Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Nine bad blood brothers plus one loyal son banded together at Greenside Cafe for the final lab appointment of 2019 to donate what they could to the discussion.  Nary a phlebotomist in the house, but that did not prevent their erudite analysis of Theranos and Carreyrou:

Keith:  How to doom a start-up to failure?  Ensure no communication!   No negative comments allowed, no outside review. Elizabeth was briefed that she would have a 90% chance of success for each of 10 different things and she concluded that overall she has a 90% chance of success.  This is a cardinal sin statistically from the viewpoint of standard deviation.
Re the presentation: Too damn long; two many characters; author interviewed 140 people and crammed everyone into the story.  Grade:  B 
Rob E:  [pass]

Mike B:  I thought Carreyrou handled the material beautifully.  He purposely started his book with the 2006 report phoned back from Switzerland as seen through the eyes of Henry Mosley, the current CFO, that pharma giant Novartis loved the product, the trip was a great success!  Elizabeth returns elated, but her cadre of travelers have a different story, as Mosley squeezes from Shanuck Roy [the Stanford co-founder of Theranos, whom Wikipedia does not even mention today].  When Carreyrou confronts Elizabeth; you can't present faked evidence to our investors, she turns on him, and he is fired.  Great story, well presented by not giving away the ending and the personally frightening threats by Boies.  Certainly a cautionary tale.  B+

Dick Jensen:  I thoroughly enjoyed it -- thanks for choosing this book!  My test of a good book is if I forward it to my nephew, and this one will be heading to Utah.  A-

Jack F:  Fascinating story.  It is difficult to believe that she could dupe so many people.  Characters were interesting, and I thought he did a good job of telling the story:  A-

Kenny G:  This was a page scroller (the digital equivalent of a page turner).  I was pissed off by the Index.  Fascinating story and I really enjoyed it.  It made me think of my investments and how the Boards will tell you "next year" will be so much better.  A-

Bob W:  Probably the most interesting story I've read in decades.  His style was journalistic; could have been a newspaper article.  Good job of explaining what failure was about.  A

Charlie:  I found it fascinating.  A very good job of explaining why it didn't work.  Journalist news was excellent.  An A with no reservations.

Bob S:  We security lawyers are trained to smell a rat.  This story got me more and more depressed - it was just criminals, well written, a page turner.  I scooted through the PDF version in 4 to 5 days.  The momentum of the plot carried me to the final one third, which exposed his skills. and how he was able to verify that it was a scan.  His greatest help was Tyler Schultz.  Not as much oversight from government agencies.  B because not great literature, but great journalism.

Karl:   This was indeed journalism, not literature.
There are actually two well-told stories in this book: the story of Theranos and the story about writing the story of Theranos.  Both are fascinating.  I read the book twice, and in my first read of the book, I understood the Theranos story to be an important one, one that we’d be unable to avoid once the federal trial begins next summer.  Between then and now, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t just an important story, but a phenomenal one.
The evidence for this consists of:

  •      The two-hour PBS documentary on Elizabeth Holmes done several months ago;
  •         That there are not one but two movies planned, one to be starring A-lister, Jennifer Lawrence, and being co-screen written by John Carreyrou;
  •          That a Google search of “Elizabeth Holmes” on December 13th, generated 94.4 MM hits in less than a second; and
  •          According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal this October, nary a black turtleneck could be found in stores in the greater San Francisco area prior to Halloween because of the number of people who were planning to dress as Elizabeth Holmes for costume parties.
Carreyrou’s accounting of the 15-year saga of Theranos was obviously well-researched, and generally clear and well-written.  My one criticism – and it is significant – is that while each of the myriad of characters was introduced extremely well, when appearing later in the book they weren’t reintroduced carefully enough.  Too often, I couldn’t remember who they were when the showed up again after being absent for 30 or 40 pages. 
The Holmes-Theranos story begs a number of important questions to include: 

