Warning: Slow Going Ahead

Since it's my first year at MNPOW, I feel it's important to do inventory myself. This means swiping barcodes for over 39,000 items! Unlike MOPOW, this place uses a scanner that almost doesn't fit in my hand. I'm predicting great tri- and biceps, an aching back and shoulders and near carpal tunnel syndrome before I'm done so... slow blogging ahead for a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, check out some of the sites listed to your right. Just don't forget to come back!

And the winner is:

The 2005 Winner of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contestis Dan McKay:
"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual."
For runners-up (and genre winners), go here


Get out of my head

Over at SwissToni's, Aravis guested for a post about earworms as part of an on-going series.

While I don't recognize many of the songs listed by the guest bloggers, the ones I do cause great problems. For those that don't know, an earworm is a song (or phrase or riff) that gets stuck in your "inner ear" and just stays there. The problem, for me, with even reading a list like the ones being posted is that I start to "hear" the song, even though there's no radio, CD or - gasp! - LP playing. Most of the songs listed I don't have, not even the ones I know. So I'm stuck.



Links Galore


Quite right, too!

Deb sent this to me. Pity more judges don't do the same:


BOWLING GREEN - An idea that Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry has been kicking around for a while played out yesterday in his courtroom when he sentenced a young mother.

He ordered the Perrysburg Township woman to perform 200 hours of community service, but he went a little further, telling her she must spend 200 hours at the local library reading to her children or listening to them read to her.

Fun Typos

The infamous typo on p. 10 of the American version of HP6 has gotten a lot of attention. What I'm wondering is if what I think of as a typo in The Historian is one, or if it's just a clever pun. One character is a diplomat of sorts, and his work is described by another character as parley-vous.

Anyone else catch that? Anyone have any ideas as to why Kostova wrote that (or is it, sadly, a typo)?

UTA: My mother thinks it's a neologism. Anyone else hear this phrase?

Too little time on your hands?

Try The Guardian's "digested read" of the new Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Dumbledore appeared at the door. "I've come to take you to the Weasleys," he said kindly. "And when you return to Hogwarts, you will be having some one-to-one tuition with me. You have so much back story to catch up on that you won't be ready for your final adventure unless you do a lot of cramming."

Sweet, cool breezes

Is there anything better than that cool breeze that follows the storm that breaks the heatwave? Right now, I think not. Instead of lying sticking to my sheets, I lay curled up under a light duvet, snuggling with my cats and enjoying a pre-taste of fall.

Sadly, this is a workday and I can't spend all day like that. But tonight I'll return to my cocoon and rest easy. I hope you do, too.


Notable Quotes

Technology is not panacea. The word archival has no operational meaning when used in a sentence with computer.
Ray Schneider, SpareOom discussion list


I just hope this is a typo!

Suspected language seized from PM Shaukat’s plane in Kabul. (þ: Mark)

Another view of Mt. Bookpile

(with small foothill in bag on floor).

Yes, the thing looks tilted - it's the floors, not you or me or the photo.

Just have to share

Here are my two babies, settling in to the new place. Part of Mt. Bookpile is visible along the far wall, and yes, that is a seriously messy coffee table!



I was checking my stats and saw that (thanks to Bloggers "Next Blog" function") people are coming to this blog just after - and I kid you not - blogs entitled "gay-hardcore-porn-movies" and "gay-blind-date-sex" and "outsidethewhale" and "stdinfonet". Ugh. I'm only slightly comforted by "worshipreflections" and "mrmallicious". No, I'm not. This blog needs a nice bath to wash itself off.

Bad day, Bad book

I had a bad day yesterday... topped off by the fact that someone (in an SUV I can only assume) scratched my Brand New Car. So I comforted myself with a good crying jag and some frozen mini-eclairs.

