Assembling Your Childhood or Lego’s Don’t Explode

Wolverine Lego character
Wolverine on my desk!

I am blessed, with joy and fun, to have two sons. This allowed me to buy Lego’s for every Christmas and birthday for years (and still does!) I looked forward to the Lego Movie, but found angst amidst my glee.

Oh, sons o’ mine, what kind of world am I leaving you? Everybody is so mad.

Twitter snarks about pink eye and scraggly beards; are we really so mean?

Can we recognize goodness anymore? What is real? Lego’s don’t explode!

I am channeling Liam Neeson’s Good – Cop Bad Cop from the Lego Movie. I am the good parent – bad parent. No wonder we are all confused. Growing up we told you do the right thing, take the hard classes, be a team player, finish those projects, follow the instructions.

Now, we we want you to be creative, follow your dream, be your own man, be your own Master Builder.

As reviewer Abbie Bernstein says, Holy Confusion, or Holy, Mixed Metaphors, Batman!

“THE LEGO MOVIE philosophically breaks apart due to unbalanced construction.”

Many reviewers wrote of the movie as a metaphor for life. The Lego Movie is:

“weirdly philosophical” John Serba

an educational metaphor Sam LeDeaux

Binding “The Lego Movie” together is a “Matrix”-like conceit that turns the whole thing into an allegory about the nature of creativity and the meaning of amusement. A.O. Scott

“the deeper message of thinking outside the instructions handed to you by life” Robert Ham

Which leads me to try to understand just what it is about the metaphors  we use to make sense of our lives.  Baseball metaphors speak to me.  I use library and librarian metaphors as often as I can.   Metaphor dictionaries are very fun to peruse.

Dictionary of Metaphorical Quotations

If Lego building is a metaphor for life, I will have to pick up the new book by Jennifer Senior, All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of  Modern Parenthood and see in the index where she talks about Lego’s. I reject her premise.

Maybe Full of sly humor, The LEGO Movie is a must-watch for all LEGO fans – especially adults [Review] by The Brothers Brick -we should just be fans.

Fundamentally, The LEGO Movie is a movie for LEGO fans and about LEGO fans.

‘The LEGO Movie’ Is An Amazing Critique Of American Mass Culture Alyssa Rosenberg

In The LEGO Movie, when creativity is available to everyone, the things they create turn pleasure and joy into a kind of infinitely renewable resource.

Children – humans – are an infinitely renewable resource. I am a fan of Lego’s and of  my sons,  who continually add joy and fun to my life. We are all Liam Neeson, beware the abyss of no return and remember that sometimes the piece of resistance is really all about putting a cap on it!

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Until it is written!

February 7  from Poem-A-Day at Poets.org

and everyone knows that nothing is really real
until it is written.

Onomatomania

by Thomas Lux

the word for the inability to find the right word,
leads me to self-diagnose: onomatomaniac. It’s not
the 20 volume OED, I need,
nor Dr. Roget’s book, which offers
equals only, never discovery.
I accept the fallibility of language,
its spastic elasticity,
its jake-leg, as well as prima ballerina, dances.
I accept that language
can be manipulated towards deceit
(ex.: The Mahatmapropaganda, i.e., Goebbels);
I accept, and mourn, though not a lot,
the loss of the dash/semi-colon pair.
It’s the sound of a pause unlike no other pause.
And when the words are tedious
and tedious also their order—sew me up
in a rug and toss me in the sea!
Language is dying, the novel is dying, poetry
is a corpse colder than the Ice Man,
they’ve all been dying for thousands of years,
yet people still write, people still read,
and everyone knows that nothing is really real
until it is written.
Until it is written!
Even those who cannot read
know that.

Medley: Inspiration

From time to time I may just ruminate random thoughts, readings and things that don’t blog long. We’ll call this – medley.

This made me laugh out loud at work! ‘Numpty’ voted nation’s best word

This “Frozen” month two colleagues left our workplace. These were people that were always a positive part of any day I was lucky enough to interact with them. I miss them already, but wish them well in their transitions – their “fertile chaos of the neutral zone” from Making Sense of Those Pesky Life Transitions

I’m preparing a lecture on Big Data and looking at it from a Digital Humanities perspective. New (to me) is this nonfiction read Raw Data is an Oxymoron, edited by Lisa Getilman

Book Cover
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/30/264525472/historical-trauma-makes-for-thrilling-fiction-in-officer-and-a-spy

 

My latest – couldn’t put it down – historical fiction read recommendation:
An Officer and the Spy by Robert Harris

I know way too little about this period in history.

 

 

 

While thinking more about the e-reading experience; I am sad not to get an author’s signature on Bruce Rosenstein‘s new book Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way, and very sad not to be able to pass along my now read e-copy of An Officer and the Spy.

E.L. Doctorow says “reading is the most interactive experience imaginable” from E.L.Doctorow: The American author on his novel Andrew’s Brain, mysteries of the mind and why ebooks are no match for the real deal from an Interview by David Wolf  in The Observer, Saturday 18 January 2014

As we “lurch into digital reading” do your brain a favor:
The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens. E-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as such technologies improve, but research suggests that reading on paper still boasts unique advantages
Apr 11, 2013 |By Ferris Jabr

Always, always poetry inspires and saves as “poems find us.”
Thoughts on Poetry in Winter by Carolyn Foster Segal

That is the secret of poetry’s fresh (psychic) news: quite simply and quite complexly, poems find us, and then they encourage us, as Jorie Graham says in “Afterwards,” to “begin with the world.”

 

 
















Writer’s block?

It’s been too long since I have written a blog post. I can blame the cold, cold winter (yeast won’t rise and Polar Vortex, you know?) I can blame getting a new computer (and what is up with Windows 8? Do they not realize that families share a computer workstation? It is oh, too personal!) I can blame disenchantment with my daily job – enough said! I have been thinking and reading about writing , all the while wishing I was a better writer.

Ice picture
http://www.strangedangers.com/content/item/181899.html

An article that has stayed with me poses that we should move from  “writer based-prose”  to “reader based prose.” Who Are You Writing For? by Ann Bauer (January 17, 2004). Obviously, I’m not there yet. But this advice I am practicing:

My goal was to help my students build a framework for what their readers needed to understand. I taught them to think like strangers to their own lives and relate back story or evidence in a compelling, relevant way. I asked each of them to consider why the reader should care about their writing—what the average person could take, and use, from their work. Why, I challenged them, was their story worth telling?

Then I turned that question around and asked myself.

“Think like strangers to their own lives”;  it gives perspective, if not yet wisdom.

How do we teach engagement and inspiration and ah-ha moments? In our writing, our teaching, our daily living?  John Warner’s post (January 28, 2014)  It’s Impossible to Teach What I Want My students to Learn reminds us that  if we are lucky, we can remember moments when we were struck, by beauty, words, ideas …even theorems, proofs and beautiful physics diagrams.

You have to trust that you are in a place where you can make that possible for the students, colleagues, and loved ones in your life.

Note: to John Warner, I use Twitter as a memory aid to keep all the articles I want to think about and re-read (and maybe someday write about!)

“Research depends on it”

data information literacy
Data Information Literacy https://www.facebook.com/datainfolit

Thanks, Dr. Karen Plaut for the most memorable line from Day 1 of the Data Information Literacy Symposium. Her quote (see title!) is in reply to the question “Why do I care about data information literacy?” Dr. Plaut also mentioned that the vast majority of data – from sensors, from satellites,  from bioinformatics – is going unused. And, how many data files are lost on hard drives from  mis-naming and file iterations? Dr. Plaut wondered if this data will become the record of the human race in the future? We can’t even imagine the uses and re-uses that future historians and researchers may investigate using the data generated today.

I’m reading this tonight: New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries

I will spend time with this web site: Planning a Data Management Curriculum and Requirements for a Collaborative Repository

OK – I will need lots of time…see all DIL Links

Notes from Day 1

And I’ll sleep on the bigger questions in hopes that – collectively – we will find answers tomorrow at Day 2!

Faith

“The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Toby Ziegler West Wing Fourth season “Evidence of Things Not Seen”

This is my favorite definition of faith. In this very chaotic first week of the semester that has seen too many managing challenges and not enough reference questions – I search for meaning in this job. I need to have faith.

http://latino-leadership.org/jobs/
http://latino-leadership.org/jobs/

Kevin Brown of Lee University is helping me today. I need to have faith that I am doing good work in the lives of the people I work with, teach and help.

However, when I walk into a class full of students whose future I will probably never know, I do so with the faith that something I say or something one of them says will have an effect on at least one student. I believe that students listen to what we say, that they care what we say, that their lives will be better for having taken that class.  In the same way that the craftsmen never saw the finished cathedral, I have no proof of this, of course, but I believe it to be true.  Perhaps one day, someone will see that former student in the same way I saw Wells Cathedral and know that at least one person had the faith to do good work in that student’s life.

Go do good work!

Life’s punches

pure_bag_inflatable_punching_bag

Roll with the punches, my Dad always said. We would laugh.  Dad’s always say funny stuff over and over and over again. Now I begin to understand my Dad was saying it to himself, as much as to us. Remember that life punches you down, and punches you again and continues to punch away. You can be knocked down and never get up …or you can remind yourself to roll with the punches. What else is there?

I think it is easier to get up again and again if you have a support system and good balance in your life. In today’s world of far flung family and hectic lifestyles; far too many hours of networked work life and not enough real face time;  I find myself with not much daily support and little to balance work going badly.

Since 2008, I have tried very hard to sustain myself with the written word in many forms. Books, books and more books offer comfort and hope and inspiration. I am not alone when I am with books. Poetry speaks in the absence of loved ones – to bolster, to commiserate, to decode in the face of life’s punches. But, it is when I put pen to paper literally and write a letter or card to a friend that I am most comforted.

Books and words are life’s necessity, I learned this from my Mom; acts of kindness and generosity, my father taught me, this will sustain my soul. Watch out, you may be getting something in the mail from me soon!

This week’s book: Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara

This week’s column: Joel Stein,I Will Now Answer All Your E-Mail

This week’s poem:  A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

“The above poem was first published in the Knickerbocker Magazine in October 1838. It also appeared in Longfellow’s first published collection Voices in the Night. It can be found, for example, in: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1893.”

Change and serendipity

boxes

I realized this week that I want no part of this change that I have been managing for more than a year. I have been preaching to my staff that closing a library is bad and sad, but maybe also a time for opportunity and growth. “You will be OK!” , that is what I have told my staff. It dawned on me that I am not OK – or anywhere near OK -  with this change.

Then, as often happens, I calm down. Or, better yet, I read something that speaks to me as I did this morning.

Haystacks vs. Algorithms: Is Scanning the Stacks for [Pretty] Books Really the Best Research Strategy? by Brian Mathews (June 25, 2013)

Libraries everywhere are in a constant state of change these days. I am caught up in this chaos. We are closing/moving a branch library. Decisions on collections, services and staff are just the tip of this event that seems never ending – but, I know it will end (maybe late this summer) and we will all have to settle into new roles and places. I can’t picture a place for myself in this maelstrom, but maybe it is yet for me to discover. I should trust in…serendipity.

During this time, I have come to know some new library users – adult learners who have come back to school. These are learners that have found our branch library a good place for group study and technology resources and assistance.  They work pretty independently and have told me that they appreciate my staff and this library space. I am sad to tell them we are closing, but it has forced them to seek other resources on campus. While these users currently use us for group and quiet study – they have found the 24 hour technology labs and a study room at our main library.

I am watching their learning journey – they have “adventured” past their comfort zones in just a few short months and I can learn from them.

Thanks to Brian Mathews for reminding me …”Serendipity is a state of mind.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year-end review OR twice in two days…

As we wrap up this academic year, I am evaluating this academic year by ideas, not by closing a library. My choice! It’s been a tough year…but the ideas survive and nourish a tired brain.

One of the biggest trends this year has been “big data.” If you haven’t had time to think about this yet – what it is, what this means for science librarians or why libraries should pay attention – this is a good beginning article.

Data Science, Machine Learning, and Statistics: what is in a name?

The University of Virginia has an interesting site all about data and researchers and their university. A model for universities? Maybe. If nothing else, use this a good model for citing data practices.

University of Virginia data management consulting group – citing data

Data visualization is another big topic in libraries and research. Good visualization is not new. Twice in two days I ran across reference to my favorite visualization – Charles Joseph Minard’s famous graph showing the decreasing size of Napoleon’s Grande Armée as it marches to Moscow; a classic in data visualization.

Charles Joseph Minard
Charles Joseph Minard (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Good visualization tells a story, clearly, forever!

Stephen Hawking’s advice for twenty-first century grads: Embrace complexity

Service Design (Slideshare) – Slide 119

I have been trend-doing all this academic year. Read more about it in this informal report.

How does your academic year measure up?