Friday, December 22, 2017



Before you know what kindness really is 

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend

Book Review

O Pioneers!O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away."

Not quite "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," perhaps, but still, to my mind, one of the great opening lines of a novel. And all of her writing is like that; powerful, evocative, setting a strong image of time, place, and mood in just a few words. Leon Edel said of Willa Cather; "The time will come when she'll be ranked above Hemingway." I prefer Cather to Hemingway. Both are efficient in their prose. But Hemingway wrote wonderful stories about life, while Cather wrote wonderful stories teeming with life.

Like Joseph Conrad's jungle and Herman Melville's sea, Willa Cather's land is, in many ways, the main character of this book. The characters seem to rise up out of it. She gives it her most poetic language:

"Winter has settled down over the Divide again; the season in which Nature recuperates, in which she sinks to sleep between the fruitfulness of autumn and the passion of spring."

But her people are no less three dimensional for their brevity of description. Touching on misogyny and racism, the novel centers around a smart, strong woman with great instincts who helps her family, and by example her community, prosper, but doesn't get bogged down with marriage and the men in her life, which I found very refreshing.

Before this I read her short story "The Enchanted Bluff" and her short novel "My Mortal Enemy" and loved those. I'll definitely be coming back for more by Willa Cather. Most highly recommended.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Quote: "What Makes a River..."

“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else.” Hal Boyle

Friday, December 15, 2017

Book Review

Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli In His WorldBe Like the Fox: Machiavelli In His World by Erica Benner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"...instead of praying for some new holy man to save you, learn the way to Hell in order to steer clear of it yourself." - Niccolo Machiavelli

I became aware of, and interested in, this book when I came across this interview with its author:

Erica Benner asserts in the interview and in the book that Machiavelli was not Machiavellian. Though his oft quoted Prince is How-to-Be-a-Tyrant, he wrote it ironically. Knowing that tyrants always eventually implode, he set out to encourage the current one to implode fasterc so better men could set about establishing a more stable republic.

Ms. Benner has written a sweeping, all encompassing, biography that engaged me like a well written novel. This book deserves to stand with Barbara Tuchman's The Distant Mirror and The Guns of August as important histories that illuminate our present.

Starting in Florence when it was its own republic the book expands to include the Medici, several Popes, the King of France, and the Hapsburg Emperor, all of whom Machiavelli interacted personally with as diplomat for the city he loved and devoted his life to. When he wasn't able to work directly for its welfare he studied the histories of Rome and Greece to learn when states flourished and when they faltered. This scholarship he put into a history of Florence that was a cautionary tale to current and future leaders. When he couldn't get people's attention with history he wrote comedies poking fun at himself, his city, and its leaders.

I love this book. Highly recommended.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review

Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”

Read Breakfast at Tiffany's. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. It's a short novel(I LOVE short novels) that you could read in a night; a few hours if you're fast. But don't. Like most great writing it's tempting to gobble it up like so much hot fudge sundae. But force yourself to slow down. Digest it slowly, savoring every bite. Read Holly Golightly as Audrey Hepburn spoke with her pauses and stresses.

Holly Golightly is a woman-child with earth-mother people skills and handwriting that's a childish scrawl. She's gone through hell and come out a pure soul who can only be herself. She's totally present in the moment and doesn't hold a grudge. She appreciates all of people, focuses on the good and isn't offended by the flaws.

A friend recommended reading Truman Capote, but I didn't think I was up to In Cold Blood. And it's brilliant. The writing is complete, not sparse like Hemingway. But there's no excess back story that should've been left in the author's notes. The story is a character driven snapshot of these people's lives. Through the author's eyes you fall in love with Holly and through Holly's eyes you love all of the souls who swirl around her. It's not tied up neatly with a bow like the movie, but that's the brilliance of books; they don't have to be. This book isn't more complex as much as it's more colorful. And more satisfying.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review

AwakeningsAwakenings by Oliver Sacks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As World War I drew to a close, besides the great Spanish Flu epidemic there was also an epidemic of a 'sleepy sickness' or encephalitis lethargica in which patients would be unable to stay awake and would sleep for days, weeks, or even months. Often they would seem to recover fully and live full lives for a decade or more only to be struct with a kind of Parkinsonism. They would spend the remaining decades of their lives rigid, catatonic, or a variety of other symptoms that prevented them from interacting normally with their environment. Unable to be cared for by family or even most institutions they ended up in long-term chronic hospitals.

