Friday, August 21, 2009

Prepping for Bill

Working on: see blog title
Listening to: nada - husband on biz call
Reading: Too Good To Be True, Kristan Higgins

We've had our share of company over the summer but the next guest is really one I could do without (not our dinner guest for tonight, though, he's lovely).

This one is Hurricane Bill.

Last year we had a couple of storm watches and we actually didn't get hit too bad - a couple of trees down in the neighbourhood but the Bay of Fundy area got it worse. And no one knows for sure what impact Bill will have - whether or not he'll decide to visit, or spin his way out into open water. It's pretty certain though that we're in for a good dose of rain and some high winds - and even if it's not the 120 km an hour, if it ends up being even 70 or 80 we can have power issues.

SO, today I am making sure we have drinking water, laundry done and gas for the generator as well as charged cell phones just in case. Tomorrow afternoon we'll move plants etc. inside and clear off the deck. Then we just wait to see what happens. I for one am just glad that the husband is home this weekend.

I have a couple more books to log as well - numbers 51 and 52 of the year. The first is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I have mixed feelings about this book. In ways I thought it was brilliant and in other ways thought it could have been better organized.

I think it was mostly that the “theory” bits of what makes success are somewhat veiled….you know, like when you read a paper or essay and you have a topic sentence? I could have used more topic sentences. LOL It was largely anecdotal which was entertaining, but when I finished I couldn’t really sit down and say, “Well, these are the principles of success.”

I did however find a glimmer of cohesiveness on page 267. If there is an underlying theory throughout, it’s this: “Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” Success is made by decisions and effort.

You know I almost prefer David Foster’s memoir to this. One of his quotes was to look at everything as an opportunity. Even things that don’t seem like it. It’s about taking a situation and finding a way to work it to your advantage. Gladwell seems to agree, and we're not talking huge opportunities. We're talking little ones, that feed to new ones, and so on.

Perhaps the greatest thing I took away from it? Parenting skills. LOL. And I’ll be giving it to the dh to read. He really only reads non-fiction and a lot of leadership and communication stuff. I think the section on the airline industry will pique his interest. I knew when I read it that I’d already seen the MayDay episodes featuring those crashes and he is huge on Human Factors.
I am reminded of something on Kate Hardy's blog not long ago, and choosing to feed the positive. In one case a man had opportunities but he chose to feed the negative, and so the opportunities were wasted. Someone else had opportunities and capitalized on them, and went on to be a household name.

IQ and wealth are not everything. Instead, he makes a very compelling argument for the powers of culture and nature vs. nurture.

And under it all is the one thing that MUST happen - and that's hard work. And that's something we can ALL do. Great equalizer, huh! :-)

The next book is The Pact by Jodi Picoult. It's my first book from her and it was really good. If I have any complaints it's that the "then" portion - moving back and forth to the history of Chris and Emily - was distracting. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure I had to see it for the story to make sense. I know it was all to show the connection and how their lives were intertwined in such a crazy way, but I do know I found myself wanting to skim through some of that stuff to the now.

Also - there were some ends left open. And even as I recognize that it might be the point - that when someone dies you might not be able to get the answers, it is unsettling. In one area of Emily's life, things were hinted at but never truly explained. And I really wanted her mother, Melanie, to get some help. Grief does funny things to people and it definitely brought out the worst in her. She became unhinged and I thought her husband should have either demanded she get help, or leave if she didn't.

I won't say anymore and give away the story, but I would definitely read another of her books.


  1. Will be thinking of you over the weekend and hope that Hurricane Bill is might gentler than you expect.

  2. Anonymous9:20 p.m.

    Hey Donna,
    Hope Hurricane Bill passes right on by and not through. I'm close to Toronto so we're seeing the east coast updates on the news.

    Interesting about the Outliers, it's on my TBR shelf.


  3. Hope Bill fizzles out!

  4. Hope Bill avoids you.

    I read The Outliers a few weeks ago, I agree could have been organised better but it did kick me in the behind to work. Got to get those 10,000 hours done.

  5. Hi Donna. Fingers crossed that HB passes you by. Over here in the UK we don't get hurricane's (thank goodness) - I'm not sure how we'd cope. The whole country seems to grind to a halt when we get 5 inches of snow! LOL. Best of luck to you and the family. Thinking of you. Take care. Caroline x

  6. Me again. Take that back about hurricanes. I think we had a small one (relatively)in 1987 - it hit Kent. Apparently Seven Oaks in Kent went down to One Oak after if ripped through! Take care. Caroline x

  7. Hi Donna, Interested to read what you had to say about Outliers. I almost thought it as two books. If you like the left-wing half says that the Outliers did not just get there on there own but likely had a leg up, often unintentional. Hence the stories of the hockey players born in January and Bill Gates' incredible luck in going to a school with a computer.

    The second half is the conservative half: culture matters and culture stacks the deck towards success. Hence his endorsement of 12 month schooling (keep kids in a learning environment) and the (somewhat stretched) idea that farming rice creates a better culture for success than farming wheat.

    The book is not perfect. Usually I find Malcolm Gladwell makes good points but pushes them too far.

    My 2 cents.

    Chris (aka B.E.)