Plane Trips Are Fun

Recently I went on a college-visiting trip to Chicago. The trip itself was awesome, but I want to focus more on the journey there, if I may. (Reading back this post makes me realize it’s probably tremendously dull to other people, but this is my blog, and the experience was interesting to me, so I’m posting it anyway like the Internet rebel I am.)

Now, I don’t think I need to explain to you lovely readers what the phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey is about. How it got to be the fastest-selling paperback book in history is beyond me, but I suppose today’s public no longer cares how explicitly erotic or terribly written their bestsellers are. What’s even further beyond me is how people expect it to be okay when they read it in public. It’s as if they think that nobody else knows what it’s about unless they’ve read it, too.

I have a message for those people: everyone knows what you’re reading. I’ve never read the book and never will. I know perfectly well what you’re doing as you sit on the beach or in the subway. You’ve got to be pretty gutsy, I’ll grant you, but it certainly makes me uncomfortable. Truth be told, seeing that kind of thing- and adapted from Twilight fanfiction, nonetheless- knocks my hope for humanity down a couple of points.

This leads me to the gate of our flight to Chicago, when the woman waiting in the seat across from us was thoroughly engrossed in her copy of Fifty Shades. Here I was with my giant paperback edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide books, and there she sat with that black cover on top of her lap in a horribly fascinating example of what passes for reading these days.

Needless to say, it put me off a bit. I even considered moving seats so as not to have to be faced with the display, but eventually settled on sitting quietly on my side of the aisle and minding my own business. I figured it was only until we boarded the plane, anyway. And looking back on it, I suppose she wasn’t bothering me directly. But still, it was the principle of the thing.

Well, we get on our flight eventually. It’s just my mom and myself who are taking the trip, and the seats are three to a row, but there’s no one sitting in the seat next to me. We were pretty far back in line, so I’m hopeful that I won’t have to sit next to a stranger for the two-hour flight. I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling asleep on top of me. I could use the armrest and not have it just sitting there between us because each person is too polite to claim it from the other one.

Alas, I dreamed too big. No sooner am I taking my seat than I notice there’s a book lying in the seat next to mine. Surprise, surprise: it’s a black paperback. Instantly I recognized it (my fellow book nerds will attest that we have the ability to identify many books we’re familiar with from just a bit of the cover). Of course, I could have had any other person on that flight as a seatmate, but no. With my luck, I ended up spending two hours with the very person who had made me squirm at the gate.

The flight itself passed uneventfully, and I’m sure she was a very nice woman, but I will never in my life understand how it’s acceptable to read Fifty Shades of Grey openly in a public place.

Happy reading.

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Bookmarks: A Personal History

I don’t really like using bookmarks. I never have that I can remember. The commercial ones you buy in Barnes & Noble or elsewhere always seem too bulky for me, not to mention they fall apart eventually, and anyway I never want to deal with the tassels. Same goes for metal ones, or strings: I’m super protective of my books and I feel like they’ll damage it if they’re too thick.

And, of course, I never could bring myself to dog-ear a page. That would just be defacing the book, and I could never stand that.

So for most of my childhood I never used any kind of marker. The strange thing was I never kept track of page numbers, either. I would just close the book, and when I wanted to pick it up again, I would flip through until I found where I had left off. It’s clear to me now that this was perhaps the least efficient method I could have used, but it worked for me and so that was what I did.

Then last year (I think it was last year, anyway) I came across the rather clever idea of using index cards. I had tons of extras lying in my room from making flashcards. They were thin, disposable, and reasonably durable to boot. And I had lots of others if I did lose or rip one.

So that’s what I use today. I realize this isn’t much of a post, but I’m not feeling well and also I seem to have run out of things to talk about regarding books. Maybe one of these days I’ll talk about Sherlock or something; heaven knows I can fangirl about that for an indefinite amount of time.

I’d like to hear some feedback from you lovely readers, though (if you can forgive me for largely neglecting you these past few months): what sort of bookmarks do you prefer? Do you have a favorite one? Or have you found an alternative, like me?

