Observations, Learning, and Activities for the New "Over 21s"

Archive for August, 2015

Thoughts on “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee


All the negative publicity about Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, and all for naught. Does the book address racism? Yes. Is it a racist book? Absolutely not. Appropriate of the time in which it was written? Oh, yes.

Two-thirds into reading the book, I was waiting for the racism to appear. It finally did, but it did not at all conflict with anything in To Kill a Mockingbird. That’s all I can say about the book in case my readers haven’t read it yet. However, judging from the amount of summary-and-analysis type books available on Amazon, there are probably many different opinions and interpretations of the book.

When you read it, remember that it was written before the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, despite the fact that it takes place almost 2 decades later. My suspicion is that the publisher thought it would be better to fill in the background information–like the trial and all that occurred that had been connected to the trial–so that readers would understand the content of this book.

What I can say is that, although this book is well-written and there were apparently no changes made to the original manuscript (unless I’ve read the reviews incorrectly), To Kill a Mockingbird was better written, reflecting the author’s writing maturity and careful editorial suggestions. Personally, I enjoyed the book and wish all the hype about it hadn’t been stirred up before it was released. I had pre-ordered the book, and then was reluctant to read it after all the negativity about racism in the novel. When I finally read it, I found myself looking for hidden and overt racism. It’s not like it didn’t exist during the time period, so I wound my brain back to the time when racism was still running rampant in the North as well as the South–the time before all the metropolitan race riots during the 1960s. I read the book within the context of historical knowns and even unspoken prejudice of the Northern university town in which I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s. The book is true to the time period, but it also makes a strong statement about how people in the South viewed their communities during this time period. Just as the book exposes both subtle and overt racism, it also opens the mind to subtle and overt anti-racism, as well as the “in-between” attitudes coexisting with the polarities.

Now that I know that the hype was primarily generated by loud readers who either never finished the book–or never even cracked the cover (physical or electronic)–I am going to read the book again with a more free and more open mind to the author’s words and thoughts.

Go Set a Watchman will probably never reach the readership and importance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but it deserves to be read with an open mind and an eye to a very tumultuous historical period in the US’s recent past.


Feeling Good!

It is amazing how much power a little pill can have. Pritiq

About five weeks ago, I recognized that I was depressed. The next day, I went to see my doctor to discuss antidepressants. He prescribed Pristiq. For almost twenty-two years (since 1990), I was on one antidepressant after another, many of which just made me more depressed. A bit more than three years ago, my doctor took me off antidepressants and put me on Adderall for hyperactivity, since I hadn’t been able to keep my mind on one thing since I was a kid. And back then, hyperactivity wasn’t even a diagnosed problem–it may not even have been recognized as a medical issue.

In my early twenties, a doctor put me on Valium because he thought I was, in his words, “burning the candle at both ends.” The medication calmed me down enough so that I could increase my focus and do even more. What can I say? I tend to have paradoxical reactions to a lot of medications.

Anyway, the Adderall really helped with my concentration and focus more than the antidepressants ever had. But when I came here to St Maarten, the doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, since only they can diagnose and prescribe medications for hyperactivity here. And she does not believe I’m hyperactive. But then, she didn’t seem to notice how deep into depression I had sunk, either, so…

Whether or not I had ever used Pristiq in the past, I can’t remember–I had been on so many different antidepressants during those 22 years that I’ve lost track of which I had used, which helped a bit for a little while before depressing me again, which took me further into the abyss from the start. However, my response to this drug, this time was nothing short of amazing. Within two and a half weeks of starting it, I realized that I am happy and feeling like “the real me” for the first time in forever. So how have I marked this amazing transformation? I’ve thrown myself into all sorts of tasks, of course, with glee and the feeling that I might actually complete some of them.

For the past few weeks, I have been concentrating (well, on and off) on building a web store–not an easy task when one is not as computer savvy as one believes she ought to be, and is clueless about how to set up an e-commerce site even with tremendous tutorials. But I’m learning a lot as I’m building it, and will hopefully soon have it open for business. This was so much easier to do 20 years ago when I designed and set up my first web site for a friend of mine. Computing was so much more straightforward back then. Now I have to learn brand new stuff, as though I had never worked with computing before. (sigh)

In the meantime, I am still trying to focus some time each day on my art–drawing and oil painting–but having difficulty with that because the web store is constantly in my mind and nagging me to finish it. It may take some time for me to get back into the swing of daily art sessions, especially since my instructor is vacationing in France through the month of October, and there are no weekly “homework assignments” for me to meet. So you might say that I am trying to throw some “artistic endeavor” into the web site. I’ll write more about my store when I finally get it set up. Interestingly, since the theme comes with a blog attached to it, I also wonder if I’ll have enough hours in the day to keep up with all my blogging–that one and my two main blogs here at WordPress which I’ve been neglecting. It’s been weeks since I posted anything serious on my Write of Passage blog, and I’m way too far behind in the current plans I have for it. But I’ll be getting back to it soon enough, and hopefully feeling more of a sense of accomplishment as I actually complete one task at a time.

[Hmm. Maybe that’s the key–completing one thing at a time. I’ve never been able to do that in the past, but I can try again.]

Life is good. All thanks to that little pill.

Well, back to work on my shopping site!

…Or maybe I’ll take the time to do a painting lesson from a book I have first…


Taking the Plunge to Windows 10

I’ve taken the plunge.

Yep. I upgraded to Windows 10. I don’t know yet whether I like it or not. Although I can’t get rid of the new browser (Edge) that comes with the package, I was able to download Chrome and set it up as my default internet program without the hassle that has been predicted by the PC literati. It took less than 5 minutes to do, and it was relatively straightforward. I just clicked on the “old” Chrome icon on my task bar, and was immediately directed to a screen that asked me if I wanted to download Chrome. I wasn’t sure what to do about that—I mean, there was Chrome sitting on my screen—but I went for the download and discovered that there is a newer version specifically upgraded to interact with Windows 10. The best part is that it came with a simple demo of setting up Chrome as the default browser. Piece of cake once the new version of Chrome was installed. And all my previous settings came right along with me! Hooray!! I may have problems with Google on other issues, but Chrome is definitely not one of them. See? It still looks exactly like it did before the upgrade (except when I first start it up, that is…).

Chrome Screenprint

Chrome Screenprint

So easy! Except that it took forever to download Windows 10, it is definitely an improvement over Windows 8. Time to play around with it–even with Edge to see if it’s an improvement over IE…

That’s all I have to say today.

This lil’ ole lady is feeling more tech-savvy today than she has in a long time!!