• Announcement,  Life

    2016 Resolutions

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    I’m keeping last year’s resolutions in force, without feeling the need for new ones. I like the old ones, they still apply, and it’s hard being human sometimes, so I’ll continue to make mistakes.

    Resolution One: Get Better At The Husband And Father Thing

    This seems to get harder as the kids get older, as all of our lives get busier. We’re moving into the years where they’re slowly getting ready to leave home and lead completely independent lives. I have one in his last year of high school, one in her first, and one who turns thirteen in a short time. They’ve all got different needs and different things going on and different personalities. I have to adapt to that on a regular basis, and my wife has to adapt to those same pressures.

    Resolution Number Two: Be Kind.

    Easy to let slide even a little when your stress level is high. Be kind to myself, be kind to others, be kind to the planet, and if I’m accidentally unkind to one of my fellow creatures, rule number 2 applies: When you screw up, admit it, fix it, learn from it, and move on.

    Think bigger, think broader, and think kinder. Think about where the other being is coming from and what their situation might be and how they may see things. Disagreement is okay, being a jerk isn’t. Take on ideas, not people.

    Resolution Three: Be Polite.

    Politeness costs nothing, and it can gain you so much. Something else higher stress will allow you to forget sometimes, so I suppose the trick is to address the stress without forgetting the rest.

    Resolution Four: Be More Well Read.

    This isn’t quite the same thing as reading more, although to get to be more well read, you have to read more. Being more well read takes time, so while it may be an infinitely renewable new year’s resolution, it’s probably one I’ll never be satisfied with, and that’s okay. There’s another post coming in a few days regarding the reading goals I’ve set for myself this year, at least in broad strokes. Individual titles may be more fluid than the list I’ve set myself, but I’ve set a 2016 Reading List shelf on Good Reads if anyone is curious to what’s currently on it. The list starts the year with 62 titles, 20 of which are non-fiction. Although, at the moment, there are only 59 on the Good Reads list as three titles are for 2015 speculative fiction awards that haven’t been announced yet.

    Resolution Five: Think More Intelligently

    I almost just copied and pasted a big piece of last year’s note here. Because it’s still true: I’m prone to introspection, and to nostalgia, and to overthinking things. It’s going to be another long term goal to train myself to think more carefully and quicker. My first instinct isn’t always the best response, but recognizing when it isn’t takes practice, and getting to that best doesn’t have to take all day.

    So there are my resolutions for 2016. Feel free to borrow what you like from this little bit of rambling or let me know if there’s something you like better.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Life

    New Resolutions. Or Not.

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    So last year was a different year for me in terms of New Year’s resolutions, making five instead of one. I’m going to continue with that number this year, tweaking things a little.


    Resolution 1: Get Better At The Husband And Father Thing

    My traditional resolution is still number one for 2015. Last year, I think I said my primary objective to meet this one was just to be as involved in my family’s lives as possible, and to continue in my efforts to put them first in every way. That, I think, is a very good way to continue looking at it. “Family first.” Okay, so there’s a whole lot more to the quote by Funakoshi sensei than just that, but if a man who stands was among the greatest karate masters of the 20th century believed that family should come first, who am I to argue?

    And while I think that I’ve gotten better at it over the years, I also think there’s always room for improvement here. As long as I can continue to get better, continue thinking of my family as the reason for why I’m doing something, then I think I should continue to have success. It’s easier some days than others, and sometimes I still get very excited about something and get a little distracted. I just have to remember to find ways to carry my family along in that excitement.


    Resolution Number Two: Be Kind.

    Simple enough on the surface, I think this year I need to start taking steps to extend this resolution. The trick is to always make an effort to think about where the other person or creature is coming from, and how they see things.

    My easy example for this is something I see all the time: just because you’re having an argument with someone doesn’t make them an idiot. Now, they may be an idiot, but always attack the argument, not the person. There is never a good reason for deliberate mental or physical abuse, cruelty. or punishment. And if you’re accidentally unkind to one of your fellow creatures, take steps to correct it. Just as importantly, learn from it.

    Extending this further, I need to take more steps to be kind to the environment around me, and therefore to the planet, and the future. I consider myself to be fairly green, over all, but I could do a lot more, seek to minimize or reverse the damage my lifestyle might be doing. The planet can handle a lot, but there are more than 7 billion of us now, and we produce a lot of crap, literally and figuratively. I can produce less.


    Resolution Three: Be Polite.

    Politeness costs nothing. However you want to think about things, that remains true, and it goes very well with resolution number two.


    Resolution For: Be More Well Read.

