Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Who is working? An email forward

Arriving in my in-box this afternoon ...

The population of this country is 300 million. 160 million are retired.

That leaves 140 million to do the work.

There are 85 million in school.

Which leaves 55 million to do the work.

Of this there are 40 million employed by the federal government.

Leaving 15 million to do the work.

2.8 million are in the armed forces preoccupied with killing OsamaBin-Laden.

Which leaves 12.2 million to do the work.

Take from that total the 10.8 million people who work for state and city governments.

And that leaves 1.4 million to do the work.

At any given time there are 188,000 people in hospitals.

Leaving 1,212,000 to do the work.

Now, there are 1,211,998 people in prisons.

That leaves just two people to do the work. You and me. And there you are, sitting on your butt, at your computer, reading jokes. Nice. Real nice.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Blogger Beta, you have to be kidding

I know I keep blathering on about the paragraphs within the posts issue, but it really offends my anal, organizational, visual literacy, need for white space, sensibilities to have such messy looking posts appear out of the blue. While posting on another blog this morning I noticed something in the "edit html" view (because the other blog post created paragraphs correctly). If there is a <-- paragraph -- > and < /p > within the posts, followed by a space or break, the paragraph appeared after posting. Messing with the coding in the "edit html" version of a post does not do all that much and I only use it to enter the < -- p -- > code when <-- br --> is not working.

This glitch has to be a result of beta and the template I chose.

See, it worked.

Books or movies?

I love Nora Roberts and have been reading her books for close to 20 years. The first book I read was a Silhouette novel, part of her Irish Hearts series, Irish Rose (1988). I followed with glee and anticipation when she moved into lengthier novels such as Sacred Sins (1987) and Brazen Virtues (1988). And when she began writing futuristic novels as J.D. Robb with Naked in Death (1995), I had another favorite. Quite simply, in my humble opinion, Nora is a gifted storyteller.

Well written books, especially ones with strong characters, may make great movies. I am a big fan of various popular culture flicks such as Harry Potter and the Pelican Brief. Who can argue with the classics Gone with the Wind, The Color Purple, or even to some extent Ordinary People? Some books are made into TV mini-series with success; case in point, Roots, North and South, and The Thornbirds. I do, however, have reservations concerning books being made into TV movies. Condensing a well crafted 300+ page novel into a two hour TV movie, not counting time for commercials, is a daunting task not often done well.

It was with some trepidation I began following Lifetime television's promotions of four Nora Roberts books being made into TV movies. After CBS's disappointing treatment of Sanctuary several years ago, I turned on the television last evening to watch Angels Fall with skepticism. The cast was talented, the cinematography and location beautiful, and the story was cohesive. It was not a bad movie, but I could not stop myself from comparisons with the book. In my estimation, the movie fell short. Three more of Nora's novels, Blue Smoke, Montana Sky, and Carolina Moon, will be shown on Lifetime in the upcoming weeks. Time will tell.

Book alert! Nora has an excerpt from her upcoming J.D. Robb release, Innocent in Death, on her website. It's publication date is February 20th. I've printed it out and will be reading the first chapter at lunch today.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Blogger Beta, again

Is it only a coincidence, or are there additional page layout issues with blogger beta? This afternoon I noticed that paragraph's are not displayed correctly within posts now that I have changed my layout over to "advanced." All of the post paragraphs are mushed together, no matter which browser I use for viewing. It is really very unattractive.

Here's hoping it is just a glitch (this should be a new paragraph).

Update: 1/30/07

It appears the missing paragraph issue is not my imagination because it's still happening this morning. I checked a few other blogs I author, work and professional, and none of the other blogs have the problem. So, is it this particular template? It should not be since I've been using it for 9 months virtually trouble free. Is it the blogger beta and new template? It should not be since I changed two other blogs to the "advanced" template and they look fine. I am going to trouble-shoot the settings and see if the switch changed anything. Guess I will know soon enough.

Somthing I do know is contacting blogger for help is useless. The blogger help page is particularly circular in nature and finding an actual email address .....

Ask me no questions

Ask Me No Questions, by Marina Budhos, is a deeply moving, thought provoking novel about a family of immigrants from Bangladesh who are illegal alliens in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks. As the story opens, fourteen year old Nadira's family is traveling to Canada seeking asylum. They came to America on a travel visa, had a difficult time with a corrupt lawyer who "incorrectly" filed their immigration paperwork, and never left. Living on an expired visa, Nadira's father has been detained at the border and the rest of the family is struggling to survive, living on a daily basis not knowing if they will remain in the country or be summarily deported.

