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I am home and in recovery mode.  I got home much earlier than I’d expected thanks to a new friend giving me a ride.  The only train option was at 6:15 which, knowing the delays on Amtrak, would have gotten me home after 10pm.  I was motivated enough to go pick up the Offspring, we watched Astro Boy and then I hit the bed like a ton of bricks and stayed there till 11am.

So what did I do in Portland?  Well, besides seeing Natalie Merchant, going to Powell’s and Stumptown and hanging out with my lovely coworkers, I went to many sessions at PLA.  It all started with a day of pre-conference on Tuesday.  Readers Advisory 2.0 was all about how to give RA over the internets in various forms–electronic submission of reading habits=list of 10 annotated book suggestions, blogs with a steady flow of book reviews.  I enjoyed listening, but realized they were all things my system has done before, and some they are still doing.  Our Fiction department had to drop online RA submissions because it was too popular and we didn’t have the resources to keep up with it.

The second preconference was Opening Doors, Opening Books: Providing Effective Readers’ Advisory Service and was presented by our own talented and well known Nancy Pearl.  Even though I have lived in the Seattle area for most of my life and went to the iSchool, I have never heard her speak before.  She deserves all the credit that she receives from readers and librarians.  I was afraid that any session I took on RA would only tell me about specific books or give tips that I already knew, but didn’t now how to implement.  Instead, Nancy taught me how to judge a book by its cover–or rather by its title.  I read a lot, and everyone wants a personalized recommendation, but I just don’t get to read as many adult books.  Nancy’s talk broke down how to evaluate what the reader really wants out of a book–character, setting, story or language–and helped me see how I could make a suggestion (because she says we should remove our emotions from the experience) based on that and the knowledge of some titles that would fit that need.  She also gave us the hint that a character driven book would often have something about a character in the title, same with a setting driven book.  We all came up with examples of books that fell into the four categories to help us have a better feeling for what goes where and give us some titles to choose from later, when implementing her method.

That’s enough library geekery for now.  I went to many other sessions, and another one that I will talk about here later is Mourning the Loss: the Challenge of Change, which gave me a bit of a chance to grieve over recent changes and realize the next steps of my movement forward.

I didn’t get to go to many of the places I wanted to while I was in Portland, so I hope to go back soon.  I will say that I loved the one night I spent in the Mark Spencer Hotel and hope to stay there again.  It is not terribly expensive and has a lot of room options and amenities.  It is also in the heart of all the places I want to see.

What am I Reading? I am finishing up Steamed, which is turning out to be a total bit of fluff.  I wish I would have read it on the beach rather than in the middle of PLA.  So not to say it isn’t enjoyable, just not terribly substantial and quite a niche book–how many romance readers are going to be interested in steampunk?  A few, but not a lot.

I finished listening to The Curse of the Blue Tattoo last night on the way to get the Offspring and I seriously loved every minute of it.  When I tried to apply Nancy’s method of RA to it, I couldn’t decide on a catagory as it has wonderful characters, is historical fiction, so definitely has a good bit of setting, is full of adventure and happenings so fits into story driven.  I found the language unique and inspiring as well, but I think that it is probably the least of the 4.  I cannot wait for the next book.  Now I just have to decide if I should listen or read it–the voice on the audio is really good as well.  Decisions, decisions.

Yesterday when I got all my conference information, included was a paper ad for what I thought was a book.  It had what looked like an author pic and a title on it and some information, and I set it aside only wondering who was paying so much to have this included in the adverts.  Turns out that it was Natalie Merchant’s picture and that she was playing a show for us.  I had no idea until right before lunch.

The show itself was emotionally charged.  Natalie has a beautiful throaty and lyrical voice.  I have always enjoyed her music, except for the song Thank You that seemed to play every ten minutes for a while in the early 2000’s.  Mostly that was just annoyance.  Today it was sung just for us; for librarians being there for her when she was young and providing so much of the materials that influenced her.  Today it brought tears to my eyes.

