Citizens

Why yes, I am hopping mad. Here’s why. #teamharpy

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - 7 hours 12 min ago

Ok, I wasn’t going to write more about this. I felt like other people were doing a much better job, and I don’t have much of substance to add. And besides, writing about this kind of thing is apparently risky business and I’m kind of risk averse. But here’s the thing: I’m mad. So here I am again.

I’m mad because I myself am reluctant to put names into the sentence “So-and-so created a hostile environment for me and other women at such-and-such conference” in a public and googleable place. I’m mad because women like Amanda, who experienced blatant and totally illegal sexual harassment at conferences, are afraid to name their harassers. I’m mad because the sentence “But he continues to be famous and I’m just a small fish in libraryland” is such a ridiculously common theme in these conversations, and such a silencing force in our profession (the quote is from Amanda’s post).

The only men who have created hostile environments in gatherings of librarians that I’ve been part of (online and off) have been big name librarians who are on the keynote speaking circuit. I have seen pictures of their naked crotches. I have seen pictures of their daughters in bustiers. I have heard them use their keynote microphones to talk about tea bagging. And I have heard of them doing even more things of this nature that I didn’t witness directly, like using the phrase “you ignorant slut” towards fellow panelists.

And yet they continue to rise through the ranks of librarians and become more and more powerful. These kinds of things are apparently “all in good fun” and hilarious jokes.

Here’s news for you powerful men and the conference organizers who keep you in business: These things are not funny. I no longer attend your sessions for a reason. And no, I am not a super sensitive little girl who just needs to grow up and realize that you’re joking. I have a pretty good sense of humor, actually. Cut it out.

Looking for a way to help out? Consider supporting #teamharpy with words or money or both, and let conference organizers know when this kind of thing happens to you.

[Edited to add: for those of you who don't know about #teamharpy, conversations about sexual harassment in libraryland were recently sparked off by one prominent male librarian suing two women for 1.25 million dollars. He's claiming defamation because they spoke out about his harassment. Libraryland is in heated conversation, now, about power dynamics, the silencing affect that lawsuits like this cause, and exactly how much of a problem this is, and how prevalent. Right now the message is clear, speaking out is more dangerous than harassing.]

Categories: Citizens

Homeschool Adventure: “Quoth the Raven, ‘Never Sophomore'”!

Winona Media (Leslie Schultz) - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 5:40pm

Raven on our Roof
(September 29, 2014)

It is that back-to-school time of year, and we’re going in a little different direction than we expected to last spring. After taking the SAT last January and touring of mid-western colleges last April, Julia came to me one morning and announced, “Mom, quoth the raven: never sophomore.” She is not a fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic aesthetic (though she’s enjoyed Jane Austen’s gothic spoof, Northanger Abbey). Rather, she was proposing to accelerate her schooling by one year. After a few family conferences, we agreed: Julia is now a homeschooling high school junior.

(Here she is, a few years ago, on the University of Minnesota campus.)

Julia has always loved the academic side of life.  (Here she is, in April of 2000, not quite reading yet, but weighing the narrative heft of  Middlemarch! )

Her assessment of where she stood relative to high school requirements was thorough. Julia created a transcript of high school-level work through ninth grade and compared her accomplishments to requirements for graduation at the Northfield High School. She also looked hard at the admissions requirements at her target colleges. And then, she made some hard (and mature) decisions about time management. To condense three years of math and science into two, she made the difficult choices to put some studies she loves on hold while doubling up on challenging courses, maintaining other core studies, increasing volunteer efforts that call to her, and assuring some time each week for friends and fun.

Tim and I have been very impressed by her work ethic, time management, and general good cheer since Julia began to work her plan in July. We see even more focus…

even when life gets a little messy with all the juggling…

Last spring, Julia set up three examinations (ACT with writing, PSAT, and SAT) for this year. She may add some SAT subject tests in the spring, and is considering Driver’s Ed (!!!!!) next summer. She also qualified for Minnesota’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) last spring, so she is able to take classes at South Central College, a community college in Faribault, where she is now five weeks into a five-credit chemistry class–that occupies Monday and Tuesday evenings for lecture and labs and many hours during the week for the reading and homework. Her priorities include:

Chemistry
Honors Algebra II
Geometry
Latin translations
Greek grammar
French grammar and culture
Chinese
Creative Writing-Fiction
Literature-Jane Austen in the fall; Moliere and Shakespeare in the spring, with Edith Wharton and the American transcendentalists to follow
History-currently deep in the study of how the Swedish communities of the late 19th century adapted to transplantation in Minnesota, and planning to seek primary sources at the Minnesota History Center
Folk Dance and Recorder with Kate Stuart  & membership in the Rice County Recorder Ensemble (RiCoReCo)
Volunteer Work-the Education and Communication Committee of the Cannon Valley Friends Meeting, the Northfield Public Library’s Books for Children program, and the Carleton Arboretum.
Paid Employment-Julia was thrilled to be able to work this summer at the organic farm where we have a share, Big Woods Farm CSA, and she continues one day a week through the end of October.

