Friday, September 30, 2011

Product 43: Pre de Provence Grapefruit soap

Pre de Provence makes a wonderful bar soap full of scent and cleaning power. I’m in love with the grapefruit scent and the fresh lather it creates.

As I said in a previous post, I love gifting this bar soap. For the longest time, I held off on treating myself. But when Schillers got in the latest shipment, I had to treat myself. The tiny bar of grapefruit soap was just too much to resist.

The aroma is what draws you in to Pre de Provence soaps. There are so many awesome scents. It’s sometimes hard to pick just one that you like. For soaps, I’m drawn to citrus flavors or the vanilla woods. The scent lasts on the bar for the long time and just picks you up.

I also like the soap a lot. It cleanses well and leaves your skin nice and soft. But that’s the benefit of shea butter. It’s something that is just amazing without being too heavy.

Defianately will continue to gift this soap out to my friends. When it’s both refreshing and good at cleansing, why wouldn’t I continue to give out a great gift?

Product 42: Sony eReader PRS 300

So after years of prodding and about six months of thinking about it, I finally got an eReader. It’s a Sony eReader PRS-300. It’s an amazing device and a maddening one all at the same time.

It’s no surprise that friends and co-workers would recommend that I get a Kindle from the time they came out. What could be more perfect? It’s both a tech toy and a book all in one. Yet I was hesitant. I love books. The feel of turning the page and I don’t always like to read chronologically. Plus lately I like to share books. All those things are not easily embodied in an eReader at least until recently. Now the Nooks will allow friends to pass books to each other. Then there was an interesting idea posed by two of my friends in Philly, using an eReader more as a supplement to reading and just something easy to travel with while commuting. I will be honest; this was actually a loan that turned permanent when a friend upgraded devices. It was an unexpected turn of events that I’m grateful for.

The eReader has roughly 250 books loaded on it. It can be filled with more too. Now I have yet to actually load up the reader myself yet. My friend did that for me. Put on a ton of Star Trek books and a couple other ones. So this is a huge positive. I can have a pick of books while I’m traveling while only carrying one device.

Another huge plus was the fact, it has a good battery life. I’ve only had to plug it into a computer to recharge it twice in the three books I’ve read on the device.

The light to it is ineffective in low light. That’s from a person who enjoys low light and doesn’t always use crazy amount of light. I have yet to use the light in high light situations. It’s just not needed for me.

At times, the eReader drives me completely nuts. The formatting can get seriously messed up and I can’t make heads or tails of how the page numbers are created. It can be random at times. Sometimes there is white space for no reason but more often then not, there is no white space (which is definitely necessary in order for clarity). Plus it doesn’t handle no-standard letters well. So when reading Star Trek stuff, things are getting messed up. Photos are also not handled well on the device. A minor complaint when it comes to the covers but a major complaint when you can’t get the photos that are referenced.

I have yet to be sold on the eReader completely. It’s nice to have things in one spot. But such a pain when things are formatted right.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book 81: Star Trek Section 31 Rogue

I’m not a fan of Rogue by Andy Mangels and Micahel A Martin. Rogue takes place in the Section 31 series. It utterly failed for me. I don’t really say that all too often. But this book is really starting to make me think that I can’t ever really enjoy fictional intelligence related books (yet there was Zero Sum Game that was good).

Admittedly I’m tough on intelligence books. My focus for my master’s degree was intelligence. So I know a couple things about the field. I heard from a couple of the professors that after learning a lot about the intelligence field, it gets harder to enjoy the fictional forms of intelligence. At first, I didn’t believe them but books like Rogue make me think they were right.

There was horrible spycraft. First there was the recruitment of Sean Hawk was crazy. It was basically a cold call. I mean seriously. Who would want to trust or want to work for a secret agency when you just met someone? You don’t just start sharing secrets and working for shadow organization without a basis of trust. If you think about it, do you tell your secrets to a friend or to a stranger. Besides that, there was no re-recruitment of Hawk to ensure that he doesn’t get flaky. A good spy knows that you have to reassure a person that they are doing right by drawing on their triggers (money, ideology, ego, and etc) cause quite frankly if you don’t do that, they will turn and not remain loyal and could expose the agency completely. Not to mention it seems crazy that the Romulan intelligence agency would be more familiar with Section 31 then Starfleet intelligence. It’s hard to hide an intelligence agency from another agency when they are under the same government. Yet Rogue wants me to believe the Romulans know more than Starfleet Intel. That’s crazy. Especially when Corey was such a braggart and just saying, “you can’t stop me.” Sorry nobody and no agency is untouchable. For the supposed covert nature of Section 31, he definitely made it rather overt.

