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.


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.


Friday Traveling Revisited

Routines happen. You can start, change, or reject them. I’m sure other options exist, but those are the ones that come to mind. In my case, I made a change. Switching to writing out of a single Microsoft Word document for the entire year was pretty easy to accomplish. Throughout the last decade I have simply opened a blank page and started to write each day. That strategy has been replaced with a strategy that involves opening the same document each day and appending my thoughts. This might not seem like a significant change, but it impacted a routine that dates back for over a decade.

Today started off with a few minutes of the Mike & Mike ESPN2 television show on in the background. The hotel did not seem to have any real breakfast options. I ended up making a cup of coffee in the room and pondering the nature of life, the universe, and some things. It should be a very interesting traveling day. The ride to Midway Airport this morning was uneventful. My Southwest Airlines flight back to Denver is pretty full. Only a handful of seats are open. Nobody wanted to sit next to me today. That happens from time to time.

Southwest Airlines personal provided lightly salted peanuts and some blueberry Belvita breakfast crackers during the flight. The Belvita crackers were rather interesting. They really do have a blueberry flavor.

The one with a Rolling Stone magazine

Few memorable things happen at airports. We mostly remember what it is like to get to or return from an airport. They are places that exist between the beginning and end of a journey. Today was somewhat different. We ended up at the airport several hours early with a very tired 3 year old. At the end of the 3 hour adventure, a copy of the April 23, 2015 issue of Rolling Stone magazine is sitting in my Timbuk2 messenger style bag. That bag is sitting under an aisle seat on a Southwest airplane. Today that airplane is traveling nonstop between Orlando, Florida, and Denver, Colorado. A copy of Rolling Stone magazine is not something that normally resides in my travel bag. An interview about a film that Frances Bean Cobain helped produce sparked the purchase. I pretty much read things from cover to cover. Reading that way has been one of my more peculiar and enduring habits since high school debate. John Paul fell asleep as the airplane was taking off.

John Paul is an incredibly peaceful sleeper. It is an honest sleep. A brand of sleep that is necessary to replenish some very honoree batteries.

Somehow two different classes got assigned to me this term. Throughout the next 12 weeks I will be teaching an introductory level business class and a principles of management class. It should be interesting. During the 4 hour flight from Orlando to Denver, I logged onto the Southwest Airlines satellite based wireless internet service and participated in both classrooms. The internet speeds on the flight were slower than usual.

Getting logged into the classrooms involved a browser switch from the new Windows 10 Spartan to Firefox. The classroom system eCollege must not be fully compatible with Spartan or the connection was to slow to function properly. The main course page had to be refreshed several times just to get things running properly. Slowness like that mixed with constant refreshing makes for a very frustrating online experience.

My new goal for 2015 will involve only working on projects that can be published. A large amount of my time over the last few years has been spent on projects that could not be published. That is something that needs to change.

That one with a DIA to MCO flight

The flight between Denver and Orlando will last about three hours. That time has been earmarked to work on an economics related paper. Today is the day to write a rough draft. The paper does not have a title yet, but the theory has shown some promise. I’m thinking about calling the new algorithm the econ-o-swarm. Writing the majority of a paper during a 3 hour window will be challenge. Now is the time to set a timer and see what happens. Sometimes a little bit of pressure can help push things forward.

Buying a Chromebook might happen during this trip. The battery life on my HP Envy X2 is just not holding up anymore. The unit has both a battery in the keyboard and in the tablet component. Between both of those full sized batteries I’m not getting a full day worth of usage. During the first two hours of this flight the tablet has chewed through 33% of the units total battery power. The device should be capable of more than 6 hours of usage. All I really do with the device is write and read a few webpages. Some of the Chromebooks I have looked at recently sport 11-12 hours of battery life.

Getting to the airport was the easy part of the journey. Dealing with John Paul during a 3 hour airplane flight will be the hard part. Getting a 3 year old to sit still for 3 hours is nearly impossible. John Paul really seems to like airports and airplanes.

Paper Title: Economic micro-targeting extrapolation of macro-level demographic statistics

Abstract: ~192 words (<250 required)

Even after the advances in modern computing, a dearth of near real-time economic models exist within the literature. However, nascent research on micro-targeting has shown promise. Using Bayesian inference to fill in gaps from data mining social networks allows for advanced micro-targeting of individual spending preferences. Micro-targeting within a macro level economic model is now possible. It is now time to utilize a sophisticated algorithm to aggregate a series of micro-targeted models to describe a macro level condition. Begin building the model by collecting the economic transaction of a single person. Each transaction gets added to a list. By collecting several days of transactions the spending patterns of that individual person could be modeled. Collecting data on a number of individuals would increase the sample size to be representative. Now imagine for a moment all of those individual models were tied back to demographic data. That demographic data ties back to represent the economy as a whole. Individual economic behavior is being modeled, but it is being applied to a very macro level. Within this paper a model is introduced to engage in extrapolation of macro-level demographic statistics from micro-targeted data mining.

We have reached 10,000 feet

The announcement already occurred, “We have reached 10,000 feet.” For the second time this week, the Southwest Airlines aircraft was not equipped with wireless internet. I was planning on grading papers during the flight. I had downloaded the 291st episode of This Week in Google for the flight. Jeff Jarvis was in rare form this week. Jeff almost convinced me to buy a Google Pixel Chromebook during the episode.

