Journal Entry - Tuesday, May 4, 2024



Lady Liberty


“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Those words, spoken by Thomas Paine united the country behind the idea that freedom and democracy were worth fighting for. Today we face a different sort of trying times, a time when the founders vision of Democracy has been largely forgotten, or at least largely ignored.

Despite this chaos, there can be found reassuring ideas and images. I’m in New York and I had the opportunity to see Lady Liberty first hand yesterday. It reminds me that I must not give up hope that the American people will see their way through to keeping the flame of democracy burning, despite the efforts of many, now in positions of responsibility, to do the opposite.




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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/07/24



Day #262



In a study conducted by Carroll University in Wisconsin, cat owners demonstrated higher intelligence than dog owners. Cat owners also scored higher on the non-conformity scale. On the downside, cat owners demonstrate less “liveliness” than dog owners, but they show more signs of being introverted and sensitive (which I consider a plus). For every 6 “dog fans,” there is only 1 “cat fan.” That roughly corresponds to the “intelligence ratio” found in the general population…

Naturally, I’m a cat owner.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/06/24



Day #261


The Stoic Philosophers asked questions about “the good.” These are classic questions that all stoics contemplated.

  1. What does it mean for something to be good?
  2. What qualities make a person good?
  3. What makes someone’s life a good life?
  4. Does being a good person ensure you will live a good life?
  5. Is being a good person enough to say you have lived a good life, even if that life was filled with adversity?

What follows is my humble attempt to grapple as best I can with answers to these questions…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/05/24



Day #260


Stoic Question #1

What does it mean for something to be good?


Not an easy question. The stoics usually answered this question along the lines of “If something is in accord with nature, it is good.” Of course that in itself requires further explanation. My answer is, if a thing is in accord with its intended purpose and doing no harm to anyone or anything else, it is in conformity with what would be considered good.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/04/24



Day #259


Stoic Question #2

What qualities make a person good?


Now we are getting a little more specific. I could list many qualities of course, truth-telling, integrity, consistency, and many others. In my mind, this comes down to harm, or rather doing no harm. If the words you live by and the actions you take are always intended to be in the best interest of others and do no harm either intentionally or unintentionally, it can be said you are a good person. Of course, there is always the chance that unintentional harm can occur. To be practical, all steps necessary to avoid that result must be taken before deciding on a course of action.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/03/24



Day #258


Stoic Question #3

What makes someone’s life a good life?


Abiding as closely as possible with the dictate of Question #2 is a good start. I think there is a bit more to this. I think a person has to continually strive to grow intellectually and emotionally. Study is necessary, but self-reflection is critical to that growth as well. If when you reach the end of your life you sincerely believe you have become a better person than you were when you began your life journey, you have likely achieved a good life.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/02/24



Day #257


Stoic Question #4

Does being a good person ensure you will live a good life?


To put it simply. Yes. If you are successful in your quest to live as a good person and have achieved that goal to the best of your ability, you have lived a good life. (See Question #3.)



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 06/01/24



Day #256


Stoic Question #5

Is being a good person enough to say you have lived a good life, even if that life was filled with adversity?


Yes, it is enough. There will always be events and consequences that fall outside of your control. The notion that we control everything in the world that may impact us is nonsense. If we live a good life but are beset with adversity, that is our fate, but not our fault. Fate is not a reason to declare we have failed to live a good life.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/31/24



Day #255


I’ve been around long enough to know age is a state of mind.
I’ve seen things come and go,
And come back around again.
Some of life’s lessons have finally started sinking in.
If you don’t do nothin’ you will live to regret,
You won’t have to live with what you can’t forget.
If there is a secret to life,
It’s about staying in the here and now

— Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark


I’ve taken some minor liberties with the lyrics. This is one of my favorite songs. The point of this song for me is the idea that we should live the best life that we can. I suppose in some ways this is a Stoic notion, perhaps that’s why I like it. We should try to avoid doing things that will cause us to have regret. If we do find ourselves with regret, we should make every effort, not to forget what caused the regret, but to put that incident behind us. We will make mistakes, we should try and learn from them. We should keep focused on where we are and what’s in front of us.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/30/24



Day #254


The Benefits of Journaling:

