Monday, January 29, 2007

Every English Major has a Wish List Here....

Or at least--they should. From Kimbooktu it's another great link to Shakespeare's Den! Fabulous stuff including all of the insult mugs and pillows etc etc etc.

I love the jewelry and I'm going to now make myself sign off of the site so I don't buy everything...

Making changes....

A personal non-library posting....

There are defining moments in our lives that start us on a track for the future. Mine include a meeting in a hotel lobby with a woman who'd heard I was a good student, packing my car to go to graduate school and having my mother comment that I was moving out, walking into my former supervisor's office and telling him I was bored...and could I come volunteer for him, meeting a friend of mine to review an essay that I'd edited for him, and going to a friend's to get drunk after a really lousy week of interviews.

Sometimes you know these times will change your life. Other times, you're just there because that's where you are. I hadn't expected one cup of coffee to turn into a regular meeting of a friend and I for the better part of two years--always over weak coffee. I hadn't expected that boredom and job frustration would lead to an eight month volunteer gig that I prized. I certainly wasn't expecting White Russians to lead to a relationship.

I had another realization though... standing in a small white kitchen staring at a train passing by me. For the first time in months I felt like myself again rather than a gypsy in limbo. That realization is starting a year of change for me. In my mind I have a year--and at that point I want to be prepared for one of two major changes. I don't know which one it will be yet, I doubt I'll really have a good idea before next Christmas.

I feel somewhat resigned to this....but inside I'm screaming for a change.

My comparison for the weekend: "One is a tepid cup of weak green tea---the other is a fresh double shot of espresso"

And I'm a caffeine addict

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Library Card Generator---you know you want to

A number of people have pointed me to this but most recently I found it again from Kimbooktu -- an amazing blog that ever librarian and bibliophile should attach oneself to with haste!

But I digress...isn't that fun!! You can make your own library cards! Having spent 8 months transcribing a collection of those little suckers into a formatted table ONE card at a time...I think it's fabulous. Check out the Card Generator and have a great time!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Neal Stephenson as a TV Series?

Oh...heaven help us all. The Librarian In Black pointed me to this today---
For those Neal Stephenson fans out there, you will be either very happy or quite dismayed (or maybe both) to learn that George Clooney is teaming up with the SciFi Network to create a miniseries based on the book, Diamond Age.
Hmmm...I can't decide my feelings on this. I suppose it was inevitable. Stephenson's too good a writer and the Baroque Cycle was just too much to take on in one "miniseries" (I'm just starting the second book of the series...). And of course it's too late at night to call my sister and one of my nearest friends, both serious Stephenson fans. This was not my favorite book-- Cryptonomicon will always hold that place in my heart. Still, it's a good book and I don't know if I want to watch it on the small screen. The only good news I can find is that Stephenson is the one prepping it for TV---so at least SOME of the integrity of the book should be upheld.

Of course, you realize that now I have to reread it really fast. *sigh* and here I thought it was just gathering dust.

P.S. I think I'm offended by Library Journal's recent interview with Tim Spaulding for LibraryThing. They say that via the Unsuggester that
(e.g., if you like Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, you might want to veer away from Leigh Radford’s One-Skein Knitting)
I own both of these books. I really must get the rest of my library into my LibraryThing so I can totally confuse their Unsuggester. But no one ever said my reading habits were normal.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Get an Aristocratic Title to be Proud of....

Or--at least one that you can laugh at :)

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Empress Hedgie the Herbaceous of Chortling Chesterton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Friday, January 19, 2007

This is Your Online Life....

There are many, many days when I feel like I have more of a life online than I do in the real world. I have friends, colleagues, and coworkers that I've never met IRL. With the majority of them I have a healthy relationship. There are the ones I hear from all the time, the ones who check in and remember details that are just amazing, and the ones who you pass by on email and go--right, you, we have to swap bad work/interview/date stories again sometime!!

Not all relationships are healthy, though, and I am continually amazed by the people who put themselves into the online world and then start to create a negative persona. This has been a recurring problem that I've noticed on the list serves wherein I participate. Everyone has a bad/cranky day and those vents are generally taken at face value, dismissed as soon as we read another email. However, among the professionals there tends to be an understood law of civility--for most of us. The exceptions always make my blood pressure rise. Deliberately inflammatory posts, derogative, mean, and often without much background information.....

I'll admit it--if you interest me, I might Ask or Yahoo! you. If you annoy me--it's almost guaranteed that I'll run a search on you to see what turns up. One point that always makes me fail to take someone seriously--if I can't find a trail. If you don't appear to have existed online until last week (literally a problem I encountered with two provocateurs), how am I to know that you're not using a false identity? Shouldn't you exist...somewhere? Another point is when I find someone who just seems to complain on a VARIETY of list serves that are publicly archived. Then the person looks globally whiny--not just on my list.

The other point that bothers me--people who think their online reputation won't carry into the workplace, interviews, etc etc etc. Particularly in the small profession of library science, where we do all know each other, people network and remember. An insult or slur goes much further online than it can in person because now there's an archive of it. In the past six months I've heard only too often a chorus of "me expressing my negative opinion means I get picked on..." and other such woeful verses. I understand the frustration (often about job availability) but not the tone. Do you think I won't remember when you insult a librarian younger or older than you? Do you think I won't remember when you verbally attacked another person? Do you think your name won't trigger a warning bell if I ever see your resume? I think of it less as personal bias than professional preservation.

Said provocateurs are, of course, always just using their own right to freedom of speech. Yet they always seem incredibly affronted when others suggest that these very negative online manners might not assist their career paths. They seem to hold an assumption that "anything goes" online and that employers can't hold snotty online remarks against a candidate. I even heard an argument that we (the rest of the list readers) shouldn't judge anyone by their online presence but only by their printed resume. Only---what if I find your resume online? Does it not count because it's not a printed piece of paper? If you email it to me--isn't your cover letter then also online remarks? Should I discount that also?

We exist in an online world as much as we do in our physical one and our presence is as important if not more so here.

We now return to the real world so I can pay attention to the incredibly cute, "always ignored," pathetic cat who just crawled into my lap and started purring.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful....manuscripts

Ahhh...illuminated manuscripts. So lovely. So carefully done. Occasionally even---so bawdy.

But I digress. I have fond appreciation for pages carefully drawn/woodcut/imprinted/colored in detail I can't begin to imagine by men (primarily) whose entire lives could be devoted to this. I have a special place in my heart for the Book of Kells---the Chi Ro page of which I had as an enormous poster in my two apartments ago covering a big water spot on the wall. *sigh*

So of course I had to dive right in when I saw the post on Resource Shelf: January 2007 Curator’s Choice: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts from Western Europe

NYPL's Digital gallery is amazing to begin with but now there are even more lovely pictures for me to pour over. I wish it was as tactile as the real experience (where one peers from outside a glass casing...wishing one could hold the book and touch the page...) but I'll settle for being wistful in my apartment instead. At least that I can do at three a.m. when sleep eludes me again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

RSS--Read Specific Stuff

Brian Gray of Are You 2.o yet? pointed me to an interesting post the other day--that only 12% of users are aware of RSS and 4% use it. Link to original Yahoo Report.

In the past six months as a user, I've gone from delighted with RSS to overwhelmed by it. It's an amazing resource, particularly when channeled effectively. For a library job searcher, it proved to be invaluable. However, the low usage/awareness reported by that study doesn't surprise me. We talk about "Really Simple Syndication" as this great and wonderful tool---but a tool is only good if I have a reason to use it.

I was a slow adopter because I couldn't remember to check my RSS feed. Why would I want to check something beyond my email? Didn't everything come in email newsletter format? These seem to be similar concerns across the board as just last week a posting came through on a listserv asking for tips on how to get people to use their feeds. A suggestion came for email pushers--but unless you're up for a TON of email or you are only subscribing to a veeery select
number of blogs, this doesn't seem like an effective way to manage this tool. (Caveat: I don't use I can't speak for experience with them!!!)

