Saturday, March 31, 2007

Week 1

I have officially survived my first week at my new job. It was exhausting and I know way too many children by name already, but I made it through to Friday.

It's very different from what I anticipated or am remotely used to seeing, which makes for quite a steep learning curve. Even the Human Resources Department was completely different from the corporate one that I most recently dealt with. I'm trying to restrain myself from too many details, mostly because they'll come back to haunt me in the future.

It hasn't been an easy week. I'm very much naturally nocturnal and I have to get up at 6:30 a.m. now. I really enjoy public transportation and I'm driving to/from my job over an hour each way (I should have known something was up at the interview when they panicked over whether or not I did own a car...). I'm in an area of town totally foreign to me and I've had at least one adult resident recommend my caution of being in that area. It's going to be tough.

The library does have it's regulars though, quite a few of whom I already know by name. This is useful when needing information on other patrons or when a group of them is misbehaving--I can call out names and through them get the group to settle down. It appears to be a safe place where they can entertain themselves (kind of) and argue over who gets to get on the computers next and play the latest game.

I'm too exhausted to do much of anything when I get home--even talk to my long suffering boyfriend--but the occasional midday and early evening calls to my support network are hopefully going to get me through. Now I just have to figure out how to get through Spring Break next week.....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Airplanes; Cell Phones; and Net Neutrality

An eye-catching article from the New York Times alerted me that they are planning to continue the restriction of cellular phone usage during flights. HOORAY!!! Thank you thank you thank you for letting me know I'll still be able to fly without having to listen to the businessman next to me belittle his coworkers and badger his secretary or the princess describing her latest boyfriend drama or the annoying person twenty rows behind me having a LOUD repetitive argument about a completely inappropriate for public topic. It was one of the things I LOVED about the New York Subway-- I was out of touch--and so was everyone else. Granted, it was inconvenient when the train was delayed and I couldn't call work but it was New York and work knew I took the train.

I think most of the general public understands the idea that in the event of an extreme emergency on an aircraft, turning on the phone to see if you can call a loved one won't automatically cause the plane to crash. I haven't traveled internationally since 2000 (wince) and so can't speak for flights that are crossing the Atlantic, but we learned the hard way in 2001 that phones did actually work on planes. I'm also aware of a non-gender-specific person who works as a lead flight attendant for an unspecified airline that may or may not travel internationally who has been known to occasionally text message before the plane lands. However, the NYT story points out complications that go with "flight phoning" beyond the mere irritation of everyone within three rows of you.

My favorite quote of the story:
“Please for the sanity of the majority of air passengers who do not want to hear cellphone conversations in the air, and to avoid confrontations between passengers, do not allow this practice to begin.”

But the other interesting part to this story--which no one seems to have caught or thought worthy of a big headline--was the paragraph at the bottom about Net Neutrality. The FCC announced that it was going to study high speed Internet practices to determine if there was a need to add a "principal of nondiscrimination" to their rules on the Internet. I'm curious as to why this got the bottom (least read) section of a news story in the New York Times. Why wasn't this more important? This would have a huge impact on our Internet.

Off my soapbox for today--please turn off all cell phones until the flight lands and we start taxing for two hours.

Library World News....

Librarians are often such an internally focused bunch of mice, it seems. Personally I know I have days that I feel like the only 'news' I'm reading has to do with a book review or some argument between two of the better known bloggers.

This past week had its interesting ups and downs

LJ presented it's 50 Movers and Shakers-- congrats to those profiled on their continuing efforts!

SLJ had letters of complaint and a saucy avatar cover brought to the forefront of discussions. I couldn't help but wonder if the School Media Specialists so vigorously complaining had read some of the graphic novels my roomie regularly brings home or had seen some of the more 'interesting' avatars I've bumped into in my occasional forays in SecondLife (hey--at least she wasn't wearing a Cinderella princess dress--I've seen a few of those!) Is it bad that I slightly covet such a cool looking avatar?

WSJ had an interesting article about children and their perception of the library as a last resort rather than an information cache. I can only hope that in my new job I can drag the kids off the computers and into the stacks to find things beyond MySpace...

