Don’t do it that way, you’ll never make a dime.

This one can also be called, how to make the transition from saying that you are starting a blog into actually trying to run one. I started this one with the idea to write as often as possible. Offline there are numerous hardcover, leather (or pleather) wrapped notebooks and journals that I use to document various musings, dilemmas, and ideas for general improvements. Some of the time, I brought that into my computer and started just typing 3-5 page papers to nobody in particular. As most people brought up these days, my thoughts can be translated into readable forms much quicker with a keyboard than a pen and paper. At the insistence of a few people and my own self-nudging, I decided to take the first step and make a free website. The domain was free, as was access to the tools needed to blast my obscure thoughts out into the internet.

Mind you that jump from people insisting that I should do this, and my actually doing so was not an immediate process. As with any project, research must be done to understand what is it that needs to be done. There’s also a fair bit of dilly-dallying, getting distracted, deciding that maybe a podcast would be a better format, more rambling into my voice memos, and typing more letters to myself that would all probably make decent blog posts but they remain locked away on my computer. Mind you, this isn’t my sole career function. I work in a warehouse for my primary income, and believe me I have plenty to say about that experience. This is something new for me. And some of the things that I have to say might cut across the grain for some people in person, but in person that doesn’t typically hold me back. There’s something about branching out into this vast cyberspace that both excites and frightens me. This is coming from someone who grew up with it as it developed into what we see now. At some point though, as I have said, I’ve got things to say. The graphic artist who married me would say that is an understatement. So here we are, typing away and just hoping that someone will stick around through all these meandering trails. I swear, it all leads somewhere.

So, research. There are definitely times were just looking stuff up is way more entertaining than actually doing anything. There’s so much redundant information available that you can spend weeks looking through other blogs trying to find out what exactly you should do to start one and always feel like you are finding some new twist along the way that keeps you from taking any definitive action. At the same time, discerning helpful information from advertisements disguised as help articles becomes a challenge. Which, to be fair, if the intent of the author is to create useful information to direct people towards a website-based income stream dependent on people who visit the site or click on through links then ultimately they can’t be faulted. I’d be a hypocrite to do so. The difference comes in the content itself. Most of the websites about trying to start a blog that one encounters are just an instruction manual for navigating the wordpress.com site with a casual suggestion to use one of about 4 hosting services. All of the time I spent looking up how to start a blog just put off the actual doing so. Every time I got into the math of trying to put thoughts on a website so that people could read it, I eventually lost interest and just moved on to something more rewarding than trying to figure out whether you really need domain information privacy or why someone would pay for that when others are just including it.

Eventually, I took a step. That’s the key point in anything. Once you have information, make an action. You can’t really have too much information, but you can also simply have enough. I had fallen into a loop of thinking there was something I was missing, some secret that hadn’t been uncovered, and the secret was that I was telling myself that looking all of that up was doing what I needed to do. And so I figured out the common first step and I downloaded wordpress. And then I found out that I misunderstood how that worked, and I went to the .com and started a free blog. And now I’m telling you this without being paid for it. I just wanted a thing to type out thoughts and hit enter and make them appear on a screen that wasn’t my own. All that was required was a typing interface, and a url of my choosing. Simple and straight forward. And it helps to have something to write about which all of the how to start a blog websites did not have much to say about other than “Use your imagination!” The first blog was launched under a URL that I did not look up as to whether anyone had the .com for it. In all my due diligence, actual research was overlooked. This is the danger of searching for the wrong information when starting a project. Lost in the process of just getting the website established, the idea of the website itself was left to atrophy. My lens had gone stray and for a brief period it caused me to just give up on this entirely while I was left trying to rename the website.

