Sprucing up the homesite

I'm home... finally. Plane delays (and could someone please explain what "weather" is? the pilot said "we're experiencing delays due to weather": is this good weather? bad weather? stormy weather? ) meant that I didn't get to Thing One's until 2 am! But now I'm home with The Boys, dealing with the aftermath of being away for five days:
  • Mail has been sorted, but not dealt with... yet.
  • Clothing is unpacked, but not necessarily hung up or in the laundry.
  • Papers are in piles, waiting for recycling or reporting.
  • Boys are being cuddled as requested.
  • Full tape in VCR needs to be watched (EastEnders, Canadian Grand Prix and The Closer)

Then I updated the sidebar. My work here is done.



There must be something wrong

This morning, I opened my hotel room door to grab the complimentary copy of USA Today and saw this headline: Buffett pledges $37.1B to charity.

What does it say about me that I immediately thought "Jimmy" not "Warren"?

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Notable Quotes

[T]he tricky reality of life is that it is not simply "either/or." If it were, we could cope without confusion and frustration. Life, however, is "both/and." Both glorious and horrendous. Both joyful and sad. Both comforting and unbearable. And though we were made for glory, joy, and comfort in God's presence, we have to cope every day with horror, sadness, and the unbearable.
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NOLA update

Well, the weather has cooperated nicely: relatively low humidity, which makes the heat bearable. A little. I'm more afraid now of increasing my sunburn, and I suspect my arms are getting tan. We'll see if anyone else notices that.

The conference has been fine. Two sessions were a little disappointing, but I've already sent off one box of bookswag (and some other swagstuff) and have another waiting back at the conference center. I've eaten two good dinners (one at Antoine's!) and am looking forward to tomorrow's.

And I just got back from the Mary-Chapin Carpenter concert. She was great, and even took the time to read us the NYTimes article about the conference. No, she hadn't brought it with her, but one member of the audience kindly went down to the internet cafe and printed it out. We're librarians. Go figure. Her opening act was Bruce Diagrepont, and I got two CDs to bop to on my drive home.

Time for bed: tomorrow's an early start.

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What's wrong with me?

For all my complaining about heat and humidity, you'd think I'd be Miss A/C. Wrong. I get cold very easily.

For example, last night after dinner, I returned to my hotel room to discover that I've lost my pjs. I saw them when I unpacked, so I can only assume somehow they got ashamed of being with me and wandered off somewhere. The A/C unit's settings run 69o or lower(!!) so I turned it off. Still too cool to sleep in the alltogether. So I put on the plushy bathrobe the hotel provides, and crawled under the covers.

Most people would be sweating and uncomfortable. Not me. I'm still cool. Not cold, but cool. There has got to be something wrong with me, right?

I'll let you know how I survive the heat here.

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What do you say (part two)

Tuesday, Jean Walsh died. I'd gotten to know her over the course of the past 19 years, since she's the sister of Thing One's brother-in-law. Jean fought cancer for eight years: she was not one of the "lucky" ones that does a lumpectomy, a quick course of radiation and/or chemo and then on with her life. Every time we thought she'd "won", it'd pop back up again. Eventually it metasticized. Last Friday, she was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia and an e-coli infection; on Tuesday her respirator was removed. Jeannie was one of those people who didn't spend a lot of time on "poor me": she was too concerned about her two kids, her ex, her brothers (she had five of them), her parents, other people with breast cancer. Anyone but her.

Because of the whole conference thing, the only thing I could do was go to the Wednesday wake sessions. While I'm physically here in NOLA, my mind is in Westchester, thinking of Jeannie and her family, particularly this morning. Even though we knew this was coming, it's never easy.

Which brings me to my question. At the wake, MJV's sister kept saying, "Thank you for coming." I mumbled something, because the standard responses seem inadequate... "I'm happy to"? ... "Of course I had to come"? ... Nothing seems quite right. I'm never sure how to respond to those comments.

One thing I do know how to say: PLEASE HELP.



Off again!

I'm off to yet another conference. This time, it's ALA's Annual Conference, in New Orleans. Yes, I'll be blogging. And no, I'm not happy about the weather there. And we all know how I feel about being away from home...

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Reader's Block

Over at TRP we have had discussions about "readers block": like writers block, but when you just can't read. Sometimes this happens because you're too busy, or because you're sick and can't concentrate, but sometimes it's just one of those things. You only want to watch stupid tv or movies or something -- anything -- other than actually read.

I've been following the discussions about the 48 Hour Book Challenge,. The premise is that you read during those hours, and then, after, blog about what you've read. Thoughts, synopses, random musings, whatever was triggered by the pages that flipped by as you embarked on this read. I considered participating, but (you guessed it) Readers Block hit.

Ok, having a friend down for the weekend didn't help.

But it's more than that. This quarter I've only read about 18 books. That's it. Last year, same quarter, I read 23 books. This on top of the To Do List. One of my goals has been to deplete Mt. Bookpile, reducing it to rubble. Not happening. And, starting tomorrow, I'm in New Orleans for ALA's Annual Conference (more on that later). Which means RA copies of books to add.

I guess we'll see what next quarter brings.

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Notable Quotes

However little television you watch, watch less. Read. Read for pleasure. Read for happiness
- David McCullough



Why reinvent the wheel?

Alice has coined the acronym RTDADWTS: Read The Directions And Do What They Say. Seems to me that "we" already have a version of this: RTFM.

Don't remind me

AADL reminded me that 31 years ago Jaws made its debut.

In my mind, Jaws is inextricably intertwined with the taglines for the movies Blood Beach ("Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - you can't get to it") and The Rocky Horror Picture Show ("A different set of Jaws").

How do you remember Jaws?

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Boys to Men

One of the neat things about working in a school that runs K-12 (or, in the case of my last school, 4-12) is that you get to watch a young boy, or girl, become a man (or woman). Since I don't have children of my own, this is the closest I'll come and it's an amazing thing.

Over the past week or so, it's been "celebration" time at school. Grade 4 "moved up", Grade 8 was "appreciated" and Grade 12 graduated. There were awards and Occasions and good-byes were said. All very sad, and all part of a teacher-librarian's life.

Yesterday I went back to MOPOW for their graduation. One main reason was a very special boy - oops! man - that I'd gotten to know over the years. He'd come in 6th grade, preternaturally aware of movies and films. His "profession"? Movie maker. He started filming stuff at school in 8th grade, and each year his movies have become tighter, better written, better filmed (ok, part of that has to do with the equipment being more sophisticated) and just, well, more what you'd think you'd have seen if you'd been watching, say, Spielberg or Coppola or someone like that at this age.

Add to that his writing skills. The speech he gave at his 8th grade Moving Up ceremony presaged the thoughtful speech he gave yesterday. And, I'm betting, those will be nothing compared to his Oscar acceptance speech. It's not just his talent, it's his personality: he's a great guy. Very aware of what's going on, both from a personal and a professional perspective.

I've been privileged to have met and gotten to know many boys, and girls, over the years. Not all become as special a man or woman as this one has become. Some do, and I consider myself honored to have "known them when". And I look forward to seeing what else happens, because I just know that whatever they do, it'll be incredible.

Tag: lazylife, graduation, transition


Nicely done!

This bit of news is in The Guardian: "Amid the Hay Festival whirlwind there was a quiet triumph for Puffin, which scored a hat-trick at the 26th Red House Children's Book Award. The overall winner was American debut author Rick Riordan for Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief."

I've already raved about it - so go, buy, read and enjoy!

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What does your blog look like?

Saw this over at Eclectic Librarian, and had to try it.

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Try it yourself.



Do as I say

Over on Lifehacker, there's a discussion about people that really get into the whole GTD ethos and those that don't. There was a question about what to do when you're with someone that hasn't bought into it. I responded
DO NOT nudge/nag/press/insist that someone else become a GTD-er. If they weren't that type before (or at least, inclined to be that type), then nothing you can do now will force them to change. All that will accomplish is you being irritated, them being irate, and neither party feeling good about thing. And if this is a real deal breaker in the relationship, then perhaps the relationship wasn't worth much any way.
Yet, in my own way, I'm just as guilty. I have a friend that is (to put it mildly) a slob. It's so bad that there are cobwebs hanging in the kitchen and above the shower... so bad that I don't want to go into this house... so bad that I worry about disease (I swear that mold and bad ventilation at the old house helped cause some of my health problems two years ago).

And instead of saying, this is how this person is, this relationship is important so what can I do to work around it/deal with it, I nag and whine and yell and issue the ultimatum that I will not come back. Ever. This is a deal breaker for me, and I'm not necessarily the neatest person out there (ya'll are invited to see my office!). Yet here I am, recommending not nagging, not pushing.

Sometimes, I feel like a hypocrite.



Previously, Wendy's sold a 16 ounce soft drink as a small, a 20 ounce soft drink as medium and a 32 ounce soft drink as Biggie. Now, a 20 ounce drink is a small, a 32 ounce drink is a medium and the new 42 ounce drink is a large.
(þ: Michael)

So... what was that about obesity? Or weasel-snot?

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Notable Quotes

[A great book] lays its images permanently on the mind [and] is entirely irreplacable in the sense that no other book whatever comes anywhere near reminding you of it or being even a momentary substitute for it.
- C. S. Lewis

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PLEASE stop whining

Back in the Good Old Days (aka "my youth"), the local PBS station would have an Annual Pledge Break: two weeks in the year when they would put on 'special' programming and go on and on about how they needed member support. My parents always gave.

When I started out in NYC, there were three(!!!) PBS stations, and they would all whine at the same time. I gave to the one I watched most.

Sometime in the past 10-ish years, Whine Week went from a once-a-year "treat" to an every couple of months idiocy. I don't give any more. Partly it's the whining and the rescheduling of the one or two shows I do watch. Partly it's the loss of Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday, Mystery on Thursday, and good Britcoms on Friday (I'm sorry, Hyacinth Bucket is not funny - bring back Penelope Keith!). Partly it's because I already do pay, when I pay my monthly cable bill. And partly it's because they just won't shut up, no matter how often I pay.

(and don't get me started on the time that the station on Long Island censored a scene from Pippin and denied selling my name to a mailing list!)

My advice to PBS? Whine once a year, make it truly special programming when you do, and then shut up. You might find that you get more money that way.

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Color me conservative

Language Log posted about Words that can't be printed in the NYT, and includes these guidelines from the Guardian
do not describe this as "a good, honest old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon word" because, first, here is no such thing as an Anglo-Saxon word (they spoke Old English) and, more important, it did not appear until the late 13th century
see swearwords

We are more liberal than any other newspaper, using words such as cunt and fuck that most of our competitors would not use.
The editor's guidelines are straightforward:
First, remember the reader, and respect demands that we should not casually use words that are likely to offend.
Second, use such words only when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article; there is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword outside direct quotes.
Third, the stronger the swearword, the harder we ought to think about using it.
Finally, never use asterisks, which are just a copout.
I've seen The Words popping up more and more in magazines that once were, well, more circumspect (The New Yorker springs to mind). What a pity they don't emulate the Guardian.

Doesn't anyone remember that using Those Words tactically is far better than using them casually? My mother is a big believer in le mot juste, and when she uses a curse word, it's memorable. It's not one of those words she drops into everyday conversation - there's impact, and shock, when she says one.

