My New Years Resolution for 2012

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Jan 312012


I’ve never formally made New Years Resolutions before.  And I know, I’m publishing this a month late, but it’s taken me a month to really think about what I want to resolve and so publicly declare.  So here they are:

  1. Lose 20 pounds by August.
  2. Learn to code by December
  3. Pass PMP
  4. Write (at least) the first draft of my Book
  5. Master Major System
  6. Master Trachtenberg

OK, let me enumerate why I chose these and why I’m making a public declaration about them.

1. Lose 20 pounds by August.  Losing weight is probably the world’s most popular resolution, but I’m starting to feel hypocritical for writing so many posts on “why it’s so important to be fit as a dad” while being 20 pounds overweight myself.  Really, I used to be fit, and I am going to claim that most of this weight I gained as what I am calling “sympathy” weight gain.  And with Nathan starting to crawl and walk (he’ll definitely be walking by August), I want to be ready to chase him around the park and the beach.

2. Learn to code by December.  OK, this one sounds a little weird, but I read this article on on why learning to code should be on the new year’s resolution list and it made sense to me.  On top of which, as I continue to write for this blog and read other blogs and see how other people have configured and set up their sites, I want the ability to make modifications as I see fit without having to rely on someone else doing it for me or being locked into a format preset by the WordPress theme I use.  Ultimately I want the skill so that I can pass it along to my son, since, as this article from The Telegraph says, coding is the future and the sooner we can get our kids started the better.

3. Pass the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification.  This is more for myself, more of a professional goal.  I do a lot of project management at work, have taken a number of courses, so I figure I should get certified.  And it’ll help me (in theory) bring home more of the bacon, which is all for the little guy anyway.

4. Write (at least) the first draft of my Book.  This one, I’ve actually had on my list (in my head) ever since college.  I think I actually have more than two dozen completely different unfinished first drafts floating around on my hard drive somewhere.  As part of my effort and promise to be a more efficient and productive dad, and to set a good example for Nate to follow, I will complete at least the first draft in its entirety.  If I actually complete the final draft, then good for me, but I’m trying to be realistic here.

5. Master the Major System.  In a previous post I mentioned mnemonics and memory training in general.  In it, I made a promise that I’d relearn the art of memory and teach it to Nathan when he is born.  Well, I wrote that before Nathan’s birth, and now that Nathan is here, it’s time for me to walk the talk.  I figure I gotta get good at this stuff before I have any right or hope of teaching it to him, so I think I have about 5 years or so to get good at all of the various mnemonics techniques before he’s old enough for me to start teaching.  Heck, if Josh Foer can go from novice to memory champ in one year, I gotta be able to do this in 5, and I’m not trying for national championship status.  Incidentally, the Major system is a mnemonic method of memorizing numbers.  I deal with numbers all the time so this ought to be the most immediately useful to me…I think.

6. Master the Trachtenberg System.  I’m actually going to write a future post about Jakow Trachtenberg and his System of rapid mental calculation.  It’s actually an amazing and inspiring story in and of itself, but I mention it here because in the same spirit that I bring up mnemonics and how I plan to teach it to Nathan, I plan on doing the same for this system.  So again in the same spirit, I gotta get cracking on getting good at it first.  It’s not a complicated system, and one year should be more than enough time for me to learn it.

They say that making a public promise increases the chances that you’ll actually keep that promise.  It’s not necessarily true for our political leaders, but I hope it’s true for us new dads.  I will periodically post on my progress, maybe once a month.  Here goes and wish me luck.


To Be A Good Dad, Get In Shape

 Things Dad Should Know, To Be A Good Dad  Comments Off on To Be A Good Dad, Get In Shape
Jan 182012

OK, I’m probably gonna sound like I’m a broken record, but here’s yet another reason getting in shape, nay, being an active Dad is not only the best thing you can do for yourself, but also for your kids.

I’m going to unabashedly steal this from this great site,



Need I say more?


Deliberate Practice, Part 1: Intelligence Is Overrated

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Jan 182012

Talent, Excellence, Success – it’s all things we want to help nurture in our children.  A while back I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (OK, I listened to it as an audiobook, but it still counts).  In it, he talks about how some people become excellent at something, superstars and experts by doing what’s called deliberate practice.  This isn’t just rote practice, but a very specific set of activities where:

  • you start with an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses and a plan working on your weaknesses
  • you meticulously and step-by-step do whatever it is you want to work on, but always just outside your comfort zone so you’re not cruising through, but not quite freaking out either
  • work on those deficiencies or goals in small and measurable ways
  • get feedback (from a coach, a teacher, a mentor, an audience, somebody) on how well you are doing so that you can course correct
  • and do it again, day after day.

It’s how everyone from Tiger Woods to Bobby Fischer to Mozart to Einstein got good at what do do and did.

I’ve spoken of the blog by Cal Newport called Studyhacks before in a previous post.  He too talked about deliberate practice – in a way that’s probably a lot more eloquent than I could.  Recently he put up a post where he talks about a Reddit thread that he discovered that he thinks excellently captures the spirit of what this is all about.  I agree.  It’s from an MIT alumn to a poster (a high school student) who seems to be mildly freaking out about whether he’ll be smart enough to succeed at MIT.  It’s really worth checking out to hear, what I think is an inspiration (in a kick-in-the-pants sort of way) speech on how whether you succeed at something is a choice, and it’s a choice that you make yourself, and nobody else.

A lot of the time, we think that talent and intelligence is inborn, that you either have it or you don’t.  But a lot of modern research is showing that this is not the case, or at least there’s very compelling evidence that this not the whole story.  Things like deliberate practice is a method that we would do well to absorb into our lives, not just for ourselves, but so that we can teach its precepts to our kids, so that when they are old enough to pursue whatever it is they want to pursue, they not offer them encouragement and support, but actual concrete techniques and methods that they can use to become great.


Very Fit At 60 Years Old

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Jan 052012

OK, I was surfing Youtube and found this and had to share it.  I find this (a) inspiring, (b) embarrassing to me that I’m half his age and I’m nowhere near his physique, and (c) reminds me of my own pledge (and related post) that I will be a fit Dad for Nathan.

Watching this clip makes me want to go run or lift something heavy

Congratulations to my friend Rich at

 To Be A Good Dad  Comments Off on Congratulations to my friend Rich at
Dec 292011


I just wanted to take this space and time to say congratulations to my buddy Rich over at  I’ve plugged his website before – his site offers lots of cool ideas and templates on how to make unique pop-up cards.  Well, he has now joined the ranks of us new fathers.  He welcomed his little girl, Mikayla, on December 19, 2011.  Funnily enough, this means that she and my boy Nathan are exactly 7 months apart!

Rich old friend, welcome to the brotherhood of dads!  As I’ve said on your facebook page, you’ve been given a promotion from husband to dad and it comes with more responsibilities, more stress, more worries, less money, less sleep, less rest, questionable benefits, and absolutely no turning back – and you’re gonna love every single minute of it.