31.5.05

I never thought I'd read this

From A List Of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago:
"STILL UNANSWERED: WHO DID DALLAS? In an upcoming article in Vanity Fair, former FBI agent W. Mark Felt -- who Carl Bernstein's 11-year old son already dimed, so nice job keeping the secret, dude -- says that he was 'Deep Throat.' This confirms Nixon's own suspicions."
Ok, first of all: Vanity Fair gets the exclusive? Vanity Fair?????

Second, I have to admit that I don't mind my pet theory being blown (I thought it was Ford, in an incredibly ironic twist of fate). I don't mind that it wasn't the former President Bush or Henry K. or any of the other "usual suspects". It's just so... I don't know... a letdown or something to hear that it was an FBI agent. Anyone else with me on that one?

Third, despite Mr. Felt's admission, there hasn't been a corresponding "yeah, it was him" from Bradlee or Woodstein, so until there is, I'm not accepting this as truth.

Still... wow. Now, if only we could find Lord Lucan...

30.5.05

ENOUGH Already

I'm taking advantage of the West Wing marathon to import books from my old catalog into my new one. It's bad enough when Rex Stout writes Death Times Three and Three Doors to Death, but when John Dickinson Carr and Dorothy Simpson both write "Wake the Dead"...

Notable Quotes

What is the sound of half a shout?
My uncle, after hearing that a friend was going to
a Zen Conflict Resolution seminar

29.5.05

Another rant

Bert Webb writes that Technology Can Hurt Writing Skills, something I've been saying for a long time now. Here are a few salient comments from Mr. Webb:
I received an email from a very influential person in the education profession. Her email was a profession update and was addressed to hundreds of educational administrators... This person has earned a doctorate. She has been considered an expert in her field for decades. However, she wrote like a teenager talking to her friends on her instant messenger on Saturday night.

Knowing that most of my readers are professional men and women in various professions, we should not allow our writing styles sabotage our credibility when communicating with clients, peers, subordinates, and superiors. Yet, many of us do, thinking that, because we are using an electronic medium, we can circumvent the rules of grammar and best practices in written communication. I have also spent hours reading blogs where the standard of communication has been less than acceptable, in my opinion. Sometimes, this is due to the author trying to attract a more youthful demographic audience. Shame on us as professionals.
There is a blog I read for professional reasons that irritates me as much as this e-mail irritated Mr. Webb. The author of the blog (one that is sponsored, I might add, by one of the leading publications in the school library world) was, in a previous career-life, a reporter. To me, that suggests a certain standard for communication. Yet this blog is rife with typos and grammatical errors, making it difficult to read. The lack of consistency and transitional phrases just compounds the problem.

I'm not claiming that this blog doesn't have it's share of mistakes, but it's a personal blog, not a professional one. Granted, that's a rationalisation, and a bad one. I do try to edit out the most egregious "oopses" (and welcome editorial commentary that blue pencils my work).

I keep thinking about my students, and the errors they make. One of our English teachers aggressively drills the students on grammar and sentence structure, ensuring that they get some instruction in this increasingly arcane field. Sadly, even after a year of this, many still cannot write a five paragraph essay that hangs together. When they come to me for help, I find I often have to write "Explain" or "How?" or "Where is the evidence?" or "You didn't answer the question" in the margins. Unlike the writer of the blog mentioned above, they are young and still learning.

Reliance on spell check is another problem. I've noticed that many words I use now (blog, for example) are not in the dictionary and must be learned. I tell my students (and myself) to read and reread so as to catch the mistakes that are not caught by the computer program. I mention one student, now a sophomore in college, who handed in a paper extolling the life and work of Martian Luther King, Jr. (the well-known alien rights activist).

Raising the bar shouldn't be necessary: we should all know how to present ourselves as competent, educated adults (Has anyone read the blog of a so-called celebrity who writes in verse? I tried and gave up because it sounds like the babblings of someone in need of remedial 6th grade English.). Those of us representing an organization or writing as professional experts should be held to an even higher standard.

27.5.05

I'd like to say something...

the problem is, I'm not sure I can.

This morning, at breakfast, one of my colleagues mentioned that she has a real problem with the students: they have nothing to say. "I have [subject] with you next period" is their idea of conversation. She's sick of it and them.

Of course, that got me wondering. I have a good relationship with most of the students. Does that mean that I, too have nothing to say? Or does it mean that the bar I set for good conversation is that much lower?

Until I figure it out, I think I'll stay quiet.

K.I.S.S.

If you don't know what K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) means, you're probably happy about the explosion of "features" in electronics. Me? Not so happy. Here's one perfect example of what I mean: Internet Tablet.

As part of my move, I've had to set up phone service. I don't want digital service, because it won't work if there's a blackout. Just a landline, thank you very much. And not one with Caller ID (that's why I have an answering machine), three-way calling, call forwarding, differentiated rings or a timer for my coffee maker. All I want is regular, old-fashioned phone service. Why is that so hard to get?

I don't want a cell phone that surfs the web. I don't want a coffee maker that shines my shoes. My computer doesn't need to also play DVDs or CDs. Yes, I end up with more machines, but I end up with ones that do what they need to do and do that thing well, without bloatware.

Yes, there's a certain appeal to TiVo, but I have a VCR and I can use that fastforward button. It's not like there's so much on tv that I want to save permanently, any way. Besides, relying on TiVo means I'm tied to a machine, and I'd prefer to be living life.

Too many machines, too much technology leads to too many complications and a too cluttered, too bustled life. Being "plugged in" all day, every day, isn't healthy. And, of course, now we're seeing a backlash. As Steve Johnson reports from MIT's Media Lab,
By the way, another irony from the event: A couple of the new devices discussed that seemed to draw the most interest from the audience weren't new technology so much as ways to put the lid on existing stuff.

One device let you kill all cell phone signals in any room you entered. The other was a pair of glasses that, as I understood it, make any TV screen you look at appear to you to be off, or dark.

Will there come a point when we're too busy correcting current technologies to actually develop new ones?
Might just be easier to turn them off. Heretical, but effective.

Links Galore

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 20.
What is your score? Get it here.
(þ: The Little Professor)

26.5.05

More Blog Thoughts

Today's featured blog comments come from Morgan, at Exploded Library. In the first post, she is trying to understand the blogging backlash, based on the recent comments by Cronin and Gorman (two library world biggies). The issue seems to be about how people blog, and the content, rather than the fact of blogs (which, unfortunately, Cronin and Gorman confuse with the real issues). Blogs are toys, and in a few years people will move on to the next, better toy. For some, yes, they are personal diaries writ large - filled with personal thoughts, feelings, day-to-day ephemera, etc. For others, it's a place to publicly voice opinion and commentary on the events of the day (or their particular world). For still others, it's the opportunity to be The Person Who Knows (the so-called "A List bloggers") in a way that, pre-blogs, they couldn't be. Morgan says
In the blogosphere as I understand it, people generally do not defer to anyone, irrespective of their academic or political accomplishments. In my idealized view of the blogosphere, it doesnÂ’t matter who you are, only what you say.
I agree.

Her second post deals with the tricky issue of blogrolls, those lists appearing next to the comments.
I prefer shorter and selective blogrolls. I subscribe to way more blogs than this, but don't think there's much value in posting a fairly meaningless longer list. Because I prefer shorter lists, it is a given that many quality blogs won't be included. I make no claims that the blogs on my blogroll are the best, just that they're worth looking at if you haven't seen them already.
Once again, I agree. I sometimes add blogs to the list appearing here at Killin' Time Being Lazy, but usually the selection stays the same. I have many more blogs that I follow using Bloglines, and I'm happy to share that list with people that ask for it. I don't expect you to enjoy or follow the same things I do, and vice-versa. We are all (I presume) adults. Adults shouldn't get hung up on the petty stuff like "you like her blog more than mine". 'Nuff said.

25.5.05

My biggest fear

As Eric Zorn says, "But it'’s hard to think of anything more poignant than a human being dying alone and unknown." Katherine's death in The English Patient brought me to tears - she wasn't unknown, but she was alone. My time in the hospital a few years ago brought those fears rushing back... I can't imagine a worse fate for anyone.

