Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mmm, More Bugs

Going directly into my files for "life is gross, but whatever," and "let's all eat more bugs," here's Bug Girl with a nice post on Skepchick explaining why we shouldn't necessarily freak out about food products dyed with insect extract.

It turns out insect-derived dye (cochineal) may be more sustainable, and is certainly no more weird, than the alternative, Red Dye # 40, which is made from petroleum. Yum.

Bugs or petroleum? Honestly, they both sound so delicious that I wish there were a way to enjoy them at the same time, in some sort of super-red food that was advertised with the catchy slogan "Now with more types of dye!"

Somebody should get to work on that.

I am a vegetarian these days, so I suppose in theory I should prefer the petroleum, but I'm honestly not as concerned about consuming bug bits as I am about bits of larger animals. Call me a hypocrite if you must.

This being so, and since there are bits of bugs in a lot of processed foods (check out the post's link on coffee and chocolate for exciting details on exactly how many insect fragments are acceptable in 100 grams of chocolate!), I'm really not very concerned about this.

No, I wouldn't just pick up a bug and eat it, unless I were really hungry or getting paid a lot of money, but  if undetectable pieces of bugs are in the sweet, sweet candy I was going to eat anyway?

Whatever. It's still sweet, sweet candy. Hand it over.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Learn Something New Every Day important item in the field of Peep research, too long neglected by me (it's from 2003), and passed along by Catalogablog. This study focuses on the research habits of Peeps in the library, offering valuable insights such as the Peeps' tendency to employ advanced search techniques such as consultation with a librarian.

I note that Peeps do appear somewhat more likely than college students, the comparison group, to suffer injury and death on library premises. To avoid unfortunate accidents, then, one take-away message from this study is that Peeps should probably be closely watched while in the library.

But be careful who you have watching them, since some library staff may themselves pose a danger to sweet, sweet candy.

Not me, though. I'm more of a danger to chocolate than to marshmallow. Your Peeps are safe with me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When Duty Calls, Can You Hang Up?

Oh, heck. I'm on the Local Assistance Committee for MLA'13, and I just recently got forwarded mail (yes!--the postal system works!) asking if I want to chair the Carla Funk Award Jury for 2012-13.

I've done MLA committees in the past, I totally want to be involved, but do I want to do two of them in the same year? I kind of didn't specifically volunteer for a committee this year, partly because of this LAC commitment, and also because I'm not going to be at MLA'12 to take part in the committee meetings so I miss out on the transfer of information.

But they tracked me down anyway! Can I refuse my professional association in its hour of need?

I suppose not.

Ah, well. I mean, what else am I doing these days?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crispy Deliciousness is Good

I thank Women's Health News for the happy information that popcorn is totally awesome for you. Full of antioxidants and stuff.

I like popcorn! I should eat more of it.

Of course they say you shouldn't drown it in butter lest that make it less totally awesome for you, but come on, even if it's partially awesome with a little butter, that's still some awesome.

So crunch up, everyone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Well, That's Something

Many of us--OK, the few of us who cherish this sort of thing--were horrified to learn that the Census Bureau was ending publication of that huge and magnificent source of information, the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

We can be a bit relieved at the news that ProQuest has announced it will be taking over production of the report beginning with the 2013 edition. No word (that I could find) on how much it will cost, although the press release notes that the online and digital versions will be available for pre-sale starting next month.

It's hard to see it as a totally awesome development, with everyone's tight library budgets, if we now have to purchase something that used to be included in the cost of our taxes, but I guess it's better to have that as an option than it is to have this resource disappear entirely.

So thanks, ProQuest. I'm glad someone's doing it.

I initially saw this on LISNews.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Important Reading Update

I have much to catch up with online, but have been spending most of my non-work time either unpacking or reading.

I wanted to finish Neal Stephenson's  Reamde before I gave it back to the library whence it came. Which turned out to be a slight challenge, partly because it's over 1000 pages and I started it while we were moving, but also because I stopped reading it in the middle so I could read N.K. Jemison's The Kingdom of Gods, which I checked out of the library later but wanted to read even more.

So I wound up keeping Reamde a day late, possibly the first time I have ever had an overdue library book, because I really wanted to finish it (and couldn't renew it, since other people had it on hold after me).

I guess this speaks well for both books--I put all else aside because I couldn't wait to read The Kingdom of Gods, and I committed the grave misdeed of keeping a library book late because I couldn't let Reamde go unfinished.

Good work, authors, writing books I must read even when packing, moving and unpacking!

Now, all finished with these fine books, I should dedicate much more time to the unpacking, but it's also very tempting to play Mass Effect 3 instead. I was hoping to get through a significant portion of that before the baby, but it doesn't look as if that's going to happen, considering all the boxes everywhere, so I'll just have to do my best when I can. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012


After a hard day of moving and having no access to the internet yesterday (it was eerie and disorienting, and I had to strike a careful balance between taking deep, soothing breaths and hyperventilating), we are in a new apartment with our network set up.

Aaaaaaaah...that's the life.

I quickly enjoyed this post on Rough Type about one under-noticed sad aspect of the cessation of the Encyclopedia Britannica's print edition: the fun juxtaposition of terms on the spine, telling you which entries start and conclude a particular volume.

Now, although there is much more web-related material to catch up on, I have to go read a library book that's coming due soon. Or unpack some more, but you know I want to try to finish that book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Too Easy to Steal

Bill at Unshelved talks about the intellectual property issues of comics, which are so easy to copy and post that it's basically impossible to assure that they're not being reposted on sites where you haven't authorized them.

I don't write or draw comics (my closest approach is probably the illustration for my awesome sock life extension plan, which, though awesome, is probably unlikely to be reposted by anyone), so this isn't something I've thought much about, but yeah, that's got to suck.

So, well, be nice and obey copyright law and link to the author's site, don't copy the whole comic, OK?

Unless it's something like xkcd, which you can post, with attribution, under a Creative Commons license. Basically, just make sure whatever you do is OK with the artist/copyright holder.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Keeping it Cool

Cleaning out the freezer this evening I found:

  • 1 1/2 bags of frozen green beans
  • 1 loaf of bread
  • 1 ready-made pie crust
  • 1 bag of whole flax seeds
  • 1 jar of ground flax seeds
  • 14 cooler packs of various sizes

I think we're probably OK on cooler packs. Maybe we could even take the opportunity provided by this move to get rid of a few.

Although I guess they do improve energy efficiency by keeping the freezer full of cold things, and the freezer at our new apartment is bigger than this one, so what the heck.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yes, Spring

I was all proud of us for remembering to set the clocks ahead yesterday, and then I just noticed that our wall calendar was still on February.

 We've got a lot on our minds, you see...little details like what month it technically currently is tend to get away from us. But the clocks, we're on top of that.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Ah, it's time once again for a Daylight Saving Time post!

Here it is: We woke up and set our clocks forward.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ah, the Good Bad Old Days

Those among my legions of followers who haven't been using public transportation in the Boston area for years won't get much out of this, but...remember before the Charlie Card, when you got a different-colored pass every month?

The Charlie Card is way more practical, don't get me wrong. Purely in terms of convenience, having the same card automatically reloaded with a new monthly pass is far preferable to getting a completely different card every month.

Still, from an aesthetic standpoint, Charlie is kind of boring.

Back in the day, remember how pretty the passes were? Check these out:

All those colors. I like colors.

Somebody used to have a job that involved picking out the colors for each month. That must have been kind of fun.

And yes, that represents several years worth of monthly subway passes that I have been holding onto even though we've been using the Charlie Ticket design since 2006. Because I knew that someday I would want to show them to you.

One day, when high-tech materials allow Charlie Cards to be remotely reloaded with a new pass and automatically changed to a cool new color scheme every month...then we'll be talking.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Heck With 'Em

Intriguing post on Librarian by Day wondering whether libraries should be investing so much energy in ebooks given the various flaws in the system.

I like one of the opening paragraphs, which responds to the "but patrons want it!" argument with the quite true point that patrons want all kinds of things that libraries can't always give them.

Ebooks are definitely an issue that not's going to go away, but it does seem worth considering not dealing with them at all (at the moment), among the other options for managing them. You've got to think about all the angles.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snuff it Out, Then

Interesting news on Science-Based Medicine about smoking bans and public health.

It's obviously hard to draw precise conclusions about things like this given the vast number of potential confounding factors, but it seems a few recent studies are suggesting that bans on smoking in public places may in fact have measurable public health effects.

