Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday afternoon baseball

What better time to talk about a great american past time than a Sunday afternoon? A Pittsburgh Pirate fan for years, I remember the scary 1979 uniforms and "We are Family." I also remember when they were a good team in the early 90's, no thanks to Barry Bonds (don't get me started). Now I only get to see ball games when visiting home and if they play the Indians, a rarity, or the Cubs.

I keep up via ESPN, though they rarely report about the Pirates, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online. Beyond reading about the hopeful two-game winning streak, two book reviews in today's paper caught my attention. The first is a new biography on Roberto Clemente; 'Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero'. The second title is 'The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates'.

I was just a kid when Clemente lost his life in 1972, but I remember listening to games on the radio sitting on the front porch with my grandfather. During those Sunday afternoons he taught me to keep score listening to the game. My parents have an album of the 1971 World Series, so I have heard Clemente speak and have seen videos of his play. Because I'm a Three River's Stadium baby, I never saw Forbes Field. I have seen the remaining outfield wall in Oakland, realize a building at Pitt sit on the grounds, and have stood on home plate at Pitt. Maybe it's time to relive some of the Clemente magic.

Bring on the 2006 All Star game, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dead Blog, how do you know?

Is it easy to determine if a blog is simply inactive, or dead and buried? Do you wait days, weeks, or months? Who decides it's dead? Once the decision has been made, should it be deleted or just left to languish in cyberspace? Lastly, if no one was really using it, do any of these questions really matter?

I'm wondering this as I look at a blog we "use" at work in support of an electronic reserves system. When I proposed using a blog, I envisioned a collaborative effort for the E-Res team that would allow us to post amongst ourselves and offer another marketing option supporting electronic reserves. Unfortunately, it just never took off. I don't see that as anyone's fault, just simple fact.

At the beginning of June (2006) the blog will have been active for one year. During that time there have been a total of 27 posts, one comment, and two of six people on the committee have posted information. We are looking at an average of 2 posts per month and one third of the team contributing. The one comment was legitimate and responding to it opend a distance education opportunity for the library. If nothing else, that purpose was successfully served. Sure it's hard to admit it failed and probably will be deleted. I feel pretty strongly an inactive blog is useless. The links and resources can be moved to the main web page and the project completed.

With that said, I must admit I will not take the necessary steps to delete it until summer. Shame on me, I had an article accepted for publication in a journal and it discusses marketing strategies we used to interest faculty in the E-Res system. I mentioned the blog, with glowing references, in the article and provided the address. The article is due for publication within the next few weeks. I know how to delete a blog with blogger, but I'm pretty confident the blog is safe throughout the summer.

Pride goeth before a fall.

Friday, April 28, 2006

RSS feeds and feed burners, I forgot

So much for world domination by the unknown blogger.

As you can see by Will's comment, no googling for people mentioning his book or fancy software was needed. Just simple and smart RSS feeds. I forgot about them. I have feeds posted in handy-dandy-easy-to-get-to places on my work blogs, but didn't put one here. Go figure.

Back to those happy librarians. Not only was the afore mentioned group interested in the blog book, but since I've checked out the library copy there are already several holds for people waiting for me to finish.

Technology wise at work, I'm lucky enough to do pretty much what I want with blogs and web pages. Obviously within reason. I began nagging (yes, it is pretty much nagging at this point) another librarian on staff to work with me on book reviews on a new blog. It will be mostly juvenile literature reviews and work in conjunction with the new book blog and new book shelf. I want to help the education students with new additions to the juvenile collection. Theoretically, every time a student asks me to recommend a new book I could send them to the blog. Then students can post opinions on the reviews, detail lessons made using the titles, or just read them for information. A little more work on my end is needed before beginning; it will be necessary to provide collection development basics and professional review resources.

I'm wondering, with the interest in blogging expanding, if the premise may have to include new educational technology selections as well.

I might be lucky enough to get a few collaborative efforts going. Draft a couple of kiddie lit professors to add reviews and/or have their students do blog reviews would be interesting. The success does depend on finding the right group of people who are excited about the possibilities and "get" blogs. When dealing with a group blog, I have learned the hard way it's necessary to have the right group. Otherwise you have one person carrying the burden of posting and the blog becomes stagnate quickly.

Blog on.

Snarky: Is it really a word?