Then I started to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. What an awful book. Oh wow - more Quiddich. Hey! Snape's a bad guy! Whoda thunk? Will Hermione and Ron get together? What are the odds? Harry experiences more loss. Sob. Rowling is one of the least subtle writers and her imagination stopped in Book 2. Unlike most series books where the writer loses it, I can't just not read - sort of in the contract to read these things if you work with young kids. But really! Oh, I wish I didn't have to. One more and then we're done. If you want to catch up on the fuss but don't want to read 650+ pages: BookSpoiler is the place to go.

Off to cleanse my soul with something better, What, I don't know, but there's still a pile of books from ALA Chicago waiting to be read. Like one about the 1906 earthquake and one about the last Tsar... Or I'll watch a movie. Or something. Just not Harry Potter!


Links Galore

"A Childhood Friend
Your score was 47 in Unbelievability!
You are your author's childhood friend, and a good example of a fun character for fiction writers everywhere..

You're a pretty neat person- but still very real. You are a person of few extremes, but you have your moments of glory. When you're at your best, people can be wowed by you- but you're not always at your best. And that's OK. You're only human.

A novel with you as a character would sell quite well. It might not make the New York Times' bestseller list, but then again, it might. Who knows? Most people would certainly buy a book with you as a character in it. Well, they might wait for it be available in paperback- but they'd buy it eventually." (þ: Coco)


Essential Reading

World News from World Newspapers. There's no excuse not to be informed.

Death of Smalltown USA

Terry Teachout writes about the changes he's seeing in Smalltown MO. I was inspired to write to him, and then thought I'd share with the rest of my "vast audience":
I've been mourning the death of my two smalltowns (one in upstate NY, one in northern VT). The local department stores have closed, replaced by Wall-Mart or Lord & Taylors or some other "name"... the diner "proudly serves Starbucks"... the local radio has been bought and programmed by Clear Channel... and the charm and character are just seeping away. On the other hand, where I live now (so small there's no supermarket) also has no fishmonger, cobbler, jeweler, stationer, greengrocer or butcher. These are all things I had living in the Big Bad City.

I was in O'Hare last month after a conference and heard a little boy say, "Look, Mom, they've got McDonald's here just like at home!" It saddened me because isn't the joy of going someplace else NOT to see the things you see at home - to experience the new and slightly different yet still somewhat familiar?

Enjoy what's left of your Smalltown. Who knows how much longer it'll be there?
Along with the constant need for us to be plugged in and reachable, I think this is the second insidious thing that's ruining Life As We Know It. Small is better.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comments below.

World's Easiest Quiz answers


1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
*116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
*Sheep and horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
*Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
*New Zealand

Now, how stupid do you feel? I felt pretty dumb!


Security Blanket

In our post-9/11, post-7/7, post-Madrid (and Gaza and _____) world, security has become a flashpoint for discussion among red and blue staters. Sherri shares some thoughts about what privacy and security meant, and what they may mean today:

Usually security is obtained in exchange for freedom. A certain amount of freedom is given in exchange for a certain amount of security, usually. That's the basic idea behind laws, really.

Unfortunately, I don't know that the average US citizen has worked that idea through, that freedom is inherently risky. Someone in the show said (paraphrase) "You could probably catch most terrorists in a police state."

In the US we think we have rights to privacy. In the 19th century, we actually did -- a citizen was allowed to do most anything he or she liked with exceptions made for property and infringement on the lives of others (usually property owners) via laws. There were various "moral codes" in place in some communities, but if you didn't like them, you could move elsewhere and make your own rules. However, you were also responsible to secure yourself. You had to make your own decisions about what was safe, what was acceptible risk, and what was dangerous. No one was around to protect you.

Money likes security. As money became more and more important in the US, security became more important. We began trading in the "rights of the individual" for the security of the group. Now, ye old Average Joe is surprised to learn that his "right to privacy" isn't really a right, that there are all sorts of legal infringements on it, and his freedom to do what ever he likes within his private domain is subject to the permission of the agency providing security for all. If that agency decides, on whatever information, that Average Joe is potentially a danger -- pphhhpt! -- no privacy.
I'd go on to add that we've always given up "rights" for security: just look at feudal fiefdoms, or the Divine Right of Kings (bought at the expense of the peasantry).

What's changed now is that we're trying to export this fragile concept of democracy, something we've been experimenting with for only about 200 years. It's not part of the natural order, despite what the government claims. And increased globalisation has made democratic ideals difficult to uphold because our loyalty should be to the nation-state, not the company/product. Yet isn't that part of the problem? We'll fight for oil (or bananas) because we have the right to free trade, free export of American products and ideas and culture. What do we expect from our government in return? Safety.

Few think we should be giving up our privacy to ensure this, but hey - if we're gonna ship really bad Hollywood movies to the world, perhaps it's not a bad idea that we have a national identity card to keep us a little safer.

World's Easiest Quiz?

Passing requires four correct answers. Answers posted tomorrow.

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

Historic Event Commemorated

Google celebrates the 1969 moon landing. Check it out.


The quality of Silence

Yesterday I attended my first Meeting in the new area. I've previously attended in three very old buildings - 15th Street (Manhattan), Brooklyn, and Hampstead (London). This was in a much more modern building, and the Meeting itself is "young" (40 years, vs. 200+). Yet the sense of connection to the Light, the ease I found in being able to be with these F/friendly people was the same as at the other Meetings.

There was only one message, but what stayed with me was the Afterthought. The gentleman who spoke had tried to turn off the a/c unit, which was blowing quite hard during Meeting. He apologised not just for the coolness of the room, but for the "white noise" of the machine, which left the sounds of nature outside the room and outside our experience of Meeting. As I lay in bed last night, listening to the night noises, I agreed that the silence inside the "white noise" was not preferable to the "real noise" of the outside world, even during Silent Meeting.



Complaint Filed Against ABC F-Word

They're complaining because Roger Daltry had the balls to sing(?) "who the fuck are you?" at Live8 and MTV and VH1 didn't censor it. GET LIVES, people. The real complaint is that half The Who are dead and they're still touring!

You don't see the Beatles doing that with only half their original members, do you?


This was in my e-mail inbox this afternoon:

Hello from Powells.com!

Your order number is -------.

The following item has been shipped:

1 @ $20.99 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #06)
Rowling, J. K. (SALE, hardcover)

Carrier : Expedited Ground


How true, and how sad

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article entitled Block Party
A child of the '60s visits Legoland.
In it, the author writes:
The adult in me, at least the one seeking to reclaim his lost Lego childhood, was more concerned with tracking down Lego puro. And scattered in various pockets of the park, bins of ordinary Lego pieces beckoned the non-thrill-seekers to play as I once had.

But sadly, such moments were few and far between. Somehow I'd expected to find mountains of bricks with masses of children assembling, creating and wondering why this 45-year-old was having so much fun. Too often, what assembling did occur undermined the simplicity of Lego's good old days. The creativity remains; it's just been, well, modernized.
I agree. I've been to Lego stores, and I've seen the kits - I'm not impressed. Saddened is more the word I would use. Some time ago I had a conversation with a die-hard techie who was also saddened by the creation of Lego kits, ____ Barbie and other diminishings of our children's imaginations. It used to be that you got the box, but no idea what the finished product "should" look like (or, in the case of Barbie, the doll with a huge clothing line sold separately).

If I don't have the right outfit for Writer Barbie, or complete the Forest Hut Lego project exactly the way the box "suggests", what does that say about me? It should say that I have an imagination, that I can create things without being told what the final outcome needs to be. But too many of our kids lack that imagination. They're overscheduled, overly educated at too early an age, to properly develop one. No, I'm not a child psychologist, but I have worked with school kids. I see them growing increasingly used to being spoonfed what the result should be, rather than increasingly confident that they can create and explore without fear of rejection or being told "that's wrong".

How very sad.



