Around the World Reading Challenge: The Results

Egads!  Where has the time gone?

Last year, I started an Around the World Reading challenge for fellow book bloggers.  The challenge is simple: to read at least one book from each of the six continents.  (I did not include Antarctica, but I was delighted to note that one person did a post on a book about Antarctica anyway.)

I was pleased with the number of people who rose to my challenge.  Below, I have compiled a list of all the challenge entries that were linked to my blog.  (If you linked a post, and I missed it, please know that it was inadvertent or that your link didn’t work.  Let me know, and I will rectify my mistake.)

I have to confess that I have not yet completed my own challenge.  (I have neglected my blog for many months, but I’m getting back on the horse, so to speak.) I have entries for North America, Asia, and Africa, but still need some for Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and South America.  I still have two more weeks left!

If you have joined the challenge, but haven’t finished yet, either, it’s not too late.  There are two more weeks to get er done!

Thanks so much to everybody who participated!

North America


South/Latin America




Australia and New Zealand


Walter Dean Myers, Antarctica:  Journey to the South Pole


Live from America! What is Christmas?

Diary Entry 12/15/15  (For an explanation of the series Live from America! Click here.)

Dear Advanced Life Form (ALF):

Today I went out to lunch with some friends to celebrate Christmas.  Tomorrow I will go to a Christmas party with co-workers.  I have already been to a few other Christmas celebrations and plan to attend several more before the season is over.  I am in a sugar-induced coma from all the Christmas cookies I’ve eaten.  In a word, I am an American.



If you wish to understand the Ways of My People, ALF, you will need to understand what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is a Christian holiday, and its purpose is to celebrate the birth of Christ.  Christians believe that Christ is the human incarnation of God and that Christ sacrificed himself on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven and we would have eternal life.  Christmas is all about love and an appreciation for our creator and redeemer.

Adoration of the Shepherds
Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard von Honthurst, 1622

We Americans are a religious people, and we take all this Christmas stuff seriously.  We show our devotion by shopping–I mean serious, hard-core, shopping.  I’m not talking “Oh, I think I’ll buy an orange for little Mikey and put it in a stocking and he will be ever-so-grateful.”  I’m talking  $465 billion on Christmas gifts this year, or around an I-Pad and an X-Box per person.  We celebrate God’s love by stressing ourselves out.  We spending money we don’t have to buy gifts that our loved ones don’t need and sometimes don’t even want. We do this for Jesus.


We do this because back in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, they didn’t have much in the way of retail stores or gift certificates, and we feel bad about that.  We want to make up for the toy cars, video games, and gift certificates to iTunes that Jesus didn’t have when he was a boy.

Don’t get me wrong, though, ALF.  Christmas isn’t just about stuff.  It’s also about decorating fake pine trees with pretty, shiny things.  And it’s about music—glorious sacred music.  I know a lot of people think that Handel’s Messiah” is the bees’ knees when it comes to Christmas music.  I’m not so sure about that.  Handel was all right, but he doesn’t hold a candle to the real genius of Christmas music: Johnny Marks, the composer of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Because ultimately, Christmas is about reindeer.  Whether black-nosed, brown-nosed, or red-nosed; whether from the Middle East, the North Pole, or Wisconsin,  reindeer are people, too.


And that, ALF, is why we spend so much money on Christmas that our entire economy hinges on retail sales in December.

I hope this clears up any questions you may have about Christmas.  It’s really pretty simple.

Oh–and Christmas is also about Jingle Cats singing “White Christmas.”

Live from America! 12/14/15

Dear Advanced Life Forms of the Future:

Greetings!  I am a human living in the United States of America in the year 2015.  At the time of this report, our nation is looking for a new president in a process known as “democratic elections.”  The first step in this process is for each political party to choose a nominee to run for president.  Right now, the front runner in the Republican primary is a man named Donald Trump.

Donald T rump

Donald Trump

Trump specializes in hate-mongering and has offended just about everybody on the planet who is not a rich, white, American male.  Nonetheless, as a candidate, he is leading the polls at this time.  They say that sex sells when it comes to products.  Apparently, hate sells when it comes to politics.

I have therefore concluded that Donald Trump will win the presidential election.  He will then get us into a nuclear war with Vladimir Putin of Russia in order to decide, in an epic showdown, which of them has/is the biggest dick on the planet.  Our planet will not survive this showdown, except for a few isolated outposts of struggling humanity.

That is where you come in, Advanced Life Forms of the Future.  I am assuming that after you discover the pathetic remains of our planet, you will be curious to find out what happened to us.

I am here to help you out.  I will keep this diary on my blog as a chronicle of what life was like in Late America (Before The End Times).   I’m not a leader, a celebrity, or a rich person.  I’m just an ordinary American providing a chronicle of my ordinary days.  I hope it will help you Advanced Life Forms to make more sense of my planet, my country, my people.

Report from December 14, 2015

One of today’s headlines focused on a landmark climate control deal agreed to by over 200 countries after meeting in Paris.  This is big news for the state of our planet, which we have been busy destroying for quite a while.  For reasons that are too complicated to explain in my little diary, the earth has been getting warmer and the weather has become more volatile because of emissions we have put into the atmosphere.

The purpose of the talks in Paris have been to strike a deal that would begin to reverse some of the most devastating effects of global warming. According to Carol Davenport, a reporter for the New York Times,

The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best, scientists who have analyzed it say, it will cut global greenhouse gas emissions by about half enough as is necessary to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That is the point at which, scientific studies have concluded, the world will be locked into a future of devastating consequences, including rising sea levels, severe droughts and flooding, widespread food and water shortages and more destructive storms.

But the Paris deal could represent the moment at which, because of a shift in global economic policy, the inexorable rise in planet-warming carbon emissions that started during the Industrial Revolution began to level out and eventually decline.” (NYTimes 12/13/2915)

A deal that helps us save the planet we all live on might seem like a good thing to most people, but not everybody agrees that saving the planet from global warming is a worthwhile goal.

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio, for example, noted once that “America is not a planet.”  Therefore, he does not want to put any restrictions on businesses in order to save the planet. (I know, I know, that logic doesn’t make any sense to me, either.)

And Donald Trump thinks the idea of global warming is just a hoax invented by the Chinese to destroy America.  (Those sneaky Chinese people!)

You can see their point.  After all, worrying about a planet in decline can really get in the way of the important stuff in life.  That’s why the number 1 trending story on google today is not about global warming or chaos in the Middle East or the presidential election, but something really important::  Justin Bieber and Kourtney Kardashian ‘Inseparable,’ ‘Touchy Feely’ While Partying in Wes Hollywood, Says Source. 


Justin Bieber and Kourtney Kardashian

In case you, Advanced Life Form, do not know who these people are, Justin Bieber is a singer who looks to me like he is 8 years old. Apparently, though, young women find him to be attractive.  Kourtney Kardashian is a young woman who is famous.  Honestly, I have no idea why she is famous, but she is.  Her sisters are famous, too, and they like to wear tight clothing a lot.  I’d like to be more helpful, but that’s really all I can tell you.

You can see, Advanced Life Form, humanity has its problems.   But I do rather enjoy living here, and hope the planet can find a way to keep going awhile longer.  There are always wonderful things to celebrate.

Today’s wonderful thing is this:  Goats Singing Christmas Carols.  Check out this youtube video made by Action Aid.

I bet you don’t have that on your planet!

That’s all for today’s report.  Stay tuned for more news from America!