Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Striking Thoughts - Part 1

Did you know that Bruce Lee, the famous Gung Fu and Jeet Kune Do Master, was also a philosopher? I didn’t except in the most general sense. I know quite a bit about martial arts for someone who’s never practiced them (although I’ve always wanted to) and one thing I know is that most forms of martial arts have accompanying philosophies. Sometimes they can be vastly different, but some concepts, like Honor, tend to be a part of all of them. Knowing this, I could have easily guessed that Bruce Lee had been something of a philosopher, but what I didn’t know is that he actually studied as a Philosophy Major at the University of Washington (my home state!).

One thing that makes Bruce Lee’s view on philosophy different is that he studied many different cultures and their ways of thought. He sought to find the truth with an open mind, and as a result, his words are a conglomerate of concepts from all over the world, but I’ll get more into that later.

“Why,” you may ask, “are you sharing all this with us?” Well, like said, I’ve always had an interest in martial arts. I didn’t get involved in them when I was younger initially because of health problems, and then because I was too busy, and then the health problems got really bad again. However, my former roommate is a black belt, and she shared a lot of her knowledge (not fighting techniques, but the philosophy they were taught) with me. My youngest brother has also always been interested in martial arts (and knows some) and he’s taught me a few things about protecting myself. He’s also the one who was telling me about a book he had just read, “Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living.” It caught my interest, and next thing I knew I was borrowing it from him!

As I write this I’ve only read a small portion of the book so far. Two introductions that talked a lot about Bruce Lee’s life as both a martial artist and philosopher, and then a little bit of the first section, “Part One, On First Principles: Life.” I’ve studied some philosophy, theology, and comparative religions so I’m finding this fascinating. I’ve always loved examining different ways of thought, and as I’m reading it I find myself taking it bit by bit and processing it. My parents taught me at an early age to think through the meanings of things and not just to accept them at face value. So that’s why I’m doing with this book. I’m evaluating what he says against what I believe to be true, and I’m also simply absorbing information about other cultural points of view.

I’ll be writing more as I read more of this book. I’d like to share with you, my readers, some of my thoughts as I go through it. My plan is to share the occasional snippet of Bruce Lee’s philosophy, and then my thoughts and reflections on it. Hopefully this will give you things to think about as well! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing ADD #20

I've gotten an amazing amount of writing done this week! The only thing I can say is ... drugs can be good sometimes :P Seriously, I've been having to be drugged up almost constantly for my migraines, which I hate, but I've been able to think pretty clearly so I've gotten a lot done anyway!

Week's Total:
Book Reviews: 3
Striking Thoughts: In progress
Cooking Adventures: Posted
Letter's Home: Posted
Dalia's Story: In progress
Total Words: 4381

"Striking Thoughts" is a book about the philosophy of Bruce Lee. I'm writing some of my own thoughts and reactions in response to what I read. I have two posts worth written up right now and I plan on posting one a week from now until....whenever :P

Cooking Adventures and Letter's Home 4 are both posted so I won't talk about them here - just suggest you go read them if you haven't already! I also started a blog yesterday for Aria's Quest so that it'll all be in one place instead of spread out across this blog. So go check it out and if you missed the beginning now's your chance to start! 

Dalia's Story is one that I've had floating around in my head for awhile now. I plan on doing a series of stories themed around the various elements and this one is based on the element of Water. It's going pretty good so far, although I think it's going to be too long to post on the blog. So I'll probably post a short "snapshot" of the story on here when ever it's done and then e-mail it out to people.

What's on the agenda for this week? More book reviews, movie and tv reviews, Striking Thoughts, more with Illia and with Dalia, and who knows what else! 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand by Gail Carson Levine

Illustrated by David Christiana

"Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand," is a bit different from Gail Carson Levine's other works. It's still a fantastic story, and it still full of magic, but this particular story has been authorized by Disney, and has a character that we all know and love, Tinker Bell. We also see Peter Pan appear, and of course Neverland itself.

Our story starts because Rani, a fairy who was not blessed with wings at birth, had promised Soop, a mermaid, a fairy wand in exchange for a magical item that was needed to save a life. The only problem is that the fairies of Neverland are not wand fairies, and to fulfill her promise Rani would have to travel to the land of the Great Wandies to ask for a wand. This is something Mother Dove will not allow her to do.

Soop reacts in anger instead of understanding when Rani tries to explain that she is being prevented from fulfilling her promise. In fact she decides to curse Fairy Haven with a flood that will surely drown all the fairies, and her great wrath she will not listen to a word Rani has to say. Desperate, Rani hurries back to the Fairy Haven and reports her dreadful news.

Reluctantly Mother Dove is forced to allow an expedition to the Great Wandies, for there is no other way to save their home. She worries about her fairies though, she knows that wand madness is a dreadful thing, and she fears what it will do to the travelers. Tinker Bell is among those travelers, and all of them think they are above the wand madness that Mother Dove warns of.

Wand Madness is an insidious thing however. Think on it, if you had the power to change whatever you wanted, wouldn't you be tempted? The only problem is that our wishes can often have unforeseen consequences, as our fairies quickly learn. The pages of this book are filled with beautiful illustrations as we watch our fairies learn about wands, wand madness, and how to come together to save the land they love.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shadow Gate by Kate Elliot

"Shadow Gate" is the sweeping epic sequel to "Spirit Gate," by Kate Elliott. As we entire this book the land of the Hundred is still in great turmoil, and in this book we explore why. As it says on the book jacket, "Guardians can't die. They can kill, but they can't be killed. Now there is a recipe for corruption."

Of course, most of the people in the hundred would tell you that not only are the Guardians above corruption, but that they've been gone for a long time. While its true that they haven't been around, the Guardians are anything but gone, and anything but uncorrectable. In fact we learn that there is a war going on between the corrupt Guardians, and those who are trying to hold out for what is right.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is that she brought back the character of Marit. I really liked Marit, and then Elliott killed her off not far into the last book. However, Marit didn't fully die, she became a Guardian. How and why a person becomes a Guardian is still unclear, but the different Guardian's out there each have a special cloak, and it does occasionally pass from one Guardian to a new one.

Marit struggles with her new role as a Guardian. What does it mean? What is going on in the land of the Hundred? Who can she trust? What exactly is a Guardian?

One thing I didn't like about this book is that there was a section of the book that I ended up skimming because it went into to much detail about the abuse that one of the main characters suffered. I understand that it was an integral part of her story, but I could have done with a little bit less detail. Especially the sexual abuses suffered.

Having said that, this is a complex and riveting book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next one!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Writing ADD #19


I did amazingly well writing-wise this last week considering I spent most of the week either in doctors offices or flat on my back from migraines! Part of that was that there were several times that I could think clearly as long as I was lying down, so I took my hubbies net book, laid down on the couch, propped it up on my knees, and did a wee bit of writing :P So here's the summary for the week:

Week's Total:
Book Reviews: 6
Tv Review: In progress
Letter's Home 4: In progress
Total Words: 2907

The TV Review is my thoughts and memories about Star Trek Voyager: Season 1. I'm re-watching it right now and I started my review before I finished it because I had thoughts running through my head that I didn't want to lose! I'm actually not sure I'll add much more, but I want to finish the season out and make sure of that before I post it.

My latest Letter's Home from Illia to her Mum actually should be finished, only I deleted the file on accident. Oops >_> So it's been written once, which will make writing it again much easier, but I have to do that before I can put it up on the blog! Maybe I'll get that done today. We'll see.

Speaking of Illia, the avatar at the top is what I use for my character in the D&D game (we play on-line). She's a half-elf/half-human bard. I love the character I've put together for her!

I'm hoping this week will go better than last week so I can get something done other than writing, but I also have a lot of writing simmering in my brain that I want to get to as well! Lots of books to review still, stories, TV stuff, movies... We'll see what I have for you this next week :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Emerald City of Oz by L. Frank Baum

"The Emerald City of Oz" continues the Oz story, and is actually one of the books I remember reading before! I know one point (middle school age?) I decided to read the Oz books, but I didn't go about it systematically reading them in order like I am right now. I just pulled them off the shelf and read whatever I found. So, now, as I'm rereading the series from start to finish I'm finding some books that are brand new to me, and some that are revisits, from a new perspective.

Do you remember the Nome King? We first met him in "Ozma of Oz" when Dorothy found herself in the land of Ev, and ended up saving many lives and taking the Nome King's magic belt. Ozma now owns the Magic Belt, and both her and Dorothy have almost completely forgotten about the Nome King, but he has not forgotten them. The Magic Belt was the base of his power, and in his great anger, he wants it back.

Now Guph, one of the Nome Kings oldest Nomes, heads out on the behalf of the King to form alliances with some of their terrible neighbors in hopes of over taking Oz. The people he visits are terrible and strange, and each group separately agrees to help the Nomes, while secretly planning on betraying them in the end. Their evil, what else would you expect?

