Saturday, April 30, 2005
oh firefox i love you
With a free weekend, I have had time to catch up on blog reading and play with firefox extensions. First, I read most of those things that I have kept as new on bloglines. And I have discovered some of those ads that are apprearing in bloglines. How icky. But, its free so its ok.

I have had two extensions on firefox for a while. I have Tabbrowser Preferences and Livelines. Now I have Super DragAndGo. (I can click on any link drag it to any open space and it will open in a new tab. I love it and it gives me joy to see it work.) And All-In-One-Gestures. It combines many things: mouse gestures (which I had some experience when my roommate used Opera in college but this is better because it draws a line so you can see where you are going. And holy cow! you can choose the color!!!), rocker navigation, scroll wheel in tab bar, scroll wheel navigation, middle button scrolling and link tooltip. I will now have to teach myself how to use these. How fun!!!

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Thursday, April 28, 2005
On blogging
I recently read this Internet Anxiety Disorder post in Library Stuff and this Internet Anxiety Disorder post in Bibliotheke.

These two posts about what blogging is and isn't and how timing is involved made me think. This is one quote from the second post:
Blogging is largely viewed as the act or writing about what going on now, as in right now. You’ve missed the train if you wait a day or two to comment on piece of news
And a quote from the first, in response to the second.
Every blog post, IMO, is a piece of news. This one is a commentary, which is also news, just not "breaking news", to which William is probably referring. Many comments on my posts come many days (even weeks) after the initial post. It's also not (for me) about 'blog or die'. It's about 'blog and share.
This post really made me think. The one thing I kept coming back to is that the audience is always changing. Every blog post is a piece of news, especially if a new person is reading something for the first time. If you are writing in a controlled enviornment, where everyone knows the same background information, then it would be true that waiting a few days to announce new news means that it is old news.

But the internet is full of new people every day. If a new blogger sees something that is useful to them, then it is beneficial and worthy. Even if that piece of news or information was months or years old to a person that had been around.

Both of these posts were written in library blogs, mainly referring to libraries and librarians. I don't know if librarians are different because they are supposed to be in the know and aware of the technology out there. But they aren't. People in general are just starting to blog (even when some have been at it for years and years) and that includes librarians.

And everyone is to benefit when a piece of news is announced or a beneficial site is mentioned or system is explained. Even if that news or site or system is old. Because someone new has never heard of it.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister and we were talking about this guy that we know who blogs a lot but has no RSS feed. I asked her to tell him next time to add an RSS feed to his blog. She asked, "What is RSS?"

So she would benefit from a blog post explaining the basics.

And then yesterday I saw this post about how to use bloglines. I thought about all of those who are benefitted by this explanation. Perhaps those who had not ever heard of bloglines. Or those who just didn't understand how to use it and needed the step by step guide. This was old news to some people and new news to others.

Also there are times when you are not ready for new knowledge because you haven't been prepared for it. Sometimes it takes a level of previous knowledge to get something. I read an article once about Technorati and I just didn't understand the big deal. Then I kept reading about other cool things and I later came back to that same article. And suddenly the light came on and it all made sense. Old news was news to me.

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Another (even smaller) study
This one was done in December of last year and I am surprised that I have not come across it before. It is a lengthy write up done for a school project. The study was tiny (6 people including the author, where the author was the most active participant. So really it is mostly about the author. But still pretty cool. ) but it is very interesting to see what questions were asked and what things answers were found.

One idea that it looks at is the lurkers.

Finally, it is interesting to note that, as far as social conventions go, people seem to find more value in reviewing links than in submitting them. Although the degree of ‘lurking’ is difficult to quantify, I quote the following comment by a user: “I don't post that often. I do find things daily that I feel are worth posting but I don't.

I wonder what the ratio is between links submitted and links clicked on? And then how many of those clicked on links go on to be submitted again? I myself love to look at the popular links at least a few times a week and maybe once a week I will look at what is being submitted into delicious right now, just to see what obscure things are out there.
Book a minute
Today I read Green Eggs and Ham and Cordoroy and another book about a magic hat. Fortunately for me, these books took up the precious time between free time and outside time. I wanted to take as much time as possible, so if Sam I am had suggested eating those Green Eggs and Ham in Space, Idaho, and with a dog, I would have been happy.

But sometimes the opposite is true and you really need to read a quick book. Then turn to Book A Minute. My favorites:

Green Eggs and Ham:
Some Creature
I won't eat green eggs and ham anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances.
Sam I Am
Try it.
Some Creature

And The Very Hungry Caterpillar:
Once there was a caterpillar who ate holes in stuff and turned into a butterfly. The End.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Oh, how cute.
I have a four year old in my class that is so web-savy that his parents had to install filters because he would put random words he knows between "www." and ".com" and sometimes come up with things that are not quite right for an innocent four year old.

Today, we were talking about if we went on a picnic, what would we bring. I said fried chicken. Other children said strawberries and pizza. This child said a laptop. I later asked him what he would do and he said, "You know, get on the internet and play games at Nick Jr."

Wow. I just can't decide if this kid will be a workaholic who can't ever stay away from his laptop/cell phone/pda or some cool technology guy who ... well... who ... can't ever stay away from his laptop/ cell phone/ pda.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
How many knew what that meant?
Just now, driving home, I saw a driver's license that said XML GUY. I smiled.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Guess the Google
Sadly, I am totally addicted to Guess the Google. It is a game where you have 20 seconds to guess what search term would pull up 20 images. If you play it several times you get the same pictures and answers over again, so it soon becomes more a game of memory and fast typing skills than imagination and thought. My high score has been 382. Which is only 7 points from one of the current top 10 high scores. But those 7 points are very tough to get. To get in the top ten, you basically have to type in the correct answer within one second of seeing the pictures. My hands can do that if it is "pet" or "family" but when it is "kisok" or "orange" by hands just don't type that fast.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Interesting Study
Although this is far from a scientific study, it is interesting, if only to see the questions that the author considered and how the small sample of people answered. The group of 70 people came from volunteers from the delicious discussion email list. So just by that you have a group of people very into, so that would show that the answers in this study would not be true of all users. Some of the things the study looks at are the demographics of people using, how fast they accumulate links, how many links they have, and their levels of RSS use.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Simple Joys
Five days on the job as a substitute and I have been hired on as a regular in the room I have been working in. Because the teacher raved about me. That makes me feel good. This will keep my bills paid through the summer when hopefully I will get my full time real teacher job.

Today I saw simple things through the eyes of two four year old boys. First we were making flowers out of paper plates and painting them. A little boy was having trouble first tracing and then cutting. So I sat there and helped him. With every snip he would look to me for encouragement and I would tell him good job and then help him with the next step. It took at least ten times longer than if I had just done it for him, but I knew it was important for him to do it himself. And the look on his face when he saw his paper plate turned flower was worth it.

Later, I was watching the last few kids before their parents came to pick them up. I was in another classroom where the teacher was still cleaning and a little short tempered when the little boys had dirtied the floor with their muddy shoes and messed up the table with blocks. I focused on keeping one boy busy and out of the way. I didn't want to get other things out so I sat there and talked to him. I asked him what his favorite ice cream was (chocolate with a picture of Spider Man on it. Don't know quite how that works), what his favorite pizza is (meatball and cheese), and what was the best thing he ever got for his birthday (a lawnmower with a mouth that looks like it eats grass). We talked about his family and his house and his dog. When I sat there listening to him I thought about how important it was for him to get one on one talk time. I don't know how often that happens. But at least he got some today.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Paper in 48
A new job filled with tying shoes, wiping noses, and telling children to use their whisper voices leaves less room in my life for my daily internet time. So sad. I have several articles and blog posts bookmarked and in the KeepNew part of Bloglines so that I can return to them.

This week will be rough. I'm sorta sick. (The talking to kids combined with sleeping in my car on saturday night and working outside for a large part of the day in the allergy filled Austin area has left my voice horribly hoarse and sometimes simply not there.)

And then I have full week of full time job, combined with my last real week of my last real library class. If I had known it would turn out like this, I'm not sure I would have planned it this way. My library class is doing action research. I will look at blogs in libraries. That will be fun. It is the 5-7 page paper due in 48 hours that will not be fun. I'll get it done though. If I had not been telling myself "just one step at a time" maybe I would have seen how extensive this preliminary paper would be. Oh well.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Tagging in the genres
Assuming I get a job for next school year, there are about 4 months for someone to start something like this for teachers. It will come, I'm sure. I just don't know when. It may already be out there.

Connotea is a social bookmarking service for scientists. Its been around since January, but it was featured in an article in D-Lib Magazine so maybe it will gain notice. (There is another article about social bookmarking tools in general with a few great diagrams. Have to read that later! One diagram looks at bookmarking tools for general and scholarly audiences. The general audiences have many more tools than the scholarly but I think that will change.) In Connotea, the problems of multiple vocabularies for the same item are minimized because in one field, people have a similar vocabulary. Some of the most popular tags are "human evolution" and "avian flu". There will still be issues, but if it catches on, I'm sure it will be very useful to scientists. One interesting thing that the article said is that when a book is mentioned, the bibliographic information will automatically be added.
In the spirit of making it quick and easy to use, Connotea attempts to find and import the bibliographic information for any article or book that is added. In many cases, this information is freely available on the web, so why should a user have to retype it? There is also, of course, the benefit of eliminating typing errors. Along with the use of bookmarklets (see below), automatically adding the bibliographic information reduces the workload of saving a reference to two clicks and a small amount of typing for tag names.
And the future teacher one will be very useful too. Imagine having a tag saying TKAM or ToKillAMockingbird and linking to many lesson plans, articles, and other things that teachers are using with their unit on To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it would have to have notes like does so that a teacher could explain how he or she was using a random looking article or website in conjunciton with the unit.

Of course, there are also advantages to having all of the information tagged in one place. or or somewhere. It is not too convenient to go looking in 7 different social network places for one thing, or to have to tag something in 7 different places, perhaps with 7 different specificities of tags. But there are also advantages to seeing what the scientists or teachers or lawyers are saying about a certain thing. Also interesting to do some sort of study on how they look at tags differently. I'm predicting these specific ones will start popping up. I wonder how many will still be around and popular in several years.
My copyright mind
While at a church retreat focusing on homelessness awareness and service, we watched a cool video of pictures of bad social things: Sept. 11, Hitler, poor people, etc. There were a few film clips, too. My immediate thought was whether or not they had taken care of the copyright issues involved with showing everything. It was weird.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Tax time customer service
While on my lunch break (I just started a new job to keep the money rolling in the summer. I am substituting at a day care center and will have a permanent group when the Summer Camp Time Starts. So far I have been with a class of 2 year olds and 3 year olds. Fun times.) I went to turn in my taxes. Yep, I'm a big procrastinator.

I walked into the actual post office building and saw a table set up just for taxes. A lady sat there and let me use the tape, sold me two stamps, and postmarked my taxes right in front of my eyes. I don't know if they usually do this on April 15th, but I thought it was excellent customer service. It made my tax mailings especially enjoyable.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
40 is a special number
40 is just one of those numbers. It is used a lot in the bible. Forty days of flooding for Noah. Forty days that Moses was up on the mountain. Forty days that Jesus fasted. And the Israelites wandered for 40 days.

And my favorite: Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.

I see 40 as special too. It was forty days ago that I last opened my dishwasher. Its just a shame that I was putting dishes in there instead of taking them out. Seriously, I knew I had more forks. Now, I have found them.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Librarians as Patrons
I was at the library yesterday when the lady checking me out told me that I had a book six days overdue. I looked at her and hesitated in making my excuses. Because I knew how she would counter them. I know how it all works.

When I was doing my practicum at the library in Kansas, I worked for two days at the circulation desk. The circulation manager would tell me that 95% of the time, the lost books were found in the possession of the patron. The library staff would give them ideas on where to look (under the bed, in the car, etc.). The library would promise to also keep an eye out.

So I knew all of this when all I wanted to do was look at the woman and say, "No. I am SURE I turned that in." Because I am. I really did turn it in. But I am still waiting on her phone call telling me they found it.

On the other hand, the book that I forgot to check in at the desk, (but REALLY DID leave at the school library when I did my storytime activity at an elementary school library last week) has appeared and been checked in. And I just saved around $30.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Reading Management
I seem to be collecting books more than usual lately. I have over 12 from three separate trips to the library. Four more from a recent trip to half price books. And probably 20 that have been collected over the last year. This is just counting the books I have not read. I usually read a lot, but this collecting and not reading is a new thing.

This gets me to thinking about how I choose what book to read next. Sometimes it is easy, but sometimes I need to come up with complex ways of choosing.

I used to read the first chapter of a group of books and then continue reading whatever one grabbed me the most.

Then I started a random system of picking a number and a letter of the alphabet. Say 7 and K. It was usually K. I love the letter K. Whichever author's name's seventh letter was closest to the letter K in the alphabet would be my chosen book to read.

Now I am thinking I need some elaborate first-in, first-out inventory sort of system. This would ensure that I read all of those books I bought last year. But that would cause severe problems with the library books that have deadlines.

I think about this too much. I should just start reading.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Vast Network or Small World?
While reading, I found this posting about Blogging v. Journaling where Will talks about the fact that Journaling on Xanga like teenagers do is not blogging with thoughts and ideas and possibilities and links and citations. Agreed. (But I still think there is value in Journaling. It gives people the opportunity to think and be introspective and write -- even just freewriting. But there are definately hazards involved with teenagers journaling about their entire lives on the internet. And those hazards tend to give blogging in general a bad name. That's bad.)

The most facinating thing to me was reading the article that he links to.

I click on it and see the word Wichita. Oh Great. Bad news from Kansas. Only to realize that not only is this place where I used to live but one of the schools I used to go to on a weekly basis to have lunch with the kids from my church and volunteer in the library. And another school they mentioned is one I subbed at.

The article is scary. It talks about teens putting everything out there on the internet. If I was a parent reading that I would say no way. And thats too bad. Because there are more uses for all blogs than just serving as an online diary. And blogging shouldn't get a bad name (and all blogging tools should not be blocked by school computers) because of some potential bad uses.

At one point in the article, a teen said that "parents should respect boundaries." Do these teens realize how open and out there the internet is? It is there where everyone can see it.

This is how it happens:
Original Xanga posts ---> Bloggers/Journalers Discussed in Newspaper Article ---> New Jersey Educator and Blogger Reads Newspaper Article ---> Blogger and Future Educator who used to live in Kansas and now lives in Texas reads blog post of New Jersey Educator and reads Newspaper Article.

And knowing who I know in Kansas it would take me no time to find out more. So, teens, these things can travel the US. Yes, the "Internet is an amazingly vast network." But its also a very small world.
Tagging and Bloglines (again...)
Two interesting things in the more mainstream news.