Not even for Narnia

Colby Cosh (who is seemingly starring in today's posts) pointed me to this post about upcoming video games:
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Gameboy Advance)

"I'm not buying a Gameboy until they bring out Mere Christianity." I wish I could've somehow worked that into a conversation, but I couldn't. This is a point-and-click style adventure game tied to the upcoming movie (trailer here), but since there's no mouse on the Gameboy this means "walk slowly across the screen and click".

I played a little girl in a dress (Lucy, presumably) wandering in a mysterious snowy landscape, with an "A" button for jump and a "B" button for kick. I was approached by a faun, one Mr. Tumnus, who rapidly broke down and blurted out his story about a White Witch whose spell had been cast upon the once green and pleasant land. I tried to kick him repeatedly in the groin: B B B B B B. The game tediously refused to acknowledge this attempt. He asked me to shove some boulders out of a path, even though I was a tiny weak girl and he was at least eight pixels taller than me; after another frustrating round of B B B B I gave in and cleared the path, which allowed us to walk into his home, where I went around unsuccessfully trying to break stuff (B B B B B).

I think this game would be sort of like a heavily-abridged book on tape where the author made you solve an arithmetic problem before hearing each passage. On the other hand, it was fun to imagine going back in time to tell my young self reading the book that one day it would be reconstituted on a lightweight, portable electronic device with an animated color screen where I could knee Mr. Tumnus in the 'nads."
I'm really excited about the movie, and I've always thought that the Ransome trilogy would make a good book or tv series, but this is just a bit much. Does anyone else agree? And why are the executors of the estate allowing this?!

Welcome!

If you're coming to this blog from the link on Colby Cosh's website, welcome. I hope this sporadic collection of thoughts interests you and you stick around. Feel free to comment and add your voice to the conversation.

(Of course all other readers are welcome, too!)

24.5.05

This is what's wrong with our country!

Tom Watson's posting that Frist Fades to Black. I'm not as sanguine about the recent events, but I am hopeful. What do I hope for?

A return to civility in politics. I mean, is it that too much to ask for? Here's how it used to be:
STROTHER: Incredible. What that is, is an example of what was compared to what is. The Senate at one time was a completely different institution. I learned about the Senate from these two guys, Monaghan and Dole, of course, but from John Stennis and Lloyd Benson.

They were a group of people who admired and respected each other, and Dole found out that I was filming Monaghan, walked by the room, said hey would you like to film me saying something about Russell Long, that`s an easy thing to do, and came in the room and sat down next to Monaghan, and I saw that as a great opportunity. But it just shows the difference in the violent partisanship that exists now and the comradery that existed in the late `70s and early `80s.
Only 20 years ago. Sigh.

Why not?

Alice writes If only.... based on dissatisfaction with the recent SLJ Summit. The person running the Virtual Summit Blog is not a librarian, which shouldn't be an impediment, but is only because she doesn't seem to get it. What "it"? The "it" that spells out who we are and what we do, and how. It's like we - school librarians and school libraries - are a foreign concept to her and she's trying to educate us about ourselves.

It would be great if Alice's dream came true. The question is, who could coordinate such a meeting? Bill Gates and George Lucas claim to be involved with education, but it seems that they want to determine the course, not let the people in the trenches do it. I guess visionaries don't care what practitioners know.

If you know anyone that could help - drop them a note and point them to her post. Couldn't hurt!

Collection dilemma

Luckily, this isn't about The Collection - it's about the collection at school. This is the time of year when all good school librarians start to think about what they'll put into their summer book order: which books do we want students to "oooh" and "aaah" over when they arrive in September?

As I've mentioned previously, I get a lot of Readers Advance copies from publishers. It's a great way to figure out of the hype is really just that, or deserved. One of my big gripes has been the increase in the coming-of-age book that's clearly written to take advantage of the current technology and trends but is so poorly written that I can't imagine kids reading it.

Right now, I'm reading two books that are in that genre. One is set in 7th grade, the other in 8th (yes, it's a series). From what I remember of my time in those two grades, and from what I've seen my students going through, these are pretty good at getting the emotional side of things down right. Despite not growing up in NYC or attending a fancy NYC private school, I identified with the characters and situations. So, clearly, I should buy them for the school, right?

