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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A little here and there

When I start having to scroll down through my emails, I know it's time to do a quick links post. (Jason and I have totally opposite views on that, by the way. He has THOUSANDS of emails in his inbox--no joke. I like all of mine to be "above the fold.")

Anyway...

Do you like QR codes? Are any of you librarians using them in your libraries? This one is. We've started scattering them around the SWBTS library, but we haven't gotten too many scans yet. Feel free to send me advice on how to use these more effectively!

Any of you on Pinterest? It looks cool, but it also looks like just one more thing to add to the to-do list. And the to-do list rarely gets done these days as it is! Anyway, if you are on there, check out the American Libraries magazine. Cool images!

When I was reporting in Birmingham 10(?!) years ago, the Jefferson County Commission was in trouble then, and it's still in trouble now. Sadly, this is having negative effects on a great library system.

Also, a little sad, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print. I've been reading an encyclopedia entry every day since my parents bought me a set when I was 11 years old (although I've gotten a bit behind in the last 10 weeks).

Don't want to end on a sad note, so I'll leave you with a little Baby McBookworm story. We've been reading a book or two a day, and she seems to be enjoying it (and, of course, I am)! Most nights, we read Goodnight Moon because it's the "lap version," and the pages don't make noise when you turn them. :)

This morning, we were reading Caps For Sale, and she listened and watched for a few pages, then started helping me turn them. Good job, Baby Girl!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

I haven't done one of these in awhile, mostly because, by the end of the pregnancy, I was wearing the same things again and again--the only things that fit! And I didn't feel too pretty in them. ;)




I'm still wearing the same outfits every week, it seems, because they are the only non-maternity clothes I can still fit into. But it's nice to not be wearing maternity clothes!

I also have to be kind of careful about tucking in because I have a short torso, and outfits like this tend to make it look even shorter. But it felt so nice to have a waist again that I went for it today. Crisp blue shirt, black skirt, houndstooth flats, and pearls. Welcome back, indeed. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Investigative Activity: The Parepin Conspiracy

Go here: http://iamtryingtobelieve.com/ Where is the problem solving? What are you doing? What is the problem with this site? What creative solutions to this did you try? 

The problem solving on this site actually concerns reading the text. With the distracting lines in the background, the varied bright colors, and, most of all, the overlapping words, it was difficult to discern everything that was written. The site discusses a government conspiracy centering on a drug called Parepin that the site alleges has been put into the water system. The drug also seems to be connected to visions or sightings of “The Presence,” which looks like a hand coming down from the sky. 

As far as the actual reading went, I tried slowing down to look at the words (or parts of the words) carefully, and I used context clues to help figure out what the obscured words were. After several paragraphs, I realized it would probably be easier to highlight, copy, and paste the text into a Word document. I was frustrated that it took me so long to think of this simple solution! 

Since I like to think of myself as an expert at reading (having easily logged the 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell says we need to be an expert at something), I was surprised that I approached the problem in what seemed to me to be an inefficient way. Why struggle through the methodical process of trying to read unclear text when a few keystrokes would solve the problem?

In fact, I have copied and pasted hard-to-read text from emails and from other sites before, so I have to wonder whether there was something different about this exercise. Perhaps the fact that it was an assignment made me work through the problem-solving strategy a bit more methodically. Or I might have been distracted by the context. The conspiracy theories, newspaper articles, and photos made for a compelling story, so my cognitive processes might have been divided. 

The story actually made me curious about the site itself, so I took a decidedly non-creative approach to problem solving and Googled a name in one of the newspaper articles. 

SPOILER ALERT! 








It turns out this is an alternate reality game connected with a Nine Inch Nails album (neither of which I am an expert in) called Year Zero. The text is indistinct and the site erratic because the information is being sent from the future. As a result, everything is distorted. 

Upon investigation, the game itself would require a great deal of problem solving. There are number clues on the site, an email address that will send you further information, and an online community of gamers with whom to discuss the conspiracy. 

Are any of you alternate reality gamers or Nine Inch Nails fans? Have you encountered this site? What do you enjoy about games like this?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Naming Names

I realized that I've never given the back story on Catherine's name, so I thought I'd share that (and showcase a few more recent pictures--you're welcome). ;)

Catherine was my paternal grandmother's name, and it's one that we have both just really liked for a long, long time. My grandmother passed when I was only four, but she was quite special to my family. So it's nice to be able to honor her memory.




We also wanted to honor both of our mothers, but it took us awhile to decide how. My mother's name was Janice, so we thought about that as well as January, which actually was a close second to Catherine. We also really liked Jason's mom's middle name, Gayle, but we had trouble combining them all and deciding whether we wanted to saddle her with three names.



