Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Happy and Safe Holiday Season

(Crossposted to Alchemical Thoughts)

Soon, I will be taking some time to rest and spend with family. We celebrate Christmas, but people at this time are also celebrating other holidays such as Hannukah and Kwanzaa. So, whichever holiday you are moved to celebrate, may it be a safe and happy one. To give readers a small gift before the holiday, here are a few links and items that may be of interest.

Readers can look over my post last year for the holidays. At the rate this is going, I may make a holidays post an annual tradition. Last year, I offered the legalistic holiday greeting, which I am sure you may want to use for those situations when you just want to cover all the bases. Here it is again:

From Your Lawyer Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

I think that should about cover it. Moving right along, the Census Bureau always comes through with one of their Facts for Features releases. Here is the one for the Holiday Season. Among some of the interesting facts:

  • $485 million
    The amount of money the nation’s Christmas tree farmers received from tree sales in 2005. Oregon was the top state in tree sales ($126 million), followed by North Carolina, Washington and Michigan. (Source: USDA Economic Research Service at <>)
  • $3.2 billion
    Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by manufacturers in 2004.

While talking about toys, Radar Magazine has a feature for the 10 Most Dangerous Toys of all Time. For some, this may be a ride down memory lane. I had no idea at one point you could buy a small atomic energy lab; it's number 2 on their list. A hat tip to Stephen's Lighthouse.

In our home, we will be tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. You can keep track of the jolly man with NORAD's Santa Tracker. I wrote a note about it in my post last year. We will also be baking cookies for Santa, and we will make sure he has a good bottle of Coke to wash those cookies down. We figure the man wants a cold non-alcoholic beverage since he is driving, and he may want some variety from the usual milk. The reindeer will get carrots as well.

We have managed to put our tree up this week, a bit on the late side, but it has been a busy month in our neck of the woods. Unlike last year, the cats, who are no longer kittens, seem a bit more mellow about the tree. At this point, they have only knocked it over twice, which is definite improvement. However, the decorations are not faring as well, and the tree looks different pretty much by the hour as we put things back on it. We hope to spend Christmas Day at home, and the day after we'll be heading out of town to Fort Worth to see family. The university closes next week, so might as well take some of that time and travel a little. The better half actually managed to get some time off, so woo hoo. Actually, today is the last day we are open prior to the holiday. We will open again on January 2nd, 2007.

For more holiday season humor, please take a look at the collection of links compiled by The Laughing Librarian. Among other things, the Laughing Librarian points to a letter pointing out the real reason for Christmas (not for those who may offend easily, but a favorite of mine), you can pimp my nutcracker, and you can take the Christmas Carol quiz.

And while on the topic of quizzes, Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy blog points to a holiday movie trivia quiz. She claims it is quite hard, but I only missed 3 out of 10, which is not bad considering there were a couple of movies I have not seen. However, given some of these movies are perennial classics or part of pop culture, you either know an answer or can guess the answer. At any rate, I was never much of a holiday movie fan. In fact, I can't really stand too many holiday movies. My idea of a fun Christmas movie is this one, and only for the opening scene, which is how I think Santa should handle a few snotty families who obsess over the perfect Christmas while actually hating each other. It's the kind of film you don't want to laugh, but you do anyhow. There are a couple other holiday movies I like, but they are far and in between, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express.

Of course, this blog belongs to a librarian, so I would be neglecting my vocation if I did not provide some reading suggestions. Here are then some book lists to give you some ideas of what to read during the holidays:

Here is a collection of winter holiday websites from the Springfield public library. A good number of links to explore.

If there are questions about how to behave or manners, Emily Post may have some answers here on topics like re-gifting. If you have more spiritual/religious questions in terms of etiquette, you can visit Beliefnet here (the link is to their holidays section, which covers various holidays. However, the main site is a good resource for learning about other's beliefs). Here is another interesting little article on "Celebrating the holidays in an interfaith family," out of Baby Center, a parenting site. A good book on the topic of interfaith etiquette is How to Be a Perfect Stranger.

If you would like some art, there is an online exhibit on "The Christmas Story" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

Take a look at the origins of winter solstice celebrations from ancient times to today at Candlegrove's website. Online since 1995, this site has become a very good resource on the traditions of the winter holiday celebrations.

And what is a holiday season without some fun and romp in bed (or any other part of the house)? This is the part of this holiday post where I give the warning that the next link contains adult content. If you are not into that or you offend easily, or you happen to be a minor, please do not click on the link. You won't be hurting my feelings, that is perfectly cool if you prefer not to. On the other hand, if you are like me (a regular heathen who likes his fun), and you want to consider some options for some sexy play, here is a link to a Sexy Holiday Guide, from Fleshbot. The post provides a list of various sexy gift guide ideas with a a brief pro/con review. I am sure even Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be having some fun after he is done with his sleigh run.

So, this post got a bit longer than I thought, but I found a lot of interesting things that I hope readers may find interesting. Have a safe and happy holiday. Feliz Navidad to our Spanish speaking friends who celebrate Christmas. I will see you next year. Best, and keep on blogging.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What to expect from politicians now that the midterm election is over

Michael McGrorty, of Library Dust, presents a list of what to expect from political conservatives and liberals after the election. Definitely worth reading. If nothing else, goes on to reinforce why I usually hate politicans, who pretty much make a career out of staying in politics rather than actually being public servants. I think rather than getting on my soapbox, I will let the list speak for itself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"When Librarians Attack" (humor)

Fish and game wardens say librarians are unlikely to attack unless provoked, although they may view late returns of books as a threat. "If your book is overdue you should approach librarians with caution, holding the volume out at arm's length with your hands palm down to show that you are not an aggressor," says Billy Ray Lyman of the Missouri Department of Wildlife. "And don't show fear--librarians can sense when you don't have the two cents a day fine, and they will go for the jugular."

From The Spoof website, a story about how the DVD for the video "When Librarians Attack" is doing well in sales. While the setting is in school libraries, I am sure we could soon see titles such as "When Librarians Attack 2: The Campus Edition" and "When Librarians Attack 3: Public Librarians Go Wild."

A hat tip to Library Garden, where Janie Hermann claims she knows librarians are underpaid and overworked, but she does not know many frustrated ones. I say she is not looking hard enough. Don't get me wrong; I love my profession, but it certainly provides its moments of frustration. Anyhow, go have fun reading the spoof.

