What a beautifully busy weekend!

We finished Charlotte’s Web, and I am hoping to fit in an art project/craft to accompany the novel sometime this week. I bawled my way through most of the last two chapters, thinking more deeply as an adult about White’s poignant accounting of how time and life continues to cycle even after we’ve lost someone we love. Charlotte’s Web is such a perfectly elegant little book, essentially a philosophical treatise masquerading as a child’s novel. I have such a new appreciation for White’s writing here.

Our next read is a lighter return to more jovial emotions: Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary. There are scenes from this novel I have remembered my whole life, so to revisit them is certainly a treat for me. Katie is really enjoying it, and I see now how well Cleary captures the nuances of Ramona’s age. We finished the scene tonight in which Howie and Ramona argue over who rightfully owns Miss Binney’s red ribbon. I asked Katie what she thought and why. I think she relates well to this book.

As for my own reading after-hours, I am in the middle of Walter Isaacson’s just-released bio on Steve Jobs. Bill had pre-ordered it, and it arrived to him digitally on Sunday night. I am able to use the Kindle app on my iPad 2 and sign in as my husband, so we can read it concurrently. I am finding the biography to be riveting. Reading about him is taking me to somewhat unexpected places philosophically. Frankly, it is hard to stomach his selfishness and what seems to be his rather cold manipulation of people around him, not to mention his obvious feeling of extreme self-importance. I am baffled at his seeming arrogance, because he is definitely not even in the same intellectual realm as Wozniak—the sweet and somewhat naive genius who would have given away his work. People he worked with talk about Jobs’ “reality distortion field”—his ability to bend people to his will, essentially. Several people commented that, even though the office knew it existed, even had t-shirts made up, and tried to fight the reality distortion field, Jobs was so naturally persuasive that people would bend to his desire. Yeah? I’d like to see him try it. I don’t think he and I could have really lasted in the same orbit for two seconds. It is hard for me to find any part of his personality appealing.

For someone who has at parts of my life been a big fan of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of business, which includes acting selfishly, I find this biography to be almost a litmus test with respect to where I stand now. I am just not sure I buy any longer that we have to remain the selfish biological animals we were born as. As long as we have access to metacognitive thinking, and as long as we care about how we know what we know (epistemology) and care about why we do what we do, I don’t see any reason why we cannot choose to be compassionate, empathetic, gracious beings. Ayn Rand might have had some parts right, but the fact is that a great many people use her work to justify being—uh, what is a G-rated word I can use here? Jerks?

No where does this biography mention that Jobs had an affinity for Objectivism, so I don’t pin that on the guy. But look, if the only axiom in life is that you can act unabashedly in your own self-interest and call it righteous or even moral, then that opens the doors to do things like: abandon your newborn child and unwed mother and spread rumors that she was promiscuous, cheat your friend Wozniak to whom you owed money, cut a  founder and close friend out of stock options, and yell down someone who disagrees with you.

Given the choice, which I think we do have, I would rather err on the side of self-less than self-ish. Now, of course, I know that acting with a heart and mind of service is acting according to my values, which in turn is promoting my values, which could be self-interested. Yes, I understand where that argument goes…

But back to Jobs. Despite some of this, I give him my respect for one thing, maybe two things. First, he allowed this book to be written and did not act as a censor. He knows parts are extremely unflattering. He accepts who he is and doesn’t hide it, all his failings and his triumphs. Second, with age has come wisdom. I do not think the matured Steve Jobs was exactly the same as the youthful Steve Jobs, as evidenced by his retrospective commentary on events and people. He also was a visionary. No, not a software writer, nor a hardware guy—but a coach and promoter and doer in the extreme. I question his methods more than anything, not his technological legacy. And was he bright? Oh yeah, for sure. I just don’t think being intelligent gives anyone the right to be an—-well—you know. In fact, most of the really bright people I’ve ever encountered are mostly at peace with themselves, and others, and life.

Anyway, moving on…

Katie put her shoes on all by herself the other day!

Playing in our music room, sometimes known as the living room…but mainly we’ve got it filled with instruments.

Some perscussion

We love music

Playing with my guitar

Walking to Starbucks for breakfast

Playing at the park on the way back from breakfast

Working on a pin poke leaf craft


So, time for some chamomile tea and reading!

Good night!