My theme: something about books, something about poetry, and something about tech – QA in specific. And Z is Zenith: Z is for The Zookeeper’s Wife, Zejel and Zero-Bug. I have finally reached the letter Z and the day 30 post for this challenge!! Definitely feeling I am at the zenith; and a total zen moment for me 🙂
Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.
– Alan Watts
Z is Zenith: Z is for The Zookeeper’s Wife
When I first saw this appearing on TBR lists everywhere, I did not pay much attention to it. Well, it caught my eye certainly but I never got serious about actually reading it and so never even checked what the book was about. If I had, I would have read this one long ago. But I am glad I finally am reading the book, and watching the movie as well, even if for this challenge 🙂
Note: In trying to keep both the book and movie commentaries spoiler-free, I have not mentioned too much at all but if you read the book and watch the movie (if not already done), you will know what I am talking about below.
From the description on Amazon:
A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.
After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story—sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.
Diane Ackerman intersperses her retelling of the events of the German occupation of Warsaw with passages from others’ accounts, mainly Antonina’s herself as well as many others – those who survived the war and its atrocities, and those who did not (but remarkably and thankfully their diaries, journals and other writings did).
Many reviewers had an issue with this writing style, finding it choppy, which hindered them from reading it; and I can understand their point of view. (I felt that way trying to read another memoir recently). But this book achieved that back and forth effortlessly, at least for me. Ackerman uses those personal accounts and detours to emphasize a point or bring more clarity or impact to an event in the book; and sometimes to highlight some other important aspect of the whole. I did get confused a couple of times by the timelines as Ackerman did tend to go back and forth there as well, but that was easily resolved by looking at the initial lines of the chapter.
Granted, sometimes, a whole chapter is devoted to the animals in her care(& maybe the one devoted to Tanembaum’s bug collection was not needed), and at others, Ackerman talks about people who were the Zabinski’s counterparts in Warsaw, working like them to help whom they could. While their stories seem to veer the reader away from the central story, they were still important stories that need to be told; and I am glad for their inclusion. One such event that moved me to tears(among many others) was the story of Janusz Korczak.
In spite of those ‘flaws’ in the telling of this tale, the book is powerful, and is testament to human courage, kindness, hope, to resilience, and we are definitely the beneficiaries. Due to Ackerman’s tendency to include other stories in this book, I have learned a lot of history that I had not known about earlier at all; and it is something I am glad to have learned. And this is based on what I have read so far (about 60%). I will be reviewing a little more in detail on my blog after reading it fully.
I am halfway through the movie at this time. The movie’s visual rendition is beautiful, and it certainly has many moments that capture the raw emotions of fear and of pain, as well as those moments of tenderness and warmth due to kindness with the right touch. The most important thing about this movie – it brings to light the story of these unknown heroes. On the flip side, I found that the movie is ‘Hollywoodised’, creating characters that are not mentioned in the book and totally unnecessary to have been included just to add to the drama, as well as creating conflict where none existed at all (and why introduce unnecessary conflict in a story such as this, already fraught with high tension and emotions all around).
The Question: The Book or the Movie:
Though I am yet to finish reading the book or watching the movie, for me, the book is the clear clear winner here. While in both cases, I feel Antonina herself is the true Zookeeper (not just the wife of one), this title has more impact maybe?
Zen, per se, is not just an art, it’s not just a religion, it’s a realisation.
– Gene Clark
Z is Zenith: Z is for Zejel
What is the Zejel poetic form and how to write it?
When I first heard the name, I was reminded of the ghazal. Growing up, I listened to a lot of ghazals – thanks to my dad’s love for all music. But I never paid attention to the structure of the ghazal – just listened to the songs. As I read about the zejel, I realized they are in a way, related, and are linked by their history.
The Zejel is an old and romantic Spanish verse form, pronounced seh-hell with emphasis on the second sound. It likely originated from older Arabic forms dating back to as early as the ninth century; and adapted by Spanish troubadours around the 15th century.
The zejel starts off with a mono-rhymed triplet known as the cabeza (meaning head in Spanish), which introduces the theme of the zejel. This opening stanza is sometimes a mono-rhymed couplet. This is followed by any number of four-lined stanzas(or quatrains) which are rhymed as well – with the first three lines mono-rhymed(also called a mudanza) and the last line(called the vuelta) rhyming with the cabeza. Each line in the zejel is usually eight syllables long.
So the Zejel’s features are:
- Stanzaic – the first stanza being a three-lined stanza followed by any number of four-lined stanzas(quatrains)
- Usually eight-syllables in each line
- Rhymed with a rhyme scheme of aaa (or aa), bbba, ccca, ddda, and so on
h/t and additional reading:
My Example Zejel:
Another poem still in the making..but you can read example poems in all those links I mention above.
Z is Zenith: Z is for Zero-Bug Policy
What is a Zero Bug Policy?
Software always has bugs; a bug-free code is like the unicorn – a myth. So what does a zero bug policy actually mean? Using definitions from the articles in the additional reading resources mentioned below:
Simply put, a Zero Bug Policy means striving to eradicate all known, open bugs; and that (all) bugs take priority over all other tasks, including new feature development or enhancements to the product.
While some proponents emphasize all bugs be eradicated, as in fixed; others take a different path to reach the zero bug point – by trimming the all using a strict bug prioritization method in sprints in combination with the process of eradication, which can include fixing, really eradicating the bug (completely deleting it) and moving it to a different pile – enhancements/new developments – rather than bug piles. Quoting one of these below linked articles: With a zero-bug policy there are only ever two states: Do it immediately or let it go and never think about it again.
Pros and Cons:
While different methods are used to approach zero bug point, the policy has its advantages (and like with anything else, disadvantages too). It is common knowledge that the longer you wait to fix a bug (or any issue anywhere for that matter), the more it will cost to fix it – in time, effort and money. So the zero bug policy will help save all of that simply by being what it is. Having a bug free code-base to build new features or add enhancements ensures that any dependencies that are there on existing code are more or less trouble-free. And any new issues arising are most likely due to the newer code.
This will ensure a smoother, more efficient, and more effective software life cycle overall resulting in a better quality product, and inevitably satisfied customers and happy teams. Which is what is important in the end 🙂
Depending on how it gets implemented and used, if done wrongly, this can prove expensive – on the flip side. So learning how to do it right matters!
Additional Reading Resources:
- The Zero Bug Policy – Building Quality Into Your Process
- Zero-Bug Software Development
- Zero-Bug Policy and Development Velocity
- The Joel Test
Wrapping up the Z Post
My blogging life is basically goalless. I like the zen nature of that, and paradoxically, it improves results.
– Seth Godin
Like Seth Godin says, I do enjoy the zen nature of my blogging life. But unlike Seth, I still am waiting to see those improved results he talks about. Here is to hope springing eternal. And with that, I reach my day 30 post. I will have a wrap up post tomorrow 🙂
Thank you all for your support
What are your comments or questions about today’s post? I would love to hear from you. Check out previous posts in this challenge using the links below.