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text 2015-09-08 00:04
The Hobbit Ch.2
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien,Alan Lee

For now I just want to write a bit about what struck me most and anything else I'll post on the discussion page- I think that's how I want to do all these posts. It's hard to believe there can be so much to look into in just a chapter, but there totally is! This first paragraph is pretty rambly, fair warning. Image credits: [img1][img 2&3]

The beginning of Chapter 2 really resonates with me. Bilbo wakes up to a mess in his kitchen, evidence of the strange events which took place the night before. Even though at the end of the Chapter 1 it seems that Bilbo has become a bit more determined, we as readers are sort of prepared for what comes the next morning.

I think we've all witnessed this before, in ourselves or in our friends- we gather and start talking and everyone gets excited about having an adventure like getting up early and going to some cool event, or we talk about moving somewhere we've always wanted to live, or start making plans to find a better job or travel with money saved instead of buying a new lawnmower or couch or whatever stupid thing... in that moment of excitement and wanting to do something different and adventurous and even risky, we're completely serious. We are willing to make the sacrifices and do the work to make it happen. And then we all go home and go to bed and the morning comes... and we all wake up in our comfy rooms, settled into our comfy lives and suddenly these adventures, as rewarding as they may have seemed in an inspiring moment of determination the night before, seem next to impossible- and certainly far less "comfortable" than the lives we already have.

After having those same reservations and ending up adventuring a little bit myself, I often wish I could be as badass as Gandalf and just bust up into my friends' houses the morning after a hangout and force them out the door. 

I'm really enjoying listening to Corey Olsen's lectures after I read the chapters. I have always had trouble explaining what makes a story like The Hobbit so good- I always just say "It's the literary art of it!". As Prof. Olsen mentions, through the two sides of Bilbo, the Baggins side and the Took side, Tolkien is able to show the story from two very distinct viewpoints at the same time. This is what gives it more depth than your average fantasy novel. We never just "accept the adventure blindly"- we always have the "down-to-earth Baggins side" to make us feel like we have an ally in this world, someone who sees things somewhat the same as us. 


“I wouldn’t risk it, I really wouldn’t.”

I love the humor of this chapter. The trolls are threatening and their talk of eating people is scary, but they're not horrifying. Their stupidity takes away from the seriousness of the threat they pose- even as you're thinking about how awful it would be to be made into a pie for these disgusting creatures, you also can't really see them being able to accomplish such a thing in between all their arguing. It goes back to what Prof. Olsen mentioned in his lecture on Ch. 1- Tolkien doesn't want to shield his young readers from death and pain, but he doesn't want to terrify them either. The trolls are the perfect introduction to the potential dangers of this magical world. I love the way Gandalf saves them- the very first fight they encounter they win (or rather, Gandalf wins) with wit, not weapons or strength. Also, I found their names to be very humorous- you don't expect a magical creature like a troll to have a name like Bill or Tom.

That's it for now, sorry it's kind of choppy but hey, it's a holiday. It's okay to be lazy.
Hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day, I know a lot of people probably still have to work... and if you're not in the US, hopefully you're just enjoying your Monday. :]


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url 2015-08-10 22:15
'Sherlocking' - the basics (pt.2)

So we’ve briefly covered learning how to ‘pay attention better’ and how to overcome our biases in order to properly observe. The next step is applying what you already know to your observations.

When deducing, there’s a lot you have to be able to quickly recall. Remember, we only know what we can remember at any given point. When you’re Sherlocking on your own (i.e. researching body language, helpful facts, observation skills, etc) and you need to remember something the best thing to do is to make it come alive, the way Sherlock does when he ‘goes to his mind palace’ in The Hound of the Baskervilles episode.



It seems silly, but making a fact come alive with stories and gestures is much more effective than just repeating it to yourself over and over. The more cues, the more likely retrieval will work. If you’ve ever had to cram for an exam you may have used this technique without even realizing it- I remember I would often have to resort to reading a note card out loud in a funny voice in order to retain certain facts my brain was just refusing to take in. 
(I’m going to make a separate post about mind palaces later since they’re pretty advanced, imo. Also there’s already a lot of helpful posts about them, like the one where I found the above .gif, which can be found here.)

When practicing deduction, always have a goal. No one can pay attention to everything, all the time. It will take years of practice to be anywhere near an actual Sherlock level of observation, so for now it’s important to pick specific things to observe. For example, you may want to figure out if someone you’ve just met is right or left handed. Focus on the details that you think will help you figure that out based on the knowledge you already have. 

I just started Sherlocking a few weeks ago, and already I am noticing that I’m better at consciously directing my attention and I’m able to pick up on body language more easily. Basically all I’ve been doing is searching the internet for tips, reading Mastermind, and practicing.
I think the best practice to start off with is to pick something to notice each day. For example, one day I decided I was going to look for red shoes- I saw 12 pairs walking from one end of the mall to the other. It sounds stupid but simply being aware like that instead of having your face in your phone is really great beginning practice.

So hopefully I did an alright job of putting together an introduction to Sherlocking. I know this blog is supposed to be only for bookstuff so I wont post too much more about deduction on here, but I thought it was neat enough to share... and I got most of my information from Mastermind anyway, so it works. 
Thanks for reading! <3

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text 2015-08-09 21:18
‘Sherlocking’- the basics (pt. 1)

[This post is from my tumblr page, and it looks a lot better there. I didn't want to just link it though because I know no one will care to click the link and this is actually really cool and something I'm pretty proud of. :D] 

So, recently I started watching Sherlock… which led to reading the stories… which led to buying a book called Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes… which turned into an obsession with his methods and practicing them myself. Every day at work I study how to read people and pay attention better. It’s a fascinating hobby that is actually really good brain exercise, and learning how to read body language and pay attention to detail is extremely useful when looking for jobs or attending social events. Aside from Mastermind, I have been using some dedicated reddit and tumblr pages as well as random other pages to help with my studies, and I have found some really great information. However, a lot of the pages are no longer active or can be hit or miss as far as content goes, and I’ve found myself sifting through pages of what I consider to be largely useless information to find pertinent posts (woo, alliteration!). SO, I’m gonna do a thing. I never say “once a week I’ll…” because, let’s face it, I still have no discipline; but let’s say “here and there” I will post bits and pieces of advice and information for people who would like to make deduction a helpful hobby of their own. I have a pretty good outline of notes and whatnot, so we can start from the beginning...

First of all, I very much recommend Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, because there’s a lot you need to know about how your brain works in order to teach it to properly observe, and she does an amazing job of concisely explaining all that… but skipping over the neuroscience, I’ll do my best to start off with some simple advice for beginning to acquire Sherlocking (deduction) skills.

Basically, the goal is to learn to ‘pay attention better’- to stop and think about what you’re paying attention to, what information you’re taking in, how you’re processing it, and what you might be missing.  
(For example, when Sherlock first meets Watson and remarks that he has been in Afghanistan, one of the things that had caught his attention was Watson’s tan, something clearly not representative of London’s climate. That one detail opens up a whole world of possibilities that Sherlock narrows down by pairing that observation with others- no tan above the wrists, haggard appearance, military bearing, etc to figure out what he does and where he was stationed.)
In order learn to pay attention properly, Konnikova points out two essentials:mindfulness and motivation. You have to be present, and you have to want to pay attention. ‘Our minds are wired to wander, it’s their default; the brain is constantly gathering information from both the external world and our internal states and monitoring that information for signs of something that is worth its attention. Getting your mind not to wander requires an act of conscious will.’ Being able to properly observe also means being aware of and overcoming all sorts of biases.

The next step is applying what you know to your observations… which you will find in ‘Sherlocking’- the basics (pt.2), which is queued up and will be up shortly!
Thanks for reading, fellow nerds. <3


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