3log Day

Question: for those who text, does it
really save that much time to type a '3' rather than a 'B'? Anyway...

Today is Blog Day. Today is a day for bloggers everywhere to take a moment to find and/or share five blogs that are interesting to them, and that are somewhat under the radar. So, you know, this is not the time to sing the praises of Boing Boing or The Huffington Post.

In alphabetical order...

Daily Writing Tips
Exactly as it sounds, tips are for the professional writer, the casual blogger, the standard-issue word nerd and anyone who writes anything.

Dictionary Evangelist

What can I say? Lexicographer Erin McKean really loves dictionaries, and I love dictionaries too.

Swiss Army Librarian
In the "this is what I meant for Oranges and Peaches to be and why didn''t I think of that" category, here is a reference librarian sharing some of his more interesting reference questions.

Strange Maps
Again, exactly as it sounds. My favorites include the cannibal map, all the world in a song, pop vs. soda and the country codes map. UFO hotspots is pretty good, too.

Ugandan Insomniac
I love her writing style, and the range of topics she writes about.


My professional glory

So, yesterday morning I overheard my colleague's phone conversation with a patron who was looking for a book that had an extensive waiting list. While my colleague was searching for the book, I listened as she described how to find it on YouTube while waiting for the book to come in.

I felt that I was missing something, so asked what she was talking about. After hearing a description of the tradition of "the last lecture" at Carnegie Mellon (professors are invited to lecture on what matters most to them as if they were about to vanish from the face of the earth) and learning the fact that the author/professor of the book in question was diagnosed with pancreatic (i.e. terminal) cancer before giving his lecture, I put the pieces together.

And, in all my professional glory, I asked the question to top all questions:

"Oh! Is this that book that people are reading?"

Oh. My. God. The. Mortal. Embarrassment.

Why, yes. Yes it is.

Just in case I'm not the last person (although I'm sure I am the last librarian) on Earth to hear about this book, it is an expansion on his lecture, Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. He compiled the book, with the help of others, during the final stages of his disease.

And from what I've heard, it is a pretty good read if you're into life lessons stuff.


I heart google, but...

...it isn't the end all and be all.

The search engine is easy, especially with the search tool right there in my browser, and the other products makes my life easier. I use Google Reader to keep track of blogs, Google Docs to keep everything in one place (for work and for home), Google Maps for the most reliable online directions, Picasa for pics and Blogger for blogging (both owned by Google) and Google Alerts to keep track of my library in the news. (And *that* has been pretty active lately). I mean, I use just about everything Google has to offer with only one user name and password. (Except their silly social networking thing. puh-leeeeeeze. srsly.)

Wayne Curtis wrote that "the Internet is great for finding the needle in the haystack. But it's not so good at finding the haystack - at culling infinite possibilities into a manageable list of options." He was writing about using the Internet as the only travel resource, but this thought definitely applies for other Internet searches as well. And that is what Google does well, in my opinion.

A lot of times, when people come to the information desk at the library, they have done the basic searches on Google. They have found a bunch of needles, but they were actually in search of a haystack.

Some other favorite search engines that help identify "the haystack," without getting to library school assignmenty.

Exalead indexes sites (acquired with the use of robots and user submissions) from the Internet. While not perfect, there results are organized very nicely. The suggested search terms, while a feature not unique to Exalead, can be quite helpful, along with their division of results into site type (blog, forum, commercial, non-commercial...).

A metasearch engine based on the technology from Vivisimo (founded by Carnegie Mellon scientists) that 'clusters' results. I like that the results are sorted by keywords, sources and domain making it easier to evaluate sites quickly.

Another metasearch engine that sorts results into pretty smart categories. Plus I like that the pages you click on automatically open in a new tab, and that it includes an mp3 search.

Okay, I wouldn't use this at work. It couples your search terms with random words resulting in sites that you wouldn't find otherwise, and it is a fun way to browse the Internet.

That's just a few... and this is a reminder for myself as much as anything to use a variety of sources.


Viscounts: simple and not-so-simple

Viscounts, a term I heard from my friend Chris, rank fourth class in the British peerage (after duke, marquess, and earl, but before baron). And, apparently, make perfectly dreamy characters for teen historical romance fiction.

The British Peerage, not to be confused with honours, is kind of complex for this outsider. It was just within the last year that I realized that peer titles can be handed down, or not. The Duke of York, for example, is a title given typically to the second son of the Monarch. And, since there are only 8 of them in history, I can sort of understand that it is a title that comes and goes. The peerage in government also gets complicated, and just looking at the current makeup of The House of Lords, there are Life Peers under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act of 1876, Life Peers under the Life Peerages Act of 1958 and Peers under House of Lords Act of 1999.




