Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My Telecommunications class at Florida State had a textbook whose author liked to throw in all these acronyms such as the title of this post (What you see is what you get) and TANSTAAFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch). Luckily for me, I recognized that my professor would use these as bonus questions on our weekly quizzes to make sure everyone was actually reading the book.

Last week, I signed up for Library Thing and Rollyo. (Can you roll a Rollyo to your friends?) Neither of which impressed me terribly. I did put five titles into my account on Library Thing, and perhaps it might be useful to know what shopping sites interest Debra Messing but I doubted it. Well, today I thought I was being very unfair in my initial impression, so I decided to play around some more with both. I have a better idea of Rollyo, and I created my own list of shopping sites. I see where it can be useful although I am not sure how much I will use it. I am glad to put it in my bag o' tricks though.

I am happier to talk about Library Thing. Now, regular readers of this blog will remember that "Dune" by Frank Herbert is one of my favorite books, so I put that down. Another one of my favorite books is "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L'Engle, so I put that down. One of the books that is getting read over and over again in my house is "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!" by Mo Willems. Two more, two more.....oh, so another plug for Mr. Bruno and "Into the Pit 1" and I decided to create my own record by inputting "Walt Whitman in Australia". It is a rare title, and I think there are only two copies that survive in its entirety. So, when I entered these titles last week, I thought "big deal" since I already know about them, etc. (Nice attitude, huh? I claim sleep deprivation induced grumpiness) I was pleased to return to the books in my "library" and see a popularity ranking ("Dune" is ranked 45th with 12,235 members, and "Walt Whitman in Australia" is ranked 3,433,020th with 1 member), an average rating, reviews, recommendations, and the libraries that are most similar to yours. Ah! So I can discover new titles that I might not have known about--always a treat for a librarian--and can help with reader's advisory! I'm starting to like this Library Thing! My concerns are that a) many (though not all!) of the recommendations are other titles in the same series so it is not that helpful at times, and some of the recommendations are a little, shall we say, off-base? Recommendation number 6 for "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!" is "Wringer" by Jerry Spinelli. I loved "Wringer" when I read it, but it seems like an awfully big leap to go from reading a cute picture book about a clueless pigeon finding a hot dog to a chapter book about a 9 year old boy who does not want to turn 10 because the town tradition is that 10 year old boys wring the necks of pigeons wounded in the annual Pigeon Day shoot. I get the connection--pigeons--but sometimes technology can only do so much. That is why the world needs librarians. Now I just need to work on my superhero costume. Maybe Barbara Gordon can help me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now this is cool!

What do you think of my new header? I have no idea who secretly made me into a comic book character (Al?? Did you have George do this??), but I think the likeness is striking. Except they gave my lips a collagen treatment. Perhaps so I would not sue them for using my likeness without permission.

Oh, and that guy behind me with the guns? He goes around to households where there are overdue materials and "politely" asks for them back. Some suspect it is John, but I'll never tell...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Too much fun....

Before I say anything else, I should apologize to technology for calling it "stupid" in my last post, even though I was kidding. As my son pointed out, "stupid" is a bad word so "no say that".

Speaking of my little (rambunctious) angel, I started playing with Image Generator. Check this out!

Isn't this cute? Of course, that isn't a real motorcycle. But my cousin Matt's eldest daughter, Elena Myers, does race motorcycles, and she's pretty good at it! Check out her website.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Old way vs. the new way

Last night, I checked my mailbox. You know the kind. It sits at the end of your property, and a trusty government worker drops all sorts of stuff into it like letters and bills. I received the latest version of the alumni newsletter from SUNY-Albany (although they call it UAlbany now). I found out that Harvey Milk is a fellow alum as I perused the pages.

Fast forward to a few minutes ago. I am checking out Topix to provide fodder for this blog (unlike the last post--that was for fun), and I learn that the"Craigslist Killer", Phil Markoff, is also an alum! I don't want to know that! Stupid technology! (just kidding)

I also learned that some streets in Albany are being closed to film a car chase scene for the latest Angelina Jolie action movie, "Salt". So it all evens out.

Right now, I like Topix, and I prefer Google Reader over Bloglines.

Technology--is it safer?

Before I delve into other tasks on the 27 Things list (I have a Bloglines account and managed to subscribe to some feeds)....

Everyone talks about how different youth has it these days. For example, my son plays on plastic playground equipment with nice soft landing areas vs. the metal that would rust and give you blisters either from friction or from being heated to a billion degrees in the sun.

Last night, my 8 year old neighbor, Coby, had another drum lesson. He just started, so he's not close to Tommy Lee yet. Angel, another neighbor, and I stood with our boys at the end of the driveway and shouted encouraging remarks about his rock star status, although he should be cautioned against playing with Spinal Tap. Angel stated she wished she had a lighter to hold aloft. I remembered I had my cell phone and held it aloft as apparently cell phones are the new lighter. One of my colleagues has an iPhone, which has a flashlight application that would be perfect for using at a concert. Certainly, it would be safer to use a cell phone's LCD than a lighter. I have never gotten burns on my thumb from a cell phone, unlike a lighter's flint wheel, at a concert or anywhere else. However, there is a certain satisfaction to flicking one's Bic and the element of danger connected to holding the element of fire.

Not to mention the satisfaction of burning a Red Sox hat with a Yankees lighter. Go, Nicky!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Back by popular demand, here is a link to the blog of my friend, Al Bruno III. He is a writer, and, unlike James Patterson, he is not getting rich off selling books just yet. But if he does, I plan on nominating one of his titles for One Book Sacramento. Probably not the one about the pavement eating monster though.

Piggybacking on John's post about technology/progress, today I was assisted with the task of seeing the branch with new eyes. (No, it wasn't anything like that disgusting scene in Minority Report with Tom Cruise). It's easy to stagnate when bogged down in the mundaneness of everyday tasks, but I want more. I want this place to be getting Better Every Day. I just heard a mom comment to her daughter, "The library is an exciting place to be." as they were exiting our all ages movie program. That's what I want to hear every single day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

That is so wrong.....

My friend Al knows that "Dune" by Frank Herbert is one of my top two favorite books. So he sent me an email this morning about a coloring book based on the novel. Yes, a coloring book! Are you kidding me? The page with Duke Leto lying dead on a gurney (not Gurney Halleck, ha ha) kills me (pun intended). What were these people thinking??? Leave the coloring books to the Care Bears and other such characters! Sheesh!

What's gonna work? Teamwork! (yes, the Wonder Pets theme song)

Yesterday I attended the Fully Engaged Customer Service workshop, and it gave me a lot to think about in terms of what do I do and how others perceive it. Plus the opportunity to see Joann Severson pretend to be irritated at a customer made it all worth it even if the rest of it bombed. Which it didn't. Anybody who attended the workshop knows the Beanie Baby exercise. For those who didn't, half the class stands in a circle, and it is determined who will throw a Beanie Baby at whom. It works best when everyone is focused on just 2 people: the person tossing it to you and the person you are tossing it to. However, I found it fascinating when it was my time to be observer to see how well it worked overall when everyone was focusing appropriately. That is where the teamwork comes in. If there is a staff person who is not doing their job, the team does not function as smoothly. But if everyone is doing their jobs, some pretty cool things happen. Speaking of teams....

Last night, John and I went to see the Stockton Thunder play the Ontario Reign in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Apparently, there was a baseball game at the same time, and maybe that is why the attendance was about half of what it was during the regular season games we attended. The whacko Cameron wasn't even there to stir up the crowd, but somehow the energy was more intense. These are the people who really care about hockey. The "YOU SUCK!!!!" crew was stronger and louder than usual. I even joined them on a few rounds. The Thunder worked better as a team than I had seen all year (except for the last 2 minutes of the third period when they allowed 2 short-handed goals to force it into overtime). They pulled it together to win in OT. Huddy fed the puck to Bates, who slapped a quick shot past Zatkoff, and it was sweet. What would have made the game better was if the officials would let the guys fight. Especially Hunt. That kid is 5'8", but he was not afraid to push back on the guys over 6' who were harrassing him. Go Thunder, and may you win the game tomorrow!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tums, anyone?

Some things are easy for me to learn. Other things are difficult, and it would be so much easier if I had a person sitting next to me telling me to do this, do this, and then do this rather than written instructions that I have to keep going over. This reminds me of starting out in grad school and learning how to submit my assignments online. It had to be in a certain format, and you had to cut and paste and other stuff I had never done before. Nobody helped me. I just had to keep trying different things until I got it right. And then I had to figure out how to do it again. Usually while gulping Tums to calm my upset stomach because my stomach is my "stress target".
Some of the people I help with computer questions at the library think I am a genius. I sure hate to disabuse them of that notion, but I know how it is to feel utterly stupid doing some computer tasks. I suppose trying to figure out a new task while getting constantly interrupted by reference questions is not the best idea, but I thought I'd at least read through the information on RSS feeds while on the desk in between questions. This is something completely new to me, so we'll see how it goes.

Unexpected results

I was doing outreach this morning to a grandparents' support group. The point was to inform them what the library has/does and for them to inform me on what they want and need the library to be. Before it was time to do my presentation (which ended up different than how I envisioned but still good), a counselor was there to help folks talk about the issues they are having caring for their grandchildren. It brought me wham, bam, back to my social work days. One woman talked about disciplining and teaching her 7 year old grandson, who she has raised since he was 5 days old and born with fetal alcohol effect and drug addiction. He has ADHD and is failing first grade for the second time. These folks are dealing with some heavy-duty issues, and yet there was a lot of laughter in the two hour session. An amazing group of folks, and I learned more than just when is the best time to hold a storytime.

But what touched my heart the most was the closing exercise of the meeting. Everyone stood in a circle and held hands. The group leader asked that we think of an adjective to describe ourselves that begins with the same letter as the one in our first name. Then we went around the circle and said that adjective and our name. After thinking a bit, I said "Lighthearted Laura" when my turn came. Then she said that all of us are all those things, and we went around again and said just the adjectives.

Compassionate, angelic, nourishing, amazing, jovial, magical, jazzy, tender, lighthearted....

We are all those things and more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The force of attraction

My current branch is the third one where I've worked in the system, although I have worked temporarily at 4 or 5 more from time to time. My first branch got a Starbucks nearby, and I was happy. Then I moved to my second branch, which had no nearby Starbucks. Oh well. There was a fellow staff member who was a coffee guzzler too, so I was content with that....until the day a Starbucks opened near that branch! Alright! Now, I don't make a habit of buying mochas, but I like to have the option of taking one of my breaks to obtain one if I need to. So, guess what happens? Yep, I move yet again. No nearby Starbucks. Darn it! But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? (See, I can quote Shakespeare too, Johan!) It is to the north, a Starbucks opens a block away! Now I see that the stores near my first two branches are slated for closure. It can't be due to the loss of my business and sunny personality. I mean, probably not. Hopefully, the one near me stays least until I move again.

I cannot go to the mountain (or other habitat) so it comes to me

I have been doing a lot of computer work lately, and my eyes are feeling the strain. Here I am back on the reference desk, but the computer screen cannot hold my attention (except to check for typos). Why? Because Wild Things, Inc. is here. The door to the community room is open, and I have (mostly) clear sight lines to the action. So far, the presenter has shown an owl, cockroaches, a beaver, and a spider monkey just came onto the scene. It's a lot of fun listening to all the oohs and ahhs of the kids. The library is a good place to be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Html, shtml....

One of the assignments is to post something about technology. In typical me fashion, I don't know if the previous post about Flutter counts, so here is another one to make sure I get full credit. (Can you tell I come from a family full of teachers?) Yes, I know there is no grade to this, but, heck, even my blood type is A+. (Add that to your list, Chris, of things you are learning about SPL folks!)

Anyway, technology. I suffered a loss recently, and one of the folks in the support group I found talked about creating a website as a memorial. Hmm, I thought. I could probably do that. I took a HTML class in grad school! Then I remembered that, unlike all my other classes, I was glad that Florida State was adamant that everyone work in groups. Why, you ask? Because I had an honest-to-God website developer in my group! Our group assignment (to create a website for a fictitious businessman) turned out to be the best of the class, and I got an A for learning hardly anything about HTML. Nice for my GPA, but now what do I do?

So I googled "free websites" just for the heck of it, and I landed on It is quite easy to set up a very basic site--even the mourning doves in my backyard could do it. (and why not because the nest they are trying to make is never going to work!) I don't know how much time I will spend on it, but it is nice to know I have the opportunity to do something like that without spending hours learning programming first.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My grandmother was a flapper. Now I can be one, too!

So I was being a good librarian and reading April 8th's American Libraries Direct. They always have technology stuff down at the bottom. So imagine my surprise to see the headline "Twitter be worried. Introducing Flutter". I couldn't believe it!! I spend enough of my free time on Facebook keeping up with family and friends, and I had not even gotten into Twitter yet. Now they have Flutter to replace it? Flutter limits you to 26 character posts (as opposed to Twitter's 140) that are called "flaps". They call it "nanoblogging". So I click on the link to find out more. It links you to a video.

It is hilarious. I wish I'd thought of it.

