Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

My latest article is out! Please check out Making the Move for a tidy summary of the creativity that was moving from New York without a job. (Blog archives retain some of the more dramatic moments of said move....)

Thanks to Rachel Singer Gordon for the opportunity to write again!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Random word du jour


Your mission: use it in a sentence and leave me a comment with it!

Squeaktastically yours....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Information Addiction and the RSS Crash

My first mistake was taking David up on that darling little feed he set up with every ALA blog piece known to God and LibWorm.

Second mistake was hitting "Mark All as Read" without checking to make sure I was only marking all the ALA stuff as read...


I was down to 87 things in my to-read-feed-pile too.....

Okay, guess I'm starting fresh. Amazing how addictive those feeds are.

To Vista or....Not, Definitely Not

Has anyone out there switched to Vista? Was it by choice? Did someone come and twist your arm and force said update?

I don't know anyone personally who has tried out Vista and hopped over to using it with alacrity. (Yes, I've been re-reading Jane Austen--did my use of the word "alacrity" in a sentence give it away?) Nearly everyone I know is still very comfortable with XP and it's service packs (they've already found THOSE bugs). We're all waiting for Service Pack 1 and 2 before we venture.

And already Microsoft is having to make alterations (Registration for NYT required--it's free). Google noticed that they were making it nearly impossible to use another desktop search tool (such as the one Google makes....).

So here's to waiting for Service Pack 1--and hoping the other machines and XP will hold out until then.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Glad to not be a Co-Ed Anymore...

Admittedly Unequal
Many colleges are rejecting women at rates drastically higher than those for men

This is a rather disturbing article.

At least my little brother will be able to get into college. Won't be able to get financial aid--but he should be able to get in...


Hedgehog on a Rant...

A goal that I hope to achieve is to learn from the mistakes of others. While we each must make our own mistakes and thereby grow into maturity, can we not also learn from the mistakes of those generations before us and our peers? The prickles are all ruffled up this evening--so bear with me as I try to learn from these common mistakes I see around me.

May I not punish someone for their competency.

It's a bizarre world we live in--particularly in workplace settings. In numerous places of employment, I have seen workers essentially punished for being competent. They are given a greater share of the workload and a more difficult portion of the workload simply because they are competent and their superiors know that the work will be done and be done correctly. While you could argue that it's the way to provide a person advancement and opportunities (and while I would agree that increased responsibility should ideally lead to that), I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about people in the same tier of job where one person is essentially coddled because of their inadequacies and another is given more difficult projects, clients, expectations, etc. Particularly when the extra effort is not recognized or incompetency is passively or actively rewarded, it becomes a punishment for the ones who are competent. It drives people away from their jobs, away from being willing to put in extra time and effort, and can give a disgust towards superiors.

May people tell me the truth, even when it isn't the sugarcoating I want to hear.

As children we are taught to tell the truth; as adults we are continually retrained to lie.

And this, friends, starts at the job interview. Despite all of the articles advising that a person "be themselves" and "be truthful" during a job interview, everyone lies. Like children trying to perform on the most subjective test imaginable, we are seeking to make the most right answer to the question laid before us. Our grade or reward is whether or not we get the job.

From there, in many situations, it deteriorates. Many superiors seem to be oblivious of problems and unwilling to face them. To face them would require that they make changes, either to themselves or to things that are a comfortable "status quo." Whether said quo is good, healthy, etc etc etc they are seeking the answer that "everything is fine, we're making progress." A passive attitude, perhaps brought on by the fact that they themselves are overwhelmed or other issues, inactively slows or kills hope for progress and change.

May I not view people as disposable.

In the workplace, I have been privy to a disturbing trend of burning through people as though they were sticks of wood cast upon a fire of profit and the bottom line. Along with overloading the competent ones, there is an astonishing lack of regard for the people doing the work. Promotions are handed out with strong evidence of favoritism, people are cut simply because a new manager is brought in and that person is threatened, managers are hired and put in place without management experience or understanding of the job. A revolving door of employees emerges and money that might have been spent encouraging, developing and rewarding valuable people is lost in training and retraining and training more because so many people have jumped ship. In at least three companies I've witnessed firsthand there seems to be a two year wave--a few people are there for the long haul (7-10 years) and the rest are two year or less transients.

Before I close out, I'm not just speaking from personal experience over my own work history. I'm not even speaking only from experiences of people in my own generation. I just speak from my awareness of people who work very hard at what they do, who put pride, time and effort into their professional selves, and who are often abused and taken for granted. It makes me want to crawl into a hole and knit or read all day.

[Hedgehog climbs off soap box, brushes down the prickles, and heads for the teapot]

Friday, June 15, 2007

Apparently I'm Schroeder

According to a Peanuts character quiz...

Which Peanuts Character are You?

You are Schroeder!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Off to snuggle with a cat who is very happy that a lap has appeared.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I love Bill and Gene

The two guys behind Unshelved are just amazing and yesterday's comic was commentary on libraries that everyone can appreciate. Please--check it out here.

That one is getting pinned to a wall somewhere in my office--and I could see it turning into a coffee mug very soon.

By the way--Bill and Gene are really cool if you have the chance to meet them at a conference!!

Monday, June 11, 2007

BibMe, EasyBib and Son of Citation Machine

Now where were these tools during my senior thesis? I mean, come on...I still was working with 3x5 note cards.

In all honesty, if faced with another paper of that magnitude, considering how well that particular method of note taking was drilled into me--I'd probably still be out buying packs of those lined cards. It does tend to help one just "lay out the paper" very nicely once the research has been completed.

But these new tools, which automatically format your references into the correct style for the paper you are writing, sound fabulous! BibMe describes itself as the quickest way to build a bibliography online--pulling from information that you enter or that you search for in their database. (Also looks like a sneaky way to do a little more searching for relevant information on your topic--who else has cited it...) It offers MLA (my default), APA, and Chicago style. There is even a citation guide for in-text citations, which has always seemed so much more practical to me than footnotes. I've used both and I still would rather juts put it at the end of the sentence than have to hop up and down to the bottom of the page.

EasyBib is similar, but doesn't offer Chicago Style. It also has a free basic version but has a price tag for the "Pro" version. Considering "Pro" is only 7.99 a year (as of 6/11/07 anywho) it doesn't seem dreadfully cost prohibitive for someone who wants citation/footnote assistance. Still it doesn't seem to have any other bells and whistles that justify the cost. Perhaps I'm missing something that they'd like to point out?

Finally, Son of Citation Machine offers simplistic formatting for not too difficult sources. I tested a couple in MLA--since I could probably format that in my sleep--and everything was pretty straightforward fill in the blank. It appears to be a one to one ratio though--one source, one citation and wasn't pointing me to creating a list, so it's probably something I'd suggest only for easy beginners checking their 3x5 cards against a resource.

My only concern with these tools is that we'll all get lazy and forget how to format for ourselves. That was one of those time-tested things that everyone seemed to have to get through during my junior year of high school. Everyone had notecards and heaven help you if you missed a period or an end quotation mark. But as we've all forgotten how to spell without spellcheck-- will this really be any different.

Thanks to David Rothman for pointing BibMe out!

Popular Songs--The Day You Were Born

Randomly two sites this week point me to Billboard Number One Sites -- one at PopCultureMadness and another at Josh Hosler's Site. It's a cute way to see what song was big the day you were born, the day/year you graduated high school, on a wedding day or other special day.

My birthday song: Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp. It's not a favorite song but it's one that I like. Another song has come out in the past 3 years (maybe longer?) that started with the same hook as Jack and Diane and I was always irritated when it wasn't then the Mellencamp song but ended being the other song, which I liked much less.

Check them out! Pretty fun and always good for water cooler conversation.

Thanks to Rachel and LibraryGarden for the directions!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Pronunciation of the Place I Work

I am consistently amazed by the unflagging ability of many people to mispronounce the general title of the building that I work in. The first "r" in the word is completely skipped---OFTEN. By coworkers, patrons, random people, it's universal. These are the same people who can unfailingly manage to handle personal names from a multitude of ethnicities. And unfortunately, they don't seem to understand what I'm correcting when I say the word back to them with the actual pronunciation.

My sister recommended that I invest in this shirt. Perhaps it will be a more subtle but effective cue? Some people wouldn't notice if I had it posted on the side of a Mac truck.

I also think this t-shirt (on being full of useless bits of information) describes my rather fractured little brain too well. I mean, does anyone else really care that the longest word typed entirely with the left hand is stewardess or that Shakespeare created the word "Majesty" (among others)? What's a useless fact you know?

I want a Pipe Organ in my Macy's...

I'm an irregular Macy's frequenter--mostly there when I'm buying gifts for the various special men in my life (they have great shirts)--or when I need a new purse (I heart Nine West). I was amused and interested in seeing a story from today's NYT on a Pipe Organ in their Philadelphia store.

It's an interesting history of an organ built specifically for the St. Louis World Exposition, then moved to the department store, which has been kept on a respirator but now is having new life breathed back into it. Macy's has obviously put a lot of dedication (along with donor monies) into restoration. It will be a tourist attraction as well as an interesting way to provide music for shoppers and I applaud them for the efforts.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On a side note....

Sacramento Public Library has been taking a beating recently for contentions between the "rank and file" and "upper management." The press has made it a Paris Hilton/Jackass 2 story for better headlines but there appears to be a number of issues at hand.

And then today what pops into my email but job openings at SPL. That's going to be interesting for people who apply (have they been reading the news and what do they think) and have these issues caused a lot of lost staff and/or might this be "upper management" applying a temporary balm to the problem.

I don't know, but it was a surprise to see it come through.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tidal Waves of Library World Change?

There seems to be a tidal wave of change coming through the upper echelons of library service. Or maybe it's just in the biblioblogosphere.

First there was Walt's incredible announcement of his availability after leaving RLG-OCLC. This, as well it should, got a lot of press and will hopefully lead to a successful and beneficial position for him and whoever is lucky enough to have him.

And then today I get home to Karen Schneider, who earned my respect via listserv long before I began reading her blog, and she's not at her job in Florida anymore. She's available for teaching, presentation, workshops, and all sorts of other wonderful things--but is staying in Tallahassee. Holy Hotdogs Batman! I feel like she just barely got unpacked.

While I sincerely hope to celebrate bright futures for both of them and applaud their open job hunting efforts, I'm also reeling. Major changes in the lives of people I respect and I'm sure these changes will affect in some way their blogs and listserv participation etc etc.

Or maybe it's just going around-- my roommate just told me that four/five people are leaving from the theater where she works, another person I know announced last night that he terminated his position. Is there something in the air or water?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mani and a Pedi and Fresh Self-Confidence

After a six month search I think I may have finally found a nail salon that I will frequent. You laugh? It was a serious hunt in my newly adopted neighborhood.

Getting one's nails done is rarely just about base coat, two coats of color, and a top coat. That--I can do at home. Getting one's nails done is about slowing down, being pampered, and gaining a coat of self confidence in a sassy shade.

There are smells inherent when walking into a nail salon: polish, acetone, soap, rubbing alcohol and lotion. After a couple of trips, you become used to the pungent combination and associate it with the relaxation about to come. As a result, I can walk into a nail salon and immediately I'm calmer and happier.

A good nail salon is clean, nicely decorated, staffed with efficient and friendly technicians and it's somewhat busy. It doesn't need to be packed wall to wall (though for a good manicure, I've been known to wait)--but when I'm the only person in there for nearly an hour when it's a normal time that there should be customers--it makes me a little nervous.

Within those walls, women and men come for the pampering. To have tired hands and feet soaked in a warm bath, scrubbed (feet) or gently washed (hands), wrapped in a hot towel, lotioned and massaged is incredibly decadent. Cuticles are delicately trimmed or pushed back to prevent hangnails. And then polish is applied or they are buffed to a beautiful shine. Finally you settle into a chair by an ultraviolet dryer with fans and, at a lot of places, you get a minute of a shoulder massage.

Having your nails done requires you to slow down for an hour. No one wants a manicure ruined--especially when you're paying a fair amount of money--so you take the time to ensure that it's dry. There shouldn't be a rushed atmosphere in a nail salon, even when it's busy. You should be able to shut down for a while, maybe even turn off your cell phone (who wants to go digging in a purse with wet nails?), and flip through the latest fashion magazine.

When I walk out of a manicure (or a mani/pedi combo), I always feel more confident. My hands look good and, even though the polish is dry, I'm still much more conscious of my hands and going digging in purse. I feel prettier and it makes me happier to deal with others--as long as they aren't messing up my hands or stepping on my toes.

My manicures usually look "decent" for about ten days--and that's with me doing everything I normally do, including typing, dishes and (last night) dismantling a desktop tower and pulling the hard drive. I'm more likely to wear the paint off than to chip it. It's more expensive here than I 'd like but there are days that it's very worth it.

Oh--the place? on Halstead

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Hedgehog.


Welcome to all those joining me from This Week in LibraryBlogLand! I was so surprised and pleased to be selected for my posting on the 20-something article.

It's nice to have someone else point out my opinion and I hope you'll comment if you agree or disagree!

Cheers-- Hedgie

A productive weekend

I managed to blog way too much, get a lot of work done here at home, love on the much neglected cat (whose mommy gets home from OR tomorrow), and even find a decent nail salon.

Now please just say a little prayer that the power supply and not the hard drive on my desktop computer is fried.

Cheers and happy Monday (and I have to get up in four hours--sigh)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Isn't Taking the Profession Home Enough?

During the last couple of weeks, I've been battling various mindsets that have been on my mental horizon about "taking the job home."

This stereotyping article: Attracting the twentysomething worker caught my eye via one of my listservs. Perhaps it is a "sign of my generation"--even as I tend to identify more as a Gen X than a Gen Y (depends on where you divide that line)--but I'm offended by it. The author describes outlandish and irresponsible Mama's boys and girls. Gen Y is apparently entirely made up of people unable to function as adults, unwilling to cut the apron strings, and focused entirely on group think. With nearly four years of "living on my own" under my belt and sharing an apartment with a girl who has nearly seven years--I think there are at least a couple of us not still at home. Do I rely on my mom for advice, encouragement, and a shoulder to cry on? Absolutely. Would I ask her opinion before making a job decision? Probably. Do I take her with me on an interview? NO!

One of the few points I liked about the article was the separation of work/home life that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Personally, I see it as recapturing ourselves away from our jobs. Considering it already takes 50-60 hours of my week, I have a bit of a problem with the expectation of it taking 80-90. And according to my Gen X/Y (depending on the article/government determination/etc etc) sibling, this rationale makes me a product of my generation. We want to go home without taking the job with us.

Some articles and other postings that I have seen on listservs suggest that an attitude such as this (not being at work 24/7) means that a worker is unmotivated and will not succeed in the workplace. I see it as a difference between the job being a major part of my life and being all of my life. I participate in listservs, catch up on my blogs and do what professional development I can when I'm at home--mostly because I'm not allocated any time to do this at work. I know others who only respond to listservs or read RSS feeds that are "library-related" at work so that they have time away from it. Are they not involved? No, they just have a different perception on when they need to stop "library stuff" for the day.

