An amazing thing happens when you start reading positive, inspirational, motivational readings and books. The infamous Amazon recommendation engine kicks in and starts recommending more. It should be no surprise then that an inspirational classic showed up in one of my Amazon recommendation emails – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I added it to my reading list at some point during the first half of 2016 and decided to make it a priority for 2017.
I enjoyed the story in the book, but that’s not its focus. The primary point is about following your dreams, or your “Personal Legend” as Coelho calls it. I found this post on Paulo Coelho’s blog which is an excellent summary of the 10 Powerful Life Lessons in the book, but here are the top three which I took away from it.
A couple of years ago, I became interested in the link between food and health. What really set me off was when I noticed how much sugar went into everyday foods. For example, I was completely caught off guard when I realized that there were 20g of added sugar in a jar of tomato sauce, per serving! It really got me thinking about what the industrialization of food has done to our diets.
Around that same time, I met someone during a technology meetup at my office. Somehow, the conversation turned to food, and we both lamented over the effects that processed food has over our body. He made a great comment, or observation if you will, when he said that we should treat “food as medicine”. His comment really hit home and got me thinking about our relationship with food.
Back in early 2015, I watched the documentary series, “The Men Who Built America”. It was inspiring to watch how industrialists such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford transformed America during the late 19th and early 20th century. While it can be debated how much came at the expense of the lower and middle classes, the fact remains that their ideas and the businesses they created had a profound impact felt around the world.
On the whole, I am rather disappointed with the innovation in our current generation. Too much energy and money is spent chasing the latest “quick buck” ideas rather than exceptional breakthroughs. Fortunately, there are two clear exceptions in my opinion – Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
I enjoy following and learning about how they have pursued their passions and built companies around their visions. One of my favorite books from 2015 was “The Everything Store” by Brad Stone. It was a fascinating tale of how Jeff Bezos conceived and built Amazon. When I saw that a similar book had been written about Elon Musk, I knew I had to read it.
For Father’s Day, I wanted to do something family oriented that was more than just going out to eat. Since all of us more or less enjoy the outdoors, I thought a hike would be something fun that we would all enjoy. We’ve done family hikes before, both the Tree of Life Trail and Hollyridge Trail in the Hollywood Hills.
I had always wanted to do a hike in Malibu overlooking the beach. Brad suggested the La Jolla Canyon Trail, which he had done before. As it turns out, we actually hiked the Backbone Trail. Even though it wasn’t the trail we thought we were on, it was still an excellent hike. I would categorize it as a hike of moderate difficulty with a significant change in elevation. It wasn’t as challenging as the Tree of Life, but it was definitely more challenging than the Hollyridge Trail.
After reading The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson last year, I decided to make a change in my reading habits this year. Instead of reading one book at a time, I decided to read two books at once. I split my reading list into two pieces – learning books and recreational books. I decided to read the recreational books at night and the learning books in the morning. As Olson said in The Slight Edge, if you read about 10 pages/day from a learning book, you’ll finish it in a month. It went well with Psycho-Cybernetics, so I decided to continue the morning reading with 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.
To be honest, I’m not sure how or why I hadn’t read 7 Habits already. I’d heard about it and had it recommended to me numerous times, but I never got around to reading it. I finally decided it was time to push it toward the top of my reading list after seeing this post on the Learning A Day blog that I follow. The blog’s author, Rohan, wrote in that post that 7 Habits was the one book that had deepest impact on how he approached life. With a recommendation like that, I wanted to read it to see if it would be just as inspirational for me.
Last week, I once again got the opportunity to be a judge for the UCSB ECE189 Capstone project presentations. It’s the fifth year that I’ve been a judge, and it never gets old. The projects are different every year, and the complexity and quality of the projects improves every year. The improvements do not happen by accident or chance. Professor Dr. John Johnson does a great job taking lessons learned from the previous year(s) and incorporating them into the current crop of projects. Bottom line, the quality of this year’s projects is a direct reflection of the effort put into the Capstone projects by Dr. Johnson and his students over the last five years.
This year, six projects were presented. Three were multi-disciplinary projects where multiple departments within the UCSB College of Engineering collaborated. The remaining three projects were contained within the ECE Department and followed the more traditional Capstone project approach.
Here is this year’s synopsis of the projects, the best project winners, and my general thoughts on the class.
The last book on my 2016 reading list was The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Since I wasn’t able to get through all the books I had on my 2016 list, I carried this one over to my 2017 reading list. To make certain that I read the book this year, I put at the top of the list – position #4.
I discovered the book through a technology blog that I follow regularly, Gizmodo. They periodically review and rate science fiction books, and The Three-Body Problem was highly recommended. Since it also rated well in the Amazon reviews, I figured it was worth checking out. There was also one other aspect to the book that piqued my interest. It is an English translation of a book that was originally written in Chinese. As it turns out, Cixin Liu is one of the most popular science fiction writers in China.
As I sit here watching game 3 of the Stanley Cup, enjoying the Penguins up 2 games and basking in the afterglow of an incredible Game 7 win against Ottawa, something doesn’t feel quite right. Yes, it’s fun watching the Pens in the Cup, and game 7 against Ottawa was an amazing game. The Senators played incredible and pushed the Penguins to the limit. The game was highly entertaining, which I suppose is the point. I was entertained.
Growing up in Pittsburgh during the seventies, it was hard not to be a die-hard sports fan. The city practically came to a standstill on Sundays in the fall. There were the team nicknames like ‘The Steel Curtain’. Songs that defined teams like ‘We Are Family’. Individual plays that live on in time like the ‘The Immaculate Reception’. There were the sports personalities that were practically heroes like “Mean” Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swan, Jack Lambert, Willie Stargell, Franco Harris, Kent Tekulve, John Candelaria, Rocky Blier, Jack Hamm, and more. Everywhere you looked and went there were sports references. It was impossible to escape.
It’s rare to find books that stand the test of time, especially as it applies to personal development, self-help and psychological theory. So many of these books are written based on the trend of the day in an attempt to ride the wave to making a quick buck. Even rarer is finding a personal development book that you know you will come back to on a regular basis. As the saying goes, these are even fewer and farther between.
Fortunately, I discovered a book that fits these qualities – The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.
I’m not exactly sure how I happened across Maltz’s work, but I’m glad I did. “Game-changer” can be such an overused and over-hyped word, but it applies in this case. In other words, reading The New Psycho-Cybernetics has had a profound outlook on my approach to life. It is what I would call a foundation book in the realm of personal development. It revealss the science behind how we can employ basic techniques to control our brain and inner voices to get the most out of life. Since reading it, I’ve noticed that many of the concepts discussed are referenced and built upon in other popular personal development books. For these reasons alone, it is a book that I plan to refer back to on a regular basis.
Since Brad has been attending Eastern Michigan University, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time in the Ann Arbor – Ypsilanti area. Each time I go there, I do my best to find new places to go and hangout for a bite to eat. I have my usual favorites that I’ve documented here and here. This time around, I managed to discover a few new places.