This was another good reading year, not a new record for quanity, but my second highest since beginning to keep track in 2010. Granted, it squeaked into that position because I counted one children's picture book (King Ron of the Triceratops), but it was my son-in-law's first published book, so it deserved no less.

Looking at the chronological list (which has rankings, warnings, and review links), you can pretty much tell the months that we were travelling overseas. There was no month in which I read zero books, but some had only one or two. Summer was my best time for reading: over half the books fell into July, August, and September.

Here's the alphbetical list. Once again, I'm pleased with the variety, even though it's pretty heavy on George MacDonald because of my goal of reading all of his books in order over a period of three years. Titles in bold I found particularly worthwhile.

  1. The Bible (Holman Christian Standard Bible version)
  2. The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith
  3. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
  4. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers
  5. The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  6. Cure by Jo Marchant
  7. Daughter of Liberty by Edna Boutwell
  8. Dere Mable by E. Streeter
  9. A Dish of Orts by George MacDonald
  10. Donal Grant by George MacDonald
  11. Early Tales of the Atomic Age by Daniel Lang
  12. The Elect Lady by George MacDonald
  13. Ember Falls by S. D. Smith
  14. Far Above Rubies by George MacDonald
  15. The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead
  16. The Flight of the Shadow by George MacDonald
  17. George MacDonald: 365 Readings by C. S. Lewis
  18. The Green Ember by S. D. Smith
  19. Guild Court by George MacDonald
  20. Heather and Snow by George MacDonald
  21. Hidden Secrets Revealed by Wallace M. Campbell
  22. Hiroshima by John Hersey
  23. Hiroshima Diary by Dr. Michihoko Hachiya
  24. The History of the Renaissance World by Susan Wise Bauer
  25. Home Again by George MacDonald
  26. The Hope of the Gospel by George MacDonald
  27. Into the Atomic Age edited by Sholto Watt
  28. King Ron of the Triceratops by S. S. Paulson
  29. The Light Princess and other Fairy Stories by George MacDonald
  30. Lilith A (first draft of Lilith) by George MacDonald
  31. Lilith by George MacDonald
  32. The Lion of St. Mark by G. A. Henty
  33. The Lion of St. Mark by G. A. Henty (re-read after visiting Venice)
  34. Main-Travelled Roads by Hamlin Garland
  35. Mark and Livy by Resa Willis
  36. Men of Science, Men of God by Henry M. Morris
  37. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
  38. The New Testament (King James version)
  39. Old Granny Fox by Thornton W. Burgess
  40. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  41. Poetical Works, Volume 1 by George MacDonald
  42. Poetical Works, Volume 2 by George MacDonald
  43. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  44. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
  45. The Road to Character by David Brooks
  46. A Rough Shaking by George MacDonald
  47. Salted with Fire by George MacDonald
  48. Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins by James Runcie
  49. Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie
  50. Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil by James Runcie
  51. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
  52. Stephen Archer and Other Tales by George MacDonald
  53. There and Back by George MacDonald
  54. They're Your Kids by Sam Sorbo
  55. The Tragedie of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, a study by George MacDonald
  56. The Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
  57. Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers
  58. Unspoken Sermons Series II by George MacDonald
  59. Unspoken Sermons Series III by George MacDonald
  60. The Village on the Edge of the World by A. T. Oram
  61. Weighed and Wanting by George MacDonald
  62. What's Mine's Mine by George MacDonald
  63. What's Wrong with the World by G. K. Chesterton
  64. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers
  65. Wild Animals I have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton
  66. Will Rogers (Hallmark)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 6, 2017 at 6:09 am | Edit
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My 95 by 65 swimming goal was very modest:  Swim five miles, and brachiate one mile.  The reason brachiation was part of the swimming goal will be more obvious when you see the ladder configuration, here demonstrated by some neophytes who are much more fun to watch than I am.

I didn't officially start till July of this year, when I realized that both travel and winter weather would take away a large chunk of the months remaining till my 65th birthday and I'd better pay attention to this goal.  But as of yesterday, I'm up to 5.4 swimming miles and 1.3 brachiating.  More important, I've established a daily habit: eleven laps (0.1 miles) of the pool, and six of the ladder (0.025 miles).  Little steps add up over time!

Now we'll see how long the habit lasts, as the water temperature drops.  Thanks to my encouraging daughters, who gave me the new perspective, when I do stop for the winter I will not think of the habit as broken, but rather seasonal, ready to begin again in warmer weather.  After all, one does not consider the "skiing habit" broken just because the skis are put away at the end of winter!

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 6:15 am | Edit
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I've gotten accustomed to my phone popping up menus of the restaurant at which I've just taken a seat, and reviews of the attraction I'm visiting. It reminds me if I've missed a DuoLingo workout, and if I'm behind in my Bible reading plan. I'm no longer shocked when I'm in Switzerland and search results start coming back to me in German.

Mostly I find all that helpful.  Sometimes I think my devices know too much about me.

But they don't know everything.  This afternoon I was using my phone when it rang a loud notification alarm, which turned out to be from my Kindle app, which pleaded, "Please come back; we've missed you."

