holiday greetings 2008

Dec. 21, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful… It’s -4 with a windchill of -10. We had 4 inches of snow last Tuesday and some freezing rain on top of that. My neighborhood is always the last (if ever) to be plowed, so the streets are like ice skating rinks. But as my colleagues at work attest, I still love the snow and never tire of it, even after 12.5 years living in Kansas. (They curse me every time I mention the white stuff!)

Since I’ve started with the weather, let me highlight a couple of other unusual and hopefully not-to- be-repeated weather events we’ve experienced in the last 12 months. Manhattan ended 2007 with a terrible ice storm (something our friends in the northeast are experiencing now). I took a few pictures but they don’t even begin to tell the story. Many of my colleagues were without power for 10 days. Some spent a few nights on air mattresses or sleeping bags in the library. One friend stayed with me for a few days until her power returned. Fortunately, by the time the 25th rolled around, everyone in town had heat & electricity.

In June a tornado ripped through Manhattan. (My pics; K-State campus pictures; other pics (ignore the first few of Manhattan, NY!)) In past years, I think the closest touchdown was about 5 miles outside of town. This one ripped up neighborhoods and parts of the K-State campus, and touched close to home in more ways than one: Jenny’s boyfriend’s family hardware store on the west side of town was flattened. Forty homes were damaged or destroyed, a few other businesses suffered some major damage, but Waters was just gone. K-State’s campus received $20+ million in damages and the path of the tornado came with 150-200 yards of the library. It bounced back up into the sky about a mile from my house. This all happened shortly before 11pm so I still haven’t seen a tornado and I can’t say that I actually want to see one. The cat and I huddled with the radio in an interior closet of my house — I have no basement.

I am starting this missive much later than I usually do. My Christmas tree went up 2 weeks later than usual and I’ve only pulled out about 1/2 of my decorations! Seems to be a common theme in my life lately. I am getting less organized as time goes on. I think it’s because I’m no longer running at 120%, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! My duties at work have required fewer deadlines and fewer committee assignments (shhh… don’t tell the boss)! I survived my NASIG presidency, which ended in June–okay the first 6 months of the year were pretty darn busy. And the past-president’s duties, combined with changes at work and home, have not been nearly as hectic. So… I’m less organized because I have more time at work to get things done. Does that make sense? I haven’t brought work home in months! My evenings and weekends are mine! All mine! [evil laugh here].

Mom has had a rough year. Brother George and I moved her to assisted living in Virginia (near George) back in March. Jen, Joel and I traveled back there in August for a visit–it was the kids first trip to Charlottesville. Elaine gave us a special tour of Monticello, a place I never get tired of visiting. Mom fell in September and fractured her hip. She’s now in a rehab facility and making very slow progress. Unfortunately, we don’t think she’ll be able to go back to the assisted living.

Okay… on to happier news:

I had another year filled with both business and pleasure travel. Two trips to Virginia to settle Mom into assisted living there; business trips to Philadelphia (Jan.), Phoenix (June), Asheville (Sept.), Lawrence (Sept. & Oct.), Wichita (Oct.); fun travel to Omaha, the Grand Canyon, and 11 wonderful days in the United Kingdom. I detailed that trip in this blog. (Start with that link and keep clicking the successive entries from the bottom of each page – there’s a couple of other non-travel entries in there ’cause my posts were added between April & mid June!). I head to Denver in mid-January on business and have another UK trip at the end of March.

I think I can say I am now officially an empty-nester since no one came ‘home’ for the summer!

Jenny is a senior at K-State! WOO-HOO! She will graduate with a degree in Marketing (minor in Spanish) in May. Talk about going 120%: she finally had to quit working at the gymnastics center this year. She really misses that but they couldn’t give her enough hours. She added hours at Waters True Value Hardware (including doing bookkeeping for them), is doing a marketing internship with the Boy Scouts, and started working at JC Penneys in November. She spent 6 weeks in Spain in a study abroad program during the summer and had a fabulous experience taking 3 classes (I think) at the Univ of Salamanca and traveling to different parts of Spain. On one free weekend, she & 3 classmates flew to Paris! The only downside to the trip was that she wasn’t here in Manhattan to support her boyfriend Scott and family in the aftermath of the June tornado.

Jeff is in his second year at Trinity Valley Community College down in Athens, Texas. The TVCC cheer squad placed 1st in their division [search “trinity valley”] at the National Cheer competition in Daytona Beach in April. (You can spot Jeff easily in the sync tumbling pass at the 1:09-1:03 mark & in the basket toss (he’s the guy on the left twisting in the air at :54). I imagine Jeff would love to see a repeat performance of that in 2009! He spent the summer in Houston and worked at a gym there and at Aeropostale. He banged up his knee pretty badly during cheer camp in July but by mid-fall felt pretty to 100% again. He managed to come home for a week in early August and will here for a couple of weeks during the holidays. He is talking about applying to Texas Tech for fall 2009 since he’ll graduate from TVCC in May.

Joel is loving his job at Bruno White Entertainment just outside Orlando. He’s been expanding his knowledge of video production and is also learning a bit more about the business side of his work. The company does a wide array of work: wedding videos from DisneyWorld, contract work with Microsoft and the Dept. of Defense. Joel is editing a video narrated by actor Levar Burton and creating the music soundtrack for it, too! He & the folks at BWE have fun, too, which you can check out in this video and this one!

Writing: I am writing more these days because I have more free time in the evenings! Yeah! I’m also developing a bad habit of waking at 4 or 4:30 in the morning and writing, reading, or surfing the web before I go to work! agh!

I’ve had a new story accepted for publication on starwars.com. Well, I should say the proposal was accepted. The draft was submitted in September and has passed round 1. It’s sitting with the folks in Publishing. Hopefully it will appear in 2009.

I started participating in an online writers forum in August or September, trying to branch out beyond Star Wars since publishing opportunities there are limited. The forum is a place to give and get feedback from other readers and writers. I’ve done a few short pieces – nothing ready for prime time. My goal is just to write, write and write more – because if you don’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you’ll never get published! So… it will be a long while before my great adventure/romance American novel appears. Don’t hold your breath!

Work isn’t completely insane as I mentioned earlier. As a dept. head and member of our leadership council, I’m heavily involved in reorganization planning and budget planning. We’re looking at some ugly cut backs for FY10 given the downturn in the economy but so far, we don’t anticipate cuts as severe as many colleagues at other institutions are reporting. We brought up a new electronic resource management (ERM) system and still struggle to find the time to add data and learn all the ins and outs of the thing. With another colleague, I revamped our collection statistics reporting. And we’ve been studying the integrated library system landscape (i.e., our online catalog & the back end systems that support it) with plans to likely move away from commercial products in the next 2-3 years. I know I’ve been involved with a dozen other things but heck if anything else comes to mind at the moment, and since I don’t need to bore you and my self evaluation is not due until January 9, I’ll put this topic — and this long update — to rest.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas…

PEACE TO YOU ALL DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

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