Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day! ---And Hedgehog by Email

Happy Leap Day! Can't say there will be anything dreadfully exciting in today's efforts to hop everywhere instead of walk--other than that my legs are going to get tired and it's going to be creative hopping on the ice covered parking lot. What? You're not hopping?

One hop? Just for me?

I have a better excuse than most to hop at work-- toddler story time generally allows one to get away with all kinds of bizarre behavior that adults would normally find unusual. On Wednesdays one finds me hopping, spinning, and always doing a rousing, ever faster round of head and shoulders. Last week was lion story time--- you can imagine how hoarse I was by the time we finished all of the roaring.

Feedburner, which tracks all the pointed out a new option for me--Hedgehog Via Email. If you're just stumbling upon the blog, you now have the option to subscribe either by RSS or email, depending on what's more convenient for you. I promise I won't sell your email address or use it for anything other than following the random pieces of my brain that escape and turn into blog posts.

Welcome to the Blonde, the Brunette, and My-Friend-the-Lawyer, who've all finally succumbed to me chattering about this blog I write.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Please Won't You Be My Neighbor

In Honor of Fred Rogers, whose gentle voice made so many wonderful memories for all of us:

Won't You By My Neighbor Day on Mr. Rogers' Birthday, March 20, 2008.

Thanks to Stevi for the heads up!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some "Liberry" Humor

From Overheard in New York--some light "reading" humor.

This site often has phrases and words that may not be work appropriate--this post is pretty neutral.

Monday, February 25, 2008

That Issue of Complexity in the Job of a Librarian

I've been trying to decide how best to write about the recent news story sprung here in the frozen tundra about librarian demotion. The two news stories that have been published have so many contradicting statements in them that I can hardly make heads or tails of the situation. And this evening I heard that the staff and director have been advised to say nothing further on the situation. So other than expressing frustration that the director decided to cut the pay of her staff but shows no sign of taking a pay cut herself, I think I'll stay away from what is at best a confusing, sticky, and highly dissatisfying situation.

I will just take a small quantity of umbrage to the comment she did seem to be allowed to make on record--regarding the complexity of public librarianship. Her opinion is that librarians are doing less complex work these days. I disagree.

Librarians in this brave and still relatively new 21st century are faced not only with the print resources that have served us since faithfully since Alexandria, we are now challenged with a conglomeration of resources coming at us in myriad print and electronic formats.(1) No longer faced with 'merely' the traditional responsibilities of collection development, research assistance, and lots of ready reference (phone numbers, etc)--we now take on the tasks of early literacy education, genealogy research assistance, and technical support--to name only a few. Add to that the fact that to read library jobs ads these days is like looking for a computer guru on the cheap with a Masters degree and you begin to scratch the surface of why I suggest some complexity might yet be found.

Computer science positions are the up and coming way to make money--this was a belief almost universally held when I was in high school.(2) I would argue that knowing computers, networking, computer programming language, and systems management are still very solid careers that afford quite decent salaries. In example of this I know two young men who are living in the Chicago area and making six figures doing something along those lines--and both have changed places of employment within the last six months. (3) While I spent six months looking for a job in Chicago--both lost their jobs due to companies folding and had interviews within 24 hours. Clearly, the talent of people good with computers is highly valued.

Then one reads library science job ads. No longer content to have people who are capable of organization and understanding of information and its structures and who are able to do research and assist others in learning how to conduct it--or how to find the Curious George picture books--now we're also asked to be web designers, database designers and administrators, network administrators, systems managers, computer programmers and of course well versed in all the current programming languages. In the reflection of at least one web designer I know, this means many amateurs are stuck struggling to compete against or at least do as well as professionals for whom this is their entire job--rather than just a small portion of it.

I'm not arguing that librarian education involving computers is unnecessary. Quite the contrary. I supported myself with the freelance design work that came out of a class in my library science program. Librarians certainly need to understand what makes the computer systems they are using run appropriately and many of us are interested in the more technical side of things. Sibling-the-Elder took several classes in web design that has provided a number of opportunities that might not have otherwise come. I'm currently seeking further database design education. But those are to enhance what we do--which primarily is still helping patrons find information and learn how to understand it and determine what is most useful for their needs. (4)

Librarians are called upon to understand and navigate databases--which grow more and more complicated and less user friendly all the time. Yet the data our patrons need is captured within them, still within that hidden internet of resources that cannot be retrieved full text in a Google search. While more information becomes readily available on the web and "ready reference" often goes the way of a well structured Google search--there's still such a glut of hidden and confusing information that it is necessary to continue to train people to understand the difference between reliable and sham online information.

So with those added responsibilities of computer knowledge (and every other technological toy that comes out), database searching and training, understanding and participation in social networking, online information literacy, computer literacy, and computer management as a requirement for the successful public librarian, along with a healthy knowledge of everything (5), or at least where to find everything, as well as a suggestion for a book that might be useful or enjoyable to read--I still see a lot of complexity in my position. (**Update 2/26 --we're also supposed to be able to do all of this bilingually too.)

And I thrive in that. If it means the most valuable thing I am perceived do today is explain to a new computer user that she hasn't won a laptop just because a box popped up on the screen and said that she did or if it's launching the new MySQL database that I keep promising Database Mentor I'll work on--it's now a part of an incredibly diverse and complex position that my Masters degree helps me to do.

If I've missed anything pertinent, I hope you'll share in the comments.

Aside comments I wanted to say but waited:
1. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I was an English major.
2. Unfortunately--that whole young single man with a fortune seeking marriage having gone by the wayside.
3. Before anyone asks--both have long term steady girlfriends who are also close friends on mine.
4. Also--directions to the Curious George books.
5. It's a long standing joke with my friends that once I got my degree I was blessed by the library wand and that now I know EVERYTHING.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Car Update

Btw...for anyone interested, I did get my Pontiac back on Thursday. All in all, despite totally ruining an afternoon and rendering me pretty car-less for two days, it was a reasonably painless car accident.

My car was hit on Friday afternoon in the Walmart parking area. The lady who hit my car was responsible and stayed and had called her insurance company to claim fault by the time I made it outside. We called the police but the dispatcher advised us not to wait unless we thought the damage was over $2500. As I could still drive the car, we agreed to not wait.

I called both her insurance company and mine on Friday and while hers was a "well, you have to wait now," the lady at mine was very nice and helped me get an idea of what I should expect to happen next. Monday, with permission from my boss--who gets an A for flexibility on this one, I stayed home and waited on Farm Bureau. I called them around 1 p.m. and discussed getting a quote and my need for a rental so I could work the following evening.

With a go ahead from the lady I spoke to, I got a quote from a local body shop and by 4 p.m. had a Taurus. Drove said Taurus for a little over two weeks--just long enough for my body to start adjusting to its nuances. A few days into it, I had an update from the body shop ("we're ordering parts") and about a week later I had a check from the insurance company. Thursday I rolled in, dropped off the Taurus and about 15 minutes later had the Gecko back! The car was duly named such because it is green and the Blonde's Pontiac is the Pumpkin. I know...brilliant, right?

Anyway, all things considered this went very very smoothly. I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone--certainly I didn't really want that particular hassle, but Farm Bureau came through with great response and without arguments. And I sincerely hope it is the only time I get to experience their assistance in a matter of this sort.

Regarding the Nagging To Do List

While I'm not complaining from a "spring is rapidly approaching" standpoint, can you believe it's the end of February already? Time to write the rent check again. My apologies for the lack of posts this past week, I've been slowly succumbing to whatever it is that was taking out the children's department one by one. Having now, since Friday evening, had about 24 hours of sleep and a totally lazy day yesterday, I feel much more like a person and less like a zombie.

