mahogany: (Default)
Maybe this is another case where I've been living under a rock, and everyone has already read this except for me. I just finished reading The Lost City of Z by David Grann. Wow!

The book flips between between the author's trek into the Amazon to unravel the fate of explorer Percy Fawcett in present day, and the early 1900s to reconstruct Fawcett's quests to chart the Amazon and find El Dorado, or as he called it, the Lost City of Z.

This book is one of those rare books that has instantly altered a part of my worldview. I will think of history and of the Amazon in a completely new light after reading this book.

Get it. Read it. You'll be glad.
mahogany: (Default)
Yes, they're that good.

They are a series of math books called "The Life of Fred" by Stanley Schmidt. Kids need to have a good solid understanding of adding, subtracting, multiplication and division before using the books. Once they understand those, then they can start with the first one, which is Fractions.

http://www.stanleyschmidt.com/FredGauss/index2.html
mahogany: (Default)
Stick Up For Yourself is a book by Gershen Kauffman for helping kids develop assertiveness, personal power, and general emotional IQ. It's awesome, highly non-cheesy, and practical. I wish I had read a book like this when I was younger.
mahogany: (Coretta)
I recently finished reading Peter Singer's The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. It's a book that I think most people should read. Whether or not people agree with the author's conclusions, the most consistent most common purchasing decision we make, is in what we eat. I am a bit cynical about democracy, and whether I really have a say, but I do know that when enough people vote with their dollars, changes come about.

The only problem is that after reading the book, I feel like I can't eat anything. I'm feeling overwhelmed. I basically want to throw my hands up in the air in frustration, and buy whatever the hell strikes my fancy.

I'm not going to do this, of course, but damn it's tempting. Then, there are the endless conversations with my other half. He doesn't really buy into this. I wouldn't go so far as to say he thinks it's complete bullshit, but he certainly doesn't have any interest in paying more to shop ethically. He just wants what he wants, and he wants it as cheaply as possible, and he doesn't like to think of the suffering (human or animal) that must happen in order for him to get cheap stuff. I don't think this way of thinking makes him a bad person. I think if he were to read some of the same literature that I have read, he might feel as I do. But, he hasn't read it, and he won't read it because it's not up his alley. In the end, he humours me, so I really I can't complain.

Basically I'm trying to do two things: show my support for things that uphold my values, and show my non-support for things that do not. Sometimes, this means going without something that I want because I can't find an ethically produced version (this is what really causes discussions between dh and I).

Really, what's so bad about going without something? Why is this such a foreign concept? I can't even fault dh because I often feel disappointed and deprived (even though I'm anything but), when I can't have exactly what I want. Do all adults behave like spoiled brats, or is it just us?

This whole trying to pull up my socks thing - it ain't easy, but I think we're making progress.



Book rant

Mar. 3rd, 2008 03:06 pm
mahogany: (Default)
When did crap become associated with fun, in our society? We were at the library on the weekend, and unbeknowst to me, my dh selected a couple of books for the kids and added them to the pile. These are books with no merit - literary or otherwise. I spoke to my kids about these books when I found out, and said that they could read them this time, but we would not be taking out more of the same. To which my son, and later dh said, "Well, it's okay to have fun, sometimes." In my opinion, this is the most bogus, most ridiculous argument ever. We're talking about children that love reading. My kids derive immense pleasure from books, and I reminded them of this, and they agreed, and they dropped the subject. My dh on the other hand persisted, so I asked him, "Why is it necessary to introduce books that are the equivalent of CocaCola for the brain into our home? Our children love reading good books. What exactly is the point in introducing books that aren't going to nourish their minds?" He didn't really have an answer.

The thing is, that I don't believe that my dh is unique in this. There seems to be a societal belief that in order for something to be fun, it should be frivolous or silly, or bad for our health, or reckless etc. Where did this belief come from? It's so messed up, and yet, I see it everywhere.
mahogany: (Default)
I picked up the Count of Monte Cristo from the library a few days ago. Not because I had a burning desire to read it, but because it seemed to me that everyone in the world had read it except for me.

Wow! Has it ever sucked me in. Every day for the last four days, I've woken up bleary eyed because I've stayed awake reading too long.

It's exactly up my alley. Pure entertainment. As to whether it has any literary merit, I have no clue, but dang is it ever compelling.
mahogany: (Default)
I tend to be somewhat of a bah humbug about Halloween, but in the spirit of being a good sport, a grabbed a book that looked decent from the library with the intention of reading it to the kids. It's entitled The Dark Thirty - Southern Tales of the Supernatural, by Patricia McKissack. It's a collection of stories inspired by African American history ranging from the times of slavery and the civil rights era, all the way through to the twenty first century. It's a great collection, but it's definitely something that you'll want to screen before reading to your children. Some of those stories have me wanting to keep a nightlight on at night :-).

Here is a poem from the collection. It's the only poem (the rest are short stories), and it's not spooky, but it's one of my favorites none-the-less:

We Organized


You ask how we all got free 'fore
President Lincoln signed the paper?
Write this what i tell you.

I, Ajax,
Massa's driver . . .
I, Ajax.
Master of the whip . . . Got power!
Hear it crack! Hear it pop!
Can pluck a rose off its stem,
Never once disturbing a petal.
I can snap a moth in two
while it's still on the wing,
Pick a fly off a mule's ear
And never ruffle a hair.
One day Massa say,
"Ajax, see that hornets' nest over there?
Snatch it off that tree."
I say, "Naw sir. Not that i can't do it.
But some things just ain' wise to do."
Massa ask,
"Why not?"
I come back with,
"Them hornets be trouble.
They organized."

Tried to warn ol'Massa,
But he never once listen.
He a poor man..marry money.
Money prove him a fool. A mean fool.

Massa turned out Pappy Sims;
Say he too old to pick cotton
No more use.

Be careful, Massa!
Beat Lilly Mae;
Say she too lazy to breathe.
Have mercy, Massa!
Sell Sally 'way from her husband, Lee;
See her no more.
Watch out, Massa!
Slap cook --
No reason, just wanted to and did!
Then Massa bring trouble to his own front door.
He make a promise to free Corbella, the Congo Woman.
We not do it.
Big mistake, Massa.

Just wouldn't heed a warning.
So when the lilacs bloomed,
Massa be missing a button off his coat . . . never mind.
Huh!

Deep in the night,
Hear the music, long refrain.
Dancing, chanting,
Digging a grave with words . . .
Old words . . .
Powerful words.
We pin massa's black button to a straw doll.
Hang it in a sycamore tree.
Spinning, clapping,
Calling the names of the ancestors . . .
Old names . . .
Powerful names
Three days dancing in the dark.
Three days chanting till dawn.

Way in the night Massa hear the music in his head.
He hear the whispered words
In a long refrain . . . and he come screaming.
"Lawd! Lawd!"
But it's too late.
Come harvest-time Massa be low sick.
Near 'bout wasted away.
All the mean gone out of him.

Massa call all us to him
He free the Congo Woman
He free everybody -- glad to be rid of us!
Wrote out the free papers, right now!

Then he turn to me.
He say,
"Ajax, git gone!"
He didn't have to say it again.

Now, you ask me how we all got free
'Fore Massa Lincoln sign the paper?
Take heed.
Like them hornets, we organized!



By, Patricia McKissack, from her collection The Dark Thirty
mahogany: (Coretta)
I borrowed The Pirate Princess and other Fairy Tales for no better reason than the fact that I liked artwork and the title. What a great book. It’s a retelling of three parables and four fairy tales, by 17th century Hasidic scholar Rabbi Nahman.

I enjoyed the stories as much as my kids (possibly more - I’m just a big kid deep down...). The tales aren’t neat and tidy like most fairy tales, nor are the morals heavy handed or obvious. There’s a quality to them that reminds me of Jon Muth’s childrens stories, or to a lesser degree, the fairy tales of E.E. Cummings , but I can’t quite put finger on why they seem similar. Definitely worth borrowing; definitely worth purchasing.

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