Sunday 28 June 2009

Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land by: Sven Lindqvist

Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land
Sven Lindqvist

Translated by Sarah Death

The New Press
ISBN 9781595580511

In the last few years Sven Lindqvist has become one of my favorite nonfiction authors. He probes some of the worst situations in human history, yet always ends up with giving us some hope for our future. In earlier books, such as Exterminate All The Brutes he chronicles the history of European genocides in Africa, and in The Skull Measurers Mistake he chronicles a history of men and women who spoke out against racism. In this volum
e, Terra Nullius: A Journey Through No One's Land, he chronicles the history of racism and systematic abuse against the Aboriginals from Australia, from the arrival of James Cook in 1770 to 1992 when the Mabo Decision in the Australian Supreme Court outlaws the concept of 'terra nullius'.

Like many of his earlier books it is written as part history and part journal. He chronicles events from the past, key places in this history story, and side by side with that is his journey to and fro across the Australian countryside to personally experience the places discussed in the history. He writes in a very fluid, lucid style. At times it appears to be stream of conscious writing, yet as the reader goes further and further into the book, you realize that it was nothing so random. Every history event portrayed has a specific purpose; each personal recollection brings to light either the preceding or following events; each portrait of either a victim or someone who attempted to help the victims has specific meaning and purpose to the whole.

What amazed me most about this book was that it was a story with which I was completely unfamiliar. I remember in school in the late 70's and early 80's that we often had lessons on apartheid and the situation in South Africa, and even Africa as a whole. Later in high school and into university I often encountered history around the Latin American situation and especially liberation theology, and again in film with such powerful movies as The Mission, Cry Freedom, Amistad and others. Yet never have I encountered these stories and events. Such as:

1911 In the Northern Territory, The Aboriginals Ordinance gives a protector appointed by the 'whites' authority to take any Aborigine of 'half-blood' into custody at any time. The ordinance remained in force until 1957.
1937 The Native Administration Act gives Chief Protector legal instruments with which to 'breed out' the Aborigines, the 'final solution' to the race problem in Western Australia.
1953 The Welfare Ordinance (NT) substitutes the racially neutral word 'ward' for 'Aborigine'. More than 99 percent of the Aboriginal population is declared 'wards' of the state.
1962 Aboriginal people acquire the right to vote in state and commonwealth elections, even though they are still wards of the state.
1964 Aboriginal people are no longer wards of the state, but in name only.
1967 Aboriginal people are included in the national census.
1983 Sixteen Year old John Pat dies in police custody; 5 officers are charged but acquitted.
1991 The Year of Indigenous People.

Lindqvist's book portrays brutal acts by individuals and by a people as a whole. It is not uplifting or enjoyable in the message it portrays. Yet it should be considered essential reading, for man's inhumanity to other humans must be remembered, and we need to remember those few who spoke out against it. Lindqvist's book is easy to read and flows well, but the subject matter and events depicted will be seared into your memory.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-06-26.)

Saturday 27 June 2009

Beyond The Grave - 39 Clues Book 4 - Jude Watson

Beyond The Grave
The 39 Clues - Book 4

Jude Watson

ISBN 9780545060448

If Book 3, The Sword Thief was a little disappointing, book 4, Beyond the Grave more than made up for it. This story takes place in
Egypt, in and around various cities and especially some of the tombs and temples of ancient Egyptians. In this book Dan and Amy find themselves at odds with each other. They also realize that they are becoming more and more like the other Cahills; they are lying, cheating, stealing and they also realize that they do not like it. They also encounter a friend of their late Grandmother, Hillary Vale and her grandson Theo. At first they seem like friends and eager to help the children, but looks can be deceiving, especially if the Cahills are around.

This book has a better pace than book 3; it is well-written and the characters seem more true to themselves. The story is starting to progress at a breakneck speed. Yet with 7 authors over 10 books it will be hard to predict where the series is going or how we will get there. Like earlier books, this one had a lot of historically accurate information, and gives a history lesson in a fun adventure book. The series is great for people of all ages. From young children having it read to them to retirees, it seems there is something in the 39 Clues for everyone.Jude Watson did a good job of reining in the story; she also carried the characters forward in a well-developed manner. My biggest complaint about the series is that the books keep getting shorter. At this rate the last few will be novelettes not novels. My second complaint is that the final book is not due out until the fall of 2010. This seems like a terribly long time, but with 10 books in 3 years it is still a great feat. This book left the reader eagerly anticipating book 5 due out in August of this year - The Black Circle by Patrick Carman.

Sites With More Info:

The 39 Clues:
The Maze of Bones - Book 1 - Rick Riordan
One False Note - Book 2 - Gordon Korman
The Sword Thief - Book 3 - Peter Lerangis
Beyond the Grave - Book 4 - Jude Watson
The Black Circle - Book 5 - Patrick Carman
In Too Deep - Book 6 - Jude Watson

The Viper's Nest - Book 7 - Peter Lerangis
The Emperor's Code - Book 8 - Gordon Korman

Storm Warning - Book 9 - Linda Sue Park
Into the Gauntlet - Book 10 - Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Black Book of Buried Secrets - Rick Riordan
Vespers Rising - Book 12 - Rick Riordan

Card Pack #1 - Books 1-3
Card Pack #2 - Books 4-6
Card Pack #3 - Books 7-9
Rare Card Pack

The 39 Clues Cahills vs. Vespers
The Medusa Plot - Book 1 - Gordon Korman
A King's Ransom - Book 2 - Jude Watson
The Dead of Night - Book 3 - Peter Lerangis
? - Book 4 - Roland Smith
? - Book 5 - Linda Sue Park
? - Book 6 - David Baldacci

The 39 Clues Rapid Fire:
Legacy - Book 1 - Clifford Riley
Ignition - Book 2 - Clifford Riley
Hunted - Book 3 - Clifford Riley
Crushed - Book 4 - Clifford Riley
Turbulence - Book 5 - Clifford Riley
Invasion - Book 6 - Clifford Riley
Fireworks - Book 7 - Clifford Riley

(First published in Imprint 2009-06-26.)

Friday 26 June 2009

Confessions of a Bibliophile #5 - How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict

Confessions of a Bibliophile #5
How I Became a Bibliophile,
From Dyslexic to Addict

I have been asked by some of my readers to explain how I went from being a dyslexic to a reading addict. I was originally tested for learning disabilities in grade one in 1976. That initial testing was inconclusive. So I repeated grade one, then in grade two my teacher insisted on and pushed for me to be retested. In January of 1978 during my second testing I was diagnosed with a dual form of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a genre of diseases and it is like saying you have the flu. With my dual form I could spell words out loud correctly and put them on paper incorrectly, then spell them out loud a second time looking letter for letter at the paper and not recognize the error. So I left my normal class each week for a few hours for assistance, and was passed each year into the next grade. Towards the end of grade seven my parents sent me for private testing. I was reading at only a grade three level.

My parents enrolled me in a private summer school program eight hours a day 5 days a week, for the whole summer break. It was an intensive program with low student-to-teacher ratios. Each day we did three reading tests. We read out loud for a set amount of time, then we lost words from our word count for any wrong words when we read the passage, and for any wrong comprehension questions on the passages. Prior to this I had not read any books from cover to cover. I made it through school by being a good listener in class, renting the movies, or asking other people in the class. During this course I went from reading at a grade three level to reading at a university level, and from reading about 30 words per minute to reading over 600 words per minute. Now to put that into perspective, here are North American Reading Averages:

Grade 3-4 Student 60-80wpm
Senior-elementary student 120-180wpm
High-school student 200wpm
Average Adult 200wpm
University student 325wpm
Graduate student 400wpm
Average Speed Reader 500-1500wpm.

The average adult rate is the same for everyone, even for university graduates. Once people are not reading as much or as intensely as they used to, their reading rate atrophies. Yet all of this only took care of my ability to read. Because I had spent so many years behind others I was still behind in my writing, and still had the problem with letters reversing while writing. Using a computer helped it to some extent but when I am really tired it even shows up when using a keyboard. However, at the end of the course, I started reading, realized there was a whole world in books I had been missing, and immediately I was hooked.

At first I read mostly science fiction and fantasy - the likes of Robert A. Heinlien, Piers Anthony, Steven Brust, Roger Zelazny, Edgar Rice Burrows and more. Then by about grade ten I was reading classics, Greek dramas, Thomas Hardy, complete works of Shakespeare and just about anything I could lay my hands on. I became an addict in the true sense of the word. I would find an author I liked and read everything he or she wrote.

I went on to be retested for my learning disability, to establish baselines for academic accommodations, in 1982 and again in 1989.

To be honest, if you had told me five years ago I would be a published author, and now a columnist, I would have laughed at you. With the learning disability I never even dreamed of being a writer. Now I have published over 200 book reviews in 7 different publications, written news and features articles, written two three-part serial features - the first on WSIB and the second on Bone Marrow - and all by chance. A few years back I was working at Chapters and I started getting books before they came out, from contacts at publishing houses. I would write reviews that they could pull quotes from for sales and marketing. After about four months of this I thought, "Why not try to submit these to Imprint?" Most newspapers have book reviews, and I had not seen any in the paper in a long time, usually just CD or movie reviews. So I wrote the then Editor-in-Chief and that first summer had two book reviews in almost every issue.

I love to read. It is probably my favorite pastime, or tied with playing on computers (but that is a different column for fall term). I always carry a knapsack with at least two books, a journal and pencil case. In the early years of my marriage I was defined as 'the reader'. The question at gatherings was always: 'Who's that in the corner reading?' and the answer was: 'Oh, that's Andrea's husband.' I almost feel naked without a book and a journal in which to make notes. Even in the last few years, with having children, my reading has only gone up each year. I read everything - fitness, self-help, theology, fiction, science fiction. I truly am a book addict. That is the story of how I became one, and I never knew what I would find between the pages.

(First published in Imprint 2009-06-26.)

Other Articles Examining Who I Am:
Mad Celtic Warrior, Poet and Priest! - An Essay - 2003
The Journey of a Quester! - An Essay / Spiritual Biography 2004
New Year's 2006
Who Am I? Who Am I? -2008
Confessions of a Bibliophile #5 - How I Became a Bibliophile, From Dyslexic to Addict - 2009
New Year's Goals 2010
Steven R. McEvoy Interview - 2012
2014 My Goals

Who I Am - 2014

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Hide-and-Peek by: Little Scholastic

Little Scholastic

ISBN 9780545135863

This is a fantastic book for young children. It is geared from baby to 3 and it captivates young children. There are often tugs-of-war for who will get this book. Every page has different shapes as cutout to the page beneath. There are also numerous textures, materials, and raised surfaces for tactile learning. A rough sparkly star becomes a round shiny sun, raindrops on a cloud become a bumpy ball. With great photos of baby expression, mirrors and such it is a great book for little eyes and hands. It's oversized nature for board books make it easy to handle for even very young children. It's a wonderful book for young children and those who look after them and spend time with them. It is also part of the Little Scholastic series that has oversized books called Rhyme-a-Round and Playtime, and regular sized board books for the alphabet, colors and shapes. Guaranteed to entertain the young kids in your life.

Friday 19 June 2009

Day of the Iguana - Hank Zipzer Book 3 by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Day of the Iguana
Hank Zipzer Book 3

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Penguin Canada

ISBN 0448432129

As the back of the book says: "Hank Zipzer: He's smart. He's creative. He's funny. His pencils are sharpened. His binders are bound. He wants to do well in school - he really does.
He tries not to be lazy, like his parents claim he is. So why is he always getting into trouble?" Maybe just because he is Hank Zipzer. Hank is blessed with good friends, a good family, and even exceptional intelligence. The problem is he has learning disabilities, and even though he tries hard, things do not always go as he plans. With the big science fair coming up, who can imagine the problems Hank will run into.

Hank comes up with a fantastic idea for his science project. He plans on trying to make the TV Guide on cable easier for kids with learning disabilities to read. He plans to take apart the family cable box and experiment with it. But while he has the box apart his sisters Iguana lays eggs in it. Zipzer must rethink his plan and deal with a nesting Iguana under his bed. Oh what an adventure.

