Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Connectivity Woes, and Two Memes

Wow, I'm so dependent on the internet.  Our cable was out for over 24 hours (ack!), and since we are connected to the internet by cable modem, this did not only affect our TV (which was no problem), but it kept me off the internet (which was a big problem).

First of all, my parents called me about a half hour after the cable went out.  They had just left our house, having driven down from the Bay Area for a weekend visit.  They were on highway 5, near Magic Mountain, and the traffic was at a dead stop, and had been for about 20 minutes.  What was going on, they asked me.  Could I turn on the TV or the radio and find out?  

I turned to my normally trusty computer, and it was no go.  Not connected to the internet.  And of course, turning on the TV, I saw that the cable was out.  So I turned on the radio.  But there was no info on any of the traffic reports.  Turns out the highway was semi-closed--the highway patrol was leading cars, 500 at a time, over "the grapevine", a mountain pass that sometimes closes during storms.  But I was unable to get that information myself--I had to get it from someone with DSL :)

Anyway, no email, no blogging, no internet for 24 hours made me rather cranky.  But I'm back...

I’ve been tagged for two memes, Eva’s Meme, and the Eight Random Things About Me meme. I saw Eva’s meme when she created it, and I thought it was really cool, because the questions were so interesting and involved! So I’m happy Iliana tagged me for this one, so I can answer those great questions now.

Aloi also tagged me for The Eight Things About Me meme. It’s one I’ve definitely done before, but which I will do again now. Not only do I like the idea that this has been wending its way around the internet for months, if not years, I also like that I have been given another chance at answering its questions—maybe I will be more interesting, or say something new, in my answers this time. I hope the meme continues on and gets back to me again, eventually!

Here’s Eva’s Meme:

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? Off the top of my head, I’m going to say Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (sorry Aloi!  Her really interesting review is here). Though I enjoy Atwood’s writing, something about what I’ve read about this dystopian book has turned me off. And that’s despite the incredible reviews. But I’ll probably shake off my irrational dread and read it (and like it) anyway.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be? Predictably, I’d probably have tea or dinner with Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Elliott and Elinor Dashwood. But then again, I thought maybe I should mix it up a bit, and rather than having Austen heroines together, I should throw an Austen heroine in with someone from another time period, or another genre…hmm…how about Anne Elliott, Atticus Finch, and Sherlock Holmes. This got me thinking, wow, would these characters even have enough in common to have a meal together? I mean, maybe it’s better to stick the Victorians together…

Okay, this is obviously overthinking it. But it did lead me to a list from NPR, the 100 Best Characters in Fiction Since 1900, which was interesting. I was happy to see The Dog of Tears, from Jose Saramago’s Blindness, on the list. But I digress…

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave? Moby Dick seems to be the most common answer I’ve read, and it works for me, too.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it? When I was younger I used to pretend I’d read more of the great Russian novelists. I’ve never read Dostoyevsky, but I hinted that I had, always thinking to myself that I would get to him eventually. Not so far!

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book? Nope, can’t think of anything. But like Robin, I’ve had the opposite experience, where I’ve read something intriguing about a book, and brought it home, only to find that I’ve read it before. Whoops!

You’ve been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP) Hmm…it’s a tough call. Even though I should probably go with something more remedial, I'm going to say Middlemarch, because you get social commentary, an engrossing narrative, and some characters you love and some you love to hate.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with? I’m going back and forth between French and Spanish, but I have to say Spanish. There are so many books I wish I could read in the original languages, but I think the preponderance of those books are in Spanish.

A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick? I guess I’d have to say Persuasion, by Jane Austen. It’s one of my comfort reads, a book that I reread every once in awhile anyway. And it’s not that long, so it wouldn’t take up much of my reading year ☺

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)? The book blogging community has “pushed my reading borders”, too, in many ways—I’m reading new genres and participating in challenges, for example. But I think the most important thing is that I am finding people who are passionate about particular books that I had never even heard of before. I’m really widening my reading horizons by taking bloggers’ recommendations.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free. At one time I might have conjured an old-fashioned library straight from an ancient castle, but now I’d go for comfort. I want lots of natural light, a beautiful view out the large windows, comfortable seating, all my favorite books and more—books recommended by friends, books I’d love to read some day, books I may never read. Oh yes, and unlimited and extremely fast internet access ☺

Now for Eight Random Things About Me:

1.  I only speak one language—English—and I wish I spoke more languages. I would love to speak Spanish, French, Italian, or maybe Japanese. However, I’m not willing to put in the time now, maybe because I know how much easier it is to learn languages when you’re younger. I’m afraid my aging brain will let me down!

2.  I do most of my reading in bed. After the kids are asleep, I don’t watch TV or do the dishes, I get into bed and read. My TV watching has really slowed over the last few years. Who has the time? I feel like a favorite TV show is a big commitment I’m not willing to make. But my reading keeps on at a steady pace, because I’m willing to get into bed a little early.

3.  I may not watch much TV these days, but one of my favorite indulgences is to go to a matinee movie and have popcorn and soda for lunch. Maybe candy, too. I love the feeling of leaving the theater after a daytime movie—the slight disorientation you feel coming out of a darkened theater into the daylight. It is such an indulgence, and it doesn’t happen often, but I do love it.

4.  I love my Mac. I don’t even know how to use a PC. Back in the old days, when I worked in an office, I know I used a PC, but that was in the days of MS Dos, and the whole thing was a mystery to me. Obviously I’m not computer savvy. I wish I knew more about the technical side of blogging. If anyone has any blogging resources (for dummies) to recommend, I’m all ears.

