Contemplation

Last Friday I finally finished The Brothers Karamazov.  (I know I’m still on about this.  I promise this is the last post.) Anyway, it was…dense…heavy…long.  It is not a book I would really recommend.  There are many other classics I would recommend instead.  But on Friday night when I was standing in my kitchen updating my Goodreads account, I realized with a thunder bolt like flash that I had to give this monstrous tome four stars.

How is it that you give a book four stars, but not recommend it?  And use less than flattering adjectives to describe it?

Well…

There are books.  And then there is literature.  This is literature.  And literature at probably its finest. It is extraordinarily well written. It has a remarkable number of moving pieces that come to relevance in the end.  It presents profound philosophical views of religion and morality.  It employs psychology and examines intent versus public lip service.

It is one of those strange reads that I won’t be re-visiting.  I can even quite decide if I liked it or not, but I understand the respect that it gets and deserves.  It is something that I’m glad I read, and yet I’m also very glad it’s done.

It is a bizarre quandary.  A book I didn’t exactly like, but I admire for what it is.  I guess it’s like the Mona Lisa.  I don’t particular care for the painting, but I admire and respect it for what it is and what is stands for in the artistic world.  Perhaps that’s the best description that I can give that others may understand. This truly is a masterpiece, but not necessarily one I would want to hang on my living room wall.

Does this make any sense?

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The Update

Happy Halloween!!

As promised, I thought I would do a little update today.  We are 290 pages into The Brothers Karamazov. I got a bit behind schedule last week, but wading through two of the most infamous chapters: “The Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” was indeed a girthy task. Dostoevsky presents remarkable ideas in general, but particularly for the time period he was writing in. I’m enjoying the journey, and I’m very interested to see what happens. I do admit that thus far I think I enjoyed Crime and Punishment more, but I will keep an open mind given that I haven’t even made it half way through yet.

In other news, I did mention in Friday’s post about taking a tap workshop this weekend. This ended up being a bit of a crash and burn scenario. But that’s kind of how learning goes, right? I had a few things going against me, namely that I’m nearly 30 while all the other participants were between the ages of 8 to 16, and I’ve only been tapping for two years while these girls had been tapping for between 4 and 13 years.

Okay so, old Bessie in back couldn’t quite keep up.  And while I did get very tired and frustrated, I never felt demoralized or that I should just give up. This is great news! I would do a workshop again, but I’ll need a few weeks…maybe months.  My brain needs to process all that happened Sunday, and I need to be able to get pants on without all my leg muscles screaming at me.

Nevertheless, the learning continues in full swing whether I’m reading a classic or dancing around embracing that while I have laugh lines I have the ability to buy really cool tap shoes!

Towanda!

P.S. Twenty life points to those that get that reference.

P.S.S. I have no idea what life points are.  I just made them up because I don’t have a real prize.

A Different Tune Today

One of the reasons I read is to learn. I want to continually expand my mind. I want to exercise my brain and discover new things, but sometimes this process doesn’t necessarily happen via ink.

About six and half years ago I made an acquaintance with a new co-worker.  We were both new to the job, so we found ourselves hanging around each other frequently. This frequency led to friendship and this friendship lead to the best of friendships. One of the many fascinating facts about this co-worker, turned acquaintance, turned friend, turned best friend, is that she is also a professional tap dancer.

She has and does get paid to tap dance.  She is also currently a part of a tap dance company. And for whatever reason, we got the harebrained idea about two-ish years ago that she should teach me how to tap. I will admit that I did not have high hopes for this endeavor.  I feared that it may turn our friendship awkward when it was either discovered that I had no ability to tap dance or worse, I had no interest in tap dance.

Lucky for both of us, neither came to fruition. I, in fact, have some ability to tap, and I find it absolutely mesmerizing. It should be noted that I always enjoyed watching tap dance, but didn’t ever possess the desire to try it until I met Kelsey. (Yes, the editor is the professional tapper.  She is quite multi-faceted.)

Anyway, fast-forward these two-ish years, and we are still going strong.  We have class once a week. I own epic tap shoes. I have learned a good variety of steps and techniques. (I’m attending my first tap workshop this weekend. Wish me luck!) But I have also learned a world of knowledge about music.

I played a couple of instruments growing up, so I can read music, and make music specifically on the piano and the saxophone. But I had never attempted to work within the music that someone else was making.  Since I always created the music, I didn’t need to listen for certain cues that dancers must learn.  I also had sheet music in front of me to “cheat.”

However, since taking tap I have learned how to listen to music. I can count music now, and understand what makes certain pieces easy or difficult beyond just the steps. I have obtained a knowledge base and language that was never available to me before. It has stretched my mind in new and different ways. Listening to the radio is so much more interesting these days. Can I find the one?  Did they throw in any irregular bars?

If someone had told me six years ago that I would be tap dancing once a week, every week, staying relatively upright while doing it, and learning gobs along the way, I would have looked at them strangely, and thought not only that I would be too klutzy, but how much could I actually learn by making a lot of noise?  The answer: enough to write a book.

Why Use Seven When Two Will Do

I’m at my desk. I take a sip of my coffee and wait for the company database to load. I see an e-mail notification pop up. It announces that my 62-year old boss who begrudgingly uses technology, has just sent me a rare e-mail.

I immediately click to see what could have prompted him to take on this laborious hunt and peck task. The e-mail loads and reads:

Jill,

Do you know how to do an electronic signature?  I am old and helpless.

-B

My lips curl in on themselves. This might be the most hilarious and yet precious e-mails I’d ever received. There is subtle yet remarkable implicit trust in this query.

I reply simply, and wish that all e-mails would be this raw and honest. And realize that, “Why use seven words when two will do?” is a poignant question. This masterful work stated its purpose and made me smile. What more could I ask for?

Some Serious Wordiness

I really like science. I find it generally fascinating and wonderful, but there are certain topics within science that really get me giddy.  One such topic is cephalopods. I did my science fair project involving the bacteria that make squid glow when I was in ninth grade, and I’ve been gaga for the creatures ever since.  They’re just so nifty.

Whenever I see articles about new discoveries regarding this magnificent group, I’m all in.  I mean what isn’t cool about squid having a symbiotic relationship with bio-luminescent bacteria that reflects moonlight, so it can move about without casting a shadow on the sea floor and thus protecting it from predators?  Or that Octopi have this crazy ability to change shape and texture to blend in with their environment?

Anyway, the other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw an article regarding the octopus.  I was instantly excited. What other coolness could I learn? But then, sadness struck. I couldn’t take this article seriously.  They had spelled the plural of octopus as “octopuses.”

What dopes, I thought.

Anybody who knows anything knows that octopus becomes octopi.  This article obviously had no credibility. But something in me just couldn’t let it go.

I soon found myself on Merriam-Webster’s website and to my sheer delight I learned that octopuses is indeed an acceptable plural of octopus. In standard English, octopus would be pluralized to octopuses.  But because people wanted to be more in-line with Latin root words they pluralized words ending in “us” with an “i.”  The rub is that the root word of octopus is not Latin, but Greek, making the plural “octopodes” which is really weird and confusing. In conclusion, technically all three plural forms−octopuses, octopi, and octopodes−are correct.

This was great news! I could read the article after all.  I will still default to octopi, but this is captivating stuff.  See, even the words used to name these wonderful beings are crazy fascinating!

Happy wordy Friday!

Source:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/video/octopus

Goodreads: A Discovery

I love lists.  I’ve always loved making lists, and growing up keeping a list of books to read was my jam. However, my list mania soon grew to include a list of books I had already read.  At first, I just kept it in a notebook, but then when I was a junior in high-school I got an actual book journal.  I didn’t journal about the books I read, but it was a good place to keep track of all sorts of reading things (i.e. lists of…books to read, book read, books borrowed, books lent.)  It was really a list markers paradise.

As I’ve gotten older this obsessive list making has come in handy.  Once after watching a movie with my roommate I said, “I feel like I’ve read this.”  At the closing credits, it showed that it had been based on a book.  I went and got my book journal and sure enough I have read the book about three years previously.

Recently, I began to wonder why more people didn’t have book journals.  Didn’t they want to keep track of all the things they had read and all the books they hope to read?  Why weren’t there more people who loved books and lists as much as I did? Then I remember this newfangled thing called Goodreads

I give you permission to laugh. I have the soul of an 89-year old, even though physically I’ll turn 30 in December.  I go to bed at 9 PM.  I am completely baffled by Instagram and Twitter, but I’m trying my best.  I have an apron collection.  So it shouldn’t be too surprising that Goodreads showed up on my radar this late in the game.  I had heard of it.  I just didn’t know anything about it until I decided to investigate.  I immediately understood why it wasn’t really necessary to keep a book journal or at least in the list sense that I do.

While I’m staunch in not giving way to too many electronics regarding reading and books, I will concede that Goodreads is pretty groovy.  And I think my account is here to stay.  It still gives me the satisfaction of making lists and checking things off, but Goodreads is a terrific help in finding new reads that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about.

I realize that this is not revolutionary news to anybody, but me, but I was surprised at how much I liked it.  Maybe all technological advancements aren’t so bad after all- Good Grief!  I do sound like I’m in my 80’s.

Nutella Proves a Point

The other day I was in the mindless pursuit to waste time, and one of my favorite places to do that is Pinterest because all kinds of goodies can be found there. I like my time wasting to possibly turn into productivity, then I don’t feel so bad about it. Technically, this happened because I stumbled upon this quote and thus I could write this post. The quote was:

“You can’t make everybody happy. You aren’t a jar of Nutella.”

I started laughing. It has a very solid point.  It’s a general concept that’s been around of awhile but this was a fresh twist.  However, what I found so amusing wasn’t the wit of this new wording, but the fact that this quote isn’t true.

What do you mean? You may ask.

Well…I don’t like Nutella.  I guess it just makes the point all the more accurate.

This why I love words.  They’re good for a laugh and a ponder.

Happy Friday, everyone!