Be selective in what is read

New acquisitions at the used bookstore.

Have you ever wondered how fast you read? A stack of reading material on the nightstand begged for my attention. I considered how long it would take me to get through it.

Reading speed test.

Curious, I took an online test to find out.[1] I selected a blog post from a published poet/essayist and took the reading test. The results disappointed me. It took me less than two minutes to read a blog post with more than 300 words. According to a Forbes article, the average adult reads 300 words a minute.[2]

Test two. I selected the nut graph of a Slate.com article. Again, below average reading speed. Test three. Selected another blog post. This time from a professional blogger. I received an above average reading speed. Test four (and five). Two different New Yorker articles selected. I read the opening paragraphs. Two different writers. One wrote a news piece. One a literary critique. The results varied. The critique results were below average and the news piece was above average.

Content readability.

I turned my attention to the text read. Using an online app I graded the passages read.[3] The Slate.com article received a good readability rating. The professional blogger article earned an okay readability score. The literary critique received a poor readability grade. The news piece received a score worse than the literary critique.

The app rates the difficulty of a text. The readability grade based upon passive voice, adverbs, phrases with simpler alternatives, and sentences that are hard or very hard to read. In other words, difficult sentences that included compound or compound/complex sentence structures.

Observation.

What I have noticed is that numbers (and analysis), abstract ideas and foreign words slow me down. There is so much I desire to read, but time limitations prevent the volume of literature I seek to explore. So, I have to be selective in my reading habits. And this reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote:

“He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know.”

NOTES:


[1] ReadTime, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://readtime.eu/

[2] Brett Nelson, “Do You Read Fast Enough To Be Successful?,” Forbes, June 4, 2012 @ 09:09 AM, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/brettnelson/2012/06/04/do-you-read-fast-enough-to-be-successful/#436dc4dc58f7

[3] Hemingway App, accessed January 11, 2017.
http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

 

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Poem: Expectations

Expectations

Anyone may “find” a text; the poet is he who names it, “Text”.
–John Hollander [1] [2] [3]

1.

The very heavens
rupture — news of Pontiff’s decision
to abdicate.

2.

Somewhere in America,
for nearly a week, film and
fiction collide — Rambo-like
manhunt ends as expected.

3.

She sings, When you get
to Asheville send me
an email…. 

Will she tell me that
the President is
coming to town?

Will a hollywood
celebrity greet
him when he arrives?

Will he retire
to the Paris of the South
after this whole
presidency thing
?

4.

Whether it comes from
above or snakes its way through
the dark depths below,

the number one regret on
the lips of the dying is
to have lived true to one’s self

rather than by the
expectation of others.

NOTES:
[1] From the archives of this blog.
[2] The poem was composed from and of news headlines and related blog posts. John Hollander wrote in Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form that “anyone may ‘find’ a text; the poet is he who names it, ‘Text’.”
[3] Annotated version of this found poem was published Feb. 15, 2013 and originally titled “The courage to live”.

Found poem: The courage to live [annotated]

POET’S NOTE: As an exercise to try something new in composing a poem, I wrote this short piece as a found poem based on news headlines and related blog posts. John Hollander wrote in Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form that “anyone may ‘find’ a text; the poet is he who names it, ‘Text’.” With that introduction, I offer this found poem.

The courage to live

1.

It seems like the very heavens [1] rupture [2]
with news of the Pontiff’s decision [3]
to abdicate the Holy See.

2.

Somewhere in America, for nearly a week,
film and fiction collide with a John Rambo-like [4]
manhunt [5] that ends as expected. [6]

3.

She sings, [7]
When you get to Asheville
send me an email…. 
[8]

Will she tell me that the President is coming to town? [9] [10]
Will there be a hollywood celebrity to greet him, [11]  when he arrives?
Will he retire to the Paris of the South [12] after this whole presidency thing[13]

4.

