Must not even be trying to keep it social anymore


I woke up late for work today so I worked from home, then after the day was done I worked on Occupy stuff and then ordered some Indian food for dinner.  I actually picked up a six pack to drink while I worked and ate dinner which is against my idea that I could just be a social drinker and only drink with other people when I go out to things.  Oops.  Keep reading for the nitty gritty about what actually happened.

My alarm went off at 7:30 this morning and I woke up but I must have fallen asleep pretty quickly because the next thing that I knew it was 10 minutes until I was supposed to be at work.  Oops, didn't mean to do that.  I ended up calling in and seeing if it would be OK to switch Friday for today so that I could just get working right away instead of losing an hour and a half getting ready then riding into work.  Robert was OK with that so I just started in on working. Later on in the day I noticed on my calendar that I actually have my first counselling session at 3:30 on Friday so I'm not going to be able to make it into work that day either.  Thankfully Robert was also OK with that so I don't have to try and reschedule the appointment.

Work was pretty steady in the morning, working on bug fix stuff for our big project on the client I brought in.  I wasn't able to get everything figured out but I did clear out several bugs.  I also did a couple of other small jobs on other websites but then I ran out of stuff to work on mid-afternoon.  There were a couple things on the horizon but our project manager was waiting on clarification so there wasn't any actual work that I could do.  Instead I started up some dishes and finished up the work on the site for the lady that helped with the birth of my niece.  I was pretty happy to be done with most of the coding stuff on that one.  All that is left is to sign her up for google analytics and a share this account to track page views and then go live.  After we go live I can hook up automatic publishing of the blog posts to facebook and twitter for her.  I sent her an email to see what she wants to do for next steps.

After that there were a bunch of tickets filed on the other large project we've been doing that was taking all three programmers.  The events system used 3 different systems, one was using Advanced Forms and some custom views to pull out data, another was using Hutman Events which is an unreleased add on that's very similar to our Hutman News add on, and the last was the re-do of the Yahoo slider that I did for Attributes Slider for the home page.  Now we have to standardize all of these systems to use Advanced Forms only which will be kind of difficult I think.  We only have two weeks to do it in before they want to go live, which also includes the time for the client to enter in all of the data for all of these different calendars.  So the next week or so is going to be really busy with this.  I hope that I can get the parts figured out that I need to get figured out, it's really a bit beyond me in a lot of ways trying to work with the data from Advanced Forms.

I ended up getting a little bit done on updating the home page slider to pull in information from the Advanced Forms but I didn't get very far.  The code that I had to work from was an implementation of Full Calendar tied into two tools files to output json for the events list.  I wasn't going to be using json to load the events list, I need to use php and I wasn't really sure how to load in the tools file that way and there was only about 15 minutes left in the day so I left it there and will work more on it in the morning. 

Once I was done with that I entered the data from the next 20 surveys that we conducted on Tuesday into the system.  This time I didn't take the time to publish the results, I'll probably wait until we're up to at least 100 surveys to put together another post because it takes several hours to compile everything up into a format that is easily digestible, mostly because copy/paste from the google form doesn't really work all that well as it keeps a lot of extra formatting that you have to strip away in the html view of tinymce. 

After that I called up to Ghandi Majal to order some dinner.  I'd eaten the leftover lasagna from last night after I finished up with work while I was entering the surveys but it wasn't nearly enough food.  I stopped by Skol on the way back from the restaurant to pick up a sixer of Bell's Oberon mostly because I wanted to and I could.  It's not like there's anyone left to condemn me for drinking, nobody that matters to me that cares one way or the other and it's become pretty clear to me that my sobriety isn't going to be the thing that causes people to like me or not like me.  I thought when I first quit that I needed to change who I was by becoming sober in order to ever find anyone to love but it seems more likely that I won't meet anyone as long as I'm sober and not going out to be with anyone.  Really I should be trying to keep it so that I only go out to drink when it's going to be with other people and to have social interaction, to have some very strong rules about my usage since I am an alcoholic and I probably shouldn't be drinking at all but I just couldn't convince myself to just drink juice tonight.  That's probably bad of me but I don't really care.

