Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Haiku 1

I've never wanted
Any thing
That is the whole point

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Horse Story

I was on the phone with my grandmother.  I was thinking of when I was little and she would take me with her to feed cattle around town back when she was, as far as I was concerned, a professional cowgirl.  In reality I think she was hired by the owners of some vacant lots to take care of tax-break purposed cattle: de-worm the cows, feed them, save the random horse from a mud pit, etc.  She worked daily on the home-base ranch, a fifteen-minute drive south of her suburban home.

I was thinking about all the mornings--it must have only been on weekend mornings, but it fills my memory so much it might as well have happened every day--that we woke up before dawn to make the rounds to several grocery stores for their bakeries’ day-old pastries. We'd throw them into huge black garbage bags, hoist them in the back of my grandmother’s sky blue jeep, and haul the load to the different pastures to feed what seemed like all of the cows in the county. A five-year old doesn’t pay attention to such trivial things as road signs, but I can see the front gate of each place.  The state's major beef export must have been quite sweet in those days with the cows’ blood oozing with cheese Danishes, glazed doughnuts, and pumpernickel bread.  Grandma always let me pick something fresh from the first bakery before we took our loot. I always chose a Long John.

She wanted to know why I was asking about the cattle and I had no good answer.  I just remembered days of horses and cows, traveling to the middle of the state in a giant white Dueley truck attached to a giant white trailer to sell cattle at a small auction house with a little diner attached to it. I wanted the adult facts to complete my childish recounts of getting corndogs at the diner counter and waitresses in light blue polka dotted dresses and pink ruffled aprons would take my order.  Or that could be what happened, mixed with my memory of old episodes of “Rosanne.”  The quaint antiquity of the diner stuck in the fifties, once a comforting and satisfying treat at the end of our long trip north, now seems sticky with twenty-year old grease, the charm disillusioned by facts learned through life.  The diner was gross really; dirty, and filled with ignorant, old countrified white men.  The corndog was probably… well, of unknown origin.

Then there were, of course, the horses. Each one had a completely unique personality, just like people. Heidi was mine. My grandmother bought her for me when I was 6 years old and her name was Kansas. The previous owner said she liked to be called “K” names, but I had just seen the movie, “Heidi,” featuring Shirley Temple, for the first time and I was having none of it. My horse would be named Heidi and that was that. Heidi was previously a barrel racing horse. That means she would be raced in the rodeo arena around 3 barrels with a rider on her in a special configuration as fast as she could. She was a small Quarter horse, plain brown with dark brown mane and tail. I dressed her in purple reins and bridle. I washed her. I rode her. I loved nothing more than to take her on trail rides. Even then I had no interest in going fast; I just liked to take things slow, observe, drink in everything around me. Heidi didn’t seem to mind this. She was very intuitive and in tune with what I wanted and where I wanted to go. She was not haughty like our Black Arabian. She was not stubborn like our golden Palomino. She was like a mother to me, and I was her wild little pony.

Caught in the throws of curious reminiscence and childhood, I felt a strange desire take hold, like oil seeping through the wall, slowly becoming more visible—a wet, black spot, enlarging, but always an amoeba, shapeless.  I asked my Grandma to keep all those poems she wrote that she showed me when I was little.

“Write for me,” I asked. 

“What do you want me to write about?” she asked. 

“Everything. Start from the beginning and don’t stop.” I said.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

APA: a work of non fiction

Good afternoon, reader. How was your day? A threesome, you say? Well, bully for you. Today I had the unique pleasure of helping a student who wanted to know how to cite a source with APA style footnotes. Naturally, like the good librarian that I am, I looked up an APA guide book for him. I got the book from the shelves, handed it to him. He took it, glared at it, and said, "I don't have time for this."

Apparently this scholar, who made it all the way into an institution of higher learning and had been entrusted with the mission of doing scholarly research, did not have time to refer to citation rules. Seeing that I was merely being solicited to act as a human encyclopedia and not having the will to stop my nerdy, nerdy librarian self, I flipped back to the index of the APA reference book to find on which page "footnotes" were talked about. I scrambled to the page, pointed my finger and said, "There."

