Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

DSCN4302.JPG

Today we’re exploring diabetes with owls. Special guest? David Sedaris.

Well, actually, we’re not. This book’s a collection of humoristic essays from Sedaris’ life (plus a few fictional ones), so the title sorta had to be broken from the world of the absurd. There are owls in this book though (not just on the cover ).

I loved this book for bedtime reading, which is why the picture above is the way it is. Inspired, huh? What I can’t say I loved quite as much were those fictional essays of his. I suppose they provided a nice break from the other essays, but I wasn’t looking for a break from them, which is probably why they didn’t work for me. Some of them I found straight out too dark to be part of this book, and quite frankly, this annoyed me a little. But thankfully, they were only a few, so it didn’t ruin the whole book. Yaay!

There are plenty of life lessons in this one, but I must say: I didn’t try that hard to look for them. Rather, I simply enjoyed the book and its stories, as I felt that this is the way this book should be read.

Nevertheless, I’m not gonna go without giving you the overall lesson that kept jumping out from the pages of these essays. It just wouldn’t be right, considering this blog:

You can get a laugh out of nearly every life situation.

Of course there are some life situations even the most devoted comedian should leave aside and not explore. But most of them? They’re hella funny! Change the angle you’re looking from, or pay closer attention to the details around you. Who knows? This may make your life better. I’d recommend your read David Sedaris for a lesson into the art of funny-ing everything.

/Larisa

 

Recommended reading:

Owls, Yes, But Also Kookaburras And Dentists In Sedaris’ Latest: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/10/176785307/owls-yes-but-also-kookaburras-and-dentists-in-sedaris-latest

Advertisements

“Be the Pack Leader” and “Cesar’s Rules” by Cesar Millan

DSCN4185[1].JPG

I my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to write about a book I finished a while ago. Well, surprise, surprise, I am going to write about TWO books. Yaaay!

The reason I decide to put them together is that they’re both on the same topic, and by the same author: dogs, and Cesar Millan, respectively.

I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I have two dogs. They are known under various names, including “Monkey”, “Baby boy”,”Little fella”, “Silly face”, and pretty much anything else I come up with, but their actual names are Tommy and Lupu. Tommy is the eldest, and he received his name because my grandmother had a dog named Tommy in her youth, and I though that it would make her happy to have another 4-legged creature with the same name. Lupu received his name because his fur resembled that of a wolf (and “Lupu” means “wolf” in Romanian), but as I found out, his personality doesn’t match his name in any respect. Still, it’s a cool contrast.

13243916_1068732729830446_1373074646309937936_o.jpg13227548_1068732786497107_8355018098721081286_o.jpg

But back to the topic. I bought these books a while ago, and after having read them,I gotta say: man, I wish I had them when my silly faces were babies. I guess it was just one of those things, where because I had grown up with dogs, I was under the impression I knew all there was to know about them.

Not so, not so. The more time passed, the more I realized how little I actually know about these creatures I had spent my entire childhood with. I’m glad I read them, because now I understand my dogs better. I no longer expect more than they’re capable of giving, and my relationship with them has improved. Well, not entirely, but you know…gettin’ there :).

Now, on to the lessons. As per usual, these are just a few of the things I learnt, because if I were to write everything, it would take a while.

1.Dogs are animals.

You’re probably going like “No shit, Sherlock!”. Yeah, I know…sounds pretty obvious. But you see, I believe many of us (including me), think of dogs as sort of weird-looking humans, and expect from them things that only a human can do. We expect them to understand when we’re sad, and we want them to comfort us. Surely, all those movies we’ve seen must show exactly how dogs actually act, right? While a very few dogs do react to sadness in the specific way we would want them to, most don’t. I’m not saying here that they don’t perceive it; just that they don’t know how we want them to react to that. There are plenty of other examples, and perhaps I’ll tackle this topic later on, but you get the point: treat dogs like they’re dogs, adjust your expectations of them, and your relationship will improve.

    2.  Dogs need to be respected.

This is a perfect sag-way from what I just talked about before,because it gives me a chance to explain myself. When I say that dogs should be treated like what they are, I in no way mean that they should be treated badly. Absolutely no way. They are little beings, and should be treated in the best way possible. Only thing is, they should be treated in the best way possible according to their own needs, which are driven by their genes (aka by their innate “dogness”). Many people forget that dogs need to be respected,in more ways than one. They may not be “smart” in the way you expect them to be, but they sure as hell have a bright mind.Even the less…umm…cognitively-gifted ones still have qualities that need to be respected. Find those qualities, and appreciate your doggie for them.

