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By: Claudette Young
Blog: Claudsy's Blog
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, Eckhart Tolle
, taking note
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By the time the average college student makes sophomore grade, at least one thing should have been learned. No matter how tenuous one’s grasp is on reality on any given day, the world will stop for a split second as soon as a professor utters the fatal words “Take note, people!”
I don’t have a clue where the phrase began. For my purposes here, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether an individual is able to do the task.
In a world which revolves around speed, competition, and one-upsmanship, a person has to cultivate the practice of taking note. The fortunate person develops the ability early in life; hence, my reference to college sophomores and professors. Observation skills can always be used in daily life. Be honest. Without them our species would have died out long ago.
I bring up the subject because some of us stumble across oddities everyday simply by using the practice of observation.
Take last Sunday evening as an example. Sis and I were at a concert in the park. It was a lovely evening; light breeze cooling temps hovering in the low 80s, people out enjoying the camaraderie of the crowd—lawn chairs in hand—and the music.
And there, in the midst of wonderful musical notes filling the air, a mosquito landed on my forearm. I whacked the little sucker, smashed it flat, and felt vindicated, all in the space of three seconds max. I know what you’re thinking. You think all I took note of was the fact that it was a mosquito.
Wrong! I took note of the fact that it didn’t whine at me. This is something that has been “on my radar,” if you will, since we moved up to Montana. I was taught as a young person that only female mosquitos whined. They were also the only ones that supposedly drew blood from their victims. Since returning to this state last year, I’ve learned that around here, mosquitos are now different.
They weren’t like this when I lived here in the early nineties. No sirree! Always before, they whined like every other variety of ‘skeeter known to man. Not anymore.
I’d taken note last year that around here, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you hear a whine or not, the ‘skeeter will drill you for all it’s worth. Sunday night I had two of the little beasties try for the red stuff in a span of ten minutes and neither of them made a peep of sound.
Trust me; I can hear those devils in a twenty-foot radius. Nada, zip, zilch. No whine.
So, what changed? Are male mosquitos here now drilling prospective donors? Did the females finally learn that their shouts of potential ecstasy warned their perspective donors? These are the kinds of questions for which grant monies are doled out.
Remember that one-upsmanship I mentioned earlier. Well, Sis did it again. The next evening she went out to snap some sunset photos. As a photographer she’s got that camera ready at a second’s notice, and she loves doing sunsets.
As a trained observer, she takes note of things on a regular basis. Her background demanded that skill. When she finished shooting, she came back in with this little observation “Sun’s in the wrong place tonight.” She didn’t wait for any answer from me. She dropped the statement and went into her office to process photos.
Familiarity has bred acceptance into my responses ab
Lisa Spieker, a librarian at Rasmussen College, won a Pathfinder Award a couple of weeks ago for her work on the college’s Diversity Committe, and her work to educate staff and students on campus via panels and open discussions about diversity.
The local newspaper in Minnesota, where the award was presented, quoted Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Board members as saying that “Lisa sets an air and expectation of tolerance and respect from staff and students [....] (She) has created a culture where people can ask questions, respect and be respected, and learn from each other.”
Awarded in Mankato, Minnesota, the Pathfinder Awards are intended to recognise people who or organisations that “exemplify the ideas of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
I think it is important for bloggers to be aware; to ask questions, including questioning themselves. Which is why for the Liar issue, I think it is just as important to ask "what am I doing?" as to react to the specific book and publisher.
As I said in comments to my post Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover, that means thinking about books beyond "what are my friends reading," "what do I want to read next," "what does my library have," and "what have the publishers sent me." For book reviews, two things are important: knowing about the book and having access to it.
Color Online offered a tremendous list of resources for both knowing and getting in those comments and I wanted to highlight them in this post; all below are from Color Online so "I" doesn't mean me!
"1)Request your library buy it. Many will when a patron asks. I have a wonderful library system and every request has been purchased.
2)Look for dated POC on trade sites like Paperback.swap. I understand we can't buy every book we want to read. I know I can't.
3)Contact the author directly. Many will send you a copy. They don't have endless stashes but believe me they love being asked to review their books.
4)Send me a review of book by POC writer. Every month I do a drawing for a free book for reviews we publish.
5)Color Online hosts a trivia quiz. Same deal. Enter the drawing win a book. And winners pick their prizes from our Prize Bucket.
