Thinking Spatial

Thinking Spatial

Spatial analysis has come of ageAs time goes on, our world becomes more and more global.  We also capture more and more data as each day goes by.  Linking the location of this data with time and other attributes, can reveal very profound patterns; patterns at various scales like community to global.

We can answer numerous questions about a lot of different things using GIS software like ArcGIS.  Using the concept of data layers, we can start to analyze data in exponential ways.  We can go beyond statistics on a data table and evaluate changes over geographic space.  We can also use GIS to find the best locations and features with certain characteristics.

For example, Whole Foods uses many different data layers to identify the best locations for their store fronts.  They want the best location which has a population of 200,000 within 20-minutes. They also look for locations with at least 20,000 sq ft, a decent sized parking lot and ease of access along with highly visible (source).

Thinking spatial about some of my own interests, I have come up with two focus areas. The first being related to the “walkabout” I have been on over the past few years.  Where do I want to live as my forever place?  This GIS would take into account numerous data layers such as population, elevation, incomes, education, and access to parks and rivers. Using these data layers, and a few more, I can begin to scientifically hone down where I could settle down.

The second spatial project centers around my love of history.  I am currently reading a book about Red Cloud titled, “The Heart of Everything That Is.”  What piqued my interest was the impact of European Settlers had on the spatial and temporal changes in the new world.  With the arrival of settlers in the east, drove waves of Native Americans west as they fled.  But they fled with muskets, blades and disease.   As the book described this change, I was mesmerized trying to visualize this on a map and in the context of the time.  Throw in some explorers, desperadoes, and outlaws and you have quite a story. But I want to build an interactive story map to illustrate these profound changes.

To think spatial opens the mind, builds the curiosity and becomes a book of its own right. What ways can spatial analysis impact your life? Your curiosity?

 

A Pending Economic Shift

Climate change is here. The Federal Government is corrupt and politicians are out of tune with their constituents.  Corporate America cares far more about profit than well-being for their country or their employee.  Our economy is breaking and we are heading toward a major economic shift.

Why is our economy breaking?

  • The fossil fuel based economy is a primary driver of climate change.
  • The economic gap is the widest it has ever been in modern times.
  • It is harder than ever for a citizen of the US to start their own business.
  • Lawyers outnumber doctors in the US.
  • The economic conditions favor stockpiling cash.
  • Competition is squashed by buyouts due to stockpiled cash.
  • The tech industry is automating everything, increasing unemployment and creating a society of lazy, dumb people. (We don’t want to be an idiocracy.)
  • How we measure economic health is flat-out wrong.
  • Everything, housing, internet, healthcare, has become a privilege.
  • Poor mental health is on the rise, suicides are up
  • General happiness is at an all-time low.
  • Innovation and manufacturing in the US has stopped growing.
  • A mad-man sits in the oval office who doesn’t know what he is doing.
  • The global economy matters more than ever. Nationalism is suicide.

I don’t mean to paint a picture of doom, but we are heading for a shift in our economy.  The economy we have today can’t keep going the way it is.  We must solve the economic gap, we must make sure everyone has access to housing, to healthcare, and equal access to basic needs.

What sort of an economy do we need?  We need an economy that flips the power of money on its head.  We need the concept of worker co-ops, where businesses can be managed by employees and those employees reap the rewards of the business.  Currently we have too many 1%-ers reaping the rewards of the work of millions of employees.  That is wrong.

We also need an economy which respects our need for a health environment to survive.  We must move away from fossil fuels and long commutes to one of the renewable energy, self-sufficiency, and walk-able commutes.  We must reorganize our society to align with a healthier environment.

The economy must represent the global needs.  Nationalism must take a back seat to global well-being.  What happens in China and Japan, for instance, has consequences for those living in the US and Brazil.  The new economy must connect local communities across the globe and respect local solutions.  National and Global legislation can be detrimental to local economies.  We need an economy which favors environmental responsibility and general well-being for all above all else.

Economies do not change overnight.  Unless we are invaded or a government coup occurs, we are unlikely to wake up tomorrow into a totally new economy.  We must take one step at a time and move toward a more favorable, happy economy for all.

 

Do Not Let Technology Take Your Life

Technology has been on a path of freeing individuals from repetitive work, making our lives safer, and opening up a new world of connectivity to us.  Tech, has turned poor college students into billionaires.  Tech is on a rat race to automate as much of our world as possible while making as much money possible.  This race is a good thing for everyone.

Find Moderation

No Tech Zone for sanityHowever, we can’t let Tech push us aside. we cannot let Tech increase the income gap.  We can’t spend our lives living behind a computer. We can’t spend our days a slave to our smartphones and notifications.

