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Years ago, I wrote a short story about a young woman who got into trouble with her long distance phone company by racking up a huge phone bill. In that story, in the days before ubiquitous cell phone usage, her “astronomical phone bill” was in the whopping amount of $853.52, which many of my Writing workshop peers found to be somewhat unbelievable. Well… better believe it, ‘cuz, as they say, “Truth is stranger than Fiction.”

Check out the below story to learn just how much financial trouble technology can get us into: Read the rest of this entry »

[continued from The Holy Terror (part 1)]

So, the other day, I was mystified when I found the HT quietly hunched over a keyboard and looking quite concerned. I leaned in to see what was going on. Ah… He was working on a report. A report that had to be 500 words long. A report which was due the very next day. It was good to see that even the HT could be quiet when the occasion called for it.

Several hours later, the poor HT was still in the same spot, still trying to tap away (he doesn’t know how to type yet) but looking quite worn though not defeated. By now a small crowd of his subjects had gathered ’round to give him encouragement — and their computer time, which he desperately needed. When he stretched his now knotted up fingers, one of the few girls there volunteered to help him type if he dictated. This went on for some time. But then, alas, she had to go home. Then our security guard joined the crowd and told him he would dictate from the HT’s scribbles so that the HT wouldn’t have to keep trying to decipher his own words as he “typed.”

After a while, though, things got rough. There were only five minutes left until all of the computers in the library would shut down. (They are programmed to automatically do this near the close of the day.) The HT was in the last stretch — the ever-dreaded Bibliography, wherein he had to type in all of the addresses of the websites he had used as sources. Alas, the HT had missed copying and pasting them into a Word document, so now they all had to be entered by hand. Enter moi, fledgling “librarian” who saw a win-win possibility in this predicament. The security guard saw what I was about to do, and grinned. “So, what, you’re getting into the action too?” he asked.

I said to the HT, “Tell you what. I type 60 words a minute. I’ll type these bibliographical entries for you, but in return I ask you to do me two favors. One, please help this young kid sitting next to you to print out the webpage on Gorillas that he’s trying to print. Be nice to him – he doesn’t speak much English. And two…”

Here, I was interrupted. “I know, I know! Two is “be quiet,” right?”

“Yes, how did you know I was going to ask that?”

“Oh I know, I know, I have a loud voice.”

So we switched places, the HT to help the young non-English speaking kid to print out lovely gorilla photos, me to type up the HT’s bibliographical references. We printed out the report just in the nick of time, with the computer timing out right after I clicked Print. Smiles abounded.

The HT left the library happy, as did I, as did our security guard. The next day things were a tad bit quieter in the Chess Kingdom. All praise the Holy Terror.

There is a kid who comes into our library on an almost daily basis. My nickname for him in this blog will be “The Holy Terror,” (AKA “HT”). Actually, he’s not really a terror, but he does have one of the loudest voices I have ever heard in a library. I must say that I sympathize, since I too have a propensity to speak quite loudly.

The HT is a bright kid who means well but tends to boss around the other kids–mostly boys–and at times cajoles them out of their computer time. Despite his bossy nature, he’s one of those proverbial “heart of gold” kids, though, since the other boys seem to go along with what he wants and don’t look too unhappy – he’s one of those born leader types, albeit a bit too overt about the power structure. Through the guiles of our weekly chess program instructor (who is worth his weight in a combination of any precious metals and then some), all of these boys have gotten hooked on chess and now they visit the library on a regular basis to play chess. (As I told another librarian yesterday, back when I was a teacher, I would have cried tears of joy had my kids been remotely interested in anything that didn’t require pushing a remote, clicking a mouse, or swishing around a joystick. Needless to say, the leader of the “chess gang” is the Holy Terror. He usually rules over his little Chess Fiefdom as a Benign Tyrant – sometimes encouraging, at other times goading and taunting, but always, always LOUD. [continued in The Holy Terror (part 2)]

I have been asked to choose a specialty at the library at which I work — I have the choice between being a Children’s or Young Adult specialist. I am truly torn. Here is a list of writers/books which come quickly to mind when I think of my own childhood reading pleasure… by no means is it exhaustive:

List of writers

A.A. Milne

Astrid Lindgren

Betty Smith

Beverly Cleary

C.S. Lewis

Charles Dickens (yes, I know, but I consider Oliver Twist to be children-oriented)

Dr. Seuss

Judy Blume

L.M. Montgomery

Lois Lowry

Louisa May Alcott

Madeline L’Engle

Mary Norton

Michael Bond

Mother Goose (as far as I knew back then, she was an actual writer)

Natalie Babbitt

P.D. Eastman

P.L Travers (AKA Helen Lyndon Goff)

Peggy Parish

Richard Scarry

Roald Dahl

List of books/series (not necessarily coordinating with the above list)

the Amar Chitra Katha series (Desi parents across the diaspora owe immense homage to this series for making Indian mythological stories accessible and alive for their children.)

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

the Paddington books

the Mary Poppins books

Little Women (I cried inconsolably when I read what happened to Beth, mystifying my mother)

A Wrinkle in Time

Winnie the Pooh

Are You my Mother

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

What Do People Do All Day?

Beezus and Ramona

Anne of Green Gables


December 2007