Quotes of the Week- Weeks 7, 8, & 9

Okay, I admit: I have been quite negligent of my weekly quotes. Three weeks have gone by! Wow! I am a fairly dedicated and consistent person, so I apologize for a lack of consistency these past couple of weeks. That said, it IS still summer, and I’m home relaxing and taking Geometry so I’m a little busy too. I hope your summer (or winter, for those who may be reading from the Southern Hemisphere) is filled with happy, fun activities just like mine!

Anyways, I always hate being short-changed for anything, so I am giving all 15 quotes I missed. They vary, just like my moods and anyone else’s, but are all worth reading just the same. Here we go, fifteen previously-forgotten quotes:

1. “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” -Andy Warhol

2. “Things do not change; we do.” -Henry David Thoreau

3. “We make our own fortunes and call them fate.” -Benjamin Disraeli

4. “Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny.” -Kin Hubbard

5. “Nothing is ever lost to us as long as we remember it.” -L.M. Montgomery

6. “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” -Samuel Johnson

7. “Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.” -Lao Tzu

8. “The biggest tragedy of life is the utter impossibility to change what you have done.” -John Galsworthy

9. “We know from daily life that we exist for other people first of all, for whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.” -Albert Einstein

10. “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” -Dalai Lama XIV

11. “If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives.” -Robert South

12. “Love and doubt are not on speaking terms.” -Kahlil Gibran

13. “Ants never sleep.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

14. “He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have.” -Socrates

15. “I believe that I am not responsible for the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of life, but that I am responsible what I do with the life I’ve got.” -Hermann Hesse

Have fun! Read books! Enjoy yourself! More quotes to come next week!

-Nicole

Another Top 10- Favorite Things at the Start of Summer

Happy Saturday! I’m here posting my top 10 favorite things from this week and this moment. I know I did this once already, and I’m trying not to be redundant in posting, but I like having an outlet to express things that I love.

Here they are:

1. My brand-new (got it yesterday!) MacBook Pro

I am doing my first post from it right now! I cannot say how head-over-heels in love I am with this thing! I had wanted for years to get a MacBook Air, but after a discussion with an Apple Genius yesterday in the Apple store and a slightly spur-of-the-moment decision on my dad’s part, I got the Pro. I could not be happier, really. I’m paying for half, and for the money, it’s a much better value. Lots of storage, super fast, well-organized like most Macs. Plus, it’s the first new computer that I can call my own and is now the newest piece of technology in our household. Sweet! Such an upgrade from the almost ten-year-old Mac desktop I have. Yay! I’m so excited.¬†

2. Summer goals

Summer always seems like a total get-things-done sort of time, but it also has time within to relax and have fun on a more casual basis. Being the person I am, making lists all the time, I have a yellow notepad with probably five pages worth of goals for this summer. And I am ready to get them underway! My Geometry classes (to be able to go straight to Algebra II/Trig next year instead of taking Geometry) start Monday. Monday or today might mark the first of the Mile a Day challenge. I’m not sure if I have the initiative yet to start it today… We’ll see :). I have plenty of pre-boarding school packing, new websites and programs to try, getting acquainted with my new computer, and photography adventures planned. Summer 2013 should be great! Oh yeah, and a reading list that spans another seven pages too… ūüôā

3. Beaches at sunsetImage

Since I’m most likely missing our family beach week for Geometry, I have been craving more pictures of beaches to mentally take me there and have me miss Rehoboth at least a little bit less. This picture above was taken at our grade-wide beach party to celebrate the end of the school year. I just adore the colors!

