Thursday, December 21, 2006

Valiant: a modern tale of faerie by Holly Black

Valiant: a modern tale of faerie

Val makes a shocking discovery at home that makes her question everything. She runs away finding herself on the streets of New York City and falls in with some other street teens who live in the tunnels under Grand Central. Through them she is introduced to the Faerie world. Not the Tinkerbell from Disney kind, but the dark cloven-foot, trolls, gargoyles and other nasty things that will use you up and spit you back out again kind. Surprising herself Val bonds with Ravus, a troll who protects the exiled faeries living in NYC and uses the street teens to deliver potions that protect faeries from iron poisoning. But when faeries start dying from the potion that should heal them all fingers point at Ravus and it's up to Val to prove them wrong.

Black uses very obvious themes here about running away instead of dealing with family issues and drug use. Only instead of a real drug (though it resembles every use of heroine I've ever seen in the movies) the teens use "Nevermore" which is actually a concentrated form of magic which helps the faeries stave off iron poising, but which gets humans high. I was a little surprised by the language. There are a couple of instances of the F-word in the first chapter and it recurred through out.

Val makes the transitions to and from the streets fairly easily which I find rather unrealistic. As well, as the handy appearance of Ruth, Val's best friend from, which makes Val's efforts to save the faerie world a little easier.

This was an exciting and quick read though. Sure to please readers looking for a little bit of fantasy injected into a real world setting.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

13 Little Blue Evelopes by Maureen Johnson

I decided to put this title on one of my Teen Book Club lists for the spring, but couldn't wait to read it myself.

After her Aunt Peg's death Ginny receives a package with direct instructions from her aunt to pack a backpack, leave all her electronic trappings and guidebooks home and get on a plane to London. Once she's completed that task 13 more little blue envelopes will lead her around Europe to experience it as her aunt did. She learns some new things about her aunt and herself along the way.

I liked this book and it was a quick read. I kept wanting to know what her aunt had for Ginny to do next and what lesson she would learn from it.

My major complaint is the plausibility of a 17 year old having trusting enough parents to let her go off to Europe alone with no communication except for the handwritten posted kind (It's in the rules). Ginny doesn't change in huge ways by the end of the book but she's seen more, done more and has more to think about which in my opinion was the aunt's goal all along. Peg was a driving force in Ginny's life until she died and had promised to see Ginny through high school and college to help her through those confusing and awkward times in life. Failing that I think Peg concocted this scheme as a way to bundle all those little bits of helpful advice into a short period of time and in a dramatic (Peg was an artist after all).

There are some touching moments and having been to the UK, where Ginny's travels start I felt nostalgic at the mentions of places I've been.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Peace on Earth; Good Will Toward Men

Except for that peace part. Because it's offensive.

At least that's what a Colorado home association has told it's residents when it told a couple to take down their peace sign Christmas wreath or face a $25/day fine.

Colorado law says that homeowners associations cannot prohibit residents from displaying American Flags, service flags, or political signs that might influence an election. Restrictions on other displays however are not addressed in the law.

So at this time of year when Christians around the world are celebrating the birth of their Messiah who preached peace, love and tolerance, who was probably the most famous hippy in history, a peace sign is being considered "offensive."

That's right offensive. Because while we are at war and have lost 2,000+ American soldiers, the message of peace is offending our neighbors.

We all know that Christmas has become horribly secular, commercial, and material. It has degenerated into the worshiping of fat, jolly Santa instead of Christ, but at least the "holiday spirit" seemed to remain. Despite arguments over the proper way to greet your neighbors "happy holiday's" "merry Christmas" "Happy Hanuka...Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice etc" at least the well wishes were there. I don't know about you, but I'll take all the happy and merry wishes I can get regardless of the holiday it's attached to. I need them.

But now even that is gone. No longer can we even wish for peace. Wish that our young men and women, and those citizens of other countries weren't put in harms way, weren't fighting and dying. When did peace become something bad? Even if you agree with the justifications for war, don't we all wish they weren't a necessity?

I might as well put away my ornaments, twinkle lights, and poinsettias.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Blog

I found this blog randomly searching:

Seen Reading.
The author explains her site as
* 1. I see you reading.
* 2. I guesstimate where you are in the book.
* 3. I trip on over to the bookstore and make a note of the text.
* 4. I let my imagination rip.
* 5. Readers become celebrities.
* 6. People get giddy and buy more books.

My favorite posts so far are
here and here

Be giddy, buy books, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

New Job = New Reading List

A few weeks ago I sent my resume to a public library in the surrounding area - the suburbs - that was looking for a reference librarian that would handle both Adult services and Teen (Young Adult) services. Since I have some experience with outreach to high schoolers, I thought I might as well apply.

I have always worked in Academic libraries. I started out Freshman year of college in my residence hall one-room library and moved on to the business library and the graduate library. When I studied abroad I worked at that university library. While working on my MLIS I was a grad assistant at my current university library doing reference and some outreach. Since I have been a full-fleged degreed and professional librarian I have been working mostly on outreach and instruction. The outreach is similar to programming that goes on in other libraries, but the instruction has been brand new to me and not something that I was used to at all. That is why I decided to try my hand at a public library.

