Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Tuesday morning things

* Ugh, had one of those nights where I woke up at 3:30 and all the low-level things that have been worrying me attacked me, so it was a while before I got back to sleep. (I *hate* that but it seems a lot of people have that happen so I'm not going to worry that it's something bad. And it doesn't happen often.)

* Then again, it's my short break, so sleeping in until just before 7 wasn't a big deal. Ate, will wait a bit for that to settle, then will do my workout and go in to finish the next chapter.

* One other thing from my appointment yesterday, this is something that made me happy: the nurse who took my vitals and collected my information had a badge pinned on her scrubs that said "It's my birthday!" and I wished her happy birthday and she thanked me, and said, "They brought in a cake for me and put up decorations and everything. Everyone here is so nice to everyone else. This is the best place I've ever worked!" and it just makes me happy to hear someone say that.

And yeah, I could make the argument that despite various sillinesses, the place I'm at now is the best place I've ever worked, but then again, I haven't worked that many places (two schools as a TA, one as a temporary-part-time (that was not a fun experience, that school), as an undergrad helping run a "summer institute" for gifted-but-annoying high school kids, working in a cafeteria dishroom (which was not so very BAD except people did gross things like put cigarettes out in mashed potatoes))

* Some ongoing reading. I finished J. Jefferson Farjeon's "Thirteen Guests" over break. It was a very good mystery novel - good characterizations, entertaining (That's what I want, mainly, out of mysteries). The outcome was a surprise - perhaps a *bit* contrived, some might argue, but the upshot was the "murderer" was completely not the one you expected. Definitely worth a read if you like Golden Era mysteries.

However, "A Scream in Soho," (NOT by Farjeon; I don't remember the author's name) which I started next, was not so good, and I've kind of given up on it. The person writing the introduction (which maybe I shouldn't have read first) described it as a "thriller" and talked about it like it was the "cheap literature that the uneducated read." (Um: elitist much?).

But yeah. It is NOT well written. Very bald exposition, poorly organized. I can't do the suspending-disbelief thing where I wind up "mentally filming" the story like I do with other novels because the voice of the author is SO intrusive. Also, he does dialect-dialog, which is often poorly-done and which I just generally dislike. Here, there is the worst-stereotype-possible, "It's-a me, Mario!" accent put in the mouth of an Italian-expat restauranteur. So I think I'm gonna give up on this one and, I don't know, I hate to donate it somewhere so someone else will wind up paying for it and reading it but, meh. (And yeah: good dialect writing is very hard to do and I sometimes think maybe it's best conveyed with subtle shifts in syntax, or with the idea that non-native English speakers are often more formal (or at least that's my experience*) than native speakers)

(*Probably influenced by the fact that the majority of my experience of non-native speakers comes from South Asian or Southeast Asian people I had as TAs or professors, and it may be a style-of-education thing; I know at least one woman I talked with said her schools had originally been established under British colonial rule. Or maybe it was just the people who learned English really well who went on to grad school in the States, I don't know. I know my French would be excruciatingly formal (I learned Racine and the like) but my grammar and syntax would be far from perfect....)

(I see that more of Farjeon's mysteries are to be republished. Good. I like finding another series-writer that I enjoy)

* I'm also starting again on "The War that Ended Peace." I got about 2/3 in and stalled out; this time I want to finish and then go back and re-read "The Guns of August." Goal is to finish both of these before the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, so I have a little time. As I've said before, this is largely because I feel like I was taught poorly about World War I in school and want to fix that gap.

It's also amazing, all the personalities in there - the relatively phlegmatic King Edward, the crazy Kaiser, all the various easily-offended hot-headed types scattered throughout the diplomatic and military services (and yes, I get that the personalities ascribed to them could be author bias, but I suspect that the "hot-headed types scattered through the diplomatic and military services" is pretty accurate given what happened). And I admit there's a helping of Could Something Like This Happen Today, though as I've said, an actual World War III, like between actual countries rather than as a series of guerilla/terrorist attacks by a group that's not considered a legitimate state, would be over in a flash that would clear the playing field for the cockroaches. (And yes, I find that thought more than a little terrifying)

* I also need to finish reading "The Archaeology of Ordinary People" (I think that's what it's called). It was different from what I expected but still interesting. There were very few details of objects found and more of a discussion of what the hypothesized ideas are (incorporating information from "low contact" modern tribes) about food, work, and what might be called "luxury goods" (that is, that which is not absolutely necessary for survival). One of the author's working hypotheses is that "individuality," as we understand it, is a modern invention. I am not sure about that but then again I don't know much about archaeology.

* Working on the front for Raven; I want to try to get a lot done on this soon so I can start the sleeves. Am starting to worry slightly about having enough yarn - it's a discontinued yarn so it would be harder to find more. (I also really need to start the second sleeve for Hagrid; that sweater won't take that long to finish and it would be nice to get it done in time for any cold weather we might have)

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