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Archive for January, 2008

Superstitions?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently and I noticed my palm was itching. Growing up, my mother always told me that if your palm itches, it means you’re going to come into money. That led to a longer discussion about the origins of these kinds of things. I don’t know whether to call them old wives’ tales, superstitions or urban legends.

My mother was primarily raised by her Eastern European grandparents. Here are a few of the things I heard a lot growing up:

It’s bad luck to leave a house from a different door than the one you used to enter it.

If you drop a piece of silverware, you will have an unexpected visitor: A knife means a man, a fork means a woman and a spoon means a child.

If your nose itches, you are going to kiss a fool.

It’s bad luck to say thank you when someone hands you a sharp object such as a knife or a pair of scissors.

If two people walking together walk on opposite sides of an object taller than their head(s), they will get in an argument.

I did a little research to try to find the origins of these things. A quick search found a bunch of sites listing them, though I didn’t find much in the way of sources — but I guess that’s why these are called superstitions! There probably isn’t a whole lot of reason or logic — just things that get repeated over time.

Here are a few sites to check out for more: Superstitions and Old Wives Tales; Old Superstitions.com; Unusual Trivia Collection.

I did learn that the itchy palm thing is a little more precise: If your right palm itches, you’re going to come into money — if you don’t scratch it (It was my right palm that was itching, but I scratched, so I guess no money for me). If your left palm itches, you’re going to lose money.

Any favorites of your own to add?

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Not So Magic Kingdom

I watched the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean on Saturday night. It’s almost three hours long, and that’s at least an hour too much. There was no re-cap from the second movie, so I watched the whole thing really without knowing at all what was going on. I just never got engaged in it, and I was trying to figure out why.

The movie starts with a crackdown on piracy and a long row of pirates climbing up to gallows. They show a couple of groups walk up, you see the noose go around their neck and then a shot of the executioner pulling a lever and feet dropping below the surface (by the way, according to the Internet Movie Database, this style of hanging wasn’t invented until many years after the time period depicted in the movie). Then a group with a young boy walks up. He’s obviously too short to reach the noose, so the hangman pulls over a barrel and you see him set the boy on the barrel. The movie then goes to black as the opening credits roll and you hear the sound of the lever.

I have this feeling poor Walt Disney is rolling over in his grave. Really? A Disney movie that starts with the suggestion that a child is going to be hung? It’s not that all Disney movies need to be sweetness and light (there’s a lot of death in the cartoons — Bambi’s mother, Dumbo’s mother, etc.). But there was no reason within the story of Pirates of the Caribbean for a child to be shown on a gallows. I think it really affected the way I felt about the whole movie; I just had this weird feeling all the way through watching it.

The special effects, however, are stunning. As a purely visual experience, the movie really stands out. If you want to see the latest in special effects, give it a try. But you might want to just fast forward until the opening credits are done.

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The Library of Congress just put 3,000 of its images up on Flickr. Now, they need to be tagged to be truly useful. But just browsing is amazing. There’s a set of over 1,600 photos from the 1930s and 1940s in color. Very, very cool.

Via Lifehacker2179038448_f6574e780c.jpg

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Resolutions

Okay, so it’s a little late to be making resolutions. Actually, I’ve already made this one — it just took me awhile to blog about it.

I’m going to try to get a better handle on my finances this year. Specifically, I want to reduce my debt. Those credit card bills are just too high. I don’t have any problems paying them off; in fact, I usually pay more than the minimum to help pay off the balance quicker. But I can’t seem to get ahead.

One of the things I’m doing is tracking every expense $5.00 or over. I started tracking all the books I read, so why not track expenses? This will allow me to see where I’m spending money over time. And give me some kind of data so maybe next year I can actually plan a budget. The odd thing is that I used to be a project manager. I managed an $8 million project and came in under budget. So I know how to do it. It just seems like work — and that’s the thing, it is work. But imagine the downsides if you don’t do it.

I’m also going to start selling items on eBay. I’ve got a collection of miscellaneous stuff all over the house. I’ve started to collect it in one room so I can catalog it. Probably won’t make a huge dent. But at the very least it will help declutter the house a bit.

I’m hoping that writing about this will help me stick to my resolution.

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Reading Year in Review

I had all sorts of ideas about pithy end-of-year thoughts and New Year’s resolutions to post over the last couple of days — only to be felled by a nasty head cold that kept me in bed for the last four days of my break. And today I’m back at work. Where did those two weeks ago?

I did want to do a quick recap of my reading in 2007. Last year was the first year that I started keeping track of what I read and I’m glad I did. I wouldn’t have remembered half of them if I hadn’t written them down.

I read 47 books (the list currently has 46, but I’m going to count Reading Lolita in Tehran as my 47th, as the bulk was read in 2007). Since I’ve never kept track before, I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. Judging from other book blogs I read, I think it’s a little on the low side. Too much TV!

I read all seven of the Harry Potter novels last year. I had been avoiding them for years simply because of the hype. But I suddenly decided they needed more attention, especially when my sister kept talking about them. She doesn’t read much fiction, so I know these had to be good to keep her attention. I enjoyed them very much and know that they will definitely stand up to re-reading many times.

Probably the most eye-opening one was The Introvert Advantage. If you are an introvert, you really do need to read this book. It makes so many things much more clear about why we behave they way we do (note: it’s all perfectly normal).

I took a little trip back in time with some of Stephen King’s early writing. His first novels and short stories were some of my earliest “adult” reading, and it was interesting to read them again more than 20 years later.

With some foot dragging, I also read some more modern fiction. Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates and Cormac McCarthy were all new authors for me in 2007.

Is there some grand statement here? I don’t think so. My tastes are pretty eclectic. In addition to the above, I also read two books about the Mafia, a biography of Chairman Mao, a couple of chick lit titles and a local author who actually reads my blog (Colleen Gleason’s The Rest Falls Away).

I have no doubt that 2008 will be equally as all over the map. Do I have any plans? Not really, although the more I think about it, the idea is tempting. I am planning on a group read of Team of Rivals, which I’m really looking forward to. And I think I need to read another Dickens title this year. I haven’t read him in years and I’ve got a significant way to go to get through the rest of them. They are always a major investment in time, but well worth it in the end.

More later on some of those New Year’s resolutions.

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