Not so fast! Something about the books jarred me and then, about 90 pages into the first, I realised what it was. They're written about a past youth (probably the author's). The newsletter is dated 1981, there are no cell phones, no computers, not even a Walkman; a group studying Jane Eyre names itself Eyre Supply in hommage to Air Supply; Elvis Costello is considered new. I double checked the copyright date, and it's 2004.

There's a part of me that wonders if the kids I work with now will read these and enjoy them because of the truthful emotions and situations, or will they get hung up on the latent nostalgia for a more innocent era (no rainbow club here!) and view this as historical fiction?

23.5.05

Immobilisation

Isn't it odd how sometimes the tiniest thing can immobilise you? The past few weeks I've been passive-aggressive about my upcoming Big Life Change: aggressively putting things on the To Do list, passively letting them sit there.

Today I was filled with energy and oomph and was going to make a dent in the End of Year work that needs to be done. Then I got a phone call about my new car from the dealer upstate (they want it off the lot asap) and - whoosh! - all that energy just vanished. I did some work, but no where nearly enough, and I'm now further behind than I was yesterday.

I did have a nice guy from the insurance company explain things to me, though. He recognized that, despite my age, I am a complete newbie to the whole car thing (I've been driving for 26 years, just never owned, which is sooooo different from renting and borrowing from friends!). It was the first time someone - including my family and friends - took the time to talk to me without assuming I knew what was going on. Very refreshing.

Now, fingers crossed that I have energy tomorrow for blogging and real-work related things!

19.5.05

Imponderables

Every morning, as I walk to the subway, there is one street that I cross that is filled with taxis. These cars are empty, ferrying their drivers from the company base to Manhattan, and there's nothing the drivers would like better than to have a fare as they cross the Brooklyn Bridge. If, like me, you're cheap and don't want to pay more than $2 to get to work, you learn to stand with your hands in your pockets, staring either at your feet or straight ahead, so that the drivers don't think that you want a cab.

What always surprises me is, after I've let ten cabs go by, the eleventh slows down - like his is the one I've been waiting for!

17.5.05

Not as good as "Headless Man Found In Topless Bar"...

But Holy Shiite comes pretty close!

There'll alwayz b a Nengland

My jaw dropped when I read this: Incorrect spelling will not be penalised in English tests.

Some years ago, a friend working as a Spanish teacher in a very well-regarded NYC public school told me that two mistakes per sentence were acceptable on the Spanish Regent's exam, thus lifting overall grades and school scores. Now this, from England of all places. My British-schooled friends always brag about the quality of their education vs. those of us the received a traditional American one.

Guess those days are gone!

16.5.05

Imponderables

Let's say you're looking for a job and you (not a headhunter) send your resume in to a company. On your resume, you list your prior job experience - including a stint at the company you've just sent the resume to.

Now, knowing that the people that will be sorting/evaluating your resume/experience, don't you think it'd be a good idea that you can talk about your prior experience at that company? Like, for example, giving a name of someone you'd worked with and details about the projects on which you worked?

A friend just told me about an applicant that claimed to work at Company X, but when questioned could not recall a name or a detail. Worse yet, this person claimed to work in the NYC office when the department for whom they worked is/was/always will be based in NJ. And then this person got indignant when the hiring people checked with personnel about dates and salary (oddly enough, none of that information existed for this person, which was obviously a computer glitch!).

A true story to enliven your back-to-work Monday.

15.5.05

It's not always spam

Because I know someone that's a computer security nut, I started running my e-mail through Mailwasher. That way, I can kill the spam before it even gets near my hard drive. Usually you can tell when it's That Kind of e-mail: the subject line looks a bit off, the return address is completely unknown, etc..

Today I got an e-mail from an unknown, with the subject header "Old Friendships". That's the giveaway for Lonely Susie, just looking for a few people to meet/check out her webcam, right? So, it gets the big Delete. Except... this time I peaked at the message. Don't know why I did, but I did. And - big surprise - it wasn't spam! It was from someone I'd been friends with decades ago, in 4-7 grade.

How do I know it's real? She remembered the street on which I lived, the small town we lived in, and (not easily available on the web) my Dreaded Middle Name.

I'd love to say it's taught me a lesson about being more trusting about e-mail, or the amount of information out there on the web. I can't, but I can say that sometimes - just sometimes - it's a good thing all this exists!

13.5.05

At a loss for words

In an interesting confluence of events, yesterday our HS Drama classes put on "The Laramie Project" and early this morning, Connecticut put Michael Ross to death.

"Laramie", for those that don't know, is based on the events surrounding the murder of Matthew Shephard in 1998. It's an incredibly powerful piece, and the acting was just... words fail me. The way these teens got under the skin of the characters, each playing several different people with varying ages and genders and backgrounds, was incredible. It's not a short play - 2 1/2 hours plus intermission - and the intensity of the acting and action makes it almost intolerable. The few comic moments came from the absolute humanity of the people involved.

One of the things that struck me was the speach by Shephard's father, taken from his Victim's Impact Statement during the second trial (that of AJ McKinney):
"I would like nothing better than to see you die... However, this is the time to begin the healing process, to show mercy to someone who refused to show mercy... I give you life in the memory of one who no longer lives... Every time you celebrate a birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas or the Fourth of July, remember Matthew isn't celebrating it... I hope you have a long life to celebrate."

Stuck in a book

I just started a new book and am about 30-40 pages in. It's one of the Readers Advance copies I picked up in Boston in January, patiently waiting on Mt. Bookpile to be chosen. It's a YA Fantasy book. It's the dreaded "d" word - derivative.

CS Lewis once wrote that if you're going to write about a sci-fi world, make the place and the story totally different. Don't create a love story and put it on a planet somewhere "out there": make the planet memorable. Make the story memorable. L. Frank Baum did this with Oz - the Gnome King, the Quadling country, Bunbury and Bunnybury could not be transported back to "real" Earth.

My current read might have been different years ago, but today it's another Tolkein-alike, another Eragon-wannabe. Will I read it? Yes, because it's my job. And it's quite possible that I won't find it so onerous I'll resent the hours spent on the read. But I do resent the lack of imagination that allowed it to be published.

Links Galore

  • If you're a podder, or are just looking for good playlists, FIQL.com is the place for you (þ: Coco)
  • Looking for some word fun? Go to AskOxford.
  • It's probably a good thing that none of the books in the Invisible Library are available to be added to Mt. Bookpile! (þ : So Many Books)

12.5.05

More battle of the books

Karmon posted about my post, adding this about audiobooks:
But what I'm surprised about is that people don't express the same distaste for audio books. Personally I don't find them appealing. There is no physical connection to the book when it goes audio. (Does it even still qualify as a book?) I don't like people talking at me (I never listen to morning radio), and the person reading does not move through the words at the same pace I do. Plus, the narrator stands between me and the story, putting his or her interpretation and "voice" into the reading. I have MY imagination to do that. Furthermore, I like to go back and reread passages, especially if I find them moving. The rewind button is a less than accurate way to do this. After a few dissatisfying experiences with audio books, I've found I don't like them.
I have to be honest, I've never tried an audiobook. Not from a snobby standpoint, nor for the same reasons Kar suggests, but because I can't follow the narrative. If you read anything longer than a paragraph to me, I get lost if I can't see the words. Simple as that.

Then there's this discussion thread on Eclectic Librarian about the "uber-wired woman" (who prefers "analog" books to e-books). It's like I said in this post: you need to choose what works for you. Just seems that a whole lot of people think books work better than "that other format".

10.5.05

You can't always get what you want

But sometimes you do get what you need!

I've been in complete panic mode about the Big Life Change, which seems to get ever more complicated and problematic every time I turn around. Since Saturday I've been taking Xanax to get through the day and night without hyperventilating and, to be honest, I'm not sure it's working.

This morning was one of those mornings when it just seemed like the world was caving in on top of me. Then, it happened. Our music teacher came in and told me that there would be an 8th grade field trip and did I want to help chaperone? The last time she did this, I got to see an opera, so of course I said yes. Where were we going? Just up the street to Lincoln Center Plaza, to see the Rolling Stones.

Oh.

We left the school and headed to the Plaza, along with NYU's graduates and a bunch of others. The stage was set up right in front of Julliard's entrance, with cameras and scaffolding obscuring much of the view. After a 50 minute wait, and several false starts, we heard lots of cheers, a roll of the drum and then... Start me up! blasted through the speaker towers. This was followed by some new song (the adults in the group agreed that after "Some Girls" the Stones could have stopped recording) and they ended with "Brown Sugar". Mick strutted, preened and made faces... Keith looked cool and very Johnny Depp-ish (who was parodying whom?)... Charlie's beat just steadied the music.

On our way back, some of the Asian students were still puzzled as to why we would skip class to see some old people play what they felt was derivative, repetitive music with unintelligible words. They've heard Mahler and Puccini, but not Jagger and Richards.

Lest you think we were neglecting our charge to educate today's youth, we came up with the following list of ways we met the NCLB standards:
  • demonstrating the cross-cultural/cross-gender appeal of music
  • listening to the meaning of the lyrics and how some could be perceived as poetry
  • showing the influence of African and black American rhythms on modern music
  • discussing the role of the Stones in the culture of the 1960s and the afteraffect of the Altamont concert
  • modeling the proper distance to be from noise (to avoid hearing problems) , how to lose weight by aerobic dance and how to shield one's self from the sun in an outdoor space
I have to say, though, that fun as this was (and I will miss this part of working/living in New York), I enjoyed seeing them at Shea in '89 more.

This I can do!

Now that I've got a house to clean (ok, it's smaller than my current apartment but still...) The Keep-It-Clean Plan will come in handy.

9.5.05

Which side are you on?

Seth Godin discusses the new digital divide and says "I think a new divide has opened up, one that is based far more on choice than on circumstance." He's right.

My choice is to straddle the divide: I use Firefox, but I watch Brian Williams. I use RSS, but can't stand Slashdot or BoingBoing. I prefer reading my news the old-fashioned way (paper). I enjoy keeping up with friends the new fashioned way (e-mail). What does this say about me?

I think it says that I know what's out there and have made choices based not on what's hip, what's hot, but on what works for me. What works for me may not work for everyone, and that's fine. The important thing is that people should be able to make those choices, not have change foisted upon them (as I've learned when trying to set up new phone service and they damn nearly thrust "extras" down my throat - I don't want Caller ID or Call Waiting, thank you, I just want to have a dial tone that leads me to whomever I'm calling!). Equally important is knowing what's out there so that you can choose.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Monday.

May? Now?????

Briar touches upon something I go through every year - the suddenness of May. The year passes by so quickly and then - wham! - May hits and all those project that you mean to get around to suddenly happen. Unlike Briar, I'm not finding the days going slowly. Possibly that's because my to do list just keeps getting longer, what with the Huge Life Change and all.

Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and return to the halcyon days of December or November, when things were "normal". I keep asking if I've made the right choice, if my life will ever feel "normal" again. One of my friends said that for the next six months I'll have buyer's remorse. I'm sure she meant to be comforting but it really wasn't.

Still, clock's a-ticking and that to do list isn't shrinking so... TTFN, readers.

7.5.05

How very wrong

Steve pointed out this posting of a meme on "if I could be". The librarian response reads:
If I could be a librarian, I would build the most comprehensive library in the world, along the lines of the Library of Congress. Then I would have a staff put every book into e-book format and create a Netbooks system, like Netflix, so for a small fee (very small) you could borrow books that would be mailed to you. Your membership would include a reader of some kind and the books would be like cartridges. Then I would push to have these readers be as common as telephones and televisions in people's houses, and the ebooks passed around for anyone anywhere to read. This way more people could read and not have to buy books or risk losing or destroying the original copy of a book. Schools would get them donated so their students could use the readers and books.
My first response? EEEWWW.

I don't want e-books, I want the real thing. The pleasure of feeling the pages under my fingers, the smell of a new binding, and the weight of the book in my arms would all be replaced by something that looks and feels like my computer. Why would I ever want to read something that reminds me of work? I read to escape my computer and work and, let's face it, life.

