Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year and the best to you in 2009!

I just watched Big Ben strike midnight and ring in the New Year in London and wished with all my heart I was there. Via CNN live video it was pretty cool to watch (and listen too, that unmistakable gong)and the fireworks that exploded over the Thames were beautiful.
I'm looking forward to an exciting 2009 filled with change, love and travel...Oxford here I come! Guess I better go get ready to celebrate the New Year in Chicago, always a good reason to dress up fancy.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Do you Skype?

A couple of years ago friends in the UK told me about the website Skype. I remember thinking "a website that allows you to make calls from your computer, how cool" and then promptly forgot about it. I've regularly used Yahoo instant messenger as my IM and video chat of choice but recently downloaded the free Skype software in order to video call my sister and new niece in Denver. All I can say is it's magic. I'm now a regular Skyper to my sister and other family members and am ready to toss my land line phone in the trash.
If you haven't used or seen Skype in action on Oprah or other tv shows then check out the website to see what a wonderful tool Skype is. You'll need a video camera (inexpensive at most retailers like Best Buy or Amazon and easily installed by plugging into a USB port) and a microphone (most are built into your computer or to the video camera) and you will need to set up a free Skype account and download the free software. That's it! The picture is so clear it's almost unbelievable and the sound quality is excellent.
During my recent Christmas trip to Florida my family Skyped my sister in Denver and enjoyed an evening of holiday tales and laughs with my sister and 2 month old niece, it was the next best thing to having them there with us.
If you want to add me as a Skype contact I'm under Shannon.Distel.Scanlan, Skype you soon!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

Wishing everyone the very best holiday season. I hope for each of you easy travel, happy families, good food and lots of love for all.
I'll blog again next Monday when I return from Florida!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flash Back Friday #21

I'm a little nostalgic for my childhood.
Here is Coca Cola's classic 1970's Christmas commercial I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Must Read Book-Pete Maravich: The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete

I'm not much of a sports fan but I am a BIG fan of exceptional people and after reading Pete Maravich The Authorized Biography of Pistol Pete by Wayne Federman and Marshall Terrill I have a new respect for an extraordinary athlete and family man, the basketball legend "Pistol Pete". Authors Federman and Terrill write an authorized biography of a man with an awe inspiring talent who deeply loved his family and his faith. The book is meticulously researched and written with details that aren't just facts from interviews but from the rare privilege of collaboration with Pete's widow. The beautiful family photographs, the inclusion of personal letters and the quirky personality traits (Pete's wearing of large stretched out gray socks for 9 seasons because he thought they made his feet appear smaller and made him feel faster) are all included in Pete's story and create a book that is hard to put down. Not only are his athletic accomplishments mind boggling (he is considered by many to be the greatest college basketball player of all time and is a 5 time NBA All Star) but his dedication to his health (he was vegan, grew his own vegetables and ate soy and juiced before it was mainstream) and his family (wife Jackie and 2 sons) and his faith (in the depths of despair he found Christ and changed his life) are inspiring.
Pete died suddenly at age 40 in 1988.
Read the book and learn what true greatness is all about.

I also recommend another book by Marshall Terrill, see my review of Steve McQueen The Last Mile here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flash Back Friday #20-My Kinda Christmas Entertainment

Little bit creepy, totally strange and a Christmas classic.
This is my favorite holiday movie, from A Year Without A Santa Claus.
Enjoy the Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Classic Christmas Story

Did you know that the classic story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was written by a department store employee in Chicago? Ya no kidding, how cool is that!
Check out Snopes for the story here:
This Christmas re-read the original story and enjoy it all over again!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Author Websites

One of my favorite things to do after immersing myself in a good book is to search the internet for the author's website. A few of my favorite authors have great websites that I have been known to spend many an hour losing time in. I enjoy uncovering new facts about favorite characters, reading the author's inspiration for the story or viewing pictures of real life locations that inspired the fantasy.
Here are a few of my favorite author's websites:
Anne Gracie's website is a gem. The site here is full of great pages for each of her books with collages of pictures and items that inspired her characters and their stories, photographs of the locations where she sets her books and historical information on causes and issues of the historical period.

Elizabeth Boyle is a writer of historical romance and her fun website includes FAQs, her blog, family trees of the fictional families and tidbits on what inspired her to write her stories.

Tom Bullough author of The Claude Glass has a great website here Tom's site is so personal with information on his life, his writings and his passions. I especially enjoy his blog although I wish he would update it more often.

Julia Quinn's website here is full of information on her books, the characters, what she's working on next and includes deleted book scenes and her blog.

One of my favorite authors Anne Rice also has an interesting website which is beautifully designed and loaded with information. Years ago I used to love discovering new things on Rice's site such as pictures of her doll collection or the homes she owned in New Orleans...But since Rice found her religion, I've avoided her website and it's over emphasis on her return to Catholicism. Little creepy... and not in a good way.

