Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A month late with this list... barely keeping pace with this year's reading goal. We'll see how things go over the last quarter (pretty sure I can catch up). In the mean time, you know where to find reviews.

Children's/Young Adult

Science Fiction/Fantasy


Slowly coming to...

For some reason, the start of the school year hit me hard. I was in a comfortable groove then BANG! And life stopped. It was all I could do to get from work to home and back. Now things are looking a little better... a little more normal. So stay tuned: blog posts and updates coming soon! In the mean time, how are you doing?


Monday Memories

Regular blogging has been disrupted by a two-week bout of... flu? plague? Some illness. Fever, sinuses, coughing - you name it, I did it. Except vomiting. Yay?

So while I catch up a little, here's a Monday Memory:

My senior year in high school I took a three-course sequence in Asian History.  Each trimester had a required read, and Mishima's Spring Snow was the read for the Modern Asia course.  

The Sea of Fertility tetrology (Spring Snow is the first book) traces the lives of three friends over a period of years, each taking very different journeys.  One (Kiyoaki) is reincarnated anew each book, the other two (Shigekuni and Satoko) continue through (well, sort of... read the books and see).  The thing is, it wasn't just that one of my favorite teachers inspired me to read the other three books - it's that the journey the three take has resonated differently with me at different times.  I remember reading the books and writing to this teacher, back when writing was the done thing, before e-mail was invented, and giving him my response. He wrote back and we "chatted" about it for a while.  A few years later, I wrote telling him how the book had affected me on a second read - and his response made me feel as though I was, in some small way, his intellectual equal (clearly not possible, right?!).  

That was one of the proudest moments of my life, feeling that someone - a man who I admired greatly and who had inspired me - thought I was his equal.  

It's doubtful that any of the students I've worked with have admired me or been inspired by me to the extent that this teacher did me (and not just me - many, many others).  But if I can make one feel as proud to be my friend as I felt to be his... And it's all due to this one book.


Links Galore


New Year, New Resolutions

Yes, yes, I know: it's not January.  But it is the start of a new school year, right?  So why not make some resolutions?  Usually, I ponder guidelines but at this time, resolutions are more appropriate.  (list and idea via)

Bad habit I’m going to break:
Letting my clutter overwhelm me and the house.  Everything has a place, right? So every night it should all be there.

A new skill I'd like to learn:
Hmmm... difficult.  It's not really a "skill" in the same way knitting or skiing are, but I need to be better about letting things go.

A person I hope to be more like:
My uncle and a high school friend, who lived good lives and showed everyone how to die well. Their example of grace and living each day preciously is so inspiring.

A good deed I'm going to do:
No idea yet.  But I'll know it when I see it.

A place I'd like to visit:
It won't happen this year, but we can start planning our next European trip (Prague/Budapest/Vienna is the dream).

A book I'd like to read:
Uh, well, how about we just settle with "getting Mt. Bookpile to below 200" as a goal?  And to start reading some of the older books, patiently sitting there for (in some cases) years waiting to be read.

A letter I'm going to write:
Make that letters.  My penpals need more in their mailboxes!

A new food I'd like to try:
Not sure, to be honest.  There's very little that I know that I haven't tried.  It'll have to be "when I see it..."

I’m going to be better at:
Budgeting my time, so that I can spend more of it doing things I like with people I like, rather than things I have to do "because".


Felines 1, Humans 1

Boy, was I overly optimistic...

The calm before the storm...

Success! They're caged...

Distracting the neighborhood patrol...

Oh, yeah. This happened. 
Yes, I'm a righty.  
Yes, that's my right paw.
No, I can't really move it well.
I guess it could have been worse...

At least it's over with for the year.

Please pray for us...

In about 90 minutes (aka 9:30am ET on Thursday, August 21) Thing One and I are going to try to capture and cage our two six year-olds for their trip to the vet.

One will be easy to deal with (she's a bit of a lump anyway).  The other?  Earlier this year we thought we  had an emergency situation and tried to get him to the vet... he spent 12 hours hiding underneath our dishwasher.  Who knew there was an opening he could slither in to?  Clearly not us!

Today's plan is to herd him into Thing One's bedroom, because mine has an armoire he might be able to get behind/under and the rest of the house is pretty open plan.  We expect scratching and loss of bodily functions (from him), plus lots of swearing (on both sides).

Once they're in the cage, we'll head to the vet even if we're early.  Of course I'll bring something to read... Thing One will probably mutter under his breath and prevent me from reading.  Sigh.

Pray for us.  I'll keep you updated on our progress!



Yesterday it finally happened: a friend "tagged" me on Facebook, challenging me to do the #ALSicebucketchallenge. I untagged myself. He retagged me. I responded, "thanks... but I'm not doing it, nor am I paying the 'penalty' and donating $100."

Yeah, I'm a horrible person. I clearly don't care about those suffering from ALS (aka "Lou Gherig's Disease"). I'm selfish. And now, all his friends on Facebook know that.

Except... I don't wear pink. I do donate, just to other causes. A one-shot, one-year donation might help, but it does penalize those other causes. The Globe & Mail has an op-ed on why you shouldn't do the challenge, and it's definitely worth a read. That's part of my reason.

And, as stated earlier, there are other places I donate to, and while this is a worthy cause, what makes it worthier than those? And how dare anyone weigh one charity's worth against another?

Here's the other thing: it's so very, very public. Which means that if I wanted to tag any number of my friends or relatives, I couldn't because - gasp! *faint* - they're not on social media. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Vine, no Pinterest. Nothing. Virtually no digital footprint because, unlike librarians, their jobs don't "require" them to be Visible and Out There. How could they possibly participate if it's not public, if they can't be seen to participate? (think tree falling in forest...)

I come from a family that feels giving back is important (my great-grandfather started the tradition, and I think all of us have kept it up to one degree or another). Even when I was young, it was expected that we give every week (from our allowance - which really did mean we weighed the value of the donation vs. what else we wanted to do with the money). As I've grown older, I've found several causes that are near and dear to me and I've continued the tradition. Beyond a mention (sometimes) in the annual report, I don't expect any fuss - I've even stopped one large, family-driven donation from being a "named" gift - because that's not why I give.

So on two levels, I just can't. And please, think twice (or more!) about tagging your friends. Don't shame them into doing this.


Broken News

The following might be insensitive, and I don't mean for it to be: I really do feel for Robin Williams' family and friends, and that he had depression? The whole thing is tragic.

But... Last night, during Jeopardy, ABC News inserted a Breaking News Bulletin.  Robin Williams had died, possibly a suicide, at age 63.  More details to follow.

Was I shocked? Yes, but not because of the death.  I'm sorry, this wasn't "Breaking News".  It's news, but worthy of interrupting another program?  No.

Because ISIS.

Because Ukraine.

Because Gaza.

Because Ferguson.

Because Robin Williams, while a wonderful actor (his work on Homicide was amazingly understated and real throughout, unlike virtually any other role you saw him in) and genius-level comedian, was not any of those.  Or a presidential assassination, or another September 11, or a plane being shot down, or any number of other events I could name.

The news is broken.


Happy Belated!

Whoops!  I've been a little distracted and my ten year blog anniversary passed me by.  Ten years.  Ten.

This blog has changed and morphed, and I'm still unsure about the direction it will (or should) take.  Long-time readers have read about my political rants, culture vulturing, books, cats (and loss of two, Lulu and Bogie), the Things in my life, job stuff and, well, just about everything including my blood pressure.

Just compare July 2004 to July 2014.

So here's your opportunity to weigh in: what do you want to read about?  DO you want to continue reading?