They say it’s your birthday

bday cardI am now officially closer to 40 than 30. I’m in my late 30s. Late 30s. Ouch.

It’s not that 40 is old. 40 is practically the new 20, isn’t that what they say? Every so often I think, “I still feel like I’m 25,” until I’m actually around 25-year-olds and I realize I am so not 25.

With my sisters all in their 40s, some of them close to 50, I know that 40 isn’t old. 50 isn’t old. Hell, 60 doesn’t sound old to me. It’s just that I can now see 40 from where I sit and I don’t know how I got here. I’m close to 40? How did I get to be close to 40? Isn’t my mom still 40?

Even though I’m still trying to accept my age, I rang in my birthday in a great way. My oldest sister was going to come visit me and we were going to go to a comedy club with two of my friends. Well, we did go to a comedy club with two of my friends, but my sister surprised me by bringing my two other sisters and my mom with her. I went to open my door expecting one sister and all of them were there.

I don’t do surprises well. Well, it’s not that I don’t do them well, but I wish I handled them in a much cooler way. I’m the one who is so charmed and overwhelmed by the surprise that I cry. I got an award from the president of the Minnesota Library Association and I cried. An ex-co-worker told me when I left that if I ever needed a reference he would tell anyone how amazing I was. I walked away so he wouldn’t see me cry. And when my sisters and mom surprised me for my birthday, I cried.

We went to the Chatterbox Pub, had pizza and beer, played games, and then we headed to the comedy club with my friends and laughed the night away. It was a pretty good way to ring in my birthday, but I’m still closer to 40 than 30. Sigh.

(Picture = a birthday card from a friend. On the inside it read: “No reason. Happy birthday!”)

Couple of reviews

I reviewed a couple of books lately, both which were a disappointment. One I can still say I liked because there were many redeeming qualities, but the other was just pure crap.

crane wifeThe Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

The Crane Wife is Patrick Ness’ return to adult fiction after writing some amazing young adult fiction I have loved.

In The Crane Wife, Ness updates the old Japanese folktale of a crane returning a favor to a helpful man. You can read a summary of the old folktale on Wikipedia, but I suggest you ignore it and dive into Ness’ novel because it is richer than the tale, even if it doesn’t completely come together.

In Ness’ version, shop owner George, an American living in London, is awoken late one evening to a strange cry coming from his garden. Upon investigating, …more

thecircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle by Dave Eggers reminds me of Albert Brooks’ 2030 – a soapbox set around flat characters.

In Eggers’ novel we follow Mae, a young, new employee at The Circle, a technology company that’s pretty much like Google, Facebook, PayPal, and Wikileaks in one. We’re told at the beginning that The Circle has actually put companies like that out of business, so think of them as even larger than Google and a permanent staple in everyday life.

At The Circle, transparency is a big deal. …more

Ebooks & more

Today was the last day of teaching my short, J term (January term) Ebook Technology course at St. Kate’s. It’s a course designed to give students a basic introduction to ebooks and ereaders in libraries and it was on Saturdays from 8am-1pm. I know. 8am. On a Saturday. And the students always made it on time. Probably because I brought those awesome pastry rings from Panera.

No, really, it was a fun course full of good students where we talked about all the issues libraries have with ebooks.

If you’re a non-library person, do you realize what libraries are dealing with, specifically when it comes to popular fiction and non-fiction?

Libraries pay way more for ebooks than you do. Sometimes 300%+ more than you do.

Or, if we don’t pay more, after the book is checked out 26 times we no longer own it.

Or, no matter how many times the book is checked out, after one year we no longer own it.

To read more about these publisher restrictions and more, this Forbes article sums is up perfectly – You’ll Need a PhD To Make Sense of the Pricing Schemes Publishers Impose on Libraries.

There are a lot of other issues we went over in my course, like what ebooks look like in school, public and academic libraries, consortial deals, alternatives from libraries, ebook and ereader statistics and future predictions, and more. My students then gave reports on items we could only touch upon, like accessibility issues, DRM, and self-published ebooks, and they did a great job.

With such a short course, everything is just a basic introduction, hopefully giving the students enough background for when they dive into a job or have a discussion about ebooks. One student questioned why this course isn’t semester-long, because there is definitely enough to talk about, many things I could never get to in such a short course, but with the rapidly changing landscape of ebooks a semester-long course would probably be outdated by the end of it.

