Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for December 2010

Instant Translation

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Wow.  Just wow.


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December 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

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One of the great treats of Christmas break is the time and space to read a non-work related book or two.   This week I’ve read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

It’s the story of a year when she and her family of four live off only food either they grow and raise on their one acre garden or buy from local producers (milk, flour and hard cheese mostly).  Each family member had one exception.  In my opinion they choose very wisely: coffee, spices, dried fruits, and hot chocolate.

Kingsolver is a wonderful writer.  Her she is describing the land, food and family she loves and her warm for them love shines through.  It helps that she lives in a part of Virginia very much like my hometown.  Plus, having gardened a little bit over the last few years, I can identify with her adventures with asparagus, squash, and other fruits from various seasons.  It was also interesting to read about her adventures with chickens and turkeys, something I have no experience with.

I really resonated with much of her way of growing great food, cooking it, and eating it as a family in a tight community.  At the end of they year she totaled up her receipts and compared to the previous year saved over $5,000 in groceries (wow!).  Plus, the quality and variety of what she ate was pretty spectacular.

I’d loved her emphasis on bio-diversity, both for taste and food security reasons.  She grew lots of “heritage breed” plants and animals that were colorful, tasty and unique.  I’m thankful that people are growing breeds of squash and turkey for their taste rather than their transportability and ability to survive in a factory farm setting.  Give me some taste!

I felt lectured in a few parts (especially about “food miles”) but overall I really enjoyed this fun, lusty, modern story of a year of growing.  It inspired me want to grow and make more food and gave me a few concrete ideas (cheese making anyone?).  When we end up in a new home that has more sun I think we just might plant a bigger garden and a lot of fruit bearing trees.

Written by furthermusings

December 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Reviews

DPP Bonus Shot

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For all the Charity fans out there.

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December 27, 2010 at 10:45 am

Posted in Pictures, Travel

DPP Day 25: Christmas Day

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December 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Posted in Pictures, Travel

DPP Day 24: Submission

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I’ve been gone from the DPP for a while.  Here’s the reason.  Wow.

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December 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Political Science, UNC

DPP Day 17: The Goal

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December 17, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Posted in Pictures, UNC

Liar’s Poker

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This week I finished the rare end-of-the-semester-pleasure-book: Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis.  It’s an account of his short career as an investment banker in the 1980s.  It was laugh out loud funny in places and sharp witted about the life and values of an investment bank.  It reminded me a great deal of Power Broker in how it looked inside a large institution and showed the incentives it creates and the havoc they wreak.

It fed my growing feeling that I should be suspicious of the common wisdom that the institutions we interact with in life have our best interests in mind.  In this book it is the banks, the brokers, the government who come off looking poorly.  The government is ignorant of the havoc it has unleashed in deregulating savings and loans.  Local bankers gamble for redemption, wagering what’s left of their customer’s money in increasingly desperate bids to keep their jobs another month.  The investment bankers take advantage of their customer’s ignorance of the process and the market, working for their own profits instead of customer who is to ignorant to know they are getting screwed.

It all has me depressed about the institutions of the world.  It wasn’t the unabashed desire to make money that has me feeling glum, instead it was how the customers went like sheep to the slaughter, unable to understand what motivated the investment bankers.  The bankers themselves are hardly more admirable.   They used their monopoly position to ride the bubble up to the top, all the while congratulating themselves because the money they made proved how smart they really were.

All in all Liar’s Poker was a sharp read about that taught me a bit about bond trading in order to let me marvel at the dog-eat-dog, rich-get-richer world of Wall Street in the 1980s.  Helpful in understanding the 2000s and perhaps a bit about life as well.

Written by furthermusings

December 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Reviews