When I'm trying to explain RSS, my best method is to find a subject relevant to the poor person who's caught me on a 'feed' high. I can explain to you how it made my job hunt easier but that won't help you learn to use the tool so instead we need to find something you-specific. My boyfriend, patient in being my guinea pig on occasion, is my (hopefully) latest adopter of RSS. His feed hook? Harley motorcycles.

After a brunch discussion a few weeks back about RSS/Reader/That thing I'm always giggling over, I talked him through the basics of Google Reader and signed him up for my blog. Then we scooted over to Yahoo!News and did a Harley search. After talking about XML/RSS boxes and other stuff for a little while, I left him to his own devices. Shortly thereafter I was asked to supervise adding a Harley blog to his reader. His reader now has a prominent post on his Google homepage---and he even had a phone comment on my earlier post.

It wasn't that he couldn't understand how to use the tool---but he needed something personal, like a Harley blog, that will have information he really wants to read to bring him back to it often enough to make it worth his time.

So my RSS is Read Specific Stuff---because there's too much information in the world and it needs to be weeded to the 200+ new items in my feeder.

Off to bed early (at least for this hedgehog)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Information--the Second You Need It

It's a balmy 23 degrees outside. I say balmy because the temperature at the domicile I was at this morning was a brisk -6 (plus windchill factor). It's a challenge to get one's car warmed up and scraped off when one's fingers and toes are strenuously objecting!

An interesting experience over the weekend. Whilst driving Saturday night, it began to lightly precipitate---somewhere in that icy yuk between ice and sleet--a moron of a truck driver decided to start playing chicken with 80 mph. Dark, rainy, a little slippery--and if I slow down I'm going to get hit. Fabulous!! Changing lanes wasn't effectual, neither was speeding up. Every half mile--flashing his brights in my back window (nope--no killer in the back seat) --and getting right up on my bumper. I drive a zippy Pontiac but seriously am no match for an 18 wheeler.

There were some serious prayers for a vigilant patrol officer to pull me over for going so fast. None were in sight though. Finally I decided to call for help. I wasn't sure where the next exit was and someone on the other end of the phone had to be able to help. I was just about to press 911 and there it was--a sign for the state's help line! A 1-800 number that connected me to a very nice young man who could tell me where the next exit was and could (more calmly than I could) contact the police en route. At this point the trucker decided that I wasn't going to be any more fun (apparently--perhaps he noticed the sign too?) and went around me, providing me with a nice view of his license plate.

The helpful young man got me off the interstate to a gas station where I could get a cup of coffee and a lower heart rate and passed my description of the truck to the officers of the next large city--who I can only hope were able to stop him.

Perfect information and help, just when I needed it. I think I'll put that help number in my cell phone for future trips! Other than was a delightful weekend!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Second Life....I'm trying

I don't really have a first life between the theater and this week's disaster commonly known as "it's January and we need you to design until you're blue." So to spice things up a bit--and because I keep reading all these other stories about it--I ventured over to Second Life and now have my very own little avatar.

My roommate groaned when I mentioned that I'd done so, until I explained that I've never played an RPG before. I don't really see this as something I'll get dreadfully into, but from a professional/informational perspective, it's intriguing. It's incredibly Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson. If you have an avatar and haven't read that book yet, you really really should. But from the RL of me I'm not into battling people--which seemed to be the focus of a number of the RPG's that I've seen. You conquer someone, get their money, buy weapons, etc etc etc.

I went through the orientation. That was initially not working well because my avatar wasn't appearing on my screen. Reloaded and she appeared. But I did my initial teleport and now I'm wandering around what? So I'm going to have to back search through some blogs I read and see if I can get some coordinates of stuff I'm interested in doing. I know InfoIsland is supposed to be fabulous, I just have to figure out how to get there.

I can see it being fun/fabulous but I can't see it becoming the be-all and end-all that some people are predicting. The online courses via Second Life really scare me. I went to graduate school with people who had never used anything more difficult that a word processor. I recall on various occasions teaching how to attach documents to an email and other basics. I do not begrudge that this education needed to happen, but you want me to explain to someone how to negotiate their avatar when they're having trouble understanding email attachments?

