2018: Day 59 the one where my new Casper pillow arrived
Word count 137,371 + 2,027 or 139,398 of 1,000,000
It was about a year ago that we got a new Casper mattress. They sent me a reward code and now I have a brand new Casper king sized pillow. Oddly enough that is something that I have been wanting. I did not need a new pillow, but I wanted one. They were just priced out of my spending target window for a pillow. In this case with a reward code it seemed now was the time. It looks like a pretty decent pillow and I’m waiting to see how it works out. That test is going to have to wait until this blog post is complete. It is late in the day. My writing efforts did not start out the way they were planned. That now seemingly elusive morning writing session is just not happening. Things just keep getting in the way. I know that the power of my stop doing list has to empower me to capture the things that are import to me and discard the rest. Sure that is easy enough to write and easy enough to consider. It is harder to make happen in practice than you might expert. Tiny tasks bring a certain tyranny to your day. You can feel busy and feel like you are accomplishing something.
It is like the folks that confuse meetings with work. Both action and inaction are valid courses to traverse along the journey. Meetings are not a journey. Nobody ever woke up and wanted to have some meetings along the way to that perfect possible future. That makes sense. It might take you just a minute to get to that point, but it will make sense at some point. Writing is not really something that I consider to be work. It is a part of the journey. A journey that is set to span every day of this year. It is a true inquiry into where I am right now and where I am going. The process of writing 3,000 words per day is about so much more than the simple act of writing. Having a big year and writing 1,000,000 words is about bringing everything together to reach a point of pure exhaustion. A point of exhaustion emotionally, creatively, and probably physically.
That is the journey that I am on at the moment. It is day 59 of that 365 day journey. From start to finish the journey is just getting started. Our path toward a perfect possible future is also just getting started. We look back on civil society with a degree of nostalgia. Things change at a rapid pace. All of the ways that people interact and the things that hold us together seem to be changing rapidly as well. Some of that has to do with social media and the loose affiliations and connections that are sustained within those digital environments. I like to think that more than participation in the economic system binds us together. Society has a certain social fabric that binds us together in ways that we are better off together than apart. Some of those arguments are getting harder and harder to make. Sometimes the arguments about people building digital echo chambers of like minded networks can make me wonder. All of that wondering has never really lead me down a path to finding or figuring out a pure solution.
Maybe I just need to join a bowling league and some fraternal organizations to capture a little bit of the that past nostalgia in the present. I’m pretty certain that will not be all that satisfying. Our methods and choices for participation have changed. We have so many choices for how we want to spend our time that even cataloging all of them would be a choice. That does not necessarily help us and in some ways it pulls us apart, but brings us together into very engaged micro-networks of folks forming elements of what would have been larger communities of place, circumstance, and interest. I’m old enough to remember how all of the strange AOL chat rooms connected people who had common interests that would not have ever known each other. Some of those stories are touching and I’m sure positive. A lot of them are either passingly forgettable or veered in another more negative way. I’m pretty sure that the arrival of my new Casper pillow can only lead to good outcomes. At least I have that going for me this evening.
Topic 1: Writing research papers
Today was an important day. Maybe it was a true turning point in my research paper writing career. I’m going to abandon all of my current research papers. They are all getting written off as false starts. I’m going back to my old writing methods. This time around I’m probably not going to literally set up three manilla folders to fold the paper outlines. In case you were wondering, I almost typed vanilla folders and then laughed for a second and changed out the word to manilla. The idea is pretty simple. Take the three best ideas for a research paper I can think of and sketch them out before starting to work on a digital version of them. That used to work for me very well. I have all sorts of idea books full of all sorts of sketches. Some of them including finished products and some of them including epic false starts that never really went anywhere. That is where this needs to go tomorrow. I need to get back in the habit of throwing caution to the wind and just sketching out anything that catches my attention. One of those topics will spark something in terms of my motivation and it will drive me with a near single minded purpose to produce research papers.
