Be your own Disneyland.

Wednesday, March 31

In the ebb and flow of things, my mood is down by at least a point and a half, but I'm taking control of a bunch of things I've been letting slide and going to the frickin' gym.

And am I the only one whose every contact with HR ends with me feeling like an idiot?

Tuesday, March 30

Y is sometimes a vowel [via PTSF]

Biking through a dead zone [via Reecie]

Journal of an Irate Supervisor. Excellent.

Make your own license plate! and how to take care of noisy library patrons. [via Spinster Librarian]

12 Reasons Same-Sex Marriage will Ruin Society

Monday, March 29

Weekend news:

So I'm going to be an aunt again. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.

A family friend was killed on Thursday. I know how I feel about that, but I'm still in shock and can't seem to react. I haven't seen her in about a year, as every time I went Home, she was either out of town or not feeling well enough to visit. I always thought, well, maybe she'll come by this time. I don't know if I'll stop thinking that at every family event.

Locking up a world of ideas: Closing libraries puts schools' core at risk
I can't imagine a school without a library. It was the refuge for many of us during our school days. In the library, you didn't have to be anything or say anything, which greatly diminished the odds of humiliating yourself in front of the straight-haired girls who were already wearing eye shadow. It was the one place where it was acceptable to sit alone.

In the library, under the tutelage of poofy-haired Mrs. Ryll, you learned how to find the answers to questions that couldn't be asked out loud. You could walk down the narrow aisles and run your hand across the spines of the books, stopping to leaf through the ones that spoke to your secret self, that girl who was bold and smart and didn't turn crimson whenever someone looked at her askance. Among those long shelves of books, you found reassurance there was a whole big, interesting world beyond your after-school job at Chicken Unlimited.

When the cash-strapped West Contra Costa Unified School District made its startling announcement this month that it was cutting all high school sports, eliminating all music teachers and counselors and closing down all libraries, much of the angry protests centered on sports, a stand with which I heartily agree. We know how valuable athletics are in enriching kids and in helping to weave the various school factions into a community.

What isn't as publicly discussed, and thus not as widely understood, is how powerfully libraries and librarians do the same thing.

Supporters of libraries like to say the value of libraries is immeasurable, but that's not true. Study after study has quantified their impact. In a 2000 study of Colorado schools, for example, researcher Keith Curry Lance found higher test scores in schools where library resources were maximized and librarians actively collaborated with classroom teachers. Standardized test scores ran 18 percent higher in fourth grade and 10 percent to 15 percent higher in seventh grade when compared to schools where library resources and staffing were meager. The researchers controlled for factors that people think would explain away the difference, such as per-student expenditures, teacher/student ratios, socioeconomic differences, race, ethnicity and the education level of the adult community.

Lance replicated the study in six other states and came to similar conclusions. "Kids who have school libraries that are well-staffed and well- stocked tend to have test scores that are 10 to 20 percent higher than kids who have poor libraries,'' Lance said by phone from the Library Research Service in Colorado.

"I always tell people, when you're taking librarians out of libraries and sending them back into classrooms, show me the research that backs up that decision. There is none. But we have plenty that shows the impact of keeping the librarians in the libraries.''

In another study of 600 randomly selected Texas schools, researcher Ester Smith found that libraries outweighed the effects of other school variables such as computers per student, teacher experience and even teacher turnover rate.

"The library is the great equalizer. It gives students access to ideas and information they might not find outside of school,'' said Ellie Goldstein- Erickson, vice president in charge of legislation for the California School Library Association. She is the librarian at Berkeley High.

"The library is the place in the school that serves all students. You don't have to try out, as you do for sports. You don't have to buy an instrument, as you do for music. You just have to walk in the door.''

The Chronicle ran a story last week about the baseball team at Kennedy High in Richmond, which is in the West Contra Costa school district. The school had enough funding for just one bat and no balls. The team had no bases on the field. It was too pitiful to imagine. So folks stepped up to the plate, so to speak. Bases, bats and balls arrived. By day's end, more than $3,000 had been donated and pledged.

Anne Frank was right: People are really good at heart. Presented an opportunity to make a concrete difference -- such as putting baseballs in the hands of an impoverished team -- they happily and generously respond.

So how do we mobilize that generosity when the cause isn't as visible and celebrated as sports teams, when what needs saving is as quiet as a library and as unassuming as a librarian?

Wells Fargo has pledged $50,000 toward the nearly $2.5 million needed to save the libraries and sports programs for West Contra Costa high schools. Mechanics Bank has donated $25,000. The Oakland A's are donating half the cost of each new ticket sold at three designated home games this summer.

But the challenge in saving libraries and librarians is that we can't just buy some books and think the problem is solved. The funding is to pay for the librarians, not the books. Realistically, public donations can't cover the cost of every librarian at every school in West Contra Costa Unified School District. The solution, then, is a hard one: The school board -- not just in West Contra Costa but in every district -- has to make librarians as untouchable in the budget as core teachers and principals.

Given the overwhelming research, given that literacy is our No. 1 priority in schools and given that most jobs today require some know-how in navigating the information superhighway, how can we even consider closing libraries and laying off librarians?

Mrs. Ryll's library was the one constant through my high school years. I changed teachers and classrooms. I changed social groups. I changed personalities and clothing styles and political beliefs over the course of those years. The library was like the friend who embraced all your different incarnations, happily following your interest in Buddhism or muscle cars, but was always the same old friend.

I left Mrs. Ryll's library with a skill that has paid greater dividends in my life than any other: I learned how to learn. -- Joan Ryan

Sunday, March 28

I went to the beach tonight to see the planets all out and about. I only saw three of the five, but it was worth the trip anyway. There was hardly any breeze, the mist was light, and I found a spot on the beach where there wasn't much ambient light and it was spectacular.

I'd suggest heading out to your favorite star-watching spot (or finding one asap) to see the show soon, as it's only going to last a few more days.

And we're back.

Saturday, March 27

The thing about The Top is that it's cool and all, but you have to watch that last step when you're coming off the dance floor, or you'll end up on your knees.

Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

Friday, March 26

So dancing is my new weekend activity now. I head out with the old drinking crew and we boogie down wherever we find ourselves. Luckily, there's always someone in the group who can look around wherever we are and say "I know a club close by."

Of course, we're not always that haphazard. For instance, tonight the plan is to go to The Top. I'm told it's awesome, and of course we'll be there, so it's worth visiting. We'll be there after 9 - come and join us!

Working in a cube farm is like living in a very small house with a whole lot of people you might not have chosen to live with, were it up to you.

However, if you care about things like paychecks and having something to do 5 days a week, you have to make allowances for different personalities and habits in close quarters, just like you might have done if you had siblings. It builds character.

It's frustrating, however, when you seem to be making all the allowances while others talk at the highest decibal possible on their frickin' cell phones and curse at the same time. Unfortunately, the nature of my job does not allow me to wear my headphones all the time, or Sade and I would commiserate all day long about good love, bad love, lost love, and the state of the world.

Happy Friday to you too.

Thursday, March 25

I just finished It Happened One Night and the coolest thing is that in the special features, they have the radio broadcast of the story, complete with the voices of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. It's interesting how they had to change bits of the script to accomodate the medium.

I'd like to say that I felt like I was in the 30's listening to the radio in the absence of the tv, but it's ruined by the computer.

Wednesday, March 24

Can you believe it? I'm going to Texas again in May.

Also, 1) who would play you in the movie of your life, 2) what's your hooker name, and 3) do you rock out in your car?

1) Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones, with bigger hair and wider eyes.

2) Honey Comb (hey, wait, isn't that a cereal?)

3) Aww yeaah, you know it, baby.

Tuesday, March 23

New word (coined by Jish as he's driving through Ohio, b/w Ann Arbor and Cincinnati):

scatterbrainedy, aka scatterbrained-esque.

How would you define this? We need to get it into the OED.

Neato links

Polka dots and Loretta Lux portraits [via 50 Cups]

Suitable for those with a broad sense of humor and like Star Wars: It's no moon! [via Fujikosmurf] Me, I found it hilarious.

I think I'm going to have this framed. Thanks Jon!

A question for non-asthmatics: Have you ever had a day where it seemed as though you couldn't take a full breath?

It's slightly alarming, especially during a season when heavy breathing seems most appropriate.

Rannie takes awesome pictures. Case in point: Leia of

Monday, March 22

So I'm having this mock conversation with someone about getting married (he wants to stay in the country, I would like to have a rich husband who could/would support my lifestyle), and even though it's all in fun, it's kind of freaking me out.

We've already covered religion, children and where we're going to live, and we haven't even scratched the surface. Dear me.

Sunday, March 21

Ack. My feet hurt.

A small price to pay to dance the night away.

Saturday, March 20

Lessons learned last night:

1) $5 is a great price to pay to see 4 amazing artists.

2) It's not always a good idea to take the first parking space that appears when looking in San Francisco, even when it's right in front of the venue. Especially if it's under a tree. Especially if there are birds sleeping in that tree.

We're not sure how many birds were in that tree, but there's no way that much shit came out of one bird.

For someone who gets their car washed maybe once every couple of months when I go Home to have my brothers do it, it is painful for me to have to pay to get it washed just to get all that stuff off my windshield (no, the fluid and wipers will not take care of this for me).

I should really be outside right now, but I just woke up about half an hour ago. Still recovering from last weekend.

Friday, March 19

Links o' the day:

See Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn!

The Honest Boss

Getting all your geese in a row.

Thursday, March 18

Ok, I lied. The photos are incriminating, but I'll post the link directly here:

Mine: SXSW 2004

Jessa's: SXSW 2004

New social networking app:

Theme of the week: Spring is most certainly in the air.

Wednesday, March 17

I love conversations that start with "LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE PHONE SEX!!!!!"

How can you beat that?

Did you take pictures at sxswi? Have you posted them to your site? Let everyone know!!

Tuesday, March 16

I'm back!

Had a great time, met a bunch of new people, and took pictures that are soooo incriminating that I'll probably format and upload them and then not link to them, only letting those who are featured see the evidence.

I'm going to need the next few weeks to recover from this last weekend. Whew!

Thursday, March 11

The Final Word on SXSW (until I return):

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked when I'm getting in and where I'm staying and when I'm leaving.

4:22 p.m.

The Hampton Inn.

Tuesday, immediately after the last panel.

I'm not taking my computer with me, so unless someone has a handy laptop and internet connection, this is probably the last I'll be posting here (and dealing with email) till next Tuesday. I'm taking my camera and all the flash cards I've acquired in the last few years, but I may run out of space by Saturday afternoon. I'm taking my phone with me too, so give me a call if you're so inclined. I'll probably be inebriated, but that'll just make it more fun, right? I'm awfully cute when I'm drunk.

Have a good weekend!

Library locks itself out of own Web site:
PIQUA, Ohio - The public library in this western Ohio community has a name problem.

When Director James Oda tried to access the library's new Web site - - to show it off for the library staff, the library computer denied him access.

"There must be a glitch in the system," Oda said as he tried again.

Again, he was denied access. Then Oda realized what had happened.

"We banned ourselves," he said Thursday.

Oda said he never gave much thought to the library's name - named 70 years ago for businessman and benefactor Leo Flesh. But Net Nanny, a filter the library uses on all the children's department computers, rejected the entry for "flesh" linked to "public."

"Growing up in Piqua, I don't think we give it much thought," Oda said. "But when I was in the service, my mom - who worked at the library at the time - used to send care packages in these little plastic bags that said 'Flesh Public Library.' There was a whole group of Army guys who had a lot of fun with that."

A change in the Web address - - has allowed the library to access its own site.

Does anyone know where I can buy some chill pills? Like, right now? I need one, and I know a lot of other people who need them right now too.

Wednesday, March 10

How often do you get to refer to porn and are able to confidently say it's work safe? Well, work safe if you keep your headphones on. [via Jon]

Today's Thoughts:

So my life, while rarely boring, has gotten extremely uneventful lately. I work. I go to the gym or the beach, depending on my mood and what I consider 'good for the soul' that day. I watch movies in the evening, or play on the computer. Sometimes, I even clean up my apartment. Weekends are a different story, but they always are, aren't they?

Despite how it sounds, though, like I said, it's hardly boring. While I avoid drama like the plague, my friends and acquaintances supply enough of their own that sometimes I don't need movies for entertainment. That sounds mean, as some of the drama isn't of the fun kind, but it keeps the mind occupied and gives me something to ponder when my brain would be otherwise unoccupied.

Related issue: I need a road trip. Going to Austin isn't quite the same, as I'm going to be spending the weekend with people I know (ok, some I only know online), and they all possess a certain quality of sameness. Don't get me wrong: each and every person I'll see in Austin is wonderful, unique, and wildly diverse, but let's just say that I suspect there won't be too many pro-Bush, pro-life, pro-war, anti-gay marriage, anti-environment types there. So expressing your views on any of these matters would be preaching to the choir.

And the choir is right and good ... why? Because they think as I do :) But recent events have brought it home to me that the little microcosm known as the San Francisco Bay Area is not the same as the rest of the world, or the US, or even of California. It's easy to forget that the weather isn't beautiful everywhere, that alternative lifestyles aren't accepted everywhere, that ethnic diversity isn't celebrated and expected everywhere.

It's not good to forget those things though - for safety's sake at the very least - and while I can sometimes remember this in my head, it takes interaction with people from other places to really bring it home.

Which means a roadtrip. Now if I can just find that elusive PTO.

What are your thoughts for the day?

