30 April 2007

No one needs this!

Especially since it's so easy to separate an egg with no tools at all. Still, it is a pretty entertaining little kitchen gadget.

In fact, it's almost as much fun as my favorite unneccessary kitchen toy -- The Octodog! (Yes, I still love this. NO, I do not need it. Yes, I would likely be appalled to get one. Better in theory, I think. Then again...)

27 April 2007

Are libraries safe?

From today's LA Times:

Is the public library no longer a haven for children?

That's the message the director of a charter school in South Los Angeles sent the parents of her 340 students last week, warning them that Hyde Park--Miriam Matthews Public Library, a few yards from the school campus, was not safe for their children.

Read the whole story here.

I have just a few comments. First of all, the library is a public place. So, yes, we want it to be safe, but it is a public place and that should be considered when sending children there alone.

Having said that... Most libraries these days -- especially in large urban areas -- need security. It's just the way it is. However, when library budgets are being cut all over the country, it can be difficult to buy materials, hire staff, or even stay open. What good is a well patroled library if there is no substance to what it offers? On the other hand, librarians need to be more proactive in dealing with situations/ I know it is scary. I know it's not what we went to school for. However, if you're going to work in a PUBLIC library, it's just the way it is.

Some years ago, I worked in a very poor neighborhood, rife with gangs and drugs. The library was chaos. I was intimidated and nervous. After the first week, I decided I either had to do something about it or look for another job. I did something.

I drafted a long list of rules of behavior and handed it to everyone -- children and adults -- as they came in. (And, for the record, we had security, but the guard basically sat at her desk and read, ignoring all the trouble going on all around her.) I made it clear that they got a warning for violating a rule and the second time I said something, they had to leave for the day. If someone refused to leave when asked, I told them that it was now criminal trespassing and, if they didn't go, I would call the police. And I did.

The next day, if that same person came back to the library, I acted like the previous day's events had not happened and we had a fresh start. If they violated the rules again, same deal as before. Throughout, I was able to point to the rule sheet to back me up. I was also sure to treat the patrons respectfully, even as I asked them to go, even as I welcomed them back the next day (even when it made me nervous to see them again.)

It wasn't magic. Things didn't change overnight. But they did change. It was slow and difficult, but within 6 months or so, the library was back under control. There was a 12-year-old boy I kicked out every day for three weeks straight who eventually became one of our best-behaved, most wonderful patrons. Kids started monitoring each other -- not in a tattletale way, but in a "you better not do that or Miss Katharine's gonna ask you to leave" way.

I believe that respect and consistency, coupled with a demand for appropriate behavior are key. If you expect people to behave badly, they often do. If you expect a certain standard of good behavior, the most unmannerly person will often rise to the occasion and begin to behave. It's hard work. I don't *like* asking kids to leave the library. I don't *like* having to spend time on behavior and counseling and a hundred other things I never dreamed I would do when I fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming a librarian. But that's the way it is. And if we are going to do our jobs and serve our patrons well, we will have to be prepared to deal wioth a chaotic world in a proactive manner, even if it takes us outside our comfort zones.

(Phew! Let me climb down off this soapbox now before I fall...)

26 April 2007

The right Daemon?

As many of you know, I am an ardent admirer of Mr. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books. I especially love the idea of daemons, which embody one's soul. Now, thanks to New Line Cinema, which is releasing a film of The Golden Compass, I was able to find my daemon. Did the identify they right one for me? You can comment for 12 days before the daemon settles into its shape.

25 April 2007

Only 6? Hmm...

My friend, Clare, over at Semi-Evil Squirrel tagged me with a meme a while back, one that I am finally getting to. (Confession: I don't really get the whole meme thing. I don't know what it means, if anything.) So I guess the point is to post 6 "weird" random facts about yourself and then tag other people. So, without further ado:


  1. I talk to myself and, more alarmingly, to inanimate objects, quite often. It is not uncommon for SB to remark that I don't have to talk to the computer out loud. (But I do!)
  2. I used to have crushes on Roy Blount, Jr. and Randy Newman. I think it was their voices and wit and sarcasm that made them so appealing. But, crushing on middle-aged Southern White Boys? *SO* not me. That one even weirds me out a bit!
  3. One of my favorite German treats is Haakepeter: raw ground beef, raw eggs, raw onion, salt and pepper all combined and served on a good rye bread. Yum!
  4. At meetings, in classes, in church, etc.... Whenever possible, I sit by the door, especially if the door is in the back. If the door is in the front, I try to sit in the back seat closest to the door. My reasoning is that, should I need to leave the room during whatever activity is happening, I will be relatively unnoticeable.
  5. There is a photo of Kurt Vonnegut at work, hanging in a meeting room I pass through quite often. Whenever I walk by it, as long as no one is in the room, I kiss my finger and touch the frame lightly as I walk by. If there are people there, I just think, "God damn it. You've got to be kind," to remind myself.
  6. I love, love, love watermelon! Ice cold watermelon, any day of the year is one of my favorite things on the planet. However, I LOATHE anything that is watermelon-flavored. Has to be real watermelon or I cannot stand it.

So... there ya have it. I'm supposed to tag six more people... If you want to play, consider yourself tagged. (ACTually, I will offically tag one person: The Boy.)


It's not often I am intrigued by Science-centered news, but the story I read last night positively blew me away!

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

Wow! That seems so *huge* to me! I want to know more! It seems exciting and huge and full of possibility.

(And then the part of me that is cynical and curmudgeonly is happy it is so far as to make it difficult for us to get there so we can screw up that planet as soon as we finish trashing this one...)

The caption printed with the photo reads, "This artistic illustration released by the European Southern Observatory on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, shows planets orbiting the red dwarf star, Gliese 581. Astronomers believe that the newly discovered planet Gliese 581 c, left, is potentially habitable. "

Way cool.

Maybe it's just me...

...but this seems stupid! So, the news is reporting that scientists have found Kryptonite. So what are they naming it? Jadarite.

Really? They said it is Kryptonite. Why not name it Kryptonite? Makes no sense to me, not at all...

23 April 2007


So, the other day, Science Boy started to ask me why I am not promoting my cafepress store and, know what? I didn't have any answer for him. I mean, I have a few of the shirts I created art for / designed and I always get comments and compliments (especially on the penguin chillin' hoodie). I think they're cute. I worked hard on the art. I would buy them (and have sent a few as gifts to kids I know.) I have more ideas. I just... I dunno. Dropped the ball or something.

So, I guess what I need to do is figure out a way to market this. I think I am going to make flyers to have a friend hand out at her kids' pre-school to start. (This store actually started because she was wishing she could find cute tee shirts for her kids that didn't cost $40 -- and then, after making afew she requested, she keeps "forgetting" to buy them!)

What else? I don't want to spend lots of (or any, really) to promote this right now. So, what can I do? Ideas? ANYone?

20 April 2007

don't forget them...

Something a friend just wrote about police shooting at young African-American men struck a chord in me and made me want to remind everyone that Diamond and Tionda Bradley are still not home. It's been five-and-a-half years since these little girls disappeared from their home in Bronzeville. Five-and-a-half years with no word; and it seems no one is even looking anymore.

I know that there are many missing kids. I know that many of them will never be found, that many will be found hurt or dead, that only a small number come home again. I know that. But somehow these little girls have lodged in my heart. Maybe because they are from Chicago. Maybe because they are like so many other children I see in some of our poor neighborhoods, kids who are ignored by the population at large, kids who are born with a full plate of burdens -- of economics, social class, prejudice, and lesser opportunity for quality education.

I don't know why I have not forgotten them, but I ask you to take a moment to remember them, too.


Woo-hoo! Just got The Titan's Curse from the marvelous AM! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And *that's* why you have my undying love and devotion.

Great first sentence:
"The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school."

Guess what I'll be devouring later? Yay!

19 April 2007

Film watch: Olympians gone wild...

A film of The Lightening Thief is coming! Woo-hoo! I *love* this book! (Ooh. Hope the movie doesn't suck.) Fot those of you who haven't had the insane pleasure of reading this, Percy Jackson finds out that his father is Posieden. Yes, *that* Posieden. Wackiness and adventure ensues. I am eagerly awaiting book 3 in this series (due out May1) and crossing my fingers that the film version of this book does the books justice.

(Hmm... After my initial excitement, I find that all my glee is dying down with every word I type. Ack.)

update: Eeeeee! My dear friend, colleague, and master procurer of children's books has a review copy of the new book that I can borrow tomorrow! Huzzah!

Can someone do this for President Bush?


I hear you now: What the Hell are ya talkin' 'bout, BK? Well, let me 'splain. I just read a great story on Yahoo:

Best-selling Canadian author Yann Martel, worried about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apparent lack of interest in the arts, sent him a book on Monday and said he would continue doing so once a fortnight.

He's even keeping a list of the books he's sending.

So can someone do this for our own non-reading White House Occupant? Really. He should be reading something. Anything, really. They don't have to be books as difficult as those sent in Canada; there are many first-rate chapter books out there.

Thank you for your consideration.

17 April 2007

Well, that's *one* mess cleaned up...

I quite forgot I even had a guestbook in the margin to the right... but the spammers didn't! I finally got all the spam cleaned out; but I think I deleted a few genuine comments in my haste to "spring clean," as it were. I apologize if I deleted you! Feel free to re-post; I hope to check that a little more often...

16 April 2007

Janet McDonald

Janet McDonald, author of novels for young adults, died of cancer on April 11, 2007. She was just 53 years old. Her books include Project Girl, Spellbound, Twists and Turns, and Brother Hood, among others.

Shamefully, I have found no obituaries, tributes, or remembrances on-line as of yet. (A colleague posted the news on a list_serv to which I subscribe.) McDonald's books gave voice to the many children and teens growing up in the housing projects -- usually forgotten, dismissed, and ignored. She illumintaed thier existence, their hopes, their dreams, and showed the world they aren't really all that different from any other kids. I know that she touched many of the kids I have had the honor of working with over the years.