He begrudgingly took the book from me. I was half expecting him to hand it back and ask me  read it out loud to him as if it were a great Austenian novel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Reader, this was written back in late November 2011, but your librarian is a huge procrastinator. So I apologize, but better late than never:

(spoiler alert) Reader, I never intended for this blog to be a book review blog, but I just finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and out of English-major habit, no sooner after sliding the book into the library drop box did I start sketching out my literary critique of this book as if it were 30% of my grade for a lit class. And then I realized that I have a forum on which, not only can I write, but I can write about whatever the hell I want. So, here it goes.

As usual, this New York Times Best-seller hyped-up story (because I will not deign to call this a novel) was just that: a good story. Now before you get your Superman undies in a knot, hear me out. I am fully aware that this book has been translated from another language to English and, believe you me, I have accounted for this little factoid. My critique lies not in the word choices--like "petrol station" instead of gas station--but in the content and structure of the story itself.

Plot hole: In chapter 11, nowhere does it address the issue that Vanger's generosity to Millenium is unnecessary. If he were going to give Blomkvist devastating evidence about Wennerstrom, then Blomkvist would be able to re-run his story exposing Wennerstrom correctly and regain the paper's success, avoiding the need for Vanger's financial help. He just had to wait it out.

Character breech: If Blomkvist was as skeptical of Vanger in the beginning as the story portrays (and given that he is as good of an investigative report that the story claims), then after he learned that Erika and Vanger had made arrangements behind his back, he would have wondered whether or not Vanger was in cahouts with Wennerstrom, especially considering that Wennerstrom had used a similar tactic to trip Blomkvist up previously. Surely Blomkvist would have thought about the possibility that Vanger might have been pretending to have Blomkvist's and the paper's best interest at heart, meanwhile he was actually taking Blomkvist out of the picture to run the paper into the ground for good.

Character breech: In chapter 8, when Vanger is showing Blomkvist around Hedeby Island, telling him about its inhabitants, he starts explaining Cecilia as shrewd, but on the other hand "...she's one of my relatives for whom I have the highest regard," he tells Blomkvist. Blomkvist replies, "Does that mean that you don't suspect her?" Vanger retreats, "I wouldn't say that. I want you to ponder the matter without any constraints." Later on, in chapter 13, Vanger reverses from trying to keep his opinion out of Blomkvist's research and says, "Cecilia? I don't think she had anything to do with Harriet." Blomkvist pushes on, explaining how Cecilia's closeness to Harriet makes her a possible suspect in his book and Vanger persists, "Mikael, I'm fond of Cecilia. She can be tricky to deal with, but she's ne of the good people in my family." Well, methinks the lady doth protest too much. Although it may have been a device of Larsson's used to steer the reader toward a suspicion of the wrong character (in this case, Cecilia), it comes at a cost of a breech of character for Vanger.

Character breech: In the story, Blomkvist, we learn, has just been burned by the sting of an investigation report gone awry. It does not make sense, therefore, that he should be so absent-minded as to go snooping around a possible serial killer's house in the middle of the night after being shot at earlier that day (by probably the same person) in chapter 23.

Character breech: In chapter 27, Blomkvist is sick with despair about not going public with the "appalling crimes" he had dug out from the Vanger family history. He laments, "He who had lambasted his colleagues for not publishing the truth, here he sat, discussing, negotiating even, the most macabre cover-up he had ever heard of." Just one chapter prior, however, Blomkvist had sat talking with a worried Harriet Vanger about her family's horror stories and had promised, "I'm not thinking of exposing you. I've already breached so many rules of professional conduct in this whole dismal mess that the Journalists Association would undoubtedly expel me if they knew about it." For one so concerned not to misconduct an investigation for the second time, Blomkvist certainly makes a quick turn-around proclaiming truth and justice of reporting in spite of his ill-gotten information AND his promise to Harriet to keep his lips sealed.

Overly flowery and out of place syntax and diction not found anywhere else in the book can be found in chapter 29: "She felt high, as if she had consumed some inappropriate and presumable illegal substance." Not to mention this circumlocutious sentence is out of character for Lizbeth.

