The Sounds of Christmas: Outro

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Well, I had planned to do a post for each song on my 2013 Christmas mix, but now that Christmas has already passed it doesn’t seem quite as important. The good news is that I already have a start on my 2014 list, including songs I liked for this year but that didn’t quite fit. That’s no guarantee that the 2014 list will get done on time either, but at least it’s a good start.

I’ve done three Christmas mixes now, and they all have twelve songs on them. It has nice synergy with the whole “12 days of Christmas” thing, and keeping the song count down means the task of creating a list is less daunting. Finding 12 songs is much easier than finding 20, or even 15.

So without further ado, here’s my Christmas music list / mix for 2013. For those who have All Access Music from Google Play, you’ll have a much easier listen if you check out the playlist there. Otherwise I’ve done my best to include links to full versions of songs, mainly on YouTube, but some are not available to listen to publicly on the web and those links go to Amazon. Enjoy!

Ahniwa’s 2013 Christmas Mix Playlist

1. Fairytale of New York / Gianni and Sarah (link)
2. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day / The Civil Wars (link)
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town / The Selectrics (link)
4. Angels We Have Heard on High / David Ian (featuring Acacia) (link)
5. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel / Belle and Sebastian (link)
6. Green Grows the Holly / Calexico (link)
7. Baby, It’s Cold Outside / Little Hurricane (link)
8. One Bright Star / Sarah Jarosz (link)
9. Jingle Bells / David Ian (featuring Andre Miguel Mayo with Tal & Acacia) (link)
10. Carol of the Bells / Pentatonix (link)
11. Merry Christmas Baby / Straight No Chaser (featuring Otis Redding) (link)
12. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? / The Head and the Heart (link)


The Sounds of Christmas: Track Three


Though not technically a Christmas song, one of my favorite songs during the holidays is Baby It’s Cold Outside. There are quite a few versions I enjoy, and being a duet, a number that I really like half of; e.g. why the hell did Norah Jones have to sing with Willie Nelson?

Since 2013 was the year I discovered Little Hurricane (it may have actually been late 2012; I’m really not sure), their version of Baby It’s Cold Outside gets the nod this year on the Christmas mix. If you like it, you can download the MP3 for free from their website.

I like it because it’s dead simple: Tone playing guitar in his dirty blues style, Tone and CC singing (CC sometimes a little off key, in her style), and then a little rhythm added near the end. Dead simple, and really what Little Hurricane is all about, and epitomizes why I love listening to them.


The Sounds of Christmas: Track Two

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I really like the movie, Pitch Perfect. It’s one of those films that is easy to watch, but still intelligent, and it has great music. Okay, it might not be “intelligent”, per se, but at least it’s not dumb.

The first time I watched Pitch Perfect, I enjoyed it and then didn’t give it much thought afterwards. It was a fun film. I didn’t return to it for awhile, and when I did it was in a somewhat roundabout way. I was browsing YouTube and I came across this really cool collaboration between Pentatonix and Todrick Hall, The Wizard of Ahhhs.

I didn’t recognize the cups song, “The Long Way Around / You’re Gonna Miss Me / When I’m Gone”, as the song from Pitch Perfect. I just knew it got stuck in my head, and then everyone else’s head, and then I traced it back to Pitch Perfect. It actually goes back a lot further than that; further back than Lulu and the Lampshades too though most people try and credit them with the song originally.

So Pentatonix helped bring me back to Pitch Perfect and that movie, in turn, helped put Pentatonix on my radar. So when I discovered that Pentatonix had a brand new Christmas album, I was pretty stoked, and when I listened to it, I was ecstatic.

From 1 to 10, it’s aca-awesome (that’s an 11, I think), and it gets my pick for Christmas album of the year. That has its pros and cons when putting together a Christmas mix, of course, because there are a number of great songs that could go into a mix and I don’t want to pick more than a couple songs, at most, from any given album.

This song is probably my favorite on the album, so even though there are other great songs on the album and other great versions of this song, this is a sure pick for the mix. Enjoy!


