Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free book! Free book!

From Bibliofuture of LISNews.org:
The Alchemyst, which got a starred review in School Library Journal, is available as a free PDF download on Amazon for a limited time.

You can download the book here: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Just below the box on Amazon that list the different editions is a link that allows you to download a PDF of the entire book; my understanding is the link is coming down in a couple days so grab a copy now if you want one)

I've got mine. I've seen it in the bookstore and was intrigued.

So it's almost four in the morning

and I'm still up, having gone to Meijer to pick up a few things (I refuse to go to Wal-Mart on principle). I went to get a fan to help me sleep (my old one died, which is a shame, because I had it for four months but happened to have just thrown away the receipt, so I couldn't get it fixed under warranty) and some food. I wound up also picking up some actual tropical fish food (I've been feeding them all I had, which was goldfish food), an aquarium scrubber/planter, a $6 shirt, and an item which I owe someone (he no doubt thinks I have forgotten). It happened to be on an end cap when I went by, and included all parameters of the original I was replacing, plus it was on sale. :)

Okay, I am starting to get sleepy finally.

The building blocks of mad science

A wonderful gift for that child who wishes to become a mad scientist when they grow up (or for those of you who still harbour the dream):

A Young Mad Scientist's First Alphabet Blocks from Xylocopa are a set of five blocks with all 26 letters of the alphabet beautifully illustrated. Here are the associations:

A - Appendages
B - Bioengineering
C - Caffeine
D - Dirigible
E - Experiment
F - Freeze ray
G - Goggles
H - Henchmen
I - Invention
J - Jargon
K - Potassium
L - Laser
M - Maniacal
N - Nanotechnology
O - Organs
P - Peasants (with Pitchforks)
Q - Quantum physics
R - Robot
S - Self-experimentation
T - Tentacles
U - Underground Lair
V - Virus
W - Wrench
X - X-Ray
Y - You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow
Z - Zombies

I would have thought 'M' would be 'Minions', but I guess 'Maniacal' will work as well. And note there are both tentacles and zombies, which makes me very happy. The set is $39.95.

Thanks to Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle, from Through the Filter of a Victorian Aesthetic. As he puts it, 'What better way to teach budding young sociopaths their alphabet than with a set of wooden alphabet blocks?'

I think it's time to watch a little Dr Horrible now.

A small quiz

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Does anyone besides me think this is a bad idea?

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you've probably figured out that I like science. Before I burned out on chemistry, I actually planned to be an oecologist when I first went to college. But transgenic animals (and plants, for that matter) really make me nervous. Can they really guarantee that these manipulated species do not get into the gene pool? I also found it interesting that two of the six puppies born died.


Scientists claim to have cloned glowing dogs

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cool and horrific at the same time...

YKWIA showed me this from National Geographic:

It is rather Cthulhoid. Can you imagine this happening to a person?

Okay folks, let's not panic

Today included lots of e-mails from librarians about links to websites dealing with swine flu, one from our infection control nurse, one from our materials management director regarding travel and the flu, multiple news stories in my reader, and non-stop news coverage of the disease and its spread.

But my day was made by David Rothman, who shared a great comic on Twitter as a means to spread meaningless gloom and doom. It's great. It's best if you know anything about Twitter, but I think even if you don't, it's still fun. The comic is xkcd, and it is by Randall Munroe. Enjoy.

I'm not saying we shouldn't be concerned about the disease, but there's no reason to run off half-cocked either. Just do what you always do to avoid the flu--avoid those who are sick, wash your hands often, and if you do get sick, for goodness sake, stay home to minimise contagion and wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. I'm just saying. One interesting link I was given, though, involved Google's mapping of the outbreak. If you want to see descriptions of the confirmed cases and where they are on the map, check it out. Thanks to Helena Vonville of Texas for that link.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More on the library finances situation

Questioning Expenses in Lexington, KY

Library finances: Checking out the books
(an in-depth look at the expenses of the library director) [link good for 7 days]
Kathleen Imhoff, the Lexington Public Library's chief executive officer, spent more than $134,000 in five years on national and international travel, scores of meals at upscale Lexington restaurants, gifts for employees and board members, and other items, mostly on her library credit card.

Imhoff and her superiors on the library board of trustees defend her spending as appropriate for a high-profile businesswoman running a $15 million-a-year institution.

"The board hired me for several reasons, and among those was to increase library usage, to get the library more known in the community and to be an ambassador for the library, regionally, nationally and internationally," said Imhoff, 63, in a recent interview.

Related stories [links good for 7 days]

Imhoff's explanation of international travel (PDF)

Search expenses of Lexington Public Library's CEO

Imhoff responsible for many improvements

How Lexington stacks up to other libraries

Library officials change some credit card procedures

Tracking the library's spending

Credit cards will now be monitored more carefully

Yay, more fish!

Brenda brought two black swordtails for me--a male and a female--when she came to the game today, with some duckweed thrown in. I just acclimated them to the tank and fed everyone. The swords are very active but aren't bothering the baby platies. They are already mating, so hopefully soon I'll have little swords as well. I haven't had a chance to check the water quality lately, but I did put a capful of nitrate-fixing bacteria in for good measure (it's good on a monthly basis for maintaining the tank). Turns out the swords like algae and are tearing into the stuff that's still left over from when the nitrates got so bad. I'll take some water over to Animal House sometime this week and have them check, since they use a liquid test kit rather than the dip sticks, the former being more accurate.

Okay, that's all for now. I'm getting very sleepy. I want to watch the last episode of 'Heroes' in preparation for the season finale tomorrow, but I'm too tired right now. I'm going to try to get up later to do it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Morta est?????!!!!!!

Bea Arthur
(photo by Alan Light, used under the Creative Commons Licence 2.0)

Golden Girls’ star Bea Arthur dies at 86: Tony Award-winner ‘was a brilliant and witty woman’

Here is a wonderful video of Arthur (as Vera Charles) and Angela Lansbury (as Mame Dennis) singing 'Bosom Buddies' from Mame, both in fine form:

I will truly miss her and how she made me laugh.

Mystery stones

I know of a lot of mysterious places in the US and the world, but this one slipped under my radar, perhaps because it is recent.

American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse

For more on the Georgia Guidestones, check out the Wikipedia article.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Auditors swoop down upon the Lexington Public Library

Citing an anonymous tip, auditors showed up at the Lexington Public Library to examine documents. Recently audits at the Lexington Bluegrass Airport showed excesses by leaders of about $500,000 in personal expenditures. The mayor of Lexington has pledged to make sure other agencies receiving city monies are in compliance. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported on the audit today, and it has been working on a story about the library finances for some time. Check out a message from the library director. They are cooperating fully. I'm hoping this is all a formality; I don't think there is any clear indication of misappropriation of funds at the library (although it's not like I work there, so I have no direct knowledge). I am interested in the outcome. Certainly audits are a good way to make sure monies are spent appropriately, and an unannounced audit makes sense. But it did rather throw things into a tizzy.

An interesting story, and a little sad

A woman's quest to erase a past that won't die: 30 years after gender-reassignment surgery, woman's past as a man lingers

It must be terrible to never truly feel comfortable either in your own skin or, once taking steps to find such comfort, stand apart because you feel that other people are judging you by criteria that no longer apply.

For YKWIA, who really wants a goat

That is one patient sheep! Can you imagine the little goat on a dog?

