Monday, August 31, 2009

Dog Can Haz Cheezburger? (Weekend Assignment #281)

For this Weekend Assignment, I ventured to a website I had successfully avoided for years. In order to fulfill Karen's instructions, I had to enter the wild world of I Can Haz Cheezburger.
Weekend Assignment: #281: Create a LOLcat (or a LOLdog, or a LOLpig, a LOLhorse or whatever). If you can do it with your own pet photo, great, but alternatively you can just describe what it would look like. Don't forget the humorous caption!

Extra Credit: Do you like "lolspeak" and other Internet slang, or mostly find it annoying?
OK, I short-cutted this a bit by using pictures of Gypsy that I already have, rather than staging any new ones. One was taken on a vacation at my in-laws' cabin, and the other is an example of the indignity we subject her to every Christmas.

funny pictures

moar funny pictures

funny pictures
One major reason I've stayed away from sites like Cheezburger
is because I am NOT a fan of "lolspeak" - I think this assignment is one of the few times I've actually used it. I'll admit to being guilty of emoticon abuse; I generally stay away from them in my posts, but in comments, e-mails, and Twitter tweets from me, they show up all the time. In some respects, it's just my preference - I think :-) and LOL basically say the same thing, but I like :-) better. I think the emoticons actually can be useful in helping to convey a tone of voice that sometimes isn't as clear in casual writing, but I rarely use textspeak abbreviations like LOL (although BRB is useful at times). One thing that's pleased me for years is that my son, who's been online since middle school, rarely uses textspeak either, even though he texts a lot. He's just a ridiculously fast phone typist.

"Lolspeak" is problematic for me, though. It's amusing in small doses, but it seems to be making its way into the mainstream, largely by adults who really should know better. I think they actually do know better, and they're just having fun or trying to keep up with "those kids today." But given the state of education these days, I'm a little worried that the kids may not know better, and that if this language does become generally accepted, they won't know better. Also, I have an old-fashioned fondness for proper spelling and grammar, and the writing that appeals to me usually makes use of both.

I may be trying to find high-minded justifications to support my feelings about it, and I probably do sound like a stick-in-the-mud here, but part of me really is a little nervous that the lol-ers are taking over. Having said that, though, this was a fun little change of pace. However, it will most likely be Gypsy's only appearance as a LOLdog.

For those of you who might like to LOL along this time, Karen has included the rulz rules for the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, September 4th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 AT gmail.com if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."
Picture your critter and join the fun!

BookBlips: vote it up!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review Policy: information for publicists and authors

UPDATED 3/1/10: I am not an especially fast reader, and I have a family, a full-time job, and other responsibilities unrelated to book blogging. In order to fulfill the review obligations I already have pending, I will only accept a limited number of new review offers - please read on to find out more about the sort of books I'll consider accepting. Thank you for your understanding. 

My goal is to post book reviews here at least once a week, on average. I began this blog as a means of recording and remembering the books I read. Authors and publicists are welcome to contact me at 3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com if they would like their books considered for reading and reviewing here. I also continue to purchase, read, and review books for my own enjoyment.

Some things you should know about my book-review policy:
  • I review every book I read, including books that I purchase for myself. If your book doesn't sound like something I would enjoy reading if I chose it on my own, it's most likely that I will politely decline your book offer up front, rather than accept a free book and not review it. 
  • I occasionally participate in book blog tours in addition to posting independent reviews.
  • If I don't respond to your offer, please consider it declined, and please don't take it personally - I may just be swamped at the time!
EXCEPTION for UNSOLICITED BOOKS and ARCs: I do not consider books that are sent to me without prior discussion "accepted for review." If I did not request your book or discuss it with you via e-mail, AND it is not a book that interests me upon inspection, I will feel NO obligation to read and review it! However, I will attempt to find another interested reviewer and pass the book on to her or him (at my own expense).
  • Accepting your book offer does not guarantee a rave review, but it does mean that I will review it as fairly as possible, like it or not.
  • In most cases, it will probably be at least a couple of months before I get around to reading and reviewing your book, and I will let you know this in our e-mail exchanges. If the review book is an ARC, I will make my best effort to read it and post my review close to the actual publication date.
  • I disclose the source of the book within my review; this is a way of acknowledging and thanking the provider, and in alignment with the Blog With Integrity disclosure principles and FTC regulations.
  • I include a "buy the book" link in my reviews, which goes through my own Amazon Associates account.
  • I cross-post/link my reviews on LibraryThing, where all of my books are listed.
  • I participate in the Weekly Geeks review-link exchange. Other bloggers are free to link to my reviews of books they are reviewing, and I will include links to other bloggers' reviews in my own book-review posts.
  • If you are contacting me about a book I have mentioned in one of my Sunday Salon posts ("New to the Wishlist"), I'm already interested in it and will be very likely to accept your offer of a review copy.
Some things you should know about my reading habits:
  • My reading choices are primarily driven by story and subject matter.
  • I am primarily a general-fiction reader who prefers novels that doesn't fall squarely into the conventions of one genre or another.
  • Memoirs are my preferred nonfiction category, but again, the story has to interest me.
  • I do not normally read or review e-books*, audiobooks or children's books. I will occasionally, but not often, read books targeted for the YA market, romances, horror, self-help, or books marketed as "inspirational." Having said that, you are always welcome to make me an offer anyway - perhaps your book will be one that sways me off my beaten path! *Re: E-BOOKS: Although I do own an e-book reader, I am reserving it for personal use and am not reviewing e-books at this time. If this changes, I will revise this section of the policy. 
Some things you should know about my blog:
  • I have been posting here regularly since March 2007, originally under a Blogspot URL. I acquired the custom domain http://www.3rsblog.com in July 2008.
  • I have a growing subscriber and readership base; feed subscriptions have increased from under 100 to over 500 during the past 18 months. Over the same period, this blog has averaged an estimated 17,000+ hits and 1700+ pageviews per month, and has a Google PageRank of 4.
  • This blog will consider author guest posts, but does not do author interviews.
Thank you for your interest, and if you have questions or want to mention a book to me, please contact me at 3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Review 8-29-09: Around the blogiverse this week

New Arrivals in my Google Reader

Dispatches from across the blogiverse

Regardless of their beliefs, nearly everyone believes in this

Eyewitness News - sting-op at the Shell! (Do they still say "film at eleven"?); encounters with the gender police

Tools for the team parent (or any group leader, really), from a genuine soccer mom; the joy of back-to-school week

A night at home alone feels...weird

Dating isn't always good preparation for marriage, but how about trying a "marriage marathon?" (No, it's not the same thing as a "wedding weekend" at all.)

Food and friendship and the test of time

This week's fashion "don't" (actually, make that a "no way in hell...")

Do you have a blogging "next-of-kin"...you know, someone who can alert the internet if something happens to you?

Blogthings Quiz of the Week:

Your Gift is Intellect
You are a big thinker, and you're always playing with new ideas.
You are curious about the world. You enjoy learning and developing new theories.

You enjoy researching, analyzing, and solving problems. Thinking hard feels good!
You're the type of person who finds most mental tasks to be easy. You love to stretch your brain.

Bookmarks: Reading-related reading

Got a suggestion to help feed a young bookworm? Click on that link and leave a comment for her mom! Also, lessons from textbooks...working at the college bookstore

I already know this is probably a non-starter for me, since spring and summer 2010 are already getting getting committed - but what about you? Interested in a Book Blogger Convention in NYC during BEA Week?

Good discussions on the book blogs this week: themes, etiquette for blog memes and challenges, and alliances

Did your imagination spend part of your youth in Deep Valley, Minnesota? You can go back - and take someone new with you! The Betsy-Tacy high school books are being reissued the week of September 28, which has been officially declared "Betsy-Tacy Convert Week".

Courtship across the centuries, or sex and the Austen girl

Enjoy your weekend - try to stay cool!

Friday, August 28, 2009

TBIF: Thank book/blog it's Friday! This week in bookishness

BOOKKEEPING: The Reading Status Report

y the Numbers:
  • Book reviews posted in 2009 so far: 28
  • Books read for the RYOB 2009 Challenge: 12 (goal is 20)
  • Books received for review in 2009, to date: 30
  • Books acquired in 2009, to date, from all sources: 97 (!) (Evidently, receiving review copies of books is not having the slightest detrimental effect on my book-purchasing habits!)
  • Books in the LibraryThing "To Read" collection: 229 (That number is going in the wrong direction. Oh well!)

Currently reading:
The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein (for the RYOB 2009 Challenge)

Teaser: "What Eve said was not out of line, as most dogs cannot help themselves; they see an animal running and they track it and they go after it. But that sort of thing doesn't apply for me." (page 36)

New books for the Wishlist:
The Favorites, by Mary Yukari Waters
In the Heart of the Canyon, by Elisabeth Hyde
More Than It Hurts You, by Darin Straus

Tuesday Thingers, hosted at Wendi's Book Corner: "Updating Books in a Hurry!"

Wendi says:

Last week I was looking for a quick way to update some tags on Library Thing, so I went to my 'Your Library' tab and started looking at the different views. I accidentally clicked on the covers link and viewed all my books simply by their cover. I decided to click on one to add the information I wanted to. . . after adding some tags and hitting the save button, I was AMAZED that I was taken right back to my cover list! I was then able to click on a few other pictures to add some more tags quickly and easily.

I thought I'd share this in case anyone was not aware of how quickly you could edit your existing book information simply by going to your book list. :)

Questions: Were you aware that you could edit the book details from the cover images under Your Library? Do you have a quick way you like to update books that are already in your library? Do you have any topics/areas you'd like to explore on Tuesday Thingers or general blog/book topics for the coming weeks?

My Answer:  I don't think I was aware of that functionality in LT, because I usually prefer to use the List view for my library; there are certain items you can update right there without going to the book itself at all. But I tried out Wendi's tip, and it's pretty cool. When you click on a cover, it opens up a pop-up window with the links that will take you to the book details and editing screens. I'm not sure it's faster, but it is effective, and it does give you a different perspective on your collection.

If I'm updating info for a book I've recently added to my library, the link may still be in the "recently added" section of my LT home page (if you don't have that module on your home page for some reason, I highly recommend adding it; click the "customize this page" link near the top of the page, next to your name and profile picture); in that case, I go directly to the book info from there. If I'm not sure exactly how long I've had the book, or I know I haven't done anything to it recently, I'll use the search box to find it quickly rather than comb through my collections. Generally, I find editing and updating in LT pretty painless, once I locate the book I'm looking for.

Booking Through Thursday: "Recent Fluff"

btt button
What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?
The obvious response to this would be something "chick-litty," but I actually haven't read all that much of it this year, and what I have read hasn't been exactly cotton candy. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown and Jessica Shattuck's Perfect Life weren't particularly heavy reading, but they both had statements they wanted to make about contemporary upper-middle-class society; I don't think either of them was entirely successful, but for me, the intent takes them both out of the "fluff" category. I enjoyed Certain Girls, as I've enjoyed all of Jennifer Weiner's novels, because - pink covers aside - I don't consider her books to be lightweight. They're fun, and funny, but they've got some depth.
Having given it a little more thought, I'd say that my lightest recent read is probably as far from chick-lit as you can get, given that it re-interprets a Shakespearean tragedy. But when Christopher Moore takes on King Lear in Fool, tragedy becomes pretty darn funny.

Friday Fill-ins #139


1. He was a two-bit player in a one-horse town. (I have no idea what I mean by that, but I like how it sounds!)

2. The resumption of normal - that is, awful - commute traffic is what I look forward to with the most dread this time of year.

3. My best friend has to put up with a lot.

4. I hope it won't upset you if I try to be honest with you.

5. Appearances can be more important to some people than the facts.

6. The last person I gave a hug to was Spencer (when he said goodnight).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to ??, tomorrow my plans include ??? and Sunday, I want to ????
(I'm not actually sure what's going on this weekend, but I'm taking today and Monday off from work. Things are slow at the office right now, and I have lots of blog and BBAW stuff to do!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I keep meaning to read that, but I just haven't yet (WG 2009-32)

This Weekly Geeks assignment definitely hit close to home. Ruth asked:
I think just about every reader has a least one book that they've been meaning to read for awhile (months or even years) but, for one reason or another, they just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe it's a book a friend recommended last year, or a title you've flirted with in a bookstore on more than one occasion, or maybe it's a book that's sitting right there on your bookshelf, patiently waiting for you to pick it up -- but the thought is always there, in the back of your mind: Why haven't I read this yet?

This week, tell us about a book (or books) you have been meaning to read. What is it? How long have you wanted to read it? And, why haven't you read it yet?
In my case, it's any or all of the above. The 230 books in my "to-read" collection on LibraryThing are all in that last category - waiting patiently to be picked up. (I'm not even going to discuss the wish list right now.) Some have been waiting there a long, long time. And since I've done several reviews and purges of my shelves over the years - exercises that have forced me to admit that there were some books I was no longer sure I wanted to read after all - and these books have stayed, apparently I do still want to read them. But let me get back to those in a minute.

America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon StewartThe first category includes a few books that are actually in my house, and have been read by my husband. In some cases, he's read them more than once, while I still haven't managed to get to them at all. The first item on that list is probably America (The Book), by Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show. I've owned a copy since it was first published in 2004, so parts are a bit dated now. My son read it during his Christmas visit that year, and told me I had to read it. During the first summer that Tall Paul and I were dating, he read a bit of it nearly every time he was at my apartment - and told me I had to read it. He read it again earlier this year - and again, told me I had to read it. My main excuse for not getting to it during the last couple of years has been having too much else to read, some of it with actual deadlines. Aside from that, I think part of my procrastination is due to aesthetics - it's supposed to be a parody of a textbook, and it looks and feels like one. It's bulky and hard to carry around, and the print is small. It will be hard to get comfortable to read this one. (I didn't say my excuse was a good one.)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
I think the oldest resident of TBR Purgatory at this point is Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, which I already owned in paperback when I moved out to Southern California in 2002. Ironically, I was very anxious to get my hands on it at the time, but I haven't been able to bring myself to pick it up and read it - but I haven't given up on the prospect, either. I think that at this point, I'm a bit intimidated by it; and as time goes by and critical opinions have suggested it may have been a bit overrated, I'm a little afraid of being disappointed by it.

"So many books, so little time" really is a big part of why I haven't read a lot of the books hanging around my house. And honestly, sometimes it's a case of "I'm just not that into you - at least not right now;" the timing just doesn't seem right. Sadly, the reasons (excuses?) for my not having read a particular book yet are rarely more compelling than that. What are yours?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From my Inbox: Eats, Shoots and Leaves edition

It's been awhile since I've posted something that came via e-mail, so here's one that came in from my mother-in-law yesterday. I don't think it's new - I think I've seen some of these floating around before - but the humor generated by careless grammar and punctuation never gets old. Always remember that spell-check is no substitute for good old-fashioned proofreading! (The commentary came with the e-mail. I've written nothing for this post except for this little introduction.)

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter  
      A reader called the editor about this one. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible! They put in a correction the next day.   

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says   
       And in other news, the sky is blue.

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers   
       Now that's taking things a bit far!   

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over   
       What a guy!    

Miners Refuse to Work after Death  
      Good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's! 

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant   
      See if that works any better than a fair trial! 

War Dims Hope for Peace   
        I can see where it might have that effect! 

 If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile  
       This just in...water is wet.

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures   
       A follow-up story...water is STILL wet.

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide   
        They may be on to something! 

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges   
      You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?  

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge   
     He probably IS the battery charge! 

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group   
       Weren't they fat enough?! 

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft   
        That's what he gets for eating those beans! 

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks   
       Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half   
       Chainsaw Massacre all over again!  

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors   
       Boy, are they tall!   

And the winner is....  
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead  
     Did I read that right? 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Writers or Actors - who gets you to watch? (Weekend Assignment #281)

In this Assignment, Karen has asked what lures us to watch what's onscreen - the people we see there, or the ones behind the scenes.
Weekend Assignment: #281: Who has a greater impact on your decision to go to a movie or watch a tv show, the actors you see on the screen, or the behind the scenes writers, producers and/or directors?

Extra Credit: Who is your favorite actor?
I've said it before, and here's another chance to say it: I really have trouble with questions that ask me to name my one favorite anything. I honestly don't think I have a favorite actor these days, since I can't think of anyone whose film or TV appearances are always must-sees for me. It depends on what they're appearing in - if the project itself doesn't grab me, I'll probably give it a pass.

Given that answer to the extra-credit question, it seems like my answer to the first question would be the "behind the scenes" people...and if I think about it a little more, that's probably right. Since I spend most of my non-watching time reading, it makes sense that I would have an affinity for the people who create the premises, develop the settings and themes, and put the words in the characters' mouths. The actors bring those characters and words to life, and when the part is cast just right - when you truly can't imagine someone else in the role - they're integral to the project. But without the writers, producers, and directors - who sometimes overlap in two or even three of those roles - there would be no project in the first place.

There's a reason that Hollywood promotes movies and TV shows as "from (award-winning) director so-and-so" or "from the team who brought you such-and-such" or "the fourth film from writer/director whatshisface" (which, come to think of it, is about the only time the "writer" part gets mentioned - not fair!). It refers to a track record, and provides an easy marketing hook. If the potential audience is familiar with the work previously associated with the creative people behind the show, it's a quick way to intrigue them - or help them decide quickly that this one's not for them. Granted, past performance is no guarantee of future results, in entertainment or anything else. Aaron Sorkin created Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but it was definitely not the second coming of The West Wing; still, those of us who loved The West Wing are likely to at least give any new efforts of his a chance. Dedicated Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will check out pretty much anything Joss Whedon is involved with. And while I was dubious about the entire prospect of the new Star Trek movie at first, I was willing to put my faith in J. J. Abrams. (My son Chris, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction; he still has not forgiven the last couple of seasons of Alias, so his expectations were very low. A track record can cut both ways.)

Overall, I'd say the story has more to do with my decision to see a particular movie or watch a certain TV show than anything else. Since that comes from the people behind the scenes - not the ones acting it out in front of the camera - they're the ones who bring me in. What about you?

As always, the Weekend Assignment is hosted by Karen Funk Blocher at Outpost Mavarin.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another "Meme of 15:" Movie time!

Following up the "15 Books That Will Always Stick With You" meme (I posted mine in a TBIF/Booking Through Thursday response in June), it's time to go to the movies! The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Both my husband and my sister tagged me for this on Facebook, but they know I'm answering it here instead (although my posts do feed over there too, so maybe they'll let it count).

These movies are in no particular order of preference (except for the first one), and they may seem like an odd mix, but they're all movies that have stuck in my memory - and mostly for good reasons.
  1. The Princess Bride 1 (and if you didn't already know where this movie would be on my list...clearly, we have never met before)
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring/The Return of the King (slight cheat, but not as much as if I'd listed all three of them!) (Besides, The Two Towers honestly isn't as "sticky" for me, so it wouldn't be fair to include it)
  3. Star Wars (or, as we are forced to refer to it today, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - but having seen it in a theater during its original release when I was 13, it will always be "the first one" to me)
  4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (because I still want to name a dog Indiana - and because this should have stayed "the last one")
  5. Airplane!1
  6. The Blues Brothers1
  7. A Christmas Story1, 2
  8. The Wizard of Oz (to be honest, I haven't watched it in years - but I watched it so many times as a kid that it's ingrained, and I'm not sure I have to see it again)
  9. Casablanca (my favorite "classic" movie, and my husband's all-time favorite movie, period; we watched it again earlier this summer, and they really don't make 'em like that any more)
  10. Some Like It Hot (and I like it very funny)
  11. Little Shop of Horrors (the musical version)1
  12. Almost Famous (if I have to choose a top-favorite film of the last ten years, it's this one - great story, great music, great heart)
  13. Titanic (everyone should get to include a "don't judge me" item on a list like this - this one's mine)
  14. Breaking Away (this one's for my sister - it was on her list too)
  15. Monty Python and the Holy Grail1
1Regularly and excessively quoted by myself and various family members - occasionally, the source of an entire conversation

2Does it count as a "holiday tradition" if it's only four years old? When the family itself is only that old, then yes.
The first two movies on the list were even part of Tall Paul's and my wedding reception:

All of the tables had names instead of numbers, and the names were those of famous movie and TV couples. We kept this one for our own table.

Bilbo and Frodo couldn't make it to the ceremony, but they sent their sword Sting to help us cut the cake (and didn't even ask us to save them a slice! Too bad - it was an excellent cake.)

Consider yourself tagged, and play along!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weekend Review: travels across the blogiverse this week

Random self-promotional updates

I mentioned this in yesterday's TBIF post too; I'm part of the team that's helping out behind the scenes with preparations for Book Blogger Appreciation Week*, and the next couple of weeks are going to be in high gear for that. If I go missing for a bit over here between now and early September, it's BBAW's fault. I know; I always say things like that and then I don't disappear after all, but this time I really think I mean it! (Hey, how can you miss me if I won't go away?)

*Last night, I learned that I received one more BBAW Award nomination - Best Commenter! And that one does not go through a panel, so I will be asking for your votes between September 7 and 12! (Every little bit helps, but I know who deserves to win that one...and she's a regular commenter here.)

Anyway, posting during the next couple of weeks may be much less frequent than usual, in the interest of preserving a sliver of my sanity (not that I have much more than that anyway). Maybe I shouldn't worry so much about it, though; according to this, blog post frequency isn't that important any more.

New Arrivals in my Google Reader
NONE - can you believe it? It's been one of those weeks where I've barely kept up with the blogs I already read, so never mind discovering any new ones!

Dispatches from across the blogiverse

Contributors to the regional blogs in the Silicon Valley Moms Group explored the topic of health care this week (I had a few words to say about it), but we're certainly not the only ones thinking about it these days. For example - two colonoscopies, two very different bills; also, an American birth in a London hospital

"Schoolhouse Rock" for grown-ups: MOMocrats launches Wonk 101, a multi-part primer on the legislative process; also, ten commandments for politicians

New advertising opportunities meet an old line of work

Differing approaches to parenting are highlighted by differing reactions to remarriage

Maybe you can't go home again, but maybe you really don't need to

Two kinds of people: grateful and snarky - or, just a little snarky about "gratitude"

It's just talking...

Granted, I was a bit disillusioned that my university's Job Placement Office didn't actually "place" you in a job - but then I realized that getting a job was my job. Apparently, the graduate who is suing her college because she's still unemployed doesn't quite get that...(original news story)

Define "flirting."

College football fans (are there any of you here??): Left Field Bluffs' SEC preview (disclosure: the blogger responsible is my son Chris, Tennessee '07); the world according to this year's incoming college freshman class

A long overdue honor: congrats to the Mythbusters as "Nerd Men (and Woman) of the Month"!

"Highway Robbery," via Not Always Right:
Gas Station | Australia
(A customer comes to the gas station register and hands me his credit card immediately.)
Customer: “I was looking at the liters display instead of the price.”
Me: “Yeah, I hate when that happens. Let’s see what your total is.”
Customer: “Well, I shouldn’t have to pay anymore than the $20 I wanted to put in.”
Me: “Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that.”
Customer: “That’s bulls***! I’m just going to drive off! Good luck getting your money!” *drives off without paying*
(I call the police who arrive ten minutes later, which is coincidentally when the customer returns–in his haste to drive off, he had forgotten to take back his credit card.)
Customer: “You stole my credit card, you a**hole!”
Me: “Just give me a second sir. I’m in the middle of reporting a drive-off to these police officers.”
Customer: “Haha! So I’m not the only one to do a drive-off from here?”
Police: “Today you are. Please come with us, sir.”
It's Back - the Blogthings Quiz of the Week!
You Should Watch a Drama

You are thoughtful, philosophical, and introspective. People fascinate you.
You crave drama in everyday life, and it's probably better for you to sometimes get it from a movie!

You're the type of person who can talk for hours, and you never mind a movie that's heavy on the dialog.
You analyze every aspect of your life, and you like a movie to provoke you a bit. You rather be disturbed than feel nothing.

What Kind of Movie Should You Watch Tonight?

We'll need to start it early, though, or I'll fall asleep before it's over!

Enjoy your weekend - there's not much summertime left!

Friday, August 21, 2009

TBIF: Thank book/blog it's Friday! This week in bookery

BOOKKEEPING: The Reading Status Report

Book reviews posted:
Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Currently reading/Upcoming reviews:
The Weight of Silence: A Novel, by Heather Gudenkauf (for TLC Book Tours, scheduled for September 1)

Teaser: "Petra was explaining to Fielda and me how their first grade classroom conducted experiments on how far those little plastic sports cars, Hot Wheels, I think they are called, could travel, when we came across the Clark family huddled in a small, out of the way corner of the school building. Griff Clark's face was purple with rage as he berated Calli and Antonia." (page 209, ARC)

...and right now, everything else is on hold. I've volunteered to help out behind the scenes with some of the preparations for Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)*, and the next couple of weeks are going to be very heavy on that, so once again, book-reading and reviewing may fall to the wayside for a little while. And yes, I see the irony.

New additions to the LibraryThing "To Read" collection:
For me -
The Sister,
by Poppy Adams

Books added to the wish list:
The Day the Falls Stood Still, by Cathy Marie Buchanan

*It's an Honor Just To Be Nominated; or, speaking of BBAW...

Thank you to everyone who nominated The 3 R's for Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards! The blog was nominated in three categories (and no, I did NOT nominate myself for anything! Sadly, I never got around to nominating anyone at all, so I hope some of my favorites were nominated by other people and make it to the voting round):

Most Chatty ("This blogger has a very 'chatty' style. You feel like you could be sitting together, sipping wine, and chatting about life.")
Most Concise ("This blog gets its point across clearly and efficiently - it tells you just what you need to know.")
Best Writing ("It’s not just what they say, it’s how they say it. This blog is almost as enjoyable to read as the books (and anything else) it talks about.")

All nominated blogs will go through a "short-listing" process in their categories during the next couple of weeks, with the finalists announced and voting opened on September 7. The awards will be presented during BBAW (September 14-18). I don't know if this blog will make it to that round - the competition is awesome! - but I'm thrilled to be in the running. Thank you for making it happen! (If I DO get to the finals, I'll be sure to beg you for votes!)

Tuesday Thingers, hosted at Wendi's Book Corner: "Are you a Groupie?"

This week, Wendi says:

I'd like to take a quick peek into the Groups section. For anyone who hasn't visited the groups section, it is a place that is very much like a normal forum, or a place you can post comments and reply to what others have posted. Some groups are topic oriented, and others are more relaxed. LT has sections for Standing Groups (I think this means that they were created by LT and will always be available), Groups with the Most Members, Most Active Talk, Member Projects, etc.

The great thing about these groups?? If you want to talk about a book or author, there is probably a group or thread available for you to read, join, or comment in. There are even some great Book Challenges (75 Books Challenge for 2009)!! You can read about a group and then read the "threads" (topics/conversations), join the group, watch the group, or recommend it to a friend.

When you join or watch a group, you can have it show up on your home page on LT if you haven't taken it off your settings.

Questions: Have you recently browsed any of the groups? Are you actively participating in any groups? Do you have any favorites?

My Answer: I've joined just a few of the groups on LT - Bloggers, 40-Somethings, and Early Reviewers, although I'm not sure that last one counts for this purpose. Well, my profile says I've joined them, and I'm sure that's true...but I think I've mentioned before that I don't really make much use of LibraryThing's social-networking side. I've never been a big participant in online forums  - I used to lurk the Television Without Pity and BookCrossing boards, but never posted much. Unless someone wanted me to be involved in an LT group for a specific purpose, such as an online book discussion, I don't really see adding them to my social-media mix at this point. There's only so much time in the day - and blogging and Twitter have prior claims to enough of it already.

Booking Through Thursday: "Recent Best"

btt button

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? (Tell me you didn’t see this one coming?)

Define "recently." OK, let's say this summer. These are the books I have rated 4/5 or better since the beginning of June:

The 19th Wife, David Ebershoff (4.25/5) Fiction
The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist (4/5) Fiction (ARC)
Admission, Jean Hanff Korelitz (4/5) Fiction (e-book)

If I have to pick a single "best" from these three, it is The 19th Wife. The rating would seem to indicate that anyway, but the novel's ambitious scope, riveting plot, and thought-provoking premise make it memorable, and it's the title I've been most likely to recommend when people have asked me for book suggestions lately. I convinced my mother-in-law to buy it to read on her Kindle, and she's enjoying it.

Friday Fill-ins #138


Questions this week are courtesy of Janet's friend, Karen and her cousin, Maribeth.

1. I remember, I remember...oh, no, never mind, I forgot again!

2. Dear Diary, I want you to know that I'm leaving you to start a blog.

3. Is that my dog over there in your yard!!???

4. I'm trying to resist the temptation of taking in any more review books for the rest of this year.

5. I'm saving a slice of your favorite cake just for you!

6. If I made a birthday list a couple of days off would definitely be on it!!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include getting some reading done and Sunday, I want to get a good start on the next couple of weeks' work for BBAW!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday (E)Book Talk: "Admission," by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This is the first book I read on my Amazon Kindle e-book reader, and counts for the Read Your Own Books (RYOB) 2009 Challenge.

Admission by Jean Hanff KorelitzAdmission
Jean Hanff Korelitz

book data via LibraryThing:
Grand Central Publishing (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 464 pages
ISBN: 0446540706 / 9780446540704

Kindle edition data via Amazon.com:
File Size: 750 KB
ASIN: B0026772YM

First sentence
: "The flight from Newark to Hartford took no more than fifty-eight minutes, but she still managed to get her heart broken three times."

Book description: For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a Princeton University admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.

Comments: Admission's title plays off its dual meaning - "admission" being both the act of letting something in and letting something out. After well over a decade as an Ivy League college-admissions officer (first at her alma mater, Dartmouth, and then at Princeton), both of those definitions converge in one academic year for Portia Nathan.

Portia's professional life revolves around "travel season," when she visits secondary schools to give presentations to prospective Princeton applicants and answer their questions; "reading season," when the admissions staff is immersed in reviewing thousands of applicant files; and "decision season," when officers discuss and determine the fate of every single applicant in committee. During this particular travel season, one of her visits is to a new experimental school in New Hampshire, where she encounters a former Dartmouth classmate on the faculty and one unusual student who makes a special impression on her; they stay on her mind throughout her other travels, distracting her from the strain in her relationship with her long-time partner, Mark, until he shocks her to attention by an admission of his own. The total immersion of reading season gives Portia an excuse to avoid thinking about her domestic life, while contemplating the files of applicants - including that one unusual student, who turns up for a campus visit along with that faculty member - pulls her in other directions. The approach of decision season finds her being drawn back to some of her own decisions -and non-admissions - in the past, and how they got her to where she is now.

The novel mixes the nuts and bolts of the college-admissions process with Portia's story, and I thought author Jean Hanff Korelitz did this very well. Part of her research for the novel included a stint as a seasonal application reader in Princeton University's real-life Admissions Office; while some of the details may apply more at highly selective colleges than to U of State, there's a lot of interesting insight into what colleges look for from prospective students, and what they do with it. Each chapter opens with an excerpt from a college-application essay, and sketches of the applicants Portia is getting to know through the files she's reading are sprinkled throughout the novel. It's not always clear what they have to do with the main plot, but I found them engaging rather than distracting.

There are a few threads to the story that are a bit more distracting - for me, the biggest one was the sideline concerning Portia's mother Susannah. It's not irrelevant, and I understand why it's there, but it felt bigger than necessary to me. On the whole, though, this struck me as one of those books where the reader has to be patient and trust the writer; most of the elements that seem random at first really do have a place in the context of revealing Portia's character.

I have a passing familiarity with Portia's academic surroundings (I was a faculty wife in my former life with my former husband), and fiction in that setting frequently appeals to me. However, despite that, I saw this as a "domestic" novel; the suspense and drama in the story are of the everyday, character-driven variety, and much of the plot wasn't hard for me to anticipate. I like that too, though, so it wasn't a drawback. But I think one's reaction to the novel depends on how one feels about Portia, ultimately. I liked and related to her, and felt that her personal growth over the year spanned by the story was believable.

I 'm not sure that I've found a new addition to my "favorite authors" list, but I do think that Admission will turn out to be one of my favorite works of fiction this year, although I feel like I'm having trouble articulating exactly why it struck such a chord with me. I knew I wanted to read Admission as soon as I started seeing reviews of it last spring, and hearing Jean Hanff Korelitz speak on a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books just reinforced that. It was on my "waiting for the paperback" list until it became one of the first books I bought to read on my new Kindle, and I'm glad I'm not waiting to read it anymore. (The review of the Kindle experience itself will get a post of its own.)

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blogging with Integrity, part two: what it means to me (and some other people)

(Part One of my commentary on this subject posted here yesterday.)

As I've mentioned before, I take up space among both mom bloggers and book bloggers, but I learned about this through my mom-blogging connections. And while Blog with Integrity was founded to address issues arising in the mom-blog community, that's not the only segment of the blogiverse that gets involved in marketing relationships and product reviews - or the only one who may find it important and helpful.

On a different scale and at a more specialized level, the book-blogging community has been debating some of the same issues - disclosure, transparency, compensation, recognition, responsibility - for quite a while as well...and so, while I was quite pleasantly surprised when My Friend Amy posted that she had signed the pledge, maybe I shouldn't have been. As she mentioned, this isn't a new concern of hers:
"If there's a discussion that's not new to us in the book blogosphere, it's the one about whether or not review copies influence reviews. Should bloggers disclose when a book has been received for review? Etc. so on and so forth, you know the story.

So anyway, one time when this came up, Wendi and I thought it would be cool to come up with a sort of Book Bloggers Code of Ethics, something simple that we could all agree on that would let people know where we stand.

Well that discussion went nowhere when we realized that we couldn't agree on what it should mean.

But the issue keeps coming up and it's certainly being dealt with in the greater blogosphere as well."
Amy also addressed some of the potential concerns and objections to signing on:
"I hold myself Accountable, why do I need a Pledge?-- Well, I'm not going to bring box cutters on airplanes anytime soon, and yet I still submit to a search at the airport. And I'm willing to sign contracts to give my word...why not a little internet pledge about integrity? It's a public unified effort to show that these are standards I adhere to. I don't think I have anything to lose by signing.

I Review all Books the Same Regardless of the Source -- Then signing the pledge shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the more information we give up front, the better. It leaves no room for doubt to grow. I'll never forget a blog comment I read where the blogger stated how shocked they felt when they realized bloggers were getting books as review copies. They felt deceived, even though I'm sure no blogger meant to deceive them. Signing this pledge doesn't negate our integrity, it reinforces it. Besides, the sad truth is that bloggers have admitted over and over that they review books received for review differently. Sometimes they take more care with those reviews, sometimes they are gentler, sometimes they cut certain language out of the review. There is a difference in the way bloggers review these books and it's time we recognized it.

I get that some of you aren't going to be ready to sign this pledge or make this change. I used to feel that it didn't matter, but it has become clear to me that it does."
Amy is not the only book blogger I recognized on the list, but I've seen discussions on other blogs and on Twitter where other book bloggers have come out against signing. I've seen some objections based on the fact that the pledge isn't specific to book blogs...but it's not specific to any blog niche. Blog with Integrity co-founder Susan Getgood addressed this on her Marketing Roadmaps blog:
"While we were in part motivated by recent events in the parent blogging community, it has always been clear to us that integrity is an issue for all blogging communities, not just the one currently being singled out in the media for a bizarre combination of damnation and faint praise."
In the same post, she also commented on some of the objections Amy mentioned (quoted in excerpts):
"Bloggers from all spheres agree that it is time to reaffirm our commitment to blog with integrity.

The most common critical comment was that bloggers don’t need a badge to blog with integrity.

Which is absolutely true. You don’t need a badge to blog with integrity, and if you don’t have it, no badge on your blog is going to give it to you. What the pledge and the badge do, however, is give us a way to collectively reaffirm our commitment to blog with integrity.

We need to do this now more than ever in the short but eventful history of blogging and online communities...

Blog with Integrity is more than a description OF your blog. It is a pledge TO yourself.

To take responsibility for your words. To respect others. To disclose your material relationships. To be honest, with yourself and your readers.

It’s what most bloggers do already. The pledge and the badge are just the tangible symbols that we are part of a community with shared values."
Susan reiterated in a subsequent post that

"Just as some folks like to display their support for causes and political candidates by wearing buttons and putting bumper stickers on their cars and others do not, some bloggers like badges and others do not. All we can say for certain is that the person wearing the button or the blog displaying the badge supports the cause. It is incorrect to conclude that the absence of same indicates lack of support. Or in the case of Blog with Integrity, a lack of integrity.

Some people don’t like badges. Don’t read more into it."
While we may not all blog about the same topics, we are facing some of the same issues and challenges no matter where we focus. Blog with Integrity is one response to that. It's a response to the marketers and PR people who ask us to post their press releases and plug their products as if they're doing us a favor. It's a response to those who send out one-size-fits-all pitches that don't reflect any acquaintance with the blog and its writer. It's a response to the bloggers who cheerily accept those pitches and products and do those favors, without necessarily acknowledging their source, because they want the products and the compensation and the attention - and who have complicated the game for bloggers who don't want to play it that way.

(Me, editorializing again: like the A list, these blogs exist, but I'm not particularly interested in finding them, and if I do find them, I tend not to stick around.)

Some thoughts on what Blogging with Integrity means to me, and to this blog:
  • The desire to remember details about the books I read was my initial motivation for blogging in the first place. Other than participating in a couple of blog tours, which I acknowledged on those posts as the source of the books I was discussing, most of my reviews for the first year here were of books that I personally own. Since the spring of 2008, the reviews posted here have been a mixture of books sent to me for reading and reviewing - by authors, publishers, or marketing reps - and books that I purchased for myself and have read at my own discretion. I expect that mix to continue for the foreseeable future.
  • If I do not specifically state the person or place who made the book available to me to read and review, it comes from my own shelves, and was either purchased, received privately as a gift, or won in a giveaway.  I have always publicly thanked the provider of a review copy as a matter of politeness, but that statement qualifies as disclosure as well.
  • I strive to write the same style of review, and to express my opinions fairly and honestly, regardless of how I obtained the book - after all, you never know who's going to read your blog. Even if I didn't care much for the book, I will do my best to be diplomatic about it, and to explain why it didn't appeal to me (but might work for a different reader).
  • I have reviewed movies here on occasion, but have always purchased my own ticket. I have posted about my family's travels and activities, including favorite restaurants and attractions, but none have ever been subsidized, sponsored, or provided by a vendor. If that should ever change, the source will be disclosed, just as it would be for a book.
  • I have rarely reviewed products here - partly because I'm rarely approached, but also because I'm less interested. Again, if that should change, the source of the product will be disclosed.
  • This blog belongs to the BlogHer Ad Network, which has policies regarding review content on its member blogs. It is subject to restrictions on compensated reviews, and on the type and dollar value of items that can be reviewed on blogs where the ads are featured. These restrictions have not been a problem for me, since most books fall below the dollar-value threshold, and in the rare instances where I have been offered compensation for a review since joining the network - usually a gift certificate - I have declined it.
  • My review policies are posted on the blog with a link in the sidebar.
  • In general, I make every effort to link and credit when I post something inspired by, or expanding on, something I encountered on another blog. In some cases, the blog linked may not be the primary source of the material, especially if it's a meme that's making the rounds or something like that, but I do try to make sure I give credit to the place I found it. If you ever find that I have quoted you without link or attribution, please e-mail me at 3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com with your link and any necessary correction. I would appreciate not being called out publicly, in comments, for honest errors of that sort, but I will edit the post and acknowledge the revision.
I am pleased to display the Blog with Integrity badge on my blog, but it does not make me - or anyone else who posts it - the Integrity Police of the Blogiverse. It primarily means that I am responsible for policing myself and my blog, which I believe is as it should be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blogging with Integrity, part one: the pledge and the practice

