In a gratuitous attempt at positive thinking, I thought it would be useful (to me) to document a few of my 2013 activities that turned out to be good ones. So, without further adieu, here is a list, in no particular order, of 2013 activities that I generally consider improvements upon my life.
1. From the Ground Up! I changed the style of shoes I wear and it has made a huge difference. I now believe that we have been duped into thinking that we need “arch support” and elevated heels on shoes. A few years back, a Chinese Kung Fu instructor told me, “you Americans don’t need all that extra support; it’s bad for your feet and posture.” I looked into it and thought I’d try some minimalist shoes, attempting to get as close to barefooted as is practical.
I started with the Merrell’s Men’s Barefoot True Glove (pictured above) and I loved it instantly. Having had three knee surgeries in years past, I had pain walking both upstairs and downstairs. The upstairs pain went away immediately, and about a week later, the downstairs pain was gone. I later discovered some nice boot-type shoes from Vivobarefoot.
I’m completely sold on this move. My feet are healthier and my posture is better. I feel more in touch with the ground.
2. Reading, Reading, and More Reading! I read a lot (for me) this year, mostly in cognitive science. (A few of these were audio CDs) Here are the titles I covered:
- How Customers Think:Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, by Gerald Zaltman.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness, by Michelle Alexander.
- Rationality & the Reflective Mind, by Keith Stanovich.
- Farewell to Reality:How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth, by Jim Baggott.
- Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.
- The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, by Dan Ariely.
- Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely.
- The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People; Powerful lessons in personal change, by Stephen Covey. (Abridged Audio CD—I got it to review the book while driving.)
- The Eighth Habit: From effectiveness to greatness, by Stephen Covey. (Audio CD, unabridged.)
- Albert Einstein: His life and universe, by Walter Isaacson (Audio CD, abridged).
- To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Read by Sissy Spacek (Audio CD, unabridged.)
All this reading was very rewarding. Most of it was quite deliberate, searching for answers to specific questions I have. I couldn’t finish the Baggott book; it was a mess and I only made it about half way through. I must thank Kay (again) for suggesting that I buy To Kill a Mockingbird. I enjoyed that Audio CD far more than I would have expected. The book was excellently written, and Sissy Spacek’s reading was superb. I enjoyed this one so much that I spent extra time sitting in my car just so I could finish chapters before getting out!
3. Back to Nature! We bought some fishing gear this year and managed to get out a couple of times during the busy summer. It’s easy to overestimate the value of this, just like it’s easy to overestimate one’s accomplishment in joining a gym, but I look forward to a continual increase in our deliberate friendship with the outdoors.
4. Home, Sweet Home! My work almost always demands travel, and that is very disruptive in a number of ways. Not only can I not build anything (of any sort) at home while I’m away, but it’s close to impossible to eat properly. (The Paleo Diet is what I’m wanting to use consistently.) So I’ve made several moves toward working out a reduced-travel career. (See below for more.) Perhaps I can complete the transition in 2014.
5. Music to My Ears! Having once been a semi-professional musician with a Bachelor’s degree from a respected school of music, I had been on a 12-year hiatus from music performance and teaching. I got a lot of useful things done in those 12 years, mind you, but I also came to realize that the music had facilitated certain elements that were useful in the quality of life. I decided to find the best voice teacher in Billings to see if I could get back into shape again. I took a few lessons and was quickly encouraged that I’ll be just fine with some practice. I’m also planning to start teaching again. See more on that below. We bought season tickets for the Symphony and have tried to make as many other concerts as possible these past few months.
6. Reality-Based Thinking (RBT). Most of my reading these past two years has been on the subject of Reality-Based Thinking (“reality” being defined as the state of things as they actually exist, as contrasted with some mere notion of things). I have become increasingly convinced that our generally-spotty use of RBT is the cause of a great many of the things that ail our society. I have begun to build, and will launch in early 2014, an initiative designed to encourage and to facilitate RBT as a sustainable way of life. This is very exciting as it will be one of the most practical things to come along in quite some time. As big an impact as was made by Covey’s “7 Habits”, this could prove to be even bigger in time. Why? It is because it encompasses and defines the philosophical basis upon which Covey’s habits rest but do not identify or explain.
7. Back To School (sorta)! Kay and James and I rented a modest storefront and are currently preparing it for The Pelham School of Arts & Sciences. Kay will teach piano lessons primarily, and I’ll teach voice classes and private lessons. That’s pretty exciting enough, but even more exciting to me is that it gives me a laboratory of sorts, in which I can give free lectures every month or so on the research I’ve been doing. I have no idea what to expect regarding community participation, but it will be a great learning exercise for me—not only to see who will come, but to what they will come, and how they will respond once they’re here.