Thursday, July 30, 2009

A challenge...

Can you guess what children's song this is?:

"Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivivic,

Would I could fathom thy matter specific.

Lustily proud in the ether capacious,

Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous."

[oh, diction, how fond I am of you!]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two highlights from today's American Library Association e-mail

  1. Evidently libraries are hotbeds of sexual tension -- in particular the British Library (which happens to be my favorite library, although for their treasures and not the whole sexual tension thing)
  2. The strange and wonderful phenomenon of marginalia gets its 15 minutes of fame in my favorite UK paper, the Guardian.
Aren't libraries just dandy?!?!

Observations at the Monroe County Fair

  1. Why are all bunnies so cute? I thought I could deal with bunny cuteness when the only bunnies I ever saw were the relatively plain brown ones found outside all over Indiana. But now that I know there are bajillions of types of bunnies, and all of them adorable? It's too much!
  2. When one rooster crows in the poultry pavilion, be prepared to exit said pavilion. Apparently roosters have some sort of mine-is-bigger contest prompted when one of their own lets out a crow. I wonder how far we can analyze that...
  3. There are lots of kids in Monroe County who appear to be rather crafty. They cook, sew, scrapbook, take photos, draw, make jewelry, build things with Legos, build things with flowers, decorate cakes, etc. And that's not even getting into the traditional 4-H events.
  4. Despite how things work at my home county's county fair (or, at least, despite how I remember them working; I haven't been to the Lake County Fair since my mom swore never to take my brother and I back when I was maybe 9), food vendors are not particularly open for lunch. How's a girl supposed to get an elephant ear??

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Good one, Grandma!

This conversation happened for real when I went with my mom and aunt to visit my grandma in the hospital over the weekend. It's safe to say my grandma's comment surprised us all.

(talking about some sort of party or barbecue she has/had)

Where did you go to get the meat?

Dunning's. Oh! Now I remember. Amy, I almost gave this guy your number while I was there.

(raises eyebrows skeptically)

He was tall and in an Army shirt. He seemed nice.

I would rather you didn't give my information to random men you see at delis.

Dunning's is more than a deli!

Yeah, they have the best foods. And lots of cute, younger guys seem to shop there.


It's a real meat market.

[Side note: My grandma seems to be doing better, at least better enough to be moved from the main hospital to their physical rehab center. If you're the praying type, however, I'd appreciate it if you keep her in your prayers.]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gaye Holud

This past Saturday, I went to Detroit with my parents and grandparents for my cousin and his fiancee's Gaye Holud. It's a traditional Bengali pre-marriage ceremony. According to my uncle, in traditional arranged marriages the bride and the groom often meet for the first time at the Holud. The entire ceremony is about the uniting of the two families. There's lots of gift exchanging, all of it meant to symbolize that the bride's family shall take care of the groom, and the groom's family shall take care of the bride.

Both my cousin, Matt, and his fiancee, Romey, processed into the ceremony under canopies. He followed a procession of all his present family; she followed a procession of all unmarried friends and women in her family.

Once the groom and the bride processed into the ceremony, they were seated in fancy chairs--thrones of sorts--under a larger canopy and surrounded by foods and gifts. While they sat in their seats of honor, guests were invited to bless the couple by putting a bit of turmeric on their foreheads and feeding them something sweet.

Romey's mom was gracious enough to outfit Matt's entire family in traditional garb. That means that I got to wear the sari I purchased while in India in January 2007. I have to say, for a group of very white people unused to things like saris and tunics, we ended up looking pretty good.

Note to everyone: partying is a sari is rather comfortable. You know, for future reference.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I am glad to once again be a prime numbered age. Yay 23!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Thought

Today, as I was walking back to my apartment from the bus after my morning class, I passed an almost two-dimensional chipmunk. At first I thought it was a big leaf on the asphalt, but as I was walking past it I noticed that tell-tale chipmunk striping. It was like some crazy optical illusion. I love chipmunks, so seeing this poor guy completely run over and splatted on the ground was sad.

Now, I'm normally a person who is entirely grossed out, to the point of reflexive shuddering, by roadkill without even the smallest trace of blood or guts to hint at its demise. And that's driving past said roadkill at 50+ miles per hour. So you'd think I'd be completely horrified by this chipmunk, right? Especially since I was walking past it, and not all too fast?

Not so. Didn't bother me a bit.

I think maybe I've been watching a little too much NCIS, with all of their graphic murder victims and autopsy-table close-ups.

Things to look forward to

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming weekend. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'll be driving home to the Region in the morning. Plans for tomorrow include hanging out with my brother; seeing what the heck is wrong with my phone battery; the best pizza in the world; my favorite birthday cake, which my mom makes wonderfully; and a show starring two of my best friends.

Then on Saturday I'm off with the family to Detroit for a Gaye Holud -- a Bengali pre-marriage ceremony in which the bride's family and the groom's family exchange gifts and, in general, get to celebrate the forthcoming joining of the two. I'm pretty excited; I had never even heard of a Gaye Holud until this spring when my cousin's soon-to-be wife's family sent us the invitation. And now I have a legit excuse to wear the sari I got in India back in January of 2007! I knew there had to be a purpose for it.

Right now, my plans are to drive back to Bloomington via Greencastle on Monday so that I can see some people and attend a fun little gathering. I'm going to ignore the homework component of the weekend until it's absolutely necessary to think about it. Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The beauty of a Wednesday

Today, I did not make my bed.

I made myself a big breakfast of potatoes, eggs, and cheese with a glass of oj.

I did not get out of my pajamas until I went out to get the mail around 3 o'clock.

I spent a bit of time volunteering at the library.

And I watched a couple of episodes of NCIS, my recent time-waster.

It was glorious.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear Frankie

I've gotten a little behind on watching my Netflix dvds. Today, however, with no cleaning, laundry, or homework to do, I hunkered down on the sofa to watch a film: Dear Frankie. I was immediately drawn to it when I saw a preview on some dvd or other that I actually own, both because the story looked amazing and because Emily Mortimer is in it. She's one of my favorites (Lars and the Real Girl, anyone??).

The movie was great -- even better than I had anticipated it being, which is saying something. The story is fantastically moving, and I really got into the characters. Plus, the whole thing takes place in Scotland. That accent, I think, shall forever be a soft spot for me. I am definitely recommending this movie, which is uplifting in all the right ways.

I really can't think of when I enjoyed a drama this much.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emily Post meets the internet

Everyone's always connected nowadays, it seems. Cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, Meebo, and all of that G3 whatnot. It also seems as though connectedness and social manners are inversely related; i.e., the more connected we are, the less polite we are in general. A travesty, indeed. What ever happened to consideration?

I was happy to read today that Wired magazine will be running a piece on etiquette in the digital world in their August issue. I hope people will read it and take heed. After all, if this is the direction in which communication is going, I sure hope we can be nice to one another down the line.

  • Don't lie with your Facebook photo.
  • If you can't buy it online, feel free to BitTorrent.
  • Don't hesitate to haggle on Craigslist.
  • Don't Google-stalk before a first date.
  • Never broadcast your relationship status.
  • Texting in the company of others is OK.
  • Never BCC anyone.
  • If your call drops, call back.
  • Don't blog or tweet anything with more than half a million hits.
  • Friday, July 17, 2009

    And the winner is...

    I thought that, since I brought up the topic earlier this month, I would enlighten everyone as to the 2009 winners of the fifth annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship. Evidently the competition was a heated one. Congrats, Oak Park Public Library in Illinois!

    Take a look at the Des Plaines Public Library's second-place routine. Ah, librarianship.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Words, Words, Words; Desolate, Desolate

    Tonight in my library class we were talking about vocabularies. In the context of libraries, where information and document retrieval is a constant reality, that often means controlled vocabularies. You know how you'll look in a book's index for one word, and it turns out that concept is actually indexed under a synonym (i.e. "internet" instead of "World Wide Web")? That's a practical example of a controlled vocabulary, wherein a controlled set of words is used to represent information. That way, when you want to look something up, you don't have to spend half an hour reading about a, b, and c when all you really wanted to know was x. In the context of a library, it makes everyone's job easier.

    But then we got to talking about whether it would be more efficient to just streamline everyday language as well; in other words, why don't we just get rid of all the fancy, longish words that "no one" knows and stick to the basics that everyone can understand?

    Does anyone else have a problem with that???

    I love words. I love them because they can sound beautiful in and of themselves (pastiche!). I love them because certain words trigger memories in my head. But I love them most of all because they help me to understand and communicate real things. I love words because they don't dumb down definition. They force you to truly comprehend, because each word has only certain meanings. With a real, non-controlled vocabulary, a person can express whatever he or she feels.

    Without so many words, we wouldn't have the tools to express ourselves in any meaningful way. We wouldn't be able to know anything more complex than "the cat sat on the mat" (etc.). We wouldn't be able to think.

