Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: non-fiction

But I’m Not Arguing That With You!

“Refusing to put your time and energy into arguing, and ignoring someone completely, could be a better use of your resources.”

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do” by Amy Morin

This will be the last post about this book, but there is so much more in it. I’m trying to limit myself to five short posts about each book, but I just couldn’t pass up this last one.

No Need To Argue

In person and online, 99% of the time there is no real need to argue with people. We waste our time and energy, two of our most precious resources. When we argue our point with words, all we do is set people around us on the defensive and create more drama to live through.

What can we do instead? Live our own lives the way we want to and walk away from arguments.

I can hear you already…but…but…what if people are wrong?!

You’re not going to change other people’s thoughts or behavior by arguing with them.

You’re just not. I’m sorry.

People are mostly social creatures though, and if your life is peaceful and joyful, they’ll want to be around you. And subtle daily influence changes hearts and minds, not social media comments and intense words about how wrong they are over lunch.

There Is Time To Pause and Think – Take It

“Giving yourself a little bit of time, even if it’s just a minute or two, to develop an opinion could help you catch yourself when you’re simply going along with the crowd.” 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

Even a “Mom’s Night” Gives You an Opportunity to Pause and Think

Have you ever been to one of these events? A group of Mom’s, either friends before kids or maybe they’re friends because of the kids; scouts, school, or sports, has brought these parents together. They’ve made connections while the kids do their thing, so they organize a “Mom’s Night” to have fun without kids in tow.

I never was one to have close female friends, even in school. Somehow the idea of hanging out with a group of women never appealed to me. I always felt like an outsider, a little too rough and “non-feminine” to hang out with the girls. I was far more interested in what the guys were doing, in more than a “can I grab myself a new boyfriend” way. I wanted to talk about fixing things, tell dirty jokes, and not worry so much about hurting feelings.

Amazingly enough, I have made female friends over the years though, mostly through homeschool groups my sons attended. And I have found myself at a few “Mom’s Night” events and had fun, despite my reservations about going.

How is this related to giving yourself time to think , Michelle? Get to it. We don’t have all day!

Well, one of the ways I practiced giving myself a minute to see if I was just following the crowd was at a “Mom’s Night.” Choosing a movie to see, a restaurant to go to, or what picture to paint at Paint Night, was a chance to take a second and think. Is this really what I want to do, or am I following what the women around me are choosing?

Many times, my pause to think allowed others to do the same and we ended up going in an entirely different direction.

At a dinner, when the waitress started asking, “What can I get you to drink?” and the table started with “iced tea,” “water,” or “cola,” I took a pause. I thought this was a night out?! I ordered a beer…and the rest of the table changed their orders, except one woman that really did just want a cola without her kids begging to have some too. We all laughed. We were doing what we thought everyone expected of us, not what we really wanted.

Our natural herd mentality is a strong instinct. Safety first! Right? Better to go with the flow and stick to what everyone else is doing! Except when the person that picked the direction of the flow in the first place is nothing like you or has none of the wants and needs that you do.

We don’t have to go against the grain in every circumstance. There is such a thing as common sense, behavior and choices that generally benefit humans. But we do need to watch ourselves and make sure that we are, in fact, making the choice to follow. If we don’t we’ll end up exactly where everyone else does and that might not be where YOU want to be.

Using Anger as a Shield

“Anger is a powerful protective shield. It feels better to be angry than sad or hurt. Anger gives you energy, but just below the surface, fear, embarrassment, and pain often lurk.”

13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

Why is that? Because anger isn’t vulnerable and sad or hurt is. When you tell people your angry, they react. You have a right to be angry. Something has offended me and, dammit, you better get to fixing that right now!

But tell someone you feel hurt by their words or actions? Or, worse, tell someone you feel sad about something that has happened? Imagine that reaction.

“Sticks and stones…don’t be so sensitive!”
“Into every life, some rain must fall…it’ll pass.”

When I tell someone that I’m sad or hurt, I’m opening myself up to criticism. It’s me with the problem, not you. I am the one feeling. And usually, all I want is a little compassion, a pat on the back, a hug, or a shared look of love and support while I work through it. What I usually get is condemnation for … for what? Allowing myself to be vulnerable? For asking for support instead of toughening up?

