Thursday, October 27, 2011

So far this week. . .

I've tried, over the last two days, to add a badge to the margin of my blog. Fail. So here it is, embedded in this post:

Visit Library 2.0

I've attempted the addition in both Internet Explorer and Safari. I'll try Firefox next. If that doesn't work, well, maybe Chrome will make the difference. It feels like I'm messing about with multiple personalities, each with its own little peculiarities. Ah, technology.

My LinkedIn account is finally up and running. I had avoided LinkedIn despite numerous invitations to set one up. I really didn't want yet another online account to manage, especially when it seemed superfluous. But the Poulsbo library offered an evening workshop about LinkedIn, a workshop that clarified how I might actually be able to use it, and now. . .I'm in, and just in time, too, because it was through my connection to WLA's LinkedIn that I learned about Library 2.0, a 'round-the-clock virtual library conference to be held November 1-2. More on that after I attend two of the sessions. (Click on the graphic or the link for more info on the conference.)

It's been an enlightening week. Thanks to a British blog, I've rediscovered two phrases that I need to use: fiddly bits (odds and ends) and faffing about (messing around with.) Hmm. I could have used faffing about up there in paragraph two.

My emoticon skills have grown now that I've discovered an all-encompassing emoticon chart. The chart sorts emoticons by culture and region. The Asian section, especially the Japanese subset, has the best ones; my computer's character set needs to be upgraded before I can try them out. However, here's a new one that I can make: <* )) >< It's unlikely that I'll have an opportunity to include this in an email or chat since conversations about fish are rare. If nothing else, it's a unique addition to my Useless Skills list. One note about that chart - I had no idea how many emoticons there are that represent Naughty Bits. Good heavens.

A coworker directed me to youtube for a video titled Aggressive Bee, written and performed by MC Mr Napkins, a comedic rapper. Rap isn't even close to being a favorite music genre but I love this video. It's rumored that his Vegetable Rap is amazing but it isn't available online.

Overheard on Twitter: I will not write while in the air. I will not write in airport chair. #DrSeussBusinessTrip

Until next time. .

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some diverse items


I've had the dubious pleasure of being home with the flu for the last week. Putting up a blogpost was on my list of Ways To Pass The Time but even sitting at a keyboard was too much activity most days. I'm still home but at least I've been able to do some work online in an effort to catch up.

One sorry result of my time at home: I have overdue books, unrenewable due to hold requests. Alas.

I could occasionally prop myself up with my laptop to browse around the Web. As usual, I found some delightful things and would like to share them.

First on the list, a Proclamation concerning children's books.

A response to Occupy Wall Street.

I don't remember how I found this but the wander was worth it. (The video submission is creative. And strange.)

Prayers for Myers Briggs Types. I'm an INTP, my test result in 1983. Do these things change with time and experience?

Some wordplay. A cognition quiz.

And, finally, a little technology comedy done magnificently on the BBC's One Ronnie show.

It's time for a nap.

Overheard on Twitter: After having a baby, my friend is able to drink wine again. I'm visiting her today to help with this. That's just the kind of friend I am.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Camping. Alas.

We tend to travel on the western side of the state because we are unabashed heat wimps but it was time for our final 2011 campout and we needed to expand our destinations. We checked out the campgrounds in the Cascades and decided on Lake Wenatchee. We could raid fruit stands for some of our camp food - we love fruit stands - and Leavenworth was nearby if the campground turned out to be too mosquito-ridden.

We arrived in the early afternoon. Wow! The lake was beautiful and the temperature was just right. We liked our campsite, too. We could see the lake through the trees and it was an easy walk to the beach. The campground was quiet. We took a walking tour of the area and discovered that only eight of ninety-nine campsites were occupied, which explained the peaceful atmosphere. There were no mosquitos, only random swarms of gnats.

We set up camp and spent the rest of the day on the beach. We soaked up the just-right sun. We watched a sail-board slowly traverse the lake, zigzagging its way from shore to shore. Squirrels chittered at one another, birds called out as a hawk approached, the breeze gently rustled the trees. . . we headed back to camp after watching the sunset over the lake. The evening finished up with a clear starry sky and firelight. We remarked how odd it was to be comfortable in t-shirts. We'd be in our flannel jackets if we were back home.

We felt completely refreshed. As we settled in for the night, we noticed that the breeze was a bit louder in the treetops than before, a lovely go-to-sleep sound. We drifted off.

We awoke to wind. Really strong wind. Our tent was partially flattened with each gust. The gentle breezes of the previous evening were gone. It was clear that we'd need to put up a tarp for a windbreak or we'd be blown across the campground. Two trees near the firepit were perfect anchors.

The Windbreak Construction really deserves a post all its own. The tarp, until it was tethered, made an impressive sail for the person attempting to hold it up. Suffice to say that it was a successful Spousal Bonding Opportunity. There was no respite from the wind anywhere but directly behind the tarp. Respite, that is, until we lit the campfire.

