Saturday, December 18, 2010

Custom spine labels on lending library books

Books with "chalice" spine labelsBright, catchy graphics paired with a brief phrase, affixed to the spine of a book: subject classification labels provide an immediate display of what a book is all about.

The UUCLC Lending Library has a special “chalice” symbol on the spines of particular books. These books specifically address our Unitarian Universalist beliefs and heritage.

A library supplier provided “Fiction” labels that adorn our fiction books. Look for other, non-fiction, labels to adorn other books as well. I’ve found, however, that unique characteristics of our lending library require a custom approach. Hence, the chalice labels affixed to several of our books.

Other labels draw upon heros of civil rights and the Unitarian tradition. The books that are labeled “Biography” bear the likeness of Margaret Fuller, whose Bicentennial is being celebrated this year by the UUA.

The labels designating “Civil Rights” bear the likeness of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Watch for other labels to debut that further highlight the unique character of our UUCLC Lending Library.

While it is true that a reader cannot always judge a book by its cover, the subject classification labels are purposely designed to say a lot about a book’s character.

Cross-posted from the UUCLC Lending Library’s WordPress blog.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Daniel J. Vance interviews me as editor with Asperger’s syndrome

Daniel J. Vance, author of “Disabilities,” interviewed me as an editor who has Asperger’s syndrome. We talked about my childhood experiences being bullied, food sensitivities and the benefits of a special interest (in my case, the Society for Creative Anachronism) as the basis for forming friendships. Read his columns at

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bartimaeus tells it like it is

Book cover: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Do you have someone in your life upon whom you can depend to always tell you the truth, even when the truth is something that you would prefer not to hear? It was that quality in one of the main characters that appealed to me when I read The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

The stories: The Amulet of SamarkandThe Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate are set in present-day England but in a world where magicians rule the "commoners," or the non-magical folk.

As the story opens, the magicians' hold on power is increasingly threatened by the commoners' rebellion. There are also unknown traitors operating in the midst of the British government. The magicians' hold on power relies upon their use of otherworldly magical slaves like djinni, imps and foliots.

Nathaniel, one of the human protagonists, is apprenticed to a nondescript wizard at the beginning of the first book. After an older, more powerful wizard humiliates him in front of other wizards, Nathaniel's desire for revenge leads him to attempt summoning Bartimaeus, a powerful djinn.

From the opening pages, the action is fast-paced; the books make for enjoyable reading with well-developed characters.

Nathaniel saves the British prime minister at the end of the first book and in subsequent volumes, is increasingly part of the power structure that produced wizards like the one who humiliated him in the first book. In a poignant scene from the third book, he tries to reconnect with a commoner who was kind to him and tried to protect him as a child but she, observing the person he has become, says sadly that she didn't save him.

The narrative shifts perspective among the main characters, including Bartimaeus, whose first-person account is punctuated by footnotes, sarcastic comments and observations that are more frequently on-the-mark than their hearers want to admit.

Bartimaeus ceaselessly reminds Nathaniel of the person he used to be before he succumbed to political ambition. In many ways, Bartimaeus gives voice to Nathaniel's suppressed conscience.

I really liked this quality in Bartimaeus. He reminded me of a historic court jester, the one person from whom a ruler could accept hearing painful truths. This to me, seems extremely valuable because because I think that most of us too seldom hear genuine constructive criticism.

We might receive insults, extravagant praise or calculated silence instead, none of which does much good.

Some of us may choose to surround ourselves with people who tell us only what we want to hear; I presume that some sort of selection is involved, either conscious or unconscious, in culling people with honest tendencies.

But I think that people need to be told what they need and not want to hear and in spite of his mocking put-downs and his grandiose boasts, Bartimaeus calls it the way he's seen it for hundreds and hundreds of years.

How much better it would be if all of us could rely upon someone like Bartimaeus in our lives.

For more information about the Bartimaeus trilogy, visit The books can be requested through the Lake County Library catalog.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Toastmasters has policy of non-discrimination

As president of my local Toastmasters club, I am making a presentation to remind our club about Toastmasters International’s policy about maintaining member privacy, about its position of non-discrimination and about ethical conduct expected of us.

In my opinion, each Toastmasters club should make a presentation once a year about appropriate member conduct, whether or not any member’s behavior precipitated its need.

Toastmasters International is dedicated to protecting individual members’ privacy. Contact information is used only for official Toastmasters business. We have access to names and other contact information that we legitimately need to conduct Toastmasters business: for example to confirm assignments or to distribute the week’s agenda.

But it is inappropriate to harvest this information to promote your own political or personal agenda.

This includes, but is not limited to, names obtained from Toastmasters World Headquarters or any other Toastmasters sources, such as district or other Toastmasters directories, the Toastmaster magazine, Web sites, or electronic servers.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

‘Big Read’ puts everyone on same page

The book arrived from the publisher without any fanfare, wrapped in plain cardboard and sent through the U.S. mail. With no more effort than it took to tear open the perforated strip that sealed the package closed, the small church library that I oversaw was now part of a "common read." What an exciting moment!

My first experience with a common read was just a few years earlier, during an effort to encourage all of California to read John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. My husband and I read aloud to each other from my copy that had been given to me by Beth Volkman, the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School librarian.

It was intriguing, as we read to each other, to know that across the state of California, other people were reading the same book and that, moreover, public events were promoting The Grapes of Wrath. One of those events was organized locally through the efforts of Harold Riley.

My experience taking part in a common read had been very enjoyable so when the organization that oversees our local church selected a common read, I knew that I wanted to make the book available to the members of my church: to give them a chance to have that much more in common with people in other communities, in congregations around the world.

Lake County similarly has a chance to get everyone on the same page, as it were, with a countywide "Big Read" through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The project is being administered through the Lake County Office of Education (LCOE).

The Lake County "Big Read" will officially be launched in October 2011, beginning with the poetry, short stories and essays of Edgar Allan Poe.

According to Robin Shrive, who is the English Department chair at Lower Lake High School, the steering committee chose Poe because many people are already familiar with his work. Shrive said her goal with the Big Read is "to encourage the community at large, and reluctant readers of all ages, to come back to literature."

According to the NEA the Big Read is designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It cites its findings in 2004 that "not only is literary reading in America declining among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young."

The Big Read aims to address this crisis by providing citizens with an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.

As a lifelong reader and a volunteer librarian, I support these goals at both the local and national level.

Grant funding is available from the NEA but it requires a local match. The LCOE and the steering committee are seeking community partners.

A dinner and auction is scheduled for Jan. 8 at the Moore Family Winery. Proceeds go toward the one-to-one match that the federal grant requires. Tickets are on sale at various locations, including Big Read partner Mountain High Coffee and Books in Cobb and Hidden Valley Lake.

For more information about The Big Read, visit the NEA's Big Read Web site at For more information about Lake County's Big Read, call Robin Shrive at 994-6471, ext. 2733.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Death of Josseline: UUA common read in UUCLC Lending Library

Book cover: The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s common read for 2010-2011, The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, has arrived in the UUCLC Lending Library.

“With a sweeping perspective and vivid on-the-ground reportage, Margaret Regan tells the stories of the escalating chaos along the U.S.-Mexico border. A varied cast of characters emerges as she rides shotgun with the Border Patrol, interviews deported Mexicans and angry Arizona ranchers, visits migrant shelters in Mexico, and camps out in the thorny wilderness with ‘No More Deaths’ activists.

“Using Arizona as a microcosm, Regan explores a host of urgent issues: the border militarization that threatens the rights of U.S. citizens, the environmental damage wrought by the new border wall, the desperation that compels migrants to come north, and the human tragedy of the unidentified dead in Arizona’s morgues.”

A common read is an invitation for a community to read and discuss the same book in a given period of time. Rose Hanig, UUA Bookstore manager, said she has found it to be “an excellent community building activity.”

Interested readers can download a Discussion Guide for UU Groups (PDF), a flexible plan for leading one to four meetings focused on a common read of The Death of Josseline.

This is one of many books that can be found in the UUCLC Lending Library. Look for the portable library cart in the sanctuary on Sundays.

Cynthia Parkhill
UUCLC Lending Library
November 2010
Distributed via email list

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Commitment to an animal lasts a lifetime

Kitten season is upon us again and a greater number of unwanted animals is being added to the county surplus. During this time I hear of kittens and cats that wandered into the care of people who are not able to keep them but who want to do the right thing.

Wild-born kittens are at risk of becoming feral if they are not socialized to humans. A socialized cat is an adoptable cat where a feral cat is not -- and, alas, too often a feral cat's fate is to be euthanized. According to shelter statistics on the Lake County Animal Care and Control Web site, 2,032 unadoptable cats were euthanized in 2009.

I would like to believe cats could exist in the wild since they're equipped by nature to be hunters -- provided the lessons are taught in childhood by a hunting adult cat.

One night I watched a parenting cat, in this case a surrogate father, attempt to teach a kitten how to hunt, catch and eat a mouse. In spite of what seemed, to me, to be a very clear pantomime by the adult cat, the kitten just didn't get it. The lesson ended with the still-living mouse crouched between the kitten's front paws as she sat there not sure what to do.

What I've observed is that feral cats tend to congregate near enough to humans to rely upon them for food. Thus feral cats pose a risk of disease and injury to domestic cats.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that one female cat will produce three litters in one year with each litter averaging between four to six kittens. Each kitten that survives to adulthood will produce more cats.

So the message I hope I am getting across is that adopting an animal should not be a casual decision. Don't take an adorable kitten home unless you are prepared to accept responsibility for that kitten for its entire life -- not just for the brief duration of its adorable kitten-hood. Animals mature, they get sick and they grow old. They need love and care all the while.

It might help to realistically access whether other animals in your household will welcome an intruder in their ranks. Remember too that owners of dogs and cats are required by law in Lake County to have them spayed or neutered.

There are low-cost spay and neuter programs in Lake County to assist low-income families. The SPCA of Clear Lake is loccated at 8025 Highway 29 near Clear Lake Riviera; call 279-1400. The Animal Coalition of Lake County operates out of Clearlake; call Rita at From Me 2 U at 995-0552.

Lake County residents might also consider donating the cost of a spay or neuter surgery to lower the cost of an animal adoption. Call 263-0278 for information.

For more information about various issues related to animal adoption and to lifetime care of an animal, visit the Lake County Animal Care and Control Web site,

Published Nov. 16, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

‘Hattitude’: Cat mask from Venice

Cynthia Parkhill wearing blue and gold cat-face carnival mask

Carnival mask, brought by my sister Lauren back from Venice, Italy. There are mixed opinions regarding its inclusion in the “Hattitude” photo album. I view it as akin to my brother Andrew’s clone trooper helmet, hence acceptable for inclusion, whereas a co-worker ventures the opinion that “Masks are for faces, hats are for heads."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Observer American, part of county history

The Clear Lake Observer American turned 75 years old on Saturday. I hope that the paper is as integral today to the lives of its readers as it was when it made its debut.

The "Clear Lake Observer" debuted Nov. 6, 1935 and in 1945 it merged with the "Clear Lake American" to form the paper that readers know today as the Clear Lake Observer American.

During the course of compiling a history for the Observer American, I was proud of the influential presence that it had in the local community. It was a strong advocate in support for incorporation of the City of Clearlake, which was approved Nov. 4, 1990 by a 42-vote majority. The paper was instrumental in promoting a branch of Yuba College in south Lake County and it supported preservation of Anderson Ranch and marsh as Anderson Marsh State Historic Park.

The Observer American stands ready today to publish letters to the editor and readers' submissions of articles. It offers readers a first-draft look at south Lake County history.

For eight years, my personal history has shared its course with the Observer American, working first out of the Clearlake office that houses the Penny Slaver and later returning to the Lake County Record-Bee newsroom in Lakeport.

Being the editor of a weekly paper has been a maturing experience. Each week, I have a deadline to build each edition's pages. In preparation for Tuesday's production, I read reporters' stories each day with a view toward weighing their importance for south Lake County communities.

Even though the reporter's byline is the name that everyone sees, I hope that I create a favorable impression for the stories that reporters write.

While the weekly paper tends to be overshadowed by its daily counterpart, I believe that weekly papers hold a special place in American communities.

For breaking news, readers can turn to the Record-Bee but if they miss the day's headlines, the Observer American comes out each Wednesday with a review of the week's top headlines for Clearlake and surrounding communities.

When I was growing up, my hometown paper provided my first exposure to journalism, an interest that continued as I lived in other communities. I would read the Weekly Calistogan each week that it was delivered to my mother's home. My mother's photo albums include newspaper clippings that preserve moments in her daughters' lives.

Today, there is a second weekly paper serving my hometown.

As I've grown up, I've continued the practice of engaging with my communities through the pages of weekly newspapers, many of which now have a Web component that supplements their printed publication.

I've clipped and saved letters to the editor that I've submitted to various community newspapers. Even today as a Lake County resident, I still find occasion to write letters to the editors of the Weekly Calistogan and the Calistoga Tribune -- except that today, I will likely post a link to the letter via Facebook.

I hope that young readers in south Lake County schools are similarly being exposed to their weekly newspaper, either through their home, their school or the public library .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More shelters needed at bus stops

Balancing my textbook and portfolio in the crook of my arm, I hold my umbrella over me while fishing in my pocket with my other hand to produce my Lake Transit pass. The arrival of rain, while otherwise welcome, necessitates this balancing act.

As I make my trip between Middletown and Lakeport, the transfer points are equipped with covered shelters but the beginning stop and the final destination are open to the elements. The Lake Transit Authority has been working toward bus stop improvements, but I would like to suggest that service clubs consider assisting toward these improvements.

The May 2010 meeting of the LTA included discussion of forming a Joint Powers Authority with the Konocti Unified School District to permit students to construct bus stop pads and install shelters. LTA has also worked with the Clearlake Rotary Club, which volunteered to help installing concrete pads for bus shelter installation (official minutes, May 2009).

LTA minutes are archived online under "Agendas/Minutes" at

The advantage of taking on a project like that of the Clearlake Rotary Club is that the addition of shelters and other improvements would provide immediate enhancements. The rainy season has just arrived and having a sheltered area to wait under would greatly promote the use of public transit.

Environmentally, it makes sense to travel by bus instead of being a single motorist who commutes to work by car. If the bus schedule works for you, why not at least give it a try, particularly if a covered stop will keep you dry while you wait for the bus?

I like to use some of my bus travel time to catch up on assigned readings for my class.
Between Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs in several of our communities, not to mention area business associations, there are plenty of stops that could benefit. Why not consider working with Lake Transit to  "adopt" one or more stops that are in need of improvements?

A Transit Passenger Facilities Development Plan for Lake County, prepared by LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. and Pat Piras Consulting, outlines essential design principles including riders' ease of boarding and deboarding and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) requirements.

The document makes recommendations that are based upon the number of boardings per day, with a bench enhancement for those that have between five and nine boardings per day and shelter reserved for those sites with 10 or more boardings per day.

Personally, I'd advocate an "If you build it, they will come" attitude -- particularly if a service club is willing to make up the difference between what the document recommends and installation of full shelter. I think a shelter would make for great publicity to attract new riders to board, especially if a weatherproof panel could show a a map of routes and times for that stop.

The Transit Passenger Facilities Development Plan can be viewed at

Published Nov. 2, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Traveling by bus on week-long system pass

The car has been out of commission this week. Something is wrong with the struts and we've been afraid to drive it. For $15 I got a week-long system pass. I used it to get to and from work and also used it to get down to Calistoga.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All victims of bullying need support

Cover image: Perfect Targets: Asperger Syndrome and Bullying
PACER Center, a national group, is encouraging everybody to take a stand against bullying this Wednesday. Oct. 20, 10.20.10, is “The Day We Unite Against Bullying.”

Religious and political advocacy groups have drawn attention in recent weeks to students targeted by homophobic bullying. To their efforts, I would like to add recognition for another vulnerable demographic: that of students with “invisible” disabilities.

In her book “Perfect Targets: Asperger Syndrome and Bullying” (Autism Asperger Publishing Co., 2003) author Rebekah Heinrichs cites a survey taken in 2002 of more than 400 parents of children diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and nonverbal learning disability:
“Ninety-four percent of the parents responded that a peer had bullied their child at least once in the previous year. Compared to studies of the general population, kids with AS were four times more likely to be bullied, twice as likely to be hit or kicked in their privates, and twice as likely to be hit by their peers and siblings.”
The findings also indicated that children with AS and with nonverbal learning disability “experience high levels of peer shunning that seem to increase with age and peak in high school” (Heinrichs 7).

The text of this book was viewed on Oct. 15 using the “Look Inside!” feature on

I bring this up not to minimize the suffering of any one demographic group, or establish classes of victims as rivals, but hopefully to enlarge the focus of groups who have singled out a particular class of victim as being worthy of their support instead of giving their wholehearted support to all victims of bullying.

Anything less than zero tolerance toward all bullying is unacceptable to me. When members of my community pick and choose among victims of bullying, I view it as a personal betrayal because I was bullied and ostracized in school.

According to Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Center for Bullying Prevention, “There are 160,000 children staying home from school each day for fear of bullying.” She adds, that by people across the country working together, “we can make a difference.”

PACER is encouraging everyone to unite against bullying in their communities:
“With their parents’ permission, elementary school students can write 'The End of Bullying Begins With Me' on their hands, notebooks or T-shirts. Middle and high school students can tweet, text and post about bullying prevention, along with signing 'The End of Bullying Begins With Me' petition online at
“Schools can create an 'I Care about Bullying Prevention Because…' mural in the classroom where each student adds his or her thoughts about bullying. Communities can hold a special event to show they care about this important issue, including music, giveaways, speakers and more.”
Local actions include supporting  “Be the Change” clubs at Lake County high schools and encouraging students who are neither bullies nor victims to intervene when another child is bullied or ostracized.

“Be the Change” meetings take place at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Round Table Pizza in Lakeport. For information, contact June Wilson at 262-0291.

Lower Lake High School has a “Be the Change” team, which also meets regularly. For more information, call Amy Osborn at 994-6471, ext. 2707.

Zero-tolerance legislation should acknowledge that any child can be the victim of bullying and, instead of attempting to define the victim, it should focus upon the bullying, which, as observed by, is the root of the problem.

The “per­fect law” as envisioned by can be viewed in detail at For more information about 10.20.10 resources to unite against bullying, visit or call (952) 838-9000.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Class in library supervisor skills

I’ve enrolled in another half-semester course, since LIBT 101 ends as of midnight tonight. The new class is LIBT 108 and addresses supervisor skills. I’ve purchased my textbook from a used-book seller online and hope to have it soon. In the meantime, there have been online discussions to post to.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sustainability begins at home

The visiting speaker presented a simple message: vote against Proposition 23 in the November election and receive the gratitude of successive generations for stopping climate change.

A stainless-steel water bottle was nestled at the speaker's feet, but in the back of the meeting hall, snacks were being served on paper plates with paper napkins and plastic silverware. The majority of those present did not have reusable bottles or travel mugs, so beverages were being drunk from disposable cups.

I was disappointed that nowhere in the speaker's presentation was there any mention of practical changes in his listeners' lives and habits. His use of a reusable bottle could have been a starting point for an energizing dialog about sustainable daily habits.

I don't intend to sound as if I am picking on this single presentation. Only a few weeks earlier, I attended an event in a school gymnasium that was serving bottled water to its 100-plus participants.

In a school gymnasium with drinking fountains. Hello!?! What an absolutely unnecessary waste!

My main concern about the more recent presentation was the simplistic and limited nature of the solution that was being proposed to avert climate catastrophe.

Environmental disaster will not be diverted with a single vote in November. We make choices every day that will have direct bearing upon how much waste we generate and upon how much of the resources we squander will have to be replaced.

To start with, the stainless-steel bottle that the speaker was drinking from has counterparts that are widely available.

Ceramic bowls with sealable rubber lids are also readily available and make a great alternative to disposable take-out containers.

Reusable bags are made from sturdy canvas and also from recycled plastic bags. Imagine how fewer plastic bags will end up littering the environment if they remain at the checkout stand.

Public transit is increasingly available but the speaker's presentation took place on a day when the buses do not run.

Personal changes need widespread support. A reusable bottle can be filled from the tap at home, but refill stations need to be publicly available -- since an empty water bottle does no good to its carrier if it cannot be refilled.

Disposable plates and utensils could be eliminated in favor of those that can be washed and reused or by encouraging each person in attendance to bring his or her own.

Event promoters should consider the timing of their event and the venue's proximity to public transportation routes. They should then include that information in their pre-event publicity.

And yes, legislation does have a part in enforcing waste reduction; a proposition that attempts to undermine clean energy and air polution standards deserves to be defeated at the polls. But legislation alone can't be the only factor. Each of us must also make decisions that promote sustainability.

I was impressed by one recent event, SolFest in Ukiah, which was promoted as a bottled water-free event. Reusable bottles were available for sale and there were free water refills for everyone.

For a start, I would like to see more events where bottled water is not on the menu. For nonprofit groups to sell stainless-steel bottles with their logos printed upon them would be an excellent fundraiser.

For more information about hosting a bottled water-free event, visit

Published Oct. 12, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bookmobiles bring information to you

Historic bookmobile
Circa 1929: Book truck that served
Davidson County Public Library
(Bookmobile Library Timeline)
The bookmobile has had a long and illustrious history in the development of library services.

The purpose of this paper is to advocate resumption of bookmobile services in Lake County, particularly in those communities not presently served by a branch library. I suggest that in order to do so, the Lake County Library should apply for federal funding available through the California State Library.

The first “Library Wagon” debuted in 1905 in Washington County, Maryland, according to Mary Lemist Titcomb (qtd. in Dickson 53). Furnished “with shelves on the outside and a place for storage of cases in the center [it] resembled somewhat a cross between a grocer’s delivery wagon and the tin peddlers carts of bygone New England days.

“Filled with an attractive collection of books and drawn by two horses, with Mr. Joshua Thomas the janitor both holding the reins and dispensing the books, it started on its travels in April 1905.”

In 1912, Washington County also created the first automotive bookmobile in America, “an International Harvester Autowagon with a specially built body for carrying books” (Dickson 54).

Paul Dickson noted that “In the 1920s many libraries initiated bookmobile service ... The zeal and idealism that accompanied the burgeoning bookmobile movement was considerable” (84).

In the New York Times Book Review, Jan. 10, 1926, Francis A. Collins said, “The perambulating ‘book bus’ has indefinitely expanded the radius of the circulating library” (qtd. in Dickson 83). Collins noted that it was “not uncommon for one of these perambulating libraries to travel upward of 100 miles in a single day.” (qtd. in Dickson 83).

Correspondence from Jan Cook, a library technician at the Lake County Library, dates bookmobile services in Lake County as early as 1906. She cites a notice in the Lake County Bee, March 14, 1906, stating that “Lower Lake is now on the list of State traveling libraries.”

The next incarnation of bookmobile services, dated around 1960, was through the Lake County schools. “The school library collection was housed in the downstairs of the Carnegie Library in Lakeport” (Cook).

The state-operated, federally-funded Lake County Library Project purchased a bookmobile in 1972. Cook noted that “The purchased bookmobile stayed on the road until 1991. By the time it retired, it had begun to need frequent repairs and was often in the shop.” Cook’s husband Lee was the last bookmobile driver.

Cook said, “The early 1990s were much like today with very tight budgets, layoffs and cutbacks in local government. There was money available to replace the bookmobile, but not money to repair the old one, and not enough money to staff a new bookmobile, and so the bookmobile was quietly retired.”

Despite their absence from Lake County communities, bookmobiles have continued to operate and have evolved to incorporate patron access to technology.

Jason Hyatt and Angela Craig draw attention to the difference between traditional bookmobile services and the services that are available through the Mobile Outreach Literacy Vehicle of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, N.C.:
Staffers also unfurl carpets and put out chairs to create a portable Internet cafe. Patrons use laptops equipped with internal broadband cards. Children play online games, adults check their e-mail, and teens update their MySpace pages (Hyatt and Craig 35).
The outreach vehicle serves library patrons who cannot use the library in a traditional manner. “If they cannot come to the library, outreach can take the library experience to them” (Hyatt and Craig 35).

In what way is this situation applicable to the needs of Lake County residents? Lake County is served by a main library in Lakeport and by branch libraries in Clearlake, Upper Lake and Middletown. There is presently no library in the fifth supervisorial district, which encompasses the town of Kelseyville and surrounding communities.

“Population Projections by County and Communities” placed the population in Kelseyville at 2,928 in 2000 (Lake County). Its population was projected to increase to 3,312 by 2010.

In comparison, population projections for Lakeport and Upper Lake in 2010 were for 5,293 and at 1,142 respectively. The population in Middletown was projected to be 1,700 by 2010. Fixed-route bookmobile services could enhance library outreach among the greater Kelseyville communities.

Outlying communities in the Cobb Mountain, Spring Valley area and along the north shore of Clear Lake could also benefit from bookmobile services. As stated in the “Talking Points” for National Bookmobile Day, “Bookmobiles take library services to people who are not geographically close to a library building. Bookmobiles are [a] cost effective method for testing the location for new library branches” (ALA).

