Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Goals Wrap-up

2012 Goals (archived)

DONE! Read 100 books in 2012.

NOT DONE Exercise for 90 minutes per week.

DONE! Get rid of (sell, donate, recycle) 80 items from the house by the end of the year.

DONE! Write 70 posts for this blog in 2012.

NOT DONE Volunteer 60 hours in 2012.

DONE! Save or donate 50 percent of my take-home income.

NOT DONE Distribute 40 business cards by the end of the year.

PARTIAL Spend 30 minutes per day in meditation. Spend 30 days without cell phone or computer in 2012.

NOT DONE Be able to do 20 pushups at once by the end of the year.

NOT DONE Write 10 recommendations on LinkedIn in 2012.


Reading List 2012

Here's an archived copy of my Hundred-Book Challenge for this year. I'll be keeping up the new list here:

I would recommend the bolded titles with enthusiasm, and I enjoyed the italicized titles but probably wouldn't read them again.

Goals check-in: December

I've summed up my progress for the year as well and will post it later today.

Read 100 books in 2012.
Absolutely gravy this month: I checked out a stack from the library mid-December and enjoyed brain popcorn up to #125.

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

I was definitely on my feet more after the semester ended. The weather got worse, though, so I was less inclined to spend time outside. This has not been an active year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

First Married Xmas: No One Cries, No One Dies

So overall a positive result. :) Very long details (and pictures, when I get them) behind the cut.

Actually, despite a few Grinchlike obstacles like heavy rains and my own body forcibly requiring me to rest, we enjoyed a series of low-key holiday events with friends and family. Sidenote: my family has lovely festive traditions that are largely secular. Not being Christian myself, I usually refer to my chosen holiday as Xmas (pronounced /ˈɛksməs/).

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keeping Up With Christmas

Well, unlike last year, I haven't gotten all my holiday shopping and wrapping done by now. Oof.

However, we've been through a wedding, a new job (hers), minor veterinary woes, and several concert performances in the last few months. I'm gonna give myself a break.

Here's what the plan looks like this year:

Read Aloud Roundup: December 2012

This month the volunteers read on on a day just before school let out for break. I picked out books to touch on several winter holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice. I'd purchased Mrs. Greenberg's Messy Hanukkah, but somehow it didn't make it into the stack. I'll have to put it aside for next year. :/

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fall Semester Grades

Partway through the term, in the midst of wedding whirl and behind on assignments, I reframed my goals for the semester. While it would be nice to continue my run of As, I was okay with passing (B or better) grades. Good enough is good enough for now, because I am continually learning, and I am pretty darn busy, and my success is not wrapped up in a GPA or a string of letters. I did turn in extra credit assignments, and I caught up with some nearly-due work in time, so I am satisfied with the outcome. (Even if it was a surprise!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gimme a break!

I finished up all my coursework for this semester, and I am SO READY to go on winter break. (Still appreciating this semester thing where you get like a full month of vacation.) Just have to download the stuff I want to save for my e-portfolio, and then... well, then I'll have time to do the dishes. And reorganize the pantry. And tidy my dresser. And the closet. And wrap Xmas presents. And make dinner for my wife. All of that stuff that got flung out the window during finals. It doesn't actually stop.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A variety of charitable organizations for holiday (or year-round) giving

If you'd like to contribute to charitable causes this season, but are a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of organizations out there, you might appreciate this post, where John Scalzi's readers provide their suggestions. (I had to add my own, of course.)

I enjoy the animated discussions in the blog's comments as much as I appreciate Scalzi's own commentary (on topics like povertyprivilege and respecting boundaries). I read several of Scalzi's sf novels before I discovered he was active in the blogosphere, and he wields one of the best banhammers I've encountered. While I may not agree with everyone who posts (or even with the blogger -- gasp!), they all have strong opinions and causes they passionately support, and I'd like to give to charities that inspire that.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goals check-in: November

Read 100 books in 2012.
This month I re-read quite a few books, without time to go to the library. A nice chorister handed me a couple of books he'd finished, and I devoured those even though I wouldn't have chosen them for myself. The list is up to #111

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

Still just a lump in front of the computer. I am so looking forward to winter break.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Every little bit helps!

