Category Archives: Rantlet

All bitching, moaning, groaning, whining, and vitriol.

Partner points

I used to think that it was lame for women to know all about what their husbands were into. I thought is smacked of male-dominated relationships. You’re not actually into model trains/ham radios/historical recreations/bonsai, so why are you talking about it, and using the pronoun ‘we’ even though we’re the only two people in the room?

Anyway, I’ve recently realized that being involved in your partner’s interests means more to share and enjoy together. I knew this, of course, but today I was able to use what I’ve learned from Jason’s L33T skills and start-up knowhow when applying for a sweet sweet job (that I won’t be talking about until I know if I’m actually in the running). Then I read an email from a favorite aunt, and allofasudden it hit me that the interest and knowledge she’s gained from being married to a conifer expert has made her an expert too, and it’s a cool, neat thing. Now that I think about it, I know that there’s no way she’d get this into conifers if she didn’t already have an interest. Having a partner super-into it just makes it more likely that you’ll learn more.

So I think there should be some sort of nomenclature for this, a rating of how much you know about architecture, or dancing, or cattle, or programming because you spend your free time with someone who’s interested in it too. Partner points? Personal interest rating?

I’d say I have a healthy knowledge of Internet start-ups just by being with my partner, and I want to be able to convey that in a cover letter without sounding too wifey.

And now maybe I can find a way to get Jason knitting.

(Disclaimer: Jason has knit a potholder, in 2003 I think, but I think giving him some circular needles and letting him knit a hat would be more effective.)

(Disclaimer disclaimer: Jason knit said potholder when we first met, when doing things like knitting and playing Super Mario Sunshine are important to culling a good relationship.)

Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper

When I lived in Chicago, a routine Sunday morning event would be for Jason, Jake, and I to haul our hung-over asses to Greatland Target on Elston. We could pick up kitty litter, and eat at the micro Pizza Hut housed within. The soda was available to customers, and there was a Coke-themed soda set-up to make yourself flavored Cokes. At some point, Jake and I discovered that Dr. Pepper and chocolate syrup made an elixir so wonderful that I swear to god, it cured our hangovers. (Not really.)

Ever since seeing the ads for the new (and apparently limited) Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper, I’ve of course been on the lookout. I’ve searched the gas stations and grocery stores of the greater southcoast area, with no luck.

Finally, post Boston-move, I found it. Kind of. At the Shaw’s (grocery store) in my neighborhood, I found 12-packs of DIET Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. No 2-liters of diet, no un-diet options. I don’t like diet soda, and I certainly don’t like 12 of any soda, but the box said “limited edition”, so I decided this might be my only chance to try the effing Brigadoon of soda.

I came home, put away the groceries, and pulled out a CCDrP. My brother called, and we talked about my move, his multiple-snow-day week, and I mentioned my beverage. It turns out, he had been on the same quest, and had finally found diet CCDrP in 2-liters form.

We agreed it sucks.

It’s aptly named, in that it tastes more like cherry than chocolate. It totally tastes diety, which regular Dr. Pepper is famous for avoiding. You can’t really taste the chocolate, which was the big draw for me.

So, if you can try regular, non-diet Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper in a can, give it a try. Post me a comment. If not, BEWARE. You were warned.

Why are there no Babysitter’s Club readalike lists?

I’m just going to use Outsidecat to rant on reference questions I get.

Since my library has such a small space, we tend to get rid of things that don’t circulate – series takes up a lot of space, and although the occasional young person (or adult) inquires about them, it’s not worth the real estate.

A 19-year-old patron came in looking for the Babysitter’s Club series. As I asked her questions, I inferred that she had a low reading level. BSC is a great hi-lo (high interest, low reading leve) series – the language isn’t very difficult, but there’s enough responsibility and teen angst to appeal to older readers.

I found a few readalike lists that included BSC, but they all seemed to be about a younger age group. What I wish the interslice tubes could send me is a list of books like BSC for hi-lo readers.

Conspiracy tooth

Why is it that I find it so hard to believe that there isn’t a conspiracy about flossing? Every dental assistant and dentist I’ve ever had have urged me to floss daily, and no one I know does.


I’ve been mulling over the idea of storebought.

This is my first Christmas working as a librarian in a public library. I’m learning that part of being the public library here is getting Christmas presents from patrons. We have about 10 boxes and tins of treats in the back, that we’ve slowly been working our way through since Thanksgiving. The first Whitman’s sampler was gone in a few hours. After that, as the boxes and tins started rolling in, I began to realize that I needed to be very careful. If I didn’t pay attention, I’d ingest a few thousand extra calories each day.

As I looked over our selection, I realized that what I wanted to spend my caloric pennies on was homemade snacks. Food with no preservatives, with taste in mind rather than presentation.

I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, which took place in midwest frontier America. During Laura’s life, there were several scenes of experiencing the difference between homemade and storebought. In this context, ‘storebought’ meant hard candy, calico print fabric, and other items simply unattainable from the prairie, but magically available through Sears and Roebuck. I could imagine how nice it would be to give up wearing wool underwear for some nice, soft cotton.

At what point did homemade become the new storebought?

Turkey Day

As a children’s librarian, I am obligated to celebrate the major holidays. For storytime today, I chose the rite-of-passage craft of making hand-turkeys. I’m sure I don’t even need to explain what they are, for everyone knows.

I’ll show you anyway, because it’s so quintessentially American:
Hand turkey

I’m not a big theme-girl, so I’ve never tried to craft a storytime theme all about bears, or about flowers, or whatever. Today, though, I felt the need to present a Thanksgiving-related series of stories. As I crouched near the Thanksgiving books, looking for age-appropriate stories, I realized that at least half of the stories were about turkeys. In every single book, the point of the story was that the assumption would be that the turkey would be eaten, and in the end, it would not. I don’t know if this is a common theme because it’s an early lesson in plot twists, or because secretly all children’s authors are vegetarian.