To accomplish this, Julia has had to give up horse back riding, regular piano lessons, and participation in the Mexican folklorico dance troupe–all things she truly loves. Lest you think it is all academics, however, Julia makes time for sewing, knitting, reading for fun, watching DVDs on ecology and the cultural history of food, making beeswax candles, creating videos with her friends, remaining diligent with dog care (walking, feeding, tooth-brushing, agility training, and general discipline), and having fun with friends. She is certainly busier than ever, but she is also enjoying most moments of each day. It is hard for us (but not for her) to think that she will be soaring off to college in less than two years.

Until another Wednesday, wishing you well!

Categories: Citizens

Doing it Wrong?

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 4:17pm

Two students have come to me in the last week saying that they listened and understood while taught how to navigate the MLA International Bibliography, but then when they tried it themselves, nothing seemed to work.

This tells me two things. First, MLA is hard. Second, I’m teaching it wrong.

There are caveats, of course. One of them being that my “research for compsing seniors” instruction session is rapid-fire review of things they’ve hopefully learned in lower level courses, plus advanced techniques they’ll need now more than every before. This is the one class where covering a bunch of stuff quickly matters to me (rather than experimenting and playing with a thing or two in class).

On the one hand, perhaps these and similar caveats really do mean that I should be doing lecture/demo, having them do the “workshop” portion of a hands-on class outside of class, and then wrap up with me one-on-one, just as they’re doing. On the other hand, maybe I’m using this as permission to rely on the less difficult instruction format of lecture/demo when really I should be working at finding an efficient hands-on approach to that session. Or maybe I need to rethink the approach of my lecture/demo.

So many options, so little clarity. All I know is that these students didn’t learn what I wanted them to learn, and that’s got to be at least partly my fault.

Categories: Citizens

Aurora Solar referred for hearing

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 3:15pm

Lots of interesting filings last week — in this case, the Public Utilities Commission has deemed the Aurora Solar application complete and has referred it to the Office of Administrative Hearings for a “summary” proceeding, but more specific and detailed than that:

PUC Order_Complete-ReferralOAH_20149-103265-01

Short version: And they’ve not appointed a Task Force, although there is an opening if people interested in one want to request it.  See p. 4 of the order above. Now how will this be affected by Xcel Energy’s filing looking for essentially reconsideration of their resource plans and acquisitions:

Xcel Compliance Filing_CN-13-606_20149-103251-02

Here’s the Application:

App_20147-101312-02-1

The files with the maps are TOO LARGE to post, so here are links, I’ve got them in two pdfs, but there there are many broken down.  Just go to the docket via PUC SEARCH DOCKET LINK, and then search for 14-515 (“14″ is the year, “515″ is the docket).

There was interest and concern here in Goodhue County originally when it was proposed for an industrial park that was developed, with infrastructure in, but not yet constructed with buildings.  Zumbrota didn’t think that was the best use for that area, and I’d agree.  It’s now been sited in a corn field to the north of the northwest quadrant of the Hwy. 52 and Hwy. 60 interchange.  Much better!

It apparently used to be a gravel pit:

Categories: Citizens

Xcel demand down, down, down

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sun, 09/28/2014 - 10:47am

I’ve been saying this for so many years, that electric demand is down, down, down, and instead, Xcel Energy (and all the others) have been saying it’s going UP, UP, UP (even though Mikey Bull said years ago that they wouldn’t need power for a while), and they’re applying for and getting Certificates of Need for all these permits for utility infrastructure that are obviously designed to market and sell the surplus, and the Public Utilities pretends to be oblivious (I say “pretends” because I cannot believe they’re that unaware and uninformed.).

This is a must read:

Xcel Compliance Filing_CN-13-606_20149-103251-02

Here’s the short version from Xcel:

2024 is expected to be about what it was back in 2007, the industry peak year.  DOH!  But note this — there’s a “small capacity surplus in 2016.”  DOH!

And given the surplus which we’ve known has been present and looming larger, that’s why they then ask for withdrawal of the Certificate of Need for the Prairie Island uprate because it isn’t needed (and really, that was just what, 80 MW or so?  Or 80 MW x 2 reactors, 160 MW?).  If they don’t need that small uprate, why on earth would they need so much more?

But what do I know…

Hollydale Transmission Line was clearly not needed, and they withdrew that application…

CapX 2020 transmission was based on a 2.49% annual increase in demand, and for Hampton-La Crosse in part supposedly based on Rochester and La Crosse demand numbers, yeah right, we know better, but that was their party line.  Again, DOH, it didn’t add up to needing a big honkin’ 345 kV transmission line stretching from the coal plants in the Dakotas to Madison and further east, but who cares, let’s just build it…

ITC MN/IA 345 kV line — the state said the 161 kV should be sufficient to address transmission deficiencies in the area, but noooooo, DOH, that wouldn’t address the “need” for bulk power transfer (the real desire for the line).

Here’s a bigger picture of the bottom line (I’m accepting this as a more accurate depiction, not necessarily the TRUTH, but close enough for electricity), keeping in mind that these are PROJECTIONS, and that they’re adding a “Coincident Peak adjustment” which should be included in the “peak” calculations):

Notice the only slight reduction in coal capacity, just 19 MW, nuclear stays the same, a 320 MW decrease in gas, a 128 MW reduction in Wind, Hydro, Biomass, which I hope includes garbage burners and the Benson turkey shit plant , slight increase in solar of 18 MW, and Load Management also a slight increase of only 80 MW.  This is Xcel Energy with its business as usual plan, which has to go.  We can do it different, and now is the time.

Will someone explain why we paid so much to uprate Monticello, and paid to rebuild Sherco 3?

From the archives:

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

October 20th, 2009

2012 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment

May 7th, 2013

PJM Demand is DOWN!

November 15th, 2012

Transmission? It’s NOT needed!!!

October 18th, 2012

Xcel shelves projects, admitting demand is down

December 3rd, 2011

Categories: Citizens

Habit of Writing

Myrna CG Mibus - Idyllwild - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 3:31pm
I have not been in the habit of writing for quite some time but a couple of weeks ago I created a writing schedule to help me get back in the habit. I drew it out on a big piece of paper - it shows my work hours (I work four mornings a week as an educational assistant with special-ed preschool children) as well as my evening commitments. After work and my evening things, I don't have a ton of time left for writing but I managed to block out three to four afternoons per week to write. The schedule needs to be pretty fluid as I didn't allocate any time to do things like eat, do laundry or exercise. Those tasks of daily living can sure take up a lot of time but my hope is that I still keep my afternoons more or less free for writing.
So far, I've managed to stick to my writing schedule pretty well. I used to have the tendency to go back to sleep after getting the kids on the bus in the mornings. I need sleep, of course, but my morning job is helping me switch my schedule so I go to sleep earlier instead of sleeping away the mornings. With my new schedule,  I get Ryan up at 6:20 (Owen wakes Rose at 5:45) and get the kids to the bus by 6:55. Since I'm already up and at 'em, I take the dog, Rocket, for a 15 minute walk then I shower and get ready for work. I'm at work by 8:30 four mornings a week and done by 11:45. After work it's lunch and then I have time to write for a bit before the kids get home from school. I really like that the morning work schedule allows me time to write in the afternoon - my favorite time to write!

I found a great blog post at Write to Done titled How to Create the Habit of Writing. The post was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and has ten tips on making writing a part of your routine. I found the post helpful and though I would share it with you!

Click on the image below to read How to Create the Habit of Writing or click HERE.


Categories: Citizens

Of information sharing and of peril

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 1:30pm

CC-BY-ND by ABitMadInTheHead

It’s been an emotionally tumultuous month in my professional life. My profession is all about making information accessible and about encouraging the responsible use of that information. Most of the time this feels like an uncomplicated position to take. Some of the time, it feels impossible or even dangerous. Here are three vignettes that come to mind.

Libraryland is currently wrestling with news of Joe Murphy’s 1.25 million dollar defamation lawsuit against two librarians who spoke publicly about his (long-standing) reputation as a womanizer. Barbara FisterMeredith Farkas, and Laura Crossett have all written excellent, thoughtful pieces about this issue, so I won’t even try to recreate that here. What I will point out is that they make it clear that sharing information about sexual harassment seems to be off limits in our society. If nobody can speak out, it’s no wonder that harassment continues to run rampant through our society, but speaking out is hard. And right now we’re coming to grips with exactly how hard it can be.

Yesterday I was pointed to a change.org petition from one of my institution’s now-former students. Her claim is that she is being punished with expulsion as an indirect result of calling for help and thus sharing the information of her roommate’s drug overdose. I don’t know any of the students involved, or any information beyond what’s in the petition and in this morning’s student newspaper report, but it’s clear that this incident is sitting right in the center of issues about the relative social benefits and perils of sharing compromising information.

