What I am reading: History of Modern Europe

I am an avid reader, have been since I was in my early teens.  While most of my reading tends to favor the SciFi genre, I have developed a taste for history.

When I was in High School I had the usual US history, and with it a smattering of world history. Of course, my 3rd year of university, I took a college level US history course, and learned how badly we were lied to in high school. Since then I have read more granular accounts of the US experience, and I have enjoyed it.

Lately though, I have come to the realization that I have a severe deficiency in my knowledge of European history.  Late last year, I was in Germany, and one of our local people took me to the Frankfurt Christmas market, and he was explaining to me about the history of the Frankfurt/Mainz area. I realized that I had almost no knowledge of the history of the Continent.

So I have resolved to rectify that shortfall.  I first found a course on the Itunes university on modern European history, taught by John Merriman, professor at Yale.  I also picked up his monstrous tome, “A History of Modern Europe from the Renaissance to the Present” (fortunately I was able to grab a used copy for $40 on Amazon).  It starts with a smattering of important topics from the medieval time, as that laid a lot of the groundwork of the renaissance.

I am through the renaissance and into the Reformation. It is a riveting read, and John Merriman is a gifted story teller.  The pace is good, and the illustrating stories are very helpful.  As this book is more than 1400 pages long, I will take quite some time to read it, and thoroughly learning the path from feudal medieval Europe into the states that exist today.

(I also read a lot on the history of mathematics and physics, but reading about real history helps place the development of mathematics in context.)

I will drop back in and report as I am working my way through this.

Weight loss update, more on my quest to not be a Person of Walmart

Started the memorial day weekend well, took a couple extra days off, and haven’t wasted them.

I had a serious plateau at 220 and 219 #’s.  I was stuck there for almost week and half.  Nothing is more depressing than counting every calorie you consume, and every erg you expend in exercise to not see any movement of the scale.  Last time I did this, I had several plateaus and I know I was able to work through them, so I stuck with it (to be fair, my birthday was in the middle of this and I had a major splurge day. Gordon Birsch Czech Pilsner. Yummy.

Fortunately, I finally broke through my plateau, and I dropped almost overnight to 216#’s.  Back on the track of 3#’s a week of weight loss (that is fast enough that my diet tracker chastises me for losing too fast).

The real plus is that about a month ago, I got back on the bicycle.  There are some great loops near my house, and I have been exploring.  I have a couple of 25 mile loops, which equates to about 1700 calories burned in an hour and 40 minutes.