Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Digital Divide

This morning on my way up to the Antelope Valley, I'm a visiting librarian in Lancaster until my computers and network are installed. The moving in process just keeps dragging on. Back on topic. This the radio reporter told me that cell phones are replacing landlines in many homes. OK, no big surprise, then he went on to say that the rate of rich people giving up landlines outpace poor people. At first blush this seemed to contradict other reports that have stated that the world's poor are by passing land lines and going straight for cellphones with Internet capability.
As the miles passed I chewed on this facts only to digested them into a reason both could be true.
First, America's poor are not the same as the world's poor. Many countries where the majority of the world's poor live just does not and probably never will have the infrastructure to support wired technology. These people can only hope to connect to the rest of us via wireless technology, so in other words these people will out of necessity jump ahead in the technology cue. America's poor on the other hand tend to live in rural or remote areas where wireless coverage, despite AT&T and Verizon's claims is not ubiquitous. On the other hand, wired coverage is--even the party lines of my rural youth are mostly a thing of the past these days.
Rural-ness is another reason not to give up that ole landline even if a wireless provider is available. Wireless telephone does not mean wireless Internet coverage. My Iphone Internet capability was as non-existent as my savings account this summer in Idabel, OK. And Idabel is technically town. Cable internet through Time Warner or other providers is not any more available than cable TV. Rural America is dotted with satellite dishes for this reason. With this fact, dial up is a sad reality for many of America's ruralites no matter their own personal income.
Something else to consider that keep America's poor tied down is that landlines are often subsidized by us. For those poverty level incomes, we pay a portion of our phone bills to allow them to have very reasonably priced phone service. Phone service but not health care is seen as a basic necessity that should be available to one and all. With adequate documentation, a family can apply for the subsidy annually.
And finally, the rich have few children, and can afford family plans for their progeny. The poor may not have means to provide each and every one of their offspring with cellphones.
One question that did spring to mind as I walked past the line of less than homed individuals in front of the Lancaster Library. What is the rate of cellphones among those poor who are homeless vs those who are poor and aboded? Is there a bigger percentage? Do these people have the wherewithal to get and maintain a cell phone? Do they have people to call?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Musings

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted. Lots has happened in the past three weeks. I am still trying to adjust to having kittens. Sasha adjusted right on schedule and is now a Graceless Wonder and Nosey Parker. However, Misha is still suffering PTSD and has yet adjusted. I spent all day Sunday trying to tame him. I checked the Internet and the advice says "Small Room Containment". First I lured them into the bathroom. Sasha and Misha stayed there for a while and I handled Misha frequently with rewards of Kraft Singles and baby food. Later I put them in the pet taxi while I cleaned the bathroom, took a shower and prepared the closet.
All went fine and well until about 9:00 when they start getting revved up for the evening's play time. Sasha got restless, Misha was still hissing at times. I kicked Sasha out but that didn't work because he just scratched at the door and meowed. Then I put both of them back in and that didn't work without me because they just scratched the door and meowed. I gave up and let them out so I could go to sleep and not get kicked out of my apartment nor pay damages when I move out.
Misha is a tough nut to crack and I think my options as the clock is running out, is to either ask the Vet for some Kitty Prozac to get him over this phase or take him to the ASPCA and ask them to try to socialize him for a donation. When I take them to the Vet on Saturday, I will ask which is the better option.
On a different note, I have started at the new buldi89g (Sasha's contribution). There are a lot of hurtles to cross before January. Also it is clear that the architect and everyone else involved in the project did not really get the feedback of Librarians. So many things are what people imagine a library should be like but is not actually what we want the library of the 21st Century to be nor what actual users need it to be. So we are trying to remediate these facets or learn to live them.
Two big problems, we don't have enough shelving for adults and have had to work around that. The previous manager did not like to weed at all. So right now we have the old collection (All of IT), all the materials that have been bought over the past two years while it was closed for rebuilding, the Opening Day materials and some reassigns. I am bursting at the seams with just the old collection and have had to spend time weeding out shabby, and unused materials before we try to absorb the new collections (]=kl Sasha again) onto the shelves.
The other big problem is that the art work in the children's area is scary. There is a dead or rubber chicken on the clock shoot that sends lost toys away. There is a guy powering the clock wearing a ram's skull on his head while riding a bicycle with saw blades. There is a Zombie looking sombrero wearing guy that is pulling a cart and a guy that is half fish, half something else with a long bird beak mask on. So now the Powers that Be need to sort it out and see if they can get the artist to adjust the artwork. The concept seems to be from an old Wizard of Oz book plate but MY GOD those things can be scary. I would have nightmares if I were a 7 or 8 year old looking at it. I get creeped out as it is and I am an adult.
More later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pobrecitos


My little ones are still shoved into the corner of my closet looking like refugees. They probably feel that their world has dropped out from under them. However, the bowls of Gerber Chicken baby food were licked clean this morning, the litter box was used and their crunch and soft snack bowl had only a few tell-tale bits of crumbs left. At least I know that they are fed. Patience and probably by next week they will be running around the living room.
Last night after I dropped them off at the apartment, gotten scratched and realized that these babies are wild. I gave them a piece of cheese-the only suitable cat like food I had in the house. I didn't think they would care for the applesauce or pasta. Then I headed to Walmart. My free kittens quickly added up to $75, but they have a fleece cube, a scratching pole, litter & litter boxes (multi-cat small spaces), enough food for one more day, a brush, a couple of kitty toys. As I was piling everything in the cart talking to M, I said now you see why I never had kids--there is a reason.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm a New Mom


Well, right now I probably seem more like the grim reaper to my new charges but hopefully we will get to know each other soon and they will come out of the closet.
The photo attached to this posting is not a photo I took because right now the little ones are too frightened of me to come out of the corner.
This afternoon one of my regular patrons came into the library asking for a pet shelter that she could take her cats that are now too much for her to handle. She started with 2 and they have now multiplied to more than a dozen. I found her the locations and I started to query her about what kind of cats she had. She mentioned that she had two Siamese looking twins that were still quite small. I decided that if she would bring them to me, I would take them. So this evening before the library closed she brought them to me in a small cage.
Once I got them home I quickly realized that these little one's are actually quite wild. My patron said that she caught them when they came out to eat, so with their behavior and her statement, I deduced that they haven't been tamed, yet. Poor babies.
They are adorable. One is more shy than the the other. The dominate one is fiesty and I have yet to get a look at him/her. I think probably a her since the smaller, more timid one seems to be a boy. I have to think of names for them and I am considering Misha and Sasha for them no matter the gender. Misha is Russian for little bear and I think I will probably call the fiesty one Misha. Sasha although can be a girl's name also is the Russian diminutive for Alexander so can be for a boy, too.
My family has had a Misha before--he was a beautiful long hair Russian Blue that took over the parenting of the twin Siamese that my dad brought my mom for Valentines one year. The Siamese were named Lucy (girl) and Nikki (boy). My dad named them after my nicknames. This is how I knew that he really missed me after I went away for college. Mind you it caused some confusion when I heard "Lucy come eat" when I was home only to go down to the kitchen and find a bowl of cat food on the cabinet.
Our first Siamese when I was growing up was TK. He was Velvet's first litter when we moved to town and she was still living with us. Siamese are white when they are born. I remember expressing my fascination with the white kitten but my mother told me that it would turn out to be just a common yellow cat. Much to our amazement, he developed points and turned into a Siamese. TK was a cool cat that we loved until the neighbor shot him.
Velvet was still cavorting with her Siamese beau after she moved herself to the youth shelter because out of a later litter we got Tisha which my mother adored. Tisha was typical high maintenance Siamese and without a doubt my mom's cat. Tisha produced my long hair lilac point Tasha that was sweetness. One day my brother's friend was visiting my mom. Tasha was sitting on top of the TV, when she finally moved after about an hour, Keeva gasps, "She's real." Tasha's role in life was to look beautiful.
So I am looking forward to getting to know my little ones.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sex Goddesses, Exploding Toilets & Bad Ju-Ju

