Thursday, November 01, 2018

What I Learned in October

In October I tried to keep a better list of things I've learned. It's a strange conglomeration of stray items.

I did a translation of someone's official educational records from French to English, including course descriptions, and since he has a degree in Business Finance, this involved learning terms in French for many technical accounting terms whose meaning I have no idea of in English. So that was brain-stretching and oddly entertaining in a nerdy way.

I listened to some podcasts about clothing, which were quite fascinating and which you can find here. Did you know the concept of Casual Friday originated in Hawaii, where people wear Hawaiian shirts (or what they call Aloha shirts) on Fridays? I didn't.

Mid-month, we had some visitors who were in Haiti doing training in broadcast journalism, and when they came over for dinner I learned a lot about that field and how people are trained for it. I always love being introduced to a brand-new-to-me world like that.

I read this horrifying article about the new airport they are building in New Orleans in spite of the apparently certain fact that it won't be long before New Orleans is underwater. "This," the author concludes, "is an airport for the end of the world." This article made me think of a book I read a few years ago about kids in a post-apocalyptic New Orleans of the (apparently nearer than I thought) future. The book was Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, and I went looking for more books by this author after I had bathed my brain in depressing information by reading about present-day New Orleans. The library didn't have the sequel, The Drowned Cities (yeah, I know), but I was able to get the third one, Tool of War, which is not at all my type of book, but which I enjoyed immensely. (It was one of those times, like when I read the Passage series by Justin Cronin a few years ago, about a vampire virus and the end of the world, that I started to wonder if I am even fully aware what my type of book is.) It seems counter-intuitive that reading a novel about the horrible, dystopian effects of climate change would cheer me up, but you have to think that if human beings are able to imagine and create like that, maybe we're not quite so doomed as the news makes it sound like we are. I also tried another Bacigalupi title, this one about the former United States being split into many different countries, all fighting one another over water (The Water Knife), but that one was a little too depressing and I didn't finish it. From Bacigalupi I learned the world arcology, which at first I thought was his own creation, like the lower-case word orleans, a generic name for drowned city, but it's actually an archeological term, and you can read more about that here.

In a similar vein, I learned things I didn't want to know about plastic from the news, including reading a story (to which I will not link) about how there's plastic even in our digestive systems, as though we were goats eating whatever we can find at the garbage dump.

I'm sure I learned other things too, but the list petered out there, as Spirit Week led into the end of the month, and tune in next month to see what I learn in November!

(Here's what I learned in September, and that post includes links to all my other "What I Learned" posts from this year.)

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