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What I read in November 2016

So far this month I have read six books.  That is perhaps too many for a single post.

The books are three I have reread, having located them on the bookshelves at home and three from the local library.

I shall review the ones I reread in this post and save the library books for next time.

Three books I reread

Three books I reread

It was a long time since I had read Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling.

These books make a set.   In case you haven’t read them, two children in Sussex stumble upon a fairy ring on Midsummer’s Day, accidentally calling up the mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare’s play.  On different occasions he introduces them to characters from the past, wiping their memories afterwards, lest adults think they are mad!

It was possibly the third time I had read these books.   Reading them as a child I missed a great deal of the background and simply enjoyed them for their atmosphere and vocabulary.  This time I was amazed by the links with some of the books I have read recently.  I found the whole experience of rereading these two books fascinating.

Weland’s sword was mentioned in Puck of Pook’s Hill and in Edoardo Albert’s  Edwin: High King of Britain.  There is a Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, which tied in with the book by Hunter Davies, which I read in October.  The final story in Rewards and Fairies is set in the same period as Accession by Livi Michael.  Also in Rewards and Fairies there was mention of people being brought for safety, because they were nonconformists, from the Low Countries to Romney Marsh in Kent, England.  The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is about some of these people.

I am by no means a historian.  In fact I failed my O-level in history.  However, I do enjoy historical fiction.  It is interesting to find the places where authors overlap in their treatment of the various periods.

The next book I reread was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is another book I first read as a child.  The dust cover is missing, but I can remember the picture in some detail!  Again I must have read it more than once before.  However, only the first part of the story had really stuck in my mind.  It was like reading a book for the first time.

It is an adventure story with a historical setting.  There is a lot of background information about the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  The reason I read it was that the coach driver on the Isle of Mull (on our recent trip to Iona) had told us that we should read it.  David Balfour travels through Mull in the story, which I read with a map of Scotland to hand, so that I could follow his route on the mainland as well.  (For more of my pictures of Scotland and the Scottish Islands please consult the contents of Sue’s words and pictures.)

I was also struck by the information about Scottish culture.  The language is not simple, being a sort of Lowland Scots dialect.  Footnotes explain the most obscure words.  Coincidentally I heard a trailer for a BBC broadcast about Kidnapped.  The points which had stood out for me from the background to the story were mentioned.

I do not own a copy of the sequel, Catriona.  I read it at school, possibly in English lessons.  I have ordered a copy from the library.

These are three great classics, but not a light read.

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How to take control of your own (computer) updates

Every month I read the same complaints – mainly from writers – that they have been interrupted from working due to updates being installed.  Every month I refrain from replying to them with unsolicited advice.  Instead I decided to put up these guidelines!

Whatever electronic device(s) we use, they all have to be updated from time to time.  There is not much more annoying than finding that just as a Skype date (or even worse an interview) is looming, for example, the computer decides to update Skype without asking permission.

To avoid this and other more seriously disruptive updates, it is necessary to check one’s settings.  There is often a setting, which stops automatic download and/or installation of updates.  It is particularly important with mobile devices to make sure that updates are only allowed over wifi and not as data from a mobile provider.  Also when travelling, it is often useful to turn off automatic updates.  A roomful of people sharing a wifi connection may be slowed down by someone downloading large files.

I have heard stories of inconvenient upgrades to a new version of Windows.  I wonder how many people, who have been inconvenienced by having to wait for an automatic update to complete, have bothered to take preventive action afterwards.  To be inconvenienced repeatedly is not necessary.

This is not a technical article.  There are plenty of forums, help pages and the like, which may be found to address specific update settings problems.  What I am trying to do is increase awareness that electronic devices are tools, which we are able to control.  We do not have to allow them to disrupt our time management by leaving default settings unchanged.

On the other hand the updates are provided for good reasons.  It is always a good idea to install updates which address security soon after they become available.  My own view about accepting new systems, such as Microsoft Windows 10, is to wait until others have been using it for long enough that any teething troubles will have been fixed.

Sometimes updates are issued between the usual monthly updates for Microsoft, but usually these are on a Tuesday in the second week of each month (if you are in the US time zones) or the next day (Wednesday) in the UK.

I also like to check that all the updates have been installed successfully.  Occasionally there are problems. Persistent problems may be sorted out after consulting help pages or forums.

I hope you found this latest update to my blog of some interest.  Do you have any stories about ill-timed computer updates?

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What I learned in May 2016

I have already written and published a post about what I read in May 2016.  I’ll be linking both of these with emily p. freeman.

The first thing I learned was not to set off on a long distance train journey without checking the National Rail app on my phone for the whole of the journey.  (Although it is possible for disruption to occur once I have boarded the first train!)

Next I learned that it is best to answer the question, “May I phone you?” with some delaying tactic, like “It might be better if I phone you. When would be a good time?”

Then there was the problem of dealing with panic attacks.  I need to remind myself that the best reaction to a panic attack is not to panic, but to pray.  Believing the lies that come into my head during a panic attack can lead to over-reacting and causing difficulties for myself and others.

In stressful situations I need more rest than usual.  Do other people find that too?

I was reminded that God really does answer prayer.  For example, I prayed about knowing when to return home.  I took into account the likely busyness of the day after the May Day Bank Holiday.  I consulted with family members.  I considered the other things that were going on and made a rational decision.  The train I travelled on was only going as far as I needed, although it usually continues on this route for over an hour longer.  As a result there were plenty of seats.  I didn’t worry when it was delayed a few minutes and just caught the connecting train.

I hope I have learned not to expect things to go wrong and prevent me from doing the things I really want to do.  I hadn’t previously recognised that I have this tendency.  If I make my decisions prayerfully, it does not make sense to expect that I’ll be prevented from acting on them.

Taking a break from my usual routine allowed me to stand back from my writing projects.  I have decided to abandon my work-in-progress and try to tell the story in a completely different way.  (But I haven’t begun yet!)