Archive for the ‘Completely Off Bookish Topics’ Category

A few days ago my *other* blog was nominated in the category of Best Librarian Blog. The funny thing is, I hardly talk about libraries at all there, and here sits my true library blog, waiting patiently.

They call that IRONY.

I think my big problem with consistently blogging here lies partly with the admittedly universal difficulty of achieving a balance between work, home, reading and writing about reading. It really takes tremendous energy reading with the intention of writing about it, at least if you plan to say more than “I liked it.” or “It sucked.”

Then having a family, on top of it all? Clearly one of the two needs to go (and my daughter’s been pretty annoying lately)(she’s 16, need I say more?). Think of all the time I’d have then! Staggers the imagination. And their rooms! All the books lying on various tables and floors could be housed in bookcases if only I had, say, two spare rooms to work with. Wish you could see the gleam in my eye… It’s touching to behold.

In MLIS news, I got my diploma in the mail last week! I’m officially sheep skinned, or, as I call it, a “real” wage earner. Ah, at last. No more paraprofessional for me, no sir, but what a great foot in the door that was, little did I know.

Don’t know if I’ll attend the graduation ceremony. It’s in May, even for we December grads. Being a distance student and all, it’s not like it was as an undergrad when I got drunk with knew so many people. A couple people I know may be there, but will it really feel like a graduation?

I was a returning student, after all. Not the only post-30 by far, but not one of the young ‘uns, either. If I’m going to feel like I could pass for everyone else’s mother I’m not so sure I want to be a part of that. I know, I know, if I go I could stand up for the rights of returning students, championing the cause of changing direction mid-life, and isn’t that blah, blah… But couldn’t someone else do that, instead?

Just asking.

Anyway, I am now a 100 %, bonafide, sheep skin wielding librarian, with all the duties and privileges thereof. I am, dear people, Librarian, step 1. I’m also employed, something else the other people on the graduation stage may not look on with much relish.

Yes, maybe I should just stay home where things are relatively safe, gazing fondly at my diploma while mentally re-arranging my children’s rooms. Sounds like a good plan to me.

I.
Am.
Totally.
And.
Completely.
JEALOUS.

I’m running away this weekend, going on a retreat to a hermitage in northern Illinois. There’ll be no turkey for me this year, no cranberries and no sweet potatoes, either. I’ve elected to pack up and hit the road, travelling to a place called Christ in the Wilderness, located in Stockton, IL.

Christ in the Wilderness, despite the obvious religious inference, isn’t about religion per se. It’s a retreat located on forested acres, a place to be solitary and get back to nature. The hermitage features modern cabins, equipped with small kitchens, a bathroom with a shower, a bedroom and a small living room area. The cabin I’m staying in also has a screened porch, though I can’t count on the weather cooperating well enough for me to use that perk.

The main purpose of the weekend will be to get away from it all, and spend four days in complete solitude. The forested land will provide me with more hiking than I’ll ever possibly want, and if the weather’s good I’ll hopefully get some decent photos of the Apple River Canyon area.

It’s been a busy year, to put it mildly. Four days of resting and recharging are just what the doctor ordered. I’ll be doing some reading and some writing, but mostly I’ll be getting away from it all.

I’ll let you know if I recommend the place, once I’m back and readjusted to urban life. I understand there are no dangerous wild animals around the area, so barring any unfortunate episodes I predict it will all go well.

Enjoy the holiday, and may your turkey be plump. All the best to you and yours this Thanksgiving weekend.

If you’ve paid any attention to my past rants (and if you haven’t WHY NOT?), I’ve always been pretty consistently down on TV as an unacceptable way to spend time. Whine, whine, whine, “people don’t read enough because they’re always watching stoopid TV.” What are they thinking, don’t they all see? They’re ruining their brains!

Now it’s time for me to come clean. I’m Lisa, and I’m addicted to ’24.’

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It started out pretty simply. Realizing I’m a pop culture illiterate (embarrassingly so) I decided to watch one episode, to see what everyone seemed to think was SO GREAT. Nine times out of ten that gives me a reason to sneer and feel superior, because I’m so almighty immune to TV addiction. Blah, blah, blah.

But then one episode became two. Then “just one more” made it three. Suddenly, there were frantic calls home (since I take my daughter to theatre classes on Monday nights and can’t be in front of the TV) to my husband with the plaintive cry, “DON’T FORGET TO RECORD 24!!!” (sub-text, “Or I’ll harm you”).

I’m not proud. No, not proud at all. I can admit when I’m beaten.