4. Amazon wish lists

This is one of my favorite ways to keep track of books I want to read in the future (besides the Notes function on my phone, paper lists, and my Books on Deck shelf- to be a post of its own soon). I love my Amazon wish list because I can see very clearly books that I want to read or ones that peaked my interest in one way or another. Of course, my family has inside jokes about my sister’s wish list, with 1300 items of all categories, or something absurd like that (mine rests around 130, with about 120 books, for some perspective). My favorite strategy is to use the function on the right-hand side once you’ve added an item and change the priority of it accordingly. That way you can use the sorting features on the top to change categories from All to Books, and then the Sort by from Date Added to Priority (high to low). It’s a super-simple trick to see books that you’ve heard about and want to read, in a good order for reading them.¬†

5. Photography (and maybe a good new camera?)

I love taking pictures to capture everyday life, lifestyle photography, but I love the hobby of it as a whole. Lately I’ve been one of those people who just use their phone camera for everything (my iPhone, in this case). My dad has a very professional camera that he uses sometimes (being an artist for a living), and I have a little portable Leica that I use sometimes. But now I really really want to start exploring and having a camera to truly call my own, even when I have to pay for it myself. The one I have my eye on is the Nikon D3100. Beware, AB&AB: lots of summer pictures will be coming your way!

6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Again, another thing I am adoring right now. Audrey Hepburn is fantastic. I saw this picture book on her in an Anthropologie store, and added it to my Amazon wish list almost immediately. She is so gorgeous and unique and funny in her own little ways. I now join the ranks among millions of other Audrey fans. Can’t wait to see other things of hers, though I don’t know if anything can beat the cat named Cat and Paul “Fred” Varjack. Amazing movie.¬†

7. Organizing

You know that rewarding feeling when everything magically falls into place, neat as can be? I’ve been trying, without the use of magic, to make it that way, as I know an organized summer will be a much more peaceful summer. Yesterday was cleaning out all of my school binders, and I have to sort the papers in chronological order but it still felt really good. Our recycling bin was way to the brims after that! I plan on tackling my desk, all the random paper piles I have, and maybe my chiffonier by this weekend. So exciting! I love organizing just for how rewarding it feels.

8. Charles Dickens

I have waited for months to enact my plan that summer 2013 be a Dickens summer. And I can’t wait! Sure, I have my second reread of The Perks of Being a Wallflower to finish first, and a library run to grab a copy of Oliver Twist, but I am more than prepared for these classics to come my way!¬†

9. Babysitting

I plan on babysitting today! For the first time in a very, very long time and possibly ever. Which seems kind of crazy, since I was Red Cross certified at age 11, but not many people want an 11-year-old babysitting their kids. Oh well. But it will be the first of my summer jobs, and most any summer money is good summer money!

10. Adapting recipes

A couple nights ago I was thinking of adapting a cookie recipe to encompass some of my new favorite flavors- dates, toasted pecans, and toffee. I had originally tasted this combination in this cookbook, which is for filled pancakes called ebelskivers. I made the recipe for Sticky Toffee Ebelskivers and had some mishaps, but the flavor combination stuck with me (as did the toffee sauce recipe, which I now just cook for seven or eight minutes longer then refrigerate, and I get perfect toffee). I’m thinking of combining those key flavors with my base recipe for chocolate chip cookies, omitting the chocolate chips. And I have another sponge cake and raspberry syrup dessert to make for tomorrow. Adapting and combining things is so fun for me, and even when it doesn’t work out, you learn some great lessons along the way!

I hope summer is off to a great start. And, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, that winter is going just as well. I’m off to enjoy the nice weather today. Will write later!

-Nicole

The Moral Dilemmas of Little Bee

Hi there! 

