Monday, May 26, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blog Holiday

Tomorrow I leave for a week's vacation out of state to celebrate birthdays, visit with friends and family, and watch some playoff hockey. Vacation for me also means a vacation from technology, so it's a blog holiday as well. With the exception of a Memorial Day post I have scheduled for Monday, the next post here will not be until June.

Happy unofficial beginning of the summer vacation/travel season.

Just think, a month from now I'll be packing for the ALA Conference in Anaheim (and paying an extra $15 for my checked bag ... puh-lease).

Baby you can drive my car ...

Today was a welcome professional development day for me; the annual IG spring workshop for resource center librarians. Road trip! The morning drive to Columbus was bereft of craziness, even with orange barrels and endless instances of bridge construction. Seems many people took today as a vacation day, part of their memorial day weekend. Unfortunately everyone who was at work left early and the mad rush home was a driving challenge.

On the plus side, I cut half an hour from my trip time and I was able to amuse myself observing the other drivers and my surroundings. I saw:
  • a pink Mary Kay Cadillac (really, it said Mary Kay on the car)
  • an abandoned motorcycle and helmet
  • incessant brake lights from the Michigan driver of the black Dodge caravan in front of me who didn't get the concept of simply taking his foot off of the brake to slow down
  • only three state police cars
  • a tow truck hauling a fire truck
  • a low flying red airplane
  • license plates from Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New York, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia, Maine, Illinois, Kentucky, and Oregon

All in all an enjoyable day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Debbie Harry Sings in French

Debbie Harry Sings in French, by author Meagan Brothers offers readers a fresh coming-of-age novel. After his father's death, Johnny takes care of his mother and ultimately becomes the adult performing necessary mundane tasks of grocery shopping, paying bills, and getting a job when the money is gone. Self described as "just sort of there," he has always been a bit different; not a Goth, Johnny enjoys the flamboyance of their style; not interested in drugs, he takes an adults solace in alcohol and music. This lifestyle choice takes a nightmare toll, a near fatal accident with drugs and alcohol that provides his mother with a wake-up call.

Sent to live with his Uncle Sam and cousin Bug, Johnny is enrolled in a private school hoping just to survive the year and graduate. Johnny bonds with Maria, a fellow prep-school outsider with the same taste in music. In love with Maria, Johnny struggles with understanding his own sexuality and inherent enjoyment of dressing in drag. The teens forge a complicated relationship based on friendship, music, love, and acceptance. Uncle Sam provides a stable father figure and introduces Johnny to a different side of his father, letting him know they are more alike than he ever imagined.

I admit the title of this book is what intrigued me to take it from the cart. I remember Deborah Harry and Blondie in the infancy of MTV (Call Me, Heart of Glass, and Rapture) and wondered how it would work in a contemporary novel without becoming campy. It works nicely; this novel is a wonderful, truthful, and quirky look at how teenagers view themselves, authority, parents, and their sexuality.

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Beware the Penguins!

Perusing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for Penguins news before gleefully fleeing the building for lunch, I took a few minutes to read the Empty Netter's blog post First One's There. Towards the bottom of the post is a link to the Detroit News cyber quiz: All about penguins. And Penguins. I got four out of seven, nothing to brag about here, but embedded within the quiz was a YouTube video from Bud Ice, Beware the Penguins.

I had forgotten how hysterical these spots were, especially the one based upon the movie When a Stranger Calls ("the calls are coming from inside the house!). Without further ado, or should I say doobi, doobi, do, here are a few of the classics - Beware the Penguins!

Bud Ice Penguin - When a Stranger Calls

Bud Ice Penguin - 1996 Commercial

Bud Ice Penguin Farmhouse

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There is something strange, almost sinister, surrounding recent happenings at Ludlow house in Banesville. A few citizens reporting ghostly sightings is not of great concern. But combined with town newcomer Madame Zobek's ominous gloom and doom predictions, a sudden influx of advertising cash at the local newspaper, a decrease in The Bee's factual reporting, the purported influx of spirit activity is as unsettling as the ugly rumors of eminent domain circulating amongst local apple farmers.

In Peeled, by Newbery Honor author Joan Bauer, Hildy Biddle is a reporter for the school newspaper The Core who is looking for the truth. While the old adage truth will out seem appropriate, Hildy's questions make a great number of people nervous. When The Core staff gets a new faculty advisor they begin to investigate; only to be silenced by school administration and forced to suspend publication of their newspaper. Determined, Hildy and her friends start and underground newspaper and move forward to uncover a conspiracy that threatens the very life blood of Banesville, apple farms.

