Kill Your Lawn!

I saw this on Boing Boing awhile back and it stuck with me. It stems from an experience I had while I stayed in Sligo for two weeks. My roomie and I opted for a guest house arrangement with a very wonderful woman who had a garden instead of a lawn, something that seemed to be fairly common in Sligo. It’s funny in a way, because it would be absurdly easy to keep the grass green in Ireland. I’m all for killing my future lawn and replacing it with rocks, perennials, herbs and veggies but the idea is a bit intimidating. There is so much to know about gardening and there’s a lot of upkeep. I suppose a small, urban plot wouldn’t be as daunting. It’s certainly worthwhile though. For one, I’d probably expend less water trying to maintain a garden (especially one comprised of chiefly native plants) instead of perfect green grass. Being able to pick fresh herbs and vegetables needed for a meal is certainly nice too. I probably have too much free time, which I end up wasting on other frivolous and less enriching activities. With food cost climbing, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea, especially since I love playing in the dirt anyway.

I thought I’d post this as an FYI, since the few people who read here seem to share my fondness for neat things (I’m experiencing deja vu, so I’m sure I’ve at least mentioned this before but I’ve probably not expounded on its usefulness). Once a week, I get a feed dump from the Librarians’ Internet Index, a website about useful websites. Diverse topics cover a little of everything: film, parks and recreation, travel, collecting, credit and tax tips, government, green living, astronomy, ecology, animals, to name a few. Sites I found intriguing in this week’s feed include a website for a weekly philosophy radio program, a site that calculates the ‘walkability’ factor for any U.S. address (i.e., ease of living without a car), a website on how to freeze specific foods, and “A big list of sites that teach you how to do stuff.” Nifty, eh?

Do you know what else is nifty? Neil Gaiman is working on a project with Amanda Palmer (of Dresden Dolls fame). Sweet.

LISTENING:
“Outside of the Aviary” Burning Airlines

Still Alive

I’m past the whiny phase of being sick, so it’s probably safe to post again. The flu completely kicked my arse this week. I woke up Saturday feeling fine and by Sunday morning I couldn’t move or eat without being sick. The sinus pressure in my face was so bad that my teeth were throbbing. Now I’m up and about but my lungs feel like lead so I finally went to the walk-in clinic this morning and loaded up on drugs. I should be on the mend. Thanks to Plucky and the parent-creatures for not hanging up on me when I called Sunday practically in tears. Yeah, I’m a huge baby when I get the flu.

Over the past few days, I’ve been distracting myself by reading (New Moon and Eclipse in preparation for Breaking Dawn arriving on my doorstep within days) and discovering the wonders of Hulu. The later is a pretty big deal to a gal who has zero TV. Overall, I’m content without but I do miss catching the occasional episode of The Daily Show or The Office. I was, however, educated on the dangers of Hulu: it can be a huge time waster.

On a whim, I decided to watch Underworld: Evolution. Clearly, the fever had reached my brain. I vaguely remember not hating the first movie but the sequel felt… lost. But hey, I did get to see Kate Beckinsale nekkid. In fact, whenever she’s standing still for an extended period of time, she’s always posing, as if she were doing a centerfold shoot instead of exchanging important plot-moving dialogue. Bad. Director. Why does a heroine, who has an arsenal of cool superpowers and badass moves, need to resort to using her sex as a weapon? Oh right, because the lead looks hot in (and out of) a cat suit. Mea culpa. Sorry to question you, oh wise Hollywood filmmakers. I suppose my reaction also stems from my sense that the love scene felt so out of place. I didn’t see any romantic development between the leads in this dark, stifling film (even a purely carnal attraction I would have bought- although that wasn’t what the filmmakers were going for), so when the film gods cued the music and slowmo, I almost wondered if I had jumped to another movie entirely. Well, film gods, at least you got in that skin shot. I’ll leave the ranting about how vampire and especially werewolf mythology was mangled in this movie to my spouse-creature. I did just see on IMDB that Beckinsale was in a A&E adaptation of Emma. I’m curious to see her in a role that isn’t over-produced in typical Hollywood style.

In other news, my brain age is 33 according to this nifty thinger. Sigh. I don’t use my brain enough, at least not in the way that this tool measures. Hah. Clearly, more TV is the answer!