A new year always brings on resolutions. Whether we consciously make them or not, we each take on the spirit of new. The year stretches before us as a clean slate. It's time to let go of things that didn't work in the last year, set aside what came before, and face another daunting 300+ shopping days until Christmas. Then suddenly, magically, it's February and we're reeling from how "life" kicked in and those tasks we set before us suddenly seem a lot less possible than they did on January 1. Or perhaps that's just me--still staring at an apartment I've not finished unpacking, a children's series I keep thinking I'll write, four databases that require attention, and an ironing board that isn't speaking to me because I've been using it as a catch-all flat surface.

It's easy to get into a similar rut at work--settling comfortably into the routine of desk time, story time and the various after school programs. For me, it's meant that my desk has slowly been disappearing under various journals that I should be ordering from, or at the very least perusing and passing onwards to others. Last week I started refocusing on those growing piles--mostly because the February journals started landing on my desk and I needed to pass on the January ones yet. I also was tasked by another freelance database designer to get myself in gear and learn MySQL. He's wiling to help and to nudge on a regular basis and make sure I'm not letting it go by the wayside. Consequently I've got the Dummies book on it and will be wading through the tutorial available here.

I'm list, nagging and goal oriented--so I'm going to work today not only on tidying my apartment and working on my databases, but making myself a list. This one will just be for home and will have some manageable goals on it: write for 15 minutes, get the ironing done (only about a hour's worth), pick out a pattern and cast on for the baby project that needs to be done in a couple of weeks, weave in the ends of the projects finished for my next trip to NY. What reward I'll promise myself is unclear yet--but it will probably have to do with yarn or some books that are in my amazon shopping cart. Tomorrow, I'm going to try and make better use of Outlook's task function and set some goals with reminders there. Also, I'll schedule a few meetings with that motivator (who conveniently works with me!).

It's no longer a brand new year but if the half frozen birds are convinced it's going to be spring, I'm going to think forward to warmth and growth--rather than the current frozen state of affairs.

Random Quote Sunday: Yes, we meant the dog

M and I were debating the merits of harem life earlier this week--she on the pro side, I on the negative side. We finally agreed that we probably wouldn't thrive particularly well but that it would be an interesting set up for a bunch of women.

The phrase springing from said conversation though was the idea of the two of us living together in a harem--with her dog.

"Complete with our own eunuch."

To paraphrase Bob Barker, if you're not specifically breeding them, please get your pets fixed!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Welcome to New People

There's some new traffic--courtesy of a mention in Walt's latest Cites and Insights! Welcome to everyone who is dropping by for the first time.

(I'm on page 24 if anyone's looking for it.)

Book Review: Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club
by Kate Jacobs

I've never been much in the habit of reading the current hot novel--whether it be Grisham, Crichton, Nora Roberts, or Dan Brown. I've read their books, in an eventually-couple of years later kind of way. That this included knitting certainly influenced this choice, mostly because I don't really go for nice meaningful books about relationships between women. I don't really read "beach lit" either, preferring cozy mysteries and romance novels that make no apologies for having happily ever afters in the final pages.

But I picked this book up: the current best seller, story about strong women and I need to get it back soon because there are holds on it, which moved it to the top of the reading queue. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Knitting and a yarn shop in New York provide the setting Jacobs' story. One gets an almost immediate impression that Jacobs was influenced both by Steel Magnolias and Olivia Goldsmith's First Wives Club. She presents the story of a young woman, Georgia, who was abandoned by her boyfriend while pregnant with her daughter and who has spent twelve years raising her daughter--and running her yarn store. Georgia is the welcoming knit-store owner, but rather standoffish personally and this makes her a slightly difficult main character.

We step into the story at this 12 year point, where a collection of eclectic patrons have started gathering on Friday evenings to knit, munch on Georgia's daughters baked creations, and share their lives. You're drawn into each woman's life both within the circle and outside the shop--giving you perspective on what each woman brings and what draws her back to the group. No one has a charmed life, even the well off widow who has no financial concerns and functions slightly as the glamorous matriarch. Among them we see a newly divorced woman reclaiming herself, an uptight graduate student who sees knitting as anti-feminist, an emerging designer and a woman seeking motherhood for the first time and completely on her own.

