Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Genealogy Toy? Geni

I'm a bit of a genealogy buff--albeit an amateur one. I've drawn family trees for years and spent a couple of memorable summers with mother and sister, scuttling about in dreadful humidity to various courthouses seeking record information. I do not, as yet, have a personal subscription to with all the things they've been adding recently, I'm chomping at the bit to get into a public library again and make use of it as much as possible.

I saw a news story about the other day, I would attribute it if I could remember where it was. The idea of a new--free--genealogy site sounded interesting so I moused over.

Similar to LibraryThing's set up page--you just enter your name and you're off. Within about ten minutes I had my direct branch set up going back through great-great grandparents with as many names as I could remember. Super, I have a tree. (Pop quiz: what was your great-great grandmother's maiden name?)

Geni is set up as a social network. I fill out my part and then email my family and they fill out their parts etc etc etc etc and so it is supposed to grow that way. I chose only to email my sister but went back today to see that she'd filled in the aunts, uncles, my first cousins and a few of their children. All of that seems interesting EXCEPT---

I can't figure out what else I can do with it? I'd like to print out the tree and take a look at it--and there isn't an option to do so. That doesn't seem very helpful. It's also hard to get a good idea of the scope-one has to zoom out on the tree and it becomes unreadable.

So, it's interesting, I like it but I'd like more features. Hopefully more will come.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

"Gusty Girls" Reading :)

An interesting story from the Seattle Times on Grrrl Reading. The premise behind it is a girl book group reading books with strong female protagonists and selecting things from the books to enjoy at book gatherings. It comes from , which is a snazzy website. The book group/myspace/etc etc goes live on March 1.

I think the site will be more popular with the tween-early teen crowd but the books will hopefully have a broader appeal. It is said to be intended for 12-18, which is a WIDE age range of reading. I haven't read the book they're planning to start with, so I can't speak with great intelligence on that point.

Strong female protagonists. Hmmmm, should I feel guilty that I just bought another 15 romance novels over the weekend so I had some new fluff to read on the train? (Disclosure: Half-Price books is a dangerous dangerous store; I should never be allowed book shopping with my family; and I bought five Tom Clancy's and a couple of sql books too...)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Net Neutrality Video

Sharing an interesting Net Neutrality video. It's a good reminder of things that we need to fight for--especially all of the sad little bloggers who won't have the money to pay for the "express lane" of Internet.

thanks to David for the link :)

Another Funny Music Post

Courtesy of the MLA-L :)

Rachmaninoff Had Big Hands

I have relatively large hands--at least according to my last piano professor, who loved the fact that I can actually comfortably REACH a ninth and can squeak a tenth on a good day. He compared me to classmates who could just barely reach a sixth and who were trying to play octaves.

I miss playing piano.... :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mike McGrorty, APA, and the State of the Paycheck

Mike McGrorty, over at LibraryDust and on NewLib-L has managed to stir up the dust for this week. He wrote an appeal for support for ALA-APA and sent it out to be chewed on, chewed up, spit out and on, etc etc etc.

I think Mike is incredibly brave--I think it takes a lot of guts to ask people who are making low salaries, facing difficult job markets and who are struggling to make their ways in their jobs to donate to a new organization. While I agree with him that these are the change makers who have the potential to make things better, part of me can't help but feel a little annoyed at his tone.

Mike begins condescendingly telling how a library clerk's salary is barely enough to cover immediate financial needs. I know of a public library whose starting salary for a library clerk is in the $7 range, so I have to agree with this. However, I don't think that most of those said library clerks have 20K of graduate loans to pay off and he fails to address that many of the graduates of library school are ALSO stuck with what some may consider as dreadfully deprived social lives as they try to conserve funds to meet the student loan payments as well as the rest of the financial needs.

Mike also fails to address a barrier that I think faces many young librarians. We are told not to expect money, that we don't deserve money and that if we want money--we shouldn't be doing library work.

As an example, I will recall a job ad that I saw about a year ago on a listserv. The job, in the midwest, had secondary language and experience as mandatory requirements and was listed with a salary around $23K. A number of participants on the listserv were outraged at the high expectations and low salary. Said participants were promptly told that they shouldn't speak badly of the employer and that it was a "fair salary" for the region. The participants were advised that they should shut up and put up rather than making names as ones appealing for a higher salary. These new-ish librarians were advised that "someone would be able/grateful" for the job at that salary and that if we weren't similarly so...then shame on us.

That's a daunting barrier to overcome--especially when people who have jobs and hiring authority are saying it. When one is coming out of library school and trying to make a good online name for oneself, arguing for more money seems to get results of "you're greedy" rather than an understanding that the profession is being undervalued monetarily. It's a fine line to walk.

I would also advise that Mike consider that as we advocate for those library clerks, that perhaps they could advocate for us too? If we underpaid librarians are able to put down the peanut butter and pick up our checkbooks to argue for higher salaries for them, might they not also consider donating to our professional future too? Mike's post doesn't seem to apply to them.

I haven't decided yet if I will give money to APA. I'm still doing some research on the site. I imagine once I get a professional position, it will be something that I consider. In the interim I hope to feel like the profession is embracing the proposed change.

JFK Video available

George Jefferies and Wayne Graham recently a forty second clip of the JFK motorcade just seconds before the assassination. It's a bright sunny day in said silent clip and I liked seeing Jackie smiling and waving at the crowd. You don't get a really good view of John but still--can you imagine finding that in the family films? Costume geek that I am, I also enjoyed the 1960s clothing and hair!

Pretty cool!

Information found via Docuticker RSS

Rettig for President Video

Jim Retting had a YouTube video up that I was hoping to link to for his ALA Presidency candidacy. I liked it! It was simple, effective, and got his name and ideas into my brain. However, when I just checked the's been removed by the user. I wonder what happened.

I hope we get to see more videos like that! It's nice to put a face with a candidacy....

Thanks to the Librarian in Black and David Rothman for the link. If anyone knows why it came down--please let me know!

Keeping up with my brain

I liked Rachel Singer Gordon's recent post on Multitasking. It's a nice reminder that some people need to do more than one thing at a time.

I was fast tracked as a child--pushed through school fairly quickly and still with a lot of distraction on my part. In my house, I don't remember not multitasking (my mom and siblings were much the same way). In undergrad and grad school, this meant I had two notebooks going--one with whatever the teacher was talking about and one with whatever I was thinking about. It wasn't that I wasn't interested in learning, I just don't know how to only do one thing at a time. Now I listen to Jane Austen novels while I enter data into a database, knit or read whenever I'm watching a movie (and usually while I'm on the phone, or at work, or on the train....), and try to make myself only drive while driving.

Were I to go through the educational system now, I'd probably be described to be ADD. I don't think I have trouble concentrating or learning though. I have had friends who were ADD--compared to them I'm terribly blase and focused.

It's a grazing way of life and so far I enjoy it. I eat in much the same fashion, wandering through the kitchen and snacking on Cheerios and fruit and cheese. Hmmm, now I have the nibblies.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fun Links for Thursday

You've almost made it through the week!! :) Can you believe it's already nearing the end of February? I'll be driving all day Thursday, heading from an I state, through an I state, to an I state.

Two links for your enjoyment:

Literature Quizzes (courtesy of Kimbooktu) --much fun!

An old Knitting Commercial (courtesy of "Go Knit in Your Hat") --reminds me of the current infomercial for the "hand held" sewing machine.

In case you didn't know..I'm a rabid knitter :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A blog my reader won't read....

I know I know..I'm blogging up a storm today. Just thought I'd put up a question.

I'm having trouble getting the blog of a friend of mine to go into my reader. It's a myspace blog and I haven't had any trouble with others of that nature--just his. When I hit the RSS button, I get an XML page but at the top it says

"This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below." and when I try to add it to Google reader I get:
No feed available for ""

Anybody have any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Discovering the Book...

Saw this on LisNews and also on a couple of other blogs. It's a transfer to the new format of a book---and really made me laugh. It's a good reminder of things that someone may take for granted that may have been new and strange at some point...

Book as a New Format

Fake Title Game

From LisNews...Book Quiz: Can you spot the fake title?

I'm not sure if it is encouraging or bizarre that people have not only have written these books but that people published them. Makes me think I should be working a bit more on the getting published front...

I guessed the wrong book...

Cat at the Piano

Here's a cute video of a cat playing piano. Having had one cat who thought it was great fun to go thump on the keys at 3 a.m. and another who jumped on the keys because he was deaf and could feel the vibrations--I thought this was fabulous :)

Insomnia bites....

There are really nights where being nocturnal has its disadvantages. It's not 5:15 a.m. and I'm still perking. Not quite chipper enough to get much done but still not sleepy enough to feel justified in lying down.

Off to attempt sleep.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A "Your Complete History"

Someone I know was recently applying for government work and was lamenting an extensive "history" that had to be filled out. In discussion, it actually sounded like a decent set of paperwork to have---all the addresses you've lived at in the last ten years, job history back ten years, and a list of contact people--plus usual government information stuff.

