29.4.06

What a sales pitch!

(an actual phone conversation had yesterday)

ME: Hey there.

HIM: What's hip? What's hot?

ME: I'm having a bad day. Wanna blow off Robot Job and come down for the weekend?

HIM: I've sort of got stuff planned. What do you have in mind?

ME: Not much. My throat hurts and I think I'm getting sick again.

HIM: Oh. What's on at the movies?

(reading list from NYTimes)

HIM: Ack. Nothing great.

ME: I've got Broken Flowers and The Closet from Netflix.

HIM: Possible. What else? Sushi for dinner?

ME: Well, I sorta don't have any food in the house.

HIM: Sushi it is.

ME: And the place is a pig sty.

HIM: Let me get this straight - you're feeling sick, there's nothing good at the movies, you have no food and the place is a mess? And I'm supposed to come down?

ME: Yeah, well, that's why you love me.

HIM: Uh. Um. Ok. I'll call you when I leave my house. Gotta go feed Bernie first.

ME: Why don't you call from the road and I'll order pizza for you to pick up. I don't have any money on me.

HIM: (laughing too hard to answer)

ME: Bye.

HIM: Later.

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26.4.06

Imponderables

Oh please.

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Doing the math

Yesterday at lunch I learned a new equation. Generally speaking, I'm not a math person (avoid it at all costs, particularly when an "x" is involved, let alone a Greek letter). However, this seems to be one of those useful things:
If you want to date younger, you can only date someone half your age + seven years
In other words, if you're 18, the youngest you can date is 16. If you're 40, it's 27. And so forth.

This is very helpful. It means that I can only date in the 29 - 73 range. Hmmm....

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21.4.06

Am I nuts?

Next Tuesday, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is doing a program in honor of my great-grandfather. I was toying with the idea of going, but next week is Book Fair week at MPOW and those of us that work in schools know how hectic that week is (even though here, the Parents Association does all the work and garners all the glory).

One of my cousins e-mailed this morning: Yes, the information was too late for the very short piece that will appear in the program book. However, it was fascinating. We would very much like to review whatever material you have gathered. It would also be a great pleasure to receive such from you, in person. A complimentary ticket to the concert awaits you, if you are able, at this last minute, to amend your plans and come to Boston on Tuesday.

So now, of course, I really want to go. My staff assure me they can survive my leaving early Tuesday and getting in late on Wednesday... and then there's the whole "it's in honor of your family and a once-in-a-lifetime-event" thing... Counterbalanced with that is the reality of a six hour drive (there and back) and $3.00+ gas and the need to find a place to stay.

Am I nuts to do this?

20.4.06

Annoyances

Yet another good book poorly edited. This time, it's A.N. Wilson's London: "An unsuccessful attempt to buy shares in the Bank of England and stage a Tory takeover bid failed."

You read that and tell me if your brain doesn't hurt.

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16.4.06

Notable Quotes

I think about how I, too, need to move on, remake myself. If my body were a house, I'd get rid of all the things no longer used or needed. I'd furnish myself only with things that work well. I'd be clean, spare, filled with light. I'd be square, sturdy, thick-timbered, with shining floors. I'd tell people to leave me alone, long enough for me to get settled. I'd look out of my own windows and see deep valleys filled with golden-leaved beech trees....

I need to find clarity inside myself. I need to stop allowing other people, or circumstances, to set my agenda. I must not care about what people think -- either of me or of what I do. I need to find the strength to do what I want to do. I am in the habit of smothering myself, hiding, as if who I am is somehow shameful....

Self-worth: the need to get a grade, to make the 'A' on the paper, in order to believe in myself. That is outside affirmation. Where is my own yardstick? What is it about myself that I like, that I care about, that I believe is good? What is the basis of self-love from which I can give love? It's time for me to learn that I'm the only one qualified to judge myself.


Beth Powning, Edge Seasons

The other night

I did, in the end, go to Boston to hear the BSO's concert in honor of my great-grandfather. It was a trek, and I'm exhausted. Even though I stayed with a cousin in Shrewsbury (about an hour closer to MPOW than Boston proper), I still went to bed too late (midnight-ish), woke up too early (4:30am) and didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Still, I'm really glad I went. It was fun seeing some of my extended family, getting all glammed out for the occasion and doing something totally out of my normal range of daily life.

But that's not what you're interested in, is it? You don't care about which cousin is doing what, or how the mistakes got into the profile of my great-grandfather, or even who-all was there. You want to know about the music. The concert. The important stuff. Assuming you're not a member of my family, of course, in which case you don't care about the concert, you want the details.

Well...

The first piece was a little... challenging is the only word I can use. I don't like music that makes me think too hard. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you ponder the use of a particular instrument, or key, or theme. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you're transported by some fragment or chord. I'm talking about the type of thinking that says, "I really don't get this piece and why anyone would play it. Maybe I'm too stupid to enjoy it." Because, despite my lack of knowledge about Classical Music, I'm usually not too stupid to enjoy it. But this piece ("Nymphea Reflection" by Saariaho) really made me question that assumption. It sounded (to me, and my untutored ear) like a piece that would be so much better underlying a ballet, or as a movie score. But alone, it just didn't quite work for me.

The next piece was Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, with Piotr Anderszewski. He was really wonderful to watch. Over the past few years, I've gotten to know (and love) some classical pianists, many of whom you'll get to know and love as they mature, and while I'm not an expert, I think I have a sense of their abilities and talents. He was one of the best. Not just technically, although that really does count in this particular field, but emotionally. All the men in the orchestra, and the conductor, wore white tie. Very snazzy and elegant. He, on the other hand, wore a tux with a crew-neck grey sweater underneath. Very trendy and casual. And that summed up his attitude. Other pianists I've seen look as though they're deep in concentration when they're listening to the orchestra do its thing. He looked like he was mentally bopping his head in time with the music, a small smile playing on his face. When he played, he looked relaxed and happy and playful: not the norm. Usually there's intensity, showmanship. Not here. It made for a great performance.

After the intermission, there were two pieces by Sibelius. Now, I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "tone poem", my mind just goes [insert squeal and sound of mental feet running far, far away here]. So you just know I wasn't in the mood. Boy, was I wrong. "The Bard", part of the same suite that gave us "Finlandia", is really quite nice. And short. The final piece, the Symphony No. 3 in C, was, well, good but a bit of a letdown after the fun of Beethoven and the pleasant surprise of "The Bard."

Sadly, now it's back to my normal, lazylife and lazyroutine. Unless someone out there takes pity on me and comes up with another crazy "you'll regret it if you don't go" idea for a night out.

10.4.06

Notable Quotes

You will say Christ saith this, and the apostles say this, but what canst thou say? Art thou a child of Light and hast thou walked in the Light, and what thou speakest is it inwardly from God?
Margaret Fell

Truer words...

When asked to run for the Senate from Ohio, Martin Sheen said, "I'm just not qualified... You're mistaking celebrity for credibility." (þ: New York Times). He gets it.

Unlike many others. Sad, but true commentary on our society today.

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9.4.06

Sights and Sounds of Spring

Today must be a spring day. How do I know?

Because my landlord was up early, mowing what passes for the lawn these days (it's still a bit suspect after the winter).

Because birds are sitting in trees, particularly the one right above my car - which they'd avoided all winter but now it's a prime target.

Because according to the thermometer, it's over 70 in the cottage. Which means it's about 65 where I actually live (on the ground, rather than 8' up, where the sensor is).

Here's to Spring.

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8.4.06

Death of a community

Ok, so it's really two communities, and two near-deaths. But that's not as "grabby" as the header, so tough.

Yesterday I went to a meeting of my local school librarian's association. I'd previously worked on the Board for many years, editing the newsletter and helping set up the website and elists. Three years ago, I decided that I couldn't give my all to the Board work (partly because I was sick, and partly because I'd started doing a lot of work Knowledge Quest). But I still care deeply about the local organization and want it to do well. It hasn't. Member participation is low, the newsletter is almost defunct, the website is a travesty rather than a resource, rules and procedures are rarely followed, etc.. That saddens me. What saddens me more is that I'm apparently the only one that's upset by this. The President even said so, adding that it's difficult for people to be involved in this day and age. No one responds to e-mails, surveys, etc.. The association seems to be near-death.

I've belonged to an on-line booklovers community for almost ten years, following it from one site to another and various permutations. Again, member participation has dropped off, and the majority of people posting are involved with games and not book discussions. This is another group I care deeply about, and it's also in a near-death situation.

I know that people change, that interests and loyalties and commitments change. What's important one year is less so the next, and sometimes choices have to be made as to what you devote your time to. But successful communities have fresh blood, newcomers that can take the place of oldtimers, infusing the community with new energy and new ideas. I don't see that happening as much in these two "homes".

Sometimes I wonder if I'm this upset because it calls into question my judgment. It's like breaking up with someone: was it my fault? why am I the only one emotionally invested? why don't others care? if I'm it, maybe it's because I'm making wrong choices...

I know that the Boards of each place are invested: they care. But if the greater membership doesn't seem to, if participation and new blood aren't happening, there's a part of me that thinks "just pull the plug". Maybe, if they're not there, people will realize what they've lost and agitate to regroup/reform. And if no one does, then it's sad but it's part of learning and growing.

Today's maudlin thoughts are being brought to you by Lipton's Cup-o-Soup.

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7.4.06

Links Galore


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5.4.06

Annoyances

I hate it when a good book is poorly edited. Case in point: Among the Gently Mad, by Nicholas Basbanes.

In it, Mr. Basbanes talks about the "role of the dice" rather than the "roll of the dice" (trust me - the context is clear that we're talking about rolling, not playing a part).

Not as good as the paper one of my students once handed in about Martian Luther King, Jr., but still...

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4.4.06

A reason to stay up late

On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.


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2.4.06

And a 40% chance of BS

ColbyCosh asked the question I've been asking for a while, only he actually asked people and got an answer! So, why do forecasts call for a "mix of sun and cloud"? Because - duh - they stand a 99% chance of being right.

Another mystery cleared up.

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MUST read?

Plowing through my "possible blog posts" list, I came across this article:Harper Lee tops librarians' must-read list (þ: Sites and Soundbites). While I'm opposed to the idea of a Must Read Book Cannon (mostly because they're always so skewed by their creators), it is interesting to see how my reading has conformed - or deviated - from that cannon.

So, here's the list, with what I've read in bold:

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
The Bible (NB: I've read the Old Testament and some of the New - not the whole thing)
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn
While I'm sure the non-read items are worthy, I'm not feeling a great need to run out and read them just yet. Who knows, perhaps, someday I will. But MUST read them? Perhaps not.

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1.4.06

Imponderables

Senna wins race in Melbourne. Sorry, but after his uncle's death, don't you think the family would have said "no" to racing?

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Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Not too many read this quarter (only 22 books), thanks to the number of magazines I had to plow through. Picking up steam and ready to really plow through Mt. Bookpile next quarter, though!

Childrens/YA
  • Freaks and Shrieks, R.L. Stine The first of his stuff I've actually enjoyed; this series will be great for our 4/5 grade boys.
  • In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, David Lubar Again, good for 4/5 grade boys. Not so great for others.
  • Magic by the Book, Nina Bernstein Loved it. Great bibliofantasy.
  • The Owl Service, Alan Garner Not impressed: the plot was fuzzy and the action confusing. If I couldn't follow it clearly, I don't think the target audience will, either.
  • The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan Already raved about this one.
  • Upstream, Melissa Lion Wow. A really good book. I think my older kids will like this one, despite the rather somber subject matter.
  • The Wright 3, Blue Balliett Not a huge fan of Chasing Vermeer, but I can see where kids will like this sequel.
Fantasy

Fiction
  • A Lion in the Way, Elizabeth Cadell Good historical fiction, written from the point of view of a girl growing up in the Anglo-Indian community and the changes there between 1913 and 1929.
  • At Home in Mitford, Jan Karon I can see how Christian fiction appeals to some; good book, but I won't finish the series.
Mystery
  • Arthur & George, Julian Barnes The bad thing about finishing a Barnes book is waiting for the next one; this one fictionalizes a real event and brings it very much to life.
  • Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris A little disappointing, as I guessed the secret ages before it was revealed. Still, not a bad mystery.
  • The Graveyard Position, Robert Barnard Another series I think is wearing thin.
  • A Minister's Ghost, Phillip DePoy One of those "haven't quite decided if I like it" series... may give the next one a shot but maybe not.
  • A Question of Blood; Resurrection Men ; and Set in Darkness Ian Rankin Clearly, a series I am not getting tired of reading!
Non-Fiction
Reference


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Am I really here?

This isn't just an existential question.

As you know, my vital signs verge on "low". I've been taking my temperature regularly, just to see if I'm really over the nasty Spring Flu I managed to get. The average for the past two days? 97.2.

So I have to ask: am I really here?

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