Have you ever relived an event from earlier in life, triggered by a cataclysmic event? I was suddenly seventeen again, in my science class, and I could clearly see the chalk diagram illustrating how air moves around an object. The air (we had learned) doesn't always go around the object and continue on its way. The air goes all kinds of directions, depending on the density, size, and shape of the object. Judging by the path of the campfire's smoke, our windbreak encouraged the air to curl around and return to the alee side, bringing smoke into our little sanctuary. The campfire shouldn't have smoked - we'd brought our own firewood from the oldest, driest section of our woodpile - but enough wind reached the fire to fan it into smokiness. The airflow also picked up ash from the pit's previous fires and added it to the mix.

The wind was relentless. We scavenged rocks to anchor stuff to the picnic table. We attempted Double Solitaire but the cards wouldn't stay put. Book pages flapped as we tried to read. We walked to the lake to see if the wind was gentler there. It wasn't, alas, but we sat on a log anyway and watched the whitecaps for awhile before retreating to our windbreak. Making a sandwich was a task fraught with peril. The constant roar in the trees, coupled with the tarp's incessant flapping, was maddening. The wind. The WIND! Aaiieeee. . .

We were thoroughly wind-burned and smoke-grimed by late-afternoon. We grabbed the soap and towels and headed for the showers. Ken wrestled with the door to the men's shower because the wind blew so strongly against it. I wished him well, rounded the corner of the building, and sailed into a blizzard of gnats. What fresh hell is this?? I waved the insects away from my face and hastily retreated back into the wind.

The gnats had found their own sanctuary. Every gnat in the campground had gathered there, apparently, refugees from the wind, a massive congenial swarm that completely blocked the restroom entrance. The swarm was so thick that the door wasn't visible. Should I skip the shower? Absolutely not. I was in Battle Mode. It was a measure of my wind-induced mania that giving up the shower meant that the wind, along with its allies the gnats, had won. I took a deep breath, flung the towel over my nose and mouth, squinted my eyes, and strode through the swarm. I exited in the same manner. Gnats traveled back to the campsite with me, adhered to the wet towel and my damp hair.

The wind was so strong that we couldn't light the Coleman stove for dinner. There was no way we were lighting another fire and dealing with smoke. Dinner was a scavenge-through-the-cooler affair which took two people to accomplish, one holding up the lid and one rummaging frantically. We went to our sleeping bags much earlier than usual. We eventually fell asleep despite the architectural challenges our tent was experiencing.

The wind continued unabated the next morning. Packing the tent was entertaining, as was taking down the tarp (sail, sail away). We finally got everything into the car and headed out of Lake Wenatchee State Park.

We'd traveled for an hour or so and it was time for a snack. I unearthed string cheese and blueberries from the small cooler at my feet. Some of the berries were past their prime. Blithely unaware of vehicular aerodynamics (by now I should have known better), I tossed a wizened blueberry out the window. The wind returned it, depositing the berry down my back through the small opening between my neck and my shirt collar.

At least it's not a juicy one, I thought as I attempted Blueberry Retrieval. Ken glanced over at my contortions and decided (wisely) against inquiry. I located the blueberry and, now fully aware of airflow, sent it once again out the window. The rest of the journey home was uneventful apart from dealing with some Wenatchee gnats who had come aboard during the packing.

Yurts on the coast are looking good for next year.

Overheard on Twitter: Serious question: why would a grown man use a fake Irish accent to ask a question at the reference desk? (No Lucky Charms in sight.)

Until next time. . .

Friday, August 19, 2011

Christmas In August

Behold! It's the time of year when I dig out my Christmas tunes and start practicing them in earnest. This is a brief post, sharing some of the music that I'm focusing on this year. The best thing about Christmas 2011 music? I get to play these with Sonya, my harper friend. We're going to make a CD for family gifts (thank you, Multi-Track GarageBand.)

So, here are a few examples of what we're working on, an eclectic mix of mp3 and midi. Midi files are wretchedly electronic, but midi was all that was available for several of these. Alas. At least you'll get an idea of what the carols/hymns sound like, if you're not familiar with them.

Laudate Nomen Domini - new for Sonya and me, a big challenge with the different parts.

'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime - a little fancier (vocal) version

St. Basil's Hymn - a snippet, but at least it's a longish snippet.

Carol of the Bells - a dulcimer-friendly version that will take me all the way to December 1 to learn, probably.

We have all the traditional tunes, of course. And a good thing, too, because we can only learn so many new ones.

By the way, if you would like to listen to some excellent dulcimer music, visit Hammered Dulcimer MP3. It's where I found several of those mp3s up there.

Overheard on Twitter: Kid, to me: "You're as old as Kourtney Kardashian." Let me set the record straight, people: I'm closer to KIM's age. (Every month counts.)

