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This Summer: East to West on a Bicycle

It was back in 2007 when I had the idea of bicycling across the United States. Now it’s eight years later and I seemed to have let myself down.

This summer, however, will be the Summer of Cycling. There is no better time to do something than now, as I have learned. Originally, I wanted to go with a friend. It seems like this is will not happen now that it’s been eight years. One thing I have learned is that if you really want to do something, go ahead and do it, even if it means you have to do it alone.

It takes about a little over two months on average to cycle from Allentown, PA, to Portland, OR. I will be mainly riding on the TransAmerica Trail that goes from Virginia to Oregon. The trip will start in mid-June and I plan on arriving in Oregon sometime in late August or early September.

So let this post be my official announcement of the trip. It will be another great adventure of a lifetime!

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On Life

Life, according to me, has four parts (as of this afternoon – January 19, 2015): Presence, Relationships, Materialism, and Contentment. Let me describe each.

Presence is how well I am in keeping things in perspective. We humans are barely in the last second of the last day in the cosmic calendar of the universe. Realize that what we do today will have little effect on the universe is crucial in keeping our sanity. Nothing really matters in the end. We are here just to enjoy life. Making an impact would be nice but it is not necessary. Experiences matter more. And we can only experience something by paying attention to it now.

Relationships, whether it’s family, friends, or significant others, are the glue to human society. Everybody is in a relationship with each other. Some people are strangers whom we will never meet. Some are strangers we will encounter. Some are people we have met but will probably never see again. Building strong relationships is advantageous overall. But there are many types of relationships. I would say family is number one. They are the people we should be able to rely on no matter what happens. Friends is number two, since some friends are merely fair weather friends. A relationship with a significant other will most likely result in positivity but it takes an enormous amount of trust. So for some people, it is optional.

Materialism is important in most people’s eyes. But to me it is tertiary, after Presence and Relationships. Materials, such as clothing, food, shelter, are necessary but only to a certain extent. I cannot wear all the fancy clothes at the same time, I cannot eat all the delicious foods in the world in one sitting, I cannot occupy two dimensions of space at the same time. There is a limit to material goods and that limit is different for each person. Keeping the limit low is like having the cost down so we can maximize the amount of profit.

Contentment, which I think encompasses the above three parts. Contentment is what most of us want. We would like to have little or no stress, to feel positive, and to be successful at whatever we do. Yet contentment resides in a cycle. To be content, we have to be healthy. To be healthy, we need to have relationships and materials so we live comfortably. To establish meaningful relationships and acquire the needed materials we need to work, which can led to stress, and sometimes discontentment.

To me, if contentment is the ultimate goal then everything else is extra. But to keep contentment long lasting, we need to have satisfied the first three parts. Presence is personal perspective on life. Relationship is how we deal with others. Materialism is how we would support ourselves. A good balance is what we should all try to achieve. And it is something I should remember as I walk life’s paths.

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2015 Resolutions

2014 has come to an end and I want to take this opportunity to look back on my resolutions and make new ones for 2015.

Here are my 2014 resolutions with my comments…

  1. Laugh more, smile more – I think it must be old age that I tend to be on the more serious side than the humorous. But I do think I’ve improved. Looking at 2015, I think it might be useful if I memorize some jokes, too.
  2. Hike the Appalachian Trail or travel to southeast Asia – Unfortunately, I did not do either. But I did make my travel quota for the year. Perhaps in the next few years I will accomplish this goal. I do want to add a few destinations, too. Most notably Europe and Japan.
  3. Continue to study for Chinese – I do think my Chinese has gotten better this year, at least it didn’t get any worse. This is mainly the result of my Chinese friends whom I can speak Chinese to. Also WeChat helped, too, where I had to learn to read Chinese. I will continue with the flashcard program Anki and finish looking at all the cards by the end of 2015.
  4. Learn more about design – Although I finished reading a few design books but I feel my interest in design has dimmed. No longer do I have the urge to play around with Photoshop or build new websites. Perhaps I will drop this one in 2015.
  5. Become good at shooting pool – I wish I had practiced playing pool two years ago but I did not. I only played for about six months or less but I felt I had gotten better. In the later half of 2014 I did not have access to a pool table so my skill went down. When I have access to a pool table again I will pick it up.
  6. Sleep less – This has been a chronic issue for me. Maybe I just need 10-12 hours a night. I should really try to shoot for 9-10 hours, though.
  7. Continue walking, reading, writing, learning – It’s hard to take walks when the weather is cold. I think I should spend more time at the gym instead. Three times a week is my goal. I’ve been doing some leisure reading but not so much lately. Since I bought myself a Kindle, maybe it’ll help. Writing is not my forte but I hope it will be. I think I should check out some books about how to write well. Especially when one of my long term goals is to write a novel. I had bought an electronics kit but I did not use it that much. Perhaps my interest has changed again. But I can always go back to it as long as I have the kit.

Here are my 2015 resolutions:

  1. Play the guitar – play at least one hour per day, learn at least ten songs
  2. Practice writing – write more on this blog and else where; read more about writing
  3. Read one book a month
  4. Finish Anki and practice more Chinese
  5. Exercise – go to the gym three times a week, otherwise take walks or ride a bicycle
  6. Sleep less – aim for 10 hours a night
  7. Laugh more, smile more – memorize several jokes
  8. Continue to travel at least thirty days out of the year

I hope I can remember to check on my resolutions in mid-2015 just to see how things are going. We’ll see, I guess.