So Ebook Technology is done (well, I still have to grade) and now I’m moving onto my next endeavor or two.

The first: I’ll be doing a There’s an App for That course in public libraries around the metro. It’s a two-hour course for public library patrons focusing on free apps for business. I’ll be doing this about ten different times in the next few months and I’m really excited to present this information to public library patrons, which is new for me.

The second: I think I may be teaching the Readers’ Advisory Services course at St. Kate’s this summer. I taught this course last year at St. Kate’s and it was so much fun. What book-loving librarian doesn’t like to talk books? I need to start reading a ton of books to figure out my booklist.

I keep saying yes to things because I just love having these experiences. Some days I’m tired; some days I question why I keep saying yes. But overall, I love learning and trying new things and these have been great experiences. Remind me I said that if I complain about being too busy.

Doctor Sleep

Doctor SleepDoctor Sleep is the sequel I never thought I wanted.

I was a teenager, somewhere around fourteen, when I read The Shining. I was on a Dean Koontz teen horror kick and I figured I better try the so-called King of horror. The Shining was way scarier than anything I read by Koontz. The idea of being snowed in and unable to leave an old, haunted, abandoned hotel, the gruesome ghosts, the topiary that moved, the dad turning against the family, all of this scared the crap out of me.

Another scary thing was the son, Danny. Danny was a five-year-old who had secret psychic powers, the shine, that made him very intriguing to the hotel’s ghosts. Through Danny is where we see the brunt of the supernatural beings and this poor little kid has to fight them and then eventually his dad.

Doctor Sleep is all about grown-up Danny, or Dan as he’s known in his thirties, and Dan’s not doing too well. A full-blown alcoholic and one step away from being homeless, Dan seems hopeless until he hits a really low point in a cocaine-induced haze. Scared with what he did, Dan moves to a different part of the country and gets help from some new friends, one of them being a 12-year-old girl, Abra, who has the same psychic powers he does, though hers are much more powerful.

But Doctor Sleep isn’t all about Dan and Abra. There’s also the True Knot, a group of traveling vampire-like gypsies who have been around for centuries feasting on the souls, or the steam, of the shining. When these gypsies set their sights on Abra, Dan once again has to fight.

This was a great sequel, but even with a spooky band of soul-sucking gypsies, Doctor Sleep is not as scary as The Shining. It’s really not scary at all. People expecting as much terror as in The Shining will not find it, but what they will find is a fabulous character-driven thriller, with a splash of the supernatural, that is really emotional and moving at times.

The moving parts come with Dan, both when he’s overcoming his alcoholism and when he’s working in hospice care. Part of Dan’s sobriety is how he channels his shine. Instead of drinking it away, Dan uses it to help comfort the dying. Some of these scenes are incredibly touching and not what I expected with a sequel to The Shining.

When it comes to horror novels, I prefer The Shining to Doctor Sleep, but Doctor Sleep has a leg up on character development and compassion where we can really see where King has grown. Some of the scariest things in life aren’t the supernatural, but are in purely human moments, like death and the way we handle relationships and problems put in our path. This is where Doctor Sleep shines and why I would recommend this book. I liked the True Knot and the clever ways Dan and Abra fight against them, but it’s not why this was so good. This was good because it was an intimate, well-developed look at Dan and who he has become.

This was the sequel I didn’t need but I’m so glad I got.

Originally reviewed at Minnesota Reads.

Girl Power playlist

Spotify is now free!

Well, Spotify was always free, but only on computers. It’s now free on mobile devices, too. No subscription required to use the apps for phones and tablets.

I’ve been making more Spotify playlists because of this, and of course I had to make a Girl Power playlist. Enjoy!

Internet creepers

I love Twitter and I mostly use it to follow librarians, teachers, authors, book people, and news organizations. I don’t use it to follow celebrities, though authors are my celebrities, but you know what I mean about celebrities. I don’t follow Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, or anyone with the name Kardashian.

But I got a little insight into the world of celebrity on Twitter this past week when Soledad O’Brien retweeted me.

Soledad O’Brien isn’t as large of a celebrity on Twitter as those previous people I mentioned, but many people would know who she is by mere mention of her name, so that’s celebrity enough for me.

I tweeted about a very cool program for girls that Soledad O’Brien is bringing to different places around the country, including Minnesota’s St. Kates. O’Brien’s program is called PowHERful Summit and this news release from St. Kates is what I tweeted.

Soledad O’Brien retweeted me. She has over 300,000 followers, and most of her followers who interacted with my tweet favorited it, retweeted it, or replied telling me how inspiring they found Soledad to be.

But there were also some internet creepers that had to chime in, and of course their rants focused on Soledad’s race and gender.

We’ve seen time and time and time again, that when people disagree with women online, they often focus on their gender and harass them.

The tweets sent to Soledad and me were not awful, but the reason they disturb me is that my tweet was simply about an empowering program. An empowering program brought about internet creepers who had to tweet nasty things about females and Soledad’s race? It makes me wonder what bad harassment Soledad gets when her tweets have any sort of opinion in them.

After receiving some nasty tweets, I tweeted:

Soledad also retweeted that and then replied to me and said:

I’m glad she can just brush it off, because I’m sure she gets way worse tweets, but the fact that she says “But that’s twitter!” is so disturbing. She’s not disturbing, but the sentiment is.

It’s one thing to disagree with someone. If the men who replied to us legitimately wanted to tell me why they disagreed with a PowHERful Summit, then that’s completely valid, but the fact that they didn’t even mention the PowHERful Summit but instantly said nasty things about Soledad’s gender and race is insane. It’s ridiculous. It’s pathetic. And, sadly, as Soledad’s response to me shows, it’s all too common.

I don’t know what I’m trying to say in this post, as you can probably tell with the rambling, but I was just disturbed to be let in on celebrity public life for a brief moment to find that there isn’t rational discourse but scared, immature, 13-year-old discourse from adults. I’ve known this for years, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

#mnlib13 conference evaluation

At October’s Minnesota Library Association Conference (#mnlib13), my presentation was titled Things in a Flash: 40 in 60 iPad Apps and Tips. The presentation consisted of 20 iPad tips, a lot of them being different changes in iOS 7, and 20 different apps.

I showed the majority of the apps in the presentation, but I made a PowerPoint just in case the wifi went down and as a handout to the attendees. You can view the presentation here.

I don’t often hear back from conferences when I do presentations, and I usually do a few presentations a year. I’m a pretty confident speaker because right after my presentations I always have people telling me how great they were and how much they learned. I’m not trying to praise myself or be overly confident, but I know one of my strong suits is giving presentations and talking to groups of people.

Today, I was happy to receive evaluations from my presentation and they were so great. Every person but one said the session was Excellent, with the one deserter saying it was Good. I’ll take majority Excellent and one Good any day!

The evaluations didn’t have names or anything identifying on them, so I have to share.

Not everyone replied to every question on the evaluation, but the replies I got were great.

What part of the session was the MOST interesting and/or most worthwhile? Why?

Whole thing! Great! Learned a ton!
all of it.
Now to use the different features related to IOS7.
Now to use the different features related to IOS7.
Wow – very interesting & fun.
new apps
iPad goddess. LeAnn is very knowledgeable & great at sharing the info. HIgh energy & task oriented, focused.
- all the apps  – excellent presentation
iPad tips – education!
Awesome!!
Apps – 2nd part. I’m a new iPad user and need help.
Great! All interesting, lots of fun!
Everything!
Everything!
Everything was great! LeAnn is a spirited and knowledgeable presenter!
Learned a few new tips about using my iPad & some new apps!
All
I enjoyed learning about different apps I was not aware of, specifically the smarboard app, and vine. It was helpful to have examples of how apps could be useful.

 

How could the presenter have increased the value of the session?

She did a great job! Very engaging.
She did a great job! Very engaging.
Not sure – she was great!
Fabulous! No improvement needed.
She was great!
She really fun presenter – would love to have heard even more [smiley face].
Not presenters fault: would have liked a different room set up. Bigger screen. Presenter sometimes talked a bit too fast but she had a lot to get through!
More Time
She did a good job in the time allowed covering the information.

 

What suggestions would you make for future programs on this subject?

Keep having program on newest technology.
More like this [smiley face]!
More time.
Advanced apps for experienced iPad users.
Do this one again next year! There are thousands of cool & new apps coming out all the time….
Bigger screen.

 

It’s nice to hear good feedback, especially on days when you’re just stuck in the office, staring at a computer screen.

Can’t wait for next year’s conference!