Recently acquired

68D72BA6-80A4-4525-95DF-766B02117556It had been a long time since the coin jar had been emptied, so earlier this week I poured the contents into a large baggie and added a trip to the bank to my modest list of spring break errands. But each time I remembered the awkward sack of coins in the backseat, the bank was closed. Eventually, I settled on the coin-changer at the local grocery store. Egads! What a ridiculous fee for cash! No fee for an Amazon gift card, though, and coupled with another card received earlier this month, it yielded enough to replace several bird feeders and choose a number of books from my wishlist. Pictured above are a few of the latter plus a book I bought used.

To be read

6CE16D6B-1BD1-4A5F-B588-EF8D71811E74Last Sunday, I weeded about six bags of books from the collection and shifted accordingly while dusting the shelves. The project took about four hours. One of my goals was to reduce my TBR stack to one shelf, so I photographed this group of hopefuls before putting them in the main collection. Think of it as a virtual TBR stack.

“Physics is not only a history of successes.”

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This is the world is described by quantum mechanics and particle theory. We have arrived very far from the mechanical world of Newton, where minute, cold stones eternally wandered on long, precise trajectories in geometrically immutable space. Quantum mechanics and experiments with particles have taught us that the world is a continuous, restless swarming of things, a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities. A set of vibrations, as in the switched-on hippie world of the 1960s. A world of happenings, not of things.

p. 37
Physics is not only a history of successes.

p. 63
Time sits at the center of the tangle of problems raised by the intersection of gravity, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics. A tangle of problems where we are still in the dark. If there is something that we are perhaps beginning to understand about quantum gravity that combines two of the three pieces of the puzzle, we do not yet have a theory capable of trying to gather all three pieces of our fundamental knowledge of the world.

School closures

My school was closed Monday for snow. They were also closed early on Tuesday and all day Wednesday and Thursday for extreme cold. When I learned about the mid-week closures, I promised myself I would treat the days off as the gifts they were. No “getting ahead” on weekly chores. The house is immaculate. No reshelving projects. No reorganizing closets. No comparison shopping for a new lawn mower. The library looks wonderful. So do the closets. And I have at least six weeks on the lawn mower purchase.

Relax, I told myself. Approach the days with some child-like delight.

So, yes, I finished our federal and state tax returns, but I also finished Season 6 of Parks and Recreation and three books. Yeah, I caught up on correspondence with out-of-state family, practiced my music, and exercised. But I also slept in a bit and woke up without an alarm clock. And we made fun food: one-pot pasta and crunchy garlic bread; bacon sandwiches; brownies.

For two days: No makeup. No hair products. No work clothes.

I look forward to working with my students tomorrow; I do, after all, like my job. But what a week; Friday is already here!

“But the result was now ours to live with.”

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It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful — a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids — and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way.

p. 411
In the end, Hillary Clinton won nearly three million more votes than her opponent, but Trump captured the Electoral College thanks to fewer than eighty thousand votes spread across Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I am not a political person, so I’m not going to attempt to offer an analysis of the results. I won’t try to speculate about who was responsible or what was unfair. I just wish more people had turned out to vote. And I will always wonder about what led so many women, in particular, to reject an exceptionally qualified female candidate and instead choose a misogynist as their president. But the result was now ours to live with.

From the shelves

c753c096-14ec-4b0d-b45f-a9268a1ded27Over the winter break, my younger daughter borrowed my copy of the Halperin translation of Michael Bernanos’ wonderfully creepy and unforgettable The Other Side of the Mountain.* Mischa Berlinski’s Fieldwork caught my eye when I refiled it. What a perfect “Read from the shelves” selection: I received the review copy nearly twelve years ago! The book was good as Stephen King’s EW editorial promised, and it fits neatly onto the mental shelf where I recently placed two other novels about anthropology: Euphoria by Lily King (one of the best books I read last year) and The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara (disturbing content but excellently written).

Since my last post, I also finished Upgrade Soul (Ezra Claytan Daniels; 2016), which I borrowed from the library. For those of you who are still resisting graphic works, especially those who enjoy speculative, dystopian, and/or science fiction, this would be a fabulous introduction to the form: deceptively simple art enriches a compelling and original story. Bonus: The protagonists are a vibrant, intelligent couple who have been married forty-five years.

It has been a slow reading month, but many of my bookmarks are in the last quarter of their books, so I hope to add a few more to my list before month’s end. Sure, it would be easy to blame my discovery of Parks and Recreation on Prime Video for the paucity of books read, but I have also been walking more; and my winter break concluded a few days after my last post, so I have returned to work and to music lessons and practice. ASL studies and snow removal have also nibbled on my reading time. Okay, okay. Yeah. I’ve been gleefully enjoying Parks and Recreation episodes — not binge-ing but definitely choosing the series over a book. If you’re a fan, you probably understand. Color me chagrined.

* I recently learned about another translation by Gio Clairval and have added it to my “Want to read” list.

Read from the shelves

71975def-17e0-48e0-9d56-39fe2e09a477We spent yesterday driving to and from and hiking at Starved Rock State Park, but last night, I was able to finish the first book in my “Read from the shelves” challenge — Hanya Yanagihara‘s first novel, The People in the Trees (2013).

p. 73
Genius was no excuse for social ineptitude, the way it is today, when a certain refusal to acquire the most basic social skills or an inability to dress properly or feed oneself is generously perceived as evidence of one’s intellectual purity and commitment to the life of the mind.

p. 93
There is really no satisfying or new way to describe beauty, and besides, I find it embarrassing to do so. So I will say only that he was beautiful, and that I found myself suddenly shy, and unsure even how to address him — Paul? Tallent? Professor Tallent? (Surely not!) Beautiful people make even those of us who proudly consider ourselves unmoved by another’s appearance dumb with admiration and fear and delight, and struck by the profound, enervating awareness of how inadequate we are, how nothing, not intelligence or education or money, can usurp or overpower or deny beauty.

Edited on January 13. Lesson learned: Do not fail to proofread voice-to-text entires.