30.12.06

Neither/nor

I scored 33. What about you?

Do You Believe?

Believers tend to do awful things. Non-believers tend to allow awful things to continue to happen.
I read that over at Done with Mirrors and thought, "amen."

It's part of an on-going argument/discussion I have with Thing Two. He's adament in his belief that Faith - firm faith in a God, that is - is bad. It leads to Ugly Things (like Crusades, jihad, Inquisitions, genocide). The world, he claims, will be better off when Faith dies out.

I disagree.

Yes, some people of faith do bad things. Awful things. But it's not the faith that's bad or awful. It's interpretation, it's fear of "otherness", it's the "stuff" that gets tacked on. And, as is pointed out here, it's not just religious faith that's "bad", it's anything that provokes strong feelings and emotions.

Let's not blame faith in any of its varieties. And let's not decide that passionate faith is bad and wrong. Moderation can be just as bad as too much... or nothing at all.

29.12.06

Oh please

City to Ford: Drop Dead
"In honor of former President Gerald Ford, federal offices, courts, and post offices will be CLOSED on Tuesday, January 2. The NY Stock Exchange and NASDAQ will also be closed. However, City and state government offices, courts, and schools will be OPEN on Tuesday."--New York City Web site, Dec. 29
(þ: OpinionJournal)

For 2007



In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Bring back disco.



Get your resolution here.


(þ: Oached Pish - and if you knew my class in prep school, you'd know how a propos this one is!)

28.12.06

Just couldn't resist

The problem with socks

I got this great pair of socks for Christmas. They're soft, and thick, and warm. I can't feel the cold tiling in my cottage through them when I forget to put my slippers on as I run to the bathroom. If I knew where to get them, I'd buy pairs for my mother and other friends! Simply wonderful, right?

Almost. I have Raynaud's. So now I have these wonderfully warm, incredible socks over my still-freezing toes. At least The Boys (and Things One and Two) won't have to feel the ice cubes at the ends of my feet.

Anyone got a nosewarmer and gloves?

27.12.06

I'm Gerald Ford... and you're not.

My favorite memory of President Ford? His total take-down of Chevy Chase:
May I say to Cary that I really enjoyed his performance as master of ceremonies. I liked his style, I liked the way he did it, but let me contrast it to a master of ceremonies of a program that I attended last night. It was the annual dinner of the Radio and Television Broadcasters Association in Washington, D.C., and I was one of the guests. And they had as their master of ceremonies a young star on television called Chevy Chase. I don't know how many of you know him, but he has moved up very, very rapidly in the television business. He has a show on Saturday nights at 11:30, and the principal theme of his performance is mimicking me. [Laughter]

And he struck on a responsive chord a few months ago when there were some comments concerning my alleged clumsiness, and he has made a pretty good profession out of it. [Laughter] But, anyhow, last night, when he was introduced, there was a big audience in Washington, D.C., and he makes his entry down a center aisle and he stumbles all over as he finally gets up to the rostrum here, and he falls and, well, it goes on for about 5 minutes or more--it seemed like an hour. [Laughter]

But we were prepared for him. And if I may take a minute, we had some suspicion that he might do just this. So, we had a false tablecloth sitting where I Was sitting, and he was on the other side during the evening meal, and we had two of those big coffee urns filled with silver--knives, forks, and spoons--and as I got up following his very complimentary introduction, I pulled the tablecloth and all this fell down and made a lot of clatter and made a big hullabaloo.

And then I came to the podium and I had my speech book, and I had it on top with about 40 or 50 pages, and I put my speech book down like this, and I put the other things up like this, and then they all went down like that. [Laughter] I hope I did not throw away your notes.

And then I turned to Chevy Chase and said, "Chevy, you are a very, very, very funny suburb." And I concluded with saying, "I'm Gerald Ford and you're not." [Laughter]
R.I.P, Mr. President

(ps - if anyone can find video of this... I've tried, but it just ain't around!)

What I got...

I'm so lucky this year! My gifts are nearly perfect. So, what'd I get?

Not a bad haul... and no real strain on Mt. Bookpile. So, what'd you get?

ETA: Wooden cooking utensils - how could I forget?!

22.12.06

Breathe

Dave highlighted the 10 Events of the Edublog Year and then Joyce commented (in italics)
8. Burnout This year any number of people in the edubloggosphere discovered that reading 1302 blogs everyday in your bloglines account is not going to cut your grass, read the latest Harry Potter novel or take your husband out to dinner. The sale of replacement delete keys soared as people hacked and slashed their RSS readers down to a reasonable 200 blogs.

I thought I was obsessed with keeping up with cool and effective learning ideas before this blog/2.0 thing started, now I am crazed. More than ever before, I ignore the cleaning, my beloved professional journals, the stack of books on my night table. Unlike the more advanced of my blogger pals, I have yet to abuse my own delete key. A resolution of ‘07?
Walt Crawford and I have been saying this all along. Good to know others are starting to follow suit.

Dave also warns about Google:
3. Google. This year we discovered that google is trying to take over my desktop. Trying to crush my desktop in fact. On last years list we predicted that the web based app was going to rule 2006, we didn’t expect them to all come from one company. Expect breakfast.google.com and ‘google university’ in 2007.
which Joyce doesn't quite see as significant
Dave, I am not as upset about this as you are. My desktop isn’t crushed. I am not married to Google, but as long as it gives me cool, useful tools and powers, we’ll keep dating. I am always open to other callers.
My concerns are ones of privacy, the algorithm Larry Page created for link ranking,and, well, privacy.

So, faithful Lazyreaders, the resolution for 2007? Less time on-line, and less time with Google. And more time for Mt. Bookpile. Same as last year.

Still shopping?

31 Reasons Why Books Make The Best Presents

1. Books don't need to be assembled before being given.
2. Books don't need batteries.
3. Books never come in the wrong color or size.
4. Books don't need to be serviced by a dealer.
5. Books don't need spare parts.
6. Books are easier to wrap than footballs.
7. Books that are good will hold a child's attention longer than any toy will.
8. Books look good with any decor.
9. Books can be taken to grandparents house for special times together.
10. Books don't need watering or fertilizing.
11. Books can take you back in time or into the future.
12. Books are easy and cheap to mail.
13. Books don't irritate your allergies.
14. Books don't go out of style.
15. Books don't get aphids or draw ants.
16. Books can take the reader places without paying expensive airfares.
17. Books don't bark or need to be walked in the middle of the night.
18. Books don't stretch, shrink, or fade.
19. Books don't need extension cords.
20. Books will entertain future generation as much they do the present reader.
21. Books don't cause cavities.
22. Books can make you smarter.
23. Books won't scratch the coffee table.
24. Books don't get stale before they arrive.
25. Books never need ironing.
26. Books can be taken to school without being confiscated by teachers.
27. Books don't have zippers that break.
28. Books don't hurt when you step on them in the middle of the night.
29. Books can be used over and over by many people.
30. When you are finished with a book, it is not empty.
31. A book is a gift you can open again, and again, and again.

Open the door to a lifetime of learning. Give a great book!

Bah Humbug

For those of you not in a Happy Seasonal Mood:

21.12.06

Empathetic, moi?

Sites and Soundbites mentioned this article, which claims that
  • People who frequently read narrative fiction scored higher on tests of both empathy (the ability to understand and identify with another person's feelings) and social acumen (the ability to make quick judgments of people and situations).
  • Frequent reading of non-fiction was associated with poorer empathy and social acumen.
I'm not sure I agree. Reading - looking at words on a page - is not the equilvalent of seeing a face or hearing a tone of voice. In other words, how can you tell from the writen text that someone is really angry or sad, except that the author tells you. Perhaps the researchers got the results they did because those that tend to read narrative fiction are empathetic to begin with, rather than (as they seem to claim) learning or strengthening that skill by reading.

I would also venture that the type of reading one does makes a difference. Reading purely genre fiction might lead one to read into things more than others - always seeing conspiracies, crimes or passion where it doesn't actually exist.

And what about those of us that read both?

18.12.06

Grumpy Old Men

Redstone. Murdoch.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Notable Quotes

Wesley: If what? If you achieve a moment of perfect happiness?
Angel: I turn back into Angelus, and we don't want that. . . What?
Wesley: Ninety nine point nine nine nine ad infinitum percent of the best relationships in the recorded history of the world have had to make do with acceptable happiness.

Imponderables

Over on About Last Night, Terry recommends a number of stocking-stuffer CDs. I won't tell you which ones I fancied (TTIW is clue enough) but this caught my eye:
(the original-cast album of the 2005 Broadway revival)
Hee.

16.12.06

One big happy?

Lulu's here until after Christmas. We know what that means. Right?

Imponderables

A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico. (Emphasis mine.)
It's being reported everywhere, including on NPR. Why don't they just ask the workers to stay on the Mexican side of the fence? Wouldn't be a problem then... right?

15.12.06

Links Galore

14.12.06

"School of" writing

Paintings are often classified as "school of [great painter/city/era]", and the same applies to books. Yes, we have genre classifications, but within the genre is -- sometimes -- a school. The most popular today seems to be "School of Da Vinci Code", despite several of the books being written prior to DVC's publication.

Last night I read The Minotaur, which was "School of Jane Eyre". It even paid hommage to its mother, and older stepsister Rebecca: "Unlike Thornfield, unlike Manderley, those mansions of fiction, most of the house survived the fire." Now, I don't mind the obvious parallels in plot - or the deviations from the theme - but this? Please. Don't insult your readers with the "mansions of fiction" crap.

A better book, this time "School of The Other" (or something like that) was The Thirteenth Tale. That's not to say it was great, and the creepy factor is certainly greater in Minotaur, but I liked it more.

Off to see what's next on Mt. Bookpile.

13.12.06

It's Broke. Let's fix it.

Peter R. Kann writes about ten trends in the mass media that ought to bother us:
  • The blurring of the lines between journalism and entertainment
  • The blurring of lines between news and opinion
  • The blending of news and advertising, sponsorships or other commercial relationships
  • The problems and pitfalls inherent in pack journalism
  • The issue of conflict and context
  • The exaggerated tendency toward pessimism
  • The growing media fascination with the bizarre, the perverse and the pathological--John Mark Karr journalism
  • Social orthodoxy, or political correctness
  • The media's short attention span
  • The matter of power
We often hear that today's students do not read newspapers, do not watch "real" news - is it any wonder? How can we have an informed citizenry when the above problems exist and are getting worse? I have a difficult enough time trying to teach my students about bias on websites and in the media - let's fix this. Our country deserves better. So do future generations.

11.12.06

Google Bombing

A few posts ago I wrote about Google Bombing (based on Chris' post). Joyce had some thoughts about it as well.

Today I read EdCompBlog's post
Try entering the query:

What is the answer to life the universe and everything?

into Google. (Note - no quotation marks!)
It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Notable Quotes

He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it, hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart.
C S Lewis

10.12.06

Meeting Musings

Someone on one of my e-lists pointed out this blog, and this post struck me. As we Quakers say, it spoke to my condition. It's one of the reasons I've become a very sporadic attender at my local Meeting:
Now I live in a part of the country where a different conception of the ministry exists. Around here, there is little sense that Friends speak from a divine unction or inward motion of Christ Jesus. In fact, around here the idea that Jesus directs people to speak in worship is mostly considered to be a minority opinion rather than a critical element of testing a leading. There are many exceptions, to be sure.

Recently I attended a meeting in which I was very uneasy with what one person stated during the worship. I have grown accustomed to people in liberal meetings outlining their own opinions or using worship time for autobiography or trying to figure out whether there really is a divine Creator. Any of these types of messages is acceptable around here but not in Ohio. One might question: if it takes a divine leading to speak in meeting, how can one speak on the topic of why (s)he has not decided yet if God exists?
Oddly, the Quakers at my Meeting are very vocally angry about things: the current government, the red/blue state divide, anyone that doesn't believe as they do about going green, Darfur, in other words, the panoply of Current Liberal Causes. Are these messages really "led" or are they given because we are (supposedly) an accepting, agreeing audience?

This also ties in to conversations I've had with two teachers at MPOW. They teach a course called Practicing History, and part of that is decoding paintings that are part of an era. Of course, you can't do that without going into religious art - it's such a huge part of Western Culture. The problem is that today, more and more children are being raised in secular homes without being exposed to "basic" concepts (like, who Mary is, or how important Abraham was). So much of their teaching is, in a sense, remedial. Usually I'm not one to agree with the whole Cultural Literacy idea, but in some cases it just seems critical.

People of faith - any faith - are not necessarily evil or weird. That seems to be the East Coast idea however, and over expressions of that faith are to be avoided (oddly enough, even in a Meeting). Perhaps more eldering, and education, is needed for everyone.

9.12.06

BlogBeta

Well, it finally happened. I got to transfer this blog to BloggerBeta, which allows (apparently) for better templates and - more important - tags.

Changed the template: not sure about the nautical motif but I like the spareness of it.

Tags will be forthcoming, slowly. I hope it doesn't mean that all the posts newly tagged then appear in people's RSS feeders as updates. I just hate it when that happens.

Culture Vulture (part 2)

My next jaunt was to Chicago, home of the SLJSummit and Chicago Shakespeare Company. Having seen Rose Rage , I was anxious to see more. Luckily, two productions were in town when I was there, Two Noble Kinsmen and Hamlet.

I'd never really heard of TNK, much less read, studied or seen it. Hamlet, of course, I'd seen several times (including the Kenneth Branagh performance for the RSC). What's interesting about both is that they have two main female characters, one of whom must choose between loves and the other who goes nuts. TNK is considered a "collaboration" between Shakespeare and Fletcher, but what that means exactly I don't know. Was this a true collaboration? Did Fletcher fill in blanks? Was it a V.C. Andrews thing? Who knows? It ultimately doesn't matter. It's a good play, albeit short (about 90 minutes). The "nutty" female role in TNK is a much larger than that of Ophelia, which makes it interesting.

As a matter of fact, the Jailer's Daughter's madness was so much easier for me to believe than Ophelia's. Maybe it's the cynic in me, but I just never bought O's going nuts because Hamlet was so nasty to her. It's always felt much more like a hormonal adolescent depression than anything else, which is pretty universal and understandable but the outcome just never rang true. The only way I'd believe Ophelia's descent is if she was unstable to begin with, but that's never the way the character is portrayed.

Anyway, the space in which TNK was performed is interesting. It's a small space, with minimal wings - almost a black box. For this production, the stage was dominated by the jail structure, which slid in and out and around to great effect. I liked the minimal scenery, because you could really concentrate on the performances. And the boxer briefs that the Two Kinsmen wore throughout most of the first act.

Hamlet is a tragedy, right? Well, not all the time. There's humor in the script, and this production brought that out. No, it wasn't played for laughs and wasn't slapstick, it just acknowledged that there were moments there that helped relieve the tension. With the exception of Claudius (who managed to mumble many of his lines) the cast was wonderful. Again, there was minimal scenery, but there was lots of fog (particularly when the Ghost was around). With the exception of Ophelia (see above) this was one of the most realistic productions I've seen: less declaiming, less Drama, more "truth" to the scenario.

So, basically, if you ever get to Chicago and have time to see a CSC performance, I don't think you'll go wrong.

No real Culture for a while: next stop, Seattle Opera's Don Giovanni in January.

6.12.06

Compulsions

It's that time of the year: Best Books (in genres, in age groups, in you pick the category/criteria). Waterboro Library has a nice round up here.

This got me thinking about the Little Professor's recent post about "must keep on" authors. She then goes on to ponder the related phenomenon of "must keep on tv".
[P]eople who feel obligated to press on, dutifully or otherwise, with a television series or a film franchise--even though they announce to the world at regular (and, to be honest, aggravating) intervals that said series or franchise is relentlessly bad. Unbelievably awful. Mind-blowingly terrible. (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, as the King of Siam likes to say.) Thus, people trooped off to see the second and third Star Wars prequels because, goshdurnit, they had invested themselves in this story; just because the execution left something to be desired (a lot to be desired...) didn't mean that they were going to act like the proverbial rats. Similarly, when television shows go off the rails, die-hard fans may rant and rave, but they'll grimly announce that they're sticking it out until the bitter end...
Bringing it back to books, she writes
To what extent does this sense of self-imposed obligation extend to the written word? Do people feel that they have a ball-and-chain connecting them to a given author--or, perhaps, to a given series? For example, do longtime fans feel that they must pick up the latest Pern or Xanth novel?
Given that the plethora of lists touting the New/Best of the year have "repeat" authors, it seemed like a good time to examine my own thoughts on the topic.

As we know, I have many books by the same author in The Collection (and some authors are also on Mt. Bookpile). Does that mean I automatically purchase their books without thinking? No. Particularly in the area of genre fiction (mystery, sci-fi) it depends on the series and the author. One mystery author has a series that is teetering: there was a 'bad patch' of a couple of books, then a mediocre book, then a couple of good ones. I'm sticking with this, but this is not necessarily a Must Read Author. Another few authors are Avoid The New Book authors because they've declined in quality. It's not a hard-and-fast rule for me: sometimes, the subject matter just does not appeal. Other times, well, I'd read anything they wrote.**

I feel the same about tv. Several series I'll stick with "until the bitter end" (no names, because they were truly awful series!). Many, including some real "what do you mean you didn't watch that" shows, I've dropped after the first couple of seasons because the charm of the start got lost. This is particularly true of a gimmick show (about, say, Nothing) that gets too self-aware. And there are certain movies I won't go to, unless dragged, because I just don't care about seeing the next [your favorite director/series/actor] here. I'll even fake being violently ill to avoid certain actors/directors.

You?

(** this freedom of choice does not include books that I Must Read for work reasons. Let's just say I'm very very happy that a certain series about a boy wizard with a facial scar is ending soon)

4.12.06

Notable Quotes

The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.

Alice Wellington Rollins, Bits and Pieces

3.12.06

Good friends, good times, good tidings

Yesterday I drove 4 hours to St Michael's, Maryland for a tree-trimming party. This was at the house of a friend from high school, someone I've known for far too long! Two others joined us, and we drank lots of wine and talked and ate and enjoyed each other's company.

After dinner, we went to Midnight Madness, a St. Michael's tradition. In this very-much tourist trade oriented town, the stores generally close for the winter months. To get rid of inventory and have one last blast, they put items on sale for the last weeks of the year and on the first Saturday night in December, they stay open until close to midnight. One of the draws is that with each purchase, you can get raffle tickets (biggest prize is $1000 in "St. Michael's Money"). At 11:30p the crowd gathers and everyone waits to see who's won which gift basket.

It's such a great small town tradition. I know several small towns that could benefit from something similar. My friend has also created a great tradition: time for friends to gather and celebrate the many years we've known each other, as well as to have some fun shopping for those stocking stuffers and "oh wow, --- would love this" gifts.

Here's to many more such gatherings, for all of us.

Will I be watching?

The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines airs tonight. I know many librarians were unhappy with the first one (me included). However... the hope of watching Bob Newhart save the day, again, as a Marine (complete with "Semper Fi" quotation) may just be enough of a draw.

1.12.06

Bias vs. Personal Philosophy

A while ago, Cam challenged my biases, asking if they weren't really "critical opinions, carefully come by." In pondering that, it seemed that they formed the basis for a personal philosophy (not entirely expanded upon here. Then I read this.

So, which is it?

1,000

That's 1000 posts. Believe it or not.

That's


Page Loads Unique Visitors First Time Visitors Returning Visitors
Total 21,675 15,539 12,386 3,153
Daily Average 25 18 14 4

according to my stat counter, with the last 1000 coming from 33 countries. (I know that some of the "first time" visitors are actually returns, but they've blocked cookies: I'm more impressed with the fact that there's been 21,000+ page loads. And the fact that seven of you return and return and return.) Of course, if you're reading this on an RSS feed, you're not counted but your support is appreciated just the same. Clearly, not your average blog.

In honor of this occasion(?), I've spruced up the sidebar. And, since it's holiday Gift Giving time, The Things I Want has been updated. Not for me, you understand, but in case you need inspiration in giving to others.

Links Galore

29.11.06

Imponderables

During the Sandinista reign in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s, almost every terrorist group in the world had an office there, including the PLO, the ETA, and the IRA. Anyone counseling that terrorist groups should not be lumped together would have a hard time explaining their presence. They were, in fact, components of the Soviet foreign legion brought together by their common antipathy for the United States.

Richard R. Reilly
Former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan
in The Atlantic Monthly, Dec. 2006

(emphasis mine)

Uh, I'm not so sure that the IRA and ETA were antipathetic to the US. As a matter of fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that the IRA was an instance of city-sponsored terrorism - specifically, Boston and New York. Which are in the US.

27.11.06

Notable Quotes

A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Douglas Adams

26.11.06

Link Responsibly

One of the things we librarians do is link to sites that are helpful to our communities. We also like to teach people how to find information that is valid, useful, authoratative. However, as Chris Harris points out, that linking can help create a so-called Google bomb:
Page Rank technology weighs quite heavily the incoming links from other pages. The text that is the link becomes the search term. A classical example of this is the "miserable failure" Google bomb where overwhelming numbers of people linked the text "miserable failure" to the White House page for President Bush. Therefore, when you search on Google for "miserable failure"the first hit is for President Bush [more info]
This wouldn't be a problem if all we linked to were sites like the Library of Congress' American Memory Project. The reality is, we also link to sites that are "bad" - examples of things that we want our communities to learn are false sites (extremely biased, inaccurate, whatever). Some are quite funny. Others are not.
Some evil people created a site to spread lies about Martin Luther King, Jr. and then through a combination of their evil practices and many unwitting accomplices, got their site to the top of Google searches for MLK. But we can change this!

Step 1) Do NOT and I mean NEVER, EVER, EVER again link to or type out the url for martin|luther|king|dot|org. Every time you link to it for a lesson on bad websites, you increase its rank on Google. We say it is bad, but Google sees the links as an endorsement.

Step 2) We can take steps to ease the damage that has been done by all of the links by promoting other links for the phrase Martin Luther King Jr. This is done by linking to various pages using "Martin Luther King Jr." as the link text within your blog posts. Thanks to Tom Hoffman for the code to make this a quick and easy post.

Step 3) Actually do this
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

We need to use our Voice to influence the Search. If you have a blog where you can post this, please take a few minutes to help out. Thank you. And thank you to Tom Hoffman for getting this started!
Legions of LazyReaders, go forth and do likewise!

ETA: If you use Mamma, Yahoo or another search engine, the offending website does not appear in the top links.

25.11.06

Culture Vulture, part one

In which our heroine goes to concerts, sees artwork and attends the theatre...

In early October, I learned that Cat Power would be playing at Irving Plaza. Now, usually I don't like to do work-day concerts, but this was an early show and I thought "hey, I can totally do that!" So Thing One and I went off to see her. OGIC and Terry both recommended her music and the albums I'd listened to were pretty good, and after seeing Guns'n'Roses, I figured that I could handle any on-stage meltdowns. Irving Plaza, if you've never been there, is mostly standing room. That's great if you're tall, but I'm not. My view of the stage was obstructed, which was fine while we waited for Cat Power to appear. 10 minutes after the appointed time, a video started. Many were getting a bit edgy after 20 minutes of video... but then the band arrived. Two instrumental songs in, and Cat appeared - arms waving, shuffling, smoking and singing. The Greatest wasn't an album I'd heard (have now!) and the songs on it are pretty good. The concert was pretty good - not good enough for the hippies who kept looking for more movement (and less pantomime), or more rock stuff. Query: if that's what you're looking for, why go to a concert like this? From what I understand, this was a good concert for her, part of a good tour. My recommendation? Go see her if you can.

The next week, I went to see the Festival Chamber Music performance at Merkin Hall. This was a double pleasure: a high school alumnae gathering, coupled with the debut of a new piece by a former student. The first and third pieces were nice, and I've even decided to get a copy of one of them (if you don't know them, please, go listen). The second, by Athena Adamopolous, was... interesting. She said that it was based on her previous summer, influenced by her time in London, Paris and Athens. You know, I could almost hear those disparate parts! There were bits that really (to me) sounded like London and Paris sound; I can only imagine that the other parts were "Athens". Even though this was the second week in a row in which I went to an evening event, I enjoyed myself. Even better? Spending time with school friends and former teachers.

Then it was off to Western Massachusetts and the Eric Carle Museum. LM_NET has been having quiet the discussion about the museum, and all I can say is: what are you fussing over? It's small. It's not got Big Art or pretentions. It's just what it says it is -- a small museum that has one focus, picture book art. The exhibit I dragged Thing Two to was that of 100 years of art related to the Wizard of Oz. Now, I love this series. I have all the Baum texts (but none of the Reilly, Thompson or other continuers). I was a member of the International Wizard of Oz Society for a few years. And this was one of those jewel-like installations: one gallery, with art by Denslow and Neil and others (since the initial books are out of copyright, current luminaries like Sabuda have made free with interpreting the text). The other exhibit, in the other gallery, featured books like Knuffle Bunny coming to life, from original idea to full illustration. Very enjoyable. The next day brought the perfect pancake. What a nice weekend.

Next post... Chicago and beyond...

23.11.06

(I've Got) Plenty to Be Thankful For

It's true: I do got plenty to be thankful for. No matter that my life feels as though it's in freefall - reality is, there's plenty of good in there. As there is, I suspect, with all of my readers. Let's celebrate that, shall we?

(ps: This post's title is from the movie that gave this blog its name...)

22.11.06

The purrfect nap

I woke up at my usual time today and fed The Boys. Checked my e-mail. Etc..

Then I curled up back in bed, joined by The Boys. My Big Boy pushed his way into my arms, teddy bear style. My Little Boy first perched on my side, but then went under the covers to nestle in the small of my back. We stayed that way for the next three hours, dreaming whatever dreams we had.

Today is my Official Day Off. Tomorrow I have a guest, and Friday I'll return to "work" (from the comfort of my living room, in the comfort of my pjs). Expect blog posts!

Until then, unless something exciting occurs, I predict you'll find me in another Mommy sandwich. Purring along with The Boys.

21.11.06

Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication

Gettysburg Cemetery Dedication (þ: Brainiac)

What age is right?

A while ago, Educating Alice posted about The Holocaust for Young Children. Since then, I've been mulling the question she poses:
But is this intended child audience developmentally ready to really understand the Holocaust?
I'd venture "no".

I grew up in a "survivor" community, and my Jewish upbringing was basically God of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob/Masada/Holocaust. With some Hebrew thrown in (prayers and Rocket to Mars). Nothing really about the joy of being Jewish - nothing about the great accomplishments (running away from pogroms does not count). The constant message was "we're doomed - everyone hates us". What a way to grow up, right?

Children don't always understand context. They don't always understand adult motivations. So giving them books like this isn't likely to increase understanding between religious groups, nor is it likely to make them aware of the horror that was the Holocaust (or genocide in general). My guess is that the more we dwell on this, the more we force them to "understand" the less they'll take in at an age when it's really appropriate. They'll watch movies like Schindler's List in an inured state, without reacting the way they're "supposed" to.

I'm not suggesting that all books for children be happy-laughing-fairy dust type books. Far from it. But let's not preach at them in hope that they'll Learn Big Lessons. Let's let messages creep in "Past Watchful Dragons".

Snarf... snark...

The True And Precise Nature Of Sausage

20.11.06

DUH!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

(þ: Oached Pish)

Imponderables

Presidents, Well Known or Not, Will Have Their Day on a Dollar. So, they're issuing a known collectable? (Login required)

13.11.06

What's your ink to data ratio?

A friend of mine and I were just talking about the art of revising one's work; she mentioned Tufte's work on data presentation (and his book on PowerPointless). The big question: what's your ink to data ratio?

In reading the previous week's posts, it's clear I've been wasting a lot of ink. As one of my favorite English teachers says, half as long, twice as nice.

11.11.06

Having a bad book day

Very akin to a "bad hair day" because there's the same amount of prep and the same lack of control.

Today's Bad Book is "Second Wave" by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. I know, I know: shocking. Usually the McCaffrey books are sooooo good. Not this one. I suspect it's because it's a sequel, and one of those that relies rather heavily on the first to set up the situation and the characters. Guess what? Never read the first one, so reading the second left me totally lost. After about page 30, I started to get irritated. By page 50, I closed the book.

Me. A Clean-Plate Reader. For the second time in my life.

Things to keep in mind

From the Little Professor, A cynic's guide to real estate vocabulary. With luck, that won't discourage me as I search for a new place to call home.

On the other hand, My Nutty Landlord is out raking and gathering up the leaves for the third time today (power tool use included; so much for my nap). He just can't keep up with 'em.

We can handle it

I just finished Chew on This, a book about the fast food industry. It's not as sensational as, say, Fast Food Nation or Spurlock's Super Size Me, which I liked. That's not to say that it supported the industry (although the authors did point out a few places where they're "doing it right" - and those aren't the places that currently litter our towns and strip malls), just that they tried to be rather factual about things.

All-in-all it wasn't a bad read... except... They were describing conditions for the various animals, and some of the problems with health conditions in the packing plants, and they kept using the words "poo" and "pee". Every time I saw those words I just cringed. Why? Because it seems to me that in this sort of book, it's OK to use the Real Words. It's OK to be accurate. Using that terminology just sounds so childish and I suspect that others will cringe much as I have.

On the other hand, it was an ARC so perhaps some editor somewhere's cleaned it up.

10.11.06

Don't even have to be there...

Tonight, a friend of mine is going to see G'n'R at Madison Square Garden. We went the last time they played... I suspect my review then will cover this performance (although the opening acts will be different, including Sebastian Blech Bach):
So, despite the bad weather and the transportation horrors, MSG actually sold out last night!

Of course, that wasn't immediately discernable because no one came before 8:30 - 9. Unfortunatly, some of us were there for the first opening act, CKY (Camp Kill You). There wasn't a rock cliche they didn't hit (windmilling the arm, pompous guitar solo, kewl gobo lighting swirling over the logo) and when they weren't playing they clearly thought they were in a fuckin' Mamet play. Very Spinal Tap, without the earnestness. Having seen my kids play over the years, I can tell when they're just phoning it in or when they're really feeling it. This was very much a fuckin' phoned in performance - ROCK AND (fuckin') ROLL!

Then Mixmaster Mike came on. High energy, lot's of "HEY NEW YORK!!!""s and "It's good to be home"s. They had a camera on him so you could see him doing the mixing (Rush, Blondie, Run-DMC and some other stuff I didn't recognize). He even told us to watch him scratch vinyl. Wow. A lot of the audience was doing those silly rap hand movements and it occurred to me that they were air scratching.
Ahhhh.... youth. I actually liked it, but I wouldn't go again to see him. Someone more creative, yes, no problem. But this seemed a bit like a "been there, done that" experience.

After the opening acts it was time for tit shots and lesbian kisses. No kidding. The camera roved the audience checking out T&A and then some of the girls decided to have fun. Two girls kissed (well, ok, there was lots of hair covering their faces so it was probably faked but you never know) and then one girl lifted up her shirt to show us all her silicone, which she was very proud of and wiggled and stroked and licked all for the camera. Huge roar of approval. Some of the girls were - shockingly enough - not thrilled to be caught on camera. Particularly after that performance. Oh - silicon gal? Got an encore.

We also met our seat buddies. To my left were a bunch of heavy metal fans. Black shirts, emaciated, etc.. In front, frat boys. Drunk frat boys. Wouldn't be surprised if they were DKEsters. To Jeff's right, a couple (mid 40s) from Westchester that were major fans. Their wedding album had "November Rain" as the theme/soundtrack.
Jeff's seen Gn'R several times and everyone was very impressed. The FBs asked what he was on when he saw them and were awed that he'd not done anything - like being straight at a concert is some sort of crime or just plain incomprehensible.

Having read that Axl n' the boys didn't go on until close to 11 for the past few shows, I was thrilled when they came out just before 10 (9:57 by my watch). The set was good (Welcome To The Jungle, It's So Easy, Mr. Brownstone, Live And Let Die, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Think About You, You Could Be Mine, Robin Solo, Sweet Child O' Mine, Out Ta Get Me, Axl Piano Solo, November Rain, Chinese Democracy, Madagascar, Buckethead Solo, Rocket Queen, The Blues, My Michelle, Patience, Nightrain - and no, I didn't memorise that I got it off the website "Here Today... Gone to Hell..."), and Axl seemed to be in fairly good voice. Lord knows I couldn't run around the stage like that night after night! He did the Davy Jones, there were fireworks and torches and all the stuff you expect from a huge stadium concert.
The rendition of "Live and Let Die" was really good - better than anything Sir Paul could do (and since Sir Paul's on tour, I wonder if one could see competing versions). I didn't really care for the protracted guitar solos (Buckethead is no Eric Clapton) and the juxtaposition of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" with Gn'R's "Madagascar" was a bit confusing.

Axl's patter was fun, when it was comprehensible. He brought out donuts (Krispy Kreme) for what we thought was Al Roker, but it turns out it was Conan. Then, later, he mentioned that he'd read reviews saying that "The band's material is dated. No Shit" (not that I'm on a Sir Paul kick, but I wonder if he or the Stones get those comments?!). He mumbled a lot, so who knows what else he was saying. It wasn't that important, clearly.

One good thing - Jeff got the tickets at a low enough level, and MSG is sturdier than Shea, so I got to enjoy the concert not just stand there frozen in fear (which I'd done in '89 at Shea for the Stones... Michael still has the scars!). It was a bit surreal with the ushers and people wandering around selling glasses of champagne (excuse me??? $7.50 for a plastic cup of Korbel with mushy strawberries is just plain wrong, but at a rock concert it's downright unpatriotic!).

Of course, being able to enjoy the concert meant that I also got to take a good look at the stage, etc.. And, being the tech geek I once was, I took a gander at the lighting set up and all the amps and stuff. About halfway through I noticed this box at the end of the ramp leading far upstage right. Could have been an amp. But it looked a little funny for a plain amp. Then I noticed that the design on the front kept changing. Then the light hit: AXL USES TELEPROMPTERS. I spent the next few minutes looking around and finding the other five hidden on stage (hidden might not be the best word, but it's not like they were clearly marked "HEY, I don't know the words to my own songs so I have to read the lyrics" or anything). It was a bit distracting. I started wondering things like, does it say "extended guitar solo" or "wail" or "audience participation" or does the text just stop temporarily?

Then there was the pre-main show debate about Axl and plastic surgery. Part of it is that he's supposedly clean now, and going off herion can bulk one up. And then there's the lithium, which packs on a few pounds. And adding a few years can change a person's face. But in close-ups he just looked bad. So, having some idle brain time on my hands, I tried to figure out what it was. A WIG. Axl's hair is about as fine as mine, if not finer. Which meant that the cornrows (much discussed, apparently, by Axl Aficionados) had to be fake. And if the wig isn't applied properly, an odd line across the upper brow appears, leading to rumours of surgery. He got it fixed by the fourth or fifth song, but the damage to my eyeballs had already been done.

The audience was really up for it - many hands waving in the air, everyone yelling the songs (except the two new ones) along with Axl, some of the ever-popular Bic's flaring, pot and cigarette smoke hazing the air, and what I assume is a new twist, cell phones allowing those less fortunate (or smarter?) to listen along with the crowd. Jeff looked a little silly pumping his hand in the air but he wasn't alone.

Don't get me wrong - I've never really been to a concert like this, I don't mind the music, and I had fun. But once was enough. Particularly since it was on a weekday and I have to get up early and I'm not as young as I once was. Jeff, on the other hand, seems to be in fine shape (of course, he's ten years younger than I). And it's really clear that this isn't the sort of concert you go to to actually hear the group (unlike, say, the Julliard Quartet or kd lang) because often the audience was louder than the band, which, given the amp power of the band, is interesting - this is one of those "I saw them when" concerts.

All-in-all, it was a good night. Just not a "let's do this again soon" night.

Not alone, I see


You scored as A college textbook. You're an authority on something, you just know it. Everyone else does, too, but that doesn't mean they like you. Since you think very highly of everything you say, you charge a pretty penny to entertain your listeners. Those forced to pay do so grudgingly and try to defray the costs of learning from you by selling portions of their access to your charms to others. As a result of this speedy dissemination of your knowledge, you constantly add to your repertoire--and then hike your price. Despite your usefullness, which is rarely in doubt, nobody likes you. They find you didactic, boring and irrelevant--but still necessary.

A college textbook


82%

A classic novel


71%

An electronics user's manual


68%

A paperback romance novel


57%

A coloring book


39%

Poetry


39%

The back of a froot loops box


32%

Your Literary Personality


Just like Karmon. And (apparently) Jandy. I wonder how many others from TRP qualify?

8.11.06

Ain't that America?

Rumsfeld resigns... Britney Spears leaves K-Fed. And those are the leading topics of conversation.

'Nuff said.

Prescient or Curmudgeon?

Bill Joy, at the The Aspen Ideas Festival:
Bill Joy on the Internet and education

Joy, the cofounder of Sun Microsystems, dismissed the suggestion that the online communities formed around Internet games and LiveJournal pages could provide an educational boost for America’s young people.

This all … sounds like a gigantic waste of time. If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I was competing with spending their time on this kind of crap … [P]eople are fooling themselves that they’re being creative in these spaces … [T]he standard of creativity in the world, to be competitive and be a great designer, is very hard: you have to go to school; you have to apprentice; you have to do hard things. It’s not about, your friends like something you did. So I think this is setting a false expectation: you can create your own island and people come to it in a video game … and I don’t see any correlation between that and what it’s gonna take to be a designer and have a skill set to succeed in the world. So I go back to what I said before: we’re amusing ourselves to death; there are good uses of this technology, and I don’t see this as a good use of the technology …

[T]he real problem is, by democratizing speech and the ability to post, we’ve lost the gradation for quality. The gradation of quality was always based on the fact that words had weight—it cost money to move them around. So there was back pressure against … junk …

[U]ltimately, not everyone can have a million readers, because all the readers have run out of time. So it’s a false promise to people, that they can get the big audience. Because in the end—once [you’ve] gotten to the years when you’ve got a job, you’ve gotta raise your kids—you’re not gonna have time for this.
(from The Atlantic Monthly - login required)

At NYSAIS, I'll be hearing from Will Richardson. He doesn't agree with Mr. Joy. I wonder if he's thought about it from this perspective. I know it's one of the things that worries me.

7.11.06

Good, but could be better

Conference One (not to be confused with Conference Two, starting tomorrow) was good. For the most part, the presenters avoided the Things I Hate. I know that at C2, there'll be a lot of talk about the election and that I'll want to kill all of them: people, remember - not everyone shares your biases pro or con a party/person/policy. I know that in this polarized world it's hard to believe that you might actually know someone that doesn't think the way you do, but - gasp - you just might. So keep the major angst to yourself until you know you're not going to annoy anyone.

End of rant one.

Rant two concerns the purpose of C1. It's a "Leadership Summit", which is wonderful. I'm always flattered to be considered a leader. It was inspiring to hear many of the thoughts, but... I know too many "sheep". There was little to no talk about how to reach them. It's a conundrum for which I have little response. If they don't come to the conference, how do you get the ideas back to them? If they don't do professional reading, how do you get the ideas back to them? If they aren't passionate about staying current and being relevant, how do you get the ideas back to them? Even more important: how do you convince someone in a school with little money, no help and an administration that sets up roadblocks to change that these ideas matter?

So the "could be better part" for C1? Next time, let's work on outreach - create a primer of small steps that anyone can take, perhaps, or figure out ways to bring the news to "the people" rather than forcing them to travel to hear it.

Sadly, I expect the same from C2.

,

6.11.06

Where Are You?


My statcounter has added a Google Earth mash-up of where my readers are. This is one day's worth. Neat, no?

4.11.06

Did I disturb you?

Things One and Two often complain that I'm a disturbing reader. It's not just the 1000+wpm. It's not just my addiction to reading (and, some might argue, books).

It's the laughing. Sometimes it's a knowing chuckle - which is not, as they've learned, a hint for them to say "hey, what's so funny". I'll share if I want, but I'm chuckling to myself. Last night, it was out and out hysterics. This isn't the first time (Dave Barry, mondegreens and Terry Pratchett are pretty much guaranteed to get me rolling, and there's plenty more). Maybe it was the late hour... or the wine. But if you were in the hotel rooms adjacent to mine, and my laughing kept you awake. I'm sorry.

But really... you try not laughing as you read this.

3.11.06

On the road...

I settled into The Drake, went to a show last night, and have been catching up on "chores" this morning. Unfortunately, that didn't include a lengthy (and overdue) post on my Culture Vulture activities. I promise one in the next few days.

In the mean time, check out the AASLBlog and the SLJWiki for a glimpse of my current activities.

1.11.06

30.10.06

Memo to NYC Marathon runners (2007)

Daylight Saving Time - When do we change our clocks? Just to be extra helpful for you, they're changing the clocks on Marathon Day. This year, however, you'll have to go with your normal amount of sleep.

29.10.06

Where's the ACLU?

UNEASYsilence : Google = NSA 2.0? ( þ: elearnspace)
What if I told you that I knew every website you visited, every email you ever wrote and received, every IM you ever sent and every call you ever made. I know how much your utility bills are, how much your American Express bill was, and that you have a proclivity to collect garden gnomes? Your reaction would be nothing short of utter outrage.

Now what if I told you that there is already a system in place that collects this information and has been doing so for years, and better yet, is not run by any government. It exists, and it is called Google: the vast black box of the information super highway.
Why isn't the ACLU, or more of the public, protesting this? Oh, wait: because we don't care, as long as it's not the goverment. Corporations taking personal information, storing, selling, sharing and displaying it, we're blase about that. But when the government does it, there must be a sordid reason.

Walt Crawford asks, after having upgraded to Firefox 2.0, "what's in your dropdown menu?"

I haven't upgraded to FF2.0 (just downloaded it and will do so this afternoon), but what's in my dropdown now is:

Google (because I'm too lazy to get rid of it and because it does the "inside blog" search well)
Amazon (for finding rarer books/music)
Alibris (to purchase rarer books)
Barnes & Noble
IMDB
Netflix
Powells
Snopes
Mamma (wonderful search engine, except for searching my blog)
WorldCat

That's it.

I do use gmail, and sometimes Scholar, but for the most part, I avoid Google. I just can't believe that they "do no evil". Can you?

27.10.06

Links Galore

26.10.06

Librarianship is not for the weak

So, you're thinking that being a librarian is easy? A nice cushy job shushing people and doing "book review" all day? HA!

In the past few days I've:
  • gotten numerous paper cuts
  • had bruised toes (not from teachers refusing to collaborate or people stating that, with Google and databases, libraries aren't needed but because I've dropped heavy tomes on them... and then there was the load of picture books that jumped off the book cart to land nicely on the already hurting digits: you need steel-toed shoes for this job!)
  • strained a muscle in my right forearm from moving 50 shelves of books in 1.5 hours
That's not to mention the constant assault from Other People's Germs, or the Never-Ending Dry Hands. Or the eyelid licking I get every morning (at 3:30am, thank you) from my Older Boy.

This is not a job for the faint of heart, or the delicate of physique!

25.10.06

Inaccuracy alert

How Many of Me seems to be the Site of the Moment. I went there, and I tried it. There was one of me (while I know that there are at least two!) and none of my father (who shares a name with his cousin, and both are alive). My mother might exist, but my sister doesn't (wish it were that easy in Real Life ;) )

So... play, but take the results with an ocean of salt!

Qualified?

Quiz Blogger features Interview: That Guy Off Jeopardy!
What was the most surreal moment you experienced during the time of the Jeopardy! madness?

There were plenty of odd moments, but nothing was weirder than the phone calls I got from prominent, front-page American politicians encouraging me to run for "Congress" (like your Parliament, except that they like to IM underage boys). The consensus, at the highest levels, appeared to be that, having appeared on a quiz show, I was now a viable Senate candidate. If this doesn't tell you what's wrong with American democracy, nothing will.
Which is only slightly better than the ads I've been seeing pro one New Jersey candidate, which basically say "A vote for the other guy is a vote for Bush" without explaining what he's actually for.

It's a coin-toss, I tell ya!

Ranting Elsewhere

MLearn: One Laptop Per Child

Am I totally off base with this?

22.10.06

Imponderables

I can't begin to imagine what the female version of looks like.

Plausible? Perhaps

In the beginning there was The Da Vinci Code. Actually, in the beginning there was Angels & Demons. Alternatively, in the beginning there was Holy Blood, Holy Grail?

Now, there are many books. Including The Expected One. I've read the ones listed above, and a few others besides. As fiction, they're not terribly well written. As fictionalized fact - horrible.

Why horrible? Because they stretch the bounds of plausible. Some of the "theory" I can buy.
  • It's plausible that Jesus was married
  • It's plausible that he fathered a child, in or out of marriage
  • It's plausible that Mary Magdalene fled the Middle East and landed in France
  • It's plausible that Mary Magdalene had a child, or two or three
  • It's plausible that Mary Magdalene preached her version of Jesus' teachings while living in France
  • It's plausible that some of those teachings have survived
Why are those things plausible? Because we know so very little about what happened, with the exception of the Gospels. Many of the disciples vanish from the pages of history after the crucifixion. We do know that there were many people at that time that preached variations of Judaism, much like there are many people today preaching their own versions of all religions.

But that's it, folks.

It is not plausible to me that there are people today who know that they are descended from the Holy Bloodlines. It is not plausible to me that there are secret organizations whose entire raison d'etre is to preserve and protect the "grail children". It is not plausible to me that the Vatican is spending a whole lot of time and effort covering all this up.

If you want to prove it to me, show me the evidence. Don't show me obscure, never before seen (or independently tested for verification) documents or just tell me that they exist: show them to me. Open the information up to scrutiny -- don't, as one author is doing, say "I know this and I have the proof, but I can't show you - you're just going to have to believe that my book is based on Real Information." If you're interweaving the information into the book, don't write "[character] slowly shook her head, trying to take in this incredible information" and then have them swallow it hook, link, sinker and kitchen sink. Show a little incredulity, because that's what the reader's feeling a whole lot of. Trust me on that one.

Because I don't buy it (and I'm not the only one).

So why are these badly written, badly plotted books selling? I don't think it's because we believe them, I think it's because our standards of good writing and good plotting have slipped. Yes, there are gullible people out there, ones who want to believe in Deep Conspiracies. But the rest of us just don't care as long as its escapism. It's just too bad that this is the form that escape is taking.

21.10.06

'Tis the Season

As you can probably tell from my previous post, I'm getting into the holiday swing: ghoulies and goblins and scary stories, etc.. I've been fortunate that the last two neighborhoods in which I've lived have been kid-friendly. Why? Because that means decoration friendly. All those lights and blow-up monsters and cobwebs... just wonderful.

However, like Reader_Iam, I sometimes wonder what's wrong with music programmers. The drugstore... the supermarket... Can't I even get a "Monster Mash" before I hear those bells a-jingling?!

Apparently not.

L is also for Lazygal!


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?




You will swallow some tacks. You are a little weird, maybe not so much in a good way. Buy a yellow tie and wear it on your head.
Take this quiz!



(þ: Booklust)

20.10.06

Just NOT interested

Yesterday I had what has become a relatively common occurance: I'm sitting with a colleague, we're eating and talking about this and that, and they start to ramble on about a favorite show. Now, this is usually a show I've no interest in (including - but not limited to - The X-Files, South Park, Battlestar Gallactica, Firefly and American Idol).

I've been polite, and told them that I don't watch the show (due to the whole lack-of-interest thing). I've been curt and said "didn't see the episode" or "no idea what you're talking about". I'm almost at the point of being rude and saying, "look, if I'd wanted to watch, I would have - I didn't, so please, shut up!"

It's one thing if someone uses an episode, or a character, to make a point, and gives some background. It's completely different when they give a precis of the preceeding episode, as though telling you about it is incredible important. It isn't. I don't bore you with my favorite shows (and believe me, I could!)... why can't you just Leave. Me. Alone?!

Three Things

In this day and age, standing by while genocide occurs is inexcusable.

Three Simple Steps You Can Take

1. Educate : Inform your friends and community about the genocide in Darfur and inspire them to act!

2.Advocate : Urge Congress to pass legislation that is vital to end the genocide.

3.Fundraise : Help directly support civilian protection in Darfur and future crises by donating or holding a fundraiser to stop genocide.

“It is not in the interest of Sudan nor in the interest of Africa nor indeed in the interest of the world for us all to stand by and see genocide being developed in Darfur.”

Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria

18.10.06

A Quest

For as long as I can remember, I've been on a quest for the Perfect Blueberry Muffin. I've had some that came close to perfection, but none I've been totally awed by... my quest continues.

I haven't been on a similar quest for the Perfect Pancake, but I think that last Sunday I did find it! Where? In tiny Ashfield MA. Who knew? It was in a place called Edgar's, and the recipe was from South Face Farm (where, during sugaring season, people line up for hours just to eat their pancakes!).

There's a choice at Edgar's: Stack, Shorter Stack and Minimalist Stack. I had a conversation with an 11-year-old about this - we agreed that the Minimalist Stack really wasn't a stack, since it was just the one pancake. I should probably mention that the pancakes are the size of salad plates, and about an inch thick... one is definitely enough!

And then there's the hot chocolate. When they melt the chocolate, when it's not from some powdered, pre-made mix, you know you've entered a whole new world of hot chocolate making.

This breakfast followed another wonderful meal: sushi at Bizen, in Great Barrington. Not your traditional sushi menu, but absolutely wonderful and a great find (not my find, exactly, but someone from MPOW mentioned it and since it was sort of on my way to Amherst, I just had to try it!)

16.10.06

Upcoming...

My posting has been sporadic recently, in part due to my not being home enough to really sit and type.

So, here's what you lucky people have to look forward to in the next few days (possibly a week...):
  • an overdue rant on a new fiction trend
  • a discussion of quite possible the perfect pancake
  • a review of a chamber music concert and an art exhibit
  • a preview of upcoming events (including Shakespeare and the Opera)
  • my thoughts on why TiVo is dangerous
Quite probably there'll be more. But that should whet your appetite nicely, right?

Don't forget to check what I'm writing elsewhere, too!

The End

Like any good school librarian, I read The End this weekend. It's over. Luckily.

I think kids will like this one, as they've liked the other 12 books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Unfortunately, the series lost its charm about Book the 4th for me.

Why? Well, it just tried too hard to be clever. Here's an example: the more-than-a-page discussion of being in the dark (or being in the dark about being in the dark, or being in the dark about being in the dark about being in the dark). Trying too hard, I tell you! And Sunny's conversation was getting to be more and more an exercize in "what the ()#&$(*& is she referring to NOW????" than humor.

Let's face it, when the books increase in size and cleverness, there's clearly something going on. I think it's an author who had a good idea - perhaps even a great one - and then couldn't stick with what worked really well. Just couldn't leave it alone (much like J.K. Rowling in the latter Harry Potter books: too much, waaaay too much, because the sense is that each has to top the previous).

Luckily, The End has ended, the series is complete, and I can move on to other things.

13.10.06

TGIF13!

In lieu of a real post, a little something from Savage Chickens!


(I promise to be better next week, after the current round of Culture Vulturing is over)

9.10.06

Notable Quotes

Someone accused me today of over-reacting to something he said. I replied that it's my strong suit, and I go with what I'm good at.

8.10.06

Statistics, Damn Statistics

Every so often I check my stat counter to see where people are coming from and why. I also check to see how many have learned that IE is a Bad Browser (only 30% of you seem to have done that - for the rest: Get Firefox!).

It's the "what drew you to this blog" part that gets me. I'm not surprised that people come here looking for information about a book. That thrills me. What doesn't thrill me, what worries me, are the number of people that seem to find me by typing in [title of book/author name] [study guide]. As if! I've done the research: three mentions of Those Guides by name, and a couple of posts that use the words, but not in conjunction. Sheesh.

Oddly enough, they don't seem to have returned to the blog for the sparkling wit and ranting. Don't miss any of 'em.

7.10.06

Someone gets it!

Some youth rethink online communications:
"Across campus, journalism professor Michael Bugeja -- long an advocate of face-to-face communication -- read Henderson's column and saw it as a 'ray of hope.' It's one of a few signs, he says, that some members of the tech generation are starting to see the value of quality face time.

As the novelty of their wired lives wears off, they're also are getting more sophisticated about the way they use such tools as social networking and text and instant messaging -- not just constantly using them because they're there."
Isn't that great news? To read that someone realizes that " a lot of the online friends he accumulated were really just acquaintances." How many young people today realize that? These on-line buddies aren't people that you can call at 2am because you've been in an accident and need someone to come to the hospital: real life friends are. Yes, you can "share" things with them that you might otherwise not tell people, but so what? Will they really be there when you need them? No. Because if you're not connected, they're not there.

I hope more people consider the complexities of virtual lives, and question whether life isn't better lived in person.

ETA: Two others that get it - WorkBook: "I'm working on learning to rely more on phone and in-person conversations."
And Edith.

6.10.06

Links Galore

4.10.06

How like a librarian


I just can't imagine not going to work on Halloween dressed like this (þ: Librarian Avengers). My question to Target is: how did you find out? No one I know would give our secret away...

Celebrate!

World Teachers'Day 2006
Don’t forget: the voices of teachers striving for quality education need to be heard throughout the world on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October.
In addition to my many librarian-teacher friends, let's hear it for Karen, my father, my uncles, my colleagues (in all four schools in which I've worked), the teachers I've had in my K-18 career, Puffin, LizzieD and Cam: all of whom try to do the best work they can for their students.

3.10.06

My Heroine!

The Little Professor has over 6,000 books. I'm only halfway there...

Irony Alert

I was catching up on my magazine reading and came across this gem in the September 2006 American Libraries:
"We track library books better than we track sex offenders" U.S. Representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.), sponsor of a bill to create a national internet database of convicted child molesters, "Senate Backs Child Molesters Database," Associated Press, July 21.

2.10.06

Ahead of the curve

Maud writes about Ancestor Stones. Been there, read that. And liked it.

Inquiring Minds Get An Answer

According to my uncle (who lives in Israel, but checked with a sabra):
David's brother-in-law explained to me the writing of Hebrew words under musical notation. The second word would appear to the right of the first word, as in English, so that the words can follow the sequence of notes, although in a normal Hebrew text, the second word would appear to the left of the first word. As a result, he said, the lyrics are a bit hard to read.
For someone like me, who can neither read music nor Hebrew, that'd be a nightmare. For people that can read one, the other or both, probably not much better.

But aren't you glad you know
?