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Archive for November, 2008

6a00c22525672a8fdb00e398e932580004-500piOver the past two weeks I’ve read author Ken Follett’s two best seller novels The Pillars of the Earth and the follow up World Without End.  Follett, normally a thriller novelist, began Pillars  years ago after he became fascinated with how Cathedrals are built and the people who built them.  Pillars was published in the 1990’s and at first was not a hit then by word of mouth more copies were sold.  Later Oprah added it to her book club and Pillars became a New York Times Best seller.  In 2007, Follett continued the story 200 years later with new characters but in the same England town, Knightsbridge with the characters once again dealing with problems with King of England and the town’s Priory.  

Both novels are set amongst historical detail but are written as 20th Century literature allowing the reader worldwithoutendto not be bogged down by mid-century English and Psychology.  Though both are daunting in length the pages fly by and though I read incredibly fast most find this to be true too.  The only downside; these books are heavy! 

Review of Pillars of the Earth:

Here, Follett sets the thrillers aside for a long, steady story about building a cathedral in 12th-century England. Bloodthirsty or adventure-crazed Follett readers will be frustrated, but anyone who has ever been moved by the splendors of a fine church will sink right into this highly detailed but fast-moving historical work – a novel about the people and skills needed to put up an eye-popping cathedral in the very unsettled days just before the ascension of Henry II. The cathedral is the brainchild of Philip, prior of the monastery at Kingsbridge, and Tom, an itinerant master mason. Philip, shrewd and ambitious but genuinely devout, sees it as a sign of divine agreement when his decrepit old cathedral burns on the night that Tom and his starving family show up seeking shelter. Actually, it’s Tom’s clever stepson Jack who has stepped in to carry out God’s will by secretly torching the cathedral attic, but the effect is the same. Tom gets the commission to start the rebuilding – which is what he has wanted to do more than anything in his life. Meanwhile, however, the work is complicated greatly by local politics. There is a loathsome baron and his family who have usurped the local earldom and allied themselves with the powerful, cynical bishop – who is himself sinfully jealous of Philip’s cathedral. There are the dispossessed heirs to earldom, a beautiful girl and her bellicose brother, both sworn to root out the usurpers. And there is the mysterious Ellen, Tom’s second wife, who witnessed an ancient treachery that haunts the bishop, the priory, and the vile would-be earl. The great work is set back, and Tom is killed in a raid by the rivals. It falls to young Jack to finish the work. Thriller writing turns out to be pretty good training, since Follett’s history moves like a fast freight train. Details are plenty, but they support rather than smother. It’s all quite entertaining and memorable. (Kirkus Reviews)

-Koop

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Happy Turkey Day!

 

bush-turkey-mad
  • Americans feast on 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving
  • According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the United States at Thanksgiving. That number represents one sixth of all the turkeys sold in the U.S. each year!
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird.
  • Only male (tom) turkeys gobble. Females make a clicking noise. The famous gobble is actually a seasonal mating call.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds – about the size of a German Shepherd! (But turkeys are normally not used as police animals.)
  • Turkeys are known to spend the night in trees! (Maybe to escape the Thanksgiving table?)
  • Turkeys can drown if they look up when it’s raining!
  • A turkey’s field of vision is 270 degrees–one of the main reasons they’re able to elude some hunters.
  • There was no milk, cheese, bread, butter or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast.
  • President Abraham Lincoln established the original date for our National Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1863.
  • President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of establishing a national “Thanksgiving Day.”
  • Congress did not declare Thanksgiving a national holiday until 1941.
  • The average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. (Now that’s a lot of turkey!)

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Optical Magnificance

Photo Credit- Unknown, Picassa

lady-bug

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imagesIt’s that time of year again.  You know the day after Thanksgiving where Americans lose their minds and line up outside Wal-Marts at 3am to get the magic computer for $1.  Yes, it’s Black Friday.  Since our economy is in the crapper and according to the Untied States Constitution we cannot allow President Elect Obama to take office until Jan. 20th, we might as well shop and this year there are sales, sales, and even more sales.  There are so many sales that some stores already have their merchandise on sale and other stores literally have all their merchandise marked down.  

