Monday, February 27, 2006

Here's why I don't teach kindergarten

As much as I like children, I always knew that I could never teach kinder (or elementary school) for that matter. The Education Wonks picks up on this list things to remember in teaching kindergarten. If you go to the post directly, you do have to scroll just a wee bit to see it. Here is one item from the list:

3. They cry if you say “No”

You see, that right there would disqualify me. I can't handle some kid crying because I would probably fold like a cheap suit. Anyways, go read the rest of the list.

Booknote: Git-R-Done

Title: Git-R-Done
Author: Larry the Cable Guy
Publication Information: New York: Crown Publishers, 2005
267 pages, including the rum balls recipe
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Humor, comedy

I don't think Larry the Cable Guy needs much of an introduction. Readers may be familiar with his stand-up comedy or his contribution to the Blue Collar comedy tour along with Jeff Foxworthy and others. This is his first book. If readers have read other books written by comedians, they are familiar with the basic format, which is a form of their routines.

Once in a while, I get in the mood to read something light and funny. This definitely qualifies as light and funny. Overall, it is a quick read, and Larry is entertaining. He makes no apologies, in spite of his well known line "Lord, I apologize." He is direct and plainspoken. Sometimes, I think some of the jokes are dragged a little too long. In other words, the joke is made, move on rather than belaboring it later. However, the book has some very good routines. The NASCAR chapter is very amusing, especially when he imagines what would happen if it was sponsored by tampons. To give a context, he is commenting how NASCAR is no longer sponsored by Winston. The book has a lot of fart jokes, toilet humor, so on, you know, the stuff you laugh at, but you are not willing to admit you laugh at it. The letters of his Civil War era ancestor, Larry the Telegraph Guy, is hilarious, a fine example of tall tales and humor.

He does bring some of his politics in (he is a conservative Republican), but he does so with humor. The only thing I did not like was his take on the Abu Ghraib affair. He thinks it was fine to humiliate those prisoners considering what the terrorists did on 9/11. While I can see the emotional argument, I kind of saw Abu Ghraib as something wrong, as degrading the American troops because they stooped down to the level of terrorists that torture their prisoners. True, the terrorists behead people, and the Americans have not beheaded anyone on video, but still, it bothered me. In that sense, I was disappointed in Larry, or rather, I just disagreed.

That aside, the book is good for laughs and entertainment. He does say clearly he sees his job as someone to make us laugh, not as a politician or policy maker. In fact, he criticizes celebrities who use their position to advocate policy. In the above instance where I disagreed, it is his own opinion.Mercifully, he sticks more to everyday observations and other things. He does do his job and make readers laugh. I read much of the book on my commute, and I had to do my best not to crack up laughing at some passages in the book while I was on the bus.

If you like redneck humor, this is definitely the book for you. If you just want something light to have some fun and laugh for a while, this is for you as well. If you are someone who is easily offended by the mention of tits, or other language (actually, he is pretty light on cussing, but a word will pop out now and then, as natural I think as many people), then stay away. The book includes an introduction by comedian Lewis Black. For readers interested, I read Black's book a while back. The note for it is here. Black's book is more reflective, while Larry's is more slapstick. I recommend both.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Peacemaker, with a touch of Motivator

Through Mark Lindner's blog . . .the thoughts are broken. . . I came across this enneagram test. Find a good overview here of enneagrams. It's another personality test tool. The test asks in the last question if you know your MBTI type, which I had done about a year ago, so I went looked it up, and put it in. Anyhow, the result, while not what I expected, is eerily accurate in some areas. Get the main page for the stuff here. The idea of the test is that it places you into one of 9 types, but it seems to allow for having a "wing" or what I would see as a secondary type or spread. Anyhow, here we go:

My four highest scores:
Type 9: The Peacemaker, also known as the Mediator. I scored a 7 on this.
Type 3: The Motivator. I scored a 6 on this.
Types 1 and 2: The Reformer and the Helper respectively. I tied with a 5 for these.
Type 4: The Artist, also known as the Romantic. I scored a 4 here.

So, let's see how close this gets.

Type 9: The Peacemaker, the test result defines it as the easygoing, accomodating type. Here is the longer version from the overview:
9s come across as patient people who are good listeners, adaptable and accommodating to others. 9s have an unusual ability to "go with the flow" of their surroundings, and a desire to be connected with their surroundings. This ability is both their biggest strength and weakness; at best, 9s are very accepting and supportive of others as they really are, but at worst 9s forget who they themselves are, passively agreeing with others and afraid to assert their own desires. 9s learning the Enneagram may take a long time to figure out their type because they identify more with others than with their own true selves.
The passivity of average 9s can make it hard for them to assert their needs or make decisions. 9s can have a particularly hard time making painful decisions, like firing someone, because they also see the other person's predicament, and hate to force confrontations. Average 9s may distract themselves from tough problems with soothing but trivial tasks (e.g. web-surfing, aimless chatter). 9s with an 8 wing are less likely to have this problem because the 8 wing has a lust for action and challenge, while 9s with a 1 wing are more likely to become creatures of habit, because of the 1's compulsive qualities. Inertia is in fact a chronic problem for 9s, who often find it hard to get started on things. However, this inertia can also work to their advantage, because once started 9s can make slow-but-steady progress, becoming surprisingly relentless in their pursuits. The old Aesop's fable about the slow-and-steady tortoise who beats the faster rabbit aptly describes the work habits of healthy 9s.

This is fairly accurate. I can be very accomodating to what others may need, and I can be very easygoing. Colleagues of mine have observed that I have a good ability not to let anything phase me, but it can at times work against me as suggested because often I will stay quiet rather than letting someone have it. I do take people as they come. While it is not difficult for me to make a decision, other than painful ones, it can be when it comes to expressing a need. I am the type who will let someone else have something before I ask something for myself. So, in the example they use, I may have a hard time firing someone because I see their predicament, but they will be fired. It's interesting it mentions inertia as a disadvantage because on the one hand, at times, I may do little things to put off a big task. I don't really have a hard time getting started, more like I don't feel like it at that moment, so let's go look over some blogs. However, once I get started, I forget time, lunch, people, etc. until something gets done. I have been known to get up from a desk after a long writing task stiff and suddenly remembering that I am hungry. The overview version calls this type the "withdrawn approval seeker." I am not sure about being too withdrawn, at least given the work I do, but I do know I need my quiet time after being in public so much.

Type3: The Motivator, which the test result defines as the adaptable success-oriented type. The overview gives this information:
Being admired is very important to 3s - they are competitive, and place great value on winning and looking good while doing it. Publicly, 3s project high self-esteem, driving relentlessly toward their career and life goals. But the average 3's craving for external approval may degenerate into superficial and image-conscious behavior, as they work hard to look impressive while neglecting genuine achievement. Despite the high self-esteem they project to others, 3s may privately feel insecure about their self-worth, being as it is so dependent on what others say about them. 3s have an unusually strong inner contradiction; they project qualities of leaders: drive, energy, and success, and yet their definition of success is unusually dependent on the values of the society they belong to. Hence, they are simultaneously leaders and followers.