Why don't the technophanatics get that? Please, leave my books alone. They're fine the way they are.

Now, where did I put my latest?

6.5.05

What kind of reader am I?

This post over at THE LITBLOG CO-OP got me thinking about what kind of reader I am.

I'd like to think that everything in The Collection is a "good" book, but if I were to be completely honest I'd admit that there are some that are duds. I can recommend most of The Collection to others with reasonable confidence. Some of the books that I think are duds are those that others highly recommended and that left me either cold or feeling that there were a few hours in my life I'd never get back.

What makes a book "good"? If my real surroundings vanish and I'm in the book (fiction) and I'm so engrossed in what I'm reading that any interruption is a problem, even falling asleep as I'm reading (non-fiction and fiction). "Bad" books are the easily interruptable, could-care-less about the plot and characters books.

Which brings me to my real problem. I'm a clean-your-plate reader. You know, the kind that has to finish a book, no matter how horrible it is. It's hard to wean yourself off that, particularly when the book has been recommended/given to you by someone you know and trust. Even worse is if they expect you to love it and want to talk about it!

For those of you that are thinking I could weed The Collection when I move well, don't worry. I'm thinking about it.

So, what kind of reader are you?

5.5.05

Election Day

Today's Election Day in Britian and Swiss Toni has some things to say about it. Here in New York, we're wondering if the "improvised explosive device" detonated in front of the building housing the British Consulate is related...

3.5.05

For the benefit of Mr. Schwartz

Today is the wrong day to be exhausted: I have to go to MNPOW today, and I was up waaaaay past my bedtime last night. "Why such bad timing?", I hear you ask.

Because last night I attended a benefit for MCPOW. While I couldn't afford the $500/plate dinner, I was allowed to sneak in for the show. And what a show it was: songs from Stephen Schwartz's career performed by people you'll want to keep an eye out for because they're going places (I only wish I could highlight all of the performers for you!).

While I'm not enamoured of all Mr. Schwartz's work, this overview highlighted the best parts. And who knew that "It's All For the Best" really works as a piano/violin duet? I didn't, but I do now! One of the highlights was hearing "For Good" performed by the composer himself. I've heard too many belted versions, too many Mariah Carey-esque versions, to like the song, but he sang it almost plaintively (like Judy Garland doing "Over the Rainbow" at Carnegie Hall) and it worked.

Since it was a one-off performance, all I can recommend is keeping your eyes and ears open for these really talented youngsters. They'll be entertaining us for years to come, I promise.

1.5.05

Choices

Well, I did it. After a lot of looking this weekend, I found a place to live next year (for those of you not in the ed. biz, that's next school year, which starts 1 July 2005). I'm as excited about that as I am about my new car... and, at the same time, terrified. This place is tiny, less than 1/2 the size of what I have now. But I get a private patio/backyard, and it's all mine. Not an apartment, not a townhouse (with "amenities" which I'll never use) - a cottage. Cathedral ceilings even. Tiny, right now, works for me. I don't think I could handle more than tiny, with the other changes in my life.

So: new car, new space, new job. All checked off the Life To-Do in 2005 list.

Now the big question is, since my place is so tiny, what happens to The Collection. The one pushing 2500 items. The one that basically defines my life. Good question. I already know that some things (furniture, tchotkes that I can't part with right now) are just going to have to go into storage for the year, it's The Collection that's the problem. I'd love to be able to say "I'm taking all my favorites with me" but that's just not practical. Fewer than 50 would be left behind.

My current thinking is to bring all C.S. Lewisiana, professional and Children's/YA, along with some cookbooks and reference materials. And Mt. Bookpile. That should only take about four bookcases (the 84" ones). The rest - the Lit/Fic, the SciFi, Horror, Bio, Mystery, History, Philosophy, Religion, Humor and Misc. books - well, I know they'll be safe in storage. And I could always visit, or bring a box of books coming off Mt. Bookpile to join them. The thing is, even with the bulk of The Collection in storage, I'll still be surrounded by books.

Isn't that a comforting thought!

To webblog or not to webblog

Sherrie writes For Myself and Strangers and I think she writes for most of us.