Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fit to be tried: Reiki treatment - Diet & Fitness, Health -

Fit to be tried: Reiki treatment - Diet & Fitness, Health -

"Tammi O'Flynn, a therapist at the newly revamped Dublin Holistic Centre, swears reiki (pronounced ray-key) treatment helps with many ailments including high blood pressure, insomnia, spiritual lows and lack of energy."

This woman's article about her first Reiki treatment is honest and even humorous. I simply had to share it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Randomness

On an email list where I lurk only, someone shared a link to this man's artwork.  He recently died but his sketches are remarkable, especially in light of the fact that some are done using a Bic pen.  Also remarkable is that this man filled a sketchbook a week.  A week!  Wrap your mind around that for a few minutes.

This young man is making a film and blogging about it.  How often do you get to read a new artist's work in progress?  Plus, he lives near NYC which means I get to read about my home town.  And I really need to make sure I tell my son about this site.  Joe, are you paying attention?

This artist not only shares her own artwork but gives some neat tips and tricks on how to do things with photoshop (like how to blur the background when taking a photo of someone's cosplay) and creating an accordion style book.  Just look at the posts, and go back to older posts, and enjoy.

I am not suggesting anyone download any of these pdf's but I simply had to share this odd page I found.  Don't ask me how I found it because I honestly can't tell you how I stumbled into it but stumble I did and . . . this is just peculiar.

The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy ed by Gregory Bassham and Jerry L Walls

The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview edited by Gregory Bassham and Jerry L Walls is the sixth or seventh book in the Pop Culture and Philosophy series.  I was pretty excited about this volume in the series because I had so enjoyed the one on The Lord of the Rings and was lukewarm about the Star Wars one that I figured I would get back to really liking this series of books.

I thought wrong.  This addition to the series reads more like a collection of Christian philosophy essays than it does a collection of “worldview” essays, as the title suggests.  There is only one essay in the book I particularly enjoyed let alone found insightful: Karin Fry’s “No Longer a Friend of Narnia: Gender in Narnia.”

Perhaps it was foolish of me to expect a book inspired by a clearly Christian series would manage to explore the themes of the books without addressing Christian beliefs.  However, some of the essays overflow with proselytizing rhetoric rather than ecumenical insight.  For instance, one writer actually asks the question: “Could the idea of a necessary being like God derive from the secularist’s contingent universe?” (202) An interesting question, indeed, but notice it assumes that a “being like God” is necessary.  The fact is there are many people who do not believe that a being like God is necessary and, in fact, contend that such a belief is holding back the intellectual (and possibly even the spiritual) evolution of humanity.

I recognize, of course, that the Narnia books are infused with Christian dogma and expected many of the essays to focus on a fundamental assumption that the Bible is true, theology is open to discussion but dogma is not, etc.  However, after reading several other books in the series and finding them all to be well-rounded, offering a variety of interpretations through the perspective of varying schools of philosophy, I trusted the editors of this volume to at least attempt a less narrow focus on Lewis’ classic series.  That was my mistake and if the above example were the only one where beliefs were held to be fact rather than faith then I would be forced to nod in appreciation.  Unfortunately that is not the only example I could have cited.

There are a lot of books in this series and I hope that the reader who is put off by the preachiness in this one doesn’t forego reading some of the other volumes in the series.  However, I shall probably avoid all of the books in this series that are inspired on clearly religious pop culture sources.  Apparently the editors, even when they promise a worldview, can’t live up to my expectations and since I only enjoyed one of the twenty-two essays, I think it's safe to say I didn't really like this book.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Jeff Guidry is a memoir about a man, an eagle, and survival.  Meant to be an inspiring look at life and how relationships can be nurtured, Guidry shares his story of working as a volunteer with the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center with an emphasis on the eagle the center rescued.

In many ways, Guidry writes an impersonal memoir.  So much of his story is left to the reader’s imagination.  What he does for a living outside of his volunteer work is never clearly mentioned (although he makes allusions to a past-career as a musician) nor are we told how he met his significant other.  His relationship with his parents seems close but we never hear about his childhood or any of the things that might define him as an adult.

