Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Moment

I'm getting old, I know I am, because December just whizzed by, in an incredible flash. I bought cards at a store this year. I did my shopping mostly about a week before Christmas, and then, only under protest, because I wasn't really convinced Christmas was closing in. I only got those snowflake lights out maybe ten days ago? Craziness.

But about two weeks ago, Nathan and I were at a mall, not to shop mind you, but to see a movie. We came out of the theater, which is on the third floor of one of our many local malls, into a blast of music. Down in the depths of the first floor was a local band (Nathan insists they were all saxophonists, and I disagree, and feel this picture is blurry enough to prove me right) playing carols. Ring Christmas Bells, specifically, one of my favorites. And probably ninety percent of the people in the mall at that moment were gathered around the stairway, leaning over, to listen and to take pictures. We were all eye level with a huge tree coming up through the center of the mall, opposite the escalators. It was inspiring, for certain, and probably the most holiday-ish moment of the season.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Lights

I'm a fan of Christmas. Probably this won't surprise any of the six of you who read this blog. But let's just start off with that general statement. Jenn likes Christmas. I've been known to sing carols in April, and to decorate very small areas, such as dorm room or lockers. This year, however, we have a whole house at our disposal. Right, we were here last Christmas, but between two new jobs and the move the day after Thanksgiving, we didn't really achieve to our potential, last year. We've made larger strides this year.

This is the first time in my WHOLE life I've been in a place conducive to hanging lights outside. Last Saturday, Nathan was minding his own business, sitting on the sofa, playing on his computer, when I decided to hang our outdoor lights. Well, you can see how that turned out.

From blog stuff

Yep. That's Nathan on the roof hanging the lights.

Don't get me wrong. I would have been happy to get on the roof and hang the lights, but that's specifically why Nathan feels like he should do it. I'm way more comfortable up high, and so, somehow, he figures that makes me more of a risk. I was a very good ladder holder, when I wasn't taking the photos. :)

My contribution to our "lightscape" was two strands of snowflake lights strung through two of our front garden beds. These things are cool. They are snowflakes on stakes, and you can set them to either stay white all night, or set them to "spectra," which means they cycle through six different colors. They are SOLAR they charge all day, and then glow through the night. Plus, like all our holiday lights this year, they are LEDs--very bright, and energy efficient. Though a bit difficult to photograph:

Here they are, in our front yard, a little blurry. They are set to spectra, but because the photo took thirty seconds to take, or something, they cycled through their whole color spectrum, and here they look white. That's kinda cool theoretically, but kinda annoying photographically.

Here's one all swirly:

In conclusion, let me say, that in the past, I've been known to be somewhat critical of the light displays of other folks, who, let's face it, are probably just as enthused about Christmas as I am. In fact, a certain someone and I (Hi Lacy!) spent hours every year, driving around rating Christmas Lights Displays, for our own amusement. We have our own rating scale, called the HollyBerry Scale, where one HollyBerry is not so great and five HollyBerries are awarded to the most lovely, most precise displays.

I stand by our system! I do! If you're going to hang lights, people, hang them with pride!! But I have come to understand this year just exactly how MUCH goes into the precise hanging of lights. It's not easy. Even for people with good intentions and husbands wiling to climb ladders. Our house is not a Five HollyBerry house. Not this year, anyway. :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Two "unique" ideas

Did anyone else run across a lot of plain old fashioned oddness this week? My two favorite examples from my week are as follows:

1) I had a woman at the circ desk try to get us to waive her fines. In and of itself, this isn't unusual, but her defense was that she was currently unemployed, and as part of her job search, she had to keep track of a floppy disk with her resume on it. So, as you see, since she had to keep track of the disk, she couldn't be expected to keep track of her library due dates. Because that would be two things to remember. Once she had a job, then she wouldn't need to remember where the floppy was, and thus, presumably, she'd have a space *open* to remember library due dates. Hopefully, her new job won't require her to remember anything, otherwise, I suppose we'll be out of luck. Again.

2) In one of the many blogs he reads, Nathan found a post from a woman who was complaining about video games causing epileptic seizures. She was the parent of an epileptic child, I think, and felt that all video games should have to prove they were seizure proof. Most of the comments were along the lines of "Look, there is a huge warning in the directions that come with the game, if you can't be bothered to read them, we can't be bothered to care about your kid." Which is what it is. My favorite part though, was someone who wrote in saying, "I am prone to seizures, and I think you should all get over it." I guess this person had been in a meeting at work, and someone had suggested they all do some *brainstorming.* Whereupon, another coworker went off about how insensitive it was to use the word *brainstorming* in a room with someone prone to seizures.

OHHHH, I laughed and laughed at that one.

DC Trip -- My thoughts one week later

Ahhh, it was just a week ago that we were all in DC. Well, a week ago, technically, I was on one of two long flights back across the country, but I was reliving all the great times. I miss DC, and even more, the people who live there. We had such a nice trip. Note to self: always good to visit a place near the holidays. We saw the shiniest, sparkliest, most festive side of DC, I think. True, you risk the occasional flight delay, but the sparkliness makes up for it. PLUS! We got some winter weather!

Though being tourists wasn't the first priority (hanging out was our first priority) we did still see quite a bit of stuff. H's great apartment, and some of her DC crew (though we missed Todd! Rats!) We hit some great monuments, Lincoln, Washington, the Korean War Memorial, the WWII memorial, and the Casa Blanca. We ate a ton of great food, much of it prepared by Heteo. We had a quick peek at the National Arboretum, in it's holiday splendor. And H and I took a jaunt through the zoo, on my last morning there. A lovely zoo, not very crowded while we were visiting, we had a great view of the cheetahs and the pandas, the sloth bear and the fishing cat. Did you know there was such a thing as the Fishing Cat?

Thanks so much, H to hosting us, and to Jim and Lai and Brien for meeting up with us for an awesome afternoon at a museum cafe. Shoot, I miss you guys!!! I hope we can all hang out again soon. Eat more salt oat cookies, take another run through the buffet at the Museum of the Native American, wander through more monuments (after sundown, cause of the great light) and just generally hang out and have good times.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Ida B." by Katherine Hannigan

"The Yellow Prison of Propulsion dropped me off just where it had picked me up that morning."

p. 109

Jenn's note: Yellow Prison of Propulsion = the school bus. Ida names things. Like Gollum. Or like Areon climbing the stairs thinking of the Goddess Who Climbs Eternally. It's so awesome. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Book Quotes

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, start a series of quotes from the books I've been reading. You know, the lines I'd read out loud to you if we were hanging out in a cafe. Look forward to this being a recurring item.

"The street was only just wide enough to permit the passage of a moderate-sized elephant. Catherine was able to determine this because a moderate-sized elephant came along and, obedient to the orders of its mahout, came to a stop just outside the window, its pink and grey spotted ears slowly flapping." ---- pg. 386 of Not Yet Drown'd by Peg Kingman

Monday, November 19, 2007

Last Weekend's Exploits

Last weekend, Veteran's day weekend, which could be considered two weekends ago now, depending on how you count it....Nathan and I had the good fortune to host BOTH Jean AND Heteo for a whole evening. Then H traveled on to see other teos, and Jean braved the trek to Pacific Grove to visit the Who-Whos. H and J experienced the daily Laredo Hike, though sadly, they didn't really get to see our totem dog, Barkie. AND, Jean watched both the Fellowship of the Rings AND the Two Towers, which, as you can tell, excites me to extensive use of capital letters.

A delightful weekend all around, though perhaps under photographed, and I am STOKED we'll be doing it all again in just a few weeks, in the East Farthing.

Enjoy the pics of our kitchen, with Jean knitting, Nathan reading about making ice cream, Heteo arriving, and the bunnies doing what they do best. The second link is for the Pacific Grove pics, which I stored in a separate album. Somehow, two slide shows running at the same time seeemed almost dangerous. :)

From Who Whos, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Semi-Homecooked Meal

Last week a co-worker and I took our lunch hours together and went to a place called Just Dinners. You may have heard of these sorts of places...the gist is, you go there, you select some dinner items, they have all the ingredients set out and prepared, you throw the food together, then take it home, and cook it in your own oven. That's the boring definition. Here's the truth: It's like being on your OWN COOKING SHOW!! It's fantastic!!! You look at a recipe, and it says something like "Add two cups of chopped pears." You look around your workstation and AHA!! A whole container of beautifully sliced and diced pears!! AND! You don't have to do the dishes!! I know, I know, purists might not call this "cooking." In fact, Heidi and I were rather conscientious about referring to it as "assembling." But, it was SO MUCH FUN! And! Nathan and I have been enjoying "home cooked meals" all week. I LOVE coming home and heating something dazzling, and then serving it as though I had worked really hard. We're definitely going to do this again.

