The Curious Autodidact

January 26, 2011

Sargent Shriver: Rest in Peace

Filed under: end of life,social justice — Honilima @ 10:53 am

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. died last week. He was an activist and a diplomat and perhaps most thought of as the man who started the Peace Corps and served as the head from 1960-1966. Did you know he also started the Jobs Corps and Head Start? He served as ambassador in France in the late 1960s, he was married to Eunice Kennedy and was as a result an active part of the Kennedy clan. He was the president of the board of directors of the Special Olympics an organization founded by his wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Sarg was an active attorney specializing in international law and foreign affairs. He was later in life disabled by cognitive impairment, his daughter Maria Shriver wrote a book about Alzheimer’s called What’s Happening to Grandpa? for children.

Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 139 countries. There is no way to discount the influence this had on how many lives in America and oversees. If you want a good read, here is a list of books by former Peace Corps volunteers, I’d recommend you start with Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen about Equador, and then read Under the Neem Tree by Susan Lowerre about her experiences in Senegal.

Thank you Sarg for everything you did, to make our country better, and for touching so many lives internationally.


January 22, 2011

Reynolds Price: An Author of Great Merit

Filed under: book related,Word Related — Honilima @ 8:39 pm

Reynolds Price

When I heard the news on Thursday that Reynolds Price had died, at age 77, of a heart attack, I reacted with feelings of deep loss.

I thought of my friend Susan, who was herself from the South, who worshiped his writing, but never wrote to tell him so no matter how often I urged her to do so. She died some stretch back and I began to parcel out reading this various novels, plays, memoirs, poems, diaries, and nonfiction for years after. He wrote over 35 books and many are still in print no small feat in today’s world of publishing.

I love this story telling ability and his richly told family sagas. When it came out, in 1994, I read “A Whole New Life,” his memoir of his spinal cancer and of his life afterward, confined to a wheelchair. He remained a brilliant author and was a professor at Duke University for fifty years. According to the article in the Charlotte Observer, “He made headlines in 1992 when he warned in a Founder’s Day address that students were growing indifferent to intellectual life – and more devoted to parties that stretched from midday Thursday to Monday morning.”

When I heard of his passing on Thursday I thought about how many copies of that book I had given friends and I couldn’t begin to count. It is a brave look at cancer and a richly lived life beyond that country. I remember he referred to his radiation treatments as “lunch in Hiroshima.” I know I had given at least three copies to friends in the past six months most recently to a friend in Florida who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had a successful Whipple. It is a book that makes you see that if you survive you are given a whole new life and sometimes that life is more sweet than the one you had previously. In a 2009 interview with the Observer, he said he still heard from readers inspired and encouraged by that book.

He deeply touched my life and the lives of so many around me. He was a brilliant man who shared his gifts with so many students and readers across a wide swath of topics. Many people may recall his gentle voice on National Public Radio. I didn’t know until reading the article in the Washington Post that former President Bill Clinton thinks of him as his favorite author.

You shall be missed Mr. Price but your life will continue to influence many people who haven’t yet discovered your brilliant writing. Rest in Peace.

January 19, 2011

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Continues

Filed under: helpful hints,media related — Honilima @ 9:33 am

Image result for pancreas
Sometimes we learn things in the most unlikely places when we least expect it. This could be said to be one of life’s great gifts.

The news that Steve Jobs was taking his third medical leave left many people shaken as he is such an American innovator and admired by so many internationally. Listening to Tom Merritt and his crew on his “Tech News Today” podcast gave an interesting explanation of pancreatic cancer by a physician who is a regular in their chat room. She makes clear that she has no special knowledge of Steve’s particular case beyond her experience as s doctor and what she has read and observed in the media but her comments are illuminating. It is a worthwhile listen. She appears at the first part of this audio and for those who have heard about her through the years on this podcast it’s interesting to hear her medical wisdom shared.

Pancreatic cancer is an elusive disease and our ongoing awareness of it is important to help people with the disease to recognize the signs and those without to help work for a cure.

January 10, 2011

Great Quotations by Women: Wise Advice about Life

Filed under: helpful hints,women heroes,Word Related — Honilima @ 9:12 pm













To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
-Emily Dickinson

I finally figured out the reason to be alive is to enjoy it.
–Rita Mae Brown

Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed
– Corita Kent

Life – It began in mystery and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
-Diane Ackerman

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy. -Florence Scovel Shinn

January 5, 2011

Technology and Modern Culture

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff,media related — Honilima @ 4:23 pm

Rock art on North Beach

On Point Radio has had several outstanding shows that examine our relationship to technology and how it is influencing our daily lives. “Wired Life and Your Brain” and “Texting and Human Contact” are a good place to start on this topic. Older adults will gain great insights into young people if they listen to the show about texting and how different young people’s outlooks are on the ways to communicate. How technology is influencing thinking is further explored on their show called U.S. Creativity in Question that makes you stop and wonder how creativity may be getting stunted by all this time spent interacting with machines. Are you a Tom Ashbrook fan yet? You will be after listening to these three thoughtful shows.

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