zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)
Moby Dick is my favorite American classic. I own two copies of it currently (one fancy pocket version and a big version for highlighting favorite quotes and writing in). I first read it for class in 11th grade and had the incredible privilege of being taught the book by a teacher who genuinely loved it.

<lj-cut text="More thoughts under the cut">

Most people I met who read the book hated it, or at best were indifferent to it. I had to survive reading a book draft where the author wrote about how Moby Dick is a huge waste of time because of false advertising - if you're naming the book after the whale, why do you only meet the whale in the last three chapters? I suppose the latter is a fair complaint if you picked up the book without having any expectations set for it. I was lucky to have Mr Vanderheiden tell us that Moby Dick is a book about everything - a discourse on philosophy, identity, history, religion and a person's place in the world, a description of the whaling industry at the time and the whaling towns that thrived off of it, action...basically everything. Melville wrote this book without fear, changing tone and structure or approach from one chapter to the next, before delivering a punch about...well everything really. We read through each chapter and were treated to a lively and enthusiastic discussion led by Mr Vanderheiden on the meaning of sentences, paragraphs and humankind - from beginning to end. He instilled in us a desire to at least properly read the book. Not everyone loved the book, but thanks to him, they at least were able to respect the book.

I don't reread Moby Dick as often as other books. My attempts usually fall off after the first few chapters before my time is taken up by something else (I'm pretty familiar now with Ishamael's wanderings around New Bedford and his friendship with Queequeg...and less with the voyage itself). Recently though, I discovered the Moby Dick Big Read Project, a podcast put together by Plymouth University in the UK. They call it America's great classic, which is also America's most unread classic, and the 'big read' is an attempt to reverse that. In some ways it's a shame that the book drew such an effort across the Atlantic rather than in its own home, but I'm glad that someone did it.

The Big Read is basically that - a different person reads each chapter of Moby Dick, famous and not. Chapter 1 is read by Tilda Swinton. It's fascinating to hear the book instead of read it, and to hear how different people interpret the words. It provides a hint of what the story means to more people than my lonely self. 

So far I haven't progressed past the chapters I am able to reread anyway hahaha. But it has been a long time since I've attempted a reread and I'm reminded why I like the book so much - Ishmael. Ishmael is so flighty and silly, yet real. Simultaneously a victim of his prejudices but also willing to overcome these with an open heart, he befriends Queequeg when, one can imagine, no one else in North America would. I remember thinking it was so odd that Queequeg became a dedicated friend so quickly, but now with a bit more life in me I suppose, Queequeg had no friends in these European and American whaling ports and Ishmael proved himself very special by putting in the effort to be his friend. Ishmael lives by his own rules, and determines the value of people and actions for himself, not simply by what religion or society dictates. We couldn't have Moby Dick without Ishmael and his wandering mind, freely hopping from thought to thought, from this fact or that. 

I think I love Moby Dick because I'm incredibly fond of Ishmael, and in his rambling and hopping thoughts, and thirst to see more of the world, I recognize a kindred spirit. I hope we have more Ishmaels in this world.

I hope to post more about it as I make progress with the 'big read' but since it's just the beginning, I had to simply express how much I love Ishmael (also I'm tired and I've run out of steam to type haha)
zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)
Crossposted from Tumblr, because it's fun and I would love a discussion, but I'm not a Tumblr celebrity :P

Tl:dr - I’m trying to write a sci-fi short story for the first time and I was looking for tips/thinking about what makes a) a story memorable and b) sci-fi as a genre memorable. Answer: Both define and question what being human means (even in the strangest or most extreme environments).

Do you agree? What are your thoughts?

The full post )
zaelle: (Nekotalia Iggycat)

I should be on day 14 but I decided to carry on and do day 12 instead )


Jul. 19th, 2015 01:28 pm
zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)
So I broke my streak by skipping Day 7. I'm hoping to hop right to Day 8 later today. My excuse is that I was pretty much asleep the whole day thanks to anti-histamines.

Yeah it's my eyes, basically I was avoiding anti-histamines for days thinking that I didn't need them. I was wrong.

Also the core workout on day 6 was a little too much for my abs. Day 7 called for another intense workout so I plan to make it up at the end of the challenge.

Fingers crossed!
zaelle: (Nekotalia Iggycat)
I've been thinking about it for a while but today I finally decided to take the plunge and try out the '30 Days of Yoga' challenge.

Basically, back when I was looking for an 'exercise at home' option, I found a youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene. I liked it because it was well explained, homey and Adriene always reminds you to go at your own pace. There are a lot of other fitness based channels which are very much "IF YOU'RE NOT DYING YOU'RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH!" ...which frankly, aren't conducive to healthy workouts. Adriene doesn't put you in that mood and she also tries to come up with videos based on specific health problems - if you have a bad back, if you're sick, etc. If she doesn't have a video, you comment to ask about how you can practice yoga despite having whichever ailment you have, and she answers.

So...the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge.

If you're curious, here's the introductory video:

Day 1 )

extra )
zaelle: (Nekotalia Iggycat)
It's been a while but I thought I should record here my first serious attempt at completing a massive online course. It's kind of interesting that I've been better able to focus on taking this online course now that I actually have a job, than I ever did when I didn't have one.

Anyway, it's a fascinating course about how 'space' was perceived in early to medieval viking literature. The course says 'Scandinavia' as a whole, but most of the material we're reading from is from Iceland. I'm not sure if that's a result of more written records and sagas surviving better out of Iceland than from Norway, Sweden or Denmark, or for some other reason, but it is interesting none-the-less.

Relationships between Space and Memory )

On taking an online course )

Overall it's fun so far. The course is run out of the University of Zurich. I think if there's any lesson I've learned here, it's that I should use Coursera to take courses I'm actually interested in, regardless of how practical or useful they will be for my professional or life skills...rather than the alternative.
zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)
It occurs to me that I read a lot in 2014. Not all things were brilliant, most of them were escapism, but it felt great to have a neighborhood library so immediately available and so much time to read everything. The only thing I wish I did, was to keep track of all of them - or at least a list so I know which ones I already read/liked/etc.

I thought I would do this on Goodreads, but I didn't. I mean I reviewed some of the books/added them to my shelf, but I was pretty lax on it.

I'd like to keep better track of that this year, and be a bit more active on Goodreads.

Well, the last book of 2014 for me was actually Ancillary Justice. The first book of 2015 was a reread of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'

Now I just need to think of a way to make a ready standing list and just be able to return to it when I want to...
zaelle: America's overworked (America's overworked)
Word Count: 10,103/50,000
Word Goal: 1,667
Words Written: 1,689

I so barely reached my word count last night but I reached it! Huzzah! Which also means that the next milestone is 25,000! This is the danger point for me because I can already feel myself running out of steam. Also my most successful participation in Nanowrimo (back in 2008 or 2009 I think) never reached the 25,000 word count. It's only going to get more grueling so it's time to just grit my teeth and keep on!

Suez Canal and the Kelpie )

I was scheduled to go to this Saturday's write in, but had to postpone because...Raymond E Feist will be in the region and I'm going to see him! And get some books signed...and even if he runs out of time, at least I'll have seen him. Fangirling over favorite authorness over here :P

Oh and Widget!

zaelle: America's overworked (America's overworked)
Word Count: 8,414/50,000
Word Goal: 1,667
Words Written: 1,875

Well today was a pretty bad day in terms of writing quality - I actually had no idea how to fill up this time (because I have still failed to find an appropriate Celtic Sea Voyage legend) so it is instead filled up with the political and professional concerns of James' father. I should write more about sailing in the Mediterranean but I suppose tomorrow can be 'oohs' and 'aahs' over crossing the Suez Canal.

Today's Writing Experience )
zaelle: America's overworked (America's overworked)
Word Count: 6,681/50,000
Word Goal: 1,667
Words Written: 1,295

I'm way below my wordcount today and tomorrow I'm going on a day trip to the next state. Agh but something strange happened today. I'm so tired today it's not even funny. I woke up at 10am, ate breakfast, sat down, did some work and writing, got super tired around 3pm, slept until 5:30pm, still felt exhausted, ate, and now it's 8pm and I'm ready to go to bed.

I hope I'm not getting ill or anything, but I know better than to deny my body when it does funny things like this, so I guess I'll go to bed.

Today's Writing Experience )
zaelle: America's overworked (America's overworked)
Current Word Count (End Day 2): 5,386/50,000
Word Goal: 3,500 (adjusted to 1,667)
Words Written: 1,705

Well, yesterday was a dedicated writing day and today was less of one. I had lunch with an old friend from my College and we caught up all day, so I only got a chance to work on my novel in the evening. Well, I knew that I wouldn't be able to repeat yesterday's success of 3,500, but I did at least want to hit the recommended daily goal of 1,667. All in all, that would push me beyond the 5,000 word milestone and it feels good to be even 10% there.

Today's writing experience )

And that's it for today! Onwards to Day 3.
zaelle: America's overworked (America's overworked)
Current Word Count (End Day 1): 3,681 / 50,000
Word Goal: 3,500 (w00t!)

And it has begun.

Yesterday I vaguely planned out 15 chapters, each 3,500 words long (more out of practicality and simple math surrounding 50,000 words in 30 days than for any other reason). Basically what that accomplished was giving me an idea of where to direct this month.

I'm going to be writing a summary journal entry at the end of each day's writing just to track and record the experience for future learning. Here goes...oh my I feel so tired actually. I can't wait to sleep.

Novel Planning and Writing )

All in all, a nice start (a hopeful one anyway) and now I'm off to bed! Goodnight!

I hope that everyone else had great starts to their Nano projects!


zaelle: Kiwis are descended from T-Rex (Default)

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