Friday, December 03, 2010

Food for thought - Email forwards from friends' kids

So, I am recently (as of one hour ago) the lucky recipient of an email forward from my friends' kid, age, oh, about 10. This one, thank collective-soul, is not a chain-mail where all my hairs will fall off if I don't forward it to all of you within 17 minutes of receipt. Whew.

Rather it's one of the more thoughtful ones, full of rhetorical questions of things that make you go gee... (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see it, if you're at all interested).

It's easy to smile and feel so much older and mature, and think, "ah, kids will be kids." But I got to thinking. back in the infancy of the Internet, weren't we all (or most) forwarding such emails to each other? Jokes, chain mails, recipes, random picture (and virus) laden emails that heavily taxed our 2GB-limited Hotmail accounts?

So perhaps our kids and our friends' kids are not so much showing their youth when it comes to these forwards, but rather this is a stage that all (or most) newbies to the internet must go through... a rite of passage, if you will.

Here's the email from my friend's kid, by the way, in case you're curious. :-)

If swimming is a good exercise to stay fit, Why are whales fat?

Why is the place in a stadium where people sit,
called a STAND?

Why is it that everyone wants to go to heaven?
But nobody wants to die?

Shall I say that there is racial discrimination even
In chess as the white piece is moved first?

In our country, we have freedom of speech,
Then why do we have telephone bills?

If money does not grow on trees then
Why do banks have branches?

Why doesn't glue stick to its bottle?

Why do you still call it building when

it’s already built?

If it’s true that we are here to help others,
What are others here for?

If you are not supposed to drink and
Drive why do bars have parking lots?

We all r Living in a seriously funny world....
So just enjoy the fun

Friday, November 05, 2010

Land of Enchantment Day 4

Today was the first day of the conference for which I am here - the YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium. But before the conference got under way, I had an exciting adventure - one I wasn't sure if I would follow through on at first, but eventually did, which I will term the Beauteous Balloon Adventure.

The YALSA folks had kindly negotiated a good price for those who wished to soar into the skies on a hot air balloon (an activity Albuquerque is well-known for, as it hosts the yearly International Balloon Fiesta). I had always had a yen for ballooning, after an incident when I was 16 -- a bunch of us from Saturday School were camping for our annual Summer Camp, when a balloon came down in a scrub area near our campsite. Since the boys amongst us helped the balloonists bring their balloon down safely, they gave some of us a ride up to 80 feet, with the remaining hot air (once the balloon was safely tethered). But then I had also heard of a hairy hot air balloon experience my friends Liz and Bill had soon after their wedding, wherein they landed, I think, in a tree! So, with equal parts excitement and trepidation I decided to go for it along with about 20 other intrepid librarians from all over the U.S.

We were met at the conference hotel at 6:30 a.m. by several balloon pilots with vans (and presumably balloons) in tow and taken to the ground where the balloons would be launched. I was surprised to be recruited into helping get the balloon inflated -- my job was to hang on to one edge of the balloon (for dear life) while a giant fan blew air into it. Near the end, it felt like the balloon was about to lift off despite me bearing down backwards with my full weight. I need to write one of the other folks in my group to ask for that photo!

All in all about five to eight balloons were taking off from the same dirt field... It turns out that the early morning is the best time for hot air ballooning, as a result of relatively predictable and mellow wind patterns.

The best part of the ride was coasting along the tops of the golden cottonwood trees that grace the banks of the Rio Grande...

The worst part of the ride was that it was all over all too soon... I am so glad that, despite my reservations, I went for it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Land of Enchantment Day 3

Lori had suggested yesterday that Valles Caldera Natural Preserve would be a good day trip, as it is scenic, has some good hiking trails, and one can do a loop, going west and then north, up over Santa Fe, and then dropping down to Santa Fe via Los Alamos and then back down to Albuquerque. Jim was game to come along again, for which I am ever so thankful, as I don't think I could have hiked the steep trail we ended up hiking, without his encouragement.

So we set off mid morning, up 25 North, and then west on 550, and north on 4. There was a steady, curving incline as we climbed up the Jemez Mountains. Since we were going to go for a "real hike" (meaning that it was going to be moderately strenuous, at least for me!) I voted to get coffee at the Laughing Lizard Inn & Cafe in Jemez Springs (point B on map below) on the way to give me courage, what with my being out of shape and all.... Good, strong coffee with a chocolaty feel and look gave me that needed kick in the pants for what was to come!

Then we headed over to the Jemez Falls trailhead/picnic area. (see point C on map for approximate location.)

