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 that movie…

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

Amen to that.



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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.”



#1,053
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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…



#1,052
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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.)



#1,050
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/16/24



Day #240


Abigail Adams wrote to John Adams in 1776, “All men would be tyrants if they could.” Although she was referring to how most men treated women in her era, I can’t help but think how true this is when comparing men to their dealings with other men, as well as with women.

Abigail was a proponent of public education for women and equal roles in society and public life. While John was generally in favor of public education for women, he never came around to accepting them as full participants in public life.

This unfortunate stigma still can be found in our society 250 years later. What is particularly disconcerting is that there is a movement afoot by conservative influencers to turn the clock back, rather than recognize the virtue in this perspective.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/15/24



Day #239


If you have a heart condition, living with a cat reduces the chance of a fatal heart attack by 30%. I live with a cat, but I’m thinking about getting two more. I like the sound of reducing my odds by 90%…



#1,048
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/14/24



Day #238


John Adams said: “Never shew my own Importance or Superiority, by remarking [on] the Foibles, Vices, or Inferiority of others.”

John Adams struggled with this advice. He was not a humble man, but at least he was able to admit that… on rare occasions.

I think we all struggle with this advice at times. I have found that writing this blog has made me more aware of my shortcomings. It helps keep me humble as I wind my way through the day.



#1,047
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/13/24



Day #237


Why do I write? The best answer for that is I write because it brings me peace. I wasn’t born to be a writer (or perhaps I was, just not a good one). I discovered writing along the way.

Some mornings, my cat will lie on the counter putting his head on my arm, making it difficult to write. I’m pretty sure he is doing it because he loves me. I say that because he has already been fed. This is how he shows his affection. It makes writing a bit more difficult, but I don’t mind. Between writing and enjoying my cat (while the rest of the house sleeps) I’d have to say my level of joy is about as high as one could ask for. Almost as high as making perfect “S” shaped turns on two edges, at a 70-degree angle, on perfect corduroy.



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Journal Entry - Monday, May 13, 2024



B-RAD


My hat is causing a bit of confusion at Starbucks this morning…

My Americano came out under the name “Brad,” but my bagel came out under the name “Rad.” Neither of which is a correct translation of my true essence…



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Journal Entry - Sunday, May 12, 2024



Mother’s Day


A quick visit to RNC Headquarters on Mother’s Day…

Here are some conspiracy theories I can get behind!



#1,044
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/12/24



Day #236


How do you sleep? I sleep fine. I’m fortunate, I have help. I have a beautiful, kind, companion under the covers who enjoys having me by her side. I have a second companion (with decidedly more fur) on top of the covers. He enjoys resting his head on my foot. You really can’t ask for better sleep than that.



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Journal Entry - Saturday, May 11, 2024



Flag City


I’m in Flag City U.S.A. Here flags are quite prevalent in the back of pickup trucks. I suspect it is the same in your town. I pulled into the local farm store and next to me was a pickup truck with a 3’ x 5’ flag in the bed of the truck that said:

Trump 2024 No More Bullshit

The first thing that struck me was the sign did not appear to me to be making a statement about the economy, the border crisis, college unrest over genocide in Gaza, or even the public funding of sports stadiums that only wealthy team owners profit from (that last one would be hard to fit on a flag). It’s about perception and perhaps even education.

If you are flying that flag, I believe it says as much about you as it does about your politics. It seems to me you have given up trying to figure out what is going on in society, what your role is, and what you can do to help make society better for all of us. You’ve decided that putting your faith in a self-centered misogynistic, financial fraudster is the best answer you can come up with. Why? Because that’s what he told you to do, and it’s easier to accept that explanation than it is to consider all the alternatives in front of you and make up your mind independently using facts gleaned from multiple sources.

Education is playing a key role in this “flag” crisis. Our education system is failing to instill in people a willingness to ask probing questions and work through the logic of issues, arriving independently at answers. But wait, there’s more.

Authoritarianism and misogyny are being preached on a worldwide scale today by power-hungry leaders and conservative media. This is sinking into the psyche of male voters, but women are not exempt from these arguments. This is a scam being preached by conservative media on all of us to rest power from the many and place it into the hands of the wealthy few. Our founders would be the first to explain this is a strategy employed with the intent to kill democracy. Persons fixated on the acquisition of wealth and power don’t like living in a democracy.



#1,043
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/11/24



Day #235


This is a quote by Julia Cameron:

“Writing is powerful. It is an act of bravery. As we write, we tell ourselves the truth about who we are — and how we feel.” She goes on, “We give the universe our coordinates: ‘I am precisely here.’ We give the universe permission to act on our behalf. When we write we experience synchronicity. Our ‘luck’ improves. Writing is a spiritual path. With each word, we take another step forward.”