Until next time. . .

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Have you ever wondered what happens to words that the OED has officially retired? They eventually disappear unless dedicated wordaholics continue to use them, saving them from extinction. Admittedly, some words may not be worth keeping around except for their sheer novelty. Language adapts as a culture evolves and some words are simply no longer meaningful. A word's definition can change dramatically, too, affecting its usage.

I found a website that has a pretty clear mission: Save the Words. You'll find a lot of humor there, especially in the "Spread The Word" section. You can formally adopt a word, print a certificate of adoption, and dedicate yourself to the word's use. There are words so archaic that they seem suspect. For instance, several look like words invented for a sci-fi novel. Phasianic is one, clearly pertaining to Star Trek weaponry rather than, um, pheasants. (Yes, pheasants.) I haven't yet adopted a word but I'm leaning heavily toward latibule. I might actually be able to use it in a sentence. An eccentric sentence, but still. It could happen.

If you're a writer (or would like to be), there's The Daily Mayo ("The best filling for the writer's sandwich") which offers writing prompts and exercises, book reviews, quotes, and (my favorite section) definitions for uncommon words. This is where I found agroof, which means to fall on your face. I particularly like it as a past-tense verb, i.e. I missed the stepping stone and agroofed.

Speaking of writing, there's a lot of discussion out there about emoticons, aka smileys, and the proper grammatical use of parenthesis with those smileys. To address the uncertainty, Grammar Girl has developed an easy-to-follow flowchart which you may find helpful and which I think will also make you smile.

Finally, something not related to words at all. The Dutch know how to include playfulness in everyday things, clearly demonstrated by the occasional improvements they make to their mass transit stations. This is the country that turned a public stairway into a keyboard, each step a note, for commuters' enjoyment. The newest addition is a slide, as reported by the Huffington Post. I doubt this would be allowed in U.S. transit stations given how injury-conscious we are, and isn't that a terribly sad state of affairs? Look what we're missing!

Overheard on Twitter: Google just helped me do basic math. It's come to this.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

101 in 1001

If you've surfed around the Web for awhile, you may have noticed a trend in BlogLand: challenges. They come in many forms and are intended to help participants step up and do something. For example, there's a challenge that requires posting a photo every week, joined by folk who want to improve their photo skills. Another helps people declutter their homes. The best thing about these challenges is the informality. You can "join" one at any time. There's no formal membership or set of rules, just some structure and an invitation to jump in. And, really, "challenges" may not be the best word for it. They are invitations, kindling inspiration and action.

One that recently caught my eye is called "101 in 1001", via Day Zero Project. In this project, people create a list of 101 things they want to do in 1001 days. I've read a few lists over the last week; some are posted on blogs that were created specifically for tracking the goals. The lists reflect the variety of humankind - some are organized by subject (Personal, Professional, Art, Health) while other lists have no organization at all. One list is filled with whimsey, contrasting with several that are deeply serious. I'm pondering my own list. "Update my blog once a week" will probably be on it.

Overheard on Twitter: I'm collecting pretentious/cheesy source-plus-noun descriptions - creamery butter, garden vegetables, smokehouse barbeque. Others?

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 8, 2011

We finally saw it. . .

. . . we saw True Grit, the Coen Brothers film, and I've been humming part of the soundtrack all day. I love how they wove old hymns into the music, especially "Talk About Suffering". I first heard that song on a well-worn Doc Watson record and hearing it in True Grit inspired me to listen to him again. The LPs are long gone but I found him on myspace, of all places, and you can listen to all of his recordings there, if you're interested. Click on See All to get the whole list if the link doesn't take you there.

I also found "Down in the Valley to Pray" in the list, a hymn that the Coens used in O Brother, Where Art Thou (it was sung as "Down in the River to Pray".) O Brother is one of my favorites, both film and soundtrack. The Coen Brothers know how to make great movies. I wasn't sure how they'd insert their signature quirkiness into a Western without messing up the story but they managed it well. It was much more subtle than usual. Well, subtle except for the dentist wearing a bear. That scene was classic Coen.

Netflix has revolutionized our movie-viewing. We're currently alternating movies with The West Wing, a series that we didn't watch when it was on television. We miss a lot of stuff while it's current and end up catching it in reruns or through Netflix. We didn't watch more than a couple of episodes of Seinfeld, despite its popularity, until the last two shows. We started watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? just as it finished its final season. It's too bad of us, but there it is.

Overheard on Twitter: If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room.

Ha! Small but mighty. Stay tuned...


Following librarians on twitter guarantees at least one good smile every day. This tweet was too good to save for a future post:

I think more adults would sign up for summer reading if it were actually ADULT summer reading (if you know what I mean and I think you do).

Stay tuned.