They called for an interview a little more than a week after I emailed my resume. My interview was four days later. That is where I found out that only three people were chosen for an interview and as soon as that third person was done they would make their decision and let me know. I was late to my interview by aproximately 5 minutes. As I was parking my car at the time my interview should have started I thought I was out of the running. Consequently I went in completely relaxed, knowing that there was no way they were considering offering me this job. I even felt that the interview was going rather well, until the end when I had to say that I didn't know about certain aspects of public libraries. The director with whom I was interviewing seemed genuinly confused about why I had applied for this job when my experience, even my MLIS concentration was in academic libraries.

That is why I have been in shock since Thursday afternoon when I was offered the position. I start in about a week and a half and I am rather nervous. However, I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn something new. I will get to run teen programs, a reading/book club, programs between teens/adults and teens/youth, and a content system "room" for teens and one for entertainment. As well (whoo!) as being on the reference desk some of the day.

So, my reading list is going to have to change somewhat in line with my new position.

These are what I have down so far:

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Bras and Broomsticks
Frogs and Frech Kisses by Sarah Mlynowski

Then He Ate My Boy Enhancers
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison

God and I Broke Up by Katerina Mazetti

National Novel Writing Month

A flurry of writers all over are trying to finish a 50,000 word novel in only 30 days (29 in my case, I only started today).

If you have an inkling to participate just cick on the blog title above.

You'll read my novel when it get published and you can all say that you knew me when.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

I finished The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger fairly quickly. It was a much faster read than my previous books since, quite frankly, it's a bit of superficial read.

Andrea (Andy) find herself graduated from college and feeling rather blase about finding work. She is surprised when one of her randomly dropped of resumes to a magazine company lands her an interview and then a job as the junior personal assistant to the Editor in Chief of Runway magazine. While this might be a job that "a million girls would die for" Andy finds her boss to be a little overly demanding.

The pros:
Very funny in spots.
An interesting look at fashion and fashion magazines and their tendency to take themselves too seriously
A lot of girls/women might be able to identify with the fashion-outsider Andy who wants something more meaningful despite her the "big break" she's received.

The cons:
Way too predictable. No wonder it was made into a Hollywood move (all of which follow a very predictable formula - I'll dig it out from a script writing class I took).
Too many lists- I know the idea was to prove that the author really knows about this world of fashion and fashion magazines and in an attempt to make it more "authentic" or "real" she would include page long lists of designers that someone meets with or what's in a suitcase, mostly I skipped these parts they did nothing for the plot and so, in my opinion, were practically unnecessary.
The plot was flat. About half way through I wanted to scream, "I get it! The woman is a heartless bitch and Andy is having the soul sucked out of her. Where is the plot? Where is the problem? What's going on?" Really, a plot should be the character going through hardships, encountering problems, solving them, moving on to greater obstacles to their goals. Maybe the problem is that the goals and problems in this book were too mundane. Andy wants to be a writer for the New Yorker. She thinks this job will put her on the fast track, too bad her boss is an uber-bitch. But do I really need hundreds of pages of her daily horrific sleep-deprived routine? Some of the interesting things, when she gets thrown for a loop and made to go to parties or runway shows were the most interesting "problems" she encounters (beats hearing about her Starbucks runs from hell) but there weren't enough of them.
The narrative also needed some tweaking. The book starts out at point B when Andy is already in her job from hell, then moves backwards to point A on how she got this job, and goes forward into point C. My problem here is not that structure it can work well, except that we never come back to point B (the beginning) before moving on to point C (the end). I kept thinking that all of this was in the past only to get to the end and find out, that I had been wrong for a good portion of the book. I blame the publisher/editor/agent/whoever-read-this-thing-before-printing-it for not catching and correcting that mistake.

The movie: I have not seen it. But...I can say that I totally see where the casting came from. I can think of no better person than Glen Close to play Miranda Preistly, the horrible boss. And I totally see how they could see Anne Hathaway in the role. I noticed in the book Andy is often referred to as "Blondie," though Anne Hathaway is not. I am hoping that this was done based on Anne Hathaway's acting ability and the fact that they wanted her regardless of "looks" and not some decision that brunettes are somehow more likely than blondes to be fashion-challenged as Andy is in the book. Also, in the book Andy's boyfriend is named Alex (how cute!) , but the movie changes it to Nate. Not a huge deal, and I can see how someone might not want the "too cute" assonance of their names.

I am actually looking forward to the movie because I think it might actually be better than the book, which I don't think happens that often. I just think that the mediocre plot line, but interesting characters, plus the engaging actors will lend itself better to the screen than the book.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I finally finished reading His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman (see here also). These are my own short summaries and I am trying not to give too much away for those who are/want to read them.

