Friday, April 27, 2007

Lost n Found

The Vampire Librarian has a nice post on Lost and Found, here. Folks have shared found items of interest, but no one seems to know how or why people never come looking for important things like eyeglasses, transcripts, and medical records.

At least Lib L-n-F is less emotional that Camp L-n-F. There's not much worse than a middle-aged mom chewing you out because her daughter left momma's very own childhood G.S. pocketknife at camp.
It's Okay

Ditziest Patron just got freaked out because every time she types "" into the address bar, it turns into -- and it's the "first time that's ever happened!" (Everything is new to her, every day. In a way, that must be nice.)

I tried to explain about redirect addresses, as I see them: something easy to remember sends you to the real place the website is. But that was too much, so I just assured "it's okay."

Capital City weather: rain, chance of hail

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tip to Homeowners

Friends, if the workman has to cut into plaster, wallboard, and/or concrete, move everything you can and cover the rest with a plastic tarp. Do not believe him when he says Naw, don't move anything.

Plans for tonight: serious cleaning. Luckily, the new water lines are awesome, so I can shower all I want, afterwards.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Fellow Virginians!

Our Capitol needs your vote at the AIA's top 150 buildings. (Via LOC blog.)

This morning I find myself temporarily displaced. As almost always happens in an old house, a repair project is taking longer than hoped. The plumber found a layer of rubble in the space under the bathroom floor. That's the space in which he's meant to be installing new drain pipes. There's a lot of plaster and other dust from said rubble in the air at home, so I left. I knew I'd wanting a working bathroom sooner or later: where to go?

I needed a place with climate control, perhaps a chair, and a public restroom. Internet access a plus; something to look at like art or magazines or books: required. The art museum's closed on Tuesdays, so like the truly homeless before me, I came to the downtown library.

The remodelled women's rooms on the first floor seem to be good solutions to the realities of a city library. The two single-occupancy women's rooms are kept locked, with keys available at the Reference Desk. I suppose simple blue and green tile work will seem dated at some point, but for now it seemed a trim, spacious restroom. As "singles" a (homeless) woman needing to wash up could without freaking out others.

I've found a nice enough place to sit in an odd nook of reference works. A couple of low shelves of art ref. are topped with law ref. books. I am surrounded by art books at least 20 years old or older, and a bunch of fresh paperback titles from Nolo and J.K. Lasser.
Web 2.0

Online birding -- on west coast time. All the sport of birding and none of the fresh air and walking.

Monday, April 23, 2007


My idea of spontaneity is to start thinking as late as Wednesday about taking a weekend day trip to a familiar spot, like Jamestown or Charlottesville. Yet somehow I managed to become intrigued with what I read on the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory website's about the bird banding station (2nd to last link on the left), see the promising weather, and instigate a camping trip to an unfamiliar site -- all in a few days! Phiance did the dirty work of making the camping reservation; and he still had a fund drive shift at WRIR -- oh, and did I mention the Teen's art class at the museum?

All that behind us, 1:15 or so Saturday found us east-bound on 64 into an April afternoon full of new leaves, dogwood blooms, and sunshine. By 5:30 or so, we were scampering on the bay beach at First Landing State Park! By midnight, I was still awake, listening to cars on too nearby U.S. Route 60. When I showered in the park's cinder block cubicle of a shower on Sunday, I still heard the traffic, and mused that it was the closest I'd ever showered to what I think of as "Midlothian Turnpike" -- or slept, or. . . . Then I thought that perhaps the bath house was about as close to 60 as, say, my high school French classroom! Weird. In summary: it's a noisy campground with sites crowded next to each other and the highway -- but under lovely under live oak trees.

Sunday morning we got going early and had the good luck to have a fellow birder spot our binocs and ask if we were heading to the bird banding station. He advised the best path, and said it would be a good 45 minute walk. Armed with this information, we packed up gorp and water and headed out. Through spanish moss-laden trees, by swampy areas, we kept up a good pace, hardly slowing for even a pileated. But as we parallelled the creek, so much twittering caught my ear, we stopped to identify a yellow throated warbler and a palm warbler. A little further on, Phiance got a new one for his life list, a brown-headed nuthatch.

At the banding station, knowledgeable and affable Peter had a hermit thrush in hand. Before releasing it, he showed us how the shape of its primary feathers helped him determine its age (eek - I think; I was still stunned by how docile it was while being held to pay attention like I sohuld). Some of the 20 or so nets he checks are in swampy areas: he did a run to those and came back with little cotton bags clipped to a cord around his neck. Some sacks screeched; less so if he kept them close to his chest, tucked into his fleece vest. We met a catbird, two ruby-crowned kinglets, an assertive titmouse -- and worm-eating warbler. The last is rare in Virginia, and warblers can be challenging to ID -- it might be the only one I ever list. Some birds were re-captures, and some got fresh bands. We went with him to check nets, and came back with a swamp sparrow. A song sparrow was the last bird we saw in hand before heading back.

The hike to the trails information center took us to higher ground and amongst lots of cyprus. We studied some unusual chlorophyll-less plants that turn out to be squaw root. Phiance ID'd magnolia warblers. As we approached the trail center, we encountered more and more traffic: the occasional joggers and hikers became, on the wide multi-use trail, more numerous. Bicyclists joined them, as did folks doing Earth Day clean up for the park.

We broke camp, snacked and got ourseleves back on the Bay beach around 1:30, where we watched pelicans while Teen waded and wandered. I flew the SpongeBob kite (the secret to flying this cheap kite is to cut off his legs and arms, surgery we completed on last weekend's cold campout at Westmoreland State Park). We relaxed our tired feet and took in the sea air.

Around 3, we "lunched" at the awesome Charlie's, and after two traffic slow-downs, we were home by 6:30 or so. Pooped, but totally worth it!

Capital City weather: sunny, 80s
Muzak at Ukrop's: "Life in a Northern Town"
Traffic report: a traffic light is coming soon to the Ellwood Thompson parking lot!! Hooray.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, you might take part in a local outdoors event. Or, you could calculate your personal greenhouse emissions, at the EPA's website.

But I believe I will go camping!
What Can One Do

The Phiance points you to places you might like to donate money, in light of Monday.
On the Phone

"Randy" (who kinda shouted, BTW) called to find out how he can get in touch with Betty Ford. I had a false start or two on the interwebs, so I asked if I could call him back. Gale's Biography Resource Center didn't have anything helpful as far as dropping the First Lady a line, so I went back to the free internet. Ah, here we are. I called Randy and gave him the address.

"They were two of my closest, closest friends." He told me. "They are so nice. You couldn't say anything bad about them. You just couldn't. It was so sad when he died."

I made some "Mhmm!?" noises into the phone. Randy asked which library this was, again, and I told him. "Well, thanks," he concluded.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Readers' Advisory

The New Yorker (4/9/07) helped me cheat on my self-imposed year-long homework to improve my readers' advisory skills. Well, reading reviews and summaries isn't really cheating, it just makes for a nice opening line. In "Blood on the Borders," Clive James takes a look at several writers in the crime - suspense genre. He focuses on both setting and "seriousness" of the writer.

James credits Georges Simenon (Maigret) for "giving the modern crime novel its aspirations to seriousness." He praises Donna Leon's novels set in Italy for giving "intimate details of the decaying city [Venice] while never delaying the action." Raymond Chandler serves as a standard. Gene Kerrigan also receives praise for strong writing.

Also: on LibraryThing, I am keeping quick summaries of YA novels to help build RA skills in that area.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What's in a Name

In this Wired article, author Jason Silverman presents cases of publishers and TV producers ducking the label "science fiction," since it turns off many perspective customers. The sort of "fanboy" and series novels that one finds in a big box bookstore's SF row don't appeal to me, but I do like other things that should -- could -- be in SF. And I always feel a little bit sheepish about it. Like the time I wanted to recommend a novel to my bookclub, and I began by saying, "It's not exactly time travel, but. . . ," and they all shut me out. At the other end of the spectrum, I had a friend in college who was really into SF and fantasy, and she made me feel like a lightweight, a dabbler.

Silverman cites a few phrases used to avoid "science fiction." China Mieville is a "mythmaker," and Cormac McCarthy's The Road is "post-apocalyptic." I see that my library system classified the two Mieville novels we own as "fiction," though both have "fantasy" as a subject heading. In our system, at most locations, science fiction works are on separate shelves, while fantasy -- often with a little genre sticker on the spine -- are interfiled with "regular" fiction. That could be a perfectly fine way to manage, if it weren't for the way that works sometimes seem to be arbitrarily classified. I believe that most of our catalog records come to us from our book vendor. No one in our employ chose to download that particular catalog record from OCLC; it wasn't one of us who called Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys "fiction" and Douglas Adams's similarly-themed Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul "science fiction." I would have called both "fantasy." No, wait, what about the quick rule of thumb I learned at the state library conference? When the stuff that happens in the world of the novel that's different than the real world is attributed to "magic" you've got fantasy; when "science" makes the difference, you've got science fiction. But those two, like Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, are more about life in slightly alternate worlds: pretty much like ours, only gods we dismiss as "myth" roam the earth; or, just like ours, only some people can walk into the storyline of a book. It's not "magic," it's just that world.

I suppose all of this confusion over labels is why reader's advisory is supposed to be a dialog: "Tell me what you liked about Teatime. The humor? The setting in England?" rather than hearing that she liked it, noting that it "belongs" in science fiction, and suggesting Dune or a Star Trek novel. Because to me, if you like Adams, Fforde, Gaiman, and Terry Pratchett are all authors worth trying before looking at Frank Herbert.

Capital City weather: Today - cold, windy, clear. Yesterday - localized basement flooding. : (

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More interesting dialog than I could get started on Style's cover story, here. The article explores that thing that bothers me: where are the working poor going? The family two doors down is gone, and some dude with a Grateful Dead sticker on his pickup is proudly flipping the place. A family that shouts at the kids will be replaced by . . . boring bank execs? High-end college-age renters who will still throw loud parties? The house one south of the flipee is occupied by a woman who babysits and a man who wears painter's pants and bikes off to work. How much longer will they be able to afford our neighborhood, where suddenly the houses are "worth" over $200,000 -- and almost none have central a/c? The babysitter and painter(?), and F. and his family, aren't particular friends, but they're fine neighbors (well maybe the former pair more than the latter, who were noisy). They should have a decent place to live.

Authors Scott Bass and Chris Dovi don't focus only on the poorest Richmonders; they mention, too, that
the rising property values aren’t discriminating these days. It’s not only pushing out the poorest residents, it’s also pushing out young professionals, schoolteachers, policemen and other workers who once called Richmond home.

I feel certain that a city that can house the CVS clerks, painters, janitors, schoolteachers, police officers, non-profit agency employees, AND CapOne execs (in their freakin SUVs, going to that freakin new Starbucks and making traffic insane on that block of Robinson St.) would be better than a city full of rich+ people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


1. How cool is this? Take the URL of a site that makes you register (to read a newspaper story, e.g.) cut-n-paste it into the box at Bug Me Not, and you get a user name and password to spit back at the site.

2. Police presence at my branch the first two days of spring break; what will toady bring?

3. Yeah, lady, I am real impressed by the way you made your four year old say "bye-bye" when you left. It's not liek I noticed you smack him for turning off the PC next to yours. It wasn't me who brought him back to you when he came and stood behind the ref desk. And I didn't at all mine repositioning the keyboard and throwing away all the scrap paper he drew on (okay, I left the pencil scribbles on the desk for our janitor; mean of me).

Friday, April 06, 2007

On the Menu

Last year, I spent some time at an antiques mall, near where I used to have ballet lessons, reading a fine collection of old menus. It seemed to be someone's collection of souvenirs from the 1960s - early 1980s. Most of the eateries were east coast establishments, and I had been to one or two. I know my folks had been to some of the fanciest places, on trips without me and the sib. The graphics brought back memories -- as did the kinds of foods served. Somewhere, I have a fabulous book what food trends were like through the 20th century. It documents the time when a wedge of iceberg lettuce was a fine salad, the rise of the fern bar, and so on.

I remembered enjoying the menu collection when this one came to my attention, via lii.
Tech Support

A correspondent from up north brought this thoughtful item on tech support to my attention.

Capital City weather: the 60s and 70s left us for a morning temp of 32

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Public School spring break and National Library Week are coming! In celebration of these two weeks, this is the sort of silliness teens will see at my library.
Interesting Article

. . .on homelessness and public libraries, at Alternet. In defence of library schools, I will say (contrary to the author's heading) that mine did included discussion of this topic, in the class that some accused of indoctrinating us in liberal ALA values.

My suburban system sees a little of this, though I think that the folks who come to my branch are only quasi-homeless. Perhaps because a touch of mental illness, one lives in a camper; and many young people live in group homes (for a variety of reasons). Capital City Library's Main sees a lot of this, of course.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Heaven Help Us. . .

. . . these 3 women are studying to enter the health field (and so badly the country needs people in this field!) and I have to hold their hands and teach them where the URL goes and what a search engine is and how evaluate websites??!

Monday, April 02, 2007

23 Things

I added to the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenbugr County's favorites wiki today. It's pretty similar to using Blogger, only with the whole shared aspect: anyone with a password can log on and add. Or, or, I guess, edit. I didn't try that.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


The thing about projects around the house is that they require exquisite timing. Also, they are never as simple as they seem, and related projects crop up like weeds. But this is going to be just a few words about the former kind of problem.

Wooden steps peel like fair-skinned sunbather. It wouldn't be madness to repaint my back steps every year, but I've got to move fast. It's got to be a mild day, and clear, needless to say. I must locate paint, brushes, scrapper, and sandpaper. But the real trick is grabbing that mild day before the trees start dropping flower and pollen bits. This year, I just made it. As I finished the last strokes, two or three bits of something floated out of the oak tree. Wait a few hours, and the green-grey paint sports the first thin layer of spring pollen and two blops of bird poo.

Random Round-Up

We enjoyed the first in a series of talks at Maymont, co-sponsored by VCU. On Thursday, we learned how Americans shaped the land in the thousands of years before Columbus: terracing, aquaducts, draining swamps. Cool stuff.

Some kind of urban trail ride, lead by the mounted city police, went down our street around 2 this afternoon. Ah, here's the scoop: generate excitement for Strawberry Hill Races; benefit Richmond mounted police.

Wedding site.

Bird List
Pump House and North Side Trail (River)

double-crested cormorant
great blue heron
canada goose
red-tailed hawk
mourning dove
belted kingfisher
yellow-bellied sapsucker
red-bellied woodpecker
downy woodpecker
northern flicker
eastern phoebe
blue jay
carolina chickadee
tufted titmouse
carolina wren
winter wren
ruby-crowned kinglet
american robin
northern mockingbird
palm warbler
yellow-rumped warbler
northern cardinal
song sparrow
white-throated sparrow
red-winged black bird
house sparrow
american goldfinch

Also: the new bears at Maymont, one pacing, one high on top of the quarry