30 April 2008

Less is More

Continuing with my "save the Earth" theme that i have running through my non-fiction reading I finished up Simple Prosperity by David Wann last night. Like Affluenza, this book is about how our consumer, corporate driven money culture is damaging the world as well as hurting us. I think that is the point that a lot of people **coughRepubilicanscough** don't get.

I did like this book, truly. But as someone who isn't afflicted with Affluenza, who lives relatively simply already, it didn't have as many good ideas as i would have liked. Many of the big ideas are geared toward homeowners and are not really applicable to apartment dwellers (i don't have a lawn i can grow food in or string a clothesline across, i have no control over what i get if one of my appliances goes out) and many of the smaller ideas i am already doing (buying CFL bulbs, going to the Farmer's Market). It would be great to live closer to work but there's no way I can afford it. I would love to drive a hybrid but again, cost is a factor so i drive a Nissan Versa. The bus system in Nashville is a joke. I would have to take a bus from where i live to downtown Nashville, then take a bus from downtown out towards where i work, then walk about 2.5 miles to my work. Besides the time traveling being tripled I have to be at work at 6 am and no bus could get me to work by then. UGH.

This is one that should be required reading for any city planner or someone looking to buy a home though. There is a ton of information on creating people friendly, environmentally sound neighborhoods. The section on psychology is really informative too. I give this one a 5 but i had hoped it would be better.

29 April 2008

Weekly Geeks and a few other Brain Dribbles

Anybody else have Netflix? if so, click here you can add me as a friend there. random, i know.

So i joined up to the Weekly Geeks challenge. Hosted by Dewey at Hidden Side of a Leaf. It isn't exactly a challenge; it is more like BTT where you post on a topic or theme. Each week there will be a different theme. This week the theme is Discover New Blogs! We are to pick 5 new to us blogs from the other people who've signed up then read and give a comment. pretty easy!

1) Naked Without Books
2) Facing Abuse

Is it me or are there a lot more female book bloggers than male?

25 April 2008

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Another Narnia book done. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, Lucy and Edmund along with their cousin Eustace join Caspian and his crew on a sailing adventure. They sail east from Narnia to search for several Lords that Caspian's uncle had sent on away years before. They visit various islands, have adventures and learn about change and responsibility. This is one where the Christian stuff is smacking you about the head at the end, the most since The Magician's Nephew.

I think i liked it but i don't know. It is really sad. I would say that a theme for me was loss, loss of dreams. Maybe it is supposed to be about growing up. I say this one is a 5. maybe. not sure.

24 April 2008

Religion is Creepy!

I got off work 2 hours early yesterday! Hooray for me!

My therapist says something that will help me is to do different things, meet new people, move away from my work-where I am staying-eat-sleep cycle. It is hard to find something that is different, I am tired, and I am tired of trying but I feel like i need to give one more try before giving up to this ickiness completely. Hopefully this time I'll feel better, about myself and BF and my relationships. She's recommended a couple books (I like to read, did you know?) that I may or may not review on here. She's given me some specific things to try before but last week she suggested I go to a movie at the Nashville Film Festival. So I had planned to go to a movie after work but with my 2 extra hours I got to see one I really wanted to see, a documentary called Join Us. Check out the trailer.

This one is about a cult. A Christian church with a charismatic (apparently, i don't see it) leader who has almost complete control over his paritioners lives. They live in houses he owns, the men work for his construction company, the wives seem to only stay home with the kids. The unmarrie woman the documentary covers actually leaves her teaching career that she has won awards doing to work at O'charleys because the leader says she's too prideful. We meet the various people as they are entering a treatment center for cult recovery. Some of the characters (do you call people in a documentary characters?) are really ready to be done with the church but others are more reticent. There is a relatively happy ending, if real life can have an ending before death, but towards the end one person says "Are there any churches that aren't a cult?" As an atheist I know what my answer is but i do understand the difference that regular people see between church and cult.

This one is another 6.

This is post 200!

23 April 2008


How rich are you? >>

I'm loaded.
It's official.
I'm the 294,782,609 richest person on earth!

22 April 2008

Dark Children's Story Grown Up

Today I finished Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. A wonderful, creepy horror book with dark, stylized illustrations, this novel is a great read. Told in a series of interlinked stories about Baltimore and his three acquaintances, it takes place sometime after World War 1. At the beginning we get Baltimore's story, how he had to lead a suicide mission into enemy territory and survived to discover a worse horror than war and simple, awful death. He sees vampires feasting on corpses. These aren't pretty, suave vampires but nasty, stinky shapeshifting ones. He wounds the leader, who he later calls the Red King. The Red King then targets the human race as a whole, spreading the plague of vampirism though no one else seems to call it that. We see how Baltimore's three companions met him and why they believe his strange tale.

