Make Lists to Achieve Your Goals

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I’m a filmmaker that specializes in sound. With each passing day, I’m moving closer and closer to my goal of writing and directing documentary films. How does one become a documentary filmmaker? They take the Werner Herzog Masterclass and follow his advice. 

“Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read…if you don’t read, you will never be a filmmaker.”
― Werner Herzog

Daily I have a rigorous reading routine. Most of my books line the shelves of every vertical surface in my home. Begging to be opened and absorbed. To optimize my time, I listen to audiobooks. My local public library offers up to five free audiobooks per month and I take advantage of Audible’s five-dollar book deals and purchasing credits in bulk. 

I’ve slowly yet steadily increased the intensity of my audible reading goals by gradually increasing the playback speed. Currently I “read” or listen to books at double the speed. Occasionally I’ll miss a word or passage and I’ll rewind fifteen seconds and relisten. Point is I read a lot of books.

Reading is a neverending lifelong process. If you are a reader, you’ll never ever finish. 

For the most part, I only read non-fiction. Life is too short and interesting to waste time with fiction. Memoirs, self-development, philosophy, and nature are some of my favorite categories. 

So this is an article on lists. Why are you talking about books?

Possibly because I’m self-diagnosed with ADHD. Or possibly because my interests are vast. Or possibly because I suffer from CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I make lists. Lists of every book I read. Lists of books I never finished. Amazon hosts lists of books I want. 

How does a self-diagnosed weirdo keep track of where he has been and where he is going? You guessed it. I make a damn list.

What are your goals? Do you know how to get there? If you are feeling stuck, lacking in ambition to reach your dreams and goals, make lists. The list can be incremental steps to the final goal.

Want to travel to Patagonia? Make a damn list. Make a huge list that feels overwhelming with detail. Let the anxiety build and then work to strike out just one item on the list. Found your passport? Check it off. Researched flights? Check that shit off. Ordered plane tickets, found someone to care for your orchids? Check. And on and on.

What does a pseudo-documentary filmmaker suffering from self-diagnosed ADHD, turned writer, turned self-help guide, turned philosopher know about the subject? I know how to make a list. And more importantly, I know how to take incremental steps to check items off and make progress. One step at a time.

Stop Sharpening Your Pencil

I once worked with an architect. We will call him The Ostrich. Why The Ostrich? Because he spends most of his day doing two things. Sharpening pencils and shoving his head in the sand. Stressed and anxious about his workload, he would wander around the office, sharpening pencils, grabbing clean writing pads, wiping down his desk, filling his water bottle. I’d say “dude, I wrote my task list, stared blankly at the page, found the easiest task, finished it, and crossed that shit off. And you, you are making sawdust.”

He couldn’t make a list. The idea of the list overwhelmed him. WTF? Isn’t the idea of life the journey and not the destination? Do I only want to read one more book? Write one more article? Make only one film. Hell no. Every day I’ll keep adding to my lists. I make lists of my tasks, and lists of my accomplishments. 

Far ahead in the distance is a sandy mountain. The sun is shining brightly. Will I ever get to the top? Possibly not. However, look at each footprint in the sand as a goal on your list. Take one step, now another. Give it a week, a month, a year. Now look back at that list like footprints in the sand. Do you see have far you’ve come? Now keep going.

My advice Make a damn list.

Stop Overthinking and Analysis Paralysis. It’s Time to Take Action.

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“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.” Dale Carnegie

Our bodies have a natural biological clock called Circadian Rhythm. This clock is prewired to follow a 24-hour cycle based on light and darkness. As night begins to fall our clock will release the hormone melatonin helping us fall asleep. 

We normally sleep through the night until around sunrise. Our bodies begin to release cortisol the fight or flight hormone beginning around 3 am. Your cortisol peaks mid-morning at around 9 am. If you are waking up at the onset of the cortisol rush you may have increased stress levels or underlying health issues.

For me, it’s anxiety and stress. I’ll awaken and acknowledge the fact that it’s not time to be awake. My breathing will have increased with short staccato breathes. My heart will be pumping faster as I enter overthinking mode. 

