Monday, May 31, 2010

I've moved...

Thanks for dropping by--I've recently moved to

Please join me there, as I'll no longer be updating this site.  I moved feedburner feeds over automatically so if you were subscribed through feedburner you should be fine. If you've received this though, you will probably need to resubscribe.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Please Continue to Hold...

I'm trying to get the blog switched over to a custom domain. Having some issues.  We're working on it....

Your call is important to us....blah blah blah

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Both the Incredibly Patient Mother and I have to work today, so any chat will have to wait until evening. 

In fiction, the majority of mothers seem either to be absent or various caricatures: vague, evil, ridiculous, too busy. If you only looked at our literature you might assume that the mothers of all of our teens were alcoholic drug addicts who had abandoned their children with a) a father who doesn't love them b) a father who cares but is absent or c) no one leaving them to fend on their own while she pursues men, money, etc. It's not new--one need look only at Grimm's Fairytales or Shakespeare to see this is a long standing trend.

For what kind of drama would it be to have a good (alive) mother? Would you want to read a book where the character grew up knowing her mother loved her and always could depend that no matter what happened or what might have gone wrong, that she could go home? Would you want to read about a girl who faced betrayal from friends and other family members, but always had her mother's shoulder to cry on, even as that mother was facing similar betrayal? Would it be so exciting if the mother was always there--not in an intrusive helicopter kind of way--but in a supportive way such that everyone knew that you'd best not hurt that daughter? Would you want to read about a daughter who spread her wings and flew on her own, but kept her mom's cell number on speed dial--just in case she needed advice, an opinion, or an ear to rage about general frustrations of life?

Would it be exciting if this mother was a good woman, doing the best she could, raising her children without trying to define herself by finding a new man, designer shoes, or public office? If the mother was only a gifted cook, talented gardener, brilliant seamstress, excellent writer, and incredible listener--what a boring story that would be.

Fortunately for me, that's only real life.

Happy Mother's Day to my Incredibly-Patient-Mother.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Your Words Speak Loudest of All

*hops onto the soapbox*

Self-promotion is a challenge. Do it well, and it can be quite to your benefit. Overdo it and it can blow up in your face in all sorts of interesting ways. Fail to do it or do it poorly and find others wondering why it is you have a job, what it is you do, why they'd want to work with you, whether or not you're worth keeping about, so on, so forth.

In this day and age of ubiquitous social networking, self-promotion is a little easier. If there is a challenge I've overcome, I can blog about it (usually). If there is a triumph, celebration often comes with pictures and online cartwheels. If there is a failure, hopefully that can be expressed with lessons learned. I can do these things relatively immediately and in my own words and at my own word count discretion. Certainly I'd love to put every triumph in one of the professional journals, but that is highly unlikely to happen and those have the delay of going to press and requiring a subscription--a potential barrier in our instant update world. 

Tone, as it is with nearly all human interaction, can be everything. Certainly we don't always want to be in one camp or the other: the squeakingly hyper-happy cheerleaders or the ultra-emo-Eeyores,* we're human and feel a wide range of emotion. In the view of professional self-promotion though, a spoonful of moderation isn't evil. It's no secret I self-moderate here: my boss, my director, and my mother--as well as friends, professional contacts, coworkers, and potential future employers/employees-- read this. It doesn't mean I need to be untrue to myself, just aware of my audience. If someone writes me off because of their personal hatred of hedgehogs, that's out of my hands. If they write me off because I consistently present myself poorly in an online setting, that's something I need to be worrying about and actively changing. 

For this I believe:

If all you ever tell me is how you are a continual failure, eventually I will believe it and it could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, despite potential evidence to the contrary.  

Your words have such an effect on your present and your future. If one is confronted day to day or following a web search/social network perusal with nothing but a perpetual woe-is-me-athon, your name becomes synonymous with a slightly depressed feeling, an eyeroll, and a quick search for the block, mute, hide, or delete key.

I don't always seek to surround myself with optimists. I have a sarcasm streak about a mile too wide for that. Yet I do look for people who are inspiring, truthful, and trudging onwards, even in the face of adversity.  I'm happy to be there through the good times and the bad; it's when we end up miring in the pit of unending over-shared sorrows that I'm turned off, and I can't think I'm the only one who feels that way.

Don't make me heave a deep sigh whenever I see your name.

*Was I the only one who was a much bigger fan of Eeyore than of Piglet?

/end soap box

About those "Book Reviews"

A recent article suggests that female book bloggers are Faking It--making nice with the reviews for whatever reason one would like to throw out there. I hope you're aware that's not the case here. It's true that I tend to only bother writing up blog reviews for books I've enjoyed--and LibraryThing Early Reviewers--but that's more a personal choice. If I'm not enjoying a book these days, I stop reading at 50 pages--I don't finish it and write up a snotty review. I don't get to read enough as it is, let alone want to read books I don't like. My library basket is overflowing, there are unread book piles all over the apartment and we won't talk about how long the Google Spreadsheet of "To Read" is. I also have a draft box full of posts I want to finish--why would I add "Books I Didn't Enjoy" to that pile? Y'all have enough other things to read in your inboxes and RSS feeds I trust. So while you may wish to discount these posts insofar as being formal book reviews, I hope you'll continue to enjoy insight to what I've been reading. I'm still using the Book Review tag so you can find all of the posts together. A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy has a much more thoughtful look at and response to the faking it article. As for me? This is my blog, if I choose to say nice things, that's my prerogative.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

An "Up" date...

Remember that this is a Year of Up

A brief check up:

Shape Up: Yah, I know, I'm on the twiglet side of things. That doesn't mean I'm as in shape as I'd like to be.
  • May 2010: I've been doing Zumba once a week. Enjoying it! Need to start doing it at home too, not just class. Also, ordered a pair of Shape-Ups (caught a Skechers sale) to see about making those strolls down the walking trail a bit more productive.
Clean Up: Get what I'm not using out of the house. It means less to dust around.
  • May 2010: I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff--a trunkload to Goodwill, many trips out to the dumpster, books to the FOTL. And....things fluffed up. *sigh* there's less stuff. Promise.
Move Up: There are professional opportunities out there that I need to be working on/towards. Now if I can just guess what the major trend of ALA Annual 2012 will be....

  • May 2010: I've got ideas. Need to work on some action steps.
Speak Up: Blogging, Writing, on Committees.
  • May 2010: Guest Blog at Writer's Beware!This may be being republished, I'm waiting on an email. I've gotten a few of the long thoughts out on the blog. May not change the world over night, but the thoughts have been expressed.

Use Up: Wool Stash anyone? I'm part of a "5K Stashdown" marathon on Ravelry. As I have eleven times that much, it's not a huge commitment. I might try for the side bet of knitting up an average of a mile of yarn a month (nearly 20K). If I can get to where it all fits in the tubs, that'd be a huge start. Also--the fabric stash, which is smaller and therefore doesn't get as much blog time. See my actual blog page for my knit meter.
  • I brought a bunch of yarn in for the Knit In swap; I gave a bunch to Our Lady of the Business Office. The stash allllllllllmost fits in the tubs it's supposed to. Except for some of that stuff I bought when I shouldn't have gone wool shopping. 
  • I've cleaned out a fair chunk of the romance novel backlog. Not all of them--I still want to read the remaining 40 or so...but the others are either to the FOTL sale or off to the Opera Singer. There are only so many hours in the day to read. 

Cheer Up: Enough with the snark, the griping, and the drama. So 2009. I can't say cynicism is fully retiring, this is me after all, but maybe not all sarcasm all the time.
  • Hmmm...this one still requiring some effort. 

Save Up: Get the debt paid down and the savings account paid up. And more towards retirement (insert chuckle about a public librarian ever being able to retire *here*).
  • Making progress--it's a slow and steady thing. 

How are you doing on your goals this year? 

Monday, May 03, 2010

In Search of a Not-Pink Series...

Little girls, little girls, everywhere I turn--they're being marginalized...

I'm just finishing my second session of my Wee Reads group, a partial separation 4-7 year old storytime. Last session, I pulled Jon Scieszka's Time Warp Trio for our chapterbook read-aloud. One does like to start with the ringers when building a program and that's one guaranteed to appeal to boys and girls alike.

The Ambassador Emeritus does include some female characters, but TWT is mostly stories about three boys. Realizing this as I started to prep for session two, I decided I needed to have a chapterbook with a girl as the main character.

My criteria:
1) Nothing "pink"--where the majority of titles are pink/sparkly/princess/fairy. This ruled out such current popular titles as Tiara Club, Rainbow Magic, Magic Puppy/Kitten, etc. I wanted something that wouldn't give me a toothache just to read it aloud.
2) No horses
3) Short enough that I can read it aloud in 5 weeks. So about an hour long--usually about 80 pages.
4) Female protagonist(s)

I walked the shelves. I talked to coworkers. I went back through my order lists.

And I came away with the disturbing knowledge that once you take the "pink" and horse books out of the equation, series with female protagonists do not seem to be being written for emerging readers. We have boys having adventures and boy/girl pairs. Apparently girls can't stand alone--even as animal characters--unless they are princesses or fairies.

Examples of series I could have chosen to meet my parameters?

With Boy Protagonist: Time Warp Trio, Roscoe Riley Rules, Encyclopedia Brown, Jigsaw Jones, Horrid Henry, Dinosaur Cove, Matt Christopher/Jake Maddox, Pirate School, Something Wickedly Weird, Hank Zipzer, Melvin Beederman, Dragon Slayer's Academy (could potentially be mixed...), Roland Wright: Future Knight

Male Lead Animals: Elliot's Park, Bunnicula, Jack Russell Dog Detective

Mixed Pairs: Magic Tree House, Down Girl and Sit, A-Z Mysteries, Bailey School Kids, Keyholders to the Kingdom, My Weird School, All American Puppies, Calendar Mysteries, Capital Mysteries

There are a number of longer chapter books that fit the bill: Ramona, Franny K. Stein, Claudia Cristina Cortez, Rachel Yoder, Dyamonde Daniel, Sassy/Little Sister, Clementine, Ivy and Bean, Abigail Iris, Nikki and Deja, Sisters Grimm, Judy Moody, Katie Kazoo, Pippi Longstockings, Julia Gillian, Little House, Ruby Lu, Harriet the Spy

but most of those characters were 8-10, their stories almost always revolve around school dynamics, and the majority of those books were just too long.  I seriously considered Ramona, but I can't read it aloud in under an hour. And before anyone asks, I abhor Junie. The lack of discipline and grammar irritates me to no end. Most of my storytime two year olds have better language skills and manners.

This was what I found that might have worked:

Cam Jansen. This meets my requirements but I can't get into that character for some reason. I think what bothers me is that she has to get a lot of detective help from the boys around (every 2nd or 3rd cover has a boy on it) and basically only solves the mysteries because she has a photographic memory she seems to spend all day "clicking."  I just couldn't get enthused.

Meet the Kreeps. Female protagonist. Length was close. But an Adams Family set of characters when I have four year olds whose reading rules at home that I don't know?  Nah.

American Girl. Not sparkly, mostly not horse (minus Felicity). But the name says it all. 

I ended up reading a book called Dear Whiskers by Ann Whitehead Nadga. I wish I'd found something else. It was cute on initial, at-my-desk, read.  Reading it aloud, all I could hear was classroom dynamics, mean girl/teacher's pet nonsense, and the whining of the main character to be let out of a task when the results aren't instantaneously gratifying. I've edited out a lot of the mean girl stuff on the fly and my kids don't seem to notice. So why did it need to be included? 

It's disappointing and frustrating. Here we have girls ready to read and yet the selection of strong female characters is nonexistent until a third grade reading level--easy readers tend to be even heavier in the mixed male/female leads with a leaning on the side of male protagonists. And it will comes as no shock that little boys are not generally inclined to read anything about sparkly princesses/fairies/horses.

So what am I missing? Which series should I be buying?  Where are the girl detectives and girls going on adventures and girls who aren't stuck in the mean girl cycle and page counts under 100? 

I'll be reading up over the summer, trying to find something I like better for the fall. Judy Moody and Ruby Lu aren't off the list entirely, and I need to read the new Abigail Iris. We'll see.  

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Well..that's one word for my apartment I suppose.

Better than hedgepigsty, right?

Anywho, found via JennieLaw, you too can buy a Hedgehog Home