Learning and Exploring

  • Learning and Exploring

    What I Read the Last 7 Months of 2022


    My Man Jeeves; Carry On, Jeeves; Thank You, Jeeves; Right Ho, Jeeves; The Mating Season; Ring for Jeeves; Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit. Y’all know I think these are great.

    New to Me Fiction

    Anna Karenina. I was pleased with myself for reading this. I actually semi-enjoyed it. I was fed up with Levin’s philosophizing by the end. Those last 20 plus pages about killed me. I definitely prefer Tolstoy to Dostoevsky. I clearly didn’t get to War and Peace, but I’m hoping to this year.

    Remembering and A World Lost Wendell Berry. I’m trying to read all Berry’s work. These weren’t my favs.

    Quartet in Autumn, Excellent Women, Crampton Hodnet, No Fond Return of Love, Jane and Prudence, Civil to Strangers: And Other Writings by Barbara Pym. I searched “autumn” in the Libby app and that got my started on my Barbara Pym

    The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. Cute but rather to sad for me.

    The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti. Interesting but depressing.

    This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki. Eh.


    The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero. Absolutely fascinating, highly recommend. In following this unique man’s history, you get some Irish history, a tiny bit of Australian history, and some U.S. history.

    This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences by Sarah E. Hill. Here is my Goodreads review:

    “I liked the information presented in chapters 1-8. I think all women (and men) could stand to learn how hormones affect our bodies and lives. However, like other commenters, her stance is way too deterministic and limited. We aren’t just our hormones. We aren’t just our bodies to me. Read it to better inform yourself with a grain of salt since 1) This hasn’t been studied enough and 2) She’s not in the medical field (which I somehow missed while reading) and while to dismiss her for that reason is a fallacy, she doesn’t have practical working knowledge of these fields, she’s working from studies which I don’t think is a strong position to have adequate knowledge to understand the studies and interpret their data well. However, since we are limited in our books on women’s health and anatomy and physiology from the medical [perspective], I still recommend the book for these chapters until we can get better options.

    A few other notes. She seemed to rather idolize the pill which caused her to omit pertinent information such as the usage of birth control types and percentages, data which does exist. This leads to her to make grand generalizations and assumptions which get worse in the later chapters. These chapters I just skipped, she started in on a political, personal opinion/paradigm schtick riddled with fallacies and jumping to conclusions and ignoring sociological/demographical data.”

    A few notes now. I was leery of the pill from what I’ve heard of other women’s stories combined with my mental health during puberty. I still almost started it, I got a prescription and then never took it even though I had a slight sense of being histrionic. Turns out, no, I wasn’t since I took supplemental melatonin (a hormone!) which triggered a mental health episode, so just be very careful if you’ve had any history of hormonal caused mental health issues, if you are going to use the pill make sure you have everything set up with your doctor and a psychiatrist in case it doesn’t go well.

    Also, I’m quite a bit fed up with people and pop culture throwing around inaccurate information. These stats are important:

    Usage of the major forms of birth control (14% is the pill)

    Effectiveness of birth control methods (medical source!)

    Aerobics Program For Total Well-Being: Exercise, Diet, And Emotional Balance by Kenneth H. Cooper. This is a very old book, so the full fatal dangers of smoking are missing. It’s also written for men, so I’m not sure what the points would be for women. If you fill that in mentally, or ignore the smoking parts it is great!!! I read this shortly after a sobering doctor’s visit in June. I also started running and working on my diet. Several things went into this, mainly the doctor’s visit, but I’m sure the book helped a little. I think I want my own copy.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Be Kind

    I’ve noticed a spate of garish “Be Kind” yard signs in my general vicinity. I think them hideous and obnoxious (of course I do).

    I absolutely loathe slogans, bumper stickers, political signage, anything of that sort (aren’t you supposed to at least some of the time, I mean it really seems like a lot of the time that is their sole purpose, to be obnoxious?!). I’ve tried to make allowance for my “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary” personality and the fact that other people may not have such a knee jerk rebellious reaction as I, yet even still I don’t see how such things are compelling to more amenable people. The sentiment expressed could even be something I technically agree with, but I don’t feel agreement because I see the display which I oppose as part of the sentiment expressed.

