Thursday, July 31, 2014
Last week my wife and I enjoyed an Alaskan weeklong cruise on the Golden Princess of the Princess Cruise line. When we did a Caribbean cruise several years ago most of the people on the cruise spoke of the Alaskan cruise being a “must do” cruise. After experiencing Alaska upon the Golden Princess, I had to agree with their sentiments. With my Living More Than OK concept I don’t like telling people what they should do, but I highly encourage everyone in their lifetime to see the splendors of Alaska.
Seeing nature on the Alaska cruise made for a needed break from the Summer heat of Texas. Seeing the majestic beauty of God’s creation was the highlight of the cruise. For my wife the favorite part of Alaskan nature was going on the whale watching excursion. The humpback whales were very active in feeding while we were out on the small boat activity. The captain of the small boat would follow the circling of the seagulls to find the whales. The seagulls had a sense of where the whales would be feeding and would swoop down to get leftover fish for their lunch. We also had the chance to see some killer whales on that excursion as well.
For myself, the favorite excursion was a 40 mile scenic railway ride in Skagway up to the Yukon territory of Canada. Seeing the trees, mountains, and streams was refreshing way to view the wild and beautiful nature of Alaska. I tried to imagine how they built the railroad there in the late 1800’s. The tour guide mentioned that this particular railroad was an engineering feat in its time. This railroad tour helped me capture a sense of wonder about the creation in Alaska.
We always enjoy meeting a variety of people and cruises are a wonderful place to meet people. The crew and the staff of the Golden princess were friendly and helpful which I believe helped create an atmosphere on the ship of friendliness. One could strike up a conversation with about anyone. One man from California had been on Alaskan cruises numerous times and gave us insightful tips on where to do photography on board when the ship toured through Glacier Bay. With my wife and I being Christians we met with a group of about 9 Christians on Sunday morning. By midweek that group grew to 14. The fellowship of meeting with a group with the same worldview where we could share our mutual appreciation for God’s creation in Alaska was an important part of each day on the cruise. Then there was a delightful elderly couple we met from Louisiana that made our time special as well. New Orleans is one place we have wanted to visit but have never made the time to get there. With our meeting Clarence and Vilma from the suburbs of New Orleans changed that. On the last day of the cruise she gave us their address reminding us they have spare rooms so we would have no excuse not to come. So if you enjoy meeting new people a cruise is a perfect way to do that.
Then with my being a Bookhead, reading is part of the cruise experience. The Golden Princess had a small library on board that I frequented. I read a couple of my books I brought along and then I picked up a Jim Patterson novel, Tick Tock, out of their library to enjoy reading as well. In Ketchikan we stopped in the town bookstore, Parnassus Books. If you are ever in Ketchikan and enjoy books stop by. Their specialty is books on Alaska and they carry a variety of little gifts in the store as well. I have included here a picture from their store window, “Snack, Nap, Read” fits well with the cruise ship experience of good food, rest and reading. I was glad to see that Princess cruise lines promote reading with their library and a book club activity they had on board. I was too busy with other books to be involved with that, but the next cruise with them I will make it a point to try out the book club.
That wraps up my thoughts on the golden time we had on the Golden Princess cruise to Alaska. Hope you enjoyed some of the pictures from the trip. I have heard people say they would never take a cruise. Years ago I was one of those people. Give a cruise a try and you will see it can be one of the most relaxing vacations you ever experience.
Reflection: Here is the link to the Princess cruises http://www.princess.com/learn/cruise-destinations/#.U9pvJzYo61s click on it or search for another cruise line you are interested in and imagine yourself on one of the cruises.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Before taking a break from my blog for a week of rest in Alaska I was wondering what to write about this week. Through a library loan I was able to track down a book on reading I had been searching for, Successful Reading: Key to Our Dynamic Society by Maxwell H. Norman. So in keeping with some of my recent discussions on reading I will share some important thoughts from his book. This book has helped me select the books I am taking on our cruise.
In the preface he points out that the need for reading has grown as knowledge in the world has expanded. From a career standpoint he states that many of us may do several career shifts so there is a continual need to learn and grow in new knowledge areas. Reading brings flexibility to our lives and the ability to cope better with the continual changes. One timely thought even though the book was printed in 1968 he speaks of the importance of a strong democracy depends on a literate society for citizens to make sound critical thinking decisions. I mention this concept in my book Living More Than OK in my critical thinking chapter. We can only improve the society for the better by rational understanding of facts and issues and making sound decisions instead of irrational emotionalism that guides the Alinsky type tactics found in our present government. The present administration just reacts to chaos not letting a crisis go to waste instead of critical thinking to solve problems.
Norman views the successful reader as the students who do not complain about their reading assignments or the business people who know the importance of keeping up with business journals. To him these readers see how, “Books can provide escape from the monotony of everyday existence… they taste the joys frustrations of the laboratory and the creative thinking of great minds” (page 2). There is a great love for all literature and understanding of the importance of reading in self-growth which I believe is the basis of being a Bookhead.
