Monday, December 11, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What I'm Reading Lately...

I'm reading these books by MaryJanice Davidson, starting with Undead and Unwed. They are very funny books about a woman who is obsessed with shoes and wakes up dead, to find herself Queen of the Vampires.

Wait a minute. That sounds kind of grim. The books are funny, fast-paced. Kind of like Sex in the City meets Buffy the Vampire slayer.

I'm also reading Erin Hunter's first Warriorsseries. It's about cats who live in sort of tribal communities. They each have their territory, they have magic and secrets and well, they're cats. Our hero is a former domestic orange tabby, who learns to live in the wild.
I like cats. Here's mine, keeping me warm.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Be Here Now

I'm thinking ahead to when I am no longer in school. I'm thinking ahead to all the extra time I'll have when I'm not agonizing about finding a job.

I'm thinking about roasting coffee, like my friend Ms. Taming over at Taming Coffee. She has a small home roaster, but for larger amounts of beans, she uses a breadmaking machine, a heat gun, a fan and sieve (those latter items for cooling the beans).

That could be one hobby.

Another hobby that might be worth pursuing is pencil collecting. I do have a small collection, including some unwrapped, mint-in-the wrapper Simpsons pencils. I joke that it's my son's inheritance, but I think they're not that rare.

Of course, it might be possible to write a complete novel during the month of November next year if I no longer have any papers, journaling, projects due for school.

Well, just being able to get to sleep without anxiety over what is due this week and next will be the best thing in the world. which makes me ponder about whether or not I should just let go and live my life now as if I am no longer in school.

The Tibetan Buddhist mandala, above I found at a website for Cosmic Geometry. My apologies that I cannot give further attribution for the image.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

'Tini Rant

What is with these martini drinks?

A martini as I remember it is gin or vodka, chilled in some way with vermouth. Totally clear. Consumed for no other reason than to get you drunk. Or to eat the olive or onion soaking in the glass.

Now I know the "martini" craze has been on for several years but I'm so happy about the election I need something to be curmudgeonly about. So, today I read in Jenée Osterheldt's column in the Kansas City Star about some "martinis" at a place called the Drum Room.
She's describing the First Lady here:
a mix of Pear Persephone vodka, pomegranate, sweet and sour, Triple Sec and lime

And the FBI:
a tempting combo of Frangelico and Bailey's Irish Creme

To me these are not martinis! They're friggin' cocktails!

The political titles for the drinks come from the name of the Hilton President hotel in which the Drum Room is situated.

I'm not much of a drinker these days. And I'm still on a natural high from the elections! So actually, none of these so-called martinis are the slightest bit appetizing to me.

Gimme a Democratic win, straight up, please!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Morning (for real) in America

For real.
Here in Kansas, we gained a Democratic Attorney General, Paul Morrison--a decent lawman if ever there was one.

Nancy Boyda also won in the 2nd Congressional district (corrected from my earlier post--I thought it was the 4th district) over Jim Ryun.

Just across the state line, stem-cell research can proceed unimpeded. And Claire McCaskill beat Jim Talent narrowly to become a US Senator.

oh life is sweet right now. And I'm not giving anyone the finger.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blog about Homelessness

I've started a new blog. It's kind of for a class assignment. I don't know if I'll share it with the class or give in and create a powerpoint (I have only a few days to finish it though!).

The class is on Information Transfer in Special Populations, and I decided to look at library services for the homeless--since public libraries especially have all kinds of issues with homeless people.

My new blog is Homeless.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Politics As Usual

I have a new bumper sticker (okay 2 new ones) on my car. One has a local candidate's name. The other is more specific: "De-Kline Kansas: Vote Moderately." (Kline is the current Attorney General for Kansas--he is an extremist about certain things, IMHO)

And someone gave me the finger. I'm sure I was not driving like a lunatic at the time. So it must be the new bumper stickers.

You know, I never, no matter how much I feel like it, give anyone the finger while driving. What is it about someone that makes them feel they can give me the finger? What makes someone so threatened by seeing an opinion on a car?

A friend said that "the finger" is to intimidate and bully. Might the Finger Guy have felt intimidated by the words on my car?

