November 2007 Archives

November 30, 2007

Blew it

With all the excitement of the week, I blew it and missed a day. Oh well. I'm not a good "post a day" person anyway.

Better luck next year.

November 28, 2007

End of my rope...

Exhausted tonight. Work is draining, the girl has a friend over and the boy is playing GHII, hogging the TV. I feel like the Grinch, complaining about all the noise, Noise, NOISE, NOISE!! I could nap right now but its early and I've got laundry and cleaning to do. Oh, yeah, and the noise.

T comes tomorrow. I know I shouldn't cling to our visit like I do but I can't help it. It's the only time I feel centered, safe ... almost balanced.

You know how people always say "it's got to get better, because it can't get any worse?" when things are going badly, as thought that will make you feel better?  Well, I'm saying right now, the  next person that tells me that is going to get punched in the throat. For reals.


Off to my zen.

*rollin', rollin', rollin' ... *

November 27, 2007

Beyond reason

Dear Diary,
Today I stood up for myself and promptly got backslapped into last week. That'll learn me ...



Yeah, you might be able to tell I'm in a mood. I'm angry, hurt and frustrated beyond reason. Working alone is wearing on me and today I realized that, not only am I working alone but no one really cares. I spend all day, every day, saying yes to people and the one time I say no, they go running to the principal to get their way. What's worse is that she listened to them without finding out my side of the story or taking into account that I HAVE BEEN WORKING ALONE FOR A MONTH and can not even go to the bathroom when I need to.

At our conference, I heard over and over again how other MCs are being disrespected, left understaffed and overwhelmed on a daily basis. My frustration isn't new or unique but I take these slights on a deeper, more personal level. I don't think anyone knows how much I put into this job or just how much there IS to doing this job. I don't complain because I know everyone else is in the same boat as I am and I am supposed to be a TEAM member ... not everyone feels that way, though, and people like me, the nurturers that give of themselves, get pushed aside while others use us to get their needs met.

Anywhoo ... I spent most of the afternoon in tears, glad I have sent my resume out and willing the phone to ring. I have given my heart and soul to turn this school into something everyone could be proud of yet I can't even enjoy  working there. Going to drown my sorrows in Twizzlers and Katamari tonight and get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

November 26, 2007

Need a laugh?

I do. I have been going through the motions lately at work, having had my spirit broken long ago by the total lack of support I have gotten this year. If I could, I would quit ... it's that bad. I spend most of the day just talking to the kids, hoping I will be reminded of WHY I am doing this.

So ... about that laugh. Here you go. Enough silly walks and dead parrots to make even me smile.

Speaking of smiling ... 3 more days and things should look much rosier. Waiting as patiently as I can.

November 25, 2007

It's been nice...

This weekend, I took the opportunity to introduce you to three very important members of my family. Now, I'm not one to constantly blog about my cats but I will talk your ear off if I have the chance. Their personalities are so interesting and different that I'm not sure their three separate posts did them justice.

For instance, whose cats are they or, rather, who do they claim? Anyone with cats knows that you do not own cats, they own you, and our cats are no exception. Iggy is very attached to my daughter. He would spend every waking moment with her because he knows that, no matter what she is doing, he can get her to stop and play with him if he is cute enough. He is offended when he is shut out of her room at night and bored stiff when she spends time over her friends' houses. That's where I come in. At night and when she is gone, Iggy is my cat. I've always wanted an affectionate cat and I can pretend he is mine all night long. 

Now Spot, she really is my cat. Although she likes to climb all over my son when he is on the couch (it must be the testosterone because she does the same thing to T), she spends most of the day sleeping on my bed. She also comes to me when she is scared, tired, lonely or hungry. She's my girl and she is braver and calmer around me. I'm the only one that can hug and love on her without making her all kinds of crazy.

Lucky ... can you really own a being of pure evil? Heh, ok, maybe I exaggerate but he it, in every way, a tom cat. He's persnickety, feisty, bad tempered and ill mannered. He tolerates the kids mostly because they feed him. He is demanding and will glare, sit on your feet, grab your ankle as you walk past, even pounce on and bite at your leg if he thinks you have forgotten to feed him.  He listens to no one but me.  If the kids try to discipline him, he just sits down a few feet away and dares them to bring it. He knows when I'm mad, though, and will stop whatever it is that he is doing when he hears my voice change. He also loves to play hide and seek with me, a game we have played since he was a kitten. I think he respects me because the X was not nice to him and I always held and protected him.

As you can see, we they are full of personality and very territorial. The three cats make up their own funny little dysfunctional family. Lucky is the grumpy old man sitting on the couch, shaking his fist at anyone that gets too close. Spot would rather just have some space and quiet time to herself. She is the shy spinster in the window, very busy contemplating the growth pattern of her fur and watching the world go by. Iggy, well, when he is bored, he  goes looking for someone to play with. He's the annoying little neighborhood kid that is so cute, you can't help but like him, even though he drives you nuts.

This is a typical afternoon in our house. First, Iggy jumps on the back of the grumpy old man, trying to coax him into a friendly wrestling match, for which he is usually promptly slammed to the ground. You can see a gleam in Lucky's eyes afterwards, too, as though he is thinking "I still got it." Once he recovers, Iggy pounces on a usually sleeping Spot, causing her to flail and spaz, hissing and swatting at him and knocking anything in her path to the floor. Then comes the chase ... down the stairs, back up, around the bed, back down, around the living room, through the kitchen, back upstairs and on and on. I think he helps her come put of her shell and she secretly likes it.  I've caught them curled up together several times and most nights you can find all three of them coexisting peacefully on my bed.

Truthfully, I can't imagine my life without my pets. They offer comfort, companionship and a loyalty rarely found in animals of the 2-legged variety. My pets have protected me from marauding mice, nuzzled me awake, let me hold them while I cried, and been wonderful additions to our family.  Spot even had a paw in T and I forming such a close bond so early. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go clear the cats off my pillows and shake them out of my comforter so I can get some sleep.

November 24, 2007

WHEW

I've been playing Beautiful Katamari since T got me the 360 and loving every minute of it. I'm one of those people that just like to finish everything and feel as though I've accomplished something rather than just play with no goals in mind. Achievements, I'm embarrassed to say, are just the thing to motivate a person like me to play.

I'm embarrassed because I've spent the better part of 2 years calling T an Achievement Whore only to find out that I'm one too!! Who knew?!

Tonight, I got a biggie in BK. I rolled an Astronomical Katamari, over 1.5 million Km, something we were never able to achieve in the earlier iterations in the Katamari franchise. Sure, I had to download 4 more stages to do it but it was worth it. It was very exciting and all the sweeter because I had been trying so hard to get it. I almost feel as though I have accomplished something today.

November 23, 2007

Cuddlebug alert

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Name and Age:
Iggy, 1 yr. 2 mos.

Breed, coloring:
Shorthair Tortie, white with black and tan striped patches, pink pads and nose, golden eyes.

Nicknames:
Ignacious D, Iggzilla, Iggaling a ding dong, Iggy Smalls, Fattykins, IgglePiggle, Iggly Wiggly, Iggs 'n Toast, Iggothy, Iggnition Switch, Stinkpot, you name it.

Actual Name when we got him:
Oreo. I know, he looks nothing like an Oreo. His 'eyeliner' and bad case of the shakes he had when I met him reminded me of Iggy Pop so he became Iggy right away. Even though we thought he was a she.

Why we got him:
I was working late one day and the mom of one of my students came and introduced herself to me. They had a house fire the week before and were trying to settle into an apartment but they had a problem. Seems a stray cat had been living in their garage and she and her newborn kittens needed homes. There was only one kitten left when they came to me. I figured a girl kitten would be well tolerated by our other 2 cats. I know, I'm a sucker. Turns out another teacher sent them down to me, knowing I'm a cat person and a softie.

General disposition:
Playful, energetic, sweet and friendly. And none too bright.

Nickname When Bad:
IG-gy (our tone makes him stop and look terribly innocent)

Favorite Pasttimes:
Snuggling (especially nuzzling my neck). Following me into the bathroom. Trying to get attention.

Claim to fame:
Can go from 0 - Spaz in record time. Also works in the reverse ... will relax (and fall asleep) in a heartbeat. Also tries to fit into spaces that his bulk no longer allows him to.

Favorite toy:
His humans and anything else he can find.

Best trick:
Knows when my alarm is going to go off and wakes me up 10 minutes before it does, every day. Bangs on the beads hanging in my daughters doorway to wake her up in the morning.

Least favorite activities:
None. Is very easygoing and loves to play.

Nickname when lying on the floor:
Asking for Trouble

When upset, humans should:
Try not to laugh.

Loves us most when he is:
Lonely.

Medical history:
Was a mess when we got him. Dirty, scrawny, full of fleas and worms, he now is healthy, pleasantly plump and oh so clean, except for his annoying habit of passing noxious gas.

November 22, 2007

Meet Miss Priss

In part 2 of Cat Blogging, you get the distinct pleasure of meeting the smallest and most neurotic member of our family.


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Name and Age:
Spot, 3 yrs. 6 mos.

Breed, coloring:
Silky Shorthair, black with a small patch of white on her belly, black pads and nose, yellow (crossed) eyes.

Nicknames:
Spoot, Spooty Patootie, Spotzilla, Miss Priss, Spotty Potty, Poopskins, Small Diet Poop, Skinny Minnie, Spootros Spootros Ghali. More than I can count.

Actual Name when we got her:
She got a spot of oil on her head and, thus became Spot. It stuck.

Why we got her:
To save her from a life of torture in the hands of T's cousin's kids. T and I had just started dating and he found the kittens on the side of the road. I knew I wanted one right away and he brought Spot down the next weekend. It was fate.

General disposition:
Neurotic.

Nickname When Bad:
She is almost never bad.

Favorite Pasttimes:
Being cute. Not trying new things.

Claim to fame:
Does not like to touch the floor. Can leap amazing distances.

Favorite toy:
Humans. Will play with string if in a very good mood.

Best trick:
Can jump from 2nd floor to bottom of stairs without making a sound.

Least favorite activities:
Fraternizing with the other cats.

Nickname when lying on the floor:
Cutie Spootie Patootie (usually said when she is writhing on her back looking adorable.

When upset, humans should:
Apologize, maybe buy her flowers.

Loves us most when she is:
Awake.

Medical history:
Has licked her armpits raw. Hates to have her fur out of place.

November 21, 2007

Cat blogging

Yes, it has come to this. Oh, how the wishes-she-was-mighty has fallen. Since I just worked 9 hours AND grocery shopped AND have to bake a pie, I thought I would take the easy way out entertain you by introducing you to muh pets.

At the risk of her thinking I'm a stalker (seriously, I'm so not! I swear!),  SJ once had a post thingy on her blog that cracked me up about her cat, Taibas, and she looks EXACTLY like the elder statesman of our house. I've always wanted to do this for our cats because they have very interesting personalities and they are very much a part of our family.

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Name and Age:
Lucky, 11 yrs. 7 mos.

Breed, coloring:
Shorthair, black with the occasional white hair, black pads and nose, green eyes.

Nicknames:
Lucky Duck(y), Luckster, Luckaroo Bonzai, Master Mouser, Plucky.

Actual Name when we got him:
He didn't have one. He was one of a large litter living under a trailer in a trailer park outside of town. He was only about a month old and soooo teeny! Pretty dirty, too.

