Amazing Grace

November 2, 2010

I just finished watching Amazing Grace while working on my paper. Every time I watch this movie, I remember why it’s my favorite movie. It’s incredibly inspirational and shows you what one person can achieve if he remains dedicated to strong principles and surrounds himself with like-minded, supportive people.

To anyone who wants to know more about William Wilberforce, I strongly recommend reading his biography written by William Hague. The book covers Wilberforce’s life, not just the abolition of the slave trade, and is worth reading.

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You Know You’re A Nerd When . . .

August 23, 2010

. . . you are handed the course syllabus and, instead of freaking out over all you are expected to accomplish by the end, you get excited about the prospect of never-ending reading assignments and writing papers.

. . . you come home from said class and are so inspired to learn that you look up the reading lists of your favorite undergrad professors so you can add those books to your to-read list as well.

Yes, I did both of those things tonight. In the second case, I will obviously not get to those books for a while. However, my undergrad profs consistently picked great books. I am glad the bookstore went online a couple of years ago so I can now stalk their course lists as an alum.

Maybe after I receive the syllabi for my other two classes I will be in a more despondent mood. However, so far, nothing I can’t handle. I fear this makes me sound too cocky. It’s not that I think it will be a piece of cake. On the contrary, I know there will be challenges. It’s just that my experience in the past has taught me that I can rise to them. Surviving a 30 page research paper as a college sophomore tends to do that.


It’s Friday!

August 20, 2010

Don’t you just love the weekend?

I think I’ve already covered my major goals for this weekend in previous posts. I’m just hoping I stick to them.

My mattress is getting delivered tomorrow morning. I am so, so excited to sleep on a real bed again. I figured out a way to make the sofa a little more comfortable, but 5 nights on that would be a bit much for anyone.

Today was a fairly short day at work. I got trained in using the online scheduler and then I typed up and turned in my work plan. I also found out some more activities I will get to work on throughout the semester in addition to the ones I already knew about. I’m a little nervous about actually starting this job–after all, it does consist of a lot of things I have never done before at all. But for exactly that same reason I am very excited about it. The things that I will be doing are experiences that I want to have and skills I want to develop. I feel they will make me more well-rounded and complement quite well the skills I have already garnered through past jobs. It will be a learning process for sure, but I think I am up to the challenge.

I would like to put some pictures up in my office, but unfortunately I left all of my prints back at home. I knew I didn’t want them in my apartment and I didn’t even think about bringing them for my office. Labor Day is soon though so I will try to remember to pick them up then.

Today six of my school books arrived from Amazon. Originally I purchased my books from the campus bookstore because I thought I had checked and determined the prices were not that different from ordering online. However, once I looked more closely, I realized I could save myself a ton of money ordering through Amazon.

Also today, my headboard arrived from sears.com. I was going to put it together tonight, but, sadly, one of the pieces is cracked. I already ordered a replacement part though so hopefully it won’t take too long to come.

Tonight for dinner I made myself a grilled veggie sandwich with hummus. It was delicious. If I get my act together tomorrow I may make homemade pizza crust. I have never made it before so wish me luck.


Book Review: We Two by Gillian Gill

April 26, 2010

After a month of reading this book off and on I finally finished yesterday morning! I really enjoyed it, but it took me so long because it is a very dense history book and those always take me a while to get through no matter how interesting I find them.

We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals tells the story of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. The Victorian era is one of my absolute favorite periods of history and one I’ve studied several times, including while I was at Oxford. I enjoyed the perspective of this book, however, because it specifically focuses on the relationship between Victoria and Albert. The reader learns how their partnership began, how it was perceived at the time, the effect it had on others, the effect others had on it, and so on. One thing I found particularly interesting was that while Victoria and Albert clearly loved each other, they were in many ways rivals as well.

Like I said, this is a fairly dense read that will take you a while to get through, but it is a must-read for anyone with an interest in nineteenth-century history in general or Victorian history in particular.


I Got New Books!

April 8, 2010

For Christmas I received a couple of gift cards to Barnes & Noble and I knew exactly for what to use them. Almost immediately I pre-ordered A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters and The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear.

The package arrived today, but of course this has to be the week I am super busy. I don’t know when I am going to get to read them. In some ways I am ok with that though because I know once I start I will probably finish each book in about a day.

Additionally, I have heard rumors that A River in the Sky may be the last Amelia Peabody book so the longer I can drag out the suspense, the better, I suppose. I don’t know if there has been an official announcement that it is the last book (I haven’t seen one) or if that is just speculation since Elizabeth Peters is getting up there in age.

The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters have been described as a cross between Miss Marple and Indiana Jones. If you love adventure, mystery, suspense, humor, and romance, definitely check out this series. The series takes place in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and is mostly set in Egypt. Not only are the books a whole lot of fun, but you will probably learn a little bit about Egyptian history and archeology as well, since Elizabeth Peters holds a doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Chicago.

Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is set in Britain during the inter-war years, probably my second favorite time period (the setting for Amelia Peabody being my absolute favorite). I find Winspear’s writing to be more literary than a lot of the mystery series I read, but her plots are still very good as well. I love the darker tone of this series and can’t wait to see what Maisie is up to now.


Book Review: Churchill by Paul Johnson

March 30, 2010

Churchill by Paul Johnson is a short and quick read about the life of Winston Churchill. Less than 200 pages long, it obviously does not go into as much detail as the other more extensive biographies of Churchill do. It does, however, provide a nice overview of Churchill’s life. It reads at a very fast pace; I finished it in less than a day.

I enjoyed reading this book because it provided a nice refresher to some of the things I studied last year. I particularly enjoyed some of the quotes sprinkled throughout the book as they brought back fond memories of my history classes.

If, like me, you have a solid background in history, I doubt this book will present you with anything new. However, for anyone less familiar with the complete course of Churchill’s life, this book is probably a good one in which to get your feet wet.


Book Review: The Man Who Made Vermeers by Jonathan Lopez

March 26, 2010

The Man Who Made Vermeers tells the story of Han van Meegeren, the Dutch master forger. Author Jonathan Lopez tells the true story of van Meegeren’s career–a story that was suppressed and ignored for decades.

The van Meegeren legend stated that he turned to forgery because of disappointing feedback from art critics on his original work and that he then subsequently fooled the Nazis by selling one of his fake Vermeers to Hermann Goering. Both of these aspects of the legend caused van Meegeren to be cheered in post-WWII Holland, but especially the latter, for obvious reasons. However, the truth is much more sordid. Lopez reveals that van Meegeren was, in fact, a collaborationist, and his legend was a story concocted by both himself and the man who exposed him.

This book is a must-read for anyone with a fascination for art history. In addition to his crimes of being a Nazi sympathizer and master forger, van Meegeren attempted to rewrite history by inventing an entirely new period of work for Vermeer. With extensive endnotes and a select bibliography, it is evident that the author did his homework. Don’t let that put you off though! This book is anything but dry.