Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Artful Kisser interviews me

She had some interesting, thoughtful questions.

1. You've been blogging since January 2005. What motivated you to start? What's motivated you to continue and how do you think it's evolved over the past three years?

I had just retired and was looking around for something to do that wouldn't get me into jail.

2. Excuse my ignorance, but I think the dude on the horse at the top of your blog is Paul Revere. (If not, please correct me!) What does he signify for you and what inspired you to grant him such a prominent place on your blog?

The dude on the horse is Caesar Rodney, a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Delaware. The statue sits in Rodney Square, in the heart of Wilmington, DE, where I live now.

3. In your very first post you wrote about being a librarian. You've written some entertaining anecdotes about your perceptions of strange characters you've encountered on both sides of the counter eg. the cross dresser, the lonely heart, the three year old patron amongst others. How do you think you were perceived? eg. the helpful librarian, the sexy librarian, the grumpy librarian, the pedantic librarian etc, etc.

I hope my staff perceived me as someone who would always stand up for them and encourage them to do their best. The public? Probably some of them hated me, because I was the person they encountered after they had been dropped on their head a few times. I grew to really like some of our patrons, and worked with them on several projects, including our Centennial Celebration. As for our Board of Trustees who were serving when I left, I would feel just fine about finding them dead in a ditch, individually or collectively.

4. Are you a Dewey Decimal fan? Have you ever had patrons complaining that books aren't in the same order as at Borders and asking where they can buy their frappucinos? Speaking of which what are your thoughts on how the place of the library has changed for the public over the years?

The Dewey Decimal System is just a method for putting the books in order so you can find them. I do feel Borders has a more attractive layout than the library--that's because they have to sell books. We struggled to find attractive ways to promote our books, displays, etc., with greater or lesser results.

American public libraries are the best in the world. They really welcome readers and try to help them. They don't do that in other countries. However, I really feel that librarians started to lose readers when we became cheap substitutes for the video store. Now no-one needs the video store, there are so many options. I love the fact that libraries preserve the best that humanity has written through the ages and that people still read these. But I fear that with our present education system people will be so ignorant that libraries will fall into disuse.

5. Is it true that our borrowing habits are monitored and certain books are flagged for nvestigation by the powers that be? Or is it urban legend and just more fodder for the paranoid?
Not in New Jersey. Library records are confidential by law, and librarians respect this. Borrowing habits are not monitored in libraries. However, if you buy books and DVDs online, they do have a record of your preferences, for business reasons. In the library, after the books are returned--we do have to know where they are when they are out--the records of who borrowed that particular item are erased from the database. So we couldn't tell anyone what you were reading if we wanted to.

6. Politics is clearly a passion of yours with a definite Republican flavour coming through. You briefly wrote about your transition from being a Democrat to becoming a Republican. Can you elaborate on how, when and why that change came about?

I was just starting to write about this. My father was an ardent leftist. I believe he voted for Henry Wallace back in the day. I got lots of leftist indoctrination in my private school, where they were ardent cheerleaders for the Soviet Union. When I grew up I started to read a lot of American biography and U S history, and began to think for myself. I was always a Democrat, though. At one time, someone I wanted to vote for was running in the Republican primary and I switched parties to vote for him. It was easy to switch in those days. Later, when I wanted to switch back, it was more difficult. I was still a Democrat at heart though. I thought Reagan was a damned fool for asking Gorby to tear down the Berlin Wall--everyone knew it was there to stay! But Reagan was proved right, and I and all the other Dems who thought he was a jerk were revealed to be the real jerks. Another thing that turned me off about the Democrats was their attitude to the space program --they wanted the money to be spent on "alleviating poverty." I thought the exploration of space was exciting. The late 60s and early 70s anti-war crowd annoyed me, too. I didn't like their self-righteous attitude. When we deserted the South Vietnamese, making the world safe for the massacre of thousands who had counted on our support, I was ashamed of my country.