Why we got him:
We lived in a rural area surrounded by tobacco, peanut and cotton fields. The first frost and/or harvest drove the field mice into our house and I couldn't handle finding them in the oven and cabinets (someday I'll tell you the story of Mousechwitz), and I insisted we get a cat, even if only to warn the mice away with his scent. I had no idea he would be a killing machine. I finally trained him to catch so I could release, but not before many, many presents were left for me. :(

General disposition:
Grumpy old man.

Nickname When Bad:
DemonCat

Favorite Pasttimes:
Plotting world domination. Reminiscing about his youth, especially as he rolls on the concrete patio in the sun. Chasing greeblings. Glaring.

Claim to fame:
Post-poop runaround.

Favorite toy:
Anything with catnip.

Best trick:
Says "Out" when you stand by the door and he wants to go out.

Least favorite activities:
Bathtime. Hugging. Anything requiring human contact.

Nickname When Lying on the Floor:
DeadCat

When upset, humans should:
RUN!!!

Loves us most when he is:
Hungry.

Medical history:
Allergic to fleas. Has licked himself practically bald in the past. All better now. :)

November 20, 2007

Grinding

Spending the night grinding through Beautiful Katamari. The girl is at a friend's birthday party and the boy is going to bed early to get ready for a long day alone at home tomorrow (teacher workday). Trying hard to open Eternal Mode in more levels so I can roam around and find cousins and presents.

If you've never played, I realize this makes absolutely no sense ... get thee to Katamari and enjoy!  I've realized why I like the Katamari series so much. It's my zen. I am in control and I am out of control at the same time. It  is a strange mix of helpless power.  And its purty. 

K, off I go ... Rollin', rollin', rollin' ...

November 19, 2007

Bleh

Feeling kind of icky today. You know, if I wasn't doing NaBloPoMo, I would just curl up in bed, read a book, perhaps catch Monday night TV and hit the hay early instead of post about it.

Sorry. You even get me when I'm boring and grumpy. Just for this month though. I promise that when this is over, I'll be properly reclusive when I feel like crap. Pinky swear.

November 18, 2007

Thank you, Jane, I thought it was just me ...

I've been a Guitar Hero fan since I got it for my better half. I didn't think I could play it, being that I'm incompetent at most things that require more finesse than button mashing, but I have actually been able to enjoy myself. My secret ... don't push myself to the point of frustration, which means I'll 5 star all the songs on Medium, thank you, and be happy with that. Plus, it's a great family game that allows me to share some great songs with my kids.

We've played through GH, GHII and GH Encore: Rock the 80's and, though 80's was light on content, we have enjoyed them all. We have eagerly awaited GHIII and,since T was in town on release day, we stood in line at midnight to get his reserved copy for the 360. At the time, I didn't have the 360 and I was relegated to playing backup which, by the way, was fine for me. I like playing bass to his lead. Now, I knew that since Neversoft was involved there would be changes but I didn't know, really, what to expect.

What I saw disappointed and angered me. Not only do we have the addition of useless, clumsily animated 'Bow-chika-bow-wow girls' on stage gyrating out of time (it's RATM, for God's sake, ladies, at least pick the pace up!), but the female characters are not the strong rocker chicks that I used to be able to back.

Judy Nails, a former punk tomboy, is all about showing off the bouncy boob physics engine that is so popular nowadays. Casey Lynch, who T used to like to call Heroine Chic, is also glammed up, with straightened blond hair and sporting a girlie bustier ... what the ... didn't she used to be hardcore?  Also, can I just say ... Midori? I'm all about some diversity (thank you for bringing Xavier back) but ... MIDORI?? *sigh* 

What ever happened to the easy going non-sexism that launched the franchise into the stratosphere? Wasn't it perfect them Harmonix was focusing on the music and not just targeting 18-30 year old males but engaging a broader spectrum of audience? I thought Neversoft did a decent job with the Tony Hawk franchise but they seem to forget that there are girls, women, moms, grandmas out there that like to rock (and skateboard, for that matter).

I know, I know ... quit'cher bitchin' and just choose a different character. I do. I usually play as Xavier because he is the essence of cool for me. But what about my 14 year old daughter, who likes to play as a girl? Gone is her favorite punk, Judy Nails. She's stuck with Midori's puffs and backpack or Casey's new sell-out, sexier look. 

I've pretty much kept my mouth shut about this because every time I mention it, I get challenged and I begin to feel as though I'm being close-minded and maybe just a little old-fashioned. For the record, I know I'm not, but I hear so many excuses for and hardly any voices against that I start to think that it's just me. I feel better now, though. Jane over at Game Girl Advance has spoken out on 1UP Yours and written "My Guitar Heroes - and Heroines" and, while I don't agree with all of her guitar heroes, it's nice to see that I'm not totally alone in thinking this game has gone in the wrong direction when it comes to sexism in gaming.

Rock Band ... save us ... remind us that it's really all about the music.

November 17, 2007

Home

Got home later than I expected last night and felt like I had been hit with a Mack truck. Of course, I hadn't, just sat still for 4 hours after not stopping for 3 days. Only got lost a little. Let me tell you, Zebulon, NC, is a lovely little town but I didn't want to be driving through it at 6:00 last night, I just wanted to be home. Unfortunately, BR 64E is not the same as 64E and while they do eventually join together again (just after the aforementioned Zebulon, as a matter of fact) it took quite a bit longer than I thought it would.

I have played on the 360 for most of the day today, stopping only to take the girl to Old Navy to get her a t-shirt and then take her to her school for a concert. I just got in and, since the boy is asleep, I'm going to play a little more GH2 and rack up my last achievements of the day.

*famous last words*

November 16, 2007

State of the State

Francis Bradburn is giving the State of the State address today. I always like this because we get support and reassurance that we are not alone and that we are moving in the right direction. 

