In between sessions of playing Forza 7 Motorsport on Xbox One, I finished reading Homer’s The Odyssey, thanks to a wonderful translation by Emily Wilson. I was initially very intimidated by the thought of reading a nearly 3000-year old work of literature, but the language was so accessible.

I have no experience the type of prose found in English versions of The Odyssey, which is iambic pentameter. I taught myself to read with a certain rhythm to avoid rushing through it like any other work of fiction. I wanted to enjoy each page, each book of the 24 in all.

Now that I have read The Odyssey, I can now claim to understand obscure references to Scylla and Charybdis, which is just a fancy way of saying “between a rock and a hard place”. I also remember reading Greek mythology when I was a young boy, so this work brought back some good memories.

I am not sure what to read next. I have a couple of books on urbanism on the go (including Jane Jacobs’ canonical, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities“). In terms of fiction, I was thinking that I might finally tackle Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

The Goodreads challenge

I have been busy trying to complete the 2017 Goodreads Challenge so in the last few weeks I have motored through the following books:

  • Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist, by Niall Ferguson
  • Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson
  • A Mind at Play (biography of Claude Shannon) by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman
  • The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
  • The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick
  • Invisible Armies by Max Boot
  • The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

That gets me to 14 out of the 20. I have a whole bunch of half-finished books on my Kindle for iPad app so I am confident I can get it done.

In parallel, I have been spending time building a number of LEGO Technic kits in parallel. I bought a Power Functions kit and a book that will help me understand how to create gearings with LEGO pieces. These LEGO Technic kit parts are compatible with my Mindstorms EV3 robot so I will be able to create some pretty cool models.

Lots of types of thinking

Computational thinking

This morning I read an interesting article in the New York Times about computational thinking. One interviewee described it as follows:

Skills typically include:

  1. recognizing patterns and sequences
  2. creating algorithms
  3. devising tests for finding and fixing errors
  4. reducing the general to the precise
  5. expanding the precise to the general

I am currently learning the Swift programming language using Apple’s Playgrounds application for the iPad as well as the Xcode integrated development environment (IDE) for creating applications on iOS and macOS. This has me practice points 2 and 3 quite a bit. I would say that points 1, 4 and 5 have been particular strengths of mine for a very long time.

Design thinking

I also recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about design thinking.

General thinking

This comes on the heels of finishing Michael Lewis’ book The Undoing Project, about the work of Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky. I am in the process of reading Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, before heading back to finish up Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, which goes into the different thinking systems that we call upon in different situations. After that book, I plan to read Hooked by Nir Eyal. These books touch on the topic of behavioural economics. I previously read Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.

I also read this article on Medium about how to remember what you read and I plan to re-read it again so that I can begin to apply its principles.