cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “technology”

Paper or Plastic?


“I would rather have a hard copy, if that’s okay.” This is from a new AP recruit wanting the summer reading text How to read Literature Like a Professor in book format rather than the PDF version I found on-line. Curious, I asked why. Her response? She had difficulty connecting with the on-screen type. Not what I expected from eyes way younger than mine. I, of course spout off about how much I prefer hard copies to e-copies as well because of my need to connect sensory-wise and as I’m talking, I’m flipping pages and smelling them and listening to them and when I finally notice my student nodding and edging toward the door, like she’d really like to leave because I’m a looney lady (more than one student has commented on me being a bit crazy), I hand over the book and wish her a great summer.

I am a looney lady when it comes to books–hence the Book Booster thing I do. Books aren’t just a pasttime or a channel of information, they are an introduction. Ahem, a new quote from moi:

A book in hand is a friendship in the making.

Beyond making a new friend, there is joy, a celebration of the senses holding a book in hand. I’m talking honest to goodness REAL paper-in-hand book. I do so enjoy paper, maybe that’s why I always answer “paper” instead of “plastic” at the store. Perhaps it’s because paper comes from trees and trees come from the earth and holding a book bound in paper produces more connection to the world around me.  I have little or no sensory connection to my plastic e-reader even though it’s a book in hand.  Oh oh–I feel the looney lady coming on and before I go on about trees, books and their connection to the world and mankind, here is my list of reasons for preferring a book of paper when reading:

1. Smell: that inky pungency stimulates my imagination to anticipation

2. Hearing: the flip-swish of pages signifies my involvement and commitment and helps me to further escape

3. Taste: no, I don’t lick the book, but reading a paper book whets my appetite for setting aside time to open up the pages to fall into another time, another place, another person’s story

4. Touch: there has got to be a study out there concerning the connection between the tactile aspect of reading and brain synapse when communing with a book–I am so much more involved when I am holding the book instead of just listening to it by audio or thumbing up a new screen. Think about this: glass does not conduct electricity, which means no synapse boost. Plus, when I see my book lying on the bed, table, chair it beckons me to pick it up, so there must be a some kind of magnetism involved.

5. Visual: perhaps the most notable because of the cover has all those colors and interesting bits to feed my eyes and mind, and then, of course, there all those illustrations and photographs and drawings sometimes waiting inside.

I’ve shown this video before, yet it definitely illustrates the visual appeal of books.

Reading is definitely a sensory experience for me.  What about you?  Paper or plastic?

Advertisements

The Write Sites or Sites for Reader Ayes


Sampling new websites is as delicious as the free tray at the local chocolatier. Hope you discover some new morsels on this tray, or enjoy a familiar flavor. Here are a few sites catering to readers and writers alike.

http://www.bookish.com
A site founded by publishers who blend together industry news, interviews, reviews, and articles. Look for insights about new and favorite books and authors. There are also interesting articles by authors, such as James Dashner’s opinion of what books became the best film adaptations.

http://www.issuu.com
Looking for something to read? Or perhaps looking to publish something you’ve written? Check out this site to read or upload material.

http://www.quora.com
Got a question and can’t find it by Googling? I discovered Quora in this manner. I wanted to find out how many time Jane Eyre mentions “dear reader” to add to my lesson plan about the use of archaic point-of-view. Eventually someone from Quora took up the challrnge and came up with the answer: 37. Since then I’ve gotten involved in answering more questions than asking them. I even have three followers and have earned over 1000 credits. I don’t think Macy’s accepts Quora credits yet.

http://www.goodticklebrain.com
If your thirst for Shakespeare ranges between the serious and the silly–then this site is only a click away. It professes to be “an eclectic collection of mostly Shakespeare-related comics and other miscellany.” It pops out Bard bits on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

http://www.thereadingroom.com
There are scads of sites which provide reading recommendations, reviews, news, and other bibliophilic needs–yet The Reading Room has the best ever quizzes. They are fun, annoying, illuminating and are great blog fillers. Try this one “What Literary Place Are You?”  *disclaimer: results vary with each participant (New York!?! I shudder at living in such a metro place).

Blog Spotlight: Paperback Princess


The Paperback Princess

I read a lot of books

 

I appreciate unabashed Book Boosters. This is one reason I took to following Paperback Princess. She sometimes laments her inability to resist buying books. A recent post of hers highlights that this is indeed a concern she will have to attend to due to bookshelf space. Too many books is not the same thing as having too many shoes. Books never go out of style. Well, maybe Valley of the Dolls, but everyone has their own preferences for reading material.

Dear Princess–adding books to your bulging shelves is an admirable dilemma. It’s enviable. Making room in your life for knowledge, adventure, new friends and old friends is delightful in my perspective. You will never be lonely!

PP also provides wondrous book suggestions and reviews. Plus, she is a conversant commenter, which a blogger always appreciates. I’m taking liberties and borrowing a part of her fabulous TBR <a title="list" href="https:// Read more…

Handily Written: A Lost Art?


Another TBR item has floated up to my attention. This one is dated December 2012 from the Wall Street Journal. Actually, I did read it, but kept it because it so resonated with me. “The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note.”

a handwritten letter is indeed becoming a rare commodity image: jppi/morguefile

 

I remember my elementary day struggle of learning to write cursive, and to this day my cursive is problematic. My students are continually asking me, “What does this word say?” when I hand back their work. I wish I could tell them.

Cursive is getting kicked to the curb these days. I wish it wouldn’t. I wish I had lovely handwriting. My mother has beautiful handwriting and it hasn’t changed in its precise simplicity in all the years I’ve known her. She laments, though, how she approaches her late eighties that she can’t write like she used to, blaming it on various ailments like arthritis and eyesight. I encourage her to keep up on her keyboarding. Emails and texts are great for instant communication, and yet I still appreciate receiving her snail mail as there is something truly lovely about receiving a handwritten letter.

The article’s author, Philip Hensher, starts out asking a rather private question: how many Christmas letters did I send out and how many did I receive. The MEPA keeps track of those statistics, and lets me know each year we receive less, so he sends out less. We usually get into a bit of a discussion of “Well, maybe we should keep sending them out in good faith” versus “Cross ’em off.” There are no easy answers or solutions on the Christmas card questions, which is not the point of Hensher’s opening lines. He simply is nudging the reader to remember the last time receiving an actual letter that contained a handwritten missive in a personally addressed envelope. Hmm, I’ll have to ponder on that. Beyond Mom, the only actual mail I receive at the PO box are bills or ad flyers. None are handwritten..

Hensher briefly covers the practice of handwriting and its implications for career placement and personality detection, along with its ability to bridge direct and intimate communications between people. A pause. Here I reflect on those moments in books and film where a letter plays an important part of the plot. Cyrano’s letters to Roxane are practically one of the leading characters of Rostand’s play. What about William’s group letter to his lovely “mark” in Knight’s Tale? Perhaps this is why tomes of correspondence remain popular reading items. Although I think it’s only polite to read someone’s letters if deemed permissible. I did turn away from reading Willa Cather’s letters, once I found out she never wanted them published. It seemed voyeuristic.

I have inherited a hefty box of letters from my great aunt, affectionately known as Auntie. These represent her time spent in New York when she attended the Julliard Institute on scholarship back in the heydays of the twenties. She wrote once, sometimes twice, a day to her mother back in Seattle. No handy telephone calls and definitely no Twitter communique in the twenties. She later traveled all around Europe on tour and penned her insights and reflections upon the changes the Fuhrer created upon the landscape. I began the arduous process of typing out her letters with the idea of creating a memoir of New York in the days of yesteryear since she gave such amazing detail. This might become a retirement project. Her handwriting is so fine and spidery it wears on my eyes and fingers to decipher them. There is also the fact that something is lost when transforming them from the loops and scrawls to the neat precision of typing. Now and then I will peruse them. Mostly I derive pleasure they are sitting in the box on my closet shelf. They are a bit of history and a bit of treasure.

 

Readers: Do you have a few treasured handwritten letters? What makes them so special?

 

Writerly Wisdom: V


Scrolling through all my former posts, I rediscovered a forgotten series I started way back when I first began blogging: quotes from writers.

Here is a quote found in Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door, a biography on Harper Lee:

p. 80:

[referring to her lifetime habit of reading, which she traces to her family reading aloud to her when young]

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

This quote encapsulates my philosophy about the learning process. As a teacher, I encourage students to look up information so that they will better remember it. The brain is a muscle and it needs a workout to stay strong and viable. I use both technology and the library stacks, yet I prefer thumbing through books over scrolling screens any day.

