Friday, February 29, 2008

Thoughts for the Day

Yesterday, I was reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss on the train home. I missed a few stops and had to go back to get off where I needed to go. Now, that I have finished about half of the book, I found it very engrossing. It has the ability to draw you in, creating depth as you read more. The writing very much engages the reader. It is "gripping."

Today has been slow unlike most other days. I will think of more as the day goes on.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

I saw an interesting thing that looks like it would go with an anime type program. Apparently, there are blogs which specialize in papercrafts. Many of them have anime style papercrafts which look quite interesting.

We have a change in our reference structure. Now, I am supposed to be doing floating reference. This means half of my time doing reference will be going out to look for people to help. This is not so bad for me, because I am fairly personable and often spend time looking at different sections of the collection. I also recognize many of the patrons from the library as regular patrons.

No new books came in from reserves. This is kind of frustrating in a way. I like to have several different books to look at at once. I keep them on a corner of my desk in a pile. I also have a few videos put aside for programs as well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Evening Thoughts

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss has been rather slow but steady. It really doesn't get interesting until after the first 40 pages. Following the fifty page rule works here. Read the first 50 pages then put it down if you don't like it. I think this book will take me close to five days to read.

I am being asked to do more programming for films. I am being asked to choose three oscar films. I am thinking about Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable, In the Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Film programs are actually fairly easy to do.

If you run an anime club by the way, our young adult programming specialist joined Funimation Operation Anime. Basically, if you join, you get a free dvd every month which can be screened at your library, school, or wherever your club is. I would have liked to see the dvd, they are watching it right now. ADV films also runs a similar program called Anime Advocates , however when we applied for their program, they did not respond. I like cartoons and animation.

I am also being asked to do an open microphone for poetry. I have no idea of what I am exactly doing with this. I am probably going to have to read up on how to do this. We have the room, the microphone stand, tables, chairs, and enough seating for 48 people. I'll put together a sign up sheet. I designed a flier for the library and wrote a press release for the community relations person. During the last six months I have been writing press releases and going grocery shopping. This is the first time I have been grocery shopping for the library.

Basically, I am being asked to step outside my normal routine of selecting books and doing reference to add adult programming. I have no training in this at all. It has been both interesting and frustrating at times. It has been a learn as you go experience. My world has been kind of turned upside down. One day, I was sitting at my desk, then we got a request to do a jazz program. My boss said you do it, you can do this and suddenly I was arranging to have a Brazilian jazz musician show up at the library. Then, it kind of followed from there.

I tried some programming that was one shot like SCORE-- Service Corps of Retired Executives. You ask them to show up on ex date and they have a list of prepared workshops you can do, ten of them. You say, I want you to do the workshop on sales planning, we will provide refreshments, press releases, and outreach. SCORE is free. I already arranged a free two session business planning workshop for April.

The problem with this kind of thing is that you have to constantly arrange for new things. When you have no money for programming, except for incidentals, it is kind of hard. I am trying to find programs that will run themselves for adults. We tried a knitting club and a chess club, but these didn't work out. No one showed up. I am trying to find things like an open mike, a film program, and visiting agencies or clubs where they will show up and you don't have to do much.

Every day, I come in to work and think, how can I find some kind of workshop or training so I can visit somewhere else for a while. I just paid $90 for a Google and Libraries Workshop
They gave me a day to go there on March 10. I also got to go to the New York Comic Con on April 18, 2008 on library time with a free professional pass.
It is as good as any for an excuse to wander around and look at comic books.

I am thinking about what I am doing with my blog. I have been a bit unsteady lately. I think I am going to focus on using it to improve my writing and motivate myself to try out new things in librarianship, publishing, and books. I will still review books regularly.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sergio Aragones at Wondercon 2008

The man himself.

High Noon, Commerce and This Site

Today, one book came in for me. It is a tome of a fantasy book by Patrick Rothfuss, Name of the Wind. I think it is by a new author. It is 653 pages long. It looks like the classic fantasy serial. Maybe it is like the Wheel of Time series or the Malazan Book of the Fallen, very long, convoluted, and complex.

I took a few minutes to look around in the periodicals room. I signed out some Mad magazines from desk to look at. One of my favorite cartoonists is Sergio Aragones, who does cartoons without words in mad magazine. I really enjoyed his work on Groo the Wanderer, a fantasy comic book about a barbarian hero who is a complete and total idiot. I find his work to be quite funny.

We are getting Wizard also for the library as part of our young adult periodicals. It should be put out for the public in a week or so to use.

I don't read a whole lot of magazines. I find most magazine articles to be too short for my taste. There is not a whole lot of substance to most magazines. I might glance through Popular Science of Popular Mechanics. I much prefer websites and blogs over magazines for light reading.

For serious searching for articles, online magazine databases are almost always superior to print magazines. I usually search Proquest or Ebsco for most patron requests for articles. A separate magazine department is becoming more and more antiquated. It is like relying on phone books for phone numbers. and other sites are superior to most phone books.

I put a book on reserve after reading Kirkus Reviews by Mo Yan, Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out.

There is another title which looks very interesting. It is one of those nearly perfect titles. How To Rule The World: The Coming Battle Over The Global Economy by Mark Engler. It is a leftist diatribe about globalism, but it sounds like it could be a supervillains plan for world domination, or a secret plan for control of the economy be a cabal of business and political leaders. I am rather disappointed that they did not have it at the library yet.


After a while, I have figured out that this is basically not a commercial site in any way. I have earned in 3 months, two dollars and forty cents from adsense, about 56 cents from Project Wonderful, and 48 cents from Amazon. Considering the amount of hours I have put in, this is not a commercial success. I sold two books from Amazon, How To Start Your Own Blogging Business, and The Elements of Style Illustrated.

I think I will let the Adsense go. It is not worth 80 cents a month for traffic. I will leave Project Wonderful and keep the Amazon inserts.

Now, I am blogging for pleasure and to keep track of what I am reading. I should relax a a bit and enjoy what I am doing.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Evening Thoughts

I really didn't get a chance to read much today. Today was another busy day. I thought I would have a chance to look at the magazine section for a few minutes, but things caught up with me quickly. I'll probably take a few minutes to look at the periodicals section tomorrow.

I ordered a thousand dollars worth of Job Information Center books, mostly career oriented books, Opportunities In Nursing, Opportunities in Carpentry, and similar titles. I also ordered a variety of start your own business, business planning, and franchise type books. Franchise books are in demand. 80% of franchises succeed unlike most new businesses.

I spent a bunch of time putting in looseleafs for the law collection in addition to my usual three hours a day of helping people at the reference desk. I also checked the email reference for questions by email. There were a few questions yesterday, but not today. It was quite busy. They are also checking over everything which we are ordering lately and having us sign off on our orders. Every last cent is being checked.

On the way home on the train, I took a look at Stardust. There is a free coupon in the back of the paperback for a smll popcorn if you went to see the film in a theater. This is the first time I have seen a publisher do this. I am number 119 on the waiting list for Stardust, the film.

I am planning on showing another film, Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart. Everyone recognizes the line "Play It Again Sam." I am also thinking of which three oscar films would be interesting to show in a public library. I haven't decided yet.

I have ten books on reserve at work and none of them came in to read today. It is a slight disappointment. Something will come in tomorrow.

It is hard to get yourself going so you can write something every single day. Sometimes, you just have to start writing. I didn't know what to expect today.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In Defense of Food An Eaters Manifesto-- Michael Pollan-- Review, Future of Food

A Bioshelter (Ecological Solar Greenhouse) At Three Sisters Farm

In Defense of Food An Eaters Manifesto by Michael Pollan is a book which challenges many of the ideas of modern nutrition. Michael Pollan writes about a different way to look at food, one which is more local, and more focused on eating fresh plants; fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Food additives, even vitamins are looked on as suspect in Michael Pollan's view. The idea that you can simply add a vitamin and it will make a food better for you is challenged. Whole foods are easier to digest than vitamins.

Processed foods like white flour, corn sweeteners, and margarine are viewed as a kind of false promise. They do not deliver any health benefits and everything that is good for you has been removed from them. The reason people eat them is that they taste better and are easier to store over long periods. They bring diseases, obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. According to Michael Pollan these are western dietary problems.

He points out that not everyones diet is universally the same. What is universal in healthy populations is that people eat locally produced fresh food whether it be meat, vegetables, milk, or sea food. Most people are not designed to eat a western diet. I certainly am not. I do not do well with milk, corn, pork, or fish. Many things like cheeseburgers and milkshakes don't make me feel that well.

The author even sees some problems with organic produce. Organic food often is shipped from California and China is not that fresh. I personally find the substitute foods in many organic markets just as disturbing as pumping things full of additives. Things like sesame butter, gluten hot dogs, tofu ice cream, carob and similar fair don't seem that healthy to me. There are also a proliferation of unhealthy health food fad diets which come out of organic markets.

In Michael Pollan's view the best diet comes from your local farmers market and your CSA-- community supported agriculture initiatives. You should eat locally from local grown produce. He suggests that you grow a garden or get involved in gardening to produce your own food. This is the healthiest food you can produce in his view. Try and find grain fed beef and chicken if you must eat dairy and meat.

The author further creates a philosophy of eating where one eats slowly with company, avoids eating fast food, sticks to three meals a day, doesn't eat from convenience stores and gas stations, and eats a variety of different fruits and vegetables in season.

This book is very much a book on how and why to eat locally. It is not just an organic book, it is a book about the philosophy and history of eating. If you like reading about food this book is quite interesting.

The thing missing from this book are photographs and diagrams. There are none. There are only two pages of information on Pp. 229-230 for resources on eathing slow and local food. This could have been more extensive.

This book is on the New York Times Bestseller list. I think it represents a shift in philosophy which is occurring in the background for many Americans. There really has been a greater focus on the idea of community involvement, energy independence, and self-reliance which has been shifting into the mainstream.


I think the future of food is heading towards a disaster where there will simply be not enough land to grow food in an ecological sustainable way. We will end up with things like this. Giant vertical buildings filled with produce. To me this is somewhat of a nightmare. But, it is something which they are really considering doing. It is kind of funny, there was even a fake article put out claiming that Las Vegas was going to build a vertical farm in 2010. It really is not very likely.

I think the original concept came out of the work of John Todd with his bioshelter farm concept. There are a number of bioshelter farms already in place. A bioshelter is a kind of solar greenhouse built on ecological principals. I think the vertical farm concept is taking a bioshelter and moving it from horizontal to vertical.

Morning Thoughts

Hello, I goofed off this morning and played a computer game. No reading. I actually beta-tested one of their games earlier Geneforge 4. Everyone thinks, wow how fun you beta-tested a video game. It actually is pretty fun most of the time. Sometimes it can be a bit tiring, after doing the same maze four times and commenting that green walls would look better than brown walls and that your sword looks like a toothpick it can get a bit tiring.

It means repeatedly going over things to check if they work for a free copy of a game. I figure this time, I will just buy a copy of the game. It certainly is a lot faster. 20 hours of playing instead of 60 hours of playing. Anyways, it was a chance to relax.

I am going to read my book at the laundromat during the wash and dry cycles. I usually read it sitting in a plastic chair in the corner far away from the women with her two children that are trying to run out the door onto the street.

It sometimes happens. It was too distracting at the laundromat. They had the television on. Someone was watching Bullet Proof Monk full blast on television. There was an Italian couple arguing in the laundromat. The seats were all taken. A muslim lady in a full veil was sitting in the corner watching the washing machines.

I ended up going for a walk for a while and finishing my laundry late.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Shadow - Old time radio!

An old time radio play of the Shadow. A little creepy and scary but a lot of fun.

Morning Thoughts, Grammar

I am looking at a paperback copy of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. I just checked it out. There are ten movie stills in the center of the book. The book also has a movie cover picture on it. People who collect paperbacks would love this book. Some people just collect paperbacks for the pictures inside them and the covers. They don't seem to even want to read the books. It is very odd. I tracked down the last New York City Paperback and Pulp Expo in 2007.

There are various types of people that seem to love paperbacks. Some love the old style lurid book covers. The Hard Case Crime series of paperback are very interesting. The covers are a revitalization of the Gold Key style cover. Mickey Spillane would have loved these books. They are very well done. I have even read a few of them.

I happen to like the shadow a lot. The best way to experience the Shadow is not as a pulp or a comic book, but on the radio. However, I did very much like the Michael Kaluta comic artist version of the shadow a lot. The shadow is the best of the old style heroes in my opinion. I could never get into Doc Savage, or the Spider Master of Men. The old pulp covers are beautiful to look at.


I took some time and looked through various bestseller lists. I put In Defense of Food: An Eater's Dilemma by Michael Pollan on hold. I found it shortly after in the new books section. I will be reading In Defense of Food on the train on the way home. His previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemmma was supposed to be quite good. Two other books I put on hold are Name of the Wind by Pat Ruthfuss and The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman. The Accidental Time Machine is a Nebula awards finalist.


I have been thinking about grammar recently. I want to read something entertaining about grammar and usage. I know it sounds like trying to find an interesting book on ball bearings or hand soap. The only entertaining book on usage that I know of is A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by H.W. Fowler. I know of no other complete guide to english grammar which is both light and entertaining. Preferably, a book which would complement The Elements of Style or On Writing Well. Does anyone have a suggested title?

The Wood Wife -- Terri Windling-- Review

I finished reading The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. This book is exceptionally well edited and designed. Terri Windling has won five world fantasy awards, has edited the anthology, The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for years, and is possibly one of the best contemporary editors of fantasy writing. The three editors I most recognize are Terri Windling, Ellen Datlow, and Martin H. Greenberg for fantasy. Recently George R.R. Martin is on the rise as well.

The book is exceptionally well designed. I am not sure of the typeface, but I rather like the pagination, the high bond acid free paper, and the book cover. According to the author the book was originally to be a series of novellas to be published with the artist Brian Froud's fantasy art.

I am not going to go over the story, but rather certain points about style and design which are interesting. Terri Windling includes some excerpts from very high quality poets. She includes a few poems by Pablo Neruda, excerpts from "Ars Poetica" by Jorge Luis Borges, as well as the poem "Evening" by Rainier Maria Rilke. This adds to the quality of the poetry and images in the book.

In addition she brings in real life paintings as part of the descriptions. Frida Kahlo and other Mexican surrealist painters are described.

The opening quote by Goethe, "Who Wants to Understand the Poem Must Travel to the Land of Poetry." This very much goes to the essence of the book. Poetry, art, and music draw out archetypes and magic in the setting of the Southwestern Desert of Arizona. The archetypes drawn out are a seemless fusion of Scottish and Native American mythology. Coyote the trickster changes into many different forms for example; coyote, crow, and reinard the fox. Spine woman kisses Maggie Black's eyes and gives her site. The white stag runs in the foothills of Arizona. The wild hunt runs through the hills as packs of coyotes howl at the moon.

In addition to regular text, there are poems, quotes, and letters. One of my favorite letters is a made up letter between Davis Cooper who is made up and Henry Miller. There are numerous letters which go back and forth throughout the story giving a unique flavor to the book.

This book is a fantasy set in the modern context. It occurs in a poets house who has died, Davis Cooper. He has bequeathed the house to another poet, a Maggie Black. The house is at the edge of the wilderness in Arizona. A variety of interesting characters surround the house, a Mexican painter and his wife in a cabin, a Hopi car mechanic, and a retired forester. The setting seems to be very much a borderland between the wilderness of the other (fairyland and native lands) where magic occurs and the modern world is a few hours away by jeep.

I really enjoyed reading this book because of the quality of the writing. If you are looking for a very well written modern fantasy with literary qualities, this book is for you. This book was one of the Mythopoeic award winners.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thoughts for the Day

I am reading The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. I rather like the design of the book. It is printed on acid free paper. I wish they wrote down the bond of the paper and the typeface. I very much like the cover design.

I checked back at Spiderweb Software where I had originally started the thread, What Have You Been Reading Lately? For a while there were no posts. The total post count at end was 667 posts. This blog was partially related to that thread.