6)Book Loan Program at Color Online. For all active members at Color Online, I will loan you a book. Just pay for return shipping. I run a library with more than 3000 books. Our collection is 90% women 80% POC. "
Color Online follows this up at her website with a Challenge: Read and review POC books through the month of August. We'll have a random drawing for 3 reviewers at the end of the challenge.
Wondering what to read for the Challenge? Susan at Color Online offers this list of Great YA By or About Women of Color. When I see a list, I have to count. Of the current 47 titles, I have read ten.
I know that sometimes, when something is being spoken about in the blogosphere, people think "It's already been said; there's nothing new for me to add; I'm not going to post." Doret notes in a comment, "I've noticed many bloggers who don't review a lot of books featuring poc have decided to avoid this topic." Doret, I've noticed that, also.
I think bloggers need to speak up. Address this issue. Commit to reading and reviewing more books that feature people of color, whether it's officially (like the Challenge, above) or unofficially (like me, who tends not to be a challenge participant.) Bloggers are first and foremost readers, and readers who influence other readers; bloggers talking about books that feature people of color is a powerful message to send to publishers and authors.
Action is what is important at this point; and for bloggers, action is reading and reviewing.
Enough of that; I have books to read (a Nikki and Deja book) and reviews to write (Riot by Walter Dean Myers).
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
This episode of Just One More Book! is part of our showcase coverage of the International Reading Association’s 52nd annual conference.
Mark speaks with Timothy Shanahan, President of the International Reading Association and Professor of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, about literacy in life and the role of children’s books in building literacy skills.
Participate in the conversation by leaving a comment on this interview, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
, Timothy ShanahanIRA2007
, Timothy Shanahan
OMG, I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is better than oatmeal.
This is better than an armful of library books.
This is better than finishing a draft.
My Beloved Husband and I are going to make a difference.
We've joined the Team in Training, a kick-butt group that raises money for cancer research for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. BH and I will be running the Lake Placid Half Marathon (yep, 13.1 glorious miles) on June 15, 2008. We are trying to raise $5000 in support of this run.
Why should you give a hoot about this? Because we need your help.
Please go to the Laurie Halse Anderson Team Website and make a donation there.
If you want to support the guy-side of this effort, go to BH's site and give money there..
Between the two of us, we're trying to raise $5,000. If you help, we can achieve the goal.
After you donate (and I thank you loudly), please ask someone else to help. TEACHERS - this is a great classroom project - a way to show how adults incorporate physical fitness in their lives as well as a chance for your students to give back. LIBRARIANS - ditto. What about your book club? Your critique group? Your kidlit buddies who get together for drinks on Friday nights? If everybody tosses a couple of dollars into the pot, we can change lives and change the world.
What? You still have questions? Let them fly.
Hey, Writerlady! I thought you were really busy with writing. How are you going to make time for this, too?
We already run four times a week. Last month I did two 10-milers, so covering the distances won't be a problem (though it won't be pretty, either). It won't take any extra time and I promise the new books will be done on schedule.
But, wait. You've had melanoma. Your mom, aunt, and cousin had breast cancer. Why aren't you raising money for those cancers?
Because another cousin of mine, Darcy Skinner, is fighting non-Hodgkins lymphoma today and I want to help him.
Are you going to send me annoying emails about this?
If I have corresponded with you by email, then yes. So why not give a little right now and save yourself the trouble? If you are a new friend, or someone I only know through KW or SCBWI, you won't be getting an email. It would be unethical to use the private contact information from those groups for this. So I hope you read my blog and will take it from there.
OK, OK, my wallet is open and I'm making a donation. What else can I do to help?
Spread the word. Feel free to post about this on your blog, to email friends, to bring it up at faculty meetings and at the coffee pot.
Any other questions?
Thank you so much!!!
I'm emerging briefly from the Cave of Revision (where I had a very nice epiphany yesterday, thank you, and now I'm pretty sure I know how to fix the part that wasn't working in this story) to check the calendar.
Note: there is a chance to win free books ahead, including a collectible first edition. Keep reading!
Gasp. We only have 61 days until the half-marathon in Lake Placid.
::reaches for running shoes::
::slaps self and points to massive manuscript and mountain of notes::
Truth be told I ran yesterday, so today is a cross-training day (w00t). So far this year, I've done pretty good sticking to my goal of running 20 miles a week. As of yesterday, when I staggered up the driveway, I have run 303 miles since January 1st. The snow is finally gone up here on the tundra, so I've abandoned the treadmill in favor of hilly country roads well-stocked with rotting roadkill.
New readers of the blog might be wondering why on earth I'm doing all this running. My husband and I have vowed to raise $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training fund. The money goes for research into the causes of and treatments for blood cancers, which kills an American every ten minutes. My cousin is fighting this disease right now so it is a cause that means a great deal to our family.
Note: You're almost to the part where you get to win the free stuff! Keep reading!
Because I know a million, bazillion people, I was able to meet my fundraising goal last month. My studly, adorable, patient, quick-witted husband (yeah, that's him in the photo) is not far behind, but he could use a little help. He is 60% of the way to his goal. All he needs is another $1,000. But he needs it soon. (Photo by Sonya Sones, BTW.)
Here's where the bribery begins... I mean, here's the free stuff!!!!
If you donate $50 toward Scot's goal, I will send you a free audiobook of TWISTED (seen here hanging out with the revisions of my WIP).
If you donate $100, I'll send the audiobook and a special surprise.
If you donate $500, I will send you a very rare, first edition, first printing copy of SPEAK. No one had high hopes for the book when it was published, so the first print run was limited. Here is your chance to snag a collectible.
Or you can donate what you can afford and receive our everlasting gratitude and a really good feeling in your heart. Come on. You're about to get a check from the government. Here's a way to put it to good use.
Please help us. It's for a good cause.
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, Current Events
, World History
, Barack Obama
, Harm de Blij
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Harm de Blij is the John A. Hannah Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. The author of more than 30 books he is an honorary life member of the National Geographic Society and was for seven years the Geography Editor on ABC’s Good Morning America. His most recent book, The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization’s Rough Landscape, he reveals the rugged contours of our world that keep all but 3% of “mobals” stationary in the country where they were born. He argues that where we start our journey has much to do with our destiny, and thus with our chances of overcoming obstacles in our way. In the post below, written for National Geography Awareness Week, Blij looks at America’s geographic illiteracy.
The election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States revealed once again that American society is capable of revolutionary self-correction. The state survived a Civil War that brought an end to human-rights violations of the most dreadful kind. The Civil Rights Movement, a century later, completed a long-dormant cycle of American transformation on the basis of a Constitution whose terms, as Presidents Kennedy and Johnson proclaimed, had not yet been met. And now, two generations on, the unimaginable has happened. My mail from all over the world over the past several days has one common theme, amazement – and a second thread, admiration. People who usually went to bed before the polls closed in their own countries’ elections stayed up all night to watch the drama unfold in America. November 4, 2008 was Global Awareness Day – global awareness of America and its continuing importance to the future of this planet.
But from the American side, the two-year-long preoccupation with electoral politics took its toll on U.S. awareness of the world, and revealed some geographic illiteracy among the candidates that gave cause for concern. Even those news media still committed to some global perspective shrank their international coverage in the face of the demand for, as CNN put it, “all politics all the time.” And it was not just a matter of diminished attention to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other headline topics. Right next door to us, Mexico is becoming the Colombia of Middle America, but the drama – and it will have huge repercussions in the years ahead – barely makes it into print. In our hemisphere, enormous changes are occurring in Brazil, with China strongly in the picture, but the geography of this emerging superpower hardly makes the headlines. Even Russia’s growing belligerence (how soon Moscow’s portentous actions toward Georgia faded from view) only made the news when its president failed to congratulate president-elect Obama on his victory and used his acknowledgment of the event to threaten missile emplacement in Kaliningrad. Let us hope that National Geography Awareness Week 2008 will mark a renewal of attention to global concerns.
On the matter of geographic literacy, it was disturbing to hear one presidential candidate refer to the Iraq-Afghanistan border and another suggest that you can see Russia from Alaska (to be sure, there are places where you can, but not as her assertion intended). Anyone running for the highest or the second-highest office of the United States ought to know what NAFTA means and realize that Africa is not a country. As to Kaliningrad, let’s not even go there.
So long as we have national leaders (as has recently been the case) who are not adequately versed in the environmental and cultural geographies of the places with whose peoples they will have to interact, and which they seek to change through American intervention, we need to enhance public education in geography. Whether the world likes it or not, the United States still is the indispensable state of the twenty-first century, capable of influencing nations and peoples, lives and livelihoods from pole to pole. That power confers on Americans a responsibility to learn as much as they can about those nations and livelihoods, and for this there is no more effective vehicle than geography. It is a matter worth contemplating during National Geography Awareness Week.
Blog: Librarian Activist
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