101 Ways to waste time

1. Create peep dioramas illustrating the current political situation. I gave this 'assignment' as a joke to my mother-in-law, but was delighted and impressed when she actually completed the assignment. Photos to come soon, I hope.

2. Play around with ToonDoo. If you're not inspired by your own text, use a poem. I don't think the Academy of American Poets had cartoonish interpretation of poetry in mind when they established April as National Poetry Month. Rilke was German, anyway.

\The Neighbor\

You'll have to come up with the other 99 ways to waste time.


Every day is national history day

More and more students (grade 6-12) across the nation research and prepare History Day projects (exhibits, performances, documentaries) based on a pre-determined theme. The theme for 2008 is Conflict and Compromise, and students could identify topics such as Galileo and The Vatican, segregation of military troops, supreme court cases, strikes -- anything that has conflict and compromise.

So, for the last few years, I've been trying to figure out exactly when National History Day was, and finally decided to look this up. No wonder I couldn't find an exact date -- there isn't one.

But, I did find that Minnesota's regional history day events were held in March for 2008, and that the statewide event will be held in April. The national history contest will be held in June, at the University of Maryland. Through this process I also learned that the University of Minnesota provides a History Day Hot Line and email for contestants. That's pretty cool.


Color color everywhere

Baby Quilt
Originally uploaded by just_katherine
I'm not crafty enough to have a separate blog for my quilting accomplishments, so you're stuck with a few posts here at Oranges and Peaches.

I made this quilt for my little newborn cousin. I chose the colors when I thought he would be a girl, but I don't think he's into gender identity just yet so they should be fine. Perfect for his little newborn eyes that need contrast. The batting is the thickest my machine would handle (for that all important tummy time), and the backing is a fish theme (for the biologist mother).

I'm using the leftover fabric to make coasters.

"It was a dark and stormy night"

Best first line of a book. Ever. And, I just learned today that Madeleine L'Engle was not the first to pen that phrase. No. Edward Bulwer-Lytton's* 1830 novel Paul Clifford opens with
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
In fact, there are many more instances where this phrase was used and made popular in literature, at least according to Wikipedia.

I started this post thinking it would be about great first lines in general (you know, "Call me Ishmael," "They shoot the white girl first," "It was a pleasure to burn," "Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself") and a rant about the American Book Review's placement of "He loved big brother" at number 7 on the list of 100 best last lines from novels (should be number 1), but I got sidetracked by "it was a dark and stormy night."

*Bulwer-Lytton also coined the phrase "the pen is mightier than the sword."


Digital fiction

Well, this is humbling. Here I am all excited about mapping out events that take place in books at my Twilight program tomorrow, but here is a story that takes place on a google map. This is very cool, and there are more to come.


Two men at your library

The theme for YALSA's Teen Tech Week this year was Tune In @ Your Library. When this theme was used for the teens' summer reading program a few years ago, some of my colleagues heard it as "two men" at your library. I will always think of it as "two men".

So, what did I plan for "two men" this year?

Today I had a circuit bending workshop at the library. It was presented by Beatrix*Jar, an electronic sound art duo. They are awesome, and lead a very very good workshop for teens.

Basically, they take battery operated (that's a key point. battery operated. no electrocution on their, or my watch!) devices and rewire the circuit board to create new sounds. In the workshop they took apart a Casio keyboard, tried different wiring until they found an effect they liked, then soldered it in place with a new switch. Then the kids got to dig through their box and pull out other keyboards and educational toys from the 80s and give a try at rewiring the sounds.

I'm not doing justice to how cool circuit bending is. I started to wonder if it was just cool to me because it never occurred to me to take something apart and make up my own use for it, but no. It's cool. Check this out...

My library system does Teen Tech Month as its way of participating in Teen Tech Week. Why? There are a lot of non-print resources available for recreation and education these days, and it's important to recognize that that people need to be technologically literate. And, it's important to me that librarians be considered as qualified, knowledgeable and trusted go-to people when it comes to information technology (as well as print resources), and that the resources and services we provide are seen as relevant and current.

