January: A Month of Experiments

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We took an historical tour of Edinburgh with a few friends; this is the back of one of Edinburgh’s museums.

January.  A month of experiments.

READING

I got through 75 books last year; I’m going to try to break that record this year.  So far, I’m doing well, having finished 10 books so far:

  1. Young Stalin.  A great history of how Stalin got started.  I still don’t fully understand why he became an ardent communist, but it definitely gave a glimpse into what he was doing in his early career.
  2. Exit West.  EVERY sentence of this book rings true; it’s beautiful.
  3. Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual.  I’ve actually read this three times so far this year.  It’s Aurelius’s Meditations for the 21st century cubicle warrior.
  4. Everybody Lies.  A fascinating look at data, and a great thing to read in conjunction with Dataclysm.
  5. Make Your Bed.  SHORT, but still a book.  I now make my bed in the morning.
  6. Galbraith: The Great Crash 1929.  Short, but very dense, and Galbraith switches between incredibly memorable sentences, a lucid description of the events leading up to the Great Depression, and broad historical perspectives that make the reader wonder if we’ll ever learn.
  7. The Maffetone Method.  A good introduction to exercise.  Not entirely of value if you exercise and have read anything about Dr. Maffetone, but I think some people would benefit from it.
  8. Narconomics.  An incredible book showing how criminal empires are run more or less like traditional firms, and are subject to the same pressures as normal companies.  Really well worth reading.
  9. The Obesity Code.  My friend Wendy recommended it; it is a fascinating look at how insulin may be the key factor to obesity, and how food can be used to combat obesity.
  10. 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition, and 100 Deadly Skills.  Great information; much of it reminded me of Krav Maga training (scan constantly, be aware, avoid trouble if you can but, if you can’t, use your Kevlar shoelaces and two pens to create an improvised garotte).

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Inspired by The Obesity Code, I’ve started experimenting with fasting.  After dinner Saturday, I don’t eat again until dinner Sunday.  The first time was very difficult…but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.  The second time was far less difficult.  I have to miss the third weekend – too many meals planned with people – but if you’re ever interested, just try it for a day.  It gets easier and easier.

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Unfinished violin “scrolls” from a private tour of the workshop of Neil McWilliam.

I’m also experimenting with something else: not using earbuds except for 15 minutes in the morning when I journal/freewrite.  If I go to the gym, I’m keyed in to my surroundings.  If I’m walking down the street, I’m paying attention to the sounds of cars and birds.  It is proving to be a good habit.

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Glasgow, going into Central Station on the slow train after a landslide happened on my normal line.

I’m also on Month One of the “no social media” year.  It is nothing short of amazing.  A New York Times reporter is writing about Cal Newport’s “Digital Declutter”, and I wrote the following to her about participating:

I have given up all news sites, and only get news from an Economist subscription.

All of this has been absurdly incredible. I’ve read four books so far this year, and am 1/2 way through four more (I still find it hard to focus on a single book). My relationships have improved. My attention has improved dramatically. Work has become easier, more fun, and more focused; I’m far more productive than I have ever been. I’m paying attention to things like the scenery, without the impulse to capture photos of it to post and share. I feel more confident without the need to constantly get feedback. I’m looking people in the eye on the street, and they’re saying hello to me. My life is immeasurably better.

One other thing: I end my days with 90% of my phone battery remaining!

I can’t encourage giving up social media enough.  It’s simply incredible.

IMG_4188I started work at Xedo Software.  It’s an incredibly fun place to work; very relaxed, very supportive, very interesting.  My workmates are hilarious, everyone is friendly, and it’s incredibly flexible.

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