Thursday, December 28, 2006

Review - Fun Home

Fun Home is an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel (or comic book, as I called them when I was a kid). Alison Bechdel is also the cartoonist of Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic strip about a cohort of lesbians living in San Francisco. In Fun Home, Bechdel writes about her childhood and about her father, a high school teacher, undertaker and a meticulous restorer of old houses.

Fun Home is a collage of memories and impressions rather than a linear narrative. In many ways, Fun House is about feeling overshadowed: overawed by her father’s intellect, afraid of his temper, forever in the shadow of her father’s withholding personality. Even her own coming out as a lesbian was overshadowed by learning that her father had affairs with young men. She writes: “I had imagined my confession as an emancipation from my parents, but instead I was pulled back into their orbit.”

It is this tension that creates the narrative flow of the book. The push and pull fuels Bechdel’s view of her own personality, and how she excavates it. She uses that tension to explain her near compulsive behaviors as a child, and to define her self in opposition of her father: “cropped, curt, percussive. Practically onomatopoeic. At any rate, the opposite of sissy.” It defines her relationship with her father, especially after he commits suicide: as she grew older she found a kind of shared passion in literary and artistic aesthetics, despite their other differences. The tension between her and her father’s personalities makes the book compelling, and gives it an arid sort of humor, as when she is arguing with her father about wearing pearls. “What are you afraid of?” He shouts. “Being beautiful?” Or when she fails to see the humor in Charles Addams’ cartoons because the resemblance is too close to her own life.

Although a summary of the book sounds dark, almost dreary, Fun Home has a quiet humor and sense of diligence that makes it very engaging. There is an implicit optimism in the fact that Bechdel becomes connected to the gay community despite the disconnects in her home life, that she can become an artist despite the fact that her father’s lack of fulfillment made her early childhood quietly desperate, and that she can walk a metaphorical line around the events of her child and young adulthood, both funny and sad, and make a story of it. If you enjoy biography, or graphic novels, you will find this an interesting read.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Usually, I could care less about these web toys, but this one caught my eye.

0 people named Kapture is so totally wrong, though.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cure for the Emo-time blues.

Poppy: "Mumma, I told Daddy that I was going to be his pet lion. Then when I roared, he just ran away."

Daddy: "It was scary."

Poppy: "You're just not used to having a pet lion."

So, here's my homebrew cure for S.E.D., or seasonal Emo disorder.

1. I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
2. Dude Looks Like a Lady - Aerosmtih
3. Play the Funky Music - Average White Band
4. Love Shack - B-52's
5. She Don't Use Jelly - Ben Folds Five
7. Pink Cadillac - Aretha Franklin
6. Don't Phunk With My Heart - Black Eyed Peas
7. I Get Knocked Down - Chumbawumba
8. Allstar - Smashmouth
9. Push the Little Daisy's - Ween
10. Beatles - Here Comes the Sun (I put this on every solstice, or thereabouts.)

Put them on, dance with your four year old.

Remember - Forever Young, by Alphaville, makes her sad. It is only a cheerful song if you are encrusted with Emo.

Friday, December 22, 2006


It is hard to get up, in the middle of winter, at 6 AM, for this writing bullshit.

In other news: Happy Solstice. The Sun Will Come Out, Tomorrow. Or, at least, a little earlier. Sing a sunny song.

One of the blogs I peruse has been posting lists of year end top tens. Technology based. If you're at all interested in bleeding edge web stuff, it's a good place to go and read about what you probably won't use but will be hearing about everywhere next year, or five years from now.

Anyway, it got me thinking about what I've been doing new this year, and what I've found useful. So here's my top nine things that I've found useful this year, briefly annotated:

1. Google Reader: This collects so much blog reading for me. Plus, having all those feeds together makes it easy for me to evaluate individual blogs. I can see what the mass of posts to usefulness ratio is. I can strike off annoying motormouths really quickly. Go to and get an account. In Your Account, you will see a link to the page that will let you set up a reader.

2. The PLA conferance in March: It's always good to get out and see what other professionals are doing right.

3. My Gamers: Are all good guys (and gals). They ensure that I'll have fun at least once a week.

4. Tome of Magic: A Dungeons and Dragons game book, from those not in the secret order of tabletop gamers. I'm running a game in which the bad guys are all wizards, and having three totally different kinds of magic in which to choose NPCs from really expands my possibilities. That said, not all the new wizardy classes are created equal: Truenamers (so far) out and out suck.

