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.