Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sometimes I Hate It...

When I'm right...

We'd had an easy to use, generic log on for years in our district.  It was simple enough for 5 years to remember and neatly solved the problem that Windows requires log ons.  Of course the high schoolers abused it and took advantage of the fact that it made the user "anonymous"  to  scatter inappropriate comments the width and breathe of cyberspace.  

So the old log on was abolished and in its place came a complicated 8 letter / 3 numbers combination.   I'm not sure who piloted it - I suspect it was a combination of high school students and the tech departments own uber tech savvy children.  It certainly wasn't piloted on monolingual Spanish speaking 5 year olds, even though we have many within the district.

Worst of all, it was to go into effect on the first first minute of the very first day of school.  No lead in time, no teaching time, no getting used to things time allowed.

Needless to say, this announcement resulted in great angst among the librarians since we're usually the ones who get to carry out the Tech departments proclamations (not that they ever ask for our input ).  We have great many new librarians who, unlike me who has been at it since dinosaurs roamed the earth, are very SERIOUS about their job. 

So I wrote the following e-mail:

I realize I share much of Alfred E. Newman’s” What Me Worry” philosophy but I’m really not stressing about this right now.
I’ve been here  too long & have  seen too much and I already can foresee the scenario.

1.       It will start out as an unmitigated disaster
2.       Total chaos will ensue
3.       Tech Services will realize they messed up and back pedal furiously
4.       Plan B will be announced
5.       Plan B will be tweaked
6.       Plan C will be announced
7.       Plan C will be scrapped
8.       Plan D will be created using the best of plans A, B, C & D.

So, we can put in hours of time and mental stress worrying about dealing with Plan A but chances are it will all be for naught.
Me, I’m just going to roll with the punches, expect the worst and not be disappointed.

Last week, just I predicted we suddenly  found ourselves at Step 5.  Tech Services finally agreed that 5 year olds, who aren't sure of their last name and who can't type couldn't be expected to perfectly execute  a complicated log on.  So we have a new and simpler log on.  That doesn't work on the ibooks, all of which now must be re-imaged. 

I can't wait to see Plan C.  And sometimes I really hate it when I'm right. 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The School Year is Not off to an Auspicious Start

1.  Our fearless Library Leader retired.   A replacement has been promised but so far he/ she  isn't forthcoming. So we are rudder-less.  Whoever takes the position has some big shoes (or rather cowboy boots) to fill.       
2.  The library air conditioner was wonky for the first two weeks and kept cutting off at 12:30.  No matter that school wasn't over till 2:30.  And the temps were 98+

3.  Tech Services ditched the sorta easy for kids to remember log ins and instituted an 8 letter 3 number log on, coupled with 6 digit password.  In their infinite wisdom they didn't test drive this on 5 year olds. Nope, the librarians get that pleasure.

4.  The electricity went out for an hour yesterday.  During lunch time.

5.  The district introduced a new electronic grade book/ attendance program.  It doesn't play well with others, especially the library patron and Accelerated Reader databases.   

6.  My Beloved has been sick with assorted malaises since May.  No end in sight. She is very tired of not being herself and of being sick.   That makes two of us.

7.  Mercury is retrograde

8.  I'm catching a cold.  Achoo! 

9.  A fast moving tropical storm gifted us with a deluge - at dismissal time.

10.  The wireless network keeps going in and out.  Did I mention EVERYTHING in our district is done on line?

11.  Every professional had to spent several hours "immersed" in an on line class on "grading & homework guidelines".  Even those of us who never, ever give grades.  Or homework. 

12.  Last year's second graders did not, as we all hoped mature over the summer. They are as immature as they ever were.  Due to several convoluted reasons many had a sub par first  grade experience.  We will  all pay the price till they graduate. 

13.  We are most likely going to have to pack up the entire school and move to temporary quarters for 18 months while the old school is torn down and a new school built.  Dates are still being written in very shifting sand.

On the plus side, a new 5th grader told me he'd never before enjoyed coming to the library.  And tonight is Project Runway and tomorrow is Friday! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Other Duties as Required Redux

When I tell folks I'm a librarian I'm often told how nice it must be to "sit around and read" all day. I rarely sit and while I do read, it's usually to groups of children and it's most always children's books.

