Make You Feel My Love

I adore the song “Make You Feel My Love”. It’s originally a Bob Dylan song, but until I was contemplating this post I don’t think I had ever heard his version before. There’s a small potential that he sang it during the concert I went to when I was in high school as I couldn’t convincingly tell you a single song in his set from that night.  I highly doubt it though. I generally find Bob Dylan to be rather whiny sounding, which very much holds true on his version of this song so I don’t recommend you seek that one out.

I first became familiar with Billy Joel’s cover of the song found on his Greatest Hits Volume III album. I always enjoyed its melancholy tone contrasted with the hopeful lyrics of someone who would do anything for the person they love even though that person hasn’t committed to loving them back. The lyrics in the bridge of the song always get to me:

“I know you
Haven’t made
Your mind up yet
But I would never
Do you wrong
I’ve known it
From the moment
That we met
No doubt in my mind
Where you belong”

Billy Joel’s version of the song does it justice, but Adele absolutely kills it! She covers the song on her first album, 19. It is the song that made me fall in love with her. The richness and soul of her voice are perfect for this song.

It is the perfect song to listen to on a grey, rainy day such as the one I’m currently experiencing here in Baltimore. The lyrics fit the melancholy weather while the lyrics portend towards brighter days ahead.

Baking Soda

My husband does most of the cooking in our house, which I appreciate. However, he is a really messy cook. As it is my responsibility to clean up the kitchen after dinner, I am the one left dealing with all the spills baked onto the top of the stove. That is why baking soda makes me extremely happy. It is the miracle cleaning product. Seriously if you have never tried cleaning with baking soda you are missing out. It makes all those spills come off really easy and leaves my stove all sparkly clean. I don’t think I would ever be able to get my stove clean if it wasn’t for baking soda. And now I shall finish extolling the virtues of baking soda before I feel any more lame.

A Scholarship Win

As a librarian working at an academic institution there are certain expectations in regards to professional development and contributions to the profession such as service on committees, presentations, and publication. There is somewhat of a division in the way academic libraries deal with this. Some academic libraries operate on a system of tenure holding their librarians to the same or similar standards as the faculty. This is especially true for large research institutions, but is not limited to them. Other institutions like mine encourage these activities, but my job is not dependent on fulfilling them. I personally fall on the side of the argument against librarian tenure, and so appreciate the balance that is struck at my library. However, that is whole argument that I’m not going to get into here.

Since the time that I became a professional librarian just over 5 years ago, I have attempted to get involved with the profession serving on committees both locally and nationally and presenting at conferences both locally and nationally. Almost all of this work involves travel expenses and conference registration fees, which is not cheap. With the economy the way that it has been the past several years, my library’s budget has been cut drastically and the professional development budget which was used to support staff members’ attendance at conferences was cut to the bone. Thus some years it was limited to people who were presenting or being sent by the library for a specific purpose or like this year cut so severely that there was no money for this support. As my job does not specifically require me to do these things, if I want to do them I given the time off but have to pay out my own pocket to attend. I personally feel it is important to be engaged in these activities for my own career development, so this year I was resigned to spending a significant chunk of my own money to travel to both ALA Midwinter in Dallas and ALA Annual in Anaheim to fulfill the committee commitments I have made.

In order to help mitigate these costs I looked into conference scholarships. There are several scholarships out there to attend various conferences and I have applied for them in order to supplement or cover my costs. EBSCO, which is a vendor that sells various products to libraries, provides a handful of scholarships to both Midwinter and Annual every year. I have a applied for the scholarship a number of times, but have never received it. This year I was really proud of the essay I wrote for the application for their scholarship to Annual and told my husband if I didn’t receive it this time then there was probably no hope that I would ever get one. It turns out I had a right to be proud, since yesterday afternoon I received a phone call letting me know that I had won one of the scholarships to this year’s Annual conference. There’s nothing more happy making than feeling proud of an accomplishment as well as saving yourself a significant amount of money.

The One Where Our Intrepid Heroine Takes a Tap Class

After seeing Anything Goes on Broadway a few weeks back and falling in love with the spectacular tap number that closes out the first half of the show, I got the idea to take a beginner’s tap class just for fun. I did some searching online for adult tap classes in the Baltimore area and discovered that adult tap classes are very hard to come by. Most dance studios, if they even have adult classes, seem to focus on ballet. A slightly smaller number include jazz in addition to ballet, and almost none of them have tap classes. I found one studio in Owings Mills with a tap class that was just getting ready to start a 12 week session, but on a night that I couldn’t go. Finally, I stumbled upon Charm City Movement. They have drop-in tap classes on Sunday afternoons, which was perfect for me.

Today my friend Jamie and I went to their Beginner’s Tap Class. Although technically the class is for beginners no one there except me really was. Jamie and the 2 other new people there today all have years of tap experience even if they haven’t put on a pair of tap shoes in awhile. There were also two other people in the class. I’m not sure what their background was, but they had at least been to the tap class at Charm City Movement before so they at least had some experience. I on the other hand essentially have no experience. I took one tap class when I was around 8 years old and then quit. I did take ballet and jazz for a few more years after that, but for some reason gave up on tap. Add this to the fact that I essentially have no rhythm, and well this was me today:

As Monica says, but at least I’m doing it. I am an intelligent person, but for some reason ask me to remember the order of a few simple steps and my brain falls right out of my head. I remember this being the case when I took dance as a child as well. I’m just doing this for fun though, so even if I stink at it at least I’m giving it a try. Plus it’s giving me an even greater appreciation for the amazing tap dancing I see on stage. In addition to the drop in tap classes, which they are pushing back by an hour, Charm City Movement is adding a 7 week session starting next week at the same time that I went today. I am planning on signing up for it, and hopefully by the end I’ll come out a little better than I was before. If nothing else it gives me a good work out on Sunday afternoons.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

White chocolate macadamia nut cookies are one of my favorite cookies, and yet until today I had never made them before for some reason. If I buy a cookie somewhere like a bakery, they are my go-to cookie. I have no idea why I never attempted to make my own before. I finally decided to make them today for a couple reasons. I have decided to give up sweets for Lent this year, so I wanted to treat myself for the next few days prior to depriving myself for 40 days. I am also taking dinner to some friends on Tuesday night and wanted to bring them something sweet for dessert. My friend can’t eat regular chocolate right now, so I was trying to think of a good cookie that doesn’t have chocolate in it and of course thought of these. I did a quick internet search for a recipe and came upon the recipe on this site, which apparently found it on some other unnamed site. They really are the perfect white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, crunchy on the edges but still soft in the middle just the way I like them.

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
10 ounces white chocolate (chips or bars cut in chunks)
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped into chunks

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture,beating until well blended. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.) Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

Code Year

For those of you unfamiliar with Code Year, it’s a free online course created by Codeacademy that is designed to teach you to code in a particular language in a year. This year they are covering JavaScript. I suspect that if all goes well they will branch out into other programming languages in future years. I know a lot of librarians and other tech adjacent people who have been working through the lessons. My husband who actually does computer security work for a living is planning on doing it eventually because JavaScript is a programming language he doesn’t know. He hasn’t actually started yet, so we’ll see if he ever follows through on it.

A new lesson is posted every Monday, but you don’t need to complete the lessons within the week that they’re posted. I myself actually started after 4 lessons had already been posted, but have since caught up. The weekly lessons do provide manageable chunks to get through in a week. In addition to the lessons there are projects to complete each week as well in order to put to use what you’ve learned that week as well as build on what you’ve learned in previous lessons.  The fact that the lessons and project actually force you to code is key to actually learning.

There also seems to be a good, supportive community to help you work through the lessons. There is a Q&A section for each section where people can post questions they have and other people respond to them with the answers. Every time I have gotten stuck on something I’ve been able to figure it out based on the Q&As already posted, but I have no doubt that if I posted a question of my own it would be answered in a timely fashion.

I’m never, ever going to be an actual programmer. It’s not something I aspire to, but I do a lot of things in my job now in which I’ve cobbled together just enough knowledge of certain programming languages to play around with code other people have created. It would be nice to take that to the next level with being able to actually do some coding of my own.

So far I’m having lots of fun completing the lessons. It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment to figure things out. I feel rewarded just knowing that I’ve finished the lessons and projects, but if you’re someone who likes the current trend of the gamification of everything you can also earn badges for completing things and compete against your friends who are also doing Code Year. I couldn’t care less about earning the badges, but they’re there if that is something that motivates you.

I recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which I highly recommend by the way, and one of the things she talks about in the book is being intrinsically motivated as opposed to motivated by external rewards. I definitely fall in the former category. My motivation is the knowledge I gain and just knowing that I completed the task at hand, the badges mean nothing to me and earning them in no way encourages me to continue working through the program. I do however like having the little green check mark show up next to the sections I’ve completed. On the few occasions where something has gone wrong with their system and my check mark hasn’t shown up I will admit that I’ve gone back and redone the exercises in the section in order to get my check mark. I feel similarly about how Word Press has added things to try and motivate bloggers to actually blog. Whenever I complete an entry I get some little screen talking to me about how far I am toward completing some arbitrary goal they have set for me or congratulating me for achieving it. I suppose that might encourage some people to blog more, but it actually just annoys me. It’s not my goal, and it’s just one more screen for me to have to close out. It’s also why I never look at the stats for my blog. I want to write it because I want to write it and not worry about who is or isn’t reading it.

At any rate, if you’re interested in learning how to code JavaScript and aren’t in a hurry and can spend the next 11 months working through the lessons as they post I would encourage you to check out Code Year.

One Singular Sensation

This morning I heard the song Omaha by the Counting Crows for the first time in a really long time, and it made me think about songs that I love by artists whose music I normally don’t enjoy. Omaha is the only Counting Crows’ song I have ever heard that I actually like. I said something similar recently about Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. Songs like these are special to me because they stand out in ways that songs I like by artists I like as a general rule just don’t. I spent the morning coming up with other songs that to the best of my knowledge are the only ones by particular artists that I enjoy listening to. So far I’ve come up with the following:

  • Omaha by The Counting Crows
  • Heavy by Collective Soul
  • Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
  • Every Teardrop is a Waterfall by Coldplay
  • Strong Enough by Sheryl Crow
  • Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots
  • High and Dry by Radiohead

 

What songs do you like by artists whose music you generally don’t enjoy?

 

The Use of Music in Television Shows

I had been mulling over the idea of writing a post about music and television shows for a few days and then yesterday I serendipitously came across an article in the Huffington Post about TV’s Best Music Moments. I certainly don’t agree with all of their choices, but some of them are definitely iconic, particularly the final scene of the series “Six Feet Under” set to Sia’s “Breathe Me”. That is hands down, no question the best series finale of a television show I have ever seen and “Breathe Me” provided the perfect soundtrack to those final moments.

I’m not specifically talking about iconic uses of music in television though. I really want to talk about it in general. I might be wrong, but my perception is that in the past 10 years or so the use of music in television has become much more pronounced. It seems like almost every week TV dramas are required to end their show with sort of musical montage. It has become somewhat of a trope, but I enjoy it because I hear a lot of new music that way. Bands are getting discovered because their music was played on a show. I personally have discovered any number of bands that way. As I mentioned in my post about the Chuck finale, I bought a ton of music after hearing it on that show.

It may just be that my means of interacting with the music I hear on television has changed though. Once upon a time before the existence of the internet if you didn’t know a song that was played on a show you were watching, then you were probably out of luck ever finding out what it was. Not any more. If a song catches my ear I can grab snippet of the lyrics, Google them, and usually be provided with a song title and artist in no time. Barring that some networks like the CW provide listings of the music played in their shows or you can hunt down someone else who knows what the music is and is posting it. I always knew I could count on Alan Sepinwell to provide a list of the tracks used in each episode of Chuck in his weekly reviews of the show.

I’ve started keeping an expanding playlist of music I discover on TV shows using Spotify. If you’re on Spotify and want to take a listen here’s the link.

Polar Bears

I love polar bears! I think they are the cutest animals in the world, and baby polar bear cubs are beyond words adorable. A lot of other people jumped on my baby polar bear bandwagon with the whole Knut and Flocke polar bear cub craze a few years ago, but I had thing for polar bears long before that. I also didn’t think Knut was ugly after he became a dirty looking adult polar bear like so many other people. I keep hoping the polar bears at the  Maryland Zoo in Baltimore will have a cub, but so far no dice. For now I will get my cute polar bear cub fix with Siku the polar bear cub at the Scandanavian Wildlife Park of Djursland in Denmark. I tried to convince my husband that we should take a vacation to Denmark this summer when it would be warmer but Siku would still be a baby. I’ve never been to any of the Scandinavian countries, and what better reason is there to go than to visit a polar bear. My husband for some reason did not share my enthusiasm for this plan.

Here’s a picture of Siku’s first trip out into the snow. If you’re heart doesn’t melt at that cute little face it must be made of stone. Enjoy some more super cute pictures of Siku playing in the snow here.

Three Pop Songs I’m Loving Right Now

I am a great lover of Indie music, and if I’m not careful I can tend towards being one of those insufferable people who thinks that if something is mainstream then it is pandering to the least common denominator and can’t possibly be any good, which of course is shear nonsense. I do enjoy knowing about bands before they hit it big if they ever even hit it big at all. For one thing it makes their concert tickets actually affordable, but there’s also that smug feeling of thinking I’m smarter than you because I found this band before you did. Not pretty I know, but hey it feels good. I do draw the line at the hipster mentality of, well now that everyone else knows about this band they can’t possibly be any good any more. That’s just ridiculous and drives me bonkers. Half the fun of music is being able to share it with other people, which is what makes pop music so great.

There is a lot of not very good pop music out there, but the one thing about pop music is that it’s catchy. Even pop music that you hate can get stuck in your head for days on end.  I was just actually contemplating the other day if people who write really obnoxious pop songs that become big hits ever regret it. Specifically I was wondering if Maroon 5 regrets writing “Moves Like Jagger” because now they are stuck singing it all the time, and really that song is annoying. Some pop music on the hand is catchy in a good way and can easily brighten your mood every time you hear it. Thus today, on a Monday at the beginning of a long dreary February week I bring you three pop songs that are currently brightening my days. I do say currently because the other unfortunate thing about pop songs is that they get played so much that even if you once liked them you often begin to hate them after awhile. So far I haven’t reached my saturation point for these songs yet though.

First up is Flo Rida’s Good Feeling. This song has a great beat and an awesome hook. Rap is the one genre of music I tend to shy away from because I really like to be able to sing along with my music and I just can’t do that with rap. All the rap songs I have ever liked have a more song-like chorus as does this song. I thinking it’s probably classified more as hip-hop than hard core rap, but you get what I mean and I’m not really sure where one is supposed to draw the line between those two genres.

The second song is Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. I think this is actually the first Kelly Clarkson song I have ever actually liked. It’s just a really great song though, and if I was someone who had recently gone through a break-up (which thankfully I’m not) I would totally adopt this song as my anthem.

Finally the oldest of the three songs is Rihanna’s We Found Love. I have loved this song for months, and I still listen to it every time it comes on the radio. It has definitely passed the great pop song test in that I have heard it just about everywhere at this point and it hasn’t reached the point where I am entirely sick of it. And speaking of great beats, this song certainly has one. NPR Music named it as one of the 100 Favorite Songs of 2011, which surprised me because I don’t feel like it’s something they would normally go for but I certainly can’t disagree with them.