Finally, and on a much less dire scale, my own blog is a continuous example of decisions to share and not to share. I write less often than I once did in a large part because I’m in many more leadership positions than I was before, leaving me feeling uncomfortable sharing some kinds of information for fear of losing the trust of people I work with, not because I have bad things to say but simply because I don’t own these groups’ ideas so they may not be mine to share, and people may not share ideas with me if they feel like I might report things prematurely.

Responsible transparency is hard. It has always been hard. And while the three examples that are bouncing around in my head right now have very little else in common, they’re reminding me pretty forcefully of how unendingly difficult it is to manage appropriate balances of transparency and secrecy. There are very real dangers associated with NOT speaking out. (Well, there’s nothing life-threatening about me deciding not to blog about some committee I’m running, but it might be a slight disadvantage to other people who will then reinvent the same wheels.) I only wish there weren’t also real dangers associated with speaking out. I wish our professional mantra about information wanting to be free weren’t so fraught in real life. Give me a straight up copyright or licensing conundrum any day. This other stuff is far more society-shaping, and there is so much at stake.

Categories: Citizens

Writing Space Reboot 2

Myrna CG Mibus - Idyllwild - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 5:13pm
Well, it only took a couple of days before I did another writing space reboot in my office but I think I now have an arrangement that works.

Why move the furniture around just days after my Writing Space Reboot? Well, even though I tried using a floor lamp, I was still having trouble with headaches and eye strain in my newly rearranged space. Terribly frustrating! My gut instinct has been that the issue is the way the light comes through the window and the light above my desk so I did some troubleshooting on how the light hit me in my old office compared to my new space and brainstormed other arrangement options. Long and short of it is I moved my desk once again and now it faces the window pretty much straight on. A lot of the time I don't need the overhead light but when I use it in the daytime it's not bothering me. In the evenings the overhead light is too bright so I'm using a floor lamp which seems to be working okay.
Now my desk faces the window straight on.I like the new arrangement. When I walk in the door my desk chair is just a few steps in front of me so I can walk in, sit down and get right to work. There's something very good about being able to walk right to my chair instead of having to walk around my desk to get to it. In my old office space I liked the feeling of almost tucking myself into a corner when I worked but now it feels like having my desk straight and super easy to get to is what I need. I have a good view out my window when I'm at my desk and a little shrine of sorts in full view with a fountain, some candles and a plant. I am finding that I am seeking out my writing space now after months of avoiding it. I am glad - and relieved as I was getting very discouraged with how hard it has been to write.
View from my desk - a plant, some candles, a little quilt and a fountain for some white noise while I workI still have some clutter to clean out but I am tackling this bit by bit. A couple of days ago I set aside 15 minutes and cleaned out my overfull inbox. It's a good feeling to get rid of all of the extra papers and to put things away where they belong. There's more to clean up and pictures to hang on the walls. I'll get to it! But not right now - first I am going to pull out my journal and my favorite fountain pen and write for awhile.
Categories: Citizens

Quilts as Metaphors and Dreams

Winona Media (Leslie Schultz) - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 8:16pm

First of all, let me share news of a dream come true: I did, indeed, finish the quilt profiled in my February 4, 2014 post, the one I started in 2003 or 2004. I put in the last stitch just before the equinox and before the weather really turns cold. It is really a pleasure to have a new quilt to sleep under now–and later, too, when the furnace goes on for the duration. As promised, here is a little photographic proof.  I dream under quilts every night, and when I am not actively working on a quilting project I dream of doing so. (If you scroll to the end of this post, you’ll see how I organize my dreams in three-ring binders. Since I do every stitch by hand, I would need to be hale and hearty for another thousand years to make every quilt I imagine I shall, and yet, the dream of new projects never dies.

I have also been thinking about what quilts symbolize these past few months. I respond not only to the sheer graphic and tactile nature of quilts but also to the romance of their history, the poetry of their names, and the satisfying, puzzle-solving aspect of cutting out pieces and making them work. Here is a photo from my office. It was taken about the time I started the above quilt, and the border of the frame echoes for me the appeal of quilts.

I think we all want to get it — life — figured out, to recognize satisfying patterns. As far as that goes, of course, it is a bit of a mirage or at best a moving target. Figure out one conundrum and another one pops up. Finish one quilt and (as with that mythical beast, the Hydra) another dozen projects rise up and ask for attention.

The poet in me enjoys the names of quilt patterns, and the novelist is intrigued by the stories implicit in the names, in the lives of those who imagined and made the quilts and those who lived and died depending upon them. Today, I thought of the names of the quilt patterns I have already made. Here is a partial list:
Bear Paw
Maple Leaf
Drunkard’s Path
Anna Dancing
Tumbling Blocks
Postage Stamp Baskets
Moon and Stars
Santa Fe Fiesta Plate
Grandmother’s Garden
A Walk Through the Woods
Christmas Windows
Dirty Windows
Card Trick
Noah’s Ark
Seven Sisters

Many people share an interest in the literary possibilities of quilts. At the lofty end (quilt-batting pun intended!) is a work of high literary merit: Margaret Atwood’s Alias Gracea novel I read and have written about.

This work, published in 1996 and short-listed for the Booker Prize is a work of fiction that uses a patchwork of narrative techniques to applique speculative fiction on top of historical fact to (re)create the mystery surrounding a double murder in Canada in 1843. As those of you who have read it will recall, Atwood very effectively uses the names of fifteen different quilt patterns as chapter titles. The action moves (perhaps in part ironically) through “Jagged Edge” and “Rocky Road” to “Young Man’s Fancy” and “Secret Drawer” to culminate in “Tree of Paradise.” Atwood is a poet of great skill as well as an internationally acclaimed novelist. She makes the most of the poetry, mystery, and history of these anonymous, collective, evocative folk art terms as she structures her beautiful, bleak, and demanding fiction. (If you are interested in scholarship on the quilting motif in Atwood’s work, look here.)

Not in the mood for bleak and demanding, however beautiful the rewards? You might enjoy the series of “cozy” mysteries. Some years ago, I bought a number of paperbacks at a quilting shop that has sense closed, and I still enjoy the fine storytelling of Earlene Fowler and her Benni Harper mysteries. This amateur sleuth was raised on a California ranch and remains close to her father and grandmother who still work the ranch, while she has become an arts adminstrator in the nearby fictional town of San Celina (modeled on San Luis Obispo–much as my fictional Sundog, Minnesota is modeled on my home of Northfield.) The intrepid Benni specializes in folk arts; her grandmother, Dove, is a skillful quilter and belongs to a group of quilters; and Benni’s husband is the chief of police. I have enjoyed all of the first thirteen, and look forward to reading the last too soon. Fowler is gifted in plotting and sense of place, as well as secondary characters. She also makes the skillful links between novels that allow the characters to grow and change, to create an abiding sense of a real world. The sixth installment, Mariner’s Compass, won the 1999 Agatha Award for Best Novel.

The titles include:
Fool’s Puzzle
Irish Chain
Kansas Troubles
Goose in the Pond
Dove in the Window
Mariner’s Compass
Seven Sisters
Arkansas Traveler
Steps to the Altar
Sunshine and Shadow
Broken Dishes
Delectable Mountains
Tumbling Blocks
State Fair
Spider’s Web

I haven’t yet read the last two. There is also a companion volume to the series called Benni Harper’s Quilt Album which Fowler co-authored with quilter Margrit Hall. I haven’t seen it yet, but it contains photos and patterns of quilts, as well as bonus material on the characters, plot points, and places of the world of San Celina. I imagine it to be like Brunetti’s Venice by Donna Leon, but more graphically interesting.

Naturally, the most riveting reading in my quilting world are books about how to construct these flat-but-three-dimensional, practical show ponies.

 

Above you see the inspiration for dreams and future projects. I am planning to make a few wall hangings for myself in these crisp fall days, and then begin cutting out a special quilt for Julia’s college dorm room. It is less than two years until she will need it, and so I will have to work five times as fast as I did on this last one! I am looking forward to the challenges of speed and also of design, as she has requested an Amish pattern. Although I have long admired their designs, once bought a small quilt from an Amish farm in Wisconsin, and had several pieced quilt tops “fostered” out to Amish women for quilting, I have never made anything with all solid colors. It will be interesting to see how I do without the siren’s song of pattern to keep me awake.

Have you slept and dreamed under a favorite quilt or tried your hand at a quilted puzzle?

Later this fall, I plan to share one more quilt-themed post–on quilts as gifts. I think I shall wait until there is a touch of frost in the air.

Until another Wednesday, wishing you well!

Categories: Citizens

Channeling Family History

My Musical Family - Joy Riggs - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 5:04pm
Help – I’ve already fallen behind in watching Ken Burns’ new film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS, and now I discover that season two of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. is starting tonight on PBS.

I never even saw one episode of season one! I guess I’m going to have to block out more time in my schedule to watch television. It counts as research, right?

I also never found the time to finish Gates’ four-part show in 2010 called Faces of America, although I enjoyed it very much. All of these shows are right up my family history/research alley. Maybe I can binge-watch this weekend, and get caught up on those Roosevelt episodes, too.

Tonight, the new season of Gates’ latest show kicks off with “In Search of Our Fathers,” an episode featuring writer Stephen King and actors Gloria Reuben and Courtney Vance, who learn more about their fathers’ histories.

Here’s a preview:



Other well-known Americans who will be included in this season include Tina Fey, Ben Affleck, Billie Jean King, Carole King, Anderson Cooper, Angela Bassett, and Ken Burns himself. You can’t get away from that guy these days.

I want to be sure to catch the episode he’s in, based on the brief clip shown in the preview, where he tells Gates: “My mother died when I was eleven. I think the reclaiming of the loss made me an amateur historian.”

The other quote I particularly liked from the preview was from Billie Jean King, who was busy making history herself when I was a kid. She tells Gates, “The more you know about history, the more you know about yourself.”

If you need to contact me tonight, don’t bother calling between 7 and 8. I have a date with Twin Cities Public Televsion, and I will be busy finding out more about myself.

Categories: Citizens

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

My Northern Garden - Mary Schier - Tue, 09/23/2014 - 6:45am

Ready for a long roast in a low oven.

The tomato season is about to close, so about a week ago, I bought a nice batch of beautiful cherry tomatoes. I didn’t grow cherry tomatoes this year, but slow-roasted tomatoes are too good not to have on hand. They could not be easier to make either.

I poured about 3 tablespoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet, then rolled the tomatoes around in it so they were all covered. I salted them lightly and ground some pepper over them. You could also put a couple of cloves of garlic (in the skins) on the tray, too. Then I set the oven to 225 degrees, put the tomatoes in and forgot about them. About six hours later, they were soft and wrinkly. I put some in a jar and covered them with olive oil and put the rest in freezer bags for later use.

Yum!

These are like candy. They make a great addition to a salad or slice some soft cheese on a cracker (gouda is good-a!) and top it with a tomato. Instant hors d’ourves elegance.

 

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Categories: Citizens

Living and working with a chronic illness

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Mon, 09/22/2014 - 9:30am

Last week was Chronic Illnesses week. Last week was also the first week of classes at my institution, so time and energy for reflective blogging was at a pretty low ebb. But perhaps it’s in keeping with the theme of that week that posts like this happen when the poster is able rather than by some goal written on a calendar.

Morning, noon, and night. I can swallow each set in a single gulp! How’s THAT for a super power.

Like many people I know, I live and work while dealing with a chronic illness. These illnesses come in many flavors — mine happens to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A few years ago, my CFS was so debilitating that I seriously contemplated quitting my job and moving in with my parents to be an invalid on their couch for the remainder of my days, and I honestly hoped that those days would be few in number. I had no realistic hope for improvement and no energy to live. Basic things like chewing were often too tiring to contemplate. Breathing was a chore. Work? I was doing my best, but students were beginning to comment that I looked mostly dead, my supervisor kindly removed me from every project and committee I was on in one fell swoop, and my poor colleagues took up more of my slack than was fair (and did so without complaint, for which I will be forever grateful).

Thankfully, things have improved since then. I can’t work the 60- and 70-hour weeks I worked years ago, but I can put in a full, enthusiastic day at work as long as I don’t do anything else that day. I can’t keep a spotless house, but I can keep a functional one if I work carefully and efficiently. I can’t do a lot of galavanting with friends, but I can make some plans and even keep most of them. And for the first time in 7 years, I have hope that I’ll be able to keep up with life and with work.

Because of the amazing support I’ve received from family, friends, and colleagues, and because of the creativity of my medical team (which includes my unbelievably helpful mom), I’m doing ok.

It’s almost guaranteed that you have someone you work with who is living with a chronic illness of some kind or another, and many of these illnesses are invisible to the casual observer. It’s likely that this person is at the end of his or her rope most of the time, desperately hanging on to some semblance of normalcy. It’s likely that this person is scared and feels like a failure a lot of the time, simultaneously worried about receiving accommodations and about not receiving them, constantly rewriting their sense of self.

You really can  make a difference in that person’s life just by being patient, gentle, and kind. I don’t have words to thank the many people in my life who have been and continue to be vital supports for my fragile body and battered psyche. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You have made my life possible in the most real sense imaginable.

Categories: Citizens

Ratatouille Rumble

My Northern Garden - Mary Schier - Sat, 09/20/2014 - 7:30am

For a simple ratatouille, you’ll need onions, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, garlic and herbs.

