Sunday, October 26, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Only 62 More Knitting Days...

I'm actually home in La Crosse with the Incredibly Patient Mother. And I don't leave the state until December (if all goes as planned). AND election day is nearly here, which means in just over another week I won't have to look at any more campaign ads. I will, however, have to survive my library as polling place.

But until then:

"It's a good pattern, life force sucking and evil but a good pattern."
(Can we tell the holiday knitting has started?)

"He did his best but I managed to survive the evening."
(Re-enacting Anne Boleyn's death for the library Halloween party.)

"No one else seemed to realize I was in mourning, but wearing black in New York--even to a wedding--is almost always acceptable."
(Quote from a hopeful NaNoWriMo project)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Making an Effort....Or at Least Trying to

There's been growing discussion on the boards the last couple of weeks about participation in our national organizations. For the majority of us, this seems to be a sore topic full of frustration. I particularly liked Emily Ford's discussion of it, self-identifying somewhere around Level 2 (trying to be involved but generally feeling stifled).

I did finally re-up for another year of ALA, after much pondering, many consultations, and not a few rounds of ranting how this was resume filler that didn't seem to be doing much good to/for anyone. I appealed to NMRT, Madame Director, the RefQueen, and a ridiculous number of non-librarians (who don't particularly care) on their opinion of if I should rejoin. It meant I reconnected with one of my libschool cohorts but didn't provide much in the way of clarity.

Ultimately, I decided to give Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) a try. It's a division of ALA, such that to join what I was interested in, I had to join the overhead. With optimism of how welcoming they are, and the knowledge that I had a few friends in there already, I sent away the hard earned funds and the committee form. I signed up on the LITA list....

Thus far....that's been it. No one has emailed regarding committees and while the list has had a couple of interesting conversations, I've not really seen anything I felt inclined to dive into. This is rather dissatisfying as I was looking to actually get involved in doing something more than read lists.

Granted, I actually can identify projects LITA has taken on (e.g BIGWIG) and I know a number of the names and faces around LITA. But when I've brought the topic up on other library related networking places it's been met without much response. And that's kind of frustrating. I'm not sure if everyone is just focused elsewhere or if it's based on my inability to go to both conferences.

So tonight I fling myself at the list again, hoping to spark something. Not sure what yet, but something....

And yes, in the interim, there is the LSW.

Making Changes...

It seems to be quite the month for change, this month of October where the weather can't decide if it's actually fall or some other month not to be determined (we've had everything from April to December). Not only did I add braces, I also cut my hair.

This doesn't sound particularly life changing unless you've known me for a number of years. I've had waist length hair since grade school.

And then, on an almost spur of the moment before the Brunette's wedding, an extremely wonderful hairdresser named Olga cut eleven inches of hair off. It was in the back of my mind that I might consider it when I went in for the first trim I'd gotten from her in a long time. Moving half-way across the country from your trusted hairdresser is not something I recommend.

The cut off locks will be donated when I can round up an envelope and get myself to the post office. As certain friends can attest, I'm not very good at mailing packages in a prompt fashion. So now I give you the update and some commentary.



Thoughts on the Process:

1) If you are not the person who is considering donation, it is the extremely rude to approach someone--either friend or total stranger--and suggest to them that they should cut their hair and donate it. Chances are very good that some other impolite (and usually short haired) person has already tried to shove the suggestion down their throat and they're really not interested in hearing about it for the fourteenth time. If it's not your hair, it's not your decision or place to comment. Stop it.
1a) Do not force children to do this against their will. Either the growing out of the hair or the cutting.

2) If you're going to donate, I suggest that you plan to cut off twelve inches. Locks of Love requires ten inch lengths, so your hairdresser may need to cut off eleven and then another inch off in making it look fabulous. Pantene also accepts hair donations.

3) Find a hairdresser to stick with during this process--changing to someone new may very well mean starting from scratch. I've met too many hairdressers who "think they know best." Olga had been cutting my hair for four years.

4) Think about major events. Is anyone getting married in the next year or two who will a) kill if you cut your hair before it happens or b) will require you to get an up-do? Are you doing anything with your hair involving the word "bleach" or "permanent"? Note: you can do a lot of cool up dos with long hair .

5) Everyone has their reasons for cutting or not cutting their hair. It's your choice, it's your hair. I'm of the belief that hair should be kept healthy and shouldn't be causing you headaches/neck problems.

Many people assume it's much easier to deal with shorter hair, care for, etc etc. So far--it's actually been a little harder. I can't get my hair up into a bun or a french braid easily and the ponytail crimp is a lot worse. I get annoyed when it's in my face so it's either down for half the day and then wadded into a ponytail or it's just up in a ponytail. I'm going to look for some butterfly clips or smaller barrettes but have yet to hit a Claire's.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hedgehogs in the News: Prehistoric Toy

A hedgehog toy was found with a prehistoric child. Apparently prickles are perennially popular!

Metallic Hedgehog.....

I got braces today on my upper teeth. According to my orthodontist we'll add the lower in about six months. So just about the time I learn how to get through storytime with one set of teeth covered in metal, we'll completely change my speech patterns AGAIN.

Overall braces are a good thing but my teeth are sore and making me want to find solace in a large bowl of oatmeal.

Now with extra prickles....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: My College Motto

My college motto was as follows:
Breathing is necessary
Eating is essential
Sleeping is optional

I would now only add one additional piece:
Caffeine is required

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hedgehog Radar: Librarian Ears

Like any mother who can hear her particular child calling "Mommy" through the din of a noisy children's room (and it gets really noisy in here), I've noticed my own somewhat attuned "ears" based on patron/friend requests that come my way*. To some degree this probably drives my friends nuts--if I see something on or related to a recent topic of discussion or an interest of theirs, I shoot an email that rarely says anything other than "thought you'd like this-Abs. [Hyperlink]" But at times I'm told it's helpful.

It's a skill that can bring a lot of value to a patron/friend, especially if that someone is willing to work with a librarian and who has an ongoing research project.

Point in case: last fall, in a fit of what-was-I-thinking, I took on an intense short term research project for a former editor of mine. The deadline just happened to be the week before I moved out of Chicago. While we squeaked in under the deadline her particular subject (veteran medical care, particularly trauma that may not have a clear physical manifestation), this is obviously a topic on which material is still being published. So while I skim through the endless RSS feeds that pour in each day, if anything has her particular keywords (or looks appropriate), off goes an email. Though often these are just archivable supplemental material, it meant last week that she quickly saw the new change in the Disability Rating Schedule for Traumatic Brain Injuries (Thank you Docuticker!!!). She was thrilled to get that email.

Of course, a lot of this is patron/subject specific. I'm in a public library working with children. As a result, at present I have a better hold on what new ya novel might be fun for a middle school girl (Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty--Jody Gehrman), what easy chapter books a mom with a young princess-obsessed girl might want to grab for bedtime (Vivian French's Tiara Club series), and just where the big set of color-themed picture books are (P* SCH) than I do on the most recent military histories or cookbooks or changes in real estate law but that can be said of anyone working with a specific type of patron. But certainly your "ears" can change over time, just as a mother might have to adapt to a) her child's voice as it grows and b) a new child, a librarian should be flexible enough to grab different subjects as patrons change.

It's a convenient filter to have set for the researcher though, one I could see particularly useful in medicine, law, or academia in general. If you have worked with a librarian who is in contact with resources on your subject every day and they know what your current project is--might they be not more likely to send you the latest and most fabulous new article to help you? But I preach to the choir.

As my ears go off again though whilst I scour my feeds, know that I forward you that 50th link to DC comic art showing all of the women of DC Comics not because I'm trying to flood your inbox. I've just developed strong Librarian Ears.

*Note: This particular type of ear is different from those ears that pick up on children crying for reasons other than it's time to leave the library or vacate the computer, can hear a curse word at 100 paces in the children's room, and have a keen sense of awareness when tween boys are gasping over a website that probably shouldn't be opened here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Book Review: 39 Clues: Maze of Bones

39 Clues: Maze of Bones
Rick Riordan

I came at this book skeptically but was surprised and pleased at how engaging I found it. Scholastic has decided to pull together ten strong children/ya authors (Riordan, Korman, Carman, etc) to write a fast moving, marketing friendly series.

One is plunged into the first book, introduced to characters all around and about the time you start to get a handle on what's going on--the book is over. Amy and Dan Cahill, having lost their favorite relative Grace, now are on a hunt to scour the globe and find 39 Clues that appear to be a path to great treasure. Up against them are a series of relatives on their own teams and own hunts. You never know who to trust or where the next possible alliance might come from but so far it's betrayal on all sides.

