Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Books are much more precious than most of us imagine.

Please see this article about the effort to get books to war-torn areas.

Want to help? Here's some links to help get books to some of the places in need...
Books for Freedom
Bosnian Manuscript Ingathering Project
The International Book Project which is headquartered here in Lexington

...and a list of other organisations getting books to people all over the world.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

A Death in the Family

I can't believe my "first dog" is gone.

When I was twenty-two, and I met her for the first time, I was a little afraid of her. She seemed so big, after all, even though she was smaller than either of her parents. Part Black Lab, part Doberman, she was incredibly devoted to her master and single-mindedly alive. When she was a puppy, she managed to get out of his car and follow him into the store, waiting for someone to go through the door to get in, then searching for each aisle until she found him, her tail wagging maniacally. She was so smart. She and the cats would work together to get bread off the top of the refrigerator. She would transfer some of her water from her bowl to get every last morsel of food from her dish. She was incredibly dainty about her feet, but would slurp water in large amounts and then come drooling over to you by way of thanks.

I hadn't had a dog growing up....She taught me the joys and responsibilities of having a companion dog. I didn't start out meaning to take care of her. But she lived in the same building and would mournfully paw at the door that connected our apartments to be let in whenever my friend was at class. Sometimes she'd find some way to push it on open, leaving our cats to hiss at each other while she joyfully padded through my house looking for fun. She won me over a little at a time.

When it came time for me to have my own dog, I wanted one just like her, only not quite as willful. Cerys has been all of that. When I first saw her at the pound, she did the same paw and whine--the first and only time, in fact. She seemed so like her, only in miniature. Many people assumed that they were sisters, even though her long Doberman nose looks nothing like Cerys' piggy one. But they were raised together and spent their days together. Even when we went on to move apart, we had sleepovers, or I would bring Cerys over for the day so they could be together. They always looked like two bookends on either end of the couch. Their personalities were very different, but they were so companionable--although she never let me forget that she was my "first dog".

She went down suddenly, and didn't suffer. We petted her and loved on her before her surgery, and when it was certain that there was nothing else to do, we put her to sleep without waking her back up, so it was a quiet and painless death. All the humans from the family were there with her, touching her even as she died, all of us crying and trying to comfort each other.

She had a wonderful, full life for fifteen years. The selfish thing would to have brought her back home even though it was getting harder for her to eat and walk. But instead we let her go, even though it was so hard, especially as she'd been almost bouncy right before the surgery.

I miss her. Life seems a little emptier, even though I know she'll live on in our hearts. Cerys didn't understand why I came home in tears and pulled her close--but she was a comfort. I hope we don't have to go through the same thing with her soon. It seems odd for Cerys to be without her, but it would be so much worse without either.

Goodbye, my dear. You were a wonderful protectoress and faithful companion. May your spirit run free and happy. You taught me so much about unconditional love. You will be missed so much. Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

You know, both Hitler and MacCarthy started out a little bit at a time....

I am deeply concerned that perhaps well-intentioned but flawed attempts to respond to terrorism could undermine our precious freedom and, in the long run, do more damage to our society than any terrorist. Here's an opportunity to prevent an erosion of our basic right of privacy and freedom from illegal search.

>>> "Don Wood" 07/24/2002 3:22:59 PM >>>
To: ACLU Action Network
FR: Damon Moglen, National Field Coordinator
DT: July 24, 2002

In the last several days, a national firestorm has started to build
around a program proposed by President Bush to recruit one million
volunteers to act as spies and informants against their neighbors. Under
the proposed program -- which the President is calling Operation TIPS --
the government would recruit letter carriers, utility workers, cable
installers, and others whose jobs allow them access to private
residences to report "suspicious activities."

But the plan has run into trouble in Congress. The House is moving to
reject the President's program. It is not clear what the Senate will
do, but it is likely to vote on the bill in the coming days. The fate
of this deeply misguided program could very well rest with the Senate.