I asked for a copy of the form so I could fill it out. It looks like a nice way to keep all of that information in one fairly easy place. The form takes an hour or two to fill out--depending on depth and how far you feel like going personally.

If you'd like to fill it out please check out:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Smell like a Good Book

So--apparently it's a heavy blog day. Must be the third cup of Irish Breakfast Tea. I couldn't get any Lady Grey so here I am...highly overcaffeinated.

I can think of many things I prefer to wear as a scent: vanilla, black raspberry, orange blossom, violet, citrus.... I'll even go so far as to smell like a sugar cookie (Warm Vanilla Sugar anyone?)

But smelling like a library? Leather, "book" and wood cleaner.... Hmmmmmmmm--and it's supposed to be for women?

What do you think?

(Source---ALA magazine that showed up in the mailbox yesterday)

Kids and Drugs

Wading through my email I first came upon this:

Teens Turn Away From Street Drugs, Move to Prescription Drugs, New Report Reveals (from Docuticker)

While that doesn't really surprise me--this next story combines a sense of sadness and disgust:

Debate Over Children and Psychiatric Drugs (New York Times) which outlines the death of a 4 year old who had been on a cocktail of psychiatric drugs for two years.

Is it a surprise that when we start labeling and drugging our children at two---that by the teen years they feel it necessary and normal to be seeking out more medications illegally?

Having worked in medical information, having been around people who are on and who prescribe the medications, I know there is need for them. I know people for whom these medications have made all the difference in the world--but on equal occasion there seems to be people who are regularly misdiagnosed and labeled and forced to misthink themselves as having a condition that they don't really suffer from.

How do you diagnose a two year old with ADD and Bi-Polar? While I'm sure a very small amount of children do portray these serious conditions at this age, how do you know the difference between the boundless energy and moodiness of a toddler with a short attention span and a serious problem? This is not a ten year old suffering in school with a five minute attention span--this is a toddler. The lawyers for the parents (who are on trial) are asking if the doctor should have prescribed...but isn't it the parents' responsibility to decide if the child is taking the drugs? Here was no teenager sneaking a pill from a friend's parent's medicine cabinet. Here was a toddler who might, just might, have done better with Flintstones chewable vitamins...

Obviously I don't know all of the details in the case but I think these occurrences will continue to rise. Personally, the whole thing confuses me--the only time I've had a prescription pain killer was just following having all four of my wisdom teeth out. Illicit drug use, though available since early high school, just never was a draw for me.

I'll hop off my soapbox now.

Get Your Geek On....

I know I'm still a bit of a geek (though I prefer to think of myself as a nerd) when I open this link and start chuckling.

Is it bad that I understand this perfectly?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Get Out and Participate!

Cheers and Happy Valentines Day! I think we got less than a foot of snow and if my sister can make it back from Washington DC in one piece, we'll be excellent. (She's at the airport and has actually seen a plane taxi! A positive start)

Although the week hasn't been especially exciting a couple of things have cropped up and I'm starting to feel energy coming back again so perhaps I'm emerging early from winter hibernation.

Item one: an article proposal was accepted! Yay! So now I have a couple of months to put that together and see what coherent piece I can come up with for said newsletter.

Item two: I'm judging a romance novel contest! Giggle all you want but if you have seen what little I've managed to get into my LibraryThing thus far, most of it is from the romance shelves in my bedroom. It's my version of television and it's a lot easier to stop at the end of a paragraph and come back a week later. Also--no commercials. There isn't even product placement! It's fabulous!!

I'd also like to start doing book reviews but I'm a little concerned that my "affiliation" of "freelancer" will be a turnoff. I'd love to have a glossy place of work for you--truly I would--but I'm paying the bills with MS Access.

What are you doing this spring to participate? Any book/resource selection places you recommend I apply to? Enjoying the glut of chocolate and pink/red hearts?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Books Running in the Back of My Brain

At some point I learned to function on more than one level of consciousness. This can be very convenient, though at some points the levels cross and a thought that won't make any sense will come out of my mouth to the wrong person. It is often helpful at the theater--where I can listen to someone telling me information over our radio headsets while appearing to be perfectly engaged in helping to direct the patron standing before me.

Other times, it means that I zone out of reality and start replaying books in my mind. I find when I'm agitated or frustrated, I tend to revert to Jane Austen. In her commentaries on manners and expectations, cads and wonderfully reliable gentlemen, ditsy and practical women, I find a soothing "other world" to escape into while I'm doing the dishes. I can come back at a moment's notice (to prevent from dropping a glass) but then I can slide right back into Maryann's walk through Norland Park or Anne Elliot's visit to her crippled friend.