Amy and Dan are engaging characters--the former suffering awkwardness exacerbated by being an early teen, the latter a "normal" kid who likes his baseball card collection and teasing his older sister. While the other characters are more charicatures--Amy and Dan stand out as very real kids, a little brighter than average but concerned about very regular things (like lunch) and feeling natural fear at various points.

Riordan has done a good job of setting things in motion, giving the audience a huge cast to try and track and lots of ways the story could go. I look forward to handing this to even reluctant readers--there's a lot of action with moderate (not overwhelming) doses of history tossed in for good measure. I expect those who do grab the series to also be headed for the biography section as they are putting the next book on hold.

Korman's up next, and as he's one of my favorite children's authors, I'm happily expectant.

P.S. While you're waiting for book two--read "I Want to Go Home" by Gordon Korman. (If you can find a copy--it's out of print.) Absolutely hysterical book that Mr. J read aloud to a captivated audience in his sixth grade classroom when I had him.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Book Review: Primavera by Mary Jane Beaufrand

Primavera Mary Jane Beaufrand

While I am a fan of historical fiction, I'm not sure I would have picked up this novel but for its being on the Mock Newbury prerequisite list.

Beaufrand's first novel tosses one into the middle of a feud between the Medici and Pazzi families. Told from the perspective of the less beautiful (and therefore less valued and forced into partial servitude) younger sister of the Pazzi household, Beaufrand attempts to engage the reader in the intrigues that ran rife throughout the Renaissance.

Protangonist Flora is a strange character. Though destined for the convent she has not been sent, for vague reasons involving her grandmother. While my memory of the roles of women in the Italian renaissance is a smidge rusty (it's been seven years since that incredibly awesome college history course), I find it extremly unlikely that any young woman of noble family would have been permitted the freedoms described. Young noblewomen, whether valuable enough to marry off or not, weren't given weapons training.

Plot summary: The head of the Pazzi family, Flora's father, seeks power--either through a marriage alliance with the Medici or by murdering the Medici brothers and driving the family from Florence. Despite the manipulations by him and his wife, including having daughter Domenica painted by Botticelli as a Madonna, the marriage contract is not made and the attempted murder is foiled--by Flora. Father and one son are executed, another son permanently imprisoned, Domenica escapes into a convent, mother is exiled, and associates are murdered. And Flora is taken in by a goldsmith, where she learns to work beautiful gold pieces before escaping the country with a former servant.

Overall I was disappointed. Even putting aside my skepticism at how freely and openly Flora behaved, things didn't feel realistic. I could believe the scheming and the power plays being carried out by the families but I felt they got buried and confused with side stories of a captain of the guard in love with the older sister, the story of a servant boy who'd had nothing to eat for two days, what the grandmother's role was, and the addition of Botticelli. I was expecting a lot more involvement from the artist or more use of him to advance the story--and instead it felt like a reuse of Leonardo da Vinci's role in Ever After.

Following the assassination attempt the story hit a peak with the violence and then game to a grinding halt. Suddenly we advanced four years with very few problems and oh, btw, people have been talking about this "girl dressed as boy apprentice" but no one has done anything about it? That rang entirely unbelievable. We got suggestions of the gold work at the beginning of the book but didn't have a chance to really hear about her development as a gold apprentice. The ending, which finally brought together the title with the storyline, was far too rushed.

Despite my rather critical review of it, I understand why it was selected for Mock Newbery and I think it has a good shot for the real Newbery. The writing is good, albeit somewhat dry. There's a healthy dose of history mixed in and it's one of those books I can see adults saying is a "good book for children." Whether or not it will actually go over well with the age group it is intended for remains to be seen.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: It's a Wedding

Yesterday one of my best friends, the Brunette, was married. I had the honor to be in his wedding party, even though that meant transporting my dress on two planes (after having it mailed to the Incredibly Patient Mother and driving to/from her house to get it hemmed) and buying two pairs of shoes because we went from gold to black at some point (June? Maybe?).

"When he says brunch does that mean brunch bring something comfortable to wear on Sunday or brunch bring another pair of heels and skirt?"
(When you're flying half way across the country, you need to know what shoes to bring.)

"Did you tell him I have waist length hair?"
(The hairdresser. You warned him right?)

"I just found four pair of tweezers in the bottom of my make up bag."
(That explains where they sneaked off to when I couldn't find them. I hope they're not like coat hangers....)

"I put on a little mascara for the dentist."
(Discussing with Sibling-the-Elder waterproof mascara the night before a dental appt after I practiced "wedding make up")

Congratulations AJ & DJ! And thank you for letting me be a part of your special day.