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Neural Archivey

A personal archive of how I satiate my curiosity.

Idle Hands

Work has been unfortunately uninspired for a time and has recently become a bit slow. I do not do well under these conditions but have sought out a fair bit to keep my mind occupied.

Learning Something New

I have a habit of starting a lot of new things at once which is not ideal. I experimented a little while ago with learning some motion graphics fundamentals and am starting an open online course to learn a little UX design. It’s not the class I wanted, but I missed the start date on the perfect course, so this lighter course is maybe a good place to start before the interest passes.

Work gives me access to these online courses through our Adobe Creative Cloud account. The UX class will be my third course. I completed the first, but not the second – fingers crossed time is on my side.

#trypod

I am not new to podcasts and have listened to roughly the same few for the last year. I have some which I love, Revisionist History for one, that don’t seem to be producing any new episodes. They just sit in my podcast queue – sad and silent. Recently Bonni Stachowiak of Teaching in Higher Ed put out a list of podcasters within her professional community worth checking out. I’ve listened to a couple, but I get a little overloaded with too much political chat. This episode was a favorite among the new channels I’ve checked out recently.

 

 

The day before I heard the episode I learned I would be developing a data analytics course for a new program on campus, so I enjoyed this episode as a foundation. A development always runs better if I have some theoretical foundation or vision for where a course fits into the greater society. Faculty focus a lot on nuts and bolts-type training pieces at the onset, generally. I need more of a purpose than those lines of conversation offer. I have a few others I will continue to listen too. Despite the constant space warnings, my phone is throwing up quite regularly these days.

Get Organized

First, I started using Zotero and reduced my browser’s bookmarks to a more manageable size. Mostly. Right now my Zotero account is a bunch of folders, but I’m hoping it will evolve. I’ve also ventured into Diigo, but I can’t get the free version to function the way I’d find ideal. Without a paid account, I am not able to annotate PDFs. This sucks. I understand it probably has value, but I’m not sure if it has value to me yet. Time will tell. I also need to find a functional purpose for all of this saving. Why do I need to save this article or that infographic? That I still need to identify.

My most recent, as in this very evening, epiphany is to set up some block times in a Google calendar. Right now I have little work coming in for me, so it’s easy to spend time here or there focusing on professional development and networking. I know it will not stay this way. The nature of my job is unbearably busy to underwhelmingly engaged and back again. The page will turn. I think block time may help me maintain some sanity and consistency day to day. As work picks up, I don’t want to forget about the pieces which add meaning to my role at the university and amplify what I have to provide to the conversation.

get there

Looking Forward

“Going hermit” is difficult to crawl away from, because it’s comfortable even as you recognize the ways in which it slowly destroys your sense of self. I am currently making my way through the crawlspace formed by recent disappointments, and I do believe there is light on the other side. I just can’t quite see it yet.

Read

The beauty of solitude is it provides tons of time for reading. I often start several books at a time and finish very few. I have read I should allow myself to walk away from a book if it isn’t holding my interest, but I don’t think it’s always about interest. Sometimes I just can’t hear what you have to say. Not at the moment. Not right now. These I finished recently.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

I listened to the audiobook while I was working on a particularly mundane project at work. It provided a lot of insight into how I want to approach the recent changes in my mother’s life. I lost my father several years ago and the guilt I have for that time is excruciating even now. I wish I would have had this book then. I recommend to anyone with aging parents.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

For someone who appreciates short stories – they fit well with how I read – I don’t pick up very many collections. I had some favorites in here, but some just didn’t resonate with me. “Nothing O’Clock” tugged at my love for Doctor Who and “An Invocation of Incuriosity” was very intriguing.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

I love the Bloggess and the life she shares.

Listening

My podcast cue is growing, and I’m running out of space. I probably need to narrow it down to what I find value in, but I’m not ready. I am also continuing to follow Madea Vox out of Malmö. Their recent talk on teaching through the novel has left me desperately wanting to infuse some literature as “case study” into some business and accounting courses in development.

 

 

Hustling

The real consumer of my time and energy these days and why it’s difficult to see the light.

Strange Days

Nobody likes to lose. When you get behind someone, when you put effort into an idea or a project, the outcome matters. In these first nineteen days of November I’ve experienced overload.

An overload of experience

Much of October was devoted to preparing a conference presentation for a local ed-tech conference. It was my first. Thankfully, I developed the presentation in collaboration with the rest of my (actual) team at work. We made something fairly impressive. My initial vision for the presentation was fueled by my desire to develop some clever little animations.

So I had to learn something new as well. It was my first run with Adobe Animate and I didn’t have the time to do the full animation without the support of PowToon. Work life is intense these days, so this side project was a welcome escape, but a significant amount of work.

An overload of inspiration

In addition to presenting at the conference, I attended some decent sessions which pushed the fundamentals of how things are done, why they’re done that way, and how they should be done – given what we know. I haven’t had enough time to think lately and I needed a little redirection. I also saw some teaching in action which was fairly inspirational. I love finding new idols.

