Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: statistics

Podcast Review #2: Buddhism, Stats, and Grammar

I have neglected this gem of a recurring post, haven’t I? If memory serves, and yes, I can go back and look but it’s far more fun to rely on memory, I only did a podcast review only once. Holy…I did go look it up. It’s been longer than I thought! I posted Podcast Roundup #1 all the way back in April. Why? I loved writing it and I love podcasts. I have plenty of notes from my listening time every week. Hm…consistency isn’t my strong suit. But here we are again, so let’s jump in!

Podcast review driving notes.

Each week I spend a total of about four hours alone in the car driving down to the city to visit with friends. I decided a few years ago that it would be time well spent if I made a playlist of my favorite podcasts to listen to and it has been a wealth of greatness. On my last road trip with my husband, I introduced him to a few of my favorite economics and political podcasts and we had a blast listening, pausing, and heatedly discussing what was being said. Far more fun than simply listening to our favorite albums, especially since we have diverging musical interests.

This week’s podcast review includs Buddhism, statistics, an author interview, and some funny grammar.

First on my playlist was Secular Buddhism #8 – Problems with Terminology & Symbols.

The “symbols” part is what leapt out at me. Symbols are something I’ve seen people battle over and I never understood why. I still don’t really. It’s just a flag. It’s just a ring. It’s just a piece of bread. Symbols are used to remind us of something important, not to replace or represent an idea, person, or thing.

My wedding ring is not my marriage. It’s there to remind me of my promise. If I take it off and forget to put it on, if I lose it, I have not forgotten or lost my marriage. If I take it off and give it back, or throw it away, I’m using it as a symbol that the marriage is over. It’s the intent, not the action that tells the story. It’s the same with any symbol. Symbols are not sacred, they are reminders.

He went over some specific Buddhist symbols, so I made a note to look them up when I had some time. My favorite symbol is the meditation beads, many individual pieces connected to make a whole. I found an interesting site that explains some others at buddhistsymbols.com.

Next up was my first experience with Rationally Speaking. I heard the host, Julia Galef, interviewed on EconTalk last week and was so impressed with her that I wanted to hear more. This episode was an interview with Tim Harford about his book “The Data Detective.”

Yes, I’ve added The Data Detective to my TBR list, and used my new book tracking notecard file to record where I heard about it and why I want to read it! More about that in another post because I know you want to hear about it and try it.

In fact, I think we all should add that book to our TBR pile. It seems we could all use some help in that area so that the stats are less likely to be used scare us all into submission.

The thing he said that struck me was the question he hears so often is, “How do I get my dumb friend to stop being so dumb?” We’ve all thought that. Right? He says it’s strange that it seems no one wants to fix their own reasoning. Their reasoning is fine, just like their driving. It’s everyone else that’s a maniac.

This interview went right along with the ideas I’m reading in “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt, who I saw she also has interviewed. Weird the connections that keep coming up.

One more thing from that interview. He said, “We think in stories not numbers.” I agree, most of us do think in stories that’s why it’s so easy for someone to look at the statistics, create a story to explain them, and then use it to get people to do what they want them to do. We all need to be aware of that if we are going to be better at thinking rationally.

Side note: I wrote “Bring Your Cup” in my notebook. Maybe I’ll remember next time, but I bought the most awesome travel mug at Target a few months ago and I keep forgetting to bring it to Panera! I bought it so that I could use my own cup when I went out for breakfast with friends and then be able to take a last cup for the road and not have it get cold in ten minutes. Bring your cup you silly girl, sheesh!

Grammar Girl is always a fun listen. The cadence of her voice is sing-songy and I can’t listen to it for long, but her episodes are short, usually pretty funny and filled with interesting tidbits. This episode was about particles and prepositions. Formal grammar is not my strong suit. I’ve tried to learn the rules and be able to sort out the how’s and why’s but it’s just not in me. My sons are brilliant at it, and they do it for fun. Nerds!

She went over the origin of a few words and the difference between “I was run over by the car” and “The car ran over me.” But my favorite was this line, “This is the kind of pedantic nonsense up with which I will not put.” It just struck me as hilarious, and I had to write it down.

And last, but certainly not least, I listened to CNF, the Creative Non-Fiction Podcast with Brendan O’Meara on the way home. I love this guy! Just about every week I listen to him interview an author and I find things to connect with, be inspired by, and things I never would have guessed would be interesting. Episode #264 Rachel Monroe Talks About the Things Writers Don’t Tweet About was an inspiring one.

My takeaway was, once again, I’m in the same boat as every other writer. “How do I have any authority to write anything?!” is a question we all ask ourselves. I’m not perfect. I’m not the master of anything. I’ve never completed a degree or have some certificate that says I know what I’m talking about. Who do I think I am?

I’m me. And I am the master of my own perspective. I have every right to share my experience the best way I know how. Right now, that means blogging here with you. The more I learn, the more I want to share. The more I share, the more I learn. It’s as simple as that. I’ll keep writing.

One more thing before I go! Do you support anyone on Patreon? I have in the past. I find it to be a great way to support individual creators for what they give the world for free. This week I finally (sorry it took so long Brendan!) went over and added Brendan O’Meara to my support list. I’ve listened to his podcast every week for years and never been disappointed. It’s time I gave something back. I hope it helps keep you on the air, man. You’re awesome.

There you are my friends, a second glorious podcast review! Do you listen to podcasts? When do you find time to listen? Do you have any favorites to share? Shoot me a comment and let me know. I’d love to try them out!

I making a solemn vow to do this podcast review more often, but I doubt it will come every week. Would every month do? I think so!