On top of the horrible spycraft, there are serious issues with the rest of the book. The characters, the plot, and the formatting of the book all had problems in my eyes.

While the book does a great job of showing a homosexual relationship, it did a horrible job at showing the Next Generation characters in a realistic light. Sometimes it’s tough to show already made characters in a strong light. I can’t count how many times I raised my eyebrow in disbelief at a thought or a statement from a character. It seemed a bit unrealistic at times. I liked how the book tried to rejoin three academy friends many years later. But it was hard to see everything really congeal. Plus calling Jean-Luc, Johnny was just distracting.

I hated the plot of the book. It just felt like it was trying to be grander then it was. It was trying so hard to create the layers of covert actions while at the same time trying to bring them all to light. It just struggled in tying all the pieces together in a coherent fashion. It drove me nuts when they made a big deal that Picard had to go a mission but he did nothing to contribute to the mission. It felt like they just wanted to include him for the sake of including him and then realized that they had to justify his presence (since Starfleet does try to prohibit captains on going on away missions), so they added a discussion between Picard and Riker to make it fit into the canon. If they didn’t have that discussion that Picard must be there, it would have set better with me.

Plus I had a lot of formatting issues with this book. This may not be the fault of the book itself but rather the fact I read it on an eReader. I was just getting confused with the perspective changes between paragraphs. Often it just felt unnecessary in the space the authors were giving themselves. Plus there were times in the tail-end of the book I was just getting lost in the action since it lacked the necessary white space to separate out the different set of actions.

So yeah, I definitely hated this book. There was nothing appealing to the book and it was unbelievable the amount of times I said, “this is horrid” or “really?” or “this is awful.”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book 80: King of Russia

King of Russia by Dave King with Eric Duhatschek is an interesting book about what it was like to be the first Canadian coach in the Russian Super League. I love reading books from and about coaches as a way to learn different leadership styles and things to look at. In many ways I found that lacking in this book. But I still really enjoyed it since I loved seeing his experiences.

I have to give Dave King a lot of respect. His coaching pedigree is great and then he took the opportunity to coach in a foreign land where he didn’t speak the language and admittedly had a hard time pushing the buttons of the Russian NHL’ers. In his year at the Big M, he was able to create one of the best records ever for the league although ultimately they came in third.

It’s interesting to see some of his thoughts about Russia and Russians. It’s a great look into the culture. It was funny to see how often he realized that things were both the same and different all at the same time. Plus it was great to see how he could understand and relate to his players.

One of the things I liked reading was King’s thoughts about Malkin. I will never ever be a Pens fan but I do respect Malkin. His speed and ability to squeeze the puck has made both admire and curse him. He’s actually the only Penguin I wouldn’t mind being a Flyer. And it’s great to see how King was trying to help mold this amazing talent and see how excited he was to watch Malkin grow before Malkin joined the Penguins.

The book was set up as a diary. So there were times he was more introspective then others. At times, I really liked the set up and at other times I would have loved to see him expand upon his thoughts. I would have loved if this book had more coaching insights and leadership hints or notes to himself. I just love picking up on that stuff. But so much of the diary is fairly mudane things or more the cultural insights he had. There were times he would say how he was displeased with the way the team won but didn’t really say how they could have been better. Part of that comes from the fact it was a diary format. Often you write things in a diary without context or explanation since it is meant to be read by yourself.

I’m glad I got to read about Kinger’s time in Russia. It was really interesting. I am glad that I finally got to read the book. But this book hardly stands up as my favorite book about or from a coach. There wasn’t enough coaching/leadership qualities that I love to eat up in books related to coaches. A good easy read.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book 79: On Hitler's Mountain

On Hitler’s Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt was a great book. It was about Irmgard’s life growing up in the backyard of the Eagle’s Nest, family members who were members of the Nazi party and the indoctrination of Nazi idealization. I love the fact this is a book that showed the German perspective of having a Nazi heritage. It’s a perspective that isn’t always talked about and well I think we need to hear it just much if not more than the Jewish perspective.

