Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just a Thought

Is it just me or is Elton John the single most over-used artist when it comes to soundtrack music? I swear the last three movies and at least two or three TV programs have featured various tunes by the guy. What exactly does "Bennie and the Jets" trigger in our collective unconscious?

BTW...I just finished watching the movie adaptation of Augusten Burrough's memoir Running With Scissors, which I highly recommend if you don't mind your comedy a bit dark.Here's the synopsis from the library (it's a bit hard to describe):

Running with scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

I'll keep pondering the Elton John thing while I reserve a couple of Burroughs' other books from the library....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

If I Could Go Anywhere: Contrasting Travel Styles

There are friends of mine that covet a week at the all-inclusive as their ultimate travel fantasy. A decadent, indulgent, and over-stimulating experience like no other the all-inclusive is an American dream come true. Can't choose just one entree from the all-lobster menu? Well, have a couple! The drinks flow freely, the activities are at your fingertips, and aside from deciding whether to sleep, lounge, or eat there really isn't much to worry or stress your brain. Thing is, vacations like this are expensive and I am cheap. Been there, done that. There has to be more to life.

Another travel staple is the family vacation, which can be done in a variety of really fun ways (cabins, cottages, anchovy-can ski condos, etc). But the most perplexing of these is the timeshare. I realize my friends with kids have different priorities when they travel. They don't want to fight with their children in restaurants or have to be crammed into a hotel room for hours and hours on end. For these folks, the timeshare is a nearly perfect solution- space, multiple rooms/suites, and kitchens to give the tots their cereal and naps perfectly on schedule. I respect the folks and their kids and pretty much it makes sense that they travel to their timeshares and have a merry ole time. But joining up with a cult-like corporate entity and collecting travel promotions so I can afford deluxe accommodations at a new premier property is not really my thing. Once again, you pay out the nose and get Preferred Customer lines instead of authenticity and character for your trouble...I'll pass.

I like backpacking. Not really the Euro-rail thing, or the eco-tourism/safari thing but the sore muscles, sun-burned face, need a beer and some tips on the fishing/ski conditions/secret hot springs gig. So there's my bias. But there are some other types of travel that have made it to my life list, despite my aversion to the timeshare and the all-inclusive. Nothing too original here, but I've restrained myself and mostly excluded backpacking destinations for this list. I'm still amazed that more people don't embrace really cool trips when they drop serious dough on a "vacation", but as the saying goes: to each their own.

My Kind of Travel
1. Train trip through Copper Canyon
2. Hiking the Na Pali Coast Trail in Hawaii
3. Going to see the polar bear migration
4. Hot Springs tour in Iceland
5. Horseback trip from pub to pub in Ireland
6. Trip to Sweden/Scandinavia and through Poland/Western Europe to visit all mine (and Aaron's) grandparent's countries
7. Driving our Toyota to its final resting place as far as we can possibly get on the route from California to Argentina
8. Floating down the Mississippi in a houseboat or canoe
9. Volunteering in Africa, Tibet, or some other far-flung place
10. And if money truly were no object: I'd stay at every single National Park historic lodge including the Ahwanee, Timberline Lodge, El Tovar, Old Faithful Inn, Crater Lake Lodge, and the list goes on and on.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My Newest Addiction

Blame it on my co-worker's husband who was showing off his flip-flops with the built-in bottle opener. I had to ask where he got them, and now I have a brand new addiction.

If you like outdoor gear, hate paying full price, and don't mind the randomess factor you've got to check out this website. Steep and Cheap is a web site dedicated to getting rid of gear bargains. They feature one item at a time. When it is gone, it's gone. That's how you get addicted... Luckily they offer RSS feeds, so now I can monitor the deals all day long at work and pounce on them when they offer something fabulous like the Women's Marmot Precip Jacket for 75% off. Love it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who Are These Blogging Librarians?

Well, I'm coming up on one year and four months employed as a professional librarian. I find that people still have some pretty wacky ideas about who librarians are and what we do as a profession. Here are some facts that most people don't know about librarians:

  • Being employed as a librarian typically involves completion of an undergraduate degree, an ALA-accredited masters degree in library or information science, and in many cases a second masters degree in a subject specialty. That's a lot of schoolin' (and student loans).
  • At my institution, librarians are classified as assistant, associate, or full professors. Yes, we are academic faculty with the same responsibilities as the rest of the teaching faculty. We are expected to excel in the three areas of teaching, service to the library/campus/community, and to publish to meet the requirements for tenure. And we have to do this working 12 months a year, 40 hours a week. (Sadly, even tenured faculty librarians do not get summers off!)
  • Librarians are your voice on the front lines of information policy. We have a code of ethics as a profession to defend your open and free access to information in any format without judgment. We defend intellectual freedom, fight censorship, and protect privacy. Heavy stuff.
  • The next generation librarian is hip, focused on transforming libraries into the future, and very tech-savvy. We also tend to be blogging our experiences. Several librarians in my graduating class are at the cutting edge of technology and libraries and maintain fascinating blogs (Pegasus Librarian, Goblin in the Library) covering everything from copyright to Ruby on Rails, marketing to paper preservation.
  • A recent survey of the "biblioblogosphere" reports on the demographics of blogging librarians. Apparently, the majority of us are: female, 31-40, Midwestern, MLIS degreed, work in academic libraries, and are blogging for the first time.
Interesting stuff! So, now that you know more than you ever wanted to about my chosen profession, I ask: "have you hugged your librarian today?"

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's a Grind Rocks. Starbucks Doesn't.

This weekend I have been trying to work on the CDT GPS project, which requires me to use my work laptop and a decent wireless connection. I have been trying to poach free wireless from my neighbors, but it has been spotty at best and after losing my work a couple times, I decided to spend Labor Day morning at a coffee shop to try and get something done. If you live in Las Vegas, here is my advice: skip Starbucks and go to It's a Grind.

Starbucks: Corporate. Requires a credit card to sign up for their T-Mobile hot spot, requires purchase of a pricey beverage, and at the Sahara/Fort Apache location has very little seating with no electricity. Plus the clientèle totally annoys me. Big-sunglass clad women in designer sweat suits rudely demanding non-fat, sugar-free caramel, two Splenda, extra shot, vanilla lattes and screaming at their bratty little get the picture.

It's a Grind: Still a franchise, but at least we know the owner and over-the-top friendly employees by name. Dog-friendly patio at the Desert Inn location (biscuits and water are provided), FREE wireless, plug-ins inside the store, and six great kinds of fresh-roasted coffee. Plus they are featured in the hilarious Showtime series Weeds, which is practically reason enough in and of itself.

Neither store comes close to the legendary coffee shops that I seek out in real cities, (insert favorite local shop here...) but if you have a choice I strongly suggest choosing It's a Grind over Starbucks- especially if you are in the Summerlin/Lakes area of Vegas.