In fact, the book is full of allusions.  Guidry especially mentions the myths and legends of indigenous tribes but because he never actually shares any of these stories the reader is left to take him at his word.  I think this is an unfortunate choice on his part.  The animal myths would have added a depth to the memoir and infused the rescue mission with a relevance above and beyond the mere fact that animal life is precious.

Another failure on the book’s part is more subjective.  When I chose to read this book I was eager to learn more about eagles–their history, their nature, how they live, breed, behave, etc.  I had read other animal related memoirs and learned a great deal about specific species and humanity’s impact on survival of the natural territory, etc.  Although these things are mentioned or merely alluded to, Guidry never takes the time to fully explore these things alluding to the population crisis the bald eagle faced due to the use of DDT (which is now banned in the United States and elsewhere).

I almost wish Guidry had co-authored this book with an eagle expert or perhaps a great story-teller who could have offered the reader more content rather than the constant allusions.  I also wish that his editor had removed some of the redundancies.  Rather than sounding like chattiness or conversational, the reiterations quickly become tedious.  Or perhaps it is because the book itself is a quick and easy read.

Having said all this, I can’t really complain about the memoir.  It’s good.  Even good enough.  It’s not great.  It clearly could have been better.  But it is a nice story and even inspired.  It simply fell flat for me.

PS: I did not mention in the above review my dislike for Guidry’s need make everything have meaning.  Nothing is mere circumstance to him and everything he experiences is immediately made into something metaphysical.  And just in case you might have missed the metaphor’s meaning, he explains it to you.  I don’t know if everything has to have meaning.  Some experiences are merely coincidence.  In fact, there are people who argue that it is all coincidence and merely a human need for relevance that drives us to give happenstance more meaning.  After reading this memoir, I can see why some people are so cynical.  Lovely though transcendent moments may be, their meaning is often so subjective it is best to keep them personal.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weird Bordering on Creepy

The other day, I posted about a poster that one can see in the show Arrested Development which happens to also be hanging up in our home.  Well, as we continued to watch the first season, I noticed a box in one of the scenes and I hit pause.  "Rob, isn't that my box?  You know, the one I keep the cards in?"  He looked and sure enough . . . he agreed.  So this blurry image I took of the television shows, if you look very carefully and beyond the blurriness, a box on the top shelf.  The box is pink and has flowers on it and the lid is a light purple color (which you may not be able to tell from the piss poor quality of this picture) and I swear I have the same box.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is a quirky novel which takes place in an alternate reality where it is England in the mid '80s, Winston Churchill is unknown (having probably died in his youth), the Crimean war is still being fought, and fans of Francis Bacon walk from door-to-door trying to convert people into accpeting that Shakespeare never wrote those plays really.

This novel aspires to be nothing more than frivolous fun, a summer beach read quickly enjoyed and, once finished, set aside.  And yet, it is also a literati's erotica, full of allusions to the classics.  You know you're in for a fun ride from the start when an epigraph written by Millon de Floss is quoted.  (Get it?  Mill on the  Floss!)

Further, this novel doesn't fit any mold that I can possibly summarize.  Quirky is the only word that seems to cover it all and yet says too little.  You have time travel (sci-fi) and novels one can literally (no pun intended) enter (fantasy) plus a love interest with a complication (romance) all focused on Thursday Next, a Special Operative (thriller) and . . . you quickly see how this one book simply doesn't fit the norm.  Where does one even look for this in a bookstore?  I hope in the literature section because it would be a farce to try to shelve it anywhere else.

The book is quirky but not laugh out loud funny so it fell a little short for me.  Not short enough for me to not want to read on.  After all, I didn't especially guffaw as I read some of the early Discworld books.  I have a feeling that Fforde may have needed to hit his comic stride and I would be surprised if following volumes in the Thursday Next series don't prove to be all the more outrageous and utterly hilarious.  (The author also has a series of "nursery crime" novels and there's a children's book soon to be released as well.)

My daughter-in-law recommended this book to me because she enjoyed them so much.  I'm glad she did.  And I'll probably read the second one sooner rather than later.

Note:  There are currently five published books in the series with a sixth to be published soon.  I'm tempted to wait until the last of the books is published but I'm already doing that with the Wheel of Time books and I only have so much patience.

