Cincinnati, again…

2:58 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Well, this part was a little stressful. It turns out that the plane was fine (I was the back row on the left which has more leg room) and I figured out that I am an idiot when it comes to plugging my headphones into the Delta seats. My previous seatmate on the way out (the surfer/sprawler) must have covered up the fact that there are two fat holes for the audio input AND two little holes above. Didn’t see the little holes last time. Guess which fit my Bose headphones? Yep.

So I got to watch the in-flight movie, which was the movie “Invincible” about some bartender in the seventies who becomes a Philadelphia Eagle. Ethan had briefed me about this one and I knew he said it had good reviews. Mark Wahlberg plays the protagonist and he’s a good actor so I knew it wouldn’t be too bad. I really should never see movies in public, however, particularly ones about an underdog making good. I actually had to clap my hands over my eyes a few times when things got sticky in the plot and I was crying at the end, much to the consternation of my aloof seatmate reading The New York Review of Books. I think I might have yelled something once, but it wasn’t as bad as the time I watched Jaws at a special screening in college and ended up in the person’s lap next to me yelling, “Look out BEHIND you!!!”.

So more packaged snack (I told my husband that aside from my awesome morning French toast I didn’t eat anything that didn’t rustle in plastic first), and the Captain comes on the com letting us know that we’re going to begin our descent soon (good) and that we are running 10 minutes late. Pardon me? Wait. When is my flight to Wilkes-Barre? 7:35 pm. Huh. When are we do to land? 7:10 pm. How far do I have to go? To a different concourse, and I have to take a bus to get there. Uh-oh.

Particularly because I am in the last row of the plane. You know, the last row is where the people get off last. I considered inflating one of those slides from the back emergency exit, but I thought that in the long run that would delay me more. Delta administration indeed. Everyone was moving very slowly (does it actually take that long to grab a coat from the overhead bin? Do you HAVE to put in on in the aisle?) but as soon as I was clear I started running to the concourse bus. A small note here. Despite my perennial proximity to the bathrooms on planes, I actually had a full bladder as I was planning on using the airport ladies’ room which usually is bigger than a postage stamp. So I’m running, with a full bladder, carrying my computer bag (which appears to be gaining weight as I am running) and my stuffed purse, full tilt down the concourse.

I made it to Concourse C to gate seven at 7:29 pm (it’s really a big room with doors to a hallway where the gates are) to find out that the Wilkes-Barre flight has been thankfully delayed by 10 minutes. God is good. This enables me to use the bathroom, call Ethan who was worried about my making the flight, and send fervent prayers to the luggage gods that my bag will successfully make it’s way to the plane in question. (I just had visions of a slow luggage carrier on that slow car that goes “beep beep” when it travels with all the bags, yakking to his fellow handler, “so then I said to her, ‘are you kidding, baby?’ that’s not my speed, if you know whadda I’m saying, heh, heh.”).

A lovely short flight next to the toilet and disembarking at the lovely new airport in Avoca. I got down the baggage claim and was waiting FOREVER for the luggage (it takes longer in Wilkes-Barre than at any gigantic airport I’ve been) when this horrible high-pitched noise started, the kind that makes you want to put your hands over your ears or have a seizure. It lasted for easily 7 minutes until someone figured out what the problem was and turned it off, at which time all the people waiting for their baggage applauded. My bag came down the pike quickly, I phoned Ethan who was loitering in the rib joint parking lot, and went outside.

It was SO great to see Ethan, although negotiating the labyrinth of cars waiting for passengers was a little daunting (what happened to the TSA car nazi’s when we had the old terminal? They thought anyone waiting for more than two minutes was Bin Laden’s brother and sent you on your way.). Not only was my enthusiastic husband there, but my sweet golden retriever Bugsy was there giving my a huge tailway and even a snuffly kiss as he tried to get in the front seat to greet me!!! It’s good to be home.

To the SeaTac Aiport

2:40 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I got up in the dark and readied myself for the day. Most of my packing took place last night, so it was just the last few things I had to take care of packing up. My breakfast arrived (the French toast again, yum - I had to say goodbye, after all) and I spent my time listening to the NPR news on the radio and contemplating the American Experience documentary on John and Abigail Adams that was on PBS last night which I feel asleep watching. It was so well done and I learned a lot I didn’t know about John Adams. I think I’m going to read the McCullough biography we have in the library.

My bill had been pushed under the door and it was thankfully one of those ”just leave your key and you’re all set” deals so I didn’t even have to do a video checkout. I went downstairs and waited in the “living room” of the W Hotel in front of the fire until it was time to head outside and wait for the airport shuttle in front of the Fairmont Olympic hotel. There were lots of people waiting and the shuttle was a little late, but it was a great place to people watch. There were literally scores of commuters passing by, most of whom where disembarking from the dozens of city buses also stopping in front of the hotel. The Seattle buses are the clean hybrid or propane buses so they don’t belch exhaust fumes in front of your face (thankfully). And the people! There seemed to be two categories: the dressed up, impractical shoes person (usually women) or the crunchy, granola, Andean-hat wearing thrift store type (gender neutral and made me feel right at home since it was so Hampshire).