    Vocabulary is such a human thing. Complex minds, complex language. Simple language... can't you see where that leaves us? Vocab is not elitest. It is not inefficient, because efficiency isn't determined by time alone. It is necessary.

    Or else we shall all be in a desolate, desolate state. And we wouldn't even know how to express that.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Some Good News, and Some Bad News: The Good News

    Harry Potter!

    I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning, and despite my immensely excited anticipation, it did not let me down. Where comedy was possible, it was wonderfully funny. And where plot points necessitated certain events? Well, I cried just as much as I did reading the book for the first time.

    Which is a funny story, actually. I have a history of my anxiousness getting the best of me, and such was the case when the sixth Harry Potter book came out. I had reserved a copy via, since my family and I would be in London at the time of the release, and I didn't want to risk Borders being sold out upon my return. It took seeing just one Underground train of Londoners reading their copies of the book to convince me to walk to Waterstone's and get a British copy of my own. During my family's afternoon rest/prepare for dinner time, I read it. And when a certain event occurred, I just started bawling. Loudly. Out of nowhere. My family, coming from the next room, asked what was wrong. Of course they hadn't read it yet, so I couldn't tell them. So there I am, crying on a hotel bed, unable to talk about it.

    And I am not a pretty crier. I get all blotchy, and my voice all quivery. Luckily it's dark in movie theatres, and they frown upon talking.

    But it was amazing. Go see it, immediately!!!

    Some Good News, and Some Bad News: The Bad First

    It seems there is a reason that no one has ever really instituted a formal Literary Quote Month: quoting something literary on a daily basis is darn difficult. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard for someone with a remarkable verbatim recall ability. But for an average reader like me, even if I'm particularly enthusiastic? It's difficult.

    So the bad news is that I'm discontinuing Literary Quote Month. By all means, work literary quotes into your day-to-day conversations when appropriate and amusing. It's better then painstakingly trying to think of a suitable literary quote by the end of the day.

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 12

    "I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here!"
    -Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

    My parents came to Bloomington for a visit this weekend. It was lovely, and we explored parts of Bloomington I had yet to experience. Also, we found a fabulous Tibetan place. You should come visit, too, for there is such fun here. =)

    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 11

    "This wine is too good for toast-drinking."
    -Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

    Today I went with my parents to the Oliver Winery just north of Bloomington. The grounds are beautiful, the tour was interesting, and the wine.... Oh, the wine was good. I really didn't know I could like wine this much. Happily, my wine rack is now full!

    Did you know that, in Indiana, where blue laws prohibit the purchase of alcohol on Sundays, wineries are the only people who can sell their alcoholic wares on Sunday? Good to know.

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 10

    "I do hope there's pudding."

    I did hope there was pudding after my wonderful dinner at FARMbloomington this evening. And pudding there was: in my case, lemon and lavender ice. It was amazing.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 9

    "Which leads me to my candy collection."

    Really, my candy is rather a stash more than a collection. It includes my favorite chocolate bar from the UK (Cadbury's Crunchie); some lovely lemon lollies; teacakes which will finally get enjoyed for my birthday party; shortbread; and Dove chocolates. I always like to be prepared for a sweet tooth, although somehow it always works out that I don't crave it when it's around. Probably a good thing.

    I'm glad that embedding audio and video is so easy...

    ...because some of this stuff is seriously too wonderful NOT to share.

    If insomnia shook you all night long...

    Working in a library is amazing because you find all sorts of things you would never have guessed even existed. Case in point? A wide selection of lullaby renditions of real, adult bands. We're not talking the Wiggles here (if you don't know who they are, don't bother looking them up; Raffi was way better). We're talking AC/DC. For little kids. For bedtime.

    I kid you not.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 8

    "Mighty Casey has struck out."
    -Ernest Thayer, "Casey at the Bat"

    This evening I was at the Monroe County Public Library again, both shelf-reading in the children's music section and supervising in the Preschool Education Center. There was only one child in the PEC during my hour shift, and quite a cute one he was. His M.O. for the evening was clearly to stack things; whether they were meant to be stacked was entirely immaterial. Thus it should come as no surprise that certain unstable towers tumbled, despite his best intentions.

    Tales From Band Camp

    In high school, my friend Melissa put her ample writing talents to use in writing Tales From Band Camp, a series of scenes based on actual events that occurred during our time in band. More often than not, these scenes capture verbatim the sorts of things that went on in our daily band lives. I was extremely lucky to receive a complete version of Tales From Band Camp: Seasons 1 and 2 as a high school graduation gift. Four years later, I still pull out the volume when I'm in need of a little cheering up.

    Well, when doing the reading for my library class that ended in Twitter discussion, I was reminded of a particular tale from band camp. This particular reading was talking about humans as users of language, artifacts, and methodologies in which they have been trained. Trained... Does training have to mean the imparting of knowledge from an authority to a novice? Or can training be self-supplied? Will we ever get an answer to such questions?


    [Another piece of Melissa's amazing oeuvre was recently performed at a playwright's event at IU. Snaps for Melissa!!]

    P.S. Hm... This is weird! It's exactly four years from then! Melissa, are you a psychic?

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Despite my Twitter rant, I do like...

    ...this experiment in converting legit lit to short form. The idea of conveying something as nuanced as Jane Austen's Persuasion within the constraints of something like Twitter is interesting on an intellectual level. Some of the time it's funny; other times it's obvious that Austen cannot be edited down.

    Either way, I'm glad that the speed read version can't hold a candle to the real deal.

    Literary Quote Month: Day 7

    "The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now."
    -George Orwell, 1984

    Today in my library class we got to talking about augmenting technologies. That is to say, we were discussing technologies, in particular online communication technologies, that theoretically help us to be more efficient in our communications. The starting point for our discussion was MySpace; then we moved on to Facebook; then we reverted chronologically a bit to instant messaging platforms before reaching the online communication du jour: Twitter.

    Twitter, in all honesty, creeps me out. Why on earth should I care what anyone has to say at all times? Why do I care what everyone else is thinking about? Don't I have enough going on in my own immediate space to keep me perfectly engaged with the world and occupied? Additionally, why would I want for other people to have access to my every thought and musing? I have plenty of privacy issues with Facebook as it is; I'd cancel my account if it wouldn't mean losing touch with people. So why would I want to fully put myself out there with something like Twitter?

    I think, too, that the hyper-abbreviation that 140-character limits breeds will ultimately cause our thinking process to stagnate and then recede. If you can only express in 140 characters, eventually you're going to start thinking within those limits as well. Talk about thinking inside the box. To the worst extreme.

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    In case you need something to smile about...

    I can't remember if I shared this before or not, but watch it anyways.

    Literary Quote Month: Day 6

    "That is to say..."
    -Jane Austen, several of her collected works

    Many a character in Jane Austen novels uses this phrase as a sort of rhetorical time-buyer; that is to say, they use this phrase when they are trying to say something important that could be misconstrued in a more clear, yet just-as-socially-polite-and-seemingly-neutral, way. If my memory serves me right, only the heroes and heroines use this phrase. Probably because only the heroes and heroines see fit to be intentional and thoughtful with their words. The Mr. Elliots don't bother with clarification because they never think of anyone but themselves.

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 5

    "Many others who did not kneel prayed in their hearts."

    Not everyone kneels at mass. Not everyone kneels to pray on their own. But hopefully we all still pray.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders, Part IV

    Evidently, there is an upside to it raining all day long. Turns out that wasps don't like to come out of their sneaky little nest in my porch siding unless the weather is pleasant. So, like the brave person I am, I Raid-ed the heck out of that thing. AND I sprayed all around the windows and sliding glass door with the bug barrier stuff, which should hopefully now allow me to open my windows on appropriately-temperatured days without facing an onslaught of many-legged visitors come nightfall.

    For now, at least, I'm going to claim victory in my battle with the Outsiders. Ha!

    Literary Quote Month: Day 4

    "Balls to that."

    Yeah, I know, that's not much in the way of a literary quote. But, in my defense, my using that particular quote as my one for today should be acceptable because I used it within the context Powell herself does. Whenever something would go a little wrong with one of her recipes, or if one of the Julia Child's instructions was just too much, Powell would say "Balls to that." And so did I today when, after the farmers' market and additional stops at a grocery store and Target, I arrived home only to discover that I still didn't have all the necessary ingredients to make pesto.

    I knew I should've bought that garlic. Balls to that.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders, Part III

    I was about to go out to my porch to spray the window and door perimeters this morning, I really was. But then I saw more wasps, hovering right on the other side of the screen door and flying in and out of the hole where the porch light should be fit tightly against the siding. Silly me, putting the can of Raid in the porch storage closet so that I can't get to it without having to go past this new wasp hang out.