Georgia's story is at the center though and as we follow her through juggling her professional and personal responsibilities, her concern for her customers while also trying to stay somewhat separate from them--a self-defense technique, and her struggles with a daughter moving from child to teenager--we're also caught between her past and present when her former boyfriend, and daughter's father, comes back into her life.

Jacobs handles this awkward topic better than most authors. Georgia is rightfully suspicious and fearful of getting hurt again. She has all of the frustrations of a woman who has done everything she can for her daughter and feels her efforts are being undermined by a man trying to buy his way back into her child's life. Jacobs also tries to present a more human side to James, the ex-boyfriend/father, but it's difficult for the reader to forgive him. Jacobs doesn't let Georgia forgive him quickly and that made me admire Georgia all the more. I wasn't completely resigned to her forgiveness of him, even as carefully as Jacobs crafts Georgia's willingness to move on, but that may be my reading of it.

Jacobs creates a relatively believable world. A couple of convenient coincidences require a smidgen of reality-suspension but not so far that one feels this couldn't happen. The emotions remain true and gives a satisfactory story. Questions aren't completely answered at the end but not in a bad way--you know the trajectory for the future of these women and, after having had a chance to peer into their lives for a couple of hours (months in the book), you're able to send them on their way, hopeful for their future.

It's not necessary that you knit to enjoy this story--but it doesn't hurt and if it encourages you to pick up the needles, come by on Wednesdays to the library. I'm becoming a pretty decent teacher.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Memories

Just bringing back an old favorite from the college days. This week had a couple of nights with poor sleep.

My motto, whilst in college:

Breathing is necessary
Eating is essential
Sleeping--is optional

I did, however, sleep a bunch yesterday and today so I'm feeling more "normal" and adult again.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A TechNot....

Speaking of the Raccoon--

Rochelle put up a "not a meme" asking what our level of technological savvy level is and confessing just where that fabulousness runs out.

I'm okay about the DTV thing--mostly because I just finally bought a TV in late October. I hadn't owned one since 1999. My roommates had always had them--so I didn't see a need to add another one to the mix. LiB has a nice post with coupons and a nifty handout about it.

My confessions?

I can read SQL but I'm pretty lousy at writing it raw. I do design work but I work entirely in Access, because that's what my clients use. While this works out nicely for all of us--there are times I really wish I was a little better at writing it straight out. And don't even get me started on CSS. It's a continuing education goal I have.

I still own and am very happy with a sturdy point-and-click camera. It zooms, flashes and reduces red eye. And it takes great pictures. I'm not looking forward to the digital transition, even though I know I need to make it. I hate the delay on digitals--and that there doesn't seem to a way to get around the delay. With a "one time" camera from Walmart or the grocery I aim, click and it takes--no waiting. With my camera I can turn the flash to required and click away.

I'm not looking forward to Hi Def. Blu-Ray seems to have won but I'm looking at my large DVD collection thinking-- again? I just got rid of all my VHS tapes when I moved to Chicago. I'm hoping that's going to be a slow upgrade.

An OpenID: You May Already Have One

A comment on an earlier blog post--made by the venerable Raccoon--reminded me that I needed to get an OpenID.

An OpenID is a single log in that I can use anywhere that accepts it (growing number of sites available here) so that I might hopefully have a few less pin numbers and passwords running around my head or scribbled on a scrap of paper that will invariably get lost. Of Zen and Computing has a very clear, non-technical explanation if you'd like more detail.

R's comment wasn't about OpenID in particular--but Blogger accepts OpenID for comments--so she was able to use an alternative log in from a site where she was already registered. She did this without even having consciously signed up for an OpenID. Blogger then used the OpenID icon by her name in the comments section. Blogger updated this week with small icons next to the comments that allow you to see all of the log in options it will allow-- AOL and LiveJournal are just two.

I chose to use one of my Yahoo! logins for my OpenID. It struck me today that with the pending hostile merger with Microsoft this might not have been my most brilliant idea ever but I can probably change it at some point in the future if desperately needed. I've not been OpenID'ing all over the intertubes just yet. Yahoo! signed on this project in January, giving it much exposure and a boost that it needed. I was pleased because I know my Yahoo! ID when I'm semi-lucid as well as when I'm as hyper as I was on Valentine's Day chocolate. The best part though was that I wasn't going to have to register myself at yet another website. It was very easy--I went here and spent about 2 minutes confirming the registration and looking at the tutorials.

Something to check out. The people I have heard from who have signed up for it say they are pleased to be going around the net and seeing new places where the OpenID icon appears and knowing they don't have to fill out yet another log in. I'm looking forward to it! If you have experience with it--please share.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Forbidden Question: Salary

It came up again on a listserv tonight--a frantic interviewee wondering when she could ask about the salary for a position. Immediately the responses poured in: You never ask.

Why is that? Explain this to me me. First of all, I have a serious issue with a job advertisement that doesn't list at the minimum a range. But that's for another time and place. Why does it make me the "loser" --as one person put it--to ask about money in an interview? While we all are coming to our professions for various reasons and while we would hope we are pursuing something we love--this is a job. We're interviewing because we'd like to get paid so we can afford an apartment, food, and whatever your equivalent of yarn is. There's an amount we can afford to work for and an amount we can't. A few years ago I turned down an in person interview because it was a position in Manhattan and they wanted to offer me $26K. I couldn't make rent on that--so, for me it wasn't worth even wasting my time on an interview I wasn't very sure about anyway.

I dislike the idea of waiting until getting a job offer to hear the salary. To me, that's tacky and somewhat shady on the part of the employer. If you can't give me an exact figure, that's fine, but give me a range or a minimum. You expect me to come in and present myself, explain why I want to work for you, explain how I will benefit and aid your company/library etc. Do me the courtesy of addressing something that you know is on my mind--the size of the paycheck. If you get it out of the way, I'm a lot less likely to worry about it and more likely to be able to answer your other questions. If you don't tell me, I'm going to sit through the next hour with you worrying that you're going to offer me this job--which I want-- and I'll have to decline because it will never cover my financial needs. Many young librarians have heavy student loan debts--they need to find something to support them through paying them off. Why waste your time and mine by not being upfront?

The interviewee had the idea she might wait until the end when they asked if they had any more questions and inquire about a range. I agreed with this idea--but suggested she lead off with another question or two first so it wasn't a sharp transition. I also gave the suggestion of waiting and calling the Human Resources Department/Business Manager after the interview. That way it's not something you need to address that day. I know in most libraries it will get back to the interviewing panel that you called and asked but I don't think it should be to the interviewee's detriment. You can phrase it as "I was there interviewing the other day and when I got home, I realized I had forgotten to ask about the salary range for this position."

Why is salary a forbidden question? Do employers not realize that a lack of salary in the job ad makes me automatically assume they're not paying much? Why is it that when we're spending it money is something to brag about, but when we're earning it, it's a filthy subject?


Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentines Day from a totally hopped up on Sugar/Candy/ Why yes I'll have another York Peppermint Patty/Chocolate Hedgehog.

There will be much chair dancing over here while I try to wear off the excess sugar. If they didn't before, my coworkers will be convinced today that I'm nuts and that I type too fast.

I never claimed to be sane--just interesting.

Chair dancing = dancing while seated and still entering DVD orders for another 3 copies of the latest Barbie video.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Wee Bit Greener

Yesterday involved such exciting things as grocery shopping--but I took a moment to try and be a little kinder to the environment: I bought reusable grocery bags.

This has been some time in the planning. I remember first seeing a complete and utter lack of grocery bags in Germany, when traveling there nearly ten years ago. It seriously threw me for a curve when I realized I'd bought all these munchies and my backpack was already full. The only grocery I know that does something similar in the US is Aldi --where you're welcome to help yourself to the cardboard boxes stuff is coming out of to load your stuff, but bags are 5 cents. Generally though, I'll admit to being lazy and taking the bags as they are handed to me. With many retail stores, I think there's a mentality of needing to take the bag-- as proof of purchase and to make the store security a little less antsy that you're slipping something past them. But the groceries generally see things pretty well supervised. We pile things onto a conveyor or other spot, things slide into a holding space, we --or some nice person--load things up into bags.

My local grocery here uses paper bags without handles. It's nice, I like having a few paper bags in the house, but I hate carrying groceries in from the car. There just is no good way to carry two of those bags up a flight of stairs with a heavy door to be unlocked at the bottom and the top. So I started taking a big shopping bag I had down to the car, putting the big bags in that, and hauling up the stairs for more efficiency. Yesterday, big bag in hand, I grabbed a cooler bag and 3 other little "grocery bags"--which look like paper bags with handles but are made of a thin but very durable fabric-ish material. That held a cart full of food for me, which will see me through a couple of weeks. The bags are all stored together--but they're the perfect size for practically everything and I can see them getting a lot of use. I wonder if the Wally-world check out would freak if I used one instead of the piles of plastic bags. It's an idea.

But I managed to forget pita bread--so I'm having to have a bagel I chunked up into bites with my hummus instead. At least I'm eating!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bizarre Quote Sunday: What you do with your cacti...

I had to apologize for accidentally pocket dialing and my excuse provides this week's quote:

"Oh, I bet that was when I was deflating the cactus."

For the record it was a library program, someone else decided it was a good idea to have an inflatable cactus and I really really hope there are no pictures of me and the other girl trying to squash all of the air out of thing when the program was over.

Happy Sunday all!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I like using Google Docs. I have reading lists and things that I like to have follow me around.

Per the Google Doc Blog...(say that 3 times fast), they've added a new feature: Google Forms. Format, send it out, and have respondents' answers automatically added to your spreadsheet.

Now if I could just come up with a reason why I desperately need to use this.

If you get a spreadsheet form from you know why!

LAX Kids Knitting and a Fab New Card Game

My knitting group has met twice more and this week we had a half dozen! So it's slowly building and I told them today about the library's upcoming Knit In (what are you doing April 9?) where we're hoping a couple of hundred knitters will join us for a fun afternoon/evening of knitting in public. A young man joined us this week and he's hard at work on a teddy bear. I explained the concept of cables to the group and because it wasn't "scary and hard" no one found it particularly overwhelming. Kids, I think, accept that they don't know all the possibilities and so are less afraid to experiment-- they didn't even wince when I said "pull four stitches off and hold them either to the front or back then knit the next four, now put the stitches back on and continue." No, instead I was drawn into a discussion of why holding stitches to the back was easier and how front versus back affected the look of the cables.

Then after the knitters had packed up their stitches, I was drawn into a card game with the Head of Tech Services, who was teaching me so I could use it today. Anyone ever played FLUXX? It's pretty straight forward with basic rule: everything changes. The game evolves as you play with new rules, new ways to win, and your cards changing based on actions one chooses to take on their turn. A game can last 30 seconds or the better part of 20 minutes and gets really confusing at times.

It also seems to be rather irresistible to boys. Last night one of our familiar faces, a young man who usually won't do much more than respond with a barely civil hello, squatted down by the table to watch the game and then joined a hand for a few minutes.

Today, I took the game up to one of the branches, where I'm trying an outreach after school program. We don't do a lot of after school--mostly because the schools do a lot and it's hard to be in competition with where they are already. But we'll never have enough computers for all the Runescape players and MySpace addicts, so I figured I'd give something a shot. Armed with FLUXX (I borrowed the deck) and popcorn (that smell gets to everyone), I headed into the teen section, grabbed a kid and said "Hey, wanna play a quick card game? There's popcorn."

An hour and a half, five boys, a bag of popcorn, many animal crackers, and quite a few hands of FLUXX later, the library was closing. But they said they might be interested in coming back next week. Was I only there on Thursdays?

I have duly ordered my own deck of FLUXX and I've ordered "blanks" so we can make up and add in our own rules .

Anybody for a game of cards?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Midweek Quote: A Great Excuse

We interrupt your week for a quote--not mine. This one comes from VA (her initials, not the state). Her excuse for missing everything this past weekend?

"I didn't know--I was doing gentle yoga."

Seriously...three times in one conversation I'd refer to something (groundhog's day included) and then we had a moment of, no, wait, you were doing gentle yoga.

I'm stealing it as my excuse for the rest of the week. I don't know, I was doing gentle yoga.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Neat Recordings

From PBS and the WPA-firsthand recordings of slaves. Some of the voices are a little hard to understand, if you hover over the pictures on the linked page you can read the narrative before listening to it.

Pretty cool!

Thanks to Paul Levy for the direction.

Random Quote Sunday: Less than Desired..

Not much for you this week. Either I was incredibly un-odd or I just forgot to write the strangeness down. I lean towards the latter.

About the only odd thing I remember saying involves a conversation with my director, when I was trying to describe the concept of "felting" an object. Because how often do you use phrase "agitating wool" in every day conversation?

(Her response? "How do you agitate wool? Insult it?")

Hopefully more for you next week and prompt insurance people in the morning.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Being the Bridal Attendent: Tips for????

I called the Brunette this morning to remind him that it's the Blonde's husband's birthday. During the course of the call he asked if I would be in his wedding party! YAY!

I've never been in a wedding before. By the time my cousins started getting married I was way beyond traditional flower girl age. And I've been more than happy to just attend as a guest to the weddings of several good friends (which caused a huge sigh of relief for one girl who already had a party of 8 on each side). I know not everyone can stand up with you that day--otherwise we'd all stand and no one would be in the pews. Besides, that way someone can be in the back helping with details the bridal party can't get to.

But I'm standing up for the Brunette!!

And trust me, he has awesome taste. If anyone can find me a bridesmaid dress that I'll be happy to wear again, he and the Blonde will do it.

The Incredibly-Patient-Mother, also Most-Talented-Seamstress, has been put on notice to stand by for incoming dress that will almost certainly need alterations.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Book Review: Wrinkle in Time

This is for the January Book a Month Challenge. It's not up 'til February 1 but trust me, the thought was long begun and worked on in January.

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeline L'Engle

For some reason, I never got around to reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was a child. Chances are good--this is because Sibling-the-Elder had read and enjoyed it. Second child syndrome and not wanting to be Sibling-the-Elder and all that. Yet then when one becomes a children's librarian, it's kind of assumed one has charged through all of the great children's literature. So, when they announced it was a theme of Time--I knew I had to finally pick up this one.

Summary: A bright young girl with a savant but socially nonfunctional little sibling are struggling with their "normal" world. Their mother, a brilliant and beautiful scientist, is working on experiments and their father has been missing for over a year. Twins, normal in most respects, are briefly introduced. Three weird women appear and take the girl (Meg) and sibling (Charles Wallace) as well as a popular but awkward boy (Calvin) and jump them across space. They go up against a great evil, rescue the father from an evil "IT" and go home. Meg learns that love is the most important thing?

I have to say--it was probably 3/4 of the way through the book before I stopped calling it I T and remembered that IT Depts weren't part of L'Engle's plan.

I didn't like the book. (Pause for some horrified gasps) I recognize that it was among the first of it's kind as a fantasy book for children. I think the idea of tessing is an interesting concept. Beyond that--the book was mostly annoying to me.

Meg seemed an inconsistent age. In the opening scene I took her to be 10-11 by the tone. But she's a high school student and the teenage angst she displays at school seems right around 15-16 to me. Then we find out that Calvin at 14 is two grades ahead of her. So she's 12? Then at other points she seems to be back to behaving like a 10 year old (the Aunt Beast scene). She's supposed to be really smart--but then she's supposed to be an idiot. Her little brother knows she's smart, but he treats her like a child.

Charles Wallace is supposed to be 5. Right. I know some very very bright five year olds. I recognize that extreme brilliance, especially when demonstrated at a young age can allow for many thing. CW struck me as 8 and wasn't a character I could identify with. I understand now why Sibling-the-Elder spoke a preference for Meg over CW. Calvin seemed to be a complete oddball. He's "popular" but "awkward" and 14 and known for his basketball skills. He keeps talking about feeling right but it all rings funny.