5. Wikipedia: I find so much crap on this page. Take it all with a grain of salt, but start your search for info here.

6. Google homepage: Widgets. Sweeet. Go to and get an account. On the main page, choose personalized home page. Start dragging and dropping. Click Add Stuff to browse widgets. Sweeet.

7. Netflix: I have a movie, once a week. Don't need to deal with video store stock, clerks, return fees, choosing my movie, or anything. Makes me feel bad for the future of libraries.

8. Stephen Abram: The blog I noted above. He really is one sharp bastard. If you're interested in web culture at all, he's one to stick in your RSS feed.

9. Firefox: Goddamn, tabs are useful. It's so nice not having to re-open your browser every time you want to bring up another website.

10. Flash drives: They are more important to me than underwear. These are old hat, but really, if you don't have one to move files around, get one. Dumbass. If your library doesn't let people use them... I have nothing to say. Floppy Disks are gone, bucko. Stop living in the past.

And a few things that I have yet to see the charm of:

2nd life: Too many choices at start. Bogs up my new computer. No fighting. I don't get it.

del.ici.ous: Why should I bookmark off my computer? Who would care what my book marks are? I'd rather read a blog.

NPC Designer: A software that randomly creates NPC stat blocks for Non-Player Characters (skip this one if you are not in the SOoTtG, as Tome of Magic, above). Too random. Too underdeveloped. I just want to set parameters and go, using at least the core rules. Why can't anyone get something this simple right? How hard can it be to add some numbers in a set of fields?

Audio books: My commute is a mile and a half. They're kind of like coitus interuptus for me.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The drama of librarianship

I was sitting on the desk when one of my co-workers decided to give me candy (mint chocolate kisses).

Several minutes later, another of my co-workers stopped by and gave me more candy (peanut M & M's).

I wondered if I was looking sad, or lonely, sitting on the information desk, all by myself.

Then I wondered: If I look sadder and lonlier, will more of my staff bring me candy?


In other news, I helped my first patron on our new IM reference service today. I am absurdly please with myself.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New stuff

I've been looking at all sorts of online tools the last few months. Because we look at new software and applications fairly regularly here, I've made a habit out of going out of my way to find new stuff.

Lately, I've been finding that online tools are hella handy. This is true because I can use the same one at work and home, and not have to double the work or lug a file around.

For instance, while researching a feed reader, I came across google reader. To sign up for the reader, you need to go through your Personalized Home on the google page.

As far as I know, the major service providers have customizable search pages. Yahoo had had them for awhile. I think AOL. Google's is no difference. I wouldn't ever have used Google if I a) didn't already use it for search. Constantly. and b)hadn't just signed up for a reader.

I don't know exactly what the other pages offered, but I was tickled by Google's offerings. They have tons of toys that you can stick on your personalized page: clocks, callendars, games, feeds from news sites. You can get a joke of the day, links to dictionary's, and of course, Wikipedia. You can stuff your front page full of widgets. I have 11 on my front page. At home, on a 17" screen, they display fine.

At work on a laptop screen only a little larger than an index card, I need to scroll to see them all.

You can stuff other pages, too. You can create a new page, accesible by a tab, that you can dag and drop more widgets to. It's easy to make new tabs. It took me five mintues to figure out how to delete them.

I love widgets, but I will pass them by if I don't use them. Some of the stuff I mentioned is of no use to me: I don't care about jokes, and I use the clock in the toolbar of my computers already. I already get news feeds on subjects I am interested in through Google Reader. I already subscribe to Realplay for stupid arcade games, at a better resolution for my squinty eyes.

The widgets are fun to browse in and of themselves, but I can see them getting old. In fact, a week after using google, I discarded a tab full of "informational" widgets. Didn't look at them in a week, was having a hard enough time scanning my reader. I have another page of games that may go soon. I tossed a "chinese word of the day" flash card off the desk top because it didn't have the definition, just the pronunciation in a sound file, and a quote of the day widget because I thought all the quotes were fucking stupid.

There are enough useful widgets to make it an intersting tool, however. I use two to do lists on my front page: one for game chores, one for writing chores, in case I am inspired on lunch (this is writing chore two: mundane blog).

The one in outlook doesn't appeal to me, and doesn't work from home to boot. For a long time, I've wanted a free software widget to stick notes to my desktop. This is better.

There is a sticky note that I've taught my wife how to stick notes on so that she can boss me around from home. "Pick up a quart of milk." "Yes, dear." I even made mine yaller collerd, like a real post-it.

There's a weather tab, that you can get everywhere on the web, but now I have one where I'll actually look at it.

And, of course, I can see my feed reader on it.

Some of the widgets are buggy: there are, as far as I can tell, about a dozen different to-do widgets. The one I use for both my lists is this one, but I might start using this one. It's pertier, and has an urgency indicator. But all of them have lost items, so far.

I have a subscription to google notebook, which I envision using to store wisps of genious on while I'm on the desk or in the office, so I no longer have to write them on tiny pieces of paper and re-type them later. But the first time I used it, the save button disappeared.

The Netflix widget, which shows your que, shipping, and other info seems to be down two thirds of the time.

I suspect that part of the problem might be that the Google widgets work better with Firefox, which I have on my home and office machines, than with IE6, which is on the service desks.

There is also the potential to lose information if web is down. But, you know, in 1930 I would have had to walk if my horse had gotten sick. And humanity made it through the sick-horse crises.

I don't know how different this is from Yahoo's customizable page, which I've flirted with. I've never even cut my eyes at AOL's.

I was never very interested in Yahoo's. The difference for me was that Yahoo only offered passive content: news feeds (which I didn't get to select), stock tickers (which I don't pay that much attention to), cartoons (though never my favorite).

Google offers tools which I will use every day, and come back for. So even though it's a little bland looking, I stuck it on my browser bar. It's not my homepage, though. Sort of like my homepage away from my homepage.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yes! Got two pages. Ran over with this blog post. No stats, but I go in to work late, so I will probably yet get them (stretch my hour to an hour and a half. Take that, The Man!)

In light of two plus unpublished novels, several more unpublished shorts stories, and etc., I often wonder why I keep writing. Why I rearrange my life to keep this particular activity going. I wrote a glib essay about the time constraints a couple of years ago, which I posted to my website (and just now noticed that the title bar is incorrect...rrrrr). But I turn it over in my head alot, a lot. The why. There's other crap I could be doing. Kayaking. Ballroom dancing. Cooking. Lately, I've been thinking the same about my game: I like my new gamers, and love the stories they're giving me a chance to do (I'm going to stick giant monsters into the new game every chance I get). But its a lot of work to put together a fresh scenario every couple of weeks.

In both cases, right now, I've convinced myself that I like the puzzle of it.

a) In gaming, I like figuring out the funny little number/die roll sequences that might model some weird sort of magic that I haven't seen anybody try before. Like magic guns. Or making super technology out of raw chaos.

b) In stories and gaming, I like figuring out the logical sequence of events that: gets the point of the adventure across, conveys the informatino that needs to be conveyed, makes sense in a narrative fashion, and creates the right amount of friction to be excitement.

I'm no good at real puzzles, mind you: physics or math or anything like that. But I like narrative puzzles. It gives me an odd sense of calm, making up lives out of whole cloth.

I would almost quit gaming to work on my fiction more, except that with gaming I know that I have an audience for a particular piece of puzzlemaking that I've been doing. Oh yeah, and the fiction is harder. It's just a hell of a lot harder to construct the little logic puzzles of narrative out of meaningful sentences, using the sentences that came before it as clues. It's double hard if you don't outline it before hand. They come together at an agonzingly slow pace, too. Two pages a day four or five days a weeks sometimes isn't a full scene.

A stat block is a pain in the ass, but it is formulaic. It is in no way hard, it doesn't need to be particularly coherant in a narrative sense, and it comes together immediately. I really make the story part up later, when I'm playing a stat block out.

Next post is about my daugther. Post after that about my paracosm. Oh, yeah: did I say I love words created to describe imaginary things? That should be a post, too.
This is "day three" of my little social experiment, begun 6 days ago. It was interupted by my little girl puking at 2:30 AM, and then the weekend. Yesterday I wrote a hard page. Hard meaning it was tough stringing all the sentences together. Today will go better, I hope: blog entry, page or two, some stats for my game.

