Monday, July 30, 2007

One Book Meme, but with two books

I'm sorry, but I read way too many books....

One Two book(s) that changed your life?
I can think of several. Interesting, both of these were early grad school experiences.
Yoram Binur's My Enemy, My Self radically altered my Jewish political identity
Marc Bloch's The Historian's Craft crystallized my historical professionalism.

One Two book(s) you have read more than once?
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and I've read Richard Adams' Watership Down probably a dozen times.

One Two book(s) you would want on a desert island?
Well aside from a really good survival guide, what I'd really want are some really big multi-volume series.... An English translation of the Talmud and Mishnah, and the Durant History of Civilization. I suppose I'd settle for Abraham Cohen's Everyman's Talmud and the Durant Scientific Revolution volume.

One Two book(s) that made you laugh?
Almost anything Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett or David Lodge wrote. (I don't think of myself as an anglophile...)
Also Ogden Nash's poetry, Michael Bond's Paddington books and A.A. Milne's Pooh stories, but you have to read them aloud.

One Two book(s) that made you cry?
That's a tough one. The first one that comes to mind is the play "Mr. Roberts" -- I went through a serious play-reading stage.
I think I also cried when I read Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories for the first time. More than once.

One Two book(s) you wish you had written?
Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
In my first year of graduate school, I read a book which was almost exactly the book which I had in my head; it was better than I could have done at that point, better than I could do now.

One Two book(s) you wish someone had written?
A Social History of Banking in Modern Japan
The Impeachment of George W. Bush and Collapse of the Republican Party

One Two book(s) you wish had never been written?
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Book of Revelations.

One Two book(s) you are currently reading?
Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

One Two book(s) you have been meaning to read?
Thomas Sowell, Migrations and Cultures
Kyle Ward, History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling over the Last 200 Years

Now tag five people: No. But I will note the bloggers which I read who have done this meme already, many of whom have also declined to tag: Another Damned Medievalist, Terry

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pocketknife Fixed Camera

How many times have you fixed a camera with a pocketknife?

In my case the answer is TWICE! A while back I dropped it on hard rock, bending the ring around the lens in so far that it jammed on the lense and the lens wouldn't move. I fixed that with the can opener... well, I needed something both stiff and sharp, so I could get it in the gap and pry!

Earlier today, the lens cover stopped working: wouldn't open all the way, and wouldn't close hardly at all. It might have caught on my shirt pocket while I was putting it away quickly. I thought about calling the Panasonic folks, but their standard repair fee for out-of-warranty (i.e., bought on eBay) cameras is $161.50 (more than I paid on eBay), and that doesn't include cameras damaged by falls, misuse or water....

So, inspired by the thought of having to spend major money on a repair or new camera (I'm holding out until they roll out new features and reduce prices on existing models in the Fall), I took a closer look and realized that a piece of the lens cover was bent, and probably keeping it from moving freely. Well, bend it back! Took some doing with the little blade, but it now seems to be back in business! Still, it bears the marks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

How do you read? (an original meme)

In honor of Harry Potter Day, here is a list of twenty metaphors for reading: Bold the ones that best apply to your professional reading; underline the ones that apply to leisure reading; italicize the ones that turn you off
1. Reading is grafting, and the reader connects new text to another text read.
2. Reading is dancing, and the reader follows the lead and steps of the text, including its rhythm, music, lyric, genre, and flow.
3. Reading is sorting, and the reader puts knowledge and experience and dramatic elements of text into categories.
4. Reading is surveying, and the reader examines the territory of the book, its surface, size, structure, scope, distinguishing features, divisions, boundaries, etc.
5. Reading is integrating, and the reader incorporates new knowledge into other knowledge; blending and kneading together.
6. Reading is counting, and the reader is concerned with the number of pages in the text or how many pages are left until they can escape the text (also envision the image of a prisoner marking off days on calendar).
7. Reading is soaking up, and the reader absorbs the text like a sponge.
8. Reading is a vehicle, and the reader travels to another place.
9. Reading is eating, and the reader consumes and is nourished (or poisoned) by the text.
10. Reading is a mirror, and the reader sees reflection in text.
11. Reading is a machine, and the reader feeds the text through a mechanical process.
12. Reading is a transaction, and the reader and text exchange value: the reader receives knowledge and experience, the text receives meaning, and the newly produced response is the receipt or proof of the transaction.
13. Reading is exercise, and the reader gains intellectual agility and strength.
14. Reading is mining, and the reader digs into the text for answers.
15. Reading is a good investment, and the reader’s efforts pay off.
16. Reading is planting, and the reader receives seeds of knowledge that grow into new understanding.
17. Reading is unwrapping, and the reader opens the text to reveal a hidden message.
18. Reading is translating, and the reader moves the meaning from one language to another.
19. Reading is a friend, and the reader enjoys the companionship of the text.
20. Reading is wrestling, and the reader struggles with the text.