I think I want to go back to the video game I played in college (badly). It was a farm game where you worried about wooing a woman and planting and brushing your cows to make them happy. Does anyone know the name of that game?

ALA Accreditation Committee

ALA Committee on Accreditation Seeks Comments on Change
Link to the PDF

I think that this originally caught my attention via one of my listservs and I was excited to see a possible change in the accreditation process.

Background: My MLS program underwent re-accreditation whilst I was in the program. During that particular semester, two of our full time faculty were headed out the door. Granted, we didn't find out about this until May, but in retrospect I have a hard time believing they were fully dedicated to a place they were leaving. What made things more interesting, one of the re-accreditors had interviewed one of the professors that was leaving and would be a coworker at her new job. None of the students I spoke with felt like this was appropriate, though we couldn't really figure out a way around it. We got our re-accreditation and part of me is forever grateful that I got through my last semester and out the door before things really got shaken up. (Also grateful for the math professor who moved over and taught me database design!!!)

I was hopeful, when I saw this come up, that there might be a little more standardization going on or that there were some efforts being made to make some changes. The profession is undergoing a lot of change right now as we move to a century that thrives on computers, multi-sensory everything, all convenience all the time, etc etc. I have spoken with students from various programs and found enormous discrepancies in what is required, what is expected, and what is encouraged. While I know this is true for undergraduate programs too, most liberal arts programs at least have a similar core. Shouldn't there be a more stringent core for graduate programs?

I was disappointed with the changes that are being suggested-- it looks like the only thing they want approval of is that someone went through and edited the piece so it's readable. While I know approval of such change is necessary (I'm an editor and have worked in publishing), part of me is going "is that it?"

They got my hopes up and then ask me to approve "
The Standards should have explicitly numbered paragraphs, as it has in the online version."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


If the title of the blog wasn't explanation enough, I have a weird affinity for odd mammals of the animal kingdom. For a number of years I've collected elephants. I have twenty or so very adorable stuffed elephants, a few figurines, and a thing that hangs from a doorknob with five cloth elephants and a bell at the bottom. The cat finds this last thing one of her favorite toys and I've had to put it on a rarely used door in the apartment so we don't hear "jingle jingle" at all hours of day and night.

At some point during junior or senior year of college though, an affinity for hedgehogs emerged. I think it had something to do with the Beanie Hedgehog: Prickles that I bought at some point. It's a retired Beanie Baby if you really feel the need to go find it.

This didn't progress much further than a few AIM away messages and some desktop background downloads but slowly, I felt empathy for the small prickly creatures.

For Christmas I got my second stuffed hedgehog. It's from a store called Peebles and it's ADORABLE. My mom has good taste in such things (she's built most of the elephant collection). I can't find a picture of it...sorry.

And today, with the help of my favorite former editor, we found via Ebay: Hedgies!! They seem to only be made in England and most are of a romantic sort but aren't they cute!! As a slow collectible, this could work nicely.

Hedgehogging about...

(Apologies if misspellings--I can't seem to get spell check to work today.)

Maplewood update and Gwinnet

Greetings to those of you joining me from David Rothman's recent post. I'm not sure I can manage five separate links back to him but I'll toss in one or two for good measure so I snake into his Google Reader an extra time or two.

If you haven't read that post--about managing your RSS feeds, you might take a review. David mentions a few good ideas and I've started with one--putting all of the job feeds in one folder. I'm not supposed to be job hunting anymore but I don't think it's a bad idea to still see what is out there at my leisure. Not seeing so many feeds on the side of the reader is already starting to help.

I saw an interesting follow up to the Maplewood NJ story from the NYT that started so many listservs going last week. The town is now trying to find options that the library will deem acceptable to staying open. That story is here: Town Considers Guards for Library Disrupted by Students. This was of cynical interest to me in two fashions.

