Friday, October 12, 2007

The Red King's Philosophical Question

So I've been home sick with a stomach bug for the last two days, that has lead to major philosophical discussion time with the Red King. Doesn't it always when he's involved? This time the discussion came to Superheros. That also seems to be a common topic in our house. Anyway here's his question:
  • If you could pick a superhero to be, who would you pick? Why? Are you a Marvel or a DC hero? Are you something completely different?

Now for those of you playing along at home, there are some rules you must follow.

  • You need to pick a hero that you think you are like, not just one you think has cool powers.
  • It must be a hero you think represents your true "secret" identity.
  • For those players who have joined me in the COH realm, DO NOT pick your "hero". We need a well known hero to really psychoanalyze you! LOL.

An example I can use to show you is the March Hare. (Yes, darling I am outing your secret identity.) The March Hare is often referred to by our coworkers as Batgirl. This is appropriate on many levels.

  1. Batgirl has a utility belt. As a real life supermom I am sure the March Hare has one.
  2. Batgirl was really Barbra Gordon, librarian by day. March Hare is a middle school Media Specialist, aka a Librarian.
  3. Batgirl was witty, sweet, and kicked butt. All things March Hare is known for.

See this works. So I am posting this out to my readers - a challenge posed by the Red King.

  • Pick a known superhero as your alternate self and let us know why this is the hero most represented of you.

You've been challenged by the Red King and I am really curious about the results. I need to think about mine but promise to post it here. Oh, and in case you were curious, the Red King picked Dead Pool.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Silly Rabbit, Toxic Waste is for Kids!

So the biggest news on the home front this summer was the discovery that we live within 1/3 mile of one of Connecticut's largest Superfund sites. Shock was the least of our emotions. gives several meanings to the word Superfund. The definition that probably holds most to the use in our town is the following from Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English:
  • Main Entry: n
    Definition: a U.S. federal government program established for toxic waste cleanup

The truth is all this came to light when the EPA announced plans to meet with residents to discuss the future of more than 29 sites throughout out the town that are contaminated. We got a flyer to the house but it was such a plain looking flyer no one noticed what it was for. The poor little flyer found it's way into the junk mail pile and was promptly forgotten. Well, largely overlooked until a neighbor explained what it was. That was the end of July. Since then there have been several meetings and a large push by my neighbors to stop the plans. I understand and share many of their concerns. To fully understand you need a little history on the town's ongoing relationship with it's toxic waste-

"Raymark Industries, Inc. (Raymark) was a manufacturer of automotive brakes, clutch parts, and other friction components, primarily for the automotive industry. Raymark and its predecessors were located on a 34-acre parcel at 75 East Main Street in Stratford, CT. Raymark operated at this location from 1919 until 1989 when operations ceased. Raymark's manufacturing waste was historically disposed of as fill at 75 East Main Street, at a minimum of 46 residential properties, and at numerous commercial and municipal properties in Stratford. In addition, several wetland areas in close proximity to the Housatonic River were also filled in with Raymark's manufacturing waste. The contaminants in Raymark's waste consists of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin, semi-volatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), asbestos, and metals. Extensive testing of soil, groundwater, soil gas, indoor air, and sediments throughout the Stratford community has been conducted by the EPA and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP). The total population within 4 miles of the site is approximately 145,000. No known public drinking water wells are located within 4 miles of the site; however, a few private water supply wells may exist upgradient of the former East Main Street facility. Near some of Raymark's historical disposal locations, seed oysters are cultivated in the Housatonic River, and crabs and clams may also be harvested for recreational purposes. Selby Pond, located adjacent to Ferry Creek and the Housatonic River, has warning signs posted that informs the public that eels from this pond may have high levels of PCBs. The 34-acre former manufacturing facility at 75 East Main Street has been demolished, capped, and redeveloped into what is now known as the Stratford Crossing Shopping Center - which includes a Home Depot, Shaw's, and Walmart." Quoted from Superfund 365 - This site takes a one year journey examining 365 of the worst toxic waste sites in America. It's a fascinating and scary journey through the places we call home. Anyone at all intrested in the topic, and we all should be, should take a look. My hometown of Stratford, CT is day 40.

The EPA's best plan for our town it to take 26 smaller sites and consolidate their waste into one of 3 larger sites. The largest site is located three blocks from my home and while I am not keen on the idea, I do see why they are suggesting this site as the best option. The problems in our lives always seem to come down to money, don't they? This case is no different. There is only $21 million left to deal with this after the major site was capped back around 2000. It is the completion of that site that caused much of my own, and many of my neighbors', confusion. I found out about the Superfund after we moved in but, like many others whom are new to the neighborhood, thought it was a completed and finalized problem. I thought it was dealt with. Silly rabbit, there is obviously much more out there. So with money running low the consolidation plan isn't bad, it's just not necessarily the right choice.

The site near our home, referred to as OU4 or the Ball field, is smack in the middle of a highly residential area. There is a park right across from our house, complete with playground and pond. This park is also where the local high school plays football and has it's track meets. I am concerned that the most viable plan to truck this waste into the area for consolidation brings it right past this park. Yet the other two major sites are not better choices. All three sites are in residential areas. Besides ours, one is a wetland and the other is a beach area. What I do know is that the area that gets on board with the plan will have it's OU site capped. The sites that don't get completed? Well, who knows. Superfund has had it's funding slashed every year and this means less help each year for those that live around such sites. My neighbors have started a group to try and get power behind the fight - They are fighting for what they believe is the very lives of their families.

People often say something is good for an area. Prisons, half-way houses, psychiatric centers, garbage dumps, and health clinics are good things. Everyone thinks places like these will help the population in the end. Unless it's going to be located in our neighborhoods, then it's bad. These places and institutions lower our property values. We feel less safe. We feel abused. Not in my backyard! Still, someone has to live near these places. Someone has to pay the price. When it comes to toxic waste the same thing is true. The funding only goes so far. It has to go somewhere. How high a price is acceptable to pay though? Some pay for the good of the many? I get it, but when is the price too high. Lead, asbestos, and other poisons are in the land around where children play everyday. Is it acceptable to leave it? Is it acceptable to move it so it has a chance to be airborne? Children and families live near these site. It's not okay that money has to be a major factor. Where does that leave those of us who already have it in our backyards?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Dark, mysterious, and an all together great read. This book was amazing. I found it when it first came out and read it over a rainy two day period. I was totally engrossed and was sad to see it end. After recommending it to several friends, I reread the book a few weeks ago and listened to the audio on my long commute. Both the audio and book still held me enthralled. One co-worker, Wonder Woman (dubbed so by the March Hare) and I have spent every lunch for three weeks talking about this book. Wonder Woman even wrote notes in her copy, which as a librarian I am greatly disturbed by! LOL. Why is this all important? Because The Thirteenth Tale is one of those stories that gets under your skin.

The novel weaves together the lives of two women. One is Margaret Lea, a novice biographer and our narrator for the novel. It is through Margaret's eyes that we learn her story and that of the mysterious Vida Winters, England's best loved author. The tale that unwinds before us is a maze of mystery and verbal slight-of-hand. What you think you know if often incorrect and those nagging shadows of thought often prove to mean something deeper.

This is a love story written to anyone who has ever had a deep romance with reading. There is a line I love, spoken early by Margaret. "Reading is dangerous." It's in a part of the book where she talks about being so engrossed in a book as a child that she relaxed her body and fell off a wall. As a reader I understood that line. In a great book you can lose yourself within the realm of the book and not know there is any other world. Reading CAN be dangerous. Reading can let you live many lives. My greatest disappointment in this book is that it ends and there is nothing else I have found quite like it.

Book Description :
All children mythologize their birth...So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

What can I say. I'm a gamer who lost herself within the realm of "City of Heroes" for well over a year. I saw this book and had to read it. No regrets. It was so much fun! A superhero and a supervillian, the tale told from both sides of the spandex. This book was fast paced, hilarious, and also disturbingly deep. Who could want more out of a pleasure read?

That's the problem lately. With so much going on in life, and time just slipping away, I don't seem to get the "fun" books anymore. So much of my life is spent on the 'required' reading list. Reading for enjoyment seems a fond and distant memory. This brought it all back.

Now you may not be into the whole comic book world. You may say to me, "Fable, I want a book with substance and respectability. I can't be seen reading a book about flying crusaders and their arch nemesis!" In that case read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, it's a classic and not entirely stuffy. As for me I want a good story!

Go, pick up Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman to understand the villain. Pick it up to find the depth of character within a hero. Pick it up for fun. Just pick it up!

Book Description: Doctor Impossible—evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator—languishes in a federal detention facility. He's lost his freedom, his girlfriend, and his hidden island fortress. Over the years he's tried to take over the world in every way imaginable: doomsday devices of all varieties (nuclear, thermonuclear, nanotechnological) and mass mind control. He's traveled backwards in time to change history, forward in time to escape it. He's commanded robot armies, insect armies, and dinosaur armies. Fungus army. Army of fish. Of rodents. Alien invasions. All failures. But not this time. This time it’s going to be different...

Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the world's most famous super team. She's a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, a gleaming technological marvel built to be the next generation of warfare. Filling the void left by a slain former member, we watch as Fatale joins a team struggling with a damaged past, having to come together in the face of unthinkable evil.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Father Time is Overworked!

I'm not sure where the time goes anymore? Everything seems to go by so fast. It's already October and I feel as if it were only June a moment ago. Is it an age thing? Am I feeling time slip past me quicker now than I did when I was younger? I'm not sure, but I have a feeling it may be more than that. I have a feeling it's partially the age we live in that is at fault as much as it is my own AGE. Everything is faster now than it was when I was growing up, now grant you I grew up in the house that technology forgot and estrogen built - at least according to the Red King. In spite of that though, we only need to look at a few examples of the technological advances in the last 10 years to see what I am getting at.

Once upon a time, several years ago in the last century: -

  • There was no Internet. If you needed to research a topic you might have to go to the library. Now we have libraries in the 21st century. The difference? When you went to the library in the 20th century you looked your information up in a . . .gasp. . .book!

  • If you wanted to write to someone in the last century than you would write a letter and send it to that person through the mail. Now we still have mail in the 21st century, it's where you get you catalogues and Netflix DVDs.

  • In the last century, not everyone had a cellphone. You had to call some one's house phone. If that person didn't answer, you were lucky if they were technologically advanced enough to have an answering machine.

We now live in an age where we can keep in constant touch with family, friends, and work. This is both a good thing and a bad. I'm not saying it was better back than. Far from it, for I enjoy all things modern and techie. I find pleasure in the cutting edge, sometimes wildly outrageous, gizmos and gadgets. I just noticed that all this tech seems to make the world around us run a little bit faster. I can be on one of my games or talk on the phone and find hours are gone. Is it an age thing? Yes. The question become is it OUR age or MINE?