In addition to yesterday's FB-blasted emergency cat post (which was retweeted by Neil Gaiman himself -- what a guy!), I've been making small contributions to multiple other charities and non-profits. 'Tis the season, after all! And even though I can't help everyone, or send as much as they need, my motto for the season is "Every little bit helps!"

Have a look, and maybe you will be inspired to help a little bit.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can you help out these cats in Seattle?

An internet friend of a friend is in need of a foster home for her two kitties, Little Owl and Edward, while she gets her feet underneath her. I have forwarded this call to friends and acquaintances in the Seattle area, and ask that you do the same. I've also chipped in for the temporary boarding at the vet's office (which costs $28/day for both), because I think kitties need their people, and vice versa.

More details here and here. With cute cat pictures!

Please share widely and donate if you can! PayPal funds can be sent to (this is who the cats' person Grace is staying with).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Truly Grateful

As many of us in the U.S. are sitting around the Thanksgiving table with loved ones tonight, I get to spend more time thinking about all the things in my life for which I am thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Read Aloud Roundup: November 2012

Selections this month touched on civic engagement and the election process, thankfulness and helping others, and family members. Some of the books were a bit long for a single read aloud period, so I asked the readers to cover part of the story, and leave the rest for another time. Students could read the book by themselves later, or their teacher might choose to read it to the class.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How's married life?

Someone asked me that at work yesterday. I paused a moment before responding, "The apartment is such a MESS." I've been scrambling to catch up with homework since the honeymoon, and that combined with recent developments has made for an exceptionally busy domestic atmosphere. (I've started this blog post three times, for example, and had to come back to it later.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Get a bank fee waived just by asking customer service.

Confession time: Despite my so-far-perfect record of paying my credit card bill on time and thus avoiding interest fees, I had a little trouble this month. Strangely, it was because I was SO good at paying my bill. But I contacted my bank, Chase, and traded on my good customer history, and (like Trent suggests) they quickly waived the charge for me. Details below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Freezer is FULL

Funny About Money posted a meatloaf recipe today that had me thinking wistfully of my sweetie's meatloaf (she uses ground beef, onion, and saltine crackers, and slathers a mixture of ketchup and brown sugar on top). It's sweet, smoky, savory... and great comfort food for the colder months. I should definitely ask her to make it. But it will have to wait, because there is no more room in our freezer!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Goals check-in: October

Read 100 books in 2012.
Rocketed through; working on #106. I have been reading several YA series, so you'd think they'd go quickly, but they're pretty thick!

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

Nope. Just a lump in front of the computer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Month of Bulk Cooking for the Freezer

It's the first time I've done more bulk cooking than simply making enough for leftovers, so there will no doubt be a learning curve in the process. Thankfully, others are more experienced at this type of thing, and many of them blog their tips and tricks as well as favorite freezer recipes. 

I started keeping a Pinterest board with likely meals and then sorting through them to find common ingredients -- that way I can buy in bulk and make the most of grocery sales. I also picked a few more vegetarian entrees than usual -- we've been keeping up Meatless Mondays all this year, but a little less meat trims the budget and encourages more veggies. As the days turn colder, soups and stews are warming and filling (and they usually freeze and reheat very well for lunch or dinner).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Read Aloud Roundup: October 2012

Dad and Me in the Morning, by Patricia Lakin

How do you wake up? Do you wake up the at the same time every morning?
What are some ways you communicate without speaking words? Do these ways work for someone who cannot hear?