The bookmobile’s appearance at community events, such as the Kelseyville Pear Festival that took place on Sept. 25 of this year, would enhance public exposure to Lake County’s branch libraries as well as its bookmobile.

We see the benefit of such publicity to a traditional library in Raya Kuzyk’s report for Library Journal: The national tour of a “digital bookmobile” began in August 2008 with a public event that was hosted by the New York Public Library. Kuzyk’s report notes that “by 1:30 p.m., 50 visitors had signed up for library cards” (16).

If Lake County was to resume bookmobile services, the greatest expense would, of course, be to purchase the bookmobile. The “Talking Points” place the cost at “almost $200,000 on average, with an expected lifespan of 15 years” (ALA).

Funds must also be budgeted each year toward maintenance of the bookmobile as well as toward eventual replacement. The Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services recommends that a vehicle replacement fund, calculated at no less than 10 percent of the cost of a suitably-sized vehicle, be part of the library budget (1).

The ALA’s Handbook for Mobile Services Staff offers price breakdowns in greater detail by the chassis type in its “Ten Types of Bookmobile Chassis” (37-41). In addition to estimated price, it includes a wealth of information about each of the chassis types including accessibility, inside length available for services, average maintenance costs, general cost-effectiveness and suitability for general services. The information is rated on a continuum from “Poor” to “Excellent.”

To address the county’s investment in a vehicle and equipping it with technology such as WiFi services and library catalog accessibility, I suggest applying for a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act as soon as funding is available. “Each year since the inception of the Act, the State Librarian has awarded local assistance grants on a competitive basis for locally initiated proposals which meet the purposes of the Act” (California State Library, “LSTA”).

An examination of awards by grantee for 2009/2010 (California State Library) indicated that a competitive grant could more than cover the $200,000 average cost of a library bookmobile: $264,000, for example, awarded to the NorthNet Library System for its Rural Library Initiative and $277,200 awarded to the Pacific Library Partnership for its Networking California Library Resources. The Calfornia State Library is presently instructing potential applicants to check in early 2011 for available grants (“Apply for an LSTA Grant”).

Bookmobile staffing would require the allocation of library professionals’ time; the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services recommends that a bookmobile program be managed “with criteria equivalent to branch or other library program management criteria” (1). However, these efforts could be supplemented through the use of volunteers, similar to the way in which volunteers enhance operations at Lake County’s branch libraries.

One possible source to assist with funding any increases in personnel is pending federal legislation such as the Jobs for Main Street Act. The American Library Association’s is encouraging its subscribers to advocate for the inclusion of library jobs in any federal jobs legislation.

In conclusion, my aim with this paper has been to demonstrate the benefits that bookmobile services would have on the County of Lake, as well as to provide suggestions for funding that would aid in supporting this investment. Thank you for considering my proposal.

Works Cited
  • American Library Association, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services. Handbook for Mobile Services Staff. 29 June 2008, Anaheim, CA.
  • American Library Association Annual Conference: Mobile Libraries: Driving Library Services into the Future. 37-41. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.
  • ---. “Inaugural National Bookmobile Day, National Library Week 2010 Talking Points.” National Bookmobile Day. American Library Association. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.
  • Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. “2008 National Bookmobile Guidelines” (2008): 1. Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. Web. 15 Sept. 2010.
  • California State Library. “Apply for an LSTA Grant.” Library Services and Technology Act. California State Library. Web. 18 Sept. 2010.
  • ---. “The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).” Library Services and Technology Act. California State Library. Web. 18 Sept. 2010.
  • ---. “2009/10 LSTA ― Grant Awards By Grantee.” Library Services and Technology Act. California State Library. Web. 18 Sept. 2010.
  • Cook, J.M. (Jan). “Bookmobiles.” Message to the author. 29 June 2010. E-mail.
  • Dickson, Paul. The Library in America: A Celebration in Words and Pictures. New York: Facts On File Publications (1986). Print.
  • Hyatt, Jason and Angela Craig. “Adapt for Outreach: Taking Technology on the Road.” Computers in Libraries 29.9 (2009): 35-39. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Cuesta College Library, San Luis Obispo, CA. Web. 5 Sept. 2010.
  • Libraries & the Jobs for Main Street Act: Urgent Action. American Library Association. Web. 28 Sept. 2010.
  • Kuzyk, Raya. “Digital Bookmobile Begins Tour. ” Library Journal 133.14 (2008): 16. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Cuesta College Library, San Luis Obispo, CA. Web. 5 Sept. 2010.
  • Lake County. “Population Projections by County and Communities.” Demographics. Lake County. Web. 18 Sept. 2010.
Composed for Cuesta College LIBT 101, Introduction to Library Services

San Francisco Public Library Bookmobile

Cynthia Parkhill waves from in front of San Francisco Public Library Bookmobile

Jonathan and I spent Tuesday walking around San Francisco, first viewing Van Gogh, et. al. at the deYoung Museum, then walking from Alamo Square on the corner of Fillmore and Staynor down to City Hall. The bookmobile was parked in front of the San Francisco Public Library.

Originally shared on Facebook

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Work of Challenge Day begins now

Glass jar with label: "Your change can Be the Change."
"Be the Change" jar
at the Record-Bee
The "Be the Change" donation jar for Challenge Day at Clear Lake High School was on the table next to my desk on Monday morning, its cloth cover partially torn off the jar's opening. My co-worker Greg DeBoth gave the sad news to me when I passed him in the parking lot: someone had stolen the money out of the "Be the Change" jar; he'd found the jar outside next to the dumpster.

I felt deeply disappointed in whoever stole this money. It wasn't just a collection of bills and pocket change; this money was supposed to help "Be the Change"  for Challenge Day. As someone who'd endured bullying and rejection throughout my time at school, it was vitally important to me that students at Lake County schools enjoy a climate of acceptance that was denied to me.

Fortunately, whatever money we'd collected in our jar was only a small part of community support for bringing Challenge Day to CLHS. As its coordinator, June Wilson, detailed in a thank-you letter to the newspaper, donation jars were also set out at Natures Foods, Band Box and Catfish Books in Lakeport.

Students, parents and community supporters assisted with various fundraisers, including a bake sale, car wash, raffle drawings and other activities. The Lakeport Enhanced Education Foundation, Booster Club, Sober Grad and the Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County all contributed financially.

The Golden Pear Wellness Spa donated raffle items and the Forbestown Inn gave a 50-percent discount to the Challenge Day presenters, Jyoti Subramanian and Jake Cahill.

The donations' loss, while disappointing, could not halt the momentum of support for bringing Challenge Day to Clear Lake High School.

Subramanian and Cahill presented Challenge Day programs on Monday and Tuesday at Clear Lake High School, then presented two more programs on Wednesday and Thursday at Lower Lake High School.

I was among the adult volunteers Wednesday during Challenge Day at Lower Lake High School. Our first instructions as Challenge Day volunteers were to forget everything we knew about Challenge Day. Cahill told us that every Challenge Day is organic; that what the students want to talk about will shape each Challenge Day.

Each of us was encouraged to step outside our comfort zone and, for me, this included sensory challenges: bright fluorescent lights, many people in close proximity, loud music and people's shrieks.

The experience of Challenge Day was very rewarding for me. "Crossing the line" illustrated the similarities among people who may have appeared to be in very different circumstances. Subramanian recited various experiences and then invited people to cross the line if this applied to them. Adult volunteers and students alike took part in this and all activities. No one is an observer at Challenge Day.

Challenge Day uses an "iceberg" metaphor, where only 10 percent of what a person is, is visible on the surface. "Crossing the line" helps illustrate some of what lies beneath a person's surface. The "Challenge Day norms" encourage people to "Drop the waterline and get real."

Wilson told me that Challenge Day at Clear Lake High School was amazing. "Well over 210 students took the challenge and over 100 want to be in the 'Be the Change' club," Wilson said.

Do I think that four Challenge Day presentations alone will make our schools a better place? No more than did Robert Carradine's final speech in the role of Louis Skolnick at the conclusion of "Revenge of the Nerds" in 1984.

Hearing one of my classmates recount Skolnick's invitation to any of his college alumni "that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you're a nerd or not," to join him and his friend Gilbert, played by Anthony Edwards, I was seething that my classmate would parrot this speech, which had supposedly inspired her, while she continued to ignore me each day.

