Monthly Archives: December 2010

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas afternoon here in London.  And I’m hungry.  The kitchen is closed at the hostel right now as the staff prepares a Christmas feast.   I’m surprised at how many people are orphaned in a hostel in London at Christmas.  There are a lot of Chinese people here too, which I will presume to mostly not be celebrating Christmas.  Any ways, the Christmas meal starts at 2.  I hear it’s all you can eat and drink. That’s the best Christmas gift you could ever give someone traveling on their own at Christmas.  It should be fun as everyone at the hostel has been friendly and in fine spirits the last two days.
My favorite part of my time in London has been the girl at the hostel who asked if the water from the tap was potable.  I told her I think it was alright as I was pretty sure there hadn’t been a Cholera outbreak since the end of the 19th century.  She seemed satisfied with that.  She was from Wisconsin.  I will hope that her opinions and views do not reflect that of the entirety of Wisconsin.
Ok that bit about the girl form Wisconsin wasn’t really my favorite bit in the last 48 hours.  There has been some really good times.  Like when I found 5 pounds on the floor at the Royal Oak.  Or going out for drinks with Louise at a sweet new pub I had not yet been to.  Or the midnight bike ride around Knightsbridge/Chelsea/Kensington.   Or my new drinking partners at Churchill who are really excited to meet my mom.  All those were really good.  Today I’m expecting nothing less in the way of fun.  That’s the wonderful thing about coming to London for me.  I never seem to have a bad time.  Everything always works out, I meet new people and have a fantastic time.
Tomorrow my mom gets into London.  Plans include going to Dover, Greenwich and to a couple top notch pubs.  Nothing is definite so we’ll have a lot of time to make plans on the fly.
Ok, I’m off for the day.  I’ll hope to get another update in before I go.  Either way, a very happy Christmas and happy new year to everyone!
Categories: holiday | 2 Comments

#50 The Napoleon of Notting Hill

I just got a little twing of a lump in my throat and a tiny rising of the hairs on my neck as I wrote “#50.”  Cause that means I’m done.  I’m free from the tyranny of a new years resolution which has been well worth it.  Pushing myself to read so many books in a very busy year has been very rewarding.  More rewarding than having finished a semester of grad school that’s for sure.

So number 50.  Not the number 50 I wanted, but the one I ended up with.  The Napoleon of Notting Hill.  It felt like a book I had to read for school.  To me that means I should be able to pull out some symbolism, overall themes and a write at least 1000 word critical analysis of it.  I’m not going to go into any of those details here because they will bore you.  But I will say I thought the book was rather short.  It should have been developed a bit more with the fighting scenes.  But that is neither here nor there now.
I chose this book because it all takes place around Kensington, London.  I know the streets and the neighborhoods they talked about quite well.  So it was easy for me to imagine in my brain this nonsense happening where it happened.  It was a good read.  The whole war was built on a farce.  Hahaha.  Imagine:   A war being based on farce!   So obviously fiction……

So I’m done.  I will keep reading this year.  This night even.  No rest for the weary.  I will have a top 5 book list.  Actually a whole list of best of 2010, so get pumped for that.  Now you guys won’t be bored with stupid book reviews any more most importantly.  I know I’m tired of posting them.

That is all.  I have to get going.  The uni library is closing and I have to make my way to the other library before it closes to return all these books.  TTFN friends.

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#49 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I picked up The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the children’s section when I was trying to find Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass (which I haven’t found and I’m going to have to sit in a bookstore and read or re-buy the book).  But I figured I should probably The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and what better time than now.  It was good and quite different from the technicolor 1939 film version.  There was much less witch business in the book and a heck of a lot of other creatures and incidences.  Good read.  Really touching.  Everything those characters were looking for from the Great and Terrible Oz was already in them!!!  Very heartwarming.  A feel good holiday kind of thing.  I will have to finish my other library book tomorrow which I’ve started and been unable to sit down and finish.  Cause Thursday I’m off to LDN for a good week or so.

Can’t believe I’m 106 pages from being done with this damn goal.  With a week to spare!  A Christmas miracle!

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I have to say I’ve never felt particularly confident in myself.  I’m scared to death most of the time, with little clue to what I’m heading into in my  life.  Just blindly going where I thought I needed to go next.

It hasn’t been until recently when I’ve finally owned up to some sort of confidence in myself.  There’s a lot I have in my life to be proud of and think of as good.  I just went back and read some of my past writings just now.  Wow.  I have to think, after reading what I did, that strength and resolve has always been there.  It’s just now, just within the last year or so that there’s self-assuredness.  Real belief in myself that I can do anything.   If boldness has gotten me to where I am today, I’m excited to see where I can head next with a bit o’ swagger and confidence with me…….

Well, for now next is a beer fest in Preston.  Good enough.

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#48 Adventure Capitalist

Conor Woodman took $50,000 right as the current recession was about to happen and set off on an around the world trading adventure.  His goal was to see if he could buy goods in one country and sell them in the next country he visited.  Did he succeed?  Well, you’ll have to read the book.  On his to sell list was coffee, camels, chili sauce, jade, tea and some other stuff.  And he did a lot of haggling.  I myself am too chicken shit to haggle, but it’s the way things are done in most parts of the world.  Maybe I should work on it before I go to Kenya.  Good little read.  Despite not ever taking a business class or having the slightest desire to ever get involved, I find the process and practice all very fascinating.  I like reading the business section of the NY Times.
I also like knowing I only have 2 more books to read this year.  More than likely, I’ll read more than 50, but it will be pleasant not to have this pressure to do so.  In 2011, I’m going to try and pick some new years resolutions that are not so stressful.  Maybe trying to go to the Seychelles or something.  Yes, that sounds nice.

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#47 There’s a Hippo in my Cistern

It’s is remarkable how focused I can get on reading when I have about 5 hours on a train back and forth from York and sitting in a pub by myself with a pint and a book.  I got all but the last 5 pages of There’s a Hippo in my Cistern done on my journey yesterday, which I promptly finished before I went to bed.  It was a really charming little read I must say.  It was about the author, Pete May evolving from footy loving, bachelor writer in London into a total eco-nut.  All because of a girl.  A very nice love story and fun to see how people are pushing green in their lives.  They have quite the adventure.  And it’s pretty funny.  I’d reccommend it.

So close! I’m going to try and finish my quest this weekend.

Categories: 50 Books | 3 Comments

#46 Gross Misconduct

I’m so glad I’m no in business.  It seems dirty and slimy and yucky.  Especially the way Venetia Thompson was doing it.  Her story is one about the year leading up to the financial crash.  She was a broker in London before she was sacked for writing an article in the Spectator about the way things happened at her company.

I’ve had a very bad perception of big business the last week and this book did not help its cause.   I watched some documentaries about some food companies on BBC and the ceo or some big wig at Danone said sustainability was about finding a balance between the environment, economic and society.  Actually, sustainability has nothing to do with that.  I got mad about it and watched the rest of the documentary peeved.  These documentaries were obviously supposed to be objective.  They interviewed Michael Pollan.  It was funny to watch him try to be objective about big food corporations.

So it was an alright read.  I’m glad Venetia had the guts to write this book and tell it like it is.  The bastards are riding high and living life in excess while most people struggle.  Exploitation and greed, that’s what it is my friends.  Great.  Now I’m fired up.

Oh well.  Back to reading.  4 books.  15 days?  No problem.  I know what my last book will be if I can find a damn copy of it!  It’s proving to be difficult for some reason.  That’ll teach me not to finish a book in a reasonable amount of time.

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#45 A Guide for the Perplexed

I’m super stoked to read some of E.F. Schumacher‘s other books after reading this one. Originally published in 1977, his writing still holds true today. It’s a philosophy book of sorts. One that acknowledges our general lack of connection with a higher power.
He finally put into words that sounds smart the “filler philosophy” that Corn and I developed in high school. I’m so glad I read it.

I’m not sure I mentioned this before, forgive me if I did, but I feel if I’ve gotten anything out of being back in school it is being exposed to new thoughts and ideas. Well duh, Colleen. Obviously. But I don’t mean the philosophies and information that I have been getting in class. It’s everything on the periphery. All the additional readings have read to other additional readings the last few months.
My introduction to E.F. Schumacher came from one of the books I read about Forest Gardening. He wrote the forward. His name kept popping up all over the place so I figured I’d better start reading him. After this silly book thing is over, I will read his book Small is Beautiful. It’s a big economics book and I don’t think I can digest it in the next couple weeks along with the other reading I have to do.

Any ways, if you like philosophy, give this book a go.

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#44 The Last Tortoise

If I keep reading a book a day, I’ll be able to actually relax part of this Winter Break!  As if I like relaxing…..

The Last Tortoise was brilliant!  I couldn’t have told you the difference between a tortoise and a turtle before this book (I can now, but I’m not telling you.  You’ll have to read the book.  Or just google it).  Yeah, a really good book about the extinction of tortoises around the world and that they are going extinct because people in Asia really like eating them and people in the rest of the world like them as pets.  They aren’t very good pets to tell the truth.  Most tortoises are unhappy and unhealthy in captivity.  Any ways, the book was about a lot more than tortoises.  It was about conserving natural habitats for animals, bringing animal populations back from the brink of extinction, the role of tortoises in ecosystems, and stuff about trees.  If you like tortoises, you’ll love the book.  If you are interested in environmental issues you’ll love the book too.


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#43 The Silver Linings Play Book

I went to library.  Looked at some non-fiction books I wanted to read and decided the way to achieve 8 more books this year is going to be reading fiction.  After wandering the fiction section for a while, I chose three very random books.  Two of which I knew absolutely nothing about and the other one is an old movie.  A movie I haven’t even seen, but would like to see after seeing some bits of it on the BBC’s History of Horror.

My plan this evening was to drink lots of beer.  That did not go to plan as they ran out of the beer I was planning on drinking all night (Marble Bitter) after my first pint of it.  This was followed by one pint of porter that did nothing for me but make me want to go home.  It was during this 2 pint and dinner time that I knocked out 1/2 of one of the books I chose.  The Silver Linings Play Book.  It was alright.  As I read it, I thought it felt more like a movie script.  That kind of bothered me.  And having now searched for the title on the internet, I see it’s scheduled for release in 2013.  And maybe staring Bradley Cooper and Anne Hathaway.

It was alright.  It’s about a crazy guy on his way to righting his life again.  Meh.

All I know is that I have 7 books left to read in 17 days.  I say 17 days because Mum gets into London on Boxing Day and my reading time will be limited.    That is all.

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