Friday, January 26, 2007

My peculiar aristocratic title

Well, it's Friday once again, so the few readers here know the semi-fixed drill for Fridays on this blog. Now, for this item, not that I have any aspirations to aristocracy in any way, shape, or form, but this was amusing. So, go get your title. By the way, if you don't like what you get at first, just get another one.

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
The Most Honourable Angel the Sage of Witchampton Under Buzzard
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

A hat tip to Liz's Library Tavern.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Booknote: The Godfather Returns

Winegardner, Mark. The Godfather Returns. New York: Ballantine Books, 2005.
ISBN: 0-345-47898-3.
Genre: Fiction

I finally finished this last night. Readers who enjoyed The Godfather will likely enjoy this book. The novel adds depth to the characters that readers of Puzo's novel already know as well as adding some new elements. I found the book engrossing and pretty fast paced. In fact, I put aside pretty much everything else I was reading for leisure to get through this one. Winegardner's novel takes place after the events in The Godfather. It then covers the time right before and after the film The Godfather, Part II. In The Godfather, readers get the early life of Vito Corleone in a flashback (that's seen in the second movie); in Winegardner's novel, we get to see Michael Corleone's early life including his time in the Marines. In the novel, Michael is trying to keep his promise of having the Corleones become legitimate. However, in spite of his efforts, it is just not meant to be, and no, I am not spoiling anything by revealing this. Anyone who has read the other book or seen the films knows Michael is unable to keep that promise. Winegardner's novel provides more depth and gives us a better glimpse of what happened. We also get some interesting perspectives. For instance, Clemenza dies, and we get to see Fredo's death from a different point of view. Michael now faces a nemesis in Nick Geraci, a man who worked his way up in the Corleone organization and is now gunning for his own position.

Like Puzo's novel, this one has a good share of sex and violence. Winegardner stays pretty close to the tone and feel of Puzo's work even as he is weaving a new tale. Overall, if you are a fan of Puzo's work, you will definitely enjoy this novel. If you read this novel first, you may feel a need to seek out the original work. The only thing that I quite did not like was the creation of a fictional U.S. president clearly modeled in JFK. I think they could have gone with keeping a bit of the historical, but then again, I suppose he needed that in order to have the mob connection in place. I mention it because in the second film one of the things I found fascinating, as a history enthusiast, was the scenes in Cuba as the Batista regime was about to fall. There is a sequel to this novel, but I am getting the impression from the reviews that it is not as good. I got the sense from reading this one that I got some nice closure overall. Overall, I do recommend this one, but I also strongly recommend reading the original. And by the way, while the films are excellent, the novel has a lot of details that the movies do not include.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Worst statements of 2006

Let's take one more look at 2006 before we get into the full swing of 2007. The Statement Bank has issued its list of the best and worst statements of 2006. I have to say there are some jewels in there. Some examples:

In the worst category:

  • "Is that possible? To time travel ...? Yes it is, Kevin! I think other
    people are ahead of us."

    Britney Spears to her (ex-)husband Kevin Federline, in an internet video.

Hmm, I think that pretty much explains itself. On a side note about Ms. Spears, Susie Bright gave her credit (Ms. Bright's journal has adult content, for those who may worry about that) for all of a sudden "Without the slightest feminist or artistic design, Spears has changed the public perception of what a mother-of-two's sexuality might be all about." I remember reading Ms. Bright's post (actually, she is one of my favorites on my reader) and wondering, well, if Ms. Bright would have flashed her cupcake (actually I used the other "c" word, but we try to keep this blog reader friendly), I would certainly be willing to give her credit as a revolutionary. Ms. Spears on the other hand, no way. Ms. Spears simply chose not to wear underwear and then flash the world. But don't take my word for it. If you go to Ms. Bright's journal, she has a link so you can take a look as well (I did, and I would have looked at Ms. Bright's too had she flashed. Now you know). Yes, that is the same Britney who says time travel is possible. Need we say more?

On the best statements:

  • "We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they
    have in Iraq."

    Vladimir Putin in response to George W. Bush's statement that his country
    should emulate democracy in Iraq.
  • "All those parents who are preoccupied with making demands on schools
    and teachers should rather spend some of their effort on raising
    their own children, so they don't turn into anti-social little

    Editorial in the Danish online publication "Ekstra Bladet."

I think the editorial quote is probably my all-time favorite. If those so-called parents with false and inflated senses of entitlement spent half the time they spend whining and blaming their kids' problems on everyone but themselves, maybe their kids would not be the messed up anti-social monsters that the rest of us have to cope with. Anyways, go read the rest of the statements.

