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.


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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altThe Wise Woman: A Parable (also known as The Lost Princess, and as A Double Story) by George MacDonald (1875)

My project to read all of George MacDonald's books in chronological order (95 by 65 item #61) led me recently to The Wise Woman, and I can well see why C.S. Lewis classed it as one of MacDonald's very best stories, along with Phantastes, the Curdie books, The Golden Key, and Lilith.  It's a delight through and through, and more than most fits my prime criterion for a good book:  A good book inspires me to be a better person.  I realize that distinction doesn't sound very impressive.  I don't mean a moralistic book, or a book that tells me to be better; rather, one written in such a way as to provoke, deep within, both the desire to improve and the hope that improvement is not impossible.

The Wise Woman well deserves what Lewis said about the mythopoeic genre—at which MacDonald excelled:

[I]t produces works which give us (at the first meeting) as much delight and (on prolonged acquaintance) as much wisdom and strength as the works of the greatest poets. It is in some ways more akin to music than to poetry—or at least to most poetry. It goes beyond the expression of things we have already felt. It arouses in us sensations we have never had before, never anticipated having, as though we had broken out of our normal mode of consciousness and "possessed joys not promised to our birth." It gets under our skin, hits us at a level deeper; than our thoughts or even our passions, troubles oldest certainties till all questions are reopened, and in general shocks us more fully awake than we are for most of our lives.

Have I made it sound too intimidating?  Never mind, then.  It's short (116 pages), it's free on Kindle (under the title, A Double Story), and entirely grandchild-safe.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 17, 2015 at 7:46 am | Edit
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The good news about my 95 by 65 progress for the first quarter of 2015 is that I did not let the project fall by the wayside, I've made steady progress, and I am enjoying the process.  I brought the following goals to completion:

#1 Create 95 by 65 list, completed 1/24/2015.

#2 Create the Leon Project, completed 1/12/2015.

#29 Research and purchase food processor, completed 1/30/2015.  Some of the safety features are a little frustrating, but on the whole I really like it so far.

#48 Visit King Arthur Flour, completed 2/12/2015.  Thanks, Heather!

#56 Join Twitter, completed 2/9/2015.  Thanks, Stephan!  I haven't yet done anything more with it besides make one tweet and read a few others.  I wanted to have it set up in case of emergencies, but so far haven't found any reason to use it otherwise.

#86 Rocket boost genealogy work by end of January 2015 (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over approximately 2 weeks), completed 2/1/2015.  It was great to put in that much time, and I'd like to do it again (with some modifications), but what I really need to do is set up a system of regular, steady work in smaller chunks, which I haven't done yet.  There is so much to do!

The bad news is that I completed only six items in the first quarter, which means I'm working at a rate of two goals per month, well below that needed to accomplish 95 in the 30 months I gave myself.  What's more, most of these are relatively easy, short goals, unlike, for example, #91 Organize photos 2007-2011.

But I'm not discouraged.  Although I only completed six goals, I've made good progress on several others.  Indeed, I added three more accomplished goals to the total so far in April.  I'm still behind, so I need to pay attention, and focus.  But on the whole I'm happy with the system and my progress so far.

I love it that other people are so supportive in this.  Heather took us to visit King Arthur Flour and a new museum (#69); Stephan sent me invitations to Twitter and Google+ (#55), and joined me in reading the Koran (#65); and Porter makes sure I get to new restaurants (#38), Universal Studios (#39), and live performances (#34); nudges me to watch Shakespeare (#67), Great Courses (#66), and NCIS (#40); encourages me to keep running (#18); and arranged for our recent trip to a new state (#44), where we visited four new museums.  And more.

That said, it's still an overwhelming list, and I need to get crackin'!

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 7:42 am | Edit
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alt95 by 65 #38 (5 new restaurants, #2) and #48 (visit King Arthur Flour):  Two flies with one swat.  (This European expression is much more to my liking than our own, as outside of dinner I see little reason to kill birds.  I have no such compunctions about flies.)

Our visit to the King Arthur Flour store, bakery, and café was Part I of our pre-Nathaniel-birth adventuring.  (Part II, which contributed to #69, will be the subject of a later post.)  KAF's products are good, though not inexpensive, and I loved getting a chance to visit their home turf.  Even more, I loved that the employees were so friendly and generous, especially since their generosity came out of their own pockets:  KAF is 100% employee-owned.

The food?  I had a bite of Noah's sandwich, which was wonderful, but for myself had ordered a simple half-baguette.  If you're taste-testing a bakery, you don't want to clutter up the basics with other flavors.  My verdict?  They do sell great bread in America, even if you'd never know it from the grocery stores and most restaurants.  The café is also not inexpensive, so maybe it's a good thing we don't live close enough to eat there on a weekly basis.  The temptation would be great.

I also enjoyed browsing the store, though I surprised myself by not buying anything.  If I get another chance to visit the store, I'll be more prepared with a plan—and more suitcase room.  There's just too much to choose from, especially with five kids anxious to get to the next stop on our adventure.  In the meantime, there's always mail-order.  And learning to make my own good bread.


Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Edit
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#37 Share at least 20 meals with others:  We met my brother for dinner at ...

#38 Try at least 5 new restaurants:  ... the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, after having enjoyed ...

#24 Attend 15 live performances: ... this year's Horns & Pipes concert.  And came home to ...

#49 Keep up a 10 posts/month blogging schedule for 20 months ... write about it!

A great day, but exhausting for an introvert, so at the moment it's about 50/50 whether I'll get some much-needed work done, or just go to bed and hope for an early start in the morning.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Edit
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I thought it would be easy.  I have no small children at home.  I have no paid employment.  Life at the moment is, generally, calm.  Surely it wouldn't be hard to pretend I had a half-time job, and dedicate 40 hours over two weeks to genealogy work.  However, this task turned out to be surprisingly difficult.  It took 18 days, not 10, to log the 40 hours, and before it was over I found myself heartily sick of genealogy.  It was an instructive exercise, however.  A few observations:

  • I can make a surprising amount of progress if I hole myself up in my office, ignoring phone calls, e-mails, Facebook, and even to some extent my husband.
  • Ignoring other responsibilities in order to meet my genealogy goals (or any other specific goals, I suspect) eventually builds up so much psychological pressure (guilt) that the once-pleasurable work becomes a chore.
  • Phone calls from grandchildren cannot be ignored.
  • My goal was to work in concentrated segments of at least an hour each, but I found that surprisingly hard to manage, and eventually allowed myself sometimes to count the accumulation of smaller time periods.  Otherwise, it was too frustrating to find myself with, say, a half an hour to work and yet know I couldn't count it towards the goal.
  • The original impetus for this exercise was the expiration of my Ancestry.com subscription.  Deciding to renew it took a bit of the wind out of my sails and slowed my progress, but I did eventually pull myself together and finish only one day later than my end-of-January goal.
  • I had hoped the push would make a good dent in my accumulated backlog of genealogy work.  Ha!  Infinity minus anything is still infinity.  Still, it really did help, and I made some good finds, though in trying to "beat the expiration clock" I spread my work very thinly, and concentrated more on new data than on entering the old, so the backlog looks more worse than better.
  • Having a full year's subscription ahead of me, however, and a plan to put in a steady hour or two each week, I'm hoping some more methodical plodding will bear good fruit.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, February 2, 2015 at 7:25 am | Edit
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Another goal, albeit one of the easier ones, accomplished:  I reaearched and bought a food processor.

Actually, I have one already, and hardly use it.  So why buy a new one?

The one I have was a gift from my father, many, many years ago.  I have a hard time getting rid of something associated with someone I love.  Or some place I love.  Or any situation with positive memories.  Even if it's broken or no longer useful.  Okay, I'll admit it:  I have a hard time getting rid of things.  I'm working on that.

This appliance was a combination blender and food processor, and the blender part gave up and was replaced years ago.  I hadn't used the food processor part very much, but it still worked, so of course I kept it.  I used it almost exclusively for making cole slaw, but eventually it became easier (and faster) to shred the cabbage by hand—and even easier to buy pre-shredded cabbage at the grocery store.

Not long ago, I found a recipe that I wanted to try, and it recommended using a food processor to shred the cauliflower, so I dug ours out.  And discovered why I rarely use it.  The motor wasn't powerful enough, and the workings kept getting jammed, so I'd have to stop, clear it out, and restart, over and over again.  The process finally completed, but it was a pain, and made mess.  However, it turned out that we both like the recipe, so I want to make it again—only without so much hassle.

After some thought, I concluded that I'd use a food processor for much more than shredding cauliflower—if it worked as I think it should.  I'm generally loath to bring more potential clutter into the house, but I wanted to give the idea of the appliance a second chance.  Hence #29 on my list.

I decided on the Cuisinart DLC-10S, attempting to hit the midpoint between unnecessarily complex and expensive, and too cheap to do the job.  Time will tell.  After I get a chance to play with it some, I'll come back and comment here.

For the curious, here's the recipe that drove this decision.  Follow the link for the original; the text version below reflects my small modifications and notations.  Also note:  This is a "Paleo" recipe, and I emphatically don't do Paleo.  But I'm not a vegetarian either, and some vegetarian recipes are really good.  Also, I don't care what the title says, these are in no way anything deserving of the name "biscuits."  You don't have to be a Southerner to appreciate that!  However, even though our Maryland friends would throw their own hands up in horror at the thought, we both found them a quite acceptable "crab cake," especially with cocktail sauce.  Delicious, in fact, and I suspect they could be made vegetarian without much loss by leaving out the bacon.  Who'd have thought cauliflower could taste so good?  Then again, who'd ever have thought of putting cocktail sauce on cauliflower?

Cauliflower Biscuits with Bacon & Jalapeño


  • florets from one head cauliflower (Next time I'll include more of the stems, since you shred them anyway.)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup fully cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Using a food processor with a shredding blade attachment, shred the cauliflower.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Sauté the shredded cauliflower with jalapeño, bacon, & spices for about 7 minutes to get the cauliflower cooking (should be softened & slightly translucent). (I found it took much longer than 7 minutes.)
  • Remove from heat, and stir in the eggs & almond flour.
  • With a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake the biscuits at 400ºF for 35-40 minutes, or until they look browned & crispy.  (For my oven, this was too long.  They were still good, but would have been better not so brown on the bottom.)
  • Allow the biscuits to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:11 am | Edit
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This is me, eating crow.

I've always had problems with the AARP.  I don't like their politics, and I resent the frequent junk-mail reminders that I'm getting older and should sign up.  When Porter joined—chiefly to get the AARP discount at Outback Steakhouse—I reluctantly put the card in my wallet, but was ashamed of its presence.  Having campaigned for decades against age discrimination, I still don't like the idea of an old-folks organization, and have thus far refused to read their magazine or even check out their website, though Porter says they have some interesting games.  It's a matter of priniciple.

As it turns out, some principles go only so far, and mine broke down today.  I discovered the AARP discount at Ancestry.com.

Remember my 95 by 65 goal to put in 40 hours of genealogy work by the end of January?  The chief impetus for that was the upcoming end of my Ancestry.com subscription, which I had planned to let expire for a while.  However, at least until March 4 (after which the agreement may or may not be renewed), AARP members receive a 30% discount on the World Explorer membership.  Thirty percent!

Pricing at Ancestry is so complex that I made a spreadsheet just to figure it all out.  (Or maybe that's just me.)  Not only are there different extents of Ancestry membership (World, or U.S. only), and different time periods (monthly, semi-annually, annually) but their World Explorer Plus membership also provides annual subscriptions to Fold3 and Newspapers.com.  The Ancestry website is not nearly as forthcoming with prices as it could be, making comparisons difficult.

Enter the world of the phone and the human interface.  I'm not a phone person, but this was worth it.  I learned the truth of what was so confusing on the website:  The World Explorer Plus membership cannot be given as a gift, and the AARP discount only applies to World Explorer, not U.S., and most importantly in my case, not with the AARP discount.  The last was a disappointing loss, but it turns out that Fold3 and Newspapers.com offer a 50% discount to Ancestry.com members, which adds up to only $8 more than if the AARP discount had applied to the World Explorer Plus membership.  (Are you confused now?  That's why I made the spreadsheet.)

Plus, because I upgraded my membership before it actually expired, they added an extra month to my subscription.  That's never happened before, but I was happy to take it.  When this membership is about to expire, I'll be sure to call ahead of time to see if the AARP discount is still active, or if there's something else useful.  I'd never have known if I'd just let my subscription expire, or renewed online.

I still have problems with the AARP.  But I'll take the perk.  In this transaction alone, the $16 membership fee saved me $90.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Edit
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As promised in my Leon Project post, here is my list of 95 things to accomplish by my 65th birthday, which is approximately two and a half years away.  The list was extraordinarily difficult to create.  Others have told me they had trouble coming up with such a large list; for me the problem was to keep it from expanding exponentially.  I am terribly intimidated by both the apparent ambitiousness of the list—which includes many projects that have languished on my To Do list for years, even decades—and by knowing that I've left out far more of what I want to do than I've included, not to mention the activities that make up most of everyday life.  Many of the items on the list can be broken down into 95 items of their own.  A few are simple; I put those in to keep myself encouraged, though unfortunately I had to take many of them out to pare the list to 95.  When I think of the time and effort this list represents, and realize that it's but a sampling of what I want to accomplish, it's no wonder that "my work" fills my days and is never far from my thoughts.  But, to claim a cliché from our old favorite General Electric ride at EPCOT (Horizons), If we can dream it, we can do it.  At least I'm going to try.  Certainly it's a lot more likely to happen than if I don't dare to dream it.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to categorize my list items.  In the end, I shamelessly copied from Stephen Covey's To Live, To Learn, To Love, and To Leave a LegacyLive gets the items related to everyday life and to health, including organization and exercise.  Into the Love category I put spiritual exercises, anything for which I deem the primary purpose to be social (from watching movies to visiting friends to joining Twitter).  Learn gets reading and other cultural activities, mental exercises, and language learning. My genealogy work goes into the Legacy category, along with Grandma's Treasure Chest and other educational materials creation, and photo/audio/video work.  Some items could easily go into more than one category, but I made myself stop stressing about that:  this is a tool, not a master, and it doesn't need to be perfect.  It just needs to be.

I look forward to collaborating with Sarah in mutual support and encouragement.  And to having a list of accomplishments as a 65th birthday present for my inner Leon.

Here's is the original list.  If anyone wants to follow my progress, there's a link to the Google Sheet on the sidebar (under Links/Personal). (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 11:15 am | Edit
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