Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stuff I Learned and Revisited This Year

I don't make resolutions. Hate 'em. Sets you up for failure for the next year. What I do like to do is look back at the year and see just what I've learned and where life's journey has taken me so far. So here's my stuff, in no particular order.

When you lose a member of your work family, to death or to retirement, it is almost as large a loss as the loss of a family member. Except for those retiring in a huff. Those you tend not to miss so much.

If you suspect you need septalplasty to breathe, turn heaven and earth to get it

Prednisone really does give you weight gain. And it really does suck.

Old losses and grief come back and bite you in the butt if you don't get all the way through them in a timely manner.

Physical therapists are a gift from ceiling-cat. Just learning to move again, feeling your muscles work the right way, learning to retrain your body, is worth any effort you make to get the referral. If you have aches, push for it.

An attitude of gratitude brings more joy to your life than you can imagine.

When you walk with your head up you see more of the world. And the world can see more of the glory that is you.

The stars are there for those who only remember to look up.

The awe I feel at having the first multiracial president is a blessing indeed. The interest and even excitement lifts my spirit.

My mom is a tough cookie.

lolcats still rule.

A snark shared is a snark truly enjoyed.

I can sing with 3.5 octaves almost as well as I could when I had 5.

I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Big Snark-Off: Hand on the Plow Edition


In trying times it truly is good to keep one's hand on the plow and eyes on the prize. Otherwise one could become hopelessly distracted by the sheer lunacy surrounding a person.




Idjit #1

The $54 million pants suit unravels again


"A court Thursday rejected an appeal filed by a former administrative law judge who sued a dry cleaners for $54 million over a missing pair of pants...Pearson, who represented himself, said that when he took the pants to the cleaners, his financial situation was precarious: He had just been ordered to pay $12,000 in attorney's fees to his ex-wife, and his credit cards were at their limit...Pearson may request that the appeal be heard again by the entire panel of D.C. Court of Appeals judges"

OK, I think I see what has gone on here. Mr. Pearson appeared to be found an asshole in divorce court so, rather than be taken to the cleaners, he tried to pick the cleaner's pockets. Some might call it poetic justice. I just call it being an idjit.


Idjit #2

Report Criticizes Record Of Sheriff-Turned-TV Star via NPR Topics: Arts & Entertainment on 12/25/08
"In Fox's new reality show, Smile, You're Under Arrest, "America's toughest sheriff" dishes out the heat. But in reality, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department in Maricopa County, Ariz., is coming under fire."
(And not a moment too soon)


D'OH! Department
Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds via PewForum.org All News Feeds on 12/28/08



And Just What the Heck Profession Did You Think You Were Joining?

New health regulation permits `conscience' exceptions via PewForum.org All News Feeds on 12/17/08
...hmmm...like, if I don't think a person should vote, say, Republican, I should withhold all information about republicanism from the service I give at the library? Or, gosh, say I'm a doctor and a bigot, does this mean I can now get away with not treating those I hold prejudice against? Honest-to-ceiling-cat, doesn't anybody want to do what they said they would do anymore?


...dizzy...must...lie down...now...

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Favorite Reads 2008


As my reader knows, I read one heck of a lot of Romance novels. Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels, to be exact. I never apologize for my reading tastes and I don't want anyone else to ever apologize for theirs, either.

The appeal to me of these novels is the adrenaline rush of both the action and the emotions of the characters. Me, an adrenaline junkie. Who knew?

But wait! I've also included a few non-fiction and not-romance fiction titles to whet your appetite. A couple, Charlatan and Little Heathens, were actually given the "good literature" sign of approval by the all-important Listmakers Who Know What's Good For You.

So here they are, in no particular order. Click on the book to find out more about it.





















Pagan Stone

The Pagan Stone (Sign of Seven trilogy #3) The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
A satisfying end to the series. The couples are united. The curse is lifted. Everyone is happy. The emotional connection between the hero and heroine and, indeed, all of "Team Human," is satisfying in a very cozy way.



