Monday, December 19, 2011

The end of something...


So the end of my first Fall semester at Post has finally come and gone. What are some impressions that I've taken from it? Well, it was really busy and some of the veteran librarians thought so as well. I really didn't know what to expect when it came to how many classes I would teach but with teaching the Library Competency Workshop and the normal BI classes, it ended up being a lot of teaching once the semester kicked into gear. I also think a part of the rushed feeling was from the post-strike hangover.

The students are generally cool. I had a really good group for the workshop class I taught. Some of the walk up students at the reference desk can be a little out there from not really knowing what they are looking for but, hey, that's what we are for, right? To show them how to find what they need. My co-workers are great and really helpful, and I am not just saying this because they may find this post at some point. To make a short story long, we work in cubicles which means that everyone is up in each others business. The upside is that you are not secluded and cut off from your co-workers (and I am sure you can imagine what the downsides are) so you can get a lot of feedback and get into conversations that can spawn ideas and creativity.

Good stuff here so far but I haven't had to deal with the powers that be too much and the publishing aspect hasn't kicked in to full gear so my thoughts after the end of the next year might be drastically different.

LL
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Will this get me into trouble?


Today, it seems like the first time in a really long time, I am in an uber writing mode. I need to get some stuff out, on the page (screen), out of that cavernous black hole that is my ginormous cranium. What to get out? Well that is up to debate, I just need to write...something.

So, I start thinking of some topics to write about, some stuff at work like the committee meeting yesterday or the union meeting I attended. Then some paranoia started to set in. What if someone actually reads this blog? I mean, it is possible that someone could stumble upon this little corner of the interwebs and read what I have to say. Would that be like finding a needle in a haystack or a deposed ex-leader in a drain pipe? Could happen. And what if it was someone with someone who would take my idiotic ramblings to heart and may even be someone from work like that committee meeting or that union or even worse, administration. Dun-Dun-Dun! Or done-done-done, which is what I would be if the right people took the wrong thing away from this veritable cornucopia of bloggy goodess.

So should I worry? Will anyone read this? Is anyone out there? Will the 24 film ever get made?

Nah. Go about your business you wacky bibliophile. Oh, and make quick with those book reviews.

Right-O, getting on that now.

LL
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Will Post More, I Will Not Fall Behind!


I Promise, I promise.

I have about four entries that are in the works and they've been in the works for a while. I would finish them now but the battery on the MacBook is at 9%. I'll keep up to date, I will I will.

Ok, enough of that. Back to the writing....or the charging of the MacBook.

More to come from the LL!!!

(I like referring to myself as the LL, makes feel like The Rock.)
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Teaching the Library, man.

O'Fallon Public LibraryImage via Wikipedia"Teaching the Library" is, like, going to be my new mantra/catch phrase/battle cry or whatever they call these marketing lingo type promotion thingies. I am going to own it, man. Co-opt it, make it my own or any other FOTM phrase you would use. It's going to be near and dear to my heart because that's what I do, I teach the library, man.

So, what in the wide, wide world of sports does that mean? Well I'll tell ya pilgrim. It means teaching what a library does and what to do with the library. And it's not shine it up real nice, turn is sideways...I digress. That's what I get, and you now get, when I write while I'm at Starbucks getting all hopped up on latte train. Back to some semblance of normalcy, what I teach, essentially, is how to do research, more specifically , how to find the sources that you need for your research and how to pick and choose the right sources to use. That's how I view it, my job is to teach you to do your research without needing me.

That can't be too hard, right? Au contrair mon frere! It's not that the teaching part hard, for me anyway since I have a teaching background so other librarians might disagree. What the tricky part is, is getting through to the students, especially the younger ones, that what I am trying to teach them is important and that they really don't know how to do this stuff. I guess this is the lament of all educators, especially nowadays, impressing the importance of education in general to the students with educators under attack and the shift in educational thinking that the purpose of education is to get a good paying job. Now, I feel myself stepping up to the soapbox so I'll refrain and leave those musings for another post.

