I hate having to do a gap-filler post for September. I need to do a season-opening post for the Flex Schedule Watch (people are already starting to leave comments on my last post from last year), and probably would have if not for a perfect storm of circumstances. In the early part of the month I was still thinking I was going to do a post about recent developments in college sports, and then a couple weeks ago I suffered a serious injury I’ve spent most of the intervening time recovering from and in no shape to do any sort of serious thinking.

I might still have gotten something in this week, but I have a lot of work to put into it, more so than normal. I want to say something about the impact of the NFL’s new TV deals on flex scheduling (about which we know frustratingly little), and I have to update the Flex Scheduling Primer for not only that and last year’s developments, but some of the more immediate flex scheduling impacts from the 17-game schedule and ESPN getting a pair of Week 18 games. That’s made it seem like a more daunting task for me to get into than it normally is, and it’s had to compete for my time and attention with various other things, including the fast-approaching NHL season and concurrent debut of new TV partners for that league, which has been an especially big time sink given my newfound emphasis on graphics packages, and mock-ups of same, on Twitter.

None of that is to excuse my lack of posting this month and I absolutely should have gotten that Flex Schedule Watch kick-off post in, and I definitely will get it in in the next week, if only because the protection cut-off point is fast approaching. After that we’ll progress week to week as normal, and I have some ideas for what to do after that (including the return of something long dormant), but whether or not next year is any more productive than the past few years have been is anyone’s guess. (But I sure as heck don’t want to still be living with my dad a year from now, if only because I don’t want to be party to acknowledging the most blatantly corrupt and all-around terrible World Cup host selection ever.)

Second (or gajillionth) verse, same as the first…

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve found in recent years that I don’t have the brainpower to write formal blog posts that I used to, often needing to load up on protein bars and chug caffeinated drinks to get anything done and even then being ambivalent towards the result. Places like Twitter and Reddit can be more conducive to firing something off on the spur of the moment, so I remain plenty active on those places, but writing an actual blog post can feel like a daunting task. It’s compounded by the fact that I rarely have time to focus on Da Blog, which is an odd thing to say when I rarely if ever do any actual “work” on anything, but I’ve found Twitter, Reddit, and various mobile games tend to take up all of my time, to say nothing of the sort of long-term projects I’ve hinted at in the past. Some of those mobile games aren’t even that fun – I seem to have a habit of getting really tired when I’m playing one particular game, which is a problem because the time that I’m playing it and the period immediately after would probably be the best time for me to get some writing done, but my sleep schedule hasn’t really allowed me to switch to the main alternative time I could go with – but I feel obligated to reach at least a certain point of accomplishment in it.

Speaking of my sleep schedule, I spent most of the time after the Olympics trying to fix it after staying up until the early morning watching some of the later events, but even before I came close to succeeding I started to see signs of how difficult it was to find time and energy to get writing in. I really did want to get a post written about recent news in college sports, but I could only even get started in the last 24 hours, despite running through much of what I wanted to say in my head before that. Sitting down and keeping everything straight, and getting it all organized in a cohesive order while trying to remember everything I want to say, feels like something I need some sort of ritual to get into the right mindset for, and much of what’s been suggested to me doesn’t seem to work.

I will still try to get that post in in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll definitely have a post getting ready for the new NFL season and the implications of the league’s new TV deals for flex scheduling, ideally before the season actually starts. I have one or two other ideas for posts I may try to work on as well, but who knows how or when.

On to the next month, same as the last one…

I did have an idea for a post I wanted to write before the end of the month based on some big news that came out during it, but a web site I was going to use for research is down at the moment and I’ve been spending so much time focusing on the Olympics I don’t even have any other ideas for what to write in this space, so this might be even less informative than these gap-filler posts normally are. I hope to get that post in by the end of next month (though I’m not 100% certain it’ll happen) and of course football season is coming up, but I could have had one less gap-filler post if I could have gotten that post in by the end of this month.

Catch-up time once again

It seems like this year I manage to get in a real post every other month, thanks to some big news items that came out, but it still takes me a long time to work on them and I ended up getting one of them in under the wire at the end of the month anyway. I’ve been doing a lot of work on a project that should produce a number of posts next year (and you might be able to find a hint of it if you look closely), but I wouldn’t be optimistic about next month even continuing that every-other-month trend, given what I tend to do when the Olympics start coming up, and then as we hit August my attention turns more towards the upcoming NFL season. (When’s the last time I had more than one post in a month outside football season?) As always I tend to be more active on Twitter, but I really need to find a way to get my writing juices really going soon.

So, how was your April?

I was going to do a whole post about my experiences being sick, probably not with COVID (I tested negative but I only got tested this past Wednesday when I was already well into recovering), over the past two weeks, but the NFL Draft hit on Thursday and the way I watch it I basically can’t do anything else while it’s on, and I didn’t get any sleep entering Thursday so I basically ended up sleeping from just after midnight until it was almost time for the draft to start up again. I may yet still make that post, as well as a very delayed post about the NFL deals and maybe even Turner sneaking in to take the other half of NHL rights, but this was a month that ended up being wasted for, for once, understandable reasons.

A reckoning with the state of my life in the Trump (and now Biden) era

For pretty much the entire time since the start of the Trump era I’ve been meaning to get back to talking about the state of American politics and how to fix it. I wanted to do it before the election, the assault on the Capitol would have been prime time to do it, and the impeachment was probably the last best chance to do it and still have it be remotely timely. I’ve actually started work several times – I have a bunch of unfinished drafts where I would return to the topic that I never finished before they stopped being timely, and there are a bunch of posts that have actually gone up that would have started a return to the topic, but I never manage to stitch together more than one or two nights at a time where I can bring myself to do the sort of deep thinking needed to work on it. Part of that’s a function of my weird sleep schedule where I’m not sure how often or for how long I’m ever really fully awake, but part of it may be that I get scared of getting out of the rut I’m in where I spend most of my time on Reddit, Twitter, mobile games, and various web sites and have to do actual hard thinking and write “canonical” blog posts. Put the two together, and what becomes far more common is that I go through several-day-long stretches where writing about politics is the furthest thing from my mind, even though I keep telling myself I need to get back to it sooner or later.

I’ve been thinking that I might still write up something in March and figure out some way to tie it in with current events later, but writing up that last paragraph may have pulled into focus how much I may be kidding myself. I may still write some things that could be useful later, but I may just shift my focus towards other means of being productive and making something of Da Blog and my life that I can spend my time on more sustainably. Or I could spend the next several weeks working on more frivolous projects. That might be more likely.

A surprisingly belated blog-day.

I wasn’t intending to push off writing the annual blog-day post to New Year’s Eve again, and while I can’t totally explain let alone excuse it, I can say I spent the last week-plus catching up on some things for reasons indirectly related to the impending end of Flash, after a particularly complex and unknowable set of SNF Week 17 scenarios took up a good bit of brain power for the previous couple weeks. But it is certainly appropriate in other ways: this is only the 25th post since last year’s blog-day post, when I suggested that year’s record low of 27 posts was unlikely to even be possible to break.

On some level, you would think the ongoing pandemic would be great for posting with everything being shut down, but the reality is the circumstances of my life didn’t actually change that much (I mostly just had to add a mask to my usual ensemble when leaving the apartment) and I spent a lot of the year flitting from all-consuming project to all-consuming project. The election certainly took up a lot of my attention; having announced the poll average project in a post I didn’t really mention it again outside of the obligatory monthly posts, announced any changes to the methodology or what kinds of averages were available on Twitter (or as part of the aforementioned monthly posts) instead of in their own posts, and ended up getting distracted in early October and didn’t even get the spreadsheet up to date before the election. I suspect I won’t be making the project publicly available again and only work on it in private during the primaries, which are more interesting to me anyway. I also wanted to return to the topic of what the Trump era means for the country and how to heal its divides, and I still hope to get to that before the inauguration, but as in 2016 I kept putting it off, and never really even got started outside of my own head. I had a project I intended to unveil on Da Blog this year but the election (especially with the added obligation of the poll averages) and pandemic distracted me from that, and many of the same things I wrote in last year’s blog-day post still apply as well.

I feel like my ability to actually accomplish things has just gotten worse and worse since I finished the book in 2015, and I don’t know if my brain is at a place where it’s even possible for me to recover the level of activity I had back in Da Blog’s halcyon years. Then again, many of the frivolous projects I work on instead of anything that might actually become a thing outside my own head involve considerable effort as well, and even before launching Da Blog I rarely was able to focus on a project long enough to bring it to completion. So yeah, Year Fourteen was another wasted year in the history of Da Blog, and I’m not sure I can really bring myself to proclaim Year Fifteen is going to be some great comeback (frankly I may need a change of medication to get even close to back to old levels of productivity), but I really don’t think it can get much worse than this year, I do hope to complete at least some projects that should translate to Da Blog posts, and if all else fails I can try to pursue other avenues of making money that can help me get out of the rut I’ve been in for the past five or so years.

Monthly check-in time once again!

Unless the NFL season gets completely wiped out, this should be the last monthly check-in post until next year. Even then I do have posts I want to get in before the election, and possibly after. That isn’t even to speak of the poll averages, where as promised, I made some substantial changes to the main landing page, though I’m no longer sure how measuring how prognosticators see each race is going to work. Right now, however, Steven Universe is the furthest thing from my mind, and under the circumstances I’m no longer sure if I’ll ever get back to it again. It hasn’t helped that I’ve gotten caught up in more pointless personal projects that won’t mean anything…

Time for our monthly check-in!

Even by my own recent low standards, I’m shocked by how little has changed since last month. I’m still working on the same project I’ve been working on the past two months, and none of the changes to the Poll Averages spreadsheet I hinted at last month came to fruition. I’d blame coronavirus but the reality is my lifestyle hasn’t changed much; indeed the bigger changes over the last month have been in the wider world, as the Black Lives Matter protests have faded from the news.

Beyond that, the major changes have been in what my plans are for future posts; at this point I’m likely to focus on how to fix what’s wrong with the country before ever getting back to Steven Universe, and I have an idea for a related post I might start working on this month but might not post until closer to the conventions, but who knows if I have the discipline for the amount of work that’s likely to require. I’ve added tabs for state-by-state presidential polls to the poll average spreadsheet and am likely to make significant changes to the main “landing” tab sometime in the next month to month-and-a-half as the general election season really gets going.

Watching from the Sidelines…

As I type this, I’ve just completed the second straight day where I ended up only being able to have one meal due to stores and restaurants being closed for curfew or even just as a precautionary measure, though in today’s case it didn’t help that there was a long line just to get into the local grocery store and I was trying to get there and back in the time it took laundry to finish. We had to stitch together whatever food we had on hand for me to have something resembling dinner.

To think, earlier this year I thought it would be the coronavirus forcing us to stock up on food.

I’ve spent the past month spending most of my free time on what I think is the same personal project I mentioned last month, which I knew going in was ambitious enough it could take an insanely long time to finish but am still plugging away at it. If the current situation continues to escalate, though, I may shift gears to look at what needs to be done to heal the country going forward. Otherwise it’s the same situation I described in last month’s post, and we’ll see how it evolves going forward.

I did make a few changes to the poll averages a while back, incorporating FiveThirtyEight’s updated pollster grades and introducing the Bias-Corrected Average, adjusting each poll by their FiveThirtyEight-measured mean-reverted bias before weighting and averaging them – this measure only applies to general election races between Democrats and Republicans. This provides an added dimension to my general-election presidential average and to other general-election averages going forward. Sometime this month I may also introduce a measure of how competitive the various prognosticators like Cook Political Report expect each race and presidential state to be, to add context to each race I end up having a page for, though I’m not likely to introduce averages for them until after the conventions.