The first book The Golden Compass was by far the best.
The setting is a world like ours, but still different. Something seem antiquated and others are still very modern. Children across the land are being kidnapped and when Lyra's best friend Roger goes missing she's determined to rescue him. This takes her on a grand adventure from her home into the land of witches and as far as the arctic. She gets caught up in all kinds of intrigue - political, scientific, and religious.

The second book The Subtle Knife was interesting, but not as good as the first, and seemed only to exist in order to a) introduce more characters and b) shuffle them around to get them into place for the culmination of book 3.
Doorways to other worlds, some near mirrors to Lyra's and others amazingly different begin to be found. Lyra encounters Will, a boy from our world, and the adventure begun in the Golden Compass continues for the both of them. The philosophy of good, evil, god and temptation deepens and expands as Lyra and Will begin to learn more about the causes behind the events that unfurled in book one.

The third book The Amber Spyglass was the longest and the most convoluted. I think at this point Pullman was trying to put too much into this final installation with out paying much attention to what he had set up previously.
Lord Asriel is taking on the Authority and is calling on some very mighty powers to do so. Creatures from across many worlds are joining sides in what is sure to be a cosmically huge war. Lyra and Will are destined to play an important role, but have their own important agenda which will take them to the World of the Dead and back regardless of the consequences.

My analysis:

I loved Pullman's ideas of multiple worlds, uncountable numbers of worlds really. Each one created every moment. The idea being that in one world Lyra decides to hide in a room in which she is forbidden to go (the very opening scene of book one), but at the moment she decides to do this a new world is created in which that Lyra chooses a different route. In this way millions of worlds are always being created and they exist right on top of each other in the same space and time, never aware and never matching up exactly. The end of the first book introduces us to the concept and the second book gives the characters a way to move between worlds (this is how Will from our world and Lyra meet). In book 3 we start seeing worlds that barely resemble ours at all because thousands of years ago evolution took a different turn creating an Earth that we might not recogognize.

In Lyra's world each person is accompanied by a daemon. It is difficult to explain what a daemon is because Pullman illustrates it through action and discourse rather than a straightforward "telling." Humans and Daemon's are connected they can not be very far distances from each other with out causing pain or death. In effect, the daemon is a part of a person just inhabiting a separate body. The form of a daemon can tell you about the person - a sailor may have a dolphin or gull daemon, a servant a dog, a spy may have a very unobtrusive, small or easily hidden daemon. Until one reaches adolescence the daemon can change form, but upon adulthood it "settles" on a single form. This prompts the beginning, in the first book, of the discussions of innocence, sin, and temptation which is wrapped up in the transition of childhood into adolescence and the beginnings of adulthood.

All in all Pullman created both a fun and adventurous story while filling it with depth. I think he inevitably set his eyes a little too far and tried to cram too much in the third book and leaving the second one a little mundane.

From Here Down -- spoiler warning, major plot points in all 3 books revealed - read at your own risk

Some of the very philosophical aspects:

Pullman delves into some very interesting topics regarding religion, temptation, and the nature of growing up. Particles referred to as Dust are discovered by scientists in Lyra's world (called Shadows or negative particles in our world) and it is further revealed that Dust is attracted more to adults than pre-adolescent children. In Lyra's world the Church decides that this is evidence of original sin. If they can some how destroy that which attracts Dust to adults they can somehow eliminate sin or temptation. Through out the three books it is revealed to the readers that it is not sin but consciousness (or wisdom/knowledge) that Dust is attracted to. Until humanity became aware of itself, was able to create, to make and use tools Dust did not settle on us. While Dust is attracted to our mature consciousness, humanity's works -tools, art, science etc- creates more Dust creating a symbiotic relationship which we find out in the 3rd book is in peril. This goes interestingly with story of the Garden of Eden, and Pullman makes the connection by putting Lyra at the heart of a prophesy in which she plays the part of Eve, it was after eating the Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge that Adam and Eve became aware of themselves and their nakedness. The character of Mary Malone (purposely an ex-nun) is also cast in the prophesy as the serpent. She is supposed to play the tempter to make sure that Lyra chooses knowledge and maturity in order to assure the continued existence of Dust. Too bad Pullman seems to have forgot by book 3 that Mary was supposed to play the serpent, because she seems to play almost no role in the temptation at all. The parallel to the garden of Eden goes a little to far, when towards the end of book 3, Lyra and Will searching for their daemons find a garden spot and realize that they have come to love each other. Lyra offers him a piece of fruit after she takes a bite of it and they find themselves kissing passionately.

