The Bookshelf Grows

One of the Guys in the Guys Who Read book club who joined in April of 2011 actually buys physical copies of every book and has a dedicated bookshelf for this. Here it is filled up all the way to this December’s pick, The Odyssey. Pretty cool!

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Overheard in my library just now…

Two kids found the Sports Fiction section.

Kid One: “I think you should check out this one. You like baseball and it’s by Dan Gutman and he’s a great writer.”

Kid Two: “I think I just found my new favorite section.”

So yeah, I think the genre thing I did in Fiction was worth it!

Star Trek: Discovery Incomplete Review

downloadOf COURSE I’m going to write about the new Star Trek show. I’ve been watching some iteration of Star Trek most of my life. And re-watching. And nerding out over…

This is a super incomplete review because we are in a new world of television and I’m still figuring that out. So part of this review is the actual show. Well the first half of the first show that I was graciously allowed to see by CBS. The rest of the review is of CBS’s new programming model.

The first episode (well half–it was part one of a two parter but I haven’t seen the second half yet) was…okay enough that I’ll put the show on my list of shows to catch up on someday.

The good: you can see all the money and work put into this on every frame (I know, “frame” is old school, but you know what I mean). It’s been called “cinematic” and they’re not kidding. It has the look and feel of the re-booted movies.

Michelle Yeoh is an awesome captain! Doug Jones gets to play a cool alien! Our star is Sonequa Martin-Green is a determined and flawed main character! I mean just watching Yeoh and Martin-Green in the opening bit was enough to make me tear up about how far we’ve come with the diversity in television, and how Star Trek has always been an important part of that.

The space suit absolutely rocked!

The meh and the bad: Yeah it looked cool, but was it more style than substance? I could do with less lens flare, wacky color correction and weird 30 degree filming angles and less clunky exposition. When people who claim to have been working together for seven years explain that they are arguing about the same things they always do it’s just annoying. And what was going on in the opening? Was it me or were they violating the Prime Directive right off the bat for no apparent reason?

But mostly, it was a perfectly fine, if a bit action-y first half of a two part episode. I’m not going to complain about the Klingons who look like Orcs. They keep changing the way Klingon’s look, fans keep crying about it and if the show is any good they get over it (and it led to this great joke on DS9). It seems like an odd choice to me, putting this in between the the Enterprise series and before the original series. It looks SO different it just seems like they could have made it in the future (beyond Next Generation) and called their Orcs something new and not had to worry about the timeline confusion. I mean this lady is a kind of half-sister to Spock we’ve never heard of? C’mon. Don’t bother with that.

So yeah, I’ll watch the rest of it someday. But I’m not jumping on the CBS ALL ACCESS! bandwagon. I have an HD antenna so was able to watch that one on the air (almost a half hour late for some reason, probably football.) I pay $10 a month for Netflix and we use the heck out of that service.  I pay $99 a year (so $8.25 a month) for Amazon Prime. Included with that is Amazon Prime Video which also has many TV shows and movies available and I can pay a little more to buy episodes of shows (or whole seasons even) or rent or buy other movies. I don’t mind paying for the occasional show because they usually end up being less than $2 an episode and there are no commercials and I can watch whenever I want.

But now CBS (and Disney and DC and many more) want to get on that action and create their OWN streaming sites. The CBS ALL ACCESS! streaming thing is $6 a month but you still get commercials! You have to pay $10 a month for the ad free experience. That ends up being around $2.50 an episode. I’m not paying for that, especially since I’d be hard pressed to name more CBS shows and have a feeling that the ones I could name wouldn’t be available. Or something.

I’m not angry at CBS. They can try to get money how ever they want. So can all those other outlets. But I’m going to stick with what works for me. In this new cord-cutting landscape I’ve learned to be patient. I don’t mind waiting for a whole series to come out, then come to Netflix or rent it on DVD or pay for it on Amazon or something. But I want it to finish it’s run and know what I’m getting. I wouldn’t have been happy paying for the first two and a half seasons of Next Generation. I wouldn’t have been happy paying for Enterprise. But heck I’d pay out the nose for Deep Space Nine. That was a great show. But I only know that now.

I am a little peeved they only broadcast half of a show. I was expecting them to end on a bit of a cliffhanger to gin up more interest for their streaming thing but that was silly, cutting it off with the beginning of a generic Star Trek space battle. I hear that even if you watched both halves they still haven’t gotten the main character to the, you know, Discovery and her crew. So that doesn’t make me want to rush out and sign up for anything until I know what I’m getting.

That’s okay! I have plenty to watch! I just bought the second season of The Expanse on Amazon and so far it’s AMAZING. Oh, and it was $22.99 for 13 episodes which comes out to about $1.76 per episode which I am free to watch ad free at will. I’m also still way behind on Doctor Who. It left Netflix but is now on Amazon so I’m good there. If it went away from there I’m sure I could rent the discs and keep on going. I wouldn’t have to pay for a whole seperate service for that one show.

Just sayin!

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!

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!

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!

Sapelo Island, GA

Never heard of it have you?  THAT’S WHY WE WENT THERE! See that picture of the empty beach? That’s how it was all week.

The guy fishing? That’s the dock where we unloaded all our stuff then loaded it all onto the ferry to the island. When I say all our stuff I mean everything. You need to pack all food and snacks and drinks and everything you’re going to need to make all your meals all week long. My Lovely Bride had an excellent spreadsheet and is an amazing packer so we were good.

The kid with the van? When we got to the island our instructions were to find the van, get the car keys our of the drink holder with the map and go. There was no map. It was a creepy van. The kids nicknamed it “The Murder Van.” A storm was rolling in. A woman said she knew the house and led the way. Deep into the woods, with thunder going, the van died. My buddy got it going and we made it to the rental house and got everything into the house right as the downpour hit.

The misty forest photo? That was our view. Gorgeous even in the rain.

The dead tree on the beach? The next day we went out to that area nicknamed “The Boneyard” where a bunch of trees are slowly being washed away. Then we went to the EMPTY AND GORGEOUS BEACH all day.

The crabs? We went seining and caught a bunch of crabs! We looked up on youtube how to clean them. It was pretty gross and a whole lot of crabs didn’t equal that many crab cakes but man oh man were they good.

The nature trail? We hiked a lot. Forest, estuary, dunes, coast, everything.

Yes there’s a lighthouse. No, you can’t go in. But it’s a nice area to wander around. And yes, that last picture is of a gator! We went to the gator pond more than once before we finally saw a couple like this. I hear they wander around sometimes and you can see them laying outside the water but we never got so lucky.

It was a great, fun, relaxing and adventurous vacation. Just the right mix of exploring and laying around in hammocks and chilling. None of us wanted to return to civilization.

How about you? Hope you had a nice break as well and a good last few weeks of school.

Author Visit!

One thing I am not super great at but think is important is author visits. There are authors and illustrators you’ve never heard of that can be had for free or cheap but you need to make sure they’re engaging. Ones you’ve heard of are much more expensive and whenever I have money, I also have a list of books I want to buy. Plus, if you have the money and find the right author it’s a logistical nightmare working more than one presentation around lunches and recess and Specials and field trips and whatnot.

But it IS important. It can be a real inspiration to some of the students and teachers can do so much with a good experience like that.

So even though it was a lot of work, I am very happy how our full day visit from author David Biedrzycki (Ba-DREE-key) went last week!

I booked him for four presentations and he was here last Monday. He won our state’s picture book award (voted on by students) and sent out an email last spring to many of us, offering his services. I jumped right on it because Breaking News: Bear Alert is one of the rare picture books that is a fun read aloud from K through 5. And the fun thing about a fun presenter like this is even if some kid don’t care about this particular book, they learn so much about being an author and an illustrator that it’s totally worth it.

Yes, David is super engaging. He has a very active presentation with tons of fun and funny slides. He reads Bear Alert with slides and even photoshops the librarian into one of the pages for added hilarity. He discussed books he is working on and asks for student input. Then he shows them how he illustrates, getting them to pick colors and such as he uses a tablet to draw in Photoshop. Now Photoshop is pricey, but he recommends some apps and a website called sumopaint.com which is a free Photoshop analog budding digital artists can try. He also makes sure to draw something using basic shapes and colors do those budding artists have something they can try right away. He even showed an example of a student’s version and said the kids could send him their efforts.

It was a great day for all. I won’t be able to do it every year, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the change to try it out again.

One less expensive option is Skype visits. I did one with Barbara O’Connor last year and that was fun. But a real live, interactive author visit just can’t be beat.20170320_144243