Take Action! Your Senators will play a key role in deciding whether or
not Operation TIPS will go ahead. You can read more and send a FREE FAX
to your Senators, urging them to reject this misguided program, from our
action alert at:


Wednesday, July 24, 2002


A big congrats to Erica Pratt, the 7-year-old from Philadelphia who had been kidnapped from outside her grandmother's house. The enterprising young girl chewed through her bonds while left alone in an abandoned house. She broke a window, shouted to some nearby children--who helped her climb out--and then alerted authorities. They're still looking for the two men who took her, but she's reunited with her family. And here's to stupid criminals!

Other things striking my mind this morning...

There is perhaps no greater thing than for me to see my dog, who is nearly eleven, take a leisurely roll in the grass every morning. She cavorts with such abandon. She looks so, so silly, and yet at the same time, you have to admire animals' unselfconscious enjoyment of life. She has to have her roll every time she goes out. Part of it is a long-time problem with itchy skin in the summer, but part of it is the sheer enjoyment. (And I think she likes to find the stinkiest bit of grass she can). We can learn a lot from animals.

I suppose if I had children, I'd have similar moments with them. I made a decision long ago not to bring a child into the home when I was married--and to get out myself--because it was an abusive, tangled relationship where I was considered worthless and I think children would have fared even worse. But my dog has been the best of companions. When I was at my lowest levels of depression, her rolls would bring a smile to my face--a small time where I could almost feel happy. Even though that lasts only a few moments, when they start to build up to a greater part of the day, you suddenly realise you're getting better.

I'm saddened to see that author Chaim Potok has died. I always admired him a great deal.

I am appalled by the scope of agression that Israel used in assasinating a member or Hamas. Let me just say for the record that I'm also appalled that the Palestinians would send young people to blow themselves and others up. I just wish people could find non-violent solutions to their problems. I think there's a simple way to end war (okay, maybe not simple, these issues really AREN'T simple)--if all victims of warfare could sue the agressors--and win, so that the families or victims had to be completely funded for the rest of their lives by the government that harmed them, then maybe it would be too expensive to wage war.

Speaking of expense, I glanced through the headlines of the Wall Street Journal this morning and I was reading about the people panicking about the scandals in the news and their effects on the stock market.

Hello, 1929, anyone?

You knew that the Bull Market was going and going, but eventually it would fall. Even the Energizer Bunny has to replace his batteries sometimes. Now, I can say that, because I have a grand total of $1600 in my retirement fund (actually less by now), never got anything out of the roaring 90s (I was mostly underemployed), and haven't lost my life savings, etc. I remember the gas crunch of the '70s, the recession of the '80s, and let me tell you, they made an impression. There's a simple word for the cause of the current problems.


Greed on the part of CEOs and other corporate cronies who bled companies dry, leaving nothing for the little guys. Greed for people who had never considered playing the market who slipped over to websites to do a little trading online on their lunchbreak. Greed in politicians who took big money to look the other way. In some ways the '90s were truly the 'me' generation. It's our giant SUV, giant house, best of everything for our families, even though we don't spend any time together way of life.

So don't go whining about Bear Markets to me.

One thing I've learned recently, is that the only way to get something is to work for it. Oh, there are always the people who win the lottery, but they're far and few between and probably wind up miserable, anyway. No matter how much or little you have, there is always someone else who has more. We're never satisfied, and we want a quick, no-toil route to success. It's spawned a huge number of infomercials and an embarrassing use of resources for generally selfish reasons.

Times like these are meant to give one a little perspective about moderation. Sure, the market tends to produce profit over time. OVER TIME. No quick pill, no quick fix. Maybe it's not for those who are easily flustered by numbers. I know I'm not up to it. But only an idiot would put everything into one sector of stock (i.e., tech stocks). That's what other types of investment are for, even if they don't produce the big numbers all the time (at least they're steadier when things go bust).

Okay, that's my diatribe for the morning. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

musings...in no particular order of priority

Zabet did a quiz on "what flower are you?" where she came out a Venus Flytrap. I, on the other hand, came out a Rose.

