What I Heard, What I Read: My 2015 Favorites

Generally “year end retrospective” and “best of” lists are published before the ball drops, and midnight choruses of Auld Lang Syne rise drunkenly in the streets, but, well, I wasn’t quite ready to look back during the final days of December. With that in mind I am going to leave the light on in 2015 a moment longer and share my 10 favorite discoveries from the year that was — 5 books, 5 albums in no particular order.

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Resolution Blues

Forget your resolution; set a goal. I know the temptation — we are turning the page to a new year, and the time feels right to resolve to change something about yourself and in turn your life. You know you should eat healthier, drink less, exercise more. Maybe now, maybe this time, your resolution will take. After all, you are a year older and more mature, better able to control your impulses. Maybe this year will be different. Except no, it won’t.

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12 Notes and 26 Letters

The field of a chessboard is divided evenly into 64 squares, and on that 8x8 grid the 32 pieces are mathematically capable of bearing out more unique games than there are atoms in the observable universe. The first time I heard this I scoffed at it. Considering that just one average grain of sand alone contains 50 quintillion atoms (that’s a 50 followed by 12 zeros) the idea that a handful of pawns and some miniature royalty are going to play through enough different sequences to outnumber the atomic totals strewn across 14 billion light years is unthinkable. On its surface it seems like a preposterous claim hardly worth serious consideration- that is until one seriously considers it.

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Southern Currency

I have a Confederate ten dollar bill. It is neatly framed in a shadow box and sitting on a book shelf in our home office. Among the imagery is a cavalry artillery unit pulling cannons presumably into battle. A portrait of Robert M. T. Hunter, Secretary of State for the Confederacy, looks out expressionless from the lower right corner as though he knows how this all will end. It was given to me by my father and to him by his father before. 

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