No pictures on this post, but I’m sure my fine readers can do without a stock photo of some index cards.

Happy reading.

P.S. A short side note about something I find extremely interesting. Some of you may be aware of the free iTunes app called iTunes U. Essentially, you can download free recordings of actual college lectures on a vast assortment of subjects. Recently I’ve been listening to a class called History of Children’s Literature from La Trobe University in Australia. It’s a really great course that covers everything from Peter Pan to folk tales, and I really recommend that you give it a try. It’s taught me a lot about the nature of fairy tales (I haven’t gotten through the whole course yet), and I’m sure it has a lot to say about more contemporary literature as well.

Things That Bother Me: Social Networking Edition

Good morning, readers.  Unless it is another time of day wherever you are, whenever you’re reading this.  In which case, insert the time of day where “morning” is.  There we go.  Perfect.

I’m in the midst of writing a RIVETING* research paper about George McClellan at the moment and cannot find time for much, which is why I’m writing this on Friday night in the hopes that I’ll remember to post it tomorrow morning.  That being said, I couldn’t bear the thought of doing two LazyPosts in a row, so I’m going to post about things I dislike about the Internet/social networking sites.

  1. People who promise ridiculous amounts of friend requests.  This has been cropping up on Facebook a lot lately.  It’s usually in the form of a comment on a page’s picture or post and has the following format:  Want 1000 Friend requests?!1  Add me [insert link to profile here] <—–  then LIKE this COMMENT n watch your friend Requests EXPLODE!!!11!!**  Other than these probably just being spam or a horrid attempt at getting subscribers to someone’s page, why would anyone want to do this?!  I mean, I certainly don’t want 1000 people I don’t know flocking to my requests inbox, and I don’t know why anyone else would.  It’s just plain weird.
  2. Memes that have outlived their expiration dates.  I realize it was hilarious two years ago to put a troll face on everything and call it a day, but come on.  Enough already.  It’s over.  There does come a time when there are literally no new situations you can put them in and have it still be funny.  Let the younger memes have their time in the spotlight.
  3. Any kind of “sub for sub” deal.  The idea is that someone puts out a “sub for sub” promotion involving their blog, YouTube channel, et cetera, wherein any subscribers will automatically get a subscription from that person.  I honestly don’t see why anyone would want to do this.  I mean, sure, you get more subscribers, but does that really mean anything if no one ever looks at your content?  Numbers mean nothing; it’s engagement that counts.
  4. People who comment on YouTube videos promoting their own channel.  I’m on YouTube a lot, readers, and I see this all the time.  YouTubers who aren’t well known will put a comment on any video basically begging people to come see their channel.  Not only does this never work (at least on me), it makes me think that maybe these people aren’t confident in their work.
  5. Comments on a video consisting of nothing more than an insult or slur.  I’m not going to repeat anything here, but I’m sure if you spend any time scrolling through comments of popular videos you’ll see them.  These are people who come across a video randomly, watch about (by my estimate) thirty seconds, and then decide that they don’t like the YouTuber.  So what do they do?  They leave a one- to five-word comment simply insulting the person or video.  Really, guys?  Is this the best you can do?***  Can’t you at least have an intelligent argument handy as to why you don’t like the video?  This would be a classic case of if you don’t have anything decent to say, hands off the keyboard.

Well, that’s about it for me.  I’m sure the first four things work for some people, but I really don’t see the point or benefit in any of them.  As to the last one, well, that should never happen.

This post was partially inspired by recent encounters on Facebook and partially by Louis Foulkes, one of my new favorite vloggers.  Here’s a video in which he talks about similarly annoying things in the social networking world:

Happy reading.

*The Caps Lock means I’m being sarcastic.

**See, you can tell how sincere the person is because of how much they forgot to hold down the shift key.

***Also newsflash: “nerd” is not an insult.  If you’re having trouble, I would recommend Shakespeare.

An Award Disguised As Some Tags

Good evening, readers!  Did you groan good-naturedly at my poor attempt at an April Fool’s post?…Great!  On with the show!

