Thursday, April 30, 2009

full disclosure

yesterday did not end in the great manner in which it began since I went out with friends last night and the rich food is paying me back this morning.  

However, I am starting right back up again and have begun my day with some Kashi (no HFCS!), soy milk, and V8!  Didn't pedal on the bike as I overslept and now don't have time but I will walk today at work and I might ride the bike when I get home tonight.  We'll see.

Everyone have a great day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a good day!

I started the day with 30 minutes on my recumbent bike followed by a slice of HFCS free toast with natural PB and a glass of soymilk!  I just weighed in with our score keeper and have lost 8 pounds since my last weighin 2 weeks ago!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fire Girl by Tony Abbott

At work, our fearless leader (Hi KT!) has asked that each of us read a young adult title in preparation for the summer festivities here at the library.  We are meeting to discuss what we've read at the next department meeting in May.  So, I've got a couple of things I'm working on but Tony Abbott's Fire Girl is the first thing I've finished.

Tom Bender is enjoying a normal day in seventh grade (daydreaming about cars and how many different ways he can save the cutest girl in class if some unforseen disaster know, like you do) when the teacher suddenly announces that a new girl will be joining the class.  The teacher seems nervous and pale and it is soon clear why.  Jessica was horrifically disfigured in a fire and is attending their school so that she can receive treatment for her condition at a nearby hospital.  Since they are seated alphabetically, Jessica ends up sitting right next to him and Tom's life feels like it will never be the same.  He has to make some tough decisions about what is most important to him and where his friends rank in the grand scheme of things.

So, I'll get the negative stuff out of the way up front.  This is not new territory.  There have been a plethera of books circling the issue of how kids treat kids who look different.  Also, I don't think I have ever seen a seventh grade boy as sensitive and capable of maturity as Tom.  I wish there were more of them.

Negative stuff aside, I loved this little book!  The narrator is a male but I think the majority of boys Tom's age might not have as easy a time with the emotional aspects of the story as the girls.  What I thought was the best part of this story was seeing an age group that normally suffers from an excess of invulnerability have to confront the specter of death, injury, mortality..that sort of thing.  I guess I really identified with it since I had to confront the same thing at that age and even I noticed a marked difference between my attitude and the attitudes of my more oblivious friends about many things.

Amazon has this ranked for grades 5-7 but sensitive kids may be frightened by Tom's imagings of and the eventual revealment of what happened to Jessica.  Even I found it more than a bit disturbing.  I listened to this in the car and the narrator was great!

an awesome start!

to what I plan to be another healthy day!  I pedaled on my recumbant bike for 30 minutes and am about to go for a walk with KT!   I had cheese toast (with the great new HFCS free bread I found!) and soy milk for breakfast and just snacked on a clementine for some energy for our walk!

I will make you endure another checkin later!

Monday, April 27, 2009

oh yeah!

almost forgot!

According to my spiffy new pedometer, I walked 11,889 steps today!

losing myself

...and it's a good thing!

So, we are doing a semi-formal biggest loser program at work.  $5 buy in for each participant (the sum of which will be awarded to the winner at the end of the 12 week program) and $1 per weighin (awarded to each week's biggest loser by % of body weight), plus the prime parking spot by the dumpster.  I know, I know...

I haven't won anything yet except for some additional respect for myself and you know what?  I'll take it.  

I have exercised at least 30 minutes each day almost every day since March 18th.  That is not when we started the program but it is when I had a firm talk with the ol' self and said things had to change and change immediately.

I already rarely eat red meat.  I am not interested in following a vegetarian diet so I do eat alot of turkey, chicken and fish.  

I have recently become quite studious in avoiding high fructose corn syrup.  I watched a documentary called King Corn and that was all she wrote.  I haven't been able to avoid it altogether, but I'm always looking for a new product to replace the HFCS one!  I have moved away from artificial sweeteners to organic natural sugar and am looking to try some agave syrup if I can find it.  The only thing I ever sweeten is my one cup of coffee in the morning so I don't feel like I'm going overboard with cutting out the artificial stuff.  

Water, water everywhere..and I drink it.   Lots of it.  I eat 6-9 servings of fruits and veggies everyday, most of them raw or lightly steamed.  

I hope that the way I am living now will shortly be reflected in how I look.  I know there are people everyday who look at me and think there is nothing in my lunchbox but a coupon for McDonalds and a twinkie (as if!  LoAdEd with HFCS) but I'd like to stack my pantry against theirs and I bet I would win the Gold Star of Healthy Eating a good bit of the time.  