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, by Monica Brown

Are there things you like to do or wear or eat that “don’t match”?
What is it like when you surprise someone by doing something unexpected?
Why does Marisol try to match? Do you think that’s a good or bad idea?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Event production: the value of a test run

On Saturday, I spent about 12 hours helping set up and serve (and do much of the cleanup; I bailed after midnight because I had appointments the next morning) for our friends' wedding. While I was happy to offer assistance, and it was so nice to be able to watch their ceremony and see how much love they share, I had a bonus motivator: this is the venue where we will also be married in, oh, 11 days.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Goals check-in: September

Read 100 books in 2012.
Up to #95. I had someone ask me how I make time for reading, and I had to think it over. I've just always done so; if I didn't read as much as I do, a) my life would be very different, b) I wouldn't know what to do with myself on public transit, and c) I'd probably lose my mind completely. I need that me-time to function.

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

This has not been happening this month either, and it stresses me out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Read Aloud Roundup: September 2012

Yesterday was the first Read Aloud volunteer session of the new school year!

I bought the books over the summer and wrote the discussion questions for each class, and the volunteer readers met their classes in the morning for storytime. Each reader will stay with the same classroom all year long (many of them have been reading for the same teachers' classes for years!), so that the children get to know them and know what to expect at storytime and in discussion afterward, for the entire time they're at the school. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Office Space, part 1

The whole point of that desk was to have a space to do homework in my new HOME OFFICE-slash-LIBRARY! Wooooooo!

Only it's... still in progress.

Friday, September 7, 2012

No Shame About Curb Scrounging

Oh, hey, I have a desk!

Check out that Dumpster in the background. This is how to live like a grad student. It's like Allston Christmas up in here.

Buying Second-hand Appliances: My Dreams of a Chest Freezer

So, once the dust settles (sadly, a literal description) after the housemate moves out -- this weekend?? -- and we rearrange our kitchen furniture, I might be getting a deep freezer!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peak pageviews!

Woo-hoo! August closed strong, sweeping past that target of 3000 pageviews to almost exactly double May's 1650. Total at the end of the month: 3293 pageviews.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Goals update: August

Read 100 books in 2012.

Closing in on it, with #83Ann Patchett's Run was a captivating set of insights into a family's complex bonds, including birth order, transracial adoption, and parental expectations.

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

I'm managing a bit more walking, but no regular exercise. This year has been pretty bad for it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

September Bonus Round

In addition to my goals for 2012, I add month-long bonus goals.

For September:

Helping kids learn at the reference desk

Born Librarian has a new post with some cute stories -- go check it out!

About two weeks later two brothers of about the same age came running into tell me they had found a SNAKE! in their backyard. (Boys between age 4 and 10 are often only capable of pronouncing snake as SNAKE!)

A. dorable. As much as I'm not a big fan of snakes, I'd love to have this kind of experience with kids. It's so fun watching them learn.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Feeding the Grad School Monster by Selling Textbooks on

We all know that textbooks are expensive. But plenty of classes still require them -- so I usually rent instead of buying. But what if the textbooks you need aren't available to be rented? Then, friends, I suggest you head to Amazon to buy a used copy. If you're interested in graduating debt-free, or with a minimum of student debt, keep this in mind as a cost-saving tip: you can resell your textbooks from the previous semester for credit toward your current textbook needs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Analytics of note, one year in

Crossing my fingers as I'm still counting down a few hours... but by the time this posts, it will have been a full week since the last time my blog's hourly page views hit zero.

Fall Semester Courses

Today is the first day of instruction for Fall 2012. I've gotten through a whole year of grad school! Now I start the second half. I think it's going to be just as busy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Free shipping on rental textbooks (and other discounts)

I have three new classes this term, and they ALL have multiple textbooks. That adds up quickly! I'll write a bit more about that later.

So, if you're a little behind this term -- maybe you didn't get your textbook lists until the week of classes -- here are some discount codes to help you with the high cost of textbooks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Green Branch will be a bookmobile!

The board of directors has formally announced the next step for Green Branch Library.

"We are plotting and planning our next phase, a mobile book unit. We are excited to collaborate with Bay Area schools, after-school programs, and community activism groups to make our book collection super accessible. We will also be able to offer workshops for youth at our partner sites, and hope to launch the lending library component to our collection."

I'm excited to see Green Branch grow! If you're in town for the end of August, drop by the last two farmers' market reading rooms on the 18th and the 25th. You can also browse our wishlist on Amazon to see what kinds of titles are high on the social justice program -- and consider donating one of your favorites!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer term is over!

Phew! THAT was a VERY packed ten weeks. I finished my final project for 271A (of which my Top Ten list was a part) last week, and I turned in my final report about my internship at Green Branch yesterday.

Today I am rewarding myself by heading to the Imperial Spa and having a nice long soak, a Korean skin scrub, and a massage. And maybe some KFC. And I will re-read some classic Stephen King and not think about my Reading List numbers.

The rest of this week is full: date night, pastoral search committee meeting, meeting with a musician friend about a special arrangement, re-purpling my hair, housework. This Saturday I get to meet both a new baby and a new puppy -- yay! Sunday is, I think, for cooking freezer meals.

One week from tomorrow: Fall term starts. And then two months later (probably right in the middle of midterms), we have a wedding.

full wreath
(I've been working on crafts.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

LIBR 271A Top Ten

These are my selections for the Top Ten Picturebooks for Older Readers (5th-12th grades) from my readings this term.

In no particular order:

The 9/11 Report, by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

The 9/11 Report: a graphic adaptation
by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
128 pages
New York: Hill and Wang
ISBN 9780809057382

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sita’s Ramayana, by Samhita Arni

Sita’s Ramayana
by Samhita Arni
illustrated by Moyna Chitrakar
152 pages
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books
ISBN 9781554981458

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, by Jack Prelutsky

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems
by Jack Prelutsky
illustrated by Carin Berger
40 pages 
New York: Greenwillow Books

The Wall, by Peter Sis

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
by Peter Sis
56 pages
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 9780374347017

Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll and Christopher Myers

reimagined and illustrated by Christopher Myers
32 pages
New York: Jump At The Sun
ISBN 9781423103721

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum, by Jessie Hartland

How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum
by Jessie Hartland
40 pages
Maplewood, NJ: Blue Apple Books
ISBN 9781609050900

Mister Wonderful, by Daniel Clowes

Mister Wonderful : a love story
by Daniel Clowes
80 pages
New York: Pantheon
ISBN 9780307378132

The Wolves in the Walls, by Neil Gaiman

The Wolves in the Walls
by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by Dave McKean
56 pages
New York: HarperCollins
ISBN 9780380978274

After the Kill, by Darrin Lunde

After the Kill
by Darrin P. Lunde
illustrated by Catherine Stock
32 pages
Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge
ISBN 9781570917448

Mirror, Mirror, by Marilyn Singer

Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Josee Masse
32 pages
New York: Dutton
ISBN 9780525479017

Friday, August 3, 2012

Us and Them, by Jim Carnes

Us and Them: A History of Intolerance in America
by Jim Carnes
136 pages
New York: Oxford University Press
ISBN 9780195131253

Half Spoon of Rice, by Icy Smith

Half Spoon of Rice: A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide

by Icy Smith
illustrated by Sopaul Nhem
44 pages
Manhattan Beach, CA: East West Discovery Press
ISBN 9780982167588

Goals check-in: July

This is late 'cause I am swamped at the end of the semester. Sooo much work to do for 271A and the internship, church is having some administrative reorganizing, and we're about two and a half months out from the wedding. Ack!

Read 100 books in 2012.

Got up to #73. Slowly. Instead of my usual pleasure reading, I have been scanning a LOT of children's picturebooks for my internship and for 271A. I guess I can count the full-length graphic novels. I also had a few books that I just didn't finish! (One got taken back to the library; one is... somewhere around the apartment.) Currently working on Stephen King's Cell, which I had a vague idea was the story that got made into this hostage/sniper movie (not the Jennifer Lopez one), but apparently it's closer to zombie apocalypse.

Exercise for 
90 minutes per week.

Nope. I walk about half an hour a day during my commute, but that's just necessity. I've been glued to the computer this summer with homework.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Same Difference, by Derek Kirk Kim

Same Difference
by Derek Kirk Kim
96 pages
©2011 (new deluxe edition)
New York: First Second
ISBN 9781596436572

Yeh Shen, by Ai-Ling Louie

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Tale from China
retold by Ai-Ling Louie
illustrated by Ed Young
32 pages
New York: Puffin
ISBN 9780698113886

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
by Barry Deutsch
144 pages
New York: Amulet Books
ISBN 9780810984226

The Silence of Our Friends, by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell

The Silence of Our Friends
written by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos
illustrated by Nate Powell
208 pages
New York: First Second
ISBN 9781596436183

Americus, by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill

by MK Reed
illustrated by Jonathan Hill
224 pages
New York: First Second
ISBN 9781596437685

Around the World, by Matt Phelan

Around the World
by Matt Phelan
240 pages
Somerville, MA: Candlewick
ISBN 9780763636197

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups, by David Wisniewski

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups
by David Wisniewski
48 pages
New York: Lothram, Lee & Shepard
ISBN 9780688153397

If America Were a Village, by David J. Smith

If America Were a Village: a book about the people of the United States
by David J. Smith
illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong
32 pages
Toronto: Kids Can Press, Ltd.
ISBN 9781554533442

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Twelve Dancing Princesses, by Marianna Mayer

The Twelve Dancing Princesses
by Marianna Mayer
illustrated by K.Y. Craft
40 pages
New York: HarperCollins
ISBN 9780688143923

Too Many Fairies, by Margaret Read MacDonald

Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale
by Margaret Read MacDonald
illustrated by Susan Mitchell
32 pages
Amazon Children's Publishing
ISBN 9780761456049

The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans, by Rick Geary

The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans
by Rick Geary
80 pages
New York: NBM Publishing
ISBN 9781561635818

Lies and Other Tall Tales, by Zora Neale Hurston and Christopher Myers

Lies and Other Tall Tales
collected by Zora Neale Hurston
adapted and illustrated by Christopher Myers
40 pages
New York: HarperCollins
ISBN 9780060006556

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, by Carole Boston Weatherford

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
48 pages
New York: Hyperion
ISBN 9780786851751

The Next Day, by John Porcellino, Paul Peterson, and Jason Gilmore

The Next Day: a graphic novella
by John Porcellino, Paul Peterson, and Jason Gilmore
100 pages
Toronto: Pop Sandbox
ISBN 9780986488412

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mary's Meals -- stretching the donated dollar

Mary's Meals (formerly Scottish Relief International) provides meals to impoverished children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America -- usually one meal every school day. The vital nutrition supplied by this charity is often enough to attract girls and boys to school and keep them there long enough to gain the education that will help them to succeed as they grow older. For children under six, too young to attend school and often without parents or primary caregivers, Mary's Meals feeding centers in Malawi provide two meals a day and basic child care.

Number of children receiving a daily meal in their place of education:

Albania - 20 | Benin – 557 | Bosnia – 25 | Burma – 281 | Ecuador – 233 | Haiti – 16,533 | India – 4,164 | Kenya – 20,830 | Liberia – 43,141 | Malawi – 549,114 | Philippines – 2,119| South Sudan – 6,010 | Sudan – 166 | Thailand – 568 | Uganda – 11,117 | Ukraine – 83   Global Total = 654,961

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dollar Costs of Marriage Inequality

A week ago, my sweetie and I registered our domestic partnership with the State of California. This week, I worked with my employer's HR department to register my new status and add her to my health insurance plan.

In many ways, this process is the same as if we'd been legally married -- the company recognizes us as a unit, and offers the same insurance coverage as it does to spouses. If she had children, they would be my eligible dependents as well. However, while both the company and the state recognize our partnership, the federal government does not. So how these benefits are treated varies between state and federal level.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alvin Ailey, by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Alvin Ailey
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
illustrated by Brian Pinkney
32 pages

New York: Hyperion
ISBN 9781562824136