A Milestone

We're a foreign-car family, preferring Toyota and Honda to Chrysler and Ford, so our purchase of a used Ford Escort Wagon in 1996 was an aberration. We were planning a long August road trip, Port Orchard to Colorado Springs. Our travel would take us through Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. We knew we'd be encountering blazingly hot weather. We wilt in 80 degrees so air conditioning was a big deal. The Escort presented itself. It had just 29,000 miles on it. We dithered for a couple of days. The price was good, the mileage was great, it had air conditioning (but it's a Ford...)

We bought it. It's been a good car, mostly. It took us on our 3500-mile road trip and kept us cool, even in 104-degree Moab. But the reasons for our Ford Aversion have proved to be valid over the ensuing years. The transmission has had recurring problems. The clutch was really nasty until a wizard of a mechanic fixed it. We've learned all the acronyms for Ford - "Friend Of Repair Department" is the most apt. But here we are, at a milestone.

Yesterday, the odometer rolled over to 200,000 miles.

Will we buy another Ford when this one finally gasps its last? No.

In Adapted Signage news, this crosswalk sign was sighted by our friend Ryan on Pacific Avenue.
The image for the right-hand button is from "Portal", a popular single-player video game.

Pacific Avenue didn't used to have crosswalk lights. If you wanted to get from one side to the other, you had to sprint across six lanes of non-stop traffic. Years ago, Alden and I were at the Washington State Museum for a grade school field trip. After the museum tour, we wanted to find a place for lunch. We were on the north side of Pacific Avenue. All of the eateries were on the south side. Alden took one look at those six lanes and said, "Wow. Frogger." I laughed. He was referring to a video game in which you had to navigate your frog across multiple traffic lanes. If you lacked skill, your frog got squished. His comment described our situation perfectly. I'm happy to see that Pacific Avenue now has crosswalk lights.

By the way, we have a new favorite No Parking sign. We so want to change it to No Barking in Median.

Overheard on Twitter (posted by a librarian while on the desk): Kid signed up for a computer. He said to his friend: "I have 30 minutes to wait. I'm going to go read." MY GOD, IT'S A MIRACLE.

And that is that. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Etcetera. . .

Blogpost titles are sometimes the hardest part of writing a blog.

Despite all precautions, I recently caught the pestilence that is making the rounds, a cross between a bad head cold and the 'flu. I was home for two days on the classic fluids-and-rest cure.

Fortunately, I had a stack of newly-purchased books, books which included Cranford, Memoirs of a Mangy Lover (ah, Groucho), Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, and Tales My Father Taught Me by Osbert (Osbert!) Sitwell. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb was in there, too. That one was a thrilling discovery. Most used-book sellers aren't familiar with Mr. Lamb which means it's up to me to dig in and look at every single title in the Essays section. And, because he's so little-known, Charles sometimes ends up where he doesn't belong, as was the case with Tales From Shakespeare which was languishing in Fiction. Tsk.

Blogger's aside - One of the great things about reading turn-of-the-century books is learning new words. I can usually surmise the meanings from the words' context but once in a while a word demands that I put down the book and look it up. That was the case with quondam, which means "former." I like this word a lot but doubt that I'll be able to use it in casual conversation (my quondam car was a Renault 8. . .)

Anyway, getting back to being home sick. . . I settled in with my books and germs and Theraflu, passing a pleasant enough morning, but reading palled by mid-day. Now what? DVDs! I watched The Man Who Came to Dinner. I watched a collection of Oscar-nominated short films. Finally, I watched How to Train Your Dragon, a delightful movie I'd waited far too long to see. I was a little puzzled during the first bit. Something seemed. . .off. At last it dawned on me - the characters were Vikings but they all spoke with Scottish accents.

After that, I turned to the laptop. When indisposed, there's nothing like surfing around the Web. As always happens, one link led to another and I found some Things You Probably Haven't Seen:

- The Laughing Housewife, a blog I follow. The cartoon in this post made me smile.
- The Musical Visual Intelligence Test, brought to my attention via Stumbleupon. It's challenging but fun. Shameless brag: I scored 83%.
- Totally Absurd Inventions, a site that lists unusual patents, including some that have been filed recently. Click on a patent's name and you'll see all the documentation. (I don't understand how someone could actually sleep while wearing an Insomnia Helmet.)

And, discovered this morning through a facebook friend, one of the best Product Review sections ever. It's an ad for milk on Amazon. Tuscan Whole Milk. You must read the reviews. Just scroll down and read them. You won't be disappointed.

Overheard on Twitter: Romance Title of the Day: 'From Playboy to Papa!' I can't decide if the exclamation mark denotes excitement or horror.

