Tag Archives: book

2016 Reading List

23 Apr

It’s an older post I never finished, but I thought I would publish it because this might give ideas to people at home because of Coronavirus.

One of my big goals for 2016 is to read more.  Yes, textbooks and class notes, but also (and mostly) books for enjoyment and betterment.

 

Here is the big challenge list:

Click to access reading%20challenge%202016.pdf

I might stick to that, but I also have my own ideas as well.

 

Books I’m interested in trying:

-ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN

-GUNS GERMS & STEELE

-KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL

-SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE

-THE HINGER GAMES

-ONCE IN A GREAT CITY:  THE STORY OF DETROIT

-THE PENTAGON’S BRAIN

-jane eyre

-lord of the flies

-a passage to india

-gullivers travels

-the absolutely true story of a part time indian

-death of a salesman

-divergent

-the godfather

-THE MAZE RUNNER

-A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM

-THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST

-OUT OF THE DUST

-THE SCARLET LETTER

-THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

-UNCLE TOMS CABIN

-atonement

-the hunger games

-the road

-kite runner

-divergent

-the help

-the shining

-into the wild

-a clockwork orange

-shutter island

-the godfather

best of 2019

4 Jan

Day of the Dead

I painted my face and wore my senorita dress and monarch butterfly wings to work.  Cool and I did an offrenda to our deceased loved ones, and I liked having a happy time to think about them and remember them.

 

work x-mas party

One of the supervisors really outdid herself and planned a fun party with catered food, nice decorations (including wine glasses with our work and the year etched on them as memento), a photo booth where we got copies of the pictures, cash bar, and a dj.  Cool wanted to go very badly, and even though parties are later than my bedtime and make me stressed out and anxious I agreed to go.

And once I got some wine in me, I loosened up and had fun.  The people that sat at our table were tipsy to drunk, but that made them really talkative and friendly, and it was nice to finally interact with people at work!  Some coworkers dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and really put a lot of effort into the costumes, so we asked them to take a picture with us.  And it turned out really cute.  Maybe we’ll make it a future Christmas card.  And Cool and I took a picture together with a giant rose as a prop, which turned out really cute.  And it’s special because we never get pictures with both of us.  I even got up on the dance floor and did the 7 moves I know–and people were trying to keep me to come dance in the middle of the circle (I did not).  It was a success!

 

played Jenga at Social Hall

After we went to the zoo (also one of our favorite things to do) we stopped at Social Hall for lunch.  It turned out to be happy hour and our server was really nice and good too.  This never happens in Arizona.  We noticed when we first moved here that the service pretty much everywhere and every time of day, is bad.  Like abyssal.  But she was friendly and efficient so it was a special treat.

They have games inside and a big patio with a jumbo Jenga game made of 2×4-size wood.  Cool and I played and generally just had an unexpected fun time.

 

parents visit

I wanted my parents to see where we live, our cute house, our favorite spots…  So they came, but it was July when everyone is hot in AZ, and un-acclimated people want to die.  Not the optimal timing.  And I am very much conscious of utilities and we usually keep the temp no lower than 90F because in AZ you could easily spend $300+ on utilities if you let yourself be comfortable.  Anyway, so it’s not a good time of year for visitors.  But I wanted them to see and have fun, and that’s when they could come so we tried to make the best of it.

I planned a very detailed itinerary to try to accommodate everyone’s needs and desires:

zoo-because all 4 of us are animal lovers.

Sephora- to try scents and makeup and lotion.

heard museum-because it’s personal history to all of us and I knew they would all like it.  Also, it’s free the first Friday of every month.

aquarium-this was not on my itinerary, but we had time between plans so we made it happen.

movie-Cool and I are addicted to the luxiorious movie experience with the comfy seats and restaurant-food and bev brought right to your seat.  So I wanted my parents to enjoy it also.  And–it’s an AC space (AC I’ not paying for).

book store-  All 4 of us are readers and we have a local bookstore that also serves snacks, coffee, and adult beverages.

casino & buffet- to bring a little of my parent’s home to the visit.

brunch-for my birthday!  I love brunch so much!!!

WNBA-I wanted to go to a game for my birthday, and I got us 1st row tickets (closest seats of ever) to enjoy.

We really packed in the activities and they are already Cool and my favorite activities, so it was fun to share them.

 

color run

Not only was it a color run, it was unicorn-themed and that’s like my favorite ever.  Cool was a good sport and even dressed up in complementary-colored tutu with me.  They had all kinds of selfie stations, and threw color on us as we ran.  The location was beautiful, and the sunrise in AZ is always gorgeous.  So it was a fun time with tons of cute stuff!

 

tour de fat

We discovered this in 2018, and at that time I spontaneously danced in a talent show.  Which was very fun.  Except I finished the routine with crowd-pleasing splits (with zero stretching/preparation) and messed up my hamstring for the 8 following months.  But it had been a real fun time, so we went again.

This year it was much hotter, so I was drenched in sweat the whole time.  But we dressed adorable, tried new beer, and spectated some of their quirky contests and shows.  It’s always a unique and entertaining time!

 

pride wk at work

Since Phoenix summers are uncomfortable (an understatement) the city has Pride in April.  Which is really a terrible idea.  Because everyone else is doing Pride in June and nobody in the spring, so AZ is out of sync, and it ends up being lackluster as a result.  Also, it can still be 95-100F in April, so it’s not really even a nicer temperature to most people.  I could tell the people in the parade were hot and uncomfortable, fizzling, and spirited by the halfway mark.  They really need to find a stadium with a roof or somewhere cooler to hold the thing–in June.

So that’s why when work agreed to celebrate a Pride week in June it was like the best thing!  We dressed up and got to partake a little bit in what the rest of the nation was talking about so much.  Also, I’m really proud of my company for being inclusive, accepting, and going as far as celebrating the week.  Makes me feel safer and more welcome.

 

AZ fair

So in AZ, it’s less of a fair with animals and crafts and more of a carnival.  Which I guess for a city in the middle of a desert makes a lot of sense.  It was just different from what we’d experienced before.  Animals were hard to locate, and there weren’t many.  Crafts were not plentiful either.  Plant stuff was literally 12 pumpkins and the honey people–that’s it.  So that felt weird.

I found residential parking so we didn’t have to pay the $10 or fight the crowd, and that made me over-the-moon excited.  We just had to walk an extra mile, which is no problem for us.  We walk all the time.  They had all kinds of giant fair food and beverages to pick from.  There were rides, but the safety of those sketches me out so we didn’t do any of those.  But we did try our hand at a couple of the games, knowing they are rigged, but just wanting to enjoy the experience.  I did the Wack-a-Mole, and am so good at hitting those vermin that I won a prize!!!  Which never happens to me.  And it wasn’t just a little dinky thing, it was a good sized purple sparkly unicorn!  So that was super-cool.

 

brunch crawl

I saw it on social media and spontaneously (which I never am) bought tickets for the next day.  As you know I love a brunch!  All around town there were deals at the restaurants on pre-fix brunch stuff.  So we got to try a few different places all in one day.  And we found some new gems in town that we had gone to before and ended up being tasty and pleasant.

 

Halloween costume

I always think I’m going to lazy out of the costume and just wear something easy from a previous year, but then the spirit hits me.  This year I went from easy bear I already had to…fish!  I learned how to do mermaid face-paint that looks like fishnet.  Got some purple tights.  Painted my Mohawk blue.  And made a fin out of closed butterfly wings.  I looked amazing (if I do say so myself).  And I enjoy painting faces a lot, and am getting better and better at it.  And the planning phase is fun too.  Also, not gonna lie, but the accolades are fun to get as well.

 

my mohawk

My hair was long, just out of laziness and being cheap.  But I made the mistake of trying to save money by box dying it.  And Cool and I were actually getting really good at the process.  Even the lady who cut my hair said she has worked with professionals that didn’t do as nice a job of even coverage as we had–which I took as a major complement.  Anyway, box dye does horrible damage to hair.  I knew that before, but I didn’t realize just trimming it wasn’t going to fix it.  It was the kind of thing that I was going to have to trim and trim until all of it was cut off so I could start fresh.  And that sounded like a long plan.  But Cool suggested I get a mohawk.  And I’ve had short hair before, but nothing so dramatic or trend-specific.  But I am feisty and fun (and also thought it would be easier to just cut all the dye off at once) so I found some pictures.  The haircut went well and I felt cooler than I actually am.  I got a lot of genuine compliments at work–like people coming out of their way to tell me they loved it.  Not just the ‘I noticed a change and say nice hair’ stuff that you sometimes get with a fashion risk.  And not everyone liked it, but I was totally OK with that too.  Some people are old, gender-conforming, or conservative.  And I don’t care about any of those group’s opinions.  I thought I looked awesome and that’s what mattered!

 

 

#3:  Left Mck

I had been relieved to have a job after the terror of both my mate and I losing our jobs in the same week.  And for over a month.  I was really afraid.  But then, the job just wasn’t what I can accept.  I don’t want to be treated as dispensable.  Don’t want to be micromanaged and watched to the extent I feel like I’m living in a Big-Brother world.  I want to know ahead of time if I will be in my same team, position, or location–not told right as it’s happening.  I don’t want to constantly be training new people all the time all the time, without being in some leadership position or getting a raise or recognition for doing that.  And I sure as fuck don’t want to commute.  So I was ecstatic when I got a job close to the house and could leave all of that behind.  I just wish I hadn’t had to lose all the acquaintances/friends I was getting to know.