I love the fact this book addresses having the Nazi heritage and not hiding the fact. She grew up in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria which is literally in the backyard of the Eagle’s Nest. She actually got to sit on Hitler’s lap at one point during a parade. It was a special moment in her life although it wasn’t the most comfortable experience in her life (Hitler held her too stiffly and she was torn emotionally after seeing the disgust on her grandfather’s face and the pride on her parent’s face). She went to school with several kids whose parents were the Nazi elite.

I will have to say this book does a great job of showing the ordinary citizen growing up in Berchtesgaden. Her parents were Nazis and she knew from an early age how her grandparents and some family friends were not fans of the Hitler’s assent. But in all honesty, it seems like her family were not guilty of any real guilt other than for supporting the dictator. Her father was an artist who did paint some dinnerware for Hitler and then was quickly drafted into the army where he was killed in battle. Her mother was a Nazi for a longer period of time but as the war worn on, she too was more critical of the problems of the Nazi government and tired of the war in general. The hope of a better world for Germans free from unemployment, poverty and superinflation was what drew her parents to the party. Something that seems understandable. In that area of Bavaria, the Jewish problem didn’t really exist. Irmgard can’t recall ever meeting a Jew but she did remember having a friend change her name away from a Jewish name as a way to show that they were more German.

I like how Irmgard just explained many things as she was growing up. She was so excited to join the Hitler Youth at first. But then as the group activities went from being crafts and singing and hiking to just marching around and trying to recruit others to show up for the meeting, she wanted to stop showing up. Plus it was great to see how she liked and disliked some of her teachers.

The interesting thing to me was the fact that so many members of her extended family were critical to the Nazis and how that affected their lives. She realized very early on that being anti-Nazi was something that was hard to really accomplish but there were private protests that they did. One of the stories, I really liked was how she was so mad that her grandfather wouldn’t donate his magazines to the Nazi army and yet she was so reluctant to really share his views to a teacher that was taking an interest in his beliefs (who she later found out the teacher was an informant and she saved her grandfather from a concentration camp).

Plus this book also talks about the aftermath of World War II. Life wasn’t easy and things didn’t improve for a while. Then after the Nuremberg trials, she related how hard it was to see a classmate faint in class when they were mentioned and to see him suffer after the boy’s father was sentenced to death. She never tried to say the boy’s father wasn’t guilty. Instead it was the true human emotion of not wanting to see a likable classmate suffer. Plus it was interesting to hear how the German guilt associated with the war and they mixture of feelings that happen when she initially told people she was from Berchtesgaden until now where that city name has been forgotten by many people.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book 78: First They Killed My Father.

About two years after reading “Lucky Girl,” I finally got to read Loung Ung’s “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers.” It was worth the wait. I got to learn a lot about growing up during the Cambodian genocide which was exactly what I wanted from a memoir dealing with the Cambodian Genocide.

In terms of genocide and Communist regimes, the Khmer Rouge takes the cake. It’s fascinating that a government wanted to create a farming/communist utopian society by destroying cities and education. Which is a great way to get rid of the classes but does devastating things to a population. So I’m curious about what it’s like to live through the Khmer Rouge. I originally read “Lucky Girl” to learn more but I didn’t realize it was her second book when I bought it. But I really enjoyed learning the about how she learned move on.

What impressed me about “First They Killed My Father” was the way she captured her voice as a five year old and as a child in general. Going back to how things were in the city and being fairly well off to trying to pass as a farmer. It seemed so understandable that she was mad that the soldiers lied about when they could back to the city and the confusion. Then you saw how her family adapted but lived in continual fear: fear of having the father’s past being discovered (he worked for the former government as a police officer), that the daughters would be taken advantage of, and fear of dying from hunger/poison food. Unfortunately, despite the Ung family efforts, Loung lost her oldest sister, her father, her mother and her youngest sister during the Khmer Rouge years.

I also liked how the book was able to relate the horror that was felt and the desire to fight against the Khmer Rouge even though there was no way to really fight against it. But there were the mental digs and the unwillingness to just give up.

I would love to read more books on the subject. That way I can really learn more to see just how typical, atypical and to see the other perspectives (from someone who was glad the Khmer Rouge was there). But I know this will take the same kind of research that I do into the Holocaust books. But I’m glad that I was able to read “First They Killed My Father”. It gave me a wealth of knowledge about the Khmer Rouge.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Product 41: Caswell Massey Almond and Aloe Shower Gel

In the past couple years, I went from being indifferent about almond scented bath products to really being in love with them. Caswell Massey Almond and Aloe Foaming bath gel is a really nice shower gel that has a really pure almond aroma to it. The scent is what speaks first but it’s still a really nice foaming gel.