Senior Wii Sports

Skokie Public Library hosts Senior Wii Sports night. See the Flickr set here. They look like they’re having a good time!

I recently heard that Russell’s 90+ grandmother has discovered the joys of Wikipedia and Google. She could not believe that no one had bought her a computer sooner (even though quite a few family members had previously offered). She’s giddy with the possibilities presented. Gramma Roch is the type of person who craves knowledge and new experiences (the woman is still traveling all over the world). What can her public library do for her?

Libraries aren’t just vaults for musty old books any more, they’re cultural centers. Learning is no longer a lofty, solitary pursuit, in which a person must lock herself in a room full of books for hours. Information is networked. Some of the best learning is happening in groups. And, as anyone who has played Wii Sports can attest, a different type of learning occurs when you use your entire body rather than just your brain and eyes.

Gramma would pwn Wii Tennis.

Originally seen on a post from TWT.

Unexpected Life

When I was little, I wanted nothing more than to be a quadruped and run around in the woods all day. I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian, a writer, a traveler, and a spy. My musician phase lasted quite a while- I dreamed of mastering them all. These days, I’d settle for traditional Irish fiddler. I’m none of those things. My life, in some ways, has been somewhat unexpected. For one, I’m married. I don’t remember that being in the plan. Two: I’m a librarian. Funny, I’ve loved books and libraries all of my life but never did I think, gee, I should be a librarian, at least not until I was almost through my bachelors degree.

I get restless- often. I could, in theory, just leave my present life. I could lock myself up and write a novel. I could cross the waters and learn fiddle from the masters. But wait, my present life isn’t boring (although I’m sure others would find my life pretty dull compared to their standards). I love my family, my friends, and my work. I like my time spent at home (even before staycations became cool- or necessary in this time of recession). So why do I feel unsatisfied at times?

Sometimes I forget: I’m stuck only because I’ve chosen to be so. I own a fiddle. I scribble now and then. I have traveled a bit and do plan to do so in the future- even if it is seeing Bloomington as a tourist whilst raising funds to get over to the UK. Not being a veterinarian I can live with; I could volunteer at the shelter. Being a spy? OK, that’s a pass. I do, however, see much more than people intend for me to see. OK, so it is extremely unlikely that I’ll turn into a four-legger and frolic in the forest. I do however, have plans to write about it.

If I am stuck, it is a choice. I am mine.

Thanks, Jess.

Books and Music

For those who want a discount on books: I got an email from Borders this morning urging me to visit the newly revamped borders.com (they broke off from amazon awhile back). They’ve increased the graphics (it’s a broadband world), made use of bookshelf browse (same idea as LibraryThing only prettier), and put more of their exclusives and interviews front and center. Taking the tour will earn a 40% coupon (good through tomorrow) and a chance to enter a sweepstakes for a $1,000 gift card.

This just in: today is parenthetical commentary day in JenLand.

Of interest to bibliophiles, ABC for Book Collectors (Carter & Barker, 8th ed.) is now available in full online. I bought the 8th ed. for the Descriptive Bibliography class with Joel Silver a few years ago. I’ve used it a number of times since graduating (the only other class-bought text that has earned this honor is a XHTML/CSS book). ABC is a staple reference for book collectors and historians.

DCI update: Crown placed third in the Southwestern Championship in San Antonio behind BD and the Green Machine (1st and 2nd). W00t! Two and half weeks…

Farthest from the Madding Book

Dear Tom,

Why do you do this to me? I wish to read all of your Wessex novels unabridged, truly I do, but you have made it exceedingly difficult to get through Far from the Madding Crowd. It would be one thing if you were one of those verbose authors, typical of 19th century, but that is not you. You, Mr. Hardy, posses a true economy of words. You are capable (when motivated) of conveying much with little. So why do you insist on torturing me?

Oh, right. You were writing for a serial. Alright, I get it; the architecture biz blew and your wanted to make a living publishing novels. Nonetheless, I am close to chucking the book (for the second time) and pretending that your earlier Wessex novels simply do not exist. Let’s be honest, Tom, Tess and Jude are plenty sufficient for the casual literature enthusiast to “get” you. Perhaps I should have just stuck to your poetry, where your heart really seemed to be…

I am more than two-thirds of the way through the novel, so I suppose it only makes sense to press on but I’m warning you, no more funny business with that infuriating Cain kid!

