Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Before I Go

Please note, via Well, that the classic 98.6 is not actually a good average body temperature. It's apparently closer to 98.2, but there's some variation during the day (cooler in the morning), as well as over the course of life (cooler as one gets older).

The article points out that this could be relevant to health if one were to assume that an elevated body temperature was not a serious concern, where in fact it might be considerably higher than is healthy for that particular person.

So when taking temperatures of older people first thing in the morning, keep this in mind.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Goodbye, Sweet Virtual World

Well, I'm off to the other coast tomorrow to ring in the New Year with some family.

This will certainly be fabulous, but it does mean that I expect to be away from the internet for a while. It'll be hard, but I think I can get through this. Distraction is key.

Note to self:
When the urge to go online strikes, take deep breaths and try talking to a family member, or perhaps reading a book. A brisk walk may also help.

If all else fails, take up smoking. Heh.

Anyhow, Happy New Year to all my legions, and may we all have a good 2010.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goodbye, Cruel Virtual World

If the holidays have you feeling like spending more time with offline people in face to face relationships, and you want to end it with all this online social networking, consider the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine.

The Suicide Machine promises to kill your online persona(e) and delete all your friends/contacts/followers/networks and posts, leaving only your famous last words to let people know you've committed online suicide.

It currently works on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, and apparently is popular enough that you may sometimes get the disheartening message "Sorry, Machine is currently busy with killing someone else".

The Machine is free and argues for its own relevance with these stirring words:

Everyone should have the right to disconnect. Seamless connectivity and rich social experience offered by web2.0 companies are the very antithesis of human freedom. Users are entraped in a high resolution panoptic prison without walls, accessible from anywhere in the world. We do have an healthy amount of paranoia to think that everyone should have the right to quit her 2.0-ified life by the help of automatized machines.

Check out the Memorial Pages for info on those who have committed web suicide already, with a picture of the deceased, the site(s) abandoned, the number of virtual friends left behind, and last words, if any.

I personally do not yet feel trapped in a "high resolution panoptic prison without walls" (I'm OK with my current use of social networking) but I have to say that's a very poetic way to put it, and if someone does feel thus imprisoned, this looks like a clever way to break free. Don't let ancient social networking site memberships keep you bound to an online existence that has become nothing but pain and trouble!

Sadly, this doesn't work for Friendster, which is the site I really never update. My other accounts are at least sporadically looked in upon.

Identity Woman brought this to my attention.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Early Science

I like Bad Science's discussion of the biblical verses of Daniel 1.8, which the post notes offers "a description of the first ever clinical trial."

I am too full and sleepy to say anything else. Happy Holidays, all.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

EFT for the People

Have you ever paid a credit card bill online, or filled out your bank routing information on your tax return, and thought "I wish the power of electronic funds transfer could be mine to use in other ways, for my personal whims"?

In a development having nothing to do with libraries, but something to do with nifty technology, my online bank (ING) now offers 'Person2Person' EFT.

Cutesy name aside, it's pretty handy. All you have to do is convince someone to give you their bank routing number and their checking account number, and you can move money right from your account to theirs by filling in a few fields online!

Unfortunately it doesn't work the other way around, so you can't add to your fortune, just pass it on to others. I should say, it's unfortunate for the first person who wished they could do that and couldn't--fortunate for everyone who's never wanted to have their bank account emptied remotely by someone else.

And I don't like to generalize, but I think that actually speaks for a lot of us.

Anyway, if you ever happen to be in a position where you want to send someone some money, this saves writing a check or buying a money order and mailing it. I love online bill payment and such, so this sort of thing is just a big barrel of sunshine and kittens as far as I'm concerned.

I tried it, and it was fast and easy. And free, which is important. It irritates me to have to pay to do things with my money.

The other person does need to have a bank account, so this won't work for everyone, but it doesn't have to be an account with ING, so there's some flexibility.

One downside is that it would be harder to surprise someone with a present this way than if you sent a check, since you have to get their bank info somehow and the most obvious way to do that may be to ask them, in which case they may wonder why you want to know.

But hey, if you get it once you can surprise them next time.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"To the Internet!"

I see on ScienceRoll (original story in the Sun) that the husband of a pregnant woman who went into labor did a Google search on his mobile device and helped deliver the baby based on tips from wikiHow. Now that's using technology to answer an immediate need.