More photos

Here is the more artsy photo of the State Ed building. See how long it is? I wonder how many calories I burned running the length of it, back and forth. Anyway, you can see the Capitol building, well, a glimpse of it in this photo. The red roof and all. My great-great-grandfather, Philip Zervas, was one of the many folks who helped build that. Wanna see some of his handiwork? Look at the photo to the left.

Here is the Capitol building when looking across the Plaza. That weird looking building on the right is The Egg. Yep, it looks like an egg from the side. Inside is a performing arts theatre.

This photo is during the Tulip Festival in Washington Park. My friend from high school once got more than a little inebriated and climbed onto Moses' arm. I can't remember which one, but I had to climb up after her to help her down. Some people need a designated driver. I was a designated climber.

The photo to the right is from the Indian Ladder Trail in John Boyd Thacher State Park. John, I want to take you there someday on a day much like the one in the photo. It is a time honored tradition to walk this trail. This is the scene of one of my many stories that makes you laugh.

Thanks for letting me share some of my favorite places. Thanks to the people who took these photos and posted them to Flickr. But now I am homesick!! :)

Here we go with Flickr

My first thought as I was poring through images on Flickr was I have a long way to go if I ever want to be a professional photographer! I did try to take some classes while in grad school, but the class schedule clashed with my other classes. My then-fiance somewhat graciously allowed me to take his expensive camera to some of the gardens around Tallahassee. Too bad the thing was broken (not by me!), so I never did see if that (what I hoped to be a) supercool photo of a spider's web ever turned out.
Last night, my husband and I caught a few minutes of Rachael Ray's show that she did in Dublin, Ireland. Since I am half Irish-American and I got to spend some time in Dublin (not even close to enough though), I decided I was going to go look for some Dublin photos to post and talk about here. I looked at photo after photo. There were some gorgeous shots, but I did not see any of things I recognized from my brief time there. Then I thought, what about looking at photos of a place I do know? I want to see the beauty of a place I know so well in a whole new way, so I directed Flickr to my hometown: Albany, New York. I was not disappointed. There are some beautiful photos on there, and they brought back so many memories: the Tulip Festival, Washington Park, etc. (Note to Al: I did not see any photos of Price Chopper. Weird.) Anyway, I am going to attempt to get some photos into this post and tell you what they mean to me.

Ok, so this is the New York State Museum building. The museum is in on the bottom part. The upper floors are the New York State Library and New York State Archives and other offices. For the Sactown folks, this is to Capital District schoolkids what Sutter's Fort is to Sacramento schoolkids. We had a field trip there almost every year. Anyway, the middle part (above the arches) is where I spent the summer of 2000 for my library school internship. I dug around in mental health records from 1860 forward and compared sets kept at the hospitals and sets sent to Albany to determine if both need to be kept or not. I spent many a nice day eating lunch on the steps you see there and taking walks around the pool for exercise like many, many state workers.

This is the State Education building downtown. This is where my family would park every year for the St. Patrick's Day parade. You'd have to get there early, so we'd pack all sorts of sandwiches, chips, fruit, water, hot chocolate for the kids, and coffee for the grownups. We'd meet up with other family members, and the kids would literally run up and down the steps and around the columns for hours while the adults sat in the car, trying to stay warm and gossip until the parade began. The energy I had back then! The more artsy image of this building is not actually posting, so I will try again in another post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's in a name?

I see the next task is for us to explore flickr. I already have some experience with Flickr, but I apparently am going to get more. I have to wonder about the name though. Did they name it "Flickr" instead of "Flicker" to save everyone an extra key stroke? Perhaps to save its users from carpal tunnel or to save time? Or is it to separate the users, those "in the know", from hopeless wanna-bes like all those girls in high school who wrote "I love Deaf Leopard" or "Arrowsmith rules" on the desks?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

7 1/2 Habits of Lifelong Learners

The best example of a lifelong learner is my grandmother. She passed away in 1998 at age 91, but she kept up with current events, slang, movies, fashion, you name it. She loved to read, and she loved to hear what her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were getting into. She started knitting after her stroke to strengthen her weak side instead of sitting back and withering away. She was amazing. She definitely followed Habit #3: view problems as challenges, and I like to think I follow her example.

One thing that struck me was the statement that we give our signatures away every day, so we should commit to ourselves with our signature on a learning contract. As someone who signed legal documents and credit card receipts on Sunday, the reminder that our signature is committing a piece of ourselves was something to think about.