Below are a few websites which list this year’s big ticket items for nothing if you want to shop at 5am.  So dust off your credit cards, balance transfer some funds and go crazy!!!  For those of you living in a frozen tundra like state there are even fantastic sales online.

http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/

http://www.blackfday.com/

-Koop

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Optical Magnificance

Winter in my home has come and I found this really beautiful picture of frost on picasa. Photo credit; Katja

winter-044

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“There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others, and the ones we hide from ourselves.” – Frank

Post Secret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. – Frank Warren (creator of Post Secret)

About a year ago I came across PostSecret.  The art project had already become popular and I read about it in a Newsweek article.  I probably would have never looked up the website but the example post card in the piece , which is also the opener for their youtube video, was from a man who says everyone who knew him before 9/11 thinks he is dead.  This confession, this secret, paralyzed me.  Not only was I wondering how a person could live like that but I also was puzzled by how he could share it on a public postcard.  And then I remembered that even I do the same thing.  I will share problems, even secrets with people who I don’t know that well.  Sometimes it’s easier to share with a person, group, the world because they don’t know you, know you’re past, have no preconceived judgements.  And though it doesn’t solve the problem it helps ease the pain of holding that secret to just yourself.  

Not every secret shared on PostSecret is sad.  Some are joyous.  Check them out here, or here, and yes there are even books here

From Amazon:

Frank Warren’s Introduction to A Lifetime of Secrets

When I told my father I was collecting secrets from strangers for an art project, he didn’t know what to think. I tried to explain how the thousands of secrets that had been mailed to me were more than mere confessions. They could be beautiful, funny, sorrowful, inspiring.

“But, Frank,” he asked, “why are you soliciting secrets from strangers, and why would anyone tell you a real secret?”

I invited my father to fly out for a PostSecret art exhibit in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of the postcards were on display. More than 15,000 people came to see the secrets, and my father was there, day after day, to hear many of their transformative stories. Some people told me they recognized a hidden part of themselves on a stranger’s postcard. Others shared personal experiences of how talking about a painful secret had helped heal a lifelong relationship.

The exhibit came to an end and I took my father back to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home. During our drive we passed through a long dark stretch of highway when my father broke the silence by asking me, “Do you want to know my secret?” He bravely recounted a traumatic childhood experience. When he finished, we had a true talk that gave me a richer understanding of my father and recast our relationship.

• • •

For A Lifetime of Secrets, the fourth PostSecret book, I’ve selected postcards that show how secrets can reveal a momentary impulse or haunt us for decades and arranged them by age to follow the common journey we all take through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity. Stretched over a full lifespan, the secrets expose the meaningful ways we change over time, and the surprising ways we don’t.

The postcards narrate childhood stories that have never been spoken; they voice the guarded confessions of our parents and grandparents. They confirm that our rich interior lives are not defined by how old we are, and that with aging comes not only loss but also the possibility of grace and wisdom.

The following two secrets arrived in my mailbox the same week. The postmarks on each card were different, but when I posted them together on the PostSecret website (www.postsecret.com) they seemed as though they could have been written by the same person at two different points in her life.

 

I am a junior in high school. I have good friends and a loving family. I am smart. I am a good athlete and musician. But I would trade all that in if it meant I would be beautiful.I spent my high school years believing I was UGLY. I just went through a photo album that had pictures of me over the last 20 years. Turns out I was/am kind of cute. No more wasting time on thinking otherwise.When I give PostSecret presentations at college campuses, my hope is that people I have never met will be inspired to change their lives through the secrets and stories being shared. Not long ago, at one of my talks, it was my life that was changed, and the secret that inspired me came from a stranger in the front row.

I began my presentation by handing out blank postcards to everyone in the auditorium. I invited each person to anonymously write down a secret on a card and then pass it on. For the next hour, the postcards circulated and were read silently multiple times. At the end of my talk, I asked if anyone would like to stand and read the secret they were holding at that moment. A man in the front row stood up and haltingly read:

I wish I could apologize to my younger brother for the way I treated him growing up.His postcard was blank.

I have witnessed many times how the courage of sharing a secret can be contagious. When I realized that the man had been pretending to read someone else’s secret and that the person he had left with was likely his brother, I was inspired.

Growing up, I was not an ideal older brother. As an adult, I have wished for an opportunity to apologize for some of my actions but did not want to open old wounds. I have not shared this secret with my brother . . . until now.

–Frank Warren

• • •He sat down and exchanged a long look with the young man next to him. After more volunteers read aloud some of the other secrets that had been passed around, I collected all the cards. The man in the front row handed me the postcard he had read from, and the two men walked out together.

-Koop

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“If Nostradamus were alive today, he’d have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente.”
— New York Post

Gerald Celente is a genius who cannot be brushed off as a hack. He is the CEO of Trends Research Institute, a company that prides itself on being watchful and thoughtful about how what we’re doing today will effect our tomorrow. If you look at their website, it looks like a college kids did it, but there is no denying how on target the Trend Research Institute has been.

First let’s talk about his past predictions so you can see for yourself his track record.

Real Estate Fizz …………………………………………………………………….01/05
Alternative Energy Biz to Boom ……………………………………………..2005
Recession 2007 …………………………………………………………………….2004
US to Lose Iraq War (one month before war began) ……………….2003

October 1997 Pacific Rim currency crisis……………………………….1995
August 1998 Russian economic collapse……………………………….1996
On-line shopping revolution…………………………………………………….1995
October 1987 world stock market crash………………………………….1986

Increased international and domestic terrorism.Oklahoma City Bombing -1995, Atlanta Olympic bombing-1996…1993
Home-office trends……………………………………………………………1986

Downsizing, outsourcing and temporary work force…………………1990
Gourmet coffees and micro-brews.Starbucks!. they became well known in the mid 90’s…1988
Clean water market opportunities……………………..1988

Casual dress trends………………I don’t wear a suit to work, do you?…1986
Voluntary Simplicity………………………………………………………….1990

Green marketing…………………………………………………………………….1988
Increase in Halloween retailing………………………………………………..1989
Baby boomers to buy second homes……….Florida vacations homes….1992
Big move to small towns…………Suburbs………….1992

_______________________________________________________________________

Let’s talk about his current predictions- most of them are pretty scary.

  1. Conservation Engineers– More powerful than high tech and paying much better than the booming health care sector, we forecast that “Conservation Engineers” and “Conservation Specialists” that are skilled in providing enviro-smart solutions will be among the most handsomely rewarded and sought after professions for the next several decades…..
  2. Tax RevoltsTax Revolts It was a reason given for starting the first American Revolution and as the trends add up, it will also be a reason for starting the second. Fed up, and not willing – or able – to take it anymore, overtaxed Americans will begin the battle against politicians and bureaucrats in the fight to lower and/or repeal taxes… while demanding higher tax rates for those seen as paying too little….
  3. Bye Bye Bucks-America’s going broke and the whole world knows it. Betting that its economy will spiral down and that the dollar will fall with it, foreign creditors are dumping dollars on the market … and even Third World street vendors don’t want to take greenbacks any longer. The further it falls, the less it’s worth. The less it’s worth, the less it buys. In the real world they call it “inflation.” In America they call it “good for business.” ……
  4. Small is Big-Unlike the years of personal prosperity and business growth long perceived a birthright … today, as America’s fortunes dwindle, its people will be forced to adjust attitudes and alter practices to compensate for the losses. Although the oncoming national downsizing trend may be a blow to egos and painful to pocketbooks, if intelligently deployed and spiritually practiced, the “Small is Big” trend can lead to more progressive advancement and greater rewards than the supersizing trend that has been consuming much of the nation…..
  5. Heal yourself Health careJust as it took mountains of facts and bottom line realities to finally convince a consumption prone public that energy saving tools and environmentally sound practices bring bigger rewards and higher quality, the oncoming “Heal Yourself Health Care” trend will be as widely embraced and will prove equally rewarding.

    Evolving over the past two decades, along with growing acceptance of seeking alternative medical options, the “Heal Yourself Health Care” trend is being driven by both the lack of money and the power of the mind…..

  6. Technoslaves.comIt’s a quickly spreading worldwide epidemic that will get much worse. All colors, classes, creeds and races are addicted and they can’t break the habit. Before 2008 ends, the TechnoSlave trend will be so pervasive and so deeply embedded into the fabric of society that Old World communication styles will be seen as quaint and ridiculed as stupidly boring by the high-tech “hip.” Across borders and around the world, blinking lights of blue and red flash from human ears … electro-plastic appendages affixed to the body and controlling the mind. So self-important have society’s members become that they must be connected at all times … to be in touch and instant messaged … for work, play and to fill the voids of idle time…..

**All of these predictions came from http://www.trendsresearch.com/journal08.html

It’s great that we the people saw that the jig was up and elected a non-corrupt man into the office, but it saddens me to think that no matter what he does in office, our lives will be forever changed because of one man’s infinite power for 8 years and there’s nothing Obama can do about it. I, for one, do not doubt these predictions. I do not doubt that this new generation of kids will grow up understanding that food is more important that a toy truck. I do not doubt that we will go broke. We will soon understand the plight of Argentinians and Mexicans after the Tequila Crisis of ’94 and even our grandparents who lived during the great depression.

Here is a video on FOX Business- now if they have Gerald Celente on the show, they must think their whole demo is going bankrupt very very soon.

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