Pacific Mexico

Focusing right now on pages 364-474, since I’m going to Zihuatanejo next month. I can see this book getting a lot of future use as well.
***
Putting the book down now, post-Mexico. The Zihua section was not particularly good. Short on information and maps.
As for my own trip, stayed at Hotel Catalina in Playa de la Ropa in Zihua for a week. Hiked to Playa Manzanillo for snorkelling (also accessible by $40 boat ride) a couple of times, and took a boat to Isla Ixtapa for snorkeling on Playa Carey (VERY recommended). Sunset from the bar at Brisas Ixtapa one night, but that was the extent of Ixtapa for me. The rest was pure Zihua, some time spent in El Centro, walking along the beach from Playa Madera to the center of town, 2 pajaros verdes (parrots) lurking in the window of a bar along the walk. Walked the opposite direction to Playa Las Gatas for more snorkeling, beer and fish tacos. Car not necessary or very useful, although it did take me on an extended dirt road tour to Barra di Potosi, where I was the only one on the beach. Zihua a gorgeous bay, it would have been great to discover it years ago before the jetskis and parasailing invaded. Hay muchos americanos tambien. Es la vida.

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The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Max was born old and gets younger as he lives his life. Set in San Francisco, the writing is tolerable, but the storyline starts to grate on me. I probably should have finished this one before starting Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which was so bright and shiny that Max Tivoli seems dullish in comparison.
The last 50 pages were good– not a bad story overall.

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Blink

Just finished the hottest book on the market. Check out the envy I generated!
The always interesting Malcolm G. does it again with another book chock full of learning and ideas. The hype surrounding the book did somewhat dampen my enjoyment of it, but it was a positive experience (and quick read).
Intro chapter goes into the Getty/fake kouros incident from the mid-80s, when the Getty museum did all sorts of scientific and legal research on a statue they were buying for $10M. Logical thought said yes, this statue is real. However, art experts reacted differently to the statue, with intuition. In the blink of an eye, we can make snap judgements that are more valid than extended study decisions.
Second chapter goes into the idea of “thin slicing” reality– by looking at a thin slice of time, you can make judgements about quality of people’s relationships, teaching ability, etc.
Other notables from the book– the rogue commander in the Pentagon’s War Games exercise who didn’t go by the rules and thus sunk 18 of the Red Team’s ships before any shots were fired by the Red Team. After 2 days of sulking, the Red Team stripped the Blue Team of any power and played a scripted game which they won hands down, and then promptly invaded Iraq.
Also, Amadou Diallo in NYC, who made the mistake of standing on his stoop one night in 1999. Cops thought that seemed suspicious, and split second decisions led them to shoot him 41 times. They thought he had a gun, but he was only reaching for his wallet. Scary.
Cook County Hospital’s heart attack detection elements– less information allows you to make quicker decisions.

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Getting Things Done

Types of things to keep track of:
* projects list
* project support material
* calendar actions/info
* list of “next actions”
* list of “waiting for”
* reference material
* list of “someday/maybe”
Steps to get things under control:
1. Gather all out of place stuff into an inbox
2. Sift through, taking one item at a time. If you can take care of the item in 2 minutes, do it. If not, decide what the next action is & put in pending/delegate/trash.
*****
Now that I’m finished, I feel well prepped to tackle my own piles of mess. And I’ll try to read 43Folders more often (a site that sprung up out of love of Getting Things Done)

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I Capture the Castle

Awesome first sentence caused me to purchase this book from the green section of the rainbow-organized books at Adobe bookstore in SF.
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea-cosy.”
In the midst of reading it now, and have to keep reminding myself that it’s set in the 1930s. It seems to reach back much further in time than the 20th century.
Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmations.
*****
I finished this one last night; it was a whale of a tale, a gem, a fantastic book. Not sure why I’m stuck in catchphrase land, but can’t think of anything original to say to describe.
Two sisters, Cassandra (the narrator), and her older sis Rose, get mixed up in a love tangle with the new American landlords of Scoatney- Simon & Neil Cotton. The Mortmain family is barely eking by on a 50 year old lease of the castle that the Cottons inherit, the father wrote one famous book then crapped out. Cassandra tells the story to us through journal entries. Good stuff.
The only complaint I had was in the edition I was reading, at the very end when I was basking in the glow of a completed story, I happened to glance at the page after the end, which was filled with inane “study questions”, like “This was published in 1948. What do you think people’s reactions were then?” and “What does the title mean?” and “Why does Cassandra tell us the story through her journal?” The dispassionate questions brought me back to junior high school days when we actually had to answer those types.

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Earth

Blah. It was a real struggle to get through this, and I confess to major skimming after page 150. I’ve read books that deal with the subject of geology that are presented in an interesting manner– this was not. Fortey attempted to lighten his tone by interjecting personal stories along the way, like his mule Buttercup, who took him to the Grand Canyon floor. Yawn.

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The Light of Day

Tom Peters recommended. I had a tad bit of trouble getting into it, but now am swept up in this dizzying dazzling story. George, the private investigator, falls for Sarah, a cheated on wife who has him follow Bob & Kristina to the airport to ensure only she got on a airplane and report back how the farewell went. Sarah kills Bob later that night. Interwoven stories, zipping back and forth in time. Helen is George’s daughter, Rachel his ex-wife who left after he was branded a crooked cop. The first spying he did on his dad, having an affair with Carol Freeman (mom of a girl he had a crush on).

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit 1: Be Proactive: Principles of Personal Vision
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Principles of Personal Leadership
Habit 3: Put First things First: Principles of Personal Management
Habit 4: Think Win/Win: Principles of Interpersonal Leadership
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Principles of Empathic Communication
Habit 6: Synergize: Principles of Creative Cooperation
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

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The Pacific

Great writing…
Reprint of excerpt from first story is here.
Every story I read is better than the next. Il colore Ritrovato was great, and it keeps spiralling upward. Just finished Perfection, where a 13 year old Hasidic Jew teaches Mickey Mantle about baseball/God. Also a great story about the rich post-IPO guy whose wife leaves him to contemplate his awesome Hamptons house alone b/c he can’t handle her chaos. He sits outside watching the sun move across the horizon, reading, and smells smoke; turns to find it is his house burning, so he just flips his chair around to watch his house burn. Also a story about WWII parachuter behind enemy lines who crashes into a building yet survives to call in enemy positions. Also a story about a contractor and his crew who renevate a widow’s new apartment for free once they realize her husband died in the WTC on 9/11.

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My Life

Reminder to get Clinton’s reading list for his travels through Europe/USSR.
Great– Just returned the library book without getting Clinton’s bibliography for his European travels during Oxford years. Must work on that.
Regardless, this was an interesting book– it took 500 pages to get him into the White House, and those were the best pages in my mind. I admit to skimming the final 500 pages of policy decisions, Rabin, Helmut, Yeltsin, Gingrich, etc. etc. Also I admit to stopping and reading the personal elements of those years like the family deaths, Chelsea’s graduation, and the Monica Lewinsky details. But the first 500 pages were gold– info on his childhood, high school years, Georgetown, Oxford, Yale, and early Arkansas years when he was trying to change the world and getting ousted after his first term as governor b/c of it. Then he stormed back and won the next governor’s election. It sounds like the biggest mistake of his first presidental term was not having a team of seasoned Washington insiders who could deal with the press, etc. Plus the pressure of having a New Right Congress led by Newt Gingrich (coincidentally, Newt was a Congressman from my district in GA, he divorced my highschool geometry teacher while she was in the hospital recovering from CANCER. He later divorced his second wife after he was discovered having an affair with another much younger woman. And I just saw him get off a JFK-SFO flight, so I’m feeling particularly bad about him).
At points, I felt like the book was swaying me against Clinton. I have admired his policies from afar, but the book almost felt like he was spinning things in my face. But I still feel he’s an intelligent, driven man, with his heart in the right place.