The shuttle finally arrived and it was a burly blond woman who was our driver, who is probably not the happiest personality to begin with (although desperately efficient) but she really got surly when she spotted some guy's golf clubs. Who really travels with golf clubs in January? He better be a pro, and even then, why is he taking the shuttle and not a cab. Is he a golf pro on a budget? Doesn’t this seem unlikely? Anyway, the driver became very unhappy, poor woman, and delivered some choice remarks concerning golfers. They were unfavorable. We boarded the bus and headed to the next hotel. After three stops, we were packed in that bus the way the vacuum-packed salmon is they sell at the airport. Nice and squished, but since it was 99% librarians we all had plenty to talk about. I sat next to a lovely woman who was a retired academic librarian from Baltimore who agreed with me that the Seattle Public Library was a little cold for our tastes. So nice to have an instinct confirmed. We both pointed out Mt. Rainier as we turned to go to the airport. This might sound obvious but that mountain is HUGE. And it looks like a volcano, which I think it is, although probably an inactive one. Note to self, do not live near a volcano, even a pretty one.

We ended up at the departure gates and I discovered while waiting to get off the bus that the Washington state flag has a picture of George Washington on it against an emerald green background. I don’t know why this would surprise me, but it did. I expected mountains, pine trees, apples, but not the head of our first president. I don’t know why but it was a bit of shock.

I checked at the Delta self-service kiosk and OF COURSE my two boarding passes confirmed that I would be in the last rows of each plane. Row 31C (the aisle) to Cincinnati, which will put one row ahead of my flight here, and Row 13B for the ride to Scranton. Yes, that is the aisle across from the bathroom. Yay.

I found the gate fine, although I set off the security alarm. The problem appears to be that I get so revved up about going through the little detector thingy that I bounce. I know that makes me sound like Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh, but it’s true. The guard was a nice woman who said, “Dear, try not bouncing so much while you walk through.” So I concentrated on staying firmly implanted on the ground and managed to not make it beep. Phew.

So I have two hours before my plane takes off. I think I’ll hydrate and snack as a precaution and read my Blue Bloods sequel (ARC) so I’m ready to give it to Ethan. Some of the girls will kill us otherwise if we don’t hand that one off right away. Off to the world of vampires!

Library Meets Industrial Loft – the Seattle Public Library

9:39 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I took a nice shower in the morning with lots and lots of hot water and fresh towels. The hair dryer the hotel supplied, while small, was extremely powerful and would have blown Mary Poppins successfully to her next nanny gig. I decided to forgo breakfast (I really wasn’t hungry) and go next door to the Seattle Public Library. I had fresh batteries and wanted to get some good pictures of this groundbreaking architectural marvel. It’s certainly innovative, but I have to say that I’m glad I don’t have to work there. They’re treasure is their staff – I was met by friendly, welcoming and helpful library workers at every turn. I liked the use of bright, saturated color and it was used well as a juxtaposition to the grey concrete and glass, but the overall effect is still rather cold. I thought it seemed especially strange in the children’s room with asymmetrical concrete beams overhead and grey steel shelving overwhelming the bright patches of color and modern furniture (which I liked). The meeting room level was especially strange – just a bright red mouth that swallows you – and I have to say it was rather anxiety causing. I was getting Amityville Horror flashbacks. But there were lots of little ideas that were great to take away – like the reading room with the glass ceiling overhead on the top shelf. You could actually see my room at the W Hotel from there!

After giving in to my inner shutterbug, I was ready to hoof it to the exhibit hall and collect some swag. I spent about 2 and half hours there (with a 20 minute break for lunch at the Moby Restaurant in the Convention Center – yummy burger) and did lots of walking (gratefully on a level surface). Intelligently, I used the coat check and avoided the schvitz technique while collecting booty from the various vendors who were getting ready to go home and only too happy to let me take 5 pens off their hands. I stopped at the TLC booth and spoke to our representative John Mihalick and managed to let everyone know how totally cool Aquabrowser is on top of your OPAC. I know I can’t wait to get it implemented! I only managed to fill up another box, but having gotten a few more t-shirts at Unshelved, I know it will be well-received.

I went back to the hotel, got some Chai and pumpkin bread at the Starbucks across the street (they really take this Starbucks thing seriously in this town). I stopped down at the third floor to take a look at the Great Graphic Novels for Teens meeting – which turned out to be a cheerful committee (with spectators) getting ready for a dinner break but I picked up a helpful list that we can use for collection development.

After ordering The Prairie Home Companion movie (interesting and entertaining – I hope little Lindsay Lohan stays off the party track and really devotes herself to her craft, as she was holding her own against Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin – put down the Jack Daniels, Lindsay, honey!) and having a nosh, I decided to work on my blog and check my flight information (everything on time, pooh, pooh, pooh). I’m going to work on packing up and getting everything ready for leaving tomorrow.

With any luck, I’ll get a good night’s sleep and be ready to go tomorrow morning!