 

#2:  10 year anniversary with my mate- Nov

What a special time!  Cool and I have made it ten years and now it sounds just as substantial to others as we always felt about ourselves.  It’s really neat to be able to say ‘decade’ and also really a relief that this is it.  Love.

 

#1:  Got a permanent job

As much of a relief as it is not to be a precarious temp having to worry constantly about messing up and losing a job, and having to save every penny for just in case–this happened really late.  It was promised that in 90 days I would go perm.  Feet were dragged for additional months.  So when it did happen, it was less of a happy occasion and more of a what took so long?  But now life in Arizona can truly start and I’m really happy for stability.  I want 2020 to be the year of stability!

The Road review: A meandering trip to nowhere

22 Dec

Pulitzer Prize or not, I didn’t like it.

If I (wrote this) turned this in as assignment it would be marked down and handed back full of red.  Firstly, there is hardly any punctuation in the whole book.  The reader has a difficult time even determining who is saying what.  It’s distracting.  But bigger then that, the basic questions, who-what-where-when-why are not answered.  The text isn’t fleshed out.  The plot is non-existent–there’s no arc here.  Not in the story, not in there characters.  There are GRE words, but no detail.  Using big words doesn’t make something good writing.  And this is not–there I said it!

Sometimes I feel like things that are difficult to understand make people feel like they SHOULD understand them.  And people will give accolades and praise, because they feel there MUST be a deeper message, but are embarrassed they didn’t ‘get it’.  I’m looking at you “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “Lost Highway.”  Well, sometimes things don’t make complete sense, because the author didn’t do good work.  They didn’t put any pieces together.  There IS no answer.  I think this is one of those works.  It’s unfinished, but because it’s written with large words and a smooth voice, people think THEIR comprehension is the problem, not the writing.

It doesn’t tell us what caused the apocalypse–or when.

The book doesn’t say where they are, or even allude to it.  I think they’re in North America, but I really had no clues.  The man and boy speak English, so they could be nearly anywhere.  The boat has Spanish, which could be almost anywhere, but maybe Mexico, South America, Spain, or since it’s a boat, just travelers.  They are by an ocean.  We are not told any cues for which one.  Is it even a real place?  It’s a cop-out not to include this information, because in this desolate world it no longer matters.

The book doesn’t inform us the names of the characters, their ages, or their backgrounds.  Again, even if identities are stripped, and this information doesn’t matter in this bleak new situation, it’s a cop-out not to include it.  I don’t find that justification enough just to skip it–that’s lazy writing.

I’m guessing the boy is about six?  Because he still openly cries, which boys don’t do for very long, but he’s a little bit independent in that he can walk by himself.  And the man is very handy, cares about the boy, and has a will to survive, but other than that we are told very little about him.  And why is he coughing?

The superficial dealing with his mother is obviously just so the reader doesn’t wonder why she’s out of the picture, but hardly does her justice.  P.S. what kind of patriarchal book portrays a mother who would kill herself leaving her young son behind?  I don’t think very many women would do that, caring husband/father or not.  She’d either stay or euthanize the boy too.

The dialogue is sparse and stilted.  And I don’t think it’s very realistic.  Kids usually chatter on, and ask tons of questions.  I would think if you had all the time in the world, you’s do nothing but talk to each other.  But I guess it’s supposed to show how–what’s the point?

Nothing happens.  And the things that do happen, are repetitive.  They walk.  They see some sort of house/shelter/boat in the distance.  The boy is scared and doesn’t want to go.  The man goes in and looks for things in order to survive.  They come away with some meager supplies, old food, and new clothes or blankets.  They wash, eat, sleep, then walk again.  Repeat.  Who cares?  Why would the audience care?

The plot doesn’t go anywhere.  What’s the point?

I feel like this is probably one of those books you have to study in class.  The boy is supposed to represent good.  The man represents maybe humanity or survival/ingenuity or doubt of man or tenuousness of life?  The gray waves are a symbol of the bleak foreverness they are in.  The ash is destruction, nothingness, and bleak.  Is it worthwhile to persist in living?  And there are many God undertones.

I gather the subtext is more important than the story itself (which is fairly pointless).  BUT I wasn’t studying the book, didn’t have a guide, and didn’t really ‘get’ the subtext’s message.  So I didn’t love it.

I wrote the above before trying to find an analysis.  I wanted my opinions and judgments to be uncolored by “answers.”  And one of the first things I read, I’ve pasted below because I whole-heartedly agree.

 

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6288.The_Road

The Road is unsteady and repetitive–now aping Melville, now Hemingway–but it is less a seamless blend than a reanimated corpse: sewn together from dead parts into a lumbering, incongruous whole, then jolted to ignoble half-life by McCarthy’s grand reputation with Hollywood Filmmakers and incestuous award committees.

In ’96, NYU Professor Alan Sokal submitted a paper for publication to several scientific journals. He made it so complex and full of jargon the average person wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it. He wrote a conclusion that would deliberately flatter the preconceptions of the journals he submitted it to. As he predicted, it was accepted and published, despite the fact that it was all complete nonsense.

The Sokal Affair showed the utter incompetence of these trusted judges. They were unable to recognize good (or bad) arguments and were mostly motivated by politics. The accolades showered upon works like The Road have convinced me that the judges of literature are just as incompetent (and I’m not the only one who thinks so). Unlike Sokol, McCarthy didn’t do it purposefully, he just writes in an ostentatiously empty style which is safe and convenient to praise.

Many have lauded his straightforward prose, and though I am not the most devoted fan of Hemingway, I can admire the precision and economy of a deliberate, economical use of words. Yet that was not what I got from The Road:

“He took out the plastic bottle of water and unscrewed the cap and held it out and the boy came and took it and stood drinking. He lowered the bottle and got his breath and he sat in the road and crossed his legs and drank again. Then he handed the bottle back and the man drank and screwed the cap back on and rummaged through the pack. The ate a can of white beans, passing it between them, and he threw the empty tin into the woods.

Then they set out down the road again.”

Simple? Yes. Precise and purposeful? Hrdlt. The Road is as elegant as a laundry list (if not as well punctuated). Compiling a long and redundant series of unnecessary descriptions is not straightforward, but needlessly complicated.

We’re supposed to find this simplicity profound–that old postmodern game of defamiliarization, making the old seem new, showing the importance of everyday events–but McCarthy isn’t actually changing the context, he’s just restating. There is no personality in it, no relationship to the plot, no revealing of the characters.

Perhaps it is meant to show their weariness: they cannot even muster enough energy to participate in their own lives, but is the best way to demonstrate boredom to write paragraphs that bore the reader? A good writer can make the mundane seem remarkable, but The Road is too bare to be beautiful, and too pointless to be poignant.

Once we have been lulled by long redundancy, McCarthy abruptly switches gears, moving from the plainness of Hemingway to the florid, overwrought figurative language of Melville:

“The man thought he seemed some sad and solitary changeling child announcing the arrival of a traveling spectacle in shire and village who does not know that behind him the players have all been carried off by wolves.”

There is no attempt to bridge the two styles, they are forced to cohabitate, without rhyme or reason to unite them. In another sentence he describes‘dead ivy’, ‘dead grass’ and ‘dead trees’ with unerring monotony, and then as if adding a punchline, declares them ‘shrouded in a carbon fog’–which sounds like the world’s blandest cyberpunk anthology.

Another example:

“It’s snowing, the boy said. A single gray flake sifting down. He caught it in his hand and watched it expire like the last host of christendom.”

McCarthy seems to be trying to reproduce the morbid religious symbolism of Melville when he plays the tattered prophet in Moby Dick. But while Melville’s theology is terribly sublime and pervasive, McCarthy’s is ostentatious and diminutive, like a carved molding in an otherwise unadorned room. Nowhere does he produce the staggeringly surreal otherworldliness Melville achieves in a line like “There stand his trees, each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were within”.

Often, McCarthy’s gilded metaphors are piled, one atop the other, in what must be an attempt to develop an original voice, but which usually sounds more like the contents of a ‘Team Edward’ notebook, left behind after poetry class:

“. . . Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

Dark of the invisible moon. The nights now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp.

People sitting on the sidewalk in the dawn half immolate and smoking in their clothes. Like failed sectarian suicides. . . .”

I love how he prefaces that like an Asimov robot. Sardonic Observation: I’d almost believe he was one, since he has no understanding of beauty or human emotion. Biting Quip: However, he violates Asimov’s first law, since his awkward prose harms human ears.

Sometimes, smack in the middle of a detailed description of scraping paint with a screwdriver, we suddenly get a complex jargon term which few readers would understand. These terms are neither part of the world, nor are they aspects of specialized character knowledge, so I cannot assign them any meaning in the text.

One of the basic lessons for any beginning writer is ‘don’t just add big words because you can’, it’s self-indulgent and doesn’t really help the story. It would be one thing if it were a part of some stylistic structure instead of bits of out-of-place jargon that conflict with the overall style of the book–more textual flotsam for us to wade through.

The longer I read, the more mirthlessly dire it became, and the less I found I could take it seriously. Every little cluster of sentences left on its own as a standalone chapter, every little two-word incomplete sentence trying to demand importance because it actually had punctuation (a rare commodity), every undifferentiated monosyllabic piece of non-dialogue like a hobo talking to himself–it all made the book overblown and nonsensical.

It just stared me down, like a huge drunk guy in a bar daring me to laugh at his misspelled tattoo. And I did. I don’t know if my coworkers or the people on the bus knew what ‘The Road’ was about (it was years before the movie), but they had to assume it was one hilarious road, with a busfull of nuns hiding a convict in disguise on the run from a bumbling southern sheriff and his deputy; a donkey is involved.

Without mentioning specifics, I will say the notorious ending of the book is completely tacked on, in no way fits with or concludes any of the emotional build of the book, but instead wraps up, neat and tight. It certainly bears out McCarthy’s admission on Oprah that he “had no idea where it was going”when he wrote it. We can tell, Cormac.

As you may have noticed from the quotes, another notorious issue is the way the book is punctuated, which is to say, it isn’t. The most complex mark is the a rare comma. It’s not like McCarthy is only using simple, straightforward sentences, either—he fills up on conjoined clauses and partial sentence fragments, he just doesn’t bother to mark any of them.

He also doesn’t use any quotes in the books, and rarely attributes statements to characters, so we must first try to figure out if someone is talking, or if it’s just another snatch of ‘poetic license’, and then determine who is talking. Sure, Melville did away with quotes in one chapter in Moby Dick, but he did it in stylistic reference to Shakespeare, and he also seemed to be aware that it was a silly affectation best suited to a ridiculous scene.

It’s not only the structure, grammar, figurative language, and basic descriptions which are so absurdly lacking: the characters are likewise flat, dull, and repetitive. Almost every conversation between the father and son is the same:

Father: Do it now.
Son: I’m scared.
Father: Just do it.
Son: Are we going to die?
Father: No.
Son: Are you sure?
Father: Yes.

Remember, you won’t get little tags so you know who’s speaking, it’ll all just be strung out in a line without differentiation. Then they wander around for a bit or run from crazy people, and we finally get the cap to the conversation:

Son: Why did (terrible thing) just happen?
Father: (Stares off in silence)
Son: Why did (terrible thing) just happen?
Father: (More silence)

And that’s it, the whole relationship; it never changes or grows. Nor does it seem to make much sense. The characters are always together, each the other’s sole companion: father and son, and yet they are constantly distant and at odds, like a suburban parent and child who rarely see each other and have little in common. McCarthy never demonstrates how such a disconnect arose between two people who are constantly intimate and reliant on one another.

But then, McCarthy confided to Oprah that the is book about his relationship with his own son, so it makes sense why the emotional content is completely at odds with the setting. Perhaps he just sat down one say and thought “I’m an award-winning author and screenwriter who has a somewhat distant relationship with my son. You know what that’s like? That’s like the unendurable physical suffering of people in the third world who are trying to find food and escape crazed, murderous mobs.” So then he wrote a book equating the two, which is about the most callous, egotistical act of privileged self-pity a writer can indulge in.

At least now I know why the characters and their reactions don’t make much sense. The boy is constantly terrified, and his chief role involves pointing at things and screaming, punctuating every conflict in the book, like a bad horror film. Cannibals and dead infants are an okay (if cliche) place to start when it comes to unsettling the reader, but just having the characters react histrionically does not build tension, especially when the characters are too flat to be sympathetic in the first place. Another Creative Writing 101 lesson: if you have to resort to over-the-top character reactions to let the audience know how they are supposed to feel, then your ’emotional moment’ isn’t working. It’s the literary equivalent of a laugh track.

You know what’s more unsettling than a child screaming when he finds a dead infant? A child not screaming when he finds a dead infant. And really, that’s the more likely outcome. The young boy has never known another world–his world is death and horror. Anyone who has seen a picture of a Rwandan boy with an AK can see how children adapt to what’s around them. And you know what would make a great book? A father who remembers the old world trying to prevent his son from becoming a callous monster because of the new one.

But no, we get a child who inexplicably reacts as if he’s used to the good life in suburbia and all this death and killing is completely new to him, even though we’ve watched him go through it half a dozen times already. The characters never grow numb to it, they never seem to suffer PTSD, their reactions are more akin to angst.

Every time there is a problem, the characters just fold in on themselves and give up. People really only do that when they have the luxury of sitting about and ruminating on what troubles them. When there is a sudden danger before us, we might run, or freeze, but there’s hardly time to feel sorry for ourselves.

There is no joy or hope in this book–not even the fleeting, false kind. Everything is constantly bleak. Yet human beings in stressful, dangerous situations always find ways to carry on: small victories, justifications, or even lies and delusions. The closest this book gets is ‘The Fire’, which is the father’s term for why they must carry on through all these difficulties. But replace ‘The Fire’ with ‘The Plot’ and you’ll see what effect is achieved: it’s not character psychology, but authorial convenience. Apparently, McCarthy cannot even think of a plausible reason why human beings would want to survive.

There is nothing engaging about a world sterilized of all possibility. People always create a way out, even when there is none. What is tragic is not a lack of hope, but misplaced hope. I could perhaps appreciate a completely empty world as a writing exercise, but as McCarthy is constantly trying to provoke emotional reactions, he cannot have been going for utter bleakness.

The Road is a canvas painted black, so it doesn’t mater how many more black strokes he layers on top: they will not stand out because there is no contrast, there is no depth, no breaking or building of tension, just a constant addition of featureless details to a featureless whole. Some people seem to think that an emotionally manipulative book that makes people cry is better than one that makes people horny–but at least people don’t get self-righteous about what turns them on.

This is tragedy porn. Suburban malaise is equated with the most remote and terrible examples of human pain. So, dull housewives can read it and think‘yes, my ennui is just like a child who stumbles across a corpse’, and perhaps she will cry, and feel justified in doing so. Or a man might read it and think‘yes, my father was distant, and it makes me feel like I live alone in a hostile world I don’t care to understand’; he will not cry, but he will say that he did.

And so the privileged can read about how their pain is the same as the pain of those starving children they mute during commercial breaks. In the perversity of modern, invisible colonialism–where a slave does not wash your clothes, but builds the machine that washes them–these self-absorbed people who have never starved or had their lives imperiled can think of themselves as worldly, as ‘one with humanity’, as good, caring people.

They recycle. They turn the water off when they brush their teeth. They buy organic. They even thought about joining the Peace Corps. Their guilt is assuaged. They are free to bask in their own radiant anguish.

And it all depresses me–which makes me a shit, because I’m no more entitled to it than any other well-fed, educated winner of the genetic lottery. So when I read this book, I couldn’t sympathize with that angst and think it justified, just like I couldn’t with Holden’s. I know my little existential crisis isn’t comparable to someone who has really lost control of their life, who might actually lose life.

But this kind of egotistical detachment has become typical of American thought, and of American authors, whose little, personal, insular explorations don’t even pretend to look at the larger world. Indeed, there is a self-satisfied notion that trying to look at the world sullies the pure artist.

And that ’emotionally pure, isolated author’ is what we get from the Oprah interview. Sure, she’s asking asinine questions, but McCarthy shows no capacity to discuss either craft or ideas, refusing to take open-ended questions and discuss writing, he instead laughs condescendingly and shrugs. Then again, he may honestly not have much insight on the topic.

Looked at in this way, it’s not surprising he won the Pulitzer. Awards committees run on politics, and choosing McCarthy is a political decision–an attempt to declare that insular, American arrogance is somehow still relevant. But the world seems content to move ahead without America and its literature, which is why no one expects McCarthy–or any American author–to win a Nobel any time soon.

This book is a paean to the obliviousness of American self-importance in our increasingly global, undifferentiated world. One way or the other, it will stand as a testament to the last gasp of a dying philosophy: either we will collapse under our own in-fighting and short-sightedness, or we will be forced to evolve into something new and competitive–a bloated reputation will carry you only so far.

But then, the Pulitzer committee is renowned for picking unadventurous winners–usually an unremarkable late entry by an author past their prime. As William Gass put it:

“the prize is simply not given to work of the first rank, rarely even to the second; and if you believed yourself to be a writer of that eminence, you are now assured of being over the hill”

To any genre reader, this book will have a familiar and unpleasant taste, the same one LeGuin has often lamented: that of the big name author slumming. They pop into fantasy or sci fi with their lit fic credentials to show us little folk ‘how it’s really done’–but know nothing about the genre or its history, and just end up reinventing the wheel, producing a book that would have been tired and dated thirty years ago. Luckily for such writers, none of their lit fic critics know anything about other genres–any sort of bland rehash will feel fresh to them, as long as you have the name-recognition to get them to look in the first place.

So, McCarthy gets two stars for a passable (if cliche) script for a sci fi adventure movie, minus one star for unconscionable denigration of human suffering. I couldn’t say if McCarthy’s other books are any good; I will probably try another, just to see if any part of his reputation is deserved, but this one certainly didn’t help. All I see is another author who got too big for his editors and, finding himself free to write whatever he wanted–only proved that he no longer has anything worth saying.

“Look, if the contemporary condition is hopelessly shitty, insipid, materialistic, emotionally retarded, sadomasochistic, and stupid, then I (or any writer) can get away with slapping together stories with characters who are stupid, vapid, emotionally retarded, which is easy, because these sorts of characters require no development. With descriptions that are merely lists … Where stupid people say insipid stuff to each other. If what’s always distinguished bad writing–flat characters, a narrative world that’s … not recognizably human, etc.–is also a description of today’s world, then bad writing becomes an ingenious mimesis of a bad world … most of us agree that these are dark times, and stupid ones, but do we need fiction that does nothing but dramatize how dark and stupid everything is?”

