Thursday, December 27, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 6-C

Chapter 20, page 261, "Tea with the Taliban": The reporters at the Marriot Hotel, Mortenson talked to Taliban ppl. He went to the Afghan border, but they tore a page out of his passport, so he went to the US people in Nepal. Then he was interrogated. They finally let him go. He flew back to the US, where he had got hate mail.

Chapter 21, page 278, "Rumsfeld's Shoes": To Afghanistan . . . schools in Kabul. Then a fatwa was issued, banning Mortenson from working in Pakistan. Burned school. Parvi will go to court. Destroyed schools in Kabul--brought supplies. He got mad because the teachers weren't getting paid or weren't getting paid enough from the US support. Back in the US, Mary Bono took him around Washington. Talked to people. Turned down money from military.

Three Cups of Tea Post 6-B

Dear Greg Mortenson,

I read that you got lots of hate mail. "'I wish some of our bombs had hit you because you're counterproductive to our military efforts'" (275; ch. 20). Don't let that get you down. You are certainly not being counterproductive! If kids in Afghanistan are getting brainwashed, I think the problem down there is ignorance. That goes for America too. Propaganda seems to almost always favor going to war in Asia. When I was working on a paper for English 10, I was surprised to find that the saying "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" is often used in a positive way. Revenge is something that we should not even consider as an option.

Another letter stated that, "Our Lord will see that you pay dearly for being a traitor" (275; ch. 20). I'm not quite sure what he (or she) was thinking when he wrote this. I assume he was referring to you helping Muslims. As far as I know, the Bible doesn't say that we should kill anyone of a different religion. I'm not sure exactly how we should deal with them, but if I needed to guess, I would assume that they might have a hard time following the Bible if they're blown to bits.

I'm glad to hear that you haven't given up. Even if it was bad to educate Afghan kids, they are still better off learning at your schools than at the madrassa schools. "But the World Bank concluded that 15 to 20 percent of madrassa students were receiving military training, along with a curriculum that emphasized jihad and hatred of the West at the expense of subjects of like math, science, and literature" (244; ch. 19).

I hope you continue to help build schools!
Adam Anderson

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 6-A

Figurative language:
1. "At night, the burning ends of their cigarettes glowed from the greenery like deadly fireflies" (262; ch. 20). It's a simile, because he's comparing the lit cigarettes to fireflies using "like."
2. "'The circus,' Suleman said, smiling proudly up at Mortenson, like a student demonstrating an impressive project at a science fair" (262; ch. 20). It's a simile, because the author is comparing Suleman presenting the reporters to a kid presenting a science project using "like."
3. "'I'm sure we can clear all this up,' he said, flashing a grin meant to be disarming as he took a pen out of his pocket and slid a notebook into place like a soldier ramming an ammunition cartridge into a military sidearm" (270; ch. 20). It's a simile, because he's comparing the soldier sliding the notebook to with using an ammunition cartridge using "like."

Significant Quote:
"'We women of Afghanistan see the light through education,' Uzra replied. 'Not through this or that hole in a piece of cloth'" (289; ch. 21). Uzra Faizad, the principal of the Durkhani School, is being interviewed about wearing a burkha. She explained that she felt safer wearing it, and it wasn't really important.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 5-C

Chapters 17-19

Chapter 17: "Cherry Trees in the Sand" Bombing, Fatima Batool's sister died. Many people died. Had tea with Taliban people. They pump water for the refugee camp. Eventually, that place advanced.

Chapter 18: "Shrouded Figure" Shows presentations in US for money. Newspapers wrote about Mornenson. Complaints about Greg being unreliable. Went to weird old woman's house. Went dogsledding. Went to honor Mother Teresa. Mortenson nagged for money by lots of people. Worried about fighting. Had Khyber Bishop Mortenson.

Chapter 19: "A Village Called New York" Mortenson saw many Wahhabi madrassa buildings, which brainwashed. Inaugurated CAI water projects with George McCown and Faisal Baig. Musharraf became ruler of Pakistan. Ahmed Shah Massoud murdered by Al Qaeda. Heard about 9/11. Kuardu late inauguration with Syed Abbas. McCown flew away. Haji Ali was dead.

Three Cups of Tea Post 5-B

In Chapter 19, Haji Ali, the nurmadhar of Korphe Village, died, and I realized how large of a role he played in "Three Cups of Tea" up to this point. In the beginning, when Greg Mortenson got lost after attempting to climb K2, Haji Ali let him sleep in his house with their warmest possessions. He was the one for whom Mortenson promised to make a school in Korphe (33; ch. 3), so if it weren't for him, the book most likely wouldn't exist.

Also, throughout the book, Mortenson was referred to as Haji Ali's "American son," which shows that he influenced him in many ways. Mortenson's father had died when he was young (260; ch. 19), so he didn't know a biological father for most of his life. Haji Ali filled that role nicely, as he is willing to get in Mortenson's face and order him around.