Roberts' trilogies are starting to lack spark. I enjoyed this series, make no mistake. There's just something...off. Perhaps nothing will compare to the Ardmore series. Perhaps the bar was set so high in that series that others pale in comparison.



Not that I can ever imagine missing anything from "The Nora." Oh no. Her characters are engaging. Their banter is believable and delightful. Her plots contain some interesting twists and turns. The connections seem real.



Overall, satisfying. I just want more!


View all my reviews.

Cold As Ice

Cold As Ice (Ice Series, Book #2) Cold As Ice by Anne Stuart


My review


rating: 1 of 5 stars
I'm finding Anne Stuart problematic. One of the characteristics of romance is an emotional connection between the main characters. The storyline follows the development of that emotional connection along with, hopefully, a ripping good plot.



Stuart has the plot. Some good twists and turns. What I can't buy into is a true emotional connection between the ice-blooded hero and the loyal-to-a-fault heroine.



I read this book because the next book, Ice Blue, won the 2008 Romantic Suspense award from Romantic Times (?). I will go on to Ice Blue but if it doesn't grab me any better I'll be putting Stuart on the back-burner.


View all my reviews.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good Friday

I friend of mine does a good news friday each week. I think it's a good idea. I'll try each week. I really will. My snarky sense of humor could derail me, but let's give it a whirl.


For inauguration prayer, Obama splits ticket via PewForum.org All News Feeds on 12/17/08
Good. More of the message of unity and understanding. While I'm gonna squirm at the invocation, I'll feel much, much better about the benediction. We are a diverse country. I think it's good to celebrate that.

A bit of fun from the National Library of Australia. Whatta Thriller!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Crazy Sweet

Crazy Sweet (Steele Street #6) Crazy Sweet by Tara Janzen


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Still love that rough and tough Steele Street team. Nothing will stop me from enjoying this gloriously unrealistic series.



This book was a little less fun than the previous in the series for a number of reasons. First, the sex scene between two characters was kinky to the point of gratuitousness. This is because of the lack of emotional availability of one of the participants. The participant is willing but emotionally...nothing. Sensation only. When a character has that flaw an emotionally satisfying relationship is impossible.



Second, this is most likely a transitional book as Janzen moves from Steele Street to the Loose series. Transitional books can be difficult.



Third, unlike previous books in the series, this book goes back and forth between two romances. Red Dog and Travis began their romance in a previous book and it remains both strong and oddly ambiguous. Honey and Smith's romance looks to be only beginning. I'll be interested in seeing if it is explored in later books.



Finally, it is sadly time to say goodbye to 738 Steele Street. While I have enjoyed seeing how many lofts and cars and tech and arms can be located here, this location has, sadly reached the point of no return with probability. Further, the detailed descriptions of the cars and fantasy lofts was lacking in this book, causing a real hole in the series.



Do I still adore the series? Absolutely! This book was just a little weak.


View all my reviews.

Things That Make the Day Go Faster


3 squad cars in the parking lot after lunch. This is the traditional preparation for the teen riot caused by all schools dismissing after a half day. Which begs the question, is it really the free internet access that brings them or are the kids undercover library nerds?

Traditional wrapping of supervisor in Christmas lights
(Note: Photo is not of actual supervisor in question. Said supervisor shall remain nameless)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Library Classics


A slow day today. Took the opportunity to weed linguistics: 400-429. Not surprisingly for a public library, this section is small and mostly contains dictionaries, thesauri, and study guides.

Sprinkled among these library mainstays are various tomes on etymology, homophones, and slang. Reviewing the slang dictionaries reminded me of a couple of things from library school in 1987. One, the English language is considered by many to be the most rapidly-changing language in the world. This is evidenced by the number of slang dictionaries in the collection. Two, slang is the fastest-changing thing in a rapidly changing language.

So, when one purchases a slang dictionary for one's library collection, one should be prepared to toss it within a very short time period. It used to be every 10 years or so. Now I'm thinking every 2 years. "dot.com" was in a 1997 dictionary but "texting?" not a chance.

Now to find something that gives a historical overview of slang from 1980-1999 to replace what I had to remove today.

********************************
Continuing in the classic vein of the day, my evening has been bracketed by two classic events in a library's day. Around 7 pm a customer guaranteed me that my inability to meet his somewhat unrealistic expectations would result in the loss of my job. I'll look forward to hearing about the prospects for my future tomorrow. At 8:15 a madcap student of something unleashed a stinkbomb in the Great Reading Room.


Library customers, wherever you are, know that I appreciate your love of the classics. I can handle the classics. I relish the measured twirl and slide as we go through the prescribed steps in this dance. Going through these familiar moves is a pleasurable and conscious meditation. It brings new life to a tired mind and a twinkle to my eye.

Keep 'em coming. Contrary to popular belief, I'll be at the dance for a long time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Big Snark-Off: Crabby Edition



The Arts

Honest to ceiling-cat, can't somebody come up with a lively original broadway musical anymore? Was that a snark or a whine?: 'Shrek' Leads DreamWorks Into Broadway Battle via NPR Topics: Arts & Entertainment on 12/13/08

Oh no you don't, people. I am NOT missing Lost and 24. I mean it. Don't even think about it. Actors Union Sets January Strike Vote via NPR Topics: Arts & Entertainment on 12/11/08

Religion





Saturday, December 13, 2008

Circle K, Pets, and Service.

Circle K, funerals, and church appear to be some of the last bastions of politeness. Yes, that's the big convenience store of the west, the place where you can dash in, get your case of beer and dash out. The home of cigarettes in a hurry. Gallons of soft drinks in a single handy cup. Twinkies.


An odd thing happens when people go in and out those doors. They hold them open for one another. Why is that? Why do people in today's me me me, rush rush rush society pause for that moment of civility?


It's a refreshing moment of manners when you experience it. You all take a moment and feel gratitude for it once in a while and you'll find yourself just a little bit lighter for the day.


********************

Nothing like a little kid to give you a chance for a spot of unique service in the adult section. As any parent or librarian knows, 10 minutes is an eternity to a child. 20 minutes is death by boredom.


When the stream of customers at the reference desk slows for a microsecond, nothing is better to avoid this death like books with puppies and kitties in them. Thank goodness they have great pictures.


********************

In my library career, I've always maintained that my work may not necessarily make my customer a bit person. I do know it has made me a better person.


Here's a link that, while aimed at retail, is also heartening for those of us in public service:
Holiday Retail Workers Need Love, Too via Etiquette Hell Blog by admin on 12/11/08


"In a seven or eight hour shift, I deal with countless people. I have to be nice to them, whether they are nice or not. I have to make them feel welcome and loved without being creepy or obtrusive about it. I have to find every single piece of nonsense they ask for, even if I assure them we don’t have it.

(snip)
Here’s the thing. Being a retail employee has made me an exemplary customer. I smile back. I don’t get in the way of their script. I try to give exact change and I always clean up after myself. And if I notice a cashier looking a little haggard, I pray for ’em really quickly."


**************************************

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big Theme, Big Building, Big Fun

For asthma sufferers, this time of year is just a joy. Hot cold hot cold, wheeze wheeze wheeze. And so my day began. With the able assistance of my two cats, I somehow made it out the door to arrive at work in time for my 12-9 shift at the 'ol biblioteca.

On the way in, I listened to an interview: Before Sarah Palin, There Was Michael Palin, where they discussed the song "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's "Life of Brian." This turned out to be a good thing. In fact, I decided that this would be the Big Theme here in the Big Building today.