Ebbers Sentenced To 25 Years: "I find that a sentence of anything less would not reflect the seriousness of this crime" (Judge Barbara Jones)

Now, let's get the Enron bastards.

Explore something different

Aravis pointed me to Different Religions Week, which takes place from Friday, July 15 through Friday, July 22. The website says that the idea stems from the fact that "[r]eligiously motivated violence is at a troubling level in the world today — 9/11 and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come first to mind. Different Religions Week aims to take a few small steps away from the widespread ignorance and intolerance that fuels such tragedy."

There are links to information about several "main" religions (including Baha'i, Earth-Based and Zoroastrianism) so you can know something more about them and learn where the nearest place of worship is. I would recommend checking out your local library's copy of How to Be a Perfect Stranger, so you know what to expect and how to act once you go.

What a great idea!


By the page or the pound

What is it with YA fantasy books? They're growing... one or two are even thicker than a Manhattan phone book and outweigh a bag of cat litter! As an adult, I don't enjoy the strain on my wrists, the ache in my back and the time commitment demanded by these Giant Tomes.

Here are a few examples:
  • Inkspell (Funke's sequel to Inkheart): 672 pages
  • Wizards at War (the latest in Duane's Young Wizards series): 560 pages
  • Magyk (Annie Sage): 576 pages
  • Amulet of Samarkand (second in Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy): 462 pages
  • The Will of the Empress (Pierce's Four Mages reunited): 320 pages
  • Peter and the Starcatchers (Barry & Pearson): 442 pages
This weekend, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is being released. Order of the Phoenix came in at 870 pages, a 150-page increase from the previous book. Since Rowling seems to expand, not contract, with each book, I'm thinking of hiring someone else to hold the new one for me.

How do kids manage? Are they really going to enjoy a 1,000-page, 5lb epic simply because there's hype? I'd love to believe that we're growing a nation of readers, but I fear we're scaring them off with ever bigger, heavier books that take forever to read.

365 days ago

this blog came into being. Since then, I've accumulated a small but devoted following (according to my stat program, over the past year I've averaged 19 page views from 13 "unique visitors", including 4 repeat visitors per day)... been linked to by various friends and strangers... and had a lot of fun.

Thank you all for coming. Let's see what the next year brings!


Time to 'fess up

Once again, Terry Teachout has posted his Teachout Cultural Concurrance Index. Last year, I mentioned that my score was 83%. While I haven't taken it again, I suspect my score would be in the same range. So, what about the rest of you?


Oh to be in England

There have been times during my travels when I've come near terrorist activity (Israel '74 springs to mind, as do several trips to England). The events of Sept. 11th are still fresh in my mind, as is the knowledge that I could have lost someone very close to me. It's taken a few days to process what happened in London and to have the dispassion to be able to write about it.

Yet, once again, others have said things far better than I could. Colby Cosh, for example, wrote
The world is rightly impressed by the stoic resolve of Londoners in the face of yesterday's transport bombings. So it should be. But let's remember that Londoners spent 25 years living with the threat of terrorism sponsored by Americans . This might, I suppose, be borne in mind by those who are now looking for ritual acts of apology from the worldwide "Muslim community". Surely old Paddy who used to pass the hat 'round the South Boston pub is first in line?

I'll be honest: I take attacks on London personally in a way I cannot when New York and Madrid are targeted. It's one thing for them to kill innocent people, and another thing--not necessarily worse, but distinct--when they set off bus bombs next to the facade of Charles Dickens' house. (Or blow up the old Baltic Exchange.) London is the second home of everyone who thinks in English--and this emphatically includes Americans; the Boston Tea Party was the most characteristically English act in human history. It certainly includes the Irish, whether they care to admit it or not. Unless we are much misled about the facts, the sound we heard yesterday was Mecca--that capital of ignorance and superstition that forbids the tread of the infidel--sending an impotent message to its free, expansive, ever-living opposite.

And then there's Tom Watson's take on London Calling. Read it. You won't be sorry.


