Monday, December 29, 2008

Misuse of the Word "Memoir"

You know, I'm getting awfully tired of reading the rounds of books that were supposedly so carefully edited and presented as memoirs. Not genuine memoirs but the ones where within three months of publication there is a retraction of the story because people figured out that it was false?

Another one hit the boards.

I'd originally written about Angel Girl here.

Catching up on my feeds post holiday, I see that the memoir that was being published on this story has been canceled as the Holocaust survivor who it is about has come forward to say he was making the crucial part up.

I found this a beautiful, touching story. That it was based in well-researched fact I was willing to accept. This is not a typo, kids. This is bad fact-checking. The story was a lie. Have the publishers have forgotten that to not fact check is to lose revenue? The editing portion of my brain hurts now. I don't think Sudafed will fix this one.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: On the Road Again....

What state I'm in when you read this will depend entirely on what time I get out of bed on Sunday. Everyone hope that I got up when I was supposed to and made it out of the door on time.

But did you think I could make it in and out of Atlanta without something odd being said? Of course not, you know me better than that, don't you?

"They're nice women, but they would have bought the chickens."
(M and I neither one are much for decorating with china/glass/ceramic/wood/straw/etc chickens)

"I will have a social life for one whole day."
(I'm seeing four different friends in about 8 hours on Sunday in Chicago)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life without a Day Planner

I'm one of those people who, despite all the new and fabulous calendar gadgets that abound on computer and telephone, really still does best with a day planner where I can see each month as a whole. That would be a print day planner where I write things in. It's one of the first things in and out of the work bag.

And I don't have my 2009 planner yet. Our Lady of the Business Office promises me that weather permitting, it should be in tomorrow. But I finally gave up today and printed a calendar for the first three months of 2009. Then I painstakingly went through every day of my work calendar and my department calendar for January and wrote everything down. Duplication? Yes. Giving Me a Much Better Idea of my January Schedule? Yes. Providing me with Sanity and Clarity? Well...I won't go that far just yet. More sanity than if I hadn't done it.

I know I'll have to copy it over once I get the new day planner. But for now I can SEE what's coming up. Something about it being neatly on paper where I don't have to scroll.

It's one of those little ways I hope to take control of life. Along with the never ending, always changing to do lists.

For that I really do try to use Remember the Milk (Gmail widget) but I have a dedicated notebook that, like Donna Andrew's character Meg Lanslow would say, tells me when to breathe.

One of these days I won't overextend my schedule. That will not be today though.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What March Will Be like....

Re-meeting my hairbrush. Right now the hair just gets stuffed under a hat or headband

funny pictures of cats with captions

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: I had better be in Atlanta

I'm off to visit M this weekend, weather in La Crosse permitting. Lots of lovely plans ahead!

Photo from

"Because everyone wears a bichon to write..."
(me to M regarding this picture of Barbara Cartland)

"I get a look of geek cred for reading his books."
(About Neal Stephenson--he's a good writer but it seems to surprise men that I read his stuff.)

"I keep a snowshovel in my trunk for just such occasions!"
(It's Wisconsin...)

"It's not often you get your lullabye cds to go!"
(I ordered the Rockabye Baby! series--all are either one hold or checked out of the 11 different titles I got)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Libraries in the News

Hey! Some good press for libraries. Libraries offer free relief from tough times

Since you're reading a librarian's blog I generally assume you're one of the converted masses who understands that there is a mass of adult and kids programs, books, dvds, music cds, downloadable stuff, computer access etc. And, yes, sometimes you can finegle extra guru library services from me when you need help with research.

And it is free--kind of. It's supported by your tax money. Kind of nice to get something tangible for your tax dollars. So make sure you're getting your money's worth, go check some stuff out!

And a reminder to the Brunette, since he travels a lot--did you know you can download free audiobooks from NYPL that are Ipod compatible? Give you something extra to listen to on all those plane trips. Overdrive is slowly rolling these out, so if your library has an overdrive subscription, they will hopefully be coming to most libraries across the US.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Popping the Champagne Corks: Congratulations to Friends

A couple of medical librarian congratulations today:

David Rothman's book is finally here! Congratulations to you and your coauthors!


Martha got a new job!! In 2009 she will become the Reference & Instruction Librarian, Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State University.

This is how I like to start the week!! Bravo to both of you for your work, endurance, patience, and efforts.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Random Quote Sunday: Rhetorical Questions

My orthodontist had originally recommended oral surgery. I declined, not really seeing the need to break my otherwise perfectly healthy lower jaw and move it less than 5 mm. Lo and behold, as we started moving the upper teeth, my lower jaw began to move forward and realign on its own. (This wasn't something I really noticed myself but the good ortho happily informed me Thursday morning.)

"Isn't it amazing what happens when you move the teeth out of the way?"

Of course, said appointment also led to

"I'll be in the ibuprofen bottle if anyone is looking for me."

and the ever fabulous WarMaiden, I wondered about libraries

"Can I not just be offended that you don't have something I find offensive?"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Popular Fiction = Future Classics

Apparently it's a week for people to grab blog post ideas from the conversations raging over at NewLib-L. I might not have ducked back into the fray but for Colleen, who, as always, writes witty and interesting blog posts reminding us that if you behave in an unprofessional manner on a listserv--people will remember. And since we're all human, we'll probably judge you too.

But I have a little lighter fare today, focusing more on whether or not society is falling to pieces because *gasp* popular fiction is what most people are reading. (See NYT Best Seller Lists here for the horror)

I asked the question: "I wonder if there was ever a time that librarians or "the learned" weren't dismayed to find out that patrons/regular people liked to read exciting adventure stories. "

Overall, many of us are amazingly regular reading creatures. We like adventure, a little bit of the fantastic, surprise, romance and the potential of a happy future at the end of the book. The bad guys are captured, the good guys rewarded. And this is, to a great degree, a lot of what happens in popular fiction. A detective finds the missing money, a marriage is proposed, a killer is stopped/discovered, friends are hanging out again, there is hope for the future. I could point to any number of popular authors or syndicated television shows that follow this pattern.

What then becomes "classic literature?" What are the "great books of the ages?" As I mentioned in my post about Dr. Crichton's passing, this is a topic I like to revisit occasionally. What that the lofty among us consider "mere popular fiction" today will ascend to "classic" in one hundred years? What will our great-grandchildren's grandchildren be forced to read that we couldn't get enough of when it first came out?

Personally, I'll still argue for Neal Stephenson and Michael Crichton. The former as being able to blend epic story with more math and science than I ever faced down in the classroom; the latter for heavily researched tales that took on all manner of scientific possibility. I could see Tom Clancy joining the ranks, though more as an example of period literature that could be studied for insight into governmental happenings, international relations, etc rather than perhaps a true classic. And don't make me answer what a true classic is, I'm not really sure. (This after not only an MLS but also a BA in English Literature.)

But I have found that there is nothing like sticking a Newbury or other award winning sticker on a book to sink the circulation rates. Kids don't respond especially well to the implied condescending tone of a group of adults telling them it's a Good Book that they Should Read. And yet, we assume adults are different? Granted, adults are a smidge less likely to let a gold sticker turn them off (and certainly as parents they look for those stickers when choosing for their own children) but the condescension remains. Librarians often get the joy of trying to explain that no, really, just because it's a classic story it's not that dry. I promise the original Three Musketeers is a delightful romp of manly men doing manly things in a time of men being men and women being....spies among other things. I have a harder time with Moby Dick but that's just my inability to get past the first 100 pages...

So I appeal to you--what will become our future classics? What will go by the wayside? Shoot me an email or a comment and I'll post a summary of responses in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Canadian Kerfuffle

If anyone has been seeing the occasional news story about Canada and feeling confused*, may I recommend you hop over to the Yarn Harlot's post and catch up on things there. As Canadian government isn't really covered in 8th grade history classes, it's nice to have a quick clear summary.

Thank you Stephanie :)

*That would be me

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Getting Rid of Books


At least two of you gasped that I would write a blog post with that title. Admit it. Especially if you've ever seen an apartment I've lived in or you've been to the Incredibly-Patient-Mother's house. I think I've gotten about 80% of the books that are mine that were living at her house out--but I know there's at least one more bookshelf I have to tackle. Maybe this Christmas? (What am I saying? Now she's going to be anticipating it....)

I usually weed when I move. Clothes, books, everything got evaluated when packed 0r--more likely--unpacked. It helps when you move at least once a year, which I did for a full decade. But this year it does appear I'll make my new years resolution for 2008: Not to move for a calendar year. It may sound kind of frivolous or not really a resolution but it meant I wasn't hauling all of my belongings out of my current dwelling. It meant I did things like switch from/to summer/winter wardrobes without packing to move. Not having to wonder where I packed my toothpaste for 12 months has been a pleasant change.

It also meant that the Incredibly-Patient-Mother could suggest ever so gently that I start getting all of my books out of her house. Considering many of those books had been languishing in boxes for the better part of a decade, I suppose this was a reasonable request. And I was surprised how many of the books I was able to easily part with. When they've lived in a box for five+ years, you've forgotten you had them and the connection to them has lessened. So I could prune much of that collection.

Getting rid of books that have lived on the shelves more recently? That I've repeatedly un-boxed and shelved? That's harder. Not bringing home more books from trips to bookstores and library book sales? Nearly impossible. But I'm trying.

The short fluffy romances that I read in alternative to sitting through RoCos or television go into two boxes which get cleaned out every couple of months and sent either to the mother or friend. Everything else kinda sits around, waiting to be assigned a correct shelf spot. Or they've been assigned a shelf space (based on incredibly deep thoughts this last move of "this will go here") and are now just languishing.

And books aren't meant to languish. They need good homes and ideally someone else who'll read them to falling apart or at least enjoy them and pass them on. So I'm trying. I've put 40+ books on Paperback Swap and have actually gotten about fifteen out the door. Pay no attention to the fact I've then grabbed copies of the few Cat Who books I don't already own in paperback so I can get a complete set. At least those I will read until they die. Even if her writing has gotten lousy. The ones that aren't moving out the door in a timely fashion are going to go somewhere. Where I've not figured out just yet, though the Talking Books Librarian mentioned Cash4Books a couple of days ago and I might look into that for a few of those weeds. I can't imagine they'll want much of what I've got though. I could drag them back to work and give them to the Friends group, which I've done with other books I've weeded and probably will do with some. Most fiction has a shelf life...

It's hard to get rid of books though. And little apartment dwellers like me don't get to have yard sales. So if anyone wants 5 of the six books from the Dragon Prince/Dragon Star series by Melanie Rawn, let me know. They've been read once, maybe twice but I doubt it. I'm missing book 1--it got loaned apparently and never found its way home. And since it's been two moves since I remember seeing it, I'm guessing it's somewhere in New York. Also...for some reason I've started grabbing every vintage Gertrude Chandler Warner that comes across my desk. I have to think about whether or not I really need hard cover copies of all 22 of the original Boxcar Children books. Even if I think some of them might be first editions.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Holiday Wool....

The more I knit, the more ideas I get of things I should knit for people for Christmas. So then I cast those projects on and think of more things. It's a loop that is set to run right up until around 6 p.m. Christmas day--when I'll probably have seen all of the people who are receiving Christmas knits. At which point I'll have to start after-Christmas knits (maybe some stuff for me?) because a) I live in freezing Wisconsin and b) my hands will be so used to constantly knitting that I'll have to work on something to maintain my sanity.

No, unfortunately I'm not joking. I knitted pretty much non-stop last year in December and by the time I finished the holiday projects I was quite literally unable to just sit and converse. Fortunately, the Incredibly Patient Mother had some knitting tucked away that I could work on to keep from just sitting in a very fidgety manner.

Things to note: I never want to knit another pair of gloves ever again in my entire life. Sibling-the-Younger requested a pair and while this was a first from a family member (knitted request), I don't think I'll be doing more of these any time soon. I can do a pair of fingerless mitts in about 8 hours. With fingers nearly doubles the time and I had 9 double pointed knitting needles in one glove at one point.

I am trying a new pattern for a number of gifts this year: Turn a Square by Jared Flood. Jared's patterns have been received with high acclaim and this one is pretty addictive. Of course, I did have to come in this morning with one of the finished products and track down a couple of male coworkers to double check size but I certainly would recommend this pattern! The rest of the knitting world is doing the Noro scarf (again, Jared Flood) --- I'm making hats. Hey, they only take 3-4 hours. Another coworker seemed stunned when I mentioned how long they take to make. Yes, there's time involved, which is why I'm knitting mostly for people I am closely related to. But it's four hours of time at home, with an audiobook or a movie or a friend on the phone. When I finally catch up with the Tech Sergeant, it's good to be able to sit down and knit something moderately mindless while I'm hearing all the details.

So, that's my plan for December. Me and the wool.