Thursday, August 30, 2007

One of the books I worked with today was Snog the Frog. Can you guess what it's about?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Search engine fatigue

Rollyo is a tool that lets you create a search engine that will search only trusted websites on a particular topic of your choosing. All you have to do is add whatever websites you want to a list, name the search engine, and you're good to go. For example, here' s a link to Ainulindalë, which searches several J.R.R. Tolkien-related websites.

We're supposed to create our own search engine, but I have to think about that one; we don't need to add my half-hearted attempt right now. Rollyo seems to work well for those searches that are specific, like the Tolkien example above, or the Mr. Fix-It! search engine. I explored a knitting pattern search engine, and the results were awful--too many blog posts, not enough actual patterns.

For most of the search engines I explored, I kept thinking: I could just google it, and get quicker results! However, Rollyo would work well for people who know exactly what websites they trust and want to search only those, like reference librarians or educators. I personally tend to like the serendipitous nature of google--you just never know what you'll find.

Maybe I'll make a meat goat search engine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A birthday

Yesterday was unusually packed full of activity (at least for me).

I woke up fully aware of my dream, which strangely coherent and chronological: we were all part of the Viking expedition to North America, exploring the coast land of Canada with Leif Ericsson.

Jenni, Autumn, & Sue came over in the morning. We went to Magee's for breakfast, chatted and watched Autumn squirming around in her stroller. She started doing seated rows with the plastic thing (whatchamacallit) that you can set sippy-cups and other whatnots on--so determined she was to put it in her mouth (or get her mouth on it).

We toured Waveland, which had the standard dining room with plastic representations of what they might have eaten back then. I always find those kinds of details amusing--like we're all playing make-believe.

After that, it was back to the house for BLTs and Miss Potter for a movie, though Autumn turned out to be the entertainment for us, squirmy little thing so determined to get to the coffee table, or the cat.

She can crawl now--hence the struggle for independence begins.

After that it was dinner with the Edwards, then dessert at the Greek Festival with entertainment provided by girls doing the hora.

Jon and I finished the night on an anti-climatic note looking for an antennae for his truck.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tom Brown's School days

Class starts in about half an hour. This will be my last class (hopefully).

I have been in school for about 23 years.

An odd sort of melancholy is settling over me; school has been like a younger brother to me (no offense intended, Ben). I disdain it on the outside, but secretly don't mind it so much. I hope this doesn't make me one of those professional "students" that make classes their full-time job.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The true university of these days is a collection of books.--Thomas Carlyle

I was quite pleased Kelly chose LibraryThing as one of the fun applications for Learning2.0 folks to play with. It's ridiculously fun for us bookish people.
My catalog is still a paltry 10 or so books--I'm sure it's getting quite boring to look at the random selection of books that LibraryThing inserts into my blog--but I plan to change that...when I have time. The limit for books is around 200, then you have to pay a lifetime membership nominal fee for more than that. I have over 1000 books, so I'm not quite sure I want to go that route.
What I love about LibraryThing is the Suggester tool, and its polar opposite, the UnSuggester tool. The Suggester tool is quite obvious--and works quite well, too. Once I start meandering through the links of suggestions, I forget what book started the journey.
For an idea of how the UnSuggester tool works, I input Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and the list of books that came back included:
-Brothers, we are not professional: a plea to pastors for radical ministry, John Piper
-Greek grammar beyond the basics: an exegetical syntax of the New Testament, Mr. Daniel B. Watson
-More ready than you realize: evangelism as dance in the postmodern matrix, Brian D. McLaren.
I'm a little curious about these results, since I actually own some wonderful books by Brian D. McLaren and <gasp> enjoyed reading them. I suppose they must think that all Christians view fantasy with disdain.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


A cicada hitched a ride with me on my errands yesterday. It perched on a windshield wiper like a jeweled ornament, bravely holding on in the buffeting winds while I drove.

According to wikipedia, the song of a cicada is used by filmmakers and animators as a "means of representing silence, pathos, and the great outdoors." (I got that from here ).

Never thought you'd learn something while reading this blog, I suppose?

Monday, August 13, 2007

The search for feeds

The only search engine for RSS feeds that I actually liked was Technorati. It actually works. I could limit my searches to actual blogs, rather than postings by everyone and his dog about the particular topic I was looking for. The other websites suggested, like Feedster and Syndic8, either froze on me or returned ridiculously long lists of results.
I used Technorati to search for Jane Austen-related blogs. (I just found a blog dedicated to the new movie Becoming Jane--further prove that I am a hopeless Austen addict in Dwain's opinion). This is probably the only time I'll use Technorati--I prefer learning about feeds and websites through word-of-mouth and things I read. I trust those sources more (word-of-mouth always takes you in cool new directions you would never have thought to take).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Our little systems have their day."--Tennyson, In Memoriam

Another reason why I love libraries...
The other day, I came across this book: Forensic Science: an encyclopedia of history, methods, and techniques. Its introduction was quite imaginative and engrossing, a far cry from the typical droning "Chapter one is about... Chapter two is about..." The author opened each section of his history with a quote from literature.
He started off the whole introduction with "The world's history is the world's judgment." (Friedrich von Schiller, Lectures, May 1789). In writing about how the Industrial Revolution led to the invention of some elaborately named construction that made forensic science possible, he quoted Shakespeare, "The brightest heaven of invention..." (from King Henry V). From there, it was but a leap to "By a set of curious chances..." (Gilbert, The Mikado), relating to the explosion of applied science discoveries in the 19th century.
"Turning to poison..." (Keats, "Ode on Melancholy") and "For the red blood reigns..." (Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale) opened sections on very obvious things that forensic science is interested in.
In discussing how research in other fields of science helped forensic science, the relevant quote was "The true university of these days is a collection of books." (Thomas Carlyle, "Heroes and Hero Worship Lecture V. The Hero as a Man of Letters") The dawn of the twentieth century merited the quote "Brave New World" (Aldous Huxley, title of his book). The section on increased sophistication in identification was introduced by "The American system of rugged individualism..." (Hoover, campaign speech, 1928). The ability to solve crimes long past due to biometrics (use of bodily evidence) had this curious quote "I have been looking for a person...all my life" (Sydney Smith, Memoir, Chapter 9), as well as this rousing Shakespearean one, "...summon up the blood" (King Henry V).
And for those of us who watch shows like Law & Order, "Rome has spoken; the case is concluded" (St. Augustine, Sermons, Book 1), which refers to the importance of case law in establishing what can be used as evidence.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I should not have shown a sign of weakness. The dark gods have pounced.

There is a baby cave cricket in the kitchen.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mammoth Cave

We went to Mammoth Cave this weekend. How wonderfully glorious to go underground on a wool-muggy day!

Here are some cave crickets. Back when we were living together, many many years ago, Jenni and I called them spidickets because we had no idea what they were. One time, the power went out; knowing what we would probably see, we turned on a flashlight and saw that 20-30 of these ugly thumb-length creatures had materialized out of the woodwork.

It puts me in mind of the goblins in the mines of Moira, and Gandalf calmly saying: "They are coming." That is how we felt just before turning on the flashlight.

A link to a previous post about this vile things...