Saturday, December 17, 2005

Zest to learn

From Rob on 43 things:
Rob42 things
become a polymath
I'm thinking of altering this goal. — 11 weeks ago
There is much more I want to study than Philosophy. Someday I will read Nietzsche, and the works of other Philosophers (I would like to ask Paolo for a good place to start).
I would also like to learn some Classical History (perhaps you can point me in the right direction, Zhaneta?). I’ve read some tantalizing bits of works by Aristotle and Plato, but I want to read more. I want to know more about the Greeks and the Roman Empire.
I want to learn more about Eastern Philosophy/History/Religions. The history of China and India must be fascinating, or so I would like to think from the tiny amount that I know of them. I want to read Sun Tzu. I know something of Japanese history, but not nearly enough.
I want to learn more Science. Physics, especially. I would like to be able to understand Quantum Mechanics, General Relativity and String Theory. I will never stop learning Physics, but I want to know more about Astronomy, Biology (Evolution especially), Chemistry and Mathematics. Mathematics is something that is very interesting to me, but it cannot compete with Physics when it comes to drawing my attention. However, I would like to learn as much abstract mathematics as I can. Riemannian Geometry is something that I would like to learn more about. One day, one very distant day, I would like to be able to say, with a straight face that I understand Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.
I would like to learn more about the world’s many and various cultures, their countries and languages also. People fascinate me, particularily “unusual” people. I don’t mean unusual in any kind of negative sense, merely people that are different from the kind of people that I encounter in day to day life. Foreign people are an example of what I mean, but not the only example that I can think of. Being an eccentric, I am naturally attracted to other eccentrics.
I would like to learn more about life. There are some things that you cannot learn by reading books or doing feverish calculations. Life, for instance. I need to get out there and experience it. I envy the free spirit who goes where s/he wants when s/he pleases. Love, also. I envy people who wear their heart on their sleeve. I wish I could be spontaneous instead of worrying about what the consequences might be. I think this kind of learning is what differentiates between knowledge and wisdom.
Almost all of my goals involve learning in some way; either directly or indirectly. I would like to argue that almost everyone on 43Things is the same. I’m going to change this goal to “Become a Polymath”.
I want to die with a smile on my face and a mind full of knowledge. If I can gain some wisdom while accumulating that knowledge, I am certain that I will be smiling when my time comes as I will know that I have lived a good life.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


100 IDEAS FOR KINDNESS 1. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.2. Collect goods for a food bank.3. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.4. Garden clubs can make floral arrangements for senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations, or shut-ins.5. Adopt a student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.6. Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.7. Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen.8. Merchants can donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.9. Bring coworkers a special treat.10. Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.11. Buy a stranger a free pizza.12. Distribute lollipops to kids.13. Sing at a nursing home.14. Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents. 15. Slip paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.16. Have a charity day at work, with employees bringing nonperishable food items to donate.17. Serve refreshments to customers.18. Draw names at school or work, and have people bring a small gift or food treat for their secret pal.19. Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.20. Treat someone to fresh fruit.21. Pay a compliment at least once a day.22. Call or visit a homebound person.23. Hand out balloons to passersby.24. Give free sodas to motorists.25. Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say “Hello.”26. Transport someone who can’t drive.27. Mow a neighbor’s grass.28. Say something nice to everyone you meet today.29. Send a treat to a school or day-care center.30. Volunteer at an agency that needs help.31. Wipe rainwater off shopping carts or hold umbrellas for shoppers on the way to their cars.32. Give the gift of your smile.33. Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.34. Adopt a homeless pet at the humane society.35. Organize a scout troop or service club to help people with packages at the mall or grocery.36. Host special programs or speakers at libraries or bookstores.37. Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for ten minutes.38. Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.39. Write notes of appreciation and bring flowers or goodies to teachers or other important people, such as the principal, nurse, custodian, and secretary.40. Incorporate kindness into the curriculum at area schools, day care centers, or children’s classes in faith organizations.41. Give a hug to a friend.42. Tell your children why you love them.43. Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.44. Pat someone on the back.45. Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way.46. Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.47. Donate time at a senior center.48. Give blood.49. Visit hospitals with smiles, treats, and friendly conversation for patients.50. Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.51. Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.52. Give another driver your parking spot.53. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.54. Give free car washes.55. Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.56. Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.57. Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.58. Let your staff leave work an hour early.59. Have a clean-up party in the park.60. Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.61. Have everyone in your office draw the name of a Random Acts of Kindness buddy out of a hat and do a kind act for their buddy that day or week.62. Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.63. Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.64. Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.65. Open the door for another person.66. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.67. Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.68. Leave a bouquet of flowers on the desk of a colleague at work with whom you don’t normally get along.69. Call an estranged family member.70. Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.71. Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.72. Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.73. Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.74. Give friends and family kindness coupons they can redeem for kind favors.75. Be a friend to a new student or coworker.76. Renew an old friendship by sending a letter or small gift to someone you haven’t talked with in a long time.77. For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.78. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.79. Invite someone new over for dinner.80. Buy a roll of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.81. Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip. Be sure to be specific in your thanks.82. Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.83. When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.84. Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.85. Distribute kindness bookmarks that you have made.86. Create a craft project or build a bird house with a child.87. Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.88. Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously.89. Plant a tree in your neighborhood.90. Make a list of things to do to bring more kindness into the world, and have a friend make a list. Exchange lists and do one item per day for a month.91. Use an instant camera to take people’s photographs at a party or community event, and give the picture to them.92. As you go about your day, pick up trash.93. Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.94. Send a gift anonymously to a friend.95. Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.96. Buy books for a day care or school.97. Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.98. Take an acquaintance to dinner.99. Offer to take a friend’s child to ball practice.100. Waive late fees for the week.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Top 15 American Poems

Weekend Edition - Sunday, December 26, 1999 · Commentator and historian Douglas Brinkley put together a panel of distinguished poets and professors to pick the top 15 American poems of the century. Brinkley is distinguished professor of history and director of the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans. Here is his list:
Number 1: T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland"
Number 2: Hart Crane, "The Bridge"
Number 3: Allen Ginsburg, "Howl"
Number 4: Langston Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
Number 5: Robert Frost, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"
Number 6: Carl Sandburg, "The People, Yes"
Number 7: Ezra Pound, "Pisan Cantos"
Number 8: Wallace Stevens, "The Snow Man"
Number 9: William Carlos Williams, "Patterson"
Number 10: Elizabeth Bishop, "In the Waiting Room"
Number 11: Robert Lowell, "For the Union Dead"
Number 12: e e cummings, "Somewhere I have never traveled, gladly beyond"
Number 13: Gertrude Stein, "Lifting Belly"
Number 14: Robinson Jeffers, "Shine, Perishing Republic"
Number 15: Charles Olson, "The Maximus Poems"

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Logical Song by Supertramp

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.
There are times when all the world’s asleep,

The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learnedI know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.
Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a
radical,Liberal, fanatical, criminal.

Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
Acceptable, respecable, presentable, a vegtable!
At night, when all the world’s asleep,

The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.

Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learnedI know it sounds absurdBut please tell me who I am.