Sunday, July 06, 2014

Things I Learned in May and June

In the chaos of kindergarten end-of-the-year and preparing for our vacation, I forgot to get my "Things I Learned in May" post up--now here it is July already. WHERE is our summer going???

A few random tidbits I've learned over the past two months: 

1. The word "berserk" comes from Norse warriors called Berserkers, whom ancient Norse literature describes as having fought in "a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury."

2. It is liberating to click "unfollow." I tried to pull back from my Facebook usage during Lent, with minimal success--it is so easy to get sucked back in. In the meantime, a friend posted a "farewell, Facebook" blog post, and her words challenged me to try harder. I decided that while it wasn't realistic or necessary for me to completely log off, I could pare down considerably. It was hard, but I went through and "unfollowed" a huge number of the people on my news feed. I didn't want to unfriend people altogether; this way, they can still see my stuff if they want, and I can always pop over to their page and check in to see how they're doing. But their daily updates don't show up on my feed, making a lot less new material for me to scroll through when I log on. It really isn't necessary for me to know what's going on with people I really wasn't close to in high school or college and wouldn't be in touch with at all if not for FB! And keeping up with their lives meant less time for keeping up with relationships that really are important to me.

I so need to learn this lesson at a deep level: EVERYTHING I say "yes" to means saying "no" to something else. Am I saying "yes" to the right things, or am I inadvertently saying "no" to more important things because I don't want to make choices that seem difficult in the short-term? Sigh...

3. At her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II wore 45 pounds of crown jewels, robes, etc. My full review of her biography Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch is on Goodreads.

4. Related: I can listen to audiobooks at double speed on my phone. LIFE. CHANGING. My whole life I have found it depressing that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. The more I read, the more books I find out about and add to my list--and new ones are published daily! But now I can get through twice as many books. It's probably a little insane how excited this makes me.

5. Every language has phonotactic rules--restrictions on vowel sequences, consonant clusters or syllable structure. And because of these rules, the closest you can get to saying "Merry Christmas" in Hawaiian is "Mele Kalikimaka." Fascinating little video here--if you're a word nerd like me, you'll love it (just a few minutes long, and fast-paced). 

6. There are three different ways to pronounce "banal." I always thought it rhymed with "anal," and was thrown for a loop when someone in an audiobook pronounced it differently. Turns out both ways, plus another yet, are acceptable. Whew.

7. After months of wondering how people were getting all those smiley faces and other miscellaneous icons in their Instagram comments, I finally figured out how to install the Emoji keyboard on my phone.

8. James A. Garfield was an incredible man--my new favorite president. I loved Candace Millard's Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President. So tragic that he was in office such a short time!

9. Nail polish that's 2-3 times more expensive as other brands does not actually last any longer than the cheap kind. *cough* I'm looking at you, essie *cough*

10. Don't leave important paperwork on the dining room table, ever. Let's just say this was learned the hard way on a morning that involved an overturned water glass, a birth certificate, signed forms and the intention of registering for first grade. 

What have you learned recently?


Danielle said...

Thankfully Facebook doesn't have much hold on me. I hate it more than I like it. As you may notice I don't post many status updates. Instagram, however, is another matter. We all have our own addictions I guess! :)

Ok HOW do you listen to audiobooks double speed on your phone? First of all, how do you get the audiobooks on your phone? Are you copying files from iTunes, using audible or what? I get all of mine from the library. And then how does double speed work? You can still understand what they're saying?

I put that Garfield book on my to-read list. Sounds fabulous!

Anonymous said...

Did the exact same thing with my Facebook feed a few months ago and it has been so great! I now log on every few days and can scroll through my whole feed -- updates from people whose lives I'm really close to -- in just a few minutes.

Gotta disagree with you about Essie, though. Maybe I was using the wrong cheap nail polish, but I've found Essie to be far superior.

Amy said...

I'm getting audiobooks from the library--not physical CDs, but digital downloads via OverDrive. Once I download them, I drag them into iTunes, change the file info to Audiobook instead of Music, and then sync to my phone.

When I open the files on my phone, in the Music app, the bottom right corner has a spot where you can choose 1x speed, 2x speed or 0.5x speed. I find that the narrators generally speak so slowly and clearly that to double the speed does not make it difficult to understand at all. It makes me engage my brain more because it's moving more quickly, but it's not hard to make out the words.

That said, it works better for some narrators than others. It didn't bother me in the least for Elizabeth the Queen or Destiny of the Republic (though I imagine it might if you switched back and forth--I listened at 2x speed from the start)...but the narrator's voice for Sarah's Key is a little obnoxious and high-pitched at 2x, at least for some of the characters' voices.

Danielle said...

Thanks Amy! I'm interested in Destiny of the Republic, and good to know you liked it via audiobook too. I don't always like all non-fiction as an audiobook, but fast moving ones that are almost novel-like are fine.