Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mike Gravel On Mike Gravel

Former Alaskan US Senator Mike Gravel spoke Thursday night at UAA, sponsored by the journalism department and Alaska Native Studies and there was a connection with the College of Business and Public Policy as well.

Gravel was elected in 1968 and served until 1981.  We came right on time and the auditorium was full and we got seats in the very back row.  This was not a good decision as they did not use miss, and as good as the acoustics are in that room, I didn't hear enough of each sentence to write too much here with confidence.  I would guess the average age in the room was around 70 and many were people who knew and/or worked with Gravel.

As one observer said afterward, "I don't remember things being quite as good as he does, but it's probably good to be able to remember your life rosier than it was."

Two points I heard clearly enough to report were:

1.  When Clinton is president the Republicans will begin impeachment hearings that will continue through her four years.

I've been telling friends that I thought the hatred and disrespect shown our first black president will be nothing compare to the invective our first female president will receive.  So this one seems pretty likely.

2.  He began by telling us how he got to Alaska.  Basically, he'd decided he wanted to be a politician and he did research on where the best states to get elected would be.  His choices narrowed down to Alaska and New Mexico.  Alaska wasn't even a state yet, but he was sure it would be soon.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Savage River Walk - Then Home

We drove back to Savage River yesterday morning.  It's about 12 miles into the park and as far as you can drive once the buses start - May 20.  There's a 2 mile loop trail on each side of the river connected by a little wooden bridge.  And you slip quickly into the natural world, in a slightly tamed way.  Here's from past the maintained trail looking back where we'd hiked.  Up this point it's an easy stroll, with rocks placed here and there to take the runoff from the hill.  But there are some muddy spots.  Usually in May we've had a fair bit of snow and ice still on the trail.  Not this year.  Just one snowy spot at the end.  We were on the west side (cross the bridge on the road and start from the unpaved parking lot.)  On the other side there were still some significant snow and ice patches.

[I looked for older posts about Savage River, but couldn't find any just focused on that spot, but here's one from May 19, 2007 that is mostly Savage River.]

As always, click on a picture to enlarge and focus.






The motion and sound of the water rushing were a major attraction on this hike.











lichen on a big rock











We didn't see much wildlife yesterday - none of the big ones.  We'd seen caribou, moose, and bears the day before.  But we did see a Ptarmigan along the road (still mostly in its winter white - just the head had turned brown.)  And this ground squirrel along the trail.  We've seen Dall Sheep on this trail, but not this time.  




This was the only blooming flower we saw on this trip - a moss campion I think.  We've never been here so early.  Usually closer to mid May, just before the buses start.  But it was a very warm winter in Alaska and the road has been open to Teklanika for a while now.  We didn't see many birds at all and the plant life was still waiting for spring.  Except this one.




Orange Lichen this time


There are lots of big and interestingly shaped can colored rocks along Savage River.
















There are lots of rock outcroppings that I suspect were sculpted by the ice and snow.




There was lots of ice on the river at the beginning of the trail, but at this spot it had all melted and the mud was visible.







We had things to do, but our two days at the park were refreshing.  As we drove south, there were spots where the birch lining the road had leafed out, and the clouds offered a constantly changing tapestry.  



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Good Day At Denali - Mountain, Moose, Caribou, Bears, And Blue Skies

click to enlarge and focus

A great day at Denali National Park.  I forget that not everyone who finds their way here knows that Denali is the name of the national park, and now, officially, of the highest mountain in North America that used to be named Mt. McKinley.



This was our first view this morning with the caribou moving in to pose as well.  Denali is on the right in the background.










There were several more caribou in the distance.




A little further on there was a moose with last year's calf on the mountain side.

Since moose are fairly common in Anchorage, these are a little less exciting, but still good to see in more natural settings than crossing the road.










Being in the park reminds me why I'm alive.  It's just so spectacular.  Again, click the picture to enlarge it, and more important, get it sharper.

The road is open to Teklanika campground.  From their you can walk or bike as far as you want.  Once the buses start, May 20, cars aren't allowed.  We walked down from the Teklanika view point to the bridge - the view here - and then on another mile  and a half down the road, for a good, warmish (the sun had warmed things up into the high 50s, maybe low 60s and the wind was much less than it was yesterday.)






 And nearly back to the visitor center, there were cars stopped on the road, and three bears walking along the tundra across the river below.  I don't know that we would have seen them without seeing the others watching them.  But the telephoto makes them a little more than specs.


Lots more pictures, but I want to post this before they shut off the wifi at the visitors center.


April In Denali

Our May - before the buses run - trip to Denali is in April this year.  It's been the warmest winter on record and the weather forecast was good.

On the right is the view from the Mile 135 look out.  That's the Chulitna River.  On a clear day you can get one of the best views of the mountain from this southern viewpoint.


Current conditions at

McKinley Park, McKinley National Park Airport (PAIN)

Lat: 63.73° N Lon: 148.92° W Elev: 1719 ft.

Fair
36°F
2°C
Humidity65%
Wind SpeedCalm
Barometer29.61 in
Dewpoint25°F (-4°C)
Visibility10.00 mi
Last update26 Apr 8:16 am AKDT 
Detailed forecast for

Denali

Today
Mostly cloudy in the morning...then partly sunny in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Local south winds gusting to 25 mph in passes...otherwise variable winds less than 15 mph.
Tonight
Partly cloudy in the evening then becoming mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. In passes...south winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Elsewhere variable winds less than 15 mph.
Wednesday
Mostly cloudy. Isolated rain and snow showers in the morning...then scattered rain showers in the afternoon. Highs in the lower 50s. In passes...south winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Elsewhere variable winds less than 15 mph.















[Weather forecast from forecast.weather.gov]





As you can see, it wasn't completely clear. But you can see the base of Denali and a little bit more in the veil of clouds, flirting.








A little further down the road after Honolulu Creek, you get to the plateau surrounded by these exquisite mountains.









We got here a little after 4pm yesterday and drove to the Savage River bridge where we had dinner.  Just a ribbon of water flowing through the ice.  And it was windy.






Not much wildlife.  Some ravens, seagulls, and a squirrel.



It's sunny and blue this morning and we're hoping to get a better view of Denali today before the clouds come in.  Just stopping at the visitors center to borrow some wifi.  (It was shut off when we came back to Riley Creek campground about 8:30 last night.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Genre: Legislative Fiction - Story: Alaska Legislature Selling UAA to Charter College

This story idea popped into my head recently.  Probably because of all the stories about huge budget cuts to the University of Alaska plus bills to make it legal to carry guns on campus.  Along with the legislature's reluctance to end subsidies for the oil companies and all the mega-projects which are, in effect, subsidies for construction companies.

We've already passed April 1, so I can't just put this up straight.  Although it's far fetched, some of the people I've mentioned this story to said things like, "Oh, I didn't hear that yet."  They just took it for real without blinking.  An Irony icon (*I*) might get overlooked.

So I want you to consider this genre of literature:  Legislative Fiction.  Like science fiction, which imagines a world changed by future developments in science and technology, legislative fiction imagines a world in which the wildest desires of some legislators are fulfilled.  In this case, I'm pushing to the limits conservative desires to privatize government functions that they think could be done as well by the private sector, their concern about radical left-wing faculty brainwashing their students, and their desire to reward private sector supporters and funders.

So here's my short story.

Alaska's Majority coalition legislators have announced they are working to sell the University of Alaska Anchorage to Charter College.  The deal is being handled by developer Mark Pfeffer, whose commission should more than make up for any losses at the LIO.  In the tradition of the Alaska Republican majority, not only do they propose to sell the campus, they are giving Charter College a $500 million zero interest loan,  so Charter can afford to make the purchase.  The sale will also effectively cancel all union contracts, pension obligations, and health benefits.



Reporters noted Charter College's questionable record*, according to College Factual:
Among the Worst Graduation Rates
Only 23.6% of students graduate from Charter College - Anchorage on-time (two or four years depending on the degree) and only 25.4% graduate at all, ranking this school among the worst in the country in both categories.
Graduating From College Isn't for Everyone.
The Majority of Non-Grads at this School Dropped Out. 74.6% of students at Charter College - Anchorage failed to graduate within 150% of the expected time. The majority did so because they dropped out.
Senator D, said he thought they could also achieve those levels with the University.

*This part, unfortunately, isn't fiction.

Pictures From An Alaska Press Club Conference

To add a bit of drama to this meeting, you might want to imagine the strains of Mussorgsky's suite.  Here's some help if you can't.










Clifford Levy, NY Times Pulitzer Prize winner, giving the keynote where he discussed how the Times is dealing with the move from print to online presence - the experimenting, what's worked, what hasn't.














The Press Club's Saturday morning business meeting.


[click on any of the images to enlarge and focus]

Board nominees:








Erin Lee Carr, Friday morning, on making dark documentaries, from identifying subjects, getting their confidence, and finding money.  



















Levy, LA Times Puliter Prize winner Kim Murphy, and ADN's David Hulen on story building in the digital age.













The Washington Post's Audience  Enhancement director discussing Facebook's algorithm and Snapchat.

















Former ADN editor, UAF Snedden Chair Richard Murphy, and UAA Atwood Chair Julia O'Malley talk about story telling and Pulitzer prizes.









Lisa Demer's panel of Alaskan media folks who have done cross platform collaborations.








The AP's Northwest Regional Media Director Jim Pollock, West Region Director Jim Clarke, and Alaska/Hawaii News Editor Mark Thiessen.



As I look through my photos, I realize that this time I didn't really take out my camera except in the sessions.  While I had my pocket Powershot, I also had the bigger camera and the Powershot images no longer seem adequate.  But the Powershot is much easier to pull out and use.




Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Does Facebook Algorithm Work? Ryan Kellett At AK Press Club - Wow! [Updated]

[Sunday April 24, 2016:  I've gone through and edited this a little, added some links.]

There are sessions that complain about how hard life is to be a journalist today, and there are sessions that look ahead and give tons of information on what's happening and how to get in on it.  This was the latter.  These are my running notes, so read with care.  But there was lots of great content on FB and some on Snapchat.

Ryan's presentation yesterday was also great - there's a bit of video on that post.

People at FB probably don't understand the algorithm completely.

News Feed was main product.  Now Messenger.  Is News Feed still relevant?

Cover

  • Algorithms 
  • How Facebook puts you to work "texting" content on you
  • Why do people Share?
  • Snapchat

Landscape before Algorithms?

How organized before algorithms?  
Pages - most important, chronological  

FB reverse chronology  - Twitter feed continues this way. though Twitter is tweaking.

Algorithms to solve problem:  Too much content

But they're not neutral.  

Instagram just went through this.  70% of posts you don't see because in reverse chronology.  
Filtering is the purpose.  

People placed value judgment on what is worthwhile and what is not worthwhile.  That's the scary part of the algorithm.  Value judgment of what is important.

That's what journalists questions.  Who decides what's important?  Keep this all in mind.


How does FB put together the News Feed?  Testing.  And users are the lab rat.  

Small group of people.  WP posts something on page.  First second published tested against small audience.  A tiny percent.  Then the next group.  Then the second group.  (did it over or under perform baseline?)  If over performs, then to the next round of people.  At some point it stops over performing.  

You have 4 millions fans, 4 million did not see the post in the first minute.  Larger and larger groups may see it over time.

What's the value of a like, share, comment, click?
Or open or play (video).  Most people think, that my like is the same value of everyone else's like.  But that's not so.  "If I only I can get enough likes."  No. Algorithm weighs different users differently. If someone likes every post and never shares, that counts as nothing or less.  But if she shares after never sharing, then it's a huge value boost.  Because she rarely shares.  Comments etc.  
User B:  Only clicks or watches videos.  Again, if does something they don't normally do, it gets more weight.  
User C:  Comments on everything.  Sometimes shares.  

Q:  If person has lots of friends, do they have more weight?
A:  Probably, lots of things go into algorithm.
Q:  Does watching an automatic video count?   
A:  Yes.  If you have regular link, test how long the user spent over at the story.  Way to calculate the value of the story = time spent away from FB.  
Google does click through and checks out the link.  Video - ten minute video.  

No one thing on the algorithm, it looks at many different things.

Q:  Sort of a private social credit score for individuals.  
A:  Yes, but they would never admit an individual score.  

Play the game - ways to game the system.  Think about the value of your like clicks.  Robert Gobel  [Scoble - I should have known better because I posted about his book Naked Conversations back in 2006] thinking about ways to manipulate the algorithm  [go to this link! it's amazing] for your personal advantage.  

Q:  How do ad clicks affect things?  They would be more valuable to FB?
A:  I don't know exactly  Value of the ad can be different for different parts of the screen.  Some ads need clicks, others just impressions.  Whether you should pay for distribution is question for journalists.  50% is paid social media.  

350 BC  - New Yorkier Maria Konnikova - about 2011 best job on describing world we live in.  Aristotle wanted to know what would make speech persuasive and memorable.    three principles:  ethos, pathos, and logos.  Content should have an ethical appeal, an emotional appeal, or a logical appeal . . .
Formulating stories 

Why do people share?

We want to feel smart and for others to perceive us as smart and helpful, so we craft our online image accordingly 

Lists:  Practical Value, Memory Trigger
Social currency:  LOLcats  - you want to be on the inside, 'we get it"

I see it as a batting average."  Jonah Berger says:  " No one is going to hit a home run every time, but it you understand the science of hitting your batting average goes up.  
Lots of reasons why succeed or fail, but need to be improving batting average over time.  The algorithm will kill you cause you don't know what it does.

Jonah Berger and Aristotle quotes from this New Yorker article by Maria Konnikova:


Q:  What about stuff that makes you feel good?  
A:  Yes!  We have Inspired Life blog.  I was skeptical, but it really works

Mistrust of media.  Generally part of journalism, but not everything.  

FB Tips

Repurposing content:  Why the URL matters on Facebook.  Role of recycling stories on FB.  Algorithm looks at URL, FB recognizes you've done this once  If do it again, oh, I've seen it and it gets downlinked.  (specific url, not the generic url of your website, but the specific article or post)

Q:  Autopost or manually do it?
A:  People would say FB wants people to do it manually.  All my tweets to FB automatically, two things against you.  1)  Tweet language doesn't translate to FB 2) Auto feed is Twitter, not the best.  But Wordpress better probably.  

Testing yourself with guide.  
How often should I post?  - No one answer.  Overall, more.  FB has told news orgs:  post more.  I tend to test how much is right.  Let's start with baseline and add 5% for two weeks.  # of posts can be tested because it's in your control.  Newer products, volume seems better.  I'm in the 30minute to an hour camp.  Huff post did every 7 minutes, NPR every 3 hours.

What type of posts?  Links and video now.  Great photos ok, on every day, links and video.  BUT this changes regularly.  FB live is new product.  Major thing they are pushing.  Paying some publishers to produce FB live for FB.  [Also see this link for live video to FB and Twitter.]

Should you post other people's content?  Someone else posting Wash Post. I checked, why would they push our content?  It was mainly parenting posts, home and gardening posts.  Looking at what is doing well for other pages.  Already know it's a good post.  

Q:  how exactly do you do your testing of whether things work, like how often to post?  
A:  Number of likes, shares.  I look at referrals coming in from FB.  

Q:  Change headlines for FB?
A:  We did in past, but lots of work.  Taught reporters to write better headlines from the beginning.  WP style has some weird things - Florida is FLA, which makes no sense on FB.  

Paying for distribution?  I don't do this, but I can talk to you about this later.  A lot of people work on paid social side.  Gone from "don't love it" but have become more accepting, as way to build certain communities, or verticals.  

A Great Facebook Post

Obama meets most powerful 2 year old.    

Great headline, short, Small curiosity gap.  
A clear and compelling image, maybe obscured
Clear invitation to click - curiosity gap headline, mentioning, but gap between what is there and what is on the other side of the link:  "here are the ways your city has eased up your parking rules."  What are they?

Text that serves up an expected emotion   - something that is fun, light, you want to click to participate and celebrate with everyone else.  

Q:  Text elements of FB post?  How do they need to work together.  See Obama Prince Image.

Title
Description
Image
OG code terms, you can use whatever you want.  
click bate - headline is like a product, always deliver on that product.  We cannot oversell a headline.  
Answer has to be in top of the story.  

MOVING ON TO SNAPCHAT

Snapchat wants to rule the world.  
Tier 1  FB, Twitter, Snapchat
Tier 2  Most everything else

3 major parts:

1.  Chat - messaging chat can type and video messages one to one or group
2. Story - totally different product, even tho same app, they see three parts, live stories, 
3. Discover - brands, super produced products



Settings - lots open and say, "what is going on?"
Drag Ion down

Added Me
Add Friends
My Friends

Add by username is simplest.  By snapcode interesting.  Boo-R code (ghost)

Stories - swipe left 
Chat  - swipe right

Why do things disappear? - 24 hour limit for stories.  People want to appear smart.  Something disappears is powerful, not preserved for ever.  Crazy weird on the fly.  Not forever.  