Two excellent videos of Cthulhu Mythos

by Joseph Nanni and the folks at Bad Advice for Good Times


by Simon Larner

Thanks to YKWIA for finding them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Well, one good thing about being up

I checked, and my second payday has happened for the week, so I now have the funds to cover the car repair, my phone bill, the pizza, and groceries. The cable and electric bill get paid with next week's cheque from the gas station. I'll be a couple days late on the rent due to the car, but it won't be much more than normal. Still, I'm going to ask them if I can set up a monthly debit on the 5th of every month. I don't know if they do credit/debit cards, but it's worth an ask. I would pay less in bank fees if something did not go through right away and it would be paid each month on the 5th, so I wouldn't have a tendency to be late from the landlord's point of view, since my bank pays things like mortgages and rent over smaller debits. At least that's the theory. I could see where it could go horribly wrong, for that matter. But barring things like more car repairs, I'm set to be on time in June (which starts the new lease I signed the other day,) and hopefully that trend will continue. I never got my carpet cleaned for signing my lease last time. I wonder if they'll still do it? Might as well ask; all they can say is no. They didn't offer this time; I guess the recession is melting away such perks. They used to that or give gifts; one year I got the Mummy series on DVD. :)

Okay, I think it's safe to try to go back to bed. Have a good day. Good night, again.

:) This made me feel a little better

What can I say? Because it was my major professor's speciality, I studied mediaeval apocalypticism thoroughly.

Apocalypse Then: Our Favorite World Expiration Dates

To sum:

  1. Year 1000 of the Christian calendar (for obvious reasons)
  2. 666 after Islam has Pope Innocent III declare a coming apocalypse (1284)
  3. Anabaptist prophet Melchior Hoffman claims Jesus will return (1533)
  4. US Millerites claim Jesus will return October 22, 1844 (the Great Disappointment
  5. 1910 Halley's (side note from me: really pronounced 'Hawley's', according to the astronomer's family) Comet returns
  6. Jehovah's Witnesses predict several apocalyptic dates in the 20th century
  7. A rare planetary alignment, the Jupiter Effect, creates fears of the end of the world
  8. Heaven's Gate members commit suicide to ascend to comet Hale-Bopp (1997)
  9. Year 2000 of the Christian calendar (for obvious reasons, plus the possibility of Y2K causing computers everywhere to blow up in our faces)
  10. 2012: the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21

Check out the Wired.com story above for pictures and links for each

And a great site I found through the article is Armageddon Online, which has detailed apocalypses by date and type of apocalypse (destruction by man, destruction by volcano, etc.) from 30-1998 CE, many of them Christian, but not all. Check out the Whoops! Failed Armageddony Prophecies + Predictions for a complete list!

I personally believe that the Earth will end once it is enveloped by the Sun, but as to human civilisation, who knows? It'll probably be our own damn fault, and no celestial alignment or religious salvation will be the culprit.

Days of eating crackers + pizza = major gastric distress at 4 in the morning

I'm up, in pain and restless, thinking about going back to bed and seeing if I can sleep. Because I got paid today I splurged and got pizza after a week of deprivation, eating maybe once a day, and very little at that (did I mention I'd lost over ten pounds?) It was very satisfying, but I'm paying the price now for having pizza for lunch and dinner (and there's enough for breakfast and lunch, too, but I think I'll wait and give my body a chance to recover.)

Ohhhhhh. :(

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the game I play essentially a ninja who cuts off cultists' heads in a bid to stop the next apocalypse

This one had a less altruistic cause:

Cops hunt sword-waving ninja after robbery bid: Armed culprit flees empty-handed when clerk refuses to hand over cash

Okay, as a gas station attendant, I have to say that if someone came at me with a sword, I'd go ahead and give him the cash, then call the cops with the ninja description after he leaves. Anyone that crazy is dangerous, especially with sharp objects.

A great resource for the world's cultural history

UN puts global treasures online

Here's something I'll include the text of because it's amusing:
From Timothy at Slashdot.com:

jd [NB: I didn't include the link because it was an e-mail address, and I didn't want it mined from this website, but you can find it here] writes:
'The BBC is reporting that the United Nations' World Digital Library has gone online with an initial offering of 1,200 ancient manuscripts, parchments and documents. To no great surprise, Europe comes in first with 380 items. South America comes in second with 320, with a very distant third place being given to the Middle East at a paltry 157 texts. This is only the initial round, so the leader board can be expected to change. There are, for example, a lot of Sumerian and Babylonian tablets, many of which are already online elsewhere. Astonishingly, the collection is covered by numerous copyright laws, according to the legal page. Use of material from a given country is subject to whatever restrictions that country places, in addition to any local and international copyright laws. With some of the contributions being over 8,000 years old, this has to be the longest copyright extension ever offered. There is nothing on whether the original artists get royalties, however.'

Get the facts

Every 9 1/2 minutes someone in the United States is infected with HIV. Visit the Nine and a Half Minutes website at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for facts about HIV/AIDS prevention and living with the disease.


Marie Kennedy of Organization Monkey had a link to a slow loris getting its tummy rubbed. I looked at related videos and saw this one, and couldn't resist linking to it here:

Before you rush out to get one, keep in mind they are quite wild, mark their territory with urine, have a toxin that causes painful swelling when delivered through a bite, and in many places are illegal to own. But damn, aren't they cute?


Tomorrow I'm off both jobs so I can get my car fixed. In the morning I'm going to have it towed to the garage so they can get an early start on it. Yay, to be mobile again!

I've worked at the store the last couple of nights and have been thankfully able to get rides home both nights, so I haven't had to cross Richmond Road and Man O'War, two major thoroughfares, in the dark.

Tonight I plan on watching Monday's 'Heroes' and then work on the notes. I don't have to get up way early tomorrow, so I can hopefully get some useful stuff done tonight, because once the car's back in action, I'll have less time to take care of stuff like dishes and notes.

That's it for now. Happy Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Remembering HaShoah

Today is a day (Yom haShoah) for remembrance of the Holocaust, or Shoah in Hebrew, Churben in Yiddish. It is a day to remember the six million or so Jews who died during the Nazis' 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question'. Although we normally think of the Jewish decimation during the Nazi regime, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals, political prisoners, people classified as mentally or physically defective, Freemasons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others were also killed. Depending on which groups you include, the Holocaust victims range from 6 to 21 million persons. 78% of European Jews were estimated to have been killed during this time. Although the gas chambers are the most infamous symbol of the Nazi death machine, many Jews and others were killed by mass shootings after digging their own graves. But haShoah is primarily a day to mark the mass killings of Jews due to Nazi anti-Semitism and brutality.

It was a horrific time, but one to remember, for if we do not, we may be doomed to repeat it. Preventing genocide, rooting it out, is the responsibility of all humans, and of all of our governments. Whether in Europe, Cambodia, Rwanda, or Darfur--to name a few--genocide grows from prejudice and a thirst for power. Teaching tolerance is one preventative; pressuring those in power is another; sometimes war (as in World War II [although World War II was not about liberating Jews, as anti-Semitism was quite entrenched in Allied areas as well]) is the only answer.

Genocide is an open wound (and eventually becomes a horrible scar) upon the human consciousness. Those that commit genocide do everything they can to degrade and dehumanise those whom they hate. But as proved in the Holocaust, bodies may die, but the human spirit survives. And with that, perpetrators of genocide ultimately lose.

Below are some stories/resources talking about marking Yom haShoah. I'm sure if you look, you can find all sorts of really good resources. You may want to watch Schindler's List, Shoah, or dozens of other wonderful films. There are hundreds of books on the Holocaust or diaries from that time--the most famous one being Anne Frank's [Martin Gilbert's books are good for history; Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi write compelling memoirs]. But remembrance may be as simple as lighting a candle and reflecting on how to make our world one in which such suffering in anathema. However one chooses to mark the day, it's important that we do remember those who died and the legacy they left. We must never let those who deny the Holocaust gain ascendancy or allow genocide to be perpetrated again.

Young Jews march in memory of Holocaust victims at Auschwitz

Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust - Shoah


Steampunk with strands of Middle Eastern tones

Abney Park: 'Sleep Isabella':

For more on Abney Park, see the blog post at Voyages Extraordinaires where I found the video, or AbneyPark.com. Oh, and if you aren't familiar with steampunk, read the Wikipedia article (one mainstream movie with steampunk elements is Wild, Wild West, for example.)

The alternator will cost $350

so I know how I'm spending a good chunk of my paycheques this week. :( On the other hand, it will be good to be back on the road for both me and others. Let's hope the little car lasts awhile more.

Languages die, too

The Linguists is a documentary following two men as they travel the world trying to record languages before they die. Released in 2008, it is now available on the web through the website Babelgum. For more, see the Wired.com story The Linguists Battles Language Extinction on Web.

Here's the blurb from Babelgum:
Like modern-day explorers, the two academics featured in The Linguists travel to forgotten places around the globe to unearth rare treasures—in this case, endangered languages. On a shoestring budget, professors David Harrison and Gregory Anderson navigate difficult terrain, searching for speakers of these forgotten and mostly hidden languages. While more than 7,000 different languages are currently spoken around the world, many are rapidly disappearing. Language diversity is shrinking as colonialism and economic unrest destroy traditional tribal tongues. When young people abandon their ancestral language, the passive suppression of their culture begins, and soon those languages will cease to exist.

Joining a traditional ceremony in a remote village in India, observing a Kallawaya healing ritual in Bolivia, and completing an arduous journey into Siberia are all part and parcel of heeding the urgent call. The word connoisseurs are well suited for the monumental task of researching and documenting native tongues; they speak 25 languages between them. These humble ethnographers are in a race against time to preserve the increasingly rare words, which are intricately linked to the vanishing traditions and heritage of Indigenous populations. Well-paced and laced with humor, The Linguists serves as an insightful, contemporary adventure film with a strong emphasis on cultural history.

If you're like me and have an interest in linguistics (I was one class away from a major because I never quite managed to get phonetics into my schedule), click here to watch the film. It's about an hour long.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Word of the day

Crepuscular: pertaining to twilight (from dictionary.com).

Okay, my best friend pointed out that I was whigning about the car/food situation

and he's right. It's not like I, a professional librarian, said something like, 'you know, I don't know any crockpot recipes but I can look them up' or did much else than whign in a passive, pathetic way. My apologies.

Today was a nice diversion. I got over to the gamemaster's house late because I overslept, and it takes a good long while to get to his house by bus. But the game was very enjoyable and included a wild ride in a small boat being levitated through the air and whooshing quickly in an attempt to escape a huge tentacled swamp monster. It would have made a great attraction at Disney.

Afterwards, Brenda took us on the big grocery run and then dropped me off at my house. She also helped out with some bus money, which I appreciate.

I got in a little while ago and fed the fish, watching them for quite some time. Then I breezed through the articles in my news reader.

I'm not sure I'll be able to watch 'Heroes' with my friend tomorrow; that may depend on the bus times. But I am looking forward to watching it--it's just more fun to watch with him, and I think it may be the last one of the season--I'm not sure about that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The baby fish are agog

They're having a field day because I put some water into the tank using a flexible bowl with which I could control the flow, which stirred up edible stuff and scared the two adult fish to go hide behind a rock. So the little ones are swimming all over, including the top, rather than keeping to the gravel and features. Also, I didn't realise it but the algae on the back wall is rather porous and the babies are small enough that they can just swim behind it if they want to hide from the larger ones. Algae magnifies, apparently, as whenever one swims behind the layer, it suddenly seems bigger. Hmm.

Okay, back to tasks I need to do.

Well, phooey

So I was nervous driving the car because the battery light indicates that the alternator is not charging the battery for whatever reason and eventually, if you let it run, it will die. At work today a co-worker told me that Advanced Auto Parts would put a machine on the car for free and check to see if it is the battery or alternator. I was betting on the alternator, because the battery is new, and still under warranty, but I hoped.

When I drove into Advanced Auto Parts' parking lot, the car died as I was pulling into the space and I had to get some help getting it pushed where it needed to go.

Such is my life.

But...it didn't die on the road. It died somewhere that says it won't tow it, so it can sit until I can get it fixed next week. It also died within walking distance. Theoretically I should be able to get them to charge the battery back up (for free) and then drive over to Mitch's Auto Repair. I checked with my stepfather about estimated costs and he wasn't sure, but he told me about them being able to charge me up. I had the clerk at AAP look up alternators for my car, and it looked to be $134. I don't know if Mitch's can get it cheaper. Apparently they're pretty easy to install, so here's hoping that the labour charges aren't that bad.

Of course, it wasn't at a great time. I was about to do a big grocery run with a friend and then take him to work. I have $2, enough to get over to the game tomorrow by bus and hopefully I can get a ride home from Brenda or Margaret, but enough to get home if they can't. That's it. I don't have money to go to work, have few clean clothes (I was going to ask to do laundry at my friend's house on Monday), and the only food I have in the house is milk, a little pasta, rice, and dried beans. So tonight might be a night I throw beans and rice into a crock pot with a little seasoning and get something by morning. I don't really have crock pot recipes, unfortunately, and I'm not a cook, so I don't know how to convert things for slow cooking.

Oh, well, there's my update. I'm going to try to scavenge something to eat, rest for a bit, and then work on the game notes--I'm really behind because I was sick.

It's nice to know

that in a recession when many libraries are closing branches and reducing hours (despite greater demand), my own local library is actually expanding its hours somehow, adding two hours on Fridays and an hour on Sundays for patrons' convenience. Yay!

One more thing...

Okay, this is going to offend some folks out there. Trust me. And I'm sorry if you're offended, but this is both sick and wrong and, well, funny. And I think it mocks the blending of Christian and Pagan symbols we find in modern Easter more so than Christianity or Christ Himself. That's my take on it anyway. Thanks to YKWIA for finding it.

I have at least a dozen fifteen tiny orange baby fish

about 1/4" long already, some of them. I love watching them dart about. They're growing quickly. They have lots of places to hide; fortunately the momma and companion fish don't seem to be interested in eating them. I've upped the food a bit, making sure some is very tiny. I really need to add some new water to the tank, but I don't want to wash them into a current or bash them against the gravel. Perhaps a smaller container or placing something like a cup in the tank to soften the blow will work.

That's pretty much all I've got to say tonight. I went to both jobs, ate little, took my medicine, and am kind of tired, so I'm going on to bed. Tomorrow it's notes, work, grocery run, getting ready for the game, and more notes, where I'm trying to catch up from being sick. Oh, and I have 455 stories in my news reader, so as I sift through them I'll post some more.

Good night.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Apparently phenergan c/codeine syrup comes in giant bottles

Mine has 240 doses. That should last me a very long time, even if I took it every four hours. Let's face it, I'm not going to take it when I'm going to be driving; it'll knock me out. Or that's the theory, anyway. So I'm off to bed and hopefully won't have trouble coughing or waking up in the morning. I really do feel a lot better, just a little sniffly, headache, coughing. I think the aches are mostly gone. Here's to a productive day tomorrow. I hope there haven't been any interlibrary loan requests during my absence. I'll probably have lots of e-mail to sort through. At the store it'll be truck night. I'll try not to overdo it though. I haven't had a chance to really work on the notes or finish some things up like I'd like, so Saturday will involve getting caught up on things for the game (I also work 11 am-7 pm).

I found out my boss is returning from her medical leave next Thursday. Yay!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Great orator, promising president, and a decent storytime artist

President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are to children at the White House Easter Egg Roll:

He has the roaring and clawing motions down really well, although surely to goodness someone could have gotten him a 'big book' for this one--even I have one at the hospital. Of course, maybe the small one worked better for moving about--big books work better on easels I suppose. I don't do much storytime, so I'm not an expert.


Wow! She nailed it so well!

'Britain's Got Talent' (a show similar to 'American Idol', both of which have Simon Cowell, but this one isn't limited to singing) produced an unlikely Internet sensation in its auditions the other day with Scot Susan Boyle, whose rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' from Les Misérables (one of my favourite songs from the musical) was just wonderful. She's forty-seven years old, has a plucky sense of humour, and proves even those of us who are middle-aged can have dreams.
Singing Scot wows the world — and Oprah: Susan Boyle achieves global fame after millions view Internet ‘Talent’ clip

Here's the accompanying story video clip from 'Today':

But for the real deal, go to the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY (sorry, I couldn't find one where the embedding wasn't disabled). Simon's smile is priceless. It was such an appropriate choice in song. She's now favoured to win.

A spinster, she stayed at home to care for her parents and has only sung in school, at church, and karaoke. I'm so glad she's chasing her dream and really living her life for herself now.

Wasn't the last contestant I mentioned from this show also Scottish? Yes, he was! And you know what? Andrew Johnston has his own record contract and career. Here's hoping Susan Boyle will as well. :)

Well, in the words of my doctor, I officially have the 'crud'

for which he prescribed several things, including phenergan cough syrup with codeine, which should eliminate the cough-all-night-and-get-no-sleep thing. After much nose blowing this morning, things cleared up about the time I went to see him (isn't that always the way?) Even my temp evened back out for a couple of hours. I've coughed some today but generally feel on the mend. But the least little thing (especially bending over), takes my breath away. I'm chilling now and have a really bad headache(it's getting on evening), so I'm taking some ibuprofen and I'm going to take a nap because I'm wiped out. Tomorrow I'm set to go back to work at both jobs. Tonight I need to straighten up a little if possible (there are tissues everywhere).

My battery light came on while I was out, but the car kept going. My battery is only a few months old, so I'm not sure what that means, and I'm too tired to go out and get the manual right now. I hope it's not something like the alternator, but just in case I'm saving the last couple of dollars I have for the bus.

Okay, nap time. Sorry this has been all about my illness this week. But it's basically all that's been happening, what can I say?

Not quite as harmful as Welsh sheep

but still harmful to the brain:

Would't you have a shirtless man running amok down the hallways of the Enterprise with sword in hand as Murdoch, too? It's a great Star Trek/A-Team parody that YKWIA showed me awhile back. I was searching for something to get me going. I have an appointment at 11:45 with my doctor.

I have reached the cough-and-no-sleep portion of the programme

Well, that isn't quite true, as I dreamt a great deal, but I don't think I was actually asleep for most of that. We're talking delicate fractal vistas, and receiving a boss' instructions via orchid bloom. Much of it centered over things incorporating blowing wind, as my CPAP and I never were comfortable last night.

So I'm calling as soon as the doctor's office opens to make an appointment. I've already cancelled a root canal I was supposed to do this afternoon (I didn't think it would be such a good thing to do with a throat teeming with germs.) Bleh. Have I mentioned bleh?

The very last thing I would have expected to do for National Library Week

would be to stay home in bed with a spring cold that put me into a sort of achy catatonia. I'm at least out of bed, but the fever is still an issue and the mucous is resplendent. If anything, there's more mucous now that I'm awake. A friend called me 'Phlegm Fatale' once he called and found my normal 1st soprano voice had turned bass. I'm still a baritone. It is minutely better than it has been--I was at least able to do the taxes, although I made a mistake with paying the electric bill earlier that means my electric bill will be paid but I have no money for food, so doing such paperwork whilst sick probably isn't the best thing to do. I think unless I'm feeling loads better tomorrow there's nothing to do but break down and go to Dr Nesbitt and see if he can get me on the mend, or at least get me so the least little thing doesn't make me wheeze so badly I reach for my inhaler, before realising it's not my asthma.

At least I'm no longer having dreams of large strings of words (slogans, maybe?) that eat other large strings of words, paring them down to small sayings. (Welcome to the first 48 hours.) A friend was of the opinion that I was having an adman's fevered dreams and that I needed to get some of my own.

Speaking of fevered, you have no idea how much I'm having to use the spell checker and go back and look at the grammar of this post. Thank goodness for ibuprofen, but is there a pill that puts your brain back into place during an illness?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

7 minutes/$666/$313/free

  • 7 minutes (How much I beat the midnight deadline in e-filing my taxes. Okay, yes, I put it off, but I've been sick this week, too. I didn't mean to put it off till quite so late!)
  • $666 (How much I owe the federal government for this year...yes, $666. Aren't you glad I'm not a religious wingnut?)
  • $313 (How much I owe the Kentucky state government for this year.)
  • Free (How much it cost to do my taxes via TurboTax, through an alliance Kentucky participates in for lower income filers [You have to go in through the state's Revenue Cabinet E-File web page.])

Having it all over (except the paying, of course)....Priceless.

It's a shame when you make less than $25,000 and you owe about $1000 back in taxes that weren't withheld. I did change my W-4s at the second job partway through the year but I'm not sure how much it really helped. Before I put in the gas station W-2, I had a refund of $424 coming to me, so apparently too much is withheld at the hospital and too little at the gas station. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I'm still sick--actually a little worse. I'm chilling and my fever's been around the 100 degree mark, meaning it's not very high but it's enough to make me feel bad. I've mostly just lain in bed; occasionally I'll come out to the recliner but that's about it. I haven't felt like blogging, even. About all I've managed to do since I've been sick is watch 'Heroes' (it was great), make some cereal and macaroni and cheese occasionally, and notice that my fish that has been pregnant for four months has finally given birth to little orange platies.

It's frustrating--I'm off both jobs, I have to do my taxes (yes, I procrastinated) and I have no energy to even take a bath. Bleh indeed.


Amazon Says It Will Correct Its Search Function

Was the Amazon De-listing Situation a Glitch Or a Hack?

The company is saying a computer glitch caused the sudden de-listing of gay titles. Others have claimed they hacked the site, although evidence to that effect has been nil. Still others wonder if the site implemented a new policy that garnered quite a bit of attention and protest. Whatever the reason, they are working at correcting the problem. Rankings affect how easy it is to find an item on Amazon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Okay, so it's not just sinuses

I have low-grade fever and feel very virus-y (if you've ever had a cold or flu, you know what I mean), and even though I've had hours of rest I'm tired, achy, and feel worse this evening, which makes sense, as viruses tend to be worse in the morning and night, in my experience anyway. My head hurts. So do my hands. I just hurt all over.

So I'm not over at a friend's to watch 'Heroes' tonight. I'm stuck at home with the crud. Gack.


I woke up with some sort of crud that gives you a sore throat, headache, coughing, copious mucous, and aches everywhere from your toes to behind your eyeballs. Even the back of my head feels swollen. I'm not running a temperature, although I feel like I am. It may just be bad sinus issues--Kentucky is notorious for it (I've heard the Indians called the Ohio Valley 'the land of death', but that may just be a folk tale), I've had trouble with it a good part of my life, and a front of storms is moving in to the area. Or it could be sinuses plus fibromyalgia, something I have but have mostly dealt with time. Still, there are days I feel like I've been hit by a Mack truck, and this is one of them. I called into work and got a couple of hours' more rest, then got up to see if a shower would help (it didn't, it just made me snottier) and get some food in my stomach. I'm going back to rest some more now, I think. Ugh.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

When is a guide for students going to college considered 'adult'? When it is written for gays...

Amazon stripping sales ranking from gay & lesbian books (via Anonymous Patron of LISNews)

Some of the books affected:
James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room
Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain
Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness
The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students

to name a few. This also appears to include gay autobiographies. Amazon's explanation, as told to one writer of gay young adult novels who had this happen?
In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.
Hence, if you have further questions, kindly write back to us.
Best regards,
Ashlyn D
Member Services
Amazon.com Advantage

This seems to mostly affect the US portal, apparently. Check out the link above for more titles. You can also check out the LiveJournal community tracking this.

Two of my favourite Scottish songs

'The Dear Green Place' by Battlefield Band

(The 'Dear Green Place' is another name for Glasgow, by the way.)

'Donald McGillavry' by Silly Wizard

What to do when you have lots of sheep, excellent sheep dogs, and a sale on Christmas lights?

Why, you do extreme shepherding. From Wales, of course, where they have all of the above, electric know-how, and too much time on their hands. It's great. Thanks to Brenda from the game for harming me with this:

'What is freedom?'

Those were the first words Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi wrote in his blog when he first started it in 2006. Later he was jailed, tried, and sentenced to 30 months in prison for insulting Iranian leaders and the Islamic character of Iran.

Blogger becomes casualty of Iranian cyber-wars: Showdown brewing between government and bloggers, social network sites

During his incarceration he quickly began to suffer depression. On March 18th, he died of an overdose of tranquilizers provided by the prison. He'd been at the prison for a little over a month.

I am so glad that I live in a country with freedom of speech, as well as other rights. I hope someday Mirsayafi's people enjoy similar rights. We Americans tend to take ours for granted; his death is a reminder of why we shouldn't do that.

According to the article, Reporters Without Borders lists 68 bloggers that are imprisoned like Mirsayafi, most in China. Blogging is a perfect medium for political dissidence. For that very reason oppressive regimes do what they can to control access to the Internet, use censorship of information, and imprison those they find undesirable.

To freedom, wherever it may be, and to the memory of a young man whose words dared to challenge others to think and question their leaders.

As it should be...

I meant to pass this along earlier: White House invites gay families to Easter event

Every year I have a TB skin test

because I work in a hospital. But like any other test, it is apparently not 100% accurate, as evident in this case:

Doctor Possibly Exposed Hundreds to TB: Babies, Children May Be Among Those Exposed; No Other Confirmed Cases Yet

The doctor worked in three Chicago hospitals for 10 months before she was diagnosed. She probably was exposed at an AIDS clinic in Africa. But she was screened for tuberculosis--it was just negative. Procedures seem to have been followed, but nothing is foolproof, and as a result hundreds of people, including babies, may have been exposed to a serious disease.

Are the Chinese trying to kill us?

YKWIA is convinced this is the case. Lead paint in toys, tainted pet food--now drywall imported from China is implicated in emissions that sicken people and corrode copper pipes and tarnish silverware. The drywall may have been put into hundreds of thousands of homes during the building boom, including some built during the Katrina recovery.

See AP IMPACT: Chinese drywall poses potential risks for a complete rundown on the situation. Does the Chinese government manage any oversight in manufacturing? You have to wonder given the various fiascos in Chinese imports.

Thanks to YKWIA letting me know about this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Uni-flipper turtle gets it straight with swimsuit

Allison the sea turtle, a presumed victim of a shark attack, has only one flipper. Most sea turtles in that condition are euthanised, as it is difficult for them to surface for air and they wind up swimming around in circles. But a neoprene suit with a carbon-fibre fin that acts like a rudder is helping Allison swim well again. It's sort of a turtle orthotic; it doesn't replace the fins like a prosthetic would, but it does aid the turtle in swimming by providing stability.

Don't you love feel-good animal stories?


New York church tweeting the Passion of Christ: Main characters use Twitter to tell story of Christ on Good Friday

They also have set up a website that has virtual stations of the Cross.

Granted, I'm not Christian, but I can appreciate the effort they're making to make the story of Jesus more relevant to technogeeks (in a non-threatening, non-proselytising fashion). Check out the transcript of tweets in what is essentially a Passion play.

Friday, April 10, 2009

We made it to the national news

I don't often talk about the place I work by name or give specifics. I'm going to break that trend today. We found out about this last week, but it's made it to MSNBC now, so I feel more comfortable about writing about the specifics.

Facing hard times, Shriners may close hospitals: Donations down for organization that provides free health care to children

The hospitals being considered for closure are: Shreveport, Louisiana (the original hospital); Erie, Pennsylvania; Spokane, Washington; Springfield, Massachusetts, Galveston, Texas (a burn unit that has still not recovered from Hurricane Ike) and Greenville, South Carolina. With the exception of Galveston, all are orthopaedic hospitals.

It's going to be a tough vote, and I'm not sure they'll be able to get it. If not, then the future of the system really is in doubt. But I hate seeing the others close. I've corresponded with other librarians (the one from Greenville especially gets hit with my interlibrary loan requests, and is very prompt and nice about it) over the years, too. Shriners really is a sort of family. Unfortunately, circumstances are making it very difficult to continue to provide free care for burns, orthopaedics, spinal cord injuries, and cleft palate, the areas in which we specialise.

They're doing what they can already, including shutting down some basic research centres, reducing hospital budgets, and reducing some benefits for employees. Everything is going towards trying to fund patient care itself.

In case you're not familiar with what we do, here's a blurb from our web page:
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a one-of-a-kind international health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs.

Children up to the age of 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment at no charge – regardless of financial need.

For more about Shriners Hospitals for Children, see the main page for the hospitals. You can take a virtual tour of our facility, or tour other hospitals in the system, including Springfield, one of those being considered for closure. And not to do a shameless plug, but if you are interested in donating to this worthy cause, you can do so via the Ways to Give page. The charity consistently scores well in terms of percentage of monies that go directly to those served (in this case, patient care) as opposed to marketing and administration.

