Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Most people know that the sense of smell is most of what we taste, but did you know that there are only a few thousand chemicals that make up all of what we smell? And that a human's nose isn't really one of the worst in the animal kingdom?
The author is a psychologist and does all sorts of work with smell. The most interesting thing to me was that he tracked down some numbers that come up again and again when people are writing about smell and found where the figures really come from: usually someone made it up a long time ago and it just gets passed around until everyone believes it. Kind of like the drink eight cups of water a day, which was started by the bottled water people.
Gas Chromatography is explained, the way they figure out what chemicals are given off by any certain thing, and which ones smell like what. The author was very good at telling the story. Since he has been in the industry a long time, he has plenty of good stories. I enjoy this type of science book, well written and with lots of cool stuff you didn't know before. If I ever write a book, I would like to do this kind of one, though I can't imagine anyone paying me to do the research needed.
What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life. Avery Gilbert. Crown Publishing . 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
When we take trips as a family we borrow books on CD and other audio type entertainment from the library. On several trips we have listened to the stories of Maynard Moose, very funny renditions of fairy tales. In one of them, called Sleeping Beastly, when the beautiful princess first sees the hairy snoring beastly she says, "Oh, Igg, what a hideous sleeping beastly!"
So now, when something is icky or otherwise nasty I say "Igg, Igg." So though this was well written and had a good puzzle and all that good detective book stuff, the ending made me say "Oh, Igg." I wish someone would invent mind bleach, for all those things you didn't mean to put into your mind, but end up there anyway.
A Great Deliverance. Elizabeth George. Bantam. 1988
Monday, July 7, 2008
They are quick, easy reads, good for a night out when I want to leave my responsibilities behind for a little while.
Swimming Without a Net. Mary Janice Davidson. Jove Books. 2007
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Living in the desert, I hate the cold, but the acceptance, and beauty found in the ice and snow was different, if necessary when you live in a climate like Moscow's. The saddest things in the book was the lack of belief or hope in the characters. Even the mythical characters who have been banished to an underground hideaway have no hope for the future. They just exist, glad to have somewhere relatively safe, but not willing to question or wonder.
The humans who find themselves in this place are also grateful for the sanctuary, but equally lacking in hope and meaning. The amazement as they find childhood stories is good, but to an American that amazement would turn to wonder, joy, or other mostly positive emotions. Here we find them lacking the hope to find joy. Since everything is so messed up on the surface, everything will get that way down below.
I kept running into passages that highlighted how important meaning, more than just existence, is to the human soul. And how so many in Russia have lost any sense of meaning further than their own bodily wants.
Most of the time I don't realize how different I, and any other person with faith, is to those who have lost it. To be happy and mentally healthy I think you need to believe in something more than yourself. Whether that be your family, God, the common good, or whatever. When the State or something else takes that hope away, there isn't much left to keep you going. All of the people in the novel end up in the underworld because they had hit the point where they had nothing left in the surface world to keep them there, so the chance to maybe go somewhere else was worth taking.
The hope, the incentive to get up and try to make the new day a little bit better than the day before, is something I tend to take for granted. I need to be a bit more aware and grateful for that.
The Secret History of Moscow. Ekaterina Sedia. Prime Books. 2007