I am never short a story and this week is no exception. Here are a few stories that I will file away for future purposes.
1) During the book sale this weekend, I learned something about Santa Clarita's early days. This all started when someone said "Did you see that the Sex High Priestess is here?" What? "Oh, yes, in the 70's her husband spent a few years behind bars for pandering." Really! "Yes, the defense claimed that it wasn't pandering but a religious rite for their church--the judge didn't buy it and he spent some time." They pointed her out and she is a regular customer that looks a bit like a grandmother. Wow, you just never know, do you? I also found out in the good ole days when Mr. Newhall ran the newspaper, there were some pretty wild editorials and the DUI list was published every Monday.
2) I went to a going away party on Saturday after the book sale for one of the Assistants that got a job in Montana as a library manager. Her husband was driving back from Montana to California. He stopped in at a McDonald's, went to the toilet stall and sat down. He said he noticed that the commode seemed to drop a few inches and then suddenly with his pants down around his ankles water came forcefully gushing out. He was trying to get the door open but it opened in rather than out so he had a hard time. By the time he got himself decent enough to get out, he was drenched. The management decided to comp his meal because his bills were too wet and they didn't want to accept them. So it seems that spilling hot coffee on yourself earn you millions at McDonalds but having to narrowly escape drowning yourself with your pants down around your ankles gets you a 5 buck meal.
3) Yesterday I asked a gentleman to stop holding his crucifix up in the library. He asked "Is it illegal?" Before I could craft the answer "No, but proselytizing in the library is not allowed." He slipped the 7 inch cross into the Star of David necklace he was wearing with the statement "It is part of my outfit." The manager and I both said "That's fine as long as you are wearing it." The man sat back down to his computer. The manager and I looked at each other and agreed that he was a new one and hadn't been in either of our libraries before. A little later he asked to speak with the manager and the end result was that he was trying to cleanse all the bad ju-ju that people were bringing into the library. Thank you, I guess.
And finally 4) I was scheduled to do a walk through of my new library with my regional administrators. Y calls them the Three Fates. They are all great and I have learned a lot from each and everyone. One is very particular and exact. She always has well coordinated suits and has the right thing to say and do. Yesterday she was wearing a white jacket. After the walk through we went to lunch. I had ravioli with marinara sauce. Do you see where this is going? As she was sitting next to me, she was in direct line of spray when a ravioli slipped off my fork and back into the pool of bright red sauce. Mortification ruled my day. She took it very well, whipped out a Shout spot cleaner and proceeded to dab at the multitude of blood like spots. The only thing that could make me feel even marginally better was that my jacket and white shirt were also spotted although not as deeply. Oh, I am a total mess. I always find a way to sabotage myself in the worst way.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sometimes My Job is Fun

I have a regular patron that is an actor. I didn't quite realize that he was one. But he came in one day with a different facial hair so I asked him what was up. He explained that he was working on a Mentalist episode. Cool. I won't disclose his real name, although it is a famous one. He can't use his given name because SAG nixed it. He rather uses his grandfather's. He said I could check out some of his stuff out on You Tube, so here is one of the links. I love the dread's.

Friday, October 9, 2009

OMG

Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:00 so that I could leave by 7:00 to get to Downey by 8:30. At 6:55 I sat down to my bowl of cereal. I heard a buzzing down in the wall. What in the world? I walked into my mini hallway. I noticed that my vanity lights were flickering. What? I turned the lights off. I opened the breaker box and saw SPARKS. Heart rate instantly jumped up. I quickly flipped half the switches. The buzzing stopped. Relief. Then I started hunting around for my the Apartment Office number. I was in such a state that I wasn't making much sense to myself. Suddenly I had to pee, so I thought I might be able to think better if my bladder wasn't full. I accidentally flipped the bathroom room switch which instantly began to flicker and I heard the buzzing in the wall again. I no longer had to pee. OMG! I went back to the breaker box which was sparking once again, so I threw the other half of the switches.
I finally located the office number and called. The woman that answered didn't seem as alarmed as I was. She asked if there was smoke. When I said no, she said she would see IF someone could come check it out after hours. I let her know that my freezer was defrosting at the moment and I would lose all my stuff. I swear I heard her let out a sigh when she said she would work on it.
Completely freaked out, I loaded up jewelry, computer and some clothes. My parents had an electrical fire where they lost a bunch of stuff. I would have loaded up more but I coxed myself out of being WORST CASE SCENARIO GIRL and let it go with what I had.
At about 7:30, I was calm enough to get in the car. I was deciding if I really wanted to go for training or not. Maybe I needed to be near the apartment. But then I decided that I would do no one any good being near the apartment. If it burned it burned. The training had to be done and I might as well be at a long Power Point reading day with a frazzled mind than actually trying to do work. I got in the car about my coffee to make my way to Downey about 50 miles away. I knew I would be late and since it took me 10 minutes to make it to the first stop light from my apartment which is less than a quarter of a mile, I knew that I was really not going to make it on time.
At 8:00 I called the library and asked the Assistant to send Bob an email to let him know I was going to be late. I was at Freeway cruising speed which was about 30 miles an hour. Then, I made a mistake. Just past downtown there is a jumble of freeways. The 5 cuts down to two lanes from five but it isn't the right two or the left two, it is somewhere in between. I thought I was in the far lane to stay on the 5 so I just followed the road, but I wasn't and ended up on the 10. Once I got off I was in Vernon--where ever the Hell that is. I couldn't find my way back to the freeway. Eventually I ran across a surface street that I knew ran near where I wanted to be, got out my handy Thomas Guide and found myself. About 30 minutes later I ended up at LHQ (Library Head Quarters)--a full hour late.
On the way in I called the Apartment Office and spoke with Marvin the head Groundskeeper. I explained the problem. He said that sometimes breakers are thrown when there is too many things connected. Exasperated, I explained that that was the problem the breaker didn't throw--it was sparking. Oh, he said, let me go check it out. Yes, I responded, please do.
Later I called and yes, the other guy saw the sparks too. Somehow a wire wasn't grounded and was shorting out. Fun. He fixed it, turned my lights back on and I came home to a safe apartment, feeling a bit sheepish as I got my stuff out of my car.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Simplifying


Finally the heat has abated. This past weekend, I realized that my sweaters were all packed away. With the current state of the space between my ears, the change in weather, and an up-coming birthday, I decided to evaluate my collections--shoes, books, clothes, etc. I also have to admit that I have been watching Horders on A&E on Monday night. Well, technically I haven't finished an episode yet. I get too weirded out and have to turn the TV off.
This past weekend, I got down to business. I rounded up all my shoes from the coat closet, the bedroom closet, the shoe basket in the living room, under my bed, etc. I decided that I did not need over 60 pairs of shoes. OK, that was a really hard decision to make as I longingly touch each pair. Thinking--"I wore these in Vegas for my 40th birthday", "Cam really liked these--when I wasn't wearing much else." Each pair with a story and a memory. And then realization struck--horders have to touch each and every thing. I steeled myself and set down criteria--If they hurt, if I hadn't worn them in 2 years I had to get rid of them. I quickly put on the two above mentioned pair of shoes--thus saving them. In the in 17 pairs well actually only 16 pairs--I pulled one more pair out of the pile--will go to Single Mother's Outreach and their Career Closet.

Next came clothes. In my storage closet, I had boxes of clothes packed up that I used to wear and a few that I had bought hoping to be able to wear in sizes 10, 12 and 14. I can't fit in any of them at the moment--well some 14's but not many. I had suits, slacks, blouses, all of them probably bought on a credit card that are now essentially useless to me. I brought them from Hawaii in hopes that I would be able to shed some of the pounds and get back into them. I have been here 3 1/2 years and that hasn't happened yet. So out came the boxes and I packed them all--well most of them--into the boxes. I came up with several trash bags full to go to the Goodwill as well.
I also paired down my cookbooks and some other books. In the end, I have probably gotten rid of a car load of stuff. All stuff that I don't really use. I understand why I have a huge debt that I chip away at each month. Like hoarders, I have a compulsion to acquire things. However, fortunately, unlike them I have an aversion to clutter. I feel that I am truly a Libra on this issue with the scales swinging to and fro on acquiring and shedding.
J asked me if I was as ruthless weeding my own things as I was weeding books from my library. On this, I guess I am for the same reason. There comes a point that if you haven't used it for a period of time--it is no good and maybe someone else will find it more valuable. If you can't see it because it is under a bunch of other crap it is no good. If you can't fit anything else into your space then you got to do something because piles are unacceptable and being jammed in makes it inaccessible and thus no good. Essentially, I feel that if these things are true then you really don't have it and when you have too much then the things keep you from enjoying the things that you could or do use. A well trimmed collection like a well trimmed hedge is enjoyed more than an unkempt one.
But I do know that women that I trying to get back into the job market will have far more use of my size 10, 12 and 14 business clothes and shoes sitting in my closet than I will. If I get back into them, I can assure you that I will find an excuse to go on a spending spree of joy at getting down to those sizes again.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Transitions



