Being Totally Wired and thinking of when and if print will really go...

8:33 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

I had a great night's sleep in the Heavenly Bed (they are always heavenly to me) and woke up to a bright and sunny day. I got ready and went downstairs to me my wonderful friend, Laura Pearle, from Hackley School and fellow wonderful independent school librarian. We had an AMAZING breakfast and did some yentaing about people we know and the state of libraries in general. When we finished up, we wanted to go somewhere to work on the outline for our chapter in the upcoming book on Independent Libraries to be published by Libraries Unlimited and edited by the fabulous Dorcas Hand. What better place to work than somewhere with fresh air and maybe a view? Where could we find such a place? Well, just a few feet outside the restaurant, that's where! You can actually see our feet in the picture - we are reclining on two of many chaise lounges set up everywhere around the 7 pools. Being a librarian is really tough sometimes, but we actually got a ton of work done and Dorcas will be happy with us, I think. :-)

When we were finished "working", we walked over to the conference center attached to the hotel and checked in with the School Library Journal Leadership Summit. And we weren't the only "journal" in the convention center - Yoga Journal, a popular read in my library, was also having their convention there (and doing yoga on the beach at the hotel, which must have been amazing) and the contrast between the attendants was quite obvious. The yoga aficionados where walking around in comfy pants and shoes more sensible than the librarians (which was saying something!), not carrying laptops or bags, and would sit around on the floor, stretching. You can see what the beach looked like (the building on the right of the picture is the attached convention center of the hotel).

Laura and I picked up massive amounts of swag and took our seats for the luncheon. There were some opening remarks by Brian Kenney, the editor-in-chief for SLJ and he was followed by a few vendors welcoming us as well. Major applause for Capstone Press for their red beach towel giveaway (so soft I thought it was a blanket) and the Godiva chocolates at the place settings. I heart Capstone, particularly since 5 of those boxes found their way into my giveaway bag (I didn't steal them, people shockingly weren't taking them - what's up with that? You don't know someone who eats chocolate???).

Our keynote speaker, Anastasia Goodstein, took the stage after our delicious lunch to speak about her new book, Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online. Anastasia is the founder and owner of YPulse, a company that presents research and advice about marketing to Teens, Tweens and Generation Y. She was a delightful speaker and we all received a free copy of her book (which I got signed). She presented amazing research and insight into what role technology fulfills in teens lives and I appreciated her non-alarmist approach to this topic. She admitted that often she is a speaker to parents after a cop has come to speak with them and scared the daylights out of them and this puts her in a tough position. Anastasia did an incredible job putting the current views of technology in an historical context (let's face it, jazz music, rock music and the automobile received equally as alarmist press in their day). But what I enjoyed the most was her psychological approach to teens and technology - she made the point that teens are using technology to fulfill the basic psychological needs of their age group, namely to create and play with their identity and to individuate from their parents. The research she presented was excellent and I've got a lot of links to explore and reading to do to fully reflect on a lot of her points.

Of runway delays, Fat Vodka, and how I should be having babies...

6:57 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

I should have known when I saw the group of beer fat twenty-somethings throwing down dollar bills and gambling in the gate waiting area that my destiny was somehow going to revisit them, although I probably would have hoped that it wouldn't happen in a crowded plane.

We finally boarded 30 minutes late (it's not a little disconcerting to see your flight attendants and pilots running onto your plane what seems like moments before you board) and I got happily settled into my seat, 9E between a New Jersey Lawyer (or he was just reading multiple copies of the journal, New Jersey Lawyer) and a woman reading a hardcover Balducci novel. What a nice quiet little crew I thought until I noticed a family in the seats ahead of us with a 3 year old and what looked to be a 6 month old. I knew they were in for a much rougher time but my tolerance for babies is very high (after all, this seemed like an attentive couple) so I was concerned.

I was busy reading my book when the flight attendant approached us. It seems the family with the kids had another member of their party (an aunt I later discovered) who was sitting in row 23 and the flight crew was looking for someone kind enough to switch. I have a philosophy that you should never refuse a mitzvah when it is presented to you, so I volunteered. The woman was very profuse in her thanks and I lucked out with her seat being an aisle seat.

Lucked out seemed to be an attitude to be amended later. Gambling boys were in the row ahead of me and it seemed as if spring break had come several months early. The person (gentleman seems too fictional a word here) was on the phone with his Florida buddy, to inform him of the initial delay. They got on a lovely and loud conversation about how they should all play poker when they arrive and then have "2:30s" which I wondered if it was like elevenses in The Hobbit and I later discovered this fellow was a LOTR fan (the movies, of course, not the books). He was incredibly loud and kept repeating his conversation to his guffawing companions seated across the aisle as if they and the surrounding eight rows had been rendered deaf upon entering the cabin. LOTR guy kept reflecting "Man, I could SERIOUSLY use some vodka here" at intervals, so I nicknamed him "Fat Vodka" and his Tonto-sidekick across the aisle appropriately, "Across the Aisle Guy". Across the Aisle was a bigger yes man than some members of the Bush administration and I think that gives everyone a sense of his level of commitment to Fat Vodka.

We then heard from the captain that while we were moving slowly, we were number 24 in line to take-off (insert groans and vodka expletives here), but everyone settled down the way a large group from New York/New Jersey does which is to degrade and berate the authority figure, i.e. the Captain. ("I just get out on the f*#@ing turnpike whether or not the guy ahead wants me to go!") After about a half and hour, we got another apologetic message from the Captain (who had a charming English accent which was also another feature of the brutal mockery) stating that the airport had been shut down for a half and hour due to bizarre high winds over Teterboro Airport. He said he had never seen such radar readings in all his 23 years of flying and that he'd let us know as soon as we were back in line, but people could stretch and use their cell phones. A massive outpouring of ungenerous emotion ensued with people in bizarre pseudo-British tones saying, "I've never seen wind before!!!" with that mincing tone Americans like to assign to the British whether they have that or not. We did finally take off, thank goodness and people seemed to settle down after they dimmed the lights, kind of like when you throw a towel over a bird cage.

I was busy reading and listening to my iPod (Bose headphones are worth their ridiculously high price tag in my opinion just for the noise canceling) and trucking along in our flight. I was shutting my eyes and trying to sleep periodically and feeling sorry for the flight attendants who had a tough time with the passengers serving the snack. People were really hungry from waiting so long and a little cranky (I had a snack stash in my purse and a big bottle of water - a seasoned traveler, ahem). The flight was a little rocky at points and the drink cart got stuck uphill right before Fat Vodka. An attractive young flight attendant was pushing it and the two of them appeared to enjoy obviously checking out her ass and then guffawing some more with one another. A definite "ewwww" moment. There was only about 30 minutes left to the flight when Fat Vodka decided (this was around 10 pm at this point) that what was missing from the flight was his obnoxious and offensive music which demeaned women played from his laptop and shared with Across the Aisle guy. I let them have one song and a final moment of obliviousness before I took off my headphones and leaned forward.

I said quietly, "Excuse me, guys, I'm curious, how old are you?" Across the Aisle guy got it right away and sarcastically replied, "oh, does it matter?" and I said, it did, because I took care of teenage boys all day long and "They seem incredibly mature compared to you. Do you honestly think that anyone wants to listen your music? Or hear about how you plan on gambling later tonight? Or about how you 'need' vodka? Or witness you checking out the flight attendant's ass? If you could develop an awareness that we've all been able to hear you and you need to be more cognizant of yourself, I'd appreciate it."

Fat Vodka was searching for words but Across the Aisle guy was super sarcastic when he said, "Gee, could you be less offensive?" To which I said, "Yes, can you?" Fat Vodka had found his tongue and chimed in, "You know, if you had just asked us nicely to turn down the music, we would have. You didn't have to be so condescending." I had to do my observational technique - "I'm really sorry if I misjudged you and apologize if that's all it would have taken, but absolutely nothing the three of you have done since the gate at the airport has given me any indication that you have thought for a moment about anyone else on this flight but yourself. Try being a good citizen; we'd all appreciate it." And I snapped my headphones back on.

For all their protestations, they ignored me but immediately shaped up, talking suddenly in a much less "dude!" tone of voice and instead of comparing cheap liquor brands, embarked on a fascinating book/movie conversation centered on baseball. A nice change and I was happy to help.

We landed, and I got my bag (first off the plane) and went to the shuttle. It was after 11 pm at this point and I was so, so exhausted. The shuttle people seemed a little iffy and disoriented so I decided to splurge and get a cab. The cab driver was a friendly man from Haiti who expressed shock and amazement that I didn't like the warm weather and then proceeded to grill me about why I didn't have children. For the 20 minute drive to the hotel, I had to hear about how it was my "duty" to perpetuate mine and my husband's "blood" in the form of a child. Guy was deeply saddened that he and his wife couldn't have a child (she's 41 and too "old" according to him) and so it seemed pregnancy had somehow defaulted to me, which seemed interesting. I did some agreeing, gave him a big tip (maybe they'll do IVF) and entered the hotel.

The Westin is the most gorgeous hotel I've ever been into. I've been at more expensive hotels (although this one is very pricey, I'm getting a great deal subsidized by the conference) but never one that was beautiful and elegant in a rich but understated way. I got my key (everyone is super friendly) and went up to my room. The bathroom, ah the bathroom!!! An oasis in a world of cares, every librarian I spoke with said they had taken multiple pictures of the bathroom and you can see why, right? There is the best makeup mirror ever sitting there on the vanity - it has an inset super magnifying mirror so eyebrow plucking (which is a risk in my dimly lit apartment) is no problem. I literally cannot wait to try the bathtub and actually went through a whole mental dilemma where I tried to figure out how I could get a decent night's sleep and also take a bath for a few hours. The numbers sadly didn't work out so it will have to be a Friday night thing. The little soap is a leaf and the toiletries were really good smelling (the W Hotel in Seattle is the only one to beat them) and I just felt so super pampered.

And the rest of the room was no slouch either. The Heavenly Bed is well named and I love having a sofa!!!

My view of the canal isn't too shabby (this taken the following morning obviously, it was light out by then). After calling Ethan and having him not worry anymore about me, I went into that heavenly bed and fell fast asleep.

Because God wanted me to have lip gloss...

12:40 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

I knew I was going to have problems when the plane, originally designed to leave at 1 pm, didn’t begin boarding until 1:05. It was a full flight and we boarded quite rapidly. I was in the very first row, which is lovely for legroom, although my seatmate appeared to have a unique sense of humor (anything serious was reacted to with an alarming statement followed by “just kidding”, for example, “No I can’t work the emergency exit – just kidding!!!” ”Turbulence? Give me the barf bag now. Just kidding!”). We taxied onto the runway, and then proceeded to stay there for 30 minutes. We finally took flight around 2 pm and it’s about 30 minutes to Newark. With my flight leaving at 2:50, this was bound to be close.

There was a substantial amount of turbulence on the way, and the extremely nice flight attendant was busy handing out Coke cans and trying to help people’s nausea. I was deep into my book and barely registered the bumpiness of the ride, except for sighing with exasperation when the book shook so hard I couldn’t read it for a few seconds at a time. But we finally landed, and after about 10 minutes of deplaning activities (the ramps, blah, blah…) I was in Newark Airport.

I purposely booked the flight through Newark because 1) I’m a native of New Jersey and there’s a brand of slightly rude or blunt customer service which is comfortable to me and 2) the airport is designed so all the major airlines have their gates together. My incoming flight and departing flight were both labeled “Terminal C” in my itinerary so I thought this was a little stroke of genius on my part so I wouldn’t have to go to far.

Ha, ha. I disembarked at Gate 73 at 2:45 and where was my departing flight due to leave five minutes later? Gate 127 – three “concourses” away. Like the devil’s pitchfork, the Continental gates have three “prongs” each with approximately 20 gates. Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong) would have it that I would have to book it across the airport at a jog, towing my wheely suitcase and my extremely heavy extra-large pocketbook with my computer, book, water, i.e. everything heavy. Thinking of the importance of the chiropractic science, I hustled in the manner of an Olympic slalom skier hustling around backpacked toddlers and the sheer dumbfounded staring at the departures screen.

I was just approaching Gate 127 at 3:01, noting with cheer that there was still a plane there, when yet another well-positioned departure screen caught me in the peripheral vision. My flight number was listed next to Gate 96!!! I immediately turned around and started running (I was damp with sweat and my calves were burning – oh, to be an in shape field hockey player or cross country runner now!). Panting up to Gate 96 at 3:05 I was gloating that they still seemed to be boarding when I caught sight of the display behind the gate desk – Flight 166 to Cleveland???