Healthy 3s often have a "cool" attitude to go along with their accomplishments - they know what is "hot" and what is not, and for better or worse, this contributes to the 3's reputation for being excellent salesmen who can win over the most reluctant audience. Because they place high value on affirmation from others, they may be very adept at reading subtle cues in others, using this information to quickly tailor their message to their audience. However, unhealthy 3s are notorious for being phony and self-promoting. Extroverted 3s can be charming smooth talkers, using their networking skills to augment their image and their career, which may be closely linked. More introverted threes may instead strut their stuff through competence and skillful performance rather than showmanship.
I am not sure about the need to be admired part. There are days when I wish I could be unknown. However, that aside, this is pretty close. Publicly, I do project the high self-esteem and relentless drive. I do project leadership, and in fact, I have some very good leadership qualities, but I think my accomodating nature means that at times I will go with the flow rather than take charge. This is probably why I always say no one will put me in charge of anything. Not because I think I am incapable of being in an administrative position, but more because I would have to make the painful decisions (see above), and I would not like being hated a lot when I make the unpopular decisions. It's not so much being hated as having to worry about rebellions from below (very machiavellian if you ask me). The "cool" attitude thing is pretty accurate, though it is something I feel comes reluctantly. I don't look for it; it just happens. The most accurate of this definition is the part about an introverted type 3. I strut my stuff through competence and skillful performance. In other words, I let my actions speak for themselves.

Types 1 and 2, the Reformer, which the test result defines as the rational idealistic type, and the Helper, which the test result defines as the caring nurturing type. To be honest, I thought my score on the Helper type would be higher. That these two scores tied did not surprise me. Anyways, for Type 1, the overview says:
Reformers. The underlying motivation of the 1 is to be RIGHT, and to avoid being WRONG. Reformers are the most compulsively rational of the types, and the perfectionist is another name for this type. Average 1s are driven by their "inner critic", an inner set of standards that tends to be quite rigorous, and independent of what other people tell them. Hence, the average 1 is very self-critical, and also critical of others when they expect the same high standards of others that they have imposed on themselves. Ones get much of their energy from anger, and at best, this energy is channeled into discipline, organization, a strong work ethic and a love of fairness, justice, and truth. At worst, they become rigid in their thinking, psychologically trapped by their own rules and principles and becoming self-righteous in a way that, although logically correct, is not helpful to themselves or others.

1s like to confront problems head-on, but this proactive energy may not always be immediately apparent to others. Introverted 1s may be extremely prim and proper, even rigid, because they turn their energies inward against their own impulses and spontaneity. However, other 1s can project considerable energy, even becoming abrasive, if their passions turn toward ideals, such as social justice, that involve the world as a whole.
I think this, and the next type, are illustrations of how a person can embody many different attributes. While accomodating, I can also be very perfectionist with my work, and my inner critic is ruthless (can we say "seriously lacking compassion at times?"). The line of being very critical of others because I expect of them the high standards I have of myself fits me like a glove. While I can be accepting of others, I am also someone who tries not to depend on others, and I would rather do things myself. To a large measure this is because I ask myself, "why would I depend on someone else when I know I can do it better myself?" A bit arrogant maybe, but experience has often proved me right. So, how could this translate? Well, put me in a group project, and I will likely go along (accomodate), but I certainly won't like it. I don't get angry often, but when I do it can be explosive, a lot of energy. I can make a nuclear bomb look like a firecracker, but since I tend to internalize, you really get a really long fuse before I get angry with anyone. Internally, I can let anger drive me to get things done. I would fall on the positive in the sense that I have a very strong work ethic, which I expect of others as well, and it really ticks me off when they don't. The negative is not really me. I am not terribly rigid in the sense that I am very easy about euthanizing an idea if it needs it. Now, if we could just euthanize some of those people with a low or nonexistent work ethic while we are it (you see what I mean?). However, after being ticked off, I usually just accept it and get whatever needs doing done. I very much into fairness and social justice, but interestingly enough, I don't speak much of these things. I leave my politics close. Sure, you can probably guess where I stand, but I am not confirming or denying.

For the type 2, the overview says:
Helpers focus their lives on giving and receiving love. This personality is one of the most emotionally expressive, and one of the most focused on human relationships. At their best, healthy 2s bring a special interpersonal touch to almost everything they do, empowering others with their unrivaled desire to make others feel special, important, and loved for simply being themselves. It is uncommon (though not impossible) to find a 2 in high-profile leadership positions, or in a job that emphasizes analysis at the expense of human interaction.

Highly nurturing at their best, less healthy 2s show a darker side of their personality. When unhealthy 2s help others, it is merely to make themselves feel more important. They may offer "help" that seems intrusive and manipulative to others, or may do a "favor", only to subsequently ask repayment. Average twos are often attracted toward two seemingly opposite kinds of people: toward people with power, whose agenda they can support, and towards the needy and the outcast, who most urgently need the 2's caring spirit.

As I mentioned, I thought I would score higher on this, but looking at myself, I can see where the test got it just about right. Empowering others is important to me; it is a big reason why I became a teacher and then a librarian, and it will likely be a reason why I will eventually find myself in director's position or something similar; it would allow me to better help others, even if it means I have to lose a bit (or a lot) of myself in the process (again, this is the Type 9 coming out). I would like to think that I don't have the negative part of the helper, the doing it expecting something in return. In fact, I am extremely reluctant to ask anyone for favors or "call in favors." I am as helpful and nurturing as can be. I hope my work with students shows this. That last line about being attracted to the powerful and the needy is somewhat accurate. Power is something I know is necessary to get some things done, but a part of me wishes we could do without. Now, I am always attracted to the needy and outcasts. Hey, someone has to, and you don't see others doing it. Maybe, that was part of the reason I was so attracted to working at an open admissions university, where many of our students are here taking a chance, for some, the only chance they may have to get an education.

Type 4, which the test result defined as The Artist, an intutive, reserved type. The overview gives this on the artistic type:
More than any other type, 4s seek to understand themselves. They may probe their own emotions to an unusual depth, seeking authenticity of feeling and self-expression. They don't settle for the ordinary or shallow, and are disturbed that most everyone around them does. The importance they attach to their inner feelings makes them highly individualistic and original. 4s are unusually self-aware, sensitive, and intuitive, sometimes painfully so, and often with an intense interest in emotional and spiritual growth. Because of this emotional awareness, fours can show kindness at a very deep level (especially to those in crisis), but also know how to rile people up.

The 4's inward focus gives them an intense need for authentic personal self-expression. This may include conventional art-forms such as writing, and music, or unconventional forms such as tattoos and body piercing. The 4 has a romantic streak, and their relationships often occur at unusually high intensity. At best, this can be deeply transformative to both persons. At worst, this intensity may cause a trail of broken relationships, as the 4 continually seeks the intensity of new romances.

