Archive | May 2018

Book Review: Killing Jesus

I finished Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, a few days ago.  I decided to read it because a friend was talking about having started it, and then the library happened to have it – which is frankly how I end up with a lot of the audio-books I listen to.  O’Reilly co-wrote the book with Martin Dugard.  I’m sure Dugard mostly wrote the book, but O’Reilly gets the big typeface.  After I finished it, my friend and I basically had the lamest book club session ever over text, consisting of, “Well, did you like it?”  “Yeah.  Did you?”  “Yeah, although it was a bit basic…” There wasn’t even any beer being consumed.

So, back to the book.  Like I said above, is well written but basic, covering the basics, but not going into too much detail on Jesus’ life and death.  O’Reilly states that the goal was to write from a historical perspective only, and on that point I think they do a pretty good job.  It does remain fairly neutral, explaining Jesus and his life without making a political or religious statement, and explaining Pontius Pilate and his role in Jesus’ conviction and crucifixion.  That said, since much of what is known about Jesus, comes from the gospels, you have to have some religious faith, otherwise, you probably don’t accept their history as truth.  Other characters in the history are only very cursorily mentioned, although there is a bit of detail on John the Baptist.  I did enjoy the end of the book, which discusses how the apostles spread the teachings of Jesus after his death and how Christianity was spread and gradually accepted around the world.  I do wish there were more detail.

I was interested the whole way through, and the writing style flowed well.  O’Reilly’s reading of the audio-book wasn’t so lucky – he stumbled through the reading at several points, and his mispronunciation of several words was a bit painful.

It’s worthwhile as quick basic read, but certainly won’t give you any scholarly depth on Jesus or Christianity.  Basically, it’s newsstand history – not a serious, in-depth, historical examination of the life of Jesus the Nazareth.  Read it for what it is.

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Cute Cora

This cutie hasn’t gotten much airtime since Oliver has been sick, but she should.  Because she is cute, and sweet.  And when I need a boost, she is always there, licking my arm…

My feisty Tortie girl – Coraline

Slowing Down…

This dear boy had a hard night the other night.  He wasn’t waiting at the door when I got home and I found him sleeping hard in a closet where he rarely goes.

He only ate a little dinner and then was in some pain, although he did settle down on my bed and slept peacefully all night.

It was a fretful night for me, but the next day he seemed better.

You can see how large his tumor has gotten in the photo.  It is the hump he sports on his right shoulder…  It is growing quickly, and I can only imagine it is infiltrating his heart and lungs.

Oliver’s Hump

Thankfully, he is usually doing well, purring and eating and thumping his little sister when he is tired of her bothering him.

I’ll take all the time I can get with him.

 

Vet’s Day Weekend 2017: Naval Museum

Day 2, Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thursday morning, I went over to Chick and Ruth’s Delly (yes, I spelled that the way they do) for breakfast.  I learned what scrapple is, and honestly it didn’t sound very appealing…  In case you don’t know, it is a Pennsylvania Dutch creation; a mush of pork scraps and other trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour and spices.  It is formed into a loaf, then sliced and fried.  So, I guess it is kind of like spam, which when I finally did try, I liked, so maybe I should have tried scrapple, but I didn’t…  I did have a delicious breakfast of eggs and sausage (without scrapple) and a fabulous mimosa for $2.99.

If you visit Chick and Ruth’s, you will undoubtedly notice that that there are bagels hanging from the ceiling… Why?  Well, the answer isn’t nearly as intriguing or mysterious as you might think…  According to an explanation on the wall, in the 1960s, the lights were pulled on and off using strings – but sometimes the strings would get caught up in the lights or on the pipes.  They weighted the strings with the bagels.  Of course, after a while, they became known for it, then throw in a scavenger hunt and pretty soon, the bagels stayed (although if you look, you will notice they aren’t actually hanging from the lights anymore)…  So there you have it…

The Delly – ignore the guy picking his teeth…

After breakfast, I wandered over to the Naval Academy to see the museum on the grounds.  This is a fascinating museum!

The U.S. Naval Academy Museum

The top floor of the museum had a whole bunch of models of historic ships, going back about 400 years.  These are beautiful models!

A model ship at the Naval Academy Museum

 

The stern of a model ship

The museum also has about two dozen models made almost entirely of bone.  These models were made by French POWs who were held in England during the Napoleonic Wars; they collected the bones from the meals that they ate as prisoners.  They vary in size, as well as the level of detail in each particular model – some are extremely elaborate!  They are really beautiful too.

The first floor of the museum gives a fairly complete history of the Navy.  There are exhibits on how the Navy was established, the activities and campaigns that Naval units have participated in, life in the service, and various significant figures in Naval history.  They have artifacts that range from class rings to sabers, historic flags, items possessed by Naval officers, and pieces of significant ships throughout history.  It is a really good museum, and I spent quite a while there taking it all in.

Naval Swords and Dirks

 

A stabilized Naval Banner from the 1700s

After the museum, I got a late lunch at a sushi restaurant and wandered around downtown a bit.  And I took a nap!

My sushi lunch!

That evening, I went to a play called 33 Variations, that was being put on by The Colonial Players, the local Annapolis community theater.  The play was about a woman who was researching Beethoven for a book.  The topic was the 33 variations that Beethoven wrote in response to Diabelli’s request to write a variation of his waltz.  Diabelli was a well-known composer and music publisher who sent a request to several Austrian composers, asking them to each to submit a variation on the waltz he had written, which he was going to compile into a book to publish.  In case you were wondering, this part is all true, historically…

The woman in the play examines the reasons why Beethoven wrote the variations, and the emotions they evoke.  She becomes obsessed with the project and begins frantically working on it, even as her body is shutting down due to the effects of ALS.  The play draws parallels between this woman’s frantic struggle to finish her life’s work in the face of her terminal illness, and Beethoven’s obsession with composing before total deafness takes his hearing.  The parallel theme in the play is the woman’s relationship with her daughter, with whom she has a strained relationship.  They both try to come to terms with their relationship as the woman’s death becomes more imminent and her body shuts down.

As with many community theaters, the set design was bare bones – they switched out the stage in the middle of the round theater several times.  They did a great job with it!  The play was very powerful and moving – the pianist evoked quite a bit of emotion with his playing of the variations throughout the play.  I certainly had tears in my eyes a couple of times.

The play wrapped up a little after 11 and I walked down to a pub that was still open for a late dinner/snack.  I had an appetizer of crab balls and a Tröeg’s Harvest Ale, a hoppy ale with hints of citrus; both were delicious!  I talked to the bartender a bit about the area, as well as Washington D.C.  It was a fantastic day!

Crab Balls and Beer – yum!

Snapping Turtle

I heard it was World Turtle Day! This guy seems fitting. #WorldTurtleDay

Wine and History Visited

I was looking through photos today and came upon this one of a snapping turtle at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. He was so covered with algae in the water it was hard to pick him out from the branches and logs. That was a good day.

A partially submerged snapping turtle

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Book Review: West with the Night

I had never heard of Beryl Markham before, so when this audio-book popped up on the library website, I was intrigued.  Markham was the first female to do a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean from East to West – this flight was much harder than the other direction due to the strong headwinds.  She accomplished this feat on September 4, 1936, at the age of 31.

Markham’s life was amazing in many other ways.  Born in England, her family moved to Kenya when she was four years old, and she spent her childhood among lions and other African wildlife, hunting boar, and riding the racehorses her father trained.

As an adult, she moved into her father’s occupation of racehorse training, and became a celebrated trainer in Kenya.  She also learned to fly planes, and became the first female bush pilot in Africa, flying scouting missions for hunting parties as well as providing transportation around a country with few usable roads.

The book was published in 1942, and is a memoir of her life, from early childhood through her amazing solo flight.  Her writing evokes the images of life in rural Africa; you feel as if you are actually in that plane with her, looking down on the elephants and zebra below.  Her character development is superb – the cast from her life was a unique and motley crew.

Markham is a fantastic writer, but I do wish that she had spent a little more time on her Trans-Atlantic flight.  It is really only given a little bit of time at the very end of the book.  Beyond that, my only gripe would be that the audio-book reader had a bit of a monotone reading voice, which was a distraction at first.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, learning about a strong woman and an important historical figure.  She broke barriers in a world that didn’t give women a lot of chances to do amazing things; she single-handedly did several.

If you have a chance to read it, I hope you will.  If you have already, please let me know what you thought!