I am an elementary school media specialist (librarian) and a new mom. My daughters (born 12/27/2010 and 6/27/2013) are teaching me all kinds of new things every day. One thing they have taught me is that sometimes, there just isn't room for much else besides learning. If you're not sleeping, eating, talking, blogging, or whatever, it might just be because you're TOO BUSY LEARNING!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Geekiness Galore

My sister and brother-in-law came over this weekend to help us eat bratwurst and install a new operating system on my faithful old iMac. I bought my lovable beast about five years ago and was running Mac OS 10.3, and now I'm updated to Leopard, which is exciting. I'm still playing with new features (that aren't really new to anyone but me since it's not a new OS) and being all geeky with downloading drivers for all of my ancient peripherals, etc.

One thing I'm pretty excited about is the new(er) version of GarageBand. My original GarageBand did not come with pre-made broadcast loops and the ability to do geeky podcasting things with automatic volume fading and stuff, so I will probably spend countless hours on that this week.

And then, Facebook came out with this new blogging community app, so I have to play with that too, even though it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the new OS. If you're one of my friends on Facebook, go join the Library Pendragon Network on Blog Networks (and please confirm me as the author). And if you have a blog and create a network for it on Facebook, please let me know so I can join it!

Possible posts for the near future:
  • solutions for carrying a smaller wallet/pocketbook/purse/carry-on-sized piece of ridiculous luggage that you have the nerve to call a purse
  • back to work and school with a chore schedule that frees up weekends (like the upcoming tax-free shopping weekend) and doesn't make you want to die
  • more reader application

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crafty people have cool organizing stuff.

My mother-in-law is teaching me how to crochet. It's something I've always kind of wanted to do. I even tried to teach myself how as a child, but it's hard to learn the basics from books. I ended up getting frustrated and quitting.

Like many new hobbies, crochet can also tempt one to spend more money than is absolutely necessary on cool new stuff. And cool new stuff abounds in craft stores. Much of the cool stuff has the sole function of organizing the craft stuff. Nancy, my mother-in-law, took me shopping recently and bought me this cool crochet stuff organizer:

Someday, when I have more than one hook, they will all fit in here, along with the super-neat-o folding miniature scissors (which I love) and anything else I can think of. This thing rolls up and fits in my crochet bag. Fortunately, I did not need to buy a bag because I am a teacher, and canvas bags multiply like rabbits in my closet. However, had I needed a really nifty bag with specialized compartments just for crochet, the craft store would have been happy to provide it.

To my delight and probably future financial demise, WalMart also has a decent yarn and craft section full of the basics and the not-so-basics.

I know I have at least one crocheting reader. I'm looking for a good blog or two that might give tips and patterns for beginners if you have any suggestions.

And now, just because I'm so proud, here are some gratuitous crochet pictures.

This is my first completed project -- a dish cloth for which I learned at least three new stitches by reading a book:

And here are the granny squares that will eventually find themselves in a blanket, maybe for my unborn (and not-yet-conceived and not-to-be-conceived-in-the-near-future) child because it will probably take me years to finish:

I love the yarn I'm using on these. It's so soft, I want to crochet just so I can touch the yarn. (Tactile much?)

What are your favorite craft organizers? Anything you bought for your hobby because it was cool, only to discover you could have lived without it? Also, feel free to tell me how beautiful my stuff is for a beginner. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stuff Someone Should Invent to Make My Life Easier

I have great ideas (I think), but I am no developer. So, here are some freebies for any developers/inventors who might be reading. And if there are things like these out there that you readers know about, please leave me a comment, because I'm in the dark.

1. decent shopping list application: Right now, I have my shopping list in a Google spreadsheet because I can't find an application I like. It just needs to be a simple thing, but I want categories to be allowed. For example, I shop with the categories Produce, Frig/Freezer, Dry/Canned, and Other. So, really, I just need somebody to make me an application where I can make one list with four different headings. And I want a usable print option. And an iPhone app to go with it would be great. (Even though I don't have an iPhone yet, I suffer from acute iPhone envy.)

2. on-line budget tool that works right: At the moment, I am using a tweaked Excel template to keep track of my budget because I just don't like anything I've seen out there other than my custom-built thing. I did try Mint.com, but after messing with the settings for two hours and then discovering a really annoying bug that was messing all my numbers up, I quit. So, my Excel sheet works fine for now, but I can only work on it from home (unless I go try out all the many syncing tools available and get my computers synced up), and it's not available remotely.

3. inexpensive lawn sprinkler that won't break after a month: The $5 WalMart sprinkler that "waves" water back and forth is a great low-cost option, but it becomes less effective when the thing breaks and only waters about a quarter of the vegetable garden when left to its own devices. I've been looking like a moron out in the garden lately, picking up the sprinkler and aiming it where I want it to go. This method works better than leaving the sprinkler to its own devices, but saves no time, as I'm back to manual watering instead of turn-it-on-and-leave-it watering.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Have I overlooked something that would fulfill my requirements for any of these items? What inventions or applications would make you gleeful?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

DVD Catalog!

Ask and you shall receive. Sonja just did a great post on a DVD cataloging system she just started using here.

Now, I need a remote backup server or a really cheap external hard drive... I think I can go back through my Google Reader blogs and find something, but if you have any ideas, leave me a comment. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I am fodder for satire and biting social commentary.

With more and more people jumping on the productivity bandwagon -- reading all the books, magazines, and blogs, and even becoming productivity hobbyists -- it's no surprise that productivity satire is beginning to creep into the media. Tyler and I watched Chaos Theory a couple of weeks ago. He liked it, and I did too, but I'm sure I appreciated it more than he did. I had to explain that even the main character, Frank Allen (played by Ryan Reynolds), is a really really thinly-veiled David Allen character. In the movie, Frank is an "efficiency expert" who has written a wildly popular book on productivity and efficiency and travels the country giving speeches at conferences about his system and how it works. (Frank's system is basically a list-making management scheme a la Getting Things Done.) So, I thought the movie was really well done and funny in an absurd kind of way, which also caused a bit of a sheepish reaction, since I could definitely be considered a productivity/efficiency/organization geek.

While I don't think my style of organization is particularly absurd, it does come off that way to people. Last night, we were talking with some friends, and Judy (who I love dearly) commented that she wished she had more of my gift for administration and organization.

"You're a list-maker, aren't you?" she asked.

I nodded, and my husband nodded vigorously, probably mentally noting the multiple lists I have strategically placed in at least three rooms in our small house and all over my office at work.

"But," Judy continued, "when you make a list and then don't get something done on your list, do you feel like a failure?"

I paused but then nodded again ruefully, and my husband nodded vigorously, probably mentally noting the numerous occasions on which I have apologized to him for not doing things he didn't even know (or care if) I was supposed to be doing.

So, I guess one of the major pits that list-makers like me can easily fall into is irrational pressure placed on oneself with resulting unfounded and legalistic guilt.

But, like I told the group, I don't think my lists are a bad thing; they do help me work more productively and efficiently, and I'm getting better about the irrational guilt/pressure/legalism thing. That stuff happens because I'm a perfectionist, not because I'm a list-maker.

I'm going to keep on making my lists and reorganizing my closets and reading my productivity blogs, books, and magazines. I am a librarian, after all. And the nice thing about having a habit (or, gag, a hobby) that people view as absurd is that you can just laugh along with them because you know that whatever they think about it, your absurdity serves you well.

In my case, I think about how fortunate I am that my propensities and tendencies work so well for me in my chosen profession. I mean, really, could I have a job that more fully suits me? I think not. And what a blessing to have found this niche that I just knew had to be out there somewhere!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wonderful Readers

Here's another blog on reader application...

Reader #1: Jennifer

Jennifer has done some wonderful Picnik edits. She has been doing it a lot longer than I have, and her pictures are awesome. Here's my favorite:

Jennifer has an album full of Picnik editing that is fun to look at as well. She also let me know about the Picnik blog, wherein one of her friends, Katie McDonough, is featured. Both Jennifer and Katie have some cool ideas for Picnik editing.

Reader #2: Sonja

Ok, Sonja and I are twin sisters. We have a lot of the same interests and goals in life. Sonja has an awesome and inspiring blog called White Picket Fences, and today she posted an entry on her DVD organization project.

Reader #3 (not really): Moi

I get to be on here too because I've learned a lot about Picniking since my last post. Here's my favorite edited photo so far:

Here's the photo before editing:

So much better, no? You can look at a whole wedding album, most of which has been Picniked mercilessly, here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Picniking Like a Champ

Again, I am one of the last few to jump on the bandwagon here, but I've just discovered a great way to organize and edit pictures. Well, maybe more editing than organizing, but hey... If you have fun editing your pictures, you'll be more likely to organize them, right?

So, yes, Picnik is my new favorite internet toy.

In addition to doing all of the normal photo editing stuff, you can also do some neat-o fun things. Not as much as with Photoshop, I'm told, but I've never been a photo geek, so it's all new to me.

Look at us, we're thinking only of each other. Awww. This is the "focal soften" tool in Picnik.

Here's a picture highlighting Scratchy's priceless facial expression (yes, Scratchy has facial expressions) using the same tool.

This is a picture of our wedding taken by Grandpa Morgan. I love the flowers in the foreground, so I punched them up using the "focal B&W" tool.

And here are the Liknesses at the wedding, standing out from the background with the use of "effect painting."

Anyway, for some first attempts, they're not bad. You can keep up with me as I play with my photos because my Picnik account is linked to my Facebook photo albums. The pictures that I edit in Picnik can automatically replace the old ones in Facebook. Cool, huh?

So here's your part. Share with me your favorite Picnik-edited photo that you have created (ahemJenniferCookeahem). With your permission, I will post it here so that everyone can be inspired. I've seen some great work from a few people around Facebook and would love to have a collection of ideas for new Picnikers like me!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Organization Project #3: The DVD Collection

I've been working feverishly all week trying to get this project done so that I'll have something to show for it. This was one of those projects that takes two weeks and causes a mess. There were DVD cases all over the living room floor for the length of the project.

Here's the old space:

This photo was actually taken last summer. I added two more CD shelves since then, which allowed me to get all of the CDs off the floor. It's hard to see in the picture, but the DVDs are taking up the entire bottom of the TV stand as well as all the space on top of the TV and all the space one top of the TV stand.

Here is the project in progress:

Here, I am in the process of putting all of the DVDs into plastic sleeves, labeling the sleeves, and then filing the sleeves in cases. I got the idea from this guy on Flickr. His is much more involved than mine. I didn't cut the case up or anything. I just put the DVD itself in the sleeve. We decided to save the DVD cases because we sometimes sell old ones, and the stores won't take them without cases. So, 3 18-gallan tubs full of DVD cases have now found homes in my closets, but the entertainment center looks a lot better. :)

Here's the finished product:

The DVDs are all hiding down here below the stereo:

Now, you can select a box by genre (thriller/action, comedy/romantic comedy, drama/romance, or horror/sci fi) and then browse the box alphabetically:

I used Snap-N-Store CD storage boxes, which are available at Office Max and other office supply stores as well. The boxes are economical at around $6 a box, they look good, and they store flat when you're not keeping CDs or DVDs in them. One box will hold 165 CDs or DVDs in sleeves like this.

My next step is to find a good cataloging or database system with which I could search electronically within all of our movies to find the one I want. (The catch is that I don't want to do a lot of data entry, or I'd just create a database myself.) Right now, there are around 400 DVDs in the collection. If you know of a good service (preferably free) that I could use to create such a catalog, please let me know! I'm thinking with all of the great book organizing solutions available on the web, there should be something for movies too.

Happy 4th, and happy organizing!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Before there was Internet, there were ghosts in them hills.

I came home tonight after dinner with some friends to find Tyler on the deck smoking a long-awaited cigar. He told me about a ghostly-sounding creature he had been listening to in the wooded hills behind our house. We live out a little ways in the country, and we see deer and turkeys pretty regularly, and Scratchy (pictured right) has made friends with a very ugly herd of possums with whom he shares his cat food.

But this creature was no possum. Tyler described the sound it made and then told me about how the creature had come right up to the split rail fence below the deck and shrieked, and all the neighborhood dogs went nuts, and Scratchy wanted to go in the house. As a point of information, Scratchy is fierce and not easily frightened. He stares down the Doberman from up the road on a fairly regular basis.

I was a little creeped out and worried that a mountain lion might be stalking us or something. Except normally when animals stalk you, they don't shriek. So, I got on the trusty internet and found two animals that make shrieking noises and live in rural North Carolina: pumas and red foxes. And apparently, pumas don't often shriek, but female red foxes do it a lot during mating season.

So, then, I found this on YouTube, and Tyler confirmed that was the sound he heard. Scary scary. And it's back. I just went outside with him and heard it. Good thing we have Internet, or we'd be sitting by the door with a shotgun...