reading books

My To-Learn List

my to-learn list That booked I picked up from the library, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever Will, is turning out to have a lot more value than I originally thought. Although I already have a college degree, the book is full of neat idea on how to keep learning and growing, which is something that can be done whether or not you have completed higher education. Today's neat idea is coming up with a list of things you want to learn, and then getting starting on learning one of those things. I like this because there's always things we want to learn, especially since those things we want to learn aren't the same things that are taught in schools.

So, below is my list of things I want to learn how to do or to learn more about. At the end of it, I'll pick one and start learning more, whether that's by reading a book, or talking to someone, or trying a few things out on my own. The point is to come up with something that can be a self-directed project of learning and building skills.

What I Want to Learn

  • Russian (again)
  • How to Make My Own Soap (dish soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hand soap etc.)
  • To Play the Clarinet (again)
  • American History
  • World History
  • How to Register Non-Profit
  • How to Cook Vegan Food
  • How to Brew Espresso
  • Some type of aerobics, such as zumba, yoga etc.

Be More Specific...

  • Learn to have a conversation in Russian
  • Learn how to make your own laundry detergent
  • Learn how to use an espresso machine and make a delicious latte
  • Learn how to register a non-profit in Missouri
  • Learn to play a song on the clarinet
  • Learn how to do a few basic poses in yoga
  • Learn enough U.S history to ace the history part of this eighth grade exam
  • Learn African history post-European emancipation

My Choice for What I Want to Spend My Time Learning

Of all those wonderful things I can learn, the one I'm going to choose to work is the U.S history one. I remember reading the article about that test a few months ago, and I was a little embarrassed that I found it so tough. The spelling section is easy, but physiology is crazy and grammar isn't all that easy either. I'm going to get started on this by borrowing a U.S history book the next time I go the library, and then reading up on the specific topics covered in the test. It's kind of nice I don't need to study anything beyond 1912. In a future post, I'll talk about what I've learned (besides the answers to the questions, of course). In the meantime, there are a few things about our nation's history that I need to learn, and that many of us probably need to learn as well.

5 Books I Will Read This Fall

books to read this fallSo, summer is officially over (in the sense that school starts or has started. I understand it still feels like summer out there in some places.) As for my summer reading list, I read 4.5 out of the five books (I've read much more than 4.5, but not all of them were on the list). I'm in the middle of Harrington on Hold 'Em, and it's a great book that has augmented my poker game plenty so far. I've come to a point in the book that I need to read over a couple of times, as there are lots of good information there that I need to soak in so I can incorporate into my game. Since I will eventually finish that book (I've seriously committed to improving my poker skill and making some quality dough from it), I'm not going to put it on my fall reading list. The reading list is for myself, as it's supposed to be for fun and for personal development. Here are the five books I will read this fall, with fall ending on December 1st right after the Thanksgiving holiday (Thanksgiving is totally fall).

Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America

I've started this book, and it was something that piqued my interest since I read The New Jim Crow. Institutionalized racism, and the idea of race in general, is very intriguing to me since it's treated so differently in Hawaii and the state doesn't have the same racial history and experience as the rest of the United States. I like it so far, and I particularly like how the author covers racism since the early years of the United States. I'm curious to see if, and how, he tackles the drug war and how much he covers of the current climate.

Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America

I'm really excited to read this once, since I work in media and am incredibly curious about money, politics, and how these things affect the media. I feel like I'm going to be blown away by what's in this book because I'm somewhat aware of the problem and what's going on, but I think that what I know is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to know what this book has to say.

Collision 2012: Obama Vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America

This book tells the story of the 2012 presidential election. I understand that I was there, and am very aware of what happened, but the 2012 election was an eventful 18, 24 months. There were lots of, noteworthy people saying lots of, well, noteworthy things. I don't mind reliving it again, especially since this book offers insight and perspective that I wouldn't have experienced when everything was taking place.

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield

This one is our current book club reading for our Amnesty International chapter. I've started it, but it's a beast of a book (over 500 pages), and I would like to finish it before our October meeting. It's essentially about America's covert wars, drone strikes, and the U.S foreign policy of "the world is a battlefield." Once I'm able to borrow it again from the library, I'll make it a point to read it.

Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't

I started this one on a random day at the library. I need to kill some time before and event, and it was hot out, so sitting in the library and picking a book to read seemed like a good idea. This was the book I found. I read the introduction and I want to read the rest. It's about Congress' response to the financial crisis, particularly the whole story behind getting the Dodd-Frank Act passed. From what I understand, this bill was stripped of much of its teeth that even though it passed, it really doesn't do anything to regulate any industries or to change any of the things that led to the crash in 2008 in the first place.

I Have Better Things to Do Than This Blog Post

studious and fuzzy I know I put a picture there of a fuzzy bear being smart and getting things done, but I could have come a lot closer to that bear today. I certainly didn't spend the entire day goofing off (and I have several hours of my day still, so I may be a bit quick to judge), I definitely got my game time and my reading time in. At the very least, I am as cute as that bear.

I Don't Know if I'll Finish My Summer Reading List!

I only have one book left on my summer reading list: Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play, and summer ends in a few weeks. However, I really don't know if I'll get to it before the beginning of September. I'm currently reading Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield as part of my Amnesty International's chapter book club reading, and this book is about 600 pages long. I certainly won't finish it by the time I have to return it to the library since there's a waiting list and I won't be able to renew. I also need to read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which I've already missed once since I didn't realize that I only had a week to pick up a book that's on hold from the library. Lean In should be an easy read, something that I can finish in a couple of days. Harrington on Hold 'Em should be the same way. Perhaps I just need to commit and to do some power reading! Once September hits, I can work on my fall reading list, which will probably be twice as long as the summer reading list because there are so many awesome, informative books to read in the world.

Video Games are Amazing

Been playing lots and lots of Rogue Legacy. I've beaten the game once and I have two more achievements left: finding all of the blueprints and beating the game a second time (the second go-around is much harder). My original plan was to beat Rogue Legacy a second time before moving on to any other games, but I couldn't wait. I started playing Grand Theft Auto III again, and it's just as amazing as I remembered. Although I've only done two missions, I want to get all the other side quests out of the way, like collecting the cars and doing the obstacle course. Those things only get tougher as you progress through the game because the rival gangs are after you and will shoot at you as you walk or drive by.

I probably won't be buying any video games anytime soon. Don't Starve just went through an update and has an update every three weeks, so the next time I play that there will be a whole bunch of new things to try and to explore. By the time I do play it again, I have a feeling there will be about six or seven updates and all sorts of new creatures, characters, items etc. Perhaps I need to remind myself (and show all of you) the awesomeness:

Tomorrow's Friday, although I don't really deserve any Friday. I need to be doing my work and getting more things done. I have a coffee review site that I need to make happen. I need to think about the next question I'm going to answer, and what that answer is going to be. I need to do better at eating healthier. I need to come up with a new goal and action steps so that I keep everything moving in the right direction. There's a hell of a lot I need to do.

In Need of Practical Brain Stimulation

avid readingNew research published today suggests that brain-stimulating activities such as writing and reading books slows down our cognitive decline as we age. The sooner you start, the better, as cognitive decline can begin as early as 27. Also, some reading and writing is better than none at all. It looks like I am in an excellent line of work, where I am easily writing 1500 words a day. I am currently working on my summer reading list, and am forcing myself to read one chapter per day so I can get through the book I am reading now (and can move on to other interesting books that I've been wanting to read for some time). Once I finish this book, I'll only have one more book left to read. Once I finish that book, I'll create my fall reading list.

About Those Findings

I would be interested in seeing if there would be difference in cognitive decline among reading paperback/hardcover books, reading eBooks, and reading articles and blog posts online, with all else being equal and accounted for. I would think there would be difference, as I would presume that someone using an electronic device to read something will be much more prone to distractions than someone with an actual book. I mean, email notifications don't pop up in those hardcovers. I also think that because of the versatility, those reading on the electronic devices might also be much more likely to multitask, which has to affect our brains somehow. Then again, I am just taking a few wild guesses here. I am not an expert in neurology.

Speaking of Brain-Stimulating Activities

I need a lot of good ideas for a lot of things coming up, primarily good content and article ideas for my clients, my blog, Stirring Media, and Gateway Grounds. The end of the month is coming up, which is when I put together my editorial calendar for the next month, or several months, depending on how often the blog publishes. You need to do these things ahead of time, so that you aren't stuck the day of or the day before trying to come up with something good to write about.

One of the most pressing ideas is content for Insight2Incite Magazine, a St. Louis up-and-coming publication. They need a lot of help, and one of my ideas for creating content on a regular basis is start a column of my own (I know that the last thing I need in my life is more commitments and more stuff to write, but this is a good opportunity to build my personal brand.) I have no idea what this column would be about, which is where I need to spend my time first. I have other options and ideas on how to fill in what's missing, but the column takes precedence since I have the most control over the column.

Rogue Legacy is So Awesome!

In the meantime of all this important thinking stuff, I think I will play some Rogue Legacy. It's a really awesome game that you should get if you haven't already. It's available on Steam, or you can get it directly from them for the PC. It's a pretty straightforward game, but what makes it fun is that every time you play is different. You have a choice of characters, but your choices are always different because different classes and abilities are offered to you. The castle changes every single time you die, so it's not about memorizing the level but on memorizing how the enemies attack and on how rooms are set up. I seems easy, but it's not. Fortunately, you get stronger each time you die.

5 Top Priorities in Life Right Now

top life priorities For today's SuperBetter quest, I am to list the three to five top priorities in my life right now. There are things that, today, are the most important to me in the world. So, I'm doing that, and here are my top five life priorities right now, in no particular order.

My Business

This is a top priority (and the top time suck) in my life right now, if not the number one priority. Every day, I am doing one thing to continue moving Stirring Media into the direction of a digital media company. I finally ordered a few roasts from my affiliate partners yesterday, so once those come in and are reviewed, I can finally open up that avenue for income. My goal is to be ready for August 22. There's an amazing networking event happening that night, and I've already bought my ticket, so my plan is to make that the first night that I network and present Stirring Media in person as a digital media company.

Eating Healthy

Naturally, this is a huge priority right now since I am doing my daily quests to get better at eating healthier and to knock two things off of my life goals/bucket list. I am currently focusing on abstaining from eating out for an entire month (eating out includes restaurants and fast food as well as frozen dinners. It does not include buying a coffee). I am a week into that one and still going strong. I have tons of food ready to be made into meals, and it's going to be delicious and exciting. Once this month is over, I'm going to then focus on going vegan for an entire year. Part of the reason why I didn't commit to both at the same time is that I needed to eat all sorts of meat and dairy products that were already in the house. Since they will be gone by the time the month is over, going vegan will be easier and I won't have to waste food to do it.

Human Rights Activism

Twice a month, I meet with the St. Louis Amnesty International chapter to plan events, to write letters on issues, and to build awareness for human rights issues. Three times a week, I write a blog post for the chapter's blog covering chapter activities, the latest human rights news, and tips and tricks on how other human rights activists can be more effective activists. I am also currently reading the book Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (It's a good read, but not an easy one). My human rights activism is my way of helping others and giving back to the community. It also can be very marginalized and stigmatized work, which means that it's work that needs to be done but that few people want to take the initiative to do.


Poker is a definite life priority, as once I finish my current goals in SuperBetter I'm going to set a few quests, bad guys, and power ups to help me get better at poker and to commit to building my bankroll. Once I finish the healthy eating bucket list goals, I'm going to work on the poker ones on the list. I think these goals will take the longest and the most work to accomplish, as no one gets to play in Bobby's Room or win a World Series of Poker bracelet over night. That level of skill takes a lot of time and discipline.

Reading Books

I'm making it a point to finish my summer reading list and to continue reading books on topics that interest me. It's been a LONG time since I've read for fun regularly. I am pushing myself to finish Pathologies of Power, since it is a long book that's very dense and somewhat long-winded. The content is interesting, but the book is designed to be a college textbook and not a good old non-fiction book that you can get through in a few days. I have tons of books waiting for me, and I'm pushing myself to get through this book so I can read all my other books. There are so many things I need to learn!

Bonus Priority: Playing Rogue Legacy!

As I've been saying this whole week, I finally purchased Rogue Legacy today! I redeemed my points and was able to get it, as well as The Cave and the Grand Theft Auto pack. I was able to get three games instead of two (well seven games instead of five since the pack came with five games) because the pack had an additional discount today on Steam. This made enough room in the budget for one more game. I have enough gaming to last me the rest of the year. So, I'm going to get to work on that gaming and play more Rogue Legacy!