I feel up to speed there--now if I could just find out more information about things other than the raging debate about Britney's exit from rehab and sympathy votes for John Edwards....

Interesting "Job Title"

During my last shift at the theater before a hiatus while I begin my "real job," I was approached at the doors to the theater by a large family group. The youngest member of the family was about 18 months. I have a lot of toddler experience and, on occasion, find them more congenial members of society than adults.

The mother of said toddler instructed the child to "give the tickets to the worker..."


I suppose it's an appropriate title--I was at work and was working but it seemed like an odd choice of words. I suppose that I tend to think of myself as "staff" while I'm duly ushing people around the theater. (And yes, I believe that "ush" is a complete verb)

It's more complimentary than being called "the help," which is evocative of servants and it defines to the child my role (usually to people that small I was "teacher") but still, bit of an odd one

Have you been called an unexpected title?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Other Blogs that I read

Rachel--if you read this, I'm sorry, I'm pirating your blog again....

So...Rachel Singer Gordon put up a couple of interesting posts this week about how the library blog world is rather small and that many posts and comments seem to be overlapping. She asked what "big name bloggers" that her audience reads. A light selection for mwah:

1. The Liminal Librarian
2. Free Range Librarian
3. LibrarianInBlack
4. Walt at Random
5. OA Librarian
6. Information Wants to Be Free

Then there was her next post, about what blogs that we read that aren't in the library world but that we use to keep up to date on information or other areas of interest:

1. News: The latest stories from Discovery, usually before they show up in the free paper I pick up when I have to work morning shows at the theater. Interesting, amusing, and all the latest from Discovery

2. Medscape Medical News: A year in medical publishing so engrossed me in the latest news of the medical world that I had to wean myself off of it when I relocated. Now, I just get my daily fix from the physician perspective (as opposed to the WebMD side)

3. Yarn Harlot: A knitting and insanity of life blog by a well respected author. She just spent a week remodeling her bedroom, complete with updates and pictures that every subscriber waited on tenterhooks for.... check out the burning sawdust--seriously!

4. Secrecy News: Release of information from the US government. I'll admit this is often a "skim" blog--but I do like to see what's coming out.

5. Running a Hospital: By the president of the BIDMC--who offers a new perspective into his job. A lot of the posts are interesting in their candid nature--whether lauding or criticizing. Occasionally heartwarming.

Hmm...and to tag a few people? Brian Gray and David Rothman---consider yourself dully nudged

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Who's Saying What about Second Life

As the cat makes one of her daily rounds of sprinting back and forth behind my chair and meowing piteously...

There's been some chatter again this week about Second Life. I did some exploration with it in January, but couldn't really find anything interesting to do at the hours I was usually conscious and available to do it (3 a.m. CST). It seemed to be getting a huge amount of attention in the press and in the biblioblogosphere at the time and looks to really be launching into something huge.

Now, it's March and the momentum seem to have slowed. I haven't heard of any other countries jumping on board with massive office openings in cyberspace. Most of the people I know don't seem to be aware of what it is--and once I explain it, a number have said instantly that they doubt their systems could handle it. I don't think my desktop computer could--even though my laptop does. My best friend was frankly skeptical when he viewed the homepage and the "number of US dollars spent in the past 24 hours." (I have to agree--how are they spending $1.5 million every 24 hours? Does your avatar really need THAT many clothes?)

But it's good to stay current on what's available:

Walt has a 'cautious post'--which has turned into an interesting discussion mostly with Jenny Levine-- about whether or not librarians need to push to meet our users in Second Life.

Rich Hoeg at eContent has a well-timed post with some tutorial and informational links in case (like me) you're still trying to figure out what you're supposed to do with this avatar you've created.

and the fabulously recuperating LiB (welcome back Sarah) put up a link to a tutorial on trying to explain it to your staff--if you are desirous of incorporating SecondLife into your library.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Student Loan Forgiveness: Call for Participation

A call for participation came out from Jenifer Grady at ALA-APA. A topic of hot conversation recently on one of my listservs was about Student Loan Forgiveness for librarians. It apparently was something that was considered but then was dropped by Congress.

