According to new studies (and fairly self-evident) happiness is influenced by the people around you. If you spend a lot of time with unhappy, complaining people, you too will become unhappy and complaining. If you are surrounded by happy people, this too will leak in. A positive attitude towards life can make a difference. I do not believe that it is the ultimate cure all, but it can help. SO in that vein of thought, I am trying to think of things that have made me happy/thankful this week.
Firstly, I am so happy that I live in the time and place I do. I have freedom to follow my interests, to work in just about any career, and to choose my reproductive and sexual paths. This is something that has not been available for everyone through history, and is still not available for many. I don’t think we appreciate this freedom as much as we should. We complain about the burdens it places, the endless choices and the cost of those freedoms, but at the end of the day, I would rather have those choices, even if they make me a little less happy and content with my life.
Yes, our society has problems, big and small. We are not on an ecologically stable path, and not everyone receives the ame opportunities. But compared with other civilisations and societies, we are still so lucky. I may not pay attention to this freedom every day, I am too tired out by the work and the constant balancing of the schedule, but I do occasionally realise how much freedom I have compared to someone 100 years ago who did not have that choice, who could only stay home and be responsible for the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and who was not considered to be intelligent enough to vote, or own property in their own right or to open a bank account without help from a male relative.
So, thank you to all of those who fought and argued and worked to make this world a place where we do have those freedoms, and we do have those choices.
Back when I lived in Japan, I would amuse myself before going to work by sending random postcards to friends and family. In part this was driven by the amazing variety of postcards on offer at the local stationery store, changing with the seasons, and in part by the relative cheapness of postage. Boredom probably played a part, as did the fun of receiving real mail.
I have collected postcards since I was little, and have amassed a rather large collection of cards from museums, tourist spots and random free postcard things. Too many infact. I have realised that I am never going to frame them and hang them on the walls, and they sit in boxes, taking up space. from this, the postcard project was born.
The first box of cards is being scanned. These will be posted on my photo bucket account: http://s783.photobucket.com/albums/yy117/persnicketychickadee/postcards/
Send me your address and I will post a random postcard out to you. Random is the operative word, I will post the one that takes my fancy at the moment. I will include the name of the person I send it to on the notes for the card on photobucket.
It would be nice to receive postcards in return.
I had a cold the other day, so was home from work, and had the chance to do some light reading.
Miracle and other Christmas stories by Connie Willis
I have owned this one for a while, and have dipped in and out- a selection of Christmas stories, most with happyish endings. Amusing, and she definitely prefers miracle on 34th street to It’s a wonderful life. Some good stories about the original Christmas story, and some thoughts on the meanings. Sometimes what you think you want is not what you want.
Remake by Connie Willis
More of a novella than a novel, but an interesting story on where movies are going (studios own the copyrights of old movie stars and endlessly remake movies using computerised images of those stars, rather than real people). Also a story about addiction and obsession and dreams. Interesting, I understand it better this reading than I did a few years ago.
The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones
Another favorite author- I have been dipping in and out of this book for a while, but this time I found the esrliest folded page and read to the end. Another in the Chrestomanci series, looking at the villages around the castle and the hidden magics there. She is always an enjoyable author, and this was a fun read. Another variation on the what you think you want is not what you want theme though.
The guilty pleasures section
I tend to read trashy romances when I am bored- it is my trashy reading habit- I don’t generally buy trashy gossip magazines, this is my variation. I usually don’t hold on to the books, but will read and move on. I have developed some pretty strong guidelines- certain authors are good, others are awful and certain types of stroies are not worth it.
More than a mistress by Mary Balogh
Regency era romance – and there are quite a few for this era. I have read this author before and she is not bad, although I occassionally feel like I am reading a variation on a classic- this time it was a very simplified Jane Eyre. A young woman interupts a duel, and as a consequence the hero is shot in the leg. She ends up as his nurse for three weeks while he recovers. At the same time there is a scandal soing the rounds of a young lady who has apparently killed a man and robbed his family. needless to say it is the same young lady. All is resolved in the end, but the use of the name Jane and the creation of a teasing relationship and the master and highly placed servant brings on Jane Eyre moments.
I didn’t read all of theese end to end on the one day, I was mostly finishing off books that had been started before. It is interesting how certain books can start a chain of related books though- because of the Miracle book, I went and found Remake.
Of late I have been reading several regency romances by Stephanie Laurens- the Cynster series and the Bastion Club. While both of these series are enjoyable, and have a balance between the romance side and the mystery that drives the story, I am starting to have issues with the historical accuracy.
I like history, but I would not have called myself an expert on early nineteenth century Britain. Unfortunately, neither is the author. There a few areas where I doubt whether the details are accurate, and there are some where I know the details are inaccurate. For example, in one book, set in the early 1830s, the main characters pay a visit to Harrods. Thankfully it is not described in much detail, but it is still interesting that they manage to visit a store that will not open for another few decades.
Once these details are spotted, they start to niggle and the whole construct of the story is shaken by distrust of these details. Was horse racing really like that in the 1820’s? other sources indicate not. Was Vauxhall Gardens still a popular high society entertainment in the mid 1820’s- sadly probably not. A lot of the areas are ideas about the regency (references to Prinny), ideas about London (that have no idea of the geography) and ideas about England that are more myth than reality.
The books are still readable, I just don’t use them as any type of reference material.
While at the library I ran across the Andrew Morton biography of Tom Cruise, and decided to read it. While not a massive fan, but not a naysayer, I thought it would be interesting to read. It was not viewed with favour when I brought it home, and when my mom visited a few days later she was oddly fascinated. Mr Morton does a good job of busting a few of the myths of TC’s childhood, and showing his rapid rise to fame. I really hadn’t realised how young he was when he go his first breaks. He really didn’t have any time at all wen he was a starving actor.
The story gets a little boring when it starts to go into the various romances- primarily because he seems to conduct them in a very odd way.
The Scientology bits are odd, to say the least. They really went after him to join and have put a lot of effort into catering to his wishes.
Given the level of control that TC generally has, and the aggressive methods used it is very interesting to find a book that outlines so many details of his life. That said he does break a few of the more persistent myths down (TC is gay and the ‘tom wanted to be a monk’).
Not my usual reading material, but a nice break.
The americanisation of australian english (or english english or NZ etc etc etc). Every so often some newspaper or tv show gets on their high horse about the amount of american tv/movie/ radio content. The latest issue is the request to allow parallel importation of books into Australia. Quite honestly, I see no problem with this- cheap books! yay! but people have protested because shock horror we might get books that use americanisms and that just can’t happen. So the complaining about how we are being invaded by american pronunciations and slang and losing the australian phrases.
Firstly- Australia has plenty of interesting slang phrases and words- more than enough to withstand the paler american versions. People use “rapt”in every day conversation- how good is that?
Secondly- the stuff that people are complaining about it isn’t a US accent but a southern california one. The rest of the country uses different words, phrases and expressions
Thirdly- languages change, evolve and move on. this is normal. Trying to freeze a language in time is so very French (and isn’t all that successful)
Anyway, as a token american in australia, it is frustrating to hear about how terrible my accent and expressions are- as if it is all my fault.