Blindsight

I’ll be honest with you. This book was so smart, I have a feeling it rang circles around me and I missed a lot of its genius. This book I’m going to have to read at least twice to extract every chunk of its awesomeness.

This book was brilliant. It was a lesson in neuro-psychology and I could definitely see so much of the information being pulled from cognitive psychology and books like The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. It talked about a lot of the strange unexplained neurological and psychological disorders that we can’t imagine but that exist in real life. This is what real hard science-fiction is and this is what I was looking for after going through a bunch of shitty Young Adult pseudo-science-fiction novels.

It was refreshing. Intelligent and full of mind-numbing information; it’s the type of book that will force you to improve your mind and do your own research and learn something. It had me googling, sticking my nose back into my Cognitive Psychology text book, constantly looking stuff up on Wikipedia. I loved every minute of it. Another thing about this book that I loved was that it made no excuses. It assumed its audience was smart enough to get everything it was talking about and didn’t stop to explain anything. Honestly, when you live in a world in the future, no one is going to stop and explain to you what new technology is. You’re supposed to know it right? It was a great experience. It didn’t explain or wait for anything or anyone. It just whizzed through and expected you to learn and pick up all the tidbits of information it dropped in its wake.

This book dares to make you look at things from a different perspective. Forces you to step out of the comfortable bubble most of us live in and the assumptions we make when we think of “aliens”, it makes you imagine what real alien life will actually be like (something so different we can’t easily even fathom it). Unimaginably indescribable but worth an attempt. Carbon-based? Could be. Breathe oxygen? How bout no? Something so alien, it truly deserves the word. Most people imagine aliens to be in our own image. But, what if they’re not? I sometimes wonder. We are limited by our senses. We only see what we are capable of seeing. What if the world is truly and completely different from what we perceive? What if the way we see things is only limited because of our senses? What if aliens were living on our planet with us, but we couldn’t even sense them because they were so different?

I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a breather from books being churned out in the name of science-fiction but are nothing more than young-adult romance. Honestly, those books are useless. Read this one. Its worth every minute.

There’s something about snow

It’s true. I was listening to this song about snowfall on the radio and I told myself that I would remember the words and the tune. I’m an idiot.

I do, however, remember the feeling it left me with. Profoundness. There is something about snow that makes me feel so alone. The quiet, the calm is almost unnatural. However, it is a happy kind of loneliness. I don’t want to seek the company of others. It makes me want to be by myself. A lot like the patter of raindrops on your window can make you feel. What is the word for it? Something like Chrysalism but for snow.

There’s something so pure about it. Like you want to be out there in the silence but alone. Or holding hands with someone very dear to you. And that you can sit there and watch the snowfall forever.

I like being outside when it snows. Just sit around and watch. Everything looks so much better covered in snow anyway.

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The spirit of Christmas is something I have always felt and wanted to be a part of. The joy and wonder and cheery happy contentment it brings with it is indisputably the best feeling in the world. All I can ever ask for is that everyday be filled with the same happiness that Christmas brings with it. And this year was the first Christmas I got to actually celebrate. It was the complete package deal too! Christmas evening going to service, sleep-over at my sister’s in-laws and then attacking the Christmas tree for the presents!

2015-12-24 10.49.03 1.jpg The best thing about it though was the tree. Always the tree. Laden with ornaments and fairy lights. All the stockings hanging over the fireplace. Cookies being baked to be frosted and decorated and left out for Santa. All the presents being slowly added under the tree.

And to all these festivities, the snow outside adds a quiet calm. A feeling of safety within the walls of our home.

And the holiday music I could listen to forever. Oh, how I love holiday music being played in the background as you sit in your comfortable armchair with a coffee mug in your hands as you transfer some love to the dogs by scratching their ears.

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There’s nothing quite like it. Wearing your fuzzy socks at home, wearing your fuzzy animal hat and mittens. Nice and cozy and toasty. I wish this time never goes away. I don’t want this feeling to go away. Even though Christmas is gone, I play the music all day in the house, annoying the crap out of my roommate but I just can’t help myself.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

I finished this subtly mind-blowing book the other day. There, that is the review in a sentence. I, honestly, do not know what genre to put this book into.

I said in my Goodreads review that some or most books are about making loud statements. Books that feel like they need to shock you or scare you or shake you to get attention or to get their point across. This book isn’t like that. It is quiet. It is subtle. It seems mediocre until you get halfway through the book and realize the entire night has passed and you just kept turning the pages.

It has a very different method of making a statement. It could have been one of those fast-paced shocking thriller type but the author, Rachel Joyce, chose not to go down that road and I really respect the way she chose to write this because honestly, this is what life is like. It creeps up on you and you only realize how much things have changed when you look back on the life that you have lived and see the stark differences.

Most people who prefer to read the loud kind of books might not like it. They’ll tell you it’s the story of a man who takes a really long walk to go see a friend and his story unfolds in the form of memories and that is SO BORING. But honestly though, that is what makes this book such a great read. Because isn’t that what our lives are actually like?

What I loved about it was how true it was to life. An old man, not used to living a really active life since his retirement, chooses to take control of it and give himself a purpose to right a wrong he believed he did a long time back. He believed he could fix things. And in his own way he paid his penance for the wrong and at the same time came to terms with his own life and faced his own problems. Sometimes loss is what tells us how precious somethings are. How precious some people are.

This book weaves all the subtleties; all the truths of a life lived, into one man’s story. Of having never dealt with things, of never having fought for them, of never righting a wrong, of letting relationships go, of neglecting to do anything that could change things, of regrets, of loss, of guilt, of everything human.

I would recommend this book to anyone with half a brain.

Colored knowledge

Every piece of knowledge is colored by the author or the giver of that knowledge. No book, no conversation comes without this coloring or opinion. It is helpful yes indeed it is. It helps us categorize our knowledge so that we are better able to remember.

There is no such thing as a fact of life. No schemata without color. No unprejudiced or bias-free piece of information. It does not exist.

Every piece of information is tainted. Nothing we read or see is pure. It is colored within us as well as by the way that we got that information. And we are not done with this information, no. We don’t just passively take in information, no. We manipulate it ourselves. We do this even before we take it in and internalize it. We change it to fit our current beliefs or twist or turn or bend or exaggerate. And we transform it when we are passing it along. The information we take in is as affected by us as we are affected by it.

But if we didn’t take in these colors, would we ever be able to make a decision or form an opinion? Or is it just wishful thinking? I doubt we would be able to make snap-decisions. Our decisions would be prolonged and postponed as we separated each piece of information from its color and judged it. How taxing would that be?

So what to do? This is why you should be well read and well informed. Not just to believe information coming from a tap but from a river or stream. Read everything no matter how colored or biased so that in the end you are better able to judge the information based on your own intelligence so that all those colors that come with one piece of information blend to leave no color. A lot like white light.

And that is the difference between ignorance and cognizance. And this is why a formal education is also important. When we read conflicting colored pieces of information, we realize the limitations of our mind. It reveals to us that we have not only taken in the information, but also the color or bias or prejudice it brought along with it. It is why words are so powerful.

Beacon 23

This is the thing about being a hero: It’s all about when you get your picture taken.

Imagine having the guilt of killing a million people at the press of a button lying squarely on your shoulders. At the apex, it was you that was asked if you wanted the war to end? Would you kill a million in a flash? Or would you care to be responsible for the deaths of a billion over a longer period of time? How would you choose?

I think this book touches on the guilt left in the souls of people who make these decision in closed rooms, sitting in their cushy chairs surrounded by “advisers” who don’t falter for a minute giving kill-orders for millions of people even in today’s day and age.

Do the deaths of people actually weigh on us? Or do we separate the images of these people from our idea of living breathing humans. The way we do with the chicken. How many of us see a chicken running around in a field and connect it to the block of meat we eat almost everyday? We probably wouldn’t be able to swallow even if we saw the meat as the animal.

Is it that wars are easy now because the decision makers don’t actually know what it’s like to pull the trigger? I think these people should be at the forefront of the wars. Not just watching on screen as drones drop bombs. These people should be made to kill another human being, in real life, just so they know what it feels like to take just one life. Just so they can realize the value of it. It is so easy for them to condemn all of mankind to hell, just at a flick on the button.

Back to the book. The story was a bit slow for my liking. But as with most Hugh Howey books, it takes time to get to the core. Even though the book wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be and it was creeping along at a pace too slow for my liking, the premise kept me going. I wasn’t too disappointed. Sometimes flaws in books are forgivable if the conclusion is strong enough. Or if the book makes you think. Or if it brings to your attention something you hadn’t thought of. The book was bland, true, but it was funny. I’ll give it that. At some points it cracked me up.  And it did make me think. So it redeemed itself in my eyes.

A lot of people would say it was downright boring. The connections from one chapter or one part of the book to the next were flimsy and didn’t make any sense. I guess maybe that’s what real life is like. We look for an overall theme to our life, whereas, our lives are actually just a collection of memories with no ties to each other.