Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blue Highways


Sometimes you need to get away. Sometimes you need to get away even though you just got back from two weeks in Utah. Sometimes your son in getting married in six days and you need to get away.

So I'm getting away. Every day. In Blue Highways.

I came across a copy of Blue Highways in the Travel Narrative Bookbox that arrived this week. I read Blue Highways when it first came out and I loved it so much that I've always considered it one of my favorite reads. Had to give it one of my rare rereads.

Blue highways are those roads on maps that come from nowhere and lead to nowhere. Back when this book was lived, the roads were often unpaved. (Would there be many unpaved roads in America, anymore?) William Least Heat Moon learns, in rapid succession, that his job is ending and his wife is leaving him. His response is to take out on the road.

He talks to people about change and meaning and nature and life. He meets some brilliant people and he meets some scary people. But it's a great journey.

I can't wait to get back on the road with this man.

A few quotes: "It's a contention of (my dad's)---believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he's going to get---that a man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him."

"Helen Keller...said life is a daring adventure or it is nothing. Adventure---an advent. But no coming without a going. Death and rebirth. Antithetical notions lying next to each other, as on a globe the three-hundred-sixtieth degree does to the first. Past and future."

"My rambling metaphysics was getting caught in the trap of reducing experience to coherence and meaning, letting the perplexity of things disrupt the joy in their mystery. To insist that diligent thought would bring an understanding of change was to limit life to the comprehensible."

And, finally, a conversation:
"'Your little spree sounds nice until you go back.'
'Don't have to go back who I was.'
'Can you get out of it?'
'I'll find out. Maybe experience is like a globe---you can't go the wrong way if you travel far enough.'
'You'll end up where you started.'
'I'm working on who. Where can take care of himself....'"



He fixes up an old van and decides to travel through America, stopping in cafes (calendar count is important in cafe quality). I'm only halfway through the book and I've been reading it all week.

I'm in no hurry to finish it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

50 Books for Our Times



Since:

(1) I have chosen to take on the burden of my grandpap's legacy (aka, reading widely and intensely and frequently in order to keep our country up in the air with the rest of the balls) and

(2) I love lists and

(3) I love challenges...


I was intrigued by 50 Books for Our Times put out by Newsweek this week.

I've read ten of the books: Underground, Gilead, Things Fall Apart, Random Family, The Looming Tower, Why Androids Dream, The Dark is Rising, Year of Wonders, Elegance of the Hedgehog, and Good Man is Hard to Find. All were nines or tens on my rating scale except Underground (which I read in the middle of the night during a readathon...maybe not the best time to read a book like Underground).

My Friend Amy has created a great challenge, perfect for our Web 2.0 world. She has invited fifty bloggers to each choose one of the titles, read it, and report back to the group on its merits.

I picked The Looming Tower, but I hope to read several that sound promising: Night Draws Near, The Big Switch, Predictably Irrational, Among the Thugs, Disrupting Class, and City: Rediscovering the Center.

I have requested some from the library. I think these could fit in nicely with this theme: The Lonely American, The End of Poverty, Dreams and Shadows, Prisoner of the State, Strength in What Remains, A Meaningful Life, Play, and Worldchanging.

I wonder if others have read books that they feel should have been on this list....

I'm hoping this new challenge won't conflict too much with my personal happiness project. Surely some of these books will inspire optimism as well as revealing truth.

I'll report back as I complete these.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bookr (Again!) I Love This!

Thing #11 1/2: Evaluation

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I liked each one equally. I haven't tried Skype as I have no one to call! (That seems to be the heart of all the tools of Web 2.0....It seems important to have friends to help you along through these.)

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I'm feeling more and more comfortable with this new virtual world. I am so happy to have joined the blogging world; it has opened up so many book people to me! I will continue to try out these new tools at my library blog, www.weereaders.blogspot.com next year.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I never thought about trying a PowerPoint with my guys. And I just assumed that Second Life was a fun program, but outside the parameters of library people. I love the feeling of using Web 2.0 tools in new ways. It makes me feel very creative.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Some links are dead. I originally started sharing the dead links with Vaughn, but I got overwhelmed with life and couldn't post much when I was out of state. I wish 11 1/2 had more encouragement of interacting as a group. Last summer, doing 23, I visited other blogs on a regular basis. I would like to do that here, too, as part of the program. We librarians get lost in our own little worlds and it feels great to share and borrow.

Thing #11: Digital Citizenship

Being a good citizen is at the heart of most of what I do in the library. I'm hoping to promote the creation of good people. Digital citizenship seems important.

I can see a need to encourage children to look carefully at information, wherever it is obtained. The first time this hit home with me was in an upper level history class in college. We were asked to read a book about a key figure in the Cold War era of America. The key figure was depicted as manipulative and cruel. Part of our assignment was, after reading the book, to look up information about the author. Very revealing. The author, it seems, is a Socialist who was harmed during the Cold War!

So, all sources of information---newspapers, books, encyclopedias, the Net---all should be carefully examined for truth and bias.

I will think out what possible lessons I could use with my bambinos on digital citizenship.

Thing #10: Second Life

Okay, I made an avatar named debnance Qarnac (if you want to befriend me) and I ended up in New Spain. (I'm trying to learn Spanish, so this seemed like a good idea.) There were three people walking around New Spain and they all started talking to me in Spanish. (They probably knew I was a newbie from my fumbling attempts to reply to them.)

I couldn't figure out where to go (it looked like I was on a boardwalk with big billboards) so I teleported to what appeared to be a bookstore. I never found the bookstore, but ended up walking around a beach where I was encouraged to try to make a sandcastle. I was out of my element, so I clicked out for now.

I would love to find a library and a guide. I have the feeling my friend K knows about SL. I will check it out!

Thing #9: Slideshare

I've never made a PowerPoint for school.

I'm thinking hard about this, but it seems to be true. Why?

I could see lots of ways to use these in the library. I just need to make a simple one that my kids could read and enjoy.

I didn't see many PowerPoints at Slideshare for little guys like the kids at my school. In fact, I didn't see any. Does that mean it's impossible? No, it seems like it would work well.

I need to give it a try. This summer, maybe?