In 1966 Dr. Oliver Sacks joined of Mount Carmel Hospital in New York where over 80 such patients were housed and having their basic needs seen to. Instead of dismissing them or avoiding them Dr. Sacks took an interest in his patients, saw their humanity through their disabilities, and set about doing what he could for them. A new drug, L-DOPA, had possibilities to relieve the Parkinson symptoms. "Awakenings" chronicles the history of the epidemic, Dr. Sacks' and his patients' experience with L-DOPA, and what they learned from their experience.

"Awakenings" is a good example of what Maria Popova calls "the everythingness of everything" of Oliver Sacks. He saw his patients as complete people, not the sum of their symptoms. He chronicles how everything affects their responses to their disease: the hospital environment of space, light and air, hospital policies, family relationships, the emotional investment the staff made in the patients, and the patients' own curiosity and humor towards themselves and their lives. He discusses many theories of people and events, not just medical theories but also physics and the catastrophic threshold of chaos theory.

My take away from the book, besides wishing very much to have a doctor like him who listens and observes and is interested in everything affecting my life, is how everything has a direct effect on peoples' lives; space, light, air, love, respect, support. And how our tendency to want to compartmentalize people's lives and expect exemplary behavior under horrible circumstances has no basis in reality.

Highly recommended

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Friday, September 01, 2017

Quote: Rumi

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Book Review: 11/22/63

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I'm really glad I read it, I didn't always enjoy the reading of it. To me, it's over written. Every thing and every action is completely described leaving nothing to the imagination of the reader. The first few chapters especially needed to be run through the editing process a couple more times. I much prefer authors who know how to provide all necessary details while leaving enough out for the reader to be fully intellectually engaged. Not every question needs to be answered.

The second thing not completely engaging about this book is the main character. I never sympathized or identified with him in any meaningful way. But there is something of a literary tradition of uninteresting main characters. Dickens' David Copperfield, who's interesting as a child but boring as an adult, is my favorite example. And like David Copperfield, Stephen King's other characters are all interesting, three-dimensional people readers will have no problem identifying with and caring about.

The other thing Stephen King has done incredibly well is research the events leading up to and after the main event. The movements, history, and people around Lee Harvey Oswald are all brought to vivid life and is, alone, worth reading the book. This book also brings the era, 1958 - 1963, to life in incredible detail putting the reader into the middle of American culture; food, music, clothes, cars, the easy hospitality and respect, the clean air, the quiet nights, the mills belching toxins into the air 24/7, the restrooms marked Ladies, Gentlemen, and Colored with an arrow pointing around back to a board with a hole in it over a ditch. Except for that one mention everything else in the book involves white people.

Spoiler alert: While the ending generally rings true, the changes after Kennedy is saved seem extreme; world wide earthquakes? the rending of space/time? the collapse of the universe? I found all that hard to buy.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Book Review

The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's WorldThe Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“What was once a feeling has become something deeper and more sinister in our psyches—it is a deeply and rigidly held belief in our own unworthiness for love. We were taught by the experience of shame during those tender and formative years of adolescence that there was something about us that was flawed, in essence unlovable, and that we must go about the business of making ourselves lovable if we are to survive.”

I had thought I had my internalized homophobia well in hand. Being gay has long been the one part of my life that I'm most comfortable with, most secure in, and most willing to protect and demand respect of. I've long been aware of internalized homophobia, have examined my own, and kept a watchful eye out for the tiny ways it surfaces throughout my life. But still that line from the Friends theme song; "your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA" is totally me. I had never associated those gaps with internalized homophobia. But in The Velvet Rage Alan Downs connects those dots in a direct line. He shows how the early message of "be this, not that" and the absence of a mentor or a sympathetic ear gets into our DNA and travels with us into adulthood, prompting us to foreclose on fulfillment in many areas of our life and not just in our sexual expression.

Based on a lifetime working with his own therapy clients, this is an amazing important book that remains imminently readable despite the complex ideas discussed. Best of all he includes a list of skills, actions we can take in order to move towards a more fulfilling life and he emphasizes that moving from shame to acceptance is a skill, a practice, something you do rather than something you think about.

Highly recommended, possibly required reading for all gay men.

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Book Review

On the Move: A LifeOn the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Oliver Sacks, or I should say, Dr. Sacks: Thank you so much for the gift of your book. It will forever remain one of my most treasured. Your love and joy and gratitude and curiosity infuse every part of it. I don't know how you do it because on the surface your writing is very straightforward, observational, but somehow that transparency allows all of your wonderful warmth to come through. Reading your book is such a pleasure that I did it in little segments, stretching it out so that I wouldn't finish it too soon. And at the end I had a true sense of a full, complete life; a life that left the world a better place.

