28.12.07

Election mania heats up

Would YOU elect any of these? All Peggy Noonan wants is a reasonable person. Somehow, in this country at this moment, I think "reasonable" is beyond our expectations.

Let's just remember that neither side is perfect (as a matter of fact, they're remarkably similar).

Links galore

Book buying edition

Things I hate about books

I just finished The Art of Political Murder, about the 1998 assassination of Guatemala's Bishop Gerardi. This could have been a fascinating read, but instead it dragged in places.

What? A murder book that drags? Particularly a "true life" murder? Yes. You see, the idea of good editing seems to have been lost somewhere in the past few decades. This book contained a dramatis personae, but the author felt compelled to reintroduce or explain who the "characters" were at least once per chapter. Had this been edited, the flow would have been smoother and it would have been a better book (as a matter of fact, I started to look for the reintroduction each new chapter!). I know that the author has been a writer for magazines like Harpers and New Yorker, and it occurred to me that this was a reporting technique, as readers need that when a story is chopped up over a period of days, or weeks. But in a book? And Goldman is also a novelist, so someone should have pointed out this flaw before now.

I read this as an ARC, so I can't comment about the final look of the book, but I can bet that the cover will have blurbs. I've mentioned that Thing Two's sister has written a book. She asked me for opinion on some things and I pleaded that there not be blurbs; the readers I've surveyed (ranging in age from 10 - 70+) don't use them and actively dislike them. Her response? It's the booksellers (eg, Amazon, B&N, your local mom&pop) that want them. Readers would much rather have a good synopsis than a blurb.

Even worse than a back jacket filled with meaningless blurbs is a jacket that blurbs previously written works. WHO CARES??? I want to know about this book, even if it's part of a series. I don't care about the earlier books (I would like a listing for the series, in chronological order, to guide my purchasing). Sadly, this is rarely the case. If you can't do this, dear publisher, perhaps the covers could clearly indicate where in the series the book is - the ninth, the seventy-fifth, etc.. I know not every series needs this (Miss Marple springs to mind) but I do know many that don't want to read series out of order (although how one handles series not written in chronological order, like the Narnia or Darkover books, I don't quite know).

I'm on to a clear final book - Exit Music. I know that this one will only explain who people are once, if at all. I know where it fits in the series (I think; the most recent Dalziel/Pascoe wasn't the end despite predictions). Sadly, the blurb is on the front flap, not the back cover. Ah well, two out of three ain't bad.

27.12.07

Who didn't think this was going to happen?

Bhutto assassinated. Pakistan erupts. (photos)

So much for peace on earth/goodwill to man, eh?

Sweeeeeeeeennnnyyyyyyyy

Thing One and I saw the movie, and, well... I've seen three Broadway versions, so I'm pretty well versed on the musical. I could have sworn I'd posted a review of the most recent version (which I saw with Thing Two, a Broadway-phobe) but apparently I hadn't. I'd decided at that time that the best combination, for me, would be Michael Cerveris and Angela Lansbury (Patti LuPone had the requisite weirdness, but her voice bothers me at times). Knowing the symbiotic relationship between Depp/Burton/Bonham Carter, I was looking forward to at least a good time, if not a credible version (and let's not start on my Alan Rickman obsession).

So, what did I think? Sondheim's opinion to the contrary, losing "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" was a mistake. So was keeping "Green Finch and Linnet Bird". Those were minor niggles - the bigger ones were editing "A Little Priest" (c'mon! let Sweeney crack a smile and at least one joke) and cutting the Quartet (at least the Judge's part in it should have been retained). Beyond that, the winnowing down of the music was done quite well and most of it was hardly noticed (that boring song the Beadle and Mrs. Lovett sing? who cared????) One other cut that shouldn't have happened: the Beggar Woman approaching Sweeney at the opening, because that sets up the horror of the ending. IMVHO, of course.

Acting/singing-wise, I was thrilled, for the most part. The fact that it's film, not theatre, allows for more subtlety in facial and vocal expression, which worked very well in the this case. 95% of Depp's work was wonderful, but there was a small percentage of time when I noticed his thin voice and the over-reliance on accent (he could out-EastEnd real EastEnders!). Bonham Carter's voice was, I thought, more problematic and thin, particularly when she needed a Big Voice (during "A Little Priest", "Worst Pies in London" or "Not While I'm Around"). Rickman? Very credible singing. And Sasha Baron Cohen was, for the first time since I became aware that he existed, not annoying.

After the film, we tried to figure out where we'd seen Anthony (aka Jamie Campbell Bower) before. Nowhere, apparently. We'll see if this is really a rising star or just a lucky role. And Toby (Ed Sanders) was wonderful. Anyone doing a revival of Oliver? He's your lead. Really.

One last comment/query: Thing One swears that Anthony Stewart Head appears in the crowd scene for Pirelli. IMBD doesn't list him, but perhaps an uncredited cameo? Or was he seeing things?

Don't worry about the blood. It's so cartoonish you won't have nightmares, although you might want to stay away from hamburger and other mystery meats for a while.

Try a little priest... and some moo shu

Tuesday, Thing One and I celebrated a "Jewish Christmas" by going to Sweeney Todd and then out to dinner. He'd never before realized how ingrained this particular tradition is in Jewish life, but almost every Jew he spoke with concurred. Dinner should be Chinese, but there are - gasp - places where there is no Chinese. Imagine!

When we walked into the multiplex, he was shocked to see that Empire Dragon had posted signs saying they were open on Christmas. Well, duh.

Even my parents, in SmallCity went to a Chinese restaurant (they'd miscalculated the time of the movie, though).

So, for your holiday enjoyment, here are Little Professor's Sweeney Links and a great Christmas Tradition video.

26.12.07

Cultural literacy

"Need another Timmy"

"Not the Mamma"

"My cousin's more of a Fester, but [Thing Two] is sort-of like the Xerox guy"


Cam was wondering about shared cultural references (mostly vis-a-vis her students).

Yesterday, Thing One and I watched Dinosaurs - the source of the first two quotes. The second came during a conversation with one of my colleagues (during a discussion about male hair). How many people know all of those references? How many know where Thing One and Thing Two come from (recent parents excluded)?

The thing is, as one of Cam's commenters stated, culture shifts - our points of reference change based on time and experience. For example, I've never been to a Piggly-Wiggly (isn't that a game, not a supermarket?) because of where I grew up. Thing Two didn't grow up in America, so many commercial and tv references are lost on him. Thing One is nine years older than I, so his references are different based on age and the Vietnam era. My mother taught me the Wildroot Creme Oil jingle - am I a throwback (I also can recognize when it's "too late for Herpicide!").

Don't know quite where this post is going, but I do know that I'm not really worrying if my friends, family, colleagues or students can't always follow my allusions. I'm sure we'll find our own Darmok, somehow.

