Wednesday, October 17, 2012

There's a Test?

It's tempting to say I read THE PSYCHOPATH TEST: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE MADNESS INDUSTRY because it's the political season --- It's mid-October 2012 --- and the election is in a few weeks. There's Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, and whatnot. Or maybe because Halloween is just around the corner is the reason. Or because I've got somebody in my neighborhood in mind to evaluate. Or, actually, several.

None of that's true, however. I read this because the author, Jon Ronson, was on NPR --- Was it Diane Rehm or Radio West with Doug Fabrizio? I don't know. He was engaging. Is so engaging. So I bought my Kindle version of the book and read a lot of it while walking our greyhound around the neighborhood.

I know, I know, I risk others evaluating me as a psychopath in doing that, especially as I scoop up after the dog's leavings with plastic bags while I'm messing with my Kindle. And anyway the neighbors who see me don't have the checklist they need to evaluate me properly. So they probably do think I am a psychopath, but it's another disorder I have altogether. For they probably haven't read the book and don't have the knowledge that's in it. I now have and possess "the list" to administer the psychopath test. :-).

This book, however, makes it plain that "the list" is not all you need. In fact, it makes very clear how very addictive labeling people is. We do it, but we don't necessarily do it well. I recommend you read this book, especially if you're interested in the topic. As I mentioned before, the author is very engaging. You'll follow Mr. Ronson around continents ferreting out prospects to complete his research. Convicted murderers, psychiatrists, history buffs, etc. You won't be disappointed in the narrative. "'As a group they tend to be more charming than most people,'" says Martha Stout, from the Harvard Medical School.

Not that I should know.

In the Swirl

With the name Eddy, perhaps you can imagine why I got interested in being adrift. You know, swirling around, unanchored, etc.

Anyway, I read BOYS ADRIFT recently, after my brother-in-law finished it. He seemed to like it, thought it had direct application.

My boys are grown up and men now. That doesn't necessarily mean they're totally moored, but it does mean the responsibility, even any deleterious consequences to themselves and others therefrom if they're not, has more or less shifted entirely to them. Nonetheless, my interest in boys doing well hasn't completely waned. Furthermore, I'm not above fussing over what I might have done better myself, even though it's too late.

I come to reviewing Sax's book late in the game. There are numerous comprehensive and valuable reviews out there. I won't add anything by being effusive. I will say this. The dynamic, the environment, the context in which children are raised today is much different than it was when I raised our four children, three of which were adopted, two of which were boys. BOYS ADRIFT deals with this new environment that differs significantly from the era they grew up in. From what I can tell, the book does a fairly good job. I enjoyed reading it and contemplating its suggestions and assertions.

If I were to make a recommendation, I would suggest that anyone reading this book read one in counterpoint to this one. One thing that seemed to escape me in my reading was a recognition in its narration that all characteristics of humanity, including those of boys, exist on a continuum. The fixes articulated won't work for everyone.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recycling Plastic Bags

I haven't written anything about Asia lately.

It's not like she's gone anywhere — the dog, that is, not the continent. Or that we haven't every day been taking walks as usual, mornings and afternoons. We have to go earlier in the afternoon now because the sun is going down shortly after we eat supper. Of course, it also gets light later and later, but we always left so late that hasn't become a problem.

We went out this morning, and I don't remember any of the particulars except that I was reading THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES because that's the book for book club this month.

I take my Kindle, attaching earphones to it, then listening to it read to me as we walk along. I have it read to me as fast as it can. I can get some serious reading done that I wouldn't otherwise get done doing so.

It can be logistically a little more difficult. If interruptions come up — Asia is engaged by another dog, a cat, a teasing magpie or I run into someone who wants to talk — I simply pause the Kindle from its recitation of the text. If Asia dumps a load I pause the Kindle, disconnect it from the earphones, which I leave in my ears, and set the Kindle on the ground. I reach in my pocket, take out a plastic bag and use it to pick up the dump, take out another plastic bag and put the first inside to make carrying the first plastic bag with the load more palatable. Note that I said more palatable, not palatable. I guess I shouldn't use palatable at all. Anyway.

This evening we went a little bit earlier because I had a later agenda: watch the vice presidential debate. We went left, not right, out of the house, down past the Shepards (I'm not sure if that's correct spelling), around the bend, down past Thurstons, right at the corner where the Nelsons live, and down the way until the first cul-de-sac. We usually pass right by the cul-de-sac, but today Asia was quite insistent we turn up and walk through it. I was passive, since I was engaged in events happening on the moor in my book. On the way out of the cul-de-sac, we had to stop and talk to the Willies (again, spelling?), Scott, in particular. He's adding a doorway and stairs down to his basement to accommodate an apartment down there, to supplement their income. Things have become tight for them, he says. He made a remark about my pension from the government.

Further along, we ran into one of our typical stops, especially in good weather: the Wilsons. Mike and Judith were sitting, as usual, in front of the garage, but tonight Clyde Robbins was sitting there with them. They told me they had all been enjoying the week in Southern Utah, at Lake Powell.

Judith asked if I was going to watch the debates. I asked her what debates, joking. I said I like to watch the debates, but I like to watch the commentaries on the debates better.

Asia got tired of the discussion and pulled me on.

Before we knew it we were back home. Asia hadn't made a dump, and I hadn't had to use any plastic bags.

I'm not sure what my mother would think about the sacrifices I make, or rather, what my mothers would think.