My regret at finishing your book is tempered by the knowledge of the dozen other books that you wrote and the further chance to live in your world where life and people are endlessly fascinating. I can't decide whether to jump back to the beginning of this book and read it cover to cover again or start right in on Awakenings or make myself read something completely different in order to come back to you afresh. A hardcover edition of Awakenings is proving difficult to obtain, but luckily it's easily available as an ebook.

I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you in person. I have quite a crush on you. I would've loved to hear some of your stories, although I have little to offer you other than my attention.

Yours truly,

Tim Dominic

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017


Do Not Despise Your Inner World

"Do not despise your inner world. That is the first and most general piece of advice I would offer… Our society is very outward-looking, very taken up with the latest new object, the latest piece of gossip, the latest opportunity for self-assertion and status. But we all begin our lives as helpless babies, dependent on others for comfort, food, and survival itself. And even though we develop a degree of mastery and independence, we always remain alarmingly weak and incomplete, dependent on others and on an uncertain world for whatever we are able to achieve. As we grow, we all develop a wide range of emotions responding to this predicament: fear that bad things will happen and that we will be powerless to ward them off; love for those who help and support us; grief when a loved one is lost; hope for good things in the future; anger when someone else damages something we care about. Our emotional life maps our incompleteness: A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger. But for that very reason we are often ashamed of our emotions, and of the relations of need and dependency bound up with them. Perhaps males, in our society, are especially likely to be ashamed of being incomplete and dependent, because a dominant image of masculinity tells them that they should be self-sufficient and dominant. So people flee from their inner world of feeling, and from articulate mastery of their own emotional experiences. The current psychological literature on the life of boys in America indicates that a large proportion of boys are quite unable to talk about how they feel and how others feel — because they have learned to be ashamed of feelings and needs, and to push them underground. But that means that they don’t know how to deal with their own emotions, or to communicate them to others. When they are frightened, they don’t know how to say it, or even to become fully aware of it. Often they turn their own fear into aggression. Often, too, this lack of a rich inner life catapults them into depression in later life. We are all going to encounter illness, loss, and aging, and we’re not well prepared for these inevitable events by a culture that directs us to think of externals only, and to measure ourselves in terms of our possessions of externals.
What is the remedy of these ills? A kind of self-love that does not shrink from the needy and incomplete parts of the self, but accepts those with interest and curiosity, and tries to develop a language with which to talk about needs and feelings. Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others. - Martha Nussbaum"

Monday, May 08, 2017

It's Not Where You Start

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,
  Nobody starts a winner, give me a slow beginner,”

   - Song by Barbara Cook, Songwriters Dorothy Fields/Arthur Schwartz

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Different Pawed

 In this world of the simple and odd,
The bent and the plain, 
the unbalanced bod,
The imperfect people and differently pawed, 
some live without love... 
That's how they're flawed.

 - Berkeley Breathed

Taste All Wines

“You can only know a good wine if you have first tasted a bad one.”

― Paulo Coelho

Taking Care

If you want to take care of tomorrow, take better care of today.

~Dainin Katagiri~

Monday, May 01, 2017

Knowing is Not Enough

"Principles are good and worth the effort only when they develop into deeds," - Van Gogh

"Our neurons must be used...not only to know but to transform knowledge, not only to experience but also to construct." - Santiago Ramon y Cajal Diseases of the Will: Neuroscience Founding Father Santiago Ramon y Cajal on the Six Psychological Flaws that Keep the Talented from Achieving Greatness

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Befriending Who I Am

Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.
~Ani Pema Chodron~

Knowledge is Only a Rumor

Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being… The Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has a beautiful saying: “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”
–Brené Brown, from Rising Strong 

Friday, April 28, 2017

On the 20th Century

Tonight I went to see the Cygnet Theater's production of On the 20th Century. It's an over-the-top operetta musical comedy farce with no opportunity for a cheap laugh left untouched. I haven't laughed at a show of any kind like that in a long time. My friend Nate went with me and enjoyed it as well. What a treat!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tonight's Bonfire

Though Tuesday nights are not usually good nights for me to plan evening activities tonight I made it to the bonfire for the first time in many months and I was very glad I did. North Cove Beach on Vacation Island in Mission Bay is a lovely quiet spot during the week. Sometime after this picture, after the sun set and after the fire quieted down the wind fell away and the bay turned to glass reflecting all the lights of the city. A lovely way to spend the evening.

