Archive for May, 2014

My Father’s Books

My father left around 350 books when he died. He wished they go to a small library in Texas. Unfortunately that didn’t seem to exist anymore. No problem, right? We could donate them elsewhere. Nope. The majority of his books are in Czech. There aren’t a whole lot of people in South Carolina who speak the language. I know only a handful. And I’m not one of them. What to do?
We decided to donate them to whoever wanted them and could pay postage.
I spent several weeks typing a list of all the books. They looked like bildungsroman type, books I wouldn’t read even if I could read. Most were old, early 1900’s with a few in the latter twentieth century and a few from the late 1800’s. I didn’t bother with the little symbols, the ‘v’s over some letters, dashes over others, I just typed. I am pleased to say I actually could read the title of one book: Where’s the beer? I’ve heard the word ‘pivo’ for a good part of my life.
List done I sent it to my sister. I’d handled the probate, she can handle finding homes for these books. She couldn’t. She had one taker, a gentleman from the University of Austin. He really wanted the books only he didn’t have the funds to get them and I wasn’t driving 1000 plus miles to hand deliver them.
So, for three years the books sat on the shelves. Now I’m moving in with my Mom and they needed to go. Somewhere. One Friday I decided to do another search. The University of South Carolina had Slavic Studies. And I know the dean. How about that. That was pretty much it for SC. North Carolina. UNC had Slavic studies including the Czech language! I typed off an email right away. That done I searched for more places, any college with Czech studies, any communities with Czech libraries. Needless to say there are not a lot in the United States.
Later that day I checked my email. I had not one, but two responses to my initial email. The first saying they were forwarding the email to another person. The other person saying they’d be delighted with the books. I did a happy dance.


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On Moving

I am moving, packing up, and gaining a new residence. As horrifying as the whole act entails, I’m surprisingly upbeat about it. I’m either numb or crazy: I can’t tell yet.
I’m moving because my mom needs more help and the two hour distance isn’t cutting it anymore. If she needs help in a hurry it’s a ninety mile drive. I’ve already had to do this distance at close to midnight and I’d rather not do it again.
Back to moving. I think I moved into my current place ten years ago. I’ve been renting it. Several years ago I decided to purchase a home, but everytime I started looking something happened like my job became iffy, my dad got ill, the recession happened. I took all that as a sign and decided to wait. So, now I don’t have to worry about selling a house. I only have to worry about moving my stuff from point A to points B and C, B being my mom’s house and C, a storage unit. My mom’s place is filled to the brim with her stuff so most of my items will head off to storage. I thought about PODs, read the reviews (and the price!), and opted for a storage place.
Over the past months I’ve been creating piles in my house – take to B, take to A, garage sale, give to teachers at work. Everyday I slalom my way through the piles from the bedroom to the kitchen to the living room thinking: I can’t wait to get rid of this stuff. Last year groups offered tables at their garage sales for $10. Wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t offer any this year. No problem, I’ll find my own places, but this means I have to weave my way through the house for a little longer.
Now I’ve gotten to the stage where I am taking things to my mom’s. First off, a back up of my computer. Next to go – my books, and my old teddy bears. I had to clear out my dad’s books first, but that’s a whole other story. I have most of the books away so now I’m planning to take my clothes. You can see where my priorities are.

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Warning: If you read this your brain is rewiring itself.
I knew electronic devices were evil. Just kidding. But I have been interested in how using electronic devices affect our brains. Since I’m a person who likes the what-ifs in life, not just technology, but science in general, I found this article interesting and little scary.

For skimmers, this article cites a research in which it has been noted that the brain is adapting to the new habits of people skimming through chunks of writing on the internet and phones rather than deep reading. People read a few words and move on. Several real life examples are given including that of Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain,” who after a habit of scanning and using electronic devices had trouble reading Herman Hesse.
The brain research raises a concern that with young children using and mastering devices would stunt the development of deep reading skills. And there’s no turning back. Scary. Wolf says children should be given both print and books on devices in order for the brain.
After reading this article, my first thought was : who’ll read my books? Next thought: How will people be able to read technical manuals in order to operate equipment and understand them?

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Finlo Rohrer, author of the article in BBC Magazine “The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking” asks the question are people losing their love of walking without purpose. That got me to thinking about my walks. Do I walk for a reason – lose weight, get exercise, or do I walk just to think? My question is: can I combine the two?
Mr. Rohrer mentions Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking who lists music, texting, talking as no no’s. Well, darn. I listen to music, but I don’t always listen to it if you know what I mean. Sometimes I forget what’s playing.
I started walking to get exercise. Now I walk because it feels weird not to walk every day. I also walk because I pay myself a quarter for every twenty minutes I walk. That money is going toward my grand trip to New Zealand. I figure that will take a while. When I walk I think. I think about work. I think about a problem that’s cropped up. I think about writing. Walking is a good way to work out plot problems or get new ideas especially if you let your mind just wander around. Since I’m thinking about everything, letting my mind go hither and yon would Nicholson discount this as purposeless walking if I’m listening to music and exercising? I think it does.

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