Books by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Hank Zipzer Books:
1. Niagara Falls, or Does It?
2. I Got a "D" in Salami
3. Day of the Iguana
Zippety Zinger
5. The Night I Flunked My Field Trip
6. Holy Enchilada!
7. Help! Somebody Get me out of Fourth Grade!
8. Summer School? What Genius thought That Up?
My Secret Life as a Ping-Pong Wizard
10. My Dog's a Scaredy-Cat: A Halloween Tail
11. The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Went Down
12. Barfing in the Backseat: How I Survived My Family Road Trip
13. Who Ordered This Baby? Definitely Not Me!
14. Life of Me
15. A Tail of Two Tails
16. Dump Trucks and Dogsleds: I'm On My Way, Mom!
17. A Brand-New Me!

Ghost Buddy Books:
1. Zero to Hero
2. Mind If I Read Your Mind?
3. How to Scare the Pants off Your Pets

Monday 15 June 2009

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3 by: Patrick Carman

The Tenth City
The Land of Elyon Book 3
Patrick Carman
ISBN 9780439700955

This is book three in the Land of Elyon trilogy and the tenth book by Carman that I have read. It is the 5th set in Elyon. Elyon is the Semetic for God or Most High, and the Tenth City is a city shrouded in mist that none can reach, for it is the home of Elyon and his angels. The power of Carman's creativity is exemplified by the fact that this is the middle book of the 5 set in this land. It is the last I read, and yet nothing was lost by reading it after the others. I am sure something would have been gained by reading them in order but they did not come into my hands in sequence. Carman is a master story teller and this book is an excellent example of that.

Book 3 is the end of the original trilogy of Eloyn by Patrick Carman. In it the Grindall still has Yipes captured and is demanding the return of the last of the magical jocasta stones by Alexa Daley. As usual she is traveling and battling the forces of darkness with a strange mix of companions. The Warlord, Odessa the wolf, Squire the Hawk, Murphy the squirrel, and Armon the Giant are just a few of the characters that return in this adventure. The story focuses around a battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Elyon loves his creatures and wants the best for them; Abaddon is a monster bent on destruction and fire, whose sole driving purpose is to destroy Elyon and the creatures he loves.

The books draw heavily upon religious and Christian imagery. It is told in a masterful way. Yet it all comes down to Alexa. Can she once again save the day? You will have to read the book to find out. But there is a hint in that Carman went on to add two more books set in this world featuring Alexa. To some extent she is central to both. It is a great book in a good series - it will be fun, light summer reading.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-06-12.)

Other of Patrick Carman Books:

The Dark Hills Divide - The Land of Elyon Book 1
Beyond the Valley of Thorns - The Land of Elyon Book 2

The Tenth City - The Land of Elyon Book 3
Into The Mist - The Land of Elyon Prequel
Stargazer - The Land of Elyon Book 4

The House of Power - Atherton Book 1
Rivers of Fire - Atherton, Book 2
The Dark Planet - Atherron Book 3

Saving Mr Nibbles
- Elliot's Park Book 1
Haunted Hike - Elliot's Park Book 2
The Walnut Cup - Elliot's Park Book 3
A Windy Tale - Elliot's Park Book 4

Skeleton Creek - Skeleton Creek Book 1 - A Prereview.
Ghost in the Machine - Skeleton Creek Book 2

Crossbones - Skeleton Creek Book 3
The Raven - Skeleton Creek Book 4

The Black Circle
- 39 Clues Book 5

Trackers #1

Thirteen Days to Midnight

Sunday 14 June 2009

The Promise - Bif Naked

The Promise
Bif Naked
Her Royal Majesty's Records

Release date May 5th 2009

Bif Naked's new album is an incredible mix of all that makes Bif a Queen of the Canadian Music scene. In the last few years she has overcome breast cancer and been married. Both of these have helped to influence and shape her music in a new way. There is an incredible mix of pop, rock, metal and techno. Few artists can pull off such a range let alone in a single album but Bif manages it well.

From the first track Crash and Burn we have the powerful refrain "if I am alive for the first time, I must have died inside so I could let go of things that weren't mine, I'm crashing and burning, you're crashing and burning we're crashing and burning". Then there is the oddly addictive song Honeybee, that sounds like a classic 50's or 60's rock song with intensely modern lyrics: "There's been a murder, in my kitchen, I hit him hard, I hit him fast, I watched him die, but for the life of me, I'm still missing an excuse, an explanation, a good reason why." Odd lyrics considering her recent nuptials, yet maybe not odd but openly honest as merging households can be difficult. The most popular track thus far is F**k You Two, in which the voice moans the loss of a lover to the opposite sex. The lyrics declare: "I'm losing my world, Cause you're leaving and I'm dying without you, So now I am nothing to you, So f**k you too".

This album is light and energetic in its feel and music yet deeply intense and pervasive in the powerful lyrics. Over all it is an excellent album and a great addition to the Bif Naked Canon. The only album I think is better as a whole is 2005's Superbeautifulmonster. Yet The Promise does have a depth and quality that will endear it to fans old and new alike.

Track Listing
1) Crash And Burn - 3:33
2) Sick - 3:40
3) Bluejay - 3:54
4) F**K You 2 - 3:15
5) Honeybee - 2:53
6) You'll Never Know - 2:53
7) My Innocence - 3:28
8) Red Flag - 3:26
9) Ciao, Bella - 4:05
10) King Of Karma - 3:14
11) Amazon Motel - 3:43
12) River Of Fire - 3:45
13) Welcome To The End - 3:57
14) Save Your Breath - 3:04

(First Published in Imprint 2009-06-12.)

Saturday 13 June 2009

living "lexi" A Walk in the Life of a Dyslexic by: Shelly Tammell

living "lexi"
A Walk in the Life of a Dyslexic

Shelley Trammell

Book Surge

ISBN 9781439204931

This is the story of a family struggling and learning to overcome Dyslexia. Written by Shelly and her daughter Isabella, it chronicles their journey to learn about the disease and everything they can to help overcome. At just under 50 pages it is an intense little book. It is also a great resource for other families struggling with this affliction.

It is published in a font that looks like a hand-written script. It also has a strange mix of formatting, often missing caps or punctuation, or with words and phrases in bold type or emphasized in other ways. It is written to explain how some with dyslexia experience the world. It does a great job of capturing some of the frustration and difficulties of a person with a learning disability who is constantly being told they do not live up to their potential, yet struggling to do everything they can.

This mother and daughter team are open and vulnerable in a way that is both moving and encouraging. As someone who had his dyslexia diagnosed in the mid 70's I wish there had been more resources like this around then. The whole last section of the book is four pages full of links to help you learn more about this and other conditions.

Chances are you know someone with a learning disability. In reality, many of the people you know might have disabilities that you do or do not know about. This book will give you a glimpse into their lives, their struggles and hopes. It is written as a success story, but also to emphasize that all of us want to succeed, no matter what might be hindering us or holding us back. This book can provide some encouragement to keep pushing on and striving for those goals and dreams that we have. Well done Shelly and Isabella. As the old joke goes, dyslexics of the world 'untie'!

(First Published in Imprint 2009-06-12.)

Friday 12 June 2009

Confessions of a Bibliophile #4 - Author Addiction Or Reading Stalker?

I often wonder about addictive personalities - in part because of my own. It manifests itself in many ways, shapes and forms. In regards to my readings, I keep lists of each book read each year, favorite authors, and favorite books. These lists can be seen on my blog as well as a nearly complete collection of my published and unpublished reviews. But when does a love of an author's writing become an addiction, or a form of literary stalking? I think in the last number of years I have had a few book or author fetishes; in short, in short periods of time read entire author canons or most of their works, or compulsively tracked down out-of-print and hard-to- find obscure books from various authors. In this week's column I will examine a few of those obsessions, and maybe my reflections will provide a mirror to parts of your own life.

I did not keep track of the books I had read until the fall of 1995. Since then I have read over 1300 books. So in the last 151 months I have read 1334 books - that is an average of almost nine books a month and 104 books a year. In that same time frame I have read the following sets. Between 1995 and 1997, 31 books by Madelein L'Engle. I read 18 by Kathy Shaidle, 35 by C.S. Lewis, and since 2006, 37 by Jose Maria Escriva. I have read only six of his books but combined I have read Calvin Miller's books 56 times, and I have read only 4 of Noah benShea's books but read them for a total of 28 times. I would definitely say that is fanatical if not obsessive behavior!