I've lost significant amounts of weight before (most recently, 180 lbs about 5 years ago) and failed to keep it off, but something feels different this time and I truly hope it is not just a phase.  I want to do different, feel different, and be different.  KT and E are participating in the program at work too and I believe we will all benefit from the experience whatever number pops up on the scale!  

I bought a pedometer yesterday so I will post a total when I get home for the day!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lowcountry Hurricanes by Walter J. Fraser Jr.

The bookgroup that I lead at work is a genre group rather than the traditional type.  The traditional book group picks one book (usually per month) and everyone discusses that book.  In my group we pick a genre or topic for each month and everyone gets to pick their own book to read as long as it falls within that topic.  This month's topic was southern history nonfiction and I chose this little gem about how hurricanes have affected the history of coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

Man oh man, let me tell you that it is a wonder anyone ever stayed there OR made any money.  The discussion got a bit repetitive, but then that very repetitiveness got in my head and morphed into something more along the lines of obsession.  The first time anyone thought to jot down a few lines about a hurricane in this area came in September of 1686.  Around this time coastal Georgia and South Carolina was basically a sparsely populated, unexplored subtropical wilderness.  Anyone crazy enough to venture there faced all the similar sorts of critter-driven diseases and dangers you might imagine in the Amazon jungle.  Then along comes a hurricane to drown you, your family, your animals, your crops, your home and your boat.  Multiply this times 80 billion and you have what went on in this area for the next 300 years.  

Hurricanes, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and floods frightened and bedeviled that Spanish while they where cruising around trying to get their foot in the door and later the same thing happened to the British during the Revolutionary War and then the Union boats during the Civil War.  Rice was the king crop, with this area producing 98% of the region's rice and over 30% of the nation's supply.  Unfortunately, about every 2 years a hurricane would blow ashore and drowned everything.  Half-sunken ships dotted the coast and, what I thought was creepiest, abandoned ships floated around until they beached, were scuttled, or were bashed to pieces on the breakers.  Basically, from August to November it was a constant stream of dead bodies and ship debris washing up on all the beaches.  

These people's livelihoods and homes were being completely wiped out every other year and they kept coming back.  They would stay in their homes until either the house was lifted off its foundation by the storm surge and carried out to sea or until the water was up to their necks and they would make their way out to the yard and lash themselves to a tree for the duration of the storm.  Can you imagine? 

This was 250 pages of mayhem (oh yeah, that's why I loved it so much) and we are all crazy for being southern and loving it.  I remember maybe 3 or 4 hurricanes that have made it to where I live (Opal, Katrina, Dennis..maybe one other I can't recall right now) and I thought it was bad ass when it got here.  I can not even begin to imagine what that crap is like when it first comes ashore.  People of old, you have my repect.  People of now, listen to the weatherman and get OUT!

As I said before, it does get a bit repetitive as you read about the storm coming ashore, people drowning, crops being decimated, tide receeding, town rebuilt but bigger this time.  Rinse, and repeat.  But they kept coming, kept advertising on behalf of their towns to attract new residents, kept planting, kept on, kept on, kept on.  A good lesson for us all.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

So, most everyone who knows me (and also if you've been reading this blog for long *wishful thinking*) knows that I lurve distopian/postapocalyptic fiction and movies.  I don't know why and I'm kinda dicey on what that says about me as a person but there it is all the same.  

So, on to Genesis.  This is a novella really, short and not so sweet.  Look back, if you will, on how much I thought Moody's Hater rocked HaRd!  Now, this little book is much more philosophical in nature, helped along by the fact that is sort of actually about philosophers.

Anaximander is a candidate for The Academy, the driving force and underlying strength of the Republic which arose from devastating worldwide plagues, wars, runaway global warming and assorted other nasty bits late in the twenty-first century.  She must endure a harrowing entrance examination that reminded me of a doctoral candidate defending his/her thesis.  I've never actually seen or experienced that so again, this comparison is only in my mind's eye...which also has a slightly sinister connotation after reading this book :-)

Anix has chosen as her subject her long-dead hero, the controversial revolutionary icon Adam Forde.  She must show that her knowledge of his life and motivations is exemplary and she has five hours to do so.  Never has five hours made my brain work so hard.  I did listen to this book and I am dying to get a monograph copy so I can ponder more closely the things that made my brain itch to think about them.   ....maybe I too have been infected.

If you like to ponder the human condition, the very definition of humanity, what are its prerequisites, what constitutes it, whether anybody really has any of it, and more of that sort of internal soul searching, find yourself a copy of Beckett's Genesis and prepare to think really hard.  Maybe you'll be better at it than me,  many people are, but I'm pondering again and again some of the ideas I read.  For me, definitely worth a re-read.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

prepare to be AmAzEd!

Behold!  The World Digital Library!  

From the Washington Post

A globe-spanning U.N. digital library seeking to display and explain the wealth of all human cultures has gone into operation on the Internet, serving up mankind's accumulated knowledge in seven languages 

for students around the world.

James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress who launched the project four years

 ago, said the ambition was to make available on an easy-to-navigate site, free for scholars and other curious people anywhere, a collection of primary documents and authoritative explanations from the planet's leading libraries.

It's official, James Billington is now my favorite librarian in the world...right behind Nancy Pearl of course.  Billington will only surpass her when he gets his own action figure.

happy birthday to the Bard!

I can hardly believe I let this almost get by me...there is just entirely too much show here at work today.  Computer class nearly did me in.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Blood and Ice by Robert Masello

I picked up this book because I was judging it by its cover (which I liked) AND by its description (which I REALLY liked).

The story begins in the 1850's with Lt. Sinclair Copley nursing his ailing lover, Eleanor, while aboard a ship in icy seas.  Unfortunately, there is something strange going on with the two that the crew finds disturbing and they are chained together before being tossed into the sea.   

In the present day, Michael Wilde is deep in the throes of personal tragedy when his editor at Ecotravel Magazine offers him an assignment at a remote research base in Antarctica.  While accompanying another scientist on a dive for exotic cold water fish, he finds something, something nearly impossible to believe, frozen in an iceberg at the bottom of the Antarctic sea.  Naturally, they bring it to the surface so it can be thawed for study.  

I didn't think that was such a hot idea but hey, they didn't ask me.  So this book was a little slow to get started.  It wasn't excrutiating in any way and I stayed interested but, boy howdie, when you hit midway through, the action rarely stops.  I was listening to it (and if you decide to also, that point is CD #7!) and I actually got home 2 nights in a row and was too scared to immediately get out of my car despite the fact that spring time in Alabama in no way resembles the South Pole. 

Just the image of being in that darkened room with seawater seeping under the door and a ragged voice saying, "Give. It. Baaaack.", was enough to have me getting my purse on my shoulder and my keys out.  I didn't really look far enough ahead to think that the dark house would be scarier than the lighted porch, but that was my problem.

I thought the ending was a bit abrupt BUT, I give Masello credit for not making it the dramatic spectacle I expected.  I like being surprised and don't really mind being left hanging since maybe that means he will continue the story in another book...hopefully?....maybe?  (here's hoping Robert Masello has a Google Alert on his name and book and cares to comment)

We have another book of his, Bestiary, here at the library so I'm going to check it out too!

Monday, April 13, 2009

renfield's eatin' the spiders again...

this time, she was desperately in search of a local Tax Day Tea Party venue phone number.  when I could not find a phone number listed for the Birmingham venue (only an email):

"Well, as I do not have a computer, what do I do now?  Can you radio them for me?  I have a short hand radio."

I acted like I didn't hear that and just recited the AL venues that did list phone numbers.  Then she wanted north Georgia.  Yay for them.  While we were doing this, she forgot her other question (very common) and said she would call back when she remembered (unfortunately, also very common). 

Oh happy day.  I admit freely that I gave her those numbers with glee.  If anyone deserves a call from Renfield, it's them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

too funny

I deal with this scenario in some form or fashion every. single. day.

Most memorable of the recent comments was "this library is going to hell in a handbasket with a concert (spit out like cobra venom) going on down stairs!"  ML was having the monthly Game On tournament in the meeting room and the teens were playing Rock Band 2 on Wii.  

To call it a concert was stretching the truth to the breaking point really...some kid was mangling death metal, I don't remember what the song was now.  The patron went on to say that stuff like that didn't go on when he was that age in the library.  I hope I remember correctly that KT told him we didn't have a Wii then either.  I might just be remembering that in my own head.  He snarked at me too and I just smiled and said, "Yes, Game On is one of our most popular and well attended programs"  or something to that effect anyway.  

Sheesh, go to an academic library if you want silence cuz' ya ain't gettin' here mister!  Tune in people, I don't have a bun on my head, no tweed in my closet, my sensible shoes more often than not come with a Nike swoosh, and the public library is not quiet anymore (not many of them anyway).  Deal.

For more Unshelved funniness, visit their website!

up, up, and away!

if you celebrate Easter and have family coming in for the holiday, don't forget that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Make sure your home is ready for the Spring festivities AND for the guests!  Try this:

and the description of course:
Windowless corner of living room is ingeniously (emphasis is mine) transformed into a gracious setting for dining.  This has been accomplished both by the installation of fretwork frame which defines the area and creates illusion of intimacy, as well as the charming view - a hand-painted mural.  While the furniture, for the most part, is formal French reproductions and antiques, a change of pace is provided by the country-style armoire, unmistakeably modern area carpet, and contemporary color scheme.

hell yeah!  sign me up for a hot air balloon mural at my house!  ...and that contemporary color scheme!  who knew that was synonymous with the word "blue"?  

In all seriousness, I actually do like the rug.  Anyway, in a tremendous waste of a daydream, this room looked to me like what the inside of an Easter egg would look like if genies were trapped in them.  Sorry folks, that's the kind of crap I think of when I'm bored :-)  

Happy Easter to those observing and Happy Weekend to the rest!

Friday, April 10, 2009

blast from the past

welcome to 1992!

I was 15 that year and there wasn't much I liked better than going to demolition derbies with my dad (that's him in the pic with me and I've just noticed that he is sporting a very distinct mullet with that Terminator t-shirt...I shouldn't say anything since there's a monster truck on mine). 

Daddy did all the hard work like knocking the windows out, taking out the seats (except the driver's), putting the radiator and battery in the back, welding all the doors shut, securing the hood and trunk with powerpole wire, wiring a starter button to the gearshift lever so he didn't need a key, and *whispering* filling the tires with water so they wouldn't bust.  Shhhh, keep that under your hat. 

My job was to decorate so the numbering and stickers you see here are all my 15 yr old handiwork.  I also painted a wide red mouth on the front of the car and "Eat my shorts!" on the back (I loved The Simpsons at the time).  I don't remember what else I spraypainted on the car.  It was no doubt lovely whatever it may have been.  

This particular time, we won!  It was at Birmingham Internation Raceway (much like Bham Internation in name only) and Daddy mentioned just last month to me that they tore it down not too long ago.  Sad to think about as I was there quite a bit as a youngster.  

Anyway, Daddy won a good bit of money and he gave me $100 of it as his only official pitcrew member.  I did help change one tire...sort of.  I helped as best I could anyway.  The car still ran fine after this and he sold it right there on the track after the derby...double win!  We always got in the top 3 or 4 but this is the only time I remember winning.  

Good times, good times.  I still have the trophy I'm holding up in the photo.  It is on top of a bookshelf in my living room.

I was quite happy then.  My brother was still dead but my parents were still married, they were making more than a decent living, and I didn't have a care in the world really.  That is why I particularly love this photo.  It represents that last few years of what little childish happiness I had left.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy now but that happiness you have as a child seems more golden from a distance.  At least to me it does.   Anyway, you can tell it is getting late since I'm getting maudlin.  

evenin' ya'll!

Auburn adventures

D and I left at about 6:30 Wed morning and arrived at the hotel/conference center by 9am.  It was a lovely drive if unseasonable cool.  

I went to a session on basic legal research for the public librarian which was a bit over my head but I did jot down some free websites and the names of a couple of interesting resources I'm going to check on for my library's collection.  We went to a southern author luncheon but had to leave before hearing from them to get to a session on conflict managment.  It turned out to be really nothing I haven't heard before but it did me no harm to be reminded of a few things.  

D and I roamed around the exhibit hall, made nice with a few vendors, scarfed up some pens and notepads (like you do), then headed out for a session on respect and how to give it to and get it from teens in the library.  I don't know how successful the session was at that, but I liked the instructor's point of how librarians (and others in public service) are given to being solicitous of (most) children and respectful of (most) adults and elderly patrons but tend to shut down in the face of a teenager.  

It's true, I have seen it happen and I'm pretty proud to say that we have great relationships with most of the teens who use our library.   Not all, but most...and I'll take that.  I lose my patience occasionally, but I'm only human.  

The instructor mentioned a librarian joke she'd heard (and I don't recall the source or the exact wording) that, like dog breeds, there is a "Working Group" among librarians.  They are pointers, retrievers, or setters.  I didn't really understand the setter reference but the other two I did get and I do sometimes find myself pointing more than I should instead of taking the patron where they need to go.  I'm going to do better about that after shaming my own self with the realization.

