Saturday, February 21, 2009

Anniversary Sale, through Feb. 28th

I've got 2 things to celebrate, so I've marked down books and CDs in the Practically Shameless Press online store by 20% to 52%!

One year ago -- on Monday, February 18, 2008 -- my book about Shadow Work, Practically Shameless, reached the #1 spot on Amazon.com's Bestseller list of books about Jungian psychology. (It also appeared on Bestseller lists in three other categories.)

Reaching the #1 spot was made possible by purchases by people like you, who have supported the Press from the very beginning. Thank you again!!

That appearance at #1 also laid the foundation for the book's appearance on that Bestseller list for 52 weeks since then.

Let me repeat that --

As of February 18, 2009, Practically Shameless has been on Amazon.com's Bestseller list of books about Jungian psychology for 52 weeks!

To see the sale items, please visit the Practically Shameless Press online store.

And let me say in addition --

The Tombstone Process CD can literally change your life in a matter of hours. It's a gentle, effective, and deeply touching emotional process you can do on your own at home, to let go of a painful dynamic that has been your unconscious way of loving somebody. I've used it myself multiple times, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

The Clean Talk CD can change the way you communicate so that you avoid and resolve conflict, get your point across more effectively and get more of what you want from the conversation. It teaches you to use Clean Talk, the way we communicate in Shadow Work when there is conflict or strong emotion present.

The Shadow Work Basics CD can teach you about yourself and about the four archetypal energies in you.

Practically Shameless, in paperback and on audio CD, is a personal story of transformation that explains Jung's psychology from the inside out.

And by the way, the 2nd thing I'm celebrating is the 2nd printing, which arrived on Thursday. The Press offices are full of boxes of books. Yes!!!

Rowling redeems herself

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Thursday night, and I'm very happy with and relieved by the book's ending.

I delayed reading this last of the Potter series because I was so afraid author J.K. Rowling would continue to villainize Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy to the bitter end, which would have tainted my whole experience of the series, which has given me a great deal of reading and movie-watching pleasure.

I don't remember when I started to want Snape to be discovered to be a secret good guy for whom readers could finally feel some compassion, but it was at least several volumes ago, and it built up to the point that I was really concerned about how the series would end. But I'm enormously glad that Rowling has redeemed herself. I enjoyed the ending so much that I reread the last five chapters last night.

It struck me as I finished reading that the villains in the book all gradually faded in intensity, so that the Malfoy family and even Voldemort himself by the end are almost impotent.

The only other thing I want to say at this point is that Rowling's tradition of structuring each of the books in the series so that its plot takes place over the course of an academic year has rarely proved more tedious than in this final book. As in almost every previous book (the notable exception being the 4th book, ...Goblet of Fire), this tradition requires long stretches in which not much is happening in order to allow the "middle" school months to pass. The same plan has also encouraged Rowling to introduce annoying subplots such as Hermione's fight for justice for house elves and Hagrid's attempts at lovemaking, none of which gets resolved. It's stunning how little action happens over a period of months and how much is crammed into a matter of hours at the story's end in a smash-'em-up battle scene worthy almost of Peter Jackson.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

W's library

Got this from a friend.

Dear Fellow Constituent:

The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations. The Library will include:

The Hurricane Katrina Room , which is still under construction.

The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.

The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.

The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.

The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.

The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.

The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.

The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.

The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)

The Dick Cheney Room, in an undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.

The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.

The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.

The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY!

Sincerely, Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair
Robert A.M. Stern, Architect
G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2nd printing arrives tomorrow

Tomorrow between noon and 2 pm, the 2nd printing of Practically Shameless arrives in 25 cartons. I am psyched! Can't wait.

Yow -- Didn't know comments needed moderating!

I just discovered that 5 comments were awaiting my moderation -- I had no idea!

Commenters, I'm so sorry for the delay. I've changed the appropriate setting (I hope correctly) that will notify me immediately when someone comments.

And thanks for commenting!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Having time to read

I've been working as a nighttime caregiver for the past two weeks, and it's given me more time for reading than I've had for a very long time. So, this week, I've read two books and am halfway through a third.

I get quickly frustrated when I go to write about the books I've read, however. I generally expect myself to know how to do anything I want to do, it's a significant shadow of mine. And so I expect myself to know how to write a good book review, and I really don't. I knew how at one time, and in order to get good at it again, I'd need to get into the habit of reading well-written book reviews as I used to.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is a book that came highly recommended by several people, and I enjoyed it enough to consider reading it a second time. It's about the World Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago (called Columbian because it was a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New World). It was what we today would call a world's fair, and a significant event in the life both of Chicago and of the United States at the time. The planners, who included Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, wanted to outdo the Paris Exposition of several years earlier and wanted to show Europe that America could hold its own in culture and magnificence.

The devil to which the title refers is the subject of the book's other primary story, of America's first documented serial killer, a man who used the name H.H. Holmes, who killed between 10 and 230 people during the same period of time as the Exposition, some of them visitors to Chicago for the fair. It's uncertain how many people he managed to kill because, as amazing as it sounds, he had his own crematorium as well a lime pit in the basement in which he could dissolve the bodies of his victims. One of the most stunning things about Larson's story is that so many people who encountered Holmes and fulfilled his bizarre construction plans for a crematorium and torture chambers never thought to question why he wanted them.

Larson's style is enjoyable, full of factual detail and a degree of suspense without resorting to the kind of hypnotic obsessiveness that makes The DaVinci Code a spellbinding page-turner, and that's a good thing. I won't qualify this review as a rave because I think the book suffers badly from a lack of photos and useful maps. As Larson talks about the design and construction of each of the Exposition's buildings and features, it would have been most helpful to have a map to follow, and the lack of photos was really puzzling. (I was able to find a slideshow of photos of the Exposition online today here, which was very satisfying.) The Exposition site was huge and complex, and even after looking at the photos it's hard to grasp how the pieces fit together. A map, a map, my kingdom for a map!

Next, I read Marley and Me, a copy of which I found on a bookshelf at the facility where I'm caregiving. I'd heard some reference to it recently, possibly about it being made into a movie, so I picked it up even though I'm not a "dog person" and haven't read very many pet stories, with the exception of James Herriot's books. I enjoyed Marley and Me very much, and in some ways even more than Herriot's work because author John Grogan doesn't manipulate or skew the plot of each episode in his relationship with Marley in order to maximize suspense or sentiment. There are times when a Herriot story begins to strain credibility, and Grogan's style is by contrast so candid that it's entirely believable. There are a few really touching moments in the book, too, which brought tears to my eyes.

I'm halfway through True Believer by Nicholas Sparks, which I'm feeling a bit guilty about reading. I loved the movie The Notebook, based on another of his books, but was appalled at the style when I tried to read the novel and gave it up. The style of this one is less annoying but the characters are pretty shallow and they don't act in a very consistent way. It's an unabashed romance, though, and I haven't read a regular romance in a long time, and it's fun, lightweight reading.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Republican Party desperately seeking identity

Everything I've seen coming from Republicans in past weeks has convinced me that the GOP is having an identity crisis after its thrashing in November and is trying to use opposition to the stimulus package as a way to recreate identity and bond with each other in crisis.

The other thing that's clear is that they've got nothing to gain by joining hands with Obama, and they have much to gain by opposing. If Obama can change that, it might help get them on board.

If they oppose and the stimulus plan goes well, they can say they were trying to shape an even better plan, and that if their ideas had been included, the plan would've worked even better. And since there'd be no way to prove them wrong, it might persuade some people.

If they oppose and the stimulus plan doesn't go well, they can blame it on Obama's refusal to include their ideas.

Caregiving, the night shift

It's been a while since I blogged, mostly because I've been working nights on a caregiving assignment, and the change in schedule is somewhat disorienting.

The woman I'm caring for is in her mid-90s and quite frail. She lives in an assisted living facility where help is available during the day and at night only for emergencies. She's very fearful of being alone, so I stay with her when needed, and help her get to sleep, and accompany her on visits to the bathroom so that she doesn't have to worry about falling.

She apparently lived alone until quite recently, and I'm impressed. She's 10+ years older than my own mother and has stayed healthier longer. Then she fell and now has painful arthritis in her legs, which increases her fear of falling.

I've enjoyed caring for my own mother, despite the emotional challenges, and I enjoy caring for this woman as well. I particularly enjoy holding her hand to calm her while she goes to sleep.

The first night, I tried to get some sleep while caring for her, but she was up so many times during the night that it didn't work well, and by the end I was desperate and headache-y the whole next day. So I started switching my schedule to be awake during the night. My biggest concern is loneliness. During the night when I'm there, I'm the only person who's awake.

I'm still playing around with my schedule to see what works best. I thought originally that I'd shift my schedule roughly 12 hours. But I think now it will work better if I spend some of my afternoon and evening hours at home, which means I can still take a coaching client and be free evenings to go to social events or political meetings.

There's no way to know how long this caregiving assignment will last. It's been dawning on me that caregiving an elderly patient is always going to be unpredictable because it's based on the medical condition of an elderly person in ill health. That unpredictability is certainly a disadvantage, but there are many advantages, including the opportunity to demonstrate simple compassion.