    With the “Be Kind” signs, do they know that commanding other people to be kind isn’t genuine kindness? Are they aware of the irony? I certainly see those signs and immediately assume that those people are the “nice” (that false veneer of politeness that I find infuriating) self-righteous type. But maybe there are a few that are clueless . . . maybe.

    And then I wondered, why do I have such a deep antipathy for those silly signs and the people behind them, yet I love, love the maxim Cinderella’s mother gave her in Cinderella 2012: “Have courage and be kind”?

    Relationship, circumstances, and phraseology makes such a difference! Cinderella’s mother is giving encouragement (and does this first!) and instruction in a private setting to her daughter with whom she has a loving relationship.

    Commanding random strangers how to behave is just about the opposite of this. It is the pocket version of sidewalk sermons. I don’t tend toward genuine kindness (if I can manage civility I’m doing excellent), and these signs (like Aunt March) inspire me to do the exact opposite. Thus ends my diatribe against trifling paper signage.

    (Also, after I wrote this, I was listening to this Earbiscuit podcast and Rhett starts talking about almost the exact “be kind” and command stuff during their “inspirational quote” rabbit trail (about 18 minute mark). Validation, yes, thank you! Also, don’t get me starting on that “inspirational” or “fyi” internet post trash).

  • Learning and Exploring

    Is It “Mom” or “Mum” for Canada?

    So, I reread Magic for Marigold and then read The Coming Storm (set in P.E.I. in the mid 20th century) by a modern Canadian author. The former book used “mum” (L.M. Montgomery characters usually use “mother,” otherwise they use “mum”). The latter book used “mom.” I feel like I’ve only heard Canadians Youtubers* say “mom.”


    I was wondering when the switch occurred, but maybe there wasn’t one? Here is an article (I couldn’t find any more linguistic site) mentioning the usage of “mum,” “mom,”** and “mam.”


    In my searches, I discovered also apparently some places of England use “mom”?!


    I knew about “mam,”*** for Ireland, but I thought maybe it was an older form or regional (I noticed that Hoil, Arms, and Hog use “mum” in their sketches). I know JK Rowling had Seamus using “mam” in Harry Potter, but she started writing in the 90’s.




    *And all the Hallmark (a Canadian company) movies which while filled with Canadian actors and filmed in Canada are typically set in the U.S. The only other Canadian I know for certain I’ve met IRL was a professor (with the most stereotypically Canadian accent ever: “sore-y” and “to-moor-row”. . . which is that regional?) who I don’t think had any occasion during any lecture to use either “mum” or “mom.”

    **Also, “mom” looks logically like it comes from “mother,” but no one pronounces the “o” in “mother” like we do in “mom” (“mahm”). We say “muhther” not “mahther.”

    ***When we went to Holland, Michigan, with the host family’s Michigan accent we heard “mom” that leaned toward “mam.” And “downtown” was more like “donton.”

  • Learning and Exploring

    20 Things I Wish I’d Known Before or During College

    1. Take those CLEP, take them again if you have to, you could have saved yourself so much time and been able to take the more interesting advanced history classes you missed out on
    2. Watch your attitude and try to at least curb it
    3. Try to balance out your class participation, between total silence in a few classes and answering and opining too much another you annoy the professor
    4. Have more than one advisor
    5. Take the classes you want when you see them, they won’t come around again
    6. Forgive the professor you are angry with and greet him and any other you are regularly forced to pass on that narrow stair in the history building by looking them in the eye, instead of hanging your head down when they pass
    7. Drop classes more, sooner, look out for warning signs
    8. Don’t people watch, don’t express annoyance (or any emotion), there are some twisted people out there who will make anything ugly and everything uglier
    9. Break down term papers into small papers, literally trick yourself
    10. Learn to use Word better, for example, um hello, the references tab
    11. Therapy (I wish I’d known about and gone, surely there was somewhere on campus, but I think had I known I’d resisted, people are much more attune now)
    12. Career counseling
    13. Think ahead, plan ahead
    14. Work more
    15. Volunteer to get some career ideas, some experience
    16. Save money, just even a tiny bit at a time, get multiple accounts to make it harder to spend everything
    17. Realize my spending/emotional connection
    18. Minor in business so I could at least test business and realize I didn’t like it, but at least have a job option while I look for something I love
    19. Focus on learning history, humanities, genealogy more in my free time, develop my skills
  • Learning and Exploring

    Migration by Countries

    I found this cool interactive map (I’m pretty certain this is the same) a few years ago. I don’t always bookmark things and sometimes I bookmark and then purge indiscriminately because I’ve kept too many overly specific or no longer applicable things and so lose some good things. I was starting to be afraid I couldn’t find it again.

    This map lets you change incoming (emigration) or outgoing (immigration) which distinction I think I was researching and caused me to find the map in the first place as well as the country. These are totals for 1990 – 2017. I think you could probably pull recent years from Pew and/or the UN although I wish they’d update this actual map because it’s cool.

    So for example, the top destination for people leaving the UK is Australia, I think I may have heard that it was popular but it’s a HUGE number and quite a big distance between that and the next destination which is the U.S. with Canada in a much closer 3rd.

    And then you can switch to incoming to see those countries, which for the UK were Poland, India, and Pakistan. With the history, the later two aren’t surprising, I guess Poland is just, eh, not surprised but not unsurprised.

    The U.S. incoming is Mexico by the largest percentage I’ve seen which makes sense, next is China and India, I would have thought it would have been other Central and some South American countries, but maybe that is more recent or maybe it would be a top destination (I checked a few, it was top or 2nd for some) for them rather than from because China and India are the world’s largest populations and these countries aren’t.

    From a 2016 article, the US/Mexico is the world’s largest migration corridor. The U.S. outgoing is Mexico (I wonder if some of those leaving are some of those who previously came because per the article net overall was negative, but I don’t know what the details are for the different maps), Canada, and UK. Not surprising.

    The 2nd migration corridor, at least at the time of the article was UAE and India. I’d never heard of that, just thought tons of uber rich people went there, but they aren’t a huge percentage of the world’s population. And yes, this map shows India as top incoming for UAE and top outgoing for India (that doesn’t necessarily always match).

    Another I found interesting was Germany, their top was US., Switzerland, Turkey (that surprised me but I guess historically it shouldn’t), UK, and Austria (I guess I would have thought that would be higher).

    I looked at Spain and Portugal (Spain I think was 2nd for Venezuela) which don’t seem to have as strong as an Old/New world connection.

    You could spend HOURS on here.

    And here’s another, the change from immigration to US from Germans and highest to Mexicans, there is a map that flashes the decades from 1850 to 2010 and then 2013. It moves a little fast, but look at the different states each go round. Like the upper mid-West, the Scandinavians, the Northeast for Ireland (though they were top for more than there which surprised me) and Italy. You could spend a while on there too.

    This is one thing I find fascinating on Ancestry as well. When you get your DNA information you also get some information on more specific immigration to and then migration within U.S. as well.

    Also, when maps are used rather than just columns for data like this or just text in history books, I think that really helps with geography. We had a globe (outdated, still had USSR, but still), several atlases, a book of historical maps, maps in the back of the Bible for Biblical/ancient history, maps in all the history books. We were actually taught history and geography, although I think it was more human geography. I just feel like that is why my family seems to know more than the average American is purported to know, well that and interest . . .  and playing Where in the World excessively, hey whatever works. Oh, and we’re nerds.

    Familiarity helps as does connotations. If history isn’t taught or taught much then geography suffers as well. And thus ends my lecture.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Origins of Foods

    So, every time someone says eat produce locally and seasonally and such. I’m always think, “um, you know none of those foods are really native right?” And I think the seasonally part is based on domestication as well. I assume they mean to avoid shipping costs? That would make a difference.

    First of all:

    Grain or cereal is essentially grass seeds.

    Fruits. Soft parts of plants bearing their seeds. The actual definition is grosser, read at your own risk.

    Vegetables. Ok, I’d thought veggies were root, stem, stalk (I think that’s the more general specific term), but this also puts fruit, flowers, seeds, basically anything edible on the plant.

    Some Foods from the “Old Worlds:”

    Our little pollinator friends are from Europe the ones we have here I mean, I believe all North America had before was the bumble bee. And our, honey bees populations are shrinking. In our area, we’ve had pollinator zones put up, and I used to see bees all the time as a kid (We did live in an area better for plants and presumably therefore for bees) while we don’t have that many at my parents place, verified by the younger bunch who actually went outside at that house.

    Carrots I knew/thought came from Asia, apparently Eurasia in wild form, but cultivation started in Asia.

    From what I understand rice is originally and still mostly from Asia. I think that is familiar to most people.

    Wheat originated the the Fertile Crescent. Something that I think most people should be getting from history.

    Strawberries apparently have a wider range than anything I’ve looked up, the Northern hemisphere, but domesticated in Europe, really recently compared to everything else. I guess in books most people referred to wild strawberries. The wild strawberries we have here taste like nothing.

    Cherries also appear to have as broad a range.

    From the Americas:

    Blueberries are from North America, I was surprised, I thought most berries we ate came from Europe.

    Potatoes are from Peru and Bolivia.

    Tomatoes (a FRUIT) are similarly from the Andes region. Now, that I didn’t know already. I’d assumed Asia.

    Sweet potatoes are from tropical parts of the Americas. (proper yams are from Africa and Asia but we sometimes call sweet potatoes yams here, so I don’t know if I have had a real yam?)

    Corn (zea mays) is originally from Mexico. I know for a while wheat was originally called corn in England, hence “The Corn Laws.”


    This has been a lesson in “Well, Ackshully” history with Rachel.

  • Learning and Exploring

    The Friend-zone

    I’ve seen a lot of complaining about this. I think some guys try to call straight up disinterest with being friend-zoned and then girls pretend that this is the only thing that happens.

    When someone is clearly NOT interested in you, avoids you, has explicitly said they are not interested in you, you are rejected, not friend-zoned, sorry. Face it and move on.

    However, if person you are interested in you is using you as a pseudo-boyfriend/girlfriend or just in case significant other (aka, what Ann does with Justin in Parks and Rec), jealous when you date or are interested in someone else, selectively burns hot and cold as far as flirting goes, keeps other interested parties away from you, etc. also, not friend-zoned, that person has a narcissism and dehumanizing problem, and you need to run.

    I’d say friend-zoning to be where the couple manage to keep on the outside overall a respectful platonic friendship but where one person wants more from it and eventually probably won’t be able to manage the friendship part. The other party may not be truly interested because of personality, time of life, or unrealistic expectations or all of the above.

    I’d imagine there is a lot of variety, some blends or shading of all of the above. Let me give you my excruciating example. I was “little sister-zoned” by a guy who WAS flirting, but not seriously, just because I gave an obvious giggly response on cue always. It was a long time ago, he wasn’t a jerk, he wasn’t really leading me on or using me, I knew perfectly well he wouldn’t date me, my responses just gave him a little vanity boost. I just get second-hand from the past embarrassment thinking about my side of it.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Family Stories, Dating and Marriage in the late 1950’s: My Grandparents

    My grandmother met my grandfather on a blind date set up by a couple that were mutual friends. My grandmother was around 17, a high school senior and my grandfather around 20, I think he was working in a grocery at that point.

    I think the first date or at least an early date involved him coming to her house, so she wanted to make the meal. When it was time to eat cake, her dad tasted it and said, “Sis, this tastes like cornbread with salve.”

    The next morning her dad said, “Well, I guess that boy will be coming around again?” She said, “How do you know?” “He left half of his car in the driveway.”

    Papau apparently like to drive “fancy” cars and the bottom of his got stuck on their gravel driveway or something.

    Mamau graduated high school and got married in the same year. They wanted to buy a house rather than have a big wedding, so they had a civil wedding.

    They set the date then when they learned his dad was planning to take the fire trucks or something to do a shivaree down their street, they moved the date, lol.


  • Learning and Exploring

    More Family Stories

    We are closest with my mom’s mom’s family, that is why most of the stories are from them. Well, that and they are a close, loud, expressive, hilarious bunch and the older generation is as sharp as tacks still.

    One time my great-grandmother thought it would be funny to wake my grandfather up from a nap by setting his chest hair on fire with a cigarette, this was a JOKE, not a Hillbilly Elegy type story (there are so many parallels, except all mine are happy and all his are horrifying it was like a twisted mirror to read that sometimes, I was wondering where the difference started happening).

    My great-grandfather didn’t care to make too many pit stops going anywhere and on one road trip he was so focused on the destination when leaving one gas station that he left my great-grandmother behind. My grandmother said she was smoking coming out of her ears mad (or madder than a hornet type mad, I love this kind of expressiveness).

    So like I mentioned in my first post, there were a bit over 20 years span between the 5 siblings. My grandmother is about 10 years older than her youngest sister. I knew my great-grandmother had false teeth, I remember her dropping them up and done to fascinate my brother when we were little. I didn’t know or didn’t remember that she lost her teeth in her 30’s. They didn’t have the money to get her false teeth, so my youngest great aunt grew up knowing her mom without teeth.

    She said she remembers when her parents came home from getting the false teeth and how huge they looked in her mom’s mouth because her face muscles had collapsed over the years of not having and because she wasn’t used to seeing her mom with teeth.


  • Learning and Exploring

    Working on My Words

    I think I’d been sitting listening to office gossip last fall when I first thought about cutting out gossip for New Years. In listening to myself and my speech and the constant (often double-standard) reproofs I get from most of my family (doesn’t help, that ain’t the way) and in thinking over some of my posts and comments I decided I really needed to work on my speech.

    In addition, I’m feeling the need to nip the freedom of petty partisan political commentary of one of my coworkers to me. As far as the traditional “taboo” topics, there is a reason they are “taboo.” I just think it should hold as a public taboo but not be taboo in trusted situations because everything needs to be researched and discussed intellectually and in good faith. But more on that in another post.

    In terms of my gossiping, complaining, exaggerating, overreacting, etc. habits, I’ve been reproved my whole life and its implied I should “just stop.” That’s not really the way to convince someone especially if they can see the same issues in “respectable” form or other forms of “respectable” speech sins. Judgement doesn’t equal conviction. Also, there are always roots that are harder to dig out; there are more deeper issues than simple self-control, “self control” in this case is repressive/suppressive if I “just do it.”

    I do tend to be emotionally explosive, impulsive, exaggerative, anxious, insecure, defensive. These are connected for my verbal barrages and gossip. I’m hoping to do therapy and my life coaching and things of that sort this year which should help.

    I’m also (obviously) nosy, bored, and lazy minded. I mean if I can gossip and listen to gossip instead of making the more difficult effort of thinking harder or controlling my spinning thoughts or listening to inane conversations, that is what I do. This is connected to the above, I need to be more proactive, less reactive. My world is too narrow for me, and I live in my head and books and media and not the real world.

    I also need to work on the Serenity prayer. For a start, I wrote down a list of things I want to eliminate in my speech patterns. Clearly, the roots need to be dealt with, but I though if I could have reminders and could verbally express things (at least at work, not sure I want to give my family more fodder for disrespectfully shutting me down), that would be a good start as well. Just to kind of be more aware. I wrote the following list down on a card with the heading of “NO.”

    • Gossip
    • Politics and “news”
    • Complaining and “venting”
    • Cussing and interjections
    • Chattering and filler
    • Exaggerative and imprecise speech
    • Unverified or out of context facts
    • Excessive Covid-19 talk
    • Repetitive speech and idle chatter
    I think I need to work on more positive options, but I do talk too much, so I do need less speech. And if I start working on therapy, start living more and thinking deeper, I will have better things to focus on. I’m not sure about work. My coworkers aren’t really interested in that sort of thing, and some of that is more private, but I need to find ways to talk about positive things. Eventually though, I’d like to get in a more positive environment.
    I’d like to work on my speech, conversation, writing overall actively and the positives traits I’m look for are:

    I think for now, I’m going to try to work on cutting down the amount of talk, then building up the quality of it.

  • Learning and Exploring

    Family Tree Stories

    Like I mentioned in my other post I don’t think its possible to come from my state or certain of the surrounding states and have a bland family history. We just don’t do that here. And it goes further back.

    My grandparents love genealogy and went digging through archives over our state and maybe one or two others (that side of the family has mostly been in this state since Europe). They have tons of old photos and documents. Papau has scanned some of them, but they still have tons to go.

    We have a ration card from my great, great uncle from WWII period with some of the tickets still in it.

    We have photos of my great grandfather who was stationed in India during WWII. He’s holding a monkey in one of them.

    We have a Swiss identity document from my great-great-great grandfather, my Papau’s great grandfather (his great-grandparents and his great grandmother’s brother’s family came from Switzerland).

    Someone died from being kicked in the head by a cow.

    Someone died from skinning a rabid rabbit.

    Someone killed a man in a bar brawl.

    My state is a byword for cousin marriages and low out of state movement, and yes, my great-great grandparents were first cousins. I’m almost absolutely positive going by last names and the counties involved that one of my crushes was a distant cousin (!!!).

    Also, you know how Laura Ingall Wilder’s mom’s family married multiple times into her Dad’s family (2 sisters and a brother married 2 brothers and a sister)? Well, one of my great-grandmother’s older sisters (the one responsible for stealing my great-great grandmothers handsewn quilts one of which my grandmother was supposed to get) married my great-grandfather’s older brother. Then my great-parents married. Later, my great-grandfather’s sister remarried and married my great-mother’s brother.

    Also, I feel like I’m related to half of the state if not America. Apparently it is possible to get a DNA test and not have thousands of cousins 4th cousins and closer like I have.

    Which leads me to, my grandmother’s family was, uh, prolific. She was one of 5, which was small for her side. My grandfather had more sets of two kids in his family before my mom and her sister and reasonable large family sizes of 8 kids. My grandmother had HUGE families in her family tree, 8 seemed typical. The largest?

    Her great-grandfather I think it was had 20+ children between 2 wives. Not at the same time (married cousins in our family yes, bigamy no, at least wait, I feel like there may have been a bigamy story or claim somewhere). No, in this case the first wife must have got worn out with 12 or so kids and then the next wife produced around 8. 19 were listed as still living in the the newspaper clipping of his death. I think 20 lived to adulthood, and there were around 2 that died as young children.

    That isn’t the only case of a large family from two wives, I think the other was more reasonable, you know, like 14 or something.


  • Learning and Exploring

    Family Stories

    Anyone from a rural state is probably going to have a hilarious catalog of stories from their grandparents and great-aunts and uncles plus fun nick names (Pickles, Wig). My maternal grandmother (Mamau)’s family was something else. I need to get a camera or ipad pro or something to take more recordings, phone isn’t good enough for long videos. I’ve got some, but I don’t always remember.

    Also, farm stuff, so be warned.

    My grandmother, her older brother, and her next younger sister were all born within 6 years of each. Then the 4th sister was born about 8 years later I think, and then the 2nd brother 10 years after that (so he’s a few years old than my mom and his kids are my and my siblings ages). So the oldest three had a different childhood.

    My grandmother grew up until I think around age 14 on their extended family farm, and she was a tom-boy and she and her brother (while their younger sister tried to tag along) got into multiple scrapes such as:

    Rowing the boat out into the pond even though they couldn’t swim (the tag along sister told the parents, so they were rescued, I’m not sure if the boat had a hole or what, but they were stuck).

    The pair of them set the tagalong aunt on a bicycle with no chain off down a heel and she chipped her front tooth and has dental problems to this day.

    The pair of them gathered and ate sassafras, so the tagalong aunt tried to copy them . . . except she ate poison ivy.

    My great-uncle shot my grandmother with his toy (and toys then weren’t some dinky plastic things) bow and arrow very near her eye because she was bugging him.

    The pair of them turned a wrestling match into a real fight and got a “whippin’.”

    My grandfather drove hours away to the big city to work in a factory before they eventually moved there so he was gone during the week (I’m not sure how long this period was), so one day they hid from the school bus and skipped school, so they could see him longer. They probably got a “whippin'” from that, I’m not sure all of the details of that, how they meant to spend time without getting in trouble.

    The pair of them found some strange rubbery eggs and bounced them around, next morning they discovered they were snake eggs (my grandmother hates snakes, she always say when she sees one she gets her hoe out to kill).