Bram Stoker's Dracula

I planned to read Dracula for Halloween, so I checked it out 10 October and finally got to reading it 14 November, and now I've finished it with Christmas just around the corner. I must admit, a strange story to be reading during the holidays, but this book definitely had the ability to take me out of the merry world surrounding me and into the dark mist of Count Dracula. I can definitely see why this story has held it's own over the years. Written in first person by several characters through the use of journal entries and letters, mixed in with some newspaper articles and telegraphs, anyone can die at any moment. I didn't know whether this story was going to end happy or sad. And I like that in a book, when you've not a clue of what the author intends for you in the end. True, I found some inconsistencies in the writing (e.g., characters were extremely smart in discovering the important details of Dracula in one chapter, but in the next they'd unfortunately forget that discovery and make a grave mistake), but overall it was a fun tale. Some of my preconceptions were also disabused: Dracula has a moustache, Van Helsing is nothing like Hugh Jackman, and sacred wafers are really the secret weapon against vampires.


Christmas tunes to enjoy

I spent the greater part of the Friday after Thanksgiving at work. It wasn't all that bad, but to lighten the mood of the ghost town office halls and the air vent buzz, I tuned into a Christmas music station via the internet. The music worked wonders. I analyzed data to O Holy Night, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, and the Hallelujah Chorus. It was like a Christmas wonderland in office 1357 - plus a computer, some research, and fluorescent lights. Here's some of what I like to listen to during Christmas:
  • two albums my sister gave me a couple of years ago, filled with everything from Brenda Lee to the Madeleine Choir School
  • Osmond Christmas Album (a childhood favorite)
  • Harry Connick Jr.'s When My Heart Finds Christmas
  • Manheim Steamroller (the earlier albums the better)


Happy Thanksgiving!

This holiday cannot be forgotten. It is one of my favs. It is my dad's favorite. And it is always right around my mom's birthday. Why is it a favorite? Yes, there's the delicious food, great leftovers, and lots of conversation that can't be beat. But most of all, it's the feeling you get during this time. This feeling of devotion, of gratitude, of holiday spirit that just seems to make your joy that much greater. It's that feeling you get when you listen to an instrumental of the Messiah with your eyes closed, moving with the notes and humming the melodies. Cliche, I think not, it's just downright true.


Fantasy Land in the Forest

We came upon this land one afternoon when driving around the back roads of our area in Maryland. We found a pagoda, a large building with Corinthian columns, a very large German-looking building, and a statue of Hiawatha (among other things). All of the buildings were worn down, the bridges were falling apart, and the statues were looking like they needed some cleaning. We stared in awe as we drove around this curious place. Come to find out, a historic developer has teamed with a new developer to restore these enigmatic buildings as well as add some new town homes. We took a brochure from the developer's office and learned that this was the National Park Seminary. Upon further investigation we discovered what gave rise to these architectural curiosities was a girls school founded in 1894. The building with the Corinthian columns was the gymnasium, the large building a main hall which included music rooms and a ballroom, and the pagoda was a sorority house. Apparently, the president of the school and his wife allowed the girls to choose what kind of sorority home they wanted (after looking through an architectural book they provided) and they got it. In addition to a pagoda, they built a castle (complete with a bridge), a Swiss chalet, a Dutch windmill, a colonial home, a Spanish style mission home, and an Indian mission home (hence the statue of Hiawatha). And Voila! You get a fantasy land in the middle of a forest in Maryland.

Look at this place back at full swing:


Spanish Style Mission House
Swiss Chalet
Castle (with bridge)

Dutch Windmill

And this was a school! I hope to take a tour of this whimsical place. For links to where I ascertained this info click here or here.


What came first

Here's a question: does life make your blog more interesting or does your blog make life more interesting? The other day I was talking with a fellow (much more extreme) blogger and she said "I do cool things so I can post them on my blog." Hmmm, curious... It kind of struck me and led me to the famous query "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" In this instance, what came first, the interesting blog or the interesting life? One would suppose it was the latter. (Actually, for any of you getting really technical out there, for anyone born before the mid 90s the latter would be true, as that is when blogs are noted to have begun.) Still, could the previous be true for some situations? For instance, I wrote a post on the use of "okay" to answer the daily question of, "How are you?" This is usually a passing thought in my mind, but when I wrote about it on my blog, it made my thought more interesting. Take your blog for a moment, what came first?