One thing I like about this conference is that I have a chance to reevaluate my position in this field. At one time, I was very uncomfortable here, wondering if I had made a good choice. I'm not the stereotypical librarian. No bun, no teacher socks, no embroidered sweaters or horn-rimmed specs.  I guess I am the future of this field, though. I may not fit in but I want to make a difference and I care about libraries.


Kevin O'Malley just came up to accept his NC Children's Book Award for Once upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude. My students will be so jealous.

The statewide winner of Administrator of the Year was from PITT COUNTY! w00t!! Dennis Teel. Congratulations, Mr. Teel!!

K, here comes the keynote, Francis. I may take notes or be too wrapped up in what she is saying.

It makes me proud to be an Instructional Technologist, but I am frustrated to have gotten my license and not be using it. 

"Over the next 3 years, let's make sure that the average age of our collection is only 10 years old."

10 books/child ... our statewide average is 22/child. We need to weed.  I need to do another shelf analysis.

Online initiatives, college prep. for the kids. Investigate through NCDPI.


ALA.com and ISTE.com ... download the standards.

DSL = Digital as Second Language.

ELEMENTS OF GOOD DESIGN
Goal is clear / Open to Personalization
Success is trackable / Keep things moving / Actions engage players
How to play / Work to win together

Teach kids / design lessons using Video Game tactics. Oh, this is something I need to learn and write about.

Letting kids tell their own stories. Let them put themselves out there and introduce themselves to their own future.

What are we doing to meet the needs of future learners.

Don't waste time wishing they werer different.
Don't lynch the innovators.
Honor and respect what kids bring to school. Learn FROM them.


PArents want their children to enjoy school ... technology resources, excites kids, makes them happy.

I'm so impressed by Francis Bradburn.

Connecting boys to the library

One of the challenges of having boys in the library is not only having materials that will interest them but convincing them that reading can be cool.

Michael Sullivan, Connecting Boys with Books: What Libraries Can Do

All about making media center boy friendly and connecting to boys.

Male authors, sports and action stories, edgy comedy, non-traditional format.

"From Booklist
Statistics show that boys do not read as much as girls. Given the importance of reading in developing vocabulary, self-expression, and higher-level thinking skills, it is essential to get boys engaged with books. In this brief, highly readable treatise, author Sullivan outlines both the tenets of successful programming for boys in the tweens--ages 8 to 12--and methods that can be used to put theory into practice. Covering genres that appeal to boys, the power of reading-related games, sports-themed library programming, and a well-run chess program, this compendium of ideas and recommendations will help both school and public librarians reach their young male constituents. The combination of practical programming recommendations and philosophical and statistical background makes for potent advocacy. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved"

- From Amazon


It is now on my wishlist ... heh


And the "You Wouldn't want to be..." series looks like a winner for my kids.


Fellowship of the Books ...

Choosing groups. Older boys, dads and male faculty leading small groups of 4th and 5th grade boys during lunch in the media center.

Pick a name

Confront the books -  set out the books ahead of time and let them choose the books they want to read. Score sheet, where they choose their favorites. Try to get discussions going. Each groups had to read the same series so they would have plenty to talk about when they come back.
Conquer the books _ choose, check out, and read. Return in 2 weeks to eat, chat, argue

Finale: Ice cream sundaes, evaluation





Find boys book lists  

November 15, 2007

Pat Morita??

Meeting authors is one of the best things about conferences. We are meeting Pat Mora right now, a  Pura Belpr√© Honor Award Winner. I'm in awe and am looking forward to listening to her. She is a petite, warm lady and our speaker tomorrow during lunch. One of my partners in crime (Katie) here thought, for some reason, that she was a man.

HER: Is Pat Mora a man or a woman?

ME: You are thinking of Pat Morita.

HER: No, I was picturing a fat Hawaiian man.

ME: Definitely not Pat Morita. He's dead. And Japanese.

Turns out Pat is a very nice, not fat, not Hawaiian LADY. :)
 


They sat behind a caped crusader this morning and she has a lot of aggression..... she just sat down in front of us!! EEP!!! She is offended by my laptop!! I just got a look! There is no way this lady is a librarian ... she is so very imposing.

Front row on the right, first seat ... man or woman??  It's Pat!!

Whew, I'm punchy. The cookie pushed me over the edge. I need coffee.


Why write picture books?? To reach children when you can still influence them.  I MUST read Dona Flor and her new haiku poetry book.


Lee & Lo Books??

Contact ESL program and talk to them about Dia.

" I can not imagine my life without books and how bereft I would feel."

Lofty designs...

Using Moodle as a closed online discussion opportunity ... students are able to share ideas and post reviews and theories about books they are reading.

Setting up forum by topic, not by student, is much more interactive.

This presentation was about a program  done with ESL students but I can see it being used with a BOB team. Introduce it with independently read books but then work with assigned books.

The secutiry is imperative. The writing practice is so important. Students improve with each post.

Start a bookclub and use it for promotion, etc. This will allow a conversation between students/teachers/parents that would not happen otherwise.

Students are allowed to find their voice. Writing on Moodle, they can express themselves with more proficiency than they could in person. Usually they don't see the connection between speaking and writing voices ... this helps them blur the line between the two.

You can upload files, including podcasts!!!  This could be perfect for 4th grade and their booktalks. :)

What I enjoy seeing is the connections kids are making, not only with each other but with their teachers.


http://www.rug.henderson.k12.nc.us/media

Session One

Staked out a seat at the back, near an outlet so I can keep charging. I expect to be using this a lot away from power so I need to refill when I can.

I'm awfully tired today. Not sure why but I had a hard time sleeping last night. I'm hearing  lot of the same rhetoric today that I've heard for the past few years and I'm not seeing much progress. Maybe it's just that I'm not making much progress. This brick wall hurts after a while.

