How Long?

I recently read a book for book club. It was over 500 pages long. I read a book for fun- almost 600 pages.

hmmm

Does any book that one reads for fun need to be over 350 pages?

I don’t usually love books that hover over 300 pages. Rarely does an author have me so enthralled in a story that I want it to continue on and on. One of the books I mentioned was The Fountains of Silence clocking in at 512 pages. First off- this book was utterly average. The editor that thought that this was a good idea needs an editor. There’s detail that are useful, storylines that move the plot along, and then there’s filler, which is the stuff on which this book is made. There were paragraphs I skipped over entirely and I didn’t miss one point of this book. If you skip something, does that mean it’s not necessary?

Again, Rachel talks so much about gorgeous people and clothes. Do people really read books to peak into the lives of people who are attractive? Do the descriptions that read like Vogue pictorials instead of a novel really matter that much to the story? I don’t know, after the fiftieth description of a designer outfit, I’m done…

And what about movies? Apparently, movies that were released in 2021 were, on average, nine minutes longer than those made in 2009. I’m hoping that this trend is on the reversal, because I don’t think movies need to be any longer than two hours. Luckily, the movies I’ve seen lately are all around the two hour mark.

The obvious next question is: are our attention spans getting shorter. And to unscientifically answer that question, I’ll say Yes- our attention spans are getting shorter. But in the case of books and movies, it’s almost a chicken/egg: Do we not have the stamina to go through something that is long, or are things just too long to hold interest?

Our discussion questions for today:

  1. What is your preferred book length? Will you read a book longer than your preferred length?
  2. What is your preferred movie length? Will you sit through a longer movie?
  3. Do you have a decent attention span?

Discuss

Veni, Vidi, Etc…9/18/22

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 9/17/22

My Daughter has an Honors major at college. Really, her classes are no harder or easier than any other majors, but she did have to apply and get accepted to the major and she has to write a thesis.

Last week she was a tad stressed about what her question would be. She knew the topic, she was pretty sure of the direction, but she needed to work on a theory that hadn’t been done before and be something that she would actually be able to do. I’m grateful that she has narrowed her focus to what she thinks is a good starting point.

She also has to get an advisor. The first Professor she approached couldn’t do it because she was already advising two grad students. The second Prof wasn’t sure if she would be a good advisor, but is willing to be used as a sounding board for the thesis. Finally, she found someone who will make an excellent advisor because this Prof is stronger in areas where my daughter is weak, so it will actually make for a great balance. I am grateful that my daughter found an advisor.

Alas, the stress of the thesis has only just begun…but for now…two wins.

A few weeks ago my journal prompt was BEAUTY. Deb thought is was interesting to see how we thought of beauty, but wondered what we thought about UGLY. So, my word for this week is UGLY. Here’s how it was used in the books that I’m reading:

  1. I just wanted to get through my last night with Daniel in one piece and ugly cry when I got home. Abby Jimenez
  2. Undercover. The word, ugly and huge, thrums underneath Jen’s breastbone like a heartbeat. Gilliam McAllister
  3. It’s an ugly business, Watson, an ugly dangerous business, and the more I see of it the less I like it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. That bland looking eatery in some ugly strip mall that has no Yelp reviews? Give it a try. Rob Walker
  5. No, to be sure not: I should only pity him- hate him, perhaps, if he were ugly, and a clown. Emily Bronte
  6. Believe me, in this case, ugly would have been a compliment. Laurie Zaleski
  7. The ugly stuff starts to rear its face, and we don’t know what’s come over us. Pedram Shojai

Here’s how I’m thinking about UGLY:

  1. In the poetry anthology that I’m reading, not one of the poems contains the word UGLY
  2. I can’t get “U G L Y you ain’t got no alibi you ugly” our of the stream in my head
  3. Four letters but powerful word
  4. Does the word ugly scare us?
  5. have I though about ugly situations more than I’ve thought about other ugly things?
  6. The word was used less than I thought it would. Are we trying not to use the word, or have things gotten past ugly

Anything Can Happen Friday: If Apples Fell

“Buy your Mom an iphone” Tim Cook- CEO Apple.

There are compatibility problems when texting between android and apple phones, and Apple doesn’t care. They want a world where everything is apples, no oranges.

Let’s get past the “is it fair” or “is it right”… and let’s get past whether or not this a capitalist greed or communist my way or the highway, because really- no one is changing anyone’s else’s mind on any of these things. We believe what we want to believe, we pick a side and we mate with it for life, and we don’t want to entertain any other thoughts…

Is that a fair way to look at what the world has become?

I’m right- you’re wrong.

Na na na foo foo – stick tongue out emoji…

Isn’t the real issue that no one wants to work together in tandem to solve a common problem or reach a common goal? That no one is willing to compromise on anything? How bipartisan policy is just a word in a very old and dusty encyclopedia from the days where we had to work together because the enemy “out there” was greater than the one across the street?

When I read the Tim Cook comment, and I saw the ads that Apple has put on the information kiosks on the street, I couldn’t help but think about what kind of propaganda do we have going on here? What kind of childish, bullying behavior is at play? Was Tim Cook the kid picked last for the team, and now he’s concocting some cartoon level revenge play? I don’t know. It’s not a particularly good look for the CEO of a major corporation that has lots of information on everyone. And I mean everyone.

Do you trust this man with your money and your secrets? Ever say something you shouldn’t have? Ever sent a picture you shouldn’t have?

We had the cola wars, now we have the cell phone wars.

Do we really need more wars? Or are all wars just senseless and a waste of time and money?

Day 2- Observation book

The second day of The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker talks about taking a walk every day and spotting something you’d never seen before. For my spot, I chose the plaza of a local college that is near my apartment. I often walk Betty down this place, and I was sure after years of dog walking, I’d noticed everything.

Ha she said.

How wrong I was.

Here are the things I’d never noticed- a block away from my house, in a place I walk through at least once a day.

reusable bags

Where do we stand on reusable bags?

In theory, I like the reusable bag. I bring my own bags with me when I shop and I’ve done this long before it was mandatory in my city.

However…

Did you notice the amount of charities that give you a reusable bag when you donate? Or if you go to an event, companies give out reusable bags…

So my question is:

How many reusable bags does one actually need?

Realistically, I have four. Two for food(I can’t carry more than two bags home) One for things like cleaning products, and one for clothing or “nice” things.

These bags from Target or whatever start to give out after way too few usings. So realistically, how many people are throwing out bags like this because they break? Are bags like this still going to take up space in landfills?

Should the bags that stores have be made better? Which leads to cost- presently, stores charge five cents for a bag- can you really charge more for a bag when someone is making an impulse purchase? What’s the point where the consumer will go home and order off the internet instead of paying for a bag? (which creates a box problem in the landfills)

Conversely, if something doesn’t cost that much, you value it less. I’ve seen a lot of reusable bags not being reused and sitting in garbage cans, or in the gutter, which is another problem onto itself. Have you ever thrown out a reusable bag that was in good condition?

But what do you do when you have a glut of reusable bags?

I’ve made impulse purchases and gotten reusable bags and paper bags. I reuse the paper ones for garbage. (remember when we stopped using paper bags and replaced them with plastic because it was better for the environment?) But…using a perfectly good reusable bag for garbage just doesn’t sit right with me…so when I get too many I donate them.

Do you know how many reusable bags the donation centers are getting?

Apparently, because the bags are used, they’re not allowed to put customer purchases in them…

What’s happening to all these bags?

Do you think the next issue we face will be a glut of reusable bags?

Where do you stand on reusable bags?

How many reusable bags do you own/need?

Have we thought this thing through, or is this another- oh let’s use plastic instead of paper and save the environment

Discuss

The Things We Don’t Talk About

Awhile back, I read In Love by Amy Bloom. This book focuses on her Husband’s decision to go to Dignitas for a compassionate death.

Yeah.

I know.

Not exactly light and pleasant reading or conversation.

I tried to have a conversation with my Husband about this book- not because anything is wrong with either of us, but more as a concept, or a what if scenario.

He shut me down completely. Got mad and wouldn’t discuss it.

So my question is:

Should we discuss subjects that we don’t want to hear? Aren’t those the very subjects that should be discussed, so that everyone is clear on where they stand?

I’m not asking your opinion of Dignitas, or anything like this. That’s a minefield I don’t want to talk about in a forum like this, so watch your comments if you give an opinion…

What I want to know is:

Should we discuss things like this with our loved ones, in a calm manner and in a private setting?

Day 1- I spy a security camera…

A few months ago I bought a book- The Art of Noticing Things: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration and Discover Joy in the Everyday by Rob Walker. This book is filled with little exercises to help you unlock areas that may have become dormant.

When I bought this book, I was particularly stressed. I was having trouble finding beauty, or anything in the day to day- I felt like I was putting out fires and trying to set up a plan towards an end goal and I had no time left to dream or create. And I easily worked through the first three exercises, so quickly that I thought that the next 131 days would be blogs about my experiences.

But then

  1. The weather got hot
  2. the book did make me start looking at things differently
  3. I started to get my creative mojo back.

What does this mean?

It means that you’ll get 3 or 4 posts inspired by this book in the next few weeks, and then none till at least January unless they pop up on anything can happen friday…

But anyway…

The first exercise is based on spotting security cameras…when you’re out walking, look specifically for security cameras.

When walking with the intent of finding security cameras, here are my observations:

  1. you feel like a criminal if you’re looking for security cameras in stores
  2. Almost every traffic light has at least one camera pointed at it
  3. There are very few buildings on my block without at least one camera
  4. buildings on corners are more likely to have cameras
  5. buildings that have service doors are more likely to have security cameras
  6. are these security cameras operational?
  7. how many times have the police needed to access footage?
  8. how long do they hold footage?
  9. does anyone actually look at the footage?
  10. how many stupid things have I done that have been recorded?

I could not believe how many security cameras are in a two block radius of my apartment building- including how many are actually on or in my building, which is not considered a high security building.

This was definitely an eye opening experience…no pun intended… I couldn’t believe that I had never noticed these before. I can’t help but wonder how man other things that I miss that are RIGHT THERE! IN FRONT OF MY FACE!

What did I learn from this first exercise? There are so many things to see if you open your eyes. I’m going to try to be more aware of my surroundings, looking for the beauty and the ugly, the true and the false, the hope and the despair.

Veni, Vidi, Etc… 9/11/22

Gratitude and Mindfulness: 9/10/22

A few weeks ago, someone (I think it was Chris but I apologize if it wasn’t) recommended Laura Mercier eye shadow stick.

I love it!!

I am grateful to whatever makeup loving friend turned me on to this nifty little product!! I am grateful for this wonderful, easy glide, nicely colored eye shadow!!

My prompt for the week is WELLNESS. Here’s how it’s used in the books that I am reading:

  1. Dr. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal is both the personal tale of his Father’s battle with cancer and a public call for a better health care philosophy and system, one that should enable well-being above all else, even survival, and allow us to die a humane death when the time comes. Jane Mount
  2. This river flowing through time is alive and well in your body. Pedram Shojal
  3. She was a walking, talking wellness blog. Taylor Hahn
  4. If your writing takes a toll on your wellbeing, you’ll be undermining that most basic of goals, and likely compromising your ability to write: a potentially vicious circle. Graeme Simsion
  5. Frances is quite right: she’ll be perfectly well by this time next week. Emily Bronte.

Here’s how I’m going to think about WELLNESS/WELL

  1. If you say the word well enough times, it becomes non sensical. What’s the term for that?
  2. I’m not going to get through 1 out of my head for a bit so I see how my journal thoughts are going to go.
  3. Even though wellness is big business, do we still undermine it?
Dorothy Parker
Symptom Recital

I DO not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men. . . .
I’m due to fall in love again.

From Enough Rope (Boni & Liveright, 1926) by Dorothy Parker. This poem is in the public domain. poets.org