Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm a great fan of science, you know.

I remember a couple of things about ninth grade earth science class. We learned how geologists triangulate earthquakes. We did an exercise in which we were given the locations of some seisometer readings and had to plot them on a blank ditto sheet of a U.S. map. For some reason, I was one of the few kids who could identify the unlabeled states and so put that compass point down in the right place to start. How we really did the "triangulation," and what it's really called, I don't remember. I remember wondering how on earth my classmates didn't know which state was which, since we'd certainly all been taught that just a few years before in grade school.

I also remember that Ms. Wood encouraged us to watch a TV show called Cosmos. (That's right! A teacher encouraged us to watch TV!) Carl Sagan exuded an enthusiasm for science and a wonder about the world that seemed like a more sophisticated version of my own. I enjoyed science class -- doing Experiments! -- and was an outdoorsy kid.

As well as enjoying watching, I learned a thing or two. While his moped-speed-of-light demonstration stumps me still, I know that I "got" the exercise where you consider the history of creation as a calendar year, and that humankind arises in the last minutes before midnight, leaving our time to be the last seconds. I learned about how We are sending coded messages on spacecraft for extraterrestrials to interpret. Watching Cosmos instilled in me an enthusiasm for science and for (PBS) television programs about science that I have today.
This is what Capital City is famous for this morning? I thought every town had its lights fanatics?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fun and Games

The woman in front of me at Target this morning was buying an official cup stacking game. A box of staduim cups with holes poked in them for $30? Wow.

Track Santa on Christmas Eve, here.

I hope I won't be getting them in trouble if I say that it looked like a literacy voluneteer(?) and her student exchanged gifts at tonight's meeting. Not in a wink-wink way: just sweet.
Sagan-a-Thon Tomorrow: Write your rough draft tonight.

Cornell's invitation for all bloggers to participate, here.

Celebrating Sagan promises to post what you write, if you are blog-less and has great links.

Monday, December 18, 2006


A friend from my teenhood (not childhood) left a very strong impression when she told me her father would never by a Toyota or a Honda, because he fought a war against "those people." I had notions about a global community that were based on a 1970s view of the world shaped by "It's a Small World," International Day at school, and Girl Scout Thinking Day -- I couldn't imagine that past wars meant so much, that we weren't all friends, now. (The very same friend "researched" Bangladesh with me one Thinking Day.)

Not many years later, a family member confused me by preferring American-made goods as Christmas gifts. I was still just young enough to avoid pursuing what seemed to be a touchy subject. It seems likely to me that she would have friends and family in threatened manufacturing jobs at that time. I hope she has relented that position: it went from difficult to honor to impossible, even as I have become increasingly able to afford to shop in "better" stores, stores that might be willing to stock pricier American-made goods.

One of today's errands was to buy candy canes. Step-daughter-to-be will spend Christmas with us, so, as did my Mom, I plan to put some canes on the (aluminum) tree on Christmas Eve night. She's thirteen: old enough to roll her eyes at the notion that Santa left them, but Mom only quit humoring me with that tradition a few years ago, so. . . . So, there I was in the CVS avoiding eye contact with enticing flavored treats in cane form -- nothing by Jolly Rancher for me! -- and honing in on 99 cent peppermint canes. Phiance's cookie story always in my mind, I looked to see who made them: "Made in China." Now come on: that's a long way to ship something that does not do well in the damp. I put them back. At Ukrop's, the canes said "Made in Mexico." I bought them . . . because Mexico is a less absurd distance to ship sweets? Because I think Mexicans need lucrative seasonal candy work more then the Chinese? No, mostly because I am in no mood to chase around town reading candy cane boxes.

Capital City weather: 71 degrees

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Not the book club selection (Freakanomics), not the Dickens that Fforde inspired me to check out, not a YA novel, and certainly not a book I have out with a title along the lines of Weddings for Grown Ups -- but, instead, Wil Wheaton on the sunset on Mars.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mitch got me wondering how many years I've known the advent site, below, and so I visited Decembers past and found these cool things:


Capital City weather: 28 degrees at 8:20 a.m.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006


I have a plumber over this morning. I hate having people in to fix things. I like things that work; I don't like attempting much home repair myself -- yet I hate the ends to that means. I hate picking and calling a company, I hate waiting on the set day, I hate the inane small talk I make ("you know how old houses are"), I hate the crunching sounds and the murmered swearing.

I know what you're thinking: you think it's the forthcoming big bill that's tying my stomach in knots. It's not. "A zillion dollars? Fine." I just want everything to be okay. Maybe that's it: waiting on repairs is a long ride in the land of "Everything Is Not Okay." Other not-okay things will turn up. It stresses me out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

On the Air

The director of libraries for UMass was on Morning Edition yesterday as I drove to work. He did a nice job of describing the place of libraries on a modern campus: providing wireless and online sources so students and faculty can access materials 24/7, and providing the busiest coffee shop on campus. He missed the chance to say that some students attracted by the new comfy chairs, the wireless, and the coffee might run into a helpful librarian who could help him/her navigate the web of online sources, so many of them hidden. Story, here.

At work, I might have reached one or two of the parent-child pairs I helped with homework. The boy had to research El Salvador; both girls had to read historical fiction. The boy (clearly forced by mom), came back to say "thanks for helping," so I could say "remember us next time you need homework help." He might have believed me. And sometimes one just gets a read off an adult thank-you: something suggests I gave more help than one historical fiction mom expected.

Listen for Phiance on WRIR on Tuesdays, 6 - 8 a.m. this month. Around 7:45, he'll play local Christmas music.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Good item from NPR: Behind Vince Guaraldi's Timeless Holiday Soundtrack

I'm not sure how to sell The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor. "If you liked The Golden Compass, try this"? But I didn't like Pullman's series that begins with that book, so maybe that's not right. I don't think one need to have read Lewis Carroll's Alice, but that's why I wanted to read it.

Beddor creates two worlds for us: Alice Liddell's Victorian England, and Alyss Heart's Wonderland -- though the young women in question is the same person. A rightful queen is overthrown; a wicked one installed. Battles are pitched. There's loyalty, friendship, and some romance; also, sadness. The Hatter appears, as does the Cheshire Cat; though I am sad to report that the latter is quite menacing.

I enjoyed it, but I don't know to whom I will recommend it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Jones Soda will switch to pure cane sugar: hurrah! Are you listening, Coca-Cola? The man says, "'It's better for you, it's better tasting. . . .'" Give us Coke that tastes right, you dorks!

The Jones Soda folks know their product is a treat and want to make the best treat they can. The Halloween-flavored treats we bought two Octobers ago had some loser flavors (Candy Corn), but this year's Gruesome Grape was a perfectly nice grape soda, and I also had some cranberry-something that was quite tasty. I used to drink their Pink and Cream Soda pretty often, but Jones got harder to find in Capital City.

Capital City weather: 60 degrees at 8:00 a.m. on November 30.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Phiance has been busy doing music for Lee Harris's annual Xmas CD extrvaganza. Here's hoping these make the cut: The Mall and Lump of Coal.

Monday, November 27, 2006


When I saw the BakersEdge pan on notmartha, it was not immediately clear to me what it does.
A Day Off

On my day off, I went to the library. Well, I just popped into my local branch of Capital City Library, and was very glad that they still had the book I put on hold, way back last Monday. I forgot how busy -- and how small -- RPL's first branch is. At midday, it felt packed with computer users, someone at the jigsaw puzzle, a magazine reader (the white-haired man with a mild mental illness (?) who one often sees roaming the city in a jacket with a crest), and a few book browsers. I chatted for a moment with the staff, then hit the road with my next bookclub book (Freakonomics).

As I ran around town, one thing I noted is that VCU's newest building, across Belvidere from the ugly, ugly engineering building, appears to be Richardsonian Romanesque revival. Promising.

A few other errands later, and I was back at the Mixmaster, ready to start the second batch of cookies for the day. That's right, despite another 70 degree day, it is time to bake Christmas cookies. I'm on spritz, right now; the chocolate shortbread have cooled.

Also, I raked up one bag of leaves from the backyard, fixed the fence and gate, and put new sheets on the bed.

Some day of rest? Well, yesterday was more a day of rest, with a great birding hike on the lagoon side of the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, a visit with FW and GA, and the decorating of the aluminum tree.

And now, just for Spunky Primate, here's our bird list:
double-crested cormorant
canada goose
american black duck
american wigeon
wood duck
american coot
great blue heron
great egret
belted kingfisher
pileated woodpecker (4 individuals!)
common flicker
red-bellied woodpecker
yellow-bellied sapsucker
downy woodpecker
hairy woodpecker
eastern phoebe
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
brown creeper
carolina wren
ruby-crowned kinglet
brown thrasher
eastern bluebird
american robin
yellow-rumped warbler
red-winged blackbird
northern cardinal
white-throated sparrow
song sparrow

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly: a new dorm by '08, and President Creighton's tenth year.
To See Every Bird on Earth... by Dan Koeppel: it's sad that his dad didn't buy his wife binoculars, that she couldn't go birding with him.
Discussing at book group tomorrow: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde.

Beaujolais nouveau

On VCUkrop's Muzak
"Who's Zoomin Who"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Aw, come on Style: Richmond is a city that loves parking lots! It's a great tribute.
It's official! The Queen is coming to Virginia next year.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey, Me Too!

Even from the tiny thumbnail on boingboing, I could tell I had the same flower sheet as this crafter used to make a sssssnake! Heck, "had"? It may be upstairs, still. I used it at camp when I last lived out there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Librarians tend to lean left. An item in American Libraries this month draws our attention to right-leaning and sharply critical (or satirical of) of ALA librarian bloggers. These bloggers links lists point to others, but also to . . . neutral? non polemical? . . . blogs I like, such as Vampire Librarian, Happyville Librarian (I'd lost the URL), and Libetiquitte. Worth checking on: Annoyed Librarian, Shush.

(P.S. I just spell-checked because a word I easily typo is "librarian," used several times above. Why the heck doesn't Blogger's spellcheck know the word "bloggers" and "blogs"??)

Monday, November 13, 2006


I guess V's Capital City Desk name is now "Spunky Primate"! Check out her cool merch, a sideline to her web design business.

We found congee in Richmond, at Full Kee: great comfort food at the end of a Sunday that was rainy, cold, and windy.

Phiance does the 6-8 a.m. shift at WRIR tomorrow, not Friday, this week.

I met the new president of UR once or twice back in the late 1980s, when I worked at the Valentine. We had these awesome seminars for the curatorial staff, to keep us up on history. I seem to remember him being a guest, then, or perhaps a consultant on major exhibitions. I remember him as jovial -- not a quality that leaps to mind for university administrators.

Chop Suey Tuey is what they're calling their second location, in Carytown. Hallelujah, people! A hipster independent bookstore is just the thing we need to break up the relentless over gentrification of Carytown.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Library Stuff

Cool search engine (link from a cool coworker) named Ms. Dewey. I did a few searches to compare it to Google, and it seems comparable, ignoring the fact that the her cool interface takes a minute to load. (Though I do wish I could do all that silly stuff while standing at the ref desk: sharpen a giant knife, pretend to talk to high-ranking government officials.) The quality of returns seems high; in fact, it seems that paid placements do not appear. Try searching for goods (I did "Honda Civic"): on Google, the first will be in a box marked "sponsored links" and those same won't appear on Ms. Dewey.

On Friday, I went, reluctantly, to the Virginia Library Association's conference, and as often happens when one goes unwillingly, I had a great time. I attended two very good readers' advisory workshops, and really enjoyed lunch speaker Candice Fleming. She's a history geek with a great sense of humor, which energies she turns to writing for young people. She's a cheerful Sarah Vowell. I also cheered on my colleagues in their presentation which urged us to use National Library Week as a chance to break out the glitter and have fun in the library. (I hope they know I was cheering them on, not heckling.)

The area library staff are right, of course: there's not enough glitter. There's an outside possibility that I enjoyed myself because I felt like the youngest, slimmest, most hip-dressed person at the conference (until I walked into the room with the area lib team). And I was wearing pants that are, like 3 years old!
Urban Hiking

We got up this morning with the Floodwall Walk as our goal. The forecast was for 80 degrees: how could we not get out?

We parked by the Suntrust complex and spent the first 45 minutes at the overlook on top of a trestle that rockclimbers scale, buzzed by zillions of songbirds. We identified: kinglet, chickadee, towhee, white-throated sparrow yellow-rumped warbler, cardinal, red-winged blackbirds and many others, but many went unidentified. I tried to invent an ovenbird on a fallen log far below. . . but I didn't write it on the official list for the day. On the river were double-crested cormorants, geese, a kingfisher, and gulls. We had with us one of the informative pamphlets that the park system prints: urban and industrial history -- plus some nature! Awesome. We considered old railroads, floodwall mechanics, and learned that the Mayo Bridge was completed in 1913 (!!!).

Once we crossed under the bridge, the floodwall loomed up 30 feet and the industrial noise that had followed us for some time was suddenly gone. Small factories proclaiming paper and paint as their business both had Saturday shifts. From that low, shaded walk, we came up those 30 feet into the sunshine and walked towards the end of the trail, at I-95. On the backswing, we sat on a bench looking up at the Southern States building and munching apples, to the annoyance of a woodchuck, who must have wanted to eat its second breakfast in that warm spot.

A little more than three hours later (it was only 3.5 miles, but we were birdwatching!), we were in the car, and Phiance had some notion about a park on the southside of Rockett's Landing. And sure enough, once we skirted the city's water treatment facility, there were signs for a boat landing and the slave trail (skim down at that link). The sign at the beginning of the trail tells of the massiveness of slave trade, of nighttime walks to the market on the other side of the river, and of the profit whites made selling people downriver to the sugar cane plantations of the deep south. Mind-numbing.

From the southside of the James, we could see the Schooner Virginia, our other destination. We got in the car and crossed the Mayo Bridge and a few minutes later were onboard. It's maintained, it seems, as an educational vessel and occasional movie set. One of the sailors said, Yes, they were at the Bay Bridge-Tunnel just before the Fourth of July with another schooner, getting ready for a race. Ha! That's who we saw on our way to Kiptopeke in late June. Richmond is such a small town.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Around Town

Mankin, a showplace built by a brickmaker during Virginia's colonial revival hey-day, is now available for weddings. Philance took me by it on a tour of East Henrico on one of our first outings together. Alas, according to the T-D, it's rather out of our price range, as it is designed for destination weddings.

I keep meaning to mention how nice it is that someone converted the small hotel on Franklin just east of Belvidere into apartments. When I come home from the Y, it's nice to see lights on in that building.

At the Byrd: installation of a new sound system.

Bumperstickers noted on Cary Street this morning: "We Homeschool / Because Home is Cool" with "Public School? / Aren't You Worried About Socialization?" on a minivan and "Clinton Ruined a Dress / Bush Ruined a NATION" on an SUV.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


As has been predicted for the last 20 years, but has been only truly likely the last five, the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council decided to sell Camp Kittamaqund. One sign was that the Council has not put adequate money into maintenance for the last several years, and in the last 20 did not undertake the scale of construction that would have made the exquisite property appealing to not only modern girls, but also to their over-protective parents who cannot be bothered to drive more than 30 minutes for mere crafts and sailing. No money was put into the property because no money was available. Members, families, alumnae, and corporations failed to give the money it takes to sustain nearly 400 acres. The other sign of impending sale was the coming of gourmet food markets and public radio to the Northern Neck: rich Baby Boomers are flocking -- the time is right to sell.

Most readers will not be surprised that there is no timely posting of a press release on the PR page of the website nor on the homepage. The local council (31 counties and 6 cities in central Virginia, repsonisable to a national organization, as well as local membership) has a number of strengths: timeliness and use of technology are not among them.

I also don't see a posting for the meetings that were held this week at which Council President Tina Dickerson made the announcement. I heard about it only through the courtesy of my former co-workers, NOT as a lifetime member of the Council or trainer. When I heard was clear what it would be about, and, frankly, I didn't have the stomach to go. I made all the difference I could at CK from 1982 - 2002. Now, I choose to make a difference in the world in other ways.

Some links
Something I wrote on Kittamaqund history; I will try to do more
Draco's page, which allows current and recent CKers to keep up
Northern Neck tourism site (Use your favorite search engine to look for "Northern Neck VA" and notice the paid and unpaid hit are mostly "real estate")

****NEW**** PoeAnna's protest page; join in

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Fellow Virginians

Have you studied for the election? Why the heck not?! Go to the Virginia State Board of Elections : CandidatesList site to see what will be on the ballot.

We missed both Governor Kaine and candidate Webb at the India Festival yesterday (P needs to go both days, I learned), but that timing allowed for the zen moment of a Sunday afternoon knock on the door that I answered. I almost didn't answer: bound to be about church, or the election, and having enjoyed a very good party the night before, I was in no mood for either. Luckily, it was Dan, enroute home from homecoming and needing a stiff glass of iced tea.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

At the Festival Of India, Mayor Wilder wore a burn-orange jacket and made mayoral remarks. Having enjoyed our lunch already, we ducked out as he introduced VCU President Trani. (Leaving me to wonder what he has to do with Indians living in Richmond.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

City So Nice I Blogged it Twice

Look, that's New York, over there.

K. Tours at Ease in Union Square

Dressed for the opera

Friday, October 20, 2006

Local News

I didn't focus in on coverage of the President's visit to Richmond -- to fund-raise for our dufus junior Senator -- until I saw the feel-good piece on channel 6 about his stop at the produce stand near Phiance's old apartment, to buy "an 8 pound pumpkin for the First Lady." I think WCVE's local news coverage gave a few generic sentences like, "he attended a fund raiser for 250 people at the Science Museum of Virginia." Only WRIR gives a clue that there were protesters.

Ah, no, here's AP coverage on channel 6's website of protesters. I missed all the action as author Elisa Carbone spoke at our area library. At first, I thought the large crowd of middle schoolers and their grown ups were there for the extra-credit, only, but once she got going, the youngsters were engaged and eagerly answered the questions she asked about Jamestown.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Vacation No Longer

This week, I studied up on the sort of diplomacy I'll need to better develop if I want to be a branch manager when I grow up. The Boss had to take a call from a patron who "tripped on a pebble" in our drive, hurt herself, but didn't come back in because she was running late. The Boss expressed all kinds of warm concern and sympathy, jotted down some notes, explained that she'd write up an incident report, and said she'd go take care of that "pebble." Which we did.

I also practiced working from Plan B. After just over a week with our proud, new online events calendar and meeting room reservation software fully running, the inevitable happened -- to our branch. All computers were down when we arrived yesterday morning and remained out until about 12:35.

The first thing I did was call another branch: -Um, could you print out, or read, our room reservations? I can't tell if our rooms are booked because we have no computers.

Then the calls started:
"Could you tell me if there's still room in that computer class?" -Not without a working computer.
"I don't understand the bounce-back message I got from your new room reservation system -- do I have the room or not?" -Your familiar group will be approved as soon as our computers work again.
"Can you tell me if a meeting room is available on the xth?" -No! Okay? No.

In person work was a little better:
-Sorry, we're not sure how long it will take to get them working. A technician (where did I get that word?!) is on the way.
- Resume books? YES! I do know where those are!
- Information on bilingual special ed?? That doesn't sound like the sort of book we'd have, but you can browse in education (if I can find that area).
- A particular diet book? Yes, that title sounds familiar, let's browse. When we didn't find it, I called another lib to ask them to do a catalog search for me: Nope, no titles like that in the system.
- A dictionary? YES!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Things We Did Last Week
(I will add the links all week, and will rediscover the coding to make a new window open for them; perhaps there will be pictures, too.)

In Brooklyn
  • Ate pizza.
  • Enjoyed the view of Manhattan.
  • Fishs Eddy.

  • In NYC
  • Admired buildings along Central Park and popped in on Strawberry Fields (are there always so many offerings of flowers and people singing, or was that because of his birthday?).
  • Ate at Fine & Shapiros; Cafe des Artistes; Jean Georges.
  • Had breakfast at Angela's Rock n Roll Deli.
  • Walked.
  • Ate congee.
  • Shopped in Chinatown.
  • Drifted across the edge of Soho (too unhip to stop?) and Little Italy.
  • Ate more pizza.
  • Admired the zodiac in Grand Central Terminal (wept over the stupidity of Cap City's Staples Mill "station").
  • Shopped at the Strand.
  • Took the subway.
  • Saw the last two floats of the Columbus Day parade on 5th Ave.: City parks' bocci league champions, followed by Bacardi Rum gals.
  • Saw The Magic Flute at the Met.
  • Walked; admired tall buildings (Rockefeller Center, Chrysler, Empire State, Flat Iron).
  • Shopped at the Strand.
  • Shopped at Fishs Eddy.
  • "Shopped" at Virgin.
  • Did not see Rod Stewart up the street from where we stayed. (Monday and Tuesday mornings, Phiance and I were up early, ate at Angela's, walked in the park, and came out next to where CBS does "The Early Show" And every morning P said, "Let's go wave at the cameras," and I was all "No, that's dorky-touristy, and I don't even watch morning T.V." Wednesday morning (while P took, like, the world's longest shower), I flipped on the T.V., and there was Rod Stewart singing just up the street from us! He quipped that the strong morning wind proved that was not a wig on his head. I hesitated, then dashed out. . . to a corner dominated by wind, emptiness, and a smallish stage with something that looked like a high school dance backdrop, all lattice and pink. Stewart hadn't been on live! He was pre-recorded! Grrr.)
  • Sat next to Mary Tyler Moore at E.A.T.
  • Attended at taping of "The Daily Show" (Lou Dobbs on War on the Middle Class...).
  • Caught a cab in the rain(!).
  • Bought 5 dozen bagels (well, Dad did; he's like that) at H&H and headed south.

  • In Richmond
  • Enjoyed the National Folk Festival.
  • Volunteered at Making Strides in Byrd Park.
  • Ate at Liberty Valance.
  • Saturday, October 14, 2006

    If you are going to the Folk Festival, you must go hear the Quebe Sisters: the Andrews Sisters meet Bob Wills. Awesome.

    Friday, October 06, 2006

    Life in the South

    Exhibit 1
    Here's the R&D conversation I imagine:
    Q: What does the South run on?
    A: College sports and air conditioning.
    Q: Can we combine the two, somehow?
    A: You bet.

    Exhibit 2
    The University of Mississippi dedicated a civil rights monument last week.

    Exhibit 3
    Capital City's Willow Lawn turns 50.

    Friday, September 29, 2006


    This development came to my attention through a link in something I read about Tolkien. It had been billed as an attempt to create Middle Earth, in Oregon. The front page, however, and the first few I read after that, made it seem like little more than an over-the-top planned community, with an English cottages and village look. Thomas Kinkade also came to mind.

    With morning coffee in hand, I read further. My goodness! It looks I can't link straight to a picture, so, go here and look at some of the last pictures for a view of Hobbit Hole 1! And this page has a few things to say about Bree. Wow.

    Here in Capital City, I wonder if I mentioned that the Fan Market, most recently a combination tanning salon and video rental place, is now a Starbucks? The mega chain finally infiltrated the Fan.

    I wasn't going to read Style this week, because I am disappointed I never made the Top 40 Under 40 list, but I relented. Slipek's review of the Historical Society's addition is more a sketch of its evolution, though eventually he mentions that he doesn't like the way the new wing juts out.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Happy Banned Books Week

    Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st Century, says the American Library Association. One of our copies of HP is on the endcap display that Children's Librarian and I put together on Saturday. The first books to go from our display of banned and challenged works? Sendak's In the Night Kitchen and Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The later, like Fahrenheit 451, has been assigned in schools recently. Both have flown off the shelves.

    To celebrate the week, we also have a little quiz -- chose the NOT-banned book on list -- to enter folks into a drawing for a book. The only person I got to enter so far is one of our local school librarians. It was busy, but we had a brief talk about banned books and how she talked about the subject with grade schoolers.

    Last night, also at a hectic moment, a patron who I couldn't quite place came up (why was he barefoot?? It was only in the 60s, don't you think?) with an inter-library loan return. He jumped right in with a limp gesture at our brown-paper wrapped prize book, "What's this all about?" "I'd love to talk with you about that -- let me just finish with this gentleman."

    "Okay. Banned Books Week is celebrated by booksellers and libraries every year, as a chance to talk about how while some people think some books shouldn't be published, we think all books should be published, and people should pick which ones they want to read." Yeah, it probably was a run-on sentence a lot like that, but I felt okay about the content.

    "So it's new? It's some the county does?"

    "Oh, no: it's been celebrated for a number of years by booksellers and the American Library Association; the county libraries are joining in [again] this year."


    I checked in his ILL as he reminisced about his copy of a racially sticky children's book and how he'd "be rich" if he still had it. (Yeah, if it was a first edition, buddy. If you never took a crayon to it, or bent a page. Few old books will make you rich.)

    Have a nice evening. Next please.

    Monday, September 25, 2006


    Since a good work friend has a daughter in the junior class at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, I have been following, blow by blow, the decision of the trustees to admit men, and the students' reaction. Students objecting to the change have expressed themselves through letters, demonstrations, protest t-shirts, a hunger strike, and by trying to sue. (After all, at least some of the first-years must have selected RMWC because it is a women's college.)

    My first reaction, I suppose, was realistic resignation: Yeah, I could see that happening to another of the smaller women's colleges. After all, it is a girls-gone-wild era. I recall an interview show (Oprah, I think) featuring Boomer and X'er women shaking their heads at the giant step back such behavior represents for equality and feminism, while the under 25 set argued that their focus on pleasing men makes them liberated. These young women, I know, don't want to go to school without men, and they represent income for colleges and universities of all types. It's hopeless, I figured.

    This weekend, I read about a two-year men's college, Deep Springs, in Dana Goodyear's "The Searchers" (9/4 New Yorker), and it refocused me on the positive outcomes of single-sex education. One of the things we often extol in women's colleges is the chance for women to fill all the roles: not just secretary, but also president. The editor of the paper, the star athlete, the best grades, every D.J. -- all women. Given that, it's odd I hadn't considered the reverse: what's it like when men fill all the roles? Of course, Deep Springs College has unique expectations, and since it does, men do "manly" chores on the school's ranch, and also "womanish" chores like milking, cooking, and cleaning. The wife of an alumnus noted that the students were also freer to take on "female" behaviors "like being a good friend and listening and crying" and that this "remove[d] some of the gendering from those things." Hey, that sounds like a good thing for our world. Maybe RMWC's trustees need to think about serving men only.

    Additional Reading:
    - "dozens of women's colleges ... are stronger than ever" -- comments by the chair of the Women's College Coalition, summer 2006
    - a review of an apparently thin but charming book on college and women in the New York Times
    - Quotation I found pinned on my bulletin board from a not-too-old Alumnae Quarterly, from former MHC President, Liz Kennan '60: "'After the Ivy League and other colls. went coed in the '70s, there was an expectation that the world of equality had come, that there would have be a level playing field for men and women in educ. But in fact, the stereotypes have not been broken. The millennium has not come for women's educ. in a coeducational setting.'"

    Sunday, September 24, 2006


    I think I heard about the Presidential Doodles book on the radio; I am pleased to see there are a few samples on the website.

    For fun I read Jasper Fforde's latest, The Fourth Bear; for work I am reading Blood on the River, as the author will be visiting our library system next month. To quote the 12-year-old (who read it in a night and wants to know how I am not done yet): "it's not bad."

    Thursday, September 21, 2006


    The first half of the week at the ref desk has been characterized by a good bit of computer trouble-shooting, while the IT staff updates the software that manages patron computer sessions and printing. "No, you are not limited to just one hour of computer time, now. Let that hour run out, then sign on again and you'll get the second." "We're sorry." "Thanks for your patience." "Can't print? Let me save that and print it from my computer."

    Near closing time on Tuesday, I got a tough question, on the phone: "What's the birthdate of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran?" Ah Ready Reference! The almanac had the year: she wanted the day. Our biography database didn't have that info; -- the portal to all things governmental -- was a pain to use and yielded nothing; and Google gave me nothing I could trust. Ah! Silly Old Bear: the encyclopedia. Our online Britannica had it.

    Monday, September 18, 2006


    As far as I know, I have only 3 or 4 friends who regularly keep "general interest" blogs. One tagged me for this list, two do these all the time and so may be Over It, and Phiance may know even fewer bloggers than I do -- so I don't know how I will answer the last one. I guess we will see when I get there.

    Four jobs I’ve had
    1. Camp Counselor
    2. Assistant Curator of Photography, Valentine Museum
    3. I love that as a Temp, I spent an entire work day handing out Ralph Lauren perfume samples at Thalhimers Westmoreland, and wrapping years of service gifts for Blue Cross.
    4. Librarian

    Four movies I could watch over and over
    1. Singin in the Rain
    2. Spirited Away
    3. Buckaroo Bonsai
    4. Diner

    Four places I have lived
    1. Philadelphia, Penna.
    2. Midlothian, Va.
    3. South Hadley, Mass.
    4. Oxford, Miss.

    Four TV shows I love to watch
    1. Seinfeld
    2. M*A*S*H*
    3. The Simpsons
    4. Star Trek

    Four places I’ve been on vacation
    1. Alaska
    2. Kiptopeake State Park
    3. Baltimore
    4. London

    Four websites I visit [alomst] daily
    1. Librarian Girl
    2. boingboing
    3. Wired
    4. National Weather Service

    Four of my favorite foods
    1. Chocolates
    2. New York bagels
    3. Mom's lasagna
    4. Eggs benedict

    Four places I would rather be right now
    1. the Outer Banks
    2. a James River park
    3. sailing on the Great Wicomico
    4. dinner party at Dan's

    Four blogs I’ll tag
    Um, any volunteers?

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    A more formal portrait.
    Thanks, Jess.

    I adore my engagement necklace, which belonged to Phiance's mom. It's simple, yet shiny. An added bonus: no awkward poses with one hand by my face, or both folded in front of me to show it off!
    Wired offers us an item, here, about the fear of terrorism and the real threat. "In fact, your appendix is more likely to kill you than al-Qaida is."

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    We Are Now Engaged

    P proposed at Natural Bridge on September 2nd

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    The patron who kinda reminds me of my (late) fraternal grandmother was just in. She likes Steven Colbert, so I used InfoTrac to find the February 13th, 2006, issue of Newsweek in which he appeared for her.

    My lib lost power around 1:40 on Friday; after 3 hours in the dark, we closed. Power out at our house only 10 or 12 hours.

    Capital City weather: outstanding

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Not that I am in the habit of suggesting the RTD to anyone, but they have some storm blogging going on.
    Capital City Weather:

    Tropical Storm Ernesto.

    Fall 1999: Floyd

    September 2003: Isabel

    August 2004: Gaston

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    This university library did an awesome job of letting students know how useful and helpful it is.

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    One of these just walked in the door of the lib.
    Professional Tool

    I just added a WorldCat search to my Firefox tool bar, and that search box over there on the right to the template. It was a snap, and now I can find which library has a book I need, from the convenience of my own laptop. Too bad I am not in school or doing research for anyone at the moment. It'll make a great back up for those few times work's OCLC logins are all in use -- though only when I think I am going to find an item in a neighboring system. When I suspect we're going to be ILL-ing something, I need to go on through our system so I can jump straight into making the ILL request.

    Capital City weather: we had one of those intense "30% chance of rain" thunderstorms last night. We lost power at NP twice, including lock-up time. Neat-o. It made today hot and sticky.

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    New New York

    Did you catch David Sedaris on This American Life? He described sitting in a restaurant and assuming no one would come to wait on him. Ira Glass thought this was absurd -- they're in business! Of course they will come wait on you! I am firmly in Sedaris's camp, though with slightly different complexes: I assume I am being snubbed, pointedly, for being too unhip or curly-haired or poor.

    This how I felt at the new New York Deli last night. Even though I wore a cute vintage top, I knew I was too un-trendy to have a good experience. We went because Phil wanted to go. I knew from the first hints in Style that the friendly low-key deli would become a Hip Spot, and the weekly's recent gushing about the new current of nightlife it carries confirmed it. Still, P wanted to go, and maybe my horizons needed expanding.

    P's version of the outing is just a click away, and of course the first commenter on P's blog about the evening sounds like exactly the sort of self-proclaimed "scenester" I don't want to share space with. My NYD was the sort of place where old gents living on their own here in the city could have an early dinner alone -- and feel comfortable doing it. Those are the fellows I want as fellow diners when I grab a bite before a show at the Byrd or have Sunday breakfast with some girl friends.

    And the waitress knew all of this about me, I know it. This is why she paid so little attention to us that she felt surprised when we said, Um, could we get some silverware? She all but said, Oh are you still here? Or, No, I am sorry, your top covers too much of you and you are not wearing a short flippy skirt, and therefore are not entitled to this nice cloth napkin and zany mismatched diner silverware.

    About the time I admitted to P that the wrap was tasty, and he made me taste his bitter dish, the other (competent and friendly) waitress noted I needed water and offered to top off my glass. No thanks, we're just trying to get our check.

    I went in expecting it to be like this (though with fewer babies and toddlers), but P expected to be treated civilly and to have a tasty meal, so he was getting increasingly angry. Thankfully, Bev's is just across the street and so the outing was saved.

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    A Saturday at NP

    I wore my Chuck's to work, partly as my disguise as a hipster librarian, and partly so I could do a quick garbage pick up in the library's yard. From driving by, S and I had identified a piece of fabric in the parking lot as underwear -- in fact, it was only a nice plaid hankie. Nearby was a single-shot bottle of Segrams gin. In the woods along our driveway, what I took to be beer cans turned out to be containers for Slim Fast and an energy drink. The beer bottles -- Heinken, mostly -- were deeper in the woods, in a clearing that felt oft-used. It wasn't until my return swing that I noted the tin of chicken, the lid popped open but not off.

    From then, the day was fairly uneventful until the weekly exchange of obscure video tapes inter-library loaned for a patron who struggles to follow our ILL rules to the comma. Instead of arriving at 31 minutes until closing time as he has been doing, he came at Children's Librarian's lunch break, at the same time that I was helping:

    Another patron with a single ILL request. And

    A nursing degree student struggling with her first homework assignment on etymology. The point seemed to be to introduce them to the notion of Latin roots and so recognize things like "renal" as having to do with kidneys. She had trouble grasping it, and so asking me questions, and I don't know that I helped as much as I could have. Whether part of the assignment or a tangent, she also wanted to know more about Senator Allen's name-calling.

    And a boy who needed to put money on his SAM account.

    And a woman looking for Future Shock.

    No, Nice School Librarian whose name I can't recall, We're not always this busy on Saturdays!

    Thanks, M-M, for the heads up on LJ.

    Reading Rampage: Cloud Atlas, Weetzie Bat, Morality for Beautiful Girls, , and an article on the mills at Matoaca (Chesterfield County, Va.) in Virginia Magazine.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Professional Reading

    1) Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century found that:
    • libraries hold high credibility in their communities
    • the public values both traditional and 21st century services
    • people who are civiclly engaged are very pro-library, but not worried about library's competition for funding
    • leaders see libraries as poised to solve problems, but vulnerable
    • most people reject cutting library services

    2) Langmedia: online language lab, from the Five Colleges

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    The Onion

    Dewey Decimal System Helpless To Categorize New Jim Belushi Book

    DUBLIN, OH—Members of the OCLC Online Computer Library Center's Editorial Policy Committee, which oversees the Dewey Decimal System library...

    As well as wanting to draw your attention to the interesting item above, I wanted to try out The Onion's "blog" button. Pretty neat.

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Stacy Schiff wrote on Wikipedia for The New Yorker's July 31 issue (so I don't know how long that link will last).

    Much of the article defines Wikipedia and describes the growing number of people with responsibility for content. The thing about having credentialled people keeping an eye on things, she writes, it that "too many Wikipedians are fundamentally suspicious of experts and unjustly confident of their own opinions." They don't take well to edits and just change them back. Or, they write at length on popular that topics, one hopes, are ephemeral: "The (generally good) entry on St. Augustine is shorter than the one on Britney Spears."

    Style often goes wanting, too, Schiff points out. She gives the entry on Nietzsche as an example: while "debate" leads to frequent revision of the essay, the disagreements are "over Nietzsche's politics; taken as a whole, the entry is inferior to the essay in the current Britannica, a model of its form."

    Wikipedia people are quoted as predicting the doom of print encyclopedias, and in return, "Jorge Cauz, Britannica's president, told [Schiff] in an e-mail that if Wikipedia continued without some kind of editorial oversight it would 'decline into a hulking mediocre mass of uneven, unreliable, and, many times, unreadable articles.'"

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Just Read

    A new YA librarian mentioned that Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak is one of her favorite teen novels. Having finished the captivating Cloud Atlas (Liam Callanan ) for this month's adult book club, and as I was straightening the A's, I checked it out.

    Ah, yes: another downer teen problem novel, very much like Just Listen, which I read earlier this summer. Now that I think about it, the oft-annoying, yet occassionally useful, yalsabk listserv compared the two endlessly, so I might have known I could skip the older title.

    I hereby give myself the homework assignment of reading something light, cheerful, and/or fun next week!

    On Muzak: Librarian Girl writes wittily about it, here. One of her commenters writes that it is supposed to appeal to the "perceived customers of the business" -- and even as a retype that, a lightbulb goes on! All this time, I thought Ukrop's was trying to say something about itself: no they nod to us when they choose "80s pop tunes" or whatever that is. I still find it jarring that the alcohol-free, closed-on-Sunday grocery plays music that makes me think of frat parties, but now I get that it's not about them, it's about me.

    At the Diamond: RBraves won for us last night, on Library Night! Will they keep it up tonight, when we are invited to the "Governor's Box"??

    At the Byrd: Will it be worth $1.99?: The DaVinci Code

    Monday, August 07, 2006


    P predicted the selling of bottled ice-cap-melt water; it'll be a sign of how little The Majority cares that we've ruined an entire planet. Here's Greenland ice cap beer: is that better or worse?

    In other commercial news, after a pretty successful East End yard sale, we came back to town for dinner at home and a walk to Gentrification Towne -- er, Carytown. From a table in the window at Bev's Ice Cream, we people-watched. Bygones grabbed this summer's hot pirate theme for their Watermelon Festival window -- a pirate chest of melons. A woman in a turquoise blue dress took some photos (or video?) from the Byrd's marquee and climbed back in the balcony-level window. The new New York Deli had customers; one in the window had placed her Vera Bradley bag for all to see how Nice a restaurant it is now. A Byrd ticket taker came outside to scope out a tandem bicycle chained to a sign post.

    Just as I was going to make a grand overgeneralization about the well-heeled suburbanites cluttering "my" sidewalk, a trio dressed in a "gangsta" fashion caught my eye. "Look how carefully he's had to arrange his skort-shorts," I thought of the young man. The billowy trousers were low enough to allow us all to see a good 4 or 5 inches of his underwear -- but they were belted in place, so as to stay put at that optimum point, I guess. Maybe they were wanna be thugs, maybe they lived over on Parkwood. As the threesome moved off, a couple caught my eye: Well, at last, those hipsters look a little more like us. Oh, wait, it's P's new coworker and her husband! They'd come to Bev's for a pre-movie dinner.

    After a quick chat with them, and at P's insistence, we popped in to the new NY Deli and he asked for a menu ($7 - 9 salads, sandwiches, mac and cheese, and General Tso's chicken). It's all medium wood tones and tiny little hanging lights: an upscale version of the Panera we visited over by the mall, the next day. Around the corner, half of For the Love of Chocolate's former space is occupied by what seems to be a grocery called the Tokyo Market. (FLC moved to Cary Court.) Looks like everyone's settled in just in time for the Watermelon Festival.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Screw Loose

    I don't think I ever mentioned the little round table.

    We anticipate beginning a self-serve pick-up system for books placed on hold by patrons. To get ready, a table for handouts and the photocopier were moved from just inside the front door, to a desirable spot right next to the men's room. The handouts table became a desk for a new employee -- and it wouldn't have fit next to the copier in its new location, anyway.

    For a couple of weeks, I ignored the need for a table next to the copier. When you're makin' copies, though, you do need a landing place for originals, the other book you need info from, your quarters, etc. When a patron came over and politely suggested that we get a table, I knew I had to take initiative. I hated to, but I took a little table from the break room.

    Until New T opens, my branch remains the newest and (in most aspects) most well-thought out library in the system. We have a sizable break room -- the envy of many! -- with a 'fridge with water and ice in the door, a round dining table and four chairs, a sofa, a club chair, and next to the last, a spikey-legged round end table. On a slow lunch break -- or when a book group book is due -- I like to sit in the club chair with my cup of tea at my side. But, short of a Baker & Taylor box, "my" tea table was the only spare surface in the entire place, so I grabbed it by its top and carried it out onto the floor. It does the trick, and it fits our beech wood and metal Look out there.

    One day, as I looked the place over before opening, I saw that the table looked odd: the top didn't seem to be centered on the legs. It wasn't. It wasn't even attached to the legs any longer! "Something snuck in and chewed holes in all of our sneakers!" I said to myself, recalling what a tent-full of Junior Girl Scouts once exclaimed to me. I was dubious, then, but I was ready to believe that some wacky patron could well have taken all the screws out of our little table.

    This week, I finally thought to mention it to the county buildings and grounds -- er, "general services" -- man who checks in on us every week or so. As part of his assessment of the situation, he picked up the legs, and we heard a little metallic rattle. "Hunh," he said, "seems like they fell through." Eeek! Probably from carrying it out here by it's top, I didn't admit. "I ought to be able to fix it next time I come by."

    Capital City weather: just don't even ask
    In the garden: something keeps eating our "Sweet 100" cherry tomatoes

    When I first heard that someone wanted to dig the train out of the Church Hill tunnel, I said, "Why?" Here's a Style backpage from a man who agrees. See also information I put together for a Valentine Museum event, here (scroll down a little; sorry there aren't better internal links).

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Possibly, my definition of "interesting" has changed. I haven't written about interesting library happenings lately, and it may be because I have tightened my definition. The very sharp nine or ten year old girl who spent an hour or more with us yesterday morning should count. She wore her new keytag card with her house key on a lanyard around her neck; she asked great questions and learned from what I showed her about finding books.

    One of my so-called Conspiracy Theory Guys has signed up for an Excel class and keeps wearing a Nanci Griffith concert shirt, so I may have to rename him and/or strike up a conversation about Nanci. Furthermore, he never tries to launch the Internets from an OPAC any more. Maybe I am not changing, the patrons are??

    Mr. You Have a Name showed up the other night. Did I mention that, like Ford Prefect, he not only doesn't blink enough, but "his skin seem[s] to be pulled backward from his nose," too? This week, he urged me to walk the shelves and count how many books were about murder and mayhem, because I'd see that it's a majority. I talked about balancing the collection, and for once was glad that our reader's advisory bookmarks are by the other end of the floor, because that way we could move closer to the door and wind up the conversation. I think he took "gentle reads."

    We've been struggling with noise at our branch. We've had people complain about being shushed, and we've had people complain that it's too loud and the staff never does anything. (You recall of course "Bart the Genius" defining a paradox? If not click the title and ctrl-F "paradox.")

    Maybe I do live in interesting times, after all. Maybe I have been too lazy to write about it.

    Capital City weather: hot and hazy

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    World eBook Fair offers free eBooks until August 4.

    CHPL offers free eBooks year-round; Richmond, Chesterfield, and Pamunkey Regional do not have eBook collections.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Keeping My Cool

    To the list of "museum pieces" in the house, add my penguin ice bucket. They're ubiquitous, so it was bound to happen sometime. Placing one in a room setting would be a great way for the curator to evoke Every Home, 1940-1960.

    In fact, the one I spotted last week appears in the Virginia Historical Society's new exhibition, Virginians at Work, which presents the diversity of both work places and goods made in Virginia. A amoeboid panel gives a few paragraphs on the history of Best Products, displays a handful of pages from a 1950s catalog, and tacks on a few samples of the goods: a toaster, a blender, the ice bucket. Having sold a couple at Urquhart's in the last year, and the piece being displayed on a clear plexi shelf, I looked at the bottom of it, to see if there was a recent accession number -- if maybe it was "mine" in an odd way. The VHS did buy it recently, but not from me: the price tag read $45.00!! I've seen dealers at our mall ask 30 or so, but I never ask more than 22 or so for one with dark handles.

    At the opening reception for the new exhibition, we also enjoyed chatting with a man about Shockoe Creek and the Church Hill train tunnel, drinking the "175" punch, and being just about the youngest people in the place.

    Capital City weather: high 80s, not too humid

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    I just missed seeing some friends and acquaintances in D.C., where I was on Friday. My visit to the American Indian Museum was too short, and was characterized by lunch, mostly. [Disclaimer: I was not with P.] Here's a pretty good article on the Virginia Indians headed to England from the T-D. They left after participating in activities at the museum.

    Here in Capital City, we've entered the Dog Days of Summer with temperatures way in the 90s, and a bleak marquee at the Byrd: "Mission Impossible III."

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006


    At closing time yesterday, my esteemed colleague noted, "You don't want to start off not believing them, but it goes faster if you do."

    Capital City weather: hot, hazy

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    From the Internets

    A view of the Tourinn! Rather smaller than I imagined.

    Saturday, July 08, 2006

    Two for One

    "It's a banner and it's a flag!" I can hear the owner-to-be gasp when she spotted in the shop. She just loves having a banner for each season perched by her door, and what could be more perfect for patriotic occasions than a banner with a picture of a United States flag? No need to go to the trouble of finding an actual, official U.S. flag -- just get a banner! On the banner, Old Glory seems to drape gracefully from an angled pole (with just a ball on top or an actual eagle?), with a fancy bit of yellow tassel winding down it. Now that's class.

    On the Muzak at the East End Ukrop's: B-52s "Roam"
    Capital City Weather: 80s, low humidity, mostly sunny

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    Commercial Interruption

    For a number of years, Robert Vaughn ("of Teenage Cave Man fame," says P) has been the actor-portrayal face of local lawfirm Marks & Harrison. He's familiar without being a Character (to most of us); he's serious and trustworthy. Imagine my surprise -- the madness of it! -- when I found that the attorneys are now being represented by William Shatner. Alas, the technology at CCD doesn't allow me to grab it off the air and YouTube doesn't yet have it. Let's all keep an eye out!
    Everybody Talks About the Weather. . . Dept.

    It's not that hot . . . yet: a nice rant by Greg Weatherford, who I still kinda think of as D's drummer.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Another Reason to Dislike Wal-Mart

    From "Watching the Waterfront," by William Finnegan, in The New Yorker, June 19, 2006:

    The largest American importer by far is Wal-Mart. Last year, it brought seven hundred thousand container units through the green lane into the country [green lane ships are much less like to be stopped and searched by port authorities]. The rise of the big-box retailers, with their global network of suppliers, has caused a shift in power in the international shipping business away from the steamship lines and terminal operators, and towards the importers. What is more, companies like Wal-Mart have been actively working against stronger port- and container-security laws since shortly after the September 11th terror attacks.

    We can buy insanely inexpensive goods made a world away because of cheap labor, the efficiency of container shipping-trucking, and because big-box stores don't have to wait around to be inspected. I don't feel good about that on any level. Except, I guess, when I need some insanely cheap goods.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Old News

    The Da Vinci Code dropped off the NY Times best seller list after its June 18th appearance at number 12 (166 weeks on the list). The paperback edition remains at the top of the paperback list, of course, ruining an early theory that "everyone" has now read it, or seen the movie, and so got over it.
    Should we make fun of what seem to be two sincere commenters on A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette: Conferences, Returning from? Or am I the one who has been wrong all this time: maybe it's not a sarcasm-laden postmodern spoofery of This Modern American Library Life??

    Capital City weather: Humid. Sometimes in the falling form, sometimes not.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    Estate Sale

    I don't know how long the auction company will keep the Twin Oaks sale link live, here, but give it a try.

    While running errands on Friday (a day off, with Saturday being a work day), I noted the Estate Sale sign on one of my mystery houses. The Monument Avenue house (most of the way to Glenside) been on my list of Hard to Know When Built for years. Was it a nicely proportioned 1920s - 40s Colonial Revival? Maybe 19th century because of the way it doesn't face Monument?

    The estate sale blurb claims 18th century, and now that I have been inside, I could imagine the core of it being a circa 1800 central hall house. There was a central hall (with smallish squares of marble covering the floor; they seemed at once grubby and fine) with an oddly-proportioned staircase. Of the 3 rooms off the hall, the side two felt oldest, with their end chimneys and remnants of wood paneling.

    Let me pause here and beg pardon for both timidity and a poor memory. I am too afraid of looking foolish or nosy to go into estate sales (which I love for the free tour of Richmond architecture as much as the possibility of cheap stuff) with a notepad to jot down what the woodwork looked like. I retain an impression of, Hunh, that woodwork looks old -- and that's about it. That said, I'll press on with my sketchy memories.

    The right-hand room had a screened-in porch added on. There was something sadly cheery about a small chintz upholstered chair and footstool that clearly stayed on the porch. Cheery in concept; sad not only in the mildew spots from several seasons, but sad in the layer of dust and pollen from this spring. A brick in the chimney had an 18-teens date etched in it, so if the auctioneer's information is right, perhaps it was a hall-and-parlor house, with the right-hand room coming later. The left-hand room's addition was a kitchen. As one so often finds at estate sales, the last renovation to kitchens and baths occurred 20-30 years ago: I remember lots of brown and gold in the kitchen.

    As also often happens at estate sales, the funky smell of sadness and lack of upkeep
    permeated the house. Sometimes, the damp and musty smells indicate that they house was empty while the family hoped the owner might come back from the hospital or nursing home. But sometimes, clues suggest the owner stayed until the end, shooing friends and family away if they suggested repair to those enormous damp patches in the plaster in the living room -- or a cure for that potent cat pee smell.

    There's not much to say about the library, in the newer first floor addition or the two upstairs bedrooms. I breathed deep the fresh air of the big back yard next, surveyed the many sets of outdoor tables and chairs, the vintage pool, the giant oaks and minimal plants, and moved to my right. "What's this? A an early 20th century washer? Something for sterilizing jars for canning?" - Ah, no, a kiln. "Perhaps I am about to be treated to a bunch of mugs and pots?" No! A table full of doll parts! The late owner was dollmaker Suzanne Gibson.

    The cottage at the back of the property featured a downstairs kitchen with 50s metal cabinets, a large reproduction Federal style dining table, a copy in oil of a 1940s pin-up type poster; and an upstairs with finished dolls in their boxes, and boxes of wigs, feathers, clothes, and other bits and pieces. If not actually her workshop, a show room? On one end of a long table there was a large stack of story books featuring some of the dolls. Who knew? Well, apparently, not many people, or surely they would have been there to buy souvenirs?

    I bought 2 cartoon glasses, and headed onward to Kroger.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Suggested Viewing

    WCVE suggests we tune into "Save Our History" on Saturday, as it will feature some of the renovation to the Capitol.


    Yeah, you see, that's actually exactly why we give you a card in the first place: so we don't have to look up the card number of each of the hundreds of patrons who walk in the doors of 9 locations across the county all day long. This isn't Ukrop's; I don't have some kind of manager's card I can magically wave over the scanner to grant everyone some magic discount. Your own library card is linked to useful information like your name, the number of minutes you get on library PCs each day, the titles of books in your laundry hamper and in the bed of your pick up truck right now; how much in back fines you owe us, and how much money you have on deposit so you can print things off the public PCs. It's a pretty darn useful thing! And I know it's a lot to ask you to carry when you already have all those credit cards, grocery store cards, gasoline station gizmos, memberships to warehouse stores, etc. . . . By the way, does Sam's Club even let you in the door if you forgot your card? You know, you can come into our place, soak up the too-strong A/C, get reference service (often, it's not this flippant!), use the bathroom, read any of our hundreds of magazines or thousands of books, use a meeting room, and even take a computer class without presenting that little piece of plastic. The only time you will need to present your card is to log onto a PC or to take some books out of the building.