Yes, I answered multiply to several of them, especially where leisure and work reading overlap. You can, too. If you don't see metaphors you like here, you can go to the master list of 150 metaphors.

This is my meme, but I don't tag people. Just give me credit where credit is due, please.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hungry, too.

This really is more of an Aristotelean test than anything to do with spirit animals.

Your Score: The Wolf

Your spirit animal has a Nobility ranking of 12 out of 18.

Your spirit animal is the wolf. It is a ferocious companion, and a loyal friend. It is both a respectable and noble creature; to have this spirit animal says good things about you, and that you are starting to figure things out. Wolves are pretty rare spirit animals.

***Wondering how this animal was chosen for you? These questions were carefully thought out to see how important you hold certain virtues such as: humanism, self-knowledge, rationalism, the love of freedom and other somewhat Hellenic ideals. Some of the questions were very subtle. Your score was then matched with an animal of corresponding nobility. However, you shouldn't think this was a right/wrong sort of test, but more of an idealistic values test. It's ok to not hold these values, you'll just get an animal spirit of lower stature if you do!***

Link: The What is Your Spirit Animal Test written by FindingEros [via]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday Verses: The Uncultured Rhymer to His Cultured Critics

Thanks to Penny Richards for noting his birthday recently, and pointing me to this incredible archive of Lawson's work.

My students probably feel this way about me sometimes (I'm not a grammar nut, mind you, but I do believe in the value of clarity and evidence) but that doesn't mean that I can't feel this way about other figures in my life.

The Uncultured Rhymer To His Cultured Critics
By Henry Lawson (1910)

Fight through ignorance, want, and care —
Through the griefs that crush the spirit;
Push your way to a fortune fair,
And the smiles of the world you’ll merit.
Long, as a boy, for the chance to learn —
For the chance that Fate denies you;
Win degrees where the Life-lights burn,
And scores will teach and advise you.
My cultured friends! you have come too late
With your bypath nicely graded;
I’ve fought thus far on my track of Fate,
And I’ll follow the rest unaided.
Must I be stopped by a college gate
On the track of Life encroaching?
Be dumb to Love, and be dumb to Hate,
For the lack of a college coaching?

You grope for Truth in a language dead —
In the dust ’neath tower and steeple!
What know you of the tracks we tread?
And what know you of our people?
‘I must read this, and that, and the rest,’
And write as the cult expects me? —
I’ll read the book that may please me best,
And write as my heart directs me!

You were quick to pick on a faulty line
That I strove to put my soul in:
Your eyes were keen for a ‘dash’ of mine
In the place of a semi-colon —
And blind to the rest. And is it for such
As you I must brook restriction?
‘I was taught too little?’ I learnt too much
To care for a pedant’s diction!

Must I turn aside from my destined way
For a task your Joss would find me?
I come with strength of the living day,
And with half the world behind me;
I leave you alone in your cultured halls
To drivel and croak and cavil:
Till your voice goes further than college walls,
Keep out of the tracks we travel!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Now can I get back to the 800-page novel I'm reading for fun?

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
Artistic Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Picture: Spring Shadow

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday. There's no political subtext or hidden meaning beyond some subtle and some obvious beauty.

Update: If it's patriotic content you want, you can read the Declaration here, or see fireworks here (I'll be attempting fireworks pictures tonight, as well. We'll see).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

2008 Candidate Preferences, early returns

Here's the results of this test [via]. I like the fact that it lists actual match, not relative position.
1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100%)
2. Dennis Kucinich (88%)
3. Alan Augustson (79%) (Green Party)
4. Barack Obama (78%)
5. Joseph Biden (76%)
6. Hillary Clinton (74%)
7. Christopher Dodd (70%)
8. Michael Bloomberg (69%) (I)
9. Wesley Clark (68%)
10. Mike Gravel (67%)
11. Al Gore (66%)
12. John Edwards (65%)
13. Bill Richardson (56%) (Lowest ranked Democrat)
14. Ron Paul (47%) (Highest ranked Republican)
15. Kent McManigal (45%) (Libertarian)
16. Elaine Brown (43%) (Green Party)
17. Rudolph Giuliani (29%)
18. Mike Huckabee (27%)
19. John McCain (21%)
20. Tommy Thompson (20%)
21. Mitt Romney (18%)
22. Chuck Hagel (15%)
23. Newt Gingrich (11%)
24. Tom Tancredo (11%)
25. Sam Brownback (11%)
26. Fred Thompson (8%)
27. Duncan Hunter (7%)
28. Jim Gilmore (6%)
The Democrat/Republican split doesn't surprise me, though I was surprised to see Bloomberg in the high 60s pretty much in the middle of the Democrat pack, and a little surprised to see all the Republicans but Ron Paul fall in the 20s and below. So much for my centrist credential....