At dinner on Saturday night in the Antelope Valley, J reminded me that I haven't been posting much lately. Yes, I agreed. I am not entirely sure why but I have been in a bit of a funk lately. I will be transitioning to a new library next month, so part of my time has been going through the Civil Service process--testing and interviews to do that and the rest of the time has been spent wrapping my head around the coming transition. Don't get me wrong, I am ambitious and I pursued the promotion. It is a brand new spanking library that I have the opportunity to get on the ground floor of how things are done. No coming in to "this is how we do this at this library". Setting up the library is a fantastic professional development opportunity that is not lost on me. All those building built in the 70's had a shelf life of 30-40 years so this is a valuable piece to have in my professional tool box.
Nevertheless, I have had to get my head wrapped around it all. This will be my 5th library in less than 4 years. I am comfortable with the known. I am getting to know my community and I like them--well most of them. I enjoy not commuting. I can walk to work if I want to and sometimes I do--when the ole heel isn't giving me hell.
Here is my main concern. I have never been at one job for more than 4 years at any one time EVER! I have left and returned to almost all of my jobs. I guess that says something good, but what else does that say. I get bored and feel the need to go do something else, get bored and go back to what the now new old position. Wash and repeat. Hmmm. I am concerned that I am at a point in my life when I need to think about stability and the future. Retirement is usually contingent on staying in a position long enough to build it up. Since I have moved up so quickly with the County--and I am grateful, I don't have much further to go. My concern is that I still haven't had the chance to see if I have stick to it power. Also, I am quickly realizing that all this moving that I have done most of my life--I am convinced that I am part Gypsy--has a financial strain. While living abroad, I took to carrying a spatula with me because I had bought so many during my years of being in and out of Japan that I had probably spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-70 (pre 99cent and 100 Yen stores) on this very inexpensive necessity. I got tired of getting rid of and re-buying so many things that are just not valuable enough to take but nevertheless needed. For some reason I drew a line with spatulas and started packing one in my suitcase.

My brother Dave and I were talking on the phone this weekend. He doesn't like change--he moved to Stillwater for college and never left except for a brief disastrous go at living in Dallas. Me, I can't seem to keep the same hair color for more than 3 months. Maybe Pop was right all those years and he wasn't my father but a policeman dropped me off at the door. But then again, he was a trucker and traveled all the US Highways. When I road trip I think about him. I am a cross between him and my mom. I love being in the car for hours, just watching the scenery go by. I have a destination in mind. I push myself onward like my father. But I also see all the interesting things along the way and want to stop. So during my two road trips, I have accommodated both styles. One the way out, I push ahead. The long road in front of me. My thoughts drifting in a Zen like experience with the gradually transitioning landscape hour after hour across country to my destination. My return trip is seeing all the pretties that I noticed on the way--the stop at the museum, the overnight in a destination.
Change is on the way for me. Will this be the last one for a while? No, I have to move in March. Maybe, I will be able to test my mettle in this next move. See if I have staying power. Time will tell. With the change of weather and the change of season, I have regained my purpose and am now embracing the upcoming transition. More posts soon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What I am reading

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up 100 ways to Simplify You Life by Joyce Meyer. It was new title that came in, so I checked it out. Over lunch at Baja Fresh, I started this title. Quickly I discovered that this was based on Christian doctrine and thought about tossing it back into the bookdrop but thought "No, I am opened minded, I will go through it there may be a few nuggets, then I got to page 1 and I read the follow quote: "It's like removing an egg yolk from the egg white--both can be used separately." This stopped me in my tracks, I said wait a minute: yeah the yolk plus egg white is OK if you are talking about an omelet, but what about a meringue--that is only good if you have egg white and what about custards--they are only good with an excess of yolks.
And I do love my custards!! Creme Brulee--Heaven in a Dish!! I spent hours trying to fix this analogy but couldn't. Some times an egg whole is fantastic and some times the part make something better and sometimes they combine to make something more. That is life.
So I gave up on this title and still have gotten over the bad analogy yet, just ask my mom. I ragged on the analogy this morning during my weekly phone call. My mom said "Well, the book wasn't for you." What words of wisdom, I was trying to be open minded and it failed because the other side simply could not see that the constituents can come times be stronger than than the parts but other times stronger.


Otherwise, I finished Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. The Masonic tradition is taken Ok. But if you have watched What the Bleep Do We Know then you are ahead of the game here. Dan Brown is a good story teller taking fact and fiction, meshing them together in a compelling story. I can't wait to visit one of my favorite cities and see all the landmarks talked about. I love DC, it is among the most European cities in America. But I visited during a time with the only days above average temp were they days that I was in a workshop. Yet, I loved running along Embassy Row in the morning and into George Town. In the evening we search out the best Sushi the restaurants had to offer. Dave showed me Sushi as I never saw it in Japan and I introduced him to Caviar at a Russian Fusion restaurant. Little did we know in May that by October that our lives would become so inextricably entwined.

But what I am really enjoying right now is The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. This is a young teen series that I love. I am impressed that I am on book 4 and still find the series interesting and still with turns and twists that I couldn't have imagined. The depths of course could cause controversy, God, the Architect a woman? It segues well with the Dan Brown new title. I am having fun here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is why I hate...

Get anything done to my car. I go in for one thing and then there is a gazillion other things that need to be done. Ok, so I admit if I were more regular about getting things done, I might not have a gazillion things to do but that is not my point. My point is that I know that I needed a new set of rear tires. I go to Sam's Club to see if they had any that would fit my car, they didn't but in the mean time the guy tells me I probably need new shocks. Great! Then I go to the the garage down the street to talk to them. They have tires that I need but I am also told that I need an alignment. The guy asks if it has been more than 6 months since the last alignment. Hmmm, yes, I would say never falls into the the more than 6 months category. So we come to a deal, it will be about 20 minutes and he will call me.
I get a call about 20 minutes later. Because my reception is soooo bad--AT&T are not my "I Love This Company" list at all. More bars in more places--but not anywhere I need to talk. Anyway, I run down to the shop and am told that yes, I do need new shocks, that is $119 and look at this brake "It is missing a piece"--OK so that explains the squeal when I back up. That would be $50 each so total--$250. Not today I tell him, next payday, I know where some of my $ are going. Just what I always wanted for my birthday, new shocks and brakes. Plus, I still need to get 2 other new tires. So here I am waiting for a phone call that should come in about 40 minutes. I love how 20 minutes became an hour and a half. Yes, that makes me happy. My schedule is blown now, I am looking at $500 more in car stuff.
But since I will probably start commuting again next month, I need to make sure that my car is OK, so that raise I will probably get for a promotion that I am most likely to get, will go for gas. Probably won't even cover the gas. Joy and happiness. But we do what we have to do and I can't say no to a promotion, soon enough my lease will be up (in March) and I will be able to move if I want. I am lucky that I don't have a mortgage and am fixed with all the moving around I have been doing since I got here. I have been told by my supervisor that I will be at this library for a while. Yeah, right that is what she said the last time. But I think I might, I can't go much higher. Honestly, there is only one more step before you become an Administrator. Please, off on the 4th floor for a while, thank you very much.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, Sunday...

I have been restlessly unmotivated lately. I keep trying to latch on to stuff that I hope will pull me out of this rather extended funk. I want to make the most of this clean bill of health that I have been given. I need to find a new way of doing things. Drag myself out of my self-imposed rut.
Yesterday, I went to confession at St. Clair's, the first time in about 11 years. I was in Hiroshima. I became Catholic at 18, so confession is very awkward for me. But I want to make more connections with myself and my community, so I figured going back to church would probably be a pretty good start.
I wasn't sure how the Confession would go, I mean if I took the time to recount every misstep in the last 11 years I would still be there right now on about year 6. As it turned out I was pretty much able to sum up the last 11 years in about 2 minutes without resorting to "I've been bad, very very bad." Confession over and done with, I took my camera to Sam's Club to print some photos.
So, this morning I woke up, made coffee, called mom and started working on the first of two photo projects that I am putting together. First the digital frame. I loaded some photos on it several weeks ago, but realized that the frame cut off some of the photos which annoyed me. To fix this I decided to load the photos into a power point presentation and change them into jpegs. Here is a sample of what I did...


I surfed the net for images and quotes that inspire me and culled through the photos I have on my computer to put together a presentation for my digital photo frame. I was pretty impressed with the result.
This morning, I worked on the digital frame project, almost talked myself out of going to church, talked myself back into going to the 9:30 mass, arrived at the church at about 9:25 to find out the 9:30 mass is at 9:00. Went home, continued to work on my project until the 11:00 mass, came back home at noon, finished the project, hoped in my car to go to work from 1:00 to 5:00.
At five I got home and straightened my apartment. I wish my apartment would learn to pick up after itself. I tell you, I am the only one that does anything around here.
After tidying up a bit, I fixed dinner and poured myself a glass of Cab/Sauv as pictured below

After my tasty dinner, I decided to embark on my other art/photo project. Several weeks ago, I bought some pictures at Ikea for less than $2 each. Once I got them home I discovered that they were pictures and not simply frames which required pulling out very long staples to disassemble them. I put on my thinking cap and decided that I could glue fabric onto the backing to cover up the pictures, then I could glue on bullnose clips and hang some of the photos I took this summer. The real challenge to this project actually turned out to be procuring the bullnose clips. First I had to figure out what they were actually called, then I went to every office supply store imaginable to find the right sized clips without magnets. In the end I prevailed at Office Depot in Sylmar.
Here is the end result of my project. I am pretty proud of the installation if I say so myself.


All and all, this has been a good Sunday and I guess a good start to the week ahead. I have my Librarian IV exam on Wednesday afternoon, I could use a good start.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Libraries Never Have Enough

There is never enough space, time, staff to do what we really want to do or have what we really want to have. We are limited in so many ways and with this economy we are becoming even more limited at a time when people really want and need more from us.
This past week I have been shifting collections. I shifted the adult audio book collection, our books on CD have outgrown their space and the books on tape are shrinking due to collection priorities. We are no longer collecting audio books on cassette nor are we collecting VHS tapes. Our children's audio visual collection also needed shifting for the same reason. Throughout the year there are times when people return more items than are taken out, our collections swell and we need to find space for those items us. Between the end of summer and the beginning of fall is one of those times. It is a delicate dance with the only constant being that our physical space only changes when there is a renovation of some sort.
But the big move this week was expanding the space for holds. These are items that customers have requested from other libraries. Last year, I moved the hold shelf from 3 ranges (a range of shelves) to 6 ranges. Then on Thursday morning, I shifted the hold shelf to teen area giving the holds an additional 3 ranges. We moved the teen area to the hold area and part of the classic section. The classic section moved down and around into the reference section. The reference section is being weeded to either get the books into the regular circulating collection or removed from the library. Friday afternoon, I saw a packed hold shelf and got a major headache. Less than 24 hours later and it seemed to have already outgrown its space.
So needless to say, this took a lot of work and right now my reference section is a total disaster. We have a lot of books to absorb into the regular collection
I told the teen librarian that worked with me on this project to not worry about the reference collection because no one really wants to use it anyhow. We can help the few people who might need something out of in the next month find what they need.
Today, I need to work on my classic collection. First I back shifted and then I forward shifted with the unfortunate result that Dickens does not have a home. Dickens was a prolific writer so now I either have to tighten the shelves up on the gamble that more stuff will go out than come in or I can weed the collection down. The classic section is in pretty dismal condition so weeding would theoretical be easy--I could pare it down by at least half but then students often come in needing the book today because they have to read it tonight for the project due tomorrow. My head is already hurting but I can't leave Dickens homeless so I will probably do a combination of both tactics to hedge my bets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

There Should Be a Warning Label

By now I know what to expect but the first time it happened, I nearly died of a heart attack. I was in Hong Kong alone suffering travel sickness. I had traveled to Hong Kong with my friend Jackie after which she planned to go to Thailand and Southeast Asia before heading back to Canada. My plans included China, the Trans Siberian and Europe. On the day of her departure, I woke up in the cheap fleabag we were staying feel very wonky. We decided that I should upgrade to a better class of fleabag while in Hong Kong the next 2 days alone. The next few hours were spent in search of a hotel that I would feel moderately safe entering on my own and some tummy medication including Lomotil and Pepto Bismol. The grips of travel sickness were gradually tightening; by the time Jackie got off to the airport, I was in pretty bad shape.
I popped a couple of Pepto tablets and fell into a sleep that only sick people have. Time drags by as awareness of how sick you are pervades your consciousness. Sleep is uneasy and fitful. After a few hours of discomfort in the bed, I drug myself to the bathroom--blessedly not shared with a hall of other people now--wondering how there could still be anything in my system. I finished my business, went to the sink, looked at how sick I was in the mirror. Inspected my tongue and almost scared what little sh** I had left out of me. MY TONGUE WAS BLACK!!


I raced back in panic to my guide book, looking for the dreaded black tongue disease. I though Bubonic Plague--I have that, it turns your tongue black...when you're dead...I am I dead? No, what is this? Do I have to fly home? I don't want to have an awful illness alone in a foreign country...please please please...
I gradually collected myself, went back to the bathroom mirror for another inspection and realized that the black scrapped off. What a relief. I realized that the Pepto did this. I rationalized that it was because I was dehydrated and had only had a little Coke that day and somehow the Carmel coloring stayed.
I have since learned that this is a reaction that some people have to Pepto and generally stay away from it. Apparently Pepto + sulfur = black tongue. But recently my niece was here with an upset tummy so I got her some Pepto. Last night, I woke up with an odd bout of acid reflux, so I popped a couple of her leftover Peptos. Result was as expected--black tongue. No bubonic plague. Sigh.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Intrigued



This picture has a ton of condition issues yet it intrigues me. I have it hanging in the little tiny hallway that enters from the living/dining space into the bedroom suite. I can see the painting from my dining table. This is an excellent place for this artwork for two reasons. First it doesn't have to compete with the rest of my decor which is called Asian Modern by me and might be called as Eclectic Bargain Basement by everyone else. I prefer my moniker of course. At any rate the painting doesn't really go with anything else. And second, I can see this enchanting scene whenever I eat. I feel compelled by this piece for some reason. I feel that I want to walk up the drive, knock on the door and have a nice glass of tea with the owners out on the veranda. I don't drink ice tea but I would at this home. Maybe the owners would be gentile enough to have mint juleps. Now I do drink those.
My mom sent this painting home with me when I went back to Idabel this summer. She has had it for about 3 years. I said that I was super fascinating by the scene several times. Next thing I know it is being wrapped up in an old quilt to be packed with my other stuff to take back to California. I felt super guilty but Mom said that she wanted me to enjoy so it now hangs not in her bedroom but in my micro hallway.
The provenance of this painting is somewhat interesting. We kind of don't know where it comes from and kind of do. Here is what we do know. About 3 years ago, my mom was helping her friend clean out Auntie's house. This is pronounced A-ni where I am from. It took me years to realize that this was actually Auntie and what we have always used for a courtesy aunt and not their real name. Anyway Auntie was going into an assisted living situation and the treasures she took a life time to accumulate had to be pared down to virtually nothing. During on the of the clean out days, my mom went over to the pile destined for the landfill. She found the painting on top and grabbed it up. Her friend's husband had declared fit to be reclaimed by the earth. Mom, instantly enchanted with the muted tones, asked if she could have it; with the yes answer the painting came to hang on my mom's bedroom wall and eventually made its way to California and my wall.
There is a bit more known about the painting because someone wrote some enigmatic words on the back that we have yet to fully understand. This is what is inscribed "Memory Contest Prize Grammar Room Won by Ruth Templeton for possible 50 years. Age 78 years old May 22, 1831." Was Ruth the artist and she was remembering a scene from 50 years ago? Did Ruth win the painting 50 years ago and now at the age of 78 in 1831 she or someone decided to memorialize the event by noting it down on the back of the painting? What exactly is a Memory Contest anyway? It does seem that the painting was executed in either 1831 or 50 years earlier around 1780.
Last Sunday I carefully wrapped the painting up and I took the painting to a the antique appraisal booth at the local flea market. The first Sunday of the month they have the booth. Of course this was no Antique Road Show event so the appraiser could offer me few more clues that it had huge condition issues (which I already knew) and might retail for $150-$200 (which I suspected). My main question was should I try to clean it and the appraiser answered that I shouldn't because part of the charm lay in the condition issues and would cost a fortune to boot.
I would like to know more but this does not seem likely. I tried to search some photos on the internet of homes that were similar. It has a wrap around porch and seems plantation gates. It should be somewhere in the South due to subject matter the fact that is was in Oklahoma for part of its history.
What ever its history, I love this painting and am somewhat relieved that it isn't worth more than I thought it is because now I don't have to worry about having to get and pay for special insurance. I would be devastated if something happened to it so no amount of insurance money would ever replace the fascination I have with this piece of our American history.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Julie & Julia the books and the movie



During the first quarter of 2008, I set a goal for myself that I would only read books on cooking for the first 3 months of the year. The first book I read was The United States of Arugula by David Kamp. This turned out to be an excellent choice as it gave me a general background on the movers and shakers in the developing the American palette. I had of course heard of Julia Child and of the Galloping Gourmet but James Beard ?, Alice Waters? Ruth Reichl? These and others were names that I would become intimate with in the following months. But the woman who towered above them all was of course Julia Child.
For some reason, I felt intimidated to read a book on Julia. I am not quite sure why but I felt great reluctance. I saw My Life in France on the shelf day after day but always put it off for another time. The in late January, I picked up Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen. I thought the cover was whimsical and decided to give it a go. Once I opened the book, I delightfully plunged into Julie's world of neurosis and and search for meaning in a world that a times appears to be unraveling at the seams. Julie had wit and a rough edged charm and I found myself laughing madly out loud. I devoured the book and then encouraged everyone I knew to read it--even a 70 year old man that politely gave it back to me. I dubbed the book as Sex in the City in a tiny grimy kitchen.
Through Julie & Julia, I learned a bit about the Grand Dame herself and became intrigued, so I picked up the My Life in France audiobook--I was still worried that I just wouldn't get into it. But Oh, how wrong I was. Paul and Julia had a fantastic marriage and love affair. Julia's story is beautifully told by her nephew Alex Prudhomme. I instantly became a fan of Julia Child. What woman wouldn't be when it became clear that she didn't even start cooking until she was almost 40. Clear proof that at any point we can be who we want to be if we can only imagine it and try hard. Julia and Julie truly inspired me.
Needless to say, I was excited when I heard the movie was coming out. I added a copy to my collection and marked it New although by it clearly wasn't. I also added it to my Recommend list on our digital photo frame in the library. And this summer, I had a book club discussion and pot luck on the book as part of the Summer Reading Program.
All this but I was afraid that I wouldn't like the movie. I know that Nora Ephron is entirely capable with titles like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle under her belt; but when I found out that Meryl Strep was going to play Julia Child in the movie, I just didn't get it. And then I realized that the movie was actually going to be based on both titles covering both Julia Child's and Julie Powell's stories. I became hopeful that all would be good. And indeed all was good. This is an excellent film, well told and leaves you feeling generally good about yourself. This is a movie that proves that even with set backs when you are determined and have the support you can accomplish great things. I highly recommend this film and the two books. They are all very good. Each can stand alone but are best when enjoyed together.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What a Relief!

All the drama of the past 2 months has dissipated with a huge sigh of relief. The doctor says that Louise is shrinking and may disappear on her own. I don't have cancer and that the bleeding was probably caused by a polyp that he may have gotten during the biopsy. I will go back in 3 months for another ultrasound to see if Louise is still packing her bags and vacating my abdomen. So for now, I am OK! I am so happy.
Yesterday, I had a few moments of panic when I checked in. Usually they just have me verify my birthday and last four of my social to make sure it is me. But yesterday, they asked to see my ID and my health insurance card and had me sign a paper making sure that everything was correct. I asked if I was the only person she was doing this to, but all she said was that she wanted to check to make sure everything was right.
Of course here I am thinking that the worst and that I might be asked to directly to the OR to take care of what ever they found in the biopsy. So it was with some trepidation that I entered into the cubicle to wait for the doctor.
The one thing I noticed was that everyone asked me "How are you today?" Somehow our social conventions seem weird and awkward in situations like this. "Hmmm...well I don't really know, you are hold the answer to that question not me" is what I wanted to say but I just meekly said, "fine" and added "I think" to the end.
But what a relief to be able to answer the question without thought a few minutes later.
I of course called my mom who has been on pins and needles waiting for the results. She even said that she would drive across the huge desert alone and brave the LA traffic to come to see me--although she wouldn't actually have to brave LA traffic due to the fact that we are on the East side of LA, but it is the thought that counts--she doesn't know that you hit Santa Clarita before LA. But I was so happy that at some point I laughed while I was talking so she couldn't understand what I was trying to say. Mom said "Stop giggling and talk to me." My poor mother has had to put up with the strange and varied sense of humor that all three of her children inherited from their father. My poor mom has to put up with so much she really is a saint and I am so proud to have her as a mother.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Library Fines Redux

I get sob stories. Yesterday I had two that bothered me. The first: "I have $80 in fines and I am a single mom with no income can you take care of my fines." I worked with this customer and reduced the fines because with a change of policy. Previously children's items checked out on adult fines had lower fines but when we changed our system over, the card rather than the item dictated the rate of fines. So I adjusted her fines on the children item as I do with most people that come to me with these fines. This left her fine well over the $10 threshold that allows you to use the library but manageable. Still it was clear that she thought that based on her being a single mom with no job and on assistance I should take care of the rest of her fine. But here is what rubs me, if I am on a limited income, I take care of what I am doing. The library is free as long as you are responsible. If you don't have the luxury of paying the fines for irresponsibility then BE RESPONSIBLE!
Second: I get a call from a man who tells me up front that he has contacted the Board of Supervisor's office and they sent him to the library. Then he explains that how he just lost his job and how this year his wife has been sick. Apparently, now he needs to use the library. I look at his account and he has some fines. And they are relatively manageable, so it is an easy fix to get him to work with him to get him under the $10 threshold. But at the same time I am thinking. These fees are from 18 months ago before your wife got sick and you lost your job. Only now are you thinking, I might want to use the library and you are asking me to forgive your irresponsibility. As one of the Assistance often says, "I would like to go to the electric company and say, you know I kept my house very nice and cool on hot days and now my bill is bigger than I want to pay, please reduce it."
I do understand circumstances and I do understand people being caught unaware of library fines--especially when there has been a change in policy like we have had.
I had one guy come into my office that was in his early 20's and explained that he had just gotten married when he got the notice saying he owed the library hundreds of dollars from 4 years ago. He explained that he was young, stupid and didn't know how to use the library. He wanted to know if there was any way I could work with him to get his bill paid. As it turned out the bulk of the fines were lost items that would be much cheaper to replace. He contacted me several times via phone to let me know that he was working on getting the items replaced was having a hard time with one thing. I gave him some alternatives--the item was a book on tape and we no longer collect them, so I asked him to find me an unabridged book on CD. He turned everything in. I worked with him some on the actual over due fines because it was clear that he was taking responsibility for being young and stupid. These are the people that I am inclined to work with.
I want to treat everyone one the same, if I can ethically and fairly reduce someone's fine then I will, e.g. doing an adjustment on an adult's card for children's books. But I feel that it is unethical for me to reduce fines just because someone comes to be with a sob story and does not want to pay library fine. If I give someone a reduced fine just because they come to me with their story, why don't I reduce everyone's fine?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Concept: Books that are Overdue Incur Fines


You would think that this is a no brainer, right? I grew up in society with libraries. One of the basic rules is that there is a due date and when you don't renew the book before the due date or bring it back to the library, you get charged a fee for each item each day that you didn't bring it back. Seriously, I learned this lesson when I was 5 and my mom would gather books up to take to the post office to send back to the Choctaw Nation Library's books by mail program.
So I am always astounded by the pronouncement: "I owe money? But I returned everything!" Well, yes you did, 9 months late so now you have a $10 fee for each thing! "Can't you take care of that? I returned everything." "No, I am sorry I can't, while you had those books other people couldn't check them out and it is important for us to know where our items are." "But you have to do something, I can't pay $35--I returned them." And around and around we go. Repeated daily sometimes multiple times a day.
So how is that so many people do not understand the concept of fines at the library? It is such a basic part of our society that library fines are discussed in books, TV and numerous other interactions. It is such a basic concept that I have to wonder do these people come from a different planet? Seriously, I'd like to know.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hosting a Chocolate Tasting


All I can say is Thank God for the Internet! For some reason, I got the bright idea to plan a chocolate tasting this summer as an adult program. I have done two Chocolate Extravaganza programs for teens that featured a chocolate fountain (which is sitting on my balcony at the moment). The kids enjoyed trying all kinds of things in the chocolate including the surprisingly tasty chocolate & broccoli combination. But all that oil really puts me off chocolate and I hate cleaning up the mess the fountain makes. Also enticing a group of adults to try veggies with their chocolate didn't strike the right chord of what I wanted to do with them. So I decided a chocolate tasting would be fun. I had two months to figure out what I needed to do. And then...Louise happened and we had record breaking days at the library with a short staff and one drama queen.
Saturday, before the program on Tuesday, I started searching the internet. I found this life saving site: Savor Chocolate which included a handy tasting placemat and tasting guide. All I had to do was read up, prepare some chocolate trivia games and purchase the chocolate which I picked up a good selection on Monday during lunch at Target--success!!
I had 26 people come to my tasting which is a good attendance for an adult program. Everyone expressed their happiness. I actually had two chocolate connoisseurs at the tasting. I am glad I didn't know about them beforehand because I would have been quite nervous, but they said they had a good time and pointed me to a chocolate shop that has real chocolate tasting.
Now the site also has instructions on hosting a choctail party which as soon as Louise and what ever else is going on with me is sorted out, I plan to host. Today, I have to figure out how to decoupage bowls for Tuesday. I haven't decoupaged anything since I was 7 years old and my mom showed us how to do magazine collages.