Note: I did a lot with felting as a knitter, and I've been paying attention more to fabric in general since I started quilting in January. I love having conversations with other quilters, artists, and crafty people about fabric -- it's construction, design, quality, etc. So, on one hand I get it. On the other hand...

Yesterday I had a conversation with a fellow who was very passionate about billiards. Not only did I learn more about the tournaments, leagues, and diverse patronage of Shooters in Burnsville, I learned about billiard cloth. Simonis (one of the most quality fabrics and his pool felt of choice) doesn't pill, is naturally stain resistant, is designed for extended used and can handle the wear and tear of the balls, and even "meets the stringent standards of ISO 9001:2000 certification for the production and sale of billiard cloth."


1) I could tell that he has had as many if not more discussions about billiard cloth as I have had about fabrics for quilting, and

2) I don't think The CC Club knows about this.


Funny or die

I had to share Paris Hilton's response to McCain's stupid ad that apparently attempts to link fame with incompetence.

Isn't it kind of scary when she offers her energy policy? She sounds...intelligent!

Found via Rosco's Family. Thanks Kris!

Not just for kids

I heard children's and young adult book expert Anita Silvey speak (a few years ago, now) and she pointed out that one thing Harry Potter did for the publishing world was validate, or at least reinvigorate the teen market. Many publishing houses invested more in publishing literature for teens. Authors who write primarily for adults (James Patterson, Alice Hoffman, Carl Hiaasen, Isabel Allende - to name a few) began writing for the teen market, and more new authors were able to get into the market. Teens, like everyone else, have a wide range of interests, and I'm so happy to see the range of selection for teens.

Also, teen protagonists started showing up in adult literature more frequently. (I don't remember her examples, but) In my own reading I've definitely noticed the characters in Jodi Piccoult and Stephen King's novels, for example. I think this trend definitely helps teens make the transition to the adult market, and I think it helps adults feel not-so-oogie about reading books published for teens. This is all good.

Books published for teens that I think should be on every adult's list

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
An Indian boy from the res goes to the white school in town. This is one of those books that will make you laugh out loud and break your heart. The life on the reservation - the extreme poverty and accompanying mentality - it not glorified or put down. It just is. Same goes for the school he attends. It just is. And this just is a must-read.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Death himself narrates this hauntingly tender Holocaust story about a Jewish orphan named Leisel. And if you think you've read enough Holocaust stories...do yourself a favor and read one more.

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer
When a meteor hits the moon, the climate on earth changes radically and threatens the earth's survival. I'm not a scientist, but she makes this seem like such a real possibility that when I finished the book I called my mother...you know...just to check in.

Books published for teens that I would strongly encourage adults to read

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (or, anything of his. he's awesome).
I admit that I originally picked this one up simply for the title. This is a coming-into-your-own story about Colin. Colin has had 19 relationships -- the girls have all been named Katherine, and they've all dumped him. Now he's on a road trip to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability (he's a math nerd) in the hopes that he can predict the outcome of future relationships for himself and dumpees everywhere.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
You know...the vampire love story. Now, I'm not a vampire person, but this is a very good read. And, it's everywhere. Adults are reading it, and I would encourage you to do the same. It will explain all the references to Edward Cullen you've been hearing.


Papers? In order??

Trying to think of a way to make this topic interesting...and...it simply is not.

I heard a 'professional' organizer give 'advice' on the radio the other morning. (I use quotes because her 'professional advice' was to use the Outlook calendar to keep track of stuff. I use Outlook at work because I have to, and I use iCal at home to keep track of giving my boy cat his pain meds, but really...she kept saying "use Outlook" over and over. The hosts of the show had better advice. But I digress). She briefly mentioned making sure you have a home for your personal records and filing them right away, (the more interesting issue is why I don't do what I know I'm supposed to) and I started to browse through record retention guideline sites. You know, for kicks, and to make sure I wasn't missing something obvious.

I always knew about keeping your tax records for 7 years, and the big stuff in a safe place, etc. And the littler stuff? Here's one organizer's expert advice (did you know you're supposed to keep your credit card statements for three years? Don't they mean three months? Or that (get this) your supposed to keep important correspondence for forever? Guess I knew that already...that's why I have every single letter my mother has ever written to me) -- and another's practical advice (I didn't know I was supposed to keep my mortgage statements for the life of the mortgage...I think they meant loan papers...). This isn't the type of information I would rely on, but I think I have the prompt that I need to go through that fire-proof safe and make sure that I have stuff in there that should be in there.

Add that to my week-of-vacation-to-do list, along with cleaning the carpets, fixing leaky bathroom faucets, repairing the drywall below, install new closet fixtures, hauling crap to the dump, taking the car in..

This is going to be the best. vacation. ever. ugh.



There's a restaurant in my neighbor city called Barbary Fig. I enjoyed the Mediterranean cuisine, but never understood the name. Until now...

I'm reading a book called Six Frigates: the epic history of the founding of the American Navy (Why? Because book clubs are over and now and I can read anything I want! And, after touring the US Brig Niagara, I'm fascinated by the historical context of the naval ships. Okay? Okay.) and I got to the part where the British and other European nations would simply pay the Barbary pirates for protection and in order to trade with the Barbary states along the North African coast -- states such as Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya...

And what is the cuisine at Barbary Fig? North African.

Aahhhh, the world is making a little bit more sense.

And in case you started to wonder, as I did, whether the words "barbary" and "barbarian" were connected, they aren't really. From the Online Etymology Dictionary: "The actual relations (if any) of the Arabic and Gr[eek] words cannot be settled; but in European langs. barbaria, Barbarie, Barbary, have from the first been treated as identical with L. barbaria, Byzantine Gr[eek] barbaria land of barbarians" [OED].


Then and Now

Then: I felt madly in love.
Now: I feel mildly intrigued.

Then: I thought it somewhat strange when 'old' people were fans.
Now: I think it somewhat strange that 'young' people are fans.

Then: I wanted them to take off their shirts.
Now: It's kind of silly.

Then: I said things like "Mom! Dad! I have to go to the concert or I WILL DIE!"
Now: I write things like "OMG NKOTB @ MOA" (in jest of course, but that's what I wrote!)

That's right. Last week my boys, the New Kids, were at the Mall of America and my BFF and I were too! It was a short show -- in the end that was fine...now I'm old and my feet hurt if I spend too much time standing in one place -- but it was a good one. And the guys look good too. They sang only one of the old songs (we were expecting at least a medley) which leads me to believe that they actually want to promote their new stuff.

The people watching was aMAZing. The big buttons were out. The tee-shirts were out. There were 35-yr-old women with double-strollers in tow, single 40-year-old men that kept making the loop around the rotunda, pissed-off managers at the QVC store, and Best Buy execs immensely pleased with themselves. And, I'm quite certain that we saw a few of the wives and kids.

Then: I had a crappy camera.
Now: I have a crappy camera.

The new kid

Even more exciting than seeing the New Kids live and in person was meeting the newest member of the family this weekend!

He's perfect. He's adorable.
He's perfectly adorable.

Welcome to the world, young Mitchell.


What I'm geeked about this week

Just had to share.

Pocket Mods is a site/tool that allows you to create little booklets. Currently, the tool includes templates such as calendars, check book registers, sudoku puzzles and dots boards, shopping and task lists, lined and graph paper, and even Morse code. Only downside is that you can't save it...yet.

Oh the possibilities... nice size grocery shopping list, financial registers, wallet-size sudoku puzzles, little geocaching log books, party favors, a great novel, or a magnificent octopus...

Page Packer offers a similar software that works especially well on the mac.


Behind the scenes: epistles and pissers

People often wonder what happens in the back room of a library (and behind the scenes of other businesses for that matter.) This is just one example...

A patron asked me for books that were written in the form of letters. My mind went completely blank of titles, naturally, but I told the patron (because I know him from previous transactions) that the term for this kind of fiction is epistolary fiction, and that if he had a couple of minutes, I would bring some books and/or titles to him. He did, and I did.

Pretty soon my colleagues and I were in the back room, discovering the correct pronunciation of epistolary (epistle is pronounced i-pi-səl and epistolary, pronounced i-ˈpis-tə-ˌler-ē, keeps the "t" sound), discussing the etymology of the word epistle, listing words that share the root epi, and touting the benefits of studying Greek and Latin.

Because we kept saying "epistle" over and over, one of my colleagues started to wonder about the word "pisser" and piss clams (soft shell clams). That naturally led us to browsing the Urban Dictionary.

Yup. Bunch a nerds.

But do they have nerd in them? Or am I rubbing off on them?


Tall ships: a review

This past weekend the DH and I joined my mother in a trip to Canal Park in Duluth to tour the "tall ships." The lines were so long that in the end we only toured one of the three, the U.S. Brig Niagara, but the three of us agreed that it was definitely worth the wait and the thirty-five bucks. The three ships were reconstructed based on 1812-era brigs and schooners, but are more than just historical museums. The Niagara, for example, is a sailing school vessel. They each have modern navigation systems and power, but not modern amenities -- like showers.

