Monday, September 29, 2003

Gee whiz, library school is cool. Tonight I read all about dictionaries and gained new enthusiasm for an old companion. Did you know that no one holds copyright on the names "Webster" and "Roget", and so tomes bearing their names do not necessarily descend from their works? Or that the distinction between an abridged and an unabridged dictionary is made on simple, numerical lines? Abridged dictionaries contain 50,000 - 265,000 words; unabridged,more than 265,000. It's just that easy. I certainly did no know that online dictionaries allow you to hear words pronounced.

The most shocking thing I learned comes from my failing to have learned to read the directions or the preface. Do you have any idea how much good stuff they put at the front of your dictionary? I have used mine (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate, published by folks whose website proudly states "we go to eleven") for nearly 20 years without appreciating that the first definition is the earliest, not necessarily the preferred, meaning. It says so, right there on page 19!

The textbook's author, William Katz, has a lively style: "If Paradise Lost is the epic of the seventeenth century, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the eighteenth, and Joyce's Ulysses of the twentieth, then the OED is the nineteenth century's unparalleled achievement."

If only all my courses had such engaging reading.

Capital City weather: sunny and clear, not more than 70 today.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

What a beautiful sight! My end of the block, my very own house, all blue-white with electric light, spilling out into the night. Good thing, too, because I forgot to bring a flashlight when I went to S&J's.

Some notes from last week that I never figured out how to put on CD and take somewhere and post:

9-22-03, 9:15 a.m.

[Insert name of deity here] be praised: I had WorldCup coffee this morning. I also
learned, after ten or so years of frequenting said establishment, that they write out the name as one word. This means it’s alphabetized further down the phonebook column than World_of_Mirth, say.

No, no property loss, thanks. Assuming we don’t count as “property loss” some Eggos, three-quarters of a pound of butter, and many condiments of unknown age anyway. My fridge is as clean as it was the week I moved in, four years ago.

Isabel brought less rain and more wind than Floyd. The constant roar of the wind was like the white noise of being on the beach on a windy day, only turned up to eleven. Channel 6 news kept showing trees falling down all over the Fan and I talked myself into believing my oak would topple at any moment.

I lost power at five minutes to five on Thursday: at this writing I am in day four without power. When we lived in Oxford, Mississippi, an ice storm that did about equivalent damage – the sad, sad site of noble trees split asunder or up-rooted; power lines in the road – we stayed in the dark for nine days. At least my Capital City house has a gas stove: it could be worse.

Things that I am having trouble learning from the TD or channel 6 on the radio: are we still boiling water?, where does *the city* want piles of braches? Things that the TD is covering: belated directions on who should boil water and for how many minutes, pictures of fallen tress, and which malls are open: the PR woman for Short Pump Town Center was quoted as saying, “It is natural for folks to come to a mall and congregate.” (9/20/03) (In the interest of rationing the computer’s battery, I’ll refrain from comment.)

8:25 p.m.

The likelihood that a car will approach an intersection with an out-of-commission stoplight at a high rate of speed and with no regard to other drivers is in direct proportion to the expense of the car. Apparently, when one drives a huge BMW or an Expedition, one owns the road.

I got some reading done by electric light in Midlothian! The folks are “on the list” with their tree company. About eight trees came down on their acre. The neighbor’s SUV got smushed.

At the Byrd: darkness. Across the street, I had a late lunch at Double T’s. Capital City weather: heavy rain an hour or so ago; very muggy.

9/23/03, 8:19 a.m.

Hell, all that fussing about, and WorldCup’s wireless internet service isn’t even working. It rained harder than I expected last night and now my bedroom floor is all wet. People’s tree debris piles got strewn into the streets.

I note that the dry cleaner next to WorldCup had its vinyl siding pulled back by the wind. Nice brick work. I wonder if it was a gas station, once?

11:45 a.m. Brian called a while ago, from Maryland, to let me know it’s okay to drink city water, and to ask if Capital City had really had tornadoes.

9/24/03 3:20 p.m. Day Six of Darkness on South Mulberry.

This afternoon finds me at VCU’s ever-charming James Branch Cabell Library soaking up their electricity to recharge the computer. I spent two hours at RPL running it down. I signed up for a public computer so I could look at card catalogs online (homework assignment), but ran down this battery writing my comparison. . . . While here, I will look at an encyclopedia, for another comparison assignment. This will make me feel more okay about taking their juice.

The National Weather service declared something like four of yesterday’s weather events genuine tornadoes. Mom says the RTD wrote about a woman who had just restocked her fridge losing power, again. Yeah, that’s too bad: but is it true that the city won’t send garbage trucks through the alleys and we have to drag the supercans to the curb? That stiff is starting to stink, you know.

Some sites that raise smiles: salons on Main St. and on Belmont giving al fresco haircuts; a spray-painted banner on Grove, I think it was: “ALMOST AMISH.”

Capital City weather: beautifully blue and clear; upper 70s.

9/26/03 7:40 p.m.

Day Eight in the dark, at my end of Mulberry Street. Neighbors are beginning to have power again. It’s also about 30 hours since I called the City to notify them that my supercan got skipped on Thursday, and since they said they’d be sure someone took care of it “later today.” It’s stinking up the alley.

