A week in review, 2020-W07

Wrote

None>

Read

  1. Eric Berger, Starliner faced “catastrophic” failure before software bug found, Ars Technica (2020-02-06).
  2. Jeff Hecht, The future of electronic health records, Nature (2019-09-25).
  3. Sharon Begley, Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant tested in Boston hospital, STAT (2016-05-31).
  4. Skeuomorphism is dead, long live skeuomorphism, Interaction Design Foundation (2017-08-29).
  5. Louis Sahagun, Wilderness designations proposed for 30,200 acres in the western San Gabriel Mountains, The Los Angeles Times (2020-02-10).

Listened

  1. vol.260 2019/20赛季欧洲足球冬窗转会盘点, 日谈公园 (2020-02-09).

Watched

Surprising images from inside North Korea, BBC (2020-01-29).

Photo

zucchini pancakes

Upcoming


There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

A week in review, 2020-W02

Wrote

None

Read

  1. Ken White, David Foster Wallace Was No Coward, The Atlantic (2020-01-07).
  2. Mark Manson, 10 Important Lessons We Learned from the 2010s, markmanson.net (2019-12-29). The television age trained us to be docile and receptive. “Show me the shiny funny things, oh, glorious fun box.” But the internet requires us to be active participants in our own consumption. Taking responsibility for that consumption—and managing ourselves when we over-indulge on that consumption—is a difficult and never-ending task.
  3. Alice Boyes, 5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success, Harvard Business Review (2018-11-13). (notes)
  4. Arthur Waldron, So Long, Lu Xun, Commentary Magazine (2007-08-28).
  5. Paul French, Top 10 books about Old Shanghai, The Guardian (2018-09-26).

Listened

  1. Boeing vs Airbus - Cleared for Takeoff, Business Wars (2020-01-08).
  2. Are U.S.-China Relations In a Downward Spiral?, China in the World (2020-01-07).
  3. #25 How to publish a book in China, Middle Earth (2020-01-07).

Watched

Amélie (2001)

Photo

Art

Upcoming


There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

A week in review, 2020-W01

Wrote

None

Read

  1. Burkhard Bilger, The Nun and the Cheese Underground, The New Yorker (2002-08-19).
  2. John Fecile, How Chicago Bars Got So Many Old Style Signs, WBEZ (2019-12-28).
  3. Rob Walker, The 15 Crazy Objects That Defined an Even Crazier 2019, Marker (2019-12-20).
  4. Ted Drozdowski, ’97 Flashback: How Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind Survived Stormy Studio Sessions, Gibson Lifestyle (2008-01-02).
  5. Michael Cavna, Bill Watterson talks: This is why you must read the new ‘Exploring Calvin and Hobbes’ book, The Washington Post (2015-03-09).

Listened

  1. The Zero-Minute Workout, Freakonomics Radio (2019-06-26).
  2. Episode 216: How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil, Planet Money (2020-01-01).
  3. 716: The Right Way to Form New Habits - HBR IdeaCast, HBR IdeaCast (2020-01-02).

Watched

The Dismemberment Plan: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Photo

Upcoming

  • :

There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

A week in review, 2019-W52

Wrote

  1. 39 (2019-12-24).

Read

  1. Seth Godin, Quality and effort, Seth's Blog (2018-11-01). We ignore checklists and processes because we've been taught that they’re beneath us. Instead of reacting to an error with, "I need to be more careful," we can respond with, "I can build a better system." If it matters enough to be careful, it matters enough to build a system around it.
  2. Gene Williams, Calvin's Other Alter Ego, The Plain Dealer (1987-08-30).
  3. Van Savage, Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper, Nature (2019-09-26). And don't worry too much about readers who want to find a way to argue about every tangential point and list all possible qualifications for every statement. Just enjoy writing.
  4. Shane Parrish, How Not to Be Stupid, Farnam Street (2020-01-02). By the way, if you're in any field and you want to find ways to innovate, focus on words that are commonly used and try to define them simply. It took me about a month, and I defined stupidity as overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information. Right? It's crucial information, like you better pay attention to it. It's conspicuous, like it's right in front of your nose and yet you either overlook it or you dismiss it.
  5. Natasha Frost, What do Boeing CEO's Dennis Muilenberg's apologies actually mean?, Quartz (2019-10-31). Right now, Boeing's apologies appear to be more focused on rebuilding the relationship with customers than on actually fixing the problem or offering an explanation. It's not surprising if they thus ring a little hollow—especially since the company's attempts to fix the problem appear to be being done at the behest of the FAA, rather than its own leadership.

Listened

  1. Podcast #571: The Voyage of Character, The Art of Manliness (2019-12-23).

Watched

Meet Memo, the Marie Kondo of Fitness, The New York Times (2019-11-01).