The ScienceRoll post argues that this man should have called a health professional (dialing 911 or the UK equivalent) instead of doing a web search. I'm all for ready access to health information, but I do see that point: the internet is great, but presumably a live person would have been more helpful if there had been any complications.

Fortunately there were none, and the mother and baby were fine.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Darkness

Sunset, before the longest night of the year.

Time to huddle in our lairs and await the return of the light.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spying on Killer Robots

Dangerous Intersection points out a Wall Street Journal article about how some software you can get for $25.95 will let you capture video feed from U.S. Predator drones.

This sounds interesting, although probably beyond my techno-geek ability. Also possibly illegal in the U.S., although that's not stated in the article (and would be of small concern to the Iraqi militants who are described as using the technique).

I dunno, would the WSJ feel obliged to include a "don't try this at home" warning if we weren't supposed to do it ourselves?

If allowed, I certainly hope Google is using this information to update maps and such.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Image of Mom

Sometimes I kind of love sidebar ads.

Is this guy a mom? Someone who encourages a mom to return to online school? (Perhaps an online school teacher!)

So many interesting questions.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good News for Archives

As part-time guardian of a small archive, I am excited to hear (via Shakespeare's Sister) of the recovery of millions of email messages from the Bush Administration.

Politics aside, it would be a shame to lose so much information. This sort of thing will be gold to researchers and historians in the future (if they can sort through it all; 22 million emails is a lot!).

In the name of archives everywhere, I celebrate.

Save it! Save it all! Preservation rocks!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Available Vocabulary

Ooh! Ooh!

PubMed New and Noteworthy posts the worthy note that "MEDLINE citations and the MeSH database have been updated with 2010 MeSH vocabulary"!


Yes, I can mock teenagers for swooning over New Moon (although I didn't, particularly), but are my own faint-inducing-situations any less peculiar? Many would say not.

A peculiar thing I notice is that while my RSS aggregator shows the quoted line above, when I actually click though to the post, it's different. So PubMed New and Noteworthy is like a citation to another page, with a brief commentary attached. Like a normal blog post, but visible only in a feed aggregator. Weird.

I'm probably the last person to notice this and think it's interesting. Fine, everyone else, move along.

But first, swoon with me over the fact that new vocabulary is now in the database.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Modern Technology

We have figured out how to get our TV to display things that are playing on our computers. We can now enjoy our streaming video in fine color and brilliant large-size-iness!

We could also enjoy enormous images of our email if we wanted.

We may not leave the house again.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Amusing New Obscenity

I've noticed my junk mail folder in the past few days has been featuring a lot of messages from a certain Facebook take-off, cleverly named "F**kbook" (bleeped out to protect the eyes of the innocent, if any of those should ever happen to stumble across this page).

Today I find a twist on this, with the alarming notice "F**kbook hacked!"

If true, and if anyone actually put up a profile with real personal information on that site, I imagine this could be a cause for some concern.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Learning Something New

Two posts on learning things previously not known strike me today.

Elisa at HealthyConcerns finds that you can use Flexible Spending Account money (those pre-tax dollars you can set aside to pay for healthcare needs) not only for things like doctor's office co-pays and prescriptions and glasses, but also for basic household health stuff like cough medicine and adhesive bandages.

I myself have been known to stock up on this sort of thing near the end of the year when I have money left over...and will have to do so soon. It then occurred to me that if I could only think of some way to present bandages and aspirin as appropriate holiday gifts, I could be in great shape!

Who do I know who wants a pack of cough drops?

And Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check reveals that the North Carolina Constitution basically bars atheists (and arguably people practicing non-Abrahamic religions, though I suppose that would come down to how you define 'Almighty God') from holding public office.

As quoted from Article 6, Section 8:

“The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

Wow. That's pretty definite.

Article 6 goes on to also bar:

Second, with respect to any office that is filled by election by the people, any person who is not qualified to vote in an election for that office.

That one sounds reasonable.

Third, any person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony against this State or the United States, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of a felony in another state that also would be a felony if it had been committed in this State, or any person who has been adjudged guilty of corruption or malpractice in any office, or any person who has been removed by impeachment from any office, and who has not been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.

Yeah, OK, that makes sense too.

But obviously the most important thing is that you attend the right place of worship. Treason is also bad, but denying Almighty God, well, that's one step away from selling state secrets to the highest bidder anyway, right?

There is, naturally, some discussion on whether or not this is binding law given that the U.S. Constitution prohibits requiring a religious test as qualification for office (another Article 6).



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Extending Options

I use Google Chrome from time to time, so I should really check out this list of extensions to the browser, pointed out to me by Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day.

I use Firefox all the time and never really bother with any of those extensions, though, so I may not get around to making much use of Chrome's either. It's a shame, since I hear that's what's so great about Firefox (customization! cool plug-ins!), but I'm dull that way.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Krafty Librarian alerts us to the fact that Ovid is offering EMBASE Classic as a free trial this month.


We occasionally have people ask about this database, which I've heard described as "the European MEDLINE,"where I work, but we don't have a subscription because it costs a lot.  I'm automatically interested in it because it relates to stuff I do, but I've never actually seen it.

I may have to check this out. If I can dig out of the catalog updates and bindery preparations.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Yay, More Sports! Movie Review: Invictus

I am too weary to properly address this film, but I will say that it is about a lot more than rugby (although who really needs more than rugby?)

It is about how the love of a good sport (the aforementioned rugby) can unite a troubled and divided nation (South Africa).

I don't know anything about rugby, but the details aren't really important. The important thing is, it's a sports team that only white people historically rooted for, but which President Nelson Mandela supported as a way to give the whole country a shared enthusiasm and something to join together and cheer for. The movie covers their attempt to win the 1995 World Cup.

There are some decent sports-excitement moments, and thrilling scenes capturing the delicious madness of crowds. I was also interested in the characters of Mandela's bodyguards, who must look at said crowds with a wary eye, and who play major roles, and there are some interesting political details.

Not much in the way of libraries (though Mandela's office does have extensive bookshelves!), no more than a pulled hamstring for health, and of course this was back in 1995 so we don't see a lot of nifty gadget technology, so it unfortunately can't say much to the specific interests of this blog.

Sports movies, like sports, aren't really my favorite thing in the world, but this one was pretty interesting.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stocking Up on Event-Specific Tunes

If you're in the mood for a bit of Christmas-inspired music, but not in the mood to spend money on it, I recommend Amazon's 25 Days of Free promotion, which promises to provide one holiday song per day, December 1st-25th, as a free mp3 download.

Today's offer is a song called Christmas Tree by the current Queen of Awesome Weird Pop, Lady Gaga, and I cannot sufficiently stress how entertaining this is.

And don't worry, it's not a situation where you have to check in every day to get that day's song, or you miss it: all six songs posted to date are still available for download at the time of this writing.

I have to say that despite general crankiness and lack of divinely-inspired awe, I seriously love the classic carols, so if Amazon just wanted to give away Oh Come All Ye Faithful and God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen all day, I'd be happy. But only if they're sung in the classically approved manner (i.e., the manner I recall from my youth, which may not be the manner in which they were sung when they were new).

I have very little patience for reinterpretations of the classics, in which people take the opportunity to show off their awesome vocal talents by inserting creative warbles into these songs. Just sing it!

Also, if you're going to do We Three Kings of Orient Are, please make it as doleful as possible, and sing the whole thing, because those slow, mournful verses, especially when you get to "sealed in the stone-cold tomb," are truly wonderful. "Merry" Christmas? I think not. It's like a holiday funeral march.


Friday, December 4, 2009

I Don't Think That's Me

effinglibrarian at LISNews has posted an amusing flowchart designed to let you know whether or not you should become a librarian.

Sadly, it appears I myself should not have chosen this line of work, since I have no cats.

Oh well, too late now.

Also, that bit about liking books interested me. I feel that as a librarian I actually almost don't like books, or at any rate don't value them simply for being books, the way I used to. Yeah, I guess it doesn't hurt to like books (though liking electronic books and journals--i.e., computer screens--is just as important where I work), but you also have to be a bit cavalier about them. I mean, we do have to weed.

We throw away books no one wants to read. (Yes, I feel a pang of regret. But I get over it.) A librarian's view of books is professional, not romantic or idealized.

I like them to the extent that I believe they may be of interest to the library's audience. Beyond that, I can't afford to care about them. There are too many, and we have too little space: just because something is a book, doesn't mean I want anything to do with it from a work standpoint.

Although I suppose it depends on how you define "book." Maybe we could agree that a librarian as a general rule probably likes "books" as a concept (the Works or Expressions in FRBR terms?), but that getting all excited about individual books (or Items?) will bring only heartache.

People will insist on checking books out, breaking their spines, spilling things on them, losing them, etc. You can be filled with rage and sorrow over such mistreatment ("aaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!"is the kind of thing you can say), but that's tiring. So after a while you get a little blasé about it.

Like books? Yes, I do, of course. Now get that out-of-date textbook off my shelves!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

No, I Can't Prove That's Me

Interesting Blog of Rights post on Real ID, the proposed national ID card that's been bandied about for years now.

I was a little fuzzy on the details of this plan (I remember reading about it years ago when it was first bandied, and then, like many of us, I kind of forgot about it when no major changes to my immediate state ID were forthcoming).

For example, I had forgotten that if your state's acceptable forms of identification don't comply with Real ID, you're supposedly not allowed to use said ID when going through airport security. As the post explains, states were not happy about this (there were numerous objections based on privacy concerns, and it would also cost a lot to implement Real ID requirements):

[A]lmost half [of the states] passed statutes or resolutions saying that they would not participate in the program. Every state was supposed to be compliant by May of 2008; none of them were.

This left the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with an unpalatable choice. They could effectively shut down air travel in the U.S., or issue blanket exemptions to all 50 states.

After choosing option B and giving the states exemptions and a new deadline of December 2009, we find that here in December 2009, Real ID is still not in our wallets.

I guess sometimes ignoring things (or, more actively, passing statutes or resolutions against them) is the way to go.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Yup, That's Me

I see on Well and PsychCentral that someone did a study and found that the way people present themselves on Facebook is generally an accurate view of their personality.

It doesn't say what personality traits are expressed by failure to log into Facebook and update your profile on a regular basis, but presumably neglectfulness, distance, and lack of caring for others.

For shame, me. Why am I not on that that site five times a day like a normal, sociable person capable of engaging with others?

And in examples of Facebook's usefulness, I enjoyed GruntDoc's post about someone being late to work and one course of action being "I’ll poke him on Facebook" to remind him.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Job Loving Movie Review: Up in the Air

Tonight's show was Up in the Air, featuring George Clooney as a guy who happily flies around from city to city, living in hotels (he was home only '43 miserable days' one year!), for his job, which requires him to show up at companies and fire people.

I feel a great love for my job right now, both by comparison with that job (I would seriously hate that job), and by comparison with the people in the movie who get fired, many of whom are given the opportunity to express their feelings about it.

We learn from this, in case we didn't know or couldn't imagine, that losing your job sucks. The movie finds some dark humor in the situation, but doesn't gloss too heavily over that basic fact, and I appreciated that it didn't try to pretend everything is all peaches and roses for everyone.

There was some nifty technology involved, since the main character's company is thinking about moving to a remote, teleconferencing sort of model (telefiring?) that would mean he wouldn't get to travel anymore.

The movie brings in interesting ideas about the way this sort of remote communication can work. It's less personal in a way, and can let us get away with things we're afraid to say to someone's face (being broken up with via text message is still seen as pretty low) but it can also allow for more contact (you can send someone sexy text messages when you're both lying awake in different cities).

Is this new, flow-chart-managed, videoconferencing business the wave of the future for mass firings, or does it not quite work? What do we lose when we make these switches? Is hiring a total stranger to physically come to your office and fire your employees less reprehensible than hiring one to do it from a computer screen?

Given the notable lack of libraries and medical themes, the technology was what mostly tied this to the nominal subject of my blog, and I liked it.

I also liked the movie for not getting too sappy. A lot of characters are given a chance to make their various points, and many of the points are good and well phrased. I felt I had room to think them over for myself, without the movie really beating me over the head with one specific takeaway message, like "family is the most important thing in the world" or "sacrificing everything for love is the way to go" (or, alternatively, "family is a bunch of weirdos you try to get away from," or "ditch that deadweight lover and pursue a high stakes career or you're nothing").

Overall, I quite enjoyed this film. There was a lot of fun dialogue, nicely acted, in an interesting story.

Wow. That was hardly grouchy at all. My movie reviews are getting way off track.