30.12.08

Imponderables

At MPOW I have two e-mail accounts to tend: my personal account, and a general library account. We use the latter for All Employee announcements, ordering from vendors and I tell students to e-mail me there if they can't remember how to spell my name.

This account attracts spam, and I've gotten used to that. When I checked today, though, I got a surprise. Classmates dot com has a reunion planned (for either the 10th or the 19th, the messages have both dates listed)!

Now, I've been close with my prep school librarian, and I'd like to think that my former students would enjoy seeing me at a reunion. But the library itself? I'm guessing that might be difficult to arrange. Or perhaps... ok, doubtful, but perhaps... there's someone out there who's name is Library.

If you know him/her/it, tell them about the reunion.

29.12.08

Notable Quotes

Breuer gestured to the bouquets of fresh-cut flowers that lay before many graves. "In this land of the dead, these are the dead and those" -- he pointed to an old untended and abandoned section of the cemetary -- "those are the truly dead. No one now tends their graves because no one living has ever known them. They know what it means to be dead."
When Nietzsche Wept, Irvin D. Yalom

28.12.08

The dreaded SPOILER issue

I've blogged about spoilers before, and I basically come down on the side of "if you aren't keeping up with the series, don't read/look at posts/articles about the most current issue/volume/movie".

But, as ALOTTFMA points out, there's also the question about Real Life: if a story is based on real events, can one really spoil it? In other words, did anyone not know that the Titanic sank? or, in literary terms, that Nixon resigns at the end of The Final Days?

26.12.08

Links Galore

25.12.08

Definition difference

Tonight, Thing One and I ate dinner with a fire in the fireplace as a background. He was in charge of building the fire, while I was in charge of cooking the dinner.

Shortly after starting the fire, Thing One asked about the flue. I told him "push it forward." He did, and the fire alarm went off.

So, readers, here's the question. When I said "push it forward," I meant "push it away from you." Thing One says that "push it forward" means pushing it towards yourself.

Which of us is right?

23.12.08

Do I have a life?

Saw this over at The Little Professor and decided to play along. The rules are: If you've seen more than eighty-five of these, you have no life.

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
( ) Boondock Saints
( ) Fight Club
( ) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
( ) Universal Soldier
( ) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
( ) Along Came Polly
( ) Joe Dirt
( ) KING KONG which version?
( ) A Cinderella Story
( ) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
( ) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Dumber & Dumberer
( ) Final Destination
( ) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
( ) The Ring
( ) The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
( ) Flubber Orignial version only
( ) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
(x) Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
( ) From Hell
(x) Hellboy
(x) Secret Window
( ) I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
( ) The Whole Ten Yards
( ) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child's Play
( ) Seed of Chucky
( ) Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
( ) Just Married
(x) Gothika
( ) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
( ) Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
( ) The Grudge
( ) The Grudge 2
( ) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask
( ) Bad Boys
( ) Bad Boys 2
(x) Joy Ride
( ) Lucky Number Sleven
(x) Ocean's Eleven
(x) Ocean's Twelve
( ) Bourne Identity
( ) Bourne Supremacy
( ) Lone Star
( ) Bedazzled both versions
( ) Predator I
( ) Predator II
( ) The Fog
( ) Ice Age
( ) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
( ) Independence Day
( ) Cujo
( ) A Bronx Tale
( ) Darkness Falls
( ) Christine
(x) ET
( ) Children of the Corn
( ) My Boss's Daughter
( ) Maid in Manhattan
( ) War of the Worlds
( ) Rush Hour
( ) Rush Hour 2
( ) Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She's All That
(x) Calendar Girls
( ) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
( ) Event Horizon
(x) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
( ) Forrest Gump
( ) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
( ) The Terminator 2
( ) The Terminator 3
( ) x-Men
( ) x2
( ) x-3
( ) Spider-Man
( ) Spider-Man 2
( ) Sky High
( ) Jeepers Creepers
( ) Jeepers Creepers 2
( ) Catch Me If You Can
( ) The Little Mermaid
( ) Freaky Friday
( ) Reign of Fire
( ) The Skulls
( ) Cruel Intentions
( ) Cruel Intentions 2
( ) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
( ) Swimfan
( ) Miracle on 34th street
( ) Old School
( ) The Notebook
( ) K-Pax
( ) Kippendorf's Tribe
( ) A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
( ) The 40-year-old-virgin
(x) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(x) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(x) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
( ) Baseketball
( ) Hostel
(x) Waiting for Guffman
( ) House of 1000 Corpses
( ) Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
( ) Highlander
(x) Mothman Prophecies
( ) American History
( ) Three
( ) The Jacket
( ) Kung Fu Hustle
( ) Shaolin Soccer
( ) Night Watch
(x) Monsters Inc.
( ) Titanic
(x) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
( ) Shaun Of the Dead
( ) Willard
( ) High Tension
( ) Club Dread
( ) Hulk
( ) Dawn Of the Dead
( ) Hook
(x) Chronicle Of Narnia The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
( ) 28 days later
( ) Orgazmo
( ) Phantasm
( ) Waterworld
(x) Kill Bill vol 1
(x) Kill Bill vol 2
( ) Mortal Kombat
( ) Wolf Creek
( ) Kingdom of Heaven
( ) The Hills Have Eyes
( ) I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
( ) The Last House on the Left
( ) Re-Animator
( ) Army of Darkness
(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
( ) Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
( ) Ewoks The Battle For Endor
( ) The Matrix
( ) The Matrix Reloaded
( ) The Matrix Revolutions
( ) Animatri
( ) Evil Dead
( ) Evil Dead 2
( ) Team America: World Police
( ) Red Dragon
(x) Silence of the Lambs
( ) Hannibal
( ) Battle Royale
( ) Battle Royale 2
( ) Brazil
( ) Contact
( ) Cube
(x) Dr. Strangelove
( ) Enlightenment Guaranteed
( ) Four Rooms
(x) Memento
( ) Pi
( ) Requiem for a Dream
(x) Pulp Fiction (does the tv version count?)
( ) Reservoir Dogs
( ) Run Lola Run
(x) Russian Ark
( ) Serenity
(x) Sin City
( ) Snatch
( ) Spider
(x) The Sixth Sense
(x) The Village
( ) Waking Life
( ) Zatoichi
( ) Ikiru
( ) The Seven Samurai (but it's on my to-watch list)
( ) Brick
( ) Akira

56. Whew! According to this, I have a life! (BTW, if any of these seem a little "odd" for Lazyviewing, blame the Things).

I'm tagging Thing Two. And any one else who's interested.

20.12.08

Last Minute Book Ideas

For those of you who haven't quite finished your Holiday Shopping:

18.12.08

16 Things Meme

Ellysa tagged me for this, saying I was a "blogger extraordinaire". Hmmm... don't know about that, but thanks for the compliment. As for "16 Things You Don't Know About Me", that's a little complicated. I mean, so many people know me in so many different ways that it'll difficult for me to come up with 16 completely new, unknown things. My sister will know some (ditto my cousins)... friends may know others... etc. So, to name this meme correctly, it's "16 Things, Most of Which You Didn't Know About Me"

--I hate my middle name.

