Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What is/are your biggest strength/s? or the good the bad and the ugly

Quick, when was the last time you heard that question (and was it perhaps accompanied by the inevitable "what is/are your biggest weakness/es)?
Some unknown force (midlife crisis, too much gang warfare, junior-high-school hi-jinx, aeon flux?) is telling me it's time to try movin' on up in library land. Thus, in addition to my usual library lit reading, i've been perusing The Librarian's Career Guidebook edited by Priscilla K. Shontz. This is actually quite a useful book that i wish i had picked up much earlier--perhaps back in library school--it offers advise and guidance for all stages of library careers from choosing the library profession (and all the different areas within the profession) to the "experienced", managerial, and administrative aspects of the job. There is also a companion website.
Anyway i prep for an interview like i prep for other things (and then i always seem to get there and all sorts of things seem to come flying out of my mouth unbidden.) All the time i'm thinking "is this really what i want, and at least now i'll get it over with" but then i get there and it's only a screening interview~IF i get past the first i have to do it all over again~such is life i suppose...
why do we stress so over things that always seem to follow scripts anyway?
I did have one interview once that didn't follow the script at all~i think it may have started out that way (interestingly enough it was the one interview i "lied" in too. Quotation marks are added because it ended up being only self deception--i was interviewing for a bookstore in a college town that only hired full-town employees and the manager asked for a year's commitment. I was in library school and was looking for a summer job. The lie i thought i was telling him was that in the fall i was only going back to school part-time when i actually intended to go back full-time and find other, part-time work. Financial and other concerns forced me to go back to school part-time and i ended up working for the bookstore eight years~beyond graduation from library school, after i got a library job, even after moving to another state~now that's what you get for lying in a job interview (or at least that's what i get).
Anyway, back to my point~the only thing i remember about the (hour-long) interview (other than my not-lie) is hearing about how my manager used to be a philosophy professor (before he was a bookstore manager) and how he met his wife (he was her professor, she was his student~hmm...) He did at least 90% of the talking. At the time i thought, "this is a rather odd interview, this is an interesting (or maybe interesting/pecular guy). The oddest thing about all of that was, that, after working there for quite some time, i learned that talkative, he was NOT, and that none of my coworkers had interviews like mine.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

what is a rogue economist--and is that anything like a rampaging librarian?

So i just finished Freakonomics: a Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (the Rogue Economist) and Stephen J. Dubner (why do i like to begin sentences with so--is that normal--not that i would want to be considered normal just wondering--and who exactly AM i addressing?). ANYWAY the book was wonderfully interesting, amusing and ever so slightly disturbing...
If you find the thought of reading about reading about economics incredibly boring don't worry about it, Leavitt finds regular economic theory a bit wearisome as well--he asks questions such as "What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common; why do drug dealers still live with their moms; what is more dangerous: a gun or a swimming pool; and what really is in a name.
More than anything else this book will really make you think, and ask questions (or at least it did me) and it makes a hell of alot of sense.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Crying into the Floor

smell of Beer Soaked Air
Empty Cans,
Half Empty Cans,
Full Cans
moving, knocking, falling
with any movement

which is difficult
wedged between a coffee table
and Someone's back
not enough warmth
not enough clothing
not enough knowledge

(or too much)

laughing, crying, shrieking,
Large and Shuddering
Into the Floor
to Muffle the sound
breathing Beer
so much Beer
and not having
crying into the Floor
Someone else's Floor.

and Before
it was
Please, Please, Please
it was
Love me
Please Love me
it was
and pain
and ecstasy
it was Please
and biting back tears
and biting back pleasure
it was biting back
and holding in
it was so much
and too full
and on the verge
and it was Please
and it was
Why and
and it was
it was almost
Tears and it was almost
Something else
it was almost.

and before
it was getting off early
and sitting at His table
and driving in my car
and sitting on Someone's floor
and moving to the couch
and not speaking and
Not leaving
and being left to
on Someone else's floor
Between the lines
it progressed
and I did not see the
but I felt it
and it was conversations with the Mirror
in the Bathroom
and it was thinking
No, No, No
my body braced
and it was knowing
and wanting
and not wanting
and it had
Been so Long
and it was happening
and it was No
and Please
Please, Please
and almost tears

and after
it was
crying into the Floor

and after
it was wondering
and praying for sleep

and after
it was renewal

and After
it was
"What are you doing here?"
and it was
"sleeping on your floor."
and it was confusion
and it was almost tears
and it was
Someone else's house.

and I cannot wish it did not happen
but I can want More
and it is Please
Please, Please...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

FDA caves to political pressure: or whatever happened to medical science?

I guess that it really isn't all that surprising that an agency with the world "Federal" starting out it's title owes more allegiance to politics than it does to science but i am really disappointed in the statement the FDA came out with on April 20 (i don't really know how effective the above link is or how long it will be valid for so i will just post the original article from Medscape) :

Medical Marijuana: Politics Trumps Science at the FDA
Posted 05/17/2006
by Gregory T. Carter, MD; Bruce Mirken
For a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) increasingly mired in controversies over the politicization of scientific and regulatory decisions, the agency's April 20, 2006 statement regarding medical use of marijuana may represent an all-time low point. Politics, it appears, has now completely trumped science at this once proudly independent agency. The FDA has announced that "no sound scientific studies" support the medical use of marijuana, contradicting an increasingly large body of scientific literature. To those of us who do research in this area, this is a personal affront. Even the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) own Administrative Law Judge, the Honorable Francis Young, stated in 1988, "Marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man..." He went on to say, "The evidence clearly shows that marijuana is capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. . .it would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance." Perhaps more remarkable were the conclusions of President Nixon's Shafer Commission, who were appointed to investigate marijuana's available scientific and medical evidence. To the shock and dismay of President Nixon, the Commission found enough evidence to recommend that marijuana be decriminalized. The FDA's announcement is puzzling at many levels. It makes no mention of any recent FDA analysis or investigation, regulatory filing, or any other activity within the normal scope of the agency's work that led to this policy change. Thus, there is no indication as to why the agency chose to issue this opinion at this particular moment. Rather than being based on new data or analysis, the statement appears to have been issued in response to the repeated requests from US Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), a vehement opponent of medical marijuana use. Souder wrote to acting FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach on January 18, 2006, saying, "I am exasperated at the FDA's failure to act against the fraudulent claims about 'medical' marijuana." He urged that the FDA "post accurate information about the claims of 'medical' marijuana on its website." After 2 months he renewed the request, taking an impatient tone: "I have yet to receive a response from the Food and Drug Administration regarding my January 18, 2006 letter to you about the FDA's failure to provide any meaningful information on its website about the dangers of marijuana. I am quite concerned that the FDA does not take seriously the threat posed by marijuana, our nation's most abused drug." The FDA's missive appears to be just what Souder wanted; it asserts that there is a lack of evidence regarding the medical value of marijuana and argues that state laws permitting medical use of marijuana without criminal penalty "are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process." The statement concludes by saying that the FDA, along with 2 nonmedical agencies, the DEA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, "do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes."
We beg to differ with Mr. Souder, who, to our knowledge has no scientific background or medical training. The scientific studies that document the medical efficacy and safety of smoked marijuana are published in peer-reviewed medical journals and are available through the National Library of Medicine. In our experience, the medical peer-review process is very harsh and stringent. Thus, it is not likely that the hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles published documenting the benefits of marijuana contain "fraudulent claims."
Moreover, maybe the FDA and Mr. Souder are not aware that The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Institute of Medicine have previously issued statements of support for medical marijuana and have called for further investigation. The Institute of Medicine reviewed the issue a second time at the request of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, resulting in a 1999 report which declared, "Nausea appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana."
While expressing concern over the risks of smoking, the Institute noted that for some patients -- particularly those with terminal conditions or who do not respond to standard therapies -- those risks would be "of little consequence." The report added pointedly, "We acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting."
This was, in fact, the prior stance taken by the FDA itself, before this sudden turnaround. Perhaps the FDA has forgotten that doctors can prescribe dronabinol (Marinol), which is 100% pure synthetic delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the most powerful psychoactive compound in marijuana, and it is placed in the same category as the prescription strengths of ibuprofen, meaning a physician can phone in the prescription. Furthermore, the recent discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system with specific receptors and ligands has increased our understanding of the actions of marijuana. The cannabinoid system appears to be intricately involved in normal human physiology, specifically in the control of movement, pain, memory and appetite, among others. Widespread cannabinoid receptors have been discovered in the brain and peripheral tissues. The cannabinoid system represents a previously unrecognized ubiquitous network in the nervous system.
There is a dense receptor concentration in the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and hippocampus, accounting for the effects on motor tone, coordination, and mood state. There are very few cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem, which may explain marijuana's remarkably low toxicity. There has never been a lethal overdose of marijuana reported in humans. In addition, we have shown that marijuana can be dosed, much like other prescribed drugs. Moreover, in some instances patients report it as more therapeutic and better tolerated than other medications.
Despite all of this scientific documentation, following the recent Supreme Court ruling [Gonzales v. Raich], Drug Czar John Walters commented, "The medical marijuana farce is done." He then added, "I don't doubt that some people feel better when they use marijuana, but that's not modern science. That's snake oil." But isn't the very definition of palliative care the abatement of suffering in order to make patients "feel better"? Isn't that what doctors and other health professionals are supposed to do for a living?
In what appears to be an effort to justify the issuance of a statement on medical marijuana with no evident scientific or regulatory reason to do so, the FDA misrepresents the nature and purpose of state medical marijuana laws, stating, "A growing number of states have passed voter referenda (or legislative actions) making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor's recommendation," suggesting that such laws "seek to bypass the FDA drug approval process." If that were the case, the FDA might arguably have an interest in opining about such laws. But as a general rule, the 11 state medical marijuana laws do not make marijuana available or in any way address the issue of marketing or sales. Rather, they simply protect patients who meet certain conditions (usually including a physician recommendation and/or diagnosis with a qualifying condition) from arrest and punishment under state laws that otherwise forbid marijuana possession or cultivation, Indeed, the lack of a legal means for patients to obtain marijuana for medical use has been a source of controversy in some states that have adopted medical marijuana laws.
One wonders: Does the FDA not understand the difference between licensing a drug for marketing and simply choosing not to arrest individuals who possess that drug under certain conditions? Does the agency believe that arrest and imprisonment are appropriate ways of dealing with a patient's choice to self-treat with an herbal product not approved as a medicine by the FDA?
The recent change of heart by the FDA is disappointing on many levels. This is certainly not the first time the FDA has been accused of letting politics trump science. However, it is the duty of the FDA to be an impartial scientific body and not rent itself out to political agendas. Arguably, marijuana is neither a miracle compound nor the answer to everyone's ills. Yet it is not a compound that deserves the tremendous legal and societal commotion that has surrounded its use. Over the past 30 years, the United States has spent billions in an effort to stem the use of illicit drugs, including marijuana, with limited success. Some very ill people have had to fight long court battles to defend themselves for having used a compound that has helped them. There is no evidence that recreational marijuana use is any higher in states that allow for its medicinal use. Moreover, prohibition strategies have never proven terribly effective at limiting the use of a substance - whether it be alcohol or other compounds -- for any reason.
Rational, apolitical minds need to take over the debate on marijuana, separating myth from fact, right from wrong, and responsible, medicinal use from other, less compelling usages. However one feels about nonmedical use of marijuana, in our opinion, the medicinal marijuana user should not be considered a criminal in any state. The scientific process continues to document the therapeutic effects of marijuana through ongoing research and assessment of available data. With regard to the medicinal use of marijuana, our federal government and legal system should take a similar approach, using science and logic, rather than politics, as the basis of policymaking. This recent change of policy by the FDA, with politics apparently taking precedence over science, is disappointing and unwarranted.