The Sounds of Christmas: Track One

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One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the music. I’ve been known to hum / whistle Christmas music all throughout the year (hopefully without annoying anyone too much) and each year when the weather gets cold I enjoy the opportunity to listen, hum, and whistle guilt free for a month or two.

In addition to my listening enjoyment, I always try and put together Christmas mix albums, though I’ve had limited success. A lot of that relates to what I was talking about last post: I dream big, and sputter out before I get started.
This year is a bit different, because I have the Google Music All Access thing going for me, and I can listen to any song I want to, more or less. The last couple weeks I’ve been looking at “best of” Christmas album lists for 2013 and trying to see if I like any of the new Christmas music. After all, I could have the same favorites every year (and I often do), but the point of making a yearly mix, for me, is to see what sort of new and interesting music might be out there that I can add.
My list isn’t done yet, though there are about 25 songs on it at the moment. I need to go in and whittle it down a bit. All the same, some songs are sure things, and I thought I’d share.
The first song that is definitely on the list is Fairtytale of New York, performed by Gianni and Sarah (of Walk Off the Earth). I like the Pogues version okay, and there was a version on Late Night recently with Glen Hansard, Iron & Wine, Calexico, and others; I was hoping I’d like that version, but it was a little too busy.
This version by Gianni and Sarah is intimate, and it’s funny, and I feel like it captures a lot of what the song is about. Walk off the Earth has itself been on the rise this year and people are starting to recognize them, which I think is great. They are talented musicians and their videos are always as impressive as their music. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Start Small

via laszlo-photo on flickr
[cc via laszlo-photo on Flickr]

I’m a horrible procrastinator. I think a big reason is that I dream big, and I plan big, and I always, always want to START big.

That might be an okay way to do things for some people. But for me too often the “go big or go home” attitude equates to “go home”, or in this case, “put it off for a little while longer.”

Like writing.

So here I am, and I’m making an effort, this time, to start small.

This is a baby step. After this, I’ll take more baby steps. I’ll start small, and maybe I’ll even keep it small; if I do that for long enough, eventually it will have become something big.

So here it is: starting.


C25K: Week two, day one

Distance: 2.4 miles
Calories burned: 250

I’m estimating above because I fell behind a bit and couldn’t keep two sets of numbers in my head. But that’s more or less right, and I know that because it’s more or less the same as I clocked at the end of week one. I was a little bummed about that, because this week has us running a bit more, a bit longer. We’re also resting a bit longer, so maybe it evens out. I have a theory, though, that most of the distance and calories are covered by the “briskness” of your walking pace, rather than by your jogging pace. My walking pace was slightly less brisk, this week, so that may be impacting my numbers somewhat.

And you know, in the end I don’t really care – I’m only really tracking the numbers because I like metrics and it’s interesting, not because I feel slavishly invested in their improvement or what they say about my performance.

Still sticking it out with Suz’s hip-hop mixes. I notice that in later weeks she deviates from the hip-hop. I’m not sure how well that’s going to work out for me (I like those big, bassy beats), but I’ll try and keep an open mind for now. My electroswing mix is still in-production (meaning I haven’t gotten started on it yet), so I’ll have to make-do one way or another.


C25K: Week one, day three

Distance: 2.22 miles
Calories burned: 233

I’m totally cheating and posting this with a backdate, mainly to keep an accurate log.

This was another treadmill run, mid-day, and man was it hot. I gotta get my butt in gear in the mornings, if only so I can run in cooler temperatures.

Podcast-wise, I stuck with Suz’s week one hip-hop mix; her voice still irks me but it’s good running music and keeps my feet moving, and that’s what really matters.


C25K: Week one, day two

Running or ...Distance: 2.03 miles
Calories burned: 210

The difficult part is definitely getting out there and getting started. Getting up in the morning isn’t so bad, though sometimes it’s right away and sometimes it’s ten minutes after my alarm has gone off. Today it was the latter.

The treadmill seems rinky-dinky, and too narrow, and makes me feel a bit unbalanced. When I think about running outside, though, I miss the fact that the treadmill tracks time, distance, and calories burned (or it’s approximation of calories burned, at least). Maybe I should get some sort of running device that would do the same thing. A watch, perhaps, or an app.

I mixed it up today as far as podcasts go, and tried the Running Into Shape program with Carli. On the one hand, Carli’s voice is less irritating first thing in the morning; on the other hand, while some of her song choices were spot on, others were really horrid. I’d still like to make my own electroswing C25K podcasts, but it seems like all my free time lately has gone into setting-up / fixing various bits of technology around the home, so I haven’t had time. Maybe I can get in gear for next week.

In the meantime, both podcasts had this song, which I enjoyed running to: evidently it’s a C25K week one running staple. Enjoy!


C25K: Week one, day one

La Pyramide du LouvreDistance: 1.93 miles
Calories Burned: 203

Notes: I actually ran this once last week, but didn’t get my three runs in like I wanted to, so I thought I’d give it another shot this week from the beginning. Getting out of bed is definitely the hard part, since I have to be up and going at 4:30am if I want to get my run in, shower, and get dressed in time for Abby to do the same.

Week one of the C25K program is pretty straightforward. You start with a 5-minute walk, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for about 20 minutes, then end with another 5-minute walk. I’m doing this on the treadmill in our garage, which is a bit strange, but feels like a nice way to start and has the added benefit of tracking mileage and calories burned.

C25K started with these guys at Cool Running. There are a number of good podcasts out there for the program that include music and cues for when to run / walk. This week I’m trying out Suz’s Couch to 5k Running Podcasts.


No Town Like O-Town

Drink Pabst and Smoke a Lucky


Time for Library eBook Rebellion

Courtesy of user -- Constance Wiebrands --Bobby Newman has a great post getting a lot of traffic today, titled Should Libraries Get Out of the eBook Business. I commented on her post, but wanted to include my thoughts here as well, with the idea of expanding upon them in the near future. My comment:

The problem is DMCA and what it stops us from doing in terms of fair use and the first sale doctrine. The solution is to get libraries and library organizations to use whatever muscle they can to get DMCA overturned or to get exceptions written in for fair use and first sale cases.

And while that was very easy and simple to write, I realize that it may well be impossible, or at least very difficult, to accomplish.

In the meantime, I agree to the extent that we should stop paying whatever publishers ask us to pay for the right to take it up the [censored]. Accepting rising costs and increased restrictions just encourages the publishers to punish us more, and we’re not creating a space from which we can negotiate.

I’m an ePatron, though. If my public library didn’t have eBooks, they’d never see my patronage. What I’d love to see happen is some sort of coordinated rebellion; MARC records loaded for ebooks from publishers who are being unreasonable that leads to a website explaining exactly how that publisher sucks and with concise, clear instructions on how to find and download their books illegally from torrent sites.

It’s not a perfect solution, clearly. But it would sure be nice to stick it to them, just a little bit.


Down But Not Out

We had some downtime, and some malware, and some other things going on. We were knocked down, and we sat there for awhile, stupid and dazed. Now we rise, we open our eyes again, and we continue onward. I leave you with a photo of Zephyr, tuckered out at the end of the day on his first birthday, content and snuggled against his loving mama.

Zephyr Dawn, December 4 2011Year One
by Franz Wright

I was still standing
on a northern corner.


Moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.


of Your existence? There is nothing

la poésie

The Fifth Way of Looking at a Blackbird

Ravens are one way of seeing blackbirds, courtesy of user -- MaureenShaughnessy --It’s National Poetry Day (at least in England) —
share some of your favourite verse.

From: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by: Wallace Stevens

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


9 Months, 23 Days

Life is a sieve, time flows through like water leaving the detritus of moments;
some small memories, a flash of joy; mostly just
debris, passing unsifted, glimpses of days come one after another.

It’s been six months since last I posted.

Six months in a thirty-one year life isn’t much compared to six months in a nine month life; I mean, that’s life times three right there. I won’t play catch-up here, not all at once, but try and post more regularly going forward. Zephyr is, as one might guess, much grown, though as much a joy as ever. I love to watch him grow as much as I feel pangs of loss for each stage of his life as it passes by, never to come again.

Zephyr in his high chairHe smiles a lot, and he cries some, and he eats crackers and is a certified explorer of all things floor; he’s his own rhythm section, and a singer, and he coos and chortles and burbles and burps, hums and thumps and sniggers and sighs, yawns and stretches, quivers his eyebrows, squinches his nose, sticks out his tongue, and yells to raise the dickens.

In short, he’s awesome. All the time awesome. Awesomely awesome.

Hopefully he can keep that up for the next seventeen plus years.


3 Months, 10 Days

It’s hard to believe that Zephyr is over 3 months old already. In a way, he’s growing up fast, and I’d like him to slow down a little bit. Every time he smiles it breaks my heart a little, and he’s learning to laugh – right now his laugh comes out something between a chuckle and a guffaw, but it’s pretty cute all the same. He’s been an amazing little baby, in general, and the last month or so a real pleasure to be around, in particular. When people ask me how the baby is, I tell them that if I could I would just stay home and hang out with  him all the time. Which is saying something because there are very few people, of any age, who wouldn’t get on my nerves if I hung out with them ALL the time. That’s how cool my baby is.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind if he grew up a little bit faster, in some ways. His lack of mobility, while a blessing, means he has limited means to entertain himself. And to be honest, he isn’t very interested in entertaining himself. He would MUCH rather have someone else entertain him thank-you-very-much. He gets a little tummy time every day, which is an interesting change of pace for about 5 minutes, and then he’d much rather be doing something else. We’re supposed to shoot for 30 minutes a day of tummy time, but that just ain’t gonna happen, unless it’s 10 minutes of oh-this-is-kind-of-fun followed by 20 minutes of okay-I’m-done-now piss-offed-ness. Hey, I said he was a pleasure to be around; I never said he was perfect.

I also wouldn’t mind if he could sit up on his own, hold things with a little more adroitness, and hold up his end of the conversation. Which isn’t totally fair, because he’s actually an excellent conversationalist, and eager to chat, just so long as it’s on his terms and in his own, infant patois.

Even so, I really like Zephyr at 3 months old and I’m sure that, when he is 5 months old, I’ll miss the good old days, just as much as I’ll look forward to the days to come.

la poésie

Vic’s Boulder Cafe

I lived in Oberlin, OH for a couple years, 2002-2004. I tend to be somewhat snarky about them now, but they were pretty good years, all told. I got started in libraries while I was there, somewhat by accident, because Ohio has a server wage of some ridiculously low amount (like $1.50/hr and tips) and so suddenly my erstwhile career path as a restaurant service specialist seemed less reasonable.

When Ohio broke my heart, though, I headed back to Olympia and, aside from my stint in Montreal for graduate school, haven’t left since. It almost didn’t turn out that way, though, because on the way home I stopped off to visit a friend in Boulder, CO and very nearly didn’t leave. Boulder is, in my opinion, everything a town should be. It’s got a good college scene, a hip walking street, great cafes and shops, an excellent public library, and amazing scenery. Every day while I was in Boulder the weather was perfect, and then a thundercloud would roll over the mountains and it would rain for 1-2 hours, and then it would go back to being sunny and perfect.

I didn’t stay in Boulder, of course, because I’m not the kind of guy to make a huge decision like that on a whim. But I still remember that visit fondly, and of all the places I’d be willing to move for work, Boulder remains one of them, and one of the only places that’s not on a coast. Mrs. F, though, isn’t interested in living so far away from the ocean, so Boulder probably isn’t in the cards, after all, but that’s okay. I like being where I am.

This is a poem I wrote while in Boulder at a cafe, watching a woman and her son waiting to make their order.

Small, blonde foreign boy;
agé de dix ans.
Already mastered the european casual:
lifts his shirt to scratch an itch,
shows off a tan stomach, unabashed;
scratches, stretches: fingers to toes;
lets his shirt fall and
without so much as a glance around
performs a flawless crotch-grab.