25.12.07

The preceeding were brought to you by Santa

Santa (aka Thing One) gave me some very wonderful presents this Christmas:
  • Germanicus, by David Wishart
  • The Nicholas Feast, by Pat Mcintosh
  • 50 Games to Play with Your Cat, by Jackie Strachan
  • An Eton Emergency Camera (see below)

  • A Nikon Coolpix camera and memory card. I promise to not catblog that often. Really.
  • A neon orange Slinky to replace the one burned in the fire (although that one was multi-colored, star-shaped and from CheckFree).

And what did Mrs. Claus get Santa?

Lazy Yule Log


Christmas Morning chez Lazygal


(What a messy bed!)



It's not messy, I'm in the bed!


Surprise! I'm here, too!

24.12.07

Oh, if only!

The spam filter at MPOW was off for a few hours yesterday 48 hours and I've just spent several minutes deleting spam. I keep being told that I could be 3" bigger. If I really could go from 5' 4.5" to 5' 7.5", I would be very happy.

What? That's not what they mean? Bummer.

23.12.07

Could have been a perfect day

It's raining, and my fireplace is ablaze with crackling wood and warmth... and I'm sitting at my dining room table, working. I would much rather have been on my couch, reading. Wouldn't you?

On the other hand, in 50 minutes (eg, at 7pm ET) I will be watching Hogfather on ION. Hope you are, too.

(Thing One should also be happy - it looks like my Pats are "squishing the fish"! ETA Thing One is happy, but my mother's now concerned that we didn't score in the second half; I, on the other hand, am thrilled the Celtics beat Orlando, so overall, a good night sportswise.)

Last minute help for befuddled elves

Provided as a service, not necessarily to be bought for me:

I'm sure your giftees will appreciate whatever you give - 'tis the season, after all.

22.12.07

Annotated Webclutter

Time to take care of the backfiles again...

  • MPOW is now "closed" for Winter Break (staff and administrators will still be working, but teachers and students are off enjoying the next two weeks). When we come back, I need to start thinking about staffing for next year; I know of one need we need to fill and there are potentially others. So, what am I looking for? Definitely not this.
  • More from MPOW, this time regarding our rebuilding of the collection. One of my staff and I were checking in the latest Big Shipment of Books (2,000+) and were discussing things like "should this series go here or here?" and "why is Ubu Roi in the 700s not the 800s?". Then we started thinking about biographies. As adults, 40+ years old, we know to use a biography section -- we even read them for fun. We used that section as children, and read biographies for fun back then. Students still do read biographies for fun (just ask any 4th grader about a local sports hero) but they don't get the separation of the person from the subject. For example, why wouldn't Anne Frank be in with the other books on WWII? or why is Kevin Garnett not near the books on the Celtics or basketball? So we've decided to eliminate the biography section and move the books to more "appropriate" shelves. Then we started talking about BISAC and wondering how we could incorporate that into our catalog, without losing Dewey.
  • Nancy's comments about her attempts to lessen the impact of sending many physical cards reminded me of Tim Worstall's comments about recycling. Somewhere between the two lies a happy medium, methinks.
  • It's Gift Giving Month (what with Chanukah being so early this year) and perhaps time to start on a lifetime reading plan. Next week's Links post will point you in some good directions for spending your newfound lucre or gift cards. On books, natch.
  • Yet more advice on ways to protect your privacy (this time, your Social Security Number). And why Google's knol might not be such a good idea.

21.12.07

Links Galore

20.12.07

Best description of Christmas by a Jew

It's Thanksgiving with gifts, ham and a pretty tree.

19.12.07

Imponderables

28 letters?????

And, for those of you with knowledge of the Roman number system, exactly which Arabic number does XVIX correlate to?

Give the man credit

50 cent to play Kosovo (þ: Thing One)

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug

Says it all, doesn't it?

May your holiday season be one of windshields, not bugs!

16.12.07

Have yourself a Merry blah blah blah

This seems to have been the Year of Women in Concert - first Marianne Faithful, then Camille and now Aimee Mann. Of the three, Camille was definitely the best.

Why not Ms. Mann? It wasn't because she was sick and croaking - I have infinite respect for her desire to Go On With The Show, and to do her best to recast the songs into keys and vocal ranges she could handle. I repeat: that wasn't the problem.

The problem was that this was her Christmas Show, which was more of a variety thing and less of an actual concert. The "guest list" looked interesting, yet sadly we saw no one that really was up to her level. For example, Ben Lee, a Jew from Oz (we know this because he mentioned it several times), sang some of his songs. Far from the interesting stuff Aimee does, his seemed derivative and bland. Even his call-and-response song was boring. The Channukkah (to add in all the possibilities for that word) Fairy was... horrific? Pointless? And the comedic bits dragged on.

Part of me wants to say that this was all because of the rejiggering of the show to accommodate the illness, and part of me wants to say that it was simply ill-conceived.

I guess if I want to hear her stuff, I'll have to get CDs or wait until she does a real concert. Because when she was on stage, singing (however badly), she was quite good.

ETA: Laryngitis? Poor Aimee!

13.12.07

12.12.07

Politically Incorrect

As you know, I'm not one for voting the party line "because" - I like to find out where the candidates stand on the issues and then choose my candidate based on their matching my views/opinions.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Mike Huckabee was echoing my thoughts from years before (for different reasons, so he's not on my "to vote for" list... yet).

Way back when, just after college, I worked for an Off-Broadway theatre company (the now-defunct Circle Repertory Company). This was 1984-86, just at the start of the AIDS epidemic here in America. One of my bosses, a gay man, used to go to some huge gay disco in Ossining and pick up men - random strangers with whom he'd have sex. This seemed excessive and just, well, wrong, but then, I'm a little old-fashioned about certain things. At the end of the 84/85 season, we produced Hoffman's AsIs, the first play about the effects of AIDS on the gay community. It was a very, very powerful production (although the 1989 revival already seemed quite dated and I'm sure it's not produced now, even as a period piece).

Yet as I read about the spread of AIDS, and the actions of ACT UP, I wondered: why aren't we treating this like other epidemics? Is it really fair to all people (gay, straight, bi, non) to allow people that potentially could kill others to just roam among us, rather than using quarantine and other methods to contain, and possibly eradicate this disease? Elizabeth Pisani seems to agree with me. How nice, 20+ years later, to be validated.

9.12.07

Who knew?

Years and years ago, when I was much, much younger than I am now, my father would insist on Pecan Sandies as his cookie of choice (my mother preferred the Fig Newton). I loved both, and on occasion, when nostalgia struck, would get Fig Newtons and munch happily until that moment passed.

Earlier this week, while grocery shopping, I saw Pecan Sandies. They called to me. I bought them, brought them home and opened the package.

Who knew that they were shortbread with pecans? Clearly, not I! I love shortbread, and I like pecans. Why didn't I know this earlier? What vacuum have I been living in?

This is definitely going to be a staple in my pantry. Dad certainly knew what he was doing!

'Tis the season to be cranky

Bah humbug.

Seriously. I've sent out my Christmas and Seasons cards already, I've sent out handwritten notes to several long-time correspondents (and I've got more ready to mail tomorrow) and what do I get in response?

E-mail. And e-cards.

Are people really so lazy (lazier than I?!) or so addicted to this electronic format that they can't take a few moments to put pen/pencil/crayon to paper/old newspaper/a wrapping from Dunkin' Donuts and write/scrawl something?

I just did a notetaking lesson with our fifth grade. We talked about how it was ok to use "text" language (if u cn rd ths...) to take notes, to text, to IM but how it was not ok to use it when you wrote a paper, or in an e-mail to your teacher, or when you sent thank-you notes to your grandmother for that hideous navy and florescent green scarf and hat set she knitted for you (yes, I'm still scarred after all these years!). Better still, they all knew that they would be writing thank you notes in the very near future. Not thank you e-mails.

My fifth graders get it. Why can't the adults in my life?

5.12.07

You'll never know what shushed you

(Happy Day of the Ninja!)

These are the people in my neigborhood

Ken Jennings posted a link to RottenNeighbor.com . Rotten Neighbors? Oh, the stories I could tell!

Not about my current neighbors - they seem friendly, and (most important) when I'm home I don't get disturbed by them/their parties (windchimes are another matter entirely).

What a welcome relief. Years ago I lived next to Bobby, who fancied himself a drummer. If drumming is banging sticks against a drum set, he was. If drumming is doing that rhythmically or with some finesse, well... not so much.

Thing One and I lived above succeeding groups of law students. We dealt with everything from their Sunday football parties to their late-night pot smoking binges. Once, we actually called the police because they were outside, making a lot of noise, at 3am (a party that never wanted to end).

And then there was the questionable music choice from my previous landlord.

All-in-all, I'm happy and thankful to be living here.

26.11.07

Imponderables

From the subject line of a spam message: Overstep the bounds of the impossible - enlarge your phallus!

As LazyGAL, I'd say it's definitely impossible. Improbable and implausible, too.

23.11.07

Things You Didn't Know About Me

  1. I don't tolerate caffeine well. Usually, decaf is more than enough to keep me up, and I actually prefer tea. However, every now and then I have a cup of coffee. Unlike Thing One, who drinks his "regular", or Thing Two who drinks his black, I add lots of milk (or cream or half-and-half) and sugar (or sugar substitute) to my coffee, or decaf. Yesterday, at 11am, I had a cup - actually, probably more like 1 1/2 - 2 cups, given the size of the mug. Definitely in the range of a Starbucks "tall". Despite turkey and the attending tryptophan, and half a bottle of a decent Pinot Gris, I didn't sleep last night. It's all the coffee's fault.
  2. I hate windchimes. Yes, I know some (like Woodstock Chimes) are quite nice sounding, and if it's a calm day with a bit of a breeze they're not bad. But... last night (while I wasn't sleeping) it was quite windy. Gusty, even. And those (*%^*#$@ windchimes did not make my night any easier.

I think that's enough for now - gotta keep the sense of mystery going, right?

22.11.07

Making a list

It's that time of year - a time to overeat, overindulge, overspend. I've got a number of "spend quality time with friends" events planned, in addition to plans to find time to find the perfect gift for my nearest, dearest and a few assorted others.

To aid confused elves (as a friend of mine puts it), I've split my Things I Want lists into one for books (Lazygal's Book Lists) and one for "other stuff" (Lazygal's Wish List) - this is not a hint to readers but offered as a possible suggestion list for others in your lives.

Here's the problem: several times I've been given gifts by others that mean a lot to them, but I have absolutely no use for and honestly don't want. Thing One is threatening that this year (he hates my landline phones and wants to get me others that meet his standards, but I'm perfectly happy with what I have and see absolutely no need to waste money on this and would resent having to change my phones to suit him).

It's not as easy as getting (yet another) cat tshotshke, easily displayable for a while and then moved... it's an entirely other type of "oh god, Noooooooo" gift. So, dear readers, how would you handle this dilemma?

ETA: Thing One has sworn off the phone idea (although he does say I could use one in the basement/laundry room and a better answering machine). My question wasn't just about that gift, but those sorts of gift in general, from any one, not just him.

19.11.07

Notable Quotes

Consumption is political, and politics is a form of consumption.

Judith Levine, Not Buying It

16.11.07

Links Galore


14.11.07

Have you changed the world for the better?

Donna has. I'm so proud she's part of my family!

And if you're in the Newton MA area on December 8, The Irving K. Zola Center for Persons with Disabilities (www.zolacenter.org) will hold their Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 8, 2007 from noon-3PM. They will provide food and entertainment and hope you will be able to join in. You can say "congratulations" to Donna in person (and, possibly, hello to me).

A laptop is not a human!

If you own a Toyota, you know what Librarian Avengers and I are talking about.

9.11.07

Overheard at MPOW

"Do you have the original text? The rabbit ate your college essay" (teacher to student)

Links Galore

6.11.07

Voting bloc(k)

Today is election day - the last before The Big Election of 2008. Most of the races are for local positions (mayor, councilman, local legislature, judges), yet they're still contested as hotly as those for national office.

My problem is with people like my parents, who vote party line rather than because they agree with the person's position. While they don't live in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg poses a good example of this type of voter's dilemma: first, he was a Democrat (YAY!), who became a Republican (BOOOO!) to run for NYC Mayor. Now he's an Independent (HUH?). Does that mean his thinking about policy, his decisions about governing and his personal beliefs have changed? No. It means he's being politically expedient.

So, what's the party bloc voter to do?

There are Democrats out there that I agree with and support. There are Democrats out there that I wouldn't vote for if they were the last Democrat standing. There are Republicans out there that I agree with and support. Etc.

For each election, I choose to vote for the candidate that I think will best represent me and my interests. If they're Liberal, or Green or Martian, that's ok. And perhaps they won't win. But it's wrong to just vote party line - it's giving up your right to choose, and, in essence, giving up your franchise.

Don't worry about which line on the ballot the candidate you think best represents you: do your homework, learn about all of them and what they stand for. You may be surprised by who you really do support, who really does resonate with you. Letting the Party tell you who may lead to voting for the wrong person.

Then vote.

5.11.07

Puzzling it out

Another blogger posted a poll, asking "how many posts/week" would be good (for that blog). One of the comments said that more than two/week felt like spam, even with RSS.

That got me thinking. Yesterday, I posted three times in one hour. Not long, provocative posts but still: three. Last week, I posted twice, while the week before nine times (and I'm stopping the count there). Is this too much? The purpose behind this blog wasn't necessarily to inform, or entertain, or enlighten - it was to serve as an outlet for miscellaneous musings and rants and whatnot and alleviate e-mail "spam" sent to various friends and colleagues.

