Archive for March, 2009

Follow Ups

Posted March 29, 2009 By Jandy

Last night my family decided to have a Wii Mario Cart competition. That meant we didn’t watch Twilight until tonight. I didn’t love it or hate it. I thought they did an excellent job of staying with the book. Otherwise, it was OK. Edward’s day to day makeup was a little over the top – perhaps his lips should have been paler? And while Rosalie’s and Esme’s characters both were fitting, the rest of the Cullens didn’t match my Let Me Go by Helga Schneiderperceptions. (I also still think Alexis Bledel would have made a better Bella, but I’m not the casting director.)

I’m one of those wishy-washy people when it comes to this movie. It’s OK and while I’m not going to rush to see it again, I wouldn’t mind if it came on. I have decided I don’t want to reread Twilight. Instead, I want to reread New Moon.

I also have a follow up on my post about the book Let Me Go. I started reading Apocalypse Watch by Robert Ludlum today. I mention in my post about how Americans think of Hitler’s regime. The quote in the beginning of the book by David Ansen (Newsweek, December 20, 1993) confirms the beliefs I always hear:

To any sane person there has always been an unfathomable mystery about the systematic evil the Nazi regime perpetrated. Like a moral black hole, it seems to defy the laws of nature while being part of that nature.”


Posted March 29, 2009 By Jandy

After finishing Steve Yarbrough’s The Oxygen Man, I started thinking about the sense of entitlement. We had discussed this in my book club a couple weeks ago when we were talking about The Great Gatsby.

In Gatsby, Tom and Daisy exhibit their sense of entitlement throughout the book. When we first meet them they are lazing about doing little. Their daughter is an ornament for them and little else. They see all the environment of their lives as their right and due and for them to use. At the end, when Nick accuses Tom of pointing Wilson to Gatsby as cause of the car accident, Tom asked what else could he do? He had no remorse over the consequences of that action.

In The Oxygen Man, the main character Ned Rose works as Mack Bell’s right hand man at a catfish farm in Mississippi. They have known each other since high school. Ned’s family is the picture of poor white trash. Mack’s family is one of the rich farm owners of the area.

At first Mack’s sense of entitlement is not obvious. But as the book continues and goes between the current time (1996) and the high school period (1972) it starts to show. Because of their circumstances, Ned allowed Mack to have that entitlement without being aware he did so. Ned’s anger explodes in high school with consequences that will affect the rest of his life. This gives Mack yet another hold on Ned. And again, Ned allows and even helps facilitate that sense.

How much of it was because of their families and how they were raised? Everyone knew what type of parents Ned and his sister had. While Mack’s parents were financially strapped due to droughts and flooding, they were still rich landowners and respected because of it. Then Mack inherited the farm rather than working for it – another prop to enforce his sense of entitlement.

Since I’ve never moved in the type of social levels that encourage that sense of entitlement, it’s troubling for me to see it. I know it happens, but it certainly isn’t right. We can and should appreciate our finances and lifestyle – but not at the cost of others. Both these novels highlight that fact.

Twilight – the Movie

Posted March 28, 2009 By Jandy

Twilight by Stepehenie MeyerLast year I discovered Twilight by Stephenie Meyer before I learned it was the beginning of “the set” of young adult fantasy novels to read currently (post Harry Potter?). Then the movie came out last fall, If there’s anyone in that age reading group in the United States who had missed it before, that person certainly now knows about Twilight, Bella, and Edward. The movie came out on DVD this week.

My younger daughter saw the film three or four times in the theater. She had the DVD preorderd as soon as possible. It arrived Monday and I’m fairly sure she sat down and watched it that night.

I never did make it to the theater to see it. But it arrived from NetFlix today. I’ll be watching it tonight. I think the books are great and know the movie can’t match up. But, presumably, they’ve done a good job with it. (Otherwise my daughter wouldn’t have seen it so many times in the theater.) I’ll probably want to re-read it afterwards, too.

The Reading Room

Posted March 26, 2009 By Jandy

I want this library pictured in the header at The Reading Room blog. The blog is maintained by The Librarian (Ian Hall) and is a place of a reader’s refuge. A lot of his book reviews appear to be more high brow than mine but there are some good suggestions there. I also like his description of his virtual escape.

“A calm, peaceful corner of the virtual world inhabited only by The Librarian, his assistant and those who care to visit him.”

I’d really like that library, though I wouldn’t want to have to shelve or catalog it…

No Surprise

Posted March 24, 2009 By Jandy

LazyGal directed me to this. I pretty much knew the results before I answered any of the questions.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You’re probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people’s grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Moving Medical Books

Posted March 22, 2009 By Jandy

For the last few years MPOW (my place of work) has had more people than space. About three years ago more space on a different floor was added, but it wasn’t enough. Last autumn they started looking for a new, larger space. We move in next weekend.

The majority of our medical library materials is online. I still have a few hundred books and 1000+ journals to pack up and move. When choosing a moving company, the PTB (powers that be) thought about office needs and forgot to take into account the needs of moving books. Medical tomes are not light. If I pack the provided boxes to their space capacity, the bottom will fall out. If I fill them to their weight capacity, the books rattle around in the boxes. Plus I’ll need at least twice as many. I have learned that I can put empty journal holder boxes and bookends at the end of the packed books to keep them from rattling around. There is still space between the top of the books and the top of the boxes, so if they’re not moved upright, they could still bounce around.

I am packing the materials in order by their catalog number. I am having visions of arriving in my new library in a week to piles of unsorted books that fell out of the boxes. And worse, to the loose journals that won’t survive the orderly move, either. I really hope I’m being overly pessimistic and cynical. But…

As much as I enjoy my small corporate library position, this is one of those times I could wish to work in a larger library. While they would have a lot more books to pack, they have aides who could do all this packing and unpacking. I just hope the employees who need my services the next couple weeks remember how crazy things are going to be.

A week and a half later I’ll leave for vacation with great relief.

“The Sun Must Be Over the Yardarm…”

Posted March 15, 2009 By Jandy

Right now I’m reading the sixth novel in Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobbs series. I have been impressed with these books. Although one or two aren’t as strong as the others, Winspear maintains the feeling and atmosphere of England in the early 1930’s in these detective stories. I get pulled into these books and can sympathize with the happenings.

Among the Mad by Jacqueline WinspearAlthough it’s more than ten years since the Great War ended, its effects still linger. They will for many years to come – probably until overshadowed by the next worldwide conflict within the next 8 or 9 years. Each of these novels deal with some social leftovers from the war in its long range effects.

Among the Mad concentrates on the care of the shell shocked and the depressed. Winspear twines in the case that Maisie has been hired for with the wife of her assistant Billy Beale. Doreen is sinking into deep melancholia after the death of her young daughter less than a year earlier. Maisie is investigating the threats of a man who also appears to be depressed and has slipped over into mad. This man is threatening the people in London, specifically those in the government. He wants the soldiers from the war to be treated better, to receive pensions that provide a living wage, and to receive the respect they deserve. He otherwise will kill unspecified targets. He is using chemical warfare to achieve his ends.

I’m impressed each time I read one of these how Winspear sets these books 75 years ago yet makes them still current. She reminds us there there’s “nothing new under the sun”.

Another example of how she does it? Maisie’s friend Priscilla is fighting depression with more and more alcohol. Priscilla would easily comment “the sun must be over the yardarm somewhere in the Empire.” Hmmmm, now we say “it’s always 5:00 somewhere”.

Six Things Meme…

Posted March 10, 2009 By Jandy

From Lazy Gal – Six Things That Make Me Happy meme:

1. Hugs from my granddaughters – and daughters
2. Vacation with my family
3. Curling up with a good book and a cat on my lap
4. Finding just the right information when doing a search at work
5. Book club meetings
6. Scrapbooking family and vacation memories

I’m supposed to tag 6 people – but Lazy tagged some of the ones I would have. So I’ll add two –

1. Sardonic Girl (I know you hate these!)
2. Wife, Mom, and Sister (you tend to like these)

What If Your Mother Was a Nazi Soldier?

Posted March 10, 2009 By Jandy

The slim book I read this weekend by Helga Schneider is a true story about a woman whose mother left her when she was four to be an SS soldier. Let Me Go tells of the second meeting she had with her mother after being abandoned so many years earlier. It was in Vienna in 1998 and her mother was almost 90.

Let Me Go by Helga SchneiderThis book is narrated in the first person by Helga Schneider. Her mother is still proud of having been an SS soldier. She worked at Birkenau where a psychotic doctor ran all sorts of abominable tests on the prisoners. She admits during this meeting that she helped prepare many of the people for the “tests”. She also worked in Auschwitz and talked callously about killing people in the gas chambers.

Since I’ve always lived in the United States, I was surprised to know that there are/were people who remained loyal to Hitler’s cause so many years after the war. In our country his regime is seen as inhumane and despicable. Helga could not understand her mother, either. But her mother had friends in Vienna who accepted her and her beliefs, so now I have to believe there are others as well.

Helga tries to understand her mother but can’t. How could this woman abandon her two small children? She never tried to contact them either during the war or all those years after. Helga has had to learn to live not only with her mother’s defection and the abuse from her stepmother, but with the fact that her mother preferred the “Aryan Way” and its evil over her.

Let Me Go doesn’t resolve anything. It’s a brief moment that allows Helga to realize her mother will not cure the demons she left to her children. But Helga is able to find a semblance of peace herself.

Visiting the Gold Library

Posted March 8, 2009 By Jandy

On Friday I attended a technology symposium sponsored by the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona (MLGSCA). It was held in the Cerritos Public Library southwest of Los Angeles. The building opened up 7 years ago. It’s phenomenal.

I’m not kidding about the “gold” building. The upper portion of the outside is painted a gold color that shines in the son like a worn gold surface. The inside is 3 stories of wonder. We had a guided tour by one of the librarians.

The children’s room includes a sky scape in the middle of the room, a star scape in the rest, a banyon tree complete with jungle bird sounds, a light house, books, an art and crafts room where they also hold birthday parties, and other benches, nooks, sculptures, etc. The entrance looks like a group of books tumbled on each other.

Different aspects of the library have different decor. It was styled with different architectural designs throughout the centuries from heavy wooden “old European” feel to a early American “prairie” feel to art deco to futuristic depending on where you wander. There are books galore, of course, but much more.

There are over 150 public computers available, most hooked to the internet but some hooked into the library databases for research. The third floor has meeting rooms and a tech room for classes and sessions for computer training. They have RFID self checkout and staff for the personal touch at checkout. They have a graphic designer to help with signage, posters, advertising, etc. The art work includes very old to very modern, including a wonderful “21st Century” sign done with lights.

The Cerritos Library is a dream. I don’t want to be a public librarian, thank you. But a job there could make me reconsider that option…

Duh! Headlines

Posted March 3, 2009 By Jandy

As a medical librarian, one of my jobs is to scan the medical headlines in case there’s something my researchers can use. I probably scan 75 or more headlines a day from 3 or 4 RSS feeds. Often I see headlines that I think “no kidding!” in a sarcastic tone. Today I found one of those. I’m wondering who spent the time and money to do the research. I didn’t read the article, just the headline and teaser line.

Teaching Tots to Swim Prevents Drownings

BETHESDA, Md. (MedPage Today) — Formal swimming lessons for toddlers cuts the risk of death from drowning, researchers here found.

You know, I bet I could have figured that one out on my own.

Answer to My Request

Posted March 2, 2009 By Jandy

If you check the comments on the post before this one, there were numerous suggestions, including that we may have to create our own database (which I would be amenable to over the summer…). Aravis gave the best suggestion, though.

Check out AllReaders. Its database gives many different ways to search, including by Setting. Since I was specifically checking for European books around my vacation, I was able to choose Europe as a setting, then a country within Europe.

Aravis mentioned that I might like the site and possibly get “lost” there. Over an hour later, I concluded she was right. I could/did get “lost” in the site. You can search by author or title (of course), as well as plot, setting, or character.

Thanks for all the input, friends. If you haven’t found it yet, check out:

(Thanks for the library suggestion. I’d already tried it and it wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t accepting countries as subject except as a nonfiction subject like for travel books. That wasn’t what I wanted.)