Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not easy leaving the Big Easy

What I should do:
  • Spend time reflecting on how much I enjoyed the conference.
  • Add more to the poster session entry about the great people I had a chance to talk with and how small the world really is (shame, ending a sentence with is).
  • Detail sessions I attended on Sunday as they were great professional development opportunities even though I didn't get to attend the want I really wanted to see because it was cancelled (insert annoyance here).
  • Talk more about what a great welcome we had in New Orleans and how wonderfully resiliant the people there truly are.
  • Mention the opening session on Saturday evening included not only Madeline Albright, but also the mayor of New Orleans and the Lt. Governor.
  • Describe the very tasty breakfast I had at Cafe near the hotel on Monday morning.
  • Spend time discussing the wonderful young woman I heard at the session I attended in place of the cancelled podcast program.
But, I'm exhausted and cranky about the weather on the east coast Monday morning, the less than stellar performance from US Airways, and the extra travel day I lost because I was unable to get OUT of New Orleans. So, here's what happened.

I spent Monday morning packing and made sure I had time to walk a few blocks down from Hotel Monteleone to a charming little cafe on Royal Street, Cafe Beignet. Since I'm not a seafood fan, I wanted to be sure I at least sampled a beignet for breakfast. It was a charming place, located next to a police station. I waited in line, placed an order for beignets and a large orange juice (no coffee for me) and found a spot to relax while waiting for my order. Within minutes I had three freshly baked beignets, still so hot from the fryer - I nearly burnt my fingers- and heavily dusted with powdered sugar, placed in front of me. Wonderful.

Insert moment of appreciative silence for fried dough here.

After breakfast, I had time to play tourist one last time while wandering around the French Quarter a bit before going back to the hotel for a final look-see through my room. I checked out of the hotel and was picked up by the prearranged airport shuttle (nice job ALA giving us the chance to reserve the shuttle online beforehand so we didn't have to redial eight million times trying to get a reservation) in a timely fashion. The trip to New Orleans's Louis Armstrong International Airport was quick and I settled in with my newly purchased crossword puzzle book and diet pepsi to wait for my boarding call.

And wait for my boarding call.

And wait for my boarding call.

And wait for my boarding call in vain.

Finally at 3:00 pm the perky (grrrr) US Airways representative said our connecting flight to Philadelphia had been cancelled due to the bad weather. This is where I state I am more than pleased NOT to have been on the plane with storms consisting of thunder, lightening, and rain. Not a great flyer on my best day I can only imagine the angst of being stuck unable to land due to rain. While in line we chatted and heard horror stories of a flight to DC having to circle the airport for five hours waiting to land. No thanks.

The gentlemen in front of me were from New Orleans and told us if there was a coonass flying the plane, we would have gotten there. I was glad to have read Sandra Hill's contemporary romance series featuring a cast of Cajun characters and understood his reference. I just had to laugh.

We had a choice, stay in New Orleans for another evening and fly out the next day or take the last plane to Syracuse, NY and stay the night there. Add to that there were no guarantees we would be able to get out of Syracuse the next morning to reach our actual destination. Either way, no flights would be heading east that evening.

We were told to line up, a full 737 plane load of us; it wasn't pretty. Two hours later I still had not made it to the desk for reassignment and they were babbling about giving them our names so our luggage would not end up in Syracuse. This is where I mention there was only ONE person doing the reassignment. Why? She did the best she could, but if the plane was waiting on all of us why was she not given any assistance? Give them their due, I did get my luggage before it left for Syracuse.

Five hours at the airport and what did I have to show for myself? I had a reservation for 7:30 am the next day, my lovely green suitcase of dirty clothes, and an urgent need to find a hotel near the airport for the evening. Six hotels and a call to travelocity later, I was able to share a shuttle ride and have a late dinner with a librarian I met in line who, incidentally, had talked to me at my poster session on Saturday afternoon. Our shuttle driver recommended the restaurant next to Fishermans Cove Seafood, walking distance from the hotel. Dinner, a roast beef po boy, was pretty tasty. I retired back to the hotel to listen to airplanes take off and over my room and dread the 5:00 am wake up call. The airport shuttle was scheduled to pick me up at 5:45 am. I slept with hope to travel another day.

