive my writing efforts forward.

Most of the writing that I have done throughout the last 20 years has been stream of consciousness related. I sit down and wrestle with the blank page or more realistically the blank screen. It ends up being a way to think about complex topics and to just engage in the act of writing. Most of the time I crank up some music and just spend some time with my thoughts. That is a process that has worked well enough and has helped me move things forward. Getting into the habit of spending 30 minutes a day writing is a great way to organize your thoughts. Sometimes I end up writing useful and pithy prose and other times things just end up a garbled mess. 20 years ago I would just hit publish and move on from my writing efforts at the end of each writing session.

Over the last couple of years, I have stopped just publishing unedited prose. That policy may or may not be the best method to move forward with things. It does mean that I have a ton of word processing files that contain oddly unedited false starts. People who want to know more about writing an article or writing a book should just sit down and sketch out a short article. They should take the time to write out a draft. That is really what separates thinking about the process of writing and just writing.

Art is art. That pretty much spells out the answer to the previous question. Striking a cord and producing outstanding and meaningful prose starts with the act of writing. Naturally, some of your efforts will be better than others. Separating out my lesser work form my best efforts is easy enough, but that does not take away from the noblest intentions of my original efforts. That noble effort is to just engage in the practice of writing.

Working on one thing into the next

Opportunities abound. We elect to turn most of them down on a daily basis. My theory on working on one thing into the next is rather simple. I focus on being positive and moving forward. Within that general focus I recognize that we have the opportunity to pick up different things and work on them. That chance to decide what to do next is very important. It might be watching Jim Carrey in the 2008 film Yes Man or it could be reading about the life and times of famed mathematician Paul Erdos. Either way the protagonist moved from one thing to the next. One of them with more of a purpose. Motivation remains a hard topic to address. For most people it changes from day to day and potentially from moment to moment. I tend to think about wanting to make a lasting contribution to the academy as something that has motivated me to push things forward. That is probably why i have spent so much time learning and writing over the last two decades.

These are the days that inspire words

More thoughts are happening than words these days. I ended up reading this post by Seth Godin. Somehow reading that blog post is probably Om’s fault. It was enough to spark my interest in typing up a few words tonight. That is really all it takes to start the writing process. A small amount of fuel is enough to stoke the writing fire for hours or in this case a few minutes. The screen brightness on this Chromebook has been turned down. Star Trek discovery has been watched and all excuses are pretty much off the table at this point.

So much is happening in the world these days that we really have no excuse not to write. Each day the intersection of technology and modernity becomes clearer. That along should be enough to get things going. Civil society has broken down in ways that were both expected and at the same time apparently unavoidable. Warnings were placed. People engaged in grand thought experiments about the very fabric of our democracy. Warnings and thoughts mixed together and produced a myriad of results. All of that built the foundations of where we are right now at this point in time. A point in time that pretty much compels us to write. We are compelled to put words to the page.

Just a couple days of reading books

Over the last three days, I have been reading a paperback copy of The Dark Fields (Limitless) by Alan Glynn (2001). It was something that I picked up on eBay. It appears that somebody sold me a book they got from the clearance bin at Half Priced Books. Overall the book was in fantastic condition. Only one dogged eared page separated it from basically being brand new. For some oddly peculiar reason, I had wanted to read the book in paperback version. That had been important to me at the time of the purchase. Alan Glynn had a great story idea. It translated to a pretty entertaining movie (Limitless) featuring Bradley Cooper (2011). The book did not really hold my attention very well, but some parts of it were engaging enough to keep me going.

During the course of reading the book I was listening a recently released Dream Theater album called New Millennium (Live) which was released in 2017. It may very well be my favorite Dream Theater recording. I’m not sure why exactly, but over the last month or so I have been listening to a lot of Dream Theater. Listening to albums and reading books is pretty much the way things are going these days. It has been awhile since writing with a single minded purpose drove me forward. Maybe something will spark that single minded purpose and help me drive into the deep end of writing. My writing habits tend to be highly extreme. I either produce a ton of prose or no prose at all.

My nightstand holds a stack of books that will be read at some point before coming to rest on a shelf in my office. We have a library in our house. It resides in my office. Some of the classic are collecting dust and other books that I have come across are simply resting on a shelf. Having a home library of books is probably an inherently good thing. Reading, learning, exploring, and enhancing understanding help you to strive forward.

This post has not yet reached the minimum cutoff of 500 words. That should be easy to fix assuming the right amount of effort and time get mixed together.

Spending time engaging in the act of writing generally begets more writing. Rain is rarely if ever described or categorized as a single drop that fell and was gone. Writers tend to write like rain. It would be strange to read prose like the following…

Clouds pulled across the sky throughout the afternoon. A certain amount of darkness had come before nightfall. Gloomy and frightful weather influenced everything anyway had planned. Overcast and threatening the clouds reminded everyone of what was coming. A small amount of thunder even rolled along to ensure anyone who had not looked up was aware of the impending storm. All of the wind and lack of sun and forced a dramatic drop in the temperature. It was a lot of backdrop for the one drop of rain that fell harmlessly in a open field. Nobody was around to even take note that it had happened. That was the only precipitation that occurred.

A simple trip to the Denver Botanical Garden

Utterances have grown exponentially. So much remains unsaid. Shouting into the digital commons has become easier, but engaging in meaningful conversation feels harder. Social media allows for engagement without any meaningful effort toward interpersonal interactions. My goal for the rest of the year returning to my original writing style. That style produces prose that resonates with me. That style remains less detached and more focused on moments and thoughts.

We could rush through the moment.

Remembering everything that happened changes things. It is the subtle details that really set the stage for memory. Walking into the botanical garden it was not the two sets of doors or the change in temperature between the inside and outside. It was looking at a poster on the wall about upcoming events and taking that first strong smell of the botanical garden that caught my attention.

I could write about the moment in more detail.

We had decided to go to the botanical garden. The weather seemed ok for the trip. It was the weekend. A trip of some type was about to happen. Today it was going to be a trip to a garden. A short 20 minute drive was easy enough. Parking in the underground structure always makes our botanical garden visits interesting. We generally arrive early enough to park in the first main area. That makes leaving very easy. The entrance and the exit are in the same place on the same floor of the garage.

Getting to the botanical garden involves a simple elevator ride with a stoller or wagon up a level. Taking a wagon up the stairs never seems practical. It is a quick elevator and the door opens right up to facing the actual entrance of the garden. It involves a short walk and crossing the street. Traffic has to stop. The crosswalk is just in the middle of a busy street. The lights flash and traffic stops for about 30 seconds. You make your way across the street to the glass doors of the entrance.

During the summer the temperature between the ticket office entrance and the garden is striking. You walk in and get tickets. Things seem colder and then you walk out through another set of glass doors to see the actual garden. After you open the door you still have to walk a few feet to see the actual garden, but the smells and sounds of the botanical garden catch your senses and remind you what nature smells like. Walking from a parking garage in the middle of a city to a botanical garden really does introduce you to very striking smells.

Naturally, i could take that writing about the moment even deeper.

During our weekends the kids need an outing. Staying around the house all day never turns out well. This weekend our adventure would be a trip to the botanical garden. It always involves a lot of walking and you have a lot to see and experience. The twenty minute drive is ok. Nobody really minds those short drives. It is the really long ones that cause cabin fever in a car. Shorter drives don’t even involve car snacks. Today was a red rider wagon day. The wagon has seen better days and one of the canopy poles needed a slight repair before we could begin our journey. Electrical tape and a long screw were enough to make the repair. It only took about 5 minutes and we were ready to go.

Parking for the botanical garden is always on the left of the one way road. The garage is much large than it appears from the outside. It is a mountain of concrete. Early in the day parking is pretty easy. You do not really have to venture very far into the garage. The entrance and the exit are in the same spot. The first ring of parking is pretty easy to navigate it really only involves one loop. The stairs would be easy enough to take without the red rider wagon. An elevator ride up one floor takes a moment. On really crowded and busy days waiting for the elevator can be a difficult end to an adventure. Kids do not really handle waiting very well when they are tired.

As the elevator door opens you can see the glass doors of the entrance to the botanical garden. It is a short walk to the crosswalk for the one way street. A simple button push starts the light cycle. Soon enough traffic on that busy one way street will stop long enough for people to cross. This the perfect example of where an architectural feature could have allowed people to go over or under without cross the street. That design was never put in place. After a quick wait the walk to the glass doors is pretty easy.

Large glass doors open up to the ticket office and gift shop. All sorts of things are for sale to the left and the ticket folks are sitting on the right. At this point, it is a simple scan and go operation for members of the botanical garden. Every time walking through the entrance involves during the summer involves a sudden temperature change. It is striking enough to remember. Your sense of smell gets used to the the gift shop and the conditioned air just long enough for the surprise that is waiting on the other side ot the second set of doors.

Nature jumps out at you and your senses pull in all sorts of memories related to plants, flowers, and the outdoors. Going from a parking garage to the botanical garden triggers a frenzy of memories for me and it revitalizes me for the day.

The process of writing about the moment is influenced by both the passion you bring to the writing session and the time you have to write.

Getting used to writing on a Chromebook

Today may be a day full of writing. Part of this week was spent traveling to Table Rock Lake. I’m not really one for enjoying the full lake experience. That is probably not going to change any time soon. It took me a long time to get used to writing on a Chromebook.

I’m pretty comfortable writing on my ASUS Flip C100PA Chromebook. It is possible that at some point I’ll make the switch up to the ASUS Flip C302CA. For a couple of weeks it seemed like I was going to end up buying the Samsung Chromebook Pro. The purchase was very close to happening. I actually got one preordered on on Amazon. Strangely, it did not ship and during the delay I elected to actually just stay with my C100PA for a little bit longer.

The keyboard has a little bit of travel. Typing for a long period of time can work out ok, but the keyboard does not have any backlights. I do not really need lights on my keyboard, but it always does seem to be something that I look for as a feature.

Today was the first day I gave streaming video no my cell phone a try. The YouTube gaming application allows streaming in 720P. It was pretty easy to accomplish. My first effort did not have enough bandwidth to work correctly. The stream kept freezing and was pretty much unwatchable. However, the second attempt at a live stream worked out ok. I must have had enough bandwidth to make it happen.

Streaming video is interesting. Without question the written word will stand the test of time. Our video quality today will probably be obsolete within a few years. Things will probably be changing significantly over the next 5 years. Both video and images will end up being an immersive experience. It could end up having a certain degree of depth, a higher quality level, and views that span from 360 degree to spherical.

Within the next 5 years the experience will probably still be from a single point of view. It will be from a single point in time and from a single place. The big push would be to have an immersive experience that does not conform to a fixed point in time or where the point of view can be moved around.

Imagine taking a hike and being able to record video in a way that somebody can retrace your steps within the video, but elect to look a different way or change the progression of time to accelerate a sunset.

Working on a new publishing plan

My thoughts have drifted toward doing a daily or weekly top five topic vlog. Over the last couple weeks, I have been aggregating artificial intelligence and other news links on my Twitter account. It would be pretty easy to just do a daily or weekly show that covered my Twitter feed. That would give me an opportunity to talk about things that have caught and held my attention. It could be a good way to go to produce some interesting content. Overall, my vlog experience has been interesting. It is something that helped me learn a lot about the process and a lot about how to edit video. At some point, I’m going to convert my notes on the matter to a more long form piece of writing.

That is always the goal at this point. I have so many false start or never starts that need to be flushed out into full on prose. Even the best intentioned writer has a hard time keeping up with the tidal waves of creativity. That is a much better situation than having to break through a never ending writer’s block. Finding the topics that can compel you to write for hours a time is the key to capturing passion and using it help push things forward.

Some issues are so engrossing that you almost feel compelled to write about them. Those are the issues you have to seize on. Those are the ones you have to push forward. Finding the spark that kicks off a writing session becomes key. It becomes about converting passion into action. That speaks to one of the central questions in how things get organized. It takes a community to push some things forward. It could be a community of place, circumstance, or issues. It takes a spark to help the community move forward toward a common goal. Given the current state of civility and the broader social fabric of the nation only a truly focused community could make progress. That type of focus cannot be discounted and it certainly cannot be sustained without a common spark that was shared between the members of the community trying to work together.

People cared deeply about chlorofluorocarbons and took action to help protect the ozone layer. That type of focus has to be nurtured and encouraged to help solve the grand problems of our time.

Wondering where all my old laptops went

It seems like a long time ago that I wrote on a Sony VAIO Laptop VGN-T250P. Some of that writing happened back in Boulder, Colorado. That seems like a long time ago. It was a much simpler time. That little laptop worked well enough. Processing power did not really stand out. Portability and the oddly cramped keyboard are the things that I remember most about it. The device was not revolutionary, but I do remember it. Over the years I have had a few laptops. Both cell phones and laptops are something that seems to get updated every few years. My latest writing system happens to be an ASUS Flip C100P. The keyboard does not have enough travel, but you get used to using it after some time.

I’m gearing up for the 4th of July tomorrow. You could probably say that I have been slightly under the weather recently. It seems to be a rare summer cold or maybe just a bug of some type. Things like that tend to wipe me out for a little bit.

Learning how to use Twitter took me longer than I expected. For the last couple of weeks, I have been using Twitter to share links to articles that I enjoyed reading. That seems to be a great use of Twitter. It has been working out pretty well. Sharing links is pretty easy to do and is something that I will continue to do moving forward.

My research interests have pivoted almost exclusively to artificial intelligence. That may be a topic that is still developing, but it has enough occuring to keep me busy for years. I have contemplated developing a weekly artificial intelligence recap show on YouTube. That may be something that I give a try here soon. Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll give it a shot.

Keeping up with observations

I actually got to see a Samsung Chromebook Plus at Best Buy the other day. The 3:2 screen ratio is different from what I expected. My ASUS Flip has worked fine, but I really want to move to a USB Type C system. The ASUS proprietary charging cable for the flip does not support mobile charging. We will see if I can accept the 3:2 screen ratio. I’m looking for a new daily writing computer/Chromebook to get back to producing more than 1,000 words per day.

Writing seems like the thing to do. Writers write. The more unfortunate part of that endless wave of writing happens to be all the writing about writing. Weblogs seems to specialize in that form of banality. It could be worse. It could be Vogon poetry. We all seem to be safe from that scourge. My writing is about to focus more on producing observations. It is going to be focused on trying to make sense of complex things. That means venturing beyond the intersection of technology and modernity.

It would be less than bold and daring to take on the observational style of Alexis de Tocqueville. Hot takes have become the epitome of social media personalities. The internet is full of hot takes. My writing style has always been a little more reserved. Our observations have to be about more than the moment. History has a certain weight about it.

We are all keeping up with observations these days. News networks are nothing more than echos of observations past their prime. Talking heads just seem to echo news on a repeating cycle. That is pretty much the basis of cable news networks. Broadcasting news on location would be hard to manage logistically and expensive. It is much easier to report and talk about things that have happened vs. reporting about things that are actively occurring. That might seem like a small distinction, but it makes a huge difference.