Friday, December 31, 2004

About a month ago, I read Art Spiegelman's Maus II. This week, I read his In the Shadow of No Towers, which covers not only life in lower Manhattan in the past 3 years, but also touches on comics history.

I've also been enthralled (plot over writing, though) by Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, by David Wright and David Zoby. As a kid, the Outer Banks seemed very remote. We often went in January to select in person a cottage for the summer, and to do some bird watching (I hated the later until I was, like, 20). Even if they got us early from school, the last bit of the drive in the winter dark, with the occasional lit mainland house made the place seem all the more deserted. In th 70s, Nags Head featured maybe 2 restaurants that operated year round, a grocery store, real estate agents, and that New complex of government buildings between the two roads. Some hulking c.1900 buildings - included lifesaving stations - remained, but I could not imagine their world.

Even now, with a reasonably advanced grip on U.S. history and this new text adding to it, that the Outer Banks was a popular place reached easily and frequently by boat seems bizarre. No, I want to say, it was isolated until the 1980s and 1990s brought hulking PoMo McMansions and a WalMart. The Currituck end of the beach, with the remains of a hunt club (refurbished for Events, now, I believe) was privately owned in the 1970s. Even when we borrowed someone's pass it seemed like no where to me. And now I am reading how big the settlement around Currituck Light and the lifesaving station was and how connected those folks were, by boat.

Boating, fishing, and shipping were very hazardous in the late 19th century, thus these lifesaving stations. After one wreck, the authors write of the station staff and Bankers burying the dozens of dead "in the dunes." What!? Those things shift and change! They are covered in houses, now! Do contractors find bones when they sinking pilings?? Perhaps the book will comment on such things. Perhaps when I can vacation again I will go down there and check out the the historic sites.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Find of the day: EphemeraNow. I haven't gotten beyond the ads page -- it's all so swell. I especially like the one the site owner called White Christmas.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

More End of the Year, Cleaning-Generated Reflections
Today I am tossing out a scrap of yellow paper with my grades from about 7th grade, with the following whiny annotations:
gym B don’t like doing activities
English B don’t like ‘cause it’s too easy
Science B like experiments
Home Ec B like eating food / don’t like teacher
math B too hard
History A like people in class

Monday, December 27, 2004

New Year's Cleaning
I usually spend some time at the end of the year thinning my belonginings. It makes it mentally and physically easier to put away gifts. This year's adventures in deaccessioning are accompanied by my folks preparing to sell the house in which we grew up. This afternoon, I brought home a Civic-full of stuff today, less two boxes and the large stuffed dinosaur I won at Kings Dominion (c1978) that I took straight to Goodwill.

Before I go on to anything else, I looked through two boxes of books that I labeled "keep" in 1999. About 8 books made the first cut for keepers. I can see that I kept many of the others for themes that seemed Important, that seemed to say something about what made me who I am today. For example:
  • Magic: The Wizard of Wallaby Wallow; Mr. Moose the Magnificent Magician (a pop-up book)
  • Nature and animals: The Whales Go By, Fred Phelger; The Beaver Pond, Alvin Tresselt; "Fish Head" (about a cat that lives at the docks -- a place completely unknown to my suburban experience)
  • Joke and riddles books
Most of those are going to the Friends book sale. In the Keep pile: Gus Was a Friendly Ghost, Jane Thayer; Stop That Ball, Mike McClintock (an "I Can Read It All By Myself" book).
Christmas Accomplished
My little friend W and The Nephew both got snap-together blocks for Christmas. Alas, neither got genuine Blocko products. Christmas -- my 9 days and counting holiday, in fact -- was been fun and relaxing. Even the marginally-employed can have a good time!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sweet on Slipek
In this item on a family-owned candy business with roots in Richmond, the delightful Mr. Slipek writes, "In Richmond, confectioneries were antebellum 7-Elevens." I said something much less eloquent in describing the role of Mulberry (later Boulevard) Confectionery -- now the Bamboo Cafe -- to someone the other day.

Capital City weather: clear, mid 50s
At Ukrop's: top clerk (Associate?) Michelle's annual give-away of bead jewelry
Got film / pixels?
Top 10 Tips for Great Pictures

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Another great seasonal link: Boing Boing: Scared of Santa. Thanks to Vickie for helping me keep up with the ol' media scanning!
Useful link: Festivus e-cards.

Everyone else is talking about knitting (well Mitch and Maggi, anyway). I finished knitting the nephew's sweater last night at about midnight. Thanks to Alex G for suggesting picking up the stitches for the ribbing by working each one instead of stuffing 200-and-some stitches onto the needles. That was way easier. It's a little untidy, nonethelesss, but there ain't no way I am doing it over. Thanks to Molly for sharing leftovers, I have a lime green ribbon scarf for grandma. I made one eyelash scarf for my aunt and want to whip up one for Mom, too. Time to wrap a few gifts before heading to RPL for a few hours of experience / volunteerism.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Fair Warning: many places we enjoy shopping gave whopping amounts of money to the Republican party this year. If you are the kind of person whose instinct will be to change your shopping patterns, just don't look at Buy Blue Current Campaign

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Capital City Weather
About an hour ago, I got up to unplug the light wheel because wind, thunder, and rain pounded outside. About five minutes ago, I got up to get a drink of water, and through the back window saw snow flying! I pulled on some boots and a hat and dashed out into it: a substantial, fluffy, wet southern snow, blowing and sticking everywhere, making the block's lights extra festive. I had no idea snow was in our forecast anymore, and that makes it all the more wonderful.

By the Way
The 50ish-year old clerk at the ABC store carded me when I bought liquor for the party. She raised her eyebrows and said something like, Wow, good for you; I never would have guessed.

Instead of the Washington Post, the out-of-town papers delivery person threw me a New York Times this morning. As a testament to last night's party, I note that I skimmed the front page, sports, and entertainment sections before I noticed. All of that to draw your attention to this Festivus story (you'll need to register if you haven't before). Will you think I am trying to keep up with the cool kids if I tell you I nearly called this year's party a Festivus Party?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Doyle draws to our attention the release of this year's Richmond bands' Christmas music album: Oilville Christmas Dynasty. His family appears on several tracks: "the Music for Viola song "Black Friday" features Ceci, the artist listed as "Xtopher" is our son Chris, "Jimmy-Jamz" is Jimmy, and Country Sunshine is the band I'm in with Lee. The song labeled "Must Be Santa" is actually "Thunder in the Chimney" by our good friend Greg Garner. Harry Gore does a lovely Byrds-ish tune."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I always wanted to be able write one of those breezy shopping columns in the December issues of the New Yorker. The writers, no longer anonymous, imbue their gift guides with the essence of New York and the traditional tone of the magazine.

But my life isn't that of a breezy New York writer. After a harrowing day with 6th graders and interim report cards, I headed back into town on route 5, into the low winter sun. I passed workers shoring up -- well, is it Fulton Hill on that side? Then came Poe's, some closed bars, the open train station. I took a left on 12th, swung around the fountain in search of parking and back onto Cary -- and took possession of a newly vacated spot just in front of Fountain Books. I prefer to shop at locally owned businesses. And it was on the way home. In the narrow, tall-shelved shop, I picked up a well-reviewed book I wanted for a gift, and took a look around. Most of the hot knitting books are in stock, for the DYIers on your list. I liked the looks of All Things Alice. A diverting table of holiday gift books ranged from Nick Wood's 360 degree picture books to (in the under $8 range) The Little Book of Christmas Stress.

At the antiques store one door west, none of the things I liked best had a price tag on it. There's lots of silver, some glass and porcelain. Of the little mid-century in stock a few things are notable. For drinkers in a traditional relationship (or with a fine sense of irony), I suggest the cocktail shaker marked "ours" with it's male silhouette glass marked "mine" and female figure marked "yours." Also making use of the silhouette technique are some of those 1930s-40s pictures that often bear the name of your bank or butcher. A great one with the skiier on the glass was backed by simple snow-covered fir trees in muted 40s colors.

As I got into my car, I thought I heard my name. I glanced around quickly, not because I think Shockoe Slip at 4 p.m. is dangerous, but because I feared responding to someone talking into a cell phone and not to me. P is persistent, though, and eventually got my attention and dragged me across the street to the combined Museums Shop. Here I found a multitude of things to recommend to you. Pretty scarves, handsome serving dishes with landmark Richmond buildings, plush cardinals that sing, and even packets of astronaut ice cream can surely find a place on your gift list. For $10 the julep - er, tea - drinker, in your life gets a small kit for growing and brewing mint tea: seeds, cups, fabric tea bag.