"It had become his custom to return to Korphe and share a cup of tea with Haji Ali each fall before returning to America" (256; ch. 19). Many people were becoming impatient with Greg Mortenson, and he promised Tara that he would learn to manage his time better (229- 233; ch. 18). He doesn't have as much time as he would most likely wish to have, but he still set aside time to drink tea with Haji Ali. "'Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time'" (150; ch. 12).

Three Cups of Tea Post 5-A

Figurative language:
1. "Patches of purple lupines had been applied to the high meadows between mountains with broad brush strokes" (214; ch. 17). It's a metaphor, because he's comparing the scenery to a painting.
2. "The harvest he reaped from these envelopes made the slide shows just bearable" (225; ch. 18). It's a metaphor, because he is comparing earning donations to reaping harvest.
3. "When a potential donor in Atlanta began calling CAI's office dangling monetary bait, Mortenson bit down on the hook and booked a flight" (230; ch. 18). It's a metaphor, because he is comparing offering money to luring a fish with a bait.

Emerging theme:
An emerging theme in this book is death, because 9/11 just happened, and Haji Ali and his wife died. Also, Jean Hoerni died in Chapter 14.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 4-C

Chapters 13 through 16

Chapter 13: "A Smile Should Be More Than a Memory" Mortenson went to Peshawar, but he was captured.

Chapter 14: "Equilibrium" Mortenson returned home, and Tara had a baby named Amira Eliana Mortenson. They finished the school in Korphe. He shows the picture of the school to Jean Hoerni, and he dies soon after that, leaving a million dollars to the Central Asia Institute.

Chapter 15: "Mortenson in Motion" The sher of Chakpo declared a fatwa against Mortenson. CAI meetings at hotel to discuss new projects. Mortenson decides to build three new schools. Pakhora, Kuardu, and Ranga. He met Syed Abbas Risvi, a Shia scholar. Held inauguration ceremony for Korphe school, opened.

Chapter 16: "Red Velvet Box" Got approval from supreme Shia council in Qom, Iran, in box. Gets lots of requests. Jan Junkpa told police he was Indian spy. Mohammed Aslam Khan (story of going to school) asked for school.

Three Cups of Tea Post 4-B

As I read the last few chapters of Three Cups of Tea, I have been forced to ask myself why this is the first time I've heard of about this.

Jean Hoerni, a very rich man who had been assisting Greg Mortenson for awhile, gave him a million dollars to make the schools when he died. Greg Mortenson built a school in Pakhora , Kuardu (where Changazi tried to have a school built), and Ranga (189; ch. 15). Shakeela, a girl who went to one of his schools, was the first woman in the Hushe Valley to have the opportunity to get a higher education.

Why haven't I heard about this in the newspaper?

Anyway, something else that surprised me was how controversial the idea of educating women appears to be. When the sher of Chakpo declared a fatwa (religious ruling) against Mortenson, he accused Mortenson of planning to educate girls at his school (184; ch. 15).

Something very similar occurred awhile back, and I got the idea that Muslims were against the female education. I was proven wrong when Mortenson got approval from the supreme Shia council in Qom, Iran, in a red velvet box. It explained that, "'.. our Holy Koran tells us all children should receive education, including our daughters and sisters" (199; ch. 16).

If that is true, why is it regarded as being bad before that? Although this whole idea might have been simply cultural, it isn't presented that way. It explained earlier in the book that the people of Korphe couldn't read (153; ch. 12). Maybe since they can't read the Koran, they assumed that it forbid the education of women.

Three Cups of Tea Post 4-A

Figurative language:
1. "The great curving ramparts of the Bala Hisar Fort loomed over the receding town, glowing in the fiery light like a long-dormant volcano on the verge of awakening" (157; ch. 13). It's a simile, because it uses "like" to compare the color of the rampart to the color of lava.
"... Mortenson lay awake much of the second night, test-driving and rejecting various strategies" (166; ch. 13). It's a metaphor, because he is comparing the trial and error of different plans to trying out vehicles.
"the rising sun iced the hanging glaciers of Masherbrum pale pink, like a gargantuan pastry dangling above them at breakfast time..." (206; ch. 16). It's a metaphor, because it compares the color of the mountains to that of a pastry.

1. rampart (157; ch. 13): n. a fortification.
2. phlegm (162; ch. 13): n. thick mucous.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 3-C

Chapter 9 through 12

Chapter 9: The People Have Spoken: Greg was fired and dumped by his girlfriend. Mortenson started staying at Witold Dudzinski's appartment, which wasn't pleasant. Mortenson was mugged. He called Jean again.

Chapter 10: Mortenson ordered the bridge cable. He stayed in Changazi's house for awhile. The truck carrying the cable was blocked, so the Korphe villagers carried it. Then Mortenson went hunting with Twaha and others. Then they finished the bridge.

Chapter 11: Six Days: Mortenson turned down Marina when she tried to come back to him. Then he met and married Tara Bishop.

Chapter 12: Haji Ali's Lesson: Ghulam Parvi helped Mortenson get most of his school materials back. Then they built the foundation of the school. Haji Ali told Mortenson that he couldn't read.

Three Cups of Tea Post 3-B

Mortenson's life has taken a sharp turn for the better. During Chapter 9, Mortenson's girlfriend left him, and he was fired (101; ch. 9). To add to that, the school wasn't getting anywhere either. In order to bring the school supplies to Korphe, they needed a bridge (97; ch. 8)!

However, Mortenson soon met his wife, Tara Bishop, at mountaineer celebration (130; ch. 11). Also, Greg met Ghulam Parvi, an accountant of Changazi. He helped Greg get back the building materials, although some of them had been stolen by Changazi (137-138; ch. 12). Jean Hoerni decided to make a company for Greg's school to create one school per year (145). Finally, the men of Korphe cooperated very well and helped build the foundation for Greg's school (ch. 12).

Greg certainly could have given up during chapter 9, but he continued to follow his dream of the school. I must admit, however, that there was as much luck involved as there was persistence!

Three Cups of Tea Post 3-A

1. roguery (109): n. mischief behavior.
2. advocate (123): n. a supporter.

Significant quote:
"'Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time'" (150; ch. 12). Greg Mortenson is trying to make everyone work fast on the school. The villagers in Korphe like doing things at a slow pace, unlike Americans for the most part.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Examples of Debate

Here are some kinds of debates:

Arguing with parents: This usually occurs in a house or in a car. These debates help to decide where a family will go on vacation, whether an allowance will be raised, and other similar decisions. These debates often get no where and waste peoples time. However, these can help make better decisions when everyone cooperates. These debates aren't structured well, so family members usually end up shouting at each other.

Political campaign: This occurs in a rented auditorium. These debates usually are held to show citizens what viewpoint different candidates have. These usually don't help people to arrive at a better decision, because the candidates generally already have a viewpoint which their party supports, and it probably won't change during the debate. This form of debate is structured. Candidates are given time intervals to talk. This helps to get the politicians' viewpoints across in the time given.

Court cases: This happens in court houses. These debates usually serve the role of determining whether someone is guilty or not. They definitely help to come to better decisions, because the final verdict is the sentence of whoever is on trial. These debates are structured, and this helps to come to a decision in a timely matter.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 2-C

Chapters 5 through 8.

Chapter 5: Mortenson contacted many celebrities asking for donations, but he only got one. He also met Marina. He sold most of his things, then flew back.

Chapter 6: Abdul Shah at hotel, bargained for lumber, Manzoor Khan taught him to pray.

Chapter 7: Riding on truck

Chapter 8: Different villages try to change his plans, arrived at Korphe.

Three Cups of Tea Post 2-B

I'm not sure what to think of all this. It seems as if every time Greg Mortenson tries to work with people, they try to trick him.

For example, Ali was constantly trying to persuade Mortenson to buy his lumber, as I mentioned in my last post. He was giving Mortenson orange soda to get him in a good mood, but at least he didn't give him alcohol. But that wasn't as bads as the other happenings.

When Greg came to the village of Khane, he was introduced in a unexpected way:
"I wish to thank Mr. Girek Mortenson for honoring us and coming to build a school for Khane village," Janjungpa said.
"A school for Khane?" Mortenson croaked, almost choking on the chicken.
"Yes, one school, as you promised," Janjungpa said, gazing intently around the circle of
men as he spoke, as if delivering a summation to a jury. "A climbing school." (88; ch. 8)
Akhmalu jumped in and argued that he would build a school for the children of Khane. Mortenson was going to build a school for the children of Korphe. This began a heated debate about which was true, and the argument lasted for four hours, while everyone ignored Greg completely. This had been a set-up. Greg had been invited to a feast so that the community could influence him to build a Khane school.

Later, Changazi claimed to have shifted Greg Mortenson's school supplies over to his other office. When Greg arrived in Kuardu, another feast was held. "'I can promise you no arguments. They have already agreed to see that your school is built in our village before winter'" (93; ch. 8). Mortenson left the room instantly.

Although Greg Mortenson was being constantly harassed by the people of different villages, I don't altogether blame them. In a rich community like ours, a school is a must, as the government provides them. We take it for granted. However, in a poor country like Kuardu, that is not the case. But schools are still thought of as being important there, and I suppose everyone deserves to go to school.

From the front and back cover, I assume that the Korphe school was completed, and perhaps Greg went back to Khane and Kuardu to make schools for them, too.

Three Cups of Tea Post 2-A

1. quixotic (53): adj. chivalrous, idealistic, or impractical.
2. dacoit (91): n. A gang member in India or Myanmar.

Significant quote:
"Finally, Ali adjusted the crisp white prayer cap on his head and stroked his long beard before naming a figure. Abdul shot up out of his cross-legged crouch and clasped his forehead as if he'd been shot. He began shouting in a wailing, chanting voice ripe with insult" (65; ch. 6). Abdul Shah was helping Greg Mortenson buy materials for his school. They were buying lumber from a man named Ali. He was constantly trying to prove to Mortenson what a good deal it was, having his son jump up and down on the wood, in comparison to other wood. It sounds just like buying a car!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Three Cups of Tea Post 1-C

Introduction through Chapter 4

In the introduction, David Oliver Relin was flying in a helicopter to the place at which the book takes place. He then tells all the great things about Greg Mortenson.

He describes his failure at bringing Christa's bracelet to the top of the mountain K2. He explains what had happened last time he was there: Etienne had become paralyzed by going up the mountain too fast.

Then he met up with Mouzafer Ali, the porter. Mortenson got lost again though, and he ended up in Korphe. He was treated well by Haji Ali. Greg said he promised that he would build a school for him.

Mortenson returned to America, and goes into a storage closet. He described his childhood and his experience with his sister, Christa.

Three Cups of Tea Post 1-B

Dear Greg Mortenson,

I have enjoyed your book, "Three Cups of Tea," so far. The beginning was very boring, but it gets better. The problem with that is most people start from the first chapter, so someone might set the book down before they get to the good stuff, unless he is too lazy to go to the book store and buy a new Outside Reading book. The book starts with David Oliver Relin praising you up and down. Then you are just walking alone in the snow for several pages. It wasn't very exciting to read. "Mortenson tried to shake himself into a state of alertness" (10; ch. 1). I did too. Really, though, after you meet up with Mouzafer Ali, things start to get interesting.

My only other complaint is it's annoying when the book explains random anecdotes that don't amount to anything in the story. "Nearly a century earlier, Filippo De Filippi, doctor for and chronicler of the duke of Abruzzi's expedition to the Karakoram, recorded the desolation he felt among these mountains" (11; ch. 1). I have a gloomy feeling that the book might have been 50 pages shorter if you had stuck to the actual story that you are telling.

But the book has positives too, you know. I thought it was comical the way you were treated at the house in Korphe. You were treated with the greatest hospitality, and you didn't have any choice in the matter. "Haji Ali gripped his guest by the shoulders with his powerful hands and pushed him back on the pillows" (26; ch. 2).

By the way, sorry if I should be talking to David Relin instead of you. Both of you are listed as the author, so I really don't know how much control you had over the book.

Yours truly,
Adam Anderson

Three Cups of Tea Post 1-A

1. scree (10): n. loose rocks on the side of a mountain.
2. dementia (12): n. severe brain disorder.

Figurative language:
1. "So Mortenson lay beneath the stars salting the sky" (12; ch. 1). It's a metaphor, because he is comparing salt crystals to stars, because they are both small white dots.
2. "'It was like hanging from a rope strapped to a big sack of potatoes'" (14; ch. 1). This is a simile. Etienne was unconscious, so he wasn't helping them at all.
3. "Mortenson gathered a comet's tail as he passed into tawny fields..." (24; ch. 2). It is a metaphor. He is comparing the children that were following him to a comet's tail.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Outside Reading Book: "Three Cups of Tea"

  • "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
  • 2006
  • Nonfiction
  • 331 pages
  • I think it will be challenging because it's a nonfiction memoir of an adult. The theme of building schools wouldn't be appealing to kids or teenagers for the most part.
  • I chose it because my dad has already read it, and he said it was good. It was helpful that we already owned it, too. I looked at several different books, and this was the one that seemed to be the best.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sea Inside Post 3

One scene that I remember fairly well was when Ramon was lying in his bed alone. It was a medium shot of the side of his bed, and I think it was raining outside. I don't remember when in the movie this took place. This creates a miserable scene, which is supposed to show how miserable Ramon was in his current confinement to the room, which he has been in for a very, very long time.

Another scene I remember is when Ramon is talking to Julia. The shots were almost all close-ups of their faces. This was done to show that the two were growing close, which is very apparent later in the film. It also gives you a personal, uncomfortable feeling, like your spying on them while they're getting ready to kiss.

The third scene I remember was at the end. Ramon is in bed, getting ready to drink the water. The scene is almost entirely one shot, and it makes you feel like Ramon is talking to you, giving you his last words before committing suicide. You are also seeing what others saw when the original video was found. This scene raps the movie up well, because the original video was not intended for people who had just watched a full movie about him, so he tells some things that we already know.

The Sea Inside Post 2

The Sea Inside and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly are both about quadriplegics, and yet they are quite different.

The central characters in both stories are only able to do what others do for them, aside from communication. However, Bauby's condition is significantly worse than Ramon's. Bauby can't talk, and he has to communicate only by blinking his left eye. On the other hand, Ramon can talk fluently, and he can even write with a pen in his mouth (somewhat).

Also, Bauby's face is pale, one of his eyes is sewn shut, drool dripping from his mouth, and his mouth and nose damaged. Ramon looks just like he did before his accident besides some balding.
Both Ramon and Bauby have sarcastic personalities. However, Bauby isn't able to crack jokes, because they lose their point after blinking it out.

The purpose of the stories are also quite different. The Sea Inside's point is obviously to convince people that suicide should be legal, at least for quadriplegics. However, the point of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is much harder to understand, as I explained in an earlier post.

In my opinion, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is more powerful than The Sea Inside. It seems more heartfelt than The Sea Inside, as it was Bauby's way of communicating with the outside world. It wasn't necessarily trying to sway the reader's opinion.

