Sunday, February 05, 2012

Reading-filled weekend

My allergies have been bugging me, so too much "heavy lifting" in the way of craft I feel kind of "meh" about. (I have several potential quilt tops stacked up to cut and sew, and I really need sometime to get back to finishing the left front (and starting the right front) of the Ropes and Picots cardigan.

I mostly read this weekend though. (I also took a trip to Sherman for shopping, which took up a large chunk of the day on Saturday - went to several places and both Target and Kroger's were fairly crowded, which meant waiting in line a while at each place. I will say I didn't see any sort of the usual Bad Human Behavior I tend to decry in supermarkets; either the really Snowflakey people had already shopped or they stayed home).

I'm still working on "The Spanish Bride." It's pretty fascinating - Heyer writes in a way where you (or at least I) can lose yourself in the story - it moves along fast but also has enough description. Still impressed at Juana's perseverance and her lack of complaining. Really hoping that George Simmons (who for some reason has become a favorite of mine) doesn't "buy it" on the battlefield.

(I picked up a copy of another one of her mysteries - Death in the Stocks - and one of the Regency romances (The Masqueraders) - at the bookstore.)

I also started a scholarly book, called "Frozen Earth: the once and future story of ice ages." The most recent Ice Age (the Pleistocene Ice Age) is one of those topics that fascinates me and I know I spend more time on it in the classes where it's marginally applicable than I really need to (like Soils - much of the northern U.S. has parent material that's either glacier-transported, or is loess that blew out of post-glacial river valleys following the recession of the glaciers). I think it fascinates me for two reasons: first, prior to moving here, everywhere I ever remember living was areas affected by glaciation. The soil in the first garden I remember, at my parents' house in Ohio, was glacial till. The landscape flattened by glacial activity is familiar. And the funny thing is, I had only the vaguest idea of how all that happened until I was an adult (despite having a geologist-father, I don't remember him really saying much about "thousands of years ago, this was all covered with ice" but of course it was). And second, it does seem so weird and unimaginable: there were glaciers thicker than the Willis (nee Sears) Tower is tall. The landscape must have been incredibly different. (And I think in part it's tied up with my fascination about the first people - most commonly called Paleoindians (still, I guess) - that inhabited this place. And with early Homo sapiens in general.

The author makes the argument (I've not reached that part yet but he's mentioned it briefly) that the ice ages affected human history and possibly even human evolution - that they somehow shaped who we are today, living in a warm interglacial period. (It's entirely possible there will be another ice age in the next few thousand years, at least according to several people I've read. Of course, we as individuals won't still be here, and it's possible that humans as a species wouldn't either...)

(I've temporarily given up on that "Number" book after reading the chapter on transcendental numbers and "evanescent sequences" four times. I think there's something lacking in my basic math education (I can tell you all about set theory and less than and greater than, and even a fair amount about base 2....) that's preventing me from grasping it. And that frustrates me. I find myself reading it again and again, going "Dammit, I'm SMART, I should be able to understand this." I probably need to find a more basic description of what Dantzig is talking about.)

Actually, though, that's one of the beauties of books - you can put them aside and go back to them later if they're not working for you at some point in time, or you can come back to them when you've learned more.

(And my head really isn't all THAT egg-shaped, heh. More like a really large grapefruit...)

Just one little pony thing for this week, because this week's episode centered around reading. (And had a brief but amusing reference to The Great Escape, and had an Indiana Jones/Pitfall Harry pony (acted like Indy, color schemed like I remember Pitfall being from the old video game).) And it had Rainbow Dash getting hooked on a book, even though she thought she wasn't "supposed" to read, being an athlete and all. (The Indiana Jones pony was the main character in the book she read - a whole series of them exist in the Pony Universe, they're kind of like Harry Potter is here, only with an archaeology theme rather than a magic theme. I suppose magic would not be a very exciting book theme in a world where 1/3 of the population regularly used magic....)

And of course, there's this:

I was just a little bit out of the age demographic for Reading Rainbow when it was first on, but I watched anyway. (As I think I've said before: having a younger sibling means you get to enjoy lots of stuff you might otherwise seem "too old" for).

For those who never saw the show: it was a PBS series, hosted by LeVar Burton. Burton was a pretty affable host for the show, and he had the tagline "But you don't have to take my word for it..." (He still uses that sometimes on his Twitter posts). Usually the format was some kind of brief introduction with Burton somewhere - as I remember he traveled a few places and talked about them. Then there was a book, often read by an actor or singer or someone well-known. The pictures of the book were shown, sometimes with a little limited animation. Then Burton would talk about similar books, and then, with his tagline, "toss" it to kids, who did brief book-review segments.

One of the beauties of the show was that it wasn't "how" to read, like some other PBS educational programs - it was just a "hey, we enjoy reading, you might enjoy it too, here are some cool books" kind of show.

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