I've started a hitchhiking trip across the country to meet people and talk to scientists conducting cool research. The blog is called The Joy of Lex.

Click here to read this mailing online.

Your email updates, powered by FeedBlitz

Here is a sample subscription for you. Click here to start your FREE subscription

"A Blond Scientist in India" - 5 new articles

  1. the next adventure
  2. last post
  3. from a freedom fighter
  4. home to my books
  5. 9177480323

the next adventure

I've started a hitchhiking trip across the country to meet people and talk to scientists conducting cool research. The blog is called The Joy of Lex. 

last post

My adventures abroad have ended and I declare this blog CLOSED. Here's my new blog about life in the rotten apple:


from a freedom fighter

I've talked about my friend Tenzin Choedon before. She's a nurse who graduated from college and started her new job just before the start of the March to Tibet. She only worked at this hospital for a month before the March called her to say they had no one else to watch the health of the marchers. They said they needed her. She had a hard decision. If she quit her job, they would hold her nursing certificate until she paid a penalty worth a year of pay. She decided she would rather work for her country's freedom. She left the job and spent the next three months attending the aches, blisters and general health of the marchers on the March to Tibet. After three months, the march disintegrated in the face of extreme opposition from the Indian police and Tenzin had no where to turn. After staying in Dharamsala with the Che Guerva of Tibetan freedom, Tenzin Tsundue, she finally had to return home. This is what this dedicated freedom fighter wrote recently:

Back home for now,
sleeping in my cosy bed
thick mat and warm blanket
no more hiding...
no more hungry...
i am free now,
free from the indian jail.
free from the march,
the protest.
free from my patients,
free with my family,
but really?
i am happy with my family,
but in alien land.
i get to eat well,
while my brothers die of huger.
i protest and get a night in jail.
my sisters protest and gets death.
so no more fake freedom...
no more pain and crying ....
keeping faith in 'never giving up"
i stand up for my land.
forever till my last breath.
BHOD GYA LO !!! (Victory to Tibet)

home to my books

Back in the States. I have actually gone up to my book depository and simply sat there admiring them. I missed having my books for those 8 months. This means I better jump on the bandwagon I've been seeing around the Interwebs and put up the list of the top 100 books that's been floating around.

Everybody is supposed to do post this on their blog for reasons unknown to me. I just wanted to show off that I read more than half of them. The Big Read says that US adults have only read an average of 6 books on this list.

The Legend:
Read it

Started it

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (great movie too)

6. The Bible (I don’t want to ruin the ending but the bad guys lose)

7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (see London, England)

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller (the funniest book I know)

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (I might have the Jabberwocky tattooed on my back)

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (my parents got all of our names from this book)

32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (we read these together out loud after dinner for a long time)

34. Emma - Jane Austen

35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (I stole it from a nice little restaurant in India and got my only food poisoning of the India trip, damn karma)

40. Winnie the Pooh -

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (not only should this not be on the list, it shouldn’t be in public libraries)

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (one of the best I know if you can keep the names straight, it gets tough as he travels through a few generations of a family where every male has the same name as his father and grandfather)

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving (I like Irving but he repeats his themes way too much, enough about wrestling, open marriages and the guy letting the animals out of the Vienna zoo in WWI only to get eaten by the lion)

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (a master of characterization)

48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan (second worst book on the list)

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (another great movie, I love Peter Sellers)

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (with the only opium induced wet dream I have ever read, three greek godess statues coming to life sounds pretty great to me)

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac (captured the go go go spirit of the 50’s in Neal Cassady, I liked his Dharma Bums best which captured the spirit of the 60’s in Gary Snyder)

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding

69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stoker

73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (for some reason we have three copies of this depressing book floating around our house, who keeps buying it?)

77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal - Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry (another master of characters with an amazing eye for the details of India)

87. Charlotte's Web - EB White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (gets a little repetitive)

90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down - Richard Adams (inspired the wonderful Redwall series)

95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (a damn funny book published after the kid who wrote it died and his mother got lucky enough to find an editor who bothered to read the manuscript that turned out to be quite clever)

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo



I love Nevin. He's the father of my friend Kerri Koch who's engaged to my buddy Kurt. I actually asked her out first during our sophomore year of high school but it turned out that she wanted to go to prom with Kurt instead. She wanted someone clever and kind instead of annoying and wrongly convinced of his own hilarity. Go figure. I stopped by Kurt and Kerri's new house and found Nevin hard at work.