And from what work did that notification distract me?  Reading a book.  A Kindle book.  On my phone's Kindle app.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Edit
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Many of you know that we recently returned from a two-week trip to the Gambia, that tiny country within Senegal in West Africa.  Since I never fully appreciate an experience until I've written about it, I've started a new category here, in which I'll put both travel memories and Gambia-inspired musings.  Expect it to be rather random; if I wait to get it all organized I'll have forgotten too much.  (Lots of thinking to do, many activities, and over 1600 photos.) In the meantime, here's some background.

After a couple of false starts some 45 years ago, I finally found a college roommate who became a friend for life.  (Realize that in those dark ages, even smokers and non-smokers were often paired up to live together!)  Kathy went on to get a Ph.D. in mathematics and enjoy a long career as a university professor with a well-deserved reputation as an excellent and caring teacher.  Several years ago she embarked on a different sort of adventure altogether, and is now a math professor (and department chair) at the University of the Gambia, with an even stronger reputation for both excellence and caring.  She's not there for the adventure (although there is plenty of that), nor for the salary (meagre), and certainly not for the working conditions, but to make a difference in the world.  Yes, she's a saint, a fact of which I'm all the more convinced since our visit.  (You can ignore this part, Kathy, assuming your flaky Internet connection lets you see it.  You and I both know you're still the crazy person I knew back in college.) Perhaps it's more useful—since labelling people as saints tends to put them out of reach—to say that she's a Christian called by God to use her skills and experience in an unusual place. However you look at it, she's there, and is making a difference.  The world, Africa, the Gambia, even the University—these are too large to exhibit visible change.  But without a doubt she has for a number of years been changing the lives of families and individuals for the better.

However, despite the University's state of denial, she won't be in the Gambia forever.  Hence our determination to seize the year (and the presence of this trip on my 95 by 65 list).  The only reasonable time to make the trip was in January, which is during the dry season and between semesters for Kathy.  Coming during the dry season turns out to be very, very important: the weather, though still hot (90's) is much more pleasant, the mosquitos are much less numerous, and transportation tends to be through a few inches of dust instead of a foot or more of garbage-and-water. Definitely the time to go!

alt

So we went.

Some people travel for adventure.  Others for the educational and cultural growth.  As much as I value the latter, the primary importance of travel for me is still being with family and friends—and specifically, seeing them in their native habitat, as it were, so that their stories and experiences have more meaning when I hear them from far away.  The educational experiences are a great bonus thrown in, and on this trip we even had a few adventures.

Stay tuned.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 11:32 am | Edit
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2015 turned out to be a good year for reading:  I set a new record (since I begain to keep track in 2010):  72 books, on average six books per month.  The smallest number of books read per month was two, which occurred in both June and August; between those two months, July had the most:  eleven.  By some standards that's not a lot of reading, but it's a good deal more than I was accomplishing before I made reading a priority, and started measuring.

Here's the list, sorted alphabetically.  A chronological listing, with rankings, warnings, and review links, is here.  It's a good mixture of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry; old books and new; short books and tomes.  I enjoyed most of them, and regret none.Titles in bold I found particularly worthwhile.

  1. 1066 and All That by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman
  2. Artemis Fowl (Book 1) by Eoin Colfer
  3. Artemis Fowl (Book 2): The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
  4. Artemis Fowl (Book 3): The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
  5. Artemis Fowl (Book 4): The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
  6. The Bible
  7. The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman
  8. The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith
  9. A Book of Strife, in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald
  10. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  11. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  13. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
  14. England's Antiphon by George MacDonald
  15. Exotics by George MacDonald
  16. Food Foolish by John M. Mandyck and Eric B. Schultz
  17. Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill by Gretchen Rubin
  18. The Gambia in Depth by the Peace Corps
  19. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Ben Carson with Cecil Murphey
  20. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
  21. Gutta-Percha Willie by George MacDonald
  22. It All Started with Columbus by Richard Armour
  23. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey
  24. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  25. The Kids from Nowhere by George Guthridge
  26. Legally Kidnapped by Carlos Morales
  27. Life of Fred: Goldfish by Stanley F. Schmidt
  28. Life of Fred: Honey by Stanley F. Schmidt
  29. Life of Fred: Ice Cream by Stanley F. Schmidt
  30. Life of Fred: Jelly Beans by Stanley F. Schmidt
  31. Life of Fred: Kidneys by Stanley F. Schmidt
  32. Life of Fred: Liver by Stanley F. Schmidt
  33. Life of Fred: Mineshaft by Stanley F. Schmidt
  34. Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra with Biology by Stanley F. Schmidt
  35. Love Does by Bob Goff
  36. Malcolm by George MacDonald (much Scottish dialect)
  37. Malestrom by Carolyn Custis James
  38. Manjiro by Hisakazu Kaneko
  39. The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson
  40. The Marquis of Lossie by George MacDonald (some Scottish dialect)
  41. The Martian by Andy Weir
  42. Mary Marston by George MacDonald
  43. The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks
  44. Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome
  45. Paul Faber, Surgeon by George MacDonald
  46. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
  47. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
  48. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
  49. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
  50. Pioneer Days by Laura Ingalls Wilder, annotations by Pamela Smith Hill
  51. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
  52. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  53. The Qur'an translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem
  54. St. George and St. Michael by George MacDonald
  55. The Second Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  56. The SHARP Solution by Heidi Hanna
  57. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
  58. The Six Fingers of Time and Other Stores from Galaxy Magazine
  59. Sir Gibbie by George MacDonald
  60. The Story of Western Science by Susan Wise Bauer
  61. Stiff by Mary Roach
  62. Thomas Wingfold, Curate by George MacDonald
  63. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  64. Tremendous Trifles by G. K. Chesterton
  65. The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal
  66. The Village on the Edge of the World by A.T. Oram
  67. Warlock o' Glenwarlock by George MacDonald
  68. Weathermakers to the World by Eric B. Schultz
  69. West Africa Is My Back Yard: Ex-Pat Life in The Gambia and Beyond (Part I: Where on Earth is The Gambia Anyway?) by Mark Williams
  70. Wilfred Cumbermede by George MacDonald
  71. The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum
  72. The Wise Woman by George MacDonald
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, January 10, 2016 at 7:32 am | Edit
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Category Education: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] 95 by 65: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

