It's a Mini-Me!

I don't celebrate Hallowe'en, but when you're at a school it becomes difficult to ignore the day's festivities. So I decided to go with a mini-me approach to the whole dressing up thing:
(me and mini-me)

(mini-me at work)


Blog Challenge... Week Three

Lovely - my life as a mathematician is this week's prompt. It also comes at the same time as I read Scott McLeod's post asking How Much Math Do You Really Need in Everyday Life.

Perhaps the best way to describe my relationship with the idea of math is to say "fraught." I'm reasonably good with a calculator, and I balance my departmental budget monthly using Quicken. Beyond that... it's not pretty. I think the Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics (aka "Dad") once said that I was good at arithmetic but not at math (I could have that backwards, or totally wrong). Actually, I blame my year in Switzerland for all my maths issues. That and a serious case of "I'm not my father's daughter" (and yes, I'm nearly 50. rebellion dies hard in some places. just ask Chechnya.)

You see, that year was one in which I learned New Math.

New Math's not bad (I can still do bases, thank you very much Ms. Webster!), but it wasn't what my classmates back in SmallTown were doing and so I technically lost a year math-wise.

The other problem is that no one - and I mean no one - that taught me math ever once said "and here's how you'll use this in real life". Seriously, if I've ever done anything with f(x) since taking calculus, would someone please tell me when and where and how. Because I don't think I have. So there. The exception, of course, was Accounting, which I use almost daily (I create GJAs for our Business Office, and could even do manual double entry bookkeeping if called upon).

Now, of course, there's a learned helplessness and reliance on others (Thing One, The Emeritus Professor..., the Head of our Math Department) for certain things. Maybe one of these days I'll overcome my math phobia and....

Nah. Won't happen.



Every week in my mail I get a Pennysaver filled with local ads and with several glossy ads from national/regional businesses. Imagine my surprise when I found an AARP membership envelope!

Now, thanks to Thing One I'm already an AARP member (it's actually my second stint at AARP membership; the first was when I was 25 and working for SSC, which handled the mutual funds AARP offered - membership was an employment "perk"). So I'm not so worried about losing out on their offerings. What I'm worried about it the assumption that someone, somewhere, in this great and glorious country of ours, hasn't heard about AARP yet.

Oh, and could someone please explain why, with retirement benefits being delayed until 67(ish), why do they push membership starting at age 50?


Blog Challenge.... Week Two

This week it's a class poll.  So... hmm... what do I want to know from my vast legion of readers?

What's the one read (could be blog, a newspaper, or a book genre) you can't live without?

Answers below, please!


Notable Quotes

Have you ever wondered what the stretch of time smells like? I can't say I had, not before I set foot inside Milderhurst Castle, but I certainly know now. Mould and ammonia, a pinch of lavender and a fair whack of dust, the mass disintegration of very old sheets of paper. And there's something else, too, something underlying it all, something verging on rotten or stewed but not. It took me a while to work out what that smell was, but I think I know now. It's the past. Thoughts and dreams, hopes and hurts, all brewed together, shifting in the stagnant air, unable ever to dissipate complet ely.
The Distant Hours, Kate Morton


Feeling the urge...

Some people feel the need for speed... right now, I'm feeling the urge to purge.

My last clutter kick (including this) was inspired by the Awful Events at MPOW. This one is inspired by another Awful Event, this time a fire that burned some of my xlaws out of house and home.

Time to really get to work on my closets and the assorted junk lying around this house. I may even tell my sister that the hippo is hers...


Blog Challenge... Week One

This week's prompt is
What is your life as a reader like? Do you read for work, pleasure, instructions or emails? What is your favorite author and/or genre? What is your favorite reading spot? What did you like to read when you were the age of your students?
Wow. What a way to start... and I'm a little stumped. What is my life as a reader like?

Voracious. Necessary. Omnigenre. And faster than your average bear. Just look at the Notes from Bookpile posts.

My parents taught me to read early - very early. My first book was a vanity press book called Bobo the Clown, written, designed and published by Mike Milder. I think my parents still have it. Honestly, I don't remember a time when I didn't (or couldn't) read. When I was younger, books were better friends than most people. And yes, I started 'cataloging' and organizing my books early on.