Strange friendship, hmmm???
They took our demo digital copier back today. It's back to the loud one of doom. :( On a brighter note, there's a good chance we'll get it as a replacement come November. (Fingers crossed).
Social interchange at a workplace ice cream social:
Me:"Oh, ----, what is in your pendant?"
Person: "Oh, it's my mother's remains."
Me:"That's very nice." Smile.
Actually, it was quite lovely. I was just expecting something like shells, etc. from Thailand, the person's home country. It makes perfect sense to me, but I'm afraid my co-workers turned a little green.
Today I picked up my diet Coke for a drink and was terribly surprised to find something wet crawling on my tongue. I'm afraid I quite spewed in an un-ladylike fashion a small bee that had crawled into the can. Fortunately both the bug and I survived, although I needed a washout of my mouth and chocolate to recover. It was probably more traumatic from its point of view. But obsessive-compulsives, even those of us who are bug-friendly, do not like these sorts of surprises.
I brought to work a copy of a book I have called "Saint Vitus Dances Eternity: A Sarajevo Ghost Story." It's in English and Bosnian. It was published by White Wolf as an accessory to their Wraith game, with proceeds going to Bosnian aid funds. I explained to one of my co-workers, who is Bosnian, that it might upset her, but I also knew she wanted to improve her English, and both are on the same page. I'm going to let her borrow that and some other books I have on the Balkans (Fax from Sarajevo, Zlata's Diary). She was so busy fleeing the war there that she never got to read what the rest of the world was exposed to. I would definitely suggest picking up a copy of Zlata's Diary if I were you. It puts the war into a much more personal perspective. I'm not sure if the others are available; they both were things I got through a comic store I worked in at the time.
The other day I went to our public library for the first time since they installed a Foucault Pendulum clock in the lobby. I could literally sit and watch that all day. I did some research online (I wasn't sure exactly how it worked) and found that there's a curious mystery surrounding Foucault Pendulums and solar eclipses. Check out this for more.
That's it for now. I could give a long diatribe about the men who seem to be snatching young girls from their homes across the country, but to be honest, I'm so upset about it I can't write about it. Let's just say that I agree with Zabet's comments about the person who tortured a kitten, both in regards to that crime, and these. What these men have done is despicable. And in terms of the latest abduction, I can't understand why anyone would go into one of the poorest areas of a city, grab a kid, and then demand a ransom. I pray the latest child (and Elizabeth Smart, who is still missing) will be returned to their families. But I'm still haunted by the face of Samantha Runnion, and I can't understand how anyone could harm a child.

Thursday, July 18, 2002


I would say that I feel guilty about not blogging lately, but it's only been partly my fault. Blogger, after months of no trouble, decided it didn't like my template. It kept hacking up hairballs, so to speak, whenever I tried blogging. So, I've changed my template/removed the customisations for now, unitl I can figure out what the problem was.

So what have I been up to?

Hmmm...for one, sleeping/not sleeping. For years I was apparently so sleep deprived and also dream deprived from my sleep apnea I couldn't stay awake waiting for Internet Explorer to load. Now, though, I find that I'm not only getting rest, I'm having exciting adventures in dreamland that rival all TV, books, movies, and other entertainment I could otherwise be using my freetime doing. My dreams are not merely vivid, they're psychodelic, and I've been crashing several times a week by 7 or 8 in the evening only to sleep until just before work. According to my sleep doctor, this is a normal response.

Unfortunately, I have been drinking an above-average amount of caffeinated sodas this past week, so it has been harder to achieve this bliss. I've been cutting back, though, and spent 17 hours last night making up the difference. So, hopefully no more sleeply days/sleepless nights.

Other milestones over the last few days:

I have won, not one, but SIX games of Snood on the Evil setting. I am becoming a Snood expert, and I am now enjoying other levels of Snood that are not quite as obsessive. It only took about 400 games before I won even one. Don't worry Mr Dobson--your fee for this delightful yet insidiously devilish 'non-violent' game has been budgeted and will be winging its way to you forthwith.

In the meantime, I have broadened my insomniacal hours with the Plus! version of Labyrinth that came with Windows XP, caring for Sims, and reading Victorian mysteries. I had gone through a dry spell where I just couldn't concentrate on reading. It was true reader's block, somehthing I never thought I'd experience. Fortunately I was able to pop through the four Harry Potter books and that seems to have cured me. I'm not only reading fiction, I'm also back to studying and I'm even writing a little. In fact, my muse seems to have returned; I'm also experimenting with Paint Shop Pro to do some original pieces. I've been pleasantly surprised at the outcome. When I get back to having a website I can connect to from Blogger, I'll post some of the work.

I've ordered new glasses, which is good, because my second contact tore the other day (the second in about a week, apparently they have a self-destruct after 15 months, but having never torn a contact in fifteen years, I was a little surprised) and I have been forced to wear my two-prescriptions ago 'Agnes Gooch' glasses. (Ever see the movie Auntie Mame? "I'm a sponge!") These are ultra-cheap frames that are attempting to contain some lenses from a late lamented pair of glasses. Everyone says dorky glasses are actually in fashion now, but I grew up wearing glasses in the 1970s, and only cateye lenses could be more scarring. But, since I can't see beyond two inches without them--ah, well. My vanity is not as important as being able to dodge traffic.

What else? I'm rearranging my living room a piece of furniture at a time. This is slow but keeps me from hurting any part of my anatomy I'm planning on keeping. It will be much more soothing once I'm finished. I can watch birds outside on my patio, the fish in my tank, curl up with animals, and listen to Loreena McKinnitt as candlelight and my tabletop fountain play nearby. Much better Feng Shui, if you will. But in the meantime, I have books stacked everywhere and a huge pile o' stuff in the middle of the floor. Sigh. Not to mention, I keep getting distracted into reading the books. :)

Obviously I don't really watch TV. I prefer other pleasures. I do try to catch Buffy and Charmed over at a friend's house during the season, and I tend to watch CSI at home. Mostly the TV's there in case I want to watch a video, though. Even when I had cable I used it mostly for music or educational programming. Now I can only get 3 1/2 channels of the 5 broadcast, so there doesn't seem to be much point. I did manage to wake up briefly last night and watched Harrison Ford be incredibly funny on Conan O'Brien. He was talking about how he'd like to work with the Cohn brothers, etc. on something just stupid and funny, then shook his head from side to side with elongated jowls looking like something from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hysterical. He also lamented the need for doing Russian accents in his new movie. "Why do I have to be Russian?" This makes me think he agrees with my friend Zabet, who majored in Russian, tried out as an extra for Air Force One, was told by Russians she had an excellent command of the language, and says Harrison Ford's Russian stinks (but otherwise thinks he's great, I think).

Well, I think it's time to wrap up. I've been very productive the last few days (surprisingly, as I was supposed to be leading a meeting Tuesday in Berea, but didn't find a ride and so was marooned here in Lexington). Now I'm off to a team leaders meeting.

I do think that I might take a page from Zabet's book and offer a prize to the person who is the 2000th visitor to this blog (hard to believe it's to that). I will bestow research on one question of the winner's choice as a prize. So, if you've ever wanted to know something but didn't want to take the time to find out on your own, now's your chance. My only stipulation is that you ask a question that CAN be answered. No deep philosophical questions, please--although I'll throw in the answer to the life, the universe, and everything for gratis, courtesy of Douglas Adams--it's 42. If we get into angels dancing on pins, etc., my brain will leak out of my ears. But if there is a fact to be found, I will do my utmost to supply the answer--or at least point you to someone who has it. After all, that's what librarians do. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Word of the day: (and an example of the sorts of questions librarians get asked)

A method of spinal anaesthesia in which a portion of the anaesthetic solution is injected into the cerebral spinal fluid, which is then aspirated back into the syringe and reinjected.

Origin: Fr. Barboter, to dabble

From: CancerWEB's On-line Medical Dictionary

It shows up in French websites discussing the use of a shaker and cognac, so I guess it's used in making mixed drinks, too. :)

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Gee, I feel I should be doing a Friday Five...

It's a little odd to be off for a four-day weekend. I'm over at Zabet's and Hubby's house for laundry because they're spending the weekend with their niece and nephew, hence access to a DSL connexion. So, I'm taking the opportunity to post a non-political blog.

Today was my boss' last day at work. :( :( :( To give you some idea about how wonderful this woman is, she gave us all presents (Bybee Pottery mugs and tea with Ruth Hunt chocolate. In her card to me she called me a lady who was going to go far. I think that's the single-most encouraging thing anyone's ever said to me. I'll miss her a lot.

I'm going to go, food's on the table. Hopefully I'll blog back later. If not, for those of you in the US, have a safe and happy Fourth!