Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Am Grateful For the Energy of Attraction

I have not yet written out the story (read: epic tale) of how the evil overlords (read: HOA) of our condos plan to poison my building in the (self)interest of ousting a bunch of termites at the cost of everyone's health. To them I say: In case you hadn't noticed, this is SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ladies. Termites are a given (or so I've read/heard/experienced). You may win the battle, but you will never win the war. Best you can do is keep giving them stuff to eat outside, so live cleanly and we can all prosper.

Regardless... The Sheeple are determined to poison my home so I am packing my shit to move out for two to five days. What a colossal waste of time, but grudgingly I admit at the same time it's not a waste at all. It is an opportunity to purge and pass on the outmoded, outdated, OMG-I-didn't-realize-I-still-had-that items in my life and I should be grateful. And I would be, if there were no poison involved. Of course, if there were no poison, I would not be packing, therefore I would be playing the procrastination game just like any other day. Sometimes it sucks to be aware of your own faults.

As there are always reasons to be grateful tho, I can tell you that I am grateful to not have a job at this particular moment because it means I can pack (sort of) at my leisure. In theory, this would mean I started packing two months ago when I was first informed of this potential health hazard. In reality, it means I've once again waited until I'm up against the clock (even after getting it postponed for a month!) and I'm now going through stuff to get the most important or what will be most affected out by next weekend. Thank goodness for the last minute or nothing would ever get done around here.

Today I decided to pack my books because they're easy, which is always appealing to the eternal procrastinator. I have a few antique volumes I've gathered from various places, and this particular one that inspired me to stop and post here was Harper's Fourth Reader, copyright 1888. I've never actually read this book - received it as a gift for helping with an estate sale - but thumbing through it just now I found it is, ironically, a type of textbook published for use in a classroom back in the day when Bonsall's schoolhouse was new and shiny, and women as old as I am were spinsters with little hope of marrying before they dropped dead. I mean seriously... 42 years old and no husband? Holy crap, you must be ugly or a shrew, and aren't you even lucky to still wake up on the top side of the grass at that age?! Good luck with that.

Anyway, I thought it was amusing that after spending all that time working at Pearson putting out today's college textbooks (which contained info I learned in high school - what's up with that? Dumb it down much?), two of the volumes that snuck into my library through no effort of my own were 123-year-old textbooks themselves (I have Harper's Third Reader as well, also copyright 1888). How can people disbelieve the energy of attraction with such glaring examples?

Other things I found amusing about these books... there is a Publisher's Note in the front of each book. For one thing, I consider myself in possession of a pretty decent vocabulary, but I actually had to look up two words because I didn't know their definitions, so apparently the Readers are still good at teaching people to read a century later. They just don't make 'em like they used to.

Also, I love "antique marketing"... in an attempt to convince teachers (or so it seems) that the new Readers are the best ever, they say, "They have been prepared with special reference to the practical work of the school-room. These pages are not encumbered with useless matter." Well thank goodness for that because I'm not so sure today's textbooks can say the same. Seriously.

Another good chuckle: "...It is desirable, rather, to improve the child's intellectual capacity by giving him lessons a little in advance of his present attainments, than to stultify his understanding and insult his intelligence by a strained effort to make every exercise appear child-like and easy."

Sure wish THAT was still the policy in schools these days!

stultify |ˈstəltəˌfī|verb ( stultifies, stultifying, stultified withobj. ](usu. as adj. stultifyingcause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, esp. as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine

Apparently, "lessons inculcating moral truths are of frequent occurrence. These lessons are such as will appeal at once to the child's better nature and strengthen his love for right-doing. Lessons intended to cultivate an appreciation of the wonderful and the beautiful in nature, and to introduce the pupil to a knowledge of the achievements of science and art, are given due prominence."

Would that today's learning materials inculcated more moral truths, a love for right-doing, and an appreciation for nature! Perhaps we wouldn't be destroying the planet as fast as we are.

inculcate |inˈkəlˌkātˈinkəl-|verb [ with obj. ]instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction
Last, the best part... the publisher actually thanks the editor, a couple instrumental people, and the teachers that contributed for pulling the book together, not the other way around.

My how times have changed.