Off My Butt and Back to Work

Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy of late.  I blame it all on LOST, truly.  It’s not all LOST’s fault, but I’m blaming all of it on the show anyway. :-D

Mags and I have been rewatching the past seasons, we’re about halfway through season 2 now, and it’s “brother” everything around here right now.  “Are you going to school, brother?  Don’t forget your backpack, brother.  Do you have Math Bowl after school, brother?  Or cheerleading, brother?”  Meh, she rolls her eyes at me and says, “Mom, stop it.”  but I know she loves it.  I know she laughs as soon as she leaves and is just too cool to give a chuckle in my presence.

We’re also almost done with Stargate SG-1, and working our way through Atlantis as they were televised concurrently.  LOST and Stargate, it’s all their fault.  Seriously, though, I’m loving Stargate Atlantis so much more than SG-1 right now for two reasons: 1) The Ori really suck as bad guys, honestly.  The Goa’uld were such better baddies… not to mention beatable.  I just don’t see us kicking much Ori butt and it’s a bit depressing. and Atlantis have Wraiths to fight (and now we’re getting the Pegasus Galaxy’s version of the Replicators… meh).  Wraiths are creepy/cool/bad/ugly-but-beautiful aliens who suck the life from their victims with “mouths” in their palms.  The SECOND reason that Atlantis is better than SG-1 (at least the last two or three seasons of the show) is:

Ronan Dex

OMG… Faint!  He’s soo HAWT!  He’s played by Jason Momoa, who’s okay, but I totally have a character crush.  He fiercely guards his friends (even McKay, lol), loves deep, and has honor and integrity I wish could be found in more people.  AGAIN… lol… Maggie rolls her eyes a LOT when we watch Atlantis.  She really hates it when I lick the TV screen.

*Sigh* have to wait until the mail comes tomorrow for more Atlantis.

Which is some of the other things that has been capturing my interests, btw.  There’s fairly good evidence that the “Lost City of Atlantis” was actually Minoa, which experienced severe destruction after being repeatedly swept over by wave after wave of a powerfuls tsunami when the iland volcano that is now Santorini in the Agean sea suffered a mega eruption 10 times that of Krakatoa which blew out it’s cauldera.  80-90% death toll, and whoever was left were slaughtered in the invasion of the Peloponnese Greeks, who were possible the only major empire in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to have remained unaffected by the disaster.  Cool, eh?

Then there’s the whole science of “free energy” that I’ve been studying up on.  The Hutchison effect has got to be one of the most bizarre phenomena I’ve ever seen.  Through the manipulation of energy, they’re able to transmute substances into unknown elements, levitate objects, and even cause a sudden and instantaneous death on the cellular level.  It’s totally weird and completely real.  It’s quite possible that we could see the elimination of need for fossil fuels, except for two things… DOLLARS and EGOS.  DOLLARS, because energy barrons are NOT going to allow any kind of invention that would allow us to go off-grid.  Simply put, “If I can’t slap a meter on it, then I won’t fund it” as J. P. Morgan told Tesla.  As to EGOS, well…  The mainstream, “accepted” scientific experts have ranted a lifetime against the idea that energy could be free (because they’re paid by BARRONS to “research” such claims) and if such a shift were to occur in our understanding, then they’d have to admit they’re wrong.  OMIGOD!  Nooooz!  The universe would implode from the sudden intake of breath!

Then of course there’s the whole Paradox of Choice that will keep us bound to environment-polluting, resource-sucking fossil fuels.  Basically, if it requires making a decision in our modern world full of 175 different salad dressings and over 200 choices of breakfast cereal, we become paralyzed and, instead of making an informed decision, we opt for inaction. 

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Then I realized this morning that I’d totally missed the PUSH deadline.  Crap.  LOL…  So I’ll be getting the entries compiled and getting a winner picked quickly.   So you get an extended chance to enter.  I have a review of Tainted by Brooke Morgan to post tomorrow, so I’ll get the winner picked for Thursday then.  I’ve been such a slacker! 

I think part of my problem has been that I was pushing myself too much and it sucked all the fun out of everything.  I think I’d rather enjoy the books I’m reading than “get them done”.   Okay… back to finish Tainted now :-)

Something Beyond Greatness by Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

SBG coverTitle:  Something Beyond Greatness:  Conversations With a Man of Science and a Woman of God

Authors:  Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

Paperback:  122 pages

ISBN:  9780757307812

Pull up a chair and prepare to be inspired as the Something Beyond Greatness TLC Book Tour pulls in for a stop In the Shadow of Mt. TBR :-)

First off, I have to say that when I first read about this book, I was expecting something different.  I had understood it to be a book of tales of heroism in the face of danger, stories of people who stood up for what’s right without thought for the consequences, stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi and everyday people.  While it did have a few stories in it, it was more a book about the recipe for such people.

[Great acts have] three elements: (1)seeing with love, (2) acting from the heart, and (3) the mystery of destiny -right place, right time. -page 20

At first, I didn’t think this book was much.  At times it was difficult for me to retain what was being said, which may have to do with the fact it’s been hot and I had walked to the library in the heat to read it there.  But the crazy thing about it is that the info pops out and says boo! now as I’m watching the news, movies, or reading.  There’s this little voice in the back of my mind that analyzes events I encounter through what I’ve read.  AND the whole time reading it, every heroic act I’ve seen or heard or done popped up for application or proof of what I was reading.

The person who will step into greatness must see the others with love, compassion, and concern.  He or she will have a sense of “mine” towards them.  Then he or she must be able to sense or see the way through to help.  Third, this person must have the will to step out and do it.  Usually, this will is recalled by the person afterwards as more of a compulsion, “I just did what anyone else would do.”

Every human being writes a small page in history; every human being -irrespective of how big or how small- writes a small page.  That is real human history. -page 19

My first impulse was to give this book three stars, but after watching it ooze and stew and bubble, I’m thinking it’s much more effective than I first thought and I’m going to give Something Beyond Greatnessby Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine 4 out of 5 stars.

Additional resources for this book are:

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And now, because I think this book is very much a worthwhile read… and, because I somehow got a second book :-)We’re gonna have  a giveaway for a new copy!

This giveaway will be open until 11:59 pm, Saturday July 4th, 2009 with the winner to be announced on next week’s Sunday Salon post (July 5th).  Contest is open worldwide :-D , as long as you’ve got an address for me to slap on the packaging, you’re welcome to enter!

  1. To enter, leave a comment here letting me know you’d like to win a copy.  This will count as your official entry.
  2. Each day this coming week I will be posting something pertaining to the book, one day will be about stories you’ve heard that inspired you, inspirational movies, acts of greatness you yourself have done or witnessed, etc.  When you comment on the daily posts, you’ll earn a bonus entry!
  3. Post this contest on your blog and leave the link here for an extra entry
  4. Tweet about it, make sure to use @koolaidmom so it’ll show up on my TweetDeck, or leave the link of your update, for an aditional bonus entry.
  5. If you do all the above, commenting everyday, blogging it and tweeting, that’ll be 8 entries and I’ll add 2 more as a bonus, giving you 10 chances to win :-) (This post is technically a Monday post for June 29th)

Good Luck!

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Title:  A Wrinkle In Time

Author:  Madeleine L’Engle

Paperback:  247 pages

Publisher:  Square Fish

Publish Date:  2007

ISBN:  9780312367541

Miscellaneous:  Originally published in 1962 (after 26 rejection letters, I might add), A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in The Wrinkle in Time Quintet book series.

Meg’s eyes ached from the strain of looking and seeing nothing.  Then, above the clouds which encircled the mountain, she seemed to see a shadow, a faint think of darkness so far off that she was scarcely sure she was really seeing it…  It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow.  It was not even as tangible as a cloud.  Was it cast by something?  Or was it a Thing in itself?

The sky darkened.  The gold left the light and they were surrounded by blue, blue deepening until where there had been nothing but the evening sky there was now a faint pulse of star, and then another and another and another.  There were more stars than Meg had ever seen before.

“The atmosphere is so thin here,” Mrs Whatsit said as though in answer to her unasked question, “that it does not obscure your vision as it would at home.  Now look.  Look straight ahead.”

Meg looked.  The dark shadow was still there.  It had not lessened or dispersed with the coming of night.  And where the shadow was the stars were not visible.

What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?

-A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle, pages 81-82

I have started reading and put down without finishing A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle three or more times in my life.  It is one of those few books that I have felt like I’m suppose to read it, or that I should read it, but have never been able to finish.  I have long felt like I couldn’t let the book beat me, even going so far as to watch the movie in hopes of encouraging myself.  And now, I can finally say that, after first picking it up nearly 25 years ago in fifth grade, I have read A Wrinkle in Time.

I’ve always said that I didn’t know why I couldn’t get into this book, and this time around I figured out what it is that grates my nerves about it.  MEG.  Meg is whiny, and mopey, and self-deprecating.  She’s horrid, to be quite honest, and every time she spoke I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out.  “Wah Wah Wah… nobody likes me.  I’m dumb.  I’m ugly.  Blah, blah, blah.”  BUT, she does change, thank GAWD!  In fact, as the book neared it’s end, her attitude and behaviour is explained.

“I’m sorry… I wanted you to do it all for me.  I wanted everything to be all easy and simple….  So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault… because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself” -page 220

Beginning with a groaner of a first line, “It was a dark and stormy night…”  A Wrinkle in Timespins a tale that crosses the universe and even dimensions.  Young Charles Wallace is different from other people, he understands the world around him in a unique way.  He is very protective of his sister Meg, whom he sees as needing him.  Meg is a sulky teen girl going through an ugly duckling phase, who prefers math and science to anything having to do with the world of words.  The two of them plus Calvin, a local sports hero and relates to the world around him in a similar way to Charles Wallace, travel across the universe by tessering, something akin to a wormhole.  They are on a mission to save Charles and Meg’s father from IT, the controlling entity on Camazotz, a planet which has submitted to the darkness.  To accomplish this task, they will all learn much about themselves, their talents and faults, and ultimately about love, the only force capable of conquering evil.

I really wish I had stuck with this story when I first started it.  I think I would have truly appreciated it had I pushed through the first fourth of the book.  As it is, I still enjoyed it, and want to read A Wind in the Door, the next book in the Quintet.  I was surprised by L’Engle’s Christian references.  If people are shocked and wish to challenge Narnian books on the basis of their religious overtones, then these same folk would have apoplectic fits when reading actual passages from the Bible in A Wrinkle in Time.

The fact that the book is so overtly Christian, though Buddha and Gandhi are also given credit as “lights” in the fight against the darkness, is even more stimulating when you take into consideration that the story takes Einstein’s theories about time and gravity as inspiration AND makes a further bold step (mind, this book was FIRST published in 1962, before civil rights and ERA) by making the hero and saviour a female.  The story itself is interesting, if not a bit simple, but the context surrounding it and the complex science it incorporates make A Wrinkle in Time an impressive book and a literary classic.

A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle incorporates science and religion in a harmonious way and said that guys aren’t the only heroes, is math and science just for men.  For all that the story is and what the book represents, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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The following video is a clear and concise mathematical explanation of a tesseract. It incorporates lines from the book, as well.

Oww… OW! My brain hurts!!!

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Title: The World Without Us
Author: Alan Weisman
Paperback: 369 pages
Publisher: Picador (division of St. Martin’s Press)
Publish Date: August 2008
ISBN: 9780312427900

… picture a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.

Unlikely perhaps, but for the sake of argument, not impossible. Say a Homo sapiens-specific virus – natural or diabolically nano-engineered – picks us off but leaves everything else intact. Or some misanthropic evil wizard somehow targets that unique 3.9 percent of DNA that makes us human beings and not chimpanzees, or perfects a way to sterilize our sperm. Or say that Jesus… or space aliens rapture us away, either to our heavenly glory or to a zoo somewhere across the galaxy.

Look around you, at today’s world. Your house, your city. The surrounding land, the pavement underneath, and the soil hidden below that. Leave it all in place, but extract the human beings. Wipe us out, and see what’s left. How would the rest of nature respond if it were suddenly relieved of the relentless pressures we heap on it and our fellow organisms? How soon would, or could, the climate return to where it was before we fired up all our engines?

How long would it take to recover lost ground and restore Eden to the way it must have gleamed and smelled the day before Adam, or Homo habilis, appeared? Could nature ever obliterate all our traces? How would it undo our monumental cities and public works, and reduce our myriad plastics and toxic synthetics back to benign, basic elements? Or are some so unnatural that they’re indestructible?

…Since we’re imagining, why not also dream of a way for nature to prosper that doesn’t depend on our demise? We are, after all, mammals ourselves. Every life-form adds to this vast pageant. With our passing, might some lost contribution of ours leave the planet a bit more impoverished?Is it possible that, instead of heaving a huge biological sigh of relief, the world without us would miss us?

 

-The World Without Usby Alan Weisman, pages 5-6

 

This is the premise for The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.  Weisman puts the question “What if ?” to the reader, then thoroughly, intelligently and scientifically systematically answers the question:  How long and by what process would it take for nature to reclaim the world if humans were to suddenly disappear?

In many ways, animals and plants would thrive and take off.  Several places in the world have been negatively impacted greatly because of what man has done, Chernobyl, Johnson Island, and a large number of coral reefs to name a few.  However, to say that the world would go back to pre-human conditions without us is naive and a romantic fantasy.

Without human mechanics and equipment operators, our 141 nuclear reactors would meltdown, spreading radioactive waste on clouds that would spread globally, as well as leech into the soil and ground water, eventually finding their way to lakes, rivers and oceans.  Also in need of these human beings care and service are the vast number of petroleum refineries, which would also suffer catastrophic failure in our absence and spread heavy metal and carcinogenic particle laden smoke along trade winds, reaching ground in other parts of the world in the rainfall.  No, the world without us would NOT be a better, cleaner Edenic place.

It is unmistakeable that mankind has forever irrevocably altered the Earth.  We have introduced gender-bending chemicals, which show no signs of EVER degrading,  into water sources.  The plastics that we produce for our disposable convenience only break down into smaller and smaller particles that are then eaten by birds and fish, many of which later suffer agonizing deaths from constipation as the pieces do not digest.  And in case there was a slight chance nothing of us would last, we’ll throw in the uranium and plutonium, both “depleted” and “weapons grade,” some of which have a half-life longer than the estimated time of the demise of our solar system!

The World Without Usby Alan Weisman is a sobering book.  I had to take a step or two back and look at what I, myself, do that contributes to the destruction of our ecosystem.  When Weisman talks about how some of those tiny pieces of plastic ending up in the oceans come from some of the body washes and other beauty care products, I ran to my shower to check the label of my shower gel (I was happy to find no plastic beads, only natural exfolients).   Second, I’ve always looked at “recycling” as some hippy-dippy commune-escaped concept and haven’t ever really done it (I looked at that toter as just an extra trash can).  After reading what the effects of my plastic water bottle and plastic bag usages does to the world, I know I have to change at least MY little contribution.

One poignant thought from this book is:  The Earth is like a super-organism, the soil, atmosphere and oceans its circulatory system regulated by its resident flora and fauna.  As such, this living planet may be suffering a high fever with humans the virus.  A sobering thought.

As a scientifically and intelligible answer to a simple question with an extremely complex answer, I give The World Without Us by Alan Weisman 5 out of 5 stars.  I recommend everyone with a stake in the Earth’s future to read it.

hated it!didn't like itit was okayliked itLoved it!

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers – Factoid #5

Alright… no bugs, parasites or cannibalism today… Today’s factoid is something straight out of science fiction.

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Can a head live without a body?

In 1988, the U.S. government granted a patent for a device that would keep a severed head alive after being surgically removed from the body. The device has never been used, so it is uncertain how effective it would be. However, the creator of the device has been contacted by a number of people who want to know how soon the operation will be available and how much it will cost. Some of these people are dying or paralyzed, and many of them say that they would welcome the operation, if it meant that their minds would remain clear and they could still think, see, read, remember, talk, and listen.

The proposed procedure would involve attaching the decapitated head to a device essentially consisting of a series of plastic tubes. These tubes would be connected to the bottom of the head and neck and would provide oxygen and fluids, as well as maintaining blood circulation, to keep the head alive.

In 1973, an American brain surgeon called Dr. Robert White carried out the world’s first head transplant, using two monkeys. He decapitated both animals and successfully managed to stitch the head of one monkey onto the body of the other. The “hybrid” monkey regained consciousness, opened its eyes, and tried to bite a surgeon who put a finger in its mouth. It also ate, and it could follow people around the room with its eyes. However, the monkey was paralyzed from the neck down because its spinal cord had been severed, and it was impossible for the surgeons to reconnect the numerous nerves necessary for it to regain any bodily movement. The monkey survived for about seven days after the transplant.

White claimed that this surgery could benefit parapalegics, who may die as a result of the long-term medical complications that often accompany extensice paralysis. He believed that if these people were to receive new bodies, donated by patiens who were brain dead but otherwise physically healthy, it would give them a new chance of life, even though they would remain parapalegic.

There are some really strange video out there that demonstrate the mind-bending ability the brain has to survive. One video shows a dog’s head revived and responding to stimulus. The monkey vid’s on out there, as well, but the one I saw on YouTube had one of those “scream scenes” in it so be careful.

When I read this segment, my mind immediately went to Sarah Jessica Parker’s head on the body of her character’s pet chihauhau in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (great movie if you haven’t seen it)

This post is part of the Boogers and Book Bucks Giveaway. Don’t forget to enter at the original post for your official entry. Comments here count as a bonus entry :-D

Does A Christian Have a Brain?

I’ve just read an interesting Sunday Salon post from Death by Novel. In it, he talks about the fascinating feature on LibraryThing known as the “unsuggester”, an algorithm that determines which books you would least like based on your library.

As I had never heard of this feature, I had to run right over and check out what my least likely to like books are.

Here is a random list of 10 books LT thinks I won’t like:

The number one book I will hate with a passion: Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar by William D. Mounce
You know, I could say this book would be Greek to me, but I might get boo-ed off the net for bad jokes. But the truths it I would definately have to agree with this one. The closest I want to know about biblical Greek grammar is my Strong’s Concordance.

Second on the list is The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper. Considering I have no intention of becoming a preacher, I’ll agree with LT on this. The thing that bothers me, though. is when I clicked ‘why?” it list several of my 1001 books, as well as The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Godfather (okay, I’ll give it to them on the last one). Is the Unsuggester suggesting if I have a brain and read thought provoking books, I couldn’t possible want to be a preacher? This puzzles me…

The third of my would-be most-hated books is The New ‘Mayflower’ by Alan Villiers. Given the fact it’s only owned by one other LTer (who gave it 2 stars, I might add), and the tags suggest it is a book for avid sailors, I’d say this one should be on most people’s unsuggested list.

The fourth dead fish in my net is Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. I ACTUALLY HAD THIS ONE! and I gave it away on BookMooch… I had barely cracked the binding! It was like a technical manual (“like reading stereo instructions!” as Beetlejuice might say).

The fifth ill-fated fare is The Bible History Old Testament In Two Volumes, Complete and Unabridged by Alfred Edersheim. Okay, now I like history and I like biblial history… but the “Two Volumes, Complete and Unabridged” part says “Library dungeon geek” to me.

The sixth stinker is The Ramabai Reader: Selections from “The High Caste Hindu Woman”, “Testimony”, Letters, “Stree Dharma Neeti” and Other Hindu Women by Pandita Ramabai Saraswati. The title’s so long it doesn’t even fit on the book page. I don’t know why it says I won’t like this, I have The Namesake, and I’m going to get Interpreter of Maladies next week at Waldenbooks (I made this book and Dreams of My Father a promise I’d be back to save them from the cold, lonely shelf). Is LT telling me I wouldn’t like Indian Women’s Lit?

The seventh awful offering is Brothers, we are not professionals : a plea to pastors for radical ministry by John Piper. A second book I should never read from John Piper. Again, I have no interest in the pastoral arts.

The eighth rotten egg is Who Made God? : And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith by Ravi Zacharias. Actually, this one sounds interesting. I think I’ll rebel on this one and mooch it.

The Ninth nixer is Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism by Herman Cappelen…… HUH?????… Is this random words strung together? or does this title actually make sense?

And to round things off, number ten to turn away is The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die by John Piper. Hey, haven’t I seen his name before?

Now, I haven’t put all my books in LibraryThing library. All of my Christian books are in the shelf next to me, but I’ve just never gotten around to them. Some of them are from college (I have a Bachelor’s in Christian Ministry, are you surprised?) Four years of reading text books and non-fiction, and all the years before when I only read classics, have now given me a serious thirst for contemporary fiction. But is LibraryThing’s unsuggesting algorithm saying I can’t be a Christian AND have a brain? Hmmm….

I’ll just leave you with my number eleven “don’t ever read this, you’ll hate it” unsuggestion: The Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman. What reason does it give? Because I have Christian books! I’ve got The Purpose Driven Life, Purpose Driven Church, Purpose Driven Youth, Darwin’s Black Box, The Darwin Conspiracy. I’ve got Bentley Little, Harlan Coben, and conservative books like Black Rednecks and White Liberals. BUT wait, LT Al! I also have Stardust and Neverwhere, both by Gaiman. I also have several Palahniuk’s, Steven King’s and Mieville’s.

Am I schizophrenic? or is the Unsuggester the Anti-Christ?

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