An interesty aside ... the plane bound for Syarcuse was delayed for two hours as we were leaving the airport. They were not deplaning (aargh - what joy) and were still on the tarmac when the shuttle drove by on our way to the hotel. Way to dodge a bullet.

Groggy from lack of sleep, I was none the less thrilled to get on the airplane for Charlotte, NC and my connecting flight home. Naturally, US Airways had other ideas. Seems the weather was a foe again this morning in Newark. My 12:55 pm flight was delayed another hour. The marine reservists waiting to go home to Dayton were not pleased.

  • I did several more crossword puzzles and fill ins hoping to inspire my brain.
  • I began another of the advance reader copy novels I picked up at the exhibits in New Orleans (some good, some so-so).
  • I wandered the airport and had a Nathans hot dog for lunch.
  • I resisted, with great effort, the lure of cinnabons.
  • I listened to my MP3 player so as not to overhear the many, many, many, cell phone conversations around me.

I boarded the plane with glee at 1:45 pm. The flight crew consisted of a bunch of comedians; the pilot explained he'd use the tertiary afterburners to make up some of the two lost hours from the morning. The flight attendant told us not to worry, there were indeed oxygen masks in the bathroom. Of course, this was the same person who told me I shouldn't have moved aside to let the pilot off the plane and assured me he could run, but he couldn't hide when it was time for take off. The other flight attendent kept saying we were soon to be landing in Columbia (I was hoping South Carolina and not South America) instead of Columbus. When we were preparing for landing she told us to have a nice day in Charlotte and gave the local time. Like I said, comedians.

We did indeed arrive at the airport ten minutes ahead of schedule. I don't want to know how. I thought it best not to ask. On the bright side, it took me all of 20 minutes to get off the plane, retrieve my luggage, locate the shuttle to my car, and be on the interstate headed home. Probably the shortest part of the trip.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Poster Session - Poster Session

Just finished my poster session. It was my first at a national conference (I've done several at state conferences) and I wasn't really all that sure what to expect. My first experience with poster sessions at a national conference was at ACRL in Minneapolis last spring and that was simply ridiculious, crowded, and enough to turn me off attending any other poster sessions during that particular conference.

This was completely different. I learned, quite happily in fact, that poster sessions are less structured than I thought - even anticipated - and that it was great to have an opportunity to speak to people who are interested in your information one-on-one. Sure it was stressful since we were assigned an hour and a half shift. But that made it easier to speak with more people and have a chance to look at the posters near to mine. Looking at the other offerings, I was relieved to have taken the time to have my poster session information printed professionally by our graphics department since that was the norm (as it should be). Attendance was constant and flowed easily through our assigned space. I even had the chance to meet Jody Fagan, my poster session contact, and say hello. Thanks again Jody for your positive attitude and last minute support. Most appreciated was the floor manager on duty assigned to help with set up and any questions concerning when to tear down the poster session for the next group of presenters.

There were a lot of great poster's near me and I had an opportunity to speak with different presenters from Lousiana, Washington, Canada. It may have been a novice's luck, though I prefer to think I just had a great proposal (grin), but I will be sure to put in a proposal again for another conference.

Working at a Parish Library

I was part of the work force of over 900-1000 librarians who volunteered for a day of community help for local libraries and charities. My assignment was at a large Parish library (name and photo coming later) helping the Friends of the Library prepare and run their book sale. The best part of the day was talking with the locals attending the sale. To a person they were grateful for the help they were receiving from the conference. I was struck by so many things after talking to them.

The friends organization. What a fabulous group of volunteers. They run HUGE booksales (and any sale making over $70,000 is huge in my book) on a bi-annual basis. The library itself was free from hurricane damage, but the carpets had to be removed due to issues with a roof leak. There were great displays with before and after shots from different locals within the library system.

The patrons of the library. I was so struck by the stories they were all willing to share. Every conversation began with a simple statement of thanks for being here. The thanks was as much for keeping our committment to have the conference in New Orleans as it was for helping out with sales. The people of New Orleans have been wonderful and gracious and welcoming.

Courage. I continue to be in awe of the positive outlook of the people we spoke with. Many are hurting with little or no help still availbe. Another hurricane season has begun and they are still cleaning up from Katrina. Our bus driver took us through some damaged areas on the way back to the conference center yesterday and there are areas completely untouched and areas completely devastated. These people WANT to be here and still need help.

Communication. I was amazed at how much they wanted to talk. Especially to virtual strangers. We heard about housing lost, families lost, and great feats of joy. The need to talk and communicate what had happend with personal stories was unwavering. We were unable to do much but listen, but I think listening is what they wanted the most. It was the simple human understanding and compassion that meant most during this time.

They are not forgotten.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Orleans! Woo-hoo

Just walked ten thousand miles from the hotel to the convention center and I'm pretty sure I can say .... it's hot here. I've never been before so it's tough to say how the city looks comparitively speaking. However there are still definite signs of the hurricane and rebuilding efforts are under way. Everyone from the flight attendants to the hotel information desk has been very friendly and it's easy to see that the conference is a welcome event for the city.

The flight down was pretty uneventful (praise be). I sat next to a talkative young man on the first leg of the journey. He was headed to North Carolina for his first meeting with a client and traveling with his boss. The next leg of the journey started in Charlotte, NC. Naturally my flight landed as far from my connecting gate as possible. Literally the other end of the airport. No worries, I had plenty of time to get from one place to the other and still have time for an early lunch.

They have cool rocking chairs in the airport.

It's funny how readers find each other. I was sitting in the bording area and pulled out my new Janet Evanovich book Twelve Sharp and a woman, who looked amazingly like Evanovich (but wasn't) asked me if I ran to the store to get the title on Tuesday. That started a lively book conversation with three other librarians waiting to board the plane headed to New Orleans. It was pretty cool. And, the book is interesting as well. I'm about 3/4 of the way through thanks to several long plane rides today.

More later, must let someone else have a chance to play.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Posters, posters, ready to go

I picked up my complete posters from graphic arts yesterday and am mostly pleased with the results. It is great to be going to New Orleans with professionally produced works, but I'm not as thrilled with the color outcome as I expected to be. Most of the purple came out pink and the word art is brown instead of black. Luckily, all of the screen shots and text box items are true to color making the overall effect work. I wonder if there was a way to set the printer to print "as displayed on screen" and therefore giving me the correct color match. It's something to consider should we use this for other posters in the library. I'm ready to roll the laminated posters and put them in the cardboard tube for their flight. All of the CD's were burned, sans auto play, and the web page created will work well.

Ready or not ...

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Wedding Cookie Table

When there is a tradition you've grown up with it is always odd to hear someone talk about this "new" think they have seen at a recent wedding. Growing up in Western, PA the cookie table at weddings is a given. People bring cookies, and not your average chocolate chip variety, to the reception and often the cookie table is more popular than the wedding cake! So it was interesting to hear the discussion this morning in which a co-worker detailed how she was excited to be at a PA wedding because there would be a cookie table.

In grad school at the University of Pittsburgh one of my classes was a multicultural studies class and we discussed the cookie table. There was a great article in the Pittburgh Post-Gazette with photos of various wedding cookie tables. Naturally I wasn't able to find the article this morning but did find some info:

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

CD Autoplay or Autorun

In my continuing quest preparing for my ALA poster session I've decided to bag hauling around a laptop so people can "view" my stuff. Poster session time is limited, the space is limited (though hopefully not as nasty as ACRL in Minnesota a couple of years back), and there will be hundreds of other posters available for attendees to partake. With that in mind, I've created a simple web page to burn on CD that will contain my handouts and links. If anyone is interested they can take one to peruse at their leisure.

I figure on the shades of brilliance scale - remember I've given up brilliance and am now focusing on not embarrassing myself - that decision hovers between flashlight and small lightbulb and is a nice step up from nightlight. Anyway, in an attempt to move into the three way lightbulb category I thought it may be nice to have autorun on the cd so when inserted it opened to the web page and I wouldn't have to bother with a readme document (that would have to be PDF in case everyone doesn't have word, sigh).

After searching for the last hour to get good free shareware to create autorun, as opposed to autoplay, I'm leaning towards not bothering. The reviews are limited and the software/shareware abundant. Hence the waffling. This is what comes of having passable skills in various areas instead of being exceptional in one area. One particular talent isn't developed for researching and presenting and I'm good, but not great, in different things.