We were done by five and decided to see what Auburn had to offer.  While driving around I was telling D about last weekend's casino adventure and she casually mentioned that there was one not 30 miles away.  So yes, dear reader, D and I spent the evening at the nearby casino.  I made a bit of money for this summer's beach trip and we had a fabulous time!

Yesterday was another whirlwind of sessions with an RFID discussion, gearing up for next year's statewide read program, and an author award luncheon where we heard from: 
Janice Harrington, author of The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County
S. A. Harazin, author of Blood Brothers
Gin Phillips, author of The Well and the Mine

These authors were recepients of 2009 Alabama Library Association Awards for Best Children's Book, Best Young Adult Book, Best Adult Fiction, and Best Adult Nonfiction.

D and I headed home after that, with one stop at Miller's Cheese House.  I am now in love with this store!  I bought some horseradish cheddar, butter cheese, and some pepperjack that will curl your toes.  Jams, jellies, pickled things, soup, chow chow, relish, candy, cheese, milk, buttermilk, butter...the choices are nearly endless.

280 traffic was horrible but we made it back to D's house unscathed and positively laden with lactose.  I hopped in my car, went to book group (we discussed One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus), proceeded to get a teensy bit tipsy, then headed home.

I'm am so tired right now that it is pathetic.  On the brightside, I'm having lunch with good friends today and Sunday I'm seeing Wicked with my niece (HAPPY 13TH BIRTHDAY!!!!!!), her cousin and my sister-in-law!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

heading off to Auburn

for the Alabama Library Association conference tomorrow and I'll be back on Thursday.  I'm going to learn about all sorts of fascinating information like RFID, automated book return, library services for teens, and basic legal research for the public librarian...don't you wish you could go to?  I'll be up at 5am so I can make the 9am session on legal research.  That is one of my least favorite questions to get from people so hopefully they will have some relevant information for me.  


The Master Harper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

I’ve blogged about Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy before so I won’t go into that here, but let me tell you about McCaffrey’s The Master Harper of Pern.

The Harper Hall trilogy follows Menolly’s life in and among the Harpers, the most important of them being Master Harper Robinton.  The Master Harper of Pern chronicles Robinton’s life from birth up until maybe 20 years or so before Dragonsong picks up.  I learned about some relationships that were only vaguely alluded to in the other books I’ve read as well as some family connections I wasn’t aware of.  

I don’t feel comfortable going into anymore detail since that would give away some of the major parts of this book that I particularly enjoyed.  I have to be honest and say I liked it better when I didn’t know so much about Master Robinton’s personal history and he was only the benevolent mentor of Menolly of Half Circle Sea Hold.  That’s pretty silly since everyone is inclined to have human weaknesses (never mind the fact that these are fictional characters!) and I shouldn’t be worried about it but these are characters I have come to love very much.  I can’t help it!

So, The Master Harper of Pern filled in some back story to the Harper Hall trilogy that I didn’t even realize was there to be learned and now I’m seriously considering another challenge of my very own…to read the entire Dragonriders of Pern series!  The Pern books are so convoluted anyway that it is easily possible to get lost in all the different story lines and there are over 20 books in the series as far as I can tell.  I want to know all of the stories!

I like to think I would have been a Harper if I was on Pern and, obviously, ahem...if it was a real place one could go.

Any other Pern fans out there?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I had read about Little Bee on most of the book blogs I subscribe to and can remember no ill comments, plus I had to hand it to a book that had little on the inside flap other than a brief description which amounted to “we don’t want to tell you what happens in this book, just read it and you won’t be disappointed.”

So basically, a woman and a young girl meet on a beach in Nigeria and what happens there forges a relationship more solid than any I can remember reading about.  It will send the young girl on a long and perilous journey to England while the woman travels an equally arduous path through a disintegrating marriage.  And poor Batman!  I felt sorriest for him at the end…

There.  Now it’s your turn.  Go read Little Bee!  Now I’m interested in Chris Cleave’s other books

Saturday, April 4, 2009

as if I can really afford to

but anyway, I'm leaving shortly for a trip with a big group of friends to Atmore, Alabama and the Wind Creek Casino (I think this is our destination anyway)!  No worries, I don't have any kind of gambling addiction, to which T can attest.  Give me a nickel machine and a margarita and I'm content until the amount of money I alotted myself to spend has run out then it's time to head home.  I've never won anything so I don't have any visions of grandeur or anything.  It's just a fun trip with friends!  I'll have details on the morrow since we are returning tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

! ! ! this just in ! ! !

a patron just asked me if I knew where South America was

that is all.