Tag Archives: Reading

Joyful Reading

2013-Dig-Into-mini-poster-PPL

Read this sentence.

Okay, now see that same sentence without reading it. That is, only see lines and curves and closed spaces. Hard, isn’t it? Maybe impossible. It’s far easier to read it. So much so, when you see the sentence “Read this sentence”, you can’t help but see it as something to be read, and automatically do so.

In fact, as you are reading this blog, it is likely that you are hardly noticing the individual letters as your brain —  like with no longer seeing lines and curves and enclosed spaces unless specifically asked to do so — automatically perceives whole words (or more!) instead.

Stop and consider how bizarre yet wonderful that is. Once we learn how to read, and especially read well, it becomes so entrenched in our mental processing we scarcely notice this altogether extraordinary achievement.

And it is an achievement. It is something you didn’t possess at birth and had to be learned. A likely part of that learning involved folks reading to you and, if all went well, cultivating delight in the written word and all that it offers.

Today I had the pleasure of experiencing that early period of childhood development first hand. Starting my volunteering for Outreach at the Kellogg Hubbard Library, I went with its program veteran Ray to take books to All Together Now Community Arts Center for the preschool it operates.

The kids, mostly two- and three-years-olds, greeted our arrival with enthusiasm. We spread out the books we’d brought on the floor and they raced from book to book, looking for the one that appealed the most to them.

We adults — myself, Ray, and several staff — did not have to cajole the kids to engage them in this form of childhood learning. We simply sat on the floor or in chairs as the kids clustered around us with their prized findings and ongoing pleas of “can you read this next?”

The joy in reading and being read to was palpable, appreciated, and welcomed.

Yet far too often as we grow older, the want to of it metamorphoses into have to. ironically, this seems to happen as reading becomes so easy, so entrenched that it becomes a taken-for-granted feature. Perversely, it also seems to happen during the course of school years, where reading gets drained of its inherent wonder and becomes just another task; a chore.

How do we fix that?

Or, maybe a better question, is why do we let it break?

Ninth Place

I ended up in ninth place at the Cabin Fever Spelling Bee on Saturday.

I know this because my husband diligently kept track. I must admit such knowledge made me feel pretty darn good about my performance. Maybe not as good as winning would have, but with my bar set on the floor at “please don’t let me be the first one out,” the losing felt like a win.

Still, I lost on a stupid word.

Pomegranate.

Well, to be fair, I reckon the word itself isn’t stupid. I love language far too much to slander any contribution to it, even rather bizarre new entries like twerk or old ones from my generation like tubular.

But still, from a thinking about thinking viewpoint, the misspelling possessed a couple of levels of most curious mental freezing.

The first was with the word itself. Although I occasionally get paid for writing, it’s not yet been the kind of paid that extinguishes the necessity of having to eke out a living by doing all sorts of non-writing things. One of my current such eke’s is stocking groceries, which includes handling a yogurt with the aforementioned fruit on the bottom.

I must have seen that word hundreds upon hundreds of times, yet I couldn’t spell it when called upon to do so.

The second was with what I actually did spell.

I spelled the last part g-r-a-n-i-t-e. Which may have been influenced by us now living in Vermont, but still…  even as I spelled it that way I knew it was wrong; I just couldn’t think of the right way. Yet, where did this feeling of wrong come from, if I ostensibly did not know the right way of spelling for such a comparison to be made?

A reasonable answer would be that it was not a case of merely not knowing, but more a case of not being able to bring that knowing up to the conscious level. It might seem here that the shorter sentence of I couldn’t recall would suffice and mean roughly the same thing as my more verbose sentence with all its nots.

But it doesn’t and doesn’t.

For recall makes it sound like the conscious part is the only part involved in thinking; like we reach into our bag of memories and mental whatnots, and once we do, once we make the retrieval, that is where thought happens.

But thinking is what our brain — our entire brain — does, 24/7. We are thinking whether or not we think we are thinking. Sometimes, though, all those thinking parts aren’t always the best at communicating with one another.

