on asking the right questions (part deux), and being bossy …

'Question mark made of puzzle pieces' photo (c) 2008, Horia Varlan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Our frosh are working on term papers. Frosh have a thesis statement from either the classical period or the middle ages and they need to prove the thesis with primary sources.

Here’s the thing, when you ask a Middle schooler (even one wandering the stacks aimlessly with a dazed gaze), “Are you doing okay on the project?”

The response is, without fail, “Uh … Yeah, I’m fine.”

Believe me, Frosh, the vast majority of whom have no previous experience what-so-ever with primary sources REALLY are NOT FINE finding primary sources on their own.

When you ask, however, “So … How can I help you on your primary sources project?” 90 percent of the time, they will start an exchange with you that allows you to do some good reference work with them.

That’s probably why middle school librarians are bossy.  We foist our services on you whether you want them or not (And you are going to like it …)!!!

on places of quiet contemplation and pissing contests …

'Zen Garden' photo (c) 2006, Sheila Thomson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Libraries are wonderful places of quiet contemplation …

To my mind this sentiment begs the question, “Wha?!?!?!?”

See … There are opposing world views in the school library world about libraries and quiet policies.  “Old school” or “quiet” libraries are stereotyped as stuffy places where students don’t want to go and librarians are mean old women (don’t mean to be sexist, but that is, indeed, the stereotype) with their hair up in buns guarding dusty old books that nobody wants to use.  “New school” or “unquiet” libraries are stereotyped as being bright, sunny, airy spaces that are lively, welcoming, “information commons” spaces where bright-eyed young middle schoolers arrange their chairs neatly in clusters and eagerly gather around digital devices.  In excited, but low “inside voices” these middle school beings contemplate and debate the balance of renewable and fossil fuel production sources needed to minimize America’s carbon footprint, while allowing the U.S. economy to grow out of recession and prevent us from heaving ourselves over a fiscal cliff so that their librarians who have served them nobly can someday retire modestly  with enough in their 403b plans to live comfortably and have decent medical care.

Wow … I’m breathless … Anyway …

I do, indeed, work in a library with a staff of librarians that has whole-heartedly embraced the “unquiet” library model and most of the time … Well … I really love like it.  There really is nothing creepier or sadder than a beautifully designed school library that has no students in it.  There are, however, times during the school year, when … Well … There are times when I just want to go old school and make everybody shut-up.  “Silence is golden, children!  Silence is GOLDEN!!!”  It seems to me, that one of the times every year when I suddenly feel the need to go “old school” is this stretch that runs from just before Halloween until first quarter grades come out in about two weeks.

I think that this stretch of time is after our week of all-school retreats when our seventh graders suddenly feel very comfortable on campus and feel “ownership” of the campus now.  Emotionally, they feel like they are now eighth graders, but our eighth graders … Well … Our eighth graders are still eighth graders.  For those of you who are not middle school teachers or librarians (the uninitiated), let me just tell you, that … Well … Two eighth grades on a campus is not really a good thing …

I’ve composed a set of open letters to the sevvies and 8th graders that I welcome into my library with open arms (albeit with a few conditions outlined below).

Letter #1:

Dear, I’m sure usually, delightful [insert appropriate grade, but most often 7th or 8th] grader,

I welcome you to the library, but you are being extremely loud–Like, even loud for a playground, loud. Please settle down and get to work using your indoor voice or you can choose to go to the student lounge near your deans’ offices or the dining commons. We don’t force you to be locked in here like when I was in middle school and that’s a wonderful thing!


Mr. Ambookgeek

Letter #2:

Dear, I’m sure usually, delightful [insert appropriate grade, but most often 7th or 8th] grader,

Well … Child … What’s with the ‘tude and the rolled eye-balls? Because, you know, you are now the umteenth child I’m having this conversation with.  I have walked over and calmly asked you to quiet down and work productively or to please head outside and … Here I am for a third time in a single period.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Ambookgeek had only one single nerve left and you are now standing on it and jumping up and down.

So … Child … You best reign it in because, though I am not exactly an Alpha Male, I can still piss a whole lot higher than you … And I am fully capable of dishing the ‘tude.  Believe me, you won’t like it. I work out at the 24-Hour Fitness in West Hollywood so I have an advanced degree in ‘tude. So …

Stop rolling your eyeballs. Speak with an inside voice. Pick up your crap. Don’t bounce balls in the library. Push your chair in when you leave.

If you can meet these terms, we’re so very happy to have you.  If not, GET OUT!

Thanks for your cooperation and support on this matter,

Mr. Ambookgeek

I’m hoping that with just a little clear communication we can all live happily together in our unquiet (but let’s never forget that it’s not a frigging playground) library.



on why i think undecided voters at this point are probably lame …

'Voting' photo (c) 2010, League of Women Voters of California LWVC - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So … Tonight’s Presidential “Debate” is a town-hall style affair.  From what I read, there will be about 80 “undecided” voters in the audience and these “undecideds” will have an opportunity to ask questions of each of the candidates.  Here’s the thing, though, and maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t have much confidence in a voter that is undecided at this point in this particular election cycle.  More than in any Presidential election since I started voting, the policy positions of the candidates stand in very clear relief. How frigging much more information do people need?

I very strongly suspect that folk who are undecided at this point are emotional voters. “I want to feel like I’d enjoy having a beer with the guy I’m going to vote for …” and that kind of bullshit.  What the fuck?!?!?  I couldn’t care less about liking the guy or not.  Do the policies he is likely to push forth make my life and the lives of Americans better.  That’s what matters.  That information is out there.  So stop being a dumbass and make up your frigging feeble minds already, people.

In the last election cycle, I distinctly remember watching an interview with a voter who said about Sarah Palin, “I think Sarah is just like me, so I think she’d do a good job running the country.”  What the fuck, right?  I mean, really, I would rank myself among the bottom-half in intelligence among the people that I teach with, but for sure I’m smarter than Sarah Palin and I want myself NOWHERE NEAR the Presidency!!!  I want people WAY smarter there!!!  That is the kind of dumbass emotional voter bullshit that I’m talking about.

Luckily, Romney, Ryan, Obama, and Biden all strike me as WAY smarter than, fucking, Sarah Palin so while I might be disappointed in the direction the Nation might move in should the Romney/Ryan ticket win, but at least I don’t have to be terrified of the likes of fucking Sarah Palin.

Anyway, so again, if you’re undecided, you’re probably lame and I really don’t care much about what you are going to ask so… I’m going out to dinner tonight.

I’m just saying …

on before and after (though not completely done) …


Significant Other and I have been in New York for just over two weeks now.  This visit has been really different in that this the first time since we bought the place four years ago, that we have it to ourselves. S/O was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island so it has always been a dream to own a place in New York. To help with the cash flow, we’ve always had tenants.  It sounds a little weird, I know, but we kept the master bedroom for ourselves and rented the rest of the three-bedroom unit at a reduced rent.  Our tenants actually liked the arrangement.  We generally came for a week during Spring break, three weeks in the summer, and an occasional long weekend here and there.  Other than that, they had the run of the place for a good price.  Because rents are so high in New York, New Yorkers (young ones at least) are very used to having roommates so it was never much of an issue.  Due to a change in circumstances, last year we decided to forego having renters and see how the cash flow went.  Because we no longer have renters other than the master bedroom, there was NOTHING in the condo.  In the last two weeks we’ve purchased a sofa, two accent chairs, a coffee table, two side tables, a dining room set, dishes, pots and pans, glassware, towels, and a cabinet bed and linens for the guest room.

After (though not quite completely done, yet!) …

Dang! Even when you are bargain hunting, all of that adds up fast!

Eventually, I’d like to find an area rug, some throw pillows, either a table or floor lamp, and some art for our very bare walls. I think we might be done outfitting the place for the time being.

I need to win the Lotto so I can finish outfitting the place!

on lazy blogging …

Summer is here. I have time on my hands so there is no excuse as to why I haven’t been posting other than being lazy. It just seems so much easier to Tweet stuff and be done with it, right?

Anyway, I’m going to try and be better about posting. Significant Other and I are ensconced at our place in Brooklyn. We have the place to ourselves for the first time in the four years that we’ve owned it. It’s a three bedroom place. We’ve always kept the master for ourselves and sublet the rest of the place. It was an arrangement that worked out wonderfully until the end of last summer. We spent June in NYC, then went on to Hawaii. While here, we shared the unit with our tenant and all seemed well. When we were in Hawaii, however, we got a call that there was a hostage situation in our condo and the NYPD Swat team had closed off the street and was entering our unit. As it turned out, thankfully, there was no hostage situation. Unfortunately, they ripped a huge hole in the metal front door, went down the fire escape from above and broke through the windows to storm the place. When they entered the space they found our tenant ODed on cocaine. He had gotten high and called to tell the police that he was being held hostage. Sigh …

Anyway, thankfully, he’s since cleaned himself up and moved on and we’ve decided we’d like to take a break from renters for a bit so we’re in the process of furnishing the place comfortably–but also for as cheaply as possible within reason. The thing is that furnishing a place all at once sure does add up quickly!

We got here last Saturday and so far we’ve shelled out for a sofa, a coffee table, a cabinet bed, mini-blinds, dishes, glassware, two accent chairs, and many sundry items like Windex, and ice trays. It’s exciting, but it sure is also sticker-shock inducing.

The sofa and coffee table arrive tomorrow. The accent chairs got ordered today so they’ll be here in 5-10 business days. The cabinet bed (like a Murphy bed, but not attached to the wall) has to be manufactured so it’ll be ready to be delivered and installed sometime next week. All that’s really left for biggish purchases is that I need to find a funky shag rug or something for the living room.

It won’t be high end, but it’ll be comfortable enough for a place that we really only use a few weeks a year.

It’s exciting to get it all in place fairly quickly so that we can enjoy it with friends and family over the course of the next few years!

on dancing with who … ? (Updated!)

I don’t watch Dancing with the Stars. I’ve never watched Dancing with the Stars, well, except for one episode when I was visiting over at my mom’s house and Stacy Keibler, who has apparently since become George Clooney’s lady of choice, did some pretty awesome dancing.

