about the title

You may wonder, why "Ideas and Iterates"?  I stole this from someone whose name I don't remember now who was interviewing for a position in the Department of Art at Mississippi State University (my wife was a member of the search committee).  His teaching philosophy was that students need to ideate and iterate.  That's clearly appropriate for students in the arts and humanities; indeed, brainstorming ideas and then refining them is the way to good results. But I assert that this philosophy is a good one for life.  I have lots of ideas.  Some of them I discard immediately, dismissing them as silly or useless.  Some of them stick, though.  Occasionally I'll get lucky and the first draft works; more often, however, I have to overhaul, tweak, and refine until I get it right. 

Once a person stops working this way, though, it's over.  So my advice to all of you:  ideate and iterate.

(Here's an unrelated parenthetical remark.  When I typed the word "occasionally" above I had to pause to make sure it was correct (it is, by the way).  I'm a very good speller (I even won the Northwest Junior High School spelling bee in 8th grade), but every now and then a word looks completely foreign.  Here's my favorite online resource for looking up words: Wordnik. One of the creators is a very smart woman named Erin McKean, who I happen to know from high school. She's a self-styled "dictionary evangelist" and loves all things related to words and their meanings. Wordnik is an interesting site in that it not only gives you definitions and pronunciations, it also gives real-time examples (via twitter, for example) of how the word is being used now. There are also statistical analyses of how often words get used and how that has changed over time. I encourage you to check it out.)