Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rocinante has been found

So what did you do this afternoon? Me? I bought a horse. But I do wonder about the fact that whilst I look more than a little bit happy (which alone will upset some folk), my trusty steed appears to be having a dry retch. Could this horse have a sense of humor, I wonder?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Search for Rocinante

Yep, I've been reading a few books, some were pretty good, some were a bit ordinary. But what is even more important (at least to me, and at the moment) is my search for a suitable Rocinante. As the cat is unlikely to be happy sharing her litter box with a horse - regardless of how much I enlarged it - I've spent the last few weekends looking for suitable agistment within a reasonable driving distance. Not an easy task in urban Sydney. Happy to say now that one can now be ticked off the To Do List.

And in a quest to either recapture my youth (as if), or to try to prove something so nebulous that I'm not even sure what it is, I'm now in the process of looking for a suitable horse.

Of course, this presents a number of difficulties - I found out yesterday that whilst the knee operation made walking pain free, all that time limping around before the operation has left a considerable deficit in the knee's strength; enough to make mounting conventionally (via the near-side stirrup) just about impossible. Which pretty much eliminates any horses of height.

But in that ironic way nature has of playing with us, the deficits in knee strength seem to have been compensated by a surplus in girth - mine, not the horse. Which sort of makes vaulting onto anything bigger than a Shetland pretty unlikely.

And as if all that is not challenge enough, I find that after 5 minutes on two horses (I'm sure glad no-one videoed the tragedy of an elderly fat lady being hoisted onto long-suffering horses) the next day the good old back injury (L3, L4 and L5 for those with an interest in such things) says to me "Hey lady! That was not a good idea". I don't know why we don't pay more attention to what the voices say to us - they aren't always wrong, you know.

So for the moment it looks like it's back to Physio to see what if anything I can do to strengthen those body bits that are doing their best to shatter yet another dream - regardless of how practical it is, or otherwise.

Maybe it's something to do with the current Olympic Spirit; perhaps it's just sheer dogmatic stubbornness? Or are those two just different sides of the same coin?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Playing possum?

Here's something that doesn't happen every day - a possum capture and release. This little (?) beauty had been living in the roof space and sneaking folk's nibbles during the night. The cage-trap was professionally set, and it was a thrill to be part of the release party!

OK, I held the door open and took some pictures. But geez, someone had to. The funny thing was that the furry fury was released a short distance away from our building (they're territorial, and are required by law to be released within their territory) at the bottom of a tree that seemed to be ideal ... except being a typical creature of its type, it decided that it didn't like that tree. It sprinted across the grounds for some 50 yards/metres and found a tree more to its liking.

It hasn't been seen since yesterday, so it looks like everyone's morning tea is safe, at least for the moment.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"We're only a small library ..."

"We're only a small library". Worse excuse ever for cutting budgets and diverting staffing to non-library tasks (obviously NOT the case in this news story, but used elsewhere by someone else in the context of a school library).

And it becomes worse than mere dissemblance to then add " ... with little use" when no stats were referenced, nor even the most casual of observations made. Of course, it was a good thing actual figures weren't used ... because the statements would not have been consistent with the facts. Of course, this is in relation to just one particular case. Isn't it?

Mind you, as it has now been reported that our NSW Minister of Education announced on ABC Radio that government school principals will be free to dispense with credentialed school library staff altogether if, "for example if they'd rather have a speech therapist" it's pretty much a moot point anyway.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why has it been so quiet?

Whilst "many a true word is spoken in jest", sometimes there just ain't no better way to say it. Thank you so much, Scott! For those who are wondering why there have been so few posts here, be very amazed to learn that there are postings from satirical blogs that have been used in official complaints. Be careful out there, folks. The world is full of trolls.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Professional Learning Day

An excellent day starting with coffee (of course); "What's Hot?" in children's literature; judging criteria and other information about the judging of the Children's Book Council of Australia's annual book awards; then the Literacy Continuum and implications for same with the upcoming introduction of the (national) Australian Curriculum that will replace the current State-based curricula.

And that was the program just up until lunchtime!

I nearly missed out on lunch (not that that would have done me any harm) because I was 'gas-bagging' with a colleague after the last session - we came in the door to find the tables being cleared. Panic!!! But like Bill (Shakespeare) says, "all's well that ends well".

The biggest treat of the day was the presentation by Lisa Forest, former Olympian, media personality, and author - who proved that an hour is just not long enough for some things. Lisa is pictured here with me (she's the taller one - we won't even mention anything about being in shape here ... except possibly to make note of the fact that 'round' is also a shape).