-David Foster Wallace

 

2016 Goal-Plan

5 Jan

I have to be in a certain mood to really write, and though I want to be–today I’m just not.  Tuesday is my most tired day of the week, so maybe that had everything to do with it.  I’ll try though, because I do see the new year as a perfect time for new beginnings, and per the usual I want to grow as a person and be better.  I’ve catagorized my goals and plan to MAKE plans of actions to attack them.

element fairy

BODY

things I’m already doing, or kind of doing

-running.  I’ve certainly been running and it’s a good stabilizing force, and probably the most healthful thing I do.  Though I’m not going to lie–nearly every single day (and this is day 733 in a row) I want to lazy out.  At this point it would take a LOT to make me break the chain, because that many days in a row is spectacular, but it’s pretty hard to get the motivation to put on that sports bra.  I’ll continue on, for who knows how long.  [time-line:  daily]

-water.  I’ve been drinking it daily like I never used to.  I’m trying to get all 12 cups per day (to account for sweating in heat/working out/eating salt/drinking caffeine) and it’s hard.  They key is drinking as much as I can early in the day.   [time-line:  daily, and early in the day]

-flossing.  It seems a constant battle.  Obviously, I want to do it, but it’s just a matter of DOING it, which is often easier said then done.  I think I’ve been pretty successful at doing it before I brush my teeth for work.  In the afternoon, before I’m really tired.   [time-line:  daily, and before I brush my teeth for work]

-Appearance is just one of those things that isn’t SUPER important to me.  I’m a very low-maintenance gal when it comes to grooming and beauty.  But, in the interest of just feeling more motivated for work and looking mature and everything, I’d like to continue wearing makeup on work days (except Sunday, when nobody really sees me and I’m there for 10+ hours).   [time-line:  daily, before work]

things to start

-Going to the dentist!  And this is for sure happening this year.  I’ll get insurance through my work, so just as soon as it kicks in, I’m making the call.  I’ve already research dentists here, and plan on getting the full cleaning, and all x-rays, then setting up a regular 6 month schedule.  What a relief!   [time-line:  call Tuesday, the 12th of January]

-I need to pain my nails more.  It’s an easy thing to do and I have a lot of pretty colors.   [time-line:  Fridays, during the day]

-And I should wear my beautiful jewelry more.  Those are really easy things that add an extra touch of niceness.   [time-line:  Monday, Wednesday, +/- Thursday]

-I’d also like to take more care fixing my hair.  Instead of a pony-tail, maybe a braid or rows, or a nice barrette.  And, as a more expensive, and long-term thing, this year I’d like to start permanently dying my hair.  To cover all those grays cropping up.  I need to schedule a consult to see what the EASIEST color would be so I can just go as far apart as possible and get my roots touched-up after the initial appointment.  Which won’t necessarily be a color I like, but it will get the job done and be cheaper and lower maintenance.   [time-line:  Monday, Thursday to start]

Erin_Hanson_The_Path

MIND

things I’m already doing, or kind of doing

-I am such a different person than I used to be.  I have learned not to make work my life.  I’m not centering everything around it, or letting myself get stressed out over it.  I don’t even check what color tasks I will be responsible for the next week when I’m there on Sundays.   [time-line:  daily]

things to start

-reading more for pleasure.  I want to do the book challenge that specifies different types of books.  The trouble will be finding the time in the week to just sit and read.  I think on a daily basis, between work, tiredness, it’s difficult just to get my run in.  But on my days off and especially on Sundays I think I can make time.  And three days a week of reading is still more then I’m doing now.   [time-line:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday]

-read/outline my undergrad textbooks and notebooks.  This will serve 2 purposes:  1)  it will utilize some of that money I’m paying in school-loans and not make my degree seem quite so pointless.  I feel like I’m paying all this money back, yet I never USED my education for anything.  2)  I might learn the material better without the pressure of multiple classes, regurgitating info for tests, and papers and projects.  I can learn the stuff at my pace and the stuff I find interesting/important.  And a surprise 3rd advantage–I might be able to clean some of it out and get rid of it once I’ve looked at it.   [time-line:  Thursdays during the day?  Try it and see if this day works, then reevaluate]

Erin_Hanson_Crystal_Light

SPIRIT

things I’m already doing, or kind of doing

-be more consistent about adding a weekly item to my positivity jar.  I do it, but not that frequency.   [time-line:  Sunday night]

things to start

-I newed to re-start thinking of all the things I’m thankful for daily.  I really liked it, and it was an easy thing to do, which also had the benefit of re-focusing my attention from worrk to gratitude.  I just sort of fell out of the habit the less stressed and the happier I got.   [time-line:  daily, before sleeping]

-painting for enjoyment.  It’s a nice hobby that Cool and I can do together.  I want to paint light switch covers and finish my totem painting series.   [time-line:  Friday or Saturday, twice a month]

erinhanson4

CLEAN/ORGANIZE

things I’m already doing, or kind of doing

-keep up on apartment cleaning schedule.  This should be OK and easy, because I can’t live with the mess.  Also, I have calender reminders set up in a routine I like.  This will be helpful to keep on everything around home so there need not be any huge cleaning days and at move out we hopefully will not have a Riverton Terrace clean-up/fine situation.   [time-line:  follow calender]

-make a shopping list.  I always do this, but lately it’s been more of a long-term list then is really helpful.  I need to buy the items at least twice a month and start a new list.   [time-line:  as needed]

 

things to start

-scan all my photos and back them up on my external hard-drive to cut down on albums.   [time-line:  tomorrow–get it done ASAP]

-Also consolidate my scrapbooks, and make power-points or DVDs of some of the materials to save space (and future moving hassle).   [time-line:  next Wednesday, January 13th]

-set a consistent grocery shopping day!  Problem is I hate it.  But in order to cook, I need ingredients on hand, so this has to happen.  I think every other Sunday after work will be a less-busy convenient day (relatively) to go.   [time-line:  every other Sunday, starting January 17th]

erinhanson5

SOCIAL

things I’m already doing, or kind of doing

-I have also learned not to place the expectations I have for myself on people at work.  Through experience, I realized that only creates social problems and makes me stressed and resentful.  People aren’t going to have my drive or dedication, and it’s not my problem.  So a huge goal is to keep that up, because I really am bunches happier for it.   [time-line:  continuous]

-make a firm cooking date with Cool.  We love to cook together and it makes the following week a lot smoother.  Friday or Saturday depending on what else is going on will work well.   [time-line:  Saturday, January 9th]

 

things to start

-2015 was AWFUL for blogging!  I didn’t do it, when I did it felt like an obligation, and it wasn’t too technically great of writing either–much like that last sentence.  Partially, it was because 2015 was such a transitional year.  Partially, I was too tired and adjusting to a new work schedule.  And it didn’t happen a lot, because I was happy hanging out with Cool, and didn’t want to “step away” to write by myself.  This year, I aim to be better than that, though I don’t know if I will go so far as to impose deadlines or post-numbers on myself.  After all, it supposed to be fun.   [time-line:  write again Thursday or Friday this week]

Joel K tree

Textbooks: When to Get the Most Money Back

6 Aug

I tracked the sell-back prices for two different textbooks over a year.

Again, I used a random online textbook comparison company.  Many will work, I’m not sure it really matter, just as long as you don’t sell anything back on campus.  Nothing is worse than paying $132 for one textbook and getting back $6 (if you’re lucky) when the semester is over!  The site I used is:

http://www.campusbooks.com/

I wrote the date:  the highest sell-back price for book #1; then the highest sell-back price for book #2.  Mostly I tracked the highest and 2nd highest prices for each book, but I started that a little later.  I also noted when Amazon made an appearance because they often trump everyone else’s prices.

The first book is:

Treatment Resource Manual for Speech Language Pathology

ISBN:  1111319782

The second book is:

Survival Guide for the Beginning Speech-Language Clinician

ISBN10 = 0890799814

 

For the first book, the highest prices were late October to early November ($96.19) and in August ($90-ish).  The lowest buy-back prices were late March ($8.50!) and April when they dipped down into the $20 range.

For the second book, the highest prices were pretty much when Amazon entered the buy-back mix, which was January (as high as $54), August (about $43),  and opposite of book one, late March early April ($40-$43). Which shows that it varies by book a little bit.  The lowest prices for book one were again opposite of the previous book.  The worst time to sell back was in November of 2014 when they dropped to $20-ish and this last June when they were again in the twenty dollar range.  The 2015 drop could mean a new edition came out or a better book came out.  So it’s good to wait until the book companies are paying more, but not so long that your book becomes obsolete since they’re always writing new ones.

