Its February 28th and the day opened with a giant thunderstorm. Its a bit early for thunderstorms in my opinion, but I guess I have to take what I can get. The real question is - is this actually spring or will there be more snow and ice to come? I am betting on more snow and ice. I seem to recall other Ohio years where I did something like clear out my garden bed during warm weather in February or early March and then watched the ground re-freeze afterwards.
I don't even want to think about my success on my various 2011 goals this past (short) month. It did not go well. I freely admit to it. Especially for the last week or so, things just fell apart. Admittedly, willingly on my part. I just lost total motivation. In general it has been a bad month for all types of motivation - whether it be at work, or for housework, or good eating habits, or good spending habits, or projects, or creativity, or pretty much anything. This weekend was the epitome of it. I spent the vast majority of time this weekend sitting in front of a television or sleeping (with some exception of course). I just couldn't get up and moving .... until about 7pm Sunday night, then all of the sudden I was gung ho. How does that always happen? So - My weekend went something like this: Friday night went out to get Pizza w/DH, then watched TV. Saturday, watched TV ALL DAY, until 3:30pm. Then showered, got dressed up and went out for a nice dinner at Michael O'Tooles and to the Symphony. It was a great fun evening. Sunday, got up, watched TV until 2:30pm, then cleaned the upstairs bathroom (thoroughly), then went and grabbed dinner, then watched the Oscars, did some dishes, sorted some laundry. Read. Went to bed.
Originally when I started this post I intended to go through my goals anyways (despite the strong desire to totally ignore them at the moment). I actually even wrote this up. Then I realized that it was just another 3-4 paragraphs of whining that nobody wants to read, so I deleted it. Suffice it to say - goals not going well, motivation to correct this very low at the moment. Such is life.
I can post two more book reviews? Is that less whiny?
Already Dead - recommended by my sister's friend/my friend from high school. Fast paced delicious read, I couldn't put it down. I don't really feel the need to apply the "what can people get out of this?" review type mainly since I really did enjoy it. Admittedly, as "low" fantasy (or whatever the opposite of "high" fantasy is), it is not at all outside of my realm, but thank you Xero for turning me onto a new series. With so much urban fantasy out there it can be tough to decide what to read.
Better Off - This is a book about an academic who was doing work arguing that technology is overused/not as inherently good as society treats it. Someone along the way (an advisor I believe?) pointed out that he really had no evidence/was not speaking from personal expierence. To remedy this he decided to take his new wife off to "Amish" country and live for a year w/out modern conveniences. On my personal scale, I would give this book 2.5 of 5 stars (in "my" rating system, as borrowed from goodreads.com, 2 stars means "its OK" and 3 stars means "I like it"). It was fine and has some interesting ideas, but it had some major issues. Let me get all of my complaints out of the way so I can get to the interesting ideas. First, I am unsure when it was written, or more significantly, how long after the experience it was written. During the text he implies that he wrote it as he was having the experience (living with the "Amish"), but then there are certain comments and the conclusion that imply he is actually writing it at least 5+ years after the experience. That is a big difference in terms of accurately reporting what happened and how he felt about it. It is also clear that the author has an agenda, which is never a good starting point to win my good graces in a book like this. The agenda becomes obvious within the first few pages when he implies that he is inately smarter than everyone else because he claims to have doubted/disliked technology since he was a child. (As you may get from this, I also feel he comes off as arrogant). It is poorly organized and the arguments are poorly constructed. The author frequently drops philosophical or even supposedly academic conclusions in at random, he will be going along giving an account of an event or emotion and then out of no where start waxing poetic about some conclusion as if it is so obiovusly derived from what he was previously saying, which in most cases it is not. The author is neither superb at telling stories nor at constructing arguments. I know, this paints a pretty bleak pictures (who wants to read an arrogant book that has poor story telling and poor argument construction, and was likely written well after the personal experiences it alleges it describes??), but in all actuality there is tons to take from this book.
It raises several interesting questions and some potential interesting answers. The underlying question this book rests on is an incredibly important and entirely neglected one: why are changes in technology uniformally considered to be good? I mean, granted, we call them "advancements" in technology, thereby implying improvement. What makes new technology better? The standard answer would be "it makes life easier!" or "it makes things faster" or "its more convenient". This book is really attacking the very root of the modern idea of "progress." Is it better to have devices to do more and more work for us? What exactly do we gain from it and what do we lose? The author proposes the idea that we have become "slaves" to the machines that are designed for our convenience, and that by "saving us time" they are actually taking away our purpose. The author reports that he and his wife find new meaning and purpose in the simple life. I am not going to be moving to Amish country any time soon, and I don't even buy most of his argument, but I think he has some questions that are worth thinking about.