Four years ago, my laptop died. At the same time, a friend was going into seminary. He had to have a computer in seminary, of course, but it could only be a seminary-issued machine. He’d purchased a laptop fairly recently, and so he sold it to me for $250. That was my laptop for, as I said, the past four years. It’s been fine – your basic Toshiba. I hurt it about a year ago when I spilled Diet Coke on the keyboard. I acted quickly, but not quickly enough to save the comma key – and so for about a year, whenever I needed a comma, I’d have to cut and paste one from another document. Awkward, but I accepted it as the consequences of my actions. Recently, the machine’s general sluggishness and size started to get on my nerves, as well as the whole comma thing, so I decided it was time to replace it – and the more I thought about the bloatware that comes on any non-Mac machine, the more I didn’t want to deal with it. So, yeah, I jumped in and got a MacBook Air this week. I figured four years of average yearly laptop cost of $60…it might be okay and averages out to a decent cost. I like it so far. I’m mostly amazed, like a toddler, at simple things: as in how it powers up instantly. Little things.
Not my usual thing, but this week, we went to a waterpark – called Splash Adventures. It was formerly a smaller full-scale amusement park called Alabama Adventures, but this year they shut down the non-water rides and expanded the aqua area. I paid way too much to get in – I understand there are discount coupons floating around, but I didn’t score any this time. It was a cloudy day, so the park wasn’t super crowded. The weather shifted from clouds to off and on rain in the afternoon, but that didn’t deter anyone – there was no thunder or lightening, so they only chased everyone out of the rides once, during a particularly heavy downpour. But for an hour or so in the afternoon, there was swimming in the rain. What I remember from swimming in the rain as a child is that it felt ecstatic – almost transgressive. Why is that?
I am needing to get serious about schooling plans. I am torn between the need and desire to research (because Research Is Fun) and the sure knowledge that each and every time, I will fall right down a very deep rabbit hole, and I have a life. I need to adopt the same philosophy I have in regard to travel plans. At some point, I just have to pick one, stop dithering, and move on.
I read Beautiful Ruins this week, partly because of the plot description, but mostly because of the cover. I admit it. I adore this cover and covet it. The book was okay. Lots of characters with various arcs, lots of jumping back and forth through time. It was all a little much, and I didn’t like the central conceit. To describe it would be to spoil a plot point that’s not made clear til partway through the book, but let’s just say I thought it was gimmicky and obvious, and I would have been more interested in the book without it – if the author had found another way to explore the lives of these characters – mainly a rising Hollywood starlet, a rising Hollywood producer, and the proprietor of a ramshackle hotel on a ramshackle town that didn’t make it into the Cinque Terre (which would have made it Sette Terre, then, right?).
Still covet the cover.
Have been reading The Pursuit of Italy for a while and hope to finish it this weekend. It’s a fascinating, rather iconoclastic look at the history of Italy. It’s iconoclastic because the author dispenses with the narrative of inevitability and destiny in regard to Italian unification and nationalism and takes a close look at the complexities and perhaps even negative consequences of the creation of the nation of Italy. He doesn’t really think much of the Church and hence doesn’t take a lot of time exploring the role of the Church in all of this through the centuries in a terribly deep way. I would like to find a relatively objective and contemporary history of the Papal States from the 18th century on to flesh it out for me, but I’m not having any luck.
I have also been reading The Betrothed – for weeks. That sucker is long. Maybe I’ll finish it this year. I read it and Beautiful Ruins on the Kindle app, and have The Pursuit of Italy in a hard copy from the library. I find that I really don’t like reading non fiction on e-readers. I do so much paging back and forth and referencing of indices and bibliography, I find print books easier for me in that regard. Also, I do find that for me, there is a relationship between the solidity of a book in space and my ability to retain information. I think they have done studies on this – one of my older sons told me about it – but I do think there is a connection (again, at least for me) between physical action and the senses and my levels of retention, especially with complex non-fiction.
For those of you in the Southwest, this is no big news, but for a foreigner, seeing all the adobe and adobe-like structures everywhere down there is a treat. The whole landscape is so different anyway, and the structures with their earth-toned colorways, flat roofs and rounded corners which blend into the hills, just add to the attraction. From an interior perspective, what I liked the most were the wide window ledges and the alcoves. I believe they have a specific name, but I don’t know what it is. I love them, though – this from our rental.
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