28.8.06

Almost over

Today starts a Week of Meetings: Academic Committee, planning, full faculty, division, department. You name it, it's meeting.

This doesn't mean that there's not a ton of work left to do before we're ready to say "Welcome Back, Students". Far from it. It means that there's work to be done after all the meetings. Which means late nights.

Why does the last week before school starts have to be such a rush, particularly when we've had all summer to prepare?

26.8.06

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY

It's time for the fair. We all know how much I love going.

So why is it raining today?

25.8.06

Never alone

I did something horrible yesterday. A friend said that he was feeling under-the-weather (aka "late August sniffles") and I responded with my own health woes. Then my mother topped me with my father's kidney stones.

But that's the way we do things, isn't it? You break up with the love of your life, and the person you tell starts in with Louise, from Accounting, who just did the exact same thing and how she's coping (or not). You develop arthritis and either everyone has a cure or they know people with a cure or they've read about a cure.

I suppose it's good to know that - in your moment of emotional or physical weakness - you're not alone. However, there are times when you want to wallow in it. No one, ever has felt as bad as you. What Louise is going through? Nothing compared the the black hole that is your life. So what if Uncle Martin had the same sprained ankle? Yours is 10x worse.

My promise? The next time someone tells me about their problems, I won't one-up you. At least, not the first time we talk. After that, all bets are off.

Links Galore

22.8.06

Sidebar conversations

As the more perspicacious of you will note, the sidebar has been changing... slightly. A friend suggested that I update the Watching and Reading with what's actually just out of my DVD/Movie queue and what's just come off Mt. Bookpile. So look fast: things change often in those two areas.

Not quite a second language, but fluent enough...

Terry has a brilliant post today.

Sometimes, I feel as he does: I understand the East Coast Liberal Language, but it's not native to me. Despite growing up in that milieu, I've often felt at odds with it, as though it's Not Quite Me. In part, that's due to having many family members that are - gasp - Jewish Republicans. It's also due to having grown up in Upstate NY (although that hasn't stopped my parents from being remarkably isolated from those that don't think like them; nor has it stopped my sister from much of her nonsense).

There are times, at work and with friends, when I just mentally shake my head and think "have you got any idea how the rest of the US thinks?" More people should visit The Other Side and try to understand it. We would be a better country for it.

Just like we would be a better country if Sesame Street went back to it's roots, rather than pandering to the people who feel that Self-Esteem Is All. (þ: Cam)

21.8.06

Notable Quotes

(again, not so notable but - for the second week in a row! - the Acrostic from this Sunday's NYTimes)
My granddaughter wrote a composition for school in which she said she liked her grandmother's imagination. I asked what she was referring to and without hesitation she replied, 'You remember things that never happened."
-- Allen Demy, Invented Country

20.8.06

Summer Fun Update

Since July 1...

Reading
Swag books received: 60
Swag books read: 32 (wow - over halfway done!)
Other books read: 4

Viewing
Netflix: 11
Movies: 5

18.8.06

Links Galore

  • We Are the Web is here to take on the issue of Net Neutrality. Paging Quincy Jones. Or not. (þ : ALOTTFMA)
  • If you travel and are a biblioholic (as I am), then BookWormz is the site for you. Why? "Enter a zip code below to search for an independent bookseller near you." (þ: Sites and Soundbites)
  • Are you one of those people who cringe when you see motivational posters? Cringe no more: Star Trek Inspirational Posters are the antidote (and if that doesn't work, check out Despair) (þ: Sherri)

Here it is


Thanks to my father's digital camera, we now have a shot of Aravis' infamous bookmark. (The thing on the end is a worm, perched on an open book.)

17.8.06

Can't imagine why they were offended

Northwest changes handbook after advice rankles laid off workers. Do you think this might have been the reason?
Earlier this month, it sent workers in North Dakota, Montana and Texas a handbook with tips for handling their layoffs. It included 101 money-saving ideas such as, "Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash."

Other tips included using old newspapers for cat litter, asking friends and family for hand-me-down clothes and asking a doctor for free prescription drug samples.

16.8.06

Things NOT to worry about

One of my staff is heading for Paris for a couple of weeks - I'm not happy about this, because with the exchange rate being what it is, her getting me a nice gift as a "thank you" for letting her miss start-of-school meetings is slim. (I'm actually kidding about that part! Sort of.)

Anyway, she e-mailed me to say that she was worried about drowning to death. You see, that's not really something to worry about, in my book. I mean, that's actually very optimistic of her: first there's the whole lack-of-oxygen thing to survive, then the fall, and finally the slamming-into-the-ocean-from-miles-up (talk about a belly flop!). I think that if you can get to the point of having an intact enough body and consciousness after the explosion, fall and "landing", then you can worry about drowning.

Or isn't that being supportive and helpful?

How stupid do they think I am?

I was clearing out some spammail today, and noticed that one was an "Urgent message from Third Fifth Bank". Doesn't even sound like a real bank, does it? Why on earth would they choose such an idiotic name? "National Bank of ___" or "First Bank of ___" actually sound plausible. But Third Fifth? Not a chance.

(On reflection, I thought perhaps it might cater to musicians.)

14.8.06

YUCK

I really hope this was heavily edited. But it's so not what being a librarian is about: Time Out Chicago / Librarian (þ: NEXGENLIB)

Paging Chevy Chase!

What Does a Proof Prove?

Fidel Castro, who either died at 79 or turned 80 yesterday, is no longer still dead. Or so the communists would like you to believe. Over the weekend the Cuban regime released several photos of the dictator, including one depicting him holding the front page of a special section of the communist "newspaper" Granma (that's Spanish for "Pravda").

It's reminiscent of photos kidnappers release to prove their hostages are still alive, by showing the hostages holding up a copy of today's paper, except that in this case it's a whole country that's been held hostage for more than 47 years. Also, as blogger Sean Gleeson notes, Granma is published by Castro's regime; the special section could have been prepared long in advance; and the paper Castro is holding looks to be a page proof, given the color, the margins, the crease and the staple in the upper left corner.

It's as if the New York Times had released a photo of Pinch Sulzberger holding a proof of the front page of the Times book review section and claimed this proves he was still alive on Sunday.

Still, despite the amateurishness of this effort, we cannot rule out the possibility that Castro actually is still alive.

(þ: OpinionJournal)

Tin Drum notwithstanding

Walesa attacks Grass for SS role:
Former Polish President Lech Walesa has said German writer Guenter Grass should give up his honorary citizenship of Gdansk, having served in the Waffen SS.

13.8.06

Hanging head

I've been reading (and re-reading) some of these posts and - ACK - sometimes I sound like a blithering idiot. Not because of the content (although that counts) but because of the phrasing/grammar. Equally problematic is my sometimes loose grasp of the niceties of spelling. So...

Do I go back and edit the posts?

Do I do nothing, praying that my Beloved Readers will be as ignorant as I?

Do I hope that my Beloved Readers will be understanding and say nothing? OR

Do I hope that people will bring to my attention that which is egregious and ignore the rest?

12.8.06

Did it!

I managed to last 48 hours (more, actually) without an on-line fix! Yay me. Of course, I came back to e-mails that I should have take care of while I was gone... Here's a question: how many of you pay attention to those "Out of Office" e-mails? I put one on my work account, and there was one guy (a vendor, we're working on a project) who e-mailed on Wednesday and Thursday, then at least 5 times Friday asking why I wasn't replying. Uh, I'm out of the office? Maybe his spam filter ate it.

Anyway, Rhinebeck was nice. The Delameter Inn is very charming, and even provides sherry to its guests (free, in a decanter in your room). Only problem: loud plumbing and they were painting, so there was that painting smell. But that's ok. I managed.

We spent the first day in Rhinebeck itself, wandering the town and poking our heads into stores. My mother bought yet another shapeless hat that does nothing for her. The local bookstore was nice, but the selection was a little eclectic (and they carried The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs - reviewed here).

Dinner that night was at Calico, a very cozy (25 seat) restaurant/patisserie. The food was wonderful (I had sole stuffed with crabmeat, and a Key Lime tart), the service even better. My father and I split a Pinot Gris, which I'd never heard of before and am now actively seeking. We then went to Upstate Films to see Scoop (Scarlett does a very nice job of out-Woodying Woody, and the film itself is one of his best in years).

M woke me with the news about the foiled terrorist attack (among other things, like how Lulu was faring). 'Nuff said.

Thursday's activities included a visit to Olana (the house is closed, so I'll have to go back, but we did get a nice tour of the outside and had a very pleasant walk around some of the grounds), Alison Winery (picked up a red, a white, sherry and cassis), lunch (where I had a very passable Fluffernutter!), a tour of Wilderstein (interesting old house in desperate need of someone to fund repairs), a short rest and then dinner at Le Petit Bistro (steak frites for dinner, and a clafouti I'd kill to have again). All-in-all, a very nice day!

Yesterday (aka "Friday"), we packed and headed off to Cascade Mountain Winery, where I did another tasting and we had a very nice outdoor lunch. For those of you who don't know, a wine tasting at a winery usually consists of tastes of a number of wines, thus making it easier to compare. My mother, ever nervous, was concerned that I'd have too much to drink and be unable to get home safely. Silly Mommy. You only taste the wine, which means perhaps a sip (or two) of each. You end up, at one winery at least, with barely half a glass tasted. And, of course, you have to cleanse your palate between tastes, usually with water and/or a nibble. So it's safe to drink and drive. Really. I did buy a case from them (half red, half white), which I'm sharing with M.

Then I wended my way home, down the Taconic. Since I'm hoping to buy a house within the next year, it was a good opportunity to see how far away some of the places in Dutchess and Putnam were from MPOW. Of course, these were near-ideal conditions and that's not going to be the case when I'm commuting daily along with thousands of others, but still... it's a sense of the timing, right? The Boys missed me, but didn't destroy the house and my mail was piled high in the mailbox. I'm so glad I have the weekend to veg and relax and get back to normal after all the activity and good food of my time away.

Next up on the agenda: health related stuff, working around the house, and finishing the summertime tasks at work. Possibly a trip to the Dutchess County Fair (mentioned previously here and here). And, in early September, the Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival.

So, what'd you do this past week?

Do SOMETHING

It's somewhat unfashionable to think about crises that don't directly touch us (the way that recent terrorism plot or Lebanon or Iraq do). What's going on in Darfur is simply beyond belief, and it's unconscionable and obscene that we're protesting Iraq and ignoring this.

Try this as a first step: MRG begins letter-writing campaign for women in Darfur suffering rape. Then promise to do more.

Tag:

Stolen Book Meme

I saw this on some of the academic blogs, but didn't get up the nerve to steal it until I saw it on Big A little a (I even stole the title of the post!). Because I read so widely, I'm changing it back to any book...

1. One book that changed your life?

In Pursuit of Wisdom
by Abraham Kaplan.

2. One book you have read more than once?

Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt. I don't know why I've read this about once/year since... well, forever... but I have. However, Goodnight, Moon probably clocks in as 'book most read'.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Only one? That's so difficult. I'll go with A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell (multiple volume category). In the single volume category, either Essential C. S. Lewis or A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis

4. One book that made you laugh?

Easy: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

5. One book that made you cry?

Recently? Caught Stealing by Charlie Huston (as explained here)

6. One book you wish had been written?

I honestly can't think of one right now. Some sequel, I suppose, but I do get irritated when Book Two isn't as good as Book One.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton or The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Among many others.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Resolute, by Martin Sandler. The prose is iffy (I'll write about that later), but the story is absolute fascinating.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Picked at random, from Mt. Bookpile: Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (hey - it could just as easily have been EastEnders, Friendship or Beyond the Looking Glass!)


10. Now tag five people:

I'm going to go over five - Bri, Karmon, Cam, Aravis, Sherri, Coco and Alice. And anyone out there in the edubiblioblogosphere that wants to play.

9.8.06

Imponderables

I've never really understood the mania for American Idol, but ok. The sad thing is that one hit leads to a flood of the same types of shows on telly. This is no different: Grease is returning to Broadway, and "we" get to pick Sandy/Danny.

Just ducky.

Where to begin?

What about: WHY GREASE? Why not Carnival? or My Fair Lady? or any other show that hasn't been revived recently?

Even better: drop the whole idea. Let's concentrate on encouraging decent actors to perform, and give them exciting, new works to perform in. And let's not vote on any of it, except the old-fashioned way, with our wallets.

Can she do it?

Over the past few years, I've never really taken a vacation - I've gone to conferences (Wanna know about P'burg or Birmingham vis-a-vis their convention center and downtown hotels? I'm your gal!), gone to Woodstock, or visited my parents.

Well, all that's about to change. We're celebrating my father's 70th birthday this year, and he, my mother and I are heading to Rhinebeck for 48 hours of feeding, shopping and touristing (not to mention staying in a swanky B&B).