After my social studies final today I devoured the end of Chris Cleave’s book Little Bee. I just want to say that it’s a really amazing story, and it shouldn’t be ruined by bloggers like me (just as the back of the book says). But here is what happens, in a very general way, also similar to the back of the book: two women, from very different lives. Their paths cross, and as much or little as either of them want to, neither can forget. However, everything is brought back to life when Little Bee and Sarah meet again, five years after their lives first crossed. And now, in a very different, much more highly complex scenario, the two have to work together to figure things out; both between themselves on what happened that day, how it affected the fate of Sarah’s husband Andrew, and how they will continue with their futures.¬†

It’s really a beautiful book. The writing of it is overall pretty fantastic. If I were to criticize one thing, though, it would be the way that Cleave switches voices between chapters. This was especially confusing at the beginning of the book, when I didn’t know why the apparent life of this character suddenly shifted. Another book that does this is Sarah’s Key (no purposeful coincidence in character names) by Tatiana de Rosnay. I highly encourage you to read that as well. But one thing Rosnay does that Cleave does not is fully distinguish between time periods, at least, by putting notes at the top of the start of chapters. She does not say the characters, but Julia’s part is written in first person whereas Sarah’s part is written in third. In Little Bee, both narratives are written in first, and there is no distinguishing prior. I ultimately just figured out that the odd-numbered chapters were Bee and the even-numbered ones were Sarah. As well, by the way that they wrote and the matters that they spoke of, it became no problem to tell the two apart. At the beginning it was kind of hard.¬†

The thing that struck me most about Little Bee was how in-depth all of the characters were. I feel that as readers, and as humans, we connect ourselves to characters in one way or another. This helps us mentally understand them better, and see why they made specific decisions. When we cannot connect to characters, we dislike them more, or they simply feel impersonal. Sometimes we attest that to bad writing. Usually, it’s not bad writing though. It’s simply that we don’t feel related to that character.¬†

I found it hard, as I was reading Little Bee, to connect myself to one character specifically. Part of this was that their lives were so far-fetched from mine. And part of it was that Chris Cleave had gone so deep with them that what I first thought relatable was now completely distant. I asked myself:

Would I be Little Bee, running as a fugitive from my past, seeing death around every corner? Would I find in the world that sometimes a suicide is better than torture and a slow, painful death, and look for it around every corner? Would I die inside and be reborn, given a new name and new hope? And how would I be reborn? By a stranger saving my life? With a chance of escape? By trying to make things right?

Would I be Sarah, torn apart with grief and sorrow, but very much in the present too? Would I see the past in the shadows, lurking around like the ghost of the finger I’d lost? Would I break down, crying, realizing just how complicated and seemingly hopeless the situation is? Would I put my life out on a limb for someone, no matter how close or how far?

Would I be Lawrence, living in two different worlds at once? Would I tell the truth, the whole and honest truth, to the people I love, both ethically wrong and right? What side of me would dominate- the government worker, bound by vague ethics to the organization, following the letter of the law? Or the lover, the passionate one, who wants only to see happiness in Sarah’s eyes, no matter the personal cost?

Would I be Charlie, young, naive, and innocent? Would I escape my fears of the world, of my father’s death, by putting on a mask and cape and responding only to “Batman”? Would my life now be as simple as finding the goodies and fighting the baddies?

These questions plagued me as I read Little Bee, and now more than ever they define themselves clearly. I have realized that this is what Chris Cleave wanted to achieve- a lifelike situation, with people in it and creating it that have problems and hard times and moral issues. It debates the whole idea of “what humans will do to other humans to gain money and power.” These are what make the book fabulous. These are why you should read it.¬†

However, I am off to read something else. After having read The Things They Carried, most of Romeo and Juliet (to be finished this weekend!), and Little Bee¬†consecutively, I need a break. So I indulge myself, and get to have a little bit of one of my favorite authors, Kim Edwards, in a new book for me, The Lake of Dreams. I’ll get to reading that and post on it later. And as interesting and wonderful to read about as the moral dilemmas in Little Bee are, I hope none of them happen before I post next.

-Nicole

My Top 10 Favorite Things Right Now

There are several things I just absolutely adore right now, and I want to share them. Ten totally amazing things that have blown me away and I hope will blow you away too. 

1. Julia Rothman’s Typewriter iPad Sleeve.

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This is the cutest iPad sleeve I think I’ve seen in my life. It so makes me want to get a typewriter, which I’ve wanted for so long but am now looking to find one more than ever. Even though I don’t have an iPad to myself, it is adorable and sitting on my desk. It is super-cute, and the illustrations on it of the typewriters themselves are detailed and beautiful. I loved it so much that I bought the matching notebook within two days. Good job, Julia Rothman, and good job Chronicle Books for making and selling it!

 

2. All of my teachers. For every single one of my teachers out there, this year, last year, wherever and whenever you taught me, thank you. As our school year winds to a close, I hope all of my teachers realize just how much I appreciate them and all they do for me. Today, within about ten minutes of each other, I received two hugs from teachers. One said, “teachers aren’t supposed to do this” and made my English teacher turn around, but the other was just as grateful and happy as that other one may seem (or not seem, since it sounds slightly ominous, but it makes sense knowing the teacher and knowing me). I love school, and I put all effort forth for it. My teachers see that, and they appreciate it, and what I can do for them as well as what they can do for me. It’s settling inside to know that even if I’m not smart or pretty or a good writer, or if I’m stupid or dumb, that at least a couple people out there can see that I try, and they can see the kindness in me. Now, they are reflecting that kindness onto me, and I appreciate it wholeheartedly.¬†

 

3. Algebra. I know, math geek. But we have our Regents tomorrow for it, and for whatever reason, I’m not nervous. Sure, I’m one of those “crazy” people that love tests and think they’re fun. But Algebra is awesome. Algebra is amazing. Plus, Algebra is relatively easy. So unless I make several stupid mistakes tomorrow during the test, I am going to aim to get 100 on that Regents (which has been my goal the whole school year anyways).¬†

 

4. Matilda. After seeing Matilda on Broadway a little more than a week ago, I have revived my love for this Roald Dahl book and now for the Broadway counterpart. Sure, it helps than my family friend is one of the four girls playing Matilda, and we got to see her after the show. As tired as she was, she’s still an adorable little pipsqueak and kid, despite now being a part of show business. And the story is a classic! A special, brilliant little girl who goes and finds her revenge and lives happily ever after! The musical version, which I expected to be kind of cheesy, is really fun and sweet. Go watch it, if you haven’t already, and reread the novel if you haven’t in five or ten or twenty years. Sometimes, just like Matilda says up there, sometimes you have to just change your own story, and I know this more than anyone.¬†

 

5. Bright colors on rainy days. This makes everything completely infectious. It was raining all day yesterday, but my dad and I managed to get these balloons into the car for our Romeo and Juliet performance today, and let me take a picture in the rain. There’s nothing like a bunch of brightly colored balloons to cheer you up on a gray and cloudy day!

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6. Fydor Dostoevsky. Now you’re probably thinking I’m insane. But lately I’ve been recommending Dosoevsky all the time, because as much as I “suffered” while reading Notes from the Underground, it’s an important book in terms of literary style and development of philosophical ideas. So Dostoevsky it is!

 

7. Crepe paper flowers. Image

This happens to be a very dramatic picture of one, but that’s just the lighting. I made six of these on Sunday also as Romeo and Juliet props, and now they’re just striking me with how simple and easy and gorgeous they are. I’m thinking of making a lot of them in pink and orange as party decorations, but the light blue-green ones look delicate and calm. Almost a cross between a lotus flower or a chrysanthemum and a shower loofah. That sounds like a weird analogy, but it’s true, and in a much prettier sense than it seems. Anyways, easy and awesome DIY project.¬†

 

8. My best friends. Everyone in their own way, at one time or another, experiences this. But today, of all days, I’m feeling this, about my two closest friends who are both VERY different from me. And, especially, very different from each other. One loves “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” and quantum physics and fat birds. The other is the best dancer I know and has a personal style and fashion sense and makeup sensibility and popularity that I can never match. They’re very different people, and they don’t know each other at all, but that’s okay, because they both know me, and I know both of them, and Div and Ellie are both fantastic people and friends.¬†