Well what ever you are reading, take a look at the author's online home and you'll be delightfully surprised at what you may find.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Must Read Book: Remembering Sam

In this excellent book a son recounts the love story of his mother's first marriage to a soldier killed in World War II.
The author David Everitt does a beautiful job narrating the story of the man who loved his mother before his own father. Beautifully written, extremely moving and unforgettable.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy for Thanks and Giving

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
I heard on television someone refer to the holiday as a time for Thanks and Giving and I couldn't agree more.
I'm thankful for so much and blessed to be in a position to give my time and money to causes I believe in. Here's to remembering what each of us is thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Got Library Journal?

Check out the online home of Library Journal here:
I check LJ frequently for the latest news, updates, book reviews and to peruse their blogs.
It's worth a gander, check it out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Flash Back #19

So I'm not happy that the movie studio pushed back the latest Harry Potter film from opening today to opening next July. In it's place the film Twilight opened last night at midnight. I've already posted about how much I just don't get the hype, I thought the book was crap and gave up reading it a few chapters from the end because I just didn't care about the characters. The movie is not getting great reviews but that doesn't stop the teenage girls and their mothers from queuing up to see the film.
So because I am not planning my Harry Potter party I thought I would console myself with a trailer for the next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
See you at the theaters next July.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Magazine

I love a good mag that also has a good website. Check out one of my new favorites Plenty Magazine at:
Here is a link to a great article on having a "Green" Thanksgiving from Plenty. Let's make our kids thankful we thought of their health and the planet they will inherit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A new book by the author of Harry Potter

For those who follow the world of publishing or maybe just Harry Potter you may have heard of the latest book by author J.K Rowling. Rowling wrote and illustrated 7 limited edition copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. One copy was purchased by Amazon for just under 4 million dollars. The other 6 copies were made and personalized for people who were involved with Harry Potter, all are bound in leather with embellishments such as semi precious stones and silver.
This holiday season the book will be mass published and many book sellers are hoping the latest book by Rowling helps lagging book sales.
I may pick up a copy out of sheer curiosity especially since the book was mentioned in the final Harry Potter book. Geez, I would love to be one of the chosen 7 who were gifted with such an extraordinary handmade book but at least I can buy a paperback version.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm off to the Mile High City

I am on my way to Denver today to visit my sister and brother in law and meet my new niece. My sister is also a librarian so we will have lots of books to discuss.
I'll post about my trip when I return.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Green Must Read-The Green Beauty Guide

A new book came across my desk this weekend that should be a must read for everyone concerned with their health and the environment.
The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel is an excellent source for information on organic and natural "beauty" products.
Gabriel debunks the myths and gets scientific but in friendly reader terms. She mixes in homemade recipes for everything from mosquito repellent, to baby wipes to face scrubs. A nice touch is the inclusion of a Green Product Guide and Green Tips.
I've passed the book around in my office and a few of us are going to try the Green Liver Flush. This well written book is definitely a must read.
For more information check out the website at:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Great Book: We Bought a Zoo

I just finished a great book, We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family , a Broken Down Zoo and the 200 Wild Animals that Change Their Lives Forever by Benjamin Mee.
Benjamin, his wife Katherine, their 2 young children and members of Ben's family buy a zoo in the countryside of England and turn it into a family business. Their story has it all, triumph over adversity, love, charming animals, tragedy and hope. It's a must read.
Hopefully during my studies in England next year I will be able to visit their zoo, the Dartmoor Zoological Park and see some of their wonderful animals and meet these inspiring people.
For more information on the zoo, check out their website:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Flash Back #18

During this historic election week I thought I would post a flashback from another election, the 1st Presidential Debate between Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr. and Ross Perot in 1992.
Geez, I was only 21 and working on Clinton's campaign in Ohio at Ohio University. Feels like a lifetime ago.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The World is a Better Place

Thank you for voting. I'm thankful I was in Chicago at the Obama Rally in Grant Park when it was announced Barack Obama was President Elect. I cried with relief and pride.
I feel hopeful.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Haunted Libraries

I found this excellent website with lists of Haunted Libraries by US region. Posted by George Eberhart each post is comprehensive and fun to read. Makes me wish we had our own library ghost or 2!
Check it out here:
The link will take you to the list of Haunted Libraries in the Midwest, there are additional links to more library ghosts at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are you a Gamer?

