Monday, December 7, 2009

Whackamole and Wild Dogs Redux

I have been thinking about whackamole and wild dogs for several days now. These two disparate mental pictures symbolize stress for me. Years ago when my life felt about 95% out of control, I enjoyed going to pizza restaurants with my young daughter and playing whackamole, that game where you have a mallet and every time a head pops up you whack it soundly. I found this activity very satisfying because I named the heads after various projects and also named some after people who I thought were making my life miserable (Take THAT Mr.Ex!).

Another analogy for having too many irons in the fire is the perception that I am being pursued by wild dogs who are snapping and slathering at my heels. These dogs bear the names of projects with due dates closing in on me. The last several days have been devoted to battling these dogs. Today, though, I started thinking about the last time I felt this way. I was pretty sure I even blogged on the topic before. So I just now looked up my previous whackamole/wild dog account and it was dated December 4, 2008! That means one year ago to the very week I was in the same spot! Well, I got through with everything then and I will get through it this time! I hope.

This time the the biggest dog is named IMLS, as in Institute of Museum and Library Services. I am working on our department's third grant...the first two were awarded in 2007 and 2009. Now we are going for a third. No matter how much thought and work has gone into the early stages, the last days of preparing a grant for submission are tedious and hectic. Today I assembled all the documents, with the help of our grants office. They are now on the way to be examined and signed. Am I breathing a sigh of relief? Well, not really. But I am hoping to do so day after tomorrow, my target day for submitting, all of one week prior to the due date.

The next dog is one I wrote about last year at this time...Belltones. Yep, I had a column due this week just like last year. This bad boy has been beaten back again. I sent off my latest column about an hour ago. For this, I CAN breathe a sigh of relief. But Ol' Beller will be back in late January since my next due date is the first week of February.

The third dog is named Digital Native. I was invited to write a chapter for a book about digital natives. I have already had two drafts exchanged with my longsuffering editor, and am hoping to finish up final revisions within days. Then there are two other dogs gaining on me. One is called Portfolio. Our graduates create a portfolio for a final project, and their creations are due today. Which leads me to the last dog, named Grading. I must do my part in grading all portfolios as well as grade all remaining work of students in my Fall 2009 classes. Will I prevail? Will I whack down all the heads and fight off all the snarling dogs? Well I did it last year! Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Remembering Dani

I have gotten myself to the place where I vowed never to go, that of letting my blog languish. The way I do this to myself is that I get very busy and miss my internal deadlines. Then I feel guilty and tell myself that if I AM going to post something, it had better be significant to make up for the missed/lost time. Then I postpone because I cannot come up with a topic that makes up for my absence. But I am doing more here than just renewing my commitment to my blog...I am keeping my promise to start back with a very important post. For weeks I have been thinking about writing another bittersweet entry in which I remember a former student who was taken far too soon in life. So this blog is about Dani Faulk.

From the first session of the first class I taught with Dani, I recognized her as an exceptional student. She already possessed the confidence and ability that I seek to impart in students regarding technology. She was one of those students who would need extra freedom in order for her to develop her abilities. She did not take the easy route of doing assignments by putting to work what she already knew, but went beyond to learn new skills and explore new ideas. In short, she was the sort of student who was a natural for graduate studies without needing an explanation of what that means. Other qualities that made her special were her enthusiasm and her willingness to share. She was a leader in classes, and often took the role of encourager with students who were not so readily adept. Her sense of humor shone through in many of her assignments. In particular I remember a final project she did for the class I teach called Internet for librarians. She chose to explain “Netiqutte” to her staff and students. She created a powerpoint, which at that time was the tool assigned, and in her slides she used her Nancy Pearl, Library Action Figure doll. She knew, as do all my students, that Nancy is something of a doppelganger for me. In each slide, she would recommend “do's” and “don'ts” with Nancy delivering the admonitions. For the “don'ts” she armed Nancy with a little AK47 swiped from one of her sons. I loved the assignment and wished aloud for guns for my own Nancy. Within a few days, I received a greeting card with the guns enclosed. That was Dani, going beyond the expected in generosity as well as in her work.

I know her students loved her. I know in the short years after she finished her MLS she inspsired a lot of kids to read and helped a lot of people learn how to learn. What I don't know is why she had to leave us so soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Digital Natives: Wonderful WONDERFUL Video!

Recently I posted an entry here and also to the Classroom 2.0 Ning about digital natives. ( I got several very nice responses at the ning and one more here. My question was...what do kids know, and also what do the NOT know? My contention is that they do indeed have an affinity for technology that "digital immigrants" do not have. Also they do have a fearlessness and desire to use tech at school. BUT they lack important other information including how to search efficiently, how to evaluate material, and how to be safe and smart online.

Here is a video that was shared along with some other response over at Classroom 2.0, and super thanks to Doug Valentine for sharing:

To view the whole conversation, go here:

I would love to have more conversation/comments, either here or at the Ning. One thing that has not been addressed is the concern I have that part of what kids do NOT know is how to be safe and smart online. We need to be teaching that much more, I contend.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Timely piece to share: "People of Color" by Linda Herring Behrend

One cool thing about Facebook is that you reconnect with many people. My daughter had a wonderful English teacher in high school for a couple of AP classes. They happened to share the last name, Herring. When Linda moved away, I lost track of her but then Emily found her former mentor on FB. It is nice to know she is happy and doing well. Here is a piece she wrote this week. that I think contains a message we can all appreciate:


People without color,
Those pale souls so colored by blood,
Stains of that un-Civil War,
A war over a workforce:
The abuse of human muscle lashed by the un-human colorless.

Almost 150 years hence, some still wish for plantation ‘splendor,’
Scarlet stained blood of ones of color.
Lily white hands stained by the scarlet savagery of slavery.

Centuries later, the stains remain,
Re-bloodied by each act of savagery.

The colorless pray for a heaven unavailable to them
So bloodied by the bane of slavery.

Until all are of color, the color of kindness and kinship.
Until that day…

Thank you, Linda, for allowing me to share this here. Emily and I remain among your most fervent fans!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Collection with Great Flash Displays of Pictures and Documents

Last week I went looking for a site that I want to use in an upcoming presentation about visual literacy. I thought it was a museum site, and I remembered a page with lots of graphics that were beautifully presented. When you clicked on one, you would get basic information and from there you could click again and get more detail if you wished. Sadly I had not tagged the site and could not remember how to find it. I thought it was a museum in either Washington DC or New York but the places I checked, while having great websites, were not the one I wanted. I even wondered if I had imagined the site! Finally I posted to Texas Library Connection (TLC) and Library Media Specialists Network (LM_NET) asking for help finding this resource. I got some wonderful responses, but on the first day, no one offered the one I remembered. The next morning, though, my hopes were fulfilled. Here is my posting with the good news:

I KNEW someone would find this site for me! I HAD FAITH that I was not completely crazy in remembering it. Somehow I failed to tag it. The site is...drumroll...National Archives' Digital Vaults/National Archives Experience. The URL:
I know I said museum, but to me that is a type of museum...and I said art, and it is more like prints...but even with those miscues, I got my site. Thanks to everyone for suggestions, many of which were also great ones. Bottom line, most major museums have a compelling flash display for their online images. Here is THE SITE and thanks to Mary Beth Huba, from Benold Middle School, Georgetown, TX! And Mary Beth, I don't know if you got my personal thanks but I did send. It was rejected once by the district spam filter. That's me, your trusty spam mailer! Cheers, mabell

If you have not visited this site, take time to go. I looked at a lot of other great locations but this one is still my favorite.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wordle for George H.W.Bush's Address to School Children

CLICK IMAGE TO SEE MORE CLEARLY...It seems to me that comparing/contrasting the two speeches would be a great activity for secondary students, and maybe for some other folks also...
Wordle: Text President George H.W. Bush's Address to Students When He Was In Office

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wordle for Obama Education Speech

BLURRY TEXT!! Click on image for clearer view...

Wordle: Obama Education Speech

CLICK ON IMAGE TO GET BETTER RESOLUTION AT WORDLE SITE. Like me, it is randomized and scattered.
Do you see any controversial words???