Your biggest fan,
Jen

The plate above is by Helen Paterson Allingham from June 1876 installment of the Cornhill Magazine serialization. This plate and more may be found at The Victorian Web.

And Rambling Ensued

CROWN BEAT THE CADETS.
The Cadets have been on top (or damn near) for the duration of the relatively short time I’ve followed DCI. For a fairly new corp to come along and upset one of the top scoring corps… Well, check out this YouTube user for full shows from Crown, Cadets and Crusaders (placing first, second and fourth respectively at Orlando this past weekend) and see if you agree with the judges. I’m eager to see how this weekend shapes up (Southwestern Championship). How will Crown and the Cadets fare against BD and the Cavies (the later two corps were undefeated until they faced off in Denver)?

I’m always transformed into a state of simultaneous irritation and awe when reading comments (especially those that suggest Crown’s music is easier than that of other corps- sure, OK, you round up a bunch of kids and have them play it). I’ll give the fans this much: they’re dedicated, even if they can be confrontational asshats at times. When I go to these shows, I find something in just about corp that blows me away. I try not to let the hair-splitting and mud-slinging distract me from enjoying an incredible performance from each corp. I have favorites (why can’t I find a recent full show from my Cavies?! I’ve only heard snippets from Samurai. Come ON, people, post those vids!) but every year is a fresh slate for me. Let me see what you can do.

AS.SHATS
I read the word ‘asshats’ on Tammy Pierce’s blog this morning (and her post does highlight some serious as.shattery) and for some bizarre reason, I heard the word pronounced in my head ‘as-shats’ (shat = past tense of shit?). Now I’m semi-obsessed with using that word and pronouncing it- aloud or in my head- incorrectly.

BITE ME (IF YOU’RE COLD, DEAD AND SPARKLING)
I am not ashamed to admit that I am a huge fan of YA fiction (and how could I not after working in a YA department with a bunch of totally cool teens?). I read Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, over Thanksgiving on a strong recommendation and got hooked. I immediately went out and bought New Moon and Eclipse. The series keeps getting compared to the next Harry Potter franchise (especially with a movie adaptation on the way). When I read the books, I didn’t realize how rampant the fanbase already was- otherwise I probably would have passed, just like I did on HP series (until I met Russell). Occasionally, I get sucked into book hype. It happens. On the other hand, I like stepping out of the fandom to analyze the phenomenon. Why ARE these books so popular? Why does every teenage girl (and grown women and mothers) want an undead boy of their very own? A future post perhaps.

I still haven’t seen the trailer on the big screen (I’ve seen two movies since the trailer was released). I have a sick notion that if and when I do, I’ll be compelled to start howling and yelling “Team werewolf!” so that I may enjoy the incensed and utterly ridiculous protestations of vampire-loving fangirls. I love the books too, kids but seriously, it’s just a story (and dog-boys need love too!). Nonetheless, I’m getting psyched about Breaking Dawn.

GREEN MEN
I watched an episode or two (before falling asleep on the warm, comfy spouse-creature) of The Incredible Hulk series. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the tales of the not-so-jolly green giant. I’m biding my time to quote the following:

Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Actions Speak Louder

“Straight talk,” huh? I tried to keep an open mind. I tried to focus solely on McCain’s policies and his past voting record when making judgments. And then this post on Michael Sauer’s blog appeared in my feed reader (thanks, Michael!). Now, not only do I think McCain’s policies are critically flawed, I believe the man’s underhanded means in which he will carry out said policies are a downright danger to this country’s founding principles.

You can take or leave my opinions and MSNBC’s analysis but the implications of this event in terms of transparency, democracy and our most basic freedoms (all of which have already been mutilated by the Bush regime) should be frightening even to the staunchest conservative.

A note to the McCain contingency on effectively repressing ideas and information contrary to the party line: don’t target the LIBRARIAN with the harmless sign.

Information is our business- regardless of whom that information serves. We do not tolerate censorship.

We believe in intellectual freedom. We believe in equal access. We believe in democracy.

You are not fooling anyone. You will not silence truth.

We are watching.