The 4's search for authenticity makes many 4s refreshingly candid, sometimes with a sense of drama and a sharp wit. However, they also have a self-indulgent streak. This self-indulgence typically turns inward, and away from practical reality, which may gets them into trouble with money, health, or other real-world issues. At worst, this may induce despair and brooding, accentuating the original problems and leading into a downward spiral that can be extremely dramatic.
Actually, this goes along nicely with having some of the Type 3 and being critical of others for not measuring up to my standards. I don't settle for ordinary or shallow, and it does disturb me that people often do. This also goes well with the sense of kindness. As for my need for self expression, I keep it in my writing, which is something I enjoy very much for experimenting as well as sorting out things. The body art, I think I will leave that to others.

Well, if nothing else, this has given me an opportunity to take a look at myself. I do like doing that because it helps me learn about myself. As Dirty Harry said, "a man has got to know his limitations." I think it makes me a little wiser when I can learn a bit more about myself. So, this was entertaining and interesting. So, if you are interested or curious as well, why not take a chance? If you do, feel free to let me know how you did.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Article Note: On Victorian Reading Rooms for Ladies

Citation for the article:

Baggs, Chris. "'In the Separate Room for Ladies Are Provided Those Publications Specially Interesting to Them': Ladies' Reading Rooms and British Public Libraries 1850-1914." Victorian Periodicals Review 38.3 (2005): 280-306.

I read the article via Project Muse.

This is an interesting little article of library history. The author states that "this article will examine how some Victorian and Edwardian public libraries targeted one specific group, female readers, making serials available to them via dedicated reading rooms" (280). I found it interesting to learn about these separate rooms, and I found even more interesting the assumptions that went along with creating such rooms. This was mostly a British phenomenon. The U.S. did not have these.
  • "Reading rooms were warm, dry and free at the point of use, and, whereas an individual had to be a registered member of the library to borrow books, everyone had unrestricted access to the reading rooms, leading to substantial usage" (281). This is something that survives to this day. Here in the U.S., a person can walk into pretty much any public library and read anything there, periodicals included, free of charge. Folks likely need a library card to check out items, but the reading on location is free. What has changed is the presence of the Internet. Sure, libraries can provide free access, but there have to be some restrictions in place, likely due to security issues and a limited number of resources. I mention the Internet because much of the serials reading now happens online from blogs to magazines to news to periodical indexes with full-text capabilities. This may be like the Victorians reading their serials, but it certainly not unrestricted access. These days, I would venture to say that given the issues, such restrictions are not bad but rather fairly reasonable.
  • The separate reading rooms "consisted of a specially designated ladies' reading room, giving women their own physical space in which to read the newspapers, journals, and magazines provided for them" (282). More on the rooms' content later. At this point, the author observes that these rooms were usually more lavish so as to meet the needs of the "fairer sex."
  • And why were these rooms needed? For one, "partly so that women readers would not be exposed to the less than salubrious atmosphere of the general newsroom and/or reading room" (283). It makes a reader like me wonder what exactly were they doing in the main reading room. Here's one answer: "This was where the library's undesirables, their 'loungers and loafers,' were likely to congregate" (283). Again, I think about today when we would label some of those folk as problem patrons or with a few other choice labels. And no, I am not going into the debate of a library as a social service agency. I believe in common sense: a patron disrupts the library and the other patrons or workers, and he or she should be escorted out of the facility. Pure and simple. However, the rationale back then gets better, for "it was felt that the library's female readership should be spared the unpleasantness of mixing with them, presumably implying that women were unlikely to be 'loungers and loafers' themselves" (283). Apparently it was fine for the guys to mix in with the unpleasantries; heck, guys were probably unpleasant more often than not. How things have changed given that a "lounger or loafer" can be of either gender.
  • More reason to have separate rooms for the ladies, and this one was my personal favorite. "Some librarians even felt that certain behaviour exhibited by women in public libraries necessitated a separate area, where they could gossip without disturbing the more serious reader and also be more effectively controlled" (283). I think this speaks for itself.
  • It is necessary to note that most public libraries back then were run by men. This "means that the stock in ladies' reading rooms was normally chosen by male chief librarians and represented what they thought their female readership either wanted or should have" (284).
The author used primary sources such as library annual reports to compile item lists. He explains his method, which he admits is not perfect, but then again, the sources are not perfect. Records on the topic were not always widely available, or often details about ladies's reading rooms were merged with the records of the main rooms. However, Bagg was able to draw various conclusions.

Another interesting detail for me was the role of donations. In essence, the ladies' reading rooms often got "hand me downs" of serials donated by the public. However, donations overall were very important to public libraries in this period, constituting "between 40% and 50% of public library periodical collections" (287). Can you imagine if public libraries today had to depend on public donations to provide up to 50% of their periodicals? Yet, back then, this was normal.

So, what types of serials were found in the ladies's rooms? Pretty much what one would expect given how women were viewed at the time including fashion, temperance publications, and home-oriented items. "What was almost universally missing from ladies' reading rooms are the heavyweight review journals and the more serious literary social and cultural magazines. . ." (290).

Over time, the value of these rooms declined, and libraries gradually closed them down. The reasons were various, but one reason that stood out was the desire of some libraries to provide children's facilities. The rising social emancipation of women also helped to close the rooms down. The process of closing these rooms was mostly gradual. The author concludes that more research is needed and that these rooms, at least for a time, allowed for more women to use libraries. Baggs writes, "it may prove the case that the provision of a ladies' room regularly extended choice by increasing the number of ladies' journals available to them, including donated titles and other types which otherwise were unlikely to have been bought by the library's clientele" (297). So it was not a perfect system, and yet for a brief time, it may have done some good. The article as a whole provides a look at a part of library history and a glimpse into the Victorian Era. It includes various appendices of periodical lists and an extensive set of references.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Meme of Four

Dang, I got tagged. Never thought I would live to see the day. Walt, of Walt at Random, bit into the fours meme and tagged. Actually, he tagged me under my other not so secret identity, the Gypsy Librarian, but we all know (ok, I know) it is his unruly cousin, the Itinerant Librarian, who does these things. Walt's responses are here. This meme has been going around in various forms. Some people add more things, some substract. Two examples are Joy's post here and Mark's post here, who added quite a bit on music. So, here is my take based on what seemed the questions most people answer. Not perfect for me, since I don't always follow a lot of popular things as readers will see. I am not adding books, since I often address what I read in other posts. I did not do the four cars meme item because I have not owned four cars. I tend to make them last.

