Daily Thoughts 174: Tackling Overload

I have too much to do. I hear people say this frequently. Sometimes I’m the one saying it. Sometimes someone else says it. It comes up at work. There aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s another phrase uttered with some frequency. The phrase varies, while the sentiment remains. It has powered industries around time management, organization, mindfulness, and every other way to address the perceived scarcity of time.

It is a perception. It is also often shared and passed on from one person to the next. The President of your company wants improved results sooner rather than later. The view runs through the organization as each subsequent supervisor wants results so that they can meet their deadline. It happens in families. When are you going to get that sink fixed? We also do it ourselves by setting our own deadlines. If I’m going to retire at 55, then I need to hurry up and get more done.

Overload

All of this leads to a feeling of overload. We have too much to do. Work, family, and other interests compete for our time. Everything feels unfinished because we never catch up. I’m no exception. The demands on my time continue to multiply.

I don’t worry too much about it anymore. I used to feel much more of a rush. I needed to get everything done right now.

Now I focus on acceptance. I may have many things to do, things I want to do (even as simple as taking a nap), but it doesn’t really matter. I just need to accept what I can do each day and be kind to myself. I have six areas of self-focus that I try to tackle. I don’t get to each every day.

  • Walking. I usually do this one, taking a walk first thing to start my day.
  • Meditation. Likewise, I usually spend 15 minutes on this each day and find it useful.
  • Study. I try to learn something each day.
  • Write. Ideally, I write every day but don’t worry if I don’t.
  • Draw. Same as writing. It’s important, but I don’t do it every day.
  • Code. Third in my creative efforts.

Each day I note which of these I’ve done, trying to do as many as I can each day. If I don’t make it one day, then I try the next. It doesn’t encompass everything that I do. These are inwardly focused activities. And I do other things for entertainment or enjoyment. I’ve been watching House of Cards and 11.22.63 recently. I play games. I read a ton of books. Reading happens each day, but it isn’t on the list. It’s impossible to get through the day without reading something.

Ultimately, this short list helps me deal with overload by reminding me to spend some time for my own health and happiness. Anything more and it’d be too long. I also note my sleep, a few comments on the day, and my primary emotion each day. Instead of being overwhelmed, I recognize the successes I’ve had and accept that as a win.


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Daily Thoughts 173: Tackling the e-Portfolio

It’s time for me to start developing my e-Portfolio for my MLIS course at SJSU.

The culminating experience for our MLIS program requires students to select, document, and assemble evidence of their competence in a series of skill areas the faculty have deemed essential for entry-level professional performance.

Since I’ve got to do this for the program anyway, I thought it might make sense to write about the experience. Share my path through working on the portfolio, decisions made, methods used, and all the other details that will crop up along the way.

SJSU requires students to keep privacy and confidentiality in mind when creating the e-portfolio. It needs to be kept private before graduation, and if made public after graduation then students “must remove the names of students, institutions, and employers and make sure they are not identifiable in your e-Portfolio.” – handbook

That’s okay. The main idea is more about how I go about creating the e-Portfolio.

Why now?

I could wait until the semester starts in August, but I want to work on it before then and have a structure in place. I plan to create the e-Portfolio initially as an offline web site, publishing it as a password-protected site once it is required for the semester. The book will cover the details on the website set up, a calendar and timeline of the process. At the end, once approved, I’ll release the public-facing version of the site along with the completed book.

I plan to release it under a CC BY-SA license. I’ll have print copies for sale and e-book copies for sale via retail platforms (you’re paying in that case for convenience and to support my work). Free copies will be available to download from the site.

I have attended a couple different webinars on the e-Portfolio process. I’ve spoken to fellow students nervous about it. The school does offer the handbook site with information, and advisors during the process. I still think that a book will be of interest, although that isn’t my main motivation.

I could also plan to do interviews, profiles, and case studies of fellow students. Perhaps. That adds complexity to the project. Maybe I’ll just keep it to my work.

Again, I’m not doing it because I expect to make money off the project. I’m doing it because it will help me focus on my process and reflect on the experience. I’ve put a lot of work into this degree. This sounds like an interesting project and it frankly makes the e-Portfolio itself more interesting by adding a dimension I would enjoy.


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Daily Thoughts 172: Small Steps Into the Future

Today I started taking a few small steps into the future. Not much. I started work on a new library-related website. I plan for it to start small and build it over time. It’s one piece, one project out of many projects. It’s fun.

Afternoon Notes

This was written during my afternoon break at work. A few short notes.