I’ve recently been tagged by no less than three incredible bloggers!  They are: Allegra from Here’s to Us, Erin of the newly renamed Nonsensical Ramblings and Insanity, and last but certainly far from least, Kirsten at Kirsten Writes!

There are, naturally, some questions involved and some passing-on-of-the-award-tag-thing to do.

The Rules:

  1. You must post the rules.
  2. Post eleven facts about yourself on the blog post.
  3. Answer the questions the tagger set for your in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
  4. Tag eleven bloggers; however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want.  Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
  5. Let them know you’ve tagged them!
  6. Have fun!

In accordance with above rules, I will now post eleven facts about myself:

  1. I am in all likelihood addicted to the Internet.  As in sometimes when I’m done checking up on my favorite websites I will open and close sites at random just to have something to do.
  2. My English class is tremendously challenging.  And that’s why I love it so much.
  3. I’m a bit of a pack rat.  Take, for example, my recent adventure cleaning out my old desk (because I had received a new, much nicer, one). I threw away about twenty pounds of junk- forgotten toys and action figures, textbooks from private school, key chains, et cetera.
  4. I have this really nerdy liking for The Remus Lupins (a wizard rock band), which gets me some REALLY weird looks when other people happen to see the albums on my iPod.  Same goes for my Hunger Games playlist (which includes yet more Alex Carpenter music).
  5. I really love when it rains.  I love hearing the sound of it on the roof and on the windows, and I love what it represents, that it can be such a destructive force and a lot of people hate it and yet it’s essential for plants to grow and life to happen.
  6. Ever since last summer, I’ve been strangely into wearing tank tops.  Around this time of year I can only really wear them inside the house because of the cold, but yeah.  Anyway.
  7. I’m still catching up with Doctor Who on Netflix, but I’ve stopped recently.  I’m holding off on watching David Tennant’s last episodes as the Doctor because I’m going to hate seeing him go.
  8. When I was a wee youngster, I was under the unshakable impression that I was great at drawing.  Alas, I cannot draw to save my life.  I was reminded of this during the aforementioned desk-cleaning.
  9. I have five months’ worth of Smithsonian magazines stacked up on my dresser because, what with all the books I’ve been reading, I haven’t had a chance to get around to them.
  10. This thermometer is probably the coolest non-franchise-related nerdy thing I own right now.  I think it’s pretty darn cool.
  11. Although I tried multiple times in my youth to be the journaling type, I never really got into keeping a diary.  As much as I love writing, writing about myself and my humdrum, nerdy life never seemed to work for me.

Now that that’s done with, I can get to the questions.  I’ll try to keep the answers short, because we’ve got a lot of them to go through.

Continue reading

The Like Button

Before I go any further, I’d like to acknowledge that I have been awarded another Versatile Blogger Award, this time at Life In A Notebook.  This happened a while ago, but I haven’t talked about it yet, and for that I apologize.  I’m incredibly grateful that someone feels as though I deserve a blogging award.  I’m not going to do the usual nominating/random facts thing, though, because I’ve already done plenty of that.  For a peek at the awards I’ve gotten in the past and thus the blogs you should follow, though, check out the “awards” tag in the sidebar.

Okay.  Today I’m going to break my normal tradition and talk about something un-book related.

I know.  Shocking, right?

Anyway, along with the emergence of Facebook came the notion of “liking” something.  That is, clicking a button showing your support of a post or whatever, or your agreeing with something.  It doesn’t require any actual effort from what I’ll call the liker, and it provides a means of saying something when there’s really nothing to say.

But it’s occurred to me that the like button may be hindering communication.

Recently I read a comment on a blog post that I really agreed with, but I didn’t have anything specific to say.  Gee, I thought, I wish there was a like button for comments.  Immediately afterward, I got to thinking about how people can no longer use words to express themselves.  We feel as though a like or a thumbs-up or whatever will be enough of a communication.  In a lot of cases, it is.