On the Muzak at Ukrop's: Five for Fighting's "100 Years"

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Fine Print
A Washington Post tech columnist gave Microsoft's new blogging program a try and noted that it censors the poster's language. Microsoft folks said that users consent to language and image censoring when signing up. Yes, you do need to skim those things before checking "Agree."

I put up the aluminum tree last night! The last year or two, I looked at the bent branches in their box and said, Well this may be the last year for this old thing. I put on three or four branches, and groan. But when every branch is in place -- wheee! It's shiny and happy. Do come by and visit it.

Capital City weather: 32 degrees at 7:30 a.m. Ick.

Monday, December 13, 2004

New link to A Painting a Day.

At School Today: A thin version of A Christmas Carol, in play format. Such a dramatic little plot, lost on the ear of those unable to sit and listen. I tried pausing at key bits (Tiny Tim in church) and asking, What just happened there.

One of my favorite parts of this weekend's trip to Maryland was driving with C through her suburb, listening to Bing Crosby and looking at light displays (moving deer! flamingoes!). Who knew she could sing "Christmas in Killarney" so well?

Friday, December 10, 2004

The title is Goochland Fog, but this painting-a-day work by a Richmonder (link from boingboing) captures the blurriness of the whole metro area this morning. In the middle of the night, we had thunderstorms.

On Wednesday, I went to happy hour at the nearly renovated American Heritage Place building at 10th and Main. Yes, fabulous location and views. Yes, the best apartments were nice, but many details fell short. Perhaps the workers rushed to be ready for tonight, but many details disapointed: a broken window, paint on windows, and sloppy finishing. Also, the odd patching of the floors bothered me. Some of the damaged wood had been left for Character, I am sure, but much of it was so icky, I didn't see the point. For instance, the lake-shaped dark spots under two west-facing windows suggested it had rained in for a while. Here's the building as a bank.

After school today (more civics), I put myself through the annual paces of making spritz cookies. I used 4.5 cups of flour, 3 sticks of butter, and 4 bowls. Baking went quickly, but the mess is intimidating, and I am fast fading.

Tomorrow: Dan's party!

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Late this summer, I noticed that a tomato plant sprouted in my compost pile. A few nights ago I ate the first two grape tomatoes off the plant, and today I harvested two more. They are pretty orange, still, but I'm afraid a sudden frost will get them. I know, it was 68 yesterday, but still.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I think I knew this site, before, but a new friend brought it to my attention again: "The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."

Monday, December 06, 2004


"The Look," is a section in the Sunday Washington Post that uses the man-in-the-street format to highlight a current trend. Generally, the trend featured appears in Richmond at about the same time. This week's feature, though, addresses something the boys at R Middle School (in the east end of the county) have been sporting since at least September: giant, faux diamond earrings.

Here's what the Post (and experts it interviewed) says to those boys, and the dozen or so who haven't got some, yet:

  • "'A big mistake is to adopt a look that does not fit your lifestyle.'"
  • "If you don't work in a creative field, it's best to reserve bigger, flashier earrings for special occasions." Is school a creative field?
  • Wearing diamond studs "with a pendant plus ring plus a bracelet is way too much" Unless I missed the ear studs, Cologne Boy was okay.
  • Wear them with confidence. I would call it "bravado", but, okay, that's a match.

Today at school: I had a favorite former co-worker's daughter! It only took me 1/2 an hour to consider that not many kids have that name, these days, and figure it all out.
Note to self: Even in the name of being a Team Player, don't take a math class again!
Capital City weather: grey, 50s

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I hope this link will stay live for a while: Mom drew National Cookie Day (Dec. 4) to my attention. I baked 2 batches of Christmas cookies this weekend, so I am right on target.

Today, a new aquaintance remarked, "Maryland recently made the calico the state cat"! Excellent. Catly and I may have to move again, after all. (By my count, this is her 7th home in her approximately 15 years, not counting a 3-month stay with Mom.)

On the way to the place where I met the new friend, I passed through Shockoe Bottom, reminding me that I may never have noted here that someone told me that Lovings Produce lost all of its beautiful, candy-colored delivery trucks. Since then, I have seen one or two old ones (they must have been out late that evening), and many shiny, new ones, still candy-colored. A cheerful selection were parked by the market this morning as I wound my way toward Route 5. That trip also afforded me a chance to glance again at the hunks of Richmond's Hills that just slid away during Gaston's rains, and the interesting mid-20th century suburbanish houses in farm territory.

Favorite new float in Christmas Parade
: James River Bus's Shriner-style mini bus

Capital City weather
: bright, low-slanted winter sun, 60 degrees

Friday, December 03, 2004

Advent Calendar 2004: a mixed bag of cool graphics and animation, festive ideas, and seasonal memories.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Seventh Grade
Today I got to analyze "I'm Nobody!" with middle schoolers. That's right: Emily, me, and about 60 twelve-year-olds. We talked about the pros and cons of fame (with "stalkers" coming up ever block as a con: o, sad world), rhyme and rhythm, what "livelong" means, and what the bog symbolizes. I mentioned that Emily and I went to the same college just to see them struggle to figure out when she lived and if I could be that old. . . .

Eternal Question
As you know if you were watching CBS last night, it is that time of year when we ask the persistent question: What is wrong with the doll? (Search for "doll" on that page, and also for "peppermint" for an interesting note about a cut scene.)

The only thing I miss about Main Street Brewery is the fabulous lights they put in the trees on Main. "Uptown"/Candyland is bright with white lights, but Mr. Taylor on Davis has only put up some blue ones so far.

Capital City weather: clear and 50ish

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanks, as they say, to an alert reader for drawing my attention to this adventure flick: TNT Originals: The Librarian.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"When the new Congress convenes in January, its fifty-five Republicans will be there on account of the votes of 57.6 million people, while the forty-four Democrats and one independent will be there on account of the votes of 59.6 million people." - Hendrick Hertzberg, The New Yorker, 11/15/04

Two Appearances by Sean Connery
At G. High School, the students read their novels (Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice) or had study hall time. A couple of kids had make up tests, too. Out of 20 vocabulary words, I missed one: ductility, the ability to be molded or shaped.

Both G. and H. High Schools filled a good bit of time with movies. The VCR (and DVD) have banished the darling filmstrips of our youth, as well as the occasional rented 16 mm movies shown in the multipurpose room. In two days, I saw Sean Connery twice. Once, as King Arthur in the very tepid First Knight and once in the very nice Finding Forrester. Alas, we didn't make it to the end of the latter and I don't recall how it ends. Somehow, we got in all of The Color Purple. Oh, I think it was lunch block. To complement the "medieval" theme and the bad movie theme, I also endured a crappy early 90s version of the Robin Hood story.

If Jesse and Greg would quit calling from the studio, I could make more of a story of this movie marathon. . . .

Monday, November 22, 2004

Dept. of "It Coulda Been Worse"

Behold the Washington Nationals.

I like driving out to R Middle School. It's on the rural edge of Henrico County, so I pass strip malls, then wooded areas (still pretty, in reds and yellow), and finally swing into a parking lot across from a corn field (harvested weeks ago). As I drove back into town this afternoon, I spotted the first truckload of Christmas trees, waiting to be arranged for sale.

Today, some boys set fire to a trash can in the boy's room (actually, it's marked "Gentlemen"), so we stood outside for 40 minutes or so in the 50 degree damp. I wished I had grabbed my sweater. The real plan today involved a test on energy (kinetic, potential, etc.) and some of those handouts -- you remember! -- in which solving math problems leads you to the correct order for connecting dots (marked 88, 105, 73 -- not in order) to reveal. . . . a turkey on a platter! Whee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A pretty good article from a year ago on 21st century library service and (not quite "vs") Google that those of you with library school comps in your future might want to read.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Shout out to Carrie, Dan, Brian J for the weekend's hospitality! At the market, I liked the cookies. At the Pratt Library, I liked the new space. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, I liked the Lalique hood ornaments, the Won't paining, and the works by Rosalie Gill. Carrie became interested, briefly, in the Dutch, despite not knowing much about their land. On Sunday, I liked catching up with B & J at the Tastee Diner.

At today's high school: A dense collage (years in the making, surely) of 4-leaf clovers suspended in scotch tape on the top of the lectern. Also, many depressing displays of the chasm between the sexes and the races; a gap that has not been as wide, elsewhere.

Capital City weather: clear and 60 degrees

Shopping News: John's new book is due out in the new year

Friday, November 12, 2004

More goodness from the people at the NYer: Boing Boing: Malcolm Gladwell talks about why opinions are often useless
"Everywhere Should Be More Like New York"

That's the subtitle of a New Yorker article by David Owen (10/18 issue) that shows how Manhattanites are easier on the environment than people living in the country or suburbs. People who live in major cities enjoy the utilities-saving benefits of shared walls, use far less gasoline, and don't throw chemicals all over the earth in the name of lawn maintenance.

