Sunday, December 28, 2008

Score de December


December seems to be the month to score inventory windfalls. . Last year it was the Jazzman, the year before it was The Bookman. December, 2008 ended with the Shady Doctor buy.

Shady Doctor was a psychiatrist who made a pile of money back in the1990s as a proponent of "Repressed Memory" syndrome. A Google search of the dearly departed showed he was most controversial, involved in a number of lawsuits and that his license was at times, questionable.

Shady Doctor apparently had a number of mental problems himself. He was anal to the extreme - every one of his hundreds of CDs was alphabetized, he had a 5 foot stack of binders with the warranty papers for every electrical appliance he ever bought and his shirts were arranged by color. He was a compulsive collector - multiple DVD players, VCRs, exercise equipment, camping equipment and enough Pfaltzgraff dinnerware to outfit a small department store.

His house was in a very sketchy part of town, one where even I felt compelled to lock my car doors. It once belonged to his mother and started out as a simple 5 room workman's cottage.
For reasons known only to him he left it entirely as is (and it needed a makeover)and built a sprawling garage and second story addition. Other than the library (which was a secret room) the addition was all white paint and grey linoleum. Very drab, very depressing.
The library was amazing- it had 2 secret entrances - one from the master closet and the other from the wet bar. The walls were lined with custom made library shelving and the shelves were filled with books. One side held his 30 year old medical books and 20 years worth of bound issues of Newsweek, the other side was full of Easton Press Books. Easton Press is one of the Holy Grails of bookselling. And these weren't just any Easton Press Books, these were all signed first edition Science Fiction Easton Press books.

The sale didn't attract many buyers with interest in custom leather books. Many of shoppers were neighbors who bought armloads of CDs & sports memorabilia but just rolled their eyes at the books. The book room was filled with very overweight young men, wearing backwards baseball caps & baggy pants and in need of a shave, accompanied by their girlfriends who wore very tight, very low cut pants that showed off their “muffin tops” and thongs all talking on their cell phones and trying to describe what they were seeing. In their words the room was full of “old books and other old s----“!

Science Fiction isn't my forte though I know it sells. I called a fellow bookseller, who prowled around on E-bay and we zeroed in on 17 books with potential. At $25 each I didn't want to buy any duds. Come Sunday everything would be 50% off so a return trip was in order.

Turned out that most of the Easton Press books were still there. I bought 10 and some audio books for Lou and left.

Upon delivery of the audio books Lou asked me 'Why didn't you make an offer for all of them?"

"Humm" I thought upon arriving home, "why not"?

I e-mailed the estate sale proprietor and offered to buy and haul away all the remaining Easton Press books at $10 per book. I estimated maybe 100 books were left. Wrong. There were 210 volumes and she accepted my offer.

Gulp. Very Big Gulp. Very, Very big Gulp.

Didn't think I could back out without incurring the wrath of the Estate Sale Dealer. Whose wrath I could not afford to incur - she's an important cog in my inventory strategy wheel. Oh well, I'll just pay the minimum on my Visa bill this month.

13 boxes later I was the giddy but scared owner of 250 Easton Press Books.

I think I've just advanced a step or two above my usual bookselling rank of bottom feeder.

They are all headed for E-bay. Stay tuned.












Monday, December 15, 2008

By Their Books Ye Shall Know Them...

I think a person's books can tell more about them than almost anything else in their household. Saturday I went to an estate sale in search of books to sell.
The ad promised "1000s of books". There wasn't even 1000 but there were a great many. I find that estate sale givers always overestimate the number of books.

The former owner was a life time member of Weight Watchers, a Methodist, a diabetic and had a superficial interest in architecture, decorating and drawing. She was very fond of anything published by Rodale Press (a notorious publisher of penny books) , dabbled in natural healing and did a bit of travel, all of it domestic. At one time she'd practiced law and officed out of her home. Given the number of "how to succeed as a solo lawyer" books she wasn't very successful.

She also spent more time at Half Price Books than I do, which meant the bulk of her books were worthless on the resale market. Oh well. I did find a few gems but some days are like that.
Even in Australia.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen




What does one write about for the Thanksgiving Thursday Thirteen but 13 Blessings? It may be a cliche but that's what Thanksgiving is, a holiday full of cliches.


1. My family. We may be quirky and our family reunions gather up the most eclectic group of individuals on the planet but we all respect each other's differences and get along.


2. My partner. 12 years and counting and she's as wonderful as she was when we first connected.


3. The Internet - it gave me my partner, my second job and it makes my first job every changing and ever interesting. Can't imagine life without it.


4. My job. In these uncertain times I feel blessed to have a job that is relatively safe. That I thoroughly enjoy it is an added bonus.


5. My two daughters. On their own with college degrees in hand. Supporting themselves at jobs that don't require them to say "and would you like fries with that?".


6. My new son-in-law. The wedding was delightful from start to finish. Every woman should have husband as sweet as Jason. She's in good hands.


7. Our new President. Finally someone I voted for won. The new feeling of hope in our country and the new interest of the young in politics is a refreshing change from the same old same old.


8. My On-Line book sellers group. I've learned so much from them and they have had such a positive impact on my book business (and its bottom line).


9. My fellow teachers. A few drive me round the bend at times but all in all you'd be hard pressed to find a harder working group of folks who do it for the kids.


10. My blogging class - Lordie those kids are fun! They keep me on their toes and the growth in their writing is joy to behold.


11. My kitties. They always greet us at the door with purrs and meows.


12. Electricity - Hurricane Ike reminded the entire city of Houston that Ben Franklin's birthday ought to be a national holiday.