No one will, I think, argue that the majority of new librarians make huge salaries that would render our student loan payments to be an easy expense. After Mike McGrorty's survey recently, I saw a lot of listserv conversation that pointed out that many who had responded that their loans weren't a huge burden were quick to qualify that having a two income household made that possible. Several noted that if not for a spousal income, they would be in a much tighter position. I think it was a speaking result that over a quarter of the survey participants noted $25-$50K in student loan debt.

Especially as libraries face the seeming perennial budget cuts and staff cuts, we are called upon to provide ever more vital services. We're also, it seems, expected to take on more debt getting more degrees to meet the requirements for academic and specialized positions--even as those positions are eliminated.

Jenifer has called for some assistance into research into why Student Loan Forgiveness didn't go through before and how we might be able to revive it.

"I'm looking for volunteers who will research Loan Forgiveness Programs so that I can present a report to the ALA-APA Board (same people as the ALA Board) to find out if this is something ALA-APA or ALA can pursue or has pursued. As you know ALA-APA can only work with the help of others, and this would be a wonderful service. You also may have immediate access to government documents that I don't have here. The Board is meeting mid-April, so I'd need what you find by April 6 so that I can synthesize what you sent me. The questions I have are under the umbrella of "What is the history of the Loan Forgiveness Programs?" and I'm sure there are more. Do I have any volunteers?"

Somewhere, in between trying to prep for Summer Reading (even though I'm not officially employed yet) and wrapping up some major database work (which all came in the past week or so as my clients realize I'm about to have a "real" job), I'm going digging through the libraries and information I have access to and send Jenifer what I can find.

Can you help too?

My previous rant on APA/Student Loans

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Finding yourself in Shakespeare

I'm a bit of a Bard fan. Not so much that I can recite the plays (Hamlet being the exception to that statement) but enough that I enjoy them, even 8 times a week for an 10 week run.

Still, I'd forgotten until two nights ago that my animal affiliate was mentioned in the Scottish play. The witches bring it up:

"Thrice, and once the hedge-pig whin'd." (4.1.51 Macbeth) (I'm using the Revised Arden--FYI)

Always fun to find oneself amongst the lines...even if four rounds of whining is all I get...

Get Thee a Mini-Mouse....

Rebate Blog--which points me to things that I didn't know could be on sale but not I desperately want about 25% of them...points today to a tool I already own but highly recommend: the minimouse.

I purchased one from Target not long after acquiring my laptop from work. This was mostly about my sanity while designing. I know and have seen brilliant people with touchpads--I use them as a last resort and would not dream of the complex work that I do without a mouse.

The feeling was a little odd. Instead of my whole hand on the mouse, I really just needed two fingers and my thumb to anchor it. It plugs into a USB port, slightly annoying at times but usually manageable. I love it!! It saves me time and winds up easily and fits in my purse without being a nuisance. Considering the amount of schlepping I do with said laptop and powercord (wish that would up easily and fit in my purse too), it's a must for me.

So go...get thee a mini-mouse. Also, check out the rebate and free after rebate blogs--for all the technological/software stuff you never knew you needed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Photo Luggage Tags

Totally stealing this from Rachel Singer Gordon

For anyone who travels with remotely boring luggage (the ubiquitous "black bag") there are new Photo Luggage Tags from KM that they'll make and ship to you for free! Put a picture of your dog, you, your favorite Girl Scout Cookies etc etc on the tag and always know which bag is yours!

I want some, just debating on what picture to upload to mine.

Learning a New Language

A friend of mine, who is one of the brighter people I know, is in an early education class as part of his Masters degree. Said friend has zero desire to work with small children after finishing said degree, but understands the necessity of the class. We talked about the mock lesson he'd given-- working with first graders on the idea of fast and slow music. One of the criticisms he received was that he talked down to his students and he wasn't sure how to work around that problem. As I've much more experience with wee children than he has (albeit on the preschool level), I suggested he approach it as such:

"Talk to them the same way that you would talk to me, but use their vocabulary."

He thinks it's a brilliant idea and the first thing that has made sense since he's started the class. I don't credit myself with extreme child-education knowledge but if it works for him, excellent.