My job is  never boring and some of the most interesting bits fall under "Other Duties as Required". These duties have included everything from serving coffee to walking a pit bull.  Just when I think I've done it all, yet another new adventure pops up.

This week's "other duties as required" included Dumpster Diving. 
We'd received 10 Activ Wands for our Promethean Activ Boards and I'd cataloged them and set them aside so the teachers could come and pick them up.

They were in a box, along with the packing boxes behind the circulation desk.  We arrived the next day and they were gone. Most baffling since the custodial staff never touch what's piled behind the desk unless it has a sign saying "Basura" taped to it.  All the laptops were in their places so we didn't think they were stolen - why would a thief take those and leave the iBooks? 

My assistant, who speaks Spanish called the custodian who told her that the computer tech guy told her they were "trash" and to throw them out.   Still haven't figured out why he came to that conclusion.  Computer guy is sometimes a few fries short of a Happy Meal. 

Slight heart failure - they cost $60 each and were certainly not trash.  

Off the dumpster we trekked.  Lucky for us it's the beginning of the school year & it hadn't rained in some time..  While it was piled full, it was all clean paper and cardboard.  The dumpster on the last day of school is full of sticky party food debris - not to mention animals attracted by sticky party food.

I was the one wearing tennis shoes so I climbed in and started routing around - and there under piles of paper were our boxes, the installation CDs and the wands.  Deep breath and great cheer.

Out I clamored and back to the library we went,, wands in hand.  And no, we never told the teachers where those wands spent the night. 

And I got to add yet another duty to "Other Duties as Required".  Perhaps Dumpster Diving needs to be offered as a library school elective? 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First You Have to Kiss Some Frogs.....

The toys and games I unearthed at The House O' Stuff are selling briskly.  Someone just paid  $249 for a Disney / Mickey Mouse Roller Coaster set.  I keep wondering just where this recession is that folks keep talking about.

Speaking of talking about, people often comment on how "lucky" I am to come across all this junk that I turn into treasure and manage to resell at a profit.

I always hear "I never find anything at thrift shops"

Me: "How often do  you shop at one?"

Answer:  "It's been 3 or 4 months". 

Me " I troll the thrift shops 3 or 4 times a week". 

There is some luck involved - maybe 10% but the rest is just plain hard work. 
When it came to The House O' Stuff, the 10% was living in the same city as the toy hoarder.
The 90% was hard work was: 

  • ·        Going to every estate sale I could and getting my name on the-mail lists
  • ·        Scouring their e-mails and pictures looking for a likely candidates.
  • ·         Attending a great many Frog estate sales
  • ·         Making nice to the estate sale dealers so that they will make nice to me. Th
  • ·         In regards to the House O’ Stuff making the time to park my carcass in line for an hour and an hour a half the day before so that I’d get in the door in the first group
  • ·         Showing up on time the day of the sale (believe it or not, some folks were late and lost their hard won place on the list)
  • ·         Spending at least 3 hours at the sale for 2 consecutive Saturdays in a row
  • ·         Busting my backside to get all the STUFF listed, packed, photographed etc. so that it would sell.  Doesn’t matter how much it is worth – I’m not going to make any money if it’s stacked on the pool table!
Everything was either at Amazon or E-bay ready within a week of purchase.
So, yes there is some luck involved but there is a great deal of very hard work as well. 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Folks...It's Time to Start Your Smartboards

It's the last night of summer vacation.  
In preparation of getting back on the hamster wheel I have:

  • Clipped & filed coupons
  • Put away the laundry
  • Packed up the Saturday garage sale finds for FBA
  • Written as many E-bay auctions as possible and listed some of the Legos
  • Paid bills
  • Fiddled with my money on
  • Hauled stuff out to my car
  • Made my AM Smoothie so I can grab it and go
  • Pulled some CDs for my listening pleasure (no kids yet)
  • Emptied the dishwasher
.....and last of all  laid out an all black outfit to wear tomorrow....... It's 98 degrees outside but              
      Summer is officially OVER

Friday, August 06, 2010

Return to The House O' Stuff

There was so much stuff in The House O' Stuff that the estate sale dealer opened the place up for another weekend sale.  The ad gleefully burbled  that they'd found 3 hidden rooms and the pictures showed another toy store's worth of toys including Legos.