Friday, January 12, 2007

One word, and just one word

This is one of those memes you do quickly without thinking much. Since it is kind of slow at the desk, I can get it done before I finish the shift. The instructions are simple: You can only type one word for every item. No explanations or clarifications. So, here goes:

1. Yourself: tired
2. Your spouse: nice
3. Your hair: black
4. Your mother: home
5. Your father: working
6. Your dream last night: none
7. Your favorite drink: Coke
8. Your dream car: bigger
9. Your bedroom: messy
10. Your fear: stupidity
11. What you want to be in 10 years: coordinator
12. Who you hung out with last night: spouse
13. What you’re not: lazy
14. Muffins: nope
15. Time: now
16. The last thing you did: read
17. What you are wearing: teeshirt
18. Your favorite weather: fall
19. The last thing you ate: bagel
20. Your life: ok
21. Your mood: blah
22. Your best friend: spouse
23. What are you thinking about right now? job
24. Your car: mercury
25. What are you doing at the moment? typing
26. Your summer: hot
27. Your relationship status: cool
28. What is on your TV? cat
29. What is the weather like? cool
30. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday

And there you have it. Picked up via Joy's Wanderings of a Librarian.

My politics fall on the borderline

Well, readers, it's Friday, so you know the semi-regular drill for this blog by now. It's quiz time. Damn, this one actually caught me to a "t" as they say. I have taken a few of those little political quizzes, and I often end up falling on the liberal side,yet feeling something was missing. While I do agree with a lot of liberal issues, I don't agree with all of them. There are some things I agree with offered by others. So, this little quiz, with 8 questions or so, at this point, has been the most accurate. On the one hand, I believe for instance in having a safety net for the less fortunate, but I am also very big on people taking personal responsibility for themselves and on the government staying the hell out of my personal life. In this case, both liberals and libertarians share in common the defense of civil liberties, something I hold dear as well.

You can find the quiz here, and if you go to the site, they provide further information on the various political options, so you can learn a bit more. A hat tip to the Annoyed Librarian. My results then:


You fall exactly on the border

of two political philosophies...




LIBERALS usually embrace freedom of choice in personal

matters, but tend to support significant government control of the

economy. They generally support a government-funded "safety net"
to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation

of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations,

defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action

to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.

LIBERTARIANS support maximum liberty in both personal

and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government;

one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion

and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual

responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes,

promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the

free market, and defend civil liberties.

The RED DOT on the Chart shows where you fit on the political map.

Your PERSONAL issues Score is 90%.
Your ECONOMIC issues Score is 50%.
(Please note: Scores falling on the Centrist border are counted as Centrist.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

The E-Tool Bill of Rights

I think it is high time we claim our freedom from electronic distractions and devices. Just because electronic devices make access to someone easy, it does not follow that access should be unlimited. I can definitely get behind some of these rights. The italics are my comments. Here are some items from the E-Tool Bill of Rights.

  • "Article 1: There shall be no assumption of unlimited e-access simply because the tools allow it. Excessive messaging shall be considered electronic littering." Enough already, and this goes to certain people, who shall remain nameless, with a bad habit of spamming my office inbox with every inane announcement from publishers or vendors at all times of the day.
  • "Article 2: The right of the people to be secure from unwarranted electronic work intrusions at home shall not be violated. Nights and weekends shall be considered unplugged zones." Absolutely. In fact, we screen calls at home with the answering machine as well. On weekend evenings, phone is taken off the hook until late in the morning. We both work long hours in the week, and the last thing we want is some dumbass telemarketer waking us up (known to happen). As for work, I leave work at the workplace. Once I walk out of the library on Friday, I forget about it until next Monday. Pure and simple. I did the taking work home bullshit when I was a school teacher, and those days are over. Weekends are our family time. Work will still be there after the weekend.
  • "Article 5: The time of the people shall be respected. Therefore, book-length thread emails, short acknowledgment notes ("Got it," etc.), and lame chain jokes shall not be allowed." For sure. To you out there who need to get your "I got it" note, or to send me some lame joke, stop it. I appreciate humor as much as the next guy, but I have a separate personal e-mail for the snark and humor. Learn to use that one, and it better be funny if I am bothering to read it. On a corollary, if you are one of those people who reads one article too many and feel a need to hit the forward button, think whether invading my inbox with it is really worth it, or you are just sending another fad thing you think is cute.
  • "Article 7: The people are not on vacation if they are still in contact with the office. There shall be no requirement while on holiday to carry pagers, or check email or voice mail." This one is a personal peeve of mine: people who have no idea how to unplug. Hey, get a clue: vacation is the time to relax and get away. Leave the goddamn laptop, crackberry, and cellphone back at home. If you have to carry the cell, it's for emergencies, and no, work, no matter the issue, does not count as an emergency during vacation. Place burn down? Sounds like you have a few extra vacation days to me. Learn to unplug. Your physical and mental health will thank you for it. And no, I don't care for you showing off your techno prowess because you carry two or more devices on vacation. Unlike you, my self-esteem is secure enough I can unplug.

Some of the other articles in this bill may be open to discussion, but that is part of the process.

A hat tip to the 43 Folders blog.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Had a nice time, back to work

Today is my first day of work for the spring semester after the holiday break. The students don't start until the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (January 16). So, we have two interim weeks of work in which I will try to get some small projects done before classes start, and things get busy for me. As a note, as of today, I already have two requests for library instruction.