Caswell Massey has some amazing classic scents which makes sense since it’s America’s oldest bath and body product line. What I love about the company is the fact their scents are very pure. It’s not a synthetic smell to the products.

As I said, the aroma speaks first in this shower gel. This is one of my favorite almond scents (my second favorite is the L’Occutaine’s Sweet Almond bath oil which is much sweeter). It’s just so refreshing and soothing at the same time.

As a shower gel, it’s okay. I can’t really complain about it. It does a competent job. It doesn’t over moisture the skin and dry it out. It’s okay. The one thing that does really stand out is the fact that it does foam up really well in my sponge every day. So it’s nice to have a luxurious foam in a shower gel.

I really liked it as a bubble bath. This was great actually. It had the perfect amount of bubbles. They feel so nice. Add in the soothing almond aroma and a good book, I was in heaven every night I used this bubble bath. I just really enjoyed the feel to it. Plus the bubbles last for a good long while. So I can read in the tub for an hour and there were still bubbles in the tub.

The Caswell Massey Almond and Aloe Foaming Bath Gel is my new favorite bubble bath. I hardly use it as a shower gel even though I really don’t have a complaint about it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book 77: A Family Cursed

“A Family Cursed” by Kevin F. McMurray was an interesting book about the two Kissel murders. Well there has been some postulation that Andrew Kissel wasn’t murdered and it was a suicide for hire but that idea is a bit out there by most people who have involved themselves in this case. I liked the book but they were times I would have liked better organization.

I’m a murder junkie. I’m fascinated by murder, serial killers, genocide and etc especially when it comes to the ideas that could possess a person to commit those crimes. As I’m typing this review, I got Deadly Women (a show on ID about women murderers) on. The Kissel case has piqued my curiosity for a while now. It’s crazy to think about how two brothers who were worth millions were both killed in less than two and half years apart. In all honesty, I was going to hold off on reading this book until later on in the year. Then I saw the American Greed episode related to the Kissel cases which also included the author. Then I knew I had to bump up the book immediately.

The Robert Kissel murder is fascinating to me. His wife murders him, sleeps with his dead body wrapped up in a carpet in their bedroom for three days, and her own best friend testified against her due to the fact she acted as a confident to both Robert and Nancy. Oh yeah there was a toxic milkshake before Robert was beaten to death that was fed to him and their neighbor. The case was a bit crazy especially due to the wealth that was involved. McMurray does a great job at touching on all the different complexities to the case: poisoning, states of mind of the major actors, the affair that Nancy was involved in and etc. Things are presented in a fairly balanced light which tried to explain why Nancy killed her husband without just writing her off as evil. It was apparent he really did his research for this book.

Then two and half years later, Andrew Kissel dies. Now his death is more complicated since at the same time, his life was unraveling. His fraudulent real estate actions were being uncovered; he was divorcing his wife, and losing his massive wealth. He’s found dead at the home that he was being evicted from. Now unlike Robert’s case which really only had one suspect, Andrew’s case had several suspects. But eventually the police start to focus on Carlos Trujillo. Trujillo was close to his employer and was willing to do many things for him. The book started to lay out the potential for Trujillo to help aid in a “suicide-for-hire” campaign using Trujillo. Now there wasn’t a ton of weight initially put into the idea for suicide for hire since most people thought he was in fairly good spirits despite everything going on. While it was presented in the book, there was a lot of doubt cased into the idea that Andrew would kill himself, let alone hire someone to kill him so his family could get the insurance money.

I loved the way the book presented the two cases both completely, was well research and entirely readable. The book itself was an easy read and good. It’s not everyday when you can learn a lot about a criminal case with sides be presented without overt ‘this is what happened’ tone when it comes to the state of minds and the parts of the case that is more circumstantial. It made the book very enjoyable.

The main fault with the book was how it was organized. By trying to include all the angles to a case, it means having a lot to discuss. Things weren’t always chronological and there were some tangents of thoughts that weren’t fully tied together. At times I would complain about the lack of clarity more then others.

All in all, I enjoyed this book a lot despite having some flaws in structure. Although when I was talking to a friend about the book in a letter, I was a little bit more vocal about my discontent at the time. The end result ended up enjoying the book because of how well it was done.

As a side note, after the book was published, Trujillo’s cousin plead guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder and Carlos Trujillo was acquitted of his murder charge and the attempted murder charge. So there is still a lot of debate of what really happened in the Andrew Kissel murder case.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book 76: A Promise to Nadia

“A Promise to Nadia” was the latest book to disappoint me. At least it was a quick read and it did interest me. Too bad I hated the way the book was sold to me, the writing and the feel of the book.

As you can tell if you read my blog, I love to learn about lives behind the veils in the Middle East. That’s because it’s so secretive and can be very provocative while at the same time deep with historical/traditional values. Plus I’m also curious about those who have been trapped and trafficked as a sex slave or slavery in general. So when I saw this book come up as a recommended book and I needed one more book to get free shipping and the great coupon, I thought great.

I will have to say this book failed to live up the advertisement of “a true story of a British slave in the Yemen.” I should have had an issue right there since in the Yemen sounds so awkward. But this story is not about a British slave. It’s about a family’s attempt to extract a daughter from a Yemeni marriage. I’m questioning if there is even a slavery case to be had. Nadia was tricked into marriage to another kid. Marriage isn’t slavery. That’s even if the husband is controlling, manipulative, awful and abusive. You can’t call marriage slavery especially since Yemen does allow women to divorce their husbands (although it puts them at a such a huge disadvantage where most women don’t even consider the option). There can be questions if the marriage itself could be legal given the fact she was so young and tricked into the marriage since everything was arranged by her father without her knowledge. But after so many years of living with her husband,does Nadia want to leave him or is this Zana's fight for Nadia.

Now I’m surprised that Zana Muhsen had a co-writer (Andrew Crofts). Normally a co-writer does a great job of helping hone the language yet at the same time the real person will shine through. Zana definitely shines through and it seems like he was able to get herself to be more introspective and not come across as being too close-minded. The book just didn’t have any sort of honed language and things would jump around. In some ways it seems like he just gave up on trying to get Zana to change her mind since she is rather hard headed.

As I said, I didn’t enjoy the feel of the book. There were times when attitude just got in the way of me really being able to connect with her. I’m not someone who will believe what I’m told. I need collaborating evidence for me to believe things. Often Zana and her family come up short in proving that Nadia is a slave. Yet she’s bitter when people don’t just believe her and her mother in their crusade. She was deeply hurt when a documentary writer didn’t present the dialog she wanted included even though according to Terry Waite (a person who was a Beirut hostage with a high profile in England) thought the dialog that she wanted sounded forced. It was the same way when she’s told that there wasn’t enough evidence in a case against her father.

There is a good chance I may have liked this book better if I actually read Sold first. It seems like the tale I was really seeking was more in Sold but it's fascinating to see how much the family is fighting to get contact with Nadia and trying to get her home.

So I was disappointed in this book all the way around. Although I feel bad for the fact that Zana and her family are kept away from Nadia. I hope they can get a family reunion that won’t be a headache for any of the family members. But the book itself was a disappointed.

Product 40: Sealark Soap Lift

The best inventions are the simple ones. The Sealark Soap Lift is genius. It’s just so simple. It’s a meshy piece of plastic that catches the gunk from soap (so it’s not on the counter or on the soap) and it keeps the soap in place without damaging the soap. It’s also cleanable in the shower. Add in the fact it sells for $5, what more can you ask for?

I love my cranberry soap lift. It gives that little pop of color to my apartment bathroom. I’m in love with black and white. That theme is throughout my apartment ye it’s nice to have a simple accent piece that goes with the black and white while breaking out of it. It helps my two little whitish soap bars stand out from the white tile. It’s just a little thing that doesn’t take up too much space.

I was just surprised how much stuff it caught on the first couple uses. I never really thought about how much gunk was falling off the soap. My bars don’t tend to melt. They definitely get wet when I use them so it makes sense that there are drippings that I don’t always notice. It’s just nice it’s not on my bathtub anymore.

It’s nice that the soap lift can actually hold two bars of soap. Granted I’m using two small bars of soap of right now. But it’s nice that I can keep both of those soaps in great condition. I really don’t want my soaps to just go to waste especially since I love both of them. This soap lift seems to be making a noticeable difference in just keeping both bars in good shape.

But I’m a huge fan of the soap lifts. It’s a great little gift idea especially if you pair it with an awesome soap. I was recommending it to customers as a cheap gift option that is just really nice. Then after using it, I was glad I was offering it as a gift idea.

Letter 76, 77, 78, 79, 80

Letter 76: few letters to friends

Letter 77: another letter to my friend who has recently moved

Letter 78: fun of letter to a friend

Letter 79: more penpal action

Letter 80: Writing fun

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book 75: Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia“Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia” by Jean Sasson was a great tale about the life of Sultana al’Saud. It was a great tale about growing up and living in Saudi Arabia. The book was laden with deep critiques of the treatment of women who live within the Kingdom.

Now I’m not naïve enough to think that Sultana’s story is an unbiased look into life as a Saudi Arabian princess. She’s bucking the trend of being a subservient wife who says little and does exactly as what she’s told. Sultana has always had a bit of a tempestuous spirit who wanted to be heard and seen. While she supports the protests and is willing to tell her story to another to be published, she doesn’t take part of the protests and will shy away from breaking the laws herself.

Many parts of the book doesn’t seem to shocking or always shed new light on life in the Middle East after years of studying and reading information about life in the Middle East. While there were tragic tales about women who were killed or kept in isolation for doing things women in the western world take for granted like being raped or just chatting with a boy without a chaperon, it was nice to see how it impacted friends/families. But one of the biggest surprises for me was the amount of servants and even a couple slaves were taking care of the family. They were always present on everything.

One of the things I’ve personally started to think about was the timing that this book happens. It’s back in time compared to most of the things I’ve read. This book was written in 1992 but slightly reedited in 2004 with the majority of the book discussing the 60s-70s. So I know now that women can wear colored abbayas instead of the black ones and there have been some more reforms for women. It’s a classic case of keeping my mind in the right perspective so I can best understand everything.

I was struck by the comment that only the really rich and the really poor had multiple wives in Saudi Arabia. The middle class struggle with the ability to care for multiple wives equally (as required by law). It’s something I would have never thought. But she had a point that it’s easy to raise 4 tents for each of the women and the royals can easily pay for several households, where it’s the middle class that would have struggles with trying to buy four homes and feed everyone.

The thing that drove me nuts at times was how words weren’t always spelled the way I was expecting. I’ve heard how Arabic could be like Russian where direct translations into English could be difficult and there can be multiple ways to spell things, but I didn’t run into that in my readings before. It was just a bit jarring to see Mecca spelled as Mekkah . This wasn’t the only word that was different. I would be able to understand the gist of what was being said but I would have to think about it at times.

I was glad that I read Princess. Not because it revealed a ton but because it was an interesting story of self-discovery and life as a princess.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book 74: The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers

The Intimate Lives of the Founding FathersThe Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers by Thomas Fleming was one of more maddening books that I read yet at the same time I loved it for all the information that I held. I was truly in love with the information I was getting inbetween getting so beyond frustrated by the writing style itself. I learned a ton which when reading a historical book, it’s exactly what I’m looking for.

First off, I love the information that book held most of the time. I wasn’t a huge fan of the debate into the Hemings and Jefferson yet when you are talking about the intimate lives and want to be taken seriously, you have to address the issue. Fleming does a good job of looking at the issue in a good educated way. He looks at it from all sides, the historical record, the recent DNA tests, the people who question it. Now for my own mind, I’m pretty sure that Jefferson had some sort of relationship with Sally Hemings but since he never had the kind of intimate affair that was out in the open or with a paper trail of love letters, it’s too speculative to really know what their relationship.

One of the things that surprises me more and more is how I’m just getting fascinated by is Alexander Hamilton. That is one interesting man. He went from being a bastard child with limited means from the islands to a very respected political leader until he was killed in a duel. He helped to shape the US banking and the Federalist party. But not only that, he had a fascinating private life. He was not the most faithful man but yet he loved his wife and wanted to appease her by seeking communion before he died. He’s not as duplicitious as Jefferson was (since for all the anti-slave sentiments spoken, he did keep a lot of slaves. Also spoke out about the debt but was a debtor himself) but had many sides to him. More o f a man of passion in the moment. Plus he was cut off in the prime of his life by Burr’s bullet.

In some ways this book helped to add to the mystic that is Ben Franklin. He had an incredible life. I’m in awe that he got his wife to sign onto the idea of raising his illegitimate son as he was courting her. It wasn’t exactly an easy deal for her refuse since she was previously wed but still it’s not always easy to accept your boyfriend wasn’t faithful and wanted you to raise him. He was a man who loved the ladies as much as he loved science, politics and being a sage. It’s amazing to think he lived it.

But this book was absolutely maddening. It was just hard to read. Part of it was due to the fact it was broken up in by segments. Sometimes the breaks didn’t really help with weaving a saga. Plus I would deceive myself into I was getting more read by only reading chunks instead of actual chapters.

I’m not someone who likes it when you beat around the bush. Beat the bush and save the time and having people make the wrong inferences. Fleming was one to beat around the bush. He often phrased things in an odd way so I was finding myself removing the clauses and stripping down the sentences into its bare parts. It was amazing how often when you broke the sentences apart it was a fragment with an incomplete thought. So I was working harder mentally then a lot of books I’ve read recently.

All in all, I found myself enjoying the book thanks to the treasure trove of research in between the moments I was cursing it for being poorly written.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Letters: 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74

Letter 68: Thank you note to one of my closest friends

Letter 69: Thank you note

Letter 70: Welcoming a new baby to the world

Letter 71: Writing to a new friend

Letter 72: To a new penpal

Letter 73: A friendly card

Letter 74: Another friendly note

Book 73: By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be DeadAs soon as I saw one of my facebook friends mention the book, “By the Time You Read This, I will be Dead” by Julie Anne Peters. I knew I had to read the book. While I’m glad that I read it I was left with the same feeling I had when I read Twilight. It wasn’t that good but I was pulled to read everything through and wanted to find out what happened.

The book drew me due to the content. It’s about Daelyn’s desire to commit suicide after a recent failed attempt. This time around she found a website called Through-the-light which helps teens to commit suicide. This site offers her methods of suicide, a forum to communicate about problems, and it also forces the person to wait the 23 days before they can commit suicide. So while she would antagonize about the wait, she meets Santana. It’s the first boy that has offered genuine friendship and yet she wants to keep him at a distance.

The biggest problem and the strength of the book were the characters. There were times when I could relate to Daelyn completely. I’ve been in her shoes and considered offing myself in a very serious way. I just never decided to drink bleach and pneumonia together thus becoming a mute who wears a neck brace. I can get where she would feel so alone and isolated and think the next world would be better. But there were times I just hated Daelyn. She was so resistant to thinking in any act of kindness is genuine and she would dwell on acts of bullying that happen years ago. Plus she was so cold and distant. Often she left a bitter taste in my mouth and I wanted to tell her that she’s partially to blame for the fact that she has no friends. She won’t trust ANYONE. Now Santana and Emily were so much more likeable. They were trying to reach out especially Santana. He would get shut down, glared at, and stabbed and he still tried to be friends with Daelyn. He also was completely okay with the fact she couldn’t talk and wore a neck brace. He didn’t really ask too many questions about it instead he just took it slow.

The other thing that I didn’t really like was the ambiguous ending. I prefer concrete endings. This one left things up to interpretation. I know which way I wanted things to happen.

Product 39: Spongables Body Bar in Pink Grapefruit

Spongeables Pink Grapefruit 8+, 2-Ounce (Pack of 3)

Spongeables are one those great quick fix bath and body products. It’s a pre-loaded sponge with pink grapefruit shower gel that is also part-buffer and part-exfoliator. It’s something that really gets at the skin to give it a clean feel. It also lasts longer then the advertised amount of washes.

Spongeables is another product at Schiller’s that I’ve wanted to try. It’s not an expensive product. Only $5 for the 8+wash sponge. Since it’s a product that we keep in year round, I never felt the urgency that I had to buy it today.

The first shower was surprising. I wasn’t expecting the sponge to be exfoliating that it could almost be described as scratchy. But I felt clean afterwards and I did enjoy the light hint of the pink grapefruit aroma. It was subtle so I never interacted with the perfumes I would apply after my shower.

As the week went on, the sponge continued to soften up while still giving you that feel of exfoliating features. The sponge continue to feel good and suds up was for a little over two weeks. That’s was twice the amount of showers as the sponge advertised. Then when the sponge stopped creating suds, I just tossed it out. That’s easy clean up although I could probably have put new shower gel on that used the sponge as it continued to break down more and more.

This was a fabulous product for a quick gift idea that is really nice and unique. It was just fun.