Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Friday, December 27, 2002

Yea! The Friday Five is back!

1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year? Finishing DBT/scoring low on the depression scale/not being hospitalised for suicidal thoughts.

2. What was your biggest disappointment? Having a travel request for a conference in San Diego next year denied after trimming my budget down to a lower amount than this year to build up the travel fund (so now, no trip, and less money anyway) along with a general lack of support from my current administration. I miss Kathy so much. She was both flexible (I don't think I could have done my job through all the health issues I had without her) and cared about my professional growth. I could handle being underpaid, etc. with that support. Now how and whether I do my job seems secondary to politics. I think the only way that I can hope to have a reasonable quality of life and advance in my career is to find another position, which is a shame. But I'm ready for a change. :)

3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? Oh, probably. Last year was the year of getting mentally healthy. Next year I'm going to work on getting physically healthy, which mainly involves exercising and taking care of myself.

4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else? I'll probably be curled up with my animals. Not really. I'd rather be relaxed and happy than dancing and getting drunk. Spending time with friends or family would be my second choice, and most of my friends have significant others who they probably want to be with.

5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions? I usually watch the ball drop in New York, although I don't see much point in watching all the hyped-up stuff before and after. I try to clean house and toss out the old, so to speak. And it's a night of religious observance, because it's a liminal point in terms of time, so I usually give a libation to Hekate, my Patroness, who oversees boundaries of time and space.

I'll blog a little later about how things are going. For now, I'm off to look at some post-Christmas sales and then I'm off through New Year's! Yippee!

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

It's nearly 5 pm at work on Christmas Eve, and the place is like a tomb. I work in an odd sort of hospital that can send most of its patients home for the holidays, thankfully (I remember how awful it was being sick at Christmas as a child; I would have hated being in the hospital). Most everyone cut out earlier this afternoon or took the day off. I'm working every day except for tomorrow, and it's a great chance to catch up on paperwork. But it's so quiet, it's eerie. I know we librarians have a stereotype for liking quiet, but this is really too much.

So, I'm listening to Loreena McKinnitt (no, not her holiday CD) and watching the gloomy day outside where it doesn't know whether it should snow or rain, and I'm looking forward to getting away for a little while tonight (I'm over to Zabet's) and then going home tomorrow to see my family.

I hope wherever you are tonight, whatever faith you hold, whatever circumstance you are in, that you are warm, and you are loved, and that you can find peace. Whether you live in a country torn apart by hate or are just too exhausted by all the things you "have to do" for the holidays, I hope you can take a deep long breath and look up to the sky tonight, and realise that all over the world, there are others with your same fears and hopes. I sometimes think we feel most alone in the winter. I know I do. But in a way, we're really never far from others--only a thought away.


Monday, December 23, 2002

Oh, for shame!

Today I went to Joseph-Beth, picked up my last gift for the season (really, that's it guys, no more!) and spent a couple of gift certificates I received. [I got The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket and the second Artemis Fowl book. Okay, so I was in a kid's book mood]. Thus, I was able to knock a couple of books off my Amazon.com wish list. If you go to that link, though, you'll find a couple of new ones, due to the events below.

That said, I found a book in the kid's section that sent my teeth grinding. I can't find a copy online by way of illustration, but it was basically a white-washed version of Little Black Sambo. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, a young Indian boy who is very proud of his clothes runs into a group of tigers who one by one take the clothing from him. The boy is very clever, though, and tricks the tigers into fighting amongst themselves, recovering his clothes. The book was written in 1899 by a British woman living in India. The setting is India. The characters are Indian (as in, those from the subcontinent in Asia, as opposed to the American kind). For English children, the setting and its characters were very exotic. Unfortunately, the use of the term "black" coupled with illustrations in the American version made it seem more racist in content. Today the book is largely banned as being terribly politically incorrect.

My main trouble with the book I found was that it lifted the story entirely and attempted to make it more obvious that the characters were Indian by calling them things like Sambajiti, Mamajiti and Papajiti or some sort of thing--in otherwords, give them some sort of made-up presumably Hindu-sounding names, couple them with illustrations of light, Northern Indians, and everything would be okay. Why they couldn't just update the problematic illustrations, I don't know. But even so, the main problem with the books weren't the text, or even the illustrations, but in how they were perceived by Americans who were pretty ignorant. As the author knew, there are plenty of blue-black people in India--the skintone variances are enormous--there are many languages, many variations in religion, etc. One re-write of the story places it all as happening within a happy phantasy American South with Southern language and helpful animals.

Tsk. Tsk. I loved "Little Black Sambo" as a kid. I ran around trees imagining tigers melting into butter. I had a 45-record and storybook that I read over and over. And never once did I look down at Sambo or his parents. I thought he was vain, but many children are. I certainly didn't think all black children were vain or were chased by tigers, for that matter. I can't tell you for certain whether I realised that he was Indian and not living in a jungle in Africa (when I was really little I didn't know much about the geographic habitats of tigers), but I certainly didn't confuse him with African-American children I played with. Nor did I meld him together with some sort of "Amos and Andy" caricature as seems to be the case of those adults who made so much of it. It's a children's story, and a good one, but a product of its time. I'm glad to see that you can still read it in the original form--although, apparently, only if you have the money to buy it. I haven't seen it in a library in over at least a decade.

But I know just mentioning how disappointed I was with the re-write to the clerk set me up for some sort of "you're just not seeing things from the right point of view" lecture. You know the type. Like the people who once came up to a gay Jewish friend and decided he must be a neo-Nazi because he shaved his head. Or the bead shop clerk who gave me a lengthy lecture about the evils of buying coral when I needed some not because of a whim, but for religious purposes, wasn't asking her to go out and pull some off a reef, and would have been quite happy to have bought one antique bead. Seeing as the clerk was a "white" as I am, I doubt he had any real insight to how oppressing the story is, either. I'd be interested in hearing from others on their point of view. But it seems to me that if we just remove it from libraries and sweep it under the rug, no one ever talks about it, the history of its racism (rather real or perceived in this case), etc. And while I'm sure I could special order the book (for after all, he did say they sell the original), I've certainly never seen it on the shelves there. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter if books are condemned by the right or the left, it's still wrong. It's one thing not to buy a book. It's another to discard it and re-write it all over to reflect supposedly enlightened sensibilities. I would like to see the book in other editions to see if it would likely produce the same confusion in other countries.

Do we rewrite Rudyard Kipling because of his outdated Victorian values? Forrester? Wharton? Twain? Where does it stop? Doesn't it make more sense to discuss the context rather than dismiss it?

Okay, I've ranted enough for one night. :)

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Oh, good grief, people, lighten up!

Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged Making Evil Look Innocent
Through the Harry Potter series, the ancient occult religion of Wicca is being introduced in almost every public school in America. This video explains how Scholastic Inc., the largest publisher of children's books in the world, is supplying Harry Potter materials to millions of schoolchildren.

1. 'Witch' in Harry Potter is just a term for a girl who does magic; it has nothing to do with real witchcraft, Wicca, etc., just as the magic in the books is completely fictitious--it's just like the type of magic portrayed in "I Dream of Jeannie" or "Bewitched", which were equally benign. Gee, when I was a kid, I wanted to twitch my nose and have my 3rd grade math problems all done, but that's just phantasy. It doesn't work. At least not with my little stubby nose. :)

2. Wicca is not actually synonymous with witchcraft, and isn't even an ancient occult religion. It is a modern faith based on ancient sources founded in the '50s by Gerald Gardner. Although some Wiccans call themselves witches, there is no Devil in Wicca, and Wicca per se is not evil. Indeed it stresses balance and harmony.

3. Harry Potter represents the classic struggle between evil and good, with Harry and his friends on the side of good. It's probably better put in terms of, say, the Allies against the Nazis than occult or religious terms. Harry Potter can be used to teach kids ethics and "what would you do in this situation", although granted, they do break a lot of rules. :)

4. There's too much that's truly evil in the world to make a fuss over a kids' book that many opponents don't even bother to read.


Bonus est!

Which reminds me, the main book I'd read to children during the holidays, though I dearly love the Velveteen Rabbit really is Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus! I studied with both Terence and Jennifer Tunberg. I'm glad the local paper's taking notice of our department.

PS UK's Classics department is also very well known for it's webpage on Women in the Ancient World. One of our professors, Ross Scaife, had webpages up even before the most of the science people even got online.

Blurg...warning...babbling in progress

I feel very groggy. I fell asleep at 9pm and woke up feeling out of it when my dog decided the opossum outside was an interloper who must not trespass on the patio (I spilled bird food all over the place filling the feeders). When I woke up my clock said it was nearly 11pm, when really it was 3:30am, so I felt kinda time-warped, and my blood sugar's running in the 130s, which is actually slightly above normal but when you're used to running in say, the 180s, it can feel low. Anyway, I'm eating vanilla almond oat Harmony cereal with rice milk (it's got soy and lots of vitamins, aimed at women, but I eat it because it's also tasty) and decided I might as well blog now that I'm up.

Good news: I am finished with all my holiday shopping. I've had most of it for awhile (I started early, a little bit at a time), but there was a problem child among the recipients (oddly enough, it was Zabet's Hubby, Patrick, this year. I wasn't inspired, which was a problem, because he's also graduating this week, and you would think that would help. But at least I think it's better than the year I was so poor I gave everyone rocks for Yule. Really. Actually they were Labradorite marbles, and very pretty, although very cheap. I think everyone else still has theirs. I have no idea where mine went. It was in my purse for a long, long, time.

Today was beautiful and sunny (and even at 3:30 in the morning it is--get this--53 degrees!). Does this ruin the holiday spirit for me? Hell no, it just enhances it. I grew up in Louisiana. I'm used to some warmth around the holidays, and it's ever so much more comfy. :) I'm sure it'll be short-lived (Lexington weather is capricous at best) but I'm going to enjoy while I may. I think we're supposed to have storms tomorrow.

