Things this book made me think about: - whether caring about others makes us the best we can be (I think so, but it seems impossible to be selfless!) -Things this book made me think about: - whether caring about others makes us the best we can be (I think so, but it seems impossible to be selfless!) - whether my anger is caused by me or by the things that bother me (It's nice to let go of anger if you can!) - whether there is too much of a good thing and why someone would prefer small doses of pleasure over large doses (I get the idea, but life is short and a full day of happiness is better than a minute) - yoga (some people make such a big deal out of it. I'm like, "Good for you! You held a difficult pose!") - reincarnation (nope)
It was an interesting read. Regular, already open-minded husband-father-writer-upstanding-member-of-society agrees to drive across country with his hippy-dippy sister to take care of their parents' estate. Aforementioned hippy-dippy sister pulls a switcheroo when he arrives to pick her up and tells him he is taking a yoga master/holy man in her place. Yoga master/holy man acts strangely and imparts esoteric wisdom throughout the trip. It's honestly just what I expected, except the narrator was more open from the start than I expected and wasn't 100% changed at the end. Also, he threw in a bunch of unnecessary restaurant reviews. ...more
I'm only in the early stages of this book, reading the Kindle version. So far I am really grateful this book exists because it has made me think aboutI'm only in the early stages of this book, reading the Kindle version. So far I am really grateful this book exists because it has made me think about some to-do items that hadn't crossed my mind. The idea of huge life change is terrifying enough without the fear and confusion of making dumb mistakes in the process like forgetting to cancel an account or agreeing to work overtime when you should be packing. I bought this book hoping for information about visas, moving timelines and cost ranges, and tips on how not to blow up your Xbox and laptop while using a foreign power supply. So far this book has given me a few very useful worksheets on planning. We'll see about the rest. The downside of using the Kindle version is you can't fill out the charts. You can create a note but not in chart form. Too bad!
I wasn't really concerned about culture shock last week when I downloaded this, but now I think it IS a big deal and am glad the author goes into depth about it. She is an expert on the subject and admits to having hated her first 3 years in London (where she lives now) because she was mentally treating her new home as temporary. It is a little disturbing that one chapter deals with the "panic phase," but I think I will panic a little less with an expert's advice and the knowledge that I'm not the only one who panics when faced with large-scale change.
Update: three years later. I have been living in Germany for two years and I did blow up the converter I bought for the Xbox AND the Chinese-made European power block. Then I got a German power block and it worked. I never finished reading the book but can give some tips of my own...
- If moving pets, you need to get paperwork for them from the FDA. It's expensive to fly with dogs and cats and frustrating to deal with the US govt to get them out of the country, but there is no quarantine and nobody in Germany at the airport asking to see the paperwork again on that side with a big red "Nein" stamp if you got something wrong. - If you are nostalgic, bring as much as you can. - Bring someone who speaks the language to your appointments at the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners office) to get your Aufenthaltstitel (residency permit). For some reason, the kids working the Subway counter speak English but the officials working with foreigners do not. - Speaking of Subway, they use Gouda and Cheddar cheeses instead of Provalone or American and there is no ice in the drink machine. - It's harder than I thought to get a bank account in Germany. Took me 7 months, and the bank sent a request for direct deposit to my American employer (in German, so my employer had to ask me what they were looking at). - I got a temporary health insurance to cover the gap before getting married and added to my husband's insurance, but that was a risk because once you take a "private" insurance, you are not eligible for "public insurance" again ever. Somehow, I got added, though. - Taxes! So hard! Basically, you owe taxes to the country you are in while you work. If you telecommute to the US, the US takes $ from your paycheck and you get it back at the end of the year. And you will owe the govt of the country you live in. But in my case, the German govt has taken over a year to review our first jointly filed taxes. And the IRS doesn't let you file electronically if you are married to someone without an SSN or TIN. - To marry in Germany, you need to speak German enough to answer questions like "Seid ihr Geschwister?" (Are you related?) or hire a Dolmetscher (live translator). You also need all your personal documents translated by an official translator into German. - Some US states' drivers licenses can be exchanged for a German Führerschein with a minimal fee. Otherwise, licenses are very expensive. - However, to release yourself as a resident of your former US state, you have to return your license. The Dept. of Motor Vehicles will then not know what to do with it and continue to remind you to renew. - Your library card stops working when you finally do sever your ties with your old state. No more online borrowing. Get a Kindle or see if you can use your university's library. German public libraries are not free and not with it if you read English books. - iPhone app stores are different depending on the country now. To buy or even download free apps from the German App Store, you need a German Visa. I finally got one and I still can't switch stores. This unfortunately means no more awesome public transportation app to tell me which trains and buses to take! Amazon and EBay also have differences which I haven't totally figured out... I can use my American login but get different currencies on different devices. And apparently you can't have a household Kindle account with one American account and one German account on it....more
The back cover made me think this book is about the power of love and how if you are motivated by love, your actions will pay off and your life will bThe back cover made me think this book is about the power of love and how if you are motivated by love, your actions will pay off and your life will be better. Then I started reading the inside and the part about how the author first heard about Jesus when he was 15 and some Young Life group leader hung out with him. I'm not sure I can keep going with this book because it reads like a folksy stump speech/bill of goods/religious sales pitch: Aww shucks, I was once upon a time a dumb teenager but then I met Jesus and he sounded like a cool guy! I call bullshit on anyone who says they got to high school without hearing about Jesus.
However, I may keep reading because I liked another early part comparing life to whether you go to Tom Sawyer Island in Disneyland or not. If you are most people, you plan to do it next time, but then you may never get around to doing it. ...more
I had to return the audiobook to the library before I got finished, but I'll comment on it anyway! I knew going into this read that the book involvesI had to return the audiobook to the library before I got finished, but I'll comment on it anyway! I knew going into this read that the book involves a road trip and some philosophy. I did not know that the author had multiple personalities, which made it way more interesting!
Pirsig calls his story a chatauqua, which is fitting because those are usually talks given by people impersonating historical figures. In this case, Pirsig is getting into the ideas and personality of the crazy genius who used to inhabit his body.
The ideas he expresses are mostly about the difference between classical and romantic thought. Classical minds are good at mechanics; romantic minds are less into rational things and more interested in feelings and art. He becomes hung up on the meaning of "quality" and decides that it is undefinable but essentially "what you like." ...more
I thought I had an understanding of what it meant to be autistic after reading Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation," but I guess either she doesnI thought I had an understanding of what it meant to be autistic after reading Temple Grandin's "Animals in Translation," but I guess either she doesn't scream, groan and hit people inappropriately, or she left those things out of her book. In "The Curious Incident," the 15-year-old narrator struggles with things like human touch, wetting himself, the colors yellow and brown, foods touching each other, seeing four yellow cars in a row, etc. His parents also struggle with having a son who is like this, and the parents at times can't handle it. One of the things that I love about books like this is that people can be so upset with each other, but you understand why each does what they do. For example, this narrator explains that he can't understand metaphors or colloquialisms, so if someone answers his questions with one that doesn't really count and he has to ask again. I'd be frustrated and depressed if I had to live with someone who didn't understand what I said or the expressions on my face, too, and suspect that a lot of parents of special needs kids react in ways similar to the parents in this book. Your options are: 1) be caring and understanding, 2) pawn the child off on someone else to take care of, 3) lash out in anger. ...more
I didn't finish this, although I tried mightily. The basic idea Sam Harris sets forth here is that morality is universal and that the morality of actiI didn't finish this, although I tried mightily. The basic idea Sam Harris sets forth here is that morality is universal and that the morality of actions can be measured by how they affect the well-being of sentient creatures. He acknowledges that different actions or lifestyles can be equally moral (he calls them "peaks and valleys in the moral landscape") but he says society has gotten too lenient on foreign cultures and letting people get away with immoral behavior because "it's part of their tradition" or whatever. Americans don't get off that easily, either... He gets into how rotten Christianity can be towards the end of the book, according to my book club friends who got that far.
Although I agree with most of what he says, I gave this one two stars for two reasons. First, he has a habit of saying "x can be proved, but I can't prove it right here" a lot. Also, this thing reads like a philosophy text book. I know the author is a neurosurgeon and very smart, but I felt that his brainiac writing style alienates the average reader....more
I'm not sure if I can finish this book. I picked it up because it's got a clever title and I was wondering what advice a funny married couple might diI'm not sure if I can finish this book. I picked it up because it's got a clever title and I was wondering what advice a funny married couple might dish out about marriage. Obviously, they get the tone of mine with their title. But a few chapters into it, I'm feeling like I would not hit it off with this Jewish Hollywood couple. I find their self-deprecating remarks a little fake. It seems obvious to me that Annablle is a diva and Jeff wants her no matter how much crap she puts him through. In one breath, they'll tell you how CRAZY they can be, and in the next they are talking about how successful they are (She was in a Seinfeld episode! He produces and writes TV shows! John Cusack crashed at his house!)
When they started talking about kinky sex involving a lobster claw-shaped oven mitt, I unfortunately looked at the authors' photo on the dust jacket. I don't like to imagine these two having sex, as I do not find either of them attractive.
So I am slogging through half-heartedly because it's either this or essays about science on my bedside table and my brain would rather go with the junk food book just before bed. ...more
So... I checked this out of the library and only had time to get through a few of the essays. What seemed to be said in more than one (and an idea I'vSo... I checked this out of the library and only had time to get through a few of the essays. What seemed to be said in more than one (and an idea I've been coming across in different places) is that we as humans are going to have to change our way of thinking about humanity. Given that cloning, gene manipulation, and part-human/part-animal and part-human/part-machine combos are happening now, we should probably start loosening up on our definition of humanity and expand our ethics to include animals and humans that don't quite fit the 100% "human" definition, whether that means they've had hip replacement surgery or microchips embedded in their brains or an ear that was grown on the back of a mouse in a lab. After mulling this idea for a few months, I watched "Bicentennial Man" (Robin Williams plays a robot with human motivations and creativity) and thought about it some more....more
There's a goat on the cover for a good reason. The subject, fake doctor J.R. Brinkley, made a fortune by performing, among other things, goat testicleThere's a goat on the cover for a good reason. The subject, fake doctor J.R. Brinkley, made a fortune by performing, among other things, goat testicle transplants to humans. This was widely known in the 20's, and it's hard to believe the American collective brain has forgotten him so quickly. This man was one of the richest and most famous people in the country. He owned the most powerful radio station in the world and introduced listeners to the Carter family. He almost won the governorship of Kansas. And his downfall was also hugely embarrassing. After years of heavy criticism and scrutiny from the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Brinkley sued for libel (bad move!) and was proved to be a quack. He had to admit that he didn't hook up the nerves, but just cut a hole in the man's scrotum and threw the goat balls in and sewed it up. He also had to admit that one of his bottled remedies was nothing but water with a little blue dye. And when he claimed that nobody ever died in his hospital under his care, well, a sheaf of death certificates said otherwise. But since people are idiots, they continued to support Brinkley because he was charming and offered them TESTIMONIALS!
I read this on the heels of "Thunderstruck," and noticed that the two go together nicely. "Thunderstruck" takes place at the turn of the century and also discusses patent medicines and a doctor under the world's magnifying glass, only that doctor had murdered his wife, not a patient....more
The day I returned "Fast Food Nation" to the library (sadly unfinished, but I WOULD have finished if I weren't such a slow reader!) I was flipping thrThe day I returned "Fast Food Nation" to the library (sadly unfinished, but I WOULD have finished if I weren't such a slow reader!) I was flipping through "Stuff White People Like" and discovered that all white people have read "Fast Food Nation." So that explains why so many of us support farmer's markets. I thought it was because we had all read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." My bad!
Reading this, I expected it to be more like "Supersize Me" and talk mostly about how bad the food is. But no, it was more about how giant corporations make it so you can't compete with their prices and also how they screw the American workforce by not paying enough and encouraging worker turnover every 3 or 4 months so they can get more federal funds for training marginal populations. It makes me depressed because the government can fix this problem but it doesn't.
I became more observant of the businesses around me after reading this... Was cheering when I saw a stretch of independent stores, but it was a very small stretch of road before everything was dominated by the same signs I see everywhere else. Makes me want to become more involved in politics....more
A.J. Jacobs has one of the best jobs in the world. An editor at Esquire magazine, the man writes and edits essays on pop culture and social experimentA.J. Jacobs has one of the best jobs in the world. An editor at Esquire magazine, the man writes and edits essays on pop culture and social experiments. This book is a collection of articles (with follow-up notes) written over the course of a year for Esquire. He spends about a month on each, trying out various approaches to life. These approaches include living in accordance with George Washington's code of conduct (don't touch your genitals in front of people), outsourcing his life to India (apparently worth it), doing whatever his wife says (she did not get tired of it, to his disappointment), being radically honest (not easy, but showed him how his relationships could take more honesty than he thought), being a hot chick (answering emails from his nanny's suitors on a dating site), being a celebrity (impersonating the "Shine" guy at an awards ceremony in realizing how differently he was treated), being photographed nude (makes you feel powerless) and unitasking (because multitasking is really just the result of not being able to focus). The author sounds like a really friendly midwestern guy who constantly has a smile on his face. He also comes across as a horndog, since he admits his attraction to just about every woman he mentions in the book. The radical honesty piece was my favorite. When I think of radical honesty, I have exactly the same problems with it that the author brings up. How would my spouse and boss react? What about friends who ask for my opinion of their sucky art?...more
"The Power of Small," written by two advertising executives, used a lot of business anecdotes to convey the idea that little details can make or break"The Power of Small," written by two advertising executives, used a lot of business anecdotes to convey the idea that little details can make or break you.
I found the part about niche marketing to be pretty inspiring because it talked about people who basically came up with a cool idea and made some money by starting small businesses doing the things they love (i.e. making greeting cards featuring Stella the dog or creating a line of decorations for Crocs).
The parts that pissed me off involved people who got ahead in business based on little tiny interactions with their superiors. One Navy officer got a commendation from an admiral just because the lost man he helped in the hall turned out to be the admiral. What about giving commendations to people for years of devoted work instead? I hate it when suck-ups get rewarded more than the hard workers! Another guy gets noticed by the head of his department by asking her what "schlep" means. I guess if he hadn't asked that, she would have brushed him off while he went and did his job invisibly. The message I'm getting here is that being HARD-WORKING is not rewarded as much as being REMEMBERED. If I found out my boss was rewarding suck-ups over good workers, I'd have a fit.
In this book, sucking up is sugar-coated into something that you have to do to get ahead. They are probably right but it still seems wrong, wrong, wrong.
God, I hate networking. I need to go wash off my nose now.