Site 'O Day: Educational Origami


Educational Origami is a wiki that is chock full of information for educators who want to use technology in classrooms, labs, and libraries. It is where I link up to the free book, Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, by Andrew Churches, and this wiki is his site. There is so much great information here that I do not feel I can adequately describe it other than to say...just go look! Kudos to Mr. Churches for his generosity in sharing this site and the entire book he has written! The book is well worth downloading and is very up-to-date with references to tools we should all know about NOW.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What's on When?

I have tons of sites at my Delicious page, including many tagged "Share." These are sites I love and want to remember to share with students and colleagues...but I never share them! Too busy. So my latest resolve is to post one every day (OK almost every day) with a SHORT description. Here is one I have been meaning to mark and close, that has been sitting open for a procrastinating week. It is called What's on Where, and is a travel site to let you know what is going on in cities and countries all over the world. I looked up NYC because I am planning to take a student group back there this coming June. Sadly I will miss the Salsa Congress and the Brooklyn Book Festival but the museums will still be there and going strong. Closer to our date the site will be even more relevant.If you travel a lot, or want to plan a trip, this is a great tool to add to your collection. Enjoy!

PS My embarrassingly disorganized Delicious links are at:
Oh and...I also have a tag called "revisit" for sites I want to visit again because they are so cool. I never get around to that either. But I know one of these days I can!

What do kids really know?

My question is...what do kids really know about technology and the Internet? I just posted this over at Classroom 2.0 and thought I would post here too. I admit to being a little nervous about posting to Classroom 2.0 because I am largely inactive there and feel very much a newby. Hoping for discussion from whatever venue I can exploit. Here is my query:

I am aware there has been a great discussion on this topic. It is called "Are They Really Digital Natives?? But no one has visited/responded in nearly a year. I would love some more recent discussion on the topic. Yes, I am writing an article and looking for quotes, and will hope to garner some plus permission to use. But I am also really concerned about this. Too often, I fear, some educators assume kids know a lot more than is the case about technology and the Internet. They assume kids don't need too much instruction or direction because as "digital natives" they already know all that they need to know. I think this opinion is likely to be held by adults who really need to learn more about the technologies for themselves. I think the comments in the other discussion of this topic are still true as 2009 winds down and we look towards 2010. Kids know how to text, have love affairs with their phones, are adept at social media, and are often gadget freaks. But do they know how to search? How to evaluate websites? How to use applications that are directed toward learning and productivity as well as those popular for social networking. I think I will post a survey about this via SurveyMonkey but right now am being so bold is to reintroduce the topic here. I should add that while I have been a Classroom 2.0 member for a long time, I have not ever posted a discussion before. I have been more of a drop in/drop out member. This is due to heavy demands on my time that keep me doing things I MUST do and wishing for more times for environments like this. So I am boldly going where I have not gone before and hoping some of you will be interested in reviving this topic. Thanks in advance,

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Memories of a Great Lady, Dr. Janelle Paris

This afternoon I attended a memorial gathering for Dr. Janelle Paris, former professor at Sam Houston State University. She had been in poor health for several years, and died in June. Those in attendance were members of her church family, friends and neighbors, and members of the Department of Library Science at SHSU. Many people spoke fondly of Jan, but she will always be Dr. Paris for me. I had three classes with her back in the 1980's, Literature for Children, Library Administration, and Library Programming. They were all wonderful, and the programming class in particular influenced me. Because of this class, I became a librarian who placed a high value on special events, promotional activities, contests, and efforts to encourage everyone at my school to love books and enjoy visiting the library. At the gathering there was a table covered with written tributes to her from people who remembered her.

Dr. Paris did a lot for faculty and students at Sam Houston State University, and she continues that service through a bequest by which future students will receive scholarship money to assist them with their studies. But her reach went much further than that. It was Dr. Janelle Paris who led the campaign to have a state book award for children's literature. Like many state awards, the annual honor is given to a book chosen by boys and girls in Texas who choose from an annual list of outstanding titles. Because of her leadership, youngsters throughout the state and beyond its borders are encouraged to read widely and compare books in order to pick their choice each year. Information about this year's list, activities to accompany the reading of the books, and how to participate in the voting process can be found at

I hope that this year as librarians, parents, and teachers introduce the list to youngsters, they will take a minute to remember Dr. Paris, who loved children, loved books, and loved bringing them together. Her legacy will live on through the award, through the Janelle Paris Library at the First Methodist Church in Huntsville, TX, and through the Janelle Paris Memorial Scholarship to be awarded annually at Sam Houston State University. Thanks, Dr. Paris, for all you did for me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Passing of Ted Kennedy and Video to View

Yes, I am being political again. I do recommend this video, so that is the technology part of this entry, that we can have such resources readily at hand these days:
It does not show a man that deserves the vilification that I fear will be forthcoming after his death last night. I know some foes will bring up his past mistakes and maybe express happiness that there is one less health care vote in the Senate. The video shows a man speaking from the heart. I hope all thinking Americans can view it and evaluate it on its face. I was struck by the story of his son and the clinical trial treatment that he received. Maybe that is what saved this youngster, who is of course alive and well today. Maybe not. But it gave him and his family hope at a tough time. Meanwhile, other participants had to drop the treatment after the trial funding terminated. This reminded me of my husband Ron's situation. He was lucky to have good health insurance when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was also lucky to have a boss who kept him on the payroll as long as possible so he would not lose that coverage. He worried every single day about losing that coverage when it would run out if he lived long enough. At one point during treatment, he was offered a chance to participate in a clinical trial. There was NO CHARGE for this treatment, which simply offered the combination of two drugs already proved effective. The question was whether they had increased value if offered together. Ron knew that his time was limited but this offer gave him hope on two fronts. First, we hoped it would give him a little more time. Second, and this meant a lot to him, he would be able to help others. He was greatly buoyed up by these two ideas. But when we went in to start the treatment, we learned his insurance company would not allow it. "How can this be?" we is FREE! We were told that the company had a strict policy to not allow any clinical trials, ever. If he participated, he would lose all present and future coverage. Of course he dropped out. The doctor in charge said sadly that this happens all too often with insurance companies. The result is, aside from denying patients immediate hope, that there is less opportunity to further research about treatment of grave diseases. Alas. Ron was not normally a cynical guy, but on this occasion he said, "Well, I guess they are just afraid I might live a little longer and cost them a little more money." He died four months later. To those who decry health care might want to check with your insurer and ask about your ability to participate in a clinical trial if you ever want to. Do you know if you will be allowed?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dynamite Speaker: Kozhi Makai

Confession time: I was not 100% enthusiastic about hauling out on a Saturday afternoon for an on-campus event, much as I do love the university where I teach. Normally I am more than ready to don my regalia for occasions, since it is incredibly beautiful. I have lovely robes in Baylor University's colors, green and gold. But I was tired, it was hot, and I was strongly tempted to stay home. BUT I was happy to be in the company of my colleagues and, once we got lined up and the music started, I was happy to be there. I was even happier to be in attendance when the speaker began his remarks. This posting is to praise our remarkable speaker, Dr. Kozhi Makai. Here is his website:
He gave an inspiring address to incoming freshmen at our university, and it is a tribute to him that he had their rapt attention. I am glad I went! Oh and, best wishes to all brand new Bearkats!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For Shame!

I don't have a way to tie this in with technology, but maybe with librarianship and certainly with education and educators in general. It troubles me that people are disrupting town hall meetings in our country by shouting and heckling to the point that the meetings really cannot proceed. This bothers me on many levels, and yes, I am in favor of health care and insurance reform, but I think I would oppose the shouting regardless of which side was acting out. Right now I am thinking about how this reflects behavior upon these people's educations and their respect for intelligent discourse. And more than that, I am concerned about the terrible example it sets for boys and girls. Political conservatives often are proponents of such "value based" educational movements as zero tolerance for misbehavior, strict adherence to school rules, school uniforms, etc. They love to talk about "back to basics" and teaching respect and strong moral values at school. Do these people feel that they are setting positive examples for their children and grandchildren when they shout and scream at speakers at political gatherings? I worked in public schools for 25 years--10 in the classroom and 15 in school libraries. One thing I tried to teach was proper audience behavior when students were given the opportunity to hear guest authors and other speakers. How would we react if students thought they could shout down an author?

When I was growing up, I was a high school debater. I even went to the state meet, where we were soundly and fairly defeated in the first round. This shows my age, but my senior year the debate topic was medicare. I was for it. My partner and best friend was against. But we learned to debate both sides. We also learned not to make any kind of statement or argument unless we could back it up with references. I did more research as a debater than I did for any other school experience. My friend and I did not get angry with one another because we disagreed on the topic. Our parents were friends, and their personal views mirrored ours. Susan's dad was a dentist and a Republican, and my dad was Chairman of the Democratic Party in our Texas county. These differences did not in any way mean we could not all be very close. If I were to call Susan today, I suspect she would be against health care reform, or at least the versions advanced by Democrats. But we could still have a friendly conversation. Where has that spirit gone? How can these disruptive people feel good about themselves when they think about the terrible example they are displaying for boys and girls? It makes me sad to see this rudeness be glorified as "free speech" or "patriotism." Alas and for shame.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Advice I Ever Had...How About You?

This link was making the rounds yesterday and I did enjoy reading what people said. I think the question was really what was the best and the worst advice you ever received? Here is the link. Most responders are from the business or entertainment world.

One thing I thought was striking was the number of people who named their parents. This serves as a reminder to us as parents of the immense influence we have on our children. Here are my bests and worst:

BEST: My parents always taught me to do my best, and modeled this ideal in their own lives. One thing in particular I remember is that my dad would offer me counsel when I failed to measure up to my own standards, maybe making a "B" instead of an "A" in a class. He would say, "Did you do your best?" When I replied yes, he would say, "Then stop worrying! What more could you have done?" I still remind myself of his words today when I "mess up" in trying to perform perfectly in a demanding job.

WORST: My folks were products of their times, and marked by the depression. When I was ready for college, I was told, "You can be a teacher, a secretary, or a nurse. Those are your options. Which will it be?" Today I am glad that we offer young women a much broader range of choices. Actually, becoming a teacher was a happy choice for me, but it would have been exciting and interesting to at least consider other options. My mother had an amazing ability to see into the future though. Maybe she was just putting things in those terms because her intuition told her I should be a teacher. I am happy with my life's work, in any case.

How about you? I would love responses!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Up With Technology

I am a fine one to talk about keeping up. Here I am woefully overdue to update my blog, despite the fact that I have any number of entries stored in my head. The trip I was anticipating in my previous posting is now a kaleidoscope of wonderful memories. Re-entry was a bit of a challenge, and kept me scrambling all last week. So here I am showing up late for my own party again. I did post last week to several sharing sites asking for tips on keeping up with technology. I asked my tweets and also posted to LM_Net, TLC, and EDTECH. I will post again, but want to share my number one best response, which to my great pride was sent by a former student. Jamie Camp, now librarian at Benfer Elementary in Klein ISD, TX, sent this wonderful missive. Thanks so much, Jamie!

"I try to keep up with tech trends in several ways:
*twitter--you have to build a useful network first though. Start by following some of the well-known tech or library people, like you, Joyce Valenza, David Warlick, Scott McLeod, Wes Fryer--and by looking at their communities, you come to great people like Keisa Williams or Melissa Techmann, Lisa Thumann or Liz Davis. Drop the people that don't tweet, or that tweet too much about stuff that you don't need to know! And tweet back to your community too! It's ok to lurk for awhile, but if you continue only lurking, you're missing a huge resource that could be helping you with your particular interests/projects!

*RSS-if you don't really understand RSS or don't know how to use an aggregator to collect blogs, podcasts, searches, videos of interest to you, this is one of the MOST important tools you should concentrate on! Learn to use Google Reader and/or iTunes! They are invaluable and pretty easy, with lots of tutorials available on their site, CommonCraft youtube, etc.

*podcasts--I've been addicted for years! Especially helpful in this area is the EdTechTalk community. EdTechWeekly is a GREAT source of new info each week. All of the shows that are supported by this community are top-notch. This is really an amazing group of people.

*Social networks: Learn central--this is a community founded by Steve Hargadon, as is another great ning community called Classroom2.0 . The live portion of this site has all sorts of videos and elluminate sessions archived here .
*Delicious is a bookmarking site, which is wildly handy in itself, but the really powerful part of it is the SOCIAL part! Here you can not only store your bookmarks "in the cloud," the tagging feature allows you to see what other people have found too! You can subscribe to a certain tag string or to a certain user. This is very powerful.

*Blogs- Daily, I read several blogs. I intentionally make it part of my day because there is sooo much to be learned out there. Twitter has killed off a few blogs, but there are still some amazing people writing, reflecting and connecting thru blogs. I find new ones all the time, through reading other people's blogs. I drop blogs when I find that they don't meet my interests or needs. Choose a few and read them daily for awhile. Decide how many and which ones meet your needs! Here are my never-miss-them blogs in my Google Reader: Joyce Valenza's NeverEndingSearch, David Warlick's 2Cents Worth and ConnectLearning, Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk Blog, Dr. Bell's For Whom the Bell Told, Richard Byrne's Free Technology 4 Teachers (this one is FANTASTIC for new links/tools for teachers, and it's quick to read) and Bob Sprankle's Bit by Bit."

I should add that you can follow Jamie more closely in her two wonderful blogs:

Sunday, July 5, 2009


The first time I went to London was in 2002, and I was "shadowing" one of my heroes, Dr. Bonnie Thorne, who was actually leading the travel study group. I carried my beloved 35 mm camera and an extra telephoto lens. That was the only "gadget" I took. My cell phone would have been useless and it never occurred to me to carry my laptop. We DID have computer access at the dorm in Regent's College where we stayed. Things are much different now, though. Here is a list of must-have items for travel:
  • Netbook--Asus eee computer
  • Kindle2
  • iPhone (of course!)
  • Casio Exilim camera (brand new)
  • Wireless modem
These items go with me everywhere, now that I think of it, whether it is for a couple of nights with Dad in the Texas Hill Country or on an international trek. The only thing that varies is which/how many computers. I will probably take my big MacBookPro if I am driving, for instance. How about you? What are your must-haves???





Whenever I pack for an upcoming trip, I seek out my little traveling buddies, my Nancy Pearl dolls. Nancy goes wherever I go and has her picture waaaaay too often. She has been to London twice, Ireland, Mexico, East Coast, West Cost, Washington DC, all over Texas, road tripping through the South, Miami, and many more exciting places. It is necessary for me to travel with more than one, because I tend to leave them behind. One floated away in London, bobbing along in Regent's Canal. Another went AWOL after a photo op with the naked cowboy in Times Square. Others have disappeared in Dublin and in Portland, OR. So I take several dolls along. When I did inventory this morning, I made a distressing discovery. A couple of Nancys were terribly maimed. They had both lost arms at the elbow, one missing a right and the other missing the left. The one missing the shushing arm was particularly upset, but wouldn't you know, they both had characteristically stiff upper lips. Since I have packed, unpacked, and packed again and done any number of other over-the-top travel prep things (washing shoes! gluing shoes back together!), I decided I had time to perform surgery on my little buddies. I used wire and pliers, and even with these crude instruments, my little amigas remained serene and still through their procedures. I am happy to report that both operations went well and the Nancys will have a restful evening nestled in my bag. Tomorrow they will be almost good as new!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nerdy July 4th