I came home and ate a ton of food while starting to work on redoing the survey for the Neighborhood Democracy Project.  I didn't get a lot of work done while I was eating but after I was done with food I managed to get everything worked out.  What we had been conducting surveys with were three different versions of I think word or google docs layouts that really weren't laid out all that well.  One version of the survey even left out the yes/no option for three questions that were supposed to be yes/no, this is why I'd actually had to change the online survey to have yes/no/somewhat or yes/no/sometimes.  Really this shows that we didn't have the survey set up correctly to begin with, the answers were more nuanced than just yes or no.  One person last night had said that they didn't want me to just change the survey arbitrarily according to my own whims but I don't think that I am.  I'm correcting a problem that was introduced by someone not paying attention when they created the survey, and getting it back closer to the original intention of the group and the actual layouts of the questions that we agreed upon by consensus, plus the new options that came out from the actual data and are needed to make sure that we are recording accurately.  You can download a copy of the survey here to check out my layout.  It's not the best but I think it will be a lot better than what we have for actually gathering data from people.  I think it will be a lot easier to read when I'm doing the data entry as well.  Right now without check boxes next to interests or things that people have been affected by or things that people have participated in people have just been circling or making x marks next to the things they want to mark.  This works most of the time but sometimes it's hard to tell what someone actually wanted to circle if they aren't careful.  So boxes to check will help this out quite a bit.

Once I was done with that I redid our sign up sheet.  The one that we have now is portrait and I noticed that a lot of people couldn't fit their email address on one line.  Also it's set up for being a sign up sheet at an event, there are no areas for keeping track of what the actual response was from the places we knock on the door.  We're trying to keep track of three things, 1) if they answer the door, 2) if they take a survey and 3) if they give us contact information to hear about the upcoming community forum.  I had started using the sheets to keep track of each location we visited which other people were just doing on a separate sheet of paper without any standardization on what they recorded or how it was formatted.  So hopefully this new layout helps us with keeping track of these things a little better.  I'm not sure if we're going to go out and hit any of the areas we've canvassed before trying to hit houses that didn't answer the door but we might.  It would be good to have sheets that let us know exactly what we did on each block of the neighborhoods.  Ideally if we were really doing this we'd want to have all of this information stored digitally and available to canvassers using ipads or other connected devices to have the full details already.  But we don't have a budget or programmers to help us keep track of this information so paper sheets will have to do.

That was about it for today.  I guess when you look at it I was working pretty much the whole day, from when I actually got up all the way through to when I stopped and started blogging this.  Which I guess is actually a form of work as well, logging everything from the day doesn't really need to happen but I feel it's pretty important at least to me to know what I did each day.  I don't know when someone might ask me what I did on a particular day in the past and as is my memory is pretty horrible so I never remember what I actually did, and my concept of date time coordinates is pretty lacking.  Even if I'm just looking it up for my own reasons not because I have to for someone else I think it will still be really good for me to have a record.  I'm pretty happy that I've gotten into a routine where I log everything even if it isn't something important that happened during the day.  I often watch documentaries about people from the past and it always amazes me when you have people with written documents that tell you exactly what they were doing nearly every day of their lives.  I don't have that for most of my life but maybe I can start keeping better records then if anyone ever wants to look back at my life and see how I lived my life they will know.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to but it's still possible that I'm going to do something that changes the world.  I don't plan on stopping trying any time soon.

Anyway, I should get heading to sleep so I can get to work tomorrow on time.

In thinking on that now that I'm mostly done with programming on everything else I plan on starting to really plan out the full platform that I want to build.  According the the new owners even making a blog on to simply talk about what I want to build and trying to find programmers and people to donate towards the cause would be a violation of our non-compete.  I've been looking at the actual wording of the non-compete clause in the contract and I'm not sure about that but I still don't want to risk getting sued.  So I'm waiting until September 30th before blogging anything.  Though technically there is a typo in the clause, it says that I can't make any site similar to, not  Right now that site is just a domain name squatter.  And I still think that I wouldn't be in competition because I'm prohibited from creating a website in Minneapolis or St. Paul and I'd be making a site for national consumption, not a community forum or community website at all.  I'd just be making a website talking about what I want to build and describing each of the components that would go into it.  Then I want to create pages for each one of those sections with an estimate of how long it will take to create each one, then having a way for people to donate toward that particular feature and if enough people pledge then they all get charged once a critical number is reached similar to kickstarter.  I really don't see how that is creating an actual forum in any city, it's trying to find funding and other developers for creating the base platform which will not be done for months after the time period of the non-compete is over and won't ever be deployed for anything within the Twin Cities. 

The extra time will give me a lot of time to work on the IA documents and site layout which is very important.  And to come up with the programing needed to list off different project sections with the ability to donate but not be charged.  I really like working with Occupy trying to make things better in the world and you'd think that it would be a bigger thing to be involved in but I still really feel like creating a city based website centered around bicycling all across the world would go a lot further to actually making the change I want to see happen.  Occupy has a lot of good points but at the end of the day it's still something that mostly appeals to people that are already fed up with the political system and the way our world works.  I don't want to convert those people.  I want to convert the every day person and show them a completely different way to live in their city, and I think the bicycle is the key to that.  Sure you can get lots of people that are fed up with the system but until you offer them a real alternative you don't get them actually making real change.  By riding a bicycle you get people to start changing a whole lot of things about how they interact with their environment and the other people they share a city with.  They become more interested in local things, they become more environmentally conscious, they use less petrochemicals.  It's hard to really say how much of a change just a simple bicycle can have in a person's life once they learn to embrace it as their main mode of transportation. 

There are a lot of people that have said that bicycles are a conspiracy to make people embrace more liberal ideas but I don't think there is conspiracy.  I think there is just fact about how people want to live once they find that a bicycle is right for them.  You become more aware of the scale of your city, you become more aware of the other people that you share a common space with.  That's not because there is some group trying to promote bicycling in order to meet a political agenda.  It's because there are tons of people who ride bicycles and simply find themselves happier and wanting to tell other people about all of the benefits that come along with choosing a bicycle related lifestyle.  When I was running bikelove it wasn't some group in charge of things wanting to make a change in the city, though there were several groups trying to do this.  What they didn't have was the same level of passion that bicyclists themselves had for wanting to tell other people about how much they loved bicycling.  The advocates always tried but they could never connect with people on the same level because they were trying to get people to turn into more advocates rather than just simply trying to share what they loved about riding without any agenda.  The whole 'no agenda but bikes' is one of the best things about the platform I want to build.  If you want to become an advocate or get involved then it will be really easy to find out what the issues and projects are in your city and you will have the option to opt in for local, regional or national notifications about issues that concern cyclists but you won't have to be an advocate to use the site.  I think it's much better that way.

I'm not sure how much of an experiment in anarchy I want to make the full platform.  The original site was very much an experiment in anarchy, I tried not to do anything without a consensus of everyone, it was not really supposed to be about what I wanted the site to be but what the people of the site wanted it to be.  That ended up being one of the downfalls of it, I wanted to wipe everything clean and start over with the new platform even though I couldn't import the content from the old site.  The users didn't want that.  So even though I had a dream of what I wanted to do it didn't work because it wasn't what the group wanted, they wanted to just stay with what they had.  I should have been better at listening to them.  I tried to never actually say 'we must do this' especially in the early days but instead pay attention to what people were saying they wanted to do and suggest things at the right moment when there was already a pretty major consensus about what people should do.  That took a whole lot of effort, mostly in following what the sentiment of everyone was and then figuring out the right moment to suggest things to make the most impact.  So I guess in that way it wasn't really anarchy, I was using the anarchy but really pulling strings behind the scenes to make it head in the directions I wanted it to go.

Another thing I'm not sure about is the freedom of speech that was available on the original site.  I tried to not censor pretty much anything, even if it was something that was really negative towards me personally.  I thought it was very important that every person felt that they had full reign to say whatever they wanted to say.  I didn't have much tolerance for people that would post up things and then retract  them though, if you said something then I wanted you to have to defend what you said and take the brunt of reproach from the other forum members if you said something totally off base.  And really the members did do pretty good about this, most people kept things really civil and there were a lot of good exchanges of opinions.  There was one person who is actually a friend of mine and sold me one of my current bicycles who would post up really inflammatory stuff and then go through and delete all of his posts once people started responding to them.  I banned him more times than any other person on the site for doing this.  What I'm really not sure is how to translate my own ideas about the importance of free speech and people owning their own speech and standing by what they said and people all knowing exactly who the other people were so there was no real 'anonymous' posting on the site at all.  I'd love to see this idea carried out in different cities all around the world but I have the feeling that other groups might not be as concerned about it as I am and might censor a lot of speech.  I plan on having independent organizations in each city who function autonomously but hopefully still supporting the ideals of the main site.  But each city should be it's own entity with it's own rules and members and ideals.