That held up my progress here because it happened at a critical step. After the first few posts, the lack of control over the site itself had become irksome. When the blog was first published, an email was sent that suggested not to delay a proper subscription because statistically people that waited simply never would. Marketing tactic that it was, there was no reason to take the step. Free access afforded me the trial needed to determine if this was something worth pursuing. Would it be something that I could routinely stick to? Or would I find myself drifting away from it and begrudging the notion of sitting down to write something? That happens when I write code. I tell myself and others that I’m learning to write code. And I am. I’m just learning code really, really slowly. And most of that is discipline, which is something that I am working on. That’s part of why I’ve tasked myself with learning code. It’s something I want to do, but don’t possess the drive to commitment required. All that can be overcome it is just a matter of my holding myself to it. Fortunately, blogging doesn’t seem to require that dogged forced behavioral adjustment process. This is just something that I do, maybe that means it plays to a strength of mine. Finding out that my url was taken threw a wrench in the works and really forced me to decide if this was something I wanted to keep doing. And it was. Everyone emphasized how crucial it is to have a good name. There’s probably more wisdom in that camp than the newly established, just get a url and start writing because otherwise you are wasting time camp, but really. If you are trying to figure out how to game traffic onto the site then you should revisit your intent. Unless that’s your thing. I’m not here to kink-shame.

At the end of the day most of the options were comparable within a few bucks, and rather than learn how to migrate my site, I just decided to proceed with the .com I started with. The interface is clean and usable for as much as I know what I’m doing. I didn’t need to back anything up or transfer anything. And I got my own .com url which is now my primary domain name. Faced with roadblocks I find myself taking the time to overcome them without having to force it. Things like this aren’t always easy to see, especially when you aren’t looking for them. This entry at least mentioned code, so I’m on topic as well, but I did say it was mostly about nothing. I guess I meant nothing in particular. Now that I have some more options available the look of this site might change, so if any of you are really committed to this aesthetic I apologize out of formality. Anyone new joining will have no idea what they were missing out on, enjoy being part of an incredibly exclusive club.

Maybe the blog is more about bicycles for now

Walk the walk if one feels the need to run their mouth about how people should get around right? Well maybe some people just have an easier time telling everyone else what to do. Maybe sometimes we make excuses for why we can’t keep up with our responsibilities. Maybe we have to leave at between 5:30 and 6 to get to work on time and are just bad at prioritizing. Or, perhaps, the light we needed to leave at the time was broken. That was all rhetorical and mostly truth. All of that can be solved through the application of non delayed action. That’s what I mean when I say that motivation is crap. I am really motivated to do all of this. Right now. But it’s freakin’ 10:41. What good is this?? Still though. We gotta work with that we get handed and the the ability to do that is way more broadly applicable than fickle motivation. Broken lights though? That’s easy. And recycling in this instance. So, double-whammy at minimum.

This is my second headlamp from the internet bazaar. The first died and to this day I don’t know if the battery itself gave out, or if the lamp quit. It had three lamps and was incredibly bright, which is good because my ride into work is incredibly dark. Municipalities seem to be under the impression that the responsibility of lighting falls solely on the individual that has decided to embark upon their journey like a cave person. You want to ride around exposed on a steel horse, better bring a torch because the bike paths around here are not lit. At all. Now, I haven’t raised the money to do this and I can’t imagine anyone else has bothered to either. There is no estimate I could provide for the cost of those lights, but they stick them on roads and it would certainly encourage people to jump on bicycles. At least enough to alleviate some of the traffic around here. Not everyone is going to bike, and it would be unreasonable to demand that everyone does. More of us can than are though. I certainly can so long as I have a light to get me to work. Whereas my first light gave out in a manner rendering it unusable, the second failed only to remain attached to my cranium. Plastic products on the internet bazaar are not always of the highest durability. A plastic clip that connected the strap that formed the headband snapped, leaving me with a lamp wired to a battery pack and two-thirds of the elastic I needed to wrap those around my helmet.

There was a picture of a bicycle on another website that had a remote battery pack attached to the side of the bicycle. This battery pack connected to at least the front light. Going into that search, in the back of my mind, was the idea that I needed to fix the light on my own bicycle. When I got out to the garage, my plan was to recreate the first assembly (which is a really loose use of that term) that was slapped together when the lamp originally broke. With a bungee cord that did pretty much nothing and the broken straps wrapped around the handlebars and then layered again with most of a roll of electrical tape, the light stayed attached where needed and aimed slightly to the left. Mostly optimal! However, the tape covered a bolt that allowed the handlebars to be adjusted and given that the fit on this bike is being tweaked on an entirely whimsy-based process the need to remove the light became inevitable. The reattachment of the light was not immediately subsequent and thus my morning rides and commitment to something resembling values was cast aside. Until tonight that is. Subconsciously inspired by that picture perhaps, or just presented with an opportunity to really look at a problem and let a solution come to me I realized that I was in possession of everything I needed. First, the straps needed to be slipped from the surviving plastic clips. The light itself is mounted to a hinge with a flat plate. The wire to the battery pack runs out of the right hand side and through a loop for flexibility. After reaching for the ever handy electrical tape, the thought occurred to me that having to cut the tape off every time the power cells needed swapping seemed impractical and counter to the ecological and economic purpose of the bicycle.

