Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reiki for Dummies by Nina L Paul, PhD

Reiki for Dummies by Nina L Paul PhD (and Reiki Master) is as well written and thought out as any of the other Dummies books. Everything is included—the history of Reiki, the lineage of how Reiki came to America, the various schools, how Reiki is used on the self, others, and even animals. Along with a lot of resources and suggestions, this is an excellent resource.

Paul also includes the various symbols which are traditionally taught during attunement. Although she does warn the reader to skip the section if they want to learn the symbols when they are attuned, the Dummies editors have included the symbols on the convenient cheat sheet that all Dummies books seem to have which makes her warning rather pointless unless the reader manages to avoid the pull out cheat sheet altogether. (Not likely, obviously.)

I would have rather she not include them at all and allow the student to be given these as a gift, a part of the attunement process. One of the early Reiki Masters, Hawao Takata, actually made her students learn the symbols by rote and would not allow them to be shared. This gave the symbols a sort of sacredness not intended by Mikao Usui. However, I do feel that the symbols should be kept secret and I am disappointed that there are books that give these symbols away so haphazardly. Still, the symbols themselves have no real power so it is not on par with profaning their purpose but it is not unusual for Asian traditions to not teach certain truths until the student has reached thresholds in their learning and by now honoring this I can’t help but feel that Reiki is further removed from its Asian roots.

I also wonder, does the author's being a PhD somehow legitimize Reiki? Probably for some readers. I obviously didn't need the author to have a degree to justify Reiki. I already know how powerful it can be.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Don't Nobody Bring Me . . .

Starbucks closing 600 U.S. stores Associated Press 3:38 PM CDT, July 1, 2008 Starbucks Corp. announced Tuesday that it's closing 600 underperforming stores in the United States. The Seattle-based premium coffee company also announced Tuesday it expects to open fewer than 200 new company-operated stores in the United States in fiscal 2009. The company says it will try to place workers from closed stores in remaining Starbucks.
Today Marc found out that his store is one of the 600 to be closed. He does not yet know if he will be one of the workers that the company will try to place in one of the remaining stores. I'm sure he will be high on the list to be relocated. He's worked for them for so long--they can't really afford to just lose him after all this time. Today I read an interesting article in Fit Yoga. I'll write more about it this weekend, when I've had time to think about it some more. I'm just too overwhelmed with puppy responsibilities and housework and life to sit down and write much of anything at the moment.

Aries Horoscope for week of July 10, 2008

"The only way to get a difficult feeling to go away is simply to love yourself for it," says author Christiane Northrup. "If you think you're stupid, then love yourself for feeling that way. It's a paradox, but it works. To heal, you must . . . shine the light of compassion on any areas within you that you feel are unacceptable." While I personally believe this is a crafty strategy, I suggest adding a twist in order to double its effectiveness: As you're loving yourself for your difficult feeling, literally laugh out loud at how crazily worried and wound up you are about it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Mammoth Book of Sex Diaries edited by Maxim Jakubowski

The Mammoth Book of Sex Diaries edited by Maxim Jakubowski is a collection of blogs, online journals, which focus on sex and relationships. Running the gamut from newlyweds to people who work in the sex industry, the blogs offer a spectrum of themes, kinks, and experiences. The quality of the writing also runs the gamut from compelling to mediocre.

Jakubowski makes an effort to offer the reader a variety of the best of online blog writing. I found very few of the writers to be very good, frankly. Only a few merit publication and most are what one would expect of blogs—narcissistic navel gazing attempts at interesting insights that often fall short of anything beyond the banal. The editor’s personal kinks are implicit in how many of these blogs feature some sort of sadism and domination.

I wanted so very much to enjoy what I was reading but I found reading this book tedious. It took me months because I would become annoyed with the quality of writing and editing. I did find a few of the blogs interesting and wanted to read more but when I looked for the journals online they were gone. Given the nature of the internet and how websites come and go, this was not surprising. But it fueled the frustration I felt in reading this collection.

And the truth is, the entries made me feel old as my jaw occasionally dropped in shock, as I shook my head in dismay, and wondered about the wellbeing of some of these writers. The young women revel in calling themselves sluts and whores and write lovingly about the men who call them these names. I understand the nature of these labels in S/M or D/s relationships but in a relationship where a man and a woman are monogamous and the girl says that her beloved slapped her or called her a name and that it is okay because that doesn’t always happen, I wanted to throw the book across the room in fury.

But mostly I wanted to slap the writers. I wanted to slap the ones who call themselves nymphomaniacs without actually being diagnosed psychologically with the disorder. I wanted to slap the writers who toss the term “fetish” around without recognizing that there is a difference between a fetish and a predilection. And I especially wanted to slap around the writers who never once mentioned using protection and proudly proclaimed how many partners they had the night before and the gallons of cum they . . .

Well, you get the idea. And finally I find myself once again wanting to slap around the editors. I imagine that the editors wanted to maintain the vagaries or writing styles they found in the blogs. This is no excuse to not clean up grammatical errors. You cannot tell me that there were no typos or misspellings found in the blogs which were cleaned up so how could the following misplaced punctuation be allowed?