In 1973 I was introduced to a world of reading beyond that in SmallTown - we lived in Geneva Switzerland that year and I found Enid Blyton and Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. I've collected their works ever since. I also read the old-fashioned books that my parents had read: Louisa May Alcott's books, some of the Pollyanna series, Hans Brinker... Because the Scholastic Book Club was around back then, I also picked up books like Shadow Castle (one of my favorites). And then there was my aunt, who gave books as gifts (although to this day I'm stymied as to why anyone would think that the transcripts of the Commission on the Attica uprising was appropriate for a middle school student). I also remember a contest my fifth grade teacher had where we reported how many pages we'd read each week; she didn't actually believe I read things like The Count of Monte Cristo in three days.  Oh - and Audrey Rose gave me my life-long interest in Jungian archetypes (thank you Robertson Davies for the Deptford Trilogy!)

By the time I got to high school, I was reading just about anything - and lucky for me the books assigned in class were challenging. I also dabbled quite heavily in "bodice rippers" and porn (hey, it was an all-girl's boarding school - sue me). College was a time to branch out, and I remember the look on one friend's face when I read the first of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenent the Unbeliever overnight.

My first job out of college was working in a box office: long hours all alone waiting for someone to buy a ticket. Solution? The secondhand bookstore in town, where I was able to buy just about every Nero Wolfe mystery written. Since then, I've put over 3000 books into The Collection. While I read a great deal of Children's/YA literature, my preference is for dark mysteries... although I love Wendy's comfort reads, interesting vampire books (more Tanith Lee and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, less Stephanie Meyer), non-fiction about personal passions (like the Acadians). See? Omnigenre.

The 321 books on Mt. Bookpile are from all genres, and I'm looking forward to curling up in bed or in front of my fireplace, with The Boys, and reading all of them. Heaven would be an all-expense paid sabbatical to just read read read.

Links Galore


Annotated Webclutter

  • I've been feeling sick the past month, so this list of comfort reads certainly helps in the healing department. (þ: Wendy) Yes, I've already read a number of them, but the new ones are on my To Buy In Case of Illness list.  On the other hand, the unreads on this list of Killer Thrillers would also do nicely...
  • While I don't usually do challenges, Wendy pointed me towards this one and ya know, I think I'll participate. Stay tuned for a weekly post on... well... you'll just have to wait and see, won't you?


Just talk to me

I'm back from my second visit to the doctor in two weeks (congratulations, Ms. Lazygal, it's a sinus infection - and doesn't it make a nice follow-up to last week's upper respiratory infection?). 

While I'm admittedly a bit old-fashioned about some things, there are things that it's right to be old-fashioned about.  Doctors, for example.  Now, I'm not complaining about the fact that with a few quick keystrokes my doctor can send a prescription to the pharmacy, or about the fact that my doctors are all aware of my various conditions and medications.  That's probably all for the best, right?  Safer, more holistic, etc..

What bothers me is that my doctor spends more time typing into her computer than she does talking to me.  I feel like I have to repeat everything at least three times before she hears me - and even then I'm not sure whether it's fully sunk in.  My former doctor did listen.  Even better, she looked at me when I was talking to her.  This one?  Not so much. 

Are all other doctors doing to be the same, or should I look for a new one?

From blech to mediocre

Poor Thing One: HPOW has been going through the From Good to Great process.  Problem is, they didn't start at "good" - just getting there would be a start.  Will Manley posted about all the different management theories that he'd been through.  Makes one wonder why, doesn't it?  If the institution is so in need of reogranization, of shaking up the "how we do things" that they go through process and process and process, it seems to me that one more isn't going to help.

What would help - and I've worked for companies that have gone through these programs, too - is if management stopped paying for "experts" to advise and manage, and started really listening to the people at the bottom levels.  It may make a Managing Partner feel as though he is listening to The Little People, but until there is honest assessment from the bottom up as to what would make the company "great"...

Corporate culture is delivered top down ("trickle down", to be accurate).  Yet for true change to happen you need more of an upside down approach.   I've yet to see that happen at any POW I've known about.


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Yep, here's my quarterly round-up. Reviews are over on Killin' Time Reading...

Children's/Young Adult
Science Fiction/Fantasy

Books on Mt. Bookpile: 322
Added: 7
Net gain/loss: 60 loss(!!)


Better late than never?

Most people that know me would say that I'm a pretty straight-edged person - there's no real wild child hiding inside, it's more a mild child. As Mr. Franklin suggests, I'm early to bed, early to rise, even more so as 50 approaches and 40 rapidly disappears 'round the bend (30 - not to mention 20 - are distant memories).

So imagine my surprise when I realized the other night that in the past few years I've been to concerts at Irving Plaza, Webster Hall, Highline Ballroom and Mercury Lounge!

What's next? Raves**?

**do they even have raves any more?