The Sea Inside Post 1

It is very hard to say whether I agree with Ramon (sorry, I don't know how to add the accent over the "o"). The characters that were opposed to his suicide seemed very ignorant to his situation, but I mean "characters." It is quite likely that those characters were greatly exaggerated to make them as something like villains, and the same goes to the "heroes" who wanted to help him die. There is obviously a huge bias towards Ramon's decision, and the film is most likely intended to convince the world, or at least Spain, that suicide should be an option.

As I'll discuss in my later post regarding this film, Ramon's disability is much less severe than Jean-Dominique Bauby's. The Ramon's situation fails to make me as sympathetic as the film makers may have hoped. He could have done many things despite his condition, but he just didn't want to.

Ramon just seems depressed (although he always has that same smile on his face). He just sitting in bed, examining the meaning of his life. He is clearly not a religious man, since he doesn't believe in the after life, and he would certainly have been more hopeful if he had been one.

Perhaps it is good that Ramon died, as it put him out of his misery. I think that it should be a person's choice, in this case anyway. Sometimes teenagers suddenly hate their life and end it swiftly, and later regret it most likely. However, Ramon has been in that room for a very, very long time, and this was no spur of the moment decision.

So I don't have a clear cut decision. This is clearly a very large controversy. I'll just wait for a law. I think the decision of the court was fine, as I think it is hard to decide whether someone should die or not.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week 6, Part 2

This was a rough draft of the essay. I later chose Option 2 instead.

By writing A Walk in the Woods, I think Bill Bryson wanted to increase concerns about our environment. He wrote a very interesting and humorous memoir about his adventure with Katz hiking the Appalachian Trail.

He is clearly very biased toward nature, and he has a negative tone towards the National Park Service. "I am almost certain that if that $200 million a year were restored to the budget, nearly all of it would go into building more parking lots and RV hookups, not into saving trees and certainly not into restoring the precious, lovely grassy balds" (135; ch. 7).

He also chooses long words that I don't hear often. "... with an imposing leonine grandeur... (233; ch. 13) is a good example of the vocabulary he uses regularly. Perhaps he just has a large vocabulary, so he uses it without thinking about it. He may also use them because he enjoys making himself seem more sophisticated than others, although that is not as likely.

Bill also tends to explain some history relating to the section of the book he is writing, both recent and ancient. For example, he explained the history of Harpers Ferry when he was hiking there. "The battle for Harpers Ferry was the finest moment for Stonewall Jackson..." (243; ch. 13). Perhaps Bill does this to show that the Appalachian Trail is full of historic sites, so it should be preserved.

Bill Bryson also complains a lot. Whether it be the poor quality of their maps, the high or low temperature, the people, and everything else. Bill tends to make just about everything seem to be the worst part of his trip so far. "First days are always bad. Tomorrow would be better... Well, we were both wrong" (350; ch. 19).

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods was made both to make people think about their environment more, and to show that his hike was long and hard enough that he didn't need to finish it. It also made me laugh a lot, so if you're looking for an enjoyable book to read, be sure to pick this one up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Week 6, Part 1

Katz is back! Bill and Katz came to Maine, and began hiking together again.

Katz had made up his mind that the best way to hike was with newspaper delivery bags, and to hardly pack anything, but Bill finally talked some sense into him, although they took less, and they brought raw food to eat.

Very early on they saw a moose, who was drinking from a stream. He couldn't believe someone would hunt them. "You might as well hunt cows" (349; ch. 19).

Katz started throwing things angrily, in a very similar way to the first day. He had thrown food, clothes, and a water bottle, to Bryson's great surprise.

They came to a stream in the middle of the path, and they tried step over it on stones. Katz fell in, and so did Bill. Both of them nearly drowned. After they got across, two young hikers walked through the water with their packs over their heads with the greatest of ease.

When they came to the town of Monson, Bill Bryson found out that Katz had been drinking. He wanted more money to buy beer, but Bill wouldn't let him. Katz was supposed to have quit drinking a long time ago.

They came to the Hundred Mile Wilderness, which was a dark and long section of the AT. At first they are mad at each other, but eventually Katz returns to his normal self and explains that he enjoys drinking a lot.

Bill goes ahead to fill up their water bottles at the stream. He waits for more than half an hour, and he finally goes back only to find that Katz is gone! Bill starts panicking, and he searches everywhere for him. It was very hot, and if Katz didn't have water he might die!

Eventually, Katz is found. He explained that he had gone off the trail and gotten lost. They both agreed that they wanted to go home.

So they hitchhiked back to civilization. They weren't excited to have the comforts of cities because they know they'll have them for a very long time. Bill and Katz agreed that although they didn't walk the entire trail, they walked enough of it. "So Katz was right after all, and I don't care what anybody says. We hiked the Appalachian Trail" (394; ch. 21).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Please comment here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Week 5, Part 2

First, Bill Bryson described the possibilities of mountain lions living in New England, and how pointless hunting has led to the extinction of many species of birds. Returning to the story, Bill met Chicken John, who was famous for somehow losing the AT. Before separating, Bill reminded Chicken John that he was walking in the wrong direction.