So sell-back prices are more complex then the purchase price, because the school time-lines aren’t driving the process as much.  It looks like in general, August is a good time to sell.  But you might want to check frequently for the best prices on your particular book or sell to people at your own school.

bear buddies

Here’s the data:

3/14/14: $60/$30;
5/14: $54/$30;
6/10: $86/37; $38.50
6/15: $57, $36.50
6/19: $55; $35
7/1: $84;$34
7/8/14: $84.10; $35.25
7/13: $84.10; $31.25
7/28: $81.30; $31.00
8/3, 8/4: $81.90; $36.75
8/5: $81.90; $35
8/7: $85.91; $35
8/10: $90.54; $36.50
8/11: $90.54; $37.13
8/12: $90.53; $37.25
8/13: $84.88; $37.75
8/14: $84.90; $37.90
8/15/14: $84.90; $41.93 (Amazon appeared), 2nd highest is $38.12
8/17″ $90.53 (Amazon appeared); $43.17 (Amazon), $42.44
8/19: $90.54 (Amazon), $84 (2nd most); $43.17 (Amazon), $42.44 (2nd best)
8/20: $90.53 (Amazon), $84 (2nd); $43.25, $43.17 (Amazon)
8/22: $90.53 (Amazon), $84 (2nd); $43.80, $43.78 (Amazon)
8/24: $89.53 (Amazon), $56.25 (2nd); $40.36 (Amazon), $36.68 (2nd best)
8/26: $89.53 (Amazon), 54.27 (2nd); $40.36 (Amazon), $33.25 (2nd)
8/28: $89.53 (Amazon), $57.50 (2nd); $33.14 (Amazon), $31.91 (2nd)
9/2: $83.06 (Amazon), $53.25 (2nd); $37.38 (Amazon), $34.50 (2nd)
9/4/14: $80.22 (Amazon), $55.13 (2nd); $37.80 (Amazon), $33.50 (2nd)
9/5: no more Amazon, $58.25, $22.07 (2nd); $38.16 (Amazon), $33.50 (2nd)
9/10: $83.06 (Amazon), $56.50 (2nd); $39.60 (Amazon), $33.50 (2nd)
9/14: $83.06 (Amazon), $56.50 (2nd); $35.40 (Amazon), $35.00 (2nd)
9/15: $83.06 (Amazon),$56.50 (2nd); $35.00, $34.73 (Amazon is 2nd)
9/18: $83.06 (Amazon), $56.50 (2nd); $37.00 (no Amazon)
9/21: $83.06 (Amazon), $52.41 (2nd); $35.00 (Amazon), $35.00 (2nd)
9/22: $83.06 (Amazon), $55.75 (2nd); $35.00, $33.00, $32.93 (Amazon 3rd)
9/25: $83.06 (Amazon), $55.76 (2nd); $35.00 (Amazon = 2nd)
9/28: $83.06 (Amazon), $59.25 (2nd); $35.00, no Amazon
10/1: $83.06 (Amazon), $59.25 (2nd); $35.00, $33.00 (2nd), $31.52 (Amazon)
10/4: $83.06 (Amazon), $54.75 (2nd); $35.00, $33.00 (2nd), $31.45 (Amazon)
10/8: $83.06 (Amazon), $54.75 (2nd); $33.25, $33.00 (2nd), $31.35 (Amazon)
10/12: $83.06 (Amazon), $53.00 (2nd); $31.14, $30.00 (2nd)
10/16: $84.95 (Amazon), $51.25 (2nd); $31.14, $22.50 (2nd)
10/20: $96.19 (Amazon), $41.50 (2nd); $31.14, $20.00 (2nd)
10/22: $96.19 (Amazon), $41.50 (2nd); $31.14, $21.25 (2nd)
10/25: $96.19 (Amazon), $41.50 (2nd); $31.14, $20.25 (2nd)
10/27: $96.19 (Amazon), $43.18 (2nd); $31.14, $21.25 (2nd)
10/30: $96.19 (Amazon), $41.50 (2nd); $31.14, $21.25 (2nd)
11/3: $96.19 (Amazon), $43.18 (2nd); $34.75, $20.50 (2nd)
11/5: $96.19 (Amazon), $45.75 (2nd); $26.13, $24.31 (2nd)
11/7/14: $96.19 (Amazon), $43.18 (2nd); $32.00, $28.50 (2nd)
11/9: $96.19 (Amazon), $46.50 (2nd); $33.00, $31.14 (2nd)
11/11: $96.19 (Amazon), $44.50 (2nd); $31.00, $24.32 (Amazon)
11/15: $96.19 (Amazon), $46.25 (2nd); $33.25, $31.25 (2nd)
11/17: $76.64 (Amazon), $46.25 (2nd); $33.00, $31.25 (2nd)
11/19: $77.64 (Amazon), $46.25 (2nd); $33.25, $31.25 (2nd)
11/22: $77.64 (Amazon), $43.18 (2nd); $27.81, $24.93 (2nd)
11/25: $81.14 (Amazon), $45.75 (2nd); $29.50, $27.86 (2nd)
11/27: $81.14 (Amazon), $45.75 (2nd); $29.50, $28.28 (2nd)
11/29: $81.14 (Amazon), $45.75 (2nd); $29.50, $28.62 (2nd)
12/1: $83.64 (Amazon), $45.75 (2nd); $30.00, $29.30 (Amazon)
12/3: $83.64 (Amazon), $46.25 (2nd); $31.25, $29.67 (Amazon)
12/5: $83.64 (Amazon), $46.25 (2nd); $29.49, (Amazon) $29.25
12/8: $87.14 (Amazon), $49.50 (2nd); $29.55 (Amazon), $29.50 (2nd)
12/10: $88.17 (Amazon), $47.25 (2nd); $32.50, $29.85 (Amazon)
12/11: $88.17 (Amazon), $49.25 (2nd); $32.25, $30.25
12/13: $88.17 (Amazon), $50.25 (2nd); $32.25, $30.25 (2nd)
12/15: $88.17 (Amazon), $50.25 (2nd); $32.00, $30.00 (2nd)
12/16: $88.17 (Amazon), $36.75 (2nd); $32.25, $30.00 (2nd)
12/18: $88.17 (Amazon), $39.00 (2nd); $31.45, $30.00 (2nd)
12/20: $88.17 (Amazon), $80.50 (2nd); $31.75, $29.75 (2nd)
12/22: $88.17 (Amazon), $80.50 (2nd); $31.50, $30.04 (2nd)
12/23: $80.75, $78.75 (2nd); $31.50, $30.30 (Amazon)
12/25: $86.50, $84.50 (2nd); $32.25, $30.28 (Amazon)
12/29: $86.25, $84.25 (2nd); $34.50, $34.20 (2nd)
12/31/14: $81.25, $76.13 (Amazon); $36.82, $34.80 (2nd)
1/2/15: $81.63 (Amazon), $45.50 (2nd); $39.00, $37.01
1/5: $45.50, $43.00 (2nd); $39.00, $38.00 (2nd)
1/7: $49.25, $46.00 (2nd); $38.00, $37.62 (Amazon)
1/9: $49.00, $44.55 (2nd); $38.10 (Amazon), $38.00 (2nd)
1/13: $58.75, $57.00 (2nd); $39.23 (Amazon), $38.00 (2nd)
1/15: $67.25, $63.00 (2nd); $41.00, $40.04 (Amazon)
1/17: $64.75, $62.75 (2nd); $40.00, $39.69 (Amazon)
1/20: $70.00, 68.25 (2nd); $38.00, $36.48 (Amazon)
1/22: $72.25, $70.25 (2nd); $38.00, $35.67 (Amazon)
1/23: $72.25, $70.25 (2nd); $38.00, $35.97 (Amazon)
1/26: $74.25, $58.81 (Amazon); $38.00, $35.23 (Amazon)
1/27: $74.50, $68.80 (2nd); $38.00, $37.25 (2nd)
1/29: $74.50, $70.54 (Amazon); $54.24 (Amazon), $38.00 (2nd)
1/31: $79.78 (Amazon), $74.75; $45.52 (Amazon), $40.00
2/2: $67.10, $29.75 (2nd); $45.82 (Amazon), $40.00
2//4: $34.53 (Amazon), $29.75 (2nd); $46.41 (Amazon), $40.00 (2nd)
2/9/15: $40.00, $39.73 (Amazon); $37.50, $33.65 (2nd)
2/13: $37.50, $33.65; $40.50, $39.66 (Amazon)
2/16: $35.75, $31.95; $42.18 (Amazon), $42.00 (2nd)
2/17: $34.00, $30.30 (2nd); $42.00, $40.00 (2nd)
2/19: $35.75, $31.95 (2nd); $35.75, $35.50 (2nd)
2/20: $35.75, $31.95 (2nd); $35.75, $35.50 (2nd)
2/23: $35.75, $31.95 (2nd); $35.75, $35.50 (2nd)
3/2/15: $34.00, $30.05 (2nd); $38.00, $35.75 (2nd)
3/4: $36.00, $32.20 (2nd); $40.25, $38.25 (2nd)
3/6: $34.00, $30.30 (2nd); $40.25, $38.25 (2nd)
3/9: $34.00, $30.30 (2nd); $42.50, $40.50 (2nd)
3/11: $32.25, $28.40 (2nd); $40.50, $38.25 (2nd)
3/16: $8.10, $6.52 (2nd); $43.00, $41.00 (2nd)
3/18: $8.10, $7.49 (2nd); $44.85, $38.00 (2nd)
3/20: $8.50, $8.10 (2nd); $38.00, $37.95 (2nd)
3/22: $8.50, $8.10 (2nd); $37.95, $37.76 (2nd)
3/24: $26.23 (Amazon), $17.98 (2nd); $38.25 (Amazon), $36.30 (2nd)
3/25: $26.23 (Amazon), $16.62 (2nd); 38.53 (Amazon), $35.00 (2nd)
3/26: $19.25, $16.30 (2nd); $38.75 (Amazon), $35.00 (2nd)
3/29: $26.23 (Amazon), $8.10 (2nd); $39.62 (Amazon), $32.50 (2nd)
3/30/15: $27.75, $26.78 (2nd); $43.45, $41.50 (2nd)
3/31: $54.50, $54.00 (2nd); $40.01 (Amazon), $36.30 (2nd)
4/2: $54.50, $54.25 (2nd); $40.34 (Amazon), $36.30 (2nd)
4/4: $57.75, $26.32 (2nd-Amazon); $40.74 (Amazon), $35.00 (2nd)
4/7: $57.75, $26.32 (2nd-Amazon); $41.10 (Amazon); $32.50 (2nd)
4/9: $30.50, $29.70 (2nd); $41.11 (Amazon), $32.50 (2nd)
4/11/15: $27.75, $26.78 (2nd); $32.50, $30.52 (2nd)
4/12: $28.50, $27.55 (2nd); $32.50, $30.52 (2nd)
4/14: $28.25, $27.33 (2nd); $32.50, $30.25 (2nd)
4/16: $29.00, $26.82 (2nd); $32.50 (2 companies), $32.02 (3rd)
4/18: $29.00, $26.82 (2nd); $32.50, $28.07 (2nd)
4/21: $28.50, $26.30 (2nd); $32.50, $28.87 (2nd)
4/24: $20.75, $17.70 (2nd); $32.50, $30.75 (2nd)
4/25: $20.75, $17.70 (2nd); $32.50, $30.75 (2nd)
4/29/15: $54.20 (x2), $20.75 (2nd); $35.00, $34.80 (2nd)
4/30: $57.50 (x2), $54.20 (2nd); $35.00, $34.80 (2nd)
5/2: $54.20 (x2), $32.75 (x2) (2nd); $35.00, $30.50 (2nd)
5/5: $57.50 (x2), $54.20 (2nd); $32.25, $31.75 (2nd)
5/7: $61.00 (x2), $58.80 (2nd); $35.50, $31.09 (2nd)
5/9: $61.00 (x2), $58.74 (2nd); $35.50, $31.34 (2nd)
5/12: $64.50 (x2), $62.21 (2nd); $35.75, $31.34 (2nd)
5/14: $68.50 (x2), $66.25 (2nd); $35.75, $31.75 (2nd)
5/16: $68.50 (x2), $66.36 (2nd); $35.75, $32.50 (2nd)
5/18: $72.50 (x2), $72.24 (2nd); $36.00, $31.75 (2nd)
5/20: $72.50 (x2), $70.45 (2nd); $36.25, $31.82 (2nd)
5/22: $77.00 (x2), $74.70 (2nd); $36.50, $32.06 (2nd)
5/23: $77.00 (x2), $74.86 (2nd); $36.50, $32.50 (2nd)
5/25: $81.50 (x2), $79.70 (2nd); $36.50, $32.50 (2nd)
5/27: $75.70, $75.25 (2nd); $36.75, $32.30 (2nd)
5/30/15: $73.50, $70.00 (2nd); $37.25, $33.03 (2nd)
6/2: $77.75, $75.44 (2nd); $37.50, $33.03 (2nd)
6/4: $82.50, $80.22 (2nd); $37.50, $33.27 (2nd)
6/5: $82.25, $79.95 (2nd); $37.50, $33.28 (2nd)
6/8/15: $82.25, $82.01 (2nd); $38.00, $33.51 (2nd)
6/10: $80.90, $80.50 (2nd); $38.25, $33.99 (2nd)
6/15: $77.25, $73.10 (2nd); $29.00, $28.75 (2nd)
6/16: $77.25, $73.10 (2nd); $29.00, $28.75 (2nd)
6/18: $81.75, $61.72 (2nd); $31.00, $30.75 (2nd)
6/25: $82.00 (x2), $75.90 (3rd); $28.25, $28.00 (2nd)
6/29/15: $80.25 (x2), $75.90 (3rd); $30.25, $30.00 (2nd)
7/2: $80.25 (x2), $74.30 (3rd); $29.00, $28.75 (2nd)
7/8: $74.00 (x2), $64.00 (3rd); $28.50, $
8/615: $65.50 (x2), $60.30 (x2) (3rd); $33.75, $31.85 (2nd)

Buy Textbooks At The Cheapest Price

4 Aug

WHEN is that, you ask? Well, it’s complicated.

I used Cheapbooks.com to track prices for Fundamentals of Phonetics by Larry H. Small over a year.  Here’s the link:

http://cheapbooks.com/search_director.cgi?catalog=162&query=9780132582100+&submit=Search

 

I found that the best RENTAL prices are in June (under $16).  Which may or not be helpful since a rental time-line is involved.  But that makes renting cool too, because you could have the book for 3 months, 6 months, or a semester–whatever is most useful for YOU.  But, that cheap summer rental period may not extend through your entire semester.  But for summer sessions, maybe the quarter system (I’m largely unfamiliar with it), and if you don’t mind returning books before finals, that might work out.  July is next cheapest with prices of $23-$24.  So rent, pretty much right before fall semester starts to get the best deal.  Renting is not such a sure bet for winter/spring semester.  The prices climb (to a high of $104 in December and January), and from January through April, my particular book wasn’t available for rental at ALL.  But I really think renting, in the fall apparently, is the best investment.  As long as you remember to return the books–to the proper company.  Do NOT do what I did and forget altogether OR what I did in a different semester, turn it in to the wrong company!  What ended up helping me was to use the rental receipt with dates, company, and numbers as my bookmark for the duration of the time I used the book.

I did not bother around with NEW textbook prices at all, because my target audience here is not the spoiled princesses of the world.  Let’s be real here, we’re the USED book-buying types, yes?  The difference in quality between used and new books is minimal, so the value for brand new, isn’t very good.  The book companies are pretty picky about what returns they will accept and I’ve rarely received used books with any markings in them.  There might be one or two highlights, but usually after chapter one, writing-IN-books people peter out on the reading.  And on that note, don’t write/highlight IN your books.  RENTAL (especially), USED, or NEW.  You might end up having to purchase the rental, you’ll get a lower price when you try to return a marked-in used book, and writing in a book you plan to keep means when you go back and try to use it–you’ve answered all the questions already.  So read with a computer or notebook, so you can write important things down OUTSIDE of the book.

USED prices were lowest September through November ($23.16) and then very briefly June 9th ($22.70) with large differences between the best and 2nd best prices.  Prices were highest in December ($93.49) when everyone had sold their books back and companies were flush with stock.

The moral?  IF you can stand to wait until after the semester has started (and take the chance your particular book won’t be sold out everywhere) that’s when prices were lowest for my book.  And if you can buy ahead for winter/sping–that’s best, because prices never really fell back to their June-November rates.

Here are the numbers:

9780132582100
for phonetics

https://www.bookrenter.com/return/new
sign in w/Facebook

7/1 = rent for $17; used for $71
7/8: rent $17; used $81.98
7/13 = rent $24
7/28 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/11 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/17 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/18 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/19 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/20 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
8/26 = rent: $22.98; used: $63.28
9/2 = rent: $22.98; used: $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
9/3 = rent: $22.98; used: $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
9/5 = rent: $22.98; used: $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
9/10 = rent: $22.98; used: $23.15, $24.20
9/14 = rent: $22.98; used: $23.16, $24.20
9/24 = rent: $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
10/4 = rent: $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
10/18 = rent: $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
11/8 = rent $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
11/11 = rent $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
11/15 = rent $22.98; used $23.16, $24.20 (2nd)
–>DRAMATIC PRICE CHANGE<–
11/19 = rent $101.83; used $81.38, $83.98 (2nd)
11/22 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $83.98 (2nd)
11/25 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $83.98 (2nd)
11/27 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
11/29 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
12/1 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $90.00 (2nd)
12/3 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
12/5 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
12/7 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
12/11 = rent $103.83; used $81.38, $93.49 (2nd)
12/15 = rent $60.57; used $93.49, $132.00 (2nd)
12/16 = rent $60.57; used $93.49, $132.00 (2nd)
12/19 = rent $60.57; used $93.49, $132.00 (2nd)
12/20 = rent $60.57; used $93.49, $132.00 (2nd)
12/23 = rent $86.00; used $86, $93.49 (2nd)
12/25 = rent $60.57; used $86, $93.49 (2nd)
12/29 = rent $60.57; used $86.00, $93.49 (2nd)
1/2 = rent $51.14; used $93.49, $97.72 (2nd)
1/5 = rent $51.14; used $93.49, $97.72 (2nd)
1/8 = rent $51.14; used $93.49, $97.72 (2nd)
1/13 = rent $51.26; used $82.53, $108.46 (2nd)
1/15 = rent $51.26; used $82.53, $108.46 (2nd)
1/17 = rent $51.26; used $82.53, $108.46 (2nd)
1/20 = rent $55.07; used $76.71, $80.84 (2nd)
1/22 = rent $55.07; used $76.71, $80.84 (2nd)
1/23 = rent $55.07; used $76.71, $80.84 (2nd)
1/27 = rent none left; used $73.48, $109.78 (2nd)
1/29 = rent none left; used $73.48, $109.78 (2nd)
1/31 = rent N/A; used $73.48, $109.78 (2nd)
2/4 = rent none left; used $81.45, $82.17 (2nd)
2/9 = rent none; used $81.45, $82.17 (2nd)
2/13 = rent none; used $81.45, $82.17 (2nd)
2/17 = rent none; used $72.48,$81.45 (2nd)
2/20 = rent $39.09; used $65.10, $78.49 (2nd)
2/23 = rent none; used $70.27, $95.54 (2nd)
3/2 = rent none; used $45.09, $95.54 (2nd)
3/4 = rent none; used $45.09, $95.54 (2nd)
3/9 = rent none; used $45.09, $95.54 (2nd)
3/16 = rent none; used $55.49, $95.54 (2nd)
3/18 = rent none; used $55.49, $95.54 (2nd)
3/22 = rent none; used $55.49, $95.54 (2nd)
3/26 = rent none; used $39.49, $95.54 (2nd)
3/29 = rent none; used $39.49, $95.54 (2nd)
4/2 = rent none; used $39.49, $95.54 (2nd)
4/5 = rent none; used $55.92, $95.54 (2nd)
4/7 = rent none; used $55.92, $95.54 (2nd)
4/10 = rent none; used $55.92, $95.54 (2nd)
4/12 = rent $30.64; used $52.91, $55.95 (2nd)
4/14 = rent $30.64; used $52.91, $55.95 (2nd)
4/16 = rent $30.64; used $52.91, $55.95 (2nd)
4/18 = rent $32.58; used $52.52, $55.95 (2nd)
4/21 = rent $32.18; used $52.52, $55.95 (2nd)
4/24 = rent $32.18; used $52.52, $55.95 (2nd)
4/25 = rent $32.18; used $52.52, $55.95 (2nd)
4/29 = rent $37.88; used $61.17, $74.25 (2nd)
4/30 = rent $37.88; used $61.17, $74.25 (2nd)
5/2 = rent $37.88; used $47.00, $53.21 (2nd)
5/5 = rent $33.88; used $38.55, $47.00 (2nd)
5/7 = rent $33.88; used $38.55, $47.00 (2nd)
5/9 = rent $33.88; used $38.55, $47.00 (2nd)
5/12 = rent $33.88; used $52.27, $55.40 (2nd)
5/14 = rent $35.61; used $51.86, $57.94 (2nd)
5/16 = rent $35.61; used $54.22, $75.41 (2nd)
5/18 = rent $35.61; used $54.23, $75.41 (2nd)
5/20 = rent $35.61; used $54.23, $75.41 (2nd)
5/23 = rent $35.48; used $73.49, $75.41 (2nd)
5/25 = rent $35.48; used $73.49, $75.41 (2nd)
5/27 = rent $35.48; used $73.49, $75.41 (2nd)
5/30 = rent $35.48; used $73.49, $75.41 (2nd)
6/2 = rent $15.27; used $28.56, $29.20 (2nd)
6/4 = rent $15.27; used $28.56, $29.20 (2nd)
6/5 = rent $15.27; used $28.56, $29.20 (2nd)
6/9 = rent $15.27; used $22.77, $26.31 (2nd)
6/10 = rent $15.27; used $29.45, $33.49 (2nd)
6/15 = rent $22.98; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
6/17 = rent $22.98; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
6/25 = rent $44.61; used $29.78, $33.27 (2nd)
6/29 = rent $44.61; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
7/2 = rent $44.61; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
7/8 = rent $23.74; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
7/13 = rent $23.70; used $38.00, $48.24 (2nd)
7/26/15 = rent $23.74; used $32.39, $65.24 (2nd)
8/3/15 = rent $36.15; used $47.00, $55.19 (2nd)

 

When to Buy and Sell Textbooks

3 Aug

In honor of back-to-school August!

It’s always a rip-off, but when can you minimize the pain? Textbooks cost around $100 per book and with 12 credits, you are probably looking at purchasing at least 4 and probably more like 6, because that one English or Anatomy teacher always feels like 3 required books are probably better. . .  That adds up to about $300-$700 PER semester.  Which by the time you get a degree looks more like $1,800 to $5,600 (if you’re REALLY unlucky, or changed your major), which is WAAAAAY too much when you also have to pay tuition, school fees, rent, transportation, food, and health-care.  Save money where you can–your books!  I may not have been writing in this blog often at all, but I have been doing research for you!  You’re welcome.

The Quad 2

But before we get to the data, let me mention (what I consider) the obvious.  Do NOT buy your textbooks from your campus bookstore.  Those are probably the most expensive prices of all.  Sure it’s easy, sure the bookstore is right there, but it’s totally not worth ti.  And do NOT sell your books back anywhere on campus.  Not the bookstore and not the easily accessible sidewalk stand on the way back to your dorm.  My first time around, I could not be bothered to mess about with shipping.  Or research.  And how much money I must have lost!  Let’s not think about it.  It’s really, really, REALLY worth it to bother around with shipping textbooks back and fourth.

Go to any textbook comparison website and find your books at the lowest price to purchase and highest sell-back.  I’ve chosen random sites that compare several book companies for the purpose of showing you it doesn’t really matter which company or site, but they’re all cheaper than campus.  Also, know that no one company always has the best prices, as you will soon see–they fluctuate dramatically ALL the time.

Walking about-July 2012 032

I picked 3 random textbooks (in my Speech & Hearing Sciences major) that I had to buy, then sell back in 2014.  I tracked the purchase price for renting the book and the top two lowest buying price for one book.  On that note, it’s a personal preference whether you want to buy new or used books, rent, or just borrow from the library.  It really depends on the course (make sure you have a chem book accessible ALL the time!!!) and your study style.  If you’re not going to read the books, just go to the library or borrow them from a friend.  But DO read your books–it does help, I swear!  Even if you’re not directly tested on the reading material (you rarely will be), and even if practice problems aren’t assigned to turn in.  It will help you build a foundation for learning, give practice problems, and have useful visuals.  Read.  Your.  Textbooks.  My 4.0 GPA (yup, I’m bragging–and will continue to do so for the rest of my LIFE) I earned the 2nd time around?  Largely due to reading every textbook.  Sometimes professors don’t explain things clearly or at all, and my textbooks gave me a leg up.  Seriously, find the time.

Should you keep the books?

I kept my undergrad textbooks that were in my major and minor.  And I have yet to look at ANY of them.  But I have moved heavy Animal Science, Nutrition, Biology, and Chemistry textbooks from apartment to apartment, state to state, and now they sit in my storage unit–in a different state.  I never used them at all, and they just collect dust losing their value as new editions come out (which is very frequently so publishers can make even MORE money on students).  I wish I would have rented them and saved myself money, muscle-soreness, and space.  Maybe you might want really good textbooks to refer to in your career–but be practical about it.  You probably won’t.  Remember how the info is updated ALL the time.  Go to the Internet, take CE credits, or subscribe to a journal instead.

For the other two books, I tracked the sell-back prices (highest and 2nd highest) over a year.  These trends might vary depending on major and stuff, but I imagine the principles of supply and demand are similar for all subjects.  So next up:  BUYING textbooks, and when the best time to do it is during the year.

Camels in Nevada

20 Jun

And yes, Joe Cool, but also the other kind was also in the state for awhile.Kidron's NV pics 063

I grew up in Dayton, and we had historic camel barns downtown.  And yet, I never really knew the story of camels in North America.  So last time I was at Walla Walla, I snatched up a book (The Last Camel Charge:  The Untold Story of America’s Desert Military Experiment, by Forrest Bryant Johnson) on the subject.  I highly reccommend the book, even though the NV history for which I purchased it was less than a chapter long–probably less than a page.

NV Feb 2010 147

Here is more or less (less) the short version of the story, copied from various (less reputable/researched) sources:

-Purchased by Jefferson Davis when he was the US Secretary of War in 1855.  He purchased 77 bactrian (two hump) and dromedary (one hump) camels in the Near East for southwest desert transport (2).

-Middle-Eastern Dromedary (1).

-Congress funded a small naval expedition which was quickly dispatched to the Arab nations along the Mediterranean. After eight months, this naval “Noah’s Ark” returned (4).

-US Camel Corps put together back in the mid 1800’s (3).

-The idea was to find alternate means of transportation in the dry and rough climate of the South Western United States. To put the plan into motion $30,000 was set aside on March 3rd, 1855. Although it took awhile traveling to the Middle East, the US eventually had 34 camels (3).

-Several handlers from the Middle East were also brought with the camels. The most famous was a Syrian named Hadji Ali, although he was called Hi Jolly. A second later shipment brought the number of US camels up to 77 (3).

-Edward F. Beale maintained the animals could haul materials for the military in the arid West. They could carry more than horse or mules, and they had a legendary ability to survive without much water (1).

-could carry 600 pounds for 30 miles in desert conditions without water (2).

-After their trial run, Beale put the camels up on his friend’s ranch, claiming that they should stay in California for future use if a war with the Mormons of Utah ever occurred. His friend, Samuel Bishop utilized the camels to haul freight on his own ranch and back and forth to Fort Tejon. The route taken to Fort Tejon passed through lands controlled by the Mojave Indians who often attacked civilian transports, but avoided any military soldiers. As Bishop was a civilian and the camel experiment currently officially a civilian experiment, no soldiers were with the camel caravans traveling from Bishop’s ranch to Fort Tejon. A large force of Mojave Indians threatened Bishop’s teamsters, forcing Bishop to order them to mount the camels and charge the attackers. The surprise charge of the teamsters on such strange beasts did in fact rout the Mojave Indians and also went down in history as probably the only camel charge in the west, which ironically was performed by civilians as opposed to the military (3).

-There are rumors of a few more experiments performed with the camels. They are attributed to the US army when it was still trying to find a use for the beasts. The first involved using the camels in an attempt to perform a pony express or “camel express”. Sadly in both the first and second attempt the camel dropped dead from exhaustion. It was determined that although the camel could carry enormous loads and travel for extended periods of time with little rest, food, or water, it was not an appropriate steed for a mailman to speedily deliver the mail, especially since its maximum speed appeared to be no faster than the mules already used to deliver the mail. In the second experiment, the army turned the camels over to a survey crew, mapping the Nevada / California border. The expedition became lost, was forced to abandon their equipment, lost their mules, and grew hopeless of ever surviving to see civilization. The camels took over the mission, led the crew back to Visalia, and saved the surveyors (3).