Today was the last day of classes and joyful giddiness was abundant in thought, word, and deed. Passing the time chatting with a student worker I mentioned she needed to watch out for her "snarky" attitude. She, in turn, accused me of making the word up (as if). We had the inevitable "that's not a word" discussion. To solve the dilemma, I told her look it up.

She checked Google and I pulled a dictionary off of the reference shelf. Yes, a book.

It's good to be right.

Today's links, boys and girls, are for definitions of ... snarky:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rambling about blogger stuff

Logging in this afternoon I noticed my blog 'dashboard' had a post. I drove over 200 miles today for meetings and presentations, so I had a fleeting thought that maybe I didn't know what the date was after all. I checked my cell and was immediately relieved not to have lost a day. Then, a random thought.

I might have a comment. On this blog.


I clicked on the moderate comments tab to see a short message from Will Richardson, the author of the book I'm reading on blogging (see previous posting). Way to utilize resources Will. Guess you have the backtracking software to know when people link to your blog, eh? He'll be glad to know I shared his book with a room full of school librarians during a presentation this morning. A number of them indicated interest in purchasing the title and happily jotted down the ISBN for future reference.

I know, I know, part of the whole blogging experience is getting people to read and comment. But it was just weird. I was certain (actually, content or smug may be more accurate) this experiment would go unnoticed. Since I'm pretty sure he won't be checking back, I can return happily to obscurity. Guess it just goes to show.

Exactly what, I'm not sure.

Because I'm a big web geek, I look at the profile visited info every once in a while. Today I noticed the view count has doubled in the last week. Interesting since I took the view profile link out of the template. Maybe it's time for an experiment.

Last, a random thought. Why does a blog spell check not automatically know the words blog, blogging, or blogger?

Clip art:

The Carnage: Updated

A posting on ACRLog last evening speaks to the ongoing controversy concerning a librarian being cleared of sexual harassment charges concerning his book suggestions for a freshman reading course: OSU Mansfield Librarian Cleared of Harassment Charges. This story, discussed in a previous post from Inside HigherEd, was also mentioned in an ACRLog post on April 14, Reference Librarian at Center of Controversy Over Common Reading Experience.

The differences between comments on both blogs is stark. The Inside Higher Ed blog had comments still being posted almost ten days later. The ACRLog had fewer, and kinder, comments posted up until a week ago. Were the library professionals on ACRL's blog more sympathetic? More empathetic? I thought so.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jeopardy, brownies, and books (oh, my): Part 2

Now to the book part of this post. I just started reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom, by Will Richardson, this afternoon at lunch (here's hoping the Amazon link is a persistent one). I've read his blog for a year or so now @ Weblogg-ed and was interested in the title when he began his brilliant "shameless self promotion" by publicizing on the blog. I'm barely in to chapter 2 and find an interest in the distinction Richardson has made between different genres of blogs, or journals verses blogs.

In my profile area I mention looking for a blogger voice. I have not determined if this will be a personal blog, professional blog, or a combination of both. It's a young blog yet, not a month old, so I am still learning. While making that decision I post about whatever interests me at the moment and add links to more "stuff." Linking is something I do naturally within a post. I love the Internet and it's inherent challenge of finding quality information amongst the junk. Richardson mentions "blogging is a genre that engages students and adults in a process of thinking in words, not simply an accounting of the days events or feelings" (p. 20). Furthermore, and forgive the broad paraphrase, he makes a clear distinction between journaling and blogging by believing links within blogs contribute to more learning as users are able to find more information as they read.

Since I am hopelessly intrigued with blogs and the potential of blogs, it won't be long now before I finish this book. With luck, I will decide what course this blog will take as well.

Or not.

Note: If the amazon link is faulty, or you want to learn more about this book, go directly to the Weblogg-ed Book info page.

Jeopardy, brownies and books (oh, my)

I doubt I will ever have the patience to try out for Jeopardy! or even the wherewithal to take the infamous contestant search test. But it still makes me crazy when you tell contestants the answer, okay blurt them out to the tv, and no one will listen to you. Tonight one of the categories was musicals, dealt with a Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite, and the answer was: What is "South Pacific." No one would listen.

This led to brownies. There comes a time when it's necessary to get those eggs out of the refrigerator, use them or lose them. Today was a chocolate craving kind of day and viola, the decision to make brownies arose. I used all of the Nestle cocoa powder. Probably a good thing. Right now they are cooling and destined to make the trek into work in the morning ... keeping me from the pan.

