Friday, December 23, 2011

My Husband Looks Like Someone Else, Part Three

And apparently, so do I.

But first, the DH. Two nights ago we had just walked into the Blaisdell Farmers' Market, when a nice lady said to my husband, "How you? You still walkin' your dog." DH: "I'm not who you think I am. I've got a cheap face!" Lady: "Wait, you gotta nice face." DH: "I don't have a dog!" Lady: "Oh, sorry. You have a nice evening!"

We could not stop laughing! This is the standing joke between us. I have started calling the DH "Blooks" in honor of Brooks Takenaka, of Hawaii Fishing Agency. (I'm just teasing him!) And sorry, Brooks, my husband is better looking!

About 2 weeks ago we were at a casual wine and cigar event when a woman I'd never met introduced herself and asked if we'd met at another gathering at a resort down the coast. Uh, no! We don't smoke $30 Davidoff cigars or drink single malt Scotch! I have never tasted Lagavulin or Laphroaig, and only had a taste from a bottle of Glenfidditch that someone else bought. No, thanks - too rich for my blood!

So, I told her that must be my doppelganger (double) - swanning around smoking Opus X and swilling Scotch!

But, I wonder if she's having as much fun as me?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What I'm Reading - December

Skellig by David Almond. Looking forward to reading his Mina. We are who we are because of events, ideas and impressions that formed us when we were young.

Skellig is the unhip archangel Michael who changes the young protagonist's life forever. All we're asked is whether we can believe.

See Lives to Eat for a very different book!

What are you reading?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Otis Redux

When you haven't seen your neighbors for a while, you start to think of the worst, especially if they're aging.

Florence, the cat lady, was in the hospital, then a care home, according to Kim, mommy to Otis, She is 82 years old and was still out feeding the cats twice a night - at 9 pm and 2 am. Crazy! Even the Manicured Librarian is asleep at 2 am!

So Kim and Butch, Rosie's father, have stepped in to help. But I'm sure they are not out at 2 am!

Rosie, my husband's gf, has been ailing, so whenever we do see her, we are happy! A couple nights ago, we saw Butch reading an Occupy Hawaii poster on the street. He said he'd left Rosie in the car. We wanted to see her, so we all walked over together. When he opened the door, she barked loudly, scolding him! When she saw us, her tailed wagged as fast as it gets! That pretty much took all the energy she had!

Otis, too, is getting on in years. I think Kim said he's 13, so in dog years, that's 104! He's deaf, so he stares at Kim so intently his eyes water! What a character, his head tilts, and one ear is cocked up - almost as if he could hear!

Thank goodness Otis and Rosie are still with us - they are just two of the characters in our neighborhood!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A great gift for anyone

I don't usually suggest or promote things but this is such a great product!

This Contigo travel mug is advertised as keeping hot drinks so for 3 hours, and cold ones 9 hours, and we've found this to be true. I loaded mine with ice and a bit of water, thinking I'd have a cold and icy drink, but after an hour on the road, it was still ice and very little melt! Excellent product!!!

I usually put about 8 ounces of coffee into it every morning that I go to work, but it will hold 16 ounces. After an hour it's still hot, but after 2 hours, it will be warm. I can stand to drink good coffee even if it's cold, so I don't mind.

One caveat: learn to press the button BEFORE you sip, as it releases air and "spits".

Otherwise, an altogether stellar product. The lid closes simply and without fuss. Easy to drink from, a breeze to clean. I HIGHLY recommend this!

Here is the website. They have several styles and other sizes. The price listed for the one I have is $24.99, but we got ours in a 2-pack for less than that at that big box store I hate to shop in. Yes, Costco. Don't know if they still have them, but it would make a great gift.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Where to "Go" in Downtown Honolulu

I was sure I wrote about this. Maybe not.

The library is one of the few places to "go" - potty, that is - on this end of town. For that reason, it is, unfortunately, sometimes abused. Here's what you can encounter in the women's restroom. The men's has been worse - one morning, the DH was helping with a program and couldn't "go" bcs a disturbed person had "gone" all over the men's - floor, commode and walls!

The custodians - a crew of saintly men whose patience and fortitude is tried DAILY - had to hose down the entire room, sending patrons and staff to the second floor.

Then there was the time when the men's was shut down for DAYS bcs someone had broken the counter and sink - JUST avoiding damaging the plumbing. Why? Bcs they COULD.

The other restroom nearby is at City Hall - but, like us, only open when business is conducted.

In the heart of Honolulu, Macy's is the restroom haven, but I admit I've used the men's there when the women's line went almost to the sales floor. No, there were no men in there, and a woman guarded the door as I did the same for her. Desperate times call for desperate measures!

But before Macy's opens, I've seen a woman pulling down her dress after relieving herself in a doorway near McDonald's. And now you know why downtown Honolulu smells like urine!

So it is with great relief that we welcome the first public restrooms in HNL's Chinatown, at River of Life Mission, on Pauahi St. Well, actually it's the second. If you ask nicely at the police substation, you can use their facilities.


Yes, there is always an exception!

They are only open 10 am to 9 pm.

And only on the weekend.

What's up with that???

In other toilet news, Starbucks baristas staged a mini toilet revolt in NYC!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November Reading & Gratitude

I started the month by reading the entire series of books by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler, a young adult series of novels about the famous Judge Ooka and his fictional adopted son, Seikei. Several of these were good, one not worth reading, the others okay. Ask me in the comments if you want to know which ones to read.

While looking for books on being grateful for my visiting children's classes, I found one for myself. I found 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life inspiring. (Though not inspiring enough -yet! - to write the several thank yous I should!) John Kralik was an attorney whose firm was not doing well. He started by examining his life, deciding to be grateful and write a first note. This led him to write one to his own son - but when he realized he didn't have his address, he called him. They had lunch together, and his son handed him an envelope. It was repayment of a loan.

Unreal! Any parent of adult children will realize that you write off loans you make to your children as noncollectable! If this payment was not enough to save his business, it did something for his soul and morale.He was determined to write 365 for the year. It took him 15 months, but changed his life.

I told the class of 5th and 6th graders who came (who were FORCED to listen to me! LOL!) about the book. They were disappointed (yeah, right!) I wasn't requiring them to write 365 thank yous. I did indicate they should give thanks when appropriate, and that they might start a tradition at Thanksgiving, of each family member saying what they were especially thankful for.

Of course, they were more interested in hearing about the books on magic, ghost hunters, baseball, and 100 most amazing things than that book. The bee plight book didn't grab them, either. If you want to know the titles of any of those, tell me in the comments. I have a poor memory for song titles, names, and unfortunately, book titles!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and tell me what you are grateful for.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Lady and the...What?

I was walking down my street the other week. My eyes were focused forward, and my thoughts were far away.

But I heard a voice in a tone usually reserved for babies and kittens, so I turned to my left.

And then I saw the woman talking to the duck.

It was a honking, BIG, OGLY duck - one of those with a red bill and stuff on its head, white with black patterning.


Thankfully, it was not talking back.

They were by the side of one of the many bridges in my neighborhood, constructed over culverts and streams which carry runoff and rain to the ocean. The woman was in a parking lot. The duck was on the wall fronting the stream.

You could not get me as close to something that looked like that critter!

In her best baby-talking voice, the woman was trying to coax the Big Duck to eat from a bowl.

And I thought the people across the stream from me were a bit odd to have two fat Rhode Island Red hens in their yard, as this is not really the 'burbs!

Come to think of it, I wonder if the hens survived the Veteran's Day weekend? I haven't heard them since Saturday!

Just two more examples of the fauna in my urban neighborhood!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More on Bad Neighbors

First, I am losing a GOOD neighbor. His landlady wants to move in, and after he leaves she is redoing the kitchen. Which means I sure hope it's not on Wednesday, my usual day off.

I don't know why, but another neighbor was in his unit when we passed his on the way to the elevator. She took my DH aside. He later told me all she did was complain about HER bad neighbor. There was talk of that neighbor "spying" on her.

When neither of them can say good things about the other, they are BOTH probably bad neighbors, and we are NOT going to be taking sides. Which is what they want! Wake up, smell the coffee, and grow up!

I am too old to stomach this type of drama!!!

Read here and here and here about my own bad neighbor experiences. And YES, the vomit cougher is back. But I think she had a talking-to, and was told to put a lid on it, or at least put her hand over her mouth!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stop with The Hat!

When you see in his photos that your retired brother-in-law is wearing That Hat, you know the "trend" is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!!

You KNOW the hat I'm talking about - the one with the narrow brim, that wants to be a fedora, but EPIC FAIL!

Both genders are wearing this, but it looks best on teenagers.

And bro-in-law has TWO of them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Books End Up in the Library

Hahaha! I tell my friends stories about stuff that happens in the library.

They tell me I should write a book.

I ask if they would buy it.

They say they would borrow it from the library.

They do not know how things work in the library. They assume every book written will eventually be found in a library, the library, THEIR library.

If that's the case, why do we get calls every week from publishers and authors? (And by the way, shouldn't those publishers know librarians need to see review copies? Man up and send us the book!)

We have to decide if the books are fit for our patrons. Believe me, there are some that are not.

Why? Well, first of all, we do have a budget. For the fiscal year for our section, it's in the five figures.

The LOW five figures. So the books need to fit the budget.

They need to fit the clientele. We need to look at books the patrons request, too. We just can't buy them all.