Owen draws our attention to one or two of Washington's failings, including the way Metro keeps growing out into the 'burbs, so people can maintain a single-family home, car-driving for-every-errand lifestyle, but still take public transportation to work. I can attest to that; I've seen Springfield, Va.

Yet, there is a "powerful anti-city bias [to] American environmentalism." Consider, Owen writes, the use of "urbanization" to describe the suburban sprawl of the West Broad Streets of this country.

He also asks us to consider recycling: a break-even proposition that can often use more fossil fuel in the reprocessing process. "By far the worst damage we Americans do to the planet arises not from the newspapers we throw away but from the eight hundred and fifty million or so gallons of oil we consume every day," Owen states, launching into a brief recap of the we're-almost-out-of-oil facts.

Richmond is very minor league city. On occasion, though, I can go a day or two without driving, yet still go to work / volunteer commitments, shop, see a movie, or visit a museum. I live in a row house with ivy in the front yard and mulch and plants and a fishpond in the back. Even when I admire dream houses, I find it hard to appreciate ones with more lawn than I could trim with, like, a pair of scissors.

Capital City weather: Rain.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

NotMartha always finds the good stuff: Thanksgiving dinner from Jones Soda Co. and "a hint of traditional holiday spicy flavors" in your Pepsi.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

For an outstanding collection of 50s-70s art, packaging, and snapshots, visit Tick Tock Toys - Archives & Galleries.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Calooh! Callay!
Jabberwocky Translated into Africaans, Esperanto, Yiddish, and other languages.

At School
So this one boy comes into class late, drops his bright blue bag on the floor and sets a substantial bottle of cologne on the desk. My job as an instructional assistant today was to take a few students to another classroom so they could take their tests away from the others. When I returned from that duty, Mr. Cologne was at the teacher's desk and I had a chance to see his full outfit. He had on a flashy ring, baggy jeans, basketball sneakers, and a cable-knit sweater. Over the sweater he wore a leather (?) belt with a medium-sized metal buckle. Girls in my high school wore belted sweaters (usually papagallo belts or metal belts) twenty years ago.

These sorts of things happen all the time. Boys seem to be wearing things that look feminine or out of style to me. With their baggy pants, though, it's the gesture that seems ladylike: to facilitate actual walking, the guys gather up their pants (at thigh height, usually) rather the way women gather up long skirts to go up stairs. Now on the one hand, I believe in tearing down gender stereotypes: girls should be allowed to wear pants in public, play sports, and run for political office. Boys should think about growing up to be teachers and nurses (or even librarians), and know how to cook. So shouldn't boys also wear pink or belted sweaters and gather up their voluminous skirt/pants when walking?

One of the things noted at tonight's VYA meeting: the Valentine Richmond History Center's new website. You'll find a frequent Capital City Desk reader here, sporting a smart hat.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Shout out to the Coskis who included me in a field trip up to Ashland to watch "Casablanca" at the Ashland Theater (picture; better text, here. I'd call it Streamlined Moderne over Deco.) The show was a benefit for the Hanover County Humane Society. It turns out that the current set up at the theater is a jumbotron DVD player. Once they got all the lights off, the movie's magic made that okay.

The theater itself is quiet skinny; about as narrow as many modern movie theaters, but it goes much further back. It enjoys the mixed blessings of having been in use for most of its 50-some years. In the plus column: it stands, it's usable; the back-lit silhouette signs for the restrooms, and the wall tiles in the ladies' room, seem original. The seats seemed old, but are much further apart than any other older theater I've ever been to. Under the heading of "disappointing": the 1970s brown title on the bathroom floor, some odd dropped ceilings, a strangely plain lobby, late 1990s "deco" light fixtures. The new "deco" carpet and fresh paint, combined with a well-scrubbed feel bode well, though. A spot of peeled paint and damp in the theater itself suggests that, like so many of us, this ultra-rainy two years gave the owners roof troubles. (Sorry, quick Google and Kartoo searches don't tell me who owns it.)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I updated my other Capital City website with info about this weekend's Open House Sale at the antiques mall (click Urquhart's Place) and some of the text we used for the Church Hill Tunnel Macabre at the Valentine Museum (click Richmond, then History).

Thursday, November 04, 2004

But is it art? Boing Boing: Balloon-based haunted house. Sure. It certainly complements the book-built room.

High School
I'll be back at H High's library today; and there on Friday for French class. The drawback of repeat visits is that I have to think about what I wear. When I go somewhere different every day, I can just pull on one of a couple of interchangable outfits. The nice thing about repeat visits is that faculty may try to get to know me (with more or less probing than I might consider polite); that I get to know the students.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

To re-use my word from yesterday: why the heck are people so mesmerized by Bush that they voted for the dufus? Are there more zillionaires than I realized, and they all look forward to the tax cuts? People think a gum-chewing faux-Texan who often seems spaced out is a good representative of our country on the world stage?!

I am very annoyed.

And not because I waited for over an hour to vote at my new polling place. That was not a problem. The poll workers at Randolph Community Center were polite and helpful. The voters weren't too chatty, but they were a steadfast cross-section of Richmond, committed to voting. Black, white, and even Asian people voted, in this, a part of town that looks mostly black, at a glance. I was there from a little before 10 to a little after 11. Lots of members of the under-25 set stood with me. I could tell their age by the tattoos and piercings; the messenger bags and cell phones; the college texts they pretended to read while in line. Surprisingly, only one NextGen talked on her phone at any length. She did say loudly into her phone, "Yeah, what the f*** was up with that?" The whole anteroom (where the line had snaked) turned on her with raised eyebrows -- or amusement. She did apologize profusely. The people with children, and the oldest folks, in our line segment were back in the big room at that time. As a I walked out, a man in an official City polo shirt, with an official name badge bustled in saying, "Oh, we need another machine here."

Too bad I spent all that time to have only one of my men win (Governor Doug, as I like to call him; though I guess I need to switch to Mr. Mayor.

Thanks to Maggi for the evening of political S&B'ing.

[I wrote this item this morning, but Blogger's been a bit backed up. . . .]

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


In the October 11 issue of The New Yorker, John Cassidy writes about the recent history of the US's dependence on oil. I need to go vote, so please accept some bullets and not a narrative summary:

  • November 1973, Pres. Nixon: "'Let us set as our national goal, in the spirit of Apollo, with the determination of the Manhattan Project, that by the end of this decade we will have developed the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy source.'"
  • A statistical report written in 2003 reveals that "if the United States were forced to rely on its own resources, it would run out of oil in four years and three months."
  • "some geologists believe that global production [of oil] is about to start falling."
  • 1980, Carter Doctrine: "'Any attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf Region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America...."
  • an Amherst College professor writes, "'From the vantage of officers and enlisted personnel in the U.S. Central Command, the invasion of Iraq is only the latest in a series of military engagements in the Gulf proceeding from the Carter Doctrine.'"
  • Cars and trucks (which is how most SUVs are classified) are not very fuel-efficient; political sides; investing in research: bottom line?: "'The public is really not up to speed on energy issues.'"
  • "Many Americans also appear to believe that they are entitled to cheap fuel, regardless of how much they consume."
  • "Between 1976 and 1985, when gasoline prices were high, drivers switched to to smaller, less wasteful cars, and oil consumption fell by ten per cent. Once oil prices slipped back, Americans returned to their beloved gas-guzzlers. Between 1985 and 2000, the demand for oil rose by almost twenty-five percent."
  • "Americans prefer low prices at the pumps even if they have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to support a U.S. military presence in the Middle East."

    Much of that troubles me, but in some ways, the last point worries me the most. How can people be mesmerized so much by gas prices under two bucks that they don't notice the price tags, in dollars and lives, on war in the Middle East?
  • This January Term, MIT students created an exhibition called Building With Books! They used old books to make furniture for a room.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Halloween, Continued
    For Saturday's party, we were to dress as What we wanted to be when we grew up. In attendance:

    • Jenny, as Brooke Shields
    • Steph, as John Macenroe (sp?)
    • Jesse, as a mind-blowing Freddie Mercury-as-Flash Gordon
    • Greg, as Mozart

    On Sunday, I caught up with the sibling and nephew (and dog) for a really long walk in the park. A sunny, 80-degree walk through the leaves, up the hills. Whew. I also did all kinds of crazy household projects, like scrubbing the mildew off the outside woodwork. I had just enough time to carve a simple jack-o-lantern before the first of 20 or so kids arrived.

    Get Out the Vote
    On my answering machine when I came home from school, messages from:

    • Doug Wilder, asking me to vote for him for mayor
    • Senator Lambert, urging me to vote for Marty Jewell for city council
    • Al Gore, urging me to vote Democratic

    Sunday, October 31, 2004

    Happy Halloween!

    Nineteen trick-or-treaters, so far! Seventy-three degrees at the moment! And, what's this? The "X-Files" movie on Fox? What geek bliss!

    Saturday, October 30, 2004


    The CDs in the new New Yorker cartoon book are about as searchable as anything in Adobe Acrobat is. I thought I would spend some time in my birth year. I am not even out of January, 1966, and I want to start a list of surprising things that come up:

    • a computer-systems analyist
    • Bill Moyers
    • vidoe-tape replay

    Some cartoons emphasize the gulf between then and now:

    • the couple trying to get the color on their TV adjusted so both Huntley and Brinkley look right
    • the future people living on the moon [sure, we have cell phones, but where are our jet packs and moon colonies??]

    Thursday, October 28, 2004

    Although taking the positions called Instructional Assistant, Special Education is not usually my first choice of a way to spend the day, I thought it might be a good choice for the day following the amazing end of the World Series. (That link is to the Globe's front page - I think it won't stay live past today.) I wasn't necessarily alert enough to be completely in charge. Today, I sat behind one boy while he took a test; I went to their class party; I sat next to another boy while he pounded a keyboard -- er, took keyboarding class.

    During the block I had off, I found two cool librarians, one a CUA grad I met previously at a function. This week, they began a team-teaching lesson with some PE teachers: find and read three books about sports. The kids need to read one bio, one fiction book, one non-fiction book. I helped by doing an OPAC search for "sports fiction," "soccer fiction," "basketball fiction," etc, and putting the books I found on a cart. Then, once the kids started tearing around the library, I helped several figure out the difference between fiction and non-fiction books. One boy remembered long enough to turn around and explain it to his buddy. That was cool.

    I fell prey to my bookclub's free shipping offer and treated myself to The New Yorker's new cartoon collection. They boast -- they hope -- that thanks to the inclusion of two CD-ROMs that it is a complete collection. I am very, very happy to have it. It's pretty; it's funny; it's cultural history, at a glance. I have yet to answer the first question that came to mind when I saw the disks: How searchable are these caroons? Can I look for Roz Chast and cats, say? I'll get back to you.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2004

    In General
    If the teacher's desk and room are messy, a sub won't find a lesson plan or seating chart. Snippets of lessons began to materialize, yesterday, but I kind of jumbled them, possibly leaving her first-block kids behind in their work. Oops.

    Capital City weather: after several cool, gray days, today will be almost 70 and clear. My reaction to such a treat? "Rats, I wanted to wear my wool suit to the interview."
    On the muzac at Ukrop's: "Safety Dance" (Going to the Carytown 'krops after school yesterday reminded me how great it had been going first thing in the morning. I don't like crowds.)

    Sunday, October 24, 2004

    This odd product receives wireless signals and turns colors based on the info it gets.

    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    Easy as Pie

    Today, I taught history at a brand new high school. I think it's on top of the hunt club where I used to go to horse shows. At least, it has the same name, and, on the way in, I saw nothing but new, planned communities.

    You know, if I don't spend the whole block saying, "Daquan sit down" or "Brittenay stop talking," I don't learn the kids' names. In fact, I hardly got to say anything, as their work was to copy notes from the overhead, then read some and answer questions -- and they did it. I had to repeat the directions maybe 4 times, but other places, I usually do it 20. These west enders are better readers than students at RMS. Not one 9th grader called me over to say, "I can find the answer to this," so that I had to say, "Well, skim the headings and see if you see those [exact! same!] words." I was nearly bored. Luckily, honors US History (20th Century!) was at WWI, so I injected a little Red Sox conversation. They knew that in the 19teens people followed their favorite teams by reading the paper and listening to radio.

    At the school's library, they were glad to have me shelve about 10 books for them, but that was it. The librarian was co-teaching something, so I couldn't ask her if she got to help select titles and what that was like.

    It was just too easy a day. Perhaps tomorrow will balance it out: 6th grade at RMS was my best choice on SubFinder.

    Capital City weather: drizzle, 50

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004


    Is it wrong to value sitting still? Am I forcing on them some old-fashioned values? Surely I don't expect them to sit up straight, hands in lap, and recite verses they've memorized? But, can a Real Teacher teach with students drifting around the room? I know that they go to the clinic, need water, tap pencils, and the like because I am a sub -- to see what they can get away with. But something about the way students in so many classes get up and down all block suggests it is everyday activity. They check in with friends, get a tissue, get a book (because of Henrico's iBooks, students keep a set of all books at home, and a shared set may be found - often at the back of the room - in each classroom), sharpen a pencil, or throw something away.

    Listing those complaints like that makes me think, yes, those kids are just trying to be annoying. But when I listen to myself in class getting cartoonishly shrill (Kids? People? Hey. Siddown. Sit. Be quiet. Listen.), I feel hopelessly old-fashioned. Or, just old?

    On a positive note, an older teacher who is always friendly at RMS pointed out Ms F, for whom I filled in on Friday. "Thanks," Ms F said, "for your notes. Sometimes, I can't figure out what happened while I was gone." I actually asked Dan when he breezed through Capital City on Sunday about how regular teachers view subs. Most regular teachers are even less interested in being welcoming, or even courteous, to me than regular office workers are to a temp. Dan noted that he finds his students more wound up than usual when he's been out, and that they often don't seem to have done anything.

    Capital City weather: Drizzly, 50s.
    Calendar: Found Magazine at Chop Suey Books on Friday; VYA's
    Macabre event on Tuesday.

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    Odd Lots

    I have lots of little tidbits in the back of my mind I have been wanting to share.

    Like, the story Mom told me about sitting on the sofa of her Chesterfield County home, minding her own business, when a car pulled into the drive and stopped at the front door (you've got it: Everyone comes in the back). A nicely dressed old lady got out, walked up the front walk, and rang the bell. She came calling to ask if Mom would put a Bush for Pres sign on her property. Mom (who will tell people pushing the local paper, Quit calling me to push that right-wing rag) was so startled she meekly said, Oh. No thanks.

    Like, how the Gray Fox and I met at WorldCup's new place (sunny, bigger) so she could tell me about the family trip to NYC. Details she shared: taking the kids to a Mars-themed restaurant (cover charge!) so transparently dorky even the boys made better jokes than the staff; how thin NYers are; and going to Toys-R-Us in Times Square where little C did not want to ride the Ferris wheel - so naturally after a long wait in line, they got they Barbie-themed car, just to rub salt in his wounds.

    Like, how riveting I found this week's This American Life, "Two Steps Back." It's about teaching and what happens, and how it feels, when a supportive administration leaves.

    Like, what I have been reading: junk. But it's time to go to work. . . .

    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    At RMS, a school I do like, I had to go to an hour-and-a-half long 7th grade pep rally on Friday. Boys swimming in football jerseys and oversized street pants doing a dance/football moves thing (if you know you are going to need both hands to cacth, why would you wear the pants that you need a free hand to hold up?). Girls in ill-fitting maroon polyester cheerleading outfits. (Don't get worked up, guys: too big, mostly. The straight, nearly-to-the-knee skirts had a single pleat, or vent, that was white. Because, I imagine, of too-big waist bands, the bright pleat wandered to a different place on each girl. Very unfortunate.) Between cheering, booing (the tennis team, poor things), a pep band (pretty good)and the D.J., it was loud as hell. I exercised the right I did not have at 12: I snuck out.

    Luckily, the students in the honors class I had for a double block of social studies and civics were not the kind of young people to run wild because of such a distraction. They had a ton of worksheets which I broke up with a few conversations on robber barons, the Gilded Age, philanthropy, etc. Ryan made my day by mentioning Rockefeller Center, after I introduced the topic of buildings named for these guys. I was thinking of my freshman year dorm.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    My polling place changed! I even called to double check this website. Save yourself frustration and look into it, here
    The author of this Wired article,Wired 12.10: Point. Shoot. Kiss It Good-Bye, spends so much time inaccurately describing old photos as "yellowing," or merely "dusty," that he misses the huge problem of migrating all those swell digital images of his. It is a good piece on naming and organizing, but he's way too in-the-moment to consider whether he or his decendants will be able to view digital pictures Aunt Rose -- or the President -- in 50 or 100 years.

