Enough to get in trouble

In my continuing efforts to not go crazy while seeking a meaningful job in my chosen career, I’ve been studying Spanish. Mike is joining me on this, but he has the not unimportant distinction of already having taken Spanish, so I treat him as my resident expert. We’ve only completed two lessons in the textbook, but I’ve learned enough to be able to begin eavesdropping on everyone in my neighborhood. This was my major goal, since after all, I know enough Romance languages to make out signs.

For instance, the other day on the bus, a woman was enthusiastically talking to a man, and I assumed they were friends. But then when she got off the bus, she said “Mucho gusto!” to him. I turned to Mike and asked, “So when that lady said ‘Mucho gusto’, did that mean they just met on the bus, or could you say that other times?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

This is where him being my resident Spanish expert gets me into trouble. Afterward, I looked it up, and it seems that they really did just meet on the bus.

I should try to mind my own business, but my own business is kind of dull right now.

What I've been reading lately

What I’ve been reading lately #1

ThunderstruckErik Larson makes me glad that I don’t live in Victorian or Edwardian times, no matter how cunning the hats of the time were. The fact that the hats were even necessary speaks for itself, I suppose.

I think everyone in the world read Devil in the White City, so you don’t need an explanation for that, but this is basically the same concept: technological marvel meets grisly murder in a compelling combination that for me, personally, is a page turner. This book tells about the marvel of wireless technology in its early days through the personal story of Marconi, alongside the exploits and personal story of the murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen. If you’ve never heard of Crippen, that’s probably a good thing, because you won’t be disappointed by his grisliness. I had been led to believe by Lord Peter Wimsey that Crippen was much ghastlier than he turned out to be. Oh well, it was still pretty disgusting.

I saw some low star reviews on Amazon that said the story was dry and boring with too much set up and not enough story telling. This is true, as far as it goes, but for many among us, the dry and boring set up is actually more interesting than the novelistic elements. I borrowed the book from my dad who found the audio book fascinating but too packed with names and dates to really follow the historical elements properly. I can see that, though I only can follow Victorian melodramatic novels (British, American, or Russian) in audio book format so that I have a clue who is who based on the narrator’s voices for the characters.

BetterI haven’t quite finished this yet, but I love New Yorker medical writers, and so there’s no way that I couldn’t read all of Atul Gawande’s books at some point or other. Whether or not you have any interest in reading this book, if you have any vile human curiosity or voyeuristic tendencies (and what sane person doesn’t?) you’ll drop everything and instantly read Gawande’s piece in the New Yorker about itching. This article is so good that Mike and I had one of our first married person’s quarrels about my reading pieces of it out loud to him.

What the theme of Better seems to be is how to be a “positive deviant”– to do the right thing even when it’s hard and few others are doing it. This is something that I heartily recommend myself, and frankly seems like an excellent talking point to bring to say, a job interview or college admissions essay. You can thank me later.


What not to blog

I don’t know how people looked for jobs before the internet, but I bet they used the same stalling techniques I like to use (spying on people in a busy and occasionally dangerous city neighborhood is one of my favorites–it’s “sociology”). One thing that I’ve noticed a lot through looking for a job on the internet is that people can be very indiscreet with “OMG no one will ever hire me” blog posts, or “OMG I’m so misunderstood” forum posts. It’s long been known that you should not post evidence of your criminal activities on MySpace. My feeling is that I’m pretty good at finding nutty stuff people have put on the internet, and I personally have not hired people for their nutty stuff put on the internet. Hopefully I’ve not broken my own rules too many times.

I’m going to read this white paper pretty soon, but I’m too scared for right now.