Hildy is a classic Joan Bauer heroine, full of life and purpose and surrounded by a cast of engaging characters. No one here is perfect, that's what makes the story ring true; subtle shades of gray surrounding good and bad. Fans of Bauer's previous novels, me included, have another treat in store for them, and Peeled should bring a few more fans to the table.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Most Excellent Year

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger is at heart a creative writing/journaling project by three quirky teenage narrators. High school juniors, avid Red Sox fan TC and charismatic Augie, have been best friends, brothers in every way but by blood, since the death of TC's mom when he was six years old. Their extended family includes TC's dad who is starting to date and Augie's parents. The third member of this unlikely trio is Alejandra, also known as Ale, privileged daughter of an ambassador whose best friend is her secret service agent Clint. Their English assignment is to journal their most excellent year. What keeps this book from being an average diary entry novel is the variety of mixed media entries; IM, journal entries, letters, email, and text messages are the backbone of the novel.

TC writes to his mother, Augie writes to Broadway stars Liza Minelli and Julie Andrews, and Ale addresses much of her journal to Jacqueline Kennedy. Not to be left out, TC's dad and the school guidance counselor text and email, Augie's dad and TC's dad exchange email, and pithy theater reviews from Augie's mother are included. As the novel progresses requisite obstacles are met and overcome with sometimes hilarious and often touching results. Though at times it seems too good to be true, TC and his dad adopting young orphan Hucky and their whirl-wind visit to New York city, good characterization keeps it from becoming sappy. This is a well paced, enjoyable, and charming, character driven coming-of-age novel.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Will I have to get Versus?

For the first time in years, I believe it is 16 or 17 (will have to look that tidbit of information up for verification), the Pittsburgh Penguins are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals! Yes, I do remember seeing the first Stanley Cup win against the then Minnesota North Stars. Interestingly enough, that team franchise is now the Dallas Stars, one of the two teams left competing for the finals. What fun to have a full circle and play Dallas.

Once the Indians finished playing baseball yesterday afternoon, I was able to view the end of the second period and all of the third yesterday afternoon on NBC. Even having to listen to the bozo announcers (could Mike Milbury be more annoying? think maybe he coached at Boston and NY when the Pens were dominant with Lemeuix and company? maybe someday the word "embellished" will be removed from his vocabulary.... but, I digress) was enjoyable to watch.

First, the calls on YouTube:

Pens and Geno Crush Flyers! Reach Cup Final! May 18, 2008

PHI vs PIT (Game 5, 5-18-08) (Malkin Scores)
... It's Mike Lange

And, just because I can, a third clip ...

Top Ten Mike Lange Signature Calls

Last, but not least, here are a few links to articles about yesterday's games:

And I promise, even with tonight being the Dancing with the Stars two-part season finale, I do have two juvenile book posts in the wings.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm Independent - go figure

Your Independence Level: High

You are extremely self reliant and autonomous.

You are definitely into doing your own thing.

But you also wouldn't turn down help if you needed it.

You follow your own path, but you don't do so blindly.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pens vs Flyers, game 3

Apologies to non-hockey fans .... Woo-hooo! The Pens have a three games to none lead over the hated Flyers. Some day, maybe actually in my lifetime, ESPN will take a break from their copious coverage of NBA to actually show Stanley Cup Playoff highlights. Until then, YouTube seems to be the highlight video resource of choice for displaced Pen's fans without VS.

YouTube: Mike Lange: Malkin Playoff Goal 8 (shg)

YouTube: Highlights: Penguins vs Flyers Game 3 2008 Playoffs

Links to Penguins 2008 Stanley Cup Coverage:

Monday, May 12, 2008

California here I come

After a significant amount of personal (family) and professional (waiting to hear about presenting and a conference grant) dithering and dragging of feet, Thursday afternoon I registered for the ALA Conference in Anaheim. It was not without issue, despite what the ALA conference flyer in my mailbox that afternoon touted; thousands of hotel rooms in walking distance of the Anaheim Convention Center?

I spent a great deal of time on Wednesday with Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, AAA, and researching (hunting) flights and available hotels close to my travel budget and the convention center. I cross-checked results with flight time, airlines and airports, ultimately settling on a flight and location. With the hotel available through four of the five travel sites, I decided to wait until Thursday to place my reservation (I had the wrong credit card with me at work). Imagine my infinite joy Thursday morning when the hotel in question was sold out with all five of the travel sites I visited on Wednesday.

