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: