Vernon Howard, a self-help guru, penetrated many people's lives with a simple message: "There is a way out of human suffering, and any earnest person can find it." Howard taught that the way to conquer loneliness, depression and other ailments of the heart and mind was through honest self-evaluation, among other things.
Katherine Pascal, a follower of Howard's philosophy, said his self-improvement methods changed her life. She was introduced to his teaching 25 years ago by a man she was seeing at the time. Ever since then, she has followed Howard's directions on how to live and found them immensely helpful. Over the years, she has encouraged many other people to get involved with Howard's teaching, and she thinks a big reason he has so much appeal is that when he would talk about his ideas, he would simplify the concepts so that everyone, whether they were highly educated or not, could understand the points he was making.
One thing that Howard talked about that made a lot of sense to Pascal was the idea that when you have a problem in one area of your life, it overlaps into all the others. Once a person conquers those troublesome parts of their lives, they usually find that things are better all-around for them.
"An integrated person is successful in all areas," Pascal said.
Pascal encourages others to come and hear about Howard's life techniques because it has helped her so much. She said when she first heard him speak on the topic of living a better life, she had a feeling of finally being understood and "coming home."
"It's not a secret. You can have a decent life where you look forward to every day," Pascal said.
Admission to the presentation by Tom Russell is $3. For more information, check out www.anewlife.org. --S.B.
The world of drug-running is populated with seedy, desperate and often shameless people, as evidenced by author and journalist Charles Bowden's latest nonfiction book, A Shadow in the City, released last month.
Bowden spent four years deep in the dehumanizing world of drug-running by shadowing Joey O'Shay (not his real name), a narcotics sting operator for more than two decades whose entire line of work is betraying high-profile traders of illicit goods.
"It's a death dance between two groups," Bowden says of the push-and-pull struggle that exists between the enforcement agencies and the people involved in the drug trade.
O'Shay has known 40 fellow narcotics officers who are now dead, and there are losses of life for both sides regularly--although it's something we rarely hear about.
"There is an invisible slaughter that involves hundreds of thousands of people," he says of the drug underworld. "The reward for failure is death."
Everything you read in this book is absolutely factually accurate, says Bowden, who meticulously worked with the taped records of stings and was a fly on the wall in O'Shay's working life.
"I wasn't in a hurry; I wanted everything," he says about the length of time he spent on this book. "You might say it's stenographic."
The stress that comes from this environment made it one of the hardest projects he's worked on, he says.
"If anybody wants to know what success in the drug world means, all they have to do is read this book, and they won't have any questions at all."
After being in the narcotics busting business for so many years, O'Shay believes that some of the illicit drug trade should be legalized, Bowden says.
This event is free. --M.W.
The proposal to create a unified constitution for most of Europe is currently under evaluation, but if it succeeds, the 25 countries involved may see large changes in how they operate.
With this in mind, the primary question that interests the Tucson-based Common Sense Forum is, "What do you think?"
Founded in 1991, the Common Sense Forum is an open discussion group that meets once a month to examine mostly political topics, says moderator Jim Foley. The group, which encourages both dialogue and the chance to learn from others, attracts people across the spectrum of political thought.
"There's no single political outlook among the attendees," Foley says, adding that conversations sometimes lead to various disagreements but mainly offer participants the chance to hear many viewpoints at once.
Plus, there's free coffee. "No discussion is any good without refreshments," Foley says.
The forums start off with a 30-minute presentation on the topic by the moderator, but then the discussion is turned over to the people.
The idea of a European constitution, as it stands now, is being looked at individually by all 25 countries in the European Union. Nearly half have voted on the idea, either via a public vote or through parliament.
Of the three countries that had a public vote, only one nation accepted the idea, leading to the question, "Do the people of Europe want this?"
The Common Sense Forum was started by UA professor Miklos Szilagyi as part of a larger organization called the Tucson Institute.
This event is free and open to all ages. It will be held in a room on the main floor near the children's section.
The next Common Sense Forum, scheduled for Sept. 3, tackles the question, "Where do 'rights' come from?" --M.W.
When people decide they want to get a pet, they often envision heading down to the local pet store and buying a warm, loving ball of fur. However, while people are buying animals from the pet store, there are thousands of shelter animals waiting for a kind person to pick them out and take them to a "forever home." The Foundation for Animals in Risk is working on getting local shelter cats adopted by having Purrpalooza!, an adoption fair running Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 7.
Salette Latas, president of FAIR, said that the shelter, which is a network of people taking care of animals rather than a traditional shelter where the animals are all kept caged in one building, is overwhelmed with cats right now. The shelter has around 200 cats and kittens currently, and they are all fostered with people so that they are accustomed to interacting with humans.
Latas said that while cat breeds often aren't as defined as dog breeds, they do have Siamese cats, as well as many other types of felines.
"We have all kinds of beautiful cats," Latas said.
Latas estimated that the shelter spends around $150 per cat, which includes spaying and neutering, microchipping, food and veterinary care. It costs $99 for someone to adopt a cat less than six months old, and $89 for a cat older than six months. People adopting cats will also need to fill out an application; however, they can take the animal home the same day.
Latas said cats can be a wonderful pet for a busy household or an apartment dweller.
"They're a great companion that doesn't require a lot of attention," Latas said. --S.B.