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.