Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | December 31, 2011

“New Years” “Resolutions” and a Happy 2012

Happy New Years Eve! I rarely actually make “new years” resolutions, because I’m a firm believer of trying to improve myself and make/meet goals throughout the year, whenever they come up or I think of something. Plus I’m an academic… the new year starts in September, not January. However since it is that time of year where people generally discuss their goals and resolutions, and since I think it would be an interesting metric for me to see how I transform as I continue to blog, I will be listing some resolutions/goals for myself. I might decide to do this at the start of every month, or before every term (which is when I usually make my goals), or I might not… we’ll see. But at any rate, here are some things I want to work on:

1. Eat at least 1 fruit and 1 vegetable per day. You’d think this would be easy, but then, you don’t understand the sensory issues that go with my eating. I’m very picky about textures – the wrong texture can cause me to stop eating for a day or more. I generally eat way too many carbohydrates, because they are yummy and have a good texture. I can’t just mix up a vegetable stir-fry – too many textures. Plus most vegetables have a texture that I abhor. Relatedly, I make it to the grocery store at best once a week, usually more like once every 2-3 weeks, which means that most of the fruits/veggies will have either spoiled or been eaten. So perhaps my goal should realistically be to go to the store every week instead. I’m a fairly healthy individual, and I’m actually underweight (rather significantly), so eating a healthier diet isn’t for weight loss, but I’m hoping that if I manage to make this change, I will see positive changes in my mental and physical health. And yes, I know, it’s WAY below recommended levels of consumption, but what I eat now (maybe 1 fruit or 1 veggie in a day, if I’m actively trying to add it) is even worse. One of the things I’ve learned with goals is to make them attainable by breaking them up into baby steps. In the long term, I would like to have a healthier diet, because I know I’m getting older and can’t be sustained on my current diet forever. And on that note…

2. Become a more versatile cook. Usually I don’t make goals that involve such vague terms, so really, it should be more like “cook (and eat) at least 2 new and different meals each month” that I’ve never tried before. I’ve never been much of a cook, although I’ve been cooking for myself (and family) since I was 5. Maybe that has something to do with it. I have, over the years, expanded my available meal-types, but it’s not always easy, and they certainly aren’t all good for me. But I just really dislike putting lots of time and effort into something unless I know I am going to like it. So I got myself a book called “Cooking for Geeks”, which does an incredible job of explaining what ingredients do and why, along with having a bunch of awesome recipes. I’m currently in the “reading” stage, but hopefully it will help me expand my horizons in a way that is functional, guided, and controlled.

3. Post at least 1 blog entry per week. This whole blogging thing is new to me, but I really like it so far. It definitely helps me think, and it’s really fun to write things. I’ve never been a great writer (talk about pulling teeth when I was growing up) and practice is the way to get better. Plus I have a list that goes for 2 pages of topics I want to address at some point or other. I’ll also probably try to start adding posts on various science-y topics as well. (But on that note, I will not post more than twice a day as posting quickly becomes a time sink, and I have lots of other things I should also be writing, like the grant proposal due in a week.)

4. Read at least 1 fiction book per month. I love reading fiction (especially fantasy), but it often gets brushed to the side when I’m in school, because I tend to read everything for class and then just ignore the fiction. I have a kindle now (and LOVE LOVE LOVE it), and I’ve started reading lots more, because it’s just so easy, and due to the wonders of a digital library, rather inexpensive as well. I love my kindle because it has opened the world of fiction back up to me. I love getting lost in a (good) book, and it’s a great source of stress relief for me. Also, because it’s good practice, I will try to post a review of some of the books I read, especially those which I have enjoyed.

5. Read at least 3 non-fiction books that are unrelated to my current field of study this year. I love learning new things, but as with fiction books, I tend to go on single-minded pursuits of my subject and forget that there’s other things out there that are also really interesting. Additionally, as an interdisciplinary scientist, I recognize and want to celebrate the value of dabbling and understanding fields unrelated to one’s own. And I’ll post a review of the book, or at least a list of cool things I’ve learned.

6. Read at least 1 non-fiction book that is related to my current field of study every 2 months. When you’re a young scientist, the most important thing you can do is read, read, read. Absorb all you can about the history of the field, how it has changed over time, what the major theories are, who accepts and rejects what parts of them, and where the holes in the field are. And again, I’ll try to post a review of the book once I’ve finished.

7. Read at least 3 scientific papers that are not for class per week. Same reasons as number 6 – I want to become more well-read and versed in the whole field of my discipline, and to do that, I need to look beyond the assigned class readings.

8. Be better at getting my to-do list finished on a daily basis. I let myself wander and get distracted far too often and although I get great enjoyment out of wandering, I can definitely be more productive. This is a vague goal, and I don’t really have a way to measure it, but relatively important, so I’ll try.

9. Pass my departmental exam. As a PhD student, my first big hurdle is to pass my comprehensive exam at the end of the school year, in June. It’s a HUGE exam, and oral, and I alternate between being terrified of it and being extremely excited to take it. When I’m in a controlled situation, I can be highly verbal and LOVE talking about my special interest… after years of being abused for it, it’s finally ok for me to relish in my passion, and I’m respected and encouraged. But sometimes it’s really hard to get past that block that tells me what I’m doing is wrong and leaves me cowering. Ergo, I will dedicate time each day (at least 30 minutes) to studying for the exam, whether that be organizing, reviewing, or anything else. Because 30 minutes a day over 6 months is a lot of hours, and I know I’ll be spending much more than that 30 minutes for most of the time.

10. Stay physically active. I am very involved with activities that keep me active, flexible, and strong. Although it’s not a change in behavior, as traditional resolutions are supposed to be, it is important to me, because it’s not only a way for keeping my body healthy, but it’s also stress relief. I’ve been unfortunately denied of it in recent months because of an injury, and I have noticed a definite negative response. So injury or not, I am going to stay mobile, and active, even if it isn’t always to my full abilities.

So there we have it, some “resolutions”, some goals, and some general things I hope to accomplish in 2012.

And any book suggestions of the fiction or non-fiction variety are always appreciated. 🙂

Happy new year!



  1. I look forward to your book reviews, especially the science ones. I like nonfiction, but tend to read more fiction. This year I read 90 fiction books, and only 22 nonfiction.

  2. If you haven’t already read it, “This Alien Shore” by C.S. Friedman may be of interest. It’s science fiction rather than fantasy, but one of the running themes meshes well with something you said in your latest post.

    I’m re-reading one of my favorite fantasy series right now, the Darwath Trilogy by Barbara Hambly. (I think it has five books in it at the moment, but the original trilogy is my favorite.) Barbara Hambly’s fantasy is quite good. Both C.S. Friedman’s book and most of Barbara Hambly’s books are available on Kindle.

    I can toss in one other reason why reading non-fiction that’s unrelated to your field of study is a good idea: A lot of what constitutes experimental science is finding ways to do things that let you test your theories. Sometimes coming at a design problem from a new angle, or using new technologies that aren’t being publicized in your field of study can save a lot of time and heartache. Pursuing outside interests can make you a more versatile scientist.


  3. Thanks! I actually haven’t read “The Alien Shore” yet. I’m currently absolutely enamored of the King Killer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear so far), and they have quickly become my new favorite books…

    One of my favorite non-fiction books is a book called “This is your brain on Music”. I read it about 3 years ago and its really fascinating.

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