As I lie there the pounding on my minds gates gets louder and with a bang, the gates open and the thoughts come rushing in. My mind will begin to remind me of every unfinished project. Every possible issue and potentially disastrous outcome. I’ll just lie there, paralyzed by my thoughts and inaction.

My mental self stands there, arms held out as problem after problem, task after tasks, worry after worry are handed to me. I can’t make a move. Paralyzed like a deer caught in the headlights.

As I struggle to regain control, it was during these panicked moments I’d wonder about my capabilities and contemplate running away from my thoughts and challenges. My body was in fight or flight and I was thinking I’d run.

The Human Brain

The human brain is the most developed of any known animal species. Our brains consist of three basic parts. The reptilian brain handles primitive processing such as breathing, heart rate, hunger, sexuality, and procedural memory.

The old mammal brain handles emotion, motivation, and memory.

Lastly, the new mammal brain handles languages, improved reasoning, planning, and complex decision-making.


I’ll silently yell at my thoughts. They won’t relent as they increase in intensity. Mental chaos ensues until I release my “shush” command silently. Focusing closely on my breathing, I’ll take in a purposefully slow intentional breath. My lungs begin to fill and my chest increases in volume. The oxygenated air reaching my extremities. Holding my breath for a moment until I’ll slowly release the air in a controlled exhale. 

My focus is purely on my breath as I’ll attempt to silence my mammalian brain functions. With each passing breathing cycle, the thoughts coming in feel diluted and powerless. With each controlled exhale the negative thoughts are released from my thought path.

Lying there, with focused meditative breath, I’d regain control of my thoughts. I used to just continue to lie there, hoping I’d fall back asleep. Wishing the circumstances of my thoughts and inability to make a move would miraculously fade away.

Get up and Take Action

For the past few months, I no longer just lie there and take the artillery fire of my thoughts. Jumping up out of bed, I’ll take action as I begin my daily routine. It may be journaling or writing an article. Followed by exercise, meditation, and breakfast while listening to an audiobook. 

I’ve retrained myself to take action during this natural period of cortisol rush. My creativity has increased as I complete tasks and get stuff done. I’m hardly anxious and my thought process is more defined and focused. 

Nothing Prepares You for Leadership in a Disaster

 How You Do One Thing Is How You Do Everything

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When Mother Nature strikes her blows can be catastrophic. What was once a sleepy arts community becomes a disaster zone. Floodwaters rising to historic proportions as five-foot raging water ripped through homes and businesses. Objects becoming buoyant as mud waters rushed into structures destroying everything with its wake.

As you arrive at the scene best described as your worst nightmare, something internally clicks. Your responsiveness and assertive direction kicking in. The body and mind operating on autopilot. Emotional shock and awe are suppressed as you rise to the occasion and lead.

A meditative calming overrides your consternation. Your thoughts and actions become focused. Stepping into the driver’s seat you embrace the challenge and become a leader.

Leaders lead, followers follow and some people are over-wrought with anxiety and fear. Frozen within this moment. Helpless and panicked. 

Observance of the wreckage it appears overwhelmingly impossible the normalcy of life can continue. Worldly possessions and property waterlogged and filthy. 

Victims of the disaster look tattered, beaten, and defeated. Looking to you, to anyone to assist. To guide. To help. Often the victims are leaders that at this moment can’t lead.

Leaders assembly a calvary of compassionate followers. Willing to help in any way humanly possible. Grabbing shovels and brooms, distributing water and food. Providing shoulders for the misfortunate victims to cry. 

Selfless able bodies arrive, called to action by sympathy and desire to help. Ready, willing, and able to help restore civility. Awaiting orders so that they assist.

A police chief arrives calming the situation and directing people to safety. Trucks full of supplies arrive, dispatched by leaders that determined they were needed. Chaos becomes order as natural-born leaders quickly make decisions. 

Leaders aren’t born, they are created. Leaders will lead when nobody else can. Leaders lead and leaders concede when another leader assigns direction.

Scanning the situation I counted not one leader, but hundreds. A football coach marching his team of strong able body players into the toughest game. The game of life. These boys are being crafted to become future leaders, carrying heavy saturated furniture from people’s homes into the streets. Shoveling mud and sludge.

 Picking up the phone I called every leader I could think of. People I knew that naturally can assemble a team of followers that would assist in reversing the disaster. Those leaders would yield to my direction, hang up the phone and proceed to lead. Assembling and directing. 