The biggest change: I'm not bringing my laptop. I'll be completely Internet/E-mail free. I haven't done that since... well, I think 2002 and my stay in the hospital. Never mind that my new assistant and our temp are working on projects... never mind that there's Stuff I Need To Track. I'm going cold turkey for 48(ish) hours.

Let's see how well I survive!

8.8.06

Politics as (sigh) usual - CT version

Today's Opinion Journal offers this commentary, Liberal McCarthyism, in response to the increasingly viscous Lieberman/Lamont primary race (for fun blogging about the race, Colin McEnroe is a good choice).

CT voters, you know what to do!

Notable Quotes

Jeeves doesn't have to open doors. He's like one of those birds in India who bung their astral bodies about... the chaps who, having gone into thin air in Bombay reassemble the parts and appear two minutes later in Calcutta
P.G. Wodehouse, Life with Jeeves

(ok, not so notable, but it was this week's NYTimes Acrostic and I usually don't finish those!)

7.8.06

Public apology, and thank you

Every now and then, I decide to sweep up the masses of papers that inhabit my cottage and dump them into a bag or box To Be Dealt With Later.

This weekend, my first "off" weekend in a while, was Later. In one of the bags, I found an envelope from a friend. Like me, she's a reader. Unlike me, she does jewelry and other "crafty" things. She made me a gorgeous bookmark, sent it to me ages ago, and I (like the idiot I often am) put the whole package in one of those bags and only found it this morning.

GACK!

Aravis
, I'm so sorry it took so long for me to find your lovely gift, and THANK YOU so very much for the beautiful bookmark. If I had a digital camera, I'd share it with everyone, but I don't. So just know that it's being used right now and will continue to be used often.

Oh, and if anyone else sent something that I haven't responded to by now, please let me know. I'll publically (well, on this blog, anyway) flog myself for being so silly and stupid.

Politics as (sigh) usual

I was listening to the local news channel the other day - usually I don't, but it was the middle of the heat wave, and I wanted an update on How Hot. Anyway, it's starting to be politics season and there was an interview with people from the two Republican Senatorial campaigns. There's a primary next month, and these guys are trying to unseat Hilary Clinton.

Here's the thing: I have no idea what these guys stand for. Not a clue as to their ideas, beliefs, what they've accomplished, etc.. I do have an idea how sleazy or corrupt or immoral they are. How can this be (I hear you ask)? Simple: each side is busy telling me about the other sides misbehaviours. Swell. Even the interviewer asked why no one is talking about how [candidate] can serve the state better than Hilary. Why no one is shouting from the rooftops the reasons that we NYStaters that are dissatisfied with Hilary (or who simply doubt that she's going to fulfill her term and not run for President in 2008) should vote for either of these idiots.

The response? It's more important to beat the other guy in the primary than it is to talk about Hilary. Bull. Did you hear me? BULL!

NOW is the time to get voters interested in their candidates. NOW is the time to talk about Hilary's shortcomings, not The Other Guy's. NOW is the time to talk about how they'll do better for the state than she has.

It's pretty clear to me that these guys don't have anything new to offer me, or the state. And that's sad. I've posted before about how it used to be. I'm tired of voting AGAINST a candidate, rather than FOR one.

Here's an idea: everyone living within ear/eyeshot of a mudslinging, "The-other-guy's-bad-bad-bad" campaign write to campaign HQ. Tell them that they've just lost your vote because they're not talking about ideas, or how they could serve better, or even why they should be elected, but about why not to elect the other. And you're mad as hell and not going to take it any more.

Who knows? If enough people do that, perhaps we can get a real election going.

Tag:

6.8.06

Things that make you go "eeewwwww"

Yesterday I watched On Guard, a film I'd been interested in seeing for some time (Daniel Auteuil is a fun actor to watch). I snuggled up with The Boys, and started this tale of love, loss, revenge, hunchbacks and swordplay. Basically, the cousin of the Duc de Nevers wants him (and his offspring) dead, but Auteuil rescues the daughter and rears her safely amidst a travelling theatre troupe. So far, so good. It's 16 years later, and they're in Paris and hijinks ensue, except... Aurore (the baby at the center of the whole mess) has grown into a beautiful woman, who decides that she's in love with her "Papa", particularly after he tells her that he's not really her father. At the end, when she's restored to her mother and her title and all is well and good with the world, they kiss.