Amazing, I set my stuff down and turned the chair that was in front of me around so that I could use it as a desk and some chick sat down in front of me and took over the chair. AND she is sitting her big-haired self right in front of me. Grrr .....


Update: Wow, it's getting packed. This guy is always popular. I've been interested in his theories for years and I'm hoping others are listening to him, too. I think he's the future of librarianship.

Handouts for Social Networking by David Warlick

Gotta love his energy.

A social network is a social structure made up of nodes (individuals, organizations) tied together by one or more specific types of interdependance.


Research Second Life and virtualism.

Media = an industry that markets fear and death for profit.Working against those of us who are trying to help people accept the internet as a connection tool.

WOW -- connecting people with common missions/problems/solutions. Watch that network.

Using a wikispace to do a school project - suggestion for Jazz
Should we  connect to kids on their own turf? Will we be welcome?

ning.com
elgg.com
http://classroom20.ning.com/


Here we go


Blogging the conference

One thing I always like to do at conferences is take my laptop. That way, as the presenter is throwing up links or interesting things to go along with the handouts, I can bookmark them right then and there, saving me a lot of transposing chicken scratch later on.

I tried to go to the keynote address (really I did) but we got off to a late start this morning. We had a breakfast meeting with one of our vendors (hey, he paid!) and we had a chance to vent about problems we have been having with the software since our conversion 2 years ago. One thing he did bring to the table is that there has been a new version released since our last upgrade that we had NO idea was going to come. I spoke up and asked for specs for the MCs, so we can see, in black and white, that this new version will truly be worth it and because I'm a geek like that. Meanwhile, an email went to our WAN engineer about what version we were running and the possibility of an upgrade and he asked for the exact same thing, except from server-side. That made me feel validated ... it was extra nice since it happened in front of my peers.

Of course, about 15 minutes later, one of the MCs asked for the exact same thing, just using different language. Guess she wasn't impressed. HA!

Since our breakfast ran over the first session, we went to pick up our registration info and snazzy bags (posting pics later) and sat ourselves down to plan out our day ... and then we got talking ... which is why, when it was time for the keynote, there were no seats left and I'm stuck out in the hall. No matter ... the view is gorgeous, the sky is clearing, the trees are MUCH more colorful here than at home, and I get to chill out for a while. My first session is a Warlick one, "Applications for Social Networking Sites in the School Library Media Center"

November 14, 2007

I've arrived...

Pulled into Winston-Salem at about 7:30ish. Dead tired. My roomie isn't here yet so I'm making myself at home.

Here's my room on the 8th floor at the Marriott:



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marriott 002.jpg

marriott 004.jpg


As you can tell, I've claimed a bed already, next to the window. In case I feel like jumping. Actually, mostly becasue there is a sidechair next to it and I will prolly have to read or play with my DS all night. Not exactly a good sleeper in a hotel. I do have an awesome t-shirt pillowcase, though. Mmm, smells like home.

November 13, 2007

Otters in love...

All together now! AWWWWWW!!!!

On a lighter note answers...


Well, as promised, here are the answers to Sunday's silliness.

NaVetAppMo -  National Veterans Appreciation Month

NaGoVotMo - National Go Vote Month

NaNoSmoMo - National No Smoking Month

NaMoSleMo - National More Sleep Month (thanks to daylight savings! w00t!!)

NaTurEatMo - National Turkey Eating Month

NaThaGiMo - National ThanksGiving Month

NaPuPiMo - National Pumpkin Pie Month

NaFluShoMo - National Flu Shot Month (I got mine, did you??)

NaRoBaMo - National Rock Band Month (Woo!! One more week until release!)

NaKatRoMo - National Katamari Rolling Month (Well, this one is for me, since I now have my own 360 and Beautiful Katamari to play on it)

NaRuToMo - National Generic Japanime Spiky Haired Headband Wearing Ninja Wannabe Month  (*snicker* Thanks, T, this was a perfect addition)


OK, that was funnish, though the threat of NaChoPoMo was a ball (no pun intended).

I have to pack tonight because I'm headed out of town tomorrow. I'm going to Chapel Hill for a conference and I will be back on Friday night. Yes, I'm taking the laptop and I may even live blog the event. Hopefully, their wireless reception is better this year than last.

Wish me luck!

November 12, 2007

A member of the club

A couple of weeks ago when T was down, I got an XBox Live Gamertag to play with on his 360.

Yesterday, it became official. I got my Christmas present early. Yup, I am the proud owner of my own 360. I'm officially next-gen.

I spent some time playing Beautiful Katamari tonight, one of the main reasons I wanted this system. I also have Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Forza (both of which came with the system), and Guitar Hero II. I feel as though my passion for gaming is coming back.

I have the best boyfriend.

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November 11, 2007

On a lighter note...

Inspired by one of my absolutely favorite bloggers in the entire world (and she has no idea I'm such a fangirl) ... SJ, who came up with the genius that is NaChoPoMo ... something that my mind does when it's not able to slow down.

November is not just NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) ... it has also been called NaNoBloMo (National Novel Blogging Month) and now NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) ... for your enjoyment, a challenge. Can you figure out what these acronyms (fictional or not) stand for?

NaVetAppMo

NaGoVotMo

NaNoSmoMo

NaMoSleMo

NaTurEatMo

NaThaGiMo

NaPuPiMo

NaFluShoMo

NaRoBaMo

NaKatRoMo

NaRuToMo



Answers to be posted an a day or two. Do you have any to add?

Deeply felt

One of my heroes, Norman Mailer, has passed.

An amazingly intuitive writer, brazen, brash and bold, he was honest in a way that made him enormously unpopular and revered at the same time, often by the same people. I only wish I could someday possess a glimmer of the genius that possessed him until the day he died.

As the article says, beautifully:  "We have only started to miss him."