Four jobs I've had:
  • Library clerk: I worked as a student worker in circulation for the HSSE Library at Purdue. It was my first job after high school, and it was my work-study job. Little did I know then I would become a librarian. Back then, I wanted to be an engineer. Go figure.
  • Banquet waiter. Nice tips, but you had to wonder about some people.
  • Pizza delivery driver.
  • High school teacher.
Four movies I can watch over and over:
  • Star Wars, the original trilogy, which reminds me, I need to get a new DVD set of it. I have it on VHS, a gift from mom ages ago it seems.
  • The Godfather, because it does have the answer to a lot of questions in life. It's a film "I can't refuse." Don't like the other two sequels as much, though in Part II, I do like the old segments of the Godfather's rise. Overall if there is Godfather trilogy marathon on, I am there.
  • Spaceballs ("Prepare for ludicrous speed!").Actually, I like most of Mel Brooks' spoofs.
  • Patton, and a few other war movies. Patton is interesting for me, I think. One of the places I learned about reading to know your enemy. Patton has the big tank battle with Rommel's forces, and when he wins he says he read Rommel's "damn book" or something like that. Sounds like an endorsement for reading to me.
Four movies I can't stand the sight of (just four?):
  • Anything with Adam Sandler (or any other SNL cast member for that matter)
  • Titanic, and similar heart-string dramas that I know how they will end. The only sad thing about Titanic is that Celine Dion did not go down with the damn ship singing that song (you know the one). I like her voice, but I was so sick of that song I had the shakes every time it came on the radio. Update note: I've made my peace with Dion so to speak. I happen to like her newer song "I Drove All Night." Makes me miss my better half when I am on the road.
  • Pretty much any sports movie. You know the underdog will win no matter what, so why bother?
  • Most "chick flicks." Falling in love with a science fiction fan means I am free from being subjected to "chick flicks" or "date movies." The fact she dislikes "chick flicks" too helps. To us, watching something like Total Recall or Minority Report or any Star Trek flick (she is a big fan) is a "date movie." It's better than getting one of those immunity cards or whatever the hell they do on things like Survivor to spare you some "hideous" fate. I pity the guys who don't have this option. Personally, I just find such movies silly and predictable. You know the guy will get the girl, or viceversa, no matter how much they hate each other at first.
Four places I've lived:
  • Humacao, PR: This is where I attended high school. My family moved a lot when I was growing up in Puerto Rico.
  • Bayamon, PR: Shortly after I went to college, my parents moved there. I was living in West Lafayette, IN for college, but it was where I went home to for my first two years of college.
  • Mishawaka, IN: This is where I had my first high school teaching job.
  • Bloomington, IN: Where I completed my MLS.
Four places I am avoiding:
  • There are not many places I would avoid per se. Let's just say I would avoid places I would not want to live in. There are some that I see as would be nice to visit but not want to live there. California is an example. I would love to see it, but sure as heck would not want to live there (between cost of living, earthquakes if you live near the San Andreas, and so on. Would love to see wine country). If I had to say what to avoid, some areas in the Deep South (I can do without the rampant racism, and if you read this and live there, sorry, but deal), and some large metro areas. NYC is a good example. I like visiting, but I know there are areas I would not go into. You get the idea.
Four TV Shows I love (current): This is a tricky one. My spouse and I don't watch too much television, let alone current stuff that most people talk about. Between our two disparate work schedules and the poor quality of a lot of tv, just not much of an incentive. If you wonder how does a Reference Librarian keep up with the latest on TV, I have one word for you: Internet. Anything I would ever want to know about any TV show is there, and I can seem like I watch them without the pain. However, if I have to choose:
  • MXC on Spike TV. Yes, I like watching people get hurt in all sorts of ways.
  • Law and Order. Don't like SVU as much, but I will watch it. Like CI, though wondering if it losing steam. Have not seen the new one, Court or whatever it's called, and I am not too interested. Overall, I don't make an effort to be there to see the new episodes. Watching the reruns is great (thank goodness for USA Network and TNT), but overall, just see it when I see it.
  • Some of the documentaries and shows on the History Channel (for example, Mail Call), Food Network (big Iron Chef fan, the Japanese one, lukewarm on the American version, couple other shows), and National Geographic.
  • South Park, but again, I see it when I see it. Also like Mind of Mencia and Chappelle's Show, (though that is not new anymore), The Daily Show (discovering Colbert Report now) on Comedy Central. (ok, so those are extra, but the same channel).
Four shows I like (Classic): This one is easier for me. Sorry to sound like "an old foggy," but since "reality" TV became the craze, it is hard to find anything to watch. These shows I actually made time to be home for them, or I taped them. There are more than four, but the meme did ask for four.
  • X-Files. I saw the whole thing, from day one to the bitter end (and some of that headed downhill was painful). However, I am getting the DVD's for it.
  • Babylon 5. Definitely want DVD's for this.
  • Farscape. Ditto.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street.
Four places I have vacationed:
  • Disney World, the one in Orlando Florida.
  • New York City, along with Long Island, NY, where my uncle and aunt used to live. I have some of my fondest Christmas memories from visiting there, waiting for snow that for some reason never came (that is another story).
  • Niagara Falls (on both sides).
  • Washington, DC.

Four favorite dishes (just four?):
  • Pasta and Pizza.
  • Puerto Rican food, especially rice and beans, some stewed beef, and a lot of tostones (plaintain fritters). Thank the powers that be mom taught me how to cook.
  • Mexican, if authentic. Tex-Mex is nice, but it is not Mexican. Cuban food. Nice thing about growing up in Puerto Rico, a lot of the exiled Cubans set up restaurants there. For them, we had the same ingredients they used back home, so it was as good as actually going to Cuba to get arroz congri (black bean rice) or sopa de frijoles negros (black bean soup).
  • Most "ethnic food." I am willing to try just about anything. I have had Vietnamese, Thai, and Ethiopian food as well as sushi and a few other things. My drama class took trips to Chicago for plays, and we used to go to this little Ethiopian restaurant. I love the idea of the food served in a large dish, and everyone eats from it. If that does not embody family and fellowship, I am not sure what does. Totally cool.
Four sites I visit daily:
  • W.I. Dykes Library Homepage. My place of work. This is how I get to resources I need to help other people find that they need.
  • Bloglines, to read my 100+ feeds. No, I don't read them all at once. I skim a lot, save some stuff for later. One of these days I have to make my feeds public, though not sure who would want to know what I read.
  • Blogger, to work on my blogs. Even if not blogging, I am often working on a draft.
  • My Yahoo!, mostly out of habit by now, but before feeds and tools like Bloglines became the way to go, I got a lot of news from there. I still read some stuff on there. Nice one-stop place once you tweak it to your liking, or you find something else.
Four places I would rather be:
  • Back in Disneyworld. I am such a kid at heart at times.
  • Back in Puerto Rico during the Christmas season, to visit.
  • On a road trip to anywhere, especially if small and out of the way. The interstate highway system, and more importantly, the many byways and small roads, are a great U.S. invention. I love to get on a car, hit the road, and get off the road at the sign of any local festival, feast, winery, museum, or roadside attraction. Half the fun is getting to where ever you are headed to.
  • In bed (or any other part of the house: the kitchen counter, the bath tub, etc.), with someone special. . .you get the idea.
Tagging?Forget that. If you feel moved to do this and post it, I would love to see it. But I am not putting any sense of obligation on anyone. While I welcome getting tagged, I don't always like putting things on people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A few things for Valentine's Day 2006

For those who celebrate the day, Happy Valentine's Day. For those who would rather it never existed, may it pass swiftly without much incident, or better yet, may you have a great time with other single friends laughing at those who do celebrate it. Here are a few things for Valentine's Day:

For those of you looking for some good books. Here a list of romantic comedies and a list of Valentine's reading ideas. Overbooked has a nice list of various links under Romance for readers which may be of interest as well.

