Friday, July 21, 2017

The Friday Find: Caddy

Yesterday was my birthday and I indulged myself with a home spa day. There was an assortment of facial products, hair products, and a fluffy white bathrobe. There was also a long, hot bath with a bath bomb. The only thing that was missing was a bathtub caddy to take my luxuriating to another level.

You can find this at Pottery Barn.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Links and Stuff: July 20, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why I Love... Letting Go

Today, I completed my biannual weeding of the things in our apartment. This included another pass of my books. I let go of four more today. That was on top of the random pass I did last week where I let go of ten. Our bookshelves are now looking rather empty.

But that's okay.

These books went to the community bookcase in our building's laundry room. I've noticed that many of the titles have already been scooped up by our neighbors. These books, almost all of them unread, had no more meaning to me - they've have gone to someone else who found them to be of interest.

That is why I love letting go.

These books will live on for someone else. They will give joy to someone else. They will inform or entertain or provoke feelings in someone else. They no longer did that for me. I want to read other books. I want to get those feelings from other titles and other stories.

Letting go does not mean trashing something. Letting go means living on.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 16, 2017

This is the first weekend of my staycation. Huzzah! I plan on spending most of my time cleaning, getting stuff done around the apartment, and generally knocking things off my personal to do list, but I have some fun stuff planned. The Husband and I played some rousing Mario Kart at Lady B and her SO's apartment last night. I am not a good driver, but I can eat tasty pizza with the best of them! It was like we were back in high school.

DC also muddled through it's first solid heat-wave of the summer. Every year I forget how melty it can get here. I actually found myself craving icy lemonade. Even now it sounds tasty. Drinking lemonade while reading in a swinging hammock in the shade sounds like a most excellent way to spend the day.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, July/August 2017 - Well this was a scarily prescient issue. The cover story (by my favorite non-fiction author Mark Bowden) was all about our options to deal with a nuclear North Korea. It was scary to read this right after the North Koreans tested an ICBM. Scary... but important. This was a great article laying out all the tough and complex decisions surrounding this area of geopolitics. In addition to the cover story, I really liked the two medical feature stories. The first was about using smartphone and app technology to help diagnose and treat mental illness. The second was about the quest to find new bacteria to counter the threat of antibiotic Resistance. The usual supporting articles in this issue were good, but none of them were outstanding must-reads.
  • Books
    • I finished reading The Little Book of Hygge. It was just as delightful as I hoped it would be. I love how it basically says my homebodiness is a good thing.
    • The book I'm reading now is Before The Fall by Noah Hawley. It's a mystery/thriller which is not my usual genre, but I've read some rave reviews. So far, I'm very intrigued by both the story and the writing style.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Friday Find: From The Library Of

At work this week, I can across a small trove of books that had book plates inside the front cover. I don't put bookplates in my books because I usually don't hang on to them once I finish reading them, but if I did, I would use these lovely peacock versions.

You can find this in the SunshineandRavioli2 Etsy store.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book 15: Digital Preservation

TITLE: Digital Preservation
AUTHOR: Marilyn Deegan and Simon Tanner, eds.
STARTED: April 4, 2017
FINISHED: July 6, 2017
PAGES: 260
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the introduction] This third volume in the Digital Futures series has been some time in gestation, and is intended as a contribution to the urgent debate about issues around the preservation of culture in digital form.

SUMMARY: [From ALA Editions] The rise of the Internet and the rapid expansion of electronic information present new challenges for librarians who must acquire, store, organize, preserve, and disseminate this information to their users. How can you locate the electronic resources most relevant to the needs of your users, integrate those resources into the infrastructure of your institutions, manage the necessary technology, and anticipate future trends? Deegan and Tanner suggest both the “why” and the “how” in this meticulous and completely practical examination of the strategic issues we face in a digital future. Chapters like: “Digital Futures in Current Contexts”; “Why Digitize?”; “Developing Collections in the Digital World”; “Economic Implications of Digital Collections”; “Resource Recovery”; “Structures and Services: Mechanisms for End-User Access”; “Digital Preservation”; “The Changing Profession of Librarianship”; and “Digital Futures” encapsulate the themes, concepts, and critical issues facing every librarian.

THOUGHTS: I grabbed this book because I am now on our consortium's digital preservation task force. While the book offered a nice summary of the issues and possibilities around digital preservation, it was published in 2006. Many of the examples are out of date and major strides have been made in the area since then. Even with that, it's still a good summary of the concepts and needs of the subject.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book 14: This Place Has No Atmosphere

TITLE: This Place Has No Atmosphere
AUTHOR: Paula Danziger
STARTED: June 27, 2017
FINISHED: July 3, 2017
PAGES: 207
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: "I think he likes you," Juan whispers, as Matthew sits down at the other end of the table and smiles at me.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In the year 2057 people live in malls, take classes in ESP, and get detention from robots. Fifteen-year-old Aurora loves everything about her life. She’s part of the coolest group of kids at school and has just started dating the best-looking guy in her grade. Then her parents make the announcement that she’s sure will ruin her life—the family’s moving to the moon! What with water rationing, no privacy, and freeze-dried ham­burgers, how will Aurora ever feel like she’s home again?

THOUGHTS: When I was in elementary school, I read this book at least 14 times. Something about it spoke to me and I decided I needed to reread it for the nostalgia factor.

As a way to relive my childhood, this book was awesome. It brought me back to all the days I spent reading nestled in my bed or on a patio chair. It reminded me of how excited I was about traveling to the moon as a teenager. It reminded me that this book felt new, fresh, and full of adventure. The nostalgia of my reread put a HUGE smile on my face for days.

As for the book itself, as an adult, the magic is not the same. Aurora feels selfish and juvenile. She insults and judges people for inane reasons. She is downright mean in many instances. The plot is also oddly paced giving a lot of time to earth and not to the moon. The secondary characters also fall a bit flat. I was disappointed that my adult side sees less good in this book, but that's what happens when you grow up. At least the idea of the story still feels innovative. I've not come across another YA book like this.

That said, I still this book because it reminds me of my younger days when I could read and read and read without any other care in the world.

RATING: For the Nostalgia - 8/10 [Terrific]; For the Book - 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, July 09, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 9, 2017

Holidays that arrive mid-week always throw my mental schedule out of whack. Tuesday felt like a Saturday. Wednesday felt like a Monday. Thursday felt like a Friday. Weirdness. On the Fourth, The Husband and I got to enjoy DC's fireworks on the rooftop of one of friend's buildings. The rain managed to miss us so we had a blast grilling and seeing the sparkles. I know they're illegal, but I love how people all over DC set off fireworks. It's a 360 show!
  • Work
    • I was able to get back to reading Digital Preservation.... and I finished it! That is a good thing because, now that we are done moving our campus libraries, digital preservation and digitization are the new main focus of my job.
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, July/August 2017 - For the first time in a long time, I did not save one recipe from this magazine. This issue had plenty of BBQ and picnic foods, which I love, but most of them are grill based. Since we no longer have a grill, I skimmed right through them. The foil packet dinners were intriguing but, again, grill based. 
    • Washingtonian, July 2017 - When I sat down to read this issue earlier this week, I didn't think I'd end up finishing it in one sitting. Normally it takes me a few days to get through each issue. I have a feeling my speed was due to the bulk of this issue being about food. The cheap eats cover story gave
      me a great list of new places to try. I also liked the story about the guy behind the Instagram account DCFoodPorn. I've followed that account for a few months so it was cool to get the behind the scenes story. In non-food news, the article about moving the Capital out of DC was intriguing... and a little scary since I live here. The one downside to this issue was the HUGE ad section featuring Best Of relators, doctors, etc. I always flip past those.
  • Books
    • I finished off This Place Has No Atmosphere early in the week. It's a very nostalgic book for me to read (I loved it as a kid), but I can see now that the book itself is not the best. I'll have a full review up soon.
    • I started reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets of Happy Living by Meik Wiking. So far it's a slightly denser version of The Live Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The books have the same sort of structure. They even feel the same in the hand. I'm almost halfway done already and I can't wait to add more hygge to my daily life.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Friday Find: Shh

Zits is one of my favorite parts of the Sunday comics. I love the whole strip but I adore it when they involve books and reading in the story. This particular strip might be one of my favorites of all time.