It turns out that my original flight 1610 to Ft. Lauderdale did leave – on time – from Gate 127, but then the display switched to the next flight (also 1610 to Ft. Lauderdale) departing at 5:25 from, you guessed it, Gate 96. Sorry I had done so much running, I bought a liter bottle of water, went to the Continental counter where they got me on the 5:25 flight (thank you Wilkes-Barre airport guy for reserving me a spot!), and went to the bathroom. Now my mission was crystal clear. God meant me to find lip gloss.

I can clearly see the signs. The friendliness of everyone making an annoying situation as pleasant as possible, the ease of navigation in the Newark airport to shops and restaurants, etc. I would have undoubtedly experienced a complete lack of lip gloss acquisition at the hotel in Florida, so here was my quest. Find something appropriate during my new waiting time.

You can’t go on a quest hungry, so I went to the Garden State Diner and had a terrific early dinner of a barbeque burger with good fries and a FABULOUS dessert. Some kind of peanut butter cheesecake with miniature chocolate chips in the cheesecake part, a chocolate cookie crumb crust and a layer of fudginess on the bottom. Topped with a caramel chocolate sauce and crumbled peanut butter cups, this thing was heaven. If this kind of strata can be studied professionally, I’m ready for geology!

The diner was a neat place – very bright and 50’s looking (authentic 50’s not crap 50’s) and they played Elvis music the whole time I was there (pre-dissipated, drug addict Elvis). Every waiter was extremely good-looking, toned and Latino (they spoke beautifully accented Spanish to each other). They were all, my waiter included, very pleasant and attentive but I got the impression that they all went clubbing together regularly in the city. Hmmmmm. I left a large tip and went away feeling warm and fuzzy about that cheesecake!

There are so many stores in the Newark airport; more restaurants and fast food places, naturally, but an astonishing array of stores. I began to get a little frustrated, though. I could get a sports jersey for any New York or New Jersey team or buy a handcrafted reproduction Faberge egg in the Smithsonian store, but what I needed was LIP GLOSS, people, not Thomas Jefferson pajamas.

Finally, I saw in the distance a sign that appeared to say “Pharmacist on Premises” so I knew they’d at least have something from Cover Girl or at the lowest end a colored chapstick. But I had hit the jackpot – it was a high-end pharmacy specializing in all kinds of fabulous all natural products, including a full line of Dr. Haushka products (which are super shee-shee and expensive). There were a ton of attendants in there and I explained my lip gloss dilemma. The young woman gave a very empathetic head nod and took me right to a wonderful minerals-based cosmetics display (and I only use mineral-based cosmetics like Aveda or Bare Minerals)!!!!! I found an incredible lip gloss (Candied Rose, a natural pink) and I got a great lip balm just in case. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

A world without lip gloss

11:26 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

I have a travel checklist of everything I need to travel - medications, toiletries, cables for electronics - detailed out. I even write down my outfits for each day and backup separates so I don't forget ANYTHING. Yet, despite my anal retention, I managed to forget something this trip. Lip gloss.

Now, I don't wear a lot of makeup. It was all those years of Catholic school where it was the rule that we couldn't wear anything (and the nuns would sometimes wash your face if they got cranky enough). Plus I think you look younger the more "natural" you are and I'm of an age where that's become important. But there is one thing that I just do not leave the house without having it on and that is lip gloss.

My penchant for it is so bad that it's the one makeup area where I splurge - I must have almost 15 colors or so, although I go on jags where there is only one color that I wear exclusively for about a month because I like is so much. I also change the shade of pink (because it's basically always a pink tone) depending on the season. It takes an extraordinary amount of my thought processes, but I think it's worth it. And it's not like I don't do other meaningful work in my life.

So now I'm at the Wilkes-Barre airport, embarking on an important conference that I've never been to before, and two things are running through my head. One, the Continental Airlines guy who gave me my seat assignment was nice enough to tell me there might be delays because of the rain and he reserved me a back up seat on the 5:30 flight to Ft. Lauderdale, just in case, and two, the only reason he helped me was because I was wearing the remnants of my lip gloss which I must now do without. What if I face other challenges in my travels, but I don't receive a high quality of service because of my thoughtlessness? I could have doomed myself to the snarky helper.

I'm going to look and see if I can find some colored chapstick.