Must take a break to watch Gilmore Girls, it appears to be a new episode.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A taste of home

Reading another blog this evening I had the chance to discuss a taste of home. Yes, I'm talking about the "almost world famous Primanti's Brothers sandwich." I've eaten from the city menu and the suburban menu. Yum.

Who cares about a sandwich? And especially one that looks, well, so odd? "No doubt about it", the food is a tradition like the terrible towel, and getting the chance to "buy Sam a drink and his dog one too". Check out the Real Story of the Primanti's Sandwich.

I had my first taste on the strip during a class field trip. Yes, a field trip. Honest. We were studying different cultures and foods in the Pittsburgh area as part of a course on multiculturalism. Yes, I paid for the class. Honest.

Still paying for the class should the truth be told.

Isn't grad work grand?

I even got an "A"!

One of "those" days

Today was just one of those Mondays. Everyone wanted a piece of me. Walking that tightrope to prioritize who got what made for some interesting conversations throughout the day. I finally decided to do my list first and work my way through the other wants, needs, requests, and whining.

Not that I have anything against Monday. Really I don't. A lot of holiday's fall on Monday and help make three day weekends. Tuesday loves Monday because when it's finally Tuesday, hey Monday is over. Yes, yes, I know that is a bit of a stretch. It was indeed a loooooong day. Listening to the radio on the way home (loud and annoying the cars next to me) I started thinking along the lines of annoying Monday songs that might describe the day. I'm not sure that any of these tunes really fit the bill and very sure there is a variable plethora of Monday tunes. However, I chose these. There you go.

  • Manic Monday - The Bangles
  • Monday, Monday - Neil Diamond or
  • Monday, Monday - Wilson Phillips
  • Come Monday - Jimmy Buffet
  • It Sure is Monday - Mark Chesnut
  • Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters

On the plus side, it is a Stargate Monday on Sci-Fi and the first episode is not a stupid one. As a reward for not smacking anyone today I may just play around with the tune list on my MP3 player. See, I have an excel spread sheet with everything already there and . . . I digress.

Clip art:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tim, Faith, and Flat Stanley

I took Flat Stanley with me last evening to Columbus for the Soul 2 Soul II Tour last evening at Nationwide Arena. Tried to get his picture taken with the Columbus skyline in the background to no avail. If you aren't paying attention on the I-71 and 670 split heading into the arena, whether driving or navigating, you're toast. I briefly considered taking him into the concert, smuggled inside my cute pink concert purse (big enough for necessities but small enough that you can throw over your shoulder and not have to worry). I wasn't sure what the policy was for cameras in Nationwide arena, so kiboshed that idea as well. Today he went to the fairgrounds and Archway Cookies. I figure kids would like the cookie info.

What about the concert?

As touted, the stage was really visually appealing. It was shaped as a celtic cross with a circle in the middle. The entire surface was individual squares where graphics and lighting were projected. It was very cool. Part way through the show, between Faith's set and the beginning of Tim's, the lowered a screen of sorts around the two of them as they sat in the center of the stage. As they sang Angry All the Time, red color spilled around them through the screen and onto the stage (think Garth Brooks video with the red paint). Stunning.

The sound system was exceptional. My ears are still ringing today.

Faith sang first. She has a lovely voice, quite a set of pipes on her, and did a great set. However, this is where I admit to going to see Tim and not Faith. I thought her set was longer and was disappointed not to hear him sing more tunes. I saw Tim a couple of years ago when he and the Dance Hall Doctors went on tour alone, almost three full hours of music. It was fabulous. I've seen him during the summer since then and nothing has quite lived up to that particular show.

As advertised, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. My seats were pretty high up (really). When we arrived there was a period of adjustment to the height and I kept telling myself to look around and yak to my neighbors, just don't look down. (That thought naturally made me chuckle to myself since DLD's the name of a really entertaining book and has an accompanying blog.) Once things got moving the height was no issue.

Well, with the exception of my worries the woman to my right would get smacked by her friend and tumble down several rows and a slight concern the inebrieted boy behind us would decide to go see Faith personally, it was no issue.


This could be a new post, but since it goes along with the topic here it seems to make more sense. Saw a CMT program this afternoon called Greatest Moments and it featured Tim McGraw. The number one item on his greatest moments list was family. How does that tie in the the concert info? Tim was showing off a new tatoo he got in the shape of a cross that has the initials of his girls on it . . . that tatoo looked a lot like their stage for Soul 2 Soul II. Coincidence?