Ah, my brain's finally getting some of the food. I was cleaning like mad earlier (that's why I fell asleep, I think). I'm having friends over for Yule and the house has gotten piled up. On the bright side, it's mostly recycleables. :) When you spend the better part of a couple of years depressed, things slide. I hung up a lot of my clothes (I'm been just keeping them on the bed, since I've been more comfortable on the couch, anyway). I still have a ways to go, but it's getting there. It's nowhere near my prime hoarding state; I think I can straighten up everything but the study by Saturday. Nothing like company to encourage cleaning. When you live by yourself, at least if you're not a neat-freak, its amazing how many things get pulled out and then you fall asleep or get called away, etc. When you add three cats and a dog, you get pet hair (believe it or not, I still vacuum every week, but it's a losing battle) and things that wind up on the floor.

Well, I'd better go. I think I need to strech out some; my fingers are totally numb from typing around the cat.

:) Yeah, I know. Hey, he's 11 years old and very stubborn. We have compromised on him not being on the keyboard itself/more on my lap, at least. But he's determined to be between me and the computer. But I don't think the ergonomics people at work would approve.

PS I got my five-year service award at work today; couldn't remember what I chose. It's a fairly nice watch that I think I can actually wear (no binding-strap). Maybe I'll have a better chance of being early rather than breezing in at the last minute. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

I'm passing this on...

As a former member of Amnesty International and all-around "defender of the free world", i.e., librarian, I thought I should. My only concern is that I don't know how correspondence with Cubans is looked at by the US Government, and I'm not sure if the Cuban government might reprise against a family for getting such correspondence. I'd hate a letter meant for well-wishing to have harsher consequences. They kind of gloss over that in their literature; and seem to suggest that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights trumps local laws. Thing is, no matter what international law is, it doesn't usually prevent local forces from taking you away or killing you; you might be able to take them to an international court later, if you're around, but that takes money or at least publicity. If I can find out, I'll let you know. Go to their website. I had no idea that there were small "rogue" libraries in Cuba. :)

December 17, 2002

"He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the
captive, and the opening of the prisons to them that are bound." -Isaiah

At this season of the year, we would like to ask members of the worldwide
library community to remember our colleagues in Cuba who will be spending the
holidays in prison. For complete details on the unprecedented effort of
volunteers in Cuba to open uncensored libraries, and on the government
campaign of repression being waged against them, please refer to our website
(http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org). As an act of compassion during
this special time of the year, we would like to ask you to send Christmas or
New Year's cards to the families of two Cuban librarians who are now in

Please send the first card to Maritza Calderin Columbie, the wife of Juan
Carlos Gonzalez Leiva. Juan Carlos is a blind lawyer, activist and volunteer
librarian who has been imprisoned without trial since March, when he was
detained for peacefully protesting the arrest of a journalist. At the time
of his arrest he was beaten, kicked and clubbed in the head with the butt of
a pistol, resulting in health problems which are not being properly treated
in prison. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Christian
Solidarity Worldwide have issued appeals on his behalf, as reported on our
website. The address of Maritza Calderin Columbie is:

Maritza Calderin Columbie
Honorato del Castillo #154
entre Republica y Cuba
Ciego de Avila
Provincia Ciego de Avila

Please sent the second card to the family of Leonardo Bruzon Avila, a
human rights activist and volunteer children's librarian who was arrrested
in 2001 after showing a Disney film during a library program; at that time
Amnesty International issued an appeal on his behalf, and he was released.
He is now under detention again because of unrelated human rights activities,
and he has been declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
Holiday cards to his family can be sent to the following address:

La Familia Bruzon Avila
Campanario #564
entre Dragones y Salud
Centro Habana

Thank you for your concern, and please be sure to place sufficient
postage on the envelope for overseas airmail delivery. Cards in any language
will be welcome to the families of the prisoners, and don't worry whether the
cards arrive before the holidays.


The Friends of Cuban Libraries


Although the international community is becoming more supportive of Cuba's independent
librarians, the government does all it can to prevent news of this progress
from reaching the island. It is sometimes difficult for us to imagine the
soul-draining weariness of daily life on an island where people are
confronted on a daily basis with harassment, meager rations, power outages,
and an unceasing barrage of propaganda in the controlled media. The books we
send to the independent libraries offer hope, diversity and a glimpse of the
world beyond the shores of Cuba, but sometimes an extra effort is needed,
especially at this time of the year.

An effective way to brighten up the lives of Cuba's independent
librarians, and to let them know of their growing recognition abroad, is to
send them holiday cards. The simple act of receiving brightly-colored
holiday cards can send a burst of sunshine into the lives of people whose
courage is in need of visible recognition. Although the Cuban government
often opens and confiscates letters from abroad, the heavy load of mail
during the holiday season will make it difficult for the authorities to
practice their usual thoroughness, so some of your holiday cards WILL get
through! Please go ahead and send some cards to Cuba today, and it doesn't
matter whether the cards arrive after Christmas or New Year's Day. Now more
than than ever, it really is the thought that counts!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Silver and Gold...

