The Brain-Attic

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A food takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful [sic] workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a huge assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” ~ Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet.

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The Alternative: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness by Elena Upton, Ph.D.

This review was written for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.

“The Alternative: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness” by Elena Upton
Fifth Element Press (2019) 2nd Edition
3.5 / 5

“The Alternative: Your Family’s Guide to Wellness” is a book by Elena Upton, Ph.D., a classically trained Homeopath. It contains the usual disclaimers for health-related books. The type-face that’s been used seems particularly small and at times was difficult to read, but there is plenty of white-space, so that does help.

The first few chapters of the book focus on the history and implementation of natural medicine and some of its different disciplines. Of particular interest is “How Did We Get Here?” which deals with the 1908 report by Abraham Flexner, commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation to study medical schools in the United States. It’s alleged that, within a few years of its publication, the recommendations of the report were responsible for the demise of not only most of the medical schools in the U.S. (those that weren’t affiliated with a University), but also most of the alternative medicine options. Also mentioned is the “Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973” which made health care in this country a for-profit enterprise.

While the book centers on homeopathy, there is some introductory information about Chinese medicine and acupuncture, naturopathy, and chiropractic and osteopathic processes. Most of the book is dedicated to setting forth the causes and symptoms of common maladies and injuries and the homeopathic remedies for them, but some of the entries include other types of treatment possibilities.

This is a great book for Inquiring Minds that Want to Know more about natural medicine, why it isn’t currently at the forefront of medical care in the U.S. like it is in the rest of the world, and some examples of how to implement it. But this book will also work for someone who already has an interest in homeopathy or other healing arts. There are actual remedy dosages listed in this book. I’ve read a lot of herbals and other books of natural and alternative medicine, and it’s refreshing to find this information actually put forth. It has to do with the nature of homeopathic remedies themselves — there’s pretty much no way you can hurt yourself with them and that’s the crux of the controversy.

I don’t know that homeopathy will every be my go-to medical route, but there’s a lot of information in this book that’s still useful and relatable. I’m very happy to have this book in my library.

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Make It Right by Ron Yates

Make it Right by Ron YatesThis review was written for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. I received a copy of this book from the author to review.

“Good fiction presents plausible problems. Chekhov maintained that the artist is not required to solve the problem but to correctly formulate it. I feel cheated when an author provides a tidy package without allowing me to participate in wrapping it up. I’d hate to deny my readers the opportunity of struggling with the problems I’ve formulated. In grappling with them, the reader will decide if they’ve been correctly formulated.”

When I saw these words in the preface, my heart sank. I don’t want to grapple with problems. I do that all day. When I settle in to read I want all the hard work done for me. I guess I want to be cheated with tidy packages. It’s also been my experience that when an author or screenwriter makes these claims, it usually feels like they were just lazy and couldn’t figure out how to finish the book or movie they were working on. I’m very relieved this wasn’t true of Ron Yates and these offerings.

I really enjoyed these stories and didn’t feel I was left hanging after finishing any of them. That’s not to say it was all over as soon as the last page was turned. I still find images and thoughts of most of these stories popping into my head at odd times, especially “I Sank the Mandolin.”

I love the way Ron Yates writes — direct and to the point — and his style was quite refreshing. There isn’t a word in these stories that doesn’t belong and make sense; no verbose scene-setting to skim through. But you still get that feeling of, say, exploring the old abandoned barn. And you still know enough about the characters to actually care about what happens to them, or to realize you have people in your own life who are just like that.

This is a short book and a quick, thought-provoking read.

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It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

What a great week! First, I heard from Professor Grote. And today, Jim Tirey, the brains behind Textkit!!

You always hope when you find that things have not changed for the better that there’s a happy reason. What a relief to know that’s true in this case. Not only that, but Jim was able to find the time to update the site and it looks great!


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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoI’m a little more than half-way through my first reading of this book and I’m so glad I didn’t read any of the reviews or the recommendations on my book sites before I started.

The reviews confuse me, and I’ll be taking a harder look at them after I’ve finished my own analysis. But what struck me in a cursory skimming of them is how negative they are. Not just that they didn’t like it, or wouldn’t read it again, or wouldn’t recommend it to friends — they HATED it! — and didn’t have very kind things to say about anyone who DID like it. I’d estimate five zealously negative reviews for every good one, which accounts for the 3-star (give or take) over-all rating.

Not a single one of my book sites thought I’d like this book. Interesting — maybe those algorithms aren’t as helpful as we’d like to think! Or maybe some of the books I have that would have tilted that scale haven’t been included in my book lists yet. I’m constantly finding some that I haven’t cataloged.

I obtained this book from a friend. It came up on my radar at least three times in a 24-hour period, which got my attention, so when she said she still had her copy and would find it for me, I took her up on it right away. She’s reliable when it comes to things like this, but apparently she brought it by within hours!

I started reading it that night. I was sold on the first page. Thirty pages into it, unlike most books, I knew it deserved more than one reading. It’s a quick read if you like, and at less than 200 pages you can get through it in one day if you’re so inclined. It has a “Sally, Dick and Jane” writing style, which I’m surprised doesn’t irritate me in this case. Actually, I was surprised it has a Lexile Measure of 910L — I expected it to be lower, though I *am* new to this measurement and don’t have a lot of experience with it as yet.

I should be finishing this up in a day or two. And I fully intend to read it at least once more. I might buy my own copy of it before then, however, as this one needs lots of scribbles, notes, highlighting and tags.

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An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones and William Wilson

An Incomplete Education

I wish I could remember where I picked this up. Might have been Hastings, but I get rid of their stickers as soon as possible because they put them in the most inconvenient places.

Anyway, I haven’t finished the book yet, but I probably never will. It will be a nightstand/end table fixture from now on.

This is the kind of book you just pick up on occasion and read random bits and pieces here and there. It really is packed with information and the writing style is mostly fun. I really enjoy the authors’ take on subjects I’m familiar with, but unfortunately that’s not too helpful if you’re trying to get a good grasp on things that continue to elude you. I took Economics in college three times and dropped out every time. It didn’t make sense then, and even after reading that section in this book several times, it doesn’t make sense now. But if you’ve a mind to explore in more detail, there are great clues here.

I like this book and would recommend it. In most cases, it makes light, easy reading of some interesting subjects.

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LibraryThing Anroid App

It’s been a long time coming, but LibraryThing has launched their app for Android. The iPhone app has been available for awhile, so it’s nice to see one for the rest of us. 🙂

I haven’t tried it out yet, but looking forward to it!

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Yeah, I Needed Another Project!

World Literature Map

World Literature Map

I took on this project because, well, you can never have enough of them, right?! Goodness! I still love it — I’m not giving up as I’ve been a bookworm since I learned to read.

Came across this literature map of the world today and just had to share it. It is definitely “brilliant!” 🙂

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A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock’s Latin by Dale A. Grote

A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock’s Latin by Dale A. Grote

I have recently had the most wonderful email conversation with Professor Grote. He’s been so informative, friendly and approachable — which I guess you have to be if you’re going to be teaching Latin these days! He even answered my first email over the weekend! That’s impressive. 🙂

He told me some of the history of his Study Guide to Wheelock’s Latin which comes and goes in different places on the InterWebs. He reminded me that the notes were meant to accompany Wheelock’s 4th edition. Since Wheelock’s is now in its 7th edition, you can see how there would be huge differences, not the least of which being that the last chapters in the current Wheelock’s book aren’t included in the notes at all.

Fortunately, as a direct result of the original notes, A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock’s Latin, designed to accompany the latest edition of Wheelock’s, was published by Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc and is still available.

The trick to language study isn’t just memorizing the words — that part is relatively easy. The catch is the grammar, etc., and if you’re studying Latin for the first time, or again after many years, this resource will be invaluable.

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I’d like to be able to comment on my experience with BookLikes, but I can’t “get in” and, apparently, I’m not the only one. Better be paying attention when that verification code comes in. I obviously wasn’t! 🙂

It’s not unusual for sites to “move on” — Goodreads was sold to, and Shelfari, as well, and Shelfari has now been merged with Goodreads. Dizzy yet?

What confuses me about the BookLikes situation, though — their copyright notice is still dated 2015 — is that I see sponsored posts from them on Facebook, and regularly receive emails from them — almost too regularly — which is interesting since I didn’t verify the account.

BagEndBooks is posting regularly, so it would seem the issue was resolved — I didn’t see a follow-up to the original rant — as I can’t imagine trying to write book reviews on a smart phone for very long! So I’ve sent my email for help, and hopefully a response is forthcoming. Why do I always find these things on the weekend?

Update 17 February 2017: Still no response from BookLikes. It would appear the site and it’s email system are on auto-pilot for now.

Update 21 February 2017: Almost as if by magic, I got a response from BookLikes yesterday! My account’s been verified and it’s ready to go! Looking forward to trying it out as soon as possible.

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8 Ways to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year

Neil Pasricha’s article in the Harvard Business Review has eight great suggestions on time management and organization:

  1. Centralize reading in your home,
  2. Make a public commitment,
  3. Find a few trusted lists,
  4. Change your mindset about quitting,
  5. Channel your reading dollars,
  6. Triple your churn rate,
  7. Read physical books, and
  8. Reapply the 10,000 steps rule.

The article, of course, expands on these points with explanations and ideas for practical application. Be forewarned, however, that the Harvard Business Review limits the number of articles you can view for free, so if you’ve already exhausted that, you may not be able to access the link.

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When you hit the home page at it looks pretty sad. The site is obviously broken, the image and CSS files having been stored and linked from a account which seems to have expired. The Facebook page is also pretty much dead. But if you go to the forums you’ll see that the community is still thriving. It also seems that the files themselves are still available.

A forum thread addresses the recent absence of the site’s founder, Jeff Tirey, and the need for additional moderators to manage the forums.

As of this writing, the domain registration expires in 2019, so the site may disappear into the InterWebs black hole after that. Though the Internet Archive Wayback Machine frequently saves the site, as usually happens, the downloads aren’t archived. So if you think you might need them in the future, you should probably snag them at your earliest opportunity.

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Study Guide to Wheelock’s Latin by Dale A. Grote

Digging around for my old Latin resources, I was relieved to find that the Study Guide to Wheelock’s Latin by Dale A. Grote was still freely available online. As we all know, however, when it comes to the InterWebs, too often “One day you’re in and the next day you’re OUT!” Well, Professor Grote already thought of that:

“I call the guides ‘Study Guide to Wheelock,’ and have made them available for free use to anyone who’d like use them. […] So far as I’m concerned they can be copied and sent anywhere.”

Taking this literally, I downloaded the HTML files and have uploaded them here. I did do some editing to update the pages in the original .ZIP file: The URL for Professor Grote’s page at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte had changed, as well as his email address.

It’s always best to go to the original page. But just in case that ever disappears, we’ve got a backup.

Update 19 February 2017: I’ve found another page for Professor Grote’s notes on Wheelock which includes an update from him.

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How to Study Wheelock’s Latin

Wheelock's Latin, 7th EditionWhy study Latin — or any language for that matter? For one, I’m lately finding several things I would like to read but have not been translated into English. Further, I’m becoming more cynical about translations in general — you really are at the mercy of the translator when it comes to interpretation. And language study in general is brain training.

As for Latin specifically: If you have even a basic knowledge of Latin, you will most likely be able to decipher the meaning of almost any word in any language, with a few exceptions.

Want to study Latin, but don’t know where to start? One of THE Latin texts is Wheelock’s Latin, in its seventh edition as of this writing. Just reading the text and doing the exercises is not, as you will soon discover, sufficient. This list is compiled from several sources, including the Wheelock’s FAQ from the Latin Study list and the discussion there.

