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 I told her that most don't work any more "because they are outdated."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.