My kid is and he's really good. Halo is his game of choice although a few days ago Fable II came out and he is completely obsessed with it. I have to say, I'm not a gamer, I have vertigo and when even a few seconds of my visual sight is distorted I get ill. But I sat through 15 minutes of Fable II and it is absolutely amazing. My son was exploring the World of Albion and was wandering through every pub, shack, store and castle in a pirate town with his faithful dog at his side. Watching the amazing graphics and listening to the interactive characters was unbelievable and didn't produce more than a headache for me. WHOHOO. Makes me wish I could play without vomiting, but whatever.
Gaming is becoming very popular at libraries, watch this quick clip of a Chicago area library that hosts gaming tournaments.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When Authors Go Awry

Ever wonder what to read when a favorite author takes an about turn and starts writing completely different or writing in a new genre altogether?
This has happened to 2 of my favorite authors.
First the Queen of all things dark and disturbing, the Gothic Anne Rice finds her lapsed Catholic religion and leaves witches and vampires behind to find Jesus Christ.
Then Nora Roberts, she of the light hearted romance and Celtic fantasies takes the plunge into vampires and demons.
In regards to Rice, I am definitely mourning the end of an era. In the 90's when Anne was churning out Gothic fantasies I was eagerly anticipating each new book. I made numerous trips to New Orleans looking for her dark world and loved the spooky quality of her writing and the strange lifestyle she lived (a haunted mansion in the Garden District and arriving at book events in a coffin, BRILLIANT!).
Nora Roberts Irish Trilogy is one of my all time favorite series. During a trip to Ireland in 2006 I dragged my husband to a small coastal village she based the books in and happily visited sites she wrote about. Sadly I've tried to read her later works and find them ridiculous and happily return to re-reading my favorites.

So what do you do when an author goes awry? Find a new author?
The crazy popular Twilight vampire series by Stephenie Meyer is a possibility, I've started that but just can't figure out WHY this series is such a phenomenon. See my post on Buying the Hype below.
I've replaced Roberts with other artists who do the contemporary and historical romance or series writing as good or better than Roberts.
But I still mourn these 2 authors and find consolation in their earlier works. I'll keep my loved dogeared copies and keep reading my favorites over and over.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

1 More Week-This will keep you laughing

Wonder what the Oval Office would be like with Palin as President?
Check out this website
Hysterical way to waste way too much time, but wait until you see what is behind closed doors, oh and the dinosaur of course...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Read Your Insurance Coverage Papers Lately?

I recommend doing so. My husband's best friend is also our insurance agent and thankfully we have excellent coverage. After I was involved in a car accident on Friday I went back through my car insurance documents and read through my coverage. I'm confident in my insurance (State Farm)and also extremely happy to have rental car coverage since my car is undrivable.
This wake up call also made me read through all of my insurance coverage including car, home, health and my life insurance as well as my Will.
Gave me some piece of mind that in the unexpected not only am I protected but so are my loved ones.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buying the Hype?

So I'm reading Twilight, the insanely popular teen vampire novel by Stephenie Meyer. I'm trying to finish the book before the movie comes out on November 21, but so far I'm just not getting the hype.
I'm a big fan of vampire novels but during my "gothic romance phase" the novels of Anne Rice were all the rage. Frankly, once you've read Rice I'm not seeing the hype of Meyer's writing. I'm going to keep reading as a few people have told me that I'll get used to her juvenile writing style and really start to get into the characters. So I have faith. I'm missing the lyric beauty of Rice's writing and the immersion in the horror fantasy she created in her Interview with the Vampire books as well as the Mayfair Witches. I'm going to keep turning the pages of Twilight and try to stop comparing the writing and just get into the story.
Wish me luck...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recycle Those Caps

Ever wonder what happens to plastic caps? Caps from water and soda bottles, shampoo, milk etc end up in landfills and wash up on riverbeds and beaches. Recycle plastic caps by bringing them to the nearest Aveda store, such a small task with make a big difference.
For more information check out the RECYCLE CAPS WITH AVEDA website here:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Whatchya Reading?

Went to Michigan this weekend to relax and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather. Saturday we went apple picking and Sunday my son and I spent the afternoon at an art barn happily creating gifts for my new niece.
Whenever I pack for a trip I always take a stack of magazines. I prefer to take back issues from the library, a small way to be green, I hate buying and reading a magazine only to throw it away. I have favorites, some trashy tabloids that are completely mindless and some healthier options. This weekend I happily flipped through issues of Body+Soul, Real Simple and Cooking Light. To me magazines are the perfect mix of good writing and excellent photography.
Support your local library by checking out back issues of their magazines and save a forest by not renewing your magazine subscriptions.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Flash Back #17

I'm going to be an Aunt soon, my sister will be delivering her daughter sometime today!
The baby made famous in the 90's tv show Ally McBeal, enjoy the dancing baby.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Are You Aware of the Dead Zone?

