Reading from the end.

Edward O. Wilson’s small work Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies can be summed up nicely if you read from the last chapter to the beginning. Wilson argues that social interaction is related to the size of a species’ brain size.

I don’t know if I agree with this or not. Wilson provides a sketch of evolutionary biology, beginning with cells and ending with homo sapiens.

A nice, easy read for an introduction to evolution and biology.

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Three Red Dots

On page 189 of Gerri Chanel’s work Saving Mona Lisa, there is a picture of an older man with a mustache standing next to a wooden container with three large dots on its’ side. Something in the man’s posture and the look on his face catches your eye. His left hand is placed gently on the wooden container. There is a proud smile on his face.

Almost 7 decades after this picture was taken, this unnamed gentleman holds his place in history as being one of the many people who watched over DaVinci’s Mona Lisa during her journey out of Paris before and after World War II.

Chanel provides an excellent overview of the journeys that were undertaken to protect the works of art that were in the Louvre before and after World War II. The many people who worked to make sure the treasures were safe and the people who lost their lives are highlighted in her work.

A must read.

Josiah Henson

Growing up in an area where certain people are famous sometimes you forget there’s more to the story than you have heard repeated a million times over. And then you forget you only have so little time in history classes where again, the professors are trying to get in as much as possible.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is well known in Connecticut. Her house in Hartford is right across from Mark Twain’s. Stowe has always been “the little woman who started the great war”.

I’ve tried reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin several times but could never get into it. I think I’ve read almost everything else and then I find the book The Road to Dawn by Jared Brock and my reaction is…..not yet, you haven’t.

Until reading The Road to Dawn, I had never heard about The Key to Uncle Tom. My reaction was: what? There’s more? Lincoln read it as well? When do I get to read it? Stowe is one of my literary and political idols as she was very prolific and stood up for her beliefs. Stowe took her power of words and created ways to reach people and help change the world. It makes sense have would have had a compendium of sources.

I’ve been near, or maybe even passed, where Josiah lived in Maryland and quite possibly Kentucky as well. You go by history all of the time and don’t even realize it. Next time I go, it will be with different eyes.

Josiah never gave up. Dawn always comes.

Spetakkel

Spetakkel appears on page 162 of the book Fly Girls by Keith O’Brien. O’Brien quotes a woman from Kragnes Township in Minnesota. Spetakkel is defined as “rambunctious” in English, yet sounds better in Norwegian. This word was used to describe one of the first well-known and daring female pilots, Florence Klingensmith.

Have you ever heard of Florence Klingensmith? I am going to guess probably not. Neither had I until I read Keith O’Brien’s work. The only other person I had ever heard about in the book was Amelia Earhart.

O’Brien’s book is about the first aviatrixes in the United States beginning in the 1920’s. Earhart’s fame and untimely disappearance in the 1930’s overshadowed all of their lives, deaths, and accomplishments. O’Brien does a magnificent job of bringing them all back to life and the truth of their deaths.

These women accomplished the same and more than some men (sorry, fellas) yet history has forgotten them.

It’s Always Groundhog Day

I didn’t see the movie “Groundhog Day” when it first came out yet saw it years later and finally watched it again last night. I realized I missed a lot of the subtleties and the message the first time. Yes, Phil the Weatherman gets the girl but there is more going on.

Culturally, people always refer to this movie when they talk about things being the same and repeating over and over but the entire context and message is being overlooked. So was Phil the Weatherman really trapped for something like 12,000 plus days until he got everything right? Or did he just figure how to work the system he was in until he got everything “right” and changed his attitude? Or a combination of both?

We are all part of a “system” or many systems in our lives. Think about how many systems we come across daily. Our whole education system is set up to send us out into one of the many workforce systems. Our medical system, government system, debt system, financial system, religious systems. We can’t survive without them and wouldn’t have many of the daily services we rely on, like our electricity, plumbing, first responders, and roads.

People I talk to always complain about being trapped by “the system”. Some systems are not going to change because the people who work in them don’t want change or change comes slowly. Some people deal with the system in their own way, either by being negative or overly compensating. How many times have I gotten nasty responses and nasty looks when I say “just deal” because there are people and situations who are never going to change? Just wait until someone leaves because eventually change will happen. We each have our own situations like that. Just deal, ask for guidance how to change the situation, and keep going for now. Change will come but not in the way you usually want or can predict.

Phil the Weatherman had to figure this out and in the end worked it to his advantage. The people who were around him weren’t going to change, Phil had to change. There are some days none of us would ever want to be trapped in, myself included. Yet Phil went from being an awful jerk (sarcasm aside and sarcasm can be a life-saver sometimes) and trying to kill himself to understanding that he had to work with people on their level. Phil realized he had to understand them and find what made them happy and made them tick. Did he like all of them? Probably not. Yet it isn’t about liking, it’s about understanding. And when you can’t understand, at least try to work with them where they are now and then the future “nows”.

Will it get you the person of your dreams? That’s a Hollywood ending. Will it get you somewhere you never thought? I would venture to guess “yes”. So if everyday feels like Groundhog Day, take what you can, save it, learn from it, and make the best from it later on.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

My reaction to this book: Wow, just, Wow. One of the librarians at my local library said she can’t wait to read this book. Now I understand why. This book is better than the local news.

The story of George Washington Black, known as “Wash”, begins in Barbados and ends in Morocco. The story begins with how he sees the world and understands of it through what he learns about himself and his past. Wash undertakes many journeys, both physical and emotional, due to what happened to him on Barbados. Wash’s story gives a very different perspective to the world of the early 1800s.

A must read for history and science fans.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron

I began reading this book while sitting in a parking lot waiting for a wake to begin. I just needed something different from all of the seriousness and sadness going on. I actually wanted to finish reading this book, something that rarely happens.

Two couples decide to go on vacation together and their secrets, their past, and their problems follow them. The ending you don’t see coming and the big reveal is only one line that you may miss if you skip ahead.

Enjoy. Siracusa will have you hanging on for more.