Concentrate on the work at hand...

the sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus--Alexander Graham Bell

I am waiting for the rain to stop. I am running a virtual race this month that requires 267 miles before the 31st. I needed to jumpstart my wavering discipline and accountability in this time of squishy deadlines and no travel. I have a book to write that will demand intense focus and dedication. This physical and mental challenge appears to be working.

There is a book that resonated with me. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones*. I was watching a video of Rich Roll interviewing someone for his podcast. Way before bookcase credibility became a thing on Zoom I noticed this book tucked away on his bookshelves—so I ordered it.

*Amazon throws a few pennies to me if you purchase through the link…

Habits are the way you embody identity. True behavior change is really identity change.—James Clear

After doing a little sleuthing I came across the interview Rich had done with James. It is worth a listen.

This was a bit of the backstory of my approach to getting started on my book. James has said something that made me think a different way. Maybe when you are creating a goal—whether it is training for a 5k or learning to cook—you aren’t looking far enough upstream. Maybe the would-be runner needs to simply get dressed in running clothes for a week and begin the commitment there. Or buy fresh groceries and stock a pantry and consider that a precursor for learning how to make a dinner for your family.

We often neglect the prep phase of our audacious goals and invite failure before we even begin.

What I learned this month is that your mind is more of an obstacle than simply going out and running the miles. Was it Henry Ford that said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t—you’re right.”

Be safe,


Here is a link to the most popular blog this month—so far. Nothing vast enters the world of mortals without a curse.

A few bon mots…

Finding research papers

Do you ever hit a dead end when looking for research papers? Sci-Hub is a “shadow library website providing access to millions of papers and books. Not sure how long this portal will remain open but for now…

Spatial data visualization

Many of my data visualization colleagues share their mapping vizzes. Why not? Maps are typically the most engaging visualization and often answer an important question—where did something happen? But maps are static representations of the geospatial information that lies underneath. This spatial layer can powerfully provide insight as to why and event occurred in a specific location and since these are spatial and temporal insights perhaps we can impact future events. QGIS is a powerful open source tool available to learn and integrate into your curation of data.

Better research habits for your stories

I run hot and cold with the omnipotence of Google but once in a while they come up with something that I can’t ignore. I give you Pinpoint. A research tool or hub from Journalist Studio that functions like Dropbox with a brain. For me in particular, I am writing a second book that focuses on 1963. There is a complete database on the FBI files on Martin Luther King Jr that are helping me link events in Birmingham.

More QGIS tutorials to follow and a few thoughts on optimizing Pinpoint.