Okay then, sorry for that excessively LONG quote, but i couldn't have stated it any better (and of course i have no medical credentials behind my name). Now, for a couple of my own comments: our most abused drug? come on! (i know that some would argue for our most talked about illegalized substances) but i would say we have some major problems with those two legalized, somewhat socially sanctioned drugs (and Yes they are DRUGS): alcohol and cigarettes.

Let me pause just a moment here to recommend a truly wonderful book: From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs by Andrew Weil and Winifred Rosen. In this book you may learn that alcohol is our most toxic drug and tobacco, in the form of cigarettes, "is one of the most addictive drugs known, equivalent to crack cocaine or ice. It is harder to break the habit of smoking cigarettes than it is to stop using heroin or alcohol." (just ask anyone who's tried to quit!) For more on this try the following:

"Alcohol thus ranks at the dangerous end of the toxicity spectrum. So despite the fact that about 75 percent of all adults in the United States enjoy an occasional drink, it must be remembered that alcohol is quite toxic. Indeed, if alcohol were a newly formulated beverage, its high toxicity and addiction potential would surely prevent it from being marketed as a food or drug. This conclusion runs counter to the common view that one's own use of alcohol is harmless. That mistaken impression arises for several reasons."

"What people frequently do not realize is that the cigarette is a very efficient and highly engineered drug-delivery system. By inhaling, the smoker can get nicotine to the brain very rapidly with every puff. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over a period of 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1-1/2 packs (30 cigarettes) daily, gets 300 "hits" of nicotine to the brain each day. These factors contribute considerably to nicotine's highly addictive nature."

FDA, FDA, FDA always tends to get my blood boiling: charge me more money for the drugs that don't work as well as they could and tie my healers' hands behind their backs, and just help BIG PHARMA market their poisons; all in the name of protection...i can think of another word that starts with F....
Anyway i sense a bit of rant boiling up and since it is still my birth month and therefore the season of the rampaging taurean, maybe i should step off my soapbox get back to my original task...

Monday, May 22, 2006

i am drowning in Stuff

Why do (some of us) seem to hang on to so much? I know that at least part of my reasoning is that if i hang on to THINGS i can hang on to the feelings or memories attached to them, but is that really true?
Now i am living in a two bedroom house with a basement full of boxes (boxes that have seemed to follow me year after year, move after move, state after state, some never being unpacked) that i am Trying to sort through and it is going SO slowly. I try to hit it when i am in a "throwing out" kind of mood"
My biggest problem--perhaps not surprisingly is books (check out my library--and those are just the unpacked items!)--first of all i worked too many years in bookstores--secondly i know how quickly things go out of print and feel that i need to snatch books up before they go out of print~tho with the Internet that is not so much of a problem. I do have a problem with a book addiction~you Would think a librarian would be a little better about checking things out, and often i do--but then some things i just feel i MUST own plus there are those i have yet to read so how do i know if i'll need them or not?
When i unpack a box of stuff that's not books sometimes its almost like Christmas (sometimes not) because some of the STUFF has been packed away so long i've forgotten i owned it--and then there are those things i've bought twice, or thrice...
My mom says she's a pack rat because she was a depression baby--so what's my excuse?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Every man's an island

and i know that's not the original quotation but i remain unconvinced~in the end we're all alone. I really don't mean to sound pessimistic here, just realistic~isn't that how it goes, we can never convince another person of our opinion or truly make them see our side of things no matter how hard we try or how long we talk and no one can really get inside our heads. And we always die alone. I'm not sure what my point here is and i'm really not trying to be cynical or depressed~i guess we can just express ourselves to the best of our ability, put it out there in the world and leave it at that.
just a thought...
"I want to learn how to make translations from the languages nobody knows, nobody speaks. The translations will not be as good as the originals, but then they never are."
-Ursula K. Le Guin

conspiracy theory anyone?

Once upon a time (i just love that opening phrase--maybe latent fairy tale writing tendencies i don't know--tho this wasn't so very long ago) my profile, like so many other profiles included an interests section which read a little something like this (or, more precisely, it read exactly like this since i just copied this from the edit profile section of my blog--interesting that): Joss Whedon is a genius! ...other than that (the obvious) my interests are many and varied-one of the main reasons i became a librarian is because i wanted to continue my quest for learning, my thirst for the continual acquisition of knowledge and i did not want to limit myself to any one area--i dread specialization--so here i am--i want to learn everything about everything. (and in college i was an acting major i wanted to be everyone but myself--experience everything there was to experience)
And now this section has disappeared even though it is still in my edit profile section--is it perhaps because i did not separate my (mostly unnamed) interests with commas as directed?
Anyway while i'm on the subject allow me to mention the genius that is Joss Whedon and of course Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now i started watching BTVS with the airing of the very first episode--vampire lore being one of my guilty pleasures from junior high school on. But i watched alone, every once in a while the boyfriend would interrupt an episode on as he stopped by to pick me up on his way home from work but he never showed much interest. With the release of the DVD sets i finally managed to lure a few unsuspecting victims into the Buffyverse.
Someday i plan to get a PhD in Buffy studies--i already have one eight foot shelf filled with Buffy books (never knew there were such things as philosophical tomes written on all things Buffy didya?) oh well, one more of my dirty little secrets revealed...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

who would have thought?

I don't know quite how to categorize this one: teen stupidity/naivete or rampant, widespread blogging overtaking an already crowded Internet? Apparently, Alan Levine has a blog in which he wrote about blogs as diaries, and he posted a screenshot and link to someone Else's blog as an example (someone else named Gemma whom i am NOT going to link to for reasons which may or may not become obvious). Gemma was quite upset that he might link to her own personal, private diary without requesting her permission. Now, i find myself wondering, where did Gemma get the idea that an entry in LiveJournal is ENTIRELY private (despite promises made by the owners, the Internet, after all, is public domain, is it not?) And there is a slight exhibitionist desire in posting to blogs, to begin with, perhaps.
I think that this false sense of privacy and security is the very problem with idiotic efforts like the afore mentioned DOPA, meant to protect children/teens/people of unfortunate intelligence from Internet predators.
First of all the name is entirely misleading (aside from the fun we can have with the acronym and the DOPES that came up with it) the very idea that predators can be deleted from the Internet is absurd. Secondly, it really is the wrong approach to try and protect/shield the children/whoever from predators in schools/public libraries/wherever access may be because, as we all know, or should know by now, filters don't work--as soon as something is filtered people find a way to get past it and the kiddies/little darlings Will find a way to access the Internet.
What the senators/representatives/parents seem to want to do is shield themselves from the dangers that are out there; i.e. hide behind their hands/blindfolds, hide their heads in the sand, whatever. What our children need, have always needed is EDUCATION, INFORMATION (i know it's a lost art people but we're in Dire Need here--please) talk to your precious youngsters~tell them EVERYTHING they post can be viewed by others, and not always with the best intentions--that not all their friends may be friends, know where they are and what they're into. Schools and Libraries are there for education why should we block it? Pardon the cliche but you did the crime (at some point there was sex involved--you can admit it) now do the time.
Okay, i sense i may be ranting and it's time to stop--believe me with the current political climate i have much more in me but at the moment there is a very noisy preschool graduation going on in our auditorium; and i am, guess what, alone at the desk--i'm feeling the urge to rampage...
Now, i may title an entry of my own something like "Don't read this" but it is with my tongue firmly implanted in my check and even if you can't see that out there in Internet land i don't really care because often telling someone not to do something often provokes the very desire in them to do it.