    I can't say it often enough: Friends, if you want a picture to last (family portraits, Baby, graduation) take it with film and have it printed someplace nice (Richmond Camera; not CVS). Best of all, take it in black and white. The inks and papers used to print digital images have not yet been tested for longevity.

    [I plan to look for a few links for y'all to back this up; gotta run, now.]

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004

    I wrote about the WRVA Collection at the State Library several months ago, but I just learned that audio clips are available online.
    An interesting bit of Simpsons gossip here. I have found the past few seasons to be weak, and perhaps too-short scenes are part of it. I also find Homer less the lovable bumbler and more the icky, unpleasant idiot.

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    I think I did it. I switched to Mozilla's Firefox browser. After only 10 minutes, the only apparent drawback is the loss of the Google tool bar (it only works with Explorer). But then again, Firefox blocks pop ups and provides a Google box; plus, I added a Blogger shortcut button myself -- so maybe there is no need. Oh, maybe I should restart the computer, to be sure I really did this right.

    Sunday, October 10, 2004

    Friday: I subbed at an elementary school library that seems to have been without a librarian since the beginning of the school year. I got a great favor out of a new VM staffer. I attended Friends, Board, Foundation preview function for the city library rededication. An interesting crowd, with a number of folks I was surprised and delighted to see. There was also sadness for the absence of the late Pat M., for whom the fabulous children's room is now named; and some tension over whatever happened that leaves us without a city librarian.

    Saturday: I helped set up for the library events, and stayed for speechifying and whatnot. Mayor McCollum surprised me with perhaps the strongest remarks on what it means to have access to free books, information, and people to help you with them. After the ribbon cutting at RPL, I dashed (ha! it took me 40 minutes to go the last 18 or so miles) up to Alexandria to meet F and go to the National Book Festival. It's a swell event, with author talks, book signings and the like. I was charmed by Tom Silva and Kevin O'Connor of This Old House. (Their book on home repair is here.) Shout out to A, who sat in front of me in that tent! I imagined I saw two other people I knew there, too, but one disappeared and the other turned out to be a near miss.

    I couldn't stay for all of the Keno Brothers' remarks, but I did stay long enough to hear a story that, surprisingly, I identified with. The twin antique dealers, appraisers and PBS TV personalities were raised by antique dealers and have an eye for very fine things indeed. I, on the other hand, have an eye for (and try to sell) kitsch and collectibles. Les, it seems, had been accepted to Amherst College, but found himself in the 19th (18th?) century house that served as the admissions office for Williams College. And there he saw a graceful highchest; and then he saw nervous prospective students and their parents seated in antique Windsor chairs and he decided to go there, instead. I won't say I chose Mount Holyoke for the antiques in the Newhall Center, but his description made me smile for the similarities.

    Thanks to F and her fellow semanarians for an entertaining evening!

    Sunday: After the attending the early service at St. Anne's this morning with F, I slipped southward way ahead of any serious traffic. I was bummed to find the old skating rink antiques mall in Dumfries closed. Open, with its slightly scary cross-section of shoppers and sellers, was that flea market at the old white house near Thornburg. I got a very good deal, there, on something that may turn into a gift.

    Rambling: I have an idea that there is something I have been meaning to write, but my mind is blank, at the moment. I enjoyed my bookish weekend and the chance to antique on Route 1. Route 1, by the way, is losing its 1950 feel in more and more places. From Woodbridge to Stafford, I saw shiny new strip malls and signs of road-widening to come. South of Fredericksburg, it's only signs of widening. And yet that one old inn and general store continues to stand and lose paint.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    Richmond Public Library: On Saturday, celebrate the completion of renovations with a ribbon cutting and Children's Book Fair

    Valentine Museum: On Tuesday, October 26, VYA will hold its annual Macbre event. This year's theme is the Church Hill Tunnel Collapse

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Wired's START item reports that "sharing" is in. Aww. As BLH notes, I am a crusader against Tacky. If Sharing really beats out Suing and Stealing, that will be a blow, indeed, against the forces of Tacky.
    Just in case you did not read or hear this info elsewhere:
    Boing Boing: Cheney lies during veep debate (shocker)

    Cheney Confused DotCom and DotOrg
    More Reference
    While volunteering this week, I helped one woman determine if RPL has a copy of Armistad (it's at Main; the full title begins "The Voyage of La Armistad..."), and I helped one man register to read the Washington Post. Nothing hard, nothing glamorous, but they were glad. I could not help a young woman figure out why she could not open pictures attached to an e-mail message.

    B Middle School
    I pulled Instructional Assistant, special ed. duty on Monday. Ms. M. said, as she wrote the date on the board, "Oh, I promised the kids we'd read scary stories in October. I wonder if we should start with 'The Monkey's Paw' or 'The Landlady.'" I indicated that I did not know the later, so the 10 kids laboriously began that one. It's by Roald Dahl, so you know it's good. Ms. M does well having the students pause and predict where the story is headed, or summarize where it has been. I thought she was a little off the mark, though, in explanations like that of the boarding house (she described it as a quaint, American B&B c. 2000, not a British post-war rooms-to-let situation). Ms. K., the social studies teacher may well be new to B: I recall someone much weaker in that room last year. I enjoyed working with both teachers.

    Just in case Maggi "outs" me, I better confess. At S&B at her house last night, I started to knit a catnip mouse three times but couldn't get it right! The new kittens in question weren't even interfering. They are precious, as is Wee C, who is a good talker.

    On the Muzak at Ukrop's: "Billie Jean" (Jackson); "Let's Dance" (Bowie)
    Capital City weather: clear, 40s at night; 70s during day

    Sunday, October 03, 2004

    Thanks to the Sibling for drawing Clusty the Clustering Engine to my attention. It's a search engine that clusters, like Kartoo.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    Is it "futuristic design" if it's for the here-and now? A jacket with solar panels and pockets to hold all your power-hungry accessories.

    I predict that "format agnostic" and "format neutral," noted here at Library Stuff will be all the rage for the next few comps sittings. . . . I picked it up from that Library Journal article on Gen Y library use that you can't get me to stop talking about.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

  • About a bill to allow you to direct your tax money away from the military: Peace Tax Fund.
  • A newspaper we got at the museum opening last week: Native Voice
  • The Washington Post's Travel Toolbox pulls together travel sites the paper's travel writers recommend.

    At R Middle School
    The vice-principal who does morning announcements told the students that they are not infants and do not need pacifiers: if pacifiers come to school, they go "straight in the trash." At lunch, one teacher linked the behavior to drug addiction and a sucking "reflex." I wasn't clear if she meant the kids want to emulate addicts or that she thinks they are addicts.
  • Tuesday, September 28, 2004

    Banned Books Week
    Carrie, now a high school librarian, called yesterday and left a message about how excited she was to have just installed a Banned Books Week display. Way to go!

    I Used the Internet. So What?
    I've been volunteering at a local library, trying to get the Experience two potential employers suggested I lack. Twice today, as someone else was about to send patrons away empty-handed, I slipped over and said, I think we can find something online. Yahoo, for instance, has a nice directory of printable tax forms; and what's wrong with helping a 60-something man use Map Quest, if we're not busy?

    Also cool:
    Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam

    Capital City weather: rain

    Monday, September 27, 2004

    In Contrast
    . . . to the last camp training, this past weekend I found myself asking Why the hell am I here again? I didn't volunteer the first couple of times they asked for trainers because I just don't like that other camp. It's inconvenient for Girl Scout camping, and we haven't modified it in the 8 or so years we have owned it. For me, it is full of unhappy, stress-filled memories. I don't see faces smiling in the sun; I don't hear the chat of teens maturing over the summer weeks; it's not especially pretty. In short, when I quit That Job, I swore I would never set foot in it again. In the end, of course, those few extra-nice students in the basic outdoor training class made it a fine experience.

    Why Ask Why(from grade 8 civics, at RMS)
  • Why is girl 1 holding her tiny purse under her arm for the whole block?
  • Why is girl 2 holding her (pink, to match her sneakers) backpack on her lap for the whole block?
  • Why is that boy allowed to wear Confederate flag-decorated shirts to school?(This is the second time I have seen him thus attired.)
  • Why does girl 3 have a pacifier in her mouth for the second day in a row?

    In halls at RMS: "[Student] to Room 40 [teacher] to write 50 times 'I will not throw objects at others.' [signed]"

    Capital City weather: warm and rainy
  • Friday, September 24, 2004


    So, how embarrassed was I to do all that moaning, then get a call from the sub office: "Um, you're supposed to be at R"? Very. But they were cool to me, and the day passed with Civics, "Academic Wheel," and helping in the library.

    Bonus question: Which document served as a model for the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the U.S.?*

    Academic wheel is study hall with some goals, usually practice with reading comprehension. Today's kids had some reading about setting up one's own business and business in general. They had a set of questions on setting up their own business. Businesses they came up with included BritClear Water, a line of clothing called Brittney Factor, and a restaurant.

    I sniffled a lot, but it was a good day.

    *A: Virginia Declaration of Rights
    Ugh. I have a cold. I have been pretending I don't, but I do. I taught yesterday under the influence of generic cold medicine. I had good kids at R Middle School and a planning period free to go discover an acquaintance from RPL newly positioned in the library. She and her assistant (co-librarian?) are cool, energetic, young -- I think they will do really well with the students. I did some shelving for them and listened to their ideas of how they'd like to shift the collection. I admired "their" c1974 framed illustrations of scenes from Tolkien. The pictures break up the shelving: big sections are shelf-less to sort of shadow-box them. One such shadow box facilitated, in the previous librarian's mind, the breaking up of the 900s with biographies. That's the sort of thing they want to change.

    Back home, I found that a broken answering machine was preventing me from getting calls. I called in repeatedly to subfinder, turned down special ed at an elementary school, and find myself out of work for the day. Unless someone calls in sick late. Staying home is probably best for my cold, but bad for my budget.

    CB writes, "There were a number of Native Americans [or "Indians", or whatever term works best for you] who fought for the CSA. I believe the conventional wisdom is that they believed they had a better chance of retaining their identity/sovereignty/etc. by allying themselves with the States'-rights-obsessed Confederacy than by staying neutral or aiding the US. The MoC has at least one regimental flag, the "Cherokee Rifles" I believe."

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    First Americans Festival
    T and M invited me to go to DC yesterday for the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. M is a fan of its director, Richard West, who spoke of the newest museum -- number 18 -- of the Smithsonian Institution as "a spiritual marker for the ages." His Excellency Alejandro Toledo, President of Peru and a Quechua spoke (in English) of the museum as a "permanent, live interpretation of history." "Permanent" really resonated with me: in the fact of the NMAI as part of the most recognizable museum system in the US; in the physical placement on the Mall, near the Capitol; and in the obligation, the commitment of not giving up on it (and, by extension, on American Indians).

    The Honorable Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Co.) and Daniel Inouye (Hi.), who presented the legislation authorizing the museum some 15 years ago, also attended and spoke of their pride that this day had finally arrived. (Greetings from President Bush were read by some functionary, and I did not realize that's what they were until he got to the end, saying something like "Laura and I send our congratulations.)

    We had arrived in time to see just a little of the procession of tribes, and then friends and affiliated groups, enter the Mall, so after the speech-making was our time to mingle, people-watch, see various exhibits and displays on the Mall, and circle the building (tickets to go in were sold out -- though I gather from the Post the museum extended hours until late at night).

    Things I saw: young women in buckskin dresses with cellphones on their waists; a man in a bright ribbon shirt with a black messenger bag slung across his back; a Peruvian woman in a colorful dress carrying a basket of fruit on her head; a group of men, whose tribe I never identified, with stunning headdresses with four-foot long feathers. On our way to the car, we paused at one of the circular grandstands to watch some dancers, then listen to a Tlingit story-teller. In front of us was the round, brown Hirshhorn Museum; rising over it a half moon. The sky turned pinky-golden (it had been a clear, hot day) as the man spread his arms wide and told of Raven and Hawk and spirit. Click on the webcast button on the NMAI homepage above to see events for yourself.

    Themes for the day (and week of events, I bet): honor, legacy, vitality, diversity.

    The museum building itself, from the outside, strikes me as a Postmodern conversation between kivas, pueblos, and Frank Lloyd Wright. It does not suggest the way people (Piscataway, Kittamaqund's tribe) lived in that area; it looks like the US West.

    Philip Kennicott, in Sunday's Post (link)called it "a monument to Postmodernism" for reasons more complicated than mine. He also wrote that the museum's completion is "evidence that American Indians have emerged as perhaps the only minority group in this country to win a skirmish in the culture wars." Also in the special section on the museum in the paper was a lot I did not realize about the Smithsonian's losing battles to present Postmodern or revisionist or even complicated ideas and questions about history and culture. And all this time I thought the SI was an intellectual leader.

    Using "US" that way of course makes me pause. Well, it's a convenient way of saying something that I think you will understand -- a shorthand. I could not imagine, on the other hand, what the apparently white man was thinking when he put on one of those Patriotism Revival t-shirts yesterday, with a small US flag and the caption "est. 1776." Okay, sure, name coined and first attempt at national government established then, but you understand this event celebrates thousands of years of cultures that came before that on this continent, right?

    Also out of place were a foursome in "Confederate" gear who strolled through the aisle while we listened to the opening. If I were bolder, I would have approached them with either faux innocence -- "Oh, did Indians fight in the American Civil War?" -- or aggression -- "Get your sorry, bigoted asses out of here!" I did neither, and frankly, it looked like most of the Western tribes and Peruvians near us did not even give them a second look. After all, a lot of women from the west wore calico dresses that had a 19th century feel. Minus the hoops, the "Confederate" gal was essentially the same.

    Speaking of racism, Style's cover story is on Plecker, the early 20th century bureacrat who contributed in our lifetimes to the impression that there aren't Virginia Indians. Chief Adams is quoted, and the matter of Indian schools comes up, briefly. (I researched that subject a year or so ago; see the end of this post.)

    T is one of those friends who meets people she knows wherever she goes -- in Richmond. Not that it's a contest ; ), but I was happy to see two
    Upper Mattaponi friends.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Today's troublmakers at the school that I swore I would never go to again: Dale, Greg, Reggie, and Charice. It was a half day assignment, so I took it. Better still, the teacher had third block as planning, so it was only two hours of hell. I went to hang out in the library and met a former classmate! He looks forward to finishing library school this year. While I waited for him to have a minute to chat, I perused The Journal of Biddy Owens, a fictional journal about the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948 (a pennant-winning season, as I recall). Dave, who has been director of Rickwood Field since CDF died, seems to have contributed quite a bit. That makes me feel good.

    The reading assignment for fourth block included difficult words like glyph, artifact, amiable, cynical, and deity. It was about a girl who goes with her archaelogist parents to a Maya ruin.

    Thanks to The Sibling for helping me this weekend. We schleped a broken A/C unit to the alley for bulk trash pick up this week. Needless to say, it's been pinched, already.

    Capital City weather: cool and clear with bright blue skies
    Found: mushroom growing on the brick wall by the basement door
    On The Simpsons: Lisa and Marge go to Baby Seal Bay to clean up an oil spill, and Bart discovers the Maison Derriere.

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    An interesting item in today's Post on the improved quality of life for most American Indians. While the generalizations about how people live may well apply to Virginia Indians, the causes for change must be different as Virginia Indians are not recognized by the federal government and don't receive all of the same benefits as federally recognized tribes. (Six Virginia tribes are seeking federal recognition.)

    In other news, after a fun antiquing shopping trip with S (not that we found dining room chairs for her), I went over for dinner, and was charmed that Baby W is learning to say my name.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Happy Letter

    "Congratulations! You have passed the comprehensive examination. . . . Although commencement will not be held until Saturday, May 14, 2005. . . ."
    The RBraves have to play for the Governor's Cup in Buffalo according to the Press Release. We're too busy shoring up our roads, bailing our basements, and planning for this week's rain to have a ball game or two. The play-offs stand at one game a piece.

    Capital City weather: rain.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    From 7th grade class on Monday: lax, establish, magnate, capital, unruly

    From a conversation with a friend: twee

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    For the Found in (and on) Books Collection: FW reports, "I came across a post-it note stuck to the front of a book [on the shelf]. It reads:

    was lost
    now is found"

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    Thanks to "Silver Fox" for drawing the city's current bulk trash pick up schedule to my attention. It's a good thing to know if, say, you lost many things stored in your basement. One of the cool things at her house unharmed by late unpleasantness: a bulletin board in the guest bathroom for posting odd newspaper clippings (the wedding for which the bride wore fairy wings, e.g.) and similar treasures.

    Speaking of bathrooms, did I mention that the bathroom mirror fell down? It didn't break; it didn't break the sink or faucet. I turns out that it is an old dresser mirror (about 12 pounds) painted silver. Pleasants Hardware had a really cool anchor. You slide the metal bar into the hole with a long plastic stem, then adjust it so it lays flat against the back of the wall. I know it will be fine -- and yet, I do tend to fret. Also shopping at Pleasants this morning: VCU facilities staff; an old couple; the usual crowd of middle-aged men, some contractors, some do-it-yourselfers.