The songs that preceded that one also caught my heart.  They were poems by different writers that she had adapted into a sort of coming of age album.  They were beautiful and haunting and jaunty.  I loved every minute.  The new album is called “Leave your sleep” and I recommend a listen.  Before the show started, we wondered why Natalie Merchant would want to open for a bunch of librarians.  As soon as she spoke, it became apparent.  She found inspiration in the stacks, librarians helped her find her way, she did tons of research on the poets who’s work she used to write the songs and she shared with us what she found.  The link goes to Amazon, but I know the library already has it in the catalog, even though the release date isn’t until April 13.

So I am here in Portland, hanging out with my co-workers, trying not to let my ugly side show.  Being here is great and I am learning a lot from the sessions I have been to so far.  I have taken the MAX all over and visited Powell’s and Stumptown.  The friend I am staying with also took me to Screen Door, which was very good.

What am I reading?  I am still listening to The Curse of the Blue Tattoo and reading Steamed: A Steampunk Romance.  The first is soo good, but it is taking me a while to get through it, since there is so much going on.  The second is turning out to be more of a Romance than I like (with a capitol R), but is interesting enough that I am still going to read it.  Jack and his sister, Hallie get blasted into a different dimension where aether created steam is the main source of energy.  They find themselves on an air ship with the luscious Octavia Pye and her colorful crew.  Jack and Octavia feel an instant attraction that only grows stronger as how strange their situation is becomes more tangled.

I am in Portland at the Public Library Association conference. Random: I am now in the ballroom waiting for Natalie Merchant to come perform for a bunch of librarians.

I’ll let you now how it is…

Today was a surprisingly good training.  It gave me more confidence in my skills and some good pointers for fleshing out our regular curriculum.  I had to fight off my inner teen, though.  The presenter used a lot of tools to get us warmed up and at first it was really annoying (making us stand up if we’d ever had a really boring meeting, etc., ringing a bell at the end of each timed task, and she kept calling my manager by the wrong name) I was holding back the eye-rolls.  By the end we were all enjoying ourselves and got through a 5 minute presentation to a small group for critique.  It was a 7 hour training, which is a long time to be in one room listening mostly to one person.  We made it through and I have some really nice pipe cleaner art to show for it.

The Mister has gotten his residency assignment.  He will be in Las Vegas for a year for prelim surgery, starting in June.  Since it is only a year, I am staying here and going to visit when I can.  He will be really busy though.  My first visit will be in August during the furlough and I thank the airline gods that Vegas has cheap flights and hotel packages.  I am going to miss having him around so much.  Oh, my best friend has also gotten her residency in Sacramento, so my boyfriend and my best friend are moving away at the same time.  It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I can tell that June is going to suck.

What am I reading? My new iPod doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that there is an audio book on it right now, so I haven’t finished The Curse of the Blue Tattoo yet, but I was really enjoying it before that.  If I Stay was stellar and set in Oregon, so I recognized a lot of places described.  The story itself was engaging and beautiful.  The emotions felt very real to me.  Links and a little more info later.

I have been a flurry of activity the last few weeks.  Work has been hella busy, with the added responsibilities of being a Teaching Center Lead.  Things are finally falling into place though, and we are finding that we can do more than we thought possible.  I will be teaching a couple of times a month, and that ought to help me get over the big bad jitters I get whenever I speak in front of a group.

Finding out that I would be the instruction Lead at my branch, I decided to look again at my PLA schedule and see if there were any instruction related topics I could go to.  My best effort didn’t turn anything up, though.  I am already attending a few “management” sessions–things like how to deal with difficult situations and people and strategic planning–and I suppose those will have to do.

I saw a bit of the news today and it really worried me to see that some states are withholding tax refunds in order to keep money in their own accounts.  Not forever, but from anywhere to a week, to months.  California did that last year, but promise not to this year.  This made me think about the budget here and how we are already in the hole $10 million (5 from last year and 5 from this year) and how much worse 2011 is probably going to be.  There was another news program that told of schools cutting budgets already, taking money from sports, libraries and academic programs.  It makes me sad.

I learned about the city’s budget numbers last night at the union meeting I attended.  It was the nomination meeting for our next union executive board and I was nominated for treasurer to run against a long time position holder.  There is a lot of change coming to our union and I think it is seriously a good thing.  If nothing else has come from this bad budget and all the changes, it has forced us all to be more involved.