But no like button is a substitution for using language to get ourselves across.  No simple expression of our agreement can perfectly replace an intelligent discussion among different people.  Even if it’s just reiterating someone else’s point, even if it’s just agreeing, can’t we still use words for this?

I'm totally guilty of this, actually. (from someecards.com, I think)

For all of its ease of communication, social networking is to some extent lessening the contact we have with other people, at least in my humble opinion.  There are less face-to-face conversations nowadays.  Everything is getting more and more impersonal, and the like button only adds to this.

I’m not completely knocking the like button.  It certainly has its uses.  All I’m saying is if you feel as though you have something to contribute to a conversation, don’t stop at liking a post.  Get involved; make a point; do something to let the person who posted know you read/looked at whatever it is and are truly interested in it.

Sorry to get all preachy on you, readers, but I felt like I needed to put this out there.  Now that I think about it, though, this is really close to the issue that forms the core of the short story I’m sharing with you guys starting next week…I swear I didn’t do that on purpose.  Weird.

Happy reading!

I Suppose This Post Isn’t Really About One Specific Thing.

Well, readers, it’s the weekend once more.  To be honest, I don’t really have much to talk about.  If you don’t want to read many hundred words of my babbling about books I’m going to read at some point in the future and books I’m reading now, you should probably just stop here.  I won’t be offended; I promise.

My reading is still slow going until I get onto something new, and I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I want to, so there’s nothing coming down that creative channel.  However, I made a promise both to myself and to you lovely people that I would be writing a post twice a week to the best of my ability to do so, and since I’ve been doing almost nothing all afternoon but streaming Parks & Recreation* on my computer, it is most definitely within my ability to write one today.

First off, I suppose I should hash out a game plan for the next year, seeing as how this is our last shot at actually planning out an entire year until the apocalypse (I’m kidding, everyone).  You remember the Eclectic Reading Challenge, don’t you?  Well, I’ve worked out with my oh-so-clever brain that the number of genres I have to read (twelve) corresponds to the number of months in the year (which is also twelve, wouldn’t you know it).  So, my plan is to read and review one book per month.  January’s book will be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, as per a commenter’s request (just the first one, though; I’m not really in the mood to read a five-book trilogy all at once).

On a related note, did you know the books were based off of a radio series made by the author?  According to Wikipedia, at any rate.  And everyone knows Wikipedia is the best source for factual information.

Moving on.  You can always check out all of the books I’ll be reading for the Challenge up at the page called “The Challenge.”  If you have a book to recommend for me to read next (meaning in February), please, let me know.  Help me make sense of this gigantic stack of books in my room (which will be growing again this week because The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is coming in the mail)(wow, are there a lot of parentheticals in this post).  If you’ve even read this far.  In which case, bonus points to you, good sir or madam!

So, the author's site calls it a "technothriller"...which I suppose is an adequate term.

Last order of business: Omnitopia Dawn, the book I’m hoping to finish quite soon.  I like it a lot, and I think it’s because it’s basically a computer book.  You know the type, with lots of hacker jargon and coding talk.  It’s actually a near-future tale about a World of Warcraft-type online game, in case you need the background.

My main point, though, is that for some reason I love books with lots of technical computer stuff in it.  I’m not sure why, because none of what they’re talking about makes much sense to me.  At the same time, though, I don’t need to understand to understand.  I get the gist of it.  Does that make sense to anyone here?  Another example of this type of book is Evil Genius (which is such a good book, everyone should read it) and, I’m told, Brain Jack, which I bought about a week or so ago but probably won’t get around to for a while. My main point is, do any of you like this subgenre (can I call it that?), readers?  If so, do you feel like you need to understand it, or does it not matter to you?

Well, I think this is a good enough post about nothing at all.  I really do apologize for the lack of actual quality here; apparently the creative side of my brain is taking a sabbatical.  It’s probably from all the Parks & Rec.

Happy reading.

*Speaking of the show, does anyone here watch it?  And if you do, isn’t it AMAZING?!