Tuesday, August 31, 2004

What I Threw Away

  • Cardboard box printed "Mount Holyoke College Storage Box" and tagged "Lisa K / '88 / 1837 [Hall]"
  • Several cheap frames from said box, two complete with poster board or construction paper Mom cut as a mat for cross stitch, etc., I made as a kid
  • Also in said box, the frame on a caricature CDF had done of himself, before I met him (I am on the border line over a frame he loved on an unharmed photo of C and his brother; only the cardboard back got wet)
  • A print of a Renoir dancer
  • A coloring book CDF brought me in the spring of 1990 when I had a terrible cold
  • Pink sheets turned into curtains for dorm room windows
  • The original boxes from: my swiss army knife, my fancy backpacking flashlight, and my big, camp counselor's flashlight. All of the camping gear itself dried in the sun, today. The jury is out on the chip-board (wow, did that wick up water!) camp trunk that stored it all.
  • A Godiva chocolates box that I took to camp as a organizer of little things in my trunk -- and most of the beads and junk jewlery in it
  • The giant box my new TV came in
  • A small cardboard box and the paper packing holding some Urquhart's Place merchandise; the antiques were fine
  • A broken VCR that's been lurking in the basement for three years
  • The wrapping on spare roof shingles I wish I had remembered in the fall . . .
  • A box and scraps of the vinyl squares from my kitchen floor; I saved complete tiles in a new box, not sitting directly on the floor

In other words, once I did venture into the basement, I found water. I don't know what I thought I was doing, not going to look: that I would hear water rushing in and then I should check? With the floor down there being so uneven, the 1/2 inch of water wended its way to just those few heaps of things.

I also ventured to Brook & Azalea Roads to pick up the sib., stranded there for a couple of hours before I felt I could safely try it. It took nearly 30 minutes to get there (traffic at a standstill on Chamberlayne), but I didn't have to turn around anywhere. Two unfordable streams kept us from getting over to Buckingham Palace by a very direct route.

S called this afternoon, on her way out of town to relocate to NY's Capital City. It turns out, she was one of the 20 or so people trapped at Bottom's Up Pizza last night. Luckily, she said, her party had walked down there from the MCV area, so no one lost a car. On the TV, I told her, it looked like kids played with Matchboxes in the dust, then turned the hose on them. In person, she replied, it was scary to see enormous SUVs sail past. The water rose fast in the street and sounded like rapids.

I guess it's time to go put the news on to see if they reopened the Powhite, 360 at the Chickahominy Swamp, and other points of interest. I think the official rain total was around 11.5 inches. The noon news showed the wetbound side of 360 looking like a muddy river. They also reported that the RBraves will play two at the Diamond tomorrow -- for free!

Oh, and the man scheduled to look at my locust tree came on time and reported that the University of Richmond had a tornado touch down.

Monday, August 30, 2004


At channel 6's station on Broad Street, about 3 miles from here, they've measured 11 inches of rain. That's a record for Capital City - ever. It should rain hard for another hour. Gaston brought us more rain than Floyd and Isabel combined, but not much wind, thankfully. Mom is one of over 70,000 people in central Va. without power; I've still got electricity, obviously. I see a damp patch over the window in the trunk room; the other areas for roof concern look okay. I have not ventured into the basement, yet. The rain is driving the wind onto the front of the house.

The RBraves got an extention on having to decide whether the team can play at the Diamond. The repairs or changes made to the drainage system are getting quite a test. (Oh, here it is. They made grooves in the field. I kept thinking that Atlanta would be on our case. Officially, anyway, it's the Internation League that will fine the team and possibly boot us out of the league. All this when the RBraves are leading the division!)

I95 and I64 have been closed where the highway passes under Belvidere for at least 3 hours. Carytown Ukrop's reportedly has a flooded parking lot, and trees are once more beginning to topple.

Nature Moments that I fogot to mention this morning:

beautiful wetland hike at the state park: a humming bird on cardinal flowers; exquisite pea-like flowers I could not identify; jack-in-the-pulpit in fruit

explaining erosion to J
This Weekend

This weekend began on Thursday morning when I tore the house apart looking for my mosquito net poles, rushed around the corner and borrowed a tent from J and headed to the Silver Fox's house. We packed up groceries, got shoes on her boys, and headed east on 360 to Westmoreland County for a one night camp out.

Jimmy rode with me. He'll be nine, soon. I was really worried that I wouldn't know how to talk to such a little kid for so long. No worries: he has the gift of gab. I learned: about his "competitive" friend J, that Jimmy's favorite Beatle is "Paul and Ringo," that he's learned some things in school about American Indians, and that he can tell the history of his grandparents' farm. At Westmoreland State Park, we pitched tents, hiked, played on the beach of the Potomac, and cooked (mmm, banana boats). I learned that SF is organized, outdoorsy, and not keen on heights. The outing was marred only by my locking my car key in the Civic's trunk (it's the only way one can suffer that annoyance: turn the key on the latch by the driver's seat - which I did for school travel - and drop the key in the trunk compartment). After about 2 hours - and two locksmiths - and great support from SF, I had the key back in time to dunk in the pool before it closed.

And the dashing continued: I then scooted up the road to Kittamaqund (see also Friday's blog and my site, and Draco's) to train troop leaders to take their girls tent camping. We had a great group, with all but one of the women repeatedly saying, I can't wait to show this to my girls. They are very ready to bring wonders of nature and camping to kids. Three or four were moms of summer campers, thrilled to see Camp the way their daughters do; one 44-year-old camped at CK when it was new and remembered swimming in the lake and the green amphitheater behind the DH. And Skimino girl / counselor (c. 1989) "Mouse" loved CK right away. Not that there's anything wrong with Skimino. (Mitch - she knew Muffy!)

The thing about going home to CK these last ten years or so is that I become I kind of Scrooge, living with ghosts past, present, and future all at once. Here I am on the porch of the Sleepy Hollow shelter talking to Pez (Jill R.) about the possibility of her becoming an outdoor trainer with me; but in 7X, I see her at 11 or so on a water hike. Lead trainers S & S set up in tent 1, leaving me the choice of a bed on either side of the tent: well, the left of this tent is Doodles' side, so I went to the right.

It's always beautiful, by the way - did I mention that? Blue skies, hot-but-not-too, lightly salted air coming off the river. Tidy tents and neat unit shelters; a wide variety of plants, trees and wildlife. The early-turning trees like the tulip poplars and black walnuts in the Hollow have begun yellowing and softly dropping leaves. S identified the owl hooting on Friday as a screech owl. Those of us looking at the right moment saw a bald eagle soar up the river, over Pine Ridge, and off to the west. The damage to tent platforms and major roads done by Isabel last year was repaired, but Jessie's Trail is impassable and some leaning trees still threaten the main road. (I bet the council will still take hurricane fund money: if you write a letter stating your check is for camp property they have to use it that way, anyway. GS Commonwealth Council, POB 548, Mechanicsville, Va. 23111.)

While the trainees cleaned up on Sunday morning, S mentioned that Mike sometimes doesn't even come check units she's used because he knows they will be thoroughly cleaned. Tears came immediately to my eyes: his father would do that with me when I was a unit leader. I can hear his voice inside my head, still. On closing days of resident camp, Moby would drive that white pick up into Pine Ridge to pick up campers' gear and say, "Chocolate. You here this week? It's fine - go on." And the unit staff knew they could go home as soon as the last kid did.

I never cry leaving, anymore. I know I will be back.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The hook project is a developing database of book opening lines. I think that letting people put in their own genre will cause problems -- a controlled vocabulary always facilitates searching.

Friday, August 20, 2004

That's an American pastime -- grossly misunderstanding math.

- philanthropist Zell Kravinsky (New Yorker, 8/2/04)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hunh. The last Simpsons ep of the 02-03 season came closer to reality than I might have guessed. Virginia Tech had one of those stinky flowers bloom. Of course, the characters in Tech's horticulture program knew it would smell nasty, while the Simpsons characters did not.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Everyone's Talking About Blogs

In The News
This Sunday's Post seemed to have a story on blogging in every section. From weather bloggers to this one on former Senate staffer Jessica Cutler's infamous, short-lived blog on the travails of sleeping with 6 men. The latter article does a pretty good job of presenting her generation's (or perhaps only some of its) "so what" take on sexuality.

Wired (August 2004) does not seem to have posted Clay Shirky's very interesting item called "Why Oprah Will Never Talk to You. Ever." It defines three catagories of blogs:

  • Those which serve as a form of broadcast. Someone already famous, or someone who became famous, posts and will never respond to your comment or click over to your blog.
  • Mid-range networks of blogs linked to each other; "nearly anyone can participate."
  • And ones like mine: "Obscure bloggers reach only a small, essentially closed community of readers."

There's a swell fold-out graph that explains how using inbound links as the yardstick allows a realistic comparison of major blogs and traditional news providers. This measure makes room for three blogs in the top 10: Slashdot, Plastic, and Davenetics. The NY Times holds spot one; the Washington Post number 4, behind CNN and BBC News. Blogs that were more familiar to me in the top 40 or so: boingboing, Fark [motto: by boys for boys], wwdn.

At Library Stuff, Steven Cohen writes about nothing but blogs and RSS stuff these days, still,
this is an interesting abstract of a paper to which he links.

Over the Dinner Table
Actually, it was after an Indian dinner with "the Silver Fox" and "the Old Geezer" and their pal, W., that SF mentioned that the one or two times she read Capital City she felt too voyeristic. I noted that I feel like I am keeping several friends up-to-date at once. She replied that when she wants to know what's up with me, she calls. Well, gee, I guess she does. What a pal.

Post Script
Wow; Slashdot, Plastic, and Davenetics are so "powerful," clicked-to so many times, that Google listed them first based on searching just the one word. Imagine "owning" the word "plastic," at least on the web. (A site on awful plastic surgery is the number 2 hit if one types "plastic" in the search box.)

Also noted at Wired: they plan to use "i" not "I" when writing "internet."

Capital City weather: clear and warm after o so much rain.
Reading: Nicholas Basbanes, Patience and Fortitude. Thanks, BarrieLee.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

From Library Journal, "Fixing the First Job", an article on what new librarians actually find in that first job, vs., of course, What We Were All Taught.
Big box store (booo) Office Depot and HP want to help us recycle electronics (yay!). Click here to learn more.

While I am on the recycle / reuse train of thought, freecycling has come to Richmond: find what you need, give away what you don't.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ugh. Book censorship -- as in, he was carrying something that did make it to press: Boing Boing: D&D book reader on ferry hassled.
Plant Zero, in Manchester, is hosting a Home Movie Day. Looks cool.

Not cool: MCV may finally make good its threat to tear down West Hospital (where my brother was born: you know he's the only real Richmonder in the family). ACORN is mounting a resistance movement; I noticed their flier on the window of Bygones earlier today.
The summer issue of the Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly has a very good article on same-sex marriages. It's well-written and balanced; and interesting to note the prominent roles alumnae play on both sides.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Yup, I did link to that colors thing before. Not Martha scooped the Washington Post on it. Also in from the Sunday paper, but not available at the moment: View-Master turns 65! There's a $20 gift set with new viewer and reels, but since I still have mine, I'd welcome just the $10 set of decades reels. I can't find a picture as nice as the Post's (even on Fisher-Price and Mattel's own sites; the former is a subsidiary of the latter), but this press release gives you the scoop.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I'll check, later, to see if this PANTONE COLORSTROLOGY is the same one I linked to before. I remembered 7/16 being an ugly color; I just didn't remember that ugly color as being in the dusty pink - dusty mauve family.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Do read this most excellent article from Popular Science in which author Larry Smith spends 10 days sticking to technology from 1954 or earlier. It's well written and well footnoted: I love a good footnote.

I do like to say that it's 1947 in my house (and 1916 at Dan's), but really, that's just the furniture and lack of microwave oven talking. Oh, and the stingy number of electrical outlets and cubic inches of closet space. The rotary phone doesn't even work at the moment (It and a working mid-century alarm clock came into my life with CDF. Both -- well, all three -- were indeed loud. I called the time piece the "alarming clock." It shot me out of bed every time.). I replaced both a late-1960s and a mid-1970s TV in the last 5 years with brand new appliances. While I am sitting in a mid-century chair on the front porch of my 1919 house on an August-cool-snap day, I am also writing to you all on my year-old Dell notebook computer with wireless DSL access. I can live with the contradictions.
Another librarian image site: Librarians Are Sexy. She's got some good links under headings like "Geek Chic." (From Alane.)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Library of Congress shows us how to provide access to that hard-to-preserve and hard-to-serve item, the scrapbook: Lewis Carroll Scrapbook. Every page, cover to cover, appears in JPEG and TIFF. A grey scale is provided as are sources of the various scraps. Newspaper articles have been abstracted. And, it's searchable, too. It should be safe to presume that LC will provide for migration of all that digital data and that the metedata's there: that it's preservation quality digitization not just access. Remember, folks, simply scanning your old stuff is not preserving it for all time.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Onion Humor
CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog: "Right now, the president insists it's his right to have it, as long as he doesn't work on it during White House work hours," McLaughlin said. "But I believe we'll be able to convince him, if we let him calm down. And even if we don't, frankly, I can't see the blog holding his interest for too long."

Good Thing
Thanks to KartOO visual meta search engine, I found just what I needed to finish off the last draft of my last library school paper. Yup, a year ago now I was just getting used to the idea of going back to school. Today, I am getting used to the idea of having to call myself "unemployed" not "a graduate student." (Since we're not seeing the actual pieces of paper until December, is that how long I get to claim student status?)
Cat Tale
Catly smells like me, now. At about 8:30 a.m., as I started in on my second bagel, the phone rang. Who on earth? It turned out to be Dad calling from their trip, convinced that their house was in the path of Hurricane Alex. I wrote down directions about which windows leaked and where to find towels. I must have been concentrating on that task pretty hard because I didn’t hear any strange sounds.