Ursula the wise

Once upon a time (years and years ago--way back in my college days) i took a women's studies
class in women's lit--i was supposed to take it with my mom but she never showed up for class. Anyway the professor was always reading this Ursula K. Le Guin book called Dancing at the Edge of the World: thoughts on words, women, places before class, during breaks, writing exercises, whatever. For some reason i was really drawn to that book and kept waiting for her to use it in class, which she never did.
So now i am finally reading it on my own and it is a wonderful collection of talks, prose poetry, essays (a few wonderful personal takes on politics which are MUST READS), and reviews (of course as Ursula is terribly wise). She takes on C.S. Lewis, Doris Lessing (another wonderful author who everyone should read--and never should on yourself as my mother would say), John Gardner, Italio Calvino and even throws in some discussion of her own Lathe of Heaven (yet another of my all time favorites and a very quick and thought provoking read--definitely check this one out--i'll have you sold on Ursula at some point!) Anyway if you know Ursula's (and you've just gotta love that name--at least i do) fiction you really need to read some of her non-fiction it really shows not only her vast intelligence in such broad areas, and how well read she really is, but what a wry sense of humor she has.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Don't Read This

Have you heard of DOPA (a lovely acronym for "Deleting Online Predators Act")? Basically it's a bill proposed by one of our wonderful dopes, er republican representatives, designed to keep the kiddies and other vulnerable being safe on the Internet as an addition to CIPA (already in place in federally funded schools and libraries). This one would filter out (schools and libraries who don't comply face loosing federal funding) all "social networking" sites (of course the current Big Bad is MySpace but there is always a new one on the horizon--the actual wording of the bill is "collaborative networking" and would bar access to a wide variety of sites--pretty much everything including blogs, ims, wikis, email--anything to which anyone may add personal content. (First of all--once we filter all that out--what do we really have left?
Now what this mainly suggests to me is that those guys up on the hill really have about as much understanding of the Internet as they do that the library is a SAFE place (sure drop your kids off here in the morning and expect them to be here--in the exact same condition--when you're done gallivanting at the end of the night--oh right another issue entirely--sorry)
Anyway, this is a blog, so it will soon be filtered for your own protection.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

everything that rises must converge

Something Rising (Light and Swift) by Haven Kimmell has been on my-to-be-read pile forever and i finally picked it up--something about this book and her voice really spoke to me--i felt like i could so relate to the character of Cassie even though she lived a life completely different than mine--it's like she spoke my thoughts. Her writing is absolutely lyrical.
Actually Cassie's temper is sometimes carried (just a little) further than mine, but this is a novel after all (and sometimes i would love to carry mine that far-did carry it a little far in a few childhood episodes.) I could connect with the pool playing (did a bit a pool hustling myself back in college--never would have guessed wouldya?), father issues, etc.
Many amazon reviewers didn't like this book much--i loved it--to each his own i guess (and to answer one reviewers complaint about physics and geometry: MY physics teacher asked many of his questions in the form of pool table analogies and the pool shark i learned from talked in terms of physics angles, etc--so at least Some pool sharks think in those terms, though not ALL.)

our mothers/ourselves

so i just hung up on my mother... (quite childish of me... ehh?)
and i'm not even sure we were having an argument. I won't even try to go into details because it is too much and too little just suffice it to say she was being maternal and i was being childish or something like that.

and now i'm smoking a cigarette (a stale clove cigarette, contraband in this state, i don't smoke, but i had i craving, plus there's the rebellion issue...) i had been driving home from a lovely evening out with friends and had been thinking of buying one of those single cigarettes but decided against it in a fit of adultness and look at me now.
and oddly enough (or not so oddly enough) an early tarot reading had the empress show up.
is it only girls who have maternal issues (i'm forty years old and i'm calling myself a girl)?
and boys have paternal issues?
or all Americans have parental issues???
Debborah Tannen in her book You're Wearing That?: Mothers and Daughters In Conversation says that our mothers are the only people we would ever think of hanging up, on but my mother hangs up on me quite often. It goes both ways--and always will.
Now where to find an ashtray in a non-smoking house?

Friday, May 12, 2006

what time does your clock say?

I try to keep the clock in my car ten minutes fast because i have a tendency to be late for work. More than helping me to be more punctual (IF it does in fact do that) it brings up questions. Like: if i know the clock is ten minutes fast and i'm always adjusting for that does it really do any good? And since time is relative (and really just a man-made invention anyway) what do i set it ten minutes fast to--the clock at work, which never seems to be consistent, but the main place requiring punctuality; or the main time out in the ether--perhaps according to my cellphone or cable dvr?
I used to have an old analog alarm clock(that's a clock with a face for you younguns) with a short cord, and a little lever that pulled out to turn on the alarm (pushed in to turn off). If the room was quiet enough you could hear the slightest hum when it was running and it made a horrendous buzzing noise when the alarm went off. This alarm clock worked for me from whatever time i had to start using an alarm clock (which was probably quite early in life because i've always been a night owl who absolutely hates morning--mom says it was hard to put me down from my earliest days) At some point i learned to push the lever in at the small buzz it made right before the large screeching noise when it really went off. Then my body learned to not really wake up after doing so. Luckily (read my longed for sarcastic font) i had a stepfather who would come downstairs to shower in the morning and on his way back upstairs would stop by my bedroom, armed with a pillow, which he would hurl at me, yelling in a terrible, shrieking voice "RISE AND SHINE!" Now that would wake me up (if it didn't, it was cold water dumped in my face.)
After the departure of my stepfather i had to get a backup alarm clock which i put across the room so i would actually have to get out of bed to turn it off. After a few months the alarm function seemed to stop working so i got a new one, which also stopped functioning after a few months. One morning i woke up in the middle of my bedroom walking back to bed after having turned off the alarm. I finally had about three alarms with different alarm noises i would switch out every couple of months so i couldn't get used to the noise. (but such tricks still don't solve the problem--one time when i was on an out of time business trip i woke up in the hotel room, sitting up in bed, cross-legged, facing the headboard, with the hotel's clock radio in my lap in mid-thought " if i can just figure out how to get this guy to stop talking..."--not only do i sleep-walk i have unconscious/conscious thought).
Now when i was living with my boyfriend we had a clock with a his and hers alarm and he would set his alarm for earlier than mine (alarm clock on his side of the bed) and then hit the snooze alarm every ten minutes for about an hour. Which brings up the question: to snooze or not to snooze? Is it better to set the alarm early if you're not going to get out of bed at that time or for the latest that you can possibly get up? Is sleep more enjoyable if you realize that you are somehow sneaking it in? All i know is that it got to be really annoying about the seventh time he would hit that snooze button.
Now i seem to have different time zones for different rooms of my house--i think this might have started with above mentioned boyfriend--bedroom time was set earliest to get us moving (again the question of who are we really fooling here?) Sometimes i get to the right time and then just look away and hold down the button for a while so i never really know how far ahead it is, though after awhile i tend to figure it out (this is usually taken care of though by the fact that my bedroom/kitchen is on a strange electric circuit that often gets overloaded if the microwave and fridge unpredictably suck too much power at the same time and i must go flip the switch--thus resetting the bedroom clock to midnight and sometimes i don't bother to change it at all so the bedroom is its own little twilight zone and i don't know the time at all until i leave...)
Luckily enough thanks to modern day conveniences the "official time" is always pumped into my house (and conveniently updated at those pesky DST changeovers) through the TV black boxes which is what i use for the "official time" (aren't you glad to hear all of these personal little neuroses?)
Anyway are you curious to know what i use for an alarm clock now? I'll tell you anyway, my old cellphone, which is still updated with the time for some reason and always wakes me (again for an unknown reason--perhaps because i always have to find it before i can turn it off?)
anyway, i'll shut up now--at least for a second.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

you say it's your birthday; it's my birthday too... yeah!

I took the day off work today for my birthday. Took the rest of the weekend off too for that matter--and i always have Mondays off--don't know if i had something in mind when we made vacation requests at the beginning of the year--and can i just say here, that as a poor, single librarian who likes to live her life with at least a little spontaneity--and of course the possibility of a migraine or two or more and their aftermath interfering with even the best laid plans--with no yearly ski trips to Switzerland, nor spring breaks in Cabo, nor summers on the Seine, etc, etc, etc, already embossed on my calendar, deciding in December exactly what days i will be wanting to take off for the coming year always seems a bit daunting! if i did have something in mind it seems to be gone now so i've pretty much decided to spend the time on much belated "spring cleaning". The house is getting out of control, verging on disgusting, and even though i have put great effort and concentration into focusing any magical energy toward the self-cleaning properties of said house have failed to emerge. The cats who seem to think they own both me and the house (and of course everything in it) have proven COMPLETELY unwilling to lift even a single paw (although even if i could train them to do housework or whatever tasks i needed i would probably have PETA or some other animal organization on my ass so i can't really win on that front.)

So today i am ohmygod 40 and people keep asking me how i feel--do i feel 40 (how exactly is 40 supposed to feel?) and all i really feel is tired ('though that might have something to do with the no-sleep-for-two-days/night-due-to-the/combined/with-the-migraine--is it better to blame it on that or excuse it to advancing age?)

And did i mention that my youngest cat, Demetra, had her first birthday today as well

«-here she is as an adorable kitten

and here she is as a disagreeable model (the one-year-old she is today) -»
who doesn't hold still~and also doesn't seem to have any eyes~she does have eyes i swear (such are the trials and tribulations when your only digital camera is your cellphone) though she's still my baby and i love her almost to death, of course, as if that really needed to be said, but just in case...

Or so i decreed (about the birthday) she was born sometime mid-May so i let her share my day (or rather~maybe i wanted someone to share it with). I say, that as an adopted child, her birth date, as an adopted cat, is as correct as mine (did you know that they change birth dates on adoptee's birth certificates? Just to make it all the more difficult in the birth parent search i suppose--i was quite disillusioned when i learned that the birth date i had been celebrating all my life might not actually be mine but again OH WELL--such a lovely all occasion phrase that, is it not? -please grant me some parenthetical leniency on my birthday :)

Monday, May 08, 2006

how many books are there in a trilogy, anyway?

