24 October 2008

Purple mountain majesties

Since moving to the Pikes Peak region I have had a number of occasions to admire the morning purple mountain majesties that Katharine Lee Bates wrote about. This morning I witnessed perhaps the most beautiful (or stunning) sunrise that I have ever seen, but it was facing the other direction. In fact this sunrise surpassed most sunsets that I have seen. Expansive, vibrant, contrasting colors that slowly shifted along the clouds.

This a fortunate location to see wonderful sunrises and sunsets. Open plains to the east in the morning, sloping hills to the west for wonderful mountains framed by the sunset.

Now if I could just leave it there. I really did enjoy the experience, I am just frustrated at the futility of trying to take a photograph to capture the colors and expanse of the sunrise. Why is it that a photograph can't capture an image to invoke the feeling of watching the sunrise? Would a time lapse be any better? How does the artist capture feelings in their work?

I realize that my experience was most likely unique to me, but how can I experience it again? How does one preserve the moment?

23 October 2008


I have found the NPR blog Planet Money to be a wonderful resource to learn more about our current financial crisis. They had a bit today that captured my feelings toward the US government's actions over the last few years exactly.

The blog post
was about actions in Argentina to nationalize pensions. In the post Simon Johnson was quoted as saying:
Untrustworthy governments can use the crisis as a smokescreen for destructive, self-serving policies that wouldn't normally fly.

This expresses my opinion wonderfully. In my opinion the reaction to 9/11, the recent Iraq conflict, the war in Afghanistan, the bailout and economic crisis are all examples of government declared crises used as smokescreens to strip American citizens of their rights and placing an even larger burden on their future.

I will stop here, as I easily get worked up over these things. Anyone that feels similarly I recommend you check out the downsizedc.org campaign "I am not afraid." Downsizedc.org is an effort to contact your federal representatives on a number of different issues all focused on decreasing the influences of the US federal government.

22 October 2008

Malcolm Gladwell

I had heard of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point before but hadn't thought to read it until I came across his book Blink as an audio book at the library.

I really enjoyed Blink. I find it fascinating how little we understand of the factors that determine our decisions. Our brains are amazing instruments, that we understand woefully little of. This book shines a light on the limitations of our understanding as well as the great potential in our lives if we can learn to use more of our brain's capabilities. Unfortunately I finished this book more than two months ago so the ideas aren't fresh in my mind, but it left me thinking every time I set the book down.

After such a delightful time with Blink I checked out The Tipping Point, Gladwell's earlier book. Even though I didn't find The Tipping Point quite as engaging as Blink, that is not to say that I wasn't left thinking about the book often and for extended periods of time. I ended up discussing this one with my wife nearly as much as I did while listening to Blink. I agree with Gladwell's explanation of the creation of epidemics and social fads. Knowing the factors that go into making things sticky still leaves the challenge of actually making things sticky. There are obviously companies and people who have outstanding track records at making ideas and products sticky, but it still feels like a bit of magic that leaves me stumped. Not that I have had any great ideas, messages, or products that I have felt needed to shared with the world.

Having read both books I just came across Malcolm's blog and plan to check out some of the other topics he writes about. He has an engaging style that made it easy to follow his reasoning and left me to ponder the possible applications of these books in my own life.

Change in direction

As mentioned I didn't have a purpose in starting this blog last year, as evident by the two lonely posts that I made.

I have been thinking for a while of ways to track books I have read recently. I will try to write up some of the books that I have read or listened to lately. I have used my lengthy commute mainly to listen to podcasts, but I recently grabbed a few audio books and enjoyed them tremendously.

If you find anything I read or have written interesting please leave comments, as most of these books got me thinking quite a bit and I would enjoy an opportunity to discuss them.