Are all books well-written? No. We, the librarians decide that. We ask questions like: is it age-appropriate? If there are illustrations, are they of good quality and appealing to children or young adults or adults? Can we follow the story? Is the book well-made? Can it hold up to a dozen or two dozen checkouts? Do we have something already in our collection as good or better? Does it fill a need in the library?

I'm not even going to go into the details of buying ebooks!

This started out to be a post on what I'm reading. I'll get to that another time.

Do you even go to the library?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Two movies in one week

I'm usually not a fan of Hollywood movies.

I think they're too slick, the stories predictable, and the people too pretty.

I usually like small foreign films from which I can learn something about the culture, and indie films that are more realistic. I loved Winter's Bone and most anything the Coen brothers have done. Yes, I have a dark and quirky sense of humor.

I went to see 50/50 - despite the fact that Seth Rogen is in it. "Who was that gorilla?" asked my husband. Indeed! Rogen is actually quite good in this. But Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam is terrific. And it's based on the real story of Will Reiser. Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Houston and Bryce Dallas Howard were good in this, too.

I'm not a fan of disease movies, either. But there is so much humor and warmth in this one. And a lot of it is about people feeling resentful of and put out by Adam's illness.

See it!

On Saturday, neither of us was very hungry at 5 pm. So, the choice of movies was between Moneyball - about baseball - or Ides of March. The showtimes for the latter worked out.

Since I don't like chick flicks, I'd never seen Ryan Gosling in a movie. He was not great, but he was very good in this Clooney-directed vehicle.

And let's just say George was very presidential.

The story had several twists. Oh, and Paul Giamatti was superb - such a great voice and excellent characterization! Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei were good, too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October: Read

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt.

Read it!

The fathers in his (YA) books are truly awful. Find out if there's redemption for this one.

Doug, the main kid, finds hope in art in a library, and becomes a guy who makes things happen.

What's not to love? Art, library, change and growth!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stories Children Love

At the library, a month into the school year, we have class visits almost every day, with as many as 100+ children coming to learn about the library, and hear a story or two.

These are the ones I love to read aloud, and children seem to love hearing them!

It's a Secret by John Burningham
Where does the cat go every night? Marie Elaine finds out the secret!

Crazy Hair Day by Barney Saltzburg
How a class helps a student overcome embarrassment when he gets his events mixed up.

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen
A crocodile helps his family, who just happen to be ducks!

No Dinner by Jessica Souhami
An old woman eats well and avoids being eaten.

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza
The piglet gets all the perks. EVERY day may just be his lucky day!

Tell me, what are your favorites?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Part Three: What's Up with THAT, or Things That Make You Go Huh?

Ladies, do you have this problem?

Sorry, men with long hair might well have this problem, too!

My hair is long enough to gather into a ponytail with one of those spirally things, and when I'm cooking, cleaning, washing or even WRITING, I need to clip my bangs back with a little clippie thing.

Yes, those are the technical terms for those!

It took experimenting to find spirally and clippie things that would not leave bends and dents in my hair. I laid in a good stock of them, enough to put one in each room. But,


Of 5 spirally things, I can only find 3! Out of 6 clippie things, I only see 4 at any one time.

Where the heck ARE they?

I've already bought another set of spirally things - the idea of having only 2 on hand is too scary to pursue!

Do they all hide in one place, or each find somewhere specific and special?

Do tell!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September: What I've Read/Am Reading

Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt. A teacher sees the potential in a student during the Vietnam era. The DH liked it, too. I told him it was because he had a teacher like Miss Baker.

Ooka the Wise by I. G. Edmonds. Judge Ooka cleverly decides cases ranging from his grandson fighting with a playmate to who should get the last horse - or whether the principals should divide it!? Entertaining.

Bokuden and the Bully adapted by Stephen Krensky. Based on a real samurai sword master, who wins by NOT fighting. Gotta love it!

Tasty Baby Belly Buttons adapted by Judy Sierra, with great illustrations by Meilo So. A feminine version of Momotaro. Our heroine pops out of a melon, and she gets a chance at ogre-fighting. The onomatopoeia - like "tontoko, tontoko" and "boroboro" - all too funny!

Ghost of a Smile by Deborah Boehm. Yes, I'm on a Japanese obake/folktale kick! This one is set in contemporary Japan, at that place where the spirits meet modern men and women - and some of them get it on! Some repetition and scenery chewing, but enjoyable for the most part.

Getting ready for an anime program, and reading Nemu Nemu by Audra Furuichi.

UPDATE: scratch Nemu Nemu, we have a different program presenter.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Part Two: What's up with THAT?

First, help me understand this: someone I know keeps the end rolls of toilet tissue - about 1/4 inch on each.


No, I haven't asked the person. I don't know why, perhaps I'm afraid to hear the answer.

And so it goes.

Next: why don't teachers actually teach their students RESEARCH SKILLS? Starting with keeping index cards, or a notebook dedicated to their project. They were in the library last week, and they may have had at most, a sheet of paper and a pen. And I found exactly ONE sheet of paper with notes, AFTER they had left. Too cool for school?

Should I go off topic and mention the student helper who can't remember his tasks - there are about six of them. His supervisor said just as much. I mentioned she might want to type a list. Then I saw such a list a few days later. As stupid as this may sound, I keep a notebook for each job I've had.

And I've had many!

A notebook on how to do your job helps you avoid the student helper-type questions, like:

"NOW, what do I do?" He asks ME this, and I just tell him I'm NOT his supervisor. I'm not!

"What time do I start today?" I said I'm NOT your supervisor, so I DO NOT KNOW.

"Where's the nearest drinking fountain?" I told him the other day, but repeated my answer. "Oh, I THINK that one's broken." THINK or KNOW? If you haven't seen it today, do you KNOW?

So, if you HAVE a notebook, you could write all sorts of things in it. Like your schedule. Your six tasks so you could learn them. And then the supervisor could teach you the six new tasks! You could put a map of the library in your notebook, so you can know where each and every drinking fountain is, on every floor!

Okay, back on topic: Research Skills. When I asked the students how they were going to decide whether the book they held in their hands was going to have the information they needed for their topic, one of them said: "Read it."

They were genuinely delighted when I told them they didn't have to. It was a surprise to them that all they would have to do was look in the table of contents, index, read a few pages, and look to see if there was a bibliography with more references.

But a researcher told me that some law students on this island, because they are so used to looking at databases and reports online, did not even know books HAVE indices and TOCs!

It's a new world, and I'm not sure I like it. But at least, I have something "new" to teach each incoming class. And their older siblings!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Part Two of My Husband Looks Like...

Yep! Someone Else.

We were in the supermarket the other night. He was doing his part in the shopping ritual - checking the eggs to see that none were broken. He noticed someone was watching him, and as he wheeled his cart away, an older fellow approached and asked if his name was Tamanaha.

"No," said the DH. "Was my good buddy from small keed time." (This is the local patois, pidgin English, for those of you not familiar with Hawaiian Creole English. Long may it continue. It's the spice in our speech!)

"But, you not Okinawan, eh?" the fellow added.

I asked if the friend, Tamanaha, might have been the odd hairless Okinawan? I guess I have to 'splain that Okinawans are from the southern part of Japan, and are usually hairier than the other Japanese.

OT : the DH and I were talking about Salma Hayek in the movie about Frida Kahlo. Both lovely, talented women, but Frida had a unibrow AND a moustache. She could very well have been Okinawan!

Takenaka, Tamanaha, and a student calls the DH "SomethingSaki"! Is there no respect?

We were at the Blaisdell Farmers' Market last night, and it just occurred to me that the Farm Bureau woman might have been talking to us so familiarly NOT because we're there at least every other week, but because she might have thought the DH was the fish man, Brooks Takenaka???

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last Saturday Storytime of August

Storytime consists of warming up the crowd with a familiar rhyme or song, reading 2 to 4 picture books, followed by a simple make and take craft.

Attendees have been younger and younger lately. The youngest look barely 15 months old, with the (mis)behavior that goes along with it. Then again, some have been taught, but the lessons haven't stuch!

I started with a rhyme that was repeated enthusiastically by those who knew it. It helps when the parents join in, but these appeared to want to be entertained rather than participate! Plus there was a SCREAMING toddler to my left - the mother took him outside TWICE. After that, I tried to ignore one of the twins, who I'd name NAUGHTY and Nice. She was pulling out every book on the shelf next to me. I ignored her lest I be tempted to bop her with one of the books.

I soldiered on! They liked Plenty Saimin (and who in noodle soup-loving Hawaii DOESN'T?), Beach Day and Whose Slippers Are These? In between, I tried to get them to sing If You're Happy and You Know It, but ended up singing alone! After the second story, I said I'd read the third, and a little girl got up, stood in front of me and said she wasn't having a third. I think I told her, "Too bad!"

When I showed them the craft they'd be doing, there was an audible gasp from both children and parents! Too funny! It IS a cute craft - a greeting card with dimensional cutout rubber slipper. I tried to convince the student helper that the cutting should be left to the parents and children, who think it's fun.

Afterwards, one of the librarians asked how it went, and even suggested I post instructions to one of the children's librarians' listservs, as there was a need for this type of craft! I'll have to write some up in order to do this!

The best part of this craft was that ALL of the components were recycled: from the colored copy paper that used to be flyers, to the paper for the invitations - leftover from another project, to the slipper "straps" - donated foam pieces. I am getting better at using odds and ends rather than "new" supplies.

But I still choose a craft first, then the stories to go with it later!

The DH surprised me by showing up! He took some photos, joined in making the slipper card, then went off to meet "the boys" to smoke cigars. I went off to lunch, where I thought I was going to eat one of my humble sandwiches...