It's been said there are no stupid questions, but after years in the reference/book biz i beg to differ. At the very least i have had more than a few annoying conversations that i would have preferred not to have been a party to.
Last week a woman called because her husband had a book on hold and she wanted to know if we had the title available in large print. Our library's privacy policy prevents us from telling people (even spouses) what titles are on other peoples cards; so i couldn't look up the card and she didn't know the title; but she kept asking me if it was available in large print, and i kept explaining that it was rather difficult for me to tell her that without knowing the title, she said that she didn't know but it was by Nora Roberts (only three-hundred-and-something Nora Roberts titles in our catalogue), after going round and round on this for a while she finally told me it had a flower name as it was part of the In the Garden trilogy. So i start scanning the large print list for flower names. Red Lily? "No, I started with that one." Okay, there's Black Rose how about that one? "No, I'm reading that one now, I'm reading backwards in the trilogy." (okay, whatever) Blue Dahlia, is the first book in the series and we do have that in large print, shall i put it on hold for you? "No i've read that." Okay well it's a trilogy and you've read all three books in the trilogy. "Yes" (...?) (and we are not talking a Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker trilogy here). But she is still looking for this "other" mystery title, so we continue on this rather tedious merry-go-round for a while, when she finally suggests that her husband come in to pick up the book, come home and tell her the title, then she can call back and ask if we have it in large print. I then suggest that when her husband comes in he can just ask about large print availability while he's here (because of course, we all know that if she calls back Murphy's Law states i'll be the one to answer the phone and i do not want to talk to her again) and finally this seemingly interminable conversation ends, neither one of us more enlightened than we were to begin with.
And then there were the two women who came into the bookstore at Christmastime looking for the children's book that had a title beginning with the word "The". They stood in front of me at the counter making that circling motion with their hands saying "you know, The..." and the problem was they wouldn't stop, they just kept standing there, repeating "The..." they didn't know anything else about the book but they didn't understand why that wasn't enough to go on. Finally someone else came up to the counter who needed to be rung up and they went off in search of someone who knew a little more about books than i did.
Another time i'm standing at the info desk when a woman comes up and insists that the books are not in any kind of order whatsoever and she can't find the novel she's looking for, "They are NOT arranged by author like they should be!" When i walk with her to the shelf and pull the book right from where it is supposed to be her response is, "oh, well I'm from out of town." and it is SO hard for me to NOT say "They don't have the alphabet where you're from?"
And the woman who walked all the way around the information desk at the library with a very confused look on her face, when i finally asked her if i could help her she asked "Just what kind of information do you give out here anyway?" Tempted to ask her for the secret password, i instead tried to very simply explain the nature of reference librarianship and she then asked me what they did at the circ desk which i also explained (wondering if she had ever seen an information desk anywhere--mall, airport, etc--i mean is information such an uncommon entity?)
I suppose the upside is with such an uninformed populace, we "Information Professionals" can maintain our job security--although as i am constantly reminded (especially as in the last instance) those most in need of our services don't even know they need it!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

so today I was shushed

and i was not terribly happy about it!
I go downtown to the main City Library (not a part of my system--it's the new big urban branch that is so modern and "urbane" with the coffee bar and all the shops--the one that when i tell people i'm a librarian they always ask--"oh the new downtown library?"--no not that one) to meet my bookgroup and discuss The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (which i finally read by the way--great book by one of my favorite authors--won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards) and we met in a meeting corner of the library.
As we were talking i noticed a security guard who kept going in and out of his office located near where we were meeting and he kept eyeing us. Now, as a librarian, i believe i know what volume is acceptable in a library, especially in a corner, next to a fireplace with no other patrons around (although perhaps i'm mistaken here.) We had been having our discussion for a couple of hours when the security guard came up to us and gave us the little "lowered hand" symbol meaning "keep it down" which was fine with me, though i failed to see what had suddenly changed about the volume of our conversation, but then he felt the need to add, in a condescending tone, "This is a Library!" which just slightly set me off and i repressed the urge to say "Yes, and i'm a librarian, Mr. Security Guard," which of course would have been totally uncalled for and probably slightly provocative in the sense of escalating the situation, but you know how it goes (or maybe i'm making an assumption here...)
and to think, just the other day i was relishing the art of shushing...

in the waning hours (before the end)

Do i want you to be my daddy?
And if so when will you leave me?
What are the stories you will tell me before you go?
Is it the stories i receive comfort from?
The times you rock me in you arms,
back and forth across the floor,
stories about old shep –i think he’s dying–think he’s leaving in the end
stories about monk-the-monk (that’s me) monk the monk- doesn’t he fall to his knees in the end–no support
but old shep–there was always old shep whatever it was about old shep did he get shot did he go out to pasture i have no memory of ol shep he was just a good ol boy who went the god ol way and i don’t know anything but i was beginning to know something i was beginning to hear things i tried not to hear i just wanted to go to hawaii and we went to hawaii and it was christmas and everything was cool in hawaii and i found a friend and we tried to hide in the ocean but the ocean tumbles and tosses us a bit more than is comfortable for me it is my cradle and my grave–always has been love the sea–the salt–the blood–the life–the time–the tide WHAT DOES THAT TIKI REPRESENT my parents went to hawaii to celebrate their divorce HAHAHA where am i now?
playing games with scent fire pain death alcohol drugs
where does it end
who am i

who are you?
Strange stories on gender
who are we
still trying to thread the wick through the candle
honk honk beep beep
i don’t want to be 39
don’t feel 29
what is age
is there anyone alive who can tell me who i am.????
...i need your love

