Tag Archives: books

Clean Water for Elirose

Four years ago, when we were expecting our daughter, I knew I was about to begin a major shift in my priorities. It would still be a high priority to live out my faith and values, but above all else, the top priority is now to lovingly raise my children and instill those values that are so central to my life in theirs as well. In addition to simply loving my kids, I wanted to help them to see the world the way I had grown to see it. A large community where we are all intertwined and where our decisions impact others.

My kids are 4 and 3 now and, as concrete thinkers, reading books with them is one of the most tangible ways to expand their world, next to actually experiencing things in real life. My journey to find children’s picture books that discussed topics like poverty and homelessness, clean drinking water and lack of education, was fruitful, but sparse. It was a genre with books few and far between. And so, I set out to write my own.

Read the book Online
Read the book Online

Clean Water for Elirose is a children’s picture book about what kids drink and how four young kids make a difference in fifth child’s life, Elirose. My goal with writing the book is two-fold.

  1. To provide parents with a meaningful way to discuss a global social issue with their young children.
  2. To use the book as a tool itself for fundraising for clean drinking water.

My hope is that it reaches those goals, if even on a small scale. If your interested in ordering a copy you can do that here. Anyone is free to buy a “teachers copy” for $5, which is the same book, but doesn’t cover the total costs ($3.65 per copy of the book, ~$2.10 for shipping plus envelope). Or, you can order a $15 copy and about $10 if your purchase will go directly to supporting a clean water well project (currently with Charity:Water).

I’d love your help getting the word out if your willing. Review the book on your blog, ask your local parenting mag or paper to write a review, purchase a copy for your library, tell your friends or use it as a fundraiser for your next missions trip. Oh, and let me know what you think with a comment below.

2008 Book Reviews: 52 Books Read in 52 Weeks

Last year I made it a goal to read 52 books in the year. No specifics on the books, authors, length or anything, just to read a book a week through the entire year. And I pretty much reached my goal (see the list at the end of the post). I realized in the last half week that I had miscounted and was a book shy, but what are you going to do. As a resort to my middle school english class days I wrote a brief book review each week on the book I read. For those who are interested, there’s a nice collection of book reviews here.

This year, I want to read the books I avoided last year, either because they were too long to finish in a week or too academic (read: boring). I also want to catch up on my reading of Geez Magazine and a few other noteworthy articles, essays and the likes.

I am entertaining the idea of doing weekly video book reviews on children’s books I think or worthwhile. You’ll get to watch my cute kid play peek-a-boo with the camera and I’ll mention what picture book we liked that week. Anyone interested? We’ll see, no guarantees unless there is a high demand.

My 2008 Book List (get authors and my recommendations here OR use the search bar in the top right to find my book review on each one):

Buy Buy Baby
Slaughterhouse Five
Giving Up
Serving with Eyes Wide Open
White Man’s Grave
Jesus and the Disinherited
The God of Intimacy and Action
The Other Side of The River
The Paradox of Choice
The Heavenly Man
Playing for Pizza
No Future Without Forgiveness
Sheparding a Child’s Heart
The Manga Bible
The 4-hour Workweek
It’s a Bunny Eat Bunny World
Jesus For President
My Beautiful idol
The Church Ladies
Letters To a Young Teacher
Traveling Mercies
Reconciliation Blues
Porn Nation
Hokey Pokey
The Dip
The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture
When Friends Ask About Adoption
Sex God
God for President
New Day Revolution
Oh Shit! It’s Jesus!
Rapture Ready!
Come On People
What Does it Mean to Be Well Educated?
Rules for Radicals
Plan B
The Great Brain
The Church of 80% Sincerity
Grace (Eventually)
Here Comes Everybody
The Dance of Attachment
Bird By Bird
Operating Instructions
Abortion Book
Blue Shoe
war and terrorism
The Long Tail
Chicago: Never a City So Real
The Myth of Multitasking
The Shack

Book Review: Sway by Ori and Rom Brafman

Looking for a quick and interesting read, I picked up Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori and Rom Brafman. In the vein of Freakonomics, The Tipping Point and others (don’t know what that genre’s called). The book proved thoroughly interesting.

The basic premise is that we are swayed to act irrationally by various external forces. By learning and being aware of them we can learn to make more rational decisions, though the reality is we our often affected so sub-consciously by these forces that they are hard to avoid.

Rather then summarizing the different Sways myself, I found an excellent summary over at JollyBlog‘s book review:

Loss aversion – this is a form of playing not to lose, making decisions in order to cut our losses, or avoid further losses.

Commitment – this is our tendency to hold fast to our course of action in the face of accumulating losses.

Value attribution – we attribute value to people or things based on quick impressions.  In other words, if the right people like something we attribute greater value to that thing than if the wrong people like it.

Diagnosis bias – once we diagnose a situation we see the world through the lens of that diagnosis and all of reality conforms to our bias.

