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Monday, April 30, 2007

Southern Reading Challenge--Final List!

I've been going back and forth between books and authors, trying to make a decision about which books to read for Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge this summer. I think the difficulty I've had in making this decision shows that we have a plethora of great literature coming out of the South.

Also, my overall to-read list is now much longer because I put all the runners-up on my general list as a consolation prize!

But I think, after much debate in my own little brain, that these three will be the best choices to expand my literary horizons and carry me through a hot, sticky, Southern summer.

Deliverance by James Dickey

Light in August by William Faulkner

Mockingbird by Charles Shields

OK, even as I type it, I can't help but think about The Orange Blossom Special, The Prince of Tides and Look Homeward, Angel. Aww...so many great books...such a short summer!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Reading

Couple of quick links to peruse on this long, slow Friday. (Aren't Fridays always slower than the rest of the week?)

Top 10 Assumptions about Future of Libraries from ACRL Research Committee

Cool NPR story about Wikipedia founder and "Alabama boy" Jimmy Wales

And, can I just say how much I'm loving LibraryThing? If you haven't checked it out yet, clink on my link to the right. It's too much fun!

Happy Friday!

MySpace-Part 2

Don't worry! No plans to give up blogger. It's more my speed; plus, MySpace and Facebook are all blocked from my work, which is where I put in most of my online time. Still, it's fun trying out the new stuff...

Things I like about MySpace so far...

-Lots more of my friends (past and current) on there than on blogger
-Makes me feel like I'm yOUnG and cOoL, even though I promise to never randomly capitalize letters like that again. What is that?
-I didn't like the music on pages at first, but now I'm kind of getting used to it and trying to decide what "my song" will be...at least for this week.


Things I don't like about MySpace...

-A lot of pages seem a little cluttered/busy...especially b/c some people use hard-to-read text sizes/colors, loud music and slow slide shows with lots of pictures
-Etiquette questions--I guess this comes up in blogger, too. Is it OK to send a message to someone you haven't seen in 10 years or haven't even met when you randomly found them by clicking from one link to another? Or is this considered too invasive?
-It's new...and I'm one of the late adopters. It took me long enough to get used to blogger...now something new. Aach! I'm just not big on change, but sometimes...you have to.

Planning to make my MySpace page a little more like me later tonight. Maybe new flickr photos, too. Now back to work.

"Better multitasking skills through massive caffeine consumption." (credit--a magnet)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MySpace

I know...two posts in one day! Whew!

Anyway, I'm trying out this MySpace thingy (and I'm so so not cool anymore), and I'm fascinated/confused!

So, if you're on, give me tips! I've already seen friends from college, high school...and now I'm breaking out the elementary school yearbooks. haha

Nah...but it is kind of interesting.

OK, help me out, fellow MySpacers!

Challenges...Challenges

Now that I've discovered the fascinating world of book challenges, I'm diving right in!

I'm so excited about Maggie's Summer Southern Reading Challenge (still picking my books for that one). And, again thanks to Maggie, I found Nattie's Newbery challenge!

I'm a big fan of the Newbery winners and, partly as a result of my children's lit class, have read a good many of them. So, for this challenge, I went for the older ones (new to me). And, to help my budget, I also picked books that the ACA library has.

Here are my picks, and I can't wait to get started next month!

Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

The Dark Frigate by C. B. Hawes

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Thanks again, Maggie and Nattie!

Peeps-Mania Continues

Here it is almost three weeks after Easter, and Peeps are still in stores.



How do I know this?

Because I bought yet another box of
Peeps blue bunnies (my personal favorite--of course I don't like the bird ones) just yesterday. Today...they are gone...and Fred only ate one. Jason didn't help at all. The rest were for me!


And I know there are more Peeps at Rite Aid, Target and probably 37 other stores across Tuscaloosa. They're now 75% off and still relatively fresh/delicious, so I just can't pass them up.


Someone else start eating these things, so I can get back on my diet...at least until Halloween!


Oh, and just for funsies...


Peeps go to the library

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Spot of Bother

I don't have time this morning to do a "proper" book review, but I did want to pass along a quick recommendation.

Just finished Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother this weekend and loved it just as much as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. They're both so well-written, with the characters believable and sympathetic. Both books are also simultaneously funny and sad. I literally had tears rolling down my face from both emotions (if that makes sense).


Moving on to The Narnian now, and I plan to do its review more justice!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

My Phobia

Anyone have any phobias? (And is that the correct plural?)

