Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Witty's Year End Book Review 2014

It's December 24, last year I did this on that day and today seems like as good a day to do it as well.

The rules are simple: these are from the books I've read - sometimes re-read - during this year.  While I kept it last year to current books - in honor of having a job again in a library filled with books - this year I feel I can go back to the books I've re-read as part of the review.  Hope you don't mind.

Best Fiction

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

I've made a decision to try and get into new science fiction authors, as waiting on anything new by Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, Iain M. Banks or Arthur C. Clarke is going to be a bit of a problem.  I saw this title as a Nebula award winner and so made the jump.
Breq is the only survivor of a missing, possibly destroyed sentient spaceship of which she - and gender pronouns get to be an issue as the story progresses - was mentally part of, meaning half her memories and identities are a mess.  She becomes embroiled in a bizarre galactic civil war within Breq's empire that leads to sequel hooks aplenty.  Leckie's work is very similar to Banks' Culture series, with a well-designed 'verse that plays with the conventional tropes of space opera (which means it delves into a mess of human identity issues in-between all the laser fights).  It is one of those books that requires re-reading to make certain you didn't miss a plot point.

Best Non-Fiction

What If? Randall Munroe

The creator of xkcd, a webcomic of absurdist thought, puns, and scientific accuracy, kept getting all of these weird science questions to answer and so started a secondary blog that would answer "What If We Did This?"  Ranging from such crazy ideas as "what would happen if we drained out the oceans" or "what would happen if a pitcher threw a baseball near the speed of light", Munroe applies actual (and sometimes theoretical) physics and engineering to the question to bring up some of the more bizarre - and world-threatening - consequences of such events.
For example, pitching a baseball at the speed of light would cause a nuclear reaction of such intensity that it would wipe out the baseball stadium and the city it was in... and when you throw in the rules of baseball, it means the batter was hit by the ball and advances to first base.
If you want your mind blown, you gotta read this book.

Best Non-Fiction I Praised On My Political Blog


The Selling of the President, Joe McGinniss

As I noted on my Notice a Trend blog: this book was the first one from college I kept, rather than trade back in after my classes were done.  It's short but exposes so much of the sins of our current political culture.  I still feel this is one of those books everyone needs to read once in their lives, if only to realize how corrupt our election/campaigning system has become.  I wrote about the book due to McGinniss passing away this year, and I feel it deserves special mention here.

Best Graphic Novel Series


Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman with JH Williams

Gaiman returns to his breakout graphic series Sandman with a prequel tale about how the human personification of Dream, Morpheus, was captured and broken by a dark magus in the early years of World War I (from the first volume Preludes and Nocturnes).  Like all Gaiman works, it hits the tropes early and hard, and can get confusing for anyone who hasn't read the original series back in the 1990s.  But the series promises to answer several of the mysteries and secrets from Gaiman's back-history of his magnum opus, including the reasons why Dream must destroy any dream vortexes that arise among us dreamers...

Best Mystery Anthology That Includes a Short Story I Wrote


Mardi Gras Murder, Sarah E. Glenn (editor)

Another anthology, this time more of a straight up mystery/thriller type tale called "Why The Mask."  It's less "Whodunnit" and more "Howdunnit", about a woman seeking revenge in 1930s New Orleans, but I hope it appeals to the mystery/thriller crowds.





Sunday, December 21, 2014

New Story: Welcome to Christmas In Florida

I got the cover art worked out: a co-worker at the library is good at drawing and so helped me out of this jam.  Remind me to pay her commission when she gets back from her Christmas vacation.
It's a follow-up to my earlier estory "Welcome to Florida."  It happened for two reasons: 1) I wanted to do a Christmas short story about how we cope in Florida with a snow-less holiday that's supposed to have snow, and 2) a local writers' group Writers 4 All Seasons had a writing challenge of having characters react to a surprise guest visitor from their lives.  When that challenge was offered, I realized I had a conflict in that second idea I could use to tell the first idea.

So I made the surprise guest visitor a Santa Claus with a dark agenda.  Hopefully, hilarity ensues (I am pimping the story as humor - short story).

I also wanted Trans-Siberian Orchestra to show up as a caroling group so I could riff off the old holiday special tropes of having musical guest stars.  I changed the band name within the story (trying to avoid the lawsuit, eh), but you can kinda tell it's them when they show up.

Amazon.com already has it up for sale as a Kindle book for the ereaders.

Barnes & Noble (bn.com) has it up for sale as a Nook book too.  Both stores have it selling at $.99 (the lowest price an author can set: as a short story, I shouldn't be charging any higher).

If you have the inclination, own an ereader Kindle or Nook (or have a tablet/laptop with the ereader app), and like humorous stories that are wildly implausible and contain at least three grammatical errors, please do me a favor and consider downloading my tale.  If you do, please also leave a review.

Danke, and IO SATURNALIA!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Now Working On a Cover For the eStory

I've been told the use of the clipart off of CorelDraw 9 (from, what, 15 years ago?) might violate the use agreement if I sell the story, soooooo... I need to draw my own alligator by hand.  WITH a Santa hat.

This is gonna be a long night.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kindle Loading

So I finally got around to plugging in my estories "Welcome to Florida" and "Hero Cleanup Protocol" to the Kindle Direct service.

It didn't make sense to not have my estories available in one of the two major ebook formats - Kindle's and EPUB's - but Amazon never got around to accepting Smashwords (in which I first submitted "Hero Cleanup Protocol") and I wasn't certain it was legally okay for me to re-publish a story I had first loaded for Nook ("Welcome to Florida").

Since I own the copyright on both stories, I figure I ought to be able to re-submit to cover Kindle and ensure I can publish in both formats.

Now it's a question of finishing the Christmas story sequel to "Welcome".  Hopefully get it reviewed by Tuesday, uploaded by Wednesday... :evil grin:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Crash Writing

Sure I ought to focus on getting the NaNo novel continuing, but a writing challenge from a local group stirred up an old idea in my head and I'm charging into creating a short story to see about getting it epublished for the holidays!

Hint: it involves the couple from the "Welcome To Florida" story.

Be right back...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Winners

Just reached the 50,000 word count for NaNoWriMo:



As always, the novel itself is nowhere near finished - at this rate, it needs another 50,000 words just to get to a good closing spot - and will need serious revision and rewrite during the editing phase.

But I'm feeling good about this one.  I will keep writing.  I will get this published.

This is just a placeholder cover.  If I can scrounge up $300 or so, I might hire a professional illustrator to make something better... :)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Welcome to the Speedbump that is TURKEY PAGAN SACRIFICE DAY

Seriously.

I think the reason why the NaNoWriMo site managers went with November as the Month of Writing is because Thanksgiving hovers here at the end of the month like a massive speedbump.  A huge distraction from writing writing and even MORE WRITING.  I mean, here you are with two to four days of NO WORK NO SCHOOL and you're well close to 50,000 words by now if you've kept at it, and you're thinking OH MY GOD I CAN FINISH UP NO PROBLEM.

And then you realize there's COOKING and EATING and WATCHING FOOTBALL and STUCK WITH CRAZY NON-WRITER RELATIVES who can't even comprehend the awesomeness that is getting a novel typed up.

And that's just Thursday.  Then there's Friday, which is pretty much a day off anyway for most of us, and BOOM THERE'S MAD SHOPPING FOR BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS or heading out to Busch Gardens/Disney/Universal Theme Parks with energy-sapping relatives who drag you everywhere instead of letting you get 2,000 more words in before that damn roller coaster ride that always knocks you unconscious from the g-forces.

You'll be lucky if you can get back into the writer mindset by Saturday.  As long as your relatives aren't college football alums and their schools are playing the BIG RIVALRY GAMES WOOHOO OH NO CMON WAR EAGLE BEAT TIDE.

This is like that part of the marathon where you've gotten your 20 kilometers in and you can feel the finish line and then there's this 80 foot hill with a 50 degree incline and potholes everywhere as your legs give out.

Thanks a lot, NaNo people.  You really know how to mess with our heads.

KEEP WRITING, NANO'ERS!

And enjoy the turkey sacrifice.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Trick With NaNoWriMo: Stay Interested

More than staying focused, the thing is if you lose interest in your work the second NaNo ends - either hitting 50,000 or hitting December 1st - the whole endeavor goes for naught.

It's not that you have to force yourself to follow through.  You have to like the work enough to see the value of continuing with it.  Even just one nugget of a plot idea, one line, one moment by your characters, is enough to justify finishing the rough draft.

Writing is both work AND fun.  Find the fun part, and you'll get through the work in no time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Keeping Up

Week Three now lined up, getting past the 32,000 word count and aiming for 40,000 by the end of the week (I think).  I'm starting to lose track of which day limit I gotta surpass.

I'm getting some traffic of NaNoWriMo interest.  I gotta ask, any of you currently writing the novel this year?  Post a comment, lemme know how you're doing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Midway Point Update

Hola and opa.

I'm currently past 25,000 words en route to hopefully a 5,000 word day to get to 30,000.  It'd be nice to have some clearance room to make the finish line.

One of the things I'm seeing on Facebook and Twitter is frustration: this is the point where writers are starting to think "I'm never going to get to the good parts" or that "my characters are going in directions I didn't want them to go."  Frustration is what drives writers to quit sometimes, even when the work is actually going places and getting things done.

I've found that not worrying about getting to the good parts isn't a problem.  Even if what you're writing right now doesn't look like it should be in the finished product, that's NOT your concern at the moment.  Editing comes later.  This is the rough draft.  Get all the words on file/paper NOW.  You can edit and fix story order, character traits, and other tidbits later.

Relax.  Your novel is SUPPOSED to be messy.  Keep at it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update: Write-Ins For Florida>Elsewhere

Just a reminder, we've got a NaNo Write-In scheduled for Winter Haven Public Library this Thursday Nov. 6th from 5 pm to 7 pm.

