Category Archives: Writing

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury

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For those of you not familiar with this man’s works, where have you been? My favorites from this author include

· Fahrenheit 451

· Something Wicked This Way Comes

And the man is just a creative whirlwind. When he was 80 he said the following:

“The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you’ll come along.”

At the same time, he’s like the original punk, out to do his own thing and comfortable with having that outsider status.

I don’t need to be vindicated, and I don’t want attention. I never question. I never ask anyone else’s opinion. They don’t count.

Rock on Mr. Bradbury! And congratulations on you newly published book Now and Forever: Somewhere a Band is Playing & Leviathan ’99 (July 2008).

Article: Dad Warns Parents of Online Perils

Just saw an article the other day that really sends chills down my spine…

Fla. Dad Warns Parents of Online Perils

ORLANDO, Fla. — The father of a 15-year-old girl who was found safe 400 miles away from home a day after she ran away with a sex offender she met online had a message Wednesday for parents across America…

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/03/AR2007100302707.html

It’s things like this that make me realize that when my daughter is old enough to actively surf the net, I’m going to be installing not only all sorts of Internet filters on the router to block certain sites, but will probably be actively purchasing and installing software like “The Boss“, that not only log URLs, but also e-mail, chats, web page snapshots, and restricts Internet access to certain times of the day.

At three she already knows how to use my wife’s old laptop to play games like Reader Rabbit Preschool, and she also can go to some of the web sites out there that we’ve set up menu buttons for like Elmo’s Keyboard-o-rama.

Book Review: Creepy Children’s Books

My daughter is three and she loves having stories read to her and I love reading them.  That being said, there are some books that are just down right creepy.  Is this really what we are teaching our kids?

Two books spring to mind that I’ll never read to my kids…

Love You Forever
by Robert N. Munsch, Sheila McGraw

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This starts off kind of cute.  The mother has a child in her arms and she tells him, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  As an expression of a parent’s unconditional love it’s a great little saying from a mother to her son.  And then you turn the pages, the kid gets older, and the you see the mom sneaking into the teenage son’s bedroom and repeating the mantra.  It seems a little Oedipus, as I’d not really like to think about my mom sneaking into my room when I was a teenager but ok, still kind of cute.

Then the son gets married and moves away.  Happy ending?  Not exactly.  Now the mother straps a ladder to her car, drives across town, and breaks into the son’s house, sneaks into his bedroom and while he’s sleeping with his wife next to him tells him “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  Ok, having seen Psycho, I have to say I’m a bit disturbed.  This continues through the son’s life, until the mother is dying, and the son repeats her mantra back to her.

The last page in the book shows the son, cradling his newborn, repeating his mother’s mantra to the baby, and the cycle repeats.  If this were a movie, I would have expected the creepy horror music to well up, have the son look into the camera and start an evil cackle as the picture faded to black. 

 

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

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There are many stories out there about unconditional love that doesn’t involve a life long cycle of abuse and abandonment.  This story describes an unhealthy relationship between a boy and a tree.  The term “co-dependent” comes to mind.  Is my child supposed to identify with the tree that is treated like a doormat it’s entire life or the narcissistic child who takes and takes?  Is this a social commentary on the giving nature of females (the tree is female) or the ruthless and thoughtless destruction by males in today’s world?

I would not want my daughter to model herself after the tree, giving and giving in a destructive cycle, giving so much of herself in order to please others until there is nothing left and never receiving anything in return.  I’d hate to think I taught her to be a doormat, or that I’d given her the impression that it’s ok to be in a destructive relationship because “he says he loves me”.  If this were a marriage, I can just imagine the wife saying “I know he beats me, sleeps with other women, and drinks a lot, but it’s ok because he still comes home to me on the weekends.”

If I had a son, I would not want him to think that he can destroy the one that loves him to get what he wants.  He does not even consider that his actions are destroying the tree until there is nothing left but a stump.  Am I teaching that it is ok to take and never give back?  To not think about the feelings of others?

There are better ways of teaching a child about love, giving and compassion than this book.  I want more for my children and their relationships than that.  Denying them any of their wants or expecting them to make their own way in the world doesn’t mean that I don’t love them unconditionally.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
by J. K. Rowling

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Ok, let me start off by saying that yes, I am a PotterHead.

I thought this book was a great ending to a series that I have come to enjoy.  Even though it is often listed as a ‘Young Adult’ book, it does have some deeper stories and cross-links to previous books that not all readers may pick up during their first read.

I especially enjoyed the way that Rowling has gone back and explained a few stories that were left rather open ended in previous books.  Also, after hearing a rumor about the movie ‘Order of the Phoenix’, where she insisted that Kreacher not be cut out of the movie, I had an Ah-Ha moment about half way through the book.

I have to admit, that I didn’t really like the storyline in regards to Dumbledore, because he’d been put in the classic archtype role of mentor and then there are parts of the story that tear down that illusion and reveal him to be human, but it was done in a rather clumsy way that left you feeling a bit unfulfilled.

Some of the other characters remained stiff throughout the book, and I really think that one of the stronger points of these stories is the underlying world-building that she does.  Some of the deaths seemed rote – in that I found myself not really caring about the character when they died.  There have been other books where I was in tears reading about a particular character’s death (Flint from the Dragonlance series comes to mind).  I didn’t feel that emotional attachment with the characters that died in this capstone to the series.

In the end, this was an enjoyable series and one that I will share with my daughter when she is older.  I think it brings up some great discussion points and would make a good read for one of her home-schooling modules in a couple of years.

Book Review: The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door
by Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko

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I thought I would start this blog with a book review. One of the best books I ever read was called The Millionaire Next Door. It was an eye opening experience to say the least and I still remember one of the best phrases in the whole book, “Big hat, no cattle.”

It gave me the insight I needed to see that not all millionaires wear Rolex watches, drive fancy cars, or dress in flashy suits. In fact, what it does show you is that with a little planning, a bit of discipline, and living below your means, you can grow rich over time and retire a millionaire.