Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Taxes

*Originally published 1/27/15, see updates in blue*

Howdy


I got nothing.
You should never say you are bored. This will encourage the universe to find you something to do and rest assured you will not like what it picks. Monday I made the mistake of saying I was bored.  I went to get the mail and behold, my W2s.  Having never worked overseas I knew there were some intricacies with my filing for 2014.  On the  recommendation of a friend who still works overseas, I hired a company that's sole purpose is to mange taxation issues.  For this year's return I need special documents.  I never got a W2 from working overseas so my salary had to estimated based on an employment contract.  I did have a foreign bank account so that requires a form too. Turns out if actually you had more than $10,000 (I did not) in your account you get another form or maybe just a different form. (take a moment to imagine having 10k, sounds nice doesn't it?) I have scanned all manner of things for my return this year.  I am currently double checking what should be the final draft of my return.  

The good news is everything looks squeaky clean and all my dollars and cents are accounted for.  The bad news is the processing of all that paperwork will cost me about as much as what I should be getting back from the state and the federal government.  Cue a short rant about  corporations  hiding from taxation by operating overseas.  I should not be in danger of being audited, I do not think I make enough money to truly be of interest. 

Here you go Feds, have my $40.  Don't spend it all in one place.


Do not pass go.
Do not collect $200.
Once my Federal, state and city taxes are filed I then get to file with another city.  I lived and worked in different cities and like many areas each city wants to tax my income.  Why don't I get a say in this? After if it was someone else's income why bother with calling it mine to begin with. So now that I've paid taxes to the city where I worked, I get to pay taxes to the city where I lived.  And sadly I am not enough of a hipster to appreciate their delightfully retro filing system that despite 5 years of residence I never began to understand. 

Did I tell you about the time they mistyped my income as $300,000?  I had to go to go see the clerk of courts and have them change it.  It was scary.  I was asked if I had weapons or steel-toed shoes.  

*updates* - I have not had a job since mid November.  I applied for Medicaid but I haven't had much contact with the office and consequently I still do not have health insurance.  Today I found out that I have to pay a $75 fee to the Affordable Care Act for not having insurance.  So not only is it my fault that I cannot find work that would also offer  insurance but it is also my fault that Medicaid is slower than molasses in January. Why can't  use the $75 to buy insurance? This is not being explained well at all.

Laura


Monday, January 26, 2015

By the Numbers

Howdy
Let's start with a big hoorah for my loyal readers.  I started One for the Books April 20th, 2014 and today I reached 15,000 page views as illustrated by the handy screen shot. In my New Year's Goals post (see what I did there?  It says goal post.  That is almost a sport joke) I challenged myself to reach 22,000 page views by the end of 2015.  I think I am well on my way. 


Fun with statistics. 


In other numerical news, I applied for two more jobs and I am working on a third application. I've had four job interviews.  I received two calls to say I would not be hired.  I have an email requesting an interview but the time has not been established.  I have to date applied for or will have applied for 26 positions.  There are several positions I have no news for (poor little stranded preposition). I think its a strong possibility that I may never hear from those employers or that by the time I get a response I may not recall that I applied.  Thank goodness for spread sheets. I keep a file of my applications, it tracks : date applied, company,  job title, job description, items necessary for the application packet, salary and if I get a response I add another date.  

I now have 36 people as contacts on my LinkedIn account.  I still find some aspects of this site to be really quirky.  I cannot find the correct places to store certain kinds of information.  Maybe the challenge is to get creative and resolve the issue yourself.  I like to keep track of trainings and seminars I've attended.  I really don't know the best spot to list the Mock Newbery Awards I participated in last week. 

I've also read 20 books for my GoodReads goal of 120. I am counting all books so my picture book reading is inflating things a little. 

I've been reading about how the job market and the work environment have changed.  A blog I really enjoy is Ask a Manager, which allows people to get Dear Abby style advice for workplace concerns that range from hiring, time cards, personality quirks and challenging customers.  Since this isn't a library specific page it can be a great resource for anyone in the workforce. 

I've working to expand my Personal Learning Network or PLN.  I just learned this acronym, I think it developed in the teaching profession but it translates well into librarianship.  I think I read the term for the first time on the wonderful site Storytime Underground (they have ninjas). It is an awesome resource for librarians in children's services, tackling programing needs, behavior  challenges and a variety of ways to better serve our youngest patrons and their grown-ups. 

I have signed up for the SWON Teen Reading Challenge 2015 (The Teen Reading Challenge is back for 2015!) and I will be on team Dark Sisterhood.  

As in previous years, the Challenge is a team competition. Form a group of three or more people and give yourselves a name. Log all the books you read, and at the end of April, I'll calculate how many pages per team member y'all read.
That is, a team of 3 people who reads 30,000 pages total has read an average of 10,000 pages per person. The same is true of a team of 30 people who read 300,000 pages. The team with the highest average-pages-read-per-person wins!
Librarians for the win!

Laura

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mock Newbery Award - 2015 Wright State University

Howdy
I attended a 1st Annual Mock Newbery Awards hosted at Wright State University. We met Saturday, January 17th from 9am-2pm at the Charles & Renate Frydman Educational Resource Center in Allyn Hall.  Prior to meeting we had all read 10 fiction titles with the potential to be considered at the real Newbery Award. I read most of my books as e-ink but I learned that people on the Newbery committee are required to read all potential titles in print, so no audiobooks, e-ink, manuscripts, galleys are ARCs are allowed. 
The announcement of the 2015 Youth Media Awards will take place at 8:00 a.m. Central time on Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition in Chicago. (YMA)
 We debated the pros and cons of each of the ten titles.  Below are main ideas to take away and the results of our vote. 

Candidates:

  • Alexander, Kwame The Crossover Houghton Mifflin Harcourt                           (ISBN13: 9780544289598) 

Pro - verse format, sports, strong parents, rhythm and flow, parents took turns taking care of each other, family dynamic, solid involved married, responsible adults, relevancy, realistic, figurative language, chapter titles structure the novel as though it were a game, sibling rivalry, advice that we hear but don't accept, look like you aren't paying attention but you consider it later

Con - hard to visualize things, couldn't always tell brothers apart, seemed more teen than juvenile, moves on the court are too advanced for junior high kids, newspapers don't often cover the junior high games even an all star team for junior high, foreshadowing with father was a missed chance to do something


  • Auxier, Jonathan The Night Gardener Amulet Books/Abrams                           (ISBN13: 9781419711442) 
Pros - amazing art work, embedded storytelling, fun characters, kids as the smart ones, sister as strong protector, reference to other stories , good emotional content, loss of parents put in historical context, advanced vocabulary, mystery, stories to deal with conflict, concept of the ghost in the tree, crutch called courage, movie potential, what are you willing to put up with even if it’s hurting you or killing you

Cons - not enough art work, slow plot, not scary enough, the ending as sort of a let down it felt like the easy way out, too dark? absent parents, predictable, elements of background knowledge the children may not have a reference to or familiarity with

  • Engle, Margarita Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal, HMH Books for Young Readers (ISBN13: 9780544109414) 
pro - novel in verse, good way to learn about a new topic, school use with history lesson, emotions, frame for talking about current events, different styles of poetry like those for the animals, concrete poems, human impact on the environment , complete picture, language was beautiful, believable characters, learned the most, comparison to South African Apartheid

con - most readers won't be familiar with any of the history, teen,  need to convince a teacher to use this as a class novel, don't see teens picking this up off the shelf


  • Lloyd, Natalie A Snicker of Magic Scholastic (ISBN13: 9780545552707) 
pro - fun quirky family, magic, vocabulary, Jonah is a strong character who follows his beliefs, refreshing, fun, wove in real experiences, hopeful and uplifting, words matter more than you know, symbolism, creates a connection to other characters with the words, emotional language, wins you over, debut novel, kids crave a bit of the expected, family setting is realistic, attractive cover but not childish, old souls

con - too familiar, too predictable, easy to compare to many other novels

  • Martin, Ann M. Rain Reign Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (ISBN13: 9780312643003) 
pro - dog story, character with unique challenges, Aspergers, single parent, strong uncle, unexpected ending, based on truth story, teaches empathy, quick accessible read for a wide audience, understand Rose’s worries and those of her classmates, contrast of father's voice with uncle's voice, uncle saw the good in her, fun with homonyms, very clear in her descriptions, see her improvement with support of the uncle, feel her frustrations, no one was trying to change her, learning coping skills, think about the things that we say

con - characters were caricatures, only main character and family seemed real, does not seem realistic that if her schedule was changed so often that she got upset but at home lots of things went wrong that she handled better, character being left home alone

  • Preus, Margi West of the Moon Amulet Books/Abrams (ISBN13: 9781419708961) 
pro - cultural details, folklore, vocabulary, story of the crossing was instructive, can understand how much people what they were willing to go through to get to America, unique, fresh, mystery of the sister, master storyteller, makes you want to hear the tale, seamless, journey, suspending disbelief, distinguished 

con - few adult characters are redeemable, helpful notes are at the end to explain every thing but you really need the notes during the story to understand the plot as it is happening,  fairy tales are over done, beginning was contrived, disconnected with reality, abrupt ending, dark and unresolved elements

  • Sheinkin, Steve The Port Chicago 50 Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan             (ISBN13: 9780804167444) 
pro - compelling history, first hand accounts, great  for classroom use, unique content and presentation, positive contribution to Civil Rights knowledge, power of redemption, takes away from the shining glory of war stories, hard realities, strong details, parallel to Tuskegee Airmen, narrative nonfiction, made it personal, well researched

con -  bland writing, not descriptive , needed notes on the pages to explain where the information came from, court room drama was sort of glossed over, needs to work with a great storyteller, reader is left with a lot of questions, help reader put information in context 

  • Starmer, Aaron The Riverman Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan                         (ISBN13: 9780374363093) 
pro - strangely compelling characters, story draws you in, dark, unpredictable,  two sides to everything, all the characters were duplicitous, science fiction elements 

con - maybe too dark, references to sex and kissing, for older readers, part of a trilogy , kids do a lot of mischief with pee in balloons, and someone is shot but they never call the police, sexual abuse, confounding, hard to explain or pitch to readers 

  • Wilson, N.D. Boys of Blur Random House (ISBN13: 9780449816738) 

pro -  boys are amazing like superheroes, magic, great imagery, strong themes about family, brotherhood and loss , relationships, adventure, appealing, strong mystery, dominant setting, Beowulf references, coach as leader, not horror but scary, visceral and tactile

con - dark magic , father is married to a swamp witch, geography unclear, doesn't deal with race, white woman is married to a black man but it’s not an issue, would it work better in a fictional town?, transition from realistic to magic is abrupt, doesn't deal with poverty

  • Woodson, Jacqueline Brown Girl Dreaming Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin     (ISBN13: 9780399252518)
pro - historical fiction, autobiography in verse, family, emotions, strength, lovely and touching, each poem can stand alone, flows beautifully, style was a good choice for the story, strong visuals, see change in history,coming of age,not the change agents just trying to survive, scared to have a voice, stand the test of time, relevance, tired of traveling, inner conflict, loved her mom but didn't like who mom was

con - slow pace, pictures at the end and not interspersed, how did she decide what to put in and what to leave out, no reconnecting with father, leaves out author's homosexuality, doesn't touch on her difficulty reading, how did she overcome her issues in school to be a writer



Verdict:

Winner:

  • Woodson, Jacqueline Brown Girl Dreaming Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin (ISBN13: 9780399252518)

Honor:
  • Alexander, Kwame The Crossover Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (ISBN13: 9780544289598)
  • Martin, Ann M. Rain Reign Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (ISBN13: 9780312643003)


Laura




Friday, January 9, 2015

How's Things?

Howdy
I have been on LinkedIn for about a week.  I have 27 connections.  I'm not sure how that number stacks up compared to people who have had their profiles for a longer time.  I have seen profiles with 300-500 connections.  I find it quirky that LinkedIn will suggest you apply for jobs that it has deemed related to your field.  Often you cannot read the job description  until you log into another website because yeah I need more passwords to remember.  Once you read the job posting it often isn't something you are qualified for or interested in. Some of the suggestions are laughably far of the mark.   Another facet of the site that can be bothersome is LinkedIn's seeming inability to allow for  unemployment.  The site prompts me near daily to enter my current position as if silly me, I just forgot I was going to work this whole time.  When you register for LinkedIn you are asked if you are job hunting. While this isn't the case for all people I think its fairly logical that if I am looking for a job it could be because I lack one.  At the very least I think listing  unemployed should be a possibility, I'm perfectly capable of berating myself for my jobless state without LinkedIn's help.  