My God, what time is it?

9:38 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I set the alarm for 5:30 am so I’d have plenty of time to get ready and catch the 7 am shuttle to the Convention Center and walk to the Sheraton. My body is really still on eastern time so it must have thought I had gone totally off my rocker, waking up at the equivalent of 3:30 am and getting dressed. AND was I sore!!! I have isolated the specific muscle involved with walking uphill and it is protesting. I managed to do get ready despite walking like a cowboy and yelping every now and again, and was actually pretty awake, but I think it was just adrenaline. The shuttle came right on the dot of 7 am and chit-chatted with the driver (shuttle drivers are great sources of information) to the convention center. A short walk to the Sheraton and I was at the registration desk by 7:12. I never mind getting somewhere early, but I didn’t have long to wait until Nancy Everhart arrived a little early and pleased to see me there. We were joined by the other members of the Project LEAD advisory board – including none other than Gail Dickinson (whose book on the NBCT process I own) and Debbie Abilock, editor of Knowledge Quest! I kept casting surreptitious looks at these bigwigs of the library world and just soaked in as much as I could. We had a nice breakfast buffet at the Sheraton restaurant and Eliza Dressing (also part of the Florida State University faculty like Nancy) ran a tight meeting that was friendly but productive – my favorite kind of meeting. When the meeting come to the agenda item on marketing, I was able to share my ISS survey information and talk about how private schools are ignorant of the value of the NBCT process as professional development for their faculty. This was well received and I mentioned I’d be happy to help in any way I could to promote the idea. I did bring up the survey data that indicated some obstacles in terms of state certification requirements, etc. But everyone thought it was worth thinking about.

I had mentioned in an off-hand way how I was still so confused about the structure of ALA and even of the AASL division, and Ann Pipkin, from the Alabama School for the Arts, a charter school, invited me to tag along with her to the Red Lion hotel where the AASL Affiliate Assembly was going to take place. I had some vague understanding of the idea of the Affiliate Assembly – state organizations nominate people to be the AASL representative from each state and then regions nominate the representatives from their region (mine is the Mid-Atlantic region) to be the directors of the regions. Or at least I think that’s what the deal is. And the AASL president (who was there) oversees them and listens to the Affiliate Assembly’s recommendations to the board. But it turns out the assembly does lots of work on things called “mega issues” which are, as you might imagine, a really big issue.

Ann was explaining some of this to me, when we entered the room and who spots me, but Laura Pearle, fellow ISS librarian who as also decided to come to Affiliate in order to hear the issues. She has often felt that ISS librarians are at a disadvantage when it comes to this area of AASL governance as most independent school librarians do not belong to their state organization since there isn’t a lot of independent school relevance. This can unfortunately be true of state school librarian associations also. As a result, we cannot be elected to Affiliate or other governance roles at the state level. Since Laura is from New York, I went with her to Region III, our region, and actually sat next to my very wonderful state representative from Pennsylvania. It’s nice that librarians are very open to other people coming to these kinds of events – you never, ever get a “who the hell are you?” look, instead people smile and welcome your input.

The mega issue for today was “how can AASL increase membership?” and I though the facilitator was excellent. He did a nice job of timing the discussion periods and gradually bringing the group through the process and keeping us focused on talking about larger issues and leaving recommendations to the board. This issue highlighted some very good points for people – namely concerns about effective communication in AASL, user-friendliness of the website, a lack of clear understanding about our relevance to prospective members (although everyone agreed of the organizations value and importance), etc. Here I had planned on lurking in this meeting (my usual modus operandi) but of course, it’s impossible for me to keep my mouth shut and so I ended up making some suggestions (hey, they gave me a microphone, you know I can’t resist that) about partnerships with outside organizations that also appeal to school librarians. It was very energizing to see this kind of process (I’m a sucker for process) and everyone had such great insight to give. It was hard to not realize that Laura and I were the youngest people in the room (by a significant number of years) and that at the same time, we were representing a significant percentage of librarians that belonged to the organization.

The candidates for various positions at AASL spoke for an hour or so after the meeting and I have to say that all of these people were intelligent, earnest, sincere people with excellent qualifications and…really none of them were what I would call stellar public speakers. It’s so sad that we don’t have better speakers for our profession (our president was good when she spoke) – aren’t we all teachers? Maybe people are more nervous in front of their peers than in front of kids. I’m going to go with that theory.

The candidates done, I suddenly realized that my body was crashing with the weird time difference and I needed to eat lunch and get back to my hotel room before I become unconscious. I caught the shuttle back to the hotel and decided to actually sit in the Earth and Ocean restaurant which produced the amazing room service I’ve had (for a cheaper price when it doesn’t come to the room). I had the three cheese grilled cheese again and it was so satisfying at 1 pm (or my body was just so screwed up) that I didn’t need to eat again all night! I had a nice nap and called Ethan to see how his Sunday was. After hearing all about his day and telling him about mine, I ordered the movie, Little Miss Sunshine (so funny and poignant, I hope it wins an Oscar), and fell asleep.