I guess it says a lot about my nerd quotient that I am online and looking up words July 4th. No homemade ice cream for me, though I did have watermelon for breakfast. I am spending the day packing and grading, so that I can be ready for my upcoming BIG TRIP to Toronto and Chicago, leaving early Monday morning. Anyway, as I was working away, I received an obsequious email. The missive sent me searching for the right word to describe it and that adjective popped up out of the murky recesses of my reading-but-not-speaking vocabulary. This was interesting to me because I can say with fair certainty that I have never used the word before, either in writing or in speech. I wasn't sure how to even spell it but got close enough to get myself to an online dictionary where I could verify that it was the perfect word (YES!) and also hear the pronunciation. Now I plan to use it a lot! Interestingly the email was not from a student, but from someone else I know. Anyway, this little experience turned into a 30 minute detour into territory far afield from grading or packing. Here are two more things I found out:
  • I really like the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary for a quick reference and good, clear pronounciation:
  • I LOVE THIS AD!!! It was on the dictionary page but I located it via YouTube so I could share it for sure:
  • Not only that but the Duluth Trading Co. has a rabid fan base (though obviously not among beavers) and all sorts of fun links about its ads. Just Google and see! Plus if you Google today you get to see another great holiday graphic!
  • Oh and...lots of people other than plumbers would do well to wear Duluth's Long Tail T-shirts! Check out the plumber's butt ad as well...
Happy 4th everybody! Have some cabrito and ice cream for me!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Paper

I slept way too late this morning. But I woke up feeling rested, a huge benefit. I was really looking forward to a nice cup of coffee on the porch and a leisurely browse through my Sunday paper. But then, I stepped out into my front yard Sunday paper! Not finding it gave me a sharp pain in my planning center. I am very ritualistic about my Sunday paper, and not having one has in the past forced me into my car early in the day to find a copy. Not today though. I just shrugged, picked up a copy of Knowledge Quest and enjoyed my coffee with that. To know what a shift this is for me, you would have to understand to what degree I have been a newsprint junkie. Not only do I equate having a newspaper with having a good day, I have for years been quite ritualistic about how I read. First I go through the front section, next come editorials, and so on. Thus for me to shrug off not receiving my paper fix, and on a Sunday at that, is a fairly dramatic shift. It makes me wonder...If I am able to have such a nice day without my paper, will there come a day when I no longer subscribe? What does it portend for newspapers that a loyal devotee like me no longer misses having a paper badly enough to go beyond my front walk to get one? What will become of newspapers?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Insect Nostalgia

I am really supposed to be working on an article about Internet tagging right now, according to my list of things to do today. But in the course of writing I made reference to my childhood ambition to be an entomologist. I was a serious insect collector. I had the long pins, the mounting boards (I made mine from cigar boxes with cork bottoms), the field guides, etc. The way I classified my poor dead subjects was by little rectangles of paper which were skewered high on a pin before the specimin was mounted. Upon these little slips I wrote in tiny print the common name, scientific name, and other information. Looking back at this I can make a couple of observations:
  • I was learning about any number of things at the same time.
  • I was using an early form of tagging, which today's online kids are much more likely to enjoy.
Following along with my distracting activities, I am waxing nostalgic about the beetles of my childhood. I used to see those big black bumbling beetles in my back yard all the time: rhinocerous beetles, stag beetles, and others of similar ilk. Where have they gone? I have not seen one in years, and fear they will never again be as common as they once were. I wonder if any readers have seen my long lost friends? Oh, and here is the website that got me started: Beetle Gallery:
I found it by searcing tags at delicious. Oh! Tags! Gotta get back to work! But have you seen any wonderful beetles lately??

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Change Lanes!

If you were driving down TX 290 just out of Giddings this afternoon, you saw a crazy looking lady with a dog on a leash waving cars over out of the far right lane. A wonderfully kind man was changing my flat tire. He was fast and good thing because there is no shoulder along there and people were whizzing by like we were already roadkill. I have a bad way of putting myself out front when something like this happens. I used to be the one to step in on fights in junior high hallways, even girl fights, and I was determined to wave people over so this nice man would not get flattened. But why did this have to be so hard? People in the center lane refused to let outside laners over, and people on the right side were not about to slow down. So next time you are cruising along and you see a poor soul stranded by the side of the road, do the decent thing and change lanes, for Pete's sake! You don't have to stop and help, though you could make a call to authorities if the situation warrants. I can understand why one would not want to stop for a stranger though it is hard to see how I and my aged dog could look dangerous. But think a thought. Move over. If you hit something, Mr/Ms impatient motorist, it could mess up your car and really slow you down. Stop the honking and give some space! Geez. End of Rant.

Oh and...what does this have to do with librarianship or technology? Well, at times like this I still do feel grateful for my cell phone. What did we ever do without them? Not only was I able to call roadside assistance, but I could also call ahead so my dad would not worry when I ran late. Idella IPhone proves her worth again!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I just had the most fun day-brightener I can think of! I was vegging out in my chair and checking email while watching Maddow on MSNBC. I found a message from a former student. She had wondered if I ever was able to indentify the little bird that I rescued about a month ago. Right now I cannot even remember where I posted his picture, but not here because I just looked. He had flown into a window on our campus and was sitting on the porch right in front of the building. I was afraid a campus cat would get him. I enlisted two student workers, and we scooped birdie into a roomy cardboard box. I had to go to a meeting, but I told them that if he were to start stirring around, they should take him outside and see if he would just fly away. He did, they did, and off he went! I posted his picture because I could not figure out what kind of bird he was, but never go a definitive ID. Just now I got an email from a former student with the last name of Byrd, who never met a reference question she didn't like. She sent the picture to her sister, who had studied ornithology in college. Sis emailed her prof, and we got an ID: He is a yellow breasted chat! Here is a link and his picture is up above. Maybe someone can tell me why the pic is sideways when it was right on my computer. Anyway, you can see that he was very brilliantly colored and quite lovely. Bless his little heart, he was just migrating though. I hope after his traumatic experience he reached his destination. Here is one of many locations where you can read more about him.
For those of you who are nature freaks as am I, here is another link, with better pics.
If you scroll down a bit, you see a great pic of a puffed up chat who looks just like my little guy.
PS Tech tidbit: Coincidentally, before even getting the email I downloaded the iPhone app with bird calls. It is fun to play if you have a cat in the house.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sentimental Journey

I think it was in May of my first year of teaching that I realized I really liked my career. I made a somewhat reluctant entry into the field. Mom told me I should pick a career that would mesh well with my husband's, because he would be the breadwinner and I would need to follow him wherever his job led. I didn't even question this! I was not crazy about the options she recommended though. She can be a secretary, a nurse, or a teacher. Which will it be? I had secret designs on a life as a writer, but never told her that. I knew I would be a lousy nurse--I was not crazy about the sight of blood and not particularly nurturing. I had worked for Dad doing office duties for all my teen years and knew I did NOT want to be a secretary. Still, I wanted a college education and thus went along with the teacher idea. I did assert myself enough to insist on majoring in English and MINORING in secondary ed and history. I took the absolute minimum of ed classes and frankly some of them were pretty lousy. I soaked up the English and history and secretly held on to my dream to be a writer.

Then I found myself in a 7th grade classroom teaching English to some very disadvantaged kids in Arlington Texas. They could SEE Dallas but had never been there. They had no idea who was running for president that year, or who should win. This reveals my age, but it was Humphrey vs. Nixon. The kids were a mix of African American, Native American, and a few Anglos. Their parents were not the types to darken the door of my temporary building on parents' night. A number of these kids had been shipped to an industrial area from a reservation in New Mexico, for their parents to take low paying jobs in factories nearby. They had last names that were nouns like Fish and Wolf, and they longed for home back in New Mexico. The more experienced teachers had the brighter kids whose parents were PTA officers and volunteers. Nothing in my college years had prepared me for this batch of reluctant scholars. Still, at the end of the year, I found myself feeling sad to tell those kids goodbye. I was leaving the district and getting married, and it seemed unlikely that I would ever come back to Arlington.

I can still see some of these kids in my mind and actually remember some of their names. There was Greg, who horrified me one day by raising all his books and materials above his head and slamming them down on the floor. It was a pretty big stack of books and made a very loud and dramatic sound. Unnerved, I sent him to the principal. Later that administrator, the best principal I ever had, came to my room and told me that Greg said, "I don't know why I did that in her class. She is the only person here who ever tried to help me." I also remember Bob, who wrote in an essay that he wanted to kill his mother. I brought him up to my desk and said I could not give a grade on a paper that said that. Surely he didn't mean it, and could he just write another? He looked me right in the eye and said, "You don't get it. I. Really. Want. To. Kill. My. Mother." He refused to change his work and I went ahead and gave him a grade. I was too inexperienced and lacking in confidence to do anything else about his revelation. Why I didn't have the gumption to go to the school counselor, or try to help him in any other way, I don't know. I have always wondered what happened to those two boys, and many of the other kids I had in class that year.

This entry has zero to do with librarianship but I CAN throw in a little technology. I brought in my own cassette tape recorder one day, the same one I was using to send my fiance tapes while he was in VietNam. I had them all read a little and then played back the recordings. These kids had never heard their own voices. One kid, a big boisterous girl who scared me more than a little bit, got mad at me. She insisted that was NOT her voice and somehow I was playing a trick on her! Ironically I had tried to keep from making her mad all year and then achieved the feat by doing something that I thought would be fun for all.

I guess I am thinking of these kids because I am ending another school term and having some of the same feelings of not wanting to tell my students good-bye. I had a great group this semester, one that really embodied words like collegial and collaborative. The neat thing about my students today, beyond the fact that they are all over-achieving graduate MLS students, is that I don't have to say good by, farewell, probably won't know what becomes of you. I can keep up with them and the will join the many grads from our program who are out there in the schools doing great things with their students. Thanks ladies, you've been a great group!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Snow Rollers???

Long time no blog. But I have excuses! I will refrain from elaborating. I thought I would re-enter with a very short bit. I am much endebted to Mary Ludwick for sharing this via LM_NET. Here in Texas I can assure you we never have snow rollers. We have big-hair rollers. We have holy rollers. But not these, though what a treat it would be to see such a thing, even if only once:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grammar Girl Podcast

Well, I may be the last grammarian to hear about this great resource, but I did want to share after having it recommended by a student. Grammar Girl talks about grammar, its importance, and her frustrations living in a world where so few people CARE like she does about grammar. I miss my mother. She might have had to get herself online for this resource even though she resolutely refused to touch a computer all her long life. Mom used a red pencil to mark up my letters home from college and send them back to me. In a perverse way I was a a little proud of this. (As in "You think YOUR mother is controlling, look at this!") But because of her I have the same lack of patience for careless expression, either written or spoken. Here is the URL, and thanks, Virginia, for showing me the way to Grammar Girl:

PS Now I am worried...Should I have used "like" or "as" up there to talk about how she cares? Anyone want to tell me? Yep, I am testing you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

LM_NET Saved My Life!

Yesterday, last night, and this morning, I seriously considered my own demise. No, not really, but I was in the throes of long neglected hacking cough/congestion/general ickiness exacerbated by way too many cough drops. About 30 minutes ago I listlessly turned to my favorite listserv and summoned the strength to click on a message about favorite blogs. Not surprisingly, the first one listed was my favorite, that of my hero Dr. Teri Lesesne, The Goddess of YA Literature ( Then as I scanned down the list, I saw...THIS BLOG!!! Omigosh I thought! I can't die now! I've gotta go and update my blog! So thanks Netters, for raising my from the bog of self pity to the blog where I ought to be!

By the way, too many cough drops can make you sicker than you were in the first place. As Satchel says in "Get Fuzzy" I've got a rumbly in my tumbly. But finally I have faced up to my sad situation. I have a doctor appointment later this afternoon.

About the tag clouds shown below...

I have been doing some research about the term "cloud" as it relates to technology. My understanding of the term in recent use has been a bit hazy (yeah, pun intended) so I read up on it and learned that there are two popular ways the word cloud is being employed in techspeak these days:
  • The older usage is in conjunction with the word "tag" or "word." The terms "tag cloud/word cloud" have increased in popularity, I would say, in the last two years. The two illustrations you see below are examples. One is from the very popular service called "Wordle." You go to the website (, paste in a text selection, and click on GO. The free online app then scrambles up your text, picks out important words other than articles, etc., and spits them back out in an arrangement whereby the size and boldness of the words depends on those most often used. The result is an interesting and attractive arrangement. The other service I used below is called "TagCloud" (, and it does basically the same thing. I used the same text selection, the first paragraph of my upcoming article, for both in the interest 0f comparison.
  • The second use of the word is newer. In the world of rapidly changing tech lingo, that means less than a year as far as I have noticed, though true geeks have of course bandied it about for a longer time. When people talk about the Internet and what is available "in the cloud," they are talking about services and applications available on the Internet. Often these are things that heretofore resided on your hard drive or server. Examples are word processing and other office apps, photo editing, drawing and mind-mapping tools, and many other Web 2.0 apps. Google docs and other Google offerings are prime examples, and the Google folks love to promote this term for that reason.
Thus what I have below are two word clouds about information available in the cloud. Did that clear things up? Have a bright, clear, sunny day!

PS I just went to TagCloud to verify the URL. It is down! But do keep it in mind, because the reason is for "major overhaul." I do believe what they say, which is that it will reappear soon even better than before. If you visit the site you still get some good information in the interim.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wordle for same text selection as TagCroud shown below

  Wordle: Cloud article intro

Tag Crowd from upcoming Cloud Article

created at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cool Sites I Don't Want to Close

26Maybe I am the only one with this problem, but when I come across a really cool website, I do not want to shut it down or navigate away from it. I KNOW I can tag it and come back later, but I also know that lots of things I tag do not get visited again. I keep telling myself...OK, I know I tagged, but I am not going to leave this site until I have looked over it just a little bit more...and then I do this with another, and another, and finally I have a ridiculous number of sites open in my tabs, sitting there and confusing me and my computer as well. So I am going to share these sites here as a second way of remembering them for when I want to review a little more. In my mind they are irresistibly cool. Even with my weakness, I do manage to tag and close most sites I like. Here are some still open from the last few days:
  • Tag Cloud: This one is a bit like Wordle but I want to play with it some more before I decide which I like better. Incidentally I made a tag cloud about cloud computing. How cool is that!

  • This is a blog entry about tagging. I keep telling myself I will read it again and try some more of the sites mentioned.
  • 16 Awesome Data Visualization Tools: This is an article about data visualization, a topic that has been intriguing me the last few days: I want to read it again and try out all sites, and then look over the larger website, called Mashable, The Social Media Guide.
  • Data Visualization: Modern Approaches: This is the article that got me excited about data visualization in the first place. I also want to look at the main site here, Smashing Magazine.
  • What Cloud Computing Really Means--Infoworld. This is a very clear and understandable explanation of the term "cloud computing"--I will reference it in an upcoming article on this topic. Here is the URL:
  • Dear Librarian Blog: Yes, I have a ton of blogs tagged, but this one has me especially interested, with a nice combo of tech and librarian-y entries.
  • Twitch-Board Allows you to bridge between Twitter and Delicious or other web environments. Or at least I think that is what it does...need to try it out!
  • Amaztype Oh Gosh Oh Gosh I LOVE Amaztype. It is sort of Amazon meets Wordle but not exactly. Just go! Be sure to try Amaztype Zeitgeist. JUST DO IT! YOU WILL THANK ME!!!!
  • Gallery of Data Visualization: I just stumbled across this last night. It looks like tons of fun. I am promising myself some time with it later this evening.
  • HistoryShots: Another data visualization site. I have not explored it much either but LOVE the graphic on the first page. I can see kids having fun doing something similar. This is another for my brain-dead evening browsing.
  • This is a link to an article in Houston Chronicle. It shows the downside to drug testing teachers, something the Texas Legislature is considering as a mandate. Let me point out here that the very expensive drug testing for high school athletes turned up less than five positive tests since its inception. But hey! We have plenty of money to spend demeaning teachers as well, right? Governor GoodHair thinks it is a good idea, which is one compelling reason to be wary. Here is the link:
There, I did it. I closed all those windows. Maxine MAC, my computer, is breathing easier. About my browsing habits...around 7 PM each night, unless a huge deadline is looming, I own up to the fact that I should not do any SERIOUS work. My brain has down-shifted. That is when I fall back in my lounge chair with computer in lap and TV on as background entertainment. I finish reading the newspaper, watch TV if it catches my attention, and roam the net. Yes, I am a nerd. Or am I a geek? Hmmmm....anyway, I hope somebody enjoys some or all of the above sites.

Monday, March 9, 2009

London Trippers 2008--Lori and the Rest

This is a great shot of Lori in the foreground as we gather in the airport before departure.

Here we are at the British Library. The bench we are using is shaped like a big book chained to the floor. Lori is on the front row, second from left. As you can see Nancy Pearl Travelin' Librarian Doll is in the shot along with her Scottish boyfriend, Hamish. Trippers, I will try to post all my pics to Flickr tomorrow.

Remembering Lori

Back in June of last year, I wrote an entry called "Remembering Rebecca." It was about the loss of a very special student in our program, Rebecca Forward. As I said then, a student is not supposed to die before her teacher. It is the wrong order of things. Once again I must write a remembrance, and I am having similar difficulty with the death of a student who passed all too soon for those who knew her. Lori Rollins was an outstanding student, full of curiosity and enthusiasm. She did not just do her work, she overdid assignments. If a list of ten resources was required, she would turn in 15. If she needed to write three pages, she would write five. She was also a leader in our online discussion forums. Last summer Lori took my travel study class and was one of the group of students who went to London. She told me then that she was celebrating completion of cancer treatment, and was officially a survivor. I had not even realized that she was battling breast cancer. Characteristically she had not mentioned this when she was in another class of mine. Because most work is online, it was easy for her to keep up without missing face to face meetings. While other students might ask for extra consideration due to much less trying situations, Lori never missed a beat in class.

It was during the travel that I got to know Lori better. If I had to pick one word for her, it would be spunky. She was full of good spirits and vitality, and kept expressing her delight to be able to make our trip. I was happy when she signed up this fall to join our next trip, scheduled for this coming summer. When she emailed me in December to say she needed to drop out of the group because her cancer had recurred I was disappointed but not overly concerned. After all, Lori was a survivor! Sadly, her recovery was not to be. In February I visited her in the hospital after she had undergone surgery for a brain tumor. I expected to find her flat on her back with tubes, etc., and to say hello briefly and leave. She was sitting up in bed and eating lunch, looking quite hearty for someone who has just had major surgery. Her biggest goal was to finish her very last course and graduate. I felt sure this would happen, because she looked and sounded so good. By then I realized she was not likely to stage a full recovery, but I did think she had several more months, and that I would see her again at graduation. This was not to be. Lori died last week. To compound this very sad event, her brother, one year younger, died last week also, of unexplained causes. He collapsed and died at his home a day or two before Lori passed. Such loss for a family is hard to fathom. My heart goes out to this close-knit family, and especially her children and her parents.

Lori's diploma will be awarded posthumously in May. I had told her that when she walked across the stage to get that diploma I was going to stand up in the audience and cheer. I may just stand up anyway when her name is announced.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Conference Assimilation...Impossible Dream?

As I mentioned in my previous posting, I attended two wonderful meetings last week. The first one, an all day event, was about kids and how they use the Internet. The unique thing was that the WiredKids Summit was also conducted BY kids, with the audience composed of both kids and adults. Industry leaders were there as well as educators and proud parents. The kids had some great research to share. It was a memorable event and I desperately want to go over my notes and share some of what I experienced. I cannot say that I LEARNED all that much because if I do not go back over my notes, I am likely to forget just about everything except that it was a great event.

The next day and a half I attended the IMLS/Wolfsonian Webwise 2009 Conference for people in both the library and the museum worlds. We have much to learn from one another. I met some fantastic leaders and reconnected with others. Ironically, I visited with a number of Texans, some of whom I had not seen since LAST years Webwise. Again, I took extensive notes. Now I am back home. What I really want to do is spend time assimilating all the ideas and information to which I was exposed. BUT, due to being out of town almost a whole week, I am woefully behind in grading and never-ending administrative tasks, not to mention catching up with email and writing in this space. What to do? I really wish that conferences would build in some assimilation time. The ideal would be a "quiet time break" before the concluding session. People would be able to visit about mutual interests or just wind down and perhaps blog or write a bit about what they had learned. Then there could be a final session with some sharing from the audience as well as a fitting finale. Of course I realize that logistics work against "down time" at paid venues like convention centers or hotels. Planners must work to get everything in and maximize facility use to justify cost.

Another solution would be for participants to plan to stay over the last night and take time to reflect and synthesize. However, there are forces that are likely to deny this option. At my institution, if you ask for an extra night's lodging, you may very well have to pay for it yourself. At a conference this fall, I did stay an extra night after an conference whose last session ended at noon. My colleague and I used the time to drive closer to the airport, have supper, and talk about the conference. It was one of the best things about the event because it allowed us to bounce ideas off one another and also to remember important ideas and points. However, upon returning home, I had to go to great lengths to justify this "extra" time. Alas. I wonder how other people deal with the challenge of trying to assimilate new ideas and information after a conference ends?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fired Up About WiredKids Summit in Washington DC

Yesterday I had the incredible luck to be able to snag an invitation and attend the Wired Kids Summit in Washington DC. I was in town for another event, the WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, Sponsored by Institute of Museum and Library Studies and Wofsonian-Florida International University. I had signed up too late for a pre-conference with IMLS, and was feeling a bit down about this. But then last week, the inimitible Art Wolinsky posted in to LM_NET about the WiredKids Event and I could not believe my incredible good luck of being in DC on this day without a specific agenda. I responded to his kind invitation and was rewarded with a ticket that gave me entre to this unique event. One of the biggest and most wonderful thing WiredKids does is to sponsor groups of kids called Teen Angels and Tween Angels. These kids are ambassadors for Internet safety and ethical use of the Net. They range in age between 8 and late teens. There are chapters all over the US and while most kids were from relatively close locations, some were from distant places including California, Florida, and points in between the coasts. They have also partnered with Girl Scouts, thereby reaching thousands more youngsters. Participants had all completed a serious research study, with thought-provoking topics like gender differences in gaming or the relative safety of social networking sites. As MC Parry said, their data has unique value because it is from kids and collected by kids. This adds an important dimension because, while kids might fib to adults, they tend to be very honest with peers. Most of the kids had done surveys, with Survey Monkey a tool of choice for many. They had analalyzed their data and prepared PowerPoint presentations that would rival those done by adults for conference presentations. The kids put on the show; the kids WERE the show. Adults were the audience. Parents had to sit in the back, and guests sat at tables with the kids, so we could visit with the kids during the day. It was great for me, a former junior high librarian, to be back with REAL KIDS for a day. And these kids were wonderful. They were poised and savvy. During presentations the audience was great. I had to think about some staff developments I have attended where the audience, all educators, were really quite thoughtless about chatting during presentations. There was none of that from these kids, and the adults were, I think, far too interested in what was being shared by the young presenters.

Nancy Pearl, Library Action Figure, had a wonderful day with the kids. Everyone sat at big round tables which had piles of junk food and art supplies in the middle. The kids plowed through the goodies and kept busy doing drawings on placemats and decorating foam stickers and shapes. By the end of the day everyone had stickers all over. Clearly the planners knew how to keep the kids happy and occupied during this long event, which was an all day affair with sandwiches and cookies for lunch. At very top of page is a picture of Nancy at the table at the end of the day, by which time it was littered with art supplies and food and wrappers. Right below that you can see all the Angels, dressed in white, as they went up front to bid the audience good-bye.

I could not stop thinking how lucky I was to be in Washington DC, and how much my visit was enhanced by this wonderful experience. Kudos to WiredKids, to the dedicated organizers of this nonprofit organization, and for all the great things they do. And thanks to Art Wolinsky for extending the invitation that allowed me to attend!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fixin' to Reactivate!

No wonder I was trip proud in the last entry. I have been traveling more than at home. One of many things that suffered was blogging. And here I am on the road again! But this time I am promising to blog while at conference. I am very fortunate to be able to attend Webwise 2009, Conference of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Not only that, tomorrow I snagged an invitation to a very exciting event called WiredKids Summit. More about these things tomorrow. For now, I just want to report that it was a dazzling day in DC. Nancy Pearl and I got to our hotel, Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, around noon today. We caught lunch and then spent some time in a new museum to us, called the NEWSEUM. It is a history of news! Nancy and I agreed that any building that has the 1st Amendment chiseled on the front deserves visiting. I am off to bed for now but will tell more about our adventures soon. Nancy had several photo ops. Her fave is a new picture in front of the capitol. It is far enough away to allow for her small size and also shows what a beautiful day we had!

OK YES I know the pic is sideways. It is rightside up in folder. I am too sleepy and cranky to fix tonight. Anyone want to tell me why it flips on side when uploaded? Arugggh g'nite.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trip Proud Again!

A while back I wrote about this expression, "trip proud" or "journey proud." It is that feeling you get when you are, as we say in Texas, FIXIN' TO go on a trip. This time my destination is not far away, just over to Austin from my Huntsville home. But I am excited because it is for one of my favorite annual events, TCEA. I love this conference and am promising myself that I will blog while there. Here are some things I am looking forward to:
  • Meeting Tweets! I have already communicated with several. It will be fun to put faces with names.
  • Librarian special interest group meeting, LIB_SIG! This meeting is one I never miss and, while I am not an officer this year, I always seem to be a bit involved with planning. Our speaker this year is Dr. Carol Simpson, copyright guru! Should be great! Also, I should mention right here that several years ago Marlene Woo-Lun and I had a conversation that ended up with Linworth Press taking us under their wing and supplying us annually with a great speaker. This ongoing support has been a huge factor in the growth of our group.
  • Presenting! I used to get very anxious about presentations but over the years have come to enjoy them more and more. I will be presenting along with my favorite sidekick, Dr. Holly Weimar. We are talking about Web 2.0 and filtering
  • Exhibits! Every time I go to a conference I tell myself I will lose all restraint over the exhibits, grabbing every freebie and losing myself to sensory overload. This time I am not even going to make that promise. Bring 'em on!
P.S. I just looked back via SEARCH for my previous "trip proud" was in June 2007 before a student travel class journey to Washington DC and New York. I sometimes forget how long I have been blogging and it was fun to reminisce. Does anybody else remember this expression? I got some responses back then to an LM_NET query which suggested it was a Southern colloquialism.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weak Geek Seeks Peak Fitness

OK I readily admit to being a geek. I spend a LOT of time online. Here I am sitting in my lounge chair and THINKING about exercise and also about Web 2.0. What can I find for a geek seeking fitness tools?
  • Life Ledger: This blog has a lot of interesting entries about diet and exercise. It looks like one I may want to follow.
  • Promoting and Prescribing Exercise for the Elderly--This article is really for promoting exercise for elderly individuals. I was drawn to it because I am campaigning for my dad to get an evaluation by a physical therapist to be followed up with a regular exercise program. Happily, this is happening next week for him.
  • These first two are interesting but I really expected more. I revised my search terms a little and hit paydirt! Here is a great list of 15 sites!

Ouch! Taken to Task by Former Student

I was just gently chided by a former student for not getting with an exercise program. Novella Byrd, you are right in the comment you added to my previous entry about exercise. I am on my own case about this also. I can make an excuse and I will, but that does not negate the fact that I am neglecting something important. My excuse is the extremely challenging new job duties I have acquired in the past year. But Novella, you are right to give me a nudge. I do walk every day, but not nearly as far since my good old dog has come down with arthritis. He kept me active until very recently. Anyway, I am publicly proclaiming again my resolve to get back into an exercise schedule. Tomorrow I fly to Brownsville to help with a class, then home Sunday. Here is my latest promise. Tomorrow I will take a long brisk walk, at least 20 minutes, and hopefully 30, on campus at UTB. I will post in and either fess up or brag.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two nifty new links

I've said it before and I' ll say it again...Twitter is fantastic for finding great links to interesting and useful sites. Here are two samples from this week:
  • MIT home page has got to be the coolest university home page ever. As far as I can tell, every week or so they put up a new challenge. The one up right now is for their students and could yield some fantastic creations but could easily be adapted for kids: Cardboard creations. Take a look!
  • I just picked up a great tweet with lots to share, Carl Harvey: He is editor for Children's Book Insider. One link he shared is a very long list of cliches, which could be used a number of ways with students, with the ironic title of Cliches, Avoid them Like the Plague. Be sure and scroll all the way down for the euphemisms for the word stupid. My favorite is "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.":

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wordle for Inagural Benediction by Rev. Lowery

  Wordle: Rev. Lowery Inauguration Benediction Test

Wordle for Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander

  Wordle: Wordle for Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander

Today, January 20, 2009

Random thoughts leading up to ceremony:
  • Elder President Bush seems very old today, having difficulty walking
  • Clinton looked grim going down the hallway to approach the stand
  • The advantage of NOT being there is person is being able to see the long shots of the amazing crowd. What a
  • Clinton coming out in the open, breaks into a big smile and stops to shake hands with onlookers.
  • Wow! Here comes the Bible! Again a great thing to see up close.
  • Right now they are showing the moving van with people taking things INTO the White House. Guess that is Obama's stuff! Pretty cool to see the family's stuff going into their new home.
  • Awww here come the Obama girls! So exciting! They are bundled up and wearing big smiles.
  • Oh my goodness...very, very negative crowd sounds as Bush comes out. He has a very set expression on his face. What must this feel like to him? All those around him look very tense as well.
  • I just POWERED OFF MY IPHONE because NOTHING is going to interrupt the next minutes...Obama just appeared. Olbermann says Obama looks a little nervous, something I noticed waiting for him to be officially announced.
  • I did not get a little teary when he appeared as I had anticipated. Instead I had what was more like a breakdown.
  • Warren's prayer was least favorite thing, though glad he spoke about tolerance. Maybe he will heed his own words...
  • Love Aretha's hat!
  • Wonderful touch of class, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, et al with composition by John Williams...harks back to cultural emphasis in Kennedy years. Here is my latest tweet: "ohhhhh love the music, mix of familiar and new in composition, just lively, all musicians wearing big smiles lifting spirits just great" Shades of Aaron Copeland, very appropriate.
  • Here it comes! John Roberts introduced
Here are comments that I thought were striking as I heard the speech.
  • Greatness never a gift, must be earned
  • Scripture quote
  • America bigger than sum of individual aspirations
  • Starting today we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves out, and begin the work of remaking America
  • We will transform our schools to meet the demands of the new century
  • False that we must choose between safety and ideals and we will not give them up for expedience sake.
  • New era of responsibility
  • Fantastic conclusion!
Comments immediately afterwards:
  • One of my tweets just posted an Inauguration Day haiku...great activity for students!
  • Take yourselves and your students to the new site. It was up immediately after the inauguration, or maybe during.
  • The recent newsy site at does have updated information.
  • I cannot get to load. I wonder if this satirical site is regrouping. Surely it will not go down??? UPDATE: It is up now and as uppity as ever.
  • Looking at Ted Kennedy as he waits to be seated at the luncheon after inauguration. He actually looks pretty good!
Comments 9 PM
  • Seeing the first couple at the balls is wonderful. Graceful, elegant, with touch of glamour. Nice change.
  • Spoke with my dad, age 96. He had a wonderful day. Slight regret that I was not there with him.
  • Ironic that I commented on Ted Kennedy looking so good and then he fell ill soon after. I am relieved that he is now improved and hope he is able to see health care move forward.
  • This was a long work day for me as well as watch day. Just finished all my must-do's. Sitting back and basking in good feelings.
  • Signing off with great feeling of gratitude.

