There was one author I wanted to meet...

...and today I (and over a hundred other fans including the DH) met him!

Dear Readers, the awesome John Green. I had the pleasure of meeting him behind the scenes, as well as hearing his presentation and listening to a reading from his soon-to-be-released new book.

Granted, I met him for only a teeny tiny second, but a) I had to get control of my giddiness before I could introduce the person who was going to introduce him, and the best way to do that was to join my colleagues who were in conversation with him, but b) it was great to hear him talk about how well he knows his audience.

He is a great storyteller and has such a cool way of expressing himself about everything - what makes a great book, what his writing and vlogging lives are like, what it means to truly and actively participate in..well, life. And funny. Oh, so funny.

BTW, I'm with my awesome library girl in the second photo. She wrote the introduction to get the program started, and it was pure awesome. She had everyone, including the author, roaring with laughter.

It was a wonderful day at the library.

First Photo Credit: Joanna R. Check out the rest of her pictures from the day!

And our resident meteorologist is....

...Kat! ME!

Not really, but my colleagues were getting a kick out of listening to me answer various questions about lightning and lightning rods as they relate to houses yesterday, and dubbed me the resident meteorologist. Just give me a green screen and a teleprompter...but mostly the teleprompter... and I am *ready*.

How many people are struck by lightning?
In 2005, according to Statistical Abstract of the United States, there were 32 deaths and 309 injuries. (I discovered later that the National Weather Service does break their hazard statistics down by state, location, age and gender. Everyone was outside, and the majority of deaths were people who were in the open).

Do lightning rods help protect my home?
From the National Weather Service, lightning rods will not prevent your building from being struck. They actually INCREASE it by making your house TALLER. The purpose of the lightning rod is to direct the current from the lightning to the ground along a preferred path instead of to the house. However, this works only if the rod is connected to the ground with heavy gauge wire.

How should I protect my house?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a number of suggestions to protect the equipment and the people inside houses, including staying off of corded phones, refraining from leaning against concrete walls, avoiding contact with your plumbing units, and unplugging your appliances before the storm arrives.


Thursday: A random sample

Just another day at the library...

Monks of New Skete
The monks' method of dog training is quite popular, and I have seen the books before, but when people ask for the books or the videos, it sounds like they are saying "do you have that dog book by Munskov Nuskit?" (or something Russian) to my ears.

A note about the videos -- seems like the monks are kind of ticked about something -- they no longer own the rights to the videos it seems (did they ever?) and have a stern note on their website: If you have placed an order for the videos with any other company or concern, we can make no representation about the service you will receive or if you will even receive the videos that you order. (Emphasis mine). Yyyyyouch!

Continuity Editors
Did you know that there are people whose job it is to check for inaccuracies and ensure consistency in series? What a cool (and tough) editing gig! (I'm not saying that a child could do this job) every young reader I know notices when there is inconsistency in their favorite series, and they can be quite vocal about it. (Story found via LISNews. I do, on occasion, have a chance to read through some library blogs at work.)

The Ramayana is an ancient epic poem of India, and, along with the Mahabharata is considered a sacred text of the Hindu religion. Apparently, there are parallels between The Ramayana and The Iliad. I leave it to you, dear readers, to find them.

Autologous stem cell transplants
Ugh. Basically, this means that the transplant procedure uses stem cells from your own body, rather than a donor. A patron wanted a specific article from PubMed. I had not used PubMed before (that I can remember, at least. Other resources from the National Library of Medicine? sure!), and I am here to report that it is not intuitive - particularly when it comes to linking to the full text. And (this is the part where it isn't always fun to be a librarian) I don't particularly want to figure it out. I will, I'm sure, but I'm resisting it. I think my three weekends of learning to use DIALOG will come in handy, though.

A word that I know to mean "to shout" or "to yell", but I could not find it in a dictionary for the patron who wanted it. I checked the American Heritage (my second favorite), the Random House and the Dictionary of American Slang we have on hand at my library, as well as the Roget's Thesaurus (under yell), and online at various dictionary sites. The only place I could find it was at Urban Dictionary (which is an awesome community-written dictionary).

It was kind of bothering me, so I did some more looking around when I got home. I checked my Oxford American English Dictionary (my favorite) (no luck) and did some more simple googling. Webster's Online Dictionary (no affiliation with RandomHouse or Merriam-Webster, it seems to be a personal project) says that beller has been in use in the English language since the 1800s, and that it might be a cognate of bellen, which is German for "bark." They also quoted its usage in Lady and the Tramp (Trusty: And if I remember correctly...they beller a lot.)