 

9. Spanish 4. I am going to be in a Spanish 4 class next year, and right now I’m in Spanish 1. I mean, I’ve taken Spanish since kindergarten, and I got silver on the National Spanish Exam level one (1% away from gold- SO MAD!!!). But I didn’t necessarily expect to be in Spanish 4. So yeah, nine years of Spanish and I make it into Spanish 4 on a system leveled in a different way than my current one. I’m quite excited, and when I told my Spanish teacher she was excited too. Go Spanish 4!

 

10. Sudoku puzzles. I was first taught to do these by a family friend at about age 10. I go in and out of periods where I do lots and lots of them, and sometimes I do none. But they are back in style with me now! They are so varying in how they make me feel- relaxed and at ease, having lots of fun, pensive and concentrating just to get one number down. But I feel really good finishing them, so one final hooray for sudoku puzzles!

 

I know this seems especially long, but it’s what I’m feeling now about several different, really cool things. I am grateful to have all of them in my life, especially my teachers. I hope that you walk away from this, like my blog, with a smile!

Nicole

Rainy Days

Inspired by today’s totally rainy weather, I pieced this together:

I love rainy days. I love the way that they rest on your tongue, the way that nothing suits them better than a bowl of soup and a good book or a sudoku puzzle. I love how they make you excited for the sunshine to come; when the storm passes and you go outside and splash in the mud with your rain boots. 

I love that everything seems quiet; either lazy, poised, or some combination. I love the mystery that lurks outside the window; the very natural, very alive place out there. I think of all of the frogs and toads hopping through puddles, and the little worms squirming through extra-squishy, extra-moist soil. 

I love the creativity that rainy days entail. A DIY project here, a story beginning there, and a lead for that English project tucked into a corner somewhere. I love the pictures that you take as you catch the focused raindrops on the car window, and that you can just sit for hours soaking up inspiration. 

I love the melodies, the patterns, that the raindrops make outside the window. Plop, plop, drip, drop, plop, plip! The way that the background patter echoes, and the occasional group to fall on my air conditioner sounds louder than the hundreds beyond. I love that rainy days make me think of band class, with the different sections emitting different pitches. I love the ways that rainy days make me think. 

I love knowing where rainy days come from. I love knowing that it’s part of the passage of a warm front, and that tomorrow or the next day will bring warmth and sunshine. The ground will dry up from evaporation, and soon enough I’ll be craving another rainy day like this one.¬†

I really do love rainy days. 

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Anyone else enjoying a rainy afternoon? I certainly hope so! Make its inspiration count!

-Nicole

My Latest Math Obsession- Imaginary Numbers

Okay, these probably sound kinda spooky or weird, but I am coming to adore imaginary numbers. After having them on this online test, I inquired with my math teacher, who taught me about them. And now I’m in love! They’re so weird and out-of-the-ordinary. They are nothing you’d see in day-to-day arithmetic. My math teacher struggled to explain how they’re even used. But the properties of them just astound me. I love them.¬†

The basics of i is that it’s the square root of negative one. Then, depending what power it is raised to, the value of it changes. See description below:

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It repeats in a pattern like this so i to the fourth power is just one again. Then you can multiply binomials containing it to simplify. Like this, (1+2i)(3+4i). You use the standard Distributive Property, and end up with 3 plus 6i plus 4i plus 8 times i to the second power (this is much easier to write in words than to type). Then, you can combine the like terms of 6i and 4i to get 10i. Then, i to the second power is -1, so eight times negative one is negative eight. Combine that with three to get 5. And there you have it! 10i-5 is your final answer!

I have no idea why I’m writing this on a reading-centric blog, but I guess it may be useful if you come across imaginary numbers in something else. I’m also just really excited. I hope you enjoyed the lesson on i!

-Nicole