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Book Review: Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation

In the weeks following President Kennedy’s assassination, Jackie Kennedy received over 800,000 condolence letters. Professor Ellen Fitzpatrick sorted through over 200,000 of these letters in her latetst book, Letters to Jackie: Condolences from a Grieving Nation. I have to admit, as I was reading the book, I was a bit envious of the prospect of poking around in the letters myself. It must have been a treat and quite a task selecting the letters to include.

The book contains 250 letters sent to the first lady from Americans across the country. The letters range from clinical depression inducing (letters from widows whose husbands died when they heard that Kennedy had died) to the strange (a supporter who desired Mrs. Kennedy to send her one of the President’s socks). The letters are presented in sets, each with a specific theme. Among the most heart wrenching of letters are those from children, whose letters reflect not only their own sadness and confusion, but also that of their parents and communities. Also of note is a series of letters from African Americans expressing their deep gratitude for President Kennedy’s civil rights efforts.

Fitzpatrick does a fairly nice job of introducing each set of letters with the accompanying historical context, although I found myself wanting more substance at times. I was expecting a more intimate look at how Jackie coped with the President’s death, but instead was presented with an in-depth journey into the American psyche. In addition, after the book is complete, there is a short biography of each of the letter writers. I found this cumbersome and unusable after the fact; there was no mention of it in the introduction. It would have been better served to include the brief biographies with the letters themselves, as they would have provided additional perspective to the letters themselves.


Breaking Dawn 2 Epic Finale

I must admit that even before I saw this movie, I already read a few reviews and some synopsis (and summaries). In a way, I already know what this part 2 will be about. But I just have to watch it! Hey, I am not a Twilight fan but being it a movie that me and my sister watch together, I anticipated this movie so much.

I was expecting more acting from Bella since I always thought that this movie is about her struggle as a vampire. Oh I was wrong! The first part indeed showed here as a newborn but not much struggle. I didn’t even saw her having a hard time being one, save for one cliff moment, which is not convincing.

What I didn’t expect is how dragging the movie was. I had to click the froward button from time to time. Half of the movie is just blah but I do like the parts where other coven were being shown. It’s just answers my question of where are the other vampires? In a way that part explores the idea of the vampire world and not just the Cullen- Voltouri world. I love how each of the vampires ability from the other covens were shown.

The comedy, it is so lame, specially when Jacob said something during the end.. argh and look at Edward’s reaction, poof!

Still, I have been watching this movie over and over again.

Why? I love the epic battle! I realized how corny I am after watching that part for the nth time. I love that battle to bits.. I love how justice was served. You know that thing, when this vampire killed the partner of another partner, the other partner takes revenge.. so cool!

The movie, if you would describe in a graph, would seem like, a flat line, then suddenly rises on that epic battle then goes to flat line after the battle.

Of all the Twilight movie, this is my favorite, Bella, finally had some reaction! And truth to what she said, after her human life ends, she never felt more alive.


Rangefinders Review – Becoming Popular for Hunters

Rangefinders were once only used and known by such people as military professionals, cartographers, surveyors, engineers, builders, miners and more. Of course, I’ve always wanted to know exactly how far my mailbox is, and I am sure there may have been equal wonderment by country folk on how far their barn exactly is. Of course, I am never going to actually take a tape measure and measure it out exactly. I’ve always either prided my nautical judgment or alternatively been too lazy to invest such an effort. But the world has changed, and now I can do it at the click of a button and a gizmo worth less than $200.

Outdoorsy stores and Amazon are buzzing with this best rangefinder, flooding the market. The most popular new users of these laser rangefinders are hunters and golfers. Hunters needing rangefinders also come in two flavors – riflemen (or rifleperson to be gender neutral) and bow people. Perhaps the animal rights folk will not be too happy with this new gadget that allows the hunters in our community to multiply their effectiveness. Or perhaps society will gain from the increased productiveness in our hunter-gatherer economy. We’re not to judge.

Puritan hunters would probably make another sceptical group. Surely, the whole purpose of hunting is to leave the million gizmos that clutter our lives and get in touch with nature? Here is yet another proof how technology is creeping in and now assaulting one of the last vestiges of our hunting heritage.

Perhaps the shot that gets the buck is the case of the bow-hunter. Now, why the bow my man (or woman)? Surely, if you have no qualms about using a rangefinder, you cannot have any about using a rifle? This technological innovation will allow you to shoot farther and easier, and – might I add – help you with less muscular strain.

But then, that’s not how Robin Hood did it. Also, they make a rather unpleasant racket when you shoot. Yet more to consider – the new incline/decline calculators makes it even easier to get a shot in from the nearest tree-post. And last but not the least, the Joneses have them!

Golfers on the other hand, have no qualms about adopting technology, as long as it lowers their score. Yet, as with all things, they too face a challenge; they have to decide between two competing technologies: laser rangefinders and GPS golfing devices. On a good note, laser range finders for hunters don’t require an annual fee, you can measure the distance of anything rather than only the flag pole and you don’t need to download (and pay for) maps. They are also more accurate. However, one issue has been trying to aim at a tiny flag-post with a laser rangefinder. This problem has largely been solved by using pin-seeker technology, or simply pointing at something nearby, like a person on the green or the ground near it. However, you still see the odd flummoxed customer write a bad review of the rangefinder they purchased because they couldn’t point the rangefinder right.


Mouthwash Review: Gargol

The dream mouthwash. Why, you ask? Let the ingredients speak for itself. Gargol has 100% natural essential oils and Xylitol.

The essential oils being:

Thyme- which is proven to be a natural healer. Effectively treats mouth infections.
Chamomile- a soothing herb that sooths inflammations and throat irritations.
Peppermint- a member of the mint family, which keeps breath smelling fresh.
Myrrh- an all around oral remedy. Strengthens spongy gums.
Tea tree- a potent antiseptic that effectively heals mouth ulcers and oral infections.
Propolis- reduces bacteria and plaque formation. Relieves gum inflammation.
Xylitol – nature’s sweetener that’s actually good for you. It restores orl pH balance and discourages cavity growth.

It was probably more than a year ago when I first saw the “Gargol” ad in The Philippine Star. The first time I went to Mercury to try it out, it was not yet available. So I got frustrated. I so wanted to try this out so bad because ever since my childbirth instructor has told us the danger of getting mouth cancer out of using mouthwash with alcohol, (She lost her husband to mouth cancer). I have shunned every other mouthwash in the market.

I have actually tried Oracare, which also does not contain alcohol, but I did not find its price very friendly. It is a little too pricey for the content. A 200ml bottle of Gargol only costs $2, not bad, right? From amongst all the flavors, orange and green apple are my favorites.


Gulliver’s Travels

I’ve recently watched this 2010 film adaptation of the 18th century novel of the same name by Jonathan Swift, with a twist of a modern day setting and was loosely based on the written version. This comedy fantasy film by directory Rob Letterman starred the ever-hilarious Jack Black as Lemuel Gulliver.

Lemuel Gulliver is a clerk in a mailroom of a New York newspaper and plagiarized his way into a writing assignment by claiming that he knew the secrets of the Bermuda Triangle, where he set off afterwards and discovered the land of Lilliput. There he stands head and shoulders above every other citizen. He was a giant! He then started spinning tales about his adventures, inventions, participations in historic events, and claiming himself to be the president on United States, to match his larger-than-life figure. In the end he puts Lilluputians in grave danger and has to find a way to salvage his reputation and save the land.

Contrary to its main characters size, this movie isn’t really one of my big favorites. Jack Black, as expected is always in his wacky element but his efforts did not fair well to save the entire film. I’m giving it two buckets of popcorns as a rating, with 5 buckets being the highest and suggests you find something else to watch if you’re looking for a bigger adventure. I even thought I should have play playstation 3 instead of watching the said movie. But, I still have to know and see if the kids will have a good time watching it.


Book Review: The Letters of John and Abigail Adams

This non-fiction classic is a collection of letters going between John and Abigail Adams written during the American Revolution. A lengthy introduction by the editor, Frank Shuffleton provides a thorough and interesting introduction to the lives and times of Mr. and Mrs. Adams. The content of the Adams’ letters range from, well, the revolutionary to the ordinary.
A good portion of the letters chronicle John and Abigail’s daily life – his in participating in the Continental Congress, and hers in raising the children and maintaining the Adams’ estate. Separated for long periods of time, the letters provide an in depth look at not only current events, but also the Adams’ marriage. Some of my favorite parts were when Abigail would gently chide John for not writing more often, and both parties frequently expressed their distress at the separation. The reader, like the Adams’ is plagued by the Revolutionary postal system, or the lack thereof. While the book is arranged chronologically, often several letters would pass before the other party had a chance to respond to a previous letter, making it difficult on the reader. Also making it difficult for a pleasure reader is the system of footnotes. Each letter is individually footnoted, and the reader must continually flip to the back of the book to gain historical reference. A time consuming task, that for me, because more troublesome than it was worth in that it broke up the “story”.

My favorite parts of the book often centered on Abigail’s political opinions, as her letters gave a unique insight into a woman’s perspective. I loved one particular letter in which she clearly expressed her opinion to John about the education of women: “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen, and philosophers, we should have learned women.” Abigail was, without a doubt, a woman ahead of her time. I would recommend this book to a Revolutionary War aficionado/history buff, or students looking for an amazing collection of Revolutionary primary source documents.