Random Thoughts: The blog and my main goal

On this blog, I write about a number of different topics, and I don’t know if I’ll ever reduce the number of topics to the point where I’m focusing on one common theme.  I guess some people would consider it to be a little scattered. I’d be lying if I didn’t think I should probably tighten up the structure.  On the other hand, I sit down every morning and try to think about my life. I write about what I’m thinking about every day.

The main point of this blog is about trying to become a better writer. The real power of writing out my thoughts every day comes from the ideas the process gives me.  Every time I sit down to write I’m always surprised at what I get out of the process.  Nearly every time I think of a new idea, another blog post or speech, a way to look at an issue in a different way, or solution to my probelm.

Recently, I started writing out all my goals, and wants, in a notebook I’ll use for daily goal reading.  I’ve been thinking about my main definite purpose for the past few weeks.  While I was writing out all my goals, I figured out a new way to write out this goal that I believe encompasses everything I hope to achieve in the next few months.

I want to become the type of person who can be accepted into Seth Godin’s altMBA program and not think twice about paying the $3,000 tuition.

That’s my main goal for the following year.  I want become the type of person who would be accepted into that type of program.  It also means I need to become the person who’s making enough money to cover all of life’s expenses, while still having $3,000 left over to pay the tuition for the program and not feel like I’m sacrificing anything for my family.


Expected vs Unexpected

Yesterday, I was rereading an old Seth Godin blog post I have hanging on my cubicle wall titled, ‘Blah, blah, blah.’ In the post Seth talks about how all writing and speaking can be separated into two types of groups: The expected and The unexpected.

The expected is the type of writing and speaking we’ll never remember.  They’re words anyone could write or presentations filled with bullet points and text.  Do you ever remember a presentation with bullet points?

The unexpected is the opposite.  It’s never been done before or risky or opens you up to be vulnerable.  This type of writing makes you nervous to publish. This type of presentation doesn’t include bullet points, paragraphs of text, or your company’s PowerPoint template. You’ll find yourself face down in the arena while the crowd figures out what you just accomplished.

What would you rather do?  Never be remembered, or even noticed, because you never tested your limits, or would you be willing face the unknown to find out if what you have to write, or say, moves us.

Seth ends this post with a tip that is the first step in moving from one to the other: “Cross out every sentence that could have been written by someone else, every box check, every predictable reference. Now, insert yourself. Your truth and your version of what happens next.”

This is my blog and speech writing goal going forward.  It probably means I can’t write posts like this one, because it was already written by Seth Godin.  I need to write my story.

My Five Favorite New Words of the Week

My Five Favorite New Words of the Week

Each week, Monday through Friday, I’ve been trying to learn five new words a day.  Here are my five favorite new words from the previous week. All of the below words and definitions come from Seth Godin’s Million-Dollar Words.

deus ex machina: Originally in classical Greek drama, the god that came down to earth to solve a problem that couldn’t be solved by any logical turn of events.  It now refers to any chance event that intervenes and prevents a disaster from occurring.  Sort of like a miracle, but not as good. Pronounced DAY-ous EX MA-keen-ah.

dissimulate: A little more subtle than outright lying, it means to pretend that something is other than it is.  If the attorney general asks, “Did your company dummp this toxic waste?” the lying CEO would say, “No.” The dissimulating CEO would say, “What waste?”

dingbat: Though Archie Bunker used this word as a form of playful insult, the word really means a piece of ornamental border, such as trim of contrasting wallpaper or a decorative piece of type. Calling someone a dingbat is tantamount to calling them a bit of decoration.

dilettante: A person with a superficial interest in art or any branch of knowledge; a dabbler. A dilettante is a person who doesn’t hold a job and spends the days browsing through museums, taking art classes, renting old movies and cooking meals with exotic ingredients. Say djll-eh-TAHNT.

devil’s tattoo: A bit obscure, but peotic, way of describing a nervous hand or foot tapping. Drumming your fingers while waiting for an important phone call is a way of making the devil’s tattoo.  Sometimes shortened to just “tattoo.”

Today’s Five New Words

A few months ago, I took Seth Godin’s advice and committed to learning five new words a day. I’ve been pretty consistent with this goal.  Monday through Friday, I take the next five words from Seth’s, “Million Dollar Words,” PDF, write them on note cards, and then practice memorizing them a few times a day.  Going forward, I’m going to starting publishing a weekly post with my five favorite new words of the week.

