Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Sunday, I was finally able to fix all of my computer problems in Samsonville. I replaced the ethernet card, the graphics card, and the router, and I am officially back in business. (I was able to fix my mother's computer a couple of weeks ago.) It took a lot more time than I anticipated - it always does, so I'm not sure why I expected it to be easier. Netgear sent me a new router since my old one was still under warranty, and yesterday I sent the damaged one back to them. I can't say enough good things about that company!

I am reading The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks. I don't like it very much. It isn't completely awful - I enjoyed it at first. Aside from a few "telling not showing" episodes, and an occasional duplication of the same phrase (ie, "roll in the sack"), the writing is fine - he mostly writes well, so in that respect it is easy to see why his books are often bestsellers - but I don't identify with, or even like, the characters.

I took the book out of a box in my department on campus. When people retire or leave the job for another reason, often when the office is cleaned out some of the books wind up in the common area, free for the taking. I always go through them, and take whatever interests me. Usually they are academic books, or at least education-related, such as something by Kozol. But last time there were quite a few fairly recent popular novels. I took the Sparks book because I'd seen (and liked) The Notebook, and have read good reviews of his writing.

This has nothing to do with my frustration with the book, but it's pretty hard to believe that a man is writing this book, or for that matter, wrote The Notebook. I suppose that is kind of a sexist remark, I mean why can't a man write a romantic story?, but they are not simply romantic, they are the ultimate "chick lit" or "chick flick." (I hate those terms, BTW, and usually I am not thrilled with that genre either, at least not as done by a contemporary author. [Bronte, Austen, etc. are fine.] I also dislike movies such as "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle" so I am probably not the best audience for Sparks' books.)

Anyway, I am about halfway through this book and I'd like to reach into the pages and slap the main character because she is so whiny and "poor me," and then slap her love interest just for good measure. Not that he doesn't deserve a good slap for his own tiresome nature. It seems the reader is supposed to view him as heroic? I don't think so; I think he is a glory hog. I keep hoping something really bad will happen to one of the characters and the book will wind up surprising me and being worth the effort! I don't know if The Notebook read like this, maybe. But even if it did, the looking back through Altzheimer's Disease theme made the story much more charming. With this book I am so annoyed that the so-called hardships these two characters have faced are either 1) self-inflicted, 2) not all that difficult, yet they act like such martyrs or 3) sad, but get over it already.

One other thing that is bothering me is the issue of the little boy. Many of the choices the main female character makes strike me as harmful. And the things they eat, because they don't have a lot of money, would make her fat, not thin. Plus that sort of diet would not help the son's learning disabilities. If his mother is supposed to be making such sacrifices for him, and has researched his disorder so much, you'd think that would be a no brainer. Hey, but why be concerned - a man swoops in and magically the kid improves!

It's too bad this was the first book of his that I read, since it is possible the others are better, and now I am turned off. But at least I know why I found it in a box for free!

OK. Enough said on that. I took some more flower and garden pictures, which I will post eventually. We had wonderful produce this weekend, as I struggled with the machines: fresh zucchini from the garden, and fresh local sweet corn from the Hurley Flats.

That's a nice segue to something I wanted to link, but couldn't find again when I actually started writing: I read a story about how difficult it is to find food that is produced in the USA, and also that it is more expensive when you can get it. The article mentioned that sometimes bad weather means there are not enough California or Florida orange crops, and so citrus fruit has to be imported; there is no choice, regardless of price. I wanted to link to that particular story because the essence of buying local whole foods means that you have to make a lifestyle change. If the produce isn't locally grown in your area, or it is out of season, you just don't buy it. It was strawberry season, so we picked, and ate strawberries nonstop. Now they are done - no more strawberries for a year. It was cherry season, same thing. Now it is sweet corn season, and we are eating our fill. (And I must add that we grow the best around here.) Peaches are coming soon, zucchini is here now, and within the next couple weeks so many other things will be, too. I grow as much as I can, but I also visit farm stands and the co-op. If you want green beans in the winter, it's quite simple: you have to freeze or can them when they are in season!

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