They have a new thread on What Have You Been Reading Recently? I am revealing my fanboyish tendencies. I rather like computer games sometimes, especially independent computer games. It brings out a childish side to me. Everyone has got a little bit of one somewhere.

I actually regularly check up on what new independent computer gamres are coming out, I don't much care for most of the larger commercial game outfits, they tend to be too violent, not requre much thinking, and are full of an excessive amount of stereotypes.

It is snowing outside and cold. There is a lot of slush on the roads. Tonight, there should be freezing rains turning the roads into smooth black strips of ice.

The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook-- Greg Pahl-- Review

The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook Community Solutions to A Global Crisis by Greg Pahl is a primer on renewable energy at the community and household level. It focuses on the idea of CSE-- Community Supported Energy. The author compares this to CSA-- community supported agriculture.

The book describes solar power (solar hot water and photovoltaic), water power (micro, small, medium, and large hydro, hydrokinetic, wave power, and tidal power), wind power, biomass (pellets, syngas, wood, cofiring), liquid biofuels (bioidiesel, ethanol, and SVO-- straight vegetable oil), and geothermal energy. Examples are given for both houses, district plants, and community efforts.

Greg Pahl gives two personal examples of renewable fuel use in his home. He has a pellet burning biomass heater, and a solar hot water heater in his house. At one point he also lived off the grid with a wind turbine as well. He is clearly interested in describing straightforward real life examples of renewable energy use. Some of these are a micro-hydro system for individual houses on P.126, and a wood gas powered truck on P.174.

The majority of examples are real in use systems. Some of them, I thought were quite interesting. There was a municipal wastewater hydropower installation and a downtown central geothermal heating installation for several buildings in a city.

A few renewable energy use examples are for communities. He describes a solar powered central hot water heating system for a cluster of houses. Greg Pahl describes how a biofuel cooperative works, Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsburgh, North Carolina. They produce biodiesel and bio hieating oil.

Greg Pahl suggests some legislative initiatives like net metering and group net metering, as well as the CBED-- Community Based Energy Development legislation in Minnesota. He also describes the basic structure of cooperative ownership for small scale renewable energy projects.

There are lots of black and white illustrations and photographs throughout the book. Many are basic descriptions of how a particular type of renewable energy works. For example on P. 245, there is a picture of how a geothermal heat pump works. Some of the pictures are quite classic; they look like clusters of back to the land types and hippies standing next to renewable energy equipment.

Politically this book is focused on the concept of peak oil. He is very much concentrated on the idea that big government is not going to help you solve your energy needs. He claims that one of the only things to do is create small centers of independent energy use because the future is going to suddenly become much more local. We in the United States are in for some rough times ahead.

The book is well organized and easy to read. On Pp. 301-308, there is a guide to organizations that work with renewable energy. Many of the organizations are community based. It includes addresses, phone numbers, and websites. There are also endnotes, a glossary of renewable energy terms, a bibliography, and an index. This book was written in January 2007, so the information is still fairly current.

If you are interested in how renewable energy works, or want to read about how to create community supported renewable energy projects, this book is for you. This book is not a big fix to save the world book. It will not tell you global solutions. It is also the kind of book which will not be reviewed by the mainstream press.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blog2Print, Thoughts

Armed Forces Radio Services broadcaster Jack Brown interviews Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for broadcast to troops overseas during World War II. This is public domain because it is a defense department photograph.

I posted a question about blog2print on the blog at

What happened to your blog2print function? It has been a little over a day and a half and I am wondering if your server will come back up. I would like to know if I should keep my widget on my blog? It is taking up both space and time. Please explain this.

This morning should be interesting. I am showing the Maltese Falcon today at work. It should be entertaining. I have always liked Humphrey Bogart. A little classic mystery gets the day going right. Right new the popcorn and juice are being bought and the room is being set up by maintenance.

I really enjoyed the film. There is a special aliveness you don't see in many of todays films. Humphrey Bogart is a great actor. The ending line was quite nice. Humphrey Bogart is holding the Maltese Falcon and says the famous lines "This is what dreams are made of."

This morning I learned something interesting, Verizon also publishes the Five Digit National Zipcode Directory. We were billed for phone books without an itemized bill, so I had to go back and call Verizon, which sent the bill. Always ask for fully itemized bills, it ends up saving you money and insures you are getting what you want.

Today has been a bit frustrating. A lot of little details. I put some new looseleaf pages in the law books; New York Code of Rules and Regulations, and Benders Forms for the Civil Practice. This is a slow process, requiring care, patience, and attention to detail. With this kind of thing, I try to do a little bit each day.

There have been a lot of hard details to take care of around work. Things like checking, the email reference and answering questions.

I finished reading The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook Community Solutions to A Global Crisis. I wrote a rough draft for the review on the train home. I feel that I want to wait until morning to write the final review.

While I was looking around the house at books, I found The Wood Wife by Terri Windling. It is one of the Mythopoeic award books which I promised to read. I have read the first few pages. The writing is very literary despite being fantasy.

Neil Gaiman's Stardust came in. It was just the book. I will probably check out the book and wait for the film to come in so I can read the book than see the film immediately after.

I didn't have a whole lot of time to play with entrecard today. I was simply too busy for once.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I picked up Nova Swing by M. John Harrison and The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook by Greg Pahl. I have started reading The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook.

Right now, I am thinking about the workshop on March 10, 2008 for google in libraries. I am also thinking about Library Legislation Day which is on March 11, 2008. I might go visit my state senator and representative to talk about libraries. There is a bus going to Albany, New York the state capital and I am considering getting on it. I think it would be a good experience for me to do this. I have a pretty good idea who I might visit. I am going to ask to go on library time.

I went back over and looked at the location of the legislation event and decided against it. Maybe, I am being elitist, but four other county library systems are part of the group. This does not seem particularly effective to me. I was hoping for a chance to speak with a representative.

There are not even a few minutes to speak to our representative one on one which I would prefer to do. The event listing says we will get to meet with our legislators as a group, attend a rally, hear lectures, and eat a breakfast. After looking at this, I am rather disappointed. A personal letter is more effective than this kind of thing. I am probably more likely to get a response that will be satisfactory this way.

Please write your representatives in support of libraries and local bookstores. Say something positive.

Anyways, this is my morning thought.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ray Harryhausen, Red Riding Hood

I was watching Ray Harryhausen tonight, the collected works of one of the first famous animators. He is best remembered for creating the early animated Sinbad, animating King Kong, and the Clash of the Titans. I watched several fairytales, Kind Midas, Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, and Mother Goose. It was quite wonderful to watch, because it was like watching old fashioned dolls being used as animated creations. The sets were quite entertaining. One of the shorst Red Riding Hood reminded me of the Charles Perrault version of Red Ridinghood. I thought I would take this out of Project Gutenberg for you to read. In this version, the wolf eats Red Rdiding Hood. Sometimes the monster wins.

Charles Perrault, Mother Goose, 1696
Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature that ever was seen. Her mother was very fond of her, and her grandmother loved her still more. This good woman made for her a little red riding-hood, which became the girl so well that everybody called her Little Red Riding-hood.
One day her mother, having made some custards, said to her:—
"Go, my dear, and see how your grandmother does, for I hear she has been very ill; carry her a custard and this little pot of butter."
Little Red Riding-hood set out immediately to go to her grandmother's, who lived in another village.
As she was going through the wood, she met Gaffer Wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up; but he dared not, because of some fagot-makers hard by in the forest. He asked her whither she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and hear a wolf talk, said to him:—
"I am going to see my grandmother, and carry her a custard and a little pot of butter from my mamma."
"Does she live far off?" said the Wolf.
"Oh, yes," answered Little Red Riding-hood; "it is beyond that mill you see there, the first house you come to in the village."
"Well," said the Wolf, "and I'll go and see her, too. I'll go this way, and you go that, and we shall see who will be there first."
The Wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the shortest way, and the little girl went by the longest way, amusing herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and making nosegays of such little flowers as she met with. The Wolf was not long before he reached the old woman's house. He knocked at the door—tap, tap, tap.
"Who's there?" called the grandmother.
"Your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood," replied the Wolf, imitating her voice, "who has brought a custard and a little pot of butter sent to you by mamma."
The good grandmother, who was in bed, because she was somewhat ill, cried out:—
"Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up."
The Wolf pulled the bobbin, and the door opened. He fell upon the good woman and ate her up in no time, for he had not eaten anything for more than three days. He then shut the door, went into the grandmother's bed, and waited for Little Red Riding-hood, who came sometime afterward and knocked at the door—tap, tap, tap.
"Who's there?" called the Wolf.
Little Red Riding-hood, hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but thinking her grandmother had a cold, answered:—
"'Tis your grandchild, Little Red Riding-hood, who has brought you a custard and a little pot of butter sent to you by mamma."
The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice a little:—
"Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up."
Little Red Riding-hood pulled the bobbin, and the door opened.
The Wolf, seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes:—
"Put the custard and the little pot of butter upon the stool, and come and lie down with me."
Little Red Riding-hood undressed herself and went into bed, where she was much surprised to see how her grandmother looked in her night-clothes.
She said to her:—
"Grandmamma, what great arms you have got!"
"That is the better to hug thee, my dear."
"Grandmamma, what great legs you have got!"
That is to run the better, my child."
"Grandmamma, what great ears you have got!"
"That is to hear the better, my child."
"Grandmamma, what great eyes you have got!"
"It is to see the better, my child."
"Grandmamma, what great teeth you have got!"
"That is to eat thee up."
And, saying these words, this wicked Wolf fell upon Little Red Riding-hood, and ate her all up.

Blessed Unrest -- Paul Hawken-- Review

Blessed Unrest How The Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming by Paul Hawken seems messianic at times. The idea that there is a convergence of indigenous, social, and environmental movements into a single worldwide worldchanging movement is a very interesting idea. It does not seem that plausible, but it is interesting. Above all, it is message of hope on how small groups can reach out to save the world.

Paul Hawken describes that there several million small NGOs-- nongovernmental organizations working to bring change. Often they are not even recognized as groups. They come about as spontaneous generation in the face of small issues; everything from organic gardening to pesticides to permaculture to living wages. He even has attempted to create a worldwide database of social and environmental NGOs representing 243 countries and territories. This can be viewed at It is the largest database of its kind.

He begins the book with a history of the environmental movement starting with the environment and social movements focusing on Thoreau and Emerson then moving to Rachel Carson and others. He posits that social and environmental movements could not have started without the movement to abolish slavery in 1787. Human rights and the environment are completely intertwined.

There is a battle between the rights of busines versus the protection of nature and human rights. The current alliance between social, environmental, and indigenous groups is a reaction to globalization. Globalization creates a uniformity of services to everyone in the world and eliminates sovereignty of economic choices in business. It is based on a laissez faire model of capitalism which often ignores child labor, the right to form unions, and other basic human rights.

Everyday, I see the fruits of globalism in my neighborhood. We have a 99 cent store, a Colombian chicken fast food place, and if you take a drive, a giant big box store with cheap products from all over the world. You can hear customer service from India on the phone and see migrants from India, the Philippines, Ireland, Mexico, and Pakistan on the streets of Manhattan. They are providing everything from cheap labor, child care, construction and nursing. They are surrogates much of the time for jobs which many Americans do not want to do.

I agree with Paul Hawken's assessment that globalism brings homogenity; mcdonalds, generic shopping malls, fast food, and an endless stream of cheap products. Part of the reason I react so strongly against it is the loss of humanity and quality it brings. Paul Hawken exalts slow food instead of fast food, fair trade instead of multinationals, green buildings instead of cheap cookie cutter skyscrapers and malls.

It is often as I have said before a battle between quality and quantity. Many countries have realized that universally accepting globalism brings a severe loss in basic quality of life. The benefits we are given from globalism are not the benefits of improved quality of life, a better society, or a better environment. It is the message that more is better. Maybe we have enough and want something better.

When we look at people and call them savages we are reacting with our western history. Americans have this tendency to exalt dead cultures; the Romans are dead so are the ancient Egyptians. Unlike Paul Hawken, I don't hold the past against people. I hold hope for the future that people will respect other cultures. Local people know more about their environments than visitors. It is up to us to make available managed forestry, agroecology, and other sciences for a sustainable future.

Paul Hawken touches on the importance of ethnobotany, ecotourism, and agroecology. However, he does not go far enough. I understand what it means to bring in a specialist to manipulate a culture. For a while I thought I would go into applied anthropology. Then I woke up and saw what it did to people. We must make people valuable in the eyes of the west. The history of the west is a pattern of destroying anyone who we cannot place an immediate value on in the financial sense.

While Paul Hawken focuses on the idea that NGOs will save the world through an immune network of many little organizations focusing on a variety of local issues. I do not agree with him here. I think social entrepreneurship and social business will do more to change the world than non governmental organizations. Pure charity has not worked well in the past to solve many of the worlds ills.

Paul Hawken talks about Muhammad Yunus, the creator of Grameen bank, David Gottfield, founder of the USGBC-- United States Green Building Council, and Daniel Ben-Hurin founderof the Well. I think it is social entrepreneurship, SRI-- social responsible investment, and the willingness for the rich to give back to society that will ultimately matter. It is when I see Bill Gates and Warren Buffett turning over their fortunes to make the world right, that I see hope.

Global warming is creeping into the mainstream. Paul Hawken writes how the christianity is starting to embrace environmentalism. The Economist magazine has done two things which show a change in mentality that is spreading, they have talked about how to combatting global warming and they have created a world wide quality of life index.

Hopefully, quality of life will become a better accepted metric for the well being of a country than GDP-- Gross Domestic Product. It is GDP which people turn to when they see how well a country is doing in the world. This is the metric of the World Bank and the IMF-- International Monetary Fund, it has very little to do with income disparity, pollution, and educational attainment.

This is one of the reasons we see so many people protesting at the WTO-- World Trade Organization meetings. They want the benefits of the products they are selling, whether it be oil, bananas, or t-shirts. I do not agree with Paul Hawken's statement that the WTO protests were not riots. The image of peaceful demonstrations does not move people to want change.

I think this is a fascinating read with an interesting premise. Nongovernmental organizations will bring hope to the world from the bottom up. I do not agree with the assessment, however, I think there is a lot to be learned from this book. This book is quite hopeful. If you are interested in environmental and social issues you will probably want to read this book.

Ending Powells List

I have decided to end my Powell's Affiliate List. After four months nobody bought a single book from the affiliate list. I thought that people would choose from both the affiliate list and the embedded amazon images. It turns out that nobody bought anything from the Powell's list. People have bought a few books from the embedded Amazon images. I am going to keep the Powell's search box in case someone wants to buy anything from there.

It was an interesting experiment. I thought that if I put up a sidebar with an alphabetical list of titles, then wrote about each title with an embedded image it would draw sales from both places. I have learned a bit about how people put together blogs to sell various things.

The thing which seems to work best for me is advertising; adsense and project wonderful (I am up to 44 cents with Project Wonderful halfway to a can of soda.) Maybe if I found something more expensive to advertise I would be better off selling a few items. However, I don't think camera equipment and laptops would match with my blog. I'll think about it some more.

I have to ponder some more on what it means to have a blog site with advertising on it. It does not seem to be that effective of a medium for sales. I may try to sell some book and information related gadgets.

I am off today because I am working this Saturday. I was off yesterday because of Presidents Day. This is the benefit of a government job.

I changed my sitecounter to sitemeter from statcounter. Statcounter starts charging for statistics once your site reaches a certain amount of visitors. I am not into paying for things.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Books Not Reviewed, Morning Thoughts

Good morning. There are a few books which I have read recently that I have not reviewed. The first is The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick. It got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, meaning they really liked it. I enjoyed it a lot as well, but there were a few things in the writing which made me say, this is not for me to review. The main thing which he does that got to me was to do a section on rich fairies. This created the image of Donald Trump in a purple shimmering suit with pointy ears and green skin in my mind. I don't think I could have honestly done the book justice.

