Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005
My former employers, Xyris Software, who have been graciously providing me with web space free of charge for several years now, are reorganizing their server space and givin me the boot. So I've got to look around for an ISP or figure out how to host the site on my home computer. So this site is going to go down at some point in the next week or so and not come back until I get off my butt and work something out.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
PZ Myers introduces me to the latest meme going around the academic blogs. Here are my answers:
- You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
Not sure, I think an epic poem like Iliad or Beowulf but that is a hasty thought, such an important decision would take some consideration when the time came.
- Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Don't be silly. Well maybe. When reading short stories, I think that happens; but not in novels. Mostly. (Note: the name "Jessica Swanlake" was running through my head when I wrote this but I'm not sure why -- it's Roger has a crush on her, not me...)
- The last book you bought is:
The Economist's Tale by Peter Griffiths
- The last book you read:
- What are you currently reading?
Call it Sleep by Henry Roth
- Five books you would take to a deserted island:
I'll think about this for a while and then update. (Or not.)
- Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?
Whoever reads this, consider it passed.
Update: Roy did this too, and passed the stick to me, so I am retroactively crediting him.
I've been reading Call it Sleep by Henry Roth for a little while now, and enjoying it. This is a book which I bought many years ago (either at Yesterday's Books in Modesto, CA, or at the used book store on Market St. in Potsdam, NY) meaning to read right away, and has been sitting balefully on my shelf ever since... I think a good essay topic would be the difference in experience between reading a book you have just acquired (and shades of such experience depending on the source -- bookstore, yard sale, second-hand shop, found...) versus a book that has been on your shelf for a long time pleading to be read. Lord knows I have enough of the latter sort to keep me occupied for a while.
As I was turning the pages in the middle of Part III, The Coal, I ran across a bookmark from some previous reader. It is a piece of tan paper about 2 1/2" square, on which has been scribbled, "He's having a nervous breakdown".
Monday, March 21st, 2005
We have always had board games around and Sylvia has always enjoyed playing them. All of a sudden she has developed a real fascination for them, touched off by learning how to play Monopoly Jr. (which is sort of like real Monopoly, with most of the strategy simplified out.) Every time I have walked in the door in the past week and a half, she has run to meet me and said, "Hi Dad, how was your day, want to play Monockoly?"
So we do; and when that is done (we each seem to win about half the time), we play Candyland and Chutes & Ladders.
Thursday, March 17th, 2005
Our venture into chapter books continues apace -- two nights ago we finished Winnie-the-Pooh, last night we started Just-So Stories.
Monday, March 14th, 2005
Living with Sylvia (who is busy discovering how to use computers and the internet) means that you will frequently Google around for interactive dinosaur games hoping to find something that will be interesting to you and her both. Today I may have hit the jackpot in the form of the BBC's Dinosaurs page. There are a lot of things to do there of which we have only looked at a few; but the very latest addition to the site is Dinosaur World, which just knocked my socks off. It is a multimedia program that lets you explore your way around an ancient landscape, watching dinosaurs and listening to descriptions of them. The graphics are jaw-droppingly great and the soundtrack is quite well done too. The download (which is free) is 20 M; there is also a "low spec" option which I assume is smaller. The product is still in beta and will crash frequently.
Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /
Go here to make your own list. (Link via Unqualified Offerings.) -- or you can follow this link, courtesy of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, to create a graphical representation of what states you have visited.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2005
This morning I finished reading The Economist's Tale by Peter Griffiths. (Thanks D2 for the recommendation!) An excellent book and you ought to read it; I haven't really got anything to add to Daniel's review except to say this book is an extremely good pay-off in terms of how much pleasure, sorrow and enlightenment you will get out of reading it, versus how much effort is involved.
Update: And here is a link to Griffiths' home page.
Sunday, March 6th, 2005
- I bought the CD thinking it would be fun to listen to on long car trips. The dual obstacle turns out to be Ellen and Sylvia, who aren't into it. Hmm... but this morning for the first time (and admittedly on a short trip) I convinced Sylvia at least that it would be good listening because it is a Fairy Tale, which genre she enjoys. Who knows how long this will last.
- Sylvia noticed midway in to the first book that elves were among the characters, something Beowulf has in common with the Fairy Tales CD she likes to listen to. (They don't, however, "talk in funny voices.")
- I noticed while listening that the poem was written by a Christian; he calls the Danes "heathenish" and says they did not yet know "the Lord most high, ruler of heaven" (I think is how he phrases it). For some reason I had always thought the poem was from before Christianity was introduced to the British isles, I guess because the events it describes took place before Christianity. Also because I thought writing came along with Christianity* and that the poem was an oral legend, so pre-writing.
But I can try and make some sense of this -- could be that the oral legend predates British Christianity and it was written down (and maybe expanded on) by somebody afterwards. Kinda like with the legend of Troy and Homer. I want to find out if there is any record of the identity of the person who wrote it down, and what his dates were, and his position in life. Time to read more closely the introduction to Heaney's translation, which I just skimmed at the time I read the book but which I seem to recall being pretty long, it will probably contain the info I'm looking for.
Update: we took a longer trip this afternoon going to a friend's birthday party, and I was actually able to listen to the whole Book I, a bit more than an hour. Sylvia lost interest about 2/3 of the way through (around the point of the story-within-a-story about the war between Hrothgar and Finn the Frisian); but she did not demand different music, just started making up a conversation between two stuffed animals that were on hand.
Another Update: I realized I have been talking about "Book I" when I actually mean "Disc I". The epic is divided into 2 CD's. I thought based on an unclear memory of reading it, that that corresponded to a division in the text; but apparently not.
*Okay so there were runes before that. My whole idea falls apart if Beowulf was written down in runes but I'm pretty sure that is not the case.
Tuesday, March first, 2005
Tonight we had a double-header of Chapter 19 of The Phantom Tollbooth and The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse. Sylvia really surprised me while we were reading Chapter 19 (in which Rhyme and Reason return to the kingdom of Wisdom) by remembering who Officer Shrift is -- a character who has not appeared since the first quarter of the book, and then only very briefly. This reinforces to me that she is experiencing the story primarily through the characters, though I'm not sure just what to make of that.
I was glad to read The Red Balloon -- it is one of my favorites and I've suggested it a few times before, this is the first time she took me up on it. It makes a very nice bedtime story, particularly in the cold of winter.
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