Besides my obvious fear of misspelling a word or making a grammar error, I'm also deathly afraid of birds. I think about this virtually every morning when I'm walking Fred and dodging the nesters, but I thought about it in a different light this week when my friend and uber-librarian Maggie did a post about a pigeon book.

Now, just to clarify, I have no "normal" phobias to balance this out. I'm not a huge fan of bugs, snakes, heights, germs...all the things you might think of when you hear the word "phobia"...but they don't really scare me either.

But let me see a blue jay, or worse, the dreaded mockingbird, and I just spaz! I've been known to hit the ground, run screaming, you name it.

I really had some issues at San Marco Square in Venice and at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans because the pigeons were EVERYWHERE. And chicken is the only meat I don't feel guilty eating--the fewer of those around, the better!

But, freakishly enough, this phobia apparently extends to books/pictures as well as real live birds. Cartoony ones are OK, but I don't even like to reshelve our "bird" section.




Crazy, right??!!


OK, so that's my embarrassing admission for the day. Just thought I'd share.





Just as an aside, I'm not afraid of owls. In fact, I love them. Have some owl-related stuff that I absolutely love. Go figure.

And just for funsies, here is Monk's phobias mug. A must-have for any phobia-freakazoid like me.

Hey, it's Friday! Yay!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alabama-Pulitzer Connection--Coincidence? No Way!

Kudos to the Birmingham News for winning the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Click here to read more about reporter Brett Blackledge's ongoing series about corruption in Alabama's two-year collegesystem.

Meanwhile...another Alabama-Pulitzer connection...The Race Beat by Hank Klibanoff and Gene Roberts won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Klibanoff apparently conducted research at UA's archives, the Hoole Library. He was also on campus earlier in the semester to talk about his book -- you can see that talk on the Libraries Lecture and Book Talk Video Series.

Moving on beyond Alabama...

Are Reference Desks dying out? I hope not! Interesting article, though, especially for higher ed library administrators. I'm all for adapting to the new trends--virtual chats are a must--but it's good to have actual people on hand, too. Whether students just like asking questions face-to-face or they aren't "technologically prepared" when they come to college, it's good to have someone available. Even if someone just asks where the restroom is, a friendly and accurate answer could interest a student enough to bring them back!

A trend to watch. Happy almost-Friday!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Celebrate!

Lots of things to celebrate this month...

National Library Workers Day. Ideas for celebrating. (How about taking the day off? Just kidding.)

Also, to recognize National Poetry Month, the Tuscaloosa Public Library is hosting Lyric Lounge, Lyric Cafe and Lyric Words. Go here for more information.

ACA kids will be recognizing Shel Silverstein this week. We won't be reading The Giving Tree, though, because it makes me cry.

Meanwhile, I just thought this article was fun and highlighted the recent discussion on ssh-ing.

Do You See What I See?


This is a picture of our wedding rings. Last Friday, Jason took his off for the first time since we've been married (almost two years now--woohoo). Anyway, I thought they looked kind of sad sitting there together...sans fingers.

Don't worry...no divorce in sight!

Jason had to have eye surgery Friday. His retina was detached, and they had to...put it back on. (See why I'm not in the medical field?)

If you want to read all about it, here you go. Otherwise, I'll spare you the icky details.

(He doesn't look nearly as bad as this guy--haha).




Seriously, he's doing really well so far, but he's struggling with a few things:

-Getting his eye drops in by himself. I've been doing this for him because he can't really see to put them in. It takes him several tries, but I'm sure he'll be a pro by the end of the week.

-Lying face-down this week. Even if he's sitting up, his head still has to be pointed down. Uncomfortable! So he's off work, which is nice, but he can't read, watch TV or do much of anything, which is a bummer. He's loaded up on music and mp3s, though, and, of course, he has Fred to keep him company.

-The thought that this might happen again. Jason is extremely near-sighted, so apparently that means a) he has to have those nice, expensive glasses and b) the retina is prone to detach, which means we could go through all this again anytime.

So please keep us in your prayers, especially during this difficult week. This has been a really tough situation. We had no idea that he'd have to be "put under" for the surgery or that we'd have to spend the night in the hospital...leaving Fred alone overnight for the first time! (sniff)

I don't say all that to complain, just to give you an idea of what to pray for! God has been incredible throughout this trial. He took care of the big things like seeing Jason safely through surgery. But we also saw Him working in smaller ways, like the nurses brought in two meals, so I wouldn't have to leave Jason alone. It's really been an amazing, faith-building experience for us.

So, if you've made it this far into this fairly odd post, thanks for reading! Also, thanks in advance for any prayers, and I'll try to post again soon.
Hint...there are other exciting things going on in our life besides health issues!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Poetry in Hymns

Do you have any favorite poets/poems?

That list, like the one of my favorite books and authors, is a long one. And, since it is
National Poetry Month, I wanted to post something about it.

Lately, though, I've been reading a "hymn-a-day" book with a little devotional about the hymn and writer. And I've really started to see some of these beautiful old hymns as poetry. It's so easy sometimes for me to ignore the words, especially of those "old, slow" church songs that have been around for years (and that we sang A LOT at my church growing up).

But I've been trying to appreciate those more lately, and one has really stuck in my head.

"How Firm a Foundation" was an early American melody. It's apparently attributed to several writers. If you're around Tuscaloosa and interested, my church choir is singing it Sunday. Hope you enjoy the words (updated just a bit by me--my apologies if I've offended any traditionalists)as much as I have this month!

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word
What more can he say than to you he has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with you, oh be not dismayed
For I am your God and will still give you aid.
I'll strengthen you, help you and cause you to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply.
The flame will not hurt you; I only design
Your dross [impurity] to consume and your gold to refine.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.

Kurt, Katie...and Koogle...I mean Google :)

Hmm...so Kurt Vonnegut is gone. Good article.

For me, the jury's still out on whether he's a good author. I read Galapagos a few years ago and hated it, so I haven't given him another chance yet. However, he's well-respected in many circles that I respect...so I might check out his other works.

Any Vonnegut fans? Thoughts? Recommendations?

Moving on...

As if we needed another reason to NOT like http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=25358

Some funny Google stuff...

http://www.google.com/googlegulp/

http://www.google.com/tisp/

And, for even more fun, see what happens when you "map it" across continents (i.e. Boston to Paris). Don't you just love Google?

Finally, I'll be posting later today on my "personal" blog some thoughts on National Poetry Month if you want to check it out.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Read Before Eating



Are we really what we eat?

Greg Critser, Eric Schlosser and Morgan Spurlock seem to think so. The three took different approaches to looking at obesity in America but came up with similar conclusions.

Mainly, they say Americans eat too much--especially too much fast food.

Critser and Schlosser write as if they are on public radio, with an in-depth, reporter style of story-telling.

Schlosser takes McDonald's to task for spawning a nation full of franchises...

“The enormous success of McDonald’s spawned imitators not only in the fast food industry, but throughout America’s retail economy. Franchising proved to be a profitable means of establishing new companies in everything from the auto parts business to the weight control business (and clothing stores). The emphasis on simplicity and uniformity, the ability to replicate the same retail environment at many locations.”

The deception of these big corporations is disturbing at the least. And there's a more extreme part of me that now wants to grow all my own food, never eat out and toss the television!

What might be even more troubling is that a goal like that seems absolutely insurmountable in our culture today.

So what can be done?

Do you read food labels now? You'll definitely be checking them out after reading through these books. Ever noticed phrases like "natural flavoring," "artificial flavoring?"

“The basic science behind the scent of your shaving cream is the same as that governing the flavor of your TV dinner.”

Yikes!

Also, you might want to start packing your kids' lunch. Our schools are in a pretty sad state as well. It was alarming to read how unhealthy food and the fast food companies have infiltrated schools, leaving them in a catch-22 when it comes to funding.

At first glance, all three authors seem to be advocating more government regulation as a solution to many of these problems. That could be helpful, but I believe there are other important answers as well. Spurlock takes it to that next level, and that's why his book is my top pick.


He wants us Americans to start thinking before we eat. Don't just automatically pull into the drive-through after a tough day. If you want a burger and fries, does it have to be a fast food burger, or could you grill it yourself?

Spurlock also points out that everyone has an agenda, from McDonald's to the American Cancer Society, and don't think he doesn't have one as well!

All that aside, his book is just plain entertaining. He is hilarious and pithy when pointing out the dismal state of this Fast Food Nation, and he gets to the point without overwhelming the reader with statistics.

And he makes a persuasive argument. Already a vegetarian, I found myself at the grocery store this week reading labels like crazy, picking up organic foods and searching for information on a local farmers' market.

So the decision is yours. Eat what you want, but at least be informed!

For more information, check out these sites:




Monday, April 09, 2007

Tuscumbia Vacation

We just got back from my hometown of Tuscumbia, where I had intended to post this. However, my dad still has dial-up, and I didn't realize how spoiled I am with the fast connections at work!