Friday, November 2, 2007

the 100th journal

Several weeks ago, I unloaded all my journals on the kitchen table and sorted them. At one point I was very careful to number them every time I started a new volume, so I would know when I hit a landmark issue. The 50th volume has a lovely golden themed cover. But I've gotten out of that habit. I knew I was probably closing in the centennial journal...but I wasn't sure how close I was. Turns out the current volume is the magic volume one hundred. I was a little bummed I didn't select a particularly stunning book to write in, for this momentous occasion, but probably, this is better. It snuck up on me, and this journal is just like all the others. Serviceable, portable, reliable, and precious.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yachats Trip

I've done it again!! More than a week has gone by since Nathan and I made a great trip to the Norther West. We spent last weekend in Yachats with Dad and Joy, and had a delightful time. We ate more dairy products than is decent. I had ice cream every day (Tillamook, Chocolate and Peanut Butter if you must know) and we ate plenty of good sea food. The weather was fairly cooperative. Dad and Nathan and Shadow and I took an epic trek along the beach on our first full day there, three miles down wind, and then three more challenging miles back upwind. We visited the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, and saw some charismatic macrofauna. All in all, a delightful weekend!! (More pictures when I can pry them from Nathan's phone.)

You can always click on the slideshow to enjoy the photos at your own speed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back to School

It's official, I'm going to be a student (again) in January. I'm starting to library school, at that state school near my house, though my goal is to set foot on campus as infrequently as possible. Hopefully, through the magic of those internets, and a few years of reading and writing, I'll be a really-truly librarian. I am, as they say, stoked. :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Morning Walk Update

This month, sometime, we'll hit our six month mark for morning walks. We haven't missed a day yet, we've either walked or biked every day. Sometimes, strictly speaking, the word "morning" can't be applied to our walk time, but for the most part, lately, we're up and walking before the sun rises. It's dark-dark, real, true dark when we leave home. Usually by the time we're back at our front door, the sky is light over the hills and Mt. Hamilton observatory, and you can just barely tell that trees are green, instead of black. With almost two full months before the time change, I'm thinking we won't even be seeing the light skies come mid-November.

However, there is definitely a cool side to walking in the dark. Last week, we were out as the full moon was setting into the foothills. It was clear (and cold!) and the light was amazing. We were walking up the long straight street that turns into our Big Hill, when we heard a click clicking sound behind us. Jogging up the middle of the street, not at ALL bothered by us, was a coyote! It was awesome and a little sad all at the same time. Awesome, because how many mornings do you get to share your aerobic exercise with a coyote? Sad, because here it was running through a suburban housing development. Not that it seemed to be suffering in any way. It looked downright perky. A few seconds later, more click clicking, and we turned to see a deer, also jogging down the middle of the street. We could still see the coyote ahead of us under the street light, and things looked to get kind of interesting. I don't think a single coyote would go after a full grown doe, but I also didn't think they'd hook up and go for coffee either. The deer turned down a side street, and the coyote disappeared into the ravine, right through the berry bushes where we saw all the bunnies earlier in the spring. We haven't seen any bunnies recently, and we've been telling ourselves they are "sleeping in," but if they set up camp on the coyote trail.....well, it's hard to know what to hope for.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Feasting on Asphalt & Tolkien

Nathan and I just spent the morning watching the entire first season (well, entire is kind of the wrong word, we watched it all, but there were only four episodes....) of "Feasting on Asphalt." Two link choices for you, either here or here. Have you seen this show? It's Alton Brown, whom we love, from "Good Eats." (When we talk about AB around our house, it could be either Alton Brown, or our original AB, the Adventure Bunny.) Alton Brown driving across the country on a motorcycle with his buddies, eating great local food. Downside to watching the show, no matter what you are currently eating, or what you've eaten recently, the people on TV are eating better than you are. Season Two is on the air now (DAD!! They just cruised through MOLINE on their last episode. No Fish Fry, but they did go to the John Deere factory.)

Anyway, as the show goes to commercial, they always have some "road" quote, which they show paperclipped to all the great photos they've taken of themselves along the way. And in season one, they quoted Professor Tolkien, you know the quote about how one never knows where the road is going until one gets to the end of it.

Nathan posed the question : "Is Tom Bombadil really Tolkien?" and of course my first reaction was "no," because we know that Professor Tolkien really identified with Beren, so much so that it's on his tombstone. (Where is he buried? Why haven't we been there?) But with a little more thought, I do see the appeal of the idea. Tom's the Eldest, he's almost outside of the story. Tom was there, in a sense, before the story started. Tolkien himself is outside of the story. My new theory, if Tolkien put on the ring, he wouldn't have been invisible.

We said we should put the idea before Tolkien scholars. And so, I have.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Cool Job

From Library Stuff
Something you may or may not know about me, is that I have a real fondness for travel guidebooks. I like to read them before I travel, I like to take them with me while I travel, I like to admire them on my shelf after I travel. Heck, sometimes I imagine purchasing travel guides for places I don't actually have a real interest in visiting. I like the idea of a place in a book. Usually there are pretty pictures. It's really the BEST things about a place in a book.

Of course, at home, I don't indulge in this obsession, except when I'm actually going somewhere specific. But at WORK, it's actually my job to tend to the travel section. Last week, I found a steal on the Lonely Planet website, and went crazy. I tried to fill all the holes in our collection. Do you see that Ukraine book in there? Greenland and the Arctic (visit now while you can!) Dubai? That's right, I ordered a book about Dubai. Trekking in East Africa? I've got you covered.

I get to spend my time today playing with my new books. I'm going to enter them into our circ system, then update them to "received," and then, I'm going to feature them in our blog.

And here are two pictures of my desk area, that I threw in because I was taking pictures.

Jean, that's my postit note board for things I need to read, watch and listen to.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Late Lassen Update

Oh, hello world. I went to Lassen with Lisa more than a week ago, and I haven't mentioned it yet. That's because of the 412 computers in our house, none of them had all the right parts working that I needed to take the pictures from my camera and put them on the web. Seems shocking, but it's true. Luckily, the local IT department defragged my laptop repeatedly, and we're back in business.

I'm going to try the new slideshow feature in Picasa. Or, it's new to me anyways. Let me know what you think. Good way to enjoy photos in a blog, or kinda annoying. I heart feedback.

Okay, it's working on my end. I think. You can click on the link to see the photos in Picasa itself. Wow, these Google products sure are slick!

Lisa and I had a good trip. Lassen is definitely a more laid back park than Yosemite. Far fewer folks, no shuttle system, available parking. Less active bears. Sure, there were signs about how to stash your food and stuff, but we're seasoned enough to know what it looks like when you'll most likely have a bear in your campground at night. The language on the warning signs gets ramped up. There are either photos of cars bears have torn into, or actual cars that bears have ripped open to demonstrate how serious the rangers are about those bear boxes. In Kings Canyon, where Lisa and I had our closest encounters with bears, we'd left our bear box open while we carried food to the table, and a ranger came by to say that was dangerous. Less than a minute, and we had a ranger at our table. THAT's when you'll see a bear in your campground.

Lassen also has plenty of lupine, as you'll see from my photos. I'm a bit lupine-obsessed it seems. We walked around three different lakes, visited fumaroles, and hiked down and up the sides of an impressive waterfall. We're ready to go back, and drive the "Volcano Highway" between Lassen and Crater Lake. Maybe next summer!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August. Fresno. Wedding.

Three words that, together, would normally make me cringe. Who wants to be dressed up where it's bound to be 145 degrees in the shade. But, this weekend, we did indeed go to a lovely outdoor wedding, in mid August, outdoors, in Fresno. And it was delightful!! The weather gods were quite kind. We got there early, and snagged some shady seats, but there was a gentle breeze blowing. And dragonflies everywhere. Very scenic.

Here are a few of my favorite photos. You can click on any of them to get to the Picasa album. Just the usual George clan. :)

From Michelle's We...

From Michelle's We...

From Michelle's We...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Temporary Library Cat

Tuesday, when I arrived at the library, there was a cat in the building. A huge grey and white cat, patrolling the upper floor. I confirmed with one of our Circ Staffers that indeed, though it would be cool, cats were not supposed to be in the library. He was not a "seeing eye cat" of some kind. I went over to the cat, who was delighted to be picked up. He had on a tag that said "I'm an outdoor cat, and I know my way home." It also said his name was Max, and it had a phone number.

So I put Max outside, and thanked him for visiting. Max waited a moment or two, and then when a patron came through the automatic sliding doors, he followed right on in. Fearless. We debated whether to call the number on the tag, since obviously his owner knew that Max was a wanderer, and that Max would be more than able to get himself home when he wanted to leave. Someone had the brilliant idea of escorting Max out the side of the building where the doors are not automatic sliders. That was fine with Max. He lounged in a sunbeam, next to a window for awhile. The kids, of course, LOVED that there was a cat in and near the library.

