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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Gift of Reading

I spent my Sunday morning reading the print version of The News Herald and then I went online to read the Detroit Free Press.  The feature story this morning is in regards to expanding the Gift of Reading Program started back in May within the City of Detroit.  What a great way to start off my Sunday (glad I did not start by reading the sports section on the Spartans.)  This sounds like a wonderful program.  The Free Press is trying to expand on their reading tutor program by collecting 25,000 books (for every preK - 3rd grader in the Detroit Public School System).   I really think it is sad to think about how some children have no books at home, none, zero!!  Of course books are a normal gift and reward in my household.  We have a basket in our great room filled with books.  Not to mention this shelf overflowing upstairs with more choices.
 (Side note, when I slid into the room to snap this picture with my iPhone, my daughter was sitting in a chair reading the Cat in the Hat to her "classroom," this brought a huge smile to my face).
Each year near the holidays we go through the books and pick some titles out for donation.

Last year we started a similar book drive program at Carlson High School (on a much smaller scale of course).  Along with my responsibilities as a Teacher/Librarian I am also the Student Council advisor at Carlson High School.  One of the local charity drives we take on as a council is a literacy campaign.  We collect new books and provide each incoming Kindergartner with a new book after they take their Kindergarten Round Up Test (the test to determine if they are ready for kindergarten).  I realize, sadly, that for some of these children this may be their first book.  It is a pretty grueling test when you are just 4 or 5 years old, so it has to feel pretty good to walk away with a brand new book when finished.  We provided books to nearly 300 incoming students last Spring!
We have started collecting new books for the 2011 test period which takes place in late April or early May of 2011.  Our goal is to collect 350 new books.  If you are interested in donating, feel free to contact me at Carlson High School, 734-379-7123 or email me at pehotem@gibdist.net
We would appreciate any help or assistance, with 100% of new books and donations going to incoming Gibraltar School District Kindergartners.  Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some Tech Talk

A couple of stories caught my eye this morning as I was browsing around online.  First, could it be, the death of the Walkman?  To be completely honest, I was shocked they were even still making these things.  Are there really still people out their listening to cassette tapes?  What a terrible way to listen to music, having to search and search for a particular song.  The only thing they were really good for was recording songs off the radio.  I really wonder how much longer the compact disc will even be around.  I buy nearly all of my music online, song-by-song.  It is rare that I buy an entire CD.  How do you enjoy and buy your music in this era?  Do you miss any of the music mediums of the past?  I know a lot of people still love vinyl.

Another story that caught my eye had to do with new technology replacing librarians.  Reading the article, I really do not see this new technology (ummm lockers and/or drop boxes, not very high tech if you ask me) replacing librarians.  Librarians do more than just check out and process books.  They are information specialists on hand to assist patrons with research.  They are teachers and researchers.  I think libraries and librarians will be around for a while.  What will be changing is how information is provided to clients.  I actually look forward to offering more digital options to my clients in the next few years!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

September Read of the Month

I finished The Lion the other day while attending my REMC meeting at Wayne County RESA (a great once of month meeting of School Librarians from throughout Wayne County).  It took a little while to finish this book because I ended up leaving it in my cousins car during a road trip to Pittsburgh and back.  This is the second book by Nelson DeMille that I have read.  I read The Lion's Game earlier this year (based on the recommendation of a reader of this blog).  I must say that I loved both books!

One reason I enjoy the series has to be the main character/protagonist, ex NYC detective John Corey.  His commentary is so amusing throughout both novels.  I love the fact that even in times of extreme danger/stress he is still able to be a "smart ass," for lack of better terms.  He enjoys a good drink and a good woman.  The novel starts of quickly with plenty of action (it is extremely violent, graphic as a matter of fact, so if you do not care for that in your book selection you may want to stay away).  Much like the The Lion's Game, The Lion involves terrorism and FBI/police investigation.  This time, the antagonist Asad Khalil is back to get revenge on John Corey and his wife for the problems they gave him in the previous novel.  Shocking moments throughout the novel made this an easy, quick read.  I loved the book.  The only problem I had was the ending of the novel seemed "rushed."  Everything was set up so well throughout the novel, by the time the ending came around it seemed liked it was jammed into the final ten pages or so.  Not a major complaint, just the way I feel about the ending of the book.  If you love action/crime novels you may want to give this one a try.  I just recommend reading The Lion's Game first. 

Now I just need to finish my October Read of the Month and I should be all set.  It should not be a problem, I am nearly 3/4 of the way finished.  Hope everyone is enjoying a great book this October!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goodbye Books

So I started off my day scanning around on CNN.com and came across this story and video.  Author Nicholas Negroponte believes that physical books will be a thing of the past.  I watched the entire video online and read the article.  Negroponte founded "One Laptop, One Child" in 2005 with the goal of providing cheap, Internet ready notebook computers to every school aged child in the world.  He does make some good points,  especially regarding how cheaper and easier it is to provide eBooks to readers, especially in developing countries.

