Monday, September 28, 2009


I must say I'm getting a bit disillusioned with blogging, and I knew this would happen. At first it was a lark mostly because I like to write and comment on books, which is my passion. I had no expectations for-- or even desires for--- any certain "blog fame". I was just having fun. A friend suggested that I put on a Stat Counter to see how many would be actually reading it. I did so. At first, I was really surprised that anyone at all was reading them; then I was surprised that there were so many reading them; then I got all hung up on the numbers rather than the actual writing of the book reviews. At that time, I would see the numbers get smaller and smaller which began to bother me---what did I say? Now I don't know where I am in regards to this blog. My wife looked at me in frustration and said,"You told me that you really enjoyed writing these book reviews. What does it matter if only a few are reading them? The enjoyment is in the writing. You must either give it all up, or continue, but take off that stupid Stat Counter and concentrate on your writing". How come she's so smart? So I have to mull it all over, and come to a decision.

By the way, I'm now reading THE LOST SYMBOL by Dan Brown. The novel is not that well written, silly at times, but I'm really enjoying it, I have to admit. Dan Brown is a smart man. There's so much suspense, surprises, and amazing information on certain things that it actually makes reading this book an adventure. My wife is anxiously waiting for me to finish reading it so she can. Oh! Margaret Atwood has a new novel out, part of her "speculative fiction" phase, AND (wait for it) my wife does NOT want to buy it. She keeps saying,"later". Aha! Now that's telling.

I may do the God Books next, God knows.

Monday, September 14, 2009


My wife doesn't kill insects. She doesn't expound, preach, or explain the reasons why she doesn't, she just doesn't. If an insect comes too close to her, she will just say "shoo", and with her fingers urge the pest to take another route. If a spider happens to seek shelter in our house, she will gently pick it up with a Kleenex, open the door and throw it out---with a "shoo", of course. If an insect needs to be killed(for whatever reason), she calls me in. I'm the exterminator---stomp, stomp. A squashed bug. The only time I've seen her kill an insect---and did so with great fury---was when an unfortunate wasp got in the car one day, and got dangerously close to our daughter in her car seat. My wife pulverized that bug with such spitfire power that it actually startled me. That wasp was so thoroughly squashed that it actually became part of the upholstery from then on. A vivid reminder to the insect world, stay away from this woman's babes.

But today's topic is bees, and I have a story to tell. It goes like this: One Saturday afternoon, my wife and I were busy in our garden/backyard. My wife was pruning and caring for the many plants she adores; I was nailing something---I like nailing things. Over my shoulder came a flying blob---it first looked like a black and yellow blob. I watched it in wonder trying to identify what exactly it was. It landed in the grass. I walked over to take a closer look. It was the biggest MFing bee I've ever seen! And on it's abdomen was this small, kind of miniature bee. I recognized right away what was going on: This was the Queen Bee and the Drone fertilizing her! WoW! My whole Grade 5 Science studies came rushing back to me. I've never seen this before---I doubt if many have.

I called over to my wife who sometimes gets annoyed when disturbed from her plant care duties. The conversation went this way:

Bernie: Hey! (Wife's name), come here. Quick!
Wife: I don't do "Quick".
B: Come here, you got to see this!
She ambles over with a garden spade in her hands.
W: What is it?
B: Look! There in the grass. Look!
W: (She looks closely). A bee? What's that? The size of it! What is it?
B: It's the Queen Bee and the Drone! How about that?
W: What's the drone doing?
B: He's..well..he's.. actually, he's fertiliz...
W: her.
B: (Wife's name!) Have some respect! Yes. He's fertilizing the Queen...for the continuation of the health of the hive. Cool, eh?
W: Leave them alone, dear.
B: You see, the drone is male, that's his job. All the workers in the hive are female. They do everything: they clean and keep the hive healthy and alive, they gather nectar, tend to the eggs...all kinds of things. The drone just does this. That's his only job.
W: Typical. Not much different from human males.
B: Hey!
W: How do you know so much about all this?
B: I went to Grade 5. It was part of the Grade 5 Science studies. Remember? Or did you go to Grade 5?
W: I skipped it and went right into High School.
B: Funny.
W: YOU remember Grade 5 Science? And I have to remind you several times over a month that our anniversary is coming up?
B: Hey, stay focused. The subject is bees. (I go closer to this auspices event now being performed on our lawn, I call out in a louder voice) Hey buddy, drone dude, get a room! (chuckle, chuckle)
W: Why did they have to pick our yard.
B: I know, eh? Property value will go down, for sure.
(She begins to walk away, to the flower patch)
B: You going? Aren't you going to watch?
W: They need their privacy. When they're done, tell them to leave a tip.

I took my work well away from this amazing spectacle peeking back every now and then to see how everything was progressing. An hour went by, and even more time passed. Then I saw the Queen begin to stir, and the Drone to fall off her. I called my wife who actually came over in a sort of hurry---that's qualitative, of course. Aha! She's interested.

Wife: What's going on?
Bernie: He's finished. It was well over an hour! How about that?
W: I take it back, he's not like the human male.
B: Hey! Getting a little lippy, eh? I'll get the whip, Wench.(that's from Shakespeare, I think)
W: You'll sleep in the barn!
(You know, when she says that, I think she means it)

The Queen Bee rights herself, seems to be slogging around trying to get her bearings---rough day. The Drone is all messed up. He falls on his back, walks unsteadily towards her. She pushes him away with her foot? arm? paw? whatever.

B: Did you see that?! She pushed him away.
W: Yes. Twice. He's only a Drone.

The Queen Bee takes flight, does a circle around the area, flies up and over the house. She's going back to the hive, I guess.
The Drone is still falling all over the place in a dizzy dance. Then he takes flight, does a circle, comes right over to inches from my face, seems to stop for a bit(I kid you not!), and heads over the house. I call out, "Good job, Drone. Well done there, buddy" My wife says, "Oh dear god, comradeship among the males. Really".
I say, "drone's my man".
Then my wife tells me something I did not know about these bees, and it was this: She says, " Do you know where the hive is? I do. It's under our front step!" Well, this put a different perspective on this whole afternoon event. My wife also said, "Just think of all those eggs that Queen Bee will shoot out because of this tryst in our yard. Just think of all the....." "Yeah, yeah, I get it", I say.

Well, if the bees will keep to themselves, as they usually do, I'll not bother them. I can't kill them, and neither will my wife. We'll co-habitat---it's the GREEN thing to do.

If you want to read about bees---and you really should because it's just a fantastic story--- you should get BEES: NATURE'S LITTLE WONDERS, by Candace Savage. This is an excellent little book on these familiar and wondrously odd creatures. I would say that it may just change your life---no kidding. At least you won't feel obligated to stomp on bugs just because they are there.

Next: God books. This time for sure.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


In psychiatry's never ending quest for recognizing, classifying, naming, and documenting every possible human deviation from the norm, they've come upon a conundrum of which they have no means of gathering information. It goes this way: (I love this) The noble---if not chaotic---field of psychiatry has lately found that there is a massive amount of people who "suffer" from apathy. These people don't give a shit about...well, practically everything. This "find" is setting the whole psychological world in a buzz. The good scientists would like to study this "condition" with great intensity, but(this is the part I like) they can't get these people to take part in research studies because they just don't care enough to be part of it. You got to love it. These people are too apathetic to be a part of a study on apathy.

This leads me into the book I just painfully finished. It's OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell. It concerns success and what factors led some people to reach this success. It cleverly uncovers other circumstances behind a successful person than is usually thought of in the accepted description of success. These could be, family, birth date, country, and so on. A lot of the book is fill---stories and biographies of supposedly successful people, and not successful people. He takes one theme or idea he is trying to clarify and hits you with it several times on each page. I think that this book could easily have been an essay. Blame the publisher.

Now this is where I will hook up to my first paragraph---clever, eh? I have a problem with the word "success". Does success mean wealth? Power? Proficiency? And does anyone really care? I don't think success can be measured on a yardstick. If you strive to succeed by other people's standards, you will probably sacrifice yorself in the process.

The author tells us about Oppenheimer's success in leading the delegation of mad scientists in building the BOMB. This man is responsible for the destruction of hundreds of thousands of souls---now that's success(sarcasm). The author also tells us of a Chris Langan(never heard of him) who is suppose to be a genius, and who has accomplished nothing because of bad breaks along the way. Therefore, this man is unsuccessful in every one's eyes. I don't get it. I have a couple of friends whose IQ's are well above the norm, and they would rather sail on calm lakes all day then rise to prominence in any field. They are extremely smart, and extremely apathetic, and extremely happy with their lives. So it goes. I wonder how many of these people are out there?

Malcolm Gladwell hit it big with a book called BLINK. This book rode the bestseller list for months and months. It's a book about thinking without thinking. On this topic, I only know that when I do something rashly without thinking, I get in a heap of trouble. I've learned a long time ago to think through things very carefully before acting. The first impulse is not always the right one to do.
About OUTLIERS, I would say that Mr. Gladwell's publisher was on him like aphids on a rose after the huge success with BLINK. The publisher wanted a book quick, quick, quick. OUTLIERS is the result, a book not properly thought through; a book finished in the blink of an eye.

I could go on but I really don't care. I hope Mr. Gladwell enjoys his success. Whatever.

Next: Well, God is waiting in the wings, as they say. He's none too pleased to be bumped these past weeks. God books are next.