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.

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