You know what pulling myself up alone leads to? Resentment and then anger. I can get righteous attention for my anger. People jump up and listen when I start shouting, in person or online. And I’ve created a habit of projecting anger at the first sign of any feeling. All it’s done is helped me build bigger and bigger walls between the people around me.

What do I do these days when I feel that anger rise up in my chest? I have a few tactics lately. One is to write it down before I speak it and sit with it until the next day. I ask myself, “What is this anger in reaction to?” Sometimes I can see the hurt or fear just beneath and tease it out of hiding. I’ve even had the chance to express that fear instead of reacting in anger.

And guess what? Most of my fears are unfounded. And most of my sadness is just a mood that passes. All I really needed was to express my actual feeling around people that know me best. I’ve learned to ask for what I need, not wait for someone to guess…and then get angry about their lack of mindreading abilities.

Looking for a Chernobyl Book? This One Seems Promising

Chernobyl book cover on desert background.

I took it as a sign that I HAD to read this Chernobyl book when I saw it on an Instagram feed. He said he read it because he saw the HBO series. Well, I saw that series too and I loved it and was thinking about reading more about it, so here I am with the book in my hot little hands!

That series was stressful. I don’t know how accurate it was about what happened, but since we’re not passive tv watchers, my sons were looking things up, reading articles, and commenting throughout the series, so I felt like it gave us an entertaining overview of it.

I grew up in the 80s. The only thing I was worrying about was whether or not my skates were working well enough or if some boy in my class liked me. I really had no real idea about what was going on outside my neighborhood, let alone way over in Russia.

Riveted by the tv show, I wondered…how did I not know anything about this?! I know about it now, even before the show. I knew it was a nuclear meltdown in Russia, and that the area was still closed off and unlivable. I heard recently that you could take tours of the area from my teenage sons. How they hear about these things, I really don’t know. They seemed to know more about it that I did. My husband, who is a few years older than me, remembered hearing something about it when it happened.

I just cannot imagine dealing with this kind of a situation, working in a nuclear power plant, responsible for so many people’s lives. And then the people they brought in to mitigate the damage?! I can’t even… The most stress I ever had to deal with at work was how we were going to stop a light from falling onto the stage in the middle of a live Elvira performance. True story. Don’t worry, it ended well. No one got hurt because we were damn lucky, but to say it pales in comparison to trying to figure out how to stop a nuclear meltdown from potentially burning to the earth’s core and destroying the planet, is beyond putting it lightly. And this is not science fiction! Yikes!

I can’t wait to share my favorite quotes from this one!

Want to read more about Chernobyl? There are lots of great books out there. I found this article helpful in narrowing down my search for more information, 15 Books You Have to Read About Chernobyl and the Chernobyl Disaster.


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Strange Stalkers

They are up to something I just know it. Just as I sat down to write to you about them, I heard them gathering again just outside my window. Their innocent chatter doesn’t fool me. When I looked out, there were about fifteen of them, a bigger group than I saw yesterday, mostly grown and clearly looking for trouble.

Yesterday I went out front to water some of my plants before the sun got too hot. The dog went rushing out and down the driveway as she always does, racing to see if she can flush out a rabbit or two to chase away. Her beagle instincts say chase, but with her short corgi legs she never can catch them. She doesn’t even seem to be trying. It looks to me like she has more fun just scaring them out of the creosote bushes and running them off, trotting back to the driveway with her tongue hanging out and tail up, that “happy dog” look.

As I drag the hose around to the few trees and juniper bushes I have out front, the cat comes sauntering out of the gate. He sits on the front porch with that bored look all cats have, as if he just can’t believe he’s stuck here.

The water bowl is refilled, the agaves sprinkled when I notice a fat quail leap up into a Joshua tree in the garden walk. I love the way one of them always gets up high as a look out for the others. He warns them of any potential problems, and I swear gives the direction it’s coming from because they all seem to stay carefully aware and moving away from any predators…except my cat.

This time I heard the lookout give a chirping warning to the covey below and then hop down from the tree and join them. They were moving away from me and the hose, I thought. Then I saw the cat on the path, just walking slowly like a lion on the Savanna. He wasn’t stalking, just walking along toward the pine tree at the end of the driveway, not a care in the world.

Once he was out in the open, I noticed the quail about ten feet behind him, tentatively following him. He had to notice they were there, their chattering was hysterical, but he kept walking. When he got to the shade of the tree he stopped, and his followers stopped too, a group of about ten mostly grown quail. I stopped watering, stood still, and watched as the drama unfolded.

The cat continued up the driveway toward the house, seemingly unaware of the little marauders at his heels. He moved slowly, not making any sudden moves. The quail moved in one large group behind him, getting braver if the cat kept moving, but stepping back flustered whenever he slowed or looked back at them.

They reminded me of teenage groupies after a handsome young movie star. Star struck, they clearly want an autograph but not a single one is brave enough to approach and ask their hero directly for what they want. They keep pushing each other closer, “No, you ask!” “No, you!” “I’ll go if you do.” “No way!” It’s hilarious. I can barely keep myself from laughing and breaking up the whole show.

Once the cat got closer to the house, he stopped and sat in the shade of a bush. The quail stayed behind the next bush, chirping and squeaking amongst themselves, jostling for position. The cat made a move to straighten his fur as he sat and they all rushed a few feet back to the next bush, only to make a comeback when they realized he wasn’t moving toward them.

I kept watching, wondering what the plan was. What were they trying to do? Keep him away from a nest? I’ve seen a young couple do that to him in the yard before. They can be aggressive if he gets near where they have been nesting. But these were not nesting adults, they were a teenage gang. Maybe they were made brave this year by their swell in numbers. I’ve never seen this many quail broods and in such large sizes, as I have this summer. One group of tiny babies numbered over twenty-five birds!

The cat was on the move again. He continued his return to the shade of the porch and his stalkers kept up their pursuit, albeit from a safe enough distance. As he came around the bush and towards the gate, our dog noticed him and bounded to greet him, scattering the birds all over the yard.

I laughed out loud at the front yard antics and went back to finishing up the watering. I told him he should probably be a little careful out there. They are up to something wicked; I can just sense it. He seems to think he can handle the situation because today he was out there lounging on the front porch as usual. He can’t say he wasn’t warned.

Sharing the Excitement of Discovery

I’m going to admit right now that I know nothing about Henry Ford other than “Model T” and “assembly line.” I’m about 50 pages in right now and I’m learning a lot.

The turn of the century…wait, we can’t use that with any clarity anymore! Umm…circa 1900? Turn of the last century? Late 19th, early 20th century?

Anyway, you know what I mean by now! Well, that era in US history hasn’t pulled much of my interest. We didn’t learn it in school, did we? In my memory, high school history goes from the Civil War and then jumps to the Roaring 20’s and then dives a bit into the Depression. 1850’s to 1920’s is a big gap. Did nothing happen?

Turns out a lot of things happened, a lot of things that were a result of the changes in our government brought on by the actions during the Civil War, among other things. And guess what else? Things were happening all over the world too, not just in the United States! Shit. I just now, like as I typed this, realized the Russian Revolution was happening. Wow.

You see, that’s why I like writing these. If I just read and take notes, it all goes in one ear and out the other…or maybe in my eyes in this case, but then where does it come out? Never mind.

What I’m trying to say is that this blog probably helps me more than it entertains and amazes you. For the past six months or so, I was only posting the picture of the book I’m reading on Instagram and then using it as a background for any quotes I thought were interesting to share. Those were automatically being shared to my personal Facebook page, but it turns out that only about four of my friends (one is my Dad, another is my husband, so really two or three actual friends) give a flying crap about any books, let alone the non-fiction that I love to read.

And here’s the interesting thing I learned from that experiment: just because no one I know likes to read and talk about books, doesn’t mean no one in the world does. It doesn’t mean that I’m alone in this world. And it doesn’t mean my excitement about the things I find is invalid and that I should keep it to myself. I just need to find new readers!

So, I changed things up again and made myself a new blogger page on Facebook. I still post the book pictures and quotes to IG but now it’s also shared to Facebook and anyone in the world can follow me there. Since some people just like the pictures and some like to read more, I’m also sitting down to write a bit more thoughtfully about the pictures and quotes I post each day and then sharing it here on my blog.

This daily post, now that I’m getting the hang of it, makes me think in one direction for at least thirty minutes a day and it is beginning to be the next best thing to talking it out in an in-person group of readers (something I couldn’t find BC and is now…well…next to impossible). I guess I’ll just have to keep tapping away here. Like sending messages in a bottle, someone is bound to come along and find it eventually. Hopefully, I’ll still be alive when they do, and we can share a drink together and chat!

“Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”

It’s my second time reading about the extraordinary popular delusions of men. Seems like now would be a good time to dive in again.

Book cover of "extraordinary popular delusions" on a desert background.

Something pulled my attention back to this book this morning as I took my walk around the neighborhood. I pulled it off my shelf when I got home and found that the last time I read it was 2012. I had bought the book at a used bookshop in Big Bear, California. And inside there’s another name, “Bob Baker, Freson, CA, April 1996.”

Who else has read this particular copy?

Opening to the forward and reading a few pages at the bookshelf, I was reminded why I loved the book so much and decided it should be my immediate next read. First published in 1841, it’s amazing to find how little humanity changes as a whole.

There is so much one could delve into with this book, so many similar theme and reactions in our own time, but I’ll leave that to greater minds than mine. I underlined and made a lot of notes in this book, but when I went back through the book to write about it, the post just kept coming out too negative and it made me unhappy to dwell on it too deeply. The big takeaway? People in large numbers are wildly unpredictable, crazy, and willing to take you along with them by force if necessary.

Instead, I’ll share with you a few of my favorite quotes. These are the ones that made me laugh or think, “Ah, humanity…you are so, so nuts!”

“His own wife was ill-favoured and ill-natured; Dee’s was comely and agreeable; and he longed to make an exchange of partners without exciting the jealousy or shocking the morality of Dee.”

Who wouldn’t want to make and exchange? And besides maybe that ill-natured woman would be a real match for someone else!

“Men, in striving to gain too much, do not always overreach themselves; if they cannot arrive at the inaccessible mountain-top, they may perhaps get half-way towards it, and pick up some scraps of wisdom and knowledge on the road.”

Striving toward any goal, whether we make it or not, at least gets us somewhere. Unless you’re striving to walk on water and can’t swim. That can’t be good. Or striving to stop some people dying from one thing, but end up killing off a lot more with the prevention or cure. That would suck, but we’d still learn something, right?

“Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or phantasy into which it plunges, spurred on either by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. Failing these, it has some madness, to which it is goaded by political or religious causes, or both combined.”

Every age. Even this one.

You can find “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” at Thirftbooks if you’d like to read it yourself. Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your comments!


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
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Thirteen Books!

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For a while now, I’ve been attempting to post about every book I read but I think I’m changing my plan. I have a backlog and it’s disrupting my peace. The picture you see above is my current pile of already read books waiting to be summed up. When anything starts to pile up, my anxiety starts to build and that’s when I shut down and discontinue my practice. Homework, email, laundry, diet plans: that overwhelm feeling grates on my nerves and colors everything else I attempt to do. I’ve found that it’s much better for me to pick and choose my battles. I can’t just throw out the clothes or the dishes instead of washing them when they pile up, but I can delete all the emails, drop the class, or walk away from the diet, so I do.

So here we are with a pile of books on the corner of my desk, waiting to be reviewed and blogged about. Every day I see them and walk by. Every day I pick up the top one, thumb through it, look at the rest of the pile, and walk away. I can’t even sit at my computer and write about something else, because those books are looking at me in the accusatory way that makes me start to sweat every time I see them.

This morning, I walked by and thought, “My that pile looks so pretty like that. I should take a picture.” As I did, I had an epiphany. Why not post about that pile? Maybe pull one thing from each book to write about, give them closure so to speak, and then file them away on my bookshelf? And that is exactly what I’m doing right now.

This may be a bit long and boring but it has to be done. My reader heart needs closure on these. Feel free to scroll through and find a title that catches your eye! I will allow it…this time!

“Following Muhammad – Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World” by Carl W. Ernst

This book was suggested reading from another book I read about religious literacy and it was an excellent read. I highly recommend it for everyone. It really helped me understand Islam, its history, its diversity, and cleared up a lot of misunderstandings for me. It’s also not a long, boring, overly detailed read. It’s just an overview, something to get you started on the path to understanding and tolerance. Go get this book right now.

“The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California” by Curt Gentry

A friend sent me this book, with a few others, after our last big earthquake. He thought I’d like it and he was so right! It’s historical fiction, written as if the “Big One” hit and all of California was dumped into the sea, disappearing forever. It’s so easy to read and a great story. Most of the book highlights California history in the first half of the 20th century. What would the rest of the country miss if California disappeared? I couldn’t put it down and ended up adding a few other California History books to my reading list.

“Writing as a Path to Awakening” by Albert Flynn DeSilver

This one was a little too “woke” for me, but not a waste of time. I found some inspiration. Little things like “we are meaning-making machines” made me smile. I wrote that one down and posted in on my “writing altar” along with “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes process, and with consistent attention, proficiency, and eventually, with further devotion, mastery.”

“The Best American Essays – 2018” edited by Hilton Als

I love a good essay! These would have been better if fewer of them were about how much Trump has ruined their lives. There were some great ones though. I love hearing people’s perspectives and experiences.

“Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them” by Francine Prose

“Hey! That’s me!” That’s what I thought when I saw the title on Amazon and clicked BUY. It was a bad idea though because…well…it added a couple dozen books to my reading list! Ha! It is full of great examples of narration, character, and dialogue, among other things. Reading it is like talking to a fellow book lover!

“The Man Who Quit Money” by Mark Sundeen

I read this under duress. It was assigned to my son by a college English Composition teacher last year and there has been much debate about its content, premise, and subject, but…no one had actually read it all. I decided I would. “In 2000, Daniel Suelo gave away his life savings. And began to live.” It was hard to read. I kept thinking, he’s not living with less or living without or “off the land,” he’s only living off others. He stays with friends, dumpster dives, and uses the internet at the library. I honestly don’t think he was any happier living that way than if he had just focused on being more conservative in how he lives, using less, etc. The only reason he could live the way he did was because most people don’t. Most people have more than they need, throw away excess, underuse what they have, so he has those resources. There was a lot to think about though and I appreciated his journey.

“Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney

So, what do I think when I read that title? “James and the Giant Peach” of course! I hear the centipede singing it every time I read those words. I hear there was a movie of this very book. I know…I’m so lost. Anyway, book was…interesting. Pretty darn sad. And deep at the end. Wow.

Two things I took away from it that were awesome. First of all, he works in a magazine’s “Department of Factual Verification.” I can’t imagine doing this job before the internet! Every article they buy from a writer must be “fact checked” by a third party before printing. They have to call places and look things up in the encyclopedia, libraries, and other publications. It’s a huge amount of work. The magazine has a reputation to protect. They can’t just pull an article off the internet if it turns out to be false like they do now. Once it’s in print, it’s there forever! Wow.

The other thing was this quote, “…what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions, until all you can remember is a name.” Ouch.

“Carrie” by Stephen King

This book has a back story too. It’s one of the scariest movies I ever saw, mostly because I saw it when I was around six years old! Before you go calling my mom a monster, little kids are supposed fall asleep late at night and my brother and I were safely tucked away and sound asleep in the back seat of our car in our feet pajamas when the movie started. You just gotta love drive-ins! My parents were watching the movie in the front seat and at the end of the movie, there I was with my head poked between the seats, eyes wide. I had nightmares for years! We were all traumatized!

Something I noticed when I finished the book…Carrie is just Frozen with a much more horrifying ending. Small girl with latent powers the adults can’t deal with so they lock her away until she becomes an adolescent, at which point her powers are too much for anyone to deal with including the girl.

“How to do Nothing – Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell

Another great book with some amazing insight into stepping out of the world for a bit and changing your focus. I just wish it could have been done in a more positive way, without adding “the world is ending because Trump is president” bologna. The world is just as messed up as it always was. The internet isn’t destroying us. Facebook is not the great Satan. Please. Just stop. I also wish it had more examples and ideas of “how” instead of so much “why.”

“Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor

Ok. This…was strange. I never got the point of the story. Didn’t really care about the characters. The whole book was odd. Maybe I missed the point? While I did finish the book, desperately hoping for meaning, it did start a series of DNF’s (did not finish) in August.

“Beyond Good and Evil” by Friedrich Nietzsche

DNF. That’s what they write by your name if you start a race but don’t finish. Maybe your bike broke down or (Lord forbid) you crashed and didn’t get back on the bike, but you never crossed the finish line.