A Room Of My Own or a Writer In Woolf’s Clothing


image: amazon.com

While I’m not particularly a fan of Virginia Woolf, I do appreciate her unspoken contributions to women and writing. She once penned an essay discussing the need to have a room to create in, the desire to close out the responsibilities of mother and wife in order to be alone with self and creating. Rather a revolutionary idea in her time.
Though not so confined to the stove of domesticity these days, as a woman and a wife, mother, teacher, library trustee, GiGi–assorted other hat wearer, I too crave a room of my own. Carving out a space for personal creative endeavors has had its own set of challenges involving space and guilt.
We’ve tended on the small side of houses and squeezing out an area for a desk meant getting creative to find a creative corner. A door placed on top of filing cabinets worked for a time, but definitely cramped the bedroom and so we moved it out to the living room.  Still squishy. Ugly to boot.

When I switched to laptops, I got rid of the desk arrangement and I splurged, buying a loveseat the color of eggplant. I eked out a coveted thinking space in the bedroom, approximating nanoseconds of creative corner. The kids loved the idea that my office was purple.
Now, as an empty nester, I’ve commandeered one of the back bedrooms, I forget which progeny actually had it since they switched around so much. None of them can complain I’ve stolen their room. They know my standard reply anyway, “Your room? It was on loan for eighteen years.” My desk is an Ikea chair complimented by matching footstool to accommodate my two laptops (I still like my antiquated Dell, as I am trying to get used to my touch screen Lenovo). I have a rocking chair for when the MEPA wants to pop in and chat and a futon for the occasional overnight guest. This is where the guilt comes in: it feels a bit me-centric to devote one entire room towards my endeavors.

I know, I know–lots of people, lots of women have sewing rooms, craft corners, workshops, man caves and suffer not a twinge of remorse. I, on the other hand, do feel a bit bad about eradicating all traces of the progeny’s room. No beds, posters, old clothes, trophies remain; they truly are a guest when they visit.

Then again, I nudge away those nipping little guilts and conclude I should have no dilemmas about acquiring a room of my own. And this is where I have my moment of truth. Possessing a room of my own means I should make use of it, shouldn’t I? Then why am I writing this in the living room?

Pedestrian Thoughts


I do my best writing while out walking. There is something about the synced coordination of brain and body both exercising at the same time–I now understand the trend towards the new kinetic desks.

After an hour of sitting down at the laptop I get antsy and start moving around, tidying up, doing laundry, futzing and such. Writing in lock down mode doesn’t work well for me. Writers who state they sit down and work office hours have my admiration. This is why I appreciate Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian.”


Set in the future a man is out walking one night, his accustomed habit, when he is pulled over by the metro police–suspicious behavior since no one walks anymore, especially at night. The pedestrian ends up being taken in for “further questioning” when he reveals he is a writer–no one reads anymore either.
Fortunately, my walking habit is not deemed odd in our own days and times. Our little town has a refreshing diversity of walking paths and I do relish my times of walking briskly, revving up the muse and muscles. The exercise unknots plot stoppage, uncramps stiff dialogue passages, and opens up new avenues of thought, like blog posts. This one, matter of fact.

Reading Rainbow Redeux


I grew up with Reading Rainbow. Well, kinda sorta.  The MEPA and I were fairly strict about television (that and we didn’t want to pay for cable) and pretty much the only TV the kiddos watched came via PBS programming.  Reading Rainbow won out over Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. I didn’t want the television to be their babysitter so I would plunk myself down on the couch with them and we would relish our R&R time together.

image: geocaching.com “Take a look. It’s in a book. Reading Rainbow.”

The Grammy Award winning program aired from 1983 to 2009–that’s a lot of books! Levar Burton became as recognized and as trusted as Big Bird and Mr. Rogers in guiding children towards enrichment.

When Reading Rainbow went off the air, the world seemed a bit dimmer. Even though I hadn’t watched the show for years since the progeny grew up and moved to other entertainment *sniff* I still nurtured a soft spot for Levar’s brand of book boostering; if an episode aired and I happened to have the time I would watch it. With the passing of Reading Rainbow I thought “Well, there goes that wish.” You see, I harbored the secret wish of writing a book that might be selected as a Reading Rainbow feature read.

All is not lost, because Levar has fulfilled one of his secret wishes and has purchased the Reading Rainbow brand and is creating an app for this generation.  He initially hoped to raise one million dollars on Kickstarter–that amount was achieved in only one day.  He recently ended his campaign with a staggering amount of over five million dollars.

For more information go directly to the website. I’m looking forward to introducing Reading Rainbow to the grandkiddo.  Heck, I might download the app for myself.