I think I surprised/confused a coworker by bluntly stating that I didn't like taking things home with me. I'll work late or come in early to finish up a project as necessary, but I believe work should stay at work and not follow me home to tire me out there. While, to me, my profession and professional development don't shut off--my "job" can. I think it makes me a better worker when it's not following me around all the time.

Whether or not I am in a majority opinion remains to be seen.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Librarian Attitude on My Shoulders

I know, I'm blogging up a storm today. I'm getting caught up on a lot of things this weekend-- including a much neglected blog.

I carry this bag--created by the inestimable Curmudgeony Librarian. He's one of those fabulous friends with whom I developed a relationship online well before we ever met in person. (Btw...we have met and shared a theater--but I think we're still working on a drink.)

I'm always asked about the bag and it's become a popular part of my wardrobe. A former coworker I had dinner with last night (I'd not seen her in a year) even mentioned it when I wasn't carrying it. It's been the provocateur of many conversations, particularly with fellow professionals who would like a bag of their own.

And while my mom doesn't quite approve of the language...I think she wants one too.

For my next purchase...I've asked for some note cards with this theme.

There are many little "me's" running about

My name continues to be in the top ten for girls in 2006--from the Social Security Administration

It's great that there is a resurgence--but I kind of miss having a somewhat unique name. Now I respond to it being shouted across stores but it's being called to much younger people than I am.

On a side note, while I was working with preschoolers during graduate school I encountered a lot of pregnant moms. At least one mom heard me introduce myself and decided that she liked the sound of that name for her daughter. I'm not sure if that was final verdict but my name was definitely in the running.

The People I "Know"

Congratulations to Gary Price and his beautiful new wife!! Announcement of his marriage (along with pictures and film clips) has been sweeping the infoblogosphere. Everyone has been surprised--so at least I wasn't the only one who didn't know Gary was engaged.

It was interesting though to ponder this fact and think about how many people I know only in an online format and how much or little I actually know about them.

I have the bad habit of speaking about people whose blogs that I read as though I know them in person. I'm well aware that I don't really know Karen Schneider, Meredith Farkas or the LiB but after a couple of years of seeing and occasionally responding to them on listservs or commenting on their blogs--I speak with authority, "Well, Sarah mentioned the other day..."

In today's ago though, and especially in my current profession, it seems very normal to have a number of online friends. I've had phone conversations with a few of them, met a couple of them in real life, and have exchanged crazy stories with others. They've read my cover letters, let me vent, and helped me develop ideas. They are acquaintances, colleagues, and friends--just as people I meet "in real life" are...

It's changed a lot from the Sesame Street perception of "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?" but I think I like it this way.

Finally it's True: Google and Feedburner

Based on which blog I was reading this week it was true/then not/then true/then not--that Google was rumored to be buying Feedburner. Finally--according to Feedburner's site today it does appear to be an official acquisition.

I'm not really sure how it will change things. I use Blogger--attached to my Gmail/Google account. I also use Feedburner, which i now imagine will be showing up in my list of "more things" that I can do with said account. Considering how huge Blogger is, this acquisition doesn't really surprise me.

The FAQs on this merger is a delightful page of double-talk. Nothing is being admitted yet except that a sale has occurred and Google wants to use feeds for advertising. How they're planning on getting advertising into an RSS feed--I'm not 100% clear but I'm sure they'll find a way.

Then there's that nagging little note of Google trying to purchase DoubleClick. The argument is that it would create a monopoly and go against the anti-trust deal. Personally, I think Google just wants the tenth floor of the Port Authority building on 8th and 14th in Manhattan--which is currently DC's home. Google already have a huge chunk of four/five other floors in that building for their office.

But that's just my opinion.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Overselling Yourself

As I sit here and try to write about my last job hunt (relocating from NYC to CHI) and the evil world of cover letters, a friend reminded me of this outrageous college application. I remember reading it a few years ago when I was writing those essays and trying to make myself be wonderful without being over the top.

My favorite part of that letter "I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing,"

Come on...wouldn't you want that kind of freshman on your campus?