My favorite lexicographer, Erin McKean, wrote about using words that are not in the dictionary for the Boston Globe last month, and said that "instead of being defensive, demand that any who dare to quibble over your use prove that your word is, in fact, not a word. In short, if it seems wordish, use it. No apologies necessary."

So, I'll just chillax about the bellering for now.


"Everyone knows the Spiegel Act"

These were the words spoken to me by a patron who appeared to be rather frustrated when it took me more than 37 seconds to find an encyclopedia article on The Spiegel Act.

Turns out, we were looking for the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, commonly known as The Banking Act of 1933 (which we found approximately 23 seconds later. We were able to pull a few encyclopedia articles on the original act, as well as its repeal in 1999.)

The GSA was essentially an overhaul of the federal banking system - something much needed after the financial crisis the late 1920s/early 1930s. One of the major changes was the separation of commercial and investment banking -- commercial banks (that were members of the federal banking system) could not invest their money in the stock market (except for certain types of debt securities). This mandated separation was apparently repealed in another piece of legislation known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of 1999.

As part of the Banking Act of 1933, Congress also established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits and "maintains the stability and public confidence in the nation's financial system." I have to admit, I've never really paid attention to the FDIC before, but they maintain a well organized and extremely informative website. Generate reports on the current state of the banking industry and learn about insured deposits to your heart's content.

By the way, I kept bumping into the comptroller of currency (not literally, of course) while reading about this stuff. A comptroller is a "public official who audits government accounts and sometimes certifies expenditures." Now you know.


Dudes...I been scraped

Two weeks ago I got an email from my friend Ann letting me know that she got a pingback on her blog from someone who full on copied one of my blog posts (in which I linked to Ann) and pasted it into their blog. This is called scraping, people, and it's not cool.

Kat's Adventures in Copyright Infringement

1. I freaked out a bit, and wrestled with a few overwhelming emotions. Why me? What if my taking action opens a bigger can of worms than I want to deal with? Remember that time when you were seven and you didn't confront the older kids who stole your bag of salt water taffy and how lousy you felt? Isn't it ironic, given how you feel about the ramifications of the DMCA, that you now use procedures outlined by the DMCA to deal with this? This would be flattering if it wasn't an automated process...little ol' me and my little ol' oranges and peaches blog worthy of being copied...too bad.

2. I thought back to what little I learned about copyright in Library 101. The only thing that really stuck was that only the copyright owner can file a copyright notice. Since I figured I would never *be* that copyright owner, I must have tuned out. The other thing that stuck is that one does not need to mark their work with a copyright notice in order to hold the copyright. But, I figured I should read Blogger's Terms of Service -- just in case I have to prove that this is my original content.

3. I read about how other people handled it when their content was lifted. There are some excellent sites that have outlined the steps to take when content has been scraped. I consulted One Cool Site and Lorelle, but there are lots of sites out there.

4. I found out as much information about the site as possible. WhoIs provides domain registration information. Since there was no contact information on that page, I clicked on the IP address and was able to determine which company was hosting the site. I also browsed through that company's AUP, or Acceptable Use Policy -- mainly for kicks, but also because I learned that every ISP has one.

5. I contacted abuse@theISPcompany.com to report the offending site. "I believe someone who is using your hosing services is scraping content from my blog. According to whois.arin.net, this IP address (xx.xxx.x.xx, www.url.net) is registered to [your company]. My original blog posts (urls) have been lifted in their entirety here (urls) without attribution or my permission. If this is your customer, and if you're able to do anything about this matter, please contact me. Blah blah blah." Just a note - It is not in my nature to use the official- and harsh-sounding language suggested in other copyright notice form letters I came upon. And, the DH (who responded to this kind of stuff when he worked at a local ISP) gave me permission to tone it down a bit. Just so we're clear, I did not write blah blah blah in my email though.

6. I contacted Google AdSense to notify them that one of their customers is scraping my content. I received a follow up email with instructions on how to submit my request in writing.

And, that my friends, is Kat's Adventure in Copyright Infringement sans results. Tune in next week for Kat's Adventures in Finally Locating and Killing that Damn Cricket in Her Basement.


Who's a good Samaritan?

Note: I can't help but read the title of this post in baby- or puppy-talk. "Who's a big girl?" "Who's the cutest puppy in the whole wide world?" "Who's a good Samaritan?"

