May was a good month for running, I participated in both the London Hackney Half and the Kirkcudbright 10km. Both runs went well, but I haven't felt I've pushed myself hard enough yet this year. I have the Coll Half-Marathon coming up in August, which I'm sure will be a good motivator to continue training.
I've started planning out the rest of the year, booking a trip back to New Zealand again for November and December. I plan to spend some more time in South Island, and have booked The Old Ghost Road trail. Over the next week or two I'll hopefully be able to get hut tickets for some of the Great Walks.
Reading and Learning
I started the month by reading American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis. It was a good book, giving a broad sweep of his life, rather than a detailed history of events. I think it's fascinating to read of the differences in opinion of the Founders, on what they believed the aims of the revolution were. Jefferson seems almost like a naive idealist compared to others like Adams when it comes to different types of freedom:
Both Adams and Madison, in their different ways, were informing Jefferson that the outstanding accomplishment of the revolutionary generation had been the realistic recognition of the need for limits as well as liberation, that the American republic had endured because its creators made sensible compromises with political power, that the genius of the American Revolution resided in its capacity to harness, indeed to consolidate, the energies released by the movement for independence.
I've ordered more books from the author, so am looking forward to reading them.
I followed up by reading How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. I stumbled across the essay that inspired the book, and was captivated. The book deals with the active choice to resist the attention economy that is being developed around us. The book touches on nature, workers rights, leisure time, art and more. Jenny Odell also appeared on an Ezra Klein Show Podcast.
Lastly, I read Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch, to gain an insight into growing up questioning your racial and national identity in modern Britain. A useful and timely read for the current political situation.
Anki and Long Term Memory
I have been experimenting with using flashcards and spaced-repetition to help learn and memorize material I have read. Some useful links:
- Augmenting Long-term Memory, Michael Nielsen
- Spaced Repetition for Efficient Learning, Gwern Branwen
- Anki App
- Anki Tips: What I Learned Making 10,000 Flashcards, Robb Seaton
I think that the key take-aways so far have been:
- Make the review a daily habit, i.e. load Anki instead of Twitter / Instagram.
- Write your own cards, as structuring the question helps you learn
- Have a reason for remembering the information you are recording. For what purpose are you doing this?