Sunday, June 29, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Curiouser and Curiouser

"But...if Swiper doesn't swipe (Swiper! No swiping!) then...should he still be called Swiper?"
--Pondering Dora

"Any hope of moderating haiku?"
--Escaping list-jacks

"Two Aleve and a Pepsi later..."
-This headache has been sponsored by teen boys, summer reading, and the fajitas at lunch

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Greatest Headline I've Seen This Week

Hedgehog Antagonists May Harm Cardiac Function as Well as Tumors

There was some serious chuckling when I saw this one.

It's from Medscape, the division of WebMD I used to work for, and unfortunately you can't access it without a log-in. If you're really interested in medical information for doctors, you can register. Otherwise, the short version is that some of the anticancer drugs that are designed to block blood flow to cancer tumors and starve them to death...might also hurt the heart. But the headline pretty much says it all.

In the mean time apparently if I am within the opposition we can overcome not only tumors, but I can break hearts as well.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Want to Work With Me? Head of YS at LPL Position

I've been given a green light to start circulating this information though I don't have a formal job posting available for you as yet.

My immediate supervisor, our Head of Youth Services, will be retiring the first week of August. We are beginning a search for a replacement.

La Crosse, WI is a town of 50,000 on the banks of the Mississippi with a Main Library and two satellite branch libraries. Our youth services department is very lively, with highly attended storytimes and I've got a healthy knitting group that meets on Wednesdays. Our teen librarian does a lot with gaming, which draws in a high number of young men, and we're doing a lock-in in August. The community heavily uses the library and loves coming into our bright and cheerful children's area, where we have computers, puzzles, highly beloved bean bag chairs, and a vintage giraffe. It's a space built and intended for children and has the added benefit of being a little bit separated from the rest of the building, allowing for children to be a little noisier.

The youth services staff (head, 4FT, 2PT, 5 aides) is based at the main branch with forays to the branches for programming and collection development responsibilities. We had a dozen at tie-dying at one of the branches last week and eighty for a program on bi-lingual bugs. We are supported by the community and are blessed with an extremely dynamic director. The staff as a whole is coming to embrace social networking tools with internal blogs, wikis, etc. Our current website is being revamped, yours truly is responsible for the new youth and teen sites when they go up (October).

As many of you know, I came to LPL from Chicago Public Library last November. The staff has been very welcoming. The winter was one of the harsher ones I've survived--but the natives were saying that too, so apparently it wasn't just me. Three local coffee shops within a ten minute walk of the library--one of which makes good soup, another good donuts. If you want to buy there are a lot of houses for sale or there are a number of nice apartment complexes. And I know where to get good waffle fries but have not yet explored the banana splits.

If this sounds interesting, please email me questions and I'll be happy to answer what I can (my email is on my blog website). If you know someone who would be interested, please forward this on to them.

Once the official job posting goes out, I'll let you know.

And, as I said with our last position: We've got a hedgehog and a raccoon-- what can you add to the mix?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pride and Prejudice via Tag Cloud

I'm shamelessly stealing Griffey's meme on books we enjoy as tag clouds. As he's already done one favorite of mine (where did you find full text of Cryptonomicon online?), I'll choose another. The text went into Wordle and here is what we find.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Full text available here.

Can you guess who the heroine and hero are?

I'd like to do some analysis of my blog/delicious account over the last few months but that may not happen for a few days. Have other stuff on my plate.

If you'd like to participate, please consider yourself tagged.

Hedgehogs in the Blogs...

From Jennie

This hedgehog took on a dog...and may have won?

And really--why are people this mean?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: All Over the Spectrum

It's been a pretty busy week this week:

"No one went home purple"

"I do, however, have waist length hair--so I have to clean the beater bar every time."
New Vacuum

"Must navigate toe."
Knitting my first ever sock (yes, you have to look at the pictures)

Friday, June 20, 2008

A View from the Pigeon Hole

A bit of rant this morning.

As noted before, I have to re-up for ALA this week and I'm not especially pleased about spending another year getting my email filled with yet more ads and having them send me shiny magazines with, at best, two articles each that are written with someone obviously other than me in mind. I understand not everyone has the fascination with RSS feeds that I do but the fact that I'm still seeing a proliferation of "understanding the very basics of xyz 2.0" articles and presentations scares me a wee bit.

I'm still frustrated at the base price of ALA, which provides me with said shiny magazine, a membership card, and discounted prices at conferences where I still have to pay to present. Assuming, of course, that I'd like to spend $1500+ hauling off to each of the bi-annual conferences. [Have you seen airline prices these days?] But what really irritates me is that there is very little place for involvement that doesn't shunt one into a division (at least $35-$50 extra dollars per division) based on library type. I could just join roundtables, which I've done in the past, but I feel like I'm not getting enough out of all of this library networking that we young professionals are supposed to be doing.

Others have tried to argue to me that "you can get cross-library experience in any division." I'm sure that may be true to some degree. However, I generally disagree. In a division you're focused on the problems and needs of that type of library and while some of those problems are universal (funding), many of them are not (best in early literacy). And really, if you're an academic librarian hiring another academic librarian, are you going to be looking with more interest at a resume of a public librarian who was in ALSC or an academic librarian whose name you've heard through ACRL? We are a profession of networkers and that still primarily comes through our divisions. Nothing says pigeon-hole to me like the ALA divisions.

I understand the necessity of grouping like things with like. Certainly college libraries are faced with different challenges than public libraries. But this strongly forced wedging of us means that it is at relatively great expense that we try to branch out to other types of librarianship. Also--my business card says Youth Services Librarian, La Crosse Public Library. Tell me, how many people on appointing committees for ACRL and RUSA would take me seriously? Would I truly be welcome in those divisions? Am I the only one hearing the sound of "Oh, well, she's just a children's librarian" with a polite pat on the head and shuffling me off back more appropriate divisions for my current work? I've already encountered professional condescension because I just work with children. It seems to baffle quite a lot of people that, while yes, I enjoy working with children, it might not be my only aspiration in my professional career.

Librarianship is supposed to be a flexible profession. And certainly I have met, heard of, and talked to librarians who have worked in all manner of libraries. They seem to be, however, the exceptions. Perhaps this is the choice of the professionals. But without our national organization (ALA) strongly encouraging and providing opportunities for us to find what else is out there, isn't it shunting people into neat boxes?

Though not presently job hunting, it is a concern I've had in the past and a legitimate barrier that I've run into that people get hung up on my current job title and forget the flexibility of the training we all underwent. And while I think there are many people in PLA who would be amazing to work with and fascinating to learn from, I wonder as I contemplate that check box on my ALA renewal if it will make me that much more pegged into a specific job type. Of course, professional involvement and professional development will always be what you make of it. I know that and I know I can only reap whatever I'm willing to put into my participation at ALA. I just wish there was a better way to explore more of ALA and more of librarianship without spending the equivalent of a month or two's rent, or at least more easily realized returns which made the investment feel worthwhile.

For those non-library people:
ALA --American Library Association
ALSC--Association for Library Service to Children
ACRL--Assocation of College and Research Libraries
RUSA--Reference and User Services Association
PLA--Public Library Association

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Apparently, unlike a few of my coworkers and several other friends, I don't have particularly negative memories of fresh fruit picking as a child. So when my Business Manager suggested we go U-Pick together, I was quite excited.

I have happy memories of strawberry picking, assisted by the fact that we had family friends who had a 40 acre strawberry farm. (They might still have it, near the southern border of Michigan--also asparagus and blueberries. I can give you an address if you need it.) So it was less of a chore and more of a field trip to the H's place. And it was very different from what we did at home and meant you came out of the fields with mouth and hands stained with strawberry juice.

Of course, this meant then coming home, cleaning berries forEVER, and then freezing them (twice).

But one forgets the cleaning, and instead remembers the warm happy memories. And yesterday absolutely added to the happy part.

Due to weather considerations, we spontaneously field tripped to La Crescent, MN last night for strawberries. It's a gorgeous farm that's in between bluffs, situated in an incredibly picturesque valley. After grabbing big trays in wood baskets from one sun-kissed teen, we headed to the end of the field.

And so, in work clothes and work shoes (fortunately, I was wearing stacked sandals), I hunkered down and went picking. It was incredibly meditative. It was coming up on six p.m., so while the sun was really bright but the temperature had cooled off. There were other people in the fields, but we were spaced out pretty well and I really didn't really feel like I had to listen to others conversations. The fields were beautiful. Tall, lush plants that were covered, just covered with strawberries. Not huge strawberries but normal sized ones, brilliantly ripe and red.

In just under an hour, we each filled our tray, hauled ourselves off our knees (I was crawling (super carefully) by that point--no strawberries were smashed on my pants!!) and headed back to the barn to have our strawberries weighed.

And mine came in just under 12 lbs. Hmmmmm. We adjourned to the car and I realized I had broken out in hives. While strawberries themselves don't bother me, apparently the little prickles all over the plant stems don't do good things to my lower arms. After I was dropped off at work (where the Gecko [Hedgepig's green car] was parked) I went in and scrubbed with soap and that seemed to rectify the situation pretty quickly.

I came home with my berries, also with new vacuum (stole type suggestion from another librarian on Twitter). I even managed to get them cleaned last night! I don't have a big deep freeze, so I couldn't do a "proper" double freeze (clean berries, freeze whole/flat, wait overnight, put frozen single berries into ziplocks and back in the freezer. So---this is what ended up happening.

The Freezer:

The Fridge:

I'm a happy happy hedgehog with many strawberries. Also, pretty pleased with myself that I remembered how to clean and freeze strawberries appropriately. Thank you to the IPM for dragging me through appropriate processes. That's as close to it as I could get with a teeny freezer and tons of strawberries.

Happy Birthday Garfield!!!

Don't forget to wish your favorite Orange Fat Cat Happy Birthday Today!

Happy 30th Garfield!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Review: Bewitching Season

Bewitching Season
Marissa Doyle

Fans of Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Magic Chocolate Pot will be eager to get their hands on Doyle's debut novel. Certainly I pestered my teen librarian until she agreed to order a copy for our library.

Penelope and Persephone, twin young magicians, are headed to London to make their debut. But while Penelope is eager to face the onslaught of parties and ballgowns, shyer Persy would prefer to stay quietly in the country to keep studying their secret magic. Such is not to be, however, and when they arrive in London to find their beloved governess/magic teacher kidnapped, there is nothing for it but to set out to rescue her.

Doyle presents interesting court intrigues as King William holds onto life until his niece (Victoria) can turn 18--a nice bit of history tucked in unobtrusively--, an annoying but still nice little brother, a bit of magic to help keep dresses from tripping one up and former childhood friends who are revealed to be perhaps a bit more than just past playmates.

The story follows Persy as she comes into her own in London. I would have liked to see a little more development for Penelope, her character and adventures weren't the focus and I didn't see a reason to not have her story and perhaps a love interest for her as well. Perhaps it's more realistic though for only one twin to fall madly in love. Though not quite as sharply witty as Wrede/Stevermer's offerings, this is still a highly engaging novel and highly recommended for teens looking for a romance with a little mystery and without anything 'mean girl' or graphic.

A Gentle Reminder...

While this is knitting focused, I think it may have broader application. A beautiful essay by Franklin Habit.

Back to your pointy sticks and crochet hooks :)

Take Two Snickers and Call Me Next Week.

Apparently it's snark central this week. I'm not sure what has set everyone off: good weather, bad weather, the end of the Democratic primaries, the full moon; everyone seems to be in quite the mood.

I'm by no means the exception. After nearly twenty minutes of listening to a child's voice drone pedantically, I went diving for my headphones. Usually the sound of children reading aloud doesn't bother me but today it was just too much. I couldn't understand the child and the tone was grating on that one nerve that just couldn't take it anymore.

There's a reason I have chocolate in the top drawer of my desk.

I wonder what it is that's setting people off. Are we all frustrated because kids have summer off and we want summer off too? Have we all just reached the proverbial limit for whining and bs? I'll admit to having a sore tongue from biting it so many times today.

If there was a giant bag of stuff-that-make-you-mellow lollipops I could pass out, I'd be tempted to. Along with mandatory "go get some sunshine" breaks and an extra afternoon off where you were required to go read somewhere quiet while enjoying a favorite snack.

Unfortunately that's not going to happen today, I'll be here 'til close with the picked clean DVD shelves and the swarms of children whose parents haven't seen them since dawn, or at very least 9 a.m. when they dropped them off here for the day.

Me and my York Peppermint Patties...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Planning for August

"You're coming with me to the yarn stores. I'll make you decide between colors and watch me squeak over yarn and when we get through you can pretty much drag me anywhere as long as I can bring my wool with me."

---How I got talked into hiking in Colorado in August. I don't really ...hike. This ought to be interesting.

"I feel like a sneetch"

--My key card hangs on a lanyard at stomach height. My hands were full most of the week when I was approaching doors.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What Long Antennae You Have

It was my turn to do the "big programs" at the branches this week. Incidentally, I went first of the staff members doing there. Now, it's Friday and I've completed mine and it isn't even June 15th. Method to the madness.

Each of us chose bugs to focus on--I picked ladybugs. I thought it would be relatively easy to find stories about ladybugs and the Incredibly-Patient-Mother offered to help me plan appropriate songs.

It ended up being a little harder than planned--origami is tough for small hands and I had tied on an extra set of legs. You would think that would be helpful but they got in the way. Still, we got through quite the rousing rounds of "We're Going on a Bug Hunt..." and "Miss Ladybug Says." These kids are far better than I am at listening for the Simon Says cue...

And the facilities crew may never let me live down the pigtails. Oh well, I'm sure Princess Leia buns will follow at some point.

Me...with antennae

My groups

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Feeling Super Special!!!!! (Picture Heavy)

This post is very picture heavy. If you receive the blog via email (*cough Andrew cough*) it will probably behoove you to click through to the site. Not sure if everything will email through.

I got home today to an especially nifty little package waiting at my door!

It had quite the postmark:
(Great Britain if you can't read it...sorry, camera wasn't cooperating)

Totally awesome packing tape

And AMAZING goodies inside!!!

Jennie sent me most excellent treats--including really good chocolate and some totally awesome quilled animals and flowers! She has lots and lots of skill and quite the eye for detail.

There was a sheep (now frolicking in the stash)

Many tiny ducklings

This is the tiniest duckling on my you get an idea of just how small and delicate these are:

Two of the most adorable elephants on the planet (big soft spot for the pink one....he's getting specially displayed...just have to figure out how)

And last...but certainly not least....
Check out this hedgehog!!!!

Jennie---I promise to hit publish post and then go send you an email but thank you so very much. I'm truly touched!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It takes months for me to get my body on a daytime functional schedule. It takes me 24 hours to revert to being nocturnal and very happy with that.

At 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, I finally bribed myself into going to bed. I'd been telling myself that I was waiting for the storms to pass, as wave after wave of thunderstorms and downpours swept through. I hadn't been outside in almost 24 hours but I watched as the parking lot puddles got deeper and we had not only some truly fantastic lightning but also a rainbow (photo soon if I can pick one I like).

But as I sat cross-legged on my futon(1) working on yet another repeat of the shawl, I considered sleeping. And four times I put it off for another row and another podcast. I've been catching up on back episodes of Lime & Violet, a very giggly knitting podcast. There's a lot of ridiculousness to it, but in that there is a lovely escape. Hearing them talk about the opening of The Loopy Ewe (now very popular online) and just gaining perspective on things that were supposed to happen and never did, or now seem very far in the past.

But it makes Monday morning so much earlier when one has joined nocturnal world again. And even though I know I should go to bed at 11:30 when my body has it's "first round of feeling sleepy" it is far more likely that I'll be up 'til 3 a.m., listening to pods, reading a book and realizing that I have to be up in four hours for work.

It's now Wednesday and I'm allllmost back to daytime functioning. A LARGE mug of coffee helps with that, as does a health dose of storytime (adrenaline in the form of small children). But while I promise myself I'll "go to bed at a reasonable hour" tonight--I know I'm just as likely to be up until 2 a.m., watching a movie, catching up on the ironing, and tackling the paperwork that keeps piling up higher.

Sleeping until noon on Saturday--whose with me?

(1) We used to call it Indian style, is that politically incorrect now?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer Reading Program: Blog Edition

We did it before and we're back's time for Summer Reading. My goal for this summer? Get through 3 books. Three specific books.

Born to Rule
Secret Archives of the Vatican

Two of those need to go back to live at M's house. And the other on was recommended by VA. So I need to get hopping. I figure there will be my usual dose of fluffy romance, ya novels, and revisiting of Jane Austen. But hey...sanity comes first.

What are you reading this summer?

Down to the Wire on ALA

My membership in ALA lapses at the end of the month so it is coming close to time to decide if I'll renew another year. I assume I probably will--at least a basic membership--though I'd rather spend the $120 on many other things. I feel like I need to give it another year and another solid "try" before fully giving up on it and since Madame Director is about as supportive as anyone I'll be able to is a good time.

Reminder that there is a survey for members on electronic participation. Karen's got the details. Please, please, please if you're a member go over and fill this out. Insert cynical comment about how fast change will come here...but change must come.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Take a Moment to Remember Your Creativity

Though AudioGirl might disagree on the exact timeline, I would pin my current level of creativity kicking back into high gear some time early-mid last summer. It was then I resumed most actively work with pen and needles.

First and foremost, I am a writer. This is as true a description of me at age six as it is now. Granted, I usually try to write in slightly more complete and grammatical sentences but if you were to abscond with my journal, you'd probably find the same true and raw emotions as expressed by a six year old as you might now. But my writing took a nosedive about three years ago and waned to nearly nonexistent. Some of my best writing comes from high and low emotions and certainly the past three years has been a period of my life when I was experiencing all kinds of drama. But for nearly two years I didn't write about it. A box of journals will attest to my self-chronicling and seeing myself go months at a time without an entry was pretty freaky.

At that same time last summer, my yarn and needle obsession seriously turned upwards. Certainly it didn't hurt that it was at this point that I gained access to Ravelry and suddenly had thousands of new friends to promote this craft to me. And certainly I was knitting and acquiring yarn before that, but not with my current passion.

It will surprise few that this re-emergence of my creative self coincided with the termination of a long term relationship. It was a point of concern within the relationship that I did not write--for without that documentation, where was the preservation of the relationship? Without resetting the scene and stage for myself, other memories soon take over and take precedence and those two years are banished further into hazy past.

During that relationship my creative self took back seat and was shuttered into very specific outlets. Sunday nights saw its strongest emergence as I would leave my apartment and head to a friend's for band practice. I wasn't in the band but I was always welcome to curl up in the corner, a giant afghan in progress on my lap, to listen and sing along. It was the truest to myself that I would be for nearly two years. For while they did not understand my fascination with pointy sticks and gray acrylic, I was among friends and musicians.

And now, no longer hampered, I find myself fully absorbed again into my creative self. I'm happy to stay up again until 5 a.m., debating as I sit in my not-quite-a-rocking-chair whether I should just wait up until sunrise or if sunrise will even be visible through all the recent rain. I can justify to myself the hours needed to create a work of yarn art and eagerly anticipate the next row, even if it's just the same stitch over and over.

I appeal to you to take a moment to think about your current creativity. Take a step back this week and ask: what is my craft? Am I knitting, am I writing, am I being myself? For if a band full of young men with absolutely no fiber art interest can understand why I'm now on my 283rd row, so must there be others who understand. In this ever increasingly small world, find those who inspire you, encourage you, and want you to embrace the art that is your own.

And to the AudioGirl, the Brunette, the Blonde, and the members of Cylus Wood, thank you for always appreciating and encouraging my particular insanity.

Random Quote Sunday: Food on the Brain

"Ooooo! My pudding is here!"

---we got four cans for worms/dirt next at next week's bug festival

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cool Hedgehog Photo!

Sibling-the-Younger found a photo of an albino hedgehog! Shared here for your Friday brain entertainment.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Backing off the Visual Stimulation

I came across an interesting paradox the other day as I browsed the new picture books. While I'm trying to put together a very visually stimulating, graphically appealing, bright and vibrant website--the newest and some of the most popular picture books hitting the shelves are have simple, clean and rather muted drawings.

The two books that brought this to mind are

Not a Stick
Antoinette Portis


Don't Worry Bear
Greg Foley

But, as my coworker pointed out, this might be a trend we saw started by the overwhelming popularity of Mo Willem's Pigeon Books. Here we are seeing a movement towards children's books that are a little less glossy, a little less assault on the senses. They make for good storytime fodder -- combining simple illustrations with good writing. The children can focus on the reader and the words without quite so much distraction. And our circulation numbers suggest the kids enjoy taking the books home too.

This trend demonstrates to me that we as adults and we with our children can and do still enjoy simple. And perhaps that is why many of us still read. Reading books usually comes down to black, white, words, text, pages, and simple paper. Certainly my trashy romance novel has a glossy cover of a barely dressed wench and a hunky and almost always topless male--but within the pages there is just me and the characters and usually, in my mind, the characters look nothing like the cover models. (Any resemblance to movie stars or gorgeous people I know or might have a crush on is purely coincidental.)

But I did find it encouraging that amongst the glut of shiny, bright, sparkly, moving, frantic and NOW--to see simple, beautiful, and screaming pigeons making the bestsellers lists.

So Far About Twitter

David taught me another new word: Tweeps.

Tweep - (n) Tw-Ep. A friend or person on Twitter with whom one shares information via 140 character posts to a continuously updating website.

It's a couple of weeks and about 200 updates into Twitter for me. I've been reserving opinion because shortly after my joining their primary server crashed. I take no responsibility for said crash. But they're back and seem to be more stable/less overloaded. I'm not continually heading over to Is Twitter Down, which I take to be a good sign.

The service is kind of like a ton of asynchronous conversations all at once. It's interesting to be able to keep up with some people who don't blog all the time or don't blog personal stuff and I've been able to cheer for a few friends. But it's hard to know if your Tweet makes sense if it's been an hour since whatever it was you're responding to and there's a lot of stuff I'm sure we could all do without.

There are aspects I do like--the somewhat asynchronous fashion being one of them. I can go back a couple of hours and "catch up on my Tweeps." I like the more personal nature of many of tweets--I've followed along as an elderly neighbor has received help, meetings with bosses have gone well, burn out has been avoided (or at least ranted about), and a lot of steam has been blown off in little nibblets. And I like that at this point I seem to be able to walk away without too much angst. I was mostly offline all of last weekend and while I was worried about my email inbox and somewhat frantic about the size of my feeds--I was okay with Twitter going by the wayside.

The problems are there: the site isn't always stable; how long does it still make sense to respond; just how witty can I be in 140 character snippets.

It's an interesting raw stream of consciousness and while I'm not sure I'll be quite the heavy user some of the people I follow are, it's an interesting tool. At least, until summer reading takes over my brain and I'm totally non functional til August.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Free Book!

Got your attention didn't I?

One of my favorite romance authors of all time, Julia Quinn, has a new book out. And said new book was waiting on my doorstep for me when I got home last night, which was pretty nifty. Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to do much more than crawl in the door with all the stuff that I'd drug home from the Incredibly-Patient-Mother's house, chuck it it in a heap, and collapse into a small heap on the bed. But trust me, it's going to the top of the reading pile pronto.

Julia's newsletter came out this morning with an alert that you can, for a limited time, read one of her most popular books online in entirety for free. (Say that one three times fast!)

So if you've been trying to understand my bizarre obsession with happily-ever-after not very ripping bodice rippers or you just need something to pass the time one a dull afternoon, The Duke and I is available here.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Health is Highly Underrated

"I'm feeling better, I need to bleach something."

-Trying to explain to my mother why scrubbing down my bath and kitchen was assisting in the getting well process--the whole chasing disease out thing.

"I see a barista! U-TURN!"

-Explaining to my sister the discovery of just how early my Starbucks opens.

Survived the disgustingly hot commencement. Congratulations to Valedictorian Sibling-the-Younger and the Class of 2008!! (Seriously, it was a eleventy-hundred degrees in there and of course we were sitting in the rafters.)