Leaders are not born, they are created. Leaders lead and leaders concede. Leaders provide comfort and compassion. Leaders make tough decisions and selflessly right the wrongs. It’s how you live your life and what you do every day that will make you a great disaster leader.

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, We did it ourselves.” Lao Tzu

I’m Naked and Unafraid

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We have heard it all before. What defines you is what’s on the inside. Strip back the layers. Remove the barriers that we hide behind. The clothing labels we feel determines our identity.

Visualize yourself in a large room. Begin to remove an article of clothing. As you remove each layer of clothing, take a step forward. Once completely naked turn sideways and visualize yourself in front of a large mirror. What do you see?

What you should be seeing is the real you. How do you look? You see a naked self. Now look deeper. If what you see feels ugly, visualize an oyster shell, crusty and imperfect. Open the shell and push the fleshy meat aside and observe a shiny pearl. A treasure buried deep inside, protected by the hardened shell. 

Keep looking, what do you see? This is the real you. Nothing to hide behind, our naked body only the vessel that carries the treasure of our mind and soul.

What is your posture as you stand naked in front of the mirror? Are you hunched over? Hands covering areas of your body you don’t like exposing? Are you afraid of what you see? Look beyond those things. It’s what is on the inside that defines you? 

Visualize the room again, only this time the room is full of people. Lined up row after row, naked and exposed. Who do you feel? The rank and file are now stripped of their superficial hierarchy. Are you afraid? 

My original immediate honest answer would have been yes. I would have looked around the room to access everyone else. I’d make determinations based upon everyone’s nakedness and provide a comparison. I would have been naked and afraid.

But that was the old me. The new me works on what is inside. I read and write daily. My diet has improved and I exercise religiously. Not only my body but my mind. 

I’m keeping a journal of each day’s incremental improvements. Each day I strive for a one percent improvement. One percent stronger, one percent more confident, one percent happier. It’s these daily micro improvements that cumulatively improved my inner self.

And it’s these internal improvements that transfer outward. Not only to my physical outer self but to those around me. I radiate outward positivity, empathy, and compassion. I’ve nothing to fear.

With each passing day, I improve. My thoughts remain positive. I’m focused and confident. As I stand nakedly before you, I’m unafraid

What You Do Everyday Determines Who You Are

Daily Action Will Define You 

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If you are reading this, you’re probably a reader. Published an article on Medium, you’re actually a writer. Perform these activities daily and there won’t be a question. 

What we do as part of our daily routine defines who we are. It’s the actions that create our gains. 

Develop a Daily Routine

Something internally awakens me daily. It isn’t an alarm clock as I haven’t used one in years. For the longest time, I believed it was anxiety, but thru further analysis, I’ve determined its creative drive. 

My mind would race with ideas and plans to take action. Tasks I would perform or answers to outstanding issues. Frustration would build because I would just be lying there, nothing getting done. Pain without the gain.

So what did I do about it? I got up out of bed and took action. My eyes are hardly open as I turn on the computer and begin to write. The ideas flow like a raging river. Words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs. Concepts become stories. I’m a writer.

I’ll roll out the yoga mat and practice my daily yoga routine. Stretching and breathing my practice is impactful yet practical. I’d threatened myself for years I’d exercise as I overpaid for a gym service I never used. Now all I need is a mat and a clear space on any floor. A daily routine I can easily perform. I’m a yogi.

As I finish my yoga, already seated on the mat, I’ll begin a guided meditation. Thoughts and fears arrive in my mind. Concentrating on my breath I’ll inhale my fears and with a calm exhale let the fear float away. Focusing on the here and the now. I am enlightened.

Opening my eyes I notice my surroundings and my emotions. Refreshed and empowered, I’ll put on headphones and listen to an audiobook while making coffee and breakfast. I’m a reader.

Hopping into the shower, I’ll collect my thoughts. I’ve used my mind and body to create, take action and absorb. Now is the time to process. The water purifies my thoughts as I cleanse my mind. Building the thoughts in my mind I’ll theorize and make determinations. Asking myself questions and providing the answers. It’s this moment, absent from life’s distractions that I’ll think. I am a philosopher.

