Featuring cherita!

June 30, 2009


Don't you love using the instructions that come in items that have been manufactured in non-English speaking countries? I recently helped a friend put up a screen house. Some of the phrasing made it difficult to put the thing together, but, thanks to the drawings, eventually, we got it done.

Some instructions, though, you have to wonder why they're included. I consider them, "well, duh!" instructions. A perfect example came with a roll-up rubber keyboard. (A fabulous invention that I've found makes using a Asus Eee PC, with its 7" screen, a whole lot easier!)

It starts out okay,

It's nice to know that if I'm sending email in the middle of the Sahara, I'll be able to type it out. I'm kind of doubtful, though, that a WiFi connection will be made.

But then, the instructions move on to the "well, duh!" portion--the things you shouldn't do:

And, don't even think of testing or toasting your keyboard!

Please, go to the gym if you want to build your biceps!

I guess it's so obvious that you shouldn't do these things that no one bothered to proofread this section before it went to print!

June 27, 2009

Mea Culpa! and Newser

I'll be the first to admit that I'm one of those who have contributed to the death of newspapers. I haven't picked up one in years. I'm kind of torn over that, too, because I rely so heavily on old newspapers when I'm doing research for nonfiction projects. I find the loss of newspapers totally depressing when I think about not being able to read small ads, or view photos of relatively insignificant events, which would never be deemed worthy of archiving digitally. I know the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Internet Archive, is attempting to collect online resources, since it has as its stated goal, "building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form," but who is making the decisions about what should or should not be included? I guess only time will tell.

In sitting down to write, I got a little off my original topic which was Newser

I wanted to introduce you to Newser, which substitutes as a newspaper in my life. It pulls together stories from all over, many of which I never would have found without Newser. It summarizes a story and provides a link if you want to read the entire piece.

As you can imagine, Newser is full of Michael Jackson related stories today, from one explaining where the single glove prop came from, to another revealing a secret stash of over 100 songs that Jackson had recorded for his three children.

Being a curious person, I guess that despite the demise of paper newspapers, I'll always find a way to discover items of interest, especially if there are sites like Newser around.

June 26, 2009

Poetry Friday--Haiku at 3 lights gallery

Yesterday, I did a Google search on "haiku" and came up with 9.28 million results! Wow, there's a lot of interest out there! Some of the results, though, had to do with an open source operating system called Haiku. But even eliminating those results, there's much too much to wade through. So, I'm going to lead you directly to a site that presents haiku as a "gallery" experience--3 lights gallery. The haiku/senryu/tanka are simply, but elegantly, presented. You must scroll from left to right (along the bottom), but this feature enhances the gallery effect; in a gallery you generally move sideways along an exhibit rather than up and down. The poems are sometimes accompanied by art, photos, graphic design details, interviews, etc. There's an extraordinary amount of contemporary English language haiku to roam through, so take your time, savor the experience!

Here's a haiku from me that reflects the rainy world we've inhabited, here in New Hampshire, for the past two weeks. Hopefully the sun will decide to stick around for a few days!

lying on the couch
for hours after work
rain continues

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Kelly Herrold at Crossover. See you there!

June 25, 2009


I'm working on Saturday, so I'm taking today off. I had planned on doing some writing (not blog posts), but I found myself playing around on the computer. The internet is one of those proverbial two-edged swords. It's great for research, but it's also great for work avoidance! Don't believe me? Visit any of these sites:

Jackson Pollock

I Can Has Cheezburger

funny pictures of cats with captions

The Toy Zone


Well, I'd better get to work now...

June 22, 2009


I'm always interested in the the way people come up with ideas. Then, to watch them take the idea and go on to create something new is miraculous! For me, the most miraculous part is putting the butt in the seat and keeping it there to see the project through to completion!

Here's a seemingly simple idea that was taken to new heights:

June 19, 2009

Poetry Friday--Emily Dickinson

There's a new picture book about Emily Dickinson called My Uncle Emily (Philomel, 2009). (The "Uncle" appellation was a family joke according to the text.) My Uncle Emily's author is the prolific Jane Yolen who tells the story of six-year Gib. Gib is sent to school with a dead bee, and a small poem written by Emily Dickinson, his aunt. As he predicts, Gib is teased. A bully, Jonathan, calls his aunt "a peculiar old maid." Unable to resist, Gib
stopped Jonathan right there,
stepping up and hitting him for those words.

Overall, I like the book, but I wonder about its appeal to kids with its old-fashioned phrasing such as "put the lie to him," and "with great gusto." Certainly a child the age of Gib, six, would be lost, especially with the discussion of "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--." Yet, the book could be used to introduce Emily Dickinson to an older elementary school audience, and 3rd and 4th graders might have a meaningful discussion of truth telling.

The illustrations, by Nancy Carpenter, have the feel of a period etching. The abundant use of yellows and golds gives the book a light sunny feeling, as well as providing an aged glow.

As an adult reader, I appreciated the author's note, "What Is True About This Story," explaining Dickinson and elaborating on the lives of her nephew and his siblings. It saddened me to learn that Gib died at the age of eight.

To continue the introduction to Dickinson in the classroom, I'd suggest looking for Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson (Sterling, 1994) for a collection of illustrated poems. The book also includes an introduction, and definitions of words not familiar to today's children.

Here's a famous Dickinson poem, which is found in the Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson:

THERE is no frigate like a book
      To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
      Of prancing poetry.

This traverse may the poorest take
      Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
      That bears a human soul!

Carol's Corner is hosting this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

June 17, 2009

School's Out--Poor Kids...

I work in a public library, and the kids in town had a half-day today to end the school year. School is over and summer looms large!

Not two hours after school was dismissed, though, we had parents come in looking for summer reading lists for their kids. Good grief! What ever happened to the idea that summer was a long, leisurely time to enjoy being a kid?

God, knows, I'm all for reading, but can't a kid have 24 hours without being assigned a reading project?

I can only hope that some of the books on assigned summer reading lists are actually fun to read. How many books, especially those suggested by teachers and librarians, force a kid to ponder life's great questions? I had a teacher friend who used to refer to books found on recommended reading lists as "dead fill-in-the-blank" books. If it wasn't a parent dying, it was a friend, or a dog. These books make an adult verklempt, for some reason we like a good cry. But, what they do for kids? Perhaps, they lead them to think that reading is a real downer?

My advice is to let children read what they want to read this summer. At least wait until a week or two before school starts before forcing them to read something "recommended" to report on in their summer reading journal. (And, if they have trouble filling in the journal, there's a rubric they can consult...It's usually attached to the back of the list!)

June 14, 2009

Color Online

One of the nice things about the internet is that you get to connect with people and causes you would never have connected with a dozen years ago. I found a blog, Color Online, through a comment I received for a post I wrote for The Write Sisters blog about a woman named Sarah Parker Remond.

Sarah Parker was a woman of conviction and one who personally felt the sting of racial prejudice and decided to act to combat it. She is a great role model for young woman. A project of Color Online is to provide the young women of Detroit with reading material that shows them a positive image of women. To that end, Color Online invites readers to help supply the library at Alternatives for Girls with reading material.

Think of it this way, if you gave up a movie and popcorn, you could provide a book. If you cooked at home, instead of eating out and having an adult beverage with your dinner, you could provide a book. It's really not much of a sacrifice, is it? But, the right book, in the hands of the right girl, could change a life.

June 12, 2009

Poetry Friday--Braided Creek

The origins of Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press, 2003) is explained on the back cover of this slim paperback book:
Longtime friends, Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser always exchanged poems in their letter writing. After Kooser was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, Harrison found that his friend's poetry became "overwhelmingly vivid," and they began a correspondence comprised entirely of brief poems, "because that was the essence of what we wanted to say to each other."
Although not labeled as such, this could almost be considered a book of haiku and senryu. Each little poem--most are three lines long--is an observation of nature and life's simple moments. Here are a few samples:

Between the four pads
of a dog's foot,
the fragrance of grass.

I grow older.
I still like women, but mostly
I like Mexican food.

The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.

There is no assignment of authorship, so we don't know who wrote what poem, but it doesn't matter.

Find a copy of Braided Creek, then look for a friend to exchange poems with. I have a haiku friend in North Carolina and I look forward to our weekly email exchange, just, as I'm sure, Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison looked forward to each other's. (To listen to an audio conversation with the poets, click here.)

Check out this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at Critique de Mr. Chompchomp. Have a great weekend!

June 10, 2009

What's Up, Doc?

I love a day when I learn something new! Today I learned that you can change the language of your Google search to Elmer Fudd. Bring up the Google search page and to the right of the search box is "Preferences." Click on it, then, from the drop-down menu next to "Intewface Wanguage," I mean "Interface Language," pick Elmer Fudd, or French, or Klingon, or Pirate, or whatever. A word of warning, though, if you want to change it back, you better know the word for "English" in the language you have chosen!

June 8, 2009

A Little Levity Goes a Long Way!

Just wanted to share this with you. If your on-the-job Monday has been as aggravating as mine has, then you need this: The Worst Jobs in History. These jobs make mine look like a stroll through Paradise!

June 6, 2009

Will Ferrell

I was never much of a Will Ferrell fan until I saw the movie, Elf. I love that film and carve out time each December to watch it. I also love the movie soundtrack, which features Ferrell's costar, Zooey Deschanel, singing "Baby It's Cold Outside." (I love the song in spite of the fact that my daughter refers to it as the "Date Rape Song," because of the line, "Hey, what's in this drink?" But, I digress.)

A friend recently told me about Will Ferrell's association with an organization called Cancer for College, and has given me an additional reason to admire him. You can help support his cause by purchasing one of the Will Ferrell sunscreen lotions. I won't say anything other than the "art" on the labels is outstanding!

If you're good with a video camera, you may want to enter the commercial contest, too!

June 5, 2009

Poetry Friday--To a Cat

To a Cat

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.

All your wondrous wealth of hair,
          Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand's caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.

Dogs may fawn on all and some
          As they come;
You, a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.

The poem goes on, but this first part is a straight-forward tribute to my favorite animal. "Just your foot upon my hand/Softly bids it understand." Ah, lovely.

You can read the complete poem here.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is at Write Read Believe. Check out this week's entries and then go back to last week for Sara's analysis of a Wallace Stevens poem. She said, "Should we always post poems we love on Poetry Friday? Or go a little mad and share something confounding every once in a while? You know my answer." I do, and I concur, but as a whole, most children's writers are too gosh-darn nice to ruffle anyone's feathers!

June 3, 2009

Poetry Slam Slam

Today's New York Times has an article on the popularity of poetry slams. Now that the general population is taking notice, the art of the slam is going downhill, according to some. Susan B. A. Somers-Willett, author of The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race, Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America (U. of Michigan Pr., 2009) offered this, "This is something that started in Chicago as a group of oddballs who wanted to do some pretty avant-garde things, but over the years, as it entered the commercial sphere, it has gotten more and more homogenous and started catering to a demographic mainstream."

The article also discusses the disdain academics have for those who participate in slams. It sounds like snobbishness all around! Read the article here, and judge for yourself.

The author of the book pictured above, Marc Kelly Smith, is the acknowledged originator of the poetry slam and is quoted in the New York Times article. The book is published by Sourcebooks and was released in April.

June 1, 2009

It's a Happening!

Do you remember happenings from the 60s? I do, I'm old. But if you don't, here's how Wikipedia defines a "happening,"
a performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. Happenings take place anywhere, are often multi-disciplinary, often lack a narrative and frequently seek to involve the audience in some way. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation.
It seems that happenings are happening again! The video below, documents one that was initiated by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

It's nice to see people working together to create something, isn't it? Amy is a children's author, which probably goes a long way to explaining her belief that a cooperative art experience is possible!

According to Amy at whoisamy.wordpress.com, "the next big something will happen in Chicago on 9/9/09."