Meanwhile Dorothy, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry are all traveling to Oz! Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were about to lose the farm, and instead of allowing them all to descend into abject poverty, Dorothy decides to appeal to her dear friend Ozma to allow them to move to Oz. Ozma is delighted to agree, and before they know what's happening, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry find themselves in the castle in Oz. It's quite the adjustment for these poor farmers, but they slowly begin to acclimate.

Ozma sends her friends off to explore Oz, and we get to meet many more strange creatures while they tour Oz. It seems the land of Oz is ever full of surprising new creatures and lands! As they explore the Nome King is drawing ever closer in his attack on Oz, but don't worry, Dorothy and her friends turn out to have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Hooray! I woke up today with out a migraine! Do you have any idea how incredible it is when that happens? I think this IV treatment is actually working :) The frustrating part is that knowing my body I'll probably end up with more migraines at some point and need to do more IV's, but if it stops the pain, I can deal with that!

I did end up with this seriously gnarly bruise from one of my IV treatments! It actually didn't hurt that much, I know it looks like it would have, but it didn't :P

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Life - The Grand Adventure

It's been awhile since I've done a good update on this blog about what's been going on with me. Heck, it's been a long time since I've blogged consistently period! I know that's left a lot of my friends wondering what's going on, so I decided it's time to update! Plus I have some good news to share, so that always makes it easier to give an update :P

The reason I've been awol alot that my migraines got really bad again. I've done a LOT of sleeping and a LOT of reading on the couch. It's been really frustrating and I was getting pretty depressed about it. It's overwhelming when you can barely get the day to day stuff done, like cooking and dishes, and there's no hope of doing anything fun, like going out with the girls!

Well I saw my neurologist last week. I didn't really have much hope going into because I'm on so many meds for my migraines already, and we've eliminated a lot of foods as well. The doctor totally shocked me though!

Apparently there's an IV therapy that you can do to stop the migraine cycles. She said my previous neurologist probablty would have done it, but he didn't have access to an IV center (called a infusion clinic) so he couldn't really. You can do the treatments via shots, but it's pretty painful so that's not a good option.

So we started the treatment last week. She said it might take several visits to get this current cycle of migraines stopped, but the good news that any time I have a migraine that lasts for two days or more, I can go in for an IV to stop things before I get stuck in another cycle of helplessness.

I'm really excited about this. The drugs aren't fun, but the possibility of being functional on a regular basis is incredible. I nearly started crying in the doctors office! And that was before they gave me the drugs.

The drugs I'm getting are a cocktail of a migraine med to stop the migraine, a pain med (narcotic) to help with the pain and to keep my blood pressure from spiking, anti-nausea because the other drugs trigger that problem (I got SUPER dizzy and could barely sit up with out my stomach heaving), magnesium, and an anti-seizure med (it works for migraines too). I had to do the shots last week because they didn't have an opening in the infusion clinic. That was fun - not. LOL. Because they gave me two shots of everything but the valium I ended up with four shots in my arm and three in my hips. Fortunately the two treatments I've done since then have been IV's. Much less painful!

Now I called my life a grand adventure right? Well the massive dose of drugs wasn't the end of the story! On Wednesday (so the shot day) I also had an appointment with my natural doc out in Beaverton. I slept in the car on the way over, and then I slept through most of my appointment while she did some massage and pressure point stuff. Then, we're on the way home and I'm half asleep again (do you blame me with both narcotics and valium in my system?), and we get stopped right off the I5 bridge because the bridge is up. We were laughing about yet another thing happening you know? Gordon turned the car off to save gas (we were there for about 15 mins) and I dozed off.

Well the bridge went up and traffic finally started to move, and we went to start the car, and nothing. We're pretty sure the alternator is dead. So there we were, I'm barely coherent, we're in the fast lane, and the car is completely dead.

I hopped out and went to the drivers side. Fortunately Gordon has a small car (a Rav). He got in back to push and I pushed a little from the front. The guy behind us (driving a delivery van) jumped out to help push, which I was praising God for because with my back problems there really wasn't much I could do to help with the pushing.

We got off to the side of the road just fine and Dad came and picked us up. He has a tow bar (he used to have a towing business) so we were able to tow the car right away. Getting me out of the car (in traffic) and into the truck was interesting. I could hardly walk in a straight line! After my Dad and brothers got the car hooked up the boys jumped in the back of the truck (where their butts got soaked) and we took off.

It was a crazy day.

