Thursday, January 06, 2022

Life got in the way

It's been more than a decade since my last post. I got married. I bought a house. My kids grew up. I have three grandchildren. Here we still are. I miss writing things that aren't emails for work. so, I've managed to log back in here. love and light.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Story of Stuff

LibraryThing Review Link:

I picked this book up in a mall. I had not seen the YouTube video that the author had made prior to publishing the book, but I'd heard of it. I leafed through it and was caught up in reading about computer metals and how they are produced, used, and disposed of, when I realized I needed to leave. I bought the book.

I read this book on a plane. The book is about the material possessions that are so important to us Americans in our consumer society. It talks about extraction of resources, production and distribution of goods, marketing of goods, and the disposal of goods. The author had started out as an expert on disposal, particularly. She's originally a Greenpeace activist on garbage issues such as the barge that traveled the world looking for somewhere to put the garbage (I can hear Alice's Restaurant in my head right now). But at some point, she discovered systems thinking and started realizing that the garbage problem is really not easily separable from the other issues that lurk behind our happy consumer attitudes about "stuff".

The fact that I was reading it on the plane, where everything was disposable, made it that much more poignant to me.

I was raised by a very liberal family and my father is an environmental activist who lives in a cabin "off the grid" using hydro and solar power and a self-composting outhouse. I also lived in developing countries much of my adult life and I observed many of the issues about garbage and disposable goods that Ms. Leonard talks about in her book. In other words, I am the choir to whom this book is preaching. It gave me some good ideas about how to reuse things, avoid other things (such as vinyl - I had no idea it was such bad news), and in general try to be a better individual American consumer.

But really, what would be great is if this book became the start of a movement for Americans to get back to being people and not consumers. We are human beings foremost. It is true we need material goods to live. But we should not be living in order to get material goods. The best chapters of this book, for me, were not the ones on the life cycle of "stuff" but on how we can make our lives less consumerist.

I highly recommend this book to all readers, particularly the younger ones. The future can definitely be different and this book is a very good place to start realizing this.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I just got done reading a great book by the fabulous teller of tales, E.T.A. Hoffman: The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr. Below is my review, which I also posted to Library Thing:

When I was in college, majoring in Spanish literature, I had to read several works and poems that used a style I’d call “fierce satire.” They were, not to put too fine a point on it, mean. There were two Spanish poets who would write insulting sonnets back and forth to each other – Hilarious, but very dense in references, and so unkind that after reading them I had a bad taste in my mouth.

This book is a happy, gentle satire. It was really a flash of brilliance on Hoffman’s part to use a tomcat to parody a self-satisfied person of his time, who follows trends in society and believes he is a setter of them. All cat lovers will tell you that he picked the perfect animal to represent self-satisfaction.

The Kreisler story, or rather the discarded draft of the Kreisler story upon which Murr has written his autobiography, shows a very different character, one who actually has artistic genius and true depths of feeling, but who is paradoxically much less in control of his life than Murr, while being much more self-aware. The funny fake court in which the story takes place is the closest Hoffman comes to being fierce as he mocks all that must have been wrong with German aristocracy at the time.

The book is intensely psychological and in this sense it seems way ahead of its time. Even with its humorous and satirical narration, I had a sense of understanding and empathy for “bad” characters such as Mme. Benzon that I would not have gotten from other books of the period. Mostly, the backstories for these characters are hinted, and not fleshed out, which makes the book really fun. I have found that the more I read the less I want the narrator filling in blanks for me.

This is not to say that I liked the ambivalent ending. I want a sequel. Collette wrote a short story about a cat in which the cat supposedly was about to die, and she resurrected her at the very end, so that could be done again. Hint hint. Where is a modern Hoffman to carry on this tremendously funny fairy tale? A weary nation of book and cat lovers waits for you.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hello - I'm back!

It's been forever since I have used this blog. I will post a longer story later, but for now I am just glad to be back on Blogger. It took me forever to remember how to sign in!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Petition on Muslim Women's Dress

I am very pleased to report an initiative started by some Muslim women I am acquainted with over the Internet - a petition stating that we would like other people to basically leave us alone to dress how we choose. As the three or four readers of this blog know, this is already my position, so I was happy to sign (I was the third person!) and if anyone happens to hear of it first here, please add your signature (men are welcome as well).

Muslim Women's Freedom of Dress

Thanks to Leila at Sister Scorpion for the information. Please check her blog for other important initiatives and statements on Muslim American activism of various sorts.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is there a quiz on how unserious you are because of the number of quizzes you post?

OK, I promise the next post is going to actually be a piece of writing by me.


I just could not resist this one (via Eerie at Aqoul):

....Loveable, yes, yes, cuddly... Oh, that's me to a T! /Peter Ustinov's Prince John

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am a Neurotic Reader too....

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz