30.9.06

Too busy to be lazy!

I've been taking stock of my upcoming weekends (and months) and, well...

Oct 3: MPOW
Oct 8/9: Boston
Oct 11: Chamber Music Concert
Oct 13-15: Amherst
Oct 18: HVLA Fall Meeting
Oct 21: MPOW
Oct 23: MPOW
Nov 3-5: Chicago (SLJ Leadership Summit)
Nov 7: post-election win/lose party for a local candidate
Nov 8-10: Mohonk (NYSAIS Information Technology Conference)
Nov 18: friend's 50th b'day/engagement party (same party, different friends)
Nov 23-25: Thanksgiving
Dec 1-3: Poss. tree trimming in Maryland

Whew!

29.9.06

Inquiring Minds...

One of my colleagues plays organ, on Sundays, at a church near where he lives. That gig ended, and he's looking for a new church for whom to play. Semi-jokingly, I said that the synagogue my parents belong to has a choir and organ - perhaps he'd consider losing a Testament and gaining a job?

This opened a conversation about reading Jewish music. Most of us had seen transliterated Hebrew on sheet music, which reads left to right. But what about actual Hebrew sheet music? Like Hebrew writing, do you read it right to left?

Inquiring minds...

Links Galore

28.9.06

Lazy, lazy, lazy

We all know I'm not spending my time reading... so what am I doing (instead of telling you all about the interesting stuff I've been doing, like seeing Cat Power, or writing the few posts/rants that have been rattling around in my head)? Blame Thing Two.

After Things One and Two bought me a tv for Christmas, I thought that this, plus Netflix, would be fine. Apparently not. Two weekends ago, Thing Two shows up with a TiVo. For me. Sigh. No more forgetting to pop in a new tape for that show at 10pm... or wondering if there's a new episode of something on. I've got 40 hours - yes, one full work week, to record on. With programming. Sigh.

So I'm being lazy. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Which is nothing more than you expected, right?

(ps - anyone else think the dancing TiVo is the most annoying character since the MicroSoft Paper Clip?)

25.9.06

My pet, Peeve

Actually, that's either "pets" or "peeves".

As I was going through my early-morning blog reads, the following happened to me more than once:
  • a link took me to a "login required" page
  • a link took me to the start of the blog, not the individual post (which I then had to scroll alllllll the way down to find)
People, please! Can't we indicate that login may be required? Yes, I know all about bugmenot but still! And if you can't create a permalink to the actual post, well... I've stopped reading one blog because they post many snippets all at once, and then I can never find the nugget I was trying to read when I get to the actual blog. There are at least two other blogs that are close to making that chopping block.

The goal here is simplicity: make it as easy as possible for readers to find what they're looking for. I'm not saying that Blogger is the most elegant blog solution out there, but at least for the current stuff my posts are easy to find. Yes, there are times when you have to scroll through an archive (if you've searched for a post or phrase), but not the front page. Not a direct link to someone's blog or post.

Sigh. Not a good start to Monday, is it?

24.9.06

Short answer? They're yummy reads

I can't fully explain why I like Julian Barnes' work, but I do. There's an elegance to much of his prose that I enjoy - it's like eating a good book (readers will know what I mean). I've even gone so far as to special order books that aren't available in America. It's nice to read more about him, and the process behind Arthur & George.

22.9.06

Links Galore

Reading Update

There are certain books I usually avoid. Not necessarily those from a specific genre, or anything bearing an Oprah's Club sticker (although I will admit that those aren't my first choice of reading, just because)... not, I usually avoid anything to do with the Holocaust. Why? Because I grew up in a synagogue run (it seems) by Survivors. They meant well, but the Jewish education I got basically dealt with Abraham/Isaac/Jacob, Masada and then the Nazis. Year after year of that - nothing about the supposed joy of being Jewish, the contributions Jews made to the world, etc. They occasionally talked about pogroms, just for spice. There were films and talks and books, all about why They wanted to kill Us. By 9th grade, I'd had enough. I won't go to Schindler's List, I won't re-read Night. I've overdosed on that topic and just won't do it.

My experience on September 11th has left me feeling much the same: no need to see any of the movies, or read any of the books. It was too close (I don't need to relive the fear and panic I felt when I realized that I might lose Thing One)... too personal...

So, what has this got to do with my reading? Well, as you can see on the sidebar, I've just started The Zero. It's about a policeman living in the aftermath of That Day, working (for the moment) in That Place. He's having mini-blackouts, where he has no idea what's happend, and his son is treating him as though he died There.

I didn't intend to pick it up, but I did (at ALA, of course), and now that I'm reading it, I'm sort of enjoying it. Perhaps it's because it's about the aftermath, or perhaps it's because there's a mystery about what's wrong with him (and his future role helping with recovering documents for some shadowy people). In either case, it's easy for me to pretend that this isn't about That Day, that it's really a work of fiction.

We'll see how the rest goes.

19.9.06

Go Away, Imelda!

Last week was not a good week. I had high hopes for this one, but, well... let's just say that the other shoe is not exactly dropping: the entire Marcos collection is being lobbed at me from all directions.

Today is...

International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

How to and misc. information (þ: Language Log)

Pirate Cartoons:
The Lonely Pirate Cartoon

Pirate Jokes (þ: EdCompBlog):
Why are pirates called pirates?
They just aaarrrr!

What is a pirate's favourite country?
Aaarrrrgentina.

What is a pirate's favourite shop?
Aaarrrrgos.

Where do pirate penguins live?
The Antaaarrrrtic.

What do pirates drive?
Caaarrrs (and aaarrrrticulated lorries).

What do you call a large cohort of pirates?
Avast aaarrrrmy.

How do pirates speak?
They use the venaculaaarrrr.

Where do pirates go for fun?
The aaarrrrcade.

Who is a pirate's favourite Star Wars character?
Queen Aaarrrrmidala.

18.9.06

Unfortunately correct

Daniel Handler comments: "I think books have always been viral. Someone reads them and they tell people about them. That’s the best way to hear about a book." (þ: Grumpy Old Bookman)

That's how I hear about many of the books I read: via viral verbiage (sorry, it's his alliterative influence). The interesting thing is that when I go to Amazon, their "recommendations" are so rarely on target that I cease to look at them - I try to stay with Powells for my on-line book shopping. Ditto Netflix. It's far more usual for me to go to an on-line store looking for a specific author/actor and find additional items from there. It's a semi-serendipity, and I much prefer that to hoping that something they recommend will fit.

It goes back to the browsing question - yes, "real" stores may have less of a selection, but I get a better sense of whether the item is really for me, or if I'll give it a pass.

Notable Quotes

Life would be considerably less rich and less interesting without caterpillars
seen in Prospect Perk Cafe

17.9.06

A worse place, I can't imagine

Builder sites Middle Earth in Central Oregon. Interior design by Thomas Kinkade, no doubt. (þ: Librarian in Black)

I disagree

Today's NYTimes contains a review of Coronado: Stories - By Dennis Lehane that isn't exactly a rave (ok, it's more of a pan). I read this over the summer - one of the many RA books I got a ALA.

You know what? It's not that bad. First caveat: I've never read a Lehane book before. So I went into it with eyes wide open, without expecting something along the lines of Mystic River. Second caveat: I'm not a professional critic. So I'm not able to sound all high-falutin' about Literature. It's just that I know what I like, and what I don't. And, as I said earlier, critics shouldn't pontificate, they should act like the wide-eyed hoi polloi do and experience the work "in the space between discovery and connoisseurship".

Anyway, back to the work at hand. I didn't get through the play, but the stories weren't difficult and demanding. They were rough, in some ways (not just language, but situation). And even though that's not my preferred style, I could see the appeal. I liked the stories. They weren't wonderful literature, and there were few images that stayed with me after I closed the book, but while I was reading them I felt there: in that place, at that time, observing the people doing and saying and feeling.

Sometimes, that's the best read there is.

16.9.06

Final straw or penultimate straw?

I now have the beginnings of a head cold. I owe this to my assistant, whom I really liked up until yesterday. (Notice, I'm not blaming any of the wonderful, adorable little germ monkeys I've seen over the past week - it's clearly the adult's fault!)

15.9.06

Imponderables

Arrest threat over police gnome (þ: Crooked Timber)

If it CAN go wrong...

That's what this week has been like: if it could go wrong, it has. Things started out on a "done too much over the weekend and I'm tired" note, and have ended up on a "if the roof doesn't cave in on Saturday that'll be the high point" note. Personal life... professional life... all totally in the crapper this week.

Clearly, blogging isn't my top priority - salvaging my sanity is.

And speaking of sanity, am I the only person in my generation to know these lyrics?
Are you from Function, from Function Junction
Where all those function suction cups are made?
If you're from Function, from Function Junction
Well, I'm from Function too.

Yes I'm from Function, from Function Junction
Where all those function suction cups are made.
And you're from Function, from Function Junction
Hello Mother, I knew it was you!"
Because if so, my mother has a lot to answer for, along with Uppy Duppy (a variant on Ubby Dubby)

13.9.06

Exactly what I want from a critic

My Stupid Dog writes (about Terry Teachout):
"But the best critics are concerned with something beyond mere criticism; they wish to do something other than separate sheep from goats. Much of Teachout's writing is geared toward initiation (which might well be his overall theme): Terry places himself in the space between discovery and connoisseurship, so that he may shuttle his readers from one point to the other (and sometimes back again). It says something, too, that Terry does this as a conservative critic -- and perhaps only an old-school conservative temperament, the kind which revels in the absence of ideology, could really accomplish it. His main objective, it seems, is to pique readers' interest in things they don't already know, to transform curiosity into delight and delight into knowledge."
That's perfect. I don't want someone to tell me what to think about a piece, I want to be introduced to it, given something to think about, and left alone to make up my own mind.

Terry's very good at that. Pity other critics aren't the same.

12.9.06

I know how she feels...

about the wrong name, thing, anyway. As I posted in Bri's comments, a vendor phoned and e-mailed yesterday, all the while calling me by the wrong name. I even highlighted, bolded and italicized my first name in my signature. Nothing worked.

Of course, the vendor also spelled "Avenue" "Avenie". Perhaps I won't do business with them after all.

Nostalgia

A friend sent me this obit for the Lanz nightgown - something I had worn back in the "good old days" of prep school (as did many others, and not just at my school). And recently, the New Yorker did a piece on King's Academy, based on Deerfield Academy (King Abdullah's alma mater).

It's also the start of the school year, and there were leaves turning as I drove up to Red Hook on Saturday... all-in-all, a very nostalgia-inducing weekend for me.

11.9.06

Five years later

Zip started his blog because of the events of September 11. He'd written a polemic, and posted several responses. One was mine, and I asked him to remove it because it wasn't really for publication... then I sent him this.

I think the points still stand, and the questions still need answers. Tomorrow, I go vote in the New York State Primary. It's the least I can do right now.

10.9.06

Students, Listen Up

Top Ten No Sympathy Lines (þ: Lifehacker)

Good enough for life, too:
I Don't Have Time For All This

Life is about choices. We all have more to do than we can do completely, and we have to set priorities. So we may have to accept tradeoffs...

The one option that is never on the table in life is to choose a course of action and choose the consequences. If you select a course of action, you also select the consequences. If you want to avoid or achieve a certain set of consequences, you select your course of action accordingly.

8.9.06

Imponderables

OOPS!

Electronic Personae (part 2)

My previous post attracted the following comment:
I've wondered about my work-related posts, since my RL identity's not well hidden (it's not mentioned in the blog, but it'd be easy enough to trace). In fact, I criticized TPTB in a post just yesterday; perhaps, with no tenure or guaranteed future employment, I am foolish to do it? OTOH, if I can't exercise a little polite free speech behind a pseudonym, what's the world come to?
Cam's described part of my problem exactly. If I were to rant and rage against MPOW's (in my eyes) misguided and stupid policies and actions, that would change the nature of the blog and open me up to problems at work (some of the people know I blog and one or two have the address, not to mention the fact that several of the readers here know my RL identity).

For example, yesterday I had a conversation with my direct boss, with whom I usually attend a conference. When we were at separate schools, it didn't matter what I said about school policy on technology - now, in front of him, it sort of does. So we talked a little about that, and he assured me that he doesn't expect me to shut up, just be a little tactful. I think I can manage that!

But wait! There's more...

Another friend runs a blog for POmpous and Opinionated People - they put together lists of the "best music" of the previous year, commenting madly on it and other things. He recently got a request from a former "POOPster", asking that the list this person had posted be removed. Why? Because they didn't want their thoughts/comments to be one of the things that prospective employers see when they Googled that name. That may be why I post as Lazygal: it doesn't attach to my name (which leads, if you know it and do a search on, to a lot of professional posts and articles).

(NOTE: For those of you that try, I'm not the Amazon reviewer, and I'm not the one that died sometime in the 1800s; there is a post from 1996 when I was doing my library internship!)

This is something that occasionally crops up on one of my e-lists, too. On a previous iteration, there were two rather intemperate posters - not just occasionally rude, but also very critical about libraries, schools, employment, etc.. Should someone look for them, luckily this list is closed to non-subscribers. But if one of their resumes crossed my desk? I can't honestly say I'd consider them, no matter how qualified. Luckily, I don't think they're interested in a school library position.

There have been articles about people scrambling to change MySpace and Friendster profiles: that bikini or wet T-shirt or beer shot pose that was waaaay cool Sophomore year just looks sophomoric now, and perhaps isn't conveying the gravitas that a law internship coordinator is looking for. The past can come back to haunt you - and far easier now in this electronic age.

6.9.06

Life gets in the way

Katie Couric took over as the anchor of CBS News last night. I must have been flossing my toenails or something, because I didn't remember (or care).

Which is a bit of a pity, isn't it? Newscasts are increasingly so unimportant that the change of an anchor (and, one assumes, the tone and direction of the program) goes by ignored by most people - media coverage notwithstanding. I've found the New York Times to be increasingly irrelevant to my life, and not just because I no longer live in NYC.

That's not to say that I'm getting more news from blogs or the web, my intake of news from any source is less. Maybe I'm on a diet.

4.9.06

Belabored delusions

Today is Labor Day, wherein we supposedly celebrate the "social and economic achievements of American workers."

The New York Times suggests Labor Week, because we Americans are so chronically overworked (by our own choice). I don't dispute that; the past two days have been spent working on work-related projects, and some personal work (like paying bills). Not to mention helping Zip with his semi-annual Yard Sale. Which you should plan to attend next May, over Memorial Day weekend.

The thing is, we hold up Europeans as paragons of knowing how to manage that work/life/vacation balance. Of course, this can sometimes backfire. One of my closest friends, raised in Europe, lauded Bush for his annual four weeks in Crawford because it set an example. Until, of course, September 11th, after which any vacation was seen as indicative of a disconnected president with no grasp of the realities of running the country. Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

Another friend, working in the finance industry, was once told by a Managing Director that all this dedication and hard work (and lack of time off) was why We Are Number One. My friend, and his colleagues, agreed that settling for Number Two wouldn't be such a bad thing.

My original plans for this summer were to work Tuesday - Thursday, and be lazy Friday - Monday. Ha. What's the phrase? "Man plans and God laughs"? Yeah. I know that one. I'm feeling burned out, less than ready to start the new school year - not to mention very behind on the projects I'd outlined for my personal life (like, organizing my closets).

Labor Week? This Lazygal votes "YES".

3.9.06

My Biases

Doug asks that bloggers be up front about our biases:
I'’ve just decided I won't read anybody who doesn'’t tell me where s/he is coming from. Why should I pay any attention to a person who does not have experience or may have some sort of hidden agenda that colors her/his writings? (If the agenda is stated, no problem. See My Biases and John Pederson's biases. Will Richardson has his "“Disclaimer"”.) Damn fine and shining examples of good behavior, we are.
For the record, then, here are my biases. Make of them what you will.

About education:
  1. We owe it to our country and our future to provide every child with the best possible education.
  2. No Child Left Behind is not, in and of itself, evil. The implementation and reliance on testing is horribly misguided and doing nothing to further the education of our students.
  3. Libraries are not optional in a school environment and all students should be information fluent before they leave school.
  4. The fact that students graduate high school without being properly prepared for the world after (be it college or work) is criminal.
  5. Constructivist education should not replace teaching the basics. Without building blocks, there is no further learning. Allowing students to "follow their bliss" should only occur after 9th grade.
  6. A college education - or beyond - is not as important as we think it is. There is honor in doing work that does not require codified higher education.
  7. If you have a PhD in English or Musicology, you are not a doctor.

About technology:
  1. Buying a cool tool is not implementation, it's acquisition.
  2. Technology only works if you know why you have it and how you plan to use it. Sometimes, the older form works better - not every bell and whistle is needed.
  3. People need to be comfortable with a new "solution" for it to work. Forcing change leads to bad change and angry constituents.
  4. There is value to being unplugged and quiet.

About politics, religion and culture:
  1. Privacy is disappearing - this is not a good thing.
  2. Holding to your own religious beliefs is not a bad thing; forcing others to believe the same is. Until death, no one can positively know which is the True Faith. For all we know, we're all wrong.
  3. #2 does not mean that we should not all do our best to be kind, ethical and honorable in our dealings with the world.
  4. Evil does exist. Hitler and Stalin may have been the most recent examples of evil leadership; comparing current politicians to either dilutes the meaning of the word and anesthetizes us to the true thing.
  5. We should all boycott and protest any politician that engages in negative campaigning.
  6. I am not convinced that voting for someone simply because they're not the other party is enough: I want to know what my representative's biases are and where they stand on the issues. Democrats, take note.
  7. Not everyone needs to be famous for 15 minutes.
  8. Our culture celebrate "heroes" mainly those that are merely inspirations. This includes Lance Armstrong, Hillary Clinton, Princess Diana and Oprah.
  9. Celebrating youth is not a good thing. Grow old gracefully. I intend to.

That's enough for now. I expect these will change over the days... months... years. And I'll let you know when they do.

2.9.06

Does size matter?

I've been having an e-mail conversation with a friend about movies. She "refuse[s] to rent anything that belongs in the cinema for the small screen." I'm a fan of Netflix. Having said that...

I judge movies on two variables: cost and "size". Cost is the price for seeing the movie - is it truly worth the $10 to see it at the first-run cinema, should I wait for second-run, or is it worth renting via Netflix, or should I wait for cable (some are only worth "waiting for broadcast"!)? Size is whether or not I think the movie would be diminished by seeing it on a smaller screen (my 27" Toshiba) rather than the however-many-feet in a cinema.

For some movies, it's pretty clear. "Pirates of the Caribbean", for example, is worth first- or second-run because it really wouldn't translate well on the smaller screen. "Scoop", on the other hand, would translate just fine. Sadly, I'm finding that the vast majority of movies fall in the the latter category.

Pop Goes the Library has a post about this very topic
For example: Going to movies at theaters still has appeal, particularly for younger teens, but among respondents ages 21 to 24, 56% said they wanted to see the new movie at home, and only 9% said they would rather travel to a theater.

I don't know if this is a price thing or if it's an indication that we're becoming more and more insulated--that it's harder to have those kinds of big planned moments that connects a large portion of society. I remember reading once that during the series finale of M*A*S*H, sewer systems up and down the East Coast were overtaxed because everyone was using the bathroom during commercial breaks. I doubt something like that could happen nowadays. I'm not saying that this is a good or bad thing, but it's something to think about.
I'd also venture to suggest that part of the problem is that you've paid $10 for the movie, only to have people all around talking and using their cell phones and taking care of their crying/squirming child (apparently, babysitting is no longer in fashion) - even in the middle of a PG13 or R movie. It makes the experience that much less pleasant.

As Norma Desmond so famously said, "It's the *pictures* that got small."

1.9.06

Say it isn't so!

Terry has a post entitled Serendipity, R.I.P.. Now, I haven't read his column in tomorrow's WSJ (shame about that, really, because if I could read tomorrow's papers today, I could make a lot of money at the track and in Vegas and retire in style!) but I'm hoping he agrees with me. In my own inimatable style, I shot off a response, which I'll share here
YES IT MATTERS!

And yes, I'm yelling about it!

I can't tell you how many times students looking for a book to read come in with one goal in mind (say, the most recent Harry Potter or Misty of Chincoteague) and as they're looking at the shelf, notice something completely different that looks interesting. They take it off the shelf... they read the back cover... they ask if I've read it (of course! I've read all 30,000+ books in the library - it's my job!)... then, 9 times out of 10, they take it AND the book they'd originally been looking for.

The same happens during research. Because of the Dewey Decimal System, most books on a topic are grouped together. So when you've found a book "perfect" for, say, your paper on the Indochinese role in the Treaty of Versailles, you may just see - right nearby - another book that also has good, useful information, perhaps one better than the book you'd thought was "perfect".

If our collection were hidden, requiring students to find the item on-line and then present us with a slip so that we could retrieve the item from the stacks, that would never happen. Yes, I know that's how the British Museum and the Library of Congress (and, I hear, Princeton) work. But I think that the casual reader and the emerging scholar simply would vanish if every library were like that.

End of rant.