I've reached the end of the first year of my 2.5-year 95 by 65 project, and I'm thrilled.  It has given structure and focus to my work, helped me set priorities, and provided joy in activities that I have in the past seen as distractions.

In 2015, I completed 25 of my 95 goals.  Others I'm well on the way to finishing, and still others I haven't even started.  Some of those I completed were one-time events:  check it off, done!  The completion of most, however, hasn't gained me any time, since it has been the catalyst for creating new habits.  That's a good thing:  it's part of the point behind the 95 by 65 project.  But hasn't left a vacuum to fill with work on the remaining goals.

If there's any downside to this project, it's that I have enough other goals to create a new 95 list.  Some of them need to be done anyway, even if they're not on the list.  The others I'm thinking of accumulating on an overflow list.  I don't want to distract myself from working on this one, but after all, Goal #31 is "Create another goal-oriented project for when this one is over."

Completed  In Progress

    To Live
  1. Create 95 by 65 list—Completed 1/24/15
  2. Create the Leon Project—Completed 1/12/15
  3. Create/tweak/finalize/codify 60 family recipes
  4. Develop and sustain a system for making bread regularly [I know what to do, and have all the equipment, but need to make it a habit.]
  5. Develop and sustain a system for making yoghurt regularly [Again, I know what to do, and have all the equipment, but need to make it a habit.]
  6. Experiment with making kefir
  7. Finish Janet's birthday 2009 recipe book
  8. Go through all recipe books, digitizing what looks good, getting rid of all but essentials/favorites
  9. Complete a biking challenge (details to come)
  10. Complete a swimming challenge (details to come)
  11. Walk/run the equivalent of home to Hillsboro, NH—Completed 12/16/15 [But I haven't stopped; I'm now working on the much longer trip to Emmenbrücke, Switzerland.]
  12. Design 5 Life Playground stations [I'm nearly done with this, it just needs some tweaking.]
  13. Develop a stretching plan and execute at least 3x/week for a month
  14. Execute 50 pushups nonstop on the higher bar at the park [This was sidelined by an injury, but I'm slowly coming back.]
  15. Find a GPS distance tracker that works for me—Completed 11/11/15
  16. Practice deliberate relaxation twice a day for a month—Completed 5/16/15.  [Frustration:  This is definitely a habit worth keeping.  But I lost it in June, during my month in Switzerland, and haven't managed to reclaim it.  My hope is to revive the habit in 2016.]
  17. Reach my desired weight goal [Ever. So. Slowly.  Not giving up.]
  18. Run nonstop 3 times around the park trail then participate in a 5K race (any speed) [Barring injury, I should be ready for the 5K soon.  I could probably do it now, but have some other interim goals I want to meet first.]
  19. Declutter and organize phone
  20. Declutter blog template files
  21. Declutter computer
  22. Declutter garage
  23. Declutter marked items in Janet's room
  24. Declutter my office
  25. Declutter our filing cabinets (with Porter)
  26. Declutter sewing supplies
  27. Develop a quick system for travel prep and packing
  28. Recycle collected ink cartridges [I know this looks easy, but I'm trying to do it in a way that I use the credit I get for recycling them.  I miss the easy 1 cartridge = 1 ream of paper days!]
  29. Research and purchase food processor—Completed 1/30/15.
  30. Set up identification system for files to grab in an emergency
  31. Create another goal-oriented project for when this one is over
  32. Create an herb garden
  33. Get a working back porch sink

