Random Thursday : Surprisingly Random

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

This post is dedicated to Kev, whose relentless dedication to sending me the weirdest dang stuff is truly astonishing, and to firstmausi, who always brightens my day no matter what she sends my way.

And to my husband, whom you may blame for the fourth item down.  Heaven knows I do.


Is Worth Two Passes with Spellcheck

Bird Triangle

See it?

Let me know in the comments.


Been There, Done That

You know those Pumgo stairmaster-bicycle-scooters that are the Must Have for coordinated exercise addicts on the go?

That concept is so 1910.


1910 Pedal Skates

Pedal Skates.

I’m nearly certain that this gentleman is using them because they’re fun,
not because they work his hamstrings.

Frankly, I find that a much better motivation for using either one of these contraptions in public.


There are many versions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and I’ve heard a lot of them over the years.

I’m partial to the respective performances by Leonard CohenJeff Buckley, and also Tim Minchin and Geraldine Quinn.  Because Tim Minchin.

But a friend sent me the version embedded below, with the subject heading, “Wait for it.”

I’ve learned to trust her, so I listened while I did some editing.  I thought it was passable enough and wondered vaguely which former boy band had gathered together to sing it . . .

Until 2:05.  When I dropped my gum.
On my manuscript.  And didn’t care.

Don’t skip ahead.  You will be rewarded.

He’s Kurt Nilsen.

Turns out, he won World Idol some years back—his talent beat Kelly Clarkson’s legs by a fair number of points.

If that isn’t a sincere tribute to the quality and power of his voice, I don’t know what is.


This Isn’t What You Think It Is

It isn’t what anyone thinks it is.

Staggering Beauty

Click the image, heed the warning, and follow the directions.

Then come back and tell me what the #$%% just happened.


Salavador Dali and his Anteater

Salvador Dalis Anteater

The only thing surprising is the total lack of surprise.


You Want ACTUAL Staggering Beauty?

Let Sergei Polunin take you to church.

(thanks, ‘mausi!)


Rant of the Wild Librarian: Puzzlements Three

Wild LibrarianI’ve been a professional librarian for going on 18 years, now, and before that, I worked college summers at the main branch of my hometown library.*  Before that, I visited the small, storefront branch in my neighborhood as often as Mom would let me.

There are still many things that puzzle me about the job and also about the mindsets and motivations of the patrons who visit the library.

Here are three of them:



Why would anyone steal from a public library?

I’m not talking about thefts of rare books for profit or those enterprising citizens who check out hundreds of DVDs and CDs and pawn them, then think telling the library that their card was stolen or they lost all seventy-five of those CDs—In a fire! In the flood! In the divorce! Locusts!—will get them out of a Grand Theft charge.

I’m talking about people who rip off RFID tagged back covers and walk out with a damaged book they could have easily checked out or do any of a number of things with a CD or DVD to baffle the security gates.

Or who check out an item and keep it forever and always—because that’s stealing, too.

I don’t get it.

Shelf Reading CatPeople . . . if you’re a taxpaying resident,** you and your fellow residents already own these items. The whole collection is yours. We’re just storing it here to spare your overcrowded shelves.

The reason you have to return the stuff you check out is that it’s community property. You aren’t sole owner and sharing is caring.

So if you love an item, return it, undamaged, so others will have a chance to see how fantastic it is. You two can have another sleepover as soon as your schedules match up—and if your Very Favorite Library Item is retired from our shelves, you might be able to find it in our Friends book store and take it home for your very own, like a paginated Velveteen Rabbit.

If you hate something you checked out, return it anyway—it’s not your job to protect people from whatever sinks your battleship. If you’re compelled to make sure everyone knows what a waste of time/danger to one’s immortal soul this evil/ill-plotted/morally re-pugnant/politically agenda-ed/badly edited thing is, write a review.

Just don’t write your opinion in the pages of the book. Even grammar or spelling corrections.

That’s not justifiable post-editing, it’s prosecutable vandalism.



Why do people complain about paying fines?

You agreed to the rules, Sparky. Twice: once when you signed up for the card and once when you checked out the item you returned late.

Fork it over  and quit telling us the game is rigged.

If it is, it’s in your favor.

We make every effort to tell you when the item is due when you check it out; we’ll even e-mail you a couple of days before you have to return it.

We have phone and online renewals for slow readers and those inevitable “Oh, crap!” moments.

If you return stuff after hours, don’t worry: we back date overnight returns.

If you tell us you’ve already returned the item, we’ll suspend our disbelief long enough to do a thorough search. If you claim the item is lost, we freeze the fines long enough for you to make a reasonable effort to locate it.

We aren’t being unreasonable, here.

We just want all taxpayer property back on time so that other taxpayers—including you—can borrow it.

If fining you a dime a day—a dime a day***—is so unreasonable, maybe should should stick to short books in the reference collections; you know, thing that can’t be checked out in the first place.


Apple Orange

Why would one stand in the Orangetown Public Library
and tell the staff that the Appletown Public Library
is superior in every possible way?

Is the Appletown Library closed today? Have the buses stopped running?

Do you really think that library systems have match pricing for printouts? Do you think Orangetown librarians will give you extra computer time because Appletown has a higher limit?

Do you think we’ll bend ourselves into pretzels to prove that our library is the best?

No two library systems are alike and our library policies aren’t arbitrary, they’re tailored to the community they primarily serve.

Here are two math problems to illustrate:

The Orangetown Public Library System has 70 public workstations from which patrons print 900 pages a day and the Appletown Public Library System has 20 Public workstations from which patrons print 400 pages a day.

If both library systems have the same budget, per capita, and both get the same discount on printer toner and paper, which library is statistically more likely to offer five free printouts to patrons who print from their workstations?


The Orangetown Public Library System has 70 public workstations. On average, each workstation is in use 95% of the hours the library is open.

The Appletown Public Library System has 50 Public workstations. On average, each workstation is in use 50% of the hours the library is open.

Which library is statistically more likely to offer higher computer time limits and still be able to accommodate the majority of patrons who wish to use the workstations?

If you need any help with these, I’m sure  the Appletown Public Library will be able to assist you.  They don’t look busy over there . . .


Ahhhh.  That’s better.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spelunking under the kids’ beds for overdue library books. And yeah, I’m planning on complaining about that at great length.

But not to the library.


* Yes, ’twas fate.  Fate, and a sincere loathing of the local frozen yogurt place, where I worked the summer before college. But that’s a different rant.

** If you aren’t a taxpaying resident and you have a library card that we accept, you are our honored guest and our collection is also your collection. But that doesn’t exempt you from minding the House Rules. Guests that steal from their hosts aren’t invited back.

***Yeah, some items are a dollar a day, now. But those items are iPads, so . . .

Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Crying Wolf)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Or if you’re a fellow Facebook addict (we can quit any time we want to, right?),
why not check out the offerings of the Snippet Sunday gang?


Last week, Ms. Merrok—who is something of a traditionalist—asked how Tom, whose wereanimal is technically prey,* could consider a werewolf his brother.

And Tom took off his shirt.

Okay, he just untucked it to show her a scar on his side, which she recognized as an old wolf bite.

Here’s the first draft of the story behind the scar:

Oil puddle

The summer before I went to kindergarten, one of our neighbors—who was neither a were nor Aware, as the saying goes—had changed his Buick’s oil and let the old stuff run into the stormwater drain that fed our pond. 

The next day, I’d jumped in without paying attention to the sheen on the water.  I hadn’t been old enough to realize why my pinfeathers didn’t feel right, or why the water had tasted terrible when I’d started to sink.  And I could never remember if I’d been too panicked to change or to even think about it, but I hadn’t, so I couldn’t cry for help. 

My parents, who were doing yardwork, though I was just fooling around like I always did.  But Bryan—who had been fostered with us for maybe half a year and was still spending most of his free time in fur—realized that my gurgles and  splashes didn’t sound right and headed for the pond, just as I finally went under.

He’d plunged in, nabbed me, and carried me to Mom, so scared that he’d bit down too hard and nearly ended things then and there. 

Bryan still felt guilty about that—but my scar marked the first time he’d treated me like he belonged to us.


I haven’t edited this part yet, so I’m not sure if it will remain something Tom tells the reader or be turned into dialogue to Merrock.  Though I’m thinking he wouldn’t share the whole thing with someone he doesn’t trust, or at least, not as written.

The reason the voice in this bit sounds different from Tom’s usual deadpan snark is that he was younger when he originally said it.  When this story was still percolating (“Okay.  There’s a wereduck and he… um… is a wereduck, so… um … yeah…”), I thought it was going to be a YA story.

It wasn’t.

But I kept that attempt as backstory for this one.  And I think the above has had such an effect on Tom that it belongs on page.


*Ducks in general, and Mallards and Muscovy in particular,  do not consider themselves prey.  They consider themselves players with titanium testes—and there’s a good reason Mother Nature didn’t give them teeth.  We should really thank her for that.

Random Thursday: Recycled, Repurposed, and Reused Randomness

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

In belated honor of Earth Day, which probably shouldn’t be a random thing.

I’d apologize for all the puns, but y’all know I’d be lying.


Delftly Done

The Architectural Library of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands
suffered a terrible fire a while ago.

The university rebuilt the library and replaced all the books.

This is what they did with the old ones:

Book desk

How cool is that?

(Thanks, Watson . . . or Dee . . . Or caitlin?)


Not Eggsactly Recycling . . .

or  repurposing, either, since eggs are supposed to make chickens.

Which Came First

But it is a revolutionary method for getting MORE chicken out of one’s eggs.

(Thanks, Patricia!)


Encyclopedic Art

Brian Dettmer is an artist
whose art is books
and whose books are art.

New Books of Knowledge Sculpture

This one is made of a set of the New Books of Knowledge.

Go look at his other stuff.

Right now.


Musical Vegetarianism

Jane saw this and told me she wants to learn how to make spinach whistles.

It’s the first time she’s volunteered to get “that weird green stuff” that close to her digestive system.

 I’ve shown this before, so it’s a recycled video about repurposing.

Because I’m just that lazy good.


Bitten by the Chapell Bug(s)

Julie Alice Chappell makes beautiful insects out of recycled electronics.

This one was made from bits of old gaming console.

Nintendo Bug

Ms. Chapell has an Etsy shop,
which I visited in hopes of finding the above
(or one of his siblings)
for Janie,
who was bitten by the Nintendo bug years ago.

Unfortunately, at the posting of this,
it looks like she’s sold out of all her stock.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised—
look at the stunning detail!

Board Beetle

(Thanks, liligriff!)


Prelude for Boomwhackers

Part Bach, part Bojutsu, part rainbow.

All good.


(My husband found this—you’re right, it’s randomly perfect.)

Purple Carrots at the Dinner Table

Last week, Sunny came home from school with an art project wrapped in newspaper and a plastic grocery bag of indeterminate origin.

The bundle sat on the counter as I threw dinner together, until my MIL, with her usual tact,  asked me if it was trash that someone should put in the garbage. I rescued it and opened it while she went to call the others.

Purple Carrot Fish1

I looked at the sculpture for a while in wonder, and put it in the center of the table, for a conversation piece.

It worked.

“What is that?”  My MIL asked.

“It’s my purple carrot,” Sunny said, scooping the center out of her dinner roll.

“That’s not a purple carrot,” Jane said.  “It’s a . . . squished snake?  That isn’t really purple?”

“It’s a fish,” Sunny said.  “And his name is Purple Carrot. See?  I painted him purple, except the . . . the hot oven thing made it too light.”

“The kiln?” I said.

“Yeah.  And Gail said it looked like a carrot, before I made it flat.”

Gail is Sunny’s very best friend and co-conspirator.  Everyone needs a Gail, who gives hugs to everyone she meets and may very well be the limitless energy source that will save the world, if anyone can figure out how to keep her still long enough to harness it.

Gail is often quoted around here—or evoked as authoritative approval.

“A screaming purple carrot?” Jane said.

“He’s not screaming.  He’s trying to breathe.  Gail says—”

“Why is a fish trying to breathe?”

“He’s evolving, Janie!  Duh!”

“So,” my husband said.  “He’s a lungfish?”

“Yes,” Sunny said.  “He’s trying really hard to get them.”Purple Carot Fish3

“Get what?” my MIL asked.


“Does evolution even work like that?” Jane asked.

“Maybe he’s a Pokémon,” I said.

“Or a Kirby-fish,” Jane said. “He looks like one of those cleaner fish—what’s that called?”

“Plecostomus?” I asked.

“Yeah. That.”

“He’s a Purple. Carrot. Fish,” Sunny said, stabbing at her green beans with her fork.  “Gail likes him.”

“He’s fantastic, honey,” I said.  “I like him very much, too.  His scales are really good and his expression is perfect.”

“Thanks, Mommy.”

“And I think Screaming Purple Carrot is a great name for a rock band,” I said, pushing my luck.

She beamed.  “That’s what Gail said!”

Purple Carrot Fish2