I'm hoping to be able to take that same wisdom into the new job that I start soon. I haven't dealt with teenagers/pre-teens on a regular basis since I left for college. I understand most of the current teenage drama---I think. I'm not really up on the latest films or releases on 103.5 (KTU or KISS FM--depending on the city).

Time for a new vocab lesson...except I'll be trying to use correct grammar and complete words.

At Your Service.....Kind of...

I've been meaning to post the link so thoughtfully provided by Jessamyn West on

Jessamyn provides a couple of delightful "customer service" stories for us. The first is a nice, feel good story that is lovely but the second....well, let's just say I can imagine myself using it in the next six months.

May I have the guts to say that and may I not get fired for it....


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Speaking with a Person...

At some point in time it has become normal for us to be more comfortable with polite automated voices and the push of our touch tone buttons. I even called a business recently hoping to just get a recording that I could walk through for simple information because I didn't want to trouble them with what I considered a silly question.

Then there are other times--such as when I called the USPS trying to track down a package that they'd supposedly tried to deliver. The system wouldn't LET me talk to a person, no matter how many options I tried. I needed a 30 second answer and instead spent five minutes punching buttons futilely on my phone and getting irritated.

So for those cases, I share with you gethuman. Patient souls have tried and tested; More patient souls have thankfully collected. You can sort through the business types and find out the tricks of the trade to get through to a live human being. It's alphabetized: US Auto, US Credit...etc etc So hopefully should I need to find another package, I'll call the number they provide and just keep pressing 5 til a voice comes on the line.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rachel Singer Gordon's Survey

I'm a big fan of Rachel Singer Gordon. I was introduced to her site LisJobs forever ago and I follow BeyondtheJob, Info Careers Newsletter, and her personal blog with enthusiasm. So I was delighted to see a servery that she had sent out that I'm definitely participating in and would encourage you to do the same. It's for any librarian who has held an "alternative" career.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Shut Down Day--Turn the Computer Off

They are having an international "Shutdown Day"--a day where we try to walk away from our various keyboards and try to remember what life was like before we were like before computers ruled our minds and times.

It's Saturday, March 24. More information and option to participate is available at Shutdown Day

I will not be participating. For those of you who have been following the job hunt/progress/etc etc I did finally land the start date for the full time job that I got in December. Yes, it really took three months for them to cough up a start date--No, they won't tell me what the hold up was.

Because of that and because heaven forbid I start sleeping at nights--I have 22 days left to upload all of the 04-05 data for my larger database. That Saturday will be one of my days to make a final push at getting everything accomplished before I start my "real job" on March 26.

So unfortunately I will be in front of my computer. But I hope that all of you will be able to take and enjoy the day and go outside and breathe somewhat springlike air.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The State of your Mouth....

Archaeologists and historians have unusual ways finding out about the past and the people who have lived before us. In my explorations of history, however, and occasional musings about what might be said about me five hundred years after my death, I'd never considered they would be taking a very close look at my mouth.

The topic came to mind with the recent article: Unbrushed Teeth Reveal Ancient Diets.

From a health perspective, I don't think my mouth says all that much about me: I've had my wisdom teeth surgically removed, I've had a few cavities drilled, and I have a mild form of TMD.
It makes you wonder though about your regular brushing and flossing that instead of just the health of the jaw and teeth, they'll be examining the bumps and bruises.

I have a chipped tooth. Although you probably couldn't pinpoint the cause, it was made when the very solid head of a two-year old child slammed into the bottom of my chin, clashing my teeth together and creating a chip. I wonder what explanation they would come up with for it...

And then there's the anecdote of a former boss. As a theater mouse in college, I worked primarily in our costume shop organizing our back stock (of course) in addition to helping to create and build new pieces. When I'm sewing I like to use pins, which usually ended up in my mouth while I was sitting in front of the industrial machines. [Note: That is truly sewing--driving a heavy industrial machine with two feet on the foot pedal--I could handle one of those well before I got my drivers licence. :) ] My boss would come by and regularly chide me about putting the pins in my mouth--didn't I remember her story?