You see, not every piece of writing is important and not every thought needs to be shared. Here, in blog format, you the reader choose to visit and read (or not). If I were to send you an e-mail, you'd probably feel obligated to at least open it, if not respond to it. Here, you don't have to respond and if you choose not to read, that's fine.

One could suggest that I've got nothing of import to say/share/post most of the time, that I don't need to have a blog because, after all, who am I? And one might be right. It might be better for me to have a private diary, recording these things for my own personal re-reading. It might also be better for me - for many of us - not to blog as often, not to rant as publically, not to "bother" the masses with all the mental clutterdumps that seem to be the majority of posts on blogs.

Perhaps I'll save my posts for the Really Big Stuff. Perhaps not. The commenter's point about blogpostspam is something to consider.

Notable Quotes

I'm learning the art of being content. Doing very little. Slowly.
As Time Goes By, Season Six Episode Two

4.11.07

Welcome!



Recent visitors to Killin' Time Being Lazy - pretty neat, huh?

Imponderables

Ok, I was raised in the Jewish tradition and currently worship as a Quaker, so perhaps I'm missing some basic understanding of the Catholic faith and practice (although Thing One's family is Catholic and I've been to many, many Church events over the past 20 years). But really: how much do the priests drink during Mass? Anyone remember this joke? Guess in Ireland, it's almost reality.

Remind me again why they're still on?

Contrary to my usual ignoring of SNL, I decided to tape this week's show (the one with Brian Williams and Feist). Why? Because Brian Williams can be funny - I've seen him on "Daily Show" and he's got a sense of humor. Problem? SNL is not funny, and hasn't been for a very, very long time.

The opening skit was fun, giving rise to a chuckle or two. Beyond that? I fast-forwarded through to Feist, pausing occasionally to see the Guest Host in Good Skits. Sigh. No such thing existed. Now, that might be just my opinion (Thing Two is on a multi-year campaign to convince me that fart jokes are always funny and that South Park is the best thing on tv, so what do I know?). But I'm sticking with that, and I won't be watching (or speeding through) again.

I don't know anyone my age, who really remembers the first cast and the days when the show was funny, who watches any more. What puzzles me is why they don't just pull the plug.

3.11.07

Come Saturday Morning

I'm curling up in bed with The Boys, reading and snoozing my way back to health after a long couple of weeks.

Some blogging to follow, but for the most part it's snuggle time. Besides, Hurricane Noel is somewhere in the vacinity - you wouldn't want me to actually go out in that mess, would you?

2.11.07

Overheard at MPOW

Over the past few months, the following statements have been made by colleagues. Just thought I'd share some Friday Fun:
  • We are professionally obligated to like him
  • Soggy is the new crisp
  • Wouldn't Copraedic Grin be a great name for a blog?
Who says working in a school can't be fun?

27.10.07

Reading Blitz

Those of you that know me know that a few years ago my health started to take a downturn. It's much better now, but still a little shakey - and Reno hasn't helped. Although I thought I was doing ok, the wine and champagne and coffee I had on Thursday led to massive dehydration on Friday. So, instead of killing myself at the conference, I tucked myself into bed and started to read the ARCs I'd picked up on the convention floor.

Wow. I have to say, this was one great group of reads. Usually, it's a crapshoot, but for some reason, these four books really worked for me. Ok, one was weaker than the rest, but still!

What did I read?

Big Fat Manifesto, by Susan Vaught. A HS senior, 300+ lbs, has to deal with not just the Senior Deadlines, but acting in a play and creating a column "Fat Girl" for the school newspaper. Then her Big Beautiful Boyfriend decides to get bariatric surgery, and her world starts to change. I'm not 300+, but I could definitely relate to the whole Fat Girl dilemma.

Pandora Gets Jealous, by Carolyn Hennesy. We all know how much I enjoy the Percy Jackson series. This is definitely in that category, and I predict will be a huge hit with my students. Yours, too.

Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy, by Diane Stanley. A goodish mix of The Mysterious Benedict Society meets The Wright 3, with some Stepford Stuff thrown in. Middle Schoolers will love it.

Life on the Refrigerator Door, by Alice Kuipers. This was the weakest of the four, probably because it seems contrived. The entire book is a series of notes left on the refrigerator door, notes between Claire and her mother. There's a lot going on "off stage" and some of it is pretty heavy, while some (the boyfriend issues) is just alluded to but never really resolved. I'm never sure how I feel about device-driven books (like TTYL), so I'm on the fence about this. I also wasn't happy with the cover design, which looked too much like Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but then, I wasn't happy when five of the MS-level books we got in over the summer clearly had the same girl model on them. I know certain designs and motifs are popular, but it doesn't help a book stand out in the punters minds!

So, there you have it. Current reading in a nutshell. And now, back to the conference!

24.10.07

Glad to be Nobody

As I sat in my seat on the airplane taking me to LAX (getting to Reno from NYC is more difficult than you'd think!), I started to read some of the magazines I'd brought with me. My back issues pile was getting out of hand and what better way to get through it than to lug it with me and discard as I finished? It's not like I didn't have things to do, what with the fire and an upcoming "presentation" at the conference, but hey - forced relaxation!

My seatmate, on the other hand, was busy with his cell and his Crackberry. Clearly, I'd been placed next to Someone. Several times before we pushed away from the gate he made calls, placed e-mails - all work related. All Very Important. After all, he was Somebody. Then they gave us that "turn off all electronic devices" announcement. He turned off his cell. Not the Crackberry. Now, it's not like he didn't know it was still transmitting, because every time an attendant walked by, he'd palm it. But because he was Somebody, the rules didn't apply. After all, Somebody's always need to be working on a device with keys made for newborns and screens the size of credit cards, not listening to silly FAA regulations.

I felt like a dinosaur, sitting there with my Old Technology of print on paper, 8 x 11 (or larger). How very mid-last century of me. Obviously, I'm Nobody.

Finally, I asked him to turn the thing off. He was angry. His self-justifying response was that it wasn't transmitting (sorry, I know how the damn things work and it really was transmitting). That he needed to be working the entire flight and if I didn't like it I could call an attendant (which I'm now sorry I didn't do, just to confiscate the thing). I responded that I didn't mind his working, but rules are rules and just turn it off.

Funny thing is, I did mind his working. Not because it was noisy or I was feeling guilty about not working myself, but because we're now in a society where Everyone is Someone Very Important. He couldn't take a transcontinental flight to relax - read a book, sleep, listen to music, play solitaire. He was So Important, such a Somebody, that he had to work. In my Nobodiness, I was going to finish some magazines (got through them all!), do a Sunday Times crossword or two, possibly nap.

From up in the sky, what can you really do about things on the ground? Nothing. No one is that Important, that much of a Somebody that they can't take time off. But we, as a culture, have decided that's really not the case, that we need to be (somehow) involved. Even from 30,000 feet.

This man worked for an investment bank, which made him a Somebody. He dealt with financial futures. Very Somebody-type work. Me? I work with people futures, helping teach the next generation. And I'm glad that makes me a Nobody.

23.10.07

Is it me?

School librarians are supposed to be all about collaboration - inside and outside the library, inside and outside the school. For me, though, that hasn't quite been working out and I'm starting to think it's me. You decide...

A few years ago, before the AASL conference in Indianapolis, I was planning a joint presentation on Independent School Library Evaluation. Another librarian (in another state) and I were working on leading a discussion, possibly set up a task force on this so that our regional, state and national Independent School Organizations (like NAIS and NYSAIS) had more valid criteria on which to evaluate us. My "partner" disappeared, not returning e-mails or phone calls. The day before I left for Indy, she resurfaced saying she'd been ill and that she'd FedEx the things she had to my at the hotel. I ended up at Kinko's, redoing all the handouts. And, of course, I presented alone.

About that time, my sister and I were planning a baby shower for our cousin. Suddenly, my sister was unavailable via phone or e-mail. She did come to the party, but I'd had to arrange everything (including the RSVPs, the food, the decorations) by myself.

Two years ago, my sister and I decided to eBay an incredibly ugly set of china our grandmother had given us. She had the entire set, it was going to be "no bother", as a friend of hers was Ms. eBay and would handle it all. 18 months later... nothing. I called. I e-mailed. Nothing. Turns out she'd left the US for Canada (my sister, not her friend).

And now, here I am in Reno. One of my charges for this trip was to help plan the Independent School Section reception - I was one of the Main Greeter Elves. My co-Greeter Elf and I did some planning, some e-mailing. And then... nothing. Just heard that she's sick and won't be here. No word on if anything she got for the event will be sent here by tonight.

So, is it me? Should I just go solo from now on? Or should I give this collaboration thing another try?

22.10.07

Notable Quotes

Sometimes I try my own thought experiment, which goes as follows: what if everyone is actually right? Aristotle and Plato; David and Goliath; Hobbes and Locke; Hitler and Gandhi; Tom and Jerry. Could that ever make sense? And then I think about my mother and I think that no, not everyone is right. To paraphrase the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, she wasn't even wrong. Maybe that's where human society is right now, at the beginning of the twenty-first-century: not even wrong.

The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas

20.10.07

Oh, to have a free weekend

If it weren't this weekend, I could join in the 24-hour-readathon. As it is, I'll read vicariously through So Many Books and the Bookgirl's Nightstand. Maybe next time...

19.10.07

Links Galore

18.10.07

Post-Harry Potter

Ok, I confess I'm not the biggest HP fan. And I'm not a huge fan of fantasy (or "speculative fiction", which is apparently the new, in term). But even I knew better than the three speakers I heard Tuesday.

One claimed that the genre had only exploded with the publication of HP4. That prior to this, the only way fantasy books got published was to have orcs or troll-like creatures on the cover. That everything published was a bad copy of a bad copy of Tolkein, who created the genre. That almost no one was buying/reading Dianne Wynne Jones. That HP put paid to school stories, and that the stuff that's being published now is really good and experimental. That alternative history was coming into its own. That most of the stuff was being written by D&D players/lovers and is now being written by real authors.

WHAT UTTER ROT.

I don't even know where to begin with this... H.G. Wells? Poe? Jules Verne? The Darkover series, sans trolls or orcs? Ditto Discworld (well, trolls, but no orcs)? Guy Gavriel Kay?

No school stories? Charlie Bone, anyone? It's not all good - and it's not all new. Paolini's Inheritance series is so clearly a rehash of both Tolkein and Donaldson. And what about the role of Fatherland in the development of alternative histories?

All this, off the top of my remarkably uninformed, usually uninterested head.

I left feeling depressed about the future of fantasy, post-Harry Potter.

Upcoming

My schedule just gets busier and busier - Monday and Tuesday were back-to-back meetings. Yesterday and today I had a "coffee" with parents regarding the Rebuilding of the Library, and tonight I continue to unpack the 88 boxes of Insta-Lower-School-Library (photos to come). I've also been working 6-day weeks, with Upper School Parent's Day, Admissions Open House and this weekend's PSATs/Alumni Weekend. Whew!

So, what's in my future?
  • PSATs/Alumni Weekend (with another Rebuilding the Library coffee) - Oct 20
  • AASL in Reno (which, of course, I'll be blogging) - Oct 25-27
  • another Rebuilding the Library session, in the evening - Oct 29
  • yet another Rebuilding the Library session, in NYC in the evening - Nov. 5
  • a election party for Paul Valentine - Nov. 6
  • my mother's 70th birthday (including a trip to SmallCity USA) - Nov. 10
  • the annual NYSAIS conference at Mohonk - Nov. 14-16
  • Cyrano on Broadway - Nov. 16
Not to mention the backlog of posts on my recent meeting with other, local librarians on The Future of Fantasy - Post Harry Potter and the whole School Library 2.0 issue and the Rebuilding Process. Fingers will be flying anon!

16.10.07

Pretty accurate, for pop psych.




ColorQuiz.comI took the free ColorQuiz.com personality test!

"Longs for sensitive and sympathetic understanding ..."


Click here to read the rest of the results.




(þ: Psychology of Clutter)

So... the question is, what do I do with all this? Food for thought as I escape into my fantasy world.

15.10.07

Notable Quotes

I can't remember a time when I didn't know I was adopted. There was never a dramatic "we have something to tell you" talk. My adoption was simply another fact, like having dark hair or no siblings. I knew I was adopted even before I knew what that truly meant. Understanding adoption requires a basic understanding of sex, something I would not have until third grade when Gina Papadakis brought her grandparents' disturbingly dog-eared copy of The Joy of Sex to school.

14.10.07

Well, Duh

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

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


(þ: Little Professor)

Imponderables

As many of you know, at MPOW we've gone from a K-12 library to a K-4 library and a 5-12 library. So there's all sorts of supplies and stuff that need to be duplicated. And then there was the fire, so all that stuff needed to be reordered.

One of the Really Helpful things in a library is a bookcart. We ordered three for the K-4 space, and they arrived in July. We reordered them in August. They arrived... our Purchasing Manager checked them in... and then two disappeared.

These are bookcarts. Not exciting stuff - like the 42" flat panel tv that someone ordered, or the many, many computers ordered to replace those that burned. Bookcarts.

Pimp My Bookcart notwithstanding, is there really a black market in the things? I mean, they're bookcarts.