2018 has to be the year of publishing and in some ways that has to be related to this journey toward writing 1,000,000 words in the same year. Some of those words need to be targeted toward writing research papers. I may need to just sketch out papers in blog posts and drop all guards or reservations (self-censorship) to just post things that are in progress. That is certainly one way to go about moving forward and writing at an epic pace. Maybe putting together some high quality research papers is the right direction for me at this moment in time. My interests have really moved from researching electronic government and other public policy questions related to automated data collection to artificial intelligence. This year throughout these 59 weblog posts I have not jumped into the deep end of the world of artificial intelligence. You might think that is something that I should have figured out before day 59, but alas that just did not happen. On the brighter side of things it did happen.
The name of the game is publishing and winning the game usually is evaluated in terms of writing and publishing 3 papers a year. Last year I fell short and my curriculum vitae has a gap. The only way to fix it is to demonstrate a pattern of academic contribution. In other words, the best method to fix the gap is to return to publishing papers every year and to sustain that effort. Making a sustained contribution to the academy seems like a good goal. It seems like a goal that is acceptable and has a purpose. That purpose is to help advance things toward that perfect possible future. The goal itself cannot be the self-sustaining cycle of publishing to add to the pile. Just expanding the pile without advancing our understanding is actually counterproductive it makes the totality of the academy harder to decipher and interpret. A lot of publications that make it through peer review are not really all that substantive. Just like the tyranny of tiny tasks can make people feel busy without really accomplishing anything some publications are just words that do not make a substantial contribution.
Writing and publishing in a blog style format is about the process of writing. I do not set out each day to make a contribution to the academy by posting words online. Maybe that is a mistake on my part and every day I should sit down and only writing things that make a contribution to our overall level of knowledge. That is probably not a sustainable model for me as a writer. I tend to write out loud and a blog style format is pretty much perfect for that type of musing. That does not mean that blogging is the only style of writing that I will engage in each day. Part of my day can be spent writing a little bit of a research paper. That will be one way to go about changing things up.
Topic 2: All of this writing is about the journey
Maybe we move further and further away from discipline. Maybe we are moving more and more toward instinct. That could very well be the case. All of this writing is about the journey. That is why we are here. That is what is happening. This journey is for better or worse about the journey. Taking each step and moving forward. I’m back to listening to an audiobook on Google Play Books and writing. Things are quiet tonight. Maybe listening to audiobooks is not the best strategy for writing long form prose. My word output seems to be better during the course of listening to music at night. You may recall from earlier this year that I do not like silence of working in silence. For the most part I keep multiple things going at a time. That is how I elect to go about things. The other day I tried to work in absolute silence. It just did not work well. Maybe I just prefer to keep moving. Last night I fell asleep in the middle of a chapter and I should have rolled back a few minutes in the audiobook. I have read this book a number of times and did not have to rewind it.
Maybe I should go back to listening to the rest of that top 100 alternative rock songs playlist. That could be a good thing to do tonight. I’m not sure that is what is going to happen. Tonight may just be a night of typing slowing and listening to an audiobook. Getting to 3,000 words should be enough to make sleeping with my head on this new Casper pillow a little bit more satisfying. Tomorrow I’ll provide a full report based on a full night of sleep. Oh —- this book pulled me into that last chapter. I just lost a few minutes of writing time. The voice actors did a pretty good job on that last little bit. I stopped writing for just a bit and focused in on what I was hearing. At the moment, I’m not interested in giving up my audiobook. Even trying to take a photograph of my Casper pillow box was a challenge. The thumbnail turned out ok. It is attached to this blog post.
Topic 3: Rounding out the night
My replacement of breakfast and lunch with Soylent is still going strong. It has been a lot easier of a diet than I thought that it would be. Soylent is vegan based on the ingredients. That pretty much means that my diet is 2/3 vegan and 1/3 vegetarian at the moment. Tomorrow my diet is going to include some popcorn. That should be interesting. I am a fan of popcorn and movies. Suspending all disbelieving and watching a movie is an interesting thing to do. That is pretty much where my interests for tomorrow are going. I have not figured out what other efforts are going to occur tomorrow. This post right now has hit 2,000 words and that is a good start. It is not really a full blog post. I’m not sure that making it to 3,000 words is going to happen tonight.
Dr. Nels Lindahl
Written on my Storm Stryker PC and or my ASUS C101P using Google Docs