Ukraine? In winter? I think I spent two months explaining to everyone who heard about it just why I was going to Ukraine on vacation over the holidays. But I had a good reason. My wife Kathleen is stationed there as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer. Peace Corps Response recruits experienced professionals with specific technical skills to provide short term (6mos – 1 year) support to a community in need. Kathleen left for Ukraine in early September last year and is completing a nine month project at the Ternopil Regional Center on Education and Rehabilitation, a school for children with disabilities.
Had a flashback to grade school today. I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade. We were on the playground for recess. We started to play a game. I don’t remember us giving it a name. Maybe my memory fails me, maybe I’m just blocking it. If we did give it a name, that name was surely “Smear the Queer”. You know the game - you were a kid once. The leaders of the gang would call out someone’s name, and the mob would chase them, and of course the mob would catch them, because a mob does.
When I was growing up, my Dad was the chief of our local volunteer fire department. In 1st grade, we made a visit to the fire department, and then as grade school classes do, followed up with hand-written thank you notes. My folks saved the collection that my class donated, and recently gifted them to me. I took a little time this weekend and scanned the whole works. Sadly, I must admit, my handwriting has possibly gotten worse since 1st grade.
The Circle by Dave Eggers My rating: [5 of 5 stars](http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/768164111) This is really a great and timely book. I think it demonstrates the best of fiction, science fiction especially, in that it posits a believable scenario that asks us to think about the world we live in from a different viewpoint. While we see millions of people adopting social media tools fairly rapidly, I think very few average users give much thought to what happens when a great amount of data is aggregated.
All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean My rating: [5 of 5 stars](http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/726373279) This was a phenomenal telling of the story of the financial crisis. It's not a short read, but as the authors point out, it wasn't a simple crisis. There are a lot of players and a LOT of arcane jargon. But McLean and Nocera do a great job of explaining things, and they keep the story interesting.
The Belmont High class of ‘86 lost its first classmate this week, one of our best. Curt Novinski was visiting friends over Labor Day weekend when he began to feel ill. A visit to the hospital led to emergency brain surgery for a brain bleed, and he never recovered from surgery. As is the case with death at our age, it was unexpected, sudden, and leaves all of us stunned and saddened.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman My rating: [5 of 5 stars](http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/681288830) Another great read from one of my favorite authors. It's been several years since Neil Gaiman has written an adult novel. This one, clearly prompted by a trip home for his own father's funeral, is the story of a Gaiman-esque young man visiting his childhood home. The visit prompts reminiscence of a fantastical experience he had with the family living at the end of his lane when he was a boy.
Review: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead1 min read Ireland
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown My rating: [5 of 5 stars](http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/656947363) This book is a must-read for, well, everyone. Brown has done some incredibly thorough research to help us all understand some very difficult issues - shame and vulnerability. Tough topics. But she presents her ideas in a very readable form, with a lot of great first-hand stories to illustrate what she's discussing.