-The Civil War distracted the army from the experiment and the Deputy Quartermaster General for California got permission from the Secretary of War to sell off the animals.  A corral was built on the southern part of the arsenal property and all the camels were gathered from all over California to be auctioned off.  The local youngsters of Benicia earned extra money hauling water to the barns.
The 34 camels which were auctioned off brought a total of $1,495 in 1864 and were purchased by Samuel McLeneghan to haul freight to Nevada mining camps (2).

-By November 1863, the California Camels were put up for sale and purchased largely by zoos, circuses, and mining operations with a few camels going to private individuals such as Beale himself. Those camels remaining in Texas were sold off in 1865, though the government later reclaimed some of them as stolen property and then promptly released them into the desert on their own (3).

-Sam McLeneghan purchased ten of the Army’s Dromedaries for hauling supplies in the territory. Camels brought salt to mills in bothVirginia City and Austin (1).

-On his way to Virginia City with ten camels in 1864, McLeneghan stopped in Sacramento and staged a “Dromedary Race” in the city’s Agriculture Park. Some of the camels were recruited into circus acts; others were used by private freight-hauling and road construction outfits. Eventually, many of the poor beasts were abandoned in the desert, where some survived for years. Angry Wells Fargo stagecoach drivers complained of camels all the way from Lake Tahoe to Ely. Their teams panicked at every encounter with the strange, humped creatures. Even 30 years later, some wide-eyed prospector would stride into a Comstock saloon, belly up to the bar and tell the bartender of the bizarre “mirage” he had seen (4).

-They were resold again but only a few were purchased and the remaining camels were released into the desert where they startled travelers for years (2).

-In 1875, the Nevada legislature prohibited camels on public highways to safeguard horse traffic. This effectively ended the commercial use of camels (1).

-In Lyon County [my county of Dayton], if you let your camel stray, they threw you in jail for 30 days (4).

-The act was repealed in 1899 (3).

-Operators set many camels free while selling others to circuses. For decades, various people throughout the West reported seeing the wandering beasts throughout Nevada and the southwest (1).

-The last surviving camel died in 1934 in the Griffith Park Zoo in Los Angeles (2).

-Camels later assumed a different role in Nevada history and culture. In 1959, the revivedTerritorial Enterprise reported the results of a fictional camel race held in Virginia City. To the delight of residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the event as fact. The following year, actor-director John Houston, in northern Nevada for the filming of The Misfits, heard of the contest and became determined to ride in the “second annual” camel race. Virginia City held an actual competition, Houston won, and the annual camel races grew into a tradition celebrated to this day (1).

1)  http://www.onlinenevada.org/camels

2.)  http://www.beniciahistoricalmuseum.org/ArsenalHistory/arsenalhit_1860.htm

3.)  http://www.weirdca.com/location.php?location=36

4.)  http://www.thestormking.com/tahoe_nuggets/Nugget_190/nugget_190.html

 

Critique of “Unbearable Lightness”

12 Feb

I didn’t want to like this book.  I did not really know anything about Portia De Rossi (PdR) except she came out of seemingly nowhere to become Ellen Degeneres’ wife, then upon looking her up on Google, seeing she had played a few bit roles as a sorostitute-type.  I knew nothing else.  When I found out PdR had been on “Allie McBeal” and that she was one of the actresses with an evident, yet unacknowledged eating-disorder, I felt disdain for her.  That show, with it’s unattainable images of what a women is supposed to look like, did a lot of damage to impressionable females.  But many times, I’ll watch a documentary or read a biography of someone not very likeable and come away with understanding, sympathy, and sometimes even a changed opinion about them.  So I bought the book and gave PdR a chance to redeem herself.

Details are given about how PdR loses and maintains her low weight. This is problematic because it gives women ideas of how to diet, starve, binge, and purge. Also, the details devulged are talked about as if they’re completely normal line of thought and activity. There is no sense that what PdR is disordered, which normalizes the events to the reader.

This book made me disappointed in L’Oreal.  Throughout the book (through the lens of anorexia) they are seen as uncaring, unsympathetic, and uncompromising of the type of women they portray.  The company made PdR feel fat and ugly and immoral, with its horrible fitting of small gray dresses, it’s fancy meetings at the Four Seasons, and the morality clause in the contract.  PdR showed that despite their slogan of “I’m worth it” they are implicitly sending the message that only a narrow category of women (slim and straight to start with) actually ARE worth it.

I thought the L’Oreal stuff in the book should have been accompanied by details about “Allie McBeal’s” culture of eating disorders or left out all-together.  L’Oreal was villanized (rightly so it sounds like) while the issue of competition between actresses was carefully skirted.  PdR is VERY careful not to mention the other celebrities on the set with evident eating disorders that must have furthered her own eating issues.  If L’Oreal is fair game, why shouldn’t Callista Flockhart get mention?

I absolutely loved that with the doctor’s bad news of all the internal damage done by starving, pictures were shown of what she looked like at the time.  It sent the implicit message that though Hollywood, and the world at large demanded thinness, and it may be misconstrued as beautiful, it came with consequences.  It was very dramatic.  My favorite part of the book by far.

Somehow more weight (pun intended) was given to Ellen Degeneres, who barely appears in the book, then to PdR’s sexuality, though the homosexuality is said to be the root of the problem.  The fear of exposure, repression, desire of women, and her mom’s “acceptance” of her were only briefly mentioned.  I think she could have done more with those themes.  Yes, the book’s focus was the eating disorder, but I thought the lesbianism should have been dramatized more.

And I did not like the “Ellen saved my life” stuff.  Firstly, PdR doesn’t give herself credit for her recovery at all.  Can it be called recovery then?  It makes me wonder how far she’s actually come.  PdR thought of Ellen as some sort of hero throughout the book–from the time she was young.  I don’t really think their relationship could be balanced or equal because of that. Reading other reviews of the book, or even descriptions, I noticed how Ellen is mentioned in all of them.  Though she didn’t even know PdR during her seriously disordered eating phase, and really isn’t IN the book.  PdR will forever just be Ellen’s wife and submissive/passive/arm-candy.  Her third name-change says it all.  First PdR changed her name for Hollywood and this book details the fall-out of her trying to adhere to Hollywood’s idealized images of beauty.  Now she has changed her name for her wife.  Doesn’t this women know who SHE wants to be?  The end of the book just shows how the situation for PdR’s self-esteem hasn’t changed–just the focus.

And of course, I absolutely did NOT like how PdR ignorantly berates the dairy and meat industries at the end of the book.  She uses PETA-type jargon as if it’s the factual truth, saying that farm animals are treated inhumanely, and not healthy for human consumption anyway.  I wish celebrities would keep their mouths shut if they can’t share actual information.  It was an aside that wasn’t needed and was very judgmental in its pro-animal rights stance.  How hypocritical for a heavy smoker to be disdainful of the ill-effects of milk and meat!  Smoking and how she wanted to do it all the time, or was taking drags everywhere, is a large component of the book.  The restrictive diet actually reveals how she must still struggle with her food, too.  It takes a lot of discipline and effort to cut out entire food groups from your diet as she currently is being vegan(?)/vegetarian (?).

Though I had some problems with the book, and still don’t really like PdR, it WAS a riviting read.  I only half believe PdR wrote the book by herself, because the image she has cultivated for herself (or that the media has cultivated for her) is not observant, smart, wry, or perfectionist.  The language in the book was so advanced and varied–I was impressed!  Either way, I found myself putting aside my homework and tearing through the prose in just 3 days–while working nine hour days and attending class.  Well done, on such a page-turner.

 

Olympic Cynicism

27 Dec

So everyone know those Chinese gymnasts are waaay below the minimum age limit allowed.  It’s not fair, and one day we’ll all read how their Asian government doctored their birth certificates and they were really 8 and 10 year olds.  But, even more sinister is (maybe prevalent) steroid use.  After reading a book about The German Doping Scandal, where German (swimming) athletes were (sometimes unknowingly) given steroids that enhanced performance at the detriment of overall health, and a book about BALCO, the company that gave sprinter Marion Jones and baseball (anti)hero Barry Bonds steroid injections, I just can’t help but think the worst about athletes.

I LOVE watching the Olympics.  I have the greatest sense of pride when I watch the competitors.  And when I hear our national anthem it sometimes moves me to tears.  Even when the great performances are not from Americans, I highly respect the athletic prowess, determination, and loyalty to sport required to make it.

And I used to trust in the Olympic drug testing.  But with incidents like Marion Jones, how can you?  Obviously, just like in every other arena (theft, drug-trafficking, etc) the criminals are ahead of science and regulators.  So now when I watch an incredible act of athleticism, instead of thinking how talented the person is, I wonder how long before they are caught cheating.  It almost ruins the whole thing for me.

I just know Usain Bolt, with his show-boating and seeming ease in the sprints, was on steroids. Maybe when science catches up with the criminals or when someone gets caught or steps forward, we’ll hear about it.  And certainly, I want to believe in Michael Phelps.  Eff those dirty “athletes” for casting the shadow of doubt over the true champions.  Phelps is perhaps the greatest athlete of all time–a real hero–despite weed indiscretion and obvious lack of intelligence (more on this later).  Feats such as his are so magical they are difficult to believe. I hope talent like that exists without the enhancement of illegal drugs, but who’s to know?

Shame on the people that damage the integrity of the games by taking illegal substances to enhance their performance.  Fans of sport such as myself should never have to wonder if the incredible speed, strength, agility, or endurance we are witnessing are for real.  Putting a question mark in the equation adds the seed of doubt to the whole fanfare.  The dirty “athletes” should be completely ashamed of themselves!