  • When did Holmes go from being a starry-eyed, idealistic, visionary to a fraudster and why?
  • Why was she able to win over so many smart, successful people, with virtually no supporting evidence other than her vision and personality?  
  • Why didn’t other bloodwork professionals raise concerns over what Theranos was claiming long before the government got involved? 
  • Why in the world did it take the regulatory agencies so long to investigate Theranos?  
  • Why did the generally suspicious media glom onto her as a hero so completely before the WSJ articles? 
I suspect that Bad Blood is just the first of several books that will be written on this topic and that it will become an excellent business school case study once all the facts are known and the trial (and likely appeals) have been completed.  This story will be around for quite a while and later accounts I suspect may try to address some of the currently unanswered questions.   A-

and for further stories online:

7-minute summary video includes 'the hero' Tyler Schultz;
Erika Cheung's story, the whistleblower on Theranos, at InspireFest 2019;
What's next for Elizabeth & Theranos?  [interview May 2018, when Carreyrou's book published]

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan.  Either we are surprised by Life or we surmise Life. 
Eight ancient Life planners staggered across the Four Hills Bridge and collapsed into the welcoming abode of Prof. Genoni.  There they endured the pain yet enjoyed the pan [44] and the Peruvian lucuma fruit ice cream.   But while they continued staring into one another’s face waiting for the miracle of science the pain grew worse.  They attempted to talk as one twin to another:

Karl:  When reading the electronic version I had the feeling that I was reading an abridged version. So, upon completion, I bought a hard copy. They were essentially the same. It’s a worthy Pulitzer Prize contender. It seems to be a thoughtful, well-crafted book.
Yet, I read it with the same detachment with which the narrator delivered it. That troubled me, as I’d expected to be more drawn in based on the book’s longevity and popularity. The story had more of a journalistic approach than a literary one – to me – despite all of its literary acclaim. Not a tour de force, but an historically important book, and certainly a worthwhile read.  B+

Keith:  Brother Juniper set out to prove Theology was a Science; he was doomed from the start but eventually got fired up.  B+

Charlie:  The author was trying to be literary - I need more than that; the book was unnecessarily complex and obscure.  I am not a religious individual, and I don't care about theology.  C

Bob S:  Not a professional type.  Well-written; the plot and character development was superb.  One thing I note in a book:  is the narrator's voice in present tense or past?  It is intriguing if set in a period where the verbiage is set.  The writing in places was outstanding.  A-

Mike B:  The two great themes of literature are death and relationships [I hesitate to say Love, as the author asks, "how many would be in love if they had never heard of the concept of Love?"].  This book started with death, an unemotional drop, yet one can see why Tony Blair referred to this book in his 9-11 remarks:  only two instances when we see 'innocent people' drop, flailing to their death.  Then the author goes on to give us the relationships.  Clever writing prompt, beautifully executed. A-

Kenny G:  I agree with Charlie; I don't have a religious background.  I found the book confusing and boring.  Books such as this are why I went into Science, not English.  C

Bob W:  I found it as three individual books, none of which came to a conclusion.  The author's choice of English phrasing is beautiful.  As an overall completion, I found it not quite finished.  A-

Tom G:  I agree with Mike:  an exercise in writing.  This is an instance in which people bring up unanswerable questions - yet philosophy like this is crap.  The author's prose is wonderful - I always felt I read good literature for prose, not for plot or character development.  A-

And from far north of Peru:
I really enjoyed reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The characters were interesting though flawed. The book was well written. It has a powerful message about the power of love. I suspect that a reader would get new insights with each reading of this book. Grade: A
   -  Dick J.

I am once again spending the month of November on one of the Golden Isles of Georgia. And as I kick back on our balcony and look past the 656-foot Hyundai auto carrier, Golden Ray, capsized in the middle of Saint Simons Sound out toward the Sidney Lanier Bridge (the longest bridge in all Georgia), I can't help but think about Brother Juniper's struggle to understand the mystery of God. Was it an accident or was it God's intention to send 4,200 Hyundais and Kias to the bottom of the sea? Was the poet of the Confederacy, Sidney Lanier, really struggling to articulate the mystery of God's plan when he wrote "The Marshes of Glynn"? 
Whether the direction of our lives is part of God's plan or not, I find Wilder's exploration of the role love plays as a "bridge" to memory fascinating. I have read The Bridge of San Luis Rey at least three times over the course of 60 years and I am always intrigued by the role the Abbes plays in each of the characters' lives and by her thoughts at the very end of the novel. It is a haunting story which Wilder tells well. I understand why it is considered a classic in American literature. I wish I could join in on the discussion. A
   -  Jack

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Field Trip: Las Vegas (NM)

Thursday 24 October 2019 - Saturday 26 October 2019

Harvey Girls gather in the Castaneda Bar with
Kathy Hendrickson, Indian Courier for Southwest Detours
What an adventure! To think that our book club members (and wives and lovers - together for the first time ever) were treated to the most delightful evening at the Hotel Castaneda before others had the privilege --- even the Harvey Family(!) — speaks to LTBC persuasive powers, plus our sense of history and legacy.

The delightful Katey Sinclair, our host for our Private Dinner 
Some delightful feedback from one of the aforementioned wives:  "We thoroughly enjoyed everything — a marvelous dinner, the talented Chef Sean, the charming Katey, the beautiful venue, the behind-the scenes kitchen tour, and the camaraderie with new-found friends!

"An outstanding job of organizing the whole event. You were the most gracious host and knowledgeable tour guide. We thank you for dreaming up such an event (and including the wives)! It truly was unforgettable! Bonnie, as usual, you were your charming self and so damn funny. (You’re our own Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!) Everyone felt so welcomed and comfortable thanks to your endearing personality.

"We will certainly write a note to Allan Affeldt. (impressive that he took our group on the hotel tour; I am sorry I missed it, but I desperately needed that extra hour of sleep!)  Encouraging others to visit Las Vegas is high on my agenda — certainly because of the two of you — but also because of the work that Mr. Affeldt has done to capture the history of such an interesting city. What a legacy!"

Don Quixote, who also was in big trouble
 for excessive reading, oversaw the LTBC meeting.
The charming Sheila was all-too-kind to mention our tour to Montezuma's Castle, which gained no entry to the once proud destination hotel and resulted in being evicted from the "open to the public" Dwan Light Sanctuary by a scrawny yoga girl in ill-fitting tights.  Thanks, don't mention it.

Furthermore, we gained entry into the Carnegie Library, since 1906 the only such operating in the state (Raton's having been burned down, and Roswell's having been shuttered up).  We traversed down into the kid's room of the basement in keeping with our proud [as once stated by charter member Gary Ganong] Tradition of "A traveling group of pedophiles" and no one came forward to evict us here.  A victory of sorts.

Discussion comments on the book Appetite for America are available here.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Appetite for America by Stephen Fried (2010)

The Southwest Chief Train #4 was heading from Albuquerque to Las Vegas with the Last Thursday Book Club aboard, on their way to a meeting at the Hotel Castaneda, the first in 78 years.  As the train chugged into the station, the following comments were overheard:

Jack:  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and learned a hell of a lot.  Fried is a true storyteller.  I will recommend this book to friends.  A

Tom:  I agree - his style made it easy to read.  I knew nothing about Fred Harvey.  I am still bummed out about the demolition of the Alvarado.  A

Karl:  This is a good book. It’s interesting and informative. It’s apparently very well-researched. The writing style is crisp and clear. The book is organized logically and the narrative flows smoothly. The amount of information provided is huge, yet not overwhelming. It is well-written. While endeavoring to tell a story about a real family and its family businesses, it also sheds quite a bit of light on the growth of the American west from the mid-to-late 19 th century through the mid-20th century.

There are a couple of omissions that I wish had been included in the book. The first has to do with some of the Harvey business locations being shuttered under Ford and Freddy’s leadership. Who made those decisions? Why? And How? This is typically something not seen of a company during the “empire building” phase of its existence. The second has to do with the lack of detail of the end of the Harvey businesses and why the Harvey name fell out of our collective consciousness. Given the Fred-Ford-Freddy contributions to American business and the other famous folks with whom they came in contact, that they’re not much better known is a surprise to me. Some understanding of why that’s the case would have been a good way to conclude the book.

