Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Reading Club - Homestretch

This is part of Mark Lee's Summer Reading Club.

    (1) The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch: Good book to read if you want to face the reality that the wages of sin is death. Makes you want to squeeze every ounce of goodness out of this life. The fact that Randy died earlier this week was what prompted me to pick this back up and finish it.

    (2) The Freedom Manifesto, by Tom Hodgkinson: This dude is trying to resurrect the beatnik generation by rebelling against everything. A few good ideas about eschewing wealth and living a happy life. From my perspective, I didn't take it too literally...more as a satire. To each his own.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Reading Club - Weeks 4 & 5

This is part of The Prophet, Dr. Mark Lee's Summer Reading Club.

    (1) Everlost, by Neal Shusterman: Dark tale of a freak accident that causes two teens to not quite make it to where they were supposed to go in the afterlife. Quick, fun read with some interesting concepts (skinjacking, Afterlights, dead spots) about what happens after you die. The concepts could easily be turned into some cool special effects for a short film or made-for-TV movie. Worth a read for something summery.

    (2) Strength for Life, by Shawn Phillips: Fundamentals for anyone wanting better health. PERIOD. This commonsense approach to understanding the need to build muscle in order to continually burn fat has changed how I exercise and eat. The first step is a two week process of resetting your body by doing very basic exercises and clearing all of the junk out of your diet. The real deal is a 12 week (just in time for a 20th year high school reunion) program of weight training with high intensity targeted cardio. Combine the the workouts with knowledge on how to eat AND in what order to eat your carbs, protein, fruits, and veggies for the maximum energy, and you've got yourself required reading for anyone who has failed at dieting programs. I've always had problems losing that last bit of fat on top of my abs, but with this change in lifestyle (not a diet) and exercise program, it's melting away.

    (3) The Frog Who Wanted to See the Sea, by Guy Billout: Yeah...I know it's a kids book, but I read it to my five year old son who is into frogs, turtles, any anything reptilian and he loved it. For anyone who has ever wanted to travel or move and once you finally got there, longed to be back home...only to want to go back after you were satisfied that home would always be there for you.

WEEK ONE UPDATE: Off to a great start but fell into old habit of reading several books at one time which means my list will EXPLODE here in a few weeks, but remain the same for a while until my book snowball gains momentum.

WEEK TWO UPDATE: Look to finish two books this week since my wife has a girls' night out.

WEEK THREE UPDATE: Got wrapped up in reading The Pawn and The Last Lecture. Decided to put them aside to read Everlost on a tip from Mark Lee for a quick read.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

'95 Civic Demand

Just read an article about the '95 Honda Civic being the most stolen car in America and has been in the Top 10 for Most Stolen four years in a row.

That news is not so great now that mine is no longer taking a spot in my garage. I recently bought a 2003 Honda Accord Coupe from a friend and have relegated my '95 Civic to the end of the driveway. I'm hoping that the interest in this year and model will help me to sell mine faster without having it become another statistic in a news story.

My Civic has few things going against it: 240,000 miles, no dashboard lights, CD player doesn't work, paint is faded on the roof, and there are a few spots on the lower doors that are starting to show rust.

But the one ace-in-the-hole: It's a Honda. It's probably got another 250,000 miles in it, and has never needed anything other than tune-ups, oil changes, and tires.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reverse Food Chain

We awoke this morning to tears and anger. My five year-old son’s largest anole had died. The tears were for the anole. The anger was for the crickets who consummated their delicious revenge by eating the anole’s eyes out of their sockets. Rigid and weighing a fourth of his original self, I took him from the position of his last breath and walked him to the trash. The trash seems like such a low place to rest for a loved pet, but mistakes made are never repeated when it comes to pets and death.

My seven year-old daughter’s fish died a couple months ago. I decided to “plant” the fish in the garden. Having a “Green” wife and myself with Cherokee blood, this seemed like the most eco-friendly course of disposal. The thought of Cinderella, the Chinese Fighting Fish, pushing up a green pepper plant felt like a fitting end to a life trapped behind plexigas. Unfortunately, during a replanting of my garden due to torrential floods, my daughter found her once-buried fish. The mourning process is rather tedious (for an adult) the second time around. I’m thinking about how Lazarus’s family felt upon his second death and burial. Did they say, “Okay, Jesus is not around. I think it's safe."? or “I hope this is the last time we have to bury this guy.”?

One smaller anole remains. My son has been pining for a fire belly toad, so he’s not pulling very hard for the little lizard to survive much longer in a cage with a couple dozen crickets licking their chops. One lesson I hope he’s learned is that you need to keep those lower on the food chain happy (or fed) if you want them to respect you when you’re all dried up.