Thursday, February 27, 2014

February Reading

Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World (2009 Granta Books) by Barbara Ehrenreich

I reserved this book at the library after hearing Ehrenreich interviewed by Kim Hill on National Radio'sSaturday Morning programme.

Ehrenreich came up with the idea for this book after being diagnosed with breast cancer and finding herself engulfed by insistence on cheerfulness, positive thinking, and on denying any and all 'negative' feelings such as fear or anger.

She explores the way positive thinking has become virtually a new religion. The rise of positive and magical thinking in all its guises - The Secret, Law of Attraction, Norman Vincent Peale, personal coaching, corporate coaching - is explored, along with its origin in the rejection of the dour, fear-filled  Calvinism and protestantism that defined past generations of America.
Ehrenreich  examines the science of positive thinking and finds it wanting - there is, for example, some data which shows positive thinking can enhance your immune response to a cold, but none that shows an effect on cancer, despite all the hype.

She has chapters which deal with the way positive thinking has taken over cancer support, churches, business, psychology, and even led to the destruction of the economy in 2008.

She sums up by saying that she is not proposing negative thinking, but realistic thinking, based on science, logic, and indeed, common sense (which in my opinion is not actually very common.)

A quote from the book: It's true that subjective factors like determination are critical to survival and that individuals sometimes triumph over nightmarish levels of adversity. But mind does not automatically prevail over matter, and to ignore the role of difficult circumstances - or worse, attribute them to our own thoughts - is to slide toward the kind of depraved smugness Rhonda Byrne expressed when confronted with the tsunami of 2006. Citing the law of attraction, she stated that disasters like tsunamis can happen only to people who are "on the same frequency as the event."

And a recommendation from Christopher Hitchens from the back cover : Unless you keep on saying that you believe in fairies, Tinker Bell will check out, and what's more, her sad demise will be your fault! Barbara Ehrenreich scores again for the independent-minded in resisting this drool and all those who wallow in it."

I highly recommend this book, which I did not find at all negative, but rather, a relief. Have a listen to the podcast linked above too.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Honey Extraction Day

Waitangi Day was hot, sticky and delicious. Mac, Greg, Simon, Ti'ana and I extracted 38.4kg of honey.

First Greg and I took the honey boxes off the hives.

 Then the frames have to be uncapped.

The honey is spun out of the frames using centrifugal force.
 The honey is drained from the extractor through a tap at the bottom, and strained through cotton cloth into buckets.  (Simon actually did do some work - as did Mac - but we don't seem to have any photos to prove it.)
Despite appearances, I was actually pouring the honey into glass jars, not into the tadpole tank.
 And honey!
Then clean up - the yummiest time of the day!
A job well done - thanks Simon, Greg and Ti'ana.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Summer Days

It's been a very busy summer. As always, there is masses to do around the place with gardens (caring for them and dealing with the produce), building things, fixing things, making things.

With Mac no longer working, I have to find an alternate way of selling surplus eggs: I thought I found one, but that has proved unreliable, so I'm going to have to look for other local customers - except the chooks have decided the weather's too hot, and they are starting to moult and go off the lay.

I made lots of books, a few Valentine's Day cards and water bottle holders and had a stall for three successive monthly Raglan Creative Markets: I broke even at far as costs go, but I need to make more than costs, and discovered that I really don't like sitting being friendly to people all day. Especially not to the one who wouldn't let his wife buy a water bottle carrier, but waited until I left my table for a minute and rushed back in and snapped a couple of quick photos and rushed out again! I was gob-smacked! I feel sorry for his wife who just wanted something pretty and who was no doubt going to be told to make it herself.

We haven't had a holiday but did have Greg, Maggie and the kids here for most of a week, which was lovely, and then we had Ti'ana and Ethan for a few days the following week. It was great having Mac here as well, as there was always someone to do things with them. We gorged on Lord of the Rings, watching all three movies together.

We went bush.

 The newly revived Rabbit motor scooter was ridden.

I went to the library and came home with a book and about 20 tadpoles. As you do.

 The play house was restored.

 A ladder was made for the tree hut in the bush.

Ethan supervised Mac as he started to convert the old concrete water tank into a wood shed. And now we have the hard job of chopping down, and cutting up (what a strange language!) trees to fill it.

 We went for a play on the beach at Ruapuke.

At the end of the day, life is pretty good.