I spent most of last weekend at my parents’ place, and on Sunday my mom and I got together with a neighbor and her daughter.  We went to the Sunrise Theater to see The Quartet, which was unexpectedly good: not perfect, but the music was lovely, and I’ll watch almost anything with Maggie Smith.

The majority of the work week was insanity, and it does seem like that will be the pattern for a while.  In April I’m going to Boston for work, in May I’m going to NYC with my family, and in June I’m going to Minneapolis for work.  I’m excited about all of the above, though also slightly apprehensive about the work trips now that they’re giving me so much more responsibility.  It’s going to be an interesting spring!

Last week’s philosophy meeting was at Sunni Skies, so we had an interesting combination of ice cream and behaviorism.  We’re working on Science and Human Behavior by B.F. Skinner, which seems positively fluffy by comparison to some of our recent reading, and we’re going to forge onward in that for a little while.





Books: I finally got my reading act together, after shaking free of the literary lassitude that ensued after tackling Confessions and Zorba the Greek.  I finished Zorba, and I can’t say that my initial opinion really changed at all.  Kind of wish I hadn’t bothered.

I finished Confessions this week too, and I realized I gave both it and Zorba two stars on Goodreads, though two such different books have probably never shared shelf space.  Two stars is probably terribly unfair; Confessions is undeniably of far better quality than that.    But I personally disliked it too much to do it credit, I’m afraid.  I still have a hard time pinpointing the cause of my dissatisfaction.  It wasn’t because it was deeply personal, or because I disagreed with so much of his theology, or because it was rather dry ancient literature: all of those things are true, but they’re also true of other books I read and enjoyed.  I did have an easier time with the last three of the thirteen books, for some reason; maybe I was finally getting used to him after all, or maybe I just liked him better when he was building an argument for something instead of…well…confessing so much.  I think probably the repeated statements of his own unworthiness and God’s greatness are what bothered me; I have a terrible time focusing during these sorts of things.  To me they often feel repetitive, boring, and meaningless.  A fact may be perfectly true, but if you repeat it enough times, it starts to lose its significance.

In contrast to my bogged-down struggles in the above, I raced through The Long Valley by Steinbeck in record time.  All of the short(ish) stories in the collection take place in the Salinas Valley, where Steinbeck grew up and where he sets most of his tales, but they’re otherwise unconnected.  “The Red Pony” is among this collection, and I distinctly remember picking that book up as a horse-crazy kid.  I put it back on the shelf without reading it, for some reason, which is something I never did–I read every other horse book I found in the library.  I’m so glad I left it there now.  That story is NOT for children, especially ones who adore horses.  I love Steinbeck with what probably amounts to an unhealthy passion today, even as I recognize that reading him at the wrong age would probably ruin a person for life.  A year or so ago I remember overhearing a man in a bookstore proudly say that his 6th grader nephew had worked his way through all of Steinbeck.  At the time I hadn’t read enough Steinbeck to know what that meant.  Is it too late to time-travel back and save that kid’s innocence?

I’m almost finished with The Compass Rose by Ursula K. LeGuin, another one of her short story collections.  LeGuin seems to create and destroy worlds with the cavalier disregard of someone who knows there’s plenty more where that came from.  Her creativity seems inexhaustible.  The inside of her head must look like the universe on fast-forward, with an endless stream of planets, each frighteningly unique and devastatingly fascinating, whizzing by faster than you can see.  The first story in this collection is available here online.  Go read it and tell me what you think.