Anyway, we had a wonderful time. My brother, his wife and my niece and nephew were in town as well, so we spent a lot of time eating, jumping on the trampoline, watching movies and the Braves and, of course, playing, playing, playing. Their personal favorites were ping-pong, pool and "bloodhound hide and seek." This was priceless...one of them would hide, and the other would take Fred and go look...using Fred's nose to find the other. Hilarious.

The only drawback...it was cold! Bitterly cold! We only made it about half an hour at the park, even bundled up with mittens and "hot hands." Bless their hearts...they couldn't escape the Connecticut weather, even in Alabama.

Also, my dad's poor flowers took a beating...they were already blooming from the beautiful weather we had the week before.

A few pictures of the flowers (and Fred, of course)...I'm iffy about posting pictures of other people's kids, so I'm not putting up any of Christopher and Elizabeth, even though I personally feel they are the cutest and smartest kids that have ever walked the planet. ;)






Meanwhile, if you've never been to Tuscumbia, it's a great little day-trip for fellow Alabamians. They've recently renovated the downtown area, and it's incredible.

Things you can't miss in Tuscu-vegas:
-Coldwater Books (my all-time favorite book store)
-Audie Mescal (amazing clothes)
-Ivy Green (birthplace of Helen Keller)
-Parkside Steak and Grill
-Romans Piano
-The Palace Drugstore
-Spring Park
-My dad's trampoline (just kidding-sort of--I'd forgotten how much fun a trampoline can be!)

And I just realized I have to start taking more pictures...these just don't do justice to the trip! Maybe if I had a digital camera (hint-hint, Jason). ;)

Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday Links

OK, I'm going to try this post one...more...time. Fourth time. Grr!!! Blogger's been giving me attitude this morning!

This provided a much-needed laugh. Sadly, I feel like I can relate to the before/after pictures.

Meanwhile...more edible book fun!

Also...this came across SLIS-L as an alternative to wikipedia. Really? Because I love wikipedia, and it's going to have to be good to get me to switch. Any users? Comments?

And finally...Librivox- Acoustical Liberation of Books in the Public Domain. My husband's going to love this one!

OK, time to watch It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Killing Time on a Monday Morning...

Couldn't resist "borrowing" this idea from Tesney (thanks!). It was just the diversion needed on a rainy Monday morning. Now, what are YOUR "sevens?"


None of these are in any particular order...


SEVEN THINGS TO DO BEFORE I DIE:
1. Have children
2. Adopt as many puppies as possible
3. Go back to Europe
4. Attend a football game at every SEC stadium
5. Visit every state in the United States
6. Read War and Peace
7. Write a book (and get it published)


SEVEN THINGS I CANNOT DO:
1. Sew
2. Tell a joke
3. Draw
4. Understand why people have a certain philosophy or belief but vote a different way (does that make sense?)
5. Stop being afraid of birds
6. Stop carrying a book everywhere I go
7. Decorate (see picture at the bottom)


SEVEN THINGS THAT I FIND ATTRACTIVE IN OTHERS:
1. Honesty
2. Patience (even though this is a virtue I cannot yet claim)
3. Dimples (because I don't have them)
4. Naturally curly hair
5. Nice eyes
6. Spiritual strength
7. Logical mind


SEVEN THINGS I'VE BEEN KNOWN TO SAY:
1. Here's the thing.
2. Shh...(to rowdy library kids)
3. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer...
4. Where's my book?
5. I'm hungry.
6. Does that make sense?
7. Do you like my shoes?


SEVEN BOOKS I'VE READ AND RECOMMENDED TO OTHERS:
1. The Book of Luke (in the Bible)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia
3. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings trilogy
4. Junie B. Jones series
5. Series of Unfortunate Events
6. Going Public With Your Faith
7. Imitation of Christ


SEVEN FAVORITE MOVIES:
1. Amelie
2. The Godfather
3. Gone With the Wind
4. If a Man Answers
5. Little Women
6. Please Don't Eat the Daisies
7. You've Got Mail




Meanwhile...Happy Easter from the Norrises! (This is about as close as I get to decorating.)

Book Swapping, Writing and more

A few links to get your Monday started...

Just proves you're never too old to do something inspiring.

Haven't personally had experience with swapping or the freecycle network, so let me know what you think if you're part of it!

And I just thought they have cool stuff.

Happy Monday and Happy April!

Read from the beginning...