Friday, August 26, 2011

It Was a VERY Short Day!

I'm not tall. I envy our student helper - I think she's 5' 9". Can't she just give me two inches?

How short am I? Well, I used to be 5' 1". Now I think I'm barely over 5' tall.

It was on the bus this morning when I first saw real shortness. I can't remember when he climbed on, but a fellow hopped onto a seat across the aisle from me. I'm going to say he was under 3 feet tall. Still, he climbed up without a struggle. He was black, middle-aged and his clothes fit well. Think how hard it must be for HIM to find things that fit!

The next encounter was in the library. I had the afternoon shift in the young adult section, and barely saw the younger woman in her 30s or 40s from the reference desk. I'm better at guessing volume than height or distance, so I estimated she was 70+ pounds, and approximately 3' 6". The first fellow was around 50 pounds.

After work, my bus was extra late. We were treated to olfactory punishment in the form of a homeless woman who was reading a plastic-protected sheet of paper - out loud. She smelled strongly of urine - which is prompting me to stand up now and put a fragrance sample in my handbag. She was briefly joined by a homeless man, who looked a bit better than the woman.

The third vertically challenged person looked almost 4' 6". She was loud for her height, and made faces at a baby held in a sling around its mother's neck. The woman's face was exactly at the same level as the baby's. The mother was of above-average height.

At work, I wear sandals with heels about 2-1/2 inches high - close to the upper limit of what is comfortable for me. Even with those few inches, I notice being able to see more, reach things better and I'm more sparkly.

WHAT? My sandals have some tastefully placed rhinestones along the edges of the straps. Which sparkle is still enough to catch the attention of the OFLIC. Older Female Librarians In Charge. I can well imagine them clucking or tsking their disapproval when I'm out of earshot. Not that I care!

How tall - or short - are you? Does your height define you? How?

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Makes You Read?

Truth is my answer and reason!

Does a story ring true?

I believe that we read to learn the stories of others. Whether we say we want "information" or "knowledge", if that's conveyed to us in the form of a story, so much the better.

When we sense honesty - that we're being told truths - we accept this more easily. And everyone's "truths" are different.

Yes, there are fabricators - James Frey, etc.

But there are also those who relate the stories of their lives - warts and all, with unblinking courage - so by reading, we may learn from them.

What are the truths about "history"? Are they only HIS-story? What about HER-story?

It's taken me a few years to realize "history" MUST include HER stories, as well as those of children, servants, slaves, immigrants, aliens - illegal or not. All those not in power, not in the dominant culture, all those who are disenfranchised. The angle of the lens of study must widen and include everyone who was there, not only those who can write best. Original sources! Record the oral histories. Break out the interpreters and translators!

Show me all sides and angles of the story - including from the bottom up - and I'll tell you that you've given me a real history.

Tell me what you're reading now!?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are You Left or Right Brained?

I'd always thought the whole family leaned more toward being RIGHT-brained, or more creative.

But I recently took this test, and the results made me think differently. Or, perhaps, I actually do think differently since I went back to school to get a graduate degree.

Of course, the test is simplistic and not definitive. It definitely started me thinking about the issue. My results are 53% left, 47% right. And I agree.

For better or worse, my thinking has grown to be more logical and analytic

How about you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August Reading

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi - a graphic novel that continues the author's tale of growing up in turbulent Islamic Revolution Iran, and school in Vienna. I saw the movie some years ago, and recommend it. You may gain some insight into a way of life that is so constraining, and worse for women who have to wear the hijab and be otherwise modest. Men, at least can express themselves in dress, barbering and grooming.

Big Machine by Victor LaValle is the other book. I had to return it before the DH could finish, because there were requests for it. Needless to say, it's a compelling read. It's about cults, a library, redemption and immaculate conception. Sort of. You HAVE to read it!

Next, I'm reading Death at the Crossroads by Dale Furutani, about a ronin and bandits in shogun-era Japan.

Tell me what you're reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What's Up with THAT? - Things that Make You Go HUH???

Why do the dang neighbors above us keep dropping things? It doesn't matter what room I'm in, one of them is directly above me, dropping what sounds like a lead pipe! It does look like they are moving out, but it's taking much too long!

If you bring your lunch in an insulated lunch box, why do you still need to put the entire large, trunk-size thing in the refrigerator? Because of this, there are times when I can barely find a spot to put my little sandwich in its Ziploc bag.

Do you remember The Rules of the Road? The basic ones, like the yellow light means you should stop at the intersection, instead of accelerating so you can beat the red light (but you don't). And that pedestrians have the right of way - if the light is green for them, you should let them cross instead of gunning your engine, hitting the gas and barely missing them!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm on a Mission

The teenagers who don't speak it say it sounds "ugly". I say knowing how to converse in this second or third language of Hawaii may save their lives if they are stranded in a rural community like Nanakuli.

One teenager told me he doesn't and won't go there.

So, I'm actually on TWO missions.

First: I cannot let pidgin English, aka Hawaiian Creole English die out. To that end, it must be taught or conveyed somehow, and used along with the first two languages of Hawaii - English and Hawaiian.

No, I do not speak Hawaiian. Rightly or wrongly, I see a prejudice towards non-Hawaiians like me who want to learn Hawaiian. For those of you in the larger world, yes, I am a citizen of Hawaii, but my grandparents came from elsewhere to work on the sugar plantations and settled here. "Settler" has the same ugly connotations it has elsewhere (like the Middle East) but I accept that. I am a settler.

Unlike many of my elementary school classmates, I did not go to Japanese language school. Instead, I watched my younger brother and sister after school. At the time, I was happy about that, but in retrospect, I regret it. My grandmother spoke only Japanese and broken English - pidgin English. I understood her perfectly, and she understood me. Pidgin was our common language.

Pidgin still exists in those rural areas, in local writing, and to some extent in local theater. In the decades between my public schooling, and that of my son's, some of it was even taught in schools. That has disappeared with the advent of NCLB and standards-based education. And more's the pity for it.

The celebration of May Day in elementary public schools has also disappeared for the most part. It was such a time-consuming production involving finding music and/or musicians, teaching dance, sometimes song, writing a program narration and choosing student narrators (my son did this in fifth grade!) Some programs involved music and dance from around the world, others an all-Hawaiian slate.

The disappearance of pidgin and May Day mean that we lose the "flavor" of Hawaii - what it is that makes us truly different and unique from the other 49 states.

OK, with the May Day issue, I've strayed slightly off topic.

My other mission is to see as many corners of my own island and the others as I can. For example, I've been to some parts of Wahiawa, in the mountainous middle part of the island, but not others. Our friend is now working there, which provides an excuse for a visit! Earlier last year, we had an errand in Kapolei, on the west side and also took a quick trip up the mountain to see a friend who was staying in Makakilo.

There are folks who live as much as 45 miles - one way! - from where they work. But there are others who have never left the south or east side of the island to explore the north or west.

We'll have a long weekend after the next couple of weeks, so we plan a trip up to the North Shore - for the farmers' market, for lunch and to sit by the beach.

So, join my mission: learn some words in a language other than your own, or speak or teach them.

And see the world beyond your little proscribed neighborhood and environs!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Husband Looks Like Someone Else

His name is Brooks Takenaka, and he is a marine biologist and assistant general manager of the United Fishing Agency, the fish auction in Honolulu. 6 days a week, fishermen bring their catch to the facility at Pier 38 off Nimitz Highway in Honolulu, where buyers gather and visitors gawk. I have never been able to wake up early enough to see this - the auction starts at 5:30 am!

Here's a look at Brooks.

Nice-looking man, but he does not compare to my husband, who is a lot handsomer, and has a much nicer voice!

Why do I think he looks like Brooks? I DON'T! Still, every few months, my DH will hear someone call, "Brooks." "Brooks?" "BROOKS!" He'll look around and behind himself, but the caller is looking at HIM. This happened just a few days ago, in the supermarket when he was buying papayas. I think he told the fellow he IS better looking than Brooks. (No offense, Brooks!) This has happened at the mall, and at events we've attended, so obviously other people think he looks like Brooks!

And one of his friends was at an event and was upset when he called my husband's name and the fellow didn't answer. Maybe HE was Brooks!?

Do you have a doppelganger? Tell! Another physical version of yourself, somewhere in the world. I am discounting the idea that this is an evil twin, but that there are only so many physical variations, so that there has to be some repetition out there.

Yes, I know we all like to think of ourselves as special and unique, but just as you've figured out a new hairdo, or feel comfortable in some new clothes, someone says, "You look exactly like my cousin on Maui." This from a nurse practitioner who was taking my temperature; with the thermometer in my mouth, I was helpless to reply that I don't think I have relatives on Maui or that they would also be hers! A couple of years ago, my then-doctor said I look sooo much like her best friend on the Big Island, Hawaii. Granted, folks in the health care field see a lot more faces every day then the rest of us, but still...

Since I was a preteen, I've been told there are Others in the World Who Look Like Me. Maybe someday I'll get to meet them!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey-y What's That Smell?: Part 3, Library School, What They Don't Teach You in

It was quiet in the Young Adult section.

As usual, the adults were on the Internet computers, on Facebook or watching streaming video. Which slows down the network. Then they wonder why it takes forever and a day to reset their library cards for another hour of Internet access. The System was designed to force them to take an hour break to give other users a chance. SOMEONE in Charge decided it would be a Good Idea to OVERRIDE the System.