So the part that thought about granite, compared it to its no doubt knowledge of the correct spelling of pomegranate, and finally advised, nope, that’s not right, failed to take that extra step and provide the correct spelling to what we typically refer to as consciousness.

Although frustrating at times, subconscious thinking is one of the things that makes writing so fun for me. Even when I plan, I never know for sure what will come out; what the unconscious parts of me will think is important enough to nudge me in that creative direction.

For instance, when I started this blog entry, I thought I intended to write about the weirdness of how things are spelled and pronounced in English, hoping to have an excuse to use The Tough Coughs As He Ploughs the Dough by Dr. Seuss in such a discussion.

Or at least use the word gallimaufry, which is a neat word that I had never heard before and the person sitting next to me spelled correctly. She knew it as the title of a book on obscure words she had recently received. It means a confused jumble or medley of things.

But all’s well that thinks well and I included both anyway, appearances of gallimaufry notwithstanding.

Kindling

My Kindle has been unpredictable of late, so I thought I’d write about that.

Which of course means I’m writing only partly about my capricious Kindle. For anything worth writing about should have lots of parts. So many parts that, if you are lucky or brilliant or both, readers will stuff their pockets full of them and share them with their neighbors.

But I’m neither brilliant nor lucky, so I’m not expecting much and you shouldn’t either. Still, maybe together we can beat expectations.

I reckon, though, before I continue, I should say something about the neither above, which is partly untrue. The lucky part I mean.

I feel lucky to have a Kindle, as I know lots of people don’t have one and some of that lots might be jealous. If it makes any of those lots of people feel any better, what I don’t have anymore are: my Dungeons and Dragons collection, CD collection, and most of my books. If it doesn’t make anyone feel any better, I can’t say that I blame them, as I can’t say it makes me feel any better either.

But it is what it is, or close enough, and at this time the is is that I have a Kindle that sometimes doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. Instead, during that sometimes, I’ll get an inexplicable Authentication Failed error. Which is highly annoying in part because I know darn well it has connected — authenticated — before.

The other annoying part is hearing my husband say as he peers over his own kindle, “Hmm. Mine’s connecting just fine.”

So I did some research and found, despite my husband’s carefree experience, I wasn’t alone.

Which only made me feel a little better. It would have made me feel a lot better if that wasn’t alone had been accompanied by a fix. Instead, there were assorted halfhearted suggestions of which the general consensus was that they may or may not work, which really doesn’t require a consensus, does it?

Still, I did one of the first suggestions I came across and de-registered my kindle. That just left me unregistered as well as unconnected and now of course with no ability to re-register. Some of the suggestions went technically over my head while others made me hesitant to try as my PC was still connecting okay and I didn’t want to do something that would screw that up.

I especially didn’t want to make some kind of router reconfiguration code change that might not work and even worse could lead to my husband saying, “What the [expletive] did you do?” as his carefree shifted considerably towards new found caring.

So, after also doing a shut down and a reset, both before and after de-registering, I decided to take another lukewarm suggestion and do a factory restore. But I couldn’t do one at that precise moment because Kindle has to have an over 40% charge to do so and at that exact moment in time it didn’t.

Sometime during the wait for it to get above the magical 40%, it started magically connecting again. It’s failed again since then. And also connected again since then.

I did some more peace of mind research and found that a) Kindles sometimes have this kind of problem b) Amazon currently has no universal fix and, c) Kindles sometimes fix the problem on their own.

The sometimes of both a) and b) has no rhyme or reason to it, which make things difficult for someone like me, who is very fond of both rhyme and reason (as well as sound and sense). For it means it will likely happen — or not happen — regardless of what I do.

That is, I must conclude that doing nothing would likely get the same results as doing something.

But I I’m not wired that way and find no serenity to be had in being granted such wisdom. Instead, It just makes me feel all the more helpless and even more so the fool.