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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I ran across an interesting literacy statistic the other day. “The average American annually spends 10 times more on what he puts on his head than what he puts into his head.”

Here are some other interesting thoughts.

* If you read just one book a month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world.

* If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world's foremost leading authorities on that subject.

* If you read just 15 minutes -- every day for one year -- you can complete 20 books.

It doesn’t sound like it is hard to be well read. Of course 15 minutes with Superman comic books is probably not what the creator of those comments had in mind. Reading isn't expensive either. you can read great writing for free and even some not so great more resent works for practically nothing.

Yes, the internet is one source. I like the Project Gutenberg site. It was the first producer of free electronic books and they have over 25,000 free books. They are classics that are beyond copyright protection so you can get anything from Plato to Shakespeare. Yes, that’s fiction and non-fiction. They even have books in over fifty different languages if you are so incline to read something in Gamilaraay or in Swedish.

There is your local library. It may seem old fashion but, it is still nice to have a warm dry place to go with friendly knowledgeable people around to help you find a great read and actually sit quietly and leave the now behind for a while! How "novel" is that? I always enjoyed sitting in a comfy chair in a quiet corner of the library to read feeling almost decadent with the luxury of it all.

There are lots of media to use too. I’m just old fashioned enough to still prefer a book. But I have adjusted to reading on screen. Hard to write notes in the margins though. LOL

It is a marvel of our times that through public education we have so many writers and writing opportunity. Yes, a lot is junk. I remember a line from a Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which the crew travels back in time to San Francisco of the 1990s, Cpt. Kirk describes the era to Spock as a time known for it’s trashy novels and cheap architecture. He names a few writers known for their sex scenes and overly simplified plots ( I think he mentions Danielle Steele). We also have far easier access to good writers and good writing on any subject – fiction or not – you could possibly want.

Is it really so difficult to read fifteen minutes once a day? How about reading to your kids before they go to bed? The parental responsibility to enhance children’s potential is so easy to do this way and reaps so many benefits just by sharing a little time reading. I loved reading Uncle Remus and all those Brer Rabbit tales to my kids.

Friday, November 07, 2008


What does it say about me that I so love the idea of living in a 2600+ square foot house on two and a half acres that is surrounded by pastures and eight miles from the nearest place of commerce? It is just a place to live after all. But I feel it says the right things about me. Its hard to explain this without sounding materialistic. Maybe its best to say that I am not into the acquisition of material objects for the sake of ownership or show my success in life. If it is a tool or device that helps me achieve a desired outcome or improve the quality of a task I’ve set for myself, then I get it. So why such a grand house in such a remote place?

I was looking for an old home with character that spoke of a different time. A time when craftsmanship was more common and things where built to last a few generations. This is a desire from my childhood. My summers where spent at my Grand-parents farms. They where nice simple farm houses with working barns and outbuildings on 100 or less acres. But, everything I found that fit that bill was either in too great a need of repair or attached to a 100+ acres of land that needed to be a productive enterprise. I’ve gotten to the age where I can’t renovate in a big way nor can I run a full time farming operation (although a smaller operation is always in my head).

When I first saw this house for sale I thought it was too much for me financially and too aloof for my personality. By that I mean, I am not the lord of the manor type. But, the environment was just what I and Emily were looking for. Open pasture land yet mature stately trees, set off the road a good ways, but not a dusty dirt road into the back woods. So we asked to be shown the house. To our surprise it has all we want inside which is a tall order. It is big but open with viewing of the front to the back from a central point in the house, lots of windows, a sunroom with climate control (so it can be used in those really cold days – I’m sensitive to cold), a tub with a picture window that looks out on the back yard (yes, no neighbors) and a shower, a large garage with storage room (not a closet with no windows), a front porch overlooking the meadow, a presentable deck for gathering of semi-large groups and an out building with power. There are many things Emily could add (like a large walk-in closet with a full size window) but for me these things all provide a means to accomplish goals and desires I have for myself in my “autumn” years. I am happy we found so many elements in one place.

It is 40 miles from where I work, but that seems – for the moment – the only draw back and will not be an issue at when I retire, say in ten years or less.

So back to my original question. I guess it says I am a man with a lot of good fortune. Not only to have found the place of his dreams, but to have traveled the world and experienced many cultures so he knew what he want when he found it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Is Here - Hopefully The Uglyness Will Stop

In the office today, I heard someone complaining about the amount of money spent during this General Election by the two presidential canadates. “A Billion” was mentioned and how much more could we have done with that money if we spent it on more meaningful endeavors. My first thought was, “nothing, its private money.” At least for Obama it was. McCain did opt out for public funding, but then he is a champion of campaign reform. But really, we can wish the world behaved as we think is proper and morally correct, but isn’t that a bit dictatorial? I mean, why not say all the hundreds of millions (probably billions if you include all the minute events and their true cost) of sporting events could be better spent on this or that? I am more offended by how the campaigns are carried out. North Alabama is replacing retiring Congressman Bud Cramer. The TV ad are hateful and slanderous with no meaningful content about the abilities of the canadates or the need of their districts. It doesn’t help that the two canadates who are running have run against Bud Cramer for the last decade and never chosen to replace him.

We talk about violence on TV and yet we allow despicable behavior in campaign ads because “its politics”. Children hear this kind of rhetoric over and over and file it away as acceptable behavior.
In any case, I’m glad election day is hear and I hope the candidates – both winners and losers get their supports to remove those ugly signs stuck everywhere.