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm Concerned

The African American Dr. Henry Gates story of being arrested by a white cop for disturbing the peace after his white neighbor phoned police to report a possible break-in is getting bigger by the minute. Our president has even weighed in on this. I am concerned, riots begin over things like this with lines being drawn in the sand. Apologies demanded, apologies refused. I recently listed to an iReport commentary on CNN that made me think that maybe there are some sane people in the world that view this incident the same way as I do--RIDICULOUS!!
I have no doubt racism exists in America, I know it does. I am from a small Southeastern Oklahoma town known as Little Dixie. A race riot shut the town down for 3 days in the late 70's over something ridiculous because the people living on the other side of the tracks--black--were frustrated. And things have not changed much in the intervening years.
But this incident should not have happened. Dr. Gates from the start made this a racist interaction by questioning the police officer who asked to see his ID with "Why, because I'm Black?" Now, I have been a minority for many many years as a Gaijin and as a Houli. I know without a doubt when I was pulled over by a Japanese police officer, if I had started out with "Why? because I am Gaijin?" the interaction would have gone south immediately. And this in a country that generally but not always likes foreigners of the white variety. Provocation will get arrested no matter what color you are. I will give Dr. Gates the benefit of the doubt, he was tired, jet-lagged and had years of frustration built into that moment. He reacted badly, maybe the police officer could have been more diplomatic and tried to de-escalate the situation that he had been thrust into but in this case he didn't.
The fact that our president weighted in on the side of Dr. Gates automatically concerns me. I am disappointed.
I realize that I don't truly understand the plight of minorities in the US. But wait maybe I do, I am a woman that has to work an additional 2 months into the following year to make the same as a man. But I don't truly understand the plight of African Americans with the history that clothes them. But I do know about being a minority--I lived years as a Gaijin and while in Hiroshima, I made sure that I avoided streets that costumed groups of wannabe mafia/right-wingers were marching. There were restaurants and bars that I was told that I wasn't welcome in. There were times when Gaijin was said maliciously. And in Hawaii, I walked into a job interview with a panel of local Asians knowing that my chances of getting the job was very very slim. I didn't they hired another local. Perhaps she was equally or more qualified than I was, perhaps not. Maybe the interview panel was being racist, maybe they weren't. No matter, I will always have my lingering suspicious that it was and that in the end is what is important. I realize that enough of these events happen then you start getting a knee-jerk reaction to them no matter what. I think that this is what happened in the Dr. Gates incident. But here is the crux of the matter, enough knee-jerk reactions back will cause equally knee-jerk actions on the other side. And in the end, we have not made any progress. As a foreigner and a minority, I often realized that I represented all foreigners to the people I had interactions with. It was a burden and it is a burden for all African Americans but this is also the reality of being a minority.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Female Sleuth


We all have a story and memories regarding the most famous teenage female sleuth. You know who she is, either you love her or hate her but chances are you have read at least one of her stories. And your mother, and perhaps even your grandmother and if you have one, your daughter. Since the 1930s, timeless Nancy Drew has been thrilling young readers. Women of consequence like Sotomayor, read them as a child and is apparently re-reading them as we speak.
Nancy Drew's Granddaughters was sent to me at work. It's an article from the New York Times, that discusses the influence that Nancy Drew had/has on so many girls lives.
Many felt that in the constricted, protected & traditional environments Nancy gave them the strength to test boundaries. That there was another world out there and that they could have it.
Whenever I pass by the the row of bright yellow covers in the library, memories stir inside me. My first exposure to Nancy Drew was in maybe the 2nd grade. We were allowed to check out one book at school from a very small library and I latched onto a Nancy Drew book. I chose the Secret of the Wooden Lady, I took it home and much to my disappointment my mom pronounced it too difficult for a six year old to read. I declared right back that it wasn't and set about doggedly reading the book. I quickly realized it was indeed too difficult but I was exerting my rights to disagree with a parent so I persevered.
In the 4th grade, my family moved into town. Joy of joys the library was just down the street. With my fresh new library card, I would bee line to long yellow row of perfectly bound books. I love the way that they have substance and are so uniform. Spellbound, I would browse the titles in search of ones that I hadn't read. From the 4th to the 7th grade, I found comfort as I was growing and my world was changing, my place in the library did not shift. Beacons, the yellow covers called me and I yearned to own my own row of mystery. I felt an undying envy for Karen Wessels who owned the entire set when the most I possessed was 4 that I received as birthday and/or Christmas gifts.
Perhaps Nancy and her cohorts did illuminate my way out of Idabel and into the wide world, I am not sure. But my thirst for adventure was definitely stoked if not born with Nancy. By the 7th grade, I had exhausted the library's choices, there were still two mysteries that I hadn't read but they were unavailable. For months, I would comb the collection hoping that they would miraculously appear. With a degree of sadness, I moved from Carolyn Keene's Nancy to Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne and his other Cold War intrigues. Nancy will always be a friend and have a warm place in my heart.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend of Magic



On Friday night after work, I headed up to Lancaster to spend the evening with the sisters. They serve the BEST green chili chicken enchiladas ever! If ever asked the official questions of New Mexico--Red or Green? (Chili that is)My answer will almost always be green. M also came over. The sangria flowed and the conversation was good. After the week I had this was what I needed.
Saturday morning, I slept in for a while and woke up to sister J asking me if I wanted green chili scrambled eggs and the rest of the enchiladas for breakfast. No brainer on that one. Later I went up the street--only went the wrong way once--for Starbucks.
We relaxed a bit longer before heading down to the new Cinemark multiplex in Lancaster to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
This is the much awaited release that was supposed to happen last Fall but Warner Brothers decided to postpone the release date because they were not cash strapped after The Dark Knight and could. Also, putting out HP last fall would have coincided with the release of Twilight. Tween pockets are only so deep, so it made sense to release the movie later. Although the vendors who were cash strapped sitting on a load of HP products that they wouldn't be able to move for 9 more months was a heavy burden. But alas the 9 months have passed, a million new future fans for Harry have been born in the interim.
The movie was as good as anticipated. It is darker, but so is the book. The wizards have discovered sex, as teens are wont to do. The tension was handled very well. Harry gets one kiss and Ron is pretty much snogging throughout the film.
I am impressed at how well the cast has evolved and grown into their roles. The kids have matured as actors, which is good because the story demands more and more as they have to pack up their childhood and meet the demands of a world in crises. In this sense, I feel there are direct parallels between the wizard world on the screen and the real world that our teens have been left. These are uncertain times for our youth.
Personally, I loved Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. His actions and words are terse but entirely effective. He has honed his craft into an art with this character.
Even if you aren't into the the series, this movie is good on its own. Hope you enjoy it.
I spent most of Sunday on my sofa, trying to accommodate Louise and her demands. As a house guest she keeps me worn out. I was able to finish The Dragon Heir by by Cinda Williams Chima. This teen book is the recent addition to The Wizard Heir and The Warrior Heir. There are wizards, warriors, enchanters, and others belonging to the 5 magical guilds walking among us but they are mostly in Trinity, Ohio. The weir (wizard) have for centuries controlled the other guilds. But their abuses have gone to far. Can the young heirs reverse the tide or will they plunge not only their world but also that of the anawier (non-magical you and me)into chaos and destruction. Magic, love, action, betrayal and coming of age make this series a good read.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Doctor Tells Me..