5.  I’d love to take a course on digital photography. I love to take pictures, but again, I wish I knew more about the technical side of photography. Maybe I should take a class in digital photography given in Italian. Then I could kill two birds with one stone.

6.  I make a mean pecan pie. And I’m willing to share the recipe.

7.  I like to eat breakfast food for dinner.

8.  I wish my husband and kids liked long car trips as much as I do. I look back fondly on my family vacations spent driving to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs, Disneyland…

Now it’s time to tag people. But since I’ve seen both these memes on so many of my blogging friends’ blogs already, I’m going to take the easy way out and say, if you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged. I mean it—do these memes, they’re fun! Then let me know, so I can visit and read your answers ☺


jen said...

let's take a digital photography class!! maybe something with photoshop too?

Litlove said...

Great answers and oh I agree - we all start having panic attacks around here when the internet connection goes down!

I agree that Oryx and Crake looks rather off-putting (although I like Margaret Atwood a lot) and I know what you mean about learning languages. My husband has always said he'll take me to Italy if I learn a bit of the language first. Have I ever gotten around to it? Of course not. There's never enough time in the day. I also read rather than watch tv. It's so much more satisfying.

Logophile said...

What great answers! Oryx & Crake also turns me off, and I've read and loved so much Atwood...funny how that happens. And thanks for that link to the npr list, it was so interesting to read!

Gentle Reader said...

jen--yes! I have Photoshop Elements and have no idea how to use it! Would love to do that together :)

litlove--it was so frustrating without the internet--I was at a loss, and laughing at myself at the same time for being so dependent. It's like a bad relationship! I wish other languages were easier to absorb...and I'm wondering if my husband would agree to that deal--we'll go to Italy if I learn some of the language first...hmmm, could be worth it!

logophile--I wonder if we'll ever read Oryx and Crake! Oh well :) Glad you liked the NPR list--I thought it was interesting, too.

John Mutford said...

I'd lived in the North for only a month or so when the September 11th tragedy struck. Later that same day we lost our cable, our internet access and phone services for almost an entire week. We had almost no way of knowing what was going on in the world. Scary stuff.

With the exception of the Jane Austen answers, I agree with your responses to the first meme.

Thanks also for that link to the 100 best fictional characters (1900+). Lolita is up soon on my TBR pile, so it's cool to see characters from that one mentioned.

Iliana said...

I feel your pain - we were without internet for a few days and it was painful! Glad you are back :)
Oh and I love breakfast foods at dinner time. Yum.

Gentle Reader said...

john--Wow, that must have been scary feeling cut off like that after 9/11. Shows you the power of modern technology, and the hold it has on us all. I'm glad we agree on the meme answers--that was a fun one, wasn't it? Sorry about the Austen, it's one of those things, if you grow up with her, it's hard to shake her off! I'm really interested to hear how you like Lolita, you'll have to let me know :)

iliana--I'm glad to be back! Isn't breakfast for dinner one of the great things in life?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to meet Atticus Finch too! I also adore my Mac and love to eat breakfast for dinner. My grandma used to make a pretty mean pecan pie and the pecans even came from the tree in my backyard when I was growing up. Delicious. Unfortunately I have not found a vegan version and I'm not entirely sure I want to. It just wouldn't be the same.

Matt said...

I certainly cringe at "buying" Oryx and Crake after reading through the first chapter. That was why I picked up The Blind Assassin and Handmaid's Tale instead.

TV has become dispensable to me because I simply don't have much time for it, after all, I have devoted most of the free time reading and spending time with friends, and George, my lab retriever. I do watch DVDs on my computer, so yeah, internet is seriously important as air! :)

Gentle Reader said...

stefanie--yes, unfortunately, I think pecan pie without butter wouldn't be the same! My recipe was my grandmother's, too! Wouldn't Atticus Finch be great to have over for dinner and conversation?

matt--I'm glad I'm not alone on Oryx and Crake! I have been marveling at how much I depend on the internet lately, for so many aspects of my life. I even find that I don't buy as many reference books as I used to, because so many resources are available on the internet.

tanabata said...

I get a bit cranky when I'm cut off from the internet too. Glad it's all back up and running.
I do most of my reading in bed, but I'm also a night owl and don't always go to bed early. No wonder I don't get in as much reading as I'd like.
I was resistant to read Oryx & Crake but then it was a book group selection and I ended up, if not completely enjoying it, at least appreciating it.

aloi said...

i hear you. i feel like i'm half sick when i don't have internet.

wow, 2 memes!? thanks for answering mine! funny you should mention dostoyevsky. i've always pretend i've read kafka. i doubt that i will though. and i LOVE breakfast foods for lunch, dinner, anytime!

hahaha, oryx and crake was from bookmooch, and i figured since i loved the blind assassin and the handmaid's tale, it's gotta be good! now that i've read the three, i actually think that handmaid's tale was the best of them.

eva's meme is a toughie. maybe i'll try my hand at it when i'm in the mood.

Gentle Reader said...

tanabata--I like that, a night owl who also reads in bed! I think if I was forced to read Oryx and Crake I'd be fine with it...

aloi--I loved The Handmaid's Tale, but I read it so long ago. Thanks for tagging me--your meme was fun. I think you should do Eva's meme, too--it's fun once you get going on it :)

Eva said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the meme! I just finished rereading Persuasion-I love it so much. :)

Gentle Reader said...

eva--I enjoyed the meme very much, thanks for creating it! Isn't Persuasion great? It makes me laugh :)