In the successful reader there is seen in his text three characteristics that he keeps considering throughout the book. The first is that the readers have a purpose driving their reading. There is a reason behind why they are reading. Then that progresses to the characteristic of concentration. The reader with a purpose can better focus his or her mind in their reading. This improves the third characteristic of comprehension. Reading is not just to glance mindlessly at pages of words. With the purpose in mind linked to the power of the mind’s focusing powers we better understand what we are reading for a meaningful reading experience.
As to the purpose that varies on the types of material we are reading. The examples that Norman presents are on a Summer day reading a thriller novel as an enjoyable escape for the mind. James Patterson novels come to my mind as an example of this type of reading. A strong reader may go through 200 pages of a novel in one evening with this purpose of reading. Then Norman switches to a purpose of a student having to read for Philosophy a short reading of Aristotle’s Ethics. This will probably take just as long as the novel but with reading much fewer pages to fully understand the information for a class. It all depends on the purpose. I know my journal article reading for my PhD classes take longer to read than a lighter novel or non-fiction book for pleasure.
The emphasis of the book is reading for learning. This learning is not just in the scholastic sense but reading to learn because of curiosity of various aspects of the world such as history, technology, social issues, and philosophy. There is also reading for pleasure and relaxing. This is using reading to escape the boredom of everyday life and exploring topics of interest in books and magazines or expanding your creative mind in the vast array of fiction novels. Norman also speaks of reading for personal growth and self-understanding. This is the area of reading where my book, Living More Than OK fits into with a desire for individuals to grow in various aspects of their lives.
His encouragement at the end of the book is to build a reading program into our weekly time schedule. To the question of busy people who say when can I find time to read he responds. “The basic answer to this question is a philosophical one, a deliberate decision on your part, a determination of values. Can you afford not to read?” (page 134). If you can read 30 minutes a day that is 3 ½ hours a week. In a month that equates to about 14 hours to read. Then in a year that would be about 168 hours of reading. Think through how that investment of time could improve your creative and critical thinking. Think how that investment may help you in your career by having greater knowledge. It all boils down to our personal choices in how we use our time. Mortimer Adler is quoted in the book on his thoughts on reading, “Reading … is a basic tool in living of a good life.” ( page 160). I would go beyond that by saying that reading is a core tool in the continual Living More Than OK experience to help us keep Spiraling Up To Abundant Living.
Reflection: Do you believe reading can be of help in living a successful life? Do you think about your purpose when reading a book? What do you think of the question “Can you afford not to read”? How could an increase in reading by everyone improve the world we live in?
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Dinesh D’Souza is a conservative political and social commentator, whom I have respected over the years in reading his books. I have appreciated his clear sound thinking in declaring his arguments which he backs up with researched evidence. In my book, Living More Than OK, I present some information from his book, Godforsaken, in my chapter on spirituality. Recently my family and I went to see his new movie, America: Imagine the World Without Her (Click on the title to see a preview clip of the movie). The thought in watching it comes across that if the liberal progressives hate America so much, what would the world be like if America did not exist. This week I want to share some of my thoughts on the movie and encourage you to go see the movie for yourself.
As I watched the movie Dinesh’s ideas were thoughtfully engaging. He gave liberal progressive professors a hearing of what problems they saw in America. Having worked in higher education, they were familiar problems, such as the slavery issue, America’s stealing of Indian and Mexican land, and income disparity. Dinesh presented their arguments in their own words and highlighted valid concerns they had. Then he went point by point through their arguments with facts that have been overlooked in history showing the fallacies of the liberal progressive thinking. A thread of the argument also shows how the ideals and values of America have been more of a help to progress in the world.
The movie gives an example of critical thinking in action and it stimulates the viewer’s critical thinking. Several of the historical points he brings out I searched for on the internet after watching the movie. My questioning mind wanted to know if he was correct in his examples. Not surprisingly, he was correct in every instance. I am not going into specifics as I want you to go see the movie for yourself and not spoil any of it. Be active with your mind as you view it and think over the arguments and the historical evidence that is presented.
Dinesh and the production team also present a heart stirring level of emotion that brings out a gratefulness for the good things about America. Beautiful scenic photography reveals the beauty of our country. Historical examples show how America has been a force for good in the world. His own story of being an immigrant from India, who came to this country gives a glimpse of a fresh look at the liberties and the good America has done in the world compared to other countries around the world. We as a family saw the movie on the 4th of July weekend so emotionally the movie had an impact of my being thankful for being an American and appreciating the history of the country. Some liberal movie critics who are trashing the movie state that he glosses over the problems of America. This shows either their level of pure ignorance or they were high on drugs while watching it. Dinesh from the very beginning presents the problems using liberal socialist professors own words and even agrees on some levels with them. What bothers the liberal critics of the movie is that he speaks the truth from historical facts that have been ignored and shows the fruit of progressive liberalism for what it is – failure. We see this is the recent events in our country that has turned into what Dr. Ben Carson likes to say a “what can you do for me country, instead of a can do country”.
I was hoping to see a packed theater, especially with July 4th one would think the populace would like a movie about America that instills pride in our country. Instead the masses flocked to movies such Transformers (isn’t this the 100th Transformers movie) and Tammy, a comedy of which looking at the trailer for the movie is not even funny. Maybe the movie critics with their campaign to trash the movie had an effect. Usually I find that if a movie critic says a movie is bad you can count on it being a good movie. I would wonder why the critics are so against such an amazingly great movie but I know why. Most of the critics follow the liberal agenda that America is the problem because that is what their liberal professors told them in their university education. Since they had no critical thinking skills and still do not, they blindly follow the liberal agenda to be anti-American, while they are enjoying all the freedoms of this great country.
I would highly encourage you to go see this movie and go with a few people so you can discuss the movie afterwards. I would encourage liberals to use a little critical thinking and stop blindly following what your leaders tell you and go see the movie for yourselves. It is obvious from the liberal movie critics their desire is to shut this movie of truth about America down as it does not fit with their narrative that America is the cause of the world’s problems. We even saw this week further evidence of this in that Costco pulled Dinesh’s book by the same name out of their stores. They used the lame excuse that it was not selling although it was. Once customers complained about their censorship they quickly switched back to putting the book back in their stores. So again I say this is a movie that everyone should see and discuss. Whatever your political persuasion there are things to learn from seeing America: Imagine the World Without Her.
Reflection – What are three things you are thankful for about living in America? After you see the movie what was one historical fact about America that stood out to you?
Thursday, July 3, 2014
I missed posting on my blog last week as I was in the research trenches attending my Capella University PhD Colloquial. Hopefully in a year I will be at work on my dissertation. Back to the main business of sharing thoughts on personal growth ideas. Before leaving to Dallas for my Colloquial a Facebook friend had a post about a list of movies everyone should see. Movies are an important medium for entertainment as well as development as I believe many have been helped through cinema therapy which is using movies or segments of movies in Counseling therapy. While I looked at the list my being a Bookhead got the best of me and I started looking for booklists of recommended books.
Here are some of the lists that are out there for finding new book possibilities for Summer and reading throughout the year:
Book suggestions for children under 10
Book lists for teens from the American Library Association to encourage reading for teens –
Here is a general book list for everyone to think of new book ideas -
Here is a book suggestion list for men from Goodreads-
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14016.100_Must_Read_Books_The_Essential_Man_s_Library (Where is the list for Women? I am sure one is out there. You women are smart enough to search for what you are interested in. We men sometimes need help in pulling away from the remote and Sports channel).
Here are some ideas for books to read that include literary classics. How many have you read or is it time to re-read one -
Since I look at life from a Christian worldview I even found a list of suggested Christian books from Goodreads –
I have mentioned book lists for a variety of ages and lists that show literary classics so there are ideas for everyone.
As a Bookhead I present these lists to encourage you in your reading to look into new ideas and possibilities of books for yourself. You may want to create a list of your own top 100 books that you want to read in your life. Connect the list of books to your personal bucket list or dream list.
Another reason for emphasizing these books lists is to encourage you to be involved in your Summer Reading programs with your local public libraries. As I mentioned in my book, Living More Than OK, reading became an interest of mine when I was in elementary school through the Summer reading programs at the Barberton Public Library. I can thank those reading programs for helping me progress early on in my academic life and my critical thinking skills. Reading expanded my view of the world and the desire to explore new ideas while affirming for myself my values and why I believe in my worldview while being respectful of other’s worldviews.
Since one reason of placing these booklists here is to help with ideas for Summer reading I was curious about what was going on in my local library Summer reading program. I went to the New Braunfels Public Library reading program’s website: http://newbraunfels.libguides.com/SRP to look over there program. Their theme is “Fizz, Boom, Read” with a focus on Science reading at all the age levels. For children they are emphasizing reading in 20 minutes segments for their reading logs. That is a good idea as reading in short segments is an effective way to get young people interested in reading. It is a helpful reminder for adults too in our busy world who say they do not have time to read. Just do one chapter a day or 20 minutes to start off in your reading regimen.
New Braunfels library has reading categories in their program for children, teens, and adults. I noticed they have prizes for each of the age groups as well. I am fine with incentives to encourage reading whatever gets people into books is important. Not everyone is a Bookhead like myself who enjoys reading for the sake of reading.
Looking over the New Braunfels website for their Summer reading program made me think about my home town library back in Barberton, Ohio. So I went to their website http://www.barbertonlibrary.org and right on their homepage is the announcement for the Summer “Fizz, Boom, Read” reading program. Seeing their website brought back good memories of reading books in their program and working at the library when I was in High School. I noticed they are using prizes as well to encourage reading which again I am all for as people are often motivated if given an external prize to aim for and hopefully in the process reading will become more of a personal habit. On the Barberton Library website there is an encouragement in the notice to “Sign Up The Whole Family”. What a great idea! Don’t just send the children or teen to the reading program. Adults need to be involved as well. Reading is better caught than taught so parents need to be examples in being seen as reading instead of being glued to their cell phones and tv all the time.
One concern I have with Summer reading programs is when Summer is over so is the reading. When Fall comes keep your library card handy as in the lists I presented there is much more reading for you to keep your mind active and growing throughout the year!
Reflection: What book are you reading right now for the Summer? (If the answer is none, get out of the recliner and head to your nearest library to sign up for the Summer reading program)