In the background of the venue, you can see some of the wonderful paintings that decorate the walls of this high school library. I'll have to leave it unnamed here, for reasons of national security. Well done, and thank you to the organising committee of the Penrith, Mt Druitt, Blacktown, Windsor Teacher Librarian Professional Learning Group.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A literary 'chocolate box' ...

What can be nicer than a textual 'sampler' where one can laze around in the comfort of whatever furniture makes you happy, and dip at random into the assortment of offerings?

Sure, sometimes you have to bite into one or two chapters to find that they aren't to your taste, but if you wrap them up again no one will ever know that you've nibbled here.

In fact, even if they did, it would be unlikely that they'd care. Which opens up a whole smorgasbord of allusions and metaphors, most of which are best left alone at this time of the day - particularly if one has possibly had the odd glass or two of wine, it having just recently been my birthday. Like yesterday. Remember back in the day when one's birthday celebrations were limited to a mere few hours of joviality? Not these days, luckily.

And what's even better, one doesn't have to wait until one's birthday to pick up the odd book or two at the local stores.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Here's something new ...

... apparently prison libraries in Australia do not meet the standards required by convicted terrorists. Or at least that's the case at Goulburn "super-max" jail.

And here's even more shocking news; not only does that particular library not have enough books on topics of interest for one particular patron, the opening hours are limited. Oh my!

Although this story is now a few days old, I was holding off from sharing it because I was waiting to hear if the government (Federal or state) was going to provide a massive injection of funds to bring the prison libraries up to whatever standard they operate under.

Given the shortfall in school library funding, it would have been an 'interesting' (in that Chinese curse sort of way) to watch the next step unfold ...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not a book I'd be recommending for school libraries ...


Having accepted Random House's challenge "to find out what the fuss is all about" - and ironically not accepting RH's invitation to enter a competition in which I might win a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, I purchased it. A few days ago I provided a copy of the receipt here in this blog, just so You-Know-Who can't claim that I'm accepting gifts from publishers to supplement my spectacularly generous salary (you did see that I've also joined the Sarcasm Society?).

Anyways, I've now finished the book. Not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. It started out seemingly to represent my least favorite genre, Formula Romance. Then it got really really weird. I suppose if you're into SM or excessively graphic sexual descriptions (probably 85% of the textual content) you'd probably enjoy it.

The plot? They meet, she thinks she's in love, he's weird, he shows her how weird he actually is, she leaves him. In between, they meet each others' respective (and respectable) parents.

Character development? He doesn't change, while she discovers she's exactly who she thought she was from the get-go.

Apparently this is now Part 1 of a trilogy. I guess literature is like all "art". I may not know much about it, but I know what I like. There's a whole heap of books I want to read, but the other two parts of this particular trilogy aren't in the stack.

Friday, April 13, 2012

And today I joined ...

... the Sarcasm Society. I'm sure this will greatly enhance my employment prospects, my general health and well-being, and thence (obviously) my quality of life. See how well I already comply with the expectations?

I did begin searching for the Society's manifesto, or policy documentation, or perhaps a public disclosure statement. A cynic may well suggest that perhaps I should have investigated this aspect BEFORE joining. So now I am going to abandon those particular searches, and go seek a suitable society for folk of a cynical disposition. Although, as a true cynic would say, I can't imagine why such a group would exist ...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finished, and just about to start reading ...

OK, so I started and finished reading Paolini's Eragon. It wasn't a bad yarn (Australian for plot), but I did struggle with concentrating. The problem was that it was raved about by A Person for whom I have little regard for - I'm sure many folk will be surprised to hear that I do not uniformly love all of my fellow mankind. Others of course will not be surprised at that news.

However, my personal feelings for the 'raver' did tend to get in the way of enjoying the reading experience. So now I'm wondering if this might be the case for anyone else, or is it just me? I know sometimes it is [just me]. Now that would be a great PhD topic - "Affective Domain and Reading Enjoyment".

Anyways, although I did struggle on through Eragon, I still purchased Eldest. OK, I'll come clean and admit that I also bought Brsingr on the off chance that I might get that far. Unfortunately I am again struggling with Eldest, for the same reason I struggled with Eragon. I'm maybe a third of the way through it.

I passed on buying Inheritance for the moment. They're very thick books, and shelf space in the Home Library is not infinite. Especially since the Great Cull of 2011 and the disposal of three bookshelves. I'm sure with enough counselling and medication I will eventually get over that particular trauma.

