Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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The Etiquette of Bus Wine

WineSo I was on the bus on the way home from work yesterday and two men got on the bus, sat down a few seats away from where I was sitting, and then one of them took a bottle of wine out of his bag, opened it up and took a swig right out of the bottle. But the thing is – it was my favourite wine1. So part of me is like “Oh my god, you can’t drink wine on the bus!” and the other part of me is like “Omg, that is such good wine!” And then after he and his buddy had each taken a drink, he offered it to the guy next to him, who was like “Uh, no.” And again I was torn – part of me was like “why aren’t they offering it to me? It’s my FAVOURITE WINE! Where are your manners??2” but also “Eww, I don’t want to drink wine from a bottle that random strangers have been drinking from.” I already think transit is germy enough!

Image Credit: Posted by Troy Kasper Photography on Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.

  1. For the record, it is Ogopogo’s Lair, a Pinot Grigio by Prospect Winery. Now, wine snobs may laugh at me, and it’s not like I’m saying it’s the best wine in the world or anything, but as a relatively affordable wine, it’s my fav! Also for the record, I have no affiliation with Prospect Winery; they haven’t paid me to say their wine is delicious, so I am in no way compromised, bribed, or otherwise induced to write anything about their delicious, delicious wine. If someone from Prospect Winery is reading this and would like to send me a case or twelve of their delicious wine to bribe, compromise, or otherwise induce me, I’m not going to say no. I’m just saying. []
  2. Props are due to Dr. Dan for the title of this blog posting, which he suggested after I regaled him with this story in person. []

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Quick Trip Recap: London & Scotland

I’m sure it will be awhile before I get to do some of my usual thorough post-trip blogging of my trip to the UK, what with all the having-to-go-back-to-work-and-teaching-and-catch-up-on-all-the-work-I-missed-while-I-was-galavanting-around-the-UK, but for those of you who just can’t wait, here’s a high level summary of all the fun I had while you were working like a bunch of suckers.

Oct 12

Flew to London. Spent most of the flight marking assignments. I should do more traveling as I am really efficient at marking while on planes1.

Oct 13-15

London. Saw a bunch of London things. Went to the Natural History Museum and couldn’t figure out why nothing there looked familiar since I’d gone there on my previous trip to London. Turns out, I hadn’t. I went to the British Museum in London and the Natural History Museum in Dublin *and* the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, but never the one in London. As it turns out, I prefer all of those other museums to the NHM in London.

Oct 16

Train trip from London to Glasgow. Had a steak dinner and then went to my favourite of the pubs we visited in the UK (and we visited quite a few): The Pot Still ((Dr. Dan,The Pot Still is like Fet’s Whiskey Kitchen in Vancouver but without the cool ladder but with cool Scottish people instead. I think you would like it there.)).

Oct 17

Glasgow. Glasgow Cathedral and the Glasgow Necropolis are spectacular. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is an interesting mix of a natural history type museum and an art gallery. Did the first of our scotch distillery tours: Clydeside Distillery.

Oct 18

Visited the University of Glasgow – I can’t believe that people get to go to school on such a beautiful campus – those old buildings are amazing! The business school is named after Adam Smith (he was a philosopher professor there) and we proceeded to see his name a lot around Scotland for the rest of our trip. Then we drove to Glencoe, making various stops along the way. Scottish countryside is stunning.

Oct 19

On this day I got to do the thing that had originally prompted me to go to Scotland (but was by no means the only reason I wanted to go) – I visited my Highland Titles Estate! For the uninitiated, the Highland Titles Nature Reserve sells plots of land and when you buy one, you become a Scottish landowner, which means you are allowed to use the title Lady, Lord, or Laird. As you know, I love titles, designations, and anything else I can add to my name, and I like to support nature conservation, so of course I am the Reverend Lady Dr. Mary Elizabeth Snow. It was a rainy day when I visited my vast 1 square foot estate, but visit it I did! After that we drove to the Isle of Skye and took a ferry to the Isle of Raasay, where we stayed in a hotel that is in a distillery – the aptly named Isle of Raasay distillery. We had dinner at the only place on the island to have dinner, Raasay House. The Isle of Skye and the Isle of Raasay are absolutely spectacularly stunning!

Oct 20

Did our second scotch distillery tour – Isle of Raasay Distillery. Then took the ferry back to the Isle of Skye and drove around and looked at various things there. So beautiful.

Oct 21

Looked at more Isle of Skye things and then drove back to Edinburgh. Got a flat tyre2 on our rental car, but the rental car company sent a guy to put the spare tyre on and then we were on our way again. It was dark when we got to Edinburgh but a lot of buildings were lit up and they looked incredibly beautiful in the night.

Oct 22

Squeezed as many things into our half day in Edinburgh as we could: St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, two cemeteries, and a bit of shopping. I got to see where David Hume is buried, so I was pretty chuffed about that. Then it was back to Glasgow, where we had just enough time for a cup of tea and then got onto our train to London.

Oct 23

Flew home.

Also, here’s some random other thoughts/observations:

  • Dairy Milks taste way better in the UK than in Canada. So does butter.
  • Things that you don’t tend to find in the UK: conditioner, salads.
  • Things you find a lot of in the UK: sheep, meat, cemeteries.
  • Three banks in Scotland makes their own banknotes. They are basically equivalent to pounds sterling that are issued by the Bank of England, but they are issued by retail banks. At one store in Scotland, the clerk told us that these banknotes are not accepted in England, but the internet tells me otherwise. I suspect she may have just been trying to get us to spend our money in Scotland instead of England!

More to come, including photos3 once I get myself unburied from all this work I need to catch up on!

  1. I also wrote most of this blog posting on the plane – just didn’t add the links or post it because I’m way too cheap to pay for wifi access on the plane. Hence why I’m posting it now! []
  2. Because that’s how they spell it in the UK! []
  3. I took about 8 million photos. []

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Vote!

Tomorrow is municipal election day in BC and if you are an eligible voter and haven’t yet voted in an advanced poll, then get out there and vote!

A lot of people don’t pay attention to municipal politics, but the municipal government deals with a lot of the things that affect our daily lives: roads, recreation facilities and community centres, development permits, parks, libraries, schools, policing, fire fighting, garbage pickup, and recycling, just to name a few. In my city, New Westminster, the city even runs its own electrical utility! The city can also advocate for things that are important to its residents, but that aren’t wholly within their jurisdiction and/or collaborate with other municipalities and/or other levels of government for projects that require them to work together – thinks like public transit and the much needed Patullo Bridge replacement.

I consider myself lucky that I live in a vibrant city with a real community feel, where the mayor, council, and school board all work hard to make it that way and to keep making improvements where we still have work to do (things like reconciliation with indigenous people, and more inclusive and meaningful engagement with the public).

Since I’m currently over in the UK on holidays, I voted in an advanced poll and based on my Twitter feed, it seems like a lot of other people did too. But tomorrow is e-day, so if you haven’t voted yet, get out there and do it!

Due to the 8 hour time zone difference, I’m probably going to go to sleep tomorrow night before the election results are in. But I’ll be checking those results first thing when I get up on the 21st!

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Stock Images

So I was looking for images to use in slides for the class I’m teaching this semester – I’m a big fan of using striking images in my slides and I also make a point of only using ones that have copyright licenses to allow me to use them for free1. I have a few sites that I go to for such images: Freepik, Unsplash, Pixabay, Free Images, and Flickr (where you can search for Creative Commons licensed photos). I’ve found some pretty good ones and have some slides that I really like this semester, but in the process of searching for images is not always so smooth. Like yesterday when I was searching for an image to represent “causation”. Three sites2 gave me no images and one site gave me 484 images of carnations. #EvaluatorProblems.

I’ve also come across some weird stuff. Like this image3, which is currently haunting my dreams:

hand-2571553

So, um, Happy early Halloween?

Image Credit: Posted by SarahRichterArt ((Be warned: I just went on the page of this photographer and she also has photos with spiders in them. And you know how I feel about spiders! Gah!)) on Pixaby with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I know a lot of people take whatever images they want off the interwebs and use them with impunity, but I choose not to do that. []
  2. Flickr gave me a bunch of unrelated photos plus this photo, which made my head explode, because it’s completely not true. We don’t use correlation to give credit to vaccines for preventing diseases – we know vaccines work to prevent diseases from randomized controlled trials!! #ScientistRant. []
  3. For the record, I was searching for “reports” when I found this abomination! []

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Vote early, vote often!

OK, maybe just vote early.

