copyright © 2001-2017 Dennis Paul Himes


01/01/01:
New Century's Resolutions

A few times on the web I've come across lists made by adolescents or young adults detailing what they hope to accomplish in their lives. If I had made such a list a quarter century ago it would have included some things I've manage to accomplish since, such as getting married and raising children, some things I still might yet accomplish, such as writing a novel, and some things which just aren't going to happen, such as hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The arrival of a new century and a new millennium has inspired me to think more than usual about my past and my future, about what I've accomplished and what I hope to accomplish. Here, then, is a list of what I resolve to do before the end of the Twenty-first Century, which, unless there are some unforeseen medical breakthroughs in the next few decades, means before the end of my life.

(yearly updates below, including five more resolutions on 01/01/07, one on 01/01/11, five on 01/01/14, and one on 01/01/16)


Finish A Diamond Found on Paradise.

I started this novella, which was originally to be just a short story, in 1997 (I think). I had good reason to believe a year ago that it would be finished before the turn of the century, but it didn't happen. The first draft is mostly done; it shouldn't take too long to finish.

When it is done, I'll add it to the fiction section of my website. I'm not sure how people will like it. It seems to me to be less accessible than 126 Kisses (for instance), but the responses from those who have read what I have so far have been positive.


Finish Raisinbread.

This is my novel. I started it in the mid '80's. I put it aside once to write 126 Kisses, and again to write A Diamond Found on Paradise.

The first draft was about a third done when I broke for Diamond. I haven't been ignoring it in the meanwhile; I've been thinking a lot about the story and the cultures involved, and, in fact, when I get back to it probably the first thing I'll do is tear apart and redo much of what I've already written.


Read Gabriel García Márquez in the original.

The major part of this resolution is becoming semi-fluent in Spanish. I studied Spanish in high school and have tried to keep it from getting too rusty since, but I was never fluent. I can handle written Spanish much better that spoken Spanish, but, while I don't have too much trouble when I try to read the Spanish version of the handouts my kids bring home from school, I'm far from good enough to read García without so much of a struggle that the flow of the work is completely lost.


Become fluent in Gladilatian.

Gladilatian is a language I'm constructing. It may never have an extensive enough lexicon for fluency to really exist, but I want to at least become fluent enough that I can write notes to myself in it.


Visit Iceland.

I'm not sure why, but Iceland has always fascinated me. It seems such a dramatic place. Even though I wouldn't want to live somewhere with so few trees, I'd like to visit it someday.


See the southern sky.

That's "the southern sky" as in "a clear night sky in the Southern Hemisphere".


See the northern lights.

I've seen plenty of shooting stars and rainbows and a few comets, but I've never once seen the northern lights.


See a total eclipse of the sun.

I've seen total eclipses of the moon and partial eclipses of the sun (including one just last week), but I've never seen it become night in the day.


Learn to juggle clubs.

I'd like to be able to juggle clubs as well as I now juggle balls, i.e. not necessarily able to do any fancy tricks, but able to pick some up and start juggling without really having to think about it.


Relearn string figures.

I used to know a bunch of string figures, which I taught myself out of a book when I was in college. I want learn them again. This will probably be the easiest to accomplish of any of the resolutions here.


Become a United States Chess Federation expert.

My current USCF rating is 1711. The highest I've ever had was about 100 points above that. Expert is 2000 to 2199. I think I can achieve that if I set my mind to it.


Revive the Greater Hartford Chess Club.

The GHCC was once a very active club, with 20 or more regular attendees every week, simultaneous exhibitions by local masters, and periodic USCF rated tournaments, including the yearly club championship. That was back when we were meeting every Wednesday at a book store in West Hartford. However, we lost that place, and soon after lost Dave Aldi, who had run it for years. I took over from Aldi, but I was never able to find a good replacement for the book store and it eventually dwindled away to nothing. The club now exists as a box of equipment in my garage.


Live in the woods.

