Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

I am solo for the first 3 hours today. A la Ref Grunt, a list:

I can give a little help on the scanner. . . .

Her son's new library card wouldn't log on; got it fixed at circ.

Re-booted scanner PC 'cause it wasn't right.

Brought an extra chair to the 20-something sitting in the lounge chair several feet from his buddy and talking pretty loud: "Why don't y'all sit closer so you don't have to be so loud." (I see they put the extra chair back. Thanks, fellas!)

City directory.

Scanner-user asks a question I can't answer. I stand next to her until she says, "Oh, here it is." I walk away.

Gentleman, a little unhappy about a "claims return" incident, bristles when I try to send him over to circ, so I sort out the first third of it myself, get an answer from circ head, and then walk him back to circ to finish it up.

Yeah, your friend really does need to sign up for computer classes with her own card, on January 2. Please, take a schedule with you.

Circ staffer has stepped into the back. Man knocks on circ desk to get her attention. It didn't work. I walk over and check his books out on the self-check machine.

Place a hold for a book . . . but she's going out of town, so she wants it next Wednesday.

Gave directions to Powhatan to a man too old to be driving on his own. :-( He didn't really have an end address.

No our PCs are not full; only 4 out of 27 are in use. Take a seat at any PC that says "Welcome."

Please talk on your phone outside.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Online Sources: Xmas, etc.

Santa is ... "a transnational corporation with one mission-critical fulfillment goal: Every kid who celebrates the holiday gets a toy on Christmas eve," according to Wired. Note the men in black.

NORAD helps you track Santa.

A selection of photos of the White House Christmas tree.

Robot creche.

On Festivus: a book, a fan site, defined by our pals at Wikipedia.

A review of the screaming latke book.

Shopping: done
Wrapping: done
Baking: done, but I mibht be tempted to do more. . . .
Book club book, The Book Thief: done, but not in time for book club on Monday. I usually avoid books that might be described as, "set in Nazi Germany" or "narrated by Death" -- but I loved it. Death has a world-weary, warm, witty voice, and the events and characters are memorable.
Also reading: Lemony Snicket's The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, a picture book about the true meaning of celebrating the holiday you celebrate.
Xmas songs stuck in my head: "Richmond Rock Star Christmas" and Country Sunshine's "Are You Ready for Christmas?" available here.
Capital City weather: 40, gray with brown trees -- just like Christmas-time should be

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


At Wired: blogging tips from the man who, 10 years ago, coined "weblog." He remains loyal to the notion that a blog is a list of links, something "we" use for instead, these days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Note from Suburbia

Five weeks ago, I worked at a location on the other side of Staples Mill Rd. from My Lib. I passed a particular intersection with only three "live" businesses. I don't recall that the fourth lot, which had featured a closed gas station, showed any signs of change.

Today, as I slowed for the red light at Staples Mill, I said "holy cats, where did that Panera come from?!" Okay, it hasn't opened, but the exterior and signs are ready for the first day of business. It's as if it sprung fully-formed from the head of suburbia. It represents quite a spiffy gentrification, chain-ification, of a crossroads I used to think of as a not-so-spiffy neighborhood, and the last vestige of suburbia before Staples Mill takes you into the country.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cubicle Makeovers! Cookery!

Hints for cube makeovers in this cool-looking book. I like my library cubicle since I am by a window and since the walls are . . . . hunh. Not the usual beige or gray -- I think in the blue-green family. My GS office cubicle was quite terrible (except for cool cube-mates).

I am such a library nerd that I named my MSWord folder for recipes "cookery." Yet, when I go looking for tasty dishes I've typed up, I can never find it. Anyway. Here's a nice online exhibit of cookbooks, 1541 - 1931 (Kansas State U.).

Capital City weather: rainy, windy, 30s

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Local University Library Way Ahead of Ivy League

Columbia has begun serious collecting of graphic novels; VCU's comic arts collection goes back years. Oh, you kow what, though? I bet Columbia's collection circulates.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Burton Alice in our future. So . . . Johnny Depp as the Cheshire Cat?? No, Mad Hatter, clearly.

The timing is interesting, given that Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series is bound to come to the screen in the next several years.

Shout Out to Marky Mark for going through the door counter at My Branch a couple of extra times yesterday. . . .
Capital City Weather: So, I went to the Old West-End Mall yesterday, parked on the top layer of the two-level deck, got what I needed and got out a little after 11. After baking in the sun for just over an hour, the car was a little oven. I almost put on the A/C, but made do with the windows open, listening to "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" on the radio. The Teen says the official high temp, reported at the airport, was 80 degrees. Happy Global Warming Christmas!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Fruit Spritz Cookies

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes
Makes about 10 dozen cookies

4 ½ cups sifted regular flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1 ½ cups butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

Sift flour, baking powder and salt.

In another (large) bowl, cream butter with sugar until fluffy light; beat in egg and juice concentrate.

Stir in flour mixture, a quarter at a time, blending to make a stiff dough [my stand mixer isn’t big enough to cope with this much dough; I blend the last quarter or so by hand].

Use cookie press to make cookies; space about an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with colored sugar, nonpareils, etc. Bake at 375 until firm but not brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire racks to cool.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Baking Day

My Mom's fruit spritz cookie recipe totally rocks. I always gear up for doing spritz with drama and resignation, based, I think, on a year using a different recipe. Or maybe it was that terrible plastic cookie press I had for a while. Oh, and since I wrote "finish blending flour by hand" on the page, I haven't burned up a hand mixer or gotten dough all the way up the beaters and onto the kitchen wall . . . . Hmm. Maybe I actually have years' of experience!?!

Anyway, the first set of trees looks perfect, and the one that broke coming off the sheet tasted great -- a dense buttery cookie, with a hint of orange. Mmmm.

Capital City weather: light snow (no accumulation) all of yesterday morning; clear and upper 30s today.
On the Muzak at Ukrop's: Christmas carols, which my bagger sang to
At the Byrd: "Bourne Identity," I think it was.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What I Didn't Say

. . . . when, upon entering My Branch, Area Lib F patron said “We obviously spend too much money on libraries”: - “If you want to see not-enough-spent, go live in the City.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No, We Don't Do That

This librarian won her bout of "no, we don't do that"; sadly, I caved and just did it rather than protract the conversation. My patron wanted to know "is there space on the gossipcrew"? The what? "Gosselcru." I told her wasn't sure what that was, and that we don't do research for patrons, but I would help her sign onto a computer -- and she needed to wait until I helped the patron with an a: drive problem.

Digression: Yes, our PCs still have floppy disk drives. I told her that most don't work any more "because they are outdated." "Well what am I supposed to use?!" Um, have you heard of CDs? No better yet, go buy a $10 flash drive and join this century. So, after I let her know that most don't work, and after I walked by her to pick up some of the mess in Children's and casually asked her "is that working okay?" she still had a freak out because she had typed an online application and couldn't use a: to attach her resume! It's broken! I went ahead and took her disk, copied the file onto my flash drive and we attached it to her application from there.

I took my time to make sure that it worked, and turned back to the mumbler. "Gospel cruise" turned out to be what she wanted to to find. She can't use a computer -- "just do it for me. I just need a printout." I googled it. Ma'm, there are over 1 million and a half matches for that: I can't do your research for you. "No, no! Just print it!" I put her off again and checked on a teen - twenty-something who I knew didn't need help; I tried to will the phone to ring. No luck; I had to go back to Mumbler. I started to read the top websites: One Love, Gosepel Fest Cruise, Black Cruise Week. . . . She wanted the first one, and she wanted the ports and room rates. "So I hafta call them to book it? Do I need a credit card?" I don't know, read it yourself I said thrusting the papers at her. I am not doing it for you. "I am not a travel agent," I actually snapped. I gave her her prints and took exact change from her; I did not take the "Thank you, baby" she left behind her.

I kept stewing over the incident, and only felt worse when it occurred to me that someone who can't work a PC, who may not have a credit card, and who wears holey sweats and some kind of shoestring hairband may actually not be in any position to pay the $900 - 2000 that remaining rooms are running.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I withheld some helpfulness tonight. Whenever I can, I give step-by-step directions and let the patron do all the clicking. Tonight we had lady doing her kid's project on Egypt while the child jumped up and down and talked to the computer game she was playing. Momma wanted to know how to print out hunks of info from the internet so she could print it as the child's project.

"Well, if you just print all that, that's plagiarism; that's stealing. Probably, the teacher wants your daughter to write the picture captions in her own words."

I walked away. The daughter kept summoning me back: "She want you." I showed her how to cut and paste into a Word document, but I just couldn't do all the extra stuff I might do, like generating suggestions of ways to tackle the problem, since: A) I don't like grown-ups doing homework for their kids and 2) I don't like to support plagiarism.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Back Yard Birds

Last Sunday, we pulled up the fish pond, rearranged some plants, put in some new bulbs, and put up the bird feeders. Juncos and squirrels found it right away, followed by the mourning doves and house sparrows. This morning, we also had goldfinches!

Read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie. It's a humorous book about a kid's tough life. With pictures!
Watched: Paprika.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This morning, a pack of 8 year-old boys and their grown up joined me in line at the Krispy Kreme. "Dad!" exclaimed one, "can we get a Krispy Kreme snow globe ornament for just one-twenty-nine?!" He pointed to the sign on top of the glass case. The dad said no. The boys began to crowd the case: "I want the football!" "You know I have a snow globe, collection, right?" "Can we get two?"

"Now guys," if you get all hyper, you're not getting doughnuts."

Which do you find harder to believe: a kid who sounds like he's in a commercial, asking for the goody by full name and price, or a dad who thinks that the sleep-over group (soccer team?) won't be hyper in front of a case of glazed, fried sweets?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nov. 16, 1904: Vacuum Tube Heralds Birth of Modern Electronics: "British engineer John Ambrose Fleming invents and patents the thermionic valve, the first vacuum tube. With this advance, the age of modern wireless electronics is born."

A physics professor I knew introduced me to the notion that the vacuum tube was the most important invention of the 20th century. I couldn't quite connect the weird looking light bulbs to personal computer as we knew them in the 1990s, but I trusted him. He didn't live to know the interweb, but he would have dug it. I would have bought him a subscription to large-type issues of Wired (were there such an animal), because he would have loved it, too. I often think of him at Thanksgiving, when the camellias bloom.
A few wedding pictures here, for those who like that sort of thing. (For those who really like that sort of thing, e-mail me and I'll send you a Snapfish invite-link.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Revel in the liberal arts," and other advice to current students from Mount Holyoke alumnae.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I guess saving the result is one way to make this card generator fun.
At the Byrd

Its bones are still good, but its complexion is a bit blemished. We went to see The Simpsons Movie again last night. Teen had last been to the movie palace half a lifetime ago (i.e., when she was seven) and found it swell. I looked at the Byrd with a more critical eye and noted, in the Ladies' lounge, the puckery paint blisters that suggest damp plaster. Phil wondered if the ceiling in the theater wasn't a bit moldy. The Byrd Theatre Foundation has been trying to raise money for ages, and I guess the Dolby Sound System is a proud result of that, but there's so much still to do.

Much as we enjoyed seeing how fine the renovated Henrico Theater looks,

the contrast of what County money can buy compared to how little I expect City and private money to do for the Pump House and the Byrd depresses me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Media Scanning

Both a New Yorker article (the one on my nightstand: real citation needed) and Tom and Ray Magliozzi assert that American automakers are full of it when they assert that they can't make cars with good gas milage. The Car Talk guys even wrote to congress.
History of Technology

Early computers and PCs, here. This seems like the AppleIIe (I think it was) on which I learned to write tiny little programs in BASIC, back in high schools in the 80s.

I'm sure we didn't believe the teacher, who surely told us that one day we would all use computers, every day. But then again, I certainly didn't believe I would need to know how to solve problems like what % of increase is a $25 a week raise for a camper counselor. . . .

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Two Links

Map the Candidates, by Slate.

Not-as-cool-as-it-could-be: library card generator. I tried only one title, so I may have missed something. You have to pick what to put in each field. It gives you an image of type on a lined card, not a cream-colored catalog card.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

About Town

On the way to a work function in the East End, we took 20 minutes to pop into the newly-restored Henrico Theater. It's a very sympathetic transformation of the 1938 deco movie house into a 21st century live-production stage. Click here for one article and a good slide show.

Tomorrow afternoon, Capital City Parks and Rec will hold an open house at the Pump House. Awesome.

The theme for tonight's Halloween Party is "Club Havana." The invitation featured this picture, we're dressing more as the middle-America tourist couple. . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Good interview of Ursula LeGuin (Guardian online).

Elements of Style, Wendy Wasserstein.

True Richmond Stories: Historic Tales from Virginia's Capital, by Harry Kollatz, Jr. (We saw him read from at a week ago at the big box bookstore. He's an amusing fellow.)

Friday, October 19, 2007


Because I am still waiting for a City inspector (and wondering if I used the automated system correctly to request an inspection date), I am wandering the internets finding interesting things to share. Such as:

- One librarian reflects on search engines and patrons and makes excellent point that "... the goal of the search tool is to show ads..."

