Monday, March 8, 2021

February Favorites: Apollo, H.I.V.E., and People (Who are Hopefully Not Me) Dying in Caves

This was a February Failure. The kids and I LOVE Supernatural, but we could barely make it through just a few of these episodes, yikes.

 Syd told me that I would love the Trials of Apollo series. She encouraged me to re-read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and then to read the whole of the Heroes of Olympus series so that I would be caught up. She reassured me that no, we didn't ever have to talk about the Kane Chronicles; we can just pretend that they don't exist, blech.

She even waited to read the final book in the Trials of Apollo series so that I could read it at the same time, even though it took me months to get there.

And it was so worth it when in February, I dove into this series and read it all, the final one together with Syd:

Riordan's series sometimes take a while to pull together, so I did agree with several of my Girl Scouts (who offered their opinions after seeing me reading The Lightning Thief during our fall campout--THAT'S how long it's taken me!) that the first book, and arguably even into the second book, isn't the greatest or most compelling. But if you hang in there, which I did at Syd's encouragement, it suddenly gets REALLY good REALLY quickly. And although the series is solidly for children, I was surprised at some of the gritty, realistic themes that it explores. The handling of child abuse, from both the victim's perspective and from the perspectives of peers, felt real and important, as did the pervasive issue of parental neglect. And the books contain my absolute favorite type of character, the solid anti-hero who we love anyway and we hope he's good at heart even though he's terrible on the outside, but wouldn't you know it, he grows and changes and becomes awesome on the outside, as well. BUT he never forgets how terrible he used to be and he still has to continually deal with the ramifications of his prior behavior, while figuring out how to feel about the rest of his toxic family who behave the same way but definitely won't be growing and changing.

Here's what else I read in February!

Here are Will's favorite books from February:

I love how Will's mind slips seamlessly between children's sci-fi, vintage fantasy, and the classics. She's no snob, and although she does have distinct preferences, they're never decided by what genre or reading level a book is.

Here's what else she read in February!

I'm randomly obsessed with caves again, as writing lesson plans for a speleology study for Will reminded me of this long-held obsession. It's probably not the healthiest field of study, since at least half of my obsession actually revolves around cave disasters and how people die in caves. Remember Floyd Collins?

Yeah, that's what I'm mostly obsessed with. There are loads of local, incredibly dangerous caves near me, and I've spent a lot of useless time that I should have been spending doing something productive instead reading reports of people having disasters or near disasters in these caves, including one kid form our local university who got left inside a cave for something like three days after his caving club forgot him, and another nearby cave that yet more university students drowned in back in the 1970s. For the past three or so decades, statewide cave conservation groups have been encouraging local landowners to shut down casual trespassing into their caves, and some conservation groups have even been able to take over ownership of some caves. There's one local cave in particular that a conservation group bought the property for; I was curious about its exact location, so I got on Google Earth. On Google Earth, you can look at historical views, and it was so interesting to see a comparison between a 1991 satellite view of this location, in which the trail to the cave site is easy to see because the ground cover is completely beaten down to dirt and there are cars parked everywhere, to a view from this year, in which the trail to the cave and the area around it is now invisible, as green as the rest of the land. 

So along with my Google deep dives, and the literal college textbook on cave geology that I'm currently reading, I'm also revisiting the Thailand cave rescue story (for the THIRD time), with this awesome podcast series:

If you've read any of the books written by the rescuers, none of the information in the podcast is particularly novel, but the storytelling is very good. I usually listen to podcasts via Bluetooth speaker when I'm working with my hands AND the kids aren't working on school, and Will, especially, will occasionally pipe up with a comment from another room, where she's apparently listening as hard as I am. It's riveting!

The kids are a little less invested in this caver's YouTube channel that I keep watching, but I am not going to stop until I have seen every one of his practically narration-free cave videos!

My interest in speleology is kind of contradictory, as I have absolutely no interest in exploring caves myself. I'm claustrophobic, one of the many curses of an ill-spent childhood, and I have no desire to be the subject of a podcast or book about my ultimately unsuccessful rescue attempts. 

Do you remember that I'm also afraid of drowning?

So that's why it seems pretty obvious that of COURSE I'm taking my Girl Scout troop on a cave tour via kayak this weekend...

If you don't hear from me next Monday, Google "Cave Rescue Indiana" for the latest updates!

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