Wednesday, April 30, 2008

101 in 1001

I may be coming a little late to the boat on this, but I recently stumbled across 101 in 1001.

The concept is to make a list of 101 things that you will do in 1001 days. You can choose your own tasks so they can be as outlandish or minute as you'd like. The tasks should help you grow and be clearly defined. Although it was supposed to start January 1, 2008, I think it could be a useful project to start anytime--as long as you're goal focused and make yourself work on your tasks.

I thought it was an interesting idea and so I started making a list. As you can imagine, there is some knitting to be done on that list--various things that I've never done before. (Socks, anyone?) And usually, I'm a decent list maker. I'm always stumbling across old grocery lists (forgotten when I went to the store), to do lists (at least one item didn't get done and now no longer matters), and there's the ever updated Amazon wish list. But here, I've run into a stumbling block.

I'm not sure I can think of 101 things I'd like to do in the next 3 years which I consider to help me grow. I know they don't have to be huge things but here's me...staring at a spreadsheet, a little over a third of the necessary entries written down, wondering...hmmm, now what?

I'm a little disappointed in myself; I thought I had more goals and creativity going than that. I'm not sure if I'm missing a lot of things that are on my mental to do list or if I'm trying to make the goals too huge or what...

So far I have
1) Writing goals (Write a, send a proposal for...)
2) Knitting goals (Knit socks and something with gauge for AudioGirl)
3) Cleaning goals (go through and get rid of...)
4) Organizational goals (Books, pictures, yarn)
5) Educational goals (take a class in)

And I have a wopping 36.

I could include completely outrageous things: become the next pop star, grow another three inches, --but I really have no aspirations to be the next Hollywood poptart and I think my body has pretty much finished in the vertical growing portion of life.

So, I'm going to really try to think about this one this week and revisit next week--and see if I've managed to get the creative juices going.

Is anyone else participating in this?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Earworm of the Day...

I have had this running through my head for FOUR days....

So I thought it only polite to share.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Borrowing and My Nails...

This week's quotes come from a very exhausted hedgehog who had at least 4 great but blog-inappropriate quotes this weekend. *sigh*...

On discussing the fact that I needed a different shade of nail polish:

"My hands just need a shade slightly less insipid."

(So now, they're this color)

The Drummer left me a voicemail:

"So, I hope you're doing well, and I'm about to get hit by an 18-wheeler, and give me a call. Okay, bye."

This was all said with the same cadence, no inflection of impending doom, just a statement...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Vanity Press May be Going Too Far....

If this hasn't hit your radar it is.

A child's first introduction to plastic surgery, complete with super hero doctor.

This is one I don't think I'll be passing on to person responsible for that area of collection development.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Library Humor....

I really want this pin to wear to work.

Somehow I imagine Madame Director wouldn't approve, even though she'd probably find it very funny.

Getting the Ink Out...

The Liminal Librarian pointed me to a "splash of cold water in the face" post on writing versus blogging.

The summary of the rant, if you're not inclined to read it, is that bloggers are often writers who are more likely to spend their time developing a good blog post than committing themselves to other writing.

There are a lot of good points to the rant; specifically, it's far easier and more instantly gratifying to sit down and hammer out a blog post than it is to craft a book together, even if you have a brilliant idea for a book. I have several children's stories I keep meaning to write, but children's books don't garner interesting comments from a few different countries overnight and one must *sigh* go through a publisher.

On the flip side though, blogging is writing and it is motivation to write. Blogging can lead to name recognition among the community which comes from generous link sharing, which can lead to further writing and presenting opportunities professionally (at least in libraries). And, for me at least, it means I'm writing. Without strict deadlines, I'm not a particularly aggressive writer and this gives me a different type of writing outlet and requirement.

So while I respect the post, I don't see myself ceasing to blog anytime soon-- I enjoy it and it's a chance to write about topics that I doubt would really translate well into romance novels, "the world's greatest YA novel," or an age appropriate picture book. (Preschoolers don't really care whether or not I rejoin ALA.) However, I really must try to schedule some off screen writing time for myself once I get through this next round of TONS OF DATABASE UPDATES DUE NOW.

Ahhh, deadlines....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back to the ALA Renewal Question....

Despite the fact that in five months, their customer service department could not be called upon to let me know just when my registration expired--ALA contacted me via email this morning to let me know that it was time to renew.

And in five months, I still am no clearer on whether or not I really want to renew, particularly for anything beyond "basic" participation. What is the purpose? I've been told to "get involved" with committees--which means adding more money along with my time and expertise. And there are a huge amount of options to try and guess at: do I join committees that are relevant to what I'm doing now, committees where I most want to be in five years, or save the money and look at some of the other groups (SLA, etc)? It's suggested that I present at conferences? I've already discussed the fact that children's librarians + Annual conference in the middle of summer reading programs are generally not a good idea. Should I focus on national conferences where I pay for the privilege of presenting? Should I look for conferences where I might at least get free admission to the conference for presenting?

Jenny did manage to get the wiki updated so we can see some of the divisions that have virtual committees. I'm still a little baffled why one must join a division to then join a virtual committee but at least we know a few more of the options. Also--other than Jenny's link from my last meander through this topic, I can't get to the wiki. If someone could help me breadcrumb it, that would be fabulous but ten minutes of stumbling around the ALA website hasn't worked yet.

According to the email I did finally receive this morning---I have until June 30 before there will be a lapse. So, it's something to consider and I'll be reaching out to the wiser powers that I know mostly from places other than ALA for their wisdom.

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Book Review: Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Secret Mission

The book on today's review pile was read at the suggestion of M, who knows my penchant for a good cozy mystery. Authored by Michael Bond, the brilliant mind behind the ever popular Paddington Bear, I was expecting a similarly engaging style of writing. This being the man who introduced many of us to the wonders of orange marmalade, you can imagine I had high expectations.

Monsieur Pamplemousse and the Secret Mission
Michael Bond

For those for whom French is not a primary or secondary language 'pamplemousse' means grapefruit. Monsieur Pamplemousse is a restaurant reviewer, charged by his editor to investigate said editor's aunt's restaurant and find out why unusual happenings involving a love potion have been occurring in the area.

Coming to this with thoughts of Paddington, it was quite the sharp left hand turn into Bond's more adult style of writing. M. Pamplemousse is a married, middle aged connoisseur of fine food and wine. There is an unapologetic open nature to his marriage--he mentions his wife appreciating him being out of the house as well as her guilty conscience and he makes a pass at his editor's wife when the two couples have dinner.

The good Monsieur is accompanied by his faithful hound (on whom he lavishes far more attention than his wife): Pommes Frites.

On assignment by his editor, Mr. Grapefruit and French Fry drive out from Paris to discover the goings on behind the editor's aunt's poor food and the mystery of this love potion. Into the French countryside the pair drives (with a full hamper from Madame Grapefruit), detouring to see a friend about to stand trial for indecent exposure (relating to that love potion) and eventually landing at the inn.

Through a course of meals of varying quality, day trips to neighboring towns, chasing down Pommes Frites when he goes on a hormone driven spree, and various attacks on his person, Monsieur Pamplemousse works to discover the history of an inn that used to be a place recommended for lovers and describes excellent food.

While only the bad guy dies and everything is tied up neatly in the end, I had a little trouble engaging with the story. Bond spends a lot of time on condescending descriptions where a phrase such as "the pressure dropped, and it started to rain." The food descriptions weren't quite enough to draw one in, and I have mixed feelings about the lead character. Sometimes I liked him, other times he annoyed me. The scenes written from Pommes Frites voice were engaging, breaking up some of the lofty tone of the book.

I'll probably read the rest of the series, at least one or two more but if you're not already a fan of older mysteries, I wouldn't recommend it.

( I'm craving Orange Marmalade on a bagel.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

While at the grocery.....

They let me out shopping alone dangerous to do that.

"I'm just troubled by a sign that announces "Turkey Parts"--aren't you?"

Hedgehogs In the News: PygmyPets

Our news today comes from AudioGirl's BF, who thoughtfully forwarded this link.

Pygmy hedgehogs are now a popular new pet in the UK. If it weren't that I'm planning a lot of travel, I'd be awfully tempted to see in investing in one here. One thing the Incredibly-Patient-Mother found out though when inquiring about possibility of my own live hedgehog was that they recommend you be near an unusual animal veterinarian (wrong title--but you get the idea). The closest one is three hours away and that might not be good for a sick hoglette.

Something to keep an eye on, I can only imagine they'd cause less allergic reactions than a cat.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Authors for Posterity

I'm listening yet again to Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen/Nadia May) and I'm reminded that Austen's works have held up admirably over a number of generations and are, to many, still as engaging as they were when first published.

And this calls to mind my conversation with My-Friend-the-Lawyer last night. He's the one who dragged me into reading my first Neal Stephenson. I used to own a beautiful hardcover copy of Cryptonomicon which someone absconded while I was in graduate school. But Stephenson, I discovered through serendipitous Amazoning, has a new book out in September and I think we're both planning to pre-order it. (At the very least, it's on my wish list, feel free to order me a copy for a Hedgehog Libra Birthday.)

I have a healthy respect for the literary abilities of Mr. Stephenson which began when I waded through that first book. Sibling-the-Elder has been reading him for longer than I have, but I think I might beat her through the Baroque Cycle if I sit down and put my mind to it. He's earned me street credibility with all kinds of people ("You read Stephenson? Okay, you're allowed to sit with the cool kids."), evoked numerous interesting conversations and--at the very least--he was able to picture the way our video games and technology was going a lot further in advance than I ever could. My first trip into Second Life oozed Snow Crash and the games of the future (360 degrees-full immersion/hologram deck/virtual reality type of things) only bring me more awe about him and his ability to see where we were/are headed.

Stephenson is an author who could be an interesting literary study on the collegiate level. I don't think anyone is teaching his works just yet as an elective but, as MFTL and I were agreeing last night, I'd love to see them taught! And, perhaps more importantly, I think Stephenson's works will stand up to the test of time.

My conviction of his durability as an author actually led to a presentation during college: looking at modern literature that we think will survive the ages. With all of the publishing and the thousands of books readily available to us, there are many books that will become irrelevant next week--let alone five or fifty years from now. So what are our Pride and Prejudices? Who do we have that will stand the test of time against Austen and Dickens? At the time I pointed to Crichton. Another attendee, a good friend at the time, considered bringing a then still rather new Rowling to the table. Whether or not she'll be an author handed down to our grandchildren remains to be seen, but certainly we may see her as a study in literary phenomenon (the excessively long and must be a multi-book series type).

So I now ask you: Who do you think will be held up to our great-great grandchildren as "authors of the late 20th, early 21st century"? Who will they say were the authors worth preserving? Who will still be in print? (This, of course, making the assuming that "print" still means something in that day and age.)

P.S. If you haven't read Snow Crash yet, RUN to your nearest library and grab a copy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"We" will get "Fit".... riiiiiight

While Nintendo is still dancing all the way to the bank from last Christmas's amazingly successful sales of Wii Game Systems-- they've decided to add another waltz to the dance cards: Wii Fit.

It's a predictable idea and I'm surprised it's taken this long to roll out exercise activities for a system already said to get people off their seats and actively engaging with the game. (Controllers through the TVs while bowling anyone?) Part of me wonders though what will make this that much different from other fitness DVDs that are collecting dust in many of our homes. Will holding a controller in our hands make us better at exercise or more engaged in our hula hoop routines?

A single summer's addiction to Sonic the Hedgehog aside (fueled by pots of coffee and instant chocolate pudding), I've never been much of one for video games. In college I was somewhat fascinated with Harvest Moon, but never actually mastered the controller well enough to understand just how it was that one wooed a wife and petted the cows. [Though, if that was available as a PC game, I might consider it.] And, though I'd watch the guys play while I was hanging out with them, I could not understand the fascination with Grand Theft Auto Vice City that overran my friend Romeo's fraternity.

Gamespot has a thoughtful review, suggesting it as a good place to keep track of one's exercise goals rather than as the sole source of where one exercises. For people already very actively engaged with their Wii's, this may be a very beneficial chance to add healthy and needed exercise in their lives. I have a hard time with the idea of selling this to the teens I see gaming in my library, though, and most of the people I've met who are very concerned with their exercise levels are actively tracking using free or paid sites online.

The program will probably go over well and I'd be interested to see all it can do, but for now I will express reserve that it will motivate the nation to get fit.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: With Exasperation...