Next time:. . . I'm discarding this traditional end-of-the-post item. I originally ended blogposts with it when we were doing technology training at the library; with krl2.0, I knew what the "Next time" subject would be. But now the subject might be anything, depending on what happens between posts; new posts are rarely what "Next Time" promised. Therefore, today I bid a very fond goodbye to "Next time." But who knows? There may be an occasional cameo appearance.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Slugdom

Today's plan was to head to Folklife with Amy. I was hoping to join the Band Scramble, a Sunday Folklife tradition. Band Scrambles are great fun, incredibly impromptu opportunities to make music on an hour's notice with people you've just met. The Scramble begins with names - participants put their names in a jar. Names are then drawn in groups of four or five, each group becoming a band. The bands have one hour to identify and practice a tune together before performing it onstage.

Bands are not typically balanced - it's just the luck of the draw that decides which instruments will be together and how skillful the musicians are. I was once in a Scramble band made up entirely of beginners and it was a challenge to find a tune that everyone knew. We finally settled on "Happy Birthday" and performed it with an exuberant Irish flair. Several years ago, my band was made up of four fiddles and a kazoo. Yes, kazoo. Neville hadn't healed enough for me to play my dulcimer so I took some of my secondary instruments to Folklife. You wouldn't think a kazoo would be welcome in a Celtic competition but the fiddlers graciously let me in once I'd explained the reason for my instrumental limitations.

Anyway, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, Folklife was on our schedule. I was up much earlier than necessary and decided to spend thirty minutes with a book and a cup of tea. Thirty minutes turned into two hours and a missed ferry. Amy wasn't up yet. The sky didn't look very promising. I went online to review what was on for Folklife and behold! There are no Band Scrambles this year. (The organizer, John Ross, passed away in 2009 and nobody stepped forward this year to keep the tradition going.) However, I discovered a dulcimer workshop scheduled for Monday morning.

So, I went back to my book for another hour of reading, then browsed a bit around the Web. I ate a cupcake for lunch and watched birds enjoy the suet feeder. I washed the dishes and made another pot of tea. Amy eventually emerged from her room. I stayed in my PJs until 3:00.

I frittered the day away and it was glorious.

Overheard on Twitter: My experience changing my rate plan with ATT was frustratingly straightforward and trouble free. Now what can I complain about?

Next time: a brief Folklife report. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Further Random Library Adventures

I thought applying for a Seattle Public Library card would be a straightforward process. Silly me.

The online application was easy indeed. It took less than five minutes to enter the required information and submit it. The confirmation instructed me to show up at a branch, any branch, to receive my card.

Two weeks later, I entered the Queen Anne Branch. This was my library back in the early 1980s, just three blocks from my apartment. It was a lovely old building, primarily one large room with radiators for heat, dark wooden floors, and windows high above the shelves. It smelled like floor wax and warm wood and paper. The staff had been there a long time and enjoyed talking with their patrons.

They had a lot of slow days, alas, which eventually prompted SPL to close the branch. Budget woes came along just as demand for reopening the Queen Anne branch began to build. There was hot debate about the future of the building - would the community use it enough to warrant a remodel or should it be sold? The community won. And here I was, visiting my old library once again.

I browsed around a bit. The floor plan was certainly different, chopped up into small areas by glass-and-wood dividing walls. They'd moved the checkout desk closer to the entrance. Hold shelves were right in the middle of nonfiction along with a tiny Reference desk, some opacs, and the public printer. It felt cluttered and tight. I decided to get on with picking up my new library card.

I approached the desk with my ID and KRL library card. The lone staffperson carried on with her task, clearly unprepared to interrupt what she was doing. There was a two-foot-wide counter between us. I waited. No response from her beyond a quick glance at my purse.

"Excuse me, I applied for a library card online. What do I do next?"

She looked up, blinked, and held out her hand for my ID. I waited as she typed something. She looked at me, sighed, and said, "You understand this isn't free since you live outside the city limits?"

"Ah," I replied, "my library, Kitsap Regional, recently entered into a reciprocal agreement with SPL. It should be ok for me to get a card without the fee."

More typing. Another sigh. "You need to register first."
"I do? I've already filled out the online application."
"I can see that but you still need to register. You can register on one of our computers."
"Okay. Where on the website do I find the registration? I didn't see it when I applied online."
Another sigh. She handed back my ID. "Come over here."

I followed her through a maze of walls and shelves to a single computer tucked into a corner. She brought up the screen I needed and left. Alrighty then. I looked at the screen. The registration consisted of confirming my email address. Are you kidding me? I filled in the two oh-so-important registration fields and hit Enter. Done! Back to the desk.

"I'm back!" I announced, holding out my ID and KRL card. "Now what?"

More typing. Pause. Type, type, type. She reached under the counter for a library card, scanned it, and handed it to me. She turned back to her task. I found the Humor shelves, chose two books, used self-checkout, and headed to my car.

What an experience! Had they had a difficult staff meeting at the Queen Anne branch that morning? Perhaps SPL's never-ending reorganizing and budget concerns are beginning to wear out the staff. Who knows? I was suddenly, deeply, homesick for the branch that this place had once been, back in its day.

