#929 The Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark Twain

The Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark TwainThe Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark Twain

Mark Twain was in the military for a short time, about two weeks or so and it did not go well. At the very least, according to him it didn’t go well. This story is his side of what happened during his two weeks in the military. As you can imagine, there were some interesting happenings.

What I liked

Mark Twain was a funny guy. He even made himself up a silly pseudonym to go with his writing.

Mark made his was experience seem funny, no doubt he exaggerated quite a bit. War isn’t funny, but Mark was able to make it a bit funny. There’s some not-so-great moments, of course, but overall, this was pretty entertaining.

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say that I didn’t like it.


I wonder if he wore that suit to war.

Weigh In

If you went through a terrible time, would you find a humorous way to tell it to others?

Were you ever a part of something that was supposed to be great, but ended up pretty sad?

#929 The Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark Twain was originally published on One-elevenbooks


#928 A Life that Matters by Mary and Robert Schindler

A Life that Matters by Mary and Robert SchindlerA Life that Matters by Mary and Robert Schindler

For fifteen years Terri Schiavo lived between hospitals, nursing homes, and being taken care of her family. Her husband, Michael, had complete legal right to make all medical decisions for Terri, but those decisions weren’t always the best.

The whole thing started when Michael called his in-laws one night saying that Terri had collapsed. No one knew what happened or why. The family soon learned that Terri was never going to be the same again. The doctors didn’t think she would ever recover, but there was some hope. Terri could do small things and was getting rehabilitation at some point, but there was no money. Michael went to court to try to get money for Terri’s rehabilitation saying that all the money would go towards Terri’s care, but that didn’t happen. The money seemed to disappear. Michael got a girlfriend.

Terri was moved from facility to facility. Sometimes her parents and family would be barred from seeing her. There were multiple times that her feeding tube was taken out. Ultimately, there were several trials where the family argued against Michael about whether or not Terri should continue receiving food and water. Meanwhile, Terry could respond to some things. The family sought the help of the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, and got the support of many celebrities, but ultimately, Terri’s feeding tube was removed and she did die. The family has worked since then to help people in similar situations.

What I liked

The name Terri Schiavo is a name I’ve heard before, but I didn’t know the full extent of what happened, so I found this whole book very interesting and enriching, even if it is quite sad.

There is definitely a huge ethical argument in Terri’s story that people do need to think about.

What I didn’t like

There are two sides to this story and this is only one side. As is, I lean towards Terri’s parents’ side. If there was any response from Terri, that she could respond and interact, then she shouldn’t have been taken off of her feeding tube, especially, if her parents wanted her alive.

I used to work in a nursing home. I took care of several people on feeding tubes. None of them were entirely unresponsive. I even took care of several people who never spoke, but were definitely still in there somewhere. They had to be fed and cared for in all ways, but they still had responses to things–facial expressions and so forth. Would I have ever said that any of them deserved to be starved to death just because they didn’t respond like everyone else? No. They were people, someone’s mother, grandmother, whatever.

On the other hand, if I had had a patient that didn’t move, ever, and did nothing, and just existed on a feeding tube and catheter, I would feel very sorry for that person. There’s obviously nothing there.

On the one hand, I would never want to be in a state anywhere near Terri’s state. I wouldn’t want to live. I kind of think that if you have some incurable condition and you don’t want to live, it’s your choice. That’s why people have DNRs. For example, let’s say you have a living will stating that if your brain is without oxygen for five minutes, or whatever, that you don’t want to be resuscitated because of all the brain damage you would have, that’s a legitimate thing. Some brain damage is ok, but who wants to live in a state where their brain has been so severely damaged that they’re not remotely who they were before? Or they can’t walk? Or talk? Or eat? Or whatever?

On the other hand, if what Terri’s parents’ say about her being responsive to some things is true, then her parents should have been able to have kept Terri around. Terri should have lived. If Michael didn’t want to be the guardian over Terri, then her parents should have been able to do it.

Part of this whole thing really sounds like Michael just wanted to be rid of his wife. He didn’t want the responsibility for her–that’s really what it sounds like. Fine, let her parents do it. Don’t be a jerk about it. He even had Terri buried without her parents even knowing, which is a terrible jerk move.

On the other, other hand–if Terri had really expressed a desire to die if something like this ever happened to her, then that should have been written down somewhere. If you feel so strongly about something like this–write it down. Get it notarized, or whatever. That way, if it does happen, your choice is already made and people know it.

This whole thing is very sad.


This whole thing would have been solved with a living will.

Weigh In

What would you do if you were in Terri’s place?

Who do you think was in the right? If anybody? Maybe they were all wrong.

