Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday New Year

One of the curiosities of New Years Resolutions is the unspoken belief that new and better ideas are coming to the fore. I hope that is true but my advice is a hash of old suggestions:

Seek fulfillment. Emphasize safety.

Do not go out of the house in your pajamas.

Spend less than you earn.

Learn a good quote once a week.

There are better ways to do military-type lifts that pressure bones and joints but no good reason to do them at all.

Keep boundaries. Always reassess them.

One thing at a time. Multitasking has been shown to be terribly inefficient.

Do not be on time, be early.

Never use the phone at social events, dinner or in the car.

Keep up-to-date phone numbers and addresses of friends. Use them. Keep up with old friends with a line or e-mail; do not allow them to slip away.

Get seven hours of sleep a day.

The time before and after exercise  is very important. Warm up and cool down.

People will not remember presents but they will remember how you made them feel.

Ours is a period of downgrading. Start a mild upgrade with more effort on appearance. Maybe it will catch on.

Do not phone from the bathroom.

First dates should always be coffee or lunch.

Do not read anything while eating a meal with others.

Sign all petitions and always vote "no."

Build a good wardrobe one good piece at a time.

Do not put ice in wine. If the wine is not cool enough, go to a better place.

Angry people are usually entertaining but avoid them after 6 o'clock.

Read a formal literary effort, a book or essay or play, a little bit every day.

Wake up. Early. The day will be nice and long and full of opportunities.

Go to bed at a reasonable time. Anything that happens late at night is because the perpetrators think no one is watching.

Do not name your children after large cities in Texas. Or European cheeses.

If you are going to drink alcohol, drink only good alcohol. Never drink something because it is there.

Never drink alcohol because you "don't want to waste it."

Memorize one insightful quote or poetry line every week.

Have your teeth cleaned every six months.

Make a budget. The discipline alone is helpful.

Set aside a percentage for two groups of savings. Use one account to go to when necessary for a big purchase or a surprise problem. Use the other one for retirement. Never touch the second one.

People tend to like what they do when they are good at it. So, be good at your job and your diversions.

Always get the cost of goods or services up front. This is especially true of lawyers.

When traveling:
Never travel without a phone that works
Never travel alone to an area where you do not know the language or the alphabet.
Always travel with enough money.
Avoid areas where you might depend upon the good-will of people with old political grudges towards some group you remotely resemble.
Always, always get the harbor-master's number when you leave a ship.

Buy one tailor-made piece of clothing so you can see the difference from retail.


"To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying, and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attend the unknown - the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any explanation is better than none." (Friedrich Nietzsche) 
Remember this when attacking another's beliefs. You are attacking more than his intellectual position, you are attacking his area of comfort and command.

Save 10% of your income for retirement.

And some book suggestions.
Dog Star, Between Two Rivers (a good intro to Turtledove), and Snow Crush are all nice, entertaining books, Snow Crush a bit complex.
Up in the Old Hotel was very good, if long.
Hiroshima by Hersey is surprising.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity  written by the Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo is quite different and very good. It is non-fiction. Nothing quite like it.
Alistair MacLeod's No Great Mischief is a remarkable book that elevates tribe above the individual. About the Scots in Canada. Really good.
Seven Eves is easy reading sci-fi with an emphasis on epigenetics. Very interesting and fun.
And on the heavier side, Santayana's only novel, The Last Puritan.

Paul's Letter to the Galatians says that Christ on earth means that all men are adopted sons of God, heirs to His infinite creation.
So every man, regardless of station or circumstance, wealth or heritage, birthright or appearance, sickness or health is equal in the eyes of God. There have been a lot of notions--from nihilism to castes, from divine right to class conflict, from Freud to Malthus--that have come down the pike since the beginning of recorded time but has there ever been a more radical, more hopeful, more optimistic idea than that? And could there be a better thought to start the new year?
Happy New Year.

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