Here are the five new words I’m learning today:

deus ex machina: Originally in Classical Greek drama, the god that came down to earth to solve a problem that couldn’t be solved by any logical turn of events. It now refers to any chance event that intervenes and prevents a disaster from occurring. Sort of like a miracle, but not as good. Pronounced DAY-ous EX MA-keen-ah

devil’s tattoo: A bit obscure, but poetic, way of describing a nervous hand or foot tapping. Drumming your fingers while waiting for an important phone call is a way of making the devil’s tattoo.  Sometimes shortened to just “tattoo.”

diacritical: A somewhat scientific way of saying, “distinctive.” One of the diacritical differences between a bird and an octopus is that a bird has two legs and an octopus has eight arms. It’s pronounced dye-a-KRIT-i-kle.

diaphanous: Usually used to describe fabric, the word means sheer, delicate and flowing.  Some sexy nightgowns are diaphanous, as are angel’s wings and nylon curtains. Pronounced d/e-AFF-ah-nuss.

diatribe: A bitter criticism or denunciation; an abusive dispute. Say DIE-uh-trybe.

Speech of the Week: Who Are You?

Speech of the Week: Who Are You?

This week I’ll be giving a speech based on the, Who Are You? worksheet from Seth Godin’s Freelancer course on Udemy.  The worksheet asks a few questions about what you want to do, what you want to change, how much you’re willing to risk, how much work you’re willing to do, is the risk worth it, and has anyone with similar resources done it before.

I’d like to try to fit this speech into one of my toastmasters projects. For now, I want to create a five to seven minute speech on this topic.  I’m planning to complete a rough draft tomorrow with the goal of recording it on Saturday.


Pick Four: End of the Year

Too many goals, too little time.  If I could choose only four what would they be? These are aside from my daily goals that I wrote about yesterday.

1) Complete an hour of code.

Completing an hour of code doesn’t mean I only have to complete an hour on Free Code Camp, where I’m learning Full Stack JavaScript.  Why can’t I alternate between data science and full stack programming?

My version of completing an hour of code a day can include coding, or reading/learning about programming, technology, or data science.

2) Build my personal brand.

This can be the same as building a trail, which I also like to talk about on this blog.  This can include a lot of things but I really want to create projects, complete goals, and connect with as many people as possible so I no longer have to send out another resume.

3) Become debt free.

The goal is to create a plan to become debt free, implement, and stick with it.

4) Complete a speech every week until the end of the year.

I’ll see how the end of the year goes and then I’ll reevaluate this goal. One of my main goals for 2016 is to speak at other venues than my local Toastmasters clubs like a Tedx event.

What goals are you planning to complete for the end of the year or the start of 2016?

Must Love Data & Code: MapReduce, jQuery, JavaScript, and Object Oriented & Functional Programming

Last week, I focused on getting back into Free Code Camp where I completed the first four sections that mainly dealt with HTLM5 & CSS and Responsive Design with Bootstrap.  This week my goal is to complete jQuery, Basic JavaScript, and Object Oriented & Functional Programming. My main overall goal is to complete one hour of code a day.  Then the following week I can start the 50 hours of Basic Algorithm Scripting. I think that’s really where this challenge begins and where most people quite.

It’s one thing spending an hour or two playing with HTML, Bootstrap, or JavaScript. It’s another thing spend 50 hours on Algorithm Scripting or 100 hours on Basic Front-End Development Projects. After this week I’ll have completed most of the easy stuff.  Now the work begins, as Seth Godin likes to talk about when referring to your goals.  I guess this could be referred to as the “Dip.”  It’s the point when you decide to stick or quite.  I’m excited to get through this easy week and start putting in the work to learn the full-stack.

Also this week, I’m going to get back into the University of Washington’s Coursera course about the introduction to Data Science.  I left off on week 3, Map Reduce, because I was refocusing on Free Code Camp.  I’m not going to try to overload myself so I’m going to start lengthening the courses weekly schedule into two weeks. I’m planning to complete the course videos and assignment by November 23.  Then I’ll write about the results here.