Part One of Cynicism: I'd seen a number of librarians scoff at the library and tell them they should have hired security guards. This was met with fervent "Don't you think they tried that already?" from other librarians in similar or even very different situations. Some also pointed to the response from the Board of Trustees.

Interestingly...if you Google Maplewood public, you get a place in Missouri. I bet their site count has gone up considerably in the past two weeks.

Part Two of the Cynicism: In the library board's message they note that the problem has been increasing for the past decade. Amazingly--two DAYS after they announced the possibility of closing after school the town stepped in with ideas to help alleviate the problem. Two days....after a battle of ten years. There's something sad when it takes publicity ---very negative publicity ---to get a town into action. At least they are trying now and perhaps something good will come of it.

Interestingly, from LisNews today, Gwinnet Library in Georgia appears to be dealing with a similar problem and, along with their police officer, now have a standard code of conduct to be enforced in the library. Brava to the director for stepping up and working to make the library an enjoyable and safe place for all. For many--myself included--libraries are seen as a safe place to go to, a third place that's freely available.

I hope it works for them!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A warm fuzzy moment

As I realize that the insomnia has set in yet again.... today's Rose is Rose is most cheering. May you get a Zen Hug when you need one.

(Also...professional massages are AMAZING. Highly recommended!)

We now return you to your normally scheduled world.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What's in a name? ---Dude, you got "plutoed"??

So from Resource Shelf today I learn that the American Dialect Society voted that "plutoed" as their word of the year for 2006. The general idea is to downgrade someone or to demote them.

Forgive me if I don't think it will catch on very quickly. I have trouble walking up to a coworker and saying "Did you hear? She was totally plutoed!" and having them look at me with anything other than confusion. Of course, they often like to do that anyway so perhaps life wouldn't change all that much.

I try to stay as "up" on pop culture as possible, despite a lack of much television watching. Even with the advent of Cable DVR and all of the accouterments of such things, the only channels I've found myself regularly clicking to in the last few years (okay, the last 7) were BBC America, TLC, The History Channel and whatever channel a former college roommate used to turn on before bed (it had a couple of shows I enjoyed and she always set the timer to shut off after Frasier so I didn't have to even think as I stayed up doing homework). So while I understand the idea of being punked, can speak with some intelligence on the latest dance/singing competition shows, and can discuss my favorite episode of House Invaders or Cash in the Attic (British version only please), I miss out on other trends.

Have the people on Grey's Anatomy and Law and Order been talking about being "plutoed?" Where was I when this became a word? But at least the press release does mention that they assume the most likely word to be used was "YouTube" in the verb format. Won't Google (the company, not the verb) have a lovely time telling us all we can't do that?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Daylight Savings Time Changing....

Just when I had gotten used to having to make the change (I grew up in a state that didn't observe daylight savings time)--they are futzing around with DST again...

Thanks to the LibinBlack for the heads up!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

LibraryThing...I think I love you

(Disclosure: This post actually requires you to open the blog to enjoy all of the giddiness)

Look !!

<--------------------- I managed to wander off with some code from Chris and Tim at LibraryThing (and a few other tweaking users). Now...just what you always wanted--a peek onto the shelves at my apartment. My roommate says we have our own personal library and she's right. Of the five bookshelves in the house, four of them are almost completely stuffed with my books and on the fifth one I have two entire shelves of DVDs. I discovered LibraryThing not that long ago to my excessive joy. What a marvelous way to share books and finally figure out what I own. I've only managed to input a couple shelves of books, leaning on the snack food side of literature. Waiting on clearance from the holiday bills to get my lifetime subscription.

But LibraryThing now lets you put a nifty gadget with your blog (or homepage, etc) where you can have random books (or specific) from your library circulate. So you can see that I own most of Julia Quinn's works, all of the MASH books (16), and --eventually--the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. Now if I could just get my Clancy books back from Adam so I could find the ISBNs.