What is most striking about Ask Me No Questions is that it depicts, without prejudice, a family that could be any family. Nadira is the youngest daughter, struggling with her place in the family and somewhat of a loner at school. Her older sister Aisha, the "smart" daughter, adapted to life in America swiftly becoming one of the "in" crowd at school. Each girl lives in constant fear of being exposed at school and must constantly balance their daily life with family secrets. Nadira's extended family includes aunts, uncles, and cousins who all respond differently to the changing political landscape and public opinion of immigrants during this volatile time. Readers are given a personal glimpse into one family's nightmare existence as they struggle with politics, bureaucracy, lawyers, and judges, all to find a place to call home.

There is a good reason this is one of the 2007 Best Book for Young Adults. It may change what you think, or what you think you know, about this issue.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blogger Beta features

One of the new features Blogger offers with the "beta" version is labeling. I'm a librarian. I like order and organization and the whole concept behind labeling posts. However, in order to have the labels show as a sidebar feature, bloggers have to change over to the new template organizational theme. I have been delaying this procedure since Blogger mentioned it would mean losing what the current sidebar (just great).

This afternoon I succumbed to the lure and am in the process of rebuilding my blog sidebar. I knew it would take time because I practiced the concept with one of my work blogs. As I whine about the need to save my old sidebar template tags and reinsert them, I have no one to blame but myself (don't you hate when that happens?) and am trying to convince myself it is a good time to remove things I maybe do not need any longer.

Later that same day....

An hour has passed and the sidebar redesign is complete. With the exception of the Technorati search and my LibraryThing search, I kept most of the original sidebar information and widgets. Now the question remains, do I keep using the Technorati tags in addition to my own blog labels? I'm thinking, yes. Technorati tags connect my blog to other blogs in the "blogosphere" and the internal blog labels connect only to my postings. Though the two may muck up the ending of posts, I'll keep both since they perform different functions.

A quick look outside to the library patio reveals two divergent winter phenomenon; it is snowing (no big surprise) but at 5:10 it is still light. While winter is rearing it's snowy bearings late this year, the signs of spring are evident as daylight lasts a bit longer.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

White Lies

Success! A quick trip to Target resulted in my very own copy of White Lies, by Jayne Ann Krentz (as well as a cute Valentine's outfit for my niece). Last evening I curled up on the sofa, blanket and chocolate in hand, and reflected briefly on a Running With the Quills post yesterday discussing promotions and readers requests for bookmarks (JAK is part of the RWQ blog). Bookmarks? Please. I planned quiet time for devouring the book and would easily finish it without the need for any stinking bookmarks (smile).

White Lies is part of the Arcane Society series JAK is using throughout several of her works. The first book, Second Sight, is an Amanda Quick novel where readers were introduced to the Arcane Society along with the members of the illustrious Jones family. Members of the society have unique paranormal abilities and most of the Jones family are considered "throwbacks" due to their particular hunting traits. Fast forward to the present and meet Clare Lancaster, a "human lie detector" and Jake Salter (Jones), a paranormal hunter and one of "those Joneses." Jake is investigating the latest uprising of an infamous Cabel, first begun in Second Sight, for Jones & Jones. Clare has recently been introduced to her biological father's family and become enmeshed in the mystery/investigation surrounding the death of her sister's husband.

For me, the ensuing mystery is secondary to JAK's characters and the romantic suspense prevalent throughout the book. I was not disappointed. Jake and Clare are another classic Krentz pair smart, strong, funny, and chock full of personality and imperfections. It is laugh out loud funny when Clare continues to refer to Fallon Jones, head of the West Coast branch of J&J and cousin to Jake, "dumb ass" because of his continued disregard for her job applications. Jake and Clare's relationship (can you say sizzle?) and interaction with other characters make for a quick and delightful read. I read it once last evening and will be treating myself to a second read, savoring instead of rushing to the end, soon.

There is no need to be familiar with Second Sight before reading White Lies, both are strong stand alone reads. While it was fun to see how they inter-twined, I was confused a bit by the references to Caleb Jones when it was Gabriel and Venetia Jones, along with the Arcane Society, who were the focus in Second Sight. As an avid reader and fan of Krentz's work, I tend to remember characters from previous books. It was a bit disconcerting to have the dead guy in White Lies be named Brad McAllister. I finally remembered a character in the Eclipse Bay series Brad McAllister and that was why the name was so familiar to me in White Lies. Obviously it didn't detract from the story at hand, but it was a bit quirky. That will teach me to read so much great romantic suspense. Regardless, I can not wait to see where the Arcane Society appears next.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book joy and sorrow

It was with great joy I read my email from JAK News and read the following note from Jayne Ann Krentz:

"At last! For all of you who have been waiting for my new contemporary hardcover, WHITE LIES, I'm delighted to tell you that it goes on sale today --Tuesday, Jan. 23rd. As many of you know, this is the second novel -- and the first contemporary -- in my new ARCANE SOCIETY series. I'm excited, to say the least! You can read more about the story at" (JAK News)

After work I drove to the local Wal-Mart (gag - they are the only place in town) for my copy of White Lies and was seriously disappointed it was not yet on the shelves. Either they are behind in stocking new releases, or they have decided not to carry the title. Now I must practice patience and wait until I have time to go to the local Target, or try again this evening (two days in a row!).

Tags: JAK, Jayne Ann Krentz, Buying White Lies

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Caldecott and Gemini

ALA literary awards were announced yesterday at the midwinter meetings in Seattle. One of the most prestigious awards for children's books, the Caldecott is awarded "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children" (Caldecott Medal, ALA). This year's winner is Flotsam, by David Wiesner and is described on the ALA Caldecott page:

"Flotsam is a cinematic unfolding of discovery. A vintage camera washed up on the beach provides a young boy with a surprising view of fantastical images from the bottom of the sea. From fish-eye to lens-eye, readers see a frame-by-frame narrative of lush marinescapes ebbing and flowing from the real to the surreal." (ALA, Caldecott)

Though not surprised this book was deemed worthy for the award, Flotsam has been a favorite of mine (it's actually checked out to me now to use in a Mock Caldecott session), I was surprised the committee would award Wiesner a third Caldecott medal. Flotsam is a work of art in picture book binding.

It is always a fun exercise finding out if I previously purchased the award winning titles for the library collection, or if we have to wait for the second print run and get them with their ever important award stickers. I really missed the mark with Newbery Medal books, we do not have The Higher Power of Lucky or honor book Penny from Heaven, but I did very well with the remainder of award recipients (Printz, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Seuss Reader, and others). We will only need an award book, or two, and the 2007 Alex Award titles. The Alex Award books are a great way to get adult fiction into the library either as regular circulating and/or recreational reading.

On another note, I finished reading Gemini Summer, by Iain Lawrence at lunch today. I was first intrigued by this title because I have always been interested in the space program, airplanes, and the like. I do not like to fly in them, but movies about the space program (Apollo 13, The Right Stuff, From the Earth to the Moon mini-series), history channel series about the program, or visits to Florida and the cape are a definite draw (I have an old photo with two space shuttles on the launch pad!). This book was a natural for me to read.

Gemini Summer is a story about a family with two young boys that takes place in 1965. Danny and Beau are the sons of Old Man River and Flo and are in many ways typical of boys that age. They are sometimes embarrassed by their parents, Dad cleans septic tanks and Mom is enamored with all things Gone with the Wind. They have school friends, a neighborhood bully, and are interested in the buddy space program. Neatly juxtaposed with normal family happenings is the fact that this is also a time in history where the Vietnam war is looming and Old Man River is digging a hole in the family back yard. Old Man River is digging a hole in their back yard, preparing to make a bunker for the family's safety. Just an oddity with the neighbors, it becomes the sight of a terrible accident. The boys are playing and Beau falls into the hole, fatally wounded.

As the family struggles to deal with Beau's tragic death, Danny finds a stray dog who he believes is the reincarnation of his brother. After a letter arrives for Beau from Gus Grissom, Danny decides he must take Rocket, his brother, to see Gus at the Cape. By the time Danny begins his quest readers will be hooked. However, the sequence of events following Danny adventure as a runaway, including meeting Gus Grissom and being flown home in his T-38 going faster than the speed of sound, will be hard to believe. Realism aside, it is fiction after all, Gemini Summer is full of interesting space facts and believable family readers will understand.

Tags: David Wiesner,Flotsam, 2007 Caldecott, Gemini Summer, Iain Lawrence, Juvenile fiction, ALA

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Multitasking or avoidance?

Resource center scheduling is done, the student are reporting to work as directed, school has started, and we are well on our way to another successful term. Traffic is slow and steady during the beginning of the term. Generally speaking the students in here now are our "regulars" reacquainting themselves with the library and center. It is a prime time to accomplish things languishing on my list. However, I am constantly surprised at the number of tasks that may be completed when I am, essentially, avoiding other projects. Not that what I am doing is irrelevant or unnecessary, but they are at the bottom of my "to-do" list for a reason. Case in point, I have bulletin boards to update.

There has been a blank board in the resource center for several months; covered in green paper, but lacking any form or function. Late last week a Publisher's Weekly email newsletter, Children's Bookshelf, posted an article about the Cat in the Hat's 50th Birthday. A special web site, Happy Birthday Cat in the Hat, has been launched to commemorate and celebrate the event. Various activities are available for teachers, librarians, and kids, including printable worksheets and a way to send birthday wishes to the Cat! And, with the assistance of a GA and student worker, a bulletin board was born. Students are now aware of the birthday, the books we have in the library, and are directed to the web site for more information. Even better, this board can remain until semester's end.

This afternoon I have a brand new School Library Journal (January 2007) for professional reading and juvenile collection development. Choosing children's books, some days I really do love my job.

Tags: Start of a new term, Cat in the Hat's 50th Birthday, Bulletin Boards

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Green Glass Sea

I started reading the winner of the 2007 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, today at lunch. This story takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico beginning in 1943 where readers meet Dewey and Suze, two very different young girls whose parents are scientists in the Los Alamos labs. The girls have no idea the importance or ramifications of the top secret project, but have learned to adjust to the complete secrecy required of everyone who lives there.

Currently about half way finished with this book, I am enjoying the ease and flow of Klages writing style. Dewey, the only daughter of a single father who has been transferred to Los Alamos, is an engaging math nerd with a disability. She defies gender specifications by being a girl who likes math, likes to tinker and build her own projects, and has little interest in "girly" things. Suze, a loner in her own way, is trying hard to fit in with the other girls. Her parents both work on the project and her mother, a "stinker" (chemist) knows Dewey's father from college. The girls know each other from school, but Suze has little time for "screwy Dewey."

Knowing how the Los Alamos project will change the world as Suze and Dewey know it, I look forward to finding out how these very different girls, and their families, cope with the ultimate ramifications of "the gadget."

Update: 1/16/07

As the book moves nearer the final Manhattan Project test at Los Alamos, the relationship between Dewey and Suze begins to subtly alter. Dewey's father is sent on a secret business trip and she moves in with Suze's family. The girls live under a negotiated truce before slowly becoming friends, a transition that is believably handled when Suze (aka Truck) learns she is the target of the same cruel jokes as Dewey. In quick order Dewey's father is killed in a hit and run accident in Washington and residents of "the hill" learn a test date has been set for "the gadget."

Klages captures the glee scientists feel at a job well done and almost carnival atmosphere surrounding the test and it's ultimate success. However, she also subtly details dread felt by the same scientists as they discuss amongst themselves serious repercussions and use of the bomb. As Suze's dad says, "The genie's out of the bottle, Terry. No way to put it back now." (The Green Glass Sea, p. 230). While much of the discussion concerning the Manhattan Project is done by calling it "the gadget," it does not detract from the serious issue at hand. What it does is illustrate the 'open' secrecy demanded of people living and working at Los Alamos during this time.

Klages takes her characters to "Trinity," the spot where the bomb was detonated. Suze and Dewey take a piece of green glass from the site, a phenomenon occurring as crystals were formed after the blast. I found this extremely interesting as the joy of finding the crystals were juxtaposed against the dangerous radiation emitted by the crystals themselves; a fact aptly portrayed by Suze's Dad's Geiger counter. The story ends as the bomb is dropped on Hiroshima and the characters are moving on with their lives, unaware of what has happened.

The dust jacket's back flap notes Klages is working on a follow-up novel to The Green Glass Sea "tentatively titles White Sands, Red Menace."

Tags: The Green Glass Sea, Ellen Klages, Juvenile fiction, Juvenile historical fiction

Taking the high ground, sort of

Roger Sutton, of Read Roger and Horn Book Magazine, posted the winner of the Scott O'Dell award for Historical Fiction (2007) on Friday afternoon. The winner, The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages.
"The award is presented to a children's or young adult book published in English by a U.S. publisher and set in the Americas. A standing committee (Ann Carlson; Hazel Rochman, chair; and Roger Sutton) selects the winner. Established by the late historical fiction writer, Scott O'Dell, the award is administered by his wife, Elizabeth Hall. The author is presented with a $5000 prize." (Read Roger, 1/12/07)
I was pleased to see the announcement since, as usual; I had been perusing the shelves for something to read at lunch. The post itself was interestingly timed because there had been recent discussion on Roger's blog concerning the draw/publicity award winning books get simply because of the proclaiming them to all asunder as award winning. I took a few minutes to search in one of our library database for reviews on the book, noticed they were a bit diverse, and with my curiosity aroused, I searched the catalog. Not only was it I book I had added to our collection, but I was also lucky enough to find it available.

But wait, there's more! After reading the post, I added a quick response stating I was going to go grab the book off of the shelf. Since Read Roger has an interesting and knowledgeable following, I often check the comments later in the day to see what conversations have started. In doing so, I found a lovely comment criticizing my post comment grammar (excuse me?). Let me get it right, I would hate to misquote an anonymous comment. After all, it meant so much to the author they were careful not to sign their name. But, I digress, it said:

"I grabbed it OFF OF the shelf." Don't you people believe in correct English? (For yourselves, I mean. It's OK in novel dialogue.) - anonymous

I really wanted to dash "off" an equally snarky reply stating I would worry about grammar when anonymous had the courage to post using his/her name, but decided another person's professional blog was not the place do so. My own blog, of course, is another matter altogether. There is nothing grammatically incorrect about my statement, "Thanks for the information, I just went out and grabbed this title off of the shelf to read at lunch today." It may not be to everyone's taste. It may very well be colloquial English for that matter, but it is not wrong. Additionally, if I wanted to be picky, and evidently I do, hence this post, he/she should have said "For you, I mean." and not "yourselves."

I certainly hope it made that person feel good to courageously put their name on such a critical piece. Especially a comment that added nothing toward the overall conversation regarding The Green Glass Sea.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

A television commercial break ...

This post falls under that category of "if it interests me, I'll blog" option. I just checked my bloglines feeds and briefly perused a new post from Blogging Project Runway titled, Congratualtions Tim! Laura K. posts Tim Gunn will be getting his own TV show on Bravo (cool) called Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. The Bravo press release says:

"Gunn will use his style expertise to help ordinary people maximize their true fashion potential. Having spent countless years as chair of the Department of Fashion Design mentoring students and budding fashion designers, Gunn will put those same skills to work as he rescues people struggling with everything from a disastrous everyday wardrobe, to a special occasion that demands a revamped look. Gunn has an unmatched skill at helping people deal with any kind of predicament and gets the job done when the state of affairs seems grim." (MBCUMV, 1/12/07)

One of my new summer favorites, Eureka on SciFi, was picked up for thirteen new episodes. I spent some time during lunch looking at their webisodes (a hoot). It kind of helps lessen the pain of Stargate SG-1's imminent demise, so wrong, but bound to increase viewership for the remaining episodes this season. Gateworld has new information on the second half of the season for SG-1, slated to begin in April, because the season has already begun in the UK. Right now I am just glad SciFi has resumed showing old SG-1 episodes each evening.

Last night's episode, Chain Reaction .... "Have you heard of IKEA?"

The Save Stargate SG-1 web site posted in December, from the Gateworld site, that MGM was going to do SG-1 movie franchise straight to DVD.

"The producers announced in October that two SG-1 movies, likely direct-to-DVD, had been greenlit. The first will serve as the climax of the Ori story line, according to executive producer Brad Wright. It will be written by executive producer Robert C. Cooper. The second film will be written by Wright, and is said to deal with time travel." (Gateworld, 12/20/06)

Guess it's better than no SG-1 at all ...

And now I return to my regularly scheduled activities. The new term starts on Monday and I have to finish preparing for a WebCT course I am taking over as an adjunct for the college of education. I also need to finish up an update for my students on Tuesday and begin planning the final phase of the new resource center web page (re: getting it done).

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Across the Alley

As previously mentioned, I am currently suffering not only from children's book withdrawals, but also from a temporary budget freeze stopping newly selected titles from being ordered. I have carts sitting in Baker and Taylor waiting for processing and desparately hope they will be released in a few weeks. In the meantime, I am going through the books chosen for the spring semester Mock Caldecott award session in a children's literature class. Today, I started looking more closely at my selections. Even though they were hastily grabbed as the new book shelf was cleared before the holiday break, I am finding several really lovely titles (both art and story) to review for the resource center book review blog. Today's installment is Across the Alley by Richard Michelson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. I am not familiar with Michelson's work, but have purchased several of Lewis's books for the library juvenile collection including The Bat Boy and his Violin, Night Boat to Freedom, and Coming on Home Soon.

Across the Alley is a poignant story of friendship between two young boys, one Jewish and white, the other African American, highlights this tale set during a time when racial discrimination is prevalent. Willie and Abe live across the alley from each other. Unable to be friends during the day, they talk nightly through their windows, sharing secrets, hopes, and dreams. Willie, whose father once played Negro League baseball, knows how to pitch, teaches Abe to throw a splitter. Abe, who’s Grandpa was a premier violinist, shares the violin with Willie. The boy’s individual talents shine, revealing it is Willie who has an aptitude for the violin and Abe who shows promise with pitching. Soon Willie is invited to play his violin at Synagogue and Abe pitches in a baseball game. Beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations highlight a touching story of friendship without racial boundaries. Grades 1 - 4

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Two new reads

A quick trip to the local snotty wal-mart (sorry, just a quick editorial comment from me because I did not have time to drive to Kmart or Target in neighboring towns and I sincerely dislike the place) and bagged two new fabulous reads. The first, a "Between-the-Numbers" Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich titled Plum Lovin. And the second title is one I've been waiting for, the latest installment by Julie Garwood called Shadow Dance.

Update: 1/10/07

I read Plum Lovin' last evening and, as anticipated, thoroughly enjoyed the madcap adventure featuring the return of Diesel from Evanovich's last "between-the-numbers' book Visions of Sugar Plums. Both Ranger and Morelli are suspiciously absent (out of town and on a police stake out), this Valentine's Day Caper, but Lulu and Tank, Albert and Valerie, Grandma and Bob, and a few romantically challenged patron's of Stephanie's latest bond jumper Annie, make this a holiday to remember in the 'burg.

I bought Shadow Dance without checking to see who was featured, as is often the case when I buy favorite authors, and was pleased to see this is Jordan's book and perennial ladies man Noah Clayborne will make an appearance. Even better, it will include Dylan and Kate's wedding, both featured in Slow Burn, Garwood's previous novel. A definite end of the book reader, I am torturing myself by not checking to see if Noah has met his match in Jordan, or if he is simply joining in the fracas. Time will tell.

Update: 1/15/07

I'm trying to decide if updating a post is better than creating a new one because, hey, it keeps like things together. Or if it is simply laziness on my part. Either way, this update concerns Shadow Dance. I finished reading on Friday evening and was not disappointed because it fulfilled my expectations of what a new Julie Garwood book should be. The book opens at Kate and Dylan's wedding where both Jordan and Noah are in attendance. When Jordan and Noah converse, hidden sparks begin to fly. Jordan meets professor MacKenna (far-flung relation) who has been conversing via email with Kate's youngest sister Isabel regarding a family history he has been compiling. Jordan offers to copy the professor's notes for Isabel and finds herself following a mystery regarding MacKenna and Buchanan family history that places her in the middle of small town scandle, deception, and murder. As with all of the Garwood novels featuring the Buchannan family (praise be there are so many of them), for me the mystery pales in comparison to the relationship between her characters. Though I would like to see her leading men call her women something more substantial than "sugar" on occasion, Jordan and Noah were delightful. In fact, I have already read it twice.

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Playing favorites

I know it is probably wrong to admit I have favorite professors, but it is the unvarnished truth. I have mentioned before how great it is to have a viable working relationship with faculty in the College of Education and my most enduring relationships continue to be with children's literature professors. From the semester annual Mock Caldecott sessions (coming soon - the Mock session and the actual announcement) to simple resource center visits, anything that gets students into the library works in my favor. I do, however, have a soft spot for a particular faculty member. When I was hired he was department chair and the best faculty resource I could hope to have. Now, he's back in the classroom working his magic.

Last spring he called and asked my opinion of a new assignment he was proposing to use with his students (I know I have discussed this before, but it is worth repeating). I looked through his syllabus, added a few comments, and offered to put together pathfinders for his students to use. I incorporated the information into his beginning of the term semester tour and often worked individually with his students when they came into to library. One of the reasons this faculty member stands out is easily illustrated with his visit today. He brought to me three portfolio's of completed assignments to view, apologized for not bringing more because he did not feel they were up to par with work they could accomplish, and asked me to look them over and tell him what I thought.

Quite exceptional.

It is not all that unusual to have an instructor solicit your assistance, even expertise, for a class project. It is unusual to have them share the results. This afternoon, acutaly momentarily, I have three completed assignments to view. One of them was written by a student who works for me in the resource center.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Crisis averted ... wireless access points

During the last two days a technician from IT has been working on the resource center computers, general updates, installation of missing drivers that enable color printing from Excel, and re-establishing the ghost image to include Print Shop on all of our Gateway computers (I do not have enough licenses for the newer Dells). It is a relief to have these things done during winter break and have everything bright and shiny for the new term beginning after the MLK holiday. I was particularly grateful to have her here yesterday when a student technician installed a new wireless access point on the second floor.

I spoke to the young man before leaving for lunch and he told me he was installing the hardware and we would see a significant increase in our wireless capability. I had no complaints about the current access, but a new/stronger access point on this floor will be nice for students working on this floor. When I returned from lunch, fully sated and caffeine in hand, "my" technician asked me if I realized the access point had rendered one of the computer useless. Hello! I don't think so. That is something I would have remembered and definitely questioned. At the very least, I would have suggested using one of two inaccessible (the floor leaks by one and the other is in a doorway) ports inside the resource center. I have fifteen computers on this floor used constantly, without fail, day in and day out. The last thing I want is to lose one of them.

I was advised to call IT and question placement of the access point and request a change be made. When I got a help desk employee, who did his best to understand, the technician in the resource center took over and asked to speak to the lead client support specialist who immediately (really, it was only minutes) came over to look at the situation. Within a half an hour I was assured the problem would be dealt with today.

Happy, happy, joy, joy .... it was.

Talk about service; before lunch the same young man came over and installed what appears to be a splicer/splitter of some sort. The access point and computer in question are now sharing an available port. I have all of my computers updated, running with new ghost images, hooked to the university network, and a new access point allowing students using laptops to have better wireless network connections. It would have been several days until I turned on that system and noted the problem. After climbing under the table and investigating the problem, I would have been seriously unhappy and sending out help tickets. Thank heavens my technician (she is assigned to the resource center and does fabulous work for us) noticed what was going on and utilized definite trouble-shooting steps. Heaving a big sigh of relief.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wake up, Henry Rooster!

Alas, I have not taken a book to lunch in many a day and hope to change that practice in just a few minutes. This morning has been spent cleaning off the various stacks from my work area, deleting email, reading email, and completing the most hated task of the new year, scheduling graduate assistants and student workers for the upcoming semester. It is always a challenge to make their availability correspond to adequate coverage for the resource center. Unfortunately, we are currently in a bit of a purchasing funk at work. Though I have several carts prepared, they will not be submitted until the end of the month. That makes finding books to read and review a bit difficult. Luckily, there are always a few titles trickling into the library. That said, today's entry is Wake up, Henry Rooster written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Sean Cassidy.

Henry Rooster has a problem, he likes to stay up all night and sleep during the day. His father bemoans Henry’s odd sleeping habit, but his mother explains, “Henry’s just not a morning rooster.” One morning Henry’s father leaves for a Roosters’ Union Convention and assigns Henry the task of waking up the farmer while he is gone. Mayhem follows soon after as Henry struggles to find his own way of waking the farm at dawn without giving up late night fun. A wise old goat’s advice presents an unusual twist to the final resolution of Henry’s problem. Lively illustrations of Henry’s messy room, his gray shadowed gloomy demeanor trying to raise the sun after a particularly long night, and his fun blue sneakers worn to skateboard with the horses, are among the many humorous details that highlight this book. A fun read aloud, children will relate to Henry’s antics.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A happier new year

I was lucky enough to get good, actually wonderful, news yesterday regarding my mother's health. Though still in intensive care (week six) she is taking small steps towards recovery and New Year's Day marked her removal from the ventilator. Definite reason to celebrate.

There are a few books on my shelf muttering my name and a recent buget issue has put spending for new books on hold for the next few weeks. Selections have been made and I have the newest issues of Booklist and School Library Journal to peruse this afternoon as I continue to plow through work looming in a towering pile on my work surface.

Book talk to come in the next few days.

Happy New Year!