My third novel, not counting partial manuscripts, is tentatively title Red House. It a Fantasy novel about a pre-adolescent girl who lives in a gigantic old house with her cousins, under the tutalage of her grandmother and various aunts. The only men she ever sees are on the street, or at occasional family functions. She is being tutored in magic, among other things. What she really wants to do is cast a kind of spell that she isn't supposed to be able to. Most of her search is about finding that spell. Some of it is about finding out about her mother, and father, and why they aren't around. The rest of it is about why her family lives in such a strangely segregated way.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Trying something new this morning. Excercised last night. Getting up at 5:30 to try and write. This is based on some things I've been thinking about: heard a guy who got a novel published talking about stealing time for writing in the morning, and heard some chicks talking to us at staff development day talking about unhooking from work by excericsing afterwards. Figured it wasn't working for me the other way around, I'll try it this way.

It may be a one day experiment. Unfortunately, I was up till 11 watching the Slither DVD extras. Had frenetic dreams about work: crabby patrons and nosebleeds. Need to figure out how to program the coffee machine.

Let's see: will write 1 pg of novel 3, 1 blog post, some stats for new game.

Blog post done. I'm surprised how well I type in the dark. Only numbers and punctuation are really a problem.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On e-books

When I talk about books going electronic, bibliophiles and librarians go apeshit, insisting that a book will never be replaced by another object because... well, because. You can't curl up with a PDA is the inevitable conclusion. My favorite variation of that is: you can't read a PDA in the bath. Here's a hint: Water and wood pulp don't mix that well either.

The main complaint about reading a "book" on a computer seems to be that it's hard on the eyes. The Sony Reader seems to use a reading interface that is not hard on the eyes.

This review agrees, but finds plenty of other tangental things to complain about. Because he likes to "focus on the positive," the reviewer notes that the format is fine... the device is lightweight, the text is comfortable to read... but it's not backlit, so you need a reading light to enjoy it, files don't enlarge well, it isn't searchable, and there aren't enough titles available.

"Herr Gutenberg's half-a-millennium-old innovation stands the test of time." Sez he.

So, says the reviewer, the Sony Reader is worse than a book because it's no better than a book. Personally, I think he worked harder on the "catchy" title than he did "focusing on the positive." It's a weird review, made even weirder by the fact that the reviewer links to a near rave review he wrote about a technology from eight years previous: the Soft Book.

Yeah. I don't know what that is, either.

Let me point out that paper books don't enlarge at all. The answer to small text in a paper book is a whole 'nother book, which we in the book industry call large print.

Paper books also do not light themselves. Neither do they offer any searchability except for thumbing through them and using your eyes to find a word. Or, as the current joke about republicans would have it, "bending over a page." How exhausting. How analog.

Some of those complaints are valid, of course. But for the wrong reason. They don't have anything to do with readability. What fool makes an electronic information storage device that isn't searchable? Why not take the trouble to make other formats scalable, so your device is more useful to people (and therefore more marketable)?

I'll add another complaint to the list for free, actually: Not only will the list of titles be moderately limited for the near future, I bet it takes Sony for-fucking-ever to make sure libraries have access to readable Sony Reader formats. Like Apple is doing with their books on tape format for iPod.

But really, all those problems will get fixed, by Sony or someone who finds a way to make a similar, but better product.

Don't get me wrong: I won't be buying a Sony Reader anytime soon. I don't have 350 bucks to blow on it. I may buy the "Reader Nano" that comes out next year because I don't need to keep 1,000 books in my hip pocket.

500 will be fine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Today has been a fucking hell kind of day. I just needed that to be documented somewhere.

The art of a well kept blog.

I don't know how other people do it. Among the many things I don't do well is keep a writing schedule. I am a "writer" in the sense that I write, not in the sense that I get published. I write nearly every day, though much of it is tabletop RPG stuff. Writing is largely easy for me. Ironically, keeping a regular personal blog is not.

Now, this is not to say that I can't keep blogs. I have two others:

The Rosy Rod of Wonder is a tabletop RPG blog focusing on magic items, that I update at least twice a week, barring catastrophic writing delays.

The Good Reads Blog is a review and library resources blog that I keep on behalf of the library that I work for. That gets updated bi-weekly, usually. I see a day in the near future when it won't be, largely because I am running out of submissions.