  1. Read the chapter in Wheelock’s Latin.
  2. If you need to brush up on some of the grammar, do the appropriate lessons in English Grammar for Students of Latin (EGSL) by Norma W. Goldman.
  3. Practice the vocabulary. If you want to use flashcards, you can make up your own or you can buy them (Vocabulary Cards and Grammatical Forms Summary for Wheelock’s Latin by Richard A. LaFleur).
  4. Practice the pronunciations.
  5. Read the chapter in A Comprehensive Guide to Wheelock’s Latin (CGWL) by Dale A. Grote and do the exercises.
  6. Do the Self-Tutorial exercises in the back of Wheelock’s Latin.
  7. Do the Exercitationes (EX) exercises in Wheelock’s Latin.
  8. Do the Sententiae Antiquae (SA) in Wheelock’s Latin.
  9. Do the translations (TR) in Wheelock’s Latin.
  10. Do the chapter in 38 Latin Stories by Anne H. Groton and James M. May (G&M) OR
  11. Do the chapter in Scribblers, Sculptors, and Scribes by Richard A. LaFleur (SSS).
  12. Do the exercises in the Workbook for Wheelock’s Latin.
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The Cornell Note-Taking System

The Cornell Note-Taking System isn’t for everyone, or for every book — it’s actually designed for lecture notes — but it is extremely useful in the right setting. I created this template several years ago for my son to use and he found it quite beneficial for most of his work. I’ve found it quite useful myself.

It’s an .ODT document, so you can edit it to suit your needs, including saving it as a true template. The header for the pages is contained in the Properties > Description > Title dialog. This makes them easy to find in the Explorer window if you want to sort them by title. This works for Windows computers — I have no way to test it on other systems.

The Cornell Learning Strategies Center offers a pdf document which summarizes the note-taking system.

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How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler

A version of How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler is available in PDF format from the Everglades High School website. Though not the same one I have in my library — this one is geared towards reading the Great Books — it still contains a lot of information that would be useful to high school students, or to anyone who loves to read but feels they might be missing something in the approach.

What I love about this book is that it discusses how to read books on different subjects. Of course you don’t read a science book in the same way you read a novel, but what exactly is the difference? Well, now you know. Not only is it illuminating, it’s also a relief. It took almost no time at all for me to realize why I had such trouble making heads or tails of such works. I look forward to diving into them now!

Though I really suggest you part with the ten bucks or so for the actual print book, this PDF version will give you a great idea of what to look forward to.

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Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery by Eric Ives

Lady Jane Grey

The Streatham portrait, discovered at the beginning of the 21st century and believed to be a copy of a contemporary portrait of Lady Jane Grey.

While I liked the book, it was not an easy read. I think it could have benefited *greatly* from an editor. Keep in mind, too, that I am an American reading a book on English history. A Brit might not have so much trouble with it?

This is the first Ives book I’ve read — I have a few more in the TBR pile, though — and I probably should have picked a different one for the first time out. I’ll find out soon enough when I start the next one.

If you aren’t seriously up-to-speed on 16th century English history, geography and naming conventions, you’re going to struggle here. You need to already know what he’s talking about to know what he’s talking about. The first few chapters, especially, are very confusing and seem to assume that “everyone already knows this stuff.” At this point, I considered not finishing the book. I’m glad I stuck with it, though, because it was easier to follow after the first section or two, but it never gets easy.

It was tough enough keeping up with the various Dudleys, Greys, Howards, etc. — not just parents and siblings, but also in-laws, nieces, nephews and distant cousins. But then he refers to them sometimes by their titles, sometimes by their given names, and does this while writing about several people from several families all in the same paragraph — sometimes in the same sentence.

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LibraryThingLibraryThing claims on their about page that it is “an online service to help people catalog their books easily.” There’s a lot more going on than that — so much so that you can get lost for hours just exploring the site.

I like LibraryThing and signed up to be a lifetime member almost immediately. It’s still only $25! Can’t beat a deal like that!

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Homeschool Log

This log was created to conform to the Missouri homeschool regulations which require 1,000 hours of instruction during the school year, with at least 600 hours in the basics, which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. You may need to customize the headings for your location.

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Great Books of the Western World

The Great Books of the Western World is a series of books published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. The first edition of 54 volumes was published in 1952. A second edition was published in 1990 which contained 60 volumes.

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