What Did My Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?

That’s it! A book blog!

I think I’ve found my niche! Until this year, I didn’t even know a “book blog” was a thing and here I am a crushing it. Ok, well maybe “crushing” isn’t the right word, but I’m definitely onto something important. An impending empty nest feeling has been making me uncomfortable enough to seek out some new endeavors.

How can I combine my love of reading with my obsession for making lists? Can I use my curiosity and my love of written communication to convey my crazy thoughts about the books I read and the world around me? Sure! Why not?!

This is year four of keeping track of the books I read, and I have to say this year’s numbers were a little bit disappointing. I thought I spent way more time with my face in a book that the previous year, but I guess I was wrong. Of course, this doesn’t include time I spent in magazines and online articles, so maybe that’s what I was feeling.

20172018 20192020
31 books49 books 71 books71 books
376.24 hours432.05 hours 694.95 hours652.13 hours
10,133 pages14,309 pages 23,948 pages22,087 pages
1.03 hours per day1.84 hours per day 1.9 hours per day1.79 hours per day
12.14 hours per book8.82 hours per book 9.79 hours per book9.18 hours per book
I love making tables!

To put a positive spin on things, I may have spent slightly less time reading but I did increase my writing and posting time, so I’m not too upset. Writing more consistently was another goal of mine for 2020 and I did improve my stats there. Maybe I should start keeping a journal about that!

A screen shot of my book blog statistics.
Screen shot of the relevant blog stats.

In the final months of the year, I finally found a good rhythm of reading, writing, and posting and it has continued into this year. It’s exciting to see slow and steady improvement and I’m looking forward to seeing grown over the coming months.

Unlike last year, I didn’t spend New Year’s gathering up the books I read and making a big pile. I planned on it. I told my husband I would. “I’ll gather them, count them, and lay among them reminiscing about the past” is what I told him. He looked at me so strangely. I showed last year’s post and my notebook to a friend and explained to him how fun it was hunting all those books down. He was confused and maybe a little frightened as well.

But it wasn’t the fear of being strange that stopped my egg hunt this New Year’s but the insistence that we do something normal for the holiday. For the first time in many years, we had a gathering of sorts. Booze was consumed. Pool was played. Food was eaten. And much to my disbelief, we made it past midnight! It was…DECENT in all the worst ways.

I guess we had a little too much fun because we’re already a third into January and I’m finally getting to one of my favorite posts of the year. Yesterday, I spent a few hours thumbing through my journals, making lists, and smiling at old posts.

A physical journal of my book blog stats!

Yes, I know there are apps for this but what fun would that be?! I’ve tried it before and found that I only obsess and get stressed out when I watch my average in real time, or notice that others on the app are “doing better” than I am. I read at my own pace. It’s not a race but a daily habit, a personal journey. My stats are just for me to reflect on…and show you so you know how truly weird I am. Besides, I love paper and intend to keep using it!

Something about the tactile holding of bound paper, the pen in my fingers, the smooth glide of a great pencil on paper…HOT!

Here’s this year’s breakdown by genre…

Fiction: 33Non-Fiction: 39
Sci-Fi: 3 Essays:1
YA Novel: 4History: 5
Romance: 1Politics: 1
Novel: 11Memoir/Biography:6
Thriller: 2Writing/Reading:7
Historical Fiction: 1Science (Philo.,Sociol.,Psycho.): 8
Plays: 1Mythology/Religion: 3
DNF (Did Not Finish): 2Self-Help: 7

Personal Observation: I’m all over the place in genre! I’d say I’d change that in the coming year and focus, but…not going to happen. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I read what I like, what interests me at the moment. Following rabbit holes is my style and I’m not giving it up!

Besides that, take a look at my 2021 TBR pile! It’s overflowing!

2021's book blog TBR pile
2021's book blog TBR pile

For years I have had a running wish list on Amazon, books I’m planning on reading someday. I’m thinking about changing that this year. The wish list is long, and I find myself losing track of things, which books are related to what and how they got to my list. I need a better system, preferably one that involves a physical notebook…of course!

In the past, I have allowed myself only one shelf of TBR books. My unread books lay flat on that shelf to remind me of their unread status. If that shelf is full, I can’t buy more books. It keeps me honest. I’m not a book collector, I’m a book READER!

This year, amazingly enough, something changed. A friend planned on selling and donating her library while she got ready to move out of state, but her house sold more quickly than she had anticipated, so she called me to help. I have never felt so honored in my life. Name a child after me? A town? Give me the keys to the city? Means nothing to me. Tell me that you trust that I’ll take care of getting an enormous pile of books into the right hands? I had to sit down and take minute to collect myself.

Two truckloads of books found themselves on my front porch. It was glorious. The possibilities! Of course, I combed through them all, putting them in piles, shaking them out and organizing them into boxes by genre. I found over eighty books to keep for myself, many of which were already on my wish list, were by authors I already love, or about subjects I am currently interested in. Those are the books you see in the pictures. Since I only read about 70 books a year, 2021’s reading dance card is full.

What I will do with the rest is still being debated. They are safe for now. Some have already found homes, but the majority are still homeless as we speak. I have some ideas floating around about what I can do with them. That’s part of the fun!

So…what’s in store for 2021? More reading. More writing. Less worrying. Less fussing over details. My youngest child leaves the nest in a few weeks, for university in another state. I’ll have even more time to sit around and cry…I mean, read and write! You’ll see! It’s going to be an epic year!

Each month I send out a newsletter highlighting my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’ll receive a special edition only available to my email followers…mmm…so exclusive!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: