Day: May 7, 2017

365 Challenge: Day 57 – Calm

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Calm: not showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other emotions

Imagine sitting on a comfortable chaise lounge, a warm 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperature with a mild but cooling breeze passing over you… your drink of choice sitting beside you… gentle lapping of the ocean’s waves… someone you love nearby… no one or anything waiting for you or asking you to do something… and the absence of any needling worry in your mind.

Calm. Serene. Relaxed. That’s what we all desire. Some of us need it 24/7. Some of us simply ask for it every so often, to absorb the strength to continue down our path. Some of us never see it, given everything going on in our lives at the current time. But we still clearly know what it is and want to experience it.

Perhaps the opening paragraph isn’t your ideal calm moment. Maybe you prefer absolute silence in a comfortable chair reading a book without interruption. Or by chance you envision everything running in proper order with a gentle hum or whir coasting in the background. Whatever your calm is… whatever you need… you should find a way to have it — even if only for a moment. It does wonders for your ability to be more productive and sane.

When I chose the word calm, I was thinking about starting a new week tomorrow. And by saying that, I’m actually revealing I’ve started the 365 Daily Challenge for Day 57 a little early… but I’m awake… feeling calm… and wanted to blog about it. And by the end of this post, I’ll either set it to release in the morning, will save it and manually post it at some point tomorrow, or it may just be after midnight and it will already be tomorrow. And why is that even important? Because for the last few hours, in and among the various other things I was working on this evening, I tried to think about Day 57’s word… and each time I came up blank, I started to worry.

I worried that I’m only 20% into the challenge and having a bit of a brain freeze or lack of imagination. It in turn made me a little nervous. And I wondered why… this is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, yet I was worried I wouldn’t come up with something good enough to resemble who I am, nor strong enough to offer enough readability among anyone perusing the 365 blog. I certainly hope anyone reading the daily posts aren’t bored. But if you are, please feel free to opt out — I’m totally cool with that!

As I thought through it, I realized despite the worry, I was calm about it. And I realized… I’m really quite a calm person. I’ve always been. I tend to be the “rock” someone goes to when they need a bit of stabilization. I’ve had moments where I am nervous or fastidious to the point I seem neurotic (there is a word I should be choosing one day!), but ultimately, I’m quite a force of calm in almost any situation. I definitely get excited over a few things, but when there is something bad or difficult going on, I tend to be the rational one who keeps things in order, looking for the path forward and to keep everyone calm among the burning fires.

It’s instinct. When someone falls, I don’t freak out. I take the right course of action to help. I’d like to hope I’d be or do the same in other serious situations. But in normal every day ones where people freak out about things… I immediately look for the alternative solution, the back-up plan, the way around the roadblock. I try to block out the “oh no, what are we gonna do” and replace it with “Ah… well that’s an issue. But here’s what we could do about it.”

And yes… I did talk about being a nervous person last week, but that was over specific examples of things where I feel on edge when that particular item occurs. But being a calm person — in general — is different. In today’s post, I’m referring to being calm when there is a crisis… or being calm as the normal and general go-to behavior under most conditions. For me, being calm is a natural thing. I’m glad I have this ability across most aspects of my days. It hasn’t been tested under extreme duress, but if it were, I feel confident I’d be consistent when all hell breaks loose.

How many of us are out there who can handle a crisis? Or do you let your worry take over your ability to act? Inquiring and calm minds want to know!

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Blog: To Re-Read or Not To Re-Read

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The world is full of a plethora of books, ones we will unfortunately never have the opportunity to read, nonetheless re-read. And this is one of the intrusive thoughts that cause a fair amount of stress for me every once in a while. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really very unimportant compared to the true discomforts, pains and problems of the world. But I’m not conquering Rome in these thoughts as I sit on my couch at 11:30 PM, choosing to stay awake a bit later than usual for some reason.

I’ve added ~500 books to my “read” bookshelf on Goodreads, but I’m confident there’s at least 20% more I will discover in the coming weeks as I complete my quest to have a fully up-to-date Goodreads profile, quaintly full of charming book reviews and tempting to-be-read (tbr) priority lists. And as I scroll through trying to decide where to focus my attention each day, I often come across an author I adore, a book series that brings me joy, or a book I feel the need to dive into once more.

