Archive for the ‘writing’ Tag

03-29-16 Journal–Reading & Writing!   Leave a comment

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Most people who blog love to write and I guess that’s understandable. What I don’t understand are those people out there who choose not to write or read. I’m not criticizing, just questioning why. It seems that some people are wired differently and just aren’t all that interested. I read almost the entire Lord of the Rings story to my young son and he enjoyed it immensely.  I can honestly say that might be the last book he ever had read to him and he hasn’t read one on his own very often if ever.  He just isn’t interested in reading.

Is it nature or nurture?  I really don’t have a clue.  Using my son again as an example, on his twelfth birthday I bought him a book on the history of baseball and statistics on every player of note for the last fifty years. I knew he loved sports and I took a shot. The book was four inches thick and I thought if nothing else he could use it as a door stop.  He read the entire book in a few weeks and remembered almost every statistic on every player. After a time he drove me nuts quoting stats every time we talked.  Apparently he was over-the-top interested in sports.

You all know how much I love the written word and trivia so I decided to combine them for todays post.  Here’s my collection of useless information on the written word.

  • The number  of children in  the United Kingdom appearing in hospital emergency rooms dropped by 50% on weekends when the new Harry Potter books were released.
  • The first edition of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) sold only 351 copies in it’s first six years.
  • Five years after the 9/11 attacks, 1248 books had been published on the subject.
  • More than  150 books have the words “before you die” in their titles.
  • Charles Dickens created 989 named characters.

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  • Only half of American adults have read a book since leaving high school.
  • Five of the ten best selling novels in Japan in 2007 were written on mobile phones.
  • In 1893, when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, 20,000 people cancelled their subscriptions to The Strand Magazine, which had published the Holmes stories.
  • Around 200,000 academic journals are published in the English language. The average number of readers per article is 5.
  • The word “bible” does not appear in the works of Shakespeare.

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  • Thirty percent of hardcover books go directly from the printer to the warehouse.
  • The Da Vinci Code is the bestselling book in French history. A quarter of the population is estimated to have read it.
  • Mein Kampf was second bestselling book in Turkey in March of 2005.
  • The eighteenth-century scholar Edmond Malone calculated that 4,144 of the 6,033 lines in parts I, II, and II of Henry VI were plagiarized by William Shakespeare.
  • The record for the highest number of short stories published in The New Yorker by an author in one year is held by E.B. White (twenty-eight in 1927). The overall record is held by James Thurber, who published 273 stories from 1927 to 1961.

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That’s it for today.  Hopefully they’ll be a few non-readers out there who’ll decide to read this post. I know for certain my son won’t be one of them unless I add some silly facts about batting averages or Babe Ruth’s weight problems.

NON-READERS MAKE ME CRAZY

01-07-2014 Ben Franklin and Me   2 comments

Energy and persistence conquer all things.

I’m exhausted today. I was up half the night, not from insomnia, but from an e-book I’ve been reading. I downloaded the book from Amazon on a whim never thinking I’d be all that interested once I started reading it. Boy was I ever wrong.

A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.

I’ve always been an admirer of  a number of this country’s forefathers but there were three that interested me more than the others. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and of course Benjamin Franklin. Without those three individuals we’d probably still be under the thumb of the British Empire and never have turned into the superpower that we’ve become. That’s the primary reason that I downloaded the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, written by his own hand, and in the language of the day. I wanted to get to know him a little better.

“A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.

I have to admit I was expecting very little from the experience but after reading just a few pages I knew I was hooked. I’m now 400 pages into a 2000 page autobiography which started when Mr. Franklin was 5 and I don’t know where it ends because I haven’t finished it yet. It supplied me with a brief but detailed description and history of his immediate family and included a laundry list of his closest friends and acquaintances. It absolutely boggles the mind how things fell together for this man and the number of movers and shakers in the colonies at that time who he’d met and exchanged ideas with.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

I can now understand why his influences were felt throughout the colonies, in England, and throughout Europe. His elegant way of writing is what brought him to the attention of many and now I can be included in that number. He writes in such an honest and simple fashion but conveys so much more than he actually says. It allows you to peek into his brain to understand why he did the many things he did and the decision-making process he developed. After reading just 400 pages I feel like one of his best friends and I’m sure that’s the same effect he had on the people of the time. He loved reading and writing and voicing his opinions and did so whenever possible to whoever would listen. Fortunately for all of us he knew what he was talking about and much of what he said and did was for the benefit of us all.

Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.

I’m at the point in the book now where Mr. Franklin is about 22 years old. I can’t put the damn book down and I can’t wait for him to age a few more decades so I can listen to his experiences as a politician and inventor and his extended assignments in Europe which later proved to be crucial to the war effort.

At twenty years of age the will reigns; at thirty the wit; at forty the judgment.

I just downloaded a second volume containing stories and memoirs of his life again written by his own hand. I can’t wait to read that as well. I’m looking forward to at least four more late nights in order to finish this first volume. I’m taking my time and trying not to miss any of the details or nuances he so artfully fills each paragraph with. I realize subject matter like this will bore some of you and that’s okay but I’ll still be mentioning it because for me it’s exciting. When I read I actually feel like I’m there as he’s writing his book. I feel like I’m standing behind him looking over his shoulder in the candle light as he struggles to put his thoughts in some kind of logical order. I can’t wait for tonight when I can go back to the colonies and sit with Ben Franklin and learn a few more things.

“Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.”

09-03-2013   Leave a comment

I’m standing at my kitchen window sipping on an extremely hot cup of coffee and watching my neighbors as they walk with their daughters out to the main road and the school bus that will start this new school year.  Their younger daughter isn’t quite old enough for school but she’s there to see her sister off and seems very excited by the whole experience.  They’re taking lots of photo’s to mark this special occasion as I’m sure they will do for many years to come.

The older daughter’s of another neighbor were seen packing their cars a few days ago and are now off to college to begin their school year.  They also seemed excited to begin another year that moves them a little closer to independence and a life of their own.

For me this is the beginning-of-the-end of summer.  I’m excited by the tourist season being over as I again watch them leaving the area in droves.  By next week the population of many nearby coastal towns will drop almost ninety percent.  Many of the beach businesses will close for the season and our lives can slowly get back to what we consider normal.  My better-half and I are looking forward once again to visiting several bars and restaurants we’ve been avoiding all summer.  Large crowds, high parking fees, and higher than normal prices have kept us away all summer long.  It’s northing new just a normal transition we have to deal with every September.  Caravans of vehicles heading north to return to Canadian soil and just as many heading south to Boston and beyond.

Our summer gardening is also coming to an end and the Fall season will be upon us in no time.  We’ll visit a few local fairs and festivals and of course the big Fryeburg Fair and  I’ll be getting out the snow thrower and preparing it for the coming season.  I’ve lined up a few winter projects and also collected a healthy stack of books to read during the next five months. Then we’ll settle in for what will hopefully be a quiet and thoughtful Winter with just enough snow to keep things fresh and clean until Spring.

I always look forward to Winter if for no other reason than the time it offers me to read, think, and write.  This blog becomes a major priority once again and I’ll finally have the proper amount of time to research things I want to write about.  That the best relaxation I can think of and I ‘m looking forward to it.

06-04-2013   8 comments

I’ve always considered myself to be an ambidextrous person which has made it necessary for me to read anything I can find on the subject. There are arguments and discussions both pro and con as to whether a person is really ambidextrous or just cross-dominant.  Cross-dominance apparently is defined as the ability to use either hand for specific tasks but not being able to use both hands for all tasks. That sounds confusing I know so further discussion is required.

As a child in elementary school I began writing with my left hand almost immediately.  Teachers in those days actually discouraged left-handedness and required those children to write with their right hands.  I was chastised enough that I soon learned to write right-handed and have been doing so ever since.  Oddly enough I can still right with my left but not quite as clearly.  This was just the start of right-handed people attempting to change me.  To a young kid it was a bit traumatic and created a great deal of confusion for me.

I was heavily into sports and the problem was again raised almost immediately.  As I began training I wasn’t sure which hand I wanted to throw with.  Attempts were made to force me into right-handedness but I fought against it this time.  The end result was a successful career as a baseball player who threw and batted both ways.  I pitched a number of Little League games over the years using either hand.  In one game I actually pitched a portion of a game right-handed and when my arm tired, finished the last few innings left-handed.  I felt good about it since it caused people to finally leave me alone to my mixed abilities.

Growing up our family was not wealthy or well-to-do so I was forced to make other compromises.  My father was an avid golfer and started me golfing at an early age.  I was taught to golf right-handed because the cost of left-handed clubs at that time was out of our reach.  Many years later as a joke I rented a set of left-handed clubs at a local course and actually shot a reasonably decent score much to my Dad’s surprise.  It took a while for me to make the adjustment back to left-handed but I was thrilled I was able to pull it off.

