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Resolutions for the new year

Two years ago to the day I made my first ever New Year’s resolution. It wasn’t much as resolutions go, but 2004 was a pretty decent year… why not try it again?

This year I have three. I guess I have some catching up to do for all those years I dismissed resolutions as the half-assed commitments of drunks and dieters. They aren’t what you’d call ambitious (not half as ambitious as giving up the drink or losing weight), but I consider them all to be contributors to my —or anyone’s— quality of life. They are:

  1. Read more books.
  2. Fly more kites.
  3. Sell that cluttersome box of crap on eBay.

I wasn’t much of a reader when I was young. Not like the rest of my family. By the time my brother left high school he must’ve devoured every book in the Dragon Lance series, along with Anne Rice and Terry Pratchett’s entire back-catalogs. By comparison I committed to less than a dozen books outside the curriculum in that time, and as the years have worn on it turns out it’s because I don’t have much of an appetite for fiction. My bookshelf is composed almost entirely of nonfiction: nearly 70% nonfiction by title and closer to 90% by volume, and I enjoy reading a lot more than I used to. If I didn’t I wouldn’t spend so much time on the net, and I probably wouldn’t be here blogging, either.

To that end, I’ve resolved to put aside fifty bucks every month for book purchases on Amazon. This is strange to me; book-buying is typically spontaneous and indulgent, rarely premeditated, never long anticipated. It is for that reason that I end up spending twice the money on books that I should. As much as I adore shopping at Boffins when I’m in the CBD, it’s really hard to beat Amazon’s price and selection. Impossible, in this country. Disregarding bestsellers and the bargain basement for a moment, $50 might net me one decent book at a local book store; it’ll get me two or three from the Big A. Nobody could argue that a few dozen books in the year is a misallocation of funds, could they?

This month’s selection includes David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, something that has sat on my Amazon Wishlist for far too long, and Frederick P. Brooks’ classic The Mythical Man-Month, which (if I’m looking for excuses) I have never seen in a brick-and-mortar book store in my life. As excuses for not owning a book go, it’s a pretty good one. Now I wait for the international mail.

The next resolution (and the desire to fly kites in the first place, let alone more kites) is something of a more recent affliction. My old man has been into stunt kites for a few years now, and owns half a dozen of varying size, style, cut, and color. This Christmas, spent in the remote-ish Gascoyne town of Carnarvon that my brother calls home, I spent some quality time with my Dad flying kites. I’m not one for fishing, kayaking, or playing Space Cadet Pinball as he is, nor is he much of a fan of computers and gadgets and drinking Gynnan Tonnyx… but kite-flying sure is a hell of a way to relax. There’s nothing but you and the strings; no aim but to keep yourself from crashing as you loop through endless dives and barrel-rolls. It’s stimulating, it’s rewarding, it’s a test of skill, a metaphor for life, and it’s a good way to burn through a few hundred bucks in kit. It’s everything a video game should be… but without the electricity.

The third and final resolution, naturally, requires no explanation. That box has been sitting there for six freakin’ months.