A lifetime of feeling alone and ostracized won't automatically come to an end after seven hours of shared experiences. But that doesn't mean I don't wholeheartedly believe that Challenge Day presentations should be an ongoing part of a student's high school experience.

Rather, it means that the real work of Challenge Day begins after the presentations, through ongoing meetings of "Be the Change" clubs on campuses, through follow-up "Next Step" workshops and through ongoing commitment to make zero tolerance for bullying and ostracism a reality.

Each of us must "Be the change that we wish to see in the world," in the words of Mohandas (Mahatma) K. Gandhi. The 80 percent of students who are neither bullies nor victims must withhold from bullies the passive compliance that permits bullying to take place. Our schools must have strong policies in place and then aggressively and consistently enforce those policies.

"Be the Change" meetings continue taking place at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Round Table Pizza in Lakeport. For more information about Challenge Day, visit

Published Sept. 28, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Library work: I’d love to incorporate graphic design, journalism

I would love it if my experience in journalism could be somehow incorporated into my work as a library professional: such as producing a library newsletter or working for Library Journal.

I created a letter­-fold brochure for members of my congregation to inform them about the lending library.

Through social networking, I promote a “book of the month” for the UUCLC Lending Library. I also write columns in my local newspapers that express support for the public library.

Composed for my studies toward an Associate of Science degree in Library/Information Technology

School libraries keep up with emerging technology

“[S]chool libraries also share with academic libraries the responsibility for promoting information literacy” (55)
Libraries in the Information Age
by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell
Library media centers appear to be particularly geared toward keeping abreast of emerging technology, which, in my opinion, would make them an excellent place to work if a library professional wanted to continually update her own information literacy.

Public libraries: Services and roles

“The mission of the public library is to meet the needs of its particular community” (43)
Libraries in the Information Age
by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell
My public library contains historical resources specific to Lake County: copies of government ordinances, history books, etc. It also includes work by Lake County authors, many of whom have donated copies of their books to the library system.

Public library service boundaries becoming blurred

“Public libraries serve a wider range of needs and objectives than most other libraries” (42)
Libraries in the Information Age
by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell
It's certainly true that, unlike school and academic libraries, which served me only for as long as I maintained an affiliation with the school in question, I have relied upon public libraries for my entire life.

Libraries do more than warehouse books

In a library, surrounded by book-laden shelves, Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips cartoon avatar and another cartoon woman sit at a table that has laptops arranged at each of the table's four settings
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips and added July 13, 2016
“[T]hose who see themselves as the keepers of books will be shelved themselves, and those who demonstrate that they can help solve other people’s information, imagination, and inspiration problems will always be in demand” (39)
Libraries in the Information Age
by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell
Each week when I pull hold requests at the Lakeport branch of the Lake County Library, the lion’s share of patron requests are among fiction and non­fiction books; however, library patrons are also requesting DVDs, audio CDs and books on CD or cassette.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick Press, 2006) is the first in a a two-volume series available through the library.

The story is set on the North American continent just before the American Revolution.

The lead character is a slave who receives a classical education, not knowing he is the subject of an experiment to gauge the capacities of his race and not knowing that society considers him to be another man’s property.

The book sheds an interesting light on a paradox of U.S. history: that while some settlers pursued freedom from the British crown, they were determined to keep their fellow human beings as property.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You too can write a review

An article dated Sept. 1 on the Library Journal (LJ) Web site, observes that "Reviewing is no longer centralized, with a few big voices leading the way, but fractured among numerous multifarious voices found mostly on the web."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Distance learning is viable option

Elizabeth on her very own shelf at my schoolwork desk.
After an interval of 15 years, I have returned to school. I am enrolled in distance-learning courses through Cuesta College.

Distance-learning is a new experience for me and I like its positive attributes. In many ways I find it far more compatible than attending classes face-to-face.

When I attended courses at Sonoma State University, I lived just down the street. My husband and I could walk together down E. Cotati Avenue and onto the SSU campus.

The really nice thing about going to school was that I could pursue studies for their own sake, especially at the two-year community college level. But even at a four-year school, where tuition was costlier, there was still room for me to explore my interests within the confines of applying credit toward my discipline.

The down side, however, was that attendance at class was subject to a pre-determined schedule, around which I had to revolve every other aspect of my life.

No other industry but retail would employ me at such variable hours and for very few hours at that, but combining that with my husband's income and with tuition assistance from my mom, the situation worked for me. In 1995 I graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from SSU.

Classroom attendance was also subject to its own limitations. Students sat either in desks and chairs connected by a metal frame that supported an arm rest on one side and left the other side open for access, or sat in rows of auditorium chairs that had an armrest platform that folded up and across the student's lap. In either situation, the arm rests were on the right-hand side of the chair to serve the student population's majority.

As a left-hander, I had to constantly ask for special accommodations. If none were available, I had to contort myself in order to write left-handed at a right-handed desk. It made full concentration difficult.

My attention during class was also hostage to distractions that were posed by other students such as conversations taking place around me.

Distance learning has none of those limitations. I begin and complete each of my assignments entirely on my own time.

My desk at home has been set up for my convenience as a left-handed student. The mouse and mousepad are on the left-hand side of the keyboard. My books are in easy reach on the shelves.

Best of all, the top shelf is set up to be a perch for my cat. A folded towel cushions the shelf and small pillows have been added that my cat can press against for full-body relaxing contact.

I like having my cat close by, because she's my peace barometer. Her calm-cat presence calms me.

There is no way I could bring my cat to a brick-and-mortar classroom. I'd be a bad and selfish kitty mommy if I subjected my cat to that trauma, let alone imposed the distraction of a loudly complaining cat on my classmates' concentration.

To be fair, distance learning is not for everyone. My husband is taking courses at Mendocino College and he said he prefers the classroom setting.

A person has to be self-directed to succeed taking courses online, according to Distance Learning information compiled by the Cuesta College library  ( Students must also still contribute toward class discussions via online posts. Our contributions to online discussions and other class activities are being applied toward our grades.

Distance learning collapses the barrier that is imposed by geography. The certification I am pursuing does not have its counterpart at a Lake County community college so online is my only option.

Aside from one in-person orientation that took place on the Cuesta campus, the entire program of study can be completed online.

I realize, of course, that I am missing out on extracurricular activities, such as clubs or other social events, but even when going to classes on campus, those held little interest for me. I attended very few events on the SSU campus. My husband and I went to the student union pub once to hear the Celtic rock band Tempest and we returned once to SSU after my graduation to hear investigative journalist Greg Palast.

As before when I was at SSU and now when taking courses online, I've built connections and take part in activities through other areas of my life.

Bottom line is that distance learning will not be for everyone but for those people who want access to a program that is not taught locally and who can motivate themselves to follow through, distance learning is a viable option for expanding educational opportunities.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Library training offers chance at new career

I have relied upon libraries my entire life, beginning with the Napa County branch library in my hometown of Calistoga. My mother arranged for my first library card and brought me at least once every week to my local library.

LIBT 101: Orientation in San Luis Obispo

We drove late Friday afternoon to San Luis Obispo, about five hours south of Middletown. I had an orientation to attend for LIBT 101, Introduction to Library Services, on Saturday. It was pretty informative and now I have weekly assignments to complete. I think the course will be interesting.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tenacious Talkers: Select Distinguished Award

L to R: Cynthia Parkhill receives Toastmasters "Select Distinguished" award ribbon from Jeff Shute
Left to right: Cynthia Parkhill and Jeff Shute
By guest writer Sharon Shute

FINLEY – Toastmasters International awarded Club No. 8731 — Tenacious Talkers, the Select Distinguished Award for 2009 – 2010. Jeff Shute, Division – G, Governor, presented the ribbon to Cynthia Parkhill, President of Tenacious Talkers.

Tenacious Talkers is having its Division Fall Contest, Aug. 26 in Finley.

Tenacious Talkers meets at 6:15 p.m. each Thursday at 2150 Argonaut Road in Finley. For more informa­tion about the club, call 279-0381 ext. 5704 or visit http://tenacioustalkers.freeto­

Sharon Shute is vice president of public relations for the Tenacious Talkers

Enrolled in Cuesta College for library and information certification

Fifteen years after earning her BA in English from Sonoma State University, Cynthia Parkhill has re-entered the community college system. Drawing upon her lifelong reliance upon and support of libraries, Cynthia is pursuing certification in Library and Information Technology.

Cynthia is an editor and columnist for two Northern California newspapers, the Clear Lake Observer American and the Lake County Record-Bee. Cynthia frequently discusses support for the library in her weekly newspaper column.