10.10.07

Forgetting

A while ago I read a book whose premise excited me: a boy, hockey player, gets a concussion and has to quit the team. Being a hockey player was his life, so there was a lot in the book about coming to grips with the change in "who am I" as well as the medical stuff. The problem was, the book wasn't quite right for school. There was "language", but more important, the use of the word Wop. As in, "The wop called me down to dinner." Who was this? The hero's father. Sorry, just couldn't put it on my shelves. (Besides, who uses this language nowadays? No one - particularly no child - I've ever met.)

The idea of a lead with amnesia intrigued me, though. I mean, I work at a school with a pretty heavy emphasis on sports - one of my summer workers can't play basketball because of repeated concussions. So it's an issue to be dealt with.

Then along came Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. None of my worries about the previous book here. It's relatively well written, with teenage characters that ring pretty true to my ear. So it's going on my Big Book Order, and I can honestly recommend it to my 7-12 students. There was only one problem, and it's something I've noticed in several books I've read recently: the editing isn't what it should be. North Tarrytown became Sleepy Hollow in 1996. This book was written (and set in) 2006. Oops.

9.10.07

Sniffle... sneeze... ack!

I have a full-blown head cold right now. It's the worst head cold in the history of head colds. I'm near death.

(ok, so the above was a bit of an exaggeration - I do really have a head cold, though)

The good news was that MPOW lost its internet connection early Sunday and was without it until about an hour ago. What a wonderful excuse to stay home, in bed, with trashy tv, and work on our Big Book Order (looking for 7000+ volumes to create our InstaLibrary when we move from the crowded classroom to the "renovated" Chapel).

So basically, I'm near death but I'm being damned productive!

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Children's/Young Adult
  • After The Leaves Fall, Nicole Baart A coming-of-age story that in some ways reminded me of Up a Road Slowlyand Plainsong.
  • Flight: A Novel, Sherman Alexie If you haven't discovered Alexie as an author, what are you waiting for?
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling The series ends. None too soon
  • In the Serpent's Coils, Tiffany Trent Eh. Again, nothing so new that I'm going to follow this series
  • Nightmare Academy, Dean Lorey Not a series I'd want to continue - seems to familiar, with little new to recommend it.
  • Oh No, Noah!, Johanna Hurwitz Noah's moved into a new neighborhood: can he make friends? will he survive in a new place (particularly since he's a real klutz and prone to trouble)?
  • Parade of Shadows, Gloria Whelan Interesting historical fiction set in the Levant. Only problem is that there's not enough depth for students that have an interest in the history behind the story
  • The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous, Suzanne Crowley Merilee has Asperger's symptoms and lives a Very Ordered Existence; somehow she learns to let go just a little and live.
  • Where's My Cow?, Terry Pratchett Discworld for the teething set
  • Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr Another formulaic trip down Faerie Lane

Fiction/Literature
  • Not the End of the World, Kate Atkinson An oddly interwoven series of short stories - what's real? what's not? how do the stories relate?
  • The Maytrees: A Novel, Annie Dillard I didn't think it was as great as the reviews did, but it's a nice, quiet read that won't disappoint
  • Winnie and Wolf, A.N. Wilson Historical fiction about the relationship between Winifred Wagner and Adolph Hitler -- not quite a Wagner apology, but close
  • Whit, Iain Banks Banks is one of those great "undiscovered" writers and this book, about life in a religious cult, just screams out for more readers

Sci-fi/Fantasy
  • The Alton Gift, Marion Zimmer Bradley Another Darkover novel, finished after MZB's death, and not a bad one.
  • Childe Morgan, Katherine Kurtz If you like the Deryni series, go for it. But if you're not familiar with the series, this isn't a good place to start.
  • Dragons Of The Highlord Skies: The Lost Chronicles, Margaret Weis Ugh. Ok, so I came in during the series, but the backstory/exposition was just too confusing.

Mystery
  • The Book of Air and Shadows, Michael Gruber Yet another "who was WS" mystery/thriller set in the modern era and in Shakespearan times.
  • The Darkness and the Deep, Aline Templeton The mystery part wasn't easily solved, and the characters were well drawn and interesting. A new series to explore!
  • Saturday's Child, Ray Banks Not anything resembling a cozy, more like Lovejoy meets Rebus
  • Sweet Revenge, Diane Mott Davison My first Goldy Shultz. I like the characters enough to consider reading more, but I'll let them come to me.

Non-Fiction


Total removed from Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 26
New books added to Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 32
Net gain: 6
(not off to a good start on my "read don't add" project!)

8.10.07

Too old for my former neighborhood

I spent Saturday in Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill with Thing One. When we'd moved in (in 1993), we were some of the youngest people there - the neighborhood wasn't quite "hip" yet, and there were a lot of little old Italian ladies and men around. There were many more Social Clubs than Starbucks, the bank tellers and grocery clerks spoke Italian and the whole place felt like a real neighborhood.

Since then, there's been a lot of change. Smith Street is now "in", with restaurants replacing little shops. There are four Starbucks and many older bakeries (including Cammereri, of Moonlighting Moonstruck fame) have closed. And, of course, changes to our favorite cafe. The vibe is younger, yuppier, hipper and more superficial and fleeting.

We went to the Cobble Hill Cinema, once voted as having the Best Popcorn in NYC by New York Magazine, and saw an ad for Smith & Vine. I've been looking to get a case or so of sherry, so I suggested we go. What a mistake. Easily 10-20 years older than anyone in the store, and clearly not Young & Beautiful, we were ignored. Pity, because I was planning a major purchase, and (had I liked them) come back.

I don't mind feeling old in comparison to my students, or knowing that in a few short years, AARP will be after me for my very own membership (I already have one thanks to Thing One). I do mind that I'm nearly invisible and unwanted in a place I called home for 12 years, particularly when I only left two years ago.

Whew!

As I was driving along Friday, listening to a radio station (WFAS, for those that care) I heard a story that made me think "Oh.My.God. - we're so doomed". What was this story? That there was a group, the Happy Endings Foundation, that wanted to ban/burn books with unhappy endings. You know: the majority of books kids have to read in school by authors as diverse as Shakespeare, Lowrey, Frank and Bronte.

I didn't spend too much time on this, sure it was some nutter Out There and that the idea would have few implications for my job and my life.

How right I was: according to Kelly (who got it from others), it was a hoax by the marketing firm charged with promoting A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Can't believe everything you hear on the radio, can you?

7.10.07

Plans for my day off

After an incredibly difficult week, I was thrilled to come home this morning to find Making Money and The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld on my doorstep. Perfect escape reading!

5.10.07

Links Galore

30.9.07

What's in a genre?

Still open for discussion: I like fact-tion... but "creative nonfiction" and "autofiction" work ("autobiographical novels" just sounds pretentious).

23.9.07

Oh where, oh where can she be?

Thing Two's cat, Bernie, has gone missing (several weeks now!). If you're in the Woodstock/Saugerties area, keep your eyes open.