    Sure, I could look it up. I could look up people's card numbers all day and never sign anyone up for summer reading club (unofficial tagline: "Read Stuff, Win Fabulous Prizes!"), help them find books on How to Draw or how to "do a resume," or tell Mr. which is #3 in the Jan Karon series, 'cause he can't remember what the Mrs. told him to pick up.

    But right now, actually, the server that stores all that information has gone bye-bye (as we say in the biz), so it's too bad that you didn't actually bring your library card to the library.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    From The New Yorker (6/5/06 issue)

    We Don't Want to Hear About it Department

    From the Napa (Calif.) Napa Valley Register

    You see, Google wants, needs, us to trust it because it has great plans. It wants us to feel free to load all the information we want into Google Base to create the largest suppository of information on the planet.

    Please discuss.

    My Fellow Virginians

    Please vote in the Democratic Primary tomorrow.

    Capital City Weather: rainy, 60s (brrr)

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Friday at Work

    I reviewed some donated books. Your nice hardback fiction, if it's more than 3 or 4 years old, is probably going straight to the booksale. Don't deceive yourself on that account. Some exceptions arise, such as Cornwell or Grisham: if our copy has been worn to shreds and the donated one is "tight" (as book repairers and used book dealers say) and clean, we're glad to get the [nearly*-]free copy.

    *Staff time and materials to cover and label it.

    I read a nice library boosterism article.

    After a false start thinking that Flickr would suit his needs, I helped a patron set up a blog so he could post pictures for "this small group I'm in." (His sample picture was a car -- don't get all excited.) I hope it really is what he needed for that project. He's a pretty regular customer, so I guess I will find out.

    It may not be the best professional practice to recommend "name brands" like that, but it seemed expedient. He came in while Children's Librarian had her lunch, which, naturally was the second-busiest time of day. While I helped him, I also hunted down a Jan Karon book, some Easy Readers, and declared "Missing" out How to Square Dance video.

    Capital City weather: sunny and going up to 80 or so

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Good News?

    Brand identity and loyalty trumps underage binge drinking, accordning to this. I guess that's good news? (Thanks, Bill, for drawing my attention to it.)

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    No Longer the Baby

    When the folks who had glimpsed the nearly-completed area library all used the words “green and purple” to describe it, I wondered if the place pays homage to the Ridge Theater, c. 1989. Now that I have seen it, too, “purple and green” is indeed the overall impression. Like at the Ridge, and as was so popular c. 1990, accent walls in the new library are awash in strong colors in the purple, teal, and blue families. I think the rose walls were only in offices. Different carpets help define different spaces; they are in grays, greens, and purples, with wacky insets in the teens’ and children’s areas.

    All, or nearly all, shelving now having been placed, New T also gives the impression of an academic library. Stairs lead down to where most of the adult collection will be, and my view to the right from them was of countless empty shelves, all the way to the wall at the far end of the huge space, lined up and waiting. So many those linear feet, combined with a glassed-in “quiet study” room, do seem like one floor of a college library.

    The outside, luckily, is red brick, not purple or green. It’s dullish post-modernism in style, looking like a cousin to County public schools built in the last several years. Its massing is such that it does give the good, solid, proud feel that an important public building ought, even if its occasional playful round windows suggest a lighter mood.

    Other features of note include a coffee bar, crazy – er, colorful – room for story time, mostly-enclosed teen area, several group study rooms, and a view of a charming drainage pond complete with the rats of modern suburbia, Canada geese.

    I went to a meeting at New T with apprehensions like, Will I need a hardhat? and, What if I need a bathroom? Silly me. At this point, dozens of people are at work on the floors and wall. Of course there were lots of bathrooms ready for use (with tp, if not paper towels). A whole group of men bustled about with keys and plans, pointing at things. Others sat on the carpeted floor, wiring each of hundreds of outlets for the computers and copiers and whatnot. Like NP, the sunken floor outlets have clever little trap doors to protect them, so someone has to go around cutting up scraps of carpet and affixing them to the doors, so it all blends in very nicely. Study tables, computer desks, and most easy chairs have yet to arrive, so it is also clear what these next months are for: more assembly and decoration, plus hooking up and testing computer systems for nearly 200 PCs and laptops. Oh yes, and the books. New ones will be shipped in from a warehouse and the current collection has to be carried around the corner – and then it will be Grand Opening time. I’ll keep you posted, but an opening party should happen in early October.

    I returned to sweet little NP knowing we’re no longer the spoiled baby, the showplace, the place meetings of regional library directors will be held. We’ll just have to work to be the most rockin’ Branch -- as opposed to “Area” -- Library.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Grocery Shopping

    Whatever zany song was on the Muzak when I walked into Carytown Ukrop's flew out of my mind when I turned the corner towards the dairy section and saw a vision in pink, white, and pea green polk-dotted hose. Who knew Pam Reynolds did her own shopping? (If you don't know her, click here and ctrl-F her name.)

    Also at the 'krops: beautiful white and pale blue hydrangeas, as big as a toddler's head. Around the corner from me, my neighbors have some good ones that have begun to bloom. Picture two row houses, the only ones facing the sidestreet on that side, with an alley on each one's "far" wall. Each house has a bush at that end, and there's one in the middle, between the two front doors. The far left bush is a strong blue, the middle one blue and purple, and the right one very purple, an interesting exercise in what might be different in the soil from one end of the double house to the other,

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006


    Dan continued my thread on postcards, here. I, too, like old postcards for the messages. Often, a writer's two-cents-worth was about a change in travel plans or a reminder that'd he'd be coming to stay next week. This collector of Mount Holyoke postcards transcribes the messages, which convey much about the college as well as the type of messages ("arrived safe," e.g.) for which people used them. I'm sure there are a gazillion postcard websites. Two others I like are Lileks on motels and diners; and VCU's online exhibition of Richmond postcards, though the later never and the former rarely shares the message. Any others you all would like to share?

    : Alan Alda's memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
    On the Muzak at Ukrop's: Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime"
    Capital City weather: 90, humid, clearish

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    Week in Review

    Monday, I put fish in the pond.

    Wednesday, the FOUND Magazine guys came to town. Did someone give them this cool MCV find then? (Thanks for link, P.) They did a good show, if a bit of a repeat from last fall. Still, a live show rerun beats a TV one any day.

    Thursday, I stayed home sick with a tiny fever, aches, and whatnot.

    Yesterday, T and I went north to see both the Basilica and and A Prairie Home Companion. Did you hear us cheer when Old Crow Medicine Show sang "The James River Blues"?

    Today, is the Upper Mattaponi Pow-Wow and a cookout in the suburbs.

    Capial region weather: sunny, humid, 80

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    What He Said

    I, too, spent some time cleaning out the other day. The juxtaposition between, Why did I keep this?, and Oh! This! (Such good memories.) is nice. Raised by parents whose folks got rid of Mad Magazine #1 and Beatles mementos, though, I have a lower number of the first kind of memento than the second. It's hard to get myself to that "my stuff doesn't own me" moment. Thus I found a dozen or so Star Wars bubble gum cards, and I kept them.