Yet that is only part of the story. Chuck Palahniuk wrote the novel Fight Club, and after seeing the movie in the summer of 2004, I devoured all of his books except Fight Club - both his fiction and non-fiction. I read 7 of his books, 2 collections of his works in under a year, then finally read Fight Club. A while back, a short story The Warm Sand that I had read haunted me for decades. After being reminded of it while browsing used book stores in Toronto I managed to track it down. (Here is a story about the story and how I found it the story is also posted with permission.) After finding the story again, I interlibrary loaded every edition of all of author J.F. Power's books and read them and compared different editions of his short stories.

In my column two weeks ago I talked about Canadian Phenom Kathy Shaidle. I first encountered her blog, tracked down her books in print, then spent the better part of a day tracking down a small independent publisher in Toronto that released early editions of her works of poetry and managed to get copies that were still in stock so that I would have all of her books. (An author profile.)

I often get asked how I read so much, or why I sometimes reread books again and again. The answer is simple I read because I must. There is some small part of my that needs to read daily, it is central and core to my being. I read over 100 books a year, and any given year 15-20 of those are rereads. I reread books for a few different reasons; first because the book has had a lasting impact on me, and I need to reread it to experience that effect again. The list of these annual rereads change, as some become less important and some are added to the list. Some book's I reread because I know I did not 'get it all', an example of this is The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom, the first time I read this I loved it but knew that about a third of the theory was over my head. So in successive readings I have gleamed more and more form the book. Some books I reread because new books have come out in a series, I have gone back and reread some series chronologically, and also in the order they were published. Finally some books I reread just because I love them and want to revisit the characters, the story or revisit the impact it had upon my life.

I have met only a few of my favorite authors in real life: Madelein L'Engle, Chuck Palahniuk, Michael W. Higgins and a few more. I have corresponded with a few on the web and before the 90's through snail mail. I also used to collect signed books, both those I had signed and those for which I sometimes paid a stupid amount of money. Recently on e-bay I saw a 1st Edition Fight Club go for over $1500USD. Before marriage and children I was never that bad but I was overly zealous in my acquisitions. I still have only a few signed books - sold some when I needed the money and some when I needed the space. But the question remains: Do I stalk authors? I find I do. I tend to find an author I like and try to read everything they have published. I sometimes compare various editions of books like Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land considered a classic in its day. After his death, the original book almost three times the size was released by his estate. It was even better than the version his publisher made him hack down, and that had been a classic for ages. However I seldom have gone out of my way to engage authors on the web or in real life. A few have contacted me because of my reviews - most thanking, a few complaining and one outraged. Yet, as always, you never know what you will find between the covers.

(First published in Imprint 2009-06-12.)

Wednesday 10 June 2009

70-284 Implementing and Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 by: Ian McLean

70-284 Implementing and Managing Microsoft Exchange Server 2003
Ian McLean

Microsoft Press
ISBN 9780735621367

My college program included 14 computer courses and the related certification exams. This is the second last for which I am preparing to write the certification exam. Prior to this, I have only really used the Exchange Server Active Directory Connector. Through this book and this course I have been able to learn the fundamentals of Exchange servers and Exchange organizations. The biggest surprise was the amount of networking involved. Prior to using this book, and taking this course, I assumed most of the exchange would just be the Windows Server 2003 Exchange environment. I was mistaken. SO much of the material needed to succeed in this course and this exam is networking. Ian McLean does an excellent job of teaching the material through this book. There was a kid in my program at school who was enthusiastic about computers but undisciplined in his work habits. He was able to pass this exam on his first attempt.

This book covers a lot of material over many disciplines. The exam itself is one of the hardest I have written. This book is a great tool to help you prepare, either for working directly with exchange server or to prepare for the exam.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Julie's Wolf Pack by: Jean Craighead George

Julie's Wolf Pack
Jean Craighead George

Harper Collins - Browse Inside
ISBN 9780060274078

Though this was a third book in a series, it was a wonderful read as a stand- alone novel. It is about an older girl who had lived with a wolf pack for seven months when she was lost in the Alaskan tundra.

This is the story of Kapu, Julie's half brother in the pack and his reestablishing the pack after the loss of his father.

It is also the coming of age love story of Julie and Peter and their desire to live as their ancestors did back out on the tundra.

(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Looking for a Hero

Canadian Blood Services celebrated local heroes at Bingeman’s on the evening of May 21, 2009. These heroes were all from the Waterloo Wellington Region, and each of the 406 named heroes reached milestones as blood donors this past year. These men and women are everyday heroes; they take the time to donate blood on a regular basis. They believe that the short time it takes them to make a donation every 64 days can impact many lives.

Combined they have made more than 27,000 donations, and since each donation can save up to three lives, more than 82,000 lives have been impacted directly by these 406 donors. That is almost one and a half times the capacity for Skydome for a baseball game. These people reached milestone donations in different categories: 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and even one who reached 300 donations.
Most people can donate blood. To be eligible to donate you must bring photo ID, be between the ages of 17 and 71, and be at least 50 kg (110 lb). Donations can be made every 56 days for whole blood donations, and every seven days for platelet donation. In order to donate you need to be in general good health. At each donation you will go through screening and you will be asked a number of questions to determine your eligibility. Donating blood does not put you at risk of disease, as all needles are sterile, used only once and discarded. The usual blood collection - a “unit” - is about half a litre, or one pint. Your body soon replaces all the blood you donate.
Every minute of every day someone in Canada receives blood products. For some, many many times after that. At the event we heard the story of Baden, currently a vibrant six-year old boy. But at nine days old he was returned to the hospital, and by the time he was two and a half he had received 200 blood and blood product transfusions, and a bone marrow transplant at six months old. His mother Joanne told their story, and the support they received through the whole process.

Every one of us knows someone who has received blood or will need it. Therefore it only makes sense, as we are young and healthy, for us to consider becoming a donor. Every term at UW there is a special on campus blood drive. There is also a permanent clinic at Bridgeport and Weber where donations take place frequently. Each of you can also become a hero, if you start donating now. If you are 20 and start donating now and donate every 56 days until your 70th birthday, you too could donate over 300 pints of blood and help to save 900 lives. For an hour of your time every eight weeks this is a small price to pay to become a hero to so many.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29 as 'Looking for a hero.')

My 4 part series on donation Stem Cells \ Bone Marrow:
Part 1 - There's more than blood in you to give 
Part 2 - The Callback

Part 3- The Donation

Part 4- The Followup

My 50th donation in the fall of 2019.

Monday 1 June 2009

Pygmy by: Chuck Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk


ISBN 9780385666299

A few years back I would have told you Palahniuk was one of my favorite authors. His work is cutting edge, unique, and always shocking. Each of his works is unique, from other authors and from his own works. Palahniuk has an incredibly imaginative and creative mind. The closest authors to him are: in Canada Douglas Coupland and in the UK Irvine Welsh. But the problem with always shocking and being so unique is each new work must outdo the previous. As such I think I have lost my taste for Palahniuk's writings.

The book is unique, different and well-written. It is the story of Pygmy, one of a group of youths from a totalitarian state that has been sent to the United States, to live with Christian families and experience a better life. At least that is what the Host Families and church believe. Yet in reality these youths have been raised from a young age as agents of the state, part of a planned terrorist attack on the States.

Palahniuk does a great job of dissecting Midwestern life through foreign eyes. It is a satire both of America's fears and of America itself. However the story is just too much - male rape, high school massacre, planned seductions, pregnancies and impregnations. And the whole book is written as a series of dispatches from Pygmy to his home government, written in a halting, misunderstood English. Palahniuk captures a feel about the language, yet still conveys his message.

Palahniuk's books are usually a pleasure to read and so addictive that I cannot put them down. Some I have read more than once, even back to back - finished it and started reading it again. That was not the case this time. Twice I put it down for a few days, and was uncertain I would pick it up again to finish it. This was the first Palahniuk book I have read that I easily predicted the ending; that, in and of itself, was a disappointment. As a book it is okay, but as a Palahniuk book it is disappointing on many levels. For the hardcore Palahniuk fans out there - they will love it. I think I have just lost my taste for his extremism.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29.)