The Dead Zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico that cannot support life. Located where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf and varying in size each year, the Dead Zone is an area of low oxygen caused by nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizer which kills algae. With no oxygen fish either leave the area or die and the eco chain is destroyed. Check out this great website on the Dead Zone
Think it doesn't matter what you use to grow your lawn, kill your weeds or feed livestock, think again. Be smart, get educated and support local responsible farmers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Vitamin Shoppe

One of my new favorite shops is the local Vitamin Shoppe which is conveniently located a few stores down from my neighborhood Trader Joes. Quick and healthy shopping without having to drive all over town. Last night I went in looking for a new multivitamin (one without gelatin) and ended up happily browsing for 30 minutes. Not only does The Vitamin Shoppe have a mind boggling selection of vitamins and supplements but they also have a great selection of healthy snacks and bath and body products. The Burt's Bees items were cheaper than my local Target and Walgreen's so I stocked up on the items I haven't been able to find elsewhere like the Burt's Bees Radiance Night Creme with Royal Jelly (from honeybee's!).
Check out The Vitamin Shoppe's website here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life Changing Book by Randy Pausch

First read this excellent article in the Wall Street Journal by Jeffrey Zaslow, A Final Farewell and then go to your nearest book store (most library copies will be in the hands of patrons)and buy the book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch co-written by Zaslow.
Ever since seeing a story on ABC last year where Pausch was chosen as Person of the Week I have followed Pausch's fight against pancreatic cancer through his daily update page here:
When Randy passed away in July I heard the news on the BBC while in Ireland and without access to the Internet was unaware of his swift decline.
During his final months Pausch with Zaslow completed the book The Final Lecture which continues Pausch's wisdoms made famous in his "Last Lecture Speech" that he gave at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007. I started the book last night and simply couldn't put it down. I am going to reread it again this weekend and then pass it along to those I love for them to read. The book is a powerful testament to a man's desire to leave a legacy for his children. The miracle is that Randy's legacy which was originally shared with just a few hundred people is now shared with all those lucky enough to read his excellent book.
For more information check out the website The Last Lecture and while you are reading about Randy watch the video of his Last Lecture speech, it's not to be missed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A strange Halloween

I miss trick or treating. I also miss having a kid young enough to go with. Sigh.....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Flash Back #16

I was watching music videos on VH1 this morning while my kid was getting ready for school and was feeling young and chipper until I sat through videos by New Kids on the Block and Gavin Rossdale.
Back in the late 80's while in my first 2 years of college I was working at a grade school supervising the before and after school programs. In 1989 all the kids were obsessed with the New Kids. Their faces were on every lunch box, backpack etc. Horrible really. Then in the mid 90's with the British Invasion of bands like Oasis and Bush (Gavin Rossdale's former band) it was all about hard partying Brit musicians. I saw Bush back in 1995 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago and they were topping the charts with their album Sixteen Stone. So this morning I sat through new videos by New Kids and the now solo Gavin Rossdale (more famously known as Mr. Gwen Stefani) and seriously aged about a decade in 5 minutes. Rossdale is probably in his early 40's and the New Kids are in their late 30's and these once teen crushes are now nearly middle aged men! Funny that their videos are still aimed at young females with the New Kids video showing them in expensive suits picking up women half their age in a bar and Rossdale's video features him half naked through most of it either in a shower or a pool (I'm not complaining).
After closing my gaping mouth I turned off the TV and went upstairs to rub some anti wrinkle cream on my face.
Enjoy some vintage New Kids on the Block with their video for Hanging Tough.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Got Snacks?

During tours of libraries I am always amazed by the students, patrons and childen who see the library as a comfort zone, a place to wear your comfiest clothes, drag your backback or bookbag and even pack a lunch or snack. This to me is a great feature of a library, a home away from home where people feel comfortable. Some libraries have a no eating or drinking rule which I think is ridiculous. If you are going to spend hours in a library, having a snack and certainly something to drink is a must. That's why I love the libraries that open cafes within their walls. Nourishing the brain while nourishing the stomach keeps patrons happy.
As I write this I am happily nibbling on one of my favorite snacks...goldfish crackers! I don't really gobble them up, I pop one in my mouth at a time and suck on them, I love the salt. My favorite are the Parmesan goldfish but right now I am on a whole grain goldfish kick, so yummy. And a little snack size bag fits perfectly in my book bag. Plus the little smiley face on each fish makes my smile.
What is your favorite snack?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bette Davis Eyes

I am on a Bette Davis movie marathon and enjoying every minute. This weekend I watched the fantastic Now, Voyager starring Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains and Gladys Cooper. This movie is simply NOT TO BE MISSED!
Davis plays the spinster aunt in a well to do Boston family who suffers a nervous breakdown but after therapy emerges a confident and beautiful woman who finds love and fulfillment away from her domineering mother. The film is simply a feast for the senses. Davis's famous eyes are highlighted in almost every scene she is in and the sets and costumes (fantastic!) are center stage shot in gorgeous black and white. The music score is excellent as are all the performances. They simply don't make films in Hollywood like this anymore.
The movie is famous for the smoking scenes throughout. Nothing really happens without Davis or her co-stars lighting up. In today's PC culture that wouldn't happen in modern films but in this one the smoking is foreplay and sexy in a shared intimate way. You'll understand when you watch Paul Henreid light up 2 cigarettes in his mouth and slowly offer one to Davis. It becomes their signature intimacy symbolic of the only thing they can share.
Later this week I am immersing myself in Dark Victory and Jezebel. I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Treats at Loyola University Chicago

