29.4.07

Is this you?

The Seven Stages of Falling in Love with an Author.

(it's definitely me!)

Toro (no bull)

Like many (most? all?) good American Jews, I was raised with an appreciation for Chinese food. Particularly on Christmas. Which would you rather have: wonton soup and a pu pu platter, or ham? Easy choice.

Anyway, whenever I've moved, one of the first questions my father asks is about a good Chinese restaurant. Can't blame him: SmallCity USA doesn't have one. There used to be an ok take-out, but that closed decades ago. Imagine our pleasure when the NYTimes reviewed Toro. Thing One is here for the weekend and we just had to investigate.

It was amazing. The moo shu is made into packages right there at your table (no mussing and fussing with the pancakes and the stuffing and the plum sauce and making one huge mess that falls apart in your hands) and had some of the freshest ingredients I'd ever had in a moo shu ... the spicy beef with scallions and onions was a taste explosion that I've never had before from this dish (pity my mother won't try it, but my father will love it). The scallion pancakes were hot and "just right."

My biggest complaint is that I couldn't eat more. The portions were sized perfectly, and by the end of the meal I needed to be rolled out to my car but your mouth was saying "feed me - I really liked that!". Lesson learned: small breakfast and lunch, then head for dinner!

Can't wait to go back.

22.4.07

Sloganeering

To help with the Book Fair, I got my staff t-shirts that read "Guess What I'm Reading". Next year, we may go with "Got Books?"

Over the years I've accumulated many, many library/book oriented shirts. Of course I have "I cannot live without books" (Jefferson) and "Books, Cats, Life is Good". However, two of my favorites remain "To err is human. To forgive is not library policy." and George Bush saying "The best thing I ever did was to marry a librarian".

One I'd love to have? ABC-CLIO's "Question ^an Authority".

Paper Trail

Over at Our Lists of Books, Sherri posted a link to USA Today's Books that leave a legacy. I thought of books that had deep, life-changing properties; turns out, they mean books that changed publishing. I've only read four of them and would consider reading another two. Guess I'm not the "average" reader or the target audience for the other 19.

This type of list always intrigues me, and it came out just as I'd read about The 101 Most Influential People That Never Lived (usually I give credit where credit's due, but I don't remember where I read about this book). Of course, I bought it and read it almost immediately. While I might disagree with their ranking - the Marlboro Man is #1?! - on the whole I agree with the list. The tone could use some work, but overall, it's a good introduction to a sort of cultural literacy we expect from people.

The next book off Mt. Bookpile was The Book of Lost Books, a listing of authors whose works are now "lost" to us - Shakespeare's Love's Labors Won, Sappho's poetry, or parts of Gogol's Dead Souls, for example.

Comparing the two books and the USA Today list gives one pause. Why (per these authors) are these people, these books, so important and enduring? Why do we wish we could read Confucious' thoughts on music? Some (the mythic figures, Scrooge) have stood the test of time, and many of the authors are so critical that we reference them often. Yet most of the Books The Changed Publishing probably won't make some future, broader list. Does this mean that Best Selling does not equal Important? I'd argue that Beloved is both.

Lists are fun because they give you meat for conversation and argument. I'd hate to think people consider them anything more than a snapshot, or one person's opinion.

21.4.07

Life Crisis

I'm not one to blog overly much about my personal life but... yesterday was so horrible that I just feel I have to put this Out There and see what, if anything, comes back. One thing that people close to me know is that I have a history of depression (my first real episode came when I was in 7th grade - so I've been dealing with this for 30+ years and I know when I'm heading, or am, "down"). I've learned, in the intervening decades, that one real antidote is to layer on structure, so that accomplishing things leads to that sense of "you've gotten through ____, good for you!" and thus encourages me to accomplish something else. When I'm really down, though, my health (never a sure thing since mono a few years ago - and yes, you can get mono when you're in your 40s) suffers and I tend to just curl up and ignore the world by sleeping a lot and reading.

So, what's been getting me down?
  • There is someone in my life that is a very negative presence. Almost every comment is a complaint, an accusation, an argument (you get the picture). I can't get this person out of my life, and dealing with them is so draining, so disheartening that it colors the rest of my interactions with people. Yesterday, in a completely unprofessional manner, I lost it and said that if this person couldn't be positive about things, we were going to have real trouble. That the constant arguments and negative comments must stop now. I feel bad that my professionalism failed me, that I let my emotions get the better of me, but I just couldn't take another installment of this (one argument has been ongoing for almost two years now).
  • There is another person in my life that has, over a period of a number of years, treated me rather badly. For a variety of reasons, none particularly commendable, I've put up with it, hoping that things would change. As I've moved from The City to The Cottage to The House, I've tried to change this relationship - it's gotten to the point where I'm ready to say "enough. stop." because change isn't forthcoming. There are good things that this person brings to my life, but many times I feel so edgy around them that it can take a week to recover from time spent together.
  • The House isn't where I want it to be, organizationally. Painting still needs to be done (and I know some people I could hire for the lesser problem places, but I'm in a frugal mode and I could do it on my own)... my office space isn't organized... my bedroom isn't "nesty" enough yet... The Collection is still boxed (although I understand we're 2 bookcases down, 6 to go so things are moving in that area)... and the kitchen doesn't work. I know it can take months for these things to get done, but that's not how I've worked in the past. All three of my past moves/settling in time were much, much quicker.
So I'm sitting here, blogging instead of working. Composing angry e-mails in my head instead of finding constructive ways to deal with the problems.

Because of The Storm last week, Meeting was canceled. Tomorrow, I have to go to another Meeting so I can make it to the Book Fair on time. What I'd really like is to go to my Meeting, then come home to quiet - and hope that I can work some of the above out. Because where I am right now just isn't a good place.

17.4.07

A car-crash world

Seems like the world is getting crazier and crazier (although Doug asks, "How much of this will really matter at this time next year?"). The problem is, it should matter.
  • It should matter that during the tragedy at Virginia Tech we were glued to the television, listening to the inanities the newsreaders spewed. One actually had the insanity to ask a student how it felt to be in a place that had just undergone the worst school shooting in America. How many complained about the crassness of that question? How many of those at the school winced and asked the cameras to leave them to their grief?

  • It should matter what happened to Kathy Sierra. Civility in public discourse is needed Heck, civility in public life is needed. Without it, what do we have?

  • It should matter that hypocrisy is all around and few are crying out against it. Many have blogged about the Imus Incident (personal favorite posts can be found here, here here and here), and what he said was wrong. Did the punishment fit the crime? Only if we also go after the rappers (despite their so-called defense), and Al Sharpton, and all others that engage in this sort of speech.

  • It should matter that my students aren't careful or concerned about their privacy, and that they don't care that what they post may be mean, vengeful or defaming of someone else. This should matter most of all, because if we don't start here, what hope do we have for our future?
Sorry doesn't seem strong enough, yet that's what we're treated to again and again.

Watching a car crash can be addictive. Watching a slow car chase can be mesmerizing. It's time to snap out of our national trance.

16.4.07

Preaching to the uninformed, if anyone

First the Guardian writes that blogs are really so much sound and fury signifying nothing... then Pew reports that the least informed among us rely on the Internet and blogs for information (the "most informed" are watching cable news. go figure).

Snug as a bug

Ok, I'm not in a rug, but I am curled up in bed, watching the rain fall... and fall... and fall...

Growing up upstate, I'm used to snow days. But a rain day? Totally a first.

Notable Quotes

No -- it isn't as odd as it seems. For this is the way of it:
Either you must be exactly like all the others. Or you must be completely different from them -- as Hugo is.

You musn't ever be nearly like everyone else. As Josephine is.

Something tells Josephine this is how it is. Even if she doesn't understand it
-- Martha Gripe, Hugo and Josephine

15.4.07

Perfect Rainy Day Movie

Natasha Richardson... Rachel Griffths... Warren Clark... Josh Hartnett... Bill Nighy... and Alan Rickman. Blow Dry. 'nuff said.

Unusual, but not unheard of...

My mother and I were remembering the May 17, 1973 storm in upstate New York. Seems like this one will be similar.

My plans? Stay home. Stay warm. Stay dry. Read. Snooze. Repeat. I suggest you do the same.

13.4.07

Something to the hype?

I've never really bought into the whole "Friday the 13th" thing, but after today...
  • Thing One got a phone call from work at 4:15am that essentially told him that the caller was cranky about having had to call - but the problem was a programming one and Thing One couldn't really do anything about it
  • The Wall Street Journal was not available at Grand Central by 5:35am
  • The Journal-News delivered 50 extra copies to MPOW, after being expressly told not to by three different people
  • This morning's coffee was replaced by a warm, dark brown liquid
  • Our group subscription to the NYTimes was delayed
  • The Study Hall book went missing (this is an attendance book used by the study hall proctors; study hall takes place in the library)
  • We're having a major Special Event and the parking situation is, well, not being handled well.
So, it's only 9:47. What more can go wrong?

Imponderables

We're looking to update our Art History section. So someone explain how Law and Colonial Cultures: Legal Regimes in World History, 1400-1900 gets placed in the Movements in Modern Art series.

8.4.07

Meeting Musings

Today's Meeting was small (five adults, three very young children). And it was cold (52o when I walked in). But still, the warmth of the people made up for the lack of heat and filled the space.

About midway through Meeting, one person stood and mentioned that there's an odd synergy this week: it's the Jewish Passover, and Easter for both Eastern and Western Christians. This was perhaps a sign that we were all, in some sense, following the same path and that peace between faiths was possible. Then, looking outside the Meetinghouse window, they noticed three deer. These deer had hidden themselves in the woods, and had only just - briefly - made themselves known. Sort of like peace itself.

6.4.07

Links Galore

5.4.07

The good thing is...

my new house is warm. Despite the fact that it's snowing out. (not so unusual in upstate NY, but still...)

3.4.07

Imponderables

Isn't it odd that a Closeout Store would have a Grand Opening?

(in case you're wondering, I saw just such a thing as I took the train to NYC yesterday)

2.4.07

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Not bad, given all the upheaval from the move: 48 books this quarter!

Biography
  • On Hitler's Mountain, Irmgard Hunt; fascinating look at a girl growing up during the Nazi era, literally in Hitler's backyard

Children's/Young Adult


Fiction/Literature


Mystery

Reference
  • Dare To Repair, Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet, Thing Two's idea of a housewarming present... no tools, though
  • An incomplete education, Judy Jones, absolutely embarrassing, the things I don't know!

1.4.07

Meeting Musings

Today was my first Meeting at Amawalk. Unlike last time, there are many Meetings around to choose from; I think this one and I will be a good fit.

It's an old building, heated by wood stoves (I've been warned that the bathroom is outside and unheated!). This lead to an interesting moment, when about halfway through the Meeting someone had to tend the stoves. I started thinking about how this is very like what happens during worship: the fires need to be built, and tended, and sometimes there's a fiercely hot flame and other times there's a warmth and still other's have more of an afterglow. Elders (or pastors or whatever you call your clergy) help tend the flame, ensuring the sparks don't set a fire or that the warmth doesn't die out.

Very a propos for Holy Week, isn't it?

What draws me to this Meeting was a deliberation we had during Meeting for Business. There had been a vigil during which names of those that have died in Iraq were read out - a process of several hours - and two members were moved to write a letter to Senator Clinton asking why she didn't feel obliged to account for her vote "approving" the war. The Newsletter Editor wondered if this was appropriate for inclusion in the newsletter.

In my previous Meeting, the sentiment would have been "of course". No discussion. The assumption would have been that everyone in the Meeting was opposed to the war, opposed to Senator Clinton's stance, and that this letter spoke to all our conditions. Here, the sentiment was "does it speak for all of us?". Perhaps not all opposed the war. Perhaps not all felt owed an explanation. Perhaps it came close to endorsing another candidate (one person mentioned that we assume we know that Barak Obama would have voted against the resolution, but that he could have just as easily voted for the resolution: it's moot, because he wasn't there).

What a wonderful, reasoned deliberation. And what an introduction to a new Meeting.

And while we're on the topic...

Today is the first Sunday in April. Some people are celebrating Palm Sunday. Others, April Fools. But if you're a computer geek you're worried about Y2K3.0.

1.0 was the original "oh my god every computer system in the world is going to crash" scare.

2.0 happened three weeks ago, when (thanks to an Act of Congress) Daylight Savings Time was observed. Newer computers knew to schedule the change at the new date, but older ones required patches, etc.. Most of us didn't care, but if you're in finance (where deals are timestamped), it's important.

3.0 is happening today. Why? Because all those old computers supposedly "fixed" by the Y2K2.0 patch might skip ahead an hour... again.

Thing One has to go in to work today, just in case 3.0 rears its ugly head.

My feeling? It's all an elaborate joke. On Thing One.

April #(*&$# Fools

Oh.My.God. Did you read the news?

(just kidding)