I'm going to go with my bathing suit at the beach theory. It's a given there are going to be sessions better than mine; there are going to be sessions worse than mine; and I'm average (and not frightening small children).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Duct Tape Festival

You just can't make this stuff up. Seems this is a yearly event in Avon, OH , the Duct Tape Capitol of the World, and is appropriately scheduled over Father's Day weekend and includes a parades, various contests, Duct Tape Artists, and Duct Tape celebrities. From their official web site:
The Festival takes place every year on Father’s Day weekend in Avon, Ohio. This
year, the three-day celebration – beginning Friday, June 16, 2006 – encourages
duct tape fanatics, artists, kids and adults to salute the American staple product. The festivities kick-off Friday at 4:00 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Avon, Ohio, and feature everything duct tape – from sculptures and crafts to fashion and games. There is even a parade where all of the floats are made almost entirely of duct tape.
More stuff about duct tape:

It's Brilliant

No, not me. The graphic arts department here at the University is brilliant. I was fussing (there is probably a better word to use, but that one is appropriate) about what to do with my poster session and had the notion to ask graphic arts/print shop if they could enlarge a document into poster size. I'd have to watch out for any pictures being overblown and looking nasty, but it seemed a better idea than using tag board and other resources, read construction paper, Ellison Dies, and rubber cement, easily available to me right now. I found out that they, graphic arts, have the capability of printing somthing 24X36 inches in size. I was advised to use Word, make it a pdf when finished, and email the results to them.

Well, COOL.

Naturally Word only makes things as large as 22x22; but Publisher is available and it DOES go to 24X36. Yes! I've created four lovely posters, made them pdf (with some additional assistance from graphic arts because I was a bit dim there for awhile), and sent them off for printing. I should be able to get the final results late this afternoon or on Monday. Plenty of time to laminate them before leaving work on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Roaming Gnome

Now I have to take back my annoyance with the stupid roaming gnome ruining my chance to present a poster session at ALA next week. Earlier this afternoon I got a call from the poster session committee chair with an invitation to present on Saturday in place of a last minute cancellation. Now I have only a week to come up with my "brilliant" poster session and that's no easy feat since I'd since deleted the abstract and forgotten all about the whole project. But I do love a challenge.

On second thought, forget the challenge aspect. It's official, I have lost my mind. I need to find a lap top to drag along and create something visually appealing for the session. Time to call the I.T. department and see what I can get for traveling purposes as my work lap top is too heavy to tote through the airport (yes, they warned me of that when I picked the oversized screen for web use). My greed to have an ALA session on my vitae outweighs my common sense at this point.

I am still wondering about that idiot gnome and my travel reservations. After getting my trip reminder via email yesterday my flight home has been changed again. That's the third time. I probably shouldn't complain until I travel and arrive safely from the conference. Anyway, the connecting flight is now back in Charlotte instead of Philadelphia and I'm getting home a bit earlier than originally planned. Not so bad, but I wonder what the real connecting flight will entail on the day of travel.

Airplane clipart: http://www.designedtoat.com/aircraft.shtml

Monday, June 12, 2006

ALA: Libraries Build Communities

I signed up to be a part of ALA's "Libraries Build Communities" effort while at the conference next week. Though not the most co-ordinated person, I would be the first to drop a hammer on my foot at a construction site, I was able to find something that would not endanger those around me and still help the overall project. Today I received an email confirmation listing my choice, the East Bank Regional Branch - Project I, and details regarding check in time and what to wear.

The East Bank Regional Branch project is a book sale for the library. I've worked public and academic libraries, did several Scholastic Booksales for my library and IRC, and have a retail background. I'm relatively sure this is something I can do to help. It is a worthy cause and well worth the time.

There is now an official Wiki for the New Orleans conference as well as a listing of conference blogs.

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Fearless Red

One of my co-workers this morning had on a top in a lovely shade of red. She said is was called "fearless red." I want one. Looking around, color is effective in many areas:

Need to get moving, blogger shows there is a scheduled outage at 8:23 AM PST. Goody.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

That viewer profile thing again

Friday at work I had part of my lunch hour to kill. Well, okay, let's be brutally honest and say I had the last half hour of the day to kill after I finished up with a couple of sterling additions to the children's book review blog I've ignored since leaving on vacation. Anyway, just for kicks I took a quick look at this blogger profile, deleted a few things (what was I thinking), and checked out the profile viewed number. It's been at 74 for a while, so I was curious. Still the same.

