Sunday, September 9, 2007

Naming the pups...

My sister lives in Anchorage, where her husband is an Iditarod dog sled racer. This means lots of dogs, often 50 or so, and a regular supply of new puppies. I'd never though much about naming puppies-- in my world, a puppy comes along perhaps once every ten years, and sort of names itself.

When you have lots of puppies on a steady basis, however, names become a problem. My sister and her husband have approached this thematically. For example, there was the spice litter, of which Curry, Spicy and Mustard are examples. There was also the cheese litter (Muenster), and the duck litter (Daffy, Daisy, Donald, Aflac)-- you get the idea.

So when my sister reported on the most recent batch of pups, she noted there were seven of them, and asked for suggestions. Seven? There were the Seven Wonders of the World, but somehow Acropolis or Great Wall don't seem to work. Then there are the Seven Seas, but there is some disagreement on exactly which ones they are, and Mediterranean or South Pacific are poor names for a puppy.

Eureka! how about the Seven Deadly Sins? Gluttony, Greed, Envy, Anger, Pride, Lust, and Sloth? I suggested those, and my sister was taken with the idea. No idea what her husband will think, since he is the one who actually has to call out those names when mushing on the trail, and introduce the dogs to the press. Stay tuned....

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Two Car or Not Two Car, is that a question?


John the Tech and I have something in common lately, beyond both of us owning Inferno Red PT Cruisers and working for the same company. And that is part of the problem-- two, or too many cars. Both of us bought newer cars, and now are running short of garage/parking space.

John now has 4 cars, between he and his wife, and I have 6, between my husband and me. All our cars are nice cars, and getting rid of any of them seems cruel and unusual punishment for vehicles that we have enjoyed and that have served us faithfully. The next owners will undoubted treat them like Black Beauty was treated, which is to say, poorly. Shabbily.

John suggested selling the Cruisers as a pair, and offering some sort of freebie. We then considered which car would sell first. John's is older, but has lower mileage; his has an automatic transmission, but mine (with a stick) gets better gas mileage and the brakes last longer; his has a scratched rear bumper and features a roof rack, but mine has cool pinstriping and teeny flames. He pointed out that his was owned by a mechanic, to which I responded that knowing mechanics and their cars, this was not a plus. Mine, on the other hand, was owned by a little old lady who drove with care and caution, with nary a scratch on it. Heck, mine even wears a bra!

My feeling is to advertise all my cars (except the newest) and see which one sells first. Let fate decide what stays and what goes, without me having to make the decision. For John, this will be easier. He, after all, sold the love of his life, the Miata, without a second thought. Heartless, I tell you!

My new car is a white Toyota, my first ever venture into Asian Automobiles. So far the marque's I've owned have been British (the MG), German (VW, DKW, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Karman Ghia) and American (Chrysler, Cadillac, Ford, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Pontiac). There was a Jeep in there, but I never really owned it, I was married to its owner.

Part of the lifelong continuing saga of The Cars....people who don't have an emotional attachment to their cars, who view them as "Transportation" mystify me. My sister is one of those people, and this is part of her personality I'll never understand.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Lately several friends have been dealing with the illness of elderly parents, and sometimes loss. For me that happened some years ago, but it is always hard, no matter how expected. Suddenly a door to the past closes and there is no one to ask questions of family history, or turn to for advice. They leave, and there is a hole in your life that they occupied.

This has caused me to think a lot about family members I've lost, and about their impact on me. Since I'm getting more opportunities to present speeches in Toastmasters lately, these family members have become the subject of those speeches. Trying to synthesize their lives into a five to seven minute speech is a wonderful way to focus on what they did that made the biggest impact on others. My brother-in-law Rex, a genuine old-time cowboy, was the subject of one speech. The spectrum of things that Rex did, the people he made a difference for, his style and way of dealing with the world, all provided great material for the speech.

My next speech was about my Great-Aunt Ruby, a family legend, indominitable, and about the challenges she overcame. Thinking about her life, all sorts of questions...why did she? when did she? how? And no one to ask. So the story I tell about her is a quilt fabricated from scraps that are not complete, but stitched together as best I can make it.

And statistics class? Done, and I survived! Kudos to the professor, Alan, who taught me ways of looking at numbers that help analyze what they show, and introducing me to SPSS, the handiest thing since the ice cream maker.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Gathering the Data.

With the poem done, my focus was back on my statistics project, which started, of course, with figuring out what that project would be. The professor envisioned us creating an online survey and disaggregating that data. Naturally, that doesn't meet my needs or interests, and since I have access to some wonderful data from the California Department of Education, I prefer to use that. No problem with protecting identities, this is all public information.

Meanwhile, in my spare time (koff, koff) I'm serving a stint as Treasurer for my Toastmasters Club. Getting the paperwork signed at the bank and balancing the books has occupied some time. Ok, balancing books when we write perhaps six checks a year isn't THAT bad. I actually presented a speech, my first one in several years. That's fun, and my purpose is to entertain and provide a diverse point of view.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Winding up the quarter-- projects looming!

The end of the quarter is looming, and in addition to starting work again, final projects are due. One of them, for Inferential Statistics, turns out to be interesting-- who knew? I went into this class with my Math Phobia cranked to hyperdrive and my stress symptoms in full flower. The professor turns out to be a pretty good teacher and has made this course comprehensible and reduced my phobia to tolerable levels. Mind, the quarter and the project aren't over yet, but I'm actually starting to enjoy what we are learning. The project has me interested enough so that I'll probably stay up past my bedtime to work on it.

For anyone interested in the poem (last post), it will not be published. It is a situational poem, and those lend themselves to the occasion, falling flat in print. Best left to oral history.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The workyear begins anew...

People are returning to work after summer vacations, and discovering all sorts of things that inspire questions, that they think I can answer, or that my terrific clerk Pam can answer. Usually one of us knows or can find the answer.

Then I got an additional opportunity: write a poem. I do this several times a year, usually for things like birthdays or retirements, and it isn't as hard as you'd think. My friend Karen Robertson gave me the secret: if the lines don't want to rhyme, make them! With some creative pauses and ever so slight enunciation latitude, you'd be amazed at what will rhyme with what. The poem is mostly done, and only needs some fine tuning, two pages, which is about all that an audience can handle.

And I'm putting off homework with my blogging, and best get back to it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Current reading....

My current reading interest is trends in the school library world, and the only book I could find was School Library Media Centers in the 21st Century by Kathleen W. Craver (1994). It is staggering how the world has changed since then. My world, that of information, is now dominated by Google and Yahoo, so I picked up a copy of The Search by John Battelle (2005). Fascinating reading, especially when Battelle gets into future trends and intelligent searches. He describes IBM's WebFountain project that is annotating the web so information can be searched intelligently, a new approach to cataloging.

When this process results in intelligent searching cababilities-- essentially, a reference librarian in every search engine-- it will have a huge impact on how we teach students to access and use information. Will this new intelligent searching capacity also come with commercial content that will be problematic in an educational environment? If students can access information without a library facility or librarian, does this signal the demise of both?

For fun, try searching the Internet using whatever search engine appeals, for the name of the oldest known named author in the history of Western civilization. Or look on page 283 of The Search.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Week 2, Thing 3

Voila! The blog is up, and the Avatar created and imported. The Avatar will disappear at the end of the exercise, in favor of the car. Some more options for Avatar would have been appreciated, but I'm sure those are available elsewhere on the web. I do not identify with Barbie....or Ken.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Thing #2: The Habits

OK, I've started working through School Library Learning 2.0 online learning program, and thank you, Technology Committee, for making this available to all. I've recommended it to the Retired SIG, because there may be some of these technologies that they missed and want to learn about. Thanks to the motivation of the blog, I learned to resize and import photos.

When considering the Seven-and-one-half Habits, the last One-Half Habit, finding time to play, is the hardest for me, when there is so much else to do. However, let's define "play." A lot of what I do for work is fun, but I hestiate to call it "play" lest those who create my paycheck get confused about the number of hours I actually work.

The easiest habit is putting first things first, because my life is very full, and if I'm not careful, things just do not get done. So, perforce, I'm (right now) very good at prioritizing. With a few less things on my plate, that could change :-) Each day begins with a list of things that I want to do during the week, things that have to happen, and then from this list a daily list of "better do these things or else...." is created. Keeps me focussed.