I learned last week (as folks tried to buy them as I stood in line to pay for them) that Legos are well worth buying.  Once again the dealer (Heaven bless her) used a sign up sheet with strictly enforced sign up times.

Said list was slated to make its first appearance at 5pm the Friday with the sale opening at 8am on Saturday.   At 3:30 my lawn chair, my Kindle & I joined the line where a quick count showed I was number 9.  Whoo Hoo!   I'd be the first group in the door.

I showed up at 7:45 the following morning to find a line of over 100 people and quickly slipped into my spot.  At exactly 8am, not 7:50 and not 8:01 they started calling out names. Once inside I scurried up the stairs looking for Legos.  Luckily for me everyone else was looking for Star Wars and luckily for them Star Wars are not my forte. We co-existed beautifully.  I struck gold, or rather Legos in the second room and quickly assembled  a stack higher than my head.  Sets in sealed boxes, sets in open boxes, boxes of mixed sets  - it was all there.

The dealer cleverly stationed minions (easily identifiable by their red shirts) in each room.  Their job was to keep the peace and carry your purchases downstairs and put them on the sold tables. Very wise strategy since not only did it keep the buyers in house where they were guaranteed to buy still more stuff, it also kept the pilfering at a minimum.  2 minions proceeded to carry out my selections while I stood guard over the rapidly diminishing pile.

Once the Legos were safely stowed I set my sights on the games.  There were stacks everywhere and I quickly gave up trying to research them and grabbed titles that had "sell appeal".  I gathered up all Space and strategy games in sight and also found some Puzz 3D puzzles.  Every time the stack outgrew my arms a minon appeared and carried my purchases downstairs.

I took a final pass around one of the rooms and idly opened an amoire which chock full of  untouched videos and DVDs.  The advent of DVD made most of the videos worthless (lots of musicals, because the former owner was a Queen) but there were still a few cult gems hidden among the songs and dances.

By some odd coincidence I'd also worn a red shirt and that, coupled with my scanner convinced many of the buyers that I too was a minon.  As the morning wore on I started getting queries.

Buyer "Where are the Legos ?"
Me "Sorry they are already sold."
Buyer: "Did you see any manual typewriters?"
Me  : "No, but if I do I'll come find you."
Buyer: Where are the kaleidoscopes?"
Me : "In the room over there"

Buyer:  "Which room has the Stars Wars toys?"
Me: "The room around the corner."
Buyer:  Are you sure there aren't any more Legos?"
Me :"I don't think so"

Buyer:  "But the pictures showed Legos!"
Me:  "Yes, but they went first thing this morning".  
I just didn't tell them who took them "first thing this morning!".

After 3 hours my eyes and sinuses called calf rope so I went downstairs to survey my pile.  It was a very LARGE pile.  So large they'd run tape around it to keep it intact.  The dealer took a look at it, rolled her eyes and said $300.

Sold!  I paid and commenced to loading it into my car.  By this time the line extended around the block and the folks waiting looked on hungrily as I crammed boxes of games, Legos and puzzles into my Cube. Much to every one's amazement it all fit.

I then spent the rest of the week sorting, pricing and packing the  spoils.  I found out that The Dear Departed shopped garage sales and thrift stores - I recognized the red grease pencil that Family Thrift uses to price their items. Odd things came out from under the Lego boxes including  some Lincoln Logs and a framed print.  Pictures of the house had made their way onto the Internet and I discovered that some folks on my thrift list knew about the house and were most curious that I'd gotten inside.

The Dear Departed was a hoarder of stuff. Games, toys, books, records, music, cell phones, videos, you name it, he had in duplicate and triplicate and God knows how many icate.  It was actually rather sad to think of him, living alone with all his toys, shuffling his way among the paths
he'd made among the boxes.  The estate sale had so much stuff but nothing to indicate what kind of a person the former owner was - other than someone obsessed with piles of things.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

13 Thoughts on Project Runway

  1. Tattoos appear to be mandatory  on both the models and the designers
  2. I thought models are supposed to be pretty - some of the woman walking the runway look a little rough around the edges.  Make that very rough
  3. What's with the ties? 
  4. The facial expressions of the judges are priceless
  5. Judging from the commercials Project Runway thinks all their viewers are Moms with Kids.  Don't they know that Queens love the show too?
  6. Some of the designers really need to wash their hair. A comb wouldn't hurt either
  7. One of the designers might have an eating disorder.
  8. Why does Lifetime TV think women are obsessed by dust bunnies?
  9. Best comment of the show  "She's a pole dancer in Dubai"
  10. The judges are BRUTAL tonight.
  11. How did some of these designers ever make it to the finals in the first place? 
  12. There is some serious groveling going on among the designers.
  13. Why am I, who has no interest or affinity for fashion fascinated by Project Runway?

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The House O' Stuff

One of my favorite sources of inventory is Estate Sales.  Remember how your mother always told you it was rude to snoop in other folks closets and cupboards?  Well, at an estate sale you're encouraged to disobey your mother!

Today's sale was one for the record books. The sign up sheet went up the day before & I stood in line for hour in hopes of getting in on the first wave.  It  paid off - I got in on the first pass at 8am.  I  called uncle at 11 when my eyes couldn't take it any longer. By then the line was  up to  person 180 and the folks still standing in line were facing an average wait of 2 hours. 

The home was a large, run down mansion in a very expensive part of town.  It was chock a block full of stuff.  The former owner was a hoarder, but not just any old hoarder, he was a hoarder with money.  Lots  and lots and lots of money but unfortunately he was not the most discriminating of buyers - at least when it came to books.  He bought many, many, many books but the bulk of them came from Half Price Books.  Still I managed to unearth a treasure or two among the flotsam and the jettison. 

His real passion was Hispanic Art,  toys , toy cars, models, cameras, vinyl records  & clocks.   Every room was packed to the rafters with toys, models both assembled and unassembled and every available surface was covered with clocks and cute pop culture kitsch.  Those areas aren't my forte so I pretty much left it to the myriad of toy collectors and resellers.  I did manage to score 2 big Harry Potter Lego sets. 

He loved Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings and had just about every tie in ever made.  Nobody could figure out where he he slept or ate or "lived".  There was not one easy chair, bed, reading lamp  or kitchen table in the place.  Even the bathrooms were so full of stuff that they couldn't be used for their original purpose.  Maybe he didn't live in the house - perhaps he just used it to store the stuff! 

Normally at an Estate Sale it's pretty easy to get a picture of "the dear departed" based on what they leave behind.  That wasn't the case at this one.  I knew he was a "he" and I'm pretty he was gay and suspect he was in his 60s.  It was actually a very sad sale - all those piles and stacks of "things" lovingly collected over a lifetime were left behind to be pawed over by strangers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

13 Things I'd Really Like to Be Eating...or Sipping

1  .A hot fudge Sundae from Marble Slab
2.  Crisp, hot French fries
4. Onion Rings from Sonic (they make them by hand)
5. Creme Brulee
6.  A Cheeseburger in Paradise (no mayo)
7.  Real hot chocolate made with real milk and topped with real whipped cream
8.  A glass of dry sherry
7.  Brie on crusty French bread with an apple on the side
8.  A big bowl of Pho
9.   Vietnamese Egg Rolls with mint and lettuce
10. Chips and green sauce
11. Potato chips with Liptions Onion Soup Dip (comfort food!)
12. New York style cheesecake
13. Southern Fried Chicken

And what am I really eating?  Carrot Sticks.  It's just not the same. 

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The Library Lunch Club

A comment I left on Blue Skunk Blog ( one of my favorites)  prompted a question about my Library Lunch Club.  This isn't the first time I've been asked  so I'm heeding the call of the universe and writing up a blog post.  I first  wrote about it in 2007 when it started  but it's been tweaked quite a bit since then. I don't agree with all the tweaks but I try to be a team player.