I’m sitting on my stool beside the Deschutes River. A large mallard glides upstream along the opposite shore. Here it is the sounds of bird calls. The gentle murmur of the river. And still the constant to and fro of car noises on the not so distant road. Cottonwood seeds drift in the air all around me and the river. I’ve set up my stool just past a pile of rocks above the river below, just off the main gravel trail. Up until now, my break has remained undisturbed by others, but just now I’ve heard voices downstream. I don’t know if they’re heading this way or not.

I wanted to get away from work. Away from the noise of the road out front. To some place a bit more peaceful. This qualifies. I don’t normally go anywhere on my breaks but today I decided to go ahead. Clouds as fluffy as the seeds float overhead, alternating shadow and sunlight.The air is warm without being hot.

My mood today has been a bit subdued. I blame my brain. The depression that lurks in the folds and twists of my gray matter. Most of the time I don’t feel it. I used to. Not often now. It helps to know that it is nothing more than my brain. It isn’t me.

I don’t have a connection here. I’m using Novlr offline to see how that works. If this entry gets lost, that’s fine. It isn’t anything that I need to keep.

I want to start reviewing stories to send out to markets. The stories I’ve written more recently. I want to work on my sites. On all sorts of things. Right now, however, I need to get back to work.


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Daily Thoughts 171: Intellectual Property Value

No ukulele practice today. Unless I practice later. It was raining this morning so I didn’t bother bringing it with me to work. It’s pretty nice now with fluffy cotton ball clouds against the painted blue backdrop of sky outside my window. Almost could be a realistic augmented reality projection.

Value of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) is valuable. Very valuable according to governments around the world.

The Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: 2016 Update reported that IP-intensive industries support “at least 45 million U.S. jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 38.2 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product.” Copyright-intensive industries account for 5.6 million jobs (as opposed to trademark-intensive or patent-intensive jobs). Copyright-intensive jobs account for over 15 million jobs in the European Union. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Guide on Surveying the Economic Contribution of the Copyright Industries states “Copyright has taken center stage in public debates about access to information, and its relevance to daily life and to business operations has attracted the keen interest of most stakeholders in the creative economy.” (2015, p. 7). According to the WIPO the average contribution to national GDP averages 5.48 percent, and contribution to employment averaging 5.34 percent. – Ryan M. Williams, THE GLOBALIZATION OF COPYRIGHT: IMPACTS AND CHALLENGES

That figure, 38.2% of the GDP is an impressive figure and focuses on IP-intensive industries including those based on the patent, trademark, and copyright (the three methods of controlling IP) industries.

Many companies today seek unencumbered IPs that they can control. Simply having an IP adds to the company’s valuation whether they intend to do anything with the IP. It is an asset. The last thing that any company wants to do is give up an asset.

Back when copyright first was established, in the age of metal set type, printers controlled the system. Copyright shifted control from the printers guilds to the authors and established it as a right of authors to control the reproduction of their work.

A chief concern at the time was limiting the copyright to a reasonable time. The government rejected the call for a perpetual copyright and started out with a 14 year period, with the option of a single 14-year renewal. That expanded to 28 years with a 14-year renewal. The Constitution states the need to limit the period.

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

The establishment of the Berne Convention shifted the period to the author’s life plus 50 years and removed registration and manufacturing requirements. Not that the United States agreed, that took until 1988, because the US easily enjoyed protections under Berne while remaining free to pirate titles.

Since that time, US copyright law has extended the period to the author’s life plus 70 years. The Supreme Court decided that as long as the term isn’t unlimited it is ‘limited.’ This bit of sophistry conveniently ignores the public interest in works entering the public domain. But when the Mouse talks, people listen. The decision opens the door for a functionally unlimited copyright so long as Congress doesn’t call it ‘unlimited,’ ‘forever,’ or ‘perpetual’. Anything short of infinity is limited. Every couple decades Congress can pass a new extension retroactively adding another twenty years. Or fifty years. A hundred years. It makes no difference because you can still point to that so-called limit.

In the meantime, the public interest is overlooked. Works entering the public domain enriches our civilization. It fuels invention, creativity, and new discoveries. By allowing what is essentially a corporate chokehold on IP, the public is denied access to materials that should be freely available.

Intellectual property is valuable. And it’s about time that we address these issues and restore a truly limited copyright that addresses the public interest.


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Daily Thoughts 170: Under Partly Cloudy Skies

I sat outside today beneath the trees under partly cloudy skies. It’d be nicer if there wasn’t all of the car noise from the road (police going by right now with sirens and lights). Mostly it’s the constant rushing noises. You can almost imagine that it’s the sound of waves or water. I still hear the sounds of birds, see squirrels, and feel the breeze. It’s a perfect temperature today. And I’m close enough to the building to still get the Wi-Fi signal.