There are studies from Scotland suggesting a reduction in premature birth and low birth weight, and in hospital admissions for asthma, after a ban, and one from the US linking a ban to a decrease in incidents of acute myocardial infarction.

Meanwhile, predictions of economic devastation have not really been borne out. Apparently people still like to go out to eat and drink even if they can't smoke in the building.

I might argue that some of them, if they don't smoke themselves, like to go out even more if they know they won't come home smelling like cigarettes. But that's anecdotal.

Anyway, these bans are controversial, and no doubt this won't be the last word, but it's certainly interesting to hear about the results.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Entirely Too Busy

There's just too much going on right now.

We have to pack so we can move by the middle of the month, and we're having a baby at the end of the month, and now Mass Effect 3 is out. I so want to play it!--but I have this sense that the more responsible course would be to continue packing.

But I want to be playing it right now!

I'm still in the middle of Skyrim, too. Too much to do.

Then I see on Why Evolution is True that Oreos are 100 years old today. If I'd known sooner, I'd have gone out to get some, but I suppose it's just as well I didn't. It would only have been another thing I had to do, and I don't really have the time to plan a party right now.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Go Forth and Be Counted

Oh, we have an election tomorrow. Hm. Better go exercise that franchise.

There's that whole presidential primary thing, I suppose, if you're into that.

But mainly, here in Massachusetts, we also have some ballot initiatives, like medical marijuana, assisted dying, some business regulation, and something about the public schools.

I am all over that. If you're in a Super Tuesday state, better go be all over it too. The democratic process needs us!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

But I Might Want That!

Does anybody still want CDs? I was packing, and filled half a box with my (relatively unimpressive, I know) CD collection, none of which I've listened to in several years because all my music is mp3s now. I don't want to throw them away, that seems like a waste, but...what do you do with CDs anymore?

I haven't even gotten to my tape collection.

Or the floppy discs for my ancient computer. Or the computer itself, which, why do I want to expend the energy to cart that off to another apartment when I haven't even turned it on in a decade? (Does it even still turn on? I don't know.) And yet, if it still functions, it has copies of my college papers and such on it, and even though it's not as if I care about re-reading those (certainly I never have), I don't just want to throw them away either.

I mean, maybe aliens will land, and for some reason I'll be the person they wind up talking to, and it will be important that I convey some crucial point about Russian literature, and I'll be able to look it up in my old papers and basically cheat off my old self by stealing my arguments about Turgenev's approach to the transmission of wisdom, which I totally don't remember but could refresh myself on with a quick scan of those pages.

Hm. Even I have to admit that this is a pretty unlikely reason for someone to ever need their old college papers. And the fact that it's the best one I can come up with suggests that I could probably lose all access to said papers, and never miss it a single day in the rest of my life.

This is why our current apartment doesn't have room to add another person, you know. Because we're clinging to so many worthless, priceless relics from the past.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Precious, Precious Content

Props to the Krafty Librarian for reading the policies on content ownership for a ton of different social media sites and reporting them in one handy post.

It turns out some sites basically claim ownership of anything you post on them to do whatever they want with, while others specify that you do own your content, but still claim the right to use it in various ways.

To some extent I suppose that seems fair. If I build a platform other people like to use, it's reasonable if I get to benefit from their activity in some way. What way, though? Well, that's the question.

Since many of us are not going to swear off social media, I guess we'll all just play along with the grand experiment and see what happens. But if you want to be better informed along the way, it couldn't hurt to read up about these sorts of policies to figure out exactly what different companies can do with the information you give them.

Then make sure an unpredictable portion of that information is weird but plausible lies, just to throw them off.

For example, I used to collect china figurines of geese, preferably geese wearing gingham hats. Ideally there would be a basket tucked under one wing. Flowers in the basket were optional.

It was a thing I did.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Handy Tips

I have to admit I've pretty much forgotten all about Wolfram Alpha since its exciting debut some years back, but this How-To Geek post, as recommended by iLibrarian, gives some good tips on using it for 10 different useful tasks, such as generating hard-to-crack passwords, checking if you're legally drunk, finding words beginning with one letter and ending with another, and more!

You never know when any one of these things could come in handy.