Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's on the Night Table This Week

First up - in less than two hours, we get to watch President Obama being sworn in. I cannot tell you how excited I am. I hope the kids are able to see some of it in school, but as the Inauguration is taking place during part of the lunch period, I'm not sure. Since the weather is too cold for recess, I can hope that they will try to show some of it in the auditorium. I'll record it just to be safe, because I know they wanted to see it.

So this week, I've got to finish another book I'm reviewing; The Wisdom Trail by Janet Lieberman and Julie Hungar, both in their late 70s/80s. It's really an interesting read; it's the stories of women who blazed the trail from the Depression and before through the 60s - women who worked, raised families, were active in their communities - very good stuff, very inspiring. I have to devote some serious reading time here so I can get my report in. It's a promising sign when my manuscript is all marked up with notes, though.

I've also been trying to get an idea of what I've got in the way of projects for the next couple of months. I've just cast on for a cute little birthday gift that I can't disclose much about, as the recipient's Mommy reads the blog. I've also got a March gift to start thinking about, another possible March gift - not sure as yet - and two Aprils. So at least I know I'll have stuff to work on - now, I just have to actually settle on projects.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

See? Progress.

At Heartbreaker's behest, I've read both Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. I thoroughly enjoyed both books; the mix of cartoons and the story told in the main character's voice was fun to read and I admit to quite a few out-loud giggles while reading them. Heartbreaker assures me that I will enjoy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw as well; he finished it last night.

I also have to admit to some selfish pride in getting the book for Will the day it came out, because he brought it to school the next day and was surrounded by kids, whose mothers haven't gotten it for them yet. Score one for Mommy.

So today was orientation today for me at SJSU. It's lovely having an online course where I can take my time, because orientations are normally not my thing. So being able to hit 'pause' while I made myself a cup of coffee (this apartment is drafty as all get-out and I'm FREEZING) was awesome. And being able to sit back and knit as I got to know all my future professors was very cool, as you can see:

That's a mitten for Cutie Pie, who isn't a fan of his gloves. He has told me several times that he wishes he had mittens, so when he gets home today, he'll have a nice, warm pair of blue mittens waiting for his cold little fingers.

And yes, that is an old-school Cylon head you see in the background.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And, Some Knitting.

I've been knitting, too. Honest, I'm not just on the computer all day long. Okay, lately I am, but I am knitting, too. I've still been working on the Nutkin socks, which I love - I'm on sock #2 now. It's a short-row heel, which I've never done before, and I'm a little distressed because it looks rather holey. Just means more finishing to be done, since I'll go in and close them up when I'm done. I have to look up how it's done and see where I may have gone wrong. Or maybe I just need more practice.

I haven't spun in a few weeks; again, just frustrated and really in need of someone who can show me, rather than watch a video on YouTube. Nothing, at least for me, beats someone that can show me what I'm doing wrong.

Okay, now I'm off to knit. Seriously.

Let's Hear it for The Wimpy Kid!

Here is a really enjoyable article from USA Today about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid phenomenon - Heartbreaker is a huge fan of these books and I'll be running over to Barnes & Noble today to pick up the newest one, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, so he'll have a little present to come home to today.

I think I'll even take a break from Mary Todd Lincoln to finally read these myself. Heartbreaker's been raving about them (along with many other kids) and telling me how I need to read them as well, and it's been far too long since Will and I have read a book together (other than Inkheart, which we're working through right now). When I helped staff the school's book fair this year, this series sold like hotcakes (as did the Camp Rock novelization, but Heartbreaker's not into that so much). Kids love this stuff. Hey, any book that gets kids excited about reading wins my vote hands-down.

I remember my cousin stressing out to me about her son, who's the same age as Heartbreaker, not wanting to read; I recommended Captain Underpants; a favorite of Heartbreaker's at the time. She proceeded to get all sanctimonious on me about the 'bathroom humor' of the book and how she'd never let her son read that.

Oh, please. Do you want your son to read? Do you think that not reading Captain Underpants, or any 'bathroom humor'-related book is going to stop your son from sniggering at a good fart joke? I'm a 38-year old female that thinks fart jokes are absolutely hilarious, provided they're done well. Drop the pretenses of being Victorian; you live in a split-level in New Jersey.

That said, kudos to teachers and librarians who have championed Captain Underpants and now, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, in all their boogers- and fart-related glory. Reading things that are written to speak to kids is the way to get them to read, particularly since we now know that boys learn differently from girls.

And if you have a boy, by the way, check out author Jon Scieszka's site, Guys Read - it's his literacy program to help boys find things they like to read. I first 'met' Scieszka through Nancy, who read The Stinky Cheese Man to Heartbreaker when he was but a toddler. He darn near giggled his Blues Clues socks off, and Scieszka went on to become one of his first favorite writers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weighty Thoughts...

After my frustration at not losing the 20 pounds I wanted to by Christmas (I did, however, get down by almost 4 pounds), I got into the whole hopeless bit; you know, where I'll never see my 'real' size again, yet I hate the way I look in pictures. I deliberate stayed away from making a weight-related New Year's resolution, because I'm tired of feeling like I've failed.

I did, however, get back in the Wii Fit after 31 days (as it so sweetly reminded me) today. Surpringly, my weight wasn't that different from my last time on the scale, and considering that normally I'd weigh in before I ate breakfast, and today I weighed in after I ate breakfast, lunch and a small afternoon snack, I was actually kind of hopeful about my starting point. It's not going to be easy, but if I can remember to be kinder and easier on my psyche, and remember that it's all about the baby steps, I'm hoping to see some positive results this year.
Book Blogging

I've decided to blog about the books I read this year. I read a lot of books, and looking back at the end of the year, I'm never able to quite remember everything I've read, for better or worse.

I ended last year and began this year with a book called Strange Nervous Laughter by Bridget McNulty, which'll be coming out in March. I've got to admit, this one left me cold. I'm able to read a book that doesn't necessarily appeal to me and still find something good about it, or pick who it will appeal to, but this one was just on my nerves from about five pages in.

The two biggest issues I had were the shallow characters that the author tried to make deep and a major storylines that just went nowhere. I felt like the author wrote this book to show how literary she is. For instance, one of the most irritating characters in the book is a woman who wears a “corset of cynicism”. Good. Lord. Maybe it's just too experimental or surrealistic for me - that's one genre of literature I've never been able to completely get on board with.

The story begins with an interesting scenario – a robbery at a grocery store in Durban, South Africa. Three of the main characters are in the store being robbed, but the robbery just becomes a throwaway reference point after it's over. The scene was just there to introduce the characters.

And speaking of the characters, there are six main characters, all of whom not only have their own little dysfunctional superpower but who have also had some abysmal childhoods. These six damaged folks end up pairing off and eventually falling apart.

I was frustrated with this book early on, and looking back, I still can't say I found something I truly enjoyed. I'll have to see what the word is on this book when it hits the shelves.

I just picked up a book I got during my BEA 2006 run; I've been dying to read it for ages and just decided to take a break from everything else and grab it. Mary, by Janis Cooke Newman, is a fictional autobiography of Abraham Lincoln's widow, Mary Todd Lincoln. History nerd that I am, I've been interested in her for years and the book is very readable. It's told in the first person from Mary's point of view, right after her commitment for insanity 10 years after President Lincoln's assassination; she's looking back at her life and currently, I'm up to when her father remarries her stepmother, who's apparently a wicked witch. I think I'm going to enjoy this read.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Do you want to know what I think is killing the book business? Authors who lie. We all remember the ugly business of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, which brought forth the wrath of Oprah, and right on the heels of that debacle, Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan's disgrace when it was discovered that she plagiarized sections of her book How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life.

And we have it happening again. A few weeks ago, we found out that Oprah has been burned again (and yes, I admit I get a little giggle out of it) by an author who claimed he met his wife when he was in a concentration camp during World War II - guess what? It didn't happen! And today, I just read an article on USA Today that the author of Conversations with God just got caught trying to pass off another writer's Christmas memories as his own on his blog. His defense? "Wow, I don't know how that happened, I guess I just read it and kind of internalized it as my own memory." (Amusingly similar to Viswanathan's defense, by the way.)

People, what is going on here? If you have a compelling story, do you have to pretend it was your life? Do you not think it's going to sell otherwise? Have we become such a reality TV-crazed nation that we have to think everything is a peek into someone's home before we'll consider looking at it?

The book business is in enough trouble without greedy or just plain stupid people trying to fool the public into buying their stuff.

Just a Sunday rant from me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quick Rewind

A brief New Year's recap:

I could have slotted in a picture from any of the past 10 New Year's Eves, and you really wouldn't have known better, would you? I will now refer to this and all similar as the "Annual Guy Shot".

Finally getting Mike to take a shot I can post.

Birthday gift from Stacey and Adam - a Dalek necklace!

Birthday gift from Nancy and Keith - Box O'Hello Kitty!

I'm about to start burning a few years' worth of photos onto disc, something I should have been doing more regularly all along. I do tend to use Snapfish as offsite storage for many photos, but I need to free up computer space for the updates I need to make. Plus, I'm terrified of crashing my entire system and losing my photos. Now, I just have to worry about what to do when my CDs deteriorate. I think I'm going to listen to my friend Chuck and just order prints of everything. Of course, that would mean going back to finding space for all the photo albums. Gah!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wii Knitting?!

(screencap taken from KNiiTTiiNG concept site)

Who'd have seen this one coming? An artist and a scientist are collaborating to bring a knitting game to the Wii. You can check out the GeekSugar article here or you can check out the concept and some storyboards here. On the one hand, my inner nerd and knitting obessive loves the idea, but on the other, I'm kind of worried about people not bothering to learn how or continue to knit if they can just do it virtually. I guess knitting nuts like myself and the rest of you (y'all know who you are) will still do it, because once you've felt the caress of baby alpaca, there's no going back. And seriously, no matter how much fun it may be to make online, can you wear Wii-Knit socks? I think not.

So I've officially been a grad student for three days, and it's been pretty darned awesome. I've completed two of my nine assignments, and have already made some new friends with my classmates. One of my biggest concerns was feeling like the old fogie in the bunch, but I've been delighted to discover that many, if not most, of the people in my class are around my age/stage of life! We've been posting links and pictures of our families and getting to know each other and it's been a really comfortable atmosphere so far. It sets the stage to really enjoy learning.

I've also really enjoyed this apparent connection between knitting and library studies. I know a couple of knitting librarians in real life (hi, Ravelers!) and I've met at least three more this week through the SJSU program! I've even joined a librarian knitting group on Ravelry. Do a love of books and yarn go hand in hand? Is it a love of learning? I don't know, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.

One thing I've discovered about the program so far is that I will apparently become more technologically proficient, so I'd better get over the fear of crashing my computer I constantly live with. One of my next assignments is to update my Word program with an update that will allow me to access documents with a .docx extension, so this weekend I'm going to suck it up and download the update. Pray for me. After that, I've got to install my Webcam - I need it for a seminar on the 15th - so this should be quite amusing to watch. I'll report back on it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

See? I Learned Something Already...

Wordle: RoeSpot

I have a Cloud! I found out about Wordle.Net while reading for school today, so I wandered on over, submitted my URL, and made my own little Cloud. How cool is that?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

School Daze!

Well, it's finally arrived! Today is my first day of school at San Jose State University's online MLIS program. I've been checking out the syllabus and getting to know my fellow classmates and peer mentor via the bulletin board, and I have to say, I love it already. There's just something about being in school that agrees with me. It makes an otherwise dreary day pretty cool.

So I finally finished all of my holiday knitting - and promptly neglected to take pictures of any of it. Gah! But it's done, and the recipients all seemed happy with their goodies. Mike's grandmother and great-aunts loved their socks, and the kidlings gifties were happily received by the parents. So did I take a 6-month knitting hiatus like I swore I'd do? Nope. Cast on a pair of Nutkin socks with some of my bamboo yarn. The heel is driving me a bit insane, but otherwise, these are beautiful and I can't wait to get them on my tootsies.

I haven't been spinning since my first few sorry attempts, but I'm hoping to get together with my PretPlurk knitters soon to remedy that. I haven't been on Plurk in so long, my karma is probably zippo. I'll deal.

Just a quick update for now, but more to come, I'm sure...