A Month of The Theory of Relativity

Calvin & Hobbes strip about the Theory of Relativity

For December I decided to stretch my brain and try to learn the Theory of Relativity by reading Einstein’s book Relativity: The Special and The General Theory.  I think that book required more pausing-to-think-or-do-research than any other book I’ve tried to read.

Since it seemed to me like some of the book’s content would be a lot easier to understand in video format, I started creating a (very amateur) video explanation of each chapter.  My intent with the videos was to help myself to understand the book better, and I thought that in the future I might be be able to create less-amateur versions to help others.

Early in the month I realized [Read more...]

A Month of Being Green

Food in Mason Jars

A few types of food that I now buy in a more environmentally friendly way (in bulk, in my own re-used containers). From left to right: Oats, Sliced Almonds, Chickpeas, Sunflower Seeds, Lentils, Quinoa, Sesame Seeds.

In August I decided to learn about the state of the world from an environmental perspective, and also learn what changes I could make myself to have less of an impact.

There are a ton of environmental issues, but I ended up focusing primarily on two of the major ones:

Climate Change:  We’re in a lot of trouble if we don’t change the trend.

Waste (specifically plastic):  The problem with plastic is that we produce a huge amount of it (just look down an aisle in any grocery store) and it never goes away. This month I learned that unlike glass & metal which can theoretically be recycled indefinitely, plastic usually either:

  • Doesn’t get recycled (a lot of the plastic that you put in your recycle bin simply takes a more expensive route to landfill because there’s no market for it), OR
  • Gets “downcycled” into other products like polyester which itself never breaks down and ends its life in landfill or the environment.

We’re producing a never-ending quantity of plastic on a finite earth, and poisoning the planet in the process.

To educate myself about these issues, [Read more...]

A Month of Learning Arabic

The word "Arabic" in Arabic

The word “Arabic” written in Arabic. Pronounced “al-arabiyya”.

There are 2 languages that I’d like to know how to speak, because I think they’re likely to be relevant in the future:

Mandarin: Because China is going to take over the world.
Arabic: Because of the conflicts between the Arab world & the West. [Read more...]

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...]