November 10, 2007

Sweet surprise

Finally, the long weekend at the end of the endless week. I thought it would never get here. Looks like I have lost my assistant permanently to the office. I was so broken at the end of the day yesterday, I left 2 full carts of books to be put up. I just couldn't do it anymore.

The boy is with the sperm donor and the girl is with her friend's grandparents place on the river. I was facing a weekend alone, wondering what I was supposed to do with myself and tempted to just jump in the car and drive until I couldn't anymore. I have plenty I need to do but nothing I want to do and escape sounded like a good plan.

Luckily, T decided on a whim to come down this weekend, since I have Monday off, and we find ourselves alone in the house for the first 24+ hours of his visit. We have an agenda and it includes lots of canoodling, calamari and GH3 co-op. I can't tell you how restorative time with him is. I was feeling physically battered and so tense this week ... just a few hours together has helped me relax already.  Maybe it was watching the fish in the tank at Gilligan's that did it.

Ok, back to my sweetheart. We had a late lunch so we need to get something to eat before bed. Lord knows we have to keep our strength up.


What? GH3 takes a lot out of you!

November 9, 2007

During a storytime discussion...

"Rashaad, back up! You're in my bubble, man!"
-DJ, 1st grader defending his personal space.

November 8, 2007

Way to go, loser

Assemblies went well, except I forgot to plan what I was going to say. Reading the names isn't just reading the names but introducing myself and our school to new parents, as well as explaining just what I'm giving awards for. As I'm not big on public speaking, I felt petty overwhelmed facing that crowd, but we got through it.

The rest of the day went by in a blur. I was alone again and it turns out I'll be alone tomorrow and possibly next week. I don't see a solution, but that's not my job. My job is to serve our students and teachers and I'm doing that to the best of my ability.

Speaking of which, I cataloged another box of books today. I'm tired of waiting for it to get done, tired of tripping over boxes. Pretty tired of it all, really.

After school, we had people on campus to give us our flu shots. Once that was over, I went back to the media center and worked until about 6, when my kids made me drag my butt out of there.

On the way home, they reminded me we needed cat food and milk. We were listening to music and joking, actually having a really pleasant car ride, the first in a long time. When we got to to grocery store, we decided we would get some toppings and sauce for pizza, milk, cat food, salad ... something for dinner tonight and to get us to the weekend when I can actually go shopping. We get to the checkout line and the girl starts emptying the carriage while I get out my purse and open it to find ... no wallet.  I have a check book but the wallet, with my debit card and my license, are not there.

A nauseous feeling washes over me as I realize I have left it at school. I spend the next 10 minutes apologizing to the clerk, to my kids, to anyone that will listen. Flashback to 8 years ago and I'm getting us groceries on a credit card that was no good, run up by a loser (now)x that didn't care if we could pay our bills, as long as he ate well. When the clerk said the card was denied, I slunk out of the store with my tail between my legs, trying to explain to my 6 & 8 year old why we had to leave the groceries there.

While I am worlds away from that, the shame doesn't diminish with time. In one small mistake, I suddenly became the loser I've been trying so hard to prove I'm not.

November 7, 2007

Meltdown

It has been a rough week. My assistant came back today but the bookkeeper is out with a torn ligament in her knee so she got stuck up in the office all day. I found out when she came over the loudspeaker and announced that the media center would be closed during my classes. Just rolled with it.

My classes were over at about 10:30 and one of the teachers came down to let me know that there was a problem with our reading software. The good news was that the problem can be fixed, just some corrupt records in the database and I have a utility that can fix it. The bad news is that the entire school has to get out of the program before I can run the utility.

You think this would be easy but it never is. I usually wait until the end of the day and have the office announce that everyone has to get out off of the network and shut down the computers. Now, that is a bit of overkill but if I don't do that, there will inevitably be at least one teacher that thinks that minimizing the program (or shutting off the monitor) means it is closed.

I emailed the teachers to let them know that we would be shutting down at the end of the day and then the office to ask them to announce at 2 and then again at 2:45 so I could start the utility at 3. 2 came and went, then 2:15, then 2:30 ... I called the office to ask them to announce. Finally, about 2:40, they announced that there was a jewelery party in the media center and a 3rd - 5th grade team meeting in the Conference room.

I called them back to remind them about my announcement and finally, about 2:50, they announced  it. At 3, I tied to launch the program. No dice, someone was still in. I went through the building, room by room, checking each computer. After finding 3 still in the program and shutting them down, I tried to launch again ... no luck. Back to the classrooms, to the other building, every computer I could think of. By this time, it's close to 3:45 and I'm frustrated beyond belief. Finally, in a second grade class, I found the computer ... monitor off, frozen in the program. The class had a substitute and I should have double checked after her.

Feeling stupid, I went back to the media center to get the utility running. Walking by the jewelery 'party', I hear someone exclaim that the tap on the punch jug had fallen off and it was starting to overflow onto the rug. My new rug.  Someone laughed while someone else tried to fix it and all I can hear is something splashing and I want to cry.

Stepping into my office, I shut the door and click the icon. The utility runs no problem. I feel like crying. After a while, I do.


Tomorrow is another day. Assemblies in the morning (I get to call the kids up that passed their reading goals) and flu shot in the afternoon. I will most likely feel like crying tomorrow too.

Christmas shinys...

This just in ... I've found some goodies that I so want on one of my favorite sites.



caffeine_molecule_necklace.jpgThought I've been accused of not being a jewelery person (ok, I'm really not), that is pretty sweet! I wish the chain was longer ... I don't relish the thought of being skewered in the throat by oxygen. If I can find the gorgeous necklaces of F1 racetracks (my personal favorites were Monza and Magny-Cours), I'll post them, too. Yeah, you read that right.

Even more practical for me, though, is this little beauty.

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Just gorgeous. ThinkGeek is amazing.

