We changed Internet providers. Such a change is never particularly easy, and the family was offline for about a week during the transition.
During this time, I still had my iPad that could connect to the cell network, so I kept up with my emails. But I couldn't keep up with blogging or writing comments on other people's blogs or anything like that. It was too awkward, and sometimes it just didn't work at all. I stopped trying to do these things.
My Reading Goes Up
My goodness. Who KNEW I would have so much free time in one week? This was actually a shocking revelation. In one week, I read two books. Neither book was about nuclear energy.
The first book was Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why, by Laurence Gonzales. Gonzales describes fairly horrific situations. In some cases, people chose high-risk activities: attempting a new route to a summit. In other cases, people found themselves in high-risk situations: a small plane crashed in the Andes, and a young woman managed to walk back to civilization. In either event, people found themselves where it would be easy to die, but not so easy to survive.
How did the survivors make it? What actions or traits did they have in common? Gonzales is very clear that even if someone does everything right, the person may die. The forces against them may be just too great. However, bearing that in mind, how did people survive?
|Climber getting ready to rappel|
What struck me about this book was the emphasis on realism. The people assess the situation accurately. They determine what can be achieved, and what cannot be achieved. They decide what we can do, and when we have to reassess the situation.
And they worked as a team, if more than one person was in danger. Notice all the words "we" in the sentences above.
Air Force photo from Wikipedia
Note: Why two out of five? Two of the people on the raft started the trip drunk. They ended up drinking seawater, going mad, and jumping out of the life raft. One person was too badly injured to survive: she was injured as the original boat was sinking. The two sober people in the raft helped each other and helped the badly injured person, and those two survived.
I could not help but compare the clear-eyed realism of the survivors with the endless Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) being spread by nuclear opponents. "This could happen, or maybe that could happen! Be very afraid!" On one of my email lists, there is a quote from an anti-nuclear screed claiming a rise in radiation from uranium daughter products in fuel rods. They claim this rise could happen under some circumstances, and it would take place 1.2 million years from now.
I began to think that if people really buy into this FUD, their mental processes can get warped. If you are worried about a radiation rise that might/maybe take place in 1.2 million years, are you seeing the world clearly? Will you look out for cars when you cross the street? Will you be able to tolerate pain if you find you must walk down a mountain from a plane crash?
I began to think about anti-nuclear FUD as a bigger problem than whether or not nuclear energy continues in this country. At this point, I believe anti-nuclear FUD is a symptom of a world-view that simply cannot work for people. That is another reason to fight FUD, but the battle may be bigger than I thought it was.
Sigh. Well, time for another book.
Quebec Mystery: How the Light Gets In
For a complete change of pace. I also read Louise Penny's mystery novel: How the Light Gets In. This is the second-to-the latest of the Inspector Gamache novels. The latest one has just been released: I expect the bookstore to call me any day that my book order has arrived. (Yes, for Pete's sake. I am not rich, but I often order hardbacks of Penny's novels.)
Penny's novels are set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the area just north of the Vermont border. Her books have fascinating, intricate plots, and real characters who change over the course of the series. People fall in love, and fall out of love. Inspector Gamache makes brilliant deductions, and he makes serious mistakes.
Penny's writing is both clear and poetic. She usually gives a talk in Vermont when her books are released, and I always go to hear it. (To give you an idea of how her books are constructed, the title "How the Light Gets In" comes from Leonard Cohen's Anthem.)
|Montreal near St. Louis Square|
Yes, Penny's books are "just" a set of mystery novels, but every now and again, it is good for me to read something from Quebec. You see, in Vermont, the people against Vermont Yankee often praise the "clean hydropower we can get from Quebec." Well, yes we can get it, except for the transmission constraints (and that is another blog post entirely). But the Hydro Quebec power is also a story of pain and tears. It's worth remembering that, even in the course of a mystery novel.
I suppose it will be a while before I read another book, since I am back on-line now!
But I have resolved to take some time to read books in the future. This off-line experience showed me the value of reading books and contemplating them in (relative) silence, without the chatter of the Internet. One book helped me realize the value of clear thinking and courage. Another reconfirmed that I do not buy into the everything-is-so-rosy view of Quebec hydro power.
Clarity and contemplation. I'm going to try it.