Friday, July 30, 2010

That's #22 in the Country, Yo

Pensacola High School is still making me proud. It is up in the high school rankings this year to #22. That isn't bad at all for a school where 63% of the students are eligible for subsidized lunches. You can say that the ratings methodology of Newsweek is poor, but I like that they rate schools by percentage of students taking I.B. and A.P. courses. I think high school would have been a waste of time without the International Baccalaureate program, but I might be somewhat biased by my own experiences. I might have missed out on those rites of passage like attending a high school prom, but I had 43 credit hours already under my belt when I started college. It meant that I didn't have to take boring prerequisite courses and instead could begin by taking the much more interesting upper level courses. Mostly though, the I.B. program ensured that a healthy sense of intellectual curiosity became my lifelong friend.

All of that academic excellence and still the state champions in football last year. Who says you can't have it all?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Suburban Paranoia Redux: This is How Rumors Get Started

A couple of days ago I wrote about how a kind neighbor stopped by our house and warned me about the few uncharacteristic home invasions that our neighborhood had been experiencing. I opened up the paper yesterday and found this article discussing an email that has been circulated to neighborhood listservs that seems to have spun what has happened in my neighborhood (cited in the article and email) into something worthy of suburban paranoia. You have to read the full article for all of the details, but I have a couple of thoughts on this as follows:

1. Yes, the email confirms that living in the suburbs does make people more paranoid.

2. Yet, at the same time, the information that the Durham Police Department uses as evidence to counter the "misinformation" in the email isn't too comforting either. They cite that between July 5-10 there were four instances of home invasion in the Mary Dell neighborhood. Granted, that isn't the "two to three instances per day" that is stated in the email, but don't four attempted invasions over a five day period in one isolated neighborhood still seem like alot? Furthermore, the Durham Police Department is only using statistics for a five day period. That doesn't seem to compelling in light of the fact that it is now almost the month of August and they haven't offered up any evidence about crime statistics post July 10. I know for a fact that there have been home invasions since then, as recently as this past weekend in fact. How do I know this? Why, my neighborhood listserv, of course (to which I have been added thanks to the kind neighbor).

3. I also love that according to the email, my neighborhood may have been picked as a target because its residents "are not likely to call the police if African-Americans that do not live there look and act suspicious." In other words, according to the email my neighborhood is too "politically correct."

4. Last night when I was trying to fall asleep, I couldn't stop thinking about this news story. If the police were trying to make suburban homeowners less paranoid, to put it bluntly, this is one big police FAIL. I was less paranoid before I read this stupid story.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Memorium

I am very, very sad today. Our sweet family dog, Ralphe, was put to sleep. He had been suffering for a while, and we knew that they end was coming for him. Still, it is a pretty big loss for our family, particularly my Mom. That dog loved her most. He followed her around and didn't like being separated from her for any length of time. After all, if she were nearby, there was always a better chance that he would get taken on a Jeep ride.
Ralphe came into our family in the summer of 1999. I was in Washington D.C. for an internship when Mom called to tell me that Dad brought home a golden retriever puppy. She was seeking help with determining a name for her puppy. I told her we should name him Ralph, but only if it was pronounced in the British way. Mom liked the idea and named him Ralphe, adding the "e" to designate the difference in the pronunciations. When I returned home to Pensacola later that summer and met Ralphe for the first time, I knew it was love at first sight. That dog was special.
We had a few beloved family dogs before Ralphe. All had excellent temperaments and were delightful companions. However, Ralphe was the dog that taught me that a happy, well-adjusted dog had all of the essentials already figured out. He knew how to ensure that he maximized his treats and his time spent in air-conditioned places. But above all, he knew how to give love. That dog was my comfort in some of the hardest times in my life. When faced with heartbreak, failure, or something just not working out as I had planned, I knew that I could come home and that Ralphe would sit beside me as I cried and worked things out. All he asked for in return was for me to stroke his head softly. And I did. It was the best therapy anyone could have possibly asked for. In happier times, we would play games and learn tricks in the backyard. I taught him how to catch my rebounds when I would shoot hoops in the backyard. He taught me the simple joy of a good squeeky toy. In the backyard swimming pool, he loved to "water-ski" - in other words, be pulled around the shallow end by his front paws. Ralphe was a true Street in that dog loved to be wet. In the summertime, anytime that he was outside, he would be in the pool. Mom introduced him to the water when he was still a puppy and he loved it throughout his years. Even after my parents moved back to Mississippi, he would still come to the back door wet and muddy from swimming in the pond.
When I decided that I was ready to try a dog of my own, I knew that I wanted Ralphe to be around. We were lucky enough to get Knightley in Mississippi and for the first two weeks Knightley was with us, he was with Ralphe. Knightley was scared and uncertain in a new place, but being around Ralphe sure seemed to calm him down. Ralphe showed him the ropes of what it means to be a good family dog. Ralphe didn't mind when Knightley was a rambunctious little puppy that just wanted to play; he was patient and tolerant. Furthermore, he showed Knightley that the way to get the good stuff (the treats, the pats on the head, and the belly rubs) is to be a good friend. He also showed Knightley how to rip apart a stuffed animal when no one was looking. I think Knightley appreciates learning the sneakiness from Ralphe too. Every time we went back to Mississippi after that initiation from Ralphe, Knightley wagged his tail in excitement to see his best buddy.
Because of that role that Ralphe played in Knightley's development, whenever I look at Knightley, I will also see Ralphe. And I will always miss him, too.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Antidote to Paranoia