I love to write. Julia Cameron describes the benefits of writing beautifully. She sets out what writing can give to those who practice it. These words stand out:

Bravery, Truth, Permission, Synchronicity, Spirituality, Wisdom, Courage, Commitment, Honesty…




I admire how Julia Cameron puts so many thoughts into so little space. I have a long way to go before I become a writer. I’m perfectly fine with that. My goal is not to “publish,” my goal is to acquire as many of the gifts that writing has to offer as I can. This blog represents my footsteps left behind as I “take another step forward” on my journey.

If Julia Cameron has a fault, I’m sure many people will say I don’t know what I’m talking about now, it is that she works too hard at churning out words. She tends to beat her subject to death, even though she has a beautiful message. I never finished reading her book “On Writing,” because it felt like she was writing the same thing repeatedly. I got the message about halfway through the book.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/10/24



Day #234


It would be nice to read six books a month. That is probably a bit ambitious. I just finished reading “The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy.” It was a wonderful read. I don’t read enough poetry, but I enjoy it very much. The trick is not to think too hard about it but simply enjoy the experience.

Perhaps a poetic thought…

Be careful what you wish for
There is a chance you might get it
A better approach may be
to focus on what is in front of you

That might just leave you
More open to seeing the present



#1,041
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/09/24



Day #233


I would like to use my journal to capture everything that happens to me each day. Not because every day is significant, but simply so I can remember each day — and practice my handwriting.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/08/24



Day #232


What is Quantum Field Theory? It is not easy to explain. The short answer is, that things we see are not as they appear when examined closely. (A good concept to always keep in mind.)

Quantum Field Theory is the synthesis of quantum mechanics and special relativity. It answers the question, is matter constantly changing, or are their aspects of matter that are fixed? The answer is yes, and yes.

There is no such thing as “action at a distance.” Everything we see, even events that take place apart from one another in space are interrelated.

If you think about it, it’s a beautiful concept.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/07/24



Day #231


I’m learning some things about writing. I will never write the great American novel or any novel for that matter, but I hope that what I do write will at least be interesting to my children… In the meantime, I take great satisfaction in the process. Here are seven things I have learned.

  1. Find a comfortable place.
  2. Not inspired, just put down 100 words and see where that takes you.
  3. Write about what is going on in the moment.
  4. Read for inspiration (I do that a lot).
  5. Do not let a day go by…
  6. Write, don’t judge. If it’s shit that’s okay.
  7. Keep going, you will reach a point where you have to do it.

What is truly remarkable about these suggestions is how many things besides writing they apply to…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/06/24



Day #230


It’s never a good idea to fall in love with your ideas. You should also be careful what you wish for…



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/05/24



Day #229


I challenged OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot to a contest. I asked each to write a poem about me, in sonnet form. In my humble opinion (if that’s possible) ChatGPT won the contest hands-down. Note: Fact-checking by the reader is highly encouraged.

It’s pretty damn good, but I’d like to think that fact-checking isn’t necessary…




A Sonnet by ChatGPT About Brad Adkins


In shadows cast upon the stage, he strides,
Brad Adkins, with a poet’s heart ablaze,
His words, like stars, in midnight skies reside,
Each line a melody, a timeless phrase.

With pen in hand, he weaves a tapestry,
Of dreams and hopes, of love and loss entwined,
Through sonnets sung with heartfelt honesty,
He paints a portrait of the human mind.

In every verse, a glimpse of truth appears,
A mirror held to life’s complexities,
With wisdom drawn from laughter and from tears,
He captures hearts and sets the spirit free.

So let us raise our voices in acclaim,
To Brad Adkins, the bard who lights our flame.



#1,036
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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/04/24



Day #228


When I got off the bus in downtown Seattle, a Pan-handler asked me for a quarter. He hasn’t heard of inflation. I politely told him I did not have a quarter — or any change for that matter. He wasn’t disturbed in the least, he smiled. I thought about that for a second, and then I said, “Let me see if I have a dollar.” He smiled again, apparently that pleased him. I pulled out my wallet and the debit card flew out onto the sidewalk. I didn’t want to give him that, so I picked it up and put it back in my wallet. While I had the wallet open, I thumbed through the bills. There weren’t many, 2 fives and 2 twenties. I smiled at him and told him all I had were twenties (a slight exaggeration, but, under the circumstances, probably reasonable.) He smiled a genuine smile at me, engaging beyond what I would reasonably have expected, he then said, “I hope the next time we meet all you have are 100s!” We looked at each other with something like understanding. I told him he was a very funny man. We parted, ever so slightly more like friends than strangers.

I was half a block away when I realized, a five was not too much to sacrifice.



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A Year of Living Thoughtfully 05/03/24



Day #227


Live your life in a way that prevents people from feeling compelled to say mean things about you on social media.

If you feel compelled to say mean things about people on social media, you’re not living your life correctly.

You can also avoid this nastiness by simply not participating in social media. The goal of social media, indirectly and directly, is to control you, you’re better off controlling yourself. Don’t forget, that the goal of social media is also to make money.



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