5.31.2008

You say tomato, I say tomato

Apparently, some well-known common-knowledge facts about tomatoes are:

a) one should not refrigerate tomatoes, but should store and serve them at room temperature.

b) heritage, or heirloom tomatoes exist, and are mild and sweet in flavor.

I don't care much for tomatoes. I will sometimes put them in a dish to get just a hint of tomato flavor, but I rarely actually eat the tomato. And, it is rare that I actually cook with tomatoes. Part of it is that I don't like cutting them. Weird, I know, but that means I usually buy roma or cherry tomatoes, and they go bad because I don't use them quickly enough and they go bad. Storing them on the counter will could improve the flavor and remove them from the out-of-sight-out-of-mind situation they are currently in. Most of it is that I don't care much for the flavor. My boss gave me an extra heritage tomato plant (that I had to admit to her died in the weather we had last weekend when she asked me about it yesterday, grrrr) because the mild flavor of the heritage tomatoes might suit my palate a bit more. I think it's a possibility.

5.26.2008

As seen on TV

...supposedly. I don't really watch TV anymore (except for a few Bravo shows).

My mom sent me home with these reusable green bags that prolong the life of fresh produce. They absorb the gas that fruits and vegetables emit (the gas accelerates the spoiling process), minimize moisture, and regulate humidity. So far, I'm really impressed! And it seems like something that most people know about...

Spring forward, fall back

I always always always thought (at least, I think I always thought) that Daylight Saving Time* was something the U.S. put in place to increase the daylight hours for the farmers. It was just recently that I had a conversation with someone about how difficult it is for the farmers to switch the clocks twice a year, because the cows aren't ready to be milked an hour earlier, and the planting and harvesting seasons bookend the DST hours, so don't benefit much.

I'm listening to Hattie Big Sky, and she casually mentions that she thinks it is strange to start President Wilson's new daylight saving plan to save coal for the war effort on Easter Sunday.

Whahhhhh? I honestly can't remember ever hearing that DST was put in place to conserve energy while we were at war -- so of course, I had to look it up, and there's all sorts of fun facts about that small event we do on the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November that wreaks havoc on my circadian rhythm known as daylight saving time.
  • Benjamin Franklin first suggested it while he was an ambassador in France. (This link also has a table showing the start and end dates for both the United States and the European Union, which are different each year...).
  • The United States implemented a time zone plan in 1883 to regulate the transportation across the country. The telegraph, and morse code, made it possible to coordinate the time zones. International Standard Time was adopted at the International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington D.C. in 1884. (Okay, that isn't actually about DST, but I like the point that this idea, coordinated time zones, was probably something that was long needed, and finally made possible with the ability to coordinate the clocks. It's the tipping point thing.)
  • Daylight Saving Time was first observed in the United States for seven months between 1918 and 1919 to conserve energy for the efforts in WWI. It was unpopular, was repealed, but reinstated in 1942 when the United States went to war again, and was year-round until 1945.
  • Daylight Saving Time was optional from 1945 until the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
  • About 70 countries observe, or have observed DST at some point. It can still be fairly erratic. Kyrgyzstan began year-round observation in 2005.
For even more than you would ever want to know about Daylight Saving Time, you can visit NPR's Time-Change Timeline, Seize the Daylight, or read the book Seize the Daylight: the curious and contentious story of daylight saving time, by David Prerau.

*Doh! I also learned to day that it's Daylight Saving Time, not Savings.

5.25.2008

Money, money, money, money...

MON-EY. (you know, that song from The Apprentice).

You know how paychecks say they are void after 90 days? I guess I always thought that the money went back to the company -- but I found out that it has to go to the state, and that it stays there for a LONG time. If you're wondering whether you have any unclaimed checks out there, you can search the Missing Money site for unclaimed property across the states, or you can visit each state's site. Minnesota's is here.

And there's a LOT out there! As of 2004, there was over $184 million in unclaimed property, $50 million of it from 2004 alone. That's crazy! People!! Cash your checks!

5.21.2008

A perfectly mindless night

I have always appreciated the energy that is required of teachers. But today, I have a new appreciation -- or I guess I should say -- I have a specific appreciation. Over the course of the last two days I gave 23 booktalks at the local middle school. The booktalks were 20 minutes long -- and I talked about 20 books. I have a specific appreciation for teachers who give the same lesson plan several times a day, and who talk all day, and who are 'on' all day.

To give an example of how grueling it was for me, by the end of the second day, my arms were shaking so much that I actually hit my teeth with the microphone several times, my feet were swollen, and I had a massive headache by the end of the day. My voice held out fairly well (mainly because I was drinking so much water that I had to go to the bathroom every hour), but toward the end that was shaky too. Most of my books featured characters that died (a fact that I didn't really notice until the end of the second day...but there was a nice variety nonetheless) so my crackly voice was somewhat appropriate. Then I went to work to cover the reference desk for the last hour of the day, and help the after-school crowd. One of my colleagues said I was making a cameo appearance at work -- she didn't know how right she was!

It was worth it. The media specialist received so many wonderful comments, as did I. There was so much buzz about "the librarian and her booktalks" throughout the school. By the end of the first hour on the first day there were kids coming into the media center asking if their grade got to hear the booktalks. There were many requests at the media center for certain books, and questions from kids who weren't regular library users about how to find their public library, how to get the books, how to get library cards, etc. The teachers were especially grateful. They were grateful that a librarian would take the time to visit their school, and help them generate excitement about reading over the summer. Some of them mentioned that they heard about some books that might tie into their curriculum, some of them mentioned that their non-readers were talking about some of the books they wanted to read over the summer, and all of them mentioned that their kids were listening intently. Even though not all the kids live in my service area, and I know I won't personally see them all at my library, I am confident that the readers and non-readers alike left feeling excited about the stories that await them this summer.

But. I am completely out of shape when it comes to being on my feet, talking, and being 'on' all day. I am 'on' all day at the library, but this is a completely different pace, and I'm pooped. Happy, but pooped. Tonight I did nothing but mindless activity -- mindless games, mindless eating (air-popped popcorn - not the worst choice, but it was mindless eating), mindless television, and mindless blogging.

I guess it's okay to have a few completely mindless nights.

5.19.2008

This just ain't right...

...but I enjoy it!



My mother tivoed the new kids when they were on the Today show, and surprised me with it Friday night. (I new they were making a comeback, but didn't know when). While I still feel it's a little bit wrong for the boy band to come together again, I was kind of excited to see them again! I was transported right back to my 13-yr-old self for a half hour -- singing along, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, and telling people to be quiet because I was watching the New Kids (but *my* comments were okay). I have since gained perspective on my junior high celebrity obsession, but it was fun to go back.

And I love that my mom recorded it for me!

5.18.2008

A weekend at Mom's

We spent the weekend with my brother and sister-in-law helping my mother put her house back together after she had new cabinets, counters and flooring put in. (Her house looks lovely). With five people gathered in one spot, there was plenty that came up in conversation that they all knew, and I did not.

1. Shoes on the telephone wires is a signal that crack is available for purchase.
It never occurred to me that 'shoefiti' was anything other than a weird prank. The Straight Dope says that there are several possible reasons for this increasingly common sight, as does Snopes. I like to believe that it is something that graduating seniors do, but whatever the reason, I wish that people would just stick to trees. You know, like the shoe tree on Washington Avenue.
2. Teeth will shift if one tooth is cracked.
I mentioned (probably more than once) (and after someone asked about the grimace on my face), that my front tooth felt loose again. I also noticed that there is a larger space between my left canine and lateral incisor. The immediate question was "is the tooth cracked? Teeth will shift when there's a cracked tooth." It makes sense to me that a cracked tooth would move, allowing the others to move as well, and tooth mobility is occasionally listed as a symptom of a cracked tooth. My dentist is certain that there is a small crack in the structure of the root that my crown is on. Evidence is mounting that I am headed for a dental implant. Please, please, please hold on until January when I can enroll in the health care savings plan!
3. Volte is a word.
I love Scrabble.

5.17.2008

You again?!?!

So, last March I made a quilt that I didn't like at all. I ended up donating that quilt top to my mother's church, where the ladies-who-quilt put a border and a backing on, and gave it to the quilt auction for world hunger relief.

Never thought I'd see it again!

My mother stood and guarded that quilt during the auction, and bought it for herself. I'm impressed with the fabric that was chosen for the border (it really offsets the colors and brings them together nicely), and am touched by her persistence in buying the quilt (she actually did have to bid against other people!).











5.16.2008

X is for xylophone...

...because X is always for xylophone. Unless you're creative, and make X stand for equinox. In this same children's alphabet book about animals, Z was for zorilla, a small animal related to the weasel, but that looks like a skunk.

A lot of my time at work is spent weeding this time of year. That's what librarians call getting rid of old books to make room for the new.

It is a unique experience, to go through all the books in your library, one by one, and really look at them. We're looking at book's condition, how often it's checked out, and if there is something better that has superseded it, etc. But there's so much more -- The other day I came across various relics left behind by previous readers -- a 5 dollar bill, a picture of Jesus, a tootsie pop stick that still had some stick...

And then there are the publishing oddities. There's a book picturing children doing yoga...and they have huge smiles on their faces. You notice how everyone else doing yoga in books has a meditative look on their faces? D came across a book where someone was modeling with their hands how to do something, and the hand model was not a good choice. Her nail polish was chipped, her hands were dry and cracked, and her cuticles were a mess. It was very very odd to look at.

It's fun.

O Henry!

The O. Henry Prize Stories are the best of the best contemporary short stories.
The O. Henry Prize Stories are the best of the best contemporary short stories.
The O. Henry Prize Stories are the best of the best contemporary short stories.

I figure if I write type this 100 times by the end of the day I will finally memorize this.

Today was probably the third time that the same customer asked me if we have any copies of this year's anthology, and this is the third time I've had to do a quick Google search to figure out what she was talking about.

5.15.2008

I know it when I see it

I think most people would say that a classic novel is 'classic' because it has universal themes and 'staying power.' Is determining whether the novel you're reading is a classic a case where the 'you know it when you see it' approach will suffice?

What makes this complicated is when is something a modern classic? Really, what I'm looking for is what makes a classic a 'modern classic'? Is there a set criteria? A set date? Do you take Penguin's or Everyman's definition of what constitutes a *modern* classic?

I actually used my library's databases to investigate a bit further, and came across an article* that identified a paradigm shift that began in 1950 in how writers treated their protagonists. They started using their protagonists in a way that was "made to serve the writer's assumption that the individual is forever trapped in his loneliness and psychic impotence." I'm not well-read enough to know if that is true, or even what that means, but it does support my hesitation to arbitrarily decide that books published after, say, 1970 belong on a modern classics list, and books published prior to that belong on a classics list.

From there I started looking at various timelines of literature theory, and got waaaaaay of track. But it does seem like 1945 is a common cutoff year. And that makes sense to me, what with the war and all.

I suppose I could go so far as to consult some books on literary history, to expand my search for an authoritative definition of a modern classic. But, not now. Now, I'm going to sign off and read a little bit more from Madame Bovary before going to bed.

*Sources:
Polzner, Walter. "Is Modern Literature Unique?" World & I 12.3 (1997): 320-338. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCOHost. Hennepin County Library, Minnesota. 15 May 2008. http://search.ebscohost.com/

5.14.2008

And now, for something kinda gross

I can't be the only one with this information....

We no longer live in a world where there is simply a number one and a number two. (You know to which bodily functions these numbers refer - I don't need to spell it out). I learned from my morning radio show that there is a number three. And, probably more numbers.

Now, my radio hosts never spelled out exactly what they meant by number three, but they implied vomiting. And the VH1 Best Week Ever definition of making number three supports that. I'm comfortable with that. But, when I checked the Urban Dictionary's definition of Number Three, I found significant disagreement on what this phrase in the pop culture lexicon means. Making number three, according to UD, can also refer to either explosive diarrhea, or ejaculation after masturbation.

I guess it's one of those things that I'd have to listen to the context to know what is meant, but until this cantankerous debate is resolved and one definition prevails over the others, I will refrain from making any casual references to number three. Because, you know, I talk bathroom talk all the time.

5.12.2008

A spider inside her

Thanks to this article from Cracked.com, and a verification at Snopes.com, I can rest easy knowing that I probably won't swallow a spider in my sleep tonight. Yes, I, along with millions of people, believed the "people swallow an average of 8 spiders during their sleep in their lifetime" declaration for most of my life. Whew!

And, I'm back.

A week off

When I haven't been blogging much, it is safe to assume that I haven't had any "oh, duh!" moments recently, or that I'm not prepared to write about what's up, or that I'm wasting time by taking tons of online quizzes. This week, it was all three. Plus, I've been reading a lot, and started my third fourth attempt at a book blog.


87

5.05.2008

Just another Monday

From a woman who gives me the best reading recommendations...
What's that book about a woman who fled the pogroms in Russia, and then tried to find the daughter she was separated from?
Away: a novel, by Amy Bloom. A pogrom is a "Russian term, originally meaning “riot,” that came to be applied to a series of violent attacks on Jews in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th cent."

Cut it out!

I have wanted to know how to do this FOREVER! Finally, I figured out how to remove the background from a photo using gimp. It was actually pretty easy, once I figured out how to invert the selection and then delete the background.


5.02.2008

Favicons...I have one too!

Pronounced "fave-eye-con", a favicon is that little symbol in the address bar right before your site's address. And, now I have one!* I'm branded! I'm unique! I have ARRIVED.

Actually, I just needed a project. Since I'm between quilting projects right now, I thought I would attempt to keep up with D and add a favicon to my site. And! And! And! I did this without my husband's help. Typically, when I've had to learn how to do something computer- or network-related, I just have him do it while I drink a cup of tea.

Not tonight. No. Tonight, I googled it.
Step 1: Create a favicon.

Step 2: Upload it. I used 50 Megs.

Step 3: Edit your site.
And, voilĂ ! Easy peasy.

*Well, there *should* be one there. Man, that would suck if it didn't work.