I had a glorious weekend with my family which was a delightful way to spend my first weekend in the new house.

A cute baby is the perfect antidote to all fears:

Knightley also enjoyed meeting Harry for the first time. He couldn't get enough of him, and always wanted to check on him to make sure he was okay. Here he is supervising Harry's bath.

Of course, there were many pictures taken of doting family members. We love that little guy.

I think Sarah summarizes the Carolina love for Harry in this picture by her facial expression. She and Harry are twins in their Carolina gear.

Even in an empty house devoid of furniture, having family in town makes a house feel quite full and complete.
Knightley and I were both lonely when they left.

Suburban Paranoia

Ever since I have graduated from law school, I have lived in cities. I lived in New York by myself and went to and from work in the South Bronx. In DC, we lived in the city, a hop, skip, and a jump away from where the police implemented neighborhood checkpoints because of gang warfare the summer before we moved there. I never considered myself as the type to easily scare in cities.

However, for some reason, the quiet of the country is an entirely different matter. Last night, one of our friendly new neighbors (something that I have been impressed with since we arrived), stopped by with some delicious zucchini pineapple bread, and told us what a wonderful neighborhood that we chose. She also told us that unfortunately, there have been a few uncharacteristic break-ins in the neighborhood recently. The most recent just happened this past weekend a few houses away from us. She told me not to worry, as the break-ins have occurred only when no one was at home. I told her that I wasn't worried, but then last night, I had a very hard time falling asleep as I became aware of every little sound. It turns out, the country is much quieter than the city and therefore living in it, every bump in the night sounds out of place. Fortunately, even though David is still in DC, I have Knightley to warn me if anything sounds amiss. However, today at work I have been thinking about what happens to Knightley if someone tried to break-in when I wasn't home. This is how obsessive compulsive behaviors get started.

Also there are the bugs. I forgot about bugs in the South. I have seen a few spiders, and so I have paranoia about brown recluse spiders biting my forehead and leaving me permanently scarred like that lady we knew in Mississippi in the early 1980s. Or, I think about my high school French teacher's brother who had a cockroach climb into his ear when he was sleeping at night so that he had to go to the emergency room to have it removed.

Then there is the other kind of paranoia that sounds like it will best be expressed in the new The Arcade Fire album, The Suburbs. Fear of those things are probably the worst of all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Efforts at Cyberbullying

I try to avoid writing blog posts on anything that could potentially be work related. I do this for a number of reasons, few of which I will articulate here. However, the main reason is because I am generally content in my chosen profession. I like being a law librarian. I like what I do. However, the subjects that could be deemed work-related about which I would potentially blog would make it seem like I don't like my profession. Namely, it would be to point out the annoying undercurrents that sometimes can run through this profession. Generally, these annoying undercurrents come with names attached, because frankly, there are a few people in this profession that drive me crazy for a whole host of reasons. The chief general reason that these people drive me crazy is that they are not really good legal researchers, so they mask their lack of marketable skills with a fixation on social media, Web 2.0 technology, etc.

