Archive for January, 2008

Well, I did it…had my first solo storytime today. A small sort of accomplishment. Not that I haven’t read stories before…or, for that matter, read them to children at a public program. Still, this was the first on the new job with the head honcho watching over me to see how I did.

No one ran out screaming or in tears (although I almost did after having the “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” song running through my mind….make it stop!)

I wanted to put up a clip of Christopher Walken doing storytime from The Simpsons (where he scares all the kiddies), but couldn’t find it. So, please enjoy this storytime from Monty Python instead:

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So…what’s up with this recent trend in “before you die” literature?! (Let’s call them BYD books).

I see these books at the front of bookstores, mentioned in magazine articles and, most recently, featured in the new books section of my library. January’s issue of the Smithsonian has an article talking about all of this.  Can we blame this on the Boomers, too? It is certainly targeted at a certain demographic and income bracket.

How many of us can afford to visit fabulous but often far, far away places? Here is the description of some events you must do BYD according to one book:

Dog-sledding, Sweden — Aboriginal dreaming, Australia — Crossing the divide, Turkey — Exploring rainforest and reef, Belize — Châteaux and wine-tasting, France — River-running, Zambia — Flying safari, Namibia — Tracking spirit bears, Canada — Fly-fishing and whisky, Scotland — Hiking through Arches, USA — Tasting warrior life, Mongolia — ‘Lost world’ river journey, Venezuela — Himalayan adventure, Nepal — Watching Aida, Italy — Driving Californian surf, USA — Swimming in thermal spas, Iceland — Gambling and glitz, USA — Riding elephants, Nepal — Heli-hiking in the Rockies, Canada — Felucca down the Nile, Egypt — Climbing a volcano, Guatemala — Trekking the Milford Track, New Zealand — Camel trekking, Jordan — Partying at Mardi Gras, USA — Red Sea diving, Egypt — Riding white horses, New Zealand — Walking the wall, China — Discovering wild flowers, Crete — Finding paradise, the Maldives — Souk shopping, Morocco — Following wildebeest, Tanzania — Palace on wheels, India — Trekking Torres del Paine, Chile — Sea-kayaking Baja, Mexico — Rice-boat cruising, India — Skiing the Vallée Blanche, France — Cycling among rice paddies, Vietnam — Festival of the Sahara, Tunisia — Discovering a medieval city, Estonia — Searching for pearls, French Polynesia.

 Shouldn’t that book have been listed as: 1001 Things Millionaires Must do Before They Die ?!

And who has the time (or inclination for that matter) to find the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die useful? (OK, I am making a special exemption for my brother-in-law…but that’s his job to review them, after all). Our library also has these BYD books for albums, gardens, natural wonders, buildings and, of course, books.

And why the 1001 number? What, someone was watching too much of The Price is Right and decided to up the ante by one? (“What’s the highest bid so far? Well, then I bid 1000 and one…ha ha!”)

I will mention that I have been lucky enough to have seen some spectacular places/experiences (mainly on my parent’s dime when I was under eighteen). However, because I like you, I won’t list 1001 of them here:

  1. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon: Forget the congested, tacky South Rim and go to the real deal. Un-freakin-believable! (Hey, I’m a children’s librarian now…I have to wimp cuss). The best thing (apart from snow in the summer and cute squirrels) is the silence. No planes, no traffic or city sounds…just SILENCE.
  2. Zion National Park: because you almost have to go there to get to the North Rim and, again, A-mazing! See great photos of it here.
  3. The Louvre: Yeah, I went but I was 15 and being dragged there by my parents. Needless to say, I was not much of an art appreciator at that time although I do remember that: 1) the Mona Lisa is a very small painting and you can’t get close enough to really see it; 2) there is no way to see all of the art here in one day; 3)we walked a long, long way from the rail station to get there; 4) I whined about all of this (sorry Mom and Dad!)
  4. The Seychelles: World’s best kept secret Eden. I want to live here, walk on the beach and wear muumuus all day! Sigh…I really hope to go back here someday.
  5. The Phyllis Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary in Michigan: Being here on a cold, foggy day and hearing thousands of Sandhill Cranes calling as they flew in to land one fall evening…prehistoric, goosebump awe-inspiring sound!
  6. The Emergence of the Magicicada Brood: A couple of years ago in lower Michigan…Zowie! A most fantastic experience to hear the deafening noise and have hundreds of them flying around you (and I got to see this with my sister, who also appreciates the magic of this insect, too). I’m including a link to this site here simply because it has a very cool clip (scroll to halfway down the page) of an emerging dog day cicada and tons of other links at the end.

OK, I’m done for now…you get the idea.

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How to Grow Tall

(This bizarre and totally irrelevant image brought to you courtesy of www.fromoldbooks.org  I’m guessing they send you a box to stand on 😉

I feel a bit stunted. I’ve been going through librarian basic training this week (“Enter those books, maggot!”) so I have been neglecting the blog. In fact, I am really too tired to write anything coherent (and this is different from my regular blog postings how, you ask…)

Oh, I did get to watch a VERY amusing training video about customer service that starred Dawn French (who is, indeed, ab fab!). The Brits can even make training videos funny. (You can watch some of the funny bits in this 3 minute promo here if you click over on the right side). Apparently, there are also John Cleese training videos, which look quite fun, too.

And, for some French and Saunders fun, enjoy this Lord of the Rings spoof (it’s long…18 minutes..but it does have insects in it…)

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Ugh! The next-to-last day at the old job today. Pretty much uncomfortable for everyone…well, mostly me. They are making it damn easy to leave.

I didn’t want a going away party but some coworkers wanted to have a lunch so I agreed (hey, free food, I mean, heck yeah). And I certainly did not expect anything, as I have only worked there for five years, but I guess it was pretty pathetic that only 3 people ended up at lunch with me. One of them was NOT my boss. She made it pretty clear that she could give a rat’s ass (although… she did buy the Chinese food).

The moral of the story here is that you can be a hard working employee and go the extra mile but in the end when you leave you are the enemy. And once you give your two weeks notice it’s dead man walking: you don’t want to be there and they don’t want the reminder that you are going off someplace better (with kittens, rainbows and pots of gold….wheeee!)

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Big Fish

Took a trip to one of my favorite places: The 577 Foundation

Usually, this is something that just the dog and I do every weekend (girl time!), but we were happy to have Greg along with us this time. The dog is bonkers about the geodesic biodome there (maybe all the rich, oxygenated air?), so we went in to feed the fish. There are some real monster koi in there…about 2 feet long! And, boy are they piggy (wait..can a fish be piggy…) eaters.

bear on bridge     One of the staff says that they have a real problem with people touching the koi. They often inadvertently rub off the protective “slime” or mucus from the scales of the fish which leads to infection on the fish (NOT people, silly) and can cause lesions to form. Lesson #1: Don’t Pet the Fish!

In case you needed a koi ID sheet, you can find one here. Selling and maintaining koi is a big business and they even have plastic surgery for fish:

“Fish diagnostics range from a basic exam ($40), blood work ($60) and X-rays ($55) to the advanced: ultrasound ($175), CAT scans ($250). Veterinarians tube-feed fish. They give fish enemas, fix broken bones with plates and screws, remove impacted eggs, treat scoliosis and even do fish plastic surgery — anything from glass-eye implantation to ”surgical pattern improvement,” with scale transplantation, scale tattooing or unsightly-scale removal.”

You should read the full article…it is truly amazing stuff! What I did not know was that koi are also considered nuisance / invasive species:

Koi have been accidentally or deliberately released into the wild in every continent except Antarctica. They greatly increase the turbidity of the water because they are constantly stirring up the substrate. This makes waterways unattractive, reduces the abundance of aquatic plants, and can render the water unsuitable for swimming or drinking even by livestock. In some countries, koi have caused so much damage to waterways that vast amounts of money and effort have been spent trying to eradicate them, largely unsuccessfully. Because of the danger to the environment koi possession is illegal in many parts of America, South America and Australia.

Good thing these are kept inside in a pond. We also went out to the river overlook and even though it was bitter cold we saw this fellow scurrying along:

possum A Virginia opossum! And quite a robust looking one, too. Generally, the ones we see around here have stumpy tails and mangled ears from loosing bits to frostbite. I used to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center and the joke was: “Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the opossum that it could be done!” If you see roadkill, chances are that it’s a possum…

Should you feel like becoming a card-carrying member of the National Opossum Society (yes, there is one) you can get a snazzy bumper sticker along the lines of “I Brake for Possums” or this fantastic picture only a mother could love.

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