Ukulele Practice

I’ve wanted to learn to play the ukulele since listening to Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking. It wasn’t the only thing that I took away from the book. It also influenced my thinking in regards to using the CC license on my work. Plus it’s fascinating. Palmer challenges assumptions and makes me think about what I want to do.

And she has fun with the ukulele! It was the “Ukulele Anthem” that convinced me to give it a shot.

“Stop pretending art is hard!”

Lots of fun!


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Daily Thoughts 169: Hanging Out in the Library

I headed out to one of our libraries today. The sunny hot days of the weekend have given way to gray clouds hanging in a featureless layer overhead.  A few raindrops pattered down on my way to work but it has been mostly a dry day.

Book cover artLately, I’ve been listening to Mira Grant’s Parasitology series and I’ve started listening to the third book in the series today. I’m enjoying the series. I read the first book quite a while ago and hadn’t had a chance to get back to the series. I didn’t really try that hard, putting it off because the first book annoyed me. I enjoyed the concept of the story more than the story itself on my initial reading. Even so, it stuck with me. Then I decided to give the second book a shot as an audiobook and reengaged with the characters. I think it would have been better if the first and second books were published together. Or if I hadn’t delayed starting the next. Regardless, I’m really enjoying the series!


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Daily Thoughts 168: Crafting Fun

I’ve had a fun, relaxing day today. I played more Minecraft, continuing my massive island build with the addition of the start of my first rail line and opened the portal to the Nether. My friendly neighborhood Creeper decided to take my boat for a spin before he realized that he didn’t have any hands so he couldn’t row the boat. Or get out again. Now he watches me whenever I’m coming or going.

I also spent time today working outside, watched Walking Dead, Suffragette, and finished reading a book. I did actually get some other productive tasks done. I backed up content from the last semester while watching Walking Dead. I also transferred some domains that needed renewal.

Oats Studios Volume 1 Trailer

I was excited to see this trailer today.


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Daily Thoughts 167: Gardening Fun Today

Off work today. It’s been nice. We had some errands to run this morning. I played Minecraft for a while, working on developing a new tower in my island fortress on our Realm.

One of the best parts of the day was getting out into the back to do some garden work! I haven’t had time to really work on projects like this recently. It was hot, sunny, and left me wiped out, but I really enjoyed all of us out there working on it. We had bought an Album Rhododendron and a Johanna Azalea and needed to get those planted. Up behind the house, there’s a clump of hazelnuts that has been overgrown by invasive blackberries. Nice spot, though. We tackled clearing out vines and dead wood. Gained some scratches and created a large pile of material we’ll need to deal with, but made room for the new plants.

The Arrival

After working outside we came in and collapsed. While recovering, we watched The Arrival. I’ve waited since it’s release to watch it.

I really like the movie. I have Ted Chiang’s collection to read (after I finish some of the other books that I have on my list).

R Programming

Although I’ve been studying data analysis and visualization in my program, there’s still so much more that I haven’t had a chance to learn yet. One of those topics has been R. I see articles talking about R but none of my classes covered it. Today I started a Lynda.com course and installed the language along with RStudio. I plan to learn it along with learning more Python and web-based languages as the mood strikes me.


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Daily Thoughts 166: Visiting Westport

The relief I felt over making the decision not to continue the challenges surprised me. Just a little. I think I had thought that I might feel disappointed. I don’t, in fact, I’m glad. I still plan to tackle big projects. I’m leaving myself free to follow my interests. If I want to code, I’ll code. Write, draw, whatever it is.

Westport

Today I went out to the Westport Timberland Library. I haven’t made it out here recently and it turned out to be a great day for it. I used my new folding tripod stool on my break to sit outside, which was quite nice.

Reacher

This evening we watched Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

Fun action movie. Cruise shows his age a bit.


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Daily Thoughts 165: On Second Thought, Forget Challenges

Sometimes things sound like a good idea. And it might not even be a bad idea, just not what you need to do right now. I realized today that the daily challenges I’d been tackling were that sort of thing. Yes, I plan to write. I plan to draw. I have lots of things I want to do.

I just don’t want deadlines right now.

I had a conversation today about the tension that accompanies being back in school. Once it sinks its claws in, it doesn’t want to let go. I’d finished up classes and rather than relaxing, I immediately added on daily challenges.

Not what I need to do right now. I’ll continue to pursue my creative efforts—without deadlines. Or production goals. Right now I want to work on it when I feel like it and be kind to myself.

I didn’t feel good today. I felt sick and left work early. I rested, napped, watched some Walking Dead (I hadn’t been watching while in school). I also watched The Visit. Not the worst (or best). The found footage style felt forced.


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