The African Queen and John Wayne

Channel surfing this afternoon I came across The African Queen with Humphre Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. I've since learned the film was up for numerous awards and Bogart won an Oscar for best actor in his role. It brought a smile to my face remembering when I saw this movie for the first (and only) time.

In college there were often oldies film classic nights. One evening a friend was having trouble convincing anyone to go see the movie they were showing, The African Queen. Not knowing anything about it, I asked her who was in it and what it was about. She told me she was pretty sure it was a John Wayne western and we would enjoy wasting some time and eating popcorn. Here biggest push to go? It was a western there were sure to be some boys there.

Imagine our surprise when the opening credits did not include John Wayne or even any horses. To this day what I remember is the scene on the boat with the leeches.

Friday, April 21, 2006

In the mail today ... Flat Stanley!

Going through my mail this afternoon I was intrigued by an envelope addressed to me from a grade school out of state. I didn't recognize the school and almost shredded it out of habit. Something made me take a closer look at the writing. It was the careful printing, in pencil, of an elementary school age child (no one prints like a first or second grader).

I opened it and inside was:

It's been years since I've seen a Flat Stanley, let alone have one mailed to me. He was accompanied by a letter asking me to take him to a "landmark specific to the city I live in and take a picture" with him there. I am then to mail him back to the class so they can learn about different cities, states, or countries. Always a very cool project for kids. There is even an Official Flat Stanley Project page, he is quite the world traveler. Not too shabby for a kid that got flattened by his bulletin board one night.

Now I am considering where I should take Stanley for his photo op. I can take him to work, the library has a strange sculpture outside that might be interesting to kids. Or, I'm headed into the state capitol tomorrow for a concert and could take him along. There would be little or no interest in the concert, even though it is Tim McGraw, but maybe there will be time to find the capital building itself for Stanley.

Now I have to make sure I don't send a dorky photograph back.

Peer pressure from the elementary school set.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Creature of habit

I like to do new things, learn new things, challenge myself to grow professionally just for the experience. For example, I've been asked to revamp a web site. Instead of sticking with the same old web editor, I opted to learn something more challenging. I thought it would be great to, hey, learn something. Keep the brain agile, don't sit on those laurels.

Up to this point what seemed a good idea in theory has majestically bombed in practice. Editing existing pages is doable (woo-hoo), but creating them from scratch is making me nucking futz. Through this exercise I keep telling myself how proud I'll be when the task is mastered. The frustration is good for me, I've become comfortable with the status quo and need to shake things up.


But, I am nothing if not stubborn (bull headed, persistent, and so on). The light will come on and it's illumination will be stronger than a night light. I will continue to mutter viciously at the computer and tell all who will listen, or are forced to listen, how much I hate web design and Dreamweaver and CSS and oh, by the way .... here are a few web links:

The thing is, while I embrace the professional changes, I am very much at home with personal changes being at the minimum. Until this last week, I did not realize how much a creature of habit I have become in regards to my living space. Joy of joys, last Thursday I was given the final paperwork taking my apartment condo. Not just condo, but a community of housing for 55 and older. Talk about adding insult (kind of in a good way if that is possible) to injury. Not only can I not afford to live here, I'm too young! :-).

Insert happy dance here.

I have spent the last several evenings researching and doing recon of available housing before making the inevitable cost phone call. Human nature, or maybe my nature, notes that if the choice of moving was my own I would be embracing this change. Since the choice was taken from me, I'm more than a bit cranked about the change. A friend assured me in three months when I was happily ensconced in my new and better apartment I would look back on this thinking it wasn't so bad after all.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wants and needs: philosophy or economics?

Under the subheading of "you learn something new every day," this afternoon a student was working on a paper with Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations as her topic. Smith, an 18th century Scottish philosopher and economist, is often quoted (see Adam Smith quotes) concerning economic growth and human nature. Unable to verify him as authoring the statement she wished to paraphrase in her paper, "to an economist there are no needs, only wants," a short, pithy explanation of the concept was located from another source.

In a resource center full of education students having basic psychology course requirements, discussion of how this philosophy contradicts Maslow's hierachy needs ensued. What about the simple human needs learned in social studies for food, shelter, and water? Are needs really only vocalization of wants? While differentiating between wants and needs should be easy, the concept of there actually being no needs at all was unthinkable.

Playing the devils advocate was a challenge since I don't buy into the economists theory, but looking at wants and needs in this way was intriguing:

  • We need to eat.
    Not necessarily, we can choose not to and be hungry.
  • If we don't eat, we die.
    Sure, but we choose to eat and live. That fulfills a want.
  • We need shelter.
    We can live outside, choosing shelter fulfills our want to be in out of the weather.
  • We need clothes to stay warm in the winter.
    We don't need to wear winter coats, we do because we want to stay warm (and not die).
  • The computer needs electricity to work.
    No, we need the electricity to make the computer work. The computer can sit turned off, turning it on fulfills our need to use it.

So, I wanted to wear shoes to work today (was required to actually), but did not need to do so. Taking it a step further, I really wanted to wear the raspberry clogs because they went nicely with my new spring sweater set. I do not need the coupon I got via email today for 30% off purchases at a local retail outlet. I sure do want it, I need new shoes!

Glad I'm not an economist.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Unable to look away from the carnage

I find myself riveted to a recent story posted (4/14/06): Insider Higher Ed: Tolerance and a Reading Selection. It is of interest not only in regard to the information contained within the post, but also for the quality and quantity of comments attached. These comments range from supportive to combative, from kind to quarrelsome, and are often signed by the author (in itself an oddity). Even more stunning, those commenting have begun arguing amongst themselves. I seriously doubt the proverbial academic battle cry of "publish or perish" meant this type of publication. Four days later people are going back to the post and continuing to add comments. In blog years, it is old news now.

What role did the e-mail play? Let's face it, e-mail is a fabulous time saving device. Shoot off a message to anyone with an email address without playing phone tag and move on with your day. Could it be more convenient? Need to contact someone about an appointment? Use email. Upset with the customer service at your favorite restaurant or retail establishment? Use email. The thing is, once we hit the send button, it's gone.

Long gone.

Each of us brings attitude and personality to what we read, write, and send in a message. E-Mail, with all it's wonders, is no substitute for person to person communication. When using it for business, there is a distinct lack of human interaction such as facial expressions, mood indicators, body language, or the subtle subtext of eye contact. It's not for the faint of heart, using just words on a form.

Choose your words carefully, they live forever in cyberspace.

Am I the only one who thinks this controversy did not erupt solely due to book suggestions for an introductory course? Regardless of who said what about the titles being bandied about among the selection committee, reactions by all parties seemed disproportionate to a few snarky e-mail messages among colleagues.

The whole situation disturbs me on a professional and personal level. Why? Call me naive, but it should not have happened. Now that it has, we can not go back. The veneer of innocence is gone. Like a rubber-necker on the highway unable to look away from the carnage, I will probably continue to follow this story. Maybe it will help me understand more fully what did happen.

Anomalies of spring

Today on campus, celebrating the sunny high of 60 degrees, bloomed the ever popular shorts, sweatshirts, and flip flops ensemble. It's easy to understand the shorts and flip flops. But if it is cold enough for a sweatshirt, why aren't your feet cold? At least on campus there is very little chance of the other confusing fashion statement, socks and sandals.

Adding to the fun, even the buildings are confused. It was 'cold' outside this morning so the heat was on full force making it a balmy 80 degrees inside. It was rarely that warm during the winter. Time to crawl on chairs and ledges (not high) and open windows. Don't try this at home.

Maybe that explains the flip flops after all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Random Thoughts: Good Things

While wallowing this evening, the aforementioned sunny day not withstanding, a few random thoughts to ponder . . . after all, it is my blog. Good things are noted below in no particular order:

Voracious readers

I find myself very much a voracious reader. My favorite book? The one I'm reading is usually my favorite. Right now it is a reread of one of the J.D. Robb 'in Death' titles, Purity in Death. It doesn't matter if I have read it once, twice, or a dozen times, it's my favorite until I pick up a new one from the store or library.

Maybe that makes me book fickle, but this may explain it better. I recently found a quote by Roald Dahl in his book The Giraffe and the Pelly and me. It concludes: "No book ever ends when it's full of your friends."

Time to go out on the porch, enjoy the remainder of this sunny day, and finish that book.

Sunny Days in the spring

What is it about the first beautiful sunny spring day that makes me drive a little faster, have the car windows down (and moon roof open despite the noise), and play the radio loud enough for all to hear? Maybe I feel a bit invincible, until a highway patrol car is spotted, and it still brings a smile to my face.