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