  34. To Love
  35. Attend 15 live performances (e.g. music, drama, lectures) [Just one more to go!]
  36. Convert our Christmas card system to postal + e-mail—Completed 12/5/15
  37. Refrain from negative speech for 1 day. Do this 30 times. (Since sometimes negative things must be said, this will include recasting negative things in a neutral or positive tone.)  [This is so much harder than you'd think.  I've managed six days so far.  It has at least increased my awareness, helped me clarify what I really mean by "negative," and inspired me to hold my tongue on occasion.]
  38. Share at least 20 meals with others (home or restaurant, but not counting multi-day visits or shared meals already in place)—Completed 8/13/15 [But of course this continues.]
  39. Try at least 5 new restaurants—Completed 4/10/15  [Clearly I set this goal 'way too low; I'm up to 18 now.]
  40. Visit Universal/IoA four times—Completed 5/15/15  [Dr. Doom's Fear Fall, fish & chips and butterbeer!  We did not renew our passes, but were then inspired to get annual passes to Disney World for this year.]
  41. Watch NCIS LA from the beginning—Completed 10/23/15
  42. Watch Unbroken—Completed 4/24/15.  [Worth watching, though it doesn't do justice to the book.]
  43. Join in the choir trip to Austria [This had been planned for 2015, but fell through. Will it happen at all?]
  44. Visit a country I've never been to
  45. Visit a state I've never been to—Completed 4/9/15.  [Missouri—St. Louis.  Great visit with family.  New museums, new restaurants, and a genealogy breakthrough.]
  46. Visit with all immediate family members at least once per year [Complete for 2015.]
  47. Visit Arizona
  48. Visit either Costa Rica or the Gambia
  49. Visit King Arthur Flour—Completed 2/12/15
  50. Keep up a 10 posts/month blogging schedule for 20 months (not necessarily consecutive) [Modified from "two posts/week" to make record keeping easier.  Twelve months complete so far (60%).]
  51. Send at least 4 care packages to each of our freshman nephews [25% done]
  52. Write an encouraging note each month to someone other than family  [12/12 so far.  This turns out to be one of the more challenging goals, not because it's hard to write the notes, but because I have to remember before the end of each month.  I didn't give myself any leeway with this one.]
  53. Write at least 10 letters to political officeholders  [Only one so far.]
  54. Write at least 5 notes of encouragement to each nephew
  55. Write at least 75 physical letters to children/grandchildren
  56. Join Google+—Completed 12/10/15
  57. Join Twitter—Completed 2/9/15
    To Learn
  1. Finish chronological Bible reading plan—Completed 7/29/15
  2. Start and complete other daily Bible reading plans—Completed 11/25/15 [I'm currently on my fifth plan (of varying lengths) since beginning this project.]
  3. Achieve 40,000 DuoLingo points (average 1,000/month, split between French and German)—I'm 'way ahead of schedule on this one—Completed 11/3/15  [This was successful in establishing the habit; I'm now over 45,000 points.]
  4. Listen to all of Pimsleur German I—Completed 5/30/15  [The next step is German II, but I haven't started yet.]
  5. Complete George MacDonald reading plan (50 books, 14 completed in 2014)  [60% done]
  6. Read 130 books (new or old, print or audio, any level)  [55% done]
  7. Read 26 existing but as yet unread books from my bookshevles  [35% done]
  8. Read The History of the Renaissance World
  9. Read the Koran—Completed 4/14/15
  10. Complete 100 Great Courses lectures—Completed 12/30/15
  11. Experience all 37 of Shakespeare's plays (attend, watch, and/or read)  [30% done]
  12. Learn sufficient Javascript and/or jquery to know if it will work for creating my GTC website
  13. Make 30 museum visits  [40% done]
  14. Set and attain BrainHQ goal
  15. Set and attain Khan Academy goal
  16. Set and attain Memrise goal
  17. Set and attain Sporcle goal

  18. To Leave a Legacy
  19. Copy LPs to CDs
  20. Copy tapes to CDs  [Porter is working on this]
  21. Convert WRL memorial PPT to video
  22. Complete conversion of bits PPTs to videos
  23. Create 20 new GTC shows
  24. Create a form of GTC independent of YouTube and useable offline
  25. Create scent bits
  26. Make new family bits (was just "for Heather," but now Janet needs some, too)
  27. Print bit back labels for Heather
  28. Genealogy:  clean up, expand, and document the lines I currently have in my family tree
  29. Enter unentered genealogy data
  30. Publish revised editions of Honor Enough volumes 1-4
  31. Rocket boost genealogy work by end of January 2015 (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)—Completed 2/1/15 [I made great progress, but I need to make a habit of steady progress.]
  32. Update Phoebe's Quilt and print in "final" form
  33. Create one photo album with Picaboo
  34. Digitize photos
  35. Digitize slides
  36. Organize photos 2007-2011 (subgroups 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  37. Organize photos 2012-2016 (subgroups 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)  [I've done most of 2015 and a good part of 2014 so far.]
  38. Research and purchase scanner suitable for prints and slides
  39. Rocket boost photo work (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)—Completed 8/29/15  [As with the genealogy, I made great progress, but I need to make a habit of steady progress.]
  40. Make (at least) 2 baby blankets—Completed 5/14/15.  [Two new grandbabies!  Hooray!]

Onward to 2016!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 6:34 am | Edit
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Having finished YouVersion's Cell Rule of Optina read-through of the New Testament by Thanksgiving, and planning to start a new chronological plan at the end of the year, I wanted something short to take me through Christmas.  I chose Before the Cross:  the Life of Jesus, which was billed this way:  "This 80 day reading plan takes you through the four Gospels, in chronological order, walking through the life of Jesus from His birth to His ascension into Heaven."  That's almost true, though they did leave out some of the less action-oriented passages.  I easily compressed the 80 days into one month.

I also switched versions of the Bible for this reading.  My favorite versions are either the old New International Version or the old Revised Standard Version, neither of which is often accessible in online form.  I had been using the English Standard Version on my phone, which is a little modern for me but not bad.  This time I decided to try the New King James Version.  I'd heard a lot of positive talk about the NKJV, but I was not impressed.  I was expecting a reworking of the beautiful-but-outdated King James Version that takes into account all we've learned in the field of Bible scholarship since the early 1600's.  Maybe it's not outdated anymore, I don't know—but I do know it's no longer beautiful.  Why produce yet another Bible stripped of its poetic language?  We had plenty of those already.

Now that I've finished the Before the Cross plan, I've committed to another year-long chronological plan.  Not the chronological plan I started with; that was a great one, but why not try another one, since there isn't completely agreement on chronology?  This is called Reading God's Story: One-Year Chronological Plan, and this time I've chosen to use the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

I'm still gung-ho about the YouVersion system.  Granted, most of their reading plans are not what I'm looking for (too short, too slow, too embellished, too disjointed), but I still find what I need.  And having it right there, on my phone, easy to access, easy to keep track of—priceless.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Edit
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Category Everyday Life: [first] [previous] [next] [newest] 95 by 65: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

My 95 by 65 Goal #11 was initially a "to be decided later" walking challenge.  Yesterday I decided it was about time I set that up, and determined that it would be fun to aim for the distance between here and our family in New Hampshire.  The "crow flies" distance is 1130 miles.  Since the middle of 2014 I've been letting my phone keep track of the steps I've taken (walking or running).  That's only if I have the phone on me, so the recorded numbers are lower than my actual steps, but quite good enough for this purpose.

The app keeps track of the raw data, but not in a form useful for "walking to New Hampshire," so today I set up a spreadsheet to analyze the data, starting from the beginning of this year, and keep track of my progress as I head for the goal.

SURPRISE!  I'm already there!  I arrived two days ago.

It blows me away to realize how much I've walked in under a year.  I guess small steps do make for great progress over time.

Continuing the trip to "visit" our other grandkids adds 3747 "crow files" miles and involves walking on water.  I guess I'd better get going!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 11:09 am | Edit
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Category 95 by 65: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

On the face of it, July - September was a slow quarter for my 95 by 65 project.  I completely only three goals in the three-month period:

  • #57 Finish chronological Bible reading plan
  • #37 Share at least 20 meals with others (home or restaurant, but not counting multi-day visits more than once or shared meals already in place)
  • #94 Rocket boost photo work (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over approximately 2 weeks)

To complete my goals by age 65, I need to average slightly over three goals per month, not per quarter.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I'm still not worried.  Not by the numbers, anyway, because I know I'm making progress on many goals that by their nature take a long time to complete.

I do, however, continue to be ever-cognizant of the preciousness of time.  When I look at the imposing quantity of time necessary for some of my projects, and watch the calendar on my phone tick over another day with such relentless frequency, it's hard to shake a minor but persistent panic.  I'm keep in mind the following quote from George MacDonald, but have yet to succeed in working it out in my daily life:

He that believes shall not make haste.  There is plenty of time.  You must not imagine that the result depends on you, or me.  The question is, are you having a hand in the work God is doing?  It shows no faith in God to make frantic efforts or lamentations.  God will do his work in his time in his way.  Our responsibility is merely to stand ready and available and to go where he sends us and do what comes our way.

Another problem is that crossing goals off my list doesn't necessarily cross them out of my daily life.  Completing my "try new restaurants" goal doesn't mean we stop going out to eat, and finishing one Bible reading plan merely means beginning another.  Recently I completed Goal #65 Achieve 40,000 DuoLingo points.  Yet that completion won't gain me any time, at least I hope not, because I'm finding the DuoLingo lessons both enjoyable and valuable and plan to continue the work.  I can't let that suffer the fate of #16 Practice deliberate relaxation twice a day for a month, which did me so much good I intended to keep up the practice after meeting the goal, but....  I do intend to restart it, I do.

I have always disliked the "bucket list" idea.  I'm not sure why; perhaps my deep-seated anxiety about time as a limited resource rebels at the name—as yet another, mocking, reminder.  The 95 by 65 list serves me well as a way to achieve the concentrated attention of a bucket list with a more immediate and optimistic focus.

Onward!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 6, 2015 at 7:22 am | Edit
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My 95 by 65 Goal #58 is "Start and keep up with other daily Bible reading plan(s)" (after completing the Chronological Plan on YouVersion).  Yesterday I finished their 30-day Gospels Plan.  Of course it was good to read through the Gospels, but that particular plan I don't plan to use again.  Each day it had me reading one chapter from each of Matthew, Luke, and John, adding in Mark after John finished.  If it had been coordinated in such a way that I read on the same day each Gospel's version of the same events, I think I would have loved it.  But as it was, the jumping around damaged the flow of the narratives.

Today I began the 89-day Cell Rule of Optina Plan, which covers the entire New Testament.  This, too, is broken up, each day reading one chapter from a Gospel and two from the rest of the New Testament, but at least the two sections are each done in order.  I'm hoping that the fact that they're different types of books will make the reading seem less disjointed.  But I still wonder why I can't find a simple, straight-through-the-New-Testament sequence on YouVersion, not embellished with commentary or stretched out over too many months.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 7:20 am | Edit
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Yesterday I completed my 95 by 65 Goal #57:  Finish chronological Bible reading plan.  Ever since I read a review copy of The Chronological Guide to the Bible (five years ago), I've wanted to read the Bible through in the approximate order of the events.  There isn't complete agreement among scholars on the details of the order, but "approximate" is good enough for me.  I've made various stabs at the project over the years, and even put the information from the Guide onto a bookmark—actually a set of bookmarks—to help me jump from place to place in my Bible correctly.  It shouldn't have been that hard, but flipping back and forth and keeping track of where I was and where I was going next was just enough of a pain that my efforts kept petering out.  Pitiful, I know, but the point of this post is not to talk about my failures, but my success at last.

What turned the tide was the YouVersion Bible app on my phone.  They have a gazillion reading plans, most of which are not interesting to me, but one of them is set up to lead the reader through the entire Bible, chronologically, in one year.  I owe a lot of thanks to our friend Christina S., who first introduced me to YouVersion, because I found this plan to be great!

The plan does all the work—except, of course, for the reading itself.  Every day they send a notification to your phone:  click on the notification and it takes you right to the plan.  Click on the next day's reading and boom, there you are, at the right place in the Bible of your choice (they have lots to choose from).  The end of one reading takes you directly to the next, until you've completed all the chapters for that day.  You get a nice little congratulatory note, then close the app.  Repeat every day for a year.  Or, if you fall behind at any point, there's a catch-up function that shifts the plan dates for you.  I took advantage of that once, in the beginning, but once I got the habit established, I found it easy to keep up.  Really, the app makes it simple—easy enough that even in especially busy times I managed to squeeze the reading in.  Because, as I said, it was right there, waiting for me.  The folks at YouVersion, though I doubt they've ever heard of Glenn Doman, remind me of his saying that one of the secrets of the success of his educational and therapeutic programs is, "we arrange for the child to win."  The YouVersion app arranged for me to win, and I did.

I loved the chronological path through the Bible, especially seeing how various events fit together, and reading one after the other the passages that are parallel but not identical.  I came through the process with a much stronger feeling of the integrity of the Bible as the record of real people living their lives in the context of real history and culture, and of God revealed:  gradually and progressively, though still imperfectly, through that record.  Perhaps the feeling was stronger because of the contrast I experienced while reading through the Qur'an at the same time.

The chronological plan was so enjoyable that I'm sure I'll do it again, but at the moment I feel it's better to mix things up a bit.  I'm sticking with the YouVersion app and their plans, however.  Today I started a 30-day reading of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), one that covers every word but weaves together the events from the different books.  As I said, I'm not interested in most of the YouVersion plans—many of them are "devotional," with more to read than just the Bible.  Scholarly commentary I would be interested in, but just some random person's thoughts?  Not so much.  Yet there are still some plans with straight Scripture to try out, and the chronological plan to return to.  I'm thrilled that the YouVersion people have arranged for this child to win.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 11:06 pm | Edit
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I'm still pleased with the progress I'm making toward my 95 by 65 goals, though what remains to be done in two years is intimidating.  I've completed 14 goals in the first six months, an average of 2.3/month, which is behind the needed average of 3.17/month.  I console myself that I've made significant progress toward several other goals, but with the sobering reminder that many of the more time-consuming and difficult goals have not yet been touched.

I still love the 95 by 65 idea, or 101 Things in 1001 Days (which was my inspiration), or any form of setting goals over time.  It helps me keep track of what I've done, it helps me organize what I do, and it helps me focus my efforts.  It also shows me where other people are "on my team," and gives me a much-needed boost in directions I might otherwise neglect.  I feel somewhat ridiculous about the last:  I shouldn't need encouragement to respond with enthusiasm when my husband suggests we try a new restaurant, or when friends from out of state (or country) invite us to visit them.  But it turns out that for me, "it's on the list" has enormous power to counteract the nagging voices of "it's too expensive," "I don't have time for that," "it's too much work," and "there are more urgent tasks that demand my attention."  Maybe all of those naysaying voices are correct—one reason it's important to populate one's list with care—but I love that the list liberates me to enjoy the activities, enthusiastically and without feeling guilty.

Completed  In Progress

    To Live
  1. Create 95 by 65 list—Completed 1/24/15
  2. Create the Leon Project—Completed 1/12/15
  3. Create/tweak/finalize/codify 60 family recipes
  4. Develop and sustain a system for making bread regularly
  5. Develop and sustain a system for making yoghurt regularly
  6. Experiment with making kefir
  7. Finish Janet's birthday 2009 recipe book
  8. Go through all recipe books, digitizing what looks good, getting rid of all but essentials/favorites
  9. Complete a biking challenge (details to come)
  10. Complete a swimming challenge (details to come)
  11. Complete a walking challenge (details to come)
  12. Design 5 Life Playground stations
  13. Develop a stretching plan and execute at least 3x/week for a month
  14. Execute 50 pushups nonstop on the higher bar at the park—I've been stuck at 10 for quite a while due to injury
  15. Find a GPS distance tracker that works for me
  16. Practice deliberate relaxation twice a day for a month—Completed 5/16/15.  This is worth keeping.  I lost the habit during my month in Switzerland, but don't anticipate any problems picking it up again, now that I feel the value of it.
  17. Reach my desired weight goal
  18. Run nonstop 3 times around the park trail then participate in a 5K race (any speed)—I'm making good progress here, having reached the 3 times around interim goal on 5/30/15.  But I'm not quite ready for the 5K, not only because the park circuit is not quite a mile, but because I need to build back up after scaling back (but not eliminating!) while I was in Switzerland.
  19. Declutter and organize phone
  20. Declutter blog template files
  21. Declutter computer
  22. Declutter garage
  23. Declutter marked items in Janet's room
  24. Declutter my office
  25. Declutter our filing cabinets (with Porter)
  26. Declutter sewing supplies
  27. Develop a quick system for travel prep and packing
  28. Recycle collected ink cartridges—I know this looks easy, but I'm trying to do it in a way that I use the credit I get for recycling them.  I miss the easy 1 cartridge = 1 ream of paper days!
  29. Research and purchase food processor—Completed 1/30/15.  I need to use it more, but I like it.  Very nice for making pie crust, as I learned from Heather.
  30. Set up identification system for files to grab in an emergency
  31. Create another goal-oriented project for when this one is over
  32. Create an herb garden
  33. Get a working back porch sink

  34. To Love
  35. Attend 15 live performances (e.g. music, drama, lectures)—60% done
  36. Convert our Christmas card system to postal + e-mail
  37. Refrain from negative speech for 1 day. Do this 30 times. (Since sometimes negative things must be said, this will include recasting negative things in a neutral or positive tone.)
  38. Share at least 20 meals with others (home or restaurant, but not counting multi-day visits or shared meals already in place)—65% done
  39. Try at least 5 new restaurants—Completed 4/10/15.  Clearly I set this goal 'way too low, since I'm up to 9 so far and anticipate many more.
  40. Visit Universal/IoA four times—Completed 5/15/15.  Dr. Doom's Fear Fall, fish & chips and butterbeer! No need to renew the annual passes anytime soon, but it was fun while they lasted.
  41. Watch NCIS LA from the beginning—We're up to Season 4 (2012)
  42. Watch Unbroken—Completed 4/24/15.  Worth watching, though it doesn't do justice to the book.
  43. Join in the choir trip to Austria
  44. Visit a country I've never been to
  45. Visit a state I've never been to—Completed 4/9/15.  Missouri (St. Louis).  Great visit with NM&B.  New museums, new restaurants, and a genealogy breakthrough.
  46. Visit with all immediate family members at least once per year (I changed "visit" to "visit with"; it doesn't have to be at their homes)—I've completed all but 4 so far for 2015, including the international visit.
  47. Visit Arizona
  48. Visit either Costa Rica or the Gambia
  49. Visit King Arthur Flour—Completed 2/12/15
  50. Keep up a 10 posts/month blogging schedule for 20 months (not necessarily consecutive)Modified from "two posts/week" to make record keeping easier.  30% done
  51. Send at least 4 care packages to each of our freshman nephews
  52. Write an encouraging note each month to someone other than family—6/6 so far.  This turns out to be one of the more challenging goals, not because it's hard to write the notes, but because I have to remember before the end of each month.  I didn't give myself any leeway with this one.
  53. Write at least 10 letters to political officeholders—Only one so far...I need to get on this.
  54. Write at least 5 notes of encouragement to each nephew
  55. Write at least 75 physical letters to children/grandchildren—10 so far
  56. Join Google+—I have an invitation; I just need to do it...
  57. Join Twitter—Completed 2/9/15.  I don't use it much, but enjoy checking the feed now and then, and even used it to send one of the encouraging notes (goal #51).

  58. To Learn
  59. Finish chronological Bible reading plan—Almost there; 94% done.
  60. Start and complete other daily Bible reading plans
  61. Achieve 40,000 duolingo points (average 1,000/month, split between French and German)—I'm 'way ahead of schedule on this one, 64% complete
  62. Listen to all of Pimsleur German I—Completed 5/30/15.  I recently acquired German II, so I'll move on to that when I get it converted to a form I can listen to on my phone.
  63. Complete George MacDonald reading plan (50 books, 14 completed in 2014)—52% done
  64. Read 130 books (new or old, print or audio, any level)—29% done
  65. Read 26 existing but as yet unread books from my bookshevles—12% done.  This is so much harder than you'd think, because there are so many new, interesting books that come to my attention.
  66. Read The History of the Renaissance World
  67. Read the Koran—Completed 4/14/15
  68. Complete 100 Great Courses lectures (Measured by lecture rather than course because some courses are longer than others, and so I can count free lectures they sometimes offer.)—46% done
  69. Experience all 37 of Shakespeare's plays (attend, watch, and/or read)—16% done
  70. Learn sufficient Javascript and/or jquery to know if it will work for creating my GTC website
  71. Make 30 museum visits—23% done
  72. Set and attain BrainHQ goal
  73. Set and attain Khan Academy goal
  74. Set and attain Memrise goal
  75. Set and attain Sporcle goal

