Soda vs. Powder

The difference between baking powder and baking soda, for some reason, always trips me up. I haven't had any mishaps lately (my husband does the baking anyways) but every time I go to the cupboard, I have to double and triple check that I retrieved the correct product.

According to chemistry.about.com, both do the same thing - they make whatever you're baking 'rise.' (Knew that.) They each contain sodium bicarbonate, and when mixed with something acidic, will produce the carbon dioxide. The difference between them is that baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate (so the chemical process begins as soon as you mix in the acidic ingredient, so you have to bake right away), and baking powder is diluted with an acidic ingredient already (usually cream of tartar - so it reacts with the liquid ingredients first, can sit for awhile, and then reacts again to the heat of the oven). A recipe calls for one or the other depending on what the other ingredients are and how they'll all react to each other chemically. And, as The Joy of Baking points out, when a recipe calls for both -- you're sure to get added tenderness in your cookies. Yum.

Cool. This still doesn't help me know I'm going for the right ingredient, though. So, I've had to invent my own device. Here it is:
Powder comes in a canister.
Soda lives in the fridge, with the soda (pop). We both drink our pop warm, though, so maybe I could try this...
Soda can de-oda-rize (deodorize) too.

(I hear you groaning. Don't worry. I'm groaning too.)


I helped someone find resources to research the cholera epidemic of 19th Century Britain the other day. While his question was more involved (and I was able to get him started with some more in depth resources) my question was more basic: what does cholera do to a body again?

Oooohhhhhh yeahhhhhh -- duh! From the CDC...
Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it can be severe. Approximately one in 20 infected persons has severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these persons, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
After reading through some of the primary resources from the Lamb Collection (courtesy of the Dundee Central Library), I'm more appreciative of our modern-day sewers. Fun times.


If only the Oscars had run half an hour longer

Quilted Tote
Originally uploaded by just_katherine
....I would have been able to say that I put this quilted tote together during the show. I pressed, cut and sewed it together during the Barbara Walters Special, and finished it during the show. I haven't gotten used to how long it takes to finish quilted projects! Sheesh.


Community Surveys

When someone mentioned this morning that every month 'they turn away 30-40 people for Section 8 vouchers' in her city, I felt ready to give up. I was reminded that I haven't taken the pulse of the city I work in (or live in) for a long time.

How to do that? Some people seem to have a knack for this. I do not. I don't know what's happening on any given Friday night, and I don't know what the housing market is like (except that my property taxes have risen a LOT since I moved here three years ago). I know the schools are in rough shape, that the mayor has a book club for teens, and that the community's garden is lovely in the summer, but I couldn't tell you if crime or construction is rising or not.

But the guys at my local hardware store would be able to tell me!

The West Metro Section of the newspaper just happens to be (!) online, and I can subscribe to it in a (!) RSS feed. And, of course, I could take the time to browse through the local weekly neighborhood papers too. Or the cities' websites. Or I could catch up on my twin cities-related blogs.

The Metropolitan Council presents some (mostly old) data (based on the census) on communities in the metro region, and MNPRO presents community profiles as a marketing tool for those looking to expand their business in Minnesota. There's some useful information there, but not really what I have in mind.

So, I will conduct an experiment this week. I will actively try to take the pulse of the city I live in. If I remember to do this, I'll report back. If I forget, well, then, I won't.

Dog lovers read Dean Koontz

Author Dean Koontz is a dog lover. You (probably didn't) hear it here first!

When I was waiting at the vet's office last week I picked up a copy of the February issue of Dog Fancy. After checking out the centerfold (ooooooooo) I flipped through the articles when I read the following statement: Anyone who loves dogs knows that Dean Koontz is a dog lover.

Even on Koontz's website it says that Dog lovers know that some of Dean Koontz's most compelling novels include dogs as key characters.

I mean, I know what they're trying to say, but doesn't it sound like the wording is more than a bit off? I mean, I'm a cat lover but I don't know which authors are cat lovers! (Oh, alright. I have read my fair share of Cat Who mysteries simply because they feature two Siamese cats). But, still.

WELL! Someone came into the library today asking for Dean Koontz. Why? She said, and I kid you not, I am a dog lover, and I know that Dean Koontz is a dog lover too.

I guess Dog Fancy wasn't that far off after all.


Righteous dudes

No. I am not writing about Bill or Ted. I (sadly) just finished one of my favorite books this year...The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss is a must-read.

I'm not giving anything away when I say that one of the characters (Bird) thinks he is a lamed vovnik. According to one legend, the fate of the human race rests on the shoulders of the 36 truly righteous ones of each generation. Those who are of that select group are thus designated by the Hebrew letters for the number 36, lamed-vav, and colloquially called "lamed-vavniks". This group is also referred to as tzadikim nistarim, or "concealed righteous ones." Given that they are the most righteous souls on earth, they have many responsibilities, but they aren't supposed to know that they are among the chosen. So, Bird finds himself asking "is this what a lamed vovnik would do?" when he is trying to figure out if he is one of the 36 or not. The passages of Bird trying to determine conclusively that he was a lamed vovnik absolutely endearing.

There seem to be different ways to spell and pluralize Jewish words. (Well, maybe -- I'm not familiar with the Hebrew language or alphabet). Krauss uses "vovnik," most sites use "vavnik," and some dropped the "nik" altogether while others spelled it out in one word - lamedvavniks. For the tzadikim, I found tsaddik, tzadi, tzadik, tzaddik, tzadikkim, and zaddik.

This is just a good reminder to use the wildcard function of your search engine, and that Wikipedia can be a good starting point for exploring new concepts.


Sir Edmund Hillary

Edmund Hillary, one of the most well-known mountaineers in history, was the first climber to reach the top of Mount Everest (along with Sherpa guide Tenzig Norgay). His success on the 1953 expedition earned him knighthood, a Polar Medal, honorary Nepalese citizenship, and the Indian Padma Vibhushan recognition. He died on January 10 of this year.

His first wife was Louise Mary Rose.

Oral ordeals

So - I spent some time last month thinking casually about dentists and how they don't suck anymore. Is that why I'm seeing a lot more of the dentist these days? I don't really believe that the universe works this way, but it sure feels like I willed myself into the world of dental health this month.

1. My boy cat has bad teeth, and always has. We brush his teeth, but not regularly enough. The vet showed me where his teeth are decaying (a cavity in a human is a tooth resorption in a cat) and how his jaw quivers and chatters when she touches his gums in certain places. Not good. In a couple of weeks we have to take him in for a cleaning, and possibly a tooth extraction. Poor cat. Fillings are not fun, but they aren't even an option for cats.

2. I'm probably going to lose one of my front teeth. I had a root canal treatment done when I was 15, and a cap installed on the remaining tooth. When I was 22, the tooth broke off, and I had it replaced with a metal post. Last fall, the post became loose, and my new dentist re-cemented it but cautioned that there might be a deeper problem with the underlying tooth. Sure enough, it felt loose again this week, and this, combined with other symptoms, confirmed my dentist's suspicions that there is a crack in the root of my tooth. Given that the treatment is tooth extraction and a dental implant (a very involved and expensive process), he tried shaving the crown to adjust my bite to see how that helps. The tooth has been dead for a long time, so it doesn't hurt or anything, but this blows.

3. The Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature, part of the Current Dental Terminology manual provides a standard way of coding dental procedures to meet the HIPAA standards.

So, this means that I have reached an age where..
  • I have enough health-related expenditures that I should utilize the flexible spending account option in my benefits package, and
  • I (to my horror) consider my medical procedures a worthy conversation topic at the water cooler. Oh man. Me and my busted up old self...


Crafternoon delight: Kat made a quilt

My three-rail fence quilt (pg 56 from First-Time Quiltmaking). It's made of awesome.

What I learned about quilting

First, it takes forever. Second, there are many intricacies of fabrics, threads, needles, and machines, and it really is worth it to invest in quality materials. Third, just when you think you're close to finished with the quilt, there's about a million more things to do.

What I learned about myself

I like quilting. I like all of it - the washing, ironing, measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, pinning, sewing, ironing, measuring, cutting, sewing, ironing, ironing and ironing. (I had no idea there was so much ironing involved.) And, I have more patience to be precise than I thought.

What I remembered about myself

I get worn out when I'm concentrating too hard. Mary (the brilliant woman who owns Quilter's Courtyard in St. Paul and taught the beginning quilting class) kept telling me "no sighing allowed."


So much for my new year's resolution

I spent a majority of my time in 2007 exploring Web 2.0 tools as a way to immerse myself in the Library 2.0 discussion. Basically, I created accounts with MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, SecondLife, Flickr, YouTube, Skype, Google Docs, Google Reader and Blogger and used them all regularly throughout the year. And it took a toll on my soul.

So I resolved that in 2008, I would revert back to a "1.0" lifestyle. My plan including sitting at home and reading books, learning to quilt, trying new recipes and using the Internet for email, online banking, and reserving library books only. (Well, I wasn't going to give up my Facebook or Blogger accounts. Those are fun.)

So much for that resolution! So far this year I have added two new blogs, a Google Map and a Gubb list to the webosphere (or whatever it's called these days).