But that’s a big quandary for me… to re-read or not to re-read? With my tbr list now close to 3 times the size of my read list, what’s a guy to do? Do I forsake the previously determined priority list for an old favorite? Do I risk never getting to a book I once I thought I wanted in favor of a guaranteed smile? Do I stop time for a few hours simply to re-connect with a friend from the past?

I’ve avoided the re-read for many years. Except for a few that I re-read in college as part of my English major, or a couple that I absolutely needed to re-read, I’ve not been one to choose the re-read over a new book. And it makes me question the purpose not only of a re-read, but the read in general. “Why do we read?” is a question so many of us can easily answer, but at the same time, the answer is sometimes not what we think it is…

I try to tell myself to limit additions to the tbr shelf, just so I can get through as much as possible, and then I can maybe re-read a few favorites. Yet it doesn’t happen. I add between 3 and 5 books every day, but I only read a new book every 2 to 3 days. The math will never work out! So I opt to avoid the re-read. But then I worry… what if I am giving up a wonderful memory, re-imagined and enjoyed, simply for what could be a possible false lark in something new?

I offer no answers or scientific opinions here… more just a random moment of concern. Why do you choose the re-read? And how often do you embark on that path? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions…

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About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: The Cat in the Hat

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The Cat in the HatBook Review
Everyone’s heard of SEUSS (Dr) (I hope). 4 stars to The Cat in the Hat, an adorable children’s book full of little amusing pictures and rhymes.

Kids love the absurdity. It’s an opportunity for the reader to use different voices… to dress up… to be free and fun and just enjoy reading.

Though it could be used as a way to teach kids about rhymes, as well as what’s real and not real… my recommendation with this one is to just HAVE FUN! Act out all the scenes. Make it a fun Saturday experience with your kids, friends, nephews, nieces, cousins.

Teach kids to enjoy reading.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Crucible

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The CrucibleBook Review
I may be a little unpopular with my 3 of 5 stars rating for The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller, but in my world, a 3 means it’s your generally good book/play/movie with some great things, some bad things, and an overall “yeah, you should probably read it.” My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The topic: Salem Witch Trials, one of my absolute favorite time periods in American history to research. Miller is brilliant, I acknowledge it. He brings suspense, timing and charisma in everything he does. But when this is about an episode from our history over 250 years before the play was written, I expected something a bit different / stronger. Too many scenes were too dry for me.

So many schools put this play on as a high school production. Even in colleges sometimes. I was tempted to look for it on Broadway… I mean, I do live in NYC. Why wouldn’t I go try it out? Really… I blame myself here.

Characters are great. You do feel strong emotions towards them. I think what I wanted more of… was the mysterious air surrounding those deemed a witch. There are some scenes where it’s almost there for me, but ultimately… I wanted more. I should probably give it another chance… it’s been almost 25 years.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Earthquake in Chile

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earthquake

Book Review: Please note, I read this novella in German, looking up translations as needed… it was not easy! My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heinrich von Kleist, born in Frankfurt in 1777, led a troubled life, which ultimately resulted in his suicide in 1811. As a follower of several Kantian philosophies, Kleist found himself drawing deeper and deeper into depression as he aged. However, this personal crisis is what enabled Heinrich von Kleist to become such a profound creative writer. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Heinrich von Kleist published one of his masterpieces: The Earthquake in Chile. The Earthquake in Chile pushes readers to question what role God, or any higher being, will play in their lives. Kleist sets his readers up to wonder whether the earthquake was a natural, geographic event, or whether it was an act of God against all sinners. In the end, Kleist shows his readers that they are solely responsible for deciding the place of religion in their lives. The characters in this novella all contribute to this central idea and help give the readers an understanding of religion’s role in society.

NOTE: SPOILERS below…

Kleist’s novella The Earthquake in Chile effectively demonstrates the absurd qualities of man’s life, the effect of such a religion on man, and the importance of the individual man in society. Kleist used several factual earthquakes to base his work on; he took the ramifications of the disastrous earthquake that had destroyed Santiago on 13 May 1647, using it as a starting place for his short story. The short story uses the idea of an earthquake, as a sign from God, to change the destiny of the lovers Jeronimo and Josefa. The story of Jeronimo and Josefa is a tragic one because the lovers ultimately die despite being given a second chance. Originally, Jeronimo and Josefa had sinned by creating a baby when they were unmarried in the church’s eyes. As a result, they were both condemned to die by the Archbishop’s command. However, moments before they were about to be hanged (Josefa was sentenced to be hanged, and Jeronimo was trying to commit suicide in the jail cell), the earth shook, and buildings crumbled. The earthquake had saved the two lovers, and they were secretly reunited. However, after finding their way back to each other, they entered a church service to thank God for saving their lives. The Prior’s sermon directly cites the lovers as the reason that the earthquake occurred. Soon, the rest of the congregation discovered the lovers’ presence in the church. Master Pedrillo, one of the high churchmen, was outraged at their attendance in such a holy place of God’s. Jeronimo and Josefa were the ones who had caused the earthquake according to several members of the community. The lovers were then murdered in cold blood inside of the church’s walls, as was an innocent baby that belonged to a friend of theirs, Don Fernando.

One of the unanswered questions that Kleist leaves his readers with at the end of this work is whether or not there is a higher being, namely God, that watches over all of mankind. Many readers argue that there can be no God who watches over his people. If there is, how could he permit Jeronimo and Josefa to find their way back to one another only to me murdered, no less in a church, by a man from another city. God may not be in control of the lives of all the citizens of Chile, but if he isn’t, then who is? If he is, then why did he permit the earthquake to happen? Kleist lets the readers explore these questions merely by setting up a situation in which there is no definite answer. Readers must take whatever they believe, and use Kleist’s situational examples to decide how to understand the problems of the lovers.

Possibly, the higher being that sent the earthquake to the town was trying to punish the sinners, but one will never know. In the Prior’s sermon, he does tell the people of his church that the earthquake caused so much damage because of the two sinner’s misdeeds. After the Prior speaks his words, the two lovers are drawn to the center of the church, and they are then killed. Afterwards, a supposedly reverent church follower begins to chastise the two for their evil deeds, and asks for even more vengeance to be incurred. In the end, he attempts to slay their newborn baby, but unbeknownst to him, he slays the baby of a friend of theirs. What kind of God would permit this to happen? Some may see this as a punishment. Possibly Don Fernando received this blow to his family because they helped support the two sinners previously. Again, Kleist leaves this decision in the hands of the readers. It is up to them to decide whether or not there is a higher begin out there who is controlling society’s actions.

By slaying the newborn baby of the wrong man, Kleist could be showing his readers that God punishes all for their sins at different points in their life. He may not single out just the sinners, but he may feel that all deserve to suffer for the sins of another. Kleist’s personal problems helped contribute to the way in which he ended the story. He felt that no matter what one attempted to do, they were in this world on their own. He gave Jeronimo the right to commit suicide by hanging himself in the jail cell, and he gave Master Pedrillo the right to create chaos in the church, a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary for holiness. Kleist wants his readers to know that even if God is in control, it is not total control. He lends some of his power to the church, which yields it in a way that they feel necessary. Thus, Master Pedrillo, and the Prior take out their anger at the earthquake on the sinners Jeronimo and Josefa.

One last question that Heinrich von Kleist evokes from readers, which he also leaves unanswered, is whether or not the readers can feel sympathy for the sinners, and the townspeople. Another question that stems from such an idea is whether or not all of mankind is similar when it comes to punishment, or should they receive different punishments depending on their crimes. If all of the citizens had become a single family, then why were Josefa and Jeronimo killed? They had all helped each other out, and did their best to survive with what they had, but the two lovers/sinners were still killed.