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The Gay Place

Three separate novels make up this fantastic look into 1950s Texas politics and life in Austin. Written by a LBJ staffer. The characters of Arthur Fenstemaker, governor, his aide Jay McGown, and leftist Kermit appear in all 3 stories.
Book 1: The Flea Circus
Roy Sherwood is the recipient of Governor Fenstemaker’s maneuverings in this story, as the governor needs state senate help to get a bill passed. Roy is having an affair with Ouida, who is married to another state legislator. The gang goes to bars drinking pitchers of beer, and then spills out to Ouida’s country house where her husband jumps from a plane in an act of derring-do.
Book 2: Room Enough to Caper
Junior senator Neil Christiansen returns home to think about announcing his first campaign for the position (he was appointed by the governor after the senator’s death). Governor’s machinations of his opponent (shouting match at a fundraiser where opponent questions Neil’s brother’s leftist tendancies which left him dead in a South American revolutionary town) push Neil into declaring his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, tries halfheartedly to rediscover his marriage & 2 daughters while sleeping with the bookstore clerk (his brother John Tom left behind a bookstore which Neil still runs). Eventually wins re-election, but hollow victory as Andrea (his wife) is nowhere to be found by phone. Ends as he climbs onto a fountain in front of the DC capitol.
Book 3: Country Pleasures
The governor and Jay become the main focus of this story, along with Jay’s ex wife actress Vicki McGown. The governor’s party drives out to the set of a film that Vicki is working on, causing tensions between Jay & Sarah (Jay’s girlfriend & governor’s secretary) as Vicki attempts to lure Jay back home. Their daughter, Victoria Anne, shows up and Jay immediately begins planning how he can take custody of her. Vicki takes the governor, Jay, and Hoot Gibson (the chauffeur) off on a joyride to visit an old Mexican village, where the governor drunkenly signs over Texas back to the Mexicans. A nighttime walk instigated by actor Greg Calhoun to hunt jackrabbits ends with Jay/Vicki/daughter walking home and getting lost, while Greg & Sarah make out in the desert. Party at the governor’s house interrupted by the call to announce anti-segregation march at the capitol. Jay goes back to the capitol, awaits the governor to no avail. Eventually goes back to the country house where he finds the governor’s body in a bed drenched with Vicki’s perfume. Sarah cowers in a nearby bedroom in a panic.

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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Book 1: Francie, the 11 year old girl, on life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before it got hip. Life in poverty, wrangling a week’s worth of food from stale bread and bones with meat clinging to it. A drunk father whose on-again off-again job as a singer/waiter didn’t do much to pay the bills. Collecting junk to sell on Saturdays and clinging to the precious pennies, half for the bank, half to be spent on treats. A mother who cleans 3 apartment buildings. Francie the avid reader, going to the library every day, working her way through the authors alphabetically, reading a book a day. On Saturdays, breaking from this, and asking the librarian for a recommendation. The unfriendly librarian doesn’t know she is being worshipped by Francie, and continues to recommend the same 2 books over and over.
Books 2-4
I meant to catch up with this after each book, but travel got in the way.
I love this book! Fabulous fabulous! I can’t believe I read this in 6th grade- I wonder what I got from it then? It is such a great book I think I will give it as Xmas gifts to everyone I know.

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All Over Creation

I love Ozeki. She knows how to weave disparate threads into a unified story. Environmentalist “Seeds” group descends upon Liberty Falls, Idaho, to protest the genetically engineered seeds that don’t allow themselves to propogate. Yumi descends upon Liberty Falls again to tend her dying father, for the first time since running away post-abortion at age 15. Cassie, Yumi’s best friend from ages ago, trying to have kids but sterile from fertilizers in the soil. Yumi lives in Pahoa, Hawaii on the Big Island. She brings her 3 kids: Phoenix, Ocean, and the baby. Her history teacher, Eliot Rhoades, who got her preggers at age 15, returns as a PR man. Recommended, naturally.

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