Monday, January 22, 2007

Idiots and Dummies 

I've always been turned off by the "Complete Idiot's Guide to [blank]" and the "[blank] for dummies" books. I'll read them (and buy them) for subjects I know knowing about, like sewing and calculus, both subjects I'm currently trying to teach myself and both subjects that I am very open to admitting I know nothing about (or that what I know if what I've been able to figure out on my own). When I get a house with a work space, I'll find a similar book on carpentry, because I don't know a jigsaw from a hacksaw, and all I know about chainsaws it that they have motors and blades on a rotating tread.

But I need help writing a paper. I can't take one of these books seriously, even though I flip though and there is valuable advice.

I accept that the premise of these books isn't that the intended reader is an idiot, i.e., incapable of learning. The intended reader is copmletely uneducated but capable and eager to learn. That's a perferctly respectable (and if admitted, admirable) place to be. And I'll accept as a joke that I'm stupid rather than ignorant at sewing and calculus. I'm willing to buy those books.

But the books on topics I like to think, or need to think, I know something about? No way. Even if the books are by respected authorities. Even if it's a topic I really need the basics on (for example, a particular mental illness - and I'm pursuing an MA in psychology). I can't get past the series title. I can't read it. I won't read it. I'll pick up something else, something less more limited, with less overview. The book I choose may or may not be what I need.

I can't get past the brand. Sometimes the brand lures me, sometimes it pushes me away.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Out of touch with the world 

By now, everyone should have an emergency grab-and-go bag (or box). If not, see here.

I've worked up one for emergency hospital stays. I've had too many over the past year, and too often I'd show up holding nothing or holding stuff that would need to be confiscated for "safety." So here's my current bag:

  • A book I've been meaning to read
  • A book of poetry I love
  • A blank book. Mine currently is spiral bound. I need a new one.
  • Pens. Bring several, including felt tip, in case any are confiscated. Bring Crayons, even.
  • Magazines, for reading or trading and sharing good will.
  • Stuffed animal, for hugging.
  • Soda (if you're a junkie like me) in plastic bottles. No caffeine.
  • Granola bars
  • List of phone numbers of friends, family, doctors, etc.
  • Set of cards and addressed, stamped, envelopes to write to friends and family when the phones are off limits
  • Phone card or credit card that allows calls to be charged
  • Rubber band (I have long hair)
  • Ear plugs and face mask, if you need them to sleep


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