Cynthia volunteers as administrator of a church lending library for her local Unitarian Universalist community. She also volunteers each week at the Lake County public library, pulling hold requests for users of the library throughout a three-county shared catalog system.

Other interests near to Cynthia’s heart include zero tolerance for bullying. Cynthia was bullied by her classmates at school and when, as an adult, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder), she learned that being the victim of bullying is a common experience among people with Asperger’s syndrome.

Cynthia cites her local public library as a vital and important resource for learning about her diagnosis.

When people approach Cynthia wanting information about Asperger’s syndrome, the public library is the first place that she recommends that they go. Cynthia envisions someday curating a library collection that specializes in Asperger’s syndrome and ASDs.

Composed for DIST 101, Introduction to Online Learning

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Prop. 8 ruling restores equality

What a great gift to be given last Wednesday, the knowledge that loving and committed couples are that much closer to being able to wed. I was overjoyed that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Proposition 8 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

Prop. 8 was nothing more than an exercise in mob tyranny. A majority of only 52.3 percent approved amending the California Constitution to eliminate same-sex couples' right to marry.

A California Supreme Court ruling in May 2008 struck down California marriage laws that banned marriage for same-sex couples. As an aside, I believe San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom should earn an honored place in California history for first putting events in motion that brought about this landmark ruling.

When Prop. 8 eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, it preserved the legally-wed status of same-sex couples who married during the brief interval of time from when the California Supreme Court ruling took effect, until Prop. 8 successfully amended the California Constitution.

The first challenge to Prop. 8 was a waste of time and energy because its focus was procedural instead of on people's rights. The challengers should have heeded what is written in the California Constitution: that while the California Legislature must achieve a two-thirds majority vote to amend the constitution, California voters can amend the constitution with a simple majority.

Hence my characterization of Prop. 8 as an exercise in mob tyranny. I'm sure that those people railing against Walker as a so-called activist judge who overturned the "will of the people" don't concern themselves with the 47.7 percent who were opposed to Prop. 8. Far from representing the will of a vast majority, the outcome of Prop. 8 was determined by a mere 5 percent.

This latest challenge, the subject of Walker's ruling, made more sense to me. It directly addressed what was so objectionable about Prop. 8: that it eliminated people's rights. Heck, it even said so on the November 2008 ballot.

In spite of a pending appeal, I share the joy of same-sex couples who have made commitments to each other and who are that much closer to having their equality restored. I believe that legitimatizing same-sex relationships will strengthen our society as a whole.

My husband and I have been together for 18 years and I've never understood the rationale that denying same-sex couples the ability to wed was a "defense" of marriage. In what way has my husband's and my relationship been strengthened and protected by other people being denied this right?

The top reasons that people divorce, according to Linda M. McCloud on, are money, infidelity, poor communication, changes in priorities, lack of commitment to the marriage, sexual problems, addictions, failed expectations and physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

If people want to strengthen or "protect" marriages, than these are the problems they should address, instead of attempting to impose restrictions upon whom can be legally wed.

If anything, marriage will be strengthened with that much more couples able to wed and to share and model their strengths as they overcome the genuine obstacles cited in McCloud's article.

To follow the Prop. 8 ruling and its aftermath, including requests by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown to immediately allow same-sex marriages to resume, visit

Published Aug. 10, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tie online comments to registered accounts

The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Mass. has implemented a policy to discourage obnoxious commenting on its online discussion threads: charge a one-time fee of 99 cents through a valid credit card and attach the user's name as it appears on that card to all comments the user makes, along with the user's community.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Abuse by priests causes lasting harm

I was standing in the recording studio at Cornerstone Media, Inc., preparing to voice a radio spot, when Father Don Kimball's hands abruptly began wrenching my shoulders from behind. The shooting pain in my neck and shoulders made me cry out in agony.

As abruptly as it had started, Kimball's "massage" immediately ceased. "It wouldn't hurt if you had regular massages," he said angrily.

His anger was so unexpected and sudden and the reason was unclear to me. I had not asked him for a massage and he had not asked if he could give me a massage before roughly grabbing and handling me. He acted as if the pain I was in was somehow entirely my fault.

Thank God Father Don Kimball never touched me like that again.

My association with Cornerstone took place in the late 1980s to early '90s. I was part of a group of young people who scripted and and voiced radio "codebreakers" that were set to popular music and dealt with issues faced by our peers. During those times when Kimball was in town, he worked with us to produce our spots.

The confusion provoked by Kimball's behavior that day was difficult enough for me. Only later, through reports in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, did I learn what further dangers I had unknowingly been spared.

Kimball was suspended from clerical duties in 1990 after admitting to sexual misconduct with six underage girls.

The Roman Catholic Church reached a $1.6 million settlement in April 2000, in a civil lawsuit in which four plaintiffs said Kimball had molested them in the 1970s and '80s. Kimball was convicted in a criminal trial of molesting a 13-year-old girl, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the accusations were decades old.

Five additional lawsuits involving Kimball were filed against the Santa Rosa diocese when a law took effect in California allowing victims of crimes that had aged beyond the statute of limitations to sue for damages. One of those cases was settled by the diocese for $3.3 million.

Out of nearly $20 million in settlements paid by the Santa Rosa diocese, one-fourth of that went to settle claims alleging abuse by Kimball.

When the news first broke, I didn't want to believe that Kimball had done such heinous things. I wanted to be able to look up to someone who had been an early mentor to me -- but my own disturbing encounter with Kimball made the victims' accounts believable.

Particularly disturbing were details that emerged about Kimball's relationships with his victims, including his use of massage. Thanks to my chronic pain that flared under Kimball's rough handling, I believe I dodged a bullet.

To its credit, the Roman Catholic Church appeared to take rare responsibility when it defrocked Kimball in 2003. Many other cases allege that the church quietly transferred its priests to remote communities where they preyed upon new victims.

There are cases all over America and Europe and the allegations of cover-up extend as high as his Holiness himself, Pope Benedict XVI.

NPR recently publicized demands by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests: that the pope immediately order all Vatican officials, cardinals and archbishops to turn over all criminal evidence and abuse files to law enforcement, that Benedict give a full account of his actions in sex abuse cases while he was archbishop in Munich and later when he was the enforcer of church doctrine and that the canonization process for Pope John Paul II be halted until there is a full independent investigation of whether the late pope was involved in cover-ups of Catholic clergy.

Kimball died in 2006 and while I consider it a shame that his radio ministry for young people was overshadowed by scandal, the truth is, he brought it on himself. He was an adult in power, he misused that power and he caused lasting harm as a result.

For the sake of all victims of abuse committed by Catholic priests and for the misplaced trust of people who believed in and looked up to them, the Catholic Church must cooperate with investigations of cover-up into abuses by priests.

Published July 6, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cynthia Parkhill is Toastmasters club president

By guest writer Sharon Shute

Cynthia Parkhill with Toastmasters member badge
FINLEY – Cynthia Parkhill has been named the new president for Toastmasters Club No. 8731, Tenacious Talkers.

Parkhill has been a member of Toastmasters International and the club since January 2008.

Starting Thursday, July 1, Parkhill will be club president for 2010-11.

Parkhill has earned Competent Communicator and Advanced Leader Bronze. She also served as vice president of public relation for two terms.

She writes a weekly column in the Lake County Record-Bee and has a weekly segment on a local radio station, KPFZ 88.1 FM.

Tenacious Talkers meets at 6:15 p.m. each Thursday at 2150 Argonaut Road in Finley. For more information about the club, call 707-263-5350 or visit

Sharon Shute is vice president of public relations for the Tenacious Talkers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

‘What happens in group, stays in group’

Alcoholics Anonymous is reminding friends in the media to observe its longstanding tradition of anonymity for its members. I’d like to suggest, as delicately as possible, that 12-step clients must also remember that “What happens in group, stays in group.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Humans are poor readers of cats

The Harbin Hot Springs office has a small bookstore that stocks a new book by Temple Grandin: Animals Make Us Human. She’s one of my favorite writers because of her ability to articulate her perspective as a person who is on the autism spectrum. Jonathan bought a copy of her new book for me.

Temple devotes a chapter to cats and I have to disagree with her statement that cats do not have very expressive faces. Other people have said as well that cats do not smile but when Elizabeth curls up next to me, the expression on her face is very clearly a smile. She is very expressive.

Elizabeth does not show her teeth when she smiles; that’s a display of aggression  There’s something disturbing and even grotesque about superimposing human mouths with their bared-teeth smiles onto the image of a cat and dog. I’ve seen a picture like this, I think, at a local dentist’s office.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that humans are poor readers of cats. When I wrote my short story called “Monkey’s Christmas Tree,” I had him articulate the perspective that his swishing tail was a very obvious sign of his no longer wanting to be petted. But the human antagonist didn’t pick up on the signals he was producing so he had to swat at her with his paw.

Transcribed from a personal journal

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calistoga teachers should promote Poetry Out Loud

I am writing to encourage Calistoga educators to participate in Poetry Out Loud. As a graduate of Calistoga Junior/Senior High School, I would like to see this opportunity made available to CHS students today.

Logo: Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest
Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to memorize and perform great poetry. It begins with classroom competitions and the winners advance to school-wide, state and then to national finals.

This spring, I observed the Poetry Out Loud competition in the County of Lake. Three very talented young people competed for the responsibility of representing Lake County in the state competition. The students’ performances were very diverse and showcased the very different styles of poetry that are available through Poetry Out Loud.

I was disappointed to learn that my hometown school was not represented this February in the Napa County competition. I would have loved to have an opportunity like this when I attended CHS.

Kate Demarest with Arts Council Napa Valley has just sent word to arts supporters that Poetry Out Loud launches again in the 2010-2011 school year: “School competitions will take place in the fall, the Napa County finals early in the new year and the California State finals in February.

“If you would like more information on the Poetry Out Loud program please visit the California Arts Council at where you will find links to both the California and National competition.”

Calistoga educators who would like to participate are invited to contact Kate Demarest with the Arts Council Napa Valley at Teachers’ guides and other tools are available at

Published June 17, 2010 in the Weekly Calistogan
and June 18, 2010 in the Calistoga Tribune

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A&E section is finalist in Better Newspapers Contest

The Arts & Entertainment section that appears each Thursday in the Lake County Record-Bee has earned a "finalist" mention from the California Newspaper Publishers Association in its 2009 Better Newspapers Contest.

The A&E section is produced each week by Cynthia Parkhill, former editor of ArtNotes.

A&E sections that were originally published Oct. 9 and 16, 2008, were submitted to CNPA in the daily newspaper category with a circulation of 10,000 or less. The Record-Bee's entry was among the top 10 percent in its division, which advanced to final judging by a Blue Ribbon committee.

Submitted June 9, 2010 to ArtNotes,
quarterly members' newsletter of the Lake County Arts Council

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is your PR under a conspiracy of silence?

There are many events taking place in our community that organizers keep to themselves. The unfortunate consequence of such a decision is that the newspaper tends to get the blame when an event does not see print.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot cars can be fatal to animals

One month ago, at the Earth Day celebration at the Calpine center in Middletown, my husband and I saw a dog inside a parked car. There was shade over the car but we were still concerned. So we stopped at the California Highway Patrol booth. The officer there agreed to check on the animal and later reported that it seemed OK.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Candidates can benefit from Toastmasters

Candidates for offices that are up for election this June have made a variety of appearances at community forums. Moderators posed a series of questions and imposed time limits within which the candidates could articulate their thoughts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Original fiction: The Kingmaker Plays Her Hand

You think that you’ve got problems; try being younger sister to the most popular guy in school.

I am only too aware of all the ways in which we differ, so there’s no need for you to point it out. My brother is an all-star athlete and I’m picked last in P.E. He’s in Gifted and Talented Education and I’m not, even though our IQ test scores differ by a mere three points.

“Don’t drive like my brother!” Did I mention that my brother gets to drive his own car? While I have to ride the bus.

Everybody loves my brother, and I have no friends at all. Not even my own family. My parents always ask me why I can’t be like my older brother.

I am always picked on at school, with some fascinating gender differences. While the girls at school merely put me down for qualities intrinsic to myself, the boys all want to be like my brother and they constantly rub it in my face that he is everything I’m not.

You'd think my brother would stand up for me, but he can’t stand his tag-along sister who can't make friends on her own. He’s always first in line to let me know that, next to him, I’m nothing but a toad.

My brother has always been well-liked but he wouldn’t be so hugely popular if someone hadn’t catapulted mashed potatoes at him in the school cafeteria. He reacted with a sort of wounded dignity that won everyone to his side.

Did I mention my brother is in drama? He gets the lead in nearly every play.

No one gave a thought to the underclassman troll whose well-aimed volley catapulted my brother to instant high-school stardom.

Last night, a plan occurred to me and today I put it into action.

Four boys came up to me and began taunting me in the cafeteria. I took careful aim at the leader of the boys and let fly with my spoon. The glob of mashed potatoes hit him squarely in the chest.

The boys were taken by surprise and I used their surprise to my advantage. “I have just given you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” I told the startled boys. “You are on equal footing with your hero. Please sign this waiver acknowledging that results may vary by individual.”

I proffered additional copies of the waiver to the other three boys, advising them that I had plenty of mashed potatoes left on my tray. “I gave your friend a free demonstration but I’ll offer you the same opportunity for a mere $5 each.”

My tray was considerably lighter when the mashed potatoes were gone, but I’m going after school to the comic book store. I’ve got $15 to spend.

Copyright © 2010 by Cynthia M. Parkhill. Published in “Creative Expressions” in the Lake County Record-Bee

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Children with autism don't just disappear

The 2010 TIME 100 poll includes Temple Grandin among its nominees for the world's most influential people. Diagnosed with autism when she was a young child, Grandin, 62, is a professor of animal science, an author and speaker.
Grandin has a unique perspective as a person on the autism continuum. She relates the qualities that give her insight into the fears and perspectives of animals in her book, "Animals in Translation."

I shared radio time with Grandin nearly one year ago. I sat in the KPFZ studio with show host Chloe Carl during an episode of Earthwise and Grandin joined us via long-distance telephone. I also read many of Grandin's books, such as "Thinking in Pictures."

Grandin credits her mother's influence upon her success today. Her mother refused to give up on Grandin; she rejected the suggestion that Grandin be placed in an institution. Grandin's mother made clear that good manners were expected at all times. Her mother also used turn-taking games to help Grandin learn social skills.

You can learn more in a book Grandin has co-authored with Sean Barron: "The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships."

Grandin is inspirational to me, because I see many similarities among circumstances in our lives. Absent only a formal diagnosis, I faced similar challenges with teasing and ridicule at school. Like Grandin, my earliest successful relationships involved a common interest: horseback riding for Grandin and medieval reenactment for me.

Grandin and I also share a concern that an autism diagnosis should not lead to diminished expectations for a person's capability.

I harbor feelings of anger and resentment that when I was going to school, my difference was not understood. Autism diagnoses in the United States  were subject to very rigidly-defined criteria until the mid- to late-1990s. By then, I'd already left high school and had additionally graduated from Sonoma State University.

I see children today receiving individualized support; I see bullying addressed proactively -- in school policy, at least.

My former school district,  Calistoga Joint Unified, accepted a $3,200 donation from Cody Kirkham for  Challenge Day at Calistoga Junior/Senior High School. The CHS drama department presented a performance of "Bang, Bang You're Dead." That told me that bullying was at last being acknowledged in my former schools.

At the same time, I wonder, if some of this support had been in place for me, would I have turned out differently? At a minimum, I would have missed the revelation at age 39 that there were others like me in the world. I may also have risked being influenced by other people's beliefs about what I could or could not achieve.

I think it is important, however, to raise the profile of adults on the spectrum. The most recent statistics claim that autism affects one in 94 children. Much less is said about these children's grown counterparts and any services they may need.

Children with autism don't just disappear, to paraphrase an observation in Oliver Sacks' "An Anthropologist on Mars." "In a strange way," he writes, "most people speak only of autistic children and never of autistic adults, as if the children somehow just vanished from the earth."

As an adult who learned as an adult that I am on the autism spectrum, I am not entirely familiar with what resources are available to me; I do know, however, that I'll have to research and secure them for myself if they seem appropriate.

There are no reparations for me if I should ever need support, because the school district's responsibility to me ended when I turned 21.

But to see Grandin in the TIME 100 poll, to read her books and hear her speak is a reminder that there are adults on the autism continuum. People who may be trying to make sense of an autism diagnosis -- for themselves or for someone they love -- can look at Grandin and see possibilities.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Volunteering at Lakeport Library

For two hours today, I volunteered at the Lakeport Library. I pull items from the shelves for which people have submitted hold requests: books, audio books, DVDs and music recordings. I scan their barcodes into the computer to get their routing information, prepare a tag that indicates where in our three-county library system each item is to go and finally I pack them for delivery.

Consider that other people at other libraries are doing much the same thing at least three times a day. The Sonoma County Library, which hosts our catalog, stated in a recent newsletter that 800,000 hold requests are generated in one year. I cited the figure a few weeks ago in my newspaper column.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

National Library Week at UUCLC Lending Library

ALA Graphics poster with UUCLC Lending Library partner logo: National Library Week, April 11-17, 2010. "It's a hub of activity where communities thrive. In tough economic times, libraries give free access to books and computers, homework help, assistance with resumes and job searches, accurate financial information, adult education courses, assistance for new Americans, CDs, DVDs and much more."

This Sunday marks the beginning of National Library Week, April 11-17. What better opportunity to acquaint yourself with our UUCLC Lending Library? Look for the rolling cart full of books in the main hall on Sundays.

The mission of the UUCLC Lending Library is to serve as a resource for deeper understanding of the Unitarian Universalist faith and to present our congregation with reading material from a variety of spiritual traditions.

Some of its recent acquisitions include Forrest Church's sure-to-be-a-classic book, Love and Death. We also have four copies available of the UU Pocket Guide.

Another resource, also newly-arrived, is A Chosen Faith, a classic introductory text on Unitarian Universalism.

Combine these resources with a variety of other fiction and nonfiction books, many donated to the library by members of our own congregation, and you have a dynamic resource that helps our UU community thrive.

Originally distributed via Google Groups email list.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Schools set the tone for bullying

Comic strip in three panels. The first panel's narrative reads, "When teachers bully." A human-looking rabbit says, "All right class ... everybody take hands." A girl and a human-looking cat are also in the frame. In the second frame, the rabbit says to the cat, "No one wants to hold your hand so you have to hold a pair of combs. The children next to you can hold the other ends." The cat has a sad look on her face. In the third panel, the rabbit happily says, "All right! Take hands!" The cat has an angry look on her face and her hands are on her waist. The narrative reads, "How I hated her ..."

Nine students face criminal charges in the suicide of Northampton teen Phoebe Prince (Boston Globe, March 30, I believe school administrators should similarly be subjected to criminal prosecution.

Prince, 15, hung herself Jan. 14. Charges filed on March 29 against the high school students ranged from criminal harassment and civil rights violations to stalking and statutory rape. When filing the charges, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said Prince had been subjected to a nearly-three month campaign of "verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm."

Scheibel said her investigation determined the abuses were "common knowledge" among school administrators.

According to the Associated Press, an anti-bullying consultant said she'd advised parents and officials at Prince's school months before Prince hanged herself but that the officials didn't follow her advice. Barbara Coloroso told CBS's "The Early Show" that South Hadley schools "had policies, but the procedures need to be toughened up."

It's tempting to view this tragedy as remote, an isolated occurrence. But I know that bullying takes place here in Lake County schools -- and, that, moreover, school officials look the other way.

Consider a child who, when taunted on the playground, was told by an aide to go somewhere else. A child whose teacher told the child and her tormentor to work things out between themselves.

In response when hearing these accounts, I could only ask, "What is wrong with these people?" Exactly what is it going to take, to make our schools take bullying seriously?

If a bullied child later lashes out with violence, will school officials accept their share of the blame for having withheld earlier support? Should someone submit a claim for psychiatric costs to treat Complex PTSD that was based upon long-term bullying?

One Lake County district had to settle in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union because of abuse directed against a student for his perceived sexual identity. There are still Lake County students who face similar abuse.

I believe from first-hand experience that schools create the settings in which bullying is allowed to flourish. Even though the teachers weren't involved in the name-calling, the shoving and the systemic rejection that I endured from kindergarten on, I believe that teachers and administrators allowed this school culture to exist.

One teacher actively promoted it. When asking her students to join hands in a circle, she kept a supply of combs on hand. To children like me, with whom my classmates did not want to take hands, she gave a pair of combs -- one for each child on either side, who could then grasp the other end of the comb.

Please understand that these teachers of mine were otherwise well-meaning and decent, with the exception of the lady with the combs. She was evil incarnate to my elementary-school mind. But never-the-less, these well-meaning people put me on display as a school-wide outcast when, in PE, they had the most popular children choose sides for athletic teams.

I don't remember any attempts to quell bullying other than asking me to explain "how I felt" in front of the class.

I am grateful for tolerant officials who at least abstained from punishing me when I acted out from stress. The exterior wall of the principal's office bore visible signs of my rage -- black marks from my kicking it.

It angers me that, almost 25 years after I graduated from high school, bullying still takes place. It angers me, too, that programs exist such as "Challenge Day" and some administrators don't see a need to promote a school culture of acceptance. I only wish there had been a "Challenge Day" when I went to school.

The Konocti district uniquely has an anti-bullying policy in place. Board Policy 5131, "Conduct," explicitly prohibits: "Harassment of students or staff, including bullying, intimidation, so-called 'cyber-bullying,' hazing or initiation activity, ridicule, extortion, or any other verbal, written, or physical contact that causes or threatens to cause bodily harm or emotional suffering."

The policy requires that processes be established whereby complaints can be submitted anonymously.

"Complaints of bullying or harassment shall be investigated and resolved in accordance with site-level grievance procedures specified in AR 5145.7 -- Sexual Harassment." That is, any school employee to whom a complaint is made, must report it within 24 hours to the school principal or designee. Any school employee who observes an incident of bullying, is required to report it, whether or not the victim files a complaint.

How easy would it be for other districts to adopt -- and then enforce -- a similar policy. I hope that discussions of district consolidation present opportunities to do just that, instead of focusing upon how much money can be saved. Any discussions of consolidation must include zero tolerance for bullying at all Lake County schools.

Published April 6, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

California must invest in its colleges

My objective seemed simple enough: enroll in a California State University and earn a Master's degree. But what should have been a straightforward quest has instead been fraught with frustration and anxiety.

A complex online application process failed to disclose, up front, what documentation I would need in order to complete the form. I had to advance through multiple screens abruptly demanding information. If I left an answer blank or my answer made no sense, I was subjected to screen after screen of do-overs, highlighted in glaring red.

In the end, my effort was pointless because the cost of tuition is so far out of reach ... only, somehow, the Web site failed to make this clear until after I'd submitted a nonrefundable application fee.

Due to a limited amount of state support and a large number of students, the program that I wished to apply to was not admitting students into its state-supported program for Fall 2010. Instead, the only option available is a so-called "special session," which is not supported financially by the state of California.

The fees are "highly competitive" (I prefer the term "draconian") at $474 per unit.

So, for now, I've decided to give my business to a community college. It charges $26 per unit and I can take online courses in my field of study.

Maybe it won't be as prestigious as a master's degree but I believe these community college courses will be of benefit for the information that they provide me.

I think it bodes ill, however, for the state of California if it prices higher education so far out of reach. Some jobs require the completion of a master's degree: a librarian, for example. Will California have to do without librarians when those in the work force retire?

California must invest in higher education that is accessible to all, or else must suffer the consequence of failing to prepare its citizens to serve in positions that it needs. But instead, current events demonstrate a different trend.

The legislative analyst's office for the state of California states that Governor's Schwarzenegger's proposed investment of $11.5 billion in general fund support assumes that UC and CSU systems will enact fee increases and that access to financial aid will be reduced and restricted.

Discussing my problem with a professional in my field of study, she told me she had earned her master's degree in another state. The question then occurred to me: if people have to leave the state in order to attend colleges, what will entice them back to California to benefit our society?

Consider that during the course of study, these students may put down roots. You cannot assume that they will invariably live singly, unattached, in dorms. They may be in partnered relationships and raising families of their own.

How much easier and more convenient for themselves and for their families to seek employment close to the area that they have come to view as home: where their partner or spouse may go to work and their children may attend school.

Of course, for those blessed few who come from wealthy families, cost will not be an issue. They can go full-time to school in California or anywhere else.

But the rest of us will have to ask ourselves how our college education will be paid for. We'll have to jockey for available scholarships or take out exorbitant loans that leave us in debt for years after we've completed our course of study.

We may have to leave California and hope that other states place a wiser priority upon funding higher education.

Or we may take community college courses and hope that on-the-job experience helps offset the lack of a degree or hope that circumstances permit us to pursue a degree later on in life.

In any case, California will reap the consequences of the priority it fails to place on making higher education affordable. It will only serve us right.

Published March 23, 2010 in the Lake County Record-Bee