Said story was of a woman that they excavated in Europe somewhere. While there was little that archaeologists could tell about her, they did know that she was a seamstress--her teeth had been ridged from holding pins in her teeth while she was working. I can't find a specific story of that excavation but a letter to the editor in Current Anthropology (seems to be freely available) suggests that it isn't as uncommon as I expected.

So now I have to remember to take the pins out of my mouth and that when I die and before I am buried: I want them to brush my teeth.

*shudder* off to find toothpaste

Update on Jim Rettig for ALA President Video

Jim got the video back up!! It's now available here!

Check out a confidant candidate who is getting support from Karen Schneider and Meredith Farkas!

Good job Mr. Rettig!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Greatest Quote I've Heard in a Long Time:

"If a cassette should fail to play properly, give it a brisk slap against a hard surface."
Nadia May, Instructions Prior to Pride and Prejudice, Copyright Classics on Tape 1989

Women's History Month & The Turing Award

Happy Women's History Month! As we celebrate a month of incredible women who are making achievements, I'd like to direct your attention to an interview with the first winner of the A.M. Turing award-- the highest for computer science.

Alan Turing was a mathematician of renown during WWII as a cryptanalyst. He was instrumental in breaking some of the most difficult codes created by the Germans. My first introduction to him was through the respectful irreverence of Neal Stephenson in his book Cryptonomicon. As Turing only lived to be in his forties, it is only imaginable to wonder what this man might have created had he lived long.

The winner is a first female for said award: Ms. Frances Allen. There's a nice interview with Ms. Allen, the majority of which discusses her work as a female in what is still or what is still perceived as a male dominated field. Having been in computer science since 1957, she has a wealth of perspective to draw upon and gives an interesting view on the current state of affairs and how they have changed over the years.

Congratulations on your work, Ms. Allen, and on being a strong contributor to the field of mathematics and computer science!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hooray for Jane Austen!!!

Pride and Prejudice is top read is the news from the UK today! I'm quite a fan of Miss Austen and heartily applaud this choice as of popular reading material.

I discovered Austen only recently, after being misguided away from it in high school. Unlike many of the other dryer classics that I've waded through, I adore the trivial frivolity of Austen's works on their surface as well as the deeper commentary she includes with sly comments that you might miss on the first or third reading.

My favorite splits between the saucy Pride and Prejudice and the more gentle Persuasion. And while many will charge me with blasphemy, I even enjoyed the recent Keira Knightly movie. Mansfield Park has a strange little place in my heart, mostly going back to the summer I first read it and spent night questioning friends as to if they would ever consider marrying a first cousin.

Sense and Sensibility is just a little too emotional for me. I was an emotional teenager but I can't remember spending weeks lamenting the loss of a boyfriend in college. Perhaps women these days are more inured to such things. Or maybe Miss A was just making a complete mockery of a woman overcome continually with sensibility.

Any way around it, these are a delightful set of books and I particularly recommend the audiobooks as narrated by Nadia May if you can get your hands on them (hint: NYPL has them on their eNYPL section).

And if you enjoyed them and other classics, may I recommend The Eyre Affair and sequels by Jasper Fforde?

Two Librarian Surveys

A couple of Library/Librarian Surveys to fill out if you have time:

Professional Library Memberships:for a Med Library Association Poster Session, from Megan von Isenburg, MSLS, Rebecca Pernell, MSLS a nd Dan Kipnis, MSI

MLS Student Loan Debt: Courtesy of Mike McGrorty at LibraryDust

The Library 2.0 Network

I was directed via one of my listservs to a new social network: Library 2.0 as created by Bill Drew. It looks a bit like a social network (of the myspace variety), a bit of one-stop-shopping for ALA blog updates, a few podcasts, and the latest librarian video, and a jolly good time to be had by all. I can upload videos (or link to my favorite YouTube's), add library photos, etc etc.

I particularly liked A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto Video

I'm in the midst of a database crunch so don't look for a lot of personalization on my page just yet. Perhaps once I get through the 5000+ records that were "discovered" in New York that have to be entered...

Sleep is optional.