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Alexsis’ comment on my last post reminded me that I should update.  The Paperback Riders did come in first, both in miles (widely) and percentage (barely).  I’m really proud of my team and I have heard from other staff that observing us participate in Bike to Work month has motivated them to start riding to work as well.  Which is really the goal, right? ;)

I’ve finally done some real riding on the Surly, and she is a beautiful machine.  Really light and fast.  I went on a short ride with the new Mr. a week ago and I blasted up a big hill, leaving him in the dust.  Evidently he didn’t realize I had it in me and had settled in for a long slow climb.  Oops, I’ve got to stop complaining about hills. It gives the wrong impression.

I just got back from a Union convention in LA, where the only exercise I got was swimming in the salt water pool on the roof of our hotel and lots of walking. And breathing, that felt like exercise in LA.

Salt water pool on top of the Standard

Now it’s time to start training again.

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Wow, the two weeks since vacation have been crazy pants.  I don’t know how I packed so many obligations into such a short amount of time, but I figured out yesterday just how much I had booked.  2 computer classes (one of them my first day back), 1 TAG wrap up party, 1 TAG video edit (coming soon),  2 training sessions, 1 school visit (with 7 classrooms and a lunch table), 1 scavenger hunt program–throw in a weekend Union conference, a general membership meeting and a few personal things–The Boy’s basketball tournament in La Connor!–and I’ve been one busy woman!

Of course, there are upsides and downsides to this kind of thing.  I got to do everything I wanted (everything!), and I get the second half of the month off for vacation and ALA.  The downsides are that I had to drive most days because of supplies and early mornings, I woke up at odd times from anxiety dreams, and I was a little high strung.

Usually I don’t plan things so close, but a few weren’t my doing (training) and the others couldn’t be helped (without making the choice not to do them).  I had time for them all and planned really well, so they all came off without a hitch (except for Facebook class, but I blame Facebook’s ever shifting craziness for most of that).  I put the finishing touches on my Steampunk Summer display last night after the Scavenger Hunt and I like the way it turned out.  I talked up the teen summer reading program to teens at the local middle and high school and they seem pretty excited about it.  All of my hidden books disappeared pretty quickly and coworkers said that kids came in asking about it. (Click the link above for more info about Steampunk Summer).

What am I reading?  Still finishing up Fevre Dream by George RR Martin.  That books is long–but worth it, as Martin books are.

I just started an ARC that a local author gave me; The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler.  She’s a history teacher and also wrote The Amethyst Road.  I like it so far, but I find that books set in Seattle unnerve me a bit.  Usually they use landmarks I know, but mix up their locations to fit the story.  I find myself wanting to look up every location on a map, which is distracting, but not the author’s fault.  The first scene of The Jewel and the Key is at Lincoln High School, which is a real place, but has not functioned as it’s own high school for a long time.  It is currently being used to house other schools while their school is undergoing renovation.  Right now, I think there are two elementary schools using the site.  Lincoln is in Wallingford, so every time the character turns a corner, I try to envision where she is.  I used to work in that ‘hood and know it fairly well.  I’m going to have to let this go to enjoy the story.  So far the writing is good and the characters are interesting.   More later.

I finished A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan–very contemporary.  I liked this book, but I’m not sure I loved it. I felt like I was reading several related short stories that eventually came together in one conclusion. I liked each of these individually–even (or maybe especially) the one done in power point slides–but overall it felt choppy and hard to follow. I did enjoy the characters; meeting each one, discovering their strengths and weaknesses and following them on their journeys. Egan creates a very in depth picture of each of her characters, and they are very interesting.

I have tried, several times, to start writing here over the last couple of weeks.  There has been a lot going on, lots of work stuff blowing up, then coming down, then (hopefully) getting fixed.  As most of you know, our budget was cut pretty severely this year.  Many of my colleagues were transferred out of their positions and into non-librarian positions, or just right on out of the library.  Everyone was offered a job–not the job they applied for, not a job they wanted, but a job.  So there is a public statement saying that no one was layed off.  However, a demotion is a lay off.  A cut in pay is a lay off.  Elimination of a position is a great loss, as it is likely we won’t ever get that position back.