I hung up the phone, and turned towards the kitchen in search of more coffee. Hunh, looks like I spilled coffee on the floor on the way out, before. Wait, no, there’s water splashed on the kitchen floor, too! Quick check: it didn’t come from the ceiling (i.e. bathroom) above; nor is it spurting out of the kitchen sink faucet. There is water by the open back door, too – it’s almost as if Catly dragged in something from the fish pond.

The previous owners of this house transferred a kidney-shaped pond with five koi to me. In the draught a couple of years back, a great blue heron discovered the free lunch, and so I became fishless. I tried again, but the little goldfish disappeared after a year or so, too. I knew Catly couldn’t have dragged a fish in – a slow, thirsty bird, perhaps?

I stuck my head out of the back door – one of the stones from the pond edge had fallen into the water, but I saw nothing else out of place. I returned to the dining room and surveyed the scene more closely. There’s Catly, under the table. And what do you know? The whole back half of her is wet, as if she fell into the pond. Of course, she was trying to lick herself dry. I fetched a towel and began to help the effort. Oh, no! Since there are no fish, I don’t keep the pond all that clean: she smelled like pond funk!

And that’s why, at a little before 9:00 this morning, I could be found trying to bathe the old house cat with a dab of my shampoo. Maybe she’ll stop drinking out of the pond, now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Yet More Old Business
I have articles scattered about the house, websites bookmarked, and even e-mail saved that I think might be worth sharing. On an archivists' listserv, one participant recently wrote:

I was just going through some newspaper clippings from 1904 about the women's suffrage movement. One of the reasons given for denying women the right to vote was that doing so would destroy "the sanctity of marriage."

I recall this type of thing from the research I did on the suffrage movement. The husband's vote was to represent the beliefs of the whole household. Giving the wife a vote (and perhaps that of an unmarried daughter living at home!) would disrupt the power structure.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Old Business

Store Magazine's recent list of 100 "biggest retailers" is topped by: Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Costco, Sears, Safeway, Albertsons, Walgreens, and Lowe's. The publisher of the trade magazine told the Washington Post reporter what I have been thinking was the case: the cheapest thing often wins. Publisher Rick Gallagher said,
Despite everything we might say about how much we value customer service, look at this list. . . . When push comes to shove, people are going to choose low prices over service.
(Washington Post 7/11/04)

Similarly, while we gripe vaguely about what a shame (or even, how unfair) it is that manufacturing and service work increasingly is done abroad, we tend choose the cheapest thing when we shop, not the Made in U.S.A. item.

A friend complained that the Atkins diet craze led restaurants and grocery stores to fill up with products labeled "low-carb." He found this wrong or offensive, somehow; possibly based on his skepticism about the soundness of the diet. It's just capitalism, I tried to say. People will buy it, so the manufacturers make claims, adjust ingredients. Of course, they have to keep these products cheap, and sell them at Wal-Mart, to really fit into my big picture, here.

Turning to the personal, I believe I spent money in each of those big-box stores that have stores near me this past year. Oh, except Costco; I don't have a membership at any of those places. I complain about them, but I do go. I choose local grocer Ukrop's for service, and Target for nicer products, but I did try to shop at Wal-Mart last summer for savings on non-food items. I have been to Kroger to buy beer, since the 'krops (famously) does not sell alcohol. It may be more than a year since I spent money at Lowe's: I remember storming out of a long, unmoving line (one of two actually open, understand) one Sunday when a clerk responded to a customer's query, Oh good, can you open a new register? with "No, I'm on break." I put down random things like light bulbs and plant food and went to Pleasants on Monday for the same items.

As for buying goods made abroad, that doesn't generally factor in to my decision. I want the thing that I think is best: fits best, will last longest, is best made, or looks best. Next, I look to see if it is within my budget.

Newer Business
Thanks to Mom sticking with me for a long day of shopping on Thursday, I have an interview suit. We went to Hecht's, Nordstrom, Talbots, Ann Taylor, more than one Dillard's location, and . . . Casual Corner. I know, the latter is a bit down-market compared to the rest, but they have that whole petite-size division. Curiously, of all those very reputable shops, it was the only one in which a clerk offered to put the things I had in hand in a dressing room. (I will point out that I did not take anything off the rack in Nordstrom.) Then, another saleswoman who was using a steamer near the dressing room eyed me in the slightly-too-short petite skirt and said lightly, "Did you try a skirt from the other side [i.e., not a petite]? Let me get you one." She was exactly right. I will think of that store sooner next time I need work clothes.

Now, to find work.

At the Byrd: saw the midnight movie, "Office Space." Right.
In Style: The Street Talk item on Teresa
At the Diamond: Braves lost to Scranton, 9-0