Thursday, October 30, 2008

The things they write about

One of the reasons why I love ordering books for the library: I can subject people to intriguing reads like this book: The Big Necessity : the unmentionable world of human waste, and why it matters.

Not your typical Danielle Steele.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote on November 4th

Here's an interesting blog post about voting: My Personal 'Faith Priorities' for this Election, by Jim Wallis.

Instead of voting based on whether Obama is black, or Palin sounds dumb, or McCain looks old, we need to really think about what we expect from the next administration, and vote accordingly.

To learn more about Barack Obama, go to his website.

To learn more about John McCain, go to his website.

Those wanting to know the truth behind all the ads and claims that the candidates make should go to FactCheck which is a site that works to be a "nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics...[and] monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases."

Head over to google's 2008 US Voter Info website if you're not sure exactly where you need to go to vote.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A treatise on the curious nature of learned astronomers and other such esteemed gentlemen and the writings they espouse

We have access to a journal published in 1665. Philosophical Transactions is a lot of fun to browse, as the article titles are elaborately wordy and the articles themselves an intriguing read, not to mention the fact that you're looking at a digital replica of typeface from the late 17th century.

To give you an idea of what's in there, you can look at the article published by Edmund Halley in 1705 describing the comet that was named after him: "Astronomiae Cometicae Synopsis." You can't read it unless you know Latin, but, hey!, it's pretty darn cool.

Some other titles in there:

  • "The Description of a Monstrous Child, Born Friday the 29th. of February 1684. at a Village Called Heisagger, Distant about 4 English Miles from Hattersleben, a Town in South- Jutland, under the King of Denmark's Dominion, Communicated by Mr. Christopher Krahe, a Member of the Ecclesiastical Consistory and Provost of all the Churches Belonging to the Said Diocess"
  • "Two Letters Formerly Written to Mr. H. O, by Dr. M.L. Ist. concerning Some Very Aged Persons in the North of England. 2d. about the Projection of the Threads of Spiders, of Bees Breeding in Cases Made of Leaves, of a Viviparous Fly, and of Great Numbers of Maggots Observed at the Time of the Plague, A. D. 1666"
  • "Of a Place in England, Where, without Petrifying Water, Wood is Turned into Stone"

What's wrong with you, Indy?

I'm disappointed in the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The older movies had a sense of weight, tangible in the sense of the journey that Indy undertook in each of them, and we went along for the ride. The series was full of action/adventure drama and mystical overtones owing to the various searches for long lost artifacts, but I think it endures because it speaks to the curiosity in all of us, the need to know about something Other (whatever your religion, or lack thereof). Another reason for the popularity of the movies is the sense that we could do what Indy does, that the adventures he embarks on could possibly happen in real life.

This movie is just another action/adventure flick full of ridiculous fight scenes that could not logically happen in real life, and the search for the crystal skull is full of mumbo-jumbo that makes no sense to anyone who hasn't looked into the eyes of the crystal skull and communed with the extraterrestrial being within. Sure, we're all curious to know how ancient people could have achieved what they did without modern technology, but the movie's vague answer, that "Knowledge," granted from the aliens, is the reason (with no further elaboration, other than a character saying "They have gone into the space between spaces."), coupled with the focus on flashy special effects rather than a journey that Indy embarks on, makes for an overall silly movie that should never have stooped so low.

An interesting review over at Books & Culture: Indiana Jones and the Deadly Blather

Monday, October 27, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

I came across this title at work: American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb.

This reminded me of how sometimes I would think about what it would be like to live "back then," such as in Jane Austen's time. Then I would wonder what it would really be like if I was transported warts, hearing impairment and all, into the Regency era. I suppose, considering the fact that I've been hard of hearing (to the point that I am more likely to feel thunder, not hear it) since I was little, I would be considered dumb, especially if I did not have someone like Anne Sullivan to work with me. It's a sobering realization, especially just for daydreaming--I shouldn't be so literal in my imagination.

By the way, the title was changed to American Annals of the Deaf in 1886.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm cold

Deep autumn is here. The air is snappy and biting, no longer lazy with heat. This means sweaters and blankets, thick socks and soft scarves.

It also means that "cold as death" is around the corner. I use this term for that cold that gets into your bones, that you can't seem to shake unless you are standing in front of a bonfire. It's not necessarily limited to the dark winter months of the far north, where the wind howls for miles over the plains.

I freely admit that it's entirely subjective (to me). Jon finds this hilarious, he who can go outside in 50 degree weather with nothing on but a shirt and pants and be "on the cool side of comfortable".

I write this we're entering an uncertain period at the office--the span of time between when it first gets cold outside and when they turn the heat on inside--and it's "cold as death" in here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How many more books can there be?

LibraryThing now has more books cataloged than does the Library of Congress. While this is not a count of unique titles (Library of Congress still reigns supreme), this is still pretty impressive for a free social networking site.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Laura's short hair

Laura's short hair
Originally uploaded by ozimanndias8
Here's me and my hair.

We got a new camera, and have been playing around with it: me by taking way too many pictures of Pope, and Jon by actually tinkering with the bazillion buttons and controls that come with it.

One more thing

I forgot to add:

  • the abyss of hunger that sets in after the first two days on the trail, when eating a full-fledged meal is like tossing a pebble into a dry well

Monday, October 20, 2008

A list for hiking

Lest one think that I am somehow immune to the discomforts of hiking, I freely admit:
  • I don't like the grime that accumulates on my skin (especially in the recesses of my ears)
  • the sleeping pads we use are poor substitutes for a proper bed
  • how much I envy men the ability to go to the bathroom without having to remove an article of clothing
  • I despair at the sight of yet one more steep climb to make before reaching the day's end
  • the first couple of days, my legs are as stiff and creaky as an arthritic, stoop-backed old man
  • going downhill is worse than going uphill (seriously)
I do not list the rich aroma that hikers develop after days on the trail, simply because we do not notice it while we are in the backcountry.

Best things in life are free

Having a laptop and free wi-fi is awesome. Case in point:

Last week, I hung out in Jon's truck in the parking lot at Asbury College while he went to class for a couple hours. There was wi-fi in the area, so I was able to knock out an hour of work for my job while keeping the cat company in the truck. (Yes, the cat was in there with me, curled up on the driver's seat). When work was done, I watched youtube videos and trailers for various movies while night descended.

Stay tuned for stories and pictures from the Smokies (I have an adventure to relate)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Using our feet

We will be hiking along the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains. We'll start off hiking south from Clingmans Dome, then we'll double back and hike north to Charlies Bunion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Preparations for the journey

We're getting ready to hike the Smokies later this week. There is a bear sized pile of camping gear in the living room, which Pope investigates cautiously. Sometimes he sets off tiny avalanches of gear and flees wide-eyed, as if the hounds of hell are on his heels.

We have copious amounts of trail mix, which I know I will probably get sick of after the first day--which is strange, as I love nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I cut my hair.

It's quite short.

My hair is so thick, my head feels weightless without that mass to anchor it.

Stranger things in print

You can search Google's news archive for some interesting topics (the timeline can be a little misleading, as it uses dates from within the articles--which may not always be an accurate reflection of the publication date of a particular article):

Try the abominable snowman.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Google was once named BackRub. See their 10th birthday website.

Search Google in 2001

Our daily adventure

Our cat has learned about the outdoors. He slipped out the door this morning and was investigating the neighbor's porch while we frantically searched. Being me, I was already thinking of squealing tires and a limp form on the road.

He couldn't resist the lure of kitty treats, however.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cat on a motorcycle

Originally uploaded by dwain
A picture taken by my friend who is in the envious position of being in Greece for a long time.

KLA observations

I went to the Kentucky Library Association annual conference last week in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. It was for professional development, so just about everything was paid for--a perk that I am still getting used to.

The funny thing was--I didn't get as much out of it as I thought I would. Apparently, I'm not alone in thinking this. My colleagues told me and a fellow newbie to get used to that feeling.

The two sessions I enjoyed (out of a two day event) were "Next generation catalog landscape" and "Copyright in the library: painless solutions for the moderately squeamish." Absolutely fascinating for those of you outside the library world, I know; nonetheless, very enlightening for those of us that need to know.

I felt very much a "Generation-Y" person there, a youngish person in a sea of mostly grey-haired professional folk (I was wearing jeans alongside other folks smartly dressed in blazers and shiny loafers). My library is remarkably forward-thinking, especially as regards technology and the evolving paradigm embodied in "Web 2.0," so it was interesting to encounter folks who were reluctant to acknowledge the place that technology has in libraries, especially as our patron group is shifting as younger generations grow up. I understand this reluctance, even as I am impatient with it.