Goodbye 2008, I hardly knew ye

Time.com does a nice job of year-in-review stuff, for example, and obviously people can find what they're interested in on their own, so I recognize that this is not a major contribution to the blogosphere, but I la la love the reviewing at the end of each year. So....

Speaking of Time... their top awkward moment (Bush dancing while waiting to endorse McCain) is pretty funny, and their ninth (but my top) political line is Colin Powell endorsing Obama on Meet the Press and saying "is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?"

Words of the Year include hypermiling (New Oxford American Dictionary), bailout (M-W), overshare (Webster's New World), and meh (me). The American Dialect Society will announce its word in early 2009, but it looks like the word will be change.

Minnesota Shopping Center Association Awards (yes, such an award exists...) go to Best Buy in Mall of America for redesign, SuperTarget in Southdale for design and aesthetics and many others. Sheesh. And the only non-metro prize was awarded in Mankato.

Best New Bars of the cities include moto-i, Barrio and Seven Sushi. I do not get out much. Never even heard of these. Hmmm...maybe now is the time to start a New Year's resolution to get to these places...

Minneapolis, economically, ranked 137 out of 200 in The Best Performing Cities of 2008, according to the Milken Institute, but tied for first place with Seattle as being the most literate city of 2008.

Best Books of the Year for adults that I have read include The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer, Away, by Amy Bloom, Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, Persuasion, by Jane Austen, The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas and The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy.

Best Books of the Year for teens that I have read include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, Paper Towns, by John Green, Little Brother, by Cory Dotorow, and Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr.

Best Books of the Year that I intend to read include Books: a memoir, by Larry McMurtry and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson (Library Journal), The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery (Washington Post), Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout (The Atlantic), The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich (CS Monitor) and 2666, by Roberto BolaƱo (NYT), and City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (Teens Top Ten, because I've read the others).

Two of the five things we learned from Michelle Bachmann are the truth about the Declaration of Independance: 'Guess what? Not all cultures are equal!' and the geography of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge: 'dark most of the year' and 'no trees' courtesy of the Uncommon Loon Awards from Minnesota Montly Magazine.

How To 2008: How to do almost anything with social media is a great resource to keep on hand. Especially for those who are new to things like Google Reader, or for those who decide to join Twitter.

Sad and too-early farewells include Heath, Tim, and local blogger Emilie Lemmons.


The 2008 Kat and Dan Index

Average age of Kat and Dan's cats: 9

Percentage of time Kat spent on the computer that the girl cat violated the no kitties on the keyboard rule: 80

Number of quilts Kat bid on in an Amish quilt auction she attended in Ohio with Jill, Kathy, Barb and Phyllis: 3 (And she got them. It was the best trip!)

Number of quilt tops Kat put together: 5

Percentage of those quilts Kat completed: 80 (The fifth quilt top was donated to a fundraiser after her mother's church quilting group finished it. Then her mom bought the quilt!)

Chances that Kat will ever think of herself as a crafty person: 1 in 1,000,000,000

Estimated number of hours Kat and Dan stood in line to caucus for the first time ever: 3.5 (What a year to participate in the election process! They've voted before and all, but participated in more this year than ever before, and really enjoyed it.)

Average number of batches of cookies the cookie-making machine known as Dan made per week since June: 2

Percentage of times Dan made cookies that Kat's coworkers requested: 100

Estimated number of minutes the ferry took to get Dan and Kat to Madeline Island for a much-needed weekend getaway with great friends: 25

Chances that Kat and Dan are getting out to Portland in 2009 to visit friends and family: 1 in 2

Chances that Kat and Dan are getting out of the country in 2009 to visit friends and family: Sadly, 1 in 365

Estimated number of hours Dan and Kat spent geocaching around the twin cities: 60

Ratio of caches sought to caches found: 1 to 1 (Our signature trinket to leave behind somehow ended up being Dora the Explorer hair ties. Dan got them at the Target One Spot without knowing who Dora is, but it works. With the exploring and all...)

Percentage of authors Kat was dying to meet that she actually did meet: 100% (The most excellent, nerdtastic John Green).

Number of blogs Kat authored (or co-authored...one with family, one with a friend): 5 (or, 6 if you include the blogging she does for hclib.org, but she doesn't count that for some reason).

Portion of those blogs active as of this writing: 2

Number of Final Fantasy games Dan completed: 12

Estimated number of hours this feat required of him: 483

Average cost of the computers Dan works on at the University of Minnesota's Supercomputing Institute: $4 million

Chances Kat will ever be able to explain what Dan actually does beyond "he is the storage guru for big important data": 1 in 42

Number of hours Kat spent reading and singing to babies at the library: 12 (This number does not reflect the hours Kat spends in her regular storytime for preschoolers.)

Number of individual book club meetings for children and teens Kat held at the library over the summer: 41

Number of NO BOOKS! Club Kat held at the library this summer: 6 (Kids who don't like to read have a place in the summer reading programs too! BUT! They did all literacy-based things, like creating comics online, and doing a mystery play, and...well...playing Guitar Hero. Because it rocks.)

Ratio of perennials Kat planted prior to 2008 that survived to those planted that did not survive: 1 to 0 (Did that come out right? Basically, nothing I planted prior to this year survived under my care.)

Number of perennials Kat planted in spring of 2008: 12

Percentage of those plants that made it through the summer: 91.6

Number of perennials Kat planted in fall of 2008: 12

Chances she and Dan will see them again this spring: Let's not jinx this by putting a number to it.

Number of Christmas trees Dan and Kat put up this year: 2 (Keepin' it real downstairs; fakin' it upstairs.)

Number of grains of rice Kat donated to the UN World Food Program via FreeRice.com while composing this, her very first form Christmas letter ever: 11,960
(Really, if you haven't gone to this site yet, do. I would say don't even finish this letter, but you're almost done...)

Number of hours Kat and Dan spent with friends and family, and being thankful for it: too many to quantify.


If you have a sensitive gag reflex...

...I apologize, and recommend that you read no further. For I, Dear Readers, have discovered for myself the wonder and relief of the neti pot.

I think that most people know about these miracle devices already (especially if they watch Oprah, which I do not-I have my friend Amanda to thank for this discovery), but on the off chance I'm not the last among my acquaintance to use one, it is basically used to pour a saline solution through your sinuses and flush them out. I'll leave it to you to YouTube it if you're curious about how it works. I've been grossed out by the concept for the several months I've known about them, but was desperate this week. And I have to say...it feels good.

One tip, though. If you're nose is raw from blowing it all day, the salt water won't feel so good.


(S)he just smiled and gave me a

vegemite sandwich!

Yes, I had my first (and possibly last) vegemite sandwich tonight. (The jury's still out as to whether I actually enjoyed it -- definitely an acquired taste!) I didn't know what to expect at all -- but I wasn't expecting the salty bitterness. It's like nothing else I've tasted, but the closest I can come to describing it would be a concentrated cross between tamari soy sauce and...a sour Guiness? If Guiness were sour...

My husband's cousin from Australia is making a long trip visiting family and friends across the US and, as she is spending a lot of time en route, carries a small pack of healthy food with her. (Smart. Avoid the vending machine meals). Vegemite is a yeast extract, and a little amount packs a lot of Vitamin B, is fat-free, and should last forever given how salty it is! I definitely understand why Aussies take it with them while they're traveling!

I feel okay if it takes awhile for me to enjoy it, though. After all, the Fred Walker Company (now part of Kraft) had to go through several campaigns to get it to take in the 1920s and 1930s!

Just remember, if you're so inspired to try it yourself, that a little bit goes a long way!


Then again...

It isn't always my elders who inform me of things before my time. Earlier this week some of my young patrons at the library told me about various things that were before my time as well.

Bye Bye Birdie
One of my 11-year-old girls told me all about how Bye Bye Birdie is inspired by Elvis Presley's draft into the army and part of the plot involves a staged "last kiss" to occur on the Ed Sullivan Show. I've heard the name of the musical before, and some of the songs, but never really knew what the plot was about. Now I do.

A four-year-old patron asked me for books about the pegasus the other day. Nothing was really coming up in the catalog so I had to ask her if she could tell me more about it...and she gave a great description of the wings and the color and its abilities. Once I learned that it was a winged horse, we were able to find some books for her in the horse section. The next stop would have been the mythology section, but by then she was looking for books on mummies.

This seems like something I might have known before, and definitely should have known before, but hey. Can't win 'em all.