There are a few real benefits to being ambidextrous.  I can hammer and nail with both hands and I can paint with either hand (artistically or house painting).  It makes painting and hammering less tiring when you can switch off when necessary.  I also found I had an unusual ability to write with both hands simultaneously.  With my right hand I write normally and with the left I am able to write backwards.  It’s a useless talent but has won me me a lot of drinks in a lot of bars over the years. Also being able to pick one’s nose with either hand is an ability your all probably jealous of. I still have no answer as to which category I fall into but that’s okay,  it’s taken years but I’ve adjusted to it either way.

I only hope that kids with the same abilities aren’t still being manipulated to be something their not.  Whether your a lefty or a righty doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you be permitted to be what you are, not what someone else thinks you should be.

03-27-2013   2 comments

I’m a bit tired today after yesterday’s drywall work.  If you’re expecting anything spectacular on this blog today you’re sure to be disappointed.  I often hear people on their blogs complaining about writer’s block. I’ve never had that problem but I seem to be suffering from a block for which I have no name.  It could possibly be called an ‘artists block’ or a ‘remodeling block’, or even a ‘get-the-hell-out-of-bed block’.  I’m feeling like a big giant lump with no motivation to do anything except write about how lazy I’m feeling.  Which for the record is mighty effing lazy. At the same time my mind is racing and I’m visualizing work that still needs to be completed on the remodel tomorrow.

Unfortunately for me when I’m working any kind of project I’m consumed not just by the work that I’ll be doing but by constant mental activity that I can’t turn off. It can also make sleeping extremely difficult.  Even after having my better-half tell me to take the day off, I struggle.  I should be relaxing and enjoying my down time but for me there is no real down time.

She’ll be talking to me about work or family and if I’m lucky I may get every other word or just a general idea of what the subject matter is.  I suspect she thinks I’m getting forgetful but that isn’t the case at all.  It also isn’t that I don’t care or I’m not interested, I’m just focused on my tasks at hand almost 100%.  It’s totally out of my control for the most part and it’s something I’ve resigned myself to dealing with.

Even as a kid I was consumed by my painting, sculpting, reading, and once I started something I kept at it until it was completed.  Especially my art work.  I’d start a painting and would work around the clock with little or no food or drink until it was finished.   I love that feeling of being in the moment and just staying there as long as possible is a real pleasure for me. 

At times I have difficulty getting a project started and will procrastinate a little. It’s not that I don’t want to do the project, it’s because I know that once I start I probably won ‘t be able to stop.  You could be in the same room with me and during those times you cease to exist. Even my surroundings in the room become a blur except for the piece I’m working on.  It can be maddening when interruptions occur  and I lose my temper and become difficult. 

I thought in my younger days that this compulsion would lessen as I grew older but it has not.  It’s been both a blessing and a curse over the years but I’m certain I would miss it if for some reason it just disappeared. I guess I’ll do my best to relax today but both my better-half and I know what I’ll be thinking about.  Tomorrows project.

01-04-2013   Leave a comment

Peace and quiet.  I really think that the older a person gets the more peace and quiet become important.  From now until sometime in late April I’ll have a great deal of quiet.  The peace portion is another matter since I’m in a an intimate relationship that at times can be less than peaceful.  It’s the nature of the beast I suppose.

I plan ahead to these weeks of quiet all year long and set goals for myself to be accomplished before Spring arrives.  I read a great deal, I write a lot, and I examine my life even more.  I’ve always been a good motivator for people who worked for me but I’m even tougher on myself.  I’m my own worst enemy when I feel I’m not getting anything accomplished in a given period of time. 

I have a sculpture I’ve been messing with for almost a year.  I sit and stare at it for hours upon hours looking for something.  I know what I want to do with it but I’m experimenting with some new materials that I’m not sure will work. If they refuse to cooperate it will ruin all of the work already completed and I’ll be forced to start over from scratch.  I know I’m over thinking things but that how I work.  I know that within a week or so I’ll take the plunge and attempt to finish the project, one way or the other. Once I start I’ll work continuously until it’s completed.  The best time of my life are those moments when I’m strictly focused on creating.  I don’t want food, drink, or company, just peace and quiet.  Hours will fly by like nothing and even sleep isn’t important.  It’s the rush of seeing what’s been in my head for months finally escaping to become a reality.

It’s not only sculpture but other forms as well.  Painting, writing, block printing, photography, watercolors, pen and ink, and anything else you can think of.  Those moments of total concentration and focus are more important to my mental health than almost anything.  

So now begins my three and a half months of quiet.  I’ve been waiting for it to arrive and I plan on making the most of it.  My better-half has left for work, the cats asleep some where in the house, the TV and radios are off, the cell phone is off,  and I’m sitting here writing this.  You can hear a pin drop.  I’m in heaven.

Posted January 5, 2013 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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