A couple of short articles on Valentine the saint here and here. Actually, there was more than one saint named Valentine.

I can often count on the Census Bureau to put together a little sheet of facts on holidays. They have a press release for Valentine's Day. Just to give you some curiosity, here are their facts on greeting cards:

Valentine’s Cards
180 million

Number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)

Nearly 50 percent
Typically, the proportion of all Valentine’s Day cards purchased in the six days prior to the observance, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight. (Source: Hallmark research)

For readers who hate the holiday, and I can certainly see reasons why, the Liquor Snob blog has posted a list of 14 Top Reasons Why People Hate Valentine's Day. The list was part of a contest. My personal favorite is Number 5:

5. The big gesture is not what demonstrates true love. True love is getting up early to make his coffee, or letting her lay with her head on your shoulder, even if your arm does fall asleep. It's my grandfather warming the sheets on my grandmother's side of the bed every winter night for sixty-seven years so that she never had to climb into a cold bed. That is true love, and it should be every day, not once a year. – Michelle Wallace, Refugio, Texas

Amen, Michelle.

Susie Bright, the sex guru and writer, also had something for those who may dislike Valentine's Day. She invited readers of her blog to "play a little Valentine's Game: I invite you to post in the commments below, and describe the WORST, SHITTIEST, WEIRDEST, or JUST_PLAIN_BAD Valentine experience you have ever had. It can be on the giving, receiving, or indifferent end of it all." Readers certainly obliged her. Go take a look and read some of these stories. Again, look at the comments after reading her post.

And for those of you who like, or may be seeking, things on a more spicier side, here is a small "Horny Valentine's Gift Guide" from the Fleshbot blog. This one has adult content, so if you are easily offended or sensitive, or it's against your beliefs, avoid it. If on the other hand, you are fine with a little playing around in bed (or the couch, or the kitchen counter, or. . .well, you get the idea), go take a look.

A quick addition, or too good not to post it as well. The Happy Villain of Happyville Library shares Warm and Fuzzy Valentine's Day with a list of pleasurable decadent things. Hey, I am all for revenge as well, after all, it is a dish that is best served cold.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Booknote: What Does Al-Qaeda Want? Unedited Communiqués

Title: What Does Al-Qaeda Want? Unedited Communiqu├ęs
Author: Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, with commentary by Robert O. Marlin IV
Publication Information: Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2004
ISBN: 1-55643-548-7
98 pages, including supplementary materials like a chronology and a glossary
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: politics, public speeches, current events.

I have always been a believer in the old adage about knowing the ways of your enemy. This little book brings together speeches and other texts from Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda from 1996 to 2004. What this timeframe illustrates, for one, is that the man has been around and saying what he intended to do for a long time. In a way, and this will irk a lot of people, the attack on September 11, 2001 should not have been a surprise. He had been saying he was going to attack the United States long before that. Maybe the audacity of the attack was surprising, but certainly not the fact that it would happen. Another thing one gets from reading their words is that they have certain specific grievances and issues. I would not believe people who say "we do not know what they want or why they attack us" after reading this. If you happen to be one of those people, you really should be reading this book. At 98 pages, it makes for a quick read.

Readers need to keep in mind these texts are somewhat edited, in spite of the claim in the title page. The commenter has selected parts of the texts. In the introduction, the commenter writes that "for the purpose of this small book, many important passages had to be edited for the final work." He does provide websites in the works listed page where the texts can be found for readers wanting to read it all. The commenter also provides brief introductions to each text to help reader have some context. The glossary, while helpful, is very minimal. However, readers will get a good sense of Osama Bin Laden's words and thoughts in these documents. The reader learns that Al-Qaeda has some very specific goals and objectives. True, their pursuit of violence and the fact they are more than willing to kill civilians is deplorable, to put it mildly, but the reader learns this is not just some madman out to get Americans. A while back, I read Anonymous's Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. I read it before my blogging days, so no note in my blogs. Anonymous, later revealed to be Michael Scheuer, a CIA official with expertise on Bin Laden, argued that it was necessary to know the ways of Osama. Reading this little book reminded me of Scheuer's book because I could see Scheuer's arguments that Osama and his organization do have specific goals and plans. They are motivated by religion, but they are also motivated by politics. In their world, these two become intertwined. A danger can surface in the way the war on terror is fought as rhetoric that fuses religion and politics comes into play as well. The rhetoric of those arguing for the war on terror is that Al-Qaeda simply hates the American Way, which could not be further from the truth. To put in very simplistic terms, yes, they do dislike the American Way (capitalism, the popular culture, the sex, so on), but it does not mean they want to wipe the U.S. out for it. They really hate that Americans are bringing that over to their part of the world. In other words, they could care less if the U.S. and the West decay morally. They just want no part of it. This is just one of their issues. Other issues include the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia, the land of Islam's holiest places. Overall, it is a war, and readers should not make a mistake about it, but they should read this book to better understand why this war is happening. On a side note, readers may want to look at Robert Spencer's book on Islam, which argues that indeed Islam and its followers do want to subjugate all nonbelievers. Given some of Osama's words in the book I am noting here, that argument can certainly be made. I think these books may inspire readers to ask some serious questions about their government too. I would tell readers to read this little book and then go find Imperial Hubris. Marlin, the commenter, includes a list of further readings, which includes Mr. Scheuer's other book Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America. I really think this is something that everyone, regardless of political conviction, should be reading, if for no other reason than to better understand the enemy.

On a snarky note, you can always read it to say you are just seeing if the FBI or Homeland Security come looking for you. I am sure this would have appeal to those Radical Militant Librarians out there. It worked for this librarian, who can be a bit radical now and then. Plus, I just want to stay informed, for one. Two, I really do think we should look at what the guy says other than deploring it as rantings or just threats. And three, I may go out and find the book Osama recently suggested, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum. I don't know about other readers, but when an enemy says you should read this, I think it is worth at least a look. And if the Fed wants to look at my reading list, hey, read the blog like everyone else, and don't make me get up to kick you around.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Booknote: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades)

Title: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades)
Author: Robert Spencer
Publication Information: Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2005
ISBN: 0-89526-013-1
270 pages, including notes and index
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Political science, Current Events

I must say that I started reading this book before the whole cartoon debacle, and with said debacle, this book has just made me think more. I was going to post this note later in the week, but since I did my other post today on religion, I figured I might as well post this now as well. Some of the questions raised by Spencer's book seem to go well with my other thoughts as of late.

Spencer's book is politically incorrect because it takes the argument that Islam is not a religion of peace, but in fact a religion of conquest that continues this philosophy to this day. He makes a very compelling argument. He looks at the history of Islam, and the conquests by Islam leaders from Muhammad to the days of the Caliphate of lands in what is today the Middle East and their incursions into Europe (they did hold the Iberian Peninsula from 711 AD to 1492, and I don't recall anywhere in my history books anything about the Spanish just inviting them over). What he shows is that before the Crusades came around, the Muslims had already been active conquering Christian lands, so the Crusades were actually a delayed action of defense. Unfortunately for any Muslim apologists, this part of history happens to be true. Also true is the fact that those nonbelievers living in Muslim lands were given the choice of conversion, subjugation with a tax, or death. This is something that is rarely mentioned when speaking of Islam's history and the Crusades, yet one look at a few history books will provide the evidence.

Spencer goes on to argue that Islam continues to embrace the philosophy of subjugating unbelievers. The call to jihad is as active today as it was when Muhammad began his mission. I recently read the short book of Osama's communications (I will post the note on that one later), and I have to say his words are pretty consistent. Osama does convey a desire to make Islam the rule for everyone, and he calls on his enemies to convert. Now, some people will say that Bin Laden is a radical, that he is a fundamentalist, and that is certainly true. But what Spencer argues is that many Muslims, even the moderate ones, have sympathies for Bin Laden and his ilk precisely because Bin Laden is preaching directly from the Qu'ran as well as from respected Muslim scholars and clerics. In other words, while many Muslims may not know everything their theology entails (keep in mind the Qu'ran is written in classical Arabic, very different from modern Arabic. Also note that many Muslims around the world are not Arabs nor do they know how to read Arabic. They memorize verses by rote very often), they have not exactly repudiated the belief of jihad and of eliminating unbelievers.

Now, Spencer makes an argument that Christianity and Western Civilization are superior because of their values. He argues that had the Crusades not happened, and the Muslims conquered Europe, we would not have seen the works of Michelangelo or Dante. I can't help but wonder. The fact that the terrible riots protesting cartoons are going on only fuel people's fears of Muslims. They help keep the negative images alive, and they also help make Spencer's arguments stronger. Now, while Spencer pretty much glosses over Christianity's defects, a sceptic reader may want to keep in mind other events such as the Inquisition in Spain, and the conquest of America where Christians in the name of their churches and God, enslaved and killed civilizations. Spencer does not even look at this.

And there is the rub. I personally have no use for religion, mostly because between experience and education, I have seen that it more often than not is an excuse to hurt people, to legitimize discrimination, and to marginalize others who are different. Christianity as well as Islam have a deep and strong history of violence. True, when Islamic historians say the conflict started with the Crusades, the fact is the conflict was happening long before that. But Christians have their own history of violence as well. So have some other traditions. Overall, while the book has a conservative viewpoint, it does raise some good and interesting points, albeit some may not be popular. I do recommend it, but I also recommend readers search other books and strive to get a balance. The book is organized almost like those For Dummies (tm) books, in the sense it has short sections, questions and answers, and many boxes for notes and such. Spencer uses these boxes to compare verses of the Gospels and the Qu'ran, to suggest books for further reading, and give other quick highlights of points. I may actually pick up a book or two from the suggestions. In case anyone is wondering, I have read the Bible from Genesis to Revelations (the Catholic version, meaning I also read books Protestants consider apocryphal). This was back when I was still practicing. In a way, when I did not know better, but that is another post. Anyhow, not many people can say that. I have also read a good portion of the Qu'ran (a translation, since I can't read Arabic. Would not mind learning it someday along with a few other languages. Observant Muslims only accept the text in classical Arabic as the real deal), so when Spencer makes comparisons, I actually have an idea what he is using. And that is something I wonder about. Many readers may pick up this book, not having read the religious books, or other history books, and take everything Spencer says at face value. As I said, he does make some good points, but other things should be questioned. I still think this is something many people should read.

On a note, the "Politically Incorrect Guide" is a series (the phrase is trademarked). I may look up the others. I am aware of one for American History and one for Science. If I do pick them up, mostly out of curiosity, I will certainly post a note here.

Small thought on religion, or rather its followers

I saw this over at the Cranky Professor, who picked it up over at relapsed catholic. In terms of what is going on these days, with the cartoons and all, I think it sums up nicely some things I have been thinking about. The relapsed catholic writes (emphasis in the original):

I don't buy into this notion that religion is automatically deserving of "respect". We've been hearing that word a lot lately. The other people who use the word "respect" a lot (or, more likely, "disrespect" -- as a verb...) are those thugs who make Toronto's streets so unsafe for decent people. When thugs, be they gangstas or Mafia types or Islamic crazies or other macho bores, complain that we are not showing them adequate "respect", what they really mean is that we are not showing them adequate FEAR.
I could not agree more. Respect, in my book at least, is something you earn, not something you are automatically entitled to. I am happy to show people respect, but to the extent they reciprocate. You behave like a barbarian, I am just leaving you be. And I can't shake the feeling that a lot of these Muslims out there rioting and basically giving a bad name to their religion are no farther away than street thugs who don't really want respect, they want people to fear them. Well, I for one, refuse to show bullies fear. Most of the civilized world values freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In her post, Kathy, the relapsed catholic, also writes,

Not all belief systems are worthy of respect. If your beliefs can't stand scrutiny or mockery, perhaps you beliefs are stupid, no? I am a Catholic, not a Muslim; I am under no obligation to observe their strictures about "blasphemy" -- we're not living under sharia law. Yet.

Now, like most Catholics, they tend to dislike when you remind them about a little something called the Inquisition (she dismisses it as "the first tool in every simpleminded secularist's little box of insults."), then again, I am sure other religions dislike being reminded of their past sins. But, that aside, I do have to agree with her last line because like her, and the rest of the Western world, guess what? We are not Muslims and under no obligation to observe their strictures. We are not under Sharia law, which if they had their way, everyone would have to follow. I bet not many people think about that. Her best lines comes a bit earlier in her post,

Of course, I'd have less to criticize [referring to criticizing Muslims] if a) they stopped killing people and b) moderate Muslims would do their job and tell their co-religionists to chill. I'm beginning to think that moderate Muslims are an urban legend, like the crocodiles in the sewers of New York.
And this is what really bothers me. That we hear about how all these moderates are out there, and how they supposedly condemn the hijacking of their religion. However, you never actually hear anything of substance done, and you sure as heck don't see them rising up in arms to tell their more radical brethren to shut the hell up. And as an aside, yes, I am aware that there are various socioeconomic issues at play when it comes to immigrants in Europe, but that does not create an excuse for certain people to behave like hordes of barbarians. However, this is not just Islam's followers. Christians have a record of their own when it comes to letting the radicals hijack their religion and then sitting idly by. I personally am starting to think that moderate Christians are another urban legend as well. Every time Pat Robertson calls for someone's assassination or Jerry Falwell does his latest pronouncement, you don't hear too many so-called moderates condemn them. You may hear secularists condemn them, but members of their own religion, rarely if ever. Why? Because in every case, Islam or Christian, they really have a sympathy for whatever it was those radicals said. They just do not have the spine to actually say they support it for fear of being labeled politically incorrect. Well, I am going out on a limb here and saying that these people should be denounced. Radicals who claim that we should all be goose stepping to their repressive visions need to be ridiculed, denounced, defied, and countered by whatever means, other than violence. Using violence will not only engender more violence, it will also make us stoop to their level, and we are better than that. And I will go on a further limb, and I will say that if you are a moderate, or claim to be one, and you stay quiet, you are enabling the problem. You need to be denounced, ridiculed, defied and countered as well for allowing your brethren to do horrible things in your name.