It’s municipal election time here in BC (as it is in some other places in the country) and while election day isn’t until Oct 20, I’m going to be in the far away land of Scotland on some well-earned holidays on that day1, so I exercised my right to vote today at the advanced poll. I got to cast my vote for mayor, city council, and school board – and I’m happy to say that there are some pretty great people running for these positions, so I happily voted for some incumbents who I think have been doing a great job running our city, and some fresh faces that I think have a lot to offer.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

‪Took me longer to take a selfie that I was happy with than it did to vote! #vote #newwest #advancedvoting #municipalpolitics

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on

I guess now I’ll just have to wait until Oct 20 and watch the returns come in from across the pond! Thank the FSM for the internets!

  1. I’m very much looking forward to my holidays, but I’m a wee bit sad that I won’t be in town to watch the results come in and then take part in the victory party! []

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one this year, including but not limited to (and in no particular order):

  • working on Saturday morning (due to the project I’m working on requiring some data daily for a few weeks, so everyone on my team has taken on some weekend shifts)
  • lifting weights up and putting them back down again, on two separate days this weekend
  • playing hockey – and winning in overtime!
  • watching the traditional Thanksgiving movie, Venom
  • battling for a mythical Pokémon
  • getting a massage
  • snuggling my cats
  • buying a new heater for the frog tank, since the old one didn’t seem to be working
  • recording a guest appearance on a podcast1
  • working on the course I’m teaching this semester (a combo of marking assignments and preparing slides for this week’s class)
  • writing alt-text for the images in my textbook so that the book can be a little more accessible for people with visual impairments
  • cooking Thanksgiving dinner2
  • more importantly – eating Thanksgiving dinner!
  • packing up all the leftovers so that I will have delicious lunches all this week

Anyhoo, since it’s Thanksgiving I should probably be blogging about things that I’m thankful for rather than just listing all sorts of things that I’ve done this weekend! So here’s a list, in no particular order and definitely not an exhaustive list, of some things that I’m thankful for:

  • I’m thankful that my family and I are all healthy.
  • I’m thankful for Scott, particularly his kindness and generosity and willingness to put up with me doing all the things all the time.
  • I’m thankful for my cats and my frog3.
  • I’m thankful that I have a roof over my head and food on my table.
  • I’m thankful that I have an amazing team at work – we have lots of fun while working hard and producing high quality and useful information to help inform decisions that are important to the health care system.
  • I’m thankful for all of my wonderful friends.
  • I’m thankful that I’m playing hockey better than I ever have before – and for that, I owe thanks to my amazing trainers at the gym. They’ve coached me to be stronger and more powerful than I ever have before.
  • I’m thankful that I live, work, and play in a safe and beautiful place, and I acknowledge that I do this on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and QayQayt Nations.
  • I’m thankful that I have some upcoming vacation and that I have the means to do some travelling for my vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sources:

Footnotes:

  1. More about that to come later, when it’s released! []
  2. It was a bit of an unorthodox dinner, as we roasted a chicken instead of a turkey. This may or may not have been due to the fact that I was too disorganized to order a turkey and so the only available turkeys at my butcher shop were ones that way eleventy thousand pounds, which is a wee bit too much for just Scott and I, so I decided to get a chicken instead. We had all the other fixings: mashed potatoes, stuffing, and several kinds of veggies! []
  3. Sadly, we lost some frogs over the summer and are down to just one frog: Copernicus the Third. He’s looking a lot less energetic than he used to, but he’s still with us. []

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Happy Birthday, Watson & Crick

It’s been another trip around the sun for my kitties, Watson and Crick – today they turn 71 Being cats, their lives aren’t that exciting, to be honest. But in the last year…

Watson has done some reading:

Watson doing some reading

Crick sat in the sink for the first time ever2:

Crick in the sink

And the two of them seem to be buddies more often – I seem to have more photos of them sitting together than in the past:

Watson & Crick on a pizza box

Cats in a box

 

Also, Crick has a new favourite spot to sit – Scott’s office chair:

IMG_8729

And Watson was a bit confused by this file holder:

Watson exploring a file holder

To celebrate their 7th birthday, they got a new cat tree, because their old one was getting pretty ratty3

Watson & Crick got a new cat tree for an early birthday

Happy birthday, Watson & Crick! We will celebrate with some tuna tonight!

  1. According to the internets, that’s 44 in people years. []
  2. Or at least, the first time I’ve seen it. []
  3. Plus I got my condo painted this summer and when I’d pulled the old cat tree away from the wall for the painters, I noticed that there were black marks on the wall where the cat tree was leaning against it (the old cat tree was black) and since I didn’t want that happening on my freshly painted walls, I figured that a lighter colour cat tree – and one that was more sturdily built than the old one – was in order. []

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We are three weeks into my hockey season…

… and I’m leading my division in points. For reals. Here’s proof:Division Leader for Points, Sept 22, 2018

I’m really just recording this here because I know it won’t last for long1! I mean, last year I only had three points in the entire SEASON in this division, and right now I’m leading the division with four points in four games – and two of them have been goals! And one of those goals was a really nice goal, too! Like, my first goal was me firing it hard, but just right along the ice (like I didn’t even manage to lift it like 1 mm off the ice), towards the net as I crossed the blue line, just to try to get the puck in deep as two defence were coming at me – thinking maybe if I were lucky, I’d get a rebound for my linemate. But instead it just slid through the 5-hole! But my second goal was a beaut – I was standing at the back door and my linemate passed it from the corner, right through the crease and I actually managed to (a) receive the puck (can’t say that I always manage to take a pass well), (b) paused long enough to look at what my options were (instead of my usual move, which is to panic, and shoot the puck right at the goalie), (c) notice that there was some available net just over the goalie’s right shoulder, and (d) actually lift the puck right in that spot. Lifting the puck is somewhat new to me – it’s probably thanks to the combination of taking a hockey camp a couple of summers ago, getting a better stick, and actually working out so I have some power – so I was pretty chuffed. Also, it ended up being the game winning goal, so that made it all the more sweet!

Anyhoo, as I said, I don’t expect to be on the top of this list for very long, so I’m basking in the glory of leading the second from the bottom division in beer league hockey while I can!

  1. Probably by the end of tonight it will have changed. []

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Podcasts I’ve Been Listening to Lately

In addition to reading, I listen to a fair number of podcasts. I typically just listen when I’m driving, so I don’t listen as much as I did when I was driving to work – I used to get a solid 40-60 minutes of podcast listening in per weekday (depending on traffic) when I was working in an office that wasn’t very close to good transit so I was driving to work everyday. But then we got moved to a different location that is not as bad to get to on transit, but I mostly read on the Skytrain and the bus; I have a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to where my office is, so I usually listen to a podcast during that walk1  We are going to be moving to a new office downtown, right near a Skytrain station, some time in the next few months, so I once that happens I won’t be listening to nearly as many podcasts – I’ll probably only listen during the only other time I really drive: on my way to the hockey rink.

Anyway, here’s some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately, in no particular order:

  • Everything is Alive is a relatively new podcast in which inanimate objects, like a can of soda and a bar of soap, are interviewed. It’s hilarious2.
  • Sea Hags is a podcast by a woman who goes to my gym and a friend of hers. I heard her talking about it one day and decided to check it out. They talk about all kinds of stuff and even when they are talking about stuff that I typically am not into, like bullet journaling and astrology, I still find it endlessly entertaining. They are currently on hiatus, but hopefully will be coming back soon!
  • School of Batman is a podcast that I started listening to when Dr. Dan was on it, but I have kept listening to since. This podcast features academics talking about their research and has a short story where what they research helps Batman solve a crime.
  • Very Bad Wizards is a podcast that features a philosopher and a psychologist who talk about things related to morality and neuroscience. They tend to do a lot of chit-chat at the beginning of the podcast that I could really do without, but usually make up for it by discussing interesting research and doing so in an irreverent manner that I find amusing.

I still listen to a couple of the podcasts that I last mentioned the podcasts that I listen to three years ago, but sadly some of the ones on that list have ended since then. In particular, I really miss Caustic Soda! There are also a few podcasts I started listening to, but haven’t had an episode in a long time. I’ve always thought it would be really fun to do a podcast, but it’s also apparently a tonne of work and takes a tonne of time, so probably isn’t something I’m really going to do in the near future.

  1. Or, if the buses are all messed up and one is not going to show up for a while at the bus stop outside the Skytrain station that I go to, then sometimes I just walk all the way from the Skytrain station to my office, so it’s a good 20 minute walk. []
  2. Props to Capulet Communications, who recently featured this podcast in their weekly newsletter, which is where I heard about this podcast. []

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Summer Reading

Since I last reviewed the books I’d read this year here on ye ole blog, I’ve been on quite a roll with reading and have read SEVEN books in those TWO months! What follows are my brief reviews of these books – expect spoilers!