He's a great white haired guy with arms like Popeye and a knack for the Mennonite game. PA terminology corner: When playing the Mennonite game, you try to find out how everybody is related to everyone else, where they grew up, where they work, who married who and whose father used to run the general store that became a restaurant ran by the son of the guy who used to live on E Main St that ran an electrical business that shut down twenty years ago. It's complicated and you win by knowing everything. Nevin knows everything.

He has an inside track because in 1955, he began reading the water meters for our town. It meant he had to go into the basement of every single house in Lititz. Naturally with our friendly community, he talked to alot of people and obtained alot of valuable information for the Mennonite game. He also mentioned that back then, almost everybody left their door open so he could walk into the empty house to read their water meter. He said he doesn't find open doors anymore. Ah, the good old days.

He asked me about my recent travels. After the normal short synopsis, I told him, "it's time to head back to NYC because I'm flat broke but it was worth it."
"Yeah", he says, "you have to do it now while you're not tied down." Then he starts telling me about his adventure year of 1964. He went to British Columbia for a year with a buddy. By helping an old mountain man gather hay "more like swamp grass", they got a cabin 25 miles outside town. The best part: no roads. In winter, it could take two days to snowshoe into town for supplies. They didn't need much though. They spent almost all their time hunting and fishing. During the summer, he shot moose and deer, caught a lot of trout and even bagged a small bear. In winter, they trapped and shot red squirrels. If you got the sucker in the head, you could get 60 cents for the pelt. They shot 360 squirrels that winter. That's a hell of a lot of good shooting. He even once trapped a lynx that brought in twenty bucks for the coat (that's 33.3 squirrels if you're keeping score at home). It sounded like an amazing way to while away a year.

He went back with Kerri 33 years later. He found the mountain man and former professional ice hockey player who rented them the cabin. Unfortunately, he couldn't remember Nevin because he almost lost his life in a grizzly attack that apparently made him a little soft in the head. We agreed that it's hard to find tough old birds like that mountain man but fascinating once you do.

That prompted me to tell Nevin about meeting the toughest guy I know. On a trip to Arkansas to visit my buddy and teacher of all things redneck, Nat Sumers, we went for a mule ride with the a local mountain man and some of his friends. He spent his entire life with horses and mules. By trimming their hooves, shoeing them and breaking them, he makes enough to scrape out a happy little existence in a shack surrounded by his favorite quadrupeds. On the ride that day, he rode a half wild horse that he was breaking in for someone. Nat, a good horseman himself, said he wouldn't take a half wild horse on these trails. To make it more interesting, this horse whisperer hitched two completely wild horses to his saddle with lead ropes to begin the process of breaking them in. Now that's tough. A half-broken horse with two completely wild ones attached. With this impressive display of prowess we set off on our ride.

After about an hour of leisurely beer drinking, talking and riding, we stopped for our first piss break. When he got off his half wild horse, the other two started freaking out, jumping and kicking all over the place. When they settled down, he was in the middle of a tangled knot of horses. One had its legs off the ground, wrapped in a lead rope while one had its front end completely over the last horse. A sticky situation because its easy for a horse to break its leg in those positions. He calmly starts untying ropes and slowly rearranging the horses. After a minute, something spooks them again and they start going wild. Right in the middle of the bunch, he narrowly misses a kick to the head before they settle down again. Then he delivers my favorite line of the week in his Arkansas drawl, "Well, I reckon I ought to put down my beer."

I'm proud to say my story got a laugh out of Nevin with his great infectious chuckle. Because of men like him, it's fun to be home in Lititz.

I just realized I used the post title to save Asa Wilks' number. I can't think of a better tittle anyway so I'll leave it in. Call him and tell him he smells like a monkey.

You Might Like

Safely Unsubscribe ArchivesPreferencesContactSubscribePrivacy