Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Monday, December 31, 2012

Writing in Books

Disclaimer: Write in books you own.

I'm reminded of this sin I possess while reading Joe Queenan's One for the Books. His first chapter strikes home on so many levels, book ownership, reading habits, writing in books and the various size of ones library over time and a lifetime.


Every time I move I leave cartons of books or give them to school libraries or the Salvation Army. I remember in my early prep school teaching days having bookshelves of books accumulated form those dusty New England book stores along those quaint roads driven to see the fall foliage or to get to some mountain to hike or to some lake to swim in or some river to fish in. I'd have to stop in one of those stores or two and leave with a great deal on a box of books for my library, to fill in gaps in collections for my students to see and my colleagues to peruse to verify my credentials to teach at this fine institute. I'd use these bookcases as walls to climb, to block out or to barricade in people, ideas, thoughts. But invariably, packing them all up when it was time to move on just seemed pointless as they represented a place and time I was happy to move on from so discarding them was part of the process of moving on. I, of course, held on to the valuable books and still have many of them today. Many of them have my chicken scratch in them and when I reread them I am reminded of those halcyon days or not.

As a teacher I was always ready to give one of my books to any student who asked for it. I never expected it back nor wanted it back and instructed the recipient to write in it. Aghast, the student questioned this suggestion. I'd reassure that student it was okay, because it was now the student's book.

An essay I loved to use in my classroom supported my idea of writing in books. How to Mark a Book by Mortimer J Adler really shook up my students and some of my colleagues and especially the school librarians. But I persisted. I'd use the concept to get us to sticky notes inserted into the books they read. I used the concept to get them to write notes, to take quotes from the book and commit them to their own books or notebooks. And when students bought books, I really encouraged them to write in those books and to make notes for later use in an essay. Those who learned this trait did better as writers and readers. Queenan reminded me of this notion when he was speaking of his habits, likes and dislikes as a reader. This habit of writing in books, "The most telling point is that I write in my books, which no collector would ever do." (page 22) It seems Queenan, too, finds this "most telling point" a major sin or curse he has and is so non bookish.

Now my books are either stored away in the boxes I put them at my last move and waiting in a closet or as legs to a table I have made of old discarded table leaves that are the book shelves for these tomes I have inherited from my grandfather. An earlier bunch of inherited books were auctioned off to pay for a daughter's college education. The current boxed tomes haven't interested antiquarians, so they stayed sequestered in the closet of a rented house until I buy a home for them. The sole bookshelf I have contains those books I need about me, those oldies I have written in, those I need to read and those I love to reread. In addition the empty spaces are being filled with new acquisitions. Oh that reminds me, I need to purchase two books online.

Yes, books are everywhere for me too. In my car, on all the open surfaces of my house, and in beach bags. I visit the library at least twice a week to return some and to collect more that were ordered or discovered on the shelf or sought out when discovered that they, too, needed to be read. I like owning my own books because I like to write in them when the urge moves me.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Enjoying NYC


I've been spending the week in NYC. Yesterday I went to three movies on a rainy, windy, cold, ugly day in NYC. I first saw Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D which was fabulous.  The 3D made the movie so magical. The next movie I saw was Hyde Park on Hudson which was wonderful. Murray was tremendous. The story was enchanting. I love these kinds of movies about behind the scenes in politics. The third and last movie I saw was Django Unchained. This is Tarantino at his best. The story is heroic, the music is toe tapping, and the audience loved it. Spike see the movie before you open your trap.


Today I spent the day with my granddaughters at the Museum of Natural History.










After bidding adieu to my beautiful granddaughters, I walked to Central Park and down to Strawberry Fields to pay homage to John Lennon.


I continued my stroll through Central Park to Columbus Circle and made my way to Hibernia for dinner and an evening with old friends and good drink.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Still Crazy

"I'm interested in the idea," I said to him, "that many of our leaders suffer from mental disorders..."

p 38, Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson


Saturday, December 22, 2012

11:57 PM Times Square

Sing along in Times Square, NYC, Dec 21, 2012: Imagine sponsored by Yoko.


At 2345 the queued line began filling the bleachers between 47th and 46th Streets In TS.

By 2357 the bleachers were filled and they began singing "IMAGINE" weakly at first but they grew stronger with time.


During the singing, the billboards around TS displayed "IMAGINE PEACE" in different languages.


The chorus attempted a second singing, but instead we heard spontaneous renditions of "Give Peace a Chance" and "Yellow Submarine" as the bleachers were emptied and the crowd disbursed.



Many agreed this was a beautiful moment. It was a great rehearsal for New Year's Eve.

REFLECTION: I always hope we have turned a corner in the violence we do to each other when I sing this song with a group of people. It is a beautiful and peaceful time when I sing this song out loud with others.  And yet, everyday, I hear about a violent act committed by one person on another with a gun. Today, a week after the Newtown massacre, the NRA embarrassed itself and America with its pitiful statement. What must the rest of the world think of us when a group like the NRA seems to speak for us. What must the rest of the world think of us when we tried to deport John Lennon. What must the rest of the world think of us when an artist like John Lennon is gunned down in NYC. What must the rest of the world think of us when we don't do anything after something like Newtown or any of the other previous violent act committed by guns. What must the rest of the world think about us when they look at the circus in Washington DC. We are a sick nation when we allow a small group of people dictate to us that we need more guns in schools and we do nothing to silence that madness and skewed thinking. We are not only sick, we are stupid when we think guns will solve our problems. I try to IMAGINE an intelligent America instead of the stupid, selfish, sick America we currently portray to the rest of the world. It is not about guns, it is about our health. We are not addressing the sickness of this nation. We do not have a good health care program and the result is the violence we constantly see. More guns is not the solution. Better health care is the solution because we don't know how to solve problems without guns and our problems are mental problems. Listening to the spokesmen for the NRA merely reiterates our mental problems.

We must make 2013 the year we finally bring human values back to America. It is interesting how much John Lennon's spirit reminds me of the battles we must fight against tyranny and stupidity to maintain peace.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Got Wood

Back at Assateague.






It's good to be home.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Going Home


Today is my last day in Iceland.  I will spend it at the Blue Lagoon before heading to the airport for my 1700 flight to Boston to Philadelphia to Salisbury MD. I'll be home by midnight.


Iceland is truly a serene place any time of the year and in any location on this unique and still under construction island. Until next time.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Solitude not Loneliness


Today is a day of rest, sort of. Breakfast, a shower, some reading, some writing and then to the English Pub for Football, English football. A Manchester Derby followed by a Spurs Toffees match.


As I travel, many are surprised that I'm alone. They ask if I get lonely. No, it's solitude a much under rated state. I've traveled as a couple and as a family all my life. I relish this solitude. I also relish that ability to just sit or lie down and read. I packed 2 copies of Atlantic Magazine and 4 copies of New Yorker. I packed those because they are dense and good reading, but more importantly, I can leave them where I am when I'm done. Sort of book marks of where I've been. I left my first completed New Yorker at Baldursbra my first day. The next morning when I came down to breakfast it was being read by a French visitor who was a reporter. She was amazed to find the magazine here. I didn't tell her it was mine. I always strip or cut my address labels from my magazines, a habit I acquired as a teacher in NYC. I left an Atlantic magazine and a second New Yorker in Hotel Akureyri. They were bereft of English language reading in their hotel library. I had picked up a copy of Robert Ludlum's The Prometheus Deception at Baldursbra and will return it to their well stocked library of international languages. I had fun with this book as a hero or villain was named Ted and had many characteristics I admired. His character was the most debatable one, I concluded. He was a an enigma, unlike the classic hero type of Nick Bryson.


The solitude is furthered by the lack of TV and radio. In Reykjavik I can get BBC, but as son as I leave the immediate area, that signal dies. I did find an Icelandic radio station that played Internatio9nal music as well as the usual Christmas tripe in many languages. This radio station was with me throughout all my traveling in Iceland. So when in the mood, I'd turn it on listen to Icelandic spoken to me and interspersed with familiar tunes and then turn it off. The same goes for TV. Here in Baldursbra, no TV and internet only downstairs in the common room, not in the rooms. In Akureyri, I had internet in the room. I had a TV but only two channels, one Icelandic and the other BBC news. It was rarely on except that one moment when I had it on as I showered and prepared for dinner to hear about the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge. That trivial news dominated ever time I turned on the TV, twice, so I stopped doing that. I didn't care. I later found out about a very bizarre and rather senseless suicide of a nurse because of her mishandling of a telephone call from a couple of Australian radio pranksters. Suicide???


I’m finding the situation of the nurse who committed suicide very curious indeed. I’m further stunned as I listen to the British press and how they are vilifying the two young Aussie DJ’s.  There are so many questions to be asked which aren’t being asked. The Brits seem to have found the cause and enemy in this bizarre case to be the Aussies. From what I have heard about this strange and weird case is this:
1.     The nurse who committed suicide transferred the call to a superior nurse.
2.     The superior nurse was the one who actually gave out the personal information.
3.     The nurse committed suicide three days later and she was Indian and a mother of two girls.
So I am wondering if this nurse had prior psychological problems that may have indicated suicide and this “prank” was the straw that broke the camels back.  I’m wondering why we haven’t heard from the nurse who actually divulged the personal information. I’m further wondering that it took her three days to commit suicide what happened in those three days?  I’m wondering if there may have been some “bullying” or “harassing at work” by the superior nurse who made the mistake of blabbing her mouth off and may have threatened the first nurse, harassed her, fired her, or simply shunned her along with other nurses.  This case isn’t about the Aussies, it is about the workplace. The workplace in this situation is a highly sensitive place especially considering the Royals are involved. This comes in light of the recent court cases regarding phone hacking and privacy issues.  Could racism be part of the bigger picture? This nurse who committed suicide is a victim of her workplace, I believe and maybe the truth will come out as we learn more about the other nurses. Racism and harassment would not surprise me one bit. This kind of prank is too common and the folks who fall for it feel foolish and angry for their stupidity and they lash out. I’m thinking of the gentleman who called Gov Walker of Wisconsin pretending to be a Koch. I’d like to hear more about that nurse who was so stupid to yak like that on the phone especially after what has recently happened with the Royals recently regarding phones. Leave the Aussies alone, dig more into the life of the nurse who actually committed suicide and look to her fellow workers as the real cause of this horrible situation that now find two little girls motherless. There is more to this story and the British press will eat crow as usual.

Anyway traveling is about traveling and jacking out. When I come down to breakfast, I'm stunned at the sight of all these young people on their handheld devices, multitasking between conversation and jacked in. At dinner the number of diners with a held held on the table or in their palm as they scroll, thumb wrestle with the device and then maybe have a brief interchange with the person across from them. If I owned or ran a restaurant I'd be tempted to install a cell phone blocker. I used one in my classrooms and have always considered traveling with it. One evening here at Baldursbra, a young lady received a phone call and had a long conversation. She was loud and eventually I accessed my music library and blasted a song. She left. I turned off my music.


Since moving from NYC to Assateague, I have embraced this new found level of solitude and being in Iceland, I have learned more about it. Solitude is an acquired state we need to relearn in our current climate of 24/7.

Parallel Parking in Iceland

Some chores and lunch before I park myself in the English Pub.


I had lunch at soup in a bowl again and they served the reindeer soup. It was perfect for a cold day like this. I got to the Pub about 15 minutes before kickoff and found a chair at the bar located so I could watch the Derby and then the Spurs game. The Derby was very exciting as The Red Devils pulled it out in extra time on a Van Persie set piece after Rooney go the first two in the first half. City scored their two in the second half.  The Spurs match was close. Dempsey scored a great goal off his American teammate, Howard, but the Toffees scored two in extra time. Great disappointment. I went to have an early dinner at the Sea Baron: a whale kabob and lobster soup.






There's an interesting story on this abandoned mansion behind the (ugly) American Embassy. Apparently a lady took a 50Million Krona loan on this mansion, which was a library in 2007 and never did anything with it and never paid back the loan. It is an amazingly beautiful structure and is slowly being vandalized. The neighbors have to be very upset and that it is in this condition on Embassy row is even more stunning.


Back to the guesthouse to pack and relax. I'm almost done.