Thursday, February 03, 2011

Thursday Five Things

1. I caught the bad cold that's going around. I started to feel a little under the weather, on and off on Monday and Tuesday, but thought that maybe it was just related to stress and a big assignment I had due in school. But the assignment got turned in and the cold got worse. I stayed home today and did practically nothing. You know what I don't like? When you start to get better enough that, when you're sitting still, you feel fine and are really, really bored of sitting/reading/writing/watching videos online, but as soon as you stand up and try to do something, you feel dizzy and sick again.

2. My boyfriend and I are going to Cannon Beach tomorrow (cold or no, the hotel is already paid for!!) We are leaving in the morning when he gets out of work, spending the night, and leaving the next morning in time for me to get to work. This is the first time we've been able to plan something like this in months and probably will be until spring break. Our time off tends not to overlap for more than twelve hours or so at a time (and that is including the night hours when most people are asleep.) I look forward to the day when we can plan weekend trips to Bend and things like that. Anyway, if anyone has any Cannon Beach recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments. Places to get dinner, cool stuff on the way, anything like that!

3. Fueled by DayQuil and boredom at being too healthy to lay in bed anymore but too sick to walk out my front door, I made gnocchi. It was, at first, easier than I expected. But then it became harder than I expected, as the gnocchi stuck together and required WAY more flour than I thought they would. I should note that I started this post pre-gnocchi, with five things in mind that I really really really wanted to write, and post-gnocchi I am not sure what they were but am determined to write till the end! Anyway, I've been wanting to make this recipe for Peach Gnocchi for years, but I felt like trying to tackle gnocchi for the first time AND some weird variation was just too much. I felt that it might result in something like this with burns on some fingers and kitchen-knife wounds on the others, and incomprehensible mess all over the kitchen...and the dishes! Oh, the dishes! So I planned, for all these years, to tackle gnocchi first. And I did. Maybe next week I will tackle this "easy" homemade pasta recipe from Mark Bittman.

4. I am enjoying reading right now. I'm rereading Anne of Green Gables for the fifth time (or so) and loving it. I am sure that when I was younger, I didn't really pay much attention to Marilla's character, but now that I am older than Anne in the book, I am noticing the way Montgomery has constructed her and describes her, and I just like it. Many people who knew me and spoke to me regularly between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2007 heard me harp on this topic, but if you didn't know me then, you probably have never heard this, so I'll give you the benefit of it now. I've always loved Lucy Maud Montgomery's books and I always thought of them as classics that were suitable for children to read (middle school age or so) but not necessarily children's literature. Like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. For one thing, I think most kids would miss the subtleties of Marilla's character. In 2006 with my newly earned English degree, beginning work on my Plant Science degree (and miserably plodding through Organic Chemistry, feeling as dunce-y as Anne Shirley in Geometry), I not only observed that Montgomery's books were constantly shelved in the "Juvenile Fiction" section of libraries, but that they were classified everywhere as children's literature. Some research on the matter confirmed what I suspected, which was that when the books were published, not only were they wildly successful, but they were considered fiction, not children's fiction. They were read by adults. Some say, "Like Harry Potter!" but NO. Harry Potter books certainly are appreciated by adults, but they were originally written for children. Anne of Green Gables was not. It's the other way around.

Being reclassified as children's literature cuts off a large potential audience, and I suspect that it cuts the books out of the canon of literature that is worth of study. But I think it can be argued (and I've read this) that the Anne books pushed boundaries, especially of gender norms. To keep this from dragging on, I'll just say that I think these books have been given less respect and notice than they deserve. In my mind, they are classics, worthy of study and analysis like anything else. Just because they are fun to read does not make them any less scholarly.

The other book I'm reading and enjoying is Cataclysms on the Columbia, which is about both the Missoula Floods that formed the weird geology of Washington and Oregon and also the scientists who first did the research on the topic. These scientists - one in particular, J. Harlan Bretz - went against the contemporary accepted norms of geology to assert these theories. To put it mildly, people were very mean to Bretz. But he stuck to what he knew was right and what the data showed, and I'm glad to learn (from Wikipedia, I couldn't wait to get to the end of the book) that he did live to see his theories widely accepted. Not only is the story interesting - the geology and the story of the man himself - but there's something inspiring about an individual whom everyone doubts, seemingly just because they are different but not because they've truly examined the reasons to doubt this person, ultimately being proven right.

5. On that note, did you know that Vladimir Nabokov (the guy who wrote Lolita, which I still haven't read) was an entomologist? This article is a bit old but I'm still fascinated by it. It is about Nabokov the Lepidopterist in general, but mostly about a theory of butterfly speciation and evolution that was totally dismissed in his time, which has recently been proven with DNA evidence and science that Nabokov did not have, to be completely correct. To me, it's impressive that he figured out what he did without modern technology. It shows an attention to detail and an intelligence that perhaps transcends scientific technology. Maybe all that technology is nothing without an open, scientific mind. (And patience!) I wonder if the fact that his work was not limited to science (and similarly, Bretz discovered things as a relative newcomer to the field that more experienced geologists did not - partially because he did more field work, actually looking at and walking around on the land) helped make him able to see things that others didn't. It's precisely this thing that causes people to be doubted; they get pigeonholed into one thing they're good at, and sometimes don't get respect at the other things they are good at, but I think that sometimes, seemingly different disciplines inform each other.

Anyway, check out the Nabokov article if you have time, and if you have more time, check out Cataclysms on the Columbia! Upon my return from the rainy, gray coast, I will finish the Canadian Adventure stories.

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