25.6.07

Getting to know me (a meme)

Saw this on Cam's blog and decided to give myself a little break from ALA and Important Stuff...

1. My username is _____ because ____.
2. My journal is titled ____ because ____.
3. My subtitle is ____ because ____.
4. My friends page is called ____ because ____.
5. My default userpic is ____ because ____.

Answer:
1. Lazygal. Why? Because, believe it or not, I'm actually a very lazy person. Being busy goes against every fiber in my nature. I'd much rather be curled up in bed, with The Boys, reading than doing anything else.

2. Killin' Time Being Lazy - has anyone seen Holiday Inn? 'Nuff said.

3. "A miscellany of thoughts, newsclips and ephemera." That's what it is. I don't pretend to blog about Great Ideas or solve important problems. It's me, working things through or ranting or just sharing that which I find interesting.

4. Friends. And I just saw (you'd think someone would have told me by now) that I've replicated all those links in "Daily Reads"! OOPS! Guess I'll have to edit this all now. Which is ok, because it's time for a little (very belated) spring cleaning.

5. Don't have a user pic. Although recently I've been told by friends (here at ALA) that I look just like my picture in the recent KQ issue.

Public admission

Walt Crawford wrote about being wrong - and publicly acknowledging it. This has been resonating with me as I sit in Meeting, as I interact with my friends/colleagues, and as I go about my professional life.

Some time ago, I wrote off Will Richardson as being a one-note pony, always blah blah blahing about blogs (and blogvangelism). When I hear bleating, I turn off. So I stopped reading his blog and moved on. This year, at the Mohonk conference, he was a presenter. It truly wasn't his fault that the presentation stunk (although I had a blast getting to know - and heckle with - Nancy White and Dave Cormier). We (Nancy, Dave, Will and I) sat at the same dinner table and I told him then that I'd begun to change my mind. I started peeking at his blog again, and I can say that he really has changed. It's more thoughtful, less pushy. More meat, if you will.

Some visionary blogs I read don't take the time to reflect how their vision might be misinterpreted, or dismissed, by us plebes. He did. Don't mistake me, he's still thinking about how this read/write/review/revisit/respond thing we call blogging can be used best, but he's better at it now.

So, publicly, I was wrong.

(someone pick Thing One's jaw up off the floor)

16.6.07

I come not to praise Caesar

Usually I blog because I want to, not because there's some hidden "Hey YOU" message. I don't really anticipate other's reactions, or even dare to hope that a particular post will strike a nerve or resonate. It's more for me to work out those mental kinks.

Not this post. This post is for anyone in my family reading this blog. And if anyone else gets something from it, all the better.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a cousin. This isn't the first member of my family to die, nor is it the first family funeral at which I've felt uncomfortable during the eulogizing. So, for the benefit of all, here are Lazygal's Tips to Proper Eulogy Etiquette:
  1. Do not use your time to bring up unresolved issues . If you were estranged from, had an argument/disagreement with, or generally didn't like the departed: shut up about it. Ditto if they owed you money/garden tools/a cup of sugar. That old adage "if you can't say something nice" applies.
  2. Do not use "coded language" in your eulogy. If you really mean (and everyone will know that you mean) Dearly Beloved was a nosy busybody who couldn't shut up or butt out, do not say that Dearly Beloved "was always there to help out". Do not say that Dearly Beloved was a fount of knowledge when you really mean that they were a Know-it-all.
  3. Do not - ever - bring up sex. No one needs to hear about it at this time. And certainly not in public.
  4. Do not announce that you are uncomfortable being there (see rule #1) This also applies to kohanin "defiling their bodies" by attending a funeral, prodigal sons returning, etc.
  5. Do not give people a "brief" glimpse at Dearly Departed's life that takes them on a journey that mentions year-by-year landmarks. Particularly not in freezing or overly hot weather. A few highlights are all that are needed. Really.
  6. Do give people a sense of what made Dearly Departed special. The phrase YMMV applies here: we all have different relationships with people, so cluing the rest of us in on why you loved/cared for/were besotted with DD is wonderful. But pay attention to Rules 3 and 5.
If you're not eulogizing, but are just one of the mourning crowd, these rules still apply. In fact, even more so. There's a reason you weren't asked to speak.

And mourners - Do not be physically inappropriate with any other mourner. This includes sticking your tongue down someone's throat, caressing, or anything else more appropriate to trying to pick a chick up at a frat party.

Don't try so hard

I've spent a lot of time in the past week with my extended family. There's one cousin who is clearly Ausperger's; one "quirk" is the over-reliance on puns and wordplay, which makes casual conversation difficult. Here's an example: Sunday night I ordered prime rib - I was asked why I wasn't ordering secondary or tertiary rib. My father asked why I was ordering steak (I usually don't) and when I responded that I felt a need for iron, my cousin said that he had a ton of iron - literally - in his workshop. My father finds all this charming. I don't.

Also this week I was e-mailing a librarian friend about the upcoming ALA and AASL conferences and she asked if I'd read anything by Jasper Fforde (she was reading some and loving it). I said that I had read two Tuesday Nexts and two Nursery Crimes and
To be honest, I'm not fond of the Ffordes. He tries too hard with the puns and the literary references, which is great in Book One, but a little tiring in Book Two and by Book Three you're just ready to kill him (*I* think). The Nursery Crimes were better than the Tuesday Next's, but I'm not rushing to read anything new by him.
Fforde reminds me of my cousin: striving hard to be likable and funny, but missing because it's obvious striving and not a natural ("organic") thing.

Thursday I met with the Head of our English Department and with one of our 6th Grade English teachers. We talked about reluctant readers and how to motivate them (using alternative teaching ideas, expanding the range of books we booktalk, etc.). The problem is, this isn't just a problem in 6th Grade, it's a problem in Upper School. One thing I keep hearing from students is "reading is too much work" (as if!).

Why is it work? Because - and this is my theory - in English class you're taught to Read Deeply, to Read for Meaning. What journey is the hero on? Which archetypes does the heroine espouse? What allusions are being made in this passage? et-boring-cetera. Books aren't taught to be read for fun - there's Purpose to it all. No wonder Chick Lit (and Lad Lit and manga) are taking off: people want to read for fun, not constantly on the lookout for Important Stuff. Even a work of genre fiction, like Fforde's mysteries, can be work if you're always on the alert for a new pun, a new allusion (somehow, Terry Pratchett does this much better and seamlessly).

I have to admit, if a work makes me think too hard (and I mean, if that's the author's intent, not something I derive from the reading), I don't enjoy it. I'm not looking for antiheros and symbolism, I'm looking for a book that tastes good*** - and you readers out there know whatof I speak. I don't read Robertson Davies looking for Insights and Truth, I read him because the words sound good, because it's a world I can dive deeply in to and come out refreshed and renewed.

I mentioned this to the Head of English and now we're going to work on some ways in which we can have students read, but not try so hard.

Amen.

(***caveat: this does not represent 100% of my reading!)

10.6.07

Imponderables

I'm heading to Boston today for a family gathering. Last time, I got directions and got a little lost trying to find the hotel. So I thought I'd try both MapQuest and GoogleMaps to see if I could get clearer directions (the ones on the hotel site are actually the best, so we'll try those).

ANYway, I'm a little perplexed. I know YMMV and all but... how does that work, exactly? What I mean is, if -- according to both GM and MQ -- I get on to the highway at the exact same point, and get off at the exact same point, does my mileage vary? According to Google, it's 52.5 miles from I90 to exit 18 and according to MapQuest it's only 49.22 miles.

I'm going with MapQuest.

Can't wait to share

Back in January I read a book that I thought was a fun read. One I wanted to share with my friends and family, not to mention students. Problem was, this was an ARC, so I had to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

By our Book Fair, this book hadn't been published, and wouldn't be for another month. All I could do is tell the students and parents that this was a definite summer purchase/read.

What book? Austenland, by Shannon Hale.

Now, I didn't remember the name Shannon Hale when I picked up the book, and didn't inspect the author copy too closely. That's a good thing because I really didn't like the other Hale book I'd read, Princess Academy (too contrived). So I went into this one with no prejudice against the author, which I know one shouldn't do but really - don't we all? I mean, if it's an author we really didn't like, then it's like eating a food we hate, and if it's an author we really do like, it's a quick, fast delicious read. Right?

Anyway, the book centers on Jane, unlucky in love and unlikely to find anyone as wonderful as Mr. Darcy (specifically, Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy). Her Great-Aunt dies, leaving her the "inheritance" of an all-expenses paid three week vacation at Pembrook Park. This theme-park for grown-up women asks that you show up with only one change of clothes because they'll provide all the rest (right down to era-appropriate undies!). After a few days drill in proper etiquette, you're released into a world populated with dandies and fops, house servants, balls, horses... you remember it from an Austen novel, it's here. Of course, our Jane finds love - or does she?

The ending was a bit much, but then, so are many of Austen's endings. Hale writes good pastiche, and if you're an Austen fan (with or without Mr. Firth's help), this is a Must Read. If you like your romance novels not quite so chick-lit or Harlequin-y, this is a Must Read. And if you're just looking for a fun read...

Oh, I checked: it's on bookshelves now. Finally.