Sunday, August 31, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: I'm in Colorado....

At least, I will be on Sunday. I'm hanging out with the one of my best friends and his parents.

In preparation of getting ready to go:

"I forgot to plan around the orange hat. I'm going to have to go home and reevaluate. Can a pink tank top work with a burnt orange hat?"

Discussing seafood--which I don't eat:

"When the eating instructions at the table involve "cut/tear the head off..." and it's not a marshmallow peep or chocolate rabbit..."

And what are we on?

"Plan Q...because we know I passed plans A, B and C a looooong time ago."

While Madame Director found it both amusing and...strangely normal, I still don't think she was expecting me to announce that I was going to an alpaca festival over the weekend. Hiking and fishing, okay... alpaca and Stephen King? But the 50SPF and I are off having a marvelous time. The alpaca yarn and I will be home soon.

(Have I mentioned how much I love scheduling posts in advance?)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Different Kind of Life

I made the mistake of explaining my current involvement in online social networking sites recently. The response from the adult in question, who has no problem shoving gaming down the collective throat, was that I obviously had no life. Forgive me if I snarkily disagree. It's a more wired/screen focused type of life but it's where I have developed a number of new close friendships and professional relationships and it has led to a number of IRL contacts.

I'm into my "adult" years (according to advertising categories). I've reached that point where friends aren't as easily come by after relocation. I'm not currently in any coursework where I might go to coffee with classmates and while I have some awesome coworkers, even we need some time away from each other. I wouldn't really consider myself an introvert but going to bars by myself has never particularly been my thing (and generally not that of most people I know) so I've moved more into meeting people in online communities. With such a wealth of people to be met through friends of friends and through hobbies, is it any wonder that many of us are doing the same?

Social networking has also allowed for regeneration of old friendships or to continue/supplement current or newer ones. Because of bizarre schedules and never knowing just what time zone the Brunette is in, I'm hesitant to call him when I usually think about him--which is usually between ten p.m. and midnight. It might be okay, or I might be interrupting the one night of sleep he really needs before an early morning in Florida. But when I see him in online chat we can catch up, in real time, without having to worry about interrupting each other. One of the editors I used to work for is in Alabama, which is a bit far for board game night, but we can Scramble our little hearts out on Facebook. And "old-fashioned" email is keeping me connected to a high school classmate currently deployed in Iraq.

I have friends all over the world who share my knitting and yarn fascination. It is to them I turn when I hit a snag in a project, need inspiration, or just feel like jumping into a debate that to pursuers of other hobbies, sounds amazingly trivial. Alongside the conversations comes notes about each others lives and it is incredibly difficult to separate yourself or to not care. We cheer each other on whether it be a knitting or other triumph and share sorrows and grief. When you are connected one way, it is easier to find other connections in life.

Such of course is not to devalue the new friends I do meet locally nor the friends I see only in person. Having face to face interaction is one of the best way I like to spend time with my friends. On a recent trip, I checked email once in four days, perfectly content to let the online world take care of itself while I immersed myself in the people I was with. While I probably missed a few things, as I would if I missed a night out with friends, I could browse through and catch up on details when I got back. So while it may not be a life some would espouse, it is a full and pretty rewarding one. And it means there's usually someone up for a chat when the insomnia kicks in yet again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Embracing Childhood Literature

Does anyone else remember the Little Miss and Mr. Men series? Why it was always Little Miss and why never Little Mr. I'll never know but I have fond memories of making the Incredibly-Patient-Mother read Little Miss Clean to me over and over and over and over again. She ran outside, wiped up the puddle, ran inside, washed the rag, dried it, ironed it (a washcloth...), and put it away. It was quite extreme but I'm here to tell you--I don't iron my washcloths. So apparently it didn't warp me too much.

But those books--are back. They were in my fall Penguin Group Catalog under the Price Stern Sloan section.

and Amazon has them.

Okay /dork.

The Vatican Book...

Jane pointed out I didn't link a book I mentioned yesterday. Sorry...I forget you can't all see my bedside table.

Secret Archives of the Vatican by Maria Luisa Ambrosini

M loaned it to me and heaven help me I'm having a hard time with it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Multiple Intelligences, Multiple Interests

I love hanging out with my friends--I am reminded how amazingly brilliant they are in such a wide variety of ways. It also makes me feel like I should be doing and reading far more than I am and almost always makes me want to go back to school.

I attended a barbecue recently with friends who have been displaying a crazy amount of raw brain power for some years. There was discussion of theater, various types of vegetarian burgers, non-lactose cow sensitivity, Solzhenitsyn, and the current state of architecture in the Eastern Bloc. What does one label the cement structures we saw being built during the sixties and the cold war? How do you compare the gulag descriptions of Solzhenitsyn to those of other Russian writers who were in Siberia prisons? So goat's milk is okay but perhaps, at some point, not beef? It's enough to send one diving for the lit crit and history books along with the relish and another ham/veggie/turkeyburger.

I was debating this with M on the way home from the BBQ. While much of our discussions revolve around some medical obscurities, what she's writing and what I'm knitting--she's also my source on antiques, china patterns, and gemstones. I've learned more in the last two years about gemstones....

I am fascinated at the breadth of interests humans have and pursue. My Kiwanis club recently had a speaker in who talked about mountain bikers and new ecologically friendly trails they are putting in the bluffs near here, millions of people who will travel for a weekend of riding specialized bikes on these eco-friendly trails. Add in the hikers, regular bike riders, dog walkers, runners, roller bladers, and letterboxers and you can imagine how many new tourists we might see coming into La Crosse. This in stark contrast to me--who had to go buy a pair of "real" sneakers because I'm going out to Colorado and we're going out on a hike. Keds, I'm told, will not cut it on the trail. Upstairs (at least in my library) there are entire sections of books I never even consider when browsing for something to read, whole sections of the LC or Dewey or classification aide of your choice that I've never particularly devled into. But others do...and that's pretty cool.

It's lovely to have these friends who shake me out of my usual day to day. It is, I think, a general trend to read on generally the same subjects, and we often get lost in the every day. It's easy when we're constantly hammered with information from all sides. I read RSS feeds to the near exclusion of all other non-fiction and at times get so lost in my profession that I forget there are other exciting things out there. And then the phone rings or a bbq happens and I'm shaken out of my reverie.

Now if I can just work up the concentration to read the book about the Vatican library.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Last Round

We had an overnight gaming event at work last night. 12 hours with five other adults, 16 boys and 1 girl. I was kitchen wench, which meant I saw all the guys repeatedly in search of more salty snacks and another soda (six each, we'd passed out drink tickets). It went well, though I don't think I will ever understand the fascination with Rock Band or FPS games. Still, it had a bit of a sense of being in a frat house, with exhaustion taking the place of the expected lack of sobriety. These were young teens after all.

But our quote this week comes from Lady-in-Charge from last night, who made the following announcement around 3 a.m.

"Last call for freezie pops."

I'm going back to bed shortly. I don't have to be I'm not going to be.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Everyone Needs a Good Car Guy....

When I got back from NY late Sunday night and hopped into my car I noticed a strange new sound. The Gecko (one green pontiac) screeching generally is not a good thing and when it happened again on Monday--I called my garage. Dropped it off this morning, heard by 10:30 the diagnosis (new front breaks), and picked it up at 12:45 p.m. The car is running even more quietly than I'm used to and I know I have fresh brakes for trip to the Incredibly-Patient-Mother's next month. But it got me thinking about people I regularly rely on--because in CHI, I didn't have regular "car guys" and that resulted in issues we won't go into.

People Everyone Needs (or at least I do...)

1) Someone you can call/text/IM at 3 a.m. for advice --double points if they'll come over.

2) Reliable car repair people --someone who is honest about the cost, understands you don't always know the innards of your car, and can get things fixed without it taking forever.

3) Someone you trust with scissors/razor/curling iron. Occasionally we all need a trim, up-do, and--in my case--three inches off the bottom and layers please?

4) Someone who will assist in the pampering of you: massage therapist, nail specialist, chiropracter: whatever is your preferred method of self-indulgence. It's good for the body, good for the self esteem, good for the soul.

5) A friend who understands your hobby/collection. We all have something.

6) Someone with very different interests than yours. They help you find new things to discuss whether it be Cold War architecture, Oprah book club selections, fly-fishing. It also makes you come up with good analogies: I use handdyed yarn, they use hand tied flies.

Anyone I missed?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Oink Free Storytime

This morning I did a pig-themed storytime. Discussing it just now with Madame Director I came to a rather startling realization. In four books, two rhymes, and nearly forty minutes--I didn't have the kids oink.

How does one miss oinking during a PIG storytime?

We read:

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka)
(Wolf's point of view, so no oinking)

Olivia by Ian Falconer
(Olivia is anthropomorphized--no oinking)

Twenty Hungry Piggies by Trudy Harris
(Again, anthropomorphized....wolf growls but no oinks)

Piggies in a Polka by Kathi Appelt
(Pigs dancing, singing, using various obscure dance and party terms)

And though they aren't really the best for storytime (the art doesn't work so well with a room full of kids--very detailed), I did bring in all the Toot and Puddle books for the kids to take with them. Holly Hobbie does incredible artwork and really beautiful stories. That's me....raising the circulation on the pig picture books.

But apparently not oinking.

About the Canada story....

There's a story going around about how a knitting group has been ousted from a library.

Several people have passed this on to me as I happen to not only have a little yarn issue but I have a pretty healthy knitters group here at work. (And in the interest of full disclosure, we're going on a four month break after today-- we're going to do scrapbooking for a few months. Knitting will resume in January.)

I have a feeling we're not getting the full story. It's unclear if the knitting was library sponsored or was an outside group using the space. The Yarn Harlot mentions in today's post that this is a small branch open only part-time without a lot of programming space or staff. That is a very different space to try and coordinate as opposed to my children's department, where we have several spaces we could use for programming and I'm fortunate enough to have the time to take ninety minutes out of my schedule to supervise a small group of attendees while other staff is available to help patrons find books/check things in and out/etc. I have a solid group of knitters but not a huge one and that can be both positive and negative in the eyes of those higher up or in the community.

It is always difficult to know what to cut, what to change and what to promote. Libraries have missions and mission statements, with a focus on literacy and information literacy. Most libraries have increasingly restricted budgets and sky-rocketing materials costs, with patrons who think they should never have to wait more than five minutes after a release date for the latest best-seller or block buster movie. It's a delicate balance of buying copies to meet a need and spending all your money in one place. And trying to make space available to public groups while still having space/time for library programs is an even bigger headache.

I hope the library is successful in being able to create more literary focused programs and events that will appeal to their community. I hope the knitters step up and create a book group. I hope people understand this isn't about hating a specific craft or punishing anyone but trying to meet their mission and the literacy and information needs of their community. And for that book club may I recommend:

Shall I Knit You a Hat?
by Kate Klise


Chicks with Sticks (Knit Two Together)
by Elizabeth Lenhard


At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

to start?

(Stephanie even has audio books--they might be able to get together and listen to her read!)

Monday, August 18, 2008

There is only one hedgehog
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Random Quote Sunday: or Monday, what?

I did make it back from New York and the Brunette's wedding shower before midnight last night but crawled into bed shortly after arriving home. Something about air travel and lots of pulling together of a wedding shower that lasted nearly eight hours--it takes it out of a girl.

It was a weekend of old and new friends, of leaky tents and sunbathing by the pool, of glamorous and messy, and of tons of hugs and kisses.

"We used to sit around talking about finals, now we talk about weddings."
(Another engagement was announced this weekend from amongst my college friends.)

"Yes, I even came back with the same girlfriend."
(DBG--talking about a trip to Italy)

"There are wire and shiny things!"
(A reaction from the groom at the wedding shower--talking about a card)

"I'm just the un-edited portion of your brain."
(To one of my coworkers)

And if you're one of my facebook friends--the photos are up from the shower. I didn't post them but if you look at pics I'm tagged in you can pop over there. One of the groomsmen took a lot of great pics.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's on Display?: All About the Girls

We have this weird cubby hole at work where two stand up OPACs* used to reside. When I came to LPL a year ago this was affectionately known as the Harry Potter Shrine. It housed all eleventy-two thousand copies of the seven books in print and audiobook format. Somewhere around January we agreed to dismantle the shrine (even Deathly Hallows wasn't on hold for anyone anymore) and interfile the books, with a healthy handful going into storage as replacement copies for when some of them wore out.

Thus began the advent of me, back to the rest of the room, crawling around three and a half feet off the ground putting up various backdrops. Wallpapered concrete is not the easiest to decorate--but I'm pretty good with a role of tape and Madame Director and our Guru of Facilities just said they'd get me cork board to make my life easier going forward.

But after a summer of butterfly boxes where we grew two rounds of Brassica Butterflies (the first set we hatched did the whole mating thing) and talked about caterpillars and how they eat cabbage and plants in the mustard family, it was time for a change. So break out the purple backdrop, it's time for the girl books.

There are a lot of emerging female protagonists who have some nice backbone as well as some classics. A few (not comprehensive) recommendations for elementary aged girls:

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day (Meg Cabot)
Sarah Simpson's Rules for Living (Rebecca Rupp)
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Like Writing Thank You Not
es (Peggy Gifford)
Judy Moody (Megan McDonald)
Mallory (Laurie Friedman)
Enola Holmes (Nancy Springer)

Mercy Watson (Kate DiCamillo)
The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy (Diane Stanley)
Beacon Street Girls (Annie Bryant)
Main Street Girls (Ann M. Martin)
Rodzina (Karen Cushman)

Ramona (Beverly Cleary)

The Alice Books (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor)

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)

Harriet the Spy (Louise Fitzhugh)

Matilda (Roald Dahl)

Charlotte's Web
(E.B. White)

Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene)

Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine)

I'm using LibraryThing's Free Covers!! This is most incredibly awesome.

*OPAC-- computers that just have the library catalog on them

2.0--a visual diagram

Check out a brilliant representation of 2.0 stuff from Jessica Hagy!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Back in Quote Mode, Weirder than Ever

"She is the queen of the Hippopotami."
(Yes...referring to this book again. )

"It just makes you feel better about Texas. "
(Lovely state...I hear they have yellow roses)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Hamlet: Facebook Edition

David pointed this out to a few of us earlier this someone who listened to Hamlet 60+ times last fall I found it most amusing.

Hamlet is a fabulous play, and CST did a lovely job, and Ben Carlson is a great actor. But at some point we all just started to ask "Is Ophelia dead yet?"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tag Team Catch Up

I went back to work tonight after dinner. We're short two aides and the aide I work with the most had come in to a pretty nasty backlog. This is the second night in a row she's come into such a backlog. Though always upbeat, she was rather daunted with the amount of books/DVDs before her and waiting in circulation. I had a dinner appt and couldn't stay late as I usually would have but by the end of dinner I'd decided I would rather go back and help her than stew about it and get frustrated.

I have to say--this particular aide continually impresses me. Last night while I was putting up one display and climbing in and our porthole with a glass shelf as part of putting up another display (yes, we have a 6' porthole), she powered through an incredible backlog. Tonight she came in to four half to mostly filled carts that were each barely grouped by section (chapter books/teen/non fiction/etc) but not alphabetized--plus two more full carts in circulation. By the time I got back from dinner she had all the carts integrated and alphabetized and was ready to start flying the books out to the shelves.

And I kid you not when I say she can shelve circles around me. As I went through teen and the children's fiction she HAULED through picture books, easy readers and non fiction. I shelved a few DVDs while she straightened up the room, and we exited stage left, with only a cart that I'd pulled from circulation and sorted waiting for the morning. While it would have been okay, and (in my opinion) quite understandable if some other books had been left for the next day--it would have frustrated her and, as she's leaving for a nice long weekend, I felt we should avoid that.

Truly--she impresses me. If we were all as efficient imagine how much more we'd get done. :)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Day in the Life of a Librarian: Weekend Edition

It's been interesting to watch the "Day in the Life" meme floating around. This is from Saturday.

Prework: Starbucks--I was doing a riverside watch until 3 a.m. for Kiwanis to ensure no one hopped into the Mississippi last night so caffeine was really necessary. Saw my favorite barista who wished me "good luck" along with my iced latte.

8:30Turning on the children's internet computers, pre-loaded game computers, self-check, catalog computers, youth reference desk computer. Pile up stuff to work on today at desk, remind circulation staff I'm completely on my own in dept until noon (no aide), grab full book/DVD carts to sort for aide before she comes in.

8:50-9:02 Discuss with B the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. B had gone to pick up book at midnight. Debate whether or not male lead is controlling/unhealthy relationship/role model and if it's good/bad for girls to read that kind of relationship.

9:02 First DVD returned from patron who brought case back, but not DVD. We get a lot of those. Sorting book cart. Check email and pull up RSS feeds to start through news, library world, and knitting community.

9:40 Chat with mom about making sure kids keep reading after summer reading program. Incentives are good but we both hope they'll keep reading. Considering stack of books being checked out, I have faith. First parent/child disagreement over whether or not it's time to get off the computer--high cause of whining in kids dept.

10:22 Add Beacon Street Girls and Ann Martin's Main Street series to list of "Girl Protagonist" books for display hopefully going up tomorrow. Start list of "Boy Protangonist" books that will go up after that.

10:30 Noting, yet again, it's send dad and kids to the library morning. Used to be like this at Gymboree too. Power dads who worked all week would come in for classes on Saturday with their little ones. Me and the stock brokers, financial dealers, lawyers, etc....and a parachute.

10:34 Listening to very enthusiastic Patron Age 8 reading aloud to self from a picture book. Quite the performance as patron sits on the floor: hands on hips, etc.

10:53 Book cart sorted and easy readers shelved (can do in view of desk), starting in on DVDs. We have to do verification (did the disc come back?) and create missing pieces pile. Also remove label/change status for ones coming off of "new" shelf in August.

11:10 First gamer arrives, fifty minutes before afternoon gaming session.

11:25 Patron Age 16 upset because can't check out a laptop--has fines in excess of what our system will allow for computer usage ($10). Refuses list of things that are overdue so items could be located.

11:35 Peace sign greeting from one of the gamers. Small herd of them around internet computers but they've been pretty quiet so far. Just some sounds of spacebars being annihilated. Gaming Assistant checks in with me and hands off the sign in clip board.

12:08 Hooray for aide! She's happy that carts are pre-sorted for her, will mean she doesn't end up way way behind.

12:17 No, you can't use internet session someone else walked away from and you can't sign into two computers with one child's card. Yes, the circulation desk will tell you the same thing.

12:35 Waves magic wand--yes we have very very beginning learning French materials (book with cd kit)

1:24 Locate Allosaur movie with Kenneth Branagh for Patron Age 6 --sorting/casing teen dvds, juvenile done ready to shelve

1:40 Marking new audiobooks with orange tape--visual cue for aides, hopefully patrons. Hopefully they like new titles I've ordered.

2:00 Spelling out Gaming Assistant for 15 minutes. Crochet hook and rest of my iced coffee. Ears open to make sure decibel stay at a decent level and language stays within bounds.

2:50 Putting in a massive rush order for Tiara Club books. Have had many requests for these from small princesses. Three copies of the first 18 books. Next up after that (probably tomorrow/Monday) Flower Fairy Friends.

3:42 Self check is not always the best way, trust me on this one.

3:55 Figure out how to unstick stuck music cd security case with one of our ladies of circulation

4:05 Check book drop for final time today (we have to make sure it re-sets after empty probably--otherwise big headache)

4:14 Realize I'm finally ready to start on pile of things I'd planned to work on today.

4:53 Decide Flower Fairies Friends series is a convoluted mess of publishing. Need to order about 15 titles plus make decision if we're getting the not-chapter books. Should wait til Tuesday when I'm not on desk to debate this fully.

4:55 off to help aide tidy up.

Throughout the day I was answering reference questions, placing holds, directing to the bathroom, etc but felt it better not to include all the details of those.

Book Review: The Red Queen's Daughter

The Red Queen's Daughter
by Jacqueline Kosolov

The fictional life of the daughter of the last wife of Henry VIII is an interesting, but badly handled idea.

Kosolov takes on a real subject, Katherine Parr's daughter by Thomas Seymour, Mary, whose mother died at birth and father died as a traitor shortly thereafter. The real Mary died as a toddler. We are introduced to this orphaned child at nine when her guardianship changes from a Duchess to a mysterious Lady Strange. Brought up thus far to be a lady and a fabulous embroiderer, now her life takes an unusual turn as she's going to now prepare to be a white magician in the court of a virgin queen. At sixteen she joins Elizabeth's court and is plunged into it's intrigues.

I had high hopes for this book and while it was a quick read and one I did read start to finish yesterday evening--I was left hoping for a lot more. Kosolov creates an interesting world but doesn't flesh it out particularly well. She makes a leap of six years without much warning to the reader and after that jump things were extremely choppy. Mary takes her place at court and jumps in and out of intrigue uncleanly. Her first cousin Edmund, also a rising power at court (and a totally fictional character), is her love interest but is evil. He hurts her friend but he's so appealing. Mary is a magician but only does the most random of spells and she's there to help Elizabeth, but doesn't seem to do so. Mary can't be known to be a magician but strong powerful men of the court are pouring out secrets to her. I have some doubts about the veracity of powerful men of Elizabeth's court confiding in a sixteen year old lady in waiting.

Mary relies heavily on a benevolent spirit that lives in a white dog and is her constant companion. Because of this, Mary never seems to really make her own judgments but instead has a voice of wisdom telling her what to say and when. Overall I was struck how passive character Mary is--rarely acting on her own or getting herself out of scrapes. There is almost hope for her at the end, when in the course of a week she endeavors to seduce her cousin, but even then it was so rushed and confused that it just seemed ridiculous. Rare is the man who completely falls for a woman in a week and will give up all of his evil plans at self-promotion within the rising powerful court of Elizabeth I.

The book is murky. I would have liked to see either a longer book or a more direct one. It was an interesting concept but Mary wasn't an active enough character for me. I would have liked to see her come into her own more, or to show influence with Elizabeth. Kosolov adds in weird aura and gemstone references and unclear snippets of magic sprinkled all over the place to make for a confusing blend.

Ultimately an unsatisfying read: muddled magic, a romantic relationship that seems poorly thought out, an ending that totally took a left turn that seems really un-thought-out and a heroine who remains unredeemed.

Random Quote Sunday: I've been shopping.

"I just did the world's fastest sprint over there for Good Morning!"

--Good Morning is a scent of soap just released by Happy Housewife Soaps and Sundries. She did a big update last night and there was a huge swarm of soap/perfume sharks. Most of the soaps are sold out (she started with 23 scents, currently has 8) but stuff available here. Good stuff. :)

"XX skeins of yarn jump into my cart, that's what happens."

--Apparently the yarn diet is over. I'll let you fill in the blank of just HOW much yarn I got. Suffice to say it was a lot. (Sale is at WEBS) And yes, it was a two figure number so no greater than 99.

"I assume our energy levels are under control today?"

--I'm the mean librarian, I send people home when they launch themselves across the room at an 8 ft. giraffe. A little pre-emptive warning today.