Pullman also does a lot with religion in these novels. In the second book we find out that all of Lord Asriel's actions in the first book had little to do with Dust and were really the first steps to launching an all out war on God (the Authority). Pullman's take on God being the first angel and therefore unfathomably old to the point where he is beyond frail and nearly unaware of himself and his surroundings. God hid himself away in a fortress of sorts and all of his power has been usurped by another angel. In order to protect God in his fragile state he is sealed in an unbreakable glass carriage which during the war is shot down while being evacuated by angels. God trapped inside is saved by Lyra and Will, but is so frail that just stepping out into normal air allows him to come apart (like angels and ghosts do when dying or stepping out into a real world) and he shows signs of pure happiness when it happens. The powerful angel who took over for god is brought down by his own envy of humanity and he too dies. It is the ultimate statement of "God is Dead." And yet the Church and all of it's different branches continue to go on functioning. I think that Pullman gives us very weighty food for thought on the nature of religious organizations.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Words, Words, Words

1. One Book You've read more than once
Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince - read it as a teenager in middle school. It's a little mature I think, but I still find it in library YA sections all the time. Melanie Rawn studied history, and you can tell. The wars and the political intrigue even the plague and famin that ensue are so well developed. There is a great dose of fantasy, magic, and super strong minded women in it too.

2. One Book You would want on a desert island

An Encyclopedia. As much as I love fiction, even really long or dense fiction isn't going to keep me entertained forever. And there are some fiction type things in encyclopedias like dragons or fairies. Not only that it might have some useful rescue information in it.

3. One Book That made you laugh
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison- my SiL lent me this book when I was on my way to Scotland which is very appropriate because the narrator is a British girl. I got stranded at the airport and couldn't sleep on the uncomfortable seats so managed to read it and the two that follow in the series all while waiting for my plane. It was good thing that I read most of it in the middle of the night, because when it got closer to morning and there were actual people around I kept getting weird stares and looks because I was laughing so hard and so loudly.

4. One Book that made you cry

Oh gosh, what book hasn't made me cry would be an easier answer. All of Melanie Rawn's books have made me cry, Wasted (see #5) made me cry, I even think that Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events made me cry at somepoint (those poor orphans). I think that if a book is well written and gets me invested in the characters to the point where I care about what happens to them, when it's something bad, something incredibly good, I am going to cry.

5. One Book you wish you had written

Marya Hornbacher's Wasted. I don't ever wish to go through what this author went through in order to have the material for this story. She started out bulemic at the age of 9 and in high school became anorexic. The account of what happened to her body, mind and soul is fairly horrific and yet so amazingly compelling and articulate. Marya wrote the book when she was only 22. To have had the talent and the streangth to publish things so personal and ugly is really formidable.

6. One Book you wish had never been written

None. I'm a librarian. I don't condone censorship. Read a Banned Book! Even the books I don't like or don't agree with have a right to be published. I will not silence anyone's voice just because I don't like what they say.

7. One Book you are currently reading

Philip Pullman's The Amber Spy Glass - I've been working on this one for awhile. It's a pretty big book and work has kept me pretty busy. This is also a sci-fi/fantasy book and specifically young adult. The heroine is only 10ish and her companion is 12.

8. One Book you've been meaning to read

Oh, where do I start? I have a list. I've never actually finished Frankenstein and I would really like to. I think the concept is fantastic. I love that it was written by a woman, and when you study her life, what was going on with her at the time that she wrote it, the story becomes even more poignant. It is also one of the first science fiction books to be written.

9. One Book that Changed Your Life

In some small way they all have. I wish I knew which book I read first as a child, or was read to me. I bet that would be it. I think if I had to go far far back in my memory I'd choose the Frog and Toad books. My mother has the first few in hard cover and she loved them so much that we had to be very careful when reading them. I think it was my first taste of the idea that you can read a book and love the story so much that you want to take care of and perserve the physical object too. My mother also loved Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice which I also had to treat with exceptional care. We read it so much that we could recite it together and I every once in awhile I'll say from no where "going once, going twice, going chicken soup with rice." Speaking of Maurice Sendak: we loved Where the Wild Things Are in my house too. I think that book of so many others really fostered my imagination. I saw myself in Max, I still do, I have a wander lust, I always want to get away to bigger and better, more exciting things, but home with family is always a nice place to come back to once in awhile.

Basically...books themselves, and reading have changed my life.

Celebrate Bannned Book Week Sept 25-Oct 1.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two British Mothers Against Healthy Eating

Apparently two mothers were caught delivering fast food to students after their children's' school began feeding healthier lunches to the students and closing campus at lunch time.

The two women have since stopped pending a meeting with the Head Teacher (principal for all the Yanks).

My favorite

The mothers said that the real culprit was Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who led a high-profile campaign to force the Government to act on school meals.

Mrs Walker said last week: "I don't like him or what he stands for - he is forcing our kids to be more picky about their food."

Wow! Lets hate a guy who wants children to make healthy choices instead of just accepting the heart-attack-on-a-plate food that is rampant through out Western culture.