Anyhow, as sad as that was, we were all dealing.  We had voted overwhelmingly to take a pay cut, to forgo our COLA, to go on furlough.  We had been informed of where our newest re-organization would take us (I was personally lucky, I do not have to move again), and were all dealing with that loss.  Some of the communication was awful.  Really awful.  Like finding out that your position had been eliminated during a unit meeting with a group of coworkers, no formal acknowledgement, just your position isn’t on the roster.

This week we had another blow to our moral.  Three people would be promoted and given raises and a currently unfunded deputy city librarian job would be filled.  That’s right, raises and more money to the top level of management.  There was a public outcry for several days.  Testimonials were written where all staff could see them.  Everyone was so upset.  Aside from the money, the fact that there was no  competitive hiring process was a blow and most felt that the three did not deserve a promotion.  Eventually the three gave back the raise–temporarily–but no one was mollified.  People went to the Library Board meeting yesterday and the union read a letter stating our dismay.  It was well done.  That, combined with staff letters and a local citizen’s testimony about staff feeling disfranchised, made the board realize that something was really wrong.  They cut the line from the budget allocating funds to a deputy and made a commitment to funding public services cuts before giving any money to raises or new positions.  They also stated that the library needed to create inroads to better communication with staff; that they wanted staff to be able to come to work happy and engaged, not beaten down by bad tactics.

So, I am hopeful.  And our new interim city librarian should be awesome.  Oh, and the Friends of the library received enough donations to gain the matching funds.  That is also very cool and thanks so much to everyone that donated. That’s all I have for now, as the library turns.

What did I read while I was hibernating? Oh so much.

Awaken by Kate Kacvinski.  I had a hard time suspending my disbelief over the premise, but the story itself and the writing was sound.  When I explained it to my father, he said he could believe it, so that might just be me.  Basically, in this post 2040 future (only date I saw) everyone has retreated behind a computer, too scared to leave their homes for various reasons.  It all began because school bombings and shootings had gotten out of hand and in order to protect the children, school had been moved into the family home via digital school, or DS.  Maddie is the teen daughter of the founder of DS, but she isn’t convinced it is the best thing and has a checkered past of helping protesters, whom some might call terrorists, fight DS.  Now that she is older and realizes the impact she has had on her family in betraying them, she is torn between not hurting them again and following her beliefs.

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. The feel of the story reminds me of K.L. Going’s Fat Kid Rules the World. There are short, hot chapters and the writing is poetic. I wanted to go get my notebook several times while reading, and I haven’t written anything longer or more creative than a flyer in years.

The main character, Jonathan, is mourning the loss of his twin brother from an accident a year before. He lives with his bikini barista mother in West Seattle in a ‘needs some love’ house that his mother wants to transform into a wedding chapel. His inability to deal with his personal tragedy has dropped him into a hole, and one that his principal wants to help him out of. She gives him an ultimatum: don’t skip class, interview a world war two vet and write his book, and perform at graduation and she’ll let him pass 11th grade.

A very worthwhile read. Steady and entertaining. The only thing I had a hard time with was how well everything came together and how much everyone wanted him to succeed. I enjoyed all the local references, most of which I recognized, although Jonathan’s world isn’t one I have a lot of experience with first hand. His life, his circumstances, felt very different to me than my own growing up just a little bit North. Sign of the times or just a more urban existence? Either way, I found the differences interesting.

The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz. Allie is a vinyl expert. At 16 she has already put in 2 years of service working at her local record store; her home away from home. But the numbers of record aficionados are shrinking and so are the store’s clientele. In order to reach more LP fans, Allie starts a blog and a zine, talking about all her favorites slowly garnering a larger and larger fan base, including “Fan in Berkley” whom she fantasizes is the illusive mystery man she sees occasionally in the store.

Like a simplified High Fidelity, this book will satisfy budding music lovers and LP fans. There’s a bit of crime and morality that has an interesting twist.

I read this one on my iPod touch using bluefire–a library download. The text was big enough that I wasn’t straining, even on the small screen. A very fast and satisfying read.

Zombies Vs Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. My son and I listened to this audiobook on our long drive to Nevada.  It is a book of short stories that alternate between zombie and unicorn themes (some combined) and feature authors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier fighting it out over which is better.  The stories themselves are by awesome YA authors and vary greatly in tone and depth.

We had a great time listening to these.  The banter between Holly and Justine seemed a bit tinned, but was still amusing.  I really loved the second story about a boy who had contracted a rare form of brain virus (the author tells this better) and he travels the country eating other humans–the brains are the best part.  My second favorite was about how to train your baby killer unicorn, and that just says it all right there.  In my opinion, the zombie stories win but the contrast is excellent.  Some of the readers are better than others (there is a mix of readers and one story seems to have 3 different readers, one for each of the “voices”.)  The excellent readers seem to coincide with my favorite stories… thank goodness.

Ok, I’ve overwhelmed you enough.  You may go.

For now.  There is still a chance things will change, but for now I haven’t gotten a letter.  I don’t like that anyone is getting laid off though, and I hope we find a way to keep that from happening.

Had a lovely staff day today, learning all about the budget and what might come in the future (digital devices you can check out?!?…maybe some day).  Mostly it just made me tired, but that might have been the little bit of sleep I got the night before.  Union executive board meeting tomorrow.  Lots of discussing to do.  Still feel limbo-y about all this stuff.

What am I reading? Half heartedly a few different things.  The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, which was something I picked up at PLA and never got around to reading.  It is a lot like Big Love.

Also Merlin’s Harp, same deal.  They are both decent books, I am just waiting for my copy of Monsters of Men to come and being impatient…

I am home, exhausted and about to start my first day back at work.  My flight yesterday was delayed by several hours which I got to spend in the lovely Denver airport.  The company was good at least.  For the first time in my travels I talked to strangers.  We were all traveling to Seattle, which gave us something in common.

A few of the people I met:  a photographer family who live in Bremerton and take pictures for the Teamsters Union, they have chickens and are homeschooling their two children;  A middle aged man traveling with his wife and daughter who has been assigned overseas but was from the Seattle area, his daughter is interested in attending Western and we chatted about handheld devices–he had a new iPad;  A mom traveling to California to meet her best friend’s adopted son–they found him in Africa, he had a congenital heart disease and they gradually got permission to bring him to the states for treatment, then to adopt him.  It was a beautiful story.  She and I swapped young adult book recommendations.  My last chance conversation was on the Link on my way to dad’s to get my car.  A lovely young girl was traveling with her father and we discussed how clean Link was compared to her subway back in Mariland, the fireworks and how Independence day celebrates our freedom from the British.  Her father mentioned that they were from Hong Kong, which was also a British colony.

By the time I got to Dad’s place it was 10pm–1am on the East Coast–and I was tired.  I tried to stay and watch the fireworks they were letting off, but my weary mind realized that traffic was going to be hard to navigate if I waited too much longer.  As it was, I caught the end of the professional fireworks display as I drove up I-5.  Everyone slowed way down and some people actually pulled over to the side of the freeway to watch.  They were amazing.

What I would have blogged if I had reliable internet: The feeling of the union conference got better once the voting for the Secretary/Treasurer was completed.  The support for the two candidates was fairly even, although Lee Saunders won by several thousand votes.  Danny Donahue was very gracious in his concession and both candidtates reminded everyone that we needed to be united or we wouldn’t accomplish anything.  It is rumored that Donahue will be running for president in two years at the convention in California.

I spent a lovely day in New York with my brother.  We walked and subwayed all over Manhattan.  I got to see the New York Public Library, the 9/11 memorial (what there is so far), the Washington Peace Arch and Central Park.  We ended the day at the Pig n’ Whistle, which was a very nice Irish Sports Pub.  I will have a picture post up soon.

What am I reading? After a slow week with Fallen, I finally got on to White Cat by Holly Black and the only problem I found with it was that I was done in about 5 hours.  I loved the premis–Callan is the only non-magical person in a family of curse workers and organized crime.  He finds himself on the roof of his boarding school in his skivvies one night with no explanation how he got there.  He is told to go home until he has a doctor’s note that states he will not sleepwalk again and as Callan goes about getting one through a less than legitimate means, he realized there is more going on than simple sleepwalking.  Other than some crime and dubious morals, there is no reason why younger teens/tweens couldn’t read it.

I also finished The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzales.  It is the tale of 14 year old Lucia and begins with her charmed life in Cuba.  She loves her home and her family, but then Castro comes into power and threatens everything.  Her friends turn into revolutionaries, her father is threatened and she sees abuse and death all around her.  Lucia’s parents send her and her brother to America to get them out, but cannot come themselves.  Lucia and Frankie have to learn English, immerse in a new culture and make new friends, all the while worrying about their parents and whether they will ever be able to return to Cuba.   The story is pretty good and a nice option to give to those doing historical fiction reports.  It is suitable for all ages and adults would like it as well.

I just started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and it is much different than I expected.  The first couple of chapters were a chore, but now I am completely sucked in.

The union conference has been interesting for sure. Right now allegiance is split in two. Basically it is the yellow shirts against the blue. Yellow is Lee and blue is Donahue. And now you know as much as I do. The sides have been obnoxious and contentious and I am inclined to not vote for either. I can’t believe how rude they are both to each other and to people who want to actually conduct union business. It is tiresome.

There have been some amazing speakers here, though. Today we heard Ted Kennedy’s wife, Virginia. There was a tribute to his life and dedication to labor first. He seems like he was an amazing man. It makes me want to read more about him. Yesterday we saw a similar tribute to Bill Lucy, the secretary/treasurer who is vacating the contended office. He also seems a visionary figure, very influential for the union both within and without. He then spoke and despite his advanced age, he still had a strong and inspirational voice. He will be missed in union leadership.

I got to see the Boston Public Library yesterday. It is a beautiful building and has amazing artwork. I will post pictures when I return. Today I joined my step-father for lunch. He and his wife happened to be in Boston after helping my brother move to Virginia. We went to No-Name restaurant and the seafood was wonderful–simple but perfectly cooked. Tonight is a boat tour of Boston Harbor.

What am I reading? Still Fallen by Lauren Kate. Sigh. Reminds me of Twilight. That is all. I hope to be done soon so I can start White Cat by Holly Black.

I can’t believe I am leaving tonight for Boston.  Every time I travel I get a feeling that my plane is going to end up in some strange place instead of where I am supposed to be going.  Too many sci-fi action books/movies/tv I guess.  I am pretty excited to see Boston and to see my brother when I take a day trip to New York.  I have never been to the East coast but a friend was in New York recently on her way to Puerto Rico, so she has given me all kinds of ideas where I need to go.  It sounds like my hotel in Boston is in the thick of things, so no problems there.

I have not been a consistent blogger lately and traveling usually makes me worse.  I am not taking my laptop with me, since I am flying on United and weather is going to be HOT, allowing me to pack light and only bring carry on.  I hate checking bags.  My point? Oh!  I am bringing my iPod touch and will post updates, but they will be short (which my posts are not, usually).  I will regale you with tales of the fun union conference, places I visit, and maybe the score of the Redsox game I am going to on Wednesday.  I might say a word or two about the books I am bringing with me, but there won’t be any links, so I will trust you to look them up on your own.

Speaking of books, I think I mentioned that I read For the Win by Cory Doctorow.  I didn’t talk about it earlier because there is so much to say.  Set just a little bit in the future Cory takes us on a roller coaster journey around several continents to follow gold farmers in different virtual worlds.  Mala is a gamer in rural India and at first the extra money that gaming brings in makes up for any hardship that working for the boss might be.  Big Sister Nor is from Indonesia and is recruiting for the Webblies (Workers of the World Wide Web) and she contacts people like Mala, trying to recruit them for the union she is building. This book is complicated and compelling.  Doctorow takes a few breaks from the amazing story telling to explain how the economy works in the virtual world and the lessons are interesting.  I wish I had had him for my economics instructor in college. Here is an example:

no one is in charge of it [the economy]. Some people may claim to be, but they’re in charge of one tiny piece of it, and maybe they think their piece is a brake or a steering wheel, but they’re wrong.  The world’s economy is a runaway train, the driver dead at the switch, the passengers clinging on for dear life as their possessions go flying off freight-cars and out windows, and each curve in the tracks threatens to take it off the rails altogether.”  pg 370

What am I reading now? I just started Fallen by Lauren Kate and I haven’t gotten in far enough to say if I like it.  The writing is ok, but the story is very vague so far.

Usually when I don’t post for a while, I am still thinking about posting and feeling guilty for not getting around to it.  A sign that my life is super eventful (in an everyday is busy in a mundane sort of way) is that I haven’t even thought about posting.  I sort of forgot I had a blog until I ended up with a few free hours this morning due to a canceled run with friends.  I was clicking around in my usual internet haunts, sad by the lack of new content when I spotted WordPress in my Chrome lineup and went “duh, speaking of lack of new content.”

Why has life been so busy?  Lots of work meetings, interviewing new volunteer candidates–I am actually going to have to make some tough decisions this time–, Bike to Work month–186 miles ridden in May as of yesterday–, planning for a union conference in Boston in late June that I just found out I would be attending and The Mister is getting ready to leave for his adventure in surgeoning.  In fact, we are leaving on Saturday to drive him to the land of deserts and gambling.

We had a grand send off party for him last weekend.  Many of his friends and family came, as well as mine.  The weather held just long enough to get us through.  I made some tasty ribs and salmon, tabbouleh salad and Parmesan chive biscuits.  The Mister got to spend some time with his childhood friend and it made me smile to see them together.  My best friend, who is also moving away for residency, was able to be there for a while.  I am going to miss her so much.  Luckily her new home is on the way to his, so when I road trip in November, I can stop in and visit.

In my chats with people about Bike to Work Month, I have realized that despite my list of “pet peeves” in previous posts, I have been largely unmolested on the roads.  I know that some drivers dread seeing a biker in their lane, imagining the worst–and some riders live up to that.  I don’t feel that I am one of them.  I am overly cautious when it comes to signaling turns and making sure that I wait my turn at lights and stops.  I have occasional slip ups, but I do as a driver too and I think that everyone does.  This month I have ridden more than ever and had fewer problems with drivers than I ever have as well.  I have also not seen as many stupid biker tricks as I have in the past.  Good for you Seattle.

And speaking of pet peeves, why is it that the hills never get any easier?

What am I reading? I finished Bitter Seeds and heartily recommend it.  The writing really draws you into the story and while the settings aren’t overly described, I found myself picturing clearly the race through France to the Channel, the doctor’s home, and the barracks where Milkweed was housed.  The characters were sparely described as well, but you didn’t feel that they were unformed, just somewhat mysterious.  I am looking forward to a sequel.

I just started Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.  She is the same woman who wrote Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  Gregor is the first book in a series that she wrote earlier for younger children.  I am giving it to the Offspring next, as I think he would really like it.  I can’t wait until Mocking Jay comes out…sigh.

I am home sick today.  Luckily there is nothing really pressing that I am missing at work, although there is always something I should be doing.  Yesterday was super busy with reference questions and readers’ advisory and I was alone last night.  I doubt that is what gave me an upset stomach though.  It is all ginger ale today.

There was one cute dad and son duo who wanted picture books with superheroes.  I showed them the youngster comics (vs teen or adult), but those seemed a little much for an almost 2-year-old.  All of our superhero picture books were checked out, but I put several fun looking titles on hold for them.  Dad was very excited.

One of the drawbacks of being a very busy branch is that we often do not have popular titles that are on the shelves at other branches.  When I first got to my new branch, I felt like the shelves were full of fluff and books you give kids who have read all the popular stuff–not saying they are bad books, they just haven’t gotten the acclaim of others due to timing, marketing or whatever.  Soon I realized that everything I am used to seeing and being able to recommend was simply checked out.  Which is a good thing, but makes RA difficult.  I can see this happens in adult and children’s collections, too.

There is a computer class today, but it is taught by a coworker.  I have one on Friday, so I need to make sure I am better by then.  I am a little glad that the weather has turned rainy again so that people will be more motivated to come to our classes rather than spending the day in the sunshine.

Being Treasurer is anti-climatic so far.  We had an executive board meeting last Friday where I was vocal on the points that mattered to me and listened otherwise.  I once called someone by the wrong name and another time said the wrong month repeatedly–but I am sure no one noticed what a moron I am ;)  I need to find that magic thing that will open up my memory for words and names.

What am I reading? Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis is an alternative history of WWII Europe where a Nazi doctor has made gods out of children, or just experiments gone wrong.  I am about a quarter of the way through and enjoying it.  I have to say that I don’t understand why someone who likes this wouldn’t like Boneshaker.  I’m just saying.  (This was recommended to me by someone who didn’t and when asked why, just said “I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.”  Hmm.

I also just finished Foiled by Jane Yolen, which was very good.  I loved this story of a young woman who is a fearsome fencer in New York. At school one day she meets a beautiful boy and falls for him, but something is not right. When his anger and fear show themselves, she is strong and stands up to him.  Beautiful graphic novel, wonderful story.

Things are busy, but not worth blogging about, which is why my posts have been sporadic and kind of dull.  I am finalizing a second round of classes for Summer and getting sworn in as Treasurer of the Union today.  I have been successful biking to work every day except Monday, when I took the Offspring to school.  Oh and the Offspring turned 16 that day as well.  Crazy stuff–I find myself glad he isn’t getting his license for a while, partially because I don’t want all the changes at once.  I can’t wait to get him out in a parking lot with old Betty though.  His first swing at a standard clutch should be … fun :)

As mentioned before, I was already riding about twice a week, but I find that I notice more details when I ride every day.  Like my soft brakes.  I kept meaning to look at them, but this week I finally fixed them.  I also realized that my seat must have slipped, so I fixed that as well.  Here are some non repair/maintenance things I have noticed.  These could be called pet peeves.

1. Runners in the bike lane: this is on the street around Greenlake.  Really?  Why?  There is a perfectly good gravel trail 3 feet to your right where I will not do you bodily harm trying to pass between you and cars.

2. Clouds of tiny bugs around Greenlake, but also in Ravenna.  Stupid things are invisible during certain times of day.  I really don’t need the extra protein or additional matter in my lungs, mouth, throat, nose, etc.  I often find them clinging to my clothes when I get where I am going.

3. Drivers, please treat me as a car!  I don’t want you to stop for me to cross the road.  This only holds up everyone (and looks silly when you are the last car in a line and I could have crossed behind you really easily).  I also like to stick with the right away on back streets–don’t stop for me if I am on your left and don’t try to rush through if I am on your right.

4. This probably sounds like the opposite of above, but drivers, please don’t hover behind me.  Pass if you can with 3 feet of space.  otherwise you feel creepy stalkerish.

There are more, but it is time for work.  Ciao.