#928 A Life that Matters by Mary and Robert Schindler was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#922 The World’s Worst Backpacker by Ken La Salle

The World's Worst Backpacker by Ken Le SalleThe World’s Worst Backpacker by Ken La Salle

Ken has always wanted to hike the PST trail. It doesn’t stand for Pacific Standard Time, but it’s pretty close. Why doesn’t Ken just do this? Well, several things— he’s a little out of shape, he buys the wrong hiking supplies, his friends and girlfriend don’t want to hike and several other things.

Ken thinks his girlfriend won’t be supportive of his hiking plans, but she is. She even offers to buy him bear boxes to keep his stuff in.

There’s no getting out of it, Ken has to go hiking. He starts practicing by hiking smaller hikes. Some are ok and some are awful. Some things are funny. There are aches and pains and accidents galore. Despite not having everything, Ken still enjoys his backpacking experiences.

What I liked

I like hiking so I liked this book, for the most part. Ken is funny, but he does talk about sex a whole lot.

I haven’t been backpacking, but I do know that it’s not as simple as throwing a water bottle and granola bars in a backpack and walking into the woods. It takes preparation. Ken’s story is a good lesson in taking the correct things and making adequate preparations for a long hiking trip.

What I didn’t like

While Ken is funny, sometimes it seems like a bit much.

There were times Ken was poorly prepared. Maybe he should have known better, but I don’t have enough experience to say whether or not he should have known better.


Pack your pack well.

Weigh in

Would you go backpacking?

If so, what is something frivolous you would take with you?

#922 The World’s Worst Backpacker by Ken La Salle was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#904 The Excellent 11 by Ron Clark

The Excellent 11 by Ron ClarkThe Excellent  11 by Ron Clark

Teacher, Ron Clark, has written a book explaining eleven qualities he thinks that adults should have in order to teach children. Ron has a story for each and every quality he thinks a person should have, sometimes there is more than one story. As the book progresses, the reader can tell that Ron really does care for his students. He wants them to succeed. There are a whole lot of times when normal methods just don’t cut it.

Ron suggests that people should be compassionate and enthusiastic. Children are people too and they deserve a certain amount of respect, but Ron also expects adults to follow through with punishments.

While public school isn’t the most ideal situation, there are certainly measures that can be taken to make education better.

What I liked

I have to commend Ron for his efforts. Public school sucks; anyone who sticks it out with a broken system to try to make the lives of children better, even just a few children, has a lot of determination and genuine concern for children. Most public school education is sub-par. I went to public school and the reason I succeeded was because I’m smarter than the average bear and can understand the traditional public school teaching methods fairly well. Not everyone succeeds in public school. Point is–Ron is a pretty great guy and what he says makes a whole lot of sense. I wish more teachers were like him.

What I didn’t like

I still think it’s a failing system. Sure, people like Ron make it a better system, in isolated instances, but everyone would have to be like Ron to improve the system. Everyone is not like Ron. I had some crappy teachers in school, mainly in middle school and high school. There were not many teachers who really tried in my experience. The sad thing is–I went to one of the top-rated public school systems in the state and it still wasn’t that great.


It’s just too bad all teachers aren’t like Ron.

Weigh In

Considering teachers who went out of their way to help kids understand and those who didn’t–what was the ratio between the two in your education experience?

Do you feel you got an adequate education in your school system?

#904 The Excellent 11 by Ron Clark was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#903 I Shouldn’t Even be Doing This by Bob Newhart

I Shouldn't Even be Doing This by Bob NewhartI Shouldn’t Even be Doing This by Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart used to have his own show, these days he guest stars on The Big Bang Theory from time to time as a washed-up television scientist. He’s always been a comedian, except for when he was an accountant. He started out small–writing funny skits to perform on stage or radio and eventually started working in casinos and then he got his own show that ran for six seasons. He’s also been in a few movies.

Through all of this, Bob has found things in life to observe and make fun of.

What I liked

I vaguely remember The Bob Newhart show. I don’t recall disliking it, but I would have been pretty young. Bob is a funny person. He’s not a raunchy comedian; he observes life and pokes fun at it. Sometimes, the best thing you can do in a bad situation is make fun of it. I admire Bob in the things I see him in on television these days. I think he just seems like a nice person.

What I didn’t like

The humor in the book isn’t laugh out loud, which is a little unfortunate, but it’s still humorous.


I wonder if Bob practiced his one-sided telephone conversations a lot.

Weigh In

Do you remember the Bob Newhart Show?

Do you like Bob on The Big Bang Theory?

#903 I Shouldn’t Even be Doing This by Bob Newhart was originally published on One-elevenbooks