Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015: a bad year for reading #blog12daysxmas Day 9

A number of years ago, at  this time of the year I decided that I wasn't reading enough.  So I set up my Hecuba Reads blog and at the same time experimented with various online tools for recording my reading. After a bit of experimentation, I finally decided to go with Goodreads.  My sister who uses it voraciously had suggested it during my first musings.  Yes, she was right I finally decided.

I actually had no idea how much or little I was reading and so I made a modest commitment to read 52 books in the year, i.e. an average of one a week. Surely I could do that? That was for 2010. Without any particular effort (apart from the recording) that year I easily reached 62 titles, by reading or rereading.  In following years, I have made the same commitment, some times documented here, some times not (most notably not for 2015 when I didn't document anything here) but always there on Goodreads.

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussion

So how have I gone after that initial year? Quite well really to 2014.  In 2012 I read 71 titles, in 2013 76 titles, and in 2014 I managed 105 titles!  So that was all to the good.  But then came 2015.  In 2015 I succeeded in reading only 34 titles! Why did my reading levels plummet like this?  Is there an explanation?

I think there is and it is probably not going to go away any time soon. I definitely haven't stopped reading.  I just don't read books or can't read the ones I want to! In 2013 I decided I was going to try to learn Greek again and in 2014 I headed for Athens and an intensive Greek language course at the Athens Centre. That was an amazing experience and has set me firmly on a new (or revisited) pathway.  But you may well say, that was in 2014 when your reading levels didn't plummet. 

When I finished the Athens Centre course in 2014, I did continue to try to read bits and pieces in Greek news sites but it was all rather sporadic and without application. After a short flurry of last-minute revision I returned to the Athens Centre in 2015 for the next level of the course. And what a different experience that was! I was so cross with myself for the stuff I couldn't remember from the previous level - out of sight, out of mind for a year. Because I had on a number of occasions over the last 40 years (gulp!) made efforts to learn Greek, there was actually very little that I learned in the 2014 course that I hadn't already learnt before. I certainly didn't remember it, but it wasn't particularly new and, let's face it, we were there for fun.

There was certainly fun in the 2015 classes where there was constant laughter and much hard learning going on. And there was lots of new stuff this time. Outside the classes the homework filled up most of my spare time and I was also doing a MOOC from Monash University so that was taking time. I started several books during that time - and have never finished them. And, whilst I have read titles since, I date the downward slide to that period.

This time I left the Greek course not only with my head stuffed full of new stuff that I needed to get my head around properly but also with the realization that my brain was remembering stuff it had learnt decades ago! How amazing was that?  This started happening to me during the course when I would come out with words that I had no idea I knew. It must have been quite frustrating for the teacher as I was also remembering ancient Greek and katharevousa words and not distinguishing the difference. "Yes, I understand the word, but we only really use it in church" is one response I remember.

I hasten to add that this was just a very little transformation and only noticed by me. However, it was enough to make me determined not to go backwards again - for the umpteenth time. So the end result of this has been that my reading time almost every day since has focused on quite short Greek pieces which I take forever to read surrounded by dictionaries. And it's very much a two steps forward one step back sort of feeling.  But I definitely do spend time reading almost every day. And in addition to the short articles, I have over the year, in addition to the 34 titles which include a number of Greek easy readers, read some Greek poetry.  I have read some Cavafy and Seferis and I reintroduced myself to Dimitris Tsaloumas. But that has just been dipping and not whole books. I did also read some Greek picture books which I didn't document. 

And so, for the coming year what will I do?  Yes, I'll certainly keep slogging away with my Greek and one day I might even find myself up to reading a short story :)  And I will again set myself an annual target on Goodreads of reading 52 titles in the coming year.  A good start might be to read some of the books I have downloaded and never read, or ones I started reading last year but didn't finish. 

So that determined librarian at the top of the post is fighting for two things in relation to reading:  firstly, her continued struggles with Greek reading, and secondly, a greater effort at reading English language books so that 52 titles will be read with great ease again in 2016.   We'll see.   Θα δούμε.

Friday, January 1, 2016

I heart Flickr! #blog12daysxmas Day 8

Now that it is 2016, I can start to use #blog12daysxmas as an opportunity to check out how I have performed over the year in the tasks that I set myself at the beginning of 2015.  That should have been easy.  But last week when I went back to my blogs to review my last #blog12daysxmas, I realized that not only did I not finish the task, but I also didn't set myself any tasks for the coming year.  Well, I didn't blog about them at any rate. I certainly had tasks that I involved myself in.

And my involvement with Flickr was certainly one of those.  I first learned about Flickr and joined up many years ago in 2007 when I did 23 Things. I am an inveterate snapper, rather than a careful photographer, and all those snaps land on Dropbox and Flickr, get edited and stay there if I think they are any good.  Since I have had an iphone, my camera has gathered dust and I take my photos on the phone. Often I take them through the Instagram app and share them onto Flickr and Tumblr and Twitter and increasingly on Facebook too so have other communities there, of course. All my devices are linked up to Dropbox and Flickr and Instagram and Tumblr and Facebook and Twitter for ease of sharing.

Although during #blog12daysxmas last year I didn't set myself any challenges, I actually did set myself some as the year commenced on Flickr. So did I meet these challenges? I did!  And I am very happy with myself for meeting them. I completed my 365 photos for PAD2015, iPhone 365 and Project365: my 365th photo for the year heads this post. I also completed Challenge Friday for all weeks of 2015 for myself and, with the assistance of some other members, for the Collingwood Historical Society. In 2015, I administered the 2015PAD group, the Victorian Hotels group and the Victorian Public Library Buildings groups and I contributed to quite a few other groups.  Notable among these was the Trove group which provides a fabulous way for Australians to get their photos onto Trove.

During 2014 I also set up another group jointly with the Collingwood Historical Society, the Abbotsford, Clifton Hill and Collingwood group for photos taken in the area covered by the former municipality of Collingwood and I continued to administer that in 2015.  If you take any photos in that area, please add them to the group. It is so important that we document today which is tomorrow's history. We are building up a good collection of photos in the group, where it is lovely to skim through and view them.  It is also a good place to get discussion going about the places and their history.

So what's my Flickr challenge for 2016? It's much of the same really.  I continue with Challenge Friday (cf16) for both me and the Collingwood Historical Society. This year as part of an experiment we are going to be doing Challenge Friday on Facebook as well as Flickr. By that, I mean that it will be operating on both: some people will be doing just Flickr, some people just Facebook, and others will do both.  It remains to be seen how it goes. It is a way of tapping into people who don't want to join Flickr, as well as people who don't want to be on Facebook.

I am doing my Photo A Day (PAD) for 2016, for 2016PAD, iPhone 365 and Project365.  I continue to administer that group along with my UK colleague, Julia Chandler, as well as administering my hotels, Victorian public library buildings and the "Collingwood" group.  And I will try to organize another Melbourne Flickrup soon, and hopefully we'll have one in England when I visit towards the middle of the year.

Everyone is welcome to join any of these groups! In particular today is the day the 2016 Photo A Day Challenge starts. You can join up here if you want to.
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