View Larger Map

The Jemez Falls are beautiful and only a short quarter mile hike away from the trailhead.
But then, we returned to where the trail forked, to go down to the McCauley Hot Springs... more like the McCauley lukewarm springs, as we learned... The way down (down and down!) to the springs was gorgeous, with a Tahoe-like atmosphere created by plentiful fir and pine trees (not surprising, considering we were at over 7000 feet in elevation.) The springs are about 600 feet down in elevation from the start of the trailhead, which was all very well and easy on the way down, but on the way back... well, let's just say that the going was s-l-o-w... :-)

But all the effort was worth it, as the McCauley springs are these gorgeous little dammed up pools filled with clear lukewarm water and sand, and minnows that like to nibble at your feet. In case you're wondering, it tickles! And did I mention the views are just stunning? Don't take my word for it... take a look at some of these pics!

After the steep back to the trailhead, we realized that more time had passed than we had allotted for the hike (hmm... wonder who might have caused that?) So we got back on our merry way, as we had yet to actually see the ancient volcano top (now a grass valley) that is Valles Caldera... Good thing that our path naturally had us driving around part of the rim of it, on our way to and through Los Alamos. It is huge and... well huge. Vast. Mountain tops formed back in the day, by lava erupting, in the middle of it. I don't think this photo (the one with the yellow grassy meadow) does it justice... You'll have to go yourself and check it out!

At this point, exhausted, it was decided to try to get back to Albuquerque to meet Lori for food as soon as possible, but it did take a while. After all, we had to pass through Los Alamos (there was a security checkpoint!) and Santa Fe as well. No visit to the old town this trip, as the sun was setting, but we were lucky to get a wonderful view of the sunset on the way back! Take a look!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Land of Enchantment Day 2

Today Jim and I agreed to meet up at noon to mosey down over to the Frontier Restaurant for... what else? a breakfast burrito, but of course!

And it was a pleasant surprise to just by chance run into Lori and her colleague, who were also there for lunch, which was awesome. I love the way things just work out sometimes! Lori's colleague, Amy, is a local, we asked her for suggestions on cool things to do in the area. The plan was for Jim and I to hang out, as he's off work right now, and then to meet up with Lori again for dinner. Amy suggested we try the hike at Tent Rocks, as it's amazing. Plus I am lucky to have arrived in NM so soon after Tent Rocks re-opened to the public after being closed for a long time for road construction. And so, we were off (with a pit stop at REI for me to buy hiking shoes, as I no longer own any. (So glad to have rectified that sad situation!)

One thing we realized only after getting very very close to Tent Rocks itself is that neither one of us had water, but we decided to "brave" the short trail anyway... And so glad we did, as it is simply marvelous, weirdly gorgeous, splendid, spiritually inspirational .... What a place. Just see some of these pics.

Tired, happy and thirsty, we gratefully gulped down some water found at a nearby convenience store and then raced back down to Albuquerque to meet up with Lori. After some discussion it was decided to go to Lori's beloved El Patio for dinner. Oh, so good, the vegetarian plate with Christmas on top!

All in all, a marvelous second day in the land of enchantment...

New Mexico food diary part 1

malini, this is for you. read and weep. know that I have wept as well, if only from happiness. (and chili!)
Yesha's food diary thus far:

nov 2, 3 p.m. Frontier Restaurant. Breakfast burrito. To the unititiated, google or yelp it.

nov 2, 7 p.m. Flying Star. Buddha Bowl. *yes, not eggzackly New Mexican cuisine. but i was in the mood for feeling virtuous.

nov 3, 10 a.m. The best damn cafe latte with almond syrup, from michael thomas coffee.

nov 3. 12 pm. Frontier Restaurant. Breakfast burrito. (yes, aGain.)

nov 3. 8 p.m. El Patio. Vegetarian plate, consisting of: one avocado burrito, one bean taco or chile relleno, beans and sopapilla. oh and I had it "christmas" style, which meant Both red and green chili on top. And, they give you honey to eat with the sopapilla.

nov 4. not much for breakfast or lunch except for some great coffee and a couple of protein bars, and oh yes, an Odwalla C Monster...

nov 4. 7:00 p.m. Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza with Lori and Jim.

nov 5. champagne breakfast, courtesy of the ballon pilots, complete with mimosa and prewrapped danishes (!)

nov 5. dinner, late! Los Cuates with other librarians... I had an omelet with green chili,----eh.... It was just okay, albeit nowhere near as good for vegetarians as El Patio. What was Quite Excellent was the salsa and chips. To Die For. I would recommend going just for the chips and maybe a drink and then going somewhere else (i.e. El Patio) for dinner.

So. That's the food update. For now.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Land of Enchantment Day 1

Today I arrived in Albuquerque at about noon Mountain time, flying from NYC via Chicago. After paying way too much for a rental car (live and learn!) I checked into my home away from home - a sweet little casita with 3 affordable rooms for rent. The rooms all share one kitchen and one bathroom, and one small living room, complete with flat screen television. Oh, and there's also wifi. And a kickass cafe - Michael Thomas Coffee - next door. And a yoga / meditiation / massage / spiritual studio of all sorts (The Source) nearby as well. This makes up for the bad karma that is Thrifty rent-a-car. (Never rent from them again!)