7. Which politician, past or present, has inspired you the most in your life? What of their qualities appealed to you and why?

I loved Harry Truman and both Roosevelts. The more I read about Teddy the more fascinating I find him. I admire Rudy Guiliani's honesty. I admire John McCain and ardently support the war in Iraq. If we turn tail and run again, we will have a lot to answer for. As for the rest of the politicians, I can take them or leave them alone.

8. Which politician, past or present, has angered you the most and why?

None of our American politicians really anger me, but the rapturous crowds around Barack Obama scare me. They remind me of a Hitler youth rally. Also, he is a good speaker and a likeable guy, but insofar as he has admitted having any ideas, I disagree with him. However, he seems to think everything will be hunky-dory if we just join hands and sing Kumbaya--if it were that easy, Bush would have done it.

9. Who do you hope will be the next President of the United States of America?

I wanted Rudy, but will vote for McCain. I don't think anything else matters, if we lose the war against terrorism.

10. Your mother sounds like she was a formidable character; a lawyer who represented the tired, poor, huddled masses. You've written a couple of posts about her with great fondness. What influence did she have on you growing up and which of her traits, good or bad, do you recognise in yourself today?

I wish I could be like my mother--she cast a long shadow. I admired her honesty and generosity. The older I get, the more I realize how smart she was. I always thought my father was the smart one, but I think she had him outclassed. She could drive you crazy, but I drive my daughters crazy sometimes.

11. Your husband, Mr Charm, comes up occasionally in your reflections, as do other members of your family. How did you meet and how long have you been married? What brought you together and what has held you together? And does he read your blog?

Mr Charm and I met in the unemployment line in New York City. He was very good-looking and had beautiful blue eyes and a soulful look. I have always been a romantic and he looked romantic so I fell for him. By the time I knew better it was too late. We like some of the same things--music, books, and our gorgeous daughters and their absolutely beautiful children.

He doesn't read my blog. But he read my book, as I was writing it, and made intelligent comments.

12. You have an extensive blogroll. You're on a desert island with a laptop but only have access to 5 blogs - ever. Who are they? And why?

Oh, dear. I wasn't sworn in, so I can lie about this. Anyway, my favorite bloggers have links. Okay: I love Tim Blair and read him first thing. Mark Steyn is another favorite. Iowahawk is an extremely clever writer, and I love the Nose on Your Face. And Neil. And the Passing Parade--and...

13. And the obvious question that had to be asked on receiving Miriam's answers - You wrote a book? Can you tell me about it or is that something you prefer not to mention?

The book was a joint effort and was called Distinguished African Americans in aviation and space science. It consists of 100 short biographical articles about--you guessed it--African Americans in aviation and space science. Some of the biographees were pioneers who paved the way for others, some are contemporaries. We included all the Tuskegee Airmen we could locate. Most of these are gone now, and their stories are worth preserving. One of my subjects was Ron McNair, who lost his life in the Challenger disaster. It was a terrible loss--he was a brilliant man.

It was a perfect project for me. I enjoyed the research, especially communicating by e-mail with some of my subjects. The writing was fun, too.


Paul Mitchell said...

Oh, man this post is good, I was such a space junky that I am ashamed. I even have "Man on the Moon," which was a double album that has (I think) the entire communications recorded from Apollo 11. I haven't listened to the entire album though, it is so boring that I can't stay awake through it.

My family took a vacation to Datona Beach in 1969 and went through the entire facility at Cape Kennedy. I even have Polaroids of Apollo 11 on the launch pad.

And if you want some more information about the Old Negro Space Program, go here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxNAPqGDwCo

Tom Grey said...

Fine post (first time visitor) -- you should check out neo-neocon on:
A Mind is a Difficult Thing to Change.

Or, perhaps better, write your reaons for switching first.

For me, my first Pres. vote was for Jimmy C. After that I only voted Libertarian until 2004, when I switched to support W.

The Killing Fields are the biggest shame of my life.