Monday, January 23, 2006

and then

ok, so work has greatly impeded my progress... if i have to actually do work i'm not sure when i'll manage to read anything

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Too much Plato

I liked The Apology and got through Crito without an issue but I'm having real problems with Phædo. It's long and the question-answer style has become exceedingly tedious. I'm only a third of the way through it, but I have to say that I have no interest in any of it... it ALMOST makes Woolman's Journal look well-written.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Apology of Socrates

Although life is infinitely preferable, I can respect his opinion to die for his beliefs. This is the first Plato that I have ever read, but apparently there are two more books by him in the HC.


I think he probably should have refrained from commenting on Government or Religion. I still don't know the specific sections that would annoy an Anglican in the late 1600's but I'm sure there is something there.

Some Fruits of Solitude - Part 1

Well I'm halfway through William Penn's Some Fruits of Solitude and I have a couple of thoughts:

1. Decent content but it is essentially just one long list. I really do enjoy the writing style and spending some time thinking about whether I agree with the content and how I can apply them to improve my life.

2. I can't understand why this was published anonymously. According to the preface he feared the retribution from the Anglican church, but I haven't seen anything that I would categorize as overly confrontational. Then again things have changed a great deal since this was published.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

and can you believe

that he wrote all of this by hand?????!!!!!

I take it back

In my earlier post I said that biographies depress me because they make me feel inadequate. After starting the second book in the series I would like to change it to "some biographies make me want to go on a murderous rampage."

John Woolman's Journal might be the dullest book ever written. You have to sift through page after page of drivel where he cranks out the most excruciating mundane details of his daily life in order to get to anything interesting. It almost seems like every chapter (each of which details a few years in his life) follows the pattern detailed below:

- I woke up.
- I ate.
- I felt sad.
- I praised God.
- I went somewhere.
- I ate.
- I told the people of somewhere what they needed to do to praise God.
- We praised God together.
- I went to bed happy.

I feel like Bill the Cat with a hairball.

The good news is that if you can get through the fluff there is the occasional well turned paragraph where he actually writes down and explains the logic behind his beliefs of liberty and freedom for the slaves. That almost makes up for the rest of the book (although I'm only halfway done).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Issue with Biographies

The problem I have with biographies is that they depress me. I’m sure that they are meant to be inspirational, but when I compare my own life (which I am generally satisfied with) to the subject of the biography I inevitably come up short.

Naturally the HC begins with Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. Please allow me to give you some of the highlights so that you can benchmark yourself:

- 22 years old ... founds his own printing company
- 23 years old ... becomes the owner of the newspaper
- 25 years old ... founds the Philadelphia library

And the list gets progressively more impressive.

And what have you accomplished today?

At any rate is an entertaining and very readable collection of letters.

Monday, December 19, 2005

An Idea

Maybe I have been living in a bubble, but I recently ran across the story of Julie Powell who sat out to cook every recipe in Julia Childs' "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in a year from the confines of her NYC apartment...And of course she blogged about it as she progressed. In the end she published her blog as a book (and gained a ton of weight).

I think that I'm going to try something similar, that will hopefully be less detrimental to my waistline. Over the course of the next year I'm going to read the entire set of the Harvard Classics (apologies for the pop ups) from cover to cover and write about them.

What are the Harvard Classics?

Charles Elliot was the President of Harvard College in the late 19th and early 20th century. The story goes that he publicly declared that "a five-foot shelf would hold books enough to give in the course of years a good substitute for a liberal education in youth to anyone who would read them with devotion." Later the publisher P. F. Collier & Son challenged him to create this listing and the 50 volume Harvard Classics were born. They were the followed with a Shelf of Fiction that added another 20 Volumes.

Why would anyone want to do this?

After high school I pursued an undergraduate degree in engineering and then followed it up with a masters degree in information systems and a career in IT. I used to read voraciously but it has been a long time since I have tackled anything more challenging than an article in Field and Stream. Hopefully reading these selections and writing about them will help me recapture something that I once enjoyed and add the "liberal education" that I ignored in school.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Walrus

So I showed this site to my wife and she applauded the idea but was puzzled by my choice of "The Walrus" as my "handle" (and yes, it amuses me to think about blogging in the same way my parents would have thought about using a CB ... Think CW McCall singing "Convoy" which is, by the way, a great and underrated movie).

The name comes from the poem in the first post, because I have always remembered Alice's comment after Tweedledee recited the poem as she stated, 'I like the Walrus best, because you see he was a LITTLE sorry for the poor oysters.'

I would like to think that I am more like the Walrus than the Carpenter, because I still would have eaten the oysters, but I might have regretted it a little... Of course I also would have used horseradish and skipped the bread and butter.

Something amusing

So the built-in spellcheck has a little "feature" (pls note that anyone that has ever been involved in application development likes to refer to bugs that make it into production as features)... It doesn't recognize the word "blog" or any of its derivatives... Kind of silly don't you think?

And on the 8th day...

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

(Lewis Carroll, "The Walrus and the Carpenter", from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

And my entry into the world of blogging begins a week before Christmas 2005.

I don't know if anyone from Gartner has gone to the trouble yet, but I would characterize blogging as being in the "Slope of Enlightenment" phase of the Hype Cycle. At any rate I'm sure that I'm not one of the early joiners since so many of my "real life" friends and associates use their blogs to rant and rave on any number of subjects. My original intention will be to use this site as a creative outlet to get my thoughts out in front of others since I find myself squatting in my cubicle during my "working hours" doing relatively interesting but not always stimulating things. I'm sure that there will be any number of rants, but I'll do my best to make them amusing. At the very least I'm sure that I will amuse myself... and I already have a few ideas that should provide some level of entertainment.