Inaguration Day Recollections and Musings Before Ceremony

Who is not focusing on the momentous events of this day? I have been thinking about past inaugurations that I remember. My family was always very interested in politics. something that I have written about before. My dad was for years the Democratic Party Chair for our Texas county, and elections were family affairs for us. Thus we always followed elections and subsequent events very closely. Here are some recollections:
  • As a young girl, I remember that my entire class was taken in cars to my teacher's home on inauguration day. We were seated on the floor in front of her television. For some kids, this was the first TV they had ever seen. We watched the inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower. Yes, I am that old. I remember thinking to myself, "This is nice, but Adlai Stevenson should really be up there!" I was probably the only kid in the room with a partisan attitude. All the same I remember feeling that this was a momentous event.
  • The next one I really remember was the Kennedy inauguration. What struck me that day was seeing Robert Frost. By then I had decided I would major in English in college and was already a poetry lover. I remember how Frost's hands shook as he held the sheets of paper with his poem, and the tremulous voice with which he spoke. I don't recall how much longer he lived, but clearly he was in the later days of his life, and I felt lucky to see and hear him. It wasn't really until the next day that people started repeating the "ask not" phrase and I began to realize the historical quality of Kennedy's speech.
  • I watched the Carter inauguration sitting on the floor of my living room with my little one. She was about two years old. We got out pots and pans, at her insistence, and she banged on them with a wooden spoon to keep time with the bands in the parade. During the pledge we both put our hands over our hearts. I wanted her to have the same strong sense of citizenship that was part of my upbringing. The thing that struck me about this event was that the Carters walked the length of Pennsylvania Avenue rather than ride in a limousine. I remember thinking what a courageous act that was in view of past violence against presidents. I did feel very hopeful that day, because I was glad to see this good and decent man fill the office.
I just now realized I have been sitting watching the events with my hands clasped before me in a position of prayer. This was an unconscious yet appropriate attitude to assume. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to be watching this event today, and to know that my dad, age 96, is glued to his television in his own living room. He very much wanted to see the end of the Bush years. To him, they have been very painful as so late in life he saw our country mired in such distressing times. I once asked what was the most scary and distressing time he could remember, this man who lived through two world wars, the depression, all the assassinations and other hard times since his birth in 1912. His reply was...NOW. He was extremely worried about terrorism, the Iraq war, and all the other upsetting events and issues from the last eight years. He has also said that, in a way, he is glad my mother passed in 2000, before the 911 event and all other distressing times since her death in June of that year.

There is in my family a regret that my brother's wife, an ardent fan of both Obama and Clinton, died in October and thus did not live to see the outcome of the election. My thoughts are with my brother today, who has the great good fortune to be in Washington DC. I know he realizes that he is there for both of them and that Nancy's spirit is with us all on this day. I am glad that he is the one of us that got to go, because I think the optimism and excitement will buoy his spirits even as he wishes his wife could be there with him.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

OK maybe that is an exaggeration. But...I wouldn't be the first to prematurely to make this announcement! One of my New Year's Resolutions was to go to the university health center and begin exercising. Naturally I did not mean to go over there just one time and that would be it, but that would be a beginning, right? As the 3rd year of making the same resolution began, I did at least do just that. I took myself over to the gym/exercise area and walked a brisk mile on the track, feeling very virtuous. I did this on Wednesday, and had to leave Thursday for a trip to spend the night with Dad and then go on to Laredo today for a seminar, a review, and an all day class, thus nixing my chances of going back a second time. But I am giving myself a modicum of credit. What about next week? I am just home Monday-Wednesday, then off to Denver for ALA Midwinter. I have a meeting Tuesday and plan after that to work from home with my TV home as I soak up a little bot of hope after eight heavy-hearted years. AFTER THAT...I'LL BE BAAAACK AT THE TRAAACK!

Because I do not feel good about a posting that lacks a single bit of useful and topical information, I will close be sharing a link that I just came across today: Factbites:
At first glance, it looks promising for ready reference.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I will join everybody else in doing a couple of entries about favorite things from this past year. This one will be about technology, and the other about books. Here are my favorite gizmos of the year. I will do a top down list a la Letterman. I am extremely lucky to be able to have use of all these items. Since I teach technology classes, I get to try out a number of things, some which we buy for everybody and some that, after test driving, we find to have more limited use.
  • PoGo Polaroid Printer--Maybe I should not even list this one. We just got one right before Christmas and so far I have not been able to try it out. The reason is because it does not hook up to my iPhone so I cannot use it that way. Next I tried to use it with my MacBook Pro but it does not like Macs. By the time I got a bluetooth USB device installed on my PC clunker, the printer charge had run down, and the cord was in my office. I should add that no, I did not check ahead of time for compatibility. BUT I think they should have told people in the web description that I did read about these issues. I found out by web search which turned up other peeved users who found out after the fact. Plus, while I kind of understand with the iPhone, I do NOT understand not making it work with all Macs, since everybody knows Mac users tend to love images. End of vent. I will write about it again soon, once I get it to work. But it is still last on my list as a matter of principle for having problems. Oh, and of course it works just great with THEIR CAMERA, says the they are trying to force you to buy the cam. Irritating. At the same time I think this is technology to watch. This is the very first iteration of what I suspect will be a new generation of printers.
  • Eee--Actually I LOVE the Eee but think unless you have a real use for it, you might want to refrain from buying just because it is so sleek, light, and inviting. It is all of these things and more. It has a built in camera that you just click and voila, your face appears on the screen and you are ready to film. That is my hands down favorite thing about it. I am not put off by the fact that it is not meant to be a carrier for a lot of memory-hogging software. It has plenty of zip with MS Office, which came on mine. I added Firefox and so far nothing else. What holds me back are two things:
    • I REALLY have problems with the small keyboard. And the shift key is waaay in the wrong place, and it has a way of losing my place when I am keying in stuff because I manage to hit other wrong keys. Given time, I could overcome this, but do I need to?
    • It is NOT a workhorse but rather a device which is lightweight and easy to carry. For these attributes, it is fantastic. But while I travel a fair amount, when I go I like a computer that has a bit more memory and carries everything I need.
  • Sony eBook Reader--I really LOVE this device. I tried it out over Christmas and plan to do a longer blog comparing it with Kindle. It is even smaller and sleeker than Kindle. The huge drawback for me is that it does not have web access. For that reason I regretfully put it aside in favor of Kindle.
  • Motion Computer--What a fun device! Actually I have had access to one for about 13 months. No keyboard, you just run it with a stylus, and write with the stylus as well. I LOVE it for taking notes in meetings and at campus and it has great WOW value. Whatever I write goes right into MS word. But again, it is not a workhorse and has limited use. I like it better for my own traveling than Eee, at least so far, due to my problems with the Eee keyboard.
  • FlipCam--Fantastic! Not one complaint! Works like a champ right out of the box and WITH ANY COMPUTER. I think I expected the PoGo to be as versatile as the FlipCam and it certainly is not. The reason it is not higher on the list is that I just use it less.
  • MacBook Pro--The last three things are pretty much tied for first place. I got my Mac about eleven months ago, after being a PC=only user for about 8 years. I love this computer and have sung its praises before. I do not find that I have compatibility issues Mac/PC very often at all...except for PoGo which I have complained about enough already
  • Kindle--The best eBook reader ever! Again I have blogged about it before but my devotion to it is undiminished. I did finally give it a name, settling on Grendal. I LOVE the fact that I can use it to get to the Internet, follow blogs, and get other online resources as well as Amazon's store.
  • Electric Bike--Oh how I love PeeWee, my little red electric bike. Yes it is a green choice and that makes me feel good. But better than that, with it I have NO PARKING WORRIES at my university job. PeeWee just rides up the elevator with me to my office. Best of all, it is tons of fun to ride. Having a fun way to get to work and back, as opposed to a long commute or even a short drive, contributes a great deal to my day to day disposition.
  • iPhone 3G--Could not live without it. I had a 1st generation iPhone that I lost, and was bereft. Waiting until I could get my new one was torture. I like almost everything about it. I know there are other great mobile devices out there, but for me the iPhone resonates in every way. I love apps, think the camera is fine, and really enjoy all the features.