Ratatouille may be one of the most delicious late-summer garden recipes. Traditional ratatouille includes eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers and tomatoes, but since the dish is essentially a vegetable stew, you could add green beans, yellow squash or anything else that is fresh and suits your fancy.

A while ago, I paid a visit to Sam Kedum’s Nursery in nearby Hastings to buy some tomatoes for preserving. While I have had a decent crop of tomatoes this year, it has not been huge and most of the tomatoes I grew were slicers that have been quickly consumed in salads and on BLT sandwiches. At the nursery, which includes a community-supported agriculture farm, I also bought cherry tomatoes for drying (recipe to come next week) and some peppers, eggplant and zucchini, which looked firm and delicious.

You can find lots of recipes for ratatouille on the web and mine is a modified version of Alice Waters’ take. Feel free to adjust vegetable and seasoning amounts to suit your own taste and veggie supply.

Ratatouille

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 large or 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2-3 colored peppers, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

5 Roma tomatoes, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBSP tomato paste

1/2 cup  white wine (optional, but tasty)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cut pieces about the same size.

Cut up the eggplant first, then salt the pieces and set them in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes. (Cut up the rest of the veggies while the eggplant is meditating.) After 20 minutes, rinse the eggplant and pat the cubes dry. Heat up a large pan — I love my big cast iron skillet — so that’s a good choice, if you have it. Add about half of the olive oil. Add the eggplant cubes in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes. Then, move the pieces around for another 3 minutes and remove the eggplant from the pan. (It will be only semi cooked.)

Add a bit more of the oil to the pan and add the onions. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook the onions for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Push the onion, garlic aside (but still in the pan) and add the a bit more oil to the pan and add the zucchini. Let it sit in one layer for about 3 minutes to get a bit of brown on it, then stir with the onions for another 2 minutes. Add the peppers and stir everything around together for about 3 minutes. Add more salt and pepper if you like and the 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes. Push the veggies to the sides of the pan and in the space in the center, squirt about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Move that around with your spoon or spatula for about a minute to cook the paste a bit, then add the wine and the tomatoes. Stir the eggplant back into the mixture, and let it all cook together for about 10 minutes.

Ratatouille could be eaten as a main course with cheese on top or as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish. The flavor improves upon sitting, so leave it in the fridge a day or so for optimum deliciousness. I planned to take a photo of the finished product, but we ate it all before I had a chance.

What’s your favorite way to eat your fall vegetables?

 

 

 

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Categories: Citizens

Revamping Refresher Training, now with bonus polling

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Thu, 09/18/2014 - 9:24am

Every fall, the helpdesk student supervisor and I lead “refresher training” for the IT helpdesk student workers who have shifts at the Research/IT desk in the library. Usually this consists of the two of us talking to the student workers about responsibilities and rules and then helping them figure out the ever-vexing microfilm reader/scanners. Again.

Needless to say, this always goes over super well, especially from 5-6 during the first week of classes. A couple students engage and the rest try not to fall asleep.

For some reason, I’ve had this mental block where I think of “training” as that boring thing that has to be done but that I try never to do when I’m “teaching.” Training is “here is how,” and teaching is something much more engaged and interesting. Turns out? I was wrong.

This year the helpdesk supervisor said “I want to change it up. We should make it interactive.” And I said, “I’ve been wanting to experiment with Poll Everywhere.” And so we ran an almost entirely poll-based training session, followed by a “microfilm race” (each group had to complete one task on one of the three reader/scanners) and it was good. The only thing that we didn’t cover was having every student touch every reader/scanner, and the students got to engage while also participating in their irreverant cohort culture via free-text responses here and there in the poll. Oh, and they still got paid for being there. So while it was definitely still training, I think it was definitely better.

Categories: Citizens

PUC CoN & Siting/Routing FINAL Rulemaking meeting

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 1:50pm

It’s final… that is, the FINAL meeting notice was just issued, one more go round on these draft rules for Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and Power Plant Siting Act (siting and routing of utility infrastructure) (Minn. R. Ch. 7850).

We’ve been at this for about a year and a half, maybe more, and to some extent we’re going round and round and round.

Here are the September 2014 drafts, hot off the press:

September Draft 7849

September Draft 7850

Send your comments, meaning SPECIFIC comments, not “THIS SUCKS” but comments on the order of “because of _______, proposed language for 7950.xxxx should be amended to say_______.”  It’s a bit of work, but it’s important, for instance, the Advisory Task Force parts are important because we were just before the PUC on this last week, trying to reinforce that Task Force’s are necessary, despite Commerce efforts to eliminate and/or neuter them.  That despite ALJ orders otherwise, the Final EIS should be in the record BEFORE the Public Hearings and Evidentiary Hearings (just lost a Motion to require this last month).