EWWWWWWWWWWWW.

As someone that's potentially in that position, it just skeeves me no end. I mean, there's no reason that I couldn't have that type of relationship with my father, seeing as I'm adopted and all but... he's my father. Blood tie or no, he helped raise me (even taught me to solder and use a sewing machine - such a handy guy!). He's even good looking in a physics-geek kind of way: there's the cutest wedding photo and all that's wrong is there's a carnation where the pocket protector and slide rule should be. But loving him That Way? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Then I started yet another book. This one is called The Love Curse of The Rumbaughs, wherein members of the Rumbaugh family are cursed with loving their mothers too much. In a Psycho kind of way. You see, young Ivy (daughter of Julie and either Ab or Dolph, two identical, strange Twins) loves her mother. Just a bit too much. And lucky for her, Ab and Dolph have this nifty taxidermy hobby. They've even stuffed Mama (don't ask how they split her between them). So when Ivy's mother dies it's only natural to do the same. Right? Because burial is just so final. I mean, you can't go home after a long day at work and talk things over with a coffin. But a stuffed mother? Totally.

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

5.8.06

A little haven

Some of my friends don't understand why I like living in The Country (not that Rockland County is in any way, shape or form truly The Country). Well, here's one reason:

I'm sitting in my "office", looking out at my tiny deck and back yard. Playing in the yard are three bunnies, and two blue jays. They can see me, they hear me typing, but that's ok. They're still playing and feeling the cool breeze this evening.

Find that in NYC. I dare ya.

Reading Update

When I go to ALA Conferences, the swag I look forward to most is the Readers Advance books - what's new? what's going to be a really great read I can pass on to my friends/students/colleagues?

Sadly, many of the books I get are just Not Ready For Prime Time Reading. Some are (The Lightning Thief and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time blew me away). Some probably have appeal to an audience other than myself. Some are just, well, clearly a publisher's attempt to catch a genre wave and ride it, and most of those are just poorly written and poorly edited. Any number of trees could have been saved had someone just said "no" to the whole thing.

The most recent book off Mt. Bookpile was a re-release of Harlan Ellison's Spider Kiss. I'd never read anything by him before, and there was a certain amount of "go ahead, amaze me" in my attitude. But this book - out of print for a long time - was really good. I'm not quite sure why reprints didn't happen, to be honest. This feels like a book that read well when it was first published (1961, as Rockabilly) as it does now. It's not his usual fantasy/sci-fi, either. This is grittier, based in the world of early rock'n'roll and told through the eyes of a PR man who sold his soul... and might sell it again...

I may even recommend it to our Upper School students, and a few teacher. And, Dear Readers, I'm recommending it to you.

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4.8.06

Professional Planning

The Boys and I survived the recent heat wave - without a/c at home, mind you, although I did swipe a fan from work to make the bedroom bearable - in part by lying limply on the living room couch and watching stupid telly until we absolutely had to go in to bed. Of course, it wasn't all "stupid" telly: House is one of the more intelligent shows out there, and then there's Jeopardy.

I've watched Jeopardy off and on for decades now (including original version) and I'm relatively good with trivia. Friends have suggested I try out for the show, but I'm too used to giving plausible but totally wrong answers (deliberately, as in Category: Musicals, Answer: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Response: Whose shows do I actively avoid?), and I rarely answer in the form of a question. Plus there's that whole being first to ring in thing to contend with. And, of course, there's the specter of Him - Ken Jennings.

Recently, on the Ken Jennings Blog, there were two posts about quizzing, that great UK passtime. He talks about how poorly he did, and how he was hoping to do better in "The Colossus".

All I could think was GULP. I do know quite a bit about EastEnders, but the rest? And in 2 1/2 hours? No way. Not on my own. I'm floored and impressed that people can do these things.

Yet part of me thinks I should sign up. Not because I have a hope in hell of getting more than 5-10 questions right, but because of my job. Yes, people, this could be considered good Professional Development: a good reference librarian knows a lot of trivial facts, and also knows where to find the stuff they don't know. This is a great opportunity to learn my limits on both. How's that for justification?

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Links Galore

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2.8.06

Too hot to blog

In lieu of my creating an original post, go read 10 reasons I have Pets.

See you when it cools down.