Unlike Kathy, I am not ready to call someone's belief stupid. . . yet. But as someone who is not terribly religious, in spite of being raised very religiously, I have to wonder about these religious people who use their belief to hurt others instead of making this world a bit better for themselves and everyone else. What's going on with the cartoons is just a symptom of a larger problem, one that over time, may get worse if good people of whatever belief or lack of belief fail to confront and denounce. It would be so much easier to stay quiet. To simply literally let them kill each other. Yet it is getting to the point that we have to say something. We have to shine the light on these punks, whatever their religion, and expose them to the world for the repressive thugs that they are. I like my freedom to express myself just fine. I may not agree with what you express, but I will certainly defend your right to express it. I will also defend my right to express myself if you try to take it away from me. Maybe it's time to draw a line in the sand, and say from this point on, we are not tolerating any more. Evil happens when good people stand idly by and do nothing. I, for one, would like to think I am at least somewhat of a good person.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Support Net Freedom

(Crossposted to The Gypsy Librarian)

I have been reading about this issue in the news here and there: Network neutrality. Educate yourself and then take a look at the NetFreedom Now Campaign because this can affect not only you and me, but anyone who needs or wants to have good access to the Internet and online world. Given that much of what we do is online now, this is something to be concerned about. I am specially concerned about the possibility that it may serve as yet another way to increase the gap between the haves and have nots. And considering that I already pay a king's ransom for my broadband connection, I am not buying the CEO's ideas about needing to charge more. Not to mention I am not thrilled over the idea that if I want to access certain content, they may ban it because it is a competitor or does not pay extra fees. So, as I said, get educated and go do something.

A hat tip to Laura's LIS.Dom, who also has the links for images like the one I used here.

Booknote: Northworld

Title: Northworld
Author: David Drake
Publication Information: New York: Ace Books, 1990
ISBN: 0-441-84830-3
248 pages
Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Science Fiction, Military Scifi

Commisioner Niles Hansen is in the middle of a hostage situation when the Consensus sends for him. Without much of an explanation, they take him from his work to send him on a new mission. The Consensus rules over 1,200 worlds, except for Northworld. They have send fleets, and none have returned. It is up to Commissioner Hansen to use his resourcefulness and solve the mystery. The book jacket advertises this novel as a novel of a world at war. It sounded like a great premise. However, after 60 pages or so, I just ended up skimming the rest of the book to get to the end. It was very slow at times, and after a while, it had a "been there, done that" feel to it. Drake, in an author's note at the end, says he drew on some Icelandic sagas for the plot. I think as a reader I will stick with the sagas and skip this novel. I had heard of Drake as an author to watch in this genre, and this was just a let down. The novel is first in a trilogy, but based on this, I am not picking the others up.

I would recommend instead Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. I have heard Elizabeth Moon is good for military scifi, so I may give her a try. I will let readers know.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Idea for a blog? Maybe some people have too much time on their hands?

From the blog 50 Books, an idea to create a toilet blog. The idea is to have a blog written while you have great thoughts while taking a porcelain cruise. The post's author did a search on Google, and found, amazingly enough, that there was no such a thing. I will let her describe the idea:

I had this idea the other day, that it would be cool (according to my rather specialized definition of "cool") to have a blog whose entries would be composed only while the blogger was sitting on the toilet.

The entry topics wouldn't have to be about what toilet-related activities the blogger was engaged in, but would instead just convey the stream of consciousness one experiences in those few (or long) moments one spends blankly staring at the wall opposite. Some entries would be enticingly brief. Others, tragically long.

Hmm, not exactly what I would call a great idea. I mean, if you have to be blogging in the bathroom, via laptop and wireless, you need to unplug. Not to mention what could happen if you have to find a place to put the laptop down while you have to wipe, in a small restroom. . .you get the idea. I would think of all places to take a break from being online, the bathroom would be it. She did find some interesting results, so go over and read the post. By the way, we are not even addressing those fetish blogs (nothing wrong with fetishes), but I will leave that to other Web surfers.

Remembering High School, or, well, it's just a meme

I picked this high school meme up from Pharyngula. I was not going to write it, but my wife just got an invitation to her 20 year high school reunion. She wants to go, so I will likely be driving her there. We are still thinking about it, but it also made me recall this meme, so I figured why not. Thus, here goes. Read at your own peril.

*Where did you graduate from high school and what year?

I graduated from Colegio San Antonio Abad, in Humacao, Puerto Rico. The year was 1988. A note is in order. In Spanish, the word "colegio" refers to a private school, and CSAA was a Catholic high school, run by Benedictine monks. The word confuses some people who think "colegio" means "college." The term "college" in English would translate in Spanish as "colegio." However, an institution of higher education, university or college, would be a "universidad" (university). Go figure. On an ironic note, I had a very Catholic education, and yet it made me very rebellious and critical. In fact, I am now a recovering Catholic, so to speak. Actually, heathen is probably a bit more accurate (haha). Just leave it at I can be somewhat spiritual, but nowhere near religious. Why did I go to a Catholic school? Public schools in Puerto Rico are notoriously bad (with some rare exceptions), and my father worked long and very hard to keep his boys out of them. He made a lot of sacrifices, but he made sure his boys got a good education. Catholic schools in Puerto Rico happen to be excellent in that regard. Keep in mind, this was way before the current scandals of sexual abuse.

*Who was your significant other?

I didn't have one. I fell in the "nerd" category; I even wanted to become an engineer. In retrospect, I should have known I was destined to be a teacher when I was doing all that tutoring in English classes for my classmates. I was so "bad" that I would do the reading on whatever the lesson for English was, Shakespeare or Poe or other short fiction, then basically explicate it for my classmates who gathered around like I was some college professor. Needless to say, my classmates liked it, but the English teacher was none too pleased. The problem? He knew the students did well, but he found out it was because of my "teaching," not because they actually read the stuff. Who knew I had a future in teaching? Actually, my mother knew, but she did not reveal it until later. Mothers always know; they just don't tell you right away so you have to learn on your own. That I leave for another story. At any rate, I did not have a significant other until I got to college. I was doing well academically in high school, good enough to get my classmates through English, but apparently not good enough for one of the girls. C'est la vie.

