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Monday, June 9, 2014

Third of 23 Things

I don't foresee using a lot of apps because my only mobile device is a tablet, and I don't carry it around with me all the time.  Some very useful work-related apps I've used are Scan Inc.'s QR Code Reader and the Twitter app.  I used the code reader to test a QR code I created for linking to the library's downloadable magazine instructions page.  The Twitter app is great because I use the camera on my tablet to take photos for library tweets, and it makes it super easy to do it all on the tablet.  Other fun/useful apps I've used regularly are Dropbox, Google SkyMap, and Pandora.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Second of 23 Things

Some of the attempts to provide tips and tricks are helpful, but for me, trial and error seems to be the best teacher.  The manufacturers' guides are a good jumping-off point, though.  Mine clued me into some of the many functions and fun things I can do with my tablet, and the I fumbled my way through them to learn how they work. Some nice breakthroughs were figuring out how to move app symbols around (by dragging to the side of the screen first, then to another spot on the page or to another page) and the clipboard function.  Now I know how to copy and paste.  Still miles to go before I sleep...

First of 23 Things

What do I hope to get out of this class on using mobile devices? Several things. I hope to gain an understanding of  people's fascination with mobile devices. I hope to learn if and how these devices can be used to more widely promote library resources and programs that will enrich people's lives. I like how they appeal to all generations and the way I've seen folks share information about how to do different things with them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Irish awakening

When I was growing up, I had a combative relationship with the one grandparent who was present in my life, my maternal grandmother.  (The other three grandparents died quite young.)  I don’t really know why, but we didn’t get along until after I’d gotten through the worst of the hormonal years.  Maybe it’s because we were too alike in some ways.  As I got older I grew to appreciate her rock-solidness, her work ethic, and her devotion to family.  She was like a second mother to me and my eleven siblings.  Her parents immigrated to New Jersey from Poland. She was born in Ramapo, NY, and later moved to Chicago and married another Pole.  Although she Americanized her last name (eliminating lots of consecutive consonants), she continued to speak Polish with my mother and made Polish sausage that was second to none.  The other half of my genetic make-up is Irish, and I have an unmistakably Irish first and last name.  It’s a bit ironic when people joke about it when they hear my name (“Gee, are you Irish?!?”) because I have always identified more with my Polish heritage.  I always point out that I am half-Polish when the subject comes up. 

I first had a kind of awakening of the Irish spirit in me when I read Pat O’Shea’s The Hounds of the Morriganas an adult.  I had read other contemporary Irish writers (Frank McCourt, Nuala O’Faolain, Betty Smith) and saw traits in some of their characters that I recognized in the male members of my family, but really, theirs were just good books in a long list of good books I’d read.   The Hounds of the Morrigan, on the other hand, stood out as magical, and it opened a window on to a cultural past I wanted to be connected to.  This Ireland was a mysterious place that had some innocence—no famines, no sectarian violence, just two utterly charming children setting out on a quest to save the world they knew from the wicked tripartite goddess Morrigan and the evil serpent Olc-Glas.  It was easy to get totally absorbed in it, and I remember laughing out loud in places.  An especially hilarious passage describes an encounter between Bridget and Pidge, the two young protagonists, and a reluctant watch-frog. This is a book that stays on my “keep forever” shelf. 

Have you stumbled on any books that unexpectedly struck a chord with you and your cultural identity? Or, to probe a little deeper, with your spirituality? 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome to the garden!

Welcome to the inaugural post of Pocket Garden.

First of all, the name: It comes from the Chinese proverb A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. Need I say more?

This blog is for readers who like to share opinions about what they’re reading (or not reading, and why not), get reading suggestions, talk about the art of writing, and wax poetic about reading in general. My thinking at this point is to highlight a different book in each post. I haven’t chosen a first book yet, though, so to get this off the ground, I’d like to start by throwing out a GIANT idea.

I am a little embarrassed to say that this topic was inspired by the Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In general, I am not a fan of fantasy. I don’t have a lot of patience with magic in books, which always seems haphazard in its effectiveness. However, I do like the references to myths and legends in Rowling’s series, and the audio versions make for good listening on long car trips. I was listening to Order of the Phoenix on one recent interminable drive, and there is a segment in which Hagrid and Madame Maxime, two half-giant/half-humans, venture into the land of giants to try to persuade them to join in the fight against the Dark Lord. It put me in mind of the D’Aulaire’s beautiful Book of Norse Myths, which I didn’t discover until I was an adult. That, in turn, led to the memory of the first time Thor made an impression on me, thanks to Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Inserting a Norse god into modern life was a captivating idea. There’s something about those big buffoons I can relate to, somehow. Maybe it has to do with being tall and clumsy and occasionally cranky.

So when did the giants die out? There are giants in the Bible, in mythology originating in many cultures (Greek, Roman, Norse, Jewish), and, of course, in fairy tales. Has anyone in recent centuries besides Douglas Adams (and fantasy writers) been brave enough to play with the idea that giants are still among us? A book called The Giant’s House: A Romance by Elizabeth McCracken came out in 1996. I recall that it had a librarian as a main character, so it seems like required reading for me, but I never did read it. How about you? It’s now high on my to-read list, and I think it’s time I re-read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

Have you found that anything from the myths and legends you are familiar with to have stuck with you through the years?

Books mentioned in this post:
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling  more info
  • The Giant's House:  A Romance by Elizabeth McCracken  more info
  • The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams  more info
  • D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire  more info