As I sat in the Flat Rock Library this evening reading, I took a second to look around and think, could this all be replaced by Kindles and iPads in just a few years?  The physical book, gone forever.  No more Barnes and Noble or Borders?  No more physical newspapers or magazines.  With the cost of digital readers dropping by the month, the price point is bound to reach a number that makes physical books a waste of money.  Still, I do not know how I feel about "curling up" with a iPad or Kindle.  What about "reading material" in the bathroom?  Nobody wants to bring a iPad in there right?  Or how about those great picture books we all loved as kids?  It is just not the same unless you are flipping those pages of Where the Wild Things Are or The Very Hungry Caterpillar while curled up in bed with your kids. 

I think books (and physical print) have a few more years left.  More than five.  However, I agree with Negroponte that the books days are numbered.  What do you think?  Will textbooks be a thing of the past, and each student will have their own iPad to carry around?  Will story time involve a touch screen tablet?  When the Lions win their first Superbowl will a print edition of the Detroit Free Press even exist?  Hmmmmm.....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My New iPhone...it's Great, but Nobody can Hear Me

I picked up my new iPhone 4 on Sunday.  Like I said in an early post, it is amazing.  Now, I tend not to talk much on the phone, so when I wrote my first post I had yet to make a call.  On Monday, my wife called and could not hear anything I said.  I could hear her, but she heard nothing.  Not good for a phone that was only one day old.  I messed around with the phone a little bit Monday evening at home.  I soon discovered the microphone portion of the phone did not work (people could only hear me during calls when I used the headphones or speakerphone).

I quickly made a call to Apple.  Their phone support is wonderful.  The agent had me attempt a few fixes, include a clean reset of the phone.  Nothing worked, so I called Apple back with my case number early Tuesday morning.  I was provided with the option of shipping the phone in for replacement or purchasing Apple care (2 year coverage) for $60.  If I purchased the coverage a new phone would be sent to my house ASAP.  I did purchase Applecare coverage for my Macbook Pro a few years ago and was really happy with the service.   I decided I did not want to be without a phone for a few days so I picked up the Apple Care (it extends the normal 90 day coverage to two years of coverage).  The phone was at my house today (shipped overnight).  Not bad at all.  I already have the new phone synced up and ready to go.  It works perfectly!

I always think one of the best measures of a company is how they perform when something goes "wrong."  I am always happy with costumer service at Apple.  They are fast, professional, and have always left me satisfied.  They even replaced my battery on my notebook computer (something few computer companies will do).  Yes, Apple is pricey, but you do get what you pay for!

I think back to a local limo company I used a few years ago.  The bus I rented broke down on I-75, the way this company reacted went above and beyond what is expected.  I left that evening more impressed with the company than if everything would have went as planned.  What are some companies you prefer working with?  What about companies you would like to avoid?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New iPhone 4/Reading 2 Books at Once

Well, I finally updated my iPhone 3g to the new iPhone 4 today.  I had no problem syncing all of my information from my Macbook pro to the iPhone4 (everything that was on my old phone was on my new phone in a matter of minutes).  The guy at the store attempted to switch my contacts over, but it did not work.  Not a problem, like I said it took just a few minutes at home to transfer everything over.  I have not spent much time playing with the new phone, but I will say there is clearly a difference with speed.  My iPhone 3g was lagging with the new software update.  Everything is so much faster on the iPhone 4.  Also, the new screen is clearly an improvement.  As I use it (and play with it) this week I will be sure to update. 

I am happy to have The Lion back in my possession.  So now I am reading both my September and October reads of the month.  This should not be a problem.  I am nearly finished with The Lion and about halfway finished with my October read.  I am really enjoying both books.  Finding books should not be a problem, as we plan to start up our "Carlson Readers" Book of the Month this week at Carlson High School!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Read of the Month

As I mentioned earlier, I left my September read, The Lion, in my cousin's car.  I hear it is close to making its way back to me, so I hope to finish it shortly.  This left me searching for an October book before I was even able to finish my September read.  Once I was all settled back into the library at Carlson High School (and finished all of my Homecoming responsibilities) I was able to pick out a selection from the shelves of my library.  This week I started reading Josh Lieb's I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be Your Class President.  Wow, that was a mouthful.

So far, I must say this is an interesting title, with one of the most unique narrators/main characters I have ever come across.  I am really interested to see how everything plays out with the main character.  I can not believe that everything that I have read about him can be true.  I keep telling myself, this is all in his imagination, there is no way any of this can be true.  I do love how Lieb uses footnotes and pictures throughout the book (both for humorous effect).  Quick read, I will probably be finished by the end of this week.  Welcome to October everyone!  I hope to get a tech blog in this week, as I think I am finally going to go pick up the newest iPhone to update my iPhone 3g!