Both blogs have been relatively successful for me, however, in terms of regularity. There are two reasons for this: one is material. The Rosy Rod is actually a by blow of the extensive amount of thinking I do about my games and paracosms. I could probably come up with ideas to update that with from now until I die. The only time it takes is in editing, which is no small time requirement, but easier to find if you have the material come crawling from a crack in your skull as fully formed as Athena crawled from Zeus'.

The material for Good Reads comes from by browsing and thinking at work, if not directly from my co-workers.

The other reason they've been successful for me is that I pre-load my articles, sometimes months in advance. Neither subject is perishable: people will be playing dungeons and dragons and reading till long after I die, so I can kind of parcel out posts over time.

My personal blog gives me some problems for just these same reasons. Material is harder to come by in my personal life because:

I'm not that interested in myself.

I am often unsure of the wider validity of my opinions (though like most, I hold them dear).

It takes more time to fuss with your day and turn it into a readable post than it does to turn how-to instructions into something clear and readable.

The most interesting thing in my life right now is my daughter. There are several problems with this: Audiences have a variable interest in kid and pet stories, I spend the least part of my day with my daughter which means that the lion's share of her awesomeness passes me by, and I have a terrible memory for non-proceedural real world stuff (which technically, makes me an terrible person).

The only other interesting things that happen to me involve the foolishness of people I meet at work. And frankly, it would be bad for my continued employment to talk much about that.

Regularity is further hampered by the fact that banking a diary would seem like having a 90 second taped delay on the news: It would give you time to get it right, but is a newscaster's reaction really news after 90 seconds?

I think the most successful personal blog would actually treat life as a broadcast commodity. Probably the ones that have resulted in book deals have done so. The real problem with reading blogs is making the time: there are lots of good ones. I don't have time to remember to go back to them again and again. You need a reason: the continuing story of a life you're interested in is compelling in the same way that a soap opera or TV show is.

So good personal blogging probably requires that you a) know your niche, and b) have a commitment to biographical writing.

There are some format issues here that may be largely overcome by the new version of windows. It's supposed to have an feed reader in it. What's a feed reader? It's a piece of software that makes your computer look at each blog address you have entered into it, and check to see if they have a new post.

This means, theoretically, that you could be a lousy poster: every second week, and every third every few months. But if someone liked your "voice", or subject, they could stick your blog's address into their feed reader, and only check your site when their reader tells them you've posted.

Quantity of writing will always mean something: not everybody will want to keep fallow blogs on their feeders. Though many people will chunk feeds into their reader, and forget about them until the next post comes by, I can imagine some users simply not wanting to clutter up their readers with irregularly updated blogs.

Feed Readers aren't particularly new. When I was fooling around with a feed reader last year, it looked like a cool toy. But it was a pain to page through feeds and add them, one by one, AFTER finding the blog feeds. Also, I was suffering information overload, which is something that you will have to deal with if you feed a lot of prolific bloggers.

If Vista has a feed reader, then they will be common. Microsoft is "the" operating system, and unless Vista is as bad as ME, then everybody will have Vista. Feed readers will be mentioned in books about Vista, classes about Vista, and people will figure out how easy it is to get info from the blogosphere.

In the meantime, however, you can find a lot of other feed readers by googling "RSS Feed Reader". RSS stands for really simple syndication, and is one of the formats of software that feed readers "read." I'm fiddling with Google Reader right now, though, and it's hella easy. A little slow, but all you need to do to add a feed is add the host site's URL. You don't even need to add the RSS or Atom address. Plus, you can divide your reading interface into subjects with folders and stuff. It's obvious that feed readers have come a long time in just a year.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This is nice:

Not snotty, but firm.

IAP Statement on the Teaching of Evolution

I liked this, which rather was more snotty.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I've always had a thing for Tim Powers novels. He's a funny sort of writer, sort of a pragmatist-noir fantasy writer. His books are all about sad sacks who beat themselves up in the pursuit of magic. He sets up these eleborate, oddball cosmologies, where running water and electrical current and loose change befuddle ghosts. They're not always feel good novels, but I always enjoy them because of his Rube Goldberg magics.

I always buy his books, and slot them into my reading at my earliest convenience, because I know that, even if I like other writer's books better sometimes, his books will be different.

Many writers don't do different.

Looking around the internet for information on him recently, I ran across this old interview.

In it, he had this to say:

"I've heard writers say things like, "My characters have lives of their own! Bathsheba the Snake Woman became real to me, and I just watched and typed in amazement as she carried on." Imagine one of these writers trying to get to the airport! "I wound up in Mazatlan, the car had a will of its own!"

Which made me laugh, because I don't think I've heard many writers not say it, and it's always irritated me. It's good to hear someone concur.

I would read his blog. If he had one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wikipedia is fucking cool, not because it's authoritative (which, I've no doubt it is, in places), but because it treats completely unauthoritative subjects authoritiatively.

I can't count the number of times I've gone to Wikipedia just to get the feeling for an off topic. I would never recommend a patron use an article without a dash of salt, but hot damn, there's no place else that I can run across a fruity topic like "cosmic rods" and find a cogent summary plus tons of wierd side issues.

Further examples are Otherkin, the technical and PC term for that guy you knew in high school who said he was a space alien, or the artist at the SF con who claimed to be a vampire.

Following various links concerning consipracy theory, you can come up with a wealth of stuff, from this guy who writes books about shapeshifting carnivorous lizards in our government, the Illuminati, and Discordians.

Yee Ha.

Lastly, it's a great frikkin' place to find summaries of comic book series, like Planetary, if your unsure if you want to buy them.

There are arguments about whether Wikipedia is authoritative. I don't think that really matters so much. Nobody should ever get their information from a single resource. It is funky in a concise and thorough matter, a really handy tool.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Funny Little Surprises in Life

We have bunnies in the back yard. Ruby and I are kind of fucked up in that we get attached to yard pests. It happened with the squirrels that hung out for the free peanuts outside our apartment from when we first moved out here. It happened with the starlings nesting in our roof in Brooklyn. And here you are. Bunnies eating our clover and weeds, and we are charmed.

Our main bunny has a white spot in the middle of his forehead.

The last time I had a weekend... April? No, it has to be more recent than that. Doesn't it? I went for coffee at the coffee beanery, then to browse Barnes and Noble. And guess what? I found a totally unanticipated new volume of Y: The Last Man, a graphic novel series that I like alot. And so I sat down and read the whole thing, right there.

If you hack around on the web long enough, you will find some very funny things.

Like this:

and this:

Hee, I say. Hee.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Best Driving

is on small highways.

It is said that there are alot of antique places on Red Arrow Highway, a local route that roughly paralells I94. So, having some free time, and a desire to be aimless, we decided to drive Red Arrow today, looking for antique shops. Even though I was certain they'd be closed on Memorial Day. There weren't that many antiques places, and they were, indeed, all closed.

But look, this is what we got to do: drive through at least five small towns: Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Watervliet, and Coloma. I saw dilapidaed barns galore. I don't know why, but I love dilapidated barns. I found out all sorts of weird things: There are not one, but two flea markets outside of Paw Paw. Hartford is full of mexican resteraunts, there are about half a dozen little Chinese joints in Paw-Paw, about thirty little bars and pubs up and down red arrow highway (and at least that many churces), two local history museums, there's a drive-in theater all the way out over by Hartford, and a hippie-pants ice cream shop in Watervliet. I had blue moon ice cream at Mollie's turnaround. And I probably got all that mixed up and put everything in the wrong place.

Small highways are never as faceless as the Interstates. You see people, and funny little businesses, and the texture of places. Sometimes places on the little highways have so much texture they look like they're about to fall down.

There's stuff on backroads. I like looking at other people's stuff.

As we were passing one patchy little homestead on the side of the road, I said to Ruby: "That house is next to the definition of ramshackle in the dictionary." And after a pause, I said, "This is the part of the movie where the car breaks down and we get eaten by inbred, radioactive rednecks, isn't it?"

Luckily, it wasn't, 'cause Poppy is too darling to be anybody's appetizer.

We met my sister in Paw-Paw, nearly by accident. Towards the beginning of the trip, she called to say she was on I-94 on her way out of state, and wanted to drop in. Oops. But we were going parallel in the same direction, so I gave her directions to the McDonalds in Paw Paw, and we hung around for a bit. Life on the move.

I am supposed to go swim, now, I think.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Stumbling around

A coworker found this, and showed it to me, and I laughed off and on for days. I think it is even funnier posted to my blog. I hope it doesn't draw a cease and desist letter. This is fair use, right?

In any case, one of the real, unadulerated pleasures of working in an actual public library building is serendipity. I can't tell you how empty hours I've wasted pouring over folklore dictionaries looking for odd little tales, how many patrons with interesting names I've run across, and how many off little facts I've run down for people. Really, I can't tell you. I forget all my good stories as soon as they happen.

But happen they do. Libraries are one of those cultural lint traps, where all sorts of curiosities end up. If you work in them for long enough, they stick to you, and you become a kind of curiosity.

Case in point, the friends of the St. Agnes branch of the New York Public created a display of things that they'd found in donated books: photos, money, airplane tickets. You'd be surprised what people use as bookmarks, and it was always interesting to see what funny little bits of marginalia they'd collected. I liked poking through tiny bits of other people's lives exposed.

I found this in a donated book a couple of days ago. I like it alot. It has sheep in it.

Lastly, something I do on the desk when I am zoned beyond belief is blogsurf. If you go to, there is a running ticker of recently updated blogs.

I've made a game out of it, a sort of endurance test: how many random blogs can you look at before you find something truly horrible or really wonderful.

Today, I found quite possibly the most aimlessly belligerant blog on the web. Many blogs are about loathing, but they loathe someone.

This chick,
ferinstance, loathes everyone she thinks God's on the outs with.

But I dunno. I can't figure if that first guy is being funny or not. He's so perfectly deadpan. If he's not, I think he's a serial killer waiting to happen, and were I a chick, in the UK, I would be so very afraid.

But I'm not. Now lets see how many times I go back to his blog before I have to poke out my eyes with a stick.

Come to think of it, I can't figure out if shelleytherepublican is being funny or not. She reads like a Landover stereotype.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It occurs to me, after several long hours worth of arguing the illegal immigration point in newsgroups and with family, that Americans are willing to spend several million dollars per year, if not more, playing a giant game of Flintstones with every country on the planet with a GNP lower than we have.

The rules of Flintstones are like this: THEY sneak across the border, by tunnel, truck, plane, boat, or on foot. We equip, train, and give benefits to a large group of border cops who then spend large numbers of man hours chasing down men and women who have come here to get jobs, man hours hauling them over the border, man hours on the paperwork to record all our efforts so it is above board, or at least so we can cover our asses properly. Then THEY come back at a later date and try all over again.

The game is named for the bit in the Flintstones credits where Fred puts out the saber tooth only to have it sneak in a window. It's kind of like gambling, because it's a losing proposition. We will never make any money on it. We've spent more than they put into the economy, hell, probably more than they've earned. We've probably spent more than we would make with the optimistic scenario that employers, forced by the lack of readily available cheap labor hire an American at minimum wage (with benefits) to fill the illegal’s place.

What will likely happen is that Americans will hire to fill those jobs under the table (neatly avoiding taxation), or they will fill the job with two part time positions, sans benefits.

Variations on the Flintstones include paying for and maintaining a huge structure all they way across a border that is broken by ocean on two sides and clear blue sky all the way above it.

The upcoming war on illegal immigration is two kinds of wrong: It is protectionist, which is anti-capitalist. It is protectionist because it is trying to artificially inflate the value of certain jobs by shimming American citizen's wages against the willingness of the citizens of other nations to do them for cheaper. It is stifling competition. Capitalism is all about the next guy trying to under cut you. If that's what the job is worth, that's what it's worth. In effect, because Americans have fallen in love with cheap goods (who wouldn't), we are trying to support a standard of living for Americans that we are unwilling to pay for

It is prohibition, which has never worked effectively in the history of mankind because it goes glaringly against human nature. You cannot really prevent human beings from doing something they want. It didn't work with alcohol, has never worked for drugs, sex work, and I predict it won't work for intellectual property theft, now that's it's a cheap enough process to steal ideas. All we've ever been left with in any of these situations are expensive, tax supported systems of enforcement which do little good.

Yeah, so what that they're here illegally? It's a dumb law. The answer is to let people who work in, and stop splitting hairs about how long they've been working, and return only criminals and the indigent. The last part is a distinctly non-liberal stance, I suppose, but the only one that I can rationalize in the face of a potentially infinite drain on social services. Someone else can argue that point. Mine is unpopular enough, as is.

Those that remain will pay taxes (unless American employers pay them under the table, like they do with many Americans), send money back to shim up their homeland in the face of corrupt governments who keep them poor at all costs, and sometimes they'll stay and add a productive tax paying career to the U.S. economy, all net gains. What's the option being passed in the legislative branch now? Jail, deportation, and constant enforcement. And they're all net losses.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So, this week I'm at PLA. PLA is the Public Librarians association conference. It is in Boston. Since Monday I have been making observations about public service, librarians, Boston, and the experience of conventions. I will endeavor to use this post to elaborate on anything that comes to mind:

1. I had no interest whatsoever in coming to Boston.

2. Boston is cute. It is a very mellow city to visit, or at least the theater district is. Lots of good restrants. Shopping is good, too. Botiques a go-go. The architecture is genuinely interesting, unlike alot of cities. I still don't care about the history and all that happy crap.

a. The water here tastes funny.

b. Boston is full of librarians. And you can tell: lot's of women who manage to look both elegant and frumpy. Lot's of gangly, enthusiastic men with bad facial hair.

3. I can't walk a single block around the convention center without hitting three restraunts that I want to eat in. I have made a schedule of cuisines. It is very simple really: I plan to eat sushi three times, at Irish pubs twice, and then elsewhere.

a. One of the reasons I have decided I like Boston is that there are Stabucks all over the place... but there are also Au Bon Pains! All over the place! I avoid Starbucks for political reasons: ie, they, as a corporation, believe that Americans do not deserve free speech. Plus, Au Bon Pain has much better pastry.

4. Travelling for work puts people in such an artificial environment that I'm surprised it dosn't lead to spontaneous suicide. It takes you out of your natural environment, composed of the people and objects you generally choose to distract yourself with. It replaces that with: a sterile environment, a restless desire to fill time, a constant need to pull out your credit card to replace your home and hobbies with tourist entertainment, and you're always wondering if the cute girl at the comics booth will think you're a freak if you ask her to dinner. For the company. If you have half a brain, you eat well on the company's dime (but not too well), and you end up feeling like a fatted calf afterwards.

a. I cannot use hotel soap. Uniformly, it dries out my skin like nobody's bidness.

b. My boss shows up tomorrow. I will then, hopefully, have company for dinner.

5. My Hotel room has two bathrooms. It doesn't seem big enough for that. How queer is that?

6. The Hills Have Eyes is sucktastick filmaking. Really. Nice looking, but a stupid, manipulative plot.

I don't know why you say goodbye...

I say hello.


I were 14.


I were in an AOL chatroom.


Would be my opening:

I am soooo drunk.

This is what comes of a lifetime of abstinence. The lifetime, of course, being that of my three and a half year old daughter, who causes said abstinence. After all, there are duckies and puzzles to be purchased.

I had intended to recommence my journal when I had been retired a year, which would be 4 weeks from now, give or take.

However, in four weeks, I won't be doing anything interesting again. So liquered up and sitting in a hotel room with a laptop, I begin writing in my blog again.

To quote Krusty: "Oooh. That's not good."

There are ground rules.

I will try to post weekly. There are no guarantees. I know my legions of fans will be disappointed.

I had been considering posting anonymously, which means starting yet another blog. The problems with that are many. I am vain and want to become known for my opinions, being one. I can't update one blog, let alone two, being two. The benefits include anonymity, a plus for a professional with as much natural bile as I have. The compromise is this: I will freely criticize all parts of public service, my chose profession, in as polite a fashion as I can possibly manage. Hopefully I will not end up fired.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler

I ran across this today, and tracked down the link through wikipedia.

Octavia Butler, prominent science fiction author, dies at 58.

When I was in New York, I got a chance to hear her speak a couple of times. She had a beautiful voice, and a calm presence. I recommended her work to several young men looking for something besides Star Trek novels to read, because her books were vivid and clearly written, and was even thanked once for doing so. Her death makes me sad like few things can anymore.

The article covers the hows and etc. more clearly. It is a very nice obituary. People who's blogs have an actual readership will spread the world faster (like Mr. Barnes, and Mr. Gaiman). Other people will speak about her body of work more eloquently. But she did good things in the world, and it is a sort of honor to be able to help testify to that fact, even in a small way.