After check in and some bonding with a new "housemate" at the Casita, I was off to the Frontier, an Albuquerque icon of which I have fond memories more than a decade old, for a late lunch. What did I have you ask? A Breakfast Burrito, my friend. And, mmm! it was so Good.
Ingredients? Here they are: one egg, hash browns, cheddar cheese and green chile... plus there is, if you choose to add, cold salsa, hot red salsa, hot green salsa, and ketchup. Which I did.

Then I was off to the Tamarind Institute, down the block, to check out their cool lithographs. The informational card below describes what you see above. Beautiful, no? And in the reflection you can see one of the UNM buildings across the street. And oh yes, the gorgeous New Mexican sky.

After the short Tamarind Institute trip, I went over to the UNM bookstore to seek out a map. The first year student who rung me up and I had a little talk about how her first year is exciting but so busy as well... And when I mentioned that I was visiting from Brooklyn, she said she really really wants to visit NY, as she's hardly travelled and is so excited about everything she's heard about NY and Brooklyn in particular too. I assured her that to Brooklynites, New Mexico is exotic and exciting!

After a quick shopping trip to buy some almond milk, earl grey tea and sunscreen, (yay for casita kitchens!), I met up with my old friend (and past roommate) Jim, so that we could walk over to pick up his wife and my friend Lori from her work. Then we all walked over to the Flying Star for dinner, where I partook of the ever so virtuous Buddha Bowl, which consisted of steamed and stir=fried veggies, brown rice and tofu, with some nice ginger flavors. Oh and on the way there, we were accosted by a drunken would-be "friend" who kept begging us to let him give us piggyback rides. He dogged us for a good five plus minutes, almost running into us at times. Sheesh. But funny afterwards.

Over dinner we discussed various esoteric points about librarianship and... bonded. It was bliss to be sharing a meal once more, with old friends, in the Land of Enchantment.

Monday, March 29, 2010

how and why you should support libraries

Dear New Yorkers,
Please consider supporting your local library and libraries in two (2) ways. (others may take the following and apply it to their own area libraries):

1-. Monetary support -- yes, donate, (money, not books--unless the books are brand new and you have checked it out with a librarian first that these books are in fact needed by the library-- donating unneeded books is like treating the library as your personal dump.)

How to donate---- (the following are three Separate library systems. Yes, really!:-) )

A. Brooklyn Public Library -

B. New York Public Library -

C. Queens Public Library -
2. Political support - free to you, yet sends a strong message to politicians that this is a crucial service that cannot be cut.

How to send a message:----
Here's why you should help:
In case you'd like to know, here are ways (with example links) in which NY area public libraries support their communities, besides providing access to free books and internet access:
1. free ESOL classes

2. free GED/ pre GED classes

3. free Job search help

4. free computer classes for senior citizens

5. free computer classes for immigrants (in their native languages)

6. free programs for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents

7. free afterschool programs for teens (like Creative Writing workshops, TeenTime)

8. free afterschool programs for kids (like Arts and Crafts, Gaming)

9. free access for incarcerated citizens who desire to read but are not allowed access unless a librarian visits with a floating collection

10. and More: Manga drawing workshop with Misako Rocks, Jazz @BrooklynPublicLibrary, Health Info and Literacy @ Queens Library... and on, and on, and on...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

the 'normal' things that are going on in my life

here are the 'normal' things that are going on in my life, beyond the unsettling-getting-burglarized-stuff...

on Feb 1, i started my 6th semester of graduate school at Queens College... my master's degree is definitely being done slowly and on a very part-time basis. This is because A- I am working fulltime at a very busy branch of my library system and B- my commute to school is long and therefore as much energy gets expended on the commute as does on the actual class (if not more), leading to not being able to take too many classes per semester. Plus, I think I am devoted to the quality vs. quantity model --- having achieved an A+ in every class but for one (in that one class i earned just an ordinary A) ;)

This semester I am taking one class, which is actually an internship at an academic library (in the instructional services department). Basically this means that I am paying about 1000 bucks (including fees etc) for the privilege of working for them. But seriously, this experience of interning has started off well, and I am learning a lot about how academic libraries (or at least this one) function/functions. Academic libraries are so different than publics in so many ways, i cannot begin to enumerate them here... but maybe i'll start keeping a running list for myself--- something good to put into my journal for my internship, eh? (ya, part of the internship class is to keep a detailed journal)

what else? Work is the center of my life right now, so I'll go into some details about what's occupying me these days...