Tuesday, March 9

The exciting lesson I learned yesterday: the following languages are all spelled the same in English, Swedish and Finnish:


This will come in handy when I'm on Jeopardy.

Also, this is where I post links I ripped off from Ernie, who is buying property. Real estate. Equity. Aka, growing up (something a lot of us have yet to do).

Halftime Janet Barbie
How to Stop Receiving Credit Card Offers
The Passion of the Christ: Blooper Reel

Monday, March 8

Random Photo of the Day:

Bandit, the little guy we met a few weeks ago on the way to the farmers market:
(click on the image!)

Alternative Monopoly cards

Preaching to the choir: American Anthropological Association Statement on Marriage and the Family [via Utility Fog Blog]

Ack. The first thing you want to see upon waking up is not the time that is 6:25 a.m. 5 minutes before you're supposed to be out the door.

I need to start getting more sleep at night.

Saturday, March 6

Chaldovar School Resource Center

It's a good cause, it's run by Susan's sister for the Peace Corps, and it's easy to donate!!

Friday, March 5

Which Peanuts Character Are You?

Neurosis? I'm not neurotic!! I'm not I'm not I'm not!!

Am I?

Today's excellent quote from my Wordsmith Word a Day email:
To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish. -Yiddish proverb

Thursday, March 4

I finished the 2003 photo album for my niece and started the 2004 album.

She is the cutest baby I know.

Oh, and I watched Moonstruck last night and all I could think about during those long scenes where Cher and Nick Cage are looking at each other was that if they were to have kids, those kids would have the BIGGEST FRICKIN' EYES EVER.

Good movie, though.


Lent is largely a Catholic practice, but when regarded in a larger sense, it's not such a bad idea. Most religions or cultures support fasting or abstinence (and not just from sex) at one time or another, for purification, to clean out the sludge that slows down our bodies and minds and spirits, to get us in touch with what's really important.

So, a week after Ash Wednesday, I'm finally getting around to considering what I think I'll give up for Lent. Here are some of my options, and what I think about them:

1) Alcohol. Well, I don't really drink all that much to begin with (if I get drunk twice in as many months, then I'm in trouble), so it wouldn't really be giving up anything to pass on this till Easter. That, and I'm going to Austin next week expressly to drink.

2) Chocolate. More likely as a choice. The woman who sits in the cube next to me keeps her little dish on the aisle fully stocked with chocolate, and when I'm feeling frustrated, I can't seem to keep myself from grabbing a little Hershey bar(s) as I walk by. My mom successfully gives up chocolate every year, and she doesn't pig out on Easter Sunday, either.

3) All snacks. This would be a real sacrifice. It's in the lead as an option.

4) Not spending more than an hour a day on the computer outside of work. Another big sacrifice. I've been trying to do this off and on for several months now, always failing. Perhaps this is the motivation I need.

And that's as far as I've gotten. I know better than to choose more than one. Heck, even when I was a practicing Catholic, I had a hard time remembering not to eat meat on Fridays, much less try to focus on giving up more than one thing at a time.

I'll keep you updated. 'Cause I know you care.

Rather than try to hold to two full-time goals at the same time, I have decided (with the help of Amy) on two part-time goals: to give up snacking at work, and the computer at home.

Wednesday, March 3

The Loop.

I've started the process of thinking about the resolutions goals I made at the beginning of this year, and how far I've come to achieve them, and how far I am from achieving the others.

My conclusion? I'm not doing so bad.

I bought the printer, I've started the 401K, and I've been mostly actively doing the excercise and volunteer things. The rest, fortunately or unfortunately, will have to wait till I move across the pond, and I simply haven't had the time to even start looking yet.

But my life is slowly becoming "that will have to wait till after I move", so I have to move soon, so my life can get around this hitch.

In other news:
Freeeeeaaaaky. [via Reecie]
The Far Side in Real Life [via SEB]

Tuesday, March 2

It's voting day in California and the polls are open - I won't tell you who or what you should vote for, but you should vote, and you should vote informed.

I've missed various elections for various reasons over the years, and I always felt bad that I hadn't made myself heard. If you don't vote, then how can those in office know how you feel? As in any relationship, you can't rely on the other person's powers of ESP, especially when they have their own agenda to follow.

UPDATE: I voted. And there was no cawash at the gas station today.

Monday, March 1

The Power of Smile

"There is some bit of wisdom," Mr. Brockman proposes, "some rule of nature, some lawlike pattern, either grand or small, that you've noticed in the universe that might as well be named after you." What, he asks, is your law, one that's ready to take a place near Kepler's and Faraday's and Murphy's.

[via Cheesebikini]