Ruby Ramblings

October 25, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

My goal was to read as much as I good while also producing good quality blogs as I went. I’m not going to go back and review these books later. Minus a few edits, I think I accomplished that pretty well.

Currently reading: Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia
Pages read in current book: 47
Pages read total: 721
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? The last one. I didn’t do much reading, more fussing.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year
? Cork Boat was fun and light.

5. How many books did you read?
3 and little more

6. What were the names of the books you read? Cork Boat by John Pollack, Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile by Richard Schweid, The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer, and part of Hearing Birds Fly by Louisa Waugh

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed what I’ve read of Hearing Birds Fly the most, but I was really affected by The Life You Can Save.

8. Which did you enjoy least? I loved all of the books, but with how heavy handed Che’s Chevrolet was with history, it would have been the least interesting to read last.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?Oh, I’ll definitely do it again, as a reader and blogger.

Can You Hear Me Now?
October 25, 2009, 10:53 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongoliaby Louisa Waugh

Although there is only an hour and half left, and there is no way I’ll come even close to finishing another book, I decided I might as well hold out to the very end. Especially since my read-a-thon was severely lacking in some women’s writing. The first two books I read were about boys and their toys, and the last one was much more rounded, but still I think I should get a little woman’s voice here. I was going to switch to fiction, but I decided to stay the course and choose a non-fiction with a worldly theme.

There are several people reading this who I think will appreciate the opening quote, “If an ass goes travelling, he’ll not come home a horse.” Thomas Fuller

Currently reading: Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia
Pages read in current book: 1
Pages read total: 676
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

Book three finshed, I need a breather after this one.
October 25, 2009, 10:23 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

Some statistics taken out of the book:
There are about 1 billion people living in what are considered affluent countries. Those countries government and private donations give an amount of money that works out to roughly $60 per person in donations.

There are 3 billion people living in poverty – living on less than $2/day. Even in countries that have very small economies, this is not considered enough money to give a person access to housing, food, education, and basic health care.

Given those two things, $60/person is clearly not enough money to be donating. Singer outlines in the beginning of the book how when people are presented with the story of a child drowning in a pond and a man wearing a new armani suit and shoes, that it is his moral obligation to rescue the child, regardless that he will ruin $3,000 worth of clothes. Although this is very over-simplified view, he expands this thought into arguments for and against helping people on a larger, and broader scale. How it is difficult for some people to offer money to people they’ve never met both in their home countries and internationally, and the arguments that can be made to cultivate a culture of giving.

Singer asks us to look at places where we spend money on things we would not miss. $3 lattes instead of making coffee at home, bottled water when we could filter, or in many places outright drink the tap water, soda at convenience stores and restaurants, clothes we don’t really wear, or more shoes we don’t need. He then asks people to look even above that for people who are capable, and consider giving even more. He argues that people should give as much as they can to just before the point that they are doing more harm to themselves than good for other people.

The book is divided into several different categories:
1.The Argument: Saving a child, why it is wrong not to help, common objections to giving
2. Human Nature: Why we don’t give more, creating a culture of giving
3. The Facts About Aid: How much does it cost to save a life, which charities do it best, and improving aid
4. A New standard for Giving: Your child and the children of others, asking too much?, A realistic approach.

His final conclusion is that if everyone who lives above the poverty line themselves contributed 5% of their income, and the super rich gave a little more than that, we would have more than enough money to combat poverty, and the three chronic health issues that he outlines: 27,000 who kids die of preventable diseases every day, at least 3 million women living with fistula who are not allowed to contribute to their local economies due to isolation, and the several million people who have gone blind from reversible cataracts.

The Life You Can Save

Currently Reading: The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty
Pages read in current book: 174
Pages read total: 675
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

The Life You Can Save
October 25, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon, Uncategorized

The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty by Peter Singer

One charity I found particularly inspiring in this book is the Worldwide Fistula Fund, an organization that helps women who are injured through childbirth or violence in a way that is treatable, but often ignored.

Please, please, please watch this video. It is amazing.

Pages read in current book: 102
Total pages read: 603
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

Vroom Vroom
October 25, 2009, 6:10 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

University of North Carolina Press publishes some really, really interesting titles.

The same model as Che Guevara’s first car. His was apparently emerald green with the white top.

Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba is a fantastic look at the history of car ownership in Cuba, combined with the author’s tales of travel through the country, and a basic outline of the countries political history since the early 1900s.

I was not trying to start a theme, but the two books I’ve read this weekend have both involved ingenuity of transportation, and both coincidentally included stories of the author’s reaction to 9/11. In Cork Boat, Pollack is working as a Washington speech writer when it happens, so he is heavily affected by both the events and the hysterical aftermath that existed on the hill. In Che’s Chevrolet, Schweid is conducting his research in Cuba, and thinks the Israeli tourist who tells him what happened must have gotten her news wrong. He has to hunt down a ritzy foreigner hotel to see the news, as Cuba’s media is completely controlled and their are only two state run channels that show local, controlled stories.

Schweid’s book shows a Cuba that was quickly developing, with a lot of help from the US, that came to a dead stop after the revolution. With no economy to speak of, and the inability to import much, the country has stalled. Schweid makes the history of the automobile on the island the case in point, how there are approximately 60,000 1950s era cars on the road in Cuba, kept running by shear ingenuity, and piecing together parts from the Eastern European and Russian cars that are slowly imported.