My colleague came back from AED training the other day, and said something about good Samaritans that made me wonder -- is anyone, provided they act in good faith toward someone who needs help in an emergency, covered by the Minnesota Good Samaritan Law?

Yyyyyyesss! This is the opportunity I've been waiting for to read through various legal websites! Huzzah!

There's the duty to assist part, that charges bystanders at the scene of an emergency with a petty misdemeanor for failure to "give reasonable assistance" to a person "exposed to or has suffered grave physical harm shall" (unless said assistance would place said bystander in peril).

Then there's the immunity from liability part, where a non-professional-medical-type person can "render emergency care, advice, or assistance at the scene of an emergency" without worrying about liability. This is the part where "person" is defined as "volunteer firefighter, volunteer police officer, volunteer ambulance attendant, volunteer first provider of emergency medical services, volunteer ski patroller, and any partnership, corporation, association, or other entity."

None of those are me.

I suspect that the law is intended to encourage the regular person to help people, and if I'm the only other person in the room with a defibrillator and a person having a heart attack, that I, as a layperson, would be covered under this law in both the duty to assist and the immunity from liability if I do assist that person. But, that's just me. Or is it...

Legal Resources

Find Law
Probably the first place I would go if I really needed to find something.

Law Help MN
A collection of links to outside sources that summarize the law. A project of four legal services organizations. Nothing about good Samaritans in the search box.

The Law Library
Contains an abundance of Internet legal resources, including a full-text search of court opinions since May of 1996. Good reads, and there are a few about good Samaritans in there.

Law Moose
An easy to use, well organized site that pulls information from many legal sites into one, and uses something called MooseBoost (which sounds like their metadata system) to effectively search the site. (Refers to the public edition). While "good Samaritan" is not a topic on its own, the keyword search seems to work pretty well.


Are we sure English is her native language?

Maybe I don't read as much as I think I do.

That is the only explanation I can think of for the fact that I've spent years casually wondering what this special "brass tax" law, or code, or whatever is all about. Since anyone who has ever used that phrase in my presence was clearly talking about something tax-related, I can only presume that I naturally tuned out whatever they might have been saying.

I heard reference to the "brass tax" again at the meeting I attended yesterday (which did happen to be tax-related), and decided (as I'm trying to become the money person I know I can be) to figure out once and for all what this tax program is all about.

Dear Readers, (and, I recognize that I have only myself to inform here...) brass tacks is an idiom. It means "to start talking about the most important or basic facts of a situation."

You know, get down to business, as in "we've gotta talk about the brass tacks, here. Kat has poor command of key idiomatic expressions, and now everyone knows."

Or, at least, now her mother knows.


One missing piece of crucial information

I'm all about becoming a money person lately. To me, this means understanding our accounts, paying attention to and searching for ways to save dollars here and there (like trading time for fitness, utilizing the flexible spending account, etc.), and keeping track of spending. You know, stuff along those lines.

To that end, I've taken small steps to pay attention and be active. (And, I am talking small steps, here). In the last few months I have organized a filing cabinet and actually read through what I was filing, actually read our insurance policies and considered their costs, actually read my benefits statement from work, met with our financial dude after actually reading our statements and asked questions rather than just saying "oh, okay," and started checking in once in awhile at Yahoo Finance. Boring, small steps, but necessary stuff.

So, operating in this gung-ho mode I decided to actually attend a benefits-related meeting this morning on the health care savings plan. I got there a minute after they started, but I jumped right into learning mode. I learned about the plan (that contributed funds are invested in the stock market but that I could diversify as I saw fit, that the employer would not have to pay FICA taxes on those funds, that if a percent of the salary is contributed, the percentage of the employer's contributions to the 401 plan would be affected), thought about tax implications, started doing mental calculations, etc.

And I'm thinking I did a pretty good job in my newly formed vision of myself as "money person."

Oh, and that missing piece of crucial information? That fact that was mentioned in the first minute of the meeting before I got there, and presumably mentioned in the emails announcing this meeting?

The meeting was for non-unionized people, i.e. NOT ME.

Oooooo, I was ticked at myself. I needed that hour and a half to plan storytime! One of my coworkers said that I might have to do this plan at some point, so it isn't completely wasted time. And I did get a blog post out of it, so...



Quick! If someone asked you for Plato's Origin of Love, would you know what dialogue they are referring to?

Time's up. Someone asked me for this story yesterday, and I found myself in a situation where I thought I should know the answer, but didn't.

(And, I refrained from asking her if she meant Darwin's
Origin of Species. You know, given my blog title... okay, yeah. You get it).

Plato's The Symposium is a dialogue between Aristophanes, Socrates and a bunch of others in which they discuss the philosophical and intellectual properties of Love, and lament the fact that there are no love songs in their day (something that has since been rectified many times over). So much has been written about it already, and given that I only skimmed it last night, I cannot give it it's proper due.

But, I will share the thoughts running through my head as I jumped around the text last night.
  • I don't think I've actually read anything that Plato wrote before.

  • Humor has come a long way since then. The funniest thing happened...Plato (uninvited to the house of Agathon) walked in first, and Socrates (the guest) stayed behind for a minute and was nowhere to be seen. Crack me up.

  • They sure do take a lot of time to decide whether drinking is the first order of business or not. How different is that from what we do today? The first question I usually have is "what are you going to have"? (They finally decide drinking is not their primary objective, and let everyone drink as much or as little as they chose. Wise choice.)

  • Hmmmm...Green Melange Tea from the Tea Source is still my favorite.

  • My favorites of their observations are:
    • Open loves are held to be more honourable than secret ones (no secret love affairs, people)

    • in the pursuit of his love the custom of mankind allows him to do many strange things...and he will not be judged harshly by his friends for doing weird stuff in the name of love. (True. I tend to stand by my people when they have new crushes or boy troubles.)

    • If the object of one's affections turns out to be a jackwad, the person who is deceived is off the hook, for if he is deceived he has committed a noble error. For he has proved that for his part he will do anything for anybody with a view to virtue and improvement. (Don't give up! It's not you, it's him!!)

  • Oh, geez. Now they're going into elements, and seasons, and something else.

  • I wonder if Plato and his chums could relate to the girls of Sex and the City.

  • Interesting...they cure their hiccups by sneezing. And then they laugh about it.

  • I really like my "shhhh...I'm reading" mug from Barnes and Noble. I wonder if they make a "shhhh...I'm blogging" mug. (a few minutes of browsing through cafe press later) Not exactly, but they do have a lot of blog-related mugs.

  • Oh, lord. Now Aristophanes is describing the original three sexes - man, woman, and man and woman melted into one. Don't they have another party to go to? How much more of this is there? (See The Origin of Love from Hedwig and the Angry Inch for a description of this).

  • No wonder I didn't finish reading Brideshead Revisited before it was due back at the library. I'm easily distracted by stuff I find on the Internet. Okay. Back to The Symposium. I've made it this far, and have to finish. It would be much easier if I didn't have 8 pounds of perfect (my cat) crawling all over me...
And so on. There's a reason I never took a philosophy class, people.


Bowling lexicon: that's what she said

I was impressed with the amount of bowling terminology that was being tossed about by my friends the other night. (We *were* at a bowling alley, and two of the group are members of a league, so the bowling talk wasn't completely unexpected.)

Anyway, I decided it was time to get up to speed with the bowling lingo.

Bad Rack
Definition: A full set of pins that appears to have one or more not properly positioned; generally undesirable.
Usage example: It's not me, this lane has a bad rack. I can't seem to knock down the 7-pin.

Bed Posts
Definition: The 7-10 split
Usage example: Those damn bedposts are killing me.

Body English
Definition: Movements and contortions of the body intended to steer the ball as it travels down the lane.
Usage example: Body English may work in Wii Bowling, but in regular bowling standing at the foul line pointing with your head or your fingers and yelling at the ball to "go that way!" does not yield the desired result.

Definition: German word for bowler
Usage example: I thought a kegler was someone who regularly throws keg parties. But no, we were bowling next to some keglers, easily identifiable by their speaking in German.

Definition: A 1996 movie staring Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray
Definition: A Marvel character, a common thug turned criminal mastermind with no superhuman powers, and hired a sniper to take out Peter Parker.
Usage example: I think *someone* should dress as Kingpin for Halloween, but wear a bowling pin costume with a crown on top. :)

Definition: Throwing the ball in the air beyond the foul line
Usage example: Can you see that huge dent in the head of the lane where B's ball landed? She's a lofter, that one.

Open Frame
Definition: A frame having neither a spare or strike.
Usage example: Of the twenty frames I threw, sixteen of them were open frames.

Definition: Three consecutive strikes
Usage example: According to some, a turkey is cause for a round of wild turkeys.

Bowling Terminology Resources
The website that provides "community, content and commerce."