You can read more Zits here.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Why I Love... Finishing Books Unexpectedly

It doesn't happen often, but I love it when I sit down to read a book and it turns out I only had five or so pages left to read.

Many books these days seem to have a lot of extra pages after the end of the main text. These pages are either appendices, bibliographies, author interviews, or previews of other books. When you don't know those features are there, it can appear like there is a lot more story left to read.

So, I love it when those pages throw off my mental timing. It means I'm not "reading" ahead trying to figure out what is next for the characters in a book. When I'm in to a story, my mind can wander about to try to think of where the plot is heading. The longer the book, the more like I am to come up with plot trajectories in my head. It can be distracting. Books ending sooner than planned stops that mind wandering.

It also means the unexpected endings gives me a rare moment to pause and think, "Hmmm? What am I in the mood for now." I often plan on what I'm reading next when I know a book is ending. When I don't get the chance to do that, my mind runs wile with possibilities. Abrupt endings give my brain a break and allow for transition time from one book to the next.

These moments are rare, but it means I love it even more when they happen.

Monday, July 03, 2017

In the News: Above and Beyond

Last week, I read a CNN story about a young librarian who has saved six people from drug overdoses. I can guarantee you that this woman did not get her master's degree to do this. She did not learn in school how to save dying people with Narcan. She did not know that her job would entail checking bathrooms to make sure no one was shooting up. She did not know that people would look to her to save people slumped over and turning blue on benches outside of her library building. She did not get the training needed to handle emotional aftermath.

She, like thousands of other librarians, never expected to or were trained to handle these situations... but they do it anyway.

So often librarians are seen as shushers and book pushers. Instead, they are often social workers, counselors, and medics. Libraries and librarians are pillars of their community and people look to us to fulfill needs as they arise. Libraries are open to everyone from the soccer mom and small business owner to the homeless who come in every day seeking access to social services and a safe place to spend their day. Libraries are central hubs of activity because they allow access for all to books, magazines, the internet, and tools to help people grow.

Libraries seek to help people find what they need and, because of that, librarians often go above and beyond their written job duties to fulfill those requests. This includes reviving overdosed drug users, handling vocal and physical disputes among their users, and acting as counselors to children and teens who are dropped off my parents heading to work. As community budgets are cut, libraries often remain the last bastion of service. Librarians end up connecting their users with government services like TANF and SNAP. They serve as social workers and connect those with mental illness to services that can with counseling and treatment. They connect the homeless to groups that can provide temporary or permanent shelter. And, despite policies saying otherwise, they end up being daycare services for children who have no place else to go.

The interactions can be highly emotional and most librarians come to these situations untrained in these areas. Some patrons can become agitated and abusive. I don't know of a single librarian who has not been yelled at by a patron. You're there to help and when you can't, no matter how are you try, the responses you get can be upsetting. Some patrons accept your answer and go away, head hanging. Others yell and scream at you in their frustration. Some people become violent. And, at the end of the day, when you go home, their emotions can stay with you.

But there are high points as well. Some children spend all day in the library because that is their only option. These kids have a world of information at their fingers and many show their appreciation through smiles, thank you notes, and small presents. They read piles of books and participate in story-time or craft classes. They take coding sessions offered in the computer lab or build robots in the Makerspace. And, they leave the day smiling and waving goodbye.

Recent immigrants can use the library to find ESL classes or other programs to help them learn about American culture. I shadowed a reference desk once where a recent immigrant from Africa asked how she should could become a licensed mid-wife. She had delivered babies in her home country of Ghana and wanted to continue her work in her new home. The librarian I was shadowing was able to connect her to a program run through a local medical school. She left the desk with a stack of information beaming at the prospect that she could find her future here.

These positive interactions are what the majority of people think about. They don't think about librarians having to clean up bodily fluids in the bathroom or stacks. They don't think about the homeless trying to hide in a back room so they can spend the night indoors. They don't think about all the manner of things that find their way in to the book drops (dirty needles, trash, and weapons among included).  They don't think about librarians comforting sobbing college students during finals week. They don't think about librarians providing a safe space and information for the gay middle school student from a conservative household.

Everyone in the community can use the library. That means librarians encounter all the kinds of people that live in that community. The good and the bad. The well-off and the needy.

As a librarian, you help the person in front of you. You help every individual with the information and service they require no matter who they are. It just so happens that when the economy takes a downturn and community needs are great, those needs can be heartbreaking.

But librarians don't turn people away. They help in whatever way they can.

They go above and beyond.

Book 13: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

TITLE: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
AUTHOR: Robert Louis Stevenson
STARTED: June 12, 2017
FINISHED: June 26, 2017
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable.

SUMMARY: [From BN] When Edward Hyde tramples an innocent girl, two bystanders catch the fellow and force him to pay reparations to the girl's family. A respected lawyer, Utterson, hears this story and begins to unravel the seemingly manic behavior of his best friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and his connection with Hyde. Utterson probes into both Jekyll and his unlikely protégé, increasingly unnerved at each new revelation. In a forerunner of psychological dramas to come, Robert Louis Stevenson uses Hyde to show that we are both repulsed and attracted to the darker side of life, particularly when we can experience it in anonymity.

THOUGHTS: For some reason, I thought this novella would involve a lot more violence, mayhem, and murder. Popular culture has given me the impression that this book was way more dramatic than it turned out to be. Once I got over how the images in my head did not meat the actual plot, I was able to get into this story. This story is more eerie and tense than it is violent. I liked that. The personality split and mystery were at the forefront of the writing. There is a lot of philosophy and dense imagery in this book which is fine, but it does leave me surprised that this story is generally shelved in the Young Adult section of the library.

All-in-all this is a good book that popular culture has, unfortunately, turned in to an necessarily violent story. RLS work is far more thought-provoking and deserves better.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, July 02, 2017

What I Read This Week: July 2, 2017

Hoorah! We finished relocating our last branch library earlier this week. I celebrated by having a beer and sleeping the deepest sleep of the year. We still have clean-up work to do, but the hardest part is over. All the material is in the building! *dances*

In other news, I tried something new this week. I slipped $10 Starbucks gift cards into envelopes with notes and left them in various public locations. I called them #luckydayenvelopes and I hope that the unexpected gifts brings a smile to someone's face. I have no idea who found them or what they thought, but I just wanted to do a nice little gesture for someone.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, June 2017 - This is the annual Best of Issue. I like this one better than the past issues because it highlighted things that were outside the usual for me. I now have a short list of things I want to try and places I want to eat. In addition to the round-up, I liked the article on one woman's late term abortion. I know the subject is touchy, but it's an important piece because it details a personal experience without judging the other side. Finally, the story about the Breitbart reporter was rather interesting. I thought the subject's drive was impressive, but it does a better job of showing why we need strong reporting and even strong information literacy skills.
    • Real Simple, July 2017 - I am determined to stay on top my
      magazine reading now so I read this issue the same weekend it came in. (Go me!) This was one of the blahest Real Simple issues I've read this year, but I did love the article on how to have a family of readers through the summer. The productivity and summer vacation tips weren't too bad either. But that was about it.
  • Books
    • I finished the last pages of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Monday. I always had this mental image of the story (thanks popular culture) but the book is quite different from what I thought it would be.
    • Ah, nostalgia. This week, I picked up a childhood favorite, This Place Has No Atmosphere, and I've been transported back to my elementary school self. I LOVED this book as a kid and, so far, my reread has reminded me of why. 
  • Other