Later, as he speaks, his language
sounds northern: swedish or dutch.
His mother, a 6’2″ twig of a woman –
all limbs, a long neck to put
swans to shame, a face unmarred
by time and childbirth – stands
still, graceful, waiting for heaven
to chase her down.

la poésie

Caffe Muse

This is, probably, my most famous poem, though no thanks to me. I wrote this in August of 2004 and, like many of my poems, didn’t do much with it. Sure, I read it at some poetry readings and such, and shared it with friends, and then forgot about it. It didn’t really take off until I read it to my friend Amy Krog, who liked it so much that she asked for a copy, and who then proceeded to share it with every barista she ever met (or so it seemed), and being that she was a traveling, cafe-going sort of girl, she met a lot of baristas.

It’s been quite a few years, now, and I doubt that Amy still shares this with baristas (though I’m sure she still loiters at the cafes). Anyway, none of those baristas ever met me, so I guess it’s a case of the poem being much more famous than its author. It’s a pretty simple little thing, but I like it, anyway, even after all these years.

Your hair-fling bewitchment
beguiles me,
muse of hazelnut latté eyes and
a whipped-cream smile;
your kisses would satisfy
the most ambitious sweet-tooth.
That’s my heart you’re steaming to foam,
my mind you excite with your double-caffeinated flair.
Your siren’s song has me shipwrecked
on a dry-roast wasteland.
I raise my mocha sails and set out
into the foaming cappucino seas;
I’ll be back again
in the java-toothed sunrise.

la poésie

Eulogy for a Toaster

If we’re friends on Facebook then you may have seen this already. If not, then it’s new! On Monday, I learned that the toaster of a friend of mine had passed away, so I wrote her (and the toaster) this lovely eulogy.

Though he had his ups and downs,
he was the toast of every town.
He saw everything from both sides,
and he always warmly offered rides.
So no matter which side you butter your bread,
weep, my friend, for the toaster’s dead.

There is, actually, a lot more punditry that could go into this, but I wanted to make sure my poem stayed upper crust.


What’s Next

September 17, courtesy of user -- Daffydil --After taking over the world, the next logical step is to learn French.


I mean, at least in a world according to the Violent Femmes.

In some ways I feel like I’ve taken over the world. After all, I’ve taken on my first job as a professional librarian, and I’ve succeeded. I am, in some small ways, a Master of Information. I have, in some small ways, taken over a very small portion of the world. Or at least influenced it. On to bigger and better things.

I already learned French (well before I took over any part of the world), so I’ve got to abandon the Violent Femmes game plan here, and try something else. So here’s what I’m going to do.

On March 1 I will begin working at the Pierce County Library System as their Virtual Experience Manager. As far as job titles go, this seems slightly less ambiguous than the current title of Online Resources Consultant, so that’s an improvement, and it also has the word “manager” in it, so that could be something too, I suppose.

It’s been awhile since I read the job description, so anything I say from this point on could be tremendously wrong insofar as it may not match up at all with what I actually end up doing. That said, here are my plans to take over additional, and somewhat larger, portions of the world (after which I may learn Russian).

In broad strokes.

I talked about Virtual Reference quite a bit when I interviewed for the position. That’s the background I was coming from, but it was also one obvious improvement (in my mind) that PCLS could take advantage of; the cooperative was there, waiting, and to me it was a no-brainer. Obviously it has been a yes-brainer for them up to this point, but I hope to overcome these barriers and get some 24/7 online reference magic happening up in there.

Live, online community events. We’re going to have them. And by online I also mean mixed online/real-life events, as well as true online-only events. And classes. And book discussions. And things.

Community integration. The library has a website. Community businesses and organizations have websites too. Let’s find ways for our websites to be friends. More important, let’s get the library web presence onto these community sites in ways that are useful to everyone involved and that help increase the presence of the library in the overall online community.

There’s a lot of UX (User Experience) stuff I’d like to look at. The PCLS website has a LOT of content, but I don’t think it’s making the best use of its space on the web. The catalog is a nifty new iteration of Polaris, and is shiny (as these things go), but I’m sure there are opportunities there as well for heightened interactivity and community involvement.

I have more ideas, I think, but we’re not there quite yet, and my attention is split. And who knows, maybe things will go an entirely different direction. Maybe I’ll be standing on the corner in a book costume with a big URL to the PCLS website on my chest.

Hey, it could happen.

Whatever happens, things will be bigger and better and I will learn and improve and grow and know more things than I did going into this and maybe, if I am very successful, I will positively impact the organization, too.


