Monday, January 31, 2011

Reference Desk Empathy

I've been working on some lines to demonstrate how well I understand the pain of the people who come to the reference desk.

"I'm not saying med school isn't stressful, I'm sure it's challenging and whatever, but I was playing Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and there are these challenges involving the "followers of Romulus" (whom I keep referring to as Romulans because Ezio is thinking ahead to the days of Star Trek), and with the military inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, that will truly test your fortitude as a human being*."

I figure this will show how I understand the priorities of kids these days who are studying in the health care fields.

*There were times when I was literally screaming in frustration. I hope it didn't freak out the neighbors.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hang Your Head in Shame!

This is pretty awesome: a colorful chart of The United States of Shame on Pleated Jeans.

It's a nice map of the U.S. showing something in which each state ranks worst. For example, my current state of residence, Massachusetts, is reported to have the "worst drivers."

Explanatory notes give the basis for each shameful fact. In the case of Massachusetts, it's "based on highest rate of auto accidents."

Yeah, well, maybe we just have really bad roads, did you think about that?

Other states in which I have spent considerable amounts of my life include Montana (worst in rates of drunk driving), and New Mexico (cited for being "anti-social," which according to the notes reflects a low ranking in "social heath policies," rather than general unfriendliness).

Anyway, you should check it out and see what your state has to be ashamed of.

I salute Why Evolution is True for pointing this out with the gloriously fitting headline "You suck."


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Listen Up--Or Not

s.e. smith on This Ain't Livin' has a post with an interesting (and basic) point about podcasts, which is that they're not going to be a great resource for you if you don't hear things well, or at all.

Transcripts can make this material accessible, but they're a lot of work to put together, so a lot of podcasters just write off this potential audience.

Hmm. I don't really do podcasts just because I haven't gotten into them...I don't listen to my iPod while I walk (because I like to have my ears open in case something happens around me) or ride the train (because I wear earplugs so as not to notice what happens around me), and at work I generally play music because it takes less concentration than something I'd be wanting to actually pay attention to.

And when I'm on the computer, I'm just reading blogs or something. But in theory, I think podcasts are a cool idea, and I'm all for it. And if I ever make one, I'll try to to remember to post a transcript as well.

My deathless words obviously should be available to all, regardless of ear function.

Where this is somewhat relevant to me, though, is in the little tutorials we sometimes make for work. How to search PubMed, and so forth. (Yeah, I know, the National Library of Medicine covers that topic pretty well and we could theoretically just direct people to their tutorials. But we have to address it for specific subjects!)

Lately the move is more towards video tutorials, which I kind of dislike anyway because I can read faster than most people talk in these things, so I'd rather read a slide than wait while someone reads something...but this reminds me that an additional concern is that not every student may be able to hear the vocals.

Of course we're also trying to be helpful by addressing people in ways that may match their learning style, since some people prefer to watch a video of something rather than just see a bunch of boring slides*, so we mean well.

We just better have included a written transcript of the voiceovers in those things.

*Not everyone is on board with my "Slides! The more boring the better!" agenda.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Successful professional geek Wil Wheaton has a lovely post about librarians, brilliantly titled "librarians are awesome."

He's talking about public librarians, and I second that. They are awesome.

Public libraries are precious jewels, and public librarians are the sparkles.

I mean, medical librarians are also awesome, don't get me wrong, but the public library was my first love.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wildlife Re-Wilded

For anyone who was eagerly following the story of the hawk in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room and for some reason was following it on this blog rather than on the Library of Congress Blog*: I am pleased to report that the hawk was captured and safely removed yesterday.

It will be rehabilitated (taught the error of its ways and given tactics to help it deal with the temptation to get into large buildings) and released into the wild.

No books were reported harmed in the capture.

Happy endings all around!

*In other words, for absolutely no one. But just in case.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

But What If Someone Wants It?

I frequently run into the sad fact that the books people don't use are in better shape than the ones they do. I have these internal dialogues.

Why weed this text? It's in great shape! Sound binding, clean pages, nothing scuffed or missing.

Only, it's 35 years old and the science of dental implants has perhaps advanced somewhat in the decades since it was published? Also, no one has checked it out since 1994?

I don't care! I am leaving this book on the shelf until it's tattered and worn out and looks like something that should be weeded!

Just kidding. I weed it. But it's unfortunate that the condition and sturdiness of the information inside cannot match the outer package. The information container, and the information itself, should match up. Yet they do not. It torments me.

Meanwhile, the new editions that people consult all the time are falling to pieces. Partly because of paperback, I think--most of the older ones are hardcover, which holds up slightly better. Also, we have a lot more students these days, which means a lot more people looking at books.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recording in Color

I was reminded at the grocery store this evening that security cameras are in color now. I remember it was some months back I first noticed it, but it wasn't so long ago that when you stopped to wave to yourself in the TV above the door (everyone does that, right?), it was only in black and white.

Catching hair color, clothing details, etc., must make it easier to identify people on the footage. Blurry color pictures are probably better than blurry black and white pictures.

Technology upgrades everywhere.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Hawk Update!

Still in the LC Reading Room, but in no danger at the moment.

Crafty plans to lure it into a live trap continue.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Make a Better Curse

Speaking of monsters, which I do from time to time, there's a good point on Pharyngula which I have sometimes thought myself: if your monstrousness is supposed to be a horrible curse, make sure it actually does something bad.

Also, it turns out, vampirism gives its victims a hypnotic glamor that makes them irresistible, and also an awesome sexual stamina. There is a cost, in that they have to drink blood, but it turns out that nipping a pint from a willing and enthusiastic partner once a week, preferably during the throes of orgasmic ecstasy, is enough to fuel all those superpowers.
So I'm having a little difficulty getting into the story. Every time the protagonist moans about her curse and these evil, rotten vampires who must have their heads ripped off before they eat her baby sister or whoever, I'm thinking the story should be about getting this poor crazy woman into a mental hospital to address her self-esteem issues, and about how she should be joyfully trying to share her gift with her family and friends. It's very confusing.

Ha. I haven't read this book, whatever it is (the title is not given, presumably to protect the innocent or something), but it's definitely true that some of the modern vampires are so glamorous and cool that you don't particularly feel sorry for them about their 'curse.'

Now my vampire book that I just this minute thought up is going to feature really, horribly cursed vampires.

Right off the top of my head, I think they'll have to drink blood (I mean, you're not really a vampire without that), but they'll really loathe the taste of it, so they'll feel sick all the time. Constant nausea!

That makes it hard to get stuff done. They'll be trying to use their special powers, which incidentally will be few and feeble, but half the time they'll just starve to death because they can't stand to feed.

Plus, they may be bristling with pustulent boils. That cuts the glam factor way down.

I'm still working out the rest of the details.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A View to Review

I seem to have made it a personal mission for some reason to keep half an eye on what's going on regarding Second Life (maybe only a quarter of an eye, given that I really only notice when someone happens to mention it in some piece I was already reading; I don't actually seek out material or go into Second Life or anything so actively research-y).

Given this fact, I could not help but sit up and take notice of genomicrepairman's post on an article in Science that discusses whether grant review could be done in Second Life. The full article is subscription-only, but here's the free summary:

Can the hard work of grant review be done without face-to-face meetings? With budgets tightening, scientific organizations like the National Science Foundation are exploring ways to reduce the number of their physical meetings by holding virtual-reality meetings in the online world of Second Life. Proponents see it as a win-win scenario, saving not only time and money but also carbon emissions. Whether the technology is up to the task is another matter.

So, yeah. Grant reviews and business-meeting-type stuff. Can we do it online as effectively as in person? Can we do it online in a virtual world like Second Life more effectively than with conferencing programs?

Tune into the future for the answers to these and other fascinating questions!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Wildlife and Data

Two things make my heart beat faster this evening:

The Library of Congress Blog has an update on the hawk-in-the-reading-room situation (with, sadly, fewer terrible puns).

And More Grumbine Science refers us to an awesome project that involves transcribing climate data. It's called Data Rescue at Home, and it involves looking at a picture of a page of handwritten numbers, and copying them in type.

It aims to collect lots of historical temperature data into a format that can be easily worked with. The pages have all been scanned, but the scribbled numbers are too hard for the optical character recognition programs to handle, so they want a human eyeball to examine the pictures and indicate what the numbers are.

It's basically like doing a bunch of CAPTCHAs all at once...but for a good cause! You'll be advancing the frontiers of science and such.

You can choose to work on either "German Radiosonde Data from the Second World War" or "Tulagi (Solomon Islands), station data." All the temperatures I've seen so far have been quite warm, which could be good or bad considering it's the dead of winter right now where I am.

Am I comforted, or filled with jealous rage, to think of 80-degree weather while it freezes outside?

It's actually kind of challenging. Some of those people had really bad handwriting.

"Is that a 1 or a squished-up 9?"

I can't do science, but I can participate in science.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wildlife News

Matt Raymond, on the Library of Congress Blog, reports that there's a hawk in the Main Reading Room. The guess is that it's a Cooper's Hawk, specifically.

Check out the post for cool photos and terrible puns.

A library is certainly not the idea environment for a hawk, nor a hawk the ideal visitor for a library, but it's more interesting than the large cockroach that holds first place in terms of non-human life forms I personally have seen from the stacks.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Archeological Update

Exciting news! Caligula's tomb has been found! Apparently it's near Lake Nemi, which is south of Rome. Judging from the photo, it's a very nice spot for a villa.

I expect it to feature prominently in the next version of Assassin's Creed. I can't even wait.

I saw this on Pharyngula, where I get all my news about tombs in Italy.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Don't Push It, Winter

I know people are not interested in complaints about other peoples' weather, but I have to say, it is a truly disgusting evening in Boston right now.

It was snowing this morning, which is one thing, but then the snow turned to rain, which turned the snow on the ground to slush.

The storm drains are clogged or frozen, so the streets became riddled with ankle-deep puddles of ice cold filthy water, and the sidewalks, if there's not enough of an indent to collect similar puddles, are coated with a thin, thin gloss of nicely slippery ice.

Don't forget that it's still raining, so you can get good and damp that way even if you don't slip on the ice and fall in a puddle.

And of course the slush will freeze solid overnight, so tomorrow it will be like trying to walk over acres of oiled golf balls.

Yes, by gum, this is weather that lets a person know he or she is alive! Right up until he or she freezes to death.


Monday, January 17, 2011


What About Our Daughters has an "annual Martin Luther King overlooked YouTube video post," which is this little meditation on the word 'maladjusted.'

King talks about how this is (or was at the time) one of the most commonly used terms in psychology, but how being 'maladjusted' to an unjust society is the right way to be.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Taking Up Space

Fierce argument rages (OK, more like 'some disagreement exists') over the issue of spacing. When typing, do you put one space after a period, or two?

The excitement began with a post on Slate by Farhad Manjoo, stating that one space is correct.

The explanation he provides, which I was interested to know, is that the two-space rule comes from the days of typewriters, when every letter was allotted the same amount of room on the page. This meant that M basically filled up that allotted space, while I was surrounded by white page.

Given that all text was filled with such visual gaps around certain letters, it made sense to leave an extra space between sentences, to make sure that the reader's eye registered the change. Now, when we have fonts wherein each letter takes up only as much room as it actually needs, the argument is that one space between sentences is plenty.

Sounds good to me.

I was going to think that it was just some quirky character trait in myself to be oddly fascinated by this topic, but a couple of responses--vehement disagreement from Talulah at Life Under a Rock, and a statement of conversion from Erich Vieth at Dangerous Intersection--demonstrate that I am not alone.

Also, that type-spacing is capable of rousing great passion.

I personally learned to type with the two-space rule, but I worked in the public relations office in college, and was informed that one space was proper for the little press releases we were writing. I got in the one-space habit from there, and never looked back.

I am not, however, particularly concerned about the spacing habits of others. I can't say I've ever really noticed, except in the case of one person I knew who used to throw in three or four spaces between sentences. That caught my eye.

But if you use one or two, it's not going to get my attention. I have my text and language quibbles that I always notice and that send me into fits of incoherent muttering about crimes against communication, but that isn't one of them.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Nice One!

I was pleased to see this post on 4&20 Blackbirds, where an author known as carfreestupidity, who has been riding a bike around Missoula, MT, even in the winter, thanks automobile drivers for being courteous.

It doesn't have anything to do with me, but isn't it nice to hear that people are treating each other well? A thank-you post is a lovely idea.

So I would like to thank the people responsible for clearing the snow off the sidewalks I use to get to the train. Nicely done, and in a timely fashion following our recent storm.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Just Do Whatever

I was thinking about the phrase "give free rein" lately. I see a lot of people write it as "give free reign."

And I can kind of see how they might both work.

Because a rein is of course the long strap of a bridle, which one uses to guide a horse. You tug on a rein to indicate that the horse should go left or right, or you give the horse free rein and don't provide any guidance, just let it go where it wants.

And reign is of course what a monarch does ("Elizabeth reigns here") or else the rule of a specific monarch ("this all occurred during Elizabeth's reign"). And I really don't think this is what the phrase started out to be, but you could see how giving "free reign" might mean giving someone the rule of something, so it sort of makes sense in the context in which people use it.

I learned it as "free rein" and that's how I personally would write it if I were going to use it, but there's a logic to the other way too.

If we wanted to get sophisticated about it, we could use both of them, but convey slightly different things with each.

I think of 'free rein' (with its sense of no guidance) as being given the ability to go wherever/do whatever you want, while 'free reign' (with its sense of ruling over something) suggests that you're given the ability to make other people do what you want.

If I have free rein of the castle, it means I can go anywhere I want inside the castle walls. If I have free reign of the castle, it means I can boss everyone inside the castle walls around.

At least, that's how I'm going to read it.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Entertaining Interludes

I forgot how much I kind of like working on web pages until I started a little project today.

It's nitpicky, eyeball-wearying work, so obviously just my style.

The fun part is how you can change things in the horrible-looking hidden side, on the server, and then go back and it will look all neat and cool on the actual web page!

My mind is blown.

It's like when I was two and realized that when you rub this colored wax on this paper--you get a mark! On the paper! (I don't actually remember having that realization, but I imagine it was pretty thrilling.)

More specifically, it's like the first time I realized you could change things in the horrible-looking hidden side, on the server, and then go back and have it look all neat and cool on the actual web page.

You'll probably be thinking "it must be nice to be so easily impressed, so you can experience that fantastic thrill twice," and you'll be right.

I have to say that the sense of awesome power is also a draw.

You have no idea what I could be doing to that website even now. I could put anything I wanted on there, and it would be official.

Until someone noticed and took it down and possibly fired me, depending on what it was. Probably just long poetic phrases about how cool I am and how much redheads rule.

I had that power at my last job, and I realize I may have missed it.

Of course I can put anything I want in the catalog, too, so that's taken the edge off for a while.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rampant Pointless Speculation of the Day

Where I work, there are some big double doors dividing one section of the building from another. The kind with a bar you press to release the latch so you can push them open (from one side--as you might expect the other side has a pull latch).

There's also a button you can push to make them swing open automatically. I've noticed that it seems like pretty much everybody who goes that way pushes the button rather than opening the door with their arms. I once saw someone walk past the button, and then take a step back to push it.

I think I would never do that because, hey, can't lose forward momentum! When I'm on my way somewhere, I don't backtrack! Precious seconds could be lost!

But it was worth it to this person. And in general it's worth it to everyone to push the button rather than press the bar and heave to get the door open.

I kind of wonder why.

Sure, the button certainly requires more effort, but it's not going to be a major effort for most people.

I'm not trying to make some woe-filled point about how lazy people are or anything. I don't have any particular stance on whether or not people should be opening doors with their muscles instead of with buttons. I don't think it's a big deal and I don't assume anything about a person's character based on this. I'm just curious as to why everybody does it.

Do they think the technology of the button is cool? It is, sure. I mean, the door opens on its own! Nifty.

Do they think the button is more hygienic? There's no reason to suppose that to be true--if everyone touches the button, it's no cleaner than the door latch (in fact, if more people touch it, it's probably less clean).