It's the polarized political climate. These may be midterm elections and here in Kansas we are re-electing a Democratic governor and in my neighborhood, a Democratic congressional representative. Also, there are a few moderate Republicans out there who welcome bi-partisan, or multi-partisan legislative efforts. But it seems that there are more yard signs than ever before and more bumper stickers.

To fit all mine on, I had to cover my old Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker. Maybe the Finger Guy was mad about that.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gus at rest

Gus at rest
Originally uploaded by electrogrrrl.
Just a nice picture of my kitty, sleeping on the sofa.
It makes me want to relax as I look at him.

Ahhhhh I can feel my blood pressure dropping!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Miriam, last time

My friend Miriam Engelberg died last Tuesday.
She was dying, she had brain mets. Her book is very funny and I highly recommend it:
Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person.

I don't know what else to say. It's us who are left behind who are sad. I'm especially unhappy about the irony of it: her book made her famous--cancer made her famous, but it killed her. And what's more is if she were alive, all the media attention she's getting now, she'd be making fun of.

I can't write anymore.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Librarians are still nerds...

...but nerds are cool.
In this world, anyway.
My profession is a nerdy one. It always has been, whether we librarians have been book-oriented or information-oriented. Electronic media, computers and all the stuff we do with them, like blog about it--it's just like having a bunch of books on shelves that we talk about, tag and catalog. Whether we use technorati, clusty or z39...I mean who are we fooling?

I don't know, maybe it's because we are so involved in information transfer,that the 2.0 world (and soon the 3.0 world) is relatively easy for us to move around in.

Is that really cool? Or is it just more of the same? Maybe we no longer shush, some of us are pierced and tattooed, some of us don't wear sensible shoes--but we're still computer geeks and nerds! In an earlier age, we were book geeks and nerds.

Feeling uncharacteristically unhappy about all this. Maybe because I am not technologically fluent--not as native as others whose blogs I read. I want to be like them, but not entirely. I still want to be able to relate to people whose computer literacy is nascent or even unawakened.

And yet I'm impatient with people who wish we had a card catalog (we do--it's in the computer) and who think that computers'll take the place of books (they won't--they're a long way from being cozy to snuggle up with in bed)

I am also just feeling cranky. Must be the weather. Currently 57 degrees (F) and overcast.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Banned Books Week is coming!!!

For more information on Banned Books Week, visit this ALA page.

It's amazing to me what people challenge. I mean Captain Underpants--c'mon you just got to be kidding! This one is my favorite Captain Underpants story. It's got the coolest name generator. Dav Pilkey, the author says, on his website:
"The thing about name-calling is that it's totally based on your given name. Obviously, somebody named Johnny Butts is going to be teased a lot more than somebody named Larry Drake. But what if there was a chart which would level the playing field? What if you could take anybody's name, regardless of whether it was funny or not, and insert it into an equation which made everybody's name equally ridiculous? That way, nobody would be singled out. Larry Drake could no longer make fun of Johnny Butts (because Booger Bubbletush is just as stupid as Poopsie Toiletfanny)."

So read Captain Underpants and change your outlook on life!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Miriam again

You should really read her Comic of the Week.

Honestly. I love this woman so much--she's so sharp. I don't ever want to let go.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago

Five years ago today, I woke up thinking the worst thing I'd be experiencing was holding my husband's hand while he had a bone marrow biopsy. It would be his first since starting Gleevec, the miraculous drug that has put his leukemia in remission. BMBs are painful, but necessary. I was glad I could be there to hold his hand.

It was a beautiful day, here too. I drove to the KU Medical Center to meet him and was blaring my Spike Jones tape out the window. A man walking his dog, looked at me all annoyed.

My husband met me at the entrance to the medical center and said, "There's been an attack!" I thought to myself, what, the Israelis and the Palestinians are at it again?

He told me, no, the World Trade Center, and we walked hand in hand to the waiting room, where we sat glued to the TV there. That he even had the BMB was surprising. And then we both went to work.

From work (at the time I was a synagogue librarian), employees speculated about the need to get gas now, people called their children's schools to see if they should take them home. I left early, glad my tank was full and went up to my son's school. The principal was accomodating those who wanted to take their kids home. I decided to leave him there for the rest of the day.

Make things seem as normal as possible.

That's all I'll say.

Except for, no I do not feel any safer. I felt safer in the couple of days following the attacks when you knew that the person driving in the car next to you was thinking what you were thinking. When you knew a traffic jam was because we were all stopping to put something in a firefighter's boot or helmet.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Radical? Militant? Librarian! Yes!

I do wear a button on my ID lanyard for work. The button says: Radical Militant Librarian, Defending Access, Defending Freedom, Defending Privacy.
Defending Access means that I believe in a reader's (or watcher's or listener's) right to have whatever materials he or she wants. If the library user is a child, it's NOT my job to say, "no you can't read that!" based on my own taste and sensibilities.

I can guide a child to pick what is best for her reading abilities and interests. After that, if the parents want to censor, it may grate on my nerves, but that is up to the parents. Challenged books, by the way, once the media gets the list out, fly off the shelves. Challenged and banned books will always be read in secrecy: under the covers with a flashlight, outside in some quiet place, at your friend's house--the friend with more liberal parents.

And by the way (at least in my library system), it takes a subpoena to the library director herself, to wrench the record of what you read out of our computers. And once material is returned, there's no record that you ever checked it out in the first place (unless there are fines to pay--then, once they're paid, the record disappears).

Anyway, that's one part of my job I really treasure: defending access, freedom and privacy.

That said, I regret that library cards do expire and we do require some kind of proof of who you are and where you live. We want to make sure we get information to you in a timely manner (like if you requested a book) and with email service, we'll even warn you in advance when your materials are due, so you can renew them online, in person or by phone.

And we do this for free. So, if you have a library card about to expire, please take a utility bill or your current driver's license--something that will make it easier for the underpaid clerk at the Circ desk, or the underpaid librarian at the Info desk to help you maintain your access to the best free service in the world: your public library.

By the way, Beth Thames, in the Huntsville Times wrote a lovely opinion piece on challenged books. She imagines a favorite teacher saying, "That's just nonsense," to the notion that reading and life have to be sunny.

Well, to the challengers of books, I'd like to say something stronger and much more salty. But for now, I'll just wear my button and make sure everyone who wants one, gets a card. And gets to read whatever she or he wants to read.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cancer and Shallowness

My friend Miriam Engelberg wrote a book,Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person. It's a compilation of her cartoons that she drew about coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis. When she first started the book, she was in remission.

Now her cancer has returned, metasthesized in her liver, bones & brain. Recently in her blog, she wrote about getting at-home hospice. Making sure she's got TV is a major consideration...

I can't bear to think about losing her. I met her through my brother Paul, who teaches math at the University of San Francisco. He met Miriam in Alta Plaza Park one day--they had their kids with them. She is such a witty and thoughtful person, always able to see the humor in the little annoyances in life.

Did I tell you that I hate cancer? My spouse has leukemia--well, he's in remission but who knows, it could flare up at any time, overwhelming the powerful meds he's on. Miriam's cartoons made so much sense in their bitter funniness. Reading them is like biting into a bittersweet chocolate with a wasabi center.

It can really cleanse your palate.

Honestly I don't know what else to say. Go buy her book and laugh, cry and shake your fists at cancer, which she says is scarier than any scary movie.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

To Keep My Blog Alive

I have lots to say, no time to write and questions about the appropriateness of material.
1) I'm job-searching.
2) It's not that I truly dislike my current job. I just want something full time & more professional.
3) I can't leave the area. For a full time job, I'd consider a commute, but even so, that's difficult with the kind of family responsibilities I have.
4) My biggest fear is that I will just get too comfy where I am and never let my mover-and-shaker-ness out. That I will feel a tendency not to rock-the-boat (don't tip the boat over, rock the boat, don't rock the boat baby) (how about a nice earworm?)
5) Another thing is that the big professional conference is underway and I'm reading blogs from it and I'm envious. Unless I were a presenter, my employer wouldn't send me and it's almost unthinkable for me just to say, hey I'm taking my vacation time at the conference.
6) Unless I push for it, I don't know how I can get time to do some of the moving-shaking things I want to do.

So, you see, there's a lot going on in my world. It's like a sweater that gets unraveled and someone keeps knitting and knitting...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Age, Time, and Labor

So, it's been a while.

I'm pondering life and librarianship. I realize that if I get an MLS-worthy job when I get my MLS, I'll have barely enough time to work before a mandatory retirement age at 65.

I am also thinking of how I am new in my profession but older in years than many of my classmates and colleagues. Even though I am not as nimble a blogger as many of them, I still embrace this technology. I am not threatened by it.

Will that make me competitive enough? I read other library blogs--okay this is not a real library or librarian blog--it's my blog and there's some library slant to it, but not all that much. I mean, when I read other blogs, I wonder at how people get to the point where they write what they are writing.

What other tools do I need besides my brain and my laptop?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Can't Be Proud Enough!!!

Some things are quite all right in Kansas:

First Lady Laura Bush (herself a librarian)recently awarded the Johnson County Public Library a national award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
That means our local library system is one of the best in the nation!

Read more about theIMLS here.

It's just so nice that something with intellectual spirit in Kansas is recognized. I mean, we're not all hayseeds out here with a narrow view of what science is supposed to be. Libraries are the most open-minded institution in the world. I'm proud of what we're achieving here in Johnson County, Kansas.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Origin of my species: Brooklyn nostalgia

I live in Kansas now.

It's the butt of jokes of course now. Kansas, where we don't evolve...
It's not so simple, though. I have friends who live in wonderful places: New York, Toronto, Seattle. My family, for the most part now lives in the Bay Area: Marin County and Walnut Creek.
I was not born a Kansan--I'm here by default.

My family came from what are now Byelorus and Ukraine. They emigrated in the early part of the 20th century. They started in Brownsville, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side and eventually moved on up to the Kensington neighborhood in Brooklyn: Albemarle Road and McDonald Avenue.

If you're from Brooklyn or just curious, you might want to visit the website of theBrooklyn Public Library and check out the My Brooklyn page for the essays and photos from people who live or lived in Brooklyn.

There's also another nostalgic "my Brooklyn" site and a Brooklyn board, an ongoing forum with different nostalgic topics. They also have a photo gallery.

The word nostalgia refers to homesickness--nostos means "return," and algia means "pain." There's a real sense of pain, almost physical pain when I think of the land of my origins. It's not a pain in the sense that oh yeah, my family of origin was dysfunctional and so on. It's pain because I can't return.

If I do go back, I can only look and remember. I know that much of my nostalgia is for growing up in Brooklyn and even if I were to move there now with my family and all my friends (current and past), it would still not be the same. I'd have to live with the fact that I can only go back physically. I can't go back in time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I remember Clifford the Big Red Dog

This post is actually about my autistic son. Clifford is only tangential.

I'm doing whatever it is in the kitchen and I hear in the background, my almost-15-year old son chattering to himself. He's creating dialog for a pretend live action movie of Clifford, the Big Red Dog.
He's uncanny in imitating the voices from the tv show, the show's theme song. He fades up music from iTunes at appropriate places and hums tunes in others.
The main music he uses for this "movie" is "Somewhere Out There,"from "An American Tail." It's a haunting, sweet pop ballad.

He hums it as the action demands: Clifford is feeling sad and guilty about something he was supposed to do for the little girl who cares for him. Suddenly my son shifts his humming into minor key.

He knows, he understands music and how it works. Will he be able to harness his knowledge and love? How much do we push him?

His abilities constantly surprise us.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Kansas Governor Supports Libraries.

More from our wonderful governor, Kathleen Sebelius (she's one of the best in the nation!)

This from Kansas City's Infozine:

"Learning can't stop at graduation. We rely on libraries to help us keep up-to-date on knowledge that helps us in our jobs and in our lives. Libraries serve as our window to the world," Governor Sebelius said. "Plus, reading is a great alternative to spending time in front of a TV or computer screen."

Little does she know that so many patrons come to the library to use the public computer stations.

But I'm just writing to put in a plug for Governor Sebelius--no other reason. I don't feel like listing ad infinitum what folks do and don't do in a library.

Maybe later. Because depending on my mood, some of it makes me seethe. I want to get out of seethe-mode before I write anything librarial.