Category Archives: Sherry Reads

Discovery of unicorn suggests the perfect man exists! (albeit a little hairy…)

Speaking of the unicorn — no, not your super tech startup valued at over $1 billion, but the white, mythical horse-like beast with a long horn spiraling from its forehead, it’s nice to know that it is real! A new skull fossil discovered near Kozhamzhar in the region of Pavlodar of Kazakhstan by researchers for Tomsk State University confirms the existence of the Siberian unicorn, or Elasmotherium sibiricum. 

American Journal of Applied Science published the findings.

The skull suggests a male, Siberian unicorn had once roamed the landscape. The mammal stood roughly 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall and 4.5 meters (15 feet) long and weighed about 4 tonnes.

The unicorn, instead of being white, ethereal and beautiful, is rather hairy… well, there goes reality! (image credit: Web/ The Guardian)

Great news right? Absolutely, I can tell my college-day girlfriends that we might still find that perfect man. “Hey, remember unicorn-stallion-mustang-horse-pony-donkey? Well, about Mr. Right…”

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To hurt, to break: the heart beats on

Feeling unsure, the girl thought the best thing was to put her heart in a safe place.
Just for the time being.
So she put it in a bottle and hung it around her neck.
And that seemed to fix things … at first.

The girl thought the best thing was to put her heart in a safe place, for the time being. (image credit: Oliver Jeffers/The Heart and the Bottle)

The girl thought the best thing was to put her heart in a safe place, for the time being. (image credit: Oliver Jeffers/The Heart and the Bottle)

The above passage is from The Heart and the Bottle, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. The picture book, which looks into how to make sense of death and loss, is now available in iTunes to buy and download as apps. The version is read by actress Helena Bonham Carter.

In the story, the girl, after losing her father. decided to protect her heart from hurting by putting it in a bottle around her neck. Of course, the problem with safeguarding her heart was that the girl no longer resembled her old exuberant, full-off-curiosity self. No more thinking about the stars or “the wonders of the sea,” she feels no pain, but also no happiness.

(Read previous post: “Ice Kachang Puppy Love”)

"She forgot about the stars… and stopped taking notice of the sea. She was no longer filled with all the curiosities of the world and didn’t take much notice of anything…" (image credit: Oliver Jeffers/The Heart and the Bottle)

“She forgot about the stars… and stopped taking notice of the sea.
She was no longer filled with all the curiosities of the world and didn’t take much notice of anything…” (image credit: Oliver Jeffers/The Heart and the Bottle)

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“What’s in a name” — Oh boy, don’t you know?

Ask what’s in a name, and I’d say plenty.

When introducing myself, I’m either “It’s Sherry like the alcohol,” or “It’s Sherry, like the Frank Valli and the Four Seasons song.” The former usually gets a delayed I-get-it chuckle, and the latter works wonderfully with the slightly more senior folks.

And Roy Peter Clark, author of Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, advises writers to “pay attention to names.”

Names can be fun. Take popular characters in fiction, such as Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane. Or savor Strawberry Bonbons, Glacier Mints, Pear Drops, Lemon Drops, Sherbet Suckers and Liquorice Bootlaces in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, well-crafted names enliven the imagination.

The best literary name of all, is perhaps Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita:

What’s in a name? Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita (image credit: www.belelu.com)

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No joke! Seriously serious (but funny) career advice from comedian

There are plenty of books on how to start a great career (hint: network) as well as how to succeed in life, but I find comedian Carol Leifer’s “How to succeed in business without really crying,” among the top. Not only does she offer solid, applicable advice, she also does it plenty funny. You bet I laughed while riding the subway to work.

Briefly about this funny woman if you’ve never heard of her. She is one of the few women working in comedy at a time when there were few in the industry, and has written for and/or performed on a number of TV comedies including Late Night with David Letterman, Saturday Night Life and Seinfeld.

Perhaps because she has chosen a career in the entertainment business, starting in stand-up comedy, she is no stranger to rejection. Chances are, no matter what profession you are in, the crowd booed once or twice.

Here are my favorites:

“You can do it!” (image credit: alifetimeofwisdom.com)

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Nature-word extinction: when “Blackberry” replaces “blackberry”

Blackberry made a splash when it reported its results in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 28. Financial newswires jumped to announce that the company’s quarterly sales was the lowest in eight years, and revenue, which slid to $660 million from $793 million, was well below estimation.

But enough about that Blackberry. Let’s talk blackberry. You know, the dark-skinned, juicy fruit. Like, the edible kind.

In fact, Blackberry has replaced blackberry when searching in Google. To find the fruit, you have to type in “blackberry, fruit.” (image credit: botane.net)

In a beautiful essay celebrating words, landscape words in particular, Robert Macfarlane (The Guardian) writes that a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed a substantial number of words concerning nature. The deletion included the following:

acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip,cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe,nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow

New words replacing them included “attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity,chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voice-mail.” Oxford University Press explained its decision stating that the deleted entries are no longer “relevant to a modern-day childhood.”

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Networking: it’s all about those nodes and links and randomness

We’ve all, more or less, heard of or experienced the so-called six degrees of separation. The theory, which is attributed to Harvard professor Stanley Milgram’s experiment, demonstrates that we live in a small world where, more often than not, we are only six steps away from connecting with anyone. Move interconnectivity to the web, you’ll find that “any document is on average only nineteen clicks away from any other,” writes Albert-László Barabási in his book, Linked.

But our idea of the Web, with search engines like Google connecting us to webpages, which then direct us to other hyperlinks — this interconnected world, how does it all begin?

The book, explores the problem with a famous mathematical problem, the Königsberg Bridge problem. In Königsberg, Russia, there are seven bridges connecting the city to the island of Kneiphof. The puzzle asks:

 Can one walk across the seven bridges and never cross the same one twice?

Well, I would have to see the location of the bridges.

Fair enough.

Konigsberg Bridge Puzzle (image credit: simonkneebone)

And then, and then… I would try walking through all my solutions?  Continue reading

The art to “Much ado about nothing”

When Shakespeare talk of “Much ado about nothing” — the title of his play and also (much later) two movies, 1993 and 2012 — nothing refers to gossip and rumors. In the play, nothing not only made Claudio reject Hero on the day of their wedding day, it also forced Benedick and Beatrice to confess their love for each other.

(image credit: Wired/Joss Whedon)

Today, nothing refers to, well, nothing, and the idiom has come to equate “all that fuss over nothing.” Somehow, I’ve managed to take counter-productivity to a new level in my attempt to move to my new apartment with as few boxes as possible.

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What’s in a name? A cup of ‘Joe’ by any other name…

Have you ever wondered why coffee is known as “a cup of joe”? Of the Daniel, David, John and Michael(s), why Joe?

According to an article published by Quartz, “Joe” is short for Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), former secretary of the US Navy.

Former US secretary of Navy, Josephus Daniels (image credit: electricscotland.com)

Daniels became secretary of Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. In an effort to establish strict morality, Daniels banned the consumption of alcohol.

In a new biography, “Josephus Daniels: His Life and Time,” Lee A. Craig wrote:

As a substitute, stewards increased their purchases of coffee, among other beverages, and Daniels’s name became linked to the daily drink of millions around the world. Continue reading