My friends think I am weird.  I have turned off all notifications on my phone.  I have deleted numerous social media accounts.  I rarely do anything with Facebook these days. I don’t play games.  I do use my phone to glance at email. I do use my phone to make phone calls.  I do all of my planning in my own version of a Bullet Journal.

Time Slips By

About a year ago, I realized how much of my life was spent behind a computer. You wake up, go to work and spend the day behind a computer in the name of accomplishing something.  Then you commute home and find myself again behind a computer for a few hours to accomplish the personal stuff.  Before you know it, the neighbors have moved out, Donald Trump is President, and my awesome car has hit nearly 130,000 miles.

Life can get away from you.  You can watch it from behind a computer melting your eyes or you participate in it in real life.  Find a balance. The real world isn’t for everyone.  Actually talking to people outside work is a scary thing.

Your Challenge

I challenge you to do one or more of the following at least one per week:

  • Turn your phone off for 24-hours – it is hard, but I assure you the world will not end
  • Go for a long hike – Vitamin N is a mineral we don’t get enough of, so get more of it
  • Have a picnic in a park – Sure, there are scary homeless people at the park, but a picnic can be a peaceful, sublime experience
  • Drive to a new town and explore it – A change of scenery is good for the soul
  • Paint, doodle, dance, or just observe – all of these can meditative and help to rebuild the soul

Try it out and report back what you did and how you felt.  We can’t let technology steal our lives from us.  There is an analog world out there to enjoy.

Perspectives in Analytics

Implementing Analytics is a lot like making pizza.   The end result is fabulous, a very yummy pizza with our favorite toppings.  But how we make that pizza, can vary quite wildly.  Even the ingredients we use can vary as do the toppings.

If the goal is our favorite yummy pizza, businesses have the goal of building an analytics program which represents their business model and their strategy.  These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can vary wildly, even for businesses operating in a similar market.  The KPIs are our toppings.  Pepperoni for some and others avoid the anchovies.

How we support those KPIs can be vary as well.  What type of dough do you like?  Do you make the dough from scratch or buy a premade dough?  What do we add to the dough for interest?  Basil?  The dough is our technology stack.  You can build something completely custom with anjular.js and d3.js or you can buy something off the shelf, like Google Data Studio or implement Alteryx and Tableau.  There are no right or wrong answers, just the best decision for the needs of your business.  Low-budget frozen pizza to high-end gourmet pizza cooked in a pizza oven, the flavors vary.

The best advice I can give is to consider the sustainability of any stack before implementing.  Knowing the complexity and amount of data will ever increase is crucial. Being able to modify reports and deploy new ones fast is key to success.  Don’t forget KPIs can evolve as well and need to be reviewed regularly.

Happy Pizza Making! Er… happy analytics developing?

 

 

Reframing a Dysfunctional Life

Reframing a Dysfunctional Life

Patterns and Creativity of a Dysfunctional LifeIt can be risky letting yourself by vulnerable.  It can hurt at times, but it can also be superb.

As I embark on a new project to write a book, I ask for your patience, acceptance, and open-mind.  As I look back over my life, I see some awesome experiences, some not so great times, and I see a childhood rooted in dysfunction.  This dysfunction made me who I am today, for good and bad.

In “Patterns and Creativity of a Dysfunctional Life”, I hope to share my life along with some educational and restorative exercises to help anyone who is willing to try them.  Having grown up with the false sense of what a perfect life was supposed to be, I struggle a bit to create the life I want and dismiss this concept of perfection.

While we are all different with varying needs, various interests, and equally varying skills and personalities, defining success isn’t so hard as it is time consuming.  The life you create does not have to be based on the learned behaviors of a dysfunctional environment.  In fact, the life you create must be based on your true soul, your true passions, and not from any other source.

Join me on Patreon (cancelled) as I begin this journey.  It seems a bit scary, but the product of being vulnerable will have an impact on our society.  A positive impact, I hope.

Early 2018 Updates

It is time for a quick update on my 2018.  I have been pretty lax about posting here as most of my content is being posted on my Patreon profile.  For just $5.00 per month you can get access to all of my content.  Content includes articles, podcasts, and videos on business, analytics, productivity, wellness, and creativity.   The focus is providing inspiration and knowledge to enhance your own experience. So head over to my profile and sign up.  Just don’t watch my horrible intro video.  lol

Onward to the good stuff!

Aric’s Q1 2018 Update

Shapr

Are you tired of LinkedIn?  Has LinkedIn gotten a bit personal? Tired or recruiters harassing you who have never looked at your profile?  Luckily, there is a cure.  It is an app called Shapr.  Think of it as the Tinder app for professionals and networking.  You signup easily and then you tell it up to 10 skills and give it your location.  It matches you to professionals with similar skills and interests.  You can then chat, meet for coffee/lunch or even just have a video call.

For me, it has been phenomenal in networking with fellow analytics gurus in my area.  I have already met with a half dozen and have developed a broader network for clients and employment opportunities.  It is great.  By comparison, LinkedIn is embarrassingly bloated.  lol

The Creative World

Early in my career, I cared a lot about gadgets, tech, and having cool stuff.  After a few moves and having to deal with all that stuff, I have decided to significantly downsize.  No more stuff for the sake of having stuff.  I have reduced my furniture down to the essentials, dumped half the stuff in my kitchen I never used, or used only once, and reduced my wardrobe down to a week worth of clothes.

This leaves the door open for more creativity.  Not only do I have tons of room in my small studio apartment, but I have a free mind as well.  Not being surrounded by all that stuff has cleared the air.  I now look forward to coming home and using this great space for projects and expanding my business.

After seeing technology de-innovate over the past two years (iOS 11 is backwards) with minimalist interfaces and complicated gestures, more and more data collection, and annoying ads everywhere, I have begun reducing my reliance on tech.  I am planning on getting rid of my iPhone and replacing it with a dumb flip phone.  I will use a small tablet for the sake of convenience at the coffee shop.  I will also dust off my S95 camera so I don’t miss anything and can document my adventures at any moment.

Having less technology around me reminds me that Americans truly work too hard.  We are given the conveniences so corporations can profit from us, keep us connected.  I don’t mean a conspiracy theory, but look at Europe, they are happier and work less than we do.  Do we really want driver-less cars so we can start work the moment we leave or houses?  Just stop and ask yourself, what is technology really doing for me?  If you love it, great.  If you wonder if the grass is greener with less tech in your life, give it a shot and cut back.

The creative world comes alive when you limit the technology, the stuff, and clear the air in your home.  For me, I have renewed energy for podcasts, creating online courses for SpiralAnalytics, and even painting (I recent took up acrylic).  Let creativity shine!

The 3 Words

You might recall, I started off the year with three words to define my 2018.  Inspired by Chris Brogan’s concept, I chose active, plan and explore.

Active – Going well in respects to my physical fitness and being more active physically.  I do have a bit of work to do with becoming more active in my community.  I have not identified a non-profit to volunteer with.  Longmont offers a few historical ideas, as does Erie and Louisville.  I also need to get out more in the evenings after work.  So, active is okay, but needs more focus.

Plan – Daily to do lists and progress charts are just a part of my plan.  Plan really refers to knowing what I need to do, learning, and being prepared for the next step.  For instance, I am considering leasing a car.  I am doing research into what may fit my needs, as well as asking the question, Is this the right time?  Plan is about being prepared to make an educated decision and executing that decision efficiently.  Overall, Plan is going well.

Explore – Not only explore beautiful Colorado, but also explore what I want to learn, new hobbies, and try new things.  I haven’t done many weekend road trips, but I have been exploring N Scale model trains. I have also been researching changes in social media. Exploring cars for a potential a new car lease, and dabbling in painting and sketching.  I have also been exploring platforms to host online custom online courses.  So, exploring has been busy.

SpiralAnalytics

Ah yes, my analytics consulting business.  Things are going well.  Busy with clients in Colorado while designing, authoring and recording online courses to share my knowledge and experience with analytics. What was supposed to be launched in December of 2017 with a WordPress blog and a few membership plugins turned out to be a lot of work and is almost ready to launch with Thinkific. SpiralAnalytics wants to educate and share our knowledge so our users can live in a data driven world and help them launch or refine their own career in analytics.  Stay tuned… SpiralAnalytics is just getting warmed up.

This update has gotten a bit longer than I thought, so I will stop here.  Head over to my Patreon profile and consider a $5/mo subscription.  There is plenty of content over there to make your $5 well spent.  Keep thinking about those three words and how they define your actions.  Finally stay tuned for our first online course, authored by yours truly!

Caio!

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to 2017 with Inspiration From Roy Underhill

Roy Underhill has been working with wood since I was a tiny little kid.   In 1979 he started the “The Woodright’s Shop” which has turned into PBS’s longest running how-to show.   For 38 years, Roy has been inspiring generations with his passion for woodworking and keeping the old methods of hand planes and good old fashion skill alive.   In fact, in episode 37 episode 6, Big Ash Mallet!, Roy pokes fun at the inability to find a quality mallet for sale.  He goes to say modern manufacturers truly want woodwright’s to make their own mallets because the glued mallets for sale are worthless. Go Roy!

