Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book Review: The Secrets of Life and Death

This book alternates between telling the fictional story of a modern-day investigation into suspicious circumstances surrounding a girl's death and the journal of a historical figure named Edward Kelley (who was actually a real person). It is a well-balanced mix between historical fiction and a more modern story, and for most of the book trying to make the connection between the two is left up to the reader. It makes for a very exciting conclusion to the book. If you are interested in historical fiction or occult/religious myth (not only historically, but also in the present day) I think you would enjoy this book a lot.

Personally I have mixed feelings about this book. I considered not finishing it, which is very unusual for me. For my taste, the themes were too dark and occult. It's the kind of book that I can't read right before I go to sleep, because I feel like its going to give me bad dreams. I did finish the book in the end, however, because the story was so well written and engaging. I really liked the ending, so I'm glad I finished it. This is completely a matter of personal taste (I'm also the kind of person that can't watch horror movies) but if you don't like dark themes you probably don't want to read this book.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Life Update

I have the hardest time keeping people updated on the major things going on in my life. So, I decided to write this blog post!

I guess the biggest change in my family recently has been my parent's house in Minneapolis. This past year my parents have been working SUPER hard to renovate our house, with the aim of renting out the second floor. They did a lot of renovations on the first floor, where we live, and then they put the finishing touches on the second floor to make it a functioning duplex. And now, they are officially landlords. Currently the house is a bit chaotic (moving from an entire house to only one floor of it is hard!) but I'm really proud of all they've done. I've been at college during most of the process, and it's amazing to see the progress every time I go home.

This semester my jobs have been quite different than the rest of my semesters at Wellesley. I'm still working at the campus library, but I also have a couple other (paid) projects going on too. I am working with a math professor, grading the problem sets for his calculus II class. It's pretty common at Wellesley for classes with weekly problem sets to have graders, so the professor doesn't have to spend their time doing it. My other project originated this past summer. I attended a Humanities Lab where I worked with a Wellesley professor exploring how to use digital maps to study mythological stories and artifacts (he happens to be an archaeologist as well as a classics professor). At the beginning of the semester he asked if I would continue to work with him, mostly preparing materials for classes he is teaching. Both of these have been very interesting experiences, but I'm finding myself having a harder time this semester managing my schedule, since I have fewer scheduled work shifts and more things I need to do on my own time.

This might not seem like a major life update, but my classes consume a lot of my time so I like talking about them. I'm taking four classes this semester, which is the normal amount at Wellesley, but my new challenge for this semester has been that two of my classes also have labs. (Basically that means that they meet an extra time each week, for two or three hours, and sometimes there are extra assignments to turn in.) I'm taking two computer science classes, one on computer graphics and the other on computer hardware and digital logic (which also has a three hour lab every week).

This is an example of what we do in my graphics
class. It looks deceptively simple, but it wasn't
simple to program!
This is part of what we do in my
computer hardware lab.

I'm also taking Astronomy 101, which has a lab as well. Astronomy lab is really fun, it has been cloudy a lot this semester so its also been a bit disappointing (its rather difficult to observe the sky when its cloudy). Finally, I'm taking Intermediate Latin (currently we are reading Latin love poetry).

College Major
I have officially been a computer science major since last fall, and that is still something I am very passionate about. There are two other things I am still considering adding on to that - I may be a math minor or I may be a Classical Civilizations major. Unfortunately at Wellesley you can only declare two things total, so I can either do one or the other. People ask me a lot what made me decide to take so many classics courses. I took one class my first year which was really interesting, and then the next semester the same professor (who I really liked) was teaching Latin 101 so I took it, and now here I am reading Latin Love Elegy and making digital maps about Greek mythology... Honestly it just kinda happened.

Study Abroad
One of the most exciting things in the works right now is study abroad next semester. There are still a lot of details to figure out, but things are starting to come together. I will be spending the semester at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I am quite sure you will be hearing a lot more about this as time goes on! But I honestly don't have a lot of details to share just yet.

And that's about all I can think of right now. As always, I'll talk to you guys again soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Book Review: A Short Walk to the Edge of Life

This book is a fascinating mix of history, autobiography, survival story, and proclamation of faith. It tells the story of a man named Scott Hubbartt who becomes hopelessly lost in the Peruvian Andes while trying to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors.

As far as catastrophe and survival stories go, this one is refreshing because he is very honest about the mistakes he made, and the fact that getting lost was his own fault. His Christian faith is also a very important part of the story, and he describes all of the things that he learned and the ways he grew through his experience. It is a powerful story for anybody who has experienced the seeming absence of God in times of need - Hubbartt was lost and very near death, and every time he called out to God there seemed to be no response. However, in the end of the book his faith is even stronger than before, and he is able to look back and recognize the ways that God helped him.

Hubbartt is very clear about his Christian faith being one of the main reasons that he wanted to write this book, but the book is worth reading even if you're only interested in his story of survival or historical aspect of it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher via Blogging for Books.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pictures (aka Why I Love Boston and Wellesley)

As usual, my plans for what I want to write are more ambitious than the time I have available. I am planning on writing a post eventually with general life updates (like study abroad!) But for now, I want to share a few pictures with you.

This semester I have had a hard time getting off campus. Its just so much easier to stay here, and for the most part I am perfectly content sticking close to Wellesley. But last week I finally got a bit claustrophobic! It has been beautiful here lately (as it always is in the fall) and I wanted to share some pictures from Wellesley and from my excursions into the city. (Remember that you can click on the pictures if you want to see them bigger!)

I found a farmer's market in Copley Square
They intentionally made this skyscraper
reflective because of all the beautiful
old architecture around it.
Boston Public Garden
I had to take a picture of this statue in the
Public Gardens - it was dedicated to the
discovery of ether (at Mass general hospital
 I think). I thought it was a slightly
strange thing to memorialize.
Boston Public Library courtyard
The reading room in the Boston Public Library
This is near my dorm
We had a bizarrely (and wonderfully!) warm
late October day, most of which I spent
outside studying. I thought the sunlight on the
trees looked so striking against the dark clouds.
This is the complex where I live (viewed from the top
of our bell tower)
Reba and I went to the MFA (Museum of
Fine Arts
It was raining, so this was the best picture
I got outside the MFA before I put my
phone away