I've gone to a couple of other branches since then to pick up my holds. The Lake City branch has expanded well beyond the small brick building we visited when our kids were pre-elementary age. You know the adage "You can't go home again"? That has certainly proven true for the Seattle Public Library of my memory. Oh well. I'm still having a grand time with their collection.

Overheard on Twitter: I grabbed a tissue, blew my nose, and then thought "This tissue smells like my cat." #whatsbeengoingonhere

Next time: whatever presents itself. Stay tuned.

Random Library Adventures

I've owned a King County Library card for five years. Amy needed access to RosettaStone to practice Japanese. KRL didn't have RosettaStone but KCLS did and when I learned that I could receive a KCLS card through a reciprocal agreement with our library system, I signed up and received my card in the mail. Easy! Amy was able to hone her language skills - mission accomplished. Since then, although I've never checked out a physical item, Ken has used their databases for school, supplementing his access to KRL and Olympic College databases.

And then, behold! Seattle Public Library entered into a reciprocal agreement with KRL. This was pretty big news and we had a flurry of questions from our patrons. The conversation usually went like this:

"Will it work like Interlibrary Loan?"
Nope, you have to check out and return items in person.
"But can't I place holds and have them sent to my branch?"
Um, no. You have to check out and return items in person.
"Can I return Seattle Library's books back to KRL?"
NO! You have to check out and return items IN PERSON.
"But what if I'm not going to back to Seattle anytime soon?"
Then you shouldn't check out anything because you have to check out AND RETURN IN PERSON.

Frankly, happy as we were about the reciprocal agreement, it was also driving us mad.

To make matters worse, one of our patrons visited an SPL branch, received her card, and was told that she could return her books to another library system. Sigh. I made a polite what-the-heck call to the offending branch. It turned out that SPL's agreement with KCLS allows items to travel back and forth between those library systems at no charge. The staff assumed that the same was true for KRL.

Things did eventually settle down. We still find an occasional SPL book in the bookdrop but we no longer mutter over it.

I pondered getting an SPL card but ultimately decided that we didn't visit Seattle often enough to make it worthwhile. That changed, however, thanks to my involvement with WLA. I learned that I'd need to be in Seattle for several WLA meetings, spread over four months. I'd be able to check out and return items in person. I went online, filled out a library card application, and chose the Queen Anne branch to pick up my card.

I couldn't place holds until I had my card in hand so I browsed the catalog to see what I might like to order for my second visit. I was astonished. They had Elizabeth Goudge books that I'd never been able to find! They had The Collected Works and Letters of Charles Lamb! I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy shop.

My meeting day arrived at last and, when the meeting ended, I headed to Queen Anne. The experience of actually getting the card deserves a post all its own but for this post, suffice to say that I was finally able to check out a couple of books from their Humor section. I've been back since then to pick up Goudge and Lamb. I am thrilled to have my very own SPL library card.

In other humor news: alas for Pastor Camping and The End Of The World. It isn't at all funny that so many people placed their trust in his prediction, selling or giving away everything, quitting jobs, leaving their families. . . it is sadder than sad. I cannot imagine what they're experiencing now. As a Christian, it's painful to see how ridiculous the Church looks when folks like Mr. Camping come along. I want to tell people, "Don't just blindly follow this guy - read the Bible for yourself and make sure he's teaching what's really in there."

What I did enjoy was how people responded to the whole thing, both before and after. There were many rancorous comment threads about religion and Crackpot Christianity, of course, but the overwhelming response was more lighthearted. People posted photos and commented on Twitter, businesses adapted their signs (Taco Bell: "Now Hiring May 21 Survivors")...there was even a facebook page dedicated to "Post-Rapture Looting." My favorite, at the end of the day, is this billboard.

Now the world gets to wait for 2012.

Overheard on Twitter: Math teachers wanting to illustrate the concept of Infinity could do worse than this line for rental cars.

Next time: acquiring a Seattle Public Library card. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where has all the sunshine gone. . .

. . . long time passing. . .

Ken Schramm recently dedicated his morning show to people who wanted to call in and whine about the weather. He also invited one of KOMO's weather reporters to give listeners (aka whiners) a reality check. According to the statistics, this isn't the wettest, coldest spring in recent memory - 2010 was. I'm a Child of the Northwest and don't complain much about the weather, unless it gets too hot, but even I am growing weary of how cold it is. The morning program on KOMO was cathartic for those who called and entertaining for those who listened. A lot of the comment was pretty funny.

The program reminded me of an old Bill Cosby routine about Seattle. Referring to Seattle's reputation for unrelenting rain, he mentioned a compliment he had overheard: Hey, you look like a prune! to which the complimentee replied Why, thank you! Cosby also noted that the population gets nervous when the sun shows up, ducking and asking one another what have we done??

Bill Cosby is timeless.

I spent some time with Alden last week, giving him a ride back to Seattle, and our conversation turned to altered street signs. He had discovered a No Smoking sign that some clever person had changed:
No Pie! I love this kind of humor. There's something about the unexpectedness of it, the surprise, the discovery that someone had a moment of inspiration and acted on it.

We talked of other signs we've seen. One of the best used to be near Carkeek Park in Seattle, a crosswalk sign that had been altered to "Stop For Me, It's the Claw". The silhouetted pedestrian's hand was rehabbed into an ominous three-pronged appendage. I went back a few days ago to take a photo but, alas, the sign has been replaced with the traditional (boring) one.

Our conversation turned to signs that we could alter and Alden came up with a grand one: change the word Parking to Barking. It would be so easy to do and would only require a fat-tipped marker. Think of the possibilities! No Barking, 2-hour Barking, Staff Barking Only. . .and there are city blocks that offer barking zones: No Barking East of Here at one corner, No Barking West of Here midway along the block (you may bark over there but not here.) I'm a law-abiding person but I am deeply tempted by this. Parking signs will never again be quite what they're supposed to be, for me.

Overheard on Twitter: A few minutes ago I came so close to spelling "unbeknownst" correctly. So close.

Next time: random thoughts on my new Seattle Public Library card. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good heavens... has been full lately.

At the library: 1) we had a fresh Epic Technology Fail, an event handled with grace and good humor by staff system-wide. 2) We learned that, if somebody smokes a great deal of pot next to the Kitsap Transit office door, the big fan in the wall by my office will pull the scent right into the building and it will smell like a freshly-deceased skunk. 3) I've entered several items in my Toilet Events log. 4) The roof continues to develop new leaks, offering opportunities for creative drip-catching. 5) You would not believe the things we've found inside returned books.

Our daughter, Amy, is still in Tokyo. She was in class when the big earthquake hit and she ended up staying at the school for 14 hours while things settled down. It's been a one-day-at-a-time saga since then. The school was closed for a week, reopening as the trains began to run again. Amy had stayed with friends for that week and she was thrilled to finally head back to KCP and reconnect with her teachers and friends but, alas, most of the students had returned to their home countries. They've now combined the two upper level classes into one class of 10 students. Her 12-story dorm has three residents, Amy (10th floor), Sarah (11th floor), and the dorm manager. The term ends on Friday. We're still working on getting her return ticket changed to a date earlier than April 9.

I suppose this experience is a good test for Amy, since her goal is to live and work in Japan. She loves the culture and people. Her language skills are certainly up to it. We've often joked that she was born Japanese. So, we shall see!

I've always enjoyed twitter, facebook, flickr, and etc, but I am now thankful for social media. We've finally chatted with Amy in facebook, getting a real-time update from her on the true conditions in Tokyo. We send email to her phone (it shows up as a text message) and when she texts a reply, it arrives as email. She uses twitter for quick comments. Early on, I posted updates to Amy's facebook Wall so her friends could be assured that she was ok. I posted updates on my Wall for family and friends.

You wouldn't think humor could be found in something so dire. Every day brings news of developments and discoveries - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors damaged and leaking radiation, Japan (the entire island) shifted eight feet, the rising number of aftershocks (I stopped looking at that when it reached 500), the earth's axis tilted an inch; I finally posted that Godzilla should be showing up any time now. When a volcano erupted at the southern tip of Japan, a friend commented that Gamera might be joining him. (I could immediately tell who among my friends had enjoyed those old Japanese films.) Amy told me that my post made her laugh and it helped her feel calmer. We affirmed that we weren't making light of the disaster; we were recognizing how surreal it had become.

In other news, Ken and I visited Port Townsend last weekend. It was one of those gettin'-out-of-Dodge-City sort of trips. We both needed a break. We decided on a Sunday-Tuesday visit. We browsed the shops, walked a lot, tried to do some geocaching (which deserves a posting all its own), and had every meal out. We visited several bookstores and I had a grand chat with one of the librarians at the Port Townsend Public Library. We hunted for beach glass. I bought supplies for an altered book project and Ken took lots of photos of Victorian buildings. Port Townsend is a sleepy little place this time of year and we enjoyed it immensely. It was just what we needed.

Now we're back and I'm in full-blown Conference Prep Mode, working on my session materials. I'm presenting two sessions, one as a co-presenter and one all on my own. The solo session is "Accidental Leadership" (some have greatness thrust upon them) and I'm on the hunt for humorous images for the visual part of the session. I found the perfect image for the "Don't isolate yourself" portion:
I hope the session is helpful and fun for those attending it. For me, presenting at a conference is a bit like jumping from a roof into a firemen's net - I know it will be fine but there's still that deep breath beforehand.

Overheard on Twitter: Why don't they make ALL shampoo "No More Tears"? Apparently now that you are an adult, crying is just part of it.