I could have easily made the theme of this week’s storytime “Where Meat Comes From”, and open the eyes of those three-year-olds who don’t realize that turkey is made out of turkeys. I chose not to. That’s not my fight. Not this time.

The Trees Fight Back

From one of my favorite comics, The Perry Bible Fellowship:

The Unforgiving Tree

I was always weirded out by the original. I understand the analogy to be that of a caring adult – ready to give the shirt off their back to make the next generation happier. I think that paradigm is outdated.

Kids are assholes with cell phones. With all the baby boomers, you’d think the we could rewrite the story. You come to the tree, it talks to you, it gives you some apples, you leave with the apples, then you come back and mulch it, then spray for tent worms.

I’m not afraid of being afraid.

A great culmination of current events, environmental politics, and a Salon article have finally made me realize why I love knitting and apocalyptic movies so much.

First, the Salon article, which envelops the current events and environmental politics – “The oil is going, the oil is going!” by Katharine Mieszkowski. It outlines the current ‘peak oil’ point of view, which is those who believe our oil supplies may crash – within the next few years, even – and are taking efforts to ‘power down’ (using less) and figure out how they’re going to weather the storm.

See, here’s where we get to apocalyptic movies. Where do I begin? Tank Girl is my favorite movie, and it’s set in post-asteroid, arid Earth. The Day After Tomorrow is a global-warming tale. Every zombie movie ever made covers how one survives once the zombies come.

Now add my desire to spin and knit myself a sweater out of anything available. And my mad campfire skillz. And my secret dream of living in a treehouse.

It’s never come together like this until I read the oil article. I’m totally down with the peak oil crew. I don’t know if we’ll actually have fuel Armageddon in the next couple of years, but I would LOVE to make a radical change to the way I live (and everybody else). Rooftop garden? Solar panels? Handmade clothes? No car? I’m ready.

I’m sure there will be things I’ll lament (pink hair dye?) but I like the idea of living closer to what allows me to live. I want to appreciate what I have. I want to NOT OWN 10 hoodies. But until peak oil or the zombies come, I don’t know that I have the willpower to get rid of them.

It just occured to me that another reason why I desire this semi-Luddite life is that it wasn’t that long ago that my ancestors lived off the land. My home is a fifth generation farm. I come from self-sustaining folk.

In the immortal words of E. Guss, “I’m so mad I could spit.”

AmeriCorps As you probably know about me (because I CANNOT keep from dropping the ‘I was a firefighter’ thing) I was in AmeriCorps*NCCC. The NCCC stands for National Civilian Community Corps, and it’s been a modern-day version of FDR’s CCC program (back during the Depression) – you know the guys, they built many of the buildings and trails in the national parks in our country.

I was in Year 8 of the NCCC. It was October of 2001-August of 2002. I spent 10 months in the program, and I can say without a doubt that thus far in my life, it has been the most impacting, interesting, eye-opening, exciting, thought-provoking, bonding, tough, neato adventure I’ve had. Ever ever.

That’s why I’m so disappointed and discouraged that the 2007 national budget doesn’t have room for it. There has been a budget cut within AmeriCorps. Half of the total budget cut is the elimination of the NCCC program. They cite high costs of the program and being “rated poorly in a recent Federal management assessment”.

I’m not surprised at either of these reasons. We were fed and housed, had a 15-passenger van (with a gas card), uniforms, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and an administration team back at the campus to keep things running. That’s pretty costly, compared to the other volunteer programs AmeriCorps runs.

And as for management, it’s a government program, for Cripe’s sake. Of course it was manged in a ridiculous fashion.

But it was also the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, and outside of joining the Peace Corps (which I still may do), it’s one of the most amazing things someone young can do as far as up-to-your-elbows volunteering.

I’m really disappointed. My heart is hanging low in my chest today. I want there to be a solution – I want there to be a small organization that wants carry on the tradition – providing national-level volunteering for all sorts of kids all over the country.

And not to get really bitchy about the whole thing, but the announcement mentioned that they were closing the NCCC despite its popularity – especially the disaster services it provided. My first day of training, in Washington, D.C., was less than a month after the Tragic Events of September 2001. I have a photograph of a still-smoking Pentagon, as we drove by it. After training, half of our campus immediately went to New York City and began helping FEMA and the Red Cross with disaster services. I didn’t go because I continued on to firefighting training – and saved taxpayers $300 a day (my estimate, after talking to the paid crew) by being on a volunteer fire fighting team.

And Hi, New Orleans? God knows how many NCCCers are recovering from the emotional drain disaster relief brings. We are all disaster-relief trained, meaning we are a movable set of squads of people ready to help in the event of a disaster. I don’t think right now is the time to get rid of a program that provides that particular service. I was talking to a State Farm trainer for their claims-adjustment department, and he said they’re not only hiring more national catastrophe adjusters, they’re keeping them in the lower states – because weather predictions are that this isn’t the last of Mutha Na-tcha coming to get us.

I had a life-altering experience, which is pretty standard for everyone who goes through the program. I met friends who I love, even if we’re spread quite evenly across the United States. I mourn all the things this means about our country’s ability to manage a budget, stay out of ill-reasoned wars, provide meaningful opportunity to its young adults, and instill the feel of altruism in its citizens.

And I’m very, very glad that I DID apply, and WAS accepted, and DID go volunteer with the NCCC, because I met one of my best friends there. Too fucking bad he’s dead.

OH, and apparently I’ve ranted about the scrutiny of AmeriCorps*NCCC before.