Today is Christmas Eve, and as I think about this day I often remember the old poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. The poem is about Santa’s arrival at the home of a child on the night before Christmas. A Visit from St. Nicholas is an extremely charming poem, however I often wonder how it is possible for children to still believe in Santa Claus. With all of the technology available today, I find it odd that kids are not as jaded as their teen counterparts, but many of them still believe in good old Santa. When I was a kid I never had a chance to believe in Santa Claus, because I had older siblings who didn’t allow for much childishness, and also I may have been too clever to think an old man would climb into my window to give me gifts on Christmas. These days, more and more people seem to be against telling their kids about Santa Claus, and while I am not generally in favor of kids believing in Santa, I feel like part of childhood should be exploring and figuring things out. I don’t plan to tell my future children that Santa exists, but if they want to believe he does, I would rather not tarnish their beliefs unless it is completely necessary. When I think about Christmas, I don’t think about presents, or about a jolly old man spreading joy, Christmas is a time to spread the joy of the life we have been given to those who feel they have no reason to be joyful. Try to be nice this Christmas, it isn’t about getting the last toy or pie on the shelf, tell everyone you see Merry Christmas, you would be surprised by how much those simple words mean to a person who is down. Merry Christmas everyone.
Today is national dictionary day, the most recent in America’s long line of unnecessary national days. October 16th is the anniversary of the birth of Noah Webster, the man who compiled the famous Webster’s Dictionary. Noah Webster was a lexicographer in the late 1700s who decided he wanted to put together a comprehensive dictionary of the English language. It took Webster 26 years to complete his text, and in order to properly map the etymology of each word, he had to learn 28 languages. Creating this massive dictionary was quite a feat to undertake, when you consider the fact that Webster had to learn and decipher all of these words, it is no surprise that it took him so many years to complete. For years, dictionaries were considered purely academic texts, but in recent years with the rapid changes in vernacular and use, the dictionary has become more of a map of common lingo. The English language and all of its various dialects have seen a large amount of evolution in recent years, and with commonly used internet terms gaining steam, it is hard for many to keep up with “real” and “fake” words. The dictionary has become less of a comprehensive compilation of the English language and more of a museum of archaic words and phrases. The growth of information technology seems to have made the paper dictionary almost useless, while leading to a faster growth of online dictionary directories. For now, dictionaries are still being published, and libraries and academic institutions are still more than willing to stock their bookshelves with these massive publications, but it seems like there will be little use for offline dictionaries within the next ten years. In honor of National Dictionary Day, I will end this post with the definition of one of my favorite, scarcely used words, which can be found in your nearest dictionary.
obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.
“they were served by obsequious waiters”
“We Real Cool” by Gwendelyn Brooks
The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Today I found myself thinking about this old poem. I have read it hundreds of times, and probably written countless commentaries on it for school, but I feel as though the meaning of this poem evolves as we age. “We Real Cool” is a simple poem about some pool players in a pool hall, a place where “cool” people would probably hang out in the late 1950s. The lines of this poem state what they do, the first line seems positive enough, but the poem seems to spiral out into an extremely morbid realization at the end. The pool players are doing things that seem “cool” when one is young, such as skipping school, staying out late, drinking, and partying all night, but in the end they seem to realize that living in this manner may lead to an untimely death. While I was reading this poem today, I actually saw the the last line a bit differently, I saw it as though these pool players have reached the height of what they considered to be “cool,” and had nothing left to do in their minds, other than to die. In a sense this is a sad poem, life is about more than keeping up appearances or being popular, and if anyone lives for a certain status, where do they go once that status is gone? This poem encompasses the saying “youth is wasted on the young” perfectly, When we are young we really don’t worry about the future, we live for the day and hope to be ok tomorrow. This poem is short, but if it is read a certain way it can be incredibly deep. I will definitely read this poem again in 10 years, I may have a wider observation on it, or even a completely different view on the message these “cool cats” were trying to send in this interesting piece.
The Martian was an interesting film, this movie is based on a 2011 novel, and it was pretty cool to see how quickly and effectively it has been adapted to film. While I enjoyed this movie, I felt as though a few aspects of the film were somewhat sped through. I understand that this was a long movie with a solid pace, and that a cinematic release will never be able to convey the intricacies of written literature, but I still felt like I was forced to know more than what they were telling me in the film. I love space travel, and I especially love that this movie deals with the matter of the possible colonization of Mars, but I wonder if I would have enjoyed it as much if I was ignorant to the film’s subject matter. The Martian is a good science fiction film, it packs enough suspense to keep most movie goers interested, while not over doing it in the dialogue with too much jargon. The visuals of the film, while someone plain, perfectly express the idea of total planetary isolation, and the special effects of the movie are top rate. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone looking for an interesting and thought provoking action film. If you like a somewhat mindless suspense movie that throws in a bit of science for flavor, then this is definitely the film for you.
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.
Sometimes it is just easier to laugh than to let stress get the best of you. Over the past few months I have gone through situations in which I was stretched far beyond what I thought was possible, and in that time of stress, I have found that it is just a better response to laugh than to express the weight of the stress otherwise. It is not always easy to laugh during stressful periods, but when considering the alternative reactions, it is probably the easiest to explain. This quote is discussing human emotion and the odd and different ways we can all react to the same situations. When the author says he prefers to laugh rather than cry, since it is easier to clean up, I look at the phrase figuratively rather than as a literal statement. When I read this quote I imagine the mess that goes along with being upset, tears can be shed for sadness or for anger, and whenever they are shed they are usually accompanied by the actions of these emotions. I have done and said some terrible things when I was upset, and while they all do not need the most extensive cleanup, it is better to not have to deal with fixing a mess that was made due to a stress reaction emotion. I understand that laughter is not the easiest tactic to learn when it comes to dealing with stress, but once it is mastered, you will quickly find that it is not only the best way to face stress, but it can also be one of the best ways of relieving the pressure of stress.
Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
It is regularly said that nobody knows what tomorrow holds, and it is true that tomorrow is not promised, but we still live each day with the blissful ignorance to what may come next. This quote addresses the notion that The author would still go on with life even if he knew the fate of the planet was set in stone. Often times people are given bad news, and instead of trying to solve a problem they fall apart, but this quote is about staying grounded no matter what tomorrow may bring. Things can fall apart from day to day, but if and when things are put back together what is left from yesterday to enjoy? In this quote, Luther was talking about keeping things in perspective, no matter what tomorrow holds. I equate his planting an apple tree statement to any menial task that can be done on a day to day basis. I certainly wouldn’t be thinking of planting a tree or putting money away for savings when I know the world is ending, but in the chance that the world is still standing the next day, I would be glad I finished those tasks. The most basic theme to this quote is to live today, and prepare for tomorrow, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra apple tree.
The fresh mountain air, and the seemingly endless stream of free activities to enjoy in nature, reminds me of one of Aesop’s fables about enjoying the simple things in life and treasuring the things you have been given. “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” is a story about a big city mouse, who goes to visit his cousin in the country. The city mouse is dissatisfied with the simplicity of country life, so he brings his cousin to the city in order to give him a taste of the high life. After a run in with the dangers of the city, the country mouse decides he would rather keep his simple rural life over the pomp of the city. One of this stories main themes is to be content with your surroundings, and this theme is shown by both mice in the tale. The city mouse was unhappy with the country even though he was only visiting, if he had a more open mind about his environment he would have definitely seen past the simplicity and enjoyed his stay with family. The country mouse wasn’t exactly upset about the country life, but he did expect the “grass to be greener” in the city, so he jumped at the chance to experience the high life, and was quickly reminded of the safe simplicity of his home. Whenever I leave my home for a while or even move to a new place, I try to make sure I enjoy my surroundings to the fullest while keeping in mind the benefits of my origins. As I stand in the this rural camp, I am enjoying the wildlife and the scenery, but I know at heart I will always be a “city boy,” and as long as I have the ability to travel, I will always take time to enjoy where I am without losing sight of the joys of home.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have heard this quote several times before, it is often recited in graduation speeches to eager students ready to take on the world, but it is never really explained. Most people would love to set out on a new path and built their own trail, but the thing is, building a trail is difficult and doing it without the right tools or training is just plain stressful. I agree that it is much more rewarding to build your own path, and have the satisfaction of knowing that everyone else is following your lead, but many people don’t realize that there is a learning curve to getting it right. Whenever you set out on a new path it is wise to take note of the advice of those who have gone before you. Learning from the mistakes of others is not exactly taking their path, it is just working their experiences into another approach. What most people don’t realize is the fact that avoiding the mistakes of others is beneficial to time management, anytime I have known the mistakes of another I worked around these mistakes, effectively giving myself time to make my own while still keeping on a solid pace. I like this quote but if I had to tell graduating seniors one thing about setting out on their own trail, it would be to never disregard the counsel of those who have gone before them. It is always awesome to achieve great things but there are no bonus points for doing it all by yourself.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
I love this quote, I may have to use it as my new motto. It is never easy to create something great and the old saying goes “you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs,” Thomas Edison was a great inventor who is celebrated for the things he accomplished, but there is little known about his failures. In order to reach the level of success that gained Edison his international notoriety, he had to go through thousands of setbacks. What makes Edison great is that he not only looked at his failures as just a minor issue, he looked at them as a learning experience, and built on each “failure” in order to reach his goal. I have to admit, there have been times in my life when I felt like I failed, and I ended up either moving on to something else or just putting plans on a shelf for an extended time. The message I gather from this quote is that every action towards a goal is worth something, often times we like to make setbacks bigger than they actually are, but from this quote and the life of Thomas Edison we can see that any misstep can be just brick in the building that is success, as long as one is willing to press on to their goals. Edison was quite the inventor, and I and the world at large will be forever grateful that he decided to reach his goals in spite of his many failures.
The suffering man ought really to consume his own smoke; there is no good in emitting smoke till you have made it into fire.
It is difficult to go through tough times, but for whatever reason it is a requirement of life. One would be fortunate to live a life free of difficulty, and I’m certain that it is an impossibility. In this quote the writer is speaking about keeping your own smoke in and by smoke I would say he is referring to emotion. This quote can be seen in two ways, on the one hand it can be seen as you should keep your problems to yourself and not let them burden others, on the other hand and my interpretation of this is that you can share your burdens, just don’t let them become a larger problem due to your lack of action. Some people take a difficult situation and let it upset them, they in turn take that anger out on others in their lives, a series of events that always leads to more undue sorrow. The smoke in this quote is anger, it is better to consume the anger, in that you work on it, rather than let it run amuck in your life and relationships. It is much better to contain a smoky situation than to extinguish a flame. Difficulties are part of life, and the trials of life are not what defines an individual, it is how they are handled that shows true character. Whenever you find yourself in a tough situation, it is good to go to friends to ask for help, just don’t wait until you reach a point in which the small problem has become an uncontrollable flame.