What am I reading? I am listening to The Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady by L.A. Meyers. It is a wonderful story that kind of reminds me of The Little Princess, in that Mary “Jacky” Faber is sent to a high falutin’ girls school to receive an education, she is demoted to downstairs help while her money is kept in “safe keeping” by the mistress of the house. She even sleeps in the attic! That is where the resemblence ends. Jacky Faber has so much life to her, everything is an adventure. This is the second book in the series. I listened to Bloody Jack with the boys during our trip to Cali a couple of months ago. I can’t wait for the third one.

What happened to The Man Who Ate the World? Well, I forgot it in the car for a couple of days and I plan to get back to it. I will let you know.  I also picked up If I Stay by Gayle Forman and am enjoying it quite a bit so far.

Lately I find myself railing against things I cannot change.  It isn’t up to me and all I can do is complain.  I am complaining too much and I am even annoying myself.  And now I will stop.

Scheduling computer classes is moving ahead and today I went to training put on by my own Instruction Committee head.  It was pretty informative and even though I should know most of it, it cleared up some questions.

This morning I learned on Facebook that Corey Haim died.  After doing a google news search I found out it was from a drug overdose, accidental, with his mother in the same apartment.  As a parent struggling with teenager issues at the moment, it seriously scares me to hear this.  Either she doesn’t know her son is doing drugs in another room, or she knows.  Which is worse?  Maybe she was doing them, too.

Tonight we are watching Lost Boys on VHS.  Yes on VHS.  And I own this cheezy bit of media.  But I loved Lost Boys growing up, mostly for Kiefer Sutherland.  And the vampires.  Kind of explains why I like Buffy so much.  I love cheesy horror, but hate the real thing.

I will update on what I am reading later.  I have been seriously tired lately between my frustrations and exercising like a mad person.  Well, not really.  I went running a couple of days this week, but that is a couple more days than usual.  So yeah, later.

The library is super busy lately.  Storytime started back up this week and there have been tons of cute preschoolers and older children (as opposed to the not so cute ones) in asking for all sorts of fun books–trains, spies, and flowers.  The children that come into my new branch seem so much better behaved and happy than those at other branches I’ve worked at.  I want to know the parent’s secrets.  There are still screamers, but not as many and the parents seem to have a clue that screaming children don’t mix very well with the library.

I am interviewing for new teen volunteers.  The girl that I interviewed yesterday (girl!  thrilling!  I could only get boys at my old branch–parents wouldn’t let girls volunteer there because it was a “bad” neighborhood), is super responsible and seems like a good fit.  I hope she doesn’t overwhelm herself, since she is a senior, working on her senior project and working.  I have added a few things to the volunteer list, like monthly blog posts and a monthly group meeting.  My old volunteers balked at doing these things, but it is interesting how if that is the initial expectation, they don’t bat an eyelash.  I am pretty flexible on schedules, since I know how busy high school can be.

I have also been handed a new opportunity at my branch.  I will be the Teaching Center Lead–we are one of the branches that have a computer lab and will be teaching computer classes.  It will be my job to schedule those classes and oversee the instructors.  The only downside to this is it makes me feel that I should relinquish my position on the blog board.  I am part time and with this added responsibility, I don’t think I will have the time to give enough attention to Push to Talk and still be able to do programming.

What am I reading? The Man Who Ate the World by Jay Rayner that was recommended by my friend.  I just started though, so I don’t have anything for you yet.

I just finished Secret Son by Laila Lalami, which I really enjoyed.  This is the upcoming Seattle Reads book and I read it so that I can introduce the book and our related programs to the book group.  I don’t always like the Seattle Reads titles, but this one I did.  Youssef is a nineteen year old boy who has been fed on dreams of a father that never was.  His life changes dramatically when his mother finally tells him truth of his past.  With that secret bursting in his chest, knowing that Moroccan society will not forgive him for his bastard birth, Youssef attempts to find out who he is and what he should do with his life.  There is an unexpected twist at the end that really makes it worth reading.