Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Working for a Living!

A friend of mine had a post on Facebook and it said "List the first seven jobs you ever had". So that made some wheels turn in my head and I started making a list of all the jobs I've ever had and remembering the good and not so good times all those thoughts dredged up in my brain. 


I made a list going forward from my very first job as a babysitter to the job I have now as a Medical Technologist specializing in Microbiology. Then I made the list backwards- from my job now back in time to my first job and realized I forgot a few jobs along the way and corrected my list. All in all, it was an entertaining cerebral exercise that put me in the mood to write about it. I've done everything from scrub the toilets in the men's bathroom to teach medical students the joys of gram staining bacteria, and a lot of things in between. There are so many good ideas for spin off writing here from debating the minimum wage to discussing why schools seem to be failing, and all from thinking about the various employment situations I've had since I was a teenager. Play along with me and spend a bit of time thinking about the different jobs you have had in your life.


Here is my bare bones list: Chronologically from the past until the present day...

Babysitter
Retail Store Clerk (Department Store)
Fast Food cook and cashier
Library Attendant
Retail Store Clerk (Clothing Store)
Cafeteria Employee
Avon Salesperson
Fast Food cashier and chief restroom cleaner (graveyard)
Retail Store Clerk, display designer and depositor of bank funds at night (Clothing Store)
Retail Store Clerk- Aquatics (Pet Store)
Medical Courier
Medical Laboratory Technician and Phlebotomist
Medical Technologist Generalist
Medical Technologist/Teaching Technologist/Laboratory Coordinator
Community College/Applied Technology College Instructor
Medical Technologist Blood Bank
Substitute Teacher K-12
Special Education Teacher's Aide (Junior High)
Science, Honor's Science, and Art Teacher (Junior High)
Medical Technologist/Microbiologist 

  https://youtu.be/9N2CANatVYQ
Great guitar solo by Chris Hayes, live performance with Tower of Power Horns.
Basically from this list, my one sentence explanation of my employment experiences is: "I am a 'scientific labbie type who does not mind being with people", this appears to be a contradiction since most people loving types are not scientific types and most science nerds are not all that social. So I guess I am the embodiment of an oxymoron or maybe I am an oxymoron? Oh well, I have always felt dual pulls from the scientific side of me and the artistic side of me. I have expressed each side at different times in my life-such as when I started college wanting to be a laboratory scientist, then changed my major to Interior Design. I finished up the design program and then went back to college a few years later to finish becoming a lab scientist. I finally "found myself", in the lab, but continued to express my creative side through sewing other handicrafts. 



When I taught junior high it was the perfect juxtaposition of science self and my artsy self and I loved being able to express both sides of me each and every day through the teaching I did. The downside was that when I opened my mouth to talk science to the other 'science teachers' I got a lot of blank stares because the majority of them had never been in a laboratory except for college Biology class. My educational philosophy is not reconstructionism, (IMHO public schools are over run with reconstructionists and that is part of why public education isn't as stellar as it may have been in the past- but that is another discussion all together), my philosophy is more essentialist\perenialist, as in reading, writing and rithmaticism, so I didn't exactly feel that I fit in where I was.

If you had to sum up your employment experiences in one sentence what would that sentence be?


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays! Sparking your interest in books!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Fiction/Post-apocalyptic)
"She traces one long finger down my cheek, her fingernail sharp against my skin. You will be the end of us if you keep following this path! I can feel it, I can see it now." (pg 65)

 
I was excited to finally get and read this book. It started out quite interesting but as it went on the story-telling just didn't fill in the plot holes, like how did the society get this way in the first place? The main character was not very likeable and wound up being a let down by the end of the book. I was left wanting by the time the story was finished and the ending was not that satisfying after the time invested. There is a sequel but I've decided that it's not worth reading if it is anything like the first book. I also came to the conclusion that I am not really a lover of zombie stories, they're just too mindless for me! (I couldn't resist, sorry). I don't like the Walking Dead show either, even though many people do like it, it's not that interesting to me. Destroy! Destroy! Run away from zombies, kill the zombies, mindless destruction...snooze. 


On the other hand I loved the movie with Will Smith (2007) I Am Legend, it had me on the edge of my seat and invested in the characters. I have also read the original 
I Am Legend story by Robert Matheson, where the main character is a little different from the depiction by Will Smith (Smith does it better IMHO), and liked it. Even though there are some zombie characters in the Garth Nix book series (Sabriel), that I have previously reviewed here, there are other plots and action going on in the book besides the zombie mindless kill-it-all mentality and the characters are developed much better by Nix. So now you know... but if you are a zombie fan, maybe you would be interested in checking out this book.

A scene from the movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith (2007).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- Sparking your interest in books!

(Steampunk)
The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
(The Cinder Spires)
 
      I've been a fan of Butcher's Dresden Files for quite a while now. Since I've read all of that series I've been kindof starved for more of Harry Dresden. So I have read all of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series (which I love), and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series (which I also love but seems to be getting repetitive now) to fill the gap. Butcher has written the Furies of Calderon series but I have only read the first volume so far and I'm not ready to form an opinion on it yet. I am an easily distracted book lover and keep getting sidetracked into reading other stuff, but I do have more books from the Furies of Calderon series occupying space on my bookshelves and plan to read them soon.
      I purchased this steampunk offering (Windlass-hardcover) about 6 months ago on a trip. I realized I didn't have room for it in my suitcase so I gave it to my daughter to read until at such a time when I visited her again and took it back with a less crammed suitcase. Well last week I came home from visiting my daughter with my book, I had started reading it at her house. My suitcase was still too full so I carried it onto the plane and continued reading it on the trip home. I have been happily satisfied with the results and am now just over halfway through the book. This book has reminded me why I enjoy Jim Butcher as an author, he really does have a way with words and a great imagination, along with a good sense of humor- this all gets rolled up into one of his books! I am loving The Aeronaut's Windlass! I really like the characters and the setting is very unique. I am not quite sure why the people are living in cities in the sky, or what happened to earth, if there is even an earth somewhere in this universe, but small tidbits of information have been sown among the action in the story that might lead to an explanation. I think Rowl the cat and his person Bridget are my favorite characters so far, Folly the Etheriel apprentice, is also pretty intriguing.


Book Quotes:
The Aeronaut's Windlass, page 214.
Gwendolyn Lancaster looked around Predator with what she felt was well-earned skepticism. It seemed that in following the orders of the Spirearch, she had fallen in with scoundrels.”
(The Spirearch is the name for the leader of the city/'spire' in which Gwen lives.)

Another quote from page 92, that I thought was quite timely during this election year in the USA right now.
Politics is the purview of scoundrels, tyrants, and fools.”


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- To spark your interest in books!

The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi (2008, Non-fiction, True crime)

The Monster of Florence, also known as Il Mostro, is an epithet (or name) commonly used for the perpetrator, or perpetrators, of 16 murders, nearly all of them couples, that took place between 1968 and 1985 in the province of Florence, Italy. The same gun and pattern were used in all the murders. (Wiki)


 
Quote from the book: "The summer of 1985 was one of the hottest in recent memory. A serious drought gripped Tuscany, and the hills of Florence lay stunned and prostrate under the sun...Along with the heat, fear of the monster hung over the city like a stifling blanket." (pg 106)


Actual crime scene photo.
Ponte Vecchio (The Old Bridge) a famous sight in Florence.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays- Quotes to spark your interest in books!

Sabriel by Garth Nix (Fiction/Fantasy)
"He paused in mid-stride, boots crashing, and his eyes once again looked at the bells, and the whiteness of Sabriel's skin, stark against the black of her hair, black as the bitumen under her feet." (Pg 43)


(Bitumen-the natural oily byproduct of decomposed organic materials, also known as asphalt or tar.)

 
Garth Nix is a best-selling author, over 5 million of his books have been sold and they have also been translated into 40 languages. He was born in Australia and lives there with his wife and two children. He has worked in various publishing and book related careers, and even served in the Australian Army Reserves, but is now a full-time author. He was writing 'zombie' books before they were cool or popular. Nix is the author of the YA Old Kingdom series of fantasy books: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and Clariel. He has also written two science fiction novels; Shade's Children and A Confusion of Princes. Newt's Emerald is described as a romance with magic. His YA Keys to the Kingdom series include Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, etc. He has also written for the children's Spirit Animals Series, and penned novellas with stories that take place in his fantasy worlds (To Hold the Bridge, Across the Wall). I have not read them all, just the Old Kingdom series so far. Of that series I think Lirael has become my favorite series book, and the disreputable dog is one of my favorite characters ever in a book (introduced in Lirael). I have read Sabriel twice so far.

Fan art rendering of the character Lirael (from the book with the same name) with the "disreputable dog", another character in the book, from the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix.

Author Garth Nix holding two framed pictures of book cover art from his Old Kingdom fantasy series which includes the books Sabriel and Lirael.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays---to spark your interest in books!

 
Salt- (A World History) by Mark Kurlansky (Non-fiction)
"By the seventh century, the Basques built stone towers on high points of land along their coast. When the lookout tower spied a whale, it's great shiny back breaking the surface while spouting vapor, (the lookout) would shout a series of coded cries that told whalers where and how big the whale was...(pg 112)." 

Tons and tons of salt have been used over the ages to preserve seafood (think salt cod) and in the preservation of all kinds of meat.

                  Today's feature is a non-fiction book encompassing  the history surrounding salt! 

Basque stronghold; Arteaga Tower.


Basque coastal region.
 
Basque Countryside between Spain and France.
Map showing where the Basques originate.                            

Basques- an ethnic group of people that inhabit an area in north-central Spain and south-western France, thought to be the renmants of the early settlers of Western Europe. Basque tribes were mentioned by the Romans and today have limited self-government of a specific area. Historically sheepherders, ranchers and fisherman.


Bonneville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
 
If the subject interests you, or if you are interested in Sicily, or reading a fictional work that will show you about the life of a salt miner, here is an e-book suggestion. This was one of my first e-book purchases when I received my Kindle. The setting is in Sicily and the story follows two brothers that make their living salt mining. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the Sicilian mind-set. Not a fairy tale book but one that has stuck with me over the years.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays...To spark your bookish interest!- 2016.4

Holy Blood, Holy Grail- by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln (History) "Shocking international bestseller!" 



"In 1653 an important Merovingian tomb was found in the Ardennes- the tomb of King Childeric I.
The tomb contained arms, treasure, and regalia such as one would expect to find in a royal tomb. It also contained items less characteristic of kingship than of magic, sorcery, and divination- a severed horse's head, for instance, a bull's head made of gold, and a crystal ball (pg 237)."

Merovingian- a dynasty that ruled ancient Gaul (France) in the 5th Century
Ardennes- a hilly region containing dense forests that extends to Germany but is mainly in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.



This book received a lot of negative attention when it first came out in 1982. It put forth the theory (that some perceived as blasphemous) that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had children whose descendants eventually became the Merovingian rulers of France. It talks about secret societies, Knights Templar, and the Holy Grail. The subject was dramatized in two later novels (The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird, 1993, and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, 2003.) This theme has been investigated on the BBC, The Discovery Channel, 60 Minutes, etc. Some say it is only pseudo-history but it makes for interesting reading. History buffs, open minded persons interested in religious themes, lovers of conspiracy theories, and those with a fondness for mystery should enjoy it.