Archive for March, 2008


One of the professional blogs I follow is The Resource Shelf maintained by Gary Price. He has a good eye on what’s new of librarian interest in the library and government world.

Yesterday he added this link from eLearn Magazine.

Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional

There are some good ideas here for keeping up in the field. Now, if I could only keep it to 10 minutes.

OK, so this doesn’t have much to do with reading – but this is good stuff I want to share.

The 6-Word Meme

Posted March 27, 2008 By Jandy

Lazygal tagged me on this. Can you describe your life in 6 words? It took me a while, but I finally came up with not one, but two that are similar in theme:

Busy with family, work, and reading


Just when I thought of resting…

Sardonic Girl? Wife and Mom?

Arthur C. Clarke

Posted March 18, 2008 By Jandy

Arthur C. Clarke died today – he was 90. He’s probably best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he wrote so many books and articles. He wrote actual science fiction – the stuff based on scientific possibilities. My favorite of his is probably Rendezvous with Rama, but I enjoyed almost all of his science fiction work that I’ve read.

If you like Spider Robinson‘s Callahan’s Saloon, Clarke did it earlier in Tales from the White Hart. Then there’s the chilling Childhood’s End, one of his earliest (his first?) novels. Fountains of Paradise is based on an idea he first posited, then later had proved, about putting a station at the Earth’s equator so it would appear be never move because it orbited at the same speed as the Earth spun. Yet he didn’t stop writing. I understand he recently finished and proofed a novel he co-wrote with Frederik Pohl, The Last Theorem. It’s supposed to come out later this year. I bet it sells well.

Thanks, Mr. Clarke.

Just In Time – Middlemarch is Finished

Posted March 18, 2008 By Jandy

Middlemarch by George EliotLast week I thought I had a week and a half to read 350 pages of this very dense book. No, the book club meeting is tonight, not next week. So as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading Middlemarch. I was able to finish it at lunch today.

The last third helps make up for the slowness of the first half. I still think Eliot is too preachy in the first half. In the second half she let the characters do more of the proselytizing than the overlooking narrator. That worked better. It was easier to see how self-centered Rosamund actually is – the early third person description didn’t work nearly as well as when her thoughts are revealed later when they are broke.

Of course the biggest issue (which still plagues mankind today and probably always will) is lack of communication. If Causabon had spoken to his wife rather than listened to his own internal pride, he would have known Dorothea only thought of Will as a friend at the time. If she had deeper feelings, they were so deeply buried even she didn’t recognize them. He had not acted on his feelings, either, except the occasional manufactured meetings. The communication lack is true of most of the relationships except Fred and Mary’s. She told him what she expected from him and he tried to live up to it.

There is a line near the end of the book that sums up my feelings about it exactly. Dorothea has learned Will loves her and is waiting around her home trying to keep busy.

“…she found herself reading sentences twice over with an intense consciousness of many things, but not of any one thing contained in the text.”

I couldn’t concentrate on and understand so much of what Eliot was saying despite reading sections two and three times. But it finally came together by the last third, which I appreciated reading.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Posted March 16, 2008 By Jandy

(OK, I know it’s really tomorrow, but my friends had their annual party today).

One lady in my book club and her husband throw a big St. Patrick’s party each year. It includes corned beef and cabbage, a band singing Celtic songs, and “home brew” which was not bad as far as beer goes. Over 100 people wandered in and out during the 3 hours or so I was there.

My friends are smart – they invite everyone on their street. The neighbors don’t complain about the parking, then, because they come too. People of all ages come, the youngest I saw only being a couple months old and the oldest – I don’t want to guess ages.

Of course us readers got together and started talking books and movies and poetry and Renaissance Faires and science fiction conventions and jewelry making and television shows cell phones and technology and… You know how those conversations ebb and flow and circle back on themselves.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth PetersThere’s one lady in my book club who I really respect. She was an English major while in college and takes apart a book and puts it back together so we see the ideas and structure as well as the story. I knew she liked fantasy novels. It was exciting today to discover how many books and authors we share. She told me how she even went to a Halloween party dressed as Amelia Peabody. She started reading science fiction when she was young and the Golden Age of Science Fiction writers were putting out all their work (Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, etc.). She remembers when Dune was first published and how it changed the science fiction world. (I didn’t discover it for another 10 years or so. I probably missed it because I was reading Georgette Heyer and romances at the time.)

I had so much fun this afternoon, then came home and immediately got onto the public library web site and reserved one of the many titles we discussed – although the title I chose was mentioned by someone else in our group.

Now I have to return to Middlemarch. I thought I had another week – our meeting is this Tuesday. I’ll be close…


Posted March 14, 2008 By Jandy

Lazygal and I have had discussions about book spoilers and when it is OK to finally reveal secrets within a book’s story line. I have run into the same issue when discussing movies or television shows in the past.

She found an article at New York Entertainment that spells out the statute of limitations for spoilers.

Mired in Middlemarch

Posted March 12, 2008 By Jandy

Honestly, I am still reading Middlemarch. I’m a little over halfway through. I only have a week and a half to finish 350 pages or so for our book club meeting, sigh. At 10 or 15 pages on a good day, I’m not going to make it.

I keep getting lost in Eliot’s wordy, confusing prose. I’ll read a couple paragraphs – even out loud – and still not know what she was trying to say or proselytize. I’m able to follow the characters’ actions and thoughts, for the most part, but get lost in the additional commentary. Even for a time when authors were paid by the word and there wasn’t any television or movies to distract, Middlemarch still seems to be overblown. So I keep taking breaks for other, modern, quick reads, then return to Middlemarch. Will I finish before our meeting? Doubtful, but sometimes I surprise myself…


Posted March 5, 2008 By Jandy

From LazyGal:

The Rules
1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3. Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4. Then invite 5 friends to do the same.


I’m seeing her in a rocking chair, with big spooky eyes and scabs on her head from banging it against the wall. If I listen close, I can hear her bawling.”

Claire sighed, folded her hands on her knees, and saw watching tenderly while he devoured the sandwich and carrot sticks.

“Last year when I wrecked the car,” she said, “we were climbing out of the ditch….I thought Wendy’d be scared to pieces, the way she’d bounced around when we skidded off the road. I mean, she smacked into the roof and the dash and all, landed upside down with her head on the floorboard, between the seat and the gearshift.


from The Angel Gang by Ken Kuhlken (the next book on Mt. Bookpile).

3/8/08 I finished The Angel Gang today – it was good.

Horseshoes in the 21st Century

Posted March 5, 2008 By Jandy

When I was young almost a half century ago, I used to have fun watching the “old men” play horseshoes at family reunions. Very few people in my generation played the game even after we grew up because it was connected with that older generation – the ones so many of us rebelled against. (I’m at the tag end of the teens that didn’t trust anyone over 30 – and if you don’t know what that means, you’re too young to care.)

Tonight when I came home, the teens next door were playing a new game they call Washers. It’s horseshoes with a twist – sort of combined with skee ball. Instead of aiming at a post, they have a board with three holes in it worth 1, 3 or 5 points. They stand back a distance and throw large (6″ or so) washers at the board. For each washer they get in a hole, they earn points. The first one to 21 wins. It looks and sounds like horseshoes. In fact, they even described the game as being “like horseshoes”.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, there isn’t anything new under the sun. It was fun to watch all over again.

Death of a Gentle Lady by M.C. Beaton

Posted March 2, 2008 By Jandy

Yesterday I spent a lot of my day waiting places, including at the tire shop. $300 later it’s safe for me to drive again.

I used the waiting time reading the latest book in the Hamish Macbeth series, Death of a Gentle Lady. I liked the twist at the end of this mystery. There’s the usual cast of characters. Hamish isn’t good at personal relationships, so it has the amusing qualities when he attempts avoiding or meeting them. While waiting at the hairdresser’s, I tickled one of the employees by chuckling out loud at the book. I had to laugh at this observation by Hamish:

“He searched the road, then went down and searched along the river. He had recently seen a detective series on television where the detective had found a book of matches with the name of a sinister nightclub. The only things he found were two rusty tin cans.”