So back to issue at hand. Essentially I see what I do as important, and maybe a bit more if I do say so myself, as the content classes that the students take. They need to develop critical thinking skills and need to know how to find quality information. Not just information but information that is relevant to their needs, reputable and accurate, how to do this in an efficient manner and to use the information properly. Let's face it, with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, these skills aren't being focused on and valued so I see students come to university totally unprepared in this area. It's not being covered and I doubt the university professor is going to cover it in class so this is where I come in. Hopefully, the professor will schedule with me some time for their class but professors are reluctant to take away class time from their content to teach this skills.

So what do we do? To quote from a fave movie of mine, "We're in a tight spot". At all levels we need to impress the importance of being information literate, or transliterate if you want to use that FOTM term. And of course on my end, we as librarian/educators need to continue to teach the library in whichever role the job asks of us.

More than just my two cents this time, you got a nickels worth.

LL
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Deadline by Mira Grant

Deadline gets me back into the zombie swing of things though, like its predecessor, its a zombie book that is not really a zombie book but it has zombies....sort of.

The set up is, there was a zombie outbreak over a decade ago and life has normalized as much as it can in a world where zombies are real. The virus is still out there and outbreaks can happen if you "amplify" for whatever reason thus becoming a zombie. Blood tests are abound to make sure you won't amplify so we're talking about major paranoia. Add in the shift in news and media since the outbreak, as the established media poo-pooed stories of zombies so no one really trusts them anymore. Enter the blogger, your man on the street so to speak with a mic and a camera who is going to give the news to you as it really is, no filter.

That's the world of Deadline, and it's predecessor, Feed. This book shifts the narration to Shaun Mason from his sister Georgia Mason from the first but it still follows the Mason blogging crew as they investigate, more like get swept into, another conspiracy involving the Kellis-Amberlee virus, the virus that caused the zombie mayhem. I was eager to see this play out as Shaun is the risk taker of the two with Georgia being more practical. I thought we would get a more actiony story this time around but that really isn't the case. This was more of the conspiracy tale and there were points where the paranoia is ratcheted up and one point in particular stands out as the tension builds and you feel the paranoia the characters feel and then...well I'll leave that for you to find out. My one big disappointment with this book however is that Shaun turns into a bit of a whiner. All right, we get it already dude, no need to whine for the whole book. He was the tough, reckless action man in the first book, here he is just a whiney little bitch. I was hoping someone, anyone, me perhaps, would slap him and snap him out of it. Some character try but he goes back to whine central. That and the "cliffhanger" ending is pretty much telegraphed.

A solid entry but not as great as I hoped.

My Grade: B-

LL
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch with the Prez and VP

Working LunchImage via WikipediaAs typical with how fate weaves her ironic web in my life, I attended a couple of faculty functions in the past two weeks and ended up with some prime seating. First was a new faculty shindig to introduce us newbies to the various power players in the university and to see what some of the faculty support departments have to offer. Now this was an all day event with the new faculty being introduced and faculty speakers and all that jazz. We had assigned tables like a wedding and were fed pretty nicely, which is why I am sure some people made it a case of being there, free eats.

It figures that the table I am assigned to is the table the president of the university is assigned to as well and not only that, he decides to sit next to me. To my credit, I only managed to embarrass myself once which is quite a surprise for anyone that knows me. He asked where I was coming from and I went on about how the traffic was pretty light coming from Babylon. Of course that is not what he meant and he was asking from what institution I was coming to LIU from. I fairly quickly recovered and continued to schmooze with the prez and hear all about his time as a faculty member at Michigan before I was born. Now he's my new bff. Ok, not really but I like to tell people that.

The next function/opportunity to embarrass myself was at a brown bag lunch that the VP of Academic Affairs held for non-tenured faculty to bring up with him any concerns, issues or questions we may have about pretty much anything. A couple of us junior faculty from the library went together which makes sense since the library got the shaft in the contract negotiations. And just like the function with the President, and Academic VP sits next to me for lunch. Now I have to be extra careful not to eat like an animal and have bits of food and spittle hit the VP in the face, though I am sure that would have scored all sorts of brownie points with some of the senior faculty but screw that, they have tenure already and I don't. Luckily with this pow wow I didn't embarrass myself at all, and I think I acquitted myself rather well. I went on and on about the library and the road blocks we face all without the spittle and stammering then I shut my trap when some of the others chimed in after I broke the ice a bit.

All in all (I like that term in case you hadn't guessed by now), I actually came away liking those poor sods. And I call them that because almost no one likes them. I get the spin that was going on and see through it, though maybe not through it a lot if I liked them, but I come in with a clean slate and I am going to afford them that courtesy.

My two cents.

LL
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Turn out the lights....

And so it ends. The strike is over and it is back to work tomorrow but I don't think things will be back to normal for a while. The deal is a pretty crappy one but I think a lot of people were scared to the vote passed overwhelmingly. It's a pretty crappy deal especially for the librarians and I can't help but be a little bitter because it was transparent what was happening and everyone knew and acknowledged that the librarians were taking it on the chin and the vote still was what it was.

Now that I have had a night to sleep on it (I wrote the first paragraph yesterday right after the vote) I can honestly say that I am still feeling bitter. I tried to look at it that I am in a better place, career wise, than I was before I took this job but morally and ethically something still sticks in my craw. Regardless of the department or group that got the short end of the stick, and this time it happened to be us in the library, I still find it ethically impermissible to feed the beast this way, at someone else's expense. And that's what just happened. Maybe it's my naive idealistic ideals that I still cling to and maybe this is just the way things are and I just have to accept that this is par for the course. The thing is, I can't just shrug my shoulders and say c'est la vie and call it a day. That would be counter to who I am and those naive idealistic notions that make me who I am and are a part of me like my big nose.

It' s a tough pill to swallow and I guess I'll get over it soon enough but it still doesn't change what happened and what they accepted. Now it's time for me to be accepting.

LL

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strike!

strike logoImage by ...MurPHy-MRF... via FlickrYes, that's right, we are on strike. What a bummer.

Here I am, thinking I have my dream job, and it still may be, but to have this contention so early on is distasteful to say the least.

Now as one of the junior faculty that this strike is supposed to look out for, I can't help but still feel a little bit vulnerable. I am wholly appreciative of the senior faculty for taking this stance for us. It would have been easy for them to just take whatever was offered figuring they had made their money already or were going to retire soon anyway and leave us younger faculty holding the bag. We have to walk a fine line with showing our appreciation and supporting the union and the strike but also we must be mindful of the internal politics that could be a factor. In other words, we don't was to piss off the wrong people being so new and easily replaceable in a way.

It's not just ticking people off, it's being seen as a person that is not on board or not having the institution's best interests at the fore even though we want to place to succeed because that is good for us in the long ru if we plan on being there for the long run. And let's be perfectly clear and honest, I see a big step in the university being successful is its ability to keep good, younger faculty members that are going to grow and be the academic future of the place. If they can't keep us, with places very close getting much better deals, then the who does have the future of the institution as a priority?

As a colleague of mine so eloquently and appropriately said, "This sucks."
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gearing up for the start of the Academic Year (My fist at CW Post)

Cover of "Back To School (Extra-Curricula...Cover via AmazonThe time is almost here after a slow summer of trying to find stuff to keep me busy. I am prepping for the library section of the College 101 class that I am doing as well as prepping for covering the students that can't get into the library workshop hence they will need tutor or one-on-one time so they can eventually pass the library competency exam.

Add into those things that I have my first review in October/November and need to have my personal evaluation in by the beginning of October. Then there are the day-to-day duties such as covering the reference desk and the committee work that will be coming my way and the beginning of the term looks to be very busy and very stressful.

Tack on ongoing contract negotiations between the union and administration. Oy vey, what did I get myself in to?
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Students: Ask a Librarian? Huh...wha...

Czytelnia Humanistyczna BURImage via WikipediaAll hail the Twitter-verse! "All Hail" is my new favorite term so I may start every blog post with that phrase from now on so don't be startled at the lack of creativity and repetition soon to follow.