The mainstream media has picked up on the debate that's been going on in the blogiverse for quite a while now - the one concerning disclosure, ethics and the interplay between blogging and marketing. As CNN.com states in a recent story titled 'Mommy bloggers' vow to avoid ethical conflicts:
"(M)oms who detail every moment of their domestic lives online produce some of the Web's most well-read blogs.

Many of these 'mommy bloggers' even draw the attention of companies that send them free product samples -- everything from toys to baby strollers to video game consoles -- in the hopes of getting positive coverage.

But to some, these freebies aren't necessarily a good thing. Readers have complained they can no longer trust their favorite blogger's advice. Veteran women bloggers grumble that newcomers sully the genre's reputation by demanding free products and trips. Newsweek.com published an article last month headlined, 'Trusted Mom or Sellout?'"
CNN.com quotes Liz Gumbinner, author of the popular mom blog Mom-101 and editor/publisher of Cool Mom Picks, on the explosion of blogger-focused marketing and a new concept of top bloggers:
"'A year ago, bloggers were rising stars. Six months later, really big marketers like Wal-Mart got into the game and started backing bloggers.

"'That created a new paradigm: An A-list blogger was not the one who wrote the best and had the most influence, but had the most marketing attention and free products. It created a new generation of bloggers who blogged to get free stuff.'"
(Me, editorializing: Yes, the A-list does exist, at least in theory and perception, but it's hard to actually find it, and some of the bloggers who are on it are too modest to admit it.)

This "blogging for freebies" - or at least, the perception that it's happening - has caught the notice of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the CNN.com piece,
"...(The FTC) is expected to vote this summer on new ethical guidelines for bloggers.

While the revised guidelines will apply to all bloggers, FTC public affairs specialist Betsy Lordan told CNN, 'Some of the bigger challenges include the mommy blogger issue and the extent to which the blogger must disclose a relationship with an advertiser.'"
Also quoted by CNN.com regarding the disclosure issue is Susan Getgood, whose Marketing Roadmaps blog focuses on social-media relationships and marketing, and who "believes many bloggers aren't intentionally deceptive -- just confused about what they should disclose":
"'There is a lack of knowledge [about ethical rules]...The FTC did not deliberately set out to confuse everybody but blogging is new for a lot of these women and having that kind of both responsibility and power is new to a lot of bloggers.'"
Susan Getgood and Liz Gumbinner are two of the founders of Blog With Integrity. The others are Kristen Chase of Motherhood Uncensored and Julie Marsh of The Mom Slant; all except Susan Getgood are also associated with Cool Mom Picks, a blog based on moms recommending products and services to other moms:
"We're just a few moms that track down cool stuff so you can stay busy being fabulous. We know cool stuff doesn't make the mom, but it certainly helps make life a little better.

We have a soft spot for non-mainstream products and services, particularly those from indie or emerging designers and mom/women-run companies. We believe you can stay true to your dazzling design sensibilities and still support an entrepreneur, especially one trying to support her family through her work. But we can be found loving on anything that we think is cool, really."
That's the kind of model - personal recommendations, based on experience, from people you've gotten to know and trust - that makes bloggers appealing to marketers in the first place. The chance to test-drive new products and services, and to share opinions about them with people who are actually interested, makes bloggers receptive to marketing outreach (and, to be honest, being on the receiving end of that outreach, and those offers, can be a bit of an ego boost too). Because this is a model that is based on trust and relationships, it really needs time to develop and become most effective - but time is often scarce, and shortcuts have been taken on both sides of the street. (Gena Haskett addressed some of those shortcuts in an entertaining, and pointed, "blog noir tale of content, respect and responsibility" on BlogHer.com.)

As stated on its "About" page, Blog With Integrity emerged in July of this year in response to
"...a spring and early summer of polarizing debates about blogger compensation, sponsored posts and product reviews, an alarming increase in ethical lapses and idea theft, and a growing backlash against poor blogger relations practices, we believed it was time to refocus on integrity.

The Blog with Integrity pledge recognizes that there’s no single right way to blog and more than enough room in the world for different approaches.

What matters is the relationship with our readers. Meeting our commitment to them and to our community. Clear disclosure of our interests so they can evaluate our words. Treating others with respect. Taking responsibility for our words and actions."
The Blog with Integrity Pledge states the following:
By displaying the Blog with Integrity badge or signing the pledge, I assert that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is important to me.

I treat others respectfully, attacking ideas and not people. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own ideas.

I believe in intellectual property rights, providing links, citing sources, and crediting inspiration where appropriate.

I disclose my material relationships, policies and business practices. My readers will know the difference between editorial, advertorial, and advertising, should I choose to have it. If I do sponsored or paid posts, they are clearly marked.

When collaborating with marketers and PR professionals, I handle myself professionally and abide by basic journalistic standards.

I always present my honest opinions to the best of my ability.

I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.
If you normally read my posts in a feed reader or don't actually visit the blog itself too often, you may not have noticed that I posted the Blog with Integrity badge in my sidebar a few weeks ago, and if you check out the list of pledge signers, you'll see me there (way down in the T's; after the founders, the list is alphabetical by blog name). It affirms principles that I'd like to think I've already been practicing in my blogging anyway, so why not make it official?

Not everyone sees it that way, though - and that doesn't automatically imply that they don't believe in blogging with integrity. Some have no problem putting the principles into action, and since their blogs already reflect that, they see the pledge and the badge as unnecessary. There's also some concern about backlash, and that bloggers who choose not to sign on - for whatever reason, including deeming it unnecessary - may be perceived as having less integrity than those who do, regardless of their actual blogging practices. Personally, I'm inclined to think that if you read carefully, you can get a good feel for whether someone blogs with integrity or not, regardless of any badge posted.

Sorry, but I'm not done talking about this...please come back for Part Two tomorrow! (And really, be glad I didn't subject you to the whole thing in one post!) That post will include some discussion specific to the book-blog community and its reaction to Blog with Integrity, so if possible, I'd appreciate comments pertaining to that aspect saved until then.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Call for Volunteers (Weekend Assignment #280)

This week, Karen has called for volunteers to discuss volunteering:
Weekend Assignment #280: Have you ever been actively involved in a campaign or a cause, to the point of doing more than just donating or voting? Tell us about the phone calls, the food drive, the charity walk or other civic-minded work you've done, if any. And if you've never done this sort of thing, why not? (It's okay if you haven't - I'm just interested in the reasons.)

Extra Credit: Do you have a favorite charity? Which one?
I sometimes like to think that the fact I've spent most of my career in the non-profit sector is a form of civic-mindedness in itself. One way to compensate for the essential soullessness of bean-counting for a living is to count the beans of organizations that serve a greater good, I guess. I felt the most strongly about this when I worked for the Memphis Zoo, where my work helped quantify how well it was accomplishing its missions of education and conservation, and I remained a paying member of the Zoological Society even after I'd left the city.

Aside from that, I've posted here before about my annual participation in the Alzheimer's Memory Walk. I'll be continuing that tradition this fall, joining my sister and our families in walking and fund-raising to combat the disease that took our mom from us ten years ago this October (although it began many years before that).

Since I've been active online during the last couple of years, I've sometimes volunteered for activities within my blogging communities, but those really aren't quite what Karen is asking about in this Weekend Assignment question. I'm not sure I'd volunteer to do some of the things she talked about in her own response to this question...including volunteering to take over the Weekend Assignment itself from its founder, John Scalzi, over a year and a half ago.

I didn't discover the Assignments or begin participating in them until Karen took them over at the beginning of 2008. Still, I suspect that, given Scalzi's high online profile, there was a much greater participation rate for assignments #195 and prior, and that a lot of people dropped out when he did, not following the meme to its new home. It's a challenge to keep a meme alive after its founder moves on - I can tell you from experience that it has taken several teams of dedicated book bloggers to continue the various memes and group activities that Dewey started - and Karen has certainly risen to it. Still, we seem to be down to just three mainstay participants - Julie, Mike, and me - so if any of us misses a week, it's really noticeable. Last week, none of us responded to the assignment; I'm sure we each had different reasons (mine were primarily due to five out of six days dedicated to other posting responsibilities), but no one else chimed in, so it was officially pronounced "dud," leading to this week's further pronouncement from Karen:
And if, like this past week, nobody participates, you will instead see an announcement of the demise of the Weekend Assignment. Sorry, John Scalzi, I tried to keep it going. Really I did. But after writing 80-something entries continuing the meme you started, I may have to admit that it's a lost cause. I seem to be running dry on crowd-pleasing questions, and haven't had any good topic suggestions in a while now.
It makes me both anxious and a little sad to feel that this meme's continued existence relies partly on my continued participation, which then begins to seem a little bit less than voluntary. I've contributed topic suggestions in the past, but haven't had any brainstorms in that area for awhile (it's harder than it looks!), and I've issued invitations in my own Assignment responses for readers here to join in, but haven't had any recruiting success that I know of.

I'm in this space as a volunteer, not serving any particular causes other than communication and community. I may not be here all the time, but I'm here when I can be, doing what I can do, and I'm here for the long haul. And I'll give recruiting volunteers for the Assignment one more shot: even though the weekend's over, we have until Thursday evening to post responses on our blogs. Write about your own volunteer efforts in answer to Karen's question, post it on your blog, and leave a link in the comments on the main post hosted at Outpost Mâvarin.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend Review, 8-15-09

Reading, 'riting, and time...and music - that's what I was talking about on other blogs this week. If you didn't stop in and visit, I hope you'll get the chance to go this weekend!

Dispatches from across the blogiverse

The (polite) battle to preserve manners and considerate behavior, and the bad examples that make it an ongoing battle

Considering a few reasons to end a long-lived blog...and a few other reasons to keep it going; the public-or-private decision (blogs, not schools); a typology of the "mommy blogger" shows that one size does NOT fit all

Acceptance, of a sort, of the way things are and the things you probably won't have; the annoyance of button-pushing and "balance"

Remembering a fine four-legged friend

Two years later, it finally feels like home; this year has been the best summer ever

Inspired by a book, two moms talk about a rite of passage for themselves - and soon enough, for their daughters; inspired by excellent service, a long-term customer pays it forward

10 annoying things about being a time traveler's wife; not quite the same type of travel, but lessons from Thailand

Back in high school, sometimes I wanted to be Chrissie Hynde...and when I didn't want to be her (or Debbie Harry), I wanted to be Pat Benatar (second link via Dating Jesus)

Hamlet - or just plain "ham"?

If you need yet another link round-up after you finish this one...well, look over here!

Office supply ESP, via Not Always Right:
Electronics Store | Burlington, ON, Canada
Customer: “I’d like a cartridge for my printer, please.”
Me: “Yes, of course. Which one would you like?”
Customer: “The one for my printer.”
Me: “Which printer is it?”
Customer: “The one that sits on my desk.”
Me: “What type of printer is it?”
Customer: “The one that sits on my desk.”
Me: “Do you know the type or the cartridge number? Did you bring the cartridge with you?”
Customer: “No. It sits on my desk. You must know which one it is!”
Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t. All of these cartridges are for different types of printers, and I’ll need to know what type of printer you have.”
Customer: “It sits at my desk! You have to know! I bought it here last year!”
Me: “We sell hundreds of printers each year. Is it HP, Lexmark, or Epson?”
Customer: “Look, I bought it here! I need a cartridge and I want it for the printer that sits on my desk!”
Me: “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but unless you know the kind of printer you have, I can’t help you.”
Customer: “What horrible service! I’m never coming back here again!” *storms out*

Bookmarks: Reading-related reading

What novels would you nominate for the "Man Book Prize"? Have you read anything lately that seemed to be victim of genre mis-assignment?

The impending death (?) of "shoe fiction" (ah, now I know how to characterize the subset of "chick lit" I prefer NOT to read!)

How does your literary diet stack up? Check out Nat's "food pyramid" of book genres. (I'm a semi-Atkins reader, I guess - the later stages where you're allowed some carbs.)

Why visiting bookstores is good for your health (via Shelf Awareness)

Enjoy your weekend!