I have a mass and that I need to play the wait and see game for another 3 weeks before we can form a plan. The ultrasound I had earlier this month showed the mass. It is 5 cm. Apparently if a mass is between 5 & 8 cm then there is some wiggle room. Greater than 8 spells immediate surgery. The mass, I will call it Louise,well, Louise doesn't seem to be complex, that is a good thing. However, Louise does seem a little more solid than a simple cyst that might go away on her own. So right now my abdomen has a house guest, the test did not indicate exactly where Louise is staying but she isn't hanging out in my uterus. So a wild party she might have thrown last month is not responsible for the bleeding. Something else is, I need to wait for the biopsy results and the next ultrasound results for us to formulate a plan to evict Louise and any other unexpected guests, if any. I hope Louise is the only guest I am hosting right now.
The Biopsy. This morning at about 6:00, I inserted a little pill that was suppose to help me through the procedure today. From 9:50 to 10:10 I was alone in my little room, I took the time to meditate and calm myself. Something worked because the doctor punched through the cervix on the first try and didn't have to break out his armory of barbs and hooks that were waiting in line. The pain was intense, the most surreal intense pain I have ever felt, but it was short lived. He had to go back for a better sample but the second time was only mildly uncomfortable compared to the first punch.
I have been evaluating my feelings all day today. I feel introspective and a bit subdued but I haven't had a melt down. I am hopeful that this is nothing, a good chance it is. I may have to have surgery to remove the mass and they may or may not be able to save my one surviving ovary. My left one was removed on my 21st birthday. Whoohoo was that ever a memorable birthday.
But at this point there is no need for me to worry, either it is something or it isn't. If it is then I will have to deal with it, if it isn't then I need to count my blessing. There isn't much more to think about it, really. So I won't!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just One of My Many Pet Peeves

The library is free, yes that is true but the library is not a free stationary store. Seriously. We provide golf pencils and slips of paper for people to write information down on. Why golf pencils? Because no one in the world wants a golf pencil. Why slips of paper? Because we try to cut down on waste and recycle as much as possible. All the time I used libraries before becoming a librarian, I never once asked to use anything. Well, maybe a stapler, maybe--but probably not.
Not a day goes by that someone doesn't ask to use a pen, lined paper, the stapler, a highlighter, whiteout, blank paper, etc. etc. etc. I have about 10-15 people ask to use the phone. Probably in the Fall when the Swine Flu returns with a vengeance, I will have to rethink handing the phone over to just anyone after dialing for them.
Yesterday, I had someone ask for a red pen, my teen librarian rooted around our tummy drawer until she came up for one for her. Then today, someone asked for a pen, when I showed her the cup of pens, she said no, she would prefer a marker. What? I explained that that ink pens are what we have for the public. The ink pens that disappear on a weekly basis. We probably go through a couple hundred dollars a year alone in ink pens that people borrow, promising to return but never do. These are probably the same people that checked out the GED books, the ASVAB books, and a Child Called It--the books I never seem to have on the shelf because people don't ever return them.
OK, I feel better now. But seriously...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Public Displays of Annoyance

When I first moved to Hawaii, I lived up in the back of Palolo Valley on some ag condo property. I rented a room in the main house with a fantastic view. A perky blonde Elementary School Teacher and her surf bum husband lived in the garage apartment upstairs. Their apartment and my bedroom shared a wall. About once a week, I would hear screeching littered with curses from their side of the wall. Always she was screaming on the phone wanting to know where the F*** he was and that he had better not come home f***ing drunk. It was somewhat disturbing. But what I found even more disturbing was that inevitable the morning after one of her screaming sessions, I would run into her going to work. As I settled my coffee into its cup holder, she would brightly beam goodness and sunshine at me. I could never figure out if she just pretended the way I did that her household was in good order or if she honestly did not know that the entire property had front row tickets to the best drama on the island.
Last Sunday in Vegas we went to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay. It is pretty cool but by the time I got to the wreck with the sharks swimming around, I was not very subtly scooted out of the way so that 18 month old Mikey could see. Mom ran a narrative that everyone in the area could here. About 10 minutes later I was sitting on the benches waiting for our large party with J and his new girlfriend K. Mom still narrating was trying to get Mikey to smile for the photo. He was not cooperating and for a few seconds I thought she just might wallop him. I looked over at J and said "Somehow I think she is from Jersey or an outer borough." J agreed. I added, "boy I would hate to be over at their house for holiday gatherings." J appropriately shuddered. My very quiet niece was sitting across the way, I nodded at her, "I am the loud on in my family." J added "Your niece would be considered loud in my family." At that point, I cracked up at the on going monologue, J joined me.
At Universal today I was on the City Walk waiting for my niece and a friend's daughter to finish the theme park. I am a chicken so since I had two tickets, I thought it best to invite company along that would be happy to ride any ride. I was sitting outside Ben & Jerry's enjoying my shake when two women sat across from me. It seemed that they were from England or Oz, I can't always tell. One of the women was laying into the other one. For about 5 minutes, she harangued the Woman B about not being thankful for how thoughtful Woman A. She bought her an Obama T-shirt by god and she didn't even say a single thank you. She never registered appreciation for all that Woman A did for her. Clearly I my reading was interrupted by the much more interesting monologue going on in front of me. Sadly, I must have missed a bit while I was trying to to listen in because Woman A ended with "I should hang that bastard by the bollocks the next time I see him. That bastard." It seems that Woman B was not the only person on her LIST.
I am often surprised at our much dirty laundry people are willing to air in public. I was brought up far differently. I am a fairly emotional person, so I have been known to cry and pout in public but I don't remember ever truly acting out. My parents--read this my mother--also fondly known as the Dragon Queen--just would not have put up with it. Apparently I threw one temper tantrum in public and that was it--my mom had a tendency to deal with miss behavior swiftly. She reportedly immediately carried me out of the store, took me home and dealt with me there. Her actions have obviously held a lasting life long impression.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Overworked, Vegas, IQ, EQ and more...

Summer has sped by at a lightening pace. At work we are over worked and understaffed. I have 4 people--that is almost 25% of my staff--on limited duties. We have had record days of circulation. As a busy medium sized library we have a daily circ on our long days of about 1200 items. However, we had two days over 1900 in a row and almost every Monday and Tuesday this past month has been at more than 1500. So we are definitely doing more with less. And the sometimes short tempers show. So I spend most of my day trying to get items back on the shelf so that people can take them and we don't have to hunt around the library looking for them for them--the item that is for the patrons. Last night I had my niece go around the library picking up stray books off the tables and the floor because the one lonely page I had for the eight hours could not work below her knees or above her head or bend very much, or squat, or lift, ect, ect, ect. It could be worse and certainly may get worse with the economy. I only hope that I am a high enough librarian number to withstand the storm that we still haven't found the brunt of yet.
As you may have heard, California has yet to balance the budget and is issuing IOU's. One resource they have up their sleeves is to invoke a proposition passed in the 2004 that would allow the state to borrow money from the cities and counties for 3 years. The money has to be paid back but in the mean time the cities and counties are in trouble. Yes, we live in fear of invocation. The cities and counties are of course up in arms about this. I live in Santa Clarita which although has been hard hit has practiced budgetary restraint apparently since incorporation in the 80's so they are justifiably angry that big Pork fat Sacramento wants to take their hard earned dollars. The county is also angry. I have a big sign in my library urging people to call their legislators today. One patron did, and the legislators office told her that he didn't know why she was calling because the proposition had failed in the last election. This years Prop 1 failed, yes. But not 2004's. Very heartening that a reps office doesn't know what is going on. Yes, I am sure that that call was passed on.
This last weekend was Vegas, me and my $40 cups of coffee. The Starbucks that I usually like to go to outside the casino was closed. So that meant I had to get my morning fix with all the pretty tempting blinking flashy lights. The machines without exception ate my money in the morning. And I know better because I have determined that the machines never never pay out in the mornings. So why do I do it?
I think it is a little thing called Emotional Intelligence and delayed gratification.
Recently I have read--actually I am still reading two of them, ok three of them--books on Emotional Intelligence. It's an interesting concept and supposedly has more impact on your future success or lack there of than intelligence--of which I possess at least an average amount--according to the IQ quiz I took while waiting for the baby to wake up from his nap this weekend. Not my baby mind you. Nope, my genes are out of the pool. Back to EQ. Anyway, once upon a time there was a study that began with 4 year olds and followed them through to adulthood. The 4 year olds in a room with a researcher were given the option when the researcher was called away. "Here is a cookie for you, you can have it but if you wait to eat it until I come back then you can have two cookies." What a dirty trick to play on 4 year olds was my first thought. Well, it turns out that the 4 year olds that were able to delay their gratification for the bigger reward had more EQ and turned out to do much better overall in life than the greedy gobbly 4 year olds that snarfed the cookie as soon as the researcher left the room. As I sat feeding my slot machine early in the morning, I had no doubt which category I would have fallen into as a young child. But there is hope although IQ cannot be alter, EQ on the other hand can be. That I tell myself is why I only spent $15 on Monday on the slots and not because that was all the cash I had in my wallet. Well, I choose to call it an improvement!
And finally, yesterday I had my ultrasound. Much to my regret--I think--the most likely suspect, my thyroid is innocent of all charges. So it is something else. The ultrasound this week and the biopsy next week should sort things out. The entire procedure took about 30 minutes and the technician took a lot of photos. This made me nervous. I asked if she was going to do the vaginal one. Her response "I think so to give a better picture." Crap, I would have preferred--I think--"No, I don't see a need for that." So once I emptied my bladder from the tummy side view, I disrobed and came out to meet the vaginal insertion for the inside look around. All I have to say is not fun. This part of the procedure lasted at least 15 years and although she said she was only going to insert the device--that appeared to be condom covered and well lubricated--just about 3 inches, I think it was the entire 10. Once again a lot of photos. I tried my best to disengage my mind from the lower half of my body. When it was over and I had dressed, she said that the images would be sent to the dr by the end of the week. He's on vacation until next week when I go back for the oh so fun--this is really going to hurt bad, so stick this pill as far up you as you can 4 hours before you come and be sure to take a big dose of ibuprofen beforehand--biopsy. GREAT!!! All I can say is that I definitely did not use my quota of luck in Vegas so maybe I still have some left. I can only hope.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Tao of Pooh & The Te of Piglet