Photo

Upcoming

  • 2020-01-01: It's a new year—we ain't makin' any plans quite yet.

There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

39

(Ideally, these things would actually be published on my birthday. But.)

Greetings, humans. I have survived another trip around the sun. This one is not quite a prime number, which is code for: boring. The next one is code for: old.

Being born in December means: it's ambiguous when I'm thinking about the last year as an end-of-year review or an end-of-my-year review. Not sure it matters. We can replay content here. Look at the URL.

I weigh 67.7 kg (149.3 lbs). I am—I assume but can not be bothered to measure in the last *checks watch* decade or so—5' 8.5" (174.0 cm).

I am, as of recently, the Test and Integration Lead of a pseudo-proprietary program at Boeing in St. Louis. It's not proprietary in the sense that I'll go to jail talking about it, but proprietary in the sense that they might make more money if I don't talk about it. I don't worship money, but I believe that someone will collect what I owe on my mortgage if I don't pay for it, so I Don't Talk About It.

I am still trying to learn Chinese, and it's still impossible.

I am a student at Washington University in St. Louis.

I am.

What?

I am trying to get by. But I'm also, really, powersliding the turns, foot on the accelerator, aiming for the gaps that the Squares don't. (Raise your hand if I've given you the ol' left-right jab to the kidneys at work.) But I'm also a Square.

I am on a planet, which is rotating, which is revolving about a star, which is revolving about a... who knows, who knows... it's so complicated.

So much of the world makes sense until you expect precision or 100% reliability. Then the wheels fall off. To wit, I offer you the three-body problem. Although I don't remember all of the specifics of AAE 306 Orbital Mechanics with Prof. Conway in Fall 2002, I still remember the implausible idea that solving for the position, velocity, etc., of three bodies that are interacting with each other eventually devolves into chaos. I mean literal chaos—you can't solve for the specifics. But ask me any specific things about AAE 306 or anything else and I'll have to shunt you off into chaos faster than you can say "impulse".

Where were we?

I've got a better handle on tools—power and otherwise—than I used to. No eyes were lost. Many shelves were made. Muy hombre.

And?

And.

I wish I had read more books, but I didn't.

I wish I had cooked more dinners, but I didn't.

I wish I had learned more statistics/probability, but I didn't.

I wish I didn't wake up so often at 04:30 to get things done that I didn't.

I think the impulse is: get more things done. I think the impulse should be: get fewer things done, but make sure they're the right things.

Feel that blood pulsing. It doesn't do that when you're dead.

I didn't run any races this year. I still tune into the results for the Boston Marathon or the Western States Endurance Run. Our identity is so much more than what we're doing this instant—for good or ill. Our identity is aggregated over time.

By "our" I mean "my". I'm sorry. The words just fall out of my head.

I'm going to spoil the movie for you:

Everyone dies in the end.

But it's more complicated than that.

You alone get to decide if that matters. Is it a maudlin curse? Is it an inevitable conclusion? Is it a constraint? Is it freedom?

It depends.

I have moods. I think you have moods. Sometimes "the end" is a gift and sometimes it's a debt. Either way, don't take it too seriously.

I have gray hair—on the sides, at least, and some on my face, and supposedly I'd have some up on top if that hair had bothered to stick around. It doesn't bother me. Let it do what it wants.

I have no plans for the future. I haven't reached that crystalline point of let-it-happen but I'm amenable to the idea.

I am...

I am?

I am.

A week in review, 2019-W51

Wrote

None

Read

  1. Joe Fassler, The Great Gatsby Line That Came From Fitzgerald's Life—and Inspired a Novel, The Atlantic (2013-07-02). If we spend our lives on a social stage, performing emotions, ideas, and acts for others, how are we ever to be sure of the authenticity of our feelings and memories?
  2. Lindsey Andrews, YAGNI – You Aren’t Going To Need It: Too Much Data is a Bad Thing, SensrTrx Blog (2019-10-24). When applied to manufacturing data, YAGNI explains the importance of collecting data that can provide valuable insights and actionable decisions. Many companies collect anything and everything because “you never know what you might find”, which is the wrong way to look at data collection.

Listened

  1. There and Back Again, Radiolab (2019-12-18).
  2. Alex Gibney, WTF with Marc Maron (2019-12-19).
  3. #1402 - Boyan Slat, The Joe Rogan Experience (2019-12-17).

Watched

The Top 100 Plays of 2019! | MLB Highlights

Photo

Upcoming

  • Nothing!: I have no idea. Tell me what I should do in 2020.

There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

A week in review, 2019-W50

Wrote

  1. And that's that (2019-12-14).

Read

  1. Rob Kilner, Lunchtime Loafer, The Idler (2018-09-03). In the early days of my lunch-hour excursions, I would walk for half-an-hour before turning back, to see how far I could get. I plotted a circular lunchtime range on a map, which revealed an area the size of a small country (the Polynesian Island nation of Tuvalu) at my disposal. And the lunch hours add up. Twelve months of them equate to around two weeks of free time.
  2. Jessica Cohen, Local News Deserts and Rainmakers, Utne Reader (2019-04-01). Napoli’s 2018 study then found that 20 out of 100 randomly sampled U.S. communities had no local news, and eight had no articles addressing critical information needs in the seven days that news stories were analyzed. As online news and ads divert subscription and ad revenue from newspapers, many have limited resources for local reporting and rely on state and national wire stories — or papers collapse and close. “What’s scary is what people don’t know they don’t know,” said Napoli.

Listened

  1. (sub)Text: A Discussion of Todd Phillips' Film "Joker, The Partially Examined Life (2019-12-06).
  2. Margaret O'Mara: Silicon Valley doesn't understand its own history, Recode Decode (2019-12-11).

Watched

How to make Salted Duck Egg Yolk Sauce(Chinese Mayonnaise)

Upcoming


There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

And that's that

After taking a final exam for DAT 5402 (data analytics for business leaders) this afternoon, the semester—and it still feels outmoded to measure the passing of time that way at this stage—is effectively over.

The last four months have been busy—subtly so. Typically when I think of busy-ness, or of running short of time, I think of The Grind—when there's so much to do and you just have to put a shoulder to the work and keep pushing and pushing and pushing until it's done or the time's run out. The last few months were slightly different. There were aspects of The Grind, but on balance the work was easier, it's just that the time somehow seemed to be accounted for so much more completely.

Moving into the house and starting the Tuesday/Thursday evening PMBA program at the same time turned into the biggest test of time. One weekend, we moved into the house. The next weekend I had the kickoff weekend for school. And immediately, I was behind on all fronts. Then on and on in a feedback loop. Losing a weekend of unpacking and building at the house meant I fell behind there. Using Monday and Wednesday evenings to catch up on the house meant falling behind in school. Like drowning, it wasn't necessarily the water itself that was most threatening but the thrashing about to stay above water—the thrashing saps energy and will at the expense of The Goal, versus the in-the-panic counterintuitiveness of simply floating.

Floating is a good solution. Floating is focus. It's focusing on the one thing that really matters—not even keeping your head above water, but just the bits that need to be above water.

So this week starts a break from school until sometime in January. And this week is the last week of work for the year—if you can call it that, once the reality of staff discovering their unused vacation and sick leave sets in. The cycle eases itself a bit. I'd like to lay on the ground, one side of my face in the dirt, and just witness the world from the vantage point of a worm. Don't bother me—it's the season for hibernation. But. The downcycle is the best—sometimes the only—opportunity for reflection. Doing and reflecting are necessarily opposed. Each requires the focus that the other requires. Where do we go from here? And where is here? And how did we get here? It's not really about getting ahead of the future, but getting down into a coiled position, alert and prepared to grapple with it when it arrives.


I don't know if it fits, but that last brooding passage from The Great Gatsby floats to the surface of its own volition:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us the, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning———
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

A week in review, 2019-W49

Wrote

  1. The ritual of the notes (2019-12-03).

Read

  1. Richard Thaler, Cass Sunstein, John Balz, Choice Architecture, The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy (2013).

Listened

  1. Honey, I Grew the Economy (Ep. 399), Freakonomics Radio (2019-12-05).
  2. How to Trust People You Don't Like, WorkLife (2018-03-28).
  3. S 5 E 17 The Spanish Flu and Selfish Genes, Akimbo (2019-12-04).

Photo

Upcoming


There might be additional links that didn't make the cut at notes.kirkkittell.com

The ritual of the notes

At work I'm fairly methodical about planning ahead for the next day, week, month--almost as methodical about planning as I am about disregarding the plan when the time comes. It involves OneNote and I should explain it sometime--it's a useful system.

One key part of it is making a new note page for every (pertinent) meeting in my calendar. It serves two purposes: (1) to line up the day's or week's events; (2) to catch notes from the meeting. The first part I'm good at; the second part I'm not.

I think that a slight frame of reference shift would improve the actual keeping of notes. I tell myself: it's about the information. It's about keeping receipts. It's like an old school engineering lab notebook. (A fine ritual itself.) But I don't think that's the most useful thing. The notes themselves aren't as important as the ritual of the notes. Why don't I write meeting notes as frequently as I think I should? Can't keep notes when you're not paying attention. Can't keep notes when you're talking too much (or doing that thing where you're just waiting for an opening to talk). Being present in that moment is the real value.

I am good at keeping notes when I am or feel responsible for keeping notes for the group in a meeting. Perhaps tapping into that is another method to self-motivate.