First requirement is a Principal who is more interested in students & reading than in having a library with a pristine carpet. Second requirement is a librarian with a high tolerance for noise! 

Membership is open to 4th & 5th graders.  It used to be limited to 4th graders but once the 4th graders moved on they insisted that the club come with them.  Membership is tried into reading.  

We're an AR school so it's pretty easy to figure out who reads and who doesn't.  The top 25 4th and 5th graders, AR point wise are automatically members.  The membership changes on the first Monday of every month - that way those who read have to keep reading!  I figure it's a good life lesson - just because you're on top doesn't mean you don' t have to work to stay there.

I also include any 5th grader with straight As and an occasional child who is making great strides in either academics or behavior.  We have high mobility and I keep an eye out for new students who are avid readers and invite them also.  Much to our amazement it's a popular reward for students on a behavior contract.  I've been known to hand out an invite to kids because "you're a neat kid".  Hey, it's my club - I can ask who I want!  

Teachers have found the club to be an excellent "carrot" - as in "If you keep forgetting your homework you are out of the club".  It's proven to be an excellent motivator when it comes to getting 10 year old Hispanic males to read. This last school year the majority of the members were boys. 

The students bring their lunch to the library (most of our kids are on free & reduced lunch).   They sit 5 or 6 to the tables and they don't have to sit with their class.  That's a big perk since they must sit by class in the cafeteria. They also get to sit at tables and chairs, as opposed to the pigs at the trough style of eating that is normal in many school cafeterias.  It takes them about 10 minutes to eat and then the fun begins.

Thanks to a bond issue the library has lots and lots of technology toys.  iTouches, ibooks, a Wii, an ActivBoard and two big iMacs.  My lunch time rule of thumb is "if it gets through the filters it's OK by me".  The kids im each other, play games, write on their blogs, check their e-mail and and have light saber duels with the iTouches.  Last spring Justin Biber  made every one of the girls hearts go pitter patter.  They played his video over and over and over again, accompanied by groans from the boys and I who did not share the love.  In between playing with iMovies a couple of the girls run the circulation desk.  The bulk of the  computers are laptops and the kids love to sprawl on the floor and share their discoveries.

When I work with the classes it's real apparent that this extra computer time benefits their learning.  The Library Lunch Club kids have more computer savvy and are much more comfortable with keyboarding.  They also tend to stay on task since they know they have "free exploration" time every day.

Are there any rules?  Yes of course!  The kids have to bus their tables and respect each other and the technology.  I had one incident of cyber bullying last year which I nipped by sending the bully back to the cafeteria.  I've not had one computer broken or vandalized.  All of my mice have their balls and my keyboards their keys.  

And what's my role in this daily 60 minutes of madness?  I prowl around, peek over shoulders, cajole kids to drink their milk, suggest books & websites  and enjoy the happy buzz.  

It works - it's one of the reasons our reading scores are in the mid to high 90s! 


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Things That Always Appear at Estate Sales

Estate Sales in Houston are mostly Thursday / Friday affairs so I can only shop them in the summer time.  Some are Princesses and many  are Frogs but most all of them contain the following:

  1. Chicken Soup books.  Never has so much money been made pedaling banalities. 
  2. Christmas Decorations - they  often occupy an entire room
  3. A Readers Digest Condensed Book or two.  Or Three. Or Four.  Or maybe more.
  4. A couple of community cookbooks
  5. A fur something or another.  That always baffles me - it doesn't get cold enough in Houston  to wear fur in very often
  6. Artificial Flowers - the dusty, plastic type
  7. An angel figurine or two. Or Three. Or Four. Or maybe more. 
  8. Dusters and Mumus.  There seems to be a law that everyone over the age of 60 must have own at least 1 duster.  I hope I don't receive any when I turn 60!
  9. Cassette tapes.  Often the cassette tape player is missing but there is always a stack of cassettes.
  10. China figurines.  Dollar store variety at a low end sale, British bone at a high end. 
  11. A textbook dating back to their college days.  Doesn't matter how long ago it was, there is always at least one textbook.
  12. A collection of calculators (some of which do nicely on E-bay)
  13. Bath sets.  Never opened. 
It's always interesting (and sometimes very sad) to see what possessions people decide to hold on to. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Unconscious Mutterings

