Monthly Archives: August 2010

Book Review: The Happy Isles of Oceania

WARNING fellow book club members – mild spoilers ahead

The Happy Isles of OceaniaThe Happy Isles of Oceania by Paul Theroux

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Huh. Well. What to say about this book that won’t put off the rest of my book club fellows before they’ve read it.

I did not enjoy this book. I think it probably could’ve been named “The Depressing Isles of Oceania” and been a lot more accurate.

The author is not a very happy person as he travels in his collapsible kayak around the isles. This is perhaps a bit understandable as he & his wife have just split up.

However, there doesn’t seem to be anything that can make him happy. People are either too helpful, or not helpful enough. He’s desperately afraid that he’s going to be robbed in (American and Western) Samoa. He really seems to have a problem with fat people (repeatedly mentioning that certain islanders are fat, such as Samoans, Tongans, various chiefs, etc.).

He searches for the decadence of the mythical South Pacific, but seems a little disturbed when it’s actually hinted at. He abhors religion (which, fine, I’m not fond of it either), but actually will challenge and mock individuals for their faith. I’m always up for a debate, but I think he mistook the word “debate” for “baiting.”

I have never been anywhere close to the Isles Mr. Theroux visits (not even Hawaii…sigh), and although I do believe they’re likely not the paradise depicted by films and books, I have a hard time believing that they are as sad & depressed & lazy & gluttonous & obnoxious & unfriendly & nosy as they are depicted in this book.

In one of what I thought was the most telling passages in the book, Mr. Theroux scoffs at anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl’s belief that the Moai statues on Easter Island could not have been created by the Polynesian inhabitants of the island**: “Probably the most obnoxious aspect of Heyerdahl is that he appears to display a deep bias, bordering on contempt, against Polynesians. In Fatu-Hiva, he maintains that the Marquesans are too lazy to have create the ambitious stonework and carvings on Hiva Oa.” This is funny, considering he spends a lot of the book’s chapters talking about the laziness of the Pacific Islanders (from the chapter on American Samoa): “[The American Samoans] were victimizers, they were oafish, and lazy, and defiant, and disrespectful.”

Overall, I hope that Mr. Theroux is in a happier place now (he seemed much happier in Hawaii, although whether that was due to the fact that he was beginning to accept his divorce, or whether the comforts of America were all he needed for a good cheer up, I can’t say) – and I’d like to read another book about this region from a more positive point of view.

**I am trying to say that the reason he scoffs is what amuses me – it’s been proven that the Easter Islanders are in fact of Polynesian (Marquesas, I think) descent, and that they did, indeed, create the Moai statues.

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Storyteller

As I was waiting at the MAX stop this morning, a man on a bicycle rode up. I noticed him right away for his…unique…outfit.

Black baggy shorts.

Brown, short-sleeved button-down shirt.

White knee socks.

Black sneakers.

Fanny pack.

Messenger bag.

iPhone in a holster with large, large headphones (not earbuds at all – the kind you see in recording studios!)

Did I mention the fanny pack?

I was, admittedly, staring. And then – I saw it.

A bug dropped from his shorts. It looked like a roach.

I was a little squicked out, but then who hasn’t randomly discovered a bug on themselves? Just last weekend, I was chasing an  escaped cat around my house & ran through a web. I was covered in sticky webs & tiny carcasses, but didn’t see the actual spider. Until a few hours later when I found it drowned in my cleavage (it was a hot day & I was sweaty glistening) – so I know that sometimes bugs happen.

But then – there was another! Another roach-like thing dropped from his shorts.

And I know you’re thinking what I’m thinking:

Order of Taraka, right?

I’m sure we all went to the same place there.

I wasn’t sure who he’d been sent to assassinate, so I just stayed away. Also because dude had bugs falling out of his pants. That is just not healthy.

*****

As I was looking for the Norman Pfister (above) image on the interwebs, I did find a lot of other, nicer images of the cast of Buffy. So, I’ll leave you with a much, much nicer one.

Much nicer.

7.16

Stuff & Things

My camera still isn’t fixed, which means that all the posts that I want to do aren’t happening, because why would I type words when I could just insert photos?

Some serious harvesting has happened, but does the five-gallon bucket of potatoes exist if I don’t show it to the internet?

The corn is beginning to be eaten – and it is delicious!

The fall/winter garden was planted, and then promptly decimated by a small army of squirrels and the hot day yesterday. I’m hoping it revives.

Grape tomatoes are the only ripe tomatoes in my garden, but I’m hoping for the rest soon!

My pumpkins are getting big AND I have one butternut squash.

I have started volunteering for a great organization – and am so excited! I’m hoping to become invaluable so that they will hire me in a couple of years. (That is my new plan; my old plan was to kill the guy whose job I want & hide him in the compost bin – it was pointed out that that plan might have a couple of flaws.)

I have been running twice a week this month. I am training for my last hurrah 10K (to be held on October 3, if anyone is interested – although all participants who beat me have to buy me a beer afterwards).

I somehow injured my lower back and have been going through periods with a fairly decent amount of pain. I’m pretty sure it would be getting better on its own if I would stop sleeping on my stomach.

I wrote out my life list – and am now pretty eager to get started crossing things out.

Six weeks from today, I will be one day post-op. I have some fantastic friends who are going to come hang out with me for the few days after my surgery so that the architect doesn’t have to take more than one day off. I have some of the greatest friends ever!

I have been at my job for 2 years and 4 months; next month this will officially be the longest job I’ve ever had. Naturally, I’m starting to get itchy feet and a desire to move on. I have a countdown to graduation (Feb 2012!), which is when I plan on actually moving on (also, it is when I plan on turning 35). Eighteen more months! Woo!

2010 Goals Update

I was thinking about goals the other day, and thought I’d check in on my 2010 goals. And then I laughed. And then I cried.

The goals:

  1. Run 1,000 miles (or at the very least, more miles than 2009) – this is not going to happen
  2. Go the entire year w/o triggering my automatic overdraft protection – this is a fail!
  3. Read 52 (non-school, new) books. – This will be a success unless I stop reading right now; I have already read 42 books this year
  4. Throw out/donate/recycle at least one item per week. – eek….I think I accidentally went in the other direction; I need to take a good look at this for sure
  5. Complete at least two triathlons. – fail, again…
  6. Half marathon PR. – not going to happen
  7. A’s in all core classes. – so far, so good; I have two more classes to go for the year!
  8. Be able to do 3 pull-ups in a row by December 31, 2010. – this is still a goal, and I’m still at zero
  9. End the year ten pounds lighter than I started it. – new goal- to not end the year 10 pounds HEAVIER.
  10. Do at least six volunteer activities. – this will be a success!

So – it looks like Damian has really screwed up my goals this year!

I am working on revising my list.

I will keep the following:

  1. Read 52 (non-school, new) books.
  2. Throw out/donate/recycle at least one item per week. – Changing to declutter & move to a simpler life
  3. A’s in all core classes. –
  4. Be able to do 3 pull-ups in a row by December 31, 2010.
  5. Do at least six volunteer activities. – this will be a success!

But – there are other things I think I need to add. Maybe I should do a retrospective & list things I’ve accomplished this year, instead! 🙂

Did you set goals? Are you accomplishing them? Are you, like me, finding that the ability to maintain flexibility (not physically, although that’s cool, too) is probably the most important goal?

Navel Gazing

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my life lately. Most of this has been ridiculously boring. I am halfway done with school at this point (18 months ’til it’s finished; also – 18 months ’til I turn 35…2012 is my year, bitches).

I’ve been thinking about things I’ve done & things I want to do. I’ve been thinking about the goals I had as a child and the goals I have now and how this interact.

I’ve been trying to decide what I want to do after graduation(it sure as shit does not involve staying where I’m at right now).

And then, today – I saw this on Blue Girl’s site. She says she stole this from Jaquandor. There is no way that I will ever do all 200 things on this list. There are a few things that I have no desire to do. But it’s nice to think about all the things I have accomplished so far.

I am working on a list of 100 things that I actually really want to do, but this is a nice resource in the meantime.

Things I’ve done are in bold.  Things I have no desire to do, ever, no matter what are crossed out. Things I really, really, really want to do are in purple.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantulaha ha ha ha ha – hell to the no
07. Taken a candlelit bath
08. Said I love you and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game – I’ve seen the Twins, the Dodgers & the Clippers!
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg Glacier Nat’l Park
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was too drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign countryOh, Jason from the Long Island Ice Tea Bar in London – I will never forget you
44. Watched wild whales – Admittedly I also got sea sick & barfed off the side of the boat, but in between the vomit, I did see a whale
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs.

57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaokeEvery Tuesday for several years, in fact.
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played a Computer game for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldnt have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wildthis is another one I think I’ll skip, due to the deathly ‘shroom allergy
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach I’m assuming that “petting with the shoe” totally counts on this one
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Changed your own oil
152. Changed your own brake pads
153. Made pizza from scratch
154. Stood atop the highest point in your home state –
When I lived in South Dakota! Harney Peak!
155. Gone swimming in a rock quarry
156. Gone on a trip of more than two days to an unfamiliar place and not eaten at a single chain restaurant
157. Grown your hair long
158. Made your own cheese
159. Re-established contact with an old flame many years later

160. Bought a car new and driven it until well past 150000 miles
161. Sewn a complete garment
162. Uttered a curse word in front of a clergyperson –
I’m not 100% positive, but I bet I’ve cursed in front of my dad…
163. Blown your rent money at your favorite store
164. Seen your car being towed
165. Phoned in a vote on some reality TV show competition
166. Seriously considered living in a different country
167. Served in the armed forces
168. Been kicked out of a movie theater
169. Seen a classic film on the big screen – I’m assuming I can count either Grease or Star Wars, right?
170. Eaten haggis
171. Eaten dim sum in a traditional setting
172. Prepared an entire Thanksgiving dinner
173. Gone swimming fully clothed
174. Gone swimming not clothed at all
175. Driven across the country taking shifts so the trip only takes a few days
176. Explored a construction site in the dark
177. Ridden an elephant
178. Attended a Major League Baseball game
179. Attended an NFL game
180. Attended an NHL game
181. Attended an NBA game
182. Seen a US President live
183. Actually met a sitting US President
184. Auditioned for a reality TV show
185. Been hit in the face with a pie
186. Stood in line on the release date of a product
187. Worked aboard a fishing boat
188. Cut down a fully mature tree
189. Seen the Mona Lisa
190. Seen the Sistine Chapel
191. Eaten fugu
192. Paddled a canoe or kayak
193. Held the control stick of an aircraft in flight
194. Asked a librarian for help finding a book
195. Personally acquired the autograph of a person you admire

196. Locked your keys in your car in a strange city
197. Had to break into your own home
198. Seen a space shuttle launch
199. Attended a NASCAR race
200. Marched in a parade

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