Plan Yr Wrk, Wrk Yr Plan

I tell my students about the best piece of advice I ever got when my wife and I were running our chimney sweeping business. I tell them it made us a lot of money. I tell them we paid for our farm and home with this piece of advice. Now they’re attending. And what was that advice?

The owner of Copperfield Chimney Supply, Bob Daniels (Sooty Bob to everybody in the business) shared this piece of advice in a six-cassette pack of tapes which I wore out completely over the years. His advice was very simple:

So I repeat this to them ad  nauseum as they work their way through the process of asking and answering a “burning question” in their lives.

One of the tasks I ask of them is to create weekly research plans and then progress reports on the plans.  I do everything along with them, solidarity in learning dontcha know. Below is the assignment and my research plan for this week.


I want you to come up with a research plan for answering your I-Search question.  This might be a list of items you want to get done. Or it might be in paragraphs.  Make sure you prioritize. In other words, I want you to say what you will do first, second, third, etc.  If you can’t do the first item, move on to the second and so on.  Don’t let your priorities stop you from constantly moving forward.  Imagine you are a shark after your prey, the answer. You never stop moving forward.  We will discuss your plan and how you progressed through it at your conference.

Here is my research plan for the week. I will let you know how it went on Blackboard. You will have an opportunity to do so as well:

Get copy of MIchael Mosley’s book: Michael Mosley, The Clever Gut Diet.

Read Mosley’s book and mark it up looking for ways to combine it with my DayTwo data.

Prepare an email to my doctor on the kinds of bloodtests I want to include in my appointment next week.

Write my introduction where I tell my readers why I am pursuing the question.

Do a journalling exercise called feedforwarding where I imagine the results of my question as clearly as I can from 10,000 feet.

Clean up my I-Search outlines in Diigo.

Follow up on the forums I have visited and get more involved there:  quantified self forum and gut smart forum.

When they come for their conferences, we will chat about their plans and the progress they have made.  We will do this until their first draft is due in about three weeks–planning their work, working their plan, rinse, repeat.  


What’s Going Down Here?

One of the best ways to share with and honor the work of your friends is to take time, slow down, and make the effort to read one of their posts or videos or poems or images or songs.  I use the word “read’ very broadly.  I view all of these media as text.  They are all machines in their own way, but without cogs or visible energy sources.  In fact they are the only perpetual motion machines ever invented.  Text engines.  All of them.

But you have to prime their pumps sometimes when they have wound down a bit and are going very slowly.  That is what I am trying to do with Simon Ensor’s recent post.  His poemposts haven’t run down by any means. If anything they are too tightly wound and move too quickly. What I think they need is a slow release of the clockwork inside to let the energy into the world in a different way.

That is what I have done here.  I have attempted a close reading through a kind of Babel Fish–Lumen 5.  Because you have to ‘translate’ the words from one medium into another, you get a feel for the tension of the springs in the post.  At least I do.  Close reading by translating.  Any deep understanding of any text has to involve this idea of translating, an apt metaphor considering Simon makes his living by teaching English to French students.

Here is the original post.   By all means read it.  Get your own initial feel for it, a sense of touch for its heft and texture and tone.

Now take a look at my translation into Lumen 5.  See if it doesn’t expand the world of his post through the intertwingling of music, image, video, text and typography.


Poem Gif

Playing around with the unfortunately named LiceCap. I have messed about with it before, but I don’t remember it being so dead easy to use.  Thanks to Aaron Davis for the reminder.

I copied a short story I wrote for Mastodon’s #shortstories hashtag and then pasted it into iWriter, my no-frills writing space.  I captured it with Licecap as I edited live with one take. Licecap generated the gif automatically. Here it is:

Sorry that the type is so small. I can see using this as a way to demonstrate revision in poetry, how idiosyncratic it is, how shallow it often is, how much deeper it needs to be.

If you click on the gif it is much bigger  and you can see how much the cursor jinks and janks across the page.  I was not aware of how much I did this. It is not just a nervous tic, but a reflection of something going on elsewhere in my mind.  At least it seems that way.  Fruitful research here on  mouse/mind behavior? I wonder if it parallels the jittering of the eye, the saccades.