--When I was younger, the only pets I had were goldfish. They each died within a week of my getting them. (I've had better luck with the cats!)

--I grew 8" one year, and have only grown 2.5" since then.

--I had two boyfriends in Kindergarten. I haven't had two boyfriends since...

--I once served 14 straight points in volleyball. That's the only thing I could do in volleyball.

--I used to slide down the banister in my grandfather's house.

--I once had an art show at the local museum.

--My first Nancy Drew book gave me my one and only wake-up-screaming nightmare.

--I learned to solder when I was 6.

--My favorite fudge recipe can be found in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

--I have a calculator named Fred.

--I started wearing glasses in 4th grade. My first pair with pink "cats-eye" glasses.

--My cat Howard was named after a guy I worked with at Circle Rep. They both cocked their heads and held their paws/hands the same way.

--I used to collect dolls from foreign countries.

--In 8th grade, I learned I read 1000wpm. This was at the start of a speed-reading class. I never finished that class.

--Until the summer of 1972, I could read in a car.

I'm tagging Cam (because she's always on the lookout for a good meme), KRodd (just because), K (because she remembers my first pair of glasses), Ernie Cox (because he has nothing else to do with his time) and Katarzyna Agarwal (to spread the wealth around a little).

16.12.08

Things that make you go whaaa????

I like listening to music on my way to and from work. Thanks to my parents, I have an iPod car jack. The problem is that once I get within a certain distance of NYC, there's too much interference and I can't listen. So I turn to 1010 WINS.

Recently, on my way home, there's one point in Pocantico Hills where the 1010 WINS signal is weak - don't ask me why it's why it's weak in the evening, heading north while it's fine in the morning heading south. The point is, it's weak, ok? And another station bleeds in. You can hear both stations, with random words, phrases or sentences mixed with the others words, phrases or sentences, sometimes both at once.

I've been listening hard, trying to figure out where this other station is coming from. Tonight: success. I heard the call numbers of the other station. They're CFRB, 1010 Newstalk. Out of Toronto.

Whaa?????

New Blog Alert

This one is the Book, Cook & Hook Nomad's blog. How can you resist reading about someone "Eternally looking for the perfect book, the perfect recipe and the perfect yarn"?

Oh: there's the occasional Scotch recommendation, too.

15.12.08

Is it me?

This is the time of year when we exchange cards, expressing love and care and good wishes to our nearest and dearest. And to work colleagues, employees and clients. I don't doubt that the cards sent to the latter group are sincere, but sometimes... Here's the text of one card, received at MPOW
I'm honored to set aside my regular work at this time of year to send you a heartfelt note.
Yes, yes, a lovely sentiment. I'd have been a little more touched if 1. it had been addressed to me, not "To My Friends and Customers" and 2. if it had been handwritten.

Bah Humbug? Or am I on to something?

12.12.08

Repatterning

Earlier this year, I announced that I'd not made any New Year's Resolutions, I'd set goals. Things have gotten better in many areas, and now I'm thinking about 2009's goals.

The major, overall goal is repatterning. What's that? It's breaking old patterns of behavior, belief, etc. It's taking small steps rather than saying "as of now, I'm no longer going to do/say/eat xxx" in some massive, radical shift.

Some of the patterns are ones that I've been aware of for some time - health-related ones, clutter-related ones, and relationship-related ones. Some are ones I've been concerned about, but aren't patterns... yet. There are things I think might become patterns that I'm not sure I want to get into, and now is the time to reconsider.

Some of these are based on things that I know about myself, and some are based on watching others in my life and saying "hmmm - I don't like that trait. I wonder if I'm developing it." (or, conversely, seeing a trait I do like and would like to encourage in myself). It's not always easy to take an inventory of these things, particularly when you see something unpleasant in others that you fear is growing in yourself. That's why it's small steps, because those are manageable.

The good thing about goals is that you can embark on the great experiment at any time. I'm choosing my upcoming five-day weekends to start. Just for that weekend, I'll exercise twice and eat healthy. Just for that weekend, I'll unclutter a box or a closet. And if it doesn't happen Weekend One, it can happen Weekend Two. Etc. It's a GOAL. Not a resolution.

Watch this space.

Imponderables


(ok, not so much of an imponderable as a WHA??? but I don't have that category)

Yesterday I pre-ordered the fifth (and possibly final) book in the Percy Jackson series. As I was finalizing the sale, Amazon let me know that
This item might not arrive by Dec. 25. If you want it before that date, upgrade your shipping options
(I'm paraphrasing slightly).

Here's the thing: the book isn't due to be released until May 8. I know it's an auto-generated message but still... do you think I could get it before Christmas if I upgraded to Next Day service?

7.12.08

Even danah boyd's doing it

Doing what? Turning off:
No email will be received by danah's ornery INBOX between December 11 and January 19!

For those who are unaware of my approach to vacation... I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I've trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I'm away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX. Don't worry... if you forget, you'll get a nice note from my INBOX telling you to shove off, respect danah's deeply needed vacation time, and try again after January 19.

It's sick, twisted, and counter to the always-on culture that we live in. But gosh darnit, it feels mighty fine to come home fret-free. And this will be especially important for this trip because, starting January 19, I will begin my new job at MSR - w00t!
Since danah's one of our leading lights in understanding social networking and youth culture, all I can say is I hope the message spreads.

Congratulations, danah, on taking a break. And if she can do it, why can't you?

6.12.08

Imponderables

Today I went to do some shopping and to pick up my Christmasholiday card stamps (the Nutcracker is better than the cross-stitch from last year, but not great). *

While I was on line, a man came in. Two women followed, loudly berating him for parking in the only handicapped space. He kept saying, "I am not the driver, it's my daughter, she's a grown woman of 25" and they kept insisting that he could have told her to park elsewhere. Shortly after, a woman with a cane entered - someone that probably had a handicapped permit, yet was unable to park near the door due to this "grown woman's" selfishness.

I exited, and went up to the car. After this girl rolled down the window (or is it "lowered" in this age of electronics?), I explained that she wasn't parked properly and that the woman with the cane was prevented from using the space set aside for her; the response was "I'm waiting for my father." To which I retorted, "He isn't disabled" and walked away.

I hear about how communities are losing their tax base through foreclosures and bankruptcies. Why can't they start making up the difference by targeting these people? Surely a blast of ticketing and fining for "nuisances" would go a long way to increasing the coffers and create a more civil society.



* I still send out cards. While some may say that it's irresponsible (all those trees and carbon emissions!), to me it's more irresponsible to neglect the little niceties in our lives. And what's more nice that getting a card that says someone cares and wants good things for you? Remember, it's the little things.

5.12.08

I'm an old fogie

Some things are just ingrained in us, I suppose: slang from our youth, songs that were Number One Hits from our formative years that no one now would listen to (but to which we, of course, know all the words), team cheers, etc..