Fairness perception – we’ll often act against our own best interests if we feel that we are being treated unfairly.  There is a cool experiment he talks about involving two subjects.  Someone offers them a sum of money, let’s say $100.  One person gets to divide it any way they want and the other person can decide to accept or reject that division.  If the second accepts they both get the money per the division by the first.  If the second rejects, they both get nothing.  Most of the time the first person divides it 50-50, the second accepts and they walk away happy.  But, when the first person makes an imbalanced division – let’s say he keeps $70 and offers the other $30 – in pretty much every case the second rejects it.   In either case, whether it was a 50-50 or a 70-30 split, the second person would have come out to the good, but in the second case they rejected their own gain because of the fairness perception.

Altruism-Pleasure conflict – people will perform better for altruistic motives than for rewards.  In other words, if someone does something for altruistic motives and then you come back and offer them a reward for doing the same thing, you will often find them losing motivation and/or performing worse.  You gotta read that chapter to understand how it works.

Group Conformity – when in group settings, people tend to stifle their own opinions, often when their own opinions are patently correct and the groups are patently false, to go along with the group.

I’d recommend this book to anyone whose enjoyed any other books in this genre. It’s a quick and easy and interesting read. For some further insight into the subject matter here’s a video by the author about the book.

Now, some totally random tidbits that don’t necessarily give you a good overall view of the book, but might be interesting nonetheless.

Apparently LBJ was a pretty crazy guy…

“There’s a thin line between determination and intimidation and LBJ had no trouble skipping between the two. When he was elected to Congress, he’d call fellow legislators at all hours of the night, just to catch them off guard. Later, as president, during official White House meetings he’d shock and intimidate visitors by announcing a swimming break, taking off his clothes and jumping naked into the pool.” (p.33)

They did a study where a college class has a surprise substitute teacher. The students receive different descriptions of the teacher, an identical biographic paragraph except one line: “People who know him consider him to be a very warm person…” or “People who know him consider him to be a rather cold person…” After sitting through the class, hearing from the exact same professor, the students fill out a questionnaire. Those who had the “very warm” description described the teacher as such. Yet, students who’d sat through the exact same class but who’d received the “rather cold” description described the professor as “self-centered, formal, unsociable, unpopular, irritable, humorless, and ruthless.” One word difference completely changed their perception of the same person! (p.73)

The book also references studies challenging the effectiveness of SSRI’s (Prozac, Zoloft, etc)

“When it comes to SSRIs and children, only three out of the sixteen randomized control trials they had for kids showed a positive result. Only three out of sixteen. And of course there is also the risk of serious side effects.” -Dr. David Antonuccio, regarding research on SSRI’s (p. 97)

Maya Angelou Quotes from Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

At the recommendation of a friend I picked up Maya Angelou’s Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now and I promptly read it in a day. Each short essay brought a new thought and insight which I was quite grateful for. I think I might expound on some of these at a later date but for now I wanted to give you a couple of short glimpses into some of the essays, maybe to wet your appetite and encourage you to pick it up from your local library.

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation. This is particularly difficult for me when my mind falls upon the cruel person, the batterer, and the bigot. I would like to think that the mean-spirited were created by another force and under the aegis and direction of something other than my God. But since I believe that God created all things, I am not only constrained to know that the oppressor is a child of God, but also obliged to try to treat him or her as a child of God.”

“There are a few misguided wits who think they are being complimentary when they declare a woman is “too much”. While it is admirable and desirable to be enough, only masochists want to be “too much.”…A certain amount of paranoia is essential in the oppressed or in any likely targets of oppressors.”

“The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important. In a time and world where males hold sway and control, the pressure upon women to yield their rights-of-way is tremendous. And it is under those very circumstances that the woman’s toughness must be in evidence.
She must resist considering herself a lesser version of her male counterpart. She is not a sculptress, poetess, Jewess, Negress, or even (now rare) in university parlance a rectoress. If she is the thing, than for her own sense of self and for the education of the ill-informed she must insist with rectitude in being the thing and in being called the thing. ”

“We need to have the courage to say obesity is not funny, vulgarity is not amusing, insolent children and submissive parents are not the characters we want to admire and emulate. Flippancy and sarcasm are not the only ways in which conversation can be conducted.
If the emperor is standing in my living room stripped to the buff, nothing should prevent me from saying that since he has no clothes on, he is not ready for public congress.
At any rate, not lounging on my sofa and munching on my trail mix.”

My Notes from the Tipping Point

Great Book, I’d recommend it (My mom recommended it to me).

The Tipping Point


If you take a paper and have to fold it over on it self 50 times, it would make a stack tall enough to reach to the sun. (most would guess the size of a phone book.). pg. 11

Six-degrees of Seperation was actually a study. Sent packets to folks in Nebraska and they where to send it to someone, who sent it to someone, with the goal of reaching a lawyer in Boston. (Most people would guess 100).
We mostly have close friends (based on proximity over similarity) who share similar activities (not necessarily attitudes ). pg. 35
In the 6 degrees experiment most came through three individuals, it points to a small number of people knowing a great many people.

Roger Horchow. Tracks down old elementary school friends. Writes EVERYONE a Birthday card. He’s got 1,600 names in a computer database. pg. 45

Prison experiment
People turned horrible. In just 6 days they called it off. Fascinatingly scary. pg. 154.

Experiments on cheating. Much cheating goes on. It’s not necessarily the bad kids or anything like that. Lot’s of different circumstances. (155-158).

Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards. pg. 197