Work has become rather interesting. Some things have changed and some things have stayed the same. I have been deeply thinking about several things at work. They pop into the forefront of my thoughts at times. Coffee has normally been something that I only consume in the morning. Recently, I have started drinking coffee throughout the day. Afternoon espresso shots have even become a part of my routine.

Writing has been challenging this month. Thinking about the tough questions needs to be a priority. My time became rather overbooked this month. That happens sometimes. I’m trying to regroup. Starting a new edX class this month may have been a poor idea.

Writing about business best practices has to become routine. Anything that draws my attention deserves that consideration.

Agile approaches can be used to manage complexity.I have been very tempted to write an article about agile project management.

Inflight Wireless Connections

Yesterday, my Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Dallas did not have wireless internet. The Boing 737-300 aircraft did not have that service available. I woke up from a quick power nap as we reached 10,000 feet. They make an announcement at that altitude to let people know approved electronics can be powered on at that time. I quickly booted up my HP Envy X2 running Windows 10 (Windows Technical Preview Evaluation Copy build 9841). I was hugely disappointed when the SouthwestWiFI network did not show up. Without hesitation a quick wireless network scan using my work Samsung Galaxy S4 phone occurred. Neither device was showing any available network.

Today started off very early. It seemed extra early today. The alarm on my HTC One Max went off at 4:00 AM Mountain Time. That alarm has been programmed to play “Wine Safari” from the Sideways movie soundtrack. It did not help. Nothing really helps that early in the morning. It is amazing the difference an hour of sleep makes. I’m willing to get up at 5:00 AM to start work, but 4:00 AM somehow feels objectionable.

This trip will only last two days. It is an easy early morning flight in for one night with a return flight the following night. That cadence allows for almost two days of complete work. I got used to flying multiple places in a week.

Flying out Sunday night always disrupts the whole weekend. Redeye flights in general disrupt patterns. Flying to the east coast from Denver for a Monday morning meeting usually involves having to fly out the night before.

A passenger sitting in my row just took out a tin of chewing tobacco and pretty much ate a pinch of it. Up until that moment, I did not know that happened at 39,000 feet. Early morning flights are always interesting. People become more interesting early in the morning or very late at night. The middle of the day typically includes fewer surprises.

I’m considering a move to the new Google Pixel Chromebook.

Inflight to Tampa

The last few days have been more of a blur than anything else. I locked in on a couple of projects and time passed without my permission. It is amazing what locking in with a single minded purpose does to your days. Completing a major objective always generates a certain degree of excitement. Sometimes you have time to celebrate. Sometimes you do not. Those are the times where a flood of emotions from one thing end up comingled with the next thing. That situation is always interesting. Not every project is positive and uplifting. It is always hard to transition between the two.

Managing multiple projects at the same time is about switching gears. I have had to learn to put things down and pick them up. You cannot approach things with a blank slate. You have to be up to speed on every project and be able to seamlessly move between them. Solid project plans and documentation tend to make that easier. Sometimes that level of detail is easier to achieve than others.

John Paul loved the snow that dropped on Denver this weekend. I was a little worried that my flight to Tampa might be cancelled this week. John Paul was worried about sledding and snowmen. It is funny how different perspectives can be on the same snowstorm. I’m pretty sure at some point in the next few days a sled will be purchased. It seems to be the right move. We had tried to buy a sled at Target, but the seasonal display had changed to spring décor.

I spent all morning reading articles about how the snowstorm was causing Denver flights to be cancelled. The roads were pretty much clear by the time that it was time to drive to the airport. Denver maintenance crews seem to know how to manage inclement weather.

My last Southwest Airlines flight from Tampa to Denver had a terrible internet connection. It was 4 hours of unexpected isolation. It was frustrating. I ended up watching the Big Bang Theory, the last episode of Two and a Half Men, and some Odd Couple reboot. In terms of productivity, the flight was a terrible experience. I could not sleep, but I was so worn down that I could not bring myself to write.

That gap translated to a few days of lost focus. I worked on projects, but none of them were publishable online. That happens from time to time. I have been working diligently to produce a few words of publishable prose each day. 2015 has been a pretty good year for writing so far. I plan to get back on track this week.

I was surprised that Southwest Airlines does not offer live access to ABC or ESPN during the flight. The only reason I noticed was during an attempt to watch the Oscar’s. I had thought it would be fun to watch NPH. That plan did not work.

During my flight I watched a high school student reproduce math homework by hand on paper based on some photos on a smartphone. Cheating at schoolwork is at an entirely different level. Digital photography was relatively new when I went to school. I could have imagined somebody recreating a math assignment from a photocopy. The idea of sharing homework in real time via photos on a smartphone is relatively new. It must be hard to teach high school these days. Every assignment I grade online runs through a plagiarism detection tool. That makes it harder to cheat. I wish that meant that it prevented cheating, but it still happens a couple times each quarter.

Here we go Tampa

A ton of nice restaurants are located in Tampa. A stranger during the flight to Tampa recommended a number of them including Shula’s, Charlie’s, and Bern’s. People tend to offer restaurant recommendations.  Some of them end up being fantastic and some of them are not.

Some of the new predictive analytic IVR response messages that tell you about your expected wait time are interesting. When they are wrong it can be highly frustrating. I spent 25 minutes waiting to speak with a travel specialist this weekend. It was an off-putting experience to keep hearing my expected wait time every 2 minutes for half an hour. I was probably more upset with amount of hold time vs. the technology.