Book Review

Dombey and SonDombey and Son by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

noun: dated literary
a substitute, especially for a medicine or drug.
“The head was followed by a perfect desert of chin, and by a shirt-collar and neckerchief, and by a dreadnought pilot-coat, and by a pair of dreadnought pilot-trousers, whereof the waistband was so very broad and high, that it became a succedaneum for a waistcoat: being ornamented near the wearer’s breast-bone with some massive wooden buttons, like backgammon men. As the lower portions of these pantaloons became revealed, Bunsby stood confessed; his hands in their pockets, which were of vast size; and his gaze directed, not to Captain Cuttle or the ladies, but the mast-head.”

noun: a feeling of unease or embarrassment; awkwardness.
synonyms: embarrassment, unease, uneasiness, awkwardness, discomfort, discomposure
"Shame, disappointment, and discomfiture gnawed at his heart; a constant apprehension of being overtaken, or met—for he was groundlessly afraid even of travellers, who came towards him by the way he was going—oppressed him heavily. The returned unweakened in the day. The monotonous ringing of the bells and tramping of the horses; the monotony of his anxiety, and useless rage; the monotonous wheel of fear, regret, and passion, he kept turning round and round; made the journey like a vision, in which nothing was quite real but his own torment."

Some of Dickens most vivid language. It flows effortlessly from realism to impressionism, from muddy, gritty details to allegory and free association of universal truths and the indifference of the glory of the rising sun to the misery of our maddening lives. It's similar in theme to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" except instead of romance the story is told through the experience of a shipping magnate whose excessive pride takes him from extreme wealth, wife, and children to bankruptcy, isolation, and near death. And like Jane Austen's novel Dickens' Dombey is redeemed by the love and forgiveness of a strong woman.

Reading Dombey and Son is like sitting down to a rich dinner; the language and detail of emotions is delicious and amazing. And Dickens never seemed to grow tired of it and rush the ending as some authors do, but kept up the pace of brilliance through each of about four endings while he wraps up all of the story lines and characters he's introduced.

"...when I thought so much of all the causes that had made me what I was, I needed to have allowed more for the causes that had made him what he was. I will try, then, to forgive him his share of blame. Let him try to forgive me mine!”

My main critique, and the reason I took so long to finish, is that most chapters detail the actions and motivations of the members of the Dombey household and almost everything happens within London. As beautiful as it's written I kept hoping the action would switch to one of the other characters who's lost at sea. He eventually finds his way back, but the details of how or his adventures doing so are not included. If Herman Melville would've been enlisted to step in and give us exploits of our boy Walter on the high seas that would have been fun indeed.

But it's a great book and worthwhile for any Dickens fan to read. I found myself newly amazed at Dickens' insights into the human heart and the motivations of women and men. In this age of the fast words found in Twitter, texts, and Facebook clickbait sinking one's teeth into a full course reading rich in all the colors of the English language is food for the soul.

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We Need Each Other and We Need Diversity

   I came across two articles that seems about very different things, but to me they're saying the same thing.
   The first one is a summary and review of the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben:

 “Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.”

   The second article is a Ted Talk describing the newest research into why a trait limiting reproduction doesn't disappear, but instead is seen throughout history, across cultures, and in most species of animals.

   Both articles point to our need for each other and the more diverse we are the stronger we are.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Vang brought flan she'd made to Mama's Kitchen this morning. Man, was it good! Way better than any I've had before. I tend to avoid ordering it in Restaurants, and now I know it's because I've never had any like this.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Guest House


We can also approach
the importance of compassion 
through intelligent reasoning.
If I help another person, 
and show concerns for
him or her, 
then I myself
will benefit from that.
However, if I harm others,
eventually I will be in trouble.
I often joke, half sincerely
and half seriously, saying
that if we wish to be truly selfish, 
then we should be wisely selfish
rather than foolishly selfish.
Our Intelligence can help
to adjust our attitude in this
respect. If we use it well,
we can gain insights as to
how we can fulfill our own
self-interest by leading a 
compassionate way of life.

H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bruce Lee

Where some people have a self, most people have a void, because they are too busy in wasting their vital creative energy to project themselves as this or that, dedicating their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like rather than actualizing their potentiality as a human being.... We are what we are.”  -  Bruce Lee

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bike Ride

This morning I rode my bicycle from home to the other side of Balboa Park and back. Even though I had to walk up part of each side of Florida Canyon, I did really well, especially considering I haven't done that ride in a very long time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong.”

A quick and easy and fun read; I really enjoyed this as much for her infectious enthusiasm as for the content. She makes a light, airy, tidy house seem possible even for those of us descended from packrats and borderline hoarders. I love that when it comes to mementos and gifts from important people she points out that their purpose was in the giving and now it's ok to let them go. If her advice to thank your clothes for the good job they did today as you take them off and put them away seems too out there, just think of it as an exercise in mindfulness. Highly recommended.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dinner with Steve

Steve texted over this selfie he took of the two of us a couple of weeks ago when we were having dinner at The Mediterranean Cafe in Hillcrest. Delicious dinner. The picture also looks good in black and white; kind of like Rick's Cafe in Casablance.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The San Diego Symphony Plays Harry Potter

Tonight's show was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with the John Williams score played by our own San Diego Symphony. Usher Captains tonight were Linda, Sue, Yours Truly, and Beverly with our fearless leader, House Manager Robert in the back. This was a lot of fun.

There's something magical about watching this movie with 2300 people excited to be there. At the end while the credits rolled, except for a few who ran to the bathroom, the whole audience stayed glued to their seats while the orchestra [played the finale. When finished, they didn't get just a rousing ovation, the audience gave them a roaring standing ovation. Thank you John Williams for introducing people to the wonders of the symphony orchestra.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Cambridge Building

A friend posted a meme on Facebook pointing out that while Google Earth allows us to see any place in the world, the place we all look up is our house. In my case the place I like to look up is where I used to live in Champaign, IL. It's looking really good. I'm the one, with the help of my friend Steve Otto, who planted the four dogwood trees across the front. And Brian and I planted some of the hosta that it looks like are still there.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review

QuatrefoilQuatrefoil by James Barr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic groundbreaking gay novel telling the story of a love in a place and time. It also includes the mandatory tragic ending slapped on without which it wouldn't have been published, making it also the telling of gay fiction in a place and a time.

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Book Review

The Outstretched Shadow (Obsidian Mountain, #1)The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Obsidian Trilogy is a wonderful tale of magic, warrior elves, sentient unicorns, and vengeful greedy demons. Best of all it's not a poor imitation of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, although it shares with those stories an unlikely hero. It's not without it's flaws. The Demon Prince, both son and lover to the Queen starts out in Book 1 as a deliciously evil, worthy heir, and threat that all good royal sons must be. But in Books 2 & 3 he's reduced to a sniveling mama's boy. And in Book 3 the Demon Army is suddenly marching towards the Golden City with no telling of how the Queen marshalled her feuding houses and summoned all of her forces to emerge from their subterranean kingdom and wage organized war. But the magic and the characters are diverse and unique. A worthy, enthralling tale.

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Book Review

All the President's MenAll the President's Men by Carl Bernstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this my Sophomore year(I think) in college for an English class. At the beginning of semester the teacher gave us the assignment of a paper on a book to be due at the end of the semester. My heart sank as he was giving the assignment knowing my seemingly overwhelming habit of procrastinating, knowing I wouldn't even pick out a book until the last minute, then have to read it and write the paper all in a sloppy rush making the whole thing a miserable experience. But then an amazing thing happened; two friends also in the class asked me after class to go to the bookstore with them right then. We walked over there on the spot and picked out our books. I don't think it took very long and I didn't stress over which book to get the way I do now, being already interested in this one and the actual events fresh in my mind. I read it throughput the semester, thoughtfully wrote the paper and turned it in on time, a rarity for me. It's too bad I don't still have it. Worse, I wish I could remember the names of those two nice people who were so nice and who didn't know the favor they did me that day.

The book is excellent. Possibly it should be required reading of all students. The story telling, by two top journalists at the top of their game, is gripping. The story itself needs no embellishment beyond the facts; they speak for themselves.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Chieftains

Irish music, Irish dancing with some American country music and ABBA thrown in for good measure. So much fun! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Keeping Kitties Company

I got to spend the weekend with Stella, Spanky, and Bubba while Steve and Craig were out of town.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dear Mr. Nadeau

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


E. B. White

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Coming Train

The Coming Train, 1880, oil on canvas by American artist Edward Lamson Henry (1841–1919).

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Dinner at Villa de Fanta

I went to Steve's for dinner. Craig joined us. Steve grilled steaks and afterwards fell asleep while Craig and I talked.

Friday, February 03, 2017

How Cold Showers And Tough Mudders Can Make You Better At Your Job

Purposefully making yourself uncomfortable can help you push beyond your limits and accomplish more.

STEPHANIE VOZZA 02.03.17 5:58 AM

Standing barefoot in the snow. Soaking in a tub of icy water. Taking a plunge in a cold lake. These things sound really uncomfortable and a little crazy, right? But investigative journalist Scott Carney says a regular habit of any of them can improve your health and reduce your stress.

Carney discovered the life-changing power of extreme environments in 2013 when he set out to debunk eccentric Dutch fitness guru Wim Hof’s claim that he could control his body temperature and immune system at will. Carney had just written about another so-called guru who had lost touch with reality in the pursuit of enlightenment, and he was pretty sure Hof was another charlatan.

Related: The Scientific Case For Cold Showers

"I thought perhaps he had genetic adaptations and others would die if they tried to emulate him," says Carney. "I was going to prove him wrong, and as it turned out that wasn’t the case. Within a week I was able to replicate the feat he could do."

"The problem is that technology has outpaced our body’s ability to adapt."

The experience prompted Carney to eventually climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but shorts and hiking boots, and sit on the snowy banks of a river until the ice melted around him. He chronicles his limit-pushing adventures in his new book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength, and suggests that extreme activities (when done with a doctor’s approval) could improve your life, too.

"I’m not an adventure seeker; I’m not even an athlete," he says. "I happened to be pulled along and discovered these are innate human abilities."

The environment is an important but forgotten stimulus, says Carney. "We used to think health relied on diet and exercise," he says. "It is those things, but it’s also the space you inhabit. The problem is that technology has outpaced our body’s ability to adapt."

Our species has had 200,000 years of constant environmental changes and the evolutionary system had adapted to deal with it, while climate control has been around for just about 150 years, says Carney. "The drive for comfort was once something we could never achieve," he says. "But now comfort is available at flip of a switch, and that’s a terrible thing for our bodies."


Our body’s ability for handling the environment sits untapped, waiting to act. "The immune system is like a predator in the body, going around trying to kill bacteria, but its job has been compromised and it’s got nothing to do," says Carney. In some cases it turns against the body with autoimmune diseases. Using environmental stimuli gives the command structure something to do. It’s like giving that predator a chew toy."

"Comfort isn’t inherently bad, what’s bad is the worship of comfort."

Regular exposure to cold triggers a number of processes to warm up the body, and those adjustments will help regulate blood sugar, exercise the circulatory system, and heighten mental awareness, says Carney. Studies have shown cold exposure treatment can help with conditions such as Crohn’s and Parkinson’s disease and obesity.


Growth starts with a willingness to break yourself down, try new things that challenge you, and feel discomfort or even pain on the road to remaking yourself even better, says Sarah Robb O’Hagan, author of Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass. Repeat. "Your greatest potential is not found in your comfort zone," she says. "We now have scientific research showing that getting outside of our comfort zone is what develops our personal growth. That’s why extreme fitness endeavors are now so popular."

"Your strength grows when you are trying something new and figuring out how to accomplish it."

Robb O’Hagan says the training for a Tough Mudder competition pushed her to examine her limits. "The thought of jumping into a dumpster of ice cubes is far from enticing, but once you do it you feel this huge sense of accomplishment and frankly newfound confidence because you survived it," she says. "There's no question that it leaves you feeling stronger than before you took on the challenge. Research shows that muscle and brain power act very similarly. Your strength grows when you are trying something new and figuring out how to accomplish it."


If mountain climbing and icy baths aren’t your thing, you can still find benefit from introducing some discomfort in your life. Carney suggests starting your day with a cold shower. "Once you do that, everything else feels easier," says Carney. "A cold shower will give you a little more resilience to get through day. It goes to your nervous system to a place where your body deals with environmental stress. Other stresses will not feel like as big a deal."

Or keep your thermostat at 63 degrees. "It’s right at a point where you might feel like you might need to shiver," he says. "And one of the things we do in the training is we suppress your natural shiver response to make your body find a different way to heat itself. And this is usually ramping up the metabolism. And by doing that, you'll burn more calories, you'll get thinner, but you'll also just be more adapted. You will use less energy in general, and that's a good thing.

Comfort isn’t inherently bad, says Kent Burns, president of Simply Driven, an executive search firm. "What’s bad is the worship of comfort," he says. "Candidly, most humans, especially Americans, literally make an idol of their own comfort. Comfort then becomes a master that we serve at the expense of other important things. To grow and realize our potential, we need an outside force, and events like Polar Plunges and Tough Mudders serve that purpose, forcing people to confront obstacles and their own limitations."

Carney admits climbing mountains and sitting on an icy snow bank are extreme tests, but he believes both are important examples of the body’s capabilities. "Don’t be afraid of a little bit of pain," he says. "I’m not suggesting that people get hurt, there’s a difference between damage and pain. Do whatever you can to give your body variation every day. It’s so easy to do; it’s just turning a knob."

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Solana Beach

I took these selfies this morning before heading home from Solana Beach. I helped Andreas clean his place yesterday and we didn't take time out to see the ocean so I did it really quick this morning.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Forever Broke: 15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire

Forever Broke: 15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire

As Mark Cuban once said, "Ideas are worthless until you do something with them."

By John Rampton



CREDIT: Getty Images



There's no surefire way to become a millionaire. But there are definitely things that are holding you back from achieving that elusive multi-millionaire status.

Over my 32 years of being alive (yes, I'm 32), I have been a millionaire three times, with over $1 million in my bank account after taxes. Seems pretty cool, right? Not really. I've lost everything twice in my life. Luckily, over the years, I've learned a few things.

Here are 15 habits and mistakes that took me from millionaire to being broke and prevented me from earning it back till I learned to fix them. Once I did, I was free to start saving and living the real life I wanted to live.

1. Living above your means.

"Ninety-five percent of the poor in my study did not save, and most accumulated debt to subsidize their standard of living," writes Tom Corley in Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. "Consequently, they have no money for retirement, for their kids' college, or for pursuing opportunities that present themselves."

And he adds, "Not saving and spending more than you make creates long-term poverty, with no hope of escape."

The wealthy, on the other hand, avoid overspending by living within their means and investing in the future. And they accomplish this by making their spending and budgeting a habit. The wealthy don't just spend their money, they spend it purposefully.

A great place to start is by following the 50/20/30 Guideline.

"The 50/20/30 guideline can be easy to follow because instead of telling you how to break down your budget across 20 or more different categories (who could possibly keep track of that?), it splits everything into three main categories," writes Laura Shin for LearnVest.

These categories include:

Fixed costs, like rent and utilities. It's suggested "that you aim to keep your monthly total no more than 50 percent of your take-home pay," Shin says.Financial goals, such as saving towards retirement or an emergency fund. Shin recommends that you put 20 percent of your take-home pay towards these contributions.Flexible spending, like grocery shopping, entertainment, and hobbies. You should budget no more than 30 percent towards flexible spending.

According to Shin, "The 50/20/30 guideline is just that--a guide. It can be a helpful benchmark when you're assessing where your money is going, but it can also be adjusted to your specific lifestyle and goals."

2. Lack of determination.

"Most people get stuck as soon as the first problems come up. They are not connected enough to the goal of becoming a millionaire and give up as soon as things get tough," says life coach, speaker, and author Lukas Schwekendiek. "But this determination comes in different forms. It is not as simple as to say that they do not want it bad enough, or that they aren't willing to work hard for it. Most of it boils down to the internal struggle."

And he adds, "Becoming a millionaire isn't about collecting $1 million from some place or through hard work. Becoming a millionaire means you go on a journey to change yourself into a person that can handle a million dollars."

3. Neglecting your health.

There's a reason why the wealthy make their health a priority. Being healthier makes you more successful.

Research has found that exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting a good night's rest can make you more productivedecreases stressboosts your memoryhelps you make smarter decisions more quickly, and prevents health concerns like heart disease and cancer. So instead of being tired, stressed, or constantly sick, you can put your energy towards building your wealth.

4. Purchasing a home.

"Let's say someone tells you to do this: Get all of your money, leverage it up 400 percent, put it all in one investment," writes author and entrepreneur James Altucher.

Do you get a dividend on that investment? No! The reverse. You have to pay money every year in maintenance and property taxes, both of which go up randomly.

Can you get out of the investment? Not really. It's hard.

And when you most need the money, it's impossible.

And that's the situation you're in when purchasing a home. He continues:

Instead of putting all of your money into a house, put a fraction of your money into rent each month and use the rest to figure out how to generate either your own business or (even better) multiple streams of income.

A home will destroy you right at the worst moment.

If you do want to become a homeowner, only do so if you have a stable job, aren't under a mountain of debt, have a good credit score, and have some money stashed away in a savings account.

5. Relying on one source of income.

Even if you have a six-figure salary, never rely on one stream of income. It's a practice that the wealthy have followed for years, because you never know when that cushy job could come to a halt. Additionally, having multiple streams of income allows you to pay off any debt faster and put more money into your investments and retirement.

Thanks to the freelancer generation, you can side-hustle whenever you want, like driving for Uber or Lyft on the weekends, or even start your own business from the comfort of your home.

6. Wasting valuable time.

As Corley says:

How much of your valuable time do you lose parked in front of a screen? Two-thirds of wealthy people watch less than an hour of TV a day and almost that many--63 percent--spend less than an hour a day on the internet unless it is job-related.

Instead, these successful people use their free time engaged in personal development, networking, volunteering, working side jobs or side businesses, or pursuing some goal that will lead to rewards down the road. But 77 percent of those struggling financially spend an hour or more a day watching TV, and 74 percent spend an hour or more a day using the internet recreationally.

7. Not acting on your ideas.

"It's one thing to come up with million-dollar ideas, but a completely different thing to act on them," says marketing expert Bruce Cross. "You will never get rich if you are more of a dreamer who never puts his money where his mouth is. In addition, millionaires do not sit around and watch others advance in life. Millionaires take action to help themselves reach their goals."

As Mark Cuban once said, "Ideas are worthless until you do something with them."

8. Not reading.

The rich are known for wanting to expand their knowledge, stay up-to-date on current events and industry trends, and learn lessons from inspirational figures. In fact, 88 percent of the wealthy read 30 minutes or more every day. As Will Lipovsky notes, reading also brings in various and opposing perspectives and points of view, motivates you to dream bigger, and inspires you to never give up.

9. Fear and negativity.

Emotions, particularly fear and negativity, are two of the biggest obstacles to overcome if you want to become a millionaire. And there's research that backs this up.

According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, negative thoughts, like fear, narrow your mind and focus. Positive thoughts, however, are able to open your mind to more possibilities and options. Furthermore, positive emotions also enhance your ability to build skills, as well as develop resources you can use later in life.

Millionaires aren't afraid to step out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks. If they fail, they'll learn from that failure so that they won't repeat the same mistakes again.

10. Not setting goals.

"You cannot control the outcome of a wish, but you can control the outcome of a goal," says Corley.

"Every year, 70 percent of the wealthy pursue at least one major goal. Only 3 percent of those struggling to make ends meet do this," he adds.

Personally, I've found that setting daily goals first thing in the morning guides me in setting priorities and pushes me to achieve those goals.

11. Avoiding routine.

The most successful people in the world--including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, and Arianna Huffington--are known for sticking to a routine. Why? Because a routine eliminates energy draining tasks and decision fatigue.

"It's not about copying Richard Branson or Steve Jobs's daily routine, it's about creating and sticking to your own," says author Saul Kropman. "Wake up at 4 a.m. if you're capable of it, but most importantly, create a routine that is plausible and stick with it."

12. Not collecting assets.

"A job will never make you rich. Neither will saving all your cash in a coffee can," says Brandon Turner, vice president of growth at "So how can you build that wealth?"

Assets--such as a profitable business, growing stock portfolio, or investing in the right piece of real estate.

Remember, your car and all those shiny toys that you enjoy are "liabilities that are robbing you of future wealth," Turner says. So he recommends focusing on "collecting things that will make you money in the long term."

13. Spending time with toxic people.

"The toxic people in your life will drag you down. The good people in your life will love you and inspire you. It's push-pull. Let the good people win. Try to improve this every day," says Altucher.

"You can't become successful with toxic people pulling you down. This has nothing to do with your responsibilities in life. This has everything to do with saving your life," he adds. Replace those toxic people with individuals who are positive, supportive, and driven.

14. Failing to follow the 70/30 rule.

Jim Rohn, one of the county's leading authority figures in business, has a simple formula for accumulating wealth: "After you pay your fair share of taxes, learn to live on 70 percent of your after-tax income. These are the necessities and luxuries you spend money on."

Rohn goes on to say that it's then "important to look at how you allocate your remaining 30 percent."

He suggests giving a third to charity, a third toward capital investments, with the final third being placed in a savings account. You probably won't notice much in the beginning, but "let five years lapse and the differences become pronounced. At the end of 10 years, the differences are dramatic," he says.

15. Not having a mentor.

"Finding a mentor puts you on the fast track to wealth accumulation," Corley writes in Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.

"Success mentors do more than simply influence your life in some positive way," he continues. "They regularly and actively participate in your success by teaching you what to do and what not to do. They share with you valuable life lessons they learned either from their own mentors or from the school of hard knocks."

15 Things Holding You Back From Becoming a Multi-Millionaire