Now the reason for the accolades to Twitter is the article in USA Today that was tweeted by a librarian that I follow about student tendencies when using the library. It seems that most students don't bother to ask a librarian for help. Now, this is probably not too big of a shock to librarians but what is interesting about the article is that it cites a study which aimed to look at what students, professors and librarians think of the library and each other. What I found interesting about the results of the study was the perception that librarians had of students and the study claims that librarians overestimate the research skills of students and call out the myth of the digital native. Maybe, as librarians we need to rethink our approach to students and focus a bit more on curtailing the nasty habit of students just to Google something. Now, I know you are going to say that is what you do and that is an uphill battle you face everyday in your library job but I think we need to focus a bit more on teaching the students why the databases are more powerful and efficient search options and how to evaluate sources and what constitutes a good source.

Just some food for though.

LL
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - The A, B, C Murders by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie Mile Trail Torquay, English Ri...Image by iknow-uk via FlickrIt's hard to believe that these mysteries were written almost a hundred years ago but let me tell, you, they do stand the test of time. If you've read my reviews or even just seen the types of books that I read, you can tell that I have a taste for the fantastic. Whether they be zombies, wizard detectives, or British exorcists, the stuff that's right up my alley tend to be a little out of the ordinary. The Agatha Christie mysteries are fairly ordinary mysteries on the surface. No zombies or wizards or vast governmental conspiracies but they are all out of the ordinary in how well done they are and how they keep you wanting to finish the mystery and see if you've had it pegged all along.

My first encounter with an Agatha Christie mystery was back in the 80's when my family just got cable and Evil Under the Sun was on HBO almost every day it seemed. That was where I was introduce to Hercule Poirot, played by Peter Ustinov, and has drawn me to read the Poirot mysteries almost thirty years later. Now the premise of The A, B, C Murders is one that you may be familiar with since it has been copied in some form ad nauseum. Poirot is taunted by a killer who sends him letters proclaiming Poirot cannot catch him as he murders people according to the alphabet. What I really liked about this Poirot mystery was the feeling that Poirot was a bit helpless and and was stumped. From the other Poirot books that I've read, and from some other mystery books, shows or movies, you can fall into the lull of knowing the good guy is going to prevail and in the end you know Poirot will figure it out but Christie does a masterful job of leading you along with Poirot wondering how long he will be stumped.

No spoilers here so read her books, I command you! Another excellent entry into the series and it has even gotten me to add some Miss Marple mysteries to my read pile.

My Grade: A-

LL
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Monster Nation by David Wellington

Cover of "Monster Nation: A Zombie Novel&...Cover of Monster Nation: A Zombie NovelI finally made it Monster Nation on my read pile after reading a few other David Wellington books in rapid succession a while back, the books being Monster Island, Plague Zone and 13 Bullets. I have a soft spot for Wellington who got his start writing chapters and posting them online and then finally got a book deal to publish his online serials, so while I could have read Monster Nation online for free, I decided to show my support with my wallet and plunk down my twelve bucks and but the book.

This is a prequel of sorts, taking place during the outbreak (if that's what you want to call it) and causes of people turning into zombies. It follows two main characters that are on a collision course (cliche, zing!), one a women who doesn't quite die, much like Gary of the first book, and a by the numbers military man, trying to figure out what is going on and how to stop it. That's pretty much it. Since you know where things head from the first book, the fun from the book comes from how we get there. There is some fun in there but it's at times slow going and the feeling of inevitability of getting to a world overrun takes over and I found myself at times just waiting to get there.

The end product is mixed for me. Like I said, there is some good stuff in there and is an interesting twist on the genre in that the cause is not the ever popular viral outbreak but something else which I won't spoil. To sum it up, solid but not as good as Monster Island.

My Grade: B-

LL
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life in the Academic Library (after two months)

Keswick library interiorImage via WikipediaTwo months in on the new job and I came up with the grand idea to jot down some thoughts on life as an Academic Librarian as I go along and eventually all this 'new' stuff will be old hat. So far, things may be a little misleading since I started at the end of the Spring semester and now I'm into the Summer sessions so things are slow in the library. I am told they will pick up in earnest once the Fall semester begins but as of now saying that it's slow is the understatement of the year.