I grew up mostly in the outer suburbs, where there was at least a patch of woods between one house and the next. I now live in a city, where my yard and my neighbors' yards are really just one big yard delineated by fences. It makes me claustrophobic. Laura and I had not planned to live in the city this long. When we bought our house the housing market in Connecticut was near its peak, and Hartford was one of the cheapest places to get a decent house. Soon after that the market collapsed, and for a while we had negative equity. Now we're only three and a half years from paying off our first mortgage and starting to think about moving again. When we do it will be to somewhere much less urban.


01/01/02:
Update

My goal for this holiday vacation was to complete the first draft of A Diamond Found on Paradise. As of this writing (early New Year's Day evening) I'll either just make it or just miss it. In either case I am fast approaching a significant milestone in this project. There's still a bit of work to do after the first draft is done, but I feel like I'm making real progress. (I realize I said last year that the first draft was "mostly done". That was true in the sense that more was completed than remained to be done. Now I've got one scene left to write.)

I now know seven string figures. I do them every morning, and I'm to the point where I know these well enough that I consider them learnt. I want to add more to my repertoire before I declare that resolution fulfilled, though.

There's not much progress to report on the other resolutions.


01/01/03:
Update

Late in April I finished A Diamond Found on Paradise and put it up on the web. What reaction I've got has been very positive. I don't know if the silence from others I've told about it has been because they haven't read it, because they didn't like it and want to be polite, or because they just haven't mentioned it. I am pleased with it, at any rate.

I now know nine string figures. It's still not as much as I'd like, but I'm going to call that resolution fulfilled, because if someone were to ask me "Do you know string figures?" I would have no problem answering "yes".

Since finishing Diamond I've returned to working on my novel, Raisinbread. I have made embarassingly little progress in that time though. Still, some progress has been made. It's all in the form of revisions to what I'd already written, and the total word count has possibly even decreased, but I have been working on it, especially late in the year, so hopefully I'll have more significant progress to report next year.

Reviving the Greater Hartford Chess Club is beginning to look like it's not going to happen. I've joined the New Britain Chess Club, in a neighboring town, and it is a very active club. The Hartford club's equipment is now on loan to the Hartford Public High School Chess Club (founded by my son), and it appears that the best use of the GHCC's equipment is there. I'll have to decide soon, since my son is going to graduate this year.

There's not much progress to report on the other resolutions.


01/01/04:
Update

I now live in the woods. When 2003 started I had no idea that the silvan resolution would be fulfilled before it ended. My wife, Laura, deserves most of the credit. She initiated the process, finding a real estate agent and figuring out how we could use the low interest rates to manage it financially. A large chunk of the middle of the year was consumed with searching for a place, buying it, moving, and selling the old place. We're now all settled in Vernon, Conn., though. We have a simple house on 5.6 acres of land. The lot is only 150' along the road but goes back a long ways. It's wooded except for the house and lawns. The woods are mostly black oak and sweet birch (a.k.a. black birch). (The oak might be red oak; it's hard to tell them apart.) It also contains white birch, yellow birch, red maple, beech, hickory, hemlock, spruce, and probably other species. It's very peaceful here. I'm very happy with the place. It feels like going home; it's a lot more like the place I grew up in than any place I've lived in since was.

I continue to make slow progress on my novel.

I've given up on reviving the Greater Hartford Chess Club. I'm calling that resolution abandoned. Most of the equipment was donated to the Hartford Public High Chess Club.

In October of 2003 there was a huge solar storm and predictions that the northern lights would be seen in Connecticut. I kept going outside and looking for them, but couldn't see anything. The next day the paper printed a picture taken in a neighboring town showing the sky blazing red with the aurora.

So, three years into the Twenty-first Century I have three resolutions fulfilled, one abandoned, and nine still open. A couple things happened this year, though, which weren't fulfillments of resolutions but which just as well could have been. One is that I've become the Connecticut State Director of American Atheists. Not that becoming state director per se would have been a resolution, but becoming active poltically could have been. The other is that I put myself on a diet (of my own design) and lost 60 lbs. For years I'd been overweight and telling myself I should do something about it. In 2003 I did, going from 240# to 180#.


