Friday, May 26, 2017

Instagram and Photography

I feel pressured when I take photos; I'm often thinking in terms of my blog (which is why I got my camera), and so when I don't take photos for my blog, when I don't like the time and the pressure, I forget about documenting my and my family's life.

I am not at ease with photography. I hate feeling watched and rushed. I don't understand it or what I'm missing easily. It just doesn't click for me very well. But I've made HUGE progress. I need to keep it up. I'm need to find balance. I don't have to have tons of photos for my blog, but I do need to take photos of my life to preserve memories. And if I want good photos, then I need practice.

I'm a perfectionist. I think that quality is important. This clashes with the fact that I think that not wasting time is important and that I tend to want to see instant results; well, I cannot deliver results without practice. I tend to give up. I tend to waste time in other ways though; I need to learn balance. If I'm annoying impatient people (ahem), I need to learn to speed up my process and to take a break (I didn't need to get San Diego Zoo photos). I need to think in terms of practice as well as time management. I need to think in terms of life as well as blog (by the way, some people have talked of using their blog to preserve memories, to possibly print later; I think that is a lovely idea).

I got on Instagram to grow my blog. After looking at the labor of putting DSLR photos on Instagram, I opted to use my iPhone which I usually use only for my pets, library re-borrowing stacks, and photos for ideas or for notes. I felt pressured on Instagram and was unhappy with my photos even after spending too much effort on them. I found a tutorial that explained editing. . . what a crazy lot of time for "snaps" to go on Instagram. And then I spent so much time scrolling through my feed and not receiving much in return. A low inspiration to time ratio. I got off Instagram. I think that if I ever do use it for my blog, I will try to use photos that I've already taken even if it is tedious. That seems a better use of my time. 

I don't want to spend time on iPhone photos that aren't worth much. I want to focus on quality photos, BUT I do think I need to be willing to sacrifice quality for memories when need be instead of the other way around. These however, wouldn't be for my blog, when I take iPhone photos for my blog, I'm being lazy, when I use them for family and friends, I'm being practical; there will be some moments I miss or people I annoy if don't allow for this.

I need to work on my composition. I love Ginny Sheller's style of photography; I want to catch moments and style crafts like that. I focus so much on pristine photos, but I like this blog; the lady's photos aren't professional but the colors, lighting, subjects, and composition are interesting and in photojournalism style.  

I just spilled all my internal processing out; I'm not a succinct or lucid person, so I don't know if any of this made sense. I'm just trying to work out what works for me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Another Book Tag

I will use all the interesting tags I find regardless of whether I'm tagged specifically or generally. I found this one here.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
For fiction, probably the three tiny Barnes and Noble books I bought ages ago of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Ivanhoe. How I wish I’d snatched up more, but I didn’t know all the books they had at that point in my life. I did find The Secret Garden at Goodwill a couple years ago. I wish Barnes and Noble would put those out again.

For all times, excluding Bibles, Good Housekeeping’s the Illustrated Book of Needlecrafts. I used that so often in the earlier knitting days before I discovered reams of stitches and aids online.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
My last read was the second book of ND Wilson's Outlaws of Time: The Song of Glory and Ghost. I'm still reading Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry, and I'm also reading Dombey and Son (I just picked up where I left off months ago, and thankfully, the book starting to pick up in interest at that point). As to what I will read next, well, I am a bit random and moody in my reading. I have mostly reference books and history books, but A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Habib Hourani and Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution are my priority. I have a Georgette Heyer novel, but I might have to make a quickie run to the library or raid my sisters' shelves or something for some fiction to help me finish my nonfiction (yes, that is how that works).

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
Code Name Verity is popular in the blogosphere, and I wrote a post about my issues with it.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
Many books on my Classic Club list. Except I’ve now pretty much decided not to force myself on some of them.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?  
Anything I’m not motivated to read now that I might be interested in then.

6. Last page: read it first, or wait 'til the end?  Wait for the end!
If I’m enjoying the book, then I try to wait until the end. But if I’m not and decided not to finish reading, then I will skim the rest.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
Boring, although I like looking for the author’s family at the end.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Maybe Nell, in Lantern Bearers, so I could marry Aquila and experience ancient Britain.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)
Well, the books from my grandparents’ collection that I got after they downsized or that they gave to me earlier remind me of their old library (it was a bedroom that had a glass door; they had a computer in it, and they had a full bookshelf, a double full bookshelf, and three half bookshelves, or something like that plus boxes of books in the closet). I got several of the books I’d only ever read there (Mother was a gift, but Old-Fashioned Girl and At Boarding School with the Tucker Twins* I got to take), but there are a few for which I wish I’d remembered to ask (To Have and to Hold and A Long Fatal Love Chase). And I wonder what happened to their Bobbsey twin books?