Last Friday I joined the RLA CE Committee (Reference Librarians Association Continuing Education group) for a tour of Loyola University's new Information Commons and the Women and Leadership Archives collection in Piper Hall.
Loyola's Infomation Commons is a silver certified LEED building and it is an excellent blend of technology, comfort and "Green" architecture. Situated on Loyola's lakefront campus, the building was built on the shores on Lake Michigan and the views are breathtaking. I can't think of many college campuses built in such a stunning location, at the edge of a world class city and directly on the water. The IC is truly a stunning example of sustainable architecture and a model of an academic building.
After touring the IC we got a quick look at Loyola's beautiful Madonna della Strada Chapel, also built on the shores of the lake as well as a glimpse of the reading room at Cudahy Library. We then proceeded to the Women and Leadership Archives in Piper Hall. This beautifully restored 100+ year old mansion is the former home of the all women's Mundelein College and now home to the Archives. Part of Loyola University the archives are an excellent collection focusing on women leaders, women's organizations, Mundelein College, radical nuns and social justice activism. The mansion has been beautifully restored and sitting in the rooms or gardens with views of the lake is wonderful. Well worth a visit if in Chicago! Don't miss the beautiful Tiffany stained glass window.
A special thanks to the RLA committee and Leslie Haas, director of the IC and Beth Myers archive director for the tour.
For more information on the RLA and to view pictures of the IC and archives click here:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Books for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thanks to an excellent article in the September 1 issue of Library Journal by Bette-Lee Fox, here is a list of books on the topic of breast cancer. Cancer touches us all so during the month of October be aware of the ongoing fight against breast cancer.
With more than 7 women on my mother's side of the family having been diagnosed with breast cancer including my Mom, it's more likely a question of "when" than "if" I will be diagnosed in the future. So in October remind yourself or the women you love that if you are over 40 or with a history of breast cancer in the family, schedule your mammogram. And read!
After the Cure: The Untold Stories of Breast Cancer Survivors by Saskia K. Subramanian and Emily K. Abel.
Cancer is a Bitch (or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis) by Gail Konop Baker.
A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Triumph by Colleen Sell.
Swimming on My Wedding Day: My Cancer Journey Through the Seasons by Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager.
From Oncology Nursing to Coping With Breast Cancer: My Journey There and Back by Kate Hayward.
What Helped Get Me Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope by the American Cancer Society.
The 10 Best Questions for Surviving Breast Cancer: The Script You Need To Take Control of Your Health by Dede Bonner.
100 Questions & Answers About Breast Cancer by Karl Boatman M.D. and Zora Brown.
100 Questions & Answers About Advanced Metastatic Breast Cancer by Lillie Shockney R.N.
Breast Cancer the Complete Guide by Peter I. Pressman M.D. and Yashar Hirshaut M.D.
Black Smoke: A Woman's Journey of Healing, Wild Love, and Transformation in the Amazon by Margaret De Wys.
Unraveling the Ribbon by Maureen White and Mary Kelly.
Don't Bet Against Me! Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer and in Life by Deanna Favre with Angela Hunt.
Understanding the Mammography and Controversy: Science, Politics and Breast Cancer Screening by Madelon L. Finkel.
I am Not My Breast Cancer: Women Talk Openly About Love and Sex, Hair Loss and Weight Gain, Mothers and Daughters and Being a Women with Breast Cancer by Ruth A. Peltason.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Check out the Librarians Against Palin Blog

The possibility of Palin in the White House is terrifying to me. For information on Palin the book banner check out this excellent blog at: Librarians Against Palin.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feeling Thankful

Turn on the news lately? Read a paper? Listened to the radio? Wondering if it is all doom and gloom? I have...
Then I read a touching personal story or hear of a remarkable human being or watch a video of extraordinary animals (love the ones where animals adopt other animals) and I step away from the sadness and anger for a minute.
So I started writing down the things I am thankful for today and thought I would share a few, you should do the same it keeps things in perspective.

I am thankful for:
My family
My health
The health of my family and friends
My friends
My job (in one of the last "free" environments..need a book, a music cd, a movie...then go to the original reuse and recycle environment)
That I have no credit card debt, ZERO, ZIP, NADA. I'm not part of that problem.
My smart financial adviser and my equally smart lawyer. Planning ahead equals piece of mind.
Independence. One of my greatest strengths and something I rely on in tough times.
My freedom

So turn off the news, stay away from CNN and find something positive today. It shouldn't be hard.