This weekend, my family and I were playing a board game called, "Loaded Questions." One of these questions that we had to answer was to name something that we had never done on the Internet. My response was "cyberbulling."

However, depending on your definition of cyberbulling, that is about to change (as well as me breaking my rule about not writing work-related blog posts). Because seriously, J.P. (as I coin thee), Director of the Harvard Law Library? Come on. You are supposed to be a director of probably the most important law library in the country. Yet, not only is this not mentioned in your New York Times interview, but you spend a whole interview talking about the online social lives of high school students coming from the vantage point of a Harvard Law School Professor (which I realize is what made your famous because of your similarly useless book, Born Digital). I know that you have been touted in academic circles as someone who really understands kids these days, and all of that, but I still don't get what this possibly has to do with running a law library.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for law library directors being legal scholars. I believe in that. I am just not so sure that your publishing makes you a legal scholar. Does research about youth and the Internet make one a legal scholar (even with your insert about the law Congress is considering about cyberbullying)? I realize, your scholarship is entitled to be separate from what you do in your work affiliated with the law library, but I can't help but think that you are using an awful lot of your conclusions about youth and the Internet in determinations about what the future of the law library should look like. Furthermore, I can't help help but wonder if your own research interests that have little to do with law serve as a conflict of interest when you are determining what materials will make up your "library of the future." Maybe you have so little interest in traditional legal resources because your own research makes little use of them?

I shouldn't therefore, at all be surprised that when you do deem it worth your while to actually publish on the subject of law libraries (when you aren't testifying about cyberbulling before Congress, that is), you don't bother to actually support your arguments with actual research and evidence. For example, your "Cornerstones of Law Librarianship for the Digital Plus Era" is about the most poorly researched piece of garbage I have ever read from any sitting law library director. I am not sure why you think you can make broad, general claims like, "Law firms of all sizes face competitive threats from information technology services, accounting firms, and other nonlawyers." You offer that statement up, like it is some sort of self-evident truth that therefore doesn't need to be footnoted. Can I call BS on that? First of all, the whole point of a professional monopoly is that you don't face professional threats from other kinds of industries, that aren't licensed to do what the professionally controlled monopoly is able to do. If that were the only statement in your paper that wasn't properly footnoted and supported, then I would let it pass. However, that is only one of many examples I could cite throughout your article. Also, do you really have to use the word "flux" so much?

I get it, libraries aren't your passion. Those crazy, technology addicted kids are. If that is what you love so much, then write all about them. Then, maybe your answer to a question about what makes an internet rumor stick ("The more salacious, the better. The more believable, and yet there is a little something edgy.") will bother me a little bit less. But let's be honest. This isn't integral to the determinations being made about the future of law libraries. This doesn't have much to do with ensuring that legal researchers of the future have access to well-ordered collections on jurisprudential thought. Sure, I might still be annoyed that you are trying to play the role of a trained behavioral scientist with the education of a law professor, but so many law professors think they know more than experts who are trained more thoroughly in other fields these days, that I just shrug my shoulders.

This isn't a professional blog. This is a blog for when my parents want to look at pictures of my dog or my vacation to Spain. It is a blog that my friends can read when they find themselves in need of a good old fashioned-Leslie rant. There is nothing scholarly here, worthy of study or truthfully even of anyone else's time. It is a waste of internet space, and therefore, is not worthy of anyone's academic study. Heck, this blog post isn't even a well-reasoned, well-researched, articulate critique. In that way, I am part of the problem with the Internet. I am writing a post solely based on a knee jerk reaction, rather than thinking through the issue and writing something thoughtful and insightful. I am sure that alot of people feel similarly regarding the crap that they put on the Internet. I hope they do, at least. I hope they don't expect to be taken seriously. I know teenagers expect to be taken seriously at all times, so perhaps they are the exception to that. But are really living in the age where the work of law libraries has to concern themselves so seriously with angst ridden, clique driven kids?

