Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Man who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins

This is the true story of David Millarch and his quest to save the genetic material of the world's oldest trees. He considers this of utmost importance as  these are the trees with proven survivability.  His method is to find what he calls Champion trees and clone them.  As our climate changes, these are the trees that have proven that they can survive.  His story begins with a near death experience during after which he said he had received instructions that this was to be his purpose in life.  One would think that cloning the world's oldest trees would be a very straight forward process but it has been anything but straight forward.  To begin with, he didn't know how to clone, he didn't know where the trees were located, and had no money to do it anyway.  How he is doing it is a tribute to the virtue of perseverance.  It is an interesting read and with the exception of a little pseudoscience, well worth reading.   Chinese proverb:      When is the best time to plant a tree?  Twenty years ago.      When is the second best time to plant a tree?  Today.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Me and Joe McCarthy

I am reading Grand Expectations by James Patterson; it is a history of the United States from 1945 to 1970.  This is the period of my childhood and youth so while there are some things that are new to me, much of it refers to things that I remember.  Oddly enough, one of the things thing I remember were the McCarthy hearings.  Reading about them brought back the memory of the only time I told my mother that I was leaving home.   We had one of those newly invented televisions--it was a large brown console with a small glass screen with speakers at the bottom behind a nubby cloth and a wooden lattice to hold it in place.  Anyway, my mother had those hearings on the television and for some reason I took an intense dislike to them. I'm sure I had no comprehension of what was actually taking place.  But I could not stand to see or hear one more minute of it.  So I told my mother that since I could stand it no longer, I was leaving home.  I packed my  little yellow case with the brown felt deer on it and said goodby. Much to her credit, she didn't laugh at me or ask me where I planned to go but asked if I would consider staying if we turned the television off and played a game instead.  Which of course, we did.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weight Watchers Thursday

Two items of good news:

Last week I lost 0.8 lb. which brings my total lost to 11.8 lb and my weight to 162.8 lb

The other good news is that JMM is going to join me in doing Weight Watchers! He needs to lose 21 lb. in order not to go on blood pressure meds.  It is such fun to see him learning about the points for various foods.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today We Are Rich by Tim Sanders

Today We Are Rich by Tim Sanders Learning--feed your mind good stuff; be as careful with what you put into your mind as what you put into your mouth;  good books, good music, good conversation with people who lift you up.  Gratitude--exercise your gratitude muscle; make gratitude your first thoughts in the morning to banish fear and anxiety.  Giving--focusing on the needs of others brings out our strengths; before you let thoughts of lack become dominant, challenge them with an act of giving.  Rules for effective giving:    1.  Give in accordance with your values    2. Give to empower others    3. Give expecting nothing in return    4. Tune in to daily giving opportunities Finishing--Keep your promises.  Fulfill your commitments. Whether your habits are good or bad, you wear them as a badge of who you are.  Knowing that you should do something and not doing it changes your perception of who you are. The good loop--each time you practice learning, thanking, giving, and finishing, the positive results encourage you to do even more which of course leading to more positive results. Good motivational reading.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Bee Keeper's Apprentice by Laurie King

The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s premise is that in retirement Sherlock Holmes is paired with a young American girl who is his intellectual equal.  While taking no guff from him, she becomes his apprentice and works with him in solving crimes both large and small. Written in an A.C. Doyle style, it is a pleasant read.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weight Watchers Thursday

Last week I lost 0.4 lb. for a total lost of 11 lb.  Weight now 163.6 lb. 

Today's discussion was on adding more color to our meals--by adding fresh fruits and veggies.  While I am eating more fruits and veggies than I ever havc in my life, I am determined to add two new berries, raspberries and blueberries, and one new veggie, eggplant to my diet next week. (I may, however, have to sell the family silver to pay for the raspberries...)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pantry Clean Out

I am cleaning out my kitchen pantry.  It is a mystery of the universe to me how some of the stuff in there got there.  I am taking everything out, washing the shelves, and sorting it into keepers, expireds, and good enough to donate bags.  After the shelves are dried and aired, I'll put back the keepers and get rid of the rest.  I don't have contact paper on the shelves and they are looking a bit scuffed; next time I do this, I think I'll put in some pretty, washable contact paper. OK, back at it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Two ways of looking at it

It is raining today.  I have spent some time on the back porch supervising the rain and listening to the occasional roll of thunder. I have a couple of windows open so I can hear the lovely sound of rain.
It's rather dark and I feel a nap coming on.

The other way to look at it is to listen to the weather report on the radio or the television.  You would think it was the apocalypse--thunderstorms, possibly severe (possibly not), flooding (in the same spots it always floods), warnings not to drive into deep water (duh), possible hail, wind, and lighting. Click, off goes the radio.

Time for a cat, a quilt, and a nap.  And when I get up, I'll check for rainbows.  You never know.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Drift by Rachel Maddow

Drift by Rachel Maddow This is a great, important, well researched, and well written book that I just could not read.  That's not exactly accurate--I read the prologue, the first chapter, and the epilogue in detail.  The problem was all the chapters in between.  I just couldn't take the return in excruciating detail of Grenada, Iran-Contra, and Oliver North, from there we move on to Kuwait, Halliburton, and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney,  followed by Bosnia, leading inexorably to Afghanistan and Iraq.  It was like nails on a chalkboard for 7 of 9 chapters. Don't get me wrong, Maddow nails it completely in the description of our not so slow drift toward the replacement of our Constitutionally designed plan that going to war should be a difficult thing to do to our current state of perpetual war which can be initiated unilaterally by the President.  It's just that I lived through all of it and I just get mad all over reading about it.   Now for the really great parts of the book: the beginning and the ending.  Wow! She begins with Jefferson's great worry that a standing army would drain resources and overwhelm public sentiment.  His goal was to never have one unnecessary soldier.  The epilogue Going to war, being at war should be painful. From now on when we go to war, let's pay for it--taxes, bond drives, cake sales, whatever.  Let's do away with the secret military.  The entire chain of command should be accountable to Congress.  Let's get the chain of command straight: the President does not defer to the commanders in the field.  The President is elected by the people to execute their will. Let's scale back the use of contractors. When the contractors commit illegal acts such as rape or murder, they should be prosecuted not given a new name and a new contract. Every international problem or conflict is not ours to solve with military.  "We just need to revive that old idea that America is a deliberately peaceable nation.  That's not simply our inheritance, it's our responsibility."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Everything's coming up roses

My, oh my, how different from last year! Last year I was constantly watering the roses to keep them alive during the heat and drought. This year my roses are just outdoing themselves with blooms. I buy small bud vases by the dozen at Hobby Lobby so that I can share the beauty and fragrance. So far I have given roses to the women in the dental office when I had my teeth cleaned, to my Weight Watchers leader, to the ladies in my Bible study, and sent some to a friend who works with JMM. The DayBreaker roses are my favorites. I just love the way they seem to glow from the center. However, they are very susceptible to fungal infestation in our warm, humid climate. I have a regular rotation of fungicides that I spray on them. You can't use just one fungicide; I have 4 that I rotate and it works very well. I'll see if I can get some pictures and post them later.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff & the Death of Trust by Diana Henriques

For years I have been fascinated by "the Madoff affair."  Kind of like not being able to look away from the train wreck.  I have read several books and many newspaper articles about it but this is by far the best explanation of what and how it all happened. Diana Henriques is a senior financial writer for the New York Times and has covered the story from the very beginning.  What I appreciate most in this book is that it puts this the biggest and longest running Ponzi scheme in history in context of the times and gives insight as to how so many, many people came to be taken in by Bernie Madoff.  While this book helps me understand the people who believed in him--his family, the people who worked with and for him, the people who trusted him with the savings of a lifetime--and were finally betrayed by him,  I am still completely unable to understand how someone could betray everyone, literally everyone, in his life. 

Weight Watchers Thursday

I lost 1.8 lb. for a total lost 10.6 lb.  Weight 164. 29 lb. to go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thomas Kinkade, artist RIP

I really don't understand the nastiness aimed at him.  Surely, the world is a big enough place for all kinds of art.  Maybe it just gives a sense of self-superiority to label people whose taste in art differs from your own as un-educated know nothings.  I wonder what kind of art the Kincaid bashers have themselves actually produced.  It is always so much easier to criticize than to create.  He catered his art to a certain niche and did it quite successfully.  His work gave pleasure to many.
(And no, I don't have any of his work.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Handicapped Traveler

I have been thinking for some time now about starting a second blog which would be for those of us who love to travel but have a disability which makes travel somewhat of a challenge. So I am introducing The Handicapped Traveler. I hope that others with and without disabilities will share their travel experiences and make travel smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable for everyone including the disabled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Well, I was just blown away by this book and its unblinking look into the hideous treatment of Muslim women. Ayaan Hirsi Ali experienced it all from female genital mutilation, to a forced marriage, to death threats because she spoke out against the mutilation, beatings, and honor killings of women under Islam.
If you are a person who thinks of Islam as a religion of peace, I challenge you to read this book.

Weight Watchers Thursday

This week I lost 2.2 lb. for a total loss of 8.8 lb.  Weight now 165.8. (30.8 lb. to go.) It is getting easier now that I know the portion sizes and points for most of the meals I prepare.  Weight Watchers eTools is fantastic.   I am really looking forward to getting under 160 lb.  Tomorrow we are meeting Charles & Bonnie and Paul & Wendy to celebrate Charles' 80th birthday at Gringo's Mexican restaurant; I'll have the chicken fajitas with lots of salsa.
WW is a wonderful way to lose weight--a weekly meeting, all the on-line support you could ask for, and a really nutritious way to eat real food while losing the weight.