I am always amazed how serendipity works in my life. I want to work and live overseas--I get a phone call asking me if I want to work in Japan. Things aren't working out in Slovakia, I call Japan to ask for the want ads only to find my former employers on their way to unexpectedly place one. I am able to attend an interview because I have the day off because I unexpectedly change jobs as I result I end up in LA.
On the Friday that all this nonsense began, a customer came into the library looking for some books on Taoism. I put him in the right section and then I also suggest that he might be interested in The Tao of Pooh and/or the The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. He asked me if I had read them, and I had to admit that although they were both sitting on my bookshelf to eventually get to that I hadn't. But that I understood that they were quite good. That evening, I decided that if I recommend a book, I really should read it myself. So I got them off my shelf and started through them.
The are quite good and thought provoking. The are also heavily relevant to my current situation and has helped me put it in prospective. One of my favorite stories is in the Te of Piglet to paraphrase here it goes: a farmer has only one horse, the horse runs away; the neighbor comes over and says "How unlucky you are" and the farmer responds "How do you know?" The next day the horse comes back and brings 3 wild horses with it. the neighbor comes over and says "How lucky you are" and the farmer responds "How do you know?" The next day the farmer son breaks his arm trying to ride one of the wild horses. the neighbor comes over and says "How unlucky you are" and the farmer responds "How do you know?" The next day the emperors troops come by to conscript all able-bodied young men--his son is not able to go.
In English we often talk about Blessings in Disguise and Strange Twists of Fate. So it is best not to consider yourself lucky or unlucky we are not sure how the universe has decided that things will unfold. But the book further explains that positive energy will attract the positive and negative energy the negative. It is best to be thankful for what we have period and to strive to be true to our own natures.
The books are fun and easy to get through. The Te of Piglet is actually meatier as far as Taoism is concerned. The only thing that I question in the book is how Hoff tells the West to look at China, Japan and Korea as examples of environmentalism. This when China is a seething cesspool of pollution and government programs are trying to re-engineer nature. Japan until recently allowed home furnaces to burn trash. My balcony in Hiroshima was covered in soot that I had to clean every every week. Although there are fine examples that I am sure each countries have, they are not models by any means.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life is Good


Truly it is. My glass is half full. Sometimes, I forget and instead focus on what I don't have and the disparity between what I have and what I want. But there will always be something that I want, something that I will feel will make my life perfect if only, if only I have this one thing. I acquire it only to find that I am lacking something else. What I should focus on is the half fullness of my life.
If someone had told me at the age of 17 that I would live in Japan, San Francisco, Slovakia, Hawaii and LA; that I would travel around the world, see some amazing sights, meet amazing people and have a very special network of fantastic friends I would have been so exciting. I am quite sure I would have said "Wow, it sounds like I am going to have the best life ever, I can't wait to get started with it." When I think about my life like this, I think I have had it pretty darn good and still do. I love my job, I am working to get out of debt. I have a list of goals to work towards and I have a beautiful niece staying with me this summer. I am getting to know this very special person and in her I see a part of me when I was her age. It is enchanting to see her face light up with wonder or scrunch up in puzzlement with the things that I now take for granted.
Yes, life is good. I have insurance to cover my health issues; the knowledge to know when I am not getting the full picture and the resources to figure things out. So the doctor tells me I have a type of menorrhagia. He is not quite sure why, but the most likely suspects are that my thyroid is confused and is sending confused messages to my ovary; my ovary may be confused on it its own; or a fibroid may have ripped the uterus. Not as likely but also possible is cancer. We have to sort out the cause before the solution can be discussed but the solution ranges from endometrial ablation or hormone therapy to a hysterectomy with the latter being the worst case scenario. On Thursday I had my blood drawn for a full panel thyroid test; the same test that I fought with my doctor a year ago to get. Now I am getting it which only proves that you should be careful what you ask for. Next month after I come back from Vegas I will have an ultrasound and then two weeks later I will have a uterine biopsy. The doctor has promised that this nifty little procedure will be very painful since I have never had children. I am on holding pattern for the next month. I have stocked up on sanitary products because I will need them. I wonder if I will notice when my next period comes or if it will all just bleed into one. Oh, cripes that was an unintentionally bad pun.
I had a mini meltdown after the office visit. But then I thought, things could be much worse. Many people have far greater health issues without the knowledge, resources or support network to deal with them. Yes, I don't appreciate putting up with the nonsense of having to wear dark clothes and the prospect of dealing a minimum of 6 weeks of PMS but I am not in any pain or real discomfort. I also understand the source of my irritability which makes it easier to deal with. As far as menorrhagia goes the glass is half full.
Life is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Can a Small Gland Cause So Much Trouble


The thyroid is a small but mighty butterfly shaped gland that will mess you up but good if it decides to malfunction. I've been back from my Road Trip for a week now. It was fantastic and I will post photos and details a bit later. Since my return I have been dealing with apparently thyroid stuff. UGH!!! That and what might be a bladder infection. Doctor says sitting for long hours in the car may have contributed to it. Yeah! What a souvenir to bring back. It seems to me whenever some thing unusual goes on in my body and I do a bit of research on the list of likely suspects is Thyroid. I have read quite a bit on the thyroid so I am wondering why I am constantly being taken by surprise. It is almost like someone out there has perverse pleasure in withholding information until you go digging for it. What I would like to have is "So you have hypothyroidism now, here are all the things that may go wrong with you." That little yellow pill is not a magic panacea like you were told it would be. You will never be the same again. But then we would all go to bed and hide under the covers hoping to wake up from this nasty dream. Here is my favorite. I am reading a diet book--I have gained no less than 45 pounds since I started exhibiting thyroid symptoms. The book starts off saying that weight gain is simply an input output calculation and no one really has a slow metabolism...UNLESS YOU HAVE A THYROID CONDITION. Talk about knocking the wind out my sail. Let me just pack those size 10s up and give them to Goodwill because I will probably never be able to wiggle them over my hips again. This is a particularly sensitive topic to me at the moment because I gained 10 pounds during my road trip. AGAIN. Every time I travel, I gain 10 pounds. I came home and now my non-stretchy clothes don't want to fit.
So what is my new thyroid induced problem, well most women seem to have it for five days a month. I am now thanks to my thyroid possibly blessed with significantly more light days. Doctor says that it is most likely a hormone imbalance and there is a pill for that. But in Hawaii, my Gyno told me that hormones were the most likely culprit for heart palpitations and to stay away from hormones. Joy. Probably both hit the nail on the head. Fantastic. Yes, irritability for most of the month makes me so happy. I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this.