I guess I'm a literary snob

It bothers me that the majority of the authors in Amazon's top 25 authors aren't "authors" as I define them. I'm sorry, but diet books and "Who Moved My Cheese" just do not count! It's great that "Harry Potter" is so popular, but where's the real literature - not the so-called Classics, but the thought-provoking books that weren't written to make their authors a ton of money (like the "Left Behind" series)? Where's A.S. Byatt? Robertson Davies? Hey, I'd even settle for "The Secret Life of Bees"!

1 J.K. Rowling The 'Harry Potter' series
2 Spencer Johnson 'Who Moved My Cheese?'
3 Nora Roberts 'Black Rose,' 'Blue Dahlia,' 'Portrait in Death' (as J.D. Robb)
4 Dan Brown 'The Da Vinci Code'
5 Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) 'Cat In The Hat,' 'Green Eggs and Ham'
6 John Grisham 'A Time to Kill,' 'The Runaway Jury'
7 Stephen King 'Carrie,' 'The Stand'
8 J.R.R. Tolkien 'The Hobbit,' 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy
9 Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins The 'Left Behind' series
10 Jim Collins 'Built to Last,' 'Good to Great'
11 Phil McGraw 'The Ultimate Weight Solution,' 'Life Strategies'
12 Robert Atkins 'Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution'
13 C.S. Lewis 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' including 'The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe'
14 Mitch Albom 'Tuesdays With Morrie'
15 Ken Blanchard 'Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager,' 'The Leadership Pill'
16 James Patterson 'Kiss the Girls,' 'The Big Bad Wolf'
17 Stephen R. Covey 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People'
18 Mary Pope Osborne The 'Magic Tree House' series
19 Marcus Buckingham 'First, Break All the Rules,' 'The One Thing You Need to Know'
20 Lemony Snicket The 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' series
21 John C. Maxwell 'Make Yours a Winning Team,' 'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership'
22 Janet Evanovich The 'Full' series, 'One for the Money'
23 Robert T. Kiyosaki 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad'
24 Arthur Agatson 'The South Beach Diet'
25 Tom Clancy 'The Hunt for Red October,' 'Red Storm Rising'"

Links Galore


Breathing Easier

Unlike Mayor Bloomberg, I was never a fan of the whole "New York 2012" thing. Luckily, smarter heads prevailed and the Olympics will be heading to London. SwissToni has some ideas as to why, and what next.


Matthew Cheney explains it all

In an essay on collecting, Cheney writes:
"We collect to fill holes. I have surrounded myself with books partly for pragmatic reasons—I do read them, or at least a lot of them—but also because acquiring books allows me to give concrete form to certain aspects of my personality. When the days grow solitary, I don't need to feel lonely, because I can read the words of thousands of people. When the world becomes bewildering and life slips into shades of meaninglessness, I can rescue myself with other worlds and ideas. When I grow tired of my own words, there are always millions of somebody else's waiting within arm's reach."
I've known many collectors and I think Cheney hits it right on the head when he says "we accumulate our collections, sifting and sorting them so that should we, by some catastrophe, disappear from the Earth tomorrow, the connections between every item in the collection would be in a perfect state, harmonizing and vibrating in just the right way so as to express our personality better than we did ourselves."

In England, there is a place called Showshill Manor. The owner was a collector of epic proportions (ultimately he had to move into a shed because the house had no more room!). People visiting often wonder what type of crackpot was that obsessed with "stuff".

I wonder what the detritus of my life will say about me. I also wonder why that bothers me.



Earlier I posted about my experience on dial-up. I'd like to amend that somewhat. The experience using my desktop has been so much smoother than when I use my laptop. Thanks to Mark for creating/configuring for me!

Public Service Announcement

Dear Lifehacker,

I have spyware all over my computer and I can’t access a lot of web sites along with other things. Like, I went to click on your spyware cleaners link and lo and behold it sent me to this website [evil browser hijacking link deleted.] I don’t know what to do and I need to use my computer the way I used to. Please help me I’ll forever be indebted to you.

Missing my Computer

Dear Missing,

Wow. If clicking on the Lifehacker link to spyware cleaners sent you to that search engine, your web browser’s been hijacked. Sounds like your PC’s in a bad state and there’s a major cleaning in order. Here’s what to do:

1. You’ll have to download cleaning software. But if Internet Explorer has been hijacked it may not let you get to the web pages you’ll need. So first things first - download Firefox from here and install it.
2. Using Firefox, download a copy of Ad-Aware here, Spybot Search and Destroy here and Spyware Blaster here. Install all three free programs. Open each one up and choose “Update” to get the latest updates.
3. Now, before you scan your computer, you want to unload any spyware processes that are already up and running on your machine. So disconnect your PC from the internet, then shut down. Start up the computer again and hit the F8 key while it is booting up (before you get to the blue-toned Windows welcome screens.) Choose to start the computer in “Safe Mode.”
4. Once the computer is back up in Safe Mode, open Ad-Aware. Run a full system scan. The scan will take awhile to run, but make sure you clean everything and anything it finds. Then open Spybot. Choose “Check for Problems.” This scan might also take some time. Remove anything Spybot finds. Do the same with Spyware Blaster.
5. Reboot your computer normally.
6. Download Microsoft AntiSpyware here. Scan your computer with it and fix any problems it finds.
7. Visit Windows Update and make sure your copy of Windows is as up to date as possible - at least install any “Critical Patches” Windows Update recommends. (Unfortunately, Windows Update works in Internet Explorer only. For all other browsing, I recommend you switch to Firefox to avoid browser hijacking software in the future.)
8. Finally, in Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs, comb through your installed software list. See anything you don’t recognize or need? Uninstall it. If there is anything starting up automatically with Windows, remove it also. To do so, from the Start menu choose “Run,” and type msconfig. Review all the programs set to start and uncheck any you don’t want.

Those are the first essential steps to reclaiming your computer. I hope they help! Let me know how it goes.



As anyone knows, when you split up a life shared, sometimes you get things you need and sometimes you have to replace them. So it was with my recent move: I needed a new pooper scooper for the litter box. No problem, right?


It took three days and five separate stores before I found one. Either there was nothing (three supermarkets) or there was one suitable for elephant poop (the local Target). Which leads me to wonder,

WHY does Rockland County not have a supply of pooper scoopers? Was there a sudden rush on the product? Do they not scoop the poop? Am I missing something?

Wanna buy me a cottage warming gift

but don't want to add to The Collection? So Many Books has set up a Cafe Press store selling their logo:

How perfect is that?

My name is Lazygal

and I am a Book-a-holic. As Booklust says, Some Of My Best Friends Are Readers. You know who you are.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

(I'm probably one of the few that feels that reading 23 books in three months is slacking, but I do!)

The following were added to The Collection April - June 2005:

The Spiral Staircase
, Armstrong, Karen
The Printer's Devil, Bajoria, Paul
The Final Solution, Chabon, Michael
The Naming, Croggon, Alison
Bitter Fruit, Dangor, Achmat
The Sign of the Book,Dunning, John
With No One as Witness, George, Elizabeth
Death of the Party, Hart, Carolyn G.
Vows, Manseau, Peter
Winter House, O'Connell, Carol
The Egyptologist, Phillips, Arthur
Nobody Was Here, Pollet, Alison
Pity Party, Pollet, Alison
Only You Can Save Mankind, Pratchett, Terry
Johnny and the Bomb, Pratchett, Terry
Johnny and the Dead, Pratchett, Terry
Dark Side of the Sun, Pratchett, Terry
Unadulterated Cat, Pratchett, Terry
Taking Wing, Price Graff, Nancy
Magyk, Sage, Angie
The Golem"s Eye, Stroud, Jonathan
Girl from the South, Trollope, Joanna
Sky Carver, Whitlock, Dean