Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘productivity

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

This is my list of books that I reviewed on my blog, The Itinerant Librarian for the month  of October 2016. If you missed any of them, or you wish  to check them out, feel free to click on the links below. If you read any  of them, let me know in the  comments. Also, if you have any ideas for books you think I should read, you can comment as well.

  • I finally got to read Gaysia, which I have wanted to read for a while. Here is a bit of what I wrote in the review: “This is definitely a great travelogue and observation of the LGBTQIA experience in Southeast Asia. If you were to travel that part of the world, then Benjamin Law would make a great guide. He has a great ability to observe, which he combines with great writing plus a very descriptive and evocative style.”
  • For the most part, people tend to loathe meetings. But since we cannot totally get rid of them, you can at leas try to appear smart at them. To this end, I read 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings.
  • I needed some humor this month, so I reread Cable on Academe. I realized I had not written a review for it previously, so I finally wrote a review this month.
  • Finally for this month, I continue  my Tarot studies, and I read Barbara Moore’s Tarot for Beginners. I read this one as an e-book via my public library.

Once more, we are adding to the ever growing TBR book list. So many books, so little time. By the way, if you read any of these, feel free to make a comment and let me know what you think. It may convince me to move the book up the queue and read it sooner.

 

CuriousGeorgeReading

Items about books I want to read:

  • Some of you may know that I write a semi-regular feature at The Itinerant Librarian entitled “Signs the Economy is Bad.” Well, here is a definite sign the economy is bad. Affordable housing is scarce, and evictions are becoming a serious problem. You can learn more about this issue in the new book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. The author was profiled and talked about his work for The Christian Science Monitor.
  • Here is another book about poverty in the U.S. and why the poor in the U.S. just keep getting poorer. The book is $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, and it was discussed at The New York Review of Books.
  • Not that I need anyone to tell me that the US government, especially the US Congress, sucks royally. The evidence of how fucked up it is and the fact they do nothing more than represent moneyed interests is widely available for those willing to see. But hey, if you need more convincing, apparently an anonymous congressman decided to write a tell-all of just how bad it is. Via The Week, the book is The Confessions of Congressman X. (Link to Amazon record as WorldCat does not have it yet as of this post). I am betting this is in similar vein to Primary Colors, which when it came out was also published by an anonymous, except Primary Colors was fiction.
  • Let’s take a look at food. Here is a new book about ethnic cuisines highlighted at Food Politics. The book is The Ethnic Restaurateur.
  • I enjoy a good cocktail now and then, and I do find cocktail recipe books as well as books about the drinking culture of interest. Thus I am adding The Bar Book to this list. The book was featured at Wink Books. The book is labeled as not a recipe book but a techniques book, so maybe I can learn a new trick or two.
  • As I continue my journey learning about Tarot and how to read the cards, I am also starting to collect Tarot card decks. I collect playing card decks, so one, collecting Tarot decks seemed natural, and two, I do like the art in a few other decks, and I would like to learn to read from them too down the road. A deck I find fascinating and intriguing is the Thoth Tarot created by Crowley and Harris. It is a complex deck, so I will probably need a book or two to help me work with it. One of those might be The Ultimate Guide to the Thoth Tarot. The book was reviewed at @TABITarot’s blog.
  • I am familiar with Oneida silverware, and I vaguely knew there had been a utopian community named Oneida, but I never made the connection until now. So now I can pick up this new book and learn more about the topic. The book is Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table. It was reviewed at Blogcritics.
  • As we all know, performance reviews are the bane and annual ritual of banality and inanity a lot of workers, including those of us in academia, have to put up with. Personally, I believe whoever came up with the idea and his or her descendants and supporters should be lined up against the wall when the revolution comes. Since it may take a while for the revolution to happen, we have to live with performance management. The author of this new book argues that there is a fix. I am skeptical, but I am willing to read it and take a chance. The book is How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – and What to Do About It. It was reviewed also at Blogcritics.
  • I can’t quite recall where I saw this book first, but I know it was before it became the latest book for librarians to drool over. I  tend to avoid the librarian drool books, which from the few I have read and reviewed I find they are often just pandering to librarians seeking some assurance their jobs are valid kind of thing.  However,  this one sounds interesting and deals with a timely topic in the news (international terrorism and saving rare works), so I will likely give it a shot down the road. The book is The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu, and it was reviewed at Based on a True Story.
  • This is just one of those curiosity things I find in my RSS feeds. Magic and Mayhem blog author has found a free link to a book called The Black Toad. Apparently, this is of interest to witches and other similar practitioners. If this interests you, you can go get it as well. I did download a copy. I may not get to it right away, but I hope to down the road.
  • Next, “if you want it edgy, rough and no holds bar, this is the book for you.” So say the authors at BDSM Book Reviews about the book  Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica by Xan West.
  • Guys Lit Wire reviews the graphic novel, or as they call it, a “graphic narrative,” The Beats. They say it is “a very readable look at a bunch of mid- to late- twentieth century American writers.”
  • Let’s add a little horror to the reading list. This book is described as a “truly spectacular novel. It combines history, animals, horror, intrigue and superb writing. It is a very well written and intricate story so be alert and pay attention” by Horror Novel Reviews. Sounds good enough to me. The book is Dark Neighborhoods; it is an e-book out of Amazon. While I usually do not care for those, this does sound intriguing.
  • Also via Horror Novel Reviews, they featured the book Black Creek. The reviewer says that the book author “does something very unique with this story: he creates two antagonists for a group of unlikely heroes overcome.”
  • Let’s add a little professional reading. Actually, this is one that I think not only I need to read it, but it may also be one to order for my library as I think it may be of interest locally. Library Juice Press has published the book Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

  • Here is a list of LGBTQ webcomics. I have not seen some of these, so I will be adding them to my feed reader as much as possible. The article also includes links if you wish to buy a print version for your own. Via Bisexual Books blog.
  • Book Riot has an article on “Exploring BDSM through Erotica.” This is a very small sampling. It did pick up on a couple of Alison Tyler’s works, which are very good (I have read other things by her), but I think the article misses a few other good works such as some of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s anthologies like her Best Bondage Erotica (my review of her 2014 edition). Still, it will give you a start, and it certainly is better than thinking 50 Shades of Grey is a way to explore safe, sane, and consensual BDSM.
  • Another list from Book Riot. This one on “100 Must-read Books about Books.” I do not think all 100 of them are really “must-reads” but there are a few good gems in this listicle, especially under nonfiction. I have a read a few from the list, which I may highlight in a future post.
  • This I think is useful not just for anyone who may want to get into reading the long running manga Naruto but also for folks who have been reading it and need to keep track of things. Via Panels, here is a “Reader’s Guide Naruto.

I decided to try my hand at this after reading this post, “20 Questions I Have for People Who Were in Their 20s Before Cell Phones & Internet” found at forever twenty somethings.I was a bit younger than my 20s in those days, but I certainly faced these questions too. It was not a big deal then. To be honest, I wonder how easily spoiled today’s youth are by cellphones and the Internet. My cohort and I had to make do without, and we did just fine. In fact, in many ways, the pace of things was not as rushed. Now, to date myself a little bit, I grew up as a teen in the 1980s. I barely recall my early days of getting on the Internet. My first personal e-mail was on Hotmail, and I do still have and use that account though it is no longer my primary e-mail. My first real e-mail was in college, back when it was using a VAX system of all things. I do remember AOL and those pesky disks they used to send to try to get you to subscribe to their Internet service. Boy, have we come a long way in a short amount of time. Before that, I survived without all this technology just fine.

To be honest, a lot of this seems like a big first world problem, but I am doing it for amusement now. I copied the questions from the post. I will then type out my answers (some snark may be included):

1. How did you make plans?  You agreed with people beforehand on things like where you would be and at what time. You either talked in person or over the phone. Yes, we did have telephones back then. We had already moved past the telegraph.

2. How did you CANCEL plans?  Usually you tried to call as soon as you knew.

3. How did you know who was calling you before you picked up the phone?  Until the advent of caller ID, you did not know. However, once answering machines came around, you let the answering machine pick up so you could screen the call. If you were real snarky, you could even put funny messages on your answering machine to greet callers. Heck, if you did not feel like taping your own, you could buy those messages recorded for use. One thing you may keep in mind is that back then spam calls were not really the problem they were now. Back then, you knew most of your callers were family or friends, i.e. people you wanted to talk to. Nowadays, it’s not really safe to answer a phone, and since it is easy to spoof called ID, I still let the answering machine pick up so I can screen.

4. How did you rid of the fear that is calling people?  I would not label it a fear, but I do dislike talking on the phone. E-mail was a welcome arrival. I much rather e-mail people than call them.