- Here's the website of an artist whose work is at Davis & Main, now. I like photorealism. As I explained to Teen, "I think that's what that style is called, but some artists take the word as an insult," the bartender quietly slipped us the artist's business card. Mr. Pritchett embraces the term.
I recently saw typical Fan Eatery Davis & Main blurbed somewhere as a respectable local spot for -- what phrase was it? For grown ups. Settled people. It's not a bar, as the old joke with some camp friends goes. It's not a place for 20-somethings to Meet and impress each other -- though of course the massive c.1900 bar (genuine? repro? I don't know) makes its presence felt. Being a non-bar makes it feel appropriate to bring the Teen; but I am not saying it's a Family Restaurant, because, you know, there's no Kids' Menu.
P.S., re.: Chairs

I forgot until I read VL (writing about possibly misdirected cake) one bump in the trail of the work week: Office Furniture Box Store called to say the four nice chairs I accepted for delivery about a month ago were not meant for us!! Eeek! I think the boss made some slick deal like we'd give them up without a fight if they would give us something good in return. (How does she do that? I would have been [I am] all kinds of guilty and apologetic. I couldn't have thought so fast.)
Back at Work

While I hit the ground running on Monday ("none of us did a schedule this week, after all: why don't you go ahead and do it"), it's been a good week for slipping back into a routine. The first patron I helped needed to use our online system to reserve a meeting room; he was all kinds of extra-grateful to me for helping him navigate it. Sometime I forget we have so many very nice folks at our place.

Monday night I lead book club. Everyone liked The Hungry Tide and the discussion sorta led itself. Tuesday night -- often a busy one for meeting rooms and homework and tutors -- was very peaceful, which was lucky since the other librarian on duty ran a program all night. It's no fun to fly solo when we're busy, as, sadly, she was reminded the very next night. Wednesday I had a committee meeting, and you could tell how relaxed the honeymoon made me because I actually said "I'm ambivalent about this [proposed addition to the online catalog]." I always have an opinion! Yesterday I did several projects at once, but most were fun like shifting books (okay, that's actually pretty physical, but like cleaning, very satisfying) and changing the way our graphic novels appear in the catalog.

Today, I am waiting for someone from the City to inspect the recently-installed water heater. Normal Friday-off chores like cleaning and bill-paying have been joined by thank-you note writing, so it's easy to stick around to wait for the inspector. I don't mind any of those chores, but the 90-something percent humidity, 70-degree temps, and and gray skies make me sluggish. We'll see how much really gets done. . . .

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New York, Two Things About:

I am reading Rudolph Delson's Maynard & Jennica, a splendid novel, set in New York, about nothing.

The picture for October in our historic NYC calendar is Grand Opening, Radio City Music Hall, 1932. Ah, yes, October: a fine month for grand beginnings.

Capital City weather: 79, clear
At the Byrd: Spiderman 3 and something else.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things My Mom is Right About (abbreviated list)

You should ask if they have your size in the back.

Break in your new high heels.

Do you have at least one other thing that goes with?

People I Know

My dreams of making Style's Top 40 Under 40 were dashed in '06 when I, ah -- turned 40 never having received the call. As a grown up, I shouldn't hold that disappointment against the fine folks I know who made the list this year, so: Way to go, y'all!! Bravo to Christina! She and our mutual friend and I have done things together a few times, including going to the grand opening of the Forest Hill Target a while back. Elaine just rocks! I guess she technically married into my crowd, but, whatever. And congrats to John, who I've met a couple of times -- he's a more distant friend-of-friend.

Speaking of Target, while getting the Teen an appropriate outfit for a fancy field trip to D.C., I ran into Jeanne B., who I run into in Carytown or at Target about every year or year-and-a-half. Which was cool, because Richmond Magazine (article available online only to subscribers) did a nice profile of her earlier this summer, and I hadn't made time to e-mail her congrats.

And then there was this morning, when I was going to be about 5 minutes early for my doctor's appointment, only -- what's this? They aren't on the directory anymore?? So I come home, call, find they moved about 6 blocks away from the old place. I arrived 5 minutes late, and even more stressed and annoyed than the doctor's usually makes me. I had tunnel vision when I burst into the large house-turned-office and grabbed the sign-in clipboard. I sized up what the questions were by looking at the name and time and whatnot above the first blank line: Hey! I know someone with that unusual last name! And look! There she is across the room, smiling and waving.

I'm no Top 40, but I do know some cool people, and I am pleased to run into them at local events of various levels of glamor.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Mountain Day!

This week, Capital City weather's a little far into the 80s and 90s for Mountain Day. Hopefully, it'll be more seasonable for moutain week (aka honeymoon) in October.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I set a work goal to read more across YA genres. If I decide to be an easy grader, I met it already! I keep my list on LibraryThing. If I get tough on myself, I'll read one more religious-spiritual. And though the reading plan I used didn't have a category for the Gossip Girls end of "romance," I probably need to read one of those, too. And maybe some Holly Black or Stephenie Meyer.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Anniversaries and Observations

It seems that September 19 is not only Talk Like a Pirate Day (see also); in addition, it's the birthday of :-) .

Capital City weather: 80s all this coming week

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sports Page

Though they lost Thursday night, when we went, the RBraves took their division's wild card offer and became Governor's Cup champs! The Braves and Bulls both played well, with some excellent defensive pitching -- until our starting pitcher, throwing a perfect game, was pulled for a weak relief pitcher. Apparently, we get to blame the big Braves and a pitch-count rule they impose on their AAA team.

I remember dinging the 1994 race being surrounded by fair-weather fans who barely knew how the game is played. It really annoyed me. This year, our seats were on the upper section, but at the rail and aisle, so that cut that sort of thing way down. Some loud girl behind us did tell long stories that made her giggle at herself about how anyone who has ever been her roommate has been "engaged in, like, six months." But after a while, she and her gals moved back a few rows.

Meanwhile, a season ticket-holding source reports this from the box seats:
"We haven't been here all year" (why the **** not?)
"Do they play nine innings?" (No. It's like little league, they only play six)
"They really missed the boat, not building the new stadium in Shokoe Slip. It wouldn't have cost the city hardly anything." ( Grrr)

Now the RBraves take on a team from Sacramento for an IL champion title.

Entertainment Page

Having wrapped up our observation of Summer of Shell, we found September wanting for a theme. We've gone with the less catchy "Hitchcock Movies the Teen Really Should See."
-North by Northwest was a little less plodding than I remembered.
-I adore Rear Window, and the jaded NextGen kid definitely got into it by the end, shouting at Grace Kelly to "get out, get out!" when she's in the murderer's apartment. But can we talk about Miss Kelly's clothes? Wow.
-This past Sunday, we watched The Birds. Eeeee. That's about as tension-filled a movie as I can take! I am not a fan of scary movies. Some of the bird screeches are really terrible, not at all convincing -- but that fluttering, especially at the end, is right on! Eeeew! Don't open that door!! The Teen liked this one, too, I think, but as a big watcher of Animal Planet and the like she wanted to know why the birds were acting like that, "what's wrong with them?"

Sunday, September 16, 2007


A Library Science quiz game, here, looks like library school project from almost 10 years ago! It's not fancy, but it is fun.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Like Having Three Ref Staffers on Friday!

Because I can do silly things like this: says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd Queen. What are you? Click here!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Friends Teach You New Tricks
(I Hope)

Okay, thanks to peer pressure from Vampire Librarian, I am joining LibraryLinks. I think I figured out how to get Flickr to host the LibraryLinks logo and how to write the html for that. The list of participants (which was just cut-n-paste) looks kind of weird on Firefox. I'll have to open Explorer and see if it's better that way.