13. My life. Other than an occasional ache and pain it's all good.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Does Parental Choice Become Neglect?


We have several students who NEED to be on medication. Badly. Not just your ordinary run of the mill ADD medication but serious drugs. The kids throw things, run away, defy all authority, refuse to learn and do their very best to ensure their peers can’t learn. They can’t control their behavior – they have severe emotional issues.

The parents can’t or won’t agree to medication. Some pay lip service to the idea and then they don’t fill the prescriptions, they let them lapse or they “forget” to administer them. They send the meds to school but don’t follow through on the weekends. The school nurse goes as far to driving to the pharmacy that accepts Medicaid to personally fill the scripts. Money can’t buy the service she provides.

One parent keeps talking about “that diet I read about on the Internet”. Only problem is, the gluten free, additive free , sugar free, diary free diets that are suggested as possible alternatives require great discipline, organization and vigilance on the part of the parents. The Texas food stamp allotment doesn’t stretch far enough to cover organic produce and hormone free beef and this is a parent who can’t manage to get their child to school on time..

Another parent wants to “home school” because the child never has any problems at home. Of course the child doesn’t – they get to do whatever they want to at home. Technically we can’t stop the parent – the home school laws in Texas are pretty loose. We try to squash the idea since the parent is a high school drop out with poor parenting skills. They are sober now, but a past substance abuse problem took a toll on their cognitive skills.

Yet another doesn’t want their child to carry the “special ed” label. She fears it will mark her for life. Once a school wants to apply it, she ups and moves and enrolls her in a new school without telling anyone about his prior problems. She knows it takes time for the records to arrive and the wheels of school administered testing grind very, very slowly. The child doesn’t have a special ed label yet, but she’s has a number of others - “holy terror”, “spoiled”, “better your class than mine” – none of them flattering.

These kids take up some 90% of their teachers, the nurse, the counselor and the Principals time, leaving the rest of the children to muddle along on their own. They keep their classrooms and the school in an uproar. Everyone walks on eggshells waiting for the next explosion. They aren’t learning and they aren’t happy – they have no friends and the other kids shun them.

So when is it parental choice and when is it neglect?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My next gig?

Who thinks up these things? And why are they so addictive?

Are You More Qualified than Sarah Palin?

You are 92% more qualified than Sarah Palin. You're no short-term political stunt, you're the real deal, the VP the American people deserve. I guess your phone was off the hook when John McCain was calling around looking for a running mate... must've been one of those pesky robo-calls.

Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

At least I'm not PigPen!



Which Peanuts Character Are You?

You are Schroeder. You are brilliant, ambitious, and brooding; you tackle tasks with extreme focus. People don't always interest you as much as other pursuits, though, so you can come off as aloof.

Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama supporters sing national anthem outside White House

Celebrating in the Streets

Part 1- Barack Obama Victory Speech Grant Park Chicago, IL

An Amazing Night

Joan Baez - We shall overcome

Can't get this song out of my head!


It's been a tumultuous couple of days. Days filled with smiles and hope, tears of joy and unabashed sappiness and patriotism. Last Tuesday night is a jumble of images.

Grant Park filled with thousands of people - young, old, black, white brown - a cross section of America cheering their new leader. It's the first time I can remember a President acknowledging his victory, not in a hotel ballroom where only a select few are invited to the party, but in a public park, open to anyone regardless of the thickness of their wallet. A speech that reiterated that in America anything is possible.


For me, though one of the most memorable pictures was that of the jubilant crowd storming The White House and dancing in streets outside the gates. I wonder if His Shrubness had a flashback to Marie Antoinette and mob who marched on Versailles? Nah, history was never his strongpoint. Nor was being President.
So many thoughts, so many songs...the old anthem of the Civil Rights Movement says it all..
We Shall Overcome


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pigs Might Actually Fly


The Houston Chronicle,, Houston's oh so very conservative, always go with the status quo and support "bizness" newspaper endorsed Obama.


This is huge folks. The Chronicle hasn't endorsed a Democrat since 1964. They really didn't have a choice that year - Lyndon Johnson was a Texan.


The fact that our hometown newspaper has turned its back on The Shrub's successor has me feeling cautiously optimistic about Tuesday's outcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blogging 101


Every since I discovered blogging (has it really been more than 4 years!) I've been wanting to teach a blogging class. I dabbled with it last Spring - it turned out to be more of a dress rehearsal and I'm trying again this school year.

Still tweaking it - I'll get it right one of these days. It's a work in progress but it's a delightful work in progress. Roughly 20 kids and I spend 2 hours once a week learning, writing, getting frustrated, being perplexed and giggling. They are learning, I'm learning and the results are really quite amazing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Turmoil After the Storm

It's been 3 + weeks (is it only 3 weeks???) and Houston is trying to get back to normal. That's Houston, it will take Galveston years to get back to normal.

Almost everyone in Houston has power again and the traffic lights work. The streets are piled head high with stacks of branches, tree trunks and assorted destroyed flora. It's depressing to say the least.

The folks who have been hard hardest are as always, "the little people". I'm one of the lucky ones, I Iwas off work for 7 days but still collected a paycheck. Some businesses were closed for as long as 2 weeks and many of them couldn't or didn't pay their employees. People who make minimum wage, the day laborers who stand on the street corner and the bus boys in the kitchen couldn't work and didn't get paid. Those folks, who live pay check to pay check are really, really hurting.

Texas is offering up extra food stamps but the food stamp allowance is paltry at best and it doesn't go far.