Like me, the economy is gasping. When you work for the city you live and die by the revenue that supports you. You know that when you sign on for the gig. 18 months ago, things were rosy, rosy, rosy. Hire staff! Plan programs! Be Vital! Spend that book budget and spend it hard.

A year ago a veil of unease drifted down. Hiring was suddenly frozen. What book budget we had left at the time was soon cut off. Subscriptions were cancelled. Programs curtailed. The veil was starting to look a bit like smog.

Today. No hiring. All programs cancelled. A minuscule book budget which is being cut yet again. It looks very likely that daily open hours will be reduced to 8. There are rumors of one-day-a-week closure. 20% of the library workforce is on the chopping block.

During economic downturns, the public turns to the library for a little distraction ( NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - Libraries Offer Free Relief in Tough Times). In times when staffing, budget, and facility maintenance are cut, circulation and the need for more staff and well-maintained facilities increases.

And yet we carry on. That's the remarkable thing about public library staff. We know the score but, more importantly, we have grit. For many of us, this type of public service is more than a job, better than a career. It is a calling. A call to serve. A call to strengthen our democracy by keeping information free. A call to inquiry on any subject. A call to honorable and ethical action in the best interest of the community.

With such understanding, our staff remains tough as we soldier on. It's not that we don't feel discouragement. It's not that there isn't real fear for our coworkers. It's not that our coworkers are not scared. It's not that we have somehow found a remarkable miracle cure for the tension we feel in our work, our homes, and our nation.

It's purpose. Having a purpose makes you resilient. And with resiliency comes the ability to take a moment to have a laugh. To celebrate the silly. To enjoy a little dark humor. And enjoy a Big Theme Night in the face of Big Layoffs in the future. And to sing:





Bits of Fun

Sometimes I hit some fun in the 'ol newsfeed. Oh please, let me share.

The romantic suspense novel plot generator: Need a plot real quick? via Smart Bitches, Trashy Books on 12/11/08

Herding Cats! Herding Cats and Libraries via Stephen's Lighthouse by stephen on 12/11/08

Mantitty, etc.: The Perfect Man via Beyond Her Book on 12/9/08

Apparently effective pickup line: The Insulting Librarian - Mitchell & Webb
via Library Stuff by Steven on 12/7/08

Monday, December 08, 2008

Boredom, Interrupted


We all experience boredom. The most deadly boredom is "Mom, I'm Bored" boredom. This causes parental insanity and may result in injury or death to the bored child.

We tend to think of boredom as a never-ending pall of grey stretching on for eternity. Apparently, this is not so. A quick scan of my library's catalog has revealed that there are all different kinds of boredom. Some types of boredom are: Work Boredom, Cubicle Boredom, Career Boredom (see also: burn-out), Spiritual Boredom (see also: Hell), Boring Tasks, Boring Meetings, Bored Pets, and, apparently African Wood Bores.

A nice thing about being a librarian is that most types of boredom can be cured by making a bibliography of items that discuss, probe, entertain, explain, or cure anything. So, I give you my latest booklist:

Boredom Interpreted

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Big Snark-Off

Titles
OK, let's just get this part over with. Strange title du jour: Salmonella Men on Planet Porno: Stories by Yasutaka Tsutsui. I have not read the book. Booklist (11/15/2008, p. 23) calls it funny-scary. I dunno. The title, though, you have to dig the title.

My Brain
Writing On The Walls Of The Nation's Library
And what does it say about me that my first thought was about the walls of toilet stalls?

Or that I first read this title as Secret Society of Superorgasms? The Secret Society Of Superorganisms via NPR Topics: Authors on 11/28/08

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Big Snark-Off: Photo Edition!

Great shots to take shots at this week. What delicious fun!




A real turkey who really does not need a hat: For Your Consideration from What Not to Crochet by SB&C:


And, from the over-enthusiastic Aussie Department: Obama Sauce in Fast Food Stand, Melbourne, Australia from Free Range Librarian by K.G. Schneider (Gluten Free no less!) Crikey!