In addition to feeding my mild fascination with life at sea, the ships prompted me to think about a few other issues as well. Issues such as...

The War of 1812. The United States declaration of war against the British was issued in part due to the British practice of stopping US trade ships from doing business with France, and in part due to British practice of "impressment" - taking US citizens as Royal navy crew. The fact that the British were arming Native Americans with weapons to defend themselves didn't sit well with the Americans at the time either.

Ship design. It never occurred to me that the masts would be built at an angle. They are not perpendicular to the floor of the ship as I had thought they would be.

. There was so much rope -so much rope- tied in so many different knots on the ship! Forget navigating the ship -- simply keeping track of the different knots and trying to prevent rope burn would be enough to keep me occupied.

Naval designations. Today's naval ships are simply designated USS (United States Ship) to indicate it is part of the navy, but in 1813 "ship" meant a vessel with three masts. The other rigs' names were included in their naval designation (frigate, schooner, sloop, brig, etc.) to indicate which type of vessel the ship was. So that's how we end up with "US Brig Niagara."

Scurvy. I noticed a huge bag of oranges in the crew quarters. I guess scurvy is still a concern, or at least vitamin deficiency. Incidentally, the crew quarters are teeny tiny. Each member had to fit all their personal belongings in a single canvas bag. We had to duck the entire time we were on the berth deck.

It was cool.


Home Sweet...oh, whatever

Trivia about my state comes up from time to time - especially when we are doing a Minnesota display at the library, or when state assignments are due in the local schools. State symbols often come up in the discussion.

And, I like to think that I know them when I see them. But, I have to see them in order to know that I know them when I see them. You follow?

State symbols I have seen in person, and know that I would know them when I saw them: the bird (loon), the photograph ("Grace"), the butterfly (Monarch), the drink (milk), the fish (walleye), the flag (blue flag with Minnesota seal on it...), the grain (wild rice), the muffin (blueberry), and the song ("Hail! Minnesota," but only because the words hail and Minnesota are in the song).

State symbols I have seen in person, but might need it to be labeled somehow: the fruit (honeycrisp apple - my palate is not sophisticated enough to distinguish it from other sweet apples), the gemstone (agates...they could look like something else if I saw one that wasn't along the north shore, maybe), and the mushroom (morel).

State symbols I have not seen in person, but am confident that I would recognize it anyway: the flower (ladyslipper). I mean, come on.

State symbols I have not seen in person, but thought I did: the tree (Norway pine).

Over the weekend, I was CERTAIN that the trees along the boardwalk on Madeline Island were norway, or red pines. The bark had a slight reddish tint to it, I swear, but when I looked at my photographs to prove it, I cannot honestly say that there are only two needles per cluster (a trait of the red pine), and the pine cone shape more closely resembles the white pine. The branches started much lower than 2/3 up the tree, which is another way to identify my state's pine. Also, the little shops on Madeline boast furniture and other wood work made from white pine.

Trees of Wisconsin: Red Pine and White Pine (University of Wisconsin Green Bay)
Leaf Tree ID Key (University of Wisconsin Stevens Point)


"Dude! I saved you a flush!"

Myth: Saving a flush for the stranger behind you in the diviest of dives is welcome.
: Men should never say "Dude, I saved you a flush" to each other as they are coming out of the bathroom.

The DH and I joined Amanda and Cory on Madeline Island for a night this weekend, and after a few fun-filled hours at Tom's Burned Down Cafe (a sight you have to see to believe) my husband finally had to break the seal. He was greeted by the man coming out of the restroom with these words, and presumably, by something else.

: Lagoons are where mermaids live, or at least, tend to look like the blue lagoon.
: Lagoons are shallow bodies of water separated from the larger body of water by a natural barrier or some sort, like a sand spit.

Although it doesn't look like what I imagine a lagoon to be, the Big Bay lagoon (part of the Big Bay Town Park) is so beautiful - with trees and plants that have survived harsh living conditions, the nature is gorgeous. It was a large bay when the island reappeared after the last glacier 15,000 years ago. What makes it a lagoon, as opposed to a bay or a pond or a river, is the sand spit (created by the waves over the years) that separates it from the lake. I think.

Myth: Traveling with friends is a good idea.
Fact: Traveling with friends is a great idea!

Seriously. You guys are the best. We wouldn't have wanted to see the island any other way.