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    What I Threw Away, Part 2

    Since the folks plan to sell the "ancestral" home, I went by yesterday to wrap my doll house for removal to a friend's house, for her daughter. It occurred to me that one tiny item conspicuously absent was a glass jar that held the tiny paper twists of peppermint that Mom and I found floating about the house.

    When I got back to my house, I had the brainstorm that the jar might be in the faux printers' box I have had since c. 1978, and that I actually hung up in homes of my own. I pulled out the box where I knew I had stashed it -- an immediately wished I hadn't. Bugs had gotten in, munched what they found tasty, and either molted or died, leaving finger nail clipping-sized shells everywhere. Ick. (The last items, below, were other keepsakes in that storage box) I threw away:

    • A mini teddy bear that lived in my doll house
    • Three of those tiny clip-on stuffed animals popular in the late 70s
    • A seal made by Alaskan Natives with real fur
    • The nylon dress worn my a much older china-headed doll
    • An apple head doll I made in Girl Scouts, c. 1976
    • A Richmond News Leader article (3/16/78) announcing the departure of Star Wars from the Ridge and Chesterfield Mall "cinema complexes." The 38 week run at the Ridge was the second-longest stay of a movie in Capital City, with The Sound of Music having chalked up 87 weeks (!) at Willow Lawn.
    • A Richmond News Leader (10/30/82) article headlined "M*A*S*H is bowing out with class"; "'...we've exhausted the story lines" writer-producer-director Burt Metcalfe said -- "jumped the shark" having yet to be coined.
    • A Richmond News Leader photo (3/25/78) of the truck moving Hoppy Hobson's house back from the edge of Robious Rd. so they could build those two colonial revival houses, just after the road to Robious Elementary and Middle Schools (now known as "Polo Parkway")
    • One pair of blue Chris Craft sneakers (c. 1983, but worn last time I went sailing with SS!)

    So today I am going to Target, KMart, etc., in search of plastic storage boxes. I hope that they aren't sold out across the region, like dehumidifiers and generators.

    On the way to Midlothian yesterday, I drove across the Huguenot Bridge, but couldn't see why the north-bound lane has been closed. On Cary Street Rd., that overhang just after the country club had suffered another landslide.

    Frances brought ("probable") tornadoes and more flooding to central Virginia. My basement seems to have taken in a tiny stream of water, trickling to the drain. I think there are more damp spots on the upstairs ceilings. The roof man is due back today.

    Monday, September 06, 2004

    More Reading

    In the Washington Post: as part of the music distributors price-fixing settlement, libraries got tons of random CDs dumped on them. The librians quoted (including BH's "buddy" at Maryland's music library) don't quite spell out the fact that deciding what to keep, cataloging them, and bar coding etc., takes time -- and time = money.

    Via boingboing: one of the (I can only assume there's more than one!) companies that sells disguised cell phone towers here -- including the one at Mount Vernon.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004


    I just got around to the issue of Style dated 8/18 and this very good cover story on the striking down of Virginia's anti-miscegenation law. Despite segregated schools and churches, two young people of different races grew up in rural Virginia socializing together; they got married in D.C. in 1958; the sheriff came after them, weeks later. The piece was excerpted from Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers... by Phyl Newbeck (complete bibliographical information here).

    Tuesday, August 31, 2004

    What I Threw Away

    • Cardboard box printed "Mount Holyoke College Storage Box" and tagged "Lisa K / '88 / 1837 [Hall]"
    • Several cheap frames from said box, two complete with poster board or construction paper Mom cut as a mat for cross stitch, etc., I made as a kid
    • Also in said box, the frame on a caricature CDF had done of himself, before I met him (I am on the border line over a frame he loved on an unharmed photo of C and his brother; only the cardboard back got wet)
    • A print of a Renoir dancer
    • A coloring book CDF brought me in the spring of 1990 when I had a terrible cold
    • Pink sheets turned into curtains for dorm room windows
    • The original boxes from: my swiss army knife, my fancy backpacking flashlight, and my big, camp counselor's flashlight. All of the camping gear itself dried in the sun, today. The jury is out on the chip-board (wow, did that wick up water!) camp trunk that stored it all.
    • A Godiva chocolates box that I took to camp as a organizer of little things in my trunk -- and most of the beads and junk jewlery in it
    • The giant box my new TV came in
    • A small cardboard box and the paper packing holding some Urquhart's Place merchandise; the antiques were fine
    • A broken VCR that's been lurking in the basement for three years
    • The wrapping on spare roof shingles I wish I had remembered in the fall . . .
    • A box and scraps of the vinyl squares from my kitchen floor; I saved complete tiles in a new box, not sitting directly on the floor

    In other words, once I did venture into the basement, I found water. I don't know what I thought I was doing, not going to look: that I would hear water rushing in and then I should check? With the floor down there being so uneven, the 1/2 inch of water wended its way to just those few heaps of things.

    I also ventured to Brook & Azalea Roads to pick up the sib., stranded there for a couple of hours before I felt I could safely try it. It took nearly 30 minutes to get there (traffic at a standstill on Chamberlayne), but I didn't have to turn around anywhere. Two unfordable streams kept us from getting over to Buckingham Palace by a very direct route.

    S called this afternoon, on her way out of town to relocate to NY's Capital City. It turns out, she was one of the 20 or so people trapped at Bottom's Up Pizza last night. Luckily, she said, her party had walked down there from the MCV area, so no one lost a car. On the TV, I told her, it looked like kids played with Matchboxes in the dust, then turned the hose on them. In person, she replied, it was scary to see enormous SUVs sail past. The water rose fast in the street and sounded like rapids.

    I guess it's time to go put the news on to see if they reopened the Powhite, 360 at the Chickahominy Swamp, and other points of interest. I think the official rain total was around 11.5 inches. The noon news showed the wetbound side of 360 looking like a muddy river. They also reported that the RBraves will play two at the Diamond tomorrow -- for free!

    Oh, and the man scheduled to look at my locust tree came on time and reported that the University of Richmond had a tornado touch down.

    Monday, August 30, 2004


    At channel 6's station on Broad Street, about 3 miles from here, they've measured 11 inches of rain. That's a record for Capital City - ever. It should rain hard for another hour. Gaston brought us more rain than Floyd and Isabel combined, but not much wind, thankfully. Mom is one of over 70,000 people in central Va. without power; I've still got electricity, obviously. I see a damp patch over the window in the trunk room; the other areas for roof concern look okay. I have not ventured into the basement, yet. The rain is driving the wind onto the front of the house.

    The RBraves got an extention on having to decide whether the team can play at the Diamond. The repairs or changes made to the drainage system are getting quite a test. (Oh, here it is. They made grooves in the field. I kept thinking that Atlanta would be on our case. Officially, anyway, it's the Internation League that will fine the team and possibly boot us out of the league. All this when the RBraves are leading the division!)

    I95 and I64 have been closed where the highway passes under Belvidere for at least 3 hours. Carytown Ukrop's reportedly has a flooded parking lot, and trees are once more beginning to topple.

    Nature Moments that I fogot to mention this morning:

    beautiful wetland hike at the state park: a humming bird on cardinal flowers; exquisite pea-like flowers I could not identify; jack-in-the-pulpit in fruit

    explaining erosion to J
    This Weekend

    This weekend began on Thursday morning when I tore the house apart looking for my mosquito net poles, rushed around the corner and borrowed a tent from J and headed to the Silver Fox's house. We packed up groceries, got shoes on her boys, and headed east on 360 to Westmoreland County for a one night camp out.

    Jimmy rode with me. He'll be nine, soon. I was really worried that I wouldn't know how to talk to such a little kid for so long. No worries: he has the gift of gab. I learned: about his "competitive" friend J, that Jimmy's favorite Beatle is "Paul and Ringo," that he's learned some things in school about American Indians, and that he can tell the history of his grandparents' farm. At Westmoreland State Park, we pitched tents, hiked, played on the beach of the Potomac, and cooked (mmm, banana boats). I learned that SF is organized, outdoorsy, and not keen on heights. The outing was marred only by my locking my car key in the Civic's trunk (it's the only way one can suffer that annoyance: turn the key on the latch by the driver's seat - which I did for school travel - and drop the key in the trunk compartment). After about 2 hours - and two locksmiths - and great support from SF, I had the key back in time to dunk in the pool before it closed.

    And the dashing continued: I then scooted up the road to Kittamaqund (see also Friday's blog and my site, and Draco's) to train troop leaders to take their girls tent camping. We had a great group, with all but one of the women repeatedly saying, I can't wait to show this to my girls. They are very ready to bring wonders of nature and camping to kids. Three or four were moms of summer campers, thrilled to see Camp the way their daughters do; one 44-year-old camped at CK when it was new and remembered swimming in the lake and the green amphitheater behind the DH. And Skimino girl / counselor (c. 1989) "Mouse" loved CK right away. Not that there's anything wrong with Skimino. (Mitch - she knew Muffy!)

    The thing about going home to CK these last ten years or so is that I become I kind of Scrooge, living with ghosts past, present, and future all at once. Here I am on the porch of the Sleepy Hollow shelter talking to Pez (Jill R.) about the possibility of her becoming an outdoor trainer with me; but in 7X, I see her at 11 or so on a water hike. Lead trainers S & S set up in tent 1, leaving me the choice of a bed on either side of the tent: well, the left of this tent is Doodles' side, so I went to the right.

    It's always beautiful, by the way - did I mention that? Blue skies, hot-but-not-too, lightly salted air coming off the river. Tidy tents and neat unit shelters; a wide variety of plants, trees and wildlife. The early-turning trees like the tulip poplars and black walnuts in the Hollow have begun yellowing and softly dropping leaves. S identified the owl hooting on Friday as a screech owl. Those of us looking at the right moment saw a bald eagle soar up the river, over Pine Ridge, and off to the west. The damage to tent platforms and major roads done by Isabel last year was repaired, but Jessie's Trail is impassable and some leaning trees still threaten the main road. (I bet the council will still take hurricane fund money: if you write a letter stating your check is for camp property they have to use it that way, anyway. GS Commonwealth Council, POB 548, Mechanicsville, Va. 23111.)

    While the trainees cleaned up on Sunday morning, S mentioned that Mike sometimes doesn't even come check units she's used because he knows they will be thoroughly cleaned. Tears came immediately to my eyes: his father would do that with me when I was a unit leader. I can hear his voice inside my head, still. On closing days of resident camp, Moby would drive that white pick up into Pine Ridge to pick up campers' gear and say, "Chocolate. You here this week? It's fine - go on." And the unit staff knew they could go home as soon as the last kid did.

    I never cry leaving, anymore. I know I will be back.

    Monday, August 23, 2004

    The hook project is a developing database of book opening lines. I think that letting people put in their own genre will cause problems -- a controlled vocabulary always facilitates searching.

    Friday, August 20, 2004

    That's an American pastime -- grossly misunderstanding math.

    - philanthropist Zell Kravinsky (New Yorker, 8/2/04)

    Tuesday, August 17, 2004

    Hunh. The last Simpsons ep of the 02-03 season came closer to reality than I might have guessed. Virginia Tech had one of those stinky flowers bloom. Of course, the characters in Tech's horticulture program knew it would smell nasty, while the Simpsons characters did not.

    Monday, August 16, 2004

    Everyone's Talking About Blogs

    In The News
    This Sunday's Post seemed to have a story on blogging in every section. From weather bloggers to this one on former Senate staffer Jessica Cutler's infamous, short-lived blog on the travails of sleeping with 6 men. The latter article does a pretty good job of presenting her generation's (or perhaps only some of its) "so what" take on sexuality.

    Wired (August 2004) does not seem to have posted Clay Shirky's very interesting item called "Why Oprah Will Never Talk to You. Ever." It defines three catagories of blogs:

    • Those which serve as a form of broadcast. Someone already famous, or someone who became famous, posts and will never respond to your comment or click over to your blog.
    • Mid-range networks of blogs linked to each other; "nearly anyone can participate."
    • And ones like mine: "Obscure bloggers reach only a small, essentially closed community of readers."

    There's a swell fold-out graph that explains how using inbound links as the yardstick allows a realistic comparison of major blogs and traditional news providers. This measure makes room for three blogs in the top 10: Slashdot, Plastic, and Davenetics. The NY Times holds spot one; the Washington Post number 4, behind CNN and BBC News. Blogs that were more familiar to me in the top 40 or so: boingboing, Fark [motto: by boys for boys], wwdn.

    At Library Stuff, Steven Cohen writes about nothing but blogs and RSS stuff these days, still,
    this is an interesting abstract of a paper to which he links.

    Over the Dinner Table
    Actually, it was after an Indian dinner with "the Silver Fox" and "the Old Geezer" and their pal, W., that SF mentioned that the one or two times she read Capital City she felt too voyeristic. I noted that I feel like I am keeping several friends up-to-date at once. She replied that when she wants to know what's up with me, she calls. Well, gee, I guess she does. What a pal.

    Post Script
    Wow; Slashdot, Plastic, and Davenetics are so "powerful," clicked-to so many times, that Google listed them first based on searching just the one word. Imagine "owning" the word "plastic," at least on the web. (A site on awful plastic surgery is the number 2 hit if one types "plastic" in the search box.)

    Also noted at Wired: they plan to use "i" not "I" when writing "internet."

    Capital City weather: clear and warm after o so much rain.
    Reading: Nicholas Basbanes, Patience and Fortitude. Thanks, BarrieLee.

    Sunday, August 15, 2004

    From Library Journal, "Fixing the First Job", an article on what new librarians actually find in that first job, vs., of course, What We Were All Taught.
    Big box store (booo) Office Depot and HP want to help us recycle electronics (yay!). Click here to learn more.

    While I am on the recycle / reuse train of thought, freecycling has come to Richmond: find what you need, give away what you don't.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Ugh. Book censorship -- as in, he was carrying something that did make it to press: Boing Boing: D&D book reader on ferry hassled.
    Plant Zero, in Manchester, is hosting a Home Movie Day. Looks cool.

    Not cool: MCV may finally make good its threat to tear down West Hospital (where my brother was born: you know he's the only real Richmonder in the family). ACORN is mounting a resistance movement; I noticed their flier on the window of Bygones earlier today.
    The summer issue of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly has a very good article on same-sex marriages. It's well-written and balanced; and interesting to note the prominent roles alumnae play on both sides.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    Yup, I did link to that colors thing before. Not Martha scooped the Washington Post on it. Also in from the Sunday paper, but not available at the moment: View-Master turns 65! There's a $20 gift set with new viewer and reels, but since I still have mine, I'd welcome just the $10 set of decades reels. I can't find a picture as nice as the Post's (even on Fisher-Price and Mattel's own sites; the former is a subsidiary of the latter), but this press release gives you the scoop.

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    I'll check, later, to see if this PANTONE COLORSTROLOGY is the same one I linked to before. I remembered 7/16 being an ugly color; I just didn't remember that ugly color as being in the dusty pink - dusty mauve family.

    Friday, August 06, 2004

    Do read this most excellent article from Popular Science in which author Larry Smith spends 10 days sticking to technology from 1954 or earlier. It's well written and well footnoted: I love a good footnote.

    I do like to say that it's 1947 in my house (and 1916 at Dan's), but really, that's just the furniture and lack of microwave oven talking. Oh, and the stingy number of electrical outlets and cubic inches of closet space. The rotary phone doesn't even work at the moment (It and a working mid-century alarm clock came into my life with CDF. Both -- well, all three -- were indeed loud. I called the time piece the "alarming clock." It shot me out of bed every time.). I replaced both a late-1960s and a mid-1970s TV in the last 5 years with brand new appliances. While I am sitting in a mid-century chair on the front porch of my 1919 house on an August-cool-snap day, I am also writing to you all on my year-old Dell notebook computer with wireless DSL access. I can live with the contradictions.
    Another librarian image site: Librarians Are Sexy. She's got some good links under headings like "Geek Chic." (From Alane.)

    Wednesday, August 04, 2004

    The Library of Congress shows us how to provide access to that hard-to-preserve and hard-to-serve item, the scrapbook: Lewis Carroll Scrapbook. Every page, cover to cover, appears in JPEG and TIFF. A grey scale is provided as are sources of the various scraps. Newspaper articles have been abstracted. And, it's searchable, too. It should be safe to presume that LC will provide for migration of all that digital data and that the metedata's there: that it's preservation quality digitization not just access. Remember, folks, simply scanning your old stuff is not preserving it for all time.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    Onion Humor
    CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog: "Right now, the president insists it's his right to have it, as long as he doesn't work on it during White House work hours," McLaughlin said. "But I believe we'll be able to convince him, if we let him calm down. And even if we don't, frankly, I can't see the blog holding his interest for too long."

    Good Thing
    Thanks to KartOO visual meta search engine, I found just what I needed to finish off the last draft of my last library school paper. Yup, a year ago now I was just getting used to the idea of going back to school. Today, I am getting used to the idea of having to call myself "unemployed" not "a graduate student." (Since we're not seeing the actual pieces of paper until December, is that how long I get to claim student status?)