Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
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Why Collect Quotes?

It’s simple enough: create an iGoogle page that displays new quotes of whatever interests you. Visit it every day and look for a keeper. Keep track of your quotes with a program called NoteTab Light (allowing you to keep tabs for different categories).

So why do it? Quotes are similar to poetry in that they are highly condensed bits of knowledge. In a few words, quotes can inspire us or challenge us to look at things differently. Quotes can pick us up on disappointing days or push us to work harder, consider the finer points of life, or to treat others better. Quotes can poke fun at the things we take too seriously.  They can open up new perceptions about culture and the cosmos.

I collect quotes for an additional reason: because I’m a teacher and I use quotes to reach my students. All teachers should consider starting a quote collection, because if nothing else, a weekly quote can fill a moment at the end or beginning of class as a topic for classroom discussion. They also serve a purpose outside of a classroom, I often recall quotes for friends when the conversation calls for them. These range from the humorous to the more serious (in my political conversations). A good quote can be used as a joke in the right context.

So begin your quote collection; there are plenty contained on the Internet. You can seek them out, or let them come to you on your iGoogle page. Once you have a good sized collection, you can tack them to your computer desktop or on your home’s walls for daily pick-me-ups. Consider tacking them up at your work desk or office space. Others will appreciate the words of wisdom.

While poetry is a layered form of condensed views, quotes are necessarily straight-forward. There are even quote-books that people somehow manage to get published. While this is an unlikely feat for you, there are still all the prior reasons for collecting them.

Since this is a post about quotes, I thought I’d include some of my favorites (though I have too many to share here):

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” -Arnold Palmer

“Act as though what you do makes a difference. It does.” -James William

“About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.”
– Josh Billings

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”
-John Maynard Keynes

© David Metcalf

Why you should buy a Kindle

If you haven’t joined the e-reader craze, now’s the time to start.

If you’re like I was, you probably think an e-reader is non-sense.  What’s wrong with an old fashioned book, anyhow?

Nothing, necessarily.  But e-readers such as the Kindle are good for several reasons:

  • They are easier on the eyes
  • You can change text size, words per line, etc
  • You can get books for free, and usually pay less for retail books
  • When you’re on a trip, you can take a whole library of books with you

That is not to say that page-books no longer have a purpose, or that you should throw out your library after buying an e-reader.  Books are still preferable for reading in the bathtub, taking to work, or to places where your Kindle may get damaged or lifted.

But the reason that the Kindle 3 is so useful is specifically the text size feature. Typographers lament how their findings are rarely heeded.  For instance, they have found that the easiest lines to read have between six to eight words per line.  Many printed books deviate from this standard.  Many more still have smaller print.

Take for instance, Lies My Teacher Told Me,  a great book, but challenging to read: both because it is dense material and because of its tiny script and tons of words per line.   After buying it on my Kindle, I found it much easier to read and absorb.

We’re not talking about changing the content of what you’re reading after all, only the text size and words per line.  You can still read whatever you want (most of the time).  The reason that words-per-line is so important is because reading requires you to drop down and to the left for each new line.  Add too many words in a line and reading becomes more taxing for your brain.

Just think of all the times you missed a line, had to go back to retrace your place, and so on. This alone is reason enough to go with an e-reader.

If you’re still hesitant to drop the cash on an e-reader (take for instance, that you have to charge it), just talk to someone you know who has one:  chances are, they love their Kindle.

Your only choice to make is to choose one of the e-readers currently on the market.  This is difficult, because no one e-reader is best for everyone.  It depends on what you want to do with it.  If you have a massive PDF collection and want to read them on an e-reader, you should avoid the Kindle 3. Support for PDF is very limited.  If you want a huge online collection of books to choose from, you can’t beat the selection offered at Amazon.com.

Also, with a program called Calibre, you can convert many e-book formats to Kindle’s MOBI format.  This allows you to make use of the thousands of ePub books from online libraries that the Kindle wouldn’t otherwise support.

The Kindle DX can run a lot of money, but I actually like that mine has a smaller screen (also for a lot less money).  It’s weighs less than the DX version, the battery does a little better, and the DX is only better for more words-per-line (as we’ve already discussed, this is not necessarily an advantage).

Feel free to post with comments or criticisms of e-readers.

© David Metcalf