’24’ has definitely left a mark on me. It’s given me a new edge of paranoia I haven’t had since 9/11. Though embarrassing to admit in public, the entertainment value’s just way too high not to tell you my story about how this program has gotten into my brain, leading me to act irrationally paranoid. Either I don’t have enough of a monitor on things that should be kept quiet, or I’m just way too fond of a good story to know when to shut up. The jury’s out on that one. Here’s my story, in all its weirdness:

I was awoken out of a half-sleep a few weeks ago (the most recent episode of ’24,’ in which a nuclear bomb was detonated in Los Angeles, still obviously on my mind), by a horrific noise outside. It sounded like a jet cruising right down the street, so low I thought (in my bleary state) it was crashing. Not one to panic alone, I woke my husband with the dire tale about the jet that was quite obviously doomed. Right here. In Algonquin. Where, of course, every terrorist dreams of striking. We heard the the horrible sound repeated, this time with the flash of orange light any rational person would associate with the crash of a jet airliner in close proximity. Right? RIGHT?! That’s completely rational.

Pulses pounding. Hearts racing. Then it hit the both of us, pretty much at the same time.

“Umm. It’s a snow plow.”

Horrific noise. Flashing lights. Not terrorism, but a snow plow.

At least I know my fight-or-flight response is well-honed.

Now, the family makes sure to let me know when a plane’s crashing outside. Coincidentally, that seems to happen pretty unfailingly on snowy days. I think that’s mighty considerate of them, don’t you?

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MyGoodDeed.org

Posted: September 7, 2006 in Completely Off Bookish Topics

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The 5-year anniversary of 9/11 is looming, just days away. To observe the anniversary, MyGoodDeed.org is issuing a challenge to all Americans.

Go to MyGoodDeed.org and register a good deed you plan to do on 9/11, in memory of those who died. It’s one way to help transform a grim anniversary into a day of goodness and hope.

Some suggestions for things you could pledge:

Donate to the Make a Wish Foundation

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Donate blood or give money to the American Red Cross to use for disaster relief

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Join the bone marrow donor registry via the National Marrow Donor Program. It’s no more difficult to join than giving blood, and in fact it requires less blood to be typed for marrow donation than you give for blood donation. I’ve been on the registry for several years now, but so far I haven’t been a match for anyone in need.

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Donate some of your time and volunteer at a local retirement home, or Boys & Girls Club.

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Give to the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association or the charity of your choice.

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Whatever you give, it will feel very good to do something positive when the anniversary of 9/11 rolls around again. It’s really easy to be cynical, or to feel the impulse to ignore what seems politically motivated, but giving to a worthy cause is a good thing every day.

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Have anything planned for the long holiday weekend?

If not, I have a suggestion for you and it’s only about a four hour drive away. Why not attend the annual Arthur Cheese Festival in Arthur, IL?

Even if cow chip throwing isn’t your thing, the ceremonial cutting of the cheese is not to be missed. Of course I mean the ceremonial cutting of the 300-lb wheel of cheese, presided over by local celebrity Miss Slice. I think I can guarantee a toe-CURDling good time will be had by all this weekend at the Arthur Cheese Festival in Arthur, IL.

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After you’ve enjoyed a slice of cheese may I suggest a visit to a quilt shop or two? Amish quilts aren’t only gorgeous. They’re also a piece of genuine Americana. Pricey, yes, but they’ll last forever. Even if you aren’t in the market to buy, though, you can have a good look at these beautiful works of art.

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Arthur is the town I grew up in, and it’s located in the heart of Illinois Amish Country. While I’ll admit growing up there it seemed the place was about as entertaining as watching corn grow (and there was a lot of opportunity for doing that), now it seems one of the most charming and bucolic places on earth. After having lived in Chicago suburbia for twenty years, going back to Arthur gives me a chance to exhale and decompress. The pace is slower there, and the traffic definitely less challenging. The worst traffic congestion there happens when a buggy doesn’t give you right-of-way. It’s a whole different world.

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I appreciated the charm of watching buggies go by as a child, but the Amish had so little contact with we “English” it seemed a bit offensive. We did take it personally, silly as that sounds now. It drove a wedge between Amish and English, which is something they really encourage. They aren’t hermits, and don’t cut themselves off entirely (they need the commerce too desperately to do that), but too much mixing isn’t perceived as a very good thing. Knowing they thought us inferior, sinful and overly-worldly didn’t lend itself to very much positive feeling, growing up. A person takes exception to that.

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There was one Amish child in my class in school. He attended with us through junior high. That’s as long as the Amish children tend to go to school. They’re only there to get enough education to ensure they’ll be literate, generally educated, and have basic math skills. Generally they attend their own one room schools, but for some reason this boy, Willard, attended with the English. He received a lot of abuse in his years with us, shamefully, at the hands of the bullies who singled out anyone who was different. Being Amish painted a target on the poor kid’s back, and I really don’t know why he stood for some of the treatment he got. Maybe it was a lesson to him, that life with the English would lead to a lot of heartache and unhappiness. Whatever the reason, I’m sure he was glad enough to leave when the time came.

Martha Stewart featured Arthur in one of her programs. She did a program on the Great Pumpkin Patch in the rural Arthur area. You may have caught that on TV, but if you didn’t something tells me you can buy a video of it somewhere in Arthur. I have a strong feeling that’s the case, as it’s not every day this tiny town is featured on national TV.

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Even if you don’t make it down for the Cheese Festival, I heartily recommend Arthur as a getaway destination that’s not too far to do in a weekend. There’s actually a lot there, for such a small town, and the Amish area covers a few other small communities that feature their own share of charm and recreation.

Rockome Gardens (Arcola, IL) is one of the necessary stops. If you can imagine a rural Amish amusement park this is about as close as anything gets to that. There are also shops (Amish and non), plenty of restaurants and even a few hotels in Arthur, Arcola and Tuscola. Tuscola is along I-57 and also features an outlet mall, in case getting that far away from suburbia gives you the jitters and makes you have shopping withdrawal.

Keep this in mind when you feel the need to get away, and maybe I’ll see you there.

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This has been an extraordinarily rich week for news stories. It’s been so huge the media may not even have a need to embellish anything. That’s a gift they don’t get every week. They’re putting their feet up at Weekly World News, scratching their heads wondering if they’ll even have jobs next week. They should take comfort knowing there are always aliens landing in remote, rural areas, not to mention the likely impending birth of more than one three-headed cow. It’ll be okay.

Even without going into the whole JonBenet wierdness there’s still an awful lot of blogger fodder. I can hear the airwaves humming as I type. The highlights below only scratch the surface of what’s been thrown around the blogosphere this week.

Jumpin’ Jupiter!

plutodog.jpgHave you heard?

Astronomers this week decided to kick Pluto out of the planet club. Apparently they’ve decided it no longer meets the definition of what makes a planet. It’s been in doubt for a while, so this wasn’t very shocking news. However, this will send textbook publishers and other informational sources back to the presses in order to make the correction.

I broke the news about Pluto to my children yesterday, and my astronomy expert middle child informed me, “But mom, they decided one of Pluto’s moons is a planet, so we still have nine. And didn’t they just discover more planets?”

Can’t put anything over on that boy! That’s why he’s our official family memory bank and fact checker. The child can remember baseball scores from games we attended three years ago, as well as defining plays in the games (extrapolating all of this out to compare the performance of specific players when they were playing for other teams, and how their performance has risen or declined since being traded). I have trouble recalling what I had for dinner yesterday.

I think this child will be going places.

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Bringin’ Home the Bacon

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In other news, there was a huge flap this week regarding an article published in Forbes magazine telling men to avoid marrying career women, as they’re apparently more likely to: a). not want to have children, b). leave them for another man, c). be slovenly housekeepers, and d). be more strong and self-assured, thus more threatening to the ego of some small-minded men.

Okay, that last bit was my own editorial comment.

As hard as women have worked through the centuries to achieve equality or at least recognition, it’s galling reading something like this Forbes article. That a national magazine of this stature would publish something so blatantly misogynist is really shocking, and this is in a world where there’s not an awful lot out there that seems shocking anymore.

But there’s good to be had from this. It acts to bring gender equality issues to the foreground, essentially rallying the troops. People are thinking about the issue, and debating it heatedly on both sides. It may also lead some to see there’s a grain of truth to the author’s premise, even if he does take it in a very misguided direction. There’s something he’s most definitely missing, and it’s a glaring omission.

In Elizabeth Corcoran’s rebuttal to the original article by Michael Noer she makes the point I immediately thought of when I heard about the article in the first place. The fact career women do divorce more often may be because they’re able to. Simply put, they have the resources to stand on their own feet, so when they find themselves in an unhappy marital situation they actually CAN leave. Women without these resources don’t have this option, which is something Noer doesn’t even take into account. Just a bit of a slanted article, which makes it even more striking seeing this published in a venue like Forbes.

You can read both opinions here. If you feel strongly about the matter let Forbes know. They’ve been inundated already, but it may make YOU feel better.

Saints Alive!

Finally, something entirely weird.

miranda_1.jpg This man says he’s Jesus returned.

Not sure I really need to expand much on this particular topic, but I saw him on the Today Show this morning and apparently he’s raking in an awful lot of money. People are giving him multiple millions in cash and houses. If you really want to know more about this, he has a website.

On that note, I think I’ll bite my tongue and leave it at that.

Though I don’t mind getting mail, I wouldn’t want to be in Forbes’ shoes right now.

Have a wonderful weekend.