I am shocked and dismayed at parents who claim to not be opposed to kids eating healthy meals, but delivering junk food to students, not just their own kids. And the thing is that despite this happening in the UK, I can imagine what would happen in the USA if a school tried to ban unhealthy food and promote only healthy eating at lunch and snack times. Parents would be furious and put up a hell of a lot more fight than these women did. I am rather appalled at parents who blatantly undermine school authority. These tend to be the same parents who wonder why their children are obnoxious and unruly.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reading List

Finished: The Curious Incident of Dog in the Night Time (**)
The Golden Compass (****)
The Subtle Knife (***)

Reading: The Amber Spyglass (*** - so far)

On the list: The Poisonwood Bible
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Devil Wears Prada

* - Pretty bad, almost wish I hadn't read it.
** - At least a little interesting, not sorry I read it
*** - Good, but has room for improvement
**** - Excellent, recommended
***** - Superperb a must read

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

5 years and 1 day

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.
Yesterday I took my moment of silence for all those who were killed, those families which will forever be affected, and those heroes who put themselves in harms way to help others. But today I am not going to remain silent.

The morning radio show that I listen to was taking calls all morning and discussing "Where were you?" with everyone. From what I've read about people's recollection of traumatic events (specifically the case of the J.F.K assassination) nobody remembers correctly what they were doing. My mother swears that she was in a car w/ a broken radio, but that it worked just long enough to hear that JFK had died and then it never worked again. It makes a fantastic story, but I highly doubt that it's accurate. So, as far as commemorating the day, "where were you" stories don't hold a lot of weight with me.

Before I got out of the car one of the DJs asked a caller if she felt safer now after the events of 9-11 and she said yes. Some one else commented on the "galvanizing of the American spirit" and how everyone felt so patriotic after the attacks. After stewing about it for a full day and a half I have to make some comments.

First of all I think that to consider the emotions that were running through the country after 9-11 a "galvanizing of the American spirit" is to put rose colored glasses over them. The events of 9-11 may have brought us together in grief, but it also brought most American's together in the spirit of Warmongering. The moment a finger was pointed, which was pretty early on, many Americans were calling for us to attack back. The news was filled with reactions from average citizens wondering why our leaders hadn't launched a retaliation right away. We were incenced that something of this magnitude could happen to us, to America. How dare they? was going through everyone's mind. From what I've seen 5 years later, the reverberation of 9-11 is still war. It is still the thought that more fighting and more killing will some how prove that the destruction of our symbol of materials and the death of 300,000+ Americans was wrong. Is it just me, or does it seem counter productive to try to show that spilling blood is immoral by spilling even more blood. They may have hit us first, but we'll hit them hardest seems to be a prevailing theme today.

As for feeling "safer" I wonder what sandbox that listener has her head buried in. One topic that nobody in power seems to want to address since 9-11 is Why? Why did a terrorist group feel the need to hurt us to begin with? What makes them hate us so much? I am not advocating a major over haul of our culture to appease fanatatic fundamental factions, but until we take a long hard look at ourselves and notice that it's not just fundamental countries that despise us any more, but pretty much most foreign citizenry, we are not going to get safer, we are going to get progressively un-safe.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Something Fun for Literacy

Friday is International Literacy Day a day developed by the UN back in the 60s to raise consiousness about illiteracy around the world.

Rather than tackle all of the issues surrounding world wide is a fun exercise for anyone stumbling onto my blog.

1. Pick up the nearest book. (Don't go looking for a pseudo-intellectual one!)
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence.
4. Post the next 3 sentences.
5. Call on others (or tag specific bloggers) to do the same.

So here goes:

"Thank you," she said to her...her what? Her steed? Her cycle? Both ideas were absurdly wrong for the bright-eyed amiability that stood beside her. She settled for--friend.

--From, The Amber Spyglass (book 3 in the Dark Materials trilogy) by Philip Pullman

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Hate Hypocrisy

I was flipping channels last night sometime after midnight and landed on a news program. The reason I stopped, I don’t normally watch news, was because it showed a clip of Bush talking about his veto of some stem-cell research bill based on saving the morality of this country. In order to educate the lay-man who doesn’t really even know what stem-cells are, much less why it’s important to study them, he interviewed a scientist from Stanford. She was very good at explaining with out big scientific words the basics. One thing she mentioned was the possibility of using embryos that are left over from invetro-fertalization processes. Which Bush already allows. When a woman can’t get pregnant on her own she goes to a doctor who harvests her eggs and her partner’s sperm and combines them outside of their bodies. They make a bunch of embryos and implant some back in the women’s uterus and save others incase those few don’t take. Sometimes they have to do it more than once and sometimes they don’t. Either way, there tend to be some extra embryos.

Now, according to this anchor, who said himself that he believes conception is the start of life, it seems immoral to create life in order to destroy it which is what stem-cell research is aiming to do. But what about this process of creating many embryos in the hopes you get pregnant with one child. What happens to these other embryos which, according to conservative Christians are still human life. Do we keep them frozen forever? What about the “inferior” ones that the doctors don’t think are going to survive in the womb anyway and so never bother to even consider implanting them in the mother?

There are people in this world who are so Pro-life that they will picket a women’s health clinic because they refer patients, or perform abortions, but I’ve never heard of them standing outside an infertility clinic crying out for those embryos right to live.