Buying plane tickets is a costly venture these days and a bit like bungee jumping (based on this past week's headlines). But it's still faster than driving and, considering I'm headed both to NY and CO in the fall, it's a necessity.

The week was full of odd sayings, the choice ones include:

(When you can't say what you're thinking)
"Angels and ministers of cynicism defend us..."

(How to win friends and influence people)
"Walk in high heels and carry a big chocolate bar."

(For this I went to grad school)
"Why I can't I get my sheep centered?"

and finally, a preferred phrase for when Old English words just aren't permissible
"Holy Popsicle sticks Batman!"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mastering Woolly Event Planning...

Several months of planning finally led up to this past Wednesday. Twas then my library held it's 2nd Annual Knitting in Public day with yours truly at the helm.

The concept in and of itself is fairly simple: invite local knitters to come and knit in public at your library. Provide snacks, door prizes, a speaker, and some extra materials. Ensure a little local publicity.

The reality? Details were being hashed out right up until the event was over and I already have a list of things I'll do differently next time. Also, does anyone know where I can borrow 25 cafe style tables?

The day was (IMHO) a success. We officially opened the doors at noon and, over the next eight hours, welcomed over a hundred knitters at the main location. I don't have the final numbers from the branch locations yet, honestly I was too tired on Thursday to think about it. Participants included two school groups as well as the kids from the knitting group I lead. I had two incredibly patient women voluntarily bring knitting machines and show a number of "my" kids how to use them, several people just learning, and a number of masters at the craft.

Sibling-the-Elder had been called upon to be an extra set of hands. Along with assisting with set up and clean up, answering questions when the moving target of me was somewhere other than immediately visible, and being our master photographer, she also managed to knit a hat for a friend of mine who has an impending arrival of joy. (I have four friends who are soon to have babies....) Did I mention she's awesome?

While stressful as I was coordinating, mingling, knitting fast enough my fingers hurt, and trying to stay on top of everything, the day was enjoyable. People came and stayed and knitted. The library provided snacks and some beverages. We had needles and yarn on hand for people who didn't have their own supplies with them. The majority of the knitters had their own projects with them but certainly some availed themselves liberally of what was available. Throughout the course of the day door prizes were given. People like winning stuff, even if it's "just a candle."

Local yarn stores gave me their publicity material, some of the door prizes, yarn, needles, and some pretty awesome coupons. I'd reached out to them for publicity also and many many stores were gracious enough to put the poster I sent them up in their shops to alert their knitters. Local restaurants gave the knitters coupons "just for us" for the day and more door prizes.

And in the evening we had Joyce Williams speak. An incredibly dynamic, gifted, and amazing woman, she had a group of sixty plus enthralled with her explanations and descriptions of Latvian heritage knitting and a technique called Armenian knitting. Currently she's making fabulous tops and she let me be the model one of them. It was hand beaded with iridescent beads and made of cashmere. It felt FABULOUS. And it took another person to help me take it off (long earrings plus double pointed needles holding my hair up).

At eight p.m. things came to a close with the dedicated building maintenance crew ready and willing to help me turn the space we'd used (not "officially" part of the library) back into it's actual purpose. People drifted out after getting books signed and asking final questions and asking me when next year's would be.

It'll be once I've had some sleep ladies. And after I've gotten this year's thank you notes in the mail. (Note to self--thank you notes on Monday.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Home Decor for the Those with a No Paint Clause

While several of my friends have very lenient landlords or their own home, a bunch of us are still in rental property. I know "now is a great time to buy" but I'm not quite ready for home ownership and knowing one isn't ready is more important than the housing market.

As a result of renting, trying to make a place one's own can be a bit of a challenge. Many landlords don't allow tenants to paint--even if the tenant knows they'll have to paint it back to white upon moving out. While this is understandable (the landlord doesn't want 10 coats of paint on the wall), nothing but dull white walls can make for a very depressing atmosphere.

A few years a friend was contemplating such a problem and, with a little help from the Incredibly-Patient-Mother, the idea of starching fabric to the walls was devised. Simply explained you soak lengths of cotton or a light polyester fabric in liquid starch (available in the detergent aisle of the grocery) and hang it on the wall like wallpaper. Pre-measuring, a knife to trim edges after it's dried, and extra fabric is recommended. When you're ready to move out, simply pull the fabric off the wall, wash the remaining starch off the walls and you're back to white walls. I recommend washing the fabric beforehand so there is less chance of dye bleeding and staining the wall, particularly if one is using a dark fabric (we used dark red for Mr. Green's room). Lighter colored fabric is probably not a bad idea, and it's a fun way to use prints besides throw pillows and curtains.

Another option AudioGirl* pointed out to me today: decals. She's decorating a new apartment and looking for functional options to provide some color to her new, white kitchen. Considering the bright and varied palette of the apartment we used to share, I can imagine all white walls are a bit tedious for her. She found funky and fun designs at Blik that aren't your average window cling. As she and I were the masterminds behind Mr. Green's room, I imagine she'll have some great ideas in her new place.

And me? I'm just doing a lower panel of one kitchen wall. But it'll be different!

*AudioGirl = Formerly-Known-As-Roomie. It's been six months, time to re-nickname.

Hedgehogs in the News: As Weaponry?

These mammals are generally not expected to serve as effective weaponry, despite what at least one New Zealander thinks.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: What's Next?

"I'd just like to get through one major holiday where giving directions to my house doesn't include giant inflatable lawn ornaments!"

(Turn left at the inflatable turkeys....once you pass the 6 ft inflated Easter Rabbits....)


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

These ARE My Comfortable Shoes (and other PLA stuff)

You might not agree, but I've stood for eight hours in those shoes while trying to lure doctors into signing up for free online CME. Trust me, you add some Dr. Scholl's gel pads and you are golden.

Thus shod, I was up at the incredibly unholy hour of five a.m. to make the trek up to the Twin Cities for a day at the Public Library Association Conference. My only fortunate discovery before nine a.m. was that my local Starbucks drive-thru opens at 5:30 a.m. I'm not sure if I'll ever need that piece of information again but in the event that I do--I'd better be coming home rather than leaving it.

Madame Director sent as many of us as possible up to conference, at least for a day, and my day was Friday. Upon arriving I was duly laden with a bag containing two books I've already given away and a conference schedule I never consulted--and then it was off to the exhibits. There I walked in (as did my teen librarian) nearly twenty minutes before they opened. Apparently if one is dressed in slacks, sweater and a smidge of make up---one can pass for a vendor.

I spent just over two and a half hours blissfully trudging the exhibits. Up and down I strolled, choosing when to make eye contact, asking the occasional awkward question, and shutting down all attempts to get me to "sit through a presentation for a free t-shirt." Free books that interest me or would be good to add to my collection are one thing; free t-shirts are extra weight that I can't give away.

I spent a very amusing twenty minutes with the guys from Unshelved. They were having some slowness with the credit card machine. But they signed the books I bought and were good company. My shoulders already needed the rest by that point. I stopped by LibraryThing and we debated what type of battery the Rhinos would need to roar. (Hopefully they'll have them by CiL) I also got to meet Nicole! I caught up with her just after second session started so it was quiet enough to chat without her having to rush off to someone who wasn't familiar with Koha and LibLime.

Lunch was at Brit's Pub (at David's recommendation) and over the a cheeseburger and iced tea, I got to meet two girls from NexGenLib! It was amazing how three women who'd never "really" met before could sit down and comfortably chat about various subjects in libraries across the country (PA, WI, and CO). We had a lot of common ground and a wide variety of challenges. It was an incredibly unifying moment.

The afternoon was session. First was an eye-opening hour from MediaWise. Hearing of the things that are already and are yet to come and really thinking about how much screen time is influencing both the current and future generations makes the mind boggle. Had we had a couple of hours of presentation, I would have gladly sat through it--an hour was just too short. I recommend the site and if the presenter does get his slides online, I will definitely link to them.

The second session was people speed reading from powerpoint presentations and being self-congratulatory. As I'm capable of reading for myself, I chose not to stay.

The drive home was trading tales of just how much we packed into our bags. I had managed to get 10 free Playaways for my children's department, about which I was very chuffed. All in all it was a fun conference day and I expect many new emails and piles of flyers to land on my desk now that the vendors have all made it home.