Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘creativity

The Hermit, from the Marseilles Tarot.

I chose to illustrate this post with The Hermit, which is a card I often identify with.

I received a nice deck of Marseilles Tarot cards as a holiday present from The Better Half. I will start by saying that I do collect card decks, mostly playing cards, and I collect them mainly for the art.  I have playing card decks with themes such as Star Wars, Hot Wheels, a replica deck of those “wanted” poster cards that soldiers got during the Iraq War, and a few others. I also collect other decks; in fact, this Marseilles deck is my second tarot deck. Anyhow, I was drawn a bit more to the world of Tarot after a presentation by a Tarot card reader, Charla, a spiritual advisor, at my local public library. I am intrigued by the possibility of using the cards and maybe learning about their lore as well as learning to read them mostly for my own meditation and reflection.

You can find a review of the book that came with the card deck over on my book blog, The Itinerant Librarian. This post is one of what I hope will be a few down the road where I write a bit about what I learn along the way. I read the book at least once so I could write the review, and I know I will be keeping it handy for consultation as I get to know the cards.

In the book, the author discusses a bit about choosing your deck in order to find one that you can enjoy and relate to. Though the Marseilles deck did not thrill me initially, as I think the art is a bit too basic, it has grown on me. I can see myself now using it on a daily, casual basis. There are other decks I have looked over that draw me in more in terms of their rich imagery. For instance, prior to getting the Marseilles deck as a gift, I had acquired a Luis Royo Dark Fantasy Tarot deck. Royo is one of my favorite fantasy artists, so at the time I acquired the deck as a collector’s item to add to my collection. Now that I am starting to study and learn about Tarot, I may bring the Royo deck into use once I get the hang of the basics with the Marseilles deck. I will likely use the Royo deck for special times. At any rate, the Royo deck is a favorite of mine, which I treasure, and I look forward to trying it out down the road.

A little later, I added a Ciro Marchetti Gilded Tarot deck to my collection. The colorful and rich art on this one definitely drew me in. It is not as dark as the Royo deck; it is a bit more bright in colors, and it has rich imagery. Once I finish studying the book and feel comfortable with the Marseilles deck, I will begin exploring the Gilded Tarot deck. On a side note, Marchetti is also the artist who did the deck I gave The Better Half as a holiday gift, the Legacy of the Divine Tarot, which I knew she was very drawn to.  It made me very happy to get it for her. The style is pretty similar to the Gilded deck, but the art and symbols are different.

Going back to my deck, another reason I am sticking with the Marseilles deck is that it was a special gift. Charla said that some folks believe a Tarot deck should be given to you. While I am fine with the idea of buying my own, since it is the way to assure you find a deck you enjoy as the book’s author suggests, the Marseilles came to me with love and affection, so I think it is a great reason to use it as my learning deck and in daily life. Plus I am finding much of the medieval lore and symbols associated with the deck to be quite interesting.

We’ll see where this journey takes me.



Here is my first post on this series for 2016. My TBR keeps growing, but I also hope these lists help other readers out there find ideas for new books to read.

Items about books I want to read:


List and bibliographies:


Here is another round of books I would like to read eventually:

Items about books I want to read:

  • Hurricanes and natural disasters often make the news. The part of those news that we rarely see is that there is a big profiteering element to natural and other disasters. Something like Hurricane Katrina is not just a natural disaster; it is also a disaster of social and economic inequality. You can read about that in The Disaster Profiteers. The book was featured in Scientific American.
  • Naturally, the librarian in me has an interest in books about libraries, so here is The Meaning of the Library: a Cultural History. It was reviewed in Macleans.
  • What do you know? There is a book out there about lists. Yea, lists, like to-do lists, inventories, etc. The book is Lists by Liza Kirwin, and it was reviewed at The Well-Appointed Desk.
  • Voter disenfranchisement is a big issue in the United States as political parties, especially the GOP, seek to keep minorities from voting. Learn more about this issue in Give Us the Ballot. The book was featured in Mother Jones magazine.
  • And speaking of the GOP, maybe it should stop alienating women, minorities, the LGBTQIA community, and young people, in other words, anyone other than rich white cis males. This book may be of interest to them, although at this point that party needs more than just rebranding as the article from In These Times suggests. The book is The Selfie Vote.
  • Enjoy paper folding? Like origami, but you think it’s just for kids? If you are an adult, maybe you want to try out Pornogami: a Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for Adults. It was featured at Incredible Things.
  • I may have mentioned this before, but since I moved to Kentucky, my interest in bourbon has increased a bit. I am always interested in how alcoholic spirits are made, so it is kind of nice to live here where bourbon is made. Anyhow, there is a new book out by a guy who “tasted between 50 and 60 bourbons” and has written about it. The book is Bourbon Curious, and it was briefly mentioned in the Lexington Herald Leader.
  • NPR reports that Twitter has put out a guide book on how to use Twitter for politicians, and apparently it is quite amusing. You can download the handbook here. Yes, I did download a copy for myself, so you bet it will get reviewed when I read it.
  • Something “shop-related.” Saving this one more for future reference. The book is the Library Publishing Toolkit, which you can download for free here.
  • Oil/petroleum makes the world go round. But it does so at a high price. Learn about the corruption and scandals of The Secret World of Oil. The book was reviewed in San Francisco Book Review.
  • Also, the San Francisco Book Review says that “picking up where Goodfellas and The Godfather left off, The Mob and the City is a terrific, informative read.” Sounds like a good reason to pick the book up.
  • Wink Books highlights the book The Art of Robert E. McGinnis. The guy did a lot of pulp covers, many of which some of you might remember.
  • Wink Books also highlights the book American Grotesque: the Life and Art of William Mortensen.
  • My friend, Mark at Habitually Probing Generalist, has been reading quite a few graphic novels. Since we cannot resist graphic novels and comics in this joint, and some of these sound cool, here we go:
    • Here he reviews Sumo by Pham. Like Mark, I have enjoyed other books published by First Second, so this an added motivation.
    • Over here, he reviews the book De Tales. It is a collection of four tales set in urban Brazil.
    • He really liked this one, which by the way, would have fit into the LGBT Reading Challenge I am doing this year as well as the graphic novel challenges. Maybe if I get to it before the end of the year I can fit it in. The book is Stuck Rubber Baby.
    • He also really liked this one, from Image Comics, which is a publisher that has put out some other works I have enjoyed. As Mark describes it is a “twisted take on the Lewis and Clark expedition.” The book is Manifest Destiny, Volume 1. From the sound of it, I may have to order it for our library’s graphic novels collection.
  • Adding some manga to the list with Rose Gun Days, Season 1, Volume 1. It was reviewed at A Case for Suitable Treatment.
  • And speaking of manga, The Manga Critic reviews the pocket book  A Brief History of Manga.
  • When it comes to hipsters, there is no lost love. So some hipster humor is something I can appreciate. Bitches n Prose review the book Hipster Animals: a Field Guide.



Lists and bibliographies:

  • Donald Trump’s presidential run in 2015 has been seen as either a joke or an embarrassment of the American nation. One element he has is quite the authoritarian streak, and though many Americans say it could never happen here, well, look at who they have been supporting lately. This article in Alternet discusses Trump, authoritarianism, and offers a couple of books to read up on the topic.
  • Interested in what the faculty of the Harvard Business School have on their summer 2015 reading list? Here are some of the books that made their shortlist, via HBS Working Knowledge.
  • Recent research reveals that doodling can be good for your cognitive abilities. This article out of The Atlantic mentions a couple of books on the topic.
  • Wink Books has a post on a couple of volumes from the Dark Horse collections of Creepy and Eerie magazines.


The books for the TBR list just keep piling up. Maybe I will get to reincarnate so I can come back and read some more.

Items about books:

  • One for the hardcore horror film fan perhaps. I will admit that I know little of the more obscure and/or independently made horror films. This book may help fix that gap. The book is Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990. It is discussed at Bookgasm.
  • Also via Bookgasm, one for foodies, although I will warn it is not just about fancy food. The review is for an anthology of comics (some indie, some maybe a bit more mainstream) that share a common theme of food, consumption, and digestion. The book is Digestate: a food and eating themed anthology.
  • Let’s go with a bit of Japanese science fiction in translation with The Lord of the Sands of Time. It is reviewed at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • A couple of shop items so to speak for the librarian. One is UContent: the Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content. (Reviewed here). The other is Transforming Information Literacy Instruction Using Learner-Centered Teaching (reviewed here). Of the two, I am interested more in the second one since I am an instruction librarian. The first one, though it interests me also as instruction librarian as well as blogger, I am bit more skeptical by now. After all, it is at least four years old by now, and in Internet years, that is like 20 years or so in normal years.
  • For something different, speculative fiction inspired by the Ramayana (yes, that Ramayana). I have read the Ramayana, but it was years ago. I may have to reread it down the road. So now, we get this book: Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana. Of course I had to add it to my TBR list. The book was mentioned in the Literary Salon.
  • Good manners are something that I consider important, and books on the topic, whether old or modern guides, interest me. So, I am adding The Butler Speaks to my list. It was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review. Maybe the world would be a better place if people minded their manners, maybe more if parents actually knew manners and taught them to their children.
  • Via A Case for Suitable Treatment, a review of a manga title, first in a series, I have wanted to try out. The book in question is 07-Ghost, Volume 1.
  • Via habitually probing generalist, a short review of A Most Imperfect Union. Often, I would not bother with a book when a reliable source is lukewarm about it, but I have read other works of both Stavans and Alcaraz such as Latino USA, so I am too curious not to try this out.
  • Another one from a librarian. The Lowrider Librarian says this is a book your library needs, and given recent events, I believe it. The books is Cannabis Pharmacy, and it can make a timely addition as cannabis and marijuana continue to gain legal status and acceptance in the United States.
  • Star Wars novels can be hit and miss for me. I have read some I liked, and some that I did not like. A book I did enjoy was James Luceno’s Star Wars: Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader (link to my review. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars at the time). However, I also recently read Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, which I do not recall as fondly. So the quality often depends on the author. At any rate, Luceno has a new book out: Tarkin, about the Grand Moff who commanded the Death Star. Naturally, my curiosity and the fact I enjoy Star Wars means I will probably look it up down the road. Tarkin was reviewed at BuzzyMag.
  • Interested in health care issues in the United States? Want to learn how bad the health care system is in the U.S. and pretty much how politicians, insurance companies, and a lot of money pretty much assure it stays that way? Then maybe America’s Bitter Pill may be the book for you. It was recommended by the folks at Powell’s Books.
  • For me, a new Neil Gaiman book is always of interest, and he has a new short fiction collection out. The book is Trigger Warning, and it was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • I do like a good plate of well made noodles. One of the things I miss about living in Houston back in the day is you could find a good noodle house or two. Berea lacks such a place. I am not, however, a fan of the instant noodles. But I am interested in a book about how noodles have been turned into a commodity, whether instant or not. The book is The Noodle Narratives, and it was mentioned at Food Politics.
  • Food Politics also mentions a book about lentils and sustainable farming that sounded interesting. The book is Lentil Underground.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • These days, that Shades book is getting a lot of hype again because of the upcoming movie. It seems every other woman in the U.S. is creaming her panties to go see it. May the deity of choice have mercy on any boyfriend or spouse dragged into that torture. I thank the deity of choice The Better Half has better taste when it comes to erotica. At any rate, whether you need something to tide you over until the movie or, better yet, you want something better in terms of quality and writing skill than that one book, here is a small list of books beyond that one book from Shelf Talk.
  • Once again, if interested, the folks at BookFinder have done their annual report on out-of-print and in demand books. Madonna’s Sex is not number one, but it is still in the top five.
  • Via Bookgasm, a list of Euro-comics with a theme of “Getting TANKed.”
  • In 2014, one of my reading challenges allowed for reading novels based on games and video games. I could have used this list to get a few more ideas of what to read. List via Book Riot.
  • The Unshelved comic strip devotes one day a week to do book reviews. Here is their review of the Preacher comic series, which I have been meaning to read.
  • Via Sounds and Colours, a list of “the best books on street art in Latin America.” A bit from the article, “in Latin America, street art is of major cultural relevance. The region’s traditions of social movements and revolution have allowed the form to give voice to otherwise unheard sectors of the population. Of course, not all street art is politically or socially-oriented in content, but it does often provide insight into specific objectives and ideals.”
  • I am not a gardener (I would not mind becoming one, but I just do not have the time or space at the moment). However, I do find some books on the topic interesting. If you have an interest in gardening, perhaps you are a gardener yourself, this may be of interest.  Via Poor as Folk, here is a list of “best food and gardening books of 2014.
  • Need to boost the creativity a bit? Via Little Dumb Man, here is a list of “10 great books that will books your creativity.”
  • Want to be scared? Want to read some real life horror? Do you like medical subjects? Then this list may be for you. Via The Booklist Reader, here is “Contagious Reading: Scary Medical Books Where the Truth Reads Like Fiction.

These are my notes from a Teaching and Learning Lunch I attended last October. I jotted these down in my journal, and I am putting them here so I have another place where I can find the notes.

  • So, what is it? It turns lectures into homework. Do your lectures ahead of time, and students can watch them before they come into class. You can then spend the class time on interactive activities.
  • The class dynamic goes from passive to active.
  • This is based on “blended learning.” It is not just “online learning.” The technology supports the classroom.
  • No “one size fits all” when it comes to using technology.
  • You don’t have to be tech savvy, but you may become savvy as you use more things.
  • Avoid being overwhelmed. Start with small steps. Pick and choose, see what works, adapt.
  • To flip your classroom, you don’t have to create all videos or tutorials. You can often find good resources online, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Explore various screencast options. Some are online and free.
  • Check the site of the Flipped Learning Network: . Check out their book Flip Your Classroom.

Remember, you transform your classroom as a teacher. No technology will do it for you. The technology supports the classroom culture.


This is basically a link dump post of items that I have found contain useful information related to work, career, and professional development. In essence, these are links to things I want to remember for future reference.

  • This was written mostly for PhD students, but I think it is applicable for anyone who may have been in academia for a long time and now needs (or desires) to find a job outside of academia. It is a given you may have to reinvent yourself in such a situation. So, via Escape the Ivory Tower, remember that “they don’t know how awesome you are.”
  • Barbara Pachter provides some pointers on how to stay in touch with former bosses or other professional colleagues. Networking is always important for your career growth, but you also need good manners.
  • Via The Bamboo Project, here are “Six Positive Professional Development Strategies for the Toxic Workplace.” In my line of work, contrary to what a lot of celebrity blogging librarians would have you believe (at least non-pseudonymous ones), libraries are not little slices of heaven on Earth. Some are nice, and others not so much. If you happen to be stuck in one of the toxic ones, you need to take care of yourself. You still need to continue your professional development regardless of whether you choose to stand and flight or send out your resume to get out of town. This article offers some small places to start a more positive process for your professional development.
  • Also via The Bamboo Project, “Tough Questions for Your Professional Development.” These can serve as a good reflective exercise.
  • On a related theme, via Dumb Little Man, here is some stuff on “How to Deal With a Job You Hate.” Again, not everything is Eden on Earth. When it is not, you need to find constructive ways to deal with things and still keep on growing.
  • And to pick something in librarianship, here is In the Library With a Lead Pipe. They have an article offering a Q&A on Professional Development. This is mostly geared to library school students, but there are still some useful things for those of us already fortunate enough to be out in the field.
  • Via Hack Library School, a post on “The Skills You Don’t Learn in School.” That refers to library school. This is a topic a colleague and I often talk about, and I suppose it could be a topic for a longer post over at the professional blog. But for one, I don’t really feel the inclination nor the time to write that longer post up. But the post on skills does offer some food for thought.
  • Idea Sandbox offers a nice diagram on the “Magic of Thinking Big.”

New Pen Holder

I do some pen collecting. I saw the question–do you collect pens, and how do you collect them–in a blog a while back. I gave it some thought, and I realized that I do collect pens. Now, I do not collect expensive or high end pens. Those are too expensive, and I do have to live on a librarian’s salary.

I like pens that work for me. As I think about it, I collect two kinds of pens. I have a few nice pens that I use as my personal pens, signature pens. Then I have pens I use on a daily basis as my work pens. I use my work pens for more extensive writing, such as writing on my personal journal. Now, I may use one of my nice pens to write in my journal, usually when I am not at home, but overall, I use my daily use pens as my basic writing tool.

I have gradually built a small collection of the personal/signature pens. I keep those in my jewelry box, and I try to rotate their use. Currently, I am favoring my Waterman Harley Davidsons: one is a fountain pen, and the other one is a roller ball with a nice wolves scene on the barrel. The fountain was a lost and found unclaimed item in one of the libraries I used to work at; it was going to be discarded. I claimed it. It is a bit worn, but with new ink cartridges, it has been working well for me. In fact, I’ve used it to write in my journal a few times. It has become a favorite pen. The roller ball was a present from my better half a while back. I do have some nice ballpoints as well, but I do not use them as much.

As for my casual/daily writing, I tend to prefer gel pens or roller balls. Pilot G2’s (like the ones in the photo), ones in different colors, are ones I do like. They have a nice point, thin, the ink is usually smooth, and the color variety is nice too.

So, that’s a bit about the pens I collect and use.

A hat tip to the Goldspot Pens blog, which gave me the inspiration to write this. It was a nice bit of serendipity that Plinky had a prompt asking about stuff I collect too.

Powered by Plinky

Short addition: The link from Goldspot Pens on “How Do You Collect Pens?” Found via this carnival. Plinky is not very good about placing links in replies.

April 2020


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