Now that I've torn apart the characters--the story didn't make much sense either. It was unclear why IT had it's world or what the point of that was. Was IT causing the evil cloud shadowing the earth? Didn't seem to be. What was the point of tessing to a random planet and having the whole Aunt Beast scene? Why, when Tess has been given much the same hypnosis tests as her brother does she have such a hard time with the initial hypnosis test? How is it that their mother isn't a more active character? Why is there no resolution at the end of the book? What does it matter if Calvin comes from a large family with a mother who isn't pulled together? Why the need for physical descriptions of the three Mrs. W's and why the constant morphing? And the holier than thou proclamation of Meg when she suddenly is completely ready to rescue CW after screaming not a quarter page earlier that she can't possibly go--turned my stomach.

Honestly--a lot of it didn't feel fully thought out. The Incredibly-Patient-Mother argued that this leaves more to the imagination but instead, I felt like I got an incomplete story. I just barely could identify with Meg and then it wasn't even her own behavior, rather what her mother said about her. Meg's father had shown her math tricks as a child and then in public school she was frustrated when they made her go the long way around. I've been in that situation, I've been that child that understands without needing to show my work. I'm not sure you're supposed to identify with CW.

So those are my confused thoughts. I'm sure it will be duly noted and written down somewhere that I'm a bad children's librarian because I didn't like this book. Right next to the fact that I don't like Rowling's works. Would you believe I really do enjoy fantasy?

(Updated High Score: 379)

Happy Hamster Game

Have you stumbled upon Flight of the Hamsters yet? It's the Yarn Harlot's fault. She has the knitblogging world all tied to their screens now--trying to chuck hamsters.

My high score so far: 357.

Son of a Motherless Hamster and their addicting games....

Sensory Overload: Mark All As Read

I used to see it in small children all the time: a complete overwhelming of the senses. When music, joy, people, colors, and usually it's been either too long since a snack or a nap, there erupts a Meltdown with a capital M.

Adults go through similar things. We have social networks, emails, forwards, text message forwards (evil things), Crackberries, Ipods, RSS feeds and wikis bringing us all the latest and greatest information right now! And while society frowns upon us flinging ourselves on the ground, kicking, screaming, crying we still find subtler ways of making others around us as miserable as we are feeling.

In my RSS feeds, there's been a trend to show how over loaded, over networked, and divided amongst things we are. It's a decent reflection: I've gotten three new social network invitations in the past month. I have one friend who hasn't read her Bloglines in the better part of two months--and will probably go in and hit "Mark All as Read" soon. Even David Rothman-- who is a large cheerleader for being selective and careful in how much you're subscribing yourself to-- seems to have a new social network for physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals a couple of times a month. Jennie pointed out that she's paying attention to fewer of her Facebook alerts (me too!).

We all jumped in and now it's a balancing act. Carefully weeding the feeds that annoy us or just duplicate what we've read elsewhere. Truly, I can only read about the same library science or Britney Spears story so many times. And if one more person points me to John Blyberg's recent post--I just might have a "capital M" Meltdown myself.

I could give a long diatribe on our need to connect, our lack of connecting, our over sharing and the slightly incestuous nature of library bloggers--but not today. Today instead I point you towards a comic that left me feeling very very vindicated in using my delete all button: Cathy.

Hedgehog's Car Has a Crunch

My car got hit today whilst I was Wal-marting. I was not in the car--I was grabbing highlighters and tapestry needles and Quaker Instant Oatmeal.

Front headlight has been pretty much decimated and my nerves are completely shot. The other driver is taking full responsibility and has said so with her insurance. Now if the insurance companies will just manage to haul their posteriors about so I can figure out what all I need to do--repairs can start. Ideally repairs will start very soon.

I can't decide if it's good or bad that it's Friday--I'm leaning towards bad.