Those two issues aside, the book is one I’d recommend to anyone who might have a passing interesting in the era, the location, trains, or business development. This would be a good book for an enterprising business school to recommend to its students.  A

Charlie:  Agree.  A-

Rob E:  Really good.  I thought Jack would mention the Chapter Titles.  Starting with the Las Vegas chapter titles, it was in the 1970s when the Alvarado was demolished.  Among the several history books we've read, this was perhaps the best done, by stringing together bits yet they all read smoothly.  Some of his wording was beautiful:  "God's early sketches for the Grand Canyon."  He captured me there.
Great appreciation of New Mexico.  Fred Harvey's management style was not Sandia's management style - enjoyed reading of his methods of keeping tack of data, food, details.  Nice to see a history book that was reader friendly.  A

Bob WoodsA.  I read the whole thing, which is indicative of its quality of writing for me.

Bob SimonA-   Great book.  I liked the factoids, such as the Rough Riders were gathered here.

Mike B:  I didn't choose this book, it chose me.  Easterlings had tickets to the Aug 2016 "An Evening With Fred Harvey" which they gave to Bonnie and me, and the guest lecturer taught from Fried's book.  Bonnie bought it and read it and recommended it.  When the Castaneda was going to open ... well, the rest is history.
Great job by the author - now I know to blur the distinction between historians and investigative journalists.  Very interesting writing, did not stay on any one 'side subject' too long, the story moved well through the three generations.  A

[Tom G redux]:  Kenny G would hopefully have found this nit-pick:   "nearby Roswell..." - say what?
"Teddy Roosevelt Alcove" - approaching balcony overlooking courtyard at Hotel Castaneda, 
Las Vegas, NM.  Site from which Gov. Teddy Roosevelt addressed the Reunion of the San Juan Rough Riders, 1899. 
[Source:  Appetite for America, ISBN 978-0-553-38348-5, pages 154-157]
Field Trip comments are available here.

and from well beyond the Rough Riders Reunion alcove:
Here is my review of Appetite for America. After reading it I am sorry that I will miss the meeting to discuss it.
Thank you for choosing Appetite for America. I really enjoyed the book. It is well researched and quite well written. The book makes a strong case that Fred Harvey made a significant impact on the development of the American West. I learned a great deal of new information about the West. I must admit that I knew little about Fred Harvey before reading the book.
The book is also an excellent study in the history and development of an organization. The company was founded by a creative individual, was sustained by an excellent administrator after the death of the founder, and the organization floundered because there was no one in the family capable of leading the organization after the death of Ford Harvey. The logical leader was a woman and her leadership was not acceptable at the time--her gender certainly would make no difference today.

The book is full of interesting information. That is both a strength and also a weakness. At times in the second half of the book the author included interesting facts but they were often not necessary. At times I found myself plowing through information that could have been left out.
  I will pass the book on to my nephew in Utah to read and share with others.  Grade A-
Well-known Editor (Fair Condition,
Some Pages Missing
) and Author
(Appetite for America) meet for the first time
 in Castaneda Bar, Las Vegas, NM, October 2019.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

Nine native American wannabees gathered in the twilight outside the parkside hogan to drink a bottle of 2016 De Ponte Pinot Noir in order to connect to Abel and his buddies, although this bottle was more than $3.00.  They sang the old songs and spoke of poetry, fiction, and the intersection of the two found in the Kiowa chants and stories. 

Dick JB

Mike: Cheap joke: Abel was unable - however, Abel was not disabled. As Benally relates, he was unlucky. Later Benally admits the truth - it was too late for Abel. And there was no ketoh. Bob Woods said the writing reminded him of Hemingway and I see that with Book 3, especially with that narration embedded in italics: told by Abel about Life with Grandfather. Beautiful memoir, realizing he knew Abel wanted to go to the trading post.
There was a girl at Cornfields one summer. This third section was beautifully done. B.

Tom:  The book picked up for me in Part 3.  I thought the plan of  going to the mesa "for the last time:" was a plan for suicide.  B-

Karl:  When I saw the September selection on the LTBC list, I was very much looking forward to reading the book. I was quickly disappointed, though that may, in part, be due to such high expectations.
The first section is what happens when a poet tries to write prose. It’s awful. The descriptive phrases, similes, and metaphors trample the narrative rather than enhance it or give it color or depth or emotion. It does lend some credence to my theory that any book that attempts to maximize the average sum of the number of adjectives, adverbs, similes, and metaphors per page – regardless of how inane or absurd – can become a candidate for the Pulitzer. I wanted to quit reading the book several different times during its first 76 pages.
 The second, two-date section was better, though I’m puzzled by its first chapter. The second one seemed almost autobiographical of the author. I wondered about that.
 The third and fourth sections, I thought, were much better written than the first. I was quite engaged most of the time reading them. I found the jumping around of narrator and time period somewhat confusing in places, though the Italics helped a bit. I don’t understand the ending at all.
  For such a dark book, where it’s quite likely that the most frequently-used adjective is “black,” the title seems somewhat incongruous. I accept that it’s quite possible that I missed the entire point of the book.   C+

Bob S:  Momaday’s beautiful description of the land around Jemez Pueblo resonated with my experiences of driving through the Pueblo and the Jemez River Valley and eating tamales within the embracing walls of red rock canyon.  This was real to me just as is my memory of standing at the edge of the Middle watching the lines of clans slowly dance across the Middle in front of the large kiva on a feast day in their traditional regalia. That immediate physical connection to the land and culture that exists at Abel’s psychic core was real to me as Momaday described it.
  Momaday’s description of the Indian peyote ceremony resonated with my experiences of taking psychedelics in the late 60’s; the visions and loving connections with those you are tripping with were real to me. I wonder if he was tripping in the late 60’s when I was; yet another connection.
   Reverend Tomasah’s poetic cadence about the teachings of John and the “Word” connected me to my memories and feelings I hold for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac’s poetics, those beat hipsters of the early 50’s in “Howl” and On the Road. I dug the whole thing, except for the ancient religious chronicles.
   I will thank Keith eternally for choosing this book.  A


Bob WB.  At times read like Hemingway.

Rob E:  I was very drawn in right from the Prologue.  Growing up in Oklahoma, I had friends who took me into the reservation - I enjoyed the chants, the drums.  Much of this is in the Jemez.  C

Keith:  Most of my comments have been laid out.  An apt description is the inability to integrate into the white man's civilization; to leave the reservation, get stabilized, and then go back. A-

... and from far off the reservation:

Kaixo from Navarre, Spain. We are walking in the Basque Pyrenees, enjoying the landscape and the people, whose traditions are tied to their bloodline and the land in much the same way as the native people Momaday depicts in his writing. Sorry I won't be able to join in the discussion on Thursday. I would love to have shared my experience here and talk about how it compares with what I have experienced with the Jemez people.

 I found House Made of Dawn very powerful. I had the feeling that Abel's story was going to be a tragic one from the very beginning and in a sense it was, but his return to New Mexico and his rebirth at the end was a breath-catching relief for me. He was alone and running at the beginning and although he remained alone throughout the telling of his story, it was only at the end that he could run and "see" again.

Momaday's ability to use words to paint a landscape and create a mood is remarkable. I am convinced that even if I were not familiar with the area in and around the Jemez Mountains, I could still clearly visualize the landscape Momaday describes. I have never read any of his poetry, but I can imagine how he could elicit strong emotions in his poems. He is a master of the language. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, who enjoys experiencing the power of words and to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of native people.  A

Regards, Jack

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Book Club Meeting on August 29, 2019

Charlie introduced the meeting to Geraldine Brooks.  She was a war correspondent who met her husband, an American, overseas and married and decided to settle down and raise a family at the age of 38.

She was Australian and went to journalism school at Columbia, graduating in 1983.

Dick – It is a depressing subject.  There were lots of archaic words I did not understand.  I learned a lot of words.
I did not think about the book after I read it both times I read it. I enjoyed it but it did not leave much of an impression.

I looked at an interview with the author and she commented on the heroic efforts made by so many people in the situation.

Jack – the situation gets worse and worse still, but that held my attention. 

Tom – the last paragraph was a slight bone The book should have ended when she and the Vicar waved goodbye.

Charlie – no plot, just a lot of anecdotal events.

Keith – Depressing.  I don’t which was more depressing. Caleb’s Crossing or this book.  In Caleb’s Crossing the dying woman describes her life.

Bob – each of her books has a connection to an historic document.  In this case it was the Dryden poem.

Tom – is this creative non-fiction?  The incidents described are true with the insertion of a plot into those events.

Bob - she tries to relate experiences from the viewpoint of the narrators in her stories.  This is like the style of writing as Wilkie Collins in the Moonstone who shifts the awareness and dialect of narrators as the plot line shifts from place to place.

Dick – It is really a love story. Her love interests shift through the story from medicine (and a model of an independent woman, my thought) to the preacher and the preacher’s wife, and finally to the love of a new culture and new profession.

Tom – But, it also shows lots of evil in persons, such as her father and Colonel Bradford.

Bob – I would probably be permanently maddened if I was keel hauled.

Dick – The book shows how a desperate situation brings out the best and the worst in persons by contrasting their responses to the situation.  Also, these were lead miners, not many lived to old age and lead may have had an effect on their brains and bodies.

Jack – I had a German friend in Stuttgart.  After WWII, he made money by salvaging lead from destroyed buildings, mainly the lead supports in leaded glass windows.

I liked the length of chapters and how the book was divided into three chapters.  The first part was Leaf Fall, the second part was Spring, although Spring seemed to last for over one year through most of 1665 and 16 chapters and finally another Leaf Fall. Apple picking time is the sole chapter in the latter Leaf Fall part. Each chapter’s title appears somewhere in the text of the chapter.


Dick – tough to grade.  Parts I liked and parts depressed me.  I enjoyed her other two books.   B

Keith – She was telling a story, it had no plot   C

Tom – The title implies to me God’s biblical words to Moses, “Thou shall do my wonders” when God was referring to the among other terrible thing the plague on the first born of each Egyptian family.  B+

Rob – creative, she created a plot around old times.  I made me wonder why bad things happen to good people.  The book turned out to be theological for me
It described real people in a bad situation.  B

Bob S. – It is a good book, I enjoyed the period writing and the insight into the thinking of the people as they were confronted by the events happening to them.  I particularly enjoyed her education in medicinal herbs, which seems to me interesting when compare to the butchery by barbers, as a prelude to modern medicine.  A-

Karl – This was a nice read about an interesting topic. I particularly enjoyed the language, style, and period vocabulary. I can think of only one other book (that being a medical text) for which I had to look up more words than I did for this one. On the downside, Anna was a bit too much of a superwoman for believability. Saving the girl's mine in one day was the event that stretched my ability to believe beyond my capacity. And the fairy-tale ending, though nice, was a bit far-fetched. Still, a worthwhile read.  B

Jack – A bit of a soap opera.  She is a good storyteller.  I like her style of writing.
She created an interesting story.  B+

Charlie – I enjoy historic fiction.  I have read lots of plague related material, but this was the first book that really described what plague was like.  The ending did not make sense.  A-


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Nine erstwhile physicists gathered for the last time at Ventana del Sol and had the following comments:

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman
“Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.” 
― Richard P. Feynman
One doesn’t hear the term Renaissance Man thrown around in this modern day of specialists – it is usually used to describe those in the past such as Leonardo da Vinci or even Michelangelo. Prof. Genoni would probably nominate Dr. Benjamin Franklin; Ben Smith may even have suggested Sherlock Holmes.  The relevant description is “unquenchable curiosity.” 
Reading Richard Feynman’s charming autobiography, one sees all the attributes:  A strong curiosity for all of Life and the willingness to spend time and effort to investigate all sciences – from physics to bongos to medicine.   Who better than Feynman to entertain his dying wife by encapsulating her in his anti-censor code schemes. 
I truly believe such individuals are born, not made – their inherent desire and drive cannot be controlled, it can only be enjoyed at a distance. 
I would love to hear the story of how he came to writing this book – was it another inward driving force, or the curiosity of what it would take to capture science in a reputedly non-scientific book.  Regardless, he succeeded.
We have all written our own memoirs, our own short autobiographical pieces, and thus we can appreciate what Feynman has captured here.  And you know he is having fun telling the stories, as personified by his liberal use of exclamation marks – I think perhaps half of which were deleted by his editor.  The cover photo is a great one, and is captured in words by his student’s foreword.
 The Sapiens species is propelled forward by such energy, such curiosity, such willingness to go the extra effort – for a laugh or a discovery.  More cowbell, please!  B+
  If I had my way, every child would be sent two quotes:  the “Hello, babies! Welcome to Earth!” quote from Kurt Vonnegut at birth, and this one from Feynman at puberty, or whenever the kid is first asked, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”:
“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all.” 
― Richard P. Feynman