5. How did you find out information about people before you went on dates with them?  You really did not have much options here. If you knew a common friend, you pumped them for information maybe.

6. How did you find people to date in the first place???  Well, school, church (back when I was a church goer, I did have an older girl hit on me after church. True story. That did not get far, but that is another story), other gatherings.

7. How did you keep tabs on exes?  Why the hell would I want to do that for? Anyhow, back then I did not have an ex yet.

8. How did you keep tabs on what your entire graduating class from high school was doing?  Given I did not (and still do not) give much of a shit what the folks in my high school class do, this was not nor is now much of a concern.

9. How did you look for jobs?  The newspaper and word of mouth.

10. How did your parents get in touch with you when you were out? Back then, you told your parents where you would be, and you better be there or else. Growing up back in Puerto Rico, this was common. You went to a friend’s house to hang out, you told your parents who it was and where. Odds are good our parents knew their parents, so they could call and check. Also, we had fairly firm curfews. I had to be home usually by 6pm or so, which was dinner time. One way to know was if in the house you were visiting the TV was on. When the news went on (this was before the days of CNN), you knew you had to head home. If the theme song of the soap opera that came after the news came on, you knew you had to run home because you just overstayed. Back then, the soap opera theme song was the one for the soap opera Cristina Bazan. The song was “Atrévete” by José Luis Rodríguez, aka El Puma. (Link to YouTube).

11. How did your survive waiting for meetings, appointments, trains, or anything without being able to pass time by pretending to look busy on your phone? If I had to and I could, I carried a book or some other reading material.

12. How did you do ANYTHING at work before email? You talked to people. You called on the phone. The work pace was likely a bit slower, but that was a good thing. We survived just fine.

13. How did you tell co-workers (or someone else you were meeting) that you were going to be late when you were stuck in traffic or stuck on some disabled subway car? They had to wait, and that was the end of it. You explained what happened when you got there, or if you could, you stopped at a pay phone and called in. Again, the world did not end.

14. How did you sign up for classes at the gym? You went to the gym and signed up. Or you called over the phone I guess. This was never a concern for me though. Why, how do people sign up now? Even if you sign up online, you still have to go to the gym in person, so I do not see any advantage from signing up online or doing it when you get there.

15. How did you know where you were or where you were going ever? See #10, apply it to other people. Again, people were more understanding and patient, so this was not an issue.

17. How did you always have change on you to use these pay phones? You learned to carry some change in your pocket, no big deal. To this day, I carry at least two quarters in my pocket for pay phones. It is more a ritual than anything else given I have a cell phone, but the habit remains. For long distance back then, you often had a phone card.

18. How did you research anything for school? Did you have to go through the Encyclopedia? What? You think research did not happen before the oh so precious Wikipedia? Yes. We had encyclopedias, and we learned how to use them. We also had libraries and librarians to help us with our research if need be. The tone of this question makes it sound like we lived in the Dark Ages. We had books then, and we still have them know. We also had journals and indexes to find articles just fine. You learned to use things like Reader’s Guide and got on with it.

19. How did you find out about the weather? I looked outside. I watched the news and got the weather forecast. Listened to the radio news for any alerts. Again, the world did not end.

20. How did you stay in touch with friends? Talking in person. Phone calls. A bit more distance, letters and cards via mail.

In the end, we got along just fine. The world did not end. People knew to be patient, and they knew to wait as need be. Sometimes I think cell phones and Internet have made people impatient because they have to know now right this second or else. Also, since people were a lot more patient and less tech, people were a little less rude. I mean, there were no cell phones, so you could not whip it out in restaurants and movie theaters, but you actually had to pay attention. You needed to let people know, you called ahead or told them early enough without so much rush. And that is how we survived just fine.

Once I left school teaching and graduate school, I embraced the philosophy of leaving work at work at the end of the day. Once I walk out the door at the end of the day, work stays there. My home time is exactly that: mine and at home. Besides, the bosses do not pay overtime, so they are not getting anything extra. One has to learn to keep a life balance and boundaries.

Via Lifehacker, this short video of a talk by Pam Selle is a must watch (link to post with the video). A little FTA: “Time is money. When you work extra hours, you’re earning less money.” In other words, unless you get overtime (and even then, be selective if you choose to go for the overtime), they are not paying you for it. So tell them you are going home. Do your work at work (don’t slack much), then leave work at work.

The video itself, from YouTube:

Here goes another link post of my semi-regular (as in when I get enough clips together to make a post) series of post collecting clips about blogging and writing. My small way of keeping track of things that inspire me or just give me ideas for things to try out in my blogging and writing.

Though I do not blog professionally, or at least with the intention of making money, I always find many of Darren Rowse’s posts to be useful and informative. I always find myself clipping them to look at later for ideas on how to improve my blogging. And who knows, maybe someday, I might make a penny or two from my blogging. In the meantime, hear are some items from ProBlogger blog,

Write to Done is another blog I find useful when it comes to writing advice. From Write to Done,

The folks at Dumb Little Man do more than just blog about writing and blogging. I always find something interesting there. From Dumb Little Man,

  • 10 Hard Truths About Blogging.” A few important reminders that I think, as a blogger, I need to hear once in a while.
  • Five Reasons to Keep a Journal.” Even when I take long breaks from blogging (voluntary or otherwise), I always go back to my personal journal.  And though I do not write in it as often as I would like, I do write in it, and I always know I have it there.

 

From On Techies,

CW, at Ruminations,

  • Wondering how to increase her professional blogging. I know I am wondering that question right now, up to and even considering whether I want to increase it at all (or decrease it). Some food for thought and useful links.
  • A short exercise I would like to try out sometime. I may even consider using the result for my About page in the blog, which I am considering how to redo. She writes “Life in 100 Words.” Writing it may not be as easy as it sounds.

 

Some things with ideas I think I can use for work mostly. Some may have personal application.

 

Via Social Media Examiner,

  • 6 Social Media Success Metrics to You Need to Track.” I personally do not care much for social media metrics for my own blogs and other social media presences. This in large part because I mostly do it for myself either as a form of professional development or as a hobby. However, for the library’s social media efforts, we do need to be doing more assessment, in large measure because the big honchos want assessment done as part of accreditation, and if I can somehow use some measurements that could go into those assessments, someone would be happy. I could go on a whole rant about some people being overly obsessed with numbers and forms, but I will restrain myself. At any rate, for the library there are some metrics I would be curious about since it would help me then improve content and engagement.
  • 26 Tips for Enhancing Your Facebook Page.” Our Facebook page is a primary way for us at this point to communicate and engage with our community. However, I am always looking for ways to make it work better for us. There are some items that might not be applicable due to being too business-oriented, but I think there are some good ideas here. Given my workload, I can use all the help I can get.
  • 21 Ways Non-profits Can Leverage Social Media.” This is a post with some basics, but it still has a few ideas I have tried that may be worth exploring for the library.
  • 26 Twitter Tips for Enhancing Your Tweets.” Personally, I do not use Twitter very much. I do have an account on it, and I mostly have a couple of other social media linked to it so they post automatically. I probably could do much more with it, but microblogging just seems way too short for me, and some of the mechanics of Twitter are just not too intuitive for me. In terms of the library, the director has asked me to look into it. So far, I am not convinced it would work for us based on our other social media presences. But I have to be prepared for the day when it may be inevitable (we’ll probably do it anyways regardless, and no, I am not commenting further). It is not that I am being negative about Twitter. It is just that it does not work for me personally, and as the outreach librarian, which includes our online social media tools, I don’t think we would have that much use for it at this point in time (later, maybe, but that would be later).
  • 3 Simple Ways to Rapidly Create Custom Facebook Landing Tabs.” This I definitely have to look into and implement at some point. Given that Facebook pretty much eliminated apps. (or made them so invisible as to practically not letting them exist) from profiles and pages, I may need to do some enhancing.

From Musings about librarianship:

Via Lost Remote:

Via Librarian in Black:

Via Mashable:

This is one of those things that you will not learn in college, and yet it is something that many people need to learn. It is, in the words of Nels P. Highberg, how to be “reliably unreliable.” The bottom line, according to his column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is to “be a responsible adult without always being the one who can be counted on for anything at anytime, unless that is something that fits your lifestyle and makes you truly happy.” In other words, this is a reminder about knowing how to draw boundaries and how to keep them. If nothing else, it will help you keep your sanity. By the way, the comments to the column are an interesting look between those who get it and those who somehow expect people to do slave labor and say yes all the time (also known as the ones who have not learned boundaries or common manners).


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