Digital Detritus

Life right now is... interesting.  There's good news, in that I'm feeling healthier than I have in a while.  And there's bad news, in that we have this COVID-19 thing that has led to death and an abrupt end to life as we've known it.  The paradox is that the social distancing of the latter has helped move the former in ways I don't think would have happened had I been going into that germ factor we call a school library and I call MPOW.

It's been over two years since I last did one of these posts and do I have links for you!  So without further ado...


Imponderables (Sunday morning edition)

Today's New York Times has this story: G.E., Which Traces Its Roots to Thomas Edison, Sells Its Lighting Business and a part of my past died.  Sunday mornings used to be filled with commercials like this one for BASF:

For years, I joked the BASF made adjectives and adverbs. I'm still not sure they don't.

And GE used to have customer support for everything, including MRIs and nuclear plants:

Can someone tell me: who will now be bringing good things to light?


Everything Old, etc.

I'm old enough to remember the Automat.  My grandfather and father took me in NYC, and it was So Cool that the food just appeared behind the little window!  And I got to pay for it, just by putting coins in the slot!

You can imagine how excited I was to see something similar when I visited Amsterdam:

Eater just had an article saying that a dumpling shop was considering an automat-like model, given that we're in the Age of COVID.  Please — please! more restaurants and bakeries, do this.  And not just because of COVID, but because it's So Cool.


You can't even get there...

45 years ago, movie goers saw this trailer

And five years later, in 1980....

The best part (or so my college BFFs and I thought) was the tag line:

We changed it slightly and would frequently say things (in a creepy voice) like, "Just when you thought it was safe to go to breakfast... you can't even get there"

Good times.

This past February, which feels as though it was about as long ago as the early 80s, the parents association had it's annual appreciation brunch/lunch for the Upper School faculty.  One of the things they do is have -- in addition to amazing food -- is a raffle set up.  There are a number of tables with different prizes, and in front of each is a glass vase into which we put our tickets (each faculty member gets five).  My first year I won Trader Joes gift cards, and this year I won a $200 gift certificate to a local day spa.

Given my various health issues, I haven't been feeling spa-y but I knew that in March I'd be going off most of the medications (turns out I went off even more, but that's a whole other weird medical story) and maybe, just maybe, I'd be feeling up to it.  Reader, I am.

But COVID-19.

Just when I thought it was safe to get a facial and massage... I can't even get there.


I can relate to the fear

I guess it's good that Mt. Bookpile is still close to 300 and I have access to BPL's ebooks!


A Quick Mother's Day Story

People over on Twitter are talking about the ways their mother was a fighter - like not insisting that their daughter's wear longer skirts because boys would get the wrong idea, etc.  Maybe it's me, but I get the feeling that those are younger women and these events happened relatively recently.

Me, I want to celebrate my mother the fighter back in the 70s.  The school district for SmallTown had two K-6 schools and then one K-3 and a 4-6 school in SmallVillage.  Even though we were just over the border of the Village, we were districted into those two schools. The 4-6 school was, to put it mildly, old and decrepit.

How old and decrepit?  My BFF K remembers getting burned by the hot piping in the basement music room.

I attended that school for two years, and then we moved to Switzerland for Daddy's First Sabbatical.  When we returned, it was up the very steep hill to the Junior High, big enough for all of the elementary school students and a much newer building.  But my sister, being five years behind me, was then in second grade and nearing the time when she, too, would be going to the old and decrepit 4-6 school.

Mom, and her friends, agitated and protested so much that they got that school closed down and my sister got to go to the newest of the K-6 schools, the one furthest away from our house.  K's younger sister, luckily, had moved (with K's family) to another city or she would have gone to the expanded K-3 school, even though they lived further from the Village boundaries.  A very famous Children's/Young Adult author's family bought K's house and that's the K-6 school she attended.

My mother was many things, including a fighter.  And I miss her.


Thrice Imponderable

In 2004 I wondered why this word was so popular.

In 2018 it was on the endangered list.

And now, in 2020, I have to wonder whether I should learn the Russian word for defenestration.


Notable Quotes

"For a brief spell, we share a stage. Others are coming to kick us off.  But while you're here, write yourself a good part.  Act it well." He looks around the bar. "Act it well.  There's nothing else to say because there's nothing more to say.  Wisdom is platitudes gussied up."

David Mitchell, Utopia Avenue


Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Given the strangeness of the first third of the year, you'd think I'd either be way behind or way ahead of this year's goal.  Nope.  I'm right on track.  I am reading more eARCs than usual, probably because with conferences being cancelled it's the best way for publishers to get their books into pre-readers hands; the problem is that I can't then pass them along to teachers and students for a second opinion or selection.  Sigh.  Anyway, on with the list:

Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction

Middle Grade/Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction


Still Angry... Still Shocked

Many of my friends and colleagues are shocked and surprised that the majority of my mother's family are Republicans.  They are, but they're the exceedingly rare New England Republican (aka Rockefeller Republican) type, not the currently MAGA-crazed type.  My father's mother and father, on the other hand, were Republicans for the simple reason that FDR refused to allow the St. Louis to dock.  So that's the type of Republican I grew up with.

Thing One's family, on the other hand... The first time I met his youngest brother was at their father's wake.  In reminiscing about their father, K was approving of his father's ability to get a good deal on things, stating, "he could really Jew people down."  Yes.  In 1993.  I was angry and shocked, but it wasn't quite the time or place, plus he didn't know that there was a Jew standing right next to him.  Thing One made it clear later that knowing one's audience was probably a good idea.

Fast forward 27 years to Thursday night.  For some unknown reason, I've been added to his family text group - 11 people strong, but only a few text frequently.  And boy do they text!  I'll be sending an update to my staff or father, and see the unread text numbers increase.  When I wake up the next morning, I read the thread, which usually involves prayers for those working on the front lines of the COVID thing (two nurses, two police) and the teachers in the group, or something innocuous because these people are home and B.O.R.E.D.  Last month the threads ranged from 25 to 93 texts between the five major texters.

Then came Thursday.  In the middle of a group rant about government and opening business and growing marijuana and all that came a text, from K's even younger wife D, about a news story where the Satmars had gathered in Williamsburg to mourn a dead rabbit - a gathering that had to be dispersed because it was a little out of control in this age of social isolation.  Her comment? "The Jews with curls" but she wasn't being racist, it was just the truth.

Not racist?  Maybe.  But definitely anti-Semitic.  And despite the fact that this group knew that I was on the thread, and that Thing One was on the thread (and is half-Jewish on his father's side), no one pushed back.  No one said a word about maybe knowing your audience.  Or that there were other ways to talk about the Hasids (and frum Jews have payos but aren't Hasidic).  Or anything to show that they understood this was an unacceptable comment.

Thing One called the oldest of his sisters and yelled.  I yelled.  We're now (I hope) removed from the text group.  I'm still angry at these people I've known for over 30 years (some of them). Still shocked that in this day and age, someone who is from a background with a very easily applied derogative term would be that stupid in public.  It's just one of the many reasons I never want to see most of them ever again.

As a Quaker, I look for That of God In Everyone.  And I'm trying.  I'm trying really hard.  Stay tuned to see if I can find it in them.



While browsing the other day I saw what looked like a nice, comfortable caftan-esque dress.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm getting just a little tired of always wearing my jammies (at this time of year, a long-sleeved t-shirt and sweatpants) and maybe a caftan thing would be nice.

On the other hand, I know a lot of these companies are, well... let's just call them less than reputable.  So I did some poking around.  Without any links or naming the actual vendor, here's what was on the "About" page:
[vendor] is a leading online retailer of pet products that are smartly functional and stylishly creative. 
Our mission is solely focused on bringing joy and fulfillment towards pets and pet parents. Specifically with products that ease the pain and frustration of pet owners, at the same time providing a better experience for pets in their daily lives. 
We believe that we can change lives by bringing pet parents and pets closer together. Nothing excites us more than achieving our goal.  
We understand that pets can be the center of our lives, and it's our responsibilities to treat them with extra love. 💗
Cheers to all pet parents! 
Connect with us on social media ! to keep updated with new pet products and amazing content.
I don't think I'll be buying anything here.


We've created a monster

Despite being a scientist who brought home a Commodore PET in 197 , in many ways my father is strangely tech resistant.  Getting him to understand that a cell phone was necessary when my parents traveled was difficult, and forget having one that was modern or that was easy to retrieve messages.  Their plan had limited minutes and increasing them was not going to happen.  Not on his watch.  Towards the end of my mother's life we were able to convince him that everyone needed to be able to reach him and that a phone, and plan, that didn't even work within his house was simply a bad idea.