Three Years in the Life

Retro Poster - In the Library - courtesy of user -- Enokson --My take on Library Day in the Life.

Three weeks from now I will leave this job and become something else.

For the past three years I’ve been the Online Resources Consultant for the Washington State Library. In that time I’ve run statewide database trials, designed and built websites, and developed a statewide virtual reference cooperative to become a national model.

It’s the first job I got out of graduate school, the first job title of my professional career, and in just three weeks, on February 18th, I’m going to leave the job, drop the title, and move on.

The point of my saying this, I think, is to explain that while I could try and write a “life in the day” post about what my work is like on a daily basis, the fact is that these days are not like other days, that one day is not like the next and, in any case, no days have ever been much like the days before them. Not in this job, anyway.

So instead of a day in the life, I’d like to offer a brief retrospective of the past three years, with as much daily life in it as I can muster.

I started my career, as I believe most do, with a sense of wide-eyed wonder, or, at least, a smidgeon more hope and wonder than infuses most days. I think it took over a year before the cynicism snuck back in, and even then, it was manageable, maybe even productive.

I think the fact that every librarian has to go through two years of graduate school and is, at the end, called, in some variant, a Master of Information, creates a certain expectation about what the job entails. I learned a lot in graduate school and it helps me do my job every day, but I could have done this job without it, too. I’m not trying to disparage the degree, I support it, but I think that people are either librarians or they aren’t – it’s a secret code buried inside us, whether or not it ever becomes unlocked, and the degree supplements that, but it doesn’t create it.

I drive 8 miles to work one way. In the summers, sometimes, I ride my bicycle. When I had a motorcycle for awhile I would ride that. Going to and from work, the time that takes, is important. That’s when you realize, on the way to work, that you look forward to your job, that you have plans for the day. And that’s when you realize, on the way home, that you’re satisfied with what you do, even on those days when what you did was send a lot of emails and try and figure out schedules and quality control issues and your head hurts because you stared a computer screen for nearly 8 hours straight.

We launched a statewide downloadable audiobook project while I was here. I designed and built the website for it. In the meantime, though, I got hooked on downloadable audiobooks. It’s one of those little job perks, getting to learn about books, getting to play with technology, getting to see where the two intersect. In the past year I’ve listened to maybe 20 downloadable audiobooks, I’ve read another 10 ebooks, and I haven’t touched nearly that many physical books in the same amount of time.

I write a lot of email. I read a lot of email. There is a lot of email in the world. I’ve got folders in Outlook that have subfolders that have their own subfolders. It’s organize or die. And you can joke that well, I’m a librarian so of course I’m organized, but really, email seems to defy organization, and I know many who struggle. I get by, though I’m not the most organized, and it’s hard to approach email with the same sense of light-hearted wit that I employed when I first began here. Still, I try.

I examine processes and I try and improve them. This involves a lot of trial and error. Most things get worse before they get better. In trying to schedule what became more than 50 libraries and hundreds of librarians, I found Google Calendar to be the best tool. Sometimes solutions are surprising. I use Google Voice for my long distance calls to save the WSL a little money. It’s also a lot easier than remembering and inputting my special long distance code for every call so I get charged appropriately.

At this point I think that Google pretty much owns my life.

Being a librarian, up to this point, has been a lot different, and a lot cooler, than I thought it would be. I’ve written articles for various blogs and journals (nothing big, but still fun), I’ve been to conferences in San Diego and Monterey and Chicago and Denver and Seattle, and I’ve even presented at some. The community college librarians in WA had me present as keynote at their conference, and one of our public library systems asked me to present for their all staff in-service day. Those were some great high points.

I’ve visited more libraries in the last 3 years than I did in the previous 27 years. From university and community college libraries to branches of library systems and buildings that were the library system, I’ve visited at least 50 libraries and met literally hundreds of library staff. And all of them have been amazing.

It’s been an amazing 3 years – every day in the life of all 3 of them was different. Moving on to my next job, I expect that the only thing that will remain the same is that everything will be changing, all the time. And that’s okay. At this point, I’m used to it.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.