There's a Write-In for people in Indian River County at the Indian River State College (Ft. Pierce) on Friday the 7th from 1 pm to 4 pm.  And then down I-95 and the Turnpike there's a Write-In at the Cummings Library in Palm City in Martin County from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

And there's a Write-In on Saturday the 8th for east Polk County and surrounding communities at the Lake Wales Public Library from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Currently at 7300 words, give or take a misspell.  I should be well above 10,000 words before Friday, and the weekend should give me a word count boost.  I need to make sure I'm getting to the key points of my novel though...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Day One

HERE IS MY OPENING SENTENCE:

Call me Rascafelopasikusyzaquld.

...whadda ya mean, it's been done?

Still, gotta admit any opener I type won't compare to this winner.


Friday, October 31, 2014

NaNoWriMo Prep: KITTEH PICTURES

Just a reminder that one year tonight I meet this mewling little hungry kitteh on the steps of my apartment as I sat Halloween night working on my NaNoWriMo preparations, and who moved in with me a month later and gave birth to a litter:
Happy anniversary, Ocean the Wiggle Cat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NaNoWriMo: In Case Anyone Asks About Why My Aliens Are Blue-Skinned Humanoids

They're a species able to shapeshift in their natural forms, and so when they mass-bred human forms they merely adjusted their skin pigmentation to look blue.

If anybody asks about the unhealthy levels of hemoglobin or silver in their bloodstreams, I'll just whistle a jaunty tune and keep writing...

(muttering under breath) damn geeks, we never stop nitpicking do we....

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One Week Before NaNoWriMo 2014

GET PUMPED UP, WRITERS.

You want motivation heading into next week?  Here you go:

I met Tim Dorsey at his presentation at the Bartow Public Library last week.  I mentioned to him the thing about NaNoWriMo, that it's writing a novel up to 50,000 words within 30 days.

Dorsey mentioned that his Serge A Storms book Orange Crush - his third - was 80,000 words and he finished it in 40 days.  That's roughly 2000 words a day, close to the amount needed to do NaNo (1667) in 30 days.  Heck, writing 2000 words is easy to do during a Write-In event, those events tend to last 2 hours.  That's 2 hours in a day.  And there's more than 2 hours in a day a writer can find the time to write.

Doing NaNo is an easy thing to do, as long as you prepare yourself to write.  Planning out the days you're going to be able to find the time.  Planning out the rough narrative / outline of your work.  Knowing your characters before you write them.  These are all the easy steps you can be doing right now before logging in to www.nanowrimo.org to get set... ready... WRITE!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tim Dorsey at Bartow Public Library: The Early Warning

We're hosting Tim Dorsey - of the Serge A Storm series - this Saturday at Bartow Public Library (Bartow, FL).

We expect Mr. Dorsey will talk about his travels across the state, and how he determines the proper method of killing off rude characters in each unique touristy locale.

I'm serious.  If Tim Dorsey includes a character based on you in any of his Serge novels, you will die in a painful and creative manner...

So be very polite when he shows up, and no sudden movements, and STOP TURN OFF THAT AUTOFLASH ON YOUR SMARTPHONE NOOOOOoooo... Oh no... OH NO.  RUN...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Clearing Out the Leftovers

Tell me to get at least two of the six stories finished that I'd planned to make part of my superhero narrative from 2013 NaNo before Halloween.  Two.  That's all.  I got one, if I can get two I can post them in a combo mini-anthology of sorts on Smashwords or something.

TELL ME.  I need an editor with an egg timer and a 2x4 standing behind me right about now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Another Reckoning Another Chance

It's time to NANO.
This year I'm plotting out an alien invasion with a twist (the aliens are here to SPOILERS).

Meantime, I am finishing up some of the chapters from LAST YEAR's NaNo attempt to see about getting the rough draft edited out and published before I get working this November on this new one.

This time I'll have the 2013 work finished BEFORE I go jumping for an artist / cover designer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Cat Warning

It's the month of All Hallows.

It is the time of black kittehs to stalk the sides of windows and signage for trick or treating.

It is the time of Mal the Crazy Kitteh.

You cannot stop him.

You cannot contain him.

And he will shred your toilet paper.

This month is his.

Beware the Crazy Kitteh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doing Good as a Librarian

I mentioned Ask A Librarian (AAL) before: an online chat service libraries provide for the public and students to ask questions and request research.  At the university/college level it's for students stuck off-campus to get help finding online research or figure out what they need for assignments.  At the public library level: we're for home-schooled or virtual school students and for middle/high school students; or for adults needing help with placing holds, figuring out ereaders, and whether or not their library card numbers are still valid.

It's a state-wide program: a lot of the county and city libraries provide staff to give an hour or two a day at least once a week.  We get about four questions an hour, usually from the big systems like Jacksonville, Broward, Tampa/Hillsborough, Miami/Dade, Orange County (Orlando), sometimes Lee and Monroe.  The quirky ones are the ones out-of-state: I had one from Shasta College... one from Bolton (UK!)... anyway I digress.

