Each year around this time, I dust off my master reading list, review, organize, and prioritize it for the coming year. There are currently 230 books on my master list, so it took a little effort this year to rearrange it into the subset of books you’ll find here.
I usually read around 25-30 books a year. According to GoodReads, which I use to manage my reading lists, I read 32 books in 2019. However, to be fair, 4 of these were short stories, and 1 was my daily devotional. Still yet, 27 books read is a good year for me.
I added 34 books books to my master reading list in 2019, which is an improvement since I usually add a lot more. I tried to be more disciplined about adding books than in the past. There have been years where I’ve added over 50 books. So the master list only grew by a couple this year, rather than the usual 15-20.
For the coming year, I used the same process as I have in years past to prioritize my annual list and narrow it down to the 50 or so candidates you see below, with one slight adjustment. I know this is far more than the 25-30 books I typically read in a year, but I like to have a buffer just in case my reading pace is faster than usual.
Let’s start with the selection parameters for the list.
I didn’t learn how to play the piano until I was an adult. When Amanda started taking lessons when she was 6 years old, I decided that I would take them with her. I felt it would encourage her, and it was always something I had wanted to do.
Through an interesting series of events, and a stroke of luck, I got introduced to Pauline, who taught lessons out of her house. When I first met her, I knew she was older. Based on her mannerisms, movements, mental acuity, and piano playing ability, I figured she was probably in her later 60’s, maybe early 70’s. It would be a few years of taking lessons from her before I found out she was much closer to 90 than she was 70.
She lived a simple life. Outside of the lovely Steinway that I played during my lessons, her house and the possessions within were simple and unassuming. Her car was nothing special, but it provided a means of transportation that allowed her to get around town. In other words, she had everything she needed to meet her basic necessities.
My lessons were scheduled for 45 minutes, but they would usually last closer to an hour and a half, and sometimes up to two hours. We would get sidetracked on in depth discussions of music theory, or she would start telling stories about her experiences around music. Whether it was about her student experiences at Syracuse University, teaching at the University of North Carolina, playing piano for radio programs in Hollywood, or her music writing, the stories were always interesting. While she may not have had a wealth of money and material possessions, she was rich with experiences and memories.
This is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have fond memories of this time period growing up, especially while I was away at college. I always looked forward to finishing up the semester, getting home a couple of days before Christmas, and doing my last minute shopping for gifts.
There are so many things that make this time special – family, celebrations, decorations, anticipation, and the music. Oh yes, the music.
To the dismay of my family, I am a serious Christmas music addict. It starts the evening of Thanksgiving and lasts through the end of the year. With relatively few exceptions, I listen to a steady diet of Christmas tunes this time of year. And why not? It’s really the only time you can get away with playing it throughout the day and not risk being committed.
Five years ago, I posted a list of my 50 favorite Christmas songs. Since then, the list has grown. While I have a playlist with over 170 songs on it, below are the 65 that I could shuffle and put on endless repeat. So here’s the updated, refreshed list (new additions are in bold).
Last year, when I posted my annual beard photo, I said I was 85% certain I wouldn’t grow it again this year.
Well, I did it again, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s just something about this time of year that brings out the beard.
This year’s edition started around the end of October. I’ve kept it somewhat groomed over the last 6 weeks, although it’s starting to get a bit out of control, and a little uncomfortable. Abbey helped me with a photo shoot last night. Google Photos assembled an automated collage which is what you see to the right.
The plan is cut the beard back this weekend, and then shave it all off before Christmas.
I’m not a big fan of the beard, which makes me wonder why I’ve done it for the last 10 years. So who knows, maybe this is the last year for it. Let’s just say that I’m 85% certain it is.
(If you’re interested in taking a trip down memory lane, here’s a post that has images of “the beard” dating back to 2012).
I find it interesting how society creates arbitrary rules that become the expected norm over time. Retiring at age 65 is one such example.
I’m not 100% certain, but I strongly suspect that the original Social Security Act, which was passed in 1935, had a lot to do with setting this expectation. It set an age of 65 to receive full retirement benefits. While the age requirement for receiving full benefits has been slowly increasing to 67, the “retirement age” in most people’s mind is still 65.
I believe it’s time we need to rethink retirement. We need to re-evaluate what it means to retire, and the age at which retirement starts. Here’s why.
Over the last two months, I’ve documented the drives around Southern California that I used to teach my kids how to drive. There were a total of nine long drives, an overview and an introduction.
I didn’t have a teaching process when my first child was ready to drive. I stumbled upon one, somewhat by accident, while teaching her. The process worked so well for her that I continued using it with my other kids. Each time I revisited it, I refined and adjusted it to the final versions which I’ve shared here.
So with the drives documented, here are some parting thoughts and final words of wisdom to consider as you start the process of teaching your teenager how to drive.
I recently renewed my subscription to The Guardian. Given our expectation that news on the internet should be free, the $69 fee seems excessive. On the other hand, if you compare it to the role that an effective fourth estate fills in a democracy, the subscription rate is a bargain.
If news content on the internet is available for free, why did I decide to pay for it?
For the ninth, and final drive of my Teaching a Teen to Drive series, we’re going to hit the open road. We’ll be taking a long drive that tests all the skills of the prospective driver. There will be lengthy stretches of the three skills that are important for a new driver to master (in my opinion) – freeway driving, canyon driving, and urban driving.
This is also one of my favorite drives in all of Southern California. It hugs the coastline through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The inland portion that takes you over the San Marco Pass has stunning vistas on both the way up and on the way down. It’s a long drive that covers nearly 175 miles and will take 3-4 hours (or longer) to complete depending on stops.
A couple of years ago, I made a conscience decision to cut my media consumption. I stopped watching morning television to start my day. I quit watching evening television shows. I even changed my engagement with sports. Instead of letting it run (and sometimes ruin) my life, I started treating it for what it is – entertainment. Even though I never had a big social media presence, I totally disconnected from it. I significantly cut the number of blogs I follow. You get the picture, I turned down the media noise in my life.
You would think that I would have missed out on important events, that I would have lost touch with family and friends, that I would have been left behind, disconnected from the world, out of touch with reality.
Turns out, none of that came to pass. In fact, I’ve found that my mental state of mind and attitude towards life has never been better.
Coincidence, I don’t think so. And here’s why.
Canyon and urban driving are the two primary themes of my long drives when I teach a teen to drive. I find that I can mix-in other important driving concepts, such as freeway driving, within these themes.
We’ve already completed two other urban drives in my teaching a teen to drive series. For drive #8, we’re going to do our Urban Driving Final Exam. It will be a mix of congested city streets and freeways. We’ll be navigating the busiest and most challenging freeways around Los Angeles – the CA-110 from Pasadena through downtown LA, the Santa Monica Freeway through the Westside, the 405 over the Sepulveda Pass, and the US-101 through the San Fernando Valley.