Whether it comes from above [14] or snakes its way through the dark depths below, [15]
the number one regret on the lips of the dying is
to have lived true to one’s self rather than the expectation of others. [16]

NOTES:
[1] Phil Plait, “BREAKING: Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Sonic Boom Shatters Windows [UPDATED],” Slate, Feb. 15, 2013 accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/15/breaking_huge_meteor_explodes_over_russia.html
[2] CBS/AP, “Meteorites slam into Russia as meteor seen streaking through morning sky,” CBSNews.com, February 15, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57569551/meteorites-slam-into-russia-as-meteor-seen-streaking-through-morning-sky/
[3] Mark Memmott, “Pope Benedict XVI Is Resigning,” NPR’s The Two-Way, February 11, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/02/11/171680715/pope-benedict-xvi-is-resigning.
[4] “Christopher Dorner manhunt: police hunt ‘Rambo’ cop killer” The Week, February 8, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.theweek.co.uk/us/51429/christopher-dorner-manhunt-police-hunt-rambo-cop-killer.
[5] Halimah Abdullah, “L.A. manhunt reminiscent of D.C. sniper case,” CNN, February 9, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/08/politics/lapd-attacks-dc-sniper/index.html?iid=article_sidebar.
[6] “Dorner manhunt: Charred human remains found in burned cabin,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/dorner-manhunt-charred-human-remains-found-in-burned-cabin.html.
[7] Jennifer Saylor, “New single from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell: ‘When you get to Asheville’,” Ashvegas.com, February 14, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/new-single-from-steve-martin-and-edie-brickell-when-you-get-to-asheville.
[8] Alec Wilkinson, “EDIE BRICKELL AND THAO NGUYEN,” The New Yorker, February 5, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/02/listen-to-new-albums-by-edie-brickell-and-thao-nguyen.html.
[9] Jeff Willhelm, “Obama in Asheville,” The Charlotte Observer, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/02/13/3852979/obama-in-asheville.html.
[10] Jennifer Saylor, “Obama in Asheville, Part 1: Fourth visit,” Ashvegas.com, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/obama-in-asheville-part-1-fourth-visit.
[11] James Franco, “Obama in Asheville,” Yahoo! News, January 21, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://news.yahoo.com/president-obama-in-asheville-a-james-franco-poem–231846640.html.
[12] Jennifer Saylor, “Obama in Asheville, Part 2: President says he might retire here,” Ashvegas.com, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.ashvegas.com/obama-in-asheville-part-2-president-says-he-might-retire-here
[13] Donovan Slack, “Obama on barbecue, life ‘after this whole presidency thing’,” Politico 44, February 13, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.politico.com/politico44/2013/02/obama-on-barbecue-life-after-this-whole-presidency-156963.html.
[14] Joel Achenbach, “Asteroid’s pass near Earth a close call in cosmic terms only,” The Washington Post, February 14, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/asteroid-to-pass-near-earth-but-you-dont-need-to-duck/2013/02/14/615d5848-73cb-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html.
[15] Mark Wilson, “Infographic: The 550,000 Miles Of Undersea Cabling That Powers The Internet,” Co.Design, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671777/infographic-the-550000-miles-of-undersea-cabling-that-powers-the-internet#1.
[16] Susie Steiner, “Top five regrets of the dying,” The Guardian, February 1, 2013, accessed February 15, 2013 http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.

You can never have too many markers

You can never have too many markers

You can never have too many markers. My marker habit is getting heavy. (via dallasclayton)

theatlantic: Can the Middle Class Be Saved? The Great Recession has accelerated the hollowing-out of the American middle class. And it has illuminated the widening divide between most of America and the super-rich. Both developments herald grave consequences. Here is … Continue reading

Magazine death toll

279 magazines have folded during the first 6 months of 2009: http://bit.ly/EPZGU

Of course, if you’re reading this on tumblr, you are probably already perverting the language.

How texting is wrecking our language