Several hours passed, and then, there was Max. Downstairs now, weaving among the folks using our stand up terminals. I scooped him up again, and introduced him to our director, who is in favor of a library cat. I finally called the number on his tag, and got a voicemail box that said, "If you are calling about Max the Super Friendly Cat, his human is out of town. You can call this other number to talk to a human that knows about Max. Again, if Max has wandered into your life, call this number. If you actually wanted to talk to me, leave a message." That cracked me up. We let Max roam in the back staff area until his temporary human came and picked him up. Then I missed him the rest of the day. But I understand he has other folks to visit.

Library cats are the best.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Great Books!

I've been on a spurt of great books lately. You will have seen them over there on the right hand sidebar, in my Librarything widget, but I feel I need to tell you more about them. I feel this so strongly, that I've even written most of this post twice. Because apparently just letting Blogger autosave your message doesn't keep it in draft form. I guess you actually have to save it to save it. I wrote about most of these books on Saturday before I left work, and the message is gone! All this to say, these books are so great, I'll tell you about them twice.

My list is in reverse chronological order, so the first one I read back in Dallas, and the last one, I just put down this morning.

  • The Last Summer of You and Me, by Ann Brashares -- This is the first grown up novel from the lady who wrote "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" books. Ann did a great job of getting readers inside the heads of her characters, and though I would have been even more impressed if she didn't take the easy way out of the love triangle she'd so carefully built, I still loved the story. Very well done.
  • Dedication, by Emma McLaughlin and some one else -- The same two ladies who wrote "The Nanny Diaries." I loved this book, partly for the plot, who doesn't love a story where a girl with a life long obsession with a boy finally gets to be with him? But more than that, I loved the references to being a teen in the late 80's early 90's. These ladies had me at "Salon Selectives."
  • The Amelia Books, by Marissa Moss -- Amelia is a grade school kid, she's an author, an artist, and bless her, an avid journal keeper. Moss has created a series of notebooks with Amelia's thoughts and her drawings, and they are funny and intelligent. And somehow Moss dumps a life lesson in each one without sounding obvious. I want to be like Amelia when I grow up.
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan -- Both of these authors have written other young adult books that I've really loved. The book alternates between Nick's perspective, all written by David, and Norah's all written by Rachel. I love stories with multiple points of view. And I love this story. One night, two people, and the sweetest edgy little love story you'll ever read. Warning, lots of profanity. But it's sweet.
  • A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb -- This is a story about a ghost haunting a high school English classroom. Y'all know I'm not much of a ghost story person, but this was touching and only barely spooky in a few small places. As the story opens, the ghost realizes that for the first time in 130 years, someone can actually see her. And, another bonus, this book totally did not end the way I thought it would.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling -- Plenty of hype around this book, last of a seven part series. I think I liked taking part in something like literary history almost more than I liked the book itself. But, all good things must end and all that. It was still a good read. And Hermione rocks. Obviously, I recommend this for folks who've read the others. For non-Harry Potter fans, I'll just add this to demonstrate the sweep of good books I've been reading.
  • The Uglies Trilogy, by Scott Westerfeld -- I checked out this series after seeing the wait list for it at the library. And because it has a pretty cover. In a future version of the world, everyone gets an operation when they turn 16 that makes them stunningly gorgeous. Of course, as it turns out, it also makes you a bit slow witted. Rats. I've read Uglies and Pretties, and I'm waiting anxiously for my turn with the last volume, "Specials."
  • The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron -- This is the Newberry winner that raised such a fuss 'cause it has the word "scrotum" on the first page. Somehow I managed to overlook that travesty and enjoy this book heartily. I'd recommend it in audio format, especially, since the reader does such a good job. Lucky reminds me a bit of Ramona, and her friends are quite likeable. The residents of Hard Pan, CA remind me of the characters you'd find in a Barbara Kingsolver novel.
  • Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke -- Okay, I'm cheating with this one, because I'm not even halfway through it, but it's wonderful. It's Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets that artist I like, Michael Parkes. It's about a girl who's father is a bookbinder who has the unfortunate gift of bringing people and things out of books just by reading them aloud. And you really, really should listen to it as an audio book. Lynn Redgrave does a splendid job of reading this story. It has one of my new all time favorite characters, Meggie's aunt Eleanor, who is wonderful. She's like Farmer Maggot telling off the Black Riders. That's another thing I love about this book. When Meggie is leaving her home, she suspects for a long time, she packs up only her most-favoritist books ever. One of them is the Lord of the Rings. You have to like book characters who like your favorite books, don't you. I think this one will become an all-time life favorite. Though I've still got two and a half books to go.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Favorite Marathon and Tidal Waves

Ah, blog friends, I'm sorry that for the most part you live too far away to come to a movie marathon. But we did have a great one this last weekend. We started at 10 a.m., a little later than we intended, and it lasted until one in the morning. Sarah wins a prize for being the only guest to make it through all three movies, but both Lisa and N.S.L. arrived not far into The Two Towers.

It had been SO LONG since I'd seen the movies. Even little bits of the movies. I mean, at one point, I was watching some part of the movies almost daily, and it had been probably close to 18 months since I'd seen any of them. There was stuff in there I felt like I'd never seen before. Lines that seemed completely new. AND, this time through, there was the bonus of being able to say "We were THERE!" when we saw familiar bits of New Zealand.

Oh, and we had good food!! Gina stopped by and dropped off HOMEMADE donuts! Donuts, the traditional food of Bastille Day of course. Nathan and I had made homemade ice cream. There were Toll House cookie bars. I made an enchilada casserole. We had dips and chips and salsa. Sooooo much good food.

The best part though was the thoughtful discussion that came up. The Teos had some great questions about Middle Earth. "So, if orcs are descended from elves, are they also immortal?" or "If Gandalf is somewhat super-human, a Maia, how come he couldn't kick Saruman's fesse in the first movie?" or "How would Aragorn and Arwen have kids, if they aren't the same race?" I mean, these are the questions of TRUE Tolkien dorks. Between Sarah and I and Nathan searching the Encyclopedia of Arda, we came up with the answers.

I've spent every free moment since watching the commentary on ROTK. I'd never watched it before. How is this possible, I ask you. Or if I'd watched it, I'd forgotten it. But there's a bit in there about the dream of the tidal wave that Faramir has in the book, and that Eowyn has in the movie. Turns out it was Tolkien himself who originally had the dream. I'd known this at one point, but forgotten it, so I got to have the "Whoa. That's so cool!" moment all over again. I remembered we'd had a great email exchange about this. I've also had tidal wave dreams in the past and found them oddly relevant. And there are some interesting allusions to tidal wave dreams in other things I've read. I'm including our previous conversations here, because I find us so interesting. This'll be long.

Ah, technology. I've used my Google webspace and put it all on it's own little page.

Two things:
1) I got so engrossed in this project that I forgot to go upstairs and tell the knitters that their Knitting Librarian was out sick today. Argh.
2) I'd forgotten that we used to use the fact that Jim took Greek as a general Trump Card of Geekiness. "Oh yeah? You think I just did something chart worthy? Well, you took Greek!" (Jean, kind of a "You like Keeler!" moment.) But you know what Jim? Jean also took Greek.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stephen King said it best

I don't get to say that very often. Read this great column by Stephen King about the end of Harry Potter, and the end of stories we love, generally. Funny, he doesn't mention the end of Gilmore Girls.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dallas, Part Two

(I'm totally back dating these posts. We were in Dallas last week. Actually, the events that follow occurred exactly one week ago. Though now I've changed the date on the post, so sometime in the future we might wonder "Was it one week before June 22?" No, indeed, this was written June 29, even though it's dated June 22. This is more complicated than an episode of Star Trek where they mess with the space-time continuum.)

Our second full day in Texas, we visited Fort Worth. I've been told this should never, ever be written as "Ft. Worth." We had a nice leisurely morning around the house, and arrived in Fort Worth in time for lunch.

Now the whole time I've known Nathan, he's been, well, I'll just say it, a bit snobbish about the Mexican food available in California. And all this time, I've sort of thought that he was, essentially, wrong about this. That his complaints about Californian Mexican food were just an expression of his fondness for Texas, rather than an actual difference in the quality of the food.

Then we went to lunch at Joe T. Garcias. Heavens to Betsy the food was good. The rice was great, the tortillas were incredible. Even the Dr. Pepper was outstanding. It was, quite simply, the best Mexican restaurant I've ever been to. I'd eat there every day, if I happened to live closer. I. Stand. Corrected.

Joe T. Garcias has a spectacular garden out back. It keeps going and going, they could seat hundreds of people out there. I'm sure they do on warm summer evenings. The place was full at 2 p.m. on a Friday, I'm sure it's stuffed at more traditional eating times.

After gorging at Joe T. Garcias, we went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It's a small little place, with some cool stuff for kids. Outside (I can't believe they were outside in the heat, but kids are crazy this way) there was a giant sand pit where you could dig for dinosaur bones. The main attraction for us, however, was an exhibit of Star Wars stuff. For me, not quite as thrilling at the Lord of the Rings exhibit in Wellington, but still pretty darn cool. There were the models they'd used in filming, costumes, little movies about how they'd done special effects. Also cool, all sorts of "check out the science of Star Wars" stations. You could make a little ship that levitated magnetically. I spent a heck of a long time trying to figure out how to get a pair of robot legs to walk three feet. (Walking, way more complicated than you might think.) And Jean, this picture is for you: they had a display about robots in our lives today, and proud in the center was the Roomba. For the best shots of the Star Wars stuff, I'll have to link you to Nathan's photos. He was working some magic with the wide angle lens.

Here's Nathan, taking a picture of an At-At (right? that's what these thingers are?) with R2D2 in the background.

We had tickets for an IMAX movie that wasn't scheduled to start for a bit, so we wandered next door to the Cowgirl Museum. Sadly, I have no pictures of the Cowgirl Museum, since they don't let you take pictures in there. Which is too bad, really. It's sort of a small museum, at this point, as it's fairly new. But it's really beautiful. They've got a lovely new building, and the displays are bright and shiny. We learned a lot about The Cowgirl Spirit. It's important to note that one does not need to be associated with classic cowgirl pastimes to display The Cowgirl Spirit. I think one need only be plucky. Or spunky. I *do* think it helps to be female. Gives you a leg up, if you know what I mean.

Back over at the Museum of Science and History, we enjoyed the IMAX movie about Special Effects. It was fun to be in a large, planetarium like theater as well. We all discussed the last time we'd been in such a place. Good times, good times. After the movie we headed home for delicious ribs and shrimp left overs, plus....sooooo goood, left over apple pie.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dallas, Part One

Not too much to report about our first evening in Dallas. We arrived late evening, and Cheryl and Lou met us at the airport. We went out to eat, what would be the first of five days of fantastic meals. Our waiter "y'all"'ed us more than my friends the Indigo Girls. I had ribs and shrimp and baked sweet potato......soooooo good. Lou and I had leftovers, and we started to scheme over how we could eat them without assistance from our spouses.

We had our first tour of the lovely Smith residence. We were set up in the "Lou Wing" of the house, in the "Map Room." Should anyone be debating what theme to develop for their guest bedrooms, I would recommend a "Map Room" theme. For one, you get to put cool framed maps up all over the walls. For two, for visitors who've never been to your state (like me in this instance) the maps are most helpful in demonstrating the geography of the state. Nathan had already helpfully pointed out that the state flag of Texas did not have a bear on it. I pretended to be shocked by this fact.

Thursday morning we got up for our walk. We had decided that we would walk every morning on California time, so in Texas, we walked at 7:45. Which seemed very decadently late. Of course what the walk lacked in earliness, it made up in humidity. It was downright damp out there!! Texas has gotten some weather lately, towns an hour north of Dallas have been flooded. We'd had just a few showers, but the sky was overcast, and, did I mention the humidity? Cheryl and Lou live in on a golf course, with a house that backs up to water feature. A very pretty neighborhood. Swarming with BUNNIES!! I didn't count the bunnies the first day, but we ended up seeing two or three dozen rabbits per walk. We toured the neighborhood making only right turns, until we hit our half way point. Then we turned around and came home, making only left turns.

Our plan for the day was to see some of downtown Dallas, and then take a driving tour of the area. First, though, Cheryl showed me how to feed the turtles off the back porch. Turtles came swimming over from all directions when she stood out there and waved a cup of cat food around. You don't often think of the phrase "feeding frenzy" in connection with turtles, but trust me, I've seen it. Cheryl also whipped up a big batch of muffins for a brunch on Sunday, which led to another kind of feeding frenzy. I'm not sure you'll be able to make it out in the photo, but that muffin cup has Power Rangers on it.

Our first stop was the Sixth Floor Museum, more commonly known as the Texas Book Repository, or the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired on President Kennedy. Perhaps a slightly grim introduction to a city, but an interesting place all the same. Got me thinking a bit about how quickly "history" happens in this modern age. Or even what was the modern age forty years ago. The museum had a centerpiece from one of the tables at the luncheon JFK was scheduled to attend that day. In the craziness of that day, someone thought to grab a centerpiece, because it was, suddenly, "historic." What artifacts will come out of the woodwork when someone puts together a Diana Museum, or the 9/11 museum? Will there ever be a shortage of artifacts for either of those events? Anyway, a good museum, and I'd recommend it to anyone visiting Dallas. Also, for the graphic artists in the crowd, they have an intriguingly simple logo. I liked it.

After wandering around the Grassy Knoll briefly (it was really hot and humid) we got back into the car for some lunch, and a drive. We toured the towns around Dallas that were significant to the family: Plano, Lucas, Princeton, McKinney, in one big loop. We finished up with a little shopping at Tom Thumb (always fun to see supermarkets in other towns). There's a play center in the same complex as the grocery store called "Wiggly Play Land" or some such. We never went in there. Kids today get way more cool stuff than when we were kids. You'd be lucky to get to ride around and around in a circle on a horse outside the store, IF you'd been good the whole time inside. No magical Wiggly Play Land for us.

Cheryl cooked us a fantastic salmon dinner with crusty parmesan cheese on top. And there was Apple Pie from Willie Mae's Bakery. Sooooo goooooddddd. We rolled off to bed, completely full and exhausted.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No More Plastic!

Now, I've known for a long time that as a responsible shopper (heck, a responsible human being) I should really be taking my own reusable bags out with me whenever I shop. I do okay when I go to Trader Joes. I don't usually take reusable bags, but I've been using the same 7 to 12 paper bags for at least six months now, and they are holding up quite nicely. At TJs, if you bring your own bags, you get to enter a drawing for a gift card, and I know, that any day now, they will be calling to announce that I've won.

And a few weeks ago, while at another of my favorite places, IKEA, I discovered they are now charging patrons for plastic bags. They will sell you their huge, beautiful blue bags for use and reuse for .49 each, or they'll sell you their less durable version for .05 each. I've been hauling stuff around in the blue bags for over a year now. They are my laundry bags, I hauled wedding supplies in them, Nathan and I packed in them when we went to Yosemite. I even gave some to my mom for her birthday. They are awesome. I asked the check out lady if they'd noticed a decrease in the number of folks using the "disposable" plastic bags, and she said there'd been quite a decrease. Nobody was grumbling in line. And you know that if I use the words "line" and "IKEA" we're talking about a fairly large sample size.

The place that's caused me the most guilt has always been Target. I love shopping at Target. I'm the best little capitalist I can be at Target. And the Target workers are quite possibly the worst baggers in the world. More than once, I've seen them toss two bottles of soda in a bag, put that bag in another bag, then set the whole thing aside as though it couldn't possibly hold even the toothpaste I'd purchased. I have more Target bags than is decent. I should have been taking my own bags to Target, I know. But, I haven't been.

Until now. Yesterday, while finishing up a marathon Target run, I noticed they had a modest display of their own reusable shopping bags. The grocery bag sized cloth numbers, that are darn near impossible to destroy. These are Target red, with a lovely little tree motif on them. They also have a version that cleverly zips up around itself to form a packet about the size of a checkbook. I happily purchased two grocery sized bags and one checkbook sized bag. The clerk let me pack my own items into these bags, assuring I didn't get ANY of those plastic kind.

A manager-esque person walked by and said "Thank you for buying our bags!" I said, again, with what might have been more enthusiasm than one might expect, "Thank YOU for selling them! You have no idea how happy I am to not be getting plastic bags at Target."

I got home and unpacked them, and folded them right up, and found a special spot for them in the Celt-Mobile (II). I'm sooooo ready to shop now! Look out world!! And look out, plastic bag drawer in Jenn's kitchen! There are some lean times ahead!

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Tale of Outstanding Dorkiness

Several days ago, I had stopped by the Reference Desk on my way to the staff areas of the library, to chat with a Library Friend. My new supervisor was also there, chatting. In the midst of our conversation, I gasped, because I noticed the library's copy of "The Children of Hurin" had arrived. My Library Friend, who is the cataloger said, "How about I get that in the catalog, and then you can process it." I happily agreed, and then had a short discussion with My New Supervisor about the LOTR movies. He claims they ruined the books for him. Briefly I thought this would put a serious hurdle to our relationship. But, I've reminded myself that purists are purists. Some people don't even like chunks of stuff in their ice cream. I lovingly processed the book, wrapping it in it's cover, putting on the labels (as straight as I possibly could), giving it a book pocket, stamping it with our library stamp.

Fast forward several days to our library staff meeting. The Assistant Director says, "We were supposed to get our copy of Tolkien's new book -- how someone who is dead can release a new book is beyond me! -- "The Children of Hurin," but it's not in our catalog." My Library Friend and I exchanged looks....of course it was in our catalog. I announced that I had processed that book, I was sure it was here. My Library Friend went over to a catalog station to hunt for it.

Do you know, my dear friends, why it didn't come up? OHHHHH, it's *such* a good one. It makes me giddy just to think of it.

People were doing a title search for "The Children of Hurin." Reasonable.

BUT! When My Library Friend had imported the record into our catalog....oh, it's so great, I can't wait for you to read what happened....THE RECORD HAD THE TITLE IN SINDARIN!!! A hunt for the author "Tolkien" turned up "Narn I Hin Hurin." Everyone else in the room was stumped. But I joyfully shouted out "That's SINDARIN! ELVISH, people, ELVISH!!"

Oh, but there is more dorkiness to unfold, best beloveds. Indeed.

I then shared with the group a fun fact I'd learned only the day before. A parent had come to the Kids Desk, wanting to know which book comes after "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." I had to go to Wikipedia, because I know there is some controversy on this point. See for yourself. After I talked her through it, I was browsing the article and saw that some people postulate that Narnia got it's name from the Sindarin word for "poem," namely "narn," as in "Narn I Hin Hurin." I guess C.S. Lewis denies that he was inspired by his buddy J.R.R.T. but I am going to continue to not only believe this rumor but spread it.

Is that not the most beautiful thing you've ever heard about a staff meeting?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Heteo back on West Coast

This is old news now, but it's old news with new pictures. Two Saturdays ago, H was here! And we took pictures!!

Usually when you hang out with Heteo, you have the opportunity to draw a daily Angel Card, from a deck of oh, gosh, lots of cards. The angel card has a word on it that gives you a glimpse of something you might want to think about on that particular day. When H had been here for almost an hour, and we were getting ready to leave, and Nathan still hadn't been offered an Angel Card, he asked what was up. H didn't have them with her, but NEVER FEAR!! You can draw a Virtual Angel Card ONLINE!! H found the page, and then bookmarked it on Nathan's computer. Much to his chagrin. It was great!

I've also recently (since Yosemite) become quite a fan of the reach-out-and-take-a-picture shot, taken with the wide angle lens. Hence:

After the Angel Cards, H and I went over the hill to Santa Cruz. H showed me a new place with great burritos (really great burritos) and we took a walk on West Cliff. It was a bit cold and breezy, and I made the classic blunder (well, the third classic blunder, I didn't get involved in a land war in Asia). I got a sunburn. It didn't feel hot, so I didn't think about sun protection. Argh. Anyways, I've now reformed, and in addition to the daily exercise, and the daily flossing, I'm applying sunscreen daily. I swear I'll be immortal soon. A truck could hit me, and it would just bounce off the flossed teeth, applied sunscreen, and exercised cardiovascular system. I digress.

Anyway, it was great to see Heteo, and walk on West Cliff and stroll down Pacific Garden Mall. Really, we should all live in the same place.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Wild Trees

Thanks for all the anniversary wishes folks! We had a great trip, and we're glad to be back. I have tales and photos to share, hopefully later today.

I'm just popping in to tell you about a book I'm reading, called "The Wild Trees" by Richard Preston. It's about the crazy ecosystems that exist in the canopies of redwood forests, and about the even crazier people who climb these trees and wander around hundreds of feet above the ground. I saw the author on both The Daily Show and the Colbert Report, then I saw the copy come into our library.

Anyway, it's a very compelling read. AND, it turns out these crazy tree climber / scientists are also Tolkien Dorks. One of the tallest trees they've discovered so far they named Laurelin, and the section I'm about to start reading is called "The Fall of Telperion." Go Tolkien Dorks!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Yosemite, Day Two

Also known as "Anniversary Day!!" Nathan and I played several more rounds of "What were we doing a year ago today." We enjoyed remembering how great it was to be with so many of our loved ones, eating great food, enjoying the planetarium, and heck, getting married. I can't believe it's been a whole year!!! Mostly I can't believe it's been a year since I've seen most of you. Well, I look at you in pictures all the time, but still. Your actual selves.

We had our Big Hike lined up for Monday morning. I'd never been able to get to the top of Vernal Falls or Nevada Falls, either due to laziness or trails closed off due to snow. I was determined this would be the day. So we got up at our usual time, gathered our stuff, and hit the trail. (The ladies restroom in Curry Campground was surprisingly busy at 5:45 am. Who gets up that early? And who brings an electric toothbrush on a camping trip? Why, I ask you? Why?)

The hiking gear distribution in our family breaks down thusly:
Jenn carries : first aid kit, bug repellent, water and snacks for two, various clothing layers she might need, her camera, small tripod, sunglasses, and journal.
Nathan carries : his camera, all the lenses we might need. His bag is heavier. :)

The first part of the hike we've both done before, to the bridge below Vernal Falls. It's less than a mile, mostly uphill, and as we've walked our daily walks, we've been thinking of this first part. We've done the math, even. Our Big Hill at home is 0.2 miles, and the Big Hill to the Bridge is 0.8 miles, so we know we're climbing our own big hill four times. With gear. Turns out we hadn't been carrying gear at home. We do a fairly tidy job of getting to the bridge. AND, because it's not yet 7 a.m. we have the bridge below Vernal Falls entirely to ourselves. This has never happened to me before. We take many pictures. I use my tripod and get the water to blur. I'm quite excited.

There are two paths to the top of the falls. One, short and very steep, called the Mist Trail, where one is likely to get quite wet. The other, the John Muir Trail, is longer, less steep, and dry. I decide we should take this trail.

It was a long three miles or so, my friends. Several times we passed, and were passed by a group of six guys. I thought they'd just blaze by us and be gone, but no, they'd pass us, then in a few minutes, they'd be stopped, and we'd pass them. It was pleasantly shady on our way up the hills and switchbacks, probably because it wasn't much past eight o'clock. We ended up at Clarke's Point, 5400 feet of elevation. We ran into the same six guys, a lively chipmunk, and a map.

From Clark's Point, one has several options, depending on the type of trail you want to hike and your destination. We helped the six guys decide which path they should take to get to the top of Half Dome and wished them good hiking (I wonder if they made it.) For ourselves, we decided we didn't need to get to the top of Nevada Falls, which was now before us, but that we'd head downhill (YAY!) to the top of Vernal Falls, which was now below us.

What fun it is to walk downhill after two or so hours of walking UPHILL. And the views were incredible. How often to you get to look down on a waterfall? We walked down to the observation area near the falls and hung out for awhile. Nathan took some video footage, and I tried to instill some fear of humans into the squirrels that wanted to know more about the sunscreen I was using. Nathan was more successful than I was.

Many of the folks at the observation area had come up the Mist Trail, the short path that winds up the side of the waterfall, and they were, indeed, misty. We were headed down that way.

It was an amazing trail, I'm glad we just went down it. Three tenths of a mile down granite steps that were often much smaller than my feet. We developed a side of a side stepping motion that felt safer, though must have looked rather silly. We had to "pull over" frequently for folks who were on the way up. As we were just getting to the mistiest part of the mist trail, right after Nathan said "Well, I guess we consider this our shower for the day," one of the ladies coming up the hill got an call on her cell phone. Don't worry, she answered it. Sure, "Hi, I'm in a National Park. I'm standing on a dangerous set of slippery granite slabs, and that roaring you hear in the background is actually millions of gallons of snowmelt rushing by. I'm holding up traffic here on this narrow path, so hey, how are you? Talk to me!" People are weird. I believe that in my heart.

By the time we got back to the bridge, the morning people were up and around. It was teeming with tourists. We'd already been to the top though, and felt, I'll say it, rather triumphant. We passed hundreds of people on the downwards trek of the first big hill. They looked tired. It was hotter now, and they were walking uphill. I smiled at them encouragingly, and thought "Poor fools. "

Back in our camp, we had some pastrami and cheese (delightful!) and took a nice afternoon siesta. So very civilized.

In the late afternoon, Nathan suggested we take a trip to Sentinel Bridge. We availed ourselves of the Yosemite Shuttle service for the trip to the bridge. Awesome, they Yosemite Shuttle. Hybrid buses on a regular route through the park, helps keep some cars off the road in the Valley. Thumbs up, Yosemite National Park. When we got to the bridge, we discovered it was a hot spot. This photo doesn't quite do it justice, I didn't quite find a time when all the photographers were leaning at the right angle so you could see them all. You'll have to imagine five more guys with camera bags going on down the line. And me, of course. (Really, why is it that you rarely see girls out there with cameras. More than the little palm sized cameras, I mean. How is it that taking pictures became a guy thing? Why?)

The view was awesome from the bridge, I can see why it was crowded. We sat with our feet dangling over the edge of the bridge, and watched the rafters go down the river, with Yosemite Falls in the background. A glorious afternoon, really we totally lucked out on the weather.

After sitting on the bridge for awhile, we walked back to Curry Village through the meadow in the center of the Valley. Now that it was the end of Memorial Day weekend, most of the hordes had left the park. There were no traffic jams, the sides of the roads were clear, mostly, and it was more, well, idyllic. Less urban.

We made it back to our camp, and had some PBJs. I caught and released a wasp in our cabin. The same wasp, I guessed, that I had already caught and released twice the day before. I never put a tag on her, but I feel it was the same wasp. I called her Waspy. I tried to explain to her that while I was a patient person, and willing to admit that she was here, in our cabin first, that I would eventually grow tired of showing her outside in a plastic cup. Waspy never got the message. She continued to visit the whole time we were there. Of course, after I named her, I couldn't exactly step on her, now could I?

Later, after we'd been asleep for several hours, I woke up to the sound of a lady clapping and proclaiming "Go Away Bear! Go Away Bear!" She used her words. For a moment, I thought she'd driven the bear towards our block of tent cabins. There was a persistent growling sound very near to our tent. However, it was a very consistent growling sound, and I soon realized it was, in fact, our neighbor snoring.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yosemite, Day One

(I'm back dating these posts, pretending either that I wrote them from Tent Cabin 545, where there was no electrical outlet, or, if you prefer, that I had a time machine.)

We took a bit of a circuitous route to Yosemite, following a path laid out by a GPS with only a vague familiarity with the areas we were passing. It was a pretty route though, and we passed through one small town where the firemen were collecting money by passing boots around from car to car at intersections, and another small town where there was a guy on stilts (we never did figure out why.)

I hadn't been to Yosemite in the busy season in years. Decades, even. I've been going in February, March and October. So imagine my surprise to discover traffic jams in the valley. Stop and go traffic to get to a tent cabin. Rangers on bikes who wouldn't let us pass if we didn't have reservations. (You shall not pass, rangers on bikes, I just can't help this stuff.)

We did have reservations, though clearly we forgot to reserve a parking spot. I guess it's some sort of commentary on our times when parking in a National Park is a big issue. I mean, I went to the National Park to get away from problems like parking. Luckily, we did find a spot that only required a moderate hike to the check in desk. From there, a guy with a golf cart helped us shuttle all of our stuff to our cabin.

Which led to another sort of you tip the guy who shuttles your luggage from the outer reaches of a parking lot to a canvas tent, via golf cart? All sorts of etiquette contradictions there. Have you ever tipped a National Park employee? Is a bellhop really a bellhop if he's in a golf cart?

We settled in nicely, though the bear locker we were assigned was much smaller than we expected. The tent cabins were hopping, especially several large rocks that were covered with children. Provided us with some interesting eavesdropping. My favorite jewel was a ten year old (or so) girl who started to shout out a story with the preface "This is a non-fiction story that took place, oh, about an hour ago."

Once we settled, we packed up some photo gear, and started a good wander. We ended up by Mirror Lake, feeling proud of ourselves for not being overly bothered by the shallow but long uphill climb to get to the water. We puttered around, took many photos (which I'll add in here soon) and then headed back to the cabin.

I led us through a few rounds of "A year ago today, we were...." Rehearsal dinner night!! Good times!!

Then, we crashed. We were asleep before the sun set.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Peer Pressure

Our hard work has paid off! Dad's ready to join the blogging pool. Thought I'd just cultivate a little peer-pressure for that idea. He's thinking it might be a week or two before he's ready to commit to the daily grind of writing, but it's out there on the horizon!

One MONTH of Walking

Well, friends, we're past the one month walk. One month of getting up at 5:45 am and walking for an hour. We've made some new friends. There's the guy with the chocolate lab; he's got one of those handle thingies that pick tennis balls off the ground and throw them without slobbery hands. There's the guy with the black poofy dog. There's another guy who walks three dogs at one time. We know several newspaper delivery guys. And one lady who uses us as a benchmark -- she's extra proud of herself if she's coming down the big hill while we are headed up, as most days it's the other way around.

We've seen some critters, too! Most mornings we see two or three bunnies. One Sunday we saw three raccoons, finishing up their night. There is a hawk of some kind that sits on a power pole near the top of the big hill. And the same Sunday we saw the raccoons we saw what was either a VERY large house cat, or a little bobcat. It ducked into some bushes before we were certain.

So we're off tomorrow to try our practiced legs in the hills of Yosemite. Nevada Falls, here we come!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Temporarily Unisex

As I mentioned a few days ago, we have quite a few signs in the library. We have piles of simple signs at the ready for when things break. Yesterday, I was at the circ desk joking with the other circ desk worker as we flipped through the piles of signs trying to find the ones that accurately represented the state of disrepair of the computers.
"Internet Unavailable" -- no
"Out of Order, use machine in children's room" -- no
"All library computers are down" -- ah yes, this is the pile we need

Today all the computers are festooned with these signs. It's no use people, all these computers are broken. The person working the ref desk just came in to report that a patron walked up to one of the two dozen computers with signs taped to their screens, and flipped the sign over. She sat down, and attempted to use the computer. When it didn't work, she asked why not.

The Ref Desk worker waved her arm at all the signs. "The computers are down," she said, "that's why they all have signs that say they are not working."

The patron said "This one had a sign that said 'Temporarily Unisex.'"

Several things to love here.
1) We actually have a sign that says "Temporarily Unisex," for when one restroom breaks. Then boys and girls share the one remaining restroom.
2) In a sea of broken computers, the patron thought one was working.
3) She wasn't put off by the unisex sign. As though, on other days, we have some computers for males, and others for females.
4) And of course, she seemed surprised when the computer didn't work.

I heart patrons. No really. They are entertaining.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you like movies about spelling bees.....

you should see this one. Heck, even if spelling bees don't seem like compelling movie fodder, you should still see it. If you liked "Whale Rider" then you should extra-definitely see this movie. If you like Scrabble, you should see this movie. If you like the word "pulchritude" then you should see this movie. If you think it really *does* take a village to raise a child, regardless of the fact that you feel dorky saying it, then you should see this movie. I think that covers everyone in the world, right? You may spend some time wondering "What exactly is the connection between Starbucks and this movie?" You won't be on the edge of your seat wondering "What is going to happen next?" But you will, I bet, experience a severe warming of the cockles of your heart. Maybe in even in the sub-cockle region. Maybe (say it with me Jean) even in the colon.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Farewell, TV Friends

This week, the last episode (ever) of the Gilmore Girls aired. Now I know many of you aren't TV heads, and more power to you, but let's spend a few moments contemplating the end of a long running, well loved series. Much like a good friend, a good TV show moves into your life and, as the Indigo Girls would say, "makes your thinking crowded." Over time the characters grow with you, they grow into you somehow.

I remember when ST:TNG ended. Jean, where were you the night the episode aired? Was Paul Witworth involved? I don't remember, but while I tried, I ended up thinking "I don't know beans about cars." I digress. Anyway, I watched it by myself the first time, and then Dad called, and I explained to him the import of what had just occured. "All Good Things," a great last episode title. It was coming on summer in the Land of UCSC, where I'd seen almost all the Star Trek episodes. The show was (dare I write it?) much like our own expanding universe. So much to explore! We were working out the details of our own Prime Directives, if you will. Late nights watching Data and Picard, then discussing the holodeck and the jeffries tubes . . .

And the West Wing! The West Wing unfurled at the time of ultimate lameness with our "real" government. The show provided a reality where our leaders were not only brilliant, but moral and *gasp* articulate. Witty even. Moreover, I watched the show during years when I was surviving a workplace that had nothing going for it but the awesomeness of my coworkers. Watching, I could imagine what the world would be like if my real life brilliant coworkers were working on something that actually mattered, in a place that respected our abilities.

Now, too, we've lost the Gilmore Girls. I've watched Rory go through her prep school, and her four years of Yale. I've admired Lauren Graham's hair and pondered her indecision as she went from Luke to Christopher to Luke to Christopher to Luke. We really connected in the post-LOTR movie years, when Lorelai told Rory she had to be home by 10 p.m. lest she be set upon by orcs. Really, the Gilmore Girls get me. The people of Star's Hollow have come to represent my ideal community. Miss Patty and her dancing daffodils in that gazebo in front of Taylor's market are now benchmarks. Who doesn't have a community of some sort with it's town meetings, with Kirk as a mime, the random guy singing on the street corner, each wackier than the last, and valued for whatever their wackiness adds to the total picture.

So when these shows end, it's a lot like losing a friend. It hurts a little to know their stories won't progress any further, barring some awful reunion show you'd dread but watch because of it's train wreck magnetism. And it hurts to lose the potential metaphor the show provided, the lens that makes a little sense of "real" life. Sure, I can still toss out "Temba his arms wide," but I won't what new mannerism Data adopts in his quest to become human. I can still think "How would C.J. proccess these magazines? That's how I want to process them!" but I won't ever get to see the West Wing crew make their tour of all the National Parks, per President Bartlett's plan. How will Rory do, riding on the press bus following Barack Obama? You know I'll be looking for her when I watch the real-life press conferences.

Farewell, my TV friends. Thanks for sharing seven years of your fictional lives with me. I'll really miss you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lord Kitchener

Libraries have a lot signs posted in them. Whenever we host an event (even regularly scheduled clubs and classes) we post way too many signs about it. This library, and I hear this is a common thing for libraries, suffers from sign overload.

As you might imagine, there are specific sign styles, that vary based more upon the sign crafter than they do upon the event the sign reflects. I haven't been entrusted with the task of making signs long enough to have developed my own signature sign style, but you could probably visualize what my signs would look like. Our primo sign maker, his style is like this. That's his favorite font. The guy who reminds me of Goodyear, he's got a new position at the library that now involves sign making. So. He's made his first sign for Teen Poker Night.

There's no picture of it up on the web yet, but it features Lord Kitchener saying "I want YOU! to come to Poker Night." I suppose only time will tell whether or not this image will inspire the teens. Heck, perhaps Lord Kitchener is nouveau chic. Perhaps it's an unfortunate choice. Either way, it's made for some hysterical conversation.

Goodyear's Twin and the librarian who runs our Knitting Club were both prepping to hang new signs (I made the knitting signs, my first great work here.) Knitting Club Lady was asking why we had a Russian on the Poker Night signs.
Goodyear's Twin: "That's not a Russian, that's Lord Kitchener! What makes you think he's a Russian?"
Knitting Club Lady: "His mustache."
GT: "That's not a Russian mustache."
KCL: "Hey, did he knit?"
GT: "What? No! He's way too manly to knit!"
KCL: "Well, the stitch you use to finish off socks is called the Kitchener stitch. I think he invented it."
GT: "NO! He's not a knitter! Look it up on the web."
KCL: "It's called the Kitchener stitch. I think he was a knitter."

Then they both rushed out to secure the prime spots for their signs. :) Later, GT was taking a flier about the knitting club home to his wife, and KCL said "Hey, do you ever wear those socks your wife made you?" He said he didn't because they had a hole in the toe, but he didn't want to tell her they had a hole in the toe. I said, all ready to rile the crowds up again for my own entertainment, "You know who could've fixed those for you?" They both looked over. "Lord Kitchener."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Next Generation

Wow, what a deceptive subject line. My first thought was "Oh, some people are going to think that's about Star Trek." Then, several moments later, I remembered the all important connotation those words could have coming from a fairly-recently-married person. Nope, not that one either. My apologies for the double psych out.

I was at the Circ Desk today, checking out books for a mom who was there with her daughter. Little girl was maybe two, at the oldest, sporting those baby fine pigtails in blonde. She started to wander off, and mom called after her, "Eowyn, come wait here with me please!"


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday = Blogs + Jeans

I've entered my stretch of working Saturdays, we rotate here, and so about four or five out of every twelve Saturdays finds me in the library. You know what? I love working Saturdays. It's so peaceful here. There are *just* enough staff to go around, and most patrons have either plenty of time to browse, or better things to do. It's soooo relaxed.

In former eras of my life, pre-public library, probably most of you know, I was a jeans and t-shirt girl. UCSC, not what you'd call a formal place. Kid you not, we kept slippers under our desks, and wore them around the office. Shamelessly. Here, I've been kicking it up a fashion notch. Nothing crazy, no pantyhose or power suits or anything. (And I only wear slippers at home. Sigh.) But I wear jeans once a week. The last day of my work week, be it Friday or Saturday. Sure, I miss the day to day comfort of jeans. But man, when I wear my jeans now, it's so FANTASTIC. Just getting to wear jeans to work makes the day great. Heck, wearing jeans at home rocks too. Today is a jeans day.

And, because of the relaxed Saturday atmosphere, I'm tooling through some Librarian Blogs. I can't decide if this falls into the category of "going the extra mile" or "creatively trying to look busy."

Here are a few I've discovered that are just hysterical. I have also found some that look informative, but I'm saving that for later. I guess that answers my question. "Creatively trying to look busy," it is.
There are more. Every time you find a good one, there are links on it to more librarian blogs. Isn't it strange how as every day goes by, there is only ever more, never less, to read. One of life's Great Conundrums.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Week of Walks

Nathan and I have embarked on a new fitness routine. We're walking daily for an hour. Nathan felt it was particularly important that we walk at the same time, every day, without variation. The only window in our shared schedules that can be relied upon every day is 5:45 am. That's right. A.M. We're done with our hour walk before 7 a.m. We started a week ago yesterday.

And you know what?

So far it's not that bad.

I mean, it's early. Sure. And it seems even earlier on days when I would normally sleep in until 8 or even 9. When I originally started to well, I guess "whine" is the right word, about this, Nathan suggested we try it for a month and then make adjustments if necessary. That was so reasonable, I couldn't exactly refuse, now could I? But it's not that bad, AND, it means that by 7 AM, I've already exercised!! I'm off the hook for the rest of the day. Sure, I'll get more walking in, and I might stretch or something, but I've already gotten over the biggest hurdle. (We're not actually hurdling, though occasionally we are motivated enough to scurry up the hill by our house, just to get the climbing over as quickly as possible. Gina taught me that trick.)

We're off to Yosemite in a few weeks, and we're excited to imagine starting the trail to Vernal Falls at quarter to six. I bet we have the place to ourselves!

The visual equivalent for "onomatopoeia"

I went to church last Sunday with my mom. It's been awhile. Going to church is a lot more like staying at home and watching church on television than it used to be. There are power point presentations and music videos and the like. My favorite thing about church was a lady who signed a hymn, while the lyrics ran on a power point presentation behind her for those of us who don't understand sign language.

I assume that most of the words in sign language are rather "onomatopoeiac," or that they do have some visual representation of the word they represent. Whoever invented the sign for "hallelujah" did an excellent job. "Hallelujah" looks like a party! It starts off with a clap, and then there is a spiraling upwards gesture with both hands, and it ends with that now classic charasmatic christian gesture of the palms upturned to the heavens, as if to say "High Five God!"

So I ask you, is there a visual equivalent of onomatopeia? (Good band name "Visual Onomatopoeia." ) And of course, no converstaion about onomatopeia is complete, to my mind, without referencing the West Wing episode when Sam heads off some sort of crisis with the Russians, based on the fact that the Russian ambassador knew the meaning of the word onomatopoeia, but not the word "frumpy."

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Overly Enthusiastic, Perhaps

I was just leaving the Circulation Desk, and one of our staffers was just about to take over for me, when she said, casually, "Didn't I see you reading 'Ysabel?' I just finished reading it." Turns out Ysabel was her first GGKay novel. Well, you know how exciting that is, when someone's reading GGK for the first time. I was, perhaps, a shade overly enthusiastic in my response, given that this person doesn't really have any context for that which is Jenn, beyond a certain friendliness and a few circ desk shifts. There may have been just the slightest bit of squealing involved.

She had moved from Ysabel to Last Light of the Sun, and claimed to be enjoying it. I got into our catalog with her and talked about the pros and cons for various reading order scenarios. I was shocked and saddened to discover we own The Darkest Road, but not The Summer Tree or The Wandering Fire. I spent some time on my lunch hour making her a list, sorting them into varying intensities of fabulousness. The Tapestry listed as the penultimate work, Tigana and Lions and Ysabel as "Life Altering," Song for Arbonne as "Excellent" and the others as "The Other Stuff."

It's a bit of a puzzle, as I'm sure you see. Normally, with new Kay people, I suggest an Arbonne, followed by either Lions or Tigana. Then, assuming they won't be offended by fantasy, of course there is the Tapestry, and now I'd suggest one wait until after that for Ysabel. Then I leave it up to folks to try or skip Sailing to Serantium and Last Light, as they feel best. She's read Ysabel, but not the Tapestry. She's reading Last Light. Next, should I encourage her to treat herself to one of the tastiest morsels, or should she work her way from least amazing to most mind boggling, since she's on the path. She says she'd read them all, but I'd hate to lose her to the second book of Sarantium, you know?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My First Book Club Meeting

I mentioned this morning that I'd read one of the books for our book clubs, and ten minutes later, I was slated to lead a group of 5th graders through a conversation about "A Girl Named Disaster." How cool is that?

I hung out for the tail end of the 4th grade book club meeting, just to see how they go. Five nine year olds debating whether or not it's strictly necessary to read the author's note or the prologue of a book. Then they discussed movie adaptations of books they'd read recently. These kids have stuff to say. And they are amped on Teddy Grahams snacks that we handed out.

I was scheduled to have three kids for the 5th grade book club, but only one boy showed up. Technically, he's a fourth grader, but well, you know how it goes. You're all nerdy too. He'd also only read a third of the book, but man, was he ready to discuss. He had some complex analysis of this story, it was awesome. In case you're aren't familiar with "A Girl Named Disaster," it's the story of a 12 year old girl living in Mozambique who runs away to avoid marrying the evil guy her family has set her up with. Well, that's the one sentence version of the story. It also, as the fifth grader just reminded me, has a very rich mythological side to it. He compared and contrasted the acceptance of witches in this book and in "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," (Better to be a witch, or possessed by a witch, in Mozambique than in colonial America. You don't get burned or hung, only married off to the evil guy. For your reference.) He commented on how having native words in a story adds to the depth. He speculated on what would happen in the parts he hadn't read. And when I handed him the book that the group is reading next month, he said, I kid you not, "Cool! I like to read books with virtual reality in them." Hm, it occurs to me now that most books do, but the book in question has, you know, actual virtual reality in it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Terrible horrible no good very bad reference desk shift

Even in Australia.

I've been on the adult ref desk for three hours now, and usually, at this desk, boredom is my biggest foe. Tonight, that was not to be the case. As soon as I sat down our "red alert" patron came in, the one who's made us get the Police Department on speed-dial. He was no trouble. In fact, the first two hours were cake. In the last hour, I've been swamped by very kind patrons with really absurdly difficult requests. One lady came in and handed me a copy of her credit card bill. Or rather "Father's" credit card bill. Father stumbled in behind her, an ancient priest. "Father," who, I came to learn, has no trouble putting together a TV set, but perhaps was best not left alone with the Internets, had $850 on his card to a travel agency in Michigan. Could I find all the travel agencies in this particular town in Michigan? Sure. Well, at first glance, there are 451 of them. I tried to explain to the nice woman who wanted to help a very old priest that perhaps trying to phone each of the 451 travel agencies might not be a good strategy. I tried to explain that if he'd made a reservation online, it would be hard to pinpoint the the right person to call. I really, really tried to get her to work with the credit card company. "Father" kept trying to help, wondering where the city was.

Meanwhile, another patron was wondering how best to search back issues of tabloids for articles about Bigfoot. No, really, I'm serious. She seemed an adept web searcher, was familiar with searching the archives of other periodicals, but couldn't seem to grasp why the National Enquirer might not keep meticulous, easily searchable records. Then I dropped a huge book on my toe, and you know, I couldn't do any of the yelling that is normally required to dull the pain of injured toes.

And, just for giggles, I just helped a very sweet older gentleman track down the address and phone number of a super-Christian Pro-Life organization. Since chanting to myself "Libraries disseminate information!" didn't make me feel less guilty, I'm trying to convince myself that maybe he's going to write them a well reasoned letter about why women should be allowed to make their own decisions about their bodies. The sweet older gentlemen didn't have quite the right name for the organization he was looking for, but gosh darnit, I was still able to find them. "You're like a detective!" he said, shaking my hand. "That's what librarians are," I said grimly. "I'm going to put you on my list of good people," he said. It doesn't feel like I'm on that list.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

REAL Hobbits

I'm checking in magazines again, and in the midst of fishing out one of those cards Jim mentions below (in passing, they kind of remind me of the streamers Riverside uses to sort their Tricor, useless, ever-present, and wasteful) and the following headline catches my eye. Oh, I should mention, I'm checking in the issue of "Science" which is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Here's the title of the article:

"Hobbit's Status as a New Species Get a Hand Up." (here's a link, if you happen to have access to Science online.)

Apparently, something about the wrist bones of a being that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago indicate that he is a whole new species. Well, paleoanthropologists are debating that. But you know, you throw the word "hobbit" in, and I'm on board. The pro-hobbit contingent says H. floresiensis is definitely different than H. antecessor or H. habilis, and not just one of those others with a small head. They've included an illustration which would look a little out of place at the Green Dragon, but still. Very cool.

Friday, April 6, 2007


One of my regular responsibilities here at the library is checking in the new periodicals. So, it's Friday afternoon, I'm finishing the stack before the weekend. I pick up "Vanity Fair" and notice it's their 2nd Annual Green Issue.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

"This American Life" on TV

Have you guys seen it yet? I caught my first episode last week. I'd recommend it. It's everything you love about TAL, but with pictures. It's almost exactly what you expect....slow and a little funky, with imagery that holds up to the storytelling. Check it out.

I just walked around to all the computers people use to look at the catalog, and refilled the boxes with little golf sized pencils for jotting down call numbers. I think that has to be the most librarianish thing I've ever done.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Cool things I think you should try

I went to this librarian symposia a few weeks ago, you may recall. The general theme was about how libraries have to be cool enough to draw in patrons, who have the choice to go to bookstores or stay home with the internet. The speaker pointed out several sites we might be interested in. Now, I'd heard of these things, I used to work at a university, and I live in a sort of technically minded area, but I hadn't really explored them. But if you like books, and if you like sorting things into categories and labelling them (and I really do!) check out the following sites.
  • Library Elf -- Good for library users. If your local library is on the list (and quite a few of them are) you can give them your library card number and your pin, and Library Elf will send you emails when your books are due or when you have something to pick up. You can customize the alerts so they come at a specified time (I get mine 3 days before they are due) to whatever device you like (mine go to my email, but if I were more of a geek I could get them on my phone.) AND, here's the part I really love, if you use multiple libraries (I use about three different library systems) you get all of the info in one spot. You can see a calendar that tells you what's due each day. It's fantastic, and heck, it's FREE! (I want to start pointing patrons to this service at my library, so if you all would help me test it, I'd be obliged.) PLEASE NOTE: be sure to read the FAQ about privacy. You are giving out your library card number and your PIN to use this service. If the thought of that makes you queasy, this probably isn't the service for you.
  • Library Thing -- I've looked at every site like Library Thing that I could find, as part of my quest to put my reading list on my blog. (See right.) After extensive comparisons, I declare Library Thing the winner. So here's what you do. You set up an account (it's free for the first 200 books) and then you enter the books you have in your collection (or the books you're reading, or whatever books you want to play with.) Then you can sort them all sorts of ways, you can tag them however you like "kids," "jenn owns," "books I've been meaning to read," whatever. That's cool in and of itself. But then, you can see who else is reading what you've read, and what else they are reading. You can join chatrooms (I follow "Librarians Who Library Thing" and one called "The Green Dragon" pretty regularly. There are groups for EVERYTHING. Library Thing gives you a zillion stats, a zillion different ways. You can spend a lot of time thinking about things to read on this site. Lots of fun.
  • -- Have you tried this site already? It's not new, but it's new to me, and whoo! is it fun. On one level, it's like putting your "bookmark" list from your web browser on the web, so you can get to it from any computer. (I move between about five different computers in a day, so that alone is cool for me.) Then you can sort them and tag them however you like. Then, this is where you can lose a lot of time, you can see who else has saved the page you've saved, and what else they have tagged. So, say you've saved "Girl Hacker's Random Web Log" (which I have -- you have to say that in your head as though it followed the words "unless the enemy has a-studied his Aggripa - one g, to p's? Jim?) I see that one other enlightened individual has done the same. Then I can see what other interesting things like Girl Hacker "dunc" has tagged. The number of sites I've found this way is staggering.
  • xkcd -- (The next two are not sites that I learned about at the library symposium, I just think they are cool. )Okay there's nothing to do at this site but giggle. Nathan got me on to this one. The tagline is "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." What's not to love. Here's a taste.
  • Picasa -- If you need something to organize your digital photos, you know, for free, check out Picasa. I'm biased, of course, I love a good Google product. This one is intuitive and snazzy. You can make web albums now, so sharing your photos with people like me will be a breeze.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Welcome Back

Come in, sit down, can I get you a beverage? I'm sorry to keep jumping around, in the blog-world. I just want a blog service that does everything I want it to do, while at the same time looking pretty. I said to Nathan, "You know, Google should really make a blog product. I like Google stuff. Could you get on that for me?" His response, "It's Blogger. The place you left." Ah. Awkward. Well, with some tweaking, I've made this place fairly comfortable. I've moved the old posts, the furniture if you will. I think most of you have set up accounts already, since you've visited me in this land in the past.

Anyway, thanks for coming over.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Land of No Birthdays

I think I do my best thinking while I dry my hair in the morning. Which, given that I spend less than five minutes a day drying my hair, could be seen as unfortunate. But there you are.

This morning, I realized I’d been at this job for four months (minus one day.) And in that time, we’ve never eaten cake, signed a card, or even said “Happy Birthday” to anyone who works here. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been inconvenienced more than once by a work birthday of a coworker I didn’t like all that much. I’m not advocating birthday extravaganzas. But it’s just not possible that of the 30-40 people who work here in various capacities none of them has a birthday between November and March, right? That means it’s something of an office policy to make no mention of one’s birthday. Isn’t that a little odd?

~ by meteowrite on March 21, 2007.

2 Responses to “The Land of No Birthdays”

  1. Jenn! That is sad. Sure, b-day responsibilities could get out of hand and all, but still, cake is cake. You may have to take the lead here m’chara, get them going. Then maybe you could call my place of employ… ;-) Hmmm, cake…..

  2. At the late, unlamented State Lands Commission we worked it a little differently. You brought cake (or whatever-I usually opted for Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake) on your own birthday. That way no one else was responsible for remembering when everyone’s natal date happened to be. Start up a tradition…..