Dilbert by Scott Adams 
Here are some more job hunt numbers.  I've now applied to 23 businesses and libraries.  I've received 2 more no's and set up 3 more interviews.   I am excited that one interview requires a presentation.  Hooray for planning and logistics, this is so in my wheelhouse.  Two positions I applied for had so many applications that we all received emails indicating that it would be a while before we heard anything.  It would seem that 150+ submitted  resumes is a bit beyond the norm for the library world.

When you are out of work people love to tell you to volunteer at the library for the  experience and to keep busy. I have a mental block about doing library work for free so I've started volunteering with the George Rogers Clark Heritage Association.  Initially I was to be setting things up to synchronize their social media a bit more; adding Instagram and hashtags.  Now it looks like I will be helping to update the brochure for The Fair at New Boston.   

Looking for more good news coming down the pike.

Why ask why?
On a totally random note, I read a lot of blogs. Big surprise right?  Who doesn't anymore? A lot of those blogs use GIFs.   I find them incredibly distracting.  I like GIFs. They are hilarious, but the motion is distracting when you are trying to read. I am going to work off the assumption that  many of my readers are constantly over-stimulated, sometimes intentionally so. This from the person who is on their laptop blogging while listening to and singing along with The O'kaysions as they rock Girl Watcher. I've got my phone right here, you know, just in case. (the converse of this is when the actual land line rings, that I stare at. Sometimes with my head tilted to one side a la Nipper of His Master's Voice RCA fame) My point?  I had one. Yes.  The point is that for my blog I will just carry on happily with my selection of text based humor and limit my graphic forays to the still and non-animated variety. 

Laura

Saturday, January 3, 2015

LinkedIn

Howdy
After some consternation about maintaining another profile, I took the advice of the ALA Think Tank librarians and decided to make a LinkedIn page.  There is some debate that LinkedIn might be better suited to other professions.  Many people felt that LinkedIn was helpful but they couldn't explain exactly how. I am going to keep track of changes in my employment status or lack there of, and see if I can learn all of LinkedIn's features.  Hopefully I will be able to trace LinkedIn's influence on my career.

Currently, I've submitted 20 job applications and I am working on another one.  I have have received 1 no, and 1 maybe that did not result in interviews.  I have had 2 interviews that resulted in 1 maybe and 1 second interview.  I have been out of work since  November  the 16th and it is now January 3rd.  As a self-proclaimed busy body this process seems slow.


Find me online.
While I'm networking my way to a new library job, I added some social media buttons to my blog.  I've seen this type of advertising on nearly every blog I visit but I hadn't thought about adding my own.  The other day I was reading Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits, and the social media buttons caught my eye.  I tried the Blogger widgets but I wasn't getting the desired effect.  I was surprised and then contrite to learn from the admin that she created her own buttons in Blogger.  

A benefit to LinkedIn is that it keeps track of information that you do not know when you might need but when you do need those statistics, the facts are presented nicely.  I have had several job applications ask about volunteer experience.  I do not keep track of the work I do because I could never think of a good way to organize it.  LinkedIn will organize it for you.  If I had started using LinkedIn as a new librarian I would have a hearty listing by now.  I hate to think of all the things I have forgotten just because I didn't write them down.

I do find it bothersome that LinkedIn continually asks me where I am currently working.  I think I have clearly listed that my last job ended.  One question even asks why you are creating the profile and an option is 'seeking employment.'  Those facts combined make it fairly clear that I presently have no job.


So many passwords.
I have discovered that people I didn't expect to use LinkedIn are online and  conversely  librarians who I assumed had profiles do not use the site at all.  Also, I was not prepared to see profiles for students I had as teen volunteers.   I am also a bit fuzzy on how all the connections work.  I can clearly see people whom I know and have worked with professionally but I cannot seem to add them as connections.  Maybe I have to wait for them to add me?  This does not seem proactive at all.


Only the employees we like
get desks and chairs. 
I see now that long term LinkedIn can have a lot of value.  The challenge is to start early and stick with it.  In the beginning, I thought Twitter was pretty boring too, but the more I use it to communicate the more interactive the experience.  

And because it wouldn't be a blog without a tangent, I love this picture I found looking for content commons clipart.   The image shows this fellow using social media but my first  impression was 'surely this man is on Amazon buying a chair', I mean its cold on the floor and after a while his back would hurt. 

Laura