Vancouver Is Ashes: The Great Fire of 1886 by Lisa Anne Smith

My friend Linda gave me this book two birthdays ago. I finally got around to reading it and I can’t believe I left it sitting on the shelf for so long because it was soooo good! As the name suggests, it is about the great fire of 1886 when the brand new City of Vancouver burned down. The city was so new that it had only had a grand total of one city council meeting (the city clerk made a big effort to save the minutes of that meeting from the flames!). They didn’t have a fire engine, and thus fire fighting techniques included filling buckets with water to dump on the flames and hitting flames with wet blankets. People jumped on boats, and when there were no more boats, they grabbed onto anything that could float, and went out into the water between Vancouver and Moodyville (part of what is today known as North Vancouver) to escape the flames. The descriptions in the book are really rich – you can picture what the city would have looked like and can almost feel the panic that the citizens felt as the fire got worse and worse. There are some funny stories – like a guy who tried to use a discarded briefcase he found to shield himself from the flames, only to learn that the briefcase was full of bullets (which someone had tried to take with them on their way to escape but ended up discarding along the way) when the bullets started exploding as the heat of the flames approached! The book also talks about how the city worked to recover after the fire – the picture on the front of the book is of a city council meeting, which was held outside a tent that had a hand written “City Hall” sign on it.

If you are at all interested in the history of Vancouver, I’d definitely recommend you check out this book.

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

This is a short book of writings by Christopher Hitchens – best known for his writing and speaking on atheism – about his experience of “living dyingly”, which he wrote after being diagnosed with terminal cancer (So, you know, a nice light summer read). He pointed out that technically everyone is living dyingly, but healthy people are doing it in slow motion compared to him at that point in his life. He also mentions a few times the “materialist proposition that I don’t have a body, I am a body”, which struck me as I’d recently had a discussion with a colleague who has taught a course on the “anthropology of the body” and had his students write essays on whether they believed they “had” a body or “were” a body. I’d not heard that phrase before, but it sort of captured my attention, so when I read Hitchens’ talking about it, that captured my attention too. At one point he said that despite believing that “I don’t have a body, I am a body”, he “consciously and regularly acted as if this was not true, or as if any exception would be made in my case.” (Hitchens was known for his heavy drinking and smoking). The other striking thing in this book was that when you get toward the end, there’s a section of “unfinished fragmentary jottings” (as his wife described them in the afterward); some of them were things you’d read fleshed out in an earlier section of the book, but some that were just ideas of his that he didn’t get a chance to flesh out before he died. It really gave you a sense of the finality – and that death waits for no one. I guess all of us will leave many things unfinished when we go.

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris.

I read this book after Cath told me she was reading Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, also by Dan Harris. Cath knows that I’m interested in mindfulness and also that I’m a skeptic, and she said that she was finding MfFS really good. So I decided to first read Harris’ earlier book, 10% Happier, which chronicles his experience of being stressed out after being a war correspondent, to the point of having a panic attack while he was reporting on live television, and then his search for some way to deal with this anxiety, but without losing his drive to succeed. I enjoyed this book – it was interesting to read about his journey and it also got me motivated to make more of an effort to do some mindfulness practice.

Now I want to read Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book. I do most of my reading on transit on my way to and from work, but this book won’t really be appropriate for that, as it’s filled with mindfulness activities that you need to do as you read through the book. So it looks like I’ll need to carve out some time to actually do reading – and mindfulness practice – at home.

White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement–and How I Got Out by Christian Picciolini

I heard about this book when I heard the author, Christian Picciolini, being interviewed on a podcast. Picciolini is a former white supremacist who eventually left the movement and now works to try to help other people get out of extremist movements. The book wasn’t particularly well-written (I felt like it jumped from his present day perspective to his perspective at the time a bit erratically, making it a bit hard to follow in places), but it did provide an interesting perspective on how vulnerable young people can end up as extremists. In Picciolini’s case, he was the child of Italian immigrants to the US who spent a lot of time working and, he felt, did not pay attention to him. He didn’t have many friends and he felt picked on. And then the leader of a skinhead group recruited him to the white power movement and he learned that he could get respect by being violent when he fought a school bully and won. When the skinhead leader got sent to jail, Picciolini took over – he was only 14 years old at the time.  He talks about some of the horrible things he did as part of the movement. I kind of expected there would be a poignant moment where he saw the error of his ways, but it really just came down to him opening a record store to try to earn money to support his young family and he got to know some Jewish people and black people and gay people who all came into this store to buy stuff and learned that these were good people, not at all the stereotypes he had believed. He also talks about the fact that those stereotypes he believed in were really just things that he was told by other people in the white power movement, and even realizes that he, he constantly went on unemployment when the construction work he did in the summer time ended, fit the stereotype of “leaching off the system” more than any minority he’d ever met. In the end, this book supports a lot of what I’ve read about lately – people join hate movements when they feel lonely and disconnected, and someone comes along and invites them into a community – and gives them a scapegoat to blame all their perceived problems on.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is a classic that I somehow never read until now. I think a lot of people read it in high school, but it just never ended up on any of the reading lists in any of my high school English classes. I did read Nineteen Eighty Four, another George Orwell classic, back in high school, but not Animal Farm. It was a pretty quick read – it’s a short book and styled like a fairy tale1 and it was written as a satire of the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist regime. It seems an apt time in history to be reading this book, as part of that satire is about the “cult of personality” of Stalin (as represented by a pig named Napoleon) and about totalitarianism, which really resonates with a certain president who shall remain nameless. One of the things that reminded me of the current state of affairs was how the pigs would change their stories on things and the other animals on the farm would just believe it, assuming their memory must be mistaken. For example, there was a pig named Snowball who was a hero in the “Battle of the Cowshed”, during which the animals fought off some people who tried to take the farm back from the animals (who had taken it over from the original human farmer who owned it), but later Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm so that he can have all the power and then changes the story, first to say that Snowball hid during the battle, and later to say that Snowball fought alongside the humans against the animals. Despite the fact that the animals were there and remembered Snowball being a hero who drove the humans away, they decide “I guess I must have misremembered that.” Similarly, there are a bunch of commandments painted on the side of the barn, but as the pigs decide to make their own lives more comfortable, they break those commandments and when the rest of the animals say “Hey, didn’t we have a commandment that say not to do that thing the pigs are doing?”, they would see that additional words had been added to the commandments (e.g., “No animal shall consume alcohol” was changed to “No animal shall consume alcohol to excess” and “No animal shall sleep in a bed” was changed to say “No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.”) and say “Oh, I guess I forgot about that last part of the commandment”. It’s really reminiscent of how a certain president who shall remain nameless will completely contradict himself on what feels like a daily basis and, despite videotaped evidence of him having said the opposite thing, his followers will just shrug it off. The lives of the animals (other than pigs) weren’t better off in this new world – they didn’t get much to eat, they worked harder than ever, they didn’t get to retire when they got old, and the pigs would kill animals that displeased them in some way. So, all in all, this was a rather depressing book to read – especially given that the ending is just that the pigs are walking around on hind legs (which was against one of the original commandments) and hanging out with people while the rest of the animals suffer.

The Eyre Affair and Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Cath gave me these two books to read and now I’m totally hooked on this series, which revolves around a woman named Thursday Next, who is a literary detective. It’s set in an alternative world version of Britain where all sorts of crazy things happen, and it’s sort of similar in style to the work of Douglas Adams (which almost seems blasphemous to say!). I don’t want to say too much and spoil these for anyone who wants to read these series, which you totally should if you like that style of British humour, but I will say that they involve time travel, the ability to actually enter books, an over-the-top villain, and some very punny character names. They also require you to have a working knowledge of some of the classic which, like Animal Farm as I mention above, I haven’t necessarily read. I’ve never read Jane Eyre, in fact, so I had to go read the Wikipedia entry on it to be able to understand some of the things that happened in The Eyre Affair. Similarly, I haven’t read Great Expectations and since the character of Miss Havisham features in Lost in a Good Book, I had to read the Wikipedia entry on her too! I’ve already got the rest of the books in the series, but I’m trying to savour them, so I decided to read another book in between finishing Lost in a Good Book and the next one in the series.

So, there you have it. I’ve now completed 78% of my goal of reading 18 books this year, and we are 71% of the way through the year. I’m also almost halfway through the next book that I’m reading (Brain Rules for Aging Well), plus I’ve read the better part of several textbooks for the course I’m teaching this semester, so I’m reasonably confident that I can achieve my reading goal this year!

  1. The original title had “A Fairy Story” as a subtitle, but that was dropped. []