Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I don't usually do much for Halloween, much as I'd like to. I don't have a costume (well, I have a "spider witch" robe that has been my fallback option since 2007) and we live too far off the road to hand out candy, though I'd be home too late for that anyway, since I work until 7 pm. I do have some nice decorations from being in the 13 Mini Days of Halloween swap, but that's about it. We never even got around to going back to Stoney's for a pumpkin to carve. (We didn't carve one last year, either... or the year before that. I actually don't remember carving a pumpkin since I lived at my dad's house.)

At any rate, though:

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is here! There's nothing too bad here... it's raining but it really isn't very windy.

Of course, we had to go walk around the yard and check out what everything looks like.




I'll try to remember to post some "after" photos so you know what you're looking at (or rather, what is under the water you're looking at).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

VLA Conference & CNU Updates

I went to my first professional conference yesterday! It was the VLA (Virginia Library Association) conference, held in Williamsburg.

I went to four information sessions (one on Find It Virginia, one on Pinterest, one on Encyclopedia Virginia, and one on copyright law and fair use) plus the closing meeting which included the keynote speaker's address (Hillary Jordan was funny and well-spoken and I love her), and I visited vendors' exhibits, which is fun because I collected some swag. (Two books, a pen, a lanyard, a bag - other than the one you get for registering - some bookmarks and informational packets and handouts, and I got a USB drive from the Encyclopedia Virginia presentation.)

I brought Birk along with me, thinking we could go to Colonial Williamsburg or something like that afterward. Instead, we went to CNU and had dinner at Schooners, and walked around campus to see all the new construction.

The new Wingfield

More of the new Wingfield. That's the Admin building on the right.
What a beautiful campus. If only we were all a few years younger,
we could be going to school here instead of the old version.

Obligatory photo of the TribLib

Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was fun, it was informative, and it's something you're supposed to do as a professional librarian. They're having it in Williamsburg again next year, so I am probably going again then!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Twitter

Hey look, I joined the Twitterverse! I'm @alexampersandra. See? That's me, right there. Now I can tweet.

Mostly I will be tweeting about my various blogs and important things that I do. Things like my upcoming guest post on a certain famouser-than-mine blog, or going to the VLA conference on Friday. Tweetable things. Things I shall tweet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Mole Day!

Today is my dad's birthday! But that has nothing to do with Mole Day. (Happy birthday anyway, Dad.)

Mole Day celebrates something the scientific community calls Avogadro's number, which is 6.02 x 10^23. That's the number of particles (atoms or molecules) in a mole of something. (A mole is a basic unit of measurement.)

In eleventh grade, we could get extra credit for making something creative for Mole Day. I made a sock puppet of a mole (the mammal) who helped me give a brief talk about moles (the measurement) and Avogadro's number. He was pretty cute!

So, happy Mole Day, everybody! Science!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bonefish

Well, now I know why everyone says Bonefish Grill is so good... it is! We (my family and Birk and I) went there for dinner last night, and it was delicious.

As usual, when I find myself at a seafood restaurant, I got chicken. But it wasn't just chicken. It was delicious chicken marsala with garlic mashed potatoes and sweet glazed carrots. YUM. They also have really good bread, and the Bang Bang Shrimp that everyone is always talking about are not firecracker-hot like I thought. They're just fried shrimp with a remoulade on them, which is delicious.

This feels sort of like the verbal version of an Instagram photo of my meal, but mostly I'm posting this so that I remember that this was really good. (I have a terrible memory and I know it.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Library Holds

Until recently, I had never put a book (or anything) on hold at the public library, despite having used that same library for the past twenty years.

When I went to pick up the book I put on hold before, it blew my mind that the hold shelf was self-service. (That's not how we do things at academic libraries, usually.)

And now I just want to marvel for a moment at how unbelievably easy it is to put a book on hold. I went from finding out the title of the book I needed to put on hold to having it in the system in about 45 seconds. Granted, I use a library catalog literally every day, and I have my library card on a keychain attached to my ID holder, which is currently on my belt loop, so it was easy to log in, but still... pretty impressive.

I know I never had to use a card catalog or microfilm or subject indexes or any of the old-school library resources, but I still appreciate how easy we have it now. (Fun fact: the public library's catalog will even send you a text message with the call number of the book you're looking at if you ask it to. That way, you don't have to find paper and pen and write it down before you go to the shelf!)

PS - The book I'm putting on hold? Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres, for our review on 11/2!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I'm writing a guest post

Not here, that would be weird... Writing a guest post for my own blog. No, I've been accepted to write a guest post for a real, actual famous (semi-famous) blog with followers and everything!!!

I'm not going to say who it's for (although there's a little bit of a hint in the tags!) until the post is written and edited and approved and posted, which could be a while, since I just got the acceptance email last night, but I promise I will link to it on this blog when it goes up.

Exciting!!!

This is what blogging looks like, I guess.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

What else am I doing?

I was writing a post about how I haven't posted in two days because I've had a little migraine and blah blah blah and then I realized that nobody wants that. You don't want to read about it, I don't want comments telling me how other people handle their headaches (although, who am I kidding? I don't get comments in the first place), and it's just a very boring post overall.

So instead I'll take a moment to say CHECK OUT MY OTHER BLOGS!

I've just revamped the wedding blog, because of an announcement coming up on Saturday (spoiler alert: we're switching the venue).

Cassy and I will be wrapping up our mythology week on Review Me Twice tomorrow with a review of The Penelopiad, and next week covers non-fiction and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

I finished posting all the items from the Halloween swap at my crafting blog, but not much will be happening in the near future, because I can't be giving away my Christmas surprises!

And Peanut Butter, the Little Visitor, is having a good time, even though mostly we've just gone to work and eaten food.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yum, Indian Food

There's a new-ish restaurant on Lynnhaven Parkway called the Bay Leaf Bistro. Birk and I got around to trying it out last night, and it was DELICIOUS. It's Indian and Asian food, but mostly Indian. I don't eat Indian much because it has a reputation for being spicy, and I don't really do spicy, but this was sooo good.

Their naan is delicious (which isn't saying too much because I always think naan is delicious) and I had a vegetarian thing that had potatoes and vegetables in a red sauce that was pretty good. Birk had some kind of lamb thing that I thought was too spicy but was otherwise good. Plus we got some vegetable egg rolls (yum) and some fried shrimp appetizer. We both ate too much but it was great.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shoes

I bought new shoes! (I know, it's a slow news day.)

Croft and Barrow Boat Shoes

I've been thinking about buying those shoes for almost a year now, and they went on sale, so I bought them. (On a day when Alabama beat Mizzou 42-10, I might add.)

That's all I've got today. Told you it was a slow news day.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

I finally (finally) returned Hanna to Netflix without watching it. (I guess we just weren't in the mood for it. For a month.) And I got Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in return, because I didn't check my queue and change it. So I figured we ought to at least watch this one before I send it back.

That movie... is incredible. I mean, the plot is really basic and the characters are predictable and bland, but... Well. It was made in 1988 (that's the year Birk was born). The animation is incredible. Incredible!!! The only time it bothered me was when Eddie goes into ToonTown and his lighting is way off. Actually, when Judge Doom sprouts springs out of his feet to jump across the Acme warehouse, that looked pretty bad, too. But those were literally the only two instances of bad animation-meets-live-action in the entire film. Also, the animation in the very beginning? Amazing!

I told Birk it was like Finding Nemo. See, the animators got a huge lesson in actual aquatic biology before they started on Finding Nemo, and they showed off absolutely everything they learned. Whoever worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? got a lesson in drawing perspective, and they had to show off all their skills.

So I don't think I could watch it over and over, like some great movies, but it was worth watching once to see all the fantastic feats of animation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leisure Reading (Not Mine)

I've had a couple of students come into the library looking for "something good to read" lately. We librarians call these requests "reader's advisory" because we find out what they have enjoyed reading and what they like, and make suggestions based on that information.

The first one told me she liked The Hunger Games books, so of course I got really excited. I asked if she had read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and I am very pleased to report that she has, and she liked those books too. I told her a few other books that I like, because they're along the same vein, and told her what section she would find most of the books like that, and she came back with The Book Thief (which I haven't read, but want to, and many of my friends recommend it).

The second one came in asking for The Hobbit, which I only recently read (in preparation for the movie release in December, of course). I told him that the only copy we have here is annotated. When I told him what that meant (it has extra information, like cultural notes or added context or cross-references with other works) he said that sounded even better. Better! He preferred the annotated version of something, which implies having to read more! I'm so proud. (This student is always coming in looking for books that I like or think are interesting once he tells me about them.)

I like this trend, and I hope it continues. Maybe I can get the number of holds we currently have on Fifty Shades of Grey to become the number of holds we have on American Gods or Fahrenheit 451 or maybe 1984.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rudeness

I went to Pizza Hut on the way home last night to pick up dinner. (Don't give me a hard time; I worked 13 hours and it sounded delicious, and it was easy. Plus Birk and I got two meals each out of a $12 purchase. I don't care if it's greasy.)

There was one other customer there when I arrived, and she turned and informed me that she had been waiting for 15 minutes already. Okay... whatever. I ordered my pizza online half an hour ago, and I'm ten minutes early for the pick-up time I specified. I don't really care. Sitting on a bench and playing a few rounds of Scramble With Friends sounds fine to me.

So anyway, the PH girl comes out with a pizza for the woman, and opened the box to show it to her. The lady asked about bacon, and the girl pointed out that there was, in fact, bacon on this pizza. The lady, unsatisfied, does a lot of grumbling and heavy sighing and tsk-ing, but she pays. The lady is talking to the girl while the receipt is printed, and while she signs it and hands it back, but I can't hear what she's saying, because her back is to me. When she moves aside to gather her things, I hear some pretty rude things (but only vaguely, because I'm half paying attention, half wondering if I was in the middle of an episode of Law & Order: SVU the last time I closed Netflix). The PH girl says to the woman, "Please don't be disrespectful to me; I haven't done anything." The lady does some more grumbling and when she gets to the door, yells, "Shut up, bitch!" at the girl. While the girl, her coworker, and I watch, flabbergasted, the woman goes out to her car. The manager (I assume) went to the door and called out to the woman that there's no call for such language, especially to a polite high school girl who is working hard, etc.

The PH employees and I discussed the woman for a few minutes while we waited for my food to finish up (like I said, I was early) and I left them a big tip (I assumed that the previous customer had left no tip at all). I joked with the girl and tried to cheer her up because she really hadn't done anything at all. The lady must either act that way all the time (which must be just exhausting, really) or was having a bad day, but in either case, you don't act that way toward someone who has done you no wrong.

The whole point of sharing this (very weird, I think) story is to say this: be nice to people. Seriously, if your life is so messed up that you need to yell and swear at the high schooler selling pizza at 10pm on a Monday night, you really need to fix some things.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Must... Make... Presents...

I've received more materials for making Christmas presents! (I ordered them a while ago.) Obviously I can't say what they are, because any of the recipients could be reading this blog. (Actually, I don't think any of this group does, but you never know!)

I just need to clean, like, everything in order to make space to work on presents and make sure I don't lose any of them among my piles of stuff. Which means I have to do something I don't like before I'm allowed to do something I do like. Which means I feel a lot like a little kid who has to eat her cauliflower before she can have dessert.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Little Visitor Swap Open!

I know, I know... This isn't my crafting blog. But I didn't want to post about this on the crafting blog until the swap actually begins. But I'm SO EXCITED that I can't just NOT post about this!

Earlier this year, just before summer I think, I discovered that there's a "Little Visitor" swap. They were starting the 14th round and it was really, really popular. The basic rules are that you send a little "friend" (a plush toy, doll, something like that) to your partner, and you get theirs, and you have adventures with them! You take photos and get souvenirs for them to take home, and when you send them back, you include the souvenirs and a scrapbook of the fun they had with you! That is just SO MUCH FUN!

I just barely missed the sign-ups for the last round, and I was pretty devastated. I had filled out my questionnaire and tracked down the perfect little friend to send to my partner... and then I realized that the sign-ups were closed. Sad. I knew that round ended sometime in September, so I've been stalking the new swaps, hoping for round 15 to start soon.

And I'm in luck!!! Sign-ups started yesterday, and I've already sent in my questionnaire. I'll be setting up a blog for my LV when we get started, so my partner can keep an eye on him/her!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flu Shot & Halloween Swap Package

I got my flu shot last night!

Today it feels like somebody poked me hard in the arm with a finger, like I have a tiny bruise. But only when I lean on it. It's just like last year's.

But now I'm pretty unlikely to get the flu, hooray! That's a concern when you work with a library full of people and the computers and books and doors that they touch every day. I've already gotten sick once this semester (and I'm still coughing, I might point out... though it's steadily getting better) so I'd really rather not do that again.

I also got something else last night... My 13 Mini Days of Halloween Swap package! Except my partner went above and beyond "mini"! We chose to start opening on the 1st (so I got to open three things today, to catch up!) instead of the 19th like originally planned, so I've already seen a bunch of the amazing things she sent me. Now if only it would get properly cold outside so I can wear my new scarves...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vocabulary: Drayage

I learned a new word today! I was at a red light, and a truck pulled up next to me. I don't know the technical term for it, but it's the cab that goes with big huge box trucks, but without the big huge box. You know the ones.

The logo on the side said it was operated by So-and-So Drayage. (It wasn't really called So-and-So, I just didn't pay attention to the company name.) And I thought, I have no idea what "drayage" means. I figured it probably meant transport via truck... and as it turns out, I was right!

Go forth and use this new vocabulary word! I don't think I ever talk about transporting cargo by truck (or lorry) but I might find a reason to, in order to show off my fancy new word.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week

I've written about it pretty much everywhere else; I might as well write about it here... It's Banned Books Week!

That's kind of a misnomer (kind of) because in America, you don't really see books banned. They might be pulled from a school's curriculum or removed from a library's shelves, but even that isn't really banning a book. It's those tricky little freedoms we have, like speech and expression and press and information.

The politically correct term would be Challenged Books Week, because Americans are all about challenging books, apparently.

While the ALA does not claim to be comprehensive in their reporting of book challenges, they try to get as close as possible. They counted 326 challenges in 2011. That's down a little from 348 in 2010, and a lot from 460 in 2009... that's more than one per day! The most challenges they counted in the past decade was in 2004, with 547 challenges (one more than the 546 in 2006).

I am happy to have discovered that 2011 was the first year since 2001 that none of the top ten most-challenged books were listed for the reason "homosexuality." And Tango Makes Three usually was the one book listed for that reason, but it dropped off the list entirely in 2011, after a record four first-place most-challenged spots (2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010).

Typically, books are challenged for being unsuitable to an age group, but that usually isn't the reason listed. Reasons like "offensive language" and "sexually explicit" and "violence" are cited. (I'd really like to know what the "insensitivity" is that Brave New World is accused of. I have some guesses, but it's an unusual way to complain about it.) But the problem is that the real issue is that it's offensive language or sexually explicit content being given to the wrong person. Most book challengers are asking for the books to be removed from school reading lists or school libraries. Schools are more likely to cave to this sort of pressure than public or academic* libraries, too, because they are responsible for the welfare of minors, and it can get touchy. They'd rather be safe than sorry, and unfortunately, that means that a lot of kids are stuck reading the same boring classics over and over. Yes, anything by Shakespeare has a lot of violence in it, and yes, it is really ironic that they are usually still allowed to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, but some of the best writing being done right now is by YA authors, and teens shouldn't be missing out on that.

*School libraries refer to K-12 schools. Academic means college or university libraries. I know that can be confusing, so I thought I should clarify.

This is why you don't see books like The Anarchist's Cookbook on the list of the top ten challenged books for any year. No curriculum or school library is including the how-to book on making bombs and other dangerous items. And let's give the librarians a little credit, shall we? When I search for The Anarchist's Cookbook in WorldCat (which searches the catalog of every library in the world... for the most part) I get one result. One library in the world that owns that book. (If you're curious, it's Bowling Green State University.)

Another problem - a big problem - is that the people challenging the books won't read them first. If you flip to a random page of To Kill a Mockingbird, you're probably going to find something racist. It's kind of a huge point of the book. Just because the book uses "the n-word" doesn't mean it condones the use of it. In fact, it spends a great deal of pages explaining (in a literary, not didactic way) why it's bad to be racist. (It's been a while since I've read that book, but this is what I remember from it. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me.)

That's why I'm such a champion of Banned Books Week. You can't let other people being upset about a book being read by their child influence your experience by not allowing you to read it either. I think every one of my favorite books - and all the books that have helped me shape my ideas and viewpoints and opinions and personal characteristics - have a sex scene or a bad word or a violent plot point or nudity or something religious or racist or "insensitive" in them.

So I'll step down off my soapbox and come up with something more fun to talk about next time. In the meantime, saunter over to Cassy's and my new blow, Review Me Twice, and see what else we have to say about Banned Books Week.