Saturday, February 23, 2008

More great Pride and Prejudice quotes

Sorry to be exclusive, but if you want to enjoy the quotes, you'll just have to see the movie.
"Shelves in a closet. Happy thought indeed."

"I shall overcome this! I shall!"

"No! no lace, Mrs. Bennett. I beg you, no lace!"

"And how are your parents? and your er, uh, your sisters? They are all in good health?"

"Only a little and very ill."

"I must confess, I encourage that, also."
And then there is the one about the flutterings and pains that Mrs. Bennett experiences. But I would have to have the movie right here to get that one right. As it is I have probably messed up several of those above. Let me know if I have. I had to return the DVD to the library last week after having already renewed it once.

Oh, and here's the favorite one among my girls.
"Wink at my daughter? Why would I wink at my own daughter, pray?"
Feel free to send me your favorites and I will add them to the list.

Bonnet Movies

Thanks to Amy and blogger, cattail, for participating in my Jane Austen quiz. And you were both right, although cattail was more specific.

I've been told that talk radio host, Glen Beck calls the movies of old books of a certain era, Bonnet Movies. I have come to sort of like that name for them. I find myself in need of a bonnet story, either a movie or book, on a somewhat regular basis. I love reading Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. And for a slightly later setting I like some of E. M Forster's.

My first introduction to Bonnet Movies was actually Forster's, A Room With A View, which I saw on my 1986 birthday with dear friends, Lisa, Jenny and Katie, in Madison, WI. It is a lovely movie; I can't say enough in praise of the casting, music, filmography and stylistic touches the producers included.

Others that I also like are the PBS, Jane Eyre, and the 1995, Sense and Sensibility.

But for those of you who may never have seen the BBC Pride and Prejudice, you don't know what you are missing. This six hour rendition is the creme de la creme of all Bonnet Movies. Everything about it is well done.

One of the joys of reading a Jane Austen Novel is the way she can take a certain kind of personality and so aptly put that personality into her books. And she gives the personalities in the stories just a little bit of exaggeration to make the reader laugh and appreciate human foibles. Just about every character in her books is someone with whom readers can equate. We have all met a Colonel Brandon or Captain Wentworth. We have all felt at times like Emma or Catherine Morland.

And in the BBC P&P, one of the greatest parts of the movie is the casting. The actors so well depict the idiosyncrasies of the characters they portray. And then as is so Austenesqe, they give them that little bit of over-the-top-ness, to keep the viewers laughing.

We don't have a TV here, but I understand that movies of all these classic stories are being aired on Sunday Nights these days. So if you have nothing else to do tomorrow evening, or if you just need some down time, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and curl up with a Bonnet Movie.

Fun Children's Book

I stumbled upon this book at the library. I guess not literally stumbled, but it was an especially nice surprise to see a book on display while checking out, toss it in our pile, and later enjoy it so thoroughly. The book of which I speak is called The Mysterious Benedict Society, by first time author, Trenton Lee Stewart. The author also has a fun web page for kids and adults alike with an interview and games and other fun stuff.

The story revolves around four gifted children, who answer an ad in the newspaper and must pass a series of tests to be chosen for a secret mission. The tests are allegedly portrayed so that a reader might be able to test themselves as they read along. I did not have any luck with that part; I think one must think like a child or something. Although my 13 year old son shared some of my sentiments regarding the tests. We both felt that not enough information was given for several of them to work.

But regardless of that, the story is exciting, the characters are very colorful and endearing, and there are many twists and turns in the plot. I didn't have it all figured out at any point; and unlike some cliffhanger plots, when looking back later, this story line holds together.

Even after reading the entire thing, a reader turns the page and finds one last mystery yet unsolved. I think the author included information within the story line to be able to solve the final question, but neither Matt not I had any success with it. Jeremy, if you are reading this, you should try to get your hands on this book. You might have the kind of brain for the final puzzle. But no cheating and reading the last page first, anyone.