Another book which I just read that was very good was Dust by Elizabeth Bear. Once again, I found out that it would be better for others to review this book. There were some odd things in the book which threw me off. For example Elizabeth Bear describes the "New Evolutionary Bible".

Not every book matches with every reviewer. I think sometimes, the wrong writer is chosen to review some books in the popular review sources. I am glad that I have a choice on which books I will review for my site.

I also passed on reading one of Nancy Pearl's choices for books to read, Freedom In Meditation by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D. When I began reading the book, I found it to be quite outdated. It was written in 1977. A lot of has changed in the field of non-religious meditation techniques since the book was written. I think, I may choose another basic meditation book to read that is more current.

Right now, I am reading Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken. It is another environmantal and social justice book. Increasingly, environmentalist books are combining with social justice books. I think it is a trend.

I am thinking about how to improve my site. I should probably work on the page load times. Also, I am thinking about how to learn CSS so I can turn this site into a three column site. It would make the site look a lot more professional. I think blogger does not provide a three column template because it would encourage more commercial sites for their free service. Most commercial blogs are three column to allow for more advertising and break up the pattern of the site. This is my main concern.


A reader suggested that I get rid of some of my widgets to improve load time so I did. Metaxu Lit Cafe although it had a very professional feel to it did very little for the site. I removed the widget.

I found the Bookaholic Blog Ring to be a far better and more interesting site to keep for a blogring. I even look at it sometimes to read the blogs in the ring.

Technorati generated little if any traffic to my site. Although, people like it, it didn't increase the amount of people visiting here.

The five main sources of traffic to this site come from Entrecard, Blogcatalog, Fuelmyblog, Blogger, and Google.

I also decided to work on improving my traffic within my main sources of traffic. I started a Fuelmyblog group on Blogcatalog. Here is the link:

This increases the circular flow of traffic between different sites. I think the more linked together sites in a network are the more traffic you may get from them. I also joined the Entrecard Group on Blogcatalog. Many people use similar sites.

I also removed the Cafepress store from my site. I have not gotten any buyers in three months for mugs or nick nacks. It took up space.

I am finding Project Wonderful advertisements to be kind of interesting. Many of the people who advertise using Entrecard also use Project Wonderful. This helps create a traffic network interlinking sites. The more interlinked the advertising and widgets are, the more traffic I will get, especially if the sites are focused on a specific subject.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Inside Straight A Wild Cards Novel Edited by George R.R. Martin

Inside Straight A Wildcards Novel edited by George R. R. Martin is a bit different than most novels. It is written by a team of authors, Daniel Abraham, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassatt, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, George R. R. Martin, Ian Tregillis, and S.L. Farrell. Each chapter is written by a different author. The novel still holds together well. It is like a hybrid between a short story and a novel. They call it a mosaic novel.

The reason I think this still works is because, the Wildcards series was first started in 1987, so the outline of how the novels are supposed to be written is pretty clear to the writers. There are already seventeen books in the series. That is pretty long if you think about it for a set of superhero novels.

The premise of the superpowers is that in 1946 al alien virus that rewrites peoples dna was released over New York City. 90% of the people died, 9% turned into mutated misshapen creatures some with powers, others with none, and 1% turned into human superpowered archetypes. The world this happens in is called Wildcards. The world is recognizably different than it is today.

The opening chapter begins with a successful assassination attempt against the ruler of the "New Caliphate", by a terrorist of unknown origin. The New Caliphate is a kind of muslim fundamentalist superstate.

Then the novel switches to reality television show in 2008 called American Hero. The producers have recruited superpowered aces for a chance to become the new American Hero. Tryouts are run and 21 superpowered individuals are chosen. Some of the different "Aces" are toadman who looks like a giant toad, stuntman who can be beaten up repeatedly, Jonathan Hive who can turn himself into insects, Earth Witch who can split and reshape the earth, and many others.

They are broken into teams-- diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades. Different challenges are given to them. Save people from a burning building, stop a mock bank robbery, find some hidden statues, and other activities. Whoever doesn't succeed has to eliminate team members.

Jonathan Hive who is blogging about this event gets eliminated early. He ends spying on the producers of the show, eventually becoming involved in an epic struggle between the "Living Gods", ace protectors of the joker community in Egypt and the New Caliphate. The New Caliphate blames the "Living Gods"-- embodiments of the gods of ancient egypt for the assassination of their leader. Some of them include Isis, Sekhmet, Osiris, Ptath and Thoth. Serquet, the scorpion goddess and Taweret, the hippo goddess of fertility were kind of weird to read about.

Jonathan Hive travels to Egypt accompanied by Lohengrin, an invincible ace with a ghost sword, indestructible ghost armor, and a motorcylce. He is a kind of ace crusader. He is essentially the embodiment of western interference in the middle east. There he battles the Egyptian army and the New Caliphate as the jokers of Egypt and the Living Gods flee the New Temple. Jonathan Hive systematically recruits the eliminated aces to join him in Egypt to support the fleeing "Living Gods."

There is an interesting dichotomy between the contest American Heros, and the fight in Egypt. This novel touches on a lot of very interesting issues, racism, sexism, colonialism. I was not sure that I originally wanted to write about it. There are some rather interesting passages in it which will be uncomfortable for some people to read. The characters drink alcohol, argue, fight, and have sex with each other. There is some foul language and interesting sexual situations.

There is of course a hidden evil adversary manipulating the situation in Egypt. As a final piece, the Aces who are in Egypt are recruited to help the United Nations after they defeat the armies of Egypt and the New Caliphate preventing a massacre in the desert.

I am not sure how to describe this book. This is not your typical superhero novel. However, it is well done for the genre. Most superhero novels are considered science fiction. There is a lot that is entertaining about the novel, but also there is some disturbing content. I enjoyed reading it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thoughts for Today

I went to the library today and dropped off a book. I really didn't stay like I usually do. Then I went to my local produce store and bought some watermelon and grapes. It was very nice out, cool and crisp. When I got back I wrote the essay on Deep Economy.

Last night I watched Duck Soup starring Grouch Marx. I have always liked Harpo Marx the most. I especially like his scissors. It is part of our 100 Essential Films collection. It was a nice break from blogs and reading.

I was invited to join a couple days ago. It is a blog forum which reviews and comments on blogs. The title and logo make more sense than most traffic generating sites. Before I could ask for a blog review, I had to make ten comments on the forum. I did this dutifully.

All of the sites have some kind of gimmick you have to do. I'm glad it wasn't to put anything on my site. I requested a review of my site then. On Bloggeries suggestion, I stretched the banner out on top of my blog and changed the color of the words "Book Calendar."

There seem to be a million of these things available now. I was also invited to join Bloggers Showroom but I declined because I had to add a widget to my site. I already have too many widgets on my site. Every so often, I go through and erase widgets.

Every day, I get invited to join something new, the names are all very odd, Spott, Quasia, Squidoo, and various other things. Most of the names are nonsense words. Somehow, these things are supposed to increase my blog traffic. It is already almost too much to keep track of all the different traffic widgets on my site.

Deep Economy-- Bill McKibben-- Review

Deep Economy The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. This book says a tremendous amount about the benefits of making economies smaller in scale. more focused on producing better quality products, and more sustainable. It is a direct challenge to the idea of unlimited growth and development as a model for human needs and happiness.

This book is much more than a book on environmentalism. It posits we have a choice between having more and having better. There simply are no longer the resources for unlimited growth and we need to start figuring out how to make things better, both in terms of quality of life and in terms of producing goods.

One of the central ideas in this book is that at one time increases in production made us happy, but now this is no longer true. Americans have gone from being #1 in quality of life to #13 in quality of life among nations. Hyperindividualism and excess focus on consumption have destroyed many American communities.

Because we are so focused on goods, we let big box stores like Walmart move into our communities and replace the local barbers, markets, and services. For every job that a Walmart creates we lose the equivalent of one and a half jobs. I am glad that I still live in a community where I can go to the local produce store, visit the bike shop, and go to the corner deli.

Bill McKibben posits that it is best for us to consume locally. He talks about how small farmers produce better quality produce and more produce per acre. He focuses on his personal experience of buying all of his food locally as well as the benefits of organically grown food. As part of this he attacks agri-business for feeding Americans huge amounts of corn syrup and wrecking many peoples health.

He also describes how to consume energy in a more local manner. Energy efficiency is the big winner is his mind, fluorescent light bulbs, insulation, double paned windows, and more efficient appliances are all part of his life. He tells you that one of the best ways you can support energy independence is to encourage your local politician to put in bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and improved public transportation. This will make it easier for the average consumer in the United States to have one car instead of two.

This book is a challenge to the notion that globalism in its current form is a good thing. He claims China will get tired of producing the goods for the United States eventually. What China is doing is unsustainable. Also, it cannot be a model for the rest of the world, because China is already taking away manufacturing jobs from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, and India.

Also as the world changes many countries are not willing to go along with the demands of globalization. Globalization is not happening the way the United States envisioned it. We are steadily running into problems with global warming, peak oil, and environmental challenges. Many countries do not want to follow the standard industrialization model where big agribusiness comes in, then the displaced farmers go to work in factories in the cities.

There is a tremendous amount of information in this book. Almost every page talks about an importaint economic or environmental issue. Because the book is focused on what you can do locally, it gives you ideas on how to eat better, get more involved in local politics, be more energy efficient, and have an impact with your decisions on personal consumption.

There are quite a few things which I found odd in this book. There is a decent amount on local public radio stations and local community involvement which I did not get completely. I found in places that the ideas were not complete, and sometimes a bit incoherent.

Some of the examples like urban agriculture in Cuba and the Brazilian public transportation system in Curitibia are a little bit too far off the political left spectrum for me.

If you are interested in environmental lifestyle and philosophy this is a very interesting book. It is also a very personal book. It is not how to solve global warming or end the oil crisis. It is more about how to make a personal impact by being green.

This is a link to a talk by Bill McKibben. Part of the talk was available on Youtube, but the not whole thing. I decided it would be better to include a link to the talk rather than 7 minutes from Youtube.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Playaway Audio Device

I decided to try a playaway audio book which is a new format. It is a preloaded digital audiobook. I checked out Petty Crimes by Gary Soto a few hours ago. The total playtime of the preloaded audiobook is 3 hours and 45 minutes. It consists of ten short stories. I will be able to skip the stories which I don't particularly like.

They have packaged the device in an interesting way. Essentially, they put the device into a larger vhs container about three inches by six inches. There is a padded pounch inside the video container containing the playaway. The playaway requires earphones like an ipod would have. For safety reasons we insist that people use their own earphones. It would be unsanitary for people to put in used earphones. I spent a dollar and got some earbuds so I can listen to the playaway. We are selling the earbuds at cost.

The cost of the playaway is much cheaper than an audiobook. It is about $30-$35 for a playaway that can be used repeatedly by a library. We have some audiobooks that cost as much as $100 each. Most are about $60-70 each.

Because the playaway is a new piece of technology, we still are not certain what the exact problems or issues we will have with them as a library.

It makes me a little nervous listening to something on the train. I said, I wouldn't do this thing normally, but the device is intriguing enough for me to play with.

I checked to see if the playaway worked. The battery had run out. We had to replace the battery for Petty Crimes by Gary Soto. After listening for a few minutes, I decided that I didn't much care for Petty Crimes.

I checked out a different playaway, I am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks with Jim Haskins. Narrated by Patricia Floyd. The story is good, but the playaway makes tiny little skipping noises. This is annoying. The sound is still pretty clear.

I checked again and I realized that I hadn't plugged in the headphones all the way. My mistake. Anyways, this recording was blessedly short. 1/4 of an hour, just about the attention span of your average ten to fourteen year old. This audiobook is written for between 5th and 8th grade listening level. It is also a book which is regularly assigned for children and young teenagers to read. Some people like to listen to their assignments rather than reading them.

There was a brief advertisement from Recorded Books, the publisher of the digital audio recording (playaway) at the end of the reading. It encouraged you to buy audiobooks on their 30 day layaway plan. It was brief much like the audio recording.

The playaways which we have were purchased by our teen librarian. She purchased mostly assignment titles which teenagers could listen to if they wanted to. Books like Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston, or the previously mentioned Petty Crimes by Gary Soto.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Writing Well The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction-- William Zinsser-- Review

On Writing Well The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Sixth Edition, Revised and Updated, c1998 by William Zinsser is a guide to writing nonfiction. I found this book to be quite interesting. It is one of the first books that I have ever read that specifically focuses just on nonfiction writing. Almost every previous work I read on writing was focused on creative writing or poetry.

Much of the book is how to find your unique voice and not write like other people. He encourages people to develop an individual style different from other writers. The book reminds the reader that writing is more than about making money. It is about personal satisfaction. Zinsser describes how his mother would clip articles from newspapers for him to read that were examples of good writing.

For Zinsser that are two main focuses for the nonfiction writer. These are person and place. Every activity involves people and the best way to write about activities is to find out about the people who do them according to Zinsser. The other corresponding things which goes with people is place. All activities occur in a particular space. Zinsser describes his trip to see a camel caravan in Timbuktu as one example of an interesting place to visit.

The many different types of writing he covers: sports, memoir, travel, science and technology, humor, business, and the arts and criticism seem incidental to his focus on creating consistent craftshmanship. Zinsser comes back to a set of principles; write clearly and concisely, avoid jargon, use words people understand, and write about what you are interested in.

Writing is a process for him, never completely done, and always with room for improvement. He admonishes the novice writer to stick to their principles and insist that editors not change things without looking at the work first.

Nonfiction is as much literature in this book as fiction is. There is more nonfiction written than fiction being written every day. Journalism is just as valuable in Zinsser's creed as novels.

There was quite a bit of biographical information sketched into the book on writing. We learn that the author enjoys traveling, is a native of New York, is a city person, and loved writing for newspapers.

The one section I have some trepidation about was on how to interview people. I have been quite nervous about the idea of interviewing people for this blog. I have trouble rewriting what people have said. I often find myself being quite meticulous about quoting what people have said. I like to go back to ask people for clarification most of the time when I quote people.

If you are looking for a clear guide on how to develop a unique style, voice, and write clearly for nonfiction, this book is worth reading. The book, however does not cover a huge amount of material on grammar or usage. I think the book would make an excellent companion read to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. E.B. White is quoted several times in On Writing Well.

This book could be used to improve a lot of the blogs which I have been reading on the internet. Too many are focused on selling a product or service and do not have a personal voice, or a unique style.

Morning Poems, Blook

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Good morning, It is Valentine's day, February 14, 2008. I am going to try something new today. We are doing read a favorite poem today where I work. I think I may introduce the program with what is considered the most famous love poem of all time as well as Shakespeare's Sonnet 141:

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and heightMy soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day'sMost quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to useIn my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to loseWith my lost saints.

I love thee with the breath,Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

William Shakespeares Sonnet 141, In Faith I Do Not Love Thee With Mine Eyes

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,

For they in thee a thousand errors note;

But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,

Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;

Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,

Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,

Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited

To any sensual feast with thee alone:

But my five wits nor my five senses can

Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,

Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,

Thy proud hearts slave and vassal wretch to be:

Only my plague thus far I count my gain,

That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

I thought I would open the day with some classic poetry appropriate for Valentine's day. Don't forget your loved ones on this day. Both Shakespeare and Browning are thoroughly out of copyright. Anyways, I thought I would open with some poetry to start the day off.

I finished reading the Howard Zinsser On Writing Well book on the subway and took some notes on the content in blue ballpoint pen. When I get home, I will write a review on the book.

I pulled a truck of books to bring to the poetry program I am doing today to bring to the program today, a mix of poets; Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Hart Crane, Alice Walker, Charles Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, Diane Wakoski, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lord, Rimbaud, Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, Daniel Berrigan, Li Po, Ha Jin, Bei Dao and others.

I am going to the supermarket at lunch time to get some cake, mini-muffins, and juice. The room should be set up with a microphone downstairs. Going to the supermarket to get things for programs is always an interesting experience. This is the first time I am attempting to do a poetry style program at the library.
Not a huge amount of people came, eight people, and a few people came in and out to look at the room as well for other events. There were a few people who promised to stop in, but never came. A few people took flyers for other programs.
Anyways, I was just thinking about something I saw about blogging. My blog would officially be called a blook-- or a book blog. It is one of those supremely silly terms which technologists come up with. It ranks with the idea of web 2.0. It is a rather entertaining term. It might be a new way to combine words in language. For example there are splogs-- spam blogs. Maybe someone will create a blook splog for peoples enjoyment. It would be on how to make money auctioning blogs over the internet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feedburner, Morning Thoughts

This blog is always under construction. It is improved a little bit every day.

I have been thinking about how I can increase use of this site. One of the things which people suggest is to create a feed so people can subscribe to the site. I just added a feedburner widget in my widgets section so people can subscribe to the site. I get about 115 visits a day right now. This is not a huge amount of visits. I am glad to have broken 100 visitors a day. I am aiming by the end of they year to have 500-1000 visitors per day.

Right now, one of the reasons I have asked for feedback is to see how I can improve the site so it can be more appealing to the average visitor. I also adjusted one of the widgets this morning to a smaller format for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I also took some time to update the Powell's list of books I have read. I am working late tonight, so I can spend a little bit of time to update my site this morning. Going to work late when it is snowing can be interesting.

Right now, I am still reading On Writing Well. I think it will take about three to four days for me to finish and write a review. The writing is very dense and there are lots of examples on how to improve writing quality. I can already tell that my writing quality will improve from reading this book. I thought about breaking up the review of the book into three sections. But, I realized although each chapter can be read separately, they are not meant to be reviewed individually like a short story, but as part of a whole book.

Things have been very very busy at work and at home. I have had a bit more time to read On Writing Well on the subway. At the job, I have been weeding the Job Information Center and preparing a big order of job books, entrepreneur books, resume books, civil service test books, and educational test books. It has taken up most of my day doing this. Combined with a long committee meeting that lasted about two hours, it has been interesting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Solstice Wood-- Patricia McKillip-- Commentary, Morning Thoughts

Tom Thumb hitches a ride on a butterfly.

Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip is a fantasy novel. I am not sure that I can review it properly because there were pieces that I did not quite comprehend, but I will try anyways. It is a myth set in modern times.

Sylvia Lynn is asked to return to Lynn Hall by her grandmother for her grandfather's funeral. There is an immediate sense of foreboding because her grandmother does not follow her grandfather's wish to be cremated and spread among the roses. I think this is an allusion to Scottish or English mysticism where a kind of quiet enlightenment occurs where a person grows roses and handles the flowers of the fields.

Sylvia is the prodigal daughter. Her grandfather left Lynn Hall to her in his last will and testament. She is supposed to take care of the old ramshackle house. You can imagine the house as a kind of big old Victorian ramshackle affair with big trees in the yard and meadows surrounding it. There are the remnants of a gun room and a library.

Sylvia comes home to a place that can best be called a threshold between the worlds, Lynn Hall. She is the heir to keep the others out. Lynn Hall leads into the world of fairy. Sylvia does not want to acknowledge her own half fae heritage. Her grandmother introduces her to the local ladies knitting circle. The knitting circles ties and sews up the barriers between the worlds. They weave, they sew, they quilt they crochet, they knit and they make home cooked meals.

To walk in the woods and meadows behind Lynn Hall is to take a chance of stepping into the other lands. One could fall down the hollow stump of a tree, walk along the river to enter the other world, or walk into a clearing and be someplace else.

The setting is kind of odd. Somehow, the author has transplanted the Scottish, Irish, or English fairyland into what appears to be the Appalachian mountains or some similar place. The Rowan family lives near the woods for example and many are half-fae. They may have taken a woman who was a doe as a wife in local legends. This can be a bit disconcerting.

Owen, Sylvia's cousin falls in love with a fairy. He goes off into the woods to other lands and is replaced by a changeling. Because of her half fae blood, Sylvia can see this and tricks the changeling into following her into the knitting circle where they bind it with thread.

The description of Owen in fairyland is very strange. It is almost like a fever dream or a hallucination. At times it is not very comprehensible. It is beautifully written, but quite hard to follow. When Sylvia goes into fairyland to rescue Owen for example, she sees Owen as a small frog.

There is a message about love and wonder in the tale. After Owen returns his fairy lover comes back to live with him in the human world.

I am not sure I can recommend this book. It is beautifully written, but at times incomprehensible to me. I found the setting to be a little confusing at times as well. If you really like fairytales and tales of mythical places, you might like this book. This book won the Mythopoeic award.


I borrowed On Writing Well, The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Sixth Edition-- Revised and Updated by William Zinsser. So far, Zinsser has said one interesting thing on P.36. According to Zinsser you should read The Elements of Style by E.B. White at least once a year.

I have a day off today. It is Lincoln's birthday. I already read the morning paper had breakfast and did a little shopping. At one o'clock, I will be going down to my local library to drop off some books. They seem to open late most of the time.

I made the short trip to my local library. It was pretty quiet when I got there. I returned several books. A few were overdue and I had to pay a small fine. I usually pay a portion of my fines. Libraries when you reach a certain level of fines report you to credit bureaus.

Where I work, if you have more than fifty dollars in fines, your fines go to a collection agency and they report you to a credit agency. This is enough of a reason for most people to return their books. I really don't mind paying a small fine, it is still cheaper than buying the books. The librarian renewed the one book which I still had out.

I wandered around the library then signed on the computer for a brief stay of half an hour. I did a bit of blog stuff mainly. There was a big sign on top of the computer that said no chat rooms and no games on the computer. The librarian never checked to see what I was doing. Most of the time we don't check on this unless someone is bothering another patron with it.

There was an old lady sitting next to me looking up Cuban immigration to the United States. I tried to shuffle my chair away so I would have enough space to use the keyboard without bumping into her.

I left when a teenager wanted to sign on to do her homework. I have a computer at home. It was just a chance to work on a computer in an anonymous setting. I often think that the people who are using the computers at the library often have a computer at home.

When I came back home, it was snowing outside, and it was very cold. I wonder if we will get called to let us know we have a snow day tomorrow. Sometimes, we do.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Books On Blogging, Feedback

A little criticism or feedback would be appreciated.

Last night, I started Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip another Mythopoeic award winner. This one is a little more contemporary, it was written in 2006.

Alright, I am waking up. I am a bit frazzled. I took a few moments to place a few books on blogging on hold, Blogging for Dummies, What No One Ever Told You About Blogging and Podcasting, and Clear Blogging. The Blogging for Dummies will probably give me a few new tips on how to blog. The dummies series is pretty reliable for basic information. I am not sure yet about the other two. There are not a whole lot of books on blogging in the library yet. Eventually, the library will catch up with the phenomenon and start buying more material.

I am also looking at ways to improve my writing and grammar. I have not taken a look at writing books for a while. Can someone suggest a good book with tips on how best to write online.

Once again, It is feedback time. Can anyone tell me how I am doing. I would like to hear complaints, compliments, and thoughts on my blog. Don't hold back and don't compliment too much. This isn't a pat on the back session. If you are my enemy come forth and take out your pen. I need a good foil.

Anyways, this morning I was looking at Technorati and I came across something rather interesting in the publishing world. There is a new publisher called Wowio. Apparently, they collect personal information so they can sell it, then they give you three free ebooks a day. Sounds a little disconcerting. Most of the books are kind of cheesy, things which did not sell to a mainstream audience. The signup asks for a lot of personal likes and dislikes. Things like what do you like to read, what do you like to watch, what is your favorite hobby, and how much money do you make.

