Sunday, August 05, 2007

Big Projects' Summer Entry

Labor day is just around the corner. In less than 30 days, kids would be going back to school and leaves will start to turn their colors. So what do Big Projects suggests for the next few weeks? We suggest for you to recharge and renew. It is not too late for a quick get away and it need not be expensive. Here are some tips to get you ready for the next season.

Get Your Summer Reading Going
I started my summer reading quite late myself. However, it is never too late. I would suggest you head to your local coffee shop and bury yourself in books that will inspire and renew your spirit. Here are my five summer books that I have read, is reading and will be reading in the next few weeks:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. I am a Potter fan, so reading the hundreds of pages was not labor extensive. I'll spare everybody the review on this book since it has been posted all throughout the www since it arrived in stores last July 21. Just found the ending a little bit cheesy for fans who have grown up with the book.
  2. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. This is my current read right now. Took me the entire first letter and the first half of the second letter to understand the premise of the book and how it is to be read. This would be the first CS Lewis book I ever read and I'm starting to like his way of story telling. This book was suggested to me by Sarah G. of NY.
  3. Becoming Who You Are by James Martin, SJ. This book was suggested by Rebecca M. She had me read one part of a chapter, got so curious about where that part was coming from and where it was leading to that I decided to buy the book.
  4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have been wanting to read this book for the longest from great reviews from friends and having heard quotes from him and the book over and over again. So, when I was buying books for my summer reading, I decided to pick this one up myself.
  5. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse as translated by Hilda Rosner. I don't know the premise of the book yet, but due to raving reviews by Marianne D. and her lending me her copy, this tops my 5 books for summer.

I have listed all these books in Amazon.com as one list to make buying easier for you.

I'll re-post in the next month or so as to my take on the last four books.

Listen to Podcasts
You don't have to have an Ipod to listed to podcasts and it doesn't mean that you'd have to stay in front of a computer to listed to them as well. I have gathered some links below to help listen to podcasts no matter what type of MP3 player you might have.

For Ipod and Itunes user check the guide a guy named Rodney Rumford created by clicking on this link: http://blog.podblaze.com/public/item/113523

For other MP3 players, it would take a little bit of downloads and stuff, but it is rather straight forward if you already know how to put music into your players. Podcastingnews.com has a compiled lists of software that allows you to automatically receive downloadable podcasts. Check out the link at http://www.podcastingnews.com/topics/Podcast_Software.html. Check out the software Juice Receiver (http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php). Screens are simple and very user friendly.

But what are Podcasts and what good are they? Podcasts are generally "radio shows" that are published on the world wide web that can be downloaded and listened to at anytime. Podcasts ranges from Political commentaries, scholastic reviews, Spiritual and Faith Conversations, Foreign Language classes and a whole lot more. Take podcasts with you on your commute to work or that cardio work out at the treadmills. These small bits of information streamed to you could be an enriching as grabbing a book on these topics.

Check out http://bigprojects.org/links.html for my suggested Podcasts. The ones that I frequently listen to ranges from Effective Management Tips (http://www.managers-tools.com/) to enriching my connection with my faith through http://www.bustedhalo.com/ podcasts.

Go to a Retreat
A retreat need not be a set on a glamorous Caribbean beach spot or even be as expensive as a Beverly Hills Spa. A retreat in the middle of Central Park with a good book, a picnic blanket and maybe sparkling cider (I'm not sure if they allow wine in the parks here in NY) would be a great way to unwind for a day. Or if you have a couple of days to spare, you can head down to small communities in the middle of nowhere to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. One suggestion for the East Coast dwellers would be Jim Thorpe, PA (http://www.jimthorpe.org/). A charming little town in Pennsylvania where you enjoy the simpler offerings of life.

This year, I went on a spiritual retreat to energize my mind, body and soul. The Paulist Mission of North American sponsors this Young Adults Retreat through their Young Adult Ministry with BustedHalo.com. This year, I find myself in the middle of Oak Ridge, NJ in the vast retreat house of the Paulist Fathers with around 40 young adults in their 20's and 3o's. A great weekend of connecting with like minds and growing your network of friends and spiritual support as we face issues that affects us and our communities. Their next retreat is scheduled on November 9 - 11, 2007. Visit www.BustedHalo.com/retreats to learn more about upcoming schedules of the Retreats.

Go on a Vacation
We might not have time to have a lavish European vacation (due to time and the high currency exchange rates) but with a few hops and jumps we can find yourself enjoying the great and historic country that we have. A day trip in Boston from NY would costs you around $150. That will include your round trip Greyhound bus for about $55, a Duck Tour Boat Ride for around $30, your day pass for the trains and buses for $9, which leaves you with $56 left for lunch at McCormick&Schmick's, a Boston Red Sox souvenir shirt (of just buy a plain Boston shirt would do) and maybe grabbing some Boston Beans while you are at it. To make your day trip cheap yet fun, I suggest to take your courageous friends along for the Freedom Trail walk. It will be a long day of walking, so end your day with the Duck Tour to relax and see the city from the river. I suggest that you buy your Duck Tour tickets in advance to avoid missing the chance if it ever sells out.

Summer's end may be fast approaching, but it doesn't mean giving up on some R&Rs. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

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