Beckie reads The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

Why did you read this book? I remembered enjoying it as a kid, and I thought Jeremy might enjoy the wacky Australian-ness.

Has Jeremy read it? Yes.

42-word review: A swagman, a koala and a penguin alternately try to protect and rescue their unending, flavour-changing magic pudding. I remembered more wacky hijinks and fewer songs. It still had some amusing parts, but I was glad it was quite a short book.

Overall rating:  3 puddin’ thieves (out of 5)

Let’s give it a go!: Glacier hiking


[I thought New Zealand Fortnight would be a good time to report on all the things we gave a go in New Zealand]

Why? Part of New Zealand’s charm is that it contains numerous geographical features that are not usually found together in one country, including glaciers. There are two famous glaciers on the west coast that you can hike on: Fox and Franz Josef. Unfortunately, Franz Josef glacier has receded to the point that you can only reach it by helicopter. We did think about doing the more adventurous heli-hike, but it didn’t seem worth the additional cost (and we’ve been in helicopters before–once while I was flying it!), so we just did the half-day hike. It turned out to be rainy, so the helicopters wouldn’t have flown anyway.



How did it go? It was fun! The glacier definitely looks more impressive when you’re on it, and it was cool to see different features like crevasses and tunnels relatively close up. The guides had carved out a path for the half-day hikes that went past a couple of different features, and we got to walk through a kind of fissure in the ice. I was a little jealous of the full-day hikers we saw who didn’t have to stick to a pre-marked path on the ice, so they could go looking for cooler features like ice tunnels (they also got full crampons, instead of half-shoe ones).


Would you do it again? I probably wouldn’t hike on just any glacier again. But, if we were near an especially impressive one, where we’d be able to walk through ice tunnels or something, I’d be interested.

Check this out

Here are some unexpectedly beautiful things:

1. Bird flight paths (via FlowingData):

2. Poetic gems buried among the illiterate rubbish that fills youtube comment threads.

3. Bento-box art of a used-car lot (from this post, which contains many more conventionally cute lunch artworks). used car bento

Also, here are some more conventionally adorable things:

1. A puppy chasing her leash

2. A giant Swedish ice hedgehog icehedgehog

Jeremy reads The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Why did you read this book? As noted, a goal for 2014 is to read 24 books related to personal growth. I tend to be averse to these books because they look hokey when I see them on the shelf, and yet I rarely regret reading them afterward. Anyway, one of the department stores here has a whole “goals stationery” section that got me thinking about all this, and they had this book also sitting on the shelf as a suggested impulse buy. (What I actually did was pull out my iPad and buy the book for my Kindle, but still the store had the right idea marketing-wise.)

Has Beckie read it? Yes, long time ago.

42 word review: Useful on the whole. Good writing; insightful about their experiences, accompanied by many asides to research and quotes. Sometimes gets bogged down by excessive personal narrative and repasted blog comments. Also has such a privleged life already, can be hard to relate.

A sampling quotes I found useful:

  • Samuel Johnson, who had an opinion about everything, did remark, “No money is better spent that what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.”
  • “I felt particularly oppressed by aspirational clutter—things that I owned but only aspired to use: the glue gun I never mastered, mysteriously specific silver serving pieces untouched since our wedding, my beige pumps with superhigh heels.”
  • My Eighth Commandment is “Identify the problem.” I’d realized that often I put up with a problem for years because I never examined the nature of the problem and how it might be solved. It turns out that stating a problem clearly often suggests its solution.
  • “[F]or both men and women…the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women. Time spent with men doesn’t make a difference.” [Note: the book has no references, but I would love to look up this study.]
  • “However, if you want to know how people would like to be treated, it’s more helpful to look at how they themselves act than what they say.”

Overall rating: 4 yearlong stunts (out of 5)