Next time: hostile geocaches in Port Townsend. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Random things

One of our spousal goals for 2011 is to host a monthly Game Night. We decided on this after a conversation about friendship and community. We have a broad circle of friends but most of them are busy with family commitments involving either teens or aging parents (sometimes both) and we have to book them well in advance if we want to get together. We hope a regular gathering will make it possible for people to plan ahead and be able to join us. If nobody can come for an evening, Ken and I will still play a couple of rounds of Farkle.

We've had many engaging Game Nights with friends over the years. One of the best games is Taboo. We've laughed more with that game than any other. If you've never played Taboo: there are sets of cards with a word at the top, a word that one player must help his teammate guess by providing clues. A list of words that you can't use (taboo!) is found beneath the primary word. The goal is to get through as many cards as you can in three minutes. The team receives one point for every word that is correctly guessed. If the clue-giver says any of the forbidden words, the team loses the point for that card.

Every time we play Taboo, we're reminded of a particular game night. We were at George and Martha's home. It was Husbands vs Wives. Martha was the clue-giver and it was up to me to guess the words. We had successfully made it through several cards when Martha looked at the next one and said, "You and I don't have one of these but George has one and Ken has one." She paused and looked meaningfully at me. Exclamation points went off in my head. Um. . .

Our husbands, trying to stifle their laughter, nearly exploded. I looked at Martha in disbelief. This was a family game. Surely Taboo wouldn't include that word but I couldn't think what else it might possibly be. My brain was stuck. Precious seconds ticked by. Martha finally passed on the card and moved on to the next one. When the three minutes were up, everybody really wanted to know what on earth That Word was. The word was job. This happened sixteen years ago. She still hasn't lived it down.

I want to mention some of my latest favorites from the Web before signing off. The first one is a video on youtube that Alden showed me. It's footage of a three-legged bear and her cub. The video is an astonishing example of creative adaptation. I also think it is gently humorous. We don't often see bears walking upright, especially out in the wilderness.

The next is footage of a competition that takes place in Spain every two years. The goal is to build a "human castle" as high as possible, then get everyone back down without collapsing. I would love to know how this event came to be.

I've always been drawn to museums. We try to visit at least one wherever we travel. I've been visiting an online museum lately, A History of the World, a collection of artifacts sponsored by the British Museum and the BBC. Actually, "collection of artifacts" is a pretty sorry description. This museum is fascinating and huge, with items from 2 million years B.C. to the present. Choose the time period that interests you, then browse away, clicking on an artifact for more information and a closer look. I'm drawn to Medieval history so I've spend a lot of time exploring the years 800-1600.

And finally...Candid Camera. I watched this program with my grandparents, way back when, and totally loved it. I recently discovered The Power of Conformity on and found myself smiling at both the film and the memory of sitting on the sofa with Grandpa Ben.

Overheard on Twitter: NEW OFFICE UPDATE: We have noticed that our 2nd-floor window is directly above the dumpster. Gravity is our new garbageman.

Next time: unfortunate library odors. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

So this is the new year

2011! I've heard a few lively discussions on the proper pronunciation, two-thousand-eleven vs. twenty-eleven. Supporters have been pretty evenly divided between both camps. I've thrown my hat in with the twenty-eleven crowd. In all of the Mayan-Calendar-End-Of-The-World buzz, twenty-twelve was the way most people pronounced that year and I think we should be consistent. Admittedly, twenty-twelve has a nice alliterative ring that twenty-eleven doesn't have, but still. I'm sticking with twenty-eleven. Also, twenty-eleven reminds me of Bilbo's birthday party (I am eleventy-one today!)

At our house, Christmas dinner usually includes a memory-fest of personal and family events. It isn't a stated tradition, it just happens. A large part of this year's conversation centered on funny things that have happened over the years. One of Alden's favorite memories was being able to finally startle me. He had made it a goal, when he was ten years old, to be able to sneak up and surprise me. It was a tough goal because I was a difficult Mom to startle. He was convinced that I had super-hearing and eyes in the back of my head.

After many unsuccessful startle attempts, Alden planned what he thought was a perfect prank. He gathered the necessary supplies. Finally, the perfect day arrived. He and Amy had just come home from school. I was in the back of the house. Alden placed himself just out of sight in the kitchen and blew up a large balloon, holding it at the neck to prevent the air from escaping.

He waited.

I came down the hall and was just about to turn into the kitchen when the balloon, loudly exhaling, sailed past my face and hit the wall, falling limply to the carpet. I yelped. For a split second (as he tells it) it looked like I was going to be angry, but then we both exploded into laughter. Success! He treasures that memory and so do I.

Many more family memories were shared that evening. It was a good way to end 2010, laughing together over Christmas dinner.

Overheard on Twitter: Boggle for iPad is fun but I feel mocked by its list of words I didn't find. "Oh, you didn't get eide, eider, fid OR fidge."

Next time: Diverse Amusements. Stay tuned.