So given I'm not especially enjoying Mr Paolini's offerings at the moment, today I purchased Fifty Shades of Grey. I noticed on Facebook that the publisher is having a competition to win a copy of that book, but I thought "to heck with it" (but not in those words) and just went and bought a copy. I'm planning on starting reading it in about half an hour.

THEN I noticed on Facebook that there's another competition by another publisher to win an author-signed copy of We Need to Talk about Kevin, seeing how the film is now out and all. I think I may have that book around the house somewhere, still unread.

But what is interesting is how the Internet (proper noun, please!) is working through Facebook to push books and promote reading. Although that could be just me. Again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just finished reading ..."The History of the World According to Facebook"

Yep, it's a parody. Took about an hour to read, but had to wait until eldest daughter had finished it ... which was less than one night, - which is the most 'engaged' she's been in a book for the quite a while.

Now the youngest daughter is pretty keen to read it too, but hey! There's a pecking order here!

It was pretty witty most of the way through it, covering just about everything from The Creation to the year 2011. The picture to the right here is from the back cover, and gives a pretty good indication of the content of the rest of the book. Which is the whole point of the stuff on the back cover, isn't it? Like, D'oh!

Is there a down side? Sigh. See picture below.

Just finished reading ..."The Power of Six"

Well, actually I finished reading it last week, but I've been incredibly slack in the Blog Updating department, which I know will surprise very few (if any) readers.

Verdict? Pretty good, really. It had that elusive 'grip' throughout, but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that the end held little in the way of surprises. If I was in a school library, I'd be adding both books to the collection. If there were enough funds, of course. Haven't heard anything from any colleagues at this time as to whether the first one of the series was popular, but I'm guessing now that the Hunger Games movie is out, there's going to be a queue for those books first.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A creative use for culls and weeds

Artwork by Canadian paper artist Calvin Nicholls. Yes, they are all made of paper.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just finished reading ... "I am number 4"

Didn't get to see the movie, but I picked up the book for $8-00 second-hand but in good condition at Parklea Markets. Was it any good? Well, I finished it at 6am this morning, and have just got back from the shops having bought the sequel - "The Power of 6" - for almost full price. (KMart has a 35% discount off RRP.) And I'm not even really into SciFi[slash]Fantasy.

And if that's not a personal recommendation, I don't know what is ...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Beer Review: No, it's not a typo

Perhaps most folk would partake of a suitable wine to help evoke The Muse, but it was a humid night after a hot day here in Sydney town, and Facebook was down for maintenance; with nothing much to watch on TV and no particularly inspiring book to read - or write.

So it seemed the ideal time to check out what's new at our local purveyor of alcoholic beverages, specifically in the low-carb range. Cue in Hahn White, described as a Belgian-style beer. With 0.25g sugar per 330ml serve, it wasn't a bad drop, although the fruity undertones took a little adjustment.

We skipped the orange slice additive ritual in the spirit of scientific research. After all, it just didn't seem quite right to add fresh fruit to an amber liquid that had apparently already been contaminated with health food. I'd not be embarrassed to turn up to a BBQ in the company of a small case of this product.

(And just a note for Those Who Know Who You Are - no, I didn't get free samples, and no, I'm not receiving any remuneration of any kind for writing this.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Facebook is down for maintainance

There really isn't any more to be said, is there?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gig to Gig

Why hasn't there been more postings here recently? Well, the last gig finished - after a 50% extension of the original contract, so I'm back here at The Other Office, waiting for The Other Thing to get sorted. So in the mean time, there's not a lot say, unless you want to know what I've been reading, writing, watching, thinking ...


(You'd have to know a few other meanings for 'gig' to understand the title. As a hint, it's not a reference to horse-drawn carriages, concerts, or the nap on cloth.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

School Library Humor 101Revision

Tomorrow is Day 2 of the new gig, albeit just a short-term one. On Friday (Day 1) I re-learned a valuable lesson that I had, admittedly, forgotten. Do not, under any circumstances, joke with classroom teachers about any overdue books they may (or may not) have from the preceding scholastic year. Teachers do not consider this an appropriate topic for frivolity. I had forgotten that.

But otherwise things are going pretty well. I'm rostered onto Staff Morning Tea with some faculty colleagues on Wednesday; I'm reliably informed that biscuits (cookies for our American Cousins) will be welcomed. A few things for my To Do list for tomorrow include speaking with the new Year 7's on their very first assembly at High School (I'd mention that I'd been trying to do that for four years at my previous gig, but then what's the point of reliving the past?); also the printing of booking sheets for teachers with classes, together with other forms for unsupervised seniors using the library during lesson time.