But the more we thought about it, the more we liked the idea of giving her three names. (And someone may have mentioned George Herbert Walker Bush--thank you, Uncle Michael, for encouraging my presidential aspirations for her.) ;)




And, when we saw her, we knew it fit--Catherine Gayle Janice Norris. We like it, and we hope she does, too.




We're not planning to shorten Catherine, but you know how those things go. We still call her "Baby Girl" a good bit as well as Wiggly, Flopsy (not so much anymore since she's getting better at holding her head up), Kitten, and, of course, Fred calls her New Girl.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two Months Already?

When I was working in Tuscaloosa, my fellow librarian told me that, when her kids were little, it felt like time was passing both really quickly and really slowly. I totally get that now.

In one way, it seems like she was just born last week, but each day is so full that the individual days go by kind of slowly, too.



We head back to the doctor tomorrow for her vaccines (and plenty of tears for Mommy, I imagine), and we should find out how much she's grown.


She still seems very tall to us and has completely grown out of her 0-3 month clothes (thus the kind of random outfit in the seven weeks pic--that was the only thing she could still wear), and it was fun changing those teeny tiny outfits out for her 3-6 month clothes. 


She has also had several firsts recently: eating out, staying in the church nursery, and hanging out on campus with Mommy and Daddy a couple of days a week. (She stays with me during lunch while Jason is in class.)



Here are the other things we are up to at two months:

  • rolling over just a little bit 
  • reaching and grabbing--lots of fun with Mommy's necklaces
  • kicking and "talking" to her little animal friends in the pack-n-play
  • chewing on her hands {and preferring them to the pacifier}

And two of our absolute favorite things so far...

  • sleeping through the night {such a blessing--I'm actually starting to feel normal again}
  • and SMILING! 

We haven't caught too many of those smiles on camera, but we absolutely love them. She's such a serious little person sometimes that it's fun to see her light up at a funny face or laugh at a noise we make (and we don't mind looking absolutely ridiculous trying to get those smiles and laughs).

We are so thankful for our two-month-old girl and look forward to seeing what's in store during this next month!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This post is brought to you by the letter N

This was the activity for my class this week. Kind of a toughie!



Activity two: Try to have a ten minute conversation with two different people and DO NOT use the letter "n." Write your reflections of the experience. This may be challenging, because n is a letter that is used frequently in the English Language.

The first conversation I had was with my husband, and I told him beforehand about the challenge. We noticed that there were a lot of words that have “n” in them, including our last name (Norris), our daughter’s name (Catherine), his name (Jason), husband, language, English, French, Spanish (we were thinking of going multi-lingual at one point), and “and” itself. Not using “n” also rules out negatives: no, not, the “un” prefix (uncertain, unlikely), and it often inhibits the present continuous tense (going, laughing, working).

It felt a bit like we were playing Taboo because he kept catching me every time I messed up. I’m just glad he didn’t have a buzzer!

It was tough, but it got a bit easier by the end of the conversation, and I felt like I hit a rhythm with my speech. It felt stilted, though, and the smaller words kept tripping me up. I could quickly think of another word for the main noun or verb in the sentence, but prepositions were another story.

The second conversation was with my dad, and I didn’t fill him in on what I was doing. (If you’re reading this, sorry, Dad! It was still nice to chat!) I mentally rehearsed a few phrases before we talked, such as “How are you?” instead of “How’s it going?” and “I just called to say hi” instead of “I was calling to check in.” It was a bit easier than the conversation with Jason, but it was still tough!

Some slip-ups were unavoidable. When he asked about the weather, it was hard to think of another way to say it was raining. Again, though, my brain seemed to catch the gist of what I was trying to do by the end of the conversation, but it still felt stilted. My response times were too long, and I felt I couldn’t fully focus on the conversation.

It reminded me of some of the sections in chapter four of the text related to attention, fatigue during vigilance, and the consciousness of complex mental processes. Specifically, it seems that language might, to some extent, fall under an automatic process, but an exercise like this forces us to treat it as a controlled process. It was nice to feel as if my conversation returned to being a somewhat automatic process again!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Heard in Our House

Last night...

Me: I was so excited driving home tonight and thinking about coming home to our little family.
Jason: Are you sure you weren't just excited about your Thursday night shows?
Me: Hey...Liz Lemon and Leslie Knope are family too.

On that note, what's up with Parks and Recreation being usurped by Community for the next month? Very sad.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Leaving Maternity Leave

So tomorrow is my first day back at work

I'm leaving this little gal in good hands...



...her daddy's!



But I'm sure going to miss hanging out with the two of them (and Fred, of course) every day. I will also miss lounging around in comfy clothes, letting my hair air dry, and not even bothering with makeup. (Poor Jason.)

But I'm thankful to be going back to work, too. I have a great gig and some fantastic co-workers, and it will help me to be back in a daily routine. Because, for us anyway, it has NOT been easy getting a six-week-old on a routine (despite all the books making it seem so simple).

These have been the hardest six weeks of my life, but they've also been the most fun. It's the weirdest feeling ever--being frustrated and exhausted to the point of tears, but then suddenly those tears of frustration are mixed with tears of joy because you're just so thankful for this new tiny little person.



My prayers have been kind of like that, too--a mix of helpmehelpmehelpme and thankyouthankyouthankyou. I've seen that I'm as dependent on God as Catherine is on me. I'm completely helpless in this new situation, and I've felt like he's been carrying me through this process of learning to be a mother. I kind of hope I don't lose that feeling, even though I do hope my confidence with her increases. It's hard being a newbie! :)



I was also thinking about God the other night as I peeked in on her while she was sleeping. She had no idea I was there; she has no idea we watch her so closely on her little video monitor. But if I think that child needs me, I am there, on the spot. How much more is God watching over us? He is always--always!--watching, even if I can't see how he's working.

All this kind of came flooding over me today because we dedicated Catherine at church



It was such a sweet experience to make a formal commitment to raise her in a Christian home and to have our church family give us their support on that. I can't overstate what a blessing they've been to us through this whole experience. Since our family and most of our friends are in other states, we've relied on them, and they have not let us down! I can't wait to tell Catherine all about God and about how wonderful it is to be part of his church.

This post feels a bit rambly, so I'll blame the hormones and put in plenty of pictures to make up for it. 

And if I cross your mind tomorrow, I'd appreciate a quick prayer! I have a feeling it's going to be a tough day for this mom.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Investigative Activity: September 11

I was a senior in college, working the morning shift at Alabama Public Radio. As usual, we had the morning news on the television, and we saw the news reports almost immediately. But I had a 9:00 class, and, not knowing what all was happening, I went and learned my professor's brother-in-law was in one of the towers. We later found out he was one of the almost 3,000 who died in the September 11 attacks.


Being a journalism major, my professors continued to hold classes that day, encouraging us to learn from the tragedy while also providing a source of comfort and support. As everyone probably does, I have flashes of memories--sitting on my bed in the dorm watching the footage again and again, talking with friends and family on the phone, and wondering how our country would respond.


Even now--more than 10 years later--those memories are so vivid, I think they must be accurate. But are they? If I had kept a journal of that day, how would my memories line up now?


That is the topic of this third investigative activity where we look at "flashbulb memories," those that are so strong they play in our minds almost like a movie, the ones where people ask, "Where were you when..." It's troubling, in a way, to think that our memories--even these incredibly vivid ones--might not be accurate, but that is what these researchers found.



The Lee and Brown (2003) article discussed a study of almost 1,500 college students, divided into two groups, one of which was tested within 24 hours after September 11, 2001. The other was tested ten days after the event. About ten percent of the students were then tested again the following April. Researchers investigated the changes in participants’ “flashbulb memories” and found that there were some differences in recall between the two different testing times. Most of these differences were related to “the amount of contextual information that people recall, the details they report, or relationship between affect and memory,” rather than “consistency between test and retest.”

Lee and Brown (2003) offer several possible explanations for this, referencing how well major news events such as September 11 are encoded due to repeated rehearsal, the effects of emotion on “pruning extraneous information,” and post-event experiences. The researchers found that these memories, like others, are susceptible to influence and, as the text suggests, constructive.

Similarly, Talarico and Rubin (2003) found that flashbulb memories are no more consistent or accurate than everyday memories. “Instead, exaggerated belief in memory’s accuracy at long delays, belief that is unrelated to true memory consistency, is what may have led to the conviction, even among some researchers, that flashbulb memories are more accurate than everyday memories,” regardless of whether they are consistent.

As the text points out as well, the same memory processes are in effect for both flashbulb memories as well as everyday memories. Therefore, they are subject to the same degradation, rehearsal, and other influences on encoding that can affect their consistency over time.

Whether flashbulb or everyday, false and inaccurate memories are common. When emotion plays a larger part in a particular memory, such as that of September 11, the stakes perhaps seem higher to us that we remember accurately. As Talarico and Ruben (2003) show, though, confidence does not equal consistency, and flashbulb memories will not necessarily remain the same as when they were initially encoded.

Lee, P. and Brown, N. (2003). Delay related changes in personal memories for September 11, 2001. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 1007-1015.

Talarico, J. and Rubin, D. (2003). Confidence, not consistency, characterizes flashbulb memories. Psychological Science, 14(5), 455-461.

Read from the beginning...