    It's going to be all I can do to bring myself to continue to water my basil plant, because I really don't know how a short person like me can adequately combat wasps in the wall when the hole is reasonably high up, even with a can of Raid than can shoot over 20 feet. The angles just don't match.

    Fortunately, though, my parents are visiting next weekend. Dad, I have a job for you...

    Literary Quote Month: Day 3

    "You can't show your bosom before three o'clock."
    -Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

    I said this to myself (and, because I hadn't seen her standing there, the dressing room attendant) while trying on clothes at Anthropologie and seeing how some of them looked in the three-way mirror. I'd like to think that the more cleavage-y shirts were so revealing because they weren't cut for a petite torso. Whether that's true or not, I don't really know.

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders, Part II

    Today I sprayed the second and larger wasps' nest with Raid. I positioned myself just so in order that I would be able to re-enter my apartment. Now all that's left is the actual bug-perimeter-ing of the door and windows, which is on my agenda for tomorrow. Since it should not involve angering creepy crawlers which can send me into anaphylactic shock (or, at the very least, make affected appendages swell up like Aunt Marge in HP3), I'm not too worried.

    Literary Quote Month: Day 2

    "Curiouser and curiouser."

    Have you ever tried to define information? Try it and you'll understand why this particular literary quote fit particularly well into a class discussion today.

    My Morning Discovery

    The thing with switching on the computer in the morning is that, before you've had a chance to actually go out into the world for the day, the world can reach you. Now, this can be both a good thing or a bad thing. Getting out of the shower to find that a favorite store is closing, the peanut butter crackers you've been snacking on have been recalled, or another plane crashed? Those are all bad things.

    When your first real information about the world for the day happens to be the knowledge of the existence of a Librarian Book Cart Drill Championship at the American Library Association? Now that's awesome.

    Methinks it's going to be a good day today.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders

    The battle began last night. I was calmly reading on the living room sofa when I saw it: a big black spider, it's middle the circumference of a dime at the very least. I did not scream, no no. I may have sequestered myself in the bathtub, however, had my summer roommate and her male friend not come in while I was contemplating my plan of attack. Graciously, he removed the repulsive thing from the wall.

    You see, it turns out that even 70-degree weather isn't always hunky dory, particularly when one resides near a wood. I had the sliding door open onto my porch, with only a slightly ill-fitting screen as barrier between apartment and wilderness. I checked thoroughly for more bugs before I went to bed.

    This morning I bought an insect-killing and -repelling spray at Target, as well as some Raid for wasps. When I went out on my porch to spray the wasps' nest I had discovered on my porch, however, I discovered a second, much larger one practically right over the entrance to my living room. I lost my resolve and ran inside. After all, what would happen if my spraying one nest enraged the other? I could only spray one at a time! And I was home by myself! If I got stung, such terrible things could happen (I'm allergic)! And no one would know for, at the very earliest, several hours!

    I spent most of the day avoiding my porch whilst giving myself a pep talk. Finally, just before my volunteer shift at the library, I resolved to spray the first nest (I figured that the library was expecting me, and if I didn't show they might possible be a little concerned as well as peeved). I donned my long rain coat, stuffed my epi-pen one pocket and my cell phone in the other should a stinging occur, and I opened my screen door just wide enough to stick out my arm, aim the Raid can, and shoot one nest. It was rather drippy because I think I overdid it a little bit, but I think I won the battle against this particular nest.

    The saga shall continue tomorrow, when I attempt to take out the baseball-sized nest. I'm a little afraid, as I have to physically be out on the porch to have a proper Raid-spraying angle. Which means I have little margin for error if I want to be able to reenter my apartment after the Raid attack. [If I don't blog tomorrow, try calling my cell phone. I may need someone with a ladder to come let me off my balcony.]

    To be continued...

    Literary Quote Month: Day 1

    "'And now,' cried Max, 'let the wild rumpus start!"
    - Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

    Tonight was my first volunteer shift at the Monroe County Public Library. I spent the first of my two hours shelf reading, also known as making sure children's cds are in proper Dewey Decimal order and re-shelving the misplaced ones. I spent the second hour in the Preschool Education Room, both tidying up and interacting with the kiddies. I'm sure you can understand how this children's book quote could become wildly relevant.

    **It's not too late! You, too, can participate in Literary Quote Month! Each day in July, integrate a literary quotation into regular conversation; then report back in the comments on this blog, or in your own space on the web!