How can you comment?  The best way is to fire off an email to the Commission’s staff person leading this group:

kate.kahlert@state.mn.us

If you’re up to it, sign up on the PUC’s eDockets, and file your Comment in Docket 12-1246.  If you’d like your comment filed there, and can’t figure it out, please send it to me and I’ll file it for you.  It’s important that these comments be made in a way that the Commission will SEE, in a way that they cannot ignore, when this comes up before them.

Categories: Citizens

Older III OPAC due to lose functionality on Google Chrome Browser

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:58pm

Not being a systems librarian, I hadn’t heard about this change until today. If you are a systems librarian, you’ve probably known about this for a while, but it was news to me so I’m passing it along just in case. Also, the usual disclaimers apply about me not actually speaking Server but working with people who do, so I hope I’m not garbling things in translation.

There are three facts that are coming into convergence soon that will affect people using Innovative Interface’s OPAC but who have not signed on for their upgrade to Sierra.

  1. There is a major transition going on in the web security world from an old version of security (SHA-1) to a new version (SHA-256).
  2. Modern browsers are beginning to phase out support for sites that are on the old system. (Here’s some more in-depth information about that.)
  3. III’s OPAC runs on servers using an ancient operating system (Red Hat 4) that does not support SHA-256.

Beginning near the end of November, Google Chrome will start displaying warnings to users telling them that sites on the old system are not secure. In spring of 2015, Chrome will stop displaying those sites. In 2016 all major browsers will stop displaying those sites.

For III’s old OPAC, users will still be able to use the search interface and see results, but if they try to log in to save records, that functionality will fail.

At my library, we have a discovery layer between most users and the OPAC (we use VuFind), and the functionality there will not be affected.

Luckily, at my library we’re also in the market for a new Library Management System.

Categories: Citizens

Writing Space Reboot

Myrna CG Mibus - Idyllwild - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:30pm
Last November, I traded my large office for my son's small bedroom so that Ryan could have space for a full-size bed. I had great hopes for my new office - but even though I did my best to arrange my desk and bookshelves just so, my new office space never felt quite right.

There were little things that bugged me about the space, like the fact that my desk and bookshelves blocked most of my electrical outlets, but there were big issues, too, like the lighting. The space is small enough that no matter where I put my desk it's right under the ceiling light. I found the glare irritating and, to top it off, I ended up getting migraines when I worked. I really have never had migraines and didn't get them in my old office so the headaches were a very odd thing.
On top of the headaches, I found that I was struggling with my writing and felt like I couldn't organize my thoughts or edit my work without a lot of help from Owen. I also pretty much lost enthusiasm for writing and wasn't able to finish most of the stories I started. I guess that sounds like some sort of writer's block. Whatever you call it, it sure wasn't fun.
At the time I moved into my new office, I was also struggling with a lot of life things (an unhealthy job situation that resulted in my resignation topped the list) and I'm pretty sure that those issues contributed to the space not feeling right, the headaches, and my writing troubles. 
My gut instinct was that I just needed to move things around to make my office space more comfortable - a writing space reboot of sorts - and I'd feel better in my writing space. But I never got around to doing it. Maybe I just wasn't ready. Maybe my job and life issues had to stabilize. Who knows? What I do know is that yesterday I was ready to make a change and when I got home from work just after noon I started rearranging my office with the goal of creating a more comfortable writing-friendly arrangement. Newly reorganized writing spaceMoving everything took me a couple of hours and in the process I discovered I have a whole bunch of stuff in my office that just isn't necessary. For example, I have a cool wooden box filled with several three-ring binders but I really don't know what's in any of the binders or why I saved them. Geez, maybe the clutter has been part of why I've felt so disorganized in my writing. Seems logical to me. So I tossed some things and generally organized the rest of the stuff so that my office is generally tidy and clutter free.The quilt I will hang in my office - probably on the wall behind my deskThere's still some boxes to go through, some things to put away and a bunch of stuff to toss and recycle but I have an writing space that feels fresh and new. I am pretty sure that I will need to get rid of the overhead light and get myself a floor lamp to help with the glare. I sure hope that helps my headaches! I also have a quilted wallhanging to hang behind my desk and pictures to hang on the walls. For now, though, I'm going to give this new arrangement a try and see how it works.
Here's hoping the space feels better. If not, well, I can always do another writing space reboot. 

Categories: Citizens

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