Archive for January, 2008

Danger: Batman Under Pickup

Originally uploaded by SA_Steve

I came across this photo on Flickr and nearly laughed myself to death. Check out SA_Steve’s sign pictures. They’re a riot.


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Off with their heads
Originally uploaded by Jenny Watters

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from a writer for a multi-part interview we had in our oral history collection with a well-known regional artist. I hate getting requests from writers or reporters of any streak because the concept of planning ahead is completely unknown to them. They always need the information immediately, their requests are rarely, if ever, straight forward, and, of course, they haven’t bothered to contact me until the last possible minute.

But I did the best I could for this patron. The artist’s interview ran to eleven tapes and had a 130-page transcript. I offered to look up the specific information that she wanted and then just send her those pages, but, no, her inquiry was not that focused. It wasn’t, in fact, focused at all and nothing would do but that she had to have the complete transcript. Attempting to read through a book-sized transcript 24 hours before your publication deadline is pushing it, but I figured that perhaps she was looking to glean some good quotes for her article.

So I moved heaven and earth to get this patron the transcript. That movement of the spheres required long-distance hand holding via e-mail and multiple checks of the Postal Service package tracking service. But the patron was appropriately grateful to receive the material and I promptly forgot the whole thing. Until yesterday when I received a complimentary copy of the publication.

Pleased by the unexpected gesture, I flipped through the journal to see the results of my labors. The article I had busted my chops for was one page–one page!–in length, filled with an absolute minimum of biographical information on the artist, and included only one quote and a partial one at that. To add insult to injury, when I checked the citation list, the patron had referenced the interviews as being owned by the Gondorian Archives instead of the University of Arnor.

Yes, the Gondor Archives does own a copy of this collection, but were they the ones that sweated blood to get her this transcript? NOOOOOOO!

What kind of writer, you may ask yourself, puts other people through a great deal trouble in order to get information she could have gathered from a reputable encyclopedia and a few periodical articles–and then doesn’t cite her source properly? The kind that will shortly be missing a head, my friends.

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In which our journey of enlightment continues.

#37.) Pandora and LastFM–I can see where these two services would be of interest to acquisitions librarians or people doing listeners’ advisory. Basically, both websites allow you to type in the names of groups or musicians and then the site pulls up music that is similar in style. Pandora only allows you to have a quick taste, however, before it wants you to register so I tend to favor LastFM. When it comes to finding new music for my personal collection, however, I recommend CDBaby.

CDBaby is a commercial site that caters to independent musicians. I found it an especially good source for ethnic or Middle Eastern dance music which tends to be very specialized.

#38.) Comic Relief–I got a big kick out of Shelf Check (available at ToonDo). It’s great to see how artists, using a limited palette of tools, are able to create different and amusing comic strips.

#39.) Animoto–Animoto looked really cool and professional and I was eager to try it out–right up until I opened the registration screen. Be forewarned–Animoto wants A LOT of information for the purposes of selling you stuff before it will let you register. You don’t even get to take a trial version out for a spin. I didn’t sign up and I don’t encourage other potential users to do so either. Applications want to be free, man.

#40.) Retroland–Okay, I LOVED Retroland. It’s a site dedicated to pop culture from the past couple of decades, great for stuff you vaguely recollect as a kid. I did a search on space food sticks, tasty bits of junk food “just like the astronauts eat”, and came up with this result. Completely devoid of nutritional value, but darn tasty. Neat, huh? Alright, maybe you had to be there. A warning: this cyber trip down memory lane is very addictive.

#41.) Live Mocha–There are a number of language learning sites out there. Live Mocha goes them one better by offering on-line writing and speaking help from native language tutors. No Arabic, unfortunately. In order to take advantage of its interactive elements, however, you need to have digital audio software and recording technology and the know-how to use them.

An alternative might be the BBC Language Center. There’s a big chunk set up for non-native speakers to learn English (ESL teachers, be advised), but there’s also a handy Berlitz phrase-book-style of audio and video for people looking to learn Spanish, German, French, Greek, Portugese, and Chinese. It’s not meant to substitute for actual one-on-one instruction, but to serve as a complement to same. Check it out and see how well you can follow along.

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My rule of thumb with marine life is that if the creature approaching me is bigger than me and the boat combined, I’m outta there. Possibly by revving my feet so fast that I plane over the water like Wile E. Coyote after the Roadrunner.

The picture is taken from this article in the Sept. 2005 issue of “Africa Geographic” on great white shark research in South Africa. In search of a way to observe the sharks, the researchers opted for kayaks. As the authors Tom Peschak and Michael Scholl note, “sitting in a 3.8 metre sea kayak and watching a four-metre great white approach you is a fairly tense experience. Although we had extensively tested the sharks’ reactions to an empty kayak and had observed no signs of aggression, this gave us little comfort as we eyed a great white heading straight for us, albeit slowly. Just a metre or so from the craft it veered off, circled and slowly approached from behind. It did this several times, occasionally lifting its head out of the water to get a better look. Then it lost interest and, as it continued on its way, we were able to follow a short distance behind.”

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So I got back from holiday break, expecting to find a modest trickle of hits, and was astounded to find that the blog had scored an unbelievable 111 views. What could people be looking at given that my trademark witty banter was absent? The answer: LOL Cats. Yes, friends, people in search of their LOL Cat fix search WordPress or Google and find my blog. Apparently, the key to getting a lot of hits is to post photos and if those photos happen to feature cats with amusing captions, so much the better.

A closer look at the search terms people have been using to find my blog revealed the following gems:

  • “How to be a nazgul”–Well, first you take a ring of power from a dark overlord. Then you fall in shadow and after that it’s really just an eternity of screeching and chasing after short people with jewelry.
  • “Corona research biased”–We’re either talking about beer or the auroras and either way I have no idea what this searcher is actually looking for.
  • “Slave girl/Orion slave girl (s)”–A very persistent search term. Guys, just go buy yourselves some Boris Vallejo calendars and call it good.
  • “A good cheerleading method”–Rah, rah, boom, bah?
  • “Banner administrative software bad”–Won’t be getting any arguement from me.
  • “Motivational/Motivational poster”–You won’t be finding any motivation around here, people.
  • “Cat bonzai”–You let your cat prune your bonsai by having them sharpen their claws on it?

Ah, it’s good to be back.

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