Lowering barriers to perfection.  See Instagram
What bad User Interface (UI) does for Snapchat.  - If you know how to use it, you're cool.  
No search, no share = discoverability nightmare  - need to know specific username
"Secret" features

Stories - once familiar with the elements.  Telling stories using regular snap stories.  
Average regular snap story.  India recognizes transgender status - pictures, first holy dip from WP

Example 2:  Seed vault - steps in pictures from outside, going down, there (capacity for 2.5 million)

Some accounts to follow

examples:  Washingtonpost (well, it's Ryan's company so he has to put it here)
ajenews,  thenytimes

local news:  the.oregonian

funny:  theflama, lacma (Los Angeles County Museum of Art artworks set to rap)

#brands:  everlane, tacobell

personalities:  juistinkan, snapatunde,  arnoldschnitzel

reporter:  djbdca

[I was going to put links here, but I'm not a Snapchat user, and as Ryan said, finding actual accounts is hard, intentionally, so people who can do it can feel like cool insiders.   I'm obviously not 'cool' in Snapchat's world.]

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ryan Kellett, Wash Post, What Works With on Online Readers

I'm at the Alaska Press Club annual conference - where I generally get out of my lone blogger cocoon, get stretched a bit, and once and a while get confirmation I'm doing some of the right things.

Ryan Kellett, the Audience and Engagement Editor at the Washington Post, got me stretching.  His talk was highly focused on the technical aspects I've stopped paying enough attention to.  It's the stuff about how to get people to pay attention, keeping audience, links, and other ways to engage the online reader.

This is a quick and dirty post, but I think the video will give you more of a sense of Ryan than a long outline of his talk.
 
So here's a brief overview he gave at the beginning and the video is below:

  • Who’s coming to my website? 
  •  How are they getting there 
  • Mobile Moble. Mobile. Mobile, Desktop 
  • What are you doing to serve your most loyal readers? First-timers? 
  • Article as a homepage 
  • What are you asking the reader for? 
  • How does your story look when prompted off-site? (This one he's going to cover at a different session.



As a blogger who doesn't have ads and doesn't really need to worry about traffic, it is good for me to hear about these things.  Of course, I pay attention to traffic, but it doesn't drive me.  I get to write what's interesting to me, but I'd like as many others who might share those interests to be able to find me easily.  So this got me to thinking about how to do that without spending too much time.  Ryan gave me lots to think about.  He's a dynamic speaker, so I thought it would be good to give you a bit of video from his presentation.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Anchorage Early Spring

As we flew back into Alaska yesterday, the mountains and glaciers of Southeast welcomed us.



And here's a photo of the Chugach that edge Anchorage.  If this were a painting, some folks would complain it was just patterns, but this is an undoctored photo.




AND, most amazing, here are the new leaves today on the birch tree out front.  It's April 21.  The earliest I ever remember fully budded leaves on the birch was around May 7.   Usually it wasn't until the end of May.  OK, I'm not sure about last year.  We were in LA with my mom about this time and there were leaves on the cottonwoods when we got back on May 13.  Then we headed for Denali where things weren't green yet.



When we got to Anchorage in 1977 we were told not to plant anything until June 1.  This year I put in sweet pea seeds on April 3, because over the years spring comes earlier and earlier.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Is My Struggle Book 1 A Reality Novel?

I ended my previous post on Karl Ove Knausgaard's book this way:
"I'm only on page 200 of the first book of this six volume set, so who knows where it will go?  It was a huge hit in Norway (he's Norwegian, but lives in Sweden)."
So now I'm on page 389.  It hit recently that this could be called a 'Reality Novel.'

It's like a written reality show.

The camera covers every minute detail.  We see everything that's happening.  But the novel form allows us to go inside the subject’s head in a way a reality tv show couldn't. That subject is also the author.

I was trying to figure out how we kept switching from one time and place to another and back again.  It feels like mid-sentence you start time traveling.  We’re in the present. In excruciating detail. Then suddenly we’re in the past and these jaunts into the past fill in the back story and also present us with observations about life, that usually are based on those details.

 And then we’re back in the present. So I think this is the pattern.

Here's an example, starting in the present:
 “As his steps receded on the staircase, I swung my feet onto the floor and grabbed my clothes from the chair. Looked down with displeasure at my stomach where two rolls of fat still protruded at the sides. Pinched my back, no excess flesh there yet, fortunately. Nevertheless, I would definitely have to start running when I got back to Bergen. And do sit-ups every morning. 
I held the T-shirt to my nose and sniffed. 
Hm, probably wouldn’t make another day.” 

 Karl Ove is at his grandmother’s house. He and his older brother slept in the attic, one of the few relatively clean rooms in the house.  They’re there for their father’s funeral. Karl Ove's father, whose  drinking and dementia led to the whole house becoming filthy and disgusting.

 The brothers are cleaning the house each day. Karl Ove goes into a discussion of cleaning products and their smells. Then slides into the past, then into smells in general, and infinity and meaning, before returning to the mundane present.

 “I filled the bucket with water, took a bottle of Klorin, a bottle of green soap and a bottle of Jif scouring cream and started on the banisters, which could not have been washed for a good five years. There were all sorts of filth between the stair-rods, disintegrated leaves, pebbles, dried-up insects, old spiderwebs. . . . Once a section was clean and had regained something of its old, dark golden color, I dunked another cloth in Klorin and kept scrubbing. The smell of the Klorin and the sight of the blue bottle took me back to the 1970s, to be more precise, to the cupboard under the kitchen sink where the detergents were kept. Jif didn’t exist then. Ajax washing powder did though, in a cardboard container: red, white, and blue. It was a green soap. . . . There was also a brand called OMO. And there was a packet of washing powder with a picture of a child holding the identical packet, and on that, of course, there was a picture of the same boy holding the same packet, and so on, and so on. Was it called Blenda? Whatever it was called, I often racked my brains over mise en abyme, which in principle of course was endless and also existed elsewhere, such as in the bathroom mirror by holding the mirror behind your head so that images of the mirrors were projected to and from while going farther and father back and becoming smaller and smaller as far as the eye could see. But what happened behind what the eye could see? Did the images carry on getting smaller and smaller? [italics added to show when we slip into the past.]
A whole world lay between the trademarks of then and now, and as I thought about them, their sounds and tastes and smells reappeared, utterly irresistible, as indeed everything you have lost, everything that has gone, always does. The smell of short, freshly watered grass when you are sitting on a soccer field one summer afternoon after training, the long shadows of motionless trees, the screams and laughter of children swimming in the lake on the other side of the road, the sharp yet sweet taste of the energy drink XL-1.  .  ." 

 He goes on about the taste of salt in the water, the feel of water dripping off the body as you pull yourself out of the water unto the rocks. And how those rocks are still there today, and the starfish and urchins are still under the water.  But it's not the same.
 “You could still buy Slazenger tennis rackets, Tretorn balls, and Rossignol skis, Tyrol bindings and Koflach boots. The houses where we lived were still standing, all of them. The sole difference, which is the difference between a child’s reality and an adult’s, was that they were no longer laden with meaning. A pair of Le Cock soccer boots was just a pair of soccer boots. If I felt anything when I hold a pair in my hands now it was only a hangover from m childhood, nothing else, nothing in itself. The same with the sea, the same with the rocks, the same with the taste of salt that could fill your summer days to saturation, now it was just salt, end of story. The world was the same, et it wasn’t for its meaning had been displaced and was still being displaced, approaching closer and closer to meaninglessness.” 
[Is that true?  It had meaning for children that no longer exists for an adult?  I can think of things that have meaning for adults that had no meaning when I was a kid.]

 And then, in the next sentence, we jump back into the present.
 “I wrung out the cloth, hung it from the edge of the bucket and studied the fruits of my labors. The gleam in the varnish had come to the fore although there was still a scattering of dark dirt stains as though etched into the wood. I suppose I must have done a third of the woodwork up to the first floor. Then there were the banisters and the railings to the third floor as well. . ."  [Italics show how we return to the present.]
With all that detail, you can understand why this is only Book 1 of six.  I think this one will be enough for me.  I have hung in there because this is a notable book.  Here's some background courtesy of Wikipedia:
"While Knausgård´s two first books were well received, it was with the six-volume Min Kamp series of autobiographical novels, published from 2009 to 2011 and totaling over 3,500 pages, that Knausgård became a household name in Norway, due to the books' large success as well as the controversy they raised.[2][4] The controversy was caused partly because the Norwegian title of the book, Min Kamp, is the same as the Norwegian title of Hitler's Mein Kampf, and partly because some have suggested Knausgård goes too far in exposing the private lives of his friends and family, including his ex-wife and grandmother. The books have nevertheless received almost universally favourable reviews, especially the first two volumes, and, even before the final book's publication, they were one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. In a country of fewer than five million people, the Min Kamp series has sold over 450,000 copies.[5]"
I came up with the notion of a 'reality novel' because I am still reading and I think much of the fascination comes simply from the 'camera' following this man and his family and friends.  I'm sure for many Norwegians, he's articulating things openly about the world his generation grew up in.

I just picked up Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, which my mother's neighbor had strongly recommended some time back and will be discussed at my next book club meeting..