Stick it to Ya (a library learning 2.0 project I decided to join last minute)
My Map
(a map of adventures of reading in public places)
Between the Page and the Shelf (a blog co-authored by my writer/editor friend Kristin and myself. As of this writing, we just moved to Wordpress and are still unpacking. Come on in, but excuse the mess!)

I am happy to realize that I feel much more balanced. I'm geeked about wordpress and the maps mashups. And and and, photos of the quilt I made are expected soon. I hope.


The Little Rock Nine

My comforting thought for the day is this: so many adults are parents.

Parents have children, and children go to school. Those children come home needing help with their homework assignments. This is one explanation for why so many people remember/know things that I have not heard of before, or don't remember hearing about. Their kids had to learn about it in school, and thus, the parents had to learn about it. And, I get to hear about it when they come to the library for help with their homework too, which is cool. Embarrassing when I don't know who they're talking about, but I can usually cover up my lack on knowledge in the moment.

I was helping a woman find information about the Little Rock Nine today to help her daughter with a history project. (One of my colleagues knew who the Little Rock Nine were because she helped her son with the same assignment last year, giving a little bit more support for my theory). I had never heard of them before, but now know that they were the first nine black students to go to a previously all-white school in Arkansas after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. And it was a long, difficult bring-in-the-armed-forces process.

Cool maps

I took a lot of cataloging classes in library school - and I wrote a paper about cataloging maps. I was so geeked about the prospect of a career in map librarianship - the idea of needing to learn the different projections (and probably feel strongly about them) really excited my inner nerd. At the time we had the controversial Peter's Map hanging on our wall, and my hubby and I dug into the controversy like it was a drug or something. I mean, we really got into it. For about a month.

But I still find maps interesting, and have even blogged about cool ones I stumbled upon at Strange Maps, and today I have to share another way to view maps. The Google Maps Mania blog has listed 100 Things you can do with google maps mashups. And, these are really, really cool. You can explore the New 7 Wonders of the World with satellite images and YouTube videos. You can find the nearest Starbucks, the tallest skyscrapers or your local libraries. I love it. And I wonder what map librarians think of this stuff. I should look at geotagging (adding content with location information) at some point. It might be a critical skill at some point.


My first caucus

I will move on from posts about the political process, but I have to report on my caucus. When we got to the neighborhood middle school (where several precinct meetings were being held) the line to get in went around the block of the location. There are nine precincts in my ward, and I don't know how many, but there definitely was more than one DFL precinct caucus held at my location. When I got to my room, I signed my name on the registration sheet then wrote my candidate's name down on a piece of yellow construction paper. There were 310 such binding presidential preference votes cast in my precinct. Approximately 100 people stayed for the caucus. There was a LOT of formality to follow as we went through the updates, and then finally the resolutions. We listened to 9 resolutions, and voted by show of hands on whether they should be brought to the district convention for further consideration. Some of the resolutions inspired lengthy discussion, which I found incredibly fascinating.

I have to say, though, that I was really distracted during the entire caucus. We were in this classroom, and the ceiling was leaking right above my head. Every three to five minutes or so, there would be another small drop that landed right between my husband and I. It was really disturbing to discover that my neighborhood middle school is leaking. What is it like to be a student there? I have to wonder. And figure out if I can do anything about it.


Random vocab words

My husband has an extensive vocabulary. This drives me nuts, mostly because I'm jealous. Anyway, we're nerds, and to prove it, there's a game we've played were I open the dictionary to a random page, place my finger on a random word and ask him for the definition. He almost always knows the definition. He's that good.

Tonight, after helping a patron find that Newbery book that had a sailboat on the front cover, I thought for sure I would be able to stump him with my new word I learned. It went like this:
Me: (laughing to self, hee hee hee) Hey! Do you know what a (dramatic pause) frigate is?
Him: Yeah...it's a sailing ship, and a quite formidable one at that.
Me: (growling) How the hell do you know that?
Him: I played a pirate game when I was a kid.
Me: Curses. Foiled again.
One of these days I'm going to stump him. Any suggestions?


Win some, lose some

I love it when I know stuff. Tonight at happy hour someone mentioned a relatively unknown name (Michael Servetus) and I knew exactly who that was, and could explain with confidence that his arguments against the idea of The Holy Trinity (his antitrinitarianism, if you will) served as the catalyst for today's Unitarian Church. (I might have scared the person who mentioned his name a little bit when I started raving about the book I read about him, but, still. I love it I know stuff.)


Then, I came home and read Kristin's beautiful first post in our joint blog, Between the Page and the Shelf. I had no idea who Nabokov was. :(((((


Now I know that he is the much celebrated author of Lolita (duh), and that he left behind an unfinished manuscript that is now at the center of controversy in the publishing world.