Of course, there is always the old backup of the Amazon wishlist.

November 6, 2007

Alone and feeling it...

Ok, I said yesterday that I was feeling overwhelmed at work and extremely tired. Mostly that's because my assistant is out of town and I've been flat out crazy-busy at work. Above and beyond that, though, I've been missing having the support of my assistant for a while now.

Since she got the job last year, J and I have become friends. Honestly, when I first met her, she and her husband were co-presidents of the PTA and I was a new Media Coordinator at this school. I knew within a few minutes of talking with her that we would be friends. She just had a familiar way about her and no wonder ... we're both from Massachusetts. She is quick to laugh and, since I use humor to both cover my insecurity and express my real feelings, I quickly found out she is a great foil for me.

When she got the job as my assistant 2 years ago, I was hopeful that we would work well together. She learned pretty quickly and, though she can be ditsy at times, she tried hard to keep up with me. This has been a rough year for her, though, and I'm feeling it at work.

Last spring, after struggling with health problems all year, she found she needed to have surgery over the summer and would not be able to lift anything for 6 weeks. This, of course, meant she couldn't help me at all with packing the media center for the renovation. Why, yes, I did have to have surgery, too, thanks for asking. She did try when we came back to school in August but with new administration, she was pulled more and more to stay up in the office. For much of the year, I've been left alone down in the media center and when she does come down, it's as though she's not sure what she should do anymore.

Her family life has been a big distraction for her too. He husband lost his job suddenly and much, if not all, of her focus has been on keeping him together. 

Maybe its me but when I get to work, I try to forget about life outside school. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to function. J is the exact opposite. She can't function unless she is dealing with her problems, whether or not it is the appropriate time.  Is there an appropriate time to deal with personal problems in a professional  environment?

Anywhoo ...   Her husband for a new job ... in NH ... and he started yesterday. J flew up with him to help him get settled and I'm sure after coming home after midnight tonight, she will be a wreck tomorrow. While she has been gone for the past 2 days, though, I have gone through an awful lot of her work (since I'm stuck at her desk all day) and I hope I have gotten her back on track and laid out enough work for the next week that she won't have to wonder what to do next.  I'm so aggravated with how things are going at work that I don't want to take it out on her and I know I'm going to have to lock myself in my office for a few days before I go to the conference next week.

Oh yeah, live blogging from the conference, bay-bee!

Oh, and I dropped off my resume to central office and I'm waiting to hear back about an interview. Yeah, back where I was 2 years ago. *le sigh*

For a good cause...

Friday afternoon we had a blood drive at our school. Mine was one of 19 pints that we collected. For just an hour of my time, I got the most awesome apron, below:


iluvpunkinpie.JPG It came in a package with a card that had 2 recipes by the amazing Paula Deen, one of which was for, you guessed it ... Pumpkin Pie! You know if it's Paula's recipe, it'll be awesome ... and I'll be making it for Turkey Day. Wearing my apron. Though why they didn't use an actual eye for the I is beyond me.

November 5, 2007

Tired

Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to post something every day for a month. I promised myself when I started that that I wouldn't take any shortcuts but ...here I go ...

<whine>I'm tiiiired!</whine>

Sorry, lemme see if I can rest a bit and elaborate. It was really an overwhelming day.

Thanks for understanding.

November 4, 2007

Torn between two worlds...

I have just finished an extraordinary book and I had to share it with you. As a children's librarian, naturally, I am exposed to more childen's lit than anything else so I spend most o my time reading that. There is more to my attachment, however.

When I was a child, I was alone quite a bit. My brothers and my sister were much older than I was and they had their own, teenage lives to lead. They had friends houses to escape to when the fighting between our parents got too tumultuous. Indeed, it only seemed that on weekends, when my brothers and sister were off with their friends, that my parents would get into the worst of their rows, having come home more than a little tipsy from the bar or one of our neighbors houses.

My mother was always ready for an argument, sensitive and passionate, insecure and always jealous of the attention my handsome father would get.  My father, ever the narcissistic cruel jokester, would goad her on, detailing what this lady or that lady had whispered to him behind my mothers back, amused by her increasing rage. Eventually the slamming doors turned into broken glass and, mercifully, someone would call the police to calm them down.

I would lie in bed alone listening to the escalation, waiting for it to end, grateful for the intervention when it finally came and dreading the day it didn't. In those days, I had a hard time differentiating between shouts and laughter ... to me, the harsh volume of it all sounded threatening.  I would burrow under my covers, clutching the book I had fallen asleep with as protection, as if it were a doorway to another world that I could easily escape to, if only I wished hard enough.

While the storm calmed below, I was left awake. I would turn on the light on my nightstand, open my book, and begin reading. I had several books that I read and reread, touchstones that would ease my mind when I was distressed. The Hundred Dresses by Estes, Tico and the Golden Wings by Lionni, The Little Mermaid by Anderson and, my favorite of all, a collection of Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm. These stories told of a little one, a weak one, an outcast, an outsider, apart from their family, without friends, who imagines great things for themselves in the face of the ugliness of greed and sheer human stupidity.  Through all of these stories, a great love is what sustains them.  Their connection to the earth and their cunning and will to stay alive sets them even further apart from the flawed humans around them yet, they still give int he hopes that these humans will learn from their sacrifice.

To say that I identified with the heroes and heroines of these stories is a massive understatement.

As I grew, I never forgot these stories and, even now, as a teacher, I read them to my students, teaching them that fables and fairy tales have large life lessons for us all to learn. The question that I was always left with, however, is what becomes of the characters in those stories I loved. Do they live happily ever after? How could they, damaged as they were by the horrors they had seen as children. How on earth could Hansel and Gretel grow up to be well adjusted adults, marrying and having children, without being overprotective to the point of smothering, convinced that some nameless threat would come along to lure their children away and devour them?  How did Little Red Riding Hood not grow up to be paranoid, agoraphobic, paralyzed with fear, trapped by the certain knowledge that every creature she met from the moment she escaped the wolf on that she was being lied to and deceived?

Yet every story ends with "...and the evil was banished and they lived on happily ever after."  In my house, I had to believe that was true. I had to have hope to get out.

As I grew older, my need to believe that grew even more desperate, as my damaged childhood led me down a path of abuse and despair. My happily ever after had turned out to be yet another pipedream and I found myself alone in the wilderness, this time with two children to care for and protect. The stakes were higher, the reasons to fight more noble than just selfishness. I had a purpose and I began my long journey which would lead to my own happily ever after.

It's no wonder that when a book offers me the answers to the questions I was left with as a child, I would be drawn to it. Such was the case with Birdwing by Rafe Martin. I remember reading the story of the Six Swans and wondering what happened to the poor 6th son, the one that was never truly turned back to being himself. The description of Birdwing brought that story rushing back to me and immediately caught my imagination:

"Once upon a time,  a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans.  But one boy,  Ardwin,  was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing.  And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father's kingdom, the wing whispered to him of open sky and rushing wind.  Marked by difference,  Ardwin sets out to discover who he is:  bird or boy,  crippled or sound,  cursed or blessed.  But followed by the cold eye of a sorceress and with war rumbling at his kingdom's borders,  Ardwin's path may lead him not to enlightenment,  but into unimaginable danger."


I found this book to be a satisfying conclusion to the Six Swans.  The happily ever after aspects are neither trite not are the easily won. His battles are not only with the one that cursed him but the ones that try to love and heal him. Ardwin is an imperfect hero who, through intuition and sheer will, determines his own future. He takes full responsibility for every choice he makes along the way, even the ones that lead to disaster. When things do go terribly wrong (and they do several times), he is human enough to admit his mistakes and noble enough to try to make things right. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

Now if only someone would write conclusions to Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty that were more realistic, maybe I could begin to believe in happy endings again. Until then, I will continue to question conventions, challenge stereotypes and fight my own childhood dragons.

November 3, 2007

HA!

nablo07.120x90.jpg

Really?

You Are a Pegasus
You are a perfectionist, with an eye for beauty.
You know how to live a good life - and you rarely deviate from your good taste.
While you aren't outgoing, you have excellent social skills.
People both admire you - and feel very comfortable around you.




Interesting. When I was little, probably 4 or 5 since I remember both my brothers and my sister being in the car with me AND both my mom and dad, I saw a red Pegasus lit up in the sky. We were driving by a Mobil gas station and I looked out the window and shouted, "Look, there's a Puh-GAY-sis!" Everyone laughed at me because of how I pronounced it, I was embarrassed but convinced I had seen a real Pegasus.



It wasn't until later that they wondered how I knew what it was.



My mom remembers this almost as clearly as I do because they had no idea I knew what a Pegasus was but she knew I must have read about it because of my phonetic pronunciation. My family didn't know that I would spend hours going through my brothers bookshelves (the same ones that are in my kitchen now, the ones he built in high school), reading his books and looking at his albums. Once my oldest brother left for college and the next oldest left for the Army, I spent all my free time in their room listening to their music, reading and going through their closets looking for things that would remind me of them.



True story.


UPDATE: much better picture.





















From http://www.elftown.com/_Pegasus


Or better yet, the Pegasus of my youth ...


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November 2, 2007

More of the same...

So we are driving home this afternoon and there was a commercial on the radio for a child support collection agency. When they mention that you qualify for their service if you are owed more than $5000 in back child support, I casually say that it's too bad the x only owes us $4000 or I could use that company. Ha ha!

My son, just as casually, says that his dad said he isn't going to pay any more than the court makes him, even if he gets the "new job making a lot of money"  (put in quotes because I am very doubtful that it even exists right now), because he wants to be sure that I don't spend all the child support money on myself.

Immediately, my hackles go up. I'm already in traffic at the end of an 11 hour day which included giving blood, choking down lunch in 5 minutes, teaching 4 classes and checking out close to 500 books. To spare you any more numerical details, I'll just say that the child support he does pay barely pays for groceries every month.  It's not like its enough for me to do anything else with it ... trust me, a trip to the Bahamas is right out. Besides, I'm too busy spending my own money on electricity, phone, DISH, mortgage, car payment, insurance (house, car, health, vision, dental, life AND disability), taxes, doctor bills, clothes, lunch money, school supplies, field trips as well as putting some away every month in a college savings fund. All of which benefits the kids, BTW.

Will I call him on this? Confront him for being so bitter and jealous of me that he has to try to cut me down? Prolly not. I would have to admit that the boy told me of their conversation and that would put the boy in an uncomfortable position. It would also tip the x off that I am getting 'reports' from the kids on what he says and how he acts, which could lead to him not being as open with details, cutting off my only source of intel on the enemy. Not smart.

What I will probably end up doing is taking him to court as soon as he gets that "better paying job", get the payments increased and if he needs proof of my monthly expenses, I have got everything down in black and white and I would be only too happy to cram it down his lying, slanderous throat.

November 1, 2007

Oh, why not...

November is NaNoWriMo, the insanity that we all know as "Write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days". Well, a couple of years ago, I participated in NaNoBlogMo (National Novel Blogging Month) and I wrote my 50,000+ words right here on this blog. As a matter of fact, that is why I started Prosemonkey ... I just ended up liking the style and MT so much more than my last site that I decided to move here permanently.

Anywhooo ... no, I'm not doing NaNoBlogMo this month. I haven't even finished the novel I started the last time. I am, however, going to participate in NaBloPoMo and for a month, I am challenging myself to post something to this blog every day, in accordance with the National Blog Posting Month challenge.

Stay tuned to find out how boring my life actually is.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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