Shortly after her death, Dad had to come to Boston for another family member's funeral and between me and my sister, we cajoled him into getting an iPhone, and attached that to my family plan.  You know that phrase "be careful what you wish for?"  Well....

Yesterday, he was driving Miss Daisy (not her real name) to Wal-Mart and sitting in the parking lot.  And bored.  I'd sent this video to him, my sister and her daughter (we have a text group going):

My sister thought it was called a Zoomba, and, well, the conversation deteriorated from there:

When we were children, sitting in the backseat of the car on long trips Dad would amuse us with a game he called "Oh no!" where a word would be misdefined and I would respond, "oh no! you mean [real word]" and he'd misdefine that.  I could get very creative with how I told him he was wrong, much to my young delight.  My sister rarely played but, well, she got into it yesterday.

Stay tuned for next week's episode of "Waiting for Daisy".


A national theatre?

When I was growing up, the Tony Awards were a way for me to keep track of which shows I wanted to see when I visited Long Island or NYC to see my father's family. There were years when I'd seen a lot of shows, and years when I hadn't seen any.

SmallCity, next to SmallVillage, had a regular touring Broadway show program, and I know that friends of mine now, both back "home" and in places as diverse as Ohio and Seattle, love seeing those shows.  Some times they come to NYC to actually experience the glamour of the Great White Way, but for many, that's not possible or desirable. With the price of tickets even to LORT B or C theater is growing, and with the lure of the small (or miniature) screen growing, the Tony's focus on only Broadway seems less and less relevant.

Perhaps this is an aluminum lining to this dark cloud, but I loved Terry's suggestion that theatre's stream shows and share them with him to review.

He has been reviewing some and letting readers know where and how to find these productions.  In today's column, he said:

Even those companies that ultimately resume more or less normal activities will likely integrate some form of webcasting into their regular operations. Lauren Gunderson, America’s most frequently produced playwright, took to Twitter to argue that pay-per-view webcasts allow theater companies to “connect to new audiences” and “offer art to those who can’t get it.” I agree, and I’ve heard the same thing from nearly every regional artistic director to whom I’ve spoken of late: One way or another, webcasts are here to stay.

Boston has a great theatre scene.  From small to large to Broadway touring, there's a lot going on.  But there are some shows I want to see that aren't here, some acting companies I would love to see at work but never have the opportunity.  While it not as immersive as being in the house with the actors in front of me, if I could see the Alley Theater or the Mark Taper Forum from my couch?  Yes, please.
And then, maybe, the Tony could actually be a national theatre award, not just limited to the shows in a few theatres in NYC but to shows at major companies (or smaller ones, even) nationwide.  And people would be as invested as they are with other awards because they had the opportunity to see the show in question.

It's a thought.


An Anti-Social Butterfly

Back when I was in Junior High (in SmallVillage, the closest schools were K-3, 4-6 for elementary, 7-9 for junior high and 10-11 for senior high) I had a brief flirtation with wanting to be like everyone else.  By nature and, in some ways, nurture, I was happiest with usually one other friend (Hi K!  I hope you, your kids, in-laws and grandkids are doing well with this COVID craziness), the kids across the street, or with my books, reading.  But after K moved, things changed and, well... I tried.

Now, I don't want you to think I was friendless or a pariah, it's just that I wasn't all that socially inclined.  But there were people I'd seen every week, sometimes more than once a week, at either ballet class (don't laugh - I took ballet for eight years) or in Sunday/Saturday School at Temple, as well as classmates with whom I felt comfortable.  However, compared to my sister, who had so many friends and playdates that staying home was considered a serious punishment, I was, well... a loner.

Every fall our Temple had a weeklong sale of used and donated stuff, and my grade took over running the used clothing "booth".  We had fun joking around, selling and stocking and arranging, and because we all went to the same school, the others would make plans for later that day or the weekend; despite having fun at the time, I never joined in those plans.  One day, amid all that, someone mentioned that another friend was the definition of a social butterfly while I was the "anti-social butterfly."  I was neither insulted nor shocked.

