Razor Girl

downloadThis month’s Guys Read book club pick was Carl Hiaasen’s newest. If you like Hiaasen , Dave Barry and other humor writers, you’ll like this one.

The title character smartly never reveals her real name, but connects all the disparate and loony characters inhabiting this tale due to her unique trade: she performs non-deadly car crashes for underworld types who need to stop a mark on the road so they can easily kidnap them in their confused state. There are many who do this particular task, but our titular Girl has raised it into a kind of performance art by including the jaw-dropping addition of being in the middle of shaving her, um, bikini area at the time of impact. This throws off the mark so much, that she often gets them to offer her a ride somewhere to make their kidnapping go even smoother. “Men,” she says, shaking her head.

So yeah, this is obviously one of Hiaasen’s books intended for grown ups rather than his wildly popular kids books like Hoot and Chomp.

The Guys Read book club met last night at The Marlay House. It was such a lovely evening. I mean really perfect weather. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed food, drinks and great book talk. And we had a few new Guys!

As a group I would have to say this was a sideways thumb, not really up or down. Two Guys said this wasn’t their kind of thing. The Guys that had read and enjoyed Hiaasen before like it but admitted it wasn’t his best. The Guys who had never read Hiaasen and enjoyed it loved it and are looking forward to reading more.

An older Guy introduced me to a new (to me) old drink. A Rickey. You’ve heard of a Gin Rickey? This is the original version with bourbon instead of Gin. Mmmmm…bourbon. Excellent summer evening refreshment right there. And yes, I realize technically autumn has begun but last night on that patio? It was summer.

It was good we had our drinks ready because we were ready to shout a hearty “Mazal Tov!” to a Guy who came out! He’s recently divorced with two teen-aged daughters but has decided to come on out and be his true, gay self at this mid point in life. So that was cool. (He said the divorce, while not fun, was relatively painless and amicable, so that’s good as well.)

Next month we will be discussing Erin Mortgenstern’s The Night Circus. Looks appropriately Halloween-ish in subject matter anyway. And Jim Dale (of Harry Potter audiobook fame) reads the audio version, so something else to look forward to!

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New app test…

img_0629I just downloaded the WordPress app for my phone. I’m thinking I might actually update the blog more often if it’s easier and more accessible to do so.

I have a work laptop but no longer have a home one. I can take the work laptop home but don’t do that every day and when I do it’s usually because I have, you know, work.

I gave my Apple laptop to my daughter and bought a Chromebook for myself. It was great while it worked but that wasn’t for very long and I don’t feel like getting another one.

So what posting I do tends to be on my phone, mostly Instagram and Twitter. I’m pretty sure when I post here it automatically posts on Twitter as well. I’ll check on that after I post this.

I realized recently that I hadn’t been posting much and, like I do from time to time, wonder if I should keep it up. I don’t know why but there’s something satisfying about having my own spot where I can type more than 140 characters once in a while.

But I need to have deadlines for myself to keep it up. I’ll work on figuring that out this month. Probably something weekly. Daily is too much and monthly is too little.

The above photo is from Labor Day weekend when my daughter and I attended the always delightful Dragon Con. After the photo Mr. Gorn said pretty much every photo he was asked to pose for involved him pretending to do violence on the other person being photographed (for obvious reasons) but that I was the only one who had giggled happily the whole time.

Is it just me or are you busier this year too?

The schedule is just different enough that I’ve had very little downtime at work and now with the Book Fair it’s pretty constant. Actually, one good thing about doing the book fair at this time of the year is the schedule is more spread out so there are a few breaks between some of the classes, which is nice. But I’m not any less busy then. I have to catch up with all my emails and keep things running smoothly.

One thing I’ve been doing recently is trying to disengage with social media a bit. I’ve gone from following over 600 accounts on Twitter to around 160 (and most of those are library/education related). On Instagram it’s down to 55 (mostly people I actually know). It’s not just trying to get away from social media but also just trying to not check my phone constantly for no reason and be more engaged with the world around me.

So far it’s been nice. Sometimes it’s good to be bored. Smartphones are making people unhappy. And there are other ways to break a phone addiction if you think that’s a problem for you.

Although I’m not going quite this far (from The Week magazine):

Aziz Ansari has deleted all traces of the internet from his life, said Mark Anthony Green in GQ. A few months ago, the Master of None star quit social media, got rid of his email, deleted the web browsers from his phone and laptop—and says he doesn’t miss any of it. “Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content,” says Ansari. “It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation.” Ansari is loving his new unplugged existence. “Eventually you don’t care anymore. All those websites you read while you’re in a cab, you don’t need to look at any of that stuff. It’s better to just sit and be in your own head for a minute. I’m reading, like, three books right now. I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the internet and not remembering anything.” Nor does he feel like he’s missing out on any important news. “I was reading all this Trump stuff, and it doesn’t feel like we’re reading news for the reason we used to, which was to enrich yourself by being aware. It all seems so sensationalized. Also, guess what? If something real is going down, I’ll find out about it.”

I completely agree that it’s better to be in your own head once in a while and that’s exactly what I want. So I’m doing what I can to cut back on mindless checking and surfing. I do, however, still read long things on my phone like blog posts and articles now and then. But I’ve deleted all the news sites I was following on Twitter and just make a point of checking actual news now and then. He’s right when he says that if something major is happening, I’ll find out.

Have you had to limit any aspect of your online life because it was either causing you stress or just needlessly filling up your time? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comments. Then, like my dad used to say, go outside and blow the stink off ya!

New Year New Challenges

So I’ve gone through on day with each of the seven 4th grade classes for library orientations and spent the last few days giving them some kind of pre-test on the computers. Protip: if you have any say or any choice, testing like that is ALWAYS better paper/pencil. Computers are amazing for so many things but testing elementary students isn’t on of them.

The time has come for me to make my first Specials lesson plans. So of course I’m procrastinating by updating the blog.

I’m going to be getting a Scholastic magazine called Storyworks for my main source but that doesn’t come out until September. In the meantime I have plenty of ideas. I’ve genre-fied the fiction section so we will be exploring that. I also want to review some tips and tricks that will help them get more use out of our online Media Catalog. Then I’ll go into the public library catalog and how to reserve the things we’re already out of (Wimpy Kid, Amulet series, Minecraft books, etc.) Last I want to get them getting a reading list together using a database our district subscribes to called NoveList. You can put in the name of a book or author you like and it’ll give you suggestions of other books kind of like that. Problem is, I don’t always have all the books it suggests, hence the public library catalog lesson before this one.

I also am going to try a new (to me) tool called Plickers which will allow me to do some fun formative assessments and ticket-out-the door activities without needing all the students to have a device or code or login or other cumbersome and time-wasting fiddly bits. With this they just hold up a card with their answer and I use my phone with the app to quickly scan and get a read on who knows what’s what. I haven’t used it yet but have enthusiastic feedback from a teacher who has and loves it.

I’m also dealing with an online troll so have, for the moment, turned the “protected tweets” option on my Twitter because muting and blocking didn’t seem to be enough for this fellow. Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything too horrible. Just a constant stream of nonsense that was becoming an annoyance. Here’s to his future mental health and happiness.

But all in all it’s been a good year. Like I said, I’m about to start the Specials rotation in earnest this week, going back to the live morning show is going well, the Reader’s Rally Team is kicking off this week and we’re about to have the first Book Fair. Then Dragon Con! I’ll be crazy busy through the Labor Day weekend but after that should be getting into a routine.

How about you? Beginning of school treating you well? Hope the challenges you’re facing are keeping things interesting! Let me know in the comments.

 

 

First Day of School!

So far so good!

The cafeteria is short-staffed so I may go in when I can and help heard the lines.

Kindergarten students are currently getting tours around the building.

The counselor is cleaning up from the “Coffee & Comfort” thing she does to help ease out the new Kindergarten parents.

The morning broadcast went okay, if a bit late. It’s amazing how much you forget over the break! (And I needed to change out the battery for the clock in there.)

Still registering a few new students.

Now I’m just awaiting my first library orientation classes.

Have a great year everyone!

Getting Ready for School AND an Eclipse!

Solar-EclipseIt’s the middle of our pre-planning week here in my district. We all have a million things to do and time is running out to do them but somehow the first day always comes and goes and it’s usually a success.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea I’ll be teaching a Specials class this year. I found out yesterday it’s not in the traditional one class per day for seven days, then start over format. It’s in a three days with this class, then three days with that class and so on until you see the first group 21 or so days later for another three day session. So I’m thinking about turning it into a Media Festival workshop. We have a state Media Festival every year and it’s always hard to find the time to let kids go to town on those projects. I’m not sure if I’m up to the logistical challenge but I’m consulting some expert teachers on the subject so we’ll see where that goes.

Also, I’ve been getting questions about the 2017 solar eclipse. There is a ton of information out there but really, everything you really need to know is right here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

Where we are we’re going to get about 98% coverage instead of complete totality, but that’s the most I’ve ever seen so I’m happy. I’m going to be playing the NASA livestream for the school in case it’s cloudy or for anyone who is unable to get out there for it. Our school district has extended the school day for an hour just for this. I think that’s because “totality” is occurring right around the same time as many school’s bus dismissal time. That would be a mess.

Do you have any plans for the eclipse? Let me know in the comments. Have fun!

Back to School Time!

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“We’re ready for the new school year. Are you?”

Today was the first day back for teachers. Next Monday is the first day back for our students.

Things that will be new this year: the principal, and assistant principal, the tech guy, about 10-15 teachers, doing the morning show live and now I just found out I’ll be teaching one 4th grade Specials class every day (still without a clerk).

Today I basically got to make a big long To Do list, meet some of the new people and make initial contact with 4th grade regarding the whole Specials class thing.

Oh yeah, and of COURSE I got some of those cute Mo Willems characters they were selling at Kohl’s this summer.

Have a great one!

Book Scavenger/Ferlinghetti

20170426_103537So the Ferlinghetti book was part of this month’s Guys Read book club meeting. The Book Scavenger was one I just happened to be reading for next year’s Reader’s Rally team.

Our book club has gotten into the habit of treating the April meeting as a catch all poetry read aloud session in honor of Poetry Month. Guys bring in a handful of poems which we read aloud and discuss. This year we added the Ferlinghetti collection as well.

Book Scavenger is about a girl who moves to San Francisco, makes a friend and has many adventures trying to crack an elaborate “book scavenger” puzzle that takes them on a literary tour of the city. One of the influences mentioned more than once is Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his City Lights book store which makes an appearance in the story. So that was fun. If you know a kid who likes things like The Westing Game or Gollywhopper Games, this is the book for them.

Two of the poems I found to read were both by a guy named Tony Hoagland who I’d never heard of before but quite liked. I’ll have to look for more of his stuff.

 

Troubleshooting

The only really stressful part of my job comes when there’s something I have to do in the broadcast room and something in there goes haywire. It happened this week and was nuts.

I had to go away for a half day meeting Tuesday afternoon and had a clerk record the next day’s morning show and do the end of the day dismissal stuff. She did everything right but when she went to play back the morning show there was no sound. She texted me but I wasn’t worried. There’s lots of little buttons it’s easy to accidentally push. I knew I’d quickly figure it out in the morning.

I couldn’t figure it out the next morning. I did every bit of troubleshooting I could. I finally had to break down and call the IT dept. and he walked me through even more troubleshooting things.  We thought we’d nailed it with five minutes to spare before showtime.

We hadn’t nailed it. I had a silent morning show. Sigh.

So the real troubleshooting began. I double checked every setting and piece of software and hardware and followed every cable in and out of that stupid soundboard until I found it. It was an unplugged gray cable that took me another forever to figure out where it should be plugged into. Grrr.

The morning before my meeting the tech guy had come in looking for some district tags on equipment for his inventory. We had to shift a few things around to find these little barcode stickers and must have inadvertently unplugged it. So now it is much better wound up and tucked into the back of this crazy mess of wires.

I miss the days when someone in the office would just do an all call announcement in the morning and afternoon and we didn’t have to deal with all this crazy stuff. I’m just sayin’!

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Feel my pain!