Yesterday morning I was chatting with a colleague. She had asked the Middle School faculty to provide her with the title/artist of at least one song that had meant something to us when we were young. It could be off the first album you really owned... the song playing when you first danced with your first true love... whatever. I'd given her three, one from my grammar school days, one from prep school, and one from college.

I asked her what she was planning on doing with this information? Was it to be a "guess which colleague liked ____" game? Or was she making a mix tape?

At this, she burst out laughing and said, "Yes, back in the day, when we were young, it would have been called a mix tape. But now, in the 21st century, we use CDs."

Since she's younger than I (ok, ok, only by a few months), I informed her that at my advanced age, it was permissible to use older terminology when the mind didn't remember the newer. And that when she got to be my age, she'd understand.

Still... I'm an old fogie, aren't I?

2.12.08

Imponderables

I just can't bring myself to blame the start of the Holiday season for the bus driver stabbing or the Wal-Mart death or the Mumbai horror, but I can't find any other reason. Can you?

What happened to peace and love and goodwill to all man?

1.12.08

Corrupted by pop culture

Tonight on my drive home, I saw Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon in conjunction. I live far enough from NYC to not have a huge glare from all the lights obscuring the view. It's truly remarkable.

However... is it just me, or does it look like a frowny face? Makes me wish I were in Australia :)

28.11.08

Good shopping?

In an earlier post, I stated that shopping at Trader Joe's does not make you a better person.

Cam read that post, and commented that
'Cause the thing is, I have recently been thinking about the same topic in precisely the opposite terms-- that is, thinking that shopping at TJ's just might possibly make me a better person!... Work with me, people. I'm not asking you to rule on the evidence with respect to the merits of Trader Joe's (although that would be an interesting discussion); instead, I just want to entertain the notion that choosing to shop at one place rather than another could be connected to personal virtue. People who don't choose Wal-Mart because of sweatshops or because they think big box stores upset local economies are making the same sort of claim. Are they all wet?
She then says that, in her reading of my post,
Unless I mis-read her, she was referring to the fact that when she shops at TJ's, she is routinely pushed about by aggressive yuppies who appear to regard their time as more important than anyone else's-- such un-virtuous behavior constituting prima facie evidence against any claim that TJ shoppers are an across-the-board superior class of human being!
Actually, Cam, you are misreading me.

I've shopped at TJs exactly twice. Both times were unpleasant experiences, filled with the type of shopper who look down on those of us that prefer Hannafords, A&P, Stop&Shop or other grocery stores. As I said in my post, I don't like being locked into one store's brand when shopping for food. Since I'm trying to reduce the gluten in my diet, I want choice. TJ's gluten-free breads are pretty bad; Kinnikinnick has a much better product. Pamela's does great brownie and bread mixes (not to mention the cookies). TJs has great soup, and there are other products I enjoy eating. But it's not the only place I'll shop, ever.

While I may not choose to shop at Wal-Mart, that doesn't make me a better person than those that do. I prefer Powell's to Amazon, and Book Court to both. Again, that doesn't make me a better person: it simply means that I have choices and that I'm exercising my right to choose. Ain't capitalism grand?

Choosing to shop at any store shouldn't make you feel like a better person. It shouldn't make you feel superior to anyone that doesn't follow your choices - something I saw at TJs and hear from those that have decided to shop there or at Whole Foods. In some ways, it reminds me of the holier-than-thou vegetarians who say that everyone should adopt their choice. One person told me that it was healthier to eat soy and other products and to avoid meat; when I responded that not everyone had that option (I know people for whom the local food bank in Vermont, stocked with "leftover" venison, fish and other hunted food, is their lifeline during the winter), I was told that everyone - and he meant everyone - could afford to eat other foods, even when they're out of work, trying to do the best they can for their families and unable to afford to go to the local IGA.

Arrogant? Yes. Narrow-minded? Yes. Living in a bubble? Yes.

That's what I get from the people who oh-so-ostentatiously shop at TJs. Cam, I'm glad that you feel that choosing to buy from them makes you, somehow, a better person than the type of person who doesn't. It may mean that you can afford those products... that you live close enough to a Trader Joe's... that you don't mind limiting your purchases to their products... I could go on. It's your choice. But I don't think you're a better person for it, just as I wouldn't think you a worse person for choosing another store. You're just Cam.

Isn't that enough?

27.11.08

(I've got) plenty to be thankful for

Thinking back over the past year, I am truly thankful for the changes in my life since last Thanksgiving.

This time last year, there was an incredibly toxic relationship in my life. That has gone. There was another relationship that was almost as toxic, and that has lessened considerably. Several relationships that were unhealthy (but not toxic) are significantly less so or have faded away. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, my health was undergoing a difficult turn. This year, with the help of some good doctors, a nutritionist, and my practice of ECAM (Energy Conservation and Management), I'm feeling better than before. There's still more to be done, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I was incredibly stressed - work, health and relationships were taking a toll on me. No longer. For the first time in years, I'm experiencing a very low level of stress and that's an incredibly good feeling. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I didn't feel as though my house was coming together. Now it's almost all where I want it to be - painted, nicely furnished, organized. And the fireplace is just so nice to curl up in front of during time off. I'm thankful for that.

This time last year, I wasn't as close to some of my friends as I am now (in part that was due to the stress). Spending time with them at conferences, at dinners and lunches, over e-mail and Facebook are all ways to expand and explore our knowledge of each other and bring good things into each others lives. I'm thankful for that.

Not everything has been great this past year. Losing Lulu was difficult. Having people say extremely nasty, hurtful things to, and about me, still pains me. But those things are in the past and that I can move on. I'm thankful for that.

Believe me, I've got plenty to be thankful for.

Notable Quotes

All our innumerable memorable dinners reminds me yet again that our own personal complex ever contracting, ever expanding circle of friends is our most precious possession. It is a gift that energizes, it is a gift that invites constant nurturing and continuing loving care for all of us to flourish.

26.11.08

(I've got) plenty to be thankful for

Each year at this time, we here in America think about that for which we're thankful. Yesterday I received an e-mail from a prep school classmate, informing me that another classmate had died a year ago. "Classmate" doesn't begin to describe my relationship with the women with whom I went to school. No, we weren't all close friends - our class was noted for the number of internal arguments (we voted over and over again about our choice of dessert for a Senior Dinner, and let's not start discussing the Class Song "discussion"). But there was an incredible sense of closeness as a class, something that set us apart from the years before and after. I've heard since then that we had (have!) a reputation unlike that of other classes. And all these years later, we're still a close unit, sharing information regularly in a way that other classes do not always do. I'm saddened by our loss of one of our members. While she was the first, at our age it's not too early to realize that others will follow.

And I'm thankful for having known them all.

24.11.08

Notable Quotes

Every book has unpleasant sentences, ideas that attack the main structure, words that cancel out other ones, and I want to eliminate all that. The path to the perfect quote is winding and takes years to travel, but when it arrives, it justifies all the unhappiness that reading gives us.
The Paris Enigma, Pablo de Santis

23.11.08

Sometimes, change is a good thing

I've blogged about the changes in my old neighborhood before, particularly about the problems with the yuppies and restaurants. Yesterday, on a trip down to pick up Greta for a week's visit, I had the opportunity to see some good changes there.
  • The Commerce Bank has not closed. I've been increasingly annoyed with banking's attitude towards change. I used to collect coins in a jar and once a year take them in to add to my account. This became my Christmas Present Fund. Then banks started charging for the wrappers... limiting the number of rolls you could present at one time... arguing about whether this was legitimate. Excuse me? It's MONEY. And one would think that banks are in the business of money (bailout to the contrary). Anyway, that Coinstar machine you see all over the place takes a percentage of the money I deposit, so I don't like using them. Commerce Bank has Penny Arcade, and when they give you dollars in exchange, it's with a smile. So when Commerce merged with TD Banknorth, I got concerned. No need: the branch was open at 7:30, Penny was all ready to go, and the smiles were still there!
  • Breakfast was at the newly renovated Happy Days Diner. It's a diner, nothing more, nothing less. Thing Two likes diners, and this would be right up his alley. Me? I'm ok with diners. This one has basic diner-y food, and the new decor seems like it's brought in more people. Over the past 15 years I've eaten there a number of times. This place hasn't changed. And I mean that in a good way.
  • We debated going to Perelandra (the health food store) vs. the newly opened Trader Joe's. TJ won. Now, I'm not a huge TJ fan. I don't like being locked into one brand (although, as Neat & Simple Living says, too much choice can be a bad thing; and somewhere I read a story about an African man bemused by the concept of Baskin-Robins' 31 Flavors - who needs more than five?). Their gluten-free selection is pretty poor at this venue, and I really hate being rushed through. Why rushed? Thing One has a very low tolerance level for yuppies and being shoved around by rude ones trying to get though their shopping (note to people: shopping at TJs does not make you a better person!). I don't like moms who think that they have the right to clog up an entire aisle with their shopping cart and a child stroller, and I really hate having two people stop to kiss right in front of the soup display ("excuse me, you're blocking the butternut squash soup" just sounds both rude and lame). I was also looking for some cranberry concentrate, not available here. Still, the renovation they did on the old Independence Bank building was impressive and at 9:05 on a Saturday it wasn't a bad experience.
  • Our next stop was supposed to be at Beastly Bite, but we got sidetracked by Book Court. It's a great, small, independent book store. What's even better is that it's down the street from the Barnes & Noble, but it's still going strong. As a matter of fact, it expanded. Wow. Luckily, I had to buy the new National Book Award winners and they had everything except the fiction winner (don't get me started on why it should not have won!). I love independent bookstores not just because of the cozy, local flavor, but because of the knowledge they bring to books. B&N, Borders and other big stores rarely have staff that really know the product. Book Court? A++ on all counts.
  • Beastly Bite has a wonderful grey cat that is just so friendly, I nearly popped him into my bag and catnapped him home. The gorgeous tabby wasn't so friendly, but oh so cute. The Boys (and Greta - henceforth known as The Gang) now have Wevura and Before Grain food to enjoy.
All-in-all, the changes/renovations have been a good thing and reason to hope that my old neighborhood will continue to thrive, despite the economic climate.

22.11.08

Could have been 733 or 899




Laura's Dewey Decimal Section:

292 Greek & Roman religion

Laura = 21181 = 211+81 = 292


Class:
200 Religion


Contains:
The Bible and other religious texts, books about the general philosophy and theory of religion.



What it says about you:
You don't mind thinking about the unknown or other very big ideas. You will never feel like your work is finished. The 200-series is dominated by Christian topics, so you may feel like you're constantly surrounded by Christians.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

21.11.08

And I thought things couldn't get worse

First this... now, well...

Links Galore

19.11.08

Imponderables

Apparently we don't just add words to our collective vocabulary, we also delete them. While I understand losing "mimeograph", I'm puzzled by "Nixonian". Doesn't anyone think that the release of Frost/Nixon might lead to a brief resurgance?

And what about we old fogies, who remember mimeo machines? Is there an Eternal Sunlight machine to wipe these words and memories from our brains?

17.11.08

Missing You

One of the people I dined with at the Harvest Festival was the creator of the Fractured Friendships blog. Since then, I've pondered the meaning of "fractured" with regard to friendships: to me, "fractured" implies that it can be mended. What about those friendships that are broken - beyond repair. Perhaps it happened at a time when both parties were overly involved in other things, and then when one looked around, the other had moved with no forwarding address. Perhaps death played a part. Perhaps you were BFFs at work and one left, and with that common ground gone the friendship foundered. Or perhaps it was words/actions that just could not be overcome.

No matter what the reason, the relationship is broken, never to be whole again. Sometimes we wonder if the fracture is (in reality) a break. The problem is that the other is the one person that knows you "in that way", the one person with that point-of-view, the one person that shared whatever made the relationship yours. And while you can find others to fill the friendship void, you'll never find an exact match. There's always a gap, a loss. And you wonder (question? hope against hope?) that there isn't a real break, that it is only a fracture that needs a splint and some healing time.

At the Summit this past weekend, a presenter mentioned a book that would be absolutely perfect for someone I can no longer give to; I've passed the information along to a mutual friend in hope that it will find its home. A couple of students have mentioned things that remind me of a friend that died almost 20 years ago, throwing that loss into sharp relief. And there are things going on in my life that highlight the loss of other friends, ones that I know could give sane advice or guidance (or just provide the perfect wall upon which to bounce off ideas).

Fractures heal. It's getting over the break that's difficult.

Notable Quotes

Cheese crumbs spread in front of a copulating pair of rats may distract the female, but not the male.

15.11.08

The problem with conferences

Today I had the fun of sitting next to Diane Chen - we heckle well together - and, lo and behold, I'm now on Twitter (@lazygal, of course). And then she introduced me to Emoticons...

I may never get another thing accomplished.

14.11.08

Links Galore

12.11.08

Imponderables

Those vanity license plates on cars can be funny, can't they? Today I saw a Fortwo. The plate read "Mikey Jr".

I can only imagine which car gets "Mikey Sr".

10.11.08

Notable Quotes

I know, from my own experience, that no one is who they dream of being. We all aspire to something else, an ideal that we don't want to sully by bringing it too close to our real lives. The orchestra conductor would have preferred to be an Olympic swimmer; the renowned painter, a skilled swordsman; the writer famous for his tragedies, an illiterate adventurer. Fate is nourished by errors; glory feeds on regret.

The Paris Enigma, Pablo de Santis

9.11.08

Something in the air

Yesterday I e-mailed a colleague. She teaches history at MPOW and the class is doing some biographic studies. One of the people they're learning about is Pico della Mirandola. I'd never heard of him before Thursday. Then, yesterday, I was read a book that mentioned him - so I told her there's Something In the Air.

Today, it's a new book. One of the characters is from Guyana, and I just read a passage about going "up country", to the jungle and mass suicide. Then I checked my Bloglines and read this. I remember the news that day - first hearing about the deaths on the air strip, and then the mass deaths.

Something's in the air, indeed.

Do-it-yourself Lazygal Weekend Kit

Want to live the LazyLife? Just do as I did yesterday.
  • Woke up, fed the cats. Checked e-mail and my Bloglines account. Tidied my bedroom and dining room, put away yesterday's dried dishes. Lit a fire in the fireplace. Waited for the Comcast guy to come with my new cable box (don't ask - it's a long, irritating story about how Comcast Must Die).
  • Continued to tidy.
  • Curled up in front of the fire with The Boys, reading and occasionally checking e-mail, eating and tending to the fire. Some napping occurred.
Went upstairs, went to sleep.

See, isn't that easy?

7.11.08

Responsibility

As I was leaving school yesterday, I spoke with a colleague. My assistant is out for a while, and she wanted to know what was wrong so she could include it in her prayers for my assistant.

Later, I was in the local IGA when a man sneezed. In that auto-reflexive way we do, I said "Bless you!" He looked up, with an extremely sad face and said, "Thank you. I really could use a blessing today." Then he, and his two young sons, turned down the next aisle.

We don't often think about how something as common as a "bless you" will be received. Often we'll say it, not particularly considering the meaning of the phrase or whether the person is religious. Clearly, this man was in a bad place - perhaps because of the economy, perhaps because he'd received bad news, perhaps, well, who knows. And my simple words meant a lot to him. It gladdened my heart to think that he hadn't simply shrugged it off.

Quakers don't pray in quite the same way as others. I do often hold people in the Light, and now I'm adding this man, just as my colleague has added my assistant.

Prayers and blessing. They're a responsibility we don't often take on, but perhaps one we should spend more time thinking about... and doing.

4.11.08

Election Day, November, 1884

by Walt Whitman
(1819-1892)


If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and
show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless prairies--nor
your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic
geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes--nor
Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name--the still
small voice vibrating--America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the main, the
quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board and inland--
Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the
peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify--while the heart
pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

3.11.08

Notable Quotes

...one of the things I'm struck by is that religion, and religious people and leaders, no matter how stern they may look and how darkly they may dress, are deeply frivolous. There's something absolutely frivolous about religion, no matter how ghastly it may appear, no matter how strict and stern its countenance. I call something frivolous if it distracts from the nuts and bolts of real life, of how we try to live our lives as model creatures. I find something quite unforgivable about the way religion clouds what should be fairly clear water and does everything it can to make that as difficult to navigate and negotiate as possible.

2.11.08

New Blog Alert

This time, it's my new blog, Lazy Reads. Why? Because I wanted to share my reviews of the books I've read and to give my faithful, incredibly large following a place where they could comment on them. I'm still playing with the layout and format, but it's open for visitors.

If you look to your left, on the sidebar, you'll see links to the most recent reviews. I'll also be posting a blogroll of where I go for book ideas, reviews, etc..

Enjoy!

Moving to the center

What happened to the Gang of 14? The centrists? The people that actually got things done in our government? They're a dying breed. Even on Facebook, where a friend has created a group hoping to unite Obama and McCain supporters, I've gotten "Republicans are facists" comments.

History has proven than when you have a Congress and a President from the same party, the move is to the party's center - in other words, more radical than the nation's center. Remember the Contract with America? Expect another one if Obama wins and the Democrats retain control of both houses. Is that what we really want?

Think - really think - before you head to the polls.

(þ: RIA)

31.10.08

My beloved

Ten years ago, at this exact moment, I lost my best friend.

His name was Howard, and he was a beautiful, big, loving American Long Hair black-and-white cat. I'd put up a photo but I don't have any digitized. He was beautiful, though, with a huge purr.

Originally named Chaser, my sister asked me to catsit one winter break and I fell in love. When she needed to find him a home, I took him in and over the next ten years we spent more happy hours together than I can count. Howard's favorite position was to lie with his head on my shoulder, his arms around mine. When things got bad, he was there - as long as we were together, we could survive anything.

Vets didn't like treating him - my sweet baby became a raging tiger in the exam room. Unfortunately, he wasn't the healthiest of cats: asthma, epilepsy, FUS (which required a P-U, which cured the epilepsy), and finally idiopathic hepatic lipidosis. For the final two months of his life, I would take baby food, put it in a syringe, and shoot it down his throat. And he let me. He'd purr as I was feeding him, knowing that his Mommy was fighting hard to keep him alive.

At 7:29pm on 31 October 1998 he had a stroke. He was lying in my arms, wrapped in a blanket (he was so very, very cold) and he had a stroke. He was eleven years old, far too young for all the health problems he'd had.

I miss him daily. I miss sharing my cantaloupe and apples with him. I miss his stealing my broccoli. I miss him lying over my toes as we slept. I miss reading with him in my arms. I miss him coming to kiss me when I walked in the door. I miss knowing he's there, waiting for me to come home.

And today's when I miss him most of all.

Links Galore

28.10.08

Must.Stop.Watching.House.

There are so many ways in which information gets shared. Misinformation, too. Stereotypes get reinforced, unrealistic hopes built (and dashed), and people see the best, and worst, of each other. Television and movies are prime culprits in this regard, aren't they?

If you believe the movies and tv shows, all Germans are neat, organized and blue-eyed/blond-haired. The French won't speak to Americans because we don't speak French. Italian men are Lotharios. All Brits have bad teeth. You can't drink the water anywhere outside the US, orphans and whores have hearts of gold, and a twisty road is sure to have a car chase erupt regularly.

It's more than just culture, it's professions. Teachers care about even the most troubled students. Nurses (when not trying to sleep with doctors) have endless patience. If you believe Law & Order, cases are easily solved and rarely do the bad guys win. Local new stations resemble WJN. Teen girls dress and talk older than they should, while their mother's look as though they were giving birth at the onset of puberty.

And then there's House. If you believe the show, every trip into an MRI ends up with the patient bleeding uncontrollably... convulsing... going blind... having interior metal ripped out through their skin... going into V-tach...

Not the most comforting thoughts to have as you lie in an MRI machine for an hour.

Book meme - play at your own risk

Saw this over at the Little Professor and decided to play along.

What was the last book you bought?

The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

Name a book you have read more than once.

Just off the top of my head:
Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

I'd have to say (and for very different reasons) The Outsider, The Golden Notebook and the works of Robertson Davies. And, in the almost ashamed to mention it category, Audrey Rose.

How do you choose a book? e.g. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?

Author first, then cover design/summary (particularly true with ARCs, which have no "buzz" yet).

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

I'm shallow. Fiction.

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

For Literature, beautiful writing. Genre fiction requires great plot.

Most loved/memorable character?

Wow. Very difficult to answer. They're such totally different things, aren't they? Heathcliff falls into the "memorable" category, while Joey Bettany falls into the "loved" side. There are others I could name, but those were the first two that popped into my head.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

One book on my nightstand: The Fire by Katherine Neville. It's her follow-up to The Eight

What was the last book you read?

Robertson Davies: A Portrait in Mosaic

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?

Several times, although usually I'm very bad about giving up on horrible books and struggle through to the end.. The most recent was The Orc King. No link because I'm not going to publicize it more.

26.10.08

Time to Retaliate

I don't know quite how the term started but...

When I was young, my parents would have dinner parties. Sometimes it was for a holiday (usually around New Year's) but often it was not attached to any specific occasion. My mother would carefully balance the menu and the guests, cleaning and shopping for days beforehand. Because this was the 70s, the height of chic vis-a-vis "nibbles" in Smalltown was Bugles and sour-cream-onion-dip (and if anyone knows where I can get a box of Bugles... not that they were great but the trip down memory lane would be fun).

Anyway, some of the guests were people my parents wanted to invite, and some were always invited because of what my mother called "retaliation."

Retaliation for what? Inviting my parents in the first place. To this day, she'll say, "We have to retaliate with the [name of hapless guests]".

Today I'm hosting a small gathering to show off my house. There are colleagues from work, people I hold near and dear to my daily life, and there are friends from other areas of my world. Family is included. And yes, like the good daughter I am, I am retaliating.

Take that, friendly people who've opened your house to me before!

23.10.08

ooooh - me want!

Whenever people ask the question, "what is your favorite book?" I usually can't answer. It all depends on mood, genre, what I've read recently and random factors. Yet there is one book that I come back to, again and again, particularly when I'm sick. Goodnight, Moon.

Seriously. Who can resist?

I've seen some parodies, but then, yesterday, I saw this.


Me want
. Me very much want.

20.10.08

I don't like Mondays...


(tell me why)




(þ: my assistant)

Notable Quotes

He thought marriage was an endless conversation. From the beginning, he sensed that we would be lifelong friends. You have to change together. If you can do that to understand one another, you can have a lifelong marriage.

19.10.08

It could have been worse

One of my personal rules as a school librarian is that if a student wants me to read a book - even if it's not in my "comfort zone" (eg, not a genre I like, or a graphic novel) - I will. Several years ago one of my students came running in to the library at MFPOW, very excited about a book he'd just read. Now, this student is dyslexic, so I knew that reading wasn't that easy for him. If he was excited about having read a book, I absolutely had to read it.

The book? City of Ember.

Even though I'm no longer at that school, we've kept in touch and when the movie was released, we decided to go see it. This morning I trundled down to NYC to meet him and see how the book-to-movie translation had gone.

Our verdict? It could have been worse. We didn't remember several of the "set pieces" that the movie provided (for example, the unraveling of the map didn't take place in the generator room), and at times it was a little too much like a Raiders chase or a Disney ride. Granny's role was truncated in the movie, and the mayor's expanded. Maybe because we knew the plot we didn't find it that suspenseful... and we thought that the director's opening sequence ruined the discovery of what the City of Ember was and why for the viewer.

Still, it could have been worse. And we're hoping that People of Sparks isn't made into a movie - we didn't like it (neither of us read Prophet of Yonwood as a result).

(Side note: saw the trailer forInkheart and, well, it seems that they've compressed the trilogy into one movie. Not sure how I feel about that.)

If I could turn back time...

Last night I finished reading Val Ross' oral biography of Robertson Davies. I've been a Davies fan for years (thanks to PET for introducing me to his work!) and reading about his life from the perspective of friends, family and colleagues was interesting.

More than that, though, it made me wish I could re-discover his stories. The characters he created and the worlds they inhabit are so real, so alive. I feel jealous of those that have not read about Salterton or Deptford (or met Samuel Marchbanksn and the other books/people) and the joys they have to encounter.

Maybe, one day, when Mt. Bookpile is down to one year's worth of reading, I'll re-read (although I do have fears about re-reading and losing the magic).

For those of you that have not yet read this remarkable man's novels: GO FIND HIS BOOKS AND READ THEM NOW.

14.10.08

Memento Mori

Years ago, I watched a Masterpiece Theatre dramatization of Murial Spark's Memento Mori (a book I later read). In it, a group of old people are terrorized by anonymous phone calls during which the other party only says, "Memento Mori". While at first this is seen to be a threat, eventually one realizes that it's merely a reminder. After all, everyone must die.

I've been thinking about this book, and possibly re-reading it (something I rarely do thanks to the size of Mt. Bookpile). Why? Because I just finished Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes, his memento mori. Unlike Sparks' fiction, Barnes gives us what are almost brief essays, some pertaining to his family, some to his "non-family" family of writers and influences and friends, all in one way or another about death. It's not as morbid as it sounds.

It's also tied into a discussion over on SpareOom about C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed, a book I first read shortly after the horrific events of September 11. While the discussion has been more about whether or not this was autobiographical writing on Lewis' part (the vote seems to be "thinly veiled fictionalized autobiography"), some of the comments have been about the power of the book to capture the overwhelming grief one feels when a loved one dies. Another book I might just have to re-read soon.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm in a depressive mood, thinking about my death or the death of others! It's more of a confluence of reading and discussion that have made me reflect and memento mori.

13.10.08

THREE degrees of separation

Saturday, Thing One and I went to Millbrook Winery's Harvest Party. As we wended our way along country roads, he was getting a little tense - Thing One has a low tolerance level for what he thinks is pretension. Our initial entry into the Festival seemed to hit that level, and then surpass it. But we had some wine, and some good cheese, and he started to relax.

The organizers put us at a table with three other couples. Couple One was from Connecticut, and Mr. One kept his reflective sunglasses on throughout the afternoon. Yo! Dude: you're under a tent. No sun. So either you've got a problem with your eyesight or you think you're too cool for school (but, really, not so much). They seemed a little lost and didn't really participate in the conversation.

Couple Two were older (60-70+). Jerry was a psychologist at one of the centers located in the former Rockland County Psychiatric Center, literally five minutes from where Thing One's brother has lived for years. His wife, Irene, and he had just finished a book on schizophrenia (which played a semi-role in my recent mystery read, Scared to Live, so I was able to ask a question about it and sound semi-intelligent). Irene's now working on a book on female friendships and the way they end, and has a blog, Fractured Friendships. I mentioned Carol Gillgan's Making Connections (see kids - reading pays off!). Then we talked about where we were from. They knew MPOW because their son had played ice hockey with a boy who'd gone there; this boy's sister I knew through MFPOW when she'd transferred to pursue an ice skating career.

It was at this point that Mr. Two said that this whole "six degrees" thing was nonsense - all it takes is 2-3 questions for most people to find a connection.

Couple Three was a poet-tutor and his girlfriend. They'd been to Paris recently (where she'd lived for a number of years in the 90s), he'd lived in England. He tutored at schools, also acting as a poet-in-residence. The connection? He'd gone to Saint Francis Prep in Brooklyn, but had wanted to go to Archbishop Molloy in Queens (better track team). Guess where Thing One had gone to school? Molloy. They had a great time talking about the virtues and horrors of Catholic school education (trivia tip: nuns are worse than brothers).

So, there we were, at a table with at least two other couples with whom we could talk. Thing One relaxed, drank good wine, ate good food... and enjoyed the three degrees.

Notable Quotes

Memory is identity. I have believed this since -- oh, since I can remember. You are what you have done; what you have done is your memory; what you remember defines who you are; when you forget your life you will cease to be, even before your death.

12.10.08

The things we do to our children

Does this sound familiar? "You can't go outside looking like that - what if you got hit by a car?" or "Wear clean underpants. You may end up in an ambulance."

My mother and grandmother and aunts all said similar things, and I listened. So yesterday, I was in my car, in my pyjamas and no underwear, heading to the train station to pick up Thing One. And all I can think is, I need to drive carefully... what if I get hit by a car and end up in an ambulance.

Remind me never to do that to someone I care about.

10.10.08

Political earworms

SwissToni has a weekly feature, Earworms of the Week. It's all very interesting and often includes music I've never heard.

Today, inadvertently, I helped expose our entire Seventh Grade to an earworm: http://tv.4president.us/tv1952.htm.

We were holding a day devoted to learning about the elections, from what the candidates were saying about their policies to the issues to ads to a game of Capture the Flag. My role was to help with the mini-courses, specifically about the campaign ads.

We showed them archived versions of ads from the 1952 campaign (the aforementioned earworm), LBJ's Daisy ad ("horrible" and "really scary"), Carter's Commander ad ("he sounds like Bush - eww"), Reagan's Bear ad ("subtle but effective") and one from the current campaign. They liked the ones that assumed the viewers were smart, and that didn't attack the other candidate. The fact that the majority of the ads we showed didn't even mention the other candidate was great, according to them.

When it came to the current election, they didn't like the ads - the negativity and the lack of reasons why we should vote for one candidate over the other ("they tell me why the other guy is bad but not why they're good") were unappealing.

For the first time since I moved to NYC, I'm seeing ads for the presidential campaigns on tv. Compared to this lot, I'm not impressed.

9.10.08

We shall overcome

Can you recall the last time you held a grudge against someone? Perhaps it was a friend who betrayed you, a stranger who wronged you, a lover who left, or a parent who unintentionally hurt you. Perhaps this has happened recently and feelings of regret, resentment, and injustice are fresh enough that it still stings. What can we do to overcome these feelings and painful memories?
That overcoming, getting beyond toxic relationships and memories, can be difficult. Think Simple Now acknowledges the difficulties, and offers some tips towards getting past them.

I've been in "that place" for a few days now, thinking back to something someone said a few months ago. This person was angry and hurt about things, and to some extent this was my fault. But the depth of their anger and hurt was more about them than me, only we rarely take these things out on ourselves, do we? They said things that were, well, ugly. I took it, not because I'm the bigger person but because it seemed silly to get into a screaming match over something that would not change.

Still, those words have stuck with me, popping up at odd moments. I wondered if perhaps I could have done more, or different, in the situation. I wondered if others felt the same way about me as this person did. And I've resented this person for making me feel this way about myself and my choices.

Then a few days ago, someone else said something that completely negated what had been said. And yesterday, it happened again. Have I forgiven the first person? I don't know. I'd like to think so. My life feels less cluttered with the resentment gone.

5.10.08

Music ideas needed!

My niece is getting married next October (yes, over a year away). She's very anti those "cliche 80s first dance songs" and all the other party cliche songs (Ixnay on "Everybody Dance Now", "Hot Hot Hot", "YMCA", etc.). So... recommendations needed. What would you suggest they dance to? What would you suggest everybody dance to? I have ideas, but more are needed!

4.10.08

Interesting idea/great product placement

I just read that this new show, The Ex List, is co-sponsoring Ex-Day with 800-Flowers. Apparently, you're supposed to send your ex a bouquet and "reconnect" on October 16.

I kinda like the idea, but I wonder about all those "currents" who might be a little miffed. And then there's the brother of my sister-in-law, who sent his recently departed ex a beautiful bunch of roses, thanking her for a wonderful (albeit shortlived) relationship. She threatened to get a restraining order because he was "stalking" her. And no, she wasn't being punny about flower stalks.

Still, anyone want to get me flowers, I'll happily take them!

3.10.08

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Biography:
The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers Harry Bernstein Memoir of growing up Jewish in pre-WWII northern England
Hole in My Life Jack Gantos Gantos' story of his time in jail, following a drug deal (of sorts) that went wrong

Children's/Young Adult:
The Revolution of Sabine Beth Levine Ain Decent historical fiction about the American Revolutions ideas, and their effect on a young French aristocrat
Unraveling Michelle Baldini In so many ways I identified with Manda and her problems
Being Kevin Brooks Robert is different. Really, really different.
The Good Neighbors Holly Black Good plot, but needs to edit those anachronisms
Masterpiece Elise Broach Cute animal story, but just didn't do it for me
Martyn Pig Kevin Brooks Martyn hates his alcoholic father, and when Dad dies, Martyn makes some very bad choices
The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk, Bowser the Hound, The Crooked Little Path and The Adventures of Unc'Billy Possum Thornton W. Burgess I still don't know why Burgess' work is out of print...
Steinbeck's Ghost Lewis Buzbee I was worried that the two stories (about the closing of the Salinas PL and the mystery behind some of Steinbeck's stories) would be a problem, but my students seem to really love it
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins This'll be huge. Just huge. Read more here
Lamplighter D. M. Cornish Once I got used to the changes in the language, it was enjoyable. But any book that comes with a glossary is just too much work to start with
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party Ying Chang Compestine Based on Compestine's life growing up during the Cultural Revolution
Not Like You Deborah Davis Yawn
Where I'd Like To Be Frances O'Roark Dowell Reminded me a bit of Sensible Kate
Underground Jean Ferris Historical fiction about the slaves who discovered/mapped Mammouth Cave
The Girl Who Could Fly Victoria Forester Yawn. Been there. Read that.
Jerk, California Jonathan Friesen A must read.
The Possibilities of Sainthood Donna Freitas I wasn't sure if my students could relate to this story of a girl growing up in a Catholic house, but they did!
Death by Latte Linda Gerber Just stay away
The Ghost's Child Sonya Hartnett Been there... and Who Was Victoria did it better.
My America: Our Strange New Land, Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book One Patricia Hermes Good for younger boys
Brooklyn Bridge Karen Hesse Turn-of-the-century Jewish family that helped popularize the Teddy Bear
Do Not Pass Go Kirkpatrick Hill How do you deal when your father is in jail?
The Mouse And His Child Russell Hoban Possibly charming once upon a time, but no longer
The Foretelling Alice Hoffman Too many disjointed elements to be really interesting
Fallout Trudy Krisher Read too much like The Loud Silence of Francine Green
The Devouring Simon Hunt Not scary enough.
Warriors: The Lost Warrior Erin Hunter I don't get why this series is so popular with my Middle School boys, but it is!
RuneWarriors James Jennewein All too obviously the start of a series, and not necessarily worth a follow-up
Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls Lynne Jonell Cute, and worth it for younger Middle School girls
Belle Teal and A Dog's Life: The Autobiography Of A Stray Ann M. Martin The former didn't impress me, but the latter made me cry
Spindle's End Robin McKinley Not quite the Ella Enchanted of the Sleeping Beauty story, but good all the same
Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 Patricia C. McKissack Historical biofiction that left me disappointed in the end
Gods of Manhattan Scott Mebus A mash-up of Un Lun Dun, Neverwhere and the Percy Jackson series, with New York's history thrown into the mix
Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici Carolyn Meyer I'm guessing that the hope is to interest people in the life of Catherine, but I'm not sure that this is the book to do it. Good historical fiction, though.
Harlem Summer Walter Dean Myers Pair it with Dave at Night and you have a winning combo
Friends Everywhere Donna Jo Napoli Words just fail me
The City in the Lake Ruth Neumeier I thought my students would like it. I was wrong
Melting Stones Tamora Pierce The latest from Pierce. 'Nuff said
Sovay Celia Rees Unbelievable. Really - it's that bad
When the Finch Rises Jack Riggs Another in the "been there, read that" column
The Maze Of Bones Rick Riordan Not sure that the conceit behind this series will sustain readers interest; reads like a slightly older version of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Shanghai Shadows Lois Ruby Did you know that Jews escaped the Holocaust by going to Shanghai? Life wasn't much better there, apparently. Read and learn.
The Cabinet of Wonders Mari Rutkoski Another obvious start to a series, and another question why
The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick Great drawings, so-so story, interesting way of tying the two together
Demon Thief Darren Shan Good sequel to Lord Loss and a definite hit with Shan's fans
Blue Jasmine Kashmira Sheth Another girl immigrates to America, this time from India
Skinned Robin Wasserman Who is Lia, really? Along the lines of Being and The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Shadows over Lyra Patricia C. Wrede Great trilogy, seemingly unconnected but with the world of Lyra at their heart
Larry and the Meaning of Life Janet Tashjian Larry doesn't quite know what's going on: is Gus for real? a scam artist? a mixture of both? The answer might surprise you
Tadpole Ruth White So much unrealized potential in this book
The Pit Dragon Trilogy Jane Yolen Need I say more?

Fiction/Literature:
The Steep Approach to Garbadale Iain Banks Dysfunctional, powerful family saga with the Banks touch

Mystery:
A Dedicated Man and Gallows View Peter Robinson With Ian Rankin letting go of Rebus, this is the perfect what-to-read-next
The Vows of Silence, The Risk of Darkness and The Pure in Heart Susan Hill Mysteries that aren't always resolved, and a detective that rivals Dalgliesh in complexity. What's not to love?

Non-Fiction:
Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?: The Play-at-Home Companion Book to the Hit Fox TV Quiz Show! Michael Benson
The Dangerous Book for Boys Conn Iggulden
The Acadians: A People's Story of Exile and Triumph Dean W. Jobb Already reviewed

Number removed from Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 65
Number added to Mt. Bookpile this quarter: 56
Net loss: 9
Status of Mt. Bookpike: 335 books to go!

Links Galore

2.10.08

More book lists

I blogged about the list discussion on Fiction_L and totally forgot that I'd saved this review of the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. (for the complete list, go here)

As with all of these lists, I fall appallingly short. Perhaps if I take a job that requires less "younger" reading, I might do better. For now, though, I'll have to feel comfortable not being "well read" in 20th century literature.

29.9.08

Season's endings

As I've been lying in bed, watching the leaves turn brilliant reds and yellows, I've been pondering how this month has led to so many endings - the end of summer/start of fall (although having it almost be "peak color" right now feels somehow wrong)... end of vacation/start of school... end of baseball regular season/start of post season.

Thing One is a Mets fan, and for two years has watched his team crash-and-burn at this time of the season. Thing Two is a Yankees fan, and that's enough said about that. Both of them are experiencing years in which their team has ended the season at the end of regular season, rather than going on to post season play and potential glory. Both are experiencing a year in which their team's stadium is being torn down in favor of a new one.

When my beloved Celtics left the hallowed Garden for some anonymous, "could-be-any town/any arena" nearby, I was crushed that they'd not left the Garden with another win, another banner. There's a part of me that feels the same for the two New York teams. I'm sure the Things feel the that way, too.

How many days before spring and pitchers-and-catchers?

28.9.08

The bitter and the sweet

Yesterday I attended a symposium at my prep school and stayed for a few other events. I left feeling bittersweet about the day...

One of the people I saw was the wife of a man who was arguably the most important influence on my life. Seeing her again (she was my counselor senior year), talking with her about "back then" and about Jack... It's still difficult for me to imagine my world without him in it.

There was a toast to another teacher, another huge influence on my life; he's retired after 43 years at the school. I used to babysit for his daughters, and both are now distinguished teacher/scholars in their own right. Now there are only three people left that were there when I was there (including "my" school librarian), and one person that started the year after I left. As when I first became a great-aunt (just became one again for the fourth time), it's odd feeling that I've moved up a generation at this school.

Twice during the day, women who had been firstyear students my senior year came up to me - from behind - having recognized me by my hair. A friend, someone I'd work with at MPOW, said that she'd seen my yearbook photo and thought I looked pretty much the same. Hmmm.... it's been almost 30 years. Perhaps time for a new look?

The symposium was about "Women, Power and Possibility" and featured a panel of 20- and 30-something women who had started nonprofits that had some sort of global reach/impact. They were varying degrees of eloquent and poised, presenting themselves and their "passion" as an easy fait accompli. I'll be blogging about the symposium later, but my feelings about the women, about the opportunity and being back at the school made me feel odd.

While I was there I felt that I had unlimited possibility and potential. I've always felt that I haven't lived up to either - that I'm not as intentional as I would want to be, that I haven't achieved the things I could have achieved (and those that I have have come too easily or by happenstance rather than any great skill or accomplishment of my own), and that I'm not the person that my 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old self could have been.

As I said, bittersweet.

25.9.08

Can't stand the pace

I've blogged before about how going fast isn't always the best thing for life. I've also blogged about some of my health issues. One of my goals this year is to practice ECAM (Energy Conservation and Management) to try to bring my health closer to "normal".

Usually, I'm pretty good about getting to bed around 9pm, giving me 7-8 hours sleep per night. However, every now and then things conspire against me. Sunday night was the Emmy's - 11pm bedtime. I'm just starting to recover, but tonight I have a work event that will get me home around 9:30, so figure bed by around 10pm. Saturday I'm out all day. That leaves Sunday in which to go slow and recoup my strength.

Independent schools are notorious for their evening and weekend commitments and the fall is the worst time. Over the next few weekends we have Upper School Open House, Alumni Day and an Admissions Open House. There's the possibility of an Athletics Open House. And at night there's a New Parents Reception and a Middle School Open House (the Lower School Open House was last week). Luckily, I don't have to attend all of them! Still, for those of us with health issues or needing to conserve energy for some reason (or just have a life), it becomes more and more difficult.

Don't expect me to move out of bed on Sundays is all I can say.