Ask Yourself Why

Why did I awaken? Because it was time to take action

Why did I write? Because I’m a writer with something to share.

Why did I practice yoga? Because I’m a yogi and must align my body with my mind. 

Why do I meditate? Because I’m enlightened and can align my fears and anxiety. 

Why do I read? Because I’m a reader, an autodidact with a quest for knowledge.

Why do I think and theorize? Because I’m a philosopher with a passion to comprehend.

Why I’m Not Special

I’m not special because everything I do is easy and impactful. I’ve made the determination this is who I am and who I want to be. Anyone can pick their daily routine that will determine who they are. It’s easy and timeless. 

I’m actually a filmmaker and use my daily routine to sharpen my tools. My biggest assets, my mind, and my body.

Reimagining the Sound of the Future Electric World

The perfect world is a world quieted of human made cacophony.

Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

The electric pulsations of my Apple watch alarm awaken me from a night’s sleep. Pushing the Jamocha app’s brew button generates a faint whir of the frictionless grinder quietly dropping fines into the automated tamper. Moments later the half-round door slowly opens exposing a perfectly frothed cafe-latte.

Grabbing a pair of charged wireless headphones I turn on the morning news briefs and quickly head out the door. Reserving a RoboTaxi on my phone I head downstairs in the gearless elevator. The air whooshing past each floor, the suction released as the cab slows to a stop. Stepping out from the open doors, I walk briskly outside to the waiting RoboTaxi. 

My phones geotag opens the door and I slide into cushiony seats. Waving my cellphone in front of the autopilot sensor brings the navigational touchscreen to life. Imprinting my fingerprint into the scanner opens my account along with my favorite trips. Pressing Mohonk in the Catskills, the door automatically shuts as the taxi seamlessly merges into city traffic.

Silently the taxi reaches cruising speed, the smoothness of the glass induction roadway makes the two-hour ride soothing. Reclining back in the sleeper seats, random play, Brian Eno’s Eternal Return.

Electrical impulses awaken me from my meditative slumber. Fifteen minutes until arrival. A forest of pin oaks and pitch pines line the sides of the curvy, craggy roadway. Opening the moonroof, birdsong and a gentle wind fills the taxi’s cabin. 

Driving past the stone-arched gatehouse signifies my arrival. The tire noise modified as the roadway transitions into a pulverized glass roadway. A change in inertia indicates my arrival. Exiting the taxi, I pay the cab fare. Silently the car pulls away, the slight compaction of the crushed pavement ground by the car’s weight. 

I walk into the lobby and index finger the concierge kiosk. 

Room confirmed, paid with crypto. Evening entertainment offered the classic film Wall-e. Eight crypto for the silent cinema, or shall I pay the Ambient Noise Surcharge and listen through the theater’s speaker? A quieter planet in which silence is protected and preserved.

The Dystopian of Plague and Truth

Fragility within the foundation of trust vs reality

Photo by Michael Competielle

Weightlessly I’m freefalling, hardly able to identify my surrounding, its walls ablur. My hands reaching the farthest extremity hoping to grab a stronghold to stop the fall. Heart racing, I open my eyes to recognize I’m lying in my bed. The freefall, my fears from the chillingly stark reality of this moment.

Slowly I open my blinds and peek outside. Early morning, fall, in middle-class America. The invisible haze of loathsomeness, as the plague hangs low, a fog of war. Every human, we suspect, a carrier of the pathogen. 

Firmly I verify the adhesion of the duct tape on the window, attempting an airtight seal. Do I have enough houseplants to create the required oxygen to ensure my survival? My hoard of food and paper goods rapidly decreasing. According to my charted course, I’ll likely die of starvation if the brown box man stops coming.

My avoidance of electronics, my isolation from the outside world prove difficult as I’m required to login as I work from home, do my shopping, and interact socially. The propaganda of the fake news, lies that become fact as our corrupted media redacts the truth.

Manipulated fragments of reality, strategically assembled into dissolvable morsels of newspeak. Pestering disinformation shared by our colleagues, family and friends. Abridged versions of agitprop, socially designed to instill fear and anxiety.

Orwellian conceptualizations, coming sharply into focus. We are the proles, while the machines, and the elite feverishly write our future.

Our totalitarian dictator of a leader refuses to step down. Claims of victory while questions the moral fiber of the democracy, the system he’s chosen to destroy. 

Separating our nation from the outside world, ignoring human rights and a deplorable reaction to the plague. There can’t be opposition, because he says so. The stoolpigeon and patsy for the oligarch, the indoctrination of inequality. It’s Us versus Them.

The dogs, asleep on the floor, my protectors, who alert me once the brown boxes arrive. The smaller boxes they’ll generally ignore. It’s those large brown boxes they can smell, knowing the contents. A bark as if to say, open it up. I must quarantine the package, to avoid contamination from the virus.

Opening the cabinets, I look for my meal. Canned Okra. What was I thinking? Time to order more brown boxes.

Masked zombies join in packs. Discussing trends and statistics from capitalist endeavors. While others wait patiently, locked in their homes, awaiting the brown boxes. 

Medicines arrive that dull the pain, continuing to fuel the addiction. The foundation of what we had built, slowly diminishing, like a dissonant pipe organ chord in a Bach Fugue. Our choices and beliefs shrinking away. As the plague and false truths coagulate into a syrupy tar. A poisonous bitter pill we must swallow. Our fate solidified, we must only question what will kill us first.

My Reading List for Saving our Civilization

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

 Rachel Carson
Photo by Michael Competielle

“Civilization is much more than the survival of the fittest and the unrelenting culling of the weakest members. Civilized people share a value system that extends far beyond doing whatever it takes to survive. Mere barbarians might be devoted to a life of exploitation. In contrast, civilized people value nature and care for the most vulnerable members of their kind.”

 Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

2020 has been one hell of a year with the Coronavirus highjacking the World news headlines. It seems like a millennia ago I was tipping back a glass of bubbly thinking of new ways to expand upon my creativity and intellectual explorations. Reading more books to learn new talents topped the 2020 wishlist.

2019 had concluded with my starting to read A Year with Swollen Appendices by the polymath revolutionary Brian Eno. I’d joined The Long Now as member #10,800 to expand my knowledge of long term thinking while maximizing each precious moment.

It was in studying Eno I’d recognized his pattern of protection of time by practicing aggressive time management. The importance of protecting each precious moment and recognizing how little time we have. How he conceptualized the idea that we shouldn’t perform any tasks that didn’t provide the ability to simultaneously listen to an audiobook. How we should use every moment to our maximum advantage and automate practices to increase productivity.

Learning from brilliant thinkers such as Eno, Stewart Brand, and Malcolm Gladwell has reinforced the power of explorative thinking while mastering my own universe. Enhancing my brain plasticity by increasing the saturation of intellectual content has proven to change my mood and ability for conceptual retention.

Processing Qualitative Content

Heading back from spending the Holiday in Florida I listened to the audiobook version of The Spirit Level by Kate Pickett during my drive home. The book focuses on the analysis of inequality in unequal societies through the widening divide between the wealthy and the poor. How successful societies require greater economic equality and not greater wealth. Based on over thirty years of research the book lays out examples of gross inequality and conceptualizes ways to achieve equality.

As we are currently fighting a World Pandemic, the inequality has never been more apparent than during these struggling times. The inability of many demographics to work from home, social distance, have access to quality healthcare, and monetarily survival is apparent. Concepts of Universal Basic Income and Universal Healthcare should take precedent over opening beaches or sporting events.

I deep-sixed a shitty book The United States of Socialism written by pro-Trump supporter Dinesh D’Souza. The book wrongfully displays Social Democracies as Socialist or Communist societies. It does help to mention that the D’Souza was pardoned by Trump and therefore has a debt to pay. I didn’t finish this book nor am I recommending it.

Overcompensated professional athletes are prioritizing playing games with cardboard cutout fans while jeopardizing essential medical, emergency, and transportation workers. It’s sophomorically wreckless, childish behavior while lacking empathy or emotional intelligence. Professional sports should suck it up, and sit this one out. Collect some unemployment checks or small Federal stipend and call it a day.

As America goes deeper into the Pandemic the inequality becomes deeply apparent. According to a recent study by the Washington Center for Economic Growth these 6 principles of vulnerability in pandemic inequality. must be examined.

  • Too many people lack the basic protections that would have slowed the spread of the virus.
  • Workers lack the power to share in the gains of the economic expansion that would have given them protections and security.
  • Decades of stagnant wages and meager workplace benefits leave many families without enough savings to weather the coronavirus recession.
  • Policymakers starve public goods of investments that would have enabled better protections from the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession.
  • States and localities don’t have the resources to deal with a pandemic or a recession.
  • Business concentration across markets increases consumer and small business vulnerabilities just when those threats are most dire.

The Spirit Level brought to the forefront a clear understanding of why inequality happens and the difficulties of a healthy survival if the struggles aren’t addressed. The irony is within a few short months of reading this book, the failures of our society would become blatantly evidenced during this trying time begs to question, Where do we go from here?

Corona and the Quietus

Pre-Corona my suburban neighborhood was noisy. Highway and air traffic polluted the air with a consistent noise-floor. I’d attempted some early spring field recordings hoping to capture cheerful birdsong only to listen to highway rumble. One evening I stepped outside to an eerie sound…the sound of silence. Gone was the road noise and grounded were the planes. For the first time in my life, I noticed the silence.

The idea of descriptive nature writing fascinated me to the point I read The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf. This book studies the polymath Alexander von Humbolt. He explored nature, botany, geology, geography, and science. It was Humbolt’s explorations and writings that had inspired Darwin, Thoreau, and Thomas Jefferson.

Having traveled from Europe to South, Central, North America, and Russia, Humbolt was the first person to describe human-induced climate change. His first writings on the observation were in 1800. Agriculture and industrialization was the cause of climate change. Unfortunately few listened.

The completion of The Invention of Nature filled my reading list with Darwin’s Origin of Species (a text I must need and not listen too), Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Our understanding of nature and it’s precious balance has come alive in these books. The silencing from the pandemic lockdown has globally impacted even the most casual observant. Noise and noise pollution from excessive traffic and industry temporarily gave us peace and quiet.

Patterning Your Life To Maximize Productivity

Charles Darwin’s Day to Day Pattern

Prioritizing a process toward structure is essential if you want to excel at learning. As I continued my quest for knowledge and comprehension as my focus shifted to expansive thinkers. Range by David Epstein is a book that explores the need for knowledge in a wide range of subjects and the ability to make new and unique connections. The book debunks the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour theory by an exploration into vast thinking and developing a wide range of topics.

Polymath is a term often used to describe broad depth thinkers. A copy of The Polymath by Wacas Ahmed helped to solidify my interests in wide-ranging knowledge, autodidacts, and boredom of specialists. Every day I jam in hours of audiobooks, web-based text, and books to expand my thinking and depth of knowledge.

Thinking Long Term

I abandoned The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle in favor of thinking in the long term. Go Long by Dennis Carey filled the void from now to then by examining examples of long term strategists. Companies such as Amazon and Apple were examined while short term bottom-line thinking is exposed.

Ecological Intelligence by  Daniel Goleman digs even deeper into the long term effects that products have on our economy and environment. Studying the life cycle of products from the cradle to the grave and understanding the impacts from raw material acquisition to biodegradability or recyclability will push manufactures and markets to explore their impacts and work collectively to make environmental change a policy.

Wearing Bluetooth headphones while making breakfast and doing dishes I can block out external distractions. Ignoring social media accounts, the morning news, and unsubscribing to invasion emails has impacted me emotionally. I feel freedom and less triggered.

Noise by Joseph McCormack examines how we are emotionally and mentally hijacked by marketing and electronic gadgets. The book reads fast and fluently through the amount of severe noise we daily must wade through. It was the exposure to the knowledge of how were are being mentally manipulated that has rejuvenated my levels of self learning.

Black Lives Matter

It was during the Pandemic, while many people were home glued to the noise of their televisions and smartphones that our nation’s inequality and racism was again exposed. Better yet it was during this moment it was recognized. As the World is struggling to survive, America has again proven our racial divide.