Goodbye 2017

As we exit 2017, we all need to heed the lesson of the Big Ash Mallet and look toward 2018 with a bit more passion, self-sufficiency, and simplicity.  Without a doubt, 2017 was a rough year with a horrible president-elect being inaugurated, countless legislative terror attacks on the American people by the Republicans, and a number of personal challenges I personally had to overcome.  As I reflect back on 2017, I say goodbye and good-riddance.  The roughness is inspiration for us in 2018.

2017 Highlights

The best moments of 2017 are worth celebrating.  They provide a foundation of fun for 2018.

T6 Texan  Seattle GrumpyThe best moment was riding on Grumpy, a NAA B-25D bomber operated by the Historic Flight Foundation.  We flew from Paine Field in Everett, Grumpy’s base, south down the coast to downtown Seattle.  We made a flyby of Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight before returning to Paine Field.  I say “we” because a NAA T-6 Texan was flying off our wing at all times, remarkable!

The second best moment was my August road trip to Colorado from Seattle.  After a tumultuous start to the year, a job change and the decision to move away from Seattle, I gave myself a vacation after a number of years.  Driving through Montana and visiting Missoula, Bozeman and Billings made me appreciate the wonderful beauty of our country, the value of fresh air, and even reminded me how confining the Seattle region really is.   The short visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield was nothing short of breathe-taking. On this trip, I found the curious soul who had been hiding while living in Seattle.  The decision was made on this trip to relocate to Colorado.

Other moments include sleeping with the cat in the car at a rest area outside of Boise, Idaho on our last trip to Colorado.  I also enjoyed my visit to the Old Idaho Pen.  Moments from Seattle include spectacular sunsets from my deck, rainbows in Snoqualmie Pass, and having lunch in Mukilteo, watching the ferries come and go.

Over the past few weeks, I have been suffering from the flu, pneumonia, and bitter cold.  It is a parting gift from 2017 which was unnecessary, miserable, and unproductive.  As soon as this cough subsides and I begin breathing normal again, I will donate to scientific research with the hopes of exacting revenge an we eradicate the flu bug altogether. lol

CoSt2 Exercise

I decided to use the “CoST2” concept to consider what I should be continuing, stopping, or starting as actions as we move into 2018. CoSt2 is an exercise where you evaluate what you will continue doing, stop doing, and start doing in the new year. I heard about it on a podcast on my road-trip and decided to give it a try.

CONTINUE:

  • Being Curious
  • Regular Walks
  • Promoting and working to remove Trump (his admin & family) and the Republicans from office
  • Planning your Day
  • Laying the foundation for financial diversification (Patreon, Spiral Analytics & Saalun)

STOP

  • Binge watching TV
  • Eating Junk Food – Getting Food at Starbucks
  • Isolating
  • Using social media and technology so much
  • Letting anxiety rule my day

START

  • Exercising daily
  • Eating good, quality food
  • Planning meals & workouts
  • Exploring Colorado history and Crazy Horse
  • Going out more to workshops, coffee houses, and local events

Overall, the idea for 2018 is to stop being so dependent on technology and start moving a bit more, leading to a healthier lifestyle.  All the while, staying curious and trying to save America.

My Three Words for 2018

Every year I pick three words which guide my values, principles and actions for the year.  They almost create a theme or lens to see the year around.

In 2017 I chose, connect, learn, build.   It worked well, I spent a lot of time connecting with myself and my community.  I spent a lot of time learning about local history, python, and data visualization.  I also spent time building a foundation for 2018 which included setting blogs, building strategy, messaging and laying the groundwork for a focused 2018.

With 2018 right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about a new set of three words.  Some words which came to mind: explore, plan, visit, authentic, responsible, fun, simplicity, simple, bricks, legos, and active.    The three which I settled upon include:My Three Words 2018

  • Active – not only being more active physically, but also more active in my business and local community
  • Plan – do your research and create a plan so I am prepared.
  • Explore – I now live in the beautiful state of Colorado and have a lot of exploring to do.  I also need to explore more options for the future.  There is also a certain amount of exploration to do within my own social community.

So, active, plan, and explore are the words to live by in 2018.  These are also consistent with my CoSt2 exercise for 2018.

Roy’s Message

So what does Roy Underhill have to do with this?  He is a reminder of what we need to recognize in 2018.  We cannot let the wonderful methods, skills, and people who built this once great country with their hands and ingenuity be overlooked.

With the technological revolution in the past ten or so years, we are starting to forget the feel of wood in our hands.  We are starting to forget the smell and wood shavings and the joy we get from making something with our hands.  Technology does play a vital role in our globalized world and offers many conveniences.  But we cannot let it steal our past and dictate a boring future of sheer convenience.  After-all, when the power goes out for good, who’s going to be able to make a chair, let alone a 2×4?

See you soon in 2018!