November 23, 2020

Weeknote - 22 November 2020

Happy 267th day of March in the Year of Covid.

A rather heads down week or planning with some errands and running kid to his appointments. The weekend became caring for a kid’s insanely kinked neck followed by stomach issues.

Read

Not a whole lot of reading happened this week as it was planning week at work and some errands and driving my son (but having it dark I lost a bit of my reading books time while waiting in the car).

One of the things that is echoing loudly from the James Fallows’ and Deborah Fallows’ Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America is people moving to “the city” or larger towns from where they grew up. This desire to get off the farm, move from a small town of a few thousand to the state’s large city of 100,000 or more for more opportunity, performing a role they trained or went to school to learn, or to get a larger dating pool to find a life mate. This desire is interesting and common, if you’ve lived in a large city. There are people who move between large cities following jobs or opportunities, but they don’t move to smaller cities (they may move to a city’s edge, an exurb, or suburb when raising families).

Somehow we are to one of my favorite times of the year a a reader, the “Top Books of the Year” time of the year. The New York Times top 100, Washington Post Top 10 (this links to other top book lists, and Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2020 have theirs out.

Sadly, a favorite author died this week at the age of 94. Jan Morris historian, travel writer, and trans pioneer dies, as the Guardian labelled her. I found Morris from her histories and culture overviews of Oxford that I read in the months prior to my heading to Oxford where I would take my last semester of undergrad. I later found collections of her travel writings and other histories, but it was the framings of Oxford that impressed me and I still return to today.

Watched

Started in on Season 4 of The Crown and finding the Prince Charles character, whom they wrote in season 3 as a young man finding himself and a bit lost, but with a soft look on life (rather than a hard, non-caring stoic side, nor overly aggressive side), and seeing hints of the effort to spin him to a dark and evil-ish look. The glare at the end of episode 1 was more funny (in an “oh, really…” way). I’m curious where the story arcs are going to go.

On Friday got caught up with Mandalorian with my son, who in used downtime due to the Covid pandemic to watch Clone Wars in its entirety and is far more versed in the backstory, places, and names that I am. I’m still enjoying it, but is doesn’t have the richness it does for him.

Listened

Not much listening to happened this week other than a really good 99% Invisible - In The Unlikely Event podcast episode, which is a really good look at not just make instructional materials work well, but understanding the whole system first, from planes, mechanical, human, and the ever important understanding the psychology of humans.

This week Pomplamoose and KT Tunstall collaborated on a new arrangement of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found”, which I found incredibly good. There is also a really good Making of Still Haven’t Found, on Jack Conte’s own channel. This may be one of the best covers / versions of the song I’ve heard by U2 or others.

One of my favorite labels, Edition Record had some new releases this week, but so far I haven’t had a chance to listen to them much but liking it a bit.

Productivity

It was good to see a New Yorker piece, The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done by Cal Newport and starting off with Merlin Mann. It wove through the enhancements something like Getting Things Done offers, but also its gaps. It wove in Thomas Davenport’s knowledge management improvements for personal improvement and thinking. It is a good high level view, that roughly scratches the surface. But, the diversity of options and models are also ones that are quite personal, but also needed for diversity of intellectual processes and needs of different systems and purpose.

I’ve been doing some rethinking of some of my Social / Complexity Lenses Models to expand and branch them as need and realities dictate. It takes some rigor in understanding what you have, what the needs are, and even more what are the gaps. It is at that point where thinking of a system to support what is being worked through and augmented as well as things held in valuable tension.

November 15, 2020

Weeknote - 15 November 2020

Happy 260th day of March in the Year of Covid.

The wonders of smell. Not from the lack of smell from Covid–19, but the muted smells from wearing a mask. Losing a sense seems like a great tragedy, be it hearing or sight. But the senses don’t stop there, as we have touch - which seems like it would be detrimental to lose yet that is what happens when someone becomes paralyzed. Taste, I’m realizing is an odd one, as it is so heavily intertwingled with smell that it isn’t fully clear what would be lost.

It is the muted smells and the temporary loss of smells that has me in awe from wearing masks (other than it is God’s way of reminding you that you didn’t brush your teeth). Taking off one’s mask when outside is something magical. The muted sense of smell from wearing a mask, becomes magical when taking it down or taking it off getting a solid direct nose full of the wonderful world around. The background scents that go un-fully noticed on walks of trees, freshly wet pavement, a car engine cooling, all the different flowers and plants, the creek that has filled or when it is drier than usual, fires in fireplaces, and wafts of food being prepared. Taking off one’s mask when nobody is around, or just lowering it is like a firework show finale with all the scents hitting full saturation at once. It is a bit magical. Yet, within a few minutes the smells fade into the background and seem difficult to pull out of the air unless masked again, which does happen. The one scent I don’t find all that magical is vehicle exhaust, which I’m finding is one smell that really lasts. I’ve never noticed it before Covid times, but it is sure present now.

Thanks to Covid–19 and one of its traits of infection can be the loss of scent, one of the first things I do each day after waking is smell things. I smell the back of my hands, fingers, and wrist and then wash my face and hands and smell. Every morning I am relieved that I can smell.

Related, I restumbled upon Monocle’s “The secret to putting on perfume” video that focusses on scent and the use of it as a personal layer of attire, as in scenting for the occasion or work role or environment.

Watched

I finished up Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix so I’m good to start Season 4. I’m utterly impressed with the story telling and film work. The stories don’t seem to fully hew to what I remember reading and hearing retold, but I’m fine with that. I’ve really liked the crafting and developing of characters.

This week I also have been watching some recent and older Monocle Videos, which some seem to be fully Monocle productions and some are Gestalten produced with Monocle. What strikes me is how well they are made as the color grading, edits, cuts, transitions, and tempo are all well done, but they also all are similar going back years to older Monocle videos.

I was good to watch a Netherlands win today over BIH, as they have been a bit lifeless scoring under the new coach. There may be hope.

Listened

I found the 1998 Grace Jones album Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions, which has an 8 minute version of “Slave to the Rhythm”, which is a Hot Blooded Version mix. This song brings back a lot of memories of college, nights out in San Francisco, living in England, and wandering Paris. The odd thing is I didn’t own Island Life the album the original version was on, nor have it on mix tapes. It was ambient life sound track. I have some music that I owned and had on tape and I can tell you the shoes, socks, coat, and places quite vividly when I hear that music. Slave to the Rhythm always seemed to be background soundtrack to some wonderful times and this 8 minute version, which is largely instrumental fills to get to 8 minutes is the perfect background for running errands after the sun has gone down.

Food

This weekend’s grocery errands had a bit of focus on Thanksgiving, as far as sorting out what is stocked and where. With my county back down to Level 1 Covid reopening stores are down to 25% capacity and counting the number of customers in the store and lines starting again.

The weather turned a little bit cooler so made a pot of chili (beef and black bean) that was quite dense, but also really good. My son went through two bowls and it was gone in 3.5 bowls.

Play

A couple days after work I took some time to play through a bit more of Ghosts of Tsushima. I am still amazed withe the scenery and I’m looking forward to being done and just wandering the open map.

Productivity

I’ve been reworking how I’m going to handle blogfodder in Obsidian notes, which start as a link to a piece from someone or some other source. I have been keeping a list in notes, but that was one of the things that I had reworked and been keeping it in an outline, just a tag one note files, and a link on the source in Pinboard. I started a blog fodder note file that links to the source, person, and a note page for what could follow. These may turn into mid-week posts as the notes seems to be turning into 50% to 75% done responses.

November 9, 2020

Weeknote - 8 November 2020

Happy 253rd day of March in the Year of Covid.

Work week was busy. Again not a lot of extra time for reading or moving this site. The election and the week of counting all the votes ate attention. One of my favorite clips from the week was of this Detroit pastor talking about protecting counting the vote and the impact of Black Americans involvement in the process with the great line, “we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents”. I love a good turn of phrase, and this is a gem.

After four years not not believing what I was seeing and hearing coming out of the White House, change has come with Joe Biden being announced as the President-Elect of the United States with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. Hopefully this we be a turn toward calm, getting ahead of Covid by following science and medicine, and getting the economy and environmental needs back in focus. It is so good to hear a President talking about being a President of “all the people” again.

Watched

The Atlantic’s “25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again” list has been pointed to as a list of comforting movies to get through the current week. Some of my favorites on on there, like: Metropolitan (Whit Stillman movie which is one of my favorite movies, but not on my top 5 and I may need to rethink that or make my top 5 my top 10 - Barcelona I find to also really enjoy but isn’t quite as chatty and the dialog in Metropolitan is brilliant), Before Sunset (I really like Before Sunrise more, but after a couple watchings Before Sunset has grown on me and I still have the last of the trilogy to watch), High Fidelity (I really liked the book more, but I’m a big John Cusack fan thanks to Sure Thing that had friends as extras in it, yet when I think of the movie as separate from the book I like the movie a lot), Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh’s edition and the whole series I find to be fun), Ponyo (is still on my watch list and likely my next up of Miyazaki’s films, but I’m thinking of this as most any of Miyazaki’s films as most of them exude comfort, kindness, and a sense of peace in turbulent times). Two the list but I haven’t watched, but one I have it in this category is Julie & Julia, the other is Inside Man that I really would like to watch for more than just a few minutes at a time. One that I would add that isn’t on the list is Local Hero, which I have watched numerous times after watching it in the theater twice when it came out. I likely have seen Local Hero more than 15 times, and possibly more than 20, but there is always something new that surfaces and some missed humor or something in the background that is wort paying attention to.

I have a feeling by week’s end I may have watched one or two of these again, or for the first time… Well, I did watch Before Sunset again, which I liked much more this time. I also watched some of the additional content from the Criterion Collection edition.

I started in on the newest episodes of The Mandelorian with my son. My son has watched Clone Wars since the last series ended and was much more attuned to back story.

Listened

I restumbled onto the work of Yosi Horikawa, which the genre normally isn’t fully in my interests, but I found I really enjoy Fluid and Longing off his newest album, Spaces. I have had Bubbles in playlists from audio testing and sampling playlists, but back listening to it more closely as music not analytical sampling of equipment.

Also out this week is Construction’s newest, "We’re Great Thanks for Asking, which I really like. So far my favorite song is “Never Fail”, which is video of it and filmed in Venice (pre-Covid).

Food

A couple weeks back I shifted breakfast to smoothies from a fresh fruit and yoghurt stretch, which has replaced a black bean and mushroom bowl with egg on top, which replaced a long stretch of huevos verde with black beans. This was sparked by sorting out a working blender. The mix has settled into frozen banana, ginger root, turmeric root, a little under a cup or probiotic yoghurt drink, fresh orange juice, pineapple, and berries. This ends up being about 16 ounces and keeps me going to mid-afternoon.

The weekend, due to errands, turned into takeout, and finally did pick-up from a favorite restaurant, La Piquette, with a well packaged frisée salad with lardons and poached egg (normally a salad Lyonnaise) is one of my favorites and makes me happy. Also tried their cassoulet, which was stunning. I have had some poor to horrible cassoulets over the past few years and this put my faith back into cassoulets as amazing and really good comfort food.

November 2, 2020

Weeknote - 1 November 2020

There was a point this week that took me back to March or April and wearing masks to go out the front door and wondering would this last long enough that it felt normal. The old adage of a habit is made with 21 days of doing the same thing. It is far past those 21 days, but it not only seems like something we have been doing naturally forever but feels like walking out the front door without a mask it like walking out without your keys. I stepped out of the car and had my mask on and realized it was normal and natural, so much I didn’t think about it. It seems really odd and not so smart to see people without them.

I’ve given my hosting company notification that I don’t want to be moved to their new place as GoDaddy shuts down my hosting company I’ve been with for 7 to 10 years. The options they offer is a giant step backwards, so moving on. I have found a good replacement that is relatively similar, and a bit better. The next 3 to 5 weeks things will be moving here. I have part of the 10 apps and services I run partly mapped out, but have been waiting to sort out the destination to understand the scope of the move and if all the languages used will work. Mail may be my biggest pain, but that may be one of the last things to move.

The past few work cycles have me worn, but getting insanely high kudos from vendors about finally cracking some tough patterns that have been pain points for many others. That combined with election related matters I’m a bit drained and been really cranky. I did vote in early voting, which was relatively quick and easy, after seeing wait times over 45 minutes (at times it was 90 to 120) earlier in the week.

Read

I’m reading an early copy of a friends book that is really good and pretty much nails one of the small pieces that create massive positive differences, but are rarely noticed nor focussed on. Many organizations focus on innovation, and while some do it incredibly well most are a farce and are just copying practices from other companies with different problems and not understand the problems and starting from there (hence, the innovation doesn’t really have much positive value). I am looking forward to getting through the rest of the book, but also seeing it out and available for everybody.

Watched

Like that, I pretty much gave up on Deadwind after the first episode, as the second I didn’t make it through. The story is interesting, but also close to a few other things I’ve watched recently. But, I also I tend to watch things while wrapping other things up and not having enough of a foothold on Finnish I was having to pause, back up 30 seconds to a few minutes to understand what I missed which had me realizing I didn’t miss much or I didn’t care about what I missed. That was it and moved on.

I’ve been hoping to finish season 3 of The Crown, which I find to be some of the best writing and film craft around. By writing some is the words, but much of it is the setup and drawing and building of an arc and story line.

Also catching up on Somebody Feed Phil, which I really like but usually watch with my son, but we got distracted and missed a couple.

I’m holding off on Mandalorian for a couple weeks. But, it looks really good and looking forward to it.

Listened

Incomparables on Ted Lasso was really good and was a great reminder of just how good Ted Lasso was. I nearly started back watching it again from the beginning.

Productivity

Obsidian has released and then updated block referencing functionality. I haven’t had time to focus on it nor sort through a couple use cases I really things this may help with. One is keeping book notes tied with the book, but using block referencing to place subject / domain related ideas in their subject page and similarly with subject related quote files.

October 25, 2020

Weeknote - 25 October 2020

I’m returning back to something I read a bit ago from Matt Webb about getting back into a habit for blogging again. Matt’s posting about 15 rules for blogging, and my current streak is one that really struck home as I’m trying to get back to a regular writing habit, here and elsewhere. Matt’s idea for one idea per post is the old school way of knocking out quick short notes on one topic for reference for one’s self, but also sharing out for others by default. The weeknote model runs a bit counter to this, but trying to get back to a habit of capturing things and trying to get to a schedule helps get things moving again. Matt’s post is more than worth your time.

The week was heavily focussed on the work front as trying doing work that could really benefit from a good innovation space with large whiteboard and to include teammates to think and work through the flows and integrated systems. I’ve been working through a solutions to a gap that makes some easy solutions not viable due to compliance and needing to craft for a large enterprise and the constraints and diversity of needs. The start to the solution came about about 3 weeks ago and trying to work through a solution for one piece of it that would remove a lot of manual work that has a lot of opportunity for error as it scales and scope increases. Getting he foundations right is key, but I think we will have a good solution. Working through permeations of scenarios and modifications coming from vendors was a good chunk of working with large logic puzzles, but the foundation should be good. Now to work on workflows and interactions for it, or at least the first step and a solid system of record for these. I love this type of work, but it is much more sane with a good sized room, large whiteboard and stickynotes, and a few others to work through permeations and potential missing manhole covers that are created when the goal is seeing them and resolving them.

Early voting starts this week and trying to sort out when I can fit that in. While today (Sunday) was eerily quiet, which could be the cold snap or Covid cases spiking at its worst everywhere around the U.S. and people playing safe, I don’t expect that quiet to last for the week.

Read

A really quiet week on the reading front. I have some things to read this next week for a quick review that I am really looking forward to.

Watched

I sort of stumbled onto starting the Finnish crime drama, Deadwind that is on Netflix. I have only watched one episode, but I think I will stick with it. I thought it was a different series, but it has me interested.

One of the things that had me intrigued is not so much the show, but it is in Finnish. I haven’t listened to a lot of Finnish as an adult and its spoken and linguistic patterns are well outside of any language I have a passing understanding of. I was reading the closed captions and trying to pull out some words that could work as way in, but that was tough. I also realized I really liked the cinematography and focussing on closed captions and thinking about language structure was a bit in the way of what had drawn me in.

Listened

Over the past year I’ve become a fan of Rick Beato’s YouTube channel and I stumbled onto his break down of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes in the episode What Makes This Song Great? Ep.27 Peter Gabriel. There is so much more to this song and with Rick had taken another 30 minutes to dig into that.

Productivity

I’ve been using Obsidian more and a release that should hit those with early access and allowing block addressability really looks good. I’m finding with what Obsidian offers I’m able to really get a lot of crosswalks between ideas, sources, authors / creators, and structures that I just didn’t have access to before. Already it feels a bit like I have a James Burke long transfer system in the works that is part of the structure of his Connections series.

October 19, 2020

Weeknote - 18 October 2020

Okay, that week was the prior week’s weeknote. Now I’m trying to capture two weeks in one. The prior week was rather busy and the weekend full too.

The morning coffee walk, this week turned a bit wet and chilly. I may need to change from wearing shorts for my this trek to get me out my door and a bit of exercise to start the day. Seasons and other temporal changes of worldly transitions have really flown past this year with little acknowledgement. The trees are just starting to turn in their autumnal color pageant, but it seems like they were just bare and bright green sprouts coming out.

I got a note this week from my webhost, which had been bought quite a while ago by GoDaddy and they finally said they are transitioning and my host is going away. I know a lot of people who work at GoDaddy and the leadership and inhumane leadership problems are gone. But, they are planning on moving from a hosting plan and platform I love that fits what I want to keep going (this site) and some small experimental spaces playing with Python, NodeJS small services, and a little Ruby and moving to a service that really isn’t clear about what it does, nor what it offers, nor pricing, nor service, and it is only based in the UK. With Brexit it is deeply unclear what is going on in the UK with regulation and anything and that is one of the last places I would want to have anything hosted.

So, some of my time will be focussed in the next couple or few weeks transitioning elsewhere. I think I know where, which is a hosting platform from former founders and employees of my current host. They have similar offerings, but I’m needing to sort out what these changes will entail for some of the custom pieces I have and dealing with email.

I was in the midst of starting to plan an upgrade to the underlying code of the site to bring it to a modern version of PHP. This is on hold until I get the site moved.

Read

There wasn’t a lot of reading time this week. But, I sort of parked An Absolutely Remarkable Thing for now as the micro-fame discussions were something that was causing a lot of self reflection around similar. I picked up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and just a few pages in I’m happy with the swap as John Green’s writing voice is one I find comfort in.

I’m also reading / skimming back through some Richard Feynman as some friends have stumbled on to it and has lead to interesting discussions. I read Six Easy Pieces around 2003 or so after writing the draft of Model of Attraction and as I fleshed it out and it turned into Complexity / Social Lenses there is a strong underpinning in physics through Feynman’s introduction, followed by discussions with good depth in physics and quantum underpinnings.

Watched

The Pete Souza documentary, The Way I See It about his time as White House photographer for Reagan and Obama. It was completely wonderful and a solid reminder of what a great leader does through understanding things deeply and supporting all others through leading with empathy.

Listened

Tigran Hamasyan is a musician I stumbled upon through a “what is this” explainer on YouTube, which lead to a mini deep dive. The two videos that had been deeply intrigued and really enjoying his music are IMPOSSIBLE Time Signature or 4/4? Tigran Hamasyan Explained and The Rhythms of Tigran Hamasyan on David Bruce’s channel, which I have enjoyed and stumbled on before. The cross over and different mental model using math transformations and mapping patterns through size relevance patterns that are adaptive is really intriguing.

Food

I don’t understand why sole, particularly Dover or Petrale, is so hard to find on the East Coast. I swear they were pretty much a year round fish growing up on the West Coast. This week I stumbled on a decent sale on Dover Sole so made a quick fry in virgin olive oil and brown butter, with a dry coating of corn starch, rice crumbles, sea salt, and black pepper then finishing with lemon and quick fried capers and pickled capers. This was a good Sunday brunch to say the least.

Productivity

In this transition from light too mid-term notes in NValt to Obsidian for better organization and cross-linking and an app that actually works (NValt stopped working spectacularly). One of the things I was peeved about was the tagging I had done in NValt. But, Brett Terpstra knows tagging well and tucked the tags in the user interface of NValt into the tag field in Apple’s file metadata. The one that I’m really wanting to get organized is my blogfodder tag, which is really rough drafts of posts, or collections of notes no a subject.

October 11, 2020

Weeknote - 04 October 2020

I have so many partially completed weeknotes sitting for the last many weeks. Some are partial efforts to combine two, then three weeks or even more. The Black Lives Matter need for focus from utterly disgusting lack of people’s care for other humans diverts my focus.

But, I’ve also been needing to do a slight update to get this site running on a slightly newer version of PHP. Yet, in the next few months I needing to do a slow drip conversion to a quite modern PHP. To me it is utterly amazing that this site is still running on code I started writing in 2000 and fully started using in 2001 (I ran it is a temporary travel blogging fill-in when all too often hotels wouldn’t connect with FTP that I used to push Blogger pieces into place for new blog posts). I have made some minor changes to the underlying code three or four times, but this is going to be a large change. I will likely just do a straight conversion of the underpinnings, but following that may finish some better navigation and then a redesign.

Work has shifted from 4 days a week back to 5 days and that shift put a damper on a couple small personal side projects.

Another thing I’m working on is turning some of my core pieces of my talks and workshops into 1 to 5 minute video explainers. I regularly chat with grad students that run into my work around folksonomy, but also many of the social complexity models and lenses. Some of these have helpful animations I use as explainers and get really strong praise from professors when they run across them. This will likely lead to writing them up as well.

The other piece the last few weeks I’ve been focussing on is reworking my note taking and organization model. I will get into this in more detail below in the Productivity section.

Read

Reading took a bit of a back seat the past 6 weeks or so. I’be been reading two books in a slow meditative manner, due to the thinking and rethinking they are leading to. These two are The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr., which I’ve mention here before (I think, they may be in unfinished weeknotes I haven’t posted). My fun read, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, has turned into a slow meditative read, which is helping me realize why I stopped writing and sharing on the web as much, but also why I need to get back to it. The last of my concurrent reads is James Fallows and Deborah Fallows Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America fits one of my favorite genres of exploring America though stopping and asking questions, but also listening deeply across America.

The Map of Knowledge runs quite counter to the poor assumption that the intellectuals of antiquity we know shared their knowledge and we have much of it. Well, we have very little of it. Much of it lost to lack of continual upkeep and continual recopying of works that was / is needed. The book looks at the old great libraries and how they disappeared and what happened to their collections.

A few years ago doing expert witness analysis I was amazed that much of the domain of canonical works about the internet, particularly around the Web 2.0 era, were gone from the web, they are also missing from the Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. I have a decent chunk of them in my own collection as archived html and / or PDF tucked away and searchable in DevonThink. But, many of these are linked to from Wikipedia the sites that hosted them are gone to the digital winds. For a long time we thought of the Web as being the holding of all the thinking of mankind and having it all searchable and within easy reach (this also means the appalling thought of the fringes that get over amplified are there as well), yet this is far far from the case.

I have yet to discern if this loss of knowledge and really good thinking and understanding not being a new reality is comforting or not. A high school economics summer school class that introduced the “pure flow of information” leading to good decisions. Searching Google for “pure flow of information” my blog pops up a fair amount where I’m pointing to Nobel Prize for economists work around the internet and this, how to manage a vast flow of information, disillusionment with the lack of reality of the pure flow, and more. The thought I keep having, is along the lines of, “I thought we had so much more than we do”, then weighing true repositories like the Bodlian Library and the Library of Congress and their seemingly vast collections. The vacillating perspective of “we have only a tiny slice of what we have known” and “we have far more than any one person or collection of people can know” are a tension I’m very slowly learning to live with as a viable tension while still believing in the pure flow.

Watched

Mostly I’ve been rewatching movies and shows. But, the newest season of Endeavour, The Young Wallander, Van Der Valk have scratched an itch that I can always use more of.

Like many, I’ve stumbled into and really been enjoying Ted Lasso which has been a really good cultural palate cleanser to the mess going on in the world who want to lead by hate and lies.

Listened

Through a Tidal recommendation I found Brian Bromberg’s album Bromberg Plays Hendrix, which is decently good, but Hey Joe really stuck out and I’m really enjoying it (particularly on Tidal and really wishing they had a Master (MQA) version of it).

My podcast listening slowed as I shifted my morning breakfast routine from a 15 minute making a black bean bowl (black beans, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, fresh turmeric, Canadian bacon, sometimes grape tomatoes (cooked so they are jammy), and with a farm fresh egg on top). The current is thick yoghurt and fresh fruit, sometimes with muesli on top and a perfect bar. I’ve also gone back to doing a coffee walk in the morning to fetch coffee (this ensures I get out for a decent walk at least once a day) rather than preferably making coffee at home. This shift from 15 minutes to under 5 minutes knocked out my usual podcast listening time.

Food

I finally tried some gluten free baking. A peach and blueberry clafoutis was a good pleasure, but the gluten free Dutch baby went all sorts of wrong.

Play

I’m about a third of the way through Ghosts of Tsushima and a bit stalled. This game is a really gem. It is utterly beautiful (yet insanely bloody, which is something I often steer clear of) with an open map, good game play, and a tiny bit educational and has lead to reading understanding feudal Japan and samurai culture. I am a big fan of Sucker Punch’s prior series, Infamous, and Ghosts expands on what I really like about their games.

Productivity

The past few weeks I’ve been needing to find a different and improved method for my note taking method and workflow. I have long used NValt and it stopped working, but since it is just a front end for many (1,200+) markdown text files, I can use any markdown editor or text editor. But, what is missing is a loose wrapper around these short snippets of somethingness, collections of quotes, lists of interesting words with definitions, drafts for blog posts, other stubs of ideas (fiction and non-fiction), and also finished items I’ve started in NValt and then using small apps loosely joined method of doing things I use focussed writing tools for longer pieces that work with markdown files natively and can output to many other formats.

This exploration I pulled from here and posted it as its own piece (in very rough form) as Rebuilding My Note Taking and Management System and Model on Saturday.

October 3, 2020

Rebuilding My Note Taking and Management System and Model

The past many weeks I have been digging into a better note taking and management method, while also embracing what I have and my core underlying principles. A continual genre in YouTube I watch is around productivity, particularly around personal knowledge management methods and tools. A couple years back I ran into Zettelkasten Method, that comes from Niklas Luhmann, which focuses on his prolific reading and his card catalogue and related note taking system. Then a few months back I heard Jorge Arango’s interview with Beck Tench it drew Zettelkasten back into focus. The interview with Beck focussed on Tinderbox, which I love, but I also want mobile access to my notes from phone and tablet.

Early Exploration

I have been using Notion a little bit, but my only use the last few months is as an interstitial capture for YouTube and some other rich media. [I like Notion and it seems like a modern take on Podio and has a similar downfall of not sorting out an adaptive data structure for interoperability and consistency.] But, the communities that are interested in Notion became obsessed with Roam Research, so I looked at Roam. Roam and Notion are two vastly different approaches, which can complement each other but in to way replace each other. But, each has a similar faults, no API, no standard export for structured information, and fully cloud based. That is too many common failure points wrapped into one product (Notion is working on and API, which is really good). Roam bugged me most because it relies on an outline format but has no clue about OPML exporting, but worse has no good export model. The cloud based, which requires being connected and online is a model I really don’t like as, particularly if their isn’t a local sync nor standard data format model. What I really like about Roam is its block focussed format, that is akin to purple numbers model of small chunks that are addressable and reusable.

In this time of looking what a next generation of quick note taking would look like, but long used tool, NValt failed spectacularly, in that it would not find my directory where my 1,200+ notes were stored, nor could I add new notes. Fortunately all of my notes are in plain markdown text files, so all I was missing was my tagging of the files in NValt (Brett Terpstra who created NValt has been working on a new tool that can replace NValt but has been taking forever to show up and my need became immediate). This is one of the common reasons for owning my own notes and having them locally and not using somebody else’s model and framework. But, also using the [small apps loosely joined] model where many tools pointing at well formatted / structured data / information can function to their best ability and can use their strengths without breaking anything with the information / data.

Seriously Looking at Note Taking and Management Tools

I started looking at about five or six different note taking tools. I was building out a rough attribute model of tools to help see what each offered or didn’t. I am needing to write this up, but it started with watching Mike and Matty’s, Notion vs Roam vs Obsidian vs Remnote - How to best fit note taking app for you and using their criteria as a base, then building on it. Obsidian and Remnote were already on my list, but also included Zettelnote, Zettlr, and a couple that extended Tidlywiki for a Zettelkasten type model. I also included OmniOutliner as that has been (and will be) my core outlining tool that interplays well with OPML and I can back and forth with good mind mapping tools that also output and import OPML data standard. I also included DevonThink Pro as it is my long used (since 2005) note and information storage and smart search tool (it already was indexing my notes directories) that there is no chance I’m going to give up, but also knew it didn’t have the core functionality I was seeking, wiki-style back linking.

I did a quick test or Roam and ruled it out as it broke rules I try not to break, and it broke many of them (biggest one is know now you are going to exit before you enter anything and a lack of any structure nor API made it a giant risk I’ve been burned by too many times, but the developers have a lot of arrogance about their approach that far too often leads to disasters - sometimes the kindest, smartest, and solid planning people end up with disasters that I feel very badly about but arrogance and ignorant I don’t).

Zettlr and Remnote were next. But the setup took a bit more of me managing and building things and I know when I lose focus those may not be best choices for myself (my past self 15 years ago or more would have loved it and done well with it, but those days are not now).

Obsidian Ticks the Right Boxes and Adapts to My Existing Model

Obsidian is where I put some time. I pointed its “Vault” to my notes directory (and sub-directory) where I had my 1,200 markdown notes already (some of them were .txt extensions, which I did bulk extension swap on) and it could read everything perfectly. One of my first tests was adding backlinks to some of my social lenses and social scaling notes, which worked really well by making related elements connected. I started capturing my notes about what I was doing in Obsidian and the ease of not only connecting things with backlinks, but having the ability to set empty node wiki links (many notes with the same link to a note / page that doesn’t exist yet, but have the same link to it) and then being able to use backlink following from that non-existent notes link list of things pointing to it was insanely valuable.

I have quite a few book list and book note pages already and I started linking them and linking authors and making author pages. I also found I was wanting note page templates for simple book pages in a Zettelkasten model, a book notes template, author / creator template, and a few others. I created these from existing structured notes I’ve used for years and put the outlines in TextExpander using a simple input line or two to label all of the headers with author name or other name.

I started typing out my notes and highlights from books I’ve read and annotated over the years and after the first three or so books I was deeply hooked.

The Use Where Obsidian Showed I was Hooked

Where I knew I was sold was this last weekend I went back to one of Matt Webb’s blog posts on Small Groups that is dense and has links out to great resources. I captured my initial notes on Matt’s post, and annotated relating to his sections. But, I also quickly dug through the linked materials and created and filled out structured note pages for those as well. The James Mullholland post on Small Groups was fantastic and it spidered out to more related resources, so I followed those and took notes. All of this was cross-linked and back-linked and fleshed out small group notes that I have been building as part of social scaling I’ve been writing on and presenting (talks and workshops) for years. The small group size they focus on is roughly team size, but not a team. Both of these are cooperative social models, which scale from teams, groups (small to large groups with similar social interaction models, but the dynamics shift quite a bit around 75 people and break fully about 300 to 500 people), community (everybody inside a firewall or inside an walled off construct), and network (inside and outside a firewall - so for business it is customers, contractors, consultants, vendors, etc. where there needs to be a safe model for sharing information with shared goals as different roles with their purpose come together for back and forth exchange) - more can be found in my related write-up 5 Core Insights for Community Platforms Today.

This note taking and contextualizing and cross linking to rip through and gut a series of related and interrelated pieces has been something I’ve long looked for and wanted. Many dog years ago in college I took reading notes on note cards with citations and context. When writing a paper / essay I would assemble the note cards in an order that could tell a story. Then I would build an outline in WordStar and type in the quotes. Then I would write the narrative and wrapper. Obsidian is starting to get at that, but ripping through a resource to pull out highlights, quotes, annotations, and notes is utterly fantastic. It gives me a solid resource to easily pull together ideas and supporting information.

Other Obsidian Capabilities

Obsidian can show two note pages at once so to easily copy book citation information from the structured book note file into the book note page. The multiple notes in panels also works well for copying quotes to quote pages and cross linking.

Using Obsidian and Still Working from Mobile and Tablet

The mobile use essential had been broken for a bit after Dropbox stopped supporting softlinks in Mac and requiring that to be native in Dropbox and doing the softlink from the Mac to Dropbox. I moved the directory to Dropbox, which leaves a copy locally usable should something happen to Dropbox and added a softlink for local backups. I pointed DevonThink to this directory to index and I was back running. Now I can use Drafts to take a quick note from my iOS devices and push it to the notes directory (later go back and fix the file name) and I have good inbound notes and can use backlinks (which I test later). This method also works for share sheet to Drafts from Overcast or YouTube and having the link to the media and the notes all pulled in.

Happiness with notes has been missing for a while, perhaps happiness has returned.

Resources

August 11, 2020

Week Note 6 - 9 August 2020

The weeknotes have been, well, weekly since George Floyd was murdered. As that sunk in it took a lot of focus away from this restarting writing and sharing and put it to reading, supporting, and talking to others. I was utterly gutted, mostly because I felt like I looked away and had been feeling things had improved over the decades. But, I was somewhat blind to much of the issues I grew up in a Sesame Street world where everybody gets along and learns about each other, their background, and the wonders they bring to this world.

Much of this disappeared for me after high school as I ran an errand with a friend who I had just met in one of my courses. We went to get a couple tires from his car and went into a tire store in Stockton, California. There were people in there working and my friend and I were the only two customers in the store, but nobody was stopping to help. I finally said across the counter, “excuse me…” and it was like throwing a match on gasoline as the n-word started flying and one of the guys grabbed a tire iron and slammed it against the side of one of the large metal shelves and walked off. I just wanted to leave as it seemed like it was going to be more than nasty words thrown around. My friend said, “No, it is fine”. I really had trouble comprehending that. A couple minutes later a big sheepish guy walked up to the other side of the counter and apologized quietly and asked my friend what he needed. Tire sizes were shared and a couple minutes of walking away from counter and away from where the commotion had come from. When he returned he said they didn’t have that size, but they would have it in stock in a week. We left checking all around us in the mid-afternoon light.

This was the mid 1980s and the anti-apartheid movement and awareness was in full swing. Joining causes, writing letters, and going to concerts with an awareness focus was common. Our church was housing the Anglican Bishop of Namibia and some of his Deacons around this time. I enjoyed talking with two of the Deacons that were staying with my parents and I. They talked about the South African soldiers beating parishioners and the priests to drag them out of their church. They had dents on their upper arms where bones had been broken and one of them a good dent in his head from the butt of a gun. I said I would really like to come and help, but I felt my skin was the wrong color to do any good. They stopped and grew more calm and looked at me in the eyes. One gently took my wrist and turned it over and pointed to the veins and said, “You know the blood in your veins is the same color as the blood in our veins. We are all the same color on the inside. What really matters is what is in your heart.” That really stuck with me, as did their stories. I didn’t go to Namibia, but I did read everything I could about Africa after that.

In the late 80s I took my last semester of undergrad in Oxford and spent time in Lyon, France, and traveling a little. I read a lot of the broadsheet papers and Namibia was in the news in English papers as well as other African countries. But, one of the things that stood out was how people of color were treated around Oxford and France. It was quite different from than in the US. That difference stood out. Talking with other Americans of color whom I knew or got into conversations with on coaches or trains, I brought up the question of what they found. The difference in their perception was things were much more open and equal (this is far from everywhere in Europe), but the differences then was a sense of freedom to be who they were, more so than they felt in the United States.

When I finally got back to the US so I could go through graduation (I could have stayed and rowed in Oxford and travelled with the college boat I had an offer to stay for Trinity term and row with and I could have stayed and travelled with my friend in Lyon). When I left the US in the prior December to head to Europe I was expecting to have culture shock in Europe, but I didn’t experience much and I deeply enjoyed it. It was an amazing experience. Returning to the US I had massive culture shock, which I wasn’t expecting and it shook me. My perception of life and lives of others, the news, the size of cars (as well as needing a car to get around), and the lack of fresh produce and fresh bread within an easy walk. But, watching news on tv the racial tone of the news was something I had completely not seen before I left. It was really clear watching news of a conflict in Virginia Beach between young (mostly black) beach goers and police and CNN (in 1988) was framing those of color as the problem. It was something I hadn’t seen or noticed until being away and returning.

Somewhere over that summer I stumbled onto an interview and focus on James Baldwin and he was echoing a lot of what I was seeing and feeling as a difference between Europe and the US. On a trip to Berkeley I went to one of my favorite bookstores and picked up a couple paperbacks of Baldwin’s works and started reading. Having somebody else writing about things I was seeing and feeling, which I didn’t think I knew others around me I could talk about was comforting. Baldwin also wrote about other issues I didn’t have experience with, but it opened my eyes to things others dealt with. What I got with Baldwin was an understanding of America, Europe, personal freedom, equality, and living in one’s own skin. I no longer remember the essays nor which books (I still have them, but I picked up one or two more that I didn’t put time into and memories of them ran together).

As Black Live Matter marches and protests were fully under way I found I was thinking of Baldwin a lot. I picked up Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and its urgent lessons for our own and have been reading it slowly. Reading bits and letting it sink in. It has been good.

The Year of Covid–19 it has been difficult to keep up with friends around my son’s basketball, which feel a lot like a home and family. My son is missing his team and coaches and the common goal of the team.

The next weeknotes I will fill in some of the past few weeks of other things I’ve been reading, watching, listing to, and more. There have been some good sparks that have me excited, entertained, and exploring again.

May 31, 2020

Week Note 5 - 24 May & 31 May 2020

This started (and was on time for) the week before Memorial Day for release that weekend, but it didn’t ship. The life diversion beasts seam to have come in the way.

This was the first week that furlough Friday came into effect, so have essentially an “4 day week of 8 hour days”, as if workdays are that short. So I’ve gone from a week of: Monday followed by three Tuesdays and then a Friday; to Monday followed by two Tuesdays and a Friday (on a calendar stated Thursday), which this being now a 4 day weekend a 3 Saturday and one Sunday (on a calendar stated Monday) weekend. The shortened week turned into a week with some of the longest days I’ve had for a while with a 14 hour day Monday, a 12 of Tuesday (the real Tuesday, or the first of them if thinking in Covid week time) that I initially thought was 9 hours, 10 hour Wednesday (second Tuesday, for those playing in Covid time at home), and 9 hour Thursday (well Friday in Covid adjusted time, or as others call them all, “Blursday”).

I’ve been trying to sort out if I was going to work a bit on the long weekend, start digging back on reading, tackle some of my long put off personal tech such as converting this website back to https or some other digging into updating some of my productivity practices.


Since this a double week edition (edition? Heh, well I just hit the “post” button (or whatever I’ve clicked since 2001 when I rebuilt this)).

This second week had me baffled with what day it was and the hyper rhythm of the week prior was mired in a sludge of timing being off. But, on the work front a lot of positive movement happened, which was really good. We are about a third of the way through what I’m working on and the next chunk over the next few months will be one of the more challenging from the perspective of pulling it all together. Getting the next piece right and worked through the foundations properly will set up whether it has long term success.

A lot of the work is talking the complicated and complex and making it more simple to understand and using that as a foundation to bring more people along, but also get the tough decisions understood and in front of the right people with their understanding to bring their expertise and needed framing from their domain. The downside (always) of making things more simple is having people believe it is that simple, but not grasping the complications and complexity under that need attending to properly.

On the personal side this week had me utterly stumped and hurt with injustice of George Floyd’s death. These hurt. They hurt deep down to the fabric of the core that stems for basic humanity. During the week I pushed it aside, but this weekend as work wound down on Friday it really sunk in.

Read

Students are failing AP tests because the College Board cant handle iPhone photos is an example of an organization failing to do the basic tests and fixing problems, but then failing more with their response.

Microsofts New Fluid Office Document Is Google Docs on Steroids is something I’m keeping an eye on.

A New York Times piece about what is on bookshelves behind people as they are interviewed on tv. It is about one book, “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” by Robert Caro. The piece is really good and dives into why it is behind so many people and the meta value of it in view.

Another piece in the New York Times pulled me in, Brooklyn, Before It Was a Global Brand: Walk Its History. It is a wonderful pieces (on the long side for some) that gives the history and and background of common areas. The last year or so I’ve been going up to Brooklyn to work and been really fascinated by it and this fills in some of the background I’ve been hoping to track down one day. One of my friends has done that for me, when I’ve caught up with him in Brooklyn across the years.

A few weeks ago I was in a discussion with folks in one of the back channels about the economics of the new food delivery services. I repeatedly hear from shop owners and restauranteurs that they often are losing money on each delivery. I brought this up, partly because I hadn’t had / found the time to dig into what this means. But one of the folks in the group shared this gem by Rajan Roy in Margins, Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage. This hit on target on so many different levels and now I’m wanting to dig even deeper.

Along the lines of the above, the Washington Post picked up on this in their piece Restaurants are barely surviving. Delivery apps will kill them..

I my “to read” stack got another addition with [Stephen P. Anderson and Karl Fast’s book Figure It Out: Getting from Information to Understanding)[https://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/figure-it-out/] ariving. Two favorite people and minds I miss and haven’t run across in person for far too long. This is a book I’ve been waiting on for quite sometime. From my perspective this may be the conversations I’ve been missing with them.

About a decade or more ago I was talking with a friend about a book of his that was coming out that had a quote / quip or two of mine in it and saying I was really looking forward to his book. His comment to me about his book was, “This book isn’t for you, as you know everything in it already. But, I would hope it is worthy of you blessing and sharing with others.” This brought clarity to many books I have, as they are about the conversations and deep dives with many of the authors over the years. But, a good chunk of the books I pick-up are to dig deeper and push at the edges of the domains I read in and work to understand so to find unknown areas to dig.

Listened

I stumbled into a custom Tidal playlist that was triggered by Danny Wilson’s “Mary’s Prayer” and includes Prefab Sprout, The Style Council, Propaganda, Haircut 100, Wang Chung, Blue Nile and so much more. The night I listened to this was a quite rainy evening and I had the balcony doors open and could hear the occasional car sloshing by and it took me right back to the mid to late 80s in England and France listening to this music on walkman or radio over sloshing car noises. So many memories tied up into all of this, it was wonderful.

The Verge podcast seems to be running interview podcasts along with their weekly Vergecast. This week was Nilay Patel’s interview / chat with Stewart Butterfield on The Vergecast. Stewart is one of those people I miss talking with and interacting with. Stewart doesn’t approach things like most others, but there are similarities with a handful of others I also miss that we all regularly interacted, but we each went our own directions and got absorbed there.

Play

Leading up to the long weekend there really wasn’t much play as the work front had sets of issues that needed sorting and digging. The long weekend didn’t provide as much play as I thought it may (nor as much reading) but a bit of MLB the Show and Death Stranding was played on Monday.

I’m deeply realizing I need to get outside more for walks, hikes, and perhaps finally get my bike out of storage.

Productivity

The past month or two I’ve been trying to sort out the value of Roam, which many productivity types around YouTube and blogs have been discussing and raving about, but it negatively hits some of my must have for note taking and organization. Roam is outline focussed, but can go long, but to keep track of nested hierarchy it has grey dashed lines to show / hint at the nested layers, but I find it quite distracting. My favorite outlining tool is OmniGroup’s OmniGraffle which handles this far more elegantly and keeps the focus. The other is its export offering which lacks OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language). Yep, an outlining tool that doesn’t use OPML as an import nor export offering is utterly bizarre. There are many insanely good reasons to use OPML for outlines and a means to transfer or integrate with workflows, but the top one for me is keeping the nested hierarchies. Roam currently is an island that doesn’t interconnect well with other productivity services and doesn’t work well in outline centric or tangential workflows. Roam’s biggest advantage is the internal linking

I have somewhat similar feeling for similar reasons for Notion, which I use a little bit, but keep from working in it heavily due to import, exports, and integrations.

Previous Month

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