Tag Archive | Education

Book Lovers—Unite!!!

Thoughtful Reader…

I guess I could set up a poll to answer these questions, but why bother… It is so much simpler to just write up this latest post and let you chime in if you want to.

So, here’s the deal. I like to read. You have probably figured that out by now. I don’t own a Kindle or other e-reader, so that means my appetite must be sated by real books…real, bound, printed books. I think I mentioned previously that I counted over 150 actual titles read last year. So, I think you can start to see the enormity of this problem. Every year, usually in the fall, I gather up my books and start boxing up the ones that I feel obligated to part with. I have to do this, really I do. In moments of clarity I find myself looking in horror at the rising mound of printed paper stored in every available nook (yes, I know…), in my house. If a fire were to break out, the resulting conflagration would be awesome to behold.!!! So, not wishing to incur the wrath of the local fire gendarmes, I sadly (sometimes almost tearfully..) gather up my current stash and head out with all good intentions of parting company with the least treasured of my collection.

My first stop is at the local library where they see me coming, and when my shadow crosses their threshold there is never anyone there to help relieve me of my treasures. I think they hide from me. I really do. I usually manage to convince them that they need some of these epics of literature to add to their collection. Funny, they don’t seem to recognize most of these monumental works. Wonder why that is.?? After lightening my load (by two or three volumes…), I continue my trek to the local thrift store. They make up for the library…they love me here. I think it has something to do with my donating. No matter how hard I try, they always end up with my books and I end up with nothing.

Except sometimes…..and here we come to the gist of this story. After my latest sojurn to the seedy underworld of thrift stores and musty used books, I recouped some of my lost honor. Please don’t misunderstand. They still got my books…for free. But this time I got some books back.!!! Well, yes. I did have to pay for them. No, they weren’t new. Okay, I see where you are going with this. You are thinking, “I thought you were trying to get rid of some books…” And that would be a correct observation on your part. However, and this is important, books seem to have a life of their own…maybe a soul too. So when I came across a small collection in the midst of this shabby thrift store, it seemed imperative that I should save them. Save them from what.?? That is a good question. An ugly demise most probably. And almost assuredly each of them would suffer the ignominy of being separated from their siblings…sold one at a time to someone who couldn’t possibly treasure them as much as I do. So, squealing with delight (if it’s possible for a grown man to squeal with delight…or squeal with anything for that matter..), I grabbed them all up and saved them from who knows what….

So, what did I end up with?? What captured my enthusiasm?? Okay, I will tell you. There were two small collections or series’ of hard bound works. The first is a set of four by William Faulkner. Judging by the copyright dates, I will place them in the late 1950’s. Well taken care of. Pages are starting to yellow, but none torn that I can find. Red cloth bindings are solid. Faulkner’s name impressed into the front cover and gold filled. I have read two of the four….The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. The other two, Sanctuary and Light in August are now on my reading list.

The second series is a collection of fourteen books most of which would be classified as literature. There are a couple in the series that might seem to deviate from the “literature” standard but all are noteworthy. This series dates from the 1930’s. Pages are yellowing (some worse than others..) but blue cloth bindings are in good condition. Remarkably so, really. Most of this style book I have seen over the years exhibit fraying on the bindings and loose threads etc. These titles range from a collection of Ibsen’s plays, to Voltaire, to Bret Harte and George Elliot, to a book of the worlds great speeches and a translation of Tales From the Decameron.

*****
So, you be the judge. Worth saving..???

Be well…
Howard

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Answers—-Adages, Proverbs…..

Thoughtful Reader…

Well I have waited long enough for the unveiling. In the last post I ventured forth with thirty adages or proverbs that were sort of “translated” into a modern interpretation. You were invited to take part to try to reassemble them back into their original form. Some of you worked on them, some of you didn’t. I hope they added a little to your thinking over the past few days.

In any event, here are the proverbs as I re-wrote them and the solution (the original form…)

