Tuesday, May 29, 2007

colour du jour

I know you all check back at least two or three times a day, so I apologize for any hue whiplash you may have gotten while I toyed with my blog's personality. I grew tired of TicTac Blue. Please let me know if the new layout makes an eye (or two) twitch.

I also apologize for this not-a-post.

["colour" is a nod to you, HaikuBoxer...and "du jour", too. Just doing my part to foster positive collegial U.S.-Canada relations.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

hot-blooded music in her throat

This is not one of those rants about a performer selling out because I like the music that Jennifer Nettles has created with Sugarland, and have great respect for Kristian Bush (and Kristen Hall). Jennifer radiates talent wherever. She is an intelligent woman making smart moves. I wouldn't expect her to be anything other than true to herself.

That said, though, I have to say that I really love her older stuff; the rawness and grit seem, to me, a better match for the gravel in her voice. And the lyrics...
How about this:
And I know I'm at the brow of my being
And I know it's hard to look down
And I'm probably as free as I ever will be
Still I choose to live like I'm gagging and bound
Or this:
Maybe I won't see my name in lights
Ask the corporate music factory why
The next whiplash pan flash, big bosomed wonder
I'll tell 'em all to "Fuck off" as I go under.
And, of course, this:
Well I was once bound and determined,
But now that's been replaced by fear in being bound
By your determination to keep me here.

I've been your friend, lover, sister
Can you tell me what else is left?
And I've euphemized shouts with whispers til it's worried me to death.
And this:
And these ties that bind my soul
no, they're not blessed to me at all.
I'm tired of lying in this position
but I can't recover from this fall.
You tell me if I stay or if I go
freedom's not an option that you give.
Well your infirmity is justifiable,
it's your sickness I can't forgive.

Her previous stuff is worth the gamble, if you're curious. I'd recommend buying one of the acoustic CDs to start. It's maybe not as polished as what's coming out now, but it's not really about the polish, now is it?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

love that baby up*

*from Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson

A ton of research released in the mid-to-late 1990s blew out of the water the previously held notion that until children were closer to school-age, their minds weren’t ready to broach basic skills and concepts behind writing, reasoning, and reading. (I highly recommend Rethinking the Brain for an overview.)

Turns out that during these first three underestimated years of a child’s life the brain is a hotbed of activity. This is probably no surprise to many who’ve had or spent time with babes. A child's experiences create trillions of new connections (synapses) that lay the ground work for the brain's ability to efficiently carry out different processes again in the future. The more frequently a path/connection is traversed, the more likely it'll "stick" and require less energy, fewer tries.

Brains of human newborns weigh only one-fourth the weight of a human adult's brain--as compared to newborn macaques and chimps (65% and 45% of adult weight, respectively--from Rethinking the Brain). The rest of the brain development happens after birth. Harry Chugani, MD put it well when he said "...Mother Nature didn't think it was advisable for genetic composition alone to dictate brain wiring." (1997 Wayne Medicine article, “Brain Surges”.)

Yes, this does mean that we can and should do as much as we can with early childhood education to help get children primed to succeed in school, to expose them regularly to varied and joyous experiences. And, yes, this is very exciting and important.

But children also need help wiring their feelings, learning how to comfort themselves and rein in their highs and lows. In large part, babies are not able to regulate their emotions independently. Whatever the stress, they need parents and caregivers to calm them:
The repetition of this pattern helps a baby's brain eventually learn how to regulate these responses on its own.

Lack of effective emotional regulation works against optimal brain development. Cortisol, a stress hormone, makes brain cells and synapses susceptible to destruction. Children who are loved, comforted, and nurtured as infants "are less likely than other children to respond to minor stresses by producing cortisol than other children. And when they do respond by producing cortisol, they can more rapidly and efficiently turn off this response." (...again Rethinking the Brain.)

All of this is to say that while it's so important to help young children build skills for success in school, it's just as...ok, I'd say more...important for children to feel attachment and love and to know that it can be counted on. Make it a package deal: wrap it all up in a bundle o' love. Snuggle up with a kid and a book, but focus on the kid. It will make a world of difference.
I feel bad sometime Nettie done pass me in learnin. But look like nothing she say can git in my brain and stay. She try to tell me something bout the ground not being flat. I say, Yeah, like I know it. I never tell her how flat it look to me.
The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

if i'm lying, i'm dying

And I'm not doing either, though I had a bit of a scare on Monday—the worst brain ache ever. Apparently, I had an optical migraine followed by a real one. Regardless: painful.

So here's the funny part (I can say this now). The doctor comes in to see me after I've been sitting in pain for, oh, two hours. He asks the same questions I've answered for the last 3 people, including what I do for a living. When I tell him, he proceeds to ask me if I think he might be able to run some CD-ROM on a library computer. Says some yada yada about Macintosh this or that. I explain (as nicely as I can muster) that I don't think the library likes for people to run outside programs on their computers. He says, "But it's only a CD-ROM."

If I could have transfered every ounce of ouch from my brain to his, believe you me, I would've.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

love concentrate

A person of few words, my ma.

She sends occasional post cards or birthday cards with a brief note; maybe a random gift of something she spied that tickled her fancy or funny bone. She doesn't call. And if you call, it's not unheard of for her to end a relatively brief conversation with, "Well, I don't really feel like talking anymore." Email she does: sporadic morsels of her life, all moments of truth laid out in her capricious, matter-of-fact, stream of consciousness style.

You could say she's terse, and that might be accurate, sometimes. She is what she is, though, and she’s not apologetic about it. To want for more is an exercise in futility; grand displays are not her style.

What matters: She loves me and tells me often. She trusts me with my own life. And on the rare occasion when I do see her, she'll scratch my back and my head and play with my hair for as long as I want.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

surface tension

I recall some discussion—too much discussion—during grad school around the definition of the library profession. Is it library science or information science? Is it a science? Is there a difference between library science and librarianship? While I do understand to the power of naming things, at some point you move forward. You stop spinning your wheels with semantics and define your vocation and its value by what it is that you do.

I've been reading Steve Hardy's blog and have sensed some wheel spinning. And so I ask: What shall we do with creative generalism? ("How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?")

Mr. Hardy: I hear you clucking, big chicken. I agree that it is important to remove the blinders and take in the vista. Tunnel vision = BAD. But I also think there comes a time to move past the manifestos that reiterate much that has already been said...by those you've quoted at length.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I would not likely have heard, for example, of Weiner and Cybernetics had it not been for your blog. But further delving (yikes...does that disqualify me as a creative generalist?) reveals that dear Norbert's passion was the co-mingling of different areas of study, not the discussion of the importance of the co-mingling. Your magnificent third- or fourth-hand quote of Weiner was, after all, in the introduction of his book. He's written much. Check him out.

Perhaps this is beyond your intended scope, or I've missed your intention entirely. It just seems that you're skimming the surface. Excessive philosophizing is often lost on me. Pragmatism rules supreme in my noggin. My inclination is to dive in and get wet rather than analyze the reflection.

The result of my graduate studies was [drumroll...]: a "Masters of Arts in Library and Information Studies". What does this gobbledygook mean to immigrant families, teen parents, residents of correctional facilities, or homebound customers who receive library services? Bupkis.

But ask them what it means to them to have resources available freely to them that help them function and prosper in a new culture or help their children build the skills they need to be successful in school and life or help them to merely pass time or find a sliver of peace amidst chaos. I'm fairly confident you'd get a much different answer. And I'd rather let that define the importance of what I do.