A Month of Reading Stephen Hawking

Cover of "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen HawkingAbout a decade ago I tried reading “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking, but I quit near the beginning. It seemed like it was going to take a great deal of brain power to understand it – and much more free time than I had available.

I decided that I’d come back to the book far in the future – perhaps when I retired – when I’d be able to dedicate the time and focus that the book required. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be smart enough to understand it even when I had the time available, however.

When I started doing something new each month, I added “Read A Brief History of Time” to my list of potential activities.  Then last month I read it, even though I’m not retired yet.

It was certainly complex, and I did a bunch of additional learning online to help myself understand some of the concepts in the book, but overall it wasn’t quite as hard to understand as I’d expected.

The are many parts of the book that I still don’t totally understand, but that’s because either: [Read more...]

A Month of Art

Pencil drawing of Adriana Lima with no makeup

My first drawing, after a few quick practice sketches. This was an attempt to copy a photograph of a model that I found online when I did a Google search for “no makeup”. Her name is Adriana Lima.  Here is the original photo.

I’ve never understood most art (especially modern art) and with the exception of two ~30 minute sketches that I can remember, I’d never tried to draw or paint anything since elementary school.

I’ve always admired highly realistic art like Robert Bateman’s paintings, but I didn’t “get” art that wasn’t representative.

So last month I decided that I’d try to learn how to do and understand art. [Read more...]

A Month of Studying Evolution

Evolution of humans from monkeys

I was raised Christian, and first believed, as I was told, that God created people.

When I was old enough to start reasoning, I heard about evolution as well as many of the holes that people try to poke in it (for example “Imagine a hurricane going through a junkyard and accidentally assembling a Boeing 747. That’s the kind of random chance required by evolution – it’s nuts!”)

The idea that random chance caused all life on earth did seem to me like a crazy idea. But an all-powerful God sitting outside the universe pulling invisible strings seemed like an equally crazy idea. I realized it didn’t make sense to reject one crazy idea (evolution) only to replace it with another crazy idea (God) for which I had no evidence.

So for a long time my opinion on how we came to exist was an agnostic “I don’t know.” [Read more...]

A Month of Google Plus

I know someone who has over 2 million followers on Google Plus. Inspired by her success, I decided to dust off my profile that I’d never really used and spend a month becoming a G+ celebrity like her.

I didn’t have a concrete goal, but hoped that I’d make interesting or useful connections with people, learn new things, drive traffic to this blog, and get some exposure for the company I work for.

I spent about an hour a day on G+. I updated my profile, followed a whole lot of people, joined communities based on my interests, participated in discussions, and created & shared posts.

It was hard. Not hard like climbing Mount Everest hard, but [Read more...]

A Month of Polyphasic Sleep

Monophasic Sleep - Typical Night - Zeo Graph

A typical night’s sleep from BEFORE I started polyphasic sleeping. This graph is from the night of Feb 11. Each bar in the graph represents 5 minutes of sleep. Time awake is 0:00 because it only counts only times woken up DURING the night; not time awake before falling asleep or after waking up in the morning.

They say there’s a way to add more waking hours into each day.  It’s called “polyphasic sleep”.  I’ve always wanted more waking hours (who wouldn’t?) so I decided to try polyphasic sleep for a month.

The idea is that by having naps throughout the day (“polyphasic sleep”), rather than by sleeping just once at night (“monophasic sleep”), you can get by on dramatically less sleep overall. [Read more...]