Friday, July 27, 2007

How I Read Books

This is a topic I can discuss endlessly.

When I was growing up, reading books was the center of my universe. It was my primary source of entertainment, anodyne for boredom, solace in the midst of peer rejection, refuge from yard work. It was so primary in my life that my dad actually thought I read too much and wanted to limit my time with books. Fortunately the almost religious degree of respect society has for books made it impossible for him to restrict my reading, but he certainly tried to replace it with yard work and tennis lessons. I don't think he had any pleasure in reading, or he perceived it as a waste of time.

I can list my favorite series and authors ad infinitum, but that is only of interest to myself and other bibliophiles. What interests me at present is HOW people read. I am a skimmer; I read through fiction really quickly although I slow down somewhat for nonfiction since I am reading for detail. My favorite way to read fiction is to quickly get the gist - the basic outline - and then read my favorite portions a second and/or third time. This only applies to really enjoyable fiction, of course. If I'm not really interested, I won't read it again.

If you think about it, it's actually a very time-efficient method. If a book is boring, I have invested very little time in it. But if it's good - like a Harry Potter, or Anne McCaffrey, or Robin McKinley, a Colleen McCullough Rome book, or Stephen R. Lawhead's Avalon - then I can re-read it many times over the years and get to enjoy the experience all over again.

This is NOT a good thing when reading non-fiction. I am rather disinterested in fiction at present, having found nothing as good as the stuff I read when I was younger. (Harry Potter, again, is the exception.) So I've been on a history/biography/cultural history kick for several years now. Skimming is pointless when you're reading for content, so I've had to learn how to slow down and read almost every word.

So I read HP & The Deathly Hallows in about 5+ hours, which averages out to about 140 pages an hour. And yes, I brag about it as if it's a talent or skill! Which is ridiculous, because it's simply the way my brain processes text. I think it's how my subconscious seeks to stretch out its enjoyment of a story; if I really like the story, I want to re-experience it over and over again. Like eating fried chicken - you go over it once, get most of the meat, then go back for any bits left behind. Although I don't like fried chicken.

I miss the reading. Once my TV-watching was no longer restricted, I've spent much less time in books, and now I have fallen out of the habit. I have stacks of books around my apartment that I've been collecting and planning to read; enough to keep me occupied around the clock for a few years if I had no distractions or TV. I've gone from 5-7 books a week as a child to 1 or 2 a month. But thank goodness for iPods and audiobooks! I've gone through so many books on my long commutes that I would never have gotten to read, and it has forced me to learn to process at a slower speed, since you cannot "skim" an audiobook!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


OK, once again, I have TRIED the mish-mash that is Last Comic Standing, hoping that it might recapture some of the formula of the first 2 seasons.

It hasn't.

They picked their final 10, and the best comedienne on the stage didn't make it. Typical.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present Fiona O'Laughlin, of Alice Springs, Australia:

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I finished the 7th and last Harry Potter book at 4:34 Saturday afternoon.


Friday, July 20, 2007

The Next Tom Hanks

Can I just say how much I enjoy seeing John Krasinski from The Office in interviews? I have rarely seen any actor so engaged and so entertaining in a one-on-one media setting. I have quite the crush on his TV character Jim Halpert, but in person he is actually funnier and seems to be having such a good time. Maybe because he hasn't done enough press junkets to be jaded and blase yet... ahhh, may that day be far off.

Here's one of his best interviews, from Conan:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grandma's Cures

One of those Frequent Forwards, but I find these irresistable. I keep hoping they'll ultimately come up with a "to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, eat 4 ounces of Toblerone daily with a diet coke."

Keep This Handy On The Fridge

  • Did You Know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately -- without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional "pain relievers."
  • Did you know that Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns.
  • Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They'll clear up your stuffed nose.
  • Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 Tablespoon of horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil, for instant relief for aching muscles.
  • Sore throat? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.
  • Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer. Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly-- even though the product was never been advertised for this use.
  • Honey remedy for skin blemishes... Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.
  • Listerine therapy for toenail fungus. Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.
  • Easy eyeglass protection... To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear nail polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.
  • Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer .. If menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you can't find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly.
  • Smart splinter remover. just pour a drop of Elmer's Glue-All over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.
  • Hunt's tomato paste boil cure... cover the boil with Hunt's tomato paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.
  • Balm for broken blisters... To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine... a powerful antiseptic.
  • Vinegar to heal bruises... Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.
  • Kill fleas instantly... Dawn dish washing liquid does the trick. Add a few drops to your dog's bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Good-bye fleas.
  • Rainy day cure for dog odor. Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe down the animal with Bounce or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh.
  • Eliminate ear mites... All it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your cat's ear... Massage it in, then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for 3 days. The oil soothes the cat's skin, smothers the mites, and accelerates healing.
  • Quaker Oats for fast pain relief... It's not for breakfast any more! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Recurring Dream, part 2

So last night I had my new nightmare - two times is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.

I loathe horror films. Don't ever, ever want to see one. Don't understand how anyone can get any enjoyment from them AT ALL. Don't understand how there can even be a market. And don't even get me started on the latest trend of Torture Porn that passes for horror nowadays.

But on occasion, if the trailer looks interesting, I will sometimes go on and read the storyline just to see how it ends. I made the mistake of reading the breakdown for Dawn of the Dead a few years ago when it came out, and have been haunted ever since. Now, my nightmares consist of zombies and people trying to escape from them, and my family is involved. It's exhausting, because there's no safety to be found anywhere. It's my old fear of societal breakdown/Armegeddon, kicked up a notch. Endless running, trying to rescue family members, trying to find a safe place...

I woke up with this in my mind at 4 am, and could not banish it, even with prayer, or trying to focus on more pleasant things. I finally took some GABA Complex [side note: amazing little amino acid that will let you go back to sleep when your mind won't stop spinning! no side effects] and dropped back off to sleep, but this morning a residual anxiety and melacholy still lingers. My daily
Kitties and Bunnies aren't doing the trick either, so I thought I'd write this out.

So, if your dreams are a reflection of your inner conflicts, then what does this say about me?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Dreamed...

...last night that I was re-hired to my old IT job at William Morris... and it was dreadful. It was in a new building, but we were packed into one long row of cubicles with an aisle down the center... and I couldn't get anyone to really look at me or talk to me. It was crowded with very little space, and there was this air of unhappiness and anxiety.

I remember thinking, "I am SO much better equipped for this job now; I know so much more, they'll be impressed..." but I kept thinking of my little part-time job at the AEA, where I was given so much freedom, and thinking "I don't want to give that job up!" and dreading having to go in and quit.

Amazing how the Dream Job can become the Dreaded Job!

Monday, July 02, 2007


I am swamped with work at present, which should make me happy since it usually means an increase in income... but for some reason, it just frustrates and stresses me.

And yes, I do realize that I'm not really helping myself by taking time to blog about it... but I'm hoping that by journaling this out it will give me some sense of control over the chaos.

Most of my web-design clients want me to work on something for them this week. But I don't know how best to put them in order of importance/significance. Part of the problem is that I spent the entire weekend working on stuff; babysitting overnight for Elder Sister, then spending and afternoon and evening at a music gig with the band, then getting up early to run the baby room for both services at church, then making a birthday cake and celebrating a friend's birthday. All of them, good things I generally enjoy... but when every hour has some demand upon it, even enjoyable things become an ordeal to be "gotten through".

My apartment continues its slow decline into entropy - now, besides the lock being hopelessly jammed on my front door (and 4 phone calls to get it fixed - we'll just see when I go home if they finally did something!), the tub faucet won't turn all the way off - the knob just keeps twisting around and around, resulting in a perpetual trickle. The paint is peeling off of everything outside, the carpet is spotted and stretched so there are speed bumps every few feet, and the medicine cabinet door is sagging. Oh, and my car door on the passenger side is making a rattling sound, and the lock for it seems unnaturally recessed, which makes me suspect that the body work last fall was poorly done.

I need a week where I can just get things fixed. I'm tired, I'm ill-tempered and impatient, and I don't know how it'll all get done. I don't like telling people that I can't do something they've requested; although get me worked up into a panic attack and I'll quit in seconds! Not panicking at present... just not happy.

I wish someone would just give me a lot of money and a plane ticket to London. But it never happens.