One of the apartment complexes in my school's attendance zone had the roof ripped off. I took one of the students home last week and suddenly found myself in an alternate universe. The tenants don't have money to rent a motel room or to move. Furniture was piled up under the "covered parking" and ruined possessions were piled around in heaps and stacks. The place still doesn't have power and the roof was made of blue FEMA tarps. Pieces of the ex roof littered the court yard. The complex has an absentee owner who, as long as he gets his rent money does not appear to be in any hurry to get the repairs up and going. Texas Laws favor the landlord totally. Amazingly the tenants must pay their rent, even though their apartments are barely livable.

That just seems downright wrong. This is American isn't it?

Is There Something in the Water?

We’ve always had some students who were “different”. But there were just a few. The past couple of years it’s been an explosion. Where are they coming from? I don’t think it’s because of better diagnosis – the kids we’ve enrolled are not “slightly disturbed” – they are very, very disturbed.

We students who take serious anti psychotic drugs, students who have violent rages & students who are schizophrenic. We have more and more children who are autistic. Some are diagnosed and some aren’t , but after a number of years in the profession any seasoned teacher can spot the “look” across a crowded room.

Perhaps it’s because I’m at a low SES school but I still find it amazing that a child can reach age 5 or 6 without a parent realizing something isn’t “quite right”. Maybe they don’t note the milestones in the baby book as obsessively as a helicopter parent does or perhaps they are just in deep, deep denial .

Once the paperwork process starts some fight it tooth and nail and others ignore all communication from the school and don’t show up at the STAT and ARD meetings. Papers sent home get lost and are never signed – and without those signatures the schools hands are tied.

Then the parent and child up and moves and the process starts all over again. And again and again and again. It’s not uncommon for a child to reach the 5th grade without a diagnosis. And you can’t start treatment without a diagnosis. That results in 6th graders who can’t read above a first grade level and have no social skills what so ever.

Who gets blamed for that ? Why the schools of course.

No, it’s not the fault of the school. I really do think there is something in the water.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ike Still (or Again)

School starts up next week and I've been working on an Ike FlipChart / Animoto. I know the kids will want to talk about their experiences so next week the library will be hurricane central. We'll pull out all our hurricane and weather disaster books and put them on display. The district has given us a work day to put things to right again and they kids will be back on Tuesday. I am quite sure there are many parents heaving great sighs of relief.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Signs of Normal Life


I finally got to mail packages today and I found an open Starbucks! Life is improving (even if we don’t have power).

My little local Heights PO has no power and they are selling stamps but only for cash. They aren’t accepting packages. So Lou and I went over to the River Oaks Post Office which has some power and they took them! They can’t take credit cards but they can transact business.

On the way home we found an open Starbucks. They only had hot coffee and drinks made with soy because there isn’t any fresh milk to be had – at least not in my part of town. A soy latte isn’t as good as a milk one, but hey I’ll take it.

We also saw that Hickory Hollow, one of our favorite barbecue places had set up a tent in their parking lot and was selling barbecue. You don’t need electricity to make good Texas barbecue! They had a line of happy looking customers.

Once I got home I took some ice, coke and water over to the Heights PO because the folks there looked they needed a random act of kindness. I also told them River Oaks was open so they could direct their customers. They were so thrilled that the normally grumpy supervisor gave me a spontaneous hug

Lou, who has electricity is going to do a load of my laundry in return for the use of my internet.

My new scanner still hasn’t arrived, but that’s OK, there won’t be any garage sales this weekend anyway

Life Goes On.

_._,__

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Report From Hurricane Central


To add insult to injury Mother Nature sent us a thunderstorm that would have been noteworthy under normal circumstances.

Interstate 10 is once again masquerading as the Grand Canal and our street (we live 10 blocks from 1-10) flooded. That’s only happened once before – during Allison. No water in the houses. We are on pier & beam and 5 feet above grade so should we have water in the house we'd expect to see Noah and his ark sailing down the street.
Picture compliments of KHOU TV

I am blowing kisses at My Beloved for getting us the honking big generator. Being married to someone who is a commercial construction manager is frequently a blessing.  Especially in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yikes! Ike"


All is OK at our house, other than no power – it went out at 3:45am. My Beloved, who believes in being more prepared than an entire troop of Boy Scouts, installed a honking big generator some months ago. Said honking big generator kicked in so we have some power .

We have fridge, microwave, ceiling fans and upstairs A/C. We also have the TV & the satellite dish – My Beloved does have her priorities! In fact, she Tivoed this morning’s golf tournaments and she’s watching them.

She forgot to include the internet but I took care of that problem. I have my priorities too!
I snaked an extension cord and have the router plugged back in so we have DSL. Some of the plugs in the house work and some don’t – it depends if they on the same circuit as the appliances that are working.

We have a gas stove and water heater so we can cook and clean. Actually we can’t clean to much because there is almost no water pressure. It comes out of the faucet in a tiny trickle. One of the city water plants has no power.


Ike was a BIG STORM. It came right up I-45 from Galveston and it’s an unwelcome guest who refuses to leave. It’s now 3pm and the skies are still filled with dark clouds. Our guest has been with us for more than 24 hours – that’s unheard of.

The storm started getting bad about 4pm and conditions got really dicey round midnight. The rain was horizontal and the wind blew it in under the doors. Our house shook when an especially fierce blast came round – gusts were up to 90 mph. . I was asleep and work up from dream where I was all alone on a raft in the ocean. We could see the transformers popping – they lit up the sky with an eerie glow..

No flooding in my neighborhood but the Bayous are out of their banks and I-10 looks like the Grand Canal. So we can’t go anywhere (not that we would).

Downtown looks like a war zone – we have many tall buildings with all glass facades and once a couple break the pieces start flying around like bullets and take out many more. The same thing happened during Hurricane Alicia 25 years prior. And of course, out of the open windows fly computers, papers and office supplies. 

Interstate 45 into Galveston Island is blocked by numerous yachts that broke loose from their moorings.  It is a surreal sight. 

The upcoming week should be, to say the least interesting

Once Again Trying to Reason


Squalls out on the gulf stream

Big storm's comin' soon
Well the wind is blowin' harder now
Fifty knots or thereabouts
There's white caps on the ocean
And I'm watchin' for waterspouts
It's time to close the shutters
It's time to go inside
From "Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season" c1974 by Jimmy Buffett

Folks were amazingly friendly as everyone scurried about getting ready for Hurricane Ike.
The clerks are the snarly Kroger smiled & customers were polite and patient. The gas stations ran out of gas on Thursday but the tanker trucks made it into town overnight. The early birds were able to fill up their tanks and again folks were cordial and cheerful while waiting in line.



Houston can be downright civilized when it has to be.
Photo by NOOA

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wikis R Us

I've been experimenting with Wikis. I've finally decided that I like the Peanut Butter Wiki better than Wet Paint. It has a more professional appearance. PBwiki is also having a contest. Competitive creature that I am - I love contests! Especially when the prize is a $250 Wiki bells and whistles package! Click on the link to find out more! http://pbwiki.com/?refwiki=housmanlibrary
I don't have a Library Web Page, which in this day in age is like having a library without any books. It's one of those annoying guilty nags - "all good librarians have a web page, why don't you , since you don't you are a librarian who is lacking". Now with PBWiki I'm slowly creating it.
Web pages I've discovered are like blogs, you have to start out very simple and grow it as you

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Third Day of School

We:
Checked out 516 books
I taught 7 classes with full a full blown ActivBoard Lessons

We had 4 classes in for Accelerated Reader
The Language Arts Specialist brought in 1 class of 5th graders & introduced blogging on the mobile laptops – we assisted.


I have:
2 hurting feet
2 aching knees
1 lost voice


3 days down, 186 left to go.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

AR & Animoto

I think I've discovered a monster!
Animotos are fun! And easy!
This one is getting attached to a flipchart I'm creating for my ActivBoard.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Animoto

We're supposed to write 4 blog posts about our Wednesday in-service experience. Here's my 4th. As usual, I don't think I followed the instructions exactly, but that is par for the course.

Either way, once I got home my Animoto behaved :

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady


And we have one in the family.
My Katherine married her Jason on August 9th. We couldn't ask for a more wonderful son-in-law. The wedding evening was an utter delight from beginning to end.
We're waiting with baited breath for the pictures. The photographer uploaded this slide show just to tease us.

WMV or bust

Photostory is fun, Audacity is fun.
Uploading them to one's blog isn't. Especially when one hasn't saved one's file as a wmv. Learning by doing R us. Stay tuned to find my photostory (as a wmv file) on my blog.
Don't hold your breath!
And remember it's wmv or bust!

The Mysterious Video

We've been charged to write 4 blog posts documenting today's adventures. It's now 9:30pm and I've l fixed dinner, tended to the kitties, listed 10 books, packed up 6 orders and deltt with my e-mails. One of our tasks was to send a video through Zamzar .

I put it through at work, it took forever to send it back to me and of course I couldn't get it to upload. So I'm doing it now, only for the life of me I can't remember the subject nor, why I choose it. Guess I'll let it be a surprise!

Oh yes, it's The Lilly's Plastic Purse video. Just a typical day in library land.

Round & Round & Round It Spins

My district has decided that we are leaping (unwillingly in the case of some) in the digital age. A bond program passed and beaucop bucks are to be allocated to the latest and greatest of the whizz bang gizmo's.

Shortly after the voters blessed this new initiative one approached our superintendent. Why, wondered the voter was his child having to do posters with crayons, glue and scissors? So the edict went out - "Do.Technology.Now. Or Else.

Our ever visionary Library Director greeted this news with a fist pump and an enthuastatic "Yes". This has been his mantra for the past couple years. We've educating the digital generation with pencils and paper and sending them into a workplace bristling with electronic toys.

We began with Library2Play, which morphed into Library2Play for the summer (and the first district inservice that one could do in one's jammies) which morphed into today's in-service more or less entitled "you better be able to do these or else".

So all the librarians gathered together to learn to "do these or else".

We had great fun, but once again the pipeline to Cyberspace had some contruction bottlenecks and roadblocks. . Many of us spent the bulk of our time watching assorted circles spin round and round and round as vain attempts were made to upload or download assorted pictures, videos and other bells and whistles.

We're supposed to post our results to our blog. Here's mine:




Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Hurricane that Wasn't


All of a sudden a tropic storm blew up in the Gulf and headed straight toward Texas – Galveston to be exact.

The local news media began to froth at the mouth with excitement. It’s been a quarter of a century since a Hurricane of note hit Houston -
Alicia came calling in 1983. Every newscaster knows Dan Rather got his big break in 1961, when he covered Hurricane Carla. It’s their dream to emulate him, but so far he’s the only one the winds have blown on to Super Stardom. Hurricane Rita didn’t count, while it did do major damage in East Texas, all it caused in Houston was massive traffic jams.

The 2008 version is
Hurricane Edouard, actually it had only a brief life as a Hurricane and spent most its time as a mere Tropical Storm. Last night it was heading for Houston, then as is the nature of these storms it shifted to the east, coming ashore in a not very populated area. It’s been a dry summer so the rain that always accompanies these storms was quickly absorbed.

That left the TV stations, all of whom opted for 24/7 local weather programming with a great deal of air time to fill and very little to say – or show. We were treated to shots of some puddles, a few downed tree limbs, one or two battered boats and a hurricane party or two.

On the air they of course, had to spout platitudes about how Houston and Galveston were spared the brunt of the storm, how lucky we were to remain unscathed and what a blessing it was that the rain was steady but not torrential.

You could tell by looking at their faces that inside they were thinking:

“Damm…we were all ready to throw a party and guest of honor neglected to appear”.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

How I got to Here


One of my book sellers list has a thread going about how we got to where we are....it's made for some interesting posts.

Once upon a time, when I was about 10 I found my first Betsy Tacy book in the library.
I read it, fell in love with the series and told myself that when I was all grown up and had a real job I would buy a set for my very own. By the time I grew up the books were out of print and I started collecting them at Friends of the Library sales and thrift stores. I started buying duplicate copies because I just couldn’t bear to see them consigned to the land fill. I just “knew” that someday I’d find a home for all of them where they would be loved.

Fast forward to about 1990 – e-mail and the Internet & E-bay are bubbling up in the public consciousness. . I found that I “wasn’t the only one” and joined the Betsy-Tacy Listsev. The books were still out of print and those of us who had extras sold them to others on list – not for profit, it was done in friendship. Some other woman on the list were selling on e-bay and it sounded like an interesting way to get rid of all SOME OF THE BOOKS IN MY HOUSE. So, in 2000 I started selling too- my girls were going to college and I needed more $$$ than I could earn on my day job.

E-bay lead to half.com which lead to Amazon. Somehow along the way I found Craig’s BookThink forum and through it I found my bookselling lists. Along the way I acquired ScoutPal, a scanner, a postage printer, a second computer, The Art of Books and the third bedroom now holds my inventory of 700+ books. I'm the owner of a small internet business.

And it’s all because I checked out Betsy & Tacy when I was 10 (or maybe 9!).

It’s so interesting how just one little event can have such an impact on our lives.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Haves and the Have Nots

Houston’s one and only Nordstrom is in the Galleria, which is Houston’s version of Rodeo Drive. Tisn’t a place I frequent on a regular basis.

My wedding outfit adventures have resulted in unprecedented number of trips there this summer. Yesterday I decided I’d take advantage of their A/C and do my 30 minutes of walking. Off I went and wandered into the wardrobe department for either
Sex in the City or The Devil Wears Prada.

Versace, Coach, Cartier, Jimmy Cho, Burberry, Fendi - a veritable smorgasbord of high end designer stores where everything, even a pair of socks costs at least two figures.

The people were as interesting as the stores. Slim, exotic, women in impossibly high heels, many from Mexico – which didn’t surprise me since I knew the Galleria is a destination place for wealthy Latinos. I was amazed at the number of devote Muslim woman who were carrying arm loads of shopping bags from all the best stores. Some stunning fashion is hidden under those veils and robes.


The Galleria also bears some resemblance to the Transatlantic Ocean Liners of Old – the higher you go, the nicer the stores. The higher you go the better dressed (and thinner) the shoppers. The upper level stores have access to the skylights and natural light. The ceilings are high and skating rink gives the place a feeling of openness.

Feeling thirsty I headed for the food court – which had a great deal in common with steerage. Not only is it located in the bowels of the Galleria – below ground, it’s also surrounded the low rent store district. There I found Radio Shack, Foot Locker and all the “ordinary” mall stores. There I also found the “ordinary” people. The polyester, the mullets, the frizzy perms, the blue eye shadow, the baseball caps, the evidence that obesity is rampant in America.

The haves and the have nots – all within the confines of one mall.

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Scanner - Never Leave Home Without It

We’re in Fort Worth for the weekend – My Beloved is playing in a golf tournament. My Book Selling Buddy is is coming up from Waco tomorrow and we’re going to go book scouting.

We came up todayon Friday so she could practice and we also wanted to see a new art exhibit at the Kimball Art Museum.

We were browsing in the gift shop and I came across a pile of sale books – some reduced as much as 75%.

Did I have my scanner with me? Nooooooooo!
I mean who takes a scanner to the art museum?????

I sorted out the 75% off books, eliminated the obvious duds (Dover press and such) and pulled out my trusty iPhone. Thank goodness I still have ScoutPal.

I found not one but copies of this: Michael Sweerts 1618-1664


I paid $12 for each of them. I have once again justified my ScoutPal subscription for another year.
And I will never, ever go to the art museum without my scanner again!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Guess I Don't Get It My Way

I realize I live in a diverse section of a very diverse city. When I wander into the local Taqueria I fully expect to ask for “Dos tacos con pollo y un tea frio, por favor”. The owners of my favorite Vietnamese dive are a bit shaky when it comes to English so I point to what I want. Actually, I got them to teach how to ask for a bowl of noodles and a Vietnamese iced coffee in Vietnamese.

But it really bothers me have to order “Dos hamberqueos solomante’ catsup y un Coca Cola pequeno” at Burger King.

Doesn’t “Having It My Way” mean I get to order my food in English?




Saturday, July 12, 2008

Houston, We Have a Dress!

The Fashionista & Nordstrom Came Through!
She suggested a couple of dresses available on Nordstrom On-line.
One proved to be a winner!
Major problem solved! Happy Dance!
Three Cheers for Nordstrom!

I took the dress to Nordstrom yesterday for alterations and shoes.




Oh the shoes!



Now that was an adventure. I do love me my Birkes but they just don’t go with a formal dress. High heels pinch a nerve on the sole of my feet and I topple over. The Fashionist and I looked at just about every shoe in the shoe department. I nixed the silver flip flops with rhinestones in the heels (to glitzy), she nixed the silver matte flats (to dowdy). We then spotted “Gentle Souls”. I have never, ever paid so much for a pair of shoes but they work. They go with the dress and I can actually walk in them.

The Fashionista strongly recommended that I wear them around the house to “break them in”.
Just like June Cleaver I’m keeping house in high heels.


All I need now are the pearls.











Friday, July 04, 2008

Coupons Save You $$$


Given state of grocery prices these days I've started using coupons again. I keep mine housed in plastic baseball card holders which are in a zippered 3 ring binder. I seem to be a master at never getting said binder into my car once I finish - so far I've misplaced 2 of them. They are constructed from binders I find at the thrift store so I'm never out much money but it is annoying none the less.

Monday I misplaced it again & some honest soul (there really are some left in this world) turned it in. I went to Kroger retrieve it. Half Price Books is right next door so of course I had to stop in.

On my Monday stop I trolled a fishing book that listed for $120. I paid $7 and much to my amazement it sold yesterday. Today a little voice told me to go check out the fishing books again.
To my great joy, I found not 1 but 2 more copies.

I knew coupons saved me money but didn't realize it could be this much money!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - My New Laptop


Thirteen Things I Love and Don't Love about My New Laptop

1. It’s pink! It’s confusing people because they don’t think of me as likeing pink. Little do they know I have a thing for flamingos. That’s Good.

2. I now have a working back up computer (my old one). That’s Good.

3. It has Vista. I like it. I thought I wouldn’t. So what was Bad is actually Good

4. It is blazing fast. That is very, very , very good.

5. It’s a Dell. Tech. Services is in India. That’s Bad.

6. Microsolf Outlook Home & Student 2007 Edition no longer comes with Outlook. That’s Bad.

7. I spent 2 hours talking to India trying to solve that particular problem. That’s Bad.

8. It was finally solved. That’s Good.

9. It took me threating to return the computer to be allowed to buy Outlook. That’s Bad.

10. It’s possible to transfer data from the old comptuer to the new one. That’s Good.

11. It requries a $40 Data Transfer Cable which isn’t mentioned in the ordering specs. That’s Bad.
12. Radio Shack sells them. That’s Good.

13. I’ve already sold enough books in July to recoup half the cost. That’s Very Good Indeed.


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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!




Saturday, June 28, 2008

Even the Fashionesta


Find a dress for my role as Mother of the Bride. .

The Bride’s Requirments:

Colors : red and ivory
Bride in a long dress, bridesmaids in short frocks
5pm Outdoor ceremony – in Miami Beach – in August
Indoor reception, sit down dinner



My Requirements:
Knee length skirt (did the mini skirt thing in my youth)
No spaghetti straps or low cut necks
No pale pastels, no sofa cover size flowers and no sequins or bugle beads
The Mother of the Bride really should not wear black. We are thrilled about the groom, black might send the wrong message


No more than 3 numbers to the left of the decimal point of the price

Prior to my arrival the Head Fashionesta at Nordstrom pulled 4 outfits.
I tried them all on. She rejected them all. . One thing I love about the Fashionestas at Nordstrom, they won’t sell you something just for the sake of their commissions.

We commenced to walk the store. Twice. From top to bottom. And bottom to top.


2 hours later: Big Sigh. Well, I’ll keep my eyes open, hopefully I’ll find something when the things come in for our big Anniversary Sale next month. "

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fleas for Fun & Profit


We had a mild winter, a short spring and then summer arrived with a vengeance. We are now experiencing 90 % humidity a 105 heat index and fleas. They appear to have an immunity to Advantage and FrontLine so it was time to lock up the cats and bring out the flea bombs.

Sunday morning appeared to be the optimum since My Beloved had a golf game. My Beloved is Fragile Flower, who is allergic to everything, including residual flea bomb scent.

I locked the cats on the upstairs balcony, turned off the Air Conditioner, sprung the bombs and fled the house. The plan was to hole up at
Waldo’s Coffee House and linger over a latte and their Whi-Fi.

On the way I spotted a garage sale sign (I don’t normally go garage sailing on Sundays). Of course I had to check it out. It was a bust but on the way back I passed another, newly opened sale.

It yielded 4 textbooks, 2 other books with decent prices and ranks, 3 vintage calculators (very ebayable) and a Melissa & Doug wooden floor puzzle.

$200 in book inventory + E-bay stock! Wish that fleas were always so profitable!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Love LA


A golfing connection won my beloved a weekend in LA (airfare and hotel accommodations for two). And very nice accommodations they are too – a suite in the Westin Bonaventure in downtown LA.

We were delighted with this little windfall since Daughter #1 lives here and we have yet to visit (plans were derailed by her sister’s engagement) . My Beloved had the added delight of playing Pacific golf and took off at O dark thirty for a course in Newport Beach.
Daughter #1 made plans for us to tour the Hollywood Cemetery. I have a fondness for graveyards.

Daughter #1 works for American Apparel as a web site designer – some people speak in tongues, she speaks in HTML code. Interesting place, American Apparel. Large, sprawling factory in the Warehouse District, gritty, scruffy and bursting with energy. They pride themselves their “Made in America” clothes and the fact they pay their workers above minimum wage (and provide benefits).

Perfect fit for Daughter #1 who has no tolerance for anything artificial or pretentious.
She can wear what she wants, the company has a social conscience and she has health insurance (the latter a great relief to her mother).

Daughter #1also shares a classic, Hollywood stucco duplex with 2 roommates. Funky, diverse neighborhood on the cusp of Little Ethiopia. Public transportation, shops within walking distance, sidewalks, small gardens and a sense of neighborhood.

It’s rather an odd feeling to realize one’s children are all grown up and making their way in the world in a successful manner. I rather like it!

Monday, May 26, 2008

What I've Been Doing

With a great shock I realized it's been over a month since I posted.
Here are some reasons why:
  1. Selling many books - which means packing said books
  2. End of school AR trips, parties and sleepover
  3. Being on the interview team for our new principal
  4. Kids being wild in the halls, which makes for tiring days
  5. Scouting for books to sell.
  6. The After School Blogging Class
  7. A rash of after school meetings
The 3 day Memorial Day Weekend seems to have semi rejuvinated me - and there are only 3.5 more days of school for the kids!

The TAKS Results are In


And We Are


Exemplary !!!!!!!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

13 Reasons Today Should of Been Saturday



1. Alarm didn't go off

2. Forgot to put coffee in the coffee pot last night. No matter how state of the art the programmable coffee pot is , it does need actual coffee in it to operate.

3. Stopped at Starbucks for the necessary caffeine fix. Put cup in cup holder. Turned a corner. Cup fell out of cup holder spilling the latte in the process. Will have to clean floor mats when I get home

4. My new pants are to tight. Must stop eating sweets. Schools are not a good place to diet.

5. I was convinced it was Friday. It's Thursday. Still have tomorrow to get through.

6. The 3 headed monster known as the TAKS test rears its ugly head next week


7. The cat tried to use the litter box and missed.

8. The washing machine has temperament. I suspect it will soon become an ex-washing machine.

9. The hot, muggy summer weather has arrived with a vengeance. I fear record highs are in our future.

10. The batteries to the library laptops are giving up the ghost. No funds to replace them.

11. Teachers are very, very tired and tempers are short.

12. It's about time for a new laptop but I've not heard anything good about Vista.

13. The kids are wild and woolly and so ready for school to be over. So are we.

On a positive note - there are only 24 more days of school!


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Sins Of The Father Afflict Unto The Several Generations

I've been at my school 16, going on 17 years now (I can hardly believe that myself). I'm now teaching the children of the children. It says a great deal about how early our kids become parents if in 16 years I'm already teaching the second generation.

Much of this second generation isn't stellar. I guess that's what happens when children give birth to children.

We have the child of gang member. Dad was gunned down in a home invasion robbery, Mom died in an auto accident that involved alcohol. The child has an aunt who is 2 years younger than he is, a young brother who is failing Pre-K and 3 other half siblings whom he never sees. The child is living with his grandparents, who are not exactly in the running for the parents (or the grandparents ) of the year award.

Also not in the running for the Grandparents of the Year Award are the grandparents of a pair of newly enrolled siblings. We remember their mother and uncle, both of which had numerous problems of the social, educational variety - many of which were either caused or exacerbated by their dysfunctional home life (with a large dose of drugs and alcohol tossed in) . The second generation has just as many problems. Multiple moves and multiple schools, academically low and probable autism. The paperwork for testing is in process but won't be completed by the time school is over. Whether they are still with us when school resumes in the fall is a total unknown.

And this fall the daughter of my daughter's best friend from elementary days enters kindergarten.
I'm feeling very old tonight.

Children shouldn't have children. There ought to be a law.

Friday, April 11, 2008

John McCain


I' ve never voted Republican and I certainly don't intend to start now but I do have some respect for John McCain. Seems he has a son in the military who is about to be deployed to Iraq.

At least McClain is willing to put his money where his mouth is, or rather his son where his war is.


Which is more than we can say for his son's Commander in Chief.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

They're Fat - and It's All Our Fault Too


Childhood obesity is all over the news now. Turns out it's all the fault of the schools - just as "moral breakdown", "lack of respect", "Kids can't read" and all of society's many other ills are also laid at the schoolhouse door.

Many of the kids where I work are overweight and more than a few are obese. We have children at risk for diabetes, children who can't walk a lap round gym with out huffing and puffing and children with beer bellies that rival those of middle age men. Many of our kids are poor, Hispanic and latchkey - all breeding grounds for obesity.

We feed the kids 10 meals a week - breakfast and lunch. The school lunch program bristles with rules about nutrition and what the kids are offered is low in sugar and fat and fairly healthy. 2% milk, fresh fruit, whole wheat bread, oven baked rather than fried chicken. It's not half bad.

That's offered - not eaten. The amount that hits the trash makes a taxpayer cry. They drink a swallow or two of milk, nibble at the meat and pretty much ignore the fruit. Many of the kids bring bags of chips from home which are eaten in lieu of their meal. The principal had to send a note home telling parents not to send sodas to school. Just try teaching a classroom of children who have dined on Coca Cola and Hot Cheetos for a mid-day meal.

Yesterday I encountered one of our "square children" in the staff lounge - one of her relatives works at school. Child was whining for potato chips from the snack machine and said chips were bought and eaten. Relation told me child is always whining for junk food. The day before the child asked for and ate a Happy Meal ( not the apple slices & juice version ), a candy bar and a doughnut. This was between the hours of 3pm and bedtime.

Our school nurse runs an health club and gives nutrition lessons. She offers parent classes on cooking. She counsels children and gives them suggestions about keeping a food dairy and making healthy choices. It breaks her heart when the child returns the diary the following week and the score shows Diary Queen 5 and green vegetable 1.

We feed them 10 meals a week - the other 11 meals are eaten at home - that's more than half. Yet it's all our fault the kids are fat.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

13 Reasons Kids Ought to Blog


. Kids gravitate to anything involving a computer
2. They can get comments and feedback which makes writing fun
3. They can share their writing with anyone in the world
4. The computer takes care of spelling and grammar so they can concentrate on the topic.
5. They can select their own topic (within reason!).
6. It improves their writing skills without them realizing it
7. They can add pictures, which makes the subject more interesting
8. It’s a lot easier to read than a hand written journal
9. They are writing with a purpose
10. It’s collaborative
11. It’s “real world learning” – that’s a current educational buzzword
12. Future job skills – so many companies have blogs these days
13. And most of all, because it’s fun!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!


The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Let's Mush All Our Patrons

This YouTube video, entitled The Haunted Librarian is compliments of The Loopy Librarian, one of the blogs I found while immersed in Library2Play.

Thanks to Library2Play I now know how to embed videos into my blog.




Today was the "Laptop Rollout" - the day when every teacher got their very own laptop. Being teachers some spent the day turning mountains into molehills.

By the end of the day I would have happily substituted some of them for hapless patron in this video.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Library2Play Thing #23 - THE END

Hey, this is my 500th Blog Post - somehow that seems fitting.

It's 10:55 and I'm on Thing #23. I don't have to pull an all-nighter after all. Which is good, I don't think I can recover from an all nighter quite as quickly as I could 30 years ago! I bet there are several sleepy librarians at the meeting tomorrow afternoon!

Let's see, I did the survey - hope the results made it up - the server appears to be on overload. I think I'm not the only last minute librarian out there.

Questions, gotta answer the questions.........

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
Loved GoogleReader, Library Thing would be number one with a bullet if I'd let it. I already knew about blogs so I can't say I discovered them here but I love em'. Web 2.0 award sites - so many tools and gizmos and gadgets. . Wikis are great and everyone I show them too agrees. Both my blog and my desktop have lots of new widgets.

How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
Made it easy - gave me lots of new tools to explore and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them and getting to know them in dept.

Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
How little I knew about Web 2.0 had to offer (yes Dr. B you get to say "I told you so!) and how very much I learned, despite having debuted a blog in 2004. .


What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Very overwhelming - lots of information to absorb. Of course, part of this is my own fault for doing half of the 23 things on the weekend before it was due. It's hard to squeeze it in during the regular work week.

If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
Yes, Yes, Yes!

How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
Learn to play with the Digital Natives.

Off to comment.........



Library2Play Thing # 21 PodCasts

I've been jumping and skipping around in Library2Play and I've left this one for last. It's deliberate.

I don't like podcasts. I am very much the visual and kinetic learner and can't keep my mind focused on a podcast long enough to absorb the information.



I'm a very fast reader and I can glean what I need in half the time it takes for me to master the skill orally. I do the bulk of my web surfing and on line learning sitting along side My Beloved while she watches TV (Sports R Us). Podcasts result in noise overload.

I adore Audio Books, as in books on CD but all my audio books are of books I've already read in print form. There is nothing better than an audio book to pass the time during a long car trip.

PhotoStory, on the other hand is a totally different story! Simple, fun and best of all EASY. I'm all for Easy, especially if it's something I'm thinking of doing with the G/T kids. They are going to adore this. Kids are such visual creatures. I'm also going to show this to our Science SIS - the kids can document their science projects next year and then import the pictures into Photostory.

Blogger is not being my friend tonight and refuses to upload my Photostory!
Will try again tomorrow. Because, as Scarlett says "Tomorrow is another day".


And tomorrow had will once again be another day...seems Blogger is still not my friend.
Once again channeling Scarlett......

Library2Play Thing # 12 Rollyo

Rollyo this is one slick discovery! I promptly created a "book prices" search engine. Now when I'm looking for comps I only need to type the title in once.

I've been more focused on personal use than school use this weekend - guess it's because I'm on Spring Break (which ends tomorrow - weep, weep).

Rollyo is made for school librarians and teachers. It's Google with limits or Yahoo with boundaries. Preselect the sites, create a Rollyo search engine and let the kids have at it.

Considering how poorly our students type and spell this will be a tremendous time saver.

Just as so many of the other Web 2.0 tools I've explored, Rollyo is very strong in political, news and celebrity searches. I had the option of adding an Angelina Jolie search to my home page. I should run a search - I might find out just who Anglina Jolie is!


I am amazed at how many tools have sprung up to tame the beast that is the World Wide Web.

Library2Play Thing #10 On Line Image Generators

I've always added graphics to my blog posts - I think they make a blog visually attractive and eye catching. However, I am by nature not an Image alterator. I hit google images, find an appropriate picture, D/L it, U/L and I'm done. When it goes to images I'm a " Wham, bamm, thank you ma'm" kind of girl.

I've been very good throughout this adventure but the end is almost here & I'm punchy so I couldn't resist!



My blogging kids are going to ADORE Cartoon Strip Generator. Best of all it doesn't require an e-mail address. I promise not to show them this cartoon! Whoo-Hoo it's only Sunday & I already have a lesson in place for my ASP group on Thursday!

I don' t think I'd better turn them loose with Custom Sign Generator - some of the sites look a bit risque. They will like Smiley Generator - much of the humor on that site appears to be aimed at 5th grader. .

Maybe these will take their mind off of "Scary videos" and "Funny videos". I can only hope.

Library2Play Thing #22 Nings



Oh My Goodness! I cruise on over to the Texas School Librarians Ning and who do I see staring back at me but my very favorite cataloger and award winning blogger!

I've read about Nings but they really must be seen to be understood. The Texas School Librarian Ning appears to be a mashup of youtube videos, a couple of wikis, assorted blogs, some forums, a few yahoo groups and LM_NET. It really is LM_NET with graphics and ads. I wonder if it's moderated as LM_NET is?

Of course I joined. Not that I need yet another Web distraction but I couldn't resist. I also found yet another blog to add to my google reader. Information overload, here I come!