There was a point at which I became suspicious about the direction the author was taking the readers. A part of the plot involves a bad guy taking over the hearts and minds of humanity through secret messages being kind of beamed into everyone's brains. I thought perhaps the tone of the story would get preachy or too philosophical for how it had started. But really that aspect of the story was just a part of the adventure.

Another thing I liked about this book was the lessons the kids had to learn in order to succeed at their mission. They had to learn to work together to use everyone's strong points, trust each other, and have compassion for the weaknesses each of them struggled with in turn.

All in all the book told a lively tale of suspense and intrigue and at the same time was a beautiful story of childhood friendship.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quiz time.

I know that my dear husband offered prizes for his quiz. I can't promise to do that. But if I think of something, I may just send it to any winner. I have a feeling that I may be able to predict the winner. Not because I know all my readers that well. Just because I really have pretty much just a few of you. And I can name two or three who would get this right away, but only one who I can be pretty sure would read this in a timely manner.

So here goes. In what popular movie does this quote appear?
I believe it is of great doctrinal import, sir.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the above mentioned movie. I say quotes, for there are many, and all equally fine.

Aaahhh! New Keyboard!

I haven't been posting lately mostly because of my keyboard. I know, it sounds like a lame excuse, but really, my keyboard was driving me nuts. I can't say too much, of course, because my dear husband is the IT specialist around here and he really was doing his best.

Joe is the pastor of four churches and during Lent things get kind of wild for him. My keyboard suddenly stopped working about the the same time as Ash Wednesday rolled around. He picked up what they had a Wal-mart. This particular computer that we currently have only uses some sort of special attachment for the keyboard. Now this shows how much I don't know. I think he called it a universal connection.

But anyway, we probably have 10 keyboards in our basement on the storage shelves. But, alas, none of them work with this computer. So he want into Wal-mart and found this funky new-fangled thing that doesn't use cords to hook up to the computer. It has a receiver type thing that hooks up, but then the mouse and the keyboard are cordless and transmit signals to the little doohickey that is attached to the computer. I guess the idea is to eliminate one of the cords.

But what a worthless piece of technology. At first we just assumed that it was having some sort of trouble working with our computer since, of course, we use linux. Another geek thing. Basically means that in order to use anything that comes ready to use, Joe, in fact, needs to have time to do all kinds of research to get the linux tweeks to make it work. In defense of linux, it is a much more secure OS and compared to our one Window machine, our multiple linux machines hardly ever crash. I guess that means something, too.

Monday Joe got sick of the keyboard, too. Really, I think he had been sick of it, just had no time to figure it out. But for whatever reason, he finally had the time to get the linux "cheats" for this particular keyboard/ mouse/ receiver combo. Even so, the thing still didn't work. It's like the keys only sporadically connect with what they are supposed to connect with.

But, to make a long story short (oops, too late) we got a new keyboard in town yesterday. Yeah! Now I can type without correcting every other word for spelling errors when it really was just the dumb keyboard. It either skipped letters all together or periodically would spontaneously add six of a given letter. Then add to that the shift key that only worked occasionally. "Caps locked" worked, so at least at the beginning of a sentence I could get caps if I remembered to use "caps lock" instead of shift. aND THEN i HAD TO REMEMBER TO TURN IT OFF AGAIN. But the things like parenteses and the @ symbol in e-mail addresses were totally inaccessible.

Oh, I guess it's a long story again. Sorry. But hopefully I will have time to sit down and write all the wonderful, spell-binding things I've been thinking about. I know you can't wait.


Anyone there?

Hello? hello?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Why Do We Learn?

Did you ever stop to wonder why you learn things. As an adult, what things trigger your interest. What motivates continuing education.

As a child and young person I think I learned by some fluke of our educational system. In spite of myself, I learned.

I went to a Christian day school, Faith Lutheran in Tacoma, WA, for grades 1-8. I would describe it as a well-rounded, back-to-basics education. A good, solid foundation. Perhaps similar to what is currently being marketed as classical education.

I was likewise privileged to attend two quality Lutheran high schools, Evergreen Lutheran, formerly in Dupont, WA, [currently in Kent, WA, I think] for one year; and the now defunct, Martin Luther Prep School in Prairie du Chien, WI, for the three remaining years. Both of these schools offered those who chose to learn a good solid college prep curriculum.

Did I make good use of these opportunities? Probably not. I liked school when it was easy. I pretty much pulled As and Bs without trying, so why try harder, right? I liked to be smart and look smart, but again, only when it did not involve much work.

But in spite of my bad attitude, I still learned much of the stuff I was supposed to learn.

When I got to college, I really wanted to learn. Well, I guess to be honest, I should say, " After my first year, I really wanted to learn." My first year I was heavily into social life.

Then I took a year off and worked for a living. Mostly I wanted to get WI residency so I could qualify for instate tuition. But by the time that year passed, I really wanted to learn. In fact, I wanted to learn perfectly. So I started on a cycle of study hard and intensely and even read all the source material given in footnotes, etc. and then burn out half way through any given semester. Only to restart and do the same thing in the next semester's courses.

I quit college after three years. I got married at that time. But that was not primarily why I quit. I could see my poor learning habits. I saw that I was wasting money by my "race and then crash" mentality.

I also figured that since I had the strong foundation of knowing how to learn, I didn't need college classes. I could check out books from the library, often the same books assigned for any given class, and read them on my own. I could do it on my own time, according to my own energy level, and not have to pay money.

Often I found myself at odds with the professors or TAs of the various classes. If quit school, and got the books from the library, I could read and analyze the information presented in the readings on my own time, in my own way, at my leisure.

I have a friend, Lisa, who has been tossing around the idea of returning to school to get her PhD. I commented on how, although I love to learn, I also think I would still not be a good student.

We got to talking about why that is. Lisa mentioned that since she had a particular career goal in mind, that was her motivation to do well in a school setting. In this case, "jumping through the hoops" can help a person learn.

So that got us analyzing why I learn. I can give one reason that I like to learn. It is not very noble. I want to be smart. I just plain and simple like to know things. I guess it is vanity. So I can't call that a good reason to pursue knowledge.

But I think I can "fabricate" a valid reason that I seek knowledge. I don't mean fabricate as in make up from nothing. I guess I mean that although it may not be a primary, gut level, human vanity kind of goal, I can still, from my own value system, come up with this reason for learning. I can rationalize a value in learning that is more noble than my own vanity. I am a homemaker, a wife, mother, home school mom...Under the mother and home school mom vocations, I can make a claim. Here goes. This is my best shot at legitimacy.
God has blessed America with a stable constitutional government. The particular form of government our constitution grants us is that of a representative democracy. We have the privilege to vote for those who will represent us in government.

In order to best maintain our form of government, a voter must have a certain amount of knowledge. This would include a foundation in Western thought; a cultural awareness of Western thought within world history; historical knowledge of how human decisions have effected world events; and a reasonable awareness of current events.

If any one of these is absent or weak in the education of our voters, the system will become less stable. We will start to see some of the freedoms that we hold dear disappearing. Conceivably, if the education of the electorate is weak enough the system could fail entirely.

Now, I can't solve the world's problems, America's problems, or even Oklee, MN's problems. But I have been given, by God, the job of raising my kids. He has also led us to home school those children. The more I learn and keep myself sharp, the more I can share with my kids the tools necessary for good citizenship in the temporal world.
My meaning here is not to idolize the temporal world or American traditions. Certainly, our eternal souls and therefore religious eduction is on a different plane. And equally important is the knowledge that God has in His hand world events. As the Psalmist says in Ps. 46,
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
All our learning will be meaningless if God decides it is time for the America we know to fade away.

I would be interested in hearing the reasons you continue to pursue knowledge.