But wait! The fun doesn't stop! I'm going to be getting a colonoscopy and an endoscopy tomorrow. I've been having some intestinal issues (I won't give you the nasty details) and we're trying to determine the cause. So I'm on a liquid diet today. Oh yah - let the good times roll...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing ADD #18

You know, migraines are evil, and they keep preventing me from blogging and writing! *sigh* Oh well. We've got me trying a new treatment (I'll try and blog about it tomorrow) so hopefully life (and writing!) will get better!

In the last few weeks I've done a smattering of writing. 7 book reviews. A "Letter Home" from Illia to her Mum. And I started a new story! I don't have a title for it yet, but it's coming along well. It's about a young, abused girl, who will be saved (I haven't figured out how yet) by a water spirit. I'll let you guys know when it's done!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

In "Arrows of the Queen" we meet Talia, a young girl who's never really fit in with the rest of her family. Her brother had taught her to read (a shocking occupation for a woman) and she dreamed of becoming a Herald, even though she knew that would never happen. Then, one day, her father's wives gathered together and informed Talia that it was time for her to marry, and to their great shock, Talia refused! She ran from the room crying, knowing she'd eventually have to give in, but aching in her heart for something more.

That's when she meets Rolan. Rolan is a Companion. Companions look very similar to horses, but they are so much more! Companions are magical beings that form a tight bond with their Heralds. The Heralds do not simply choose their occupation, a companion must choose and accept them in order for them to become a Herald.

Talia, growing up in the Holdings, was never really taught anything about how Heralds were chosen. The only thing she knows about these wonderful people is what little she's been able to glean from the few books she's had access too. So when Rolan chooses her, she doesn't really know what's going on! She thinks she's found a Companion that's on his own, and needs to be returned to the Collegium. She soon realizes that there is more going on than she realizes though, and that perhaps she isn't returning the Companion, but he instead is bringing her.

All the Collegium Talia's greatest dreams are realized, and she faces much greater hardships than she had imagined as well. Rolan, the Companion that choose her, is the Companion for the Queen's Own. This means that not only is Talia the Herald she always longed to be, but she is the Herald who's charged with supporting and assisting the Queen!

I really enjoyed this book. I had avoided reading Mercedes Lackey's books because I saw so many of them on the shelves in paperbacks that I kind of assumed that she was one of those "trashy fantasy writers" who's work would be subpar because she simply cranks it out. When one of my friends told me that she loved Lackey's work, I decided to give her a try, and I was pleasantly surprised! The story drew me in and captivated me, and I look forward to seeing more of this world, and the stories contained with in it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles de Lint

"Tapping the Dream Tree" is a compilation of stories by Charles de Lint set in and around Newford. Newford is a town, somewhere in North America, that de Lint created and populated years ago. While he does write fantasy in other locations and stories that are entirely unrelated, he is known for coming back to Newford and developing the characters there that he loves so much.

I have read quite a few of de Lints books set in Newford, so I always enjoy reading a new one (new to me at least), and getting to know more about these characters I love so much! One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was learning some more of the connections between characters, and finding out more of the back story on other characters. I completely enjoyed the entire book, but as usual, there were a few stories that stick out in my memory.

"The Words that Remain" is a haunting ghost story staring Christy Riddell. I've always identified with Christy's character in that he is both a writer, and a believer in the fantastic (although I don't take it anywhere near as seriously as he does). As such, he often uncovers interesting stories because he's both open to them, and because people bring them to him knowing he is a writer and collects these stories. The story he collects this time is about a ghost in the hotel he's staying in while at a writers conference.

"Masking Indian" fascinated me because it combines the fantastic and ghostly, and crafting! Anything that involves creativity and art catches my eye. This story tells of loss and healing in a beautiful way.

"Pixel Pixies" goes back and tells the beginning of the friendship between two of my favorite characters, Holly the book store owner, and Dick, the Hob who eventually becomes her business partner. Holly isn't usually one of de Lints main characters, but she pops up a lot in talking about the Word Wood and other characters often visit her briefly for advice or when doing research. I've always thought it would be fun to own a bookstore, so I think I live a little vicariously through her whenever she pops up in a story!

"Seven Wild Sisters" is the lasts story in the book, and it's a short novel in its own right since it takes up the last 240 some pages of this book! Many of the characters are familiar, the sisters mentioned show up in a variety of his other stories, but the reason I loved it is that it concludes the tale of Lily. Lily is now an old woman, but when we first meet her in "A Circle of Cats," she's a young girl. This is the third story I know of with her in it, and it fascinates me to see how de Lint develops her character over the course of her life! The magic and mystery in the story are quite compelling as well.