I've met teachers that use that sort of language in the classroom. I've heard people I respect sounding like truckers. Don't get me wrong: I know the words, and I can use them (and have done!). But many times I catch myself and wonder, is this really how I want people to hear me? Is this the image I want to portray?

The answer is "no." Not just because I work in a school and need to Set An Example, but because there's a time and a place for certain language. Some words should not be used casually, and some words should be. These words - the ones that the NYTimes (which in almost all other respects is going downhill as a newspaper) can't or won't print - are not casual words.

If that makes me a fuddy-duddy, so be it.

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At the ballet (workshop)

As previously mentioned, one of the things I do at this time of year is attend School of American Ballet's Workshop presentation. And, as also previously mentioned, it's usually quite good. The article in the Saturday NYTimes just whet my appetite.

Sadly, this time it was just "good." No really exciting dancers that you just know are going to make their mark on the world of ballet... just competent dancing from a group of talented kids. Perhaps it was an "off" performance, perhaps the choreography didn't really show off their capabilities the way it should have (or could have), but all-in-all, I was a little disappointed. Even the Big Crowd Pleaser piece at the end failed to really stir me, or my companion. And, when someone that really doesn't know or follow ballet can say, "well, that was just ok", it means something.

The audience, however, did not disappoint. There were the usual suspects dotting the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. One thing I didn't mention before is that the ushers for Workshop are students at SAB, young hopefuls that have their eyes on being on stage this time next year. A few of them were former students, and it was nice seeing them again. It's nice thinking of a baton being passed, generation of dancers to generation of dancers, supporting (and ultimately, competing with) each other. I look forward to seeing them next year.

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Is it me, or does this not sound like a good idea?


Nineteen and counting

Have you ever met someone and just "clicked"? Well, nineteen years ago, that happened to me. I was working at a deadly dull job: trade administrator in an investment bank. That meant that when a trade on one of my accounts was made, I entered it into the computer, and the next day, checked for confirmation from the brokerage house before filing the papers. If anything went wrong with the trade, I had to call the account administrator, who would then check with the holding bank to see what went wrong. Long story short, that's where I met Michael. 19 years ago this week.

Clearly, we clicked.

Since then, we've been through a lot. Job changes. Loss of parents. Deaths of beloved cats. Financial woes. Trips to Europe and Montreal. Exploring the world of wine. Broadway shows, opera and ballet. Music and television shows. Bad haircuts. Extended family mishegas.

Without him, I wouldn't have quit some of the awful jobs I've had. I wouldn't have had the courage to drop everything and go to graduate school. I wouldn't have become a school librarian and become involved on a national (and local) level. I wouldn't have had the courage to leave my job and my house and my "life" and move to a new town, a new job, and a new life.

Without him, my life would be all the poorer. It hasn't always been easy, but after 19 years, he can still amaze me and make me laugh and feel better about the bad things in life.

Isn't that what best friends are for? I'm looking forward to the next 19 years and seeing what they bring.

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Arrogant much?

Scientists discover eight new species: "Naaman acknowledged the species were likely endangered from oxygen exposure during the discovery process but said he was confident in the scientific importance of the find. He said he believes further exploration will reveal additional new life forms."
So, basically, it's ok to wipe out an ecosystem and new species in the name of "exploration" and "science". Notice there's not a word about protection and preservation. What crap.

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Sumer Is Icumen In

Sure signs of summer in the LazyCottage: an abundance of berries (blackberries + yogurt = yummmm)... only one comforter on the bed... windows all unsealed and open... the Start of Summer Sunburn.

Yes folks, we have a winner! My first sunburn was detected two days ago and confirmed yesterday.

Spring has truly left the atmosphere.


Must be crowded...

!!!!!!!!!NEWEST RUMOUR!!!!!!!!!
I have been contacted my numerous people with the same rumour, that Marissa will be put in a comma for 6 episodes while she does the filiming of her movie.
(þ: TVTattle)

And to think I was all excited about today's youth after watching the National Spelling Bee last night.