I am not even coming close to doing this one justice. I really loved it. I've always, even as a child, found Hans Christian Andersen's children's stories a little too much for me. They are all dark and at best melancholy. I can barely think of The Little Match Girl and i start crying. Whoever decided that was a proper Christmas story was stoned. But I loved this book and i give it a 6!

21 April 2008

Stop Buying Junk!

Finished Affluenza by John de Graaf, David Wann, and Thomas H Naylor yesterday. I liked it well enough but I would have probably gotten more out of it if i had the newest edition (2005) rather than a first edition (pre-9/11 2001). That is what you get sometimes with the library. It was a little weird to read things that basically say "our new president Bush has said he supports (alternative energy, carbon tax, whatever) so we'll see how that turns out" knowing that so much now that we didn't get then.

Enough politics though. The book is about the the American drive to buy happiness: how it came to be, how to see it in ourselves, how to combat it personally and politically. Honestly though, the best part of the book is the historical section. It is so weird to think a 35 hour work week was SOOOO CLOSE to being the law in the 30's. The section on the symptoms of affluenza with how our communities suffer and how we decline psychologically is good as well. I have read much about the environmental effects of the American lifestyle recently so that part wasn't too much of a revelation. I was disappointed by the section on what an individual can do but excited about the political ideas.

I gave this one a 5/7. I am starting Simple Prosperity by David Wann today that seems to be more of a how to type of book. It is also a relatively new release so will have more updated information. I think I'll wait to finish that one to give my feelings on the "live simply" idea. I like it, don't get me wrong, but I think I need to let my brain incubate it a few more days,

20 April 2008

Prince Caspian

These books are soooooooo easy to breeze through. Seriously, I finished the last half of this one yesterday while waiting for various things on my Sims 2 game to load. Prince Caspian by CS Lewis is the fourth Narnia book and I can really see why they picked this one to bring to the screen after LWW. First off, the same kids are all in it as children; I don't know yet if this holds true for any other ones but the end of this book implies we won't see Peter or Susan in Narnia as children again. Secondly, we get another big battle as well as a one-on-one duel. Aslan shows up, plenty of talking animals, a Bacchanalian Revel which will all be great to see on screen. This one gets another 5.

17 April 2008

BTT for 4/17 and a Review!

BTT first!

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

99% of the time I try to figure it out in context, in fiction at least. In non-fiction if it is just a word and seems important I'll stop to look it up on dictionary.com or if it is a concept I look on Wikipedia.

To the review. More controversial subject matter, I really am on a roll. I finally finished Spirituality for the Skeptic by Robert C Solomon. I give this one a 3/7. I didn't really NOT like it but it was really difficult to get into and wasn't at all about what I thought it was about. It is only 140 pages but took forever. It was recommended by Sweet Reason, a humanist advised column on the Institute for Humanist Studies website. I have never in my life felt "spiritual" and have felt it is for touchy-feely-New Age hippy types or some term the ultra-religious use to feel better than other people. So I was looking for a non-supernatural definition which Solomon does give: a reverent love of life. But he doesn't really say why someone should try to be spiritual in that way and how to culitivate that attitude if you want to. It is more a defense of non-religious spirituality as he defines it and showing the philosophical history of the idea of spirituality.

Currently: waiting for my lunch break.

14 April 2008

Finished Two Today

At work I read The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. I have read that this is both the 3rd and 5th book? I am just plucking them off the library shelf based on the number on the spine. I actually liked this one more than the first two. It has a standard story: intrepid noble uneducated orphan child has adventures and finds out he not only isn't an orphan but is in fact a long lost royal relative. We follow Shasta, the orphan, as he escapes from slavery with a Narnian talking horse, Bree. Along the way they meet another Narnian horse, Hwin and a young girl Aravis. I think Aravis, the tomboy escaping an arranged marriage, really made this story for me. Watching her character interact with others you can see she is exactly the girl who would run away (after being stopped by Hwin during a suicide attempt, a little bit of darkness i wasn't expecting) because she is strong, spoiled and competent. She'd get along well with Lyra from The Golden Compass! Despite the standard kid's story, and the Arab racism, I give this one a 6/7.

Also got One Drop by Bliss Broyard finished up today. A history/biography/memoir that is long and sometimes difficult. Just before her father dies in 1990 the author finds out he was of mixed race. I almost said "raised as black" but that isn't exactly correct; in fact, his parents both passed as white for work. Honestly I liked the history (of New Orleans and the struggles of the free people of color) and the biography (of the author's father, Anatole Broyard) more than I liked the memoir stuff. I guess I just got a little tired of the author trying to decide how she should act or be different due to her racial history. I just don't think anything like that would matter to me. i give the book as a whole a 4/7.