I think they tried to become an ebookseller then failed. Now, they are trying something else to keep the money coming in. It is kind of an interesting concept. I wonder who is going to be sending me advertising junk which I won't buy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Robin McKinley-- Sunshine-- Review

This piece of artwork is free. It is a copyleft licensed image. The author wants to you use it as much as possible.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley is an interesting novel. You might call it a lady vampire slayer story for adults. This book is a Mythopoeic award winner. Sunshine is a bakery worker, she bakes muffins, cakes, and wonderful cinnamon buns that to the people who come to her bakery are very magical. She lives a quiet life and the most excitement she has is a boyfriend who rides a motorcycle.

Then one day, she goes to be alone for a little while and makes a mistake. At this point in the novel, she is captured by vampires. We do not know that this world has the supernatural until she is caught. Then darkness is slowly brought into play. I really like how this is done by the author.

Sunshine uses her magical heritage to free a captured vampire who is supposed to dine on her and they escape together. I like that she tells the beauty and the beast story to Constantine, the vampire she is supposed to be a snack for.

Sunshine goes back to her muffin making world. At this point we learn, that the people who are inhabiting her cafe are rather odd. Her boyfriend Mel is covered with rune tattoos and many of the customers are SOF-- Special Other Forces whose job it is is to fight dark forces.

The setting is rather interesting. There has been a war between humanity and the others, vampires, werewolves, and demons. The werewolves and demons partially sided with humanity and the vampires are humanities mortal enemies. Constantine is different than most vampires, he is the vampire archtype you might see in the television show Angel, or the manga, Vampire Hunter D. In mystical terms he would be the hunter or woodsman who survives by drinking the blood of beasts.

I would call this novel a more mature version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sunshine we learn is the embodiment of light, her heritage comes from a wizard father who she knows very little about. She seeks help and gets it from her old landlady a wardskeeper who helps her come into her power. The evil vampire Bo does not leave her alone, he sends a vampire after her but she kills it with a kitchen knife something which is not supposed to happen.

She with the help of Constantine go to battle the Bo who is the embodiment of corruption. Sunshine takes out Bos heart and destroys it in a burst of pure light while Constantine fends off Bo's minions.

The story is very well written. It is not as dark as most vampire novels because the main characters personality and abilities are the embodiment sunlight and positive energy in many ways. Constantine serves to balance out her life with the darker aspect of heroism. He is not evil, because he has chosen to be alone in the darkness and hunt animals.

I also like that not all of the SOF-- Special Other Forces are good guys, some of them want to keep her locked up to study for their own needs. Also, some of the characters are half-other. One of the SOF officers turns blue in private.

There is a librarian character Aimil who helps Sunshine learn a bit about vampires. She is also a half- breed passing as human. When she was little she had an extra set of teeth that were removed. The details in the writing are very well done.

This is a quick, enchanting light read. It is a better more adult version of the lady vampire slayer story. If you like fantasy books this is a good choice to read.

Morning Thoughts

A visitor at Googleplex in Mountainview, California signing in.

Right now, I am reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley, it is a Mythopoeic award winner. I am enjoying it tremendously. I am waiting for Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I was hoping that I could get the movie and the book so I could compare them. I will probably have to wait a couple months, I am number 142 for the waiting list on the film. Neil Gaiman is very popular.

He is so popular that people will treasure his signature on paper napkins and wait hours in line to see him read his book. I think he is one of those people who also conserves his signature, not giving it to anyone and everyone.

I have stacks of books at home waiting to be returned to the library. I have to be careful that I return everything. While fines sometimes are excused for people who work in the library, lost books are still charged to library workers. So, we do have to return books or end up paying for them eventually.

I read two professional journals online in addition to the ones in print. Reading Library Journal online lead me to this blog entry. Apparently it is not allowed to lend out Kindle ebook readers. I can't imagine we' ll have any reason to get kindle ebook readers. But, we do have laptops.

I also sometimes read Bookselling This Week, mainly for the book reviews.

I am looking for a good excuse to get away from my library for a day. I looked at Metro, the Metropolitan Library Council for New York and they have a really interesting one day conference next month called "Google & Libraries", I think it will be both entertaining and on some levels very useful. I am going to try and go there. It may take some doing for me to convince them to let me go to this thing. On Monday, I am going to ask my supervisor if I can go to this thing. I hope they give me a badge so I can add it to my badge collection when I go.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I've spent quite a bit of time looking through Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist at various titles which might be purchased. I also took some time to look at the New York Times Bestseller Lists and the Publishers Weekly Bestseller Lists. Only a few books on the bestseller lists interest me. Free Lunch by David Kay Johnston looks to be an appropriately United States populist anti-government spending book.

I put several books on reserve. Many of the books which I was interested in were not available currently in our library system. I put Deep Economy by Bill McKibben and Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken on hold. I found a near perfect book title Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would be Human by Elizabeth Hess about a chimp that was used for human language experimentation.

I also would have liked to get Matter by Iain Banks but no copy was available in our library system yet. There were a few other books that were not available as well, Simple Prosperity by David Wann, and Fueling Our Future: An Introduction to Sustainable Energy by Robert L. Evans. I often limit which books I can read to what I can get for free.

I checked by SfSite and Locus Magazine and picked out two relatively new titles to request. They are Dust by Elizabeth Bear about a generation starship, and Inside Straight by George R.R. Martin, a superhero novel part of the Wildcards series.

Some people may think, I can order any book for purchase that I want. This is not true. My tastes may not match exactly with the customers that borrow books from the library. Some of the books will match closely, others won't. Before I put a book in for purchase, I have to consider whether or not people will read the book in question. If I cannot convince myself and the other people at the library that the book will not be used multiple times I will not order the book for purchase.

Part of this decision is based on demographics who lives in the community, what ethnic groups, how many young people, how many old people, religious or philosophical affiliations. We try and match our books with the interests of the community. If the books and material don't match on some level not many people will use the library.

The other thing which we use is statistics. We keep track of what books are being used and how many times books are being read. We try and order materials that are used in specific subjects and by authors which people read. Having material which people are not interested in is counterproductive.

There is also the question of quality. This is a very hard thing to determine. Sometimes, we will order books simply because they are of exceptional quality or merit, even if they don't exactly match with the community. However, this is fairly rare. Most books or library material is not that exceptional.

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders-- Lawrence Weschler-- Review

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler is an odd and entertaining little book. It is the kind of book which a person can take a few evenings to sit and read. The writing is light and entertaining.

It is about the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles run by David Wilson. The purpose of the museum is not to tell the truth but to create wonder and change in the visitors views of the world. David Wilson is an artist more than a museum curator. It is very much like the old Cabinets of Curiosity where art, oddities, and natural history are mixed together in such a way as to make a person curious. Some of the exhibits are real and truthful and others are complete fabrications.

An example of one of the exhibits is Hagop Sandaljian's microminiature sculptures done in the eyes of needles. Sandaljian literally used a single human hair and worked between heartbeats to make these miniature sculptures. This is the page from the Museum of Jurassic Technology--

Other curiosities which the book describes are human horns, pronged ants, dioramas of folk remedies, a wall of antlers, the Sonnabend model of obliscence (a complete fabrication), mice on toast, and a variety of curiosities.

The museum itself is described as a little 1500 square foot storefront in Los Angeles. Occassionally the propietor David Wilson can be seen outside playing the accordion.

After describing the museum, David Weschler, the author goes into the history of the Wunderkammeren, or cabinet of wonders from the 16th century. This gets into truly odd mind expanding territory; hermetica, alchemy, early travels to strange corners of the world, and the beginnings of science and natural history.

There are small black and white photographs throughout the book. Some of the photographs include a photograph of a centaur skeleton on P.71, a print of Frederic Ruysch's Vanitas Mundi tableaux which are agglomerations of preserved body parts and skeletons on P.86, and a human horn on P.109. Most of the photographs are quite interesting to look at.

This book can be strange and bewildering at times. At other times it can be surreal and fascinating. If you like trivia, unexplained phenomena, or are interested in odd things this book is a recommended read. Also if you are interested in the morbid, grotesque, or different and like things like circuses, freak shows, or extraordinary human behavior you would like this book as well.

One could call this book a nonfiction work of magical realism in the tradition of Borges or a surrealist manifesto.

This book was one of Nancy Pearl's recommended reads.