  1. The presence of a winged creature clasped by the phalanges is equal in value to twice the number in the short shrubbery. Ans: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  2. To speak not at all is the color of a precious metal.  Ans: Silence is Golden.
  3. If the product of the last is the correct size, use it for its purpose.  Ans: If the shoe fits, wear it.
  4. A vessel while being scrutinized will not vaporize the contents.  Ans: A watched pot never boils.
  5. A person of dubious intellect and the coin he carries will be separated quickly.  Ans: A fool and his money are soon parted.
  6. Dry your grass for feed while an orb of burning gas is present.  Ans: Make hay while the sun shines.
  7. Panhandlers in action are not able to exercise choice.  Ans: Beggars can’t be choosers.
  8. It is best to choose wisely to avoid having to repent.  Ans: Better safe than sorry.
  9. It is always best to avoid speaking and invite doubt about your mental state, than to expound on the subject and allow no room for argument.  Ans: It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  10. Seeking after the unknown caused the death of the feline.  Ans: Curiosity killed the cat.
  11. You should not enumerate a totality of poultry while they are still shell-bound.  Ans: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
  12. Do not cause tears to fall because of mammary fluid that has left its vessel unbidden.  Ans: Don’t cry over spilled milk.
  13. All members of the canine species have a 24 hour period unto themselves.  Ans: Every dog has its day.
  14. Those of diminished capacity hurry to a place where godly helpers are afraid to walk.  Ans: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
  15. A compatriot who requires your assistance is truly your friend.  Ans: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
  16. When possessed with knowledge beforehand, you are better prepared.  Ans: Forewarned is forearmed.
  17. Extreme prior knowledge of a subject causes a lack of respect.  Ans: Familiarity breeds contempt.
  18. Well designed and maintained physical boundaries allow for harmonious relationships with those who live next door.  Ans: Good fences make good neighbors.
  19. Large and strong trees are first conceived from small mast seed.  Ans: Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow.
  20. Ill conceived speed is the cause of destruction.  Ans: Haste makes waste.
  21. Hades is not nearly as dangerous as a female who is denied acknowledgement.  Ans: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
  22. The one who delays his decision unwisely is forever doomed to wander.  Ans: He who hesitates is lost.
  23. If thinking and wants were four-legged animals, panhandlers would have a method of travel.  Ans: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
  24. When you cast your lot for a small coin, you might as well figure on wagering a larger amount.  Ans: In for a penny, in for a pound.
  25. Mirth expressed is the best solution for complaints.  Ans: Laughter is the best medicine.
  26. Observe carefully before jumping into the fray with both feet.  Ans: Look before you leap.
  27. Calm and silent things are frequently very complex.  Ans: Still waters run deep.
  28. When the handling of items is quick and continuous, the tasks are easily completed.  Ans: Busy hands make light work.
  29. Those who constantly exhibit despair and regret prefer the solace of others of like mind.  Ans: Misery loves company.
  30. A noisy round device used for transport receives ample lubrication.  Ans: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Okay, so there you have it. The answers I know you were waiting for… 🙂

Be well…

Howard

Tomes, Quill Pens and Parchment…

AKA…What to do when it’s raining…Vol. 2

Thoughtful Reader…

I hasten to point out that the following paragraph is a remake of one in “What to do when it’s raining…Vol.1“…..with the blanks filled in to represent the ideas coursing along for this post (Vol.2)

In my recent analytical style of self-introspection (yes, I realize that “self-introspection” is redundant–I could have said “self-observation” or “self-evaluation”, but I just like the sound of “self-introspection,” so sue me…), I have discovered a possible cure for these blues, and blahs. Did you know that cooking feeds the soul? Did you know that ——-(Reading..?) allows us to escape the reality of our poor misbegotten lives? And ——-(Writing..??) Did you know that ——-(Writing..??) reinforces our memory? Which is a good thing as long as you are aware of this particular idiosyncrasy and welcome it. I mean, you know, repressed memories and all that… Anyway,  it’s true. It’s all true.

I often wonder how many memories are hiding, repressed, in the deepest reaches of my not so nimble mind. With apologies to Billy Joel, When I wore a younger man’s clothes I remembered everything. These days I am somewhat more refined and have lower expectations. I think that is what happens as you age. You get a little more haughty (refined..??) as you realize that there are fewer and fewer folks out there who can match your experience level. This level of refinement is often characterized by walking around with your chest out and your nose in the air just a little (of course it could be because my back is so da** stiff that I can’t move anymore). Then you think for a moment, and, coming back down to earth, realize, that the folks around you don’t really care anyway. They know you are getting older (and therefore senile..???) and they don’t really expect you to “produce” or “remember” like you did some years back. Hence the lowered expectations.

So, if no one else expects you to be on point or live out on the edge, why should you bother.?? Another rhetorical question, but for this one I have an answer. You should bother because it is good for you. Because it stretches the mind and the understanding. Because now, after living quite a while as an adult, you may finally have the resources to do something worthwhile with your life. And because you can still make a contribution and others may benefit from your understanding. Producers, contributions…..More on that another time…….

Of Tomes, Quill Pens and Parchment…

Reading….the best use of any available minutes not already allocated to other endeavors….and the second indoor thing that occupies me today. As a youngster I grabbed my fun and adventure where I could find it. That was usually in books. Readily available in libraries at no cost, they were the perfect source of adventure and mental stimulation for a boy with no money and no family life. There were stories of adventure in far off lands, and stories of travel that led to adventure. Train trips to danger filled destinations as depicted on the “Orient Express,” and safaris to the “Dark Continent” chasing wild beasts. The swashbuckling men of the French Foreign Legion were always good for an imaginative story, and of course there were the “Khyber Rifles” and other titles by Mundy as well as Zane Grey’s westerns and Mark Twain’s stories of middle America. Stories of heroes and villains and stories of fortunes and fortunes lost were plentiful too. To add variety there were many, many outdoor magazines and various encyclopedic tomes full of “how to” instruction sprinkled liberally throughout those early years.

Today, I read various genre. Historical fiction is a particular interest because the underlying tenets can be worth recalling. Some of the political savagery is also of interest, as well as some biographical works and historical treatises…particularly the U.S. founding period. Reading was, and is, a favored thing. I think I would dry up mentally and spiritually if forced to abandon it. And if you read some things other than fiction, you may find yourself contributing to the understanding of someone else. And that is worth doing.

Writing goes hand in hand with reading. Once captivated by the written word, there is an almost insatiable desire to produce something meaningful…a printed legacy to show others and to look upon with pride. I have been somewhat fortunate in my endeavors to produce acceptable narrative. I say acceptable because at various points one person or another has felt it was “good enough” to occupy some space in print. Now, today, I am here knocking on the door of this new medium. I have a lot to say. Some of it may provoke consternation among the élite and cause great soul-searching, hand-wringing, and gnashing of teeth among the masses. Gosh, I hope so.!! Will it be “good enough.??” Only time will tell….

“Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success”…………..Dale Carnegie

One thing is certain….I refuse to accept the loss of my remaining brain cells without a fight.

Be well…

Howard

Bio-sketch #1 or “Let me say this, about that..”

Thoughtful Reader…

Thanks for joining me again on this journey. As I mentioned in my initial post, there is a little biographical background that I will serve up here along with a big slice of humble pie. Please remember as you read that I am not trying to sell you anything. I am not particularly proud of my history, but it’s the only one I have. The intent here is not to beat the drum, but to enlighten. It is my sincere hope that these first posts will give some insight into my life and why I am here. So, here a chronology begins…

Historically Speaking…

I was born a poor white child……While a bit tongue-in-cheek and overstated perhaps, it is nevertheless true. My early formative years were difficult ones. I didn’t realize it then, you understand, but in the decades following I have come to recognize that our family did not live a “normal” life. In retrospect, it seems like we were always from “the wrong side of the tracks.” Early school age years were spent with eyes downcast trying to avoid bullies…of course they weren’t known as “bullies” back then. It was accepted behavior that the stronger, more affluent, more influential kids were to be respected and shown deference. And really, I didn’t mind too much. I guess because I didn’t realize how poor we were, I was a happy child (for the most part..)….I was also a ghetto child. Not in the modern sense of the word, but really, that’s what it amounted to……Oh, the stories I could tell!!

My mother was killed in a car accident when I was about three. My father died shortly after I graduated from high school. All of the grandparents were deceased as well. I had already moved out of the house, for reasons which shall remain my own, when my father passed. My brother was still living at home at the time (he was three years behind me in school)….I think he was more scared than shocked. Today, my sister, my brother and I talk infrequently about this time in our lives. It is better left in the past. Chaos?? No, choices. It is all about choices. We have to make them every day…and live with the consequences. More about that later….

A World Touched by Tiny Hands…

I was present for the birth of my first son….In the delivery room….Four feet from the doctor when my son took his first breath. “Big deal,” you say…”that’s sort of normal isn’t it?” Well it may be now, but take my word for it, it wasn’t normal back then. It is an altogether moving experience as those who have been through it will testify. When your world is touched for the first time by tiny hands, it will never be the same. The same holds true for grandchildren too. Thinking back now, I am once again reminded of two facts that I hold to be self-evident (even if they are not, I still believe..). One is, the human race represents the highest ordered living things on this earth…above all other living things. And two, the human infant is one of the most fragile of all newborns. It is a bit of a conundrum, wouldn’t you say? The point being, our children require our help and guidance from the day they are born,……and we are all a product of our environment. Control the environment and the potential bad outcomes are greatly reduced. Is it easy? No. Is it necessary? Only if you want your child to prosper…..

Education, Education, Education…

Have you ever wondered how much education is enough? Some will say that a high school diploma is plenty….and I have met some who believe even a high school diploma is not necessary (although I admit to thinking that those who believe this need to be brought into the modern world, they are nevertheless out there, and represent a school of thought that shouldn’t be overlooked..). For me, education came late in life. My choices were limited after high school, so I moved on, always watching, waiting for opportunity. When I found it, I took advantage of it. Later, after leaving the Army, I was given the chance to work in education. It was an eye-opening time!! I spent some time in front of a classroom and some time in college administration. And today, I argue still for increased educational opportunities.

So, How much education is enough? I don’t have an answer. For me, there is no such thing as too much. Once you develop the mindset for learning, you feel lost if you don’t pursue additional knowledge. I guess I will continue to study and learn until I become incompetent or I die…..

If you can fill the unforgiving minute…With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it ………………………Rudyard Kipling

Time is a valuable commodity. All of us have a very finite amount of it available to us for our use. Every minute used (or wasted..??) is one less that we have in our personal vault. Education is a very worthwhile investment of that time. Use it wisely…

Choices…

And so I come to the end point of this part. I would like to leave you here with a bit of sure and certain knowledge gained through experience. As we go through life, each in his own way, we are constantly shown different paths. We choose the path we take. Sometimes the paths that diverged in our past become convergent once again. Sometimes not. The one thing that remains certain is we alone are responsible for all of our choices. We cannot fail to choose and in so doing refute responsibility, because the act of not choosing is in itself a choice. I encourage you to accept responsibility for your actions, learn and move forward. There is no “right choice,” only what you find acceptable in your current time and place. My wish for you is to find peace and acceptance in your mind and heart and to find someone at least once in your life who will tell you …………”You have chosen………wisely.”

Howard