Jeopardy!

Unlike many of the contestants on the trivia show juggernaut, I don’t exactly remember when I started watching Jeopardy. Most days, it just feels like I have always been watching. While my mom was never real a big trivia fan, Jeopardy was something I often watched with my grandparents and it quickly blossomed into a full love for trivia.

I remember going on trips with my grandparents and instead of playing “I Spy” or the license plate game, I would beg them to ask me trivia questions. And not just questions like “what sound does a duck make” but things like “What are the historical names of Turkey’s capital, Istanbul?”* I loved brain teasers, riddles, crossword puzzles, trivia, and mental challenges. As I grew older, so grew my passion for mental games, with trivia at the forefront. Any chance I get to exercise my love for trivia is jumped upon with probably-excessive excitement.

It goes without saying that it has also been a dream of mine to compete on Jeopardy. Unfortunately, self-confidence and anxiety has impeded that dream for a majority fo my life. After mentioning Jeopardy to my therapist several times, however, she has suggested that perhaps 2019 is the year for me. My goal is to audition by the end of the year. That means I’ll be doing a lot of studying and, by extension, sharing much of what I learn on the blog. I hope any readers I have enjoy sharing in the journey.

I would like to add: when I first began this post, Alex Trebek had not yet announced his recent diagnosis of Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. I’m devastated to say the lease and my thoughts and heart go to him and his family. He has been a presence in my life for such a long time and I hope that there are several more years to add to that. Best wishes, Mr. Trebek.

*Byzantium and Constatinople

Advertisements

Me Versus the GRE

So on June 8th of this year, I am signed up to take the GRE so I can finally go to grad school and begin my journey toward my dream of becoming a college Lit professor. I graduated with my Bachelors in English Writing and Publication in December of 2013 but it has since been a long road of self-discovery to get to where I am. When I finally realized a little over a year and a half ago what it was I wanted to truly do with my life (after a lot of “what if” and “well maybe” and “maybe I should just settle”) I knew it was going to be an even more difficult road to grad school. Most of that difficulty lies in the GRE. It has been 10 years since I last took a math course of any sort and now I have to relearn (self-teach!) everything I have long-since forgotten. Fractions. Graphs. Geometric patterns. It’s all foreign to me because I went so long without using more than rudimentary math (and my cell’s calculator app).

Last week I took a diagnostic test from the 2018 McGraw-Hill study book (one of about 10 study guides that I now have) and my approximate score is 312 out of a possible 340. This is not counting the written portion because it graded on a different scale and I didn’t have anyone to grade it for me. While 312/340 isn’t BAD, it’s not where I want to be. I have begun making flash cards and one of my very best friends is a big fan of math (her only negative trait – jk Dani, it makes you my personal hero) and has offered her skills.

Every-so-often I’ll update with how my progress is going. If anyone happens to read this and has any tips or is in the same boat, let me know!

Until then — wish me luck!

The Blood Countess

I know it’s a bit of a dark subject as my first substantial post, but hear me out.

A year or so ago, I was doing research for a fantasy book I am working on and I came across mention of Elizabeth Bathory. Then, just a few short weeks ago, a video game I play and two shows I watch (Jeopardy! and True Blood) made reference to the woman who became inspiration for an evil villain in my book.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this notorious figure, Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed is believed to be the most prolific female serial killer in history.

IMG_4608
Portrait of Elizabeth Bathory by Anonymous artist/ Courtesy of historytoday.com (link provided below)

Bathory even has a place in the Guinness World Records. Her victim count there is listed at a whopping 600 although it is a common consensus that the true number is likely to remain unknown. In fact, the unknown surrounds much of Bathory. What is known is her vicious nature and proclivity to the sadistic lead to tales of vampirism.

Bathory’s victims of choice were young, virginal women. These women, whose blood she reportedly drank as a way to maintain youthful vitality, came to her in a number of ways: by servitude, abduction, tutelage, and bribery. A number of sources, listed below, cite a multitude of sadistic torture methods that Bathory would subject her victims to including, but not limited to, stabbing, biting, scalding, cooking, branding, and even forced autocannibalism. As her dark and bloody hobby began to come to light, stories of the countess bathing in the blood of her victims became so intertwined with the details, that it is truly unknown where fact ends and fiction begins.

Bathory, along with several accomplices, was arrested in 1610. Unfortunately, her social station and family influence prevented her from being tried for her crimes although her accomplices were found guilty and executed (save one, who was sentenced to life). Instead, she was walled up in Csejthe Castle where she would spend the next four years in solitary confinement until her death at the age of 54.

Truth can often be stranger than fiction, although it’s unlikely historians will ever truly know which details are truth and which are fiction when it comes to The Blood Countess.

 

Sources

Guinness World Records: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-prolific-female-murderer

HistoryToday.com: https://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/death-countess-elizabeth-bathory

History.com: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/bathorys-torturous-escapades-are-exposed

The Journey Begins

Lao Tzu once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While this particular journey cannot be measured in miles, it will certainly be long and sometimes arduous. But in the end, should one ever come, it will be very rewarding.

Melodrama aside, this blog will be a virtual journal of knowledge, learning, trivia, and a splash of everything in between. As a proud Ravenclaw and Jeopardy nerd, I have always been very open about my love of knowledge and learning. Now that I am working my way toward a career in teaching on the collegiate level, I figured it was as good a time as any to share in that knowledge and provide a more substantial form of proof of that love.

This particular project was inspired, in part, by a wonderful project that one of my own professors assigned in a Renaissance history course. Over the course of the semester, we were tasked with keeping a Commonplace Book, a book wherein we would write bits of knowledge, quotes, graphs, etc. It was based on the more famous versions kept by some of the world’s greatest minds such as author Lewis Carroll and scientist Caroline Herschel.

My approach to this project will differ from the assertions laid down by philosopher John Locke in his 1706 book A New Method of Making Commonplace-Books. There-in, he declared that “commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective.” With much revered regard to Mr. Locke, I disagree. While commonplace books can very much be impersonal and strictly fact-filled, I believe that the decision rests with the creator of the commonplace book (or blog). Our individual knowledge is what makes us so unique. No two people know exactly the same things. But it is also our experiences, our values, and our personalities that can give life to the knowledge we gain. Our personal lives shape how we learn, receive, and pass on this knowledge. Who we are makes all the difference. More to the point, nobody would want to read this blog if it were just list after list of bullet points of information. So, many apologies Mr. Locke, but this blog will get a little personal. It will be uniquely mine. Hope you don’t mind too much.

My friends, I thank you in advance for joining me on this journey and I hope, along the way, that I can teach you something (or several things) new. Even more so, I hope that I can stimulate or even broaden your own love (or even quiet interest) in learning. If there is ever a topic you would be interested in seeing me discuss or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below! Also, be sure to explore the different resources I provide across the different pages. Be patient with the expansion of the blog and check back often for any changes and updates!

Much love.

xTaylor