"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world." - John Le Carre

I think it is time for me to heed this advice.

Get out and find things to write about. To be passionate about. To see through new eyes.

I think it's time to start scratching items off my "29 things to do in my 29th year" list.

(The tarot reading I got for my birthday from my girl Nat will help eliminate one *smile*)

I think it's time to stop worrying about deadlines or problems, and start embracing the things I haven't seen, really seen, for a while. Tonight, I should have been cleaning the house, getting ready for Relay for Life, going through my work mail that I should have brought home, working on a column for the newspaper, or answering about 50 emails.

What did I do instead?

Sat on my new porch swing, had a picnic dinner, read trashy magazines and books, and watched the sun go down.

Seeing things, appreciating the little things, with new eyes.

Maybe vacation helped remind me of that.


Or maybe it was the phone call from one of my dearest friends.

I laughed and laughed. I smiled until my cheeks hurt. I wanted so badly to be where he is so we could hug and laugh and catch up without the crackle and hiss of a phone line. So I could hear quotes like this in person:

"You are the only person I can laugh about tragedy with."

True, true, my friend. :-)

(And start blogging, dammit!)

Time to start the clock on seeing the world...

Sweet jesus, I love Trent Reznor.

I'm back from my 2.5 week sojourn to the mother country (England), and I'm just now surfing my mail, recovering from jet lag, and catching up on all the gossip I missed in the last few weeks! Hope you are all well and happy...

I'm sure I'm going to have a flurry of updating activity here at LFM, so hang on to your RSS feeds!

Things I learned while in England:
  • Your iPod can double as a mirror when sitting in a cramped airplane seat.
  • Drinks of any kind in England come in two sizes: shot glass, or double shot glass.
  • Showers in England come in two sizes: packing crate, or deluxe packing crate.
  • Driving on narrow English side streets. Not hot.
  • People who park in said narrow English side streets. Decidedly not hot.
  • Fish and chips, curry and lamb ALL taste better on that side of the pond.
  • Shandys rule.
  • Nikes are a must.
  • Wales is more beautiful than I ever imagined.
  • It isn't possible to go back in time like Claire did in Outlander just by closing your eyes and picturing Jamie while standing in front of Stonehenge. I know. I tried.
  • I could spend all day in Sainsbury's.
  • The London Eye is, like, really tall. But really cool. *big proud grin*
  • It annoys my dad when I take too many pictures.
  • Listening to Nine Inch Nails while sitting on the beach smoking a surreptitious cigarette rocks.
  • Cake on your birthday makes all the difference.
  • Motorways - yes, you can go 90, but there sure as hell isn't somewhere to stop to pee or get a big honkin' coke for the road.
  • My dad and I can vacation for 2.5 weeks without death or dismemberment. Cool. :-)
Pictures, summaries and tales of the trip will be forthcoming...I promise...

Just a quick post to let you all know I'm blogging from England, where I've been on holiday for a week and still have about another week to go. I've been taking loads of pictures, seeing family, and generally having a lovely time. Lots of updates and photos when I return!

Best reference questions we've had this week...

How do you convert square yards into tons?

This one took hours. First we had to determine what was being compacted (sludge), and then if it was here in Indiana (it was). And whether this conversion was possible (eventually). After a lot of digging, we determined it to be 3 square yards = 1 ton.

How do you get rid of crawdads in your yard?

First off, I didn't know you could GET crawdads in your yard, unless you lived near a river in the Bayou. But you can. Just in case you need to know: drain any standing water. Call the DNR. Or tempt them with raw bacon. Seriously.


Caller: "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?"

Me: "Fruit."

Caller: "Thanks!"

Missing person case?

We had a situation involving what was being described as a missing person case - the caller was from out of state, and was gathering numbers to try and locate her daughter. She needed reverse directory lookups, gas station pay phone numbers, hospital emergency room phone numbers, street addresses, police station numbers, city directories, and more.

We spoke to her half a dozen times, and then never heard back after the last call. We've spent all week wondering if she found her daughter, if it had a happy ending. That's the saddest part about reference - not knowing how things resolved. Did they find her? Did the crawdads get taken away? Did someone win a bet about a tomato? I love answering questions, but I always wonder how the answers changed that person's day...or their life.

Asked by Shelly...

1. How? How do you find books to read? Reviews? Recommendations? Favorite Authors? Other?

I find my books by a combination of sources - primarily from the mountain of review materials I read each week in doing book selection for my library. Publisher's Weekly, LJ, circulars, anything.

I also have my favorite authors that I watch for, and request before anyone else - I'm a bit territorial that way. ;-)

I swap a lot of reviews with colleagues, and my friend Nat and I seem to read the same titles with the same reactions, so she's always a great gauge for whether I'll like the book (except for that damn Pat Conroy book *wink*).

To be honest, I'm also a sucker for packaging - if it has an interesting cover, a great first line, a captivating blurb on the jacket...I'm there. I can't tell you how many books I've picked up solely on the thought "Wow, that's a GREAT cover". Not all of them are winners, but a lot of them have been...

2. Where? Where do you get your books? Independent bookstores? Chain stores? Online? Library?

Library, library, library. It's hard to beat - books I selected, right on the shelf, and free to take home! Whee!

If it's something superspecial that I want to own for myself, I'll order it from Amazon.

3. When? Or more accurately, how often? How many books on average do you get or buy each month?

I'm not sure of an average for this year so far, but here were my stats from last year's roundup:

Number of books read in 2004: 160
Number of books read in 2003 (for comparison): 117
Average of books read per month: 13
Average of books read per week: 3
Daily average: 1 book read every 2.2 days
Percent of fiction read: 69%
Percent of nonfiction read: 31%

And there you have it!

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

For reasons that go beyond explaining, I loved this book.

This autobiography is organized by headings, much like an encyclopedia, and entries range from the sublime to the absurd. It made me smile, made me laugh, and made me wonder at the individuality of people.

A great, fast, funny, interesting, snifty book.

Even if I can't really describe it.

Next time you are in your local library (and I'm sure you're all faithful readers and library visitors!), be sure to take a look at the Encyclopedia Britannica's Micropedia.

Then look at volume 8.

And then look at the subject headings for it.

And then laugh.

(alright, alright, I won't keep you in suspense...)


This makes me laugh.

I had a unique opportunity for library instruction yesterday.

I had to teach several colleagues the ancient art of "hairstyling a librarianesque bun and securing it with a pen".

I've become quite the master.

Good to know this long hair is good for something...

Passion v. Arrogance: A Dana & Goliath Story of Wine, Women and Wrong! by Margaret E.J. Broderick

This author is going to be visiting my library tomorrow, so I wanted to give her book a quick read prior to her program.

Margaret and her partner opened a very popular winery in Indianapolis, but event conspired to force them to close up shop and try a new career. What follows is the horrifying circumstance between banks, lawyers and their poor winery.

I can't imagine what they went through, and the absolute bungling of their affairs. Talk about a cautionary tale...

Yesterday, thousands of good ol' girls such as myself mourned the news that our favorite cutie cowboy, Kenny Chesney, is off the market.

Trent has a few photos from Kenny and Renee Zellwegger's wedding in the Carribean...


NOW who are we going to lust after in the country music world?

We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive by Laurie Notaro

This is the latest collection of essays from writer Notaro, and it's another winner!

I've been a huge fan of Notaro's work since reading her first collection, The Idiot Girls Action-Adventure Club and have recommended her titles to anyone looking for laughter, truth, and the trials of being a dorky girl.

If you haven't read Notaro, you must. Fantastic, as always!

My only note of caution: don't just plough through this book...it loses its impact if you just read story after story. It's worth spacing them out and savoring. :-)

Handy, round-the-house uses for a light saber.

(be sure to hit "next page" for more good ideas)


And this one is for my sister - it's so worth taking this quiz just to laugh at the answers provided. :-)

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

In other news, I just got back from a Bingo fundraiser for the Relay for Life.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my halfpot winnings yet, but I'm thinking on it.

$5.50 just doesn't go as far as it used to...

It's my last full day off before I leave on vacation for 2.5 weeks.

When I went to bed last night, I had a laundry list of things to be done today, not the least of which were packingbankingbillpayingcleaningerrandrunningandplanningvacation.

I woke up with a headache, threw out the list and decided to futz around and redesign this blog. I like it - hope y'all do too. :-)

Link o' the day: Snifty looking online timekeeper, via WWdN.

Quote of the day (well, quote of the yesterday, actually):

Me: (pulling up the McDonald's drive thru window to snag my bag o' golden goodness) "Thanks!"

Lady at the Window: "You're welcome. Have a miraculous day!"

Now that's service with a smile. :-)

Thanks to the ever-gracious Carrie, I was able to test out Jybe tonight!

For the uninitiated, Jybe allows folks to surf simultaneously and chat within the same window. Lots of libraries have jumped on the idea of using Jybe for collaborative learning, distance learning, online reference, training sessions and in my case...helping walk my parents through something on the internet visually instead of over the phone. You haven't lived until you've tried to explain the inner workings of booking a ticket online with a parent who isn't quite as tech saavy as his daughter. ;-)

Findings...took a bit of acrobatics to make it work on both our computers, and then to figure out who has control of the scrolling and surfing when the session isn't "locked". We also tried to figure out what the other could see, and not see during our surfing. We had to be careful not to "step" on each other's surfing in the open session, but otherwise we got a bead on it. Overall, I think it has cool potential!

Wanna see what it looks like, and what *quality* conversations we were having? Wonder now more...

That's a teachable moment. ;-)

Recommend to me:

1. A movie
2. A book
3. A musical artist, a song, or an album
4. An LJ, diaryland or blog that you read that I don't
5. What I should have for dinner
6. A website
7. A quote
8. Words of wisdom
9. Something to do this weekend
10. A TV show I should be watching and why

Thanks, friends. :-)

Last week, North Korea held weapons testing, Bush tried to buck up support for his Social Security plan, several car bombs exploded in Iraq, and the election in the UK began to heat up.

What was the top story on CNN the other day?

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are dating.

My first impression, to be honest, was ew. Then it was skepticism, and then it was wondering once again why this was a top story on CNN (as well as almost every other news outlet).

Tuned Out once again got me to thinking about how journalism has morphed over the last few years.

No longer do we expect "serious news" to cover entertainment or sensationalism, but as the reality of less newspapers sold and a generation less in touch with the news of the country and the world descends, journalists feel they are forced to cover these topics to draw in the readership, and try to shove some "serious" information their way while they are at it.

How sad.

Further sad is that we all eat it up.

Now, I'm the first to admit I'm a sucker for entertainment news (I'm a big devotee of Trent and Lawren), but not at the expense of quality journalism and story coverage on what's really happening in the world.

Having said that, I'm still thinking ew on Katie and Tom.

Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News by David T.Z. Mindich

I began ranting on the issues raised in this book a few days ago, and will probably do so again in a minute.

This slim nonfiction book really gets at the core of the title - why my generation don't follow the news, abberations and exceptions to the rule, the influence of the internet and tabloids on news, and proposals on how to change this statistic.

I thought this was a really interesting topic, and found myself both incensed and cringing at some of the allegations. True, the language reads like a senior thesis paper, but the information contained is really eye opening.

I recommend this to anyone under 40, whether you follow the news or not.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

I had really high expectations of this novel, after reading blurbs on the cover from folks like Tom Perrota and Wally Lamb.

Not so much.

Maybe I've been reading too many YA novels lately, but this just felt like a much longer, more explicit YA novel with slightly upped language. I hated the main character, I found myself wanting to skim to the ending, and the whole book felt totally unresolved - as though she hadn't learned a damn thing.

Lee Fiora is a scholarship student at an exclusive boarding school in New England - the books follows her four years of isolation, confusion and coping with the world of private school.

In the end, she didn't cope, she didn't branch out, and she didn't seem to grow much as a character. I just didn't like her one bit. Maybe she was to be ironic, but I just read her as plain annoying.

About the only thing I did like was the cover. ;-)

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano

With a title like that, I couldn't resist!

Guiliano's book is cute and interesting, but isn't exactly earthshattering. Guiliano discusses her weight gain when she was 19, and the secret to losing the weight and keeping it off: en francais.

Eating smaller portions, drinking more water, walking more, not depriving yourself of pleasure and eating nothing but the freshest of market fresh foods are her main points. Nothing we haven't heard in any iteration before...

Guiliano's book is straightforward and honest, but a bit heavy on her perceptions and experiences and less on actual plans to overcome weight gain.

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Guiliano herself. No one but a lady with a french accent could narrate this book...

The Lake House by James Patterson

I've never read Patterson (except for the awful Sam's Letters to Jennifer), so I wanted to grab another book to give it a whirl.

This novel details six extraordinary children as they struggle to lead normal lives, despite extrordinary danger and a powerful connection to each other. They all long to return to the lake house - the home where they had lived with their trusted adult allies, Frannie and Kit.

Patterson's story is original, well paced and entertaining - though the abruptness and resolution of the story left me a bit cold. I'm curious how this story correlates with Patterson's new YA novel, Maximum Ride.

All in all, a good, suspenseful story...

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Hope Davis and Stephen Lang, who both did a great job. The music scores really added to the suspense and production of the audiobook.

I'm reading a book right now entitled Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News, and I'm having a lot of thoughts about it.

(So you might want to hide. I'm having thoughts. *grin*)

When I first saw the title, I was really offended. It seemed like a sweeping generalization about my generation (say that three times fast!), and I didn't like the connotation. However, as I've read it, the author has made a lot of really good points. He points to the lack of engagement of my generation in the news or the political machinations of America. He quizzes a number of twentysomethings about Supreme Court justices, their own senators, relevant news articles and more. Most of us fail miserably, and that makes me sad and embarassed.

But then, perhaps I'm contributing to the problem.

I don't get a daily paper. I don't watch any news on television. I don't listen to NPR as much as I should, though I'm getting better.

However, I feel like I do follow the news more than my peers, just in a different medium.

I check cnn.com one to two dozen times a day for headlines and stories.

I look at our regional newspaper online every day.

I read both of our weekly county newspapers every week.

I discuss relevant issues with colleagues, I read Time magazine, and I subscribe to RSS feeds of all varieties, including feeds relevant to my political party of choice, to political movements in DC and in Indiana, and to general news sites.

The author makes the point that folks who get their news online are even less likely to engage in our political structure, or to volunteer in general for the greater good, and if true, that also makes me sad.

When I began at the library, I changed the homepage on the reference desk computer to cnn.com (because we all like their converage). I began routing newspapers to all members of the reference desk staff, not just myself. I make a point of discussing local issues with my colleagues, or asking about stories I haven't heard about. I think it's important, not just as people but as librarians to know and understand what is happening both abroad and at home. We might get a reference question about it. We might need to find an article again that someone is requesting. Or we might just happen upon a conversation with a patron about a news story, thus giving us the opportunity to get to know them better, to weigh in and to sound smart when we do. These are little changes, but I think they are worthy ones.

For a while, I've been mentally beating myself up for not being more involved in more civic activities, or for not becoming more active politically in town. Is this a product of my generation? Maybe. Is it time for us to step up and make a change? Absolutely.

And for the record, I knew both my senators and my rep in DC, I named seven Supreme Court justices, I knew the three countries in the "Axis of Evil" and I damn well knew who John Ashcroft was. ;-)

And I vote.

I'm only halfway through the book...there may be another rant when I'm done. Fair warning. ;-)

Via skagirlie:

I'm lovin' this new game: Guess-the-Google over at Forever Geek.

It's "an addictive little game related to Google's image search, on which you try to guess what the keyword was for the images displayed."

So far my best score is 286, but I'm working on it! Yours?

Vincent Van Gogh. Leonardo Da Vinci. Edgar Allen Poe.

Well, didn't I get a group of fun-lovin' boys in the dead soulmate search?

I'm thinking of those three choices, I'm going for Leo. At least we'd always having something to talk about. ;-)

(Do you think Leo would go to a Nine Inch Nails concert with me? I bet he would.)

I stumbled across this site the other day - it's called Indiana Blogs and is just the sort of site I've been looking for. Quick snapshots about Indiana government moving and shaking with updates about bills proposed or passed up at the Statehouse.


It wasn't until later I realized it was run by a recent MLS graduate. Bien sur, mes amies! :-)

This morning, I decided to download Konfabulator - the PC simulation of the new Mac Tiger product.

I didn't really know what it was until I browsed around on the site a little bit (I'm totally out of the loop in the Mac world), and then customized it for my own needs.

So far, I'm really digging it!

Here's a screenshot of my desktop...it's not nearly as cluttery as their example photo...

I was amazed how many different widgets there were, and found just what I needed - a place for my to-do list, rotating photos from a folder of my choosing, weather, clock, iTunes, and my favorite...the ladybug that just wanders around your screen. ;-)

I really like seeing all my photos rotating every few minutes too. Snifty!

Give it a try - it's fun! :-)

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

I find that Berg's books are neither earthshaking nor brilliantly original, they are just pleasant.

This story is one that I always want to identify with...a woman moves to a small town following the death of her husband and tries to restart her life again. She buys a beautiful house, meets quirky small town characters, pursues her dream job and reconnects with old friends.

Well, goodness, who doesn't want that?!

Berg's books are short and easy to read, and I find myself seeking out the comfort of a cup of tea and a warm duvet as I read them. I want to believe that these stories could happen; that people are inherently that good; that I can do what the lead character does.

That's a soothing thought.

Swimming With Frogs: Life in the Brown County Hills by Ruth Ann Ingraham

I was particularly interested in this new title from IU Press, because for the better part of 26 years, I lived no more than 20 minutes from the hills of Brown County, and have always loved that corner of Indiana best.

Ingraham has translated years of journaling into this simple and easy to read tome about the cabin she and her husband bought in the hills to best enjoy all that nature has to offer. Ingraham's lets us into her family and life, and also provides detailed information about the flora, fauna and inhabitants of this area. I know more about mushrooms and Indiana orchids than I ever thought I would!

A quick read, Ingraham's book is interesting and filled with information - especially if you are familiar with the Brown County area.