I've spent the last 12 years of my life working in this environment, and it truly is remarkable and rewarding. But with the future of the hospitals in doubt, I have to admit I am more than a little stressed about my future as well. The last time this came up for a vote it was shot down and there were cutbacks, including in my hours. Without closing the designated hospitals, they may vote to do a 30% cut across the board, with more layoffs--but risk destroying the system's viability itself.

And if I'm stressed, you can imagine that for the employees, families, and patients at these hospitals, it is much worse. We already have patients whose families (or the volunteer Shriner drivers) drive five hours or more to be seen. I know we get people as far away as Chattanooga, for example. I can't imagine driving from South Carolina for a doctor's appointment. That's pretty stressful in itself.

Anyway, I'm hoping for the best, whatever that may be.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A nice surprise

Today is payday at the hospital, so I got up early to check the status of my direct deposit. I found out I had an extra $20 in my cheque, which I can only surmise has to do with the tax rebates that I did not entirely keep up with that were discussed right after Obama went into office.


That means each paycheque is higher (by about $10) than my rent. That hasn't happened in a very long time. (See why I work two jobs? You shouldn't have your rent be more than 50% of your earnings--and I don't have an exorbitant rent--it's less than $500 a month.)

Today I need to pay my rent and I'll have about $30 left over for food until I get paid at the store on Wednesday. So that $20 is much appreciated.

That next deposit from the store should be fairly nice, because I worked 30 hours again this past week, since I stayed so late on Saturday. I only have my electric and phone to pay with that, and then the next week I'll just have the cable bill, so maybe I can get ahead/get a few things I need (like clothes). I also get two more store cheques before the next rent after that, so I'll be on time and in good shape. The only factor I'm not sure of is my taxes, which I need to do this weekend. I'm sure I'll have to pay, but it shouldn't be as bad as last year since I changed my W-4 withholdings at some point in the year. Next year I might even get a refund.

I was on the American Library Association's Connect page (a sort of mini-librarian-only version of Facebook for professional networking) the other day and really started looking into membership in the ALA. I thought it would be too expensive, but they have an option for unemployed/underemployed librarians that is only $46 a year for someone who makes under $25,000, so I qualify. My position no longer requires a Master's (it is preferred, although of course I have an MSLS), doesn't supervise people, and doesn't require state certification (although I have it), so it doesn't fit regular membership requirements anyway.) I haven't been a member of ALA since library school because they didn't have that tier of membership after I graduated, as far as I remember. It's better than the MLA rate, which is also reduced. My MLA membership is vital, but I think I'd benefit from joining ALA as well. It would help me keep up with trends in the general library world and possibly network myself into a full-time job. With the way things are going, that's really more pressing than it used to be.

At the hospital, our benefits are changing due to the recession. This year our co-pays for health insurance doubled. They're eliminating our employee assistance programme, which I've used for medical and legal counseling in the past. They've suspended tuition reimbursement at least for now. There are a few minor ones involving things like our extended illness bank, etc.

The bad news is since I work for a system that relies solely on dues of a fraternity (that is ageing and not replacing members at the rate it needs to) and an invested endowment, the current oeconomic crisis means significant changes for the system. As someone who's already been partly laid off in this position, I'm aware at how little job security I have at the hospital, and it's a source of stress. Nor is the gas station completely secure, either. There's a good chance that the nearby Kroger, as part of its extended remodelling, is putting in a gas station within a couple hundred yards of our store. If that's the case, they may shut us down, and I'm really not sure if I want to go work at another, larger store, although at least there are two within a short distance from home. We'll see. One co-worker was told by a Kroger employee that it could happen as early as October.

Of course, the jobs in libraries (I do keep track of them regularly, and recently) are pretty thin right now, and the competition with the recent graduates of our library school is still a factor. Many librarians who planned to retire are holding on to their jobs. The job market is pretty bleak, and I don't have public or academic library experience so in a way my 12 years in medical librarianship doesn't exactly count, especially as the only people I've supervised are student volunteers, not professionals.

Sigh. It will get better. It has to. But if I lost my job (either of them), I really don't know what I would do. I guess if I lost the hospital job I'd go full-time at the store at least for a time, but I don't think I could make it, even at 40 hours a week, on $8.55 an hour. And if the store shuts down, I'll lose the extra money that keeps me afloat. So there you have it. It's a source of stress, but no different from millions of other people's right now.

Okay, time to get some stuff done before work. Have a good day.

A convergence of observances

Thursday is the first full moon after the vernal equinox, so naturally tonight was the beginning of Pesach (Passover), the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Aegypt under the leadership of Moses (Jewish holidays begin at sunset). Observant Jews celebrate with a seder, or ritual dinner, that includes a narrative of the Exodus story, amongst other traditions.

Coincidentally, this year there was another rite to be observed today--one that only happens once every 28 years. The Birkat Hachamah is a Hebrew blessing of the sun, a prayer to G-d as thanks for creating the Sun (many Jews do not pronounce the name of G-d, YHWH, preferring 'Adonai' ('my Lord') or 'ha Shem' ('the Name'). In English, 'G-d' is a way to reflect this taboo.) The blessing, in my understanding, is recited in years when the sun is thought to come back around to the position it held at Creation, a cycle of 28 years.

Here is the text of the blessing:
"ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם עושה מעשה בראשית"
'Blessed are You, LORD, our G-d, King of the Universe who makes the works of Creation.'

According to Wikipedia, the 'same blessing is recited upon experiencing various natural phenomena, including lightning, comets, and meteor showers; as well as upon witnessing wondrous natural topography, such as great mountains, rivers and vast wilderness.'

See more at: Jews observe sun ritual for first time since 1981: Worshippers around the world pay homage to God with rare blessing

My favourite part of the article was the relation of a story from the 19th century where hundreds of Jews collected in a park for the ritual without a permit in New York City, and two rabbis tried to explain things to a policeman:
'The attempt of a foreign citizen to explain to an American Irishman an astronomical situation and a tradition of the Talmud was a dismal failure,' the Times reported, adding that the officer, wondering 'whether some new infection of lunacy had broken out ... seized the rabbi by the neck and took him to Essex Market Police Court.'

Ah, the years before diversity awareness classes. :)

[photo of the seder table by Gila Brand, used under the GNU Free Documentation and Creative Commons licences]

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The latest YouTube channel to which I've subscribed:


Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the manuscript division of the Library of Congress and its materials, for example:

I particularly like Groucho Marx' letter to Warner Brothers regarding their ownership of the name 'Casablanca'. Nice to know these disagreements aren't limited to the present day. They're really starting to get going now and a lot more is planned. Check it out.

Okay, that's all for tonight. Time for bed.

Ten years ago

this month--April 20th--two boys went into their school determined to kill as many people as they could and win a place for themselves in history. Many have struggled to understand how it could have happened. One of these was Dave Cullen, who introduces his new book, Columbine, in the following book trailer:

I read about the book in an essay in Newsweek called The Columbine Generation, but the video was passed on through Bibliofuture on LISNews.org. Thanks!

You can read more about Columbine at Dave Cullen's Columbine Navigator and the Columbine High School Massacre Wikipedia article.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tumbling to the ground

Scientist was told to remove Internet prediction of Italy earthquake: Researcher forecast L'Aquila tragedy on emissions of radon gas coming from the ground

An Italian scientist, Giampaolo Giuliani, was labelled an alarmist and ordered to take down warnings of a major earthquake to hit on March 29th. His timing was a little off (although I read there was a smaller tremor that day), but he seems to have predicted the L'Aquila earthquake, which killed at least 150 people, injured at least 1,500, and left more than 50,000 people homeless.

In addition to the human toll, the cultural damage may devastating as well:

Historic churches, Roman baths hit by quake: Pope Celestine V was crowned in one damaged basilica — in 1294

Italy quake destroys medieval buildings

At this point there is a desperate search and rescue attempt going on as crews try to uncover survivors in levelled buildings. One site is a dormitory where students are said to be trapped. The quake hit at 3:30 am local time, giving citizens little chance to take cover. Here's a video from ITN:

My thoughts are with those affected by this terrible disaster.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

So tired

Yesterday I worked nearly 12 hours at the store, and then there was the grocery run of doom, which admittedly went faster than normal, but still was tiring. We're talking two full carts.

I went to bed by 1 am and then got up at 4 to work on game notes, finishing about 6. I had to be over to prepare for the game by 7, so I took a quick nap and then went on over. I finished all the preparations for the game early and fixed some food. The only hitch this morning is that a cat nipped me when I trimmed his claws, but it barely broke the skin. The others came over and we had a good session. I helped clean up afterwards and then went on home as a storm was about to break since I had to do my monthly libation tonight. Then I worked on the computer for awhile and now I think I'll get some rest. I may not go to bed just yet, but I definitely want to relax. But first I think it's time for more ibuprofen--I just ate some raisin bran and my tooth really hurts from chewing the raisins. Good night.

I need to go to the dentist

I broke a tooth some time ago and it's really bothering me now, expecially if I bite down even slightly on that side. I'm having to chew on one side of my mouth. As soon as I know my schedule for next week I'm making an appointment. One can only take so much ibuprofen. Of course, this probably means a crown, and they're expensive, but thankfully I have my flexible spending account.

Yay for ergonomics!

I just rearranged my computer desk at home so that it is ergonomically more viable. I had my cable modem, router, and phone on a small table right behind where I sit. Now the cable modem is sitting on the floor, the phone and Vonage router are on the computer desk, the black box of doom (surge protector/battery backup) is under the desk on the left and the computer tower is under the desk to the right, leaving me room for my feet. This solves my cramped space problem and I don't have to type at an angle anymore. I still don't know what one cable goes to. My computer desk itself can't be moved; it's holding up two shelves of books. This is positively spacious!

A fun article

on mediaeval underwear. Yes, really.


1,500-year-old Mosaic Floor Unveiled in Ancient Synagogue Ruins

A Byzantine-era synagogue mosaic that had deteriorated terribly has been restored and is now available for viewing by the public. The pictures that accompany the article show some wonderful details of the mosaic.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I found an interesting blog

called Voyages Extraordinaires. Here is their description:
Voyages Extraordinaires is a weblog for people of intelligence and good breeding who enjoy Victorian-Edwardian Scientific Romances and Retro-Futurism, Victoriana and Neo-Victorianism, Voyages Extraordinaires and Imperialist Romances, Gothic Horror, Pulp Fiction, the Golden Ages of Hollywood and of Travel, silent and early films, points suprêmes and real life adventures into places exotic and historic.

That website also led me to the Guild of Scientific Troubadours, Frankensteinia: the Frankenstein Blog, and Curious Expeditions. All piqued my interest.

I've been expanding my news reader subscriptions beyond library/tech/news to include history, primary sources in European history, and Latin language (I'm rusty in my Latin; I found a podcast series of readings of Latin lessons from a public domain book).

Anyway, that's what I've been doing for the last hour or so; checking up on my reader and finding new subscriptions. I liked the Voyages Extraordinaires blog so much I'm 'following' it through Blogger's system.

Now I'm going to go to bed. I have to get up early to work on game notes and then I'm looking at possibly a 12-hour workday, since no one was scheduled as a second person for tomorrow night and our truck was delayed to Saturday. I'm going in tomorrow at 10 am. I was supposed to leave at 6 pm, but I said I'd stay as long as I could. Depending on how I feel, that might be as late as 10 pm. Then there's grocery shopping of doom to do, followed by more work on notes. Sunday morning will come early, and then the game (yay!) I don't know if I mentioned that we started back up last weekend after a hiatus for remodelling, but we did. I really enjoyed being back together and the campaign continues. My character is badly hurt and I don't know if I'll be able to continue the adventure per se. I'm a little low on characters now. One is on maternity leave with a month-old baby, one is in the belly of Yog Sothoth (don't ask how that happened--it was sheer stupidity), one is away at training, and the rest are in a bubble reality technically not on earth, unable to leave without great danger. My last character created before the one on this mission sacrificed himself to save the world on the Antarctica campaign. Whew!

Speaking of Antarctica, did you see that an ice shelf is about to break away from Antarctica? There's a nice time-elapsed slideshow in that article.

In the slightly-Cthulhoid-or-at-least-vampiric-sci-fi/horror-medicine category, there's also something I came across in the general news, but it was also commented upon by the Guild of Scientific Troubadours. A biotech team in Canada have created a yeast-powered fuel cell that feeds on human blood. Now, the thing is, it was a story that 'broke' on April 1st, and one of the researchers is named Chin-Pang-Billy Siu, which seemed a bit improbable (no offence meant), but the story is apparently legit. This could help power implants in humans eventually.

Speaking of implants, there is also an interesting story regarding a telescopic eye implant the size of a pencil eraser that can help people with macular degeneration see. (Thanks to ScuttleMonkey on Slashdot for the link.)

Friday, April 03, 2009

I had a really good birthday

And no, I'm not still up in the wee hours of the morning--I just fell asleep in the comfy chair and woke up a little while ago and thought I would catch up on some news/blog before going back to sleep.

Let's see. As I told you before, I slept in a little and had a nice bath. I did some web surfing and blogging. Then I went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D (warning, plot section contains spoilers in the Wikipedia article), using a gift card I'd been given for Yule. It was great! And it was so worth the extra $2.50 to get the 3D version. It really looked like you could just reach out and touch some things. 3D has changed a lot from the paper glasses with red and blue lenses. These looked like regular plastic-framed glasses, sort of like a pair of clear sunglasses, and you could recycle them at the end. I'm not sure what you're supposed to do if you actually wear glasses, as I don't know if they would have fit over all regular prescription ones (here's to having just gotten contacts!)

The movie had a decent plot, great special effects, humour for both children and adults, lots of sci-fi references, and even a little character development. How can you go wrong with a 50-foot tall woman (okay, 49' 11 1/2"), a blue blob, a mad scientist cockroach, an oversexed amphibian, and a giant grub, not to mention an evil overlord? They left plenty of room for a sequel as well. Well, as long as one little detail is averted. Oh, and it was so like the game in some ways, like when people get hung up on them destroying the Golden Gate bridge when they saved the world--that sort of thing.

The voice cast all do an excellent job, and the main cast is great, although Stephen Colbert's president tries to steal the show. This is definitely one for getting on DVD, for taking your kids to, for just going by yourself and having fun for an hour and a half, that sort of thing. Be sure to get the glasses if you can.

Then I went over to a friend's house and he took me out to eat at Masala, an Indian restaurant on the southwest side of town. It was great, as always. He urged me to try something new, but I really wanted the pakora, korma, and pishwari naan I normally have. Maybe next time. I have quite a bit left over for lunch tomorrow, too.

I got home a little after 10 and did some things around the house until about 11:15, when my mom called me and wished me a happy birthday. Then I went and got A from work, getting back around 12:30 am and falling to asleep in the comfy chair until about 4:30 am. Now it's time to go to bed.

So it really was a nice birthday. Food, friendship, and giant invading robots. Yay!

PS Here's the trailer for Monsters vs. Aliens for your viewing pleasure:

Not to bore the non-librarians out there

but as a medical librarian, I use PubMed a lot. Really a lot. PubMed is the free, government-based interface for searching MEDLINE and associated databases for articles in the health science literature. There are some major changes to how one searches PubMed coming up. Here's an excellent video showing how to use the new features to replicate what we do now. It is from the Mayo Clinic:

Thanks to David Rothman for including this video in a post.

Michelle Kraft also has an excellent summary post on her blog regarding the new changes. (She has a link to the above video presentation, but I didn't actually see the video until I read David's blog.)

Anyway, if you use PubMed either as a professional librarian, researcher, or just someone looking for health information, you might want to check out the video to learn more about the new Advanced Search on PubMed.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me

So today's my 42nd birthday. Does that mean I get the answers to life, the universe, and everything now? (Sorry, geeky Douglas Adams humour, there.)

So far it's been nice. I'm off both jobs. I slept in until 10 am (normally I have to get up by 9). I took a nice long bath. I've been listening to meditative music and looking up some stuff online. My plan is to take a gift card Margaret gave me for Yule and go to the cinema and watch Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. Later in the evening a friend and I plan to go out for Indian food. Yay for vegetable pakora, korma, and pishwari naan!

Last night I treated myself to two very nice African violet plants from Kroger. One is a dark purple; the other a pretty medium one. They were 2/$5. I think I'll keep them at home rather than take them into the office and see how they do here. They've each got quite a few buds on them. Violets are so perky and uplifting, don't you think? I have one at the office in rest mode (not-presently-blooming) that has white blooms with purple edges, so they're all different.

I came across this true-crime story today (it's several years old now; I think the killing was in 2004)--and yes, I'm a true-crime junkie, I know. I cannot imagine a jury convicting the killer at all. I think justice was served--she plead guilty to manslaughter, was given credit for time served in jail awaiting trial, and was put on five-year probation in lieu of a 10-year sentence. I certainly don't believe she deserved life in prison or the death penalty. In 'He Was Never Going to Harm My Daughter Again', they give the details of the case. It was also presented on the show 'Snapped'. Her teenage daughter had accused her stepfather of sexually abusing her, but he convinced everyone, including the social workers, that she was lying--so well that the daughter was prosecuted for making a false claim. But a year later the daughter, now seven months' pregnant, told her mother about a videotape which the mother viewed which did, indeed, show him to be abusing her daughter. The woman took a 20-gauge shotgun and shot him in the head whilst he slept. Once the police found the tape, they let her go, but prosecutors brought the case forward, eventually making the plea offer, which she took. I think she could have gotten out of it without any conviction--a jury would not have convicted her of either murder or manslaughter for that matter, in my opinion. Especially since 1) her lawyer interviewed his sisters, whom he'd also sexually abused as both minors and adults and 2) the DNA test on the son born to the daughter showed that the stepfather was the father. He was a sick, sick bastard and although I hate to say that some people just need killing, this is a case that would be hard to argue against. I hope the family has been able to get a great deal of therapy. I know there was a potential lawsuit against the professionals who failed to believe the girl and remove the danger of more abuse, but I don't know how that has come out.

I do know I'd never agree to convict her of murder if I were on a jury, given the evidence. Yes, she did it, but given the abuse--both the heinous nature of the abuse against the daughter and then also the isolation and abuse the mother had endured, I can't call what she did cold-blooded murder, although of course she did kill him, and given her mental state at the time, manslaughter is probably appropriate. My opinion would be to let her walk, but I'd have had to have gone with manslaughter given the evidence. One thing I've learnt through jury service is you have to very carefully weigh the evidence and not let emotions sway you. Still, I'm glad I've only served on a civil case and not a murder trial. Not all cases are as easy as this one.

She was just a year younger than me. I understand how isolation and abuse can mess with your psychology--I've been there, trust me--and she's right, emotional abuse leaves some of the worst scars, even though many people see physical abuse as worse than mere words. But that's not necessarily the case at all. In my opinion, sexual abuse is the worst, but emotional abuse is a close second. It erodes self-esteem, changes how a person thinks and interacts, and can make someone nearly incapable of taking their fate into their own hands. But it's so freeing when you do get out from under the abuse, let me tell you. I'm just glad that in my own past I've been able to walk away, cut off ties, and not had to worry about being pursued further. Most abusers are cowards. But then you get the psychos who won't let go and do things like shoot up nursing homes trying to kill their ex-wife, that kind of thing.

And it's not just men--I once got caught up in a scary divorce where the wife snapped and 1) presented a false claim of threat to get an emergency protective order, listing me as a witness when there had been no threat of violence at all, 2) stalked her husband all around town (that EPO needed to be mutual, or at least against her, let me tell you), and 3) she even stole paperwork out of the records office and scribbled madly over the divorce documents, then got the commissioner to try to blackmail me into giving her back a repossessed car (she'd not made payments on) before the divorce could proceed. Fortunately everything worked out well in the end and she was exposed as the psycho crazy woman she was, the husband was able to get his divorce/remarry, and I got to keep the car. Moral of the story, never get involved with crazy people's divorces. By comparison mine was a piece of cake.

Gee, I've known a lot of crazy people in my life, people who make me seem terribly sane and rational. Fortunately they aren't in my life anymore, and let me tell you, that's a blessing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This was a great mix of Dr Horrible and anime

The anime is from 'Death Note'. The song is 'Brand New Day' from Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Actually several 'Death Note' scenes have been woven into videos with Dr Horrible, but this was particularly nice. I haven't watched the anime programme itself; I might check it out.

Sorry I fell off the face of this blog

but I only got 2 1/2 hours of sleep last night and not much the night before, either. Suffice to say I am tired. So I'm going to bed after 12 hours' work with almost no sleep and after doing my level best to make sure that neither YKWIA nor I will get the dreaded Conficker worm computer virus that is supposed to activate on April 1st. I should resume regular blogging tomorrow (assuming my computer doesn't wind up a giant paperweight--here's to Microsoft updates and anti-viral programs). Good night.

A look at how a species deals with handicaps in individuals, even early in its evolution

Deformed Skull Suggests Human Ancestors Had Compassion

Scientists argue that the child's fossilised remains indicate a diagnosis of craniosynostosis, a premature fusing of the bones of the skull which causes pressure to build up in the brain and mental retardation. Since this child was at least five when it died, possibly several years older, it indicates that the child was cared for despite disability for quite some time, at a timeframe of over 530,000 years ago during the Middle Pleistocene. Others argue that other primates do also take care of young progeny with disabilities, so of course these early species of Homo could be expected to. It's an interesting case, though. Here's a link to the scholarly article's abstract.