Category Archives: Best Idea Ever

Really really good ideas – mine or others.

Ukuleles in libraries

I’ve always thought there was room for the right library in the right community to have unconventional items for the community to borrow. It’s rare that I wish I had a crepe pan or electric drill, but when I do, I only want it for a couple of hours.

So it made my heart happy when I read a Library Journal article yesterday. It combines two of my favorite things: libraries and ukuleles (specifically, a library that circulates a ukulele).


Last night Michele came over, and we had breakfast for dinner. Gluten-free pancakes and pumpkin butter, sausages, and tiny little potatoes from the garden. The potatoes were fried in oil with salt, pepper, rosemary, Webers mustard, and maple syrup.

I keep thinking about the potatoes. I think I’m in love with the potatoes. I may make them again for lunch. We have so many tiny potatoes, I could eat them every day for a week.

Farmer’s daughter’s dilemma

I’m listening to The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, mostly as I walk around Cambridge and Boston, and when I’m weeding in the garden. (The latter being what I’ve taken to doing every morning.)

I’ve made it through the maize, past McDonalds, and into the beef industry. Having grown up on an Iowa beef (and corn and soy) farm, I have personal experience with Pollan’s topics. It seems that the farmers he interviews and what he chooses to include in the book does not always reflect my family’s farm, but that is to be expected. It does ring true though, from what I know. The problem is, I don’t actually know that much about how my father farms.

My reaction as I’m listening has mostly been mute awe at the industrialization and commodification of food – and all the ills and boons that come with it.

The last time I was home to visit my family, I got up the courage to ask my dad why he didn’t farm something other than corn and soy. He said there was no other crop (or crops) that would allow him to be as successful, as a one-man operation.

Field south of the house

I took this to heart – letting go of the fantasy of starting an organic vegetable farm with my brother, which would service the local population (a mere 30 miles away).

This morning, as I was listening to the audiobook and pulling crab grass, I learned about farmers who have eschewed industrial farming AND organic farming, electing instead to find a sustainable balance instead (neither industrial or mass-farming organically are doing this). Pollan describes a farm in Virginia that rotates cattle, chickens, and various other animals over grassland, in such a way that benefits each animal species as well as the grass (and dirt).

Granted, I get excited about things easily (look! a sign that reads ‘puppy sale’!), but I really feel that there is some answer for how to use the land my family already has, once the only farmer working it is retired. Sure, we could rent it to someone else — we could even sell it. I prefer to scheme ways to keep it going with Greens (my dad is the fifth generation).

Now I just have to stop loving living in Boston, and convince Jason to move to Iowa. Though he doesn’t like to talk about it, I think my dad would like to retire eventually, and I think taking over a farm and successfully keeping it running isn’t outside the realm of possibility. It makes my heart ache to think about it.

How an Iowan farmer looks

These photos were taken during the floods in June. The first is the field across from the house, and the second is my father, during one of the last days of rising water.


The joy I will be obtaining from life tonight will be in watching the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s my guilty pleasure show, and I am very much looking forward to watching dancy dancers dancing.

The most awesome part from last year was a guy who clogged. I’ve blogged about it before, and a year later it’s still true: when he transitions from ass shaking to clogging, I laugh out loud and tears form in my eyes.

Enjoy! I’ll be online during the show, if you want to talk snarkily about bad dancers or bad dance clothing. Or, um, work. Because I’ll also be working on making a screencast of LTFL.

What’s better than one Sonya?

Nothstar Cafe in Portland ME

Root beer cupcake, originally uploaded by sundaykofax.

Maybe not the best name.,
originally uploaded by sundaykofax.


At least two Sonyas! During my last LibraryWeek in Portland,
we decided that we could use some help getting everything done. We figured the best way to do this would be to clone ourselves and expedite the growth process. And then a quick trip for matching outfits (like all good twin sets).

Fighting fire with fire … I mean hunger with cookies.

Last week I posted about walking in the 40th Annual Walk for Hunger, and basically asking friends to kick in a little cash in my fundraising efforts (which are awkward at best).

This week, I decided that I needed to kick it up a notch. I’ve always had a problem with fundraising, ever since my days of Girl Scouts. I’ve made peace with this by pulling myself into the thing I know best.


This is just what I can do with bread. Just imagine the cookies.

Yeah, I said it. If you donate, any amount at all, I’ll send you a batch of my great grandma Bertha’s amazing oatmeal raisin or my extraordinary great aunt Gertrude’s chocolate chip cookies. It’s the only way I know how to raise money, so I’m doing it up GS style.

I’m trying to raise $1,000 to help hungry people, and I’m (as of this posting) 27% done. I hate asking for money, but I also hate world hunger, so this helps to solve both.

AND, if you donate $20 or more, I’ll also send you the zine I’m making about the whole thing, with both cookie recipes. (The only stipulation is that you refer to them as great-grandma Bertha’s or great-aunt Gertrude’s recipe.)

Now, who wants some effing cookies?

Product review: Furminator

My new friend Trinity mentioned that he keeps cat-hair-levels down by using the Furminator.


I agree. Stella liked being groomed (she fell asleep), and all this undercoat fur came off. It’s kind of gross and kind of awesome.

One of those pleas for a bit of cash

Hey all.

So, this is a blog post about how I’m going to be all noble and walk 20 miles in the name of eradicating hunger. I usually react negatively to these kinds of posts, because it sucks asking people for money. (And I’m still a bit traumatized from Girl Scout cookie selling as a child.)

Little Soy Blue


This has an altruistic intention, as well as a selfish one:
* No one likes hunger, right? So that’s easy. We can all feel good about fighting that.
* Walking a whole bunch of miles, as a massive group, makes me feel good – like I’m helping both raise money and awareness (and people watch me).


There are lots of reasons not to donate any money (and truth be told, you’re probably thinking of them now), but if any of these resonate with you at all (and you can spare $20 without impacting your own grocery budget), consider it:

1. Once you donate, it actually feels pretty good, and although $20 feels like a buncha money, it’s not, and the feeling you’ll have is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $7-$22.

2. You have guilty feelings when you walk by people who are homeless. Or general white guilt.

3. You can live vicariously through me. I’ll liveblog a couple times that day, so you can see beautiful Boston Commons and Cambridge and such. This is going to be fun, and I will enjoy it, and I will share!

4. This could be seen as karmic insurance, or a tax write-off, depending on your beliefs. (It’s both!)

So, effing click on RIGHT HERE and then click on the button, and then put in your credit card number, and you’re done. It’s easy. Stop being a baby.

I’m walking with Team Civitron and the Secret Society of Superheroes, which is (like it sounds) a bunch of super heros. Shhhh.

Thoughts on Radical Reference

If you haven’t heard of Radical Reference, it’s a group of librarians dedicated to providing information and supporting social justice. The thing that appeals most to me about the organization is the event-based work they do. The whole thing started with the 2004 Republican National Convention, where a group of librarians provided assistance to demonstrators (you can read more on their ‘about’ page).

I can just imagine being at a big group gathering, providing any information I can to whomever walks up to me. I suppose one interpretation of the ‘radical reference’ term is that it’s no-holds-barred, street reference. I figured the librarians would have to do some research beforehand to be as well-versed as possible, then use their wits to answer questions. Perhaps they could be in cell-phone connection to people at home in front of computers to answer more detailed questions.

Yesterday it occurred to me that with an iPhone, I can provide answers to practically any reference question, on the fly. The thought gave me (good) chills.

I’m spending the day working at the 303 Cafe, around the corner from where I live.

The owner asked if I could help another customer with a Mac get her laptop connected to the wireless network here. (It’s all weird for Macs, apparently, and requires manually adding an IP address.)

This other customer is a Canadian journalist who’s in town visiting. She’s probably my dad’s age, and she seemed to have the same approximate reaction that my dad has to my instructions. I suggested she write down the IP on a Stickie, so when she came back, she would definitely have the IP. She hadn’t used Stickies before, so I showed her that.

We began having a conversation about how she feels that she doesn’t have time to sort through all the possible technologies available to her, partly because she’s busy working, but also because she’s older. (I think her work ethic is also from a generation that doesn’t routinely veer to YouTube at the office.)

She asked me some questions about LibraryThing, and telling her about that (she didn’t believe that that many people still read books) lead to questions about other technologies all the way to me opening up SecondLife for her to look at.

(It was like a bizarre version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.)

By the time we were done, we had agreed that someone needs to start a website for people that separates the technological wheat from the chaff. Basically, I thought of it as a place where I’d write about technology that is either useful or likely to end up needing to know about, like I would explain it to my dad. There are lots of people (not only old people) who are capable of opening up a Word document, but are flabbergasted by the term RSS.

Now, I also assume that someone’s thought of this. I’ve already spent a good hour not working, and so I’ll leave it to someone else to discover it. (Or email me, and we can start a support site for old people.)

UPDATE! LibraryLaura totally had the answer: commoncraft. Laura says “he does videos on lots of different web 2.0 stuff ‘in plain english’ – they’re really cute and clever.”

Laura bonus: VoiceThread – ‘an online media album that can hold essentially any type of media (images, documents and videos) and allows people to make comments in 5 different ways – using voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam) – and share them with anyone they wish.’ (quote from the website)

Update II: Erin wrote in the comments: “have you seen Eons – the social networking site for seniors??