Before my time

I used to feel almost guilty when anyone would make a remark that something was before my time if I had no clue about a reference that was being made. I decided awhile ago to not let those comments bother me, and I had a chance to exercise my resolve the other night.

At a recent gathering people started reminiscing about Sonja Henie and what a beautiful skater she was. I had no idea, the remarks were made (very gently, of course) and while I did wonder how everyone knew who she was, I did just quietly say to myself -- yup. Before my time.

Sonja Henie was an Olympic figure skater in the 1920s and 1930s, and went on to act in Hollywood films. And, that's all I feel I need to know for now.


I blame the anz

Garbanzo beans.

Organza bags.

garbanzo bags, which I just searched for.


Link Love

I've been doing more reading than writing of blog posts lately, and I thought I would pass a couple of my finds along.

The Bata Shoe Museum
Must. Go. To. Toronto.


Like geocaching, but instead of using GPS coordinates to find treasure, use directions like "turn north at the yellow house" or "turn right at the corner with the yellow concrete triangle." Oh, and bring your signature rubber stamp with you.

Question: When is the next Harry Potter movie coming out?
Let Me Google That For You


Hello, is this Mrs. Deh...(voice trails off)?

New (and occasionally old) acquaintances don't typically attempt to pronounce my name. Most jump ship after the first syllable.* I don't blame them, actually.

It is often assumed that librarians know how to pronounce the names of authors. I can understand the assumption, given that we writers and librarians are all in the book biz and everything. But, like teachers doing roll call or telemarketers making cold calls, we're not automatically bestowed with knowledge of the ways people pronounce their names.

Sometimes we can go to their website, and the author will have answered the question in their FAQs. Janet Evanovich is pronounced /e VAUGHN o vich/ like LAWN, which was intuitive to me, and although I started by saying /JOE dee pee COLT/, Jodi Picoult is pronounced /joe dee pee COH/.

This is not the easiest method, and sometimes misleading. The official Roald Dahl website provides a recorded interview with the author from 1988, for example, but never pronounces his name. The fan website gives the Norwegian /rule doll/ but most other websites give the anglicized /rolled doll/.

For an excellent pronunciation guide to the names of authors, turn to TeachingBooks, where several authors have recorded themselves saying their names, and occasionally give a brief background story about their name. Tamora Pierce (rhymes with camera, not /ta MORE ah/ as most people say), for example, gives the story about the mixup with her birth certificate.

For a hilarious guide to pronunciation, revisit the classic essay by the now National Ambassador for Young People's literature, Jon Scieszka.

In other pronunciation news, see the 50 Incorrect Pronunciations That You Should Avoid from Daily Writing Tips.

*I did have a non-family member correct me on how to pronounce my last name once. But to his credit, he made it sound like a lovely name.


For the record...

I made two statements today that introduced a fair amount of confusion, and that quite obviously needed immediate attention and prompt resolutions.

For the record, I was wrong in both cases.

#1 The rooster is certainly talkative today!

I order the puppets for the library, and I was most certain that I ordered a rooster. So, when a little girl was walking around with this puppet (which, incidentally, was quacking) I asked what the rooster had to say today (and then I helped her make the bawk sound). My partner at the reference desk said something to the effect of "I thought that was the hen..." and we were off -- what is the difference between a rooster and a hen? Appearance-wise, that is.

Female chickens are shorter and plumper than the males, and the head feathers, wattles and tail feathers aren't nearly as outstanding as those of the males. Of course, the fact that this puppet doesn't even have a wattle or colorful tail feathers is evidence enough, but I double checked the Folkmanis site where I bought the farmyard collection of puppets.

I had ordered the hen. (This is convenient, since I use that puppet to tell the story of The Little Red Hen.)

There are so many breeds of chickens -- it's crazy out there in the world of poultry breeds.

Food babies are the same as beer bellies.

The DH and I both felt too full after an okayish dinner and amazingly perfect dessert at Nick and Eddie's tonight. He said something to the effect of "I'm having a food baby" and I incorrectly thought food babies were the result of extended periods of eating too much, i.e., fat.

Nope. Food babies are a one-time deal after eating too much. The only time I've heard it used was in the movie Juno, but I had forgotten the context in which it was used.

0 for 2 today.