By the way, the VL has two interesting links to stapler sites. I thought our patrons take their right to staple seriously: others have whole wikis devoted to the subject. For the record, at my branch we let them staple, have a paper clip or two in moderation, borrow the scissors, borrow pens, and take some tape. I get a little begrudging about highlighters and white-out. Sometimes pens don't come back, but then again, so many are left behind, we're Even Steven.

Random Question: If "metadata" is data about data, what's a blog about blogging?

Capital City weather: hot, humid, drought-like. Have I made the joke about September being the fourth month of summer, lately?
On the Muzak at Ukrop's: "Voices Carry"
At the Byrd: Johnny Depp as Pirate, III

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Online Education Database ranks library blogs, here. I read, like, two of those.

For now, I'm not so into people Musing About the Profession, networking, and positioning themselves. I like funny ones. I like ones that make me say, Yeah, that happens to us, too: glad we're not alone! And, in a way, I do learn stuff from those, in that the stories of others often model ways (good and not so) to handle crazy (yet typical) library situations.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ups n Downs

Enjoyed catching up with the G-Gs, of Boston, and other Val pals a week ago.

Brought down by this website that gathers prices of for-sale houses. Can we afford a slightly bigger house in our approximate neighborhood? Not right now.

Brought way up by canoing and birding at York River State Park yesterday!

The forecast called for clear and low 80s, so I said, Let's go hiking. Phiance said, No way: kayaking! So we compromised on canoing. (I can't get over the Girl Scout-y hang up that I should learn how to do something before I just hand over some money and say, Sure, we'll take a kayak for four hours.)

We canoed out to the York River, then back up into the windy, tidal, fiddler-crab laden creek on the property, and had a floating lunch. From the canoe we saw only a few birds, so after returning it, we followed a short trail in the woods and spotted a nuthatch, redstarts, and a pileated, among others. We had such a good time, we finally got these passports to help us keep track of where we've been -- and earn some cool trinkets.

Counting down to the wedding.

Looking up movie times to go see Stardust.

Friday, August 31, 2007

From PC Magazine (thanks to a co-worker) fun and useful websites -- a top 100 list.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I finished Cabin Pressure the other day. In many places I found it infuriating: men who are supposed to role models to boys use "girls" as the ultimate put down; counselors don't seem to curtail swearing around boys and don't seem to curtail boys' use of "fag" and the like as put downs; counselors drink on property; and the favorite camp roadtrip involves driving campers around New England looking for bridges to jump off -- and calling the kids who won't do it names. I'll echo his former camp counselor-then-fiancee told him during one phone call, "'I'm not sure I like the way boys relate to each other.'"

Yet what Wolk loves about his camp, and what campers love and get out of it, shines through in so many moments of warm familiarity. For instance:
Non-denominational services in a grove on Sundays "were built around themes that all came back to what was important about camp. . . . When I was a camper and counselor, I heard the same life lessons week after week, year after year. But they always moved me, because I felt the same things.
Or his description of that feeling of pride, self-sufficiency, and calmness you get when you walk back to your campsite without a flashlight:

. . . slowly inched down the hill, lifting my legs comically high with each step to avoid my feet catching on phantom tree roots. I flinched wildly when my head grazed a low branch. . . . and if I looked straight up, I could stay on the path by using the sky in the break between the tops of the trees on either side of me as my guide. My springy steps lowered, as the latent instinctual memory of the obstacles on this route came back to me.

With my last several summers at CK being ones of decreasing numbers of nights living there, I made those same high steps and flailed wildly at innocent branches that snuck up on me. But as the skill came back, I'd feel so good, so safe and clever.

Over all, I enjoyed this book. I reached August with him, just as my internal clock (and the shorter days, and the yellowing tulip poplars, and the singing crickets) is saying it's time to put the trunk in the car and drive home. I don't know to whom I would recommend Cabin Pressure. Wolk mentions at some point that there are camp people and non-camp people. I'm not sure that there would be any point to suggesting it to non-camp people: why would they care? Would this give the impression of Camps I'd want? (No: too much crudeness and unsafe behavior. I wouldn't send a child to that camp) As for handing it to camp people, I bet they'd have some of the same reactions I did: MY camp is better for X,Y, and Z -- but, oh, his descriptions of A, B, and C are so spot on that it makes me feel at home/camp.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh! I did kinda think "life-hacking" had to do with making my techno-life better. It's just Household Hints.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Poise & Grace

We've been interviewing some job candidates and it had given me a certain serene confidence. Yeah, I've been doing this for over two years now, I do all this stuff every day without breaking a sweat.

It took only one rappin' cell phone ring to upset that serenity.

Me: I'm so sorry -- we ask that you use your phone outside. And also, I need to ask you to put that chair away: that's a stand-up-use computer [as per the bright purple sign].

Her: I am feeding my baby!

Me: I'm sorry we can't block the aisle.

Her: I thought County employees were supposed to be nice!

Me: I'm sorry. I noted the preteen who seemed to be with Her and disappeared for 30 seconds then returned to say: We've got two PCs in the lab you can sit down at.

Her (to middle school kid with her): I know, I am shutting down my computer.

Middle schooler: But the lady is talking to you.

Her: . . .

I walked away. After all, a phone was ringing over in Children's, and I was feeling all hot-n-bothered.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Random Fun, taken from LisaB.

Your Score: Pure Nerd

86 % Nerd, 39% Geek, 47% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality


Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Read: William Gibson's Pattern Recognition: loved it. Cool-hunting, conspiracy, globe-trotting suspense, internet intrigue.

Reading: Cabin Pressure, by Josh Wolk. I almost turned it back in: if I am feeling a little Camp sick, why would I read about a fellow's last fling, at thirty-three, as a camp counselor? Because, it turns out, as ever, it's nice to "know" someone who gets what you're talking about if you say you missing living outside all summer. His camp is the kind that boys go to for a full eight weeks! I didn't know those still existed: Girl Scout families began complaining years ago that a full two week session was too long, Didn't we have a three night program for twelve year olds? Cut the apron strings, lady, I did not shout.

Capital City weather: Cloudy, now. Storm again last night, will the lib have power? I work Day schedule today, so will see, shortly.

Friday, August 17, 2007

News Round Up

I keep meaning to mention that on Cary and Franklin Streets through VCU they've painted the school's mascot on the road. Very odd for a school where students never used to own anything with the school name or logo on it. Their new building, east of Belvedere, promises to be a handsome Richardsonian Romanesque Revival Revival structure.

At the Diamond: Library Night (last night) got all the way into the top of the second inning before it was called for rain. High wind, heavy rain, thunder and lightening lasted for a good five hours; no quick summer thundershower. At least the kids got introduced and to run onto the field with the players. That's always nice to see, as were the myriad of jovial coworkers. Oh, and, a band from Fort Lee did a quite good, brassy, national anthem.

At my lib, as a result of said storm: no power today. The lib crew did a mad amount of shelf reading in Children's. I pulled lease books and messed with gift books. I cleaned display shelves and whatnot until Children's librarian threatened to take the dust rag away. By 11:00, we had to eat some leftover ice cream. We called it a day at 1:30.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Things That Make You Go, Huh.

The barefoot "good ol' boy" type circled the library, landed at the ref desk and politely asked, "Where's your fax?"

Monday, August 13, 2007


A friend loaned me an advanced reading copy of Frank Beddor's Seeing Redd. Like The Looking Glass Wars, it's action-packed and imaginative -- without completely capturing my imagination. The tons of battle scenes don't interest me much. To the extent that the gender-stereotypical balance to battle scenes is relationship stuff (friendships or romances), I didn't find Beddor's attempts at those satisfying. Hatter's apparent love life is thinly drawn. I don't believe Alyss would jeopardize her queendom with ill-advised moves to "protect" Dodge.

My tepid reaction means little to the handful of fantasy readers. Seeing Redd is one to recommend to readers of complex fantasy series, especially ones with a taste for war.

Capital City weather: last week's unspeakable heat and humidity finally broke, bringing us lovely, hot, clear days

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I tell myself to be open-minded. People who want to use their cell phones in a public library are no more rude than the ones who let toddlers run wild, or those who leave trash and "Jobs Weekly" wadded up by the PC they used. Since I never took to mobile phones, they do seem to irritate me more. I just don't get it. Finally, Wired magazine suggests it's okay to be a cell phone outsider, in this article on reasons to ditch the gadget.

Monday, August 06, 2007

NNK Birding

I had notions of showing Phiance how a Camping Professional deals with the hot weather.

We had to get ourselves to K&Q County to meet the folks for a birding trip. I imagined it would be like so many mornings I used to get myself to CK or PRGSC early: we could ride with the windows down in the cool of the morning and get acclimatized so that we would warm up gradually to the highs in the mid 90s. We'd never think it was that hot: not like when you get out of the car that never quiet cooled down into a box store parking lot at 2:00 p.m. That's hot.

It seemed stuffy in the house at 6:05 a.m. I threw the door open to take stuff to the car. Oh, it's stuffy outside, too. Not quite wet-wool-blanket, but certainly close. As we merged onto the highway, air conditioning full blast, I muttered, Nice haze, Richmond. We'd been driving for about 20 minutes when we realized we needed to reevaluate that call. Maybe it's fog? Can it be foggy when it's about 75 degrees??

Through the dense humidity or light fog, we got ourselves to the rendezvous at 7ish. Our tour guides then took us to two of the several properties now a part of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Part of the work of this project involves acquiring large parcels of land by the river with the plan of keeping them natural. They seem committed to turning former agricultural fields into meadows -- which seems less natural than forest. Without people, it all goes to forest, right? Though I guess I have read that lightening-started fires lead to meadows that last a few years.

We visited two tracts of land. At the first, we saw old friends like barn swallows and goldfinches, and heard a bobwhite. At the second tract, where fields give way to some woods and there's large pond surrounded by a number of choke cherry (I think), we saw a healthy variety. I'll say right off the bat that I am not checking off one of the two life list species for me: the folks pointed out more than one Dickcissel, and I put my binoculars (and even Mom's awesome binocs) on it, but all I saw was some little brown bird. I could not see the bits of black and yellow that are its key field marks. I did see "intricately patterned" back of the grasshopper sparrow, so that's an official new one!

I've opened an e-mail debate with the tour guides on whether a mottled brown and black bird was a molting juvenile blue grosbeak or a molting juvenile cowbird, so the list generated by the fours of us will be either 44 or 45 birds long! (The Sibley's field guides, which we all use now, are big on helping you with various stages of plumage) I'll spare you the whole list; some favorites:

green heron
summer tanager
orchard oriole
Baltimore oriole
blue grosbeak (adult male; no mistaking him)
indigo bunting
ruby-throated humming bird

As we drove by homes and farms from one site to another, we came to a wide "creek" with a boat shed, signs of crabpots -- and seven osprey. They and bald eagles (we saw three all day long, I think, including two in a field by what looked like the home's well cap) sure have made a comeback!

Capital City weather: more hot and muggy, but I am off to the lib where it is always chilly
Watched: The Simpsons Movie and quite liked it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday at the Info Desk

1. A useful interaction?:

Cranky Patron, walking up to printer across from Info Desk: Is this where the computers over there (waves behind me, to PCs by non fiction section) print to?

Me: Um, no, they print to the printer over there (waving behind me, to PCs by non fiction section).


Scrap of paper with this in, as they say, a childish hand.

3. Children's Librarian could not convince a loud-talker that all the computer classes that we're offering are in the programs newspaper. She just knew there were top secret classes meeting at a place and time more convenient for her than the ones in print.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Me, as generated by the Simpsonizer.
I Still Miss WorldCup

When I bought this house, I told the agent my goal was to be within about 6 blocks of the art museum, WorldCup, and/or the Byrd Theatre. And I am. That, plus the rapid boutique-ification of Carytown, makes ours "officially" a walkable neighborhood, according to these folks. (Actually, it's the B+ score, "very walkable," not the top "walker's paradise.")

They have various sound disclaimers and reminders, including the fact that businesses may have closed or opened. Rostov's still appears in my list as the nearest coffee shop, though they moved nearly a mile away. I never visited "Wired," which filled WorldCup's Robinson St. shop, and it closed once that Starbucks opened in the old Fan Market.

Way more markets appear on the list than I'd have considered -- they're mostly corner markets in what I consider other neighborhoods. Except for Tokyo Market, none seem to be the fancy grocery - gourmet-to-go places that have popped up (then popped out) over the past 10 years or so.

Oh, and libraries are one one of the key amenities the program considers. Yay!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


1. We have this patron who's kinda like Dwight, on The Office, and he's wandering around extra randomly today.

B. I still need to find a picture that will take.

III. I'd also like to make myself a trading card.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I know: finally.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Phiance took me to Natural Bridge this weekend!


Don't let my frequent frantic puttering around fool you: I am a lazybones at heart. Laggard. Bum. Sure, yesterday morning I did drain the fish pond and shop vac scum off the bottom in preparation for, maybe, some actual fish. Then as I chopped some green beans for a salad, the knife jumped out of my hands. I jumped back fast, but not quite fast enough. My knee took a cut that's not quite bad enough for a stitch, but is good and ow-y and bending my knee makes that worse. I prescribed lots of lallygagging, and even put off calling Dad until it was late enough for him to have left the house.

Instead of reading Silence of the Songbirds (I really shouldn't use the over-ride code to renew it again...) or even HP like all the other kids, I plowed through Dishwasher: On Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States. Probably, I wouldn't like Dishwasher Pete. He's a slacker and a job-quitter, yet I still wanted to find out what gig he'd land next, what crazy predicament he'd get into. He makes it through an entire summer at a resident camp, which did win points with me, but then promises to help with clean up and ditches the director after all. He is, though, a slacker with some standards: some infestations and heaps of rotting food are even more than any kitchen should tolerate and he makes stabs at improving the scene.