I started over on Thursday afternoon ultimately selecting a travel package Expedia, American Airlines (shortest & least expensive flight from Columbus International Airport) and the Anaheim Plaza Hotel. In a lucky circumstance, as I was making the reservation a notice from Expedia popped up saying "good news, the cost of your flight has just been lowered" and I saved close to $100! Woo-hoo, I will take that without any problem.

I have an airline reservation with a short layover at O'Hare (wish me luck), a room reservation (walking distance to the convention center), and conference registration (made just in time to get a small advance discount) with the added Librarians Build Communities option for Friday afternoon. I will need more than one book for the flight, usually the latest Stephanie Plum novel Fearless Fourteen from Janet Evanovich, and updated tunes for my MP3 player, good thing I have Pepsi Stuff points.

I wonder if the post title should say "ready or not?"

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

End of the spring 08 semester

Today is the last day of finals. Fewer and fewer students are in the library as the last final is, I believe, scheduled no later than 4 pm this afternoon. Students are required to be out of the dorms by 10:00 am tomorrow. Graduating seniors have until 5:00 pm on Saturday (after graduation). Parking is at a premium today as a wide variety of student and parent cars line nearby driveways and parking lots adjacent to dorms as they drag everything home for three months.

I had a lot of task-oriented things to complete this morning; resource center signs for summer hours, updating web pages with summer hours, updating chat/im services with summer hours, and another budget check is on my list. My student workers finished last evening at 11:00 pm (regular closing time) and I have a GA scheduled to work until 4:00 pm this afternoon. I plan on letting her leave after I finish lunch as there is really no need for her to remain if I cover the resource center for a couple of hours.

My agenda this afternoon is comprised of finding a hotel and flight for ALA. I have been dragging my feet somewhat on this project since due to family matters I was not sure of attending. Money came through from the university, enough to pay for part of the cross country trek, and I should be able to swing the rest of the costs. Contrary to AL Direct this morning, most of the ALA conference hotels are toast. I am concentrating on hotels near the conference center and close to an ALA hotel so I may catch a shuttle when necessary. I have choices narrowed to three different hotels and just need to make a final decision. After several years of flying out of Columbus, this particular trip is less expensive if I fly from Cleveland. Go figure.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Nora: The Hollow

A quick stop at Drug Mart this afternoon reaped rewards far beyond a sale bag of Hershey's Bliss (milk chocolate with a melt-away center) as my inevitable stroll down the book aisle revealed Nora Roberts most recent entry in her Sign of Seven Trilogy, The Hollow. The second book in the series, it is Fox and Layla's story; check out an excerpt for The Hollow on Nora's web site.

"For Fox, Caleb, Gage and the other residents of Hawkins Hollow, the number seven portends doom—ever since, as boys, they freed a demon trapped for centuries when their blood spilled upon The Pagan Stone…

Their innocent bonding ritual led to seven days of madness, every seven years. And now, as the dreaded seventh month looms before them, the men can feel the storm brewing. Already they are plagued by visions of death and destruction. But this year, they are better prepared, joined in their battle by three women who have come to The Hollow. Layla, Quinn, and Cybil are somehow connected to the demon, just as the men are connected to the force that trapped it.

Since that day at The Pagan Stone, town lawyer Fox has been able to see into others’ minds, a talent he shares with Layla. He must earn her trust, because their link will help fight the darkness that threatens to engulf the town. But Layla is having trouble coming to terms with her newfound ability—and this intimate connection to Fox. She knows that once she opens her mind, she’ll have no defenses against the desire that threatens to consume them both…" -- 5/7/08, The Hollow, Website for Nora Roberts

I am looking forward to an evening of relaxation and milk chocolate tidbits. I'll have to finish some laundry along the way, but that will not interfere with my enjoyment. More later ...

A thank you

It is easy to get caught up in the day to day responsibilities of any job, even more so at the end of an academic year when the pressures often coincide with some of the joys related to working in an academic library. A few weeks ago a student came to me with a thoughtful and charming request; an instructor was leaving the university and her class wanted to place a book in the library's juvenile collection in honor of her accomplishments. I was thrilled to accommodate their request and appreciated they would come to me for help.

We decided the students would purchase a juvenile book that would be of interest to others taking their class block in the future. They purchased two copies of Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand, one for the library and one for their instructor that each student would sign. I nagged (smile) the technical services staff to push this item to the front of their cart, catalog the title, and add a library bookplate to the inside cover. I wrote a letter on official library letterhead to the professor informing her of the donation, naming each students, thanking her for her service to the university and library, and then had it signed by the library director. We were all pleased with the outcome, especially on such short notice. It was fun to be a part of their celebration of this teacher's accomplishments.

