A blogger cliché: New Years Resolutions

It's a bit of a blogging cliche to do a post expounding New Years resolutions for the coming year, which is why I hadn't originally planned on doing one. However, death always has a way of making me introspective, and when I get introspective, that's a very dangerous thing. I start thinking of things I could do better. Also, as I have recently passed the one year mark with this blog, it looks as though I'll probably be blogging for a while, if not indefinitely. Consequently, before getting back to blogging business (so to speak) tomorrow or Friday starting with one of several posts I have in my list of "Drafts" but somehow never got around to finishing (or, in some cases, even starting), I thought I'd list a few things that I hope to do in 2006 to make it an improvement over 2005. I'll divide them into three areas: Life, Career, and Blog. So that I actually have a chance of keeping these resolutions, I will also keep them few and brief.

So, first, Life:
  1. Clean up my act, health-wise. Let's face it, having passed age 40 a couple of years ago, I'm painfully forced to admit that I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I can no longer abuse my body with a sedentary lifestyle, fast-food diet, and 60+ hour work weeks as I have been doing for decades now and pretend that it won't have consequences, something I should have realized years ago. The creakiness in my bones as I get up every morning reminds me of this, as does the exhaustion I feel after doing things that I used to be able to do with no problems when I was in my twenties. Also, the death of my uncle is a sobering reminder to me that the males on my father's side of the family have a tendency towards cardiovascular disease, and I'm entering the age range where I'm starting to worry about it. It's time to do some preventive maintenance, including seeing a doctor to get an exam and get my cholesterol checked, starting to check my own blood pressure regularly, beginning exercise program (even if it's just walking), and a decent diet.
  2. Start golfing again. I used to golf, but haven't been on the course in almost two years. If I don't use a cart, it could take care of the exercise component of #1, at least in the summer. 'Nuff said.
  3. Diversify my interests outside of work. Let's face it. Blogging has become in essence my only hobby. It's a heck of a lot of fun, but I need other activities. Like #2, for instance, but other things come to mind. For example, there's that huge pile of unread books sitting on my shelf. True, in the winter, nothing fills out an evening like sitting in front of the TV with a laptop for an hour or two and pounding out the Respectful Insolence™ you've all come to know and love (or hate), but there are other things.
  4. Help my wife out around the house a lot more. Do I need to say more?

Now, Career:
  1. Submit at least four articles to peer-reviewed scientific journals. This is eminently doable, as I'm already working on two that should have been submitted by the end of last year. (I suppose one could almost consider this cheating, given that half of this resolution is a bit of a carry-over from last year.)
  2. Submit at least two major grant applications. Sadly, NIH funding is no longer enough, and, given the budget situation, the NIH is even cutting funding for noncompetitive renewals of R01 grants, which means I can't even count on my present budget to be stable. The salaries of my lab personnel continue to increase, and my budget threatens to decrease. If I don't find more money I'll either have to let someone go or be unable to affort supplies within two to three years. Gotta stay hungry. Didn't you know that, once you get a lab of your own, your two main tasks are writing grant proposals and writing papers? Well now you do! Of course, writing the papers and getting them published in good journals makes it more likely you'll succeed in getting more grants..
  3. #1 and #2 notwithstanding, get back in the lab more. I love science. I love doing experiments. I'm tired of sitting holed up in my office writing all the time. After this next round of papers and after submitting a grant for the February 1 deadline with my collaborator, I need some serious bench time. This has been building for at least a year now.
  4. Recertify in general surgery. I have until 2008 to do this, but they let you do it a couple of years early. I could put it off until 2007, but all that would do would be to increase the pressure then. This fall, it will be time to get it out of the way, which means a major review effort to refresh my memory of those areas of surgery that I rarely deal with anymore. My patients can only benefit from my refreshing my memory and reviewing new developments to be ready for the test.

And, finally, Blog:
  1. Don't feel obligated to post something every day. This goes hand-in-hand with #3 (and, truth be told, under #2 and #4) under Life. If I happen not to have something that I want to say or if I'm too tired, then I should refrain from trying to post. I don't have to spend from 10 PM to 11 PM or midnight every night writing up something. It's that sort of self-imposed pressure to produce that can cause good bloggers to give up blogging or to go on hiatus, as Matt has announced he is doing with Pooflingers Anonymous. I have to learn to realize that it's OK to let a day or two (or three) go by every now and then without posting anything. (Don't worry, I'm still obsessed enough that there will still be posts on most weekdays.) When I go on vacation, I should try to let the blog go silent for a week or two (either that, or find guest bloggers, if possible). I need to be more selective in my topics anyway, mainly because most days there are way more things that I want to write about than there is time to write about them.
  2. Be more concise. I'm still working on that one. I'll probably be working on that one for a long time. Look for it to be a resolution for 2007, assuming I'm still blogging then.
  3. Find new ways to publicize the Skeptics' Circle. When St. Nate retired from blogging, he entrusted me with his brainchild. It's doing quite well, with some fantastic editions over the last year. Now, however, is not the time to rest on its laurels. The Circle will be entering its second year in February, and I want to make its second year even better than its first.
  4. Be less self-indulgent. Oh, wait. Doing these New Years resolutions was pretty damned self-indulgent. In fact, blogging itself almost by definition is a very self-indulgent activity. Never mind.
Starting tomorrow, it's back to more conventional topics.


  1. Next year I expect to see a post reporting whether you've kept any or all of these resolutions. If not, you're in good company with the majority of the resolution prone population. If so, you'll deserve one hearty slap on your own back.

    Having said all that, on behalf of us wives, I recommend you not miss out on the helping wife out more resolution!

  2. Golf, man! Or at least get out and walk. You, as a physician, are, of course, aware that the human body will set itself up to do only that which it has been made to do. If you don't walk now, you might not be able to do it later. I personally find golf boring, but my father in law did it for years, and I am convinced that it kept him mobile for a lot longer than he would have been if he had not.

  3. How about some THHP content, m'man?


  4. Orac: "Be more concise?" I am not sure taht would be wise. Goethe once wrote a friend:

    "My dear friend. I have little time today, so I am writing you a long letter".

    Meaning that writing short prose takes much longer than just writing a long stream-of-consciousness post.


  5. Park a treadmill near the TV, then you can walk while watching mindless shows and not feel guilty. Walking works wonders for your health.

  6. "Don't feel obligated to post something every day"
    Instead, you could consider having an "open thread" and let your blogger fans entertain themselves.

  7. Someone once said about golf using a cart "If I wanted to play polo I'd have bought a horse." Play with one of those trolleys they use rather than a caddy though.

    I'm told that srugeons have something of an advantage when it comes to building models, including model railroads. Steady hands and all that.

    As far as blogging (and golf and any other hobby you might take up) the most important thing is to have fun with it. Of course that also goes for helping your wife around the house...


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