Without conscious choice I often go back to Hamlet--but that's probably more of the theater than anything else. Having heard it 40-50 times this fall, it's easy to fall into the comfortable cadence of Shakespeare. I hear Claudius raging about his decisions, Hamlet struggling to make a decision, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern cracking me up...yet again. I tend not to hear the soliloquies (the horror, I know) but instead the scenes, playing again with stellar voices such as Barbara Robertson, Mike Nussbaum, and Ben Carlson happily chatting along while I'm making the bed.

It comes to me as little wonder that we still love to see and hear Shakespeare performed--the beauty and music of the language he used still is charming and memorable.

Does anyone else have books that run through their minds when their bodies are otherwise engaged?

Thoughts on Mr. Berry and NEWLIB-L (Long Post)

John Berry recently posted about the "Jobless Jitters" on NewLib-L, which is a listserv that I do read, though I've found it counter intuitive to participate very much.

I joined NewLib not too long ago and immediately found a number of all too familiar names. There's at least one guy on there whose jobless whining I've been listening to for almost as long as I've been with my current boyfriend (18 months) on a variety of listservs. It is, unfortunately, the whining and extended cries for rallying against authority (in this case ALA and library schools), that make up the majority of John's post and I'm saddened by that. I've come close to unsubscribing several times. I find myself emotionally exhausted trying to wade through the garbage of "if we convince students to quit school there will be less people graduating--fewer job candidates--and all of us who are whining can get jobs" etc etc.

As a relatively new librarian and as one who has struggled to break into the professional field, I feel somewhat qualified to discuss the state of the job hunt. It has been a long, strenuous, painful struggle both times. My first job hunt took eight months and culminated in a position that I loved but that meant I wasn't in the "official" field of library science but rather in a wing of it. I took a lot of heat from librarians about the job. I was accused of abandoning the field and told that if I "really" wanted to be a librarian I should take a part time job and not be able to make my rent. This was a terrifying suggestion to make to a young woman paying her own way in NYC.

Relocating in September, I officially became "unemployed" again. To say I'm truly without work is untrue--I work part time at a theater and I am paying rent by freelancing but I don't have what most of us consider a "real job." I'm applying, I've been on interviews and eventually I'll find the right position. I'm in a place that is not particularly enviable. I moved away from my school contacts, several of my professional contacts, and the universities and systems that I was most familiar with because of a relocation that I needed to make. Considering I started the job hunt last May, I'm looking at nearly a year before I get into a "professional" job in my field. I'm living with the consequences.

In argument to recent threads I've seen on NewLib and other places, I'm not entitled to a job. I am entitled by my degree to pursue a professional career in library and information science. If I don't succeed in getting a job, then it is my responsibility as a candidate to figure out how I can improve myself. I wouldn't want a substandard librarian in my library helping me because my library felt that "had to give them a chance" and I think most of us would prefer not to have to be satisfied with inferior informational assistance. The hiring team is looking for the best candidate--not the one who has sat on unemployment the longest and should just be given another shot.

Yes--my professors did tell us everyone was retiring. I'd also heard it from professionals before I started library school. And you know-it's true. But they are retiring from directorial positions and when everyone shifts up, the bottom run is getting de-professionalized. Not to say that para-professionals aren't as qualified--I know two people whose library skills are FAR beyond mine and one doesn't have a bachelors. However, it is disenchanting to watch jobs being posted with a pay cut and a BA requirement--and knowing the library is less likely to hire you because you have an MLS and "might leave for a professional position."

I don't feel like we need another 'advocacy team' that wastes resources while trying to place candidates whose professional lack of development or inability to hold positions leaves them with resumes that are (at best) questionable. I also have a hard time believing that people who are unsuccessful in the career as a librarian or in general (some of them just seem to be thriving on unemployment checks after getting fired) would be the best "advocates." Do I really want a unemployed falsely humble "advocate" with a healthy sense of entitlement to represent me? Hmmmmm....

I'm a part of NewLib to try and find the good points and the good friends that come of it. There have been a few suggestions that have come out recently that were useful. I'm glad Susan is daring enough to have it.

I wish John wouldn't have focused only on the negative threads--although if more hiring directors etc etc are reading NewLib then (going back to my post the other day) it seems like the loudest complainers will only make a greater name for themselves as problem children. And then there is always the question--if an unemployed librarian who has made a name for him/herself as such gets a job--do they suffer a completely loss of identity?

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Job Opening That Brings Back Memories

After dragging my tired tush home from the theater and curling up with an apple and caramel dip, I noticed in my email a job posting that caught my eye.

