31.3.06

I give up

According to this poll,
An overwhelming majority of voters believe that viewers and not the government should make decisions about what is appropriate to watch on television, according to a poll conducted for the group TV Watch.
But read on.

A whopping 501 people were queried. Isn't that, oh, I don't know, statistically invalid? Yet we're supposed to think that this poll is the Voice of the People.

Yeah, right.

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Feelin' Fluey

Actually, I'm feeling much better than on Tuesday. Still, it's been three days of lying on the sofa bed, watching trashy tv and resting. My fever finally broke, so expect me to back in the saddle soon!

28.3.06

It had to happen

I made it thought the conference, the birthday brunch, the day o'interviews (yesterday: 7 in 8 hours) and came home with a 102.2 fever. So instead of enjoying what's left of spring break by Getting Things Done, I'm going to curl up on my sofabed, turn on the telly, and watch stupid tv for a week. Real World marathon (12-2) here I come!

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27.3.06

Daienu

Some time ago, Terry wrote about multiple copies/versions of classical records. It put me in mind of a session I attended at HVLA, where three librarians involved with various awards committees spoke.

One of them, who'd been a Caldecott "voter", said that she sometimes wished that there were no new books, that the pace of publishing had gotten too fast and quality control was sometimes pushed aside. It sounded a little like this from Terry:
What is it that causes an otherwise sensible musician to conclude that the world is waiting breathlessly for him to reduce to digits his interpretation of a score that has already been recorded twenty times or more?
But then she went on to say that it was silly to think that way because every so often, a gem arises. For me, as far as children's/YA lit goes,

If I never read another orphan/abused child growing into powers/position story again... daienu.

If I never read about a quest... daienu.

If I never see a series where book 3 (or 11) is vastly larger than Book 1... daienu.

If I never read another book written by an adult genre writer for the YA/Children's audience (who generally has no idea what children like)... daienu.

If I never read another book written by a precocious teen... daienu.

But then I'd never have read Rick Riordan. Or Amanda Marquit. Or Clive Barker. Or many others.

So yes, quality control is important. But to stop simply because it all looks like it's been written before would be denying the real gems, the books that will become classics, their place on the shelf.



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26.3.06

Peeved

I hadn't meant to write today. I'd really only meant to crawl into bed with The Boys and read and snooze and rest up for the Big Interview Day tomorrow (not me being interviewed, me interviewing for our LS Librarian position).

However, a friend's celebrating a birthday and I'm going to go to brunch. Fine. I learned about this via a phone call from another friend. No problem. Then, as I'm in bed reading, I get a call from Birthday Girl. She's concerned because I haven't responded to her call to my cel phone. Problem.

You see, I don't use my cel often. I have it off 90% of the time. And the 10% it's on I'm usually the one calling out (unless it's possible we're having a snow day and I'm driving back from NYC). So, naturally, I tell people to not use my cel unless I tell them it'll be on. Seems fair, right? It also means that they can't get pissy because I don't answer/respond to a call left on my cel.

But she's upset. And also upset that she doesn't have my landline number (she does, she's called it, but she's lost/forgotten it somehow). And that I don't give that number out in my sig file.

So now I'm cranky. I went to bed cranky about this. And now I'm up and cranky. Not a good thing to be when you're heading for a celebration.

But really, people, have some respect for those of us that do not want to be continually plugged in and reachable. Some of us see immense value in unplugging, in resting in quiet. And don't blame us if you're not organized enough to keep track of a phone number.

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25.3.06

Lee Rainie @ CIL

I didn't attend this session, but it appears I didn't need to because Jenica's post says it all.

Yes, statements like this
teens look at information retrieval in a contextual environment – if they have their phone, they’ll use their phone. If they’re online, they use browsers. If they’re at school, they’ll use the library. Etcetera. They do not view media as being fixed – media and information are portable, in time and location.
bother me, but more because I wonder if this is really an accurate reflection of all teens. The Pew methodology is a little suspect (to me), as is this assumption that teens are somehow very different than we are.

Yes, they have different tools. But have they "evolved"? I know there are studies showing different brain patters between "us" and "them"... but have we proven that's a worldwide phenomenon or is it limited to the First World countries, or to the US, or even just to those lucky teens who have the money and the opportunity to have the new, cool tech tools? If the former, then by all means, let's start working on ways to reformat and revision our pedagogy. If the latter, well, perhaps not so much. And if the middle, let's take time to work out the best way to change things rather than running to keep up with something we may not have to (or need to) keep up with after all.

Still, much to ponder and figure out. Because we just don't know right now. Do we?

A great hair day

Yesterday I had a great hair day. Don't quite know how it happened, but I did. It had volume... it had bounce... it even had (gasp) frizz. I'm so happy that today is a good hair day. Not as much volume, bounce or frizz, but still... it's all so much better than the long, flat, lank stuff I normally have. And I know that the moment I try to do the same thing to it (wash with that shampoo in this city at the time I did, etc.) it'll all be for naught. Two days is fine with me.

I also had a good non-conference day. After the morning session, I headed out to the Phillips Collection, where I looked at the Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit. Terry's blogged some of his thoughts; mine were so very different. First of all, and I know this is heresy, my first thought on seeing the Degas (and some of the Sickerts) was "oh.my.god. Thomas Kinkaide's been here". Not the best thought to be having at a time when you're viewing "real art", is it? The most striking image to me was the bronze "La Liseuse" by Dalou, and a close second were the Thornley lithographs of Degas' work (they reminded me somewhat of Michelangelo's Prisoners series).

After that, I walked to the Tidal Basin to view what I could of the cherry blossoms. Some trees had started to bloom, others were in that oh-I'm-trying-so-hard-to-bud-that-it-hurts stage. The contrast of the bare branches, the near buds and full bloom was exquisite and I am so glad I saw it.

Then a brisk walk up Connecticut Avenue to Teaism. It's more in the Takashimaya mold than the Sweet Melissa, but the tea was wonderful and the rest well-deserved.

And did I mention I was having a great hair day?

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24.3.06

In other news...

Lest you think I'm doing nothing but conference stuff, I'm not. Bloglines keeps me informed, no matter where I am (not sure if that's a good thing or not). Anyway, I read this today:Wired News: How France Is Saving Civilization. It's about France's lawsuit against Apple re: proprietary software (in this case, iTunes). The possibility of this
It's early days yet, and this may be premature, but Apple may become the Microsoft of the digital entertainment era.
scares me.

I think of Google and their "do no evil" mantra (yeah, right, like Google desktop isn't evil). I think of beta v. vhs. Etc.

Sorry, Apple. I'm with France on this one.

23.3.06

Whither books?

At dinner last night, I got into a discussion about the future of the book. One person firmly believes that the printed page can be so wonderfully expanded upon by digitization, that adding content (eg., author's editing) will be the "killer ap" for ebooks.

Part of me agrees with this. I'd like to see the marginalia that C.S. Lewis added to his books. I'd love to know how A.S. Byatt chooses le mot juste in her works. It'd be great to see the process by which Chris Raschka drew the illustrations that won the Caldecott. But that's me and I'm an odd duck. The majority of Americans, as noted in the Pew "Reading at Risk" survey, do not care. They don't read. E-books aren't going to change that for them. Nothing will.

I've argued elsewhere that etextbooks will be a wonderful innovation. Why publishers haven't jumped on this bandwagon is beyond me: think of the savings. Create a table PC that allows you to download a book (eg, Samuelson's Economics), annotate, print, highlight, etc.. In short, make it like a book but on-line. Then allow people to download multiple books onto this one machine. You (the publisher) can customize to state standards, or update editions, easily. Books no longer need to cost hundreds because there are no printing costs involved. Easy.

Things like the British Library's "Turn the Page" program are fascinating. They just aren't something I (or, I suspect, many readers) particularly want when they're curling up with a good read.

So whither books? I don't know. I just hope that we don't fix what's not broken in the name of technology.

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Imponderable Quotes

You can get this free for $20.00 a year.
"Dead and Emerging Technologies" discussion panel

22.3.06

Yawn

I'm here at the CIL/ISE2006 conference (after a long drive down New Jersey and through Maryland/Delaware). The hotel room is not ready, despite notices that they'll be available after 3. The promised wifi for conference bloggers is very limited, and too many people are hogging the chairs in the area where blogging takes place. So I'm paying to sit in a much more comfortable chair and blog.

The exhibits hall was very disappointing. OK, I didn't expect anything of ALA/AASL proportions, but a little more pizzazz would have been nice. Most of this is geared to internet librarians, with some OPACs represented but mostly... nothing for those of us that work in schools. It's not even like we're the bastard stepchild, we're non-existent.

I should have expected this, though, because the conference is little publicized in the places where school librarians would be looking. It's an "in crowd" thing, not an inclusive event, which (of course) is reflected in the turnout and the exhibits and the presentations. Apparently there are under 80 school librarians registered. You'd think that with so few, "they" could put together an attendee list so that we could be on the lookout for each other and make sure we're all happy. Nope. Nada.

