Friday, March 29, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Great Stuff from My Feeds Edition

I've finished reading Lean In, and I have lots of thoughts about the book and the flurry of criticism it has attracted, but I think that post will have to wait for another day. I will say that on the whole, I liked it, and it had some useful ideas. If you are on the fence about reading it, I recommend it. If you think that you aren't the audience for it... well, then don't read it. I do not understand why so many people who think they aren't the audience for it have to announce that so loudly, and in a way that implies that the book is somehow flawed or that Sandberg caused someone harm by writing it. There are a lot of books that I don't want to read, for one reason or another, and I have not felt compelled to announce that to the world. Hey, everyone! Guess what? I don't want to read Winning.  Does that make it a bad book or mean that Jack Welch's footwear is up for ridicule? I wonder if his advice is applicable to less privileged people? Does he address that? And what about his gardener? Does he talk about the challenges his gardener faces?

Oops, I'm starting to rant.

And geez, maybe I should read Winning or something like it just to see once and for all whether male business leaders are more inclusive in their advice than I'm crediting.

So... on to my shiny, happy links for the week! There was a lot of awesome-ness in my RSS feed (I use Netvibes as a feed reader and rather like it, if any Google Reader refugees are still looking for a home...) and in my Twitter stream.

Alyssa's take on shopping is hilarious, and a good example of one of the reasons I don't really like to shop.

Oil and Garlic made an awesome frugal substitutes flowchart. At first, I thought I didn't have any frugal substitutes, but then I remembered one- I have a tendency to go out to lunch on Friday, because I want to reward myself for a good week. Or comfort myself after a bad week. Whichever. This is bad for the budget and bad for my attempt to eat more healthily. So I've started giving myself a little treat on Fridays- I ditch my usual yogurt and bring a small thing of chips or some other treat food, and I bring in a can of diet Coke (the other days, I drink water). Voila! A cheap and relatively low calorie treat, and I still have time for my lunchtime walk.

Tragic Sandwich discovered the alarming specificity in toddler food classification, something we've run afoul of many times. I really liked this post.

I also really liked Reedster's post about childhood magic, and when it ends. Even beyond the end of the magical things like the Tooth Fairy, I mourn the end of the innocence of childhood that I know is coming. Soon, I need to start filling Pumpkin in on some of the crappier things about our world. It is going to break my heart to do it. On the bright side, once she knows, she'll take care of telling Petunia for me, because Pumpkin loves to teach Petunia things. Sometimes this causes problems, but sometimes it is beautiful- like this morning, when Pumpkin decided to teach Petunia how to build her Duplo Cinderella castle. She tried so hard to make sure they built it together, rather than just building it for her, and Petunia was so happy building with her.

Of course, they fought over that same castle this evening, so yeah, magic can't last.

On a completely different topic, this is an awesome post if you're at all interested in programming. If you aren't, you can just marvel at the fact that people like me find this stuff interesting.

Finally, in Zebra news... you can now buy the eBook directly from my publisher. The print version is also available from Barnes and Noble and IndieBound.  My publisher says it should be available for the Nook and from the Apple eBookstore soon- those distributors are just slower to publish than Amazon is.

Also- it has a GoodReads entry. I was more excited than it makes sense to be when it got its first (and so far only) rating there.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Thought Experiments

Nicoleandmaggie had a post this week about how silly the advice to live every day like it was your last is. I agree- I don't find that particularly useful advice, even for provoking thought.

As I mentioned in their comments, though, there are some "thought experiment" type questions that I do find useful, albeit more as sources of information about my true preferences than as guides to how I should actually live my life.

One such question is the popular "would you keep doing your job if you didn't need the money?" There have been times in my career when I would have answered "yes" to that, but now is not one of those times. This is interesting information, but it doesn't mean that I should quit my job, or even that I should try to find a new job. Right now, the work that I think I'd be doing if I didn't need money is researching and writing non-fiction books that examine interesting questions using a variety of approaches- similar to what Michael Pollan does in The Botany of Desire, but probably quirkier and far less commercially viable.

So yeah, I'm not going to toss my current career overboard for that. But maybe I could think about why the idea of writing that sort of book appeals to me, and see what that tells me about how I should be spending my life.

I recently came across another useful thought experiment question in Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In (Yes, I will probably write a post about my reaction to this book and my reaction to some of the other reactions to it... but not until I finish the book. Spoiler alert: I'm really liking the book so far.)

A fear I won't be conquering
The question is from one of those hokey motivational-type posters, which are apparently plastered on the walls at Facebook- which, given the fact that people apparently like posting hokey motivational quotes on their Facebook walls is probably cosmically appropriate. It is: "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" One of the passages I've highlighted in the book is Sandberg's own answer to this:

"Writing this book is not just me encouraging others to lean in. This is me leaning in. Writing this book is what I would do if I weren't afraid."

While I was out for my lunchtime walk yesterday, I realized that I know the answer to that question I want to be a "maker" even if that means exposing myself to the nastiness of the "haters" in this world. My answer to that hokey Facebook question showed me that I still have some fears holding me back. Having that information is quite powerful. Now I just have to decide what to do with it.
for me right now, and that was very, very interesting. I am not ready to blog about it, because I haven't decided if I'll act on it. After all, sometimes our fears are quite rational and deserve to be respected. In some ways, I have already started to stare down some of my fears, in that I've decided

Do you have any favorite thought experiment questions? Share them in the comments.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Good Weekends, Present and Future

Our last few weekends have been a bit hectic- too many commitments, and not enough time to relax. This weekend was a better balance- we had an evening playdate/dinner with one of Petunia's classmates Saturday night, but were otherwise unscheduled at the start of the weekend. We got enough of our chores done on Saturday that we decided we could have a Family Fun Day today, as long as we picked one of the things that wouldn't actually take an entire day. So we decided to go on a surrey bike ride in Coronado.

We got a late start because we all slept in a bit- which is still rare enough to shock me when it happens. It was 11:30 a.m. by the time we set out from the rental place by the Hotel del Coronado. They were out of single surreys, so we opted for a side-by-side recumbent Deuce Coupe instead, which was also fun. I wanted to see Silver Strand, so we headed south. This was a bit of a mistake, because for most of the ride we couldn't see much water at all, but we did get a great view of the Coronado Bridge at the start.

A nice start
We rode for about an hour, then had lunch at the Coronado Brewing Company and a quick play at a nearby park, and then drove home.

Later in the afternoon, the girls decided they wanted to do some art, so I set them up on their little plastic table outside and spent about an hour thinking I would get to sit and enjoy my drink, but getting up every couple of minutes to help someone squirt paint from a tube instead. But the girls had fun.

Artist #1

Artist #2
And they produced quite a few paintings.

Future fridge decorations
The single color ones are largely Pumpkin's. She called them her portraits, and specifically chose to do one in each color.

I also spent about an hour researching Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. We've decided to take our first trip to Disneyland with the kids, in honor of Pumpkin's 6th birthday. I found it too stressful to figure out how to handle a birthday party this year- we have friends from day care, kindergarten, and before/after care. We have no desire to orchestrate a party for that many kids, no real idea for how to prune the guest list without causing offense, and no idea how to deliver invites to the kids at school. Mr. Snarky laughed at me for worrying about those things, but quickly came around to my way of thinking when I said that he could be in charge of figuring it out. So we are buying our way out of the dilemma and going to Disneyland. Pumpkin is incredibly excited.

This is not a cheap solution at all, and we have no intention of returning before Petunia's 6th birthday presents the same set of problems, and then probably not for another 5 years- I just can't see how it can possibly be worth this much money to go more often. Therefore, I'm determined to make the most of this visit. Pumpkin's birthday falls during spring break, so we can actually be at the park on her birthday, which I hear is a fun thing. We've bought two day park hopper tickets for Friday and Saturday. We'll drive up Thursday evening, and drive home Sunday morning.

So now all I need to do is figure out how to arrange our two days of Disney fun. We aren't going to try to see everything- which is helped by the fact that I don't really like roller coasters (I get motion sick) and Mr. Snarky went with a friend from New Zealand not long before Pumpkin came along, so he's had his chance to do the bigger rides. Therefore, we're focusing only on things for the kids, except perhaps a visit to the Muppet attraction for Mr. Snarky.

However, even with that focus, there are a lot of options, and a lot of ground to cover. Given my planning tendencies, I can't help but try to plan it out. I want to have a loose plan, with enough slack for improvisation. Here is what I have so far:

Day 1 - Start in CA Adventure, end at Disneyland

Morning: Ride Red Trolley, Car’s Land, Paradise Pier
Lunch: Ariel’s Grotto
Afternoon: A Bug’s Land, over to Disneyland for the Disneyland Railroad
Dinner: Somewhere in Disneyland?
Evening: Disneyland Parade

Day 2 - Disneyland

Morning: Main Street USA, Fantasyland
Lunch: Daisy’s Diner in Toontown
Afternoon: Critter Country
Dinner: Downtown Disney (Rainforest Cafe)?
Evening: Swim at the hotel? Stay for Parade again? Go see the World of Color?

Are there any Disney-philes out there? What do you think? Am I missing something that a 3.5 year old and a thrill-adverse 6 year old would really enjoy? I have heard that it is nice to start to with Main Street in Disneyland, but I want to do the Ariel's Grotto Princessapalooza on Pumpkin's actual birthday, which is the first day. Am I making a mistake by not having Main Street be their first taste of Disney?

Any and all advice gratefully accepted!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Interesting Things Edition

It has been a bit of a "don't read the comments" sort of week on the big stories, and I don't have the energy to rehash the various angry-making stories tonight, despite the fact that I read many excellent things about Steubenville, PyCon, and that unfortunate New York magazine article abotu "retro wives." (There, you can Google anything you managed to miss, if you are so inclined.) 

I don't even have the energy to thoughtfully discuss the not-angry making but thought-provoking posts I came across this week. It has been a long week, after a busy weekend, after an even longer week. I'm tired and looking forward to a weekend that promises to be more relaxing.

So let's just focus on some fun and/or interesting things, shall we?

Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation) has a tumblr in which she poses a Dr. Crusher action figure in various vignettes. Quite diverting.

You probably saw this article about the Russian family that was cut off from civilization for 40 years ages ago, but if you missed it, go read it now. It is fascinating.

And here is a more recent interesting article arguing that beer helped to give us civilization.

The Bean Chronicles found a great quote on writing, which I hope means that she is planning to write more blog posts soon!

Jane Yolen does a great job with a Big Idea post over at Scalzi's blog. I remember reading some of her books when I was a "young adult." I am now looking forward to rediscovering them with my kids!

I hope you have a relaxing weekend ahead of you, too. Feel free to leave me further happy, distracting things in the comments!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Show Us Your Bookcases!

Apparently there is a meme or meme-like thing going on in the academic blogging world around taking a picture of your bookcase(s) and posting it on your blog. I saw it at Nicoleandmaggie's blog, and was persuaded to join in. (OK, I admit it, it took one question and I agreed to do it... It sounded like fun!)

There are two main bookcases for the grown ups in my house. Each child also has a bookcase in her room, and there is a shelf of kids' books in the living room, too. I have had to prune back books rather aggresively since having kids. We just don't have enough space for everything. I have also started buying my books almost exclusively in electronic format. I have discovered that I actually prefer reading on the Kindle. It is easier to carry with me. It is light enough to hold in one hand, no matter how long the book is. And I can make highlights guilt free (I'm the daughter of a librarian, and have a very hard time writing in a book!) and easily find those highlights later. As a bonus, I also don't have to figure out how to store the physical book.

Here is the bookcase in the living room.

The bottom four shelves are fiction. Those are a mix of mine and Mr. Snarky's, but since Mr. Snarky had to ship his possessions over in a shipping container when he moved here, my books far outnumber his.  The top shelf holds my philosophy books from college- yes, I've read at least a portion of each of those, plus some more that were in a box that was lost in transit between college and graduate school. I took Philosophical Perspectives for my humanities sequence and Classics of Social and Political Thought for my social sciences sequence. I then decided I wanted some different reading and switched to Near Eastern Civilizations for my history sequence, which means I've read large portions of the Koran and the Bible as well as Zoroastrian texts (stored elsewhere, next to my copy of the The Tao of Pooh). And yet I remain areligious...

Anyway, back to the bookcase. The second shelf from the top is biographies and memoirs. I have a weakness for memoirs.

There are two more shelves that you can't see in this picture, because they are covered by the sofa- we needed more floor space for train tracks, so we shoved the sofa back at some point and decided to leave it there. Those store our travel guidebooks and infrequently used cookbooks.

And here are my bookshelves in the office:

The books on the shelves are my non-fiction that isn't a memoir or biography- although I see I have chosen to store The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks here for some reason. (If you haven't read that one, you should. It is every bit as good as you've heard.) The books on the very top shelf are my journals from our big "circle Pacific" trip, which I am so very glad I wrote. I occasionally get one down and reread a section, and I love how that brings back the good memories from that trip.

The stack by the printer is my physical "to read" stack, consisting mostly of gifts and things Mr. Snarky bought and thinks I should read. Actually, he tries to put every book he reads there, but I periodically give him a stack of rejects and tell him to figure out what to do with them himself- I don't want them.

In other book-related news, The Zebra Said Shhh now has FOUR five-star reviews (and one three-star review) on Amazon. I'm pretty happy about that, and very happy that people seem to be liking my book. And I'll leave it there before I start a Sally Field-esque gush.

Leave me comments about your bookcases- or links to your own pictures!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Weeding as a Metaphor for Life

Awhile back, I saw a post or a tweet or something in which someone asked: what chore do you actually like doing? (Notice my stellar memory at work there- I can't remember any of the details!)

At the time, I thought: are you crazy? Chores are things I don't like doing! Isn't that the definition of a chore?

But this weekend, I was outside weeding in our front yard and I realized that actually, weeding is a chore I like doing. We have our front yard landscaped with native plants, which makes the yard low water use- or really, no water use. We don't water our front yard anymore. The yard is also relatively low maintenance, but in the winter and spring time, particularly after it rains, we get weeds.

The thing is, when I go out to pull weeds, it is on one of the nice days after the rain. So I get to sit in the sun (or occasionally, the pseudo-sun of one of our cloudy days) and enjoy the outdoors. If I'm lucky, Mr. Snarky keeps the kids occupied, or they want to color with chalk on the driveway, and I can let my mind wander while I systematically pull up weeds. There is obvious progress. I get fresh air. I might even get peace and quiet. What's not to like?

I've written before how I find weeding to be an apt metaphor for life. I continue to find lessons in weeding. Here are my latest:

Something can be really pretty. If it is growing where you don't want it, it is still a weed.

Pretty. But still a weed.
You don't have to completely conquer a problem. Sometimes, it is enough to just make it better.

It is best to wait until the rain stops and the ground dries a bit before you try to pull weeds, or you'll bring up a lot more of the soil that you really want.

The big things are sometimes easier to fix than the little ones.


Do you have any life lessons from chores?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quotable: Perspective

"It is easier to wax elegiac for the life of a peasant when you do not have to use a long-drop toilet."

- Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist

This quote seems timely, given the recent flap about a NY Times opinion piece about living simply. (Here is my favorite response to that: Wealth< Risk, and Stuff.)

I'll just note that I don't really mind the occasional long-drop toilet, but I think I would mind having to dig and fill in my own.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Infuriating Edition

This week, I've got a collection of links that make me rant-y. I promise not to rant too much... and since it is the weekend and we all want to be in a good mood, I'll end with two videos that made me laugh, courtesy of Mr. Snarky.

First, antibiotic use in farm animals is on the rise. This is the food issue that make me most angry. While we're busy fretting about a hypothetical risk from GMO food, we have a catastrophe waiting to happen in antibiotic resistant food borne illnesses. Gah. (This issue is the sole reason I buy mostly organic meat, milk, and eggs- because those are usually also antibiotic-free.)

Next, the attitude Seth Godin quotes in this post is frustrating, and the fact that it came from someone who helps to run a community college is sad.

I still had this in the back of my head when I came across Tressiemcphd's post about for profit colleges. She writes from both her perspective as a graduate student in sociology and her personal experience work as in admissions at a for profit college. That post wasn't infuriating so much as thought-provoking. I have hired people with degrees from for profit colleges in the past, and I've hired people with undergraduate degrees and PhDs from top institutions. It is true that these two groups of people are not usually in competition for the same jobs, but it is also true that in my experience, a for profit degree provides fine preparation for an entry level computer support position, and I know people whose degree is from a place like University of Phoenix who have gone on to have highly paid careers in computer administration.

But it is also true that I will steer my own children to traditional colleges. I think those give a better, broader foundation to prepare someone for the twists and turns most career paths take these days.

So my opinions on this are muddled, and it was really interesting to read Tressiemc's post. 

Back to the purely infuriating... Avivah Wittenberg Cox's post about gender attitudes/expectations in Generation Y argues against the "all we have to do to get gender equality is wait" idea. This quote, in particular, rang true:

"But for today's young men, it's a whole different story. They have been to female-dominated universities. They have had girls out-performing them in schools their entire lives (the OECD Pisa studies show girls outperforming boys at almost every grade level, in almost every country). They have a deep understanding of the potential competition they face every day from the ladies. If they find that today's male dominated corporate cultures give them a competitive edge, I think it is wishful thinking to assume they will be big promoters of balance. They will, like most ambitious men before them, be big promoters of themselves."

(Emphasis is mine.)

My final infuriating links are the demonstration of the double standard for male and female business leaders that had me ranting recently: can you imagine the stories we'd have read if Marissa Mayer or Sheryl Sandberg talked about parenting the way that Elon Musk did? And why has no one written any articles or posts pillorying Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly as anti-woman?

Double gah.

So let's end with some fun things Mr. Snarky has found.

First, this is an excellent rapid fire debunking of many commonly held beliefs:

And this ventriloquist act had me laughing out loud:

Happy weekend, folks!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Various Other Progress Reports

Why should Pumpkin get all the glory? Lots of other things are going on here Chez Cloud, so I thought I'd update you on some, in no particular order, and of varying degrees of importance.


My sister is buying a condo. She found the first place she was seriously considering putting an offer on, and tonight I went along to look at it. It was nice, but not the right place for her, so we left without buying a condo. But we went out afterwards and I kept her company while she ate some dinner (I'd already eaten).

Afterwards, I got in my car to drive home and Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days are Over" was on the radio. I like that song, so I turned it up. After it finished, Tom Petty's "Free Falling" came on.

And for a brief moment, I got that transcendent feeling of freedom that makes me love traveling so much.

I should clearly listen to music in the car more often.


Two more reviews of The Zebra Said Shhh are in, both gratifyingly positive:

Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity liked the book, and people also had an interesting discussion in the comments about whether or not they'd reach for an iPad or other tablet for a kids' book. Personally, I like having some nice eBooks on my Kindle Fire, so that I have options to offer the kids other than games or videos. But of course, The Zebra Said Shhh is also available in paperback for those who feel differently!

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers had a very nice review, which honestly gave me a great pick me up on an otherwise hard day at work.

As always, if you come across other reviews (or feel moved to write one yourself), send it to me, and I'll put a link to it up at some point.


Remember the vague post I wrote about feeling lost in the labyrinth at work? Well, I'm happy to report the issue that was the immediate cause of the stress and unpleasantness has been resolved, and I will soon be working on much more fun projects. Monday and Tuesday of this week were particularly unpleasant, though. I am glad that is mostly behind me, but still suspect that the entire incident has damaged my long term prospects at this particular company. I'm not sure I actually care about that, though, now that I don't have to run into the particular wall I was encountering on a daily basis. I'm still learning from my current job, and if I find that I am blocked when I am ready to move on, there are other companies (and other industries).


On a happier front, remember way back in early 2012, when I resolved to either lose weight or get comfortable with myself at the higher weight? I have now lost 5 lbs. This did not, in fact, take a year. I lost no weight in 2012. I lost 3 lbs when I caught a norovirus at the end of January this year. It was an effective if unpleasant diet kickstarter, but I resolved not to let that weight go back on. I have managed to keep it off and slowly take off an extra 2 lbs. I plan to keep going for another 5 lbs, if I can. That would put me back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. If I could lose another 10 lbs, I'd be at what I currently consider my ideal weight.

How did I do it? Well, I decided I needed to keep track of whether or not I'd taken my asthma meds. I am supposed to do two puffs on my maintenance inhaler morning and night. I often find myself getting ready for work or lying in bed reading and wondering: "did I take my meds?" So I printed out a calendar to keep track:

And then I decided to write down whether I'd exercised or not that day (I don't note the lunch time walks I take almost every week day). And then I decided to note my weight every Saturday.

Somehow, this gave me the extra boost of willpower I needed to ignore a little bit of hunger now and then and to get up and exercise in the morning more often.

Except this week, because daylight savings time sucks. Or, more accurately, the switch to daylight savings time sucks.


In even happier news, the 2013 Family Fun List and Personal Fun List are both fantastic successes. For family fun, we have gone to The Wild Animal Park and Sea World (yeah, that wasn't on our list, but they lured us in with free admission all year for the girls and they are roughly 15 minutes from our house, so we'll swap it for something else). For personal "fun" I have finally bought some new underwear and cleaned up my jewelery.  I know neither of these sound like much fun, but I am happy not to be wearing underwear that are older than my oldest child and I am really enjoying wearing my jewelry again.

Now I am reading some William Gibson, and starting to gather a list of new music for a playlist. Have y'all heard City Hall, by Vienna Teng? If you haven't, let me make you smile:

Someone needs to put this together with these pictures. And then I would watch it and weep with happiness.


In the happiest news yet, Pumpkin isn't the only one thriving at school. Petunia is also thriving at day care. She loves her teachers. Her teachers love her. She has friends, and is so excited whenever we see one of her friends outside of day care, be it by chance at a park or by organizing a play date.

She is such a happy, loving child. If I were the type who believed in reincarnation, I'd say she was an old soul. I'm not, so I'll just say that she is a joy and often seems wise beyond her years.

Since I showed off some of Pumpkin's work, here is a photo of one of her recent creations from day care:

Animals in the Grass
Pumpkin got so excited when she saw it. She asked Petunia if she'd share it, and Petunia said "yes!' and showed me where to break it in half. And then they both ate their halves and were happy.

And that seems like a good place to end this post to me.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spanish Immersion Progress Report

As regular readers know, we enrolled Pumpkin in a public magnet Spanish Immersion school. It is a Title 1 school that pulls kids from all over the San Diego district, but it also happens to be two blocks from our house.

The program is total immersion for K-2: the teachers won't speak English to their kids at all in Kindergarten. If they have something really important that they need to make sure the kids understand, they either bring in the magnet resource teacher or swap classrooms. (Of course, Pumpkin figured out that this meant her teacher really does speak English, since her friends in the other classrooms reported that their teachers only spoke Spanish, but those teachers came into Pumpkin's class and spoke English... ) Starting in 3rd grade, they bring in increasing amount of English instruction. The promise is that if your kid stays in this school all the way through 8th grade, he or she will be fully bi-literate- i.e., able to read, speak, write, and comprehend other people's speech fluently in both English and Spanish.

The start of the school year was tough on Pumpkin. In retrospect, I think two things were happening at the same time. The first would have happened in any Kindergarten: she was struggling to learn the rules and rhythms of the new school, and to adjust to being the little kid again. The second was unique to the immersion program: she didn't have a clue what the teacher was saying a lot of the time, and she wasn't used to not knowing something.

In short, she was struggling to overcome an academic challenge- which is exactly one of the things we want her to experience. So intellectually, I knew that was a good thing. But emotionally... well, emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck, too.

But now- wow! Things are awesome. We just had our second parent-teacher conference today, and Mr. Snarky and I walked out of that so very, very happy with our choice for Pumpkin's school.

Pumpkin is now happy and thriving. She also learned what we hoped she would out of the experience at the beginning of the year: that sometimes things are hard, but that if you keep trying you can master them. I have even heard her prepping Petunia for her eventual entry into the school, telling Petunia that is hard at first, but after a few weeks it is a lot of fun.

So she's happy.

She talks about friends at home, and we hear her friends greet her and welcome her into their games when we drop her off at the onsite before school care. Several parents of her classmates (the ones that volunteer in the classroom) tell me that they think she is nice and caring.

So she has friends.

And her friends are from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. This was important to me, because I really appreciate that aspect of my own early education. I got the experience in my neighborhood school just by virtue of the fact that we weren't rich and our neighborhood was moderately socioeconomically and ethnically diverse. Pumpkin's neighborhood school is a great school, but would not have provided that diversity. I think that the chance to learn how to relate to peers who have very different assumptions and expectations and whose experiences are different from yours is a valuable educational experience. I think it has served me well in life. There are literally some things I learned from my friends in grade school about how money and race matter in our society that have stayed with me to this day. Of course, there are other ways to learn those things. But I still feel lucky that Pumpkin gets to have this chance to learn from her friends, too.

But all of that is the extras- the academics are the most important thing about school. Today, the teacher reported that she was thriving academically. She is reading Spanish at the level expected of a child finishing up first grade. She has mastered all the math concepts expected of her. She writes well above what the teacher expects- so much so, that her teacher gave her a blank notebook and is encouraging her to write her own stories in it. (I can't wait to tie that in with the fact that I've published the bedtime story I made up for her!)

Here is a sample of her recent work. It is a "book summary" she did for The Ugly Duckling (El Patito Teo):

I love the sad duck drawing in the first panel.

Her teacher assured us that she truly knows all the words she uses, and that her comprehension is excellent- and then she showed us examples of her social studies work that demonstrates that.

We left the conference with recommendations for resources for more advanced math problems for her to do. I'd been just writing extra problems for her, but wanted something a little more structured. We aren't pushing hard on this, though, since she is so far feeling enough challenge with the language acquisition aspect of school. To help with that aspect, the teacher also loaned us a children's Spanish dictionary she can use to look up words from the Spanish books she brings home from the school library.

We've also had a chance to observe the overall programs at the school more closely, and so far, we are impressed (with the exception of the silly fundraisers). The school fielded several teams in a recent Lego robotics competition and in a recent math competition, and they did well. We see evidence that they are really serious about giving kids a well-rounded education, just in Spanish. And we love the culture of the place: watching the behavior of the older kids at the two holiday programs we've seen so far has impressed me.

So, hooray Pumpkin! And hooray being happy with our school choice. We may eventually find that the Spanish immersion isn't providing enough extra challenge, and that the school can't give her the challenge she needs in other areas. But we can deal with that if we come to it. Whatever happens, though, I am glad she did her Kindergarten at this school. It has exceeded our expectations.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mini Rants

I had a rough day at work, I broke one of my favorite earrings tonight, and the kids were little nightmares at the end of the evening because of the whole daylight savings issue- tired, but not sleepy, etc., etc. So I feel like letting some little rants out into the world. We will return to our usual happy, upbeat programming tomorrow. Or Wednesday. Or sometime soon.


I can not accurately convey how little I care about whether or not any other woman changes her name when she gets married.

Last week, the discussion of this topic was all over my Twitter stream and some of the blogs I read (and like!) and all I could think is: Really? With all the issues facing women today, this is the one we're going to fight now?

Don't get me wrong: I did not change my name when I got married and I'm grateful for the feminists before me who fought that battle and made that an option.

And I get that there is still work to be done normalizing that as an option in some circles.

But still, I'd prioritize equal pay, real maternity leave, better protections for breastfeeding women in the workplace and out in public, more women in C-level jobs, better awareness of/protections against rape and domestic violence, and end to the stereotype that women aren't "good" at math and science, and probably at least five other things that aren't coming to mind right now over the issue of whether or not a woman who changes her name when she gets married is still a feminist, or even work towards further normalizing the idea that a woman does not need to change her name when she gets married.

Heck, I'd change my name right now for equal pay and a promise that no one would ever again try to tell me that the reason there aren't more women in STEM fields is that girls just don't like/aren't good at those subjects.

And sure, I get that the name change situation is a symptom of a larger culture that minimizes women and their identities and their contributions... but that's just it. It is a symptom, and not even a very annoying one, really. I'd rather we tackle the causes, or at least the more annoying symptoms.

But that's just me. If you want to fight the good fight about women not changing their name when they get married, carry on.


To all the various people yelling that businesses "should" do something- be it allowing workers to work from home, or paying for better health care for their workers, or reducing their environmental impact, or anything, really:

Businesses do things based on business cases, not vague "shoulds." Sure, sometimes a business leader thinks something is the moral or right thing to do, and just does it, and hooray for them. Except, of course, when I disagree with whatever they decide is the moral or right thing to do.... (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Chick-fil-A.)

If there is something you think a business should do that they aren't doing? Try making a business case for it. As in, try to explain why doing this thing will make the business more money. Because- news flash!- that's what businesses exist to do. Make money.

And if there are things we as a society want to have businesses do, but that won't make businesses more money? Well, that's why we have government. We make laws, and then the business case is "breaking laws is risky/potentially expensive." (And yes, I realize this hasn't worked so well in the past, but I'd argue that is a problem with weak laws/weak penalties/weak enforcement, not a problem with the general idea that laws are a way to change things.)

Other things we can try: moral outrage/shaming, consumer boycotts... but really, in most cases, laws are the most effective.


A little bit more about expecting businesses to provide things that are in the public good... I think this is a big part of why our health care system is so completely screwed up here in the US, even for people like me, who are rich and have employer-provided health insurance. Think about it: the people who make the decisions about what insurance options I have available have to make a business case for the options they choose. I think this skews the market. The people making the decisions are optimizing on price and the appearance of good coverage (to keep the employees happy). And so I end up with plans that cover all sorts of extra fluff I don't want or need (discounts at gyms that have no location within 20 miles of my house, 20 acupuncture visits a year, and whatnot) but that make me jump through 8 different hoops to get the nasal steroids that DON'T make my nose bleed. Or maybe I'm supposed to try acupuncture for the nosebleeds?


WTF is with these "build a basket of random crap to auction off" fundraisers? Pumpkin's school is doing one, and we've been guilted into contributing to a basket, but it just seems like the least efficient way to raise money ever. All the parents buy some crap to put in the basket and then there is a silent auction among the parents to buy the baskets full of random crap. I really doubt that the baskets will be auctioned for an amount that covers the cost of the random crap in them. Wouldn't it be much more effective (and less time-consuming!) for all of us parents just to write the school a check for whatever amount we can contribute?

I guess this is supposed to be a "fun" fundraiser and get more parents involved. The illogical nature of it really bugs me, though.


Somebody keeps parking waaaay too close to my car at work. It is always the same car that does it, and they leave me so little space that one day I had to climb in from the passenger side. Part of me wants to figure out who it is so that I can hate them. Part of me thinks it is probably better if I never know, since whoever it is, I have to work with him/her.

The rational grown up part of me will just start parking in a different area of the parking lot.


Add your own mini rants in the comments!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Do Cool Things Edition

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. But I suspect the number of people out there who want to start their own business far exceeds the number who actually do it. As long time readers know, starting a business is one of the things I consider doing when I think about long term goals, so I often read articles about entrepreneurship and finding the will to take some risks and try to "do cool things" in general. Here are some of my recent favorites:

Cal Newport has a summary of an interview with Pam Slim about entrepreneurship and the role of passion. It is an interesting post, and makes me want to read her book. I particularly like this advice:

"Take one idea. Find a simple business model. Then test it using the fewest resources possible (time, energy, money), but in a way that gives you a good sense of whether the idea is viable. This is especially important if you are testing an idea while still holding a traditional job."

I also rather like this article about the dearth of women entrepreneurs, and how trying to plan everything out might not be the best approach. Here's the quote I love from this one:

One of the biggest mistakes we make as women is trying to make plans for how things will fit in our lives. We plan marriages, babies, and even our careers. Coincidentally entrepreneurship is one of those things you can’t really plan. Literally anything can happen on any given day. Last year I wrote on Women 2.0 about organized chaos. It’s how I balance my life as an entrepreneur and single mom who also happens to have some pretty ambitious goals.

Incidentally, the post linked to in that quote is pretty good, too.

And here is another good post from a woman entrepreneur, this one about how no one is likely to be a born entrepreneur, and you need to practice those skills to get better. Here's a good quote from this one:

After starting a number of companies of my own, and meeting with entrepreneurs at all stages of the startup journey, I’ve come to believe that the ability to differentiate good ideas from bad ones and massage bad ideas into profitable companies is like being physically fit. The vast majority of us aren’t born fit. We have to train, practice, and push ourselves to get good at it.

Next,  the funniest link in this post: the seven habits of highly effective mediocre people. I'm not going to try to summarize it. But here is a good quote from it:

We can’t all be grand visionaries. We can’t all be Picassos. We want to make our business, make our art, sell it, make some money, raise a family, and try to be happy.  

I really like this. I think we get caught up in feeling like we need to be amazingly awesome or we can't do something. But the truth is, we just need to be good enough. I played viola all through school, even through graduate school, and then I played Irish fiddle for several more years. I was never going to be a professional musician, but I played well enough to enjoy it and to produce some enjoyment for the people who listened. I think we should approach our work more like that. If we wait until we're unbelievably awesome at things before we'll try them, we will miss out on a lot of cool experiences, and the world may be missing out on some cool things.

So it was in that spirit that I decided to go ahead and try to publish The Zebra Said Shhh. I think it is a pretty good story, but I have no illusions about it being the next Knuffle Bunny. I had lunch with a friend today, and he'd noticed that someone had posted a review on The Zebra Said Shhh Amazon page. He wondered if I minded that the review was a three star review, and he was sort of taken aback by my answer: "Hell no, I don't mind. I think it is AWESOME." First of all, I'm told that even a one star review is better than no review in terms of sales. Second, it is only one review and maybe the next reviewer will like it even more. Third, writing a solid three star book on my first try? Hey, I can live with that. In fact, I will CELEBRATE that.

This is not to say that I don't take the book seriously. Far from it. I worked on the book and made it the best I could. I am fully committed to doing any marketing activities my publisher suggests. I just don't think it fair to expect myself to be perfect, especially not on my first attempt. I'll read the reviews, and learn from them. And my next book (and yes, I've got a next book in the works!) will be even better.

OK, back to the links. The link above about how entrepreneurship takes practice came from a Forbes article by the same author, about how a lot of start ups should focus less on investors and more on customers. There are business ideas outside of Silicon Valley.

Along those lines, I found this piece about running a business that makes products for people who make less than $2 per a day really interesting.


Since I was talking about the book and reviews, here are the posts about the book that I've seen so far:
I appreciate any and all reviews on blogs, Amazon, or GoodReads (I'll make sure the book is there soon... it is on my list for this weekend). But most of all, I appreciate you reading here. None of this would have happened without this blog, and the new ideas and contacts it has given me. Thank you.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Second Fix

I got my second Stitch Fix last weekend. I don't think I'll post after every fix comes in, but I feel like posting about this one. Prepare yourself for another round of crappy fashion photos...

I have to say, I find getting the Stitch Fix box a lot of fun. It is like opening a present, even though I'm ultimately the one who pays for the present. So sort of like opening a gift from my husband, except it is clothes instead of some practical gadget. I guess I just like the element of surprise.

When I opened this box, I thought I was going to end up keeping all of the items. They all looked "right" for me. Sadly, when I tried them on, I realized it was not to be- one of the items just didn't fit. It was a dress in a wonderful shade of brown and I was genuinely disappointed when it didn't work. But it was so tight across my chest/back that I was worried I'd rip it taking it off. And once I knew I'd be sending one item back (and therefore forfeiting the discount), I looked at everything a little more critically.

So I ended up sending back this white draped top, which seemed like it should look great on me... until I tried it on. I ended up thinking it just had too much volume for me, making me look top heavy.

This top looks better in the picture than it did in real life
I kept the other three things in my box, though.

The first winner was a sleeveless sweater/vest. I first tried it on as a sleeveless sweater, and was unconvinced:

But then I looked at the style card and decided to try the other style it suggested, and then I loved the sweater:

And so did my kids. You can't see it from the above pictures, but the sweater has metallic threads woven into it.

My girls looked at it, pronounced it "sparkly" and said it was the best thing in the box. I am inclined to agree with them.

I also decided to keep the oversize but lightweight teal cardigan:

I couldn't find an outfit using this cardigan that I really loved, but I did love the color and so I decided to keep it and assume that eventually I'll find the right combination.

Finally, there was a pretty silver necklace, which I also kept without any specific ideas of how I would wear it.

All in all, I thought this was a successful Fix. I am definitely enjoying having things in my closet that I actually really like without having had to actually shop for those things, so I will sign up for another one at some point. The thing I most need right now, though, are pants, and as Laura Vanderkam has already mentioned, Stitch Fix doesn't have many pants in their collection, so I will take a break from getting the Stitch Fix boxes and maybe look into trying out a personal shopper. It is one of the items on my 2013 Personal Fun List, after all.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

In Which I Become a Published Author*

Once upon a time, a desperate mother who really, really wanted her little girl to go to sleep with a little less fuss made up a story about a zebra who really, really wanted to go to sleep. The mother told the story night after night- sometimes multiple times in a night!- in a quest to train the little girl to go to sleep when she heard the story.

The training didn't work. It turns out that the solution to the bedtime problem was to just wait until the little girl was well and truly done with naps. Still, the little girl did grow to love the story, and even to this day, requests "the zebra story" at bedtimes.

One day, the mother was reading her little girl a book and thinking the book sort of sucked, and she thought "my zebra story is better than this book!"

And she got the idea that she should send her book to some publishers, to see if they would publish it. First, she sent it to some friends, who gave her good ideas to make her story better. And she kept telling the little girl the story, incorporating her suggestions and refining the words.

The idea of sending her story to publishers wouldn't go away, so finally she decided it was time to send the story out into the world. She sent it to some publishers, and didn't hear anything back. She almost gave up, but then she heard about a new publisher, who was making books that would look as good on a digital reading device as they did on paper, and she thought "yeah, the kids books I've bought on the Kindle do look pretty bad, I'm glad someone is trying to fix that." Then she thought, "I wonder if they would publish my story?" So she sent it to them, and they liked it and wanted to publish it!

For a long, long time, the idea that the story would be published still seemed not quite real.

But then she saw the cover art.

And then she got the digital proofs and the advanced copy, and loved the illustrations, particularly the one of the parrot.

Today, her story is available for purchase on Amazon (and will be coming soon for the Nook and whatever Apple's eReading application is called)**:

The Kindle edition: The Zebra Said Shhh

The paperback: The Zebra Said Shhh

Which is pretty darn cool.


*Technically, I became a published author when my first journal article was published, but it would be extremely generous to estimate that 100 people worldwide have ever read that, or any of the other journal articles I've written, or the scholarly book chapters I've written... This is the first thing I've published that my parents (1) could purchase easily and (2) might actually want to own, and "In Which I Become a Published Author of Something Your Average Person May Want to Read" seemed a bit unwieldy as a title.

**I'll update the post with the links as I get them, and will probably be unable to resist the urge to post about this again at some point, anyway. Also, there is info about the book on Xist Publishing's website.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Working from Home, Leaning In and All That Jazz

I should be in bed right now- I'm soloing this weekend while Mr. Snarky visits one of his best friends from his university days, who happens to be in a somewhat nearby location. I am glad he gets to see his friend, but wow, I'm tired. If I had to solo every weekend, I suspect we would not do quite so many activities. Also, tomorrow is likely to start before 6 a.m. and will involve two birthday parties.

But... I have a lot of thoughts about Marissa Mayer and the recent decision by Yahoo to require employees to work from the office, and not the home. And I have a lot of thoughts about the treatment Sheryl Sandberg is getting in the press in advance of the release of her new book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

I feel motivated to share my thoughts, motivated enough to stay up tonight and write a serious post on a weekend (something I rarely do). But I am strangely unmotivated to pull them together into a solid, coherent post.

So instead, here are some lightly edited comments on the topic that I have posted on other people's blogs, with some extra thoughts and bonus links at the end. One of the awesome things about being a blogger and not an essayist is that I can get away with this sort of thing. You get what you pay for, you know.


First, about working from home, from my comment on Mommyshort's post on the topic:

When my first child was born, I was working at a large contracting company. I had an office, but most of my work was with people on the opposite coast, so no one cared AT ALL if I showed up to the office. When I was coming back from maternity leave, they all assumed I'd want to work from home. The ones who were parents assumed I'd have in home help. The others had some cute idea about babies sleeping all day, except for when they were awake looking quietly cute on a play mat. (This delusion is how humans are convinced to reproduce, so I don't enlighten them.)

I told them they were all insane and came back to the office. I lived in a small apartment at the time. My daughter would have smelled me and demanded me, because that's the type of baby she was, and that was abundantly clear to me by the time I was going back to work (she was 3 months old when I went back part time, 4 months old when I went back full time).

But, I know that my situation is not the same as everyone else's situation. I'm told that some people's babies really do sleep all the time. Now that my oldest is in Kindergarten, I can also see how it would be possible to work from home with her present and actually produce some work.

So as a manager, I take each person's situation individually. Some people (and some jobs) are excellent candidates for working from home. There is one person who reports to me whom I rarely see in person, and she does incredible work and I would throw a tantrum worthy of my 3 year old if she ever tried to leave. I have other people who work remotely most of the time but come into the office for meetings one or two days per week. My own job, though? Nah, I have to be in the office for the gazillion meetings I attend every single day (why did I go into management again?) and to be available for the other employees I have who need face time with me. I could maybe swing a one day per week at home arrangement (and I would be super productive- I'm good at internal motivation) but the hassle of setting that up doesn't seem worth it, particularly since I need to pick my younger daughter up from a day care 5 minutes away from my office.

Therefore, I'm disappointed with Yahoo's new blanket policy. I think it is short-sighted and lets managers get away with being poor managers. I think that if some people were not performing as remote workers, their managers should have fixed that IMMEDIATELY. I know it sucks to call people out on this sort of thing, but that is why you are the manager. You have to do this stuff. Grow up and do it.

But- Yahoo's policy is hardly unique, even in the tech world, so I don't think it deserves the fuss it is getting. And there are plenty of tech companies with more enlightened policies, and they are using this as a recruiting opportunity. Etsy, for instance. (Which makes the third really impressive thing I've heard about Etsy recently. It is a shame my skills are in science informatics and not shopping informatics, or I would totally look at them as an employer.) The thing is, it is damned hard to find good tech talent and I think any of Yahoo's remote workers who are really good will be able to find a company that will let them continue with their remote arrangement. The ones who aren't good... well, they will either raise their game or suffer the consequences.


Next, about the treatment of both Mayer and Sandberg in these discussions, from a comment on Blue Milk's post:

I have been watching the treatment Sandberg’s been getting and thinking to myself: “And people wonder why Marissa Mayer refuses to call herself a feminist?” Neither Sandberg nor Mayer is a perfect person. But none of us are. Would any of our lives stand up to the scrutiny that these two women get? Personally, I find Sandberg much more inspirational than Mayer, but that does not mean Mayer deserves the treatment she is getting from people.

Take the furor over the recent Yahoo decision to require all their employees to work from the office- a lot of other companies, even in high tech, have similar policies. Google doesn’t have the policy, but has a culture that strongly encourages long hours in the office. Yet Mayer is the only CEO who is getting excoriated about it. I don’t agree with her move, because I think it is short-sighted and unlikely to solve the problem she is trying to solve. But so much of the discussion of it is so obviously sexist against Mayer that I have mostly tuned it out, even though productivity and changing our workplace cultures to promote a healthier work-life arrangement for everyone is something I am passionate about.

This is not to say that I don’t think there are fair criticisms to be leveled at Mayer, just that I think we are holding her to a standard we don’t hold male CEOs to. We won’t defeat sexism until we demand change from male leaders, not just female ones.

Similarly, there are fair criticisms to be leveled at Sandberg, but it is unfair to expect her to tackle all feminist concerns. No one can be an activist on all the problems we face at once. She admits that she is only addressing one part of the problem. Personally, I’m glad that she has made time and energy to work on the problems she does address. I am nowhere near as powerful as she is at work, and I don’t often have the energy after dealing with my own concerns to go out and advocate to fix the larger problems. In fact, I just wrote on my blog this week that the flak I get when I write about being a working mother even on my little blog has made me steer clear of the subject. I admire Sandberg for being willing to stand up to the judgement and criticism and keep speaking out.


Here are links to two articles that express my opinions better than I do:

Jessica Valenti on Sheryl Sandberg.

The Economist on how forcing Yahoos to the office is a symptom of Yahoo's problems, not the solution.


And here are my closing thoughts:

I am really, really, REALLY sick of people tearing into Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg on work-life issues, but giving Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and all the other male executives a free pass.

Should senior managers care about enabling their employees to have good work-life arrangements? Of course. Should they try to ensure that the ability to pursue a rewarding career and be a mother is something that is available to all women in their organizations? Definitely.  ALL senior managers should care about these things, not just the high profile female ones. ALL senior managers should be held accountable for this stuff, and not just because decent people should care about the impact of their actions on others, but because getting these things right is good for the bottom line. And yes, there is research that shows that, but no, I'm not going to take the time to go dig it up tonight (some of the research about productivity is linked to on this page, though).

Also... we should remember that some of the underlying problems may be best addressed in the public sector, not the private one. Issues with commute times, availability of high quality affordable child care, and school-work schedule mismatches are problems that could perhaps be solved more efficiently by trying to act through government, rather than leaving it up to individual companies to figure out. Not all companies have the resources of Facebook or Yahoo, after all.

So sure, let's discuss how best to arrange our work cultures to promote productivity. Let's discuss the fact that for many women, the idea of leaning in or out is laughable- they are running as hard as they can to keep from getting flattened in this economy and have no option to ease up. But let's stop laying these problems at the feet of two women and letting a host of men in similar positions off the hook. Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg have difficult, high pressure jobs, and single-handedly fixing the problems of all working parents is not in either of their job descriptions.

OK, I feel better now. Rant over. I can go to sleep.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Writing and Libraries Edition

You are all probably well aware of the fact that I have a children's book coming out next Tuesday, March 5. (Mark you calendars!)  So in honor of that, I thought I'd make this week's links all about books and writing and libraries.

First, via @CaleeL (who runs the company publishing my book), I offer you a nice post about what we can do to support the authors whose work we love. Even before I decided to try to get my "zebra story" published, I was interested in the changes happening in publishing, and how authors could find an audience- and a paycheck- in this changing landscape, so I like to think that I'd like that post even if I didn't have a book coming out next week.

I have, in fact, been trying to do more to spread the word about books and stories I like for awhile now. I've done two links posts with short eBooks, and I am trying to write more reviews on Amazon. I also finally joined GoodReads, and will probably write reviews there, too. I guess once I started thinking about the economics of being a writer, I realized how much that enterprise depends on volume!

Given all of this, when I came across this post at the Guardian looking for good Indie Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I decided I had to post my recommendations. I wasn't even deterred by the need to register on their site to post, which is what usually stops me from commenting on any mainstream media sites. I think you can find my comment on page 3. I recommended three short eBooks, two of which I've included in earlier links posts, and one that is on the list waiting for my next eBooks recommendation post.

I do not discriminate against independently-published books, particularly not short ones that don't require a large investment of time or money, but I am also not convinced that they are the future of publishing. I agree with a lot of the issues Chuck Wendig spells out in this post about how not every writer wants to be a publisher. Certainly, I had no desire to be a publisher once I thought about what that would actually entail.

There was a recent dust up about libraries and their impact on book sales. I won't link to the original article that started it all, because I never bothered to read it. I got enough of a flavor from the quotes in the reactions to it to make an educated guess that it wasn't something I wanted to spend time reading.

But there have been some really good responses. I like Paul McAuley's defense of the economics of libraries, and John Scalzi writes beautifully about the importance of libraries in his life

I have to admit that I am far from impartial on this front. My father is a retired librarian, so I may have even more fond memories of time in public libraries than most. I can still remember the thrill of discovering a new author- bonus points if that author had an entire series of books I could read! I remember when I first got interested in science, thanks to a series of books about the human body that I checked out from the library. And I remember when I was finally old enough to go out into the grown up section of the library to look for books to read there. One of the first grown up books I remember checking out was a book about modern epidemiological mysteries called The Medical Detectives (it may have been this one, but I'm not sure). I loved that book, and I was also inordinately proud of how thick it was- it was the thickest book I had read to date.

I think libraries are hugely important, and am sad that they are facing attacks from people who should know better in addition to declining budgets. However, like all institutions, they may have to look at new ideas to stay relevant. So I am intrigued by the idea of libraries as start-up incubators. (Also, it is nice to see some good news out of my home state!)

That's all my book and library links for now. Feel free to leave your thoughts and memories about libraries and/or your thoughts about the business of writing (or anything else, really) in the comments.

And here is a completely unrelated by truly awe-inspiring video to send you into the weekend in style:

(found via Boing Boing)