Here's one reason I really enjoy my work at the public library: Last fall this one wonderful teen, "D", kept bugging me about starting a creative writing workshop at my branch. I told her i was skeptical and that prolly teens wouldn't come. But she pollyanna'ed me into doing it, and we launched the workshop in early December. I am proud to say that "D" has soundly proven my pessimistic ass wrong -- we have averaged about 8 teens per class since then. (the numbers range from a high of 14 to a nadir of 5). While I cannot say that I know exactly what I'm doing leading a writing a workshop (!!!), I will say that I absolutely love it, every aspect. The interacting with the "teens" is my favorite part. (attendees range from ages 12 to 18... with one anomaly of a 23 year old who is in between college and grad school and needs an outlet for her energy and creativity.) On a weekly basis they blow me away with their writing and their spirit... and their generosity and perspicacity when giving each other honest feedback on their work. While we have a limited time together due to scheduling difficulties, we squeeze the most juice out of that time as possible and inhale the rinds until the next time we can meet. To say that these teens have made life interesting would be a dull understatement. To say that they make my life worth living, and Wednesdays my most-looked-forward-to day of the week, might be maudlin, not to mention cliché , but that would be a bit more, um, accurate.

Another activity I enjoy immensely at work, in a similar way, is running the Arts and Crafts programs on Tuesdays at the same branch. The kids are younger and sweeter and more rambunctious and messy than the teens, but I enjoy them all. So far we have made a myriad projects together, but some that come to mind are-- a wall of snowflakes, sorcerer turkeys (don't ask), paper beads, mosaics, and sparkly pipe cleaner christmas trees with bead ornaments. Tuesday afternoons for me are a whirl of white school glue, construction paper, safety scissors, lanyards, pony beads, manila paper (remember that stuff from school?), and googly eyes, not to mention moving around furniture in the meeting room. And kids. Kids galore, of every age from 3 to 13. And, sometimes, their mommies. :-) Sometimes I have over 20 people who come to an arts and crafts program!

Moving on to less rambunctious yet equally though differently enjoyable work endeavors -- This January I became a mentor to two high school aged interns at my branch. they are interning at my library as part of an IMLS funded grant to start a teen internship program intended to introduce high achieving low-income youth to library work. The idea is to cultivate future librarians as well as to serve the multicultural, multilingual communities of our city. Can I just say that I adore the two interns who have been housed at my branch to pieces. "X" is a shy yet at times loud, sensitive, EXTREMELY well read, 2nd gen Chinese american, oldest child of a family of four children who takes great care of her kg attending brother and younger sisters, responsible, wise beyond her years, junior in high school. "Y" is a soft-spoken, high achieving, thoughtful, artsy, innovative, gentle, loved-by-little-kids-as-older-sister-figure, Pakistani-American, senior in high school. They are teaching me as much as I am trying or hoping to teach them. And, on a lighter note, I love feeding them chocolate, as it satisfies the spoil-the-kids urge within me.

Another experience I've been having at work that I might not have mentioned is that once a week I have a rotation within the library system. As my title is officially Librarian Trainee, they allow me to go, once a week, to another division of the library and take part in projects and work there as a staff member... for the past almost one year, I have been stationed at the education and job center at the main branch. There I have done everything from put together resource lists on topics like searching for green jobs and business opportunities and Internet resources for high education to working at the reference desk (very different from reference desking at the branch) to observing resume and interview workshops. I have also worked on building a wiki for the department to use internally (hosted on as well as successfully advocated for a dedicated job information blog/discussion link on our library's intranet. Plus my supervisors there have been incredibly supportive and kind and enthusiastic and I cannot tell you how motivating and invigorating that is.

What else? I have managed to do some fun things too, of late. Some things that come to mind are:
  • getting back into dance this past fall with an 8 week bharata natyam workshop with Parijat Desai, who is an amazing teacher as well as a warm wonderful person and activist. I hope to do this again soon!
  • a wonderful visit to Boston on Valentines day weekend to spend time with Smitha, Ganesh and darling baby M----- - just 7 months old, in addition to many antics to make the baby laugh her deep gravelly old lady laugh, I also had the opportunity to sneak in a dance class with Smitha as teacher as well as a viewing of My Name is Khan -- awesome NRI Bollywood movie that instead of examining what does it mean to be Indian in America, for the first time explores what does it mean to be an American.
  • not to forget a major highlight of December-- over winter holidays i got to bake and decorate cookies with my favorite Ohio nieces, M---- and S---, which was incredibly fun and relaxing. And catching up with their parents, Pranav and Myth wasn't too shabby either. ;-)
  • Another fun experience has been to housesit at my parents place while they were away, and spend time with my sister at their place. I baked banana bread for her despite her protests of too many calories, and in turn she dragged me to her luxurious gym as her special guest. I must say, the sauna was definitely my favorite part... (thanks H!)