This year, we did manage to make it up to Fort Worth to spend some time with family. Last year, someone got the flu (I think it was up there), and we stayed away. Since the better half had to work on Christmas Eve, it meant we did not go upstate until the 26th. My daughter and I spent a good part of the night tracking Santa on the Norad website (see my holiday post for link) We were home for the Christmas celebration and exchanging of gifts. We then went upstate and stayed through Friday the 29th. It was all good. We got to spend some time with my parents. My younger brother and his wife came over with their baby, so I got to see my 7-month old nephew. I also got to see my first grader nephew. Mom, who suffers from lupus, was looking a bit on the frail side, but she is as optimistic as ever. This is the woman, who when diagnosed, was told she only had about six or seven years left to live (I was probably very young when she was diagnosed as I vaguely recall it), and she has been going strong for a lot more than that. This is also the woman who, when I was going to get married, took a trip to Six Flags to ride roller coasters. She spent some time seriously sore, but she was not about to let anyone tell her she had to stay in a bed. Dad was doing well. We took a short shopping trip to some outlet mall not far from their home (I can't recall the name now); of course, it is a good time to go shopping, even if it is just window shopping, on the days after Christmas. Evening dinners with family were good as well. In fact, a big part of getting together in our family is sharing good meals together. On the last night, my parents made some very nice empanadas.

The better half and I also got some time to go visit the Stockyards. We have been there before, but we always enjoy taking a walk in the historical area as well as going to the shops. My personal reason to go there was to visit Lonestar Wines to do some wine tasting and buy some Texas wine. While I enjoy wines from around the world (Chileans are one of my favorites), I am also a believer in consuming the local products. When I lived in Indiana, we bought Indiana wines. So, we are in Texas now, we buy Texas wines. By the way, Texas does produce some excellent wines, so if you are interested, here is some information. I like going to Lone Star because they carry wines from all over the state, so I can get items from wineries that I would not be able to visit right away. We tend to like buying at the winery, but hey, Texas is a big state. It may take us a while to get to some places. On an interesting note to wine enthusiasts, I have noticed that wineries here are more likely to charge a fee for wine tasting; a few bucks for anywhere from 5 to 8 tastes is not uncommon. Back in Indiana, and in other Midwestern states I have visited (Illinois and Michigan; I think the one I went to in Wisconsin may have charged, but that was eons ago), the wine tastings are usually free. Actually, over there, a winery that charges was very rare. I guess the sense of hospitality differs, or it may be something to do with local laws. Anyhow, just an observation.

Since the better half had to work again for New Year's eve, we were home for that celebration, and we popped the champagne at midnight. Actually, a very nice and simple sparkling white zinfandel. For the little one, we had some sparkling grape juice on hand as well. We hope that 2007 will turn out to be a better year than 2006. 2006 had a couple of bad moments that we would soon rather forget. But, as my father would say, we all have our health, and we are together, so in the end, things turned out well.

So now, I am back at work. By the way, we are not quite done celebrating in my household, as we will be receiving the Three Kings this weekend for the Epiphany celebration. While we are pretty secular in our home, the celebration is a very significant one in Puerto Rico, so this is one of the traditions I bring in so to speak. My daughter gets a kick out of it because the Three Kings bring presents too. As tradition dictates, we will leave our shoeboxes filled with some grass for the camels to feed on the night before. In our home, we have a little addition to the holiday traditions. We do put out a little creche scene. The way it works, sometime in December, we set up the stable. Then Mary and Joseph, with their donkey, set out in their travel towards Bethlehem and the stable. So, Mary and Joseph start at one end of the apartment, and they gradually move closer until they get there. Our daughter gets very excited when she sees that they have moved when she gets up in the mornings. Of course, it is slow travel, since Mary and Joseph were on foot, and the young bride was pregnant. Once the couple got the stable, they would wait for the baby to be born, and the baby arrives on Christmas morning. Since we celebrate Epiphany as well, it means the Three Kings are travelling now from the Far East to bring their presents to the baby. The idea comes from a tradition that my cousins back in Puerto Rico do with their nativity scene where they do not put the baby in the manger until Christmas. We added the notion of the characters traveling. As a note, in Puerto Rico, the "big" holiday is Epiphany. Christmas, with Santa Claus, as it is mostly known in the States was something the Americans brought to Puerto Rico, and it stuck. Actually, the celebrations back home are something I sorely miss. While I am mostly settled up in the States, I still think that being in Puerto Rico for the holiday season is probably the best place to be. Maybe writing about that would make a nice post in the future.

Anyhow, I am back at work today. Mostly a day to see what has filled up the inbox. I worked the reference desk in the afternoon, and at this point, business is mostly some people applying for admission and so on (we are open admissions) for whom we provide computer access if they show a valid ID. Otherwise, it is pretty quiet. I will be catching up with my feed reader, another thing I unplugged during the holiday. Well, I just did not feel like reading LIS related posts for one. For us, the holidays are about family and being together with the ones you love. The feeds, the inbox, so on are not going anywhere.

So, Happy New Year 2007.