Do you LibraryThing?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 in Review and a crazy new New Jersey

So...the two stories that I sitll haven't been able to make myself close today. First from Resource Shelf came the A-Z from I'm pleased, I suppose, that I know the majority of them. A few seemed trivial (see letter "H" for Paris Hilton) and a few were sad reflections on people (X for Xenophobia, R for Riots, etc). It's been a tumultuous year and such a year of change.

For me it was an incredibly crazy year--I moved twice, gave up my good solid 9-6 job to move halfway across the country without a new job waiting, stayed with a bf who started graduate school, knitted a ton but never enough, and have tried to redefine myself in a new city that I find I still don't feel at home in.

And now I face a new year here. As I was getting Christmas gifts put away and going through the glut of info in my reader (it'd been probably 3 days since I gleaned, you can imagine the backload), I found this from the New York Times: Lock the Library! Rowdy Students Are Taking Over .
Before I managed a cup of coffee, this one went to two of the listservs I read. General reaction is a little bit of horror and skepticism, as well as pity. We don't know everything the library has tried, we don't know if it's being played up, we don't know if the police just won't help. That being said--I don't think it was the best of ideas to close the library. There seems as though there must be another option and perhaps the city will now be forced to come up with one.

One thing that the Library afternoon closing and the rowdy middle school students demonstrates is a lack of place for students to go to just "be." Adults have "third places" with Starbucks being one of the most readily leaping to mind. We think nothing of needing another place besides work but we don' t make one for our kids. I ran into the problem in my hometown--still do, actually. I used to go to the library occasionally, but usually with my mom. But there wasn't somewhere that my friends and I could walk after school except a pizza parlor on a busy enough road that it made my mom nervous. I did extra curricular stuff to stay busy and was normally at school until 6-7p.m. but most schools don't have funding for that and, I'd venture to say, many students are not the geek that I was.

Where are kids supposed to go and what are they supposed to do? It's considered unsafe for them to go home and yet we can't get the funding to make school a 9-5 proposition so that everyone would get home at the same time. Can you imagine!! Perhaps two study halls so no work was ever taken home? Teachers might actually get a "prep" period plus a "study hall" to monitor. It might cut down on problems or it might just make them worse.

It makes me glad I'm not a young teenager anymore.

I can't buy it if I can't find it...on your website

I saw an interesting story this morning from the New York Times: Power-Sipping Bulbs Get Backing From Wal-Mart . It was an interesting story and I was curious about the prices of these light bulbs. If there's something I truly hate, it having to climb on a ladder to veeeery carefully unscrew the glass fixture that's hanging from my bedroom ceiling and change the light bulb in it. Considering how rarely I'm "in" my bedroom with a light on...a power saving bulb might last me half again as long as it's supposed to do so.

So off I went to (we don't have a Wally-world near here but I'm an avid online shopper of everywhere). Imagine, with such publicity, my surprise at my search results:
Walmart Search for "Light Bulb"

Hopefully that string will work --otherwise just head over to the site and type in "light bulb." On the first page of results there wasn't a single bulb! Same results for "Fluorescent bulb" and "Energy Efficient Bulb" So....what you're telling me is you are heavily promoting this light bulbs...but I can't buy them online? I know shipping is a precarious thing at best but I know my mom has had light bulbs shipped before and the same search at immediately returned not only regular bulbs--but the power saving kind that I was looking to find.

May I recommend that Walmart consider updating their online site when they get such huge publicity as an NYT feature article?

:) Cheers

Welcome to 2007

Happy 2007! Another year gone and I'm going to be misdating my checks for a while.

To do list for today includes:
1. Thank you notes from the holidays
2. Much knitting
3. Design a bunch of reports
4. Laundry

My...aren't I off to an ambitious start!! My resolution for the new year is to try and stay/get in touch with friends and family that I have drifted from over the past few years. The girls that I used to live with--the cousins with whom I exchanged many childhood letters--the host sister in Germany who is now married. Two more friends are getting married that I'm aware of thus far for this year. The mid-late 20s have kicked in and everyone's going family on me. I'm happy with my roommate, sharing her cat, and trying to figure out when I'm going to start my new job (Start Date...where art thou?)

Hope 2007 is a fabulous year!!