Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Things To Do Before You Die

There's an article that Slashdot pointed to about 100 scientifically-oriented things you should do before you die. There aren't many of them that appeal to me to be honest (i would like to touch a tiger, and i've already gone outside to peruse the night sky on innumerable occasions). I've gone through the process of deciding what i should do before age X a couple of times, at the decade markers. For some reason i decided that there were certain books i had to read before turning 30. I don't remember them all anymore, but they included Ulysses and War and Peace (i love War and Peace, btw; Ulysses was better than i expected, much more readable than i'd heard). For 40, it was various physical events: running my first marathon, doing my first 100+ mile bike ride, re-starting martial arts training.

My list of things that i'd like to do before i die is relatively short at this point in my life (which i hope is not a bad omen). I think the trick to leading a happy life is to discover new things that you want to do as you go, but there are a handful of things i'm pretty sure will remain on my list until accomplished. In no particular order these are:
  • Take a really long walk. I have in mind something like the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Appalachian Trail, though i expect there are a thousand places in the world that would suffice.
  • Reach the southern hemisphere. Although i've traveled to Europe and Asia multiple times, and i've crossed every longitude, i've never managed to get below the Equator yet (technically, i believe i've flown south of the Equator, but that doesn't count). I think the closest i've been is Bacolod in the Philippines, which is about 10 degrees north latitude. The only problem with this one is that i think i promised a friend that i'd pierce my ear if i ever crossed the Equator, but i think that only applies if i sail across it.
  • Write a book. I've had a couple of things published, including one short piece that appeared in a book; but i'd really like to go through this whole process. I don't really care what kind of book, even something technical would be adequate.
  • Become fluent in another language. I've got bits of Russian, and a fair comprehension of Spanish; but i'd really like to become conversationally fluent in another language. I think Spanish is probably my best bet, since i have access to many native speakers.
And that's about it. There are many things that i think would be fun, like learning to scuba dive or solving one of Erdos's unsolved problems or becoming more proficient with my guitar, but if i never do those things it won't bother me. Apparently, the ideal thing for me to do would be to go to South America, hike across Argentina, and then write a book about it.

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