Yesterday (and today, for that matter--although I didn't get to enjoy it nearly as much due to work) dawned beautiful and sunny. At one point the sun was streaming in, the kitties were lining up in the sunbeam, and the tinsel absolutely lit up, reflecting like a giant, vaguely-cone-shaped disco ball. My cat, Spock, was delighted--he loves to chase lights on the walls. Since most of my wrapping paper is holographic or foil, the presents were tempting, too.

I spent most of my weekend asleep, which seems bad except that I apparently really, really needed it. On the bright side, I was early to work this morning and revving to go, which is good, as I'm tackling a revision (and creation) of policies and procedures this week. I'm thinking of taking Friday off from work, Saturday is my holiday and I'm having guests over. The house, as usual, looks like a cyclone hit it. I'm beginning to wish I could add maid to my holiday wish list; but somehow I don't think maids do full excavation without danger pay.

I had some great faux-chicken patties today, made by the same people who do Boca (TM) Burgers. They're spicy chicken-style veggie patties, which coupled with Heinz 57 sauce was divine. Unfortunately, I'd brought some onion nan from Vishal to accompany them. Apparently, much as I love nan, I'm not up to this brand. It's the last thing I ate a couple of months ago before I got that awful GI thing, so I've got a taste aversion, I guess.

I saw a Boston Public tonight on TV for the first time in awhile. Seems Harvey Lipschutz(sp?) recently found out that he has a son who is African-American (Harvey is quite white and quite Jewish) and he was struggling with the idea of being invited to his family's Christmas celebration. He finally decided to go. They tried to make him feel at home with a menorah, ,and his son (who now has grandchildren of his own) said he wasn't doing it just for Harvey, but because he'd just found out he was half-Jewish and was trying to get in touch with that side. I loved Harvey's response. "First lesson: Hanukah ended three weeks ago". Then he taught the kids how to light the menorah. It was sweet.

Since I am inexplicably still in the holiday mood (it's usually beaten out of me by the end of Thanksgiving), I offer up this list. Feel free to post your own:

1) Favourite Christmas carols: Little Drummer Boy; followed by What Child is This?--you can't go wrong with Greensleeves, after all. I keep trying to rewrite O Holy Night for pagans, but I'm having some trouble. You may ask, why is a pagan nattering about Christmas stuff? Well, for one thing, these are part of my childhood. For another, I like them. Lastly, our big contribution to the season was the whole gift-giving, evergreen trees, boughs of holly, and lights. That's enough, don't you think? We don't have great music or TV shows though--not enough of a market, I suppose.

2) Favourite Holiday programmes: Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, in that order. I'm also fond of The Nightmare Before Christmas and A Child's Christmas in Wales as read by Dylan Thomas. The last sometimes comes on the radio. The most pagan programme I've found is the Rankin-Bass adaptation of L. Frank Baum's Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Very classy. If I could collect all the Rankin-Bass puppetry stuff from the 60s and 70s on DVD, I would. (They gave us Rudolph, Year without a Santa Claus, The Little Drummer Boy, Nestor--all sorts of them).

3) Least favourite programme: A Christmas Story, although to be fair I've never seen the whole thing--the kid just annoys me so much. I've seen him recently, all grown up. He improved a great deal.

4) Favourite book to read during the season: The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper

5) Favourite book to read to little ones during the season: The Velveteen Rabbit

6) Worst holiday: The year my mom and I had the flu

7) Best presentation of gift: My dad gave me a key wrapped in a matchbox that fit our outbuilding, where there was a 3-speed bike.

8) Silliest holiday picture: My dog, Cerys, with a big bow tied to her head.

9) Holiday pet peeve: The fact that most Christians don't know that the Twelve Days of Christmas run from Christmas day to January 6th (Christmas, Old Calendar). At work they try cutesy things like wearing certain items for the twelve days before Christmas.

10) Favourite thing about work at holiday time: Getting to pet Santa's horses when he comes to visit the kids.

11) Strangest thing that puts me into a holiday mood: Warm weather. I grew up in Louisiana. It seems normal.

12) Least favourite present: Anything given to me to wear by my ex-mother-in-law. She always gave me yellow or pink, neither of which I could wear. I still have a sweatshirt my sister-in-law gave me, though; it's purple with a snow scene. She was the savvy one in that family.

That's all I can think to blather about tonight. :)

Friday, December 13, 2002

Slight change...

I got tired of a little teensy column for text. Let's face it--I am verbose, and it helps to not have it go on and on down your screen. The weather magnet was the problem. So, I moved it up top and now you should have a bigger blog area, width-wise. Hope you like it. :)

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Tree update

Well, my tree's been repotted (it took three days to thaw the soil), staked, and is now draped with lights, a few iridescent ornaments, one mistletoad, and hoards of those silver icicles that other people had when I was a kid but I suspect my parents were too intelligent to use. :) So far, no major incidents have happened. When you have pets, the holidays can be interesting. I haven't found evidence that the cats are attacking the tinsel, for example. [One of my fellow librarians said she'd never really been concerned with hers; if they ate them, they'd just hack up--and this is a direct quote--"festive furballs".] Those of you without cats may not relate to this too well. I did find an ornament on the couch this evening, unbroken, and I'm still not sure how it got there. I don't see how Cerys could have brought it over without breaking the glass, but maybe she has talents I just don't appreciate fully. I will say, though, that the icicles really make the tree--the reflected light just shimmers as the tinsel sways.

Also, I'm kind of amused that at work I'm becoming known as the person to go to for assertiveness training. I was a doormat for most of my life, after all. But, I guess as I've gotten better, I've learned some ways to cope with people. One of my friends from work has a tendency to try to be polite, and it gets her into all sorts of problems. But she's kind of like I used to be--you push her so far and she finally pipes up, especially if someone says something about someone other than herself whom she cares about. She's being driven crazy by another coworker whom we've nicknamed "MLB"--"Manipulative Little Bitch". You know the type. She's not particularly bright and is downright willfully ignorant. She doesn't have much imagination--her husband chooses all her clothes for her, for example--and is kind of bored with life. So she goes around either making catty remarks about other people--"can you believe ___ likes this ___", or tries to ferret information to be used to cause dissent in her department, playing those types of games popular in teen flicks. An example, "do you realise you were the only one in the department who didn't come in when it snowed? Such and such was really upset." When, of course, such and such wasn't, everyone else had four-wheel drive, the person worked from home, her boss had no trouble with this, and if they'd wanted her in badly, they could have come and gotten her. I wrote down the following mantra for my friend: "I am not at high school. I am at work, and I do not have time to play games." Apparently it's working, along with just telling the person to get out of her face. My favourite though, was when a coworker from Thailand was eating (a bagel and cream cheese, mind you), and the girl came in and started this big production of how the food smelled like feet. She has to ridicule anything she doesn't understand, and unfortunately, that's a lot. Fortunately, I'm sure she'll get her comeuppance. No one in her department likes her, most are aware of how she's tried to play them off of each other, and I think she just needs to mess up a little to find herself fired or at the very least shut out from any interaction that isn't directly work-related. I might add that this does not normally happen where I work. I know just about everyone on day shift (we have 220 employees total), and we all get along pretty well--it's like a big not-too-dysfunctional family. It's been interesting, as an outsider, to watch, but I wish she'd just decide to be a bored housewife and leave my friends alone.

Well, that's enough for tonight. Have a happy Friday the 13th!

I liked this so much I stole it from Zabet's blog

I am not: nearly as crazy as I sometimes let on.
I hurt: pretty much all the time, so I mostly ignore it.
I hate: that we're probably going to wind up in a war where the people who give the orders don't have to worry about dying.
I fear: falling back into my shadow life where I wasn't really living and wasn't really dying, either.
I hope: that someone very special to me can get his life back.
I crave: security.
I regret: not ever getting the chance to know my twin.
I cry: pretty much at anything romantic or poignant on TV.
I care: about lots of things--people I love, my animals, and world peace, to name a few.
I long: to be able to just study what I'd like, endow the arts, and make a difference in people's lives.
I feel alone: sometimes, but that's okay.
I listen: to anyone who needs me to.
I hide: in my house, on the computer, doing nothing in particular.
I drive: hardly ever, anymore.
I sing: when I am happy, when I am sad, and when I am walking, or when I'm in the car.
I dance: home alone where no one can see me. I bop to the oldies in public, but only because I forget myself.
I write: when inspiration strikes.
I breathe: regularly, as the alternative would be death. I deep breathe when I need to keep stress at bay.
I play: a little bit every day and twice on weekends.
I miss: school.
I search: for truth.
I learn: whenever possible.
I feel: alive for the first time in twenty years.
I know: that I have flaws because I am human, but I carry in my soul a spark of divinity that echoes and connects with all of Creation.
I dream: of owning a little bookstore/herb farm and writing bestselling mysteries and fantasies.
I wonder: how it would feel if the walls between each of us dropped and we could communicate only truth.
I want: to sleep until 10am every morning (same as Zabet!).
I worry: about things that don't really matter.
I have: hard-won insight.
I give: help when I am needed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Traipsing into the hallowed halls of a men's club

Tonight I had an unusal experience, which I think has left me somewhat richer, although some might see it otherwise. Our former chairman of the board, as a means of saying thank you, hosted a dinner for all department mangers tonight. The dinner was excellent (I had the salmon, vegetables, salad, a peppermint ice cream dessert, and an interesting concoction called a "Hummer" involving Kalua, rum, creme de cocoa, and ice cream. Actually, I had two of those, as they were quite good and I wasn't driving. Having spent years being an unreasonable tea-totaller due to alcohol abuse in my family, I've decided to cultivate occasional social drinks without placing it into some sort of black/white framework). I had a good time, saw a lot of my colleagues in a more relaxed environment, etc. In the past, our chairman has treated us to dinner at area restaurants, especially those owned by friends who could use a boost to business. Tonight, however, we dined at the Lexington Club.

For those of you who are not aware of traditional men's clubs, these are places where primarily businessmen meet, drink, socialise, play cards, etc. in an essential network that helps you succeed in society. (By society, I mean the social "society" rather than the one that the majority of us live in). Many of these go back many years. The Lexington Club was founded, I believe, in 1890, if I remember the plaque on the door. As our chairman said, many a horse has been won over a game of cards in these walls. But the Club has also come under fire because it does not admit women to membership (although widows of members can hold social memberships that are non-voting). Women can dine there by invitation--apparently it's not quite as sacred a precinct as traditonal British clubs in say, the Edwardian age. While there is no prohibition per se against minorities, there are also no African-American members, although certainly every waiter we saw tonight was. [As an aside, their service was wonder, very attentive, yet openly interacting with the guests. For a moment I was afraid they were expected to be just a part of the window dressing, although I think there was a certain prestige in their jobs. Also there were other employees who were white, and one woman, but they seemed to be doing such things as checking and concierge work.] You can see where the controversy might arise. I respect the right of a private club to choose its members as it will (certainly I've been a member of a religious club that used just such a clause to keep out some of the more wacko elements that way--and just so you don't get the wrong idea, we didn't discriminate on basis of race, ethincity, gender, sexual orientation, etc., but did proscribe Satanism (not pagan--it's a Christian heresy), channelling, and possession-based practices (because they could be dangerous). The true wackos though we just rejected based on the "we don't think it would be a good fit" line, mainly because we didn't want them in our living rooms.) Still, the liberal in me is glad I wasn't paying any money to support it. I find I have mixed feelings. I can see where some in law, racing, medicine, and other forms of business might suffer if they cannot go through the network. Our chairman and another older member of their board apparently tried some time ago to foster a change to allow minorities and the majority of women (his words, not mine; he's a fine Southern gentleman who nevertheless calls things the way he sees them), only to be blocked by some of the younger members of the board. Which only goes to prove the narrow-mindedness is not a trait necessarily of the elderly.

Some other bastions of tradition have changed, after all. The Daughters of the American Revolution, for example, now state plainly that they encourage diversity. I'm sure you still have to prove you have an ancestor who served, as that is the point, and of course, for men there is a Sons of the American Revolution analogue. But if you're black and you had an ancestor that served, it's okay. I guess the Lexington Club wants to keep the status quo. Old Lexington feels threatened, I think, by things today. The city has grown immensely. And while horses and old money are still important to our economy, things have changed. Maybe the board voted as it did to reflect that fear of change. I am rather glad that our host told us about his attempts to bring about change. He's certainly part of a "good old boy network", but not hidebound. Still, it was an unusual experience and I'm not sure exactly what to make of it. I did find that I felt totally okay in terms of the social expectations, etiquette, etc.--except I did thank the wait staff each time I was served, and I don't think traditionally you're really supposed to. I just can't pretend people aren't really there; some times the best part of etiquette is knowing when and how to break the rules. But I did not feel nervous at all, although I think the woman who gave me a ride was a little overwhelmed. She's younger, and I don't think she was quite expecting the club in all it's Old Southern glory. I wasn't sure what type of establishment it was, but some intuition (and perhaps a dim memory of the story from the link above) made me suspect, so I guess I was prepared. I am rather glad I dressed well, although I did so primarily because I was chairing a professional meeting earlier in the day.

Anyway, it was interesting to observe their operations, and see some of my colleagues in a different light. But now, I'm home, getting ready to curl up with my animals and watch the Yule tree [yes, I did get it up, after repotting it, staking it, and--yes, I'm sure I'll regret this--festooning it with those old-fashioned icicles that we never used when I was a child no doubt because my mother knew better. But is very pretty. :)]

Good night.

Monday, December 09, 2002

As promised, the alternative to the Friday Five with some changes for web posting:

1. Nicknames: Lisa, Lisa Kay, Li, Elis, E, Minion or Ex-Minion, Rabid Librarian, Eilirion

2. Number of candles on your last birthday cake: 35

3. Birthday: 04/02/1967

4. Pets: Spock, Buns, Cerys, Darius, and various unnamed fish

5. Hair colour: Reddish-Brown

6. Eye colour: Hazel

7. Piercing: One in each ear.

8. How much do you love your job: That answer is subject to whim. But being a librarian rocks. Think it doesn't? Check out The Librarian Avengers.

9. Hometown: Danville, Kentucky, USA

10. Current residence: Lexington, Kentucky, USA

11. Favourite food: Mashed potatoes. As a child I would beg to lick the beaters but wouldn't touch chocolate frosting.

12. Been to Africa? No, but I'd love to go, especially to Aegypt.

13. Been toilet papering? No, toilet paper is too precious to waste on trees.

14. Been in a car accident? Yes, several, but none with injuries, thankfully (knock on wood).

15. Loved somebody so much it made you cry? Yes--also hated someone that much; fortunately not the same someone

16. Croutons or bacon bits? Neither--I prefer sunflower seeds for my crunch, although as an aside, Bacon Bits (TM) are actually made from textured vegetable protein, and are both vegetarian and kosher. Now, bits of bacon are another matter.

17. Favourite day of the week: Toss-up between Friday, aka Scrabble Night and Sunday aka Cthulhu Game Day. Note both involve games.

18. Favourite word or phrase: Ooh, I have to pick? How about: discombobulated, bleak, and "I live to serve."

19. Favourite restaurant: Aladdin , Kashmir , or Pad Thai

20. Favourite flowers: Iris, pansy, rose, chicory, lavender, orchid, and corpse flower (you got to love a giant phallic flower that smells like dead things, no?)

21. Favourite drink: Diet A&W in a frosty mug

22. Favourite sport to watch: English Premier League Soccer/Figure Skating

23. Favourite Ice cream: English Toffee

24: Disney or Warner Bros.? Neither; I'm more of a Dexter's Laboratory or Daria kinda girl

25. Favourite fast food place: Long John Silver's/A&W's

26. What colour is your bedroom carpet? Apartment building uniform beige

27. How many times did you fail your driver's test? None

28. Do you sing in the shower? Sometimes. I generally sing anywhere but the shower, especially when walking down hallways or streets.

29. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Ooh, Joseph-Beth, The Pyramid Collection, or Pier 1

30. What do you do most often when you are bored? Play Sims or surf online

31. Most annoying thing people ask me: It's not what, it's how--the "I hate to bother you, but...". I'm a librarian. It's my job to answer them or at least try to answer them. It's okay. We don't bite.

32. Bedtime: Anywhere from 6 pm - 3 am

33. Favourite TV shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Charmed, Dinotopia, Birds of Prey

34. Favourite celebrities: Female--Nicole Kidman/Catherine Zeta-Jones; Male--Sean Biggerstaff/David Duchovny/William Petersen

35. What did you want to be when you grew up? An optometrist

How about you?

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Go me!

In the past week I have survived our first winter storm (one good thing about not having a car, no scraping, no sliding), a company Christmas party, lined up a successor to my presidency of a local library consortium, dealt well with my first family resource centre visitors (even though one kept trying to sell me a wireless plan), managed to stay alive in Cthulhu and take all sorts of new game revelations in stride, read and enjoyed several chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion (apparently I needed to read from the beginning, rather than jumping straight into the Lord of the Rings, and hunted down, captured, and brought a tree home to enjoy the Yuletide season. A note on the last: being Pagan, I prefer a real tree. [What, she's getting a Christmas tree? Not at all. If you look at the history, all this greenery and gift giving come from Pagan sources that were going on long before Christ.] And in keeping with that tradition, Yule is about the survival of life in the darkness of winter, not the survival of plastic. Being a tree-hugger, I don't really want to kill one to get the effect. For years I had a small Norfolk Virginia pine in a pot that I used, but it finally shriveled up and died last summer. The ones I've seen that were similar were more than I wanted to pay for a four foot, 10" diametre pot ($25.00). This afternoon I went over to Home Depot and found the perfect size (6' tall/14" pot), but it was $40! So, I did what any budget-conscious gardening buff would do--I examined all the specimens until I found a green, viable tree that had overshot its pot, needed replanting, was even falling down without support, but still had a 10" pot (only $12). I bought it and a 12" pot ($5), so now I have a six foot tree that's nicely branched and just needs to be staked into the new pot with a little more dirt. Seeing as I carried the thing home (I live a couple of blocks away), I am now resting, blogging, and letting some dirt I had outside thaw in my kitchen sink so I can get the tree up and ready for decorating. As with my other tree, the cats were fascinated for all of five minutes and now have gone back to playing with milk tabs.

All of this, mind you, has been post DBT. I really do feel pretty well. I'm participating in a study as a control at work in which I have to fill out a questionnaire on quality of life and mood. For the first time in awhile, I don't think I'm going to come out depressed. I've generally been looking forward to the holidays (I'm listening to Christmas music right now. Granted, I'm not Christian, but I like the music, okay?)

I have to admit, though, that I have had enough socialising for one weekend. The Christmas party didn't make me feel phobic like I used to be, although the band, which was very good, was just too loud. I would have preferred to have a bunch of us go out to Perkins or something instead once it started, but since one of my friends at work is the daughter of the band's drummer, I don't think she would have come. Yesterday I watched part of the 10-hour Taken marathon (and taped the rest). It was very good. Only 10 hours more to go. Sigh. But I am totally hooked. They've done an excellent job with the period clothes and scenery, too. The website's really great, although it gave me fits when I was on a slow connexion. For those who miss it, there's a novel out there based on it as well. Then I went over to Zabet's, had dinner, played Scrabble (TM) and watched Monsters, Inc., which was just darling. I definitely need to get a copy. At work we have life-sized figures of Sully and Mike--not cardboard cutouts--3D, with a very furry Sully that the kids love to rub in the tummy. The rec therapy staff have decorated them for the holidays with garlands and stockings. I'm thinking of having my picture taken with them for next year's Yule cards.

Okay, I guess that's all for now. I may check and see if the Friday Five's back up. Better late than never. If not, I'll probably copy a response to one of those "getting to know you" e-mails I got at work the other day. When I was answering questions on celebrities, I went to Sean Biggerstaff's website to make sure the young man wasn't still a minor. I mean, a 35-year-old going gaga over a kid, right? Well, he's legal, anyway. For those of you who don't recognise him, he plays Oliver Wood in the Harry Potter movies. He's actually 20 now. He has a lovely Scottish accent and a smirk that makes both Zabet and me just melt, not to mention a name that invites all sorts of comment. But I was looking through the site and he definitely has a warm sense of humour. I particularly like the section on "What it's like living in England?" to which he replies that he doesn't know, having lived in Scotland all his life. It amazes me that Americans (okay, I'm making an assumption here, but you and I both know that they're probably Americans asking this) just don't seem to understand that the Scotland and Wales are not English. British, yes. You can even say that one is a Briton. But English, never, unless they happen to be English people living in Scotland or Wales. Northern Ireland's a little stickier, of course. But still. Geography people, it's a wonderful subject.

Talk to you later, and happy finals for all you poor suckers in school!

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Well, NaNoWriMo is officially over.

My grand total of words: 7,804. Far short of the 50,000 I meant to write. But, as they say, tomorrow is another day. Some things I learned along the way:

1) I tend to write in a completed sort of way--no diamond in the rough to be polished over and over. I always did that with term papers--I abhorred rough drafts. My mind plays it out like a movie long before the words make it onto the screen. In role-playing games I have characters spring forth fully formed. The good news is I need less revision than some. The bad news is that I can't bring myself to spew forth words without thinking about my choices. It has to make sense as I write, and I have to care about my characters and the story. It can't be some rambling stream-of-consciousness thing. Plots are nice. Believable plots are even better.

2) I write from somewhere deep inside, not just my brain. If the Muse is kind, it flows outward gracefully. I won't say it is effortless--it is draining. But if the inspiration is not there no amount of pumping for water will bring up the flow. On the other hand, I think I can meet a deadline--just not a book a month. :) Maybe two a year.

3) I think the effort is well worth it. I'm going to continue writing my novel. The way I look at it, I'm almost 8,000 words ahead of where I was November 1st, so the effort wasn't wasted.

On another note, I'm enjoying my holiday immensely so far. I rested on Thanksgiving and did some things that needed to be done around the house. On Thanksgiving night I happened across my father's website. My father and I have been estranged for several years. I have no desire to contact him, but I like to keep up with where people are long after they exit my life. I was somewhat disconcerted to find that our entire life together--I hesitate to call it a family, as we were basically three people all doing their own thing in close geographical proximity to one another--was summed up in a short clause somewhere between his childhood and when he started raising horses twenty years later. But the oddest thing was that one of his brood mares--he, his wife, and step-daughter raise quarter horses--is named after my mother. No long name like you usually see with registered pedigrees--just Phyllis. I told my mom, and she thinks it's hilarious. John says he thinks he came out ahead--he'd rather have the woman over a horse. Zabet tsked tsked over the design and made derogatory comments about people doing web pages in Word--with which I have to agree, as Windows XP shut down IE three times because of errors on the page. People are supportive in their own way. Anyway, it's at Clover Ridge Farm. I have to admit, reading through the rather pompous text (yes, I got that from my dad--when we think we're being funny we generally aren't, although I at least recognise that) I found myself thinking two things: 1) I hope he's enjoying life and maybe grown up and found a little wisdom along the way. Maybe this works for him. Maybe he's finally happy and feels good about what he does. 2) I'm glad that he's in my past. I won't say I never want to see him again---but I don't think the wounds are going to heal any time soon--they're very old and very deep.

Yesterday I spent most of the day with a friend from work. That is a blog in and of itself--I think I'll leave that story for tomorrow, since it's kind of late right now and I'm sleepy. Suffice to say I was grilled for three hours by a very tenacious character (her husband) on all sorts of subjects from Ouija boards to totalitarianism, and she's probably afraid I'll never step foot in the place again. I will, don't worry. I love a chance to lecture. :)

Today I went home to Danville and visited my family. I modelled the new coat I'd bought with money from my grandmother. It's very warm and a bright sky blue, which seems to be much more visible at night. As much as I love purple and black, they don't show up well after dark.

One thing about my acquaintances is that we run a fairly large gamut in terms of religion and/or holidays. Tonight I got to celebrate Chanukah and I helped with holiday wrapping while we listened to Christmas music with a beautiful tree decked in purple and gold in the background. I still have my own preparations for Yule to make, but generally I'm ready.

On that note, I am getting...very...sleepy (too much Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald). I'll contine tomorrow. 'Night.