A Newsweek article about tagging. It is a postive, introductory article.

Then on the Florida Sunlink Announcemnets for K-12 Librarians, they talk about Bloglines. I dont know how popular this Florida Libriarn blog is. Does it go beyond Florida libarians to all school librarians? The weed of the month associated with the Sunlink Website is fairly well-known. (I think.) What is slightly ironic is that if librarians are not already using bloglines (there are 8 bloglines subscribers to this blog), they may not know that the Sunlink Announcements has been updated. The next time they happen to check the site, they may not scroll through to read about Bloglines. If that's true, what a shame. But regardless, the post has useful links and would prove useful to school librarians.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
While reading on the whole taxonomy/folksonomy thing (I keep telling myself to stop but it is just so darn facinating) I found this unique phrase:
I'm sure if someone ever conducts an academic study of tag choices by users, we'll see that there is a minimum of collision because most tags are straightforward and unadorned: "web", "blog", and "online" no doubt dominate, with tags like "linux", "tv", and "music" following right in behind. Along the same lines, a number of quote unquote personal tags will be all be entirely worthless towards searching anyways.
As far as I know, the use of quotes started in written language like this: "personal tags". Then it moved to verbal language. People use the little air quotes or say "quote unquote". Here the words "quote unquote" have made is used written language. Either this person was so used to saying the words "quote unquote" that he wrote them, or he was trying to make a distinction between the use of the phrase "personal tags" as opposed to the use of specific tags ("web", "blog" "online") in the previous sentence. Interesting.
1 million pages?
I had a dream about Delta Gamma and that I was invited back to be a vp. That led to thoughts about when I was the director of scholarship and I created the Scholarship Olympics. It was a motivational scholarship program. The entire sorority was separated into groups according to major. Then each group was given a name (I got the names from girl cartoon characters so I ended up having names like Daphne and Lucy and Wilma. No Belle or BamBam or Briar Rose.) Group members earned points by making good grades on projects, quizzes, and tests. Also by doing study hours. Then group members who had accumulated the most points got prizes. Gift certificates. I thought those would go over well. And they did.

The program was successful. Probably about 10% of the chapter participated. Not great numbers, but even for those not participating, maybe they thought about their studies a little more. (Or maybe they just thought, Oh how cute. That Alicia girl thinks she can bribe me into studying.) And I think it was worth the work I put into it. Oh the work I put into it. I had excel files giving details on every member, their favorite classes, their majors, if they would be willing to tutor someone else. I had a huge poster detailing which group had the most points. Each group had a little paper doll named with their group name. The paper dolls were on the poster. I set up an email address that people could email their points into. I had to check that each week and calculate their totals. It was work.

And I did this work for free. Just to motivate others to learn. I think about this sometimes when I think about what I will do to motivate my students to learn. I also think about my sixth grade math teacher. He went to a LOT of work. We did group work in that class. We were placed into groups of 3 or 4. The groups were made so that each group's test average for the last class was roughly equivalent. Each group came up with a name and drawing for the group. It was exciting to see what group I would be in next. I don't remember much, except that one time my group was called the Colorado Rockies. And the boy in my group drew the logo perfectly on our group name sheet. That was the first time I had ever heard of the Colorado Rockies and I will always associate them with Mr. Richardson's sixth grade math class.

One of my latest teaching ideas is to make goals (personal and class) of either pages read or number of books read. Or maybe a combination or both. I was thinking it would be cool to have my classes read 1 million pages during the year. Books that we read in class could count. Books read outside of class could count. Graphic novels would count. And maybe magazines. The students would turn in a title and number of pages and answer one question out of several listed. Maybe favorite quote and why or favorite scene or character. And then we could keep track of what the class is reading. And how much. There could be a paper chain, with each circle representing a number of pages. And when we got there, we could tear off that circle. And then when we reached the goal, there would be a pizza party or some fun motivating thing. I was thinking of the number 1 million for all of my classes combined. If I had 150 students, that would mean 6666 pages per student. Which, over the course of a year wouldn't be that much. If I had 180 students it would mean 5555 pages per student. So it would probably be somewhere in the middle. 6000 pages is 24 250-page books. I think I will monitor how much I read over the next few weeks. Probably 750,000 or 600,000 would be much more doable. But there is just something special about the number 1 million.
Visual Housing Search
This certainly would have been helpful while looking for an apartment in Texas when living in Kansas. It combines Google Maps with Craigslist search for housing. No satellite maps though. (while getting the link for Google Maps, I went to Google and did the I'm feeling luck search. I thought it would take me to Google Maps. Nope. Went to Mapquest. I guess thats a good thing though.)
Saturday, April 09, 2005
No more bad words
I love this profanity worksheet found on The Teachers' Lounge, a wiki. . When students cuss, they have to 1) write the sentence including the profanity, 2) write the complete definition of the word including all those pesky pronunciations and origins and examples 3) pick a definition to fit the usage 4) pick part of speech for usage, 5) rewrite sentence using new word 6) write ways to communicate without profanity.
More on

My head hurts from thinking too hard. About the simple act of choosing tags in and what can affect those choices.

I said this:

But what I really want, is a way to find out what most people use to tag certain things.

Then Steven Cohen said this:

As I mentioned to her at the session, I think that if this is done, it would ruin the collective nature of open tagging systems. What makes them useful is that people tag stuff according to their own ontological rules, rather than having to use others' rules.

And I think the second quote is referring to the first. I have been doing some research. And I might have revised my earlier thought. But I still have questions. I understand if there were limitations on variations of tags, or combinations of certain tags (plurals/spellings/abbreviations), then that would change the whole system. But suggests what tags to use (only if a site has been already entered into the system (I think), which my examples had not been). So I wonder if looking at the number of times a tag is used would "ruin the collective nature of open tagging systems". If so, how can that be different than using the suggested tags? In one sense, I can see how using the suggested tags might limit a person's creativity. They would rely on other people's thoughts and not their own. Is that a bad thing because people are conforming or a good thing because more people can find more sites from one tag?

This is interesting, thought-provoking stuff. Compared with the other stuff out there, I am way out of my league. But here are some of my findings and conclusions.

I don't want to control the world. Or even just But I am selfish and I want to be able to use to my advantage. If every form of the words "professionaldevelopment" that I could think of (, prof-dev, professional.d, etc.) were its own little party on, I want my form of the tag to be at the party with the most people.

Why do I want to be at the popular party?

Well, if this was only about organizing some of my own bookmarks, then I truly wouldn't care. Some of my tags are more subjective and only make sense to me. That is fabulous. For example, I really don't expect the link to Round Rock Independent School District to make sense to everyone looking at the “job” tag. But it makes sense to me.

But goes beyond my personal bookmarking. It is social. It’s exciting. And new and confusing.

That is dilemma one: finding out which form of a certain tag is the most popular. I can see how many things I have tagged with “prof_dev” but if I try to see how many things other people have tagged with “prof_dev”, I cannot. Well actually this is a bad example, because the only things linked to prof_dev are mine and number at 2. (Newsflash: Someone else added to prof_dev with 4 links after I had done mine. So prof_dev stands at 6. And for the record, professionaldevelopment tag has 9 uses.) But the blog/blogs is a better example. Looking at the differences in the tags blog and blogs, there is no way to tell which is used more frequently without counting on the page and then counting on the earlier pages.

But this has occurred to other people. So maybe it will get solved. On the discussion list for, there is this request:

I was wondering if it would be possible (or if there is already a method that I haven't seen) to quickly see how many bookmarks are listed under a certain tag (for all users, not just one). For example, if I view my own bookmarks for the tag "blah", it says "showing all X items". But if I view the tag "blah" for all users (e.g., it doesn't show this count.

And Joshua Schacter said (in the same link) in would go on the to-do list. A very worthwhile task. Thanks!

Another suggestions, (which I had not even considered) (also in that link):

it also would be great if there was a way to filter redundant links/bookmarks in the tags from all users. If I search at for something I often have to browse through lots of pages until I find something I haven't seen on the last 5 pages or so.

dilemma two: finding websites about professional development for educators when I don't know websites to start with (if I knew a website I could see what people are tagging it with, but I don't have the websites to begin with, because that is my dilemma) and I don’t know the tags that people might use.

I see three solutions to my problem: 1) realize that is not there to cater to my personal needs and be happy with any help that I get and go on with life 2)simply keep trying variations of professional development tags 3) assume that the websites/links/tags are not up yet, but they will be at some future time so then start trying variations of tags.

So hopefully my issues will be helped. While researching all this stuff I found many interesting things. Back to the blog/blogs issue. For the record I am against combining these and making them into the same thing. (And I don’t want to limit or combine variations of professionaldevelopment either. I just want to know what is out there.) That goes against the personal choice and the ability for one user to make a distinction between the blog and blogs tags. This is discussed here. It talks about variations of spelling (color/colour) and the single/plural issue. But the thing that most applies to me is this:

anything important enough to have a reasonable number of people tagging
it will have the bundling done for it due to the very nature of,
as can be seen by the preponderance of things turnign up as both delicious

So in a perfect world, where everyone was looking for things that I was interested in, and everyone was tagging them with things that were remotely logical to me, I would eventually find those things. Back to my professional development problem: it just does not rate “important enough to have a reasonable number of people tagging it.” Yet.

Oh how my head hurts. This stuff is deep.

Friday, April 08, 2005
Young Adult Author Bloggers
Holy Cow. Here is a livejournal full of links to blogs of young adult authors. The possibilities are incredible. I had known about 2 of them, but there are probably over 100 (authors and aspiring authors, not possbilities. The possibilities are endless). Some of the authors are more popular/famous than others. Some are just aspiring authors. I found Sarah Dessen (who I found charming and entertaining this week at TLA) and Laurie Halse Anderson (who I missed in order to attend another event). Already so excited and then I read this:

I'm looking for blogs by YA librarians, YA booksellers, teachers who support YA, and other publishing industry types.