  • Mindfulness
  • Patience
  • Personal Growth
  • Building Consistency
  • Reducing Stress
  • Stimulating Creativity

I suppose you’re wondering, why do I care about this? The answer is, you probably shouldn’t. I use journaling as a means to achieve peace. The rest of the benefits listed above are just frosting.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/29/24



Day #253


I need to quit interrupting people. It’s strange, often when I restrain myself and the conversation proceeds without my interjections, I realize that what I was eager to say had little real relevance. Hopefully that is not case when I wait my turn to speak…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/28/24



Day #252


Is there anything better than the practice of examining one’s entire day? —Seneca


Seneca, a revered Stoic philosopher, likely spent too much time in the court of Rome. Politics did not serve him well. He should have stuck to writing full-time.

Do what you do best, and try to eliminate the temptation of non-essentials.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/27/24



Day #251


If I don’t like eating spaghetti, that’s my choice. That choice does not grant me the right to make it illegal for everyone anyone else to eat spaghetti.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/26/24



Day #250


The fool talks, the wise man writes.

First of all, there is no such thing as a truly wise man. It is also the case that we are all a fool in some way. Given that, it is easy to go through life spouting one opinion after another. It’s impossible to remember everything we have said throughout the day, let alone throughout a lifetime. Writing, when it is done wisely, provides the opportunity to think more clearly and precisely. We learn from a recording of our thoughts and the recorded thoughts of others. There is also the benefit of revision over time as new knowledge is discovered and comprehended. Writing is itself a form of learning, unlike the idle chatter of the foolish.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/25/24



Day #249



I would like to learn Kumiko.

Kumiko is a traditional Japanese woodworking technique that involves intricate patterns and designs assembled from thin strips of wood. The technique does not require power tools or a large space. It can be done completely by hand if desired and typically is done that way. It believe it would be a peaceful and satisfying hobby. Like quilting, only for men. (No sexual preference intended.)

I’ll put that on my list of things to explore (Kumiko).



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/24/24



Day #248


I probably kiss the cat on the top of his head more often than I should, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of the things that endears him to me.

Speaking of “pretty sure.” Grammarly would give me a low score on the confidence scale for using “pretty sure” as opposed to simply “sure,” or even better, “positive.” I have no plans to make myself sound more confident than I actually am. (Note: the word “actually” in the previous sentence also lowers my confidence score…)



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/23/24



Day #247


I enjoy the Blues. It’s my favorite musical genre. My favorite artist is Keb’ Mo’ a.k.a. Kevin Roosevelt Moore. He is considered a living throw-back to the Delta Blues, the original Blues genre. I don’t know much about that, I just like his style. To my ear, his sound is a modern blend of different Blues styles. I think he is a very good lyricist and he delivers thoughtful messages. I can also sing along with him — when no one is around…



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Journal Entry - Wednesday, May 22, 2024



2025 Reading List


Not too long ago I posted my 2025 reading list. The list consisted of a number of the best translations of classical texts of literature and philosophy. I’ve decided to replace that list with one that focuses on commentary and scholarly analysis of ancient literature, philosophy and society. I think this will be a more entertaining approach to a year of studying ancient history.



Polis: A New History of the Ancient Greek City-State from the Early Iron Age to the End of Antiquity —John Ma

A definitive new history of the origins, evolution, and scope of the ancient Greek city-state




1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: Revised and Updated —Eric H Cline

A bold reassessment of what caused the Late Bronze Age collapse




Pox Romana: The Plague That Shook the Roman World —Colin Elliott

A wide-ranging and dramatic account of the Antonine plague, the mysterious disease that struck the Roman Empire at its pinnacle




Pliny’s Roman Economy: Natural History, Innovation, and Growth —Ricard Saller

The first comprehensive study of Pliny the Elder’s economic thought—and its implications for understanding the Roman Empire’s constrained innovation and economic growth




Rome’s Patron: The Lives and Afterlives of Maecenas —Emily Gowers

The story of Maecenas and his role in the evolution and continuing legacy of ancient Roman poetry and culture




Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers —Sarah Iles Johnston

An entrancing new telling of ancient Greek myths




The Scythian Empire: Central Eurasia and the Birth of the Classical Age from Persia to China —Christopher I Beckwith