Kleist brings this point up to have the readers wonder whether or not one man is any more special than another man is. Are we all equals in society? Do we each receive our own punishment for what we have done? Do the elite receive a less harsh punishment? Apparently, Kleist wishes to show readers that any one may die in an earthquake. The Abbess, the Archbishop, the nuns, etc. all die when the earthquake hits. None of them had committed any mortal sins most likely, yet Jeronimo and Josefa did. Who died? The religious people died as a result of the earthquake, but then again, it is these church folk that Kleist labels as corrupt. Is their any justice in this situation? Again, Kleist gives this decision to the reader to make. Can there really be any justice when the lovers are killed in the end after being given a second chance? Justice can been seen in several ways. The lovers received their just due for committing the sin of fornication: They were slain by Master Pedrillo. What about the innocent baby though? Did he deserve to die? No. He did not, but he died nonetheless.

In the case of sympathy, do readers feel sympathy for Jeronimo and Josefa. Of course they do. Kliest writes the story for them, and about them. They were tragically senteneced to die, or to jail for the rest of their mortal lives. However, many readers make an attempt to argue that Kleist wants no one man or woman to be more sympathetic than another. If this is so, why did Kleist focus on the situation that the two lovers were in? He could have told the tale from Master Pedrillo’s opinion, or the Abbess’ or the Archbishop’s. He did not though. Kleist was trying to show that in this deviant world, man has little choice as to their future. God, or any other higher being, gives his people a path. And they are supposed to follow this path to the best of their ability. However, if the earthquake was a sign from God, God is the one who changed their path. The sympathy must lie with the sinner/lovers because that makes most sense. They have been the ones who are physically harmed and in pain. They are the most real of all the characters. We readers, in our own ways, commit the same sins of Jeronimo and Josefa. They are reality, the others are not. And with reality is where our sympathy will always lie.

Kleist is highly imaginative and brilliant in his attempts to present a problem that has no real solution. And if there is a solution, it will certainly not unite the vast majority of readers. In this excellent story about two lovers who die not by God’s hands, but by those of an angry, religious man, Kleist is able to present a task to the readers like no other author: Is there justice? Are all men equal? Is there one God? How much control does he have over mankind? The answers to these and many more questions are, as one hates to learn, in the hands of the individual. Kleist provides no answers. He just presents a situation in which all should decide for themselves.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Hard Time

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Hard TimeBook Review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Number 9 was a definite hit in the VI Warshawski thriller and mystery series by Paretsky Sara. Hard Time starts off with a bang… VI almost hits someone while driving, then realizes it’s a dead body in the road. And although she does the right thing, because of her past issues with some of the police in the department, despite her father having been close with them, they determine she was the culprit in the hit and run. And VI ends up in prison — that’s the hard time.

Now that she’s hit a new decade, VI’s finally realizes she needs to act a little closer to her own age, but this prison stint is something she can’t quite avoid at first. And when she realizes there are a few cover-ups, she stays in prison to try to figure out what’s going… hopefully her attitude won’t get her beaten up too many times. Paretsky hits her stride in this installment, bringing home strong language, intricate prison details and a really strong attachment for readers to wanting VI to solve this crime. Plus the scenes are on point, full of thrills and interesting red herrings. I’d choose this one potentially as a starter if the first two don’t appeal to you, but I always recommend reading in order if you plan to commit to the whole series — or even think you might. Enjoy!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Cat Who Played Brahms

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The Cat Who Played BrahmsMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Review
Another fun release in the “Cat Who” series by Lilian Jackson Braun with this fifth installment, The Cat Who Played Brahms. I gave this one a 4 of 5 stars as it introduces us to Aunt Fanny, thus beginning the transition for Qwill from the big city to 400 miles north of everywhere. By now, you get the formula… you know who he is, but this one brings out his softer side when he delves deeper into retirement. Looking for relaxation, he stumbles into a mystery at the cabin and among the townspeople. You get to know several people who will be in future books, but you also get a sense of cats in the country! Normal antics. Kooky characters. Good writing (though basic).Just one of those fun things to read over 3 to 4 hours. And in this one, you get the opportunity to learn a little more about classic music. I like hearing it in the background, but not something to just sit and listen to all day long for me… I’m game for the opera and theatre, and I do enjoy classical music, but I know very little. So an education in the book was a nice thing too!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews