Olbermann and the Flood


How ironic that as I type, Keith Olbermann (msNBC’s Countdown) is addressing his frustration with the conservative opposition to health care in light of their support for mandatory property flood insurance.  I listen having just spent an hour reading and remembering the Rapid City Flood of 1972. I’d forgotten how much I remembered about that night.

Just a week before, I was wading in the Rapid Creek, where I made it only to the middle before a friend’s father had to fish me out.  The waters were already high and running strong that spring.

We were supposed to go camping at Deerfield Lake that weekend, but Mom didn’t feel well, so we postponed our trip.  I still remember my parents waking me that night to help “bail out” window wells at our base home.  They were filling so fast from the heavy rainfall…I had a hard time keeping up with the rising level, pulling water out with a kitchen sauce pan.  I was just 9 years old.

My mother told us the next morning about the flood.  My father and Cal had gone to town in Dad’s fishing boat, looking for survivors.  I remember hearing that the waters came up to the base gate, though I don’t know if that’s true.

Mom went in to help with the injured (she was an RN at the city hospital)…and eventually to help look for a friend’s new wife who had been swept away in the waters when their car was hit by the wall of water pouring down the canyon from failing dams.  Their were so many bodies, they had to be laid out in the local churches.

Children from the trailer park who had lost members of their family came to stay for a while with our neighbors on Jefferson Street.  I don’t remember how long they were there, but I remember how quiet we all were, sitting with them on the curb outside our houses. It was not a time for playing all-ye-all-ye-in-come-free.

The city was a mess for a long time…debris everywhere.  I remember that they were still finding bodies throughout the summer. All told, over 230 people died in the Rapid City Flood.  Twenty-five years later, we lost a home to the Red River Flood in Grand Forks North Dakota, again encompassed by the unexpected havoc water can play on homes and lives.  But, oh how blessed we were not to lose any lives.

So, Keith, your point is just that much more poignant tonight.  The health and lives of those we love is more precious than any property we hold.

The Essence of the Liberal Outlook


The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. – Bertrand Russell

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Picking up the Pieces


Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, recently wrote in his Change of Subject column an article titled: Sidewalk activism `strangling progessive politics’ one disillusioned employee at a time.  In the wake of my daughter’s experience with PIRG, the article was vindicating (though some of the comments not so).  Considering the magnitude of what this organization has been promising/doing to our young people over the years, it is surprising how few have gone after them with any real bite.  There is the class action suit in California…for overtime pay…but that is limited in it’s ability to help the 1000′s of young people who have been dealth their first taste of cynicism from the hand of an organization which proposes progressive and positive change.

It’s an ongoing struggle to maintain support for causes I certainly believe in (the environment, public transportation, etc.) when they are hand-to-hand with PIRG, an organization who not only physically abuses it’s employees (14 hour days without regard to weather or safety issues), but also disillusions them by forcing them to spit out a scripted sales pitch that takes no account of the circumstances of the people who are being solicited from.  These young canvas crews…mostly idealistic…would be buffeted between the shame they felt at asking too much from people who had so little…and the fear/anger they experienced when some of those people became downright aggressive in their responses to the insensitivity of the solicitations.

I am glad that Jo’s out of this.  If I had known (and we didn’t know) that taking a “fellowship” with US PIRG mean becoming a canvaser, I would have advised against it.  We’re still picking up pieces… a trip to Ohio ahead of us next month to pick up her furniture from her “first apartment” where just a few short month ago she embarked so excitedly on her “professional” career.  It’ll be longer, I think, before we manage to pick up all the pieces of her broken spirit and shattered idealism.

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Landing on the Moon and Resting on our Laurels


I always get nostalgic in the summertime.  With the anniversary of the 1st moon landing, I am pulled back to my formative years.  Beyond the general pride and excitement felt by the American citizenry, I remember coming to understand something more, when watching this (and ALL of the Apollo missions) from my classroom in a DOD school (my father was in the USAF).  America had a place in the world…as a leader in looking beyond what was known into what was possible.  I believed in that vision of a better world, as well as a better America.  I still do.

In 1969, we certainly were not without our political messes, (McCarthyism, Vietnam…), but our democratic ideals were intact as we, the people, protested and marched to change the way things were done.  Those popular ideals were entwined in the same popular media that reflected our ventures into space. Star Trek, the original airing from 1966-1969, had creators (and characters) who were altruistic in their desire to explore new ways of doing things and to promote peace among cultures.

In 1969, we were world leaders beyond our military strength.

The most disturbing part of America’s modern notion of patriotism is the tendency to focus our vision inward.  The concepts of leadership and championship have morphed from their foundations in idealism (where in that position, we would look to the interests of those whom we lead or champion) to one more solidly based in the framework of competition. We’re out to win the prize.

I’m not so naive that I don’t recognize the race for space–the cold war in general–as an early generation of this self-centered phenomenon…but I do believe we were, as a people, more innocent of our government’s machinations back then.  Now days though, we “the people” often express ideals that are jaded by a belief that we are “better” than others.  What we do is too often couched in “what’s in it for me/us.”  We are wholly convinced that we are the best, and we rest on the laurels of our past as we demand our “due”  and ignore our responsibilities to those less blessed.

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Two Weeks In…


Two weeks into summer and I’ve managed to sort, create, post, search, twitter, order, transfer, meet, review, and throw….and feel totally overwhelmed by all that I could be doing.  Par for the course, my days and nights are upside down (hence, a 2:30 a.m. post when I need to be up at 5:00 a.m.).  Tomorrow I’ll be heading with Connie K. to the flea market.  I don’t really  need more “stuff”… but it’s fun to look.  I’ll try, try, TRY to control myself.  The BIG project for the summer…that I am avoiding, as usual…to get some things onto ebay (sell, not buy).  Ah, lordy, I crave simplicity, but worry that I would be terribly bored if it were to settle upon me.  How ever will I keep up with myself?

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Virtually Attending the Whole Time…


Reposted from LibraryRemix.com

With semester exams and end-of-year details, attending this year’s Games, Learning and Society Conference (GLS 5.0) in Madision wasn’t a possibility (booooo!).  But then again, through the magic of “Twitter” I was practically there, if only wandering the halls, evesdropping on the buzz, rather than actually participating.  While I was thrilled to be part of the Educator Symposium held on Saturday (great panels), it was painful to hear all the “backchatter” and know just what a great conference I was missing. 

That said, the BACKCHATTER game was interesting, particularly in light of the Twitter Analysis for GLS09 provided by Mike Edwards, who, along with others, set up and ran the game.  Wishing I had a stronger background in stats, I am still gratified to find my other self (hattiebb) figuring “loudly” in the chatter.  Everytime someone asks me why I’ve (recently!) taken up tweeting (something many argue is nothing more than naked status posting) I have to defend the meaningful possibilities in the tool.  Twitter allows me to push content (my own and that of others) beyond my limited sphere of influence and do what library information and media specialists do…find it…share it…and, in some market it.

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On LibraryRemix, I wrote:

Piles of papers surround me…articles, ideas, thoughts I’ve collected in 12 years of professional practice.  I am beginning to realize the real beauty (for me, anyway) of the blog (and micro-blogging, such as Twitter).  There is a certain freedom in simply linking to information rather than gathering and storing it.  And search…oh how I love search!

I am not entirely sure I trust this to my personal life yet.  I know so many people who have all their photos saved on Flickr.  I’ve seen too many movies like “Mad Max,” “The Postman,” and “Waterworld” and only recently read Cormac McCarthy’s, “The Road” (I admit, these tales intrique me).  What fantasy’s of fear keep me collecting things….

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Inspiration….’nuf said.


Watch Eye of the Tiger Kids on CollegeHumor
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To close for comfort….


Originally posted on LibraryRemix.com

This case is simply too close for comfort.  Over the last week, headlines in the Daily News  have centered around a local censorship case that has become ugly enough to merit national attention.  Headlines read…Petition Started to Oppose Restricting Access to Library Books ran on SaturdayEthics Probe of Mayor, Alderman SoughtFour Tossed Off of Library Board.  The alderman in question is a teaching colleague of mine, censured for his outspoken opposition to the efforts of a local community member  to remove, from the collection, YA books that include characters who are GLBT … on the grounds that these are “pornographics” in nature.  Other local blogs (Cap City Liberty | West Bend Parents for Free Speech | Motley Cow) offer a closer look at the circumstances,while attention from the  National Coalition Against Censorship reviews the case within the context of censorship across the country. 

The case is disturbing, professionally, on many levels.  As a youth librarian, I am certainly familiar with the books in question.  Typical of good YA lit, the books offer sensitive insight to students of ALL orientations at a time when issues of sexuality and peer pressure permeate their lives.  As a parent, my heart aches for the young people caught firmly between the adults who are polarizing around the issue.  As a teacher, I am frustrated with the failure of some adults to recognize that exposure to ideas is not  teaching, but is rather an opportunity to teachan open door to the discussions that are so often lacking in the relationships between generations.

So … for Nick … because I am proud that he stood strong in defending the right of young people (and their parents) to engage with YA literature, DESPITE the fact that I KNOW he would, himself, always rather teach the classics :)    … I am posting (for the first time) a public edit of Book BBQ

The song itself, was written in 2003, by 4-year student library aide, Tyler Tomaszewski, who was a quiet presence in my library until his senior year, when he discovered that his music could be used as a voice for awareness and change.  He and other members of his regular band (Kyle and Eric) formed up as “Literatus,” to perform this song, written when I requested a “library theme song.”   I got so much more than I expected — BookBBQ — a response to a volume on banned books Tyler found in our library at Craig High School.

Here goes…

P.S. Thanks again, Tyler. You remain one of those students who shaped who I am as a teacher, today.

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A Nation of Why Not?


Royal Carribean’s most recent appeal to the comsumer asks “Do you have what it takes to be a citizen of our nation?”  Take a cruise…”join the nation of why not!”  No doubt about it…Matt’s thoughts today on the shift in our country from a society to a collection of individuals bears serious consideration.

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