Guilty confession

Because my assistant and I are now on different floors, we've started to IM each other rather than use e-mail or the phone. I forgot that my IM starts when I log on, so yesterday when I was at work**, I was surprised to see a window open. It was a former student of mine, one I'd not heard from in a couple of years, and we chatted for a while and got caught up. One of the comments was about the show Gossip Girl - had I watched it (another former student has a starring role)? I said no, and was told to watch the pilot on the web. Last night, feeling rather headachey and tired, I did.

So here's the confession: GG is bad, in that 90210/OC way, and yet I think I'll be watching. And here I was, thinking that my tv schedule was going to to be far less than previous years because of all the cancellations! The thing is, I think all of us need something that's clearly "bad" for us, be it the occasional chocolate binge, buying impractical and expensive shoes, dining out for no reason, etc.. Lucky for me this won't hurt either my wallet or my waistline, just a few brain cells I probably don't really need anyway.



** multi-thousand dollar invoices wait for no weekend

19.9.07

Where's the uproar?

A few months ago, LM_NET was all a-flutter over the separation of children's books from the main NYTimes bestseller list. I argued that it was (to quote Martha Stewart) a good thing.

So where's the furor over the new mass-market and trade paperback lists?

Lists are essentially meaningless to anyone except booksellers and authors. Unless you're looking for ideas for "what to read next" (or to give as part of BAFAB niceness), why does it matter how many lists there are?

17.9.07

Notable Quotes

"The page of the book is blank. Why is that?"

"To remind us that our lives are made up of blank sheets waiting to be filled," Lillith replied. "The book of life is open whenever we are born and it closes with our death. We write in it continually, but no matter how much we write, what joy or sorrow we experience or what mistakes we have made, we will always turn the page, and tomorrow's page is always blank."

"Some people might find that prospect daunting," said Brian somberly, looking down at the page, so starkly white and empty.

"I find it filled with hope."
Dragons of the Highlord Skies,
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

16.9.07

Backwards Glances

It's been a busy, bad week, so I'm a little behind on this post (I'd started it, but got interrupted). Anyway, distance can lend some perspective, right?

This past week saw the first September 11 that fell on a Tuesday since thatTuesday, September 11. Once again, families of the people that died that day gathered around Ground Zero/The Pit/the World Trade Center site to grieve, publicly. Once again, schools observed a moment of silence to honor/mourn those that (literally) fell.

I'm not against grieving, but there's a part of me that feels that this is too ostentatious. We can only observe in this way, at this time. Done with Mirrors pointed out this brave post, questioning some of the same things that I've been questioning (as always, in much better language and more thoughtfully than I could articulate).

One point (of many) that struck at chord
But I worry about what we're doing with this day. It's being called Patriot's Day by some, celebrated with national songs, speeches, and red, white, and blue bunting.
I'm from Massachusetts. We already have a Patriot's Day, and it has nothing to do with the football team. The unfortunate victims of September 11 were not patriots. They did nothing except die in a horrific fashion, some by accident of being at their desks as per usual, some by rushing in bravely to try to help those trapped. That's not patriotism.

I also wonder about the health aspect. For several days after the 11th, at MOPOW, many students were shocked and in grief. However, the next week - merely six/seven days later - they were starting to wonder about when it would be ok for them to worry about their lives. When it would ok to think about getting into college, or passing an exam, or getting a job, or their love lives. Was a week too soon? Two weeks? Several months? Every year now, we'll force the younger generation to stop and ponder a tragedy. Is this healthy?

And what about people like Thing One? He was getting out of the subway, right under the WTC, when Plane One hit. He was on the street and could feel the heat and the impact when Plane Two hit. He saw bodies falling from windows. He was locked into his office when they thought the Stock Exchange had been hit. He breathed all that dust and all those fumes, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to our apartment. His office overlooked The Pit. It still does. Does he need to remember this day? Do we need to make him, his colleagues relive those horrible hours?

Short answer: no.

15.9.07

Thus ends a bad week...

Last weekend started a Run of Bad Luck, one I very much hope ends today.
  • Thing One and I went to the Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival, moved from a field in Red Hook to the Dutchess County Fair Grounds. It was better in terms of access to the Festival, but once inside the crowds, lack of coordination, fewer quality wineries, incredible delays at Pick Up made our good mood disappear. Yes, I bought wine (and we got an incredible Pinot Gris that impressed Thing One, despite his "I Don't Drink White" attitude) but the atmosphere didn't lend itself to wanting to return next year.
  • Sunday was Brunch in Brooklyn, at the newly reopened Cafe on Clinton. For years (since '93), it was our "local", a place we could go for a great dinner or brunch; we even shared it with friends and family when they visited. No longer. The new owners have changed the menu (sometimes, if it ain't broke...) and the pricing and the quality of the service. Again, not impressed. Time was when you'd walk in and the second you were seated you were offered tea or coffee (or a drink, if it was dinner). Now, with not so many people in the place, we had to wait. The bread offered was mere crusts, rather than the sliced quarter-loaf we were used to. The waiter didn't offer any mimosa/bloody mary options, and we had to ask what was included with the Brunch Menu (answer: nothing except entree and tea/coffee, rather than the salad, entree, drink and tea/coffee from before). And making bacon a "side"? Hmpffff.
  • Work, and the rebuilding of the collections, has begun to heat up and I'm feeling like I need two of me (not clones, because they'd take too long to mature, but a nice Xerox wouldn't be bad). One of my team is essentially a dead weight, and dealing with that can take as much time as trying to move forward while providing a quality library program. More on this later, in my continuing series "Up from the Ashes."
  • Thursday was Rosh Hashanah and I took the opportunity to go get my semi-annual haircut. Ok, it's more of a trim than a cut. Problem is, the place I'd been going to for 10 years closed (something about the landlord wanting to increase the rent $3000/month! and there aren't so many people like me with long hair to support such a place). I'd e-mailed my stylist (for want of a better term) and she'd told me where she was, then told me she'd decided against going there... but a month later I was in need of a trim and she'd never told me where she ended up. So I went to another long hair salon, with an appointment with the other person from my original salon. 10am appointment? Take MetroNorth, hang out at B&N until 9:45, easy... Except she wasn't there. The attitude in the salon was not welcoming, it was almost grudging - "oh, well, if Agnes isn't here I suppose we'll start you with your treatment...". ICK! 2 hours later (while my hair was drying after a wash, masque and another wash) Agnes shows up. We chatted, but the lies she was telling about what had happened to my original cutter bothered me (sorry, but we were not close enough for me to have been invited to a wedding, and I'd have known about any May wedding from my April visit). I grossly undertipped and left for home, with a good trim but a bad mood.
  • The current weather changes have created a serious sinus headache, and the rest of the week (including news of the Patriots and Maclaren spy scandals) have left me in no mood to do any of my "homework" (checking invoices against packing slips and orders, creating new purchase orders, laundry, food shopping and cleaning).
So here I lie, in bed, with The Boys (Lulu left for Brooklyn on Saturday and is cozily enjoying the single cat life once more). Feeling sorry for myself? You bet. And hoping that when I wake tomorrow I'll be filled with vim and vigor and ready to tackle Mt. Workpile.

Once more... with gifting

BAFAB is the first week in October.

buyafriendabook.com



Remember, this is a reminder, not a "buy Lazygal books" post! However, if you need suggestions, check out the Gifting and Good Reads links. You won't be sorry.

10.9.07

Putting it all in perspective

Two of my staff are having a difficult time with the whole "life after the fire" thing. I can understand part of it, but there's a part of me that says that it's not a tragedy (certainly not in the classical sense, and not even in the modern one).

Then, over at Post of the Week, I read about Suburban Hen's post. I'm feeling one of those gaps right now. Part of me dearly hopes that the other person's feeling the gap, too.

Fire I can deal with. Loss of a person? Not so much.

Book Buying

Thing Two's sister is writing a book and is now in the "thinking about marketing" phase. By "thinking about", I mean deciding about website presentation and blog linkage and MySpace and Facebook and all that.

One thought was that people like me could talk about and link to the book's site. Here's my query: among all my many readers, how many of you would actually do that? And then stick around that site to comment and link to it from your blogs? My guess is that the younger readers out there might, but that we old fogies won't. I'd also not go to the social networking sites to find out about books, but then that's because I don't go to those sites for anything.

And then there's blurbs. I hate 'em, and my students think they're bad because they're not an abstract (they want to know what the book is about, not read other people's quick take).

Any thoughts?

9.9.07

Travel Update (belated)

I realized that I posted about What I Saw on My Vacation, but not What I Did. Naughty me!

Edinburgh is one of those very walkable cities, and lucky for visitors they've kept so much of the old look/feel. One of the things I like doing when I visit a new place (or revisit a place after a long time) is to take one of those guided bus tours. Now, I admit that I hate them in NYC, so I'm sure that the natives in whichever city I'm in feel the same. Still, they're so wonderful for getting a sense of what the city looks like and how it's laid out. Despite it being Edinburgh, I managed to get a sunburn!

The second day we were there we went to Inchcolm. There is an old riddle asking How Many Inches Is the Forth, and now I know because I've been to one. The grey (and ultimately rainy) day was a perfect setting for this trip -- the romance of the Abbey, the squawking of the gulls all seemed slightly otherworldly. We'd have explored more had the birds been more welcoming, and we were disappointed that we didn't see any seals, dolphins or puffins. On our way back to Edinburgh, we had a pub lunch at the Hawes Inn and then wandered through South Queensferry. Turns out, we'd chosen the day of the Burry Man festival - lucky us!

Day Three found us wandering the Royal Mile, walking to Holyrood Palace and then up the Mound to Edinburgh Castle. First of all, this was all done in a non-stop rain, so there was some discomfort all around. Second, Thing One doesn't like to listen to docents or read guidebooks, which I find a bit problematic (not as problematic as Thing Two's insistence on reading/looking at Absolutely Everything). There's been a push towards iPod/Playaway-like guides, replacing the docents would would talk to you and answer questions. At Holyrood, I remembered a painting of David Rizzio (I think - it's been 25 years!) that was painted in such a way as to have the eyes follow you around the room. There was no mention of anything like that in this guide, and the "helpful aides" scattered around looked about as helpful and interested as a wet turnip. So... no picture. Still, the rooms were interesting to see again and there was enough information that I felt slightly more knowledgeable than when I walked in. We didn't get a walking guide to the Castle, instead wandering around the various places (avoiding the military museum). Again, it's an impressive place. Thing One was floored that it hadn't been renovated or updated, that Edinburgh had kept this as it was. Our American habit of tearing down gets to him at times.

Days Three and Four were mostly quiet days, with shopping and the Book Festival taking up time. On our "to do" list for any future visits is a walk up Arthur's Seat, a trip to Craigmillar and possibly to Rosslyn Chapel. And that concludes the travel segment of this blog... to be continued sometime, perhaps next summer!

7.9.07

Links Galore

6.9.07

Imponderables

Two, both food related:

How is it possible, in New York State, in September, to get mushy apples?

Why would my bag of stale potato chips (made in Germany) have included the warning that the chips were made in a factory that processed, among other things, celery. Celery? Really????

5.9.07

26 (and holding)

I took this clutter quiz and scored a 26
If you scored 25-39 - your clutter could build to an unmanageable level if left unchecked. It might already be blocking your creativity in some ways. Now that you're aware of it, you can work at increasing your awareness and applying some strategies to start clearing it out.
Sounds about right... (þ: Clutter Control Freak)

4.9.07

Annotated Webclutter

More from the backfiles...
  • What is it with athletes? We hold them up as "heroes" but really, what's heroic about what they do? They're gifted, in some way, but for the most part they haven't actually done anything for the rest of us. Some run camps to train young athletes, or they visit a bedside of a sick child - is that really heroic? Yet we worship them. The Caldeonian Record says all this, and more, in better words than I could come up with. And then there's Michael Vick; between the Daily Show and the Wall Street Journal, what more can be said?

  • Lifehacker had a post about sig files. I try to keep mine short, while Thing One's company adds the "private information" disclaimer. For many of my e-groups, a sig file is needed because of the "reply to all" option (there are some responses that belong off list, believe me!). What does yours say? Is it too much, or too little, or annoying or ???

  • Just the other day, one of my colleagues said she'd never gotten into the reading blogs thing. It was said apologetically, and slightly accusing (as in, you're making me feel bad because you're up on this) and slightly suspiciously (as in, how do you have time to read blogs?). This isn't the first time I've gotten that response. Nancy, quoting Will, talks about Blogging Butterflies. I agree.

  • How does my life intersect with my reading? To be honest, I hadn't thought about it much but every so often there's one of those serendipitous moments (for example, and though this isn't quite the same, when I read The Curious Incident and then Speed of Dark, right after each other but without intention). I've resolved to pay more attention to them - stay tuned. Does it require a thorough knowledge of a specific genre? I don't think so, but it does require a knowledge (or perhaps awareness) of the genre, and the ability to link from it to your life, your experiences, other books. It's a game any reader can play.

  • Several years ago, I heard Philip Pullman give the Arbuthnot Lecture. Here, he expands on several of the themes he touched on there. Then he goes on record excoriating children's television - and I have to say "amen". While I think he misreads the Chronicles of Narnia, I can't fault him on either of these issues.

  • And while we're on this literary kick, let's talk about reading lists. I've kept them, starting with a list at the back of a book my mother gave me when I was a mere teen. As Stefani says, though, when people recommend books to a reader, it can get messy.

  • As school starts, and as I rebuild the library, one thing I have to keep in mind is what reality is for our students. I'm talking about things like multitasking, which I (and others) am not convinced is actually a good thing.