Today, I recieved the nicest thank-you note signed by all of the students in the class. They thanked me personally, but this was icing on the cake.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Collaboration not capitulation

Midway into finals week, where hope and campus flowers spring eternal, blooms a library web committee meeting. As pondered last Tuesday in the post Introspection, maybe it's me, I had a private meeting with the library director last Wednesday morning (April 30th). I spent time trouble-shooting a problem with Contribute and then broached my solution to the stagnate web page progress.

The offer to remove myself from the committee was at first met with the very fair reminder he attempted to do just that the previous week. I calmly disagreed stating that offering to remove myself from the process at this juncture differed greatly from being told my opinion and observations were superfluous.

This is where I insert a comment regarding the open door policy employed by my boss. Because of this, I was secure in the knowledge he would listen to what I had to say with an open mind and know I meant no disrespect (ie: I was not being a smart ass). While I may disagree with him at times regarding this project, it will get my best effort.

We talked for thirty to forty-five minutes and I presented my plan for the committee to move forward without me for the next several weeks. In a telling moment of humor he was taken aback I had bullet points and a full word document as notes, I don't know why, but it helped make the atmosphere conducive to continuing discussion. I left the office on Wednesday morning with his assurance he would consider my proposal and we would meet again on Monday (yesterday).

In the meantime, I updated our collection of sample pages with information from our meeting and continued to move forward with as much of the web design process as deemed possible. Other members of the web committee talked with me regarding their discontent; I suggested they talk with the director and/or be prepared to speak up. I do not mind taking the cranky lead, but if changes are to be made everyone has to contribute comments, suggestions, and opinions (one and the same).

Yesterday the decision was made that I remain with the committee. As promised, I abided by the ruling. Without betraying confidences, I mentioned the dissatisfaction other members were feeling and said my biggest concern was that this web page remained a collaboration, not a capitulation. Everyone's opinion is needed and we should not go with whoever talks the longest and loudest just to shut up and move on.

Today ... progress was made.

It was just a baby step; but it was a baby step forward.

Now? It is time for Dancing with the Stars 100th episode.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Greetings from Nowhere

Agnes Duncan’s heart- wrenching decision to sell the Sleepy Time Motel is the impetus for change in Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor. The recent passing of her beloved husband, coupled with mounting bills, constant repairs, and a lack of customers, forces Aggie to list her home and small hotel in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina for sale. Aggie’s advertisement is read by Clyde Dover, a father looking for a fresh start with his daughter Willow, who soon purchases the hotel. The Dover family’s pending arrival is preceded by the first real customer’s the Sleepy Time Motel has had in a long time. Loretta Murphy and her family arrive on a family vacation retracing steps in a keepsake box her birth mother has bequeathed. Kirby Tanner is on his way to the disciplined Smokey Mountains Boy’s Academy with his mother when their car breaks down near the Motel. Aggie, Willow, Loretta, and Kirby are each struggling with changes wrought in their lives, looking for answers to life questions and trying to understand where to go from here. What they find is friendship and understanding from an unlikely source, each other.

I enjoyed reading this book; characters are believable, maturation of the characters within the story was well concieved, and the author resisted the temptation for a standard happily-ever-after. Readers will enjoy the story's journey as well as it's realistic conclusion. For more information, see the author's blog: Greetings from Nowhere and website. When I viewed it (several weeks ago), Greetings from Nowhere was not included, however there are Teacher and Discussion Guides.

Update: 5/2/08

Thanks to the comment from Barbara O'Connor, I am updating the above information to include a link to the new teachers guide for Grettings from Nowhere. Also on the site, along with reviews and a book synopsis, is a book trailer. Cool.

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The Flip Flop Test

It's karma, another Blogthings test I could not, in fact did not even try, to resist. There were several extended conversations yesterday in the resource center and library about flip flops (I learned a good place for inexpensive and cute ones is Old Navy). What can I say, I work with a lot of women.

What Your Flip Flops Say
About You

You live to have fun, and your sense of humor is downright goofy.

You are a big kid on the inside, and you have a very open heart.

You try to make every day feel like a vacation, even if you have other responsibilities.

Each day, you make a little bit of time to play and let loose.

Your ideal warm weather place: Disney World

Interesting that my ideal warm weather place is Disney World. Yesterday I recieved word my professiional development grant was accepted and I recieved funding for the ALA conference in Anaheim. It is not a lot, but definitely will offset some of the travel and hotel costs. I finally took a good look at the hotel situation and noticed the convention center is near Disneyland.

Better get me a pair of green flip flops to take along!