Generating 'the calendar' for the library software system so that borrowing can commence with meaningful master date dues; setting up the paperwork for (student) overdue notices; clearing mail backlog accumulated during the holiday period; many other Bits and Pieces; and maybe the most challenging task of the day - get familiar, like really quickly, with the collection so that the newest enrolments can come to the library and receive something that at least approximates useful Reader Guidance.

You've gotta get 'em young (or in this case, new) to hook them for regular recreational readers. Geez, I didn't even get a chance to boot up the OPACs on Friday, let alone browse the shelves.

And then just to put the cherry on top of the day, there's a staff meeting - or possibly two, I'm not sure on that one - at the end of the day. Hmmm ... that might be an even bigger challenge, given that during the holidays I fell into that wonderful - although ultimately counterproductive - habit of a Nanny Nap after lunch.

I will admit that at another gig, many years back, I fell asleep during an after-school meeting, but (apparently) also snored. Must have been someone else, surely?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Some Reader Instruction needed here ...

epic fail  - FAIL Nation: Page Turning Champion FAIL
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Spam of the Week: The Economy

*Dear Prime Minister Gillard, *

Please find below our suggestion for fixing the Australian economy.

Instead of giving billions of dollars to banks that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the Patriotic Retirement Plan:

There are about 5 million people over 50 in the work force.

Pay them $2 million each severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Five million job openings - unemployment fixed

2) They MUST buy a new Australian car. Five million cars ordered - Car Industry fixed

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed

4) They MUST send their kids to school/college/university - Crime rate fixed

5) They MUST buy $100 WORTH of alcohol/tobacco a week ... And there's your money back in duty/tax etc

It can't get any easier than that!

Also:*Let's put the pensioners in jail and the criminals in a nursing home. This way the pensioners would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.

They'd receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment,wheel chairs etc and they'd receive money instead of paying it out.

They would have constant video monitoring, so they could be helped instantly, if they fell, or needed assistance. Bedding would be washed twice a week, and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.

A guard would check on them every 20 minutes and bring their meals and snacks to their cell. They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.

They would have access to a library, weight room, spiritual counselling,pool and education. Simple clothing, shoes, slippers, PJ's and legal aid would be free, on request.

Private, secure rooms for all, with an exercise outdoor yard, with gardens. Each senior could have a PC a TV radio and daily phone calls. There would be a board of directors to hear complaints, and the guards would have a code of conduct that would be strictly adhered to.

The criminals would get cold food, be left all alone and unsupervised. Lights off at 8pm, and showers once a week. Live in a tiny room and pay $400.00 per week and have no hope of ever getting out.

Think about this (more points of contention):

COWS:* Is it just me, or does anyone else find it amazing that during the mad cow epidemic our government could track a single cow, born in Goondiwindialmost three years ago, right to the paddock where she slept in the feedlot at Bony Mountain? And, they even tracked her calves to their stalls.

But they are unable to locate 125,000 illegal immigrants wandering around our country. Maybe we should give each of them a cow. *

Also:* Think about this ... If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone -- YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM! It is time for us grumpy old folk of Australia to speak up!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On behalf of my fellow Curmudgeons, I thank the original author - whose identity is now losts in the mists of the ethernet - for so clearly articulating these thoughts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A terribly sad day

We went to Bowral for a family picnic today, and I had been intending to write on the plethora of bookshops in the Southern Highlands township.

But on the way there, we were witnesses to a triple road fatality. The truck travelling beside us on the dual lanes - literally a metre from us - left the road as we watched, crossed the bushy median strip, and drove into incoming traffic.

If you are of a religious bent, please say a pray for the three people who died. If you are not of such beliefs, I hope you can spare some time to reflect on the fact that no matter how awful your day was, your family and friends will get to see you another day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Barcode People: How clever is this?

So many clever people in the world, it makes you wonder why libraries are continually having to justify their continuing existance to the bean counters and nay-sayers of the world.

Just sayin', ya know?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside ...

... for a few days of creative retreat. Kiama on Australia's south coast - a mere 2 hours easy drive from Sydney, with pit stops and photo opportunities - had near-perfect weather. Although there was not a huge volume of creative product out-putted, I always figure quality is as important as quantity, at least in situations such as this. But who could resist sitting on a sunny veranda with a pot of tea and the daily crossword?

But my evening reading material of choice for this time it was a re-release of Alistair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra (under 10 bucks in my now-favoured book emporium). I'd always found his characters were a bit too 'blokey' for my palette, but I'd forgotten how extraordinarily long his sentences are/were. Almost whole pages, in some cases.

