Monday, December 26, 2011

Wrapping Up

As the year nears its close, I thought I'd get a head start on the posts one tends to see in bookish and library-related circles detailing the books that were read over the year. (My last year's note is here.)

I'm not going to list all the titles, because that would be a lot of copying and pasting, but I can say that so far I have read 106 books in the course of 2011. This is precisely twice as many as in 2010!

I can't really say why that is, since I haven't been working extra hard to double up on my reading, nor have I intentionally cut back on my consumption of other media such as blogs, magazines, newspapers and video games.

I think I have watched somewhat fewer movies recently than in the past, since I don't seem to be in the free screenings loop quite as often, and we switched to the streaming-only package from Netflix, meaning that we don't get regular DVDs in the mail that then sit around all brightly in their red wrappers waiting for us to play them. Still, most of my reading is done on the train during my commute, so I'm not sure how huge an impact that has.

Anyway, of these 106 books, 56 were fiction, and 50 were non-fiction, so I'm keeping things fairly balanced in that department.

Of the total, 38 were by male writers, 65 were by female writers, and three were collections featuring both male and female writers (all three with female editors).

I went on a pretty serious Brontë/Austen kick over the summer, catching up on some classics I hadn't gotten around to reading before, and that increases the count for both women and fiction. This is clearly reflected in the numbers when I break it down by fiction/nonfiction and male/female: 41 fiction books by women (or with a woman editor in two cases), compared to only 15 by men.

In nonfiction, 27 books were authored (or edited in one case) by women, and 23 by men, so apparently this year I prefer tall tales from women, but am willing to accept my facts more or less equally from writers of either gender.

I would like to thank my iPod Touch, on which I read a number of these as ebooks (tiny screen is a bit squint-inducing, but super convenient for travel), and of course my local public library, from which I checked out the majority of the remainder.

In conclusion...mmm...I dunno. I read a fair amount, I guess, and moderately broadly. I'm not sure there's anything of broad interest to be discovered here.

In conclusion, write better fiction, guys!

Ha, just kidding. It's not your fault you're not a Brontë or Jane Austen. Maybe 2012 will be all Mark Twain.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Oog. I ate too much pie.

Well, actually not quite enough pie, since the USDA recommends 8-12 servings of pie daily during the holiday season (the USDA on the street in my mind), but plenty of pie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Prepare Yourselves! MLA is Coming!

The Krafty Librarian advises us on a primary means of keeping up with MLA 2012: the already-functional official blog.

Check it out! Put it on your feed reader! It has a few posts so far, with deadlines and tips on visiting Seattle, and I'm sure additional useful information will be forthcoming.

Sadly, I am unlikely to make it to Seattle myself, since if all goes well I will have some sort of infant human to look after right about that time, but I encourage everyone who does go to have an exciting time for me. Be sure to request Lady Gaga at the Bearded Pigs concert.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Warm Fuzzy of the Day

I'm back, briefly! Working hard to catch up on the important things that have been going on in my absence.

I recommend this nice story on the Library of Congress Blog explaining how the LC stored the first draft of the 1918 Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence--obviously a document of some historical importance--until it could be safely returned.

Vaclav Havel, then president of Czechoslovakia, received it in 1991 and took it back to be archived in Prague.

Priceless historical material carefully saved and then returned to its logical home! It warms the heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mmm, Salad

Must pack, off to the Southwest tomorrow. Everyone behave in my absence. Don't have too much fun at the parties I can't attend.

Meanwhile, enjoy this post on Sociological Images about vintage ads for vegetable-flavored Jell-O and Jell-O salads full of exciting things like olives and celery. Yum.

It's interesting that these days we (speaking from my own experience and naturally assuming I speak for us all) associate Jell-O with dessert, so it's usually teamed up with fruit and whipped cream and stuff, not vegetables, while apparently it was totally a legitimate veggie side dish back in the day.

Or at least someone hoped that advertising would make it a legitimate veggie side dish.

My grandmother used to make a salad with lime Jell-O and shredded cabbage. I found it revolting as a child, and something about the pictured salads in these old ads, with bits of vegetable suspended in translucent molded blobs, similarly turns my stomach. Eww.

I've enjoyed a good wiggly dessert, but somehow a wiggly salad is just not cool.

But of course gelatin is derived from cow's hooves, making it more of a meat product, which means there's no real reason it shouldn't be linked to vegetables as well as, or instead of, fruit. As with so many things, it's all what you're used to.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sitting Home Every Night

I am not lucking out on the holiday parties this year. The big organization-wide work party is scheduled for the day I'm leaving for New Mexico, and the small office party is the day before I get back. Some friends are having one while I'm gone.

The apartment complex usually has one, but doesn't seem to have anything set up for this year. Although they'll probably do something at the last minute while I'm out of town. I'm beginning to think people are avoiding my festive company.

What do they say? "Lucky in love, unlucky with parties?"

They do now.

The thing is, with no rounds of parties to attend and remind me how busy things are, I'm not keeping good mental track of how much time has passed this month. It turns out quite a bit. I should have done much more shopping by now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Always Use Correct Terminology

MeSH updates for 2012 have been out for a while, so it's time to correct all the subject headings in our OPAC records. Yes! New terms!

We've heard rumors that there may be some way, in some system, to make this happen automatically, but we don't know what it is, in my library, so what this really means is that it's time for me to ask someone else to search for all the old, changed or deleted descriptors (like Indigotindisulfonate Sodium) one by one, and replace them with the shiny new descriptors (like Indigo Carmine).

Someone else will really enjoy that project.

While we're not sure about the existence of a way to have our OPAC talk to MeSH and update the 650 x2 fields automatically, we know there is actually a way to do a sort of 'find and replace' within the catalog that would at least correct multiple records at once, but to be honest we're kind of afraid of it.

What if we changed something in 50 records and then it was the wrong thing? And what if we couldn't just change it back? We could conceivably spend hours disentangling things. And we'd have to figure this out ourselves, because no one else knows how to do it either.

So it's kind of easier to have someone else do it the long way. Sometimes the thing that's technically more efficient is not actually the thing that makes the best use of available resources, that's what I tell myself.

Besides, we're getting a whole new ILS next year, so figuring out the cool tricks in Millennium at this late date isn't really going to help us in the long term. Therefore, heck with 'em.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm Out of Here. Pretty Soon.

This is going to be a busy travel month for me. I'm heading off to New Mexico on Thursday, then back the next week, then to Oregon for New Year's.

And since I'm not in the office for the intersession period when school's out, I just realized this means I only have 6 1/2 days of work left this year.

Niiiiiiiiice. I'm trying not to mentally sign out right now.

So long, suckers! Oops, that would be me failing in my attempt not to mentally sign out right now.

Sigh. OK...hi there, suckers! Let's do some work!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shuffling Information Along

Well, since Google Health is shutting down, and I might as well not have spent precious minutes entering all that information for nothing (not that I've ever really used it for anything), I've finally gotten around to taking advantage of their offer to transfer everything in my account into MicroSoft's HealthVault.

It was quick and easy to make the transfer, and HealthVault is free, so why the heck not, I guess. I still haven't seen much practical call for the personal online health record, but it seems like a good idea, so maybe one day it will catch on.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mmm, Unseasoned Frozen Vegetables...

My work offers access to this DASH Diet-based healthy life program online, and they're having a holiday challenge focused around not eating a entire ton of butter during this party-heavy season. (Half a ton, sure. We all need to enjoy life.)

I'm following along, largely because there's a slim chance of winning a prize by participating, but I haven't really been taking it that seriously...I didn't think.

But this week's 'assignment' is to get your recommended 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables (that's 5 of each, otherwise known as quite a lot of fruit and vegetables), and I just microwaved a cup and a half of frozen green beans and ate them straight out of the bowl because I was short on veggies for the day. (Leftover pizza has vegetables on it, what's the problem?)

Apparently I find impersonal web-based challenges more motivating than I would have predicted.*

Also, a bowl of green beans is more filling than I anticipated. This recipe may be a keeper!

*Although perhaps I should have predicted it, given that I just wrote 50,000 completely uninspired words simply because darn it I am going to win NaNoWriMo.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Bad, Apparently

Uh-oh. Apparently one is not supposed to post a review of a movie until the day it's released? According to this Slate article about early reviews, this is common knowledge for recipients of free preview screenings.

I guess I missed that memo.

Or, more likely, it doesn't apply to random people posting on tiny blogs, just to professionals writing for actual publication.

My scattered notes on whether or not movies contain any reference to libraries are probably OK.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vids These Days

The Krafty Librarian notes that NLM now has a YouTube channel. It features health information, contest-winning videos like "Fastest Librarian in the West," and information on events and exhibits.

I'm not especially well connected to the online video world, because I usually can't be bothered to stop reading long enough to watch something. I usually have blog posts and stuff I'm reading when I'm puttering around online, and if I click a video link, I'll have to stop!

It usually takes Felicia Day and The Guild to get me to play video.

But I know a lot of people are very fond of these moving pictures, so good on NLM for providing no-doubt-valuable information in this popular format.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wicked Games

I have finished Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and it was enjoyable--I cherished nearly every moment of climbing up on tall buildings, running along meticulously detailed streets and rooftops, and striking terror into the hearts of the wicked*--but it didn't really reveal everything I had wondered about.

My final reaction was along the lines of "that's all very well, glowing dude, but how does this explain why you made me [do something to] [someone] at the end of the last one?"

What about [someone], game? What about that? 

I know. Play another game, that's what. And I totally will.

But this is the question that haunts me, and don't think I'm going to forget about it. (Another question that haunts me is, why did they change Desmond's face? But whatever, I'll deal with that as a non-story issue.)

I especially cherished the moments of beating up minstrels. And the moments I added myself where the cry was "Knives! Knives for everyone!"

I'm in the middle of Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature, about violence and how it's declined from levels seen at previous points in history, and it does make me feel a little curious about how fun it is to pretend to beat up and assassinate people. My real life is pretty calm, so let's add some pretend violence!

I suppose this could be either the 'safety valve' theory (since there's always the strong chance that I would actually go out to beat up and assassinate people if I couldn't release my tensions by playing this game version instead), or, more likely, the theory that people can tell fiction from reality. A fictional story that resonates with a lot of people will often have some sort of conflict (many guides to storytelling say there has to be conflict), and that means that there will often be violence, which maybe is something we can enjoy in part because it's not something we would actually do.

Or that we have personal experience with, that might also help. I'd probably think it was less fun and more drudgery if I actually did have to climb towers and kill people for a living.

Siiigh...I do this all day and now you expect me to come home and pretend to do it in an old-timey setting? I want to play the Yardwork Simulator instead.

*And also into the hearts of all the random guards who crossed me. But look, if they don't want to die, they shouldn't try to keep me from running on rooftops and assassinating people. It's just common sense.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Minor Achievements

Hm. About the most I can muster up the energy to do this evening is look at this newly installed MS Office 2011 for Mac. Well. It's very ribbony.

I should also download RefWorks and Zotero to see how they work with this version, so I can leap into action to address any questions about them at the reference desk...but I think that might be more than I can manage at the moment, given my advanced state of yawningness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back to Work, I Guess

I see via Newspaper Rock that there's a new interpretation of the Mayan glyphs on which we're all basing our assumption that the world will end in 2012, and that it suggests that the glyphs do not actually make this prediction.

So...we're just supposed to plan to carry on after next year, then?

Darn it, I was kind of looking forward to joining together with my neighbors for an orgy of looting and burning in a vain attempt to add some warmth and material comfort to the bleak end of days. (I live in a very take-charge kind of neighborhood.)