The result? I've seen users almost come to blows over who has the right to a computer. And don't get me started on the ones who won't use the computer in Fed Docs (too noisy), the basement (ewww, creepy) or the Info Desk ("I got sick from using THOSE"). The other day at shift change, I pointed out to W, "Look! They are all KIDS using our computers!!! YAY!!!" He asked, "How'd THAT happen?" I said I chased all the adults away. Well I didn't, but I WANTED to!

Back to the topic, which is SMELLS.

And I have a very developed sense of smell, in addition to my usually excellent hearing. Usually because I do have trouble figuring out mumbling. I came home today to some sort of irritating mechanical whine and asked the DH - "Is that sound based in OUR apartment?" He said, no, then it stopped, only to restart later. GRRR!

Smells in the library range from;

  • Too much bad perfume/cologne
  • Someone's lunch or dinner they're carrying around
  • Someone's lunch or dinner they already ate
  • The great unwashed
  • Sweat
  • Mildew from clothes kept outdoors or just in a moist environment
  • Bad body odor

The worst thing I've ever smelled was a combination of the last two. And I've even smelled that combo on an acquaintance or two. Or three. I can only conclude that those people have gotten used to that smell, so that they're blissfully unaware that the rest of us want to flee the room, or, if forced to stay, desperately yearn for a gas mask.

The day before yesterday, the homeless guy who wants to read the magazines without leaving an ID or library card rushed in, bringing his mix of sweat and BO, and proceeded to turn on the fan. Which only served to disperse the aroma over the entire (small) area. He was sharing.

Rey, the security guard, told me that a patron has to complain before this guy can be escorted out.

I think everyone had a stuck nose that day.

Another thing they don't teach you in library school: it doesn't matter if behavior/condition bothers or affects the staff, the situation will not improve or change until the other library users ask for a change.

Another day, another smell...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Books about Librarians Without Degrees

I admit the idea irritates me a bit, as we in Hawaii generally need that piece of paper showing we graduated from an ALA-accredited institution in order to get a librarian job. Plus, in order to be a public school librarian in Hawaii, you also need to have a teaching degree. I've been told that in many states, an MLS - master of library science - degree is enough, OR just a teaching degree and passing a test is enough. (I'd love to know which states require what, if anyone wants to tell me!)

The first book is The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai. About a college graduate who doesn't know what she wants to do, so she becomes a children's librarian. While her discussion of age-appropriate literature for children did/does interest me, your average reader or husband will be bored. They will be even more bored by all the angst. The writing IS good when NOT focused on the angst! Still, I am puzzled at how a child could take an adult on a multi-state spree to avoid Christian gay conversion therapy.

Which, RW gleefully told me, is the Michele Bachmann family business!

The second book is Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg. So far, it is more about a college graduate who doesn't know what he wants to do - sound familiar? And decides writing obituaries is NOT a career, so he beomes a prison librarian.

Aside: on the State of Hawaii librarian application, prison is the only area I would NOT want to work in. You need to be clever to be a criminal, and in that I am sure the inmates are much smarter than I am. I feel it's harder work to run a con, cheat or steal than tell the truth and work hard. So I admit it - I'm saying I'm too stupid to commit crimes. Except they weren't smart enough to stay out of jail.

Avi happily shows us how hip he is by who he becomes buddy-buddy with in The Bay, and all that he's learned there. The writing is not bad, though self-conscious. I'm just irritated with the Golly, Look at ME, I'm a Prison Librarian, though he admits the day shift guy is a REAL librarian. It is doubtful I'll finish this book - it's too irritating.

More on the other books I'm reading to come...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eye Update: Librarian Heal Thyself

Is there any pain. No.

Swelling. No.

Redness? A tiny bit at the outer corner.

For my eye infection that's a four-letter word, I continue to put the ear drops in both eyes - a preemptive strike! Then I put a drop or two on the clean back of my hand and pick it up with half a cotton swab. I dab it on the affected area, including the waterline and both interior and exterior of the eyelid. AND the upper eyelid waterline.

When we were talking about medical insurance and HMOs, I mentioned this to Doc Jeff last night over chili con carne and red wine, he didn't blink. Whatever works!

I continue to heal myself, and hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Watch Out When the Moon is Full, or Things They Don't Teach You in Library School, Pt. 3

And some of the library patrons got wild before the moon came out.

I work the last 2 reference desk shifts of the day. The shifts are usually 9 to 11 am, 11 am to 1 pm, 1 pm to 3 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm. I usually work 1 to 3 pm in the children's section.

Children come in looking for books on Spiderman or Thomas the Train, on "making coco". Is that cooking? I asked. No, the leaves you wear on the head! I finally deduced this was haku lei - leaves and flowers woven into a decorative headband. There was exactly ONE book on native Hawaiian handicrafts in our section. Note to authors: this is a topic worth considering for a children's book with simplified instructions and clear photographs!

Their parents want books for readers in grades 1 to 2 or manuals to improve math skills; their grandparents want Dr. Seuss books.

There are also 2 computers to access the library catalog and databases, and 2 Internet access computers. Around 2 pm, a young woman I'd seen before plopped herself down at one of the Internet computers. Right after that, an older man sat at the adjacent express computer. The woman turned to him and loudly said, "You KNOW that computer is only 15 minutes!?" He answered, "I KNOW, so you DON'T have to TELL me!"

There was more to this exchange. She: "I just thought you should know." He: "Well, I DON'T!" I thought fists were gonna fly, but SHE backed down first. sigh. DRAMA!

I went over to the young adult section - which has a similar computer setup - after that, without a break. Four straight hours in a row at a reference desk can be brutal. This became evident when the woman who MUST use these particular Internet computers because Fed Docs is "too noisy", and she doesn't like any of the EIGHT computers in the lobby or the basement asked me to look for a computer for her. She's already ruled out half of them!

At just that moment, a person stood up from one of the computers. The woman who asked for a computer, and a man raced over there at the same time. She yelled, "Was he waiting for it?" I said he had spoken to me. (But then he disappeared. He was probably sitting around the corner, but that is behind a WALL, which is behind my head. He should have sat at the adjacent table, where it's obvious you're waiting for a computer, and everyone can see you. Including me.) People get wild when the things they feel they're entitled to are threatened. But why can't they use common sense and act in a civilized manner?

I blame their lack of judgment, but I have a feeling the full moon intensified things!

But that's only half the problem. These adults were 45 to 60 years old, and they are using Internet computers in the section for YOUNG ADULTS. If I were a teenager, I'd be put off by the self-centered behavior of these adults, who have the entire rest of the library at their disposal. Instead, they are exposed to the homeless with their smells and antisocial behavior, not to mention tweaking from drugs. And the seniors who inevitably need help printing their documents or formatting them. The guy who's channeling Elvis with the shades, too-tight shirts and tattooed-on sideburns (really!) I think his eyebrows are inked, too! He often prints out photos downloaded from "Cherry Blossoms"-type websites, where Asian women are looking for "friends". Some of the young women look modest, but they are not the ones he's printing! Some of the young adults are weird, too.

I'm trying not to stereotype, but above are the behaviors I encounter EVERY DAY. I was telling Rey, the security guard, about the person with the rough voice and weathered skin who "camps out" all day in the middle reader room. I feel this keeps CHILDREN from sitting there - and it is THEIR room, as is the area around the children's reference desk. Which means it and the young adult room should both be havens for them, instead of being exposed to weirdos and girlie pictures.

Rey told me he found a man sleeping on one of the children's benches with a teddy bear as a pillow. This person was caught shoplifting in Longs drugstore soon after that. He was a wanted felon. I won't even discuss the man who's been seen following little girls around the library. I don't have the stomach right now to tell you about him.

How soon is the next full moon? Not for a long, long, time, I hope!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Librarian, Heal Thyself!

I've been feeling pain below my left eye for the past couple of days.

Last night, I finally figured out it's an infection of the exterior eye. You know, the kind that's a four-letter word.

This morning, I called the ophthalmology department for an appointment, and was told that a nurse would call me within an hour. Already, that didn't sound good.

When she called, she asked me if I'd started applying hot compresses (yes, last night and this morning) and I should continue doing so as often as possible. R-i-g-h-t.

I should walk around the library and sit at the reference desk and computer with a hot towel on my eye?

Basically, she was telling me NOT to come to the clinic, they were NOT going to help me. SURPRISE! - this is a big HMO!

I relayed this to the DH over dinner (a yummy meal - see my other blog, Soos Lives to Eat and tonight's blogpost!) and I mentioned that I've also been using Secret Sauce on my lower eyelid. He calmly asked me if McDonald's knew about this alternative utilization. No, but they might like the idea, I replied.

Now, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, but it seems to be helping me:

I had eye drops from a previous prescription that I recall was for my ears. This is not as wacky as it sounds, if you look at some of your prescriptions, you'll find various formulations of the same drugs often serve different purposes. I started using the drops last night, both IN my eye, and applied to the affected area with a swab. This is a cortisone formulation, and seems to have both a palliative (pain-reducing) and swelling-lessening effect. Yes, I am healing myself!

If all I'm given is lemons, hot towels and cortisone, I'm gonna run with those, baby!

I will let you know if/when my eyelid falls off and/or I go blind.

BTW, ophthalmology is probably one of the easiest words to miss-spell, don't you think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Return of the Vomit Cougher or Bad Neighbors Redux

I must have preternaturally excellent hearing. I wrote about it, likening it to a dog's, here.

Bad Neighbor One:

For I HAVE heard, and the Vomit Cougher has returned. I first wrote about her here. It was more than a month's worth of peace, but now the 2 am calm of Honolulu is once more broken by THAT COUGH.

What am I doing awake at 2 am? It's not by design or desire. It's my bladder talking to me.

So I struggle out of a deep sleep and warm bed to the quiet of the tiled room with lots of plumbing. And hear THAT COUGH. I can't explain how disgusting THAT SOUND is. I'll try to approximate it.

UUUUU- WAH! No, it's much worse than I could ever write. And, there's more.

At 2 am in the morning, whether it's a school/work day, or not, the Vomit Cougher is TALKING. She is saying sweet nothings to her SO in a Vomit Cougher voice SO LOUD, I can clearly hear what she is saying. It's as if she were right outside my window.

I do not want to hear the nothings, much less the VOMIT COUGHING. I retreat to the dark and warmth of the bedroom, to the peace and quiet and calm.

Thankfully, I'm at work for most of the day, so I miss most of the daylight VOMIT COUGHING. Unless it's my day off. sigh.

Bad Neighbor Two:

The other day, I was eating breakfast and could hear the neighbor upstairs. I said this to the DH, who, with the table between us, could blissfully NOT hear her. She is SO loud, he finally heard her in her kitchen - on the FOURTH FLOOR - when we crossed the parking lot to leave on errands. Then he nodded as he understood what I meant earlier.


Bad Neighbor Three:

We've been out on our lanai, putting items in the storage units we purchased that the DH has put together. When the wind blows the right wrong way, the smell of cat shit and piss is overwhelming. We try not to spend much time on that end of the lanai. After the Incident, the neighbor hastily constructed a plywood barrier. Since then, no Unwelcome Messes have been discovered. The irony is that Bad Neighbor Two complains bitterly about the smells!

Bad Neighbor Four:

And I can often hear her say, "Oh, honey..." and figure out that her husband is due to hear an earful! In fact, this may be why we see him in the parking lot fixing his motorcycle almost every day - to escape from her!

There is a condo association rule that prohibits folks from car/motorbike repairs that was added some years ago when someone took to fixing not only his, but friends' bikes.

But I will let someone who has told me the sound of that motorcycle drives her crazy let him know about the rule. She is the wife of the building manager.

Possible New Bad Neighbor Five:

I hear a chicken clucking. It must be a hen, because I don't hear crowing. This sound is almost as close to my window as the Vomit Cougher. sigh.

Do you have bad neighbors? Are they worse than these? I feel your pain!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

End of June, July - what I've read/am reading

The Amazing Maurice & his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett - hilarious, insightful! Naoko by Keigo Higashino - a family is devastated by an accident, and the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride of human thoughts and emotions - I recommend it and can't wait to see the videos of this mini series. I'm No. 3 on the request list! Also recommended: the Devotion of Suspect X, also by Higashino: we know who the killer is, but there's a twist at the end!

I've just picked up The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, after putting it aside for a while. It echoes The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I haven't read this - the movie is about to come out. The themes are similar: class, gender, ghettos. Umrigar is a marvelous storyteller - read this and be transported to the privileged neighborhoods and the slums of Mumbai, feel both the sorrow and the joy of the women who live and work there.

Whatever you do, for heaven's sake - READ!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not with a bang, but a whimper

RIP: South Pacific Pipes & Cigars

DOB: c. 2002

For years, a haven for a bunch of  guys. A place where they could gather to smoke cigars and pipes and bullshit.

The cast of characters:
Owner: Gene
Silent owner: Aiko
     Dennis: everyone's uncle
     Aunty Linda: kind & generous, she often fed the "boyz"
     Ray: always with an opinion
     Pete: animals and musical instruments
The usual suspects:
     Al: a man of few words, but they were "cherce"
     Jose: how did he break TWO chairs???
     Opie: too funny
     Marv: according to Chuck F, "Marvelous" at cigars and wine
     Larry: I thought he was bald under the cap. A generous fellow
     Ted: the silent crossword/sudoku dude
     Harry: such a nice guy
     Matt: words fail me
     Hapa: a crafty trumps player and sweetheart, but his timing sucks
     Everett: wheeler/dealer
     Jack: snowbird

What do the "boyz" do next? (And this is what THEY call themselves!)

New venue for smoking cigars: the Design Center
Old alternative venue: Thirds
Final day: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, which happened to be the Summer Solstice.

They are still cleaning and painting, but the party is over.

The boyz are waiting for the rebirth of the Phoenix...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Almost over my cold/ librarian rant

Here's what's left of it: a bit of stuffiness and labored breathing. A coughing fit every afternoon between 3 to 3:30 pm is guaranteed. Yes, I'm using my inhaler more often.Still, I'm feeling better than I did 4 or 5 days ago.

To what do I attribute my recovery? I drank a gallon of orange juice in about 4 days. PLUS, I took 1000 to 1500 mg of vitamin C every day. An XS acetaminophen tab every time I had a headache. Like NOW!

It's always hard to drink enough water at work, especially when I'm at the reference desk. I take a multivitamin tab everyday. I drank tea with umeboshi (wet salted pickled plum). Or green tea with seedless ume (dried plum). When my throat hurt or I coughed too much, I sucked on a vitamin C lozenge.

I TRIED to sleep earlier and a bit more, but just found myself waking up earlier!

DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN UPDATE: It's almost 4 am, and I've been up for about an hour. I fell asleep - more like a coma! - before 8 pm. BEFORE 8 PM - a sure sign that I'm sick/exhausted. I've had almost 7 hours of sleep and don't know if I can settle back down. I woke up with a coughing fit, which is always exhausting.

The RANT: All the dehydration (DH was right, once again! He said I looked dehydrated just before I shuffled off to bed!) and stress of work yesterday caught up with me. I was tired, tired, tired. The children in the library are on the Internet computers fiddling with the settings, spoiling it for the next user - which means I had to reset them. And this is not as easy as it sounds. When I remind them not to do this, some say, "OK, yes, Aunty." Another gave an excuse. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.

Then, I told the same girls NOT TO RUN. They know better, BUT CONTINUED. Yes, I'm shouting. They persisted and I had to use my MEAN VOICE. And with the remains of this cold, it can sound a lot like the VOICE FROM THE EXORCIST. It's tiring to repeat myself and raise my voice, which is why I would be CRAP as a teacher of young children. I listen to the teachers of some of the classes that come to visit the library, and I cringe and THEY SCARE ME, they're so mean. sigh. It's tiring to type this - reliving it all again!

Parents SHOULD NOT LEAVE THEIR CHILDREN IN THE LIBRARY and expect us to babysit them! When they are in one place for HOURS - and I am talking 3 to 5!!! hours - the best-behaved children will get into trouble.

I was going to write about the kind of trouble, but I'm hoping this will not escalate.

I need another gallon of orange juice...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What do you do for a cold?

No one has yet invented a cure for the so-called common cold?

Instead of writing up a booklist, manning the reference desk and recording summer reading program logs or counting the crowd at storytime today, I called in sick.

I'm keeping my running nose, sore throat and irritating cough to myself!

The husband just returned with half a gallon of OJ and a packet of Hall's Defense Vitamin C lozenges. (Good stuff - no menthol to further irritate your throat.) Well, he had to buy milk for himself anyway, and we were running low on eggs.

There's also throat spray on the counter. I've given up on cough medicines - they don't work for me. I was so stuffed up and sinus-headache-y yesterday that I resorted to taking a Sudafed. (Isn't it insane how they make you sign your life away for 24 of these little red tablets?) And I hate the side effect of post-nasal drip!

As soon as I get off the computer, I'll swig a glass of OJ with an XS acetaminophen tab (lingering-headache-that-came-with-this-cold) and head to bed for a morning nap. Nap, even though I had EIGHT+ HOURS of sleep last night. I usually run on six. Or more frequently five!

Two days ago, I already felt under the weather, and was fighting this, so I dragged myself - and DH - to Bac Nam for Kimmy's Pork & Shrimp soup. My medicine! It made me feel better, but I didn't know I was already on the way to a full-blown cold. : ( When we got home, I made a thermosful of hot green tea for our walk, and packed some seedless li hing mui to add to it. I'll bet the saltier, more sour version would have been even better! Ume is also great in hot tea. Kathy of A Passion for Food has a Vietnamese version here.

Yes, I know chicken soup is the usual answer for a cold, but I do not feel like chicken soup. If it weren't so creamy, and if I were up to it, I'd whip up a pot of my quick laksa - fragrant and spicy soup with chicken broth, fat shrimp and coconut milk. Add cilantro and lemon, and at least, it'll alleviate the blues! In my nap, I'll dream of this!

What do you do when you're just feeling under the weather, or to feel better from a cold?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Watch out for the furry vermin - Part Two of What the Don't Tell You in Library School

When I got to the desk in the early afternoon, Rey, the security guard, told me there was a trail of droppings in the next room. As they clean the library in the morning BEFORE it opens, it meant this was FRESH!

No, they don't tell you in library school that you'll be visited often by those four-footed critters! To be fair, any public building that's at least twenty years old is bound to have this type of problem. It's just a bit disturbing to see those spring traps so close to the kiddie-size chairs and tables, even if the custodians put them out of sight before the library patrons come in.

And it's chilling to know the rodents are now brave enough to be out and about during daylight hours!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A magazine I can read

Unlike the one I received in the mail the other day - self-conscious, "lifestyle" and "hip" - this one is straightforward and unpretentious. It's called Green Magazine Hawaii, and it's full of thoughtful articles about sustainability and striving toward a socially conscious way of life, and even occasionally about sustenance and the arts. Read it online here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I've been reading - June

It's no secret that my taste in movies and books runs dark. I'm currently hooked on a series of mysteries and police procedurals - no, don't recoil in horror like one nameless librarian did! They are NOT dry, but rather - full of psychological suspense, insightful character studies, and peeks into the lifestyle of contemporary Japanese. Their's is a culture so rooted in such very different expectations - and therefore, behavior - that I am constantly surprised.

Read The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe, and this book will take you on a rollercoaster of assumption, stun you with its turns and surprise you with several twists. What a ride! READ it - I'm returning it today!

Some have compared Miyabe to Natsuo Kirino. They both write about modern life in a Japan that's unknown to most Americans. I've read all of Kirino's books that are available here in English, and I feel they are much darker than Miyabe's works, and different.

I've also read these books by Miyabe - I'm hooked! - All She's Worth, about credit card debt becoming fatal. Also Shadow Family, where the lines blur between real life and the cyber world. And Crossfire, where an otherwise ordinary woman holds the power we women ALL SECRETLY WISH WE HAD! This last book is stunning, scary and ultimately sad.

Monday, June 6, 2011

What They Don't Teach You in Library School, Part One

In a previous lifetime, in a previous blog, I had a countdown of ten things they don't teach you in library school.

Here is a brand-new one!

While the women's public restroom LOOKS OK, it is deceptive. You innocently head in there for your final pit stop before closing up your section, walking out the door, and starting the commute home. But 4 times out of five, you are hit with THE WORST SMELL YOU HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED!

You wonder to yourself: "What can that person be EATING to cause that SMELL?!"

You vow never to go in there again! However, the nearest staff restroom is down one flight of stairs, and to the back of the building.

I may have to bring my own air freshener. Or a clothespin.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chambara movies and 13 Assasins

I grew up watching what we called "chambara"  or samurai films - Japanese costume dramas with sword-fighting, usually in the Tokugawa era. Of course, the best were directed by Akira Kurosawa, and featured the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. They include Seven Samurai, which was remade as the Magnificent Seven, and Yojimbo - remade into Fistful of Dollars.

Sorry, the remakes are sadly NOT up to the originals. Please seek those out and see them, if you can.

I'm not a sentimental person, but I do miss the combination of masterful storytelling and swordplay of these Japanese films. So I had to see 13 Assassins. What did I think?

The best thing was my favorite Japanese actor - Koji Yakusho, who can play a salaryman (Shall We Dance - which was also remade, and badly!), stressed-out father (Babel) as well as a detective or ex-con. The swordplay was NOT graceful, and there was a lot of gore and technical gimmickry - even in the plot! And CGI in a chambara film???

There are too many wonderful samurai movies to name, and they are probably unavailable. We grew up watching Zatoichi - the blind masseur/swordsman and the wily Woman Gambler, just to name a few! Shintaro Katsu's brother's Lone Wolf films. Miyamoto Musashi and Chushingura, more.

Tell me what your favorite chambara films are!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Update to When Women Change

This is interesting: the weather's been unseasonably windy and cool, so I wore a thin sweater for a change. It was a vibrant fuchsia-purple. The next day, T wore a top the same color!

Coincidence? I think NOT! Especially when her everyday wardrobe is usually olive, black, gray, blue.

T is also wearing makeup more often, too. But M remains her same, sweet, un-madeup self! I even saw D with makeup one day - rather unusual.

I am NOT saying makeup is a requirement for everyone.


Monday, May 23, 2011

If I ever feel sorry for myself, I'll remember this story

There is video for this, but the sound is not the best. Read the story first, then scroll down for the video to hear Yolanda Caluya Domingo in her own words. Inspiring.

I was at Leeward Community College just yesterday, and passed the temporary site of UH West Oahu.

You don't need to know Japanese to understand this tsunami video

A friend sent this to me, and I don't usually pass these on, but this is so unforgettable.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Or is it a sea change?

He asked her why she wears men's clothes. She answered rather defensively that she didn't feel comfortable in women's clothing. It was unspoken, but I felt her disapproval of my own femininity as an almost palpable thing.

So I'm leafing through this magazine that purports to be about creativity as well as youth and sustainability and I'm confused because it just looks too slick. The reason I receive this magazine (I didn't subscribe/don't pay for it) is that I'm a member of both of the art museums in the city - that are poised to merge.

And I see her in a photo in this magazine, and she's wearing women's clothing. And that confuses me even further.

I don't judge. I DO observe and ponder. And wonder.

Has there been a paradigm shift?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One man's vision saves a town in NE Japan

Forty years ago, when they began construction, they probably called it Mayor Wamura's folly, but it saved the town of Fudai. It was his idea to build the 51-foot high floodgates that protected the town of Fudai from tsunami waves that reached 66 feet. He died in 1997, but it was his foresight that protected the town on March 11, 2011. He remembered previous devastating tsunami, and vowed that would not happen to Fudai.

Quoting from the article: At his retirement, Wamura stood before village employees to bid farewell: “Even if you encounter opposition, have conviction and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.” And they are grateful. 

Read about it here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Women Change, so does their Appearance

T had long, middle-parted hair for years, but about 3 months ago, she cut most of it off. The new 'do includes bangs and fringey side pieces. Not only that, but I could see she has new tattoos, big ones, and brightly colored. She's taken on new responsibilities, so she needed a new, assertive look. The haircut and new tats were the result.

When a classmate of ours saw us recently, she did a double take and told me, "You always wore your hair in a bun!" No, I told her it was a ponytail; I had it for seven years, and I cut it off 3 long years ago. I told her - she also has Alice-length hair - it's only hair! T said: yes, chop it off, 'cause it grows right back, besides, the weather's hot today! Still, Alice-hair classmate is young, and not open to a radical hair change.

Since the ponytail days, my hair has been down past my shoulder blades - but I didn't go back to the 'tail! - and up to my chin. It's been one length, or many.

My reality is that I've had at least 5 jobs in as many years. I admit that part of preparing to start work in a new environment for me is taking a look at what I can wear: what is practical, and what would be acceptable. But here's what I notice about the women I work with after a while:
  • They start to wear makeup - or more of it. One I worked with closely started to wear brighter colors.
  • They do their nails when they never did before. Two out of three are doing so.
  • They put on dangly earrings. I told one of my supervisors they look great on her!
Perhaps this is the "oshare" effect? The translation for that Japanese word is "stylish", but as I grew up it meant that you made the effort to dress or groom rather than not. The day you see me without makeup or nails is the one when I am merely taking a walk around my neighborhood, or just running to the supermarket for last-minute provisions! My hair is not always perfect, but I try to keep up with nails and some spackle. This is NOT for anyone else, it's for ME. 

I do admire women for whom less is fine - this shows confidence in what they basically look like. I go the extra distance, as I feel I need help in those areas. Again, I'm not high maintenance, and do not pay for more than a good haircut every few months, and a routine pedicure because my nail tech does a much better job than I would, which is worth every penny.

What about clothing? In Hawaii, we need to dress for the weather as well as the climate. It can be pouring rain in the morning, which means boots to walk down the street or across the parking lot. Then you step into an air-conditioned office that's like a meat locker by noon. So, a sweater, wrap or jacket. My coworker was wearing TWO jackets yesterday at 3 pm! But if you stepped out at noon, it would be broiling or humid, so you may even want to change and wear less! Otherwise, it is 80 degrees and 75% humidity for 300+ days of the year!

Back to change and appearance. I work in a conservative setting, so started out with neutral eyeliner, shadow and nail colors. Today, I'm wearing fuchsia on my toes and "Not A Shrinking Violet" on my fingers. And blue eyeliner. This doesn't mean I'm wearing spandex and leather. Yesterday, I wore leggings that look like denim, a burgundy knit top, suede booties and a denim jacket and colorful wrap. After seven weeks at work, I don't need to look bland and "safe". 

Do you change your look in response to changes in your life or responsibilities?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Decorated Doggie Doorbell

You read that right! I wrote about this before here. It had bunny ears for Easter, and there are now Boy's Day carp on the door, if not the dog! At least it's stopped barking!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unhappy with Unbelievable EUTF dealings

The DH made a change in the way payment to our HMO is handled, so that it's done pre-tax, and therefore, costs us less.

However, no change is painless. I had a routine diagnostic procedure in February, and kept receiving bills for this for two months. As soon as the cashier at the clinic saw this, she asked me if I usually pay $$$ for this. I replied that I only pay $$. She told me to have EUTF fax evidence of which group plan we belong to, and that we have kept up with payments. She said this in such a matter-of-fact way that it led me to believe our case was one of many she encountered.

This is simple and a no-brainer, as it's deducted from the DH's pay. I don't know how much plainer to put it than: "fax evidence of which group plan we belong to, and that we have kept up with payments", but it took TWO MONTHS to resolve this. First, the DH spoke to someone on the phone, who said he would investigate and call back. After two weeks of NO CALLBACK, DH emailed a detailed account of dealings and non-reply so far. After another couple of weeks of NON ACTION, he finally received a response TODAY. They apologized and said they had originally sent Kaiser the WRONG information on our plan, which was why we were charged for the procedure, and to ignore any statements for that charge.

Can you say UGH?

How many folks paid for procedures that are actually covered by their plans? How many were less persistent and gave up trying to straighten things out? Why must such a small change turn into such a long-running problem?

I have no answers, only questions, apparently!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When ok neighbors turn BAD, or THIS MEANS WAR

Yes, I wrote about when bad neighbors turn worse, but who thought I'd be writing THIS?

The DH overheard the noisy neighbors above us complaining about the smells from our next door neighbor. He has FIVE cats in his studio apartment. Since we rarely linger on our lanai (porch) except to put laundry in the dryer, and remove it, we don't usually experience those.

But last week, I came home, opened my lanai screen door, and saw a CAT sitting there, LOOKING at me. I LOST IT and yelled, "There's a fat CAT ASS sitting on my lanai." The DH ran out, but it was long gone. I said it would only be a matter of time before we saw cat shit out there.

Unfortunately, I was right.

Today, I came home, slid open the screen door again, and saw a honking TURD right in front of my lanai living room door.

Worse still, the DH found two more in front of the second bedroom door. 

Oh, and it gets EVEN WORSE.

One mess was DIARRHEA. The other mess, I now realize, was VOMIT. With bird bones and feathers in it.

My first reaction was to want to put this in the neighbor's mailbox, but that would have required too much contact, instead, I wiped all of this up, except the stains, put it in baggies, wrote a note with a Sharpie marker, photocopied it, and taped the entire mess to the neighbor's door. I could not even remember the neighbor's name, I was SO UPSET!!!

I have not looked for it - I'm too rattled with finding ALL OF THOSE OTHER MESSES - but there is probably CAT PISS on my lanai, also. sigh. UGH!

No more Mrs. Nice Guy, THIS MEANS WAR!

No, I tried animal repellent before, and it sickens me. Now, I'm looking for CAT TRAPS and ANTI-CAT ACIDS administered through a SUPERSOAKER pistol. And I'm usually a reasonable woman. Until and unless I find shit and vomit on MY property.

OK neighbor turned BAD neighbor keeps the cats on HIS side of the wall, they don't get hit!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday Storytime

It went well. They paid attention. I wore a hat of my own (which makes me look like one of the mushrooms in Fantasia) and went through an oversize photo book on hats - that was the theme. Miss Melissa did a clapping rhyme. Hey - it was SATURDAY, and I can barely wake up, much less WORK!

Thank goodness this is so fun it's like play! Then I changed into a beret and read Caps for Sale - also oversize. Miss M did a rhyme about 5 monkeys and an alligator (Actually TEN, but it would have taken too long!) They were still paying attention, so I read Don't Touch My Hat.

The craft was bunny visors - fun and we had a few mutants - the DH came and took photos. We had 39 folks - almost as many adults as kids, and even one of the librarians from the 3rd floor came and did the craft! 

Someone I used to work with just butt-dialed me a little while ago. She said she is back in the classroom and loving it. I had to admit to her the kids in my first class visit - 2 and 3 year-olds - were pretty irresistible. Half of them wanted to hug me as they left. Even the little boy who had Kleenex up both nostrils. I didn't think I would, but I am having so much fun being a children's librarian!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Life after the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami

In Honolulu's last remaining daily newspaper - and its name says it all - news of the aftermath of this devastating earthquake and tsunami is now relegated to page 20. To learn the real scoops, as we say here in Hawaii, I still turn to the Sendai-Honolulu Journal - the account of a local family, separated by geography and circumstance, and how they are coping in Japan and Hawaii.

But I have a new must-read, the Yamato-Damashii Diaries. Yes, you are seeing right - this is a mixed martial arts website. I know nothing about this sport, but I do know that the Inoue brothers - racquetball and martial arts experts - are from Hawaii. Enson lives in Japan, owns MMA gyms, and is now on a mission to help survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in a hands-on fashion, armed with a black Hummer and soon, a radiation suit. Ian Lind's blog is where I found out about the diaries.

Yamato-damashii means Japanese spirit, but you can extrapolate it to mean Japanese fighting spirit, which won't allow you to give up.

What do the people in evacuation centers want? Shoes or footwear - many have only the clothes they left home with - as well as cigarettes, sushi, sweets and someone who cares. MMA writer Daniel Herbertson is along for the ride, so far they have been to Taro, Rikuzentakata and Minamisanriku, and what they find is gritty, horrifying, and some of the most visceral writing about the present situation in Japan that I've encountered.

Please start reading at the beginning, and tell me what you think.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taxes filed or tax refund already spent? What I'm reading

The Emperor of All Maladies: a biography of cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  I told myself I wasn't going to read the whole thing. But I am. The writing is that good, the story is that compelling.

Cancer is something all human beings will confront, whether in ourselves or our friends or loved ones. The story of its discovery, classification and the ongoing search for cures may not seem like the basis for riveting writing, but the people are brought to life in this book: the victims, survivors, researchers and doctors.

I have to return it soon, whether I finish it or not, as I can't renew it because THIRTY-SEVEN patrons want to borrow this, and only eleven libraries chose to add it to their collections. Demand truly exceeds supply here.

I am also reading Terry Pratchett's Only You Can Save Mankind - a fun sci-fi/gamer young adult book.

For those of you with young children or grandchildren, I recommend Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen. It's about a crocodile who's raised with ducks. I'm having so much fun reading children's books - both for myself and to the children who come for class visits!         

Happy reading - too many books, too little time!

Monday, April 11, 2011

When bad neighbors turn worse

I don't remember when he moved into the building next door. I could hear his voice from my kitchen, it was that loud. His unsightly uniform included baggy shorts, tank top, visor and scraggly balding ponytail.

During daylight hours you would encounter him IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, picking up a single half inch leaf. This was bad enough if you were walking up the street, but exponentially worse if you were trying to avoid hitting him with your car. OCD, for sure.

A neighbor who was way more up with the gossip told me he kept trying to give a neighbor child candy - I'm sure to get to his mother - but was rebuffed and continued until the door was slammed into his face. They eventually moved.

Soon enough, he got into trouble with the law. He would constantly argue with his neighbors; I don't know the details. I did hear the police telling him once that the next time they were called, he'd be leaving with them - but this was an empty threat. Five-O was called at least four, maybe five times, then he was evicted.

We knew there was movement/progress when we saw a large truck with a garish sign that said "We Haul Junk" parked in their lot for several days. My dear husband says the mover must have spent his time trolling the neighborhood for trash put out onto the sidewalk. In the open truck, he viewed all kinds of flotsam and jetsam, including toys - to appeal to children and their mothers?

The ideal neighbor is not a pony-tailed unshaven creep who picks fights and comments loudly, brings to my mind all manner of unflattering and profane descriptions and clutters the neighborhood horizon with his unsightly presence and strident voice.

I had almost forgotten - there was someone I called the Vomit Cougher. She was EXACTLY the way that sounds. Not a pretty sound - it may have been a sneeze - by ANY stretch of the imagination! My world has been a lovely, peaceful place since those two moved! And you may remember my hearing is like a dog's!

While the pony-tailer was the pinnacle of bad neighborliness, there have been other such points. The people next door were an older couple. When our son was teething, they did not hesitate to call the police to tell them we were abusing him. It was obvious they were not parents, as children do cry when teething. And they teethe for years! All the police saw was a child unmarked except for tears and drool.

Another neighbor would fix his motorcycle in his parking space in the garage, all of his tools spread out, gunning his engine. He also fixed his friend's motorcycle. And his friend's friend's motorcycles. His son would ride his moped into the elevator while I was in it! When they finally moved, they made it onto the evening newscast by claiming all their presents had been stolen from under the Christmas tree. Right.

Who is the ideal neighbor? One respectful of your privacy, unobtrusive, who will graciously agree to pick up your newspaper or mail or Fedex delivery, but otherwise LEAVE YOU IN PEACE! I have two neighbors I can depend on for all those things, and I hope they feel they can call upon me for the same! Now, if only one of them can keep his cats off my lanai!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I'm back to work

As a librarian!

It's been 6 months since my last librarian gig, which was temporary, and lasted a month.

This one is temporary, too, but has the potential to go at least 2 months, maybe more, until they find a permanent librarian, and there's a chance I could interview for that slot.

They've already given me several projects to work on, and I start on the reference desk by myself.

As it is with anything, some things will be fine, others promise a steep learning curve. But that's what life is all about: challenges.

And this week, I interview for a different FT permanent public librarian position, so we'll see. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 25, 2011

!FREE films FREE!

Where does my love of movies come from?

My father would take us to the movies. Often.

I remember seeing Disney's Fantasia and the Ten Commandments as a child, as well as the re-release of Gone with the Wind.

But Dad also took us to Japanese-language films - historical costume dramas like Chushingura, or the 47 Loyal Ronin. And a very young Toshiro Mifune in a non-costume drama, Stray Dog

We would often see films on the University of Hawaii campus, in the very odd atmosphere of the lecture hall in Bilger, the chemistry building! These included the original Hunchback of Notre Dame with Lon Chaney is one, De Sica's Bicycle Thief - the Italian classic, and Satyajit Ray's The World of Apu, as well as the other two great films of that trilogy - Aparajito and The World of Apu.

Fast forward, and I remember being able to see foreign films on campus up until the early years of our marriage, and these were preceded or followed by ethnic food dinners of French food at the original Le Guignol on Kalakaua Avenue or Portuguese at Lisboa.

Do you love movies as much as I do, especially foreign films with those pesky subtitles? How about FREE foreign films? Online!

If you do, check out the 24 Iranian films available FREE through April 6th, courtesy of Here's an intro, trailer and summary about one that looks good for the entire familyAnd another that is more suited to my noir-leaning sensibilities. I missed this when it screened at the Doris Duke theater.

Even with the availability of FREE movies, I prefer to see them IRL. Where might you find me this weekend? I'll be seeing either Limitless (unbelievable premise, and Bradley Cooper is kinda cute, though I read that De Niro phoned in his performance) or the Lincoln Lawyer. No, I don't care for Matthew McConaughey, though reviews say he is good in this. I do love Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy.

Not sure dad would be up for either of these films; he'd probably rather see the Met performances of either Il Trovatore or Lucia di Lammermoor.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Already gone to the dogs

You've already met Otis and Rosie, even the doggie doorbell, but there are other neighborhood dogs we see almost every night. For lack of knowing their actual names, we have given them nicknames.

There are Mutt and Jeff, so-called because of their size disparity. They are both poi dogs - of indeterminate breeds. Mutt is tan, lanky and loping, and Jeff  may be a sixth of Mutt's size, tiny and white, his legs moving like a cartoon character's, trying to keep up. Some nights, I can't even see Jeff, as he's hidden behind Mutt and their owner!

Then there are Naughty and Nice, two golden retrievers who are more beige than golden. That said, their names give away their natures. Naughty is always muzzled, and Nice is not, but also very curious.Some nights, we call them the Good, the Bad and the... erm.

There is Unwrinkled, or you might call him Permanent Press. When I first saw him, I didn't realize he is a Sharpei, as he has very few wrinkles left. The DH tells me this happens as they age.

The cute beagle is walked by the almost-as-cute owner. Boy, was he spooked by last year's Halloween display in a nearby apartment lobby. He would NOT walk past this building! I mean the BEAGLE! If the next seasonal display features bunnies for Easter, that may cheer him up!

The new dog in the neighborhood is a black and white pit bull. But, lady, who was leading who? You have to show him just who is the Alpha Dog!

I have actually seen one CAT on a leash in my neighborhood. Not lately, so she just may have escaped!

Then, too, there is the cat lady, a story for another time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A summary of Japan's recovery efforts and information, and a Honolulu connection


I was looking for something else among my own bookmarks, when I found this link. It will take you to the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance. The Center is mandated by Congress and reports directly to the "US Pacific Command (USPACOM), which oversees US military forces and (the) US Department of Defense.

This is their mission: "Educate, train, conduct research and assist in international disaster preparedness, disaster mitigation, disaster management, disaster response, health security, humanitarian assistance and societal resiliency."

To that end, they also gather information and research situations.

Take a look.


Make that a Honolulu Magazine connection. It's been just ten days since the earthquake and tsunami. Major media is now focused on the US and allies' bombing of Libya, and Japan has been relegated to page 2. Hawaii has very long ties with Japan. My grandparents came here at the turn of the century to work on sugar plantations on the Big Island, Hawaii. They stayed, and had children (my parents) who benefited from the GI bill, got an education, went into business and helped educate us, their children. Others came to Hawaii later, whether for school or work, and stayed.

This woman is in Sendai now, taking care of her ailing mother, but she usually lives and works in Hawaii. Her husband is the publisher of the magazine, and this blog is part of that online presence. It documents the family's experiences and concerns, all the way from Sendai to Hawaii. Start at the end to read chronologically.

We are such a huge world in some ways, and so small in others. And so connected.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My hearing is like a dog's?

It never fails to surprise me that there is so much variation in perception among human beings.

The DH and I were out for a walk, and I said, "What IS that annoying beeping noise?" It sounded to me like an alarm clock going off, except it periodically stopped. The DH could not hear a thing!

As we walked, the noise grew louder. We passed several apartment buildings, then the sound grew fainter. We were more than a block away from the point where I first heard it, and it sounded like a smoke detector in a kitchen with too much frying going on. "Wow, good hearing!" said the DH.

For Hawaii, the tsunami alert meant warning sirens going off Thursday night approximately every hour starting at 10 pm. This is a wailing sound higher than a police or fire horn, and it is continuous for at least 20 or 30 seconds. The DH slept through all of them. Some time after the third one, I went to take a shower. The siren sounded, and the DH was pounding on the door. I told him to stop that, come in and please close the door. So, he finally heard the last one! I told him I'd printed out some news and emergency warning updates, so he went to read them. By the time I was out of the shower, he'd gone back to sleep.

In Hawaii, unless you live on a boat, at the beach or across from one, you are generally safe from the threat of tsunami affecting you. So those warning sirens are mostly for residents of those affected areas, and evacuation zones are clearly marked on online maps, and in our phone books.

The rest of us still hear the sirens, though. Since we live equidistant from a city park and a public high school, we get to hear sirens from both areas. The rational me says: "DH and I are fine. No worries."

The paranoid me has other ideas. At the start of this week, with the tsunami and its sad results in the recent past, I came home from a long, hot morning of errands, drank some cold water and changed into cooler clothes, but still felt exhausted. I slipped into bed for a nap, but woke with a start, as I thought I heard sirens! I went back to sleep, but woke again when I heard it again.

I now realize I was hearing someone's car engine (please fix it!) but also that there is a definite dichotomy between the logical, rational me and the actually quite paranoid me. I am in no way comparing my mental or actual state with those of the people of Japan, who are so stressed out just trying to survive. I am just saying my unconscious plays around with some wacky ways of thinking.

Homo sapiens - our perceptions and acceptance of the world vary so widely. The senses and the way we live with them and use them is so different.

I suggested that DH have his hearing tested. Or perhaps my own hearing on the higher range is more on par with a dog's!?

Wednesday, 3/23/2011 update: perhaps I need to invest in noise-blocking headphones?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunami news you may not have heard

Sorry if you are already experiencing overload. I have distant relatives in Okinawa, which I quickly learned was minimally affected by the tsunami. However, in searching for that info online, I found these:

First, via the NY Times, some unbelievable satellite photos showing before and after of several stricken areas in NE Japan. Also, the NY Times seems to have the best coverage of the earthquake and tsunami among US media sources.

Second, here is the major Japanese online news source (in English). They have breaking news and some stories are more in-depth. From this site, it appears there will be over 10,000 souls lost in the tsunami area alone. And there is the continuing threat of meltdown at several nuclear reactors. This link was passed on from a commenter to a post about the tsunami from Just Hungry - this blog's author is from Japan, so she has relatives there.

Finally, I belong to an email listserv (this one disperses information on reference services provided via email and chat to its members). Via this listserv, I read that a Japanese librarian is asking QuestionPoint, a US (paid) service that is used by many academic and public libraries, if Japanese librarians can use QP free as a means for transmittal of basic information for the duration of the emergency, as well as help his library and the one other QP user in Japan, via librarians in the US if necessary.

Yes, libraries usually provide information for people wanting their reference questions answered, but it's obvious that in Japan, they need to know the answers to more basic questions at the moment - who in their own larger communities need help, and the scope of that.

They have a website documenting libraries in the affected areas - and I admit libraries don't come to my mind immediately when a disaster occurs, even though I've been personally involved in this type of recovery. The website has been Google-translated from Japanese into English, so it's a bit wonky. This site documents what's working - or not, damage and what needs to be done at libraries in the region. What's heartbreaking is if you click on "Miyagi", the hardest hit region - much of that is unknown, including "Damage to user personnel: Unknown"

There is this Google Crisis Response website, but QP utilizes chat interaction, which could provide communication with more information possible than tweets, as well as faster than email. So, this librarian's rationale for asking QP to help is that power supply is intermittent in Japan now, and Twitter - presently the only means of communication - is insufficient. If you've ever experienced rolling blackouts - and Hawaii has when the monopoly power company here was trying to restore service after an earthquake - you might have an idea of what this librarian, his colleagues and countrymen are going through. If this can be done, what spirit of cooperation this would show!

I am continuing to hold the victims and survivors of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami in my thoughts and hopes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Not Beautiful


The film showed me things I never expected to see:

- A Barcelona with so many Chinese & African immigrants
- Javier Bardem wearing Depends
- His haircut is only a skosh better than the one he wore in "No Country for Old Men"

But was this a film worth seeing? I thought so. We are still talking about it a day later. What is it about? The DH asked me this before the film started. I said: "Sex, money, violence, you know - life. And it's ironic."

It is about all those things, plus honesty, survival, hope, trust, trying to do the right thing, and death.

Bardem plays the main character, Uxbal, who first appears to us as a shady go-between who deals with a Chinese sweatshop owner, African immigrant hawkers and pays off the police. But we learn he is also dealing with cancer, and being paid for relaying to survivors the words of their loved ones. Yes, he sees dead people. He is also trying raising his children.

Some of the film is excruciatingly slow, as the camera lingers on Bardem's nostril, or the ceiling in his bedroom. There's only one "action" scene, and it's over quickly and with a bad result for Uxbal.

See the film if you're:
- A Javier Bardem fan or
- An admirer of director Alejandro González Iñárritu. The other film of his that I've seen is "Babel" - very un-Hollywood and thought-provoking. Iñárritu is one of the triad of very talented Mexican directors. The other two are Alfonso Cuarón, director of Children of Men, and Guillermo del Toro, of the amazing and creative, Pan's Labyrinth. Or if you're
- A lover of un-Hollywood films - you know, the Hollywood ones are usually fluffy, predictable, all the characters have perfect hair and makeup, and all they need is a laugh track. So, un-Hollywood means people who look real, possibly like you and me, and the ending may not be a happy one.

Or beautiful, or Biutiful.