I'm still trying to get into the blog habit again.  MeMe's might not be very original but they are a useful tool for kick starting the brain. I found there is even a site that collects MeMes - The Daily MeMe.  I'm going to use that next year with my bloggers - I think they will enjoy it and it will help answer the "I don't know what to write about" whine.

This is Unconscious Mutterings by LunaNina - it's a list of word and you type in the first word that pops into your head
  1. Dickens ::  Charles
  2. Collection ::  Library (I work in one) 
  3. Weekends ::  Garage Sales
  4. Travel ::  When???
  5. District ::  Spring Branch Independent School District  (hey, it's where I work)
  6. Vampires ::  Overdone
  7. Peep show ::  Youtube videos of Peeps Candy Chicks
  8. Crochet :: Fussy 
  9. Lion :: Roar
  10. Fetch :: Now What???

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Thursday Thirteen

The Thursday Thirteen was always one of my favorite memes.  When the creative juices ran dry The Thursday Thirteen normally inspired a weekly post.  When it comes to Cyberspace things come and go so quickly and one day it vanished.  It's since reappeared in a different place.  

Of course, now I can't think of 13 things to write about so I'll fall back on .....

13 Things I Did Today

1.  Got very wet - H-Town is being washed away by daily thunderstorms.  Makes me happy I'm off for the summer.  Thumbs down to the former, Thumbs up for the latter. 

2.  Wrote E-bay auctions - it won't sell if I don't list it.  DUH!  Thumbs level

3. Went to an estate sale.  Found a Betty Crocker Red Pie cookbook.  Thumbs Up! 

4. Ate some very good sushi.  Thumbs up (licking sushi rice from said thumb)

5. Had BumbleBerry Pie.  A La Mode no less.  2 Thumbs Up!

6. Ran the dishwasther AGAIN.  Thumbs Down. Actually it should be thumbs up that I have one. And that it works.

7. Did not fold the sheets.  I hate folding sheets.  Both thumbs down.

8. Wrote my required "comments"  for my Book studies by blog that I'm doing this summer.  That will get a thumbs up when school starts and I get to take 2 flex days. Make that 2 thumbs up, one for each day.

9. Wasted to much time on Facebook.  Thumbs down!

10. Season7 of Project Runway arrived on DVD.  Watched it.  Also listed Amazon stock.  That made watching it a Thumbs neutral.  Season 8 starts on July 29th.  Happy Dance!

11. Read a book. Thumbs Up.  It's summer I now get to read again

12.  Thought about culling some clothes. Didn't do it.  Thumbs down

13.  Spent 30 minutes with Mr. Wi Fit.  Thumbs Up, though any good it did was negated by #5.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From My Other Blog....Accessing Information

I'm locked in a hospital room with My Beloved (who has a blood clot) and thus have time to work on my 5.75 Things.

I'm actually enjoying the entire experience - The Things that is, not the hospital room. It's nice to use my brain again.

Here's the result of yesterday evenings web crawl..... Accessing Information

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Now Have Another Blog

Having done The 23 Things, The 11 1/2 Things I am now embarking on the 5.75 Things.

The latter calls for a brand new blog, which I've just created.

However, in an attempt to keep myself organized and this blog updated I'm going to cross reference my posts on my original blog. The first one is entitled "Bringing It All Together".
I'm going to attempt to teach myself how to do Book Trailers.

Dusting off the Blog

.......Hummmm it's been way, way to long...and since I left and came back Blogger has undergone a face lift. I may even change the look of this one....change after all is good! Plus, I'd love to be able to add widgets at the flick of a keystroke.

Thought for the day...

I found myself behind a car with the following bumper stickers
The window rolled down, a hand emerged and dropped a cigarette butt on the ground......well tobacco is a vegetable..... but still....