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.
I think the above is interesting because two of the books are antique copies, but another interesting one is that my grandmother bought me a book about regency times at a JA festival and the author signed it.

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?  

12. Which book has been with you most places?
I didn’t personally own most of my books when I was younger. Maybe my American Girl books. Although I gave them to my sisters (or they appropriated them) after I got older.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad later?
I didn’t have too much required classic reading. And I loved a lot of the historical fiction we were assigned.

14. Used or brand new?
If used is like bran' new, then both, if not, then bran' new.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott (and I watched the movie first, but the book is silly)

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?  
I like reading about the different food although I'm not sure it would make me hungry. L.M. Montgomery often mentions food that sounds quite delicious.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
Um, no one? I'll try what I think interesting of many people's recommendations, but I don't implicitly trust to like all any one person's suggestions. Everyone has different tastes, even my sisters although I may take their advice more seriously than I would other people . . . even though the advice may be “you wouldn’t like it.”

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
No, I don’t think so. I don’t know how to define out of my comfort zone . . . if I start liking it, then it IS in my comfort zone. Books that seem different or unusual in subject or style, like The Outsiders and Book Thief, might be easier for me to answer. And I just did. Books that I consider out of my comfort zone would fall into genres I invariably dislike or at least feel somewhat indifferent toward, e.g. Science Fiction.

*I love most of this book, but be forewarned I had to eliminate some pages because of MAJOR racist language and issues (none of this is remotely integral to the story, not the main theme like in say The Deerstalker or something).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Robin Hood Week Link Up

I'm joining here for Olivia@Meanwhile in Rivendell's Robin Hood Week tag.

What was your first exposure to Robin Hood?
I can't remember. The basic story is common knowledge.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a fan are you?
Maybe a 7?

How many versions and spin-offs of the legend have you experienced?
The first that I can remember is when Robin Hood appears in Ivanhoe (Mom read this to us, and I’ve seen a couple versions). I think I read or skimmed The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green. I've watched the animated Robin Hood movie, and I watched the first two seasons of the BBC Robin Hood. After Marian died and I heard a bit about the 3rd season, I decided it was too sacrilegious (like the 3rd unmentionable Anne movie, though I did watch that and annoyed my family with my raving; of course, the first two are inaccurate also but the inaccuracy increases from movie to movie). I think Howard Pyle has a Robin Hood book, and I'd like to watch the Errol Flynn Robin Hood movie and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Those are all I know of, but I'm open to more.

What is your favorite version of Robin Hood (can be book, movie, TV series, anything)?
The BBC miniseries. This version is so inaccurate both as to the myth and the possible historical period, that the issue doesn't matter to me (I must have either perfect or awful). I just find it, particularly I think the second season, so fun.

Are you one of the lads? (Meaning, have you watched/are you a fan of the BBC show?)
Yes. Alan is my man.

Who is your favorite Merry Man?
Alan. My favorite couple is Will and Djaq, and I don't think they get enough time.

Do you have a favorite portrayal of Lady Marian?
The fox Marian? The first season of BBC Marian is a self-righteous brat, but then she matures.

Do you have any interest in or aptitude at archery?

Fact or fiction -- which do you think? 
Perhaps like King Arthur there might be some very slight shadow of fact, but it is majorly myth.

Do you think Robin Hood has been "done to death," or are there still new twists that can be found?
Oh, no. I'm always up for retellings of myths, legends, fairytales, books, etc.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Depth vs. Complexity

Depth vs. Complexity. I am not good at finding the right words like this (for this reason I was SO happy to see the juxtaposition in the second article; now I know what I mean!), but these are the concepts that I consider when thinking about characters and stories in movie and books. I do think complexity is probably too dignified a term for what I mean (chaotic is probably better) and breadth might be a better one for the article. And I don't want simplistic (for stories) or narrow (for knowledge).

