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Archive for December, 2007

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Rose leaves after a winter ice storm in Oklahoma City. Photo credit: glassgrrl_ok, Flickr

Yes, friends, it’s the haaaappiest season of all–when academic librarians go on vacation. For two whole weeks. During the darkest, wintery-est time of the year. Yes, the administration, they mocks us, but we don’t care. ‘Cause we’re on vacation!

I, your friendly scribe, probably won’t be posting again until the week of January 7th unless, by some unlikely turn of events, I get unfettered access to another terminal.

Until then, however, I thought I’d leave you with the following story from a friend of mine, Heather, who now lives in the Big City (aka Seattle) far to the South. She gave me her permission to post it here. To set the stage for you, Heather is a vivacious, twenty-something brunette who works in a jewelry store in a corner of Seattle that, in addition to patrons of the arts, also has its share of colorful street life. But I’ll let her tell it:

We had the best drunk EVER come into the store a few days ago. I didn’t realize he was drunk until I was standing right next to him and could smell the liquor. He peered into the front case and asked to see the sapphire Journey pendant. We don’t have a sapphire Journey pendant. Thinking he couldn’t see that well and meant, perhaps, the Tahitian pearl set around with diamonds, I went to pull that out. He grabbed my wrist and said,

“You got pretty eyes.” Oh, this guy is drunk.
“Thank you sir.

“No, they’re captivating. You should be careful with those things.”
“Is this what you were looking at, sir?”
“No, the sapphires!”

“Sir, these are diamonds.”
“No! No they ain’t…Oh, they ain’t blue. Can I smell them?”

Now, the piece in question was a cubic zirconia floor model of a diamond Journey pendant, so I handed it over, more for my amusement than anything else and, so help me gods, he sniffed the pendant and handed it back to me. I turned to grab a selvyt and clean the piece immediately. The guy looked down at my pants and said,

“Nice pockets, too. Nice eyes and nice pockets.”

Just then, Paul [my boss] came back in the store. I nodded at him and nodded at my strange courtier who had turned his back to us to look in another case. Paul went up to him and asked him if he had decided on anything. The man turned around, looked straight at Paul’s chest, and declared, in complete shock,

“What happened to your tits?!?!?!”

Paul rolled his eyes and came back to join me behind the counter where I could barely contain my laughter. Paul scribbled a note on a piece of paper. It read “This guy is wasted.” No, really? The man tottered around the shop for a while, peering in the cases and then left, admonishing me to keep my eyes closed, lest I start a riot. As soon as he left, I turned to Paul.

“Hey, Paul…Where’d your tits go?”

Paul turned red and said I should go run after that guy and get his phone number. Then he sent me to go get him some coffee. The end.

 

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Part of my job as oral history collection manager is evaluating potential donations for inclusion in our collection. Which frequently means listening to unmarked or marginally labeled tapes of all kinds. So I’m sitting at my desk, going through a box of audiocassettes from the local wildlife refuge and I pop an unlabeled one into the cassette player. I don’t have any headphones on because what the heck, it’s four days before Christmas, we don’t have any patrons, the interviews are generally pretty quiet, and I’m only listening to the first minute anyway.

I pushed the Play button and a VERY LOUD “OOOOOO-OOOOOOO” burst out and went echoing through the department. The cassette was a tape of identifying bird calls for bird watchers and apparently, the boreal owl is both very loud and very vocal.

Friends, I can’t vouch for the birds, but if you need to attract the library staff to your office on the double, I highly recommend imitating the call of the boreal owl. 🙂

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Okay, Modcloth.com claims that these are just “sleepy” panda salt & pepper shakers. I say that these pandas are clearly the victims of an acupuncture experiment gone horribly wrong or some form of alien evisceration. Notice how one panda is missing his entrails while the other has had his brains removed. A suitable gift for the holidays? Not unless you’re a zombie, man. The horror, people, the horror! 🙂

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#36.) On-line photo editing software–The beauty of photo editing software is that it can turn a so-so photo into a work of art. I was really happy with Piknik which I found very intuitive and easy to use. Below is an example of one of my photos that I was able to alter in Piknik.

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This is the original photo taken at the Oakland Farmers Market in Oakland, CA in October of this year.
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And this is the edited version of same. I cropped the photo, heightened the colors, blurred the focus, put a border on it, and saved the edited version to my hard drive–all done using only the freeware version of Piknik. You can pay a fee to get more options, but, for an amateur like me, I had all the elements I needed. Another nice feature: you don’t need to create an account to use the software. This baby is sweet, I’m tellin’ you.

There are other on-line photo editing services out there, but I think Piknik is the best. Try it, you’ll like it.

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Well, one daemon to be precise. My colleague, Peg, pointed me in the direction of the Golden Compass movie site which has a quiz on it that you can take to see what sort of animal spirit (daemon) you would be matched with. Click on the “Meet Your Daemon” icon at the bottom of the page or choose “Daemons” from the menu at the top.

Mine, as you can see, is a mouse (Alexius) and according to the quiz, I am spontaneous, modest, humble, assertive, and competitive. I’m not sure how well assertive and competitive go with modest and humble, but, hey, the oracle has spoken.

Having a Mouse Daemon goes a long way to explain why I work underground, in a labyrinth, and am surrounded by bits of paper that I’d like to shred. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have to go get a drink by pressing on the spigot of the communal water bottle …..

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What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.
–Captain, Road Prison 36, “Cool Hand Luke”

#35.) Twitter and Jaiku–Maybe I’m revealing my age, but I just don’t get the point of text messaging. I’ve checked out the websites, taken a look at the sample feeds, even read Jaiku founder Jyri Engstrom’s talk on cell phones and social peripheral vision and I still can’t figure out why anyone would text message or mini-blog when they could simply send an e-mail or make an actual phone call from an actual phone.

Both cellphones and text messaging are predicated on the same assumption: that people not only can, but SHOULD be in contact all the time which is a bafflement to me. Back in the Really Olde Days, what you wanted to be more than anything else is out of touch, especially from annoying people like bosses and parents who would make you work and curb your fun. And back then, when you were ditching your responsibilities, you had a legitimate excuse: you had no way to communicate with them.

Phones of yore were boxes that were attached to walls and booths. You had to pay to play and phones, while located in a lot of public places, weren’t everywhere. You did not pack them with you and they did not do things like remember the last phone number you called. You had to do that yourself, by writing down phone numbers on your hand or on small slips of paper. Not only could you get better reception on a land-line phone, but if you chose not to call, you could always claim that you had lost the number.

What about e-mail, the Internet, the web, computer cafes? Not even a remote possibility. Anyone who had a home computer back then was using it to whack a virtual Ping-Pong ball back and forth.

I love to blog and I go into severe withdrawal if deprived of my e-mail, but I don’t have a compulsion to send messages every second, especially about the sort of trivial things that people usually text to each other e.g. “I’m stuck in traffic”, “I’m in the ketchup aisle at the grocery store”, etc. In the old days, you went to the store, forgot your shopping list, couldn’t contact homebase for instructions, brought back the wrong kind of tuna, and, as a result, weren’t asked to do the shopping again, thus allowing you to legitimately avoid another dreary chore.

Do a little experiment and put aside your cell and your Blackberry for a day. Yes, deliberately put yourself out of communication range for a single day. Know what that strange yet exhilarating sensation is that you’re now experiencing? It’s called freedom, my friends, freedom. And it’s very sweet.

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In this exciting episode, our valiant heroine learns about on-line fitness tools.

#34.) FitDay and Nutridiary are on-line versions of the food/exercise journals experts often recommend you keep if you are trying to lose weight and/or up your exercise level. Some people can make these work for them. I, on the other hand, keep them faithfully for a short time and then become bored and ditch the whole thing. I also question the fitness applications of sites that essentially require us to plant ourselves in front of a computer. If we’re sitting still looking at a screen, aren’t we, in fact, being less active?

An on-line fitness activity that doesn’t get mentioned is the walking challenge. By counting miles or steps, you are able to track your progress along a map. Depending on the program, you may or may not have a deadline to complete your trek by. Following your progress through a real or imaginary landscape keeps you motivated.

Here are a couple that I’ve run across:

Get Fit on Route 66 requires you to register, but is free. You track your progress down–you guessed it–the historic Route 66 highway. For every minute that you exercise, your virtual car moves one mile down the road. A nice feature of this program are the links that take you to websites or photo features on the towns that you pass through. Downside: the database you enter your miles in can be glitchy. The site is run by AARP, but you don’t need to be a member to participate.

Walk the Last Great Race–without ever leaving home–when you roll with Boy Scout Troop 298 and the other walkers following the route of the Iditarod this spring. Idita-Walk requires you to pay a small fee ($10.00) in order to register. The proceeds go to the Nome Boy Scouts and you receive a logo pin if you finish. This is a walking challenge with a set time limit (between Feb. 3-March 18, 2007) and a goal of 1049 minutes. You need to do a minimum of 30 minutes of walking for 35 days. A nice feature of this site is that you can print off and mail in your entry fee as well as your finished log sheet instead of doing it on-line. There is also an Idita-Splash swimming challenge (a fundraiser for the Nome Swim Team) with a higher registration fee and earlier deadline.

My personal favorite, however, is the Eowyn Challenge, a Lord of Rings-based walking program where you can follow in the footsteps of the Fellowship across Middle Earth. It’s completely free and there’s no need to register unless you want to. The site itself is four years old now, but is still useful. A nice feature of this program is the “Milestones for Your Journey” on the Tools page. You can print out a listing of what events in the story are happening at the various milepoints along your route. You can also keep track of the number of miles you’ve logged on the “Milestones Celebration Page”. You do need to register in order to access the Milestones database. There are also fun features like Middle Earth postcards you can send to other people when you make your destination.

Words to the wise: 1) you will develop a LOT of respect for the endurance of the Fellowship once you start laying down the footleather and 2) expect the Lothlorien to the Falls of Rauros leg of the trip to take forever. I swear that River Anduin just keeps on going. And going. And going. You’ll be beggin’ for orcs to attack to break up the monotony.


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