Another trip around the Sun..

I just got through with birthday week, and all I want to do is sleep for about 2 days straight. I love that I have so many people in my life that want to celebrate with me, and take me out, and do things for me, it’s amazing and I’m so grateful for it all. But I’m old now, and nothing proves that to me more than going out night after night for about a week capped off by the twelve hours I spent at Disneyland yesterday. If you want to remember how old you are, just do that for a day then see how you feel 10 miles and hours of line standing later. It was worth it to be exhausted today, it was a great time. Even with all the people in the park Disney just does such a good job of making you feel like you are in an entirely different world, which I think we all need every now and again. They certainly don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing, but I’m sure some people would argue with that.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel a twinge of sadness around my birthdays. It could be a couple of things, that old nagging feeling that another year has gone by and you aren’t exactly where you thought you would be by now, the fact that you are one year closer to death, or maybe your expectations for how the day would roll out didn’t exactly live up to your standards, somebody important to you forgot about it, or you just realize that as you get older that it’s just really another day that marks the passage of this construct we call “time”. A year, another trip on this planet making a rotation around a gigantic ball of gas.

With all this brewing my dear friend recommended a book to me to read as a good and easy “birthday read”. It’s The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Now, I’ve heard about this book before. It’s some kind of new agey, connect with the universe, life quest, you are where you need to be type deal. I get asked for this book quite a bit at the public, and we have about 5 copies in storage meaning that it circulates a lot. I grabbed one, to see what it was all about. I took it into tech with me and started reading on a Tuesday night around 7. I read the whole last hour of work, then when I got home until about midnight, when I just couldn’t read anymore and I was nearly done with the book. I finished it up the next morning, making it probably close to about a three and a half to four hour read.

I really enjoyed the story, it was simple, it wasn’t filled with all the good things there was some plot and some hardships. It was realistic (for the most part) and relatable, and showed how life isn’t necessarily what you thought it would be, but it is what it is supposed to be. The main “hero” of the story meets some interesting life guides along the way and runs into his fair share of obstacles and epiphanies, but naturally these lead him to end up in a better place than he probably could have ever imagined himself. It’s easy. There is just one thing in life and that is to find your purpose and follow it, the rest just happens. I connected with it pretty hard, but even if you don’t it’s an easy read, and entertaining.

Here is a link to the reviews and book info on goodreads, just a quick glance shows that a lot of people didn’t really care for it at all, mostly people who thought it was drivel, or just self-help BS. Jesus, people have a lot of hate for this one. But, you know, sometimes it’s good to just read things for yourself, and if you check it out from the library you aren’t losing anything really, except a bit of time. I actually bought a copy to gift to one of my favorite student workers who is graduating, so hopefully he doesn’t think it’s as bad as those reviews and not want to be my friend anymore.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/865.The_Alchemist

While I’m on the topic of out there spacey kind of new age books you would find at some sort of vegan coffeehouse in LA, here’s another super cute one I just finished (mostly illustrations) and plan on re-gifting to a friend:

Your-Illustrated-Guide-to-ZBecoming-One-with-the-Universe-by-Yumi-Sakugawa-on-BookDragon

 

Sakugawa is an amazing artist/author from California who also blogs about health and wellness on top of her comics and books. I’m so glad I stumbled upon her, and plan to keep on following what she does, here’s her site if you want to check her out. You should.

http://www.yumisakugawa.com/

A Bee in One’s Bonnet

It’s Friday, it’s spring break. Not much happening around these parts today, and there hasn’t been since Wednesday. I a lot of copy cataloging done for the special collections, and worked with the archivist to clean up our digital collections landing page. I almost blew the building up yesterday trying to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator which was interesting. But, I got by with a little help from my friends, and ended up making a pretty cool new header for our online stuff. All was not lost, but today it’s hard to feel motivated. Cataloging is fun, but it’s an ongoing job, it’s never going to be finished. Sometimes that gets me down. I’m never going to get through all the piles, it’s impossible there’s always more books, more information. I guess in another way that makes me happy that the flow of information, knowledge and entertainment is so abundant.

The upside of all this weeks working is that I have a weekend off. What? A whole weekend? A Saturday AND Sunday like the rest of them? Yes. So I’m here doing my roulette early and to wish everybody a happy St. Patty’s Day. Since the weather in So Cal has been so nice, I decided to celebrate a little early last night, and go drink beers on outside patios. This could be what is contributing to my overall resistance to be enthusiastic this morning, but I think I will start to perk up in an hour or so. I have given myself the assignment of finishing my coffee and drinking a gigantic bottle of electrolyte water by the time 11:30 rolls around, it’s doable.

As I was grumping along towards my office this morning, I found a book that jumped out at me ever so sarcastically from the reference shelf. It’s called: Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries: And Other Delicious Sayings by Anne Beltran.

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Here’s the sayings I opened up to today:

The proof is in the pudding. You cannot be sure that you have succeeded until you examine the result of your efforts.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. People often mean well but do bad things. (Can be a strong rebuke implying the person you are addressing did something bad and his or her good intentions do not matter).

The rotten apple spoils the barrel. A bad person influences everyone he or she comes into contact with, making them bad too. (Also the cliché a rotten apple, a person who is corrupting others.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. People cannot do what they know they ought to do; people are not always physically capable of doing what they are willing to do. (Biblical).

(Beltran, 1997, p. 206-7)

What are these sayings really? Advice, warnings, and casual conversational phrases we use to describe situations that we all face in life? There is something about saying things in such a way that resonates with us. As humans, we don’t always point blank say what we mean, and I think the reason is that the story or real life example that we attach to it may help us understand the lesson that the words are trying to say to us on a deeper level. For me, it’s something in the visualization of it, and how I relate it to things I’ve known in my various experiences. I actually really like the proof is in the pudding and use it quite often even though it may be a little antiquated. I don’t eat pudding on the regular, nor do I think making it is some enormous feat that would warrant a sense of accomplishment that you indeed could do something amazing as mixing water with some powder and letting it sit in the bowl in the fridge for two hours. But it makes sense to me. Like hey, you can say all this crap, and act like the actions you are taking mean something, but the results are what really matters. The results are where the truth lies. So stop talking about it and be about it, make sure your pudding is full of proof.

Of course the road to hell one is pretty common too. It reminds us that “intention” is not really what matters, it’s where the deed or action ends up that makes the difference. Like the time I meant to save a bee that was trapped in my house, but ended up ripping off one of his legs, and probably ultimately being the cause of his death in the process. I wanted to get him outside and back to his happy bee life, but I really was the major contributing factor in his death (I still feel guilty about it months later). But does the fact that I MEANT to help matter, nope? The bee is still dead.

Sorry bee, I really am.

So what’s your favorite saying? Is there one that you use often, just one that comes to mind that makes you laugh or reminds you of a situation you are facing in your life? Say it to somebody today, see if they understand what the heck you mean by it.

Bertram, A. (1997). Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries: And Other Delicious Sayings. Lincolnwood, IL; NTC Publishing Group.

Robo Trumble

It’s the Saturday before spring break week, and despite some sort of Pan American Debate thing going on here, there’s not much happening here today. We are closed tomorrow, so I finally after 10 days get a day off, and a Sunday at that. Sunday Funday this week will probably consist of me binging on food and Netflix in bed, but isn’t that what Sundays are for? I haven’t done my roulette in a while, it’s actually pretty difficult to do sometimes, and I feel like the last couple ones have been especially so topic wise. Today I’m feeling like it could be a bit more fun. After getting my random numbers I found myself poking around the math/computer area and found a gem from 1982. There’s nothing like seeing old technology books, twenty five years ago technology wise seems almost more like one hundred years, but there is something nostalgic and endearing about these old books. Today I picked: Computers That Think? The Search for Artificial Intelligence by Margaret D. Hyde.

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And just because I opened up to such an awesome picture I’ll post that below the excerpt. The section I opened up to reads:

The word “robot” did not come into popular use until the early 1920’s with the appearance of a play called R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in which artificial zombie-like creatures took over the world. Although there are many definitions of robots today, they are generally described as creatures, or machines that function under their own power and control. (Hyde, 1982, p.52)

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So, according to this book we now know how the word robot came into the vernacular. The writer Karel Capek was a Czech writer who mainly wrote science fiction stuff including R.U.R. and War With The Newts. R.U.R. deals with robots so real they are often mistaken for humans and can think and act on their own. The usual A.I. plot twist occurs in which the robots that were made to serve, rebel, and well we know that never ends well. Or does it? I don’t know in this case I’ve never heard of the play so you may have to find out for yourself.

Project Gutenberg has all the info, including full text of the script here if you want to indulge in some sci-fi drama and get all the details.

The idea of artificial intelligence and robots are a hot topic in the science fiction genre, and have been for a long time. I just recently got absorbed into this while watching Westworld, which I think I already blogged about so I won’t get too deep into that again. On one hand I like to think that it would be impossible to fool me and that there will never be a robot built so realistic that I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t human. But on the other hand I am not even sure if I could do the Pepsi Challenge and make it through. I think the fascination in all of this is that with artificial intelligence we are trying to create something that can make its own choices, and develop emotions and logic, but also something that we can control, which seems pretty impossible. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, I don’t even really think that roombas are that helpful, but that’s just me. I think that the less it looks like a human the better, those mechanical arms at the factories don’t bug me as much as something that looks like me, the discernable difference between those two types of robots is comforting. It’s a big argument, why even toy with artificial intelligence, what can we gain by creating something as close to human as possible?

Well anyways, it’s a debate for sure. But at least we learned one thing for the day, and that is how the word “robot” came about.

The whole thing reminds me of a song I once heard….

 

Hyde, M. (1982). Computers That Think? The Search for Artificial Intelligence. Hillside, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers.

A Day Without A Woman

I just recently found out two things. The first is that March is Women’s History month, which being a woman I suppose I should have already known. The second is that in two days, Wednesday March 8, is named International Woman’s Day. I found this out because we changed our display in the library at the U, and I was asked to make a lib guide with information to accompany the holiday. You can find it here;

http://laverne.libguides.com/womenshistorymonth

If you are not a student, you probably wouldn’t care about our library’s resources since you can’t access them, but take a peek though at the info about international women’s day on the first page, and pledge through the widget how you will be an advocate for women in this next year. I will actually tally the results at the end of the month, but believe it or not, as much as we here in the library world love libguides, the general public doesn’t care for the most part so I only have 4 respondents so far and I think they were all me testing it out… But, let me just keep cramming information and resources down your throat please  it’s one of my favorite things to do.

Since we are closed this Sunday, I will be “working” this Wednesday, but through the U we are allowed to skip out on our work duties for the day to participate in yoga, meditation sessions, free chair massages, and other pretty sweet things. How cool is that?

The whole campaign is called “A Day without a Woman” and it’s being sponsored by the Women’s March on Washington. There are a few things that they are trying to organize on this day, they are asking women to:

1) Take the day off of paid and unpaid labor, if you are able to.

2) Avoid shopping for one day (unless women owned or minority owned small business).

3) Wear red for solidarity.

Find out more about the campaign here: https://www.womensmarch.com/womensday/

Everybody I’ve been talking to about it has told me that International Women’s Day is a pretty big thing in other countries around the world, but I’ve never even heard of it. I’m happy I get to be a part of it. It just makes me think of all the women in my life that have made a difference. I’ve known some pretty amazing ones. So, even if you aren’t a woman, or can’t celebrate fully by taking the day off, maybe take some time to let your mom, sister, wife, girlfriend, favorite female librarian (wink) that you appreciate them.

Magical Objections

Many of our library staff here at the U have birthdays in March. This led us to a discussion last night about our natal or “birth” charts. I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) in the past to learn how to read a natal chart, but I figure that now might be a good time again to give it another try. I think I delved into it about 10 years ago, so it’s been a while. I think I remember bits and pieces of it maybe some major tidbits but not enough to actually piece together what it all means. Another one of my co-workers and I decided we would read up on it this week and share with one another what we’ve learned. I’ve used astrology throughout my life as a general tool, nothing to bet the farm on or anything, but I do keep abreast of where the planets are, and of eclipses, moon cycles, and things like that.

Reading a chart is NOT easy. There’s a lot going on there. I mean there’s houses, squares, trines, nodes, etc. I think a lot of people take astrology at super face value, like OH I’m a Libra, so I must be wishy-washy and bad at making decision. Well, it’s more than just a sun sign, to think that there are only 12 personality types in this world would just be downright strange. I think that the knowledge in one’s natal chart is actually found in the synthesis of the information of how everything interacts with one another. Each chart is an exact snapshot of planetary positions in the exact place and time you were born so each chart is different. I mean, unless you have people that were born in the same hospital as you at the same time. I don’t really know how this conveys for twins, or crazy multiple births like octuplets. I guess I never really thought about it before right this second, I’m sure this is an argument against the whole thing.

Either way, things like astrology, tarot, and other things of the “magical” realm to me just seem like tools. Tools for understanding your internal self and the world around you, and even more so how they relate to one another. They are beliefs that rely upon faith, much like religion, think of it as a prayer, a meditation or visualization tool.  Anyhow, my chart looks like this:

keren

Obtained from: http://alabe.com/freechart/

Not a whole lot going on in the bottom half, but I guess I’ll figure out what it all means later. Today it’s easy, you just plug and chug your name, date and time of birth, then place of birth into a free site and boom. It generates your chart. Most sites have a vague interpretation at the bottom, but a lot of these can be overgeneralized, and really I want to figure out how it all works, and what it all means so I’m going to dig deeper this week and try to find out this week, month, or however long it ends up taking.

I looked in our catalog here to see what we have.

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Nothing in terms of natal chart reading, but I did find a SUPER cool old book from 1911 with tables of the houses for latitudes 22 to 60. I have NO idea what this means and no idea why we still have it. The tables seem complicated and confusing. How the heck did people do all the things they do without computers? I wonder this often. Time and dedication seem to be the only answers that really come to mind. What took an unskilled astrological individual about 30 seconds probably would have taken hours for a professional back in 1911. I also found a book about Lunar cycles, which included a graph that collected the number of ER and psychiatric hospital visits, as well as traffic accidents in Dade County Florida for a span of a couple years each. Both incidents seem to have dropped when the full moon came around. It’s a small sample, and really kind of an obscure thing to research but interesting none the less. The last book I picked out was called Objections to Astrology by Bart J. Bok and Lawrence E. Jerome. It’s split up into two long essays about why these two basically think that astrology is a crock of crap. I like to look at all sides of the story you know, refute my own beliefs from time to time.

Here’s an interesting snippet from Bok’s essay:

For some people astrology has become a religion. I urge them to examine their beliefs with care. At best, astrology can be looked upon as a self-centered approach to religious beliefs, for it deals primarily with daily affairs and with what is best for a particular person. Astrology, when practiced as completely as possible, takes away from each of us our right and duty to make our own personal decisions. The most complete religious approach is found in people who have “experienced” astrology, who deep inside themselves “know” astrology to be true, and who believe profoundly in the effects of cosmic rhythms and “vibrations”. I do not know how to convince these people that they are on the wrong track, and hence they will have to go their chosen ways (Bok, 1975, p. 30).

Here’s what Jerome had to say about it:

To bow to the magical “dictates of the stars” is to abandon free will and rationality. This is something the humanist cannot afford to do if he is truly concerned with the good of the human species, especially now amid the complexities of the twentieth century, when man needs all the rationality he can muster (Jerome, 1975, p. 62).

I would argue at top that if religion or astrology or whatever your belief system is helps you to become a better person individually then you are doing the world a great deal of good, not just being “self-centered”. Change starts on an individual level and the better you are the better you are to the people around you and then your kids, and their kids and so on and so on. Life is all about breaking personal cycles that effect you internally and therefore your offspring and future generations. Change starts first on an internal level and branches out towards all aspects of humanity around that person. They are so concrete too in saying that people are just plain wrong. It’s wrong, save them they are wrong and they need to be right. I’m not refuting science itself or scientific advances by any means, but couldn’t the world be part science and part faith or “magic” as it were? I think so, why do our rational minds always need to be the ones in control? I wouldn’t say astrology has ever dictated a decision I have made, or greatly altered the course of my life. It has helped me to reflect upon myself, and who I am within this construct of a universe. The fact that Venus squares Uranus in my chart tells me that I may tend to seek out unconventional relationships. Does that alter the course of my life, nope. Does it make me self-reflect about what I look for in partnerships and friendships, take a look at how I utilized my relationships in the past, how I view my relationships and their meaning today, and how hope for them to work out in the future, yeah a bit. To rely solely on our rationality and abandon our intuition would make this world a rather cold and boring place. I think, mind, body, spirit all have to work together, instead of try to stomp one another out. There’s much more to life than black and white, balance can be found in those grey areas.

 

Bok, J. & Jerome, L. (1975). Objections to Astrology. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.