Summer Reading 2010

When I was in Denver for the AALL Annual Meeting, I visited the Tattered Cover bookstore in downtown Denver. Although the selection was not what I had hoped to see in a major independent bookstore, I nonetheless managed to purchase five books. I have already read one, am in the middle of two, and am eager to start the last two as soon as I finish the other two.

The one that I already read and could not put down was The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget, the retelling of the pursuit by a son for justice for the murder of his father during Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda, written by Andrew Rice. I could not put it down. Not only was it a captivating story that weaved together the history of colonial and post-colonial Uganda, but it also is an excellent musing on the question of justice for victims of homicidal regimes. Even before law school, I was obsessed with the success of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa at the conclusion of the apartheid era. It seems as though since that time, no other country has been able to replicate its success. Perhaps it takes combination of especially charismatic, inspirational leaders, like the combination of a Mandela and Tutu that makes it nearly impossible to duplicate. I don’t know, but I know that Uganda has not succeeded in adequately balancing justice and forgiveness for its history of human rights violations. The story is also an interesting tale of when “the rule of law”, that which we prize so boldly in our own nation, isn’t enough to respond to deeply inflicted wounds of prior eras. As Duncan Laki, the son who lost his father says, “It’s sad for me to look at these three murders and they just walk away like that, but that’s the rule of law. We have to accept the rule of law. It hurts but…what can we do?”

Right now I am on page 164 of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. That statement provides an ubiquitous bumper sticker in places like Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which leads me to question whether or not the women who sport those stickers would still do so if they knew that Thatcher Ulrich was a Mormon. I met her once through my friend Katie on a trip I took to Boston. I love the way she weaves together the stories of ordinary and not so ordinary women to create a historical tale through the stories of individual women. It also has reminded me that I still need to pick up a copy of Camille Fronk’s book on the women of the Old Testament, because of the way Thatcher Ulrich brings to new life the Old Testament stories of Judith and Susanna and how she sums them up, “For ordinary women, the lessons these stories taught were powerful, but contradictory. A woman should be both chaste and alluring, both innocent and bold.”

I am also currently reading, The Parisians, by Graham Robb. Although it is subtitled “An Adventure History of Paris”, it is also like Thatcher Ulrich’s work in that it really illuminates history through biographical vignettes of the ordinary and not so ordinary people of Paris. OF course, it also serves to make me want to go back and see Paris in an entirely new and different way.

I haven’t yet begun the last two books – The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by French author Muriel Barbery (I am reading it in translation, because I don’t think my French skills are presently good enough to read a book like this in the original French), and Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder. I have moved through the other two books at such a rate though, that I am sure that I will begin both of these books before the month of July is through.

Good books are always the best cure for whatever ails me.

Stereotypes Confirmed

Don't you love it when people act in a particular way to supply increasing evidence that the stereotypes that you hold are entirely justified?

Duke students seem to relish the opportunity to prove what jerks they are. I submit the following evidence into the record - Mike Posner (a Duke student) is apparently a budding rap/R&B artist. He has chosen to sing about his drug dealer girlfriend and film video for said "song" on the Duke University campus. This video confirms a couple of things about Duke students - first, they are all upper class crackheads (it is good to start those addictions early in preparation for their future lives on Wall Street). This also exposes that trait of dehuminizing and objectifying women of color that those Duke lacrosse players so proudly displayed a few years back.

Way to go Blue Devils! Keep it classy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Home

Yesterday was our closing day, so the house pictured above is now officially ours (subject to us continuing to pay our mortgage, of course). Many more pictures of the house will be forthcoming, I am sure. Right now it seems impossibly large and empty. Knightley isn't sure what to do because of all the empty space, he just keeps running from room to room. There are three staircases inside of the house and he keeps running up and down them, particularly when he loses where David and I are and can't find us.

