Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book buying and an idea for the new year

This morning, Valerie and I went to one of our fave breakfast spots. She read the paper while I flipped through the latest issue of VOYA. As I perused the book reviews, I commented on some of them. At some point, Valerie said that I was making her want to go to the bookstore. I said that I had been thinking about going to Half-Priced Books to look for a book that I had not been able to find at Bookstop last week. The decision was made immediately; we would stop at Half-Priced on the way home. Being book addicted, we both purchased more than one book.

I bought three books:
  • A $3.00 copy of Infinite Jest in paperback. I've never read any Wallace, but I have read much about his writing since his recent suicide, and I think that I will enjoy his work. For $3.00 I just couldn't pass this up.
  • A like-new hardback of Rushdie's The Enchantress of Florence. I really enjoyed Midnight's Children and Fury.
  • A like-new Modern Library paperback of Middlemarch. After I finish W&P, I think this will be my next big read.
Valerie bought two biographies, John Adams and Einstein: His Life and Universe, which she has been lusting after for a long time now. She was so excited, and so cute in her excitement, when she found the Einstein book in hardback for only $8.00, showing barely any use. I'm excited too because I will learn so much when she reads these books. She loves to share, and I like it when she shares with me!

Now for the idea: I have a reading plan/resolution idea for the new year, but I will write about it later. Now, I think I will get off the computer and watch a show or two that we DVR'd this week. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Fortune

A while back I thought that I should blog my fortune cookie fortunes. I thought it would be fun to pontificate on their meaning or, most likely, lack of meaning.

I got this one tonight: You[r] critical insights can provide the stimulus for change.

I don't know about you, but I think that's a damn good fortune. It sounds like I should be something more powerful than a junior high school librarian. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ike-Induced Vacation Day 9 (The last one!)

I didn't hear until 8:00 last night that I wouldn't be going back to work today, but I am going back tomorrow--no students tomorrow and no definite word that students will be there on Friday. As I said yesterday, I am ready to get back to normal life, which means working.

I'm also ready for the local TV stations to stop the all-Ike, all the time news broadcasting. There are only so many ways that you can tell a story, and now they are just fueling controversy so they can advertise later that they were the station to ask the toughest questions and refute the most myths. They spend less than 5 minutes on a round-up of the national and world news at the end of each hour-long night-time broadcast--it's disgusting!

Really, our economy is failing and our so-called leaders want us to hand over $700 billion to save the greedy bastards who have run our economy into the ground. People need to hear about this news more than about how bad CenterPoint is doing in restoring electricity. Pre-Ike, they said it could take 2-3 weeks to get power fully restored, and it has been less than two weeks. Yes, I'm sure if I was one of the unlucky ones who still didn't have power I might feel differently, but the mostly media created controversy still wouldn't help me get my power back or make me feel less frustrated.

Now, to the $700 billion bailout: I say NO! I don't buy the fear being sold with this story. I do believe that times could get hard, but I don't believe it would be another great depression. (Damn, I had something really pithy to say here, and I totally lost my train of thought. I hate it when that happens!)

Well, I should get up and do something to commemorate my last day of my Ike-induced vacation. Valerie didn't leave me a to-do list or send me a reminder email this morning, but I'm sure there is something I can do today besides sit and read. Of course, sitting and reading is very enticing. :-)

Happy Wednesday! (Btw, I just realized that I said "Happy Monday!" yesterday--see what happens when you don't go to work for 8 days.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ike-Induced Vacation Day 8

I am so ready to go back to work! My school district still has 7 of its 22 schools without power. Yesterday, 8 schools were still without power. I just hope they get more than one school up and running today because, if not, I might be off work for another week. I don't need to be off work after only about 4 weeks back to work (wait a minute, librarians start back a week before teachers who start a week before students so I had been back to work almost 5 weeks--still not enough time to need a vacation especially not one of this duration). I enjoyed my summer vacation, but I was ready to return to work last month.

I do have a short to-do list today and will have lunch with Valerie later, but I'm still basically just reading and watching TV most of the day. Today, though, I will be reading more because I have decided that today is War & Peace day. I will finish this book by the end of the year, but I want to be 200 pages in by the end of the day. I'm stopped on page 143 before I got on the computer. Now after killing some time reading emails, news, and blogs, it's almost time to get ready for lunch. After lunch, I will complete the items on the to-do list and settle in to read some more W&P. Too bad it warmed up again this week. I would love to sit on the patio and read all afternoon, but I will have to settle for sitting by our wall of windows that faces the patio with the a/c keeping me cool. :-)

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some post-Ike rambling

I am a lucky person. I have experienced no significant adverse effects from Hurrican Ike or its aftermath. I realize that it will be a long time before normality returns for many people, but I'm ready for my life to return to normal. As I was at the end of summer vacation, I'm ready to go back to work. I love free days just as much as the next person, but a week of free days this time of year is too much. Hopefully, faculty and staff in my district will be allowed to go back on Monday with students returning on Tuesday. I'm so glad that I am a librarian now instead of a teacher. If I were still a teacher, I know I would be very stressed about instructional time missed.

I have started and stopped several posts since the storm hit almost a week ago. Here are some of the things I started to post:
  • From Monday evening, 9/15: Some thoughts triggered by the constant local news coverage: 1) ABC 13's Art Rascon saying 50 times how he covered the tsunami. Why does he keep reminding us of that? 2) Also on ABC 13, Melanie Lawson is being downright bitchy to the FEMA guy. (I know FEMA is not perfect, but FEMA-bashing should not commence until it has, once again, failed to do well.) 3) On ABC 13's website, included with the photos of storm damage is still clips of their reporters out in the storm. I hate it when reporters try to be the news instead of just reporting it. It's bad enough that we have to watch them constantly trying to make drama out of nothing on the TV but to post photos of your reporters with photos of the very REAL results of the storm is the kind of disgusting self-promotion that makes television news almost too difficult to watch these days. 4) Why do people need gas on Monday? If hardly anyone is working and if people had gassed up before the storm, I can't imagine that many people really needing gas today. 5) Speaking of excessive FEMA bashing - I heard this on the news today: a man called FEMA to report that his house in Galveston was destroyed. He couldn't understand why FEMA hung up on him, but I might have hung up on him too since he had not see the house yet--he evacuated--and didn't own the house but rented it.
  • From Tuesday, 9/16: Although I have lived in a coastal community since the fall of 1992, I have really never been here during a hurricane or even a strong tropical storm. I was in Europe for TS Allison and Rita ended up coming in well to the east of here. I did evacuate in advance of Rita, something I swore that I would never do again. My post-Ike experience has not been so bad that I would change my mind except, perhaps, in the case of a Category 4 or 5. Ike was the strongest Category 2, and it was very widespread, so it might as well have been a Category 3. I could brave a Category 3, but I might have to get in the hallway or a closet instead of sleeping through much of it in my own bed, which is how I rode out most of Ike's worst. :-)

    We got electricity back yesterday morning. We had gone out to look for coffee and a hot breakfast. Instead we stumbled onto a line forming at Whole Foods. The sign said they would open in 1 hour and would sell 2 bags of ice to each customer. The cool temperature and the relatively short line made standing in line much more palatable. By the time the store opened, the line had wrapped around the back of the store. To our delight, the store not only sold us ice but gave us free coffee too. Getting free coffee and our power back was like waking up to the best Christmas morning ever! Ahhh!
I have spent my free days mostly reading and being lazy. I did go volunteer for one afternoon, and I am ashamed to admit that it depressed me so much that I couldn't make myself go back for more. I don't know what I expected, and maybe I'm just too selfish/self-involved to help people.

I finished two books this week, Babylon Rolling, which I might post about later, and Twilight, which I will definitely post a review of on my school library site. For me, neither book was a great read, but I have decided that bad books serve a good purpose for me. They make me want to read something really good and make me appreciate good writing even more.

I guess that's enough rambling for now. I'm going to read while I wait for working people to get off work and meet for Mexican food and margaritas. Hooray for normal Friday evening fun!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Some Sunday Stuff

Don't you just love alliteration! :-)

Wonderful Weekend Weather (More alliteration!)
The weather has been particularly nice this weekend in Houston. Last night, Valerie and I walked with a couple of friends to the park to watch a free modern ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty. I can't remember who said it, but someone said the pleasant temperatures and low humidity did not signify the beginning of fall but the beginning of the end of summer. A perfect description for this time of year in southeast Texas--unfortunately, it could take summer two or three months to end.

The ballet in the park was nice except for the young children who were behind us playing loudly and the drunk women behind us who couldn't control their children or their little dog or their own laughter. I'm not sure why they were there. They certainly were not watching the ballet. All things one must contend with if one wants to take advantage of a free performance on such a nice night. Our friend made a really nice, simple picnic: yummy egg sandwiches, grapes and cantaloupe, cheese, and homemade brownies.

One more thing about the ballet, as I said, it was Sleeping Beauty. Before we arrived at the park, I was trying to recall the story, and I realized that I sometimes confuse it with Snow White. Knowing that Snow White is the beauty who befriends the dwarfs helps me to keep them straight, but I really don't know the story of Sleeping Beauty very well. During the performance, I told Valerie of my lack of knowledge and she said she had the same problem. Later, our friend's husband leaned over and jokingly asked when the dwarfs were coming on. I told him that I didn't know this story that well either. During intermission, it became apparent from our conversations as well as others that I eavesdropped on. Using my phone, I looked up the story on Wikipedia and all of our inferences from the action on stage were accurate to the original story despite it being a modern retelling. Once the second act got underway, Valerie's earlier prediction that an overdose would put her in a coma proved to be right on. We are a very smart group of people indeed. ;-)

I can't emphasize enough how nice the weather has been here this weekend. This morning, Valerie and I sat on our patio and read the paper and books while we drank a pot of coffee. Then we went out for brunch and actually sat outside, two things we haven't done for several months. We really love our patio!

Speaking of Reading
War & Peace is really growing on me. I have finished only Part 1 of Volume 1. I want to read it all the time, but it is just too big to read when I go to bed or to take places with me. It is difficult to remember who all the characters are and what their relationships are, but I have decided that it is only necessary to understand the present of what's happening for now. I trust that eventually I will know enough the characters and their relationships so that I don't have this problem anymore.

I have read almost 200 pages of Twilight, which is essentially a work-read for me. I don't usually read the most popular books because I am an admitted literature snob and tend to find bestsellers to be lacking in depth and good writing. But I decided that as a junior high librarian I should read at least the first book of this series. Before I started reading it, I had read some really negative criticism, especially from the feminist perspective. I decided to read the book anyway and so far, I don't see the things that most of those feminist critics pointed out, but I do see how the main character could become what those critics decried. Still, I am enjoying the book and can definitely see how some readers, especially young girls and women, would be drawn to this book.

Then there's the book club book: Babylon Rolling. All I can say about this book is that it is okay. One thing that I am very confused by is the author's choice of using a first person narrator to tell one character's story while all the other characters' stories are told with a third-person narrator. The choice doesn't make sense to me yet, and I'm beginning to feel like it won't. I feel like the white, female author was attempting to show off her ability or her willingness to write in the voice of an African American drug-dealing teenager. I don't find the voice to be effective or necessary to the story. When I'm finished, I might do some review reading and see what critics think about it. Maybe I'm missing something, but I mostly find the change to be distracting, and I'm not usually bothered by narrator changes. Some of my favorite books utilize this very postmodern convention.

Well, the Astros and the Cowboys are on--both winning at the moment, and I need to do some work, so I guess that's enough stuff for this Sunday. Later.