After finishing my mini-rant on all things 2.0 a minute ago I looked again and it was 114. Does that seem a bit ludicrous? Or is it just me? I only post on a couple of blogs using this profile and didn't have anything profound to say in the last two days that would signify that jump. I mean, for heavens sake, that's not people reading this blog, just people clicking on the profile for one reason or another(huh, a lot of comma's in this sentence - tough).

Yes, I click on the other people's post links as well. I'm curious.

OK, nosy.

The blogger viewer counter thingy must work once a month or so. If I were that curious, I'd keep track.

Or not.

Enough with the 2.0

In the last year we been introduced to "Web 2.0" and all of the definitions and meanings and fuss about who coined the term, who can use the term, can someone actually copyright the term and so on and so forth:

As often happens with a new buzzword, other industries have begun looking at their next innovation as ---- 2.0. The library information science community has now begun discussing "Library 2.0" and "Librarians 2.0."

Just this afternoon I was gleefully surfing through channels and stopped briefly at CNN to listen to the end of a Wolf Blitzer piece titled on the screen as ... wait for it ... Iraq 2.0.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Something to say

Let's go with the premise that blogging is indeed a social tool. It is about building and maintaining community. Like any new community it takes time and effort. How so? As blog newbies or aficionados, we are interested in blogs and Google around for something written by people who interest us personally or professionally.

Read. Use site feeds and a bloglines account to track the choices and see if blogs chosen are really what we want. Weed out and add in new blogs over a short period of time.

Lurk. Not as bad in actuality as it sounds, read comments attached to posts getting a feel to how others are responding without contributing to the conversation. Soon, there is a compulsion to add our 2 cents. This is not without angst. The decision to move from lurking to commenting can be a leap of faith, not all that dissimilar to being the new kid in class.

Comment. Often there is an option to do so anonymously or with user name. If the post is accepted by the existing community, it's easy to be emboldened and continue. After commenting as anonymous for a while there comes a time to take the leap and sign in. This means - yes - create an account. Why? Mostly for the simplicity of knowing our signature is the same every time a comment is generated. More importantly, take ownership of what is posted.

Interact. Now, instead of just commenting to the blog author posts, readers talk amongst themselves. Conversation is generated. If the posted comment name is a hyperlink (blue and underlined!), click on it and chances are another blog of interest may appear. And so on and so on and so on.

But, and there is always a but, what if most of blogging is just habit? How so? Take vacation. For me, vacation means NO COMPUTER. I know, I know, it sounds barbaric. Every day at work is eight hours with the computer. Then email and such at home, more time on the computer (granted it is a smaller amount of time, but time nonetheless). So a week or two away from the blog they lose momentum and importance. Is it to be expected?

Maybe it's the first step over to the dark side.

To blog or not to blog?

... that is indeed the question.

I just finished deleting several entries because they were, well, stupid. Still trying to decide what I want to do with this blog and this evening, actually pondering if I want to continue blogging here at all. Is this what it's like when the blush is off the rose? Is it better to blog stupid (ie: inane) so you have a post - or not blog at all until you have something to say?

Maybe this is a blog funk.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Here ya go, it's flamingos. Tell me why they put these pretty pink critters next to the lions? That is just not right.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Zoo, Zoo, Zoo, The Pittsburgh Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Anyone of a certain age from the burgh, sing along ...

There's family fun for everyone at the (clap, clap) Pittsburgh Zoo, Yah!

Memorial Day - 91 lovely degrees - and I went to the zoo with my sister, brother-in-law, and four year old niece. The air smelled like sunscreen and, well, zoo animals. A slight breeze carried the whines and joys of the crowd. Who is the poor, dumb animal? I am pretty sure I heard snickers from the otters and penguins as they frolicked joyfully in the air conditioned PPG acquarium.

I was impressed with the how kid friendly the zoo had become over the years. There were slides and rides as well as the requisite petting zoo. I did wonder about a few things as we walked through the attractions (exhibits?). Whose bright idea was it to put flamingos next to the tigers?What were they thinking having a rope bridge, one that bounced as we walked across it no less, above the alligator?