Two thoughts on this rainy morning:

1. The past 10 years since I moved from NYC I've lived in small buildings where my bedroom was under the roof.  Rainy days were announced by the pitterpat of raindrops on said roof, and in summer I could also hear the rain hitting the trees outside (assuming open windows).  Now I'm living in a lower floor apartment in a city, so why does the rain sound so much louder?

2. Last night's debate.  It sounded a lot like Trump said (based on his financial history and success) that the US would declare bankruptcy.  Because debt.

Both make me want to just curl up in bed all day and not come out.


Maybe it's me?

Over the weekend a student mused about the existential question, "who am I?" - he was talking about things like college essays, not some teenage identity crisis. I've been thinking about the same thing because, well, some things have been happening that make me wonder if I'm some sort of jinx or should be paid to stay away from work.

Ok, so, you all know that one library I worked with burned down and another had a leak, right?  Well, actually it was three of five libraries that have had leak issues (two roof leaks - one of those roofs was supposedly solid concrete! - and one burst pipe) and one did burn down.  And all while I was working there. 

Then there's the Head problem.  Three of the five Heads I've worked with have had either grave loss and time off this year, or have taken time off for health/family reasons.  Three of five.  Luckily(?) I wasn't working at those schools at the time, but I kinda gotta think that the others might be a little nervous.  If they knew, of course.  Because I'm sure not telling them!

Thing is that I really do like my job.  I've liked my previous jobs.  I've liked most of the Heads I've worked with.  I've liked that schools I've worked in.  So what is it about me?


Shock and Sorrow

I'm in the middle of my current Big Life Change and trying to take care of my aging, arthritic back and knees, managing The Herd's stress and preparing for the next phase.  So my focus isn't really on what's going on "out there" beyond what used to be amusement over The Donald and is now a sincere conviction that he's deliberately sabotaging his campaign so he's "forced" to run as an independent.  There is one other thing that's caught my attention: reaction to a book that was nominated for an award that, well... you judge.

It's not just that the author has completely missed the point of the story of Esther, or that she's created a relationship that simply would never have happened in real life.  Getting entered for the award isn't a problem either - many books get published and many books get submitted for various awards.  The bigger problem for me is that the committee for this award didn't read the book and think, "wait - what??" That the book was published isn't the problem, it's the official imprimatur of the award committee that's the problem.

What brought this to my attention was this blog post.  Which was followed by this one.

Unlike Jennifer, I was born a Jew and raised in a Jewish family.  The congregation we belonged to in SmallTown had a number of Holocaust survivors and they ensured that we understood what they went through.  They spoke, we saw film reels, we read Holocaust literature (Night in seventh grade stands out) and were never allowed to forget. Our sense of Jewish history was:
  • the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • the Egyptian exile
  • the Assyrian exile
  • the Babylonian exile
  • Masada
  • the Diaspora
  • pogroms
  • the Holocaust
Jennifer worries about her daughter finding out how difficult it can be to be a Jew in this world.  I understand that, having been raised with very little but that.  My father, who grew up in a very warm, vibrant Jewish community in the Bronx eventually caught on and was concerned that the joys of being Jewish were not being taught.  He was right.  My education consisted of the old joke


Only, it wasn't a joke.

My decision to become a Quaker has nothing to do with any of that - honest - and I'm one of only two people in my very large extended family who has left the Jewish faith.  But here's the thing: it was my choice.  Freely made over a period of years, not under any duress.  And in no way did my decision "redeem" me. You know, unlike the heroine of For Such A Time.

Until recently I didn't know that I had family who perished in the Holocaust.  I'd always thought that they "luckily" came to America (or gone to Panama) in the late 1800s/early 1900s (if you consider it lucky to escape pogroms).  A few years ago, my uncle told me that his grandfather sent money home to his parents and siblings for decades, until World War II when it became clear that there was no one left.

What's the point of this post?  It's that within a few weeks the High Holidays will commence, a time when Jews worldwide will gather to pray, atone, celebrate and participate in a religion that has been around for 5776 years (or, for those Christians out there, 3761 years longer than the Christian faith).  That this book is out there, that the author doesn't understand how wrong she was (seriously: she used Holocaust Remembrance Day as an opportunity for a giveaway!), that the publisher, the RWA and the award committee don't get what pain they've caused is incomprehensible to me.

It should be incomprehensible to everyone.


Grumble Millennials Grumble

Yes, I'm an old fogey and getting older by the minute.  The past week just proves it.

Saturday I attempted to dine at Sonic.  "Attempted" means that I pulled my car into the bay, thought about the menu and planned my meal, and pressed the Big Red Button.  Ten minutes later, Jeremy asked me to wait a minute.  Five minutes after that, my Big Red Button turned off and I pressed it again.  It turned off, I re-re-pressed it.  The car in the next bay got their meal, and Thing One asked if Jeremy was even still working there.  The waitress said she'd talk with him.  Five minutes after that, another waitress appeared... with another car's meal.  We left.  No one working in that Sonic was over 25.

Sunday, while shopping, I attempted asking a question about a product.  The young'un in charge of that area was so involved with her texting that I gave up.

At a recent workshop, one of the self-described Millennial stated that she did not feel that corporate hierarchy was rigid, that she would frequently go talk to her boss' boss without fear (or notifying her boss).  That's all well and good, but there are sometimes reasons why one should follow the chain.  (Aside: this is often also the attitude of those who grew up defying The Man during the 60s).

I don't mind younger people, honestly.  I do mind that there is a certain level of politeness and consideration that seems to be lacking, that they seem uncomfortable dealing with others in any manner than online (or at some remove).  Is it too much to ask that people in the service industry, you know, serve?  Or that when you're sitting at a table with younger colleagues (and by younger, read "young enough to be your children") they make polite conversation or - at the very least - they acknowledge your existence?

Or am I just too old?


What I like about The Donald

I've been watching the news and listening to The Donald (Trump, in case anyone's wondering) go on about war heroes and illegal immigrants and bad trade agreements.  It's great theatre, isn't it? And that hair... wow.

At first, he was a joke.  Then a dangerous joke.  Now? I'm not so sure what he is, except that without explaining anything about his real policies, he's sucking up everyone else's political airtime.  It's genius, when you think about it: say a bunch of crazy, off-the-cuff things that sound even more outrageous when you try to explain what you meant ("I like people who weren't captured" - what does that even mean?!) and sit back and enjoy the coverage.  Forget coming up with anything concrete about how you would do anything, or what your ideas are, just do that.

But that's only part of why I like The Donald.  He's so unabashedly himself, no political advisers carefully crafting the message in sight.  And the wealth!  Remember waaaay back when, when President George H.W. Bush was accused of being out of touch because he didn't know the price of milk?  That's not a question The Donald will be answering, because we all know he has no idea.  Mitt Romney, and before him, Ross Perot, tried to play the just folks card, too.  It didn't work.

We all know he's not "one of us", just plain folks trying to make a living.  Let's face it, he's the embodiment of the American Dream, the one where Daddy gives you a large starting-out gift ($10 million, in this case), not the one where you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, a la any of Horatio Alger's heroes.  The Donald has been a reality tv show since well before the genre started, with the wives and the gilded lifestyle and the knowledge that no one (no one!) does it bigger, better and with less plausible hair than he does.

Do I think he's a viable candidate?  No.  Can anyone, even those who are "liking" him in the polls, really see him being statesman-like?  He's far more likely to tell a foreign dignitary "you're fired" than to work out a deal.  Or see him as Consoler in Chief, speaking words of wisdom and comfort after some tragic event? And as much as we might want someone who speaks their mind, he's a little too much for us.

But as pure theatre, I'm enjoying The Donald Show. 


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A very good quarter, reading-wise. I even got to read some from Mt. Bookpile, not just ARCs and new stuff. According to my self-imposed goal, I ended the quarter two books ahead of schedule. That's great because the next month will be filled with travel and Big Life Changes so I'll end up behind.


Children's/Young Adult 





Speculative Fiction


By the numbers

WOOT! When I first started tracking Mt. Bookpile on GoodReads, it was 341 books high (that was in July, 2007).  As of today, Mt.B has shrunk to a mere 241 books - which to the untrained eye appears to be about 12.5 books a year.  However, to the trained eye, it's amazing I've even gotten that far down, and should only take about another 20 years to completely demolish it.

For some (Things One through Three, for example), 12.5 books a year would be amazing.  For me?  Well... Turns out that since then, I've gotten 1921 books (not including library books I've borrowed).  And I've read 2060 books, an average of 257.5 books a year.  So basically, if I don't get another book again, I've got enough to cover me for a while before I start re-reading.  Some of those books will take considerable longer than others, like the Trollope set I have, or books like Wrought With Steadfast Will and Vanished Kingdoms.  So maybe two years of reading, give or take.

On Thursday I head to ALA's Annual Conference.  What are the odds I don't return with books?

About a year later I started the Killin' Time Reading blog, which now has 1671 reviews.  The discrepancy in numbers is that I don't review books on the blog that I've been asked to review professionally or that I read for a book award.  YA books outweigh the Adult books for obvious reasons, with what I've taken to calling "YA Speculative Fiction" the overall winner.

I wonder what all this will look like in another eight years.  Check back then, ok?


I just have to rant

The network TLC has gotten a lot of bad press thanks to the presence of child molesters on two shows (ok, one wasn't on the show but he was around the show and dating the mother of a child he molested).  They did the semi-responsible thing and pulled the shows from production; the responsible thing would to have also offered additional counseling to the victims, and to have come out with a strongly worded statement about how disgusting the behavior of these men was.  Even worse, the parents and sisters of the most recent example are defending him.  It just makes my skin crawl.

Years ago, in high school and college, there were teachers/professors we knew were more friendly than they should be, that there were some who had inappropriate relationships with students.  True or not, things were different then and we didn't get as upset about the abuse of position and trust and all that as we do now.  I'm not defending, just sayin'.  I had a friend who was raped, which was a very different thing than a professor having a fling with a student.

Most schools, if not all, have training in two things: how to avoid/be aware of sexual harassment, and what it means to be a mandated reporter.  That means if we see something, we have to say something. Optimally, it means that if you see something or are uncomfortable about something, you can talk to one of the people at school who are empowered to investigate the event (obviously, you can always go to the police or CPS/DCF if it's that serious).  Twice I've seen schools fail this duty.

Once was when a potential candidate came and was teaching a computer science class, cracking jokes about testosterone in the room and generally putting down women.  He continued to do this in other interviews, and one teacher brought the matter to the attention of the appropriate person at the school.  The response? It didn't matter.  Readers, they hired him.  Over the objections of several female faculty based on sexist comments, and several others based on incompetence.

And now there's a teacher who has sent somewhat inappropriate texts and other communications (like posting online) to a student.  The student has told a few adults and was promised something would happen.  One adult lied and said this had been reported to the authorities.  This isn't the first time this person has responded in a questionable manner, and the problem is I really do like them so it's difficult to not say WTF????  Another teacher, one who knows the student far better and has direct knowledge of the communications, reported to the outside authorities, but apparently all this doesn't rise to the level of criminal activity.

Ok, I get that, and I'm not upset about that.  Sleezy and poor judgement aren't criminal.  But that the school doesn't seem to be doing anything else bothers me.  Of course, something could be being done, for example mandated training in appropriate relationships/communications with students.  Or ensuring that this teacher isn't alone with students until everyone is sure that there's no danger to the students.  Or something else.  And you know what?  It's not my business to know what's going on behind the scenes.

What's upsetting is that the teacher who did report and the student are left with the impression that this is not a safe space.  And that's inexcusable.


Meeting Musings

Today was a bittersweet Meeting, as we gathered not just for worship but also to say farewell to our outgoing Clerk, who is leaving for a new life in Santa Fe.

The weather was gorgeous, so many of us opted to sit outside; there were three who sat inside the Meeting House.  Because our Meeting is so small, whomever is the Greeter is also in charge of starting Meeting, bringing worship to a close and for bringing the snacks for our post-Meeting gathering (lighting the stoves and trying to warm the building are wintertime tasks).  Usually that person leaves with about 5-10 minutes to go, heats up the tea water, and then comes back to let us know that it is the rise of Meeting.

Today, our Greeter left to start the water, and the rest of us kept our silence.  Suddenly, coming out of the Meeting House, came an electronic chime.  Then, eerily, Siri's voice saying, "I'm sorry.  I do not understand the question."

Needless to say, that broke up Meeting as we all chuckled about the coincidence and the aptness of the comment.  And some of us wondered, what does Apple know that we Quakers don't?


We must be related!

As an adoptee, there are times when you look at who your family is and try to find things that look familiar: someone's nose, for example, or your affinity for math, or your allergy to pinecones.  When we find something like that in my family, my mother is apt to exclaim, "We must be related!"

It may have come up earlier in this blog, but I cannot sing.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I can vocalize on some sort of melody, and sometimes even hit the notes that the other person is singing.  But usually I'm off, either by a painful lot or by a niggling tone or two.  My neighbors must have loved me, because I do like to sing... I just shouldn't.  Ever.  In public.  Or private.

Thing One is a very patient person, and over the past nearly 28 years has put up with a lot.  Including my unique brand of song stylings.  I have a rather large knowledge of lyrics and frequently enjoy inserting them into the conversation when we're watching tv.  Last week he mentioned that I seem to have only one tune with innumerable lyrics.  Now, that's not exactly true, there are more tunes.  It's just that the tune I hear in my head is never the one that comes out my mouth (when I'm singing a cappella) and usually isn't even close to what the original singer/composer intended.

Apparently my mother's mother used to play a game with her children where she'd hum a tune and make them guess the song.  In her mind she'd be humming, say, "Strangers in the Night" and yet somehow it never made it past her lips to anything recognizable.

I've never met the woman, as she died when my mother was 13 (or, as I like to think of it, when I was -12).  Despite that, we must be related!

And if Thing One (or any other Thing) is reading: I'm still gonna sing.  Bring earplugs.