The official site of the Professional Bowlers Association


A walking dictionary, and he's mine

Note: Parking around the corner of 26th and Lyndale is not always easy to come by on a Friday night. So, when I spotted a smallish opening, I went for it demonstrating once again my excellent parallel parking skills. I was focused on not hitting he car in front of me, but the DH was thrown by something else...the name of the car. We parked behind a VW Toureg.

The DH: That's a strange name for a car
Me: I guess...
The DH: A tuareg is a camel walker
Me: What?
The DH: They're people in Africa who lead camel caravans.
Me: You're a word nerd
The DH: Maybe VW is trying to say something about their gas mileage, if camels store water and can go long distances, maybe this thing can do the same with gas.

Well, no - it doesn't. But I still think it's a nice name for the car, however misleading.


Theremins: look ma, no hands!

The DH is...can I say obsessed?...with Dragonforce. (Thank you, Guitar Hero). I sat down with him tonight to watch "the making of" DVD that came with the most recent album. Now, I've actually started to enjoy the music (although, not at 7am) and quite enjoyed listening to them talk about their stuff.

Then! This one guy pulls out a theremin (minute 4:07) and incorporates the sounds into their album. I'm quite impressed...with myself for knowing what it was.

The theremin (pronounced thair uh minn) is a musical instrument that is played by controlling the electromagnetic field between two metal antenae with your hands. For more information and a demonstration, check out this TED talk. There is one on display at the Bakken Museum near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Check it out!

And while I'm sitting here pleased with myself for knowing what the theremin is, I'd like to take this moment to point out that several years ago, I also knew that the instrument Sting used during the performance of You Will Be My Ain True Love was the hurdy-gurdy.

Hey, since I mostly admit what I don't know, a few posts about what obscure things I do know now and then can't hurt.


Word Nerds

I love being part of a word family. So, this is a shout out to my mom, aunts and uncles -- you're a bunch of word nerds, and you're awesome.

A new vocabulary word


either a par of uprights that can be swung out over the side of a ship for lowering or raising a small boat; or
a crane in a ship's bow, formerly used to raise or lower the anchor

A demonstration of a modern hydraulic davit system can be seen here.

Resources for Word Nerds

Word Nerds
A podcast about words, language, and why we say the things we do.

World in Words
Another podcast about language, with political analysis of how we use language across the globe. From PRI's The World.

Confusing Words
A growing database of English words that are often misunderstood or misused. Or just confusing.

Online Etymology Dictionary
As it sounds, a site that explains the roots of words.

Free Rice
For every vocabulary word you define correctly, they donate 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program. (I've been playing off and on since November, so I've probably mentioned this before).


Put it on a stick to increase its awesomeness factor

Breakfast: Key Lime Pie on a Stick
Early Morning Snack: Pronto Pup on a Stick
Mid-Morning Snack: Garlic Stuffed Olive on a Stick
Lunch: Fresh French Fries
Early Afternoon Snack: Deep Fried Cheese Curds on a Stick (a mistake, btw)
Desert: A Martha's Cookie (thanks, Amy!)
Early Afternoon Beverage: Draft Root Beer Float
Mid Afternoon Beverage: Honey Weiss (we ran into Matt and Amy, Joe and Jane! Of course we'd have a beer together!)

The only time I publish a food journal is my annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Sure, I go for the huge pumpkins, newborn piglets, honey bees, huge smelly cows, beautiful horses, quilts, radio stations and people watching too, but the food...the food is an experience that I a) don't want to miss, and b) don't want to experience more than once a year. I wasn't smart about it this year, though. I didn't do my usual prep work, and I missed out on the chocolate covered bacon (aka pig lickers) strong enough to tempt even the most veggie of vegetarians.

A few other highlights...

Al Franken
We stopped to listen to Al Franken give a smart and passionate speech about his vision of and for Minnesota and the country. He took care to point out that there's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed with what's right with America, which is refreshing during this season of "look at the mess the other guy made."

A Bernina test drive
I test drove the dreamiest sewing machine ever. I knew that Bernina makes a superior sewing machine (and learned that some models operate Windows), but had never used one. Oh, it was lovely. So smooth and smart and perfect. And I walked away with a Bernina Breeze on a Stick.

My first bu
tterhead sighting
I won't question this tradition. I guess I never wandered into the dairy building before, and was secretly hoping that the butterheads were urban state fair myth, but they do exist.

And in other news, the McCain booth looked pretty wimpy and pathetic. Of course.

Well, until next year...