So I invited myself to Midlothian to recharge things and generally not read by flashlight. (Not to self: go ahead and buy new fluorescent bulb.)

I felt very out of my groove up at school. I had forgotten that the rest of the region does not begin conversations with, “So you got power yet?” It seemed weird to see all the trees on those two attractive campuses fully upright. “Libraries in Society” is a great class with a great teacher, so it helped me get back in school mode. We had some good small and large group conversations about ethics. Many thanks to F., at the seminary, for the Thursday night hospitality!

Byrd Park: about 1 out of every 15 or 20 trees fell over. Bryan Park: from B&E’s street, it looked rather better than Byrd Park, but from 95 today it looked pretty sad. North of Ashland, on the interstate, I didn’t note any fallen trees.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Store Gossip
Who told me? It was a reliable source, I feel certain. The Community Pride on Grace Street at Harrison will become a Ukrop's, "soon," in response to a Kroger being built off of Lonbardy, near Maggie Walker School. I didn't even know about the Kroger, so I made a point of going that way to Union on Saturday: sure enough, there's a brand new building and the sign is up and the parking lot has lines. On the way home from RPL, I noted Community Pride signs still in place at that Grace Street store, so I can't confirm anything, there.

Oh, wait, as a sophisticated user (more on this from my school readings, sometime!), it took only a little Googling to find confirmation, here.

M - I forgot a tangent to our conversation about Lands End at Sears, until I saw a commercial, just now. Lands End is also making "casual"
adult Girl Scout uniforms, whatever that means. We uniform purists usually let people know that one is not in official uniform when wearing a uniform blouse or official polo shirt with just some pair of khakis or jeans: you're supposed to wear official pants, skirt, or shorts. Hey, military types or airline attendants don't wear random pieces, they wear the whole uniform. That's how you know it's a uniform. (Okay, that's more ranting than I meant to do on that subject.)

Capital City weather: Warm, clear, and beautiful, as it often is when hurricanes approach the east coast.

Sunday, September 14, 2003


Further evidence I live in my own world: I never considered that VCU's reserve reading desk might not be open on Saturday morning (after my water aerobics class, ten-ish). It opens at noon. Discovering that VUU's entire library operates from only 1 - 5 p.m. on Saturdays leaves me speechless. It's not even open until midnight during the week. How do they get anything done?

Am I a bigger geek than I think I am?

Friday, September 12, 2003

Satellite view of Virginia. Can you trace I-95? I sure can. Despite pouring rain, today, I had my fastest home-bound trip (from GMU), yet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Since Publius mentioned U2, I’ll share an almost story.

On Tuesday, at the beach, my folks and I took an early morning bird walk near Corolla Lighthouse. We were on a boardwalk that led through swampy ground to the edge of the sound. Nearby is a big 1920s retreat house now used for house tours, picnics, and nature programs. Some kind of construction was going on there -- I could hear staple guns and hammers. I also heard (because there were no bird calls to hear) distant strains of "Pride." I did mutter, in the same way one does for a bird, "U2" and pointed toward the construction zone. By Currituck Sound, we saw a yellowlegs and some killdeers. In the swamp were lots of those cool garden spiders, a huge grasshopper, many arrowleaf plants, and other fun things.

Hours later, I found myself back in Capital City, returning from my "Information Services" class, flipping the radio dial and landing on . . . ohmygod is it the same song?! No, no, it's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Still, a close call

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Seen on the drive home (about 7:30 - 9:20 p.m.): orange clouds surrounding the US Capitol; settling clouds, and, in one field in about Stafford County, spooking glowing shapes that turned out to be fog-obscured, lit billboards; the moon; and the least traffic yet.
I woke up around seven, slowly, listening to the traffic report on the radio. While it's quiet now on far West Broad Street, she said, remember that the Short Pump Mall ribbon cutting is slated for 9, and traffic could be very congested, soon.

At least two local TV news crews were out there last night counting what's ready to open and what's not. I know it's at least two because me first reaction was "I don't want to hear this" and I changed the channel but somehow stuck on that second report. It seems that while the shopping destination has three entrances, all are on West Broad.

People! Haven't we talke about this? One reason that driving in suburbs and edge cities sucks is that there is only one road in and one out. How can developers not know -- or not have to face that fact?

Here's a fact: the looming deadlines for the malls means that it's been difficult for the contractors doing the rennovations to the Franklin Street library to get subcontractors and laborers.

Capital City weather: rainy and 70s. At the Byrd: "Bend it Like Beckham"

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Library school buddy J. draws our attention to an NPR item on librarian action figures and related issues.

I keep trying to shop at Wal-Mart to save money, but it repeatedly lacks the products I want, the size that matches the coupon in hand, and employees who act like they give a damn. Okay, that last is unfair: this morning's greeters and the cashiers both of the last trips were friendly and efficient. People finishing stocking, however, blocked aisles, didn't yield to customers as the wisked away cartfulls of empty boxes, and looked at me without so much as a nod. At what point does the frustration of getting only four items out of an eight item list and putting up with marginal service cancel out the benefit of spending less?