This isn't a job I'll apply for but it's one that brings back memories--it's at the library in the town where I lived for four years as a young child.

Said town library is no longer in the same old building, probably for the best, but that doesn't mean my memories move to the new shiny space. What I remember is a two story building where children's was in the basement. I'm sure there was a card catalog but I didn't use it (I was six.). I knew that collection well though--from the adorably cute easy read books that were about mythical animals with BIG eyes (sorry, can't remember the series, I'll call my mom and ask) and the orange bound "biographies" of Sitting Bull and other characters. I remember getting books to do a presentation on lightening and some choose your own adventure books.

The children's area was where kids were supposed to be. Upstairs was bright and sterile and for adults. I remember not feeling especially welcome up there--I think perhaps I wasn't even allowed up there sans adult. The children's space, dimly lit and smelling of "old book," was mine though and I could check out anything I wanted---as long as I could carry it out to the car (my mom's limit). My sister and I had STACKS of cards pulled from books that were then carefully stamped and they were secured with a rubber band to my card. The librarian had red hair and was probably in her thirties or forties--I just recall her being older than my mother.

It's a pleasant memory to reflect on a place where I could glut on books and literature and information--and the smell of old book .

Good luck finding a candidate, I'm sure someone will be perfect for the job!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Goodbye Mr. Menotti

Opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti passed away on February 1, 2007. A more formal obituary is available via the New York Times.

This is a rather personal passing for me, not because I knew the man but because I have performed his work. I trained as a classical soprano for four years and, if the "real job" ever kicks in, would love to go back to the musical world for further training. At the first formal recital I gave in 2002 (five year anniversary is this, I sang "Hello! Hello?" from The Telephone. It's a light, bubbly, fast and amusing piece that is easily appreciated and entertaining to an audience. Picture a "partially annoying/partially gossipy" phone call--in the middle of a classical concert--complete with cellphone and my staged embarrassment picking it up.

Arriving home last night from the theater and seeing the notification flashing up on my email (Thanks to the alert people from MLA-L!), I came to a brief halt in the middle of my day/night... and started singing. I haven't read through that sheet music in at least three years and yet I got through half the piece before I recalled that it really was nearing 1 a.m. and my upstairs neighbors, while night owls, might not appreciate opera.

The other piece that I was most familiar with from his works was "The unicorn, the gorgon, and the manticore;: Or The three Sundays of a poet. A madrigal fable for chorus, 10 dancers, and 9 instruments". I first heard a selection of these pieces done when I was in high school and held onto the program from that concert for years because I wanted to go back and hear the music again. If you enjoy madrigal music at all--it's hysterical!

It is well written, entertaining, powerful music that was completely accessible to the audience. So it saddens me to know that the creator has left us and can give us no more wonderful pieces. I'm grateful to have the pieces he did write---for my private amusement at home and as a memory of my recital.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Don't Forget to Craigslist :)

I'm not a heavy user of Craigslist, but when I do have the opportunity to pop over and use it, I've had some decent results.

Just following my move and digging through a box of "computer stuff" for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to get rid of the external zip drive. As far as I know it worked but I hadn't used it since first year of graduate school and certainly didn't have a clue where any of my old zips were. Considering my flash drives can handle twice the information, it didn't seem worth it. So I posted it for free on Craigslist--with much roommate skepticism. (Who could possibly want that? she asked) Apparently many people. I had 10 people ask for it and when I chose someone the gentleman who picked it up was prompt and courteous and excited to have it.

Roomie and I used Craiglist to dispose of a TON of stuff that Roomie's ex-roomie had left behind (after a six week waiting period and multiple attempts to get her to get the stuff!). Tools, a really nice set of art supplies, under the bed tubs... all kinds of stuff.

And I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted a flat screen monitor. I've been watching postings after making the choice NOT to invest $150 into a monitor. Finally I just posted a "wanted" with my max price that I was willing to pay. Two days later I have the monitor and even a new video card that the young man thoughtfully installed for me so that I was ready to go. The best part--he gave me 48 hours to try it out. If anything goes wrong, he'll take it back and give me my money. No problem.

How's that for excellent!! So what can you get or give today?

Nominating a Public Librarian

From Beyond the Job: Nominate your favorite public librarian for the First Annual BookPage Spotlight Award!

This sounds very easy and a good way to nominate a public librarian who has had a big influence in your life. You can enter the contest HERE. It will only take a few thoughtful minutes of your time and would be a wonderful way to bring attention to someone who may not always get recognition.

Now I just have to decide who to nominate...