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    Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - (K) Humorous and thorough history and science behind ultrarunners and long-distance running
    *****
    Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela - (K) An autobiography covering his childhood, years as a freedom fighter and incarceration. Inspiring and informative
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    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón - (K&T) A mystery set in Barcelona involving an old book, a failed writer and murder
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    Lush Life by Richard Price - A Lower East Side tale of cops, drugs and drinking
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    The Chinese by Jesper Becker - (K&T) Modern history of my peeps, from the cultural revolution to the many failed economic and social attempts to move the country forward
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    Setting the Table by Danny Meyer - A "how-to" on hospitality and business acumen by the restaurateur behind such NY institutions as the Shake Shack and Union Square Grill
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    The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - Obama lays out what is wrong with the current government and how, vaguely, to change it.
    **

Week of Feb 18 – Bali and Our Neighbors from the North

Don’t be jealous, but I’m in Bali.  Yes, idyllic Bali.  Much has been written about this beautiful island in Indonesia, so I won’t even attempt to duplicate the efforts of much better writers in describing how amazing this place is.  There’s a beautiful aura about this place, that’s all I can say.

And no, Bali is not the undiscovered paradise that it once was.  There are tourists everywhere, posh bungalow hotels, upscale restaurants and chic shops, but none of it takes anything away from the beauty of this place, really.

Because Diesel had to go to AZ for a week, the plan was to have a whole week to myself doing nothing but reading, going to yoga class, sitting by the pool, exploring a couple of beaches, sauntering through the small streets and just hanging out.

The first morning, during breakfast, I noticed this one girl also sitting by herself.  I started chatting with her later that day, and found out that her name was Jessica, she was from Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) and was here for a yoga retreat.  In fact, our inn has been overtaken by them yogis, who will be here for 10 days.  Jess and I hit it off pretty well, and she’s been my BFF for 4 days now.  The other member of my BFF triumvirate is Sami, another Edmonton Canadian that we met while sitting by our pool—yes, our hotel has a pool just cuz that’s how we roll, man (it’s tiny though, but good for a refreshing dip).  So we met Sami at the pool.  He’s been living in Thailand for 3 years, teaching P.E. at a bilingual school where apparently most kids don’t speak English (even though English is the second language in the bilingual curriculum).  

Anyhow, so the 3 of us are chatting and they start telling me this crazy stuff about Edmonton and Canada in general.  How it’s DANGEROUS, how you can get shot or stabbed while walking at night for no reason at all, how the economy is doing horribly (contrary to this article I had just read on Newsweek that reported Canada was an exception to the world economic chaos due to its sound fiscal policies), how people hate it when you play with their kids, how ghetto it is!  EXCUSE ME?  Are we talking about the same country here?  Canadians are happy people.  Happy people don’t hate kid lovers and they certainly don’t stab other people!  They were insistent on it, and suddenly, my world came tumbling down.  How could this be???  If we can’t trust Canadians anymore, who can we trust?

As I leave you with this serious question to ponder about, let me just say that on the very first day Sami came right out and said:  “I don’t want to be lame or anything but…didn’t you guys expect a TV in your room?”  Jess and I looked at each other in a way that only accomplices can.  “YES” we said in unison, what the heck was wrong with our hotel?  What are we supposed to do when all the lights are out at 9pm and the streets are empty by 10 (esp. Sami, who nonchalantly declared that “he does not read books.”)?  And yes, Jess is here for the yoga retreat and should be a more zen person, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with just bonding with nature through the Discovery Channel?

So we were on a mission to find a place that had TV.  Incredible as it may seem, this turned out to be quite an impossible feat.  We finally found a posh restaurant where they had an old TV that fed into a projector.  And they had HBO!!!  HBO!!!  So we went there the next day to get dessert (dinner was kinda pricey, like 10 bucks a piece—gosh, we are becoming so cheap!) and watch HBO.  We ended up watching TV there, yes.  But not hearing a damn thing because there were no speakers.  Oh well.



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