Monday, September 29, 2008

One of the Greatest Home Libraries

Last week I blogged about home libraries and a few days later came across this excellent article on one of the world's greatest personal collections at
The article, Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library takes you on a tour of the founder of Priceline's "priceless" collection. The pictures show an almost unbelievable library built to display a mind numbing array of books, artifacts, models, antiques and maps. Walker owns an original 1493 copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, a 1535 Coverdale Bible, 20th Century books covered in jewels and thousands of other items in the same room as an original Sputnik satellite, a field tool kit of Civil War surgeons, the original hand from the TV show The Addams Family and a chandelier from the Bond movie Die Another Day!
Check out the article and the amazing pictures. The library is private and has only been viewed by invitation from Walker, in fact the article is the first time a member of the press was allowed access.
Just reading about this man's fantastic collection made me happy that somewhere someone had the means and the thought to collect all those treasures. To me just a glimpse of such a place is a fantasy brought to reality.

Friday, September 26, 2008

ILA Conference at Navy Pier

Yesterday was Day 2 of the Illinois Library Association's 3 day conference held at Navy Pier in Chicago. I attended and thoroughly enjoyed each of the 3 sessions I participated in. After years of employment at the American Library Association and working conferences in San Diego, Seattle, Orlando, Boston and Chicago it was nice to attend a Library Conference as a participant and not as an employee.
The sessions I chose to attend were really very good, particularly the Library 2.0 session with speakers from the Schaumburg, Skokie, Arlington Heights and Park Ridge libraries. I also sat in on a Learning Lab session (how to create an experiential learning environment within your library using Green technology and ideas) and a session on weeding your reference collection.
Like most conferences the rooms are rarely adequate for the attendees who show up, the rooms are either too small or too large, too cold or too warm, too noisy or with too many distractions. Like most PLA sessions I scheduled rooms for at ALA conferences getting the right room for the right program is almost impossible with the exception of opening and closing sessions when you know you will need the largest rooms.
What surprised me the most as an attendee in the sessions was not about the inadequacy of the facility but more the inappropriate behavior of other attendees! In my first session there was the constant stream of late arrivers who entered through the loudest and heaviest doors on 2 sides of the room. Or the attendees who after a few minutes decide they don't want to stay and get up from a seat in the middle of a row of 15-20 people and have to scooch by with multiple bags (free vendor handouts I am sure) full of free books, bottles of water, lunch bags etc. that smack each person they squeeze by.
In my 2nd session there was the woman sitting next to me in a packed overly small room who constantly fanned through the edges of her magazine for 60 minutes, zphhhhhhhhhhhhhh, zphhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Or my personal favorite the woman in my 3rd session with the snorting and clearing of her nasal passages every 1 minute. Seriously it's appalling when people are so clueless of their distracting behavior.
All in all the sessions were excellent, the speakers were well chosen and well spoken and the lovely setting of Navy Pier was a bonus. In between each session it was lovely to step outside and gaze upon the Chicago skyline while watching the boats sail in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bibliophilia Must Read Book-Among the Gently Mad

I've posted before about my book collection including some of my rare books, see post:
In my pursuit of acquiring some great rare books I am reading, Among the Gently Mad: Strategies and Perspectives for the Book Hunter in the Twenty First Century by Nicholas Basbanes.
Full of strategies for the modern day bibliophile this book is a must read for any collector. Topics include finding rare books at auctions, book fairs, brokers and collectors as well as through websites such as Ebay.
A must read for any bibliophile!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are you Social Networking?

One of the coolest things about social networking are the people I have reconnected with, some after more than 20 years. Since high school and college, there have been friends that have crossed my mind over the years and as the Internet grew, so did the ability to search for them. I never had much success until I got on Facebook and have finally reconnected with former roommates, ex-boyfriends and even childhood playmates.
My favorite part of reconnecting is the sharing of memories especially events I had forgotten until reminded of it by someone who experienced it with me.
I recently connected with a friend from high school, an older guy who I totally crushed on my sophomore year. Funny to think that is how old my kid is now.
Anyway, he reminded me of a memory that has had me laughing ever since, in his words, "Lastly... I was reminded of us drinking Peach Schopps (sp) in my backyard the night before your ACTs. I am glad to know you did well enough to get into college. ;-)"
Thanks Rich, good times back then even if I did have to retake those ACTs.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feeling Nostalgic

(Picture is the cast of the classic 80's television series Degrassi Junior High which ran from 1987-1989. Check out the clothes and hairstyles!)