12 April 2007

Dickens World

They're building a Dickens theme park:

"...Hutchins insists the attraction -- a dark, dirty and dank London is populated by thieves, murderers and ghosts -- has the air of authenticity as it was built in consultation with experts from the Dickens Fellowship."

I once laid on the chaise lounge that Dickens died on (I'll have to find *that* picture!), so I guess I don't have much room to be disparaging about this... ACTually, it seems like the kind of place I'd like to go!

Read the whole story here.

Kurt's up in Heaven now

From Man Without a Country:

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

so sad

Kurt Vonnegut, novelist and humanist, has died at the age of 84.

That hurts, typing that.

While I suppose the headline should not have been wholly unexpected -- he *was* 84 and he *did* smoke unfiltered cigarrettes for years and years (though those did not, int the end, kill him; apparently, he fell some weeks ago and sustained injury at that time) -- it punched me in the gut. My first reaction (after crying) was to call The Boy. But, as it was 4am, I did not think his parents would be too pleased. My next reaction was to read one of my favorite passages:

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded, At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies --:

God damn it, you've got to be kind.

There's a really spectacular Vonnegut website here. His official website is here. There are many, many obituaries on-line. Even Al Jazeera is reporting the news.

Honor him by reading his work and remembering:

God damn it. You've got to be kind.

06 April 2007

Early morning irritation...

Not serious, but just bugging me...

So, I've been doing really well with the new eating better and working out plan (55 pounds gone so far!) and thought maybe I'd treat myself to a donut from Dunkin' Donuts today. First, though, I figured I would go to work so I could look up the nutritional info so I could make an informed choice.

Well, would ya look at that? Dunkin Donuts offers a handy Printable Nutrition Guide! Swell! I printed that out and started doing some work before checking it out and planning my treat. When I finally got to it, I realized - THEY DON'T LIST CALORIES AT ALL! This "handy" chart includes serving size, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbs, dietary fiber, sugar, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. But no calories!

To find the calories, you have to go to their nutrition page and then click on each item individually. Not impossible, but makes it a pain in the ass to see how a chocolate glazed compares to, say, a jelly.

Screw it. I don't need to work that hard to eat something unhealthy! If I need an illicit sweet, I'll grab a small piece of chocolate from the boss's office later!

05 April 2007

Isn't Britney Spears from Louisiana?

Seriously, though, this is disturbing to me. A group of 5th graders were arrested for having sex in school.

5th grade. That's usually, what? 10 years old? Okay, according to the article, these kids ranged in age from 11 to 13 years.

When I was 11 (lo, those many years ago)... Well, the world was different back then, I suppose (and, for the record, I am only 33, not *ancient*!). Still, this story disturbs me.

Creepy much?

What the Hell is Dick Cheney doing lurking in the bushes while W talks about why money for an illegal war is more important than money for, say, education or health care? Maybe he has to be within a certain distance of the moron at the podium to control him properly...


(Thanks to The Boy, who is on top of things and just e-mailed me about this. He sent me a link to a longer video, too, which includes commentary.)

Jesus wants to give me an iPod!

I just got an e-mail that reads:

"Jesus would like to be added to your MySpace friends list.By accepting Jesus as your friend, you will be able to send Jesus personal messages, view Jesus's photos and blog, and interact with each other's friends and network!"

Tempting, but Jesus' site looks like a pyramid scheme that tries to lure me with an iPod. I know this is a shocking accusation, but I think this is a fraudulent Jesus!

I dunno whether to be happy or worried...

From Yahoo! today:

The world of Edward Gorey is coming to the big screen for the first time with a live-action feature based on the illustrator-writer's classic tale "The Doubtful Guest."

The project is being developed by Walden Media, the firm behind the "Narnia" franchise, Fox 2000 and the Jim Henson Co. Brad Peyton ("Evelyn: The Cutest Evil Dead Girl") will direct from a script written by Matthew Huffman.

There's a press release on the Henson Company page, too.

This could seriously suck. Or be okay. I would be shocked if it was fabulous.

Wouldn't The Hapless Child make the better film, though, in terms of plot?

03 April 2007

I have no words for this

Just read this on Yahoo!:

In comments published Tuesday, the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME.

"He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said. "... It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."

UPDATE: And now he's denying the whole thing.

Where's your Caldecott now?

You know that, in your most secret heart you have always wondered who would win were Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola ever to fight.

Now you'll know!

Public libraries and the Homeless

There's a great, thought-provoking, and sometimes heartbreaking article about homelessness and the public library at TomDispatch.

As any of us who have worked in -- or even visited -- a public library knows, this is a chronic problem, especially in urban areas, and one with no easy solutions. This article should be required reading for all library staff and patrons. I was especially moved by the reminder that "Annoyance is the cousin of arrogance, not shame."