01/01/05:
Update

From the 19th to the 26th of September 2004 Laura and I were in Iceland. We spent a night in Reykjavík, a couple nights in Brattholt, near the Gullfoss Waterfall, three nights in Langaholt on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and another night in Reykjavík. I got to see hot springs, geysers, glaciers, volcanic craters, many, many waterfalls, windswept moss covered lava fields punctuated by sudden mountains, and storm-battered cliffs by the sea. I had several great hikes, including one along the rim of the Hvítá River canyon, and another up from the southern shore of the Snæfellsnes to Arnardalsskarð Pass and back. I had a great time. It was all I'd hoped it would be.

Twice while we were there, we saw the northern lights. Once as a green stripe while we were in Reykjavík, and once as several bands of greenish white stripes while we were in Langaholt, including a band directly above us.

I continue to make slow progress on my novel. An idea for another big writing project has been forming in my head meanwhile, so that could end up delaying it more.

That leaves me, after four years, with five resolutions fulfilled, one abandoned, and seven still open.


01/01/06:
Update

No resolutions were fulfilled this year, but the year still seems well spent. I've been hiking in the White Mountains every couple months or so. I'm still active with American Atheists. The "big writing project" mentioned in last year's update is well underway.

I've also made some progress towards some of the original resolutions, even if not to completion. I study Spanish (and also, for that matter, Latin) on my own, working my way through childrens' and young adults' books. My chess rating is 1822.


01/01/07:
Update

Again no resolutions were fulfilled this year, and again the year still seems well spent. Part of the reason is that, as could have been predicted, new goals have arisen. In fact, I'm going to take this opportunity to add five more resolutions to the list:


Finish The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina.

This is the heart of the big writing project mentioned the past couple years. I'm inventing a constructed culture, along with a language, planet, and sapient species, and this story is intended to tie it all together, or at least be a starting point for someone to explore it.


Expand The Contradiction of Omnipotent Agency and Causeless Effects into a book.

When I wrote An Atheist Apology I expected that all of the arguments therein had already been made elsewhere, even though several of them had been invented independently by myself. That's essentially been what I've found, but the key arguments about the equivalence of "potential" and "actual" universes, and the incoherence of the concept of the "creation" of a universe have not, as far as I've been able to find, been expressed in quite the same way as I have, although similar ideas have indeed been proposed (for instance by David Kellogg Lewis).

I know, I'm proposing writing projects faster than I'm finishing them. I guess I'll just have to live forever.


Peakbag the 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire.

There are 48 peaks in New Hampshire with an altitude of at least 4000 feet and a prominence of at least 200 feet. Hiking all of them is a thing a lot of people do. When I started hiking a lot in the White Mountains I didn't think I would be one of them, but I still kept track of what I'd done, and when I got into the 20s I decided I wanted to do all of them. So far I've done 27.


Through hike the Long Trail.

I still don't think I'm ever going to through hike the Appalachian Trail, but I might be able to manage the Long Trail, which runs the length of Vermont, some day.


Read Latin prose smoothly.

This is the same as the Spanish resolution, but applied to Latin. I'm already to the point where I'm reading the unabridged Cicero in the back of Wheelock's Latin textbook with a lot of help from the footnotes. I'd like to change that to reading Cicero, and the like, with only occasional help from a dictionary.


01/01/08:
Update

No resolutions were fulfilled, but progress continues to be made on several of them. I'm now up to 37 of the 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire (summiting the 38th on New Year's Day 2008). I hope to finish on Moosilauke in late summer of 2008. I'm still studying Spanish and Latin. I'm making slow progress on The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina, where, with all the footnotes and research, it sometimes takes a half hour to write a sentence of the main story. I'm saving up vacation days for a through hike of the Long Trail in 2009.


01/01/09:
Update

On the 31st of August both my sons, my brother Geoff, and several members of Rocks on Top accompanied me as I summited Mt. Moosilauke, bagging the 48th New Hampshire 4000 footer.

No other resolutions were fulfilled, but I continue to play chess, study Latin, and work on The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina.

It looks like the Long Trail through-hike is going to happen this year.


01/01/10:
Update

From 28 June to 24 July of 2009 I hiked the Long Trail from end to end, starting in Massachusetts and ending in Quebec. My Trail Journals and pictures are online.

No other resolutions were fulfilled, but I continue to make progress on some of them.


01/01/11:
Update

Well, let's see.

In September I finished peakbagging the 67 4000 footers in New England. This was not an official resolution, so before I forget let me make one for the next peakbagging goal:


Peakbag the 115 4000 footers in New York and New England

They're not actually all 4Ks, and the patch says "111", for historical reasons, but it's a well defined goal, that (as far as I know) only two people I know have accomplished. The 115 include the 67 4Ks in New England, which I've done, the Adirondack 46, of which I'd done 12, and two peaks in the Catskills, of which I've done 1. So I'm 80/115 of the way there.


In June 2010 American Atheists Magazine published an article of mine titled The Creator God: a Solution in Search of a Problem. This is the seed for the book I'm hoping to write.

I continue to study Latin. I'm certainly not at the point where that resolution is fulfilled, but it is something I think I have a chance of achieving before I die.

I worked on The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina quite a bit early in the year, but not much recently. I hope to return to that. It's annoying; it shouldn't be taking nearly this long.

My chess rating has been in the low 1800's recently.

So, there have been no resolutions fulfilled this year, but I don't feel at all like I've been wasting my time. Things happen. Other things happen. Priorities change. I consider my current priorities to be activism, hiking, and writing, with chess and Latin as secondary priorities. I'm basically happy with how I'm doing with activism and hiking, and hope to ramp up my writing again.

See you next year.


01/01/12:
Update

Earlier this year I was at a Connecticut Valley Atheists meeting in an informal discussion about who should be our representatives to the Secular Coalition of Connecticut. I was asked whether I would like to be a representative myself, and before I could answer my friend Tanya, who was overhearing the conversation, said, "He doesn't have time in his schedule." It took me a day or two before I realized that she had said that as much for my benefit as for anyone else's. It was her way of warning me not to overschedule myself more than I already am.

I feel really busy these days, mostly in a good way. A lot of it is devoted to either hiking or Atheist activism, though, so many of these resolutions, especially related to writing, have not shown much progress, and none have been completed in the last year.

Here, in any event, is a listing of all nineteen resolutions, with reports on progress. Green is for resolutions completed. Yellow is for uncompleted resolutions for which there was some progress this year. Red is for resolutions which have been either abandoned or dormant.

Finish A Diamond Found on Paradise.

Done in 2002.

Finish Raisinbread.

There's been no progress on this for years. I'm still determined to finish this before I die, though.

Read Gabriel García Márquez in the original (after becoming semi-fluent in Spanish).

This has been on hold. I probably won't get back to it until I first succeed in getting my Latin up to where I want it.

Become fluent in Gladilatian.

I haven't done much conlanging at all this year, not even for Seezzitonian, which is used in the Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina. (See below.)

Visit Iceland.

Done in 2004.

See the southern sky.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

See the northern lights.

Done in 2004.

See a total eclipse of the sun.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

Learn to juggle clubs.

Not only haven't I been learning to juggle clubs, but I haven't been keeping up on praticing my ball juggling as well as I'd like.

Relearn string figures.

Done in 2002.

Become a United States Chess Federation expert.

My rating is now 1890. It was briefly over 1900 this year. I'm making slow progress. My son George, on the other hand, is making swift progress, and will certainly pass me soon on his own way to becoming an expert.

Revive the Greater Hartford Chess Club.

Abandoned in 2003.

Live in the woods.

Done in 2003.

Finish The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina.

I've done much less work on this than I should. In fact, judging by file modification dates, I don't appear to have done any work on this since March.

Expand The Contradiction of Omnipotent Agency and Causeless Effects into a book.

I haven't even gotten around to put the article published in American Atheists magazine on my site. I really need to get on this. There's a lot of work in between where I am now and having a finished book, and this is something which would stand as my legacy after my death more than any other resolution here.

Peakbag the 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire.

Done in 2008.

Through hike the Long Trail.