    This replaces last year’s resolution of reading more, because I feel the need for things to be more directed, whether or not I want to track and measure things. I absolutely I read more last year than the year before, overall, but I don’t necessarily believe I’m any more well read.

    Once upon a time, in the areas of science fiction and fantasy, at least. I was well read. As a child and teenager, I did little else other than read and watch genre televsion. I devoured all the classics I could get my hands on, which really was only a small piece of the whole, and I read every genre fiction book available in whatever library we lived nearest to, a lot of them more than once. That’s not possible anymore. There’s just too much being published, by the big publishers, medium-size ones, micro publishers, and independent authors. Now, with the Internet, it’s easy to see that I’m not nearly as well read as I once thought I was in those classes. I probably never will be, but I’d like to get better.

    I’ve set some specific goals for this year to address this (to me) shortcoming, but those probably deserve a separate post.


    Resolution Five: Think More Intelligently

    Adjusting this one a little bit too. I’m prone to introspection, and to nostalgia, and to overthinking things. Whether I can train myself to streamline my thoughts processes or not, whether I can train myself to understand things faster or not, this year I intend to learn recognize when I am overthinking, when I’m dwelling too much on something. Yes, I need to think about things carefully, but there comes a point in any program, problem, or conversation when you’ve thought about things enough. And, while our first response isn’t necessarily our best, there are times when we come to the best fairly quickly.

    And it’s also time to start thinking bigger. This goes along with my third birthday question: what am I doing to make the world a better place? Time to figure that out and step up my game.


    So, there are my resolutions for 2015. Some the same, some slightly twisted.

    Goals, well, I have plenty of those too, but they’re more specific, more measurable, more definite. I have a number of things that I want to make a certain amount of progress on doing this year, but most of those are little more private. No one really cares how many pounds lighter I’d like to be, or how far I’d like to get my study of calculus, or French, or Japanese. Some of these things may get mentioned in passing, and I’ll try to make them fun when they come up.

    For now, if you’re making resolutions or not, feel free to share, but above all, be well, everyone.


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  • Life

    An Overdue Recap of My 2014 Resolutions

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    There was a time when I only made one resolution every year, and it was Resolution #1 last year, just like it will be this year.

    The problem with actually going back and looking at last year’s resolutions is that it’s mentally easier to focus on where you failed or performed badly than it is to think about the successes. And with the first three, I can’t be an objective judge because the resolutions were intended as continued behavior modification in order to improve not just myself, but the lives of the people around me.

    But to Review:


    Resolution #1: Be better at the husband and father thing.

    This is my top thing every year, and the only resolution I used to make. Think about family first, always. This is surprisingly easy to do, but harder to act on. It’s a matter of making sure that what’s best for the family as a whole is in your mind when it comes to each and every decision. I’m human. I make mistakes, but I’d like to think I get a little bit better at this every year. My family will judge this better than I possibly can.

    Because for me it’s so easy to remember the times I got sidetracked or distracted and screwed something up.


    Resolution #2: Be kind.

    This is hard. It’s easy to let your emotions run loose and a lot harder to control them. Some days I’m far better controlling them than others. Stress levels are critical. If $hit is going down, it’s easier to be grouchy, and a hard trick to not be.

    The thing that I hate most about myself is that it’s somehow easier to control my reactions around people I have to interact with professionally or in public than it is with family. With family, you can let your guard down easier, which isn’t the same way of saying that you should. They also have more practice at finding your buttons.

    But it’s a simple idea overall: consider what other living creatures need and want and appreciate, and try to provide more of that than you did yesterday. Perfection is impossible, but it’s a goal.


    Resolution #3: Be polite.

    Paired with “Be kind”, this is supposed to be a mantra for me. For both, it’s easier to look back on failures this year than successes, but if I’m honest, I think I’m mostly a good influence. I set a high expectation for the people around me on politeness, especially my teenagers, and I mostly get it.

    That makes me happy.


    Resolution #4: Read more.

    I’ve done okay with this in the past twelve months, if not exactly how I originally expected. I haven’t read as many books as I wanted to, but I’ve done a lot of research reading of articles, online and otherwise, and I’ve taken my X-Men re-read into 2003.

    I’m happy with how much I’ve read this year, and have a different challenge or two in mind for 2015.


    Resolution #5: Think more.

    My basic logic comes from Douglas Adams. Observed in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: “If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, their brains start working.”

    The more you think about things before you say them, the less likely you are to say something stupid. You can overthink, and I do.

    Probably, I’ve overthought my resolutions for both last year and this year (still to come), but that’s part of who I am.

    Happy new year, and be well, everyone.


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