Comprehension vs. Trivia or Depth vs. Breadth. Mindfulness is important in choosing books, in reading the books, and in processing the books. That is why I'm pretty happy with my low number of books, but why I have room for improvement. I think this issue of depth vs. breadth is part of the issue I have with constantly having to "be in the know" with the news . . . you could pick up a book (by a scholar who has studied the subject not someone who has experienced or seen the issues, not all nonfiction by professionals is scholarly!) on the issues at hand, how else do can you understand the world? What is the good of knowing without comprehending (and again, some books are about knowing not comprehending)?

Interested vs. Interesting. I think the issue with many people is one of motivation. Being a homebody can be a lovely thing . . . if it is done from love rather than fear and if the homebody does and can venture out from time to time. Many people are interesting because they are interested and therefore, knowledgeable and confident.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Beauty and the Beast 2017 Review

FYI, I watched this film almost two months ago although I wrote my notes well before this. 

I had low expectations when we watched this, so I like it better than I expected or at least I liked it okay instead of hated it? My expectations for Cinderella barely existed. A friend pointed out that Cinderella was rather a surprise, that it wasn't emphasized very much. When movies get tons of attention, I often don't like them because I forget that I don't have the same taste as other people and raise my standards unintentionally. I prefer to know little going into books and movies. 

So, I had stacked my expectations (known and unknown) against Beauty and the Beast
~Not Cinderella 2015
~Not my favorite plot
~Star-studded (often means stars overshadow movie or character or change movie or aren't really a good fit)
~A musical (I don't dislike musicals; my favorite music is from musicals, but in terms of overall movie choice, I prefer a more developed story)
~Director of Twilight vs. Kenneth Branagh (no wonder Cinderella is so brilliant)
~My dissatisfaction with the casting and the suspicion that Emma Watson couldn't sing, partially proven by movie clips
~The moral scandal (and yes, they did everything quite deliberately with the media focus)

What I liked
~Dan Steven's voice.

~Evermore (I've listened to this so many times).

~Luke Evan's voice ("Kill the Beast" is where his vocals really got me).

~Seeing Dan Steven's facial expressions in the beast (that is so fascinating).

What I disliked aesthetically
~I preferred the bright, clear, sparkling, sunny visuals of Cinderella, and I prefer the greater depth in Cinderella that a non-musical allows.

~My favorite musical themes were cut short.

~I prefer the original version of "Beauty and the Beast."

What I disliked in the plot
~In addition to the fact that a musical format doesn't allow for much depth, this film had waaay too many plot lines and so none of them felt completed or deep. I always prefer simpler and deep to intricate and shallow (i.e. unfinished).

~The original movie had enough plot lines, this one added more and increased the old ones, so much so I felt that Belle and the Beast's romance and the Beast's transformation is eclipsed; both feel comparatively short or rushed, and I feel like they hardly get any attention at the end.

~Enough has been said on the moral issues that I won't address it here except to state that besides the subplot being distraction, the immorality is also a distraction.

What I disliked about the casting and acting
~Star-studded casts often means stars overshadow movie or character or change movie or aren't really a good fit and all three apply for Emma Watson in this; she overacts and cannot sing (you would think an excellent voice is essential for a role in a musical, but after seeing the movie versions of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, I wasn't surprised).

~I love Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars, he is adorable, but he is not the Greco-Roman looking blond god-figure the animated version promised. He is sweet and candid looking, not the kind of handsome that can really pull off regal dignity and arrogance.

~I wasn't happy with Luke Evans either, he is too old and not the fleshy, bold Gaston kind of handsome (I don't think he handsome in this film at all), but I think he performed his role the best.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A to Z Book Tag

I found this tag on You, Me, and a Cup of Tea. Note: this post was written on 5/10/17 so current and just-reads might no longer be accurate, but then I've been dragging my feet so who knows.

Author you've read the most books from
Agatha Christie, around 35. This isn't because she is a favorite author, its just that most authors aren't that prolific, many because they focus more on quality.

Best sequel ever
Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson (such a leap and just so exciting after the slow-moving first) and Nomad by R.J. Anderson (so, so satisfying, this was a stay-up-into-the-wee-sma's-to-finish-book).

Currently reading
Re-reading the American Girl books starting with Kaya, not sure I will continue with that though. And also reading Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry for my self-taught U.S. history course.

Drink of choice while reading
Whole milk.

E-reader or physical book
Physical book. I have a hard time focusing when trying to use a screen, and then I don't absorb what I read very well.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school
I'm trying to think of a book character I "knew" in high school, so probably a childhood book crush. I loved Henry Alden as a kid. I also had a crush on Ethan from Calico Bush and Lewis from the Caroline Little House books.

Glad you gave this book a chance
The Penderwicks and Harry Potter. I had dismissed them as children's books (Why?! Middle grade are the best of modern books!), but when I got hooked into these series, I got hooked!

Hidden gem book
A Snicker of Magic. The Key to Extraordinary. An Ordinary Princess. Wildwood Dancing.

Important moment in your reading life
When I finally started to get the hang of reading again.

Just finished
From Pride to Humility. An excerpt booklet that Mom wanted me to read ages ago.

Kind of books you won't read
Besides books with moral issues, much pop fiction and nonfiction and Christian fiction and anything that I start to really dislike right in the middle or that I can tell won't end well.

Longest book you've read
According to my Goodreads stats (just found that after reading the original tag post and Googling; wow, how much I've missed; you MUST look at yours) Les Misérables at around 1,500 pages. Not worth it. Read the abridged version, the extra pages are literally pointless filler.

Major book hangover because of...
Swift and Nomad and who knows what other books. I think those caused the most major hangovers.

Number of bookcases you own
2. Well, I don't technically own them, I have them in my room.

One book you have read multiple times
JA novels and North and South are the ones I've counted.

Preferred place to read
In my bed.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read
Captain Wentworth's letter. Actually that entire "scene" in the novel. I noticed so many more details about his movements and listening this time around. And then entire "scene" at the end of North and South.

Reading regret
I am starting quit books I loathe, so I usually regret reading too far. But some series, like The Selection and Twilight series I'm embarrassed to say I enjoyed and/or continued reading when I started getting disgusted (or should've been disgusted).

Series you started and need to finish (all books are out in series)
I think that I'm caught up on all the series I've deemed worth finishing.

Three of your all-time favorite books
I'll try to pick ones that I've liked the longest and that can stand alone in my opinion. Eagle of the Ninth, Emily Climbs, and Calico Bush.

Unapologetic fangirl for...
Hmm. When I get too fangirly I'm at the tipping point of liking, just about to make myself start getting sick of something. I'm not big into fangirling and fandoms, they get annoying.

Very excited for this release more than all the others
The final Penderwick book. I'm very afraid I might hate it or aspects of it, though. Please don't pull a Jo and Laurie trope!!!!!!!

Worst bookish habit
Checking too many library books out and dragging my feet and not getting to them in time. Also, racking up fines at the library

X marks the spot: start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book
Jane Eyre.

Your latest book purchase
I don't know exactly, it has been awhile, and it was probably nonfiction so I will do gifts. I received a gorgeous anniversary copy of The Book Thief for Christmas.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late)
I don't remember.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tracking What I Read and Watch and How I Find Books and Movies to Watch and Link Love

I love being able to look at my book reading and movie watching data. I also like having lists for shopping. And I have all my reading and movie watching information spread all over, so I'm trying to streamline my to-read, have-read, to-watch, and have-watched lists. I had had bookmark folders, bullet journal lists, Goodreads lists, library lists, and Amazon lists. I've recently managed to eliminate the bookmark folders; I was just lazily bookmarking instead of putting books and movies on my serious lists. I've also streamlined my Goodreads and bullet journal lists.

I use Goodreads to track what I have read, and I recently re-organized my shelves to be able to understand the data better. I emptied my to-read list (not useful and mostly forgotten) and I don't really use my currently reading list (pointless, in my opinion). I've also transferred my to re-read list to my reading notebook (I need to use that more!), and I'm starting to count my re-reads on Goodreads (yay for this option!). I have to pace my re-reads and am a moody reader, but do you have a "literary medicine cabinet"?

I put all the books that I can on my lists in my library account. For the books unavailable at my library, I have handwritten and Amazon inter-library loan lists. These combined lists are too huge to realistically be left to inter-library loans, so perhaps I will force myself to use my Kindle app or will eventually be able to buy or borrow from other people. I almost constantly have many library books on hand and am trying to keep my fiction book collection low for now because of space and my re-reading and pickiness choices. How do you choose?

I have movie to-watch lists in my bullet journal, and I've put some on a basic movie list in my library account. But movies are less likely to be in either of the library systems I use plus I think I just prefer my paper lists right now. I did digitize movies that I have watched already with Letterboxd. I'm still getting used to it, and I cannot customize as much as on Goodreads, but my main need (movies watched by month for blog posts) is answered.


I find many fiction books through the blogs I read, and I find some through catalogs, searching, word of mouth, and common knowledge. I usually search for nonfiction by looking on Pulitzer History, Francis Parkman, and Bancroft Prize Winner lists, looking on Amazon, and sometimes looking on suggested reading lists. With the later two options, I often try to look up the credentials of the author. I'd prefer to read the work of a serious historian on history, an economist on economics, etc., not the work of a journalist, politician or some other amateur on the subject. Occasionally I will find authors mentioned or will read articles they've written which leads me to their works.

For movies I collect my lists through blog suggestions and the occasional search as well. I'm not a film buff and would prefer to keep my book reading pace far faster than my movie watching pace. I do think reading (when reading well) is a far better occupation than movie watching. And I'm afraid as a country we don't take this seriously enough

I've added a new reading challenge page. Check out the Travel the World in Books challenge.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What I Read and Watched April

Yeah, I don't think the quarterly options are going to work, I had to cut down what I wanted to say far too much for the first quarter. And this is going to be long for one month even though I read less than my average last three months. My sister got married at the end of the month, so yeah, my focusing ability ended about that week. I only watched one new to me movie that I can remember, the 1961 The Parent Trap, and we watched that twice and want to own, definitely recommend as its hilarious. And then I found the Studio C/Brooklyn and Bailey Parent Trap spoof.

Northanger Abbey
Pride and Prejudice

Yep, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice are still my favorites. Pride and Prejudice is lighter and funnier and Persuasion is shorter and deeper than all the rest. I still don't understand the worship of Darcy; his character isn't that developed really. You get a clearer understanding of Captain Wentworth in the shorter book than you do of Darcy. I like Persuasion as a romance but Pride and Prejudice as an interesting read, the romance isn't much (nor is it meant to be). Again, I still don't think I understand the level of satire and sarcasm in these novels (and the wider JA culture seems to either not see it or refuse to see it; I mean, people, she literally mocked the type of fangirling and sentimentalism that goes on in her novels). And yet I'm disgusting with the excess of passion in some Brontë novels. Surely there is a balance between total mockery and total excess?! I've never had one favorite author anyway, but I think JA dropped out of the top years ago. When I first read them, it was really both my first foray into classics and into reading again. I was a very literal person then, and I enjoyed a period of history I didn't know exist (well, clearly I knew it existed historically, but I mean culturally). Everything about the experience was novel. Plus, so many people had read or knew of and liked and discussed JA. I think we need more Dickens and Brontë and Gaskell and Alcott and Montgomery discussions.

Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George
I read this out of order. This series is the poorest written and most juvenile of her books. Cute bu meh, is the best description.

Dear Enemy by Jean Webster. Some of this I liked, but the small fun parts mingled with obnoxiousness, inanity, repetitiveness and um, a SERIOUS strains of eugenics. *Clears throat* EUGENICS! Perhaps carelessly recommending it to my sisters wasn't a good idea; I mean I don't think I took this issue seriously enough.

Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving through Deep Difference by John D. Inazu. Yeah, um not as good as his first (plus it lowers my appreciation of his first). I think his reasoning is both lazy and disingenuous. I think that he tried to please too many people or to protect his back plus he had some preaching to the choir. A few things make it two stars rather than one, his definition of pluralism and his call for civic duty. But again, the people that would listen aren't the ones that are the major problem. I did have three stars but after talking about it with my dad and then looking over all my notes, my distaste deepened. Read The Intolerance of Tolerance. That book is intellectually sound.

Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert. I bumped this book down (from four stars to three) also after further thought. I also thought he was being intellectually dishonest in skimming over explanations and presuming knowledge (although Dad said British people would understand, I still think the terms he used were lazy and polarizing, particularly in a global world with such a subject) plus I thought his choice of style, narration with some overly specific details without explanation or background, was not the best. I'm not sure I consider this overly scholarly scholarly though the author is a historian. But what is deserving of applause is that he did not make the issue zero-sum.

Note: I'm trying to move my site and update things, but I'm having issues, so its taking longer than I thought. I'm not even sure what my domain name will be, but I will try to keep everything updated as I progress.