Now following Derek Bruff on Twitter

I’ve also just returned from a large conference focused on digital learning, which was so amazing, I haven’t fully digested what exactly I will take away from the experience. One thing I have on my mind for the immediate future is that yes, I will go my own way. The person nipping at my hand will have to try and keep up.

moon

An overload of emotion

These past two weeks have hit me hard. I’m on information overload. It was several days before I could turn on network television, listen to the radio, or catch up on my favorite podcasts. I entered radio silence. Only recently have I started to catch a bit here and there. I’ve filled the vacuum with season after season of Frasier on Netflix. I’m not even sure I like the show, but it asks very little of me.

Eye Spy

I never turn down a glance into an open window. It’s really not quite voyeurism, but I really want to see how you live. I spent this past summer researching interviews, presentations, and keynotes in preparation for my Fall seminar class. All of this time has amounted to very little. I still find myself at a loss most of the time. What I did discover was Hans Rosling. He is the perfect combination of humor and information, with a charming accent.


Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

Hans has given a number of TedTalks and his “How Not To Be Ignorant About the World” talk in 2014 was the nail in my Hans Rosling coffin. I subscribed to the Gapminder newsletter and started following Hans on Twitter.

A couple of weeks ago, while we were completely chilled out in our hotel in Austin, this tweet came my way:

Look at bathrooms at all incomes in the World in Gapminder´s new DOLLAR STREET: Photos from homes at all incomes.

This was the textual equivalent of heroin for me. I want to see inside everyone’s home. If you put a “For Sale” sign in your front yard – I’m checking out your house tour on Realtor.com. Naturally, I spent the better part of the next hour cruising through photos from homes in Sweden, France, South America, Mexico, and the U.S. The site is searchable by region and income, satisfying many of the angles of my curiosity. I even tried to share my enthusiasm, but it fell flat. Not everyone shares this interest?

DOLLAR STREET on gapminder.org

What I love most about this opportunity is seeing the reality of others lives. I grew up in a borderline Hoarders episode in the middle of suburban America. As I’ve gotten older I’ve often been thrown into the company of Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones is the generic name of all of the women I’ve encountered who measure their success in life by the “catalog-esque” photos of their home. This triangle of disparity and bravado leaves me at a loss. I don’t really know what “normal” looks like. I grew up in a very abnormal home and I need my home to be normal. I feel awkward enough in life, any other layers of oddness are just not needed.

desktops-aa82b737-0699-43da-8551-7160b9df9685

Simple things make me feel less alien. Mrs. Jones would have a hand-hammered brass toilet tissue holder which picks up the brass flecks in her custom tile work. I do not; they do not. We’re normal.

I can become a little obsessed.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon the Internet of People and Things Research Center at Malmö University. It happened as I was trying to recall that next idea: Internet of People, Internet of Things, and (what). I couldn’t come up with it. I had heard those phrases and they had really very little to do with me. I didn’t connect with them in any way, but while working on an Information Management course it came up and now I needed to fill in the blank.

Malmö’s IOTAP research center houses their computer science and interaction design programs. Which seems fairly straightforward, but they drew me in with a lecture.


Threats and Betrayal on the Internet—Andreas Jacobsson

I connected initially with the idea of risk analysis being disconnected from the research and development process. I’m a big proponent of proactive planning. I get that it slows things down. I have no interest in spending my days putting out fires and solving problems which could be easily avoided with a deeper look at the system.

Then, the podcast, Medea Vox. This is where they have held me in their grasp. It’s posted to SoundCloud. There are multiple episodes. I have listened to many twice.

Medea Vox – Feeling at Home with the Internet of Things

I could try to break down why this place has captivated me. I find myself trying to connect some series of future dots which would make my travelling and working there make sense. It’s not all that unusual for me to get caught up in an interest, but this may be the first time that curiosity centered around a specific place.

“Down the rabbit hole!” by Nullfy from nullfy.com! is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A Little Happier

A few wonderful things happen for me when I travel. One, I get a break in routine. Routine is a wonderful thing which makes it possible for me to even attempt meeting my own expectations. There are times, however, when I find myself drowning in routine. Even shampooing my hair feels like a great burden in the sea of daily routine, performed one after another in a seemingly endless loop. Second, I get a change in scenery. Change one thing. The type of tree, the style of the street signs, any one thing makes the world pop for me.

These days travel also means one-on-one time with the people I love.

October 2016 – Austin, TX

Monday Intent

The first day of the week is always fairly significant for me. Unlike the drone of “Ugh, Mondays,”its a new opportunity to get it right. To have it all come together. To realize whatever ideal life I have on mind.

It is now the day I get my weekly activity summary as well. I am a personal data tracker. I track nutrition, running times, cycling segment times, walking pace, daily steps, water consumption. Periodically, I hit a rebellious phase when I turn my back on all of it and check out. Occasionally, I check out under the weight of other responsibilities. I am in the midst of those things – all of those things. My activity goal has been sliced in half and still goes unmet most days of the week.

This matters to me. I am happier, more creative, a better person in balance. I’ve been working too much.

first-monday

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