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

how many ways are there to turn a phrase?

so it's been said that "there are a million stories in the naked city" (and just so there's no question of it--I Am Not Claiming That as My Original Phrase.) and i've never been entirely convinced of that--i think there may be million ways to tell a handful of stories all surrounding basic desires; but there are very few desires when it comes right down to it (Language Log may make a much more eloquent statement than i can.) The art comes in the telling (and in the perspective of the artist--there are those who argue--sometimes me among them that artists have to be just a little crazy in some way or another to have that perspective but that's another subject entirely...)
And that brings us to the, oh so many questions, revolving around How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life brouhaha, a book that didn't catch my interest much with the first review i read, and still doesn't, although what is going on with it now sure does. Now i've always been against plagiarism, and it seems to be an issue plaguing modern day society. According to the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University up to 40% of college students admit to "cut & paste" plagiarism. Now supposedly Kaavya Viswanathan wrote at least 40 passages that "contain identical language and/or common scene or dialogue structure" with Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. I've looked at a few of these and it does seem a little too close for comfort--Kaavya's excuse? She loved McCaferty's work, and must have internalized it.
But there are a few other issues that popped up (first how does a senior in high school get a $500,000 advance based on a writing sample and can i sign up somewhere--i promise not to plagiarize--in fact i'll settle for $100,000...but back to the topic at hand) like book packagers. Apparently Kaavya's "college application coach" heard she was a writer and got her an agent at William Morris. The agent got her a deal with a "packager" (Alloy). Book packagers often give writers plots, characters, etc., and have them fill in the details. Reportedly Kaavya sent them chapters (of what was apparently a much darker tale at one point--one that sounds a little more appealing to me) and they "helped" her edit--exactly how much writing Alloy did is becoming less and less clear as time goes by (as for editing that is definitely a lost art have you tried to read any published works lately???) --In fact, in this particular case, the same editor, Claudia Gabel, is thanked on the acknowledgments pages of both Ms. McCafferty's books and Ms. Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Ms. Gabel had been an editorial assistant at Crown Publishing Group, then moved to Alloy, where she helped develop the idea for Ms. Viswanathan's book. So, the same woman who helped along on McCafferty's books also worked on Viswanathan's book? And she didn't notice any similarities?? Who is at more fault here the seventeen-year-old girl or the experienced editor? And who actually did the bulk of the plagiarizing? Will we ever really know?
And now further scrutiny, and so very much scrutiny, seems to be revealing "borrowing" from other novels by Cabot, Kinsella, and Rushdie--now this seems to me to be carrying things a bit too far. These "similarities" mostly seem to be descriptions of things people might say, common expressions--or, in the case of the Rushdie book, rhyming roadsides which are common in India. I'm sure if we look hard enough we will find the influences others in every artist's work because we cannot help but be the sum of all that has gone before; we can only hope for some originality and profundity.
Anyone remember Milli Vanilli?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

what keeps you going when your mind has disassembled on you?

Ever feel like some pieces of you mind are on one side of the room while other pieces are on the other side of the room and there you are in the middle trying to make sense of it all, or is it just me?

Monday, May 01, 2006

i seem to have acquired a feline stalker

Okay, so somehow i can be the mean and scary redheaded librarian on the rampage striking fear in the hearts of patrons everywhere, but kitties (and sometimes a stray dog or two) in need of a warm hearth and/or heart seem to instantly sniff me out. For the last three or four days a little grey tabby has been hanging out in front of my house, begging me to let it in, talking to me through whatever window it hears my voice, despite repeated warnings--hisses, growls, moans, screeches, etc. from my resident cats--and no encouragement whatsoever from me. I'll think the animal is gone only to stumble over it on the front porch, have it appear around the corner of the house, or hear it mewing outside the kitchen window.
I don't have the heart to call animal control because i don't want it put to sleep.
It doesn't have a collar, but it is a very friendly cat and doesn't act like a street cat or a feral cat. It doesn't look starving, and it looks well-groomed. It doesn't seem to go anywhere else but here so i'm not sure where it's being fed.
I cannot take in another cat--three is definitely my maximum, so i'm still checking around the neighborhood and looking into rescue groups and no-kill shelters--i'm even willing to donate for upkeep--(the damn cat must have known that when it came into my yard.) I know its totally silly all these homeless pets in the world (and i already donate to ASPCA & the Humane Society, etc) and i'm worried about this one sleeping on my porch--oh well that's just me--once an animal finds me--its my problem--just call me a sucker :)