I insisted that “never” was too strong a word, but he firmly insisted right back, “you NEVER played for me!” And I guess if that’s what it feels like to him looking back on it, then that’s “truth”. (501)
And this was not the only exampled. I could not tell if the editor simply didn’t know where punctuations like periods and commas belong when there are quotation marks. I initially thought it was the blog writers but after seeing this issue sprinkled throughout the entire “mammoth” anthology, I realized that the bloggers could not be completely blamed. If there is any editing at all, even a single misspelling or typo, then it only makes sense to also clean up the more blatant punctuation errors.

In the end, the best of these blogs is not as good as a well written piece of erotica. One would assume blogs draw on real life and real life rarely has a cohesive narrative or well-written story arch. A short story or erotic novel written to titillate is more fulfilling than the real experience of a person who is wanting to share their experience because too often the poetic details of all five senses are lost. The blog writers are not trying to create literature. They are writing to entertain an audience, a very narrow and, by implication, not very discerning audience.

It is unfortunate that Jakubowski took the time to gather these mostly no longer existing blogs into a single volume. After all, today’s reader can just as easily google and find blogs at least as good, if not better, than most of the ones collected here. In fact, someone who really must follow along with someone’s blog would probably be better served collecting their own list of blogs to follow. That way they could a) find writers whose style appeals to them, b) find blogs that are still in existence, and c) find blogs which share experiences that align with the reader’s personal kinks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Boy Named Shel by Lisa Rogak

A Boy Named Shel, by Lisa Rogak, is the biography of Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends. My first exposure to Silverstein was Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back.

This biography is both satisfying and frustrating. Silverstein’s maverick lifestyle promises a treasure trove of glorious stories but his manic need for privacy leaves little available information. I imagine that Rogak was either delighted or frustrated, trying to unravel the mysteries of his life, occasionally finding a gem of information, but more often hitting insurmountable walls of secrecy and discretion.

For those readers unaware that Silverstein worked for Playboy magazine, there may be some shocking surprises. For those hoping to hear salacious tales of Silverstein’s sexual exploits while at the mansion, there will be disappointment. But that elevates this biography from being exploitative and the reader gets a sense of the author’s respect for her subject’s need for privacy. Nevertheless, the famous names that are mentioned are enough to keep those star gazers content. After all, Silverstein worked for Hugh Hefner, wrote songs for Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn, and worked on films with Dustin Hoffman and David Mamet.

Ultimately, Silverstein comes off as eccentric. A renaissance man in the true sense of the word, the intensity of his personality comes through on the page even if the details of his life will never be fully known.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Don't Send a Resume by Jeffrey J Fox

Don’t Send a Resume and Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job by Jeffrey J Fox has some excellent advice, nothing really surprising. I mean, if you don’t already know most of the information he suggests then you haven’t been paying attention to the vagaries of job searches. All the usual pieces of advice are here: network, send thank you notes, research the company before the interview, think of the interview as a sales pitch, etc.

The few suggestions that came as a surprise to me were ones that were completely useless, the type of suggestions that would likely help a sales professional or manager succeed but really are not useful for administrative positions. And frankly, if you are looking for a sales or management position and don’t already know those things that did come as surprise to me then, again, you haven’t been paying attention to the changing job market.

The essays are very short and if you want to make sure you are playing the game by newer rules then the few minutes it will take to read this book are worth the effort. Just to be on the safe side.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Puppy of the Day: A

Note: There will be a brief haitus from the Puppy of the Day posts until puppies start opening their puppy eyes. I mean, taking pictures is fun and all but this blog has become rather canine-centric and it is time for me to branch out again. (In other words, I have a few books to be reviewed.)

Introducing Puppy A!!!

Puppy A is actually the first puppy to be born. He is the puppy that started it all.

A looks more like Romanov than almost any other puppy, other than G. (I'll have to take a side by side pic of them.)

He is a loner. Most of the time when I see him sleeping, he is by himself and not snuggling close to any of his siblings.

He is a sweetie. Maybe not a snuggler but I can already tell he has a mild temper. Of course, I may be mistaken and I can only say this based on how he behaves now. Wouldn't it be ironic if one of the more mellow ones was the first to escape the box?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Puppy of the Day: B

With no preliminary, I am introducing our tip the scale puppy: B.

You see, B is a girl so even if A is a boy (and I already know the answer to this particular question but I am waiting to make the official announcement tomorrow), there are more girls than boys in this litter.

B is a lot like Romanov in personality. Quieter than most fot he puppies, she tends to keep to herself more than the others. Not in the sense that she doesn't snuggle close to her siblings but I think most of the time it is a matter of their coming close to her rather than the other way around.

Still, when I began to take her picture, she started to stir, searching for something to eat and as soon as I nestled her into my hand she stopped, curled into herself a bit and fell asleep. I was loathe to wake her up and return her to her litter. But I did.