Years - ok, decades - have passed and I am still naturally an "anti-social butterfly" and I'm ok with that.  I have friends that I talk to and spend time with (or, in this moment, Zoom with), but I'm just as happy, if not more, to be home with The Herd and Mt. Bookpile.

I've been reading a lot of articles and seeing videos and television snips about dealing with the isolation and feeling of being removed from society.  All I can think is that the previous 50+ years have been training for just this moment and that for all anti-social butterflies out there, this is our moment!  Let's grab it and celebrate how prepared we are.


The Goldilocks Screen

Thing Two has a binary movie classification scheme that goes See / WAR (Wait And Rent - although that Rent might really be Stream).  In this day and age of social distancing and movie theatre closures, everything is "WARS" now.  The same closure applies to the live theatre, and the moment it became clear that was going to happen, Terry started to put out the following plea:

Then, today, he published a review of Syracuse Stage's production of Amadeus.  He watched the production at home, via his MacbookPro, which made me think about streaming in general.

Over the past few years, I've realized that very few movies I'd want to watch require the so-called Big Screen.  But the idea of watching on my laptop, a tablet or (even worse) my phone would lose far too much detail and honestly, who needs to squint that much?  But!  There is a screen that is "just right" - my television.  The bedroom tv can get Netflix, Acorn and Britbox which is perfect for most smaller fare.  However, if I'm streaming something like Amadeus (the stage version, not the movie) or the new National Theatre streams, I'll go to the living room's larger (40") screen.  There's even an HDMI cable I can use to mirror my laptop if the web-enabled stuff doesn't work.

It's just right.


Flashing back

Way back when, when I was in college, I joined a fraternity (stop me if you've heard this before).

We were unlike the other Greeks on campus, being the only group to go co-ed when the college went co-ed (by my senior year, we billed ourselves as a "co-educational, non-discriminatory alternative housing arrangement").  Plus we weren't part of national organization.  So, poor.  When we had our House Meetings, entry was allowed under one condition: bring a roll of toilet paper.

Just now I texted my father, who still lives in SmallVillage near the college and asked him how the toilet paper situation was where he is.  Later today he's sending me a care package of two rolls.  Not because I'm poor or can't afford my own: because I can't find any here.  It's been two weeks with none on the shelves.  Same with tissues, paper napkins, wipes and diapers.  However, if you need paper plates there's an abundance.  

And because if you can't laugh, you'll cry:


It's ok to feel

I'm not sure it's grief, but maybe?  As I've been getting ready for classes to start up and figuring out life social isolated from the world, I've also been feeling a great sense of sadness for:
  • friends like Terry, unable to be near Mrs. T as she recovers from her long-awaited double lung transplant, 
  • a high school friend who has been battling cancer for 30ish years and is at serous risk from this yet needs therapy,
  • my father, who can't socialize with his friends or attend his art class, both of which have helped him heal from my mother's death,
  • the fear that my aunts, uncle and older cousins, or older friends, will get sick and I won't be able to help,
  • all the people I know who have lost their jobs and may never get them back because the restaurant or store won't reopen soon,
  • not being able to see my friends at the four conferences between today and late June that have been cancelled,
  • students who don't know how their parents are doing or if they'll be able to get home to see them.
I'm also angry at our government for playing politics with people's lives.  We had time to better prepare.  We deserve better than what we've got now, a president who cares only about his "ratings" and pocket, and a Congress who can't get over partisanship to figure out a way to help people.  

I'm also terrified because I'm immunocompromised and are terrified I'll get this, That things won't go back to something like normal.  

The one thing I do know: it's ok to feel all those things. 



And I'm off?

Just over a week ago, and despite my lack of an immune system (and COVID-19), I'd planned to go off to Lisbon with Things One and Four.


And now?

I'm home, with a huge To Do list, many ARCs to read and lots on my streaming queue.  I'll let Marianne Faithful speak for me:

And now, it's time to snerdle.  Don't know that word?  


When fears come (partially) true

Nearly ten years ago I realized that I'd have to do something about The Collection.  It pained me to admit that yes, I had a problem.  That I was a philobibblian who also craved a sense of minimalism.  So I decided to release books that - to use Marie Kondo's phrase - no longer brought me joy.

The criteria I used was based on the following imaginary premise:
  1. We were in the middle of a pandemic (remember the H1N1 virus?) and
  2. Publishing had ceased due to
  3. Everyone being quarantined indefinitely
Given those parameters, and excluding Mt. Bookpile, would I reread this particular book?