A rich, discovery-filled history that tells how a forgotten empire transformed the ancient world




Plato Goes to China: The Greek Classics and Chinese Nationalism —Shadi Bartsch

The surprising story of how Greek classics are being pressed into use in contemporary China to support the regime’s political agenda




Out of One, Many: Ancient Greek Ways of Thought and Culture —Jennifer T. Roberts

A sweeping new account of ancient Greek culture and its remarkable diversity




Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern —Mary Beard

The fascinating story of how images of Roman autocrats have influenced art, culture, and the representation of power for more than 2,000 years




Of Rule and Office: Plato’s Ideas of the Political —Melissa Lane

A constitutionalist reading of Plato’s political thought




The Roman Republic of Letters: Scholarship, Philosophy, and Politics in the Age of Cicero and Caesar —Katharina Volk

An intellectual history of the late Roman Republic—and the senators who fought both scholarly debates and a civil war




Reading the Odyssey: A Guide to Homer’s Narrative —Jonas Grethlein

A fresh and original introduction to the Odyssey—and how it continues to shape literature, film, art and even the ways we make sense of our lives




Encounters with Euclid: How an Ancient Greek Geometry Text Shaped the World —Benjamin Wardhaugh

A sweeping cultural history of one of the most influential mathematical books ever written




The Folds of Olympus: Mountains in Ancient Greek and Roman Culture —Jason König

A cultural and literary history of mountains in classical antiquity




Rehearsals of Manhood: Athenian Drama as Social Practice —John J. Winkler

A bold re-conception of ancient Greek drama by one of the most brilliant and original classical scholars of his generation





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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/22/24



Day #246


I tried to watch two Mel Brooks movies last night. It turns out not to be my deal. I did enjoy a couple of lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

We are the Knights of Camelot.
We eat ham and jam and Spam alot.

Also, the classic:

I fart in your general direction…

(Probably from eating too much Spam.)

I find myself to be more of a Clint Eastwood fan. “High Plains Drifter” is one of my favorite movies. I like the following line, probably the longest line spoken in the entire movie…

It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/21/24



Day #245


I want to be the best 100 year old skier the 70+ Ski Club has ever had.



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Journal Entry - Monday, May 20, 2024



The First Amendment


People make a lot of noise about the First Amendment, but it is surprising how often people are willing to look the other way when it’s convenient to do so.

I recently had a conversation with someone that argued Michalel Cohen should have a “gag order” placed on him. The specific grievance was, “Why is Trump gagged when Cohen isn’t?” I found that interesting. In response, I explained that Cohen is not currently on trial, whereas Trump is currently on trial.

It’s important to point out that when a defendant is on trial, it as legal and necessary to insure that defendant doesn’t influence the jurors empaneled to hear the case and render a verdict. This is not only to provide impartial justice, it is also for the protection of the jurors. This is part of the legal system we all hold in high esteem. If a person is not on trial, there is no legal process to place a “gag order” them. That is what the First Amendment is all about.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/20/24



Day #244


Regularity is the key to practice. Practice is the key to competence. Regularity means every day. I don’t like slogans, but Nike got it right: “Just Do It.” Better yet would be the slogan: “Just Do It Every Day.”



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/19/24



Day #243


I am in the process of becoming the best I can be…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/18/24



Day #242


There is nothing easy about writing, just as there is nothing easy about turning out quality pieces of art. I am of mediocre ability at both. I have realized that “being the best,” or even being “good,” is not the point. The point is in the doing. The point is deriving the benefit that it has to offer you. This holds no matter what you are doing. As Epictetus said: “If you wish to be a writer, write.” That’s true of all things. Whatever worthwhile skill you wish to obtain, you will never obtain it unless you work at it. Here is the rewarding part: It’s not about being the best, it’s about being the best you can be.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/17/24



Day #241


Of course, I love to write. It’s interesting how I came to this late in life. I always thought I would be a woodworker in my retirement. That takes money and space, both of which I find myself to be somewhat short of. Not to be deterred from doing something satisfying and rewarding, I fell into writing. I’m glad I did. I think the written word has at least as much value as hand crafted objects. Besides, if I want to dabble in wood arts on a limited budget, with limited space, I could always take up Kumiko. (A prospect I am considering.)



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