While hiking, Bill became very, very hot, but he finally came to a Burger King, where he bought a very large Coke. Later, he ran into a man with a handheld called "Enviro Monitor," which could measure eighty values, which were mostly useless.

As Bill was hiking the White Mountains, a mist came and it became cold. He realized that he had forgotten his waterproofs, and he began to worry about hypothermia. As he walked, he was getting cold and wet, and every time he looked at his watch, it read the same time! Bill was sure he was losing his mind, and he described several strange effects hypothermia can have on the brain. When he finally got to a lodge, he realized that his watch was stuck.

Then he came to Mount Washington, where it was so windy that you could sometimes get blown into the air! Bill made a long description of the history of hotels at Mount Washington.

A Walk in the Woods has a pattern for each chapter, it seems. Bryson will start by telling a specific story of someone who was in the same area that Bill is in. This expands into a topic spanning about three or four pages long. When the monologue has finally ended, Bill will return to the story and describe his experience hiking this particular area, and will add various facts, figures, and anecdotes. Finally, he will usually start over again with a topic which will continue until the chapter ends.

Now, I have enjoyed this book without a doubt. Bill’s hiking story will span just enough pages to keep me reading. The problem is that now Katz is gone. Since Bill has been day-hiking, he’s been alone for the most part, and the book is starting to get dull. Chapter 17 was an exception, as the story was fairly entertaining, although it made me feel somewhat queazy (I still feel somewhat lightheaded at the moment, so perhaps it wasn’t the book’s fault). I hope that Bill will hurry up and go home, so the time can speed up to a week per page until Katz joins up with him again.

In a way, though, Katz’s absence has been refreshing. His mouth has been the source of the majority of swearing in A Walk in the Woods. But although Katz f-words have been annoying, you’d think I’d be used to it. I’ve heard worse on the random online forums that I sometimes talk on. Also, Katz’s language isn’t usually presented in a positive light, and the author doesn’t ever stoop to his level of language. Bill prefers to use “goodness” instead (which I actually find more offensive than the f-word, but I won’t go into right that now).

So in general, I miss Katz and hope that his personality re-enters the book very soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Week 5, Part 1

I replied to and

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Week 4, Part 2

It was raining outside, and Bill was still worried about bears, so they went to a shelter for the night. However, another group of hikers met up with them, and they were loud and obnoxious:
"I've never done this before."
"What--camp in a shelter?"
"No, look through binoculars with my glasses on."
"Oh, I thought you meant camp in a shelter--ha! ha! ha!"
"No, I meant look through binoculars with my glasses on--ha! ha! ha!" (224-225; ch. 12)
They were so annoying that Katz and Bill left the shelter and camped in the rain!

Bill and Katz were picked up by Bill's family and they went home. When Bill got home, he still wanted to camp. He got in his car and drove along the AT to places they were skipping, and he hiked small portions of it. However, he didn't enjoy it much.

Bill reached Centralia. Because there was so much coal under the town, a fire had been burning under it for the last thirty-four years, and he read that it would continue for a thousand years. The town appeared to be completely abandoned, and steam was rising from the ground. He left.

Later, he went to a zinc mill near Palmerton, Pennsylvania. He wanted to see the mountain which had no vegetation thanks to pollution from the mill. He got into trouble with a security guard, but he eventually got away.

In Chapter 15, Bill goes on and on about how mountains are created, and that we are still in an ice age.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Week 4, Part 1

I think the quote that best explains the tone of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is, "'... trust is such a kind of bedrock part of hiking the AT, you know? I thru-hiked myself in 1987, so I know how much you come to rely on the goodness of strangers. The trail is really all about that, isn't it?'" (242; ch. 13). Although Bill didn't actually say that quote, I think it's important because throughout the book, Bill has been running into many different people, and it has a large impact on him. Sometimes people give him food, keep him company, and give him rides, while others annoy him so much that he gives up his shelter to get away. Without these people, the trail would be very dull. Although nature is fascinating, you need to have someone to share it with.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

If you ask me, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was a very interesting book. Jean's condition was very stressful to think about, and I was glad when he started turning his head 90 degrees and humming a tune. Every time I put the book down, I felt a great sense of relief. I can move! I don't think I can ever complain about my body again (not that I usually do).

I'm not sure what inspired Jean to write this book. Perhaps he was trying to show that people should be allowed to die if their only other option is to remain in locked-in syndrome. Or the opposite: Jean could be trying to show that no matter how the body is damaged, the human mind is still free.

Whatever the case, the author must have had a very strong will to write the book, because he did so by blinking his eye. It's hard to imagine how frustrating it must have been to blink on the wrong letter, and having no way to say, "Oops!" Even if Claude was reciting the alphabet slowly, I have a feeling that you've blinked a couple times without purposely doing so, and it was most likely the same for Jean. I assume that his eye would start to hurt after a page or two. Also, what if he wanted to go back and change something? Or if he didn't think of an idea instantly, wouldn't Claude just keep on going? "U, L, O, M, D..." Yep. Very frustrating stuff.

I found Jean's dream to be interesting. It's often surprising how much sense dreams make when you remember them. In his dream, Jean was functioning normally, but when the situation became dangerous, he suddenly couldn't move or talk. It really shows that no matter how high the butterfly can fly, it still bangs into the diving bell.

Now that Mr. Hatten has brought up three unimaginably terrible situations, would you rather: a: be stuck on the top floor of a burning skyscraper, b: be stuck in a dark submarine at the bottom of the sea, or c: have locked-in syndrome with an messed-up face?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Week 3, Part 2

My opinion of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods has been usually fairly high. Bill has been trying throughout the book to give the message that the beauties of nature are slowly disappearing thanks to Americans. I think he does a good job of conveying that, but at the same time, he tends to go on and on. The story of hiking with Katz has been both interesting and humorous, and it stops you from putting the book down. At the start of most chapters, Bill will explain a specific topic relating to nature, which he will continue monologuing about until you want to skip ahead. His arguments are always convincing, but I think he needs to know his limits.

Another factor worth noting is that Bryson never censors anything. Katz swears to the point that even Mrs. Wangensteen wouldn't read it aloud (Maybe). I find this somewhat strange, because unlike movies or comic books, the author doesn't need to use annoying bleeps or $*@^%$s: "Katz swore." Perhaps Bill just enjoys surprising the reader. Whatever the case, I find many statements in the book offensive, and I wish Bryson would be slightly more omitting.

Similarly, he goes into the most gruesome details of stories that he read, or simply something that Katz added. This goes to the point at which I will avoid providing an example to keep myself from feeling queazy, at the possible risk of Mr. Hatten docking points.

On a more positive note, Bill has a wonderful sense of humor. He is very witty, and he adds comic relief to moments that would otherwise be very depressing. Humor is definitely what sets this book aside from dozens of other hiking books, and what most likely won the title "New York Times Bestseller."

As reassuring as it is to know that this is non-fiction, I have a hard time picturing many of the events in the book occurring in real life. Examples of this are when Stephen Katz was chased by a "600 pound" man, when he and Bill got a ride stuffed in the back of a drunk couple's car, and when Katz stayed completely calm and casual during the night when a bear was staring in their direction. Although all of these occurrences are certainly possible, the events create an atmosphere similar to Seinfeld.

Overall, A Walk in the Woods is a very balanced and interesting book, and I look forward to continue reading it! I think that it is about to get more interesting, as Bryson just spotted the staring bear eyes that had been waiting on the cover up until now.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Week 3, Part 1

1) Bill and Katz were covered in mud, it was raining constantly, and they felt awful. They decided to go to Gatlinburg, which is a city near the Smokey Mountains. There they got clean and they ate good food, although it cost a lot. Bill gave many figures showing how everything in America is new and tacky.

While Katz was buying bootlaces, Bill saw a map of the AT. The map was four feet long, and they had only gone about two inches. Instead of getting upset, they felt happy; if the Appalachian Trail was really that long, they wouldn't need to walk the entire way.

Bill decided that they could skip to Virginia. They called a cab driver, and they rented a car, in which they drove to Virginia.

Throughout Chapter Nine, the author went on and on about all of the people who had walked the entire trail, ranging from an overweight person to a blind man.

2) According to, Bill Bryson was born on December 8, 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa. Starting in 1972, he hiked around Europe, first by himself and later with Stephen Katz (not his real name). He worked at a psychiatric hospital where he met and married a nurse named Cynthia.

He went to the United States to complete his college degree and then returned to England in 1977. He became the chief copy editor of the business section of The Times. His book Notes from a Small Island was voted as the book that best sums up the British identity. He has also written books on science and the English language.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Walk in the Woods: Chapters 5-7

Bill and Katz hitchhiked into town to get clean and to get rid of Mary Ellen, who was still being very annoying. When they were eating at the Georgia Mountain Restaurant, Katz made Bill feel guilty about ditching Mary, so they went back to the trail. However, when another hiker told them what she had said about them, they stopped feeling sorry for her and kept going.

Later, they ran into a blizzard, and they met up with two hikers named Jim and Heath. Before Bill and Katz were frozen solid, Jim and Heath gave them a ride in a truck to a campground to wait for the snow to stop. They ended up sleeping in a bunkhouse full of other smelly and wet hikers.

Bill goes into a lot of detail about how inefficient the National Park Service is with money. He obviously doesn't have a very high opinion of the NPS. "The National Park Service actually has something of a tradition of making things extinct" (131; ch. 7).

Later, it starts raining, and it doesn't stop for days. During the night, they were tormented by mice and rats.

Loaded words:

1. infinite: "... when we did get views it was of infinite hills covered in more trees" (83; ch. 5). It shows that the trail at the moment was somewhat maddening, and he didn't have anything to look forward to.

2. brainless: "And then of course there was the constant, prattling, awesomely brainless presence of Mary Ellen" (83; ch. 5). Bill was getting very annoyed with the company of Mary Ellen.

3. greasy: "... on a normal day I would not be laboring up a steep hill with a greasy, leaden Hardee's breakfast threatening at every moment to come up for air" (96; ch. 5). Although the meal tasted good at the time, everything seemed bad at the moment, including the breakfast.

4. wimps: "'She said you guys were a couple of overweight wimps...'" (98; ch. 5). Even though they had been worried about Mary Ellen (she had been hiking with them for awhile), she had a negative opinion of them.

5. tranquil: "... you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation..." (100; ch. 6). Things were starting to go well, and the word "tranquil" shows that he is at peace.

6. horrified: "... twice Katz made horrified, heartfelt, comic-book noises ('AIEEEEE!' and 'EEEARGH!') as his footing went..." (103; ch. 6). It shows how scary almost falling off a cliff was for Katz.

7. whooped: "... Katz spotted a white blaze twenty yards into the woods, and we whooped with joy" (107; ch. 6). Bill and Katz were very, very happy to finally be back on the trail.

8. refuge: "Still, if nothing else, it offered at least a sense of refuge" (107; ch. 6). It shows a great sense of protection, despite the fact that the shelter was filled with snow.

9. heaven: "Jim and Heath had some chocolate cake, which they shared with us (a treat beyond heaven)..." (109; ch. 6). It obviously wasn't actually better than heaven, but at the moment, Bill couldn't imagine anything better.

10. stunning: "But everywhere it was stunning. Every tree wore a thick cloak of white..." (109; ch. 6). The word "stunning" shows how nice the surroundings looked.

11. slog: "... but mostly to [Katz] hiking was a tiring, dirty, pointless slog between distantly spaced comfort zones" (123; ch. 7). Katz if finding hiking very dull and difficult.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Walk in the Woods: Chapters 1-4

So far, A Walk in the Woods seems to be an enjoyable book to read. The book is about Bill Bryson's experience on the Appalachian Trail.

He decided to go on the trail because he wanted to experience the wilderness before it disappeared, and because he didn't want to be considered a sissy.

Apparently, there is an infinite number of items needed to buy in order to go camping, or at least that is what Dave Mengle thought. Dave was a salesman who showed Bill Bryson around the store, and he helped him to pick out the "needed" equipment. To name a few, he bought "a three-season tent, self-inflating sleeping pad, nested pots and pans, collapsible eating utensils, plastic dish and cup, complicated pump-action water purifier, stuff sacks..." (14; ch. 1).

He certainly goes into detail with the amount of tragedies associated with the AT. "Nearly everyone I talked to had some gruesome story involving a guileless acquaintance who had gone off hiking the trail with high hopes and new boots and come stumbling back two days later with a bobcat attached to his head..." (5; ch. 1).

If you ask me, Bill ended up with the worst possible companion for his trip. His name is Stephen Katz. "He was limping a little and breathing harder than one ought to after a walk of twenty yards" (32; ch. 2). "'Yeah, I gotta eat something every hour or so or I have, whaddayacallit, seizures'" (32; ch. 2).

During their trip, Bill and Katz met some very interesting, including a strange woman named Mary Ellen, who irritates them to no end. To give a good example, "'say, is that a Hostess cupcake?' Before I could speak or Katz could seize a log with which to smite her dead, she said, 'Well, I don't mind if I do,' and ate it in two bites. It would be some days before Katz smiled again" (81; ch. 4).

Bill Bryson explains his introduction to camping and how he felt about it, usually in a humorous way. He shows how much there is to learn about hiking the "AT," which may help others if they were to start hiking themselves.

He seems to be worried about the environment. "If the global temperature rises by 4 degrees C over the next fifty years, as is evidently possible, the whole of the Appalachian wilderness below New England could become savanna" (5; ch. 1).

Although this book is nonfiction, the events are very abnormal, and by the way the story has unfolded so far, I can safely say that this book will be very enjoyable to read!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Imperfect Traces Left by Human Hands


2. T. Susan Chang

3. The Imperfect Traces Left by Human Hands

4. She believes that things should be simple instead of using advanced technology for everything.

5. Ex1: "Sometimes, my husband and I hold hands and scan the sky for constellations, roughly sketching the seasons as they pass overhead."

Ex2: But something was changing in me. As the world went digital and the Matrix movies played to packed houses, I found myself drawn to fountain pens, clothbound books and bargain-priced LPs.

6. Favorite passage: One night the fuses blew and my husband and I had to choose between light and music for our one remaining outlet. We opted for music and sat close together in the darkness as the worn out needle brought Art Pepper back from the dead, his saxophone weaving cracked tapestries of sound.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

For Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007

The thing I am most anxious about at Edina High School is getting to know the building. Valley View was only about half the size of this school, and I had a great deal of difficulty finding my classes on the first few days. I will most likely stick with using the map for awhile now.
One goal for myself in my sophomore year is to work faster on homework. I tend to spend hours on it, because I'm distracted easily. Hopefully, I can keep my head in my work, and I'll have much more free time! This assignment, of course, is a good example. I've already spent at least ten minutes on this post! I don't like to think about how I'm going to handle my homework when we get out of the "back to school" phase.