Now I'm thinking that I want to revisit a whole lot of other authors of that period (Ice Station Zebra originally being published in 1963) to see if this is yet another trend that has been creeping up on us largely unnoticed.

Sure, huge numbers of our younger folk do not appear to be capable of concentrating beyond the span of a txt msg, but I'd thought of we older gentle folk as having a greater textual stamina. Maybe I'm wrong? Like, that'd be a first. Not.

(May I be permitted to admit that I do like my constructed phrase, 'textual stamina'? As far as I know, I just coined it. But I am told that sometimes we hear or read such phrases and then later recall them and imagine that they are our own creation. Anyone hear or read this phrase before? Or am I destined to yet again embarrass myself? Feel free to drop me a line on this.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Plan A: The Harry Potter Exhibition

So the plan for this weekend was to borrow (ie hire - the difference being that 'hire' was for a charge from a commercial organisation, whilst 'borrow' would have been for free if our local public library had not already lent them out) all the Harry Potter movies that are legally available.

Then, we'd have a home Movie Marathon before we shelled out huge bucks to go see the Harry Potter Exhibition now currently on in Sydney at one of our fine tax-payer funded public buildings.

The DVD player died before the first disk was even inserted. Naturally, it was 6 weeks - nearly to the day - out of warranty. Never fear! Money grows on trees; we bought a new one. Sound quality is dodgy to say the least, so now it's jerry-rigged through the stereo system's speakers. Which means juggling three different remotes. Still cheaper than buying a hi-fi (remember that term?) home theatre system ...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just finished reading ..."Seriously, I'm kidding"

This is the third Ellen DeGeneres book; I haven't read the first two yet. I was a big fan of her TV sitcom - and not just because of the setting - and was disappointed that it was cancelled. But that was back in the days when I still watched TV.

I did enjoy this book very much. The humor was gentle and witty. But in comparison with some of my other favorite humor authors (eg PJ O'Rourke and the late Erma Bombeck) , it was a light read in more than one sense.

What was particularly interesting was the physical interaction with this book. I'd bought it as a present for one of my daughters (at her request), and borrowed it from her after she'd finished it. Interestingly, it was handed over with a set of verbal instructions that included not to open the pages too wide, as that wrinkled the cover down along the spine. Which in fact is true; I experimented with a new book in a store that shall remain nameless. I'd never considered this aspect of borrowing from a professional librarian perspective.

Which is in itself interesting; the former Warrior Librarian proofreader pointed out a few recent 'typos' and asked what kind of librarian did I think I was? So I shared with her my current worksite manager's perspective. I am apparently not a librarian at all, I am a teacher. Which is why I must close the library at recesses and go supervise the girls' toilets. Geez, and there I was putting all that effort into getting my library qualifications and everything ...

Have I digressed? Or am I marching firmly down the middle of the concourse?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Is "Warhorse" an 80 year belated film tie-in?

The movie Warhorse may not be for everyone. For some, there will be not enough blood and guts on the battle field; for others, there may be too many tear-jerking moments. For me, this was a hugely spooky experience; the plot had so many parallels with one of my most precious of my childhood reads, My Horse Warrior.

As an aside, I remember the flaming I got for belittling the prose style of some of the writings of the Horse Story genre in modern Children's Literature. I was told (amongst many other things) I didn't understand the bond between adolescent girls and horses. Pfft! This is the person who nearly dropped out of university because I completed a Diploma of Riding Instruction before I finished my science degree. I wanted to be a riding instructor more than a geologist. Long story. I ended up doing a few years of both, together with some other stuff that isn't related in any way to Librarianship.

Anyways, I still have my first edition My Friend Flicker. And also my beloved book My Horse Warrior; written by Lord Mottistone (General Jack Seely) and published in London in 1938 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. Illustrations by Mr A.J. Munnings, R.A. Sadly, I don't have the first edition (yet), but a 1938 reprint.

Those of you who have seen the movie will note the similarities to the scanned images above. Even the countryside in the sketch above is almost identical to the locales used in the movie. The sample page from the forward pretty well sets the scene for much of the book.

My copy is a little water stained on the spine, which shouldn't worry anyone but me because it isn't for sale. Enjoy the movie if you haven't already seen it. I'm going back for a second look - but more particularly at the credits.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Craft Room Makeover ...

... is 95% finished. Just some fine tuning to go, like finding somewhere to put the clock - without which, time starts to lose meaning in this room. But in a good way. Total cost of shelving approx AUD$300.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Craft Room

Yep, you have to click on the image to be able to read the whole thing. I'm not saying that everyone is going to find it worthwhile, but indulge me. I'm experimenting here. Enjoy!