He spends a chapter describing how Cuba was keeping up with America in the “planned obsolescence” of vehicle manufacturing in the ’40s and ’50s, this changed with the embargo, and I really enjoyed Schweid’s passage on how their attitude toward the cars changed:

” Mabye even now Cubans would buy a new car every couple of years, like North Americans, if they could. But the fact is right now they cannot. So they have cared for and maintained the same models that North Americans bought and threw away in great numbers, so many of them scrapped that the remaining few have become collector’s items. The mechanics in Havana and Santiago de Cuba who have kept these cars running all these years belong to a genre of Cuban genius. They have done these cars much prouder than the manufacturers who built them to throw them away.”

Pages read in current book: 216
Total pages read: 501
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

Mid-way Survey
October 25, 2009, 1:02 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

2. How many books have you read so far? 1.5

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Haven’t quite decided, but Mongolia, a card-toting messenger, and a food writer are some of the options.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? No, but I am skipping out on bookclub today.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Well, the dire need for sleep, which I combated by sleeping.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Maybe I haven’t been checking in on the right blogs, but I thought there would be more writing about the actual books. I’m fine either way, that was just an expectation that I had. I’m surprised at myself at how little reading I’ve gotten done. I had pretty lofty sights on my pile of books.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think it’s going really well, I’m definitely enjoying myself, and enjoying cruising around other people’s blogs. It would be interesting to see blogs split up by genre category – people who read mostly PUF, mystery, literary fiction, non-fiction, YA, and anything or everything category.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Organize my snack options better. There’s nothing in this house I want to eat, but I don’t want to go out and get anything either. I may have to try to convince a friend to go on a pizza run.

9. Are you getting tired yet? Not after my very refreshing nap. 🙂

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? I know how I like to format my book blogs, so I did some work earlier this week hunting down pictures and links and saving them in “draft” blogs so that if I got tired and spacey, I wouldn’t have to spend time doing that during the read-a-thon.

Pages read in current book: 76
Total pages read: 361
Please consider donating the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

At it again – Read-a-thon
October 25, 2009, 12:27 am
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

It was great to wake up from my longer-than-a-nap, shorter-than-a-night of sleep, to find all the comments. Thanks for the cheerleading!

One of the great things about my current book: Che’s Chevrlet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile, is that our narrator is not your typical travelogue writer. He’s an American in his sixties, born and raised in Nashville, schlepping around a back-pack and standing in hours long bus lines. In one scene he attempts to copy a college student’s trick of jumping off the back a camello (an open wagon type thing, hauled by a tractor that is very popular public transport) at his destination instead of waiting for it to stop several blocks later. While the college student nimbly hits the ground running and makes an easy exit, our narrator ends ups up on his back in the middle of street glad that there wasn’t another vehicle behind the camello.

I really liked Shweid’s description of the cars of Cuba, “These cars are like old people. They have liver spots of discolored paint, an inability to retain their fluids, and a coughing ignition that makes it hard for them to get started in the morning.”

From the book:

Currently reading:Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba by Richard Shweid

Current book pages read: 56
Pages read total: 341

On to book #2
October 24, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon, Travel

At the last moment I changed my mind about what my next book would be. I heard mention of this book in an Orion article, and have been really excited about it ever since. So far it is off to a promising start. Since the embargo started between Cuba and the US, no car parts have been allowed to be shipped in. Although Cuba can import cars from Russia, they are often too expensive for the current Cuban economy, so people through shear willpower and ingenuity have been keeping 1950s cars on the road for decades.

I’m probably going to take a nap while I read this…

Che’s Chevrolet, Fidel’s Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cubaby Richard Shweid

Current book pages read: 19
Pages read total: 304

Please consider donating to the charity I’m sponsoring: Child Upliftment Center

One book down – Read-a-thon
October 24, 2009, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

It’s only taken me from 9pm to almost 4am to finish my first book.  It was a great one and I’ve decided that John Pollack is someone I’d like to meet.

My friend Jim called in to see how the reading was going and if I needed a late night snack since he had some insomnia tonight.  He went out and got some cheesy rok boki from the nearest kimbap nara, open 24 hours, for me.  It’s a combo of ramen noodles, rice cake, kimchi, and a nice spicy red sauce.  I find it quite tasty.

I’m going to do a mini challenge, and then decide on my next book.

Hearing birds fly away: tender to the bone.

Currently reading: Cork Boat: A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built by John Pollack

Pages read in current book: 284
Pages read total: 284

The Boat Floats
October 24, 2009, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Books, Dewey's Read-a-thon

Cork Boat is a great book, and was a fantastic book to start out the read-a-thon. Although I’m not quite finished yet, I thought I should post again. I thought I would be doing more posting, but I’m reading slowly and milling around a bit, plus I’ve been enjoying a lot of other people’s blogs.

Cork Boat
There were several jokes in the book about the front of the boat looking inadvertently like someone flipping the bird.

Cork Boat is about following through with an amazingly difficult project against huge obstacles. I can’t believe how much work went into it’s construction, how much dedication Pollack and his friend Garth showed, and how many people really pooled around their project to help them. It’s really an inspiring story, but you really feel the grit of how many things really got in their way. Part of the frustration from Pollack’s point of view that really shows through is his strained relationship with his architect and parter on the project Garth.

At first I was a little bit put off by the potential environmental impact of their project, especially after they decided that used corks were going to take way too long to collect and decided to accept a donation of new corks from a cork manufacturer. But Pollack does a lot of research and teaches us in the beginning of the book that trees aren’t actually cut down to make corks. The outer layer of bark is stripped off and then corks are punched out of it, with the average cork tree living to be at least 200 years old.

Currently reading: Cork Boat: A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built by John Pollack

Pages read in current book: 198

Pages read total: 198