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2017 Project: Where Things Begin

As a side-track to the "Teach Me Something New" plan, I still hope to work in a few other goals. One obvious goal is to read more and make a dent in the unread books sitting on my Kindle. Somewhere in the world is a new Michael Lewis book and I don't want to rush into that one until I can claim at least the beginnings of success in knocking off some of the backlog. With that ...

The Reading Project
I was hoping to finish off one more book before the start of the year, but I wasn't terribly smart in my choice - I picked up Dedman & Newell's 500-page "Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune."

I end the year with Chapter Three staring at me, so this will eventually have to go down as the first book completed of the current year. I'm setting a goal of 10 current books being read off of my Kindle with the reward of picking up a new Kindle at the end of the year. I don't really need a new Kindle, so this is really just me postponing a stupid impulse purchase for a year. Slightly less than one new read off the Kindle each month seems doable, even if most of the candidates for reading are pretty meaty reads. After "Empty Mansions," I'll get to the book I should have started instead: "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman - the book that Michael Lewis writes about in the book I really want to read right now. Ballpark length of Kahneman is another 500 pages. Some goals are easier than others.

The Handwritten Bible Project
I've taken a stab at this idea since I first encountered it in 2009. Somewhere in a stack of half-used notebooks are a few full books selected for transcription. But at some point last year (or possibly the year before), I decided to start doing it a bit more systematically and begin from Genesis. Naturally, I then decided to skip Genesis and start with the second book: Exodus. Don't ask - I do this a lot. Since then, I've properly scolded myself for doing a Tarantino to the biblical timeline. I end 2016 about halfway through Genesis, with a goal of "about 200" chapters transcribed for the year netting me a new Bible at the end of the year. That finish line is set at completing 1 Samuel in 365 days - by far the most ambitious goal and one I've got absolutely no track record of demonstrating sustained ability to meeting said goal. That said, THIS is a pretty sweet motivator.

The (New) January Plan: Learn to play keyboards
So I've had the keyboards set up since before Christmas and have had some spastic attempts at dedicating practice time toward it. I'll be going through the Alfred teaching method to develop a few skills and habits. I could probably stand to locate an actual human teacher for a bit more accountability in that process and I haven't been terribly aggressive in seeking one out yet. What I have found out is that Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" is in the key of C (translation: no black keys!). And that gives me an incredibly wonderful end goal for the month.

The (Old) January Plan: Study Public Administration
There are two books involved here:

The first is a collection of historical writings involving the subject. The second offers background and context to the writers and ideas involved in the subject.

I've chosen as my starting point to read up on two folks in particular: Luther Gulick (Mastering - Ch. 3) and Mary Parker Follett (Mastering - Ch. 4). Together with the concluding Chapter 10 ("The Study of Public Administration: Origins, Development, Nature), I think that gives me a decent launching pad into a few areas of Public Admin that I'm not recalling well from my college years.

There are three chapters of Classics that track with the two writers I've chosen:

  • Ch. 8 - The Giving of Orders (Follett, 1926)
  • Ch. 9 - Notes on Theory of Organization (Gulick, 1937)
  • Ch. 10 - Report of the President's Committee on Administrative Management (Gulick et al, 1937)

That's designed to get me about halfway through the month at about three chapters a week. I'll save the thrilling details on further chapters as they approach. Feel free to follow along if you feel so inclined. I'm sure that this subject matter is guaranteed to the wildly popular at parties and other social gatherings.

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