Really? This again?

I had a couple of different post ideas I was juggling and if I had stuck to one or the other I might have gotten either one in this month. It didn’t help that I got distracted after completing a key piece of one of those posts earlier tonight, or that the other one is that with the show ending this weekend I’m thinking of getting back to Steven Universe (again) but I’m kind of dreading it for a multitude of reasons. You should definitely expect either or both over the next week, but the whole freakout over coronavirus is starting to dash my hopes for my more lofty goals for the year.

For the record, the poll I launched last year seems to be fairly evenly split but “if you feel the need to” has the current plurality of votes, so I’m going to try to maintain my post-a-month record for the time being.

Introducing Wick’s Weighted Poll Averages

The nerds have taken over the political space over the last decade-plus as the tools that started to revolutionize sports over the previous decade have been brought to bear on politics with wild success. Every major election sees a mind-numbing amount of numerical and mathematical analysis focused on it, and poll averages, forecasts, and other numerical analysis tools abound. For many, poring over polls has become as much if not more of a pastime than following what the candidates themselves are doing.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no one single “poll average”, and indeed there seem to be as many different poll averages as there are outlets collating the polls. The two most prominent, widely cited poll averages are the ones from RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight, and as the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has progressed I find that neither of them quite fit what I want from them. RealClearPolitics publishes a straight average of whatever polls they record and deem worthy, usually from the most prominent outlets, over whatever period they choose to average them over. The only quality control, if any, is in what polls are included; among the polls included, there is no attempt to control for sample size, methodology, or overall quality, and polls simply age out of the average once they get too old (however “too old” is defined) or the next poll from that pollster comes along.

FiveThirtyEight, on the other hand, weights its poll average based on those factors, but the details of their methodology aren’t public, and it also includes their own model’s assumptions about how the race should develop, meaning in the days immediately after a contest the “average” tries to predict how much of a “bump” candidates will get based on their performance, and states with little recent polling will have their “average” extrapolated from larger national trends. Such extrapolations don’t always incorporate mitigating factors or common sense; for example, the current FiveThirtyEight “average” of South Carolina has Mike Bloomberg in fourth place at 9.5%, despite him not actually being on the ballot there. The copious polling conducted in South Carolina that doesn’t include Bloomberg is merely interpreted as failing to catch whatever bump Bloomberg might have received. The result is so complex with so many mitigating factors that it’s hard to accurately call it a “poll average” at all; it’s more an attempt to capture the state of the race based on local and national trends and past history, and FiveThirtyEight themselves readily admit that it’s not really intended to be much more than the backbone of their election forecasts. It’s useful in its own way, but not really the best way of capturing what the polls are actually saying right now like what RealClearPolitics and most other media outlets try to do. But is there a middle ground between a straight average of the topline numbers and FiveThirtyEight’s complex model?

Read moreIntroducing Wick’s Weighted Poll Averages

A VERY belated late New Year’s Eve blog-day.

As this post goes up, it has been nine days since the normal birth date of Da Blog on the 22nd. For many if not most of you, it’s 2020 already. This on the heels of last year’s blog-day post coming a few days late on Christmas Eve. Missing the mark by well over a week is breaching new frontiers even by my standards.

In a way, this is appropriate for what a wasted year this has been for me and for Da Blog. I said at the time that the 36 posts I made in 2017 was a record low unlikely to be broken, but this being the 27th post since the last blog-day post is a record that might not be possible to break without giving up on the Flex Schedule Watch or having a post every month (the latter of which is quite possible – Da Blog Poll is still open!), considering there was arguably a grand total of two months prior to the start of football season in September where I made any posts other than posts that simply serve the purpose of having a post every month.

In the case of this post, I’ve been in Seattle for the last ten days or so and have been content to spend my time relaxing and picking up work on one of my many personal projects that means nothing (well, almost nothing) to anyone other than me, and even the relatively low levels of engagement required to write the blog-day post has proven too daunting for me to try and tackle. For the year, a lot of my attention has been gobbled up by mobile games and various other things, as well as dealing with wildly off-track sleep schedules. Various projects I’ve been meaning to get to have continued to be put on the back burner; I have every intention to get to them in 2020, but then I say that every year. Certainly I want to get back to the state of our broken politics before the end of the impeachment trial, certainly before the election gets too much into high gear, and I’d like to get back to Steven Universe before it leaves Hulu for HBO Max, if that’s still possible. I’d also like, if not need, to engage in projects and programs that could actually make money for me on a regular basis. But of course, I said many of the same things in last year’s blog-day post as well.

In retrospect, perhaps it’s appropriate that Year Thirteen in the history of Da Blog would be such a wasted year even by the standards of my recent wasted years, but coupled with the dark tone I struck at the end of the last blog-day post even as I attempted to be optimistic about my future, it’s fair to wonder if I have the ability to achieve my dreams at all anymore. (My ongoing depression about the Trump era and the likelihood that we’ve already crossed the point of no return when it comes to global warming doesn’t help, of course.) Still, I take heart that the blog-day post I ended last decade with, when my productivity with Da Blog was much higher (the following year seems to have been the first one where I wrote less than 100 posts), evoked many of the same issues I struggle with today, even if they were nowhere near as bad as they are now. It’s at least possible that with the shedding of the unlucky number 13, I’ve passed through the nadir of my recent spell of unproductivity, and Year Fourteen will see me begin to climb out of it with the long-awaited completion, or at least work on, some long-simmering projects, as well as my attempt to find my identity in the new decade given my struggles with finding the brainpower to complete my goals even without the demands of schoolwork.

I actually accomplished something this month!

I updated my NFL Flexible Scheduling Primer page for the new season!

What do you mean I only did it over the course of the last hour if not half-hour of the month and I still may make some further edits at some point?

I really do think I’m going to get back into Steven Universe this week, if only because Cartoon Network is airing a marathon of every episode leading up to the movovie this weekend, even though I have to wake up at 8:30 to catch one of the episodes that’s been holding me back from finishing my Season 2 recap post.

Ugh.

I said last month would be the last streak-filler post and I had two or three different ideas for substantive posts this month, and none of them panned out. I still intend to get back to Steven Universe┬áin August, but I’m also finding one of the mobile games I’m playing may have just become even more of a drag on my time. So I’m going ahead and running a new Da Blog Poll until at least the end of February to see if I really need to continue the streak of monthly posts outside of football season, or if I’m the only one who cares about that.

Last streak-filler post I promise!

Right now I fully intend to jump back into Steven Universe in July – I might end up putting it off until August but that would start to impinge on football season and I’d like to stop feeling useless as soon as possible – so this should be the last post that just serves the purpose of making sure I have a post every month at least until February, but man, I’ve just been doing the bare minimum of posting in the first half of 2019. I’ve actually started to run out of things to say in these posts. If I’m still struggling to maintain posting every month when I don’t have something like the Flex Schedule Watch to make it automatic I may just ask whether anyone other than me even cares that I have a post every month. At this point, if I do become more active with Da Blog again it’ll be like I have two periods of prominence in the history of Da Blog, the period before 2016, and whatever period starts up again after.

Da Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Back in February I listed a number of things I wished to do with Da Blog over the next month or two, none of which actually panned out. Many of those ideas and several others besides remain backed up for me to attempt to do in the coming months. With the release of the Mueller Report it hasn’t been timelier for me to work on my series on fixing the Constitution since the election, but until earlier this week I spent more of my time working on notes for a project that may or may not turn into another book or some other project that gets put up somewhere, notes I originally intended to work on after my Constitution series but which I find easier to engage with. It’s easier to immerse myself in a fantasy world than the real world that seems to be circling the abyss.

At this point I likely won’t pick up Steven Universe again until July, partly because I’m facing a monetary crunch with renewals for my website hosting and domain name coming up this month, partly because I got sick earlier this week which made that crunch worse as I loaded up on medicine and other things. There’s a slight chance the site will go down briefly in about two weeks, but I doubt it and I’m trying to spend the rest of the month in more of a savings mode. The site already went down earlier in the month after something broke without me changing anything, and that coupled with how the issue got resolved made me a little antsy about signing up with A2 again, but I don’t think there’s anything too serious that would lead me to abandon the status quo.

Read moreDa Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Quick update

I had a few ideas for posts this month, but none of them really panned out, and so not much has changed from my last post, aside from the fact that I’m obviously not doing any March Madness posts. I promise that in April I’ll have something that isn’t just an “update” post or a post I’d have done anyway. Possibly as soon as this week, even.

Status update

I have a number of posts I’ve been thinking of working on, but due to various distractions (it’s been what, over seven months since I got a new phone? and the games I installed as a result are still derailing my productivity) and other factors haven’t actually been working on this month:

  • I may be working on a post on the Oscars (that I really should have written earlier this week) that would allow me to start up on my series on how to fix the American political system again. Regardless of whether I write that post, I really should be working on that series again soon. And yes, there is a connection between the Oscars and the American political system.
  • I have one or two post ideas in connection with March Madness that may come out over the next month, though one of them would require intense use of Da Blog Poll and, based on past experience, would be kinda useless if I don’t have a sizable audience coming in to vote on it. The other I kinda regret not writing last year and may not be relevant this year.
  • There were several points in December and January that I came very close to starting up Steven Universe again, especially with another batch of episodes coming out in that time to end the fifth season (and based on what limited spoilers I’ve been exposed to, the overarching plot of the whole series), but at this point I’m not likely to take it up again until June, assuming I can sign up for another Hulu free trial after one year has elapsed since the first one.

I also may look into other platforms to write for sometime in the next few months.

A belated late Christmas Eve blog-day.

I headed into writing this post thinking that this was the most productive year for Da Blog in the last few years, even if it was hardly the improvement I would have hoped for a year ago. I spent a significant amount of time on a project other than the Flex Scheduling Watch that produced several posts, changed hosting providers, and changed the design of Da Blog for the first time in a decade or more. So I was surprised to find that this is only the 37th post since the last blog-day post, only one more than last year.

To be sure, of the three things I accomplished this year only one actually produced a substantial number of posts, and that thing ended up falling far short of my expectations. That had the effect of only keeping pace with the handful of posts on the state of our politics I was able to get in between the blog-day post two years ago and the inauguration. Were it not for my Steven Universe posts I might well have broken what I thought at the time was an unbreakable record low.

The Steven Universe project did give me a chance to learn some things about myself and my productivity. It made me realize just how much brainpower I needed to bear on any truly in-depth, thoughtful posts, and how little I tended to have, to the point of needing to load up on protein bars before working on them. But despite having done everything I needed to to put up my Season 2 wrap-up post by mid-to-late August, I haven’t done any more work on it since that post at the end of August, spending most of my time not spent on the Flex Schedule Watch on all the more frivolous projects, and despite intending to get back to it this month, with SU resuming new episodes (including what at least nominally would be the start of a sixth season given previously known information) starting tonight as I write this, I never did, instead spending all my time before flying up to Seattle on something highly tangential to a project I’ve been thinking about since the election but that looks to be unlikely to start serious work on in the coming year, something tangential enough that it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever come up in that project.

Another reason I let SU go by the wayside this month, besides December increasingly becoming one of the more stressful months for the Flex Schedule Watch as I try to play out the Week 17 scenarios (my new method of preparing the Week 14 post involves figuring out every single scenario that would lead to a given game, same as the following week, and I think I still missed several scenarios that might have affected the percentage chances, including the one that actually played out, while appealing to my commenters’ out-there “two NBC games” theory delayed the Week 15 post until it not only forced the postponement of this one but came after Saturday’s games), was finding out that Season 5 episodes wouldn’t leave my cable provider’s On Demand service until March, relieving the pressure of having to finish them before Season 6 started. Still, with the Flex Schedule Watch done for the season, I fully intend to get back to SU in the new year, though getting back in the right mindset for it could be a bit of a challenge since it’s been so long since I watched any episodes. And I hope to finally get back to work on my series on reforming the Constitution in time for any debates surrounding the Mueller report and impeachment.

Despite the challenges, I have every reason to think Year Twelve of Da Blog succeeded in establishing a foundation that will allow Year Thirteen to be the lucky year that puts me back on a path to productivity and making a place in the world. Will Year Twelve be the last of the past few years of “lost” years? Time will tell, but despite the optimism I’ve expressed in the last few blog-day posts, I really do feel like this has a good chance to be the year that turns things around… though it’s worth noting I may have also lowered my expectations for what that means, fully preparing for the possibility of taking a few months “off” between projects to rest my brain. Here’s hoping that doesn’t completely derail my progress. Fingers crossed? (Wow, I did not intend to end this post on this dark a note…)