Everyone here is super nice and I've been taken on tours of the various departments so I can get a feel of what everyone does and to better answer any reference questions that may arise about the other departments. The Dean really seems like she wants to help out the new/junior faculty with the publishing end of being an academic librarian. Since this a "publish or perish" position, technically, she is giving us the support system so we can be successful in that area.

So, lots of time getting used to what this library has to offer, locations of things on campus and in the confusing library stacks, getting familiar with our resources and just getting the skinny from my colleagues on what to expect here and what is expected of me.

So far so good and here's to hoping it stays good.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Hercule PoirotImage by elena-lu via FlickrAll hail Project Gutenberg! From them I was able to download a could of classics on my iPad and one in particular just happened to be the first mystery featuring the legendary Hercule Poirot. The only downside to the Project Gutenberg download was that no images come with it and there was one at one point but it's only a minor quibble.

Now, I've read some Poirot books before so I am going out of order in a series for a change but it was nice to get the first Poirot appearance under my belt to get a base for how the character changes, if he does at all, through the books. I've seen some of the Poirot movies, the American made movies, and the first thing that really stuck out about the literary Poirot was how quirky and OCD-ish he is. Now I wonder if that stands up through the books as I go through them.

On to the plot of this one. An elderly widow, who was left a nice sum of money from her late husband, is found dead one morning and foul play is suspected. In comes the renowned detective Poirot to have a look and see if the obvious is really that obvious or are there layers of intrigue and deception afoot. Of course there is and Christie does a masterful job of adding characters with not only a measure of depth to them without getting too bogged down in them all the while adding them as suspects and removing them as suspects only to add them and remove them time and again. Here we get our fist glimpse of Poirot in action and in reading Christie mysteries I cant help but compare them to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, of which I've only read one and in that one, the key clue wasn't portrayed to the reader so I felt a little cheated as there was no possibility for the reader to figure out the mystery. With the Christie mysteries, the ones that I have read so far, all of the clues are presented and it's a matter of piecing them together with the motives of the characters to solve the mystery.

Reading this book hooked me and now I am going to read through the Poirot series. I've read some others from Christie and the ones that I have read, including this one are all tip-top and I constantly amazed how the mysteries hold up almost 100 years later. Rating this with the other Poirot mystery that I have read, I would rate this one on par, both so far excellent mysteries.

My Grade: A

LL
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" | Video on TED.com

Bubbles, Computer artImage via WikipediaEli Pariser: Beware online "filter bubbles" | Video on TED.com

Since I am on a bit of a TED kick, watching many of the videos and such, I figure I'd mention the TED talk on filter bubbles. Combined with a discussion on the ILI listserve made me want to post about it.

The concept is that much like can people live in social bubbles so to speak, only interacting and being exposed to certain people and certain types of thinking, that this phenomena can happen online as well. Companies like Google and Facebook tailor what you see and what comes up on your feed or search results based on what you click on so your results are personalized. Now that may be good for some people as they get what they normally seek out, this new bubble is being decided for you. Good or not? You decide for yourself but the ol' LL thinks this is a tricky road to go down. So much for the free flow of information in the web.
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney

Fresh off the heels of reading McKinney's Dead City, I decided to download Apocalypse of the Dead on my iPad and give that one a whirl. Now, this book is a loose sequel in that the setting and circumstances are pretty much the same (the setting changes a bit) but the characters are different.

Here we get McKinney pushing his boundaries and showing his writing chops a bit by moving the story around to various different characters and groups that will, inevitably, all come together at some point. The trick to doing that is not to be too confusing and not spreading things so thin that the reader can't keep track. Luckily, McKinney does a fine job in that department and keeps the story focused and a solid direction.

The take on this zombie tale is what sets it apart from other run of the mill zombie tales and is the story building around the creepy Koresh-like pastor. We've seen a lot of post-apocalyptic books go for the power abuse by the military but this take is a new one for me and a welcome departure from the standard zombie fare.

All in all, I can safely recommend this book for fans of zombie books rather easily. Some may have an issue with the jumping around a bit but I didn't find that to be a problem. It's interesting territory to go in and a solid direction at that.

My Grade: B+

LL
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - The Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey

Felix "Fix" Castor is back!

And boy does it feel like a reunion with an old friend. That seems to be a popular feeling with me nowadays as I said the same thing about the latest Dexter book and felt the same way with the most recent adventure featuring Joe Ledger.

This entry in the series picks up basically where the last book's cliffhanger left us, Fix trying to find Asmodeus. Things have not gone well for Felix in the meantime with an alcohol binge fueled by the guilt of Asmodeus' escape and killing spree. Now he has to get his act together and figure out what Asmodeus is up to and he needs to do it right quick before Asmodeus can wreak any more havoc. This leads to all sorts of questionable decisions be Felix and some unlikely alliances and one "alliance" that I was particularly looking forward too.

I might have said this in past reviews of the Felix Castor books, but they do progress nicely and move and a better pace than the earlier books. Word is that there is one more book planned but I am not sure where else to go after this book but I look forward to what Carey has planned for Felix Castor.

My Grade: B

LL
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - The King of Plagues (A Joe Ledger Novel)

Book three from Jonathan Mayberry starring Counter-terrorism agent extraordinaire , Joe Ledger, brings the series back to the roots of the first book in the series, Patient Zero. I was having a discussion about Joe Ledger books with a friend of mine, who was the one that turned me onto Patient Zero, and she said that she wasn't going to pick up The King of Plagues because she couldn't stand The Dragon Factory. I liked The Dragon Factory as it was more of an actioner, but I agree with her that it didn't have the same feel as Patient Zero.

The King of Plagues recaptures that Patient Zero feel and I think a good part of recapturing that feel is the return of some characters from the first book that I won't give away but it made me cheer a bit inside to see them back. Another way this brings things back is the plot of of our dastardly villains this go around, we are back to bio-terror. Sure you could say that the last one was bio-terror in that there were bio-engineered thingies (a pure technical term) but this is the stuff that strikes a cord with people today, the viral threat.

To complete the feel of the first book, we get Joe Ledger kicking ass, which to be fair, he did a lot of in The Dragon Factory. My main gripe with the last book was that the DMS was sort of reactionary, basically stumbling in the right direction and here we get the DMS being pro-active in seeing through leads and solving some mysteries to drive them in the case. There was a little bit too much lamenting some of the things that happened in the last book for my liking as I like books that can stand on their own and not need the previous to know what's going on and that is the case in this book. Also the references to the first book with some of the background on returning characters may turn new readers off and they may feel that they don't know fully what is going on. If you are a dedicated reader of the series, though, you should be in good shape and I think that The King of Plagues will have you looking forward to more Joe Ledger books.

My Grade: B+

LL
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Dexter is Delicious

Man, was it fun to read a Dexter book again, and a good Dexter book to boot (one of them wasn't that good). I find Dexter books to be like hearing from an old friend again and catching up on what he's been up to. I know that sounds cliche, the whole 'old friend' thing but Dexter books are like that. I think it's the voice of Dexter, the way he speaks to the reader and lets you in on what others aren't allowed to hear. You are privy to his Dark Passenger and what he really thinks and feels and I think that is part of appeal that makes the reader feel close to Dexter.

That connection to dear ol' Dex, is what keeps you around in Dexter in the Dark, which is by far the weakest of the series, but you won't have to worry about that with this installment. Upon hearing of the premise, I was afraid Dexter is Delicious would go that route though. Here is the setup, Dexter deals with cannibals, and not just that, vampire rip off cannibals to boot. Holy Twilight Batman! Fear not, Dexter is back and while not in prime form, it's good enough.

As we begin, Dex is settling in to family life with the birth of his daughter and is having very fatherly thoughts such as giving up his side 'job' to be there for his daughter and set a good example. Sprinkle in difficult Deb, blood thirsty children and a surprise visitor from Dexter's past and you've got a good mix for some fun and deliciously awkward moments that have come to signify the literary version of Dexter. My main gripe is that the mystery is not quite a mystery as, I think, it was telegraphed way in advanced but it was still fun to see it all play out. If you're a Dexter fan, I'd bet that you'd enjoy this entry and really sink your teeth into this one (ok, I just had to say it).

My Grade: B

LL
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Dead City by Joe McKinney


Back in my zombie fiction kick, I picked up Dead City by Joe McKinney from the local B & N as I have seen it on the shelves and some reviews online for it. Now, being a seasoned vet of zombie lit, I set the bar fairly high for them. They should embody many of the aspects of what makes the genre so interesting to many people. They should be frightening, smart and portray a sense of the impending doom that you cannot stop like the creeping death that is crawling slowly towards its characters. That is to say that they have to be formulaic. On the contrary, many zombie books can be dull in that they've covered the same ideas that have come before it. But, it should still feel like a zombie book, and I have a particular book I've reviewed in mind when I say that. I want a zombie book with teeth, a little bite but with some new aspects to it. I want the survival aspect to is as well and here, to me, is where a lot of the smarts come in. I want to see characters doing smart things, being pushed to be creative and inventive in how they are going to make it through this catastrophe and that goes for any survivalist book like The Road and not just zombie books.

I am done with seeing people to dumb, silly and inane things. I know that story, where you show how people are fallible and fall apart in extreme situations, how they get greedy and self interested and short sighted. Been there, done that and in way too many stories. I am also done with the seedy side of post apocalyptic fiction. You know the ones, the 'people do horrible things when law and order is broken' sort of stories. Again, been there, done that. Let's get onto something different with the zombie genre so it doesn't get stale and become a parody of itself that so many other genres have become.

Where is this rant going? Well, it brings us the Dead City. Plain and simple, I liked this book. I didn't love it but I liked it. I liked it because it focused on the day of the disaster and the survival story of one person through the day of the outbreak. Plain and simple. His struggles to come to grip with what was happening and how the outbreak unfolded. I have some minor quibbles with some of the stuff in there such as him not making his family the priority when the outbreak occurred but overall this book hit the notes I want to see in a zombie book and did something that I haven't seen a lot of in zombie books and that is take us through the outbreak as it is happening. All too often we see the aftermath and the survival that ensues and I do like that stuff but I found this take a bit refreshing. Now I am working my way through the loose sequel, Apocalypse of the Dead.

My Grade: A-

LL
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

The TED

The foundation's logo.Image via Wikipedia
Now that I've started the new job at Long Island University, I've been looking at a lot of things to focus my research on. Since I have the background in education, it makes a lot of sense to combine that background/interest with the library/information science area for some research. In doing some preliminary digging, I came across a video on changing educational thinking and methods which talks about "Flipping the Classroom" which was a presentation done at TED 2011. Now, I'll get to my thoughts on that particular presentation in a later post but I wanted to mention the TED videos.

First, what is TED? I'll just list the quote from their site.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

From that first video, I began watch the other videos there and they are pretty amazing in the variety and scope of ideas, the level at which they engage and think outside the box on numerous topics, many of which I can bring into my budding research on education and information literacy (or shall I call it 'trans-literacy').

In any event, I urge you to take a look at some of the presentations on there if nothing else than to challenge yourself with some new and fresh ideas whether you buy in to what they say or not.

LL
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Monday, April 25, 2011

What is peer-review?

Comic on the quality of different methods of p...Image via WikipediaI present an article that talks about that very topic. I've spent the last couple of years teaching information literacy and one of the big topics I cover with the classes I am invited it to speak to, is about peer review. Why is that? Because students by-in-large do not know what it is and I've found that instructors expect them to know what it is or explain it in a way that still leaves them a little confused about it.

So read up! Does it cover everything you wanted/need to know about peer review?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The End and the Beginning

Berkeley CollegeImage via WikipediaCutting out the overly dramatic nonsense, I just wanted to get down my thoughts/feelings on the moving on from my first library job at Berkeley College.