So this is homecoming week at my kid's school, which also happens to be the high school I attended (Class of 1988).
Today is 80's day and because he didn't want to dress up, not cool for guys I guess, I went through my bin of high school crap and found some buttons from homecoming 1984, 1985 and 1986. He liked the 1985 button and is wearing that as his little bit of school spirit.
I have a couple of large plastic boxes, one full of high school memories and one full of college memories. When pawing through the high school box last night I stumbled across a shoe box full of notes from friends passed in classes, ticket stubs, id's, tacky plastic neon jewelry, love letters (so funny!), pictures and anything I thought was worth saving as a teenager. With my 20th reunion in under 2 weeks I might sit down and go through the entire box.
The 80's doesn't really feel like it was that long ago until I saw all the kids walking into the high school today in "costumes" reflecting what we used to wear as teenagers. Side ponytails, big earrings, tight acid wash pants, "Flashdance" style tops, patterned tights, leg warmers, men's jackets with the sleeves rolled up and neon, way too much neon. Geez, when I was a teen the theme days in school were 50's and 60's days and my Mom let me wear her saddle shoes or bell bottoms. times change so quickly.
Check out this hysterical website of everything 80's, the pictures are great!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Me and the Magic Man

Since it's all about Copperfield this week, check out the pic below!

Friday Flash Back #15

In honor of David Copperfield's birthday which was Tuesday, here is a flash back video of the disappearance of the Statue of Liberty. Fabulously retro clothes, radar systems, spotlights and pay attention to his hand gestures, hysterical!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Home Library

In my deliciously cozy family room I have large built in bookshelves as well as a comfy leather sofa and reading chair in front of the fireplace. The room is small with only light from the french doors that open onto my yard which makes it the perfect place to curl up during cold Chicago winters to read.
In my perfect world I would be a billionaire bibliophile with a castle in England full of my fine rare books and my old favorites. Of course, my favorite room would be my library. (kitchen you do know I don't cook)
While stuck in a rather drab meeting today in a library too close to Wisconsin for my liking I wasted a bit of time searching the web on my ITouch for pictures of more appealing libraries and found some terrific websites on creating your own perfect home library.
The website Library Designs here: has some great pictures of classic home libraries many with the wall of books and rolling ladder.
And check out this great article at Business Week online for a slideshow of home libraries.
Encourage your young reader or inspire yourself to start your own library at this wonderful website which includes a great selection of bookplates you can customize for your collection.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are You Registered to Vote?

I completed my refresher course on voter registration and was sworn in as a Deputy Voter Registrar this afternoon. Your right to vote is one of the greatest privileges in the world and I hope you all vote at every opportunity.
If you live in the State of Illinois and are NOT registered to vote... well that doesn't make me happy, but lucky you, I can register you! Or if you have changed your address you will need to re-register.
So, exercise your right to make a difference, and YES it DOES make a difference.
So VOTE! You might see me as an Election judge this year. Totally cool!
Helpful websites:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Looking for...

that misplaced car or a goose? If you are, check with David Copperfield. I saw David's show in Las Vegas and it was tons of fun and left the audience going, "How'd he do that?" Seriously entertaining.
Copperfield was a total stud when I was in high school (late 80's) and in college (early 90's) so seeing him live was a huge thrill for me. I think I've seen all his over the top cheesy shows (making the Statue of Liberty disappear, walking through the Great Wall of China) so I was expecting some good tricks and he didn't disappoint. Making a car appear over the head of guests he pulled from the audience and walking through a steel plate were some of his cooler tricks. What was surprising was how OLD he looked. Maybe it was an off night but I was expecting the movie star looks from tv and his posters all around Las Vegas, but when he walked out on stage I was shocked, he is OLD! Well not old, I thought he looked at least 60 and was shocked to find out when I Googled him he is only 52. This is the man who dated Claudia Schiffer for years but whatever, maybe the man has been a playboy too long. Maybe it's the magic that keeps the ladies interested, he is totally amazing.
Check out site here:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Have you ever seen?

The Golden Gate Bridge? After missing my flight from Las Vegas to Chicago (long story!) I ended up catching a flight to San Francisco and at 1:30 a.m. this morning the plane left California and flew over the Golden Gate Bridge. Lucky to snag a window seat the view was breathtaking, flying over the bridge and under a very bright full moon. I'm finally home after what should have been a 5 hour trip took 15 hours.
The rains in Chicago have stopped, the flooding continues and I wish I was still sipping pina coladas at the pool.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

Will of course be shared here next week.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yummy Food for the Soul

So after today's difficult workout, I've stopped crying which is a good thing, I am regenerating with some yummy foods.
I started out with good and hearty Irish oatmeal this morning at 7 am with a teaspoon of natural honey and a handful of raspberries and blueberries. After my workout I made a delicious 4 eggwhite scramble with feta cheese and green peppers with a slice of Irish brown bread and Kerrygold Irish butter and a banana. I'm already feeling better and am almost ready to start packing for Las Vegas.
After spending some quality time in Ireland over the last 2 years I am completely addicted to a few Irish food items and a shipment of my favorites arrived at my home yesterday. Every day I have 2-3 cups of Lyon's Tea which I buy from the Food Ireland website here:
I also enjoy good brown bread and Food Ireland has a delicious selection which they ship to you within 2 days.
I've always been an egg addict and love a good hard boiled egg soaked for days in a jar of leftover pickle juice. "Pickled eggs" are a Southern favorite and I grew up eating them along with pickled pigs feet in Florida (way before I went vegetarian). Near my family home in Gulfport Florida the local convenience store had large jars of pickling pigs feet and eggs on the deli counter and they were a cheap and delicious treat on a hot summer day. There is no way one of those feet would cross my lips now, but I still love pickled eggs. My healthier eating habits have me losing the yoke and enjoying the whites, but the taste remains the same.
I gotta go pack for Vegas, I'll be taking my own oatmeal and tea for the mornings and hopefully can find a healthy buffet for the mornings after our late nights.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Puppy Lullaby