  76. To Leave a Legacy
  77. Copy LPs to CDs
  78. Copy tapes to CDs—Porter is working on this
  79. Convert WRL memorial PPT to video
  80. Complete conversion of bits PPTs to videos
  81. Create 20 new GTC shows
  82. Create a form of GTC independent of YouTube and useable offline
  83. Create scent bits
  84. Make new family bits (was just "for Heather," but now Janet needs some, too)
  85. Print bit back labels for Heather
  86. Clean up, expand, and document the lines I currently have in my tree
  87. Enter unentered genealogy data
  88. Publish revised editions of Honor Enough volumes 1-4
  89. Rocket boost genealogy work by end of January 2015 (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)—Completed 2/1/15.  Unfortunately, I haven't done much since....
  90. Update Phoebe's Quilt and print in "final" form
  91. Create one photo album with Picaboo
  92. Digitize photos
  93. Digitize slides
  94. Organize photos 2007-2011 (subgroups 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
  95. Organize photos 2012-2016 (subgroups 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
  96. Research and purchase scanner suitable for prints and slides
  97. Rocket boost photo work (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)
  98. Make (at least) 2 baby blankets—Completed 5/14/15.  Two grandbabies!  Hooray!
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 7:32 am | Edit
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My photo editing experiences are 'way below novice, having made do with Windows (Office) Photo Editor, Picasa, Irfanview, and Paint all these years. However, most of the 90s decade of my 95 by 65 project involves photo work, so it's about time I upgraded to some good photo editing software.  In particular, I want to be able to work with my photos without losing data:  Picasa, for example, does some nice things, but degrades the image every time I use it.

I am finding the Adobe Photoshop CC (Photoshop/Lightroom) subscription attractive at $10/month.  I'm sure I don't need all the fancy stuff, and the cost would really add up over a matter of years, but for getting my feet wet it seems reasonable—and it would be several months before reaching the cost of Photoshop Elements.

I've read reviews of several other programs, but am not convinced they are worth the cost.  Except for GIMP, of course, which is always an option, though when I tried it years ago I found it not as user-friendly as I had hoped—i.e. I didn't get anywhere with it.  Adobe still seems to be the gold standard.

What do you think, Faithful Readers?

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Edit
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altThe Qur'an, English translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Oxford University Press, 2004)

In the most important sense, a holy book cannot be subject to review.  It matters little whether or not I consider it holy; the fact that others do puts it in a different category of book.  For one thing, one must take greater care than normal to be respectful; that is merely good manners.  It also means that as a non-Muslim, I cannot adequately judge the Qur'an on the basis for which it was intended, that is, as spiritual guidance and inspiration for Muslims.  And yet, just as there is value in reading the Bible as literature, I believe the Qur'an may profitably be read in the same way.  Not to mention that it might be valuable to have at least some familiarity with a book that is so important to the two and a half billion or so Muslims around the world.

There is also the problem of reading a translation.  To Muslims, as I understand it, the Qur'an is a holy book in a much more literal sense than the Bible is to Christians.  That is, the book itself is holy, not just its contents.  What's more, it is the Qur'an in Arabic that really matters, in contrast to the Christian idea that the Bible speaks best to everyone in his native tongue.  While it is certainly instructive—essential for seminary students and scholars—to read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek, that is not considered a necessary skill for most Christians.  For Muslims, however, you're not really reading or reciting the Qur'an unless it is in Arabic.  I'm of two minds about this.  On the one hand, it's a great unifying factor, as when Latin was essential in the Catholic church, when priests all over the world could understand each other, and the Mass was basically the same wherever you went.  But there's no doubt that true understanding is difficult (impossible?) in a foreign tongue.

The Qur'an itself makes the point repeatedly that it is an Arabic revelation—though I can't resist mentioning that the point being made at the time was that it was in a language the ordinary people understood.

I don't have anything to compare it with, but I will nonetheless give high marks to this particular translation.  It is not beautiful English, but it is easy to understand, and the translator has provided just the right amount of commentary, that is, enough to provide historical context and explain certain idioms and literary conventions, while not interrupting unduly the flow of the writing.

Despite all the above caveats, I'll share some of my observations, based on a single read-through: (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 8:04 am | Edit
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I think anyone should be able to get to the Posit Science BrainHQ Daily Spark exercises.  At least, the e-mail states,

Every weekday, the Daily Spark opens one level of a BrainHQ exercise to all visitors. Play it once to get the feel of it — then again to do your best. Come back the next day for a new level in a different exercise!

If you try and can get to them without paying (even better if without registering), let me know.  Or let me know if you can't.  Since I have a subscription, I'm not sure what others see.

I find the BrainHQ exercises interesting and challenging, and I really have to get back to doing them on a regular basis....  (95 by 65 goal #70)

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 9:12 pm | Edit
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