Are the doors that heavy? I never find them to be so, but perhaps I don't know my own strength.

Do the doors take longer to push open than to swing automatically? I haven't timed them, but as far as I can tell there's no striking difference.

I suppose the simple answer is that it's slightly easier to push the button, and people tend to like things that are easy. Done.

That sure was a satisfying intellectual exercise.

Now perhaps a better question would be, if everyone else seems to use the button, why am I the weirdo who always pushes the door open by hand (on the rare occasions I go to that part of the building?

I think it's partly because I have this vague sense that the button is set aside, like a parking space, for people who would have difficulty opening the door by hand (or who need to be closer to the entrance to a building, in the parking space example). I don't park in those parking spaces, so I don't push those buttons either.

They're not my buttons to push! I don't have the right!

This is not a rational argument, obviously, since it could actually hurt someone who needs the parking space if I'm using it, whereas it doesn't hurt anybody who needs the door to open automatically if I also cause the door to open automatically.

Not unless I intentionally open it into their back or something. (We can't rule that out. The person could be my mortal enemy.)

No, probably I open the door by hand for the same reason I take the stairs instead of the elevator: because I have a deep-seated fear that automatic doors are going to close on me and crush my head.

That's less simple than my conclusion for the first question, but I'm a complicated person.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Mind Wanders

This is the time of year when I always start to lose track of how old I am.

My birthday is in April; certainly not immediately following the new year, but still reasonably close to it, so I'm aware that it's coming up and I always start to think ahead to whatever age I'm going to be on that upcoming birthday.

Then I have to pause for a second sometimes and figure out which of the two ages I have in mind is the one I currently am.

The moral? Forethought is misleading, and I should start ignoring known future events.

So we have an LCME review next month? Whatever. Talk to me about it the day before it happens and maybe I'll care.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Curse It Up, Everyone

I wasn't aware that it was specifically illegal to curse at police officers in Pennsylvania, but apparently people get cited for it all the time. But no longer, happily for swearers.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit pointing out that "The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and many other courts, have made it very clear that profanity — including dirty words, foul language, and rude gestures — is protected speech."

I personally do not really advocate swearing at police officers, but if you must, and as long as you're not also punching them, then yes, freedom of speech it is. One should be allowed to say even rude things, even to police officers.

That's just how it is.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reading Matter

After putting if off through several "Don't lose your subscription!!!" "Renew now!!!" notices I decided to renew my subscription to Wired.

I don't have a whole lot of time dedicated to print magazines these days, but I usually learn something entertaining. Also, sometimes I can impress others with the valuable knowledge I've gained, such as when I recalled over the recent holiday vacation that fabric softener is made (in part) of horse tallow. Mmm...tallow.

Merely one of the reasons I don't use fabric softener. The other one is that sometimes I like to dress in sandpaper, and obviously I don't want to spoil the rough edge.


Saturday, January 8, 2011


It's cold out, and the world seems kind of scary today.

I'm going to huddle quietly inside and do some mending.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Word Peeve of the Day

I aim to be chill about language. It's an ever-evolving thing, you know? Be cool! Creative usage is how we grow!

But when there are two words that mean completely different things, I do like professionally published books to use the one that makes the most sense, assuming that the 'wrong' one isn't being used on purpose for literary effect.

I read The Passage recently, and I have a note for Justin Cronin's copy editor: 'retched' is vomiting or gagging or possibly dry heaving. Pronounced more or less like 'recht,' where 'ch' is soft like in 'cheese.'

Verb. Past tense of 'retch.' It's an excellent word, and I recommend it.

But if you mean pitiful, sad, bedraggled, miserable, or the like, you want 'wretched.' Pronounced more or less like 'rech-ed.' Two syllables.

Adjective. Also an excellent word, and I heartily recommend it.

I should know, right? I named my blog with it.

I swear I saw 'retched' about three times in this book in contexts where it made no sense at all, but where 'wretched' would have worked. It was weird. People looked 'retched' and so forth. Wait, someone looked 'vomited'?

Now if it was in the context of "Look what the cat retched up!" that would have been fine, but no, it seemed pretty much as if it meant 'wretched.'

And I completely understand that in the day-to-day world not everyone has a blog named after the contents of Gollum's lair, or has a dictionary right to hand, or wants to slow the rush of their thoughts to figure out which of two near-homonyms is the right one for the job.

Grammatical mistakes occur. If it happens on someone's blog or something, I'm not going to sneer and point and make fun of the fact that not everyone is as well-informed as I am about the fine points of vomiting versus being in a deplorable state.

I mean, I will, but I'll do it quietly, to myself.

After all, I'm sure I've made my fair share of glaring grammatical errors over the years, and I'll thank you to snicker quietly into your sleeve about them rather than making a big public fuss.

But if you're going to go getting published, I kind of assume that someone with a dictionary will review your work, and make sure all the words mean something that makes sense. As much as sense-making is part of your artistic vision, of course.

So it just seemed odd, in a large, much-hullaballooed novel from a major publisher, to have this strange mix-up. I'm not completely ruling out the possibility that Justin Cronin did it on purpose for literary effect, but if so, I have to say that effect is quite lost on me.

I suppose I also had some thoughts about the novel itself, but seriously, this word issue drives them all out of my head. Yeah, I read it, it had vampires, whatever. But did you get a load of the freakishly inapt use of 'retched' in there? Dude!

All right, I'm done for the night.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mulishly Clinging to Old Tech

I had missed the news that RSS is dying, but was soothed from the potential panic it would have caused by this handy roundup at Stephen's Lighthouse, which has links to three posts explaining that rumors of its demise may be somewhat exaggerated.

The takeaway seems to be that it probably isn't dying, it's just not an exciting hot technology and not that many people use it or care about it. Boooor-ing.

Those who do use it, however, seem to find it valuable, so it will probably keep existing.

Whew! As one who does use it, I can tell you right now that I would wither and die without it. OK, so I mean my blog-reading would wither and die without it.

I'm reading 200+ blogs, all of which I enjoy and learn from in various ways, but almost none of which I would be keeping up with if I had to visit each site individually to check for new content.

I just don't have that kind of time!

Why, just this very day a post appeared on a long-silent blog that I moderately enjoyed. I would have given up checking for updates and left that blog for dead long ago, but thanks to RSS, I instantly knew the author was back. There was this little "thanks to anyone who's still reading me!" note, and I thought, "don't thank me, thank...the knife!"

Wait, that's The Simpsons. And it was about a knife. I mean "thank...the RSS!"

You know, it's just easy.

I suppose if you don't care about following 200 blogs, it won't be as important to you, and that's fair. I'm not about to tell anyone they need to be reading 200 blogs.

But at this point in my life, I am, so I don't care if RSS is cool or not, I'm stickin' to it.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Book Goes There?

Hey, you should check out s.e. smith's first entry in a project to read and write about books that have frequently been the subject of challenges: The Year of Challenged Books.

The first post is on 1984. I should probably read that again. It's been a while, and I wasn't really paying attention to the artistic details and so forth. I didn't read it for a class or anything, so there was no formal discussion.

I was homeschooled, so the closest we had to book challenges was when my mom thought we didn't need to be reading Anaïs Nin's erotica quite yet and caused a couple of books to disappear. This is not so much a challenge, as that 'parental discretion' we're constantly hearing is such a good thing.

She was too late, anyway. We'd already thoroughly discussed the weird and juicy bits. By which I mean, pretty much all the bits.

Thanks anyway, mom. It was a nice thought, to try to keep me from being warped for life.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oh, Thank Goodness!

Rejoice!--at the following announcement from the PubMed New and Noteworthy feed:

The pager for PubMed and NLM Catalog has been modified to include the ability to jump to a specific results page.

That was a feature of the redesign that was bugging the heck out of me. If you had many pages of results you couldn't skip to, say, 5 of 10, but had to page through them one by one. Shudder.

Now you can type in the page number you want, hit enter, and there you are!

I am loving you today, PubMed. Even more than usual.