*Was your Prom a night to remember?

Yes, in the sense that it took place in a very fancy ballroom in a hotel in El Condado, an upscale sector in San Juan. Remember, I went to a private school. My parents may not have been wealthy, but a lot of my classmates were. Anyhow, other than the locale, not terribly memorable. Actually, what I do remember is that the next morning I was on a plane to New York to visit relatives. From there, we drove to Indiana (my father loves road trips. I get the gypsy wandering spirit from him) to do a campus visit to Purdue University in West Lafayette, where I was admitted to the freshman engineering program. The only reason I went to Prom is because I got the "it's a once in a lifetime event, and you should not miss it because you are young" speech. In retrospect, I probably could have skipped it with no regrets.

*What was your favorite song you danced to the night of Prom?

I danced, but I don't recall any one song.

*Do you own all four yearbooks?

No. I just own the one for senior year, and I think my parents paid for that one under protest. Also, I did my 9th grade at a different school, then the last three years of high school at CSAA. This meant some of my classmates had known each other for many years, and I barely came in at the end of the cycle, so to speak. In fact, my family moved a lot while I was growing up, meaning I was not in a school for a period of longer than three years.

*What was your favorite movie in high school?

The Star Wars trilogy (the original, not the new CGI enhanced, special effects laden new stuff. Back then, it was just a rumor Lucas had other movies before and after the first ones).

*What was your number one choice of college in high school?

Purdue University. I did get admitted to a few other places, but since I wanted to be an engineer, at the time it was the place to go. And while I did switch majors, it was still a good choice.

*What radio station did you jam out in high school?

There was more than one. I do remember Alfa Rock 106, in part because they had programs to play "both sides of an LP" (read here if you have no idea what an LP was). You could hear rock albums cover to cover.

*Were you involved in any organizations or clubs?

Very little in terms of what the high school offered. Part of the reason was carpooling in 9th grade, so it meant we left school as soon as the bell rang. Later, I got access to my mom's car, but not too much leeway to go with it. Being the eldest meant my parents watched me like hawks while my younger brothers "got away with murder." I think by the time they got to my baby brother, they figured as long as he does not do anything illegal, he is ok. Anyhow, I was somewhat involved in National Honor Society and Model U.N.

However, I was also a Boy Scout. My parents were extremely supportive of this. I cannot thank my father enough for his involvement with me, all the driving he did to take me to camps and activities. Heck, he would even give rides home to friends who were stranded, or whose parents were not as diligent. Hey, back then, you could do that. Today given how litigious people are, if the kid is stranded, you probably left him there rather than getting involved. But back then, families did watch out for each other. I could go to my friend's houses and just walk right in, and viceversa, and their parents knew me as my parents knew my friends. I am proud to say I am an Eagle Scout. I learned a lot of values and skills that serve me to this day. Actually, my close friends in high school years were scouts. By the way, none of them went to the school I did. Many of them went to public schools actually. At any rate, Scouting was also a way for me to see outside the shelter of the private school.

*What was your favorite class in high school?

English. Keep in mind that in Puerto Rico English is taught as a second language. I also liked Spanish (the literature, not the grammar) and history. Profesor Rosas, my history teacher was literally nuts (his tests were legendary feats of difficulty), but he sure made sure I learned about history (there is another story waiting to be written).

*Who was your biggest crush in high school?

None really. Yes, I liked girls as much as any other healthy hetero male teen, but I guess I was more focused in the academics.

*Would you say you've changed a lot since high school?

It's been 18 years: I sure hope so. I would like to think I have learned something since then.

*Your worst memory of HS?

Not applicable. These years were pretty tranquil overall. I did well academically and got along with my classmates ok. Weekends I was often in Scouting activities (those are the good memories actually).

*What do you miss the most about it?

Not much really.

*Did you have a car?

Yes, my mom's station wagon, a Chevy Malibu.

*What were your school's colors?

Blue and white.

*Did you own a cellphone?

In 1988? Get real, pagers were barely getting around. Heck, technology-wise, we were learning BASIC in computer class. Little did I know computers and then internet would be soon taking off. Seems like the Dark Ages now (or a simpler time?)

*Did you leave campus for lunch?


*If so, where was your favorite place to go eat?

Not applicable.

*Were you always late for class?


*Did you ever have to stay for Saturday School?

No. Anyhow, our colegio had no such thing.

*Did you ever ditch?


*When it comes time for the reunion, will you be there?

Probably not. A trip to Puerto Rico is a bit of a long way, and usually plane fare is expensive. Plus I hate airlines and their service (or lack thereof). Would be nice, but no strong feelings about it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

National Wear Red Day: Support Women's Heart Health

(Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian)

From the website:

"On Friday, February 3, 2006, National Wear Red Day, Americans across the country will wear red to unite in the national observance and to give women a personal and urgent wake-up call about their risk for heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) created and launched the Red Dress as the national symbol for women and heart disease to inspire women to take action to protect their heart health."

As son, husband, and father of a lovely daughter, I have more than enough reasons to wear my red tomorrow and show some support for an important and worthy cause. Some facts about women and heart disease include:
  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women.
  • One in every three women die of heart disease. One in thirty die of breast cancer.
If you go to the website and click under resources, you will find various datasheets, including the one where I found the little facts up above.

A hat tip to Emily's Musings.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Apparently Funny Women Turn Men Off

The Independent (UK) for January 29, 2006, in the article, "Why Men Don't Fancy Funny Women," reports on a study to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. Unfortunately, the article is already behind the archival wall. I picked up my copy via Lexis-Nexis. The finding is basically that men are ok with women having a sense of humor, just not women who actually express humor. In others words, men want them to laugh at their jokes, but they don't want women to be the ones telling the jokes. Here is another finding from the research, according to the article in the newspaper,

"The research project, which also involved academics from the University of Massachusetts and McMaster University, Ontario, showed that while men were not so interested in "humour-producing women" in long-term relationships, they showed a preference for such types when it came to short-term relationships and one-night stands."
Well, no one asked me. I like to laugh, so if a woman can make me laugh, more power to her. If she can make me laugh and have fun while in bed, hey, it sounds great. I guess the only thing may be if she points at a certain place and laughs or cracks jokes. Then again, that would turn anyone off. However, I think her laughing over that would open the door for me to point at certain places for her and make jokes too. Maybe in the end we would both laugh, and that would be a good thing. Less tension, then more relaxed, you get the idea. Then again, no one asked me.

Which reminds me of the Elton John song, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," specifically the chorus:

And I guess that's why they call it the blues
Time on my hands could be time spent with you
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that's why they call it the blues

Which reminds me, when I get home, I need to go spend some time with the one who shares my laughter and rolls under the covers with me.

A hat tip to the Stay Free Daily for pointing this out.