For nearly half of The Collection, the answer was "nope.  not gonna happen."  Since then, I've been pretty careful with what goes into The Collection and those books that don't go into the Read and Release Program.

And now, here comes COVID-19 gathering steam...


Finding my level

I've talked before about how I just don't care if you read or not (unless, that is, you're supposed to read, like, oh, I dunno, POTUS is supposed to read).  The corollary to that is I don't care what you read.  One of the big bugaboos in school libraryland is the whole idea of book levels or lexiles or AR range. So this tweet got my grannyknickers in a twist:

When I was in sixth grade, I'd already read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as The Count of Monte Cristo.  So what if I wanted to read all the Nancy Drews in the library?  And who cares that now I read everything from the middle grade to adult and all kinds of genres?

Folks, don't limit your kids.  They may grow up to be readers like me.


Always funny

Ok, maybe it's not funny to anyone else, but I read Terry's review of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and it made me smile.  Not for the obvious reasons, however.

I'm old enough to remember when the original film was released, although I wasn't old enough to see it (still haven't, all these years later).  My generation, those who remember the movie or, at least, the title, have treated it as something of a joke

However, in my family, it was more than a joke.  You see, ten years before the movie, my parents had gotten married.  Mom, trying to play match maker, had paired up her two brothers with two sisters she knew from college.  And here's where the funny part comes in.  You see, my uncles were named Bob and Paul.  And those two sisters were Carol and Alice.  So in my family, to me at least, the title was Bob & Carol & Paul & Alice.

As I said, YMMV on the funny.


Finding Balance

On the minus side:
  • It’s been 20 years since pain led to the discovery of osteoarthritis in my lower back
  • It’s been 18 years since my gall-bladder was removed
  • It’s been 17 years since a two-year bout of mono left me with chronic fatigue
  • It’s been 10 years since I was told that the lack of cartilage in my knees meant that in another three years, I could have knee replacement surgery (both are still original equipment)
  • It’s been four years since CRION became part of my life
  • It’s been one year since my mother died

On the plus side:
  • It’s been 40 years since I met Thing Three, 38 since I met Thing Two, 32 since I met Thing One and 14 since I met Thing Four - someThings are just right
  • It’s been 31 years since my first cat chose me as his human and nine catchildren later I can’t imagine life without them
  • It’s been 26 years since my first library job
  • It’s been 22 years since I joined TheReadersVine and met friends like Aravis, Camillofan, Wyndham, Ponderable and Puffin
  • It’s been five years since I moved back to my hometown.
  • It’s been two years since the CRION stabilized.

Overall, I’d say the pluses outweigh the minuses.  Yes, the latter are mostly physical ailments. But the friendships, catcuddles, job satisfaction and sense of belonging outweigh all the minor aches and severe pains.

At the start of another trip around the sun, it’s good to remember that.


My #GirlDad

My sister and I are adopted and my mother once told me that at about the time they were preparing for her arrival word also came that there was a boy available, two weeks older than my sister. They felt that two young’uns at once would be too much, plus the age difference would make birthday celebrations odd. Later, I wondered if my father ever regretted having two daughters, rather than a son.

Reflecting, I thought better of that. Dad didn’t miss having a son because he didn’t think about the difference in traditional ways. For example:

  • When I was six, he got a Heathkit color tv and taught me to solder so I could help build it.
  • He taught me basic carpentry and together we made an end table for my bedroom. Then he bought me a child’s carpentry kit, complete with plane, which he taught me to use.
  • We would watch Celtics games together, eating peanuts (he’d even let me sip his beer).

He never let me or my sister think that there was anything we couldn’t do or achieve in any endeavor. Just this past weekend he said that we’d both grown up to be strong, capable and assertive women. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of any #girldad?



Some people think I'm a pedant, but I'd wager that at times mkeagle gives me a run for my money.  Need proof?

Why people say these things is beyond me.  And her, apparently.


Looking Backward and Forward (aka a Belated New Year's Meme)

I've cribbed from Philosophy Mom before, so why stop now?

Given that this past New Year's was the first anniversary of my mother's death, I wasn't really ready to do this.  But now, a few weeks later, it's time to close out 2019 and start 2020.  So here goes!

1. What did you do in 2019 that you'd never done before?

The obvious answer is "buried my mother", right?  And along with that goes the confronting of my mortality and the more real possibility that my father won't always be here (no, I wasn't thinking of him as immortal, but still...).

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

No.  I did set a few intentions, but between dealing with family and health many of them didn't really come to fruition.  We'll see about this year, when getting physically healthy will be the primary goal.  Mental health will play a large part in that, as stress eating leads to all sorts of other issues...

3. Did anyone close to you get married?

Not that I'm aware of.  And clearly, if they did and I don't know, we're not that close, right?

4. Did anyone close to you get divorced?

Again, not as far as I'm aware.

5. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Physically close? Yes.  Several colleagues.  But emotionally close?  See my answers to 3 and 4.

6. Did anyone close to you die?

Say it with me: my mother.  And then there was my father's best friend (watching him deliver that eulogy was as difficult as the one he gave Mom).  And my cousin's husband.

7. What countries did you visit?

Canada and the Netherlands.

8. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?

Good health.  Less emotional stress.

9. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving.  I know, that sounds trite.  But there was emotional stuff to deal with beyond my mother's death and just making it to work daily was a huge achievement.

10. What was your biggest failure?

There's one personal relationship that took a serious hit in late May.  Things are slightly better now, but it still causes me to feel guilt and stress.

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My eye was stable (has been for about two years now) for the year, so perhaps I could celebrate the opposite of injury.  And when you're on immunosuppressants and working in a school, illness is just a given.  Unlike 2017, with the Cough That Ate Winter Break, having a head cold for about two months doesn't seem like such a big deal.

12. What was the best thing you bought?

There wasn't anything I bought (beyond the trip to Amsterdam, so perhaps I'll claim that as the best purchase of 2019), but I got two great gifts at the end of the year.  The first was/is a Cuisinart Programmable Kettle.  It has totally revolutionized my tea drinking, and I drink a lot of tea!  The second was keeping with my ability to not buy my own television.  The old one dated from 2006 and was working just fine except... it was a CRT "dumb" tv, and while I could access Netflix and Acorn using Xfinity, BritBox wasn't available.  Now it is, which means I can watch EastEnders on time!

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?

This might not be "behavior" but my father has done so well this year.  He was never the most social person, and it was a little worrisome that he was now alone in the house.  Silly me!  He's found people to spend time with (mostly friends of my mother), visited family in Colorado and Canada, and even participated in a professional conference.

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Most politicians, on both sides.  The Republicans because, well... and the Democrats because they're focusing on winning in 2020 by presenting plans that are largely unworkable (for example, do anyone really think that Medicaid-for-All will pass the House and Senate?  what are those politicians plans not just to propose change but to help it get through the legislative process???)

15. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, both personal and professional.  Increasing my ink, pen and tea collections.  Some clothing (how certain items all seem to need replacing at the same time is one of life's mysteries).

16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Tapering off my drugs.  At the start of 2019 I took 17 pills daily (13 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon), and by January 1 I was down to 7.  My hope is to get back to 3 (including my multi-vitamin) by the summer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? happier by a slight margin
thinner or fatter? same as last year
richer or poorer? same as last year

Equilibrium is good, right?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Being more sensitive to others despite being depressed and in mourning.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Stress eating. Binge watching tv.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

I think of it as Jewmas, so the traditional Chinese meal (and a Netflix movie, not one in the theatre)

21. How did you bring in the New Year?

Remembering my mother.

22. Did you fall in love?

Next question.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Leaving aside the binge watching stuff, and a program I've watched since 1985... or another political (including PMQs)… The Great British Baking Show was a new favorite, and the revamped Q and A. Succession.

24. What was the best book you read?

Wow.  Um... There were a bunch of five star books last year.  You want me to choose one??

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

None.  I stuck with tried-and-true.   Yeah, I know.  Borrrrring.

26. What was your favorite film of the year?

Didn't make it to the Big Screen, but via Netflix I watched The Post and Tea with the Dames and would highly recommend them to anyone.

27. What was your favorite live performance?

Two very different ones: Mark Morris Company and Eddie Izzard.  Both came just when I needed them.

28. What did you want and get?

Time to really think about my life going forward.  A great pen-and-ink box (thanks to my father).