My time there was great and I am very appreciative for the opportunity they gave me to come in, basically, straight out of library school. They gave me the latitude to grow and explore the profession all the while teaching me the ins and outs of day-to-day operation of a small library. The fact that it was a small library let me get a broad range look at a lot of areas of librarianship that may get lost in bigger institutions. When serving on search committees at Berkeley, that is an area that I tell interviewees is a big plus, at least for me it was.

The people there were great as well. They even threw a surprise going away lunch for me my last week which warmed my heart (and filled my belly). My boss, Jim, is a cool cat and he gave me the latitude to be me so to speak and share in the responsibilities of making that library work day in and day out.

So, goodbye Berkeley College. My time with you was invaluable time well spent. Best of luck and I will keep in touch.

LL
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ed's Mini Book Review - Nightlife by Rob Thurman

Cover of "Nightlife (Cal Leandros, Book 1...Cover of Nightlife (Cal Leandros, Book 1)Another recommendation review, and this one gave me the book to read too. Nightlife is the first book featuring Cal Leandros who is half human and half something else. Fitting quite easily into the ever growing pantheon of Dark Fantasy (Urban Fantasy or whatever you want to call it), Nightlife has all the trimmings of a classic entry into the genre. You've got your emo main character in Cal, short for Caliban, along with his kick-ass half brother Niko as well as a menagerie supporting cast ranging from a teen psychic (and possible love interest for Cal) to the comedic relief character of Longfellow.

So, what's not to like from this book? Well, actually, quite a bit. Reading this book made me appreciate and look more at, pacing in books. The pacing in this book was terrible. There seemed to be no movement in the big mystery of what was going on. We ended up with a lot of faux-witty banter between Cal and Niko and while that did show, in-depth, the level of their love for one another as brothers, it got very tedious. I felt like the book was trying too hard to be witty and funny instead of the humor and camaraderie naturally flow from the characters.

Those two major flaws had me struggling to finish the book and finding out the plan of the big bad is what kept me going to the end. I will probably, at some point, read the follow-up book because that was given to me as well but will be in no rush to read it.

My Grade: C-

LL
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Updates and Reading Lists.

Books on a bookshelf.Image via WikipediaAs you can gather from my last post and some of my tweets, I will be leaving my post (haha, pun intended) at the small college library that gave me my start in the world of librarianship, to take a tenure-track job at the university where I earned my library degree. With no doubt I am excited about the new position and a little nervous, wanting to do well and prove that I belong and all that stuff.

I am also very appreciative to the college library that gave me that start and was so very helpful and nurturing in giving me the opportunity to develop my skills and allowing me the freedom to experiment and try new and exciting things. So off I go but not for another month or so, and going from one place to another will not mean that the blog will end (in case anyone was wondering).

I've also been keeping busy with the reading but I am behind on the reviews. I have started reviews on the second Sandman Slim book and the fourth Felix Castor book. In the hopper for me to finish reading:

Nightlife by Rob Thurman
Naming of the Beasts by Mike Carey
The Information by James Gleick
The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Survivor's Guilt". Yeah, I'm Feeling It.

Long Island University C.W. Post CampusImage via WikipediaI came across this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education about the guilt one can feel by finally landing that tenure track position while there are so many very qualified and capable people still looking for that break, or that chance, at landing TT position.

As you may or may not know, or seen my Tweet about it over in the column to the left, I landed a tenure track librarian position at the university where I completed my library degree, and while I am *very* excited about the position, I did feel some of that guilt which this article talks about. That may seem a bit silly, for it to take away a little from the excitement of landing the much coveted job, but I've seen first hand, and been part of it a bit when I started teaching, the disappointment, despair, and feelings of thinking you are not good enough or talented enough just because others haven't seen that worth in you enough to offer you a job. It can be a very tough thing to deal with when you *know* you have the goods but can't seem to get that validation in the form of a job offer.

So, it was good read this timely, for me at least, article and see that I'm not the only one out there feeling a little guilty at a little success/recognition. And I hope that guilt doesn't come across as a little condescending or insulting anyone still out there struggling.
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