On dial-up

Because I'm cheap, and because the Supremes just ruled the cable companies don't have to allow other companies to use their lines for internet access (which stifles competition and raises prices), I refuse to pay for high-speed access here at home. Usually it's not a problem: I have a T1 at work, and during most of my vacations I've spent time with a friend who has a cable modem. Also, there was someone in my old neighborhood that had an unprotected wifi connection I could hop onto.

Now, though, I'm in the country and there's no wifi. I'm here, with my 56K modem (which right now is at 48K, I think) and I'm doing some surfing and e-mail. It's not bad, really. It's just a problem when I want to download something, like an update to my firewall. The other good thing is that I get to play with Spider Solitaire.

Of course, the problem is that I'll play Solitaire and not get anything else done...


Notable Quotes


Your task may look impossible. Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround you. Pessimism is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories about treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.

To grapple against these odds, you have to be both a wrathful insurrectionary and an exuberant lover of life. You've got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as you resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by very self-important people who act as if they know what they're doing. You have to learn how to stay in a good mood as you overthrow the sour, puckered hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as reality.

What can we do to help each other in this work?


How many have *you* read?

From The Little Professor comes this meme: which of the NEA's Top 100 Books for Kids have you read? (my responses in bold)

1. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White (9-12 years)
2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (4-8 years)
3. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
4. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (4-8 years)
6. Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch (4-8 years)
7. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (All ages)
8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Baby-Preschool)
9. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)
10. The Mitten by Jan Brett (4-8 years)
11. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby-Preschool)
12. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (9-12 years)
13. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (9-12 years)
14. Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein (All ages)
15. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (9-12 years)
16. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (4-8 years)
17. Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
18. Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola (4-8 years)
19. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (4-8 years)
20. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr. (Baby-Preschool)
21. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
22. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (4-8 years)
23. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (9-12 years)
24. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (9-12 years)
25. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
26. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (4-8 years)
27. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault (4-8 years)
28. Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
29. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (9-12 years)
30. The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne (4-8 years)
31. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (9-12 years)
32. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (9-12 years)
33. Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (9-12 years)
34. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (9-12 years)
35. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (9-12 years)
36. The BFG by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
37. The Giver by Lois Lowry (9-12 years)
38. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (4-8 years)
39. James and the Giant Peach: A Children's Story by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
40. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
41. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (9-12 years)
42. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Young Adult)
43. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
44. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (9-12 years)
45. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (9-12 years)
46. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien (9-12 years)
47. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (All ages)
48. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister (Baby-Preschool)
49. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (4-8 years)
50. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (9-12 years)
51. Corduroy by Don Freeman (Baby-Preschool)
52. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (4-8 years)
53. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka (4-8 years)
54. Matilda by Roald Dahl (9-12 years)
55. Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (Young Adult)
56. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (9-12 years)
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (9-12 years)
58. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (9-12 years)
59. Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman (4-8 years)
60. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (9-12 years)
61. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (4-8 years)
62. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
63. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (9-12 years)
64. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Baby-Preschool)
65. The Napping House by Audrey Wood (4-8 years)
66. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (4-8 years)
67. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (4-8 years)
68. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (9-12 years)
69. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (All ages)
70. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (9-12 years)
71. Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
72. Basil of Baker Street, by Eve Titus (4-8 years)
73. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper (4-8 years)
74. The Cay by Theodore Taylor (Young Adult)
75. Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey (4-8 years)
76. Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox (4-8 years)
77. Arthur series by Marc Tolon Brown (4-8 years)
78. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (9-12 years)
79. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (4-8 years)
80. Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (9-12 years)
81. The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (4-8 years)
82. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown (Baby-Preschool)
83. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (9-12 years)
84. Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (4-8 years)
85. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (9-12 years)
86. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (9-12 years)
87. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater (9-12 years)
88. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (9-12 years)
89. Stuart Little by E. B. White (9-12 years)
90. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (9-12 years)
91. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (9-12 years)
92. The Art Lesson by Tomie De Paola (4-8 years)
93. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (4-8 years)
94. Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell (4-8 years)
95. Heidi by Johanna Spyri (All ages)
96. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss (4-8 years)
97. The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Young Adult)
98. The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (9-12 years)
99. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (Baby-Preschool)
100. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch (4-8 years)

Best Friends Forever

I'm still recovering from my reunion. Those that know me know that I'm in bed by 8:30 and up at 5: for two days I was up until 1 or later, and rising around 7:30! Was I upset? Not at all. The people I was with are the smartest, sexiest, warmest, coolest people I can imagine spending time with and five years are just too long to be without their company.

I can't imagine my life without these friends, and I can't thank the gods enough for putting them in my life. Cherish your friends: I do.


We interrupt this blog

Over the next two weeks I'm in the midst of travel and moving. Posts will be sporadic until computer access is restored.

Be safe, be well and be happy! See you soon.


Do I need to change?

Aravis writes about being asked why she was wearing black. I remembered being in grad school and a friend (from Ohio) asked why I always wore black. The answer? I live in New York.

This has me thinking. My NPOW is close enough to The City that people shouldn't be confused by the blackness of my wardrobe. And I'm not comfortable wearing bright, pastel colors (skin tones alone preclude that!). Does this mean I'm condemned to a life in the New York City Sphere of Influence? Or does it mean I need to change?

Trivial, perhaps, but when impressions are important...


Links Galore

Now they tell me: baking soda does not kill fridge odors! Kitchen Myths (þ: Librarian in Black)

Size matters!

When I was looking for a great apartment to move into with my roomie, one of the things that attracted us to this neighbourhood was the local movie theater. On one of our first trips into the area, we saw The Fugitive.

Since then, we've made a point of going there, rather than to the larger Lowe's down the street. It's not that we're snobs, but there's something so cold about the stadium seating, the thousands-jammed0in ambiance that bothers us. Of course, if there's a "must see" and it's not at Cobble Hill, we'll go see it at The Other Place. But, much like the Angelika, we prefer the small, "cozy" theater right near us. When I'm visiting friends upstate, I like to go to Upstate Films. The size is right.

Next week I move and I lose "our" theater. The Palisades Mall has (among many other amusements) a Lowes with an IMAX screen. I don't know if my town has a small theater, but I doubt it. Lowes seems to eat up everything in its path.

A friend of mine gave me a subscription to Netflix. I've started creating my queue (look at the "watching" list in my sidebar for updates). Still, I have to be careful. Not every movie will render properly on my 19" tv... some need the space of the Big Screen to be fully appreciated. On the other hand, some work much better on the small screen. Again, the size matters.

In our rush to create an America where every place looks like every place else, size and scope seem to be lost.

Attention must be paid

Tom Watson blogs about the Mukhtaran Bibi case. If there's a way to get involved (including blogging and writing to the Pakistani Embassy) do it. Do it now.


Isn't it enough

that it's hot? that I have a broken "index" toe? that I have limited time to finish organizing the library and packing?

Do I really have to sit here and listen to the fire alarm for hours on end? Apparently, yes. They're "testing" the system (which is code for "driving everyone in the building crazy since 1pm").

Uh oh

Because of the Big Life Change, I am determined to really tackle Mt. Bookpile and take off more than I add. Sadly, it looks as though life is conspiring against me: this e-mail announcement reached me today
Felony & Mayhem Press [is] dedicated to re-issuing some of the best in mystery and espionage fiction. In our first few seasons, we're bringing out books by authors including Reginald Hill, Caroline Graham, Robert Barnard, Edmund Crispin, Nicolas Freeling, Julian Symons, Lynn Hightower, Stuart Kaminsky...and lots more.
All I can hope for is that I already have what's being released in The Collection, because I don't collect versions!

For more on Felony & Mayhem Press, check out Murder By the Book's newsletter.

Notable Quotes

I'm not sure I want someone proctoring my conflicts
English Teacher to me, discussing a schedule
change for final exam proctoring


They like me... they really like me!

At our MS closing ceremonies today, I was handed a bound copy of the 8th grade history papers.

On the title page verso was (is) the following:
The Eighth Grade would like to thank [my name], Librarian of [school] from 1996 to 2005. Ms. [name]'s guidance and assistance in finding material, assessing sources and writing research papers has been invaluable

Better than any parting gift I could have imagined.

Testicular fortitude

By now most of us have read the news that GM is laying off workers. One might wonder how the company plans to save money in other areas than mere "comp & benes". The answer? They aren't.

For the past two days, as I've walked to and from work, there have been a fleet of limos and town cars parked in front of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Also in front of the hotel are people carrying those placards that announce that they're waiting for certain VIPs. In this case, each placard reads "GM", with a tidy GM logo (in case you didn't know what GM was). In addition to the limos and town cars, today there were eight (8) Cadillac Escalades waiting, all properly tagged with the drivee's name. Some of those names appear on GM's Senior Leaders list. Oh - one occupant per car. Mustn't share!

What message does this send to all the soon-to-be laid-off workers? "Let'em eat bagels."

Links Galore

  • Everyone should (by now) know about Snopes.com. Now there's the Museum of Hoaxes to check out.
  • I don't know if this is a sign we're doomed or that I'm hopelessly old-fashioned: transl8it! "translates TXT lingo, sms lingo, chat lingo, acronyms, & emoticons". Of course, this won't stop me from thinking less of people over the age of 15 who use this stuff in a normal e-mail or letter...
  • How cool is this? The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form (þ: LM_NET)


Phrases I'd be happy to never hear again

  • "To be honest" and variants (Sherri has a great riff on this)
  • "In my humble opinion" (yeah, we get it - you're not so humble)
  • "We haven't always agreed, but I really respect you" (uh huh)
  • "I really want to know what you think" (why? so you can ignore it?)
  • "There are no small parts, only small actors"

What are your pet verbal peeves?

Personal Growth (and responsibility)

Earlier this week, one of my students brought me a book. This is a student that introduced me to a fantasy series earlier this year (much to the detriment of my wallet), and one that I introduced to Terry Prachett's Discworld (much to the detriment of his mother's wallet). So when he brought me this book, I was more than willing to read it. He handed it over with the words, "It really helped change my life." (Always amusing to hear that from a 9th grader!)

The Alchemist is vaguely in the magic realism/personal quest genre. I didn't find it life-changing, but I could see where someone younger might. It wasn't a bad read, just somewhat derivative. Oh well.

I'm not upset or concerned that the student thought I needed to have my life changed, either. I'm flattered when students want to share things that mean a lot to them, as long as they don't expect me to return the "favor" or to unreservedly accept these things into my life. This particular student didn't, and when we spoke about the book yesterday he was just happy I'd enjoyed the read.

However, I have colleagues that don't draw the distinction between personal and public revelation. I blog somewhat anonymously because I don't want to appear to speak for my school: the opinions here are in no way officially sanctioned. A blog that appears to be linked to the school would limit some of what I write, because of my responsibility to the school's name and ethos.

Similarly, when I speak with students, I'm constantly aware of the divide between an "official" opinion and a "personal" one. Here's an example. One of my students asked about the Bible, did we have any at the school? I said yes, and showed him where on the shelves they were (along with Korans, the Tao Te Ching, Dianetics, etc.). I also pointed out the different versions, how the annotated King James differs from The Good News and how both differ from the New Oxford Annotated. We then drifted into a discussion about the truth of the Bible. I said something to the effect that there are people that believe that the words are direct from God, while others believe they were divinely inspired but written by fallible men, still others believe that they're myths that illustrate truths about life, and so on. The challenge, I said, was to decide for yourself which you believe. Another student, listening, complimented me on presenting different views without giving away what I personally believe.

And that's critical: what I believe about religion, abortion, Terri Schiavo, the Curse of the Bambino are all personal beliefs and should not be shared with students. If and when I feel the need to shout those beliefs from the rooftops (as it were), I have this blog.

Other colleagues share information about their artificial insemination, the personal events going on in their lives, that Jesus is their best friend, that their experience with Landmark Forum allowed them to self-actualize and empowered them, among other topics. That's just wrong. Our job is to allow students to grow and widen their horizons, but when we talk about our personal beliefs, we cross that line into "official speak". Several students have told me how uncomfortable they feel in classes where Jesus or "right living" becomes a topic because they worry that their grade will suffer if they don't follow the teacher's lead.