Plot hole: In the last chapter it states: "He had not talked to his daughter since [she visited him on Hedeby Island]. He was not a good father." This seemingly important aspect of Blomkvist's character should have been brought up a long time ago to make it have any impact at all... Like at the beginning of the story.

Breech of character: In the last chapter, another emotional epiphany comes out of left field for Lizbeth: "What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst." I say Larsson shouldn't try to describe emotions and should focus more on keeping his characters, well, in character.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FAQs

Good afternoon, reader. Today is the first installment of the Sexy Librarian's: Frequently Asked Questions series.

FAQ #1:
Aren't you afraid Kindle and the iPad and other e-readers are going to make libraries obsolete?

No. I'm actually more afraid of apes rising up in revolt and casting humans into slavery to rule the Earth so that the, now, subordinate species will get a taste of what apes have been victim to for centuries. Which is, of course, slave labor and subprime living conditions. (Actually, I don't ever recall a time when apes were made to do domestic labor or farm work, at least not in the Western world. If overanalyzed enough, one might even say there could be a bit of racism lurking beneath Pierre Boulle's famed Ape-world scenario. Either way, it's a scary thought.)

In all seriousness, though: I am less certain that libraries will become extinct than clothing/department stores will. You can read and download books online now, but you can also shop online. Oftentimes it's cheaper to buy online and many online stores even have free shipping and/or free returns. Yes, you have to wait a bit longer for what you want (which is completely against our American code of ethics), but the convenience of not having to add a shirt and pants to one's tube-sock-and-day-old brief outfit and tromp out of the house, I think, totally makes up for it.

Libraries, on the other hand--while it is true that you can read books online if you are computer literate enough (some people aren't, such as everyone in AARP which just happens to be public libraries' biggest customer base)--are more than just book warehouses. They are social media and information hubs of the community. Public libraries are host to innumerable cultural events revolving around literacy, information literacy, and community interaction. Children's story times, multi-lingual programs, English teaching classes, and technology literacy classes can all be found at many public libraries. Some libraries have added cafes and even little book stores to their stacks. Many people use the library who cannot afford a computer or internet in their home. They come to the library, for which they already pay taxes, to fulfill that need. When hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans, the local libraries were the first things open (with the government right behind. Oh wait...) and people flocked to them to gain their daily news, information, and assistance with how to take the next steps for recovering their old lives. Libraries also store a lot of old shit: many rare and arcane books and materials (photograhs, etc.) that cannot not be found online because no one has digitized them. Without proper care and a home (like the archives or special collections dungeon of your local library--you know, the place that looks like if you go behind a curtain you will fall into Narnia), these important materials might be lost and forgotten like the Great Library of Alexandria.

Furthermore, you know sites like ChaCha and Yahoo! Answers, where you can get answers to your information questions quickly and for free like a librarian would normally do? Well, like Wikipedia, you may be getting a quickie response, but it isn't guaranteed that it is correct or complete. They may provide "cited sources," but for all you know, that "cited source" can be as credible as the KKK national website. Unless you are asking a question about burning crosses, I don't think that's where you want to be getting your information from. Most questions don't need 100% accurate answers, I know. (There are enough idiots in the world to prove that.) But when you do, librarians are the information professionals who were taught and trained to get those answers from credible and trustworthy sources in a timely fashion. They can also teach you how to use any number of computer programs, how to search the internet more effectively, and how to navigate seemingly impossible sites (like all the government websites), normal cell phone fees not applied! It is just as fast as using a texting question-and-answer service. Really! Just go onto your county's library website and click on Ask A Librarian, and bam! You're welcome.

Now, that is not to say I don't think there will be some major changes and structural reformatting of the public library. With new technologies, such as e-readers, libraries have to reevaluate how to stay up-to-date on information technology and cultural trends. I think that we will, eventually, see less books, more computers and internet cafes, and more virtual librarians in the actual library buildings themselves. But I do not fear for the life of the library as a place of information gathering and community learning. Nor do I fear for the need for librarians' unmatched ability to navigate information in the 21st century to bring patrons and researchers the accurate and credible information they need at speeds comparable to using a text question service. You can take our books, but you can never take Our LIBRARIANS!