He includes brief essays on restaurant labor history and notes famous folks who had dish washing gigs. My few rounds with commercial dishwashers don't allow me that claim, I suppose: a few rounds in the dishroom in college (MacGregor, I'm thinking; or maybe 1837?) and turns at the helm of the one at CK.

I also read about one of our patrons, here. Generally not a chatty fellow, recently he had shown me a picture or two from his "cross-country trip using bio-fuel." That'll teach me to be skeptical of claims patrons make!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I found the star from my teen treasure hunt the other day, while I was weeding. It was on a bottom shelf (they're not full sized; except for an occasional oversized book, laying flat, they are empty).

This morning, I hung it out of reach, from the ceiling. The view from our ladder was awesome!


The local paper mistakenly asserted that we will take holds for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We posted our rule, of course, but Children's Librarian and I feel glad to be working Friday, not Saturday, this week.

Go to Tales from the Liberry for some library-geek HP sharing.

At our branch, the "Website of the Week" is, and Scholastic's site is good, too. I think Children's Librarian likes the author's official site best.

An illustrated example of how it's a classic good-vs-evil tale on Bibliodiva's blog, here.

Capital City weather: a quick, but heavy thunderstorm passed over the Northside, flciking our power -- and outing the PCs for maybe 15 minutes. That's all it takes to clear the place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Random Tech

Wired has some nice graphics to show us that the intertubes have not made us smarter. One of those "can you name the vice president and your governor" type quizzes resulted in fewer people who could.

Wow, via tech-ad-nauseum LibraryStuff, this commentary and reminder that not everyone plays at the same level.

Of course, those of us who spend the day teaching adults how to click a mouse knew that. It is, in fact, hard to know what solution to offer a patron. I often think of the patron I showed how to set up a blog -- that I am pretty sure he never ended up using. It wasn't the right thing for his project.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Proud of Our Patrons

Our (cool) IT guy says he's never seen a golf pencil shoved into a disk drive before. He took it out for us.

On Wednesday morning, the group home boys followed library rules and did not disturb others; the church youth group ran wild. I let an adult with the group home know.

Capital City weather: low humidity, around 90: gorgeous.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cool Stuff

Dr. Doug's Big Fat Baseball Adventure. A Trip to the All Star game. The name says it all.
Monday At the Ref Desk

- The small triumph of looking to see if we had a Complete Works, or some such, for Oscar Wilde, so that the summer reading list-wielding teen didn't have to wait for The Importance of Being Earnest to come from an area library. We certainly did. With perhaps 100 items in the table of contents, I can see why every title wasn't added to the catalog record.

- Whattaya mean I have to do the Events Submission Proofing Checklist because the boss is on vacation? I am a good paper pusher and the thing makes no sense.

- Got a thought-provoking e-mail to our LibManager address. Why do hard questions come when the boss is gone?

- An ongoing struggle to describe the part of the county in which new library lies.

- Sign you up for a computer class? Sure. I'll log into the program while you find your library card.

- Two calls: the meeting room reservation system did not send me a confirmation e-mail like it always does. Did you deny my reservation? Um, no. I'm putting in a work order, now, to figure that out.

- By noon, I had set up the teen treasure hunt and tested it with Sweet Homeshooler. By 4:00, two or three other kids had played! By 4:30, someone had taken down the large paper gold star and its clue. Fathead. Can I go home, now?

Reading: The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

Monday, July 09, 2007

New Friends Teach You New Tricks

Flickr (it's library stuff; drop me a comment if you want me to add you as a friend).


Friday, July 06, 2007

Library History Geek Fun

A look back in time from ALA. (Safe for work, but song-that-could-get-stuck-in-your-head warning!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Annoyed by: broken PCs. Non-stop-chatters in library.
Embarrassed by: typo in an e-mail sent to lib. patrons.
Glad to be reading: Yiddish Policmen's Union, Michael Chabon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nature on NPR


At Work

Here's a document I edited on the new scanner.

Testing New Scanner, Again
One of our many In Car photos, this one from Sept. 2005, it seems. I chose "scan to file" and then saved to my flash drive.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Class, part 2

A ton of training has been thrown our way lately. Some have featured weak trainers who have not considered (or asked) our needs or what we know about their database/product already.

Yesterday's mad dash through Encyclopaedia Britannica onlione was not one of those. The conference call + webinar was for public librarians only, so the instructor already knew roughly how to tailor her agenda. We had two or three chances to interact as a group, such as when we submitted common reference questions -- which the instructor used as a point of reference as she showed cool feature like timeline, the atlas, "Compare Countries" and "Gateway to the Classics." She had us explore these resources, plus the "workspace" feature, just long enough to remember them (I hope) for when the right patron comes along.

Now, if you clicked on that EB link, you won't get any of those features, because that's what subscribers pay for. That's what your public library card gets you. But as a card holder, I can share stuff with others, like posting the link, below, and e-mailing articles. So that's cool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Hate Mr. Coffee

I was going to blog about painting -- shades of white; big box store stinks; the paint specialty store gets A+ on the color match. . . . Consider it done.

The other thing on my mind has been the wretched, spattery coffeemaker we recently purchased. I wanted to let it go, to avoid trying to compete with the eloquent rants of others on consumerism and its ails. I would have let it go, but here's Wired listing it as a sample of a Good Thing -- grrr! I hate Mr. Coffee!! How can they list it?? I want my Black & Decker one back!

The Black & Decker one stopped working, suddenly. Perhaps its demise was related to all the concrete and plaster dust in the kitchen this spring; I did not do an autopsy. We found coffee in the outside world that morning, and went to a box store that night to look for new ones. We were in a rush -- lots going on that weekend. We didn't want to drive all around town, or spend a lot of money -- and we'd registered for a nice-ish one, after all. The box store had thin pickins in the under-$40 category, and all were way uglier than my old one. Drip coffee maker design now involves displeasing, counter-hogging oblongs. We chose a cheap Mr. Coffee and headed home.

The first morning, I couldn't remember if we had in fact selected a model that pauses the drip so we can grab a fast cup. I whipped the pot out and poured a cup -- and still wasn't sure! It dripped much more than other ones that do pause the stream of caffeine, but not as much as the no-name brand I used to own that did not have that feature. As days went by, I learned that it pours sloppily when full. It retains water all day, so that if I wash and dry the pot and stick it in place, then open the lid to see if the morning's grounds are in there, two tablespoons of cold coffee water slosh into the clean pot.

I don't even know at what point it sprays a light film of coffee-colored dots all over the counter and sugar bowl.

Sure, Wired, drip coffee makers in general are Great Gadgets, but mention not Mr. C. to me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nice Things

Bev's Ice Cream.

Sunday hikes.

At the Lib., the boy who was really psyched about the almanac's entry on the Chinese zodiac I found him-- then thrilled by the kids' book on the subject I brought him after I helped someone else.

At the Lib., the couple who was pleased to find just the landscaping book they had photographed on their cell phone (this, She explained, was what they did instead of making a note to themselves).

At the Lib., the fact that no on has complained yet about about the sketchy prizes for the Summer Reading Club for children.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Go Back to Suburbia!

Yeah, you, lady: the one parked on Cary Street who opened the window of your bigger-than-my-kitchen SUV so as to reach out your dainty, tanned arm and dump coffee in the street in front of me. Okay, I was driving, not walking: but still -- that nice rainstorm yesterday cleaned off the car real good! It doesn't want a shot of caffeine!

On the Muzak at Ukrop's: "Voices Carry" and "Got My Mind Set on You."
Also at Ukrop's: I'm liking the small, two-tier urban hipster shopping carts (like black version of #5341, here*)
At the Byrd: 300

*Bonus Information Services Lesson:
Use your search engine's "advanced search" feature if your search results include zillions of things from a different field. For example, I redid that random search and used the "without" box: without "software," please: I am not looking for a program for use on a shopping website.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not Reading: Children of Hurin, J. R. R. Tolkien. It was just Too.

Mississippi Sissy, Kevin Sessums. Pretty good. Probably, I should be reading it more slowly, to savor some good writing.
Real Simple magazine. I thought I'd gotten it out of my system, but I picked one up the other day and again find myself bending down corners with Great Tips!
The New Yorker, fiction issue.

Happy Summer Reading!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hey, I Know That Guy.

So for the zillionth time since I was 17 or so, I passed a CPR class today. It was held at Big Library and ended late enough in the afternoon that there was no point in heading back to my Lib. I slid into an absent librarian's cubicle and did e-ref and answered my own e-mail for a bit. I chatted with another librarian about the CK business, and slid out of the building early.

But not early enough! I turned on WCVE to hear a story nearly over: some hipster talking about ice cream truck music. He mentioned growing up in Virginia Beach. "Hey, that's just down the road a ways." And then he mentioned his band, One Ring Zero, and I said, "Well, hell, it's Mike Hearst." First a blurb in The New Yorker; now this. Such fame for a dude I met at a couple of parties. Listen to it, here NPR : One Ring to Rule Them: 'Ice Cream' Songs Hit Big.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Awww" Dept.

For the second time that I can recall, a guardian-tot pair asked Children's Librarian to pose for a photo with the storytime-going tot.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I will have to play with LibX (a search extension for Firefox) a while to see if there's an advantage to it over WorldCat (part of the OCLC empire and already in use as a search choice on my browser, as well as sitting here on my home base). I guess if a library I use a lot participated, that would be a selling point.

"Feature creep" is the phrase to describe the phenomenon that brings us MS Word 2003 with "thirty-one toolbars and more than fifteen hundred commands" and phones that give driving directions, take pictures, and make calls. The thing about all this goodness, writes James Surowiecki in the May 28 New Yorker, is that most people can't actually cope with all the features. A researcher with Philips Electronics "found that at least half of returned products have nothing wrong with them. Consumers just couldn't figure out how to use them." And those consumers "had spent, on average, just twenty minutes with it before giving up."

Several factors come into play here: engineers and marketers who work for an imaginary consumer like themselves, not the "Joe Sixpack" we used to hear about; the customer's assumption that if it has too few features, it's no good, too weak; and the fact that "people are not, in general, good at predicting what will make them happy in the future." The notion that we're not good at knowing what will make us happy came up in the recent commuting article, too. Apparently, as a species, we really can't tell if a challenging hour-and-a-half commute home to a Colonial on a half-acre will make us happier than a ten minute commute to a "lesser" house; or if we need the digital camera with bells and whistles, or just one that takes pictures.

Are we really so ill-equipped to cope with our consumer society? I like to think that I can buy things that will make me happy -- but pretty often the dress that looked great on the hanger, or in the catalog, does look terrible on me. And this Dell notbook PC surely has more features than I ever use -- though I used more features while in school than now, and it's feature-laden-ness hasn't driven me to return it. When I bought this house, I think I did okay. I told the realtor that the feature I wanted was walking distance to the Byrd, WorldCup, and/or the art museum. WorldCup moved, then closed, but the walking city feature certainly has made me happy over the years.

Capital City weather: cooler, rain
Reading: Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Listening: Cotton Dick Clinton

Friday, June 01, 2007


"The Meaning of Life: What Milton Bradley Started," by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker (21 May 07). Eleventy-odd years ago when I was an assistant curator at the Valentine Museum, I curated a couple of Lite, holiday-season exhibitions, including one that featured a lot of board games. Even though I paid the fees to get community cards to local university libraries, I didn't find much written on the subject (had I been smart enough to ask a librarian for help, I would have done better). Lepore's article considers Bradley's tragedy-laced family history and that of board games, so many of which had heavy-handed Lessons. She compares the playability of Life and some of its similar contemporaries and reports that most put players on a "(mostly) fixed path" with few choices to make to influence the outcome of the game.

Capital City weather: 90, sunny

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Really Big Show

Friday: Phiance continues to do the 6-8 a.m. Fridays show on WRIR. Sometimes I am awake for it. We enjoyed Lee Harris and Country Sunshine.

Saturday: Phiance and I painted the kitchen ceiling and the bits of wall effected by the recent repairs. Later, we wished Star Wars a happy 30th by watching the first movie with some Mary Angela's pizza.

Sunday: Memorial Day pow-wow with T. She totally knew someone there, even though she acted like she wouldn't.

Monday: birdwatching along the James:
great blue heron
canada goose
mourning dove
belted kingfisher
red-bellied woodpecker
downy woodpecker
hairy woodpecker
red-eyed vireo
blue jay
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
carolina wren
blue-grey gnatcatcher
american robin
gray catbird
northern mockingbird
cedar waxwing
european starling
prothonotary warbler
indigo bunting
northern cardinal
song sparrow
red-winged blackbird
common grackle
brown-headed cowbird
american goldfinch

That's more species that the week before, when we went upstream and saw dozens of blackpoll warblers and even a redstart. On Monday, a man out with his wife and small daughter told us he had just seen a great-crested flycatcher, and I was annoyed to have missed it since they are cool-looking birds. It reminds me, though, that we saw an eastern kingbird in Byrd Park last week. Right now, our back alley and yard are full of baby (teen, really) bird action: lots of full-sized, fluffy young robins and grackles demanding to be fed. We saw some of that behavior while hiking yesterday, too, notably downy woodpecker and titmouse babies.

Also, we went to the Memorial Day program at the Carillon. They seated people inside this year, so we didn't hear the speechifying or much of the singing; just the honorary gunshots and the bells.

Read: I finished The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, by Dinaw Mengestu. The story and characters are very interesting: African immegrants and gentrification and memory and getting by in D.C. Yet it was a little short of comletely captivating.

It certainly makes me reflect on my neighborhood, in which flippers are gobbling up houses and spitting them back out in such numbers that most of them become rentals with large packs of noisy 20-somethings and several cars per home. The neighborhood is getting worse, in a way, even while values go up. I get furious when I see the flippers two doors down, then I think of the "gentry" character Judith in the book and how unwelcome she was at the nighborhood meeting. Am I being one of Them, the kind of Them who wants it to stay like it was when I moved in, with little note of what the neighborhood was like just before that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book Club

Our book club's discussion of The Wal-Mart Effect was good -- lively. How could it not be? The author himself has noted, "Ordinary Americans have strong feelings about Wal-Mart, that’s clear from all the reaction I’ve gotten." (source) I must have 3 dozen post-it flags in the book, and I went back to refer to maybe two of those highlighted items!

Some quick notes, before I check it back in:

The Wal-mart effect is

- that "Wal-Mart's low prices routinely reset out expectations about what all kinds of things should cost. . . ." (p. 5)
- the squeezing a company to sell to Wal-Mart as the lowest possible price (and then do better next year)
- goods so cheap you throw out the pickles that go bad because you bought the gallon jar
- goods so cheap, you consider a lawnmower a disposable product: if you can't start it in the spring, don't drag it to the shop, buy another -- it was only $99.96. (Wal-Mart effect: repair businesses close.)
- a gallon jar of uncut pickles on the shelf
- a miserable time had by customers (and employees) in the store
- extreme efficiency in warehousing, shipping, and displaying products
- many factories go overseas; conditions in them are poor
- at least on factory finds staying here the best way to satisfy Wal-Mart's need for a product, which is called the Makin Bacon (Family becomes successful off product. Effect of book: Lib. patron purchases Makin Bacon and loves it.)
- the ruination of ecosystems in the quest for farm-raised salmon: a former luxury selling for less than 5 bucks a pound
- can save "enough plastic to account for the lifetime consumption of hundreds of Americans." (p. 278)
- not included in many tabulations that are supposed to reflect the state of the economy
- "strangl[ing]" the market economy (p. 234)


His thesis statement: "Wal-Mart isn't just a store, or a huge company, or a phenomenon anymore. Wal-Mart shapes where we shop, the products we buy, and the prices we pay -- even for those of us who never shop there." (p. 5)

"Ninety percent of Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart." (p. 5)

"Wal-Mart's price pressure can leave so little profit that there is little left for innovation." (p. 89) Little left, in other words, for research and development of new products.

"[D]uring the last seven years, a remarkable milestone has passed all but unnoticed: In 2003, for the first time in modern U.S. history, the number of Americans working in retail (14.9 million) was greater than the number of Americans working in factories (14.5 million). We have more people working in stores than we do making the merchandise to put in them." (p. 108)

A study found that "'..the presence of Wal-Mart unequivocally raised family poverty rates in U.S. counties during the 1990s.'" (p. 165)

"But Americans are clearly close to Wal-mart saturation, not culturally or politically or morally, but literally. The nation simply doesn't need to buy much more from Wal-Mart than it already does." (p. 213)

A study of shoppers in Oklahoma City labeled shoppers as champions, enthusiasts, conflicted, and rejectors. "Conflicted shoppers . . . are the second most frequent shoppers at the store. . . ." (p. 220)

Freakin' Awesome
The New Yorker's librarians blog!

Annals of Home Maintenance
Get out the ladder - grab a step stool - and check out the top of your kitchen cabinets. No, this isn't about cleaning all that greasy dust: this is about workmanship. I couldn't figure out how such big pieces of grit got into my cabinets during recent plumbing repairs until I went up there today. (I'm sanding and repainting the repaired ceiling and walls myself. Slowly.) There's a gap where the end cap meets the "ceiling" of the cabinet, and the doors are not really . . . is plumb the word when the line is parallel to ground (or only perpendicular?)? It's just not sealed up there. Good grief.

Something's up with the Byrd. In a C'town shop yesterday, clerks were gossiping about stuff taken out, perhaps not illegally, but (in the speaker's view) mean-spiritedly the last time it changed hands. Then I read this in Style and got fretful. Mostly my fears are along the lines of "they won't screw it up will they?" and "it won't cost $10 to see a movie, now, will it?"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bookmobile Man!
You Are a Chocolate Cake

Fun, comforting, and friendly.
You are a true classic, and while you're not super cutting edge, you're high quality.
People love your company - and have even been known to get addicted to you.

Duh. (Via Bibliodiva.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'll Show You "Yelling"

Not long ago, co-worker B and I were talking about a county customer service class she'd just taken -- I think it's the one with the title "It's Not What You Said, It's How You Said It." Instead of remembering the gist of what she told me she learned, I remember that I shared with her that I had lately noticed myself saying, "I'm sorry, we ask that you use your cell phone outside." I have nothing to be sorry about: it's the rule; it's posted on the door, and in about four places inside the building; and it's good manners. Why start off in such a naby-pamby way?

On the one hand, opening with "I'm sorry," is weak; might it be better to open with more authority and avoid weakness? On the other, I guess "I'm sorry" stands in for "Excuse me for interrupting your conversation." More importantly, I find that saying nearly exactly that, to every single person, every time means that grouchy patrons can't accuse me of being rude, singling them out -- or "yelling."

From the ref desk yesterday, I heard sustained conversation from 2/3 of the way across the building. I went to investigate and found a 60-something year old man chatting away on the phone. I said in a quiet voice, "I'm sorry, we ask...." He glanced at me, said into the phone "I'm in the library. And the other thing about blah, blah, blah," and kept browsing DVDs. Maybe he's hard of hearing? "Sir," I began again, "please use your phone outside." "Hold on," he said into phone, "I'm in the library and she's yelling at me."

"Thank you," I said, walking away.

Yelling?! I'll give you yelling: "Outlook! Time to line up," so that it can be heard at tent 6. "Good morning, Pine Ridge!" loud enough that 2 out of 8 teens lift their heads off the pillow. Then there was a classic shouting fit between me and my freshman year roommate at MHC. . . . Buddy, if I "yell" at you, your friend on the other end of the line will know it, not need to be told.

Capital City weather: rainy

Monday, May 14, 2007


The next book club book for the Lib. is The Wal-Mart Effect.... Based on the way the group went after The Tipping Point, it's going to be quite a discussion! Here's a bit I like:

Although Wal-Mart has stayed true to its original core value -- always low prices -- the company has now grown so large, and evolved in so many ways, that it no longer truly understands its own culture clearly or effectively -- or understands how it is perceived by the rest of us. The mascot of the company is the bouncing yellow smiley-faced price chopper. But while the prices at Wal-Mart may make us smile, Wal-Mart itself almost never does. This, too is part of the Wal-Mart effect. . . . (p. 13)

And another:

(In general, when a Wal-Mart can't keep the letters in its lit, the store is a mess.)

(p. 17)

Now that is a good tip -- and easy to check up on.

Oh, dear, knowing that some of our folks take exception to everything in every book, I better start researching that one if I plan to used it in discussion!