The bicycle was sold to me with a small black bag with a busted zipper that once pulled most of the way closed refused to open again without a spritz of penetrating lubricant and creative use of a hook on the end of the bungee cord used in the prototype attempt the first time round. That bag was located, zipper surgery performed, and with some extra looping of the primary strap and a sturdy self looping elastic bungee with a ball on the end of it for good measure, a battery pouch was fabricated.

The light itself sits perched center and pointed low on the handlebars. The lights are supposed to be angled down because as squishy cyclists its in our best interest not to blind drivers so they don’t feel the urge to run us over. They should never feel bothered to switch away from their high beams or make sure that that the buy it now halogen LED turbo lazer beam headlights are adjusted to point at the correct road angle and not straight at my clearly able to adapt to sudden light changes pupils. The hinge was a little floppy and since the town can’t be bothered to fix every single pothole simultaneously it would bob around and be less than useful overall. Electric tape wrapped around the hinge seems to have rectified that issue.

I think I just accidentally lived out that trope of the engineer’s flowchart (does it move, should it?). The graphic designer that agreed to marry me says that it looks retro. That’s pretty much all the praise I’ll ever need.

Now all that stands in my way is laziness. And a lack of sleep. At least I wrote this blog post though. Do you give yourself credit for the little battles when the little battles seem like pyrrhic victories? Might as well, right? Right. Just keep telling them it’s about code. Coding. Coding what though?

Coding, Bicycles, and how Motivation is a load of Crap.

Today while riding through the main street of my town there was an older couple riding in the opposite direction. They were dressed in the trappings of a well sold cyclist, brightly colored clothing, mirror strapped to the helmet, a posture so upright the Queen would be very proud. They were not however equipped with a well versed knowledge of how to ride a bicycle in a road. To that point, the drivers whizzing by are not themselves subject matter experts. The town itself was built up in the late 1800s. it started as a large tract of farmland and a river crossing. The city across the river has some historical significance, but it doesn’t contribute largely to the existence of this particular town other than that it was there and the river is easier to cross here and in several other places. As a result a rail line was constructed parallel to river and it tied in by crossing the river and connecting the two towns by a series of bridges. During the course of development, the largest plot of farmland was sold to a land real estate company that sliced everything up and started to expand the number of buildings that existed. With the buildings came people and roads and they managed to expand their town up the side of the hill that the aforementioned river contributed towards carving. In order to ease the journey from the residential hill to the lower downtown, a trolley was built. That trolley ran across the river into the historical city and connected the two even further. People walked, or took the trolley. One could imagine a few more adventurous types using a bicycle. The surrounding countryside has been there forever and the town was largely built up around industry because of the ease of crossing the river nearby. Then people started buying cars. And then people started packing more than one family into the homes. And all of those families also had cars. Sometimes more than one. Then everyone decided to complain about the traffic but also not pay any attention when they drive and sit at a redlight staring at their phone while complaining that the youth are the problem but at least one of us is managed to have some proper signal lights and is trying to follow the prescribing procedure for operation of a vehicle.

It seems like at some point we just give up on learning anything new. And by that point we are also really susceptible to outside influence. Maybe there is a correlation between actively learning and directing your thought in that manner and simply going through the motions of modern suburban life. Although, even that has a bunch of different meanings even just within the 15 odd mile (or 24.14 km if that’s your thing. Do you have a thing about distance measurements?) radius that surrounds makes up the larger connected economic block of several towns arranged around an industrial and commerce park. Interestingly, my brief attempts at finding a definition of suburban were not grandly fruitful. The direct search term results in advertisement for a truck. Suburban life directed me to a page with a headline about someone being charged with assault for battering a child. Wasn’t suburban life supposed to be the idea of the American Dream brought into civic planning? Violence and battery certainly don’t seem like the white picket fence utopia. A slightly deeper dive brings us to the civic design center. Where upon there is a lovely presentation of a single photo and a small digital booklet, which to my surprise was about exactly the types of ideas that I advocate for locally. Which is incredibly pleasant to happen across, especially from a state backed presentation. The initial skim provided the Urban Dictionary definition of suburban and it seemed as though it was going to be a very different sort of pamphlet. Definitely worth a look for any one interested in how to make suburban life less of a drag on health and heavily dependent on cars.

In the description of the town and surrounding area, it was mentioned that there was a diversity of constructions in the suburbs. The oldest models in the area are tightly packed, the houses themselves about 20-25 feet wide on average and standing about 30 or so feet tall. They run very long, although after having looked through several of them its clear that at least a few were much, much smaller and that leaves me curious as to what the houses would have been built like originally. All-in-all, the building provides about 1600 square feet, plus a yard large enough for a moderate sized garden, and space for activities. And a garage. The dream right? Well, close enough to mine anyway. This is the general layout of the town built up on a hill with the rest of the farmland slowly being carved into rectangles as people decide it’s a nice area near the country but they don’t want to live in a box that other people have already lived in. When I was in elementary school, I was assigned to a group that got to do a historical project specifically about the area that we lived in. It never occurred to me that not everyone was given this glimpse into the local area. We may know some of the history if our parents were from the area and felt so inclined to share but ultimately even that was probably spotty. American history, and civics, and social studies (which freakin’ comma should I use? Or would it drive you nuts if I just went back and forth and never made a decision? Only worth it if it doesn’t drive you away.) was the majority of what people were taught. I learned that the school we were in was originally part of an airport. There was a whole timeline for me to forget. The neighboring township was a branch off further from the housing constructed for the management of a large industrial firm that set up shop in the middle of the area. Spiraling clockwise, starting at 3 o’clock, the population is thickest there by the river and the hill across from the historical city and decreases in density as you continue along the clock. As you cross into the early expansions the houses are more unique. The lots are all of a moderate size but your neighbor is still 15-20 feet away. If there were trees, planted along the roadside they have all grown to maturity. Most of this land was forested or farmed so many of the trees are native and old. There are still a handful of businesses clustered into the neighborhood and the roads are quiet enough to ride a bicycle through or walk, but realistically there is nothing useful within most people’s idea of walkable. Is that a failure of design or human motivation? We know that sitting still too much kills us. Right? Probably not as many of us as one would hope. There is a strip mall nearby, but a bargain store, a few restaurants, and doctors offices make for slim pickings.

This portion of town is connected to the rest of the commercial and residential area by way of major highway. Backroads exist and it is possible to get to the shopping centers by way of bicycle, but I ride frequently and still want a motor. The area is full of rolling hills and everything is just that little bit too far away. So far no one has managed to look at the area and figure out where a good bike path can be carved out. At least then the hills wouldn’t be as daunting because there wouldn’t be cars threatening to flatten you. Which finally brings me around to the point that I had started with, which is to say that no body wants to learn anything. And towns are designed badly. Unless you run a gas station. This little side track took me all of like 20 minutes of clicking around and I found something interesting and worthwhile to learn about that expanded upon a thing that I was already interested in. Maybe that’s a key point, there has to be an interest. Interest results in that kind of spontaneous “hmm?” that results in finding a handy pamphlet to share with whomever manages to get this far.

Maybe learning how to drive in a way that maximizes cooperation and the fact that we are all traffic and in traffic isn’t interesting. Driving itself barely seems interesting given the number of people barely paying attention to it even when that means that no one can figure out whether they are going to go or continue to wait or let anyone else go or just randomly step on the gas and decide to go because they were ready but that they hadn’t really looked to see if anyone was in front of them before doing so. Maybe, given the fact that we can barely manage to pay attention to the road without also checking a message at minimum, we should think about lowering the speed limits in area where people are known to be pedestrians. Or just lower them anyway. That little booklet pointed out that 85% of deaths in accidents where an automobile strikes a person occur when the vehicle is traveling 40 miles per hour (64.37 km, metric system would probably have a speed limit of 60 KM no? or maybe they would round up and just slightly out pace us everywhere). If we lowered residential speed limits to 20 mph, then most electric bicycles would have no difficulty keeping pace with the flow of traffic. Most regular bicycles wouldn’t be going much slower, even at a more gentle 10 mph for it to matter. We’re all in too much of a hurry to begin with, but that’s another hour of rambling that I’ll save for another time.

Moral of the Story. Pay more attention and learn something. Today I made another venture into learning How to Automate the Boring Stuff. I have tried so many different ways to learn code and none of them have really held my attention. Maybe you have to be guilty of a thing to really understand it. Without name dropping because I think they are losers that don’t deserve your attention more than that free to access link up there, I tried a few of the guided tours and just felt that it wasn’t sticking. To be fair what wasn’t sticking was me. There needed to be a reason to sit down on a daily basis and learn the thing. With a car the reason is just to avoid killing people. Programming, or code whichever is the more accurate vernacular, just wasn’t something I saw a reasonable way forward in. Making my websites wasn’t going to make boxes lift themselves more safely or motivate my co-workers to try harder. And money alone or the prospect of a career change weren’t motivating either. So what changed this time? The goal is just the doing of it. There was a model kit that let a kid build a robot and then program the robot with blocks that had simple to change parameters. That kit provided results that encouraged further exploration. And that’s what Python and automating boring stuff does for me. Making simple things happen, like an entry form that can round my answer triggers the same little button as pushing pedals or adjusting gears and cables. One of these entries will be a small summary of what I’ve learned so far. That will provide a good recap to make sure that I’m actually grasping what I’m trying to learn. Because that’s what this blog is about. Coding.

Addendum: I didn’t explain why motivation is crap, I just said that I wasn’t motivated by anything. That might just be depression, but it’s still crap. You need gumption because otherwise just waiting around for motivation will leave you sitting around a lot. Disagree, fight me, but not really because maybe I’m just missing something, so rather than fighting me, clue me in. And then when you recognize the difference between the two go and apply that to other situations so we can start having peaceful disagreeing dialogues. Unless that’s an oxymoron. Code, the blog is about code.

How did you manage to end up here?

No matter it’s ultimately not important. Welcome traveler! Roamer of the world wide web. There isn’t much here for now and that’s alright. This is the beginning of whatever this will become. It might be the end as well if I don’t manage to stick with it. That is part of why I am writing this blog though. Public accountability. If all I ever do is write entries in a little book that I carry around with me, then I have no way to determine if the ideas that get recorded are sound. I can tell myself anything I want and there is ultimately no one to tell me that I’m wrong because in this life we are able to create whatever image of ourselves in other people’s minds that we want. At least right up until the part where they catch you in that act and reconcile that you don’t really know what you are up to.

I for the life of me can’t manage to teach myself code. There’s also a stubborn bitter entity taking up residence in my head that isn’t ready to just throw in the towel and go back to school. So along the way this will serve as a record of what I hope is growth and skill and determination. In my current job, I feel stagnant, a lot of that is on me. Recognizing it is the first important step. Or at least that’s what some would lead me to believe. We’ll see though.

There is nothing that I would call myself an expert in, but that certainly won’t prevent me from rambling. In between drab explanations of what I taught myself in coding camp will be a litany of random discussions ranging from local politics to free-will. And neurosis, but that’s something you’ll just get accustomed to as I dart around from topic to topic. Life has handed me quite the laundry list of experiences, and those experiences have in turned provided me with pretty half-decent insight.

So, let this serve as an introduction to the Public Records Department. Over the course of these first few posts, you’ll start to get an introduction to the lunatic behind this. And assuming you get that far we might get to have some cool conversations.

At some point I will get around to adding a contact form. It will probably be listed under something like send me hate mail, though comments are readily available for that. If at any point, any of you decide that you want my advice, go ahead and ask me anything and I’ll give you a response. No guarantees that any of the advice will be sound nor should it be followed, but who knows, could be a fun time for everyone. I’ll trade mediocre life advice for advice on how to be better at coding. Coding, which as stated, is the primary purpose of this blog. Of course is it.