I must keep this underlying professional reason in mind as I get ready for my next Teen Tech Month program -- a techie book discussion / Twilight party. I am geeked about the google map we're going to create of all the events that take place over the course of the books. I also must tame my inner-nerd by then, to keep it at a minimum.

An obituary column

Who knows what will come up in conversation at work on any given day? Today, it was deaths.

Jon Hassler. The excellent Minnesota author.
I met him in my early teens in Park Rapids. My aunt complimented him by saying that he was the Ernest Hemingway of our times, and for YEARS I thought I had met Ernest Hemingway. Even though I read Staggerford shortly after meeting him, I think I was in college before I figured out that no, I had met Jon Hassler. Not Ernest Hemingway.

Arthur C. Clarke (science fiction author of many titles, including 2001: A Space Odyssey), Margaret Truman (mystery author and daughter of President Harry Truman), and Anthony Minghella (director of The English Patient and Cold Mountain).
Just part of the list we generated at work today. We were literally gathered by the water cooler for part of the discussion.

William F Buckley Jr. Founder of The National Review, member of Skull and Bones, and revolutionized conservatism (while being in favor of legalized marijuana).
I received his obituary from my mother in the mail today with a note saying that if I don't know who he is, I should. (I didn't). And, that I completely missed the point of The Good Shepherd. (My italics). Thanks, Mom!! You rock!

But, all of this obituary talk today made me realize that I haven't heard from the First Wives Club lady in over a week. This is really unusual. I hope she's okay!



Does anyone use the term postage to refer to their blog posts? If so, my postage level is at 102 posts (yay, me), my average postage is 21.25 p/m (posts per month) (yay, me), but my postage rate has decreased this week (booooo). But, I don't think postage should be used this way.

On May 12, the cost of postage stamps will increase to $.42. Last weekend my mom asked me if I had a supply of the $.39 and $.02 stamps left, and if she could trade them for some forever stamps. I had never heard of the forever stamps, even though they've been released for 11 months now. I basically never use stamps, and I had to confess that I was still using leftovers from my two sheets of $.39 children's characters that I purchased in January of 2006.

I just don't mail much that requires stamps. Bills are online, Netflix is pre-paid, and I email people if I have something to say. (And, yes, this means I haven't mailed Christmas letters for...probably 3 years.) (And, this also means that even though I receive one or two letters a week from my mom - which I love - I don't write back. I email or call back.)

And, speaking of the cost of postage -- if you didn't get your "Economic Stimulus Payment Notice" in the mail, "all individuals receiving payments will receive a notice and additional information shortly before the payment is made". The IRS spent something like $42 million to send these notices via mail, but they have make it more difficult each year to send your taxes in the mail to them. Oh, well.

.... . .-.. .-.. --- / .-- --- .-. .-.. -..

(Hello, world)

I always have one book going in my car, and one going on my mp3 player. Twice today I heard a reference to someone speaking in morse code (with a pencil in Thirteen Reasons Why and with a light switch in Looking for Alaska). It got me to thinking that a) I'm glad I never had aspirations to become an engineer, because my brain won't understand how radio signals work, and b) those author-types sure are creative.

BTW, Morse code is still in use today. Although the FCC doesn't require the Morse code test for amateur radio certification anymore, many still use Morse code to communicate. And, if anyone wants to create a secret spy message using Morse code, here's a handy chart for you to learn the alphabet.


The Three Musketeers

Alexandre Dumas
Originally uploaded by IrishDave5000
So. I've started reading The Three Musketeers for this summer's book club. Being the fast learner that I am, I quickly discovered that it is not a bed book.

I never thought about this before...Alexandre Dumas was a black man. (My talented guys' book club facilitator and go-to person for anything literature-related pointed this out to me today when we were talking about the classics book club I'm having this summer). While we still had slavery, he was writing and being published in France. According to this biography he didn't identify himself as a black man, and that he didn't really encounter any kind of racism during his life. So, I don't know that his race played a huge role in his writing, but he's celebrated on the African American Registry nonetheless.

"Not Anne Frank, but the other one with diaries"

Anaïs Nin (pronounced 'ahna EESE neen,') has shown up more than once at the reference desk lately, and, of course, I had never heard of her before. But I started to wonder why we had so many of her published journals in the catalog and decided I was missing out on something.

Um, er...yes. I was. ;)

Not only is she well known for the diaries (that she started keeping when she was 11 years old), she is also famous for her erotica, her lovers, (her first husband was Hugh Guiler, should one ever need that information) and her views on feminine identity.

Salon.com makes an audio file of her reading in 1972 available on their website.


An example of my day at work...

...hee hee! Not really, but I'm hooked on A Bit of Fry and Laurie after watching this video. (Thanks, D!)

British comedy is an acquired taste, in my opinion, and it seems that people know a lot of the shows. I'm a Blackadder and Fawlty Towers fan, but am not as well-versed in British comedy as..well..some people. There's a group for everything!

A random sample

These are just a few of the questions that came through today...

Q: What does an armadillo sound like?
A: I can't really tell, but National Geographic provides an audio file.

Q: What holiday do matzo balls go with?
A: They are particularly popular during Passover.

Q: What does DH mean?
A: Darling Husband...or more commonly...Dear Husband.

Okay...that last question came via email from my DH who wanted to know what I was saying about him! But I was at the reference desk when I got the email...


Apparently, fire kills skeletons...

...which makes Skulduggery Pleasant, the ace detective who just happens to be a flame-throwing skeleton, even more funny. This is one of my favorite books for tweens from 2007 -- mostly for its bone-dry sense of humor -- and is also a relatively new area of reading for me. It's supernatural. I made my husband listen to my booktalk about the book last week, and he was really hung up on the flame-throwing. "That would kill him!!"


Lemon laws

Hey! Did you know that there are Lemon Laws that cover bad cars?
Under the law, if the manufacturer or its authorized dealer has been unable to repair a car’s problem after a “reasonable number of attempts,” the buyer or lessee may go through a manufacturer’s arbitration program, or to court, to seek a full refund of the car’s purchase price (minus a deduction for use of the vehicle). The law considers a “reasonable number of attempts” to be any one of the following:
  • Four or more unsuccessful attempts to repair the same defect; or,
  • One unsuccessful attempt to repair a defect which has caused the complete failure of the steering or braking system and which is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or,
  • A car which has been out of service due to warranty repairs for 30 or more cumulative business days.
I have written about my POS car before, and, while my car problems were never bad enough to warrant a refund or a replacement, I wish I had kept better documentation early on.

The Good Shepherd

My DH and I watched The Good Shepherd last night, and just could not get into it. He bailed after 2 hours, and I kept watching hoping that it would come together a little bit more. When we were reconstructing the movie I said something to the effect of "I appreciate this secret society that they made up" and Dan right away said "that part wasn't made up! Skull and Bones is real." Huh?

Well, I figured it couldn't be widely known, but today when I was recounting my weekend with my coworkers - and sure enough - they all knew that Skull and Bones was a real society at Yale, and that both the President Bushes were members. Most of the details they knew came from coverage during the last presidential election, as both John Kerry and George Bush were members.

I wish I had known about the movie before I watched it. If I knew that it was about the CIA from the get-go, or if I remembered the circumstances of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. As it was, I spent most of the time trying to figure out what was going on (too much mumbling), not sympathizing with Matt Damon's character AT ALL (he made the choice to put his work first, too bad for him that his life sucks), distracted by whether Angelina Jolie's character was good or not (she would make a great bad spy), and trying to figure out Joe Pesci's character (he was part of the mafia who used Havana as a home base until Castro rose to power and kicked 'em out).