Archive for August, 2012
When I started this book I was afraid it was going to be a boring English story filled with lots of dull parts like many English books seem to be. Was I wrong? You bet I was! What Came Before He Shot Her is a very long book but Elizabeth George keeps the reader very interested from page one through to the end.
The story follows a dysfunctional family through a part of their lives mainly taking place in the London area. It takes you through good and bad people and neighborhoods. It starts when Joel Campbell is eleven years old. Joel, his little mentally challenged brother, Toby who was seven, and a sister, Ness, a physically well-developed teenager, were literally “dropped off” at their Aunt Kendra’s house. They had been living with their grandmother but grandma decided she wanted no part of raising these kids. She wanted to go to Jamaica to live with her boyfriend. The children’s actual mother was in a home for psychiatric care. She had her sensible moments but they disappeared fast. The grandmother had no qualms leaving the three children on the doorstep of their aunt and taking off with a promise she knew she would never keep: of having the children join her and the boyfriend in Jamaica at some future time.
The story follows the children when they are found by their aunt around and near her house as she tries to assimilate what has occurred. Eventually she knows she wants to try to take care of them but she has no experience for doing so and no idea how to start. She registers them in various schools according to their ages, with Toby going to a special school. Joel has to take charge of Toby coming and going to school on his way to his own school. Ness goes to school when she wishes to go.
Ness and Joel get into bad company and get into more trouble than a rabbit being chased by a fox while Toby sometimes gets picked up by Joel and sometimes he does not know what to do to get home. The antics that unsupervised children of these ages can get into present too much opportunity to Ness and Joel. Ness is very over-sexed and does all she can to show this to all the others in the area, many times going too far! Joel’s troubles compound and multiply many times over as he meets some boys that are not a good influence for any human.
The troubles the children get into, followed by the created chaos that Aunt Kendra falls into when she finds a younger boyfriend, become a part of the puzzle. She and the boyfriend do not set any type of good example for the kids and they only get worse, if that could be possible.
The story might sound very involved but it is easy to follow the way the author writes. She blends various London areas and is sure the reader knows what type of a neighborhood the story line is in as she goes forward. The police, foster childcare, magistrates, and several gangs come into play, all of which make this book delightful, and certainly not dull. Several surprises take place throughout the book making the reader wrong in any assumptions.
The question of what makes a piece of writing African American literature or not is one that I have never been confronted with before. I have certainly never been challenged to question the entire existence of the genre before taking a course entitled “ENGL 234: Major Writers in African American”. On the contrary, frequent evenings spent perusing bookstores have fortified the notion in my mind that the genre is alive and well. Other literature courses have not touched on this subject at all much less brought this question to light. Through that course, however, I found that it is certainly one worth exploring and one that deserves a definitive answer. I have come to understand the genre of African American literature as encompassing any piece of literature that deals specifically with issues unique to African Americans as a culture.
It is interesting to consider the definition for this genre that our English 234 class came up with at the start of this course. We all seemed to have a general understanding of what it was that we could agree upon. Students said based on what they had read in the past, that the genre was made up of books that seemed more ‘real’ than other books; that there was less fiction in black literature. It was also said that these books had to do with mostly issues surrounding slavery. It did not even seem to be a question that the authors of these books would be African American themselves, that appeared to be a given. It is funny that we were all so convinced that we knew what this genre was at the beginning of the course and how student’s definitions have since completely changed, well mine has at least.
It is surprising to me, upon consideration, that I would agree with the claim that African American literature seemed more ‘real’ than books from other genres. It seems very ignorant to assume that all authors of African American literature actually had all of the life experiences they write about actually happen to them. In fact, most piece of this type of literature are fictional. Though some authors may have drawn from actual historical accounts, many of the stories themselves come from the writer’s imagination. It is still safe to say that African American literature is more real than fantasy. The parameters of my definition steer it away from fantasy and more towards real, human experiences.
The idea that African American literature has to do almost exclusively with the issues surrounding slavery and race were completely overturned upon reading “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin. One might expect the book to deal with race simply because Baldwin was an African American writer. I definitely went into the book with that expectation. This perception extended to the point where I believed several characters in the book to be black instead of white or Mediterranean as Baldwin had intended simply because of the fact that we were reading it in a “Major Writers in African American” class. Though I think the title of the class had more to do with this than the skin color of the author, I can certainly see how his skin color might have given students certain expectations as well. “Giovanni’s Room” did not tackle the issue of race at all. The book was about a white man dealing with his inner conflict involving his homosexuality. Upon reading it I would definitely say that it qualifies as a great work of literature, but it does not fit under my definition of African American literature specifically. Black writers can write about anything, they are certainly not limited to issues of race or slavery. An author’s skin color should not have anything to do with what label goes on that author’s writing.
Writers of African American literature do not have to be black. To fit under my definition the material needs only to have connections to black culture or history. The profession of writing entails the ability to create from many different perspectives. I recently read a book called “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, a white author, that I would consider an example of this. In the book Stockett writes from the perspectives of several different characters including two African American women working as maids in Mississippi during the 1960s. “The Help” is clearly a book that addresses issues of race and segregation. I would certainly consider it a work of African American literature because of its content. Similarly, the classic work “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was written by another white woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe. The book discusses slavery and the suffering involved with it. This book would also qualify as African American literature because of its subject matter. This leads us to the question of what “African American issues” really are.
The word “stereotype” comes with negative connotations because it is generally used to describe an off-putting generalization. It becomes necessary though when talking about facets of something like a certain group of people or culture. The other problem with stereotypes is the way they vary from person to person. One person might assume one thing about a certain group of people while another might assume the opposite, making universal stereotyping difficult. It is up to both the author and the reader to determine whether or not a work falls under the category of African American literature. An example of this from class would include Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”, a book that deals with the issue of skin color as it correlates to beauty and equality. This genre does not have to refer to pieces that deal only with slavery, inequality, or segregation. There are many modern subjects that can be explored through literature besides these. For example, a piece of African American literature might touch on the use of the “N” word in today’s popular culture. It can be anything that either the reader or the writer deems a legitimate African American issue to be as long as there is evidence that one can make a claim for and defend successfully. Critics have argued that this genre no longer exists because American culture no longer has to deal with difficulties such as slavery or the Jim Crow laws. It is true that these things no longer exist per-se, but racism and problems concerning race are still rampant in our society even if they now manifest themselves in slightly different ways.
African American literature includes any piece of literature that deals in particular with issues that are related to African Americans as a people. This does not mean the author needs to be black though, writers of any skin tone can fashion characters with many different perspectives and cultures. The common misconception that this genre includes many works or biography and autobiography is false. Many pieces of African American literature are fictional. Topics that are included in this genre can include slavery and the like, but they can also be more modern. African American literature is a growing category just like any other type of literature.
I’m a big fan of audio books. In a typical week, I probably burn through at least 2-3 on a range of topics. A few months ago, I made a decision that has already had a big impact on my life; I started to listen to all of my audio books on 2X (two-times) speed. Since I believe that many of you can benefit from the same approach, I wanted to offer a few observations from my first few weeks with my life on “fast-forward”.
Actual speeds may vary – I’m currently listening to most of my audiobooks on my iPhone. For those of you that have an iPod Touch or iPhone, you can turn on 2X speed by clicking on the “2X” button on the top right of the screen when you have already started to play an audio book. Out of curiosity, I decided to measure the speed increase on 2X mode and found that it is not quite “2X”. Specifically, on the iPhone, it seems like the actual speed increase is about 1.5X. But, either way, it’s still a big increase.
Your brain can handle it – at first, listening to audio books on high speed was a bit challenging. However, after only a few days, my brain started to get used to the higher speed and my comprehension returned to normal. in fact, I now have difficulty listening to audio books on “normal” speed. They just sound so darn slow after listening on 2X.
Your life on fast-forward - in today’s busy world, every second that we can take back is precious. Even if you assume that you are really listening on 1.5X speed, you can still burn through 6 hour audio books in around 4 hours, which is a big time savings. Imagine what would happen if you could accelerate the rest of your life in the same way!
All-in-all, my life has already been improved significantly by this small trick and I hope yours will be too. All the best and happy listening!
The arrival of the so-called computer age has markedly changed the quality of life that we are presently enjoying. Globalization, brought about by the internet, made the world seem smaller. In one snap of a finger, the impossible becomes possible because of the modern technologies that are continuously being updated to improve the quality of life that we currently have.
If not true to all cases, globalization made people from different countries all over the world speak one language, share the same news through the internet, share identical passion for food, drinks and fashion. Indeed, it has recklessly thrown some of our cherished and most valued customs and habits.
Practices that were passed from one generation to the other are taken for granted. Typewriters were phased out to make a room for computers. Trees were cut down to give way to different infrastructures. Despite these changes, there are some things such as reading books, that cannot be obsolete because reading has become an integral part of our education system and no form of modern technology can ever be triumphant over it. Perhaps, now is the best time to reinforce the importance of reading to the younger generations.
What are the wonders of reading? Reading with groups is still popular in some of the European countries, where life is a little laid-back. Women, mostly, are gathered to read some novels to a sick friend or relative. It does not only foster a better friendship but it also gives a chance to express one’s ideas and simulate one’s mind. Moreover, group-reading also teaches us to respect one’s opinion and get to know deeply the valued principles of our friends. Family nighttime reading strengthens the bond between parents and children and among siblings. It also serves as an avenue for family members to catch up and keep up with each others’ previous and present activities. What more is so relaxing than having an interesting book while you are stuck in a car or a bus in the middle of a traffic jam? Time flies so swiftly that you would not even notice that an hour has passed without you noticing it. After a tormenting day at work, nothing beats having a book of your favorite author, a glass of champagne to sip, finger foods to nibble on and a soft music playing nearby at the poolside.
Indeed, reading books will stay even if computers will be gone and replaced by something more modern because reading will always be as normal as breathing, eating and sleeping for the human race. Even if we run out of good writers who can write good books, readers will stay.
Vince Delmonte has become a bit of a celebrity in the online fitness world. The self-proclaimed “guy saviour” transformed his own body from a scrawny 149 pounds into a buff 200 pounds, and being crowned Canada’s National Fitness model champion.
His credentials look great, but does hisCourse really cut it, and deliver on the promises he makes…that no matter what your background or “genetic disadvantage” he can help you to gain weight and build muscle mass quickly, and transform your body.
Here I take a look at the Vince Delmonte Workout and review it to see if it lives up to its claims.
The Vince Delmonte Workouts
The workouts are based around Vince’s own experience as a Personal Trainer, and are designed to stimulate as much muscle fibre as possible.
This is done in a couple of ways: through Periodization programs and Compound exercises. The compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups (like Squats and Deadlifts) stimulate large amounts of muscle at a time and cause them to grow much faster than via isolation exercises. The periodization programs help mix your workouts up on a regular basis so that your body doesn’t get used to the workout, which means you shouldn’t see a plateau in your muscle gains.
The program comes with over a year’s worth of routines, a training log for you to keep track of your exercises and progress, as well as a Virtual Trainer which describes all the exercise techniques in detail.
While there is a ton of material and it is high quality, the absolute beginner might struggle at first to get to grips with some of the concepts and routines. However, Vince provides you with a forum and one-on-one email coaching, in order to get the best out of the program, and ask any questions that you may have.
The Vince Delmonte Diets and Nutrition Information
Like me, Vince is a big believer in the importance of a proper diet and nutrition plan to gain muscle mass. At the end of the day, if you want to get big, you need to eat big.
With this in mind the Vince Delmonte Workout program has a large amount of nutritional help, information and guidance on how to eat for optimal muscle gain.
The Calorie Calculator is a great feature, since it allows you to see exactly how many calories you need to be getting on a daily basis. Since everybody’s circumstances are different, this calculator is a really handy tool.
Once you have your calorie requirement worked out, you have access to 84 Days worth of Meal Plans at 5 different calorie levels from 2,000 to 6,000. This completely eliminates the hassle of planning and organising your meals, and even gives you a weekly shopping list, meaning you can spend more time on the things that matter to you.
Just these meal plans alone are a real time saver and make sure you are on the right track to muscle gain.
The Vince Delmonte Workout has some notable bonuses.
The supplement guide is extremely useful, as there is often a lot of false claims about how many supplements we really need to take to gain muscle. Vince’s approach is to use as little as possible, but shows you the select few that are really worth your time and money. The Vince Delmonte workout program is designed to be effective without any supplements, but the controlled use of a certain few can make life easier.
The forum, as mentioned earlier, is a great place to ask questions, see the progress of others and celebrate your own progress. Often, the need to be around like-minded people who are chasing the same goal is not seen as important…however, I believe it is vitally important as a way to stay motivated and focused on the goal of building muscle.
Issues and Conclusion
The only issues I had was that for absolute beginners there is a lot of content that may seem overwhelming at first, and obviously poses certain problems about where to begin. Although Vince provides videos to guide along those first few steps, it may take a couple of tries before it really sinks in.
Also, I felt that although the exercise lists are very comprehensive, they might pose a problem to folks who don’t have access to a large well-equipped gym. Some alternative exercises might have been a great addition.