Are you nostalgic for a little Reading Rainbow. Check this out:

Or maybe this one:

It’s easy to see Reading Rainbow made an impact on one generation.  I foresee its impact on this one.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Let’s Stop With The Cloning Around


STOP: SPOILER ALERTS for the following
Never Let Me Go
The Island
Moon
I, Robot
Oblivion
Frankenstein
Robocop

“Four legs real, fake legs baaaad.” image: nature.com

What is this fascination with the humanity aspect of clones or artificial intelligence? Why do we want to inject a soul into something man has created? Or a more defined question is: why do we explore whether man-made creations have a soul?

Is it guilt? Afterall, creation is best handled by the Creator, the One who has the Master Plan. That statement could incite a whole firestorm of commentary in itself, which is fine, but I’m really after the literary and even film aspect of cloning/artificial intelligence.
For instance, having just finished Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro, I began thinking about other cloning works: The Island,Moon, Oblivion, and while there are other aspects attached to these films, the main takeaway: “cheated.” The clones are cheated because even though they look human, act human, they are not, which becomes a matter of concern because there is an investment of empathy for these characters, yet part of me says “Wait! They aren’t real.” I feel cheated because I am tricked (seemingly) into believing and caring about something I inherently don’t subscribe to: cloning.
Have you ever tasted imitation crab? Once–thank you very much. Looks like (mostly), tastes like it (kind of), smells like (a bit), same texture (not really). After being duped into eating it I came away with the same feeling: cheated.
Duplicating sheep, crab, humans–it’s not the same, and can never be. I believe in science; I do not subscribe to Luddite philosophies, but there are moral boundaries and these boundaries keep reappearing in novels and films as guilt and even revulsion. Why?
I think we try to justify the curiosity to recreate human life through the compassion for the Creature, as in the case of Frankenstein. The Wretch had initial goodness until it met up with repeated rejection. However, Shelley pointed out the disastrous results of man attempting to recreate man.
We root for Tom Cruise (Oblivion) and Sam Rockwell (Moon) as clones, only because we thought they were human. Upon realization they were clones I immediately reneged my emotional investment–I had been cheated, someone had switched in that imitation crab.
I have no problem with robots though. The A.I. component works for me. I liked R2D2, who didn’t? And Sonny, from I, Robot? A charmer. They were machines with heart; they did not have a soul. Machines are machines. On the other hand, that fuzzy line is not so warm and fuzzy when it comes to cloning: Humans with no soul? Are these simply sophisticated machines with feelings?
Which brings me to my latest Ishiguro read, Never Let Me Go. Having heard raves about it, and having read two other of his novels, I looked forward to this particular one. Ishiguro’s style of unreliable first person narrative and undercurrent, deceptively complex plot is very much evident. It wasn’t until about halfway through I realized I’d been cheated. Here I thought Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy were victims of a cruel government experiment, only to discover (oh so subtly) they are clones. Dissapointment. I finished the novel, although I felt a detached flatness. No joy in that one. I did feel a resonance with Robocop, but then has man trapped in a machine. And even though he was mostly machine I rooted for him because people I can relate to–fake crab, not.
Anyone else have thoughts on cloning in literature in regards to character empathy?

Book Booster Beckonings


 

Book Booster

I have been quite remiss in my blog hostessing. Usually I invite new followers to add their name to the Book Booster roster. If you are a recent follower, please accept my apologies for not having invited you sooner. What’s a Book Booster? This is the detailed link and here is the short version:
Read books? Recommend books? Buy or checkout books by the armload? Have a TBR list and stack longer and taller than Superman can leap over in a single bound? Consider yourself a Book Booster and consider this your invite.

What are the benefits?
If you are hoping for a Barnes and Noble discount, I’m afraid the details are still sketchy on that one.
And reserved parking at the library is still being negotiated.
I am still working on that secret handshake.
However, you can revel in the knowledge you are in great company and you can spend hours clicking to connect with other Book Boosters.

While I can’t guarantee all the links are still active I can ensure you will no doubt discover a few new blogs to follow, and in turn they will no doubt find and follow you and that Six Steps Separation thing gets one step closer to becoming a big blogging bunch of Book Boosters.

What? You’re not on the list and you thought you were? I can fix that…

So send me your “Of course add me to the roster” approval and then it’s happy browsing.

Blue Skies and Happy Reading,

C. Muse

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: