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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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“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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Now I realize this is a magazine normally read by our parents or in doctor’s visiting rooms but my dad gifted me a subscription and sometimes I find the most interesting articles.  For instance the info I’m going to share with you. 

The October Issue is devoted to getting great deals on anything.  The piece begins with the story of a family who decided that they would spend on $100 for an entire month – this excludes mortgages, electricity bills etc.  It includes all other frivolous expenses including excessive grocery shopping.  By the end of the month the family had saved $2000 and their family bonds were even stronger.  BTW included in the spending was gas.  I personally only really drive from work to home and back but with the cost of gas being $4.00/gallon here this costs me $250 a month.  Hellooo Prius.

Back to topic:  Next RD lists many, many websites where you can find rebates, coupons, free shipping etc.  I’ve included some of them below.  Try them out.  Let me know what you think.

Another great article is on the new book, “Wisdom” By: Andrew Zuckerman.  

“The greatest gift from one generation to the next?  It’s wisdom gained from experience.  Award-winning photographer Andrew Zuckerman traveled to seven countries, flew 65,000 miles, and drove 5,000 more, all in a quest to ask 50 distinguished individuals ages 65 years and older what they would like others to know.”

Included:  

Desmond TuTu, Jane Goodall, Clint Eastwood, Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Nelson Mandela, Jacques Pepin, Judi Dench, Buzz Aldrin, Madeline Albright, Alan Arkin, Frank Gehry, Henry Kissinger, Dave Brubeck, and many more.  

Here’s one passage I found interesting:

“Each one of us can make a contribution.  Too frequently we think we have to do spectacular things.  Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are.  Those little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world.  Each one of us can be an oasis of peace.”

“Happiness is when I see others happy.  Happiness is a shared thing.”

-Desmond Tutu

http://www.wisdombook.org/

 

 

Money Saving Websites:

 

Coupon codes:

www.rather-be-shopping.com,  www.keycode.com,  www.currentcodes.com

Rebates:  

www.fatwallet.com

 

Coupons:  

www.dealcatcher.com

 

Deals:

www.redbox.com – you can rent movies for $1

www.zilok.com – you can rent anything from trombone, power saw to antying in 60 cities.

www.bbc.co.uk/languages – learn a foreign language for free

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