Students should not be opposing freedom of speech

I may not agree with a lot of people. Ok, it's more like I don't agree with a lot of people, but I am not about to go incite a riot or bully others to shut up. In fact, it is something I find a turn-off in many political pundits who rather than engage the points of debate instead shout, demean, and use bullying to stiffle their opponents. I don't think imitating that bad behavior lends credibility to anyone's cause. So, it was with some concern that I recently read this article on "Mob Rule on College Campuses."

"While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace."

That kind of behavior is not acceptable. A college campus should be a place where students and other members of the academic community should be exposed to different ideas. They should be coming together to discuss and debate the points, not to bully or disrupt. If you don't like what someone has to say, say so in a civilized manner. If you feel a need to get violent, maybe it is time for you to get up and leave. Part of the beauty of freedom of speech is that they may be free to speak, but you are free not to listen. When students behave in disruptive and even violent ways, it takes away from their dignity as well as from a campus's ideal of being a place for ideas to flow.

"It is not only conservative speakers who are at risk of having their free speech rights trampled upon on American college campuses. Those who dare criticize radical Islam in any way, shape or form tend to suffer the same fate."

We need to be able to engage ideas, debate them openly and freely. And yes, we need to criticize bad ideas. This sounds easier said than done. However, if we claim that as a nation we value free speech, then such behavior on our campuses, which are supposed to be havens of ideas and free thought, is simply not acceptable.

It would be nice if we could look to our colleges and universities as the bearers of progress, but at this rate it seems an unlikely prospect. If we are to truly promote an atmosphere of intellectual openness, respectful political debate and the free flow of ideas on campus, then we must stem the tide of thuggery, bullying and intolerance that threatens to subsume future generations.

A hat tip to The Kept-Up Librarian.

Monday, December 11, 2006

On predator hysteria

We are constantly bombarded in the news by stories about how bad MySpace and how it is pretty much a paradise for sexual predators. While sexual predators are a threat, they are certainly not the threat that the press and hysterical government officials appealing to people's fears make them out to be. Readers may want to take a look at this recent article on "Predator Panic" from the Skeptical Inquirer for September 2006. Some highlights from the piece:

  • On the famous 1 in 5 statistic: "According to a May 3, 2006, ABC News report, “One in five children is now approached by online predators.” This alarming statistic is commonly cited in news stories about prevalence of Internet predators, but the factoid is simply wrong. The “one in five statistic” can be traced back to a 2001 Department of Justice study issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (“The Youth Internet Safety Survey”) that asked 1,501 American teens between 10 and 17 about their online experiences. Anyone bothering to actually read the report will find a very different picture. Among the study’s conclusions: “Almost one in five (19 percent) . . . received an unwanted sexual solicitation in the past year.” (A “sexual solicitation” is defined as a “request to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information that were unwanted or, whether wanted or not, made by an adult.” Using this definition, one teen asking another teen if her or she is a virgin—or got lucky with a recent date—could be considered “sexual solicitation.”) Not a single one of the reported solicitations led to any actual sexual contact or assault. Furthermore, almost half of the “sexual solicitations” came not from “predators” or adults but from other teens—in many cases the equivalent of teen flirting. When the study examined the type of Internet “solicitation” parents are most concerned about (e.g., someone who asked to meet the teen somewhere, called the teen on the telephone, or sent gifts), the number drops from “one in five” to just 3 percent."
That is an example of what happens when people don't read closely or look at the source of a statistic, let alone see the context of it. And yet, the statistic, flawed as it is, continues to be cited.

  • On the (supposed) high offender repeat rate: "The high recidivism rate among sex offenders is repeated so often that it is accepted as truth, but in fact recent studies show that the recidivism rates for sex offenses is not unusually high. According to a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study (“Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994”), just five percent of sex offenders followed for three years after their release from prison in 1994 were arrested for another sex crime. A study released in 2003 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that within three years, 3.3 percent of the released child molesters were arrested again for committing another sex crime against a child. Three to five percent is hardly a high repeat offender rate."
  • And something to think about the next time some legislator comes up with another law to make people feel better: "The tragic irony is that the panic over sex offenders distracts the public from the real danger, a far greater threat to children than sexual predators: parental abuse and neglect. The vast majority of crimes against children are committed not by released sex offenders but instead by the victim’s own family, church clergy, and family friends."
No one is saying that sexual offenders are not a threat or should not be dealt with. What I am saying is that maybe people should be more critical of the information they get, think a bit more before pushing laws, many of which are useless or meaningless, and then deal with the problems in a proportional and rational manner.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Taste in music

It's Friday, so readers know what that means for this blog. Why am I not surprised? Actually, this is pretty accurate for me since I seem to be stuck in that decade, and I am still pissed that MTV does not stand for music anymore. While I do listen to a few other things, and when someone recommends something I will go seek it out, I am mostly an 80s kid.

Your Taste in Music:

80's Pop: Highest Influence
80's Rock: High Influence
80's Alternative: Medium Influence
80's R&B: Medium Influence
90's Pop: Medium Influence

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bus driver throws hissy fit? But I still got to work

This morning was the kind of morning that you wonder what else could possibly happen. A couple of days a week, it is my turn to drop my daughter off at the bus stop. This morning, apparently, the bus driver got into an argument with a couple of parents, and she decided to throw what I can only describe as a hissy fit and actually drove off leaving about 20 kids or so stranded for the morning. No explanation as far as I can tell; she just drove off. Needless to say, I had to then drive and take my daughter to school myself. I don't mind that part as much, but I did mind the fact it created an inconvenience for me. You see, I take the commuter Metro bus to downtown, and the extra time to take my daughter in to school meant I missed my own bus. While my workplace knows that on the days I drop off my daughter I will come in a little later, I don't think the extra half hour or so was what they had in mind. So, to the driver of bus 784 for the CyFair ISD, thanks a lot for making our mornings that much harder.

I should clarify that I do have some sympathy for the driver; I believe that often there are two sides to a story. I have observed countless times when a couple of parents, who are not exactly paragons of good behavior, go up to the driver as the kids are boarding to either yell at their kids for not behaving or at the driver for trying to get their brats to actually sit down so the bus can move. You see, the driver won't drive on until all the kids are safely seated. Some safety thing I am sure. These are the type of kids that you take a look at them, then at their parents, and you know exactly why the kids are brats. So, dear driver, I certainly have some sympathy as I guess that you simply figured you weren't taking any more crap from those mofos. To be honest, had it been me, I might have done the same thing (or better yet, run those parents over). A pity though that you had to make your stand at the expense of the rest of us who are simply innocent bystanders. My bet is a couple of those mofo parents went to the school to complain, but they probably left out their role in the process. At any rate, odds are good we are getting a new driver tomorrow.

However, the day was not a total loss. I managed to drop my public library and drop some books off in their book drop. As I was driving towards the Park-and-Ride, for a brief time there was this lady in a red Geo Tracker laughing her head off. I don't know what she was reading on her paper, and I hope she was talking to someone on one of those hands-free cellphones (otherwise it would look like she was talking to herself and thus not as sane), but whatever it was seemed funny enough it made me smile to see her laughing so. I guess laughter can be contagious.

Now, I got to my Park-and-Ride late, and it looked like I would have to wait anywhere from a half an hour to an hour for the next bus. After the rush hours, they cut down to about an hour. However, a very nice lady heading downtown gave me a ride. Actually, there is a little carpool system going on that I have seen but never paid much attention to until this morning. So, for the benefit of those who may have the same questions I had, allow me to explain.

Here in Houston, there is an HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane system on some major highways, which allow commuters to take those special lanes during rush hours. What some people do is they pick up riders so they can share the ride and meet the minimum number of riders in a car (at least 2 where I go from, but it can be up to 3 depending on location and time). When I take my bus in the morning, there is a line labeled "Carpool" and people standing in it. Cars pull up, and people get in, getting a ride downtown. I never gave it a try. For one, I figured you needed a healthy degree of faith to get into a stranger's car, not to mention they had to have the same faith, or more, you were not a carjacker or worse. Two, I wondered how they would agree in terms of where downtown the riders would get dropped off. For me, I can pretty much drop anywhere as soon as one gets off the HOV since the campus is not far from that area, and I can always take the light rail as well. The process can work in reverse in the afternoons as some drivers will pick up passengers at bus stops to ride back to the Park-and-Ride (assuming of course, the driver is headed to that area).

Since I was running late this morning, and this lady was looking for a rider, we both got lucky. We were both running late, and we were both coming in at a time out of the ordinary for us. Her tale of why she was late was certainly more amusing than mine. As she drove, she then told me some of the information I outlined above, which put helped me make better sense of how the carpool process worked. This only works during the rush times. This morning was the tail end of it, she had come to the Park-and-Ride hoping someone else was late too, and she found me. I was more than happy to help out. She did mention she often gets passengers in the mornings, but since she works long hours, does not do so in the evenings since it would be too late. Coming out of town may be more interesting, since people can be a bit more wary over passengers. She explained that, for instance, some women may choose to only ride if the driver is a woman as well. In this day and age, I can certainly understand that. However in her case, by then, traffic going back out of town is not too bad. So, to the nice lady who gave me a ride to work this morning, thank you, and I hope you enjoy your office holiday party.

Monday, December 04, 2006

There is something to humility

I came across this little post on the "honor of humility" over at Slacker Manager. I particularly liked the blogger's use of the Castaneda quote, which I am reproducing here, but do go over and take a look:

The humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of the beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn’t permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor to anyone he deems to be higher; but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him scrape the floor for him.
—Carlos Castaneda
Just some food for thought.

A hat tip to Problogger.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I may not like what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it

I believe those are the words of Voltaire (ok, as I understand it, it is often misattributed to him. There is some information on that here), and I do believe in that. So to that end, I was glad Keith Olbermann had something to say about Newt Gingrich's recent idea to "rethink" our freedom of speech. I could not say it any better, so I will let Mr. Olbermann's comment do the talking. All I can say is that it is time for people to wake up and be vigilant. Maybe go reread Orwell's works while you are it. I wonder if some of the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves right about now. As I have said before, I try not to get too political, but as of late, it is getting harder to do so, especially with certain politicos suggesting the Constitution needs to be "rethought."

Some quotes from Mr. Olbermann's commentary:

Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more 'massively destructive' than trying to get us, to give you our freedom?

And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not "fighting outside the rules of law"?

And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not "barbarism"?

The explanation, of course, is in one last quote from Mr. Gingrich from New Hampshire… and another, from last week.

"I want to suggest to you," he said about these internet restrictions, "that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of the threat."

And who should those "impaneled" people, be?

Funny I should ask, isn't it, Mr. Gingrich?

Because, as always with people wanting to take our rights away, they never tell you who exactly is going to be the watcher, and they sure as hell don't want the watcher watching them. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

But apparently there are some of us who cannot see, that the only future for America is one that cherishes the freedoms won in the past, one in which we vanquish bad ideas with better ones, and in which we fight for liberty by having more liberty, not less.

I have always had faith in the marketplace of ideas. I cannot help but wonder, are things really so bad in this nation that people now feel a need to simply silence anyone they disagree with? I thought that soldiers of this nation fought for the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, including our freedom of speech? Are we telling those soldiers now that their efforts are not worth it? Indeed, we fight for liberty by having more liberty, not less.

What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America, is to destroy America.

I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place.

And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it.

And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea it represents — and what a cynical mind.

And that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms, you seek to suffocate.

I am thankful as well that for the moment we still live in a nation where anyone can say what they want. I will grant that if you say it, you should be willing to live with the consequences of your actions, but that is also part of what freedom of speech entails. And I am thankful that I am in a profession that can help people explore ideas and provide access to people looking for ideas or ways to question ideas. And I am thankful that I can be exposed to various opinions and ideas, even if I disagree with them.

Crooks and Liars has a link to the video here along with the transcript. Find it also at the MSNBC Website here.

Does Guacamole Need Avocados In It?

Yes as far as I am concerned. Then again, a reason why I prefer to eat homemade guacamole when I can rather than buying some "dip." First, a judge had to define what was a sandwich and a burrito. Now, a lady is suing Kraft Foods because their product labeled "guacamole dip" does not have enough avocados in it. According to the wire report,

"The Kraft product contains modified food starch, coconut and soybean oils, corn syrup and food coloring. It is less than 2 percent avocado, which in traditional recipes is the main ingredient of the Mexican dish."

I am sorry, but less than two percent avocado a guacamole does not make. Heck, it does not even make a simple avocado dip. Of course, we soon get the corporate reply,

"'We think customers understand that it isn't made from avocado,' Claire Regan, Kraft Foods' vice president of corporate affairs, told the Los Angeles Times. "All of the ingredients are listed on the label for consumers to reference.'"

Oh really? Well, on the one hand maybe that is a spot for reminding people to read those labels. On the other, it sounds like another shameful corporate excuse after getting busted for not having a true guacamole dip. I wonder what the average consumer thinks when they see something labeled as "guacamole dip"? Me, being the cynic I am, well, I don't want to know what is in it. I say stick with the homemade. It's not that hard to make. Find some recipes here and here.

Drawing a New Tarot Card

It's Friday folks, so odds are good readers of this blog knows what this post is. This is the result from a more recent draw of the Tarot Deck. Different result than last year, then again, different quiz. Definitely liked the heavenly body question, hehe. I also like the idea of infinite possibilities, which is something that goes well with librarians, especially with Instruction Librarians who have their own bags of tricks.

You are The Fool

The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he need to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning. But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. Stop daydreaming and fantasising and watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

A hat tip to Liz's Library Tavern.

Booknote: Come Hell or High Water

Title: Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
Author: Michael Eric Dyson
Publication Information: Cambridge, MA: Basic Civitas, 2006
ISBN: 0-465-04761-4
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Current affairs
258 pages, including notes and the index

This was a short book that I found hard to read because the more I read, the more angry I got at the government's incompetence and flat-out negligence during Katrina's passing. To be honest, I have avoided reading books related to Katrina, but I finally decided to pick this one up after one of our students was interested in it for a class assignment. Dyson looks at the hurricane through the lens of racial relations and poverty in the United States. The main theme of the book is that there was a storm brewing in New Orleans, and it was happening long before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Dyson looks at the politics, the levees, leadership (or rather the lack of any), FEMA, the profiteers, and even the role of faith and religion. In the end, a huge group of American citizens were neglected and abandoned by the leadership of their nation, and this book provides a very strong indictment. To support the indictment, Dyson cites a variety of sources, which are documented in the notes to the book.

There are various passages in this book worth thinking about. Here is a small selection:

  • "Race and class are two of the most salient social issues that the administration had failed to come to grips with. Katrina blew their cover-- and if we're honest, it blew our cover, too. We will remain imperiled if we postpone grappling with the lethal effects of race and class in our society. As horrifying as the actual events were, almost more disturbing was what Katrina revealed about the way the nation still thinks and feels about black people--whether in the media or in the culture more broadly. Ironically, this may also be the most opportune time in a while for the black elite to confront its own bigotry toward the poor and do something to help their plight" (138).
Dyson does not excuse anyone. From the administration to society to the black elites. He takes the time not only to indict but to explain how some of the attitudes and feelings come about. He also reminds us that it was not just blacks who suffered, a fact that was pretty much left out of most media coverage.

  • "But one of the untold stories of Katrina is how the hurricane impacted racial and ethnic minorities other than blacks. For instance, nearly 40,000 Mexican citizens who lived (mostly in trailers) and worked in New Orleans were displaced. Altogether, nearly 145,000 Mexicans in the entire Gulf Coast region were scattered by Katrina. Latinos make up 3 percent of Louisiana's population, 124,222 people of the state's 4,515,770 residents. Many Latinos who live in the South are foreign born and are undocumented laborers on farms or in hotels, restaurants, and other service industry jobs" (142).
This is definitely a book to read and a book that should encourage discussion.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A very cool reason to get matching MP3 players

Just share the love. See the post here, then watch the video. Warning, if you happen to be prudish, this is not for you.

Via AdFreak.

Some rules for drinking

I am not much a bar person. I prefer to do my drinking at home or with family and friends at their homes. Much of it has to do with the fact I see social drinking as that: something you do with friends and/or family, not something you do to get wasted. At any rate, there are rare occasions when I do go out to a drinking establishment. So, as a public service to those out there, here are some rules for the savvy drinker. Some of these I knew already, others are interesting. Do look at all of the list. Some of the ones that stood out for me, with some comment from me:

  • At the holiday office party, consume one drink less than your boss. (Actually, this is pretty much good advice. Way I see it, let the boss be the one who makes an ass of him or herself. Don't you be that ass.)
  • Every man should know how to make at least one drink from a foreign country, preferably one taught to him by a local female with whom he has had a complicated, unresolved, and quite possibly dangerous dalliance. (I know how to make a couple of things, and no, I am not telling you who I learned them from.)
  • Drinking is not a competitive sport (This is self-explanatory.)
  • There is no upside to karaoke. (I know, been there, done that. However, when you sing "La Bamba" with an assistant principal, who knows?)
  • The one foolproof hangover cure: don't get drunk.
  • If you don't smoke and you are in a bar, don't complain about other people who happen to be smoking, because virtuous friend, you are in a bar. (This should be self-explanatory as well. While I don't smoke, I certainly know that in bars people smoke. It is a given; it is in fact part of the reason many people frequent bars. If you don't smoke, and you don't like smoke, the advice is simple: don't go to a bar. And by the way, if I am at a bar with you, and you feel the need to light up, fine by me.)
  • Acceptable drinks for men: beer, wine, whiskey, cocktails that are neither sweet nor made with dairy or fruit other than lime or lemon or orange.
  • Acceptable drinks for women: whatever they want, except a certain few (the certain few are listed in the rules too.)
  • Pick up your drinks before moving the table. (This actually reminds me of something else. Make sure you have a good grasp on your drink. My grandfather was notorious in handing you a bottle of beer and then quickly making as if to drop it if you were not smart enough to grab the bottle from the bottom so it would rest on the palm of your hand. So, make sure you get a good grip on it when they hand it to you.)
A hat tip to the Liquor Snob.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turns out that meme or other had extra items.

Found out from CW at Ruminations that this meme had some extra items. So, in the interest of being complete, here goes part deux:

1. What shirt are you wearing?

White Hard Rock Cafe tee, from the Minneapolis HRC. Actually, unless I am teaching, I am a tee and jeans kind of guy.

2. Name the brand of your shoes you're currently wearing?

Some cheap sneakers. Brand is not really an issue for shoes.

3. Bright or Dark Room?

Bright, somewhat.

4. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you?

Have not met the person personally, but I enjoy the blog very much.

5. Where is your nearest 7-11?

Your guess is as good as mine.

6. Who told you he/she loved you last?

The better half.

7. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?

Hmm, nothing illegal. Other than that, an allergy pill.

8. How many rolls of film do you need developed?

None. There may be a roll floating in the apartment someplace, but as long as it is lost, it's not getting developed. You get the idea.

9. What do you do when vending machines steal your money?

I get annoyed, but what can you do?

10. Are you touchy feely?

Not really.

11. Name three things that you have on you at all times?

Hmm, can't really think of any. I don't wear any jewelry, and while I have a pocketwatch, I only wear it when I am out of the house.

12. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?

Frozen custards at Ritters last Saturday.

13. Does anything hurt on your body right now?


14. How much cash do you have on you?

A little bit, but that's for me to know.

15. What's a word that rhymes with “DOOR?”


And there ya go folks. As always, I never tag people. Do it if it moves you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

SF Book Meme

If it deals with books, odds are good I won't be able to resist a meme. I picked this up via Walt Crawford's Walt At Random blog. By the way, for this list, I have not read as many (only 14), and there are some novels not featured here I have read and liked, but we have to stick to the meme this time. Another problem is this is one of those lists I would never complete as it has at least one title that I have not read nor care to read (Harry Potter in this case). So, here are the instructions:

“Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star next to the ones you love.”

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert*
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick [?]
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury*
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. *
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester*
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card*
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman*
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley[?]
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys*
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester*
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

Walt added a bit to it, feel free if it works for you:

"I’ve added one more element: [?] means 'I may have read this, but can’t remember.'”

Yea, I'll be happy to take the keys

I don't know for how long this result will remain accurate, because given some of the things that have been going on at MPOW as of late, I am thinking about lining some shotglasses and pouring out some tequila. On a serious note, I do tend to be moderate when it comes to my drinking. And I noticed the result may group some smokers of alternative plants. I will point out I do not smoke. At any rate, what can I say? It is Friday, and the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday. If you do imbibe during the holiday, please be responsible about it.

What type of partier are you?
Your Result: The designated driver

You are the gem of any party, the rock, the one who can roll with the group and have a ton of fun, even though you are completely sober most of the time. You may have a rare occasional drink, but really don't need it or care if you have one. The potheads tend to fall into this group often, as they prefer to smoke up instead of drink anyway, and it wears off before its time to go home. You find your friends amusing as they get ripped and try to hit on you, slurring their words and calling you 'the best', though you get annoyed at the constant 'come on, just have one with me' as they try to buy you a drink.

The Lurker

The Socialite

Hardcore drunk

The rock-star party animal

Bar Social Butterfly

Bar Slut

What type of partier are you?
Make Your Own Quiz

A hat tip to the Library Tavern.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

If your 'hood lacks a library, tell your government to get you one

This is a cool quote, in my view. Comes from the April 15, 2006 edition of Library Journal's Front Desk section. I got to see it now via the ever slow internal routing. Good thing I have the journal on one of my alerts so I can actually read the stuff in a timely fashion. The quote then:

"Don't blame the white man for nothing. . . I came to this country--I didn't know how to speak English, I made something of myself. I went to the library. . . They got libraries in the 'hood. And if they don't got libraries, tell your mayor, your governor, whoever in your county, put some more f***in' libraries in the 'hood."

--Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean, in the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Some meme or other

I picked this up via Ruminations, who picked it up someplace else, and well, you get the idea.

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

Hmm, I don't actually recall looking in the mirror this morning. Oh, yea, I did brush my hair, so that counts. First thought: I need a haircut.

2. Favorite planet?

Uranus (you can never have enough Uranus jokes).

3. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?

Don't carry one.

4. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone?

If I carried one, I would be the one leaving the basic ring on.

5. Do you “label” yourself?


6. What does your watch look like?

Pocket watch. Silvery metal color.

7. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Sleeping. I usually don't stay up late during the week as the commute to work is quite the pain.

8. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?

I told you, I don't carry one.

9. What's a word that you say a lot?

Carajo (Spanish for "hell," but not very nice). I also use a few other dialogue enhancers, just not in polite company.

10. Last furry thing you touched?

Autumn and Isis, my cats.

11. Favorite age you have been so far?

Hmm, not sure, though 13 was a fairly good year. 18 was better. I finally got out of the house.

12. Your worst enemy?

Incompetent people and people with no spine.

13. What is your current desktop picture?

The logo for The International Order of Librarians--Ordo Bibliotheca. (I am a proud member and fan of Rex Libris. Sapere Aude).

14. What was the last thing you said to someone?

"If you need anything else, I'll be here for a while yet." To a patron at the reference desk.

15. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be?

I suppose flying, but only because a million bucks does not go very far these days. Make it about 20 million, then we can talk.

16. Do you like someone?

Yes, and she knows who it is.

17. The last song you listened to?

Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life"

18. What time of day were you born?

Don't recall, even though mom did tell me, but I think it was afternoon.

19. What's your favorite number?


20. Where did you live in 1987?

Humacao, Puerto Rico. It was my last year of high school, and boy, am I glad I left (none too thrilled about high school. College was great though).

21. Are you jealous of anyone?


22. Is anyone jealous of you?

That'd be the day, hahaha. You kidding? Who the hell could be jealous of me?

23. Where were you when 9/11 happened?

I was in graduate school, during my previous life as an English major. I was about to leave the apartment when my wife told me about it.

24. Do you consider yourself kind?

Most of the time. If you treat me kind, the odds improve.

25. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?

Well, if I had to, probably on the shoulder or shoulder blade, so I can hide it under a shirt if I had to. Nothing big.

26. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian. Actually, I would love to learn a new language, just about any language.

27. Would you move for the person you loved?

Yes, but I am married. If I was single, it's even odds.

28. What's your life motto?

It can vary. There are a few favorites. My favorite as of late is "Lead Me, follow Me, or get the hell out of my way."

29. What's your favorite town/city?

Bloomington, IN was pretty good (not perfect, but pretty good).

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

So long ago that I can't even remember. Do cover letters for job applications count? In that case, it was almost three years ago. And I do send out Christmas cards. But personal letters, pretty much zilch.

31. Can you change the oil on a car?

Nope. I did not inherit the male gene of feeling macho when it comes to cars. However, I would like to learn how to do it.

32. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her?

That she had to work this morning. I married her, so I will see her when I get home.

33. How far back do you know about your ancestry?

Not too far back. A few things about the better half's side, not as much on my side other than some names.

34. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy?

I wore a suit with tie. My brother's wedding a few years back.

35. Have you been burned by love?

Haven't we all? Yea, I have my little moments. It's only human, if you are in love that is.

Friday, November 10, 2006

And fights break out at Chuck E. Cheese's

I have taken our daughter to Chuck E. Cheese's a couple of times when her school has one of those fundraising nights. While not the greatest experience in my book (I am fine with arcades and pizza, it's the crowding I mind), I have not witnessed any violence there (yet). Apparently up in Milwaukee, brawls are a regular occurrence at the place, enough that city officials are calling for the place to actually close. Apparently today is one of those strange news days.

A hat tip to Obscure Store and Reading Room. By the way, you may want to read the comments over at the blog.

A burrito is NOT a sandwich, judge rules

In the wacky world of news, it turns out that a judge in Massachusetts settled a dispute between Panera and Qdoba over what constitutes a sandwich. The beef is that Panera does not want competition from Qdoba at a certain location, so Panera argued that burritos were sandwiches, which the judge ruled against. Go read the story. It gets funnier as you read it, and there is even a little survey for you to decide what makes a sandwich or not.

Me? I know a burrito and a sandwich when I see them. Either way, I am hungry now, so I will go get some lunch.

A hat tip to Obscure Store and Reading Room.

The color of my passion

Folks, it's Friday, so readers out there know the odds are good there is a quiz in here. By the way, my apologies if after the move to beta, you got a bunch of old entries on your aggregator. I had no idea it would do that until I read some of the help pages.

So, of all the colors, yellow (my result) the most likely to be bisexual? That sounds a bit like one of those high school yearbook statements. While I can certainly appreciate a handsome fellow on the street, I don't think I will be heading his way anytime soon; actually, it is more likely the fellow would just run the other way away as soon as he saw me, haha. Though the rest of the result is fairly accurate. I can be very adaptable and open-minded overall. Then again, I am usually pretty easy-going, which is helpful in my line of work. It also helps when enjoying some quality time with the better half. Anyhow, feel free to check it out and see what your color is. The result then:

Your Passion is Yellow

You're a total sexual shape shifter.
You possess a complex sex drive and are very adaptable.
Of all the colors, you are the most likely to be bisexual.
While you the most passionate, you are very open minded.

A hat tip to Liz at the Library Tavern.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

So far on the beta

I noticed a glitch in the dates of the archive links when I moved over. Apparently, there are some bugs regarding the time zone settings. Once I managed to set it to Central Standard, where I am at, it seems to have fixed that little bug. Not essential, but it did not look nice when it had two Octobers for instance under the archive.

Also noticed that the various buttons I had added over time are gone, so I have to put them back in. However, this makes a nice opportunity to see what I would really keep, and if anything could be removed. I had the nice Blog Day widget with the countdown, but it seems the code messed up the template, so I went with the small one. Not as flashy, but it still looks nice. Overall, I do think small is nicer, at least on this template, when it comes to buttons. I will put in the subscription and listing items down the road. I can either do them manually, or wait until I get the back up file and dig them from there. We'll see. I will give this a try. I have to admit, the drag and edit features work nicely and are easy to use. I will have to upgrade the other blog in terms of template in order to get the customization I am getting here. However, I am not messing with that one until I get more comfortable here.

While I am not intending on taking these blogs private, it is nice to see that the option is there.

Switched to beta, so just testing

I finally buckled and decided to switch the blogs over to the beta version. Hopefully, this will not be terrible on the readers or on the blogger. As always, feel free to provide feedback via comments, or you can e-mail me if you prefer the e-mail route. Actually, need to doublecheck the e-mail, since beta links to Gmail. Anyways, best, and keep on blogging.

On a side note, I may be changing the template to The Itinerant Librarian, my unruly cousin. Since that is the personal blog, I figure experimenting there first may be better. Anyhow, stay tuned.

Crossposted from The Gypsy Librarian.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Two Words: GO VOTE!

I came in to work a bit later today because I was voting. Yes, today is Election Day in the United States. I know that there are some questions about voting technology and accountability, but the real way to make sure your vote does not count is by not casting it at all. So, if you are over 18 and registered to vote, go do it. Where I am at, the polls are open from 7:00a to 7:00p.

Here are some resources that may be of interest:


State and Local, if you are in Texas, and in Harris County:

  • Voter Information, from the Secretary of State.
  • Harris County Votes, for information on voting. However, do note that the voter registration information, such as your polling location, is under the county tax office (yea, go figure).
  • Harris County Tax Office. Click on the red link for "Find Polling Location," then enter your zip code. If you click on the link for "Voter Registration," you can see the voter database, which allows you to see your registration and the incumbents in your district.
(Crossposted to The Gypsy Librarian and to Alchemical Thoughts).

Update Note (same day): Don't just take my word for it. Erica, the Librarian Avenger, reminds us to vote today as well. This line is the best one I have seen:

"Today is U.S. election day. Today. Tuesday the 7th. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today you need to find ten minutes before, after, or during work to drive/walk/bike/train/carpool/drunkenly stumble to your local firehouse/school/residence hall/public space and vote."

It is today, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You miss out if you don't do it today. I voted at a church; it did take about ten minutes, and no, I did not drunkenly stumble there. I may have to consider that for the next election (hmm). She then briefly tells you what you need to do to know where to vote and who to vote. You can look over her links or the ones above.

Update note (same day, later on):
I know, I keep fiddling with this post, but I keep finding good stuff, so here goes. Find more resources for voting, as well as for keeping up with election results, via The Resource Shelf.

So, with all this wealth of information, you really have no excuse. Make some time and go vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recruting Minority Librarians, huh?

I came across this article from the San Antonio Express-News for October 25, 2006 entitled "Minority Librarians Needed." Some people out there have made a fuss over this statement from the article:

"'Coming into a library for the very first time can be a daunting experience,' said Keith M. Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) out of Chicago. 'If someone looks familiar it certainly creates a more comfortable atmosphere, particularly if foreign language is an issue.'"

It can be a daunting experience to go into any library. In a diverse community, it helps a little if you see a friendly face that looks like you. If you don't embrace diversity because your community is becoming more diverse over time, maybe you should do it out of a sense of compassion for someone who may need a friendly face. Sure, every librarian should be that friendly person who welcomes people and their queries. The color of their skin or the fact they speak a foreign language should not be an issue. But if we can add people who are more reflective of their communities as well to the profession, that should be seen as an asset. Anyhow, don't ask me where I saw the fuss, as I am not giving it a link.

However, what struck me in the article was the last statement from ALA's executive director:

The average starting salary in the nation just barely hit $40,000 this year, according to Fiels. In San Antonio, the entry-level salary is $28,752.

Librarians are being lured to corporate jobs where they can make double their salary, Fiels said.

"It's a tough, competitive market out there," Fiels said. "But I think people who come in to librarianship do it because they want to make the world a better place. So money isn't always an issue."

Hey, Mr. Fiels, you may want to get a clue. True, we go into librarianship for reasons other than money, but it does not mean we want to work at low wages and below our actual value. I will go on and say it: you want to hire good librarians, you have to pay them what they are worth. Sure, there are a lot of intangibles in our profession. In my case, there are some of those intangibles that make the job a bit more rewarding. But after a while, you have got to stop using the excuse of "it's competitive, the corporate world takes them away." How about ALA actually starts working on promoting better salaries instead of trying to lure old librarians back from retirement or other less than great ideas? Nothing against the retirees, but if they are working (and I don't mean the basic volunteering), they should be paid. I don't know about other librarians out there, but after a while I get tired of hearing the recruiters bemoaning they can't get good people because there isn't enough money to compete. I say to libraries out there that if you want good people, you should put your money where your mouth is. Goodwill and altruism on the part of librarians (and other people in education fields) only goes so far. And there's my two cents.

Update note (11/07/2006): For another take, and a well written one at that, The Annoyed Librarian has delivered her point here. Go take a look. Please, try not to sing along.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yes, I cuss and curse once in a while.

It's TGIF. Readers here know the drill. So, when it comes to this quiz, what else is new? Yes, I have been know to use "dialogue enhancers" once in a while. By the way, I heard that phrase from a Spongebob Squarepants episode. It is kind of cute when they use a dolphin sound as their "bleep" tool. I would not describe myself as a champion cusser. In fact, I grew up in a household where my mother would not tolerate any profanity in any form, and you were afraid of upsetting mom. Not because she was mean or would beat you or such, but because, she was (still is) the type of dame you don't want to disappoint. So, while I do say the occasional "spicy" word in public, I still watch what I say at home. Anyhow, the advisory does apply, since once in a while we will say "fuck, shit," and so on in this blog. Why? Because once in a while, you just need the right fucking word. We are definitely not afraid of using such language here as needed (or just for fun. Just recall the South Park episode with the word counter). As with other things, go for some balance. Have a great and safe weekend.

Champion Cusser

You are 61% capable of making other people's ears hurt!
So, how'd you do?

I'm in awe, since you're clearly not afraid of a little rough language! At the same time, you don't go completely mad with it, and I'm guessing you know when to hold your tongue so people don't want to punch you. Which is awesome, since being beaten up is such a drag anyway. You might pull out the swear words - and you might know the various slang fairly well - but you probably also appreciate that its use is mainly just to show that you mean business.

What occasion, I hear you ask? Well, some people find talking dirty arousing. Sometimes swearing can be helpful in looking tough when one of those hoodlum-types approaches you. Using some language on your boss may also be effective in stirring things up, but maybe that's just me. Either way, be careful, as getting your timing wrong can result in getting fired, or sleeping alone for the next month. Use your good judgment!

Finally, a fun link for those of you interested in brushing up on your swearing skills: click here to view The "Alternative" English Dictionary

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on ouch my ear

Link: The Verbal Obscenity Test written by seeyoshirun2 on OkCupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Booknote: Hey Ranger!

Title: Hey Ranger!: True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America's National Parks
Author: Jim Burnett
Publication Information: Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2005
ISBN: 1-58979-191-6
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: travel, humor, anecdotes

During his long career as a National Parks ranger, Jim Burnett has seen a lot, and a lot of it has been funny. Lucky for us, he was taking notes. Hey Ranger! is a collection of funny, at times hilarious, at other times gentle, stories of mishaps and humor. From dumb criminals to teens trying to impress a girl with less than stellar results, Burnett catches the humor as he tells the tales, in the process giving the readers an appreciation of what the job of a ranger entails. And no, it is not just living in the woods in a log cabin enjoying the wilderness, though there are days when the ranger does enjoy the beauty of his surroundings, at least until he hears "Hey Ranger!" We learn that the expression can be anything from a greeting, "Hey Ranger! How are you?" to "Hey Ranger! You ought to check that out" to "Hey Ranger! Help!!!!" The book is very easy reading, and Burnett always sets the scene for each park where the stories take place. Those little introductions provide a nice description of the park, and he always includes contact information, just in case you get the urge to visit one of these great places. I recommend this for readers who like anecdotes and humor as well as those wanting to see the lighter side of working as a National Park ranger.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My "why I did not apply to be an emerging leader" piece

This is one piece that I wondered if I would post or not. I even thought about just keeping it private, but after my attendance at JCLC's President's Plenary, I felt the need to express myself on it. So here goes, and since it is more an unruly kind of post, I get to do it here.

Back in September of this year, Brian Matthews, the Ubiquitous Librarian, explained why he did not apply for ALA's new leadership program. I was reassured when I read his post. Not that anyone would ask me to apply for anything, but jabbing myself aside, I saw a well-respected leader in our profession declining what seemed like a golden opportunity, and he gave good reasons for doing so as well. Additionally, I found as I read my post that those were my reasons as well.

The clique or exclusive club feel was not something that appealed to me. Personally speaking, I hate cliques with a passion. Before I go on, I will say that if you got selected, you have my best wishes and congratulations. After all, it was a selective program for 100 people, so if you made the cut, that is an accomplishment. If that is your interest, then, as Joseph Campbell would say, you must follow your bliss. But it's not for me, and I wonder how many "new" librarians did not apply for a similar reason.

Then there were the requirements. You have to be an ALA member. That's the easy one. So far, I have maintained my membership even when I question its overall value. This reminds me that I will be rethinking that membership when the renewal notice comes in, which should be any day now. Actually I am surprised I have not gotten it yet. Next, you have to be young. Young was defined at first as under 35. This was later amended to "include new librarians of any age with fewer than 5 years," and I am willing to bet it had to do with some other blogging librarians who were none too happy at being considered too old because they were older than 35 though new to the profession. Find a brief summary of that discussion at Mark Lindner's blog here. Initially, I had no idea I was over the hill at 36. Heck, for a guy who came from another career to librarianship, I thought I was still on the young side. Nope, not according to ALA. I do, however, have the "less than five years post-MLS experience" as I am entering my third professional year as a librarian (great job by the way, even if it has its "days").

Now, here is where it got hairy for me. Requirement four: "able to attend both ALA conferences and work virtually in between." Now, I am fairly savvy with online tools, though I am not a techie librarian. However, I could not, and still can't, afford two conferences, which are coast to coast by way (and I am somewhat in the middle being in Houston), neither financially nor in terms of time. If I told my supervisor, saintly as she can be, that I was planning all that travel in a year, it may not look so well, not to mention it would be out of my pocket. Anyhow, I have plenty of stuff to do here.

Matthews, always constructive, provides then his own suggestion in the form on an Innovators' Program. It is definitely worth a look if one could create a program that the national organization would fund that would actually give back to the members and their local libraries. Other than working in some committee, I don't see the new initiative as very much into giving back to the local libraries that send their people over to the program. Maybe I have a different definition of giving back. When I did National Writing Project, the idea was to take what I learned back to the school and teach other teachers as well as apply the new skills in my classroom. When I did Immersion, the principle was the same. These are not things to do in isolation in some far off committee, but they are things you learn and practice that you bring back to your own library community to make it a better place. That's where I am coming from anyways.

Like Matthews, I feel a new librarian should be focusing on gaining experience. They should settle into their jobs. They should be the best librarians they can be for their libraries. This was why I hate the "where do you see yourself five years from now" question that search committess love to throw at job candidates. I hated it when I was in the job market because, unlike most eager beavers, I don't want to be assistant dean, manager, administrator, or educrat. I am an Instruction Librarian. My first duty is to my students, followed by their faculty, my library and campus. Your administrative job, dear interviewer, is pretty safe from me, and if you treat me right, you won't be hiring someone down the road to replace me in five years when I decide it is time to find a greener pasture or advancement. You see, it is not that I am not interested in advancing. Someday I will be coordinating a large Information Literacy Program, or I will maybe head a Public Services unit, but not anytime soon. Anyhow, making sure you treat your librarian right means you gain continuity for your staff and library, which, as I understand it, can be a good thing. Pity that a job candidate can't be so blunt and honest in a job interview. But I am digressing.

Back to the prompt at hand. Matthews summarized pretty well the catch: "Basically, a new librarian, who pays membership fees, can afford to attend a handful of conferences, and is willing to volunteer for committee work." That doesn't look terribly challenging. Stressful on the pocketbook, possibly, unless you get ample institutional support, but it's not rocket science.

Now, here's what I want to hear about. I want to hear about those librarians, young in any sense of the word (you are as young as your heart, or something like that), who are doing great things in their libraries. If they are doing it by pulling on their bootstraps and fighting uphill battles with scarce resources, so much the better. Why? Because those are the troopers not many recogonize, outside of the few bloggers who point at them or who happen to be the troopers themselves. Those are the ones making a difference.

I think at the end of the day, the call for leaders as it was stated seemed contrived, something for the cv or resume. I did not give it much thought, but as I mentioned when I started typing this, my attendance at JCLC and Ms. Burger's statement that those selected were all under 35 made me wonder. It gave me the impression the powers that be were pleased by that detail. Whatever other wonderful traits the emerging leaders bring, and I am sure there are plenty, seemed reduced by that little statement that they are "all under 35." I was not ready to feed the conspiracy theorist back at the conference, and I am not about to do so now, but I did wonder.

By the way, readers wanting another take on this should go over to The Annoyed Librarian and take a look at her take on it. Look for her three tips on how to be a successful leader, or at least, a good committee worker. Laugh a little, then get back to work.

As for me, well, if I can aspire to anything like Lao-Tzu describes, I am halfway there:

"Superior leaders get things done with very little motion. They impart instruction not through many words, but through a few deeds. They keep informed about everything but interfere hardly at all. They are catalysts, and though things would not get done as well if they were not there, when they succeed they take no credit. And, because they take no credit, credit never leaves them."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

You can take this MySpace and. . .

Ok, so maybe there is no need to be that extreme. In the interest of open disclosure, as of this moment, I don't have a MySpace or a Facebook account, and so far, have no plans to have one. It does not mean that could not change, but that is the deal for now. I am intrigued by some of the work librarians have done in such spaces, thus I leave it open for me to try it out sometime. The only reason I have a 360 Yahoo! page is because it pretty much came along with the MyYahoo! I was already using. I doodle in it, but it is certainly nothing essential. Curious readers can click on the link in the margin to see my doodles. At any rate, the reason for this post's title is that the story of Gabe Henderson caught my eye. He is the guy who decided to cancel his MySpace. Yep, you read that right. The Iowa graduate student pulled the plug and is finding more freedom as a result.

Readers can find references to the story from The Wired Campus Blog and from The Kept-Up Academic Librarian.

There has been some recent discussions in the news and in blogs about how some students may be spending too much time on the Internet using services like MySpace, which may take time from some of their other academic endeavors. As I always say, the key is moderation.

Having said that, a recent article from The Washington Post for October 29, 2006, "In Teens' World, MySpace Is So Last Year," is making the rounds of the blogosphere. It seems a lot of teens are getting tired of MySpace and cancelling their accounts. My bet is that once they found out their parents were checking it out, it was time to leave for the next cool place. For some in the article, it boiled down to how much time they used to spend, time that can be well spent doing something else. So apparently, Gabe Henderson is not alone after all. However, detractors should not get too excited. MySpace and its ilk are not about to go away. They still get a lot of traffic and new users, so they will remain along with other newcomers to the social software field. May be interesting to see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A little something to think about those voting machines

I found the image at The Diebold Variations, which has various others. To put things in context, Princeton researchers have just completed an independent study of Diebold voting machines. Among its findings: "Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates" (from the abstract). Not exactly something to make a voter feel confident. Here is a story from CNN Money entitled "Rage Against the Machine" to add a bit more context. Actually, a Google news search using the terms "princeton study voting machines" will yield a good number of results for readers who may be further interested.

The images can be reused, but note they are copyrighted by their creator, (c)2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps. I think that covers it.

A hat tip to Apophenia.