The teacher that was changed by the Landmark Forum (EST for the 90s and 00s, for those of you old enough to remember EST) has even convinced two rather impressionable girls to spend three days in June at then next Forum session. I learned about this when they asked me to come with them (luckily, I have other commitments!). My immediate thought was "How very Jean Brodie", which was quickly followed by "nooooooooo". My feelings about the Forum aside, this is just wrong.

Schools are places for personal growth, and not only for the students entrusted to our care. But abusing our positions by giving them opinion dressed up as fact is just wrong. Much as blogging as a representative of the school while sharing personal feelings/experiences is wrong.

Sorry for the length of this rant, but it's one of the things I will not miss about this school and hope I don't find at the next.



I'd like to know who constitutes the "everybody" that's talking about the "new hit show 'Hit Me Baby One More Time'". I'm not talking about it - I'm not even watching it. Ok, I'll be honest: I didn't even know it existed! Sadly, because of this post I guess I become one of the "everyone" rather than... well... me.



During my ride home, the train stopped at a station and waited. And waited. About five minutes into the wait, "they" finally permitted the conductor to announce that we were waiting. The next announcement mentioned that we were being held because there was a train behind us with "mechanical difficulties" and that we might be able to provide assistance.

After my surprise at the length and precision of the announcement, I started to realise it was incomprehensible. A train ahead of us - sure, we could pick up the off-loaded passengers. A train pulling onto a track along side us - still with you. But a train behind us? What possible assistance could we provide (beyond serving as a target when the brakes fail as it careens into the station)? Hello?????

There was one further announcement, and then we were told that we'd be moving in two minutes. Exactly 45seconds later, the doors closed and we were on our way.

Gotta love the MTA. Or not.


A weekend of culture

As I was gearing up for a day of Sorting the Stuff, a friend called and invited me to come with her to see a show put on by The Neighborhod Theatre (site not updated). This is a small group, led by the wife of our drama teacher, that puts on plays for kids. Luckily, there are a ton of double entendres and adult references to keep it interesting for the parents and assorted adults. Today's play was no exception. Called "Follow the Vine", it was a varient on the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story, complete with singing cow and audience participation. Who can resist a show that includes the line "Gooooosie, I'm home" when the Giant returns? Not I, said the... oops! wrong children's story.

Even though it's not listed on the website, if you're in NYC Saturday or Sunday in June, go see "Follow the Vine" at the 78th Street Theatre Lab. It's worth the $5!

At the ballet

My previous post covered the actual dancing, but as any audience member knows, it's the people in front of the stage that are as important as those on or behind. Like any good twitcher, one knows to look for certain species that appear in the audience on any given day. Here's a list of what I saw.

1. The Old Bald Guy with Ponytail. Kids, don't try this one at home; adults, do NOT leave home with it. This is a reminder that some bad hairstyles just never die.

2. Proud Parent/Grandparent. At last, the years of watching their darling suffer for their craft will be rewarded. If the child hasn't received a contract from a Good Ballet Company by now, clearly people just don't understand how good The Artiste is. Conversely, this is a way to wind up Their Darling's ballet career, as The Dancer morphs into The College Student (with luck, on their way to a good, paying career).

3. Bemused Other Family Member. They just don't get it: how can you dance to something that lacks a good beat? And just look at what it does to your feet! Isn't it just a little gay to wear tights like that?

4. Resentful Other Family Member: All those years of sacrificing so that The Dancer gets training and this is what they end up with?

5. Balletophile: How does this year's Workshop compare to last year's? What about a revival of a well-known work? (I actually heard one person say, "Well, when [well-known dancer] danced this it was so much better"... Uh, sir, this was a student recital not a professional performance - close as they may seem to the untrained eye).

6. Balletophobe: Only here because they have to be. This year we had a refugee from Duran Duran/A Flock of Seagulls two rows away, sighing loudly during the breaks (could have been a Resentful Other Family Member but more likely a Roped in Supportive Friend).

There were, of course, proud teachers (both academic and ballet) and other normal types scattered throughout, as well as dancers from lower levels hoping that someday they would be in Workshop. Still, those 6 species were enough to keep the intermissions lively!


Who's Next?

This week, NYCB loses Peter Boal to PNB and Jock Soto to retirement. This weekend, NYCB's School of American Ballet celebrates the Advanced classes by putting on their annual "Workshop".

As I watched the dancers, I wondered which of the young men I was seeing would be the next "Peter Boal" or "Jock Soto". They all seemed good candidates. Of course, I don't know dance or dancers the way a professional critic or dancer would, but still. I'd name names, but there is a part of me that says I'm biased because I know many of them personally.

The dances were also interesting. Benjamin Millepied (and isn't that a great name for a choreographer?!) and Christopher D'Amboise (son of Jacques, brother of Charlotte) created new works for this Workshop. One piece was danced by technically better dancers than the other, but the choreography for the other was better (again, can't name names). The final piece was a Balanchine crowd pleaser, "Western Symphony". It'll be interesting to read the professional opinion, to see how good I am at critiquing these things.

If you're ever in NYC in late May/early June, Workshop is not-to-be missed. I've seen Ashley Bowder and Carla Korbes do star turns that led them straight to the company, I've seen Christopher Weeldon's newest choreography, and I've seen the future of ballet in America.


Bad Baggage

Sherri has a very poignant post about Getting over it ("it" being all the negative stuff that we all manage to carry around with us).

I, too, have been thinking a lot about this because of the Big Life Change that happens -- gulp! -- this month. While I recognize that this isn't all that rare, that people often change jobs and cities and all that on a regular basis (one friend is leaving her job in Jakarta, changing careers and continents in one fell swoop), for me it is. It's becoming more and more obvious that I'm a nester, that moving and change are difficult for me.

Yet, in an attempt to go against my natural inclinations, I'm trying to view this a "a good thing", as an opportunity to not just pack things and bring it all with me, but to choose what to bring in a judicious manner. The psychic baggage is every bit as much a part of that as the physical items.

Watch out world: it's a whole new me!

Links Galore


Live or Memorex?

TV Tattle had this headline "Court TV exploring Deep Throat film.

It took me a few moments before I realized they weren't talking about remaking the original (which has a great opening line; sadly, it's not appropriate on a family friendly blog). Then I read this
Court TV execs were already fielding TV movie offers yesterday, the day after tWoodward and Bernstein's FBI source was revealed. 'We've already gotten about three solid pitches, two from fairly well-established Hollywood-based producers,' says Court TV chief Henry Schleiff, though none of those came from representatives of Mark Felt himself. 'Outside of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, this is the third best mystery out there.'"
So maybe this is a remake... or is Hal Holbrook not available?


Taking Offense

In my gmail account, I saw a paid-for link to "Librarian for Hire". There is no real indication of this person's credentials ("New York State Certified Librarian" means nothing!), yet I'll bet a lot of people click on that link. Sigh.

Fit or Fat?

The recent revelation of Deep Throat's identity got me thinking about Alice's post on Information *Fluency* and The Shifted Librarian's post on Information Obesity.

When I went home last night, I watched the news. Not one of the 24-hour channels, but the 30-minute nightly news from one of the Big Three networks (I know, I know, it's Big Four now, but Fox doesn't have a newscast). When I was younger, they were "it" if you wanted news. Information Literacy means knowing that there are more options out there, that I could use my remote to find other opinions and comments about this.

Information Fluency means knowing what best fits my needs. I didn't need (or want) endless repetition of clips from the movie. I didn't want to hear G. Gordon or Ben Bradlee or anyone talking about whether DT was a man of conscience or a sneak. It means knowing that I could choose to watch NBC or MSNBC or C-SPAN or just wait to get the NYTimes or go on-line to the Washington Post. Being fluent means making the intelligent choice for me.

Information Obesity, on the other hand, is the couch potato who sits there flipping between all the channels and who obsessively checks blogs and MSM sites for hours so that they can get/hear it all. Does it really sink in? Does it really matter? Can you even process that much information in that short an amount of time?

I'm not advocating a return to the Good Old Days when you had to cross the room and turn a dial to change channels, but in this day of 500+ channels on DTV a little fitness goes a long way.