Monday, July 30, 2007

The Inscrutable Ways of Cats

Meet Oscar, the cat that can sense death.

Cats are as various as they come.

Our own Pope is quite blissfully, thoroughly full of himself. That appears to be his only skill.

Friday, July 27, 2007

RSS feeds

I like the idea of RSS feeds in theory, but I wasn't too sure about them in practice. I think this is because most of my web-surfing activity consists of checking a few, relatively static, websites regularly, with the occasional foray into speeding-bullet-updated websites. I'm not a a big news-checker on the web--seeing the daily news, glimpsing the occasional newspaper headline, and word-of-mouth does it for me--which is something that RSS feeds would work really well for.
But I went ahead and set one up, just to see what it's like. I've set up an account on Bloglines, and after the initial overwhelming, stumbling-around-the-website-tour, I got started. Jane Austen related blogs were my focus, since I knew I had to be interested in checking my feeds.
Since I know you're so curious, here's what I've subscribed to so far:
Austenblog...she's everywhere
Jane Austen's world
Books & Culture
Modestly Yours
Relevant Magazine
Tame the Web
EKU Library Learning 2.0
Dwain's blog

What I like about Bloglines so far is the ability to display items as far back as a month, or just one day ago. Being able to just click on a feed in the lefthand column is certainly quicker than typing in an URL. What I miss is getting the website experience--seeing the layout, the colors, the graphics that the creator put into creating their website. Kind of like how having the actual book in hand while you're reading it is preferable to reading bits and pieces on a computer screen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

St Vincent, Minnesota School

St Vincent, Minnesota School
Originally uploaded by Joan44
And here's another one. Dad (and Grandma)--is this the school you guys went to?

St Vincent, Minnesota flood (1955,56 or 57??)

The things you can find on!

I wanted to see just how broad a net Flickr casts in its photo coverage--apparently, it's quite thoroughly broad! I just found some photos from the area where my dad grew up--the little town of St. Vincent, MN, located in the northwest corner of Minnesota, several miles south of the Canadian border.

Here's a photo of the frequent floods in the area.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The places Flickr takes you...

Flickr has lots of applications that you can have fun with. Retrivr lets you create a sketch, and it will search Flickr for pictures that match that sketch. The results don't always seem to match your sketch, but who cares....they're still fun to browse!

While fiddling around with the Retrivr application, I stumbled across a picture taken by one of EKU's own librarians. The sweet little baby in the middle of the picture was taken by our own Cindi Trainor. I'm not sure how a clumsy sketch of an eye managed to pull up a baby, but the association is intriguing, nonetheless. The ways the internet can connect people!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It is finished

I finished the book yesterday. All 750-some pages. I got up with Jon around 6 AM, started reading it at 6:30 AM and finished it around 7:30 PM. It was like a mini-vacation for me, though I did have to take some breaks just to let my eyes readjust. With those breaks accounted for, it took about 8 hours to read.

If you can believe it, Jon was actually curious about how it ended!

The Harry Potter release party at JB was insane. I'm glad I went, just to see what it's like, but I can't remember the last time I was surrounded by a buzzing horde of excited teeny-boppers. There must have been hundreds upon hundreds of people there.

Lots of sweet little Harry Potters running around, with over-large glasses slipping down tiny noses, stumbling over their robes. There were even some duels going on, though Abbi and I thought that the point of wands was to cast spells, not hit people...

The older kids had some clever costumes. There was a whomping willow--the girl was dressed in filmy green fabric, with some leaves tucked into her hair, with a car hubcap hooked over her arm (you'll have to read Chamber of Secrets to know why). There was a portrait--a girl wearing a dress and holding a frame. There were plenty of snitches--one girl was wearing gold lame tights, yellow t-shirt, and wings (you'll have to find out about Quidditch to understand this). A lot of fun to observe.

All good things must come to an end.

Friday, July 20, 2007

At long last

The book comes out tonight!

If you can believe it, I'm planning on going to JB tonight and STAYING PAST MY BEDTIME until 1 AM to get the book.

My original plan of going in Saturday morning sounded too boring when Abbi regaled me with tales of Harry Potter release parties at JB.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I hope you've noticed the new addition to this blog. I remembered enough html to figure out exactly where to put the code for it in the rest of the code for the blog. I'm quite proud of myself, if I may say so.
This search engine is kind of like It allows you to search for books in libraries all over the place. It may even have more stuff contained in it than This is a service based on Worldcat, a database containing most (if not all) the records that libraries participating in it have ever created.
Kelly told me there was a movement among libraries towards using Localcat as their front-end catalog--a way to provide a more powerful search engine than what traditional (dinky) integrated library systems could offer.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Facebook, some reflections

Other than the fact that I feel like I'm back in high school (albeit a much more friendly version) with all these "adding friends" and "throwing sheep" and "casting spells" options, Facebook is kinda fun, though a little addictive. I don't think I'll find much use for it after the learning exercises are over, unless my friends keep in touch.

What I found particularly of interest was the various groups/networks one can join. This could be helpful for maintaining an informal relationship with your peers, such as OVGTSL or Kentucky Libraries. This is the only reason I think I will maintain a Facebook account.

It might be beneficial for a library to maintain an account on sites such as Facebook or MySpace, especially if their target audience is the younger generation. If it joined various networks to broaden its reach, this could help draw the attention of those people who might never otherwise set foot in a library. It's kinda cool to see a library demonstrate its technological finesse, particularly since the bookish stereotype of 'hallowed hall of learning' tends to make people think libraries are stuck in the past.

Lakes of the Clouds hut

Originally uploaded by jdebner
I've been here!

If you follow the trail back down to the hut and on past it, you will reach Mount Washington (hidden by the fog).

This is located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Jon and I could keep coming back every year and be gloriously happy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Saw The Book

I just saw The Harry Potter Book today.

I walked past piles of them--they were like waves of orange and red meandering along the conveyor belt (BWI has a large processing facility with conveyor belts that snake throughout the whole warehouse).

For half an hour, I sat next to 30 of them as Charles, one of the other catalogers, prepped them for delivery. It's a curious sensation to know that the conclusion of everything rests within those orange and red covers, and how easily I could reach out and flip to the last page. Yet my reader's instinct stays the irrational thought--I remain (oddly) coolly distant, knowing how much more delight I will get from reading all 784 pages.

Mom says I'm obsessive.

But considering how infrequently I get excited about things, I think we can let this slide. I thought of all the children feverishly waiting for 12:01 AM July 21st, knowing how much harder it would be for them to see so many books and not be able to touch them--part of my excitement is on their behalf.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SecondLife spoof

This is a hilarious spoof of SecondLife. (SecondLife is a virtual reality community where you can interact with other people, fly if you feel like it, build a home,'s become so big that librarians are actually staffing a virtual reference desk in it)

Who wants to throw sheep?

I've just visited MySpace and was reminded why I never developed my profile there. The sensation one gets from wading around that site is of a deer caught in the headlights. Where do you go? How do you get out? These questions are blindsided by the sheer volume of advertising on that site.

I managed to find a friend there, and the experience lightened up considerably, though it was still a little overwhelming. I was surprised at the difference between MySpace and Facebook. I thought the former would have as much, if not more, "stuff" going on, yet Facebook trumps MySpace in everything and manages to maintain a friendly user-interface. To see what I'm talking about, check out my account. Apparently, you can do silly things like throw sheep at people, too (I have not yet loaded that feature).

Whether I maintain my profile at Facebook depends on how much energy I want to invest in it, and whether I develop an actual community of people to interact with--it's not much fun if you're just posting messages to yourself. That's one thing to remember with all these cool new things developing on the internet: just what exactly can I use this for? I don't want to fall into the old trap I did when email was a new thing: checking it almost every hour, just in case.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Community and the American way of life

I'm reading Bill McKibben's book "Deep economy: the wealth of communities and the durable future." He says that we need to return to a more local community--supporting local farmers, keeping our money local--and we need to learn to get by with less (ie do you really need to buy the latest Martha Stewart kitchen appliance when the one you've got works just fine).
One thing that really struck me is his statement that the American way of life is not sustainable, much less so if the rest of the world is trying to attain our level of living. We humans may want it to be true, but the earth just can't keep up with our growing demands.
Is this true? At her talk, Barbara Kingsolver posited a similar stance, that we should strive to become "locavores"--eating locally--to help conserve the amount of oil that goes just into transporting food. She made the statement that "It's not a question of 'what if' the oil runs out, but 'when.'"
One disadvantage of being hearing impaired is waking up to cat puke on the bed, and knowing you slept quite peacefully through the process that got it there.

Pope has done it twice since we've moved to the new place.

Why he insists on vomiting on what little scraps of carpet or blankets we have scattered throughout the enormous space of easy-to-clean hardwood, we will never know.

Monday, July 09, 2007

One does not initially think of libraries and MySpace in the same sentence.

Yet it works. I've just looked at some examples of libraries creating pages on MySpace to reach out to their targeted communities (mostly teenagers/college students). What blew me away was the number of people who had "friend-ed" them--some libraries had over 1,000 friends listed on their profile pages. Clearly, they're doing something right.

I find this exciting because now libraries are starting to reach out instead of waiting for people to come to them. In this age of google, it's hard for patrons to see why they should bother coming to the library if they can just google everything. But the library is more than about finding information, it's about learning new things, being exposed to different ideas. It's a center of community, and now it is adding a virtual component to that community.

I think libraries need to remember that the key here is to maintain the page as other MySpace-ers do: shake it up, and keep up. Static pages are last century--MySpace is about networking, which means it's a two-way street: people will respond to you, and you need to respond back. Libraries also should talk about more than just what the latest books are in the collection--after all, books are but a part of the collection, no longer the main thing (though they remain so for me). Do they have what it takes to keep up, and maintain it?

Kelly makes a interesting point about social networking fatigue and wonders how it will affect the library's focus on providing quality service to their patrons. I think this is a valid concern to address--a library really needs to determine what will serve their patrons best.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver is a powerful, lyrical writer. Her book Prodigal Summer manages to slip you science lessons here and there without your knowledge--at the moment, all you know is that you are thoroughly immersed in the lush Appalachian life she weaves for you, able to hear the birds trilling, see the tan blur of a coyote, feel the honeysuckle in your hand.

Pope and the bogeyman

The cat jumped on my head last night right when I turned off the light and rolled over to go to sleep. I have the mark and blood to prove it.

My first thought was a mouse (Pope usually knows that claws+human skin=not good). But I didn't find anything except Pope crouched wide-eyed under the bed.

Which makes me uneasy for several reasons:
  1. if there was a mouse...I don't even want to go there
  1. it was something else
I am more attuned to Pope's behavior than most people--he's my hearing ear cat, if you will. So I notice when he reacts to things--like someone at the door, or the phone ringing--but I also notice when he gets startled, or starts staring at something, or is generally acting strange. Last night, he was staring at the door, as if there was something on the other side. Never mind that this apartment is new for the both of us, with its new sounds and nooks and corners, it was at night and we were alone with my overactive imagination and the knowledge that in stories and folklore, cats are able to see through the veil separating this world from the realm of the unknown--for instance, in Constantine, gaze into a cat's eyes long enough, and you will be transported to hell.

Yes, I am still afraid of bogeymen. In my defense, Sue is too, and we commiserate.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Web 2.0

EKU is doing a "class" of sorts for its staff, helping us all learn more about new technologies that feed into the Web 2.0 concept--things like RSS feeds, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, etc. The idea being that having staff in tune with the times will be especially beneficial since the people we are serving are so tech-savvy (college students, young people, young-er people (than me)). I am borderline Millenial/Gen I, or whatever that generation is, which means I should be tech savvy... yet reading a book still wins the day.

Anyways, they had us watch a very intriguing, inspiring video that really communicates what Web 2.0 is all about. ( have no idea how to make the video show up in this blog.)

Web 2.0 is increasingly about collaboration, about people reaching out to each other, sharing information, learning from each other, learning from the process. It also makes me think of Vannevar Bush's memex machine--a sort of intuitive machine that would work like the human brain does, forging connections between all sorts of things (like the way we associate memories with specific physical items, for instance--whenever I smell woodsmoke, I think of Grandpa N.; whenever I see Mr. Darcy's name in print, I immediately think of Colin Firth, etc.), allowing us to manipulate it in an intuitive way, following connections here and there.

What does this mean for libraries? I have no idea--who knows how the internet works? No one is quite sure where it will go next. I never thought about blogs until I read a friend's blog--now I can't live without it. I never thought about RSS feeds, but now I see they are a neat way to keep up with the news, with new posts to blogs. This is all quite new and still changing (a process that will never end)--something that libraries are not used to. They are used to remaining still, to gathering information and cataloging it and putting it on the shelf and having it remain in one spot on that shelf so that when someone comes in asking for it, they can be taken to that one spot. The internet is quite different. You can't be sure that information will still be there in that one spot--which makes it a challenge to provide access to it (cataloging/tagging) and find it (reference).

Which means we are either in for a fight, or in for an exciting time. Which will it be?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dr. Russell Arben Fox gleans clues from the cover of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one of which involves the mysterious veiled arch that we see in the Order of the Phoenix.
The countdown begins for the last Harry Potter book...

Lots of rumors are flying about what will happen: will Harry die? Whose side is Snape really on? How will Voldemort be defeated? and so on and so forth. I've read some intriguing guesses about what will happen, from predictable places like the Leaky Cauldron, and from not so predictable places like Books & Culture--Alan Jacobs muses over what might happen.

I am starting to seriously suspect that Harry will die--that he will willingly sacrifice his life to completely and utterly destroy Voldemort. What makes me lean this way, however reluctantly, is the fact that I've just read a quote from JK Rowling:

"Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books." (Wyman, Max. " 'You can lead a fool to a book but you can't make them think': Author has frank words for the religious right," The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), October 26, 2000)

Other people are afraid of this, and of how it will affect the kids who have grown up with Harry. There are even articles out there counseling parents on what to do and say should Harry die. I don't see the need to worry so much--kids are tougher than we think, or are willing to admit.
We are officially at the new place.

The past couple weeks have been a blur of moving endless boxes and cleaning (most of it involving attacking Pope's relentless fur --Jon & I have a theory that when we've vacuumed up every bit of wisp of fur we see, Pope's body will spontaneously emit a new round of fur balls, like a walking time bomb of sorts), and a lot of things have been neglected, like this blog.

I'm still settling in, getting used to light switches in different places and a gas stove and windows on the first floor--not only can we look out, but people can look in. Pope has discovered a new source of entertainment--birds pecking on the grass right outside our living room window. We're no longer in the trees, where he could watch squirrels bounding from branch to branch.