I’m not going to pretend for even one second that I understand racial prejudice, or can I even use what little knowledge I possess to teach. What I’ve realized is I need to learn more.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olua stings like a swarm of bees. The belief that racial inequality and prodigious was an issue swept under the carpet of the 13th amendment is untrue and unjust. With the fact that 1 out of every 3 African American males will be incarcerated in their lifetime is a horrific statistic. The fact that African Americans currently make 30% less than the average Caucasian worker and this inequality is widening.

Brian Eno recommended Roll Jordan Roll by Eugene Genovese in his list Reading for an Apocalypse. James “Jimbo” Mathus recommends The American Slave Coast by Ned Sublette. Both of which are still in my queue.

I’m silenced by my need to continue to learn more.

Michael Competielle

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’m reading George Orwell’s 1984, we are living it, might as well have the blueprint. Fake news and unvetted stories can keep piling up. I’m not partaking. We must learn from these moments and make a change.

As one of our modern-day brilliant minds, Stewart Brand has helped to expand knowledge and futuristic thinking. From his Whole Earth Catalog to How Buildings Learn, Stewart’s expansion thinking is inspirational. From his Ted Talks to his The Long Now presentations, I’m unaware of any other writer who has changed my mind and thinking more than him.

Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand is a book that can and will change the World. From explorations in population expansion and contraction, alternative energy, nuclear power, and GMOs (which he refers to as Genetic Engineering) this one man could potentially save our planet.

From requesting that NASA in the 1970’s release a photograph of the Whole Earth taken from space, to the installation of a 10,000-year clock Stewart Brand has the potential to save the Whole Earth from its largest predator, humans.

Learning How to Write

When I have the time, which is hardly the case I try to work on my writing skills. I’m reading The Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson for a novel I’m currently writing, The Peregrine by J.A.Baker to learn to be more descriptive and Wired for Story by Lisa Cron so I can use neuroscience to get you to read past the title.

If you read this far, which is doubtful, you’ll realize I’m trying not only to learn but to also articulate my thoughts into readable text. Currently, my Yoast Seo AI states this “article is shit and that you suck”. Perfect words to hear because the World is in shitty shape and we all need to learn.

An Episodic Approach to Fulfillment

They say it is the first step that costs the effort. I do not find it so. I am sure I could write unlimited ‘first chapters’. I have indeed written many.

J.R.R. Tolkien
Photo by Michael Competielle

Every Day’s a New Day

Today I’m going to concentrate on writing the entire outline and finish a draft of the novel I’ll call My Life. I’m going to determine every possible outcome and decision now… today and nothing will change those decisions and I’ll never deviate from the plan. This is my life, from being to end, done complete and uneditable.

Unrealistic and impossible you say. Preposterous!!! Okay fine, you are correct. So why do we try to do it? What I’m realizing is that I have an ever-changing series of ideas and ideals. Places I’d love to see, things I’d love to do and connections I’d love to make. A simplified outline I’ve written with a huge pencil with a gigantic eraser.

Daily my interests change as I remold and remodel myself. New ideas become new adventures and bad investments are thrown to the wayside.

We never really change. The person we were 20 years ago is who we still are today. Our needs and desires change as do our connections, but the actual fabric from which we were created has been woven starting at a very young age. What we can change is our need to evaluate our shortcomings and determine the best path to overcome the obstacles.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie

What Have You Actually Done

Yesterday I met up with a friend I hadn’t had the opportunity to physically see for over 6 months. A creative person who’s work I truly admire and whose free time I cherish. Running through my memory bank of our last encounter followed by an assessment of my 6-month endeavors, I felt it was imperative we could discuss accomplishments and not ideas or ideals.

How ironic it was to find out this friend was worried that they hadn’t accomplished enough to actually keep me engaged. We discussed the idea of prioritizing time and how we both have eliminated distractions such as posting or reading Facebook or getting bogged down by junk emails.

I admitted a harrowing fact about how I like to get rid of junk mail and junk magazines and so, therefore, I’d prioritize reading the junk so I could delete it while saving the good stuff for a later date, sometimes months or years later. I wasted time oversaturating my brain with the trash while off placing meaningful information, spontaneity, and inspiration for a later date. Worse yet sometimes those magic moments never returned.

Ironically when I compiled the list of accomplishments I found out that I had actually completed a monumental amount of work since our last meeting. As we discussed how I was able to be so successful in completing tasks we realized it was purely from starting each day fresh. A new chapter in the continuum of the proverbial never-ending saga of life.

I’d recognized the need to prioritize reading the important information and filling my mind with the topics I find interesting or inspiring. It’s within those moments of inspiration and interest we need to act. We need to write or paint or photograph. We can’t hold back those moments waiting for another perfect moment. The moment is immediate and imperative. It is now!!!

Each new chapter we write is an episodic approach to creating the fulfillment we need in our lives. Positive thoughts and clarity of steps to ultimately help us obtain our goals of financial freedom or developing a passive income. Designs to help us create the connectivity to the types of people and scenarios we want in our lives.

“I’ve never been comfortable with the goals because we never come close to the goals.”

Larry Harvey

Yesterday Is Gone So Stop Looking Back

We learn from our experiences, however, we learn more by being experimental. Trying out new ideas helps to expand our level of creativity and experiences. Trying new foods or music, visiting new places, or taking a different route to ultimately get to the same place makes the experience different. Try a new path and embrace the outcome.

Run or leap, don’t contemplate. Make new connections and meet new friends. Expand don’t contract. Read new materials, visit new places, explore and immerse yourself into each new chapter. Write a new episode and make a change. Find inspiration, build, and create. Share your experiences and fashion a new fabric in which you will wear and make it your own. Want, try, and do. Stop waiting for the perfect moment for the moment is now. Take risks and make your move. Today is the new episode in The Book of You.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Steve Jobs

Using Data Science to Predict the Future and Save the Planet

As data scientists, our job is to extract signal from noise.

Daniel Tunkelang
Photo by Michael Competielle

The Big Data Age

We are presently embedded in the fabric of the historical time period presently known as the Information Age and more importantly the Big Data Age. Data and digital storage have changed the way in which we share knowledge and information. It also has changed the vessel in which we consume content. A wealth of valuable knowledge is literally a few keystrokes away.

Technological trends have created a booming industry of “smart” connected devices known as the “Internet of Things”. These devices were previously “dumb” devices such as your toothbrush, watch, or refrigerator. This new technology is booming as connectivity is being installed by manufacturers in most business segments. According to Intel 55% of all data will be generated by IOT by 2025.

Recently I purchased a new GE window air conditioner. As my household has reduced inhabitants over the past few years and the central air conditioning system is gracefully aging, I’m looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint. The weight of this new window unit isn’t dissimilar to the older models I remember in my apartment living days. Its the integration of IOT wifi connection that took me by surprise.

Why does a simple air conditioning unit need Wi-Fi connectivity? It actually doesn’t. As I pondered the invasiveness of having “big brother” monitor my air conditioning consumption I decided to connect anyway.

GE provides an app SmartHQ that allows you to connect your device to the outside world. The app monitors outside temperature, fan speed, targeted temperature, filter status, and allows an option for economy mode. You can remotely monitor your indoor temperature and program times until will cycle on and off.

Why Share the Data?

Okay, so data sharing and a connected world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we are becoming more disconnected as we add more connected devices and streams of data. I’ve written about it and work to spend some of my time disconnected. So what lies on the other edge of the sword? The future of our planet.

So you may have stopped reading by this point however if you have hung on for the ride I’m going to clarify it all for you. We are not only currently struggling to deal with Global Warming and a Deadly Pandemic, but we are also dealing with Global Economies and potential economic collapse.

So why exactly does Data Science matter?

Ask someone how they feel? Most of the time people feel “fine” or “okay” or tired. Who in the world knows you better than Google? And more importantly Google Trends? Oh, so that’s where all of my data is stored? Sort of. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 92% of internet searches go thru Google.

The power of instantaneous Global Data can and will be used by scientists, marketers, manufactures, and governments to see current trends. An outbreak in COVID cases? Google probably knows first. According to this week’s Google Trends for the United States, the effects of COVID seem to be trending.

We are ultimately seeing trends in hardship cases for illness, economic struggles, civil issues, environmental concerns by compiling and analysis of the data. By willingly volunteering the data we allow Data Scientists the opportunity to share the information that can ultimately prepare us to forecast the future and make minor adjustments to fend off outbreaks and struggle.

Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

 Aaron Levenstein, business professor at Baruch College.