29. What did you want and not get?

Answers to some questions regarding a couple of people at work.  More time with my mother.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Nothing beyond going out for dinner.  With everything going on, celebrating wasn't something I wanted to do.  As for age, let's just say I'm "a lady of a certain age".

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to retire or work part-time (don't get me wrong, I love my work, but I need a break - and not one in the summer, when the heat saps all my energy)

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?

My what???

33. What kept you sane?

The Herd.  Friends.  The Things.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

There's no way to describe the angst and anger at the idiocy of all political figures.

36. Whom did you miss?

Mom. HS friends that gathered when I wasn't able to make it.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

Beyond new people at work, I'd say my sister's daughter (whom I'd met a few times before, but this year I feel as though I've really gotten to know and like her).

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.

It was more of a reminder: people don't always tell you how they feel about you until it's too late.

39. What was your favorite moment of the year?
One evening spent with good friends and good food and drink.

40. What was your least favorite moment of the year?

The day of my mother's funeral and the day of her internment.

41. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2019 and change something, what would it be?

In one case, I'm not sure it's a moment but I'd take better care of one relationship.  In the other, I wouldn't come in to work when I wasn't really able to be 100% there and said something really stupid.

42. What are your plans for 2020?

A trip to Lisbon.  Moving to a new apartment,  Possibly buying a new car.  Keeping things together at work and home better than I managed to do last year.  Working on my physical and emotional health.


Notable Quotes

... but Michael was too tired to fall asleep.  He listened to his Walkman.  Laurie Anderson sang, "O Superman," a chant of such profundity and nonsense that washed over him like the shower, a nice, hot shower... 
"Hi, I'm not home right now," Laurie Anderson said, "but if you want to leave a message, just start talking at the sound of the tone ha ha ha ha ha ha..." Michael had put this part of "O Superman" on their answering machine.  
One night, when they got back from dinner, Daphne played back their messages and they heard, in her mother's nervous voice, the next line of the song, "Hello. It's your mother. Are you there?"
The Grammarians, Charlotte Schine

(honestly, who didn't do this back in the day?)


The language of love

Over the past 30+ years, I have nine cats.  From Howard through to the three now curled up in my bedroom, they've all had very different personalities and speaking patterns.

We know that cats don't vocalize to each other (how they communicate is still a mystery to me, although I'm holding out for telepathy) but they do vocalize to their humans.  Some of the nine have been quite vocal, to the point where you can virtually have a conversation with them - of course, it's quite a bit like this video, except with a cat:

Right now, we have two that chirp.  One makes those "ack" noises and squeaks, yet doesn't have a real meow.  The other has a meow and has perfected her cooing noises.  Both girls are also good at yelling at me when they're hungry or when they think it's time for their bedtime treats.  As the saying goes, dogs have owners, cats have staff.

And then there's our strong, silent boy.  The only noises he makes (beyond snoring) are variants on a hiss - some are angry, but most are just commentary.  For example, when I'm doing bedtime treats, he'll hiss briefly, but his ears aren't back and he's happy to be scratched (a little, he's not a big cuddler). Or when he's perched on top of the mattress we really need to throw away, he'll hiss a hello.  Since he's 12 years old, I'm guessing that's as good as it gets from him.  Still, I know he loves me.


2019 Year-End Reading Round-Up

Another year with 305 books read, just barely going over the goal of 300 for the year.  Reviews are over at the reading blog, but again some didn't get reviewed because they were either picture books I "read" for MPOW's Mock Caldecott, while others fell into the "you can't talk about this" category for the Book Award Committee.

So... here's the 2019 reading analysis (2018 numbers in parens):
number of books read in 2019: 305 (305)
best month: August/50 (December/59)
worst month: April/15 (January/15)
average read per month:  24.4 (24.4)
adult fiction as percentage of total: 20 (14)
children's/YA fiction as percentage of total:  18 (18)

Advance Readers Copies: 257 (163)
e-books: 0 (0)
books read that were published in 2019: 256 (4)
books that will be published in the 2020: 36
five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  30 (21)
one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 11 (11)

While Mt. Bookpile was 255 this time last year, it's at 278  now.  And that's not counting books I can't talk about!  Goal for 2020?  300 books again.  And a hope that I can read more from Mt. Bookpile (maybe 50?) than I do ARCs.  We'll see!