Every month, the organization overseeing AAL gives out a couple of staff awards.  There's one for the librarian who provides extra effort to make sure most of the hours are covered as best as possible, called the Superstar award.

I was named for September's Superstar:
There's a plaque for it!

From Jessica at TBLC:
Paul is the Reference and Computer Librarian at the Bartow Public Library which is part of the Polk County Library Cooperative. He was been at Bartow since February 2013 and has been an outstanding team member of Ask A Librarian since his arrival. He has also been nominated for several exemplary reference awards.
Paul volunteers to cover shifts needing last-minute help on the Collaborative Desk. Paul's eagerness to help librarians and staff from around the state shows true dedication to the collaborative program. His virtual reference knowledge reaches customers in a true time of need.
Paul is a crucial member of the Ask A Librarian program. Please help me congratulate this month’s SuperStar winner, Paul Wartenberg from Bartow Public Library.

I'm feeling good right now.

Update (10/17/14): I wasn't allowed to keep the plaque. It's rotated around to the monthly winners.  Ah well.  At least I had it on my wall... :)



Friday, August 29, 2014

So I Might Be Selling Stories After All...?

Just got this in the email:
Huh.  I earned about 10.00 for my NOOK Book sales.

The only thing I got plugged into NookPress is my short story "Welcome to Florida".  Selling that at about .99 a download.  So uh... hmm... I got over 10 people to actually buy/read that short story.

I need to login in and double-check the sales info.  Make sure there's not an accounting issue.

And yes, I do have to report this 10 bucks to the IRS.

You do not f-ck with the IRS.  Even the Joker does not f-ck with the IRS.
P.S. I may have another short story getting anthologized.  More later.

UPDATE: Actually, the NookPress service doesn't tally up any sales returns until a minimum of $10 is there.  And it's not the full .99 cents from the sale of each copy, so I've actually sold more than just ten... most of the sales were back in 2012 by the looks of the sales chart, just had two sales this year in June, ergo this financial quarter being the line-crossing.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Personal Note: Back on Weight Watchers

I had fallen off the wagon, as it were, back when I was unemployed and couldn't afford the weekly/monthly fees.  As a result - combined with other matters - my weight got back up to where it was the LAST time my doctor told me I was morbidly obese (310-ish).  So...

Started three weeks ago at 309 lbs.  Last week's weigh-in I was down 3 lbs.  I need to reach 15 lbs loss in about ten weeks, and then get it down to 30 lbs (the "ten percent" goal) within twenty weeks.  So right now I'm aiming for 294 lbs and then 279 lbs after that.

Just gotta cut back on the pizza.  And the chocolate.  And the sodas (seriously, that's a major part right there).  And the chocolate.  And the mac and cheese...

And while there's a big emphasis on eating more greens (and just generally eating less of the stuff that just makes you fat), there's a smarter emphasis on portion control than on cutting back on the "bad" stuff altogether (that creates denial, then total rejection of the dieting effort) combined with more activity (burn baby burn, Calories Inferno!).  Walk more, eat less...

So don't be surprised if you see me biking a lot more often.  Do be terrified, though: WHERE'S THE BRAKES ON THESE THINGS! AIIIEEEEEE...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Survived Tampa Bay Comic Con 2014: The Prelude (with Update)

I return to you with tidings of great geekery which shall be to all people.

Namely, that Tampa's Comic Con has gotten a little bit bigger and lot more fun.

Also, per my previous post about the fan squee for Batgirl's new outfit, I found one cosplayer yesterday who already (within two weeks!) made an excellent version of it!
SNAP-ON CAPE!  squeeeee
That said, my full review is unfortunately going to be on my other blog - I have made too many other comic-con postings over there, so gotta go with where I've got the traffic going - so I will provide a link to that as soon as I've finished writing it.

P.S. gonna go see Guardians of the Galaxy this morning as well.  There's been too much good buzz about it to hold off longer.

UPDATE: the link to the Comic-Con review is up!  Also, I saw Guardians this afternoon.  Good movie, has some obvious jumps in narrative that looks like a lot of deleted stuff waiting for DVD/Blu-Ray, funny as all out which is what we need in summer action movies more often...  But Dear God... they wanna bring back (SPOILER ALERT!  SPOILER ALERT!)?!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO gasp wheeze OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cough cough wheeze gag insert additional choking noises here

...somewhere in this galaxy, George Lucas is laughing at his revenge on us all...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why Artists Went Fan Squee Over Batgirl's New Outfit

Just as I'm getting ready to attend next Saturday's Tampa Bay Comic-con, there's been a bit of interest in the comics industry about a revamped look for one of the big names in the DC Universe.  Batgirl (technically the second one, Barbara "Babs" Gordon) is getting a new look:

Edit: the artist is Babs Tarr (Babs is drawing Babs!).  She's a big deal.  Check her out.

The response has been epic.  Within a day (I am not kidding), fan art from professional and independent graphic artists flooded the Intertubes.

Part of it is due to the outfit being so damn sensible: instead of it being a glorified swimsuit, or spandex form-fitting distraction, the new outfit is practical.  Leather jacket and armor.  Regular boots (although the laces may be a weak spot!).  The utility belt (no Bat goes without one) uses an additional leg strap to keep it and the main pouch secure.  The cowl doesn't get trapped over the ears.  Above all: THE CAPE.

Fans are divided over the idea of a cape.  Some supers can't be one without it (Superman in particular).  But in terms of practicality...  The movie Incredibles spells it out:
NO CAPES!

Batgirl is going to employ a simple, sensible alternative: snap-on, snap-off cape (via Sam Logan).


Fans are ga-ga for the snap-on.  My favorite response so far has been from Mike Maihack.  He's done a handful of Batgirl-Supergirl (in canon and fanon Babs and Kara are BFFs) one-sheets before, and with the new uniform he couldn't resist:

in Maihack's tellings, Kara's a bit of a fashionista, much to Babs' dismay...
See Kara popping that snap-on?  Yup.  Fans dig the snap-on.

As for the other reason fans are going ga-ga...

Part of the response is due to the background of Barbara Gordon herself.  Ever since her inception in the mid-1960s (the Silver Age), Barbara's place among the fandom has been usually well-received.  When the Killing Joke happened - the infamous issue where the Joker paralyzed her by shooting through her spine - the horrified response was universal (even the writer Alan Moore - himself a master Deconstructor, he dissed the capes too - regretted the move).  Bat-fans within the industry quickly worked to make Barbara a new heroine - Oracle - while the fans working via fanart and fanfic came up with stories of her regaining the use of her legs.  It took yet another multiverse Crisis (DC unfortunately has gotten into the sad habit of rebooting itself every 3-4 years now /headdesk) to return to an earlier reboot making her college-age again and back to mobility.

The fan-love for Barbara comes from her origin.  The reason she became Batgirl was because she was a fangirl in costume (from the Hero Sandwich blog):
Artist Carmine Infantino















One things the comics creators try to do is develop a character/hero the potential audience can relate to.  When it became clear that kids were superhero books' biggest readers, the publishers created "sidekick" pre-teens (Speedy, Robin, the Newsboy Legion) to act as in-story surrogates.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes you'd get a Scrappy.

In Barbara's case, she was relatively unique.  Most sidekicks - and heroes that mentored them - came from damaged backgrounds, suffering some terrible injustice or fleeing a deadly fate that would become a motivating factor in their decision to dress up and fight crime.

Barbara was on her way to a costume ball, dressed up as her favorite superhero, when she has to stop Killer Moth - yes, villains from the 1950s and 1960s were a bit lame - from kidnapping Bruce Wayne.

She's pretty much an ascended cosplayer.

Hence the fan-love.

I wonder how many costumers at the Tampa comic-con are gonna have snap-on capes... (don't look at me. I'm gonna try to fit into the Jedi outfit mom sewed for me).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Good News Bad News Categories: July 2014 Edition

1) Bad news: I couldn't keep up with Camp NaNo this month.  Just couldn't, too many distractions and just didn't plan ahead for it.  Good news: I am putting in to be a regional moderator for Polk County/Lakeland for the regular NaNo this November just to see if I can spread the 50k a month manifesto. Even better news: trying to get stuff written got me motivated enough to finish another story submission to Mystery & Horror LLC, so we'll see how that goes... :)

2) Bad news: found out I had a flat tire.  Equally bad news, nearly crushed a finger coping with the nightmare of getting the spare tire off and nearly losing the car on the driveway incline.  Good news: finger's just bruised and was able to get the tire fixed rather cheap and refilled with Nitrogen.

3) Bad news: still lonely.  Good news: ...well, I need to figure out social skills before I can fix this kind of bad news... sigh.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Summer And That Means Camp. Camp NaNoWriMo

Seriously?

Apparently, people wanted to do the whole novel-in-a-month thing during other months, so the makers of National Novel Writing Month created Camp NaNo.

So... I'm signing up for the July one to see if I can get re-focused on the writings I've done for the regular NaNos.  It seems that once the month is over, I lose interest or get distracted and all, which isn't fair to my work(s) piling up.

And I think Camp NaNo tries to do the support/motivational stuff via online chats and sharing.

So... does anyone else do Camp NaNo?  Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Anniversary: 20 Years of North Regional Broward County Library!

As I mentioned earlier and elsewhere, today is the official 20th anniversary of the North Regional Library in Broward County.  I showed up for the celebrations, and to document how the place looks today:

 BUT FIRST DUCKIES!  There was a parade of ducklings cutting across the Broward College campus (North Regional is a shared library with the community college here), so yes I had to take pictures!
They've added some additional signage out front over the years...
 The (in)famous stained-glass hanging art in the stairwell is no more.  Apparently Hurricane Wilma left a mark on the building.  Sad to say, but being a glass sculpture was a bit odd to hang in south Florida, especially with the sunlight focused off all that reflective mirrors up in the skylight above... we had one of the artwork shards shatter every so often, much to the staff's concern...  I don't know what the library system plans on putting up there to replace it... preferably something cloth?

 The stairwell itself.  Behind it there's a wall blocking off the college's Learning Resource Center: it's being enlarged/renovated, so here's hoping something nice comes out of it...
 These boats have been here in the Children's area since NR opened.  Also to note, the Young Adult/Teen room was being heavily used today, which is nice: when I started here we didn't have much teen activity, so it's good it's picked up...
 I was responsible for the collection management of the 900 Dewey shelves.  We never DID get enough books on Jamaica - History to satisfy demand, did we...?  Sigh.
 And... the party!  In the auditorium...
This was as the crowd was getting in.
The library hired a trio - Drum Cafe - to work an interactive show this afternoon, so it did get a bit noisy... I SAID IT GOT A BIT NOISY IN THE... NO, NOTHING TO DO WITH BAKING SODA, NO.  WHAT?  SPEAK LOUDER, THE PERCUSSION SECTION IS... WHAT?  HELLO?

I thought I had picture of cake.  Sigh.  Lemme go check my cell phone, await updates please... :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Because It's Friday The 13th, and You NEED More Cat Pictures On The Internet

Considering the unlucky day that is Friday the 13th, I decided to box up Mal my black kitteh:
You know, just to be on the safe side...

He's getting to be as long as my forearm, getting bigger every day...

I will see you all in North Broward tomorrow for the 20th anniversary of North Regional Library!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Look What I Found On the New Processing Cart At Bartow Library

Someone's gone and done a YA novel about Library Ninjas...

I oughta be kicking myself though.  I've been thinking up of the need for library ninjas since the 1990s when I wrote my American Libraries humor article about squelching book theft.  Which led into my "Overdue" short story in my Grapefruit Wars anthology...  Shoulda known there could be a market for a full book.

Well played, Downey, well played.

I still got the market cornered on cyborg ninjas battling exploding space penguins...  wait, don't start writing that out!  NO!  MY IDEA, MINE!  Aaaaaaa (rushes off to power-type during this Memorial Day weekend)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Think I Should Warn You I'm Digging Out My Old HTML Pages

...and I may stick them to this blog.

There's this whole Pages option over here on the Menu I MUST try out...

And there's one set of pages that is entirely apropos.... bwhahahahahahahaha

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Anniversary: My First Full-Time Job

Twenty years ago - Spring of 1994 - I was looking for full-time work.

I had a part-time Library Adjunct position at the St. Pete Junior College Clearwater campus off Drew St. at the time.  It was nice, working the reference desk, helping students get on the CD-ROM databases and look for books in the two-story building.  I had just gotten my Masters degree in Library and Info Sciences at University of South Florida (GO BULLS) and was hoping to find a full-time spot at an academic-level library.

While it wasn't an academic library, I got a call from Broward County Libraries to interview.  The county system was this large, spread-out system that used regional libraries as nexus points for the smaller community libraries that dotted the packed urban/suburban landscape.  They were going with a novel idea at the time of sharing the large regional libraries with the Broward community college campuses.  They were building a brand new building for the BCC North Campus, and needed full-time staff to cover the expanding Reference desk (BCC provided two existing librarians to staff the desk as well).

I had scored well on the civil service exam I took at the ALA convention back in 1993 apparently, and passed the phone interview well enough to get the face-to-face.  They had asked me to bring my MLS degree with me so they could photocopy it.  Foolishly, my parents already paid for it to get framed and we couldn't get it out of the mounting... so I lugged this bulky framed degree under my arm into the interview where I got hired.

There was the rush of driving around the county with dad to find an apartment complex I could rent out within a month.  There was the hassle of figuring out what to pack and carry down.  There was the confusion of figuring out which roads to take and which led to nowhere (if Broward County had one thing going for it, it was that most of the roads were in a grid pattern: figuring out intersections became the easiest thing to do).

And then it was May.  My parents helped me move down from Pinellas County.  May 8th was my birthday (and also Mother's Day, which we celebrated at a nice restaurant, I forget where now) that Sunday.  I was twenty-four years old.  And then Monday May 9th I started my first full-time job at North Regional Library.


The library itself was already open, at least on the first floor where the college students used the computer lab and study rooms available to get their work done.  Reference was on the second floor, and there was still a lot of work to get done before the official opening in June.  Books still to unpack and shelve: the county library system shipped us boxes of used, moldy reference books from a defunct East Regional library that had gotten flooded out.  We spent three days trying to integrate those books with their bad Dewey numbers and worse book bindings before our bosses were able to argue to the county to get rid of those poor things.

We had to set up our desk policies and our shifts.  We had to undergo a crash course on the weeding policies that Broward County required.  Our assistant reference department head at the time was very strict about collection management: I could never convince her that the college students we'd be getting would need history books on specific time-frames (to her, a book covering just one year of history wasn't for us: she seemed to think broad history books were the only ones worth having...).  She was right about weeding out travel books as quick as possible, though...

It was my first full-time job.  In a brand-spanking new library building with this open stairwell and pretty glass-framed sculpture dangling from the ceiling.  I had my own workdesk.  We shared two staff computers using WordPerfect 5.1 and then 6.0.  We had a spacious staff lounge, fresh carpeting, chairs with rollers...

It was twenty years ago.

A lot changed since then.  I've been to other branches in Broward County Libraries since then, and then went up to Gainesville to work at the University of Florida for a few years (my other alma mater, where I earned a Bachelors in Journalism).  From there I worked at Pasco County for some time, until that all went sour in the wrong ways and I found myself unemployed for four years (!) before Bartow in their infinite mercy hired me on as their reference/computer expert.  Where I hope I am flourishing.

North Regional, though, remains a fond memory, a good start to my career in libraries.  They're hosting a 20th Anniversary celebration in June.  I'd like to attend just to see the place, see any familiar faces, say hellos and farewells and whatnot.

I just wonder if they ever increased the Jamaica history book collection.  I had a hard time finding more books to order to fill the demand...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

At FLA 2014

I'm attending the Florida Library Association convention this week.


I'm here to learn about outreach, marketing our library services, and how to pose with cutouts of Daleks.

...what?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Free Comic Book Day (follow-up photos!)

Every first Saturday of the month of May... it's...

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

Considering this is my birth-month, a good reason to go out and mingle with the cosplayers...

Pictures forthwith, so stay alert on Twitter and Facebook.  And here at the end of the day.

Update: as warned, I have returned with PICTURES!



First stop was the Coliseum of Comics store in downtown Lakeland.  Reasonably packed, with their gaming room in the back set up for their display of free comics and guest artists.
With thanks to the staffer who took this picture of me, holding up my grab of free titles.  I snagged Rocket Raccoon considering the Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out this year...

While here I also realized Gaiman came out with a new Sandman title and thankfully they had one last copy of the first issue on hand. Whew. Now just gotta remember to get him to sign it if I ever run into him...

Next stop: Heroes Haven all the way over in Tampa (Carrollwood area).

I went by their event last year, and it was packed then and this one was packed as well...  I was told at the door they had 100 people in line at the 8 AM opening... and this was in rainy weather...!

Just taking pictures of DC Comics figurines.  If I had the shelf spaces handy, I'd be tempted to buy one...

This year they had the tents set up in the back alley.  Last year they had the parking lot, but I guess this year they couldn't get their neighboring stores to open up the front lot again, so...

And this is a guy I know from BucsNation!  JC De La Torre is a regular commentator on the threads there, but he's also a published author and got his way in with a decent publisher IDW to start a new series Star Mage.  I asked him to sign a #1 copy with a #FireSchiano tag for old times' sake.  Heheheheh...

It turns out they ran out of the free comics titles an hour or so before I got there, but that was okay.  I was there mostly for the ambiance (kinda like going to a comic-con, only less walking involved).  As I headed out I got one more shot in to give you an idea how packed it was at Haven.  That's artist Bart Sears in the background.

So, how's your (rainy) weekend going?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/27/14: It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Shy Simon seems to have found a home.  When I went by this morning to check, he wasn't in the shelter anymore.

All five of the kittehs I surrendered to Lakeland SPCA are off the adoption list now.  I hope that means they've found good homes.

To the hoomans that adopted
Inara
River
Zoe
Jayne
Simon
Please take good care of them.  Mama cat Ocean did all she could to raise them up healthy so they can see the world and live their cat lives.

Mal remains an energetic kitteh, pouncing, wrestling, fishing.  I can't tell if he misses his siblings, but he might.

Meanwhile, look at that adoption list link.  So many young kittens to adopt here in Polk County...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/24/14: Farewell Ye Ladies

Just checked the SPCA Florida Adoption page for Adopt A Cat, and it looks as though all three girls - Inara, River and Zoe - have been adopted.

'Tis a pity that Jayne and Simon haven't gone yet.  I know Simon's very shy and Jayne, being a solid black kitteh, will be one of the last ones adopted out: Sad but true - orange-colored and calico kittehs go first, then tuxedos, then tabbys, then solid blacks/whites.  Black cats in particular have that superstition onus that is totally unfair... but Zoe's been taken and she was solid black kitteh, so this is also a bias towards male kittehs, sigh.

As for Mal, he is currently tearing up the house with his Mach-3 speed and ongoing battle against a fishie dangly toy.  More on that later.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tweet Me: Follow #LibJobShadowFL Today As I Library Up

Follow Me @PaulWartenberg on Twitter today!  I'm tweeting as I work to demonstrate what happens at libraries, what we do to help people, and more.

I'm teaching a class this afternoon on Basic Computing - Internet.  Can I get a Woot! (or is that a Whoop?  I got confused about it)

#LibJobShadowFL #NLW14 #Libraries

UPDATE: I finished my run today on tweeting about working at the Bartow Library. You can check it out on Twitter via this link here.

That said, some documentation is in order...

For some reason over Easter weekend, a pair of free-range RV Campers were abandoned on the driveway into the library and city civic center (the grassy area where the tents are is Mosaic Park). Someone wanted to blockade the library. The RVs were moved eventually, but the mystery surrounding this event remains unsolved...

On Monday afternoons I teach computer class. Basic computing skills for the community of Bartow and surrounding cities. Today was Teh Intertubes! Many thanks to the attendees for being patient while I tweeted a few time during class (got to teach them Twitter in the process).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/17/14: Mal the Wrestler

Mal, now with free range of the home, has turned into this explosive furball of energy:
video
He's trying to chew every power cord in the house...  Bit scared about that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kitteh Update: Zoe video

No videos of Simon or River yet from the Lakeland SPCA, but here's Zoe:


Kitteh Update: Jayne video

Also also: Jayne, just chillin... wanting to high five a hooman.


Kitteh Update: Inara video

Update from the previous post: seems River was NOT adopted, she's back on the list :(  I hope it wasn't a bad thing happening to her...

In the meantime, the SPCA has a video clip of some of the kittehs.  Here's Inara:


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/15/14: It's Fun To Stay At the S...P C A

...what?  the song just popped into mah head.

As you know, this Saturday I dropped off five of the kittehs - Inara, Jayne, River, Simon, and Zoe - at the Lakeland SPCA.  It takes a couple days of observation and treatment before the kittens are put out in the adoption rooms for the hoomans to walk in and go awwwwww.

The website is listing all of the available kittehs, and today all five joined the list...

Except River disappeared off that list in a damn hurry.

Kinda knew River would go early.  She's pretty, and active (she was the climber of the group, and the one most eager to hunt the dreaded danglely stringtoy).

To whomever adopted River from the Polk County area... I wish you luck, and I hope you're a good hooman for River to love.  Let me know how's she doing.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kittehs Gonna Plan a Jailbreak 4/12/14

Today was the day...

Today I took the kittehs in to the Lakeland SPCA shelter for adopting them out...

Jayne getting a goodbye hug...


Zoe telling me how much of an idiot I am...
Shy Simon needing a little propping so the Shelter lady can get a good picture...


Inara looking very miffed / annoyed that I'm holding her up like that...

River was the first one into the cage, last one out... She's the climber of the litter, so I let her climb up my shoulder for the goodbye hug...

These five kittehs have moved on to the shelter, where hopefully they'll get treated for their flea woes and then properly adopted out hopefully to good homes.  Maybe a family might take two or three of them as a group, so the siblings can grow up together...

I'll keep in touch with the shelter to see how they're doing, if they get adopted.  If anybody in Lakeland/Polk County adopt any of the kittehs, please swing by this blog and drop me a line, let me know if the kittehs are settling in...

sniff...

Ocean doesn't seem to register yet that I came back without most of her kittehs.  Maybe by tonight it might sink in that it's just her and Mal now...  I hope she's content with the thought that she birthed a litter and that they were healthy enough to go out into the world...  I hope.




Friday, April 11, 2014

KITTEH VIDEO Attempt #458

Shall I doom you all with one final video clip of kittehs in my sunroom:

video
Did I say one?  I'll give you a second one...
video
Doing my best to get the kittehs talking before I pack them up tomorrow morning...  sniff... no... my babies... well, Ocean's babies, I just hung around taking pictures of them and dumping off dry food in the bowls...

Lemme know if the video clips work.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/10/14: Video Kittehs

Can I upload the video clips off my smartphone?
video
Attempting... attempting.........

It might work... If I can upload Mal and Ocean, maybe I can get the other kittehs...

Nope.  It's 223 MB of data, I'm getting error messages.  Might be too big a file.


Will attempt something else...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kitteh Update 4/8/14: Last Week With the Litter...

I have an appointment to take in five of the kittehs this Saturday.

Part of me knows I can't handle seven cats all my own.  Just had to waste 15 minutes this morning wrangling two cats - Ocean and Mal both refusing to stay in the sunroom - and three of the other kittens - River, Zoe, Jayne - now eager to cross the threshold into the house proper (Shy Simon and skittish Inara remain wary).

But part of me doesn't want them to go.  I'm worried the kittens might not find good homes.  I'm worried how Ocean might react to realizing her litter has been taken from her (I'm keeping Mal, that might help alleviate the loss).  I'm worried I'm gonna miss out on them growing up (the animal shelter's deal is: I cut off all contact with the kittehs.  no stalking them and their owners through the 'verse).

:(

I've made some video clips, but I just found out my old digital vidcam with FireWire doesn't have a computer around with a FireWire port to plug into.  I need to find a FireWire/USB adapter and fast.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kitteh Update 3/30/14: Shy Simon

Remember earlier I tried getting face pictures of the kittehs before I had to adopt them out.  Of the six, one went running when he saw the smartphone.  Poor Simon (the male tuxedo), finally got cornered with my smartphone tonight.

Look at him, he so shy...

He just needs to know hoomans more often, thas all.

Meanwhile, Ocean spent about an hour just curled up at my feet as I worked on my laptop tonight, she was just relaxing from the time away from six active and jumpy kittehs.

I've scheduled to take the kittehs for adopting out to the SPCA in two weeks.  I feel pretty bad about doing it, but... I can't keep all of them...