Wow. I say it. Wow.
Last day at TLA
I arrived for an early session. Also the only session without breakfast included. It was for the Young Adult Round Table. About Lonestar and Tayshas books. There were some book talks done by librarians on the committees. Some of the books look very exciting. My wish list is growing.

The second session had five authors. I saw Amelia-Atwater Rhodes again. She had some interesting things to say, as all the authors did. (Mark Delaney, Valerie Hobbs, Neal Shusterman, and Janette Rallison) I will have to read some of their books. I know all of the book related sessions would have meant a lot more if I had read any of the books they were talking about.

Books were on sale in the exhibitor's space. I was walking by one of the booths and spotted Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I have heard this was good (Spotted it here and other places.) So ALL of the books at this booth were $10. This book is HUGE. I got such a great deal. The retail price is $27.95. But I paid only ten bucks (1.27 cents per page, 14.49 cents per chapter). While grabbing a quick bite, I spotted a BookCrossings Book. I had seen one yesterday but the book didn't interest me. But I did grab this one because I was afraid if I didn't that it would just get thrown away or something. Its The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. So it can sit on my shelf next to Bee Season.

We tried to listen to Gloria Estefan at the lunch, but because of fire hazard issues, no one without tickets was let inside. Bummer. An anticlimactic end to TLA 2005.
Shifting Google.
So apparently, Google has shifted its word on the homepage. Who notices this type of stuff? (I would ask who has the time to notice this kind of stuff, but I did spend several seconds toggling back and forth between the new and old version.)
Thursday, April 07, 2005
on a blogging high

When going on a spiritual retreat, you come home on a spiritual high. You focus on God for a time and you get pumped up and want to go out and change the world. Then you realize that the world is just you left it and you have to change the world one step at a time.

After today at the Texas Library Association Conference, I am on a Blogging high. I want to go out and change the world. (And technically, since I don't even have a job, do I really have a world to change?)

My mind is so full of thoughts, blog-related and not. My mind is running so fast and so full that I hope I can successfully empty it here so that I will not be thinking-thinking-thinking like last night and not sleep even though I need to wake up early. Darn Daylight Savings.


Today I saw Steven Cohen talk twice. I was really looking forward to seeing him talk because I have kept up with his blog on library stuff for a few weeks. The experience of seeing a real human behind the weblog was not unlike my experience spotting Julia Barr from All My Children on the streets of New York City. Its just a little surreal. (oooh! while checking to see that surreal was spelled correctly i noticed a creative commons search on my firefox browser. At the top right. Has that always been there?)

The first presentation was about keeping current on professional advances: ways of communication, from email to RSS. Learning more about RSS was very helpful. It clarified somethings to me and opened my eyes to possibilities.

I learned how to make use of PubSub which I installed but have never really used. I also learned about cool websites like (uses registrations that people have volunteered so that you do not have to register to read every newspaper that demands registration to read the rest of the article), CiteYouLike(tagging stuff for academics), and Watch That Page (monitors websites for new info and emails them to you).

People in the audience needed clarification on blogs. Steven talked about personal and professional blogs. This one (and many others) fall somewhere in the middle. I question that sometimes. I question my purpose. Is my purpose just to amuse myself? Am I speaking to others or just creating a record for me? For now, I think it falls somewhere in the middle. Somedays I love it and other days that drives me crazy.

I stayed after and asked if having a blog somewhere in the middle is bad form. (You know, like Captain Hook in Hook. Or was it another character? You know, during the baseball game. Anyway...) I just wonder, if I link or trackback to a professional blog, do they think I am unprofessional after seeing that I have some library related things, some education related things, and a lot of "other" things.

So I asked the presenter's opinion. After guessing that I was a livejournal user (!!! Must have been the pink sweater.) Steven said that it was ok. And I think it is ok. But I am not sure that its what I want. But I don't really know what I want. Besides categories. I really want categories. If Walt (apparently a respected library person) can blog about food, that means something right? But what does he have? Categories. Oh. And for free. Well the wordpress was free. The domain? Not so much.

The second session was about social networking. Mmm. Love it. It was weird. I didn't expect to be going to sessions like this. I thought I would be going to a lot of Young Adult writers stuff (I did go to some... very interesting too!). But at this library conference, we talked about and wikipedia. I felt like all of the things that I had been reading about for weeks had been preparing me, and all the things I was interested in converged. It was awesome.

We (it was quite like a discussion instead of a one sided presentation) talked about as a way that everyone classifies information. The information is classified according to how the peope want to use it. I love it. But sometimes I search for things and I don't know if it is that it is not tagged yet or that I just don't know the correct tags to use. The other day I was looking for online professional development courses for teaching english in high school. I tried prof_dev. Well I tagged one thing I found as prof_dev and then I saw that someone else had tagged that. But that person used professionaldevelopment. The whole individual tags thing is great. It is what makes so fabulous. But if I want to contribute to the system and I want the system to recognize my tags, I (personal decision) want to use the ones that are most popular (assuming they work for me). So if most people use professionaldevelopment instead of prof_dev, I want to use professionaldevelopment. But what I really want, is a way to find out what most people use to tag certain things. Without doing a trial and error. Because I can do that. But I can only do that if I can guess at what people might be calling things or look at their own tags on the websites.

We talked a little about Wikipedia. The expected objections were raised. The conclusion was basically that Wikipedia is a great starting point, but everything needs to be verified. I learned about Wikipes - a wiki for recipes! And verticles. How have I missed learning about verticles?

One of my favorite parts of the whole day was when someone brought up the issue of who owns the content of something written in Copyright is a big issue for librarians. Who owns what. Who can use what. Who sues who. Rules Rules Rules. Steven's answer was that no one owns the content. There are no copyright issues because (the quote was so great I copied it down as best I could) "In the blog world and the world I live in, its a very open world." Caring and sharing and respect and no stepping on toes. Nice.

One step forward...
Bless you, Blogger. I take it all back. Now what can you do about categories?
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Things I did today that I have never done before...
1. Left the apartment at 7:15am and got back at 6:45 pm. Man, having a real job is gonna stink. Its gonna kill me that first week.

2. Attended a full day of a statewide library conference. Wow. It was fun. I learned a lot. Am tired.

3. Watched a Young Adult Author's presentation. I have never read any of Amelia Atwater Rhodes's books, but now I may have to. While she isn't the best public speaker (she jumped around a lot and her talk didn't really flow) she had very interesting things to say. She was published as a young teenager and even now is just 20. She is pretty amazing.

4. Waved a sign and yelled things in front of the state capital. The Texas Library Association had a rally in front of the capital. While the legislature was in session. It was a nice experience. I had fun. They brought in drummers and drums and this one girl with a smile permanently plastered on her face. And not a pleasant smile. More like a freakishly-happy-and-peppy smile.
But I don't really know if I am made up for the rally life. I was supposed be yelling and excited, I would start coughing. And while I was supposed to be peppy and clapping I was thinking about how much my feet hurt and how the sun was warming my black pants. A silent sit-in on a day with a high of 68. Maybe I could do that.

5. Rode a charter bus around downtown Austin in circles stopping at several hotels that nobody wanted to stop at and finally got off after the bus drive reassured himself that he knew where he was going by asking the bus riders who were mostly from out of town.

6. Ate a whole packet of Rolos on the way home from the grocery store during a weak moment of hunger and tiredness and low self-control.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Blogs in Schools
I am trying to take the extra time in my life to read and think about what I want to do in my classroom in the next years and what I want to do in the library, assuming I move over there at some point. Whenever I have the chance, I try to incorporate my ideas and thoughts for the future into my assignments. For example, I had to write a grant application. We (my partner and I) decided on a book club with two schools involved. We thought we would set up a blog so that the students at both schools could virtually discuss the books. Nice.

Now we are working on Action Research. We thought of 15 questions and then looked at the literature out there and refined one. My refined question was about the use of blogs in libraries and how this could enhance communication with patrons. Part of our assignment was then to respond to people in our group. My partner for the grant project responded to mine, saying that she had wanted to start a blog at her school library where she discussed books. They exist out there. They look pretty informative and valuable. But after looking into it, this librarian found out that her district had completely outlawed and explicitly forbidden blogs in their AUP. Hmph.

I know there are worries about safety. But there are safety concerns about the internet in general. So hopefully when people are brave enough to try it out, they see the advantages that blogging can bring. Because when students are blogging, they are writing. Even if they are writing about their day and not some deep sort of analysis, they are writing. And writing is good.

In high school or maybe junior high my mom noticed that my reading comprehension scores were not as high as my other test scores. So she wanted me to read more classics. She gave me Pride and Prejudice. I remember how it looked sitting in my room as I avoided it. I rebelled. I didn't ever read that book. I will someday, I am sure. I read a few other classics and my test scores didn't improve significantly. Then I started reading things that I wanted to read. And I read and read and read. And my test scores improved a lot. Because I was reading.

I believe that reading and writing are good. On whatever level they occur, they are good. I know new things have to be attempted/sampled/tried. But I also think that reading and writing on any level are a good thing. I'm not in the job yet, so these thoughts may change. But this is me now.
Smoothie and chocolate times
I am sitting here drinking a smoothie, with the window open and a 78 degree breeze blowing through the room. I am having a smoothie as I have had every day since buying my new blender. (Today's variety is Straw-orange-pine-banana-cocunut and yogurt, as opposed to yesterday which had blueberries and no banana.)I sip and drink and pretend I am in an exotic beach or somewhere fun and sandy. Smoothies means summer is coming. During the summer I could drink a smoothie every day. And I do. I drink them until I am totally sick of them. And then it is hot chocolate time.

Hot chocolate is warm and yummy. Made fresh on the stove with milk, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla. With my hot chocolate I pretend I am in a log cabin surrounded with snow. I drink it all winter. I probably had it at least thirty times since January, made one mug at a time. Then one day, I tried it and it made me hot and clammy instead of warm and fuzzy. It had changed from hot chocolate time to smoothie time.

So my freezer is stocked with frozen banana pieces, high-pulp orange juice cubes, strawberries, blueberries, and crushed pineapple cubes. I will replenish to last me through the summer. I like to buy the fresh strawberries when they are on sale at the store and freeze them myself. But someday, strawberries will go out of season and then my stock in the freezer will run out. And then I know I will quit buying yogurt and stock up on my cocoa and vanilla and prepare for the cooler days ahead.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Errands and Writing
Today had many errands to run. I decided that I should get a job for the summer. If not, I will be bored and poor. I will be working at W-S, finishing my Masters (all I have to do is my Capstone project and test), and continuing my teacher certification courses. But that will take up not much of my time. And it won't pay the bills. So I am looking for something that will be flexible around my teaching courses, weddings, vacations, and fun friends time. This will be my first summer in Texas since the summer after second grade, so hopefully I will be able to have some fun.

So I started filling out applications. Dangerous job, because then someone might call me and want me to work for them. So now I wait.

While I was doing my daily (hourly?) internet reading, I read on 43 folders about a book called Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. It looked good so when I was later at Half Price Books, I saw it and bought it. I also bought:

Short Takes: Model Essays for Composition by Elizabeth Penfield ( I got the 6th edition. They now have the 8th)
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing nonfiction by William Zinsser
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
and True Devotion by Dee Henderson.

I like to think that I will be able to incorporate the three writing books into my (future) classroom. Perhaps by reading snippets aloud as a time filler or really analyzing them and applying them. Who knows. But each book was around $6, so I got out of there with some good deals. (The trick to half price books is making sure that there are not any copies in the store that are cheaper than the one in your hand. I found a copy of The Jane Austen Book Club that was $11, then went and looked on the shelf and saw another copy -- exactly the same-- for just 8. Three dollars saved right there! Also When getting bird by bird, I checked both copies they had and purchased the one without underlining. I like to make my own marks, thank you very much.)

I came home and was reading on Bloglines and what did it give me but an old Moleskin post. I think it was a sign that I should buy one. It was a post from a month ago. Must be from some malfunction or something. But I have been thinking about buying a moleskin. People are obsessed with them and I want to know what all of the fuss is about. Whenever I am in Barnes and Noble, I look at them. They are pretty and soft. And conveniently sized. And durable. One could prove very useful at the TLA conference I will be attending Wednesday through Friday. Sigh.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Interesting places
Illustration Friday and Photo Friday each name a theme and then have people link to an illustration or picture of that theme. Fun idea. I am jealous of their talents. When they have a pineapple on crack submission, I am so ready.

PostSecret has postcards of secrets. Some are heartbreaking; some are funny.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Testing and JP2
I just finished taking my library certification test. I was amazed at the number of people taking the tests. Hundreds. Apparently I had 5 hours to take the test. Thats 3.3333 minutes per question. Wow. Luckily I don't require that much time and was done in under 2 hours. 10 of the questions are being tested for future use so they don't count. I wish we could circle the ones not to grade. Overall, I think I passed. There was one question about the best way to show off the library in an Open House event that I took a lot of time on, debating between two answers. Then there was a factual question about Dewey. I pictured the library I am in now and thought about where I would go to find those books and thought about what numbers those books were. Luckily that saved me.

While I was taking my test, Pope John Paul II died. While I was reading questions about intellectual freedom and how to design a library according to new standards, the Pope was talking to Peter at the gates and taking the "Welcome to Heaven: How we work up here" orientation.

My mom was telling me that as always I am in the middle. The Pope John Paul II started his years as Pope the year my older was born and he died today, on my younger sister's birthday. Thats how life works sometimes.

I came home hoping to watch some of the tv coverage. Unfortunately all of the broadcast stations were all wrapping up their coverage and returning to regularly scheduled programming. Sports. I don't have cable, so I am watching my Spanish channel. I don't understand much of it, but at least I can see the pictures and hear a word here and there.

There are some fantastic days for a Catholic ahead. We can reflect on what an impact JPII has had, and watch the process of choosing the next pope. I know these next few weeks will be something I will remember and tell my kids about.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Chemistry Lessons
Some things just need to be learned. Today as I was doing the dishes, I decided to clean the disposal thingy. The rubber thing that sits on the opening to the sink. So I cleaned it with a brush. Then I filled the other half of the sink with hot water and some bleach and soaked the brush and the rubber thing. Fine.

Then I decided to throw some bleach down the disposal to clean down there. Ok. That would have worked if I had poured bleach and then turned the disposal on. But I turned the disposal on first. So bleach spashed back on me. My face. Ick. I was thinking how lucky I was that I was wearing glasses. And I am lucky. That could have stung or been dangerous. But I just looked at my shirt. Mmm. Solid green with flecks of white. Nice.
more magnetic poetry fun

what i do when i should be studying/cleaning/writing/reading Posted by Hello

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