   3. Dogs need exercise.

They’re active creatures, and they’re used to getting their hearts pumping. Run with them, go for walks, play, or do anything that you and your little one may enjoy. Here’s the thing: don’t expect them to be super well-behaved dogs when they’re carrying a lot of extra energy with them. They might just need to release it by…say, chewing all your furniture.

 4. Take responsibility.

Another obvious one, that a lot of people seem to forget. It’s your dog, so it’s your responsibility. If you haven’t had time to invest in their training, don’t complain about how “badly” they behave. They are simply doing what is in their nature, they’re not doing it to spite you. If you haven’t train them well, don’t expect that by the grace of some unknown Dog Lords, your little one will act exactly as you want him or her to act. Oh, and one more thing: if you don’t have time for a dog, don’t buy one, only to realize a few months later that you can’t take care of one. That’s how dogs end up on the street and end up with miserable lives.

5. Enforce boundaries.

Yes, dogs need love to thrive. You know what else they need? Boundaries. Dogs are used to living in a pack, where the alpha enforces boundaries so that the entire pack is happy. When they lack those boundaries, they are not in their “natural” state, and as much as you think they like it, they don’t. And you probably don’t like it when they don’t listen. A well-behaved dog is a happy one, and has a happy owner.

 

These are just a few of the lessons these books have taught me. Cesar Millan is a wonderful teacher when it comes to dogs, and I love using his approach. While there’s still a bit to go with my own pups, I have already learnt a lot from him and his books.

DSCN4184[1].jpg

What rules do you have for your dogs? I’d love to know! 🙂

/Larisa

 

 

Catching Up on Blogging

pexels-photo-46274.jpeg
Via Pexels.com

Do you know the feeling of taking a break from something for so long, when you return to it, it takes a while to figure out where you left off, or what it is exactly you were doing before you took that break? Say, you begin a book, step away from it (for about a million years), only to come back to a story that’s unknown to you?

While I am intimately familiar with the example I just gave, this is not what I wanted to talk about.

Blogging. That’s what I wanted to talk about.

I stepped away from it for those million years I was just talking about, and now that I’m back, I’m a little bit …confused, shall we say?

I wanted to write about a book I finished reading a while back, and I had to check whether I had already written about it. That’s…well, that’s just fantastic.

As it turns out, I have’t written about it, so I’ll get to do that now. What book is it, you may wonder? Well, for that you’re just going to have to stay tuned : )

I have started reading about five books in the past year, and I haven’t had a chance to finish them, because life got hectic. Real hectic, actually, but I’m not going to devote any more time to that part of it than I’ve already done.

So, moving on. I am currently making my way through the books I began, while studying. Yes, well, there’s always some studying that needs to happen in the background, am I right?

Currently, I am reading David Sedaris’, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, as a bedtime book. I find it perfect for that purpose, and I am considering buying more of his books for the same purpose.

That’s it for now 🙂

/Larisa

What Am I Reading?

DSCN2326

Last week I went to my university’s bookstore, and came out with two books that I am very excited about. The first one, Writing from Deeper Within, by Bernard Selling, and the second one, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris.

I’ve been a fan of David Sedaris for quite a while, but I’ve never actually read any of his books. I was introduced to him and his brilliance in a creative writing class I took last year. While the class itself was mostly uninteresting, as I knew of most of the stuff they were talking about, I was very happy to have learned about David Sedaris, because I love his humor. I started watching videos of him reading passages from his books, and the more I watched, the more I wanted to get his books.

Since  Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was on display at the bookstore I went to quite a lot, I kept thinking that I had to get it, but I put if off until now. I have already started reading it, and it has not disappointed me one bit! However, this is one of the books that I think I will only read when I will have a bit more free time.

The second book, Writing from Deeper Within, was on sale, and since I had wanted to get a book like this for a long while, I decided that this was the perfect time. So far, I have found it very interesting, as I’ve already learned a bit right from the first few pages.

As I mentioned, I am planning on starting to seriously read the book by David Sedaris (well….to concentrate on reading it would be a more appropriate way of putting it, since you can’t be serious while reading that book). In the meantime, I’ll be concentrating my efforts on reading Writing from Deeper Withinand another book that I’m already half-way finished, which is Resurrection, by Leo Tolstoy. I usually read the latter one right before bed, as it’s a great way to unwind after a day filled with studying and work.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a heads up on what sort of books I am going to be discussing here shortly. I hope you are as excited about them as I am!

Have a lovely day!

/Larisa

Get in touch with me!  🙂

Facebook

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

DSCN2265

I finally finished reading this book! I realize that it sounds like I feel relieved to have done so, because it is, partially, that. After having felt so guilty for the last few months for failing to finish it, I managed to. However, finishing this book under normal circumstances (aka if I would have had time), would have by no means inspired such a feeling. Rather, it would have made me feel sad at having parted with such an interesting read (though the parting is not permanent, as I can revisit it from time to time).

More than this, however, I would have felt wary, which I am experiencing as we speak. Wary of what we, as people, are doing to this beautiful world, and wary of what our actions will cause in the future. I think that this was the exact kind of thing that Kolbert would have wanted us to feel after having read this book, so I commend her on having achieved that.

Let’s have a look at some of the lessons this book teaches us (there are many more), and let’s try to understand what they all mean, because I’m sure you’ve heard them before:

1) What We Are Doing to the Planet Affects it Badly

We hear about climate change all the time. No seriously, ALL. THE. TIME. Because of this, it can be easy to feel frustrated at hearing the same damn thing over and over again, and forget what this actually means. It means that so many organisms will lose their homes, or the conditions that made it possible for a certain place to be their home, and while they are losing that, we will be losing them.

2) Living Organisms are Dependent on Each Other

You might think “Oh well…so a bunch of frogs (substitute any other organism you might have heard about) are going to die. So what?” . You might not care about those frogs, but you should remember that those frogs are not an independent part of the world. They are a part of it, and there are other organisms that rely on their existence so that they can exist too. Take frogs out of the equation, and you’re taking other beings as well.

3) Changing the Environment Means Affecting (Sometimes Killing) the Species that Lived There

It’s hard to become aware of just how much the environment means to everything on Earth. One small change in that environment (I’m sure you’ve heard about deforestation), and BOOM! A whole host of living organisms disappear into oblivion, where they won’t come back from (not without us trying to get them back to life they won’t). Keep this going, and in a short enough time, there will be nearly no organisms alive, maybe except for us and a few others. But hey! don’t we need other beings to survive? I guess we won’t be alive for that much longer if other animals go extinct.

“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”, by Elizabeth Kolbert is a truly wonderful book. It’s written clearly, which means that you won’t need any prior knowledge so that you can understand what’s going on. Also, she manages to keep in interesting, so that the reader doesn’t get bored. This is quite difficult to achieve, since a lot of the time she is talking about species that most people don’t know much about. Keeping the whole thing interesting is, in it of itself an achievement.

All in all, I think this book is perfect for anyone out there who wants to learn more about the world around them. I think those who don’t want to know what’s happening need to read it even more, but no one can be forced to read a book, so that’s that.

Before I go, I want to mention an interesting argument that I have heard many times, but the most memorable time was when I heard it from George Carlin (via a youtube video). He was saying that species used to go extinct before man came along, that they’re doing it now, and that they’ll always do it, so we shouldn’t do anything to intervene.

While I love George Carlin, I disagree with him, and this book gives me more reason to do so. It is true that species used to go extinct: that’s the whole point of natural selection. Keep what works, and get rid of what doesn’t. But now a lot more species are going extinct, and not because they weren’t well-equipped to deal with their environment. It is because we have change their environment a lot faster than environments would have normally changed if it wouldn’t have been for us. So, while I’m sure some of the species going extinct are doing so of natural causes, most of them are going because of unnatural ones.

/Larisa

Get in touch with me!  🙂

Facebook

What Have I Been Reading?

Via flickr

As it might be evident to you from reading this blog, I love reading. Of course, I do have some preferences, which means I won’t just read anything out there. I mean, it’s physically possible, but since I like to enjoy the time I spend reading, I prefer to gravitate towards things that I find interesting.

That being said, I have not been reading very much lately. Wait, let me say that again: I have not been reading anything except for course materials. Now that I think about it, I do  a lot of reading, because there’s quite a bit of stuff that I have to read for my classes.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my courses! I might not love everything I study in them, but overall, I’m in love with each one of them. The field of Psychology is something that interests me a whole lot, so it only makes sense that the courses would, too.

However, I can’t help but feel bad about the fact that I haven’t been able to read anything beyond my class material. My “The Sixth Extinction” book is sitting near my bed, silently criticizing my neglecting it. It’s working, too, because I do feel bad about my lack of attention towards this book, that I have loved reading so far, but for which I don’t have the time right now.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get to reading tomorrow.

Oh man… Who am I kidding? I’ve been saying that for the last couple of months…But still…

/Larisa

Is Selfishness Good? “The Virtue of Selfishness”, by Ayn Rand

DSCN1442

Before actually beginning to talk about this book, let me just mention how glad I am to be able to finally write this post. I received this book (from a friend who knew I really wanted it)…I think nearly two years ago now, and I somehow didn’t get around to finishing it until today. Even after having started reading it over a month ago, other stuff (such as my exams) kept getting in the way. Thankfully, I can finally say I’ve finished it.

The question of whether I liked it or not is a complicated one. You might be thinking “Come on! It’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type of question. What can possibly be so complicated?” That’s true, but I’m afraid that I’ll have to say “yes” to some parts, and “no” to other parts of it. Don’t mistake this for a “maybe”, which implies an evasive answer, or some grayness. Taking the “gray” attitude, particularly when it comes to something written by Ayn Rand, would be ironic, to say the least (for those who are not familiar with her writings, she highly condemns not choosing a side).

You see, I’m a fan of the general idea of acting out of what Ayn Rand terms “selfishness”, word which she uses differently than it is normally used. We generally use the term to talk about someone who is highly immoral, and would do anything to achieve what he or she wants. Rand, on the other hand, uses the term to mean “concern with one’s own interest”. As such, she points out that acting out of selfishness isn’t merely desirable, but necessary.

The part that I don’t like is that her entire philosophy is resting on a tremendous misunderstanding of human psychology. Mainly, she assumes that the workings of the human mind are like a “blank slate”, which can easily be modified by the values one has. The problem is that this was proven to be false. We come into the world with a sort of baggage, dictated by our genes. Of course, our environment also plays a role in defining us, but it is not the only factor. This may not make her theory impossible, but it surely makes it a lot more difficult to use.

I won’t go into more details explaining her philosophy (except for indirectly, through the lessons I’ll outline), but you can imagine that with this big mistake in using human psychology, the rest of her ideas have to suffer as well. However, she still makes some very good points, and I believe those shouldn’t be left neglected.

1)      Morality is Not Only Useful, but Necessary for Us

Rand points out that morality offers us with much needed guidance to proper interaction between people. Also, it helps us identify the right type of values to hold.

2)      One Must Take Responsibility for His/Her Actions

Yeah, no kidding, huh? However, despite the fact that this is quite a popular principle, very few people seem to actually put it in practice. It’s easy to take responsibility for our actions when they amount to good things, but when they’re consequences are bad, we’ll do quite a lot to hide them, or even to blame others for them. Perhaps we should pay more attention to this.

3)      Unethical People’s Survival is Made Possible by Those Who Are Ethical

A good example for this is a robber. The only reason he has something to steal is because there is someone who made the money in the “right way” to begin with. If it were not for that person, the robber would starve.

4)      Sacrificing is Giving Up Something You Value for Something of a Lesser Value

If you use this definition for the word, then it becomes quite obvious why Rand is so quick to go against this act. Keep in mind the implications of this definition: if you give up watching the soccer game to help your friend, this doesn’t mean you’ve sacrificed. That’s because you value your friend more than you value the soccer game, so giving one up for the other doesn’t mean you’re losing value.

5)      Judging People Isn’t Bad

Rand explains that you should assess people in order to be able to interact with them accordingly. However, this assessment should be made based on rational grounds, not on a whim.

These are the main lessons that can be taken from the book, though there are a lot more. If you have any questions, make sure to let me know! I’ll try my best to answer them (considering I am not a philosopher).

/Larisa

Get in touch with me! 🙂

Facebook