Further hypocrisy that makes me sick is the idea of the number of people, many Christians, in this country who vote Republican purely because they are “Pro-life,” yet completely ignore the fact that Republicans are for the death penalty. Or how about the “Pro-lifers” who vote based on abortion, and therefore voted for a President who sent us to war that has caused hundreds of deaths?

According to Bush, and many others: "my view that human life is precious, and should not be exploited or destroyed for the benefits of others." —Bush, March 22, 2002
Yet he says: "I was asked, 'Do you support the death penalty?' I said I did, if administered fairly and justly. Because I believe it saves lives." —Bush, Oct. 17, 2000
Apparently life is only sacred and shouldn't be destroyed until it’s out of the womb. Then it can be murdered or tested upon with no side effects to the conscience.

“If War is Right, Jesus is Wrong”—bumper sticker (thanks to a friend for telling me about it)

Friday, July 21, 2006

What is Net Neutrality?

Here is a funny video from the Daily Show that has the "PC" guy from the engaging Apple comercials explaining Net Neutrality in easy to understand terms.

All jokes about tubes asside, the explination is fairly accurate. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Thirty Books to Read before you Die, and my opinions on them.

Librarians around the UK have come up with a list of the Thirty books you Must read before kicking it.

A poll was conducted through the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA--not to be confused with the thousand's of other associations this acronym can stand for) and published in the Guardian.

Topping the list is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

Personally, I've read 9, and quite a number of them, I hadn't even heard of. My favorite book of all time 1984 by George Orwell made it into 4th place. It should have been third, in my opinion, kicking The Bible off the list all together. Nobody sits down and reads the bible like it's a real book unless you're a crazy-christian (non-crazy-christians are a completely different group of Christians all together). It's like a dictionary in that way. You dip into it when you need to know something in particular, or if you're studying it. Let's face it: The Bible is a reference book, not a reading book.

Another book I'd bump: The Lovely Bones. It's interesting, it's imaginative, in that, it's written from the point of view of a dead girl. But beyond that, it's nothing special. I certainly wouldn't go telling people they have to read it before they die.

A good number I noticed were young adult books. I love young adult books, but I don't think it applies to everyone that they must read them. The same goes for the Lord of the Ring trilogy. Not everyone is into fantasy novels (though admitedly, these ones do seem to capture the fancy of non-fantasy readers unlike many others in the genre. I chalk it up to it being a 'classic.') In the future I think that MLA should conduct a number of different surveys for different libraries. What do children's librarians think are the must read books? And what about academic, or special librarians?

I am starting my perusal of this list of must reads with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Glancing through the pages, I'm a little disturbed by the strange mathmatic- and geographic-looking illustrations. But the title was in-arguably the most intriguing on the whole list.

Did anyone notice that Charles Dickens made the list 3 times. And 2 of the Bronte sisters were also included. Jane Ausen is only represented by Pride and Prejudice. Which I think is a shame, it may be her most well known book, and it has been made into a number of charming movies, I don't think it's her best.

The List

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Bible
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
1984 by George Orwell
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Monday, July 3, 2006

If it's that private, stay home

Randomly found this:

As someone who has worked in libraries since 1997 I've seen my share of inappropriate on-line behavior from patrons. We always wonder...why the heck come to a library to look at that stuff? Buy your porn at the local adult store and take it home.

At least this product protects the rest of us. But really...if what you need to do is that private...just stay home already!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What is your dirty little secret?

Talk about voyeurism in the extreme. Check out this sight that gives you insight into strangers' inner most thoughts and feelings.


This is a guy who recieves postcards in the mail on which people have written their deepest, darkest (sometimes funniest) secrets giving him permision to post them on the internet for all to see.

If you've seen The All-American Reject's music video for their song "Dirty Little Secret" then you've already seen some:

"I don't think my fiance is THE ONE."
"I feel like a failure everytime I eat."
"I only love 2 of my children."
"I pee in the sink."

I encourage you to check out the video, which you can do easily here. And definitely look at the site. Currently it has a Father's Day theme and I don't see a way of looking at older postcards so I for one am going to RSS it so I don't miss out on even one postcard displaying somebody's inner self....who knows, it could be yours.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rejection Sucks

About two weeks ago I had a second phone interview with X Private College they never called be back.

First, the interview was scheduled to take 30-45 minutes, but I only took 18-20. Second, I was insanely nervous. I could hear the shaking in my voice and though we were on speaker phone I am sure they could too. I had notes with me, but didn't really use them. I feel that I lacked examples to back up my answers. Not that I don't have them, just that I forgot to talk about them. My current boss says that me asking about their time table to call references was a bad move too...although all my references had been asking me when they were going to be called, and since the interviewers never gave me an indication I thought it was a fair question. My boss says no.

