Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Into The Forest

Our latest book for our book group was a rather strange read. It was "Into The Forest" by Jean Hegland. Written in 1996 it is a book that looks at what might happen if the world collapsed.

The story is set around two sisters Eva and Nell who live in the forest in Northern California. The story is told by the younger sister, Nell who loves to read and learn and is looking forward to escaping from California and attending Harvard. Eva wants to become a ballet dancer and is gearing up for a big audition in San Fransisco.

As we learn about the family, suddenly, and unexpectedly something happens. We never know what it is that happens, other than it has caused a total collapse of the infrastructure of the country. Was it war, economic collapse . . . we have no idea, and no one seems to interested in finding out. (That part really bothered me).

The mother has died of cancer, and now the girls and the father are forced to deal with living in the forest and surviving. All kinds of challenges ensue. As the girls have to deal with the death of their father and a stranger that changes their lives forever.

There were a couple of places where the book left plausibility. The relationship between Nell and Eli just never worked. Neither did the family's last trip into town. The visit to the warehouse store was ridiculous. And the ending left you scratching your head.

In a study guide to the book it makes the comment that:
Reading Into the Forest will forever change the way you think about a teabag, a scrap of paper, a metronome, an acorn, or a chocolate kiss candy. It will forever change your thinking about dreams and days of the week.

I must not have read the same book, because after I write this and turn it back into the library, I doubt I will ever think of the book again. It did not connect with me, or really any of us in the book group.

That is not to say that it was a bad book. It was an interesting and enjoyable read and does make you think about what the world would be like if there was a catastrophic collapse. But because I live in an urban jungle and not a California Redwood forest, it did not speak to me like it might others.

Friday, September 05, 2008


In my reading this week, I became aware of a book written in 2004 by David Callahan. In 1999, David co-founded a new think tank, Demos, a public policy center based in New York City. Demos combines research and advocacy, working to strengthen democracy and expand economic opportunity within the United States. Previous to co-founding Demos, David was a Fellow at the Century Foundation from 1994 to 1999, where he engaged in wide ranging public policy research and analysis. David received his B.A. at Hampshire College and his Ph.D in Politics at Princeton University.

I have not read the book, but it was linked to in another article. While trying to find out about it, I came across an article he wrote in the journal plagiary. The title of the article was: On Campus: Author Discusses the “Cheating Culture” With College Students. I found the article facinating, especially in light of the national political conventions, but also related to an issue that we are struggling with at the church.

I would love to get a group of people together to discuss the book (or even the article).

Is it OK to lie or cheat, simply because "thats what everyone else does?"

He offers three reasons why it is important why we should resist taking the shortcuts that are often put before us.

First, I think that being true to ourselves and our values is a key to happiness.

A second reason to forget the short cuts is that we all have to live with ourselves. Abraham Lincoln once said that “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. Thatʹs my religion.” Sounds simple enough, but of course we may not feel bad at the moment we do bad. Regret has a way of sneaking up on us, and it may only be later that we feel bad – because maybe we took a short cut we didn’t really need to take, and got something that we didn’t deserve. It’s something to watch out for. A life of integrity equals a life with fewer regrets.

A third powerful reason for why integrity should be important in our lives is that each of us plays a role in shaping the society we live in, and that our children will live in.
I think it is important as we choose our leaders for the future.

Anybody interested in a dialog?

Reflections on the Conventions

OK, I have tried very hard to keep my mouth shut during the conventions, but I came across this clip from one our our great journalists that really sums it all up.

If you have five minutes, it is worth watching.

I can't get it to work, just go to this site

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Its GONE!!!!

Wow, Tuesday afternoon Laura and Steve showed up with a Bobcat and now I no longer have a hole in my backyard, but now I have . . . a backyard! It is awesome, now I just need to get some grass growing!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pool Bash part 2

Getting rid of that stinkn pool has just about killed me. I have gotten very lucky, however. Last week I was able to get seven truckloads of dirk delivered FREE! It came from a friends house who was putting in a pool.

Saturday and yesterday, we finished getting all the concrete broken up and removed. We found two electrical lines that we did not know were there, fortunately they both were dead. I also got the solar panels all removed. It looks like a whole different backyard.

Later this evening I am expecting a Bobcat to show up and help get the huge pile of dirt spread out.

I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who helped. Matt, Laura, Doug, Richard and Wes, along with Nancy and I got it all done this weekend! THANKS!

Now I just have to get some grass growing and do landscaping and . . .