I had to post this video, it absolutely made my day.
Make sure your volume is turned up to hear him sing the puppies to sleep. Amazing!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back to the Grind

Well after having Friday and Monday off due to working Saturday and Sunday, I am back to the grind at work and eagerly awaiting my trip to Las Vegas in 3 days.
Trainer Troy is teaching me to box, which we worked on this morning and has me eating oatmeal EVERY MORNING! Apparently as a veggie, I am not getting enough protein and amino acids. So oatmeal and egg whites it is!
After getting the kid off to school this morning, he left the TV on to MTV and some show called The Hills was on. I couldn't look away, it was like a train wreck involving all the popular kids in high school. Fake jobs, fake problems, fake boobs, it just went on and on and because the episode was in Las Vegas I watched the entire episode. I was seriously dumber after watching but completely enjoyed picturing the stupid girl Heidi and the annoying girl Lauren's faces while hitting my trainers gloves. They did go to a cool looking nightclub I may have to check out this weekend though...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Flash Back #14

I gotta cut back on the water, I think I am floating my brain because this morning in my dream Wonder Woman showed up to hang out and give me fashion advice.
So thanks WW, I love the large metal bullet reflecting bracelets, wearing a whip as an accessory, large earrings are totally back in vogue and I will never underestimate the miracle of a great push up bra while performing gymnastics to save myself from a giant killer laser.
Enjoy a clip of one of the coolest shows from the 1970's.

P.S. I hope my new trainer Troy makes my ass look like yours in those huge blue panties!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Losing my mind and...

hopefully my "wobbly bits" (in the words of Bridget Jones).
This morning I signed up to work with a personal trainer 2x a week starting next week. Over the last 3 years I have completed a 6 month boot camp class, worked with a female personal trainer for a few months in 2006 and tried various yoga and pilates studios, but I still haven't built up my cardio. Until I met Troy today. Troy is my fitness Master for the next 6 weeks. Not needing to lose weight my trainer will instead teach me how to increase my endurance, flexibility and strength and to maintain my fitness goals. My biggest goal is to enter my first mini triathlon next summer (1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run).
Each day I have to write down everything I eat and drink and try to finish 4 liters of water a day! I will have to live vicariously through my Bridget Jones' DVDs for awhile.

Mark Darcy: (Bridget gets out of bed covered in a sheet and begins to fumble around) "What on Earth are you doing?"
Bridget Jones: "Getting dressed."
Mark Darcy: "Why're you dancing around in that tent business?"
Bridget Jones: "Because I don't want you to see any of my wobbly bits."
Mark Darcy: "Well now that's a bit pointless isn't it. As I happen to have a very high regard for your wobbly bits. In all circumstances."
Bridget Jones: (Bridget's head emerges from the sheet) "Really?"
Mark Darcy: "Absolutely. I think it's high time we had another look."
(Bridget drops the sheet on the floor)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kurt Russell is King

In the lapse of anything decent to watch on tv I am introducing my son to the man who made movies worth watching in the 1980's. KURT RUSSELL. Russell is my King of the ridiculous but classic cult films and absolutely my favorite 80's actor. We started with the cherry on the sundae of Russell's 80's films, Escape from New York. My son was very skeptical at first but Snake Plissken is now one of our favorite movie references. We then moved on to the campy combination of Asian street gangs, monsters, 200 year old horny ghosts, Chinese girls with green eyes, truckers (my heroes), Kim Cattrall, and a floating head with dozens of eyes, the excellent Big Trouble in Little China. Really I don't think there is a better campy director than the brilliant John Carpenter who directs Russell in both. Next on the film review list are Overboard with Russell and real life love Goldie Hawn and one of my favorite romances EVER Tequila Sunrise. We will then work our way into Russell's 90's films including the absolutely excellent Tombstone and the sequel to Escape from New York, Escape from LA.
Looking for something to watch? Netflix a Russell/Carpenter film and relive the days when there were no rules in film making and actors still said quotable lines.

From Escape from New York
Hauk: "Plissken? Plissken, what are you doing?"
Snake Plissken: "Playing with myself! I'm going in."

From Big Trouble in Little China
Jack Burton: "When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Have ya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail."