Heaven in 2007?

ONE CAN HOPE, CAN'T ONE?

Items of Interest in 2007

1.  Last year I read Sam Harris' "The End of Faith" and was disturbed by it.  I wrote down and shared some of my  ambivalent impressions then.  In early January of this year,  I found his "Letter to a Christian Nation," read it, and updated my review. X

2.  More than a decade ago I walked into the Sheep Range north of Las Vegas and lost the photos.  Cleaning out  my home office today (January 21, 2007), voila!  Too bad, because the office cleanup stopped at this point.  Oh well.

3.  Judith Lindbergh's "a thrall's tale" is a book I enjoyed immensely.  Find out why in my review. X

4.  Thomas Cahill wrote a very interesting book, and he wrote it very well, yet I could not help myself turning a bit critical in my review of "Mysteries of the Middle Ages,"  (one of the things I was critical about was answered in the book I read and describe under item 14, below) X

5. Paris again: what may have been my last trip to Paris: my hotel, a visit to the Tuileries gardens and the Orangerie museum, and a visit to the Madelein and Sacre Couer.

6.  What may have been my last official-business visit to Brussels, a very short trip in March with just one afternoon of spare time to spend in the city.
7.  A very short visit to Vienna in March with just 3 hours of daylight to sight-see. This is NOT my last trip to Vienna, another one is coming in about a month.

8.  Earth-Day, 21 April 2007,  I have been asked to provide a slide show based on this website for continuous showing at the fair to be held in Pahrump, Nevada

9.  A double-feature!  Zion Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah!

10.  Added one photo to the very end of my Divine Feminine page, one of my oldest and more frequently visited pages.
11.  My most popular page (because of its use as a reading resource in several college classes) has been edited, in terms of spelling and format changes only, to make it easier to read.  It is the story of what I believe to have been a genuine women's movement in the Middle Ages (the Beguine movement).

12.  Back to Death Valley for another Devils Hole Workshop.  This is the 4th year of having a Death Valley page from attending the Devils Hole workshop..

A.     This time there was a field trip to see some features of the Amargosa River, a field trip hosted and led by the Amargosa Conservancy.

B.     There was also a sand storm while the Devils Hole Workshop was in session.

C.     For my exploration time, I walked up Golden Canyon, got very hot, and then went up on the Panamint Range and cooled off considerably (going from about 200 feet below sea level to about 9,000 feet above sea level would tend to do that).

D.     Someone asked me what I thought caused the moving rocks on the Devils Race Track, I never got there but did take some photos off the TV in the hotel and speculated.   

E.     Of course I had to see the Devils Golf Course since it was within easy reach.  It has nothing to do with the Devils Race Track, and isn't near as interesting.

13.   (parts are under construction still) Maybe this was my last trip to Vienna, so I had to go out of my way and do and see something I hadn't done and seen before.

A.     Staying awake the first day requires walking, so my colleague Claudia and I did a Whimsical Walk in Wien.  If you are offended by topless mermaids and mermen, don't go here.  Besides mermaids and merman there are also flowers and trees and such, and even a look from where I worked my last day, on the 25th floor of a building in the Vienna International Centre, allowing a nice overview of the city.

B.     On what might have been my last chance to spend some time in Austria, I did two things (2 Metro rides and 7 train rides in all).  I walked around Semmering, a resort town in the mountains, and I walked around Eisenstadt and saw its royal palace.  Both places were recommended by a colleague at the International Atomic Energy Agency.  I appreciated the tips, both places were just wonderful in terms of both natural and human-crafted structures and sights.

14.  Read several books, they all deserve a review, but I have only enough time and energy to do one, so here it is:  "Montaillou: Promised Land of Error," by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie.  I learned a few things from this book. and it brought me back to 2001-2002 when I was on the trail of a woman dead for 700 years with whom I felt a strong/starnge connection  until I told her tale on this website.  Under item 4, above, I mentioned I was somewhat critical of a few things in Cahill's book on the Middle Ages, and Ladurie, to me, vindicated me regarding one of those criticisms). X

15.  Wrote down my impressions from reading "The Physics of Chrisitianity" by  Frank Tipler.   I was initially pleased, then dismayed at this book, but upon reflection realized it is not all that different (except for its strident pro-Catholic/Christian bias) from some of the books I read last year (see this link to go back there). X

16.  A visit to historic Salem  My interest was to learn more about the witch persecution that took place here 300 plus years ago, and I did learn many things.  Join me.

17.  I read the novel "Labyrinthe," by Kate Mosse and liked it very well.  It is another tale involving the Catahr heretics, or Good Christians, with a modern twist.  This is not a book review , just a comment about one page in the book. X

18.  Harold Bloome's latest book "Jesus and Yahweh, the Names Divine" did nothing to cheer me up, but he did share a few of my prejudices, which ought to make me feel I am in good company --but is a literary critic ever good company? X

19.  As part of my restoration after a hard drive crash, I discovered some pages previously prepared in 2004, but never posted, so here they are: a description of a mystery in Titus Canyon ( a collapsed cave, most likely) and another look at the Death Valley sand dunes.
20.  Recent events have reminded me of my own encounter with, and temporary belief in, the divine origins of Mormon polygamy.  These 'confessions' were part of more angry writings from the time of my becoming aware of some of the fallacies of my faith as reflected in its historical baggage.  So, here I am, "Standing on the Principle" (the 'principle' of plural marriage, or polygamy, or -more accurately- polygyny, that is).

21.   Thomas Cahill's book on the "Mysteries of the Middle Ages" (see review under item 4, above) reminded me of my interest in and admiration for Eleanor of Aquitaine.  My October trip to Paris was to finish up some business I had a hand in starting several years ago, and may well be my last official work-related trip to Paris.  So I took advantage of having about a day and a half personal time to visit where Eleanor was buried,  Fontevraud Abbey, in the Loire Valley.  

22.   For good measure, since I had begun my adventures in France with a visit to the abbey at Mont St. Michel, I put that first on my itinerary for my free time.  Adding another favorite place of mine, St. Malo, would have left little time to make the journey to Fontevraud Abbey listed above, so the trip to St. Malo was limited to seeing the ocean and making a U-turn to head southeast toward Fontevraud.  As it turned out, I did get to spend sufficient time at both St. Michel and Fontevraud to satisfy my little heart's desire.

23.  Three books were read to look into the basis for the current difficulty between the West and Islam.  This thematic review begins here, and then branches to commentaries on a book by Ayaad Hirsi Ali called "The Caged Virgin," by Serge Trifkovic called "The Sword of the Prophet," and by Asra Nomani called "Standing Alone in Mecca."  My favorite of the three was Nomani's, my second favorite was Hirsi Ali's, and Trifkovic does not get an honorable mention in this review (although his review is the longest of the three).  At the very end of my readings I also ran into, and quoted just a little from, Iman Feisel Abdul Rauf's "What is Right with Islam." X

24.  Paul Davies publshed another book.  I heard it discussed on National Public Radio and went and got it, read it, liked it, and reviewed it.  It is called "Cosmic Jackpot, Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life." X

25.  A December 2007 walk in the Spring Range near Las Vegas, Nevada, with lots of snow.

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