PS Note:  The last WoT book will be released late 2011 so you can expect me to be rereading the first few books, reading the later books in the series, and reviewing them all beginning in 2012.  Yay!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What is Reiki?

What is Reiki?:

"One of the special features of reiki is that both practitioner and client receive the benefits of the treatment, which make’s it very efficient. Reiki works on every level."

In spite of some grammar and other issues, not a bad article.

Employees First, Customers Second:  Turning Conventional Mangement Upside Down by Vineet Nayar is yet another management book that promises to revive a company or at least revitalize a company that is struggling.  Even a company that is doing well but marginally well, can do better, or so the author claims.

It's hard to argue with his seeming success within his own company and he shares some of the insights he learned along the way.  Although HCL Technologies was doing well when Nayar took over he saw that there was room for improvement and a clear opportunity for growth.  Beginning by looking closely at what was working and what wasn't, he began a campaign of change that allowed the company to meet and even exceed projected expectations.

Nayar draws on a variety of inspirations upon which to justify his recommendations.  When he encourages more transparency it isn't necessarily because he knows it is going to work.  In fact, most of the time he seems to be trying things (anything) in hopes that it will succeed but never 100% confident that it will.  Instead, he frames his ideas in a context of why he believes it could and should work and then sits back to see what happens.  In the case of transparency, the author merely looked at the average employee, the one who grew up with blogs and the internet, and realized that a more open approach to how things are done might be necessary to further the productivity of his company.

And it works even when he looks to the family dynamic in his own home and how things have changed over the decades, the author finds possibility and then fulfills on his own promises.

What I especially like about this book is that it not only tears away the iconic curtain of how corporate offices should work but Nayar never offers clearly delineated ways of appying his principles.  What works for HCL Technologies worked not because of the specifics but because of the principles and the manager who reads and is inspired by this book may find it frustrating not to have a clear gameplan.  But really, in a way, there is one because if each concept is worked through with the same commitment as Nayar and his people seem to possess, the process will define itself.  This book gives you the why and suggests how you might begin.  In the end, it is the company's responsiblity to commit to change and make it work in whatever manner best fits the need of the industry or culture.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Reiki Affair | Psychology Today

My Reiki Affair | Psychology Today:

"In Reiki, you simply allow a person’s energy flow to work its own healing magic. I wondered if this related to how we approach life in general. Oftentimes, we try to force every answer, find every road, and know the solution. But maybe, when you’re present and relaxed, things can actually go your way?! Answers find you."

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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is a deserved classic.  Told through a wide range of narrative voices, the plot is simple and the events profound.  As Addie Bundren dies, her families thoughts layer the story of the relationships and experiences, one on top of another.  The stream-of-consciousness style works perfectly with this story and Faulkner uses it brilliantly.

There are times when the unrefined voices of the various narrators sound downright poetic and it is this which especially makes the book so powerfully evocative.  Whether you can identify with any of the characters, and odds are you cannot, you find yourself at least caring about them.  Remarkable given that there isn't an admirable one among them.  Perhaps the youngest son, if one is hard pressed to choose.

Most striking, for me, is how Faulkner doesn't romanticize death.  Although some of the characters show signs of grief bordering on emotional shock, their thoughts are mostly caught up in their own drama and the things about which they worry go from the ridiculous to the sublime, depending on who is speaking and when the thoughts are flowing.  And poetic.  For example:
[T]he process of coming unalone is terrible. (62)
That was when I learned that words are no good; that words dont [sic] ever fit even what they are trying to say at.  (171)
As I said, often the voices are unrefined, colloquial and clearly undereducated.  But poetic nonetheless, especially Darl's who seems to meditate often on existentialism with a nearly zen perception of being.  The tragedy of the novel is small and eloquent.  Not an easy book to read, it is worth every minute spent savoring its content.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jane Austen's Fight Club

Next year I am going to reread all of Austen's novels. And I love the book and movie Fight Club. So how perfect is this?

The changing nature of Reiki | Dragonfly Reiki - Atlanta, Ga

The changing nature of Reiki | Dragonfly Reiki - Atlanta, Ga:

"As we evolve, as we become healed, the nature of what we experience must also change."

Another article about Reiki.

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