Well, well, well. I thought that this would be the year that I would retire the beard. I was wrong. Again.
For whatever reason, I just can’t help myself when it comes to growing out the beard. This past year, I started even earlier than normal. Instead of waiting for Mo’vemeber, I started the process in early October. I decided to experiment a little this year with different looks.
For the most part, it was good. Here’s what I learned in the process.
2017 was the fifth year I blogged. Given how many blogs don’t make it past five weeks, I’m pretty happy I’ve made it this far. At this point, I don’t see myself stopping. As I’ve mentioned in the past, you need a reason other than traffic, fame, or money to keep you motivated to blog. I do it for other reasons, which you can read about here. You can also see my prior blog reviews by clicking on the years – 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.
Overall, 2017 wasn’t my best effort. I fell way behind on my book reviews and have 14 pending at the time of this writing. I had two months this past year, April and May, with zero posts. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s not a lack of ideas holding me back. I have almost 90 post ideas in my queue, not to mention a whole category of posts on startups that pushes the total to somewhere between 110 and 120.
With all that said, I intend to soldier on. My goal remains to hit the elusive 100 posts for the year, which will once again be my goal for 2018. Before we look too far into the future, let’s start by taking look at the past.
I have a problem with my reading list – a big problem.
I organized my reading list over this past week for 2018. I was happy to learn that I read 28 books last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t even make a dent in my master wish list of books since I added 48 new books to my list during 2017. My wish list of books to read is sitting at over 200. Last year, I had 7 years of books on my list. This year it’s grown to 8.
Overall, 2017 was a very good year for book reading. My goal is to read 25 books during the course of a year, with a stretch goal of 30. My book count finished at 28 last year.
I changed things up a bit last year. In the past, I had only one book in progress at a time. In 2017, I almost always had two going at once. I would read a fun book during the evening, and a business or personal mindset book in the morning. I believe this strategy helped push me over the top with respect to my reading numbers. It also shaped my readings as the majority of the books I read last year were of a nonfiction variety. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’d like to read a longer list of lighter, entertaining books in 2018.
I’m nearly finished compiling my 2018 reading list and plan to post in the next few days or so. In the meantime, here are the books I recommend that you include on your 2018 reading list.
Just like years past, I had three primary fitness goals for 2017 around working out, activity, and diet. 2017 didn’t go quite as I would have liked due to a number of planned and unplanned circumstances. There was travel for work, an extended vacation, and the gym I frequent closed 3 weeks for remodeling. The loss of my furry companion in November didn’t help either.
I’m not suggesting or saying that 2017 was a disaster, it just wasn’t as good as 2016. For 2018, I’m going to make a few minor adjustments, set a couple of stretch goals, and make it happen!
Let’s take a look at 2017, and then set the goals for this year.
It was just over a year ago – December 3, 2016 to be exact. We helped Amanda pack up her stuff and moved her to Santa Barbara. She wanted to be closer to the job she had just started there, and I’m sure that she also wanted to have her own place (and a bit of space from her parents). Living with the parents is fine, to a point.
I was happy for her. Officially moving out is a big deal. It was great to see her achieve a significant milestone.
On the other hand, parts of me were sad. We do a lot for our children and always want the best for them. It’s hard watching them go and not knowing what will happen when they leave. At some point though, we have to do it. As hard as it is, we have to let go.
Resting after a walk (July 17, 2011)
This past Saturday, we had to make the difficult decision to put down our family dog, Blake. Needless to say, it’s been a tough week as we’ve worked our way through the grieving process. It’s amazing how much of a mark these silly, furry little animals make on our hearts and in our lives.
Dogs bring us so much joy, memories, frustrations, and sorrow. They teach us a lot, both about ourselves and about life. Here’s a look at what I learned in the 7-1/2 years I had with Blake.
Compulsory education has existed for over 100 years in our country. The overwhelming majority attend public elementary and high schools. According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), ~10% of all US students attend private schools. According to the US Department of Education, around 3% are home schooled. If I do my math correctly, it means ~87% of our children our taught by the public school system. A system that is funded by our tax dollars.
Why do we spend the money and time to educate our children? We’ve determined that our society functions better and that people are more productive if they are provided a minimum level of education. And in today’s international arena, having an educated workforce is a requirement if a country and its business want to be and stay competitive.
Education carries such a high level of importance that every state has public funded institutions of higher learning. These exist as community colleges, teaching colleges, and world-renowned research universities. In my opinion, making higher education accessible and affordable is the cornerstone to a state’s growth. As a resident of California, I would content that affordable access to the University of California system was one of the primary elements leading to the growth of California in the second of the 20th century. It does not surprise me that California’s growth has stagnated in recent times as access to this system has been restricted through reduced public funding and higher tuition costs, but that’s a topic for another time.
If education is important enough to warrant public funding, shouldn’t the health and welfare of our populace be handled the same way?
The Guardian has become one of my favorite news outlets due to the quality of its long form journalism. Last month, they posted an article about the dangers of smartphone addiction (click here to read). It wasn’t your standard, “we need to spend time away from our smartphones” rant. It was in-depth look at how smartphones have enabled a small handful of people in Silicon Valley to control the psychology of over a billion people around the world.
For me, working in the mobile software development industry, it was a warning sign. A foreboding of what could happen if we, as a society, don’t heed the warning and take action.
You see, many worry about the development of a superior, runaway artificial intelligence that will destroy humanity. They argue that it could happen within the next 25 years if sufficient controls are not put in place.
After reading The Guardian article, I’m beginning to think that future danger could already be upon us, and we don’t even know it. Instead of the AI confronting us head-on in a war-like manner, it could be destroying us from within by turning us against each other, and ultimately against ourselves.
In the past, I’ve written about privacy and warned how the internet endangers that fundamental right. I’m now concerned that the combination of the internet and smartphones may be one of the most dangerous inventions created by mankind if allowed to go unchecked.
Allow me to explain.
This is the third post of my personal experience with diet modification after reading books such as Wheat Belly, Grain Brain, Primal Body – Primal Mind, and It Starts with Food. The other posts are Food as Medicine and Weight, it’s all about food, which you can read here and here. As mentioned in a previous post, this post is not medical advice. It is simply my personal experience which you may (or may not) find interesting.
As part of my effort to eat healthier, cutting added sugars out of my diet was at the top of my priority list. Little did I know just how difficult this would be. I quickly learned that you had to be careful with anything processed, in a box, or sealed in a bag. When you buy something in that form factor, the question isn’t whether it has sugar. The question is how much.
Here’s just one recent example that shocked me. To change up my routine and add some spice to my pistachio habit, I wanted to give salt & black pepper pistachios a try. When I saw them at Costco, I couldn’t resist and grabbed a bag. Midway through my first serving, something seemed…, well, off. In addition to the pepper seasoning, I was detecting a bit of a sweetness. I didn’t think much of it, but decided to check the ingredients. Bingo! Sugar. Now granted, it was pretty far down the ingredient list, and it wasn’t a lot. But we’re talking about pistachios. Why is there any sugar added?
As it so happens, this is just one example of many.