The thing is, when the show first started, at least I knew who the “stars” were. This morning, the KTLA Hollywood reporter guy gave a recap of last night’s Dancing with the Stars show and I had no idea at all, who the three remaining “stars” were.

Therefore, I am proposing a new show probably most appropriate for a niche cable channel high up on the dial. “Dancing with the Minor Internet Celebrity.” I know that I won’t making it on the show in the first few seasons, I mean, I’m not season one talent like Clay Shirky, Daniel Pink, or danah boyd.  I’m not even season two caliber talent like Vicki Davis (the Cool Cat Teacher blogger) or Joyce Valenza (who needs no introduction, at least in the library world because she’s like Zac Efron … everywhere…), but heck, I have thirteen followers on Twitter and three followers on my blog so I might be good for a run in, say, season twelve?

Important update:

Crap!!! One of the three readers of this blog has informed me that somebody stole my idea!!!  FML!!!

on being a pioneer of childhood obesity …

I am a fat kid who grew up to be a relatively normal-sized adult. Though virtually everyone who has met me as an adult, met me as a normal-sized person, I don’t think most people that know me (even those who know me very well) realize how much of an endeavor it is for me to remain my “normal-size”–the hours I spend preoccupied about what I eat, how much I eat, and how much I work out.

More than anything that I think I’ve ever read, this piece from Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times is far and away the piece that comes closest to truly capturing MY EXPERIENCE and capturing MY RELATIONSHIP to food in words on a page.

Very much worth a read!

Critic’s Notebook: TV’s focus on childhood obesity hits home.
Take it from someone who knows: The struggle with childhood obesity, illustrated vividly on television, is a battle of both the mind and the mouth for an overweight kid.

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

May 20, 2012

I was a pioneer of childhood obesity.

By the time I was a junior in high school, I weighed more than 200 pounds. I was a fat kid before being a fat kid made you the topic of a national conversation and the first lady’s pet project, back when Gatorade still tasted gross and no one knew how many calories there were in anything.

For most of my childhood, I was the only fat girl in my class — I can still name the other two fat girls in my grade. Now, fat kids fill the playground and the high school bleachers, including a whole new breed of fat girl who wears skin tight jeans and mid-riffs and dares anyone to say anything. Seeing them, I must admit I am torn between despair and envy…

on advice for dads from miss bp …

Miss BP has some advice for dads. She is a good person from whom to take advice on dads because her baby’s dad was a Playgirl model. And it is the helpful advice and guidance from her dad that prevented her from being an unmarried teen mo…

Oh, well … Never mind … Let’s remember from now on, “No raincoat, no glove… No raincoat, no glove …”

Bristol Palin’s gay marriage rant: Obama girls watch too much ‘Glee’


Bristol Palin thinks it’s laughable that President Barack Obama’s children influenced his decision to support same-sex marriage.

“While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads,” Bristol, the eldest daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, wrote in a blog post titled “Hail to the Chiefs – Malia and Sasha Obama” on Thursday.

Obama said on Wednesday that his daughers’ acceptance of friends with same-sex parents helped prompt his “change in perspective.” In response, Palin writes:

In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage. Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.

In this situation, it was the other way around. I guess we can be glad that Malia and Sasha aren’t younger, or perhaps today’s press conference might have been about appointing Dora the Explorer as Attorney General because of her success in stopping Swiper the Fox.

Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking. In this case, it would’ve been nice if the President would’ve been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of Glee.

via Bristol Palin’s gay marriage rant: Obama girls watch too much ‘Glee’ – POLITICO.com.

on gay evolution …



The Washington Post is reporting the as a high schooler, Mit Romney cut the bleached locks of a boy perceived to be gay. 


Now, I did a lot of stupid stuff in HS that has little to no relationship to who I am as an adult, today.  I was a kid and kids are stupid. Mit has the right to have been a stupid kid, too.  The thing that disturbs me more than anything else about the thing is that he “doesn’t recall the incident.”  Either he’s lying NOW, in the present, or he really doesn’t remember pinning a weaker kid down and bullying him. 

Wow, that sucks!


The Washington Post is reporting the as a high schooler, Mitt Romney cut the bleached locks of a boy perceived to be gay.

Now, I did a lot of stupid stuff in HS that has little to no relationship to who I am as an adult, today.  I was a kid and kids are stupid. Mitt has the right to have been a stupid kid, too.  The thing that disturbs me more than anything else about the thing is that he “doesn’t recall the incident.”  Either he’s lying NOW, in the present, or he really doesn’t remember pinning a weaker kid down and bullying him by cutting the kid’s hair off.

Wow, that sucks!

on twelve …

'Bokeh Tầng Thượng' photo (c) 2008, Ta Duc - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In an instant, thirty-five years melt

I am twelve once again

Don’t move

Be small

Be still

Breathe quietly until the moment passes

For this moment, too, shall pass

But these moments that pass, have life

These moments that pass, live on

They live within me

Quietly, so quietly


Until that moment, again, when I am