My mom's hobby when I was a kid was genealogy and she was able to trace pieces of her family back to before the Revolutionary War. Pure American Mutt on that side. They were throughout the Midwest and South (Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, Ohio) so even if I don't have an African American ancestor on that side I definitely have some long lost cousins who do. On my father's side, I am Russian, from which I received my Ivanoff last name, my large nose and blue eyes, and Italian, which topped out my adult height at 5 ft 2 but gave me tiny feet and hands. But with those two countries in my family tree who knows what mix of genes i have. Egyptian? Greek? Mongol? Indian? Does it truly matter who people hundreds and thousands of years ago slept with? What would change about me if I found out I had these various peoples as my ancestors?

11 April 2008

More Going's On

Have had a rough few days. Up through Tuesday I was basically fine. In fact, I mentioned to BF on Monday evening that I had actually felt "good" that day and Sunday. I wasn't as up on Tuesday but I still felt fine.

Tuesday night though I barely slept and felt really awful all day. Wednesday the same. Having what my therapist calls "irrational beliefs" that seem like they are quite rational and certainly backed up by plenty of evidence. Reading a bit of a depression book which I can follow intellectually but can't apply to my own situation because I just feel like what I am thinking is the truth. So I'll keep trying and trying.

08 April 2008

Lists! We don't need no stinkin' lists!

So I took a four day weekend. I usually have Friday and Saturday off, so I took Sunday and Monday too. It was very nice to not have to worry about going in. I could completely get used to a work-3-days-off-4-days schedule.

So Friday I did my normal running around thing. Therapy, lunch with BF, Target, Best Buy, etc. Found a very neat used book/music/movie store called McKay's (actually suggested by my therapist strangely enough) but only bought one book because i was overwhelmed. I will probably head there on my next payday with a list and see what i can see. Saturday I mainly just kinda laid around. I did hit the library where i found i actually had 3 books available from my hold list, not 1 as i had thought.

Sunday BF and I took a drive down Natchez Trace. We drove about 80 miles from Nashville down to Meriwether Lewis' grave. Took Chloe, our dog, who loved jumping and splashing at the waterfalls we visited. BF took a bunch of pictures but many were overexposed. I did take some decent ones of BF and Chloe so perhaps I can post those on my Flickr page later. Got a decent sunburn on my shoulders and neck; wasn't expecting that in April.

Monday I hung out at home. Played a lot of Sims, read, watched I, Robot (much better than i thought) and Good Night and Good Luck (pretty good) then went to BF's to watch the Championship game.

So I've now got 5 books from the library that I can't renew. With 2 more coming in the next week or so I'm reading strictly from library books, not my lists, at least until i get through the soon to be due books.

Read God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. Really liked it. Had this on hold since it came out. Made me feel good actually because it is GREAT to read angry, pissed off, we are better than you atheists. I don't mean to tick off the religious specifically but i live in the Bible belt and am tired of seeing more churches than bookstores. I wonder why the only places kids can play outside are fast food restaurants and churches. I am tired of looking at these giant churches knowing they are sucking up energy and only being used 2 days a week and while these stand empty we've got people sleeping on benches downtown. I feel so sorry sometimes for these people who are afraid of an invisible man who lives in the sky who may torture them for thought crimes. So it is so rewarding to read some solid refutations of religious arguments. I give this one a 6. the only reason i don't say a 7 is that i know i wouldn't recommend it to any solidly religious person because they'd be all offended.

Randomly, I also happen to be working on the Narnia books and finished The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. While this one wasn't due back, it was a tiny short little thing i was able to read quickly. I have to say it; I liked the movie much better. Not just because we get to see the great battle scene but we see the characters more realistically. The kids in the book seem a little wooden and come across the screen much better. I realized as i was writing this up it could count under Once Upon a Time 2, so i am going to count it. I'd say I'll give it a 5/7 as if i had kids I'd probably want them to read it.

01 April 2008

House of the Dead

Another for the Russian Challenge. House of the Dead, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, is little book about life in a Siberian prison. A couple deep thoughts.
Man is a creature that can get accustomed to anything, and I think that is the best definition of him.
Tyranny is a habit; it may develop, and it does develop at last, into a disease.
It has such beautiful writing about such an awful subject. The basic story is that an older man dies and his friend comes across a manuscript. This manuscript is the story of the man's ten year stint in prison in Siberia. We are talking serious hard labor 1850's prison. Dozens of men sleeping on the floor, bugs, constantly wearing chains, inedible food. It is supposedly autobiographical. The prisoners survive awful conditions and beatings, yet some seem to still have optimism for the future. The only thing i have read that even seemed close was part of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King. Just haven't read much prison lit. I haven't read anything by Dostoyevsky before and his style is so poetic it is breathtaking. I am scratching something off my list to read Crime and Punishment just to compare. This book is a 6 for me and well worth the read.