This book I did not finish. I just couldn’t read it. Several pages in and I had no idea what he was trying to say and no patience to have every page explained. I’m not sure if it’s the translation or what. I enjoy Nietzsche’s philosophy, so I was disappointed that I couldn’t read it for myself. Maybe I’ll find about book that explains it better? Or…maybe…take a class?

“Revolution at Berkeley” by Miller and Gilmore

Another DNF. A collection of articles about the protest at Berkeley in the 60’s. Fascinating read, mostly because the articles are from that time, not ours, but I gave up reading about a third of the way through. I had enough information and just wasn’t interested the subject anymore.

“Night Shift” by Stephen King

On a bit of a Stephen King jag lately. I have two more on my “to read” shelf! This guy really knows how to entertain through horror. My husband walked into the room while I was reading this and I about jumped out of my skin!

So, there you have it! Thirteen books! Phew…I’m exhausted!

Adventure Story

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“Wind, Sand and Stars” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

This book…wow…the imagery he brings up through his words is amazing. Every page is filled with beauty. And it’s a true story. I have never given much of a thought about Africa or the Middle East before our own time, much less about how mail would get across the desert in those areas! And now, well, I’m enchanted. A technology was invented that changed the world, airplanes. Suddenly, there was a way to communicate with people across vast distances in a fraction of the time it used to take. And there were people that were unhappy about it. Imagine that!

He describes amazing scenes and adventures, some that didn’t end well, with an insight to human nature that we can all use a dose of today. Imagine the risk of flying those old airplanes across the desert just to get a letter or other document to a relative or business partner? Makes posting to social media seem like child’s play, but imagine the impact it can have compared to that one letter!

I never even knew this book existed until I heard another author mention it as his favorite book as a child, one he has read over and over again. Ahh…that…reading one book over and over. I’ve never done it. I sometimes wonder if, in my quest for more information, more story, I miss the deeper meaning and joy of really knowing one small piece of the world. I probably do.

Sometimes I feel like a collector. At the moment, I’m collecting books like there’s no tomorrow. What if there isn’t? What if the time comes when I can buy no more for some reason or another, and all I have is what I’ve already collected? That will be the time to start re-reading!


 “Numerous, nevertheless, are the moralists who have attacked the machine as the source of all the ills we bear, who, creating a fictitious dichotomy, have denounced the mechanical civilization as the enemy of the spiritual civilization.”

Funny to think a book written in 1939 would have the same complaints we have today. When I hear people complain that the technology we have today is the end of the civilization, I wonder if they’ve ever read anything older than 20 years.


“What are the hundred years of the history of the machine compared with the two hundred thousand years of the history of man? It was only yesterday that we began to pitch our camp in this country of laboratories and power stations, that we took possession of this new, this still unfinished, house we live in. Everything around us is new and different – our concerns, our working habits, our relations with one another.

“Our very psychology has been shaken to its foundations, to its most secret recesses. Our notions of separation, absence, distance, return, are reflections of a new set of realities, though the words themselves remain unchanged. To grasp the meaning of the world today we use a language created to express the world of yesterday.”

How’s that? How much more has changed in 100 years, more than any other century of the past? We’ve created a technology that will change everything yet again. Yes, things seem insane and upside down. It will be ugly for awhile. Evolution isn’t pretty and it doesn’t always end well. But it’s happening and the only way to deal with it is to ride the wave and see where it goes.


“Every doctrine swears that it can breed men, but none can tell us in advance what sort of men it will breed. Men are not cattle to be fattened for market.”

That’s what I think schools are doing, fattening cattle for market. In the past we could know what the market will be one from one generation to the next. We’d need farmers, businessmen, explorers, etc. There were jobs we needed to fill that were predictable. And to do those jobs there was a set amount of information, education that each would need. Life has changed so much that that has become increasingly untrue. I think it started just before the author’s time and has steadily increased in the number of changes until now and beyond. We’re better off teaching our children basic skills like communication and how to stay flexible and alert, than a set of rules and dictations as we have in the past. Right now, anything can happen and we need to be ready to move one way or another. Those that can’t, won’t survive.


And this sweet reminder to write!

“Let a man in a garret but burn with enough intensity and he will set fire to the world.”


“For man’s greatness does not reside merely in the destiny of the species: each individual is an empire.” I don’t think we respect the individual as much as we should. We tend to act like hive mates and treat the hive as supreme. It’s limiting. Each of us holds a world in our heads and hearts. Each of us has something to add to the world, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, brilliant or dull. “Interdependent” that’s the word I love. We are each our own sovereign world, capable of taking care of ourselves, but when we work together we become so much more. It’s the same with people as it is when nations and cultures. If we could only see that and stop trying to force each other to bend to each other’s will.

“Each shell that fell upon Madrid fortified something in the town. It persuaded the hesitant neutral to plump for the defenders. A dead child weighs heavily in the balance when it is one’s own. It was clear to me that a bombardment did not disperse – it unified. Horror causes men to clench their fists, and in horror men join together.”

How, after all these years of war, can we not see this today? Do we really think we are doing any good in the world when we commit violence against another?


And the last…

“To come to man’s estate it is not necessary to get oneself killed round Madrid, or to fly mail planes, or to struggle wearily in the snows out of respect for the dignity of life. The man who can see the miraculous in a poem, who can take joy from music, who can break his bread with comrades, opens his window to the same refreshing sea. He too learns a language of men.

But too many men are left unawakened.”

It can be easy to read true stories of adventure and start to think that the only way to really live is be out there living through disasters, that they only way to learn to live through struggle is to struggle yourself, that the only way to respect life is by losing parts of it, but that’s not true. Humans have an amazing ability to communicate over generations. It’s what sets us apart from any other animal. It’s what I believe is the “image of God” in us. We communicate through all types of medium, the written word, music, paint, and technology. Open yourself up to it. Read, experience, and create. Wake up to the world around you!

“Everything is F… – A Book About Hope”

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I’m so far behind on book reviews that it’s just ridiculous. Should I just give up on the pile of just finished books I have here on my desk? Start fresh, so to speak, and simply review the one I’m currently reading when I’m done? That would be the easy way, wouldn’t it?

I think I’ll go ahead and do “mini” reviews for these books. I’ll pull out an idea or two from each and leave it there. Here we go.

I started to write a review for this over a week ago and realized I just can’t. First of all, I should have written it last month when I finished it. That would have been ideal, when the ideas were fresh. I sat here thumbing through looking at the words I underlined and getting a glimpse of the awesome

When I listened to the interview, he said the book would trigger anger in some people. His first book was gentler, this one goes for the throat, right to many people’s most sensitive spots. He got me too and I was prepared. I found myself thinking, “Hold on just one stinkin’ minute, Mark!” But then set it aside to wonder what it was he was really trying to say.

When you go to a doctor about a pain you have, say in your foot, he feels around that foot looking for the pain. He pushes on it in small increments until he pokes it right where it hurts most. “Sorry. I know that hurts. But now I know where exactly to put the medicine.” That’s what the author is doing here, I think.

To find a cure for what ails us, we need to look at all the pieces, all our life narratives, all the things we hold dear, to see which one, and then which part of the that one, is really causing the trouble.

This is one of those books that I’ll have to read again to get more meat off the bone. There was just so much to digest.

Here’s just one idea that I fell in love with!

“…why don’t we do things we know we should do? Because we don’t FEEL like it. Every problem of self-control is not a problem of information or discipline or reason but, rather, of emotion.

…emotional problems are much harder to deal with than logical ones. There are equations to help you calculate the monthly payments on your car loan. There are no equations to help you end a bad relationship.”

His caricature of humans as a consciousness car, driven by a feeling brain with a thinking brain in the passenger seat is just beautiful. Our feelings drive us, and our brain justifies and explains why we’re doing the things we want to do. That’s why we keep doing things we know are not logical. We eat when we’re not hungry. We throw tantrums instead of using our words to communicate needs. And we ruin our long-term relationships, knowing full well that we could navigate the waters a better way.

What can we do to fix it? He goes into some ideas and why they work. Some I’ve heard from my own kids. And some I’ve thought of myself. The big one being, sometimes we have to replace habits instead of kick them.

The book is just awesome. I was looking through my notes and found “How can one book have so many awesome ideas?!” I’d probably have written a thousand page essay about all the brilliant things he said if I had done the review last month when it was all fresh in my head, but instead, I’ll enthusiastically point you in the direction of it so you can read it yourself.

Don’t let the title and sarcastic tone make you think it’s a negative tale of doom. It’s not. Society, government, religion…all the forbidden dinner party topics, wrapped up in 232 pages. You won’t regret it!

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