Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Year end: Made my goal by the skin of my teeth.  In part it's because the work day never really ends, and in part it's because I've been glued to the tv (binge watching series or the news) and, of course, doomscrolling.  

Middle Grade/Young Adult Fiction
Middle Grade/Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Middle Grade/Young Adult Suspense
Speculative Fiction


Have you heard the word(s)?

 It's time for the Word of the Year... except this year, there are far too many!  Because 2020.  

I've blogged about this before, and it's always interesting to see how the WotY reflects what's going on (although there are times when it's a little confusing as to why that word).  Earlier this week I attended an event (sponsored by Atlas Obscura) with @lynneguist as she discussed how different entities come up with their version, what some of the words are, and even what some of the non-English WotYs are (more on that later).  

First off, of course the NYTimes has to weigh in.  In this case, there are 20 phrases that (they think) defined 2020, including blursday (isn't every day blursday now? forget the month, I just want to know the day of the week!) and doomscrolling (which I doubt will end on Jan 20th, although many think it will).  Not to be outdone, WaPo asked readers to come up with one word and I absolutely agree with it: exhausting!

Lynneguist spoke about the American Dialect Institute's words, voted on by the membership. Somewhat boringly, they came up with COVIDMerriam-Webster and Dictionary.com go by user searches, which again, boringly, was pandemic (even Lynne made the mistake of saying "global pandemic", which is redundant /pedant). 

After going through a lot of words, including the portmanteaus that cropped up, like covidiot and quarantini, we finally got to the words that were the WotYs in other countries.  There were two that caught my ear, and I highly recommend we start using them asap:

Knuffelcontact (Flemish) – "hug buddy" (and here, by "using" I mean finding and using!)

Hamsterkauf (German) – "panic buying" (and after the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020, didn't we all indulge?)

I'm sure there are other words out there, but I'm pretty much done with 2020.  I think.  I'm pretty sure it's not 2021 yet... right?



 My college professor father taught 18-22-year-olds for about 40 years, starting as a TA while getting his doctorate through his retirement.  For quite some time he was young-seeming, but aged a lot in the 15 or so minutes it took for him to drop me off at my dorm and for me to walk into his classroom: suddenly, he was old enough to have a daughter in his class.

Working in schools, I don't feel old either (although I know I'm older than my students are, especially the K-5 students!).  There are occasions when time slips away, when I think something happened recently but it was actually some time ago.  Usually it doesn't bother me, though.

Last night, for some reason, I was thinking about my father and his mother.  It suddenly occurred to me that by the time my grandmother was my age,  she was already my grandmother.  

And wham! I realized: I'm old. 

How did that happen?


Enough already

 There was an op-ed in the WSJ this weekend that's gotten a lot of people's attention and drawn many comments and airtime.  Here's the beginning:

First of all, it's clear that the author just wants to stir things up (mission accomplished).

Second, does it really matter what honorific Jill Biden uses?  

In schools it's now expected that we, faculty and students, share our pronouns.  The rationale is, in part, to help students feel safe sharing their identities with us and for them to feel accepted for who they are.  I read one article that suggests that perhaps the options have gotten a little out of hand, and at least at MPOW they aren't there... yet.  

The next step is obviously honorifics.  At a recent faculty meeting we were encouraged to think about what honorific we were using and whether it was gendered (Ms., Mrs, Mr.) or not (Dr., Coach).  As a substitute for the gendered version, Mx. was recommended or we could just use our first names or last names.  Now, that last part just doesn't work for me.  Using my last name is a little too much like I'm in the army.  I've used my first name at a Quaker school and at the school previous to the one I worked in, but that's rarely the culture of the school.  And Mx.?  One of my staff suggested "Minx" (I think she was joking) but I'm just nixing Mx.  Using a gendered honorific is like sharing my pronouns - if I'm using Ms/Miss, then students can assume she/her/hers, right?

As for Dr. well... Some schools are incredibly proud of the number of faculty who have doctorates and insist on using Dr. whether or not the faculty member wants to.  My father has his PhD and always said that his degrees stood for "BullSh*t", "More sh*t", "Piled high and Deep" (no, he didn't make that all up).  Getting tenure and being a full professor was more important, so his preference was for Professor Lazygal's Dad.  And as an academic snob, he feels that anyone in secondary education who was not a medical doctor who used Dr. was simply someone who couldn't make it in a college/university job (note: I'm repeating his thoughts, not saying that I agree with them).

Me?  Well, I'll share my pronouns within my school (most of my non-academic friends won't understand) and I'll keep using a gendered pronoun.  And if we can move on from this silly season giving the op-ed more attention than it deserves, well, I'll be grateful.

January Dreaming

 Rumor has it that there will be a 2024 campaign announcement/superspreader event rally on January 20th.  Maybe even around noon.  

So here's my dream: shortly after, the same people behind the Lincoln Project and RVAT announce the formation of a new political party and have a few senators and representatives declare they're switching affiliation.  Maybe even have someone declare their presidential campaign.  

It would draw focus from both the Inauguration and the Pouty-Boy-Who-Lost events, which is a glass half-full situation but still... it's nice to dream that could happen.


Looking for gifts?

Here are some of the places I've looked at to buy gifts over the past few months.  Note: I have no relationship to any of the sites nor have I always purchased something there (but I have considered it).  

Happy Shopping! (ps - Hanukkah started last night, and Christmas is in two weeks)



 Because of the disruptions caused by COVID, once a week I try to "support a local" and order takeaway.  This was on the menu I was exploring earlier today:

(insert head banging into wall)


The things I'll miss (kind of)

Last month I read What will the press do without Trump and What happens to CNN and MSNBC if Biden wins which got me thinking about the twitter accounts I follow, the news I watch and the news I read.  I mean, The Trump presidency is ending and so will Maggie Haberman's wild ride!

Unlike some, I know who won the election and I'm looking forward to a quieter presidency.  However it would be silly to assume that the current POTUS will go quietly, particularly since he's threatening a 2024 run (all the better to continue those truth-free zone rallies) and will likely face multiple legal battles.  My prayer is that networks that consider themselves to be news organizations don't cover the rallies or the tweets in detail until the midterms.  Honestly, no potential candidates should be covered in depth until the midterms.  This "campaign creep" has got to stop!  Two years, max, for president; one year for senatorial and less for house candidates.  Perpetual campaign seasons lead to a disconnected electorate as they tune out and drop out of the process.  

Many people don't know this, but I was pre-law in college.  So I enjoy looking at what I think of as interesting takes on the legal system and currently there are several twitter feeds I follow that are commenting on the election challenge lawsuits.  How much work will they have once those end?  People like Joyce Vance and Barbara McQuade and Matthew Miller are barely on MSNBC commenting on legal issues, and Ari Melber has virtually no legal content (even when he could do an entire show on them, he follows the rest of the shows into the umpteenth iteration of discussing the same stories that were being discussed all day).

There are several very brave souls who watch the various "super spreader events" and share snippets of idiocy and fact-free ranting.  What will they do?  How will the beefed up fact checking departments handle the lack of presidential content?  

I'll miss those things.  On the other hand, I won't miss the constant assault on our ears and eyes and being challenged to believe in an alternate reality (or alternate facts)!  





In case it's not clear to you, my reader: 

  1. Jews don't go to church
  2. The holiest time in the calendar for Jews are the Days of Awe, usually September/October
  3. There is no Judeo-Christian calendar.  It's the Gregorian Calendar, which has become the majority global default calendar.  Even within Christianity, there is another calendar (used by the Eastern Orthodox).