Done in 2009.

Read Latin prose smoothly.

I've actually been working on this. I try to study Latin for at least half an hour each week, and read some for at least ten minutes every day I'm not hiking. I don't always meet those goals, but I keep reviving my commitment.

Peakbag the 115 4000 footers in New York and New England.

I'm up to 89, having done nine this past year.


01/01/13:
Update

A couple years ago I wrote, "I consider my current priorities to be activism, hiking, and writing, with chess and Latin as secondary priorities." That's still true.

Activism

This isn't tied to any of the listed resolutions. It's not a finished accomplishment type of thing. It's an important part of my life, though. I continue to serve as the Connecticut State Director of American Atheists, for which I always feel there's more I could be doing. I do think I make a difference, though. One measure of success is that the Atheist community in Connecticut is thriving, and I think I've had something to do with that.

There is one specific goal for my activism, a New England Regional Atheist Meet, which I've started to organize, and which I hope to have happen later this year. I would have put that as a new resolution, except that it's a group effort; I'm just guiding it.

Hiking

I plan to finish the Northeast 111 this summer. I'm up to 104, out of 115, so far.

Other than that I continue to work on other lists, the Catskill 35, the Winter New Hampshire 4Ks, and the New England Fifty Finest (as well as the ADK46, which is a subset of the Northeast 111). I have other ideas for hiking goals as well, when I start fulfilling these.

Sometimes I even just hike.

Writing

The official resolutions include three big writing projects. I've decided that the one I'm going to concentrate on is expanding The Contradiction of Omnipotent Agency and Causeless Effects into a book. I think of it as the Modal Realism Project now. I've made some progress recently, although not as much as I'd like. I did write and deliver a talk on the subject to the Humanist Association of Connecticut in 2012. I specifically chose that subject for my talk because I wanted to try to make my presentation more accessible. Besides that, most of my work has been research, reading Krauss and rereading Lewis.

Chess

I continue to play chess most Tuesdays at the New Britain Chess Club, and sometime analyze games with my son George, but besides that I don't do much to develop my game. My rating is 1892, two points above where it was last year.

Latin

I've been reading a little Latin almost every evening. I feel I'm improving. Improving very slowly, but definitely improving.


01/01/14:
Update

On the 28th of July 2013 I summited Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, simultaneously finishing the ADK46 and NE111 lists. My friend Whichway (Melissa) was with me, and my son George hiked up, but not down. My wife Laura met us at the top.

Very little was done for any of the other resolutions, although my chess rating is up to 1915. Nonetheless, I'm going to to add five more.


Visit the tropics.

any place in between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn


Visit a polar region.

either the arctic or the antarctic


Peakbag the New England Fifty Finest.

This is the fifty most prominent peaks in New England. I'm currently at 35 out of 50.


Peakbag the Catskill 35.

This is the 35 peaks in the Catskills which have at least 3500 feet elevation. However, four of them have to be done twice, at least once in the winter, so there's actually 39 summitings required. The odd thing is that nobody knows why those four and not some other four. So far I've done 23 out of the 39, including all four winter requirements.


Through hike the Appalachian Trail.

I know I've said several times on this page that this is unlikely to happen, but it's possible, and I really want to do this, so here it is.


01/01/15:
Update

A lot has been happening in my personal life these past couple years which I'm not going discuss here, but it does affect my priorities, usually away from the type of stuff I do discuss here.

Anyway, no resolutions have been fufilled. I have been making good progress on the remaining peakbagging ones. I have seven left for the NEFF list and six for the Catskill list. I could very well finish one of both of these this year. I'm still studying Latin regularly, and slowly doing research for the Modal Realism book (which mostly consists of reading interesting books on related subjects). My chess rating, however, has been going down.


01/01/16:
Update

Perhaps I should make a resolution to update this page sometime in the first week of the year.

Two resolutions were completed this past year, both hiking ones, and both in October. On the Third I finished the New England Fifty Finest list on Gore Mountain in Vermont. This is the most exclusive/obscure of any of the hiking lists on this page. As far as I can tell, less than twenty people have ever done it. Two weekends later I finished a much more popular list, the Catskill 35.

After I finished the Northeast 111 list I realized I had done them all in my 50s. So I decided to do them again in my 60s. This creates a new resolution:


Peakbag the Northeast 111 again in my 60s.

This becomes the only resolution with a time limit.


I'm 61 years old now, and it's becoming clearer with each year that years are a finite resource. I actually, for the first time in my life, made a list of new year's resolutions, for things which I have a realistic chance of doing this year. I'm not going to post that here, since they include some very personal things, but they include both some fairly trivial things and some tasks which will further the resolutions listed here.

Looking over this page, I see I did my summary of where I stand for all resolutions in 2012. Every leap year seems a good pace for that, so I'll do it again. Here, therefore, is a listing of all twenty-five resolutions, with reports on progress. Green is for resolutions completed. Yellow is for uncompleted resolutions for which there was some progress this year. Red is for resolutions which have been either abandoned or dormant.

Finish A Diamond Found on Paradise.

Done in 2002.

Finish Raisinbread.

On hold.

Read Gabriel García Márquez in the original (after becoming semi-fluent in Spanish).

On hold. I probably won't get back to it until I first succeed in getting my Latin up to where I want it.

Become fluent in Gladilatian.

On hold.

Visit Iceland.

Done in 2004.

See the southern sky.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

See the northern lights.

Done in 2004.

See a total eclipse of the sun.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

Learn to juggle clubs.

On hold.

Relearn string figures.

Done in 2002. I added a couple figures to my repertoire this year.

Become a United States Chess Federation expert.

Not only on hold, but slowly going in the wrong direction.

Revive the Greater Hartford Chess Club.

Abandoned in 2003.

Live in the woods.

Done in 2003.

Finish The Tale of Tifa Walbatnuwa Siina.

On hold.

Expand The Contradiction of Omnipotent Agency and Causeless Effects into a book.

I've decided that this will have top priority among my writing resolutions. That doesn't mean I've made much progress, though. I've been slowly doing research, though, by which I mean reading a lot of what other authors (such as Max Tegmark) have written on similar subjects.

Peakbag the 48 4000 footers in New Hampshire.

Done in 2008.

Through hike the Long Trail.

Done in 2009.

Read Latin prose smoothly.

I finished Part I of De Diuinatione by M. Tullius Cicero recently, and put it aside to read Part II later. Cicero is a little more difficult than what I should be reading now. I've just started Book I of Ab Vrbe Condita by T. Liuius.

Peakbag the 115 4000 footers in New York and New England.

Done in 2013.

Visit the tropics.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

Visit a polar region.

I don't know if I'll ever do this.

Peakbag the New England Fifty Finest.

Done in 2015.

Peakbag the Catskill 35.

Done in 2015.

Through hike the Appalachian Trail.

This won't happen until after I retire, if then.

Peakbag the Northeast 111 in my 60s.

I was at 28 out of 115 when the year turned.


01/01/17:
Update

I mentioned last year that for the first time I'd made some resolutions for the coming year. There were thirteen of them. I did five. The other eight have been carried over, and I've added another five, one of which is a more ambitious version of one I accomplished.

As for the century's resolutions, none were fulfilled, but some were advanced.

I abandoned Ab Vrbe Condita fairly early on; it was more difficult than I'd expected. I decided to read what is probably the most common beginning book for Latin students, De Bello Gallico by C. Iulius Caesar. That was a good choice; it's about just the right difficulty for my current skills.

I'm now up to 49 peaks, out of 115, for my project of rebagging the Northeast 111 in my 60s, which means I'm well ahead of schedule.

My chess rating is 1863, so I've essentially been holding steady for the past five years or so.

I continue to do occasional research towards the Modal Realism book. One of the yearly resolutions which was not done but got carried over was to outline the book.

Looking forward to 2017, one of my big projects for the year is to through hike the Cohos Trail. I'm tempted to make that an official resolution just so I can check it off, but more realistically I should consider it training for eventually doing the AT. There's a good chance I'll see a total eclipse of the sun, though.


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