Even the conference handouts are disappointing. The booklet of presentations was not proofread (evident from the mixing of one person's name/title with another's e-mail). And the presentation handouts that are specific to ISE were either cropped or dropped. Either way, not a good start to the conference experience.

Let's hope that the company and the presentations make up for this bad start. But you know what they say about lasting first impressions...

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Reading update

I've not been reading much this quarter (well, few books, anyway) but I want to share my excitement about a new series. It's called "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" and it's by Rick Riordan.

The first book, The Lightning Thief, came my way last year at a conference (where I'm known to pick up a few of the Readers Advance copies). I loved it. The story is about a boy, ADHD, kicked out of every school, and his love for his mother and hatred of his stepfather. Then he finds out that he's actually the son of Poseidon, and belongs to a group of half-bloods. See, those pesky Greek gods haven't stopped messing with humans. And Percy is the product of one of those relationships. He goes on a quest and makes friends and you'll have to read about all of that.

The second book, The Sea of Monsters, is equally good. So you're going to read that, right?

What I like about this is that it's fantasy, but of a sort that will really appeal to boys. As a matter of fact, one of my more recalcitrant cases at MOPOW read it and loved it. When I saw him yesterday, he was too cool to admit he was excited to read a new one, but I could tell he really was. Jon Scieszka has written a lot about boys not reading. This is exactly the sort of book that will get them reading.

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My little secret

I hate travel. I hate leaving my cozy cottage and going to work, to visit friends, to conferences. I just want to snuggle under the covers with a good book and The Boys and do nothing else. All day. Every day.

There. I've said it.

The reality is, of course, that I can't just do that. I do actually enjoy the give-and-take of conversing with people. I resent that I have to leave my nest to do so.

I need to get ready for the upcoming conference. I have to clean the cottage (always come back to a neat, tidy house - one of my mother's rules). I have to put out food for The Boys. I have to pack. I have to leave my comfort zone and go be "me".

I'm sure I'll learn a lot and meet interesting people (and even play hooky a little). But I'll be eagerly waiting for the time I unlock my front door, see The Boys and curl up with them in bed.

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20.3.06

Vacation

School's out for the next two weeks. While part of the time I'll be at CIL2006/I@SE2006, most of the rest of the time I'll be relaxing. Some books off Mt. Bookpile... some movies via Netflix... some snoozing. Life will be good.

I may even use Isolatr (þ: Eclectic Librarian). Just to make sure.

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V and X

Two lesser-used letters of the alphabet, right? Also two letters that played an important role in my life this past weekend.

"V" was the movie I saw. I'm not usually into that sort of movie, although I do stray outside my comfort zone when I'm with my friend M. The problem with this one wasn't the stylized violence, or the gaps in the plot, or the bad accent that Natalie Portman had. The problem I had was "who cares?" I didn't feel that this movie meant anything, and I like for them to have some resonance with my life. Some people may feel that it's a commentary on life under Bush (even thought it was written about the Thatcher years). To me it was just a bad melange of The Count of Monte Cristo, a superhero, 1984 and a few other things, all done heavy-handed enough to give me a headache. The best part was after it was all over, and my friend commented that this movie clearly had been done on a huge budget. What clued him in? The fact that there was a Stones song at the end.

"X" was the restaurant where we went to brunch yesterday. Brunch started at 1, and for the next 2 1/2 hours we ate steadily. Waiters appeared a regular intervals to ply us with food: fruit... eggs benedict... bagel and "smoked salmon"... fish... ham... pork... lamb chops... scallops... shrimp... pasta... it was seemingly endless. And then there was the "free" champagne (or mimosas, or kir royales). Two-and-a-half-hours of eating. Dinner last night was not an option.

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18.3.06

I hate getting older!

Ok, so it's not really about getting older. Maybe it's my metabolism or a weird genetic quirk But I have to blame something for my increasing inability to process caffeine. And aging's gonna take the hit. I used to be able to drink coffee. Black. Lots of it. When? Oh, 20+ years ago in college and prep school. Even up through about 30 I could still do it - even though I noticed that too much made me break out. But now?

I'm such a wuss.

Yesterday, knowing that my weekend visitor would not get to my cottage until about 10:30, I decided to have a cup of coffee. This was at 8:45am. Friday is Technology Department Meeting Day at MPOW, and I'm a member of that department. Usually the meetings are about as interesting as watching paint dry (who really cares how many laptops are broken, and I don't have anything to do with grade entry). However, since yesterday was the day that Spring Break starts, my boss brought in Munchkins and Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

So I had another cup. This was 9:10 - 9:30. AM.

I was still wide awake at midnight. I finally fell asleep at around 3. The Boys decided that Mommy'd slept enough around 4. After kicking them out of my room, I slept until 7. Now I have a slight caffeine hangover, and no where near my usual 8-9 hours sleep. But I can't sleep any more.

Getting older sucks.

Playing Hookey (again)

I just noticed that the Cherry Blossom festival will be starting just as I'm in DC for the Internet@Schools East conference.

So, now I've got the Philips Collection and cherry trees... and a conference. Choices, choices.

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17.3.06

The obligatory St. Pat's post

Many, many years ago, shortly after my parent's marriage, my father made a huge mistake.

You see, my mother was not a great cook. She'd mastered some dishes, but wasn't the type of cook that my father had grown up with (his grandmothers, mother and sister were all excellent cooks). After a while, my father apparently got tired of eating the same dishes and made a request of my mother. "Honey," he said, "why don't you try experimenting with dinner tonight?"

It was March 17. They were in Boston. My mother dyed the rice green.

My father hasn't requested a creative meal since.

14.3.06

Celebrate!

I was reminded that today's the Jewish feast of Purim.

Have fun, y'all.

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13.3.06

Notable Quotes

An optimist is the human personification of spring.
Susan J. Bissonette

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10.3.06

Links Galore

  • How could anyone forget "Never mind" and "Dy-no-mite!"? In case you (accidentally) did, refresh your memory from this List of signature phrases (þ: H2Oboro blog)
  • In case you missed any of the performances on NPR's Live in Concert series, here's the website. Also great for hearing what you missed the first time.
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7.3.06

Good news/Bad news

I was watching tv last night and a commercial came on (no, I don't TiVo and besides, if it's live, ya gotta put up with the ads). As with most commercials these days, there was music. "Oldies" music from the 60s.

Bad news: the song was In-a-gadda-da-vida.

Good news: the ad was only 30 seconds long. And no drum solo.


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5.3.06

Late Night at the Oscars

Tonight, as I've done for many years, I'm staying up waaaaay past my bedtime to watch the Oscars. It's not that I know all the movies, or that I'm intensely interested in the "Short Story Non-Fiction with Animation and a Twist" category, it's that I'm just as mean and nasty as anyone else: I like watching people who are paid many more times my salary look and sound bad (I don't care what anyone says, Gwyneth looked awful in that pink dress - she needed more boob-action to carry it off well). Who can forget Rob Lowe and Snow White, or the resulting lawsuit? Who doesn't remember Demi Moore and those godawful bicycle pants?

So I'll be up late, snarking away. Just like the rest of you.

2.3.06

At the risk of spoiling the plot

(although, really, if this does spoil the plot, you should demand a refund on your education)

The opera "Romeo et Juliette" is based on the Shakespeare play by the amazingly same-sounding name. It's considered a tragedy, and it fits quite nicely in with that whole opera convention of boy-meet-girl, they sing, she dies. (This basic plot structure, by the way, cannot be used to identify the opera, nor does it help to add "and it happened in Italy/France" or "she was sick". Really. You're gonna need a bit more than that.) It does a credible job of the whole "but soft, what light through yonder window breaks" poetry. And, in my opinion, the sets were simply stunning. My companion thought otherwise, probably agreeing with New York and PhillyBurbs.

Anyway, as we were heading "home", I started to wonder if I'd perhaps dozed off during the last couple of acts. I knew that the whole Juliette's bed floating in mid-air scene had thrown me (given my extreme fear of heights), but had I totally blanked on something? See, if I remember the plot correctly, Romeo is exiled. Which means "out of town permanently". So, when Juliette is approached by Friar Lawrence, just prior to her bigamist marriage to Paris, about drinking some faux-poison, Romeo's not around to hear about the plot. Then there's that whole subplot about the Nurse, who's supposed to get the news to Romeo but doesn't and then... well, you should know the rest by now.

Except she doesn't. In this version, the Nurse sings maybe 5 lines in Act 1, and then shuts up the rest of the opera. Over three hours, and barely a note. Let alone the crucial "please tell my secret husband that I'm not really dead" bit. Friar Lawrence isn't roped into this, either. Possibly because he's too busy with his telescope. (and wasn't this set around Galileo's time? just asking)

Which then leads to the question: if Romeo is out of town, how does he hear about Juliette's death and know where to find her supposedly lifeless body? ESP? Fax? His copy of the libretto? And don't tell me he's packing - he's a guy. Guys don't pack that much, even back in whatever-century Verona.

Anyway, I wasn't the only one who apparently missed that bit. Perhaps it was one of those "blink and you'll miss it" arias. Or not. This could have been the Cliff's Notes version.