When I hadn't heard from them a colleague convinced me to call and ask about my status. Frankly, I already knew what my status was. There is no way that my phone was on the first during that crucial 2 minute period that they would have been calling to let me know that they wanted an in person interview, there was no way that they had been pushed so far off schedule as to have let a whole week go past the date they gave me, a nd there was no way that I had just fallen through the cracks. They just didn't want to see me. But in order to get the absolute final word on that, I called. She shuffled through papers, probably trying to find my resume, or her notes from the interview and then confirmed that yes, they were in the process of the in person interviews and a lack of a call, letter, or email meant that I had not been selected. Why she made me wait on the phone to tell me that, why she needed a piece of paper to let her know that I don't know.

And then I asked the dreaded question "Do you mind me asking, what was it that took me out of the running?" Wow. One simple question that is really saying..."so why didn't you like me?" or "what exactly is wrong with me that you don't want to hire/interview me?" "Just what were you looking for that I lack?" It's a flash back to every break up I've ever been through: the old "what's wrong with me? why don't you want me?" trap. Only this isn't my fragile emotions on the line, it's my livelihood. A job. A career opportunity. A chance at benefits with health insurance. Full time work and the opportunity to get my own freaking apartment for once in my life! *sigh*

According to this particular administrator at X Private College Library they even had trouble choosing people for the second round of phone interviews, but for the in person they had to choose who they felt were the "most qualified," Great. So apparently I am not qualified for an entry level position at an academic library and it is quite possible that I would not have even made it to the second round of telephone interviews except for the whole "difficult choice" bit. Wow. What a low blow.

So now I am back to square one with searching job postings, cover letter writing, and resume revising.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Nothing just about it.

As I was passing the reference desk yesterday one of our grad assistants was fending off a solicitor who had stopped in to hand out Anti-DaVinci-Code materials. If I had been behind the desk I would have handed the stuff back and politely said "You can't solicit in here. You have to be twenty feet from the building to do that." But then I hate solicitors of any kind, even the ones I agree with.

But she had a great way of handling it. She simply looked him in the eye and said "Why do people bother getting upset about this stuff. It's fiction. That means it's not real." The guy had no response and spent the rest of the afternoon handing out his flyers in the courtyard. Besides that don't they realize that they're actually drumming up more business for Dan Brown?

I won't spend much time on the Da Vinci Code I haven't seen the movie. I won't until it's at a second run $1 theater. Not because I have a problem with its "message" or its god-awful casting, but because I thought it was a poorly written book. I can't even figure out (other than the cash) why somebody would claim this shit was plagiarized. Read Angels and Demons, Brown's first book with this character. The plot is identical with a few incidental changes: Same protagonist with the secret society, the led-by-the-nose henchman, the oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-it-was-him-all-along villain, the predictable love story, and of course the how-can-you-believe-that-and-call-yourself-christian subtext. The only difference was that Angles and Demons, was actually exciting. It was fast paced and interesting. The Da Vinci Code, not so much.

But...the real point of this post... don't under estimate the power of fiction. The great things about books is that they can change lives. Will reading the Da Vinci Code make someone believe in Dan Brown's theory about Christ, Mary Magdalene and the real meaning of the Holy Grail? Probably not, but it might get people to think about the possibility. It might get people to re-evaluate the Bible, how it's changed and how the canonical books of the Bible are chosen. It might get people to consider the roles of women in organized religion and lead them to make decisions on whether or not they're happy with those roles. But it can't make any one suddenly believe.

The scary part is, though, that thinking is enough.

With out going into too much detail...the movie the Matrix got me to thinking about free will and the christian theory of being created to have free will, the existence of evil and the devil. I concluded that following the christian mythology... humanity needs the devil in order to exercise free will. Sounds fairly obvious, but the religion I had grown up with believes that the devil will eventually cease to exist and humanity will flourish in a peaceful and perfect state. that to the creation mythology that includes free will...doesn't add up does it? I came to the conclusion that religion I had grown up with couldn't possibly be true. And yeah, that screws me up because now I don't think any religion is true. Now...did watching this movie make me reject my religion? No. The movie just made me think a little more logically about my own beliefs. I'm sure that there are believers out there who can reason around those two statements so that they can co-exist or for whom the Matrix was nothing, but a fun action filled sci-fi adventure (which it is to me too actually).

But still, it's all just fiction right?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The dreaded phone interview

I graduated just about 2 weeks ago with a Master of Library and Information Science degree. Now it's time to find a full time library position. Last Friday I sent out my cover letter and resume to a private college in my area that was looking for a full time reference librarian. Tuesday I heard back from them wanting to schedule a phone interview. Today I had that interview.

First of all I thought I was calling to schedule one, but instead was actually interviewed. Luckily I was prepared.

I spent a great deal of time yesterday perusing their website learning about the college and the library there so when I was asked "What do you know about X college and why do you want to work here?" I had something figured out. At the same though I had nothing concrete written down. I was did not want to sound rehearsed or like I was reading a script.

My fellow recent graduates had been lobbing questions at me for the past two days when I was least expecting them to give me an idea of what I might get asked. Thank goodness they did because some of those questions were remarkably similar to the ones I was asked on the phone.

Like "What type of office environment and colleagues do you work best with?"; "What would you like to accomplish in this position?"; and "Why are you the best candidate?" were not far off from the sample questions my colleagues had given me to help me prepare.

The one great disadvantage with phone interviews is the lack of non-verbal cues. You have no way of knowing what reaction your response is generating in the interviewer(s). It seems like there is the yawning void you are talking into. Luckily my interview was friendly and she gave me feedback before, after and during my answers so I really felt like I was conversing with someone rather than having my words lost in that black hole of the telephone receiver.

I won't know for another week if they'll want to interview me in round 2, but I am so happy to finally have this experience over with. I know what to expect next time and best of all I know that my cover letter and resume can generate results. If this particular college doesn't want me I know it's just a matter of time before I am off the "part-time Librarian" status.

Friday, April 21, 2006

What you've all been waiting for!

This is currently the best picture of my tattoo that I have. I took it myself in the mirror with my camera phone (I photoshopped my fingers out of the picture because it looked like I was holding a phantom phone).

Until I get someone else to take one for me this is as good as it gets.

Edited:July 8, 2006: I had to chnge the picture of my tattoo. What is here is atually the henna inspiration. Apparently where I had the picture hosted shutdown, or it closed my account, or something. So rather than photoshop a new picture, this is what you get fo now.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Empowerment is a wonderful feeling.

I work at a reference desk. It's essentially a customer service job and I deal with many kinds of people. I get the unappreciated, the very gracious and thankful, those who want me to do all their work for them, and the proactive kind. My very least favorite are the ones who think they know me, or who want to get to "know" me. There are the ones who ask for my number, who want to give me their number, who call me baby girl, sweetheart, princess, or darling. Those are bad, but the very worst I think are the patrons who think they can make whatever inappropriate comments they want about my appearance, my clothes, my hair, my glasses or lack there of, even the way I talk.

Well I finally stood up against it today.

Someone wanted a book and in the midst of me finding it he kept making comments like "You've lost even more weight than I have" paired with "My family thinks I've lost too much weight."

First of all, I do not know this person. Maybe I've helped him in the past, but I see so many patrons a day it is hard to say. Second, I am sick of these back-handed "compliments" about my weight loss. Yeah, I got healthier in the last few months it was my New Year's Resolution, weight-loss was the side effect. But calling me a "skinny heifer" (that's a cow in case you didn't know) or saying that I'm disappearing are not nice ways of telling me that you've noticed a difference. (And yes, those are both real comments I have gotten.)

But...the story at hand: I ignored the comments and stayed on topic about where to find this book, after the third or fourth time he asked "Why are you being so administrative all of a sudden? Last semester you were so nice and friendly."

At which point I had had enough. I looked him in the eye and said point blank...

I'm always friendly.
But I'm not going to discuss my weight with you.
It's none of your business.

Wow...I feel so much better.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Who wants a relaxing vacation? Not me.

I just spent my spring break week in Utah, and (the library trip aside) it was possibly the most painful vacation I have ever had.

First off, I couldn't be in Utah during the winter with out going skiing. So through a friend, my brother, his girlfriend (who grew up in Park City), and myself got free lift tickets to the Canyons (a resort). I don't really ski. I went maybe three times as a teenager when I would get to the top of the bunny slope barrel straight down as fast as I could and fall because I didn't know any other way to stop. And let me say that skiing in Utah is nothing like skiing in Michigan. Apparently in a desert even the snow is dry; they call it "powder." I've never been skiing in it before and I did horribly. Three runs on the novice run did not prepare me for the next level, because as soon as we hit the next one I was on my ass…a lot. I kept getting stuck in the powder, which you're actually supposed to ski through. Now, granted powder is pretty soft and if you land right it doesn't hurt when you fall. Too bad I can't land correctly. The upside to all this falling: I got really good at pulling myself up. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a better work out for my arms. I swear they were sore for two days after that.

Second, I made my brother take me to his tattoo artist. If you're ever in Salt Lake City and want a tattoo go to Big Deluxe Tattoo they are the best everyone I know in Utah went there (and I actually know a good number of people there). I have had a picture of this particular tattoo for almost 2 years I just wanted to be very careful about where I went to get it done. My brother has gorgeous tattoos on his arms so I felt comfortable going to his guy. I'm sure everyone knows someone with a tattoo who says "Oh it didn't hurt at all. It just felt a little uncomfortable." They were lying. To themselves, to you, to whom ever, but it's a boldface lie made to make them seem all tough and to convince you that it's no big deal, because it hurts. It hurts like hell. It felt like some one was stabbing, cutting, burning, and generally flaying the skin off my back, only worse because besides the cutting and stabbing there is also the blood—the lots and lots of blood running down my back and staining my shirt (and later my brother's car). Luckily it only took 45minutes. I didn't ask for a break in an effort to finish faster, but I also never felt that adrenaline rush that you supposedly get and which makes people jones for more than one tattoo. So don't bother asking me what I'll have done next, because the answer is nothing. From now on I stick to Henna, that stuff looks great and is pain free.