Further Journals on PubMed

I had previously expressed my grudging acceptance of PubMed's new setup, admitting that it had refrained from completely wrecking my entire working life by messing up the journals information (thanks, NLM!).

Well, now I have to suddenly move from grudging acceptance to wholehearted and gleeful embrace of the new 'Journals in the NCBI databases' replacement for the old Journals Database, because guess what they do that they didn't use to do?

Hyperlink to continues and continued by titles! This is one of those simple things I always kind of wanted, but it was never there so I kind of forgot I wanted it.

I got used to just copying the alternate title and pasting it back into the search line, and then if it's a title for which there are several similar titles, to sorting through them to find out which was the correct relation to the original.

It took seconds, I tell you entire seconds out of my life every time I had to do it. And you know those add up.

Now, I can see the related titles in the record and click on them and get to the related journal record. It's revolutionary! So much so that I had to take the seconds I would have spent looking for Emergency Medicine to write this blog post about it.

Now if this would only work in DOCLINE someday...


Monday, January 3, 2011

Horrifying News of the Day

All is not well for bees, as Twittered by the Guardian.

This means all is not well for people who enjoy eating, since "It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon pollination by bees."

Hmm. So potentially we should be getting ready to eat a third less.

For a few of us, this could mean a touch of peckishness. For others, eternal cranky hunger. For many others, death.

We're going to miss those bees.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sigh...Vacation Over

Gotta go back to work tomorrow.

However much I like my job, it seems like I'm never completely ready for a vacation to be over.

I could use another day, at least! A few more precious hours to sleep in!

Alas, it is not to be. Tomorrow is Monday, and school is back in session. Something probably needs cataloging, and there's the reference desk to think of. There are colleagues to greet and discuss the holidays with. Some things to order, and to pick up for the archives.

Also I have a book in at the library branch near work, so I'll be able to look forward to picking that up. I need to be working on this year's 50 books read, after all.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Keeping Up

Someone I know was working hard (and successfully) over the holiday break to finish reading 50 books for the year.

Fifty seems like a good, round number, doesn't it? Inspired to look back, I find that I myself read 53 books in 2010, or just barely more than one per week. I must give credit to goodreads for encouraging me to keep track of them all, since otherwise I would certainly have no idea of the number.

I must also give credit to a kindly co-worker, who frequently lends me books to read (especially YA fiction), and, of course, to the South End branch of the Boston Public Library, where I checked out many of the others.

It's been a group effort. Hooray for all of us!

I also watched I don't know how many movies (at least one a week) and TV shows (ditto), read probably 25 or so issues of various magazines, played four video games, and read many thousands of blog posts (to hazard a guess based on my subscribed feeds and a tentative average for number of times each posts weekly, maybe 25,000?). Also there were the online news stories, the daily free paper on the train, and the backs of some cereal boxes.

I'm trying to consume my fair share of media here.

Although I do notice I'm not keeping up with podcasts. I just haven't gotten into them, despite regularly intending to.

My consumption of web video, while not non-existent, is also rather puny. Usually I just can't be bothered to wait 10 seconds for a clip to load.

I demand that my media be instantly available!--or I'm off to grab a book.

My attention span is a harsh environment.

Edited 1/1/11 to add that Jessamyn at has a much more detailed list of books read last year, including such interesting information as the percentage of books by male/female authors, the percentage of fiction/non-fiction, and the percentage she liked/disliked/was ambivalent about.

Now that's informative!

Inspired once again, I went back to count my own books, and find that I read almost equally male and female authors (25 and 28 titles, respectively), and slightly more fiction than non-fiction (31 and 22, respectively).

In case anyone wants to plot this on a nice four-way table, of the 22 non-fiction titles, 14 were by women and 8 by men, while of the 31 fiction titles, 14 were by women and 17 by men. Given this distribution, I can only conclude that I prefer to have facts presented to me by female writers, and to enjoy tall tales by male writers.

I mean, I have to conclude something, right?

Another year's worth of data may shed new light on this question.

I did not feel up to quantifying the degree to which I liked or did not like each of these books (there are so many levels of enthusiasm to consider!), so I'm leaving that number out.