Thursday, January 03, 2019

2019 Resolutions

2019 is upon us; I'm hoping it will be a bit less eventful than 2018.  It wasn't all bad -- I took two trips that delivered scenery I have only right to see once in a lifetime -- but it was essentially bookended by losing my father and a revolution in my workplace.  Mixed in there is the bittersweet pride of seeing one's offspring graduate from high school and proceed on to college.

New Year's resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep -- one is fighting entrenched behaviors -- but bringing in some external pressure might help.  So I'll make my two resolutions for the year very public: that I post here more regularly and that I read more non-fiction books to the end.  And the hope is that you, dear reader, if you meet me, feel free to pointedly inquire about my adherence.  Or hit me via Twitter!
Last year I wrote 36 posts, the fourthworst showing for a full year (and I had only 1 less in the two months and change I wrote in 2006).  It was three times as much as my nadir of 2014.  But more importantly, those posts were far too erratic in frequency -- July through October saw only two posts total, for example.  Now I had no shortage of excuses, a few of which were semi-valid.  There were two extended periods with poor or no internet access (which were also those two trips -- definitely worth that sacrifice).  But this year I want to generate at least a half plate of posts - 48 -- and also make sure I have four per month.  I won't attempt even spacing -- trying to be too clever in staging posts was yet another obstacle I threw in my path last year -- but four a month should be doable.  And this month should go easy -- I have this one, one post from last year to follow up, two interviews from last year that are overdue and my usual beginning-of-the-year platform speculation.  So there's five I should just knock out!

On the books, I've realized I've fallen into a terrible pattern -- I start non-fiction books but don't finish them.  The worst example last year is that one of those trips included fulfilling my long-held wish to hike Mann Gulch, but I failed to properly re-read Young Men and Fire before going there -- I certainly would have spent a little more time pondering some details if I had re-finished the book.  Leaving that one off, I have five books stalled out.  Simon Winchester's The Perfectionists is an amazing story of the development of precision machining; I'm one chapter shy there.  Same with The Silk Roads, an eye-opening history of the world told from the perspective of Central Asia.  Falling to Earth, the autobiography of Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, should have been finished before we went to a meet-and-greet with the author over a year ago.  A Mind At Play, a biography of Claude Shannon, is halfway through on my Kindle app.  And then there's Daniel Dennett's From Bacteria to Bach, which I started listening to during a long solo driving trip to Pennsylvania to help my mother fire up the probate machine (on the return is when I hit the Franklin Mining Museum, of which I hope I gave a sufficiently glowing review).  So that's five stalled out books that I've enjoyed so far.

I think one reason to publicly shame myself is feeling like I have slipped -- I've never cranked through one hundred good books the way Curious Wavefunction did last year (his reading list is astounding -- I really should sample some of it).  And there's also the piles of books on my bookshelf which were purchased in earnest but never read.

So again, please feel free to needle me either remotely or in person on my reading habits.  My goal is to read just a quarter plate -- 24 -- for two per month.  If I just read those last chapters of Winchester and Silk Roads, I'd have January done.  Of course, I'm already started on yet another book -- the updated edition of First Man chronicling Neil Armstrong's life. 

1 comment:

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I never manage to finish non-fiction books either—I can get through over 100 fantasy novels in a year, but one non-fiction book a year seems more than I can manage. The problem seems to be that the textbooks are dense (I've managed about 2/3 of a control theory book and half a mechatronics book in the past two years), and the trade books too repetitive—the entire content of most of the books I've tried to read on teaching could be contained in 20 pages.