Before I started rambling on and on about the house, though, I wanted to write a public thank you to a person that I do not very often discuss in detail on this blog. I just wanted to stop for a minute and say thank you to David. I do this because I realize that it is very rare to find any husband, much less a husband within the cultural context of our particular LDS faith, who is absolutely willing to let his wife's career determine where the family lives. I know that it is my dream, not David's that brings us to North Carolina. Fortunately, his current employer is flexible enough to allow David to use North Carolina as a home base for him (particularly since the employer knows it doesn't really matter where David lives, since he has to travel for work so much, anyway). However, I also know that if it were up to David, and he wasn't married to me, he would happily be living somewhere located several time zones to the West. He would rather live somewhere that has better television coverage of the PAC-10 (soon to be PAC-12, I guess), whereas my dream for nonstop ACC basketball coverage is coming true. He will always be a child of the West and I will always be a child of the South, who functions bizarrely when unable to feel a sense of familiarity.

There are many things that David likes about North Carolina, but I know that above all, he agreed to this move because he knows how happy it makes me. He has to put up with a sometimes very difficult and intense person, and yet he is still willing to do this. He knows me well enough to know how important the right sense of place is to me. I will always be Southern in my sensibilities, and without feeling that firmly rooted sense of home, he knows that I feel lost. I know that this place, this house, this particular dog, has all been a part of my dream, but I am so grateful that he has been willing to make it our dream.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Farewell, farewell, quoth she

If I could add one thing on to my birthday list from my last post it would be to also include the Spicy Chicken Sandwich that I had from the Chick-fil-A in Henderson, NC on my drive to DC for the weekend. Considering the run of the mill birthday that I had, that Spicy Chicken Sandwich was a revelation.

On Saturday, I was able to have a late birthday dinner at Monmartre on Capitol Hill in DC.

Not only was it a birthday dinner, but it also served as a sort of farewell to DC party for me. Our friends Matt and Erin came along.

Also there, but not pictured were our friends Brigham and Josh, both of whose wives were unfortunately out of town at more exciting destinations than a birthday/farewell party for me.
In all seriousness though, the hardest thing about leaving DC is leaving behind the great friends that I had there. Thankfully, it isn't too far away for weekend visits.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Birthday Greats

So it is official, I am old now, and thus taking the low key approach to another birthday. However, these are a few of the things that I enjoyed on this day that made it a little more tolerable:

1. Breakfast biscuit at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen on Franklin Street.

2. Better news from the Gulf of Mexico about BP potentially plugging the oil leak.

3. This video promotion of the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU that reminded me of my old days as a Periodicals Reference Assistant there, while also hilariously spoofing the Old Spice Commercials:

4. I am going to DC this weekend where I will actually see David for longer than two hours for more than 1 day.

Not a bad birthday by my estimation.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Instant Stress Relief

With all of the travel, moving, and learning a new job that this month has entailed, I have needed some moments of trivial relief. Watching this Saturday Night Live Weekend Update segment provides that for me. Predator monster. He. He.

Since we are a week away from closing on the house, we are also thinking about home improvement. So, there is also this helpful commercial to offer up some ideas:

Or maybe some of these columns? Now that is classy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

National Football Night for Librarians

I just returned from attending two law librarian-related conferences in Colorado. The first was in Boulder at the University of Colorado Law School which looks like this:

The second was the American Association of Law Librarians Annual Meeting held in Denver. Although I was mentally exhausted already from the first conference in Boulder, the second conference did give me the opportunity to spend some time with my former Washington classmates and Georgetown colleagues. The Georgetown party was just one opportunity for socializing:

Of course, the pictures that I took at AALL are strictly of the social events. After all, who wants to look at pictures of boring panels, round tables, and committee meetings? I know I don't. Posting pictures of that would be a considerable letdown after all of the discussion that this blog has hosted regarding attractive soccer stars.
There was, however, a lovely cake at the Lexis sponsored Opening Night Dessert party that was something attractive to look at. And the buttercream frosting was delicious. So, there is that.

After a year when Thomson Reuters managed to annoy every law librarian on the planet at one time or another, they treated us to the best "Westlaw" party (AKA "Thomson Reuters Customer Appreciation Party") yet - at Invesco Field.
I am no Denver Broncos fan (although, I might soon become one for reasons discussed later in the entry), but having field level and luxury suite level access to the stadium was pretty incredible. I also realize this choice of venue was a touch ironic considering law librarians, on average, are probably some of the most awkward and nonathletic people on the planet (I count myself in that number, as I did manage to fall down the stairs and pull something in my ankle enough to have it swell up by the third day of the conference). Few librarians know anything about sports (I don't count myself in that number). However, that just made the evening at the stadium all the more entertaining.
For one, I was able to pay tribute to some of the lesser known heroes of Invesco Field - the Dance Team for the Outlaws, Denver's professional lacrosse team.
Amanda and I were able to laugh tremendously while consuming the variety of stadium food offered at the venue.
I was able to emulate the throwing style on the field of Tim Tebow, who soon will be gracing that same field with his presence.
Wait, did I say "will soon" grace the field? It looks like Tebow is already there in his #15, although, he was much smaller in person than I thought that he would be.

Not pictured: The epically wonderful picture that Amanda and I had taken by the Thomson Reuters photographers with the stadium as the backdrop. I did the Heisman, Amanda was a cheerleader. This will grace the blog once I have my scanner in operation again.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Eurotrash Babies: Follow-Up to the Last World Cup Follow-Up

So, as it turns out, Cristiano Ronaldo is even more of a Eurotrash slut than I possibly could have imagined. On Friday, he posted a message to his Twitter account that he recently became a father to a baby boy. His Russian supermodel girlfriend doesn't seem to mind. Ah yes, the worthwhile nature of Twitter that allows a European superstar to in 140 characters or less, cop to a love child and also plea for privacy. What an age in which we live! How I long for the day when it took the journalistice efforts of the National Enquirer or one of their European counterparts to reveal illegitimate love children. Ronaldo says that he is going to assume sole guardianship of the child. I can see little Baby Ronaldo now, with his fauxhawk Eurotrash haircut, on the beach at Ibiza wearing a baby Speedo and trying to pick up on all of the topless baby girls. Maybe Ibiza has a baby discotheque for a little baby Ronaldo nightlife.

Kaka has a Twitter account also. However, he uses it to post inspirational messages and encourage followers to lend their efforts to combatting child prostitution in Brazil (sometimes in English, sometimes in Portuguese).

These two great soccer players play for the same professional team - Real Madrid. While we were in Madrid, Jose Mourhino, former coach of David's favorite team, Inter Milan, and sexiest coach alive, was announced to be the new coach of Real Madrid. They held a press conference at the Real Madrid stadium and later that night, photographers clustered around the Palace Hotel, where we were staying, as fancy vehicles dropped off important lookin people at the front entrance of the hotel. I like to think that it had soething to do with Mourhino, but my Spanish wasn't good enough to have actually confirmed that. In any case, sometimes I like to think about how Mourhino will handle these two very different, but talented stars on the same team.

About the World Cup final - I think the Dutch have this one. Nonetheless, I am cheering for Spain, because it is a lovely country, and those people are dealing with an economy and government budget that are in the crapper so they deserve to have something to celebrate.

One final postscript to this post is this Washington Post article from today about the sad farewell that comes at the end of the World Cup. Exactly.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

World Cup Follow-Up

Yes, I realize that Kaka's Brazil is now out of the World Cup, but I had to follow up my last post about how much I love Kaka with a link to these pictures in Vanity Fair, that once again prove my point that Kaka is not a Eurotrash slut. He actually posed for this picture in his jeans, while the other soccer stars are in their skivvies.

By the way, I picked the Netherlands to win it all before the World Cup started, and I am still standing by that pick. Although now, part of me wants Spain to win.

Far From the Hills

My Internet coverage is spotty until we are all moved into our house (hopefully, there will be